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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

BUSH FLIP FLOPS ON TWAT

I wonder who in the press will jump on Bush's back for flip flopping about TWAT (The War Against Terror). Here's an excerpt from an AP article over at My Way News:
In an interview on NBC-TV's "Today" show, Bush vowed to stay the course in the war on terror, saying perseverance in the battle would make the world safer for future generations. But he suggested an all-out victory against terrorism might not be possible.

Asked "Can we win?" Bush said, "I don't think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that the - those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world."

Now, this is an excerpt from a Reuters article that was posted the very next day:
Bush used a speech to the American Legion, the nation's largest veterans group, to fight back against the Kerry team's charge that he was taking a defeatist stance.

"We meet today in a time of war for our country, a war we did not start, but one that we will win," Bush told the group.

"It's a different type of war. We may never sit down at a peace table, but make no mistake about it, we are winning and we will win," he added.

Now, it's time for the Reps to be honest. Their man FLIP FLOPPED.

Hell, I agreed with his first comment, there will be no winning TWAT, but the second statement? Is he on drugs? (OH yeah, he IS.) How would we even know that "we won?" All militant Muslims in a grave somewhere? All people who disagree with the USGov dead?

Oh and by the way, the part where King George says "we didn't start the war" is funny. Why? Because that's just what Al Qaeda says.

Read the article featuring Bush 43 being somewhat reasonable at My Way News.

Head over to Reuters to read their article on Bush getting off his meds--I mean, changing his mind about losing TWAT.

TOYS COMMEMORATING 911??







How the hell did these get made?

911toyjet (11k image)

911toyosama (9k image)
Photo credits: WFTV.com


To be perfectly honest, they actually look like they've had a shocking amount of thought put into them. If you look at the base of both toys, it looks like a coffin. And what's really hard is trying to nail down the point the designer of this toy was trying to make. I suppose the plane toy is easier because the plane looks like a big wacky cartoony plane, but the Osama toy--that looks like an anatomically incorrect Osama cheering like Rocky, naked in between the two towers as if to say "Hey! I'm dickless and I knocked down these towers!"

In case you're curious about the real story behind these toys, it's a bit of a mystery actually. Everyone is passing the buck until one company actually says "we don't think they're offensive." I guess we know who needs a brain enema.

Still, there's something oddly fascinating to me about them. I don't think I'm being morbid, I'm not sure what I'm being. Although I do know one thing, I'm curious what the hell anyone was thinking actually producing these things.

Read about the original plane toy's discovery at WFTV.com.

Read about the company that sold the toys and their defense of this action again at the WFTV.com site.

Read about the discover of the Osama toy, also at WFTV.com.

AMERICA SINKS, WORLD RISES ON BUSH'S WATCH

Here's a double edged sword for you. One from Albany, New York's Times Union talking about how America is sinking in many ways. Here's an excerpt:
Here are the numbers, a sober and powerful counter-argument to any declaration that the recession is long over and good times are back for everyone. Poverty is up in the United States for the third consecutive year, the Census Bureau says, with 40 million people now afflicted. Median household income is stagnant at a little more than $43,000 a year. That, after three years of decline and still lower than it was in 1999. And the number of Americans without medical insurance is up, too, as it has been each year since 2001, to 45 million.

Dreary numbers under any circumstances. Only now they come close to the height of the presidential campaign. They carry a significance that should rival what President Bush had to say the same day of the Census Bureau report, that he miscalculated what Iraq would be like after a U.S.-led invasion.

"Because we acted, our economy since last summer has grown at a rate as fast as any in nearly 20 years," Mr. Bush said Thursday. "Since last August, we've added approximately 1.5 million new jobs."

What he didn't say, of course, is that there are fewer jobs, and fewer people working, now than when he took office.

But don't worry, all you Bushites out there! There is good news from "peace researchers" in an AP article posted over at Yahoo News. Here's an excerpt:
The chilling sights and sounds of war fill newspapers and television screens worldwide, but war itself is in decline, peace researchers report.

In fact, the number killed in battle has fallen to its lowest point in the post-World War II period, dipping below 20,000 a year by one measure. Peacemaking missions, meantime, are growing in number.

"International engagement is blossoming," said American scholar Monty G. Marshall. "There's been an enormous amount of activity to try to end these conflicts."

For months the battle reports and casualty tolls from Iraq (news - web sites) and Afghanistan (news - web sites) have put war in the headlines, but Swedish and Canadian non-governmental groups tracking armed conflict globally find a general decline in numbers from peaks in the 1990s.

The authoritative Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in a 2004 Yearbook report obtained by The Associated Press in advance of publication, says 19 major armed conflicts were under way worldwide in 2003, a sharp drop from 33 wars counted in 1991.

Hm, who was in the White House in 1991? Give that guy's son another term and we'll see if those numbers stay as low.

Read more about Bush's domestic problems at the Times Union website.

Read more about peace breaking out around the world over at Yahoo News.

RICHARD REEVES SEZ: BUSH 43 INCOMPETENT

Wow, commentator Richard Reeves must be one of them left-wing, liberal nutbags, because he's got it in for Bush 43!! I know that he's one of them artsy-fartsy, bleeding-heart liberal gun-control types because he uses... uh, whut are those thangs called? Oh yeah FACTS to mount an argument against the Almighty, Himself, George W. Bush.

Check out just three of the ten reasons this leftie gives for Bush needing to be out of office:
(5) He is diminishing the military of which he is so proud now as commander in chief. The invasion and occupation of Iraq (news - web sites) have obviously not worked out the way he imagined -- naked torture was not the goal. But the far greater problem for the future is that our proud commander has revealed the hollowness behind the unilateral superpower. From the top down, we have not been able to win Iraq, much less the world. And going into Iraq has compromised or crippled the war on terror he declared himself.

(6) He is diminishing scientific progress, the great engine of the 20th century. Only the truly ignorant can believe that the proper role of government is to hinder medical research and environmental study in the name of God.

(7) He is diminishing the Constitution of the United States. Cheesy tricks like amending the great text of freedom to attack homosexuality can be dismissed as wedge politics. But it is worse to preach against an activist judiciary while appointing more activist judges who happen to hold different beliefs, particularly the idea that civil liberties are the enemies of patriotism, security and freedom itself.
That bastard and his facts!!

Stop by his column at Yahoo News to read the rest of his facts. Huh-huh, "Yahoo," I luv that name!

ADDICTION TO REDACTION

You may remember this story I posted about how the Justice Department is redacting crap where there ain't no crap! In other words, they were classifying things that had nothing to do with national security but were things they just didn't like. TheMemoryHole.org has more on this. Here's an excerpt from an AP article quoted by the article at TMH:
Some classifications were made in error or to save face.

The CIA deleted the amount Iraqi agents paid for aluminum tubes from page 96 of a Senate report on prewar intelligence. The report quoted the CIA as concluding, "Their willingness to pay such costs suggests the tubes are intended for a special project of national interest."

That price turned out to be not so high. On page 105 of the same Senate report, the same security reviewers let CIA's figure — up to $17.50 each — be printed twice, along with other estimates that the Iraqis paid as little as $10 apiece.

"There are too many secrets" and maybe too many secret-makers, said Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., chairman of the Government Reform Committee's national security panel. There are 3,978 officials who can stamp a document "top secret," "secret" or "confidential" under multiple sets of complex rules.
More lies from the Bush 43 admin! You know what that means, more things for Bush Voters to ignore!! :laugh:

Read more about this at TheMemoryHole.org.

OSHA FORCED TO LIST MOST DANGEROUS COMPANIES

Want to know where NOT to work? OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has just released a list of companies and the injury rates of said companies. OSHA initially tried to only list the companies names (fat lot of good to know that there was at least one injury at IBM in 2003) because they said injury rates could be used by each company's competition. Well, a Federal Judge had to rule to get them to release injury rates as well, and they have.

Check out the list over at TheMemoryHole.org Scroll down to get to the link to the file. (It's a HUGE 4.3 mbs!) Also, read more about it all there--that site is a great site in general.

For a taste, Coca-Cola has about thirty companies listed and no less than 2000 people were injured at each company.

I'd give you more, but the damn thing is taking forever to load. I'd DL it locally if I were you. It's so huge, you really want to have it on your hard drive for much easier access.

PLANE SUICIDE BOMBED IN NOVEMBER, 2001?

I don't know if anyone else remembers the crash of American Airlines flight 587, but I do. It was November of 2001. I was in NoCal for my dad's third wedding and was frustrated that this plane had crashed in Queens, NY and I couldn't get a decent 'net connection to find out more. So, I spent the morning on the phone with friends and family who could check out the websites I couldn't. The crash happened so close to 911, just two months (almost to the day) later. My theory all along has been that if terrorists expect terror to work, they'll have to commit more terror-ific acts. Another suicide bombed plane made sense. However, the news that day and since then has said that it was simply an accident. I remember, in the days that followed, watching the news and hearing someone who saw the crash claim they had seen an explosion on the plane before it began to dive. It made me wonder, but I soon forgot all about it.

Then, nearly three years later, comes a National Post article that reports that agents from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) interogated a known Al Qaeda operative who had told them a member of Al Qaeda who had been rejected from the 911 team had carried a bomb aboard that very flight, back in November of 2001.

Why does this make any difference at all? To be honest, I'm not sure. But if I had lost family or friends in that plane crash, I'd much prefer to know why they had died.

Read the National Post article at Canada.com.

Read CNN.com's original coverage of the crash at CNN.com.

Monday, August 30, 2004

MAN GROWS OWN JAW BONE--AGAIN

Man, this is one for the Bizarro files. (What isn't these days?) So, this guy gets cancer in his jaw and they have to surgically remove his jaw bone and a chunk of his tongue. After a while of dealing with life missing some major parts of his face, the guy started to get depressed and demanded that his doctor do something about his situation. (I can't believe it took the poor guy demanding it--like life without a jaw bone would be acceptable???) His doctor, along with some other doctors, decided to try a little experiment. Here's an excerpt from a CNN.com article covering the story (Warnke is the poor guy's doctor):
"He demanded reconstruction,'' Warnke said. "This patient was really sick of living.''

