Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

On defeating censorware

...at work, or if you surf out of a "corrupt, undemocratic, dictator-based government" like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, or the Pentagon, you can reach those blocked sites anyhow.


* Google can act as a lightweight, proxy-like tool for accessing forbidden sites -- but don't rely on this method for anonymity. Link.

* The popular RSS reader Bloglines can offer lightweight help in some cases, too. Boing Boing reader Tom Jeziorny says, "I work for a BIG financial services company that apparently uses (not-so-) SmartFilter because BoingBoing has recently become a forbidden site. I use Bloglines as my RSS reader so that I can access the blogs I read from work and home. It turns out that Bloglines is acting as sort of a proxy, since it connects to your RSS feed and not my computer..."

* A group called Peacefire created proxy software called Circumventor to bypass censorware. Install this software on your home computer and allow others to use your proxy to access the web, or use your proxy from work or school to access any web site. (Thanks, Sean!)

* Bennett Haselton of Peacefire, who developed Circumventor, says:

"For 90% of users in the USA affected by SmartFilter, there is no reason to use anything but Circumventor. The reasons are:

1) It's simple to set up. Just run three simple point-and-click installers. We even have a wizard that comes up automatically to help you set up port forwarding on your router if you've never done it before.
2) You are not required to install anything on the "censored" computer, you just bring a URL in with you to work.
3) It works even if the censored network blocks direct connections to IP addresses outside the network (which would break some of the other solutions recommended in this guide).

"If you're in Iran, Saudi Arabia, or some other country censored by SmartFilter, then your best choices are (a) TOR, or (b) use a Circumventor if you can get someone in a "free country" to set one up for you. (The reason Circumventor works for 90% of workplace-filtered users in the U.S. is that they can almost always set it up on their home computer and take the URL in with them. But not everybody in a censored *country* has someone outside who can help them.)

"Circumventor is the *only* method (as far as I know) that will work reliably on computers where people are blocked from installing their own software (or even changing proxy settings) -- because after you install it on your home computer, all it gives you is a URL, and you can take that URL in with you to work and use it whenever you want. Many people in workplaces and libraries are blocked from installing software on their computers. Or even if they could, it would be a definite 'smoking gun' if anyone noticed that the software had been installed; whereas our software leaves fewer traces. (There is a 'smoking gun' in the form of a URL in the URL history, but that's much less likely to be noticed than a TOR icon on your desktop!)"

* Rich says, "This cgi-bin script is the guts inside Peacefire's Circumventor - a Perl CGI script that proxys for you. While Circumventor is a full script to get it working under Win2k/XP, the cgiproxy script alone lets you get it going on Linux and (presumeably) Mac OSX. And the best part - the setup is dirt simple - if you're already running a web server, pretty much just drop it in your cgi-bin directory.

* Access the TOR network. The more people who run Tor servers, the faster and more anonymous the network becomes.

* Using an SSH tunnel, VPN, or anonymous overlay to an unfiltered network is widely considered to be the best way to protect yourself while accessing "prohibited" content. (Thanks, chris)

* Chris says, "There is a new option in OpenSSH that allows for ethernet level tunneling using the kernel's TUN interface. This is probably the most powerful solution if you have access to a friendly system to use as the end point of the tunnel. Manual for ssh, see -w option: Link. For ssh_config, see Tunnel option: Link. And one more way to use SSH as a tunnel is to with SOCKS: Link. osx example script: Link.

* Breaking out of a Proxy Jail. Link (Thanks, Mutz!)

* Try Daveproxy, and other services listed on the proxy list at samair.ru/proxy together with AntiFirewall (a small app that tests proxies). (Thanks, Joao Barata!)

* Try Java Anonymous Proxy. JAP uses the TOR network, and installation is pretty easy for non-nerds. (Thanks, Jonas)

* The Bitty browser, while not initially designed as an anonymizing tool, has helped some of our readers work around corporate internet filters. (Thanks, Scott Matthews!)

* Some of our readers have found the Coral Content Distribution Network (CCDN) helpful for evading internet blocks. Just add ".nyud.net:8090" at the end of boingboing.net -- for example, instead of typing http://www.boingboing.net to your browser's address line, instead type http://www.boingboing.net.nyud.net:8090. (Thanks, Tian and Michael!)

* Check out the regularly updated list of public proxy servers at publicproxyservers.com.

* For BoingBoing readers in the UAE or Qatar, or other countries where BoingBoing is blocked, one anonymous reader tells us: "There is an internet via satellite called OPENSKY sold through www.broadsat.com which goes around these problems. Using VPN with normal dialup, the signal gets sent back from Europe, so, uncensored. Works really well and is cheap!"

* Andy Armstrong says, "I've also set up a proxy for boingboing at boingboing.hexten.net."

* Ben says, "You can also set your home computer up for remote access. Windows XP has the components built in. If you run XP at home it will take you about 30 min to set up. You can find instructions here. Once you set up remote access you can use Zone Edit freeware to set up a static IP, even if you are on a cable modem. If you really want to go all out register a website for $5 and have that point to the Zone Edit IP address. I can hit my home computer from anywhere with web access, and have its full functionality, including censor-free web browsing."
Unfortunately so can anyone else who has your IP address. Even if you're password protected, you can be hacked.

* Marcus Aurelius says, "This is how I dodged Etisalat's (The UAE ISP and telco) proxy-server blacklist. It is only really useful for text-rich sites since it involves using Lynx a text browser."

* Abdul Aziz says, "It's a pain to know that countries and companies alike are blocking and censoring sites like Boing Boing. I face this at my office everyday. I've mentioned two ways on my site by which you can bypass these proxies and filters safely and securely without breaking any rules or arousing the network admin's suspicions." Link

More on how TOR works here.

The BoingBoing site will apparently keep updating this list of tricks, but remember it's a commercial site, and like Yahoo or AOL or Microsoft, it probably lists software with a few backdoors into your computer. The CIA uses the term "open source" with disdain, because anyone can access the code. Some compilers, like the people who put together the open source browser Firefox, have a good record for producing script that help evade corporate oversight.

Still, use at your own risk, especially if you don't understand the magic words.

Never trust an intelligent object when you can't see where it keeps its mind.

"...so Penguinesque from Batman"

Does it cc to the N.S.A and send your credit card number to the BCCI, too?

A story by Minnesota Public Radio reveals a disturbing new way that a political party is secretly grabbing sensitive personal information about voters.

This week the Minnesota Republican Party is distributing a new CD about a proposed state marriage amendment. Along with flashy graphics, the CD asks people their views on controversial issues such as abortion, gun control, illegal immigration, and so on.

The problem – the CD sends your answers back to headquarters, filed by name, address, and political views. No mention of that in the terms of use. No privacy policy at all. The story concludes: “So if you run the CD in your personal computer, by the end of it, the Minnesota GOP will not only know what you think on particular issues, but also who you are...”

You can bet all those ridiculous CDs AOL constantly sends out do the same sort of thing too. Purely for targeted advertising purposes, of course.

Thanks to Atrios for the link.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Politely Neglecting the 500-lb Gorilla in the Corner of the Room

Dear Leader says:

Our economy is healthy and vigorous, and growing faster than other major industrialized nations...

He says it with sincerity in his voice, and Congress reacts like they believe it.

He says that because when you factor in everybody's income, he's right.

This rosy scenario reports the average and neglects the median and the mode of the data.

The reality's more like Bill Moyers says:

...As great wealth has accumulated at the top, the rest of society has not been benefiting proportionally. In 1960 the gap between the top 20% and the bottom 20% was thirtyfold. Now it is seventy-five fold. Thirty years ago the average annual compensation of the top 100 chief executives in the country was 30 times the pay of the average worker. Today it is 1000 times the pay of the average worker. A recent article in The Financial Times reports on a study by the American economist Robert J. Gordon, who finds “little long-term change in workers’ share of U.S. income over the past half century.” Middle-ranking Americans are being squeezed, he says, because the top ten percent of earners have captured almost half the total income gains in the past four decades and the top one percent have gained the most of all – “more in fact, than all the bottom 50 percent.”

No wonder working men and women and their families are strained to cope with the rising cost of health care, pharmaceutical drugs, housing, higher education, and public transportation – all of which have risen faster in price than typical family incomes. The recent book, Economic Apartheid in America: A Primer on Economic Inequality and Insecurity , describes how “thirty zipcodes in America have become fabulously wealthy” while “whole urban and rural communities are languishing in unemployment, crumbling infrastructure, growing insecurity, and fear.”

Paul Krugman, Princeton Economist, ex-Carlyle Group advisor, agreed this way today:

...Mr. Bernanke [the new chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank] declared that "the most important factor" in rising inequality "is the rising skill premium, the increased return to education."

That's a fundamental misreading of what's happening to American society. What we're seeing isn't the rise of a fairly broad class of knowledge workers. Instead, we're seeing the rise of a narrow oligarchy: income and wealth are becoming increasingly concentrated in the hands of a small, privileged elite.

