March 25,  2004  Thursday


Condoleezza Rice's bad week
Salon (subscription) - 3-25-04
...It was a catastrophic Wednesday for Condoleezza Rice, the worst of ... Richard A. Clarke, told the commission investigating the 9/11 terrorist attacks ...
Clarke: Rice should have done job before 9/11 CNN
9/11 Hearings: Fmr Counterterror Chief Clarke Blasts Bush on 9/ ...  Democracy Now
Former Counterterror Chief Apologizes to 9/11 Families KTOK

George Bush, Entertainer In Chief
Washington Post, DC -3-25-04

….Mostly, though, he put up dorky-looking pictures of himself. A recurring joke involved photos of the president in awkward positions -- bent over as if he's looking under a table, leaning to look out a window -- accompanied by remarks such as "Those weapons of mass destruction must be somewhere!" and "Nope, no weapons over there!" and "Maybe under here?"…

A sad tale of arrogance and ignorance
Working for Change, CA - 3-25-04

By Molly Ivins
AUSTIN, Texas -- I'd like to thank Richard Clarke for doing the most obvious, decent and necessary thing this country needed from its government after 9-11, and that is to apologize to the families of those who died in those attacks and to admit: "We failed you. ... I failed you."  ...

Gee, the White House isn't handling this spin too well.

"I worked with Richard Clarke in the mid-'90s and I was very impressed with his competence and his determination and his nonpartisanship. I think he's very credible and I think he's raised serious issues for the American people. I don't think it's fair to be attacking Dick Clarke's motives. . . . The facts are out there in the book. It's up to the administration to deal with the facts or not." Wesley Clark


 Disturbing News

Supreme Court ruling may limit rural phone options - 3-25-04

In a ruling that could narrow phone and high-speed Internet choices for rural residents, the Supreme Court said Wednesday that states can bar cities and local governments from offering their own communications services.

Democratic Sen. Miller Leads Charge for Bush

Reuters - Wed Mar 24, 4:49 PM ET

Georgia Sen. Zell Miller, a Democrat who has endorsed President Bush, took the reins on Wednesday of a "Democrats for Bush" group and slammed John Kerry as "out of step" with the party's past leaders.


U.S. Expected to Veto UN Measure on Yassin's Death

Reuters - 3-25-04

Palestinian and Arab ambassadors want the U.N. Security Council on Thursday to condemn Israel for killing a Hamas leader in a resolution the United States has made clear it would veto.


US admits it is vulnerable, 30 months after September 11 attacks

AFP - Wed Mar 24, 9:54 AM ET

President George W. Bush's administration was forced to admit that the United States is still vulnerable to terrorist attacks two-and-a-half years after the September 11 attacks.

Official Considered Leaving Over Medicare

AP - Thu Mar 25, 3:05 AM ET

Medicare actuary Richard Foster was between a rock and a hard place.


Postage Stamp Prices Could Rise Sharply

AP - Tue Mar 23, 6:26 PM ET

Postmaster General John Potter warned that a postal rate increase planned for 2006 could be 4 cents or more for first class letters unless restrictions on how the agency operates are eased.


 Disturbing Business News

Economy Grew at 4.1 Pct. Rate in 4th Qtr.

Reuters - 3-25-04

The U.S. economy's growth rate slowed in the final three months of 2003, the government said on Thursday in its final look at fourth-quarter gross domestic product, while businesses enjoyed a second straight year of double-digit profit growth.

Report: Some Credit Helpers Hurt Consumers

AP - Wed Mar 24, 6:10 PM ET

Raymond Schuck thought he was being responsible when he went to Cambridge Credit Counseling for help reducing $90,000 in credit card and bank debt. Instead, the retired museum director said the monthly payments he made never reached his creditors — and he ended up filing for bankruptcy.
Surge in steel prices creates waves in US auto sector

AFP - Thu Mar 25, 2:09 AM ET

Soaring steel prices have roiled the ranks of US auto suppliers, pushing some to the brink of bankruptcy, and threatening to disrupt the multi-billion dollar US automotive industry

Lilly's Marketing Practices Investigated

Reuters -3-25-04

Eli Lilly and Co. (LLY.N) said on Thursday the U.S. Attorney's Office in Pennsylvania is investigating its marketing practices of certain drugs, the most recent in a slew of probes into the pharmaceutical industry.

