Media Revolution

Wednesday, December 31, 2003


Plame Scandal: Ashcroft recuses self; analysis
TalkingPointsMemo.com comment cites this WaPo piece and this Fox news story


Monday, December 29, 2003

Sunday, December 28, 2003


Despite Mad-Cow Warnings, Industry Resisted Safeguards -- N.Y. Times

Though some scientists had long warned that mad cow disease would eventually appear in the United States, cattle owners and meatpackers repeatedly resisted calls for a more substantial program to test for the disease, and the Agriculture Department went along with them. Congress came close three times to banning the sale of meat from downer cows — ones that are too sick or hurt to amble into slaughterhouses — only to see the industry's allies block each of the bills at the last moment. And proposals for systems to track which farms produced sickened cattle — now required in Europe, Canada and Japan — also languished for years here.

"This is one of these times when unrealistic optimism triumphed over responsibility to the public," said Carol Tucker Foreman, a consumer advocate who ran the Agriculture Department's food-safety programs in the Carter administration.

If a number of countries stick with hastily announced plans to ban American beef, she added, "I think the damage to the American meat industry costs infinitely more than anything U.S. cattlemen would have had to pay to do this thing right."


[...]

But a close look at how the crisis developed also reveals broader problems that could complicate efforts to restore consumer confidence and to ensure that no other tainted meat enters the food supply.

The nation's meat inspection system has undergone sweeping changes, with the government shifting much of the responsibility for safety to meat companies.

Saturday, December 27, 2003


Schwartzenegger wants to reduce the prison population and weaken parole
requirements for non-violent convicts.


I've said time and again to friends that Arnie is just a Pete Wilson
clone. I hereby retract that statement. I still am very suspicious of the
man, but this move makes sense on moral and financial grounds. It's
portrayed as only a fiscal decision and there's no overt challenge to the
fact that the U.S. has some of the highest incarceration rates in the
world. But it's still a wonderful thing.

I'm curious how this will play out with other Republicans and with the
biggest lobby in the state (the prison guards' union). Legislative
approval will be needed for some of these changes... will it be
forthcoming?

In what language do deaf people think?


Friday, December 26, 2003


Update on the Plame scandal
New Leaks. Administration continues to investigate itself.


Thursday, December 25, 2003


MAD COW USA


I've been telling friends for a good while that I've been worried about beef because of Mad Cow. Usually they look at me with uncomprehension. But I've based my growing concern on three things:

1) I met a college aquaintence at a party who works in a lab studying the disease; she said it was unsettling how few animals were tested for the disease.

2) I read reports (maybe from Howard Lyman?) about animals falling down being taken to slaughter without testing. Howard Lyman is the "Mad Cowboy"--a rancher gone vegan--whose appearance on Oprah caused both him and her to be sued by the beef industry. I thought he was loopy until I read his stuff. His website is here, check out the Mad Cow factoids page.

3) Finally, in May when the Canadian case of Mad Cow appeared, scientists said it probably was in the United States, as I noted here.

Anyway, read this New York Times article. Skimming it, it might look like not a big deal, but the more attentive you are, the worse it looks. First, note that it says 30,000 animals (of 300 million slaughtered) were tested in the past nine years, a level which would eventually let them find the disease if it were in 1 in 1 million animals. But later it says that over 20,000 animals were tested in the last year or two and that before then, only hundreds were tested per year. Which means low levels were more or less undetectable before. Second, there is the danger that diseased animals were purposefully hidden from inspectors to either keep the money from selling them and to avoid the big fracas that is now set to challange the whole beef industry. Read the very end of the article about the pressure and challenges that beef inspectors face and you may, like me, have serious doubts about the thoroughness of testing to date.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Wednesday, December 17, 2003


Other Blogs
1) Yuck: Give War A Chance
2) Tolerable and interesting: Expat Egghead and Cathy
3) My cup of tea: Moorish Girl

A comment in #1 lead me to #2, who linked to #3.


Sketchy new bullets used by mercenaries in Baghdad
Army Times story here, video demonstration here

Ben Thomas and three colleagues were driving north out of Baghdad in an SUV on a clear mid-September morning, headed down a dirt road into a rural village, when gunmen in several surrounding buildings opened fire on them.
In a brief but intense firefight, Thomas hit one of the attackers with a single shot from his M4 carbine at a distance he estimates was 100 to 110 yards.

He hit the man in the buttocks, a wound that typically is not fatal. But this round appeared to kill the assailant instantly.

“It entered his butt and completely destroyed everything in the lower left section of his stomach ... everything was torn apart,” Thomas said.

