The latest terrorist threat: Almanacs

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Almanacs, long thought to be innocent tomes of useful information, are now being used as weapons against Americans on their own soil. Terrorists are using these books to – get this – learn more about Americans and potential targets. Next, the FBI will be looking back at other forms of media that have actually been helping the terrorists all along: newspapers, encyclopedias and the Internet. Let the book (and network) burning begin!

http://www.poe-news.com/stories.php?poeurlid=30247

Hooray for Verizon

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Verizon has been fighting the subpoenas files by the RIAA to disclose the identities of their customers when identified by their IP address. This is very good news for privacy and digital rights groups. Interestingly, the appeals court said one of the arguments made by the RIAA “borders on the silly.” I’m glad someone with authority finally realized (or acted on ) it.

However, as good as this is, I’m sure the RIAA will just throw more money at some politicians to pass some law that gets around this. You know, the way this democratic system is supposed to work!

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20031219/D7VHHPHO0.html

Interesting look at the Corporitization of Iraq

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http://www.corpwatch.org/issues/PID.jsp?articleid=9408

This article has lots and lots of interesting tidbits of information on what’s going on in Iraq. It’s suprising this isn’t getting more media coverage.

The interesting points include:
- US upholding Saddams laws banning Unions
- banning of “civil disobedience”
- allowing 100% foreign ownership of Iraqi companies

Looks like the Iraqi people won’t be benefiting from this “new economy” at all, and that the US is getting it’s ideal money-making scenario: a country where they can impose any law they want to the detriment of the workers and the benefits of the US corporations.

US military recruiting Canadian Aboriginals

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The US military secretly went recruiting at Canadian Aboriginal reserves. Ooops, wrong country!

http://www.canada.com/national/story.asp?id=6BA21C97-291E-499D-ABE6-9ECE11D27591

Canadians force Americans to be insecure?

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I just loved this article.

http://www.canada.com/national/story.asp?id=D333BE79-44EE-407B-B960-BF1FA49CAE39

Underlying the humour, there is some seriousness though. In general the US media is very bad at portraying a balanced point of view and it’s hard for a lot of people to understand why the rest of the world is upset. I wish more people would go out of their way to get at least some of their news from sources out of other countries.

Iraq Contracts

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The ban of war-opposing countries from the Iraqi reconstruction contracts has been all over today. Here are a few links:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/3231345.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/3306621.stm
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=514&e=5&u=/ap/20031210/ap_on_go_pr_wh/iraq_us_military_16

A few comments… I disagree with the move, however, this is not unexpected and honestly isn’t something that is going to be a huge deal. By itself, I would probably agree with the move. After all, the US taxpayers are the ones footing the bill for this so why shouldn’t US companies get the contracts (although it should definitely be Iraqi companies getting the majority.) But you can’t look at this in isolation.

It doesn’t sit right because this is the message being sent: “You can’t benefit from any of the contracts because you didn’t participate in the war.” However, it was only recently that the US went to these same war-opposing countries and said “You didn’t support the war, but you are now expected to fork over cash and troops to help in the reconstruction.” And they exerted extreme political pressure to drive this message home. Hypocritical, Non?

On top of this, some (most?) of the countries being banned had already offered cash for the reconstruction effort. A bit of a slap in the face.

So overall, I don’t think there are any immediate repercusions of this move, but just continues the bad foreign relations policies at a time when some returned goodwill would probably go a long way.

What is more interesting, though, is a look at the US companies that had been offered contracts for reconstruction even before the war began:
http://www.opensecrets.org/news/rebuilding_iraq/index.asp

Aside from the obvious political palm greasing involved in these contracts, it probably would have seemed like a good idea to begin this planning so early. However, it was apparently much more important to ensure big-money contracts for their friends than to actually create a viable post-war plans for the civilians of Iraq.

Patriot Act II Jr.

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Those crafty people who dislike the constitution weren’t going to stop when the Patriot Act II had to be shelved because of massive backlash. Hidden within an intelligence spending bill, a provision that expands the original patriot act was just passed.

The new provision expands the definition of a financial institution to allow the CIA and FBI to subpoena information from many more types of institutions.

Does anyone else find it alarming that, aside from the power to obtain this information without a judges approval, the people giving the information are put under a gag order so they can’t talk about it? The FBI claims it can’t disclose how many times it has done this because of national security reasons.

Let’s take a look at what the Patriot Act does:
1. The power to collect private information on it’s citizens
2. The power to detain it’s citizens without declared reasons and without access to an attorney, for an indefinite amount of time
3. The power to force those involved in collecting this information to not ever disclose that the activities took place
4. The right to keep secret the frequency of use of the above powers to it’s citizens

I know this parellel has been drawn a lot, but taking a look at the above items can you honestly say this isn’t eerily similar to the powers used by the Nazis on their own citizens? I guess the only thing missing is killing millions of their own people. Doesn’t the fact that the terrorists have forced the US to become a drastically less free society mean they’ve already won? And it’s scary that this is exactly what Bush and Ashcroft want! They want more power over their citizens. They’ve never said “We don’t like this — but it’s at least a temporary reality until we defeat the terrorists.” This is the NEW reality.

The funny thing is that I’m not a US citizen, but I do live in the US, and I’m much more alarmed by this than anyone else I talk to. Most people will just say “Yeah, I don’t like it…” and that’s it. Throw the undemocratic asshole who did this out of office! Do something about it! Tell other people!

I don’t feel so alarmed by this becuase I currently live in the US. I am only here temporarily and I think freedoms here will erode much more over the next few years if Bush is still in office. The reason I’m alarmed is that it scares the crap out of me that the most powerful country on this planet is becoming less free. I think US foreign policy is horrible already, and I can’t image how much worse it’ll be if hard-line right-wingers keep running the show.

Anyways, here’s a link to explain the expansion to the Patriot Act.

http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,61341,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_1

Those damn trees better watch out!

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Live trees in the US have always been considered unofficial enemies of the republican party. They just sit there, not contributing to the economy and taking handouts from the federal government for their “protection.” Thankfully this is coming to an end. Live trees have officially been added to the Bush administrations “Axis of Evil” and it’s now open season on those lazy bastards!

All sarcasm aside, Bush got his “Healthy Forest Initiative” passed. This is essentially a handout to the logging companies – much less restricted logging priviledges and crippling of the courts abilities to stop it.

It’s really aggrivating how they take advantage of the publics short attention span by giving things names like “Healthy Forest Initiative.” Nothing about this bill will make the forests healthier. Unless you consider “healthy” to be equivalent to “murder” in the same sense that Bush is “liberating” Iraqis.

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=544&e=3&u=/ap/20031203/ap_on_go_pr_wh/healthy_forests

Rummy has a way with words

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Donald Rumsfeld is this years recipient of the “Foot in Mouth” award. He has always seemed to like giving unintelligible answers to hard questions, possibly in an effort to systematically wear down the reporters until they give up. At least he’s getting recognized for it now :)

Check out the article, there’s some funny stuff.

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20031201/pl_nm/odd_rumsfeld_dc_2