Monday, November 29, 2004

1st Cut the Pell Grants, NOW Cut Student Privacy!

Dear all,

Of course, I am frustrated at the cutting of the Pell grant budgets. My own son will suffer from this, but more importantly many more students throughout this country may have to leave college because they are already under too much financial burden to undergo another cut in help.

NOW, under the excuse of the No Child Left Behind Act, colleges and universities will be mandated to supply enrollment data on all students and other information on these students--supposedly to track how colleges are doing. NOW we get to feel what the public schools have been feeling under this act. But more critical is the invasion of student privacy--the privacy I and many other students fought for in the Buckley Amendment. Let me remind you that before that Amendment, the FBI or CIA or any other agency or family member could look into student records (which often included private conversations between students and college counselors --or unwarranted opinions by teachers or staff). I personally know people who because of unreliable or secret information (like an abortion or parents who were behind in school payments) were denied jobs, put on FBI lists, or denied graduate school admission (in those days of the Vietnam War and signing the "pledge to the country" before we could receive graduate fellowships).

Read this article from the NY Times. When will we stand up and say enough is enough? Already, the Armed Service recruiters are allowed free access to all high school records to find "recruits" for the service--with or without the student or parent or teacher permission (all under this NCLB Act). Who needs a Patriot Act when the Education Dept can do whatever it pleases without our young people's records?

Please call, write, yell to your congress members, the newspaper, ---run for office, join the ACLU--do something. ALSO make your students, and your sons and daughters aware of this.

Silence is cooperation.

paulette swartzfager

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Now and the Future

I am still here.

I am grading a zillion papers, meeting with other progressive to reorganize, and focusing by blog publishing efforts in getting Nabil's postings up on

I plan to keep posting, but mostly to write original work. So, look here after December 15 for a new TruthTalkz --a very much more pointed anti-spin and activist site.

thanks for your patience,

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Green Party Press Release


For Immediate Release:
Friday, November 12, 2004

Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator, 202-518-5624,
cell 202-487-0693,
Nancy Allen, Media Coordinator, 207-326-4576,


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Greens warn that the Fallujah
offensive, with heavy civilian casualties and
destruction of infrastructure, has completed the
transformation of the Iraq invasion into the
Vietnam War.

"The insistence that Iraq is better off without
Saddam Hussein while killing between 10,000 and
100,000 Iraqi civilians has turned President
Bush's rationale for the invasion into a
grotesque joke," said Tony Gronowicz, a member of
the International Committee of the Green Party of
the United States and author.

Greens said that heavy civilian casualties in
Fallujah will turn more Iraqis against the U.S.,
especially in other Sunni cities, leading to a
longer occupation and destroying hopes for
democracy in Iraq.

"Even if Operation Phantom Fury succeeds in
suppressing the insurgency in Fallujah, the
result may be more sympathy for the Iraqi
resistance throughout Iraq, which can hardly be
called a victory," said Justine McCabe,
Connecticut Green and member of the International

Greens noted the silence of Sen. John Kerry and
other Democrats on the Fallujah operation. The
Green Party has strongly opposed the invasion of
Iraq, demanded an immediate end to the
occupation, and called for support for U.S.
troops by removing them from harm's way and
returning them home.

Greens also noted that:

-- Estimates of Iraqi civilian deaths range from
10,000 (the British Foreign Secretary) to 14,000
to 100,000 (The

-- The U.S. occupation forces have prohibited
Iraqi men between ages 14 and 60 from fleeing the
city, a policy in violation of international law.

-- The U.S. attack has destroyed one emergency
hospital; U.S. military forces now occupy the
city's only remaining hospital, blocking
civilians from receiving medical attention.
Bombs have been dropped on civilian neighborhoods
and mosques targeted and destroyed.

-- The attitude of invasion apologists suggests a
dangerous mindset similar to "In order to save
the village, we had to destroy it" in Vietnam.
"Even if Fallujah has to go the way of Carthage,
reduced to shards, the price will be worth it" --
former military officer and neo-con ideologue
Ralph Peters, The New York Post, November 4, 2004

--A major Sunni Muslim political party, the Iraqi
Islamic Party, quit the interim Iraqi government
and revoked its sole cabinet minister to protest
the attack on Fallujah. Party head Mohsen
Abdel-Hamid explained, "We are protesting the
attack on Fallujah and the injustice that is
inflicted on the innocent people of the city."