Fed Reminds Rates Can Rise

Reuters - Wed Mar 24,10:25 PM ET

Two Federal Reserve officials gave further warning to investors on Wednesday that loose monetary policy won't continue forever given rising U.S. economic growth.

Jobless Claims Tick Higher Last Week

Reuters - 3-25-04

The number of Americans filing for initial jobless benefits rose slightly last week but was in line with expectations near three-year lows, a government report showed on Thursday, offering signs of a stabilizing job market.




By Margie Burns

In retrospect, it is now clear that the Bush administration had cash-register eyes on Iraq from the start.  From the first, Bush appointed to public office every member of the “Project for a New American Century” he could get.  The “Project for a New American Century” is a DC-based GOP lobbyist-contractor think tank, founded in 1997 with the foreign policy goal of invading Iraq.  In January 1998, the PNAC sent a letter to President Clinton, urging him to remove Saddam Hussein. 

It is chilling to read the exact arguments, dated January 1998, used later by the Bush White House and its paid media supporters:  “We urge you to . . . to enunciate a new strategy that would secure the interests of the U.S. and our friends and allies around the world.  That strategy should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power . . . In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing.  In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power.  That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.”  (

Removing Saddam as “the” aim of American foreign policy is to be pursued at all costs, said the signers of the letter, which also mentions “the world’s supply of oil.” 

This pro-Iraq-war letter to Clinton has eighteen signers.  Nine of them were immediately appointed to federal positions after Bush came into the White House.  The first was Donald Rumsfeld, named as Bush’s Secretary of Defense on December 11, 2000, even before the inauguration.  Vice President Cheney was another PNAC founding member.

Throughout the months leading up to September 11, 2001, Bush consistently picked PNAC members, focused on Iraq, over nonpartisan security experts, for top security positions.  The timeline is impressive:

Bush announced signer Robert B. Zoellick as US Trade Representative (the president’s principal trade advisor) on January 11, 2001; Paul D. Wolfowitz as Deputy Secretary for Defense on February 5; Richard L. Armitage as Deputy Secretary of State on February 12; Dov S. Zackheim as Comptroller for Defense on February 12; and John R. Bolton as Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Affairs in State on February 21.  The Pentagon Comptroller, Zackheim, is responsible for overseeing contracts in the Iraq reconstruction.

Thus by the end of February, 2001, most top national security jobs were consolidated around a none-too-subtle agenda of entering Iraq, intervening in its internal affairs, and replacing its government.

By the end of May, PNAC members also held the sensitive positions of Under Secretary for Global Affairs, State; Assistant Secretary for International Security Policy, Defense; and Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs, Defense.

The National Security Council was similarly politicized.  PNAC signer Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad was appointed to the National Security Council on May 23.  Bush appointed signer Elliott Abrams, indicted for lying to Congress in the “Iran-Contra” affair but pardoned by former President Bush, on June 25.  Khalilzad worked in Defense under former President Bush and then worked for the Rand Corporation, a major military contractor, in the 1990s.  Born in Afghanistan, he was also a consultant to US oil company Unocal, which attempted for several years to launch a giant pipeline project in Afghanistan but could not complete the deal with the Taliban.  Khalilzad is now US Ambassador to Afghanistan.  Abrams is NSC representative for Middle Eastern Affairs.

Other signers of Project for a New American Century letters and statements have also been appointed to federal positions. 

The full story of an unofficial official campaign to go to war, behind the scenes in government, still waits to be told.  Major media outlets have not run even the blandest of stories on the PNAC, with its numerous members in government, as a “farm team” or a “stable” or a “bullpen.”  However, it can now be seen that Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the rest hyped up the alleged “WMD” threat posed by Iraq and conversely gave lightened presentations on the risks, cost, and bloodshed involved in invading.  Surely it must also be clear that the White House posture of choosing war as a “last resort” was deception


Margie Burns, a native Texan, writes freelance in the DC area.  She can be reached at


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For all of us who feel only the deepest love and affection
for the way computers have enhanced our lives, read on. At a recent
computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer
industry with the auto industry and stated, "If GM had kept up with
technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25.00
cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon."

