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"Flynt is arguably the greatest student of the American underbelly since J. Edgar Hoover."

Vanity Fair sits down with Larry Flynt --his history and hits and misses, how much he pays for scandals involving hypocritical public figures, and a new (and limp) Nixon anecdote -- and tons of other juicy tidbits, of course).
posted by amberglow on Dec 20, 2007 - 26 comments

"And I am even supposed to love our enemies.”

"Killing others is not loving them.” --meet US Army Captain Peter D. Brown, just granted Conscientious Objector status due to his religious beliefs and honorably discharged after first being denied and taking them to court---only 224 applicants were approved for it during 02-06, out of 2.3 million serving. [more inside]
posted by amberglow on Oct 18, 2007 - 63 comments

9/11 changed everything? And the NSA is only looking at overseas and terrorist-related phone and internet records?

to gather information about Americans' phone records --... the NSA had approached the company (Qwest) about participating in a warrantless surveillance program to gather information about Americans' phone records. ...Nacchio's account, which places the NSA proposal at a meeting on Feb. 27, 2001, suggests that the Bush administration was seeking to enlist telecommunications firms in programs without court oversight before the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon. The Sept. 11 attacks have been cited by the government as the main impetus for its warrantless surveillance efforts. ... -- The Administration's crimes and illegal spying on all of us and Quest's punishment for not going along with their plans.
posted by amberglow on Oct 13, 2007 - 76 comments

"The station's gaffes have included broadcasting in December 2006 a 68-minute call to arms against Israelis by a senior figure of the terrorist group Hezbollah..."

Al Hurra television, the U.S. government's $63 million-a-year effort at public diplomacy broadcasting in the Middle East, is run by executives and officials who cannot speak Arabic, according to a senior official who oversees the program. That might explain why critics say the service has recently been caught broadcasting terrorist messages, ... from their About US page: Alhurra is operated by non-profit corporation “The Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc.” (MBN). MBN is financed by the American people through the U.S Congress. US Govt. Accountability Office abstract about other MBN problems here.
posted by amberglow on May 22, 2007 - 44 comments

The First Casualty of War? Truth

War vs. Democracy: Untold Stories from the Lynch / Tillman Hearing -- ...U.S. soldiers whose injuries or deaths remain mired in secrecy. Pat Tillman's brother and fellow Army Ranger Kevin Tillman advocated strongly for other families still waiting for answers. ... "The family was told, it was -- quote -- 'an ambush by insurgents.' Two years later, they found out that those -- quote -- 'insurgents' happened to be the same Iraqi troops that he was training. Before his death, he told his chain of command that these same troops that he was training were trying to kill him and his team. He was told to keep his mouth shut." ... Thorough and eye-opening examination of the many ways the military spun, lied, withheld information on soldier deaths and injuries for propaganda purposes (and even delayed action until cameras were present in the Jessica Lynch rescue).
posted by amberglow on May 12, 2007 - 29 comments

public assets and infrastructure go private--and we pay

Roads To Riches (or We've Got a Bridge in Brooklyn to Sell You--Seriously) -- Why investors are clamoring to take over America's highways, bridges, and airports—and why the public should be nervous.--...a slew of Wall Street firms—Goldman, Morgan Stanley, the Carlyle Group, Citigroup, and many others—is piling into infrastructure ... Assets sold now could change hands many times over the next 50 years, with each new buyer feeling increasing pressure to make the deal work financially. It's hardly a stretch to imagine service suffering in such a scenario; already, the record in the U.S. has been spotty. ...
posted by amberglow on Apr 29, 2007 - 107 comments

"i honestly don't have a recollection..."

"I do not recall" --meet Lurita Doan, Administrator of the GSA (Our mission is to help other agencies better serve the public by meeting – at best value – their needs for products and services, and to simplify citizen access to government information and services.), and hear about the powerpoint presentation from Rove's office all about electing Republicans in 08 and how her agency should help. Her office supplied it to Congress--but it was just a (GOP) "team-building exercise" and "brown-bag lunch". (YouTube) Read up on the Hatch Act too.
posted by amberglow on Mar 28, 2007 - 54 comments

Tell me the stories that will embarrass those conservative bigots that are backing a constitutional ban on our formalized relationships.

