Saturday, September 25, 2004

Bush's Grandfather Aided Nazi Germany 

Guardian (London), Sept. 25:

George Bush's grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany.

The Guardian has obtained confirmation from newly discovered files in the US National Archives that a firm of which Prescott Bush was a director was involved with the financial architects of Nazism.

His business dealings, which continued until his company's assets were seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act, has led more than 60 years later to a civil action for damages being brought in Germany against the Bush family by two former slave labourers at Auschwitz and to a hum of pre-election controversy.

The evidence has also prompted one former US Nazi war crimes prosecutor to argue that the late senator's action should have been grounds for prosecution for giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

The debate over Prescott Bush's behaviour has been bubbling under the surface for some time. There has been a steady internet chatter about the "Bush/Nazi" connection, much of it inaccurate and unfair. But the new documents, many of which were only declassified last year, show that even after America had entered the war and when there was already significant information about the Nazis' plans and policies, he worked for and profited from companies closely involved with the very German businesses that financed Hitler's rise to power. It has also been suggested that the money he made from these dealings helped to establish the Bush family fortune and set up its political dynasty.

Remarkably, little of Bush's dealings with Germany has received public scrutiny, partly because of the secret status of the documentation involving him. But now the multibillion dollar legal action for damages by two Holocaust survivors against the Bush family, and the imminent publication of three books on the subject are threatening to make Prescott Bush's business history an uncomfortable issue for his grandson, George W, as he seeks re-election.

While there is no suggestion that Prescott Bush was sympathetic to the Nazi cause, the documents reveal that the firm he worked for, Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH), acted as a US base for the German industrialist, Fritz Thyssen, who helped finance Hitler in the 1930s before falling out with him at the end of the decade. The Guardian has seen evidence that shows Bush was the director of the New York-based Union Banking Corporation (UBC) that represented Thyssen's US interests and he continued to work for the bank after America entered the war. ...

[read more]

Thursday, September 23, 2004

The Edge Celebrates 30 Years of Serving the Mob 

St. Louis Post-Dispatch gossip columnist Deb Peterson reported yesterday that the Edge restaurant on LaSalle will be celebrating its 30th anniversary today. The eatery is the gathering place for St. Louis and Illinois members of organized crime.

Nixon-Bush Crony to Probe CBS Report 

San Jose Mercury News, Sept. 23:

CBS said Wednesday that Dick Thornburgh, a former attorney general, and Louis Boccardi, a former top executive of the Associated Press, will investigate the journalistic breakdowns that led to the broadcast of a flawed ``60 Minutes'' report about President Bush's National Guard service.

While the network characterized the two men as constituting an independent panel, Thornburgh's appointment upset Dan Rather, the anchor who broadcast the report and initially vouched for documents at its heart, according to four colleagues and associates.

Rather considers Thornburgh a confounding choice in part because he served two Republican presidents, Bush's father and Richard Nixon, with whom Rather publicly clashed, the colleagues and associates said.

Thornburgh also has his own rocky history with CBS. In 1989, as attorney general, he drew the ire of CBS News and other news media organizations when the Justice Department was reportedly considering subpoenas for the telephone records of a CBS News correspondent in an investigation of leaks about an inquiry about a Congress member's office.

Boccardi, who worked for 36 years at the Associated Press before retiring last year, was one of three outsiders who served last year on a committee with reporters and editors of the New York Times that investigated the repeated fabrications of a former reporter, Jayson Blair. Thornburgh, an ex-governor of Pennsylvania, was appointed in 2002 to investigate the WorldCom fraud.

Rather declined to comment on the appointments. But his representative said, ``Mr. Rather fully intends to cooperate.''

Boccardi said he and Thornburgh had been assured that they would have the full cooperation of the news division in examining basic questions like how this story was handled and ``what safeguards were there to prevent what happened and why they didn't work.''

Boccardi said he and Thornburgh would submit their report directly to Andrew Heyward, president of CBS News, and Leslie Moonves, chairman of CBS Television and co-president of the CBS parent, Viacom. Boccardi said that among his preconditions for taking the post was that the report also be made public, an assurance CBS has given.

Through an aide, Thornburgh declined an interview request.

One important line of inquiry is widely expected to be the role of Mary Mapes, the lead producer of the report. Mapes arranged the receiving of the documents, which were said to be from the personal files of Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, Bush's commander in the Texas Air National Guard. The papers appeared to be something of a bombshell, reportedly documenting how Killian, who died 20 years ago, had felt pressure to ``sugarcoat'' Bush's record because the lieutenant, whose father was then the ambassador to the United Nations, was ``talking to someone upstairs.''

Monday, CBS News said Bill Burkett, a former officer in the Texas National Guard who gave the documents to Mapes, had misled producers about how he had obtained them.

[read more]

Toked on Tortola 

Relating to the First Lady's pot sales, author Kitty Kelley's source now says his remarks were taken out of context. But there has been no refutation of other constroversial aspects of her recently published book, including Dubya snorting coke at Camp David and Laura and Dubya toking up on the island of Tortola.

Far out! Where the hell is Tortola, man?

New York Times, Sept. 15:

..."The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty," published by Doubleday this week, maintains that George W. Bush snorted cocaine at Camp David while his father was president. That he and Laura Bush once enjoyed "heavy pot-smoking parties" on the island of Tortola. That Laura Bush was "a go-to girl for dime bags of marijuana" back when she was a college student. ...

[read more]

Hastert Is a "Dunderhead" 

Palm Beach Post, Sept. 23:

The latest Really Stupid Comment about John Kerry by a Republican comes from House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill. At a GOP fund-raiser on Saturday, Rep. Hastert offered up the theory that Al-Qaeda will work in its violent way to elect Sen. Kerry.

In keeping with the standards of talk TV and radio, where mindless rants pass for commentary, Rep. Hastert acknowledged that he had no "data or intelligence to tell me one thing or another," but that Osama bin Laden and friends would prefer to have Sen. Kerry as an adversary over President Bush because the terrorist group could operate more freely. Given the chance to back away from the comment, Rep. Hastert preferred to keep sounding like a dunderhead. ...