In response to Bill's comments, General Motors issued a
press release stating: If GM had developed technology like! Microsoft, we
would all be driving cars with the following characteristics (and I just
love this part):

1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a

2. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you
would have to buy a new car.

3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no
reason. You would have to pull to the side of the road, close all of the
windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you
could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.

4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn
would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you
would have to reinstall the engine.

5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun,
was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive - but would
run on only five percent of the roads.

6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights
would all be replaced by a single "This Car Has Performed An Illegal
Operation" warning light.

7. The airbag system would ask "Are you sure?" before

8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would
lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the
door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

9. Every time a new car was introduced car buyers would have
to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would
operate in the same manner as the old car.

10. You'd have to press the "Start" button to turn the
engine off.

Please share this with your friends who love - but sometimes
hate - their computer!

This is an artist's rendering of a proposed 305-foot monument of Abraham Lincoln to be built in Lincoln, Ill. Supporters such as Rev. S.M. Davis, a Lincoln pastor who first suggested the statue, say it would be visible for about 20 miles and have hopes it could become one of the biggest tourist attractions in America. (Photo/HO)

 Military News


U.S. May Halve Forces in Germany - Thu Mar 25,12:23 AM ET

The Pentagon has drafted plans to withdraw as many as half of the 71,000 troops based in Germany as part of an extensive realignment of American military forces that moves away from large concentrations in Europe and Asia, according to U.S. officials.



U.S. expanding military sites in Mideast, Asia

Chicago Tribune - Tue Mar 23, 9:40 AM ET

Network counters `arc of instability'


Soldiers' Testimony Raises Questions Over U.S. Report

Reuters -3-25-04

A U.S. Army officer who killed Reuters cameraman Mazen Dana in Iraq could have had his vision impaired by sweat in his goggles, according to three soldiers in his unit who testified to an official inquiry.


14 `enduring bases' set in Iraq

Chicago Tribune - Tue Mar 23, 9:40 AM ET

Long-term military presence planned


Soldier Suicide Rate in Iraq Jumped

AP - Thu Mar 25, 3:09 AM ET

A sudden increase in suicides among U.S. soldiers in Iraq last summer turned out to be a brief spike, but the overall suicide rate there last year was much higher than for the entire Army.


Student Launches Million Appreciation Letters Campaign for Military


A high school student from Lutheran High School in Orange, Calif., has started national campaign today to collect and distribute one million letters of appreciation to our current and past military service members as part of National Military Appreciation Month (NMAM), which is celebrated each May


Faces of the Fallen

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Today in History  March 25

0421 - The city of Venice was founded.

1634 - Lord Baltimore founded the Catholic colony of Maryland.

1655 - Puritans jailed Governor Stone after a military victory over Catholic forces in the colony of Maryland.

1668 1st horse race in America takes place

1776 Continental Congress authorizes a medal for General George Washington

1821 Greece gains independence from Turkey (National Day)

1896 Modern Olympics begin in Athens Greece

1907 - Nicaraguan troops took Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras.

1916 Women are allowed to attend a boxing match

1937 It's revealed Quaker Oats pays Babe Ruth $25,000 per year for ads

1937 Washington Daily News is 1st US newspaper with perfumed advertising page

1944 RAF Sergeant Nickolas Alkemade survives a jump from his Lancaster bomber from 18,000 feet without a parachute

1960 1st guided missile launched from nuclear powered sub (Halibut)

1961 Elvis Presley performs live on the USS Arizona

1965 Martin Luther King Jr led 25,000 to state capitol in Montgomery AL

1966 US Supreme court rules "poll tax" unconstitutional

1969 John & Yoko stage their 1st bed-in for peace (Amsterdam)

1970 Concorde makes its 1st supersonic flight (700 MPH/1,127 KPH)

1975 King Faisal of Saudi Arabia was shot and killed by his nephew.

1976 Argentine military junta bans leftist political parties

1986 Supreme Court rules Air Force could ban wearing of yarmulkes

1987 Supreme Court rules women/minorities may get jobs if less qualified

1992 British scientists find new largest perfect number (2 756839 -1 2 756839)

1993 - President de Klerk admitted that South Africa had built six nuclear bombs, but said that they had since been dismantled.