Warnke and his group began by creating a virtual jaw on a computer, after making a three-dimensional scan of the patient's mouth.

The information was used to create a thin titanium micro-mesh cage. Several cow-derived pure bone mineral blocks the size of sugar lumps where then put inside the structure, along with a human growth factor that builds bone and a large squirt of blood extracted from the man's bone marrow, which contains stem cells.

The surgeons then implanted the mesh cage and its contents into the muscle below the patient's right shoulder blade. He was given no drugs, other than routine antibiotics to prevent infection from the surgery.

The implant was left in for seven weeks, when scans showed new bone formation. It was removed about eight weeks ago, along with some surrounding muscle and blood vessels, put in the man's mouth and connected to the blood vessels in his neck.

Scans showed new bone continued to form after the transplant.

Four weeks after the operation, the man ate a German sausage sandwich, his first real meal in nine years. He eats steak now, but complains to his doctor that because he has no teeth he has to cut it into such small pieces that by the time he gets to the end of the steak, it's cold.
MAN!! The NERVE of some people!! Doctors grow him another jaw bone and he wants TEETH, TOO!! WHAT A BASTARD!!

Read more about this disturbing, yet cool, story in an AP article over at CNN.com

TINY CHIP DECIDES LIES

Check it out, apparently we humans are so trusting of our technology that some of us are willing to let a tiny chip decide who is lying and who isn't. Here's an excerpt from an article at WorldTribune.com:
The system uses a miniature computer chip that can provide voice analysis of those responding to questions from screeners at airports. Executives said the technology which they termed Poly-Layered Voice Analysis, measured voice for such traits as deception, excitement, stress, concentration, hesitation, anger, love and lust.

The chip can be inserted in an eyeglass frame and allow screeners to determine with 98 percent accuracy whether a suspicious traveler has intentions to launch an attack during flight, Middle East Newsline reported.
WOW!! Who knows the what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Forget The Shadow, it's a tiny computer chip!!

Apparently, it can read your mind!!

It knows the difference between you wanting to blow up a passenger liner and you having a crappy day!!

COOL! This thing works better than GOD!!

AWESOME!!

/SARCASM

What the hell?? We're now letting tiny chips tell us when someone is lying? Uh, guys, there are people who can beat polygraphs, how is a chip in a pair of eyeglasses going to avoid being faked out by someone who is just really calm? Could these deviously evil people King George is always going on about be so deviously evil as to be completely cool during a security check at an airport?

How about this: If the airport screeners get to use one, I think every American citizen should get a pair of these glasses, too, so we can wear them during Presidential and Vice-Presidential speeches.

I think that's fair, don't you?

Head over to WorldTribune.com to read more about this insidious, absurd technology that is sure to cause more prolbems than it solves.

GREENSPAN YANKS SOCIAL SECURITY BLANKET

Well, after years of telling the USGov that it can just keep borrowing money from the FR$ with no real consequences to speak of (aside from a towering debt), Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has said that when the baby boomers retire, a goodly chunk of the bennies they've been promised won't be there. He goes on to say that the USGov needs to promise what it can deliver. Funny how the national debt is over $7 trillion and he doesn't bother advising the USGov to stop borrowing. When is it ever going to get paid off, anyway? And since the USGov is so lousy at paying of its debts, does that mean I can follow their example and not pay off mine? What about the rest of America? Since the USGov often looks at the American people as children, shouldn't the USGov be setting a better example for us?

Read more about the problems with Social Security at My Way News.

Learn about the national debt at Brillig.com.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH COSTS TIME AND EFFORT

Think your freedom of speech is alive and well?

It's alive, but not well.

These days, if you say something that someone disagrees with, they can make up something and sue you for it. Take Al Franken's book "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right." Bill O'Reilly of Fox News decided that they should sue him for copyright infringement. Luckily, Al Franken can afford a court case. Some people can't. Take the New York branch of IndyMedia.org. They're a group that is generally anti-Bush who posted the names of thousands of RNC delegates and other information about them. Naturally, the Secret Service decides these people could be hackers or identity thieves. So, they ask not IndyMedia, but their NYC-based web hosting provider, for subscriber info, billing records, and contact info for the nyc.IndyMedia.org site.

Now, just who is the suspected identity thief?

Anyway, so the web host turned down the request and of course, they subpoena the web host. Only this time, the excuse--er, reason given for the subpoena is that they are investigating possible attempts at voter intimidation.

Now THAT'S rich. Like there's any actual voting going on at the RNC! Come on!! Was the Secret Service investigating possible cases of voter intimidation in Florida back in 2000? Of course, in Florida, it was about black people not getting to vote. As we all know, Republicans are mostly white folks and again, it's not like there is any doubt how they'll vote. This is just childish government trying to play Big Brother. The New York Times article I got most of this information from even mentions how police are looking for any information on violent demonstrations that have been planned for the convention.

These IDIOTS just don't get it, do they?

The people who are protesting are AGAINST THE WAR. Why would they start one here at home??

The level at which the USGov distrusts the people of the United States (well, the outspoke ones) is disturbingly high despite the fact that there has been virtually no violence aimed at the USGov by domestic protestors. They must be really concerned that what they are doing is something for us to be way pissed at.

Incidentally, according to one staff member of NYC Indy Media, the delegate information is available to the public if you know where to look.

So, remember that even if what you are saying is true and even public information, if someone doesn't like it, they can come up with some paranoid reason as to why you need to be silenced and it can cost you time, effort and possibily even money to defend yourself.

Can it really be considered "free speech" when it costs so damn much to defend yourself?

And don't forget, obscenities are NOT covered in the freedom of speech.

Check out the New York Times coverage of this story over at their website.

Read IndyMedia's own coverage of this story at their website.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Time... machine... PLEASE!!!

Seriously, if anyone has a time machine they could loan me, I'd REALLY appreciate it. I just don't have the time I need to get everything I need done. Just to get an idea of how I am feeling right now, check out the picture below.









You SURE you don't have a time machine?

Maybe someone you know has a time machine I could borrow? I promise, I'll give it back! I just need it for a few days. :rolleyes:

Saturday, August 28, 2004

BOB ROBERTS (1992)

Entertaining? Hell yeah, disturbing, too.
Technically any good? Obviously, this is not a "balanced" film in the traditional sense. However, if you're not a hardcore Republican, you'll most likely enjoy this film. It was very well researched and best of all, funny. In fact, it's also a very prophetic film. Now is a great time to go rent this one and check it out.
How did I feel as the credits rolled? A little creeped out. Back when I saw this movie in theaters in 1992, I remember wondering if it was as bad as the film portrayed. Back in 1992, I had no easy way to research it all. Well, I've researched it all in the last few years and... well, it's creepily accurate.
Final Rating? GSN (but only if you're not a Republican--you'll just be offended and annoyed with this film if you are.)

Busy/fun/busy/fun/busy/busy/busy

Busy, busy, that's me! Been working on Volume 4 of TheKey, trying to find time to draw and edit the comic and a couple of scripts, too. BUSY. Then there's the dayjob which is quickly becoming a pain in my ass. I shouldn't write too much about this in my blog because they have this web address. Suffice it to say that my job duties have grown and I haven't gotten a raise or extra support from them, in fact, I've gotten less of the latter. :D

Isn't it fun working for a company?

They love to take advantage... sigh...

Anyway, so this weekend I'm trapped working on work I've already done, because they don't like it. It's funny, every job I've ever had as a writer, I've gotten paid for writing something and paid again for re-writing stuff. Not this job. They don't like it, they don't pay you. I spend a week trying to make boring stuff interesting and it's not good enough. So, I don't get paid for that work.

This is why I haven't been updating the site very much. It's also why I'm *still* working on the comic, those two scripts and so on. Blah... I really just want to win the lottery. :laugh:

I did force myself to take some time off last night to see a midnight show of BOB ROBERTS at the NuArt. Damn good movie. Go rent it if you feel like seeing a film that amounts to a documentary on American politics. 12 years ago, I would have described it as a political satire. Check it out--it's particularly appropriate in today's political climate.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

JUSTICE DEPT REMOVING WRONG SPEECH

Well, I hate to sound like a tinfoil hat-wearer because it'll make me think that you won't believe me when I tell you that the USGov is acting like the government in the novel 1984. I know you'll think I'm the typical conspiracy guy over-reacting and that it's still a free country and you'd be right. In a lot of ways, American citizens are free. However, when Bush 43 joked about his job being easier if he was the dictator of America, I'm becoming less and less sure that it was a joke. After all, any reasonable person just needs to look at all of the secrecy, classifications and so on that the USGov is invoking these days. Sibel Edmonds uncovered rampant corruption that if made public, she says, would cause political careers to be ruined. Ashcroft gagged her and everyone involved in the case. We'll never know the truth. This is just one example. There are more, some for reasons that have zip to do with National Security. Take the example TheMemoryHole.Org has recently posted. Recently some redactions the Justice Department wanted to make to of all things a Supreme Court ruling were struck down by the courts. Luckily for us, they had already redacted the rulings before the the courts ruled against them, allowing us to have a before and after look at exactly what the Justice Department wanted to keep from the American people.

"The danger to political dissent is acute where the Government attempts to act under so vague a concept as the power to protect 'domestic security.' Given the difficulty of defining the domestic security interest, the danger of abuse in acting to protect that interest becomes apparent."
Does that look like it jeopardizes national security?

Of course, not.

What it does threaten is the right to dissent. Dissent is a direct, if subtle, threat to the government, itself.

In my book when you defend something, you must think it needs defending. Ashcroft and company must think what they are doing needs defending. Why might they think that? What are they doing that might be wrong?

