New CIA director Hayden plans massive expansion of spying on Americans
May 31, 2006

Now that he is officially sworn in as the new head of the Central Intelligence Agency, Gen. Michael Hayden plans to build a vast domestic spying network that will pry into the lives of most Americans around the clock.

President George W. Bush told Hayden to “take whatever steps necessary” to monitor Americans 24/7 by listening in on their phone calls, bugging their homes and offices, probing their private lives, snooping into their financial records and watching their travel habits.

Can I prove this in a court of law? No. Do I know it is happening? Yes, without a doubt. Enough sources within the CIA, FBI, NSA and Pentagon have come forward in recent days to warn about Hayden’s plans for an expanded, consolidated spy network aimed at Americans, not terrorists, and violating numerous laws that prohibit such activities against citizens of this country.

“What Hayden plans to do is not only illegal, it is immoral,” says a longtime CIA operative who may retire early rather than participate in what he sees as an illegal extension of the spy agency’s activities.

Hayden, who oversaw the National Security Agency’s questionable monitoring of phone calls and emails of Americas, plans to consolidate much of the country’s domestic spying into a new desk at the CIA, calling it a “domestic terrorism prevention” operation.

The desk will oversee not only NSA’s increased monitoring of electronic communications by Americans but also the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s “terrorist information awareness” program that monitors travel and financial activities by Americans by gathering real-time data from banks, airlines, travel agencies and credit card companies.

The CIA operation will also coordinate with the Pentagon’s domestic spying program that monitors activities of anti-war groups, organizations critical of the Bush administrations and others tagged as enemies of the state.

FBI agents will step up monitoring of journalists to identify leaks of stories embarrassing to the government. The bureau is already monitoring phone calls and emails by reporters on a routine basis and has increased surveillance of writers for major news organizations and monitoring of travel and financial records using the DARPA computers.

“This is not ‘total information awareness’ but ‘total information control’ aimed at watching Americans fulltime and ignoring the protections that are supposed to be guaranteed by the Constitution,” says an FBI agent familiar with the programs. “I didn’t sign on for this and I’m getting the hell out.”

In fact, resignations at major U.S. spy agencies are at an all-time high. Exact numbers are classified but sources say field agents, data analysts and others are leaving in droves rather than join the frenzy to spy on Americans.

Hayden sailed through the Senate confirmation process defending his domestic spying program at NSA, claiming it was legal. Privacy experts and Constitutional law professors say otherwise but the Senate rubber-stamped Bush’s choice anyway, choosing to ignore the threats to freedom.

Hayden will have little problem concealing the operation from the public and Congress. Many of the CIA’s programs are classified and the agency has, in the past, concealed programs even from the intelligence committees in both the House and Senate. The DARPA project and the Pentagon domestic spying programs are “black bag” operations that do not require Congressional approval or oversight.

Likewise, many of the details of the NSA domestic spying program were withheld from Congress and escaped public notice until media reports unearthed them and the Bush administration now threatens to jail the reporters who broke the story.

I wish I could prove this. I wish one, just one, source on the inside was willing to come forward and allow his or her name to be used but those who might be tempted see what happened to Mary McCarthy, the CIA employee fired and under threat of prosecution for leaking information about CIA torture camps in Europe.

But I know it is happening. People I’ve known for years and trust tell me it is happening and the past record of spying, lies and deceit by the Bush administration point to just such an operation.

This nation is under attack. We, the people, are under attack. And the enemy in this case is not an Islamic radical hiding in a cave in Afghanistan but a cabal of truly evil men and women at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and on Capitol Hill aided by carefully-picked, law-ignoring appointees at the Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, a black glass-walled building at Fort Meade, MD, and a complex in Langley, Virginia.

Canadians Healthier Than Americans, Survey Says

Canadians are healthier than Americans, have better access to health care and have fewer unmet health needs, a new study of both countries reveals.

The findings come in spite of the fact that the United States spends almost twice as much per capita on health care as Canada, the researchers noted.

“This shows that you can spend much less than we [Americans] do, and deliver much more and better care then we do,” said study co-author Dr. David U. Himmelstein, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, Mass.

The new study appears to reinforce the findings of a Rand Corporation report issued earlier this month that showed a similar health care gap between the U.S. system and that of Great Britain, which, like Canada, has a universal health care system — subsidized by tax dollars.

In the current study, Himmelstein and his colleagues reviewed responses from more than 3,500 Canadians and almost 5,200 Americans over the age of 18 who participated in the Joint Canada/U.S. Survey of Health — a one-time phone survey conducted between 2002 and 2003.

In addition to documenting race, class and immigrant status, the survey sought to assess each individual’s current health status, access to health care, use of health care, history of illness, and ongoing behaviors — such as smoking — considered to be health risks.

Reporting in the July issue of the American Journal of Public Health, the researchers found that although Canadians smoke more than Americans, Americans are more likely to be inactive and obese, and have higher rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis and lung disease.

Specifically, Americans are one-third less likely to have a regular doctor, two times less likely to take needed medications, and one-fourth more likely to have unmet health care needs than Canadians.

While Americans were more likely to identify cost as the impediment to care, Canadians were more likely to cite waiting times as their main obstacle to good care. However, just 3.5 percent of Canadians were impacted by treatment delays, the survey found.

Despite generally better health and access to care, however, Canadians do not appear to be any happier with their health care system than Americans.

In fact, Americans said they were more satisfied than Canadians with the quality of care they received at either a hospital or a community-based facility. Canadians were happier with their physicians, however.

As well, American health care did excel in some areas compared to the Canadian system. For example, American women were more likely to have had a Pap smear and a mammogram than their Canadian counterparts.

Nevertheless, the American health system appears weakest in relation to the Canadian approach when it comes to caring for the uninsured.

Americans lacking insurance were found to have a much worse health care experience than both insured Americans, and (universally insured) Canadians. The survey found that nearly one in every three (30.4 percent) uninsured Americans had gone without some kind of needed care because of cost.

Overall, 7 percent of all U.S. residents cited cost as a barrier preventing them from getting needed care. That number was just 0.8 percent for Canadians.

The influence of wealth on access was also less acute in Canada, where poorer patients have better access to health care than low-income Americans.

In terms of race and health, non-whites in both countries were less satisfied with their health care than whites. However, racial differences in accessing care appear to be less drastic in Canada.

Based on the results, the researchers conclude that universal health care coverage should be implemented in the United States. But they also called for the health care community to improve services to the poor, and particularly the immigrant populations. They also urged reforms to prevent waiting-period issues that have impeded Canada’s system.

Although this research indicts the American health care system, Himmelstein said he wanted to accent the positive.

“Actually it’s a very hopeful message,” he said. “We (Americans) have the best doctors, best hospitals, and best nurses in the world. But the way we finance healthcare just doesn’t let us do the job. Given what we are now spending on our healthcare system, we can do better — if we just had national health insurance and were allowed to do it right.”

Jon Gabel, vice president of the Washington, D.C.-based non-partisan research organization Center for Studying Health System Change, agreed. He said the absence of a national health insurance system in the U.S. means patients don’t get full access to care or a better bang for their health-care buck.

