Friday, April 30, 2004

The New York Times > International > Around 1, 361 Were Iraqis Killed in April:
"Volunteers hunting for bodies in Fallujah find a woman and her daughter in their home, killed in the siege but undiscovered for days. Chanting mourners bury two boys caught in the crossfire of a Baghdad gunfight. A morgue in Basra overflows with torn and burned bodies from a suicide bombing.

Victims -- young and old, women and men, insurgents and innocents -- have been piling up day by day, making April the deadliest month for Iraqis -- and Americans -- since the fall of Saddam Hussein a year ago.

Official and complete death counts for Iraqis nationwide are unavailable. But a count by The Associated Press found that around 1,361 Iraqis were killed from April 1 to April 30 -- 10 times the figure of at least 136 U.S. troops who died during the same period."
The New York Times > International > Middle East > Israeli Military Says It Regrets Killing of a Palestinian Lecturer:
"In an admission of error, the Israeli military said Thursday that a Palestinian academic shot dead last week in a West Bank village was not involved in terrorism, as the army initially claimed, but a civilian hit during a shootout with Palestinian gunmen.

The university lecturer, Yaser Ahmed Abu-Laymoun, 33, was shot in a field in Taluza, north of Nablus, on April 23. That day, Israeli military officials said they had killed an armed member of the Hamas faction, although they did not identify Mr. Abu-Laymoun by name.

Mr. Abu-Laymoun's relatives and colleagues at the Arab American University in Jenin, where he had taught courses in hospital administration for the past two years, described him as a doting father and husband with no ties to militant groups."

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, the Israeli Army said it had investigated the incident and determined that Mr. Abu-Laymoun was accidentally caught in the cross-fire between the army and Palestinian gunmen.

The Israeli military "regrets Abu-Laymoun's death," a statement said.

The army said a wanted Hamas man, Issam Fukah, was also injured in the shooting and was arrested the next day.

But Palestinians said that the army's admission of guilt was incomplete, and that the shootout did not take place until about 10 minutes later, in a different spot in the village.

Mr. Abu-Laymoun's widow, Dalal Jawabreh Abu-Laymoun, 21, said she was in the field with her husband when Israeli forces jumped out from behind a tree and started shooting.

"When they saw us, they started opening fire on Yaser randomly," she said. "There were no strangers or wanted people in the area."
Crypto-Gram: April 15, 2004:
"Stealing an Election

There are major efforts by computer security professionals to convince government officials that paper audit trails are essential in any computerized voting machine. They have conducted actual examination of software, engaged in letter writing campaigns, testified before government bodies, and collectively, have maintained visibility and public awareness of the issue.
The track record of the computerized voting machines used to date has been abysmal; stories of errors are legion. Here's another way to look at the issue: what are the economics of trying to steal an election? "
Scams, Lies, Deceit, and Offshoring:
"Someone has to take the jobs that, as President Bush and others say, 'Americans don't want.' There appear to be a large number of these jobs. In fact, it seems that our fastest-growing business segment is the creation of more and more jobs that Americans don't want. Often, American companies will lay people off, only to train newcomers to replace them."

Here is how the real scam works. You are a programmer at one of the big IT or computer companies. You're 55 and nearing a retirement plateau; in fact, you're a liability. You're making, say, $80,000 as a program designer. You have various responsibilities. The company eliminates your position in the process of downsizing.

To be fair to you, it creates a new position, Associate Program Designer, that pays $35,000 a year. Its responsibilities coincidentally match those of your old job. You can take this job, doing what you did before but at a huge cut in pay, or look elsewhere. If the latter, it's apparent that this new job is one that "Americans don't want." The company can then hire a "body shop" to drop in a foreign H-1B or L1 visa holder, who will not be quite as good but will work for a lot less.

This is a bait-and-switch scheme that is designed to screw older and more experienced workers out of their retirement benefits, plain and simple. This sort of thing, unfortunately, is nothing new to corporate America:,1759,1573102,00.asp

Sunday, April 25, 2004

The New York Times > National > NASA Curbs Comments on Ice Age Disaster Movie:
"'Urgent: HQ Direction,' began a message e-mailed on April 1 to dozens of scientists and officials at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

It was not an alert about an incoming asteroid, a problem with the space station or a solar storm. It was a warning about a movie."

In "The Day After Tomorrow," a $125 million disaster film set to open on May 28, global warming from accumulating smokestack and tailpipe gases disrupts warm ocean currents and sets off an instant ice age.

Few climate experts think such a prospect is likely, especially in the near future. But the prospect that moviegoers will be alarmed enough to blame the Bush administration for inattention to climate change has stirred alarm at the space agency, scientists there say.