Oh yeah, trying to censor what they don't like. I haven't read 1984 in twenty years, so, I'm not sure if the phrase "wrongspeech" was used in it, but if it wasn't, it sure should be now.

Read about this story for yourself over at the great site, TheMemoryHole.Org.

UN SEZ: NOT ENOUGH CLEAN WATER

According to a BBC News article at their website, a UN report has just announced that roughly 1 sixth of the world's population does not have access to clean water. Just in case you didn't know, there are more than six billion people in the world. The UN report also talks about how proper sanitation (how we get rid of our doody and pee) is absent in roughly 40% of the world's population. Here are some fun facts from the BBC News article:
And while the world is on target to meet the clean drinking water goals, population growth will probably outstrip the improvements.

This would leave 800 million people drinking unsafe water in 2015.

The report also says:

* 1.8m people die each year from diarrhoeal disease
* Over 40 billion work hours are lost in Africa to the need to fetch drinking water
* There has been progress - an estimated 1.1bn people now have better access to water than 12 years ago.
Progress is nice, but with all the money Americans (and, in particular, RICH Americans) have, can't we agree to make a little less every year and spread that wealth around a bit?

One company that is at least trying to help this problem is Ethos Brands, LLC. Here's what they say on their website:
As Ethos™ generates profits, the company will aim to direct at least 50% of profits, after taxes, toward water projects. We will seek to increase this percentage over time.

Profits from Ethos™ are directed to Ethos International, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization established by the company’s founders to serve as a clearinghouse for funding water projects through select partner organizations worldwide. Ethos International will be funded from several sources: profits from Ethos™, and direct contributions from the public, foundations, and other corporations.
Sounds pretty good to me. As a matter of fact, I drink a lot of Ethos, myself--mind you, I don't get any kick backs, but if you happen to buy Ethos from Boba Loca in Westwood village, you will be helping a friend of mine stay in business. :)

So, it's nice to see that someone in America is taking at least a little initiative to help fight against what the UN calls a "silent crisis." Water will become a larger and larger concern in the coming years and decades. Stay on top of this story and who knows? Maybe you might come up with a solution.

A good place to start learning about the future problems the world faces regarding water is a page at the BBC website. It features a lot of articles, debates and more.

Check out the BBC News article quoted above.

Visit the Ethos Water website.

Oh and by the way, only 2.5% of the Earth's water supply is "fresh" or drinkable. The US Geological Survey website says that it costs $1,000 per acre-foot to desalinate seawater. An acre-foot works out to about 326,000 gallons of water. That works out to $1/326 gallons of water. That may not seem like much until you consider that, according to the USGS website, fresh water only costs $200 per acre-foot. That works out to just $1/1630 gallons.

12% OF AMERICAN'S BELOW THE POVERTY LINE

Wow, for the richest country in the world, we sure have a lot of po' folks! Reuters posted an article over at their website about how nearly 36 million Americans are now making less than $9,573 a year if they're an individual and less than $18,660 if they are a family of four with two kids. So, next time you're fueling up your Hummer, or gorging yourself on Hot Pockets, try to feel just a little guilty. You don't have to actually bother to give money to charities that help the homeless or anything, but just so long as you feel a little guilty, I think that's a great start.

I mean, these people are your countrymen. If you're truly patriotic, you'd care about them, too.

Just be glad I didn't bring up world poverty statistics. Then you'd feel really guilty!!

Read about poverty in America at the Reuters website.

Check out the US Census website.

Here's an interesting fact from the censor bureau, it turns out the poverty level in the US has gone up for the last three years. Hm... who entered the White House three years ago?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

ALIENS Vs. PREDATOR (2004)

AVP - Alien Vs. Predator (Widescreen Edition)Entertaining? Yes, but more in line with the last two Alien movies. In other words, not as good as the first two Alien movies or the first two Predator movies.
Technically any good? Not really. The film was rushed, the score while decent was not by Alan Silvestri (A PREDATOR movie without him composing??) and the acting passable. The script took many shortcuts, had many cumbersome and useless elements and boiled down to an excuse to get Aliens and Predators to fight. Very weak. However, the film did surprise me with decent acting from the lead female character and some somewhat interesting action-scene-moments.
How did I feel as the credits rolled? More satisfied than I expected to be. This film does entertain but will not go down in the anals of film history as being anything but on the level of a big dumb movie. Still, I was impressed to see a minority female actress get to kick as much ass as this film let its lead get away with. It is films like this one that will allow women to eventually take a more prominent place in action movies. (This is a move that most American film-goers don't care to see happen, witness the TOMB RAIDER films crappy box office despite them both being better films than this one.)
Final Rating? SAM (To be fair, this movie would be even more lame if for a first viewing you saw it on a TV set.)

BEA ARTHUR STICKS IT TO THE MAN!

Hey, check it out, IMDB, of all places, is reporting how GOLDEN GIRLS and MAUDE actor Bea Arthur gave airport security officials a hassle recently:

Golden Girl Causes Terrorist Scare in Boston

Golden Girls star Bea Arthur sparked a security scare at Boston's Logan International Airport earlier this week when she tried to board a flight with a pocketknife in her handbag. The actress, 81, was about to board a Cape Air flight when a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent discovered the offensive article in her belongings, which is strictly forbidden on airplanes since the September 11th attacks. A fellow passenger says, "She started yelling that it wasn't hers and said 'The terrorists put it there'. She kept yelling about the 'terrorists, the terrorists, the terrorists'." After the knife was confiscated by TSA officials, the funnywoman pulled out a key ring from her bag and told the agent it belonged to the "terrorists", before throwing it at them. As she boarded the plane, the Emmy-winning star told the TSA employees, "We're all doomed." A spokeswoman for Cape Air says, "Miss Arthur was cracking jokes and was a real character."
Well, at least she's using the fact that she's clearly NOT a terrorist to her advantage. If only we could all crack such jokes without being detained and questioned.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

BIRTH OF A TECHNO GOD

WOW! I'M A MUSICIAN NOW!

Check it out, Apple's GARAGE BAND software package came with my new PowerBook and I sat down tonight with my groupie (TheFiancee) and wrote and recorded my first song!! COOL! What's even better is, thanks to the Internet, I ALREADY HAVE A DISTRIBUTION DEAL--FROM ME!! So, check it out, folks! It's my first bitchin' techno track--oh wait! I have to introduce myself. I can't just go by my name "ThePete," I have to have some cool "BAND" name, you know, like Trent Reznor can't just be "Trent Reznor," he has to be "Nine Inch Nails," even though, like, he's the only guy in the band. Anyway, so, my band name is going to be "THEREZNORTRENTZ!"

Just like that, you have to say it all fast, like that. "THEREZNORTRENTZ!" I'm sure I'll change it a couple dozen times, but for now, that's my band name!! So, here it is! THE FIRST SINGLE FROM THEREZNORTRENTZ!, "BIRTH OF A TECHNO GOD"!!






Okay, so it's a sucky first song, but you have to admit, it's better than the tracks most rappers have backing them up!!

BUSH VIETNAM RECORD STILL A MYSTERY

So, Kerry is taking all this heat for lying about his time in Vietnam. One thing is clear, however, Kerry was IN Vietnam. Bush 43, however, can't account for his whereabouts between 1972 & 1973, or rather, he refuses to. In a surprisingly liberal-minded article, the USA Today points out some specific mysteries that still linger regarding Bush 43 and his record during the years when thousands of people who didn't have George HW Bush as a dad, died in country. Here are those points:
• Why did Bush, described by some of his fellow officers as a talented and enthusiastic pilot, stop flying fighter jets in the spring of 1972 and fail to take an annual physical exam required of all pilots?

• What explains the apparent gap in the president's Guard service in 1972-73, a period when commanders in Texas and Alabama say they never saw him report for duty and records show no pay to Bush when he was supposed to be on duty in Alabama?

• Did Bush receive preferential treatment in getting into the Guard and securing a coveted pilot slot despite poor qualifying scores and arrests, but no convictions, for stealing a Christmas wreath and rowdiness at a football game during his college years?
Anyone know why, once again, Bush 43 is lying to us by releasing hundreds of documents, none of which answer any questions? (Remember, we're going by that 2nd definition of a "lie".) He's essentially hoping that by releasing loads of useless information, people will think the truth must be in there some place. More deceit from the Bush 43 Admin. Yay! :crazy:

Check out the USA Today article referenced above.

Why is the USGov Lying So Much?

Why is the USGov lying so much? By "lying" I don't necessarily mean the exact definition, well, hang on for a sec, let's look at the definition according to the American Heritage dictionary:
lie (l) n.
1. A false statement deliberately presented as being true; a falsehood.
2. Something meant to deceive or give a wrong impression.
Well, what do ya know?? I DO mean the exact definition!

OK, let's go by the second definition of the word "lie" according to the American Heritage dictionary. "Something meant to deceive or give a wrong impression." Of the top of my head, I'll list a few examples of the Bush 43 Admin's lies, according to that second definition:

1) The Bush 43 Admin's has suggested repeatedly that Saddam was supporting terrorists. No evidence has ever been found. (One meeting between an Iraqi and an Al Qaeda does not count as support.)

2) Colin "Don't Call me Uncle Tom" Powell produced pictures before the war of things that he told the UN were mobile chemical weapons labs but in reality were old, unused trucks that could have been used for any number of things.

3) Initially, we were told USGIs who tortured those Iraqi prisoners were just a few bad apples. Turns out there were people higher up that gave them orders. (Of course, those who follow such orders are just as to blame as the people giving them, the point is, higher-ups were responsible, too.)

4) The Bush 43 Admin produced fake news broadcasts and issued them to news shows around the US, telling them to run the clips as though they were real.

5) Bush said that former CIA head George Tennet was doing a terrific job. Is that why 911 happened?

6) Rumsfeld has been publically called by Bush 43 a great Sec of Defense, despite the fact that Abu Ghraib happened on his watch.

