Saturday, August 02, 2008

Anthrax Conspiracy? Maybe Not.

Well I might have to pull myself back from the lunatic fringe on this anthrax matter. Bruce Ivins the man who the FBI was going to arrest in the 2001 Anthrax attack may have stood to profit from the ensuing panic. We will never know for sure since he allegedly committed suicide, but a story in the LA Times today stated that he owned part of a patent on an Anthrax Vaccine that had been shelved until the 2001 attacks.

His motive in the attacks could have simply been greed. Once the panic started, the vaccines came off the shelf and development on them went back into full steam research. That means he would have profited from the panic, and might make a pretty good motive for the fake terrorist letters.

So far, I am somewhat less inclined to jump off the conspiracy cliff, but time will tell.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Suspect In 2001 Anthrax Attacks Conveniently Turns Up Dead

I always knew that someday I might join the ranks of the conspiracy theorists regarding the US decision to invade Iraq, and today is the day.

What was the tipping point? Well, the reported suicide of Bruce Ivins, a government scientist who works with Anthrax, and was reported to be a "person of interest" by the FBI in the 2001 Anthrax attacks pretty much did it for me.

Those who have good memories will recall that right after September 11, a series of letters showed up in the offices of news organizations and government officials. The hand written missives included sayings like "Allah is Great" and "You will die now". The kicker was that the envelopes contained powdered, weaponized anthrax. The whole thing added a real sense of panic to the country .

Much of that panic was directed at Iraq. Several people made veiledand not so vieled references to Iraq's bioweapon capabilities, including the president in the State of the Union speech that winter. Follow that with a report by ABC news that bentonite had been found in the samples and Saddam Hussien was the only person who used bentonite in his chemical weapons and the smoking gun pointed at Iraq.

How convenient! Now it is well known that the Bush administration wanted to invate Iraq long before 9/11 and Bush operatives had even been quoted as saying that they wanted to find a connection between the World Trade Center disaster and Saddam. Now ABC claimed it had numerous sources in the government who confirmed the bentonite component which would fingerprint Iraq as the culprit.

Follow this with Colin Powel shaking his bottle of white powder in the UN General Assembly and even more sabre rattling and things get pretty suspicious.

Meanwhile the FBI kept up its investigation and first suspected Dr. Steven J. Hatfill a former researcher for the Army's bioweapons division in Ft. Detrick, Md. Though they never brought charges Dr. Hatfill was under intense scrutiny and his status as "Person of Interest" was leaked by the Justice Department when the Iraq connection went cold.

Seems there was no bentonite in the Anthrax that was sent in the attacks. Apparently there never was, and ABC news was duped by at least 4 sources both in the government and outside it.
Glen Greenwald at has the full story about that. The troubling thing is that ABC News will not release the names of the sources that gave them the phony story. Again, how convenient.

Meanwhile, Bush had his war going full steam and the Anthrax investigation dissappeared from the public eye. Still the FBI toiled in private seeking the culprit.

Then this June, the government pays off it's "Person of Interest" Dr. Hatfill to the tune of $5.82 million. Dr. Hatfill, is now silent on the whole matter, though that is understandable since his character was assissinated by the Justice Department leak making his life less that fun for the past 7 years.

That leaves us today with this news of Ivin's apparent suicide. According to reports, Ivins suspected that he would be charged opr at least harrassed by the FBI in connection with the case and took an overdose of Tylenol and codine. It is important to note that Ivins was one of the researchers assisting the FBI in the investigation of the anthrax samples in the first place.

Does it take a rocket scientist to connect the obvious dots here?

Whoever sent the Anthrax laden letters wanted them to incriminate Muslim expremists. Apparently they intended terror as the result. Why would a microbiologist worling with Anthrax want to do such a thing?

Here is my theory.

1. Bush wanted war with Iraq, that is no secret, and in a growing number of tell all books former administration officials show a good number of incodents where his intent was clear and how 9/11 became a good excuse to do it.

2. Letters that crudely implicate Islamic terrorists and contain weaponized Anthrax suddenly show up at the National Enquirer, government offices and major new outlets.

3. Someone in the government close to the investigation feeds a false story to ABC news about bentonite and the Iraq connection to the attack.