However, Gabel noted that any between-country comparison depends in large part on whether the focus is on each system’s “haves” or “have-nots”.

“For example, once you’re in the U.S. health care system, patient satisfaction is higher than in Canada,” he noted.

Greg Scandlen, the founder of the non-profit Consumers for Health Care Choices based in Hagerstown, Md., disputed the findings.

“In terms of overall satisfaction with the health care system, Americans score better,” noted Scandlen. “So, the headline coming out of this ought to be that ‘Americans are more satisfied with their healthcare system than Canadians are.'”

Scandlen also criticized the way the study was conducted, noting that there was too much focus on routine health issues, to the relative exclusion of crisis situations that can demand more costly and dramatic interventions.

“Canada clearly emphasizes primary care pretty strongly, and I give them credit for that,” he said. But he added, “This survey doesn’t look at the more serious stuff, like surgery and cardiac care — serious, expensive things that apply to a minority of the population.”

The Power Of Stupidity


Chicken and egg debate unscrambled
Egg came first, ‘eggsperts’ agree
May 26, 2006

LONDON, England — It’s a question that has baffled scientists, academics and pub bores through the ages: What came first, the chicken or the egg?

Now a team made up of a geneticist, philosopher and chicken farmer claim to have found an answer. It was the egg.

Put simply, the reason is down to the fact that genetic material does not change during an animal’s life.

Therefore the first bird that evolved into what we would call a chicken, probably in prehistoric times, must have first existed as an embryo inside an egg.

Professor John Brookfield, a specialist in evolutionary genetics at the University of Nottingham, told the UK Press Association the pecking order was clear.

The living organism inside the eggshell would have had the same DNA as the chicken it would develop into, he said.

“Therefore, the first living thing which we could say unequivocally was a member of the species would be this first egg,” he added. “So, I would conclude that the egg came first.”

The same conclusion was reached by his fellow “eggsperts” Professor David Papineau, of King’s College London, and poultry farmer Charles Bourns.

Mr Papineau, an expert in the philosophy of science, agreed that the first chicken came from an egg and that proves there were chicken eggs before chickens.

He told PA people were mistaken if they argued that the mutant egg belonged to the “non-chicken” bird parents.

“I would argue it is a chicken egg if it has a chicken in it,” he said.

“If a kangaroo laid an egg from which an ostrich hatched, that would surely be an ostrich egg, not a kangaroo egg.”

Bourns, chairman of trade body Great British Chicken, said he was also firmly in the pro-egg camp.

He said: “Eggs were around long before the first chicken arrived. Of course, they may not have been chicken eggs as we see them today, but they were eggs.”

The debate, which may come as a relief to those with argumentative relatives, was organized by Disney to promote the release of the film “Chicken Little” on DVD.

Magic Bean Wishes – “Within each hot stamped velour pouch is a collection of agricultural and heirloom beans that have been marked with thoughtful words using a patent pending process.”
Patently Silly – home of Alcoholic beverages derived from animal extract, and methods for the production thereof and the Gas combustion type hair drier


Baby Born With Third Arm
May 30, 2006

three armed baby

SHANGHAI, China — Doctors in Shanghai on Tuesday were considering surgery options for a 2-month-old boy born with an unusually well-formed third arm.

Neither of the boy’s two left arms is fully functional and tests have so far been unable to determine which was more developed, said Dr. Chen Bochang, head of the orthopedics department at Shanghai Children’s Medical Center.

“His case is quite peculiar. We have no record of any child with such a complete third arm,” Chen said in a telephone interview.

The boy, identified only as “Jie-jie,” also was born with just one kidney and may have problems that could lead to curvature of the spine, local media reports said. Jie-jie cried when either of his left arms was touched, but smiled and responded normally to other stimuli, the reports said.

Chen said doctors hoped to work out a plan for surgery, but the boy’s small size made it impossible to perform certain tests that would help them prepare.

Media reports said other children have been reported born with additional arms and legs, but in those cases it was clear what limb was more developed.

Chen’s hospital is one of China’s most experienced in dealing with unusual birth defects, including separating conjoined twins.


Bush ‘planted fake news stories on American TV’
By Andrew Buncombe
29 May 2006

Federal authorities are actively investigating dozens of American television stations for broadcasting items produced by the Bush administration and major corporations, and passing them off as normal news. Some of the fake news segments talked up success in the war in Iraq, or promoted the companies’ products.

Investigators from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are seeking information about stations across the country after a report produced by a campaign group detailed the extraordinary extent of the use of such items.

The report, by the non-profit group Centre for Media and Democracy, found that over a 10-month period at least 77 television stations were making use of the faux news broadcasts, known as Video News Releases (VNRs). Not one told viewers who had produced the items.

“We know we only had partial access to these VNRs and yet we found 77 stations using them,” said Diana Farsetta, one of the group’s researchers. “I would say it’s pretty extraordinary. The picture we found was much worse than we expected going into the investigation in terms of just how widely these get played and how frequently these pre-packaged segments are put on the air.”

Ms Farsetta said the public relations companies commissioned to produce these segments by corporations had become increasingly sophisticated in their techniques in order to get the VNRs broadcast. “They have got very good at mimicking what a real, independently produced television report would look like,” she said.

The FCC has declined to comment on the investigation but investigators from the commission’s enforcement unit recently approached Ms Farsetta for a copy of her group’s report.

The range of VNR is wide. Among items provided by the Bush administration to news stations was one in which an Iraqi-American in Kansas City was seen saying “Thank you Bush. Thank you USA” in response to the 2003 fall of Baghdad. The footage was actually produced by the State Department, one of 20 federal agencies that have produced and distributed such items.

Many of the corporate reports, produced by drugs manufacturers such as Pfizer, focus on health issues and promote the manufacturer’s product. One example cited by the report was a Hallowe’en segment produced by the confectionery giant Mars, which featured Snickers, M&Ms and other company brands. While the original VNR disclosed that it was produced by Mars, such information was removed when it was broadcast by the television channel – in this case a Fox-owned station in St Louis, Missouri.

Bloomberg news service said that other companies that sponsored the promotions included General Motors, the world’s largest car maker, and Intel, the biggest maker of semi-conductors. All of the companies said they included full disclosure of their involvement in the VNRs. “We in no way attempt to hide that we are providing the video,” said Chuck Mulloy, a spokesman for Intel. “In fact, we bend over backward to make this disclosure.”

The FCC was urged to act by a lobbying campaign organised by Free Press, another non-profit group that focuses on media policy. Spokesman Craig Aaron said more than 25,000 people had written to the FCC about the VNRs. “Essentially it’s corporate advertising or propaganda masquerading as news,” he said. “The public obviously expects their news reports are going to be based on real reporting and real information. If they are watching an advertisement for a company or a government policy, they need to be told.”

The controversy over the use of VNRs by television stations first erupted last spring. At the time the FCC issued a public notice warning broadcasters that they were obliged to inform viewers if items were sponsored. The maximum fine for each violation is $32,500 (£17,500).

okay, here we go again… 8/

if this gets much worse, i’ll probably do something like Pliny the Weird (a very good friend of mine) came up with the last time this was an issue, and make “FLAG BURNING KITS” with an american flag on a cocktail toothpick and a strike-anywhere match…

Flag-burning amendment does too much harm
May 28, 2006

Some time this summer, the Congress will likely set in motion the steps needed to amend the U.S. Constitution to make it unlawful to desecrate the flag.

