Saturday, December 20, 2003

Today's entry from the St. Louis edition of the Devil's DictionaryParis Club kinky group of economic finance ministers
with a fetish for Paris Hilton.

Cheney's Roots
Kellogg Brown & Root, the Halliburton subsidary, has
charged the U.S. government more than $100 million for
gasoline. The $67 million figure reported earlier was
based on September estimates, according to a Wall
Street Journal reporter who appeared on the PBS News Hour Friday.

The uutsourcing billions in service contracts to the
military by KB&R originated in 1992, when
Vice-President Dick Cheney was Secretary of Defense
under the first Bush Bund. After leaving the
Pentagon, Cheney became Halliburton CEO in 1995.

We Surrender, Can we Have $87 billion of U.S.
taxpayer's money now?

Pretender-to-the-presidency George W. Bush announced
yesterday that cross-dresser Moammar Gadhafi, the
pretender-to-the-presidency of Libya, has agreed to
stop all programs related to weapons of mass

Knight Ridder newspapers reports, however, that until yesterday U.S.
intelligence never said that Libya had a nuclear
weapons program.

Since the U.S. cut off relations with Libya in 1986,
Gadhafi has preserved Occidental Petroleum's
investments in Libya in hopes of their eventual
return, Knight Ridder reported.

Gas War II

Since April about 250,000 cars have been imported by
Iraq from neighboring Turkey, Jordan and Syria, the
Assoicated Press reported on Saturday. The automotive
demand comes at the same time that limited fuel
supplies have pushed the black market price of gasoline
up to $1.85 a gallon in Iraq. The official Iraqi price
of gasoline is set at five cents a gallon. Meanwhile,
Vice-President Cheney's old firm, Halliburton, the
recipient of a no-bid contract from the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers, is charging U.S. taxpayers more
than $2.00 a gallon to import gasoline from Kuwait to Iraq. Do
the arithmetic.

Wartime Diplomacy
U.S. administrator of the Iraqi occupation Paul
Bremer: "We got him. ... They didn't get me."

Ask Not What Your Country Can Do for You
Following the interdiction of a boatload of hashish in
the Straits of Hormuz on Friday, a joint
"anti-terrorism" task force is asking for American
volunteers to infiltrate Amsterdam coffeehouses to
gather intelligence.

Fly Me to the Moon
A private spacecraft team backed by Paul G. Allen,
owner of St. Louis-based Charter Communications, broke
the sound barrier Wednesday in California. The team,
Scaled Composites, is attempting to win the X-Prize, a
contest set up in 1996, The St. Louis-based space race
is offering $10 million to the first
privately-financed effort that sends two manned-crafts
into space over two weeks. Meanwhile, former Charter
exec James H. "Trey" Smith III is rumored to be suiting up for the next flight. Smith is fighting a federal fraud indictment for allegedly cooking the company's
book in 2001 and 2002, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
reported on Saturday.

What Next?
Early next month, NBC will premiere a new reality TV
show, The Apprentice, in which corporate-takeover czar
Donald Trump oversees the competition, as MBAs
try their best to stab each other in the back. Trump
advises the players to: "Stay Focused, be paranoid and
get even."

Pundit Pablum
On the PBS News Hours Friday night, New York Times
columnist David Brooks offered this opinion of
Democratic presidential frontrunner Howard Dean: "He'd
turn Jingle Bells into a war song." ...

Stand Up Guy?
... While late night talk show host David Letterman, separated
at birth from his twin David Brooks, beat up
Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich
on the CBS Late Show. During his opening monolouge
Letterman joked that after Saddam's disheveled image
dominated the airwaves over the past week, Kucinich
volunteered to be checked for fleas.

Brooks and Letterman are rumored to be considering joining the World Wrestling Association circuit as a tag team.