-- In having announced the Fallujah attack well
in advance of the operation itself, the Bush
Administration gave insurgents time to prepare
sufficient defense to place U.S. military
personnel at great risk; the publicity for
Operation Phantom Fury began before the attack --
especially before Election Day -- suggests that
one of the operation's chief purposes was
homeland political propaganda.

-- Defense Secretary Rumsfeld continues to depict
insurgents as extremists loyal to Saddam Hussein,
when in fact the Iraq resistance ranges from
Islamic groups that opposed the ousted dictator
to Iraqi civilians who lost their businesses and
jobs under the U.S. occupation after
administrator Paul Bremer opened up Iraqi
businesses and resources to foreign corporate

"There's no doubt that decapitation of hostages
by insurgents is atrocious, but the Iraqi people
understandably don't see the mass killing of
civilians by U.S. bombs as any less barbaric,"
said Peter LaVenia, chair of the Albany County,
New York, Green Party and president of the Green

The Green Party of the United States
1700 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 404
Washington, DC 20009.
202-319-7191, 866-41GREEN
Fax 202-319-7193

2004 Green candidates and election results

The Tragedy of Margaret Hassan: by Nabil Al-Tikriti

I first met Margaret Hassan in 1991 while a young
relief administrator with Catholic Relief Services in
Baghdad. At the time, Margaret had just been hired as
an office assistant for CARE Australia. Although her
initial job description was relatively humble, it
quickly became apparent to all who worked with her
that Margaret was an invaluable link between us
international aid workers and the wider Iraqi society
just beyond our white vehicles, Iraqi government
meetings, UN press conferences, and sheltered lives
within either NGO compounds or five-star hotels.

We did not know much about Margaret’s personal life,
but we did know that she had lived in Baghdad for most
or all of her adult life since meeting and marrying
her Iraqi husband, Tahsin Ali Hassan. She had “gone
native,” like hundreds of other British females
resident in the formerly UK-ruled territories of
Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, and Israel/Palestine. As our
rumor mill had it, as a younger woman in the 1970’s
Margaret had gained local fame for reading the English
news on Iraqi television. Although this rumor was
never confirmed, I wonder now at the bitter irony of
her now gaining fame through a very different sort of
broadcast appearance.

When our “Iraq mafia” of international relief workers
moved on to Somalia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and other
societies on the frontlines of globalization, Margaret
stayed on. I saw Margaret once more while visiting
relatives in 2000 and then again in 2003 while
researching the effects of the US/UK invasion on
Iraq’s manuscript collections. Although several years
had passed, Margaret still remembered me, made time
for tea and my endless queries, and graciously shared
whatever information she had on Iraq under sanctions
or occupation.

In the intervening years Margaret’s stature had grown
tremendously. When the Government of Iraq made it
exceedingly difficult for foreign aid workers to stay
on in the summer of 1992, she was the natural choice
to take over as country director of CARE’s relief
program. Unlike the vast majority of international
NGOs active in Iraq following the earlier Gulf War,
CARE under Margaret Hassan continued to provide
assistance throughout the 1990s. This was long after
support of such efforts had waned in such donor
countries as the US and UK, which were simultaneously
extending and deepening Iraq’s hardship through a
malicious UN sanctions regime.

As Margaret has long worked for Iraq’s vulnerable
populations, she remained a largely unguarded soft
target in a society increasingly bereft of such soft
targets. She trusted, plausibly, that her years of
advocacy would protect her from the sort of tragedy
suffered by others who had come to Iraq for personal
gain, professional advancement, or institutional
requisites. It is a shame that certain unknown
radical elements have targeted such a vulnerable – and
ultimately sympathetic – individual. It would be an
abomination if any physical harm came to such an
innocent. To these extremists, I can only urge them
to reconsider their target acquisition. Give this one
back, unharmed.