I think of Mr. Bernanke's position, which one hears all the time, as the 80-20 fallacy. It's the notion that the winners in our increasingly unequal society are a fairly large group - that the 20 percent or so of American workers who have the skills to take advantage of new technology and globalization are pulling away from the 80 percent who don't have these skills.

The truth is quite different. Highly educated workers have done better than those with less education, but a college degree has hardly been a ticket to big income gains. The 2006 Economic Report of the President tells us that the real earnings of college graduates actually fell more than 5 percent between 2000 and 2004. Over the longer stretch from 1975 to 2004 the average earnings of college graduates rose, but by less than 1 percent per year.

So who are the winners from rising inequality? It's not the top 20 percent, or even the top 10 percent. The big gains have gone to a much smaller, much richer group than that.

A new research paper by Ian Dew-Becker and Robert Gordon of Northwestern University, "Where Did the Productivity Growth Go?," gives the details. Between 1972 and 2001 the wage and salary income of Americans at the 90th percentile of the income distribution rose only 34 percent, or about 1 percent per year. So being in the top 10 percent of the income distribution, like being a college graduate, wasn't a ticket to big income gains.

But income at the 99th percentile rose 87 percent; income at the 99.9th percentile rose 181 percent; and income at the 99.99th percentile rose 497 percent. No, that's not a misprint.

Just to give you a sense of who we're talking about: the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates that this year the 99th percentile will correspond to an income of $402,306, and the 99.9th percentile to an income of $1,672,726. The center doesn't give a number for the 99.99th percentile, but it's probably well over $6 million a year...

Why would someone as smart and well informed as Mr. Bernanke get the nature of growing inequality wrong? Because the fallacy he fell into tends to dominate polite discussion about income trends, not because it's true, but because it's comforting. The notion that it's all about returns to education suggests that nobody is to blame for rising inequality, that it's just a case of supply and demand at work. And it also suggests that the way to mitigate inequality is to improve our educational system - and better education is a value to which just about every politician in America pays at least lip service.

The idea that we have a rising oligarchy is much more disturbing. It suggests that the growth of inequality may have as much to do with power relations as it does with market forces. Unfortunately, that's the real story."

Still, you have to be able to understand the concept of average, median, and mode to glean that information. So is it any wonder the education is going increasingly to the best heeled? You can't let the unqualified realize what the game's all about.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Free Trade Fundamentalism & Corporate Dominion

More David Sirota on the Dubai Deal:

...this is about far more than just one deal with one company or one country.

The Bush administration is unquestionably the most corporate-controlled administration in recent history, which means the White House doesn't sound the alarm unless corporate America is sounding the alarm. The veto threat is about preserving the rules of so-called "free trade" that big business relies on to maximize profit and that guide America's global economic policy.

Right now, the White House is putting the finishing touches on one of these free-trade agreements with the Emirates. If security concerns overturn the port deal -- and Dubai Ports World has offered to delay the takeover because of such concerns -- the free-trade accord and a subsequent Mideast regional trade pact will be jeopardized.

Free trade is all about allowing corporations to move capital wherever they please, without regard to the labor, human rights, environmental and -- yes -- security consequences of those moves. Nixing the Emirates port-security deal could set a new precedent, whereby our government would include security precautions in its trade policy and more aggressively regulate commerce based on those precautions.

That shift would create a new standard that could impede the as-yet uninhibited quest for profits. Put another way, trade policy would become not quite as free as big Business would like. Such a precedent would have global implications.

Suddenly, the public might want Congress to re-evaluate corporate subsidies with an eye to security. We might see a push, for instance, to rescind the billions in taxpayer-backed loans Congress provided last year to Westinghouse to build nuclear power facilities in China. The public might demand stricter security standards governing technology transfers and ownership privileges in future trade accords. Again, these moves are basic steps to protect our country -- but they would get in the way of companies who have eyes only for the bottom line.

This is why the president threatened his veto. His reflexes are trained to defend the corporate interests that bankrolled his political career. These are the same reflexes detailed in a September Government Accountability Office report chastising the Bush administration for employing overly narrow definitions of national security to expedite questionable transactions such as the Emirates port deal. Though President Bush won't admit this is what motivates his behavior, others are admitting it on his behalf.

Take Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. Days ago he said of the Emirates deal, "We have to balance the paramount urgency of security against the fact that we still want to have a robust global trading system." He's technically right, of course -- we do have to balance those needs. But coming from him, the comments were telling. Could the Bush administration's skewed priorities be any more visible?

Similarly, the New York Times this week quoted a corporate consultant who says that Congress' concerns about the port security deal are "totally illogical." Why? Because, he says, "The location of the headquarters of a company in the age of globalism is irrelevant." This is free-trade fundamentalism. Companies, of course, can't be blamed for being governed by it -- they are in the business of making money, nothing else. But there is a clear danger to America when free-trade fundamentalism becomes government policy, as it has become today...

Corporations serve a valuable role in a free society when they're regulated.

But when society serves the corporations, it's no longer free.

What John Says

Right here.

Thanks, granny.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Underneath the Flat Earth

Globalization has many supporters, in the sunlit world and underneath.

So does the Dubai Deal:

WASHINGTON, D.C.—To hear the administration and its supporters talk, you'd think the workers in New York ports are carefully vetted by the Waterfront Commission, the ports themselves protected by the ever watchful Coast Guard, and routinely surveilled by U.S. Customs.

In truth,one administration after another has slashed the operational capability of the Coast Guard. Reagan even contemplated its privatization by a major defense firm. As for the Customs Service, it inspects as little as 5 percent of the cargo going through the New York ports.

This is a dream setup for any arms or dope dealer, and that's exactly what the United Arab Emirates is all about.The ties between its top officials and royal family with the Taliban and Al Qaeda go back at least a decade.

The UAE is not only the center of financial dealings in the Persian Gulf, it is switching central for dope and arms dealing. The dope comes out of Afghanistan into the UAE where tax monies are collected and used to buy arms, which were sent back in for the Taliban. Some of this money is thought to have helped finance the 9-11 attacks. A money trail is set forth in the government's filings in the Moussaoui case.

Long at the center of this operation is the mysterious Russian arms dealer, Victor Bout. The U.N. has accused Bout of providing arms to brutal regimes in Sierra Leone,Angola and to Charles Taylor in Liberia. The Center for Public Integrity, a Washington, D.C. research organization that operates a network of foreign correspondents, published a report on Bout in January 2002, citing Belgian intelligence documents from before the 9-11 attacks it had obtained. These documents reportedly show Bout earned $50 million in profits from selling weapons to the Taliban after they came to power in the late 1990s.

The Center states, "Another European intelligence source independently verified the sales, and intelligence documents from an African country in which Bout operates—obtained by the Center—claim that Bout ran guns for the Taliban 'on behalf of the Pakistan government.' "

Peter Hain, the British Foreign Office Minister for Europe who has led the international effort to expose criminal networks behind the conflict diamonds and small arms trade in Africa, told the Center's reporters, it was clear that Bout's supply of weapons to the Taliban "and to its ally, Osama bin Laden" posed a real danger...

...the United Arab Emirates have been viewed as hub for trade going and coming to Afghanistan, with drugs coming from Afghanistan on their way to the West, and weapons from Bout, going back. While transportation was via Bout's different air cargo interests, it also involved the Afghan state airlines, called Ariana Airlines. The airline was controlled by Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda agents masquerading as Ariana employees flew out of Afghanistan, through Sharjah, one of the emirates, and on to points west.

During the late 1990s Bout's center of operations was Ostend, Belgium, but when he came under pressure there, he left Belgium. The UAE office grew in importance.

Bout used various air cargo outfits. One of them was called Flying Dolphin, which in the early 2000s was owned by Sheikh Adbullah bin Zayed bin Saqr al Nayhan, a former UAE ambassador to the United States and member of the ruling family in Abu Dhabi. He was described by the United Nations as a "close business associate of Bout." According to the December 20, 2000, U.N. report, Zayed's company is registered in Liberia, but its operations office is in Dubai.

Guns, drugs, and money.

My Response to the Flat Earthers: What Goes Around Comes Around

Let me expand upon my response to grannyinsanity about a link to David Ignatius she sent me.

It rapidly goes downhill:

"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." The acidulous wisdom of Mark Twain speaks to us across the ages, and never more than this week during the great congressional mobilization to save America's ports from the dreaded hand of Dubai.

The furor over Dubai is misplaced on so many levels...
Is it? I think not, on many more levels. You're an idiot if you fall for this deal, David.

Congress-critters are egotistic idiots by definition. But the Dubai deal can fold right under the Congressional and Cheneyburton globalists. The globalists could care less about people on the globe. Their priorities lie in padding their own bank accounts.