In a letter to the editor that appeared in the St.
Louis Post-Dispatch
on Saturday, Ray Sanders of House
Springs rebuked the newspaper for siding with the
wealthy Cardinal owners' effort to gain tens of
millions of dollars in public money to build a news
stadium downtown. Sanders wrote: "At his retirement
Joseph Pulitzer encouraged writers of the
Post-Dispatch to `oppose privelaged classes and public
plunderers, never lack sympathy with the poor.' The
Post-Dispatch has sold its journalistic integrity for
a paltry four percent interest in the Cardinals.
Pulitzer would be appalled. ..."

Friday, December 19, 2003

Grease Denied
Spencer's Grill, the 57-year-old diner in Kirkwood, will be shuttered on Christmas Eve, says St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Deb Peterson. Unlike the TIF-subsidized big box stores that have recently sprung up on Kirkwood Road, the owners of Spencer's greased the griddle instead of some pols' palms.

The Big Con
Bush Bund ideologues who engineered the disinformation campaign that resulted in the invasion of Iraq are exposed in the Lies Factory, a story by investigative reporter Robert Dreyfuss in the current issue of Mother Jones magazine. Dreyfuss, who was interviewed this week on a Democracy Now radio broadcast, reveals how neo-cons in the Pentagon's secret Office of Special Planning subverted American defense policy and misled the nation into war. ...

defiler of the public's trust
... But most listeners to KDHX-FM, St. Louis' community radio station, didn't get to hear the Dreyfuss interview because the broadcast of Democracy Now now airs at 6:00 a.m. KHDX previously broadcast the show at 8:00 a.m., during morning drive time. Bumping the program back also means that St. Louisans get yesterday's news instead of the latest broadcast. An inside source has told Media Mayhem that Bev Hacker, the station manager, believes Democracy Now is too radical. A story at the St. Louis Indy Media web site gives more details.

Remember, You Paid for It
A KTVI-TV news spot this week featured a pitch for Whats Up magazine, hawked by the homeless on the streets of downtown St. Louis. Publisher Jay Swoboda, a Wash U alum, is planning on revamping the socially conscious mag next year to appeal to a broader readership and hopes to publish monthly. Purchases of Whats Up provide income to those on the street.

Feliz Navidad
Wearing a Newspaper Guild button on his lapel on last night's Donnybrook show, St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan announced that he and his family would be vacationing in Cuba over Christmas.

The Ball is in Whose Court?
Federal appeals courts in New York and California ruled that the Bush Bund could no longer jail suspected "terrorists" without access to legal counsel and access to the courts. The long overdue rulings are enco uraging signs that the courts are finally adressing the unconstiutional imposition of martial law imposed by the Cheney-Bush junta, following the World Trade Center and Pentagon disasters of 9-11.

The legal decisions, of course, come after the U.S. Sup reme Court appointed Bush president despite his loss at the polls in the November 2000 election. So placing too much faith in the judicial system to counter the current regime would be ill advised.

Today's entry from the St. Louis edition of the Devil's Dictionary
RFT an acronym that stands for nothing.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Today's entry from the St. Louis edition of the Devil's Dictionary
The Center for the Study of American Business predessor of the Weidenbaum Center; a think tank at Washington University, bankrolled by fat cats, which disseminates "trinkle-down" economic propaganda to op-ed pages; founded by Murry Weidenbaum, a Reagan-era dinosaur.

Antique TIF Show
Antique dealer and real estate tycoon Pete Rothchild asked the St. Louis TIF commission for a $415,000 tax break on Catlin Townhomes, a $2.8 million luxury condominium development he's building at West Pine and Boyle.

American Idol
James Reid, a 20-year-old man convicted of robbing the same Taco Bell restaurant twice, sang a gospel hymn, in his plea for leniency before St. Clair County Circuit Judge Annette A. Eckert earlier this week. Eckert, taking the choirboy's plea into account, nonetheless, sentenced him to 12 years in prison.