"No one from NASA is to do interviews or otherwise comment on anything having to do with" the film, said the April 1 message, which was sent by Goddard's top press officer. "Any news media wanting to discuss science fiction vs. science fact about climate change will need to seek comment from individuals or organizations not associated with NASA."

Copies of the message, and the one from NASA headquarters to which it referred, were provided to The New York Times by a senior NASA scientist who said he resented attempts to muzzle climate researchers.

Late last week, however, NASA appeared to relax its stand on discussing the movie. Though she did not disavow the e-mail, Gretchen Cook-Anderson, a spokeswoman at NASA headquarters, said on Thursday that the agency would make scientists available to discuss issues raised by the film.

"We've decided not to proactively speak out on anything related to the movie," she said. "But when asked, we can certainly provide some of our experts to answer questions about the validity of the science."

Several days ago, NASA scientists produced a list of questions and answers about abrupt climate change, but the information has not yet been approved for public release.
The New York Times > International > Middle East > Public Opinion: Military Leaders Struggling to Regain Iraqis' Good Will:
"Senior American military commanders say many Iraqis who once cautiously supported the United States-led effort to stabilize Iraq are pulling back in large numbers and hedging their bets.

This erosion of trust and confidence built up over the past year represents a new complication to securing and rebuilding the country. "

The campaign to preserve an active, even if grudging, support of the Iraqi public appears to be at a critical juncture, said the commanders, who spoke with unusual candor. That view was expressed across a series of interviews this week with virtually every major field commander in Iraq, from Mosul in the north to Basra in the south, as well as other top American officers in the region.

As one senior officer bluntly summed up the conflicting views of many Iraqis nearly one year after President Bush declared the end of major combat operations: "They hate us. But they know there's no alternative. They would like us to leave as soon as possible. But they're willing to tolerate us."

Iraqis are disillusioned with the occupation for many reasons, said commanders who meet regularly with tribal, religious and civic leaders. Water and electricity service are more reliable than they were a year ago, but still spotty in many places. Long promised deliveries of trucks, radios and body armor to Iraqi security forces are mired in bureaucratic snarls, undermining American credibility. Ten weeks before a scheduled transition to a new Iraqi government on June 30, there is still no clear picture of that entity's makeup.

Friday, April 23, 2004

The New York Times > Washington > Commission to Allow Insurance Cuts for Retired Employees:
"The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission voted Thursday to allow employers to reduce or eliminate health benefits for retirees when they become eligible for Medicare at age 65.

The agency approved a final rule saying that such cuts do not violate the civil rights law banning age discrimination. The vote was 3 to 1, with Republicans lining up in favor of the rule and a Democrat opposing it."

Employers and some labor unions supported the change, saying it would help preserve coverage for early retirees. But AARP, which represents millions of Americans age 50 and older, strenuously objected.

The new rule creates a potentially explosive political issue, because it will create anxiety for many of the 12 million Medicare beneficiaries who also receive health benefits from their former employers.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor: Why They Hate Us, Really:
"For the last five weeks I have been traveling through the Middle East, meeting diplomats, officials, policy experts, military leaders, students and ordinary citizens. I learned something very important: the greatest single cause of anti-Americanism in the Middle East today is not the war in Iraq; more surprisingly, it is not even American support for Israel, per se. Rather, it is a widespread belief that the United States simply does not care about the rights or needs of the Palestinian people.

'The Palestinian issue is really what discredits the United States throughout the region,' a senior Western diplomat with years of experience in the Middle East told me. Or, as one student after another put it after the university lectures I conducted across the region: 'Why do Americans have to be so biased?' "

In Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and other countries, the large majority of people I spoke with are ready to tolerate the Jewish state — most even understand that the final boundaries of Israel will include some of the heavily settled areas beyond the pre-1967 borders. They also understand that few if any Palestinians will return to the homes they lost after the war that erupted when Israel declared its independence in 1948. And they are prepared to accept, though not to relish, America's close relations with Israel. Beyond that, they want increased American support for their domestic political reforms and for initiatives to enhance regional cooperation for economic growth and fighting terrorism.

But one thing sticks in their craw: Why doesn't America care more about the Palestinians' future?

They have a point. America's Middle East policy is unnecessarily zero-sum. We can be more pro-Palestinian without being less pro-Israeli. Indeed, to the degree that American policies help create support for compromise among Palestinians, pro-Palestinian initiatives can help Israel too.

Take compensation. United Nations resolutions call for financial compensation for Palestinians who cannot return to their family homes in Israel. Israel's position that it cannot accept millions of refugees and their descendants is reasonable enough, and the Bush administration's support of it is nothing new. But we should be equally clear about compensation.