Ignatius is probably right about one thing. The Emirates may have one of the best and most sophisticated intelligence machines in the world.

Which is why when they participate in funding terror worldwide, and Al Qaeda right here, it's not exactly unintentional. When they promote and bankroll a CIA-connected bank that terrorists worldwide use, it is no accident. Nor is their substantial commercial influence worldwide, which enough to make the flat-earthers afraid to sail off the edge.

Yes, it is the Navy's port of choice in the Middle East. In fact, you could make a good case the whole Iraqi debacle exists to remove a potential threat from the Emirates. The same thing goes for the war Dear Leader, Darth Rumsfeld, and Cheneyburton want to spread into Iran.

Their populace- not their citizens, mind you, since most of their populace has non-citizen guest worker status- is mostly enslaved. Mind you, that's a Clinton era .gov report (if it doesn't get scrubbed soon). Under Dear Leader, the report is much cheerier.

And you're right, David Ignatius, they remove their capital, and the Saudis theirs too, and it would plunge the whole country into the economic abyss.

You know something? We're headed there anyway with these fascists running our economy, and every day we forestall the inevitable by appeasing these theocrats we just dig that abyss a little deeper.

These are the very creeps whose financial weight keeps the development of energy alternatives under wraps.

It's like Sirota says:

...This is where the culture of corruption meets national security policy - and, more specifically, where the unbridled corruption of on-the-take politicians are weakening America's security.

The fact that no politicians and almost no media wants to even explore this simple fact is telling. Here we have a major U.S. security scandal with the same country we are simultaneously negotiating a free trade pact with, and no one in Washington is saying a thing. The silence tells you all you need to know about a political/media establishment that is so totally owned by Big Money interests they won't even talk about what's potentially at the heart of a burgeoning national security scandal.

Explaining Ted Nugent: Just Say "No" to Venison

Science. 2006 Feb 24;311(5764):1117.
Prions in skeletal muscles of deer with chronic wasting disease.
Angers RC, Browning SR, Seward TS, Sigurdson CJ, Miller MW, Hoover EA, Telling GC.

The emergence of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer and elk in an increasingly wide geographic area, as well as the interspecies transmission of bovine spongiform encephalopathy to humans in the form of variant Creutzfeldt Jakob disease, have raised concerns about the zoonotic potential of CWD. Because meat consumption is the most likely means of exposure, it is important to determine whether skeletal muscle of diseased cervids contains prion infectivity. Here bioassays in transgenic mice expressing cervid prion protein revealed the presence of infectious prions in skeletal muscles of CWD-infected deer, demonstrating that humans consuming or handling meat from CWD-infected deer are at risk to prion exposure.

Ed Sullivan & Lawrence Welk, No Doubt.

In the event of all-out nuclear war, the BBC was to distract the nation by broadcasting a mix of music and light entertainment shows, secret papers released by the Home Office reveal.

Hundreds of security-vetted BBC staff and a select band of unnamed radio artistes were to be clandestinely dispatched to transmission sites across the country at the first signs of international tension.

Just before the first missiles had reached Britain, the BBC was to use regional centres in Birmingham, Sheffield, Bristol and Middlesbrough to broadcast a national service that the Government hoped would create "a diversion to relieve strain and stress..."

That's what happens when you live in a country that doesn't care who Jennifer Anniston is dating.

Treason in a Time of War

So says the Pentagon

…the second in command at the Pentagon…said Thursday that people who publicly oppose allowing a Middle Eastern company to take over management of some U.S. ports could be threatening national security.

Thanks to the Pensito Review via BuzzFlash.

Lou Dobbs, your place in the chain gang is waiting.

Friday, February 24, 2006

So... what if the Sunnis didn't do it?

The Sunnis blame, of course, America and Israel for the bombing of the al-Askariyah shrine in Samarra.

Blaming America and Israel only perpetuates the Endless War. Remember who's making all the money off of Endless War? The ones cashing the Blank Check? You can blame George W. Bush and the TheoCon cabal he represents. The death squads Negroponte set up during his tenure in Iraq were likely involved. After all, some people like to kill others. Violently. It's not just a matter of money for them; it's a matter of ghoulish taste.

There are some Iraqi voices that feel the same way about the paid killers Dear Leader has unleashed there.

After the recent criminal attack on the Askariyah shrine in Samarra – which has never been attacked for centuries –, all Iraqis without exception have condemned the attack
. “This is a terrorist act that is aimed to fan a sectarian strife among Iraqis”, said Sheikh Ahmed Daye, member of the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars. The Occupation-appointed president Jalal Talabani said: “We are facing a major conspiracy that is targeting Iraq's unity. We should all stand hand in hand to prevent the danger of a civil war”. Others in the puppet government have pointed the finger at the U.S. Ambassador in Baghdad for inciting the violence and for interfering in Iraqi political and domestic affairs. Thousands of ordinary Iraqis took to the streets throughout Iraq denouncing the U.S. and Israel.

Samarra is like Fallujah. U.S. forces have attacked the Resistance city several times, and Donald Rumsfeld has threatened the city with destruction unless it surrenders. Iraqis believe that the attack is a pretext for the U.S. forces to invade the city. The attack was not something new; similar attacks were perpetuated against other Iraqi cities in the past. These attacks were well-orchestrated to provoke one group of Iraqis against the other, and bring in U.S. forces as “peace brokers...”

Peacekeepers, I'm sure.

Did the private contractors- like Blackwater, DynCorp, or someone else in Dear Leader's employ do this to ignite Civil War in Iraq on purpose?

Connecting Dots

Via shystee:

Lou Dobbs apparently threw the chair at Dear Leader over the Dubai Deal two nights ago.

It's a start. Lou even brought up the Carlyle Group connection. On prime time. CNN.

And it's nice to know that when Cheneyburton finishes building Dear Leader's new camps, they'll be saving Lou a spot along with us citizenship-stripped godless secular humanist Guest Workers.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Summer Camp for Those with the Right Stuff

Winter camp, too, it looks like:

“The administration has not only the right, but the duty, in my opinion, to pursue Fifth Column movements,” Graham, R-S.C., told Gonzales during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Feb. 6.

“I stand by this President’s ability, inherent to being Commander in Chief, to find out about Fifth Column movements, and I don’t think you need a warrant to do that,” Graham added, volunteering to work with the administration to draft guidelines for how best to neutralize this alleged threat.

“Senator,” a smiling Gonzales responded, “the President already said we’d be happy to listen to your ideas.”

In less paranoid times, Graham’s comments might be viewed by many Americans as a Republican trying to have it both ways – ingratiating himself to an administration of his own party while seeking some credit from Washington centrists for suggesting Congress should have at least a tiny say in how Bush runs the War on Terror.

But recent developments suggest that the Bush administration may already be contemplating what to do with Americans who are deemed insufficiently loyal or who disseminate information that may be considered helpful to the enemy.

Top U.S. officials have cited the need to challenge news that undercuts Bush’s actions as a key front in defeating the terrorists, who are aided by “news informers” in the words of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld...

...there was that curious development in January when the Army Corps of Engineers awarded Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root a $385 million contract to construct detention centers somewhere in the United States, to deal with “an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs,” KBR said.

Later, the New York Times reported that “KBR would build the centers for the Homeland Security Department for an unexpected influx of immigrants, to house people in the event of a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention space.” [Feb. 4, 2006]

...There also was another little-noticed item posted at the U.S. Army Web site
[a .pdf document], about the Pentagon’s Civilian Inmate Labor Program. This program “provides Army policy and guidance for establishing civilian inmate labor programs and civilian prison camps on Army installations.”

The Army document, first drafted in 1997, underwent a “rapid action revision” on Jan. 14, 2005. The revision provides a “template for developing agreements” between the Army and corrections facilities for the use of civilian inmate labor on Army installations.

On its face, the Army’s labor program refers to inmates housed in federal, state and local jails. The Army also cites various federal laws that govern the use of civilian labor and provide for the establishment of prison camps in the United States, including a federal statute that authorizes the Attorney General to “establish, equip, and maintain camps upon sites selected by him” and “make available … the services of United States prisoners” to various government departments, including the Department of Defense.

Though the timing of the document’s posting – within the past few weeks –may just be a coincidence, the reference to a “rapid action revision” and the KBR contract’s contemplation of “rapid development of new programs” have raised eyebrows about why this sudden need for urgency.

These developments also are drawing more attention now because of earlier Bush administration policies to involve the Pentagon in “counter-terrorism” operations inside the United States.

The Washington Post has reported that since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the Defense Department has been creating new agencies that gather and analyze intelligence within the United States. [Washington Post, Nov. 27, 2005]

The White House also is moving to expand the power of the Pentagon’s Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), created three years ago to consolidate counterintelligence operations. The White House proposal would transform CIFA into an office that has authority to investigate crimes such as treason, terrorist sabotage or economic espionage.