[read more]

The Origin of the GOP Ratfuckers 

All the President's Men, by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, 1974:

pg 126

"... All belonged to a campus political party called Trojans for Representative Government. The Trojans called their brand of electioneering "ratfucking." Ballot boxes were stuffed, spies were planted in the opposition camp, and bogus campaign literature abounded. (Ron) Ziegler and (Dwight) Chapin had hooked onto Richard Nixon's 1962 campaign for governor of California -- managed by Bob Haldeman. After graduation, Ziegler and Chapin and (Tim) Elbourne had joined the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in Los Angeles, where Haldeman was vice president. (Donald) Segretti had been summoned to Washington and trained to work in a presidential election, according to (UPI and Washington Post reporter) Karyln Barker's friend.

Bernstein called the Justice Department official who had originally told him that Sergretti was part of the Watergate investigation. It was Saturday, Oct. 7.

"No, I can't talk about him," the official said once more. That's right even though he's not directly linked to Watergate, to the break-in ... Obviously, I came across him through the investigation. ... Yes, political sabotage is associated with Segretti. I've heard a term for it, `ratfucking.' ..."

"Ratfucking?" The word struck a raw nerve with a Justice Department attorney. "You can go right to the top on that one. I was shocked when I learned about it. I couldn't believe it. These are public servants? God. It's nauseating. You're talking about the fellows who come from the best schools in the country. Men who run the government!

"If the the Justice Department could find a law against it, a jur of laymen would convict them on that. It's absolutely dispicable. Sergetti? He's indescribable. It would be useful for you to write an article about this type of conduct. It was so shocked. I didn't understand it. It's completely immoral. All these people, unbelievable. Look at (E. Howard) Hunt. I don't think he's involved in the ratfucking. But he's capable of anything. And he had access to the White House.

"The press hasn't brought that home. You're dealing with people who act like this was Dodge City not the capital of the United States. Hunt bringing guns into the White House."

Berstein was impressed. He had never known the man to be so outraged.

The Chapin-Segretti connection?

"Look at it more to see if your facts are straight," the attorney advised.

The secret fund -- had it financed the ratfucking?

"That's a fruitful area." He was calm for a moment, then became angry again. "Why else would they have all that money lying around? It's a scandal. But it will all come out at the trial. ..."

International Poll Watchers Convene in St. Louis 

... The twenty-member delegation is in the middle of the first stage of their fact-finding mission, having met with the Federal Election Commission, other government organizations, and citizen advocacy groups in Washington, D.C.. They are touring swing states of Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, and Ohio. At the end of this first stage, they will report on their conclusions and offer policy recommendations to both government agencies and voter advocacy groups.

They will return in late October to follow up on the most pressing issues and problems in the election system. On election day, "the monitors will join domestic observers as they watch over voting activities. They there are any controversies in the wake of the election, the team will quickly travel to those areas to offer outside, non-partisan mediation of any conflicts." Global Exchange, via similar delegations, has monitored elections in twenty countries, worldwide.
I was pleased to hear that Dr. Gary Higgs, director of the Stupp GIS Laboratory at Saint Louis University, recommended me for a meeting with four members of the delegation to discuss my methods on mapping voter behavior and my observations on the U.S. electoral system.

After their long journey, making stops at key places across the country, I met with them, earlier this eve, at India Rasoi in the Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis City. All of them seemed rejuvenated by the flavorful cuisine and variety of dishes, such as mixed vegetables in a spicy cream sauce, chicken in curry, chicken in tomato-based herb sauce, okra and sauce, garlic flatbread, rice, and imported Indian beer. I had recommended the restaurant, replete in flavor, fitting for a handful of people who are part of a palette of this world.
An hour earlier, just down the block, I had a tall glass of refreshing iced jasmine green tea at Cha Yun, my favorite sushi bar. I was trading musings and lamentations with Erin S. about our respective civic/political actions. She was president of the College Democrats at Saint Louis University last year.

At the restaurant I became acquainted with Advocate Pansy Tlakula, Chief Electoral Officer of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of South Africa; Terence Humphreys of England, Chief Executive of Electoral Reform International Services; Damaso G. Magbual of the Philippines, Chairman of the National Capital Region and Deputy Secretary General for the National Citizens Movement for Free Elections in Asia; and, the Honorable David MacDonald, a former Minister of Communications of the Canadian Parliament. Carleen explained her involvement with Global Exchange, based in San Francisco, and her role as liaison for Fair Elections. ...

[read more]

Throw the Liars Out 

Rabid fascist Ann Coulter poses at the grave
of her hero, Joe McCarthy.

Kos, Sept. 19:

... They lied about Iraq.  They lied about the tax cuts.  They lied about Medicare.  It is now difficult to find an instance where they have told the truth about anything.

Why now?  It is obvious - their lies are being exposed - the biggest lies - the criminal lies - the ones that have led to the unnecessary deaths of over 1000 American patriots in Iraq - are now patent.  No WMDs.  No strategy for exit, much less success in Iraq.

The lies about 9/11.

The lies about the War on Terror.

The lies about Abu Ghraib.

These are times that try mens' souls.  The next 40 days present a test of courage and will for the Media, for Democrats, for us.  These scoundrels must be removed from office.  Our integrity, our principles as a nation, demand it.

Our candidates are answering the call.  Sens. Kerry and Edwards are out every day calling the scoundrels to account.  We must do the same. We must demand that our Press do the same.  

There is no other choice.  Our future as a nation depends on it. ...

[read more]

Another Nixon Ratfucker Behind the Forged CBS Docs? 

Roger Stone, a GOP operative dating back to the Nixon dirty tricks era, may have been the source of the forged documents purportedly written by Bush's former commanding officer in the Texas Air National Guard, according to the New York Post.

John O'Neill, the co-author of "Unfit to Command," and one of the Swift Boat Veteran for Lies, also worked as a Nixon ratfucker in the early 1970s, meeting with Tricky Dick and Chuck Colson in the Oval Office to plan an effort to discredit Kerry's anti-war position.