Roll Over Casolaro
In a brief stop in St. Louis yesterday, FBI director Robert Mueller touted the clause in the Patriot Act that gives federal snoops the right to blur the lines between criminal and intelligence-related investigations. Mueller, a former federal prosecutor who oversaw the truncated investigations of both BCCI and Banco Nationale Del Lavoro banking scandals, haled the multi-billion-dollar Trilogy computer system that will enable the bureau to cross reference millions of dossiers compiled by various law enforcement agencies on individuals. Do the words Islaw or Promis ring a bell?

Post-Dispatch reporters, slammed by Pulitzer Publishing Co.'s efforts to bust the Newspaper Guild, should think twice before contemplating jumping over to the Riverfront Times. The RFT briefly summarized one of the union-management contract squabbles at the Post in this week's issue, quoting Guild member Carolyn Tuft. Ironically, if a RFT reporter would have made the same remarks about the management of that paper, he or she would have been fired. New Times Inc., the Phoenix-based newspaper chain that owns the RFT, has the worst labor record in the industry. The entire editorial staff of the weekly newspaper has turned over since New Times took the helm in 1999. Among those canned is yours truly, former Postie Elizabeth Vega and longtime RFT reporter D.J. Wilson. New Times has also fired management members, including publisher Terry Coe and editor Safir Ahmed.

Only Pros Get to Play
St. Louis County is mulling over shutting down some of its 72 parks because of budget problems, the Post-Dispatch reported Thursday. But the county has enough revenue to lend more than $46 million to the Cardinal owners so they can build a new stadium downtown, leaving members of county softball leagues wondering why Billy DeWitt and Mercer Reynolds, Dubah's pals, get preferential treatment.

A Breath of Stale Air
Environmental Protection Agency administrator Michael Leavitt breezed through St. Louis yesterday in an effort to bolster support for the Bush Bund's plans to reduce air pollution through the buying and selling of pollution credits by industrial polluters. The plan, as reported by the Post-Dispatch, would take a dozen years to see any measurable results. Meanwhile, construction of the world's largest cement kiln moves forward in northern Ste. Genevieve County.

Taking Care of Business
The Washington University School of Business has received a$3 million grant to add to its already hefty coffers, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported yesterday. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation gave the dough so Wash U could further expand its entrepreneurship program. The additional money comes at a time when university insiders says the school is making a killing through restricting access to parking and hiking the rates.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Dead Husseins Tell No Tales
In a press conference yesterday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that the CIA would be in charge of interrogating captured Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. At the same time, the Bush Bund has indicated that it favors allowing an Iraqi tribunal to prosecute and execute Hussein by as early as next summer. Both acts seem predicated on keeping Hussein silenced until Bush can be re-elected. If Hussein was afforded an American trial, as former Panamanian strongman Manuel Noreiga was under Pappy Bush's regime, there's no telling what would come out. With competent attorneys, Hussein's defense would almost certainly include his cooperation with the CIA in the past and his acceptance of American military hardware, which was generously provided by the first Bush Bund in the late 1980s and early 1990s, prior to the first Gulf war.

Cheney's the One
After being exposed for overcharging the U.S. government more than $61 million for gasoline imported to Iraq, two Halliburton subsidiaries filed for bankruptcy Tuesday, according to wire service reports. DII Industries and the infamous Kellogg Brown & Root made the move to implement their settlement plan with more than 400,000 people who have sued over injuries from asbestos and silica exposure. KB&R's exorbitant charges for services rendered in Iraq, including another $67 million for cafeteria services, must have been an effort to balance the already cooked books.

A News Shapers Love-In
New York Times reporter Judith Miller, aka, the "germ lady," participated in a roundtable discussion on Iraq on the Charlie Rose show last night. Joining her on the panel was former colleague Leslie Gelb, now a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Earlier this year, Miller's front page story in the Times reported that evidence of bacterial warfare were discovered in Iraq. The claim was later found to be bogus. Unlike former Times reporter Jason Blair, however, Miller kept her job. During the telecast last night, Miller frequently smiled while discussing the post-Saddam situation in the Mideast. It was often difficult to separate her views from those of policy wonk Gelb. The high spirits of Gelb and Miller would probably have disturbed patients in the amputee ward at the Walter Reed Medical Center, if they hadn't already nodded out from the morphine.