7) The USMil banned photography of coffins containing remains of USGIs coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan.

8) Rumsfeld and company assured us that military strikes in Iraq were being done humanely, despite the continued use of depleted uranium in shells, rockets, missiles and bullets. Oh yeah and 10,000 Iraqi civilians dead.

These are just off the top of my head. I did no extra research for this essay. These are all things that happened and these are all things that technically fall under the second definition of what a lie is.

Hell, I could even add every single terrorist alert to that list because we are meant to believe that we are ALL threatened directly by Al Qaeda despite the fact that there is just no way they could kill ALL of us. In FAHRENHEIT 911, Michael Moore shows us comments from people who live outside of Flint, Michigan being concerned that they could get hit by Al Qaeda.

There's also the idea that all the terrorists in the world suicide bombing the US would somehow make the US go away. That's a very misleading statement. Yet, that seems to be what we're all being programmed to think. The USGov wages wars against countries to stop some pissy little terrorists from killing a few thousand of us.

This is the cost of freedom, folks.

We live free. We're easier targets, but we live free.

We used to live free, now if you boo Bush at a political rally, you could get fired or investigated. Nowadays, if you speak out against the Patriot Act, you're called unpatriotic (instead of simply "against the Patriot Act"). All this deceit by the USGov is making us lose some of our basic freedoms and most of us are okay with that.

We're being lied to left and right, yet no one is freaking out.

When Clinton lied under oath about a blow job he was impeached.

When Bush lied about WMD in Iraq, he was applauded as a great leader.

The 911 Commission released it's big report and yet, people have already been able to find blatant contradictions in the first chapter! So, even the people who are supposed to find the truth are being deceitful and doing what amounts to lying. The whole report is supposed to make us feel better and that things are being done to change the holes terrorists lept through on 911. The catch is, those holes can't be fully filled. While there are (and were on 911) mechanisms in place to shoot down hijacked airliners, there is nothing that can stop every last terrorist from hating us, sneaking past our security and making further attempts to kill handfuls of our citizens.

Oh wait, there is something that has a reasonable chance of doing that... but the USGov would have to stop meddling in other countries' affairs. :rolleyes:

I could add a few more lies to the list if I were to consider the lies the USGov has told other countries.

Something to think about the next time you turn on the news, or read the paper, or otherwise hear something the USGov would like you to believe.

Monday, August 23, 2004

LEARN ABOUT THE WORD "WOMAN"

Ever wonder about the origins of the word "WOMAN"?

Go here to read all about it!


Special thanks to my friend Becks for digging that link up for me!

And here I thought Women came from "womb+man=wom(b)man." :laugh:

Saturday, August 21, 2004

CHAVEZ WINS AGAIN

Well, hopefully this will end things:
Venezuela's electoral authorities say an audit of the vote on President Hugo Chavez's rule found no proof of fraud.

"The results of the audit were very positive... allowing us to turn the page," said National Electoral Council director Jorge Rodriguez.

Mr Chavez won 59% of the vote in the 15 August poll, sparking claims of vote-rigging from the opposition, who refused to take part in the review.

It is the third time that international observers have endorsed the result.
This won't end things, but you never know.

Read more about the audit at the BBC News website.

Read more about the Venezuela recall vote here or here at ThePete.Com.

TASER USED ON 66 YEAR-OLD GRANDMOTHER

Wow, can you believe there are cops that would use a taser (a weapon capable of sending 50,000 volts through a person) on a 66 year-old grandmother? All I can say is that I'm glad they have tasers or else this idiot would have used a gun on this woman. Why was this woman in the crosshairs of police officers? Seems she honked at a police car. When she was upset that they were giving a ticket to her for "misuse of a car horn." Then two guys with guns are so afraid of this 60+ old lady that they need to use a 50,000 volt-weapon to stop her.

Read more about this in an AP article at Yahoo News.

Friday, August 20, 2004

MORE VENEZUELAN RECALL FUN

Well, there's a big fat dispute now going on in Venezuela because some exit polling company said that the recall would go through with 59% of Venezuela's citizens voting yes to the recall. The catch is, it was the opposite. Oops.

So, now Chavez' opposition is crying fowl, saying that because the exit polls were so off, the election must have been rigged.

Of course, they don't feel that perhaps the exit polling was wrong.

This is yet another case of the "Who Do You Believe?" game.

OH yeah and the exit poll firm? It's American and partially funded by a group partially funded by the USGov. Follow the money and you end up at the Bush 43 Admin. Big surprise.

Read more about it in an AP article over at Yahoo News.

EVERYBODY LOVES BOYKIN, EXCEPT MUSLIMS (& OTHER REASONABLE PEOPLE)

U.S. General Violated Rules with 'Satan' Speeches
A U.S. Army general violated Pentagon rules by failing to properly clear speeches in which he described the war on terror as a Christian battle against Satan and should be punished, according to an inspector general's report obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.
Wow, that's probably a good thing, I would think!

Too bad they can't punish Bush for doing the same thing after 911. I love how childish, shallow and blind we are to the fact that true evil doesn't exist. We humans cling to any excuse to hate, discriminate and destroy as if any reason is acceptable.

Actually, I think hate can be a good thing, but only when you're mature enough to hate the right people for the right reasons.

Seriously, are Muslims really evil? Or are they just different? Are extremist Muslims evil? Or are they just feeling the same way about us as our military feels about them?

Seems to me that both sides of TWAT (The War Against Terror) can agree how they feel. The only catch is, each side feels it about the other side for nearly the exact same reason.

Who's right?

The answer is obvious... neither of them.

Read more about Boykin in the Reuters article quoted above at the My Way News website.

I HOPE you don't think your life is tough...

Well, if you think your life is bad, think again, BIG TIME. By big, I mean 478 pounds, big. Read this article at PalmBeachPost.com and marvel at the fact that we humans would allow a person to live in that kind of state.

Here's an excerpt to whet your appetite (or turn your stomach):
Grinds had been lying on a dirty burgundy-and-gray fabric couch in her living room for most of the past six years when family members called 911 late on Aug. 10 to report that Grinds was having difficulty breathing. Unwashed for months, lying in her own excrement, couch fabric intertwined with the skin of her back, Grinds screamed in pain when the rescuers, clad in protective gear, tried to lift her.
Originally, I had read that doctors tried to remove her from the couch once they got her to a hospital and then she died due to the operation. This article says she died, presumably of Asthma, before they even had a chance to operate. Every family member made excuses as to why this woman was allowed to live in her own excrement. They claim they didn't know things were that bad. Her sister even commented that Grinds was a full grown woman (that's putting it mildly!) and that she lived her own life and made her own decisions.

The last time I checked, suicide was still illegal. Now, I'm for assisted suicide, but I don't think this woman was helped to live in the first place. If you need any more evidence, here's another excerpt:
The stench of stale urine and feces still emanated from the home two days after Grinds died, reaching the street 90 feet away, and at least two adjacent properties. Scrawny cats jumped in and out of the house through a broken floor-level window.

When the fire-rescue crew arrived at the house, they found a sparsely furnished home with no air conditioning and letters piled on a table with cockroaches eating their way through the envelopes. Around the space where Grinds' couch had been, they saw dozens of empty Publix soda cans strewn on the floor. Empty bags of Doritos, Ruffles chips, an ice-cream cone wrapper and rotting, maggot-infested oranges had been thrown on the floor among unwashed pants, T-shirts and underwear.
This has got to be on the top 100 reasons aliens don't visit us. We let an entire human being slip through the cracks of life. This is amazing both literally and figuratively considering just how huge a crack she would need to slip through.

We are culture jammed when we don't visit loved ones for five years. We are culture jammed when we make excuses for why we let a person live with the kind of depression she lived with for so long.

RIGHT WING, LEFT WING OR JUST LAZY MEDIA?

Wow, back on August 16, 2004, the Washington Times (which I believe is owned by Sum Myung Moon) posted a story on their website reporting on how Sadam (Saddam?) secretly replaced Syrian border guards and replaced them with Iraqi spies. The theory, the article says is that this strongly suggests that this allowed Sadam to move illegal weapons across the border. If this is true, then why hasn't the rest of the media picked this story up and run with it? Some Righties would say that this is proof that there is a left wing media. That this is a legitimate news story and yet the media has not picked up on it. Now, Lefties would say that the reason the mainstream media hasn't picked up on it is because there is nothing to the story. In fact, Lefties could argue that this is proof of the Washington Times being a right wing paper.

An independent, like myself, could argue that the media is simply lazy and is too stricken with ADD to bother doing any in-depth reporting on this or any other story.

What's the truth?

Who the hell knows what truth is these days?

At this point, I don't know who to trust about a damn thing. I don't trust the government or the media to get anything right.

VIVA LA BLOGGERS!!

Read the Washington Times article referenced above at their website.

GOZU (2003)

GozuEntertaining? Yeah, but for reasons I have a hard time describing.
Technically any good? Takashi Miike is one of those filmmakers who denies definition. Every film is a different kind of film from the last one he made. He's basically, Japan's David Lynch. Some of his films you'll get, some you won't. But odds are, you'll be entertained SOMEhow.
How did I feel as the credits rolled? Satisfied. Never have I seen a film with so little plot that has still managed to bend my brain so far. This movie is very disturbing, but not terribly violent. What it does to your brain, now that's violent--but entertaining, despite that.
Final Rating? SIYL (Miike's films are not for everyone, but if you want to trip cinematically, this is a great way to question reality...)

Wow, Movie Flux, or What?

Wow, it's been an interesting month or so in movieville. I live in an area of Los Angeles that probably has enough theater seats within walking distance for almost every resident of Westwood to have a place to sit if they really needed it. There are literally seven theaters within walking distance and there used to be more. However, don't think those are all multiplexes. They're actually one screen per theater. I know that seems old fashioned, but it's cooler that way. It means more turn-over of movies and fewer crowds to deal with when leaving the theater. It also allows for huge theater capacities and bigger screens.