Bush's original choice to lead the 9/11 investigation, of course, was none other than Nixon henchman Henry Kissinger, a war criminal. Kissinger backed out of the appointment when pressed to name the clients he represents in his consulting business.

[read more]

White House Runs Out of Facts on Iraq 

The White House web site dedicated to the "Iraqi fact of the day" hasn't published anything new since June 29. That's a fact!

[read more]

A Condiment with a Cause 

Need to spice up your Freedom Fries and support the troops at the same time? Help pay for a dead guy's kid to go to college by buying W Ketchup.

[read more]

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Michael Moore: The Sky Isn't Falling, You Ninnies! 

Michaelmoore.com, Sept. 20:

Dear Friends,

Enough of the handwringing! Enough of the doomsaying! Do I have to come there and personally calm you down? Stop with all the defeatism, OK? Bush IS a goner -- IF we all just quit our whining and bellyaching and stop shaking like a bunch of nervous ninnies. Geez, this is embarrassing! The Republicans are laughing at us. Do you ever see them cry, "Oh, it's all over! We are finished! Bush can't win! Waaaaaa!"

Hell no. It's never over for them until the last ballot is shredded. They are never finished -- they just keeping moving forward like sharks that never sleep, always pushing, pulling, kicking, blocking, lying.

They are relentless and that is why we secretly admire them -- they just simply never, ever give up. Only 30% of the country calls itself "Republican," yet the Republicans own it all -- the White House, both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court and the majority of the governorships. How do you think they've been able to pull that off considering they are a minority? It's because they eat you and me and every other liberal for breakfast and then spend the rest of the day wreaking havoc on the planet.

Look at us -- what a bunch of crybabies. Bush gets a bounce after his convention and you would have thought the Germans had run through Poland again. The Bushies are coming, the Bushies are coming! Yes, they caught Kerry asleep on the Swift Boat thing. Yes, they found the frequency in Dan Rather and ran with it. Suddenly it's like, "THE END IS NEAR! THE SKY IS FALLING!"

No, it is not. ...

[read more]

1972, the Year Bush Fell Off the Radar Screen 

Washington Post, Sept. 21:

The New York Times put the relevant questions on the table yesterday in a lengthy review of Bush's life in 1972, "the year George W. Bush dropped off the radar screen," as the Times called it. The issues about Bush's National Guard service, the Times wrote, include "why he failed to take his pilot's physical and whether he fulfilled his commitment to the guard."

Oh, I can hear the groaning: "But why are we still talking about Vietnam?" A fair question that has several compelling answers.

First, except for John McCain, Republicans were conspicuously happy to have a front group spread untruths about John Kerry's Vietnam service in August and watch as the misleading claims were amplified by the supposedly liberal media. The Vietnam era was relevant as long as it could be used to raise character questions about Kerry. But as soon as the questioning turned to Bush's character, we were supposed to call the whole thing off. Why? Because the media were supposed to question Kerry's character but not Bush's.

And, please, none of this nonsense about how Kerry "opened the door" to the assault on his Vietnam years by highlighting his service at the Democratic National Convention. Nothing any candidate does should ever be seen as "opening the door" to lies about his past. Besides, Vietnam veterans with Republican ties were going after Kerry's war record long before the Democratic convention. ...

[read more]

Troops to Prez: Bush Go Home! 

Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 21:

Inside dusty, barricaded camps around Iraq, groups of American troops in between missions are gathering around screens to view an unlikely choice from the US box office: "Fahrenheit 9-11," Michael Moore's controversial documentary attacking the commander-in-chief.

"Everyone's watching it," says a Marine corporal at an outpost in Ramadi that is mortared by insurgents daily. "It's shaping a lot of people's image of Bush."

The film's prevalence is one sign of a discernible countercurrent among US troops in Iraq - those who blame President Bush for entangling them in what they see as a misguided war. Conventional wisdom holds that the troops are staunchly pro-Bush, and many are. But bitterness over long, dangerous deployments is producing, at a minimum, pockets of support for Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry, in part because he's seen as likely to withdraw American forces from Iraq more quickly.

"[For] 9 out of 10 of the people I talk to, it wouldn't matter who ran against Bush - they'd vote for them," said a US soldier in the southern city of Najaf, seeking out a reporter to make his views known. "People are so fed up with Iraq, and fed up with Bush."

With only three weeks until an Oct. 11 deadline set for hundreds of thousands of US troops abroad to mail in absentee ballots, this segment of the military vote is important - symbolically, as a reflection on Bush as a wartime commander, and politically, as absentee ballots could end up tipping the balance in closely contested states. ...

[read more]

Feds Order Turn Over of Passenger Records 

International Herald Tribune, Sept. 22:

The Transportation Security Administration has said that it will require each airline in the United States to turn over records on every passenger it carried domestically in the month of June, so that it can test a system to match passenger names against lists of known or suspected terrorists.

The data that will be ordered varies from airline to airline. It includes the passenger's name, address, telephone number and flight number. It may also include the names of others traveling in the same party, meal preference, whether the reservation was changed, method of payment and comments of all types by airline employees, such as whether a passenger was drunk or belligerent.

The department placed several documents related to the proposal in the Federal Register on Wednesday, for public comment, a first for the agency. The transportation security agency is promising to listen to airlines, privacy advocates and others who opposed an earlier system.

"We're giving them a chance to comment on the order, which we almost never do," said Justin Oberman, director of the transportation security agency's Office of National Risk Assessment. "We want to do this collaboratively."

The agency plans to issue the new order 10 days after the comment period ends, and begin the program sometime in the spring.

By demanding the entire airline record, the agency will receive not only the travelers' names, phone numbers and addresses, but also information like "whether you ordered the low-salt, kosher meal and who is sleeping in your hotel room," said Barry Steinhart, of the American Civil Liberties Union. It was just that broad sweep that led the European Parliament to ask the European Union's highest court to annul a treaty between the EU and the United States for sharing information about trans-Atlantic airline passengers. The European Commission, the EU's executive body, and EU governments signed an agreement with the United States in May on sharing such information, despite privacy objections from Parliament. The agreement compels European airlines to turn over 34 pieces of information about each passenger.

