It is a time of freedom and fear, of Gaia and of borders, of many paths and the widening of a universal toll road, emptying country and swelling cities, of the public bought into privacy and the privacy of the public sold into invisible data banks and knowing algorithms. It is the time of the warrior's peace and the miser's charity, when the planting of a seed is an act of conscientious objection.

These are the times when maps fade and direction is lost. Forwards is backwards now, so we glance sideways at the strange lands through which we are all passing, knowing for certain only that our destination has disappeared. We are unready to meet these times, but we proceed nonetheless, adapting as we wander, reshaping the Earth with every tread.

Behind us we have left the old times, the standard times, the high times. Welcome to the irregular times.


Stranger Than Any Hoax: The Little People
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
 
So strange I thought at first it must be a hoax, I read today of the finding of the "little people" of Flores, an island in the Indonesian archipelago. Three feet tall with heads the size of grapefruit. My stars!

This is being widely reported on, so if it's a hoax, it's a very well done one.

Read on:

Washington Post
BBC News
Reuters

Posted by Matthew Cook at 2:35 PM# (permalink)
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Science, in spite of the White House
 
This morning brings us exciting news from the outer Solar System. The Cassini space probe has made a close pass past the moon of Titan, which many scientists speculate could be a home for life of some kind. Soon, a separate space probe will break off from Cassini, and descend down to the surface of Titan, getting a view of what lies beneath its thick, visually impenetrable atmosphere.

Now, I'm among those who think that this kind of exploration is a great thing. I think it's important for us to know about our solar neighborhood, and explore as far as we can go. I think it's important for us to acquire knowledge so that we have more tools to use to confront the problems that come our way. I think science is a great thing.

There are those who disagree with me, who think that science is a distraction from what they regard as truth. They seek to pray for knowledge, and hope that it comes all on its own. George W. Bush is one of these people. Instead of conducting thorough investigations to uncover solid information, he acts on his "instincts" and prays for guidance.

When it comes to science, George W. Bush has hacked away at the funding for important research. Bush has ripped intellectual independence away from scientists working for the government, ordering them to rewrite their findings according to Bush's political needs. Bush has crippled America's schools, demanding that they satisfy new bureaucratic requirements without providing the funding necessary to make such requirements achieveable.

With Bush at the helm, the United States of America will not see any new Cassini space probes.

What's that? Didn't Bush say that he was going to start a Moon Colony?

Well, yes, Bush said he was going to do that. Searching for a way to inspire the American people, he copied John F. Kennedy's pledge to send a man to the Moon. Then, Bush forgot all about it, and failed to provide the funding necessary to actually complete the project. His wandering mind was led elsewhere.

We cannot afford another four years of such a tremendous lack of discipline and such an antipathy to knowledge as now exists in the White House. Our peace, our children, and our future as a curious species depends the decision to change leadership now, before chaos and ignorance is allowed to eat away at the very core of our human heritage.

Posted by Peregrin Wood at 8:11 AM. # (permalink)
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Update: U.S. Troops Verified High Explosives Intact, Then Bush Administration Let It Slide
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
 
From the Associated Press October 26:
At the Pentagon, an official who monitors developments in Iraq said U.S.-led coalition troops had searched Al Qaqaa in the immediate aftermath of the March 2003 invasion and confirmed that the explosives were intact. Thereafter the site was not secured by US forces, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.


Posted by Matthew Cook at 10:15 PM# (permalink)
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Preparing for the Post-Election Campaigns
 
For well over a year now, we've been focusing our efforts on helping progressives prepare for Election Day 2004. Well, it's time now that we shift our vision just a little bit further into the future, into the post-election campaigns.

Even with just voter registration, absentee ballots, and early voting, news of Republican electoral fraud is coming in so fast that there's no way any individual can keep up with it all, much less do anything practical in response. If we band together, however, we can build an effective network for defending democracy after the election, no matter what kind of fraud the Republicans try to implement to get George W. Bush back in the White House for a second term.

Election Day could be the end of the campaign, but it's now looking much more likely that, as was the case in 2000, the election campaign will continue for weeks, or even months, as Republicans try to disqualify as many progressive voters as they can - even after they have voted.