The amendment, which has bipartisan support, will make it against the law to burn the American flag. Unfortunately, in the process, it will trample all over the very thing the flag stands for: your personal freedom.

The Constitution, and specifically the first ten amendments known as the Bill of Rights, set out the freedoms that protect every citizen and set us apart from virtually every other country in the world.

Burning, mutilating or destroying the flag is a juvenile and despicable form of protest best suited for unruly mobs in faraway dictatorships, not the streets of America.

But as wrong-headed as it is, flag desecrating shouldn’t be against the law.

The flag is a proud symbol of America. We show our respect (or should) by removing our hats when it passes in a parade. We pledge our allegiance to the United States of America while facing the flag. It has been carried into battle around the world and our troops have died beneath it.

However, we should not confuse the symbol for the substance. The flag is a symbol of the freedoms that make America great. One of our most important freedoms is the freedom to disagree with the government and our neighbors. When we make it against the law to disagree, even in a way that is offensive, we are desecrating the Constitution.

Dissent is not a sign of weakness – it is a sign of strength. Only in a country that is strong is dissenting a freedom that enjoys equal protection under the law.

Demanding everyone support a particular cause or face consequences, real or social, is contrary to the personal liberties that have made our country strong.

You are free to express your thoughts, no matter how contrary to prevailing sentiment, because the First Amendment guarantees you that right. Thanks to that same amendment, the government can’t open your mail or listen to your phone calls without a search warrant. The First Amendment also permits us to publish this newspaper without prior approval of any government authority.

The only way supporters can make burning a flag illegal is to amend the Constitution and specifically exclude that activity from First Amendment protection.

This exercise is an unfortunate example of how politicians of both parties pander to voters on issues that sound profound and patriotic, but in reality will do great harm to the very institution they profess to protect.

Ironically, the number of reported flag burning incidents declined rapidly following 9/11 and hasn’t shown any signs of rebounding – further evidence that this constitutional amendment is a solution in search of a problem or, more accurately, in search of votes.

If the backers of this travesty are successful in amending the Constitution, America will join an elite club of nations that punish flag burners: China, Cuba and Iran.

Memorial Day is a time to remember those who gave their lives in service to our country. No doubt, many veterans past and present, along with many other citizens, join us in deploring flag burning.

The only thing worse than desecrating the flag is violating the Constitution to punish offenders.

Congress reveals its double standard
May 28, 2006

Members of Congress last week finally decided that invasion of privacy and the president’s overstepping his power are matters of grave importance.

And it took an FBI raid of the office of one of their own to get them all worked up.

As The Washington Post first reported, FBI agents obtained a warrant to search the offices of Rep. William Jefferson, a long-time New Orleans Democrat after they secretly taped him accepting $100,000, ostensibly to help a company win Internet contracts in Africa.

Never mind that this time the FBI obtained a search warrant unlike, say, the CIA or the NSA in their attempts to listen in on Americans’ private phone conversations.

Democrats and Republicans alike called on the FBI to return the documents seized from Jefferson’s office, saying along the way that it represented an extraordinary overreaching of power on the part of the executive branch.

“No person is above the law, neither the one being investigated nor those conducting the investigation,” said a letter signed by both House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “The Justice Department must immediately return the papers it unconstitutionally seized. Once that is done, Congressman Jefferson can and should fully cooperate with the Justice Department’s efforts, consistent with his constitutional rights.”

It was apparently the first time in Congress’ history that a member’s office had been raided by the Justice Department. Of course, as The Washington Post explained in an editorial, “this was no fishing expedition.”

It’s great that there is bipartisan anger at law enforcement officials executing a lawfully obtained search warrant against someone suspected of wrongdoing. That should play well here in the rest of America.

Vermonters are no strangers to outrage over invasions of privacy on the part of our congressional delegation. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has been one of the most vocal critics of the recently disclosed collection of millions of phone records by the country’s top spy agency. Rep. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., has been one of the loudest opponents of the Patriot Act and provisions that allow government snooping into our library borrowing habits.

Heck, a former member of Congress who couldn’t disagree more with Sanders’ socialist leanings, came to the state a few weeks ago to decry the ever-encroaching nature of the current president’s administration.

“I can’t understand that while you have a president thumbing his nose at Congress and the country and expressing disdain for the Constitution that Congress just sits there and takes it,” former Rep. Bob Barr, a Republican from Georgia, said during his visit here. “How is it that one individual can take power from the people and not be held accountable?”

How is it, indeed? On the one hand, Congress seems to just sit by and do nothing more than express frustration when the executive branch is reaching its tentacles into the private lives of the people from whom it derives its powers.

But if one of their own – no matter what party or what wrongdoing is suspected – is the recipient of a little intrusion from the executive branch, well, then, something must be done.

Vermonters are proud of their government’s relative absence from our lives and about its strong protection of individual liberties. Recall that when the latest phone-records scandal broke, calls for an immediate investigation of the state’s largest telephone company were swift and bipartisan.

I suspect, however, that Vermonters and other Americans will look at Pelosi and Hastert and Jefferson with more than a little skepticism.

It’s one thing for the crew of insiders to act like they’ve somehow been wronged by what looks like, from all accounts, a perfectly lawful and reasonable search of a crime suspect’s office, a suspect whom authorities say didn’t cooperate with them for months.

It’s quite another for them to expect that we will share their outrage.

After all, they certainly don’t seem to share ours when it is our privacy that is being violated.


Every little man thinks that only Jesus Christ himself is good enough to be his teacher. But you can learn from the most ordinary circumstances once you have the key that opens all doors.
     — Georges I. Gurdjeiff


jac is waiting to hear from his supplier, and has been for the past 3 days, i haven’t been able to get hold of jim because he has moved since the last time i called (typical), and gunnar isn’t answering his phone. bleh.


What If They Gave a War…?
May 26, 2006
by Tony Long

1968. It was the height of the Vietnam War, the year of My Lai and the Tet offensive. Student riots in Paris nearly brought down the French government. Soviet tanks put a premature end to Czechoslovakia’s Prague Spring.

In the United States, the streets were teeming with antiwar protesters and civil rights demonstrators. Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated within two months of each other. The Democratic convention in Chicago dissolved into chaos. And by the summer, America’s cities were in flames.

The world was seething, and for good reason. There was a lot to be angry about. It was a lousy year, 1968.

I was in high school then. I quit the baseball team because, frankly, sports seemed frivolous. In 1968, there were more important things to worry about than perfecting a curveball. All very high-minded and, in retrospect, more than a little pompous. But nearly 40 years down the road I don’t regret having done it. My political consciousness was awakened and I was actively engaged in the world around me.

But as bad as things were then, they seem infinitely worse now.