The U.S. agency says that its goal for the new plan is to reduce the number of people selected for more intensive screening at airports, including "wanding," pat-downs and hand-searches of carry-ons, and to increase the chance that people on government "watch lists" will be searched.

Under the current system, the airlines check their passengers' names against government lists of suspicious persons.

But the government, fearful that the lists could fall into the wrong hands, does not give the airlines all the names.

The new order, which will take effect after a 30-day comment period, would require airlines to provide the same kind of information on passengers that several airlines, including JetBlue and Northwest, turned over voluntarily to the government or to a private company. The airlines were embarrassed by the disclosure that they had been voluntarily doing that.

"We believe the government needs to have a legal order to compel production of this data," said Jack Evans, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association, the trade group of the major carriers. He added that delivering the passenger information under government order would protect the carriers from lawsuits from their passengers.

The proposal for a new program, called "Secure Flight," replaces a controversial program that was to be called Capps 2, which stands for "computer assisted passenger prescreening system." But the new program appears to contain some of the elements that privacy advocates found objectionable in the first proposal.

In the documents in the Federal Register, the transportation security agency said that it had dropped Capps 2 because of objections of "mission creep," which means it had expanded to include things outside of its original purpose. Capps 2 would have been used not only to determine who should be subjected to additional scrutiny before boarding and who was on the "no fly" list, but also to apprehend people for whom there were outstanding warrants for violent crime. The new program would not be used to apprehend people wanted for violent crimes, officials said.

Steinhart, of the American Civil Liberties Union, said that there was nothing to prevent the government from reviving the idea of using the airport security system to apprehend people wanted for unrelated crimes. But he added that his group had never opposed the idea of having the government check passenger names against a watch list, rather than the airlines.

"The question is not whether TSA should do the administration, it's what program they should be administering," he said, referring to the transportation security agency. He said he was struck by the argument that the agency did not trust the airlines with all the names of possible terrorists. "If they weren't giving the worst names to airlines, what were they doing? Who were they screening then?" he said. ...

[read more]

Cat Stevens Pegged as Terrorist 

MTV, Sept. 22:

It truly is a wild world for Cat Stevens.

The singer, who adopted the Muslim name Yusuf Islam in 1977, was denied entry to the United States on Tuesday when his name was found on an anti-terrorist watch list.

Islam's United Airlines flight, scheduled to fly from London to Washington, D.C., was diverted on Tuesday after the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency found the singer's name on the list, created to prevent terrorists from boarding flights. The singer's name was found on the list after the plane was already in the air, according to CNN. ...

[read more]

Scumbags Tied to Delay Indicted in Texas 

CBS News, Sept. 21:

Three consultants to a political action committee formed by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay have been indicted by a Texas grand jury and charged with making illegal campaign contributions.

Also charged were eight corporate donors, including Sears and Cracker Barrel.

DeLay, a Texas Republican, was not charged.

The grand jury has been investigating whether $2.5 million in corporate funds were used illegally to help Republican candidates win elections in 2002 that gave the GOP a majority in the Texas House for the first time since Reconstruction. The GOP later used its majority to redraw Texas' congressional districts to favor Republican candidates.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that those charged include John Colyandro, the executive director of DeLay's PAC, Texans for a Republican Majority; James Ellis, a key aide to DeLay; and Warren Robold, aWashington, D.C., fund-raiser.

Ellis was charged with money laundering. Colyandro and RoBold were charged with unlawful acceptance of corporate political contributions. The eight companies were charged with making illegal political contributions. ...

[read more]


CBS News via Infoshop News, Sept. 17, 20:

Convinced that al Qaeda is still determined to disrupt the U.S. fall elections by an attack on the homeland, FBI officials here are preparing a massive counter-offensive of interrogations, surveillance and possible detentions they hope will disrupt the terrorist plans, reports CBS News Correspondent Jim Stewart.

FBI field offices and Homeland Security agencies will be advised of "extraordinary measures" that will go into place "beginning the first week of October through the elections."

An internal e-mail advisory to supervisory agents this week from the FBI's "'04 Threat Task Force" said the purpose of the counter-offensive is "to foster the impression that law enforcement is focused on individuals who may be a threat."

Specifically, the plan calls for "aggressive - even obvious - surveillance" techniques to be used on a short list of people suspected of being terrorist sympathizers, but who have not committed a crime. Other "persons of interest," including their family members, may also be brought in for questioning, one source said.

All recent truck thefts, chemical thefts and suspicious cargo truck rentals will also be reviewed as part of the plan. Mosques will be revisited and members asked whether they've observed any suspicious behavior.

Throwing hundreds of agents on the street and conducting invasive surveillance has become a standard post-9/11 tactic for the bureau, which hopes at a minimum to force terrorists go back into hiding and re-think their plan.

Some officials believe it was just such tactics that foiled the remainder of al Qaeda's New Year's bomb plot in January 2000 after agents arrested one operative, Ahmed Ressam, in Port Angeles, Wash., with a car trunk full of explosive material.

The bureau also knows it can expect to be criticized for the strategy if it goes too far. One element of the plan calls for addressing what some officials fears could be a wave of protests from Arab-Americans and civil libertarians once the so-called "October Plan" kicks off. ...

[read more]

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Kerry's Speech 

Speech delivered by presidential candidate John Kerry at New York University on Sept. 20:

... In June, the President declared, “The Iraqi people have their country back.” Just last week, he told us: “This country is headed toward democracy… Freedom is on the march.”

But the administration’s own official intelligence estimate, given to the President last July, tells a very different story.

According to press reports, the intelligence estimate totally contradicts what the President is saying to the American people.

So do the facts on the ground.

Security is deteriorating, for us and for the Iraqis.