This morning, the Green Democrats sent us a pledge that neatly sums up the spirit of preparation for the post-election campaign that is now moving through the progressive ranks:

Pledge of Action to Stop a Stolen Election:

I remember the stolen presidential election of 2000 and I am willing to take action in 2004 if the election is stolen again. I support efforts to protect the right to vote leading up to and on Election Day, November 2nd. If that right is systematically violated, I pledge to join nationwide protests starting on November 3rd, either in my community, in the states where the fraud occurred, or in Washington DC.

In the spirit of this pledge, we have set up a new irregular action center, called After 2004. This center will serve as a resource for Americans during the election, in the post-election, and afterwards as we seek to adjust to the new reality we find in the next four-year presidential term.

Many other organizations are hard at work preparing to counter Republican voter fraud and disinformation techniques, and prime among them is Election Protection.org to which we have made a donation, and to which we suggest that you make a donation too. The organization is non-partisan, meaning that it will stand up for voters who have their rights violated, no matter who they are.

Let's just say that from the patterns of fraud we've seen so far, we expect the abuses to be almost exclusively Republican. There have been scores of abuses by Republicans against voters across America already, and not one such attempt to keep Americans from voting by Democrats.

Donations to the this foundation are tax-deductible, so it benefits you financially as well as politically. Every vote counts this year - but only if every vote is counted!

Posted by J. Clifford Cook at 4:02 PM# (permalink)
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October Surprise: Cost of War Rises Another 87%
 
The Washington Post has discovered, and government officials have now confirmed, that George W. Bush will be asking for another $70 Billion dollars to prosecute war in the Middle East, raising the cost of war since the invasion of Iraq to $225 Billion.

Remember how Bush fired his economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey for saying the cost of a war in Iraq was going to fall somewhere between $100 Billion and $200 Billion? Well, Bush should have fired him after all -- it's become clear that the price tag for the quagmire is going to be well over $200 Billion when all the costs are figured in.

Posted by Matthew Cook at 7:04 AM. # (permalink)
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Republican Bush Delegate Comes Out Against Bush
Monday, October 25, 2004
 
Plutonium Page opened the pages of the Albuquerque Journal to find the following letter to the editor:
Grand Old Principles Gone

I Represented George Bush Sr. as a delegate to the Florida convention and I volunteered to go to Vietnam as an intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army.

Under the current administration, the Republican Party has deserted its dedicated people who believed in fiscal responsibility, a balanced budget, truthfulness from its leaders, coordination and involvement of its NATO and U.N. allies and national security that defends but does not violate the civil liberties of its citizens.

Under Bush Jr. we have for the first time a "yes" president rather than a president who is surrounded by "yes" men. Rather than an MBA who delegates, he has relinquished the reins of governing to the puppeteer handlers who through the strings of control have told him of supposed weapons of mass destruction, the cost benefits of using Halliburton, the safety of reckless deficit spending, the sensibility of privatizing Social Security and the wisdom of going-it-alone in the world.

This president has said "yes" and the mission has not been accomplished.

For those others in the past who have voted Republican because they believed in the vitality of free markets and the enterprise system, and who believed in the elimination of deficit spending that in the '90s and earlier periods brought in a revived prosperity, there is not a genuine Republican candidate for president this year.

There may be a man who will return the Republican Party to its principles. But on Nov. 2, Bush Jr. is not that man.

Basil Akers, Albuquerque


Posted by Matthew Cook at 1:27 PM# (permalink)
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380 Tons of High Explosives Missing From Iraq, thanks to US Government Inattention
 
Does the Bush administration make you safer?

Oh, really?

380 tons (that's 760,000 pounds) of high explosives have been looted from the Iraqi site of Al Qaqaa (sounds like "Deep Shit"), which was supposed to be under U.S. military control but the security of which has been neglected since the war began. The Bush administration has acknowledged that the 380 tons (that's 760,000 pounds) of high explosives disappeared on their watch, after April 2003, as a result of chaotic looting. The U.S. military knew about the site and the existence of the explosives, in no small part because the agency that George W. Bush termed "irrelevant," the IAEA, specifically informed the U.S. about it and told them they needed to guard the site. But looters were still picking over the site of Al Qaqaa as recently as yesterday.