Unfortunately, the guys who run most of the theaters here are idiots. Years ago, they got rid of PHANTOM MENACE after just a handful of weeks in favor of GENERAL'S DAUGHTER. Now, I know that PHANTOM MENACE is a sucky film, but does anyone even remember GENERAL'S DAUGHTER?? Anyway, so while turn-over means more movies, but turn-over can sometimes mean that you don't have much of a chance to see a movie you may want to see. In fact, just a few weeks ago, four to be exact, CATWOMAN opened. Now, obviously the person who programs the theaters in Westwood (Mann Theaters) is an idiot and thought Catwoman would rake in the cash. Come on, a black woman in the lead of an action adventure movie? America is just too racist and sexist still to be interested in a movie with those, er, uh, features. I mean, the TOMB RAIDER movies starred the single most beautiful woman in the business and those did relatively poorly. Add the strong female to the racial angle and then throw in the fact that the script for CATWOMAN is ten times worse than either TOMB RAIDER feature and you've got a recipe for box office disaster.

Which is just what happened.

The movie bombed and in three weeks (I think it might have been even less than that), Mann nicked it from their premiere theater in Westwood--the Village theater. This is the favorite LA theater of George Lucas. He likes it even better than the Chinese Theater. (I think he's full of crap, but then, I'm not worth millions of dollars. :rolleyes: ) Anyway, so they ditch Halle Berry and what do they replace it with? HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO THE WHITE CASTLE. I haven't seen it, but I'm excited to see it get such a prominent venue in LA. It's a film with two minorities in the lead, which is great. However, in a business sense, you have to wonder what they're smoking. They expect a dumb comedy about a couple of slackers going for fast food to do better than CATWOMAN?

Who knows... I don't. I was hoping to catch H&KGTTWC, but just today it got replaced with THE EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING. More proof that not only is Mann Theaters staffed with fools, but so is Hollywood, itself. The film is directed by Renny Harlin a man who is experienced in making crappy dumb action movies. Renny directed CLIFFHANGER and CUTTHROAT ISLAND. :crazy:

So, you can see how dumb everyone involved is, here.

Meanwhile, across the street from the Mann's Village is WITHOUT A PADDLE at the Bruin. There's another comedy classic. Sheesh... The good news is that the box office has reflected how lame THE VILLAGE causing Landmark theaters (who own one theater in Westwood) to ditch THE VILLAGE after three weeks in favor of an independent film. :laugh: The film is NICOTINA that looks good to me, but I've only seen the posters...

There are some other movies floating around, too, of course. I do wish the MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE remake had done better. It's fairly preachy, but still the best thing in theaters right now.

My advice? Rent this weekend, or better yet, read a book...

Thursday, August 19, 2004

PREEMPTIVE STRIKE FROM IRAN??

Back in June, I blogged about Iran massing troops on the Iraqi border. Well, that was two months ago. No one has reported if they're still there, but the AFP is reporting in an article at Yahoo News that Iran is doing some severe (and I mean severe) saber rattling.

Check it out:
Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani warned that Iran might launch a preemptive strike against US forces in the region to prevent an attack on its nuclear facilities.

"We will not sit (with arms folded) to wait for what others will do to us. Some military commanders in Iran are convinced that preventive operations which the Americans talk about are not their monopoly," Shamkhani told Al-Jazeera TV when asked if Iran would respond to an American attack on its nuclear facilities.
Well, here's another bed that Bush 43 has made and now needs to sleep in. He's set an international example that preemtive strikes are reasonable and required to stop someone who might attack you, even though they've shown no willingness to do so.

There's more:
"America is not the only one present in the region. We are also present, from Khost to Kandahar in Afghanistan; we are present in the Gulf and we can be present in Iraq (news - web sites)," said Shamkhani, speaking in Farsi to the Arabic-language news channel through an interpreter.

"The US military presence (in Iraq) will not become an element of strength (for Washington) at our expense. The opposite is true, because their forces would turn into a hostage" in Iranian hands in the event of an attack, he said.
Oh, well, now what would Iran know about taking hostages?? :P

Well, the article also reports an other Iranian official saying something to the effect that if Israel or the US attacks the Iranian nuclear power plant in Bushehr, they will consider it an attack on Iran as a whole and respond in a similar manner. General Mohammad Baqer Zolqadr, a commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, is quoted in the article as saying "If Israel fires one missile at Bushehr atomic power plant, it should permanently forget about Dimona nuclear center..."

DAMN, DAWG! You gonna let some punk like Iran call you out like dat with no reply?

COME ON, ISRAEL!! Teach those Punk-Ass-Persians a lesson!

(I'M KIDDING.)

The point is, even if Bush 43 has been pussing out over the past couple of weeks regarding an Iran Attack by US forces, Iran may not let the US and Israel get away with their own saber rattling. It seems that the USMil is stretched a little too thin and maybe Israel only likes war when their opponent has no army. (I'm just guessing, not trying to pass judgement or anything. :rolleyes: ) Either way, it should be interesting to see if Iran is mad-crazy enough to follow in W's footsteps. Man, I hope they're more sane than him.

Read the AFP article for yourself over at Yahoo News.

You can also read this AP article about the same story, also at Yahoo News.

THE VILLAGE (2004)

The Village (Widescreen Edition) (Vista Series)Entertaining? Ah yes, another improperly marketed M. Night movie. First off, this movie is not at all about what lies outside of the village. It's about a couple that fall in bland, pre-1900s love. The catch is, there's a "twist" so obvious that when I was first told the premise of the movie six months ago (there's this village in the late 1800s that is cut off from civilization), I was able to nail the "twist" on the head. I wasn't the only one, either.
Technically any good? I found M. Night's use of wide shots interesting, but they obscured the performances of the actors too much. The script created characters that were about as interesting as my left foot (not the movie, my actual left foot). Once I realized that the movie was about this love affair that inspires a murder and not about what's outside the village, I realized this was just like every other M. Night movie.
How did I feel as the credits rolled? Unsurprised. I now expect to be misled with the advertising of the next M. Night movie. Just like SIXTH SENSE was not about a kid who could see dead people (it was about a dead guy), UNBREAKABLE was not about a guy who was invulnerable (it was a comic book movie), and SIGNS was anything BUT a scifi movie (it was about a "crisis" of faith), likewise, THE VILLAGE is not what it seems. It's also not a good movie. You basically sit around waiting to find out what you've already predicted. Since what M. Night gives us while we wait isn't terribly interesting, there is no point in seeing this movie.
Final Rating? DNS (Don't even see it for the worthless cameo by the director, himself. He's practically out of frame for the whole scene he's in and CAN'T ACT even then!)

CATWOMAN (2004)

Catwoman (Widescreen Edition)Entertaining? No. This movie was a chore to get through. Even if you like watching Halle Berry move in an absurdly sexy costume, this movie will put you to sleep before her cleavage shows up. (By "absurdly sexy" you should think "sexy in an absurd way.)
Technically any good? This script is terrible. There is no throughline, no character development. Even saying the characters are based on bland stereotypes is overstating it. The FX weren't even great. To keep awake, you could play "spot the CG Catwoman" and, believe me, it's easy. What's hard is finding a reason to care about anyone in this movie.
How did I feel as the credits rolled? Stupid for sitting through the whole movie. There is less than nothing to this film. What few plot points there are slip past you so quickly it's impossible to feel engaged. It's more like the script just half-heartedly mentions "Oh yeah, and here's something important."
Final Rating? DNS

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Surprisingly graphic scenes of puppet sex...??

Just saw this on Drudge:

teamamericanc17 (22k image)


OK, now I can't wait for this film to open. :D

FYI: October 15, 2004 in the US.

March 5, 2005 in Australia. Sorry, Australia!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

TETSUWAN ATOM (ASTROBOY) Ep 1: POWER UP! (review)

Series Title: TETSUWAN ATOM (ASTROBOY)
Episode 1: POWER UP!
Premise: A scientist in the future succeeds in creating a robot boy that is the first robot that thinks like a real child.

tetswanatom01 (69k image)ThePete's Review: This show is really great. Talk about a crowd pleaser, only it's also pretty bright. Sure, it's a kid's show, but because it's so smart, adults can watch it, too. Think of this show as WILLY WONKA with robots in the future. Seriously, the amount of pure imagination that is put into the designs on the show is amazing. Skyscraper building robots that look like wasps, cop cars that look like giant dog faces, and the design for Metal City manages to capture the best of Fritz Lang's METROPOLIS but makes it, to be honest, a bit more realistic.

The story, itself, is innocent and fun. However, there are sinister things going on as well as a plot that tackles serious issues regarding race, technology and the future. Don't think of this show as "just a kid's cartoon." Sure, it's a kid's cartoon, but it deals with some great ideas and also manages to capture a wonderful spirit of joy and imagination that is missing from so many kid's shows (and adult's shows, for that matter). When Atom (Astroboy in the English dubbed version) learns to fly, you clearly understand his joy in being able to fly. It's like when you first learned to ride a bike, only one-hundred times more exciting. And you can see that in Atom's face. That's how great the animation is. It's till simple anime, but they just capture emotions so well. Oh and I recommend getting the fansubbed version if you can find it. The American dubbed version is kind of weak. The acting's fine but the Japanese dub is better.

Read on for spoilers...

Monday, August 16, 2004

WATER SCARCE FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS

BBC News is reporting in an article at their website that scientists at Sweden's World Water Week conference in Stockholm have found that if the Western World doesn't change it's heavy meat-eating diet, there won't be enough water to support the same diet for future generations. What does meat have to do with water? Well, water is used to grow the grain that cows and other animals eat. So, if we keep eating all of this meat and our population continues to grow at the rate it's going now, we will consume so much meat that it will sap the water supply dramatically.