Although aware of her sensitive position, Margaret
never hesitated to tell it like it is – which usually
implied harsh criticism of US/UK policy in the region.
What is horrifically ironic about her current
predicament is that it is precisely that policy regime
which has led her to this life-threatening situation.
Margaret did not participate in Blair’s war to turn a
profit, Blair’s war came to her. For this reason,
Mr. Blair is ethically obliged to do whatever his
power allows to obtain her freedom. So far the
kidnappers have only demanded that Mr. Blair decline
to send UK troops to reinforce US troops south of
Baghdad. Considering that the purpose of this
reinforcement is to free up US troops for a
long-anticipated assault on Falluja – a town which has
in the past year already lost over 1000 civilians in
similar assaults, Mr. Blair should not have accepted
this request anyway. Like millions of others who have
protested against the US/UK assault on Iraqi society,
I only wish that Mr. Blair would seriously reconsider
the wisdom and humanity of enabling the pending US
assault on Falluja. Innocents like Kenneth Bigley,
Margaret Hassan, and tens of thousands of Iraqis who
have found their lives imperilled by the chaos
following the collapse of the Iraqi state deserve

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Post-Mortem, Iraqi Dead, Depleted Uranium, etc.

1) A Canadian initiative:

2) Harper Reviews US Emigration Options:

"So the wrong candidate has won, and you want to leave
the country. Let us consider your options..."

3) Remapping the US -- is it time for secession (too
bad about New Orleans, though)?:

"You'll be hearing a lot of "I'm moving to..." the
next couple days. Well, I'm not moving anywhere. I'm
staying put. The borders? Well, that's another

4) This one just seems like a bitter joke, especially
since they don't cite their source for IQ levels.
However, I bet you a comparison of SAT scores and
election results would come to similar conclusions:

5) It's quite obvious that Americans are heartbroken,
and shocked, about all the Iraqi deaths brought about
due to the US/UK invasion of Iraq in 2003. The sense
of communal shame and regret has been truly
heartwarming, rivalled in scale only by that following
Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Vietnam. Such shame clearly
had an effect on the elections:

100,000 Iraqis Dead: Should We Believe It?
by Stephen Soldz
November 03, 2004

"One justification for the Iraq war was to remove the
barbarous regime of Saddam Hussein, thereby freeing
Iraqis from the threat of death at the hands of his
regime. Yet, from the first days of the war, accounts
have surfaced of Iraqi civilian deaths at the hands of
"coalition forces" and from the increased crime and
chaos that have swept much of the country.

The United States and its British and other allies
claim they do everything in their power to prevent
civilian casualties. Yet, repeatedly accounts have
appeared of civilians dying at checkpoints, in passing
American convoys, in house searches, and in the
relentless bombing campaigns that are allegedly
precision strikes on known terrorist hideouts. Reports
have also surfaced about increased murder rates.[1] If
the rates of Iraqi civilian deaths increased
significantly since the invasion, it would undercut
the last remaining rationale for the war.

So, how many Iraqis have died since the invasion in
March 2003 and the subsequent occupation and war? The
United States has repeatedly insisted that it doesn't
keep track of civilian deaths. In the infamous words
of General Tommy Franks, "We don't do body counts"[2]
(though, claims remain that the US does do secret body
counts[3]). Furthermore, when the Iraqi health
Ministry attempted to count civilian deaths, they were
summarily ordered to stop by the US occupation

6) Depleted Uranium in Iraq:

Uranium pollution in Iraq damaging
Depleted uranium in Iraqi soil, air may cause health

by Hina Alam
Indiana Daily Student
Tuesday, November 2, 2004

If you thought Iraq had weapons of mass destruction,
then consider this: the ongoing conflict in Iraq will
leave behind a legacy of depleted uranium, which will
affect not just the U.S. troops, but also the Iraqi
people, maybe over generations, said Diane Henshel,
associate professor of public and environmental

"Isn't that paradoxical? We went there to 'free' those
people and we ended up imprisoning them in a lifetime
of ill health. And for generations to come," said
sophomore Lauren Lindsay, as she examined the evidence
of pollution that Henshel put together.

Iraq's pollution levels are beginning to be examined,
and Henshel, who studies environmental pollutants,
added her expertise to the study in an article
published in September's issue of Nature. Examining
the overall pollution damage will be the first step on
a long road to cleaning up the contaminated country,
the article said.

The damage to the environment, and therefore human
beings, began in the 1970s, according to the article.
This was when the country underwent rapid
industrialization with little attention paid to toxic
wastes and fumes.

The conflict in Iraq has only compounded the problem
and one of the most pressing issues is that of
depleted uranium. It is a dense material used to blow
holes in heavily armored vehicles.