42 Americans died in Iraq in June -- the month before the handover. But 54 died in July…66 in August… and already 54 halfway through September.

And more than 1,100 Americans were wounded in August – more than in any other month since the invasion.

We are fighting a growing insurgency in an ever widening war-zone. In March, insurgents attacked our forces 700 times. In August, they attacked 2,700 times – a 400% increase.

Falluja…Ramadi… Samarra … even parts of Baghdad – are now “no go zones”… breeding grounds for terrorists who are free to plot and launch attacks against our soldiers. The radical Shi’a cleric, Moktada al-Sadr, who’s accused of complicity in the murder of Americans, holds more sway in the suburbs of Baghdad.

Violence against Iraqis… from bombings to kidnappings to intimidation … is on the rise.

Basic living conditions are also deteriorating.

Residents of Baghdad are suffering electricity blackouts lasting up to 14 hours a day.

Raw sewage fills the streets, rising above the hubcaps of our Humvees. Children wade through garbage on their way to school.

Unemployment is over 50 percent. Insurgents are able to find plenty of people willing to take $150 for tossing grenades at passing U.S. convoys.

Yes, there has been some progress, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of our soldiers and civilians in Iraq. Schools, shops and hospitals have been opened. In parts of Iraq, normalcy actually prevails.

But most Iraqis have lost faith in our ability to deliver meaningful improvements to their lives. So they’re sitting on the fence… instead of siding with us against the insurgents.

That is the truth. The truth that the Commander in Chief owes to our troops and the American people. ...

[read more]

The "Let It Happen on Purpose" Theory 

Truthout.com, June 2002

by William Rivers Pitt

Stanley Hilton, a San Francisco attorney and former aide to Senator Bob Dole, filed a $7 billion lawsuit in U.S. District Court on June 3rd. The class-action suit names ten defendants, among whom are George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld and Norman Mineta.

Hilton's suit charges Bush and his administration with allowing the September 11th attacks to take place so as to reap political benefits from the catastrophe. Hilton alleges that Osama bin Laden is being used as a scapegoat by an administration that ignored pressing warnings of the attack and refused to round up suspected terrorists beforehand. Hilton alleges the ultimate motivation behind these acts was achieved when the Taliban were replaced by American military forces with a regime friendly to America and its oil interests in the region.

Hilton's plaintiffs in this case are the families of 14 victims of 9/11, numbering 400 people nationwide. These are the same families that rallied in Washington recently to advocate for an independent investigation into the attacks. The current 9/11 hearings are being conducted by Congress behind closed doors, a situation these families find unacceptable.

Mr. Hilton, by filing his lawsuit, has joined the ranks of an ever-increasing body of Americans who subscribe to what they call the LIHOP Theory. LIHOP stands for Let It Happen On Purpose. The LIHOP Theory puts forward the accusation that Bush and his people allowed the September 11th attacks to take place, despite the fact that they had been repeatedly warned of an impending strike. ...

[read more]

Cheney the Viper, Terror of the Pine Barrens Returns 

Onion, Sept. 20:

CRYSTAL LAKE, NJ—Reports of a shadowy figure in the woods and heavy breathing heard in the night, coupled with a recent series of grisly murders, have generated rumors that U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney has returned to terrorize the counselors at Camp Crystal Lake, sources reported Friday.

"I knew it'd been too quiet around here," camp caretaker Ephram Magritte, 67, said between sips from his flask. "Things were just starting to get back to normal. Then that carload of kids had to go have a drinking party at the lake last Friday. When two of them went missing, people started up again, saying Cheney was back. We don't need that kind of talk. Stirs up trouble. Scares off customers."

Four hours later, Magritte was found hanging from a tree, his brass-handled cane protruding from his eye socket. ...

Safety of Drinking Water Up in the Air 

EPA press release, Sept. 20:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today is informing the American public of results from initial testing of drinking water onboard 158 randomly selected passenger airplanes. Preliminary data released by EPA today shows that in the recent tests, most of the aircraft tested (87.4%) met EPA drinking water quality standards. However, 12.6 percent of domestic and international passenger aircraft tested in the U. S. carried water that did not meet EPA standards.

As part of enforcement activities, EPA, during August and September 2004, randomly tested the water supplies on 158 aircraft. Aircraft tank water is used in the galleys and lavatory sinks. Initial testing of onboard water supply revealed 20 aircraft with positive results for total coliform bacteria; two of these aircraft (1.3 percent) also tested positive for E.coli. Both total coliform and E.coli are indicators that other disease-causing organisms (pathogens) may be present in the water and could potentially affect public health. When sampling identified total coliform in the water, the aircraft was retested. In repeat testing on 11 aircraft, the Agency confirmed that water from eight of the aircraft tested still did not meet EPA's water quality standards. ...

[read more]

Kerry Gets Real, Challeges Bush on Iraq Policies 

Charging President Bush with "stubborn incompetence" on the war in Iraq, Senator John Kerry yesterday made his most definitive statement yet that he would not have invaded when Mr. Bush did as he delivered a point-by-point indictment of the administration's Iraq policies.

"Invading Iraq has created a crisis of historic proportions, and if we do not change course, there is the prospect of a war with no end in sight," Mr. Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, told an invited audience of party advocates at New York University.

"Today, President Bush tells us that he would do everything all over again, the same way," Mr. Kerry said. "How can he possibly be serious? Is he really saying that if we knew there were no imminent threat, no weapons of mass destruction, no ties to Al Qaeda, the United States should have invaded Iraq? My answer, resoundingly, is no, because a commander in chief's first responsibility is to make a wise and responsible decision to keep America safe." ...

The heated exchange opened a week when Iraq is again expected to dominate the campaign debate, with the president set to deliver his annual address to the United Nations on Tuesday, and the Iraqi prime minister, Ayad Allawi, arriving in Washington for his first official visit on Wednesday.

Mr. Kerry, who had promised to focus in the campaign's final stretch on health care and the economy rather than the Republicans' stronghold, national security, focused on the deteriorating situation in Iraq as he delivered his third major speech on the subject in three weeks.