The dirty underbelly -- I'm sick and tired of these hypocritical Hoosier legislators who think that my sex life or relationship status is any of their business. Do I intrude on who they're sleeping with? I didn't, but I'm going to start now. ...Consider this a call to arms gossip. ... -- Bilerico, a GLBT blog in Indiana, fighting their proposed state Constitutional Amendment to ban marriage and all other rights for gay and lesbian couples and families.
posted by amberglow on Jan 25, 2007 - 40 comments

"more than two centuries of surveillance in America"

Tracked In America --the stories of 25 individuals who have been targeted by the U.S. government. The stories span from World War I to the post-9/11 world.
posted by amberglow on Jan 23, 2007 - 4 comments

... the replacement of my secular education with a curriculum guided by God. ...

Through a Glass, Darkly How the Christian right is reimagining U.S. history--from Harpers. ...producing a flood of educational texts with which to wash away the stains of secular history. ...
posted by amberglow on Jan 12, 2007 - 111 comments

systematically eliminated or weakened rules designed to enforce the separation of church and state

the American God? The herders of this remote mountain village know little about America, but have learned from those who run a US-funded aid program about the American God. A Christian God. ...
posted by amberglow on Oct 11, 2006 - 32 comments

Connectedness, Betweenness, Closeness???

Big Brother 101 -- Could your social networks brand you an enemy of the state? (Popular Science Mag) And one staffer finds out it might--due to a connection to the Buffalo Six. Think 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon, but with tapping and surveillance and worse at the other end.
posted by amberglow on Sep 22, 2006 - 15 comments

the terms of his employment would be made public in the future

Albania to get more corruption, and duct-tape expert-- ... As much as Ridge's security expertise, Berisha wants him to also bring to Albania his "success story" as Governor of Pennsylvania on education, the judiciary, information technology, agriculture and money laundering. ...
posted by amberglow on Sep 5, 2006 - 17 comments

Bulldozer Politics

New Orleans City Ordinance #26031 --...those who have not been able to make the necessary repairs to their battered homes by August 29th risk having their property seized and bulldozed by the city.... Bush says today: Katrina Repair Will Take Time, but time's up for many New Orleans residents. (more here from ACORN, who has been trying to help save homes there)
posted by amberglow on Aug 23, 2006 - 62 comments

This might explain why the U.S. keeps getting caught spying on peaceful war-protestors.

DHS's CyberStorm-- --Recognizing the imminent threat hippies and assorted leftists obviously pose to us all, a massive cyber terror simulation (international and involving 115 organizations) recently came to light: ...The attack scenario detailed in the presentation is a meticulously plotted parade of cyber horribles led by a "well financed" band of leftist radicals who object to U.S. imperialism, aided by sympathetic independent actors. At the top of the pyramid is the Worldwide Anti-Globalization Alliance, which sets things off by calling for cyber sit-ins and denial-of-service attacks against U.S. interests. WAGA's radical arm, the villainous Black Hood Society, ratchets up the tension on day one by probing SCADA computerized control systems and military networks ...
posted by amberglow on Aug 17, 2006 - 28 comments

Imagine a troubled gay teenager contemplating suicide...and getting James Dobson on the other end.

1-800-SUICIDE loses govt. funding: Despite the fact that almost 2 million callers have reached help and hope over the last 8 years, and a government funded evaluation stating the benefits of 1-800-SUICIDE, the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA), a division of Health & Human Services, has decided to create their own government run system where they would have direct access to confidential data on individuals in crisis. (SAMHSA has already scrubbed their websites of any and all LGBT information, and gay youth are 2-3 times more likely to commit suicide.) Save 1-800-SUICIDE website here.
posted by amberglow on Jul 28, 2006 - 68 comments

Still, neither Nixon nor Reagan changed the division's procedures for hiring career staff

"If anything, a civil rights background is considered a liability." Meet the politically-appointed career staffers of the Justice Dept.'s Civil Rights Division: ... the kinds of cases the Civil Rights Division is bringing have undergone a shift. The division is bringing fewer voting rights and employment cases involving systematic discrimination against African-Americans, and more alleging reverse discrimination against whites and religious discrimination against Christians. ... Thorough Boston Globe article on how the administration disbanded the hiring committee in 2002 to appoint lawyers with a very different vision of what civil rights are, and the ensuring and ongoing results.
posted by amberglow on Jul 23, 2006 - 24 comments

we're paying them to report, and they take it from blogs?