4. Bush gets his war. Saddam has no Anthrax operation otherwise he would have used it on the invading troops.

5. Meanwhile questions still linger and the public wants someone to blame for the attacks. Conveninetly the DOJ leaks Dr. Hatfill's name. The press drops the issue.

6. Dr. Hatfill is paid off to stay quiet. He most likely has nothing to do with the attack and was by all counts a scapegoat.

7. Bruce Ivins, another "Person of Interest" is found dead of an apparent suicide. How convenient! Perhaps the only other person who could answer the questions of who and why the attacks took place turns up dead.

OK Rocket Scientists, start connecting the dots. When they lead you to the door to Dick Cheney's office, call me. Of course that is unless you decide to committ suicide.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Obama Confronts McCain's Negative Ad

On July 31st, 2008, Barack Obama returned to Cedar Rapids to hold a town hall meeting.

McCain Sells Out To Big Oil - $881,450!

As soon as McCain reversed his decision about offshore drilling, his campaign coffers have swollen. A report by Campaign Money Watch states:

In Texas alone, June oil and gas-connected donations to McCain’s Victory ’08 Fund, his hybrid fund raising venture with the RNC and state committees, reached $1,214,100.

Of that total, $881,450, or 73 percent, came after June 15. McCain announced his position in favor of offshore drilling on June 16.
And you wonder why McCain flip flopped on offshore drilling? Once again, McCain is Bush 3!

McCain's Tactics Called A "Gimmick"

Exxon Obscene Profits Again!

Big surprise! Exxon-Mobil profits were up 14 percent last quarter beating its previous record. Net income rose to $11.68 billion from $10.26 billion last year. I am sure it piut smiles on the faces of lots of investors.

The down side is record gas prices are hitting us common folk in the pocketbook hard. $4.00 a gallon gas has driven up food costs transportation costs and just about every aspect of American life. But don't take it so hard, your sacrifice is helping put caviar on the tables of Exxon investors and management. See, it's a win-win situation!

Pete Sessions G-String Fundraiser Draws Flack

Everyone's favorite "family values" candidate, Pete Sessions (R-TX) seems to have a bit of a problem. Here's the story.

Pete Sessions has a little Political Action Committee that funds the campaigns of Republicans, in fact in the last three years his PAC has raised more than a million dollars and given away around $800,000. It's a pretty efficient PAC as those things go.

Part of his fund raising activities include a few parties. No problem there, everyone has gone to a political fundraiser and dined on rubber chicken while being asked to write checks. Now comes the fun part.

As one of his fund riasers, Sessions rented a strip club in Las Vegas, Ivan Kane's Forty Deuce. The event apparently was well attended and featured the clubs standard show with lots of strippers and lots of flesh. Sounds like a fun time to me, but to a "family values" kind of guy like Sessions?

Well word of that little bacchanal got out via the radio show "Marketplace" and now Sessions supporters are seriously questioning Pete's street cred as a moral upstanding fellow. In fact the kerfuffle has become so vigorus that Sessions has had to defend himself numerous times.

When asked about the club on radio, Sessions stumbled. "You know, I've never seen that. It is what I would call a burlesque show where there's a woman who comes out and has a dress on... Uh, she never get's naked. There's no nudity, there's no nudity in there."

Oh come on Pete, if there was no nudity and the women never took off their clothes it would be fashion show not a strip show!

Feel free to visit the clubs web site and decide for yourself.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Obama Responds To Sleazy McCains Attack Ads

Karl Rove - Turd Blossum Special

Wonder if Karl will be singing this when he gets hauled in for contempt of Congress?

House Judiciary Committee Holds Karl Rove In Contempt!

The House Judiciary Committee has just voted to hold Karl Rove in contempt of Congress. This may be the first step in bringing the “architect” of the Bush administrations illegal politicization of the government to justice.

More later as it develops.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

New "Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince" Film Trailer!

OK, so I am a Harry Potter fan. Just found this trailer for Harry Poter and the Half Blood Prince. Enjoy!

Our "Culture Of Life" President Approves Another Execution

President Bush talks a lot about a culture of life, yet as governor of Texas he oversaw more executions than any other Governor. Now as President he adds another notch to his belt. Bush has become the first president in 51 years to affirm an execution for a member of the military.