The Pentagon also has pushed legislation in Congress that would create an intelligence exception to the Privacy Act, allowing the FBI and others to share information about U.S. citizens with the Pentagon, CIA and other intelligence agencies. But some in the Pentagon don’t seem to think that new laws are even necessary.

In a 2001 Defense Department memo that surfaced in January 2006, the U.S. Army’s top intelligence officer wrote, “Contrary to popular belief, there is no absolute ban on [military] intelligence components collecting U.S. person information.”

Drawing a distinction between “collecting” information and “receiving” information on U.S. citizens, the memo argued that “MI [military intelligence] may receive information from anyone, anytime.” [See CQ.com, Jan. 31, 2005]

This receipt of information presumably would include data from the National Security Agency, which has been engaging in surveillance of U.S. citizens without court-approved warrants in apparent violation of the Foreign Intelligence Security Act. Bush approved the program of warrantless wiretaps shortly after 9/11.

There also may be an even more extensive surveillance program. Former NSA employee Russell D. Tice told a congressional committee on Feb. 14 that such a top-secret surveillance program existed, but he said he couldn’t discuss the details without breaking classification laws.

Tice added that the “special access” surveillance program may be violating the constitutional rights of millions of Americans. [UPI, Feb. 14, 2006]

With this expanded surveillance, the government’s list of terrorist suspects is rapidly swelling.

The Washington Post reported on Feb. 15 that the National Counterterrorism Center’s central repository now holds the names of 325,000 terrorist suspects, a four-fold increase since the fall of 2003...

A Defense Department document, entitled the “Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support,” has set out a military strategy against terrorism that envisions an “active, layered defense” both inside and outside U.S. territory. In the document, the Pentagon pledges to “transform U.S. military forces to execute homeland defense missions in the … U.S. homeland.”

The Pentagon strategy paper calls for increased military reconnaissance and surveillance to “defeat potential challengers before they threaten the United States.” The plan “maximizes threat awareness and seizes the initiative from those who would harm us.”

But there are concerns over how the Pentagon judges “threats” and who falls under the category “those who would harm us.” A Pentagon official said the Counterintelligence Field Activity’s TALON program has amassed files on antiwar protesters.

In December 2005, NBC News revealed the existence of a secret 400-page Pentagon document listing 1,500 “suspicious incidents” over a 10-month period, including dozens of small antiwar demonstrations that were classified as a “threat.”

The Defense Department also might be moving toward legitimizing the use of propaganda domestically, as part of its overall war strategy.

A secret Pentagon “Information Operations Roadmap,” approved by Rumsfeld in October 2003, calls for “full spectrum” information operations and notes that “information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and PSYOP, increasingly is consumed by our domestic audience and vice-versa.”

“PSYOPS messages will often be replayed by the news media for much larger audiences, including the American public,” the document states. The Pentagon argues, however, that “the distinction between foreign and domestic audiences becomes more a question of USG [U.S. government] intent rather than information dissemination practices.”

It calls for “boundaries” between information operations abroad and the news media at home, but does not outline any corresponding limits on PSYOP campaigns.

Similar to the distinction the Pentagon draws between “collecting” and “receiving” intelligence on U.S. citizens, the Information Operations Roadmap argues that as long as the American public is not intentionally “targeted,” any PSYOP propaganda consumed by the American public is acceptable.

The Pentagon plan also includes a strategy for taking over the Internet and controlling the flow of information, viewing the Web as a potential military adversary. The “roadmap” speaks of “fighting the net,” and implies that the Internet is the equivalent of “an enemy weapons system.”

In a speech on Feb. 17 to the Council on Foreign Relations, Rumsfeld elaborated on the administration’s perception that the battle over information would be a crucial front in the War on Terror, or as Rumsfeld calls it, the Long War.

“Let there be no doubt, the longer it takes to put a strategic communication framework into place, the more we can be certain that the vacuum will be filled by the enemy and by news informers that most assuredly will not paint an accurate picture of what is actually taking place,” Rumsfeld said.

The Department of Homeland Security also has demonstrated a tendency to deploy military operatives to deal with domestic crises.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the department dispatched “heavily armed paramilitary mercenaries from the Blackwater private security firm, infamous for their work in Iraq, (and had them) openly patrolling the streets of New Orleans,” reported journalists Jeremy Scahill and Daniela Crespo on Sept. 10, 2005.

Noting the reputation of the Blackwater mercenaries as “some of the most feared professional killers in the world,” Scahill and Crespo said Blackwater’s presence in New Orleans “raises alarming questions about why the government would allow men trained to kill with impunity in places like Iraq and Afghanistan to operate here...”

Who is the enemy? Certainly not these good citizens and partners in the War on Terra.

Prelude to the Next Act

While the Internet is still (more or less) free, you might want to keep up with- and download records of- what's happening/ happened in the reality-based world before Dear Leader manages to classify it all.

I recently found Killtown, and you should check it out if you haven't seen it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Security Preznit

The Central Intelligence Agency did not target Al Qaeda chief Osama bin laden once as he had the royal family of the United Arab Emirates with him in Afghanistan, the agency's director, George Tenet, told the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States on Thursday.

Had the CIA targeted bin Laden, half the royal family would have been wiped out as well, he said...

Richard Clarke didn't like them either, but Dear Leader never paid him any mind anyway. Which is basically why 9-11 happened.

Full .pdf from the .gov 9-11 commission site with both Tenet and Clarke here.

The sheiks of the United Arab Emirates have been playing both sides for awhile now.

Apparently Dear Leader's minions didn't think them worth investigating and so ignored the statutes mandating one. Dear Leader is pulling the Sgt. Schultz defense on this one: he knew nothing about it. Of course he didn't, plausible deniability is a good smokescreen.

Thanks to digby , Atrios, and Think Progress for the links.

There's been substantial speculation that Osama bin Laden is dead and the Company is faking his latest messages. Dead? The evidence suggests he's sitting in a palace in Riyadh or Dubai living richly off his fortune, getting wealthier every day of a Long War on Terra. It's a struggle that he'll win as long as we play by his and Dear Leader's rules.

Responding to chicago dyke below: I have a hard time believing he's dead, but a very easy acceptance of the assertion that his communiques are being doctored to fit the Cheneyburton Company propaganda mainline.

And finally one more addendum to this post: Lambert's thinking that the easy ride the Emirs are getting is a reciprocal deal where we outsource torture to them too. Nice bunch of guys, eh?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Would You Buy a Used Camel From This Man?

Dear Leader is pissed.

He'll veto anything an upstart Congress sends him about the Dubai Port deal.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 — President Bush said this afternoon that he would veto any legislation seeking to block the administration's decision to allow a state-owned company from Dubai to assume control of port terminals in New York and other cities.

Mr. Bush's rare veto threat came as Republican leaders and many of their Democratic counterparts called up today for the port takeover to be put on hold. They demanded that the Bush administration conduct a further investigation of the Dubai company's acquisition of the British operator of the six American ports.

"After careful review by our government, I believe the transaction ought to go forward," Mr. Bush told reporters who were traveling with him on Air Force One to Washington, according to news agencies. "I want those who are questioning it to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company..."

Might it have something to do with the UAE government (who owns the company) laundering money for Al Qaeda? That and the fact that the British have shown unconditional support of our government since 1914? It's that pesky history thing. No wonder Dear Leader's trying to erase it.

Let's continue. The New York Pravda, is after all a Carlyle Group tool, so it shouldn't take it long to back into the corporatist mainline about all of this.

And it doesn't:

...The confrontation between Mr. Bush and his own supporters escalated rapidly after the Senate Republican leader, Bill Frist, and the House speaker, J. Dennis Hastert, joined Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Gov. George E. Pataki and a host of other Republicans in insisting that the transaction must be extensively reviewed, if not killed. That put them on essentially the same side of the issue as a chorus of Democrats [boo! hiss!] , who have seized on the issue [the opportunists!] to argue that Mr. Bush was ignoring a potential security threat.

The White House appeared stunned by the uprising
[poor Dear Leader], over a transaction that they considered routine [Dear Leader kisses Saudi ass on a daily basis] — especially since China's biggest state-owned shipper runs major ports in the United States, as do a host of other foreign companies...

Now this isn't a number one great idea, but hey, even in Korea and Viet Nam, the Chinese never targeted American civilians. Nor have they ever financially supported anyone who did. Unlike Bandar Bush. Unlike the United Arab Emirates. And speaking of the UAE and shady business deals, does BCCI mean anything?

China never did anything like that...

But back to the Corporate Mainline from Pravda:

The ... firestorm of opposition to the deal drew a similarly intense expression of befuddlement by shipping industry and port experts.

The shipping business, they said, went global more than a decade ago and across the United States, foreign-based companies already control more than 30 percent of the port terminals.