So why aren’t the streets clogged with angry Americans demanding to know why their president lied and deceived them so he could attack a country that had absolutely nothing to do with his so-called war on terror? To an extent, we got suckered into Vietnam. We can’t make that claim about Iraq. Iraq was the premeditated, willful invasion of a sovereign nation that was threatening nobody. “Saddam Hussein is a prick who treats the Kurds miserably” is no justification. By the principles established by the Nuremberg Tribunal and international law, our president is a war criminal.

Why aren’t we marching to demand an end to the illegal surveillance of American citizens by their own government, again under the pretext of waging war on terror? Why do we so blithely surrender our civil liberties — the very thing that supposedly separates us from other societies — to the illusion of security? All the high-tech snooping in the world won’t stop a determined terrorist from striking. If it could, Israel would be the safest country on earth.

Why aren’t irate Americans camping out in the lobby of every newspaper and TV station from coast to coast, demanding that the press reassert the right to perform its single most important function, that of government watchdog? The ghost of Richard Nixon, and a very corporeal Bill Clinton, must be cursing their rotten luck.

Why aren’t enraged college students occupying their campus administration buildings, demanding that the United States sign the Kyoto Protocol? Hell, it might already be too late, but is the luxury of driving your mom’s SUV really worth the coming dystopian world that you, more than I, will inherit?

Why aren’t we storming the battlements of every filthy oil company in America, demanding that their executives be tossed into fetid dungeons for cynically manipulating gas prices while raking in obscene profits?

Why aren’t we demanding that religion return to the pulpit, where it belongs, and keep out of the White House and the courts?

In short, where the hell is everybody?

I’ll tell you where they are. They’re at home, tuning in to root for the next “American idol.” They’re plugged into their iPods, utterly self-involved and disconnected from what lies just outside their doors. They’re spending 25 hours a week playing video games in virtual worlds instead of fighting to save the only world that really matters. They’re surfing porn. They’re text messaging and e-mailing and scheming to close that next big deal. They’re flogging their useless crap on eBay.

All that technology at their fingertips, and they’re completely blind. Two terms for George W. Bush? They’re deaf and dumb, too.

Bread and circuses. The government and the corporations are giving us bread and circuses to keep us sufficiently distracted so the powers that be can pursue their agendas. Television (flat screens only, please) serves up Donald Trump and Paris Hilton as role models, and gives us the abomination of Fox News, which is more a wolf in sheep’s clothing than any Vulpes vulpes you’re likely to encounter.

Hollywood only cares about blockbusters, chick flicks and inane buddy movies. Tiresome reality doesn’t make for good escapism and, more importantly, it doesn’t fill coffers. And George Clooney can’t be expected to produce every movie.

Whither the press? Forget it. Britney Spears gets more ink — and better play — than global warming does.

Iraq civilian deaths unjustified
May 26, 2006

WASHINGTON – Military investigators probing the deaths last November of about two dozen Iraqi civilians have evidence that points toward unprovoked murders by Marines, a senior defense official said Friday.

The Marine Corps initially reported 15 deaths and said they were caused by a roadside bomb and an ensuing firefight with insurgents. A separate investigation is aimed at determining if Marines lied to cover up the events, which included the deaths of women and children.

If confirmed as unjustified killings, the episode could be the most serious case of criminal misconduct by U.S. troops during three years of combat in Iraq. Until now the most infamous occurrence was the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse involving Army soldiers, which came to light in April 2004 and which President Bush said Thursday he considered to be the worst U.S. mistake of the entire war.

The defense official discussed the matter Friday only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly about the investigation. He said the evidence found thus far strongly indicated the killings in the insurgent-plagued city of Haditha in the western province of Anbar were unjustified. He cautioned that the probe was not finished.

Once the investigation is completed, perhaps in June, it will be up to a senior Marine commander in Iraq to decide whether to press charges of murder or other violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Three officers from the unit involved — 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif. — have been relieved of duty, although officials have not explicitly linked them to the criminal investigation.

In an indication of how concerned the Marines are about the implications of the Haditha case, their top officer, Gen. Michael W. Hagee, flew to Iraq on Thursday. He was to reinforce what the military said was a need to adhere to Marine values and standards of behavior and to avoid the use of excess force.

“Many of our Marines have been involved in life or death combat or have witnessed the loss of their fellow Marines, and the effects of these events can be numbing,” Hagee said a statement announcing his trip. “There is the risk of becoming indifferent to the loss of a human life, as well as bringing dishonor upon ourselves.”

A spokesman at Marine Corps headquarters in the Pentagon, Lt. Col. Scott Fazekas, declined to comment on the status of the Haditha investigation. He said no information would be provided until the probe was completed.

According to a congressional aide, lawmakers were told in a briefing Thursday that it appears as many as two dozen civilians were killed in the episode at Haditha. And they were told that the investigation will find that “it will be clear that this was not the result of an accident or a normal combat situation.”

Another congressional official said lawmakers were told it would be about 30 days before a report would be issued by the investigating agency, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

Both the House and Senate armed services committees plan to hold hearings on the matter.

The New York Times reported on Friday that the civilians killed at Haditha included five men who had been traveling in a taxi and others in two nearby houses. The newspaper quoted an unidentified official as saying it was a sustained operation over as long as five hours.

Hagee met with top lawmakers from those panels this week to bring them up to date on the investigation.

“I can say that there are established facts that incidents of a very serious nature did take place,” Sen. John Warner (news, bio, voting record), chairman of the Senate panel, said Thursday. He would not provide details or confirm reports that about 24 civilians were killed. He told reporters he had “no basis to believe” the military engaged in a cover-up.

Separately, the Marines announced this week that a criminal investigation was under way in connection with an alleged killing on April 26 of an Iraqi civilian by Marines in Hamandiyah, west of Baghdad. No details about that case have been made public.

In the Haditha case, videotape aired by an Arab television station showed images purportedly taken in the aftermath of the encounter: a bloody bedroom floor, walls with bullet holes and bodies of women and children. An Iraqi human rights group called for an investigation of what it described as a deadly mistake that had harmed civilians.

On May 17, Rep. John Murtha (news, bio, voting record), D-Pa., a former Marine, said Corps officials told him the toll in the Haditha attack was far worse than originally reported and that U.S. troops killed innocent women and children “in cold blood.” He said that nearly twice as many people were killed as first reported and maintained that U.S. forces were “overstretched and overstressed” by the war in Iraq.

Pentagon spokesman Eric Ruff said Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was being kept apprised. Ruff said he did not expect any announcements in the next few days.

Iraqis shot ‘for wearing shorts’
26 May 2006

The coach of Iraq’s tennis team and two players were shot dead in Baghdad on Thursday, said Iraqi Olympic officials.

Coach Hussein Ahmed Rashid and players Nasser Ali Hatem and Wissam Adel Auda were killed in the al-Saidiya district of the capital.

Witnesses said the three were dressed in shorts and were killed days after militants issued a warning forbidding the wearing of shorts.

Other Iraqi athletes have been targeted in recent incidents.

In this case, according to accounts, the men dropped off laundry and were then stopped in their vehicle by gunmen.

Two of the athletes stepped out of the car and were shot in the head, said one witness. The third was shot dead in the vehicle.