A daily intelligence brief on Iraq, prepared by a private contractor for the U.S. military and companies working in Iraq--SOC-SMG Inc --paints a grim picture of life in Baghdad. The information in large sections of the brief? It came from this blog: Iraq the Model
posted by amberglow on Jul 7, 2006 - 129 comments

...action has been coordinated with VP's office...

"I am copying you on this crap since I honestly believe the competitive procurement will never happen." --a multi-billion-dollar no-bid contract to KBR/Halliburton announced only after the fact, Cheney's extensive involvement, the attempted coverup of that involvement, lies, and you. Embarrassment is not sufficient cause for exemption from the Freedom of Information Act, no matter how much some may wish. ...Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press in September 2003 Cheney stated, “I have absolutely no influence of, involvement of, knowledge of in any way, shape or form of contracts led by the [Army] Corps of Engineers or anybody else in the Federal Government.”
posted by amberglow on Jun 15, 2006 - 39 comments

"playing" America's Army

In Memoriam and in Protest --why not use an online deathmatch as a pedestal for speaking out against a war? Artist/Professor uses US Govt-developed America's Army (...placing Soldiering front and center within popular culture and showcasing the roles training, teamwork and technology play in the Army. ... ) as protest and art space. DeLappe's homepage (and jpgs) here
posted by amberglow on May 30, 2006 - 135 comments

often using “truth-based” information — to borrow from the vernacular of the military specialists who deal in the manipulation of words and images — as a substitute for truth.

Their view is that psyops can be directed toward global transregional audiences. My view is that that’s not possible because it directs psyops against our own friends and allies and even at our own public. ... In Mind Games, Columbia Journalism Review thoroughly examines the disintegrating lines between Public Affairs, Psy-Ops, IO, the public, and the truth. Some old friends are mentioned too: the Lincoln Group, the Rendon Group, the Pentagon, our own media, and others. If truth is our greatest weapon, as Rumsfeld has said, how can the administration hope to prevail in an information war when it is not honest with itself?
posted by amberglow on May 1, 2006 - 21 comments

Rule of Law?

...Bush has been aggressive about declaring his right to ignore vast swaths of laws -- many of which he says infringe on power he believes the Constitution assigns to him alone ... President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution. ... Long, eyeopening article laying out what laws have been ignored and why. ...Bush has cast a cloud over 'the whole idea that there is a rule of law," because no one can be certain of which laws Bush thinks are valid and which he thinks he can ignore. 'Where you have a president who is willing to declare vast quantities of the legislation that is passed during his term unconstitutional, it implies that he also thinks a very significant amount of the other laws that were already on the books before he became president are also unconstitutional," ...
posted by amberglow on Apr 30, 2006 - 85 comments

"this will be seen as one of the largest patronage programs in American history"

"These are just slush funds for conservative interest groups" --The Compassion Capital Fund ($148 million of our money), and the Community-Based Abstinence Education grant program ($391.7 million of our money)--just 2 of many new programs. ...The distribution of new money to conservative organizations is a small part of an estimated flood of $2 billion a year in federal grants to religious and religiously affiliated organizations.--except it's only to organizations who have policies that agree with Bush and the GOP agenda on social issues, and not about need.
posted by amberglow on Mar 22, 2006 - 61 comments

Why is there more social acceptance, but less and less progress towards legal rights and equality?

...his boyfriend Josh. --beautiful story, made all the more poignant at a time of more and more state constitutional amendments ensuring second-class citizenship, and a Democratic party urging us to just shut up already, but still give.
posted by amberglow on Mar 4, 2006 - 49 comments

D: Yes, it does, because I've already had this discussion with him, and I've already been asked to change the signs, and I did. And I looked up all the statutes.