Already in areas of the world water is a tremendous challenge to get enough of. This will spread as our population grows, especially since the Western World has most of the money and eats a lot of meat.

So, eat your vegetables instead!

Read more about the future water problems of the world over at the BBC News website.

BUSH BEING BABIED

Wow, here's an instance where the media is actually doing their job. Actually, it's just one small part of the media, in this case it's the AFP reporting that Bush never has to deal with hostile questioning at his campaign stops. According to an AFP article at Yahoo News, Bush's handlers do a good job of controlling who gets in to each event and who doesn't. Check this out from the AFP article:
Loyalists handle giving out tickets to the event; home-made signs and banners are often forbidden; and in some cases access hinges on signing a loyalty oath.

"First priority goes to volunteers and supporters and then we reach out to people who are undecided and want to hear what the president has to say," according Bush campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel.
This makes no sense. When you run a campaign, you WANT to let in people who don't like you so you can prove yourself to them. Surrounding yourself with loyal fans does nothing to the number of people who will vote for you in November. You need to bring new people into the fold. This is the very point of campaigning.

So, doesn't it seem odd that Bush doesn't care to try to expand the number of Bush voters out there?

Does he know something we don't? Like, perhaps, that he doesn't need to worry about getting another term?

It just seems like an odd tactic considering the number of colossal blunders he's committed since he took office.

Read that AFP article over at Yahoo News.

DEMOCRACY, VENEZUELA-STYLE

You may recall this story about proof BBC reporter Greg Palast uncovered tying the USGov to the recount campaign in Venezuela. Well, it looks like the USGov's involvement has come to nothing because the people of Venezuela voted against the recall. Recall proponents in Venezuela are accusing their opposition of fraud, despite the fact that Jimmy Carter and a team of election advisors oversaw the election and felt there was no sign of any fraud at all.

Of course, just because Chavez won, doesn't excuse the USGov from the unethical action of getting involved in the first place. Not only did they try to perform a regime change in a country that they have no right to get involved in, but they also paid a company called ChoicePoint to provide personal information on Venezuelan citizens. Why the hell would Ashcroft's office need to play Big Brother to citizens of a completely different country??

The next question I have is that if Ashcroft/Bush 43/etc. has the gall to buy personal information on Venezuelan citizens, I wonder just what he has on those of us inside America...

Read more about this eighth time Chavez has gotten approval from the Venezuelan people for his rule and policies. (The BBC reports that he's survived two presidental elections, six referendums, including the most recent recall vote.)

OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM OF THE PRESS?

The USGov says their military has delivered "freedom" to the people of Iraq. Looks like they've forgotten something. Freedom of the Press. The following is from an article at the UK's Telegraph website:
The Iraqi authorities ordered foreign journalists to leave Najaf yesterday, threatening to arrest or even shoot reporters as US marines and Iraqi government forces resumed the fight against Shia militants.
Now, why the hell would reporters need to be banned from Najaf? Oh, I know--because they might report some of the messed up crap that happens in seiges like this one. Remember Fallujah? Looks like it's up to bloggers in the area to keep us up to date on what's really going on.

So much for TheMedia doing TheJob they're supposed to...

At least this time it's not their fault.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

FR$ ON THE LEAST SECURE NET--THIS ONE

Ever wonder about your money? Ever wonder how secure the system behind it is? Well, it's about to get a helluva lot less secure. In a nutshell, the way the FRS (Federal Reserve System, AKA the FED) works is bizarre, but simple. The FR$ sells what are essentially bonds, but actually, it's like people are depositing money into a bank account. From there, the FR$ (like all banks) can loan out ten times that amount to the USGov. Nothing stops the USGov from asking for more and more money from the FR$ except a cap that Congress votes to raise higher and higher when ever it wants.

Up until now, this borrowing has occured on a stand alone computer network that, because of it's size, is incredibly secure. Now, the FR$ has decided to move the money transferring network to an Internet-based system to take advantage of a web-based interface. I'd joke that the only reason they're doing this is because they're sick of DOS, however, that is the reason they're doing it.

The problem is that the Internet has literally thousands (even millions) of connections to it. Anyone with one of those connections is one step away from the FR$' new system. Sure, it would take ability, skill and talent to actually hack into the FR$, but believe me, there are plenty of hackers out there who would love to wire themselves some money, or hackers who could be paid by terrorists to flood the market with too much US cash, thus screwing up the US economy and the world economy, as well. Finding the FR$ network won't be difficult, either. Hackers have apps that spend all day looking for servers to hack with certain characteristics. Once they find them, their game is afoot.

First the USGov didn't see 911 coming despite an episode of the X-Files spinoff The Lone Gunmen featuring a plot to crash a passenger airplane into the World Trade Center being aired in spring of 2001. Now, they want to claim they've never seen the movie Wargames.

The sad thing is, the FR$ is nothing we citizens can control. It's technically up to Congress to provide "oversight" of the FR$. However, there are FR$ bylaws that stop Congress from having much control at all over anything that the FR$ does. As a result, We the People of the United States of America can be as equal as we want, but the people who run the FR$ (Alan Greenspan and the other board members of the Fed) are equal on a whole different level. The phrase "feudal lord" comes to mind...

Oh yeah, and I'm not the only person concerned. This is from a New York Post article about the FR$ plan to move their network to the 'net:
On July 22, the Department of Homeland Security released an internal report saying a cyber attack could result in "widespread disruption of essential services ... damag(ing) our economy and put(ting) public safety at risk."

But the Fed's undertaking of this massive overhaul is considered a necessity.

"Our strategy is to move to Web-based technology because there are inherent limitations with DOS based technology and our goal is to provide better and robust product offerings to meet our customers' needs," said Laura Hughes, vice president of national marketing at the Chicago Fed, which has spearheaded this program.
So, there's no alternative to DOS aside from the Web?? That makes no sense. Will the new system be on a Windows server? My god, that'll make it even easier to hack it then.

Hell, I can't keep spyware off of my dekstop PC, how is the Fed going to keep up with all of those Win-duhs security updates??

Read that NY Post article about this plan over at the NY Post website.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

PROOF OF USGOV MEDDLING IN VENZUELAN AFFAIRS

Holy Christ, will the USGov ever stop messing around in other country's democracies?? This is getting absurd. American BBC News reporter Greg Palast has discovered literal proof that Attorney General John Ashcroft's office is in the process of buying information on Venezuelan citizens and registered voters. Palast says he got a fax from "a little birdie" that proves all of the above.

Why the hell would Ashcroft need information on ANY Venezuelan? In an ideal world, he wouldn't. Since we don't live in an ideal world, he probably does. The reason is that the coup that removed Venezuela's rightfully elected leader, Hugo Chavez, was sponsored by BigBusinesses with ties to the USGov. Chavez has been enveloped by a recall movement that would make Grey Davis shiver. In fact, Palast says, that recall movement has been sponsored in part by, you guessed it, the USGov. Palast's research team was able to uncover a payment from the USGov to the recall organizers to the tune of $53,000. Why are your tax dollars being used to support a recall campaign in Venezuela?

Because the coup failed. (See the documentary The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.)

Ha.

Actually, it's because Venezuela just happens to be located on top of a huge oil supply. This is an oil supply that Chavez has said should benefit the people of Venezuela. This sentiment scares BigBusiness because it means less money for them. Thanks to BigGovernment being in BigBusiness' back pocket, Ashcroft's office is getting involved, probably not for the first time.

Incidentally, the company Ashcroft's office is buying that information on Venezuelan civilians from is a company called ChoicePoint. These are the guys that purged 25,000 people from the Florida voter rolls simply because they had names that were similar to convicted criminals or had committed crimes in the future. (Literally, some people were listed as having committed crimes in the year 2007.) This, by the way, is another story Palast broke.

Anywho, check out his full report on the Venezuelan tragedy-to-be at his website, or check out GNN, the site I originally found his article at.

Whatever you do, make sure to watch for news on how the recall goes on or after Sunday night, August 15, 2004. The recall results should be in by then and if Chavez didn't win, it'll be a sad day for democracy because it means the rich folks both in the US and in Venezuela have won against a man who wanted to share the oil wealth with all of his people.

WINSTON SMITH, THIS MEANS YOU

Check it out, the UK's Independent is reporting:
Britons travelling in Europe are to be issued with a new card to give them swift access to the health service when they fall ill. The technology for issuing the cards - which could be a forerunner to more widespread identity cards - is being prepared by the Department of Health, on instructions from the EU Commission, which wants a standard card in use across all 25 EU states.
The funny thing is, the so-called "Independent" doesn't mention anything about how an EU-wide ID card amounts to each human being having their name replaced with a number. In fact, the article even quotes David Blunkett, the UK Home Secretary, with a journalistic straight face explaining that Blunkett says all adults would be compelled to register with the UKGov in order to drive, vote or get healthcare.

If you're not familiar with the novel 1984, you may not know just why national ID cards are so dangerous. What's wrong with the government giving you a number? After all, we have Social Security Numbers here, in the US, what's the big deal? These would do more than just help you get paid and taxed. National ID cards would put your name, your criminal history, your health history, your credit history, your job history, (am I missing anything?) and more in a file that the government could use for whatever purposes they see fit. If someone with access to these files were to be dishonest (as we all can admit politicians can be) he might single you out for speaking out against him or his policies. He would then know everything about you and could use anything in that file against you.

Think you have no skeletons in your closet? Well, as easily as that file can be created, it can be hacked into and doctored.

Then, there's the idea that we're people--real human beings, not numbers. Assigning national ID cards would be a goodly step towards the de-humanization of, well, humans.

Read the whole article and see if it inspires any paranoia in you.


Friday, August 13, 2004

SITE UPDATES!! YAAAY!

Loads of updates, folks! New comic strips, new TheBeauty, I even uploaded something new at my Deviant Art page! SUGOI!!