That inventory includes APL Limited, which is controlled by the government of Singapore, and which operates terminals in Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, and Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Globally, 24 of the top 25 ship terminal operators are foreign-based, meaning most of the containers sent to the United States leave terminals around the world that are operated by foreign government or foreign-based companies.

"This kind of reaction is totally illogical," said Philip Damas, research director at Drewry Shipping Consultants of London. "The location of the headquarters of a company in the age of globalism is irrelevant..."

Assuming, of course, the company isn't a front for funneling religious fanatics into the country and being used by other companies who want some of that blank check for endless war.

Globalization's funny like that.

Mr. Bush's aides defended their decision, saying the company, Dubai Ports World, which is owned by the United Arab Emirates, would have no control over security issues.

Some administration officials, refusing to be quoted by name, suggested that there was a whiff of racism in the objections to an Arab owner taking over the terminals.
[Oh that must be it- racism! That's the ticket! And they should know bigotry when they see it! The DINOcrat dogs will salivate to the bell for sure!] The current operator of the six American terminals, P&O Port, is owned by the British company that Dubai Ports World is acquiring. The ports include those in New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia, as well as New York...

In Blue cities, all. Of course. Why not Houston, too?

Finally, Darth Rumsfeld weighs in on it:

At the Pentagon today, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld praised the Arab country as an important strategic military partner.

"Nothing changes with respect to security under the contract," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "The Coast Guard is in charge of security, not the corporation."

"We all deal with the U.A.E. on a regular basis," he added. "It's a country that's been involved in the global war on terror..."

Yes indeed, and they're making money on both sides of it, just like you and Dear Leader.

Just to ensure the right arrangements get made, of course, it helps to have a man on the inside. They've got a couple at least:

One is Treasury Secretary John Snow, whose agency heads the federal panel that signed off on the $6.8 billion sale of an English company to government-owned Dubai Ports World - giving it control of Manhattan's cruise ship terminal and Newark's container port.

Snow was chairman of the CSX rail firm that sold its own international port operations to DP World for $1.15 billion in 2004, the year after Snow left for President Bush's cabinet.

The other connection is David Sanborn, who runs DP World's European and Latin American operations and was tapped by Bush last month to head the U.S. Maritime Administration...

They're totally disinterested except for the stock options.

But isn't it an ownership society?

How to Use a Shotgun like a Smokescreen

WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 — In a seven-year-old secret program at the National Archives, intelligence agencies have been removing from public access thousands of historical documents that were available for years, including some already published by the State Department and others photocopied years ago by private historians.

The restoration of classified status to more than 55,000 previously declassified pages began in 1999, when the Central Intelligence Agency and five other agencies objected to what they saw as a hasty release of sensitive information after a 1995 declassification order signed by President Bill Clinton. It accelerated after the Bush administration took office and especially after the 2001 terrorist attacks, according to archives records.

But because the reclassification program is itself shrouded in secrecy — governed by a still-classified memorandum that prohibits the National Archives even from saying which agencies are involved — it continued virtually without outside notice until December. That was when an intelligence historian, Matthew M. Aid, noticed that dozens of documents he had copied years ago had been withdrawn from the archives' open shelves.

Mr. Aid was struck by what seemed to him the innocuous contents of the documents — mostly decades-old State Department reports from the Korean War and the early cold war. He found that eight reclassified documents had been previously published in the State Department's history series, "Foreign Relations of the United States."

"The stuff they pulled should never have been removed," he said. "Some of it is mundane, and some of it is outright ridiculous."

After Mr. Aid and other historians complained, the archives' Information Security Oversight Office, which oversees government classification, began an audit of the reclassification program, said J. William Leonard, director of the office.

Mr. Leonard said he ordered the audit after reviewing 16 withdrawn documents and concluding that none should be secret.

"If those sample records were removed because somebody thought they were classified, I'm shocked and disappointed," Mr. Leonard said in an interview. "It just boggles the mind..."

A group of historians, including representatives of the National Coalition for History and the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations, wrote to Mr. Leonard on Friday to express concern about the reclassification program, which they believe has blocked access to some material at the presidential libraries as well as at the archives.

Among the 50 withdrawn documents that Mr. Aid found in his own files is a 1948 memorandum on a C.I.A. scheme to float balloons over countries behind the Iron Curtain and drop propaganda leaflets. It was reclassified in 2001 even though it had been published by the State Department in 1996.

Another historian, William Burr, found a dozen documents he had copied years ago whose reclassification he considers "silly," including a 1962 telegram from George F. Kennan, then ambassador to Yugoslavia, containing an English translation of a Belgrade newspaper article on China's nuclear weapons program.

Under existing guidelines, government documents are supposed to be declassified after 25 years unless there is particular reason to keep them secret. While some of the choices made by the security reviewers at the archives are baffling, others seem guided by an old bureaucratic reflex: to cover up embarrassments, even if they occurred a half-century ago...

Among ten thousand harmless documents reclassified, there is likely one document Dear Leader's criminal syndicate would find embarassing. This is a shotgun smokescreen. There are so many items reclassified it's impossible to know what might be the critical document to unearth some very unpleasant facts. It would be impossible if you didn't know what to look for, that is.

Take, for example, the evidence that the Gulf of Tonkin incident was fabricated to propel us into VietNam.

Take, for example, the evidence that the Defense Department planned fake terrorist attacks on American soil to rouse the public against the scapegoat nations du jour: Operation Northwoods.

Take, for example, the MK-Ultra operations. In fact, the original .pdf links that were on the web are now gone. You have to go to private sites (hey- i represent that) to find them.

There's a lot more, from the land where tinfoil thickens into kelvar.

And you thought this was going to be about Rove using Cheney's accident as a diversion to get attention away from the NSA snooping, didn't you?

Monday, February 20, 2006

"I'm a lifelong Republican and I think the President's gone insane"

How, asks Gadiel, whose son James died in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, can a company owned by a terror-linked country get control of our nation's ports?

"I'm a lifelong Republican and I think the President's gone insane," said Gadiel, 58, who heads 9/11 Families for a Secure America.

Two of the 19 9/11 hijackers were citizens of Dubai, the Arab emirate whose bid to run ports in New York, New Jersey and four other cities was okayed by the White House even though investigators have found signs that money used to finance terrorism flowed through Dubai banks.
Details here.

"How the hell could this happen?" fumed Bill Doyle, 58, a retired Staten Island stockbroker whose son Joseph also died when the Trade Center fell...

Welcome to the desert of the real, gentlemen.

Dear Leader isn't insane, sirs. He's just part of his family business, and the business has a plan. They're all on a mission from God- just ask them.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

They're Thinking, There Goes the Neighborhood...

Astronomers searching for advanced life beyond Earth should focus their attention around beta CVn, a binary star roughly 26 light-years away that resembles our own Sun.

The recommendation comes from a shortlist of likely life-bearing systems compiled by Margaret Turnbull, at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, and presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in St Louis, Missouri, US.

She adds that researchers looking for any kind of life - including basic forms that could not send communications to Earth - should take a particularly close look around another star epsilon Indi A.

Both the stars share similar traits, Turnbull says: "They're mature, very stable, calm stars. They're stars that are acting like they're taking care of someone."
Planetary picks

Turnbull began her analysis by looking at thousands of stars in a catalogue of stellar distances measured by the Hipparcos mission. In 2003, she had narrowed the list down to 30 stars that might harbour planets in so-called "habitable zones".

One star, 37 Gem, topped the list at that point. But Turnbull has now refined the criteria, meaning 37 Gem does not make the new shortlist of 10 stars. She says 37 Gem is simply further away from the now higher-ranking stars, making it more difficult for scientists to observe clearly.

The rationale for the stellar shortlist, says Turnbull, is to answer the question of "which stars are the absolute best ones for us to spend our telescope time on?" And she notes: "This all comes down to what we know about life on Earth..."

What we know about life on earth? Now that's a scary thought.

At 26 light-years away, if they're listening with better ears than we have, they'll be watching to see whether we elect Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan this fall.

Bad choices, radiating out to the galaxy at the speed of light, are bound to get us talked about.

By our standards, 26 light years is a long way using the speed limit in this bubble of the multiverse. Forewarned is forearmed. They don't need to bother with us if they get around using shortcuts. It doesn't look like we're going to go looking for them any time soon:

A planned life-hunting project is NASA's Terrestrial Planet Finder, would look for life by imaging forms potentially habitable planets. That might reveal life that does not deliberately send any signals off their home planet.

But the mission, which some anticipated would launch in 2014, has been postponed due to cuts in NASA's science budget proposed by US President George W Bush on 6 February 2006. "TPF is essentially shelved," says Turnbull.

The budget cuts would mean that NASA's 2007 budget for astrobiology would be 50% of that in 2005, according to Jill Tarter of the SETI Institute.

It's because it's astrobiology. Dear Leader just knows any astrobiologist is also an astro secular humanist. Or is that a secular alienist?