With polls showing Mr. Bush holding a significant advantage on both Iraq and terrorism, Mr. Kerry is trying to turn the discussion from the ground that Mr. Bush wants to fight on - the wisdom of deposing Mr. Hussein - to the turf where he believes he has the upper hand: the question of how Iraq has fared since the dictator fled his palaces.

Mr. Kerry is also trying to tie the issues together in an attack on the Bush administration's credibility, part of his new campaign theme about the president's "wrong choices" and the need for a "new direction." ...

[read more]

Bio-Diversity Attacked, Monsanto Strikes Again 

In its effort to rid the golf courses of weeds Monsanto's bio-engineered grass spreads like wildfire, casting doubt on the safety of other gene-altered plants.

New York Times, Sept. 21:

A new study shows that genes from genetically engineered grass can spread much farther than previously known, a finding that raises questions about the straying of other plants altered through biotechnology and that could hurt the efforts of two companies to win approval for the first bioengineered grass.

The two companies, Monsanto and Scotts, have developed a strain of creeping bentgrass for use on golf courses that is resistant to the widely used herbicide Roundup. The altered plants would allow groundskeepers to spray the herbicide on their greens and fairways to kill weeds while leaving the grass unscathed.

But the companies' plans have been opposed by some environmental groups as well as by the federal Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Critics worry that the grass could spread to areas where it is not wanted or transfer its herbicide resistance to weedy relatives, creating superweeds that would be immune to the most widely used weed killer. The Forest Service said earlier this year that the grass "has the potential to adversely impact all 175 national forests and grasslands."

Some scientists said the new results, to be published online this week by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, did not necessarily raise alarms about existing genetically modified crops like soybeans, corn, cotton and canola. There are special circumstances, they say, that make the creeping bentgrass more environmentally worrisome, like its extraordinarily light pollen. ...

[read more]

Gross Weight -- 1072 Pounds 

Associated Press, Sept. 20:

Patrick Deuel is on a diet. He’s down to about 700 pounds now. He hopes to lose 400 more.

When he entered the hospital in Sioux Falls, he weighed more than half a ton — a disaster Deuel blames on bad genes and his early years in the restaurant business.

He kept eating until he hit 1,072, a weight that could only be determined when he was put on a scale used to weigh trucks loaded with grain. To get him to the scale, a wall had to be knocked out of his home in Valentine, Neb.

From the truck scales, Deuel was taken by specially equipped ambulance to Avera McKennan Hospital about 300 miles away in Sioux Falls on June 4. ...

[read more]

Goss Concedes that Cheney and Rice Both Lied 

Representative Porter J. Goss, the nominee to become director of central intelligence, said on Monday that some prewar statements by senior Bush administration officials might well have overstated available intelligence about the threat posed by Iraq.


Under sharp questioning from a Senate Democrat, Mr. Goss, a Republican from Florida, said he agreed that statements by Vice President Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice that linked Iraq to the Sept. 11 attacks; to Al Qaeda; and to an active nuclear weapons program appeared to have gone beyond what was spelled out in intelligence reports at the time.

Mr. Goss's concession could fuel Democratic criticisms that Mr. Bush and his advisers overstated the threat posed by Iraq before the war. Democrats failed this year to persuade Republicans to include conclusions related to the administration's use of intelligence in the Senate Intelligence Committee report on Iraq that was completed in July. ...

[read more]

Lewis and Clark = Dawn of Genocide 

The bold-faced graf in the story below was cut from the Associated Press version of the story. In addition, using the search terms "Lewis and Clark" and "genocide" I couldn't find the story at all at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch web site, stltoday.com.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sept. 21:

by Tim O'Neill

Lewis and Clark re-enactors say they want to learn more about American Indian concerns after a delegation from South Dakota asked the expedition to return home.

Jon Ruybalid, a spokesman for the re-enactors, said Monday the group expected more dialogue with the American Indians they met Saturday near Chamberlain, S.D.

"It wasn't easy listening," Ruybalid told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "What they said was filled with a lot of pain. We are being educated and, in the process, we are a platform for people to express their concerns."

On Saturday, the group showed up for the meeting with serveral signes, including one saying, "L & C = Dawn of Genocide." Members of the Indian delegation said the original expedition of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark two centuries ago paved the way for destruction of the American Indian people and cultures. The delegation asked the expedition to go back home.

Members of the American Indian delegation confronted the Discovery Expedition of St. Charles with signs, including one suggesting the original expedition of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark led to genocide of their people and destruction of their culture. The re-enactors were asked to go back home. ...

[read more]

"President Bush You Killed My Son,"  

Trentonian, Sept. 18:

The trespassing charges against a Pennington woman who was arrested after interrupting a speech by first lady Laura Bush were dropped yesterday, but the controversy has ignited a political firestorm.

The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office has declined to prosecute Sue C. Sapir-Niederer, the mother of 24-year-old Army Lt. Seth Dvorin, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq Feb. 3.

A statement released yesterday by Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph Bocchini Jr. said police were justified in arresting Niederer, but that pursuing the case would be fruitless.

"Taking all factors into consideration, including the recent loss of (Niederer’s) son while serving in the armed forces in Iraq, I believe that the continued prosecution of this matter would serve no useful purpose," the statement read. ...

[read more]

Reformer Virvus Jones? 