“The gunman took the body out of the car and threw it on top of the other two bodies before stealing the car,” said the witness, who requested anonymity.

He said leaflets had been recently distributed in the area warning residents not to wear shorts.

Last week, 15 members of Iraq’s taekwondo team were kidnapped between Falluja and Ramadi, west of Baghdad, said a member of the Iraqi Olympic Committee. The kidnappers have demanded $100,000 for their release.


i left for seattle at 7:30 this morning because i wanted to get a good parking place, which i did, right across from the “skybridge”. it was early enough that most of the vendors weren’t even there yet, so i wandered for a couple of hours. minor things have changed recently: the second floor of the center house no longer goes all the way around, and some things have vanished from the main floor, like an escalator and a stairway. i found the place to check in and confused the volunteers when i wasn’t the whole group. got my button and went and wandered for a couple more hours until the performance. it was raining until we got onstage, and then it stopped. liz said that it always happens that way, which is a good thing, i think. they told me (i’ve got it written down in email) that our performance was at 11:45, but it was really at 12:45. also, the volunteers at the check in said that we had two performances, and that the second one was at 1:00, but we really only had one performance… i think that maybe the volunteers’ schedule was broken up into 15 minute increments, but i don’t know because they were pretty confused without me adding to it. we’re performing again for a party given by the canadian consulate at the intiman theatre at 10:00 tonight… one piece – oh canada – and we’ve never played it before, so it should be exciting.

anyway, after the band played, i went up to swamp creek to fill my water bottles and then i came home.


the ballard sedentary sousa band is playing tomorrow at folklife, at approximately 12:30 pm at the fountain lawn stage. we’re also playing at 10:00 pm for the party after.

i got an incense order today. first one in almost 2 months.


Highway sign brews up controversy
By Adam Shub

GASTONIA, N.C. — Eyebrows are being raised because of a new sign along Highway 74 and a pagan group’s promise to keep the road clean.

The Silvermoon Pagan Wicca Group, through the state’s Adopt-A-Highway program, recently sponsored the stretch of road in Gastonia. At the head of the group is Kym Miller, a self-proclaimed witch who owns the Witch’s Brew Café in Lincolnton.

“We want to be community-minded and active in the area, and we wanted to do something to help keep the area clean,” Miller said Thursday.

But many Gastonia residents have their objections.

“I’m not for it if it’s got anything to do with witchcraft,” resident Mildred Bumgardner said.

Resident Cody Sams said, “They should change the name or something.”

Miller insists that her group does nothing more than cast spells and experiment with herbal magic.

“We don’t worship the devil, we don’t believe in the devil,” she said. “We’re not Satanists.”

Miller said she has been receiving death threats since her café opened last summer, but she hopes the highway adoption can prove to people that her group wants to make a positive impact on the community. She said it also intends to adopt another highway in the near future.

“So that they realize that we’re not evil people doing evil things,” she said.

Bumgardner doesn’t buy it.

“They’re just trying to get into our communities with that type of thing,” she said.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation said it has not received any written complaints about the Silvermoon sign. Officials said it’s unfair to discriminate against any group that wants to adopt a highway.

It doesn’t cost any money to adopt a highway, but whoever does must pledge to clean it up at least a couple of times a year.

The Transportation Department said the program saves taxpayers $4 million a year in cleanup costs.


Desmond Dekker is dead
26 May, 2006

Desmond Dekker

Desmond Dekker, the first Jamaican pop act to score a major hit in the UK, has died.

The singer died of a heart attack in London on Wednesday night. Dekker was 64 years old.

Born Desmond Adolphus Dacres in Kingston, on July 16, 1941, Dekker and his backing group the Aces (consisting of Wilson James and Easton Barrington Howard), had the first international Jamaican hit with Israelites. Other hits include 007 (Shanty Town), from 1967, and It Mek (1969).

Orphaned as a teenager, Dekker began working as a welder, singing around his workplace while his coworkers encouraged him. In 1961, he auditioned for the late Coxsone Dodd at Studio One and Dodd’s archrival, Duke Reid at Treasure Isle. Neither was impressed by his talents, and Dekker moved on to Leslie Kong’s Beverley’s label, where he auditioned before Derrick Morgan. With Morgan’s support, Dekker was signed but did not record until 1963, because Kong was reportedly waiting for the perfect song. That came in the form of Dekker’s Honour Your Father And Mother.

The song was a hit and Dekker followed up with Sinners Come Home and Labour for Learning. It was at this time that he changed his surname from Dacres to Dekker.

His next hit, King of Ska, on which he was backed by the The Cherrypies (also known as The Maytals), became one of his early signature tunes and remains well-known among ska fans.

Until 1967, Dekker’s songs, including Parents, Get Up Edina, This Woman and Mount Zion. were polite and conveyed mainstream messages. In that year, however, he appeared on Morgan’s Tougher Than Tough, which marked the beginning of the rude boy craze. Dekker’s own songs did not go to the extremes of many other popular tunes, though he did introduce lyrics which resonated with the rude boys, starting with the aforementioned 007 (Shanty Town). The song established Dekker as a rude boy icon, and helped him become a leading figure in the British mod scene.

Dekker continued with songs in the same vein, such as Rude Boy Train and Rudie Got Soul, as well as continuing with his previous themes of religion and morality in songs like It’s a Shame, Wise Man, Unity, It Pays, and Sabotage. His Pretty Africa is among the earliest popular songs to promote repatriation.

Israelites, released in 1968, appeared on both the US and UK charts, eventually topping the latter and peaking in the Top Ten of the former. He was the first Jamaican performer to enter US markets with pure Jamaican music, but he never managed to repeat in the US. That same year saw the release of Beautiful And Dangerous, Writing On The Wall, the Jamaica Festival song winner Intensified [Music Like Dirt], Bongo Girl and Shing a Ling.

At the end of the 1970s, Dekker signed with Stiff Records, a punk label linked with the Two-Tone movement, a fusion of punk and ska. He recorded an album called Black & Dekker, which featured his previous hits backed by The Rumour, Graham Parker’s backing band. Dekker’s next album was Compass Point, produced by Robert Palmer. Though that album did not sell well, Dekker remained a popular live performer, and he toured with The Rumour.

Only a live album was released in the late 80s, but a new version of Israelites reawakened public interest in 1990, following its use in a commercial for the audio recording products maker Maxell and on the soundtrack for the 1989 movie Drugstore Cowboy. He re-recorded some old singles, and worked with The Specials for 1992’s King of Kings, which used hits from Dekker’s musical heroes, including Derrick Morgan.


despite the fact that i haven’t had any orders for more than a month, i signed up as a distributor for shoyeido incense (they now have a “resell from internet” policy, which they haven’t in the past), and ordered $125 worth of incense from them, primarily because chris wants more hori-kawa. the added bonus is that i get to order their $100 a box incense at wholesale.


Whistle-Blower’s Evidence
May, 22, 2006

Former AT&T technician Mark Klein is the key witness in the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s class-action lawsuit against the telecommunications company, which alleges that AT&T cooperated in an illegal National Security Agency domestic surveillance program.