Many questions need answering: where can Palestinians go to have their claims for lost property adjudicated and certified? What tribunal will hear these claims? What principles will guide its deliberations? Where will the money come from to pay the claims when peace is finally made?
The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor: The Nicest Terrorist I Ever Met:
"…Entering Dr. Rantisi's home that day, I wondered how I would feel shaking the hand of someone who blew up Jewish children. I wondered, too, how he would feel about giving yet another interview to yet another American Jew, whose objectivity he surely questioned. But even killers can be charming, and reporters are disconcertingly adaptable. There was a gentle affability to Dr. Rantisi. The interpreter quickly became superfluous. He spoke English softly, musically, imperfectly but painstakingly. Though our talk was of targeted killings, he sometimes even laughed."

He described the degradation of occupation: the loss of lives and dignity, the dead Palestinian children, the uprooted trees, the bulldozed land, the desecrated holy places. The "martyrdom bombings" were retaliatory, he insisted, responses to Israeli murders and massacres. He spoke the language of the freedom fighter. "We are doing the same now that the French did to the Germans, and the Algerians to resist the French, and Vietnam to resist the Americans," he said. Taken in a vacuum, his reasoning was seductive. One could see how he charmed left-wing European journalists, including a crew of Englishmen there with us.

But there was something sinister and cynical in his choice of words — or, more accurately, one word: occupation. To most of the world, he knew, occupation was what happened to the Palestinians in 1967, when Israel took over the West Bank and Gaza. The very word suggests temporariness, compromise. But to him and the organization he'd helped found, the occupation dated back not to 1967 and not even to 1948, when the state of Israel was created, but decades before that, to when the Zionists began buying up dunums and hectares of Mandatory Palestine. All of Israel was occupied territory. Dr. Rantisi talked of truces, but they were meaningless. His peace plan was simple: five million Jews should leave. Then there would be peace. Until then, there would be jihad.

To him, all Israeli leaders were alike. Ehud Barak had done nothing for peace, he said. Shimon Peres was every bit the killer Ariel Sharon was, only smoother. And the most dovish Israeli politician of all, Yossi Beilin, was merely Mr. Peres's disciple. (In a sense, Dr. Rantisi was posthumously vindicated, for Mr. Peres was among those who applauded his killing.) To Dr. Rantisi, what differentiated Prime Minister Sharon wasn't his convictions, which were run-of-the-mill Zionist, but his stupidity. With every targeted killing, he said, Hamas only grew stronger; increasingly, its leaders were underground, beyond Israeli eyes. Now, with two of the group's pillars eliminated, Dr. Rantisi's thesis will be put to the test.

"The history will write Sharon is the first one who started destroying Israel," he told me. "And if you will live — I hope so — for 120 years, you will see that." As he spoke to me, he laughed almost affectionately, as if he really meant it. Imagine that: the future head of Hamas wishing me a long life. All I had to do was to stay off the wrong Israeli bus.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

ZDNet AnchorDesk: What's wrong with Internet phones:
"The best thing about the traditional phone system is what people take for granted: Any phone on the planet can connect to any other. Some Internet telephone systems, such as Vonage, can also connect to any other phone. But except in extremely rare cases, two people on different VoIP systems can't connect to each other directly over the Internet--they have to use the public phone system as a go-between.… " - IT news and Worker resources:
"Total US Jobs Offshored

From 04/01/2001 To 04/20/2004

Jobs Offshored160,785

Jobs Lost99,556"

A technology labor group on Thursday launched a Web-based tool designed to track the number of jobs U.S. companies send overseas. Since April 1, 2001, U.S. companies have "offshored" at least 160,785 jobs, according to the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers. The group, an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union, is running its "Offshoring Tracker" with the CWA. The organizations said the project aims to help plug a gap in information about the controversial offshore trend. "We know we're seriously undercounting--but it's a count," Tony Daley, CWA research economist, said in a statement. "Nobody else is counting. And there is a conspiracy on the other side to not count at all." From ZDNet

Monday, April 19, 2004

Chicago Tribune | Rumsfeld's candor can be too revealing:
"Every so often a high-profile Washington figure gets himself or herself in trouble by inadvertently revealing what he or she really thinks. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld knows. In a town where candor can be a crime, he's a repeat offender.

His latest score came during a Pentagon news conference Thursday when he revealed a new Rummy-ism: 'People are fungible.'"

…"fungible," which is pronounced with a soft "G" as in "sponge," refers to something that can be satisfactorily replaced, either in part or in whole, with some other part or quantity of similar value. "Oil is fungible," experts say, in arguing why no country or cartel can quite corner the market on it. If the price is too high in one place, you can buy it someplace else and the price in the first place will come down in order to compete.