Red State, Meet Police State --take a big anti-Bush bumper sticker, some DHS cops, and an outspoken and educated federal employee. Put them in Boise, Idaho. Mix well. "It's the First Amendment for a reason--not the last, not the middle. The first."
posted by amberglow on Feb 16, 2006 - 251 comments

it's not just Armstrong, Gannon/Guckert and their pals

The Price of Payola and Fake News? 1.6 billion dollars for just 2003-5 alone. The GAO's new report lays it out. That's how much seven federal departments spent from 2003 through the second quarter of 2005 on 343 contracts with public relations firms, advertising agencies, media organizations and individuals, according to a new Government Accountability Office report. ... The new report reveals that federal public relations spending goes far beyond "video news releases." (full report is a PDF download from there) And there's another scandal coming, if Wonkette has it right.
posted by amberglow on Feb 14, 2006 - 25 comments

even posting "Pepsi Blue" would make us liable.

"Drove my Chevy to the levee..."? That's a lawsuit. "Pass the Courvoisier"? Yup. Lawsuit too. Artwork using Barbie Dolls? Lawsuit again... It's all part of the Trademark Dilution Revision Act, which would eliminate the non-commercial "fair use" protections of trademarks in art, literature, and speech-- To amend the Trademark Act of 1946 with respect to dilution by blurring or tarnishment. It goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee on the 16th, and there's a large roster of groups fighting it, including the American Library Association, EFF, and more, saying that consumers as well as artists would be preventing from exercising their free speech rights unless it's amended.
posted by amberglow on Feb 3, 2006 - 35 comments

HAVA has forced us to purchase systems that in my opinion are not appropriate for citizens to be voting on

E-voting systems hacker sees ‘particularly bad’ security issues ...On Tuesday, Dec. 13, we conducted a hack of the Diebold AccuVote optical scan device. I wrote a five-line script in Visual Basic that would allow you to go into the central tabulator and change any vote total you wanted, leaving no logs.... More from the Washington Post here, where ... Four times over the past year Sancho told computer specialists to break in to his voting system. And on all four occasions they did, changing results with what the specialists described as relatively unsophisticated hacking techniques. ..."Can the votes of this Diebold system be hacked using the memory card?" Two people marked yes on their ballots, and six no. The optical scan machine read the ballots, and the data were transmitted to a final tabulator. The result? Seven yes, one no. ... Verified Voting and Black Box Voting have much much more on all of this.
posted by amberglow on Jan 23, 2006 - 58 comments

Bush's executive order allowing some warrantless eavesdropping on those inside the United States ­...­ is based on classified legal opinions...

"The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny." What's the article about? The NSA, and you, if you've ever called internationally or sent email overseas: ...the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible "dirty numbers" linked to Al Qaeda, ... (very long, NYT--and the NSA's mission is to spy only on communications abroad)
posted by amberglow on Dec 15, 2005 - 74 comments

...resources that could prove pivotal to understanding and better contending the central struggles of our time are underutilized ...

Talk To Action and Mother Jones mag team up for e-conference tomorrow: ...a day of thoughtful reflections on, and vigorous discussion of the role of religion and government -- as intended by the framers of the constitution, and the situation we face today. (MoJo's December issue is all about the role of religion and government, including this on Reconstructionists: A Nation Under God.) New and old media officially collaborating to highlight specific issues and futher debate--a first?
posted by amberglow on Nov 28, 2005 - 15 comments

This subpart applies to all research involving children as

Who needs bunnies when you have kids to test on? "Protections for Subjects in Human Research," a newly proposed EPA rule allows for: for government and industry scientists to treat children as human guinea pigs in chemical experiments in the following situations: 1. Children who "cannot be reasonably consulted," such as those that are mentally handicapped or orphaned newborns may be tested on. With permission from the institution or guardian in charge of the individual, the child may be exposed to chemicals for the sake of research. 2. Parental consent forms are not necessary for testing on children who have been neglected or abused. 3. Chemical studies on any children outside of the U.S. are acceptable. And don't miss the Q&A section below. Sec. 26.408 of the EPA document is where you'll find the provisions and waivers mentioned (it refers to other sections absent from the document, weirdly).
posted by amberglow on Nov 21, 2005 - 43 comments