1994 - United States troops completed their withdrawal from Somalia.

2002 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) dismissed complaints against Walt Disney Co.'s ABC network broadcast of a Victoria's Secret fashion show in November 2001.



 Assorted News

AP Poll: Most Prefer Phrase 'Under God'

AP - Wed Mar 24, 2:15 AM ET

Results of Associated Press polling about the Pledge of Allegiance and a legal fight about whether requiring schoolchildren to say the pledge is unconstitutional because the phrase "under God" violates the separation between church and state.

Atheist Calls Pledge Unconstitutional

Thu Mar 25, 2:52 AM ET - (AP)

The case before the Supreme Court drew a varied crowd: Christians, atheists, politicians, educators and a bitterly divided mother and father.

Transcript of Remarks by President Bush at the Radio and Television Correspondents Association Dinner

Wed Mar 24, 7:40 PM ET

Following is a transcript of remarks by President Bush at the Radio and Television Correspondents Association dinner:

EU Slaps Record Fine on Microsoft

Reuters - Wed Mar 24,11:50 PM ET

European regulators on Wednesday fined Microsoft Corp. a record 497 million euros ($606 million) for breaking antitrust law and ordered it to strip media software from its operating system.

 Good News

Leftwing broadcasters take to airwaves - Wed Mar 24, 3:35 PM ET

Liberal radio station hopes to ride a wave of perceived antipathy to the Bush administration and so succeed where other leftwing broadcasters have failed. From a cramped 40th floor office on Park Avenue, Mark Walsh is plotting a radio revolution.

Anti-Bush books continue to sell
Naples Daily News, FL - 3-25-04
... Anti-Bush books have been popular since last fall, when liberal pundits Al Franken, Joe Conason and Molly Ivins were among those with best sellers. ...


 Technology News

HP to Expand Linux Desktop Distribution
Miami Herald, FL - 14 hours ago
SALT LAKE CITY - Responding to corporate America's thirst for a cheap alternative to Microsoft Windows, Hewlett-Packard Co. announced ...



Democratic Sen. Miller Leads Charge for Bush
Reuters, United States - 3-25-04
Zell Miller, a Democrat who has endorsed President Bush, took the reins on Wednesday of a "Democrats for Bush" group and slammed John Kerry as "out of step ...


Subject: Kerry/McCain


Much has been written lately, re: Kerry/McCain.

One of the more recent:

I have written to both senators urging them to unite for the good of the country. My E-mail to Senator Kerry follows this message.


Letter to Kerry:

Dear Senator Kerry:

I have written the following E-mail to Senator McCain urging him to join with you in a bi-partisan resolution to restore our national security and to ensure the success of our economy.

If our objective is to replace President Bush by electing you, what greater chance might we have, than with Senator McCain as your running mate? What better opportunity can we give disgruntled Republicans to express their dissatisfaction with President Bush than by forming a coalition with Senator McCain, for whom many would have cast their votes in the last election, had he been a candidate?

I strongly urge you to select Senator John McCain as your Vice-Presidential running mate for this election for the reasons expressed herein, and in my message to Senator McCain.

Respectfully yours,

E-mail to Senator McCain:

Dear Senator McCain:

I write to you as a former Air Force B-52 pilot, who could only justify the Christmas 1972 bombings of Hanoi and Haiphong (I was up there nearly every night, while you were down below) with the hope that such would free you and the other POW’s.