And depleted uranium was used in Iraq most extensively
by the United States.

"If you go on the Internet and look at depleted
uranium and who generates it, we are by far the
largest generators of depleted uranium in the world,"
Henshel said. "Nobody is even close to us. We are
close to 90 percent of the depleted uranium that's
generated in the world ... United States activity or
U.S. companies, I guess. Maybe it is not 90 percent,
but we are at, like, 800 tons and the next country
down is below a 100. We are ten-fold of the next
country down."

Depleted uranium is mainly in two places, she said.

"There are some Abrams tanks which use depleted
uranium, and depleted uranium is in the penetrators
(the warheads of missiles), which are some of the
weapons used out there -- a number of them actually,"
Henshel explained.

As penetrators, depleted uranium is the lead point.
The whole purpose of these weapons, she said, was to
be harder and denser than other metals so they
penetrate through other metals.

"As they penetrate through the other metals, the
description is that they get sharpened," she said.

Think of what happens when sharpening a pencil," she
said. "You lose all the fragments that are being
pulled away to sharpen it. It's not just that it is
being pushed into a sharper point."

The pencil-like shape of the penetrator causes the
depleted uranium to scatter, Henshel said.

"When penetrator hits the hard top, a hard surface
especially like another metal ... you get some
fragmentation and some disintegration at the tip of
the penetrator and again some release of depleted
uranium into fragments that then essentially becomes
the dust in the air," she said.

Heavy metals in general have the potential to interact
with and disrupt calcium processes, and calcium helps
control signaling in the brain and signaling between
the cells and release of hormones and nerve
transmitters, she said.

"If you disrupt calcium control signaling, which can
happen in a high dose or even moderate dose situations
... tests have shown changes in learning, changes in
the ability to remember and changes in reflexes, so
there are a host of different things that can happen,"
Henshel said.

A small cohort from Desert Storm have depleted uranium
shrapnel in their bodies, and they've been tracked
over time with publications coming out about them
every two years or so. The amount of uranium in their
bodies has made a difference.

"Behavior in terms of response, based on computer
tests, was the first thing to show up," she said.

Within a number of years the amount of depleted
uranium was leaking out from shrapnel in their bodies
and moving around in their systems. There is depleted
uranium showing up, for example, in their urine,
Henshel said.

Henshel said she believes that over time, people in
Iraq are going to be exposed to increasing
concentration in their bodies.

"They will have increased problems with changes in
behavior, (and) increasing problems with their
kidneys. And at high enough levels you will start to
see effects on their sperm count," she said.

Another problem is women who are pregnant or are going
to be pregnant in a situation where they are exposed
to depleted uranium in the dust on a daily basis.
Daily exposure to depleted uranium in the dust means
that what is circulating in their blood streams at any
given time includes some radioactive uranium, she
said, and uranium is a heavy metal that can affect a

"There are studies that indicate that birth defects
are increasing in the areas of high depleted uranium
concentration of the Gulf War," Henshel said.

Uranium is part of the environment, but what happens
with depleted uranium is that it is being used in such
high intensity in one area that there is an increased

"And that gives rise to a situation where it ends up
in dust and can get into people through air and
water," she said.

The real concern is that depleted uranium is not
intensely radioactive as uranium is used in reactors,
Henshel said.

"There is an assumption that A: there is no
radioactivity going on which is not true, and B: there
is an assumption that this is not the only concern."

The other problem, she said, is that it is not going
to be just uranium that is a problem in the war torn
area, because it is not just uranium that

"There are other heavy metals that disintegrate --
some of the other heavy metals we have very little
toxic information about," she explained.

While a lot is known about titanium and cadmium, there
is whole host of heavy metals that are used in weapons
in small concentrations, of which not much is know,
but they are going to end up in the soil, in the air,
in water of the people in any war torn area in Iraq,
Henshel said.

As far as the troops are concerned, some of them might
have depleted uranium showing up in their bodies --
some show less and some show more. If some of them
have high intakes of milk or other sources of calcium,
they will be able to eliminate it quickly from their
bodies. High calcium levels limit how much uranium
replaces calcium in certain parts of the bodies. Other
people that, for whatever reasons -- economic or
otherwise -- do not consume enough calcium or milk may
harbor depleted uranium.