Now, Rumsfeld wants you to know, our troops are fungible, too. His bold pronouncement came during an exchange with a reporter in a news conference during which Rumsfeld announced that about 20,000 American troops are about to have their tours in Iraq extended for at least three months.

A reporter wanted some clarification about the rosy scenarios of Iraqi success that Rumsfeld painted in his opening statement: "You said that the challenge in Fallujah is being contained and that the situation in the South is largely stabilized," the reporter said. "And I wonder, if that is the case, why . . . is it necessary to keep extra troops in Iraq for 90 days?"

"Well, it is--the reason it is contained is because we have the extra troops there. That is self-evident," Rumsfeld said, showing a little irritation. "Come on, people are fungible. You can have them here or there. We have announced the judgment. It is clear. You understand it. Everyone in the room understands that we needed additional--the commander decided he'd like to retain in-country an additional plus or minus 20,000 people--and that is what we are doing."

People are fungible? Like so many replaceable parts? Perhaps in Rumsfeld's former corporate-CEO mindset they were. But in the world where most of us live, this ranks as his least fortunate comment since, oh, early last year.

That was when he said during another news conference that the 11 million Americans (including me) who were drafted during the Vietnam years "added no value, no advantage, really, to the United States armed services over any sustained period of time, because (of) the churning that took place. It took (an) enormous amount of effort in terms of training--and then they were gone."

Yup, we were `gone,' all right. Some of us left in better shape than others did. Of the more than 58,000 Americans who died in action in Vietnam, more than 20,000 were draftees. Rumsfeld, who served three years on active duty as a Navy aviator in the 1950s, later apologized for the slight. Poor Rummy. People keep tripping him up by actually paying attention to what he says.,1,7011132.column

Sunday, April 18, 2004

The New York Times > Washington > Nafta Tribunals Stir U.S. Worries:
"After the highest court in Massachusetts ruled against a Canadian real estate company and after the United State Supreme Court declined to hear its appeal, the company's day in court was over.

Or so thought Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall of the Massachusetts court, until she learned of yet another layer of judicial review, by an international tribunal.…"

Tribunals like the one that ruled on the Massachusetts case were created by the North American Free Trade Agreement, and they have heard two challenges to American court judgments. In the other, the tribunal declared a Mississippi court's judgment at odds with international law, leaving the United States government potentially liable for hundreds of millions of dollars.

Any Canadian or Mexican business that contends it has been treated unjustly by the American judicial system can file a similar claim. American businesses with similar complaints about Canadian or Mexican court judgments can do the same. Under the Nafta agreement the government whose court system is challenged is responsible for awards by the tribunals.

"This is the biggest threat to United States judicial independence that no one has heard of and even fewer people understand," said John D. Echeverria, a law professor at Georgetown University.

In the Massachusetts case, brought by Mondev International, the Nafta tribunal decided in 2002 that the Massachusetts courts had not violated international law.

But in a separate pending case, brought by a Canadian company challenging the largest jury verdict in Mississippi history, a different Nafta tribunal offered a harsh assessment of Mississippi justice.

"The whole trial and its resultant verdict," the three-judge tribunal ruled last summer, "were clearly improper and discreditable and cannot be squared with minimum standards of international law and equitable treatment."

The Mississippi case arose from an exchange of companies between a Canadian concern, the Loewen Group, and companies owned by a Mississippi family, the O'Keefes. The O'Keefe family, contending that the Loewen Group did not live up to its obligations, sued for breach of contract and fraud. Although the tribunal found that the businesses were worth no more than $8 million, a jury in Jackson, Miss., awarded the family $500 million in 1995.

Loewen settled the case the next year, for $175 million. But, arguing that the trial had been unfair and that it had been coerced into settling by a requirement that the company post an appeal bond of $625 million, Loewen and one of its owners filed their claim in the Nafta tribunal in 1998. They asked for $725 million from the United States.

The availability of this additional layer of review, above even the United States Supreme Court, is a significant development, legal scholars said.

"It's basically been under the radar screen," Peter Spiro, a law professor at Hofstra University, said. "But it points to a fundamental reorientation of our constitutional system. You have an international tribunal essentially reviewing American court judgments."

The part of Nafta that created the tribunals, known as Chapter 11, received no consideration when it was passed in 1993.
The New York Times > Washington > Pre-9/11 Files Show Warnings Were More Dire and Persistent:
"Early this year, the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks played four minutes of a call from Betty Ong, a crew member on American Airlines Flight 11. The power of her call could not have been plainer: in a calm voice, Ms. Ong told her supervisors about the hijacking, the weapons the attackers had used, the locations of their seats.