Score another point for that “culture of life”. While we are talking about deaths, anyone still keeping track of US troop deaths in Iraq? Well the tally is up to a staggering 4124, all dead because of a war our “pro-life” president lied to get us into. That ignores the thousands of Iraqi’s who have died either by our actions or those of the civil war that has erupted since our occupation began.

Now before you go writing a flaming comment that the guy who committed those crimes deserved to die, I will admit that former Army cook Ronald Gray was convicted of multiple rapes and murders. My point is that capital punishment has been discarded by most of the industrialized countries of the West. If we are ever to progress as a country and have anything resembling a “culture of life” the death penalty is one of the first things we can abolish. It is an institutionalized murder by the state, and as such it should give pause to anyone concerned about humanity and life.

So I guess in the Bush lexicon, “life” only refers to the unborn. Once out of the womb, the Bush doctrine is pretty clear. Let them starve, fall sick without medical care and receive a substandard education so that in later life those “precious” little ones might turn to crime and be fully discarded through lethal injection.

Next time you hear someone babble about the “culture of life” ask them this question, “what is a human life worth?” If they cannot answer, give them the insurance company’s rate for a single man with no dependents, $8,000. What a bargain!

Bennigan's Restaurants Close Forever

Bennigan's, Steak & Ale, The Tavern restaurants, are closed...for good. Metromedia Restaurant Group said in an e-mail Tuesday that S&A Restaurant Corp. had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. That means the assets of the company will be sold off to satisfy creditors demands.

Looks like quite a few Dallas area food service personnel will be looking for work since the restaurants here all shuttered their doors and will not open in the future. Franchise units may remain open, since they are owned by individual operators and not the S&A Restaurant Corporation.

Military Will Go Gay! - According to Congressional Hearings

OK, so it's satire, but the arguments against gays in the military are ...well "gay".

Republican Senator Ted Stevens Indicted In Corruption Scandal

Senator Ted "Bridge to Nowhere" Stevens has been indicted on federal corruption charges. Indictments charge that Stevens received hundreds of thousands of dollars in unreported gifts from companies doing business in Alaska.

In another corruption investigation Alaska's sole congressman Don Young is also being targeted.

It would seem that in a state as rich in natural resources as Alaska the Republicans just can't be trusted to turn down bribes and illegal gifts from big companies seeking to reap the benefits of those resources.

Beijing Choking On Smog As Olympics Near

Taking a deep breath in Beijing is hazardous to your health. The explosion of economic growth of the Chinese economy has been fueled with fossil fuels and now the air of Beijing is paying the price.

As the Olympic Games near, the smog in the nation's capital is so bad Olympic venues are barely visible through the toxic haze. Emergency measures put in place to temporarily clear the air for the games have failed. The government is proposing that a full 90% of all automobiles (and Beijing as almost 3 million of them) be kept off the streets during the event.

Factories and construction sites also face possible shutdowns as Chinese authorities try to curb the runaway pollution. The environmental watchdog group Greenpeace reported yesterday that the level of small particles in the air is still twice as high in the city as the maximum recommended by the World Health Organization. The BBC reported that its own air-quality tests yesterday at the Olympic Village found the level of small particles was three times higher than the recommended level.

The result of this mess is that several athletes competing in endurance events have opted to skip the games rather than risk their health. The Canadian Team is staying in Singapore and flying in just for the events, then back to Singapore to protect the health of the athletes.

It's a sorry mess to stick the competitors in and more over it is a glaring example of what unregulated growth can bring about. A generation ago, Beijing's air was clear as thousands of bicycles crowded the streets. Today, blue sky is unheard of and respiratory diseases are claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands of residents.

I am beginning to suspect that the economic challenges the US faces from China may be dwarfed by the pollution challenges China faces in it's own cities.

Cuil vs. Google - My Test Run

After hearing about the "cool" new search engine that is challenging Google for search supremacy, I signed on and tried some comparison searched. First I had to get used to the way results are returned and the look itself.