Can you tell I'm procrastinating? :crazy:

AGENT AIKA Ep 1: BEAUTIFUL AGENT (review)

agentaika01 (66k image)Series Title: AGENT AIKA
Episode 1: BEAUTIFUL AGENT
Premise: In the not terribly distance future, a beautiful woman works for a failing data salvaging company with the owner's daughter with the mission of recovering data and/or equipment from cities that flooded in a mysterious catastrophe twenty years earlier.

ThePete's Review: Wow, this show makes CUTEY HONEY look classy and well thought out! After watching the one episode of AGENT AIKA that I have in my collection, I realize that I am happy that it is the only episode of the series I have in my collection. This show is very dumb. While the premise is interesting, the T&A Fan Service is just too absurd for words. The bad guy is a very feminine looking guy, his sister who is HOT is always wandering around in a lace bra and panties and their thugs are kung-fu-trained teenage girls who were pleated mini-skirts.

Now, I'm all for nudity, but come ON. I'd prefer my nudity/near-nudity to have a little more justification than simply EVERY woman just happening to wear a miniskirt! The plot is fine for a first episode, but the gratiuitous female panty-shots seriously manage to ruin this show. I'd be curious to see a second episode, but not enough to go hunt it down.

There are absolutely no spoilers for this episode. Frankly, you should probably avoid this series. :)

It's just dumb, is all.

BUSH PLANS TO HARM AMERICA (clip)

Yep, it's true, Bush admitted it. Check it out:

neither_do_we (551k Quicktime)

Thursday, August 12, 2004

AQUARIAN AGE Ep 2: BURNING PREMONITION OF DESTINY (review)






aaep02kyouta (34k image)Series Title: AQUARIAN AGE
Episode 1: DEEP BLUE PRELUDE
Premise: Kyouta, a twenty-something guy who has a moderately successful band works in his parents grocery store while trying to figure out his feelings about Yori, a cute girl, his age, who just might be interested in him. Oh yeah, and there are these strange energy sashes that ocassionally show up, shake things around and produce women or monsters who are fighting each other or trying to talk to Kyouta.

aaep02pink (35k image)ThePete's Review: Well, as it turns out, I only have two episodes of this show in my collection and after watching the second ep, I must say I'm glad. The second ep seemed to almost forget that there was a fantasy element involved in the show at all. There were a couple scenes, that dealt with these strange energy sashes, but nothing clear was discussed. The story progressed but ended on a completely unthrilling note. If I stumble across another episode of this show, I'll definitely give it a try, but I gotta say that the second episode simply does not inspire me to search it out.

aaep02blue (35k image)Over all, the show isn't badly made, or boring in the least. I just wonder where things are going in a "okay, we get that he's in a band and that the ocassional odd thing happens" way, but beyond that we don't get any major answers. At least, none that make me want to rush out and find more eps.

In closing, I think this series has potential, but in the first two eps, it falls way short of that potential.

MAHER: NO EXCUSE FOR BUSH'S 911 CHOKE

Bill Maher has penned a commentary that was printed in the New York Daily News. There's one section of it that I think is particularly important for every American to be aware of. It refers to the excuses some have given for why Bush 43 did nothing for nearly 30 minutes after being told that America was under attack. Specifically, Bush spent 7 minutes reading a book to kids and then 20 minutes for a photo-op afterwards.

A PHOTO-OP??

That's right, Mr. "You're With Us Or Against Us" stopped to take photos.

Anyway, so here are the excuses that Bill Maher mentions in his commentary:
He was "gathering his thoughts." This was a moment a President should have imagined a thousand times. There is no time in the nuclear age for a President to sit like Forrest Gump "gathering thoughts" after an attack has begun. Gathering information is what he should have been doing.

From the White House press secretary: "The President felt he should project strength and calm until he could better understand what was happening." I agree that gaining a better understanding of what was happening should have been his goal. What I don't get is how that goal was reached by just sitting there instead of getting up and talking to people. Is he a psychic? Was he receiving the information telepathically?

"He didn't want to scare the children." Vice President Cheney has said of Kerry, "The senator from Massachusetts has given us ample reason to doubt the judgment he brings to vital issues of national security." So Kerry's judgment is suspect, but at a moment of national crisis, Bush's judgment was: Better not to scare 20 children momentarily than to react immediately to an attack on the country!


Check out the full commentary at the website for the New York Daily News.

WASH POST ADMITS BURIED WMD STORIES

The following is from an article at the Washington Post website:
An examination of the paper's coverage, and interviews with more than a dozen of the editors and reporters involved, shows that The Post published a number of pieces challenging the White House, but rarely on the front page. Some reporters who were lobbying for greater prominence for stories that questioned the administration's evidence complained to senior editors who, in the view of those reporters, were unenthusiastic about such pieces. The result was coverage that, despite flashes of groundbreaking reporting, in hindsight looks strikingly one-sided at times.
Liberal media, huh? Here is PROOF that there is NO such "liberal-ness" at the Washington Post. If there was a liberal bias, then these stories would have been front page.

Read the Washington Post's full mea culpa at their website.

From WashingtonPost.Com:

The Post on WMDs: An Inside Story

Prewar Articles Questioning Threat Often Didn't Make Front Page

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 12, 2004; Page A01

Days before the Iraq war began, veteran Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus put together a story questioning whether the Bush administration had proof that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction.

But he ran into resistance from the paper's editors, and his piece ran only after assistant managing editor Bob Woodward, who was researching a book about the drive toward war, "helped sell the story," Pincus recalled. "Without him, it would have had a tough time getting into the paper." Even so, the article was relegated to Page A17.

"We did our job but we didn't do enough, and I blame myself mightily for not pushing harder," Woodward said in an interview. "We should have warned readers we had information that the basis for this was shakier" than widely believed. "Those are exactly the kind of statements that should be published on the front page."

As violence continues in postwar Iraq and U.S. forces have yet to discover any WMDs, some critics say the media, including The Washington Post, failed the country by not reporting more skeptically on President Bush's contentions during the run-up to war.

An examination of the paper's coverage, and interviews with more than a dozen of the editors and reporters involved, shows that The Post published a number of pieces challenging the White House, but rarely on the front page. Some reporters who were lobbying for greater prominence for stories that questioned the administration's evidence complained to senior editors who, in the view of those reporters, were unenthusiastic about such pieces. The result was coverage that, despite flashes of groundbreaking reporting, in hindsight looks strikingly one-sided at times.

"The paper was not front-paging stuff," said Pentagon correspondent Thomas Ricks. "Administration assertions were on the front page. Things that challenged the administration were on A18 on Sunday or A24 on Monday. There was an attitude among editors: Look, we're going to war, why do we even worry about all this contrary stuff?"

In retrospect, said Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr., "we were so focused on trying to figure out what the administration was doing that we were not giving the same play to people who said it wouldn't be a good idea to go to war and were questioning the administration's rationale. Not enough of those stories were put on the front page. That was a mistake on my part."

Across the country, "the voices raising questions about the war were lonely ones," Downie said. "We didn't pay enough attention to the minority."

When national security reporter Dana Priest was addressing a group of intelligence officers recently, she said, she was peppered with questions: "Why didn't The Post do a more aggressive job? Why didn't The Post ask more questions? Why didn't The Post dig harder?"

Several news organizations have cast a withering eye on their earlier work. The New York Times said in a May editor's note about stories that claimed progress in the hunt for WMDs that editors "were perhaps too intent on rushing scoops into the paper." Separately, the Times editorial page and the New Republic magazine expressed regret for some prewar arguments.

Michael Massing, a New York Review of Books contributor and author of the forthcoming book "Now They Tell Us," on the press and Iraq, said: "In covering the run-up to the war, The Post did better than most other news organizations, featuring a number of solid articles about the Bush administration's policies. But on the key issue of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, the paper was generally napping along with everyone else. It gave readers little hint of the doubts that a number of intelligence analysts had about the administration's claims regarding Iraq's arsenal."

The front page is a newspaper's billboard, its way of making a statement about what is important, and stories trumpeted there are often picked up by other news outlets. Editors begin pitching stories at a 2 p.m. news meeting with Downie and Managing Editor Steve Coll and, along with some reporters, lobby throughout the day. But there is limited space on Page 1 -- usually six or seven stories -- and Downie said he likes to feature a broad range of subjects, including education, health, science, sports and business.

Woodward, for his part, said it was risky for journalists to write anything that might look silly if weapons were ultimately found in Iraq. Alluding to the finding of the Sept. 11 commission of a "groupthink" among intelligence officials, Woodward said of the weapons coverage: "I think I was part of the groupthink."

Given The Post's reputation for helping topple the Nixon administration, some of those involved in the prewar coverage felt compelled to say the paper's shortcomings did not reflect any reticence about taking on the Bush White House. Priest noted, however, that skeptical stories usually triggered hate mail "questioning your patriotism and suggesting that you somehow be delivered into the hands of the terrorists."

Instead, the obstacles ranged from editing difficulties and communication problems to the sheer mass of information the newsroom was trying to digest during the march to war.
The Doubts Go Inside

From August 2002 through the March 19, 2003, launch of the war, The Post ran more than 140 front-page stories that focused heavily on administration rhetoric against Iraq. Some examples: "Cheney Says Iraqi Strike Is Justified"; "War Cabinet Argues for Iraq Attack"; "Bush Tells United Nations It Must Stand Up to Hussein or U.S. Will"; "Bush Cites Urgent Iraqi Threat"; "Bush Tells Troops: Prepare for War."

Reporter Karen DeYoung, a former assistant managing editor who covered the prewar diplomacy, said contrary information sometimes got lost.

"If there's something I would do differently -- and it's always easy in hindsight -- the top of the story would say, 'We're going to war, we're going to war against evil.' But later down it would say, 'But some people are questioning it.' The caution and the questioning was buried underneath the drumbeat. . . . The hugeness of the war preparation story tended to drown out a lot of that stuff."