In a public statement Klein issued last month, he described the NSA’s visit to an AT&T office. In an older, less-public statement recently acquired by Wired News, Klein goes into additional details of his discovery of an alleged surveillance operation in an AT&T building in San Francisco.

Klein supports his claim by attaching excerpts of three internal company documents: a Dec. 10, 2002, manual titled “Study Group 3, LGX/Splitter Wiring, San Francisco,” a Jan. 13, 2003, document titled “SIMS, Splitter Cut-In and Test Procedure” and a second “Cut-In and Test Procedure” dated Jan. 24, 2003.

AT&T’s Implementation of NSA Spying on American Citizens
31 December 2005

I wrote the following document in 2004 when it became clear to me that AT&T, at the behest of the National Security Agency, had illegally installed secret computer gear designed to spy on internet traffic. At the time I thought this was an outgrowth of the notorious Total Information Awareness program, which was attacked by defenders of civil liberties. But now it’s been revealed by The New York Times that the spying program is vastly bigger and was directly authorized by President Bush, as he himself has now admitted, in flagrant violation of specific statutes and constitutional protections for civil liberties. I am presenting this information to facilitate the dismantling of this dangerous Orwellian project.

AT&T Deploys Government Spy Gear on WorldNet Network
16 January, 2004

In 2003 AT&T built “secret rooms” hidden deep in the bowels of its central offices in various cities, housing computer gear for a government spy operation which taps into the company’s popular WorldNet service and the entire internet. These installations enable the government to look at every individual message on the internet and analyze exactly what people are doing. Documents showing the hardwire installation in San Francisco suggest that there are similar locations being installed in numerous other cities.

The physical arrangement, the timing of its construction, the government-imposed secrecy surrounding it and other factors all strongly suggest that its origins are rooted in the Defense Department’s Total Information Awareness (TIA) program which brought forth vigorous protests from defenders of constitutionally protected civil liberties last year:

“As the director of the effort, Vice Adm. John M. Poindexter, has described the system in Pentagon documents and in speeches, it will provide intelligence analysts and law enforcement officials with instant access to information from internet mail and calling records to credit card and banking transactions and travel documents, without a search warrant.” The New York Times, 9 November 2002

To mollify critics, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) spokesmen have repeatedly asserted that they are only conducting “research” using “artificial synthetic data” or information from “normal DOD intelligence channels” and hence there are “no U.S. citizen privacy implications” (Department of Defense, Office of the Inspector General report on TIA, December 12, 2003). They also changed the name of the program to “Terrorism Information Awareness” to make it more politically palatable. But feeling the heat, Congress made a big show of allegedly cutting off funding for TIA in late 2003, and the political fallout resulted in Adm. Poindexter’s abrupt resignation last August. However, the fine print reveals that Congress eliminated funding only for “the majority of the TIA components,” allowing several “components” to continue (DOD, ibid). The essential hardware elements of a TIA-type spy program are being surreptitiously slipped into “real world” telecommunications offices.

In San Francisco the “secret room” is Room 641A at 611 Folsom Street, the site of a large SBC phone building, three floors of which are occupied by AT&T. High-speed fiber-optic circuits come in on the 8th floor and run down to the 7th floor where they connect to routers for AT&T’s WorldNet service, part of the latter’s vital “Common Backbone.” In order to snoop on these circuits, a special cabinet was installed and cabled to the “secret room” on the 6th floor to monitor the information going through the circuits. (The location code of the cabinet is 070177.04, which denotes the 7th floor, aisle 177 and bay 04.) The “secret room” itself is roughly 24-by-48 feet, containing perhaps a dozen cabinets including such equipment as Sun servers and two Juniper routers, plus an industrial-size air conditioner.

The normal work force of unionized technicians in the office are forbidden to enter the “secret room,” which has a special combination lock on the main door. The telltale sign of an illicit government spy operation is the fact that only people with security clearance from the National Security Agency can enter this room. In practice this has meant that only one management-level technician works in there. Ironically, the one who set up the room was laid off in late 2003 in one of the company’s endless “downsizings,” but he was quickly replaced by another.

Plans for the “secret room” were fully drawn up by December 2002, curiously only four months after Darpa started awarding contracts for TIA. One 60-page document, identified as coming from “AT&T Labs Connectivity & Net Services” and authored by the labs’ consultant Mathew F. Casamassima, is titled Study Group 3, LGX/Splitter Wiring, San Francisco and dated 12/10/02. This document addresses the special problem of trying to spy on fiber-optic circuits. Unlike copper wire circuits which emit electromagnetic fields that can be tapped into without disturbing the circuits, fiber-optic circuits do not “leak” their light signals. In order to monitor such communications, one has to physically cut into the fiber somehow and divert a portion of the light signal to see the information.

This problem is solved with “splitters” which literally split off a percentage of the light signal so it can be examined. This is the purpose of the special cabinet referred to above: Circuits are connected into it, the light signal is split into two signals, one of which is diverted to the “secret room.” The cabinet is totally unnecessary for the circuit to perform — in fact it introduces problems since the signal level is reduced by the splitter — its only purpose is to enable a third party to examine the data flowing between sender and recipient on the internet.

The above-referenced document includes a diagram showing the splitting of the light signal, a portion of which is diverted to “SG3 Secure Room,” i.e., the so-called “Study Group” spy room. Another page headlined “Cabinet Naming” lists not only the “splitter” cabinet but also the equipment installed in the “SG3” room, including various Sun devices, and Juniper M40e and M160 “backbone” routers. PDF file 4 shows one of many tables detailing the connections between the “splitter” cabinet on the 7th floor (location 070177.04) and a cabinet in the “secret room” on the 6th floor (location 060903.01). Since the San Francisco “secret room” is numbered 3, the implication is that there are at least several more in other cities (Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego are some of the rumored locations), which likely are spread across the United States.

One of the devices in the “Cabinet Naming” list is particularly revealing as to the purpose of the “secret room”: a Narus STA 6400. Narus is a 7-year-old company which, because of its particular niche, appeals not only to businessmen (it is backed by AT&T, JP Morgan and Intel, among others) but also to police, military and intelligence officials. Last November 13-14, for instance, Narus was the “Lead Sponsor” for a technical conference held in McLean, Virginia, titled “Intelligence Support Systems for Lawful Interception and Internet Surveillance.” Police officials, FBI and DEA agents, and major telecommunications companies eager to cash in on the “war on terror” had gathered in the hometown of the CIA to discuss their special problems. Among the attendees were AT&T, BellSouth, MCI, Sprint and Verizon. Narus founder, Dr. Ori Cohen, gave a keynote speech. So what does the Narus STA 6400 do?

“The (Narus) STA Platform consists of standalone traffic analyzers that collect network and customer usage information in real time directly from the message…. These analyzers sit on the message pipe into the ISP (internet service provider) cloud rather than tap into each router or ISP device” (Telecommunications magazine, April 2000). A Narus press release (1 Dec., 1999) also boasts that its Semantic Traffic Analysis (STA) technology “captures comprehensive customer usage data … and transforms it into actionable information…. (It) is the only technology that provides complete visibility for all internet applications.”