As the knowledge of depleted uranium and its effects
on Iraqi people gets out in the world, Lindsay said,
it could make the United States look worse.

Political science Professor Michael McGinnis said, "it
looks bad in terms of environmental effects, but
again, this is nothing new."

World opinion of the U.S. is already at an all-time
low, said Dina Spechler, associate professor of
political science.

"In the end, people who live in Iraq will manifest the
greatest problems. The chemicals accumulate and they
stay in people's bodies all the time and increase in
concentration over time- and we don't know what we are
dealing with," Henshel said.

-- Contact staff writer Hina Alam at

7) Maureen Dowd Op-Ed [Or Wake-Up Call for French

The Red Zone


With the Democratic Party splattered at his feet in
little blue puddles, John Kerry told the crushed crowd
at Faneuil Hall in Boston about his concession call to
President Bush.

"We had a good conversation," the senator said. "And
we talked about the danger of division in our country
and the need, the desperate need, for unity, for
finding the common ground, coming together. Today I
hope that we can begin the healing."

Democrat: Heal thyself.

W. doesn't see division as a danger. He sees it as a

The president got re-elected by dividing the country
along fault lines of fear, intolerance, ignorance and
religious rule. He doesn't want to heal rifts; he
wants to bring any riffraff who disagree to heel.

W. ran a jihad in America so he can fight one in Iraq
- drawing a devoted flock of evangelicals, or "values
voters," as they call themselves, to the polls by
opposing abortion, suffocating stem cell research and
supporting a constitutional amendment against gay

Mr. Bush, whose administration drummed up fake
evidence to trick us into war with Iraq, sticking our
troops in an immoral position with no exit strategy,
won on "moral issues."

The president says he's "humbled" and wants to reach
out to the whole country. What humbug. The Bushes are
always gracious until they don't get their way. If W.
didn't reach out after the last election, which he
barely grabbed, why would he reach out now that he has
what Dick Cheney calls a "broad, nationwide victory"?

While Mr. Bush was making his little speech about
reaching out, Republicans said they had "the green
light" to pursue their conservative agenda, like
drilling in Alaska's wilderness and rewriting the tax

"He'll be a lot more aggressive in Iraq now," one Bush
insider predicts. "He'll raze Falluja if he has to. He
feels that the election results endorsed his version
of the war." Never mind that the more insurgents
American troops kill, the more they create.

Just listen to Dick (Oh, lordy, is this cuckoo clock
still vice president?) Cheney, introducing the Man for
his victory speech: "This has been a consequential
presidency which has revitalized our economy and
reasserted a confident American role in the world."
Well, it has revitalized the Halliburton segment of
the economy, anyhow. And "confident" is not the first
word that comes to mind for the foreign policy of a
country that has alienated everyone except Fiji.

Vice continued, "Now we move forward to serve and to
guard the country we love." Only Dick Cheney can make
"to serve and to guard" sound like "to rape and to

He's creating the sort of "democracy" he likes. One
party controls all power in the country. One network
serves as state TV. One nation dominates the world as
a hyperpower. One firm controls contracts in Iraq.

Just as Zell Miller was so over the top at the G.O.P.
convention that he made Mr. Cheney seem reasonable, so
several new members of Congress will make W. seem

Tom Coburn, the new senator from Oklahoma, has
advocated the death penalty for doctors who perform
abortions and warned that "the gay agenda" would
undermine the country. He also characterized his race
as a choice between "good and evil" and said he had
heard there was "rampant lesbianism" in Oklahoma

Jim DeMint, the new senator from South Carolina, said
during his campaign that he supported a state G.O.P.
platform plank banning gays from teaching in public
schools. He explained, "I would have given the same
answer when asked if a single woman who was pregnant
and living with her boyfriend should be hired to teach
my third-grade children."

John Thune, who toppled Tom Daschle, is an
anti-abortion Christian conservative - or "servant
leader," as he was hailed in a campaign ad - who
supports constitutional amendments banning flag
burning and gay marriage.

Seeing the exit polls, the Democrats immediately
started talking about values and religion. Their
sudden passion for wooing Southern white Christian
soldiers may put a crimp in Hillary's 2008 campaign
(nothing but a wooden stake would stop it). Meanwhile,
the blue puddle is comforting itself with the
expectation that this loony bunch will fatally
overreach, just as Newt Gingrich did in the 90's.