Former city comptroller Virvus Jones, who was convicted of income tax evasion in the early 90s, not only ghosts a column for the St. Louis American, he is an officer in the Roberts brothers real estate empire, which owns a big chunk of downtown. The Roberts brothers back the plan to raze the Century Building to build a parking garage.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sept. 17:

Motley political crew is pushing home rule proposals

WHOSE RULE?: An eclectic group of political operatives - including a convicted felon - has been hired to help promote four propositions on the November election ballot that would dramatically change the way St. Louis' business is done. Richard Callow of Public Eye is spokesman for the group, which also includes Nancy Rice as campaign manager, Claude Brown, Lou Hamilton, Tim Person, John Thompson, Vern Kennedy and former city comptroller Virvus Jones. Callow and Hamilton have also represented some of the county officeholders - Treasurer Larry Williams and Sheriff Jim Murphy, respectively - whose positions would be eliminated if home rule were approved. Callow's response when asked about the apparent conflict: "I do occasional work for the treasurer's office, and I don't think that the parking garages and parking meters will mind my role in this campaign." Williams' office oversees city parking. Of the operatives, Callow said, "It's people who have worked for and against each other for the last decade." For those who came in late . . . Jones pleaded guilty of income tax fraud and spent a year and a day in prison in the early 1990s. City Hall watchers also have noted that Jones' role in the campaign seems to be in conflict with his co-authoring of the weekly "Political Eye" column in the St. Louis American. . . . In related news, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay is set to announce his opposition to Proposition D, which would reduce the Board of Aldermen from its 28 ward representation to 15 ward representation and would allow aldermen to appoint the president of the board. That position, currently held by Jim Shrewsbury, is won by election. Slay also plans to announce his support for Propositions A, B and C. All the propositions are the result of a decadelong effort to change city government.

A Brilliant Idea for Resurrecting Downtown: Expand Street Parking! 

"A man who can't park or do anything, he's an outlaw." -- Larry Dolci

In early 1993, I interviewed small businessman Larry Dolci, the owner of Hollywood Rubber Stamps on Locust Street in downtown St. Louis. Dolci told me his modest idea for reviving downtown -- quit giving so many goddamn parking tickets!


Thirty-seven years ago, Larry Dolci's Hollywood Rubber Stamp Co. was part of a thriving urban center. His company continues to bounce back
from the hard times, but small businesses like Dolci's are an endangered species in downtown St. Louis

By C.D. Stelzer

first published in the Riverfront Times (St. Louis), Nov. 3, 1993

It can be felt in autumn more than other seasons, heard in the sound of tires sucking on wet pavement late at night, when the chill in the air hasn't demanded the window be shut yet, and the radio is tuned to a jazz station near the end of the dial. With the final flurry of piano notes, the DJ announces to his invisible audience that they have been listening to "Goodbye, Porkpie Hat." Then the faded melody escapes, leaving only the title to linger, conjuring up another time, a time closer to the one Larry Dolci remembers.

"At midnight, the downtown was jammed," recalls Dolci. "Yeah. It was jammed. You figure, they had at least ten or more theaters of all sorts downtown. All kinds of restaurants. All kinds of entertainment. Everything under the sun downtown, shooting galleries to burlesque shows," he says.
Larry Dolci doesn't need any special climatic conditions to connect with St. Louis' past. He can do it as easily on a bright October morning. The intangible yearning people half his age or less may only sense, the seventy-something-year-old Dolci knows. Ask him about downtown St. Louis, and he will pull a well-worn Zippo from his pocket, light a Chesterfield and say, "things have changed."

The smoke will curl over his pencil-thin mustache and he will begin gesturing with his hands as he talks. "Oh yeah, the city's changed. Too many vacancies downtown," he will say. "Empty buildings everywhere. They used to be all full of clothing businesses. They sold wholesale. We still have a few of their accounts." There is a quiet cadence, a well-worn groove to his rap, a rhythm that comes from a familiarity with one's own speech. He is not tall and seems less so standing outside the front door of his storefront on Locust Street, where traffic noise hugs his voice like an old companion. This is his street.

Dolci is a rubber stamp man, the one-of-a-kind variety. He's been at it a while. In his 34 years as a downtown merchant, he has not only been an observer of change, he has been affected by it as well. Three years ago, fire destroyed the Hollywood Rubber Stamp Co., which was then located at 1112 Locust. He and his longtime partner Harry W. Brune
originally established their downtown business about 1959 at 1534 Olive St. Since the blaze they mad a short move to 1121 Locust.

Inside his latest business address, Dolci points to a set of scorched filing cabinets. "This is the remains of the fire," he says. Opening one of the drawers, he thumbs through a stack of singed and water-damaged records. "The fire was a disaster," he says. "It practically took all our savings. We didn't expect anything like that. We've got nothing inflammable in our place, just stamp heads and ink. You've gotta put a blow torch underneath them to make them burn.

We lost $40,000 just worth of inventory not counting the damage to our equipment. We took a helluva beating, but we're back in business," he says.

From his cluttered desk, Dolci gazes from behind large black hornrimmed glasses through a window of reminiscences that can hurdle across decades in a single sentence. But in the present, the street he looks out on is filled with asphalt gaps, where buildings have been extracted like bad teeth. Hollywood Rubber Stamp's previous location is now a
parking lot, and among the Locust Street's remaining storefronts there are other growing cavities. Last year the Alverne Catholic chapel closed, and earlier this month, the venerable Miss Hullings cafeteria shut down as well.

It's all part of a gradual decline in downtown that Dolci has observed for a longtime. Once "there were little restaurants everywhere," he recalls. "They had the Baltimore Oyster House and Harry Heil's, he was on Broadway."

Thompson's cafeteria was another. The Chicago chain operated six restaurants in St. Louis in 1933, the year of the Chicago World's Fair. By that time, it was already a national institution, serving 10 million meals a week at 115 locations in 36 cities. The cafeterias, which had at least two downtown St. Louis locations, were famous for their white tile interiors and open kitchens. "They were beautiful places," says Dolci. "In fact, they had one next to the Fox Theater."

The Fox then had competition from downtown theaters that offered both film and live entertainment. Dolci recalls once seeing Thurston the magician make an elephant disappear from the stage of the Ambassador at 7th and Locust. The ornate movie house, which has long been closed, was then owned by the Skouras brothers, Greek immigrants to St. Louis. Spyros Skouras went on to later head 20th Century-Fox.

Dolci reels off a list of other downtown theater such as the Loew's, Grand, and Garrick. For many years, the latter, located at 515 Locust, offered live burlesque before becoming an adult movie house. At its zenith, the Garrick featured not only striptease acts, but Vaudeville performers such as Al Jolson and Fanny Brice. It was razed in 1954 for a parking lot.