Repeat Performance
Former St. Louis County Executive Gene McNary is considering running for the Republican nomination for his old job, Jerry Berger reporter today. McNary was first elected to the post in 1976 and left in 1990, after President George H.W. Bush appointed him to head the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Drug Dealers
The price of a vile of flu vaccine has skyrocketed due to price gouging by manufactuers and distributors of the drug, the St. Louis Post-Disptach reported today. The cost rose from $40 to $215. Industry sources are quoted as saying that the increase is legal and a simple matter of supply and demand. Instead of importing the drug from Canada, perhaps the entire U.S. population should consider migrating north of the border.

Back to the Drawing Board
Wire service reports indicate that an attempt replicate the Wright Brothers flight in Kill Devil Hills, S.C. failed today. The ceremony had been called to celebrate the the 100th anniversary of the occasion.

"I am Not a Crook"
The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that Attorney General John Ashcroft's political campaign and political action committee had been fined $37,000 for campaign finance violations. Ashcroft lost his 2000 senate re-election bid to the widow of the late Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan. The governor died in a small aircraft crash weeks before the November 2000 election.

According to Plan
Monsanto's spinoff Solutia filed for bankruptcy, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Wednesday. The move allows the chemical company to avoid liability for future environmental lawsuits. Chapter 11 also permits the company to refuse to honor pension plans for thousands of retired Monsanto employees. The bankrucptcy will also likely result in current employees losing much or all of the retirement savings in the company's stock plan. When Monsanto, spun off the the company in 1997, it appeared even then that these were among the reasons for doing so.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

The Puppet Show, Act II
Paranoia aside, the political capital gained by the Bush Bund's capture of Saddam Hussein couldn't have come at a more opportune time. Approval of the pretender-to-the presidency's performance has plummeted in recent months.

Consider the coincidental machinations that corresponded with U.S. Army 4th Infantry's catch:

*The capture distracts attention from the war profitteering of VP Cheney's old firm, Halliburton.

*Democratic standard bearer Al Gore, backs front runner Howard Dean's nomination. During his endorsement speech, he rails against the quagmire that Bush has created in Iraq.

*Dean's long-planned foreign policy speech must be revised at the last minute, after Hussein is caught less than 48 hours before the Democratic candidate was scheduled to give the address.

* Republican operative and bagman James Baker embarks on a flurry of European tete-a-tetes to shore up flagging relations with allies who are owed big bucks by the former Iraqi regime.

*Secretary of State Colin Powell, a voice of moderation within the Bund, is sidelined due to prostate surgery. Indications are that Powell will be cutting back on his workload. He has already announce he will not serve a second term as the U.S. chief diplomat.

Reports indicate Hussein seemed disoriented at the time of his capture, which has led Arab news sources to speculate on whether he had been drugged. One thing is certain: U.S. intelligence had deduced Hussein's location before the military moved on the hideout near Tikrit. But it remains unclear as to exactly when the information was provided. Media accounts have reported that the informant who divulged the location was interrogated several days earlier; enough time for Hussein's capture to be orchestrated much like the rescue of Pvt. Jessica Lynch or the toppling of the statue of Hussein last spring.

As far-fetched as this supposition may seem, the media, through its total reliance on "official sources," has failed to provide enough independent confirmation to dispel doubt.

Today's entry from the St. Louis edition of the Devil's Dictionary
TIF acronym standing for Tax Insolvency Financing.

There Goes the Neighborhood
While Maplewood rips down an entire neighborhood to make way for more big box stores on Hanley Road, a plan to "revitalize" a six-mile stretch of Manchester Road in that town and the communities of Brentwood, Rock Hill, Glendale, Warson Woods and Kirkwood is flying under media radar. The Manchester Corridor Revitalization Plan (click on RPF releases) is being carried out under the auspice of the East-West Gateway Coordinating Council.