But with this crowd, it's hard to imagine what would
constitute overreaching.

Invading France?


8) One Iraqi Opinion on US Election Outcome:

"To every cloud there is a silver lining.

In this case, our dauntless Mr. Bush will be (IMO):

(a.) The first president since Ford (Vietnam) to
preside over a disastrous foreign military defeat --
they are hundreds of thousands of troops short of
minimum garrison requirements in Iraq, and are
steadily LOSING the war to the insurgents, it's just a
matter of time until their army collapses or has to
pull out in a humiliating retreat to avoid total
destruction (leaving, of course, Osama's pals in
charge over there);

(b.) Stuck with the largest deficits in U.S. history,
which are all but guaranteed to completely destabilize
the financial system and cause catastrophic harm to
the U.S. economy; and, last but certainly not least,

(c.) The president who engineered the final, near
total isolation of the United States from the world
economy and public opinion in the rest of the world
(including Canada).

The bottom line here is, Americans have had their
choice. They have, (by 51% over 48%), clearly endorsed
the ideas of launching unprovoked wars of occupation
and plunder all over the world, of contemptuously
ignoring international law, of torturing prisoners, of
spending buckets of money that they don't have, of
allowing corporate oligopolies to destroy competiton
and innovation, of ruining the environment, of
arbitrarily withdrawing rights from minorities, of
executing demonstrably innocent people, and of
generally marching confidently into the 18th Century,
all at a time when the rest of the world is moving
forward in the opposite direction. They couldn't care
less about what anyone else thinks of them. They are
basically giving the whole world, "the finger".

Americans think that their country has the military,
economic and political power to get away with this,
but they're very, very wrong. The next 4 (or more)
years are going to bring this message vividly home. I
hope they all get what they so richly deserve."


9) New Orleans Libertarians' Viewpoint of Election


The Team Cheney victory on November 2 means one thing
and one thing only: now Cheney, his running mate, and
the entire senior leadership of the Executive Branch
of the U.S. government can AND WILL BE IMPEACHED for
Dereliction of Duty (and/or Treason) for Failure to
Detect Then Prevent Then Stop (or For Direct or
Indirect Complicity In) The Terror Event of September
11, 2001.

That is PROMISE #2.


THEM as in those who have used and exploited 9.11 to
advance their own agendas and move toward realizing
geo-strategic political, military, and economic goals
and objectives.

US as in those who have taken a sacred vow and oath to
Seek Out, Find, UnEarth, Expose, and UnLeash THE
BUT THE TRUTH about The Terror Event of September
11, 2001.


10) Howard Dean Post-Mortem Letter:

"Montana, one of the reddest states, has a new
Democratic governor.

First-time candidates for state legislatures from
Hawaii to Connecticut beat incumbent Republicans.

And a record number of us voted to change course --
more Americans voted against George Bush than any
sitting president in history.

Today is not an ending.

Regardless of the outcome yesterday, we have begun to
revive our democracy. While we did not get the result
we wanted in the presidential race, we laid the
groundwork for a new generation of Democratic leaders.

Democracy for America trained thousands of organizers
and brought new leadership into the political process.
And down the ballot, in state after state, we elected
Dean Dozen candidates who will be the rising stars of
the Democratic Party in years ahead.

Tens of millions of us are disappointed today because
we put so much of ourselves into this election. We
donated money, we talked to friends, we knocked on
doors. We invested ourselves in the political process.

That process does not end today. These are not
short-term investments. We will only create lasting
change if that sense of obligation and responsibility
becomes a permanent part of our lives.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Our lives begin to end
the day we become silent about things that matter."

We will not be silent.

Thank you for everything you did for our cause in this
election. But we are not stopping here.

Governor Howard Dean, M.D.

P.S. -- Join others in your community tonight at the
Democracy for America Meetup to celebrate your hard
work and discuss the next steps for your local group:"

11) New MN Law Student's Blog:

Do you Yahoo!?
Check out the new Yahoo! Front Page.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I want to address anyone who visits this site.

First, I will not post for a week. We all need to rest, to recollect, and to reflect.
Second, I will post again.