Dolci, however, remembers watching Jolson perform at the Capitol theater, then located at 6th and Chestnut. In October of 1926, the first "talkie" was shown to a St. Louis audience at the Capitol. A lengthy account of the event in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat described it as an "uncanny synchronization of sound and light (that) enables pictures to talk and sing." In 1956, The Capitol was also leveled for a parking lot.

After World War II, downtown began its slow slide, according to Dolci. While not immune to this urban decadence, the rubber stamp business occupies an insulated niche, one that has yet to be swallowed up by the ubiquitous computer. For the time being, where there is commerce there is still paper and where there is paper there is a need to stamp it.
Hollywood makes stamps for every purpose, made-to-order stamps for banks, brokerage houses and factories to name a few. The specialty of Hollywood's product and the fax machine on Dolci's desk -- a concession to modern technology -- allow the stamp company to persevere despite the dwindling trade of other small businesses downtown.

"Ours is a tricky business," explains Dolci. "There's not many people that do (this) work. See, printing has changed. Like the Riverfront Times is not printed from type, it's offset. Years back I remember when all the newspapers like the Post set type.

"We (still) set it up, we make reverse molds and we make our stamps from it." Examples of Hollywood's more generic offerings are scattered on tables at the front of the store. Void and special delivery stamps are displayed along with novelty items like Bambi, Mickey Mouse and the Three Wise Men.

Hollywood has also diversified into manufacturing plastic name plates and corporate and governmental seals. The rubber stamp operation, however, still takes up most of the shop space. Dolci says the typesetting machines in the back are 20 years old, but the gray steel contraptions, with their exposed gears and wheels, look like they may have only
underwent minor modification since Ben Franklin's day. Next to the machines are narrow rows of diagonally stacked drawers that contain printers boxes, where slugs of metal type are stored.

Rubber stamps themselves aren't all rubber anymore, according to Dolci. "Now they're resorting to a different method of making stamps. They're making them out of plastic. It's not as good as rubber. Plastic hardens up after a while. It's an easier method, but there's nothing beats the rubber, it's more resilient, (and makes a) better impression," he says.
By reestablishing their business after the fire, Dolci and his partner have shown resiliency, too. But, if Hollywood is to continue to make better impressions, it may have to do so without them. "In a year or two, I'm going to sell this place,"
says Dolci. "I've got buyers for it."

When that time comes, the interested parties will also be purchasing an inescapable civic obligation, one to which Dolci has long been resigned. "Every business has a lot of taxes. We pay about 20 taxes. That's the cost of doing business. We have a manufacturers license, a business license. We pay taxes on the materials we buy, (a) users tax. Then we pay a head tax, an earnings tax, a tax on our equipment here. We pay a sales tax in Illinois. We pay a franchise tax. The city needs the money, you know that. So that's the way it is."

The grand schemes of city planners never seem to include the Larry Dolcis of the world, the guys who employ half dozen people and get to work at seven in the morning. They're never painted into the architectural renderings of the new football stadium, riverboat casinos or hockey arena. As a downtown merchant, who receives no special treatment or tax abatements, Dolci voices no complaints about this.

His one peeve is the limited street parking downtown. "Like we had a man come in here one day. Picked up his stamp. Parked out here. And he had a $20 ticket just runnin' in and out," says Dolci.
"Now you can't park seven to nine. So most people can't have breakfast. They have to go to work. ... A lot of people used to get off of work and they'd eat at one of the restaurants whether it was Hullings or some other restaurant. ... Later they'd go to a movie or something like that. Now it's a no-man's land, they gotta get out before they get tickets. So they leave and go out west, where they live, and eat somewhere else. ... A man who can't park or do anything, he's an outlaw."

The parking prohibitions inhibit trade, says Dolci, and the results are reflected in vacant shop windows. In the past, "during the day, if you wanted to walk, you had to go out on the curb to get past the crowd," says Dolci. "All the stores were rented downtown."

It was different then. "Things have changed."

History of Threatened Buildings 

The Century/Syndicate Trust Buildings
911-915 Olive St.

The 10-story Century Building was built in 1896 for more than $1.3 million by the St. Louis architectural firm of Raeder, Coffin & Crocker. Its neighbor, the Syndicate Trust Building, was built between 1906 and 1907 from the architectural design of H.F. Roach.

Scruggs, Vandervoort and Barney, a now-defunct department store, occupied the first six floors of the Century. In 1912, the two buildings were adjoined, when the department store built a narrow addition in what had previously been an alley that separated the two buildings. The store went out of business in 1967.

Since then the building has went through numerous renovations. Its many tenants have included the architectural firm of Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK). Southwestern Bell Telephone leased ten floors of the building as recently as 1993.The current owner. the Clayton-based Conlon Group, purchased the building at about that time. Conlon paid $625,000 for the property, which had been seized by federal banking regulators, after the previous owner had been found insolvent. After the Conlon acquired the Syndicate Trust, an attempt was made to convert three of its floors into a parking garage, but that plan ended more than a decade ago, when it was found to be structurally unfeasible. Conlon sought a demolition permit, and the buildings futures have been in limbo ever since.

They Paved Downtown and Put Up a Parking Lot 

For decades, developers, in their infinite stupidity, have been turning downtown St. Louis into a parking lot. They must think that the downtown business district is the same as a suburban strip mall. You can see the asphalt cavities, where building once stood, all over the edges of downtown. Now they want to stick a parking garage in the architectural core of St. Louis' fragile center as a part of a redevelopment plan for the Old Post Office. The victim of this latest insanity would be the Syndicate Trust and Century Buildings.

One of the cheerleaders for the idea is developer Mike Roberts, who said this morning on KWMU that downtown suffered from lack of parking. Well, that's a real original idea there yo got there, Mike. Why don't we take down the Paul Brown and Arcade Buildings, too? That way we could surround the Old Post Office with parking garages. Then we could put a little monument somewhere nearby commemorating what used to be downtown.

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