the acknowledged general of such propaganda warfare

The Rendon Group -- covert perception managers using our taxpayer money to start wars. ... the product of a clandestine operation -- part espionage, part PR campaign -- that had been set up and funded by the CIA and the Pentagon for the express purpose of selling the world a war. ... it was hired by the CIA to help "create the conditions for the removal of Hussein from power." Working under this extraordinary transfer of secret authority, Rendon assembled a group of anti-Saddam militants, personally gave them their name -- the Iraqi National Congress -- and served as their media guru and "senior adviser" as they set out to engineer an uprising against Saddam. ... Rolling Stone thoroughly documents the way we pay to be lied into war and one of the people who do it. From Noriega and Panama through to Chalabi, Miller, al-Haideri, Bush, and you.
posted by amberglow on Nov 19, 2005 - 38 comments

canary in a coalmine? better late than never?

Anti-Defamation League speaks up against the Christianizing of America-- They're calling for a communal strategy for confronting the political and cultural initiatives of religious conservative groups, and naming the Arlington Group, Focus on the Family, The American Family Association and the Family Research Council as some of those responsible for the infrastructures throughout the country designed not just to promote traditional “Christian values,” but to actively pursue that restoration of a Christian nation. Opinions differ, of course. Foxman anticipates them in his speech, Religion in America’s Public Square: Are We Crossing the Line?: ... On one hand, there is an extreme element in the community that believes it is unsafe to confront Christianity. ... There are also those who say that because evangelicals are friends of Israel, “don’t fight them;” “don’t make them angry;” “don’t upset them.” . ...
posted by amberglow on Nov 17, 2005 - 45 comments

a trail of broken careers in his wake

Meet 42 casualties of the current Administration --they didn't die in Iraq, or New Orleans, but were beleaguered administrators, managers, and career civil servants who quit their posts in protest or were defamed, threatened, fired, forced out, demoted, or driven to retire by Bush administration strong-arming. From Bunny Greenhouse to Richard Clarke to General Zinni to lesser-known folks like James Zahn, who was prohibited on no fewer than 11 occasions from publicizing his research on the potential hazards to human health posed by airborne bacteria resulting from farm wastes. A very wide-ranging list, covering everything from Public Health to War to Terror and Torture to Education to...
posted by amberglow on Oct 16, 2005 - 28 comments

Spying on US

Meet the new watchers California's National Guard has formed a new unit: Known as the Information Synchronization, Knowledge Management and Intelligence Fusion program, the project is part of an expanding nationwide effort to better integrate military intelligence into global anti-terrorism initiatives. Although Guard officials said the new unit would not collect information on American citizens, top National Guard officials have already been involved in tracking at least one recent Mother's Day anti-war rally organized by families of slain American soldiers, according to e-mails obtained by the Mercury News.
posted by amberglow on Jun 27, 2005 - 74 comments

Lincoln Bedroom, anyone? and Kitchen and Living Room and Office and Hallways...

The Pimping of the President --Jack Abramoff and Grover Norquist Billing Clients for Face Time with G.W. Bush: ...He had just concluded his work on the Bush Transition Team as an advisor to the Department of the Interior. He had sent his personal assistant Susan Ralston to the White House to work as Rove’s personal assistant. He was a close friend, advisor, and high-dollar fundraiser for the most powerful man in Congress, Tom DeLay. Abramoff was so closely tied to the Bush Administration that he could, and did, charge two of his clients $25,000 for a White House lunch date and a meeting with the President. ... Jack Abramoff, in the news due to his shady dealings with DeLay, and Grover Norquist, and the White House. Norquist has not responded to inquiries about using the White House as a fundraiser.
posted by amberglow on Jun 3, 2005 - 11 comments

money talks, bullshit walks

Promoting Freedom or Fueling Conflict? U.S. Military Aid and Arms Transfers Since September 11--from the World Policy Institute, a report on whether we put our money where our mouth is. Statements like "Freedom will be the future of every nation and every people on Earth" might sound nice and even inspiring, but why is our own government funding overwhelmingly anti-democratic and abusive governments? ... When countries designated by the State Department’s Human Rights Report to have poor human rights records or serious patterns of abuse are factored in, 20 of the top 25 U.S. arms clients in the developing world in 2003 -- a full 80% -- were either undemocratic regimes or governments with records of major human rights abuses. ...
posted by amberglow on May 24, 2005 - 51 comments

...concerns about Owen go to the heart of what makes a good judge...