As a citizen of this country, I cannot abandon the faith I have in our discourse and in our need to speak to each other. We still need to speak the Truth..whenever and wherever we find it..even if the Truth is uncomfortable or unpopular.

I respect the vote of Americans, and I respect my right to disagree with the choice of my fellow countrymen.

I oppose the War in IRAQ. I oppose the economic and education policies of this administration, and I will work locally and nationally to help make the lives of all working men and women better.

I will be back. I will vote again.
paulette swartzfager

Monday, November 01, 2004

Ground Control to Major George: WIRED

Ground Control to Major George...

NASA Scientist Detects Bush Wire; Press Yawns


Like the dramatic photos of Saturn's rings and moons that he and his teammates have been analyzing and enhancing, the photos of President Bush's back during the three debates, similarly subjected to NASA photo expert Robert Nelson's skillful analysis, offer astonishing revelations. The president is a man wired to the hilt, and obviously so in need of electronic backup during his confrontation with John Kerry that he risked exposure twice even after a controvery had arisen about the bulge in his jacket following the first debate. (For a look at the pictures, go to .)

That said, this photo imaging tour-de-force by senior research scientist Nelson, a 30-year veteran of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and past chair of the Division for Planetary Science of the American Astronomical Society, also reveals much about the sorry state of some of our most prominent daily newspapers.

Nelson, it turns out, initially examined, out of personal curiousity, a photo of Bush's back, which he took with a digital camera off a video screen image of the first debate. When he discovered, working on his own time and on his own personal equipment, that under the jacket was a quite obvious electrical device, including a wire running up over the president's right shoulder, he decided he had a big story on his hands.

Here, after all, was concrete evidence that the president had cheated in the three debates, and that the White House, the Bush/Cheney campaign, and the president himself-who had called the bulge in debate one the result of a "poorly tailored shirt"-had lied to the press and the public.

The response of the American media to this story, however, has been as dismal, politically biased and cowardly as Nelson's was courageous.

First, Nelson, who lives and works in Pasadena, offered his story to the local daily, the Pasadena Star News. Such a big story by a Cal Tech/JPL scientist would seem a shoe-in for page-one play in his local daily, but he says the conservative paper's editors shot him down. Likewise the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, from his hometown in Pennsylvania-the second place he offered the story to.

Deciding he might have better luck with the major media, which he assumed might be less tainted by politics, Nelson tried the nearby Los Angeles Times . No luck. Although he sent his photos to the paper's editors, he says they "sat on them for four days" and never returned his phone call.

Nelson had better luck, at least initially, with the New York Times . Several reporters there took an interest, he says, "and they promised a story which was ready to go last Thursday, when it was yanked at the last minute by higher ups." My calls to the reporters who were working the story, Bill Broad and Andy Revkin, went unanswered, as did a phone call and an email to the Times' ombudsman, Daniel Okrent.

Finally, Nelson says he offered his photos of the first debate to the Washington Post . Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward (he of Watergate investigative reporting fame), actually personally called him back, Nelson says. "He said it would take too long for him to clear these images with his editors and he encouraged me to go to Salon." (That being the online magazine where I initially broke the story about Bush's bulge on October 8.)

Salon jumped at Nelson's photos (its editors didn't need to spend days ruminating on the political consequences of doing the right thing), running them with a short article that explained the techniques he used, and demonstrating yet again that the Internet has become the place where real journalism is happening, while the mainstream print media continue their slide into irrelevance.

Mother Jones magazine picked up the story from there, asking Nelson to apply the same techniques of analysis and enhancement to digital photos of Bush's back to photo made from tapes of the other two presidential debates. The results were posted Saturday evening on the magazine's website.

"I'm just really ticked that editors are saying they have to know what it is before they'll ask the White House about it," says a frustrated Nelson. "That's way too high a threshold for pursuing this story."

It remains to be seen whether the mainstream media, print and electronic, will have the intestinal fortitude to report before Election Day on Nelson's findings and to display his photographs, now that the story is out there in two reputable publications.

At least we can expect the humorists-John Stewart, David Letterman and Gary Trudeau-to have fun with the new images, and the growing scandal. The humor section seems to be the only part of the mainstream media that recognizes the importance of, and the huge public interest in, this scandal.

Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal .His new book of CounterPunch columns titled " This Can't be Happening! " is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at .

He can be reached at:

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