Please consider my E-mail as my most sincere request that you join with Senator Kerry, as his Vice-Presidential candidate, for the purpose of presenting to our fellow Americans a united front, the partnership of which will ensure that our Union and Constitution survive.

A bi-partisan resolution to restore our national security and to ensure the success of our economy would be most welcome in this most troubling time.

Respectfully yours,

If you wish you can e-mail Kerry, and/or McCain at:

Since we are in the mess we are, are we better off with 2 men who actually fought in a war? (Speaking in Rumsfeldian)

Thanks for writing and sharing your view.

 Odd News

Santa Fe Considers Doggie Seat Belt Law

AP -3-25-04

Santa Fe is considering requiring doggie seat belts. A major rewrite of the city's animal control ordinance proposes that Santa Fe dogs be buckled up when riding in trucks and other vehicles.

Four-eared German kitten seeking good home

Reuters - Wed Mar 24,12:13 PM ET

A kitten born with four ears is desperately seeking a new home because her owners can't afford to have her neutered, German animal shelter officials say.

Georgia House Bans Genital Piercings

AP - Wed Mar 24, 6:21 PM ET

Genital piercings for women were banned by the Georgia House Wednesday as lawmakers considered a bill outlining punishments for female genital mutilation.

Dead Caterpillars Make Roadways Slippery

AP - Wed Mar 24, 7:24 PM ET

It's been a slippery ride on Coachella Valley roadways. Hundreds of caterpillars have been inundating desert roadways this week and many of the three-inch critters are crushed by cars and trucks, creating a gooey mess in traffic lanes.

Cheerleader's Mom Sent to Anger Classes

AP - Wed Mar 24, 6:33 PM ET

A judge ordered the mother of a junior high school cheerleader into anger management classes after the woman admitted that she harassed the sponsor of the cheerleading team.

Teachers in Georgia get $30,000 US in raises after getting fake degrees online

Canadian Press - Wed Mar 24, 2:11 PM ET

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (AP) - A county school board may demand that six teachers repay nearly $30,000 US in pay raises they received after obtaining fake degrees from an online school in Liberia.

Palestinians flock to lamb with Allah's name

Reuters - Wed Mar 24,12:12 PM ET

Hundreds of Palestinians have gathered to see a lamb born with what looks like "Allah" spelled out in Arabic on its coat.

"Go bowling" Chavez urges Cubans

Reuters - Wed Mar 24, 1:10 PM ET

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has added one more product to the crude oil he is sending to help strengthen ties with ally Fidel Castro -- bowling balls.

Unmarried parents may have to split up - cohabitation illegal in N. Carolina

Canadian Press - Wed Mar 24,12:36 PM ET

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) - An unmarried couple who are the parents of a two-year-old child may be forced to separate because cohabitation is illegal in North Carolina and would violate the woman's probation.

Iceberg Off Western Greenland Painted Red


Off the coast of western Greenland, in an area saturated by slow-moving ice floes and white icebergs, the blood red one stands out by design.

Fla. Teacher Accused of Killing Rabbits

Wed Mar 24, 4:49 PM ET

A high school science teacher killed a pair of sickly rabbits with a shovel as her stunned class looked on, then asked the students to help bury the day-old animals, authorities said.

Germs hitched space probes to Mars-study

Wed Mar 24, 2:08 PM ET

An American scientist believes that if life is finally proved to exist on Mars, its origins may be more mundane and closer to home than we think.


168 students, 24 parents locked up for cheating in exams in India

Tue Mar 23,10:55 AM ET

Authorities in India locked 168 high school students and 24 parents in a detention centre after accusing them of cheating in exams.


Reindeer herders build icy drive-in theatre for snowmobiles in Norway's Arctic

Wed Mar 24, 1:06 PM ET

OSLO, Norway (AP) - The Sami reindeer herders of Norway's Arctic are building a snowmobile drive-in theatre using, of course, the tundra's most plentiful winter resource snow.


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The Black Commentator

Haiti’s Troika of Terror
Thugs - a Buffoon - the Pirates

Cartoon: The Hanging Judge

Opportunity Finds Beachfront Property on Mars Astrobiology Magazine