At first, however, Ms. Ong's reports were greeted skeptically by some officials on the ground. "They did not believe her," said Bob Kerrey, a commission member. "They said, `Are you sure?' They asked her to confirm that it wasn't air-rage. Our people on the ground were not prepared for a hijacking."

For most Americans, the disbelief was the same. The attacks of Sept. 11 seemed to come in a stunning burst from nowhere. But now, after three weeks of extraordinary public hearings and a dozen detailed reports, the lengthy documentary record makes clear that predictions of an attack by Al Qaeda had been communicated directly to the highest levels of the government."

The threat reports were more clear, urgent and persistent than was previously known. Some focused on Al Qaeda's plans to use commercial aircraft as weapons. Others stated that Osama bin Laden was intent on striking on United States soil. Many were passed to the Federal Aviation Administration.

While some of the intelligence went back years, other warnings — including one that Al Qaeda seemed interested in hijacking a plane inside this country — had been delivered to the president on Aug. 6, 2001, just a month before the attacks.

The new information produced by the commission so far has led 6 of its 10 members to say or suggest that the attacks could have been prevented, though there is no consensus on when, how or by whom. The commission's chairman, Thomas H. Kean, a Republican, has described failures at every level of government, any of which, if avoided, could have altered the outcome. Mr. Kerrey, a Democrat, said, "My conclusion is that it could have been prevented. That was not my conclusion when I went on the commission."

While the commission was created to diagnose mistakes and to recommend reforms, its examination has powerful political resonance. The panel has reviewed the records of two presidents, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Mr. Bush, who is in the midst of a campaign for re-election, said last Sunday that none of the warnings gave any hint of the time, place or date of an assault. "Had I known there was going to be an attack on America I would have moved mountains to stop the attack," he said.

In an intense stretch this month, the commission pried open some of the most closely guarded compartments of government, revealing the flow and details of previously classified information given to two presidents and their senior advisers, and the performance of intelligence and law enforcement officials.

The inquiry has gone beyond the report of a joint panel of the House and Senate intelligence committee in 2002, which chronicled missteps at the mid-level of bureaucracies. Urged on by a number of families of people killed in the attacks, the Kean commission has used a mix of moral and political leverage to extract presidential communications and testimony. Among the new themes that have fundamentally reshaped the story of the Sept. 11 attacks are:

¶Al Qaeda and its leader, Mr. bin Laden, did not blindside the United States, but were a threat recognized and discussed regularly at the highest levels of government for nearly five years before the attacks, in thousands of reports, often accompanied by urgent warnings from lower-level experts.

¶Presidents Clinton and Bush received regular information about the threat of Al Qaeda and the intention of the bin Laden network to strike inside the United States. Each president made terrorism a stated priority, failed to find a diplomatic solution and viewed military force as a last resort. At the same time, neither grappled with the structural flaws and paralyzing dysfunction that undermined the C.I.A. and the F.B.I., the two agencies on which the nation depended for protection from terrorists. By the end of his second term, Mr. Clinton and the director of the F.B.I., Louis J. Freeh, were barely speaking.

¶Even when the two agencies cooperated, the results were unimpressive. Mr. Kean said that he viewed the reports on the two agencies as indictments. In late August 2001, George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, learned that the F.B.I. had arrested Zacarias Moussaoui after he had enrolled in a flight school. Mr. Tenet was given a memorandum titled "Islamic Extremist Learns to Fly." But he testified that he took no action and did not tell President Bush about the case.

During the Clinton years, particularly at the National Security Council, the commission has found, there was uncertainty about whether the threat posed by Al Qaeda and Mr. bin Laden justified military action. Much of the debate was provoked by Richard A. Clarke, who led antiterrorism efforts under both Mr. Clinton and Mr. Bush and argued for aggressive action.

"Former officials, including an N.S.C. staffer working for Mr. Clarke, told us the threat was seen as one that could cause hundreds of casualties, not thousands," according to one interim commission report. "Such differences affect calculations about whether or how to go to war. Even officials who acknowledge a vital threat intellectually may not be ready to act upon such beliefs at great cost or at high risk."

In the first eight months of the Bush administration, the commission found, the president and his advisers received far more information, much of it dire in tone and detailed in content, than had been generally understood.