Some Brentwood residents are questioning the plan because of the way in which other Tax Increment Financing (TIF) developments have been handled. Accusations of insider dealing between politicians and real estate developers abound. The same lawyers and businessmen who have profited from TIF projects in the past are lined up, again. Adding to the allegations are thousands of dollars in donations contributed to Mayor Pat Brown, an ally of former Mayor Mark Kurtz (scroll down), who now works for the developer who built Brentwood's new police station. A vote on the issue is expected next spring in effected municipalities. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, the Geeks Rave On
To celebrate the holiday season, Fear Factor, CBS TV's highly-related "reality" series featured Mandy, a former Miss Illinois, eating reindeer testicles and washing it down with 100-year-old egg nog. Cheers!

The Nature of the Beast
With few exceptions, the capture of Saddam Hussein offers a glimpse of the American propaganda machine in high gear. Ubiquitous images released by the U.S. Army of a disheveled Hussein have been combined with a barrage of overtly slanted news stories. Here are a few of the most telling examples of the inherently biased coverage in last 24 hours.

*NPR's All Things Considered
During an interview, host Robert Siegel questioned the efficacy of a trial, suggesting instead that Hussein should be lynched like Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.

*PBS's Charlie Rose Show
With a smirk on his face, CBS correspondent David Martin described how "squeezing" (an euphemism for interrogation and perhaps torture) an Iraqi citizen for information led to Saddam's whereabouts.

*Inside Edition
Viewers of the lightweight infotainment program were provided insights by author Gerald Posner, best known for his "lone nut" theories on the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Posner was identified at the bottom of the screen as a "terrorism expert."

Inside Edition also reported without question interrogation techniques to which Hussein will likely be subjected, including: depriving the former leader of water and sleep and prohibiting him from using the toilet, thereby, forcing him to urinate and defecate on himself.

The exception to the ruled was NPR's senior analyst Daniel Shorr. Shorr noted that a vow by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to provide Hussein protection under the rules of Geneva Convention had already been violated by releasing humilating images of Hussein to the media. In the past, the U.S. government has strongly protested the same kinds of images, when its own prisoners of war have been disseminated to the press.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Big Stink
After profitting in more than one way in building the Page Avenue extension, Fred Weber CEO Thomas P. Dunne has encountered difficulties in being granted approval for a dump in South County. Dunne is the CBC High School chum of Apex Oil wheeler-dealer Tony Novelly. In the past, at least, the two have had off-shore business interests worthy of public scrutiny.

The Hindu Times reports that among the items confiscated during Saddam Hussein's capture were $750,000 in one hundred dollar bills, a pistol, two AK-47 rifles and a "white and orange taxi." Members of the international press corps are now speculating whether this same white and orange taxi and its disheveled driver were employed earlier in the Iraq War by New York Time's correspondent John F. Burns. Unnamed sources within the press corps recall the striking contrast between Burn's blow-dried hair and trimmed beard and his interpreter/driver's unkempt appearance.

Today's entry from the St. Louis edition of the Devil's Dictionary
2004a corporate welfare program set up by fat cats to benefit under-employed urban planners.

My Weekly Reader
Labor Tribune The St. Louis Newspaper Guild overwhelmingly to authorize a strike against the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. By voice vote, Guild members also unanimously decided to reject any form of open shop clause that would permit employees to work within union jurisdiction without joining the Guild.

St. Louis Review Two proposed laws seeking a moratorium and study of Missouri's death penalty will be considered by the state legislature in the next session.

Low-Water Mark
The Page Avenue Extension, the newest means for St. Charles County residents to burn gas in their SUVs, opened yesterday with much hoopla and little or no reporting on the construction of the bridge's controversial history. Omitted from media accounts was the fact that the design of the bridge approach in St. Louis County will cause the 10-lane highway to be submerged by the Missouri River during high water.

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