How much is 380 tons (that's 760,000 pounds) of high explosives?
  • it would take 40 large trucks to hold all the explosives;
  • less than one pound of the sort of explosive gone missing was used to take down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland;
  • just five pounds could blow up a dozen jetliners;
  • 760,000 pounds makes one and a half million downed jetliners.

(Sources: New York Times October 25, 2004 and Associated Press October 25, 2004)

Has the Bush administration made you safer?


Posted by Matthew Cook at 10:23 AM# (permalink)
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Cleveland Plain Dealer Editorials Bought Out By Republicans
 
We found it hard to believe at first, but this story comes from the reputable source of Editor and Publisher, which reports on issues impacting journalism.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer, a newspaper that covers not only Cleveland a huge territory outside of that city in the important swing state of Ohio, appears to have been bought out by the Republican Party.

The editorial board of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, nine people who keep close track of the news and evaluate candidates with professional rigor, chose to endorse John Kerry for President. The publishing owner of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Alex Machaskee, had other ideas. Machaskee, a partisan Republican if there ever was one, overruled the entire editorial board of the newspaper, and ordered them to endorse George W. Bush instead.

Alex Machaskee knows that the victor in this year's presidential election could be chosen by just a few hundred votes in Ohio, and wants to be sure that the Cleveland Plain Dealer joins the Bush bandwagon, even if the newspaper's own editors agree that voting for Bush would be bad for America.

We are sad to note the passing of the Cleveland Plain Dealer into the growing assemblage of newspapers that now act as little more than large brochures promoting the ideas of the Republican Party.

Posted by Peregrin Wood at 7:37 AM. # (permalink)
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Terrorist Plot Warnings Exposed as a Hoax
Sunday, October 24, 2004
 
j. clifford cookPut this story in the category of stuff you wish was fiction:

In July, Bush's Secretary of Tom Ridge insisted that he had been given credible evidence that Al Quaeda was planning "large-scale" attacks intended to "disrupt our democratic process" by interfering with the presidential election.

It was under this pretext that the Bush Administration sent out FBI agents to interrogate Midwestern Quakers, who are pacifists, and accuse them of being potential terrorists. It was under the pretext of an impending terrorist attack designed to wreck the presidential election that the Republican leadership of New York City rounded up huge numbers of completely innocent people and held them in jail for the sole reason that they had been participating in a nonviolent protest against the policies of George W. Bush. It was explained that some of these peaceful protester "might be terrorists" planning to attack the Republican National Convention.

There were never any terrorist attacks against the Republican National Convention. There have been no terrorist attacks in the United States since that time either.

Now, we're told that, in spite of what the Bush Administration told us, there never was any credible evidence of any plot by terrorists to disrupt the American election through attacks, "large-scale" or otherwise, within American borders.

Reuters news service wrote the headline: "No Evidence of U.S. Election-Linked Terror Plot". The Washington Post quoted a senior intelligence official within the Bush Administration as saying, "We've not unearthed anything that would add any credence to talk of an election-related attack. You can never say there is not a threat, but we have not found specific evidence of one."

The New York Times writes, "In Europe and the Middle East, senior counterterrorism officials say they have been perplexed and uneasy about the American officials' warnings. They say that last summer they had seen no evidence of an election-year threat in their own intelligence reports."

Is it any wonder that the rest of the world is so confused by the hype about a terrorist plot that does not appear to exist at all? So far, the greatest success of the ensuing anti-terrorist campaign is the Department of Homeland Security's decision to force a civilian plan down to the ground in order to prevent Cat Stevens from entering the country.

It's no mystery to American voters what the terrorist warning fraud is all about, of course. Republican pollsters have long noted that whenever the Bush Administration officials warn of an impending attack, approval ratings for George W. Bush go up, in spite of the fact that none of the so-called "impending" attacks have ever taken place.

It's time that America had a leader with the strength to unite Americans behind an agenda of hope. We cannot afford to be gathered together in the name of fear any longer.

Posted by J. Clifford Cook at 7:52 PM. # (permalink)
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