The most striking came in the Aug. 6 memorandum presented in an intelligence briefing the White House says Mr. Bush requested. Titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.," the memorandum was declassified this month under pressure from the commission. After referring to a British tip in 1998 that Islamic fundamentalists wanted to hijack a plane, it went on to warn: "Nevertheless, F.B.I. information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks." Mr. Bush has said the briefing did not provide specific details of when and where an attack might take place.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

The New York Times > Arts > An Israeli Who's Got Everybody Outraged:
"Benny Morris is used to making enemies. When his first groundbreaking book appeared in 1988, marshaling evidence that Israel's founders had deliberately — and often violently — forced Arabs to flee during the war for independence, Mr. Morris was reviled and called an anti-Zionist. For years he was unable to find work as a professor in Israel; when he finally landed a job at Ben-Gurion University, named for Israel's first prime minister, Ben-Gurion's son tried to have the radical young historian fired. "

Sixteen years later, Mr. Morris is again being denounced, only this time for defending Israel's attempts to rid the country of its Arabs in 1948, arguing that "ethnic cleansing" was justified because Israel's existence was threatened.

His comments, in a new book published earlier this year as well as in Israeli newspapers and interviews, have not only provoked outrage but have also put Mr. Morris at the center of a bitter controversy over Israeli history and the future of the peace process.

Friday, April 16, 2004

The New York Times > Washington > Expert Kept From Speaking at Antidepressant Hearing:
"Top Food and Drug Administration officials admitted yesterday that they barred the agency's top expert from testifying at a public hearing about his conclusion that antidepressants cause children to become suicidal because they viewed his findings as alarmist and premature"…

Recent studies have shown that children given antidepressants are more likely to become suicidal than those given placebos. But the studies have lead to different interpretations by psychiatrists. The refusal by drug companies to publish the studies has worsened the confusion. Internal agency documents obtained by The New York Times show that federal health officials are divided, too.

Dr. Andrew D. Mosholder, an agency epidemiologist, was the man charged with analyzing 22 studies involving 4,250 children and seven drugs. In a carefully argued, 33-page memorandum, he concluded that children given antidepressants were almost twice as likely as those given placebos to become suicidal.

He urged the agency to discourage doctors from prescribing to children all antidepressants except Prozac. Prozac is the only antidepressant proven effective in treating depressed children, and its studies showed no link with suicide, Dr. Mosholder wrote. Dr. Mosholder's conclusions mirrored those made by British health authorities.

But Dr. Mosholder's supervisors, Drs. Mark Avigan and Anne Trontell, wrote memorandums disagreeing, according to the documents.

"In particular, we disagree that the data are sufficiently robust to advocate preferential use" of Prozac in children, Dr. Trontell wrote.

Health officials convened a special advisory committee on Feb. 2 to offer guidance on how the agency should respond to the studies. As the agency's principal reviewer, Dr. Mosholder was scheduled to speak. He was removed from the agenda, Dr. Temple said.

Senator Charles E. Grassley, a Republican from Iowa and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said he was investigating whether the agency inappropriately suppressed crucial findings. Representative Joe L. Barton, a Republican from Texas who is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he was also investigating.

"It would have been very wrong for the F.D.A. to withhold any information it had about unintended consequences that might result from the use of antidepressants, especially for children and adolescents," Mr. Grassley said.
The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: The Vietnam Analogy:
"Iraq isn't Vietnam. The most important difference is the death toll, which is only a small fraction of the carnage in Indochina. But there are also real parallels, and in some ways Iraq looks worse.

It's true that the current American force in Iraq is much smaller than the Army we sent to Vietnam. But the U.S. military as a whole, and the Army in particular, is also much smaller than it was in 1968. Measured by the share of our military strength it ties down, Iraq is a Vietnam-size conflict.

And the stress Iraq places on our military is, if anything, worse. In Vietnam, American forces consisted mainly of short-term draftees, who returned to civilian life after their tours of duty. Our Iraq force consists of long-term volunteers, including reservists who never expected to be called up for extended missions overseas. The training of these volunteers, their morale and their willingness to re-enlist will suffer severely if they are called upon to spend years fighting a guerrilla war."

Some hawks say this proves that we need a bigger Army. But President Bush hasn't called for larger forces. In fact, he seems unwilling to pay for the forces we have.

A fiscal comparison of George Bush's and Lyndon Johnson's policies makes the Vietnam era seem like a golden age of personal responsibility. At first, Johnson was reluctant to face up to the cost of the war. But in 1968 he bit the bullet, raising taxes and cutting spending; he turned a large deficit into a surplus the next year. A comparable program today — the budget went from a deficit of 3.2 percent of G.D.P. to a 0.3 percent surplus in just one year — would eliminate most of our budget deficit.

By contrast, Mr. Bush, for all his talk about staying the course, hasn't been willing to strike anything off his domestic wish list. On the contrary, he used the initial glow of apparent success in Iraq to ram through yet another tax cut, waiting until later to tell us about the extra $87 billion he needed. And he's still at it: in his press conference on Tuesday he said nothing about the $50 billion-to-$70 billion extra that everyone knows will be needed to pay for continuing operations.