Google is a blank white screen with the logo and search box centered. It was uncluttered and a welcome relief from the flashing banners and mess that Yahoo and others had become before it's arrival. Cuil is a blank black screen with a centered logo and the search box. Not very original but functional.

The results on Google, I have become used to. I have learned to filter out the ones that are paid rankings and keyword ads and can quickly find what I figure will be most relevant to my quest. On Cuil the results come in a series of tables with a paragraph of content from the site itself. To quickly scan the results you have to scroll and personally I find them a bit hard to work with.

Also, Cuil has not yet developed a robust suggestive feature for dyslexic people like myself who misspell words constantly. Here is an example.

I searched for the term "Matachine" on both search engines. Cuil brought up a page of results leading off with "Matachine dances bind generations in tradition." Since I was looking for a history of one of the first gay rights organizations that would be a pretty lame result. Google also topped the list with the same link, but it added a note "Did you mean: mattachine?"

When I clicked Googles suggestion the first entry was a Wikipedia link for the Mattachine Society. A direct hit, albeit after a gentle correction to my misspelling. Nowhere in the Cuil list was that word shown with my spelling.

I am glad to see competition to Google, but Cuil will have to figure a way to streamline it's results to make them easier to scan. The multi-column text boxes are clumsy and do not lend themselves to a quick read.

Additionally, unless they can develop a similar suggestive search technology to Google's, I will stick with the Big G for now.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Knoxville Shooter Read Books by Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage and Sean Hanity.

And now from the "I Knew It" file...the shooter in the Knoxville tragedy was found to have inhis home the following books which he claimed have guided his thought, "Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder" by radio talk show host Michael Savage, "Let Freedom Ring" by talk show host Sean Hannity, and "The O'Reilly Factor," by television talk show host Bill O'Reilly.

Mr. T - Snickers Ad Fails To Chap British Gays

One of the funniest ads to hit TV has been pulled in the US because of a perceived insult to gays. The ad features a speed-walker being assaulted by Mr. T on the back of a pick up truck. The characteristic "swishing" of speed walkers butts apparently is the crux of the problem. The HRC even complained to Mars Candy about the ad. The same ad in the UK got only two minor complaints and a big round of laughs from the gay community. Guess we are humor challenged or have never seen speed-walking before.

Every gay man I have shown the ad to laughed their asses off. Are they going to complain to the Olympic Committee about the swishy speed-walking events in Beijing?

Knoxville Church Assassin Had "Hate Agenda"

The minute I heard about the church shooting in Knoxville I had suspicions it might have been a hate crime and I was right. Jim Adkisson, a 58 year old unemployed man, walked into the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church during a childrens performance of Annie and opened fire with a shotgun. He injured 7 and killed 2 church members before other members subdued him as he tried to reload.

The church was no accident. The Unitarian Universalists have long been known as a liberal church and are strong advocates for social justice in women's issues and gay rights. As a former Unitarian myself I know how passionate the denomination is on social issues. Unfortunately, these good and gentle people became the target of a hatred so deep that it ended in the random murders of members of their congregation.

Adkisson had a "manefesto' in his car as he arrived at the church and he was on a mission. He had planned the crime for over a week. his letter stated that he intended to kill a lot of people and keep killing until police shot him. Luckily he didn't get his wish.

Why did he have the hatred of liberals? I suspect it was programmed into him by hate-radio talk shows and fundamentalist ministers. Both those groups need a bogieman to act as a scapegoat for all the problems of the world. Both those groups have simplistic understandings of how the world works, and therefore need a simple answer to things that don't fit into their warped vision of reality.

As more facts come out I will bet there will be sermons and tapes fond at his house from the likes of Jerry Fallwell and Michael Savage. Tiime will tell.

In the meantime, we need take extra care to avoid another tragedy like this. Unfortunately, it means being on-guard and aware of our situations at all times. As a member of a liberal church, the United Church of Christ, I have seen the threats leveled at us and our congregations, but it will not dissuade us from our mission of carrying God's word and grace to everyone. I pray for the families of the members of the Knoxville church and for Jim Adkisson as well. Perhaps he was so angry and filled with hate because enough people didn't show the unconditional grace God had extended to him. Perhaps he was just too focused on finding a scapegoat for his troubles that he never asked for help.