Meet Priscilla Owen, 2-time nominee for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, Senate nuclear option trigger, and "activist judge" who White House Counsel Gonzales himself criticized ...for "an unconscionable act of judicial activism" in seeking to restrict a minor's right to an abortion. ...

This PDF from People for the American Way goes case-by-case to paint a damning picture: It focuses not only on the evidence from Justice Owen’s dissenting opinions that she is a right wing judicial activist, but also on the fact that this conclusion is established by the criticism often leveled at her by her conservative colleagues on the Court, particularly including Alberto Gonzales. Indeed, during the relatively brief time that they served together on the Court, Gonzales wrote or joined numerous opinions sharply criticizing opinions written or joined by Owen. This report also addresses Justice Owen’s failure at her confirmation hearing to dispel the serious concerns that had been raised about her record. For the reasons we discuss below, the Judiciary Committee made the correct decision in refusing to confirm Priscilla Owen to the Fifth Circuit. It should make the same decision again.
posted by amberglow on May 18, 2005 - 30 comments

Cirque du DeLay?

Watch as the GOP eats its own! Thrill as the media is fed more and more damaging info! Stare in Awe at the inside information calculated to get rid of him! Marvel at the downfall (and eventual Gingrichian comeback?) of Representative DeLay!
posted by amberglow on Apr 5, 2005 - 136 comments

Payola: it's not just for radio anymore

And then there were 3 --(salon, watch ad or use bugmenot) One day after President Bush ordered his Cabinet secretaries to stop hiring commentators to help promote administration initiatives, and one day after the second high-profile conservative pundit was found to be on the federal payroll, a third embarrassing hire has emerged. Meet Michael McManus. Who's next in PayolaGate? And in the Senate, they're going to be introducing a 'Stop Government Propaganda Act.' Even Jonah Goldberg (on the right) is actually calling for a real investigation .
posted by amberglow on Jan 27, 2005 - 48 comments

...to exert a direct and positive influence in government, education, and the family...

Meet the WallBuilders --an organization that promotes the return of American public life to its religious-based heritage, according to USA Today. And the Congressional Pastor's Briefings may be of interest too: WallBuilders has been privileged to bring ministers from across the nation to Washington, DC, for an intimate briefing session with some of the top Christian Senators and Representatives now serving in Congress. The Members brief pastors on a variety of issues related to Biblical values as well as share their hearts regarding their own faith and its application to public office. ...
Wallbuilders or Mythbuilders provides a debunking of 8 historical fallacies of the group, concluding that:...In that sense, then, the name “Wallbuilders” is correct: the organization is building unnecessary walls of prejudice in an onlooking world, a word desperately needing to hear about the One who has “broken down the middle wall of division”...
posted by amberglow on Oct 28, 2004 - 24 comments

another sham

Thought June 30th was a real handover of power to the Iraqis? In a series of edicts issued earlier this spring, Mr. Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority created new commissions that effectively take away virtually all of the powers once held by several ministries. ... The new Iraqi government will have little control over its armed forces, lack the ability to make or change laws and be unable to make major decisions within specific ministries without tacit U.S. approval, say U.S. officials and others familiar with the plan.
posted by amberglow on May 26, 2004 - 19 comments

unmitigated gall

US demands war crimes immunity But human rights campaigners said the Iraq prison abuse scandal proves that the US needs to be held to account. "Given the recent revelations... the US has picked one hell of a moment to ask for special treatment," said Richard Dicker of Human Rights Watch. -- the annual renewal of US protection from international prosecution for war crimes when serving under UN auspices comes to a vote on Monday.
posted by amberglow on May 22, 2004 - 34 comments

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