Thomas, a security consultant with a private company contracted by the government, recorded the first known enemy kill using a new — and controversial — bullet.

[...]

The frangible APLP ammo will bore through steel and other hard targets but will not pass through a human torso, an eight-inch-thick block of artist’s clay or even several layers of drywall. Instead of passing through a body, it shatters, creating “untreatable wounds.”



Tuesday, December 16, 2003


Baghdad Blogger
In the looters' market, a DVD singing the praises of the so-called resistance is selling like the hot bread of Bab al-Agha [article here, Salam's homepage here]

Baghdad Residents Polled
Baghdad residents think hardships of invasion are worth it to get rid of Saddam, but feel the city is less safe than it was. They definitely don't trust US and British troops.

Indeed, when asked to rate their confidence in eleven listed organization -- such as the Iraqi Governing Council, the new Iraqi army, and the United Nations -- the U.S.-led coalition garnered the least support out of the eleven.

Thursday, December 11, 2003


Great quote from Kucinich in last debate
Regarding the media's pushing of Dean's inevitability

Even the audience seemed piqued by the moderators. They cheered long and loud for Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich after Koppel asked him, given his poor fundraising and standing in the polls, "When do you pull out?"

"When I take the oath of office, when you're there to cover it," Kucinich retorted. "And I can tell you, Ted, you know, we started at the beginning of this evening, talking about an endorsement. Well, I want the American people to see where the media takes politics in this country."

The audience roared in agreement.

"We start talking about endorsements, now we're talking about polls, and then we're talking about money. Well, you know, when you do that, you don't have to talk about what's important to the American people. . . . I'm the only one up here on the stage that actually voted against the Patriot Act and voted against the war - the only one on this stage. I'm also . . . one of the few candidates up here who's talking about taking our health-care system from this for-profit system to a not-for-profit, single-payer universal health care for all. I'm also the only one who has talked about getting out of NAFTA and the WTO and going back to bilateral trade. . . ."

Tuesday, December 09, 2003


NYTimes: Federal Judges Protest Ashcroft's Tough Sentencing Procedures

Israeli Tactics in Iraq, Commandos coming; U.S. Moving to Unconventional Warfare


One step the Pentagon took was to seek active and secret help in the war against the Iraqi insurgency from Israel, America’s closest ally in the Middle East. According to American and Israeli military and intelligence officials, Israeli commandos and intelligence units have been working closely with their American counterparts at the Special Forces training base at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and in Israel to help them prepare for operations in Iraq. Israeli commandos are expected to serve as ad-hoc advisers—again, in secret—when full-field operations begin. [...]

An American who has advised the civilian authority in Baghdad said, “The only way we can win is to go unconventional. We’re going to have to play their game. Guerrilla versus guerrilla. Terrorism versus terrorism." [...]

Former Pentagon Official who served with the Special Forces: "We do need a more unconventional response, but it’s going to be messy."

Compare to this N.Y. Times piece which says U.S. troops are caging in entire villages and adopting Israeli tactics.


What's Driving Dean? Liberal? Conservative? Clintonesque?



I have been interested in Dean for awhile. What almost hooked me was his pamplet, "Common Sense for a New Century." However, I'm no longer starry-eyed: I've dug deeper into his current policy statements and compared them to his past record. He's a strong candidate with some good positions, but he also waffles on things.

First, a quote from Dean's version of "Common Sense." Then some of the other things I've found.
Over two hundred years ago, Thomas Paine wrote a pamphlet that would light the fire that forged our nation. He called it “Common Sense.” Passed from hand to hand, patriot to patriot, it was a call to action for those Americans who believed their government had to change. It spelled out the values of a new republic. And King George III—who had forgotten his own people in favor of special interests—was replaced by a government of, by and for the people. America was born.

Like those early patriots, we face a growing threat to our liberty and justice in America today. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison spoke of the fear that economic power would one day seize political power.

That fear is now being realized—under the Bush administration, pharmaceutical companies draft our Medicare laws. Oil executives sit in the Vice President’s office and write energy bills. A majority of the reconstruction contracts in Iraq goes to corporations headed by campaign contributors to the president.

[...]

In the matter of war and peace, there was virtually no debate by either party before the invasion of Iraq. The Bush administration uses fear to rally people to its causes. Our nation, once looked to as a beacon of hope from around the globe, now is looked at with suspicion and distrust. [More here]



Insight to Howard Dean's position on trade
Because he has waffled on NAFTA and the WTO. Some think he's just plugging for the progessive vote.