This fiscal chicanery is part of a larger pattern. Vietnam shook the nation's confidence not just because we lost, but because our leaders didn't tell us the truth. Last September Gen. Anthony Zinni spoke of "Vietnam, where we heard the garbage and the lies," and asked his audience of military officers, "Is it happening again?" Sure enough, the parallels are proliferating. Gulf of Tonkin attack, meet nonexistent W.M.D. and Al Qaeda links. "Hearts and minds," meet "welcome us as liberators." "Light at the end of the tunnel," meet "turned the corner." Vietnamization, meet the new Iraqi Army.

Some say that Iraq isn't Vietnam because we've come to bring democracy, not to support a corrupt regime. But idealistic talk is cheap. In Vietnam, U.S. officials never said, "We're supporting a corrupt regime." They said they were defending democracy. The rest of the world, and the Iraqis themselves, will believe in America's idealistic intentions if and when they see a legitimate, noncorrupt Iraqi government — as opposed to, say, a rigged election that puts Ahmad Chalabi in charge.
Chicago Tribune | AP: Book Alleges Secret Iraq War Plan:
"President Bush secretly ordered a war plan drawn up against Iraq less than two months after U.S. forces attacked Afghanistan and was so worried the decision would cause a furor he did not tell everyone on his national security team, says a new book on his Iraq policy.

Bush feared that if news got out about the Iraq plan as U.S. forces were fighting another conflict, people would think he was too eager for war, journalist Bob Woodward writes in 'Plan of Attack,' a behind-the-scenes account of the 16 months leading to the Iraq invasion.",1,7458922.story

Thursday, April 15, 2004


Six hundred dead,
mostly women and children,
but we mourn our young,
well-armed combatants,
and declare special ops
trained "contractors"
security guards.

have been dying
in Fallujah,
under questionable
no questions come.
The rage has built
and kept on building
as our well-armed
left trails of bodies
and excuses.

They've killed
They said
they were
shot at, but,
they must
have been using

They've killed
They claim
they were
shot at, but,
all the brass
came from
our weapons,
from the

So the rage
creating unity
between sunni
and shia.
keep on killing.
Perhaps, we'll
continue, until
we enrage
the Kurds
The New York Times > International > Europe > Bin Laden Tape Offering Europe a Truce Is Called Authentic:
"'The truce will begin when the last soldier leaves our countries,' the man on the tape, speaking in Arabic, added."

he C.I.A. said today that an audiotape of a man identifying himself as Osama bin Laden, who offered to stop terrorist actions in European countries that ended military action in Muslim nations, was probably authentic.

"After conducting a technical analysis, the C.I.A. assesses that the voice is likely that of Osama bin Laden," an agency official said.

The official described it as "an attempt by bin Laden to drive a message between Europe and the United States. This would fall into the category of other bin Laden tapes as a propaganda ploy to bolster morale of Al Qaeda's rank and file. "

The official, who did not want to be named, said the tape was probably recorded during the past several weeks because it referred to the killing by Israel last month of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the founder of Hamas.…

Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain quickly rejected the offer, with a British Foreign Ministry spokeswoman telling Reuters: "We cannot negotiate with Al Qadea. Their attacks are against the very idea of co-existence."

The speaker on the tape vows revenge against the United States for the killing.

The tape, broadcast today by two Arab satellite televison stations, Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, said "the door to a truce is open for three months," but that it could be extended.
The New York Times > International > U.S. Funding for Foes Enrages Venezuela's Chavez:
"Documents showing U.S. funding for Venezuelan opposition groups have prompted an increase in personal attacks by President Hugo Chavez against President Bush, according to a U.S. lawyer who helped unearth the evidence.

Eva Golinger, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based attorney who supports Chavez, said documents obtained through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act showed that around $4 million in U.S. Congress-allocated funds had been channeled to the groups before and after a 2002 coup that briefly toppled Chavez.

``These groups are being financed by a foreign government, a U.S. government that has taken an open stance against the Chavez administration, that supported the coup ... it's major meddling,'' Golinger told Reuters in an interview Wednesday."

Saturday, April 10, 2004

The New York Times > Washington > Transcript: Testimony of Condoleezza Rice Before 9/11 Commission:
"A transcript of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's testimony before the September 11 Commission on Thursday, April 8, as recorded by The New York Times: "

Friday, April 09, 2004 - Tax Sites,cat,1316,sortIdx,1,00.asp
Authorama - Public Domain Books:
", featuring completely free books from a variety of different authors, collected here for you to read online or offline. The books may have been published before, but not in this form, which I hope you find enjoyable to read and print."