If Big Time Dick thought they had oil you can bet Halliburton would be sending Dyncorp Special Op bots out to offer them a contract. Bechtel would be offering to build nukular reactors and the IAEA would be insisting they allow Carlyle Group operativesinspectors in to assess them. All the more reason for any aliens to avoid publically contacting us problem children any time soon.

It Makes You Wonder

How many of the physicians vocally skeptical of the benefits of vitamin D and calcium supplements in osteoporosis make a buck somewhere somehow off of Fosamax sales?

And how do the stats for the Women's Health Initiative change if you eliminate data gathered by these people? Yeah, I know, it's a subgroup, isn't it?

Science and Wreality-based Scientificality

It's not just the moonbats of the progressive blogsphere that have issues with the perception thing of the Bu$h family.

ST. LOUIS, Feb. 18 — David Baltimore, the Nobel Prize-winning biologist and president of the California Institute of Technology, is used to the Bush administration misrepresenting scientific findings to support its policy aims, he told an audience of fellow researchers Saturday. Each time it happens, he said, "I shrug and say, 'What do you expect?' "

But then, Dr. Baltimore went on, he began to read about the administration's embrace of the theory of the unitary executive, the idea that the executive branch has the power or even the obligation to act without restraint from Congress. And he began to see in a new light widely reported episodes of government scientists being restricted in what they could say in public.

"It's no accident that we are seeing such an extensive suppression of scientific freedom," he said. "It's part of the theory of government now, and it's a theory we need to vociferously oppose." Far from twisting science to suit its own goals, he said, the government should be "the guardian of intellectual freedom."

Dr. Baltimore spoke at a session here at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Though it was organized too late for inclusion in the overall meeting catalogue, the session drew hundreds of scientists who crowded a large meeting room and applauded enthusiastically as speakers denounced administration policies they said threatened not just sound science but also the nation's research pre-eminence...

Another speaker, Susan F. Wood, former director of the office of women's health at the Food and Drug Administration, said administration interference with the agency's scientific and regulatory processes had left morale there at a "nadir."

Dr. Wood, who received a standing ovation from many in the audience, resigned in August to protest agency officials' unusual decision to overrule an expert panel and withhold marketing approval for Plan B, the so-called morning after pill, a form of emergency contraception. She said she feared that competent scientists would leave rather than remain at an agency where their work was ignored because "social conservatives have extreme undue influence."

Later, in response to a question, she said that she might have consulted the agency's inspector general over the Plan B decision, but that inspectors general often had to be prodded by Congress before taking action. Democrats have little power in this Congress, she said, and Republicans who care about science have been "remarkably silent."

Others in the audience said efforts to stifle researchers were attacks on more than science.

"Administrative legitimacy has been violated as much as scientific legitimacy," said Sheila Jasanoff, an expert on science policy who teaches at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. "You can't get the most solid possible basis for making a decision unless you have not just the most credible and legitimate form of science but also the most credible and legitimate administrative process."

Leslie Sussan, a lawyer with the Department of Health and Human Services who emphasized that she was speaking only for herself, drew applause when she said she saw the administration's science policies as "an attack on the rule of law as a basis for self-government and democracy."

Rule of law? Self-government? Democracy?

That's so pre 9-11 thinking.

Dear Leader knows what scientists are really doing with all their National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation money.

Lying about global warming as an attack on God-fearing Free Enterprise and trying to clone dinosaurs!

How does he know this? Look who he looks to get advice from (links are mine):

...Michael Crichton, whose 2004 best-selling novel, "State of Fear," suggests that global warming is an unproven theory and an overstated threat.

...Bush as "a dissenter on the theory of global warming," ... "avidly read" the novel and met the author after Karl Rove, his chief political adviser, arranged it. ... Bush and his guest "talked for an hour and were in near-total agreement."

"The visit was not made public for fear of outraging environmentalists all the more..."

And so it has, fueling a common perception among environmental groups that Mr. Crichton's dismissal of global warming, coupled with his popularity as a novelist and screenwriter, has undermined efforts to pass legislation intended to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, a gas that leading scientists say causes climate change.

Mr. Crichton, whose views in "State of Fear" helped him win the American Association of Petroleum Geologists' annual journalism award this month, has been a leading doubter of global warming and last September appeared before a Senate committee to argue that the supporting science was mixed, at best.

"This shows the president is more interested in science fiction than science," Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, said after learning of the White House meeting. Mr. O'Donnell's group monitors environmental policy.

"This administration has put no limit on global warming pollution and has consistently rebuffed any suggestion to do so," he said.

Michael Crichton again? This isn't the first time his face has been associated with the White House. This fool gives his weighty personage to tell anyone what his oil company patrons want to hear said.

Mother Jones has tallied some 40 ExxonMobil-funded organizations that either have sought to undermine mainstream scientific findings on global climate change or have maintained affiliations with a small group of “skeptic” scientists who continue to do so. Beyond think tanks, the count also includes quasi-journalistic outlets like Tech CentralStation.com (a website providing “news, analysis, research, and commentary” that received $95,000 from ExxonMobil in 2003), a FoxNews.com columnist, and even religious and civil rights groups.
In total, these organizations received more than $8 million between 2000 and 2003 (the last year for which records are available; all figures below are for that range unless otherwise noted). ExxonMobil chairman and CEO Lee Raymond serves as vice chairman of the board of trustees for the AEI, which received $960,000 in funding from ExxonMobil. The AEI-Brookings Institution Joint Center for Regulatory Studies, which officially hosted Crichton, received another $55,000.
When asked about the event, the center’s executive director, Robert Hahn—who’s a fellow with the AEI—defended it, saying, “Climate science is a field in which reasonable experts can disagree.” (By contrast, on the day of the event, the Brookings Institution posted a scathing critique of Crichton’s book.)

During the question-and-answer period following his speech, Crichton drew an analogy between believers in global warming and Nazi eugenicists. “Auschwitz exists because of politicized science,” Crichton asserted, to gasps from some in the crowd. There was no acknowledgment that the AEI event was part of an attempt to do just that: politicize science.
The audience at hand was certainly full of partisans. Listening attentively was Myron Ebell, a man recently censured by the British House of Commons for “unfounded and insulting criticism of Sir David King, the Government’s Chief Scientist.” Ebell is the global warming and international policy director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), which has received a whopping $1,380,000 from ExxonMobil. Sitting in the back of the room was Christopher Horner, the silver-haired counsel to the Cooler Heads Coalition who’s also a CEI senior fellow. Present also was Paul Driessen, a senior fellow with the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow ($252,000) and the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise ($40,000 in 2003).
Saying he’s “heartened that ExxonMobil and a couple of other groups have stood up and said, ‘this is not science,’” Driessen, who is white, has made it his mission to portray Kyoto-style emissions regulations as an attack on people of color—his recent book is entitled Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death (see “Black Gold?”). Driessen has also written about the role that think tanks can play in helping corporations achieve their objectives. Such outlets “can provide research, present credible independent voices on a host of issues, indirectly influence opinion and political leaders, and promote responsible social and economic agendas,” he advised companies in a 2001 essay published in Capital PR News. “They have extensive networks among scholars, academics, scientists, journalists, community leaders and politicians…. You will be amazed at how much they do with so little.”

When you're a has-been hack whose novels don't sell to the public at large, it helps if your patrons produce "bulk orders" that get you read by their own think tanks at least.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Funny Things About the War on Terra

Steve Clemmons notices:

One of the odd but real consequences of Bush's power is that Americans well, some of us anyway seem to be perceiving other world leaders through a Bush-modeled prism. This is particularly the case with Iran's populist demogogue president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad is clearly hell-bent on creating collisions -- first with Israel, less over its existence than in wanting to do some regional head-butting to establish Iran as a hegemonic rival and in order to embarrass and emasculate Egypt's and Jordan's Muslim leaders. Secondly, Ahmadinejad wants a collision with the West over Iran's nuclear activities to legitimate his revolutionary faction as the authentic national voice of Iran.

But what is strange is that there are numerous forces inside Iran working overtime to impede Ahmadinejad from fulfilling his ambitions -- while America and Europe are doing much to empower him and give him exactly what he wants.

The question of checks-and-balances in Iran is important -- whether they are theocratic or democratic institutions. We need to understand how executive authority in Iran flows -- or Europe and the U.S. may, out of ignorance, empower Iran's president while undermining other players who keep the blustery rhetoric of Ahmadinejad just that.

This fiery, anti-Israel, nuclear-obsessed President in Iran failed to get his preferred Oil Minister past the Majles-e-Shura-ye-Eslami, or Islamic Consultative Assembly three times. Finally, he had to compromise with other power centers in Iran's government -- who wanted competent manager in that post rather than one of Ahmadinejad's retainers...

Some enemies seem to be useful indeed.