To implement this scheme, WorldNet’s high-speed data circuits already in service had to be rerouted to go through the special “splitter” cabinet. This was addressed in another document of 44 pages from AT&T Labs, titled SIMS, Splitter Cut-In and Test Procedure, dated 01/13/03. “SIMS” is an unexplained reference to the secret room. Part of this reads as follows:

“A WMS (work) Ticket will be issued by the AT&T Bridgeton Network Operation Center (NOC) to charge time for performing the work described in this procedure document…. “This procedure covers the steps required to insert optical splitters into select live Common Backbone (CBB) OC3, OC12 and OC48 optical circuits.”

The NOC referred to is in Bridgeton, Missouri, and controls WorldNet operations. (As a sign that government spying goes hand-in-hand with union-busting, the entire (Communication Workers of America) Local 6377 which had jurisdiction over the Bridgeton NOC was wiped out in early 2002 when AT&T fired the union work force and later rehired them as nonunion “management” employees.) The cut-in work was performed in 2003, and since then new circuits are connected through the “splitter” cabinet.

Another Cut-In and Test Procedure document dated January 24, 2003, provides diagrams of how AT&T Core Network circuits were to be run through the “splitter” cabinet. One page lists the circuit IDs of key Peering Links which were “cut-in” in February 2003, including ConXion, Verio, XO, Genuity, Qwest, PAIX, Allegiance, AboveNet, Global Crossing, C&W, UUNET, Level 3, Sprint, Telia, PSINet and Mae West. By the way, Mae West is one of two key internet nodal points in the United States (the other, Mae East, is in Vienna, Virginia). It’s not just WorldNet customers who are being spied on — it’s the entire internet.

The next logical question is, what central command is collecting the data sent by the various “secret rooms”? One can only make educated guesses, but perhaps the answer was inadvertently given in the DOD Inspector General’s report (cited above):

“For testing TIA capabilities, Darpa and the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) created an operational research and development environment that uses real-time feedback. The main node of TIA is located at INSCOM (in Fort Belvoir, Virginia)….”

Among the agencies participating or planning to participate in the INSCOM “testing” are the “National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, the DOD Counterintelligence Field Activity, the U.S. Strategic Command, the Special Operations Command, the Joint Forces Command and the Joint Warfare Analysis Center.” There are also “discussions” going on to bring in “non-DOD federal agencies” such as the FBI.

This is the infrastructure for an Orwellian police state. It must be shut down!


this is sort of a backhanded compliment… they say that there’s no link between pot and lung cancer, but they still recommend not smoking pot because of problems like “cognitive impairment and chronic bronchitis”, in spite of the fact that there’s no mention of alcohol or other “legal” drugs that have identical, if not more severe problems linked with them. also i’d be willing to bet that they didn’t test pot smoked through a water filtration device like a bong because tobacco isn’t smoked that way… 8/

U.S. study sees no marijuana link to lung cancer
Baby-boomer research results surprise doctors expecting to find connection
May 23, 2006

LOS ANGELES – Marijuana smoking does not increase a person’s risk of developing lung cancer, according to the findings of a new study at the University of California Los Angeles that surprised even the researchers.

They had expected to find that a history of heavy marijuana use, like cigarette smoking, would increase the risk of cancer.

Instead, the study, which compared the lifestyles of 611 Los Angeles County lung cancer patients and 601 patients with head and neck cancers with those of 1,040 people without cancer, found no elevated cancer risk for even the heaviest pot smokers. It did find a 20-fold increased risk of lung cancer in people who smoked two or more packs of cigarettes a day.

The study results were presented in San Diego on Tuesday at a meeting of the American Thoracic Society.

The study was confined to people under age 60 since baby boomers were the most likely age group to have long-term exposure to marijuana, said Dr. Donald Tashkin, senior researcher and professor at the UCLA School of Medicine.

The results should not be taken as a blank check to smoke pot, which has been associated with problems like cognitive impairment and chronic bronchitis, said Dr. John Hansen-Flaschen, chief of pulmonary and critical care at the University of Pennsylvania Health System in Philadelphia. He was not involved in the study.

Previous studies showed marijuana tar contained about 50 percent more of the chemicals linked to lung cancer, compared with tobacco tar, Tashkin said. In addition, smoking a marijuana joint deposits four times more tar in the lungs than smoking an equivalent amount of tobacco.

“Marijuana is packed more loosely than tobacco, so there’s less filtration through the rod of the cigarette, so more particles will be inhaled,” Tashkin said in a statement. “And marijuana smokers typically smoke differently than tobacco smokers — they hold their breath about four times longer, allowing more time for extra fine particles to deposit in the lung.”

He theorized that tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, a chemical in marijuana smoke that produces its psychotropic effect, may encourage aging, damaged cells to die off before they become cancerous.

Hansen-Flaschen also cautioned a cancer-marijuana link could emerge as baby boomers age and there may be smaller population groups, based on genetics or other factors, still at risk for marijuana-related cancers.


Katrina autopsy: Police shot retarded man in back
May 22, 2006
By James Polk, Drew Griffin and Kate Albright-Hanna

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana — Autopsy results obtained by CNN show a retarded man was shot in the back when he was killed by New Orleans police in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

This contradicts testimony by a police sergeant that the victim had turned toward officers and was reaching into his waistband when shot.

“Clearly he was shot from behind,” said famed New York pathologist Dr. Michael Baden, who examined the body for the family’s lawyer.

A prosecutor said the case will go before a grand jury soon and acknowledged the investigation includes the possibility of police wrong-doing.

Ronald Madison, 40, was mentally retarded and lived at home with his mother. He had no criminal record. He was shot when police responded to a report of gunfire on a bridge over the flooded Industrial Canal on Sunday, September 4, six days after Katrina hit New Orleans last year.

It was a week of dire flooding, rampant looting, death by drowning. Police were strained, beset by suicides and desertion. Four people were killed in confrontations with police that weekend alone.

Madison’s older brother, Lance, said he and Ronald were walking across the Danziger bridge toward another brother’s dental office when teen-agers ran up behind him and opened fire that Sunday morning.

By his account, he and Ronald were running away toward the crest of the bridge when a police team, responding to the report of gunshots, arrived in a rental truck and opened fire on people on the bridge.

Police Superintendent Warren Riley told CNN, “Several of the people were shot and two were killed by our officers in a running gun battle… Most police shoot-outs last somewhere between six and twelve seconds, and it’s over with. This was a running gun battle that went on several minutes.”

One teen-ager, still unidentified, was killed near the base of the bridge. Another was critically wounded. Three other people with them were also shot and were hospitalized.

Lance Madison said a policeman pointed a rifle at Ronald and shot him as the two of them were running up the bridge. Lance said he helped carry his wounded brother to a motel on the other side of the canal and left him there as Lance kept running to seek help.

The Police Department said in a press release last fall that Ronald Madison, whom it called a second unidentified gunman, “was confronted by a New Orleans Police Officer. The suspect reached into his waist and turned toward the officer who fired one shot fatally wounding him.”

Testifying in a preliminary hearing last fall, Police Sgt. Arthur Kaufman said much the same thing: “One subject turned, reached in his waistband, turned on the officers.”