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Claim vs. Fact: Rice's Q&A Testimony Before the 9/11 Commission - Center for American Progress:
"Planes as Weapons

CLAIM: 'I do not remember any reports to us, a kind of strategic warning, that planes might be used as weapons.' [responding to Kean]

FACT: Condoleezza Rice was the top National Security official with President Bush at the July 2001 G-8 summit in Genoa. There, 'U.S. officials were warned that Islamic terrorists might attempt to crash an airliner' into the summit, prompting officials to 'close the airspace over Genoa and station antiaircraft guns at the city's airport.' [Sources: Los Angeles Times, 9/27/01; White House release, 7/22/01]…"
Claim vs. Fact: Condoleezza Rice's Opening Statement - Center for American Progress:
"CLAIM: 'We decided immediately to continue pursuing the Clinton Administration's covert action authorities and other efforts to fight the network.'

FACT: Newsweek reported that 'In the months before 9/11, the U.S. Justice Department curtailed a highly classified program called 'Catcher's Mitt' to monitor al-Qaida suspects in the United States.' Additionally, AP reported 'though Predator drones spotted Osama bin Laden as many as three times in late 2000, the Bush administration did not fly the unmanned planes over Afghanistan during its first eight months,' thus terminating the reconnaissance missions started during the Clinton Administration. [Sources: Newsweek, 3/21/04; AP, 6/25/03]…"

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Downloaded History:
"While the country may be divided over the testimony before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, it is less divided when it comes to which testimony to listen to on the iPod., one of the Internet's best-known providers of spoken-word content, has made the hearings available for listeners to download - for free - and play on computers and portable audio players."
An Army of Debt | Anne-Marie Cusac | April 2004 Issue:
"Poor pay and economic strife are conditions the Reserves and National Guard share with others in the regular military. 'Lower-ranking enlisted people qualify for food stamps. It's not how we're used to thinking about government employees, but there it is,' says Kathleen Gilberd, co-chair of the Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild. 'Active duty pay has traditionally not been enough to help people get by.' Extreme financial crises set in when service people are deployed because they then have no opportunity to get a second job to supplement their income.

But Reservists and National Guard members are especially hard hit. 'The ones who do experience income loss, it's usually a significant income loss,' says Shirley Calhoun, spokeswoman for the National Military Family Association. Many have good-paying jobs in the civilian world. But in the military ranks, the same people may not yet have made officer, 'so they are at a lower pay level,' says Calhoun."
Bush's Odd Warfare State | Barbara Ehrenreich | April 2004 Issue:
"Here's one way our President proposes to 'support our troops': According to his 2005 budget, the extra pay our soldiers receive for serving in combat zones--about $150 a month--will no longer count against their food stamp eligibility. This budget provision, if approved, should bring true peace of mind to our men and women on the front lines. From now on, they can dodge bullets in Iraq with the happy assurance that their loved ones will not starve as a result of their bravery."
The Damage Done:
"Alan Jermaine Lewis
Machine gunner in the Army's 3rd Infantry Division. Wounded July 16, 2003, in Baghdad, when the Humvee he was driving hit a land mine.

I remember every detail about my legs. Every detail from the scars to the ingrown toenails to the birthmarks to the burn marks. I made it a habit, even before I joined the military, to cherish every part of my body, because I would always look at it like, 'What if this finger was gone, would I be able to function without it?' I don't know why. Maybe it was God's way of preparing me for what was going to happen."

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

"Interspersed among the junk mail and spam that fills our Internet e-mail boxes are dire warnings about devastating new viruses, Trojans that eat the heart out of your system, and malicious software that can steal the computer right off your desk. Added to that are messages about free money, children in trouble, and other items designed to grab you and get you to forward the message to everyone you know. Most all of these messages are hoaxes or chain letters. While hoaxes do not automatically infect systems like a virus or Trojan, they are still time consuming and costly to remove from all the systems where they exist. At CIAC, we find that we spend much more time de-bunking hoaxes than handling real virus and Trojan incidents. These pages describe some of the warnings, offers, and pleas for help that are filling our mailboxes, clogging our mailservers, and that generally do not have any basis in fact.…"
Urban Legends Reference Pages

Monday, April 05, 2004

A Heretical View of File Sharing:
"But what if the industry is wrong, and file sharing is not hurting record sales?

It might seem counterintuitive, but that is the conclusion reached by two economists who released a draft last week of the first study that makes a rigorous economic comparison of directly observed activity on file-sharing networks and music buying.

'Downloads have an effect on sales which is statistically indistinguishable from zero, despite rather precise estimates,' write its authors, Felix Oberholzer-Gee of the Harvard Business School and Koleman S. Strumpf of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "
con·cept: April 2004