Beyond that, there was the considerable difficulty of dealing with secretive intelligence officials who themselves were relying on sketchy data from Iraqi defectors and other shadowy sources and could never be certain about what they knew.

On Sept. 19, 2002, reporter Joby Warrick described a report "by independent experts who question whether thousands of high-strength aluminum tubes recently sought by Iraq were intended for a secret nuclear weapons program," as the administration was contending. The story ran on Page A18.

Warrick said he was "going out on a limb. . . . I was struck by the people I talked to -- some on the record, others who couldn't be -- who were saying pretty persistently that these tubes were in no way suitable for uranium enrichment. On the other side were these CIA guys who said, 'Look, we know what we're talking about but we can't tell you.' "

Downie said that even in retrospect, the story looks like "a close call." He said the inability of dissenters "to speak up with their names" was a factor in some of his news judgments. The Post, however, frequently quotes unnamed sources.

Not all such stories were pushed inside the paper. A follow-up Warrick piece on the aluminum tubes did run on Page 1 the following January, two months before the war began. And The Post gave front-page play to a Sept. 10, 2002, story by Priest contending that "the CIA has yet to find convincing evidence" linking Hussein and al Qaeda.

That hardly settled the matter. On Dec. 12, 2002, investigative reporter Barton Gellman -- who would later win acclaim for his skeptical postwar stories from Iraq on WMDs -- wrote a controversial piece that ombudsman Michael Getler complained "practically begs you not to put much credence in it." The headline: "U.S. Suspects Al Qaeda Got Nerve Agent From Iraqis."

The story, attributed to "two officials with firsthand knowledge of the report" to the Bush administration "and its source," said in the second paragraph that "if the report proves true" -- a whopper of a qualifier -- it would be "the most concrete evidence" yet to support Bush's charge that Iraq was helping terrorists.

Gellman does not believe he was used. "The sources were not promoting the war. . . . One of them was actually against it," he said. "They were career security officials, not political officials. They were, however, wrong." Gellman added that "it was news even though it was clear that it was possible this report would turn out to be false."

But sources, even suspect ones, were the only game in town. "We had no alternative sources of information," Woodward said. "Walter [Pincus] and I couldn't go to Iraq without getting killed. You couldn't get beyond the veneer and hurdle of what this groupthink had already established" -- the conventional wisdom that Hussein was sitting on a stockpile of illegal weapons.

In October 2002, Ricks, a former national security editor for the Wall Street Journal who has been covering such issues for 15 years, turned in a piece that he titled "Doubts." It said that senior Pentagon officials were resigned to an invasion but were reluctant and worried that the risks were being underestimated. Most of those quoted by name in the Ricks article were retired military officials or outside experts. The story was killed by Matthew Vita, then the national security editor and now a deputy assistant managing editor.

"Journalistically, one of the frustrations with that story was that it was filled with lots of retired guys," Vita said. But, he added, "I completely understood the difficulty of getting people inside the Pentagon" to speak publicly.

Liz Spayd, the assistant managing editor for national news, says The Post's overall record was strong.

"I believe we pushed as hard or harder than anyone to question the administration's assertions on all kinds of subjects related to the war. . . . Do I wish we would have had more and pushed harder and deeper into questions of whether they possessed weapons of mass destruction? Absolutely," she said. "Do I feel we owe our readers an apology? I don't think so."
Digger or Crusader?

No Post reporter burrowed into the Iraqi WMD story more deeply than Pincus, 71, a staff member for 32 of the last 38 years, whose messy desk is always piled high with committee reports and intelligence files. "The main thing people forget to do is read documents," said Pincus, wielding a yellow highlighter.

A white-haired curmudgeon who spent five years covering the Iran-contra scandal and has long been an expert on nuclear weapons, Pincus sometimes had trouble convincing editors of the importance of his incremental, difficult-to-read stories.

His longevity is such that he first met Hans Blix, who was the chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq, at a conference in Ghana in 1959.

"The inspectors kept getting fed intelligence by our administration and the British and the French, and kept coming back and saying they couldn't find" the weapons, Pincus said. "I did one of the first interviews with Blix, and like everyone else he thought there would be WMDs. By January and February [of 2003], he was starting to have his own doubts. . . . What nobody talked about was how much had been destroyed," either under U.N. supervision after the Persian Gulf War or during the Clinton administration's 1998 bombing of Iraqi targets.

But while Pincus was ferreting out information "from sources I've used for years," some in the Post newsroom were questioning his work. Editors complained that he was "cryptic," as one put it, and that his hard-to-follow stories had to be heavily rewritten.

Spayd declined to discuss Pincus's writing but said that "stories on intelligence are always difficult to edit and parse and to ensure their accuracy and get into the paper."

Downie agreed that difficulties in editing Pincus may have been a factor in the prewar period, because he is "so well sourced" that his reporting often amounts to putting together "fragments" until the pieces were, in Downie's word, "storifyable."

Some editors, in Pincus's view, also saw him as a "crusader," as he once put it to Washingtonian magazine. "That's sort of my reputation, and I don't deny it," he said. "Once I get on a subject, I stay with it."

On Jan. 30, 2003, Pincus and Priest reported that the evidence the administration was amassing about Baghdad hiding weapons equipment and documents "is still circumstantial." The story ran on Page A14.

Some of the reporters who attended the daily "war meetings," where coverage was planned, complained to national editors that the drumbeat of the impending invasion was crowding out the work of Pincus and others who were challenging the administration.

Pincus was among the complainers. "Walter talked to me himself," Downie said. "He sought me out when he was frustrated, and I sought him out. We talked about how best to have stories be in the kind of shape that they could appear on the front page." Editors were also frustrated, Downie said. "Overall, in retrospect, we underplayed some of those stories."
The Woodward Factor

Bush, Vice President Cheney and other administration officials had no problem commanding prime real estate in the paper, even when their warnings were repetitive. "We are inevitably the mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power," DeYoung said. "If the president stands up and says something, we report what the president said." And if contrary arguments are put "in the eighth paragraph, where they're not on the front page, a lot of people don't read that far."

Those tendencies were on display on Feb. 6, 2003, the day after Secretary of State Colin Powell delivered a multimedia presentation at the United Nations -- using satellite images and intercepted phone calls -- to convince the world that Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction.

An accompanying front-page story by DeYoung and Pincus examined Powell's "unprecedented release of U.S. intelligence." Not until the ninth paragraph did they offer a "however" clause, saying that "a number of European officials and U.S. terrorism experts" believed that Powell's description of an Iraqi link to al Qaeda "appeared to have been carefully drawn to imply more than it actually said."

Warrick focused that day on the secretary's assertion, based on human sources, that Iraq had biological weapons factories on wheels. "Some of the points in Powell's presentation drew skepticism," Warrick reported. His piece ran on Page A28.

Downie said the paper ran several pieces analyzing Powell's speech as a package on inside pages. "We were not able to marshal enough evidence to say he was wrong," Downie said of Powell. "To pull one of those out on the front page would be making a statement on our own: 'Aha, he's wrong about the aluminum tubes.' "

Such decisions coincided with The Post editorial page's strong support for the war, such as its declaration the day after Powell's presentation that "it is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction." These editorials led some readers to conclude that the paper had an agenda, even though there is a church-and-state wall between the newsroom and the opinion pages. Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt, not Downie, runs the opinion side, reporting to Post Co. Chairman Donald Graham.

In mid-March, as the administration was on the verge of invading Iraq, Woodward stepped in to give the stalled Pincus piece about the administration's lack of evidence a push. "We weren't holding it for any political reason or because we were being pressured by the administration," Spayd said, but because such stories were difficult to edit at a time when the national desk was deluged with copy. "People forget how many facets of this story we were chasing . . . the political ramifications . . . military readiness . . . issues around postwar Iraq and how prepared the administration was . . . diplomacy angles . . . and we were pursuing WMD. . . . All those stories were competing for prominence."

As a star of the Watergate scandal who is given enormous amounts of time to work on his best-selling books, Woodward, an assistant managing editor, had the kind of newsroom clout that Pincus lacked.

The two men's recollections differ. Woodward said that after comparing notes with Pincus, he gave him a draft story consisting of five key paragraphs, which said the administration's evidence for WMDs in Iraq "looks increasingly circumstantial and even shaky," according to "informed sources." Woodward said Pincus found his wording too strong.

Pincus said he had already written his story when Woodward weighed in and that he treated his colleague's paragraphs as a suggestion and barely changed the piece. "What he really did was talk to the editors and made sure it was printed," Pincus said.

"Despite the Bush administration's claims" about WMDs, the March 16 Pincus story began, "U.S. intelligence agencies have been unable to give Congress or the Pentagon specific information about the amounts of banned weapons or where they are hidden, according to administration officials and members of Congress," raising questions "about whether administration officials have exaggerated intelligence."

Woodward said he wished he had appealed to Downie to get front-page play for the story, rather than standing by as it ended up on Page A17. In that period, said former national security editor Vita, "we were dealing with an awful lot of stories, and that was one of the ones that slipped through the cracks." Spayd did not recall the debate.

Reviewing the story in his glass-walled office last week, Downie said: "In retrospect, that probably should have been on Page 1 instead of A17, even though it wasn't a definitive story and had to rely on unnamed sources. It was a very prescient story."

In the days before the war, Priest and DeYoung turned in a piece that said CIA officials "communicated significant doubts to the administration" about evidence tying Iraq to attempted uranium purchases for nuclear weapons. The story was held until March 22, three days after the war began. Editors blamed a flood of copy about the impending invasion.

Whether a tougher approach by The Post and other news organizations would have slowed the rush to war is, at best, a matter of conjecture.

"People who were opposed to the war from the beginning and have been critical of the media's coverage in the period before the war have this belief that somehow the media should have crusaded against the war," Downie said. "They have the mistaken impression that somehow if the media's coverage had been different, there wouldn't have been a war."

Copyright 2004 The Washington Post Company