Holocaust Deniers Right Here at Home

Jay Taber points to an incredibly disinformational post over at the History Network website, "Were American Indians the Victims of Genocide?". I won't link to it directly, not wanting to give them any more hits. The consensus of the author is that they weren't. Read what Jay has to say about it.

That the History Network, a mainstream educational group could allow statements like this to appear for public consumption is a harbinger of the times.

They might as well pack it up and move to Iran or Saudi Arabia.

The terrorists have won again.

Education is Ignorance and other Corporate Truthiness

Corporate America's education myth by David Sirota

The New York Times has a piece today on the latest myth being peddled by our government and the corporate interests who run it. It goes something like this: job outsourcing and declining wages is happening in America because Americans are getting more stupid, and thus the only way for America to stop the bleeding is to produce more students educated in science and math. This is a brilliantly crafted storyline because it both reinforces Americans' concerns about its public school system and, more importantly, distracts from the corporate-written trade policies that are really at the heart of America's economic problems. Oh yeah, one other thing - the storyline is also a shameless lie.

The Times' piece describes a new report showing that many major corporations - who continue to pocket billions in American-taxpayer-funded corporate welfare - are going to be shifting research and development jobs overseas to places like China and India. The Times obediently reports without any question at all that "the study contended that lower labor costs in emerging markets are not the major reason for hiring researchers overseas." We shouldn't be surprised at that - corporate executives are smart enough to know how to lie. And they are lying.

If you take 2 minutes and actually think about what's going on, you will realize the painful intellectual acrobatics it takes to try to claim otherwise. Low wages - and the trade policy that forces Americans to compete with low wages - is at the heart of this, nothing else.

Think for a moment about this education argument. The United States has the best universities in the world. While our education system certainly needs upgrading, the concept that we are not producing enough good graduates for R&D jobs is just silly. And the idea that India and China have better schools producing better-trained workers is also ridiculous. These countries may be quickly developing - but last I checked, most of the world's most prominent technical colleges and universities are here in the good old U.S. of A.

So now think like a corporate executive trying to maximize profits. You have one set of R&D workers here in the United States, and another set of less-skilled, less-educated R&D workers in the developing world. You can do one of two things - afford to pay fewer workers in America. Or, you can go to India or China, spend a fraction of what you'd spend here on wages, and be able to hire an army of researchers. Granted, each researcher overseas might be less-skilled than each researcher in the United States - but the sheer numbers of researchers you can get over there makes the economics of outsourcing work...

...Here's the truth these folks don't want to talk about. We can spend more money and train more science/math graduates, but unless we also train those graduates to accept working at slave wages, free trade makes sure those graduates have to enter into a competition for jobs with oppressed workers in the developing world...

Science training still does that. The scientific establishment works to make monastic tradesmen and women that work long hours with little reward other than the tradesperson experience. Is it any wonder corporations look to exploit them?

Society still looks askance at people who spend energy learning how the world works as opposed to how much they can plunder from it. I'll never forget an old ex-girlfriend laughing in my face when I told her how much I'd be making as a post-doc. It was less than what she made as a receptionist at an advertising firm before she'd finished college. She's the stay-at-home wife of a Wall Street hedge fund manager living in the Long Island suburbs spending the millions her husband makes and probably very satisfied with her life even though every cent she spends is legally exploited from others.

Most people just don't think that deeply with their conscious mind.

The unconscious disquiet is there, though. It leads to a fanatic devotion to religion in some. It's a disquiet effectively manipulated for the War on Terra. Seeing to the roots of it is something you just don't do in polite society.

It doesn't matter to most Americans that few know how to produce, or create, or analyze anything not related to manipulating others in order to make the most money.

The ruling Party has the nation led back to the Root, Hog, or Die ethic. It's no longer a world of limitless resources, but that's something they're in denial about. After all, you can take what you need, whether its native American oil rights or land in the Middle East. When the inevitable Malthusian crisis of this ethic develops, it will be like Easter Island when they cut the last palm.

Onward Christian Soldiers!

WASHINGTON, DC—In the wake of several major lobbying scandals, the Senate Select Committee on Ethics announced Tuesday that it will hold a special series of intensive sessions inside its recently completed 200-room Ethics Mansion.

...Committee members say the isolated environment allows them to tackle weighty ethical issues without the distractions, temptations, and conflicts of interest that pervade Washington culture.

"When one needs to ruminate on, say, improper gift-giving to government officials by corporations or corrupt foreign officials, it's in the public interest to do so in a quiet retreat," said chairman of the ethics committee Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH), sitting in an overstuffed leather armchair provided by the Ohio Beef Council. "Ideally with an 83-year-old scotch and a good Cuban cigar in hand."

Ah, morality. Where would we be without it. Amoral, one supposes, making decisions without the appropriate compass. A moral compass like Elmer Gantry's.

“This is the year God wants to make you a millionaire.” The visiting evangelist stomped back and forth on the stage of the rented school building. His “hallelujahs” and “praise God” crescendos were followed by jumping up and down. Sweat ran down his face as he proclaimed that the church members would not need to be afraid if the economy collapses and their neighbors houses are foreclosed upon because they are blessed and will have all of their needs met. The service ended with the explanation that the first step to becoming a millionaire is to pledge $200 of “seed faith money” to the church ...

Ted Taggard of mega church New Life Fellowship in Colorado Springs explained that Spirituality is a “commodity “ to be bought and sold...

Obviously, if you have a freelance spiritual moment you're infringing on Somebody's God Copyright and will be contacted by their lawyers.

More about Goodie Ted Taggard's views:

... Free-market economics is a “truth” Ted says he learned in his first job in professional Christendom, as a Bible smuggler in Eastern Europe. Globalization, he believes, is merely a vehicle for the spread of Christianity. He means Protestantism in particular; Catholics, he said, “constantly look back.” He went on: “And the nations dominated by Catholicism look back. They don’t tend to create our greatest entrepreneurs, inventors, research and development. Typically, Catholic nations aren’t shooting people into space. Protestantism, though, always looks to the future. A typical kid raised in Protestantism dreams about the future. A typical kid raised in Catholicism values and relishes the past, the saints, the history. That is one of the changes that is happening in America. In America the descendants of the Protestants, the Puritan descendants, we want to create a better future, and our speakers say that sort of thing. But with the influx of people from Mexico, they don’t tend to be the ones that go to universities and become our research-and-development people. And so in that way I see a little clash of civilizations.”

So the Catholics are out, and the battle boils down to evangelicals versus Islam. “My fear,” he says, “is that my children will grow up in an Islamic state.”

And that is why he believes spiritual war requires a virile, worldly counterpart. “I teach a strong ideology of the use of power,” he says, “of military might, as a public service.” He is for preemptive war, because he believes the Bible’s exhortations against sin set for us a preemptive paradigm, and he is for ferocious war, because “the Bible’s bloody. There’s a lot about blood...”

The Man is the Christ; the Woman is the Body. He is coming; she is the church; she must open her doors. United, they are the Kingdom, ready for battle. “The Christian home,” preached Pastor Ted, “is to be in a constant state of war.” This made many so happy they put their hands in the air, antennae for spirit transmissions. “Massive warfare!” Ted cried out.

The language of the Christian right was, I realized, hardening, collapsing. “Spiritual war,” a metaphor as old as the Gospels, has been invoked for the sake of power before—the Crusades, the conquest of the Americas—but for most of Christian history it has been no more bellicose than “jihad,” a term that once referred primarily to internal struggle. But the imagination of the Christian right has failed, and its language has become all-encompassing, mapped across not just theology but also emotions; across not just the Church but the entire world.

This, incidently, is reportedly one of the biggest Protestant megachurches in America in Colorado Springs.

Baby factory, kindergarten, school, and new home of higher indoctrination for the Dominion.

But back to Karen Horst Cobb on false Christianity:

The Evangelical Christian right is working to insure a manmade apocalypse develops in the Middle east. This powerful political faction runs parallel to the economic foreign policies of the slightly more secular neo-conservative “republican” party which has visions of empire and military rule as outlined in the Project for a New American Century's "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century" [pdf format]. It was written a year before 9/11, and, prophetically, the plan to put bases throughout the Middle East is right on schedule. John Hagee’s latest book is Jerusalem Countdown which can be viewed on his website. Evidently, it presents Iran as a horrible nuclear threat to Israel and the United States. Just for a quick check with reality here is the score on nuclear weapons: Iran-0, Israel-200, US-10,600 (as of 2002). Please explain to me who are these "people of faith” and what do they put their faith in? Experts agree that Iran is at the very least ten years away from obtaining even one nuclear warhead. Ten years is a lot of time to wage peace.

Peace being one of those values you abandon once you take refuge with Jesus the Barbarian.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Glacial Speed Up: Neither Fair nor Balanced in Greenland

The amount of ice flowing into the sea from large glaciers in southern Greenland has almost doubled in the last 10 years, possibly requiring scientists to increase estimates of how much the world's oceans could rise under the influence of global warming, according to a study being published today in the journal Science.