Autopsy results, made available to CNN by a source involved in the investigation, directly contradict that police account.

The findings list five separate gunshot wounds in Ronald Madison’s back. Three went through the body and exited in front. There were two other wounds in his right shoulder. None of the shots entered his body from the front.

CNN had sued the coroner of Orleans Parish to try to get official access to the autopsy report. At a court hearing on that lawsuit in New Orleans a week ago, the coroner, Dr. Frank Minyard, verified the handwritten autopsy report obtained elsewhere by CNN was indeed prepared in his office by a pathologist on his staff who listed the wounds in the victim’s right back.

Under cross-examination by a CNN lawyer, Dr. Minyard testified those five wounds in the back “were entrance wounds, yes.”

Dr. Michael Baden, chief forensic pathologist for the New York State Police, met with CNN in New York City two weeks ago to discuss his own observations when he examined Ronald Madison’s body for the family lawyer last fall. Asked if Ronald could have been facing the police when shot, Dr. Baden said, “Absolutely not.”

No weapon was found on or near Ronald Madison’s body.

Asst. District Attorney Dustin Davis, testifying in the same court hearing on the CNN lawsuit, said a grand jury has been assigned to investigate the Danziger Bridge shootings. However, the grand jury has not yet met on the case because the New Orleans Police Dept. has yet to complete its final report, eight months after those deaths.

The CNN attorney asked Davis, “What you are investigating in that case is whether any of the police officers may be indicted for homicide, is that correct?”

Davis answered, “That’s partially correct. We are also looking at Mr. Madison’s involvement in the incident.”

Lance Madison was arrested on the other side of the bridge where his brother was killed and was accused of shooting at the police officers in the gun battle. He, too, had no weapon when taken into custody. He was released from bail after six months because the District Attorney’s office had not initiated any prosecution, although the investigation remains pending.

Sgt. Kaufman testified at the bail hearing for Lance Madison last fall that another policeman saw Lance throw a gun into the Industrial Canal as he was going over the bridge. Lance Madison denies that. He told CNN correspondent Drew Griffin, “I had no gun, at all.” Asked if Ronald had a gun, Lance answered, “No, he didn’t.”

In a CNN interview earlier this month, Griffin told Police Chief Warren Riley, “We understand Ronald Madison was shot in the back five times.”

Riley said, “Those are things I can’t comment on and no one can comment on until the investigation is concluded.”

Griffin asked Riley if he was concerned about his officers’ actions and Riley replied, “Certainly, we do not condone our officers overreacting, even in the most chaotic time,” but he went on, “We don’t know that they overreacted. From the radio transmission, it sounds like their lives were in danger.”

Riley turned down a request by CNN to interview the officers who were involved.

A 25-year career employee at Federal Express, Lance Madison has no criminal record.

At the end of the CNN interview, Riley conceded the two Madison brothers may not have been connected with the other people on the bridge that day.

“I don’t know if those young men were innocent or not. I really don’t know if they were with that group or not,” Riley said. “I really don’t know.”


you know how hard it is to place a coin on it’s edge when you’re trying… you can do it, but it’s difficult, and especially so when the surface is uneven. i wasn’t paying attention, and wasn’t trying to put this penny down in any particular way, and it came to rest like this anyway.

a penny on edge
a penny on edge
a penny on edge


urgh… depressed…

in the past four days, i’ve updated ‘ links on the The Church of Tina Chopp (which i was just notified about this morning) and applied for a job <shudder> at a place where i’ve applied about every six months for the past three years and not been hired. i’ve known the guys who run the print shop for 25 years – since we both lived in bellingham – and i’ve never been hired by these guys for any of the jobs that they have had available during that period of time, so i don’t expect much different this time, but i applied again because moe asked me to.


okay, i’ve been looking for a version of this meme that i can do with minimal effort, and i found one yesterday. i would have done it yesterday except for the fact that i was depressed and cleaned up the house instead of listening to music.

  1. Turn on your favorite media player and turn your shuffle feature on.
  2. Hit “play” and keep track of the next 10 songs that come up.
  3. Post your 10 shuffled songs, along with these instructions. You are not allowed to lie, omit tracks or otherwise try to make your musical taste seem hipper than it actually is.
  4. Tag five people on your friends list to do the same. horseshit. tag yourselves.
  1. Hollowmusic – St. Fred, Hollow Music — yeah, listening to music that you, yourself, created is a guaranteed way to move up on the “hip” list… 8/
  2. Fantastic Voyage – David Bowie, Lodger
  3. Bulky Rhythm – The Bobs, My I’m Large
  4. Under Wraps #1 – Jethro Tull, Under Wraps
  5. Kill Him! – The Residents, Wormwood
  6. Loss Of Innocence – The Residents, Commercial Album
  7. Francisco – Brian Eno, The Shutov Assembly
  8. Catholic Girls – Frank Zappa, You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore vol. 6
  9. African Reggae – Nina Hagen, Nunsexmonkrock
  10. The Attack – Roger Wateres, When The Wind Blows


okay, i’m depressed again.

there have been no hybrid elephant orders for over a month, since that guy who runs an oriental medicine practice in nevada was talking about ordering $1,000 worth of incense, and then decided that he only wanted $400 worth, and then – after i had already ordered it – he decided that he wasn’t going to order from me at all, so i had to send $400 worth of incense back to the supplier. not only do i not know where he’s getting it from, but since then i have had no orders of any kind. i’m getting concerned, and i don’t know what to do.

i have decided that i’ve got to have a workshop… i’m going crazy not having anything to do. so i’m looking into buying a 8’x8.5’x20′ shipping container and transforming it into a workshop… but i get the very strong impression that moe would much rather i get a more building-like “shed”. the problem is that i have exactly enough money to buy either one or the other, and at this point, i don’t have any money to make the “improvements” necessary to make both into a functioning workshop. i get the very strong impression that, of the two, the shipping container would come in a state that is much more workshop-ready – all i’d have to do is put in some overhead lights and run a couple of extension cords, but, as i said, i get the very strong impression that moe would much rather i get something other than a shipping container, and at this point, i feel like if i don’t do what she wants, there’s likely to be bigger problems.

the other option, if i decide that i’m not buying a workshop structure, is that i could buy a new computer. if i were to do so, it would very likely be either a mac book, or a G5 mac mini. however, if i get a new computer, a workshop of any kind is going to be completely out of the question for at least another year, unless the hybrid elephant market does an amazing turnaround.

i replied to a post whose subject was “seattle’s most fabulous horn players” about a month ago, and it turned out to be someone i know from bellingham, 25 years ago. well, it turns out that, like 25 years ago, the guy has grandiose dreams of stuff he’d like to do, but he doesn’t have the talent or the organisational skills to do it the way he wants to. the third rehearsal is coming up on saturday, and this week he emailed me to say that he hasn’t been able to get any other horn players (unlike last week when i showed up only to find that i was the only horn player out of three people at the rehearsal), so “in case you don’t want to be the only horn again” i can cancel… what i’m going to tell him is that when he’s ready for horn players to show up, that he can give me a call, but i’m not expecting a call any time soon.