Dean's statements rock! on the Media Consolidation issue and Norman Solomon says it's a dangerous course.

Dean: questionable on affirmative action, pro-NRA, and keeping his governor-years records under wraps.

To me, it feels like Dean is balancing some more anti-megacorporation attacks and anti-war attacks with concessions on these hot-button issues. That way, he might win a few white southern guys with those, ahem, flags on their pick-up trucks. So I have mixed feelings.

(The full Confederate flag quote is here, by the way. Here's an earlier version--scroll to May 9. It really doesn't sound that bad, his point is a good one.)

BUT MAYBE WE SHOULD HEED THIS COLLECTION OF ARTICLES WHICH SHOW HIS LIBRALISM, TO THE EXTENT THAT IT'S THERE, IS A RECENT "CONVERSION"

[T]he most traditional strategy for Democrats and Republicans alike is to position oneself to appeal to party regulars in order to win the nomination ("liberals" for Democrats, "conservatives," or "radical right" for Republicans), and then shift to the center (or beyond) to try to win the election. [From here.]

Vermonters think there is considerable evidence that this is what Dean has been doing. His Vermont years also hint at a not-so-amazing record on bringing health care and evidence that Dean will support or expand the Drug War. Furthermore, this article says that, "Dean's approach to criminal justice is regressive and draconian."

Howard Dean the liberal, anti-war candidate?

In regards to war, here's Dean's quote from the last debate for the year: Dr. Dean, noting his own opposition to the war, said the United States was now "stuck" in Iraq and would have to keep its troops there for several years, "until the Iraqis really are able to have a democracy which is strong enough not to allow Al Qaeda to emerge."

And then there's this slam of his environmental record: Dean's not Green
"Dean's attempts to run for president as an environmentalist is nothing but a fraud."

And he support's Israel's hardline military actions.
“I’ve been very clear, I support the targeted assassinations,” he said. “These are enemy combatants in a war; Israel has every right to shoot them before they can shoot Israelis.”


Or is he just being necessarily political? He thinks the US should be even-handed in treating Israel and Palestine, and he drew criticism for this. More on this.

UPDATE: Here is a thoughtful and positive article about Dean. Good material here I hadn't heard before. Isn't fawning (author has his differences w/ Dean). Gives a positive spin to Dean's history before and after politics. It rebukes some of the criticisms that are cited above. Some of the "negatives" that have been leveled at him are just that the "strengths" weren't good enough. He champions universal health care, but only got it for children in Vermont. Well, look at Texas! And I think it's funny that people say he's "not liberal" because he balanced the budget of Vermont! This whole notion that "liberal" means spendy and "conservative" means fiscally responsible should have gone out the window with Reagan and been buried with the deficits of G.W. Bush. The "not anti-war enough" stance people take is actually not one I agree with: I agree with Dean, we can't just bail from Iraq. Anyway, my pendulum is swinging back towards support. I mean, for heaven's sakes, look at Dean's "16 QUESTIONS FOR PRESIDENT BUSH." It's not unqualified support, because of his support of Israel's tactics and his questionable environmental record. But maybe he's the best we've got.
QUOTE FROM ARTICLE: Dean’s big draw is that he’s really a centrist who falls on either side of litmus test issues comfortably and unapologetically. This to me is the mark of an independent-minded person with real scruples. I think his apparent honesty, coupled with his often conservative bent on some issues, should serve to draw many “Reagan Republicans” back to their roots. I may be wrong, but the guy’s either for real, or he’s the best bullshitter in the political history of America. I hope the former is the case.

Dean press conference on Iraq back in Sept '02. One supporter claims "he starts talking about Iraq a couple of minutes into the video. I think it shows a consistency and a clear-headedness which his opponents are trying to muddle by distorting the facts."

Thursday, December 04, 2003


Not news so much, just interesting: an online Body Language Dictionary
Although it does mention a scary, a new tool for the cops: mind reading

Brain-fingerprinting. An experimental technique called MERMER (Memory and Encoding Related Multifaceted Electroencephalographic Responses) for detecting information related to events subjects have experienced (despite efforts to conceal that knowledge) was detailed in the Journal of Forensic Sciences ("Using Brain MERMER Testing to Detect Knowledge Despite Efforts to Conceal," January, 2001, Vol. 46, No. 1, pp. 1-9). Also known as "brain fingerprinting," MERMER is claimed to be 90-99% accurate, with 0 false-positives or false negatives. Subjects need not utter a word in the MERMER test. They are shown photographs of a crime scene, e.g., and those familiar with the scene show different brain-wave patterns than those who are unfamiliar with the scene.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

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