The study said there was evidence that the rise in flows would soon spread to glaciers farther north in Greenland, which is covered with an ancient ice sheet nearly two miles thick in places, and which holds enough water to raise global sea levels 20 feet or more should it all flow into the ocean.

The study compared various satellite measurements of the creeping ice in 1996, 2000 and 2005, and was done by researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and the University of Kansas...

Sometimes the rate of movement in a particular glacier can change abruptly, but the speedup in Greenland has been detected simultaneously in many glaciers, said Eric J. Rignot, the study's author, who has extensively studied glacier flows at both ends of the earth.

"When you have this widespread behavior of the glaciers, where they all speed up, it's clearly a climate signal," he said in an interview. "The fact that this has been going on now over 10 years in southern Greenland suggests this is not a short-lived phenomenon."

Richard B. Alley, an expert on Greenland's ice at Pennsylvania State University who did not participate in the study, agreed that the speedup of glaciers in various places supported the idea that this was an important new trend and not some fluke.

For educational purposes only, let's go to the original paper:

Science 17 February 2006:
Vol. 311. no. 5763, pp. 986 - 990
DOI: 10.1126/science.1121381

Changes in the Velocity Structure of the Greenland Ice Sheet
Eric Rignot1* and Pannir Kanagaratnam2*

Using satellite radar interferometry observations of Greenland, we detected widespread glacier acceleration below 66° north between 1996 and 2000, which rapidly expanded to 70° north in 2005. Accelerated ice discharge in the west and particularly in the east doubled the ice sheet mass deficit in the last decade from 90 to 220 cubic kilometers per year. As more glaciers accelerate farther north, the contribution of Greenland to sea-level rise will continue to increase.

...Repeat-pass airborne laser altimetry measurements (1) showed that the ice sheet is nearly in balance in the interior but its periphery is thinning, with deterioration concentrated along the channels occupied by outlet glaciers (2). The most recent surveys revealed that the mass loss from the periphery is increasing with time, with approximately half of the increase caused by enhanced runoff and half by enhanced glacier flow (3).

Although these airborne surveys crisscrossed a large fraction of Greenland, they left major gaps in glacier coverage, particularly in the southeast and northwest. The mass loss from nonsurveyed glaciers was estimated using an ice melt model, thereby assuming no temporal changes in ice flow. If glacier dynamics is an important factor, the contribution to sea level from Greenland is underestimated using this approach. To address this issue and understand the exact partitioning between surface mass balance and ice dynamics, it is essential to estimate glacier discharge and its variability over time.

Here, we measure glacier velocities using satellite radar interferometry data collected by Radarsat-1 in fall 2000 (4, 5) along the entire coast of Greenland except the southwest (Fig. 1) and repeatedly in spring and summer 2005 along selected tracks covering major glaciers. We also use European Remote Sensing satellites ERS-1 and ERS-2 data from winter 1996 in the north, east, northwest, and central west, and Envisat Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) data from summer 2004 in the southwest. Ice velocity is measured with a precision of 10 to 30 m/year depending on satellite, data quality, and processing and is combined with ice thickness to calculate ice discharge.

Fig. 1. Ice-velocity mosaic of the Greenland Ice Sheet assembled from year 2000 Radarsat-1 radar data, color coded on a logarithmic scale from 1 m/year (brown) to 3 km/year (purple), overlaid on a map of radar brightness from ERS-1/Radarsat-1/Envisat. Drainage boundaries for flux gates in Table 1 are in red. Drainage boundaries with no flux estimates but discussed in the text are in blue. Numbers refer to drainage basins in Table 1

(Table 1 is not shown due to size. Losses in areas and changes in velocity over the last ten years are compared for 31 different glaciers as summarized in Fig.1 above. Likewise, I omit a technical discussion of the changes in the glaciers, broken down by regional differences, and their significance for the change in the ice mass.)

...Greenland's mass loss therefore doubled in the last decade, well beyond error bounds. Its contribution to sea-level rise increased from 0.23 ± 0.08 mm/year in 1996 to 0.57 ± 0.1 mm/year in 2005. Two-thirds of the loss is caused by ice dynamics; the rest is due to enhanced runoff minus accumulation. Ice dynamics therefore dominates the contribution to sea-level rise from the Greenland Ice Sheet.

Glacier acceleration in the east probably resulted from climate warming. Temperature records at Angmassalik (65.6°N, 37.6°E) show a +3°C increase in yearly air temperature from 1981–1983 to 2003–2005. The processes that control the timing and magnitude of glacier changes are, however, not completely characterized and understood at present. Glacier accelerations have been related to enhanced surface meltwater production penetrating to the bed to lubricate its motion (20), and ice-shelf removal (13), ice-front retreat, and glacier ungrounding (21, 22) that reduce resistance to flow. The magnitude of the glacier response to changes in air temperature (surface melting) and ocean temperature (submarine melting at calving faces) also depends on the glacier-bed properties, geometry, and depth below sea level and the characteristics of the subglacial and englacial water-storage systems (3, 20). Current models used to project the contribution to sea level from the Greenland Ice Sheet in a changing climate do not include such physical processes and hence do not account for the effect of glacier dynamics. As such, they only provide lower limits to the potential contribution of Greenland to sea-level rise. If more glaciers accelerate farther north, especially along the west coast, the mass loss from Greenland will continue to increase well above predictions.

References and Notes

* 1. W. Krabill et al., Science 289, 428 (2000).
* 2. W. Abdalati et al., J. Geophys. Res. 106, 33279 (2001).
* 3. W. Krabill et al., Geophys. Res. Lett. 31, L24402 (2004).
* 4. The methodology used to map ice velocity has been developed in the 1990s with ERS-1/2 interferometric phase in north Greenland [e.g., (5, 23)], augmented with speckle tracking data from Radarsat-1 in the 2000s (24) during the background mission of the second Antarctic mapping (25), which we also applied to 35-day repeat ERS-1 data.
* 5. E. Rignot, S. Gogineni, W. Krabill, S. Ekholm, Science 276, 934 (1997).
* 6. P. Gogineni, T. Chuah, C. Allen, K. Jezek, R. Moore et al., J. Glaciol. 44, 659 (1998).
* 7. Snow accumulation averaged for the period 1960 to 1990 is from (12). Surface melt is from a degree day model parameterized with 1960s temperatures (23), which should represent average conditions in 1960 to 1990. These models yield 265 ± 26 km3 ice/year runoff and 573 ± 50 km 3 ice/year accumulation for the 1.7-million-km2 ice sheet, consistent with published estimates.
* 8. A. Luckman, T. Murray, Geophys. Res. Lett. 32, L08501 (2005).
* 9. R. Krimmel, B. Vaughn, J. Geophys. Res. 92, 8961 (1987).
* 10. O. Olesen, N. Reeh, Grønlands Geologiske Undersogelse Rep. 21, 41 (1969).
* 11. R. Thomas et al., Geophys. Res. Lett. 27, 1291 (2000).
* 12. E. Rignot, D. Braaten, S. Gogineni, W. Krabill, J. McConnell, Geophys. Res. Lett. 31, L10401 (2004).
* 13. I. Joughin, W. Abdalati, M. Fahnestock, Nature 432, 608 (2004). [ISI] [Medline]
* 14. A. Weidick, N. Mikkelsen, C. Mayer, S. Podlech, Geol. Surv. Denm. Greenl. Bull. 4, 85 (2003).
* 15. R. Thomas et al., J. Glaciol. 49, 231 (2003).
* 16. T. Clarke, K. Echelmeyer, J. Glaciol. 42, 219 (1996).
* 17. A. Weidick in, Satellite Image Atlas of Glaciers of the World, U.S. Geol. Surv. Prof. Pap. 1386C, C1 (1995).
* 18. M. Carbonnell, A. Bauer, "Exploitation des couvertures photographiques aériennes répétées du front des glaciers vêlant dans Disko Bugt et Umanak Fjord, Juin-Juillet 1964" (Meddelelser om Grønland, Rep. 173, no. 5, 1968).
* 19. E. Hanna et al., J. Geophys. Res. 110, D13108 (2004).
* 20. H. J. Zwally et al., Science 297, 218 (2002).
* 21. R. Thomas, J. Glaciol. 50, 57 (2004).
* 22. I. Howat, I. Joughin, S. Tulaczyk, S. Gogineni, Geophys. Res. Lett. 32, L22502 (2005).
* 23. E. Rignot, W. Krabill, S. Gogineni, I. Joughin, J. Geophys. Res. 106, 34007 (2001). [CrossRef]
* 24. R. Michel, E. Rignot, J. Glaciol. 45, 93 (1999).
* 25. K. Jezek, R. Carande, K. Farness, N. Labelle-Hamer, X. Wu, Radio Sci. 38, 8067 (2003).