Sunday, November 15, 2009

Note Regarding the Blog

This blog is actually a set of posts from You Will Anyway that were created at tBlog when Blogger was problematic, from October 2004 to January 2005, at which time tBlog became problematic and Blogger cleaned up its act.  Earlier and later posts can of course be found at You Will Anyway

Thanks to all YWA readers for their part - whatever it is - in the strange thing we call reality.

And with that - following are the posts as they were written:

Friday, January 14, 2005

Sorry for the scare

This is becoming a chore, and I am seriously allergic to chores.

I don't know where YWA will eventually end up, but I'll figure something out.

In case you weren't around last evening, tblog went on the fritz big time. Nobody's posts who uses this host were available; tbloggers thought they'd lost all their work; I went crawling back to blogger. The sad news is there.

Since the tblog administrator seems to be MIA, I wasn't sure anyone would be here to get the site up and running again. And since I had been considering dealing with the annoying problems of blogger again, just to be able to access my archives (tblog suddenly seems to have them filed in an inaccessible black hole somewhere), I figure yesterday's scare is a signal to get out while the getting's good.

Although tblog is much easier on my nerves for blogging, blogger always seems to be available to the reader. I'll keep this account open as a backup. And I'll try to think of this as a good thing, and not a problem. Two homes for YWA - like having a summer home on Cape Cod. Or something.



Apologies and thanks for hanging out with me. It would be more fun in the islands.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Prince Harry redux

Is he crying out for attention, or what? He couldn't have timed his ignorant, thoughtless party dress any better.

The gaffe comes as Queen Elizabeth is due to host a reception for survivors of the Holocaust on January 27 before representing the nation at the Holocaust Memorial Day National Event, marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

[...]

His prior 'scandals' include allegations of drug use, alcohol abuse and cheating on tests.

[...]

Prince Harry is due to train at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst later this year.

And then off to Iraq?

Iraq crumbling

Minister of State Adnan Janabi, a key aide of interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, has resigned to protest being detained and handcuffed by US troops at a checkpoint outside the Green Zone, where government offices and the US embassy are barricaded. It was revealed last week that Janabi was giving envelopes with $100 in them to journalists who covered the press conferences of the Iraqi National Accord, a party mainly made up of ex-Baathists that probably has little popularity in Iraq.
Juan Cole post

Hey, just Armstronging it.

According to the Al Furat newspaper, 53 political parties and organizations as well as 30 individuals have asked their names to be dropped from the election lists in a bid to show their rejection of elections under US occupation.
Xinhuanet article

Two aides to Iraq's top Shi'ite leader Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani have been killed in separate attacks apparently aimed at inflaming sectarian conflict among Iraqis already divided on whether Jan. 30 polls should go ahead.
Reuters article

Gunmen killed the director of a Baghdad election center Thursday, another in a series of attacks targeting election officials and candidates as the vote set for January 30 approaches.

[...]

Also on Thursday, the Democratic Islamic Party announced Iraqi presidential candidate Mithal al-Alousi was targeted for the second time in two weeks.

CNN article

FBI just can't catch a break

A new FBI computer program designed to help agents share information to ward off terrorist attacks may have to be scrapped, the agency has concluded, forcing a further delay in a four-year, half-billion-dollar overhaul of its antiquated computer system. Since the attacks, Congress has given the FBI a blank check, allocating billions of dollars in additional funding. So far the overhaul has cost $581 million, and the software problems are expected to set off a debate over how well the bureau has been spending those dollars.

[...]

The bureau recently commissioned a series of independent studies to determine whether any part of the Virtual Case File software could be salvaged. Any decision to proceed with new software would add tens of millions of dollars to the development costs and render worthless much of a current $170-million contract.

Requests for proposals for new software could be sought this spring, the officials said. The bureau is no longer saying when the project, originally scheduled for completion by the end of 2003, might be finished.

article

Probably a wise decision.

Apparently the program was also considered by the Justice Department, which deemed it unusable for them as well.

The designer of the program is Science Applications International Corp (whose programs are used by Halliburton and the U.S. Navy), which has gotten a number of government contracts in Iraq, including one to "rebuild Iraq's mass media".

So, the FBI is having problems with the SAIC program, the Justice Department nixed it, and lo and behold, the Defense Department also had some problems with another program SAIC was to develop.

March 25th, 2004

Defense contractor Science Applications International Corp. has agreed to pay $484,500 to settle allegations it violated the False Claims Act when designing a computer system program for the U.S. Department of Defense.

[...]

The federal government alleged that SAIC repeatedly misrepresented its progress on the project.

[...]

The government also alleged it overpaid for SAIC's services and that SAIC's actions delayed the government's implementation of the system.

Corp Watch article

March 25th, 2004

In a scathing report yesterday, the Pentagon's inspector general sharply criticized contracts issued last year to San Diego's SAIC for reconstruction and humanitarian work in Iraq.

[...]

In particular, defense auditors highlighted problems with SAIC's work to create a free and independent Iraqi Media Network, or IMN, that was ostensibly to be modeled on Britain's BBC.

The Defense Contracting Command awarded the $15 million contract to SAIC on March 11, 2003, without an acquisition plan or competitive bidding. By the end of September, however, SAIC's costs under the contract had escalated to $82.3 million.

Sign on San Diego article

Read that last article. There are some real humdingers in it.

I wonder how this company keeps getting contracts.

SAIC has been awarded seven contracts by the Defense Department to provide experts and advisers on development of representative government in Iraq; restore and upgrade the country's broadcast media; and provide a group of Iraqi expatriates to assist coalition officials working in the country. The value of the contracts, which were obtained by the Center for Public Integrity under the Freedom of Information Act, was blacked out in copies provided by the Defense Department. A Pentagon FOIA officer said keeping the information secret "was an appropriate way to avoid substantial competitive harm to the contractor" and was "due to the sensitive nature of the Iraqi contracts."

[...]

The Pentagon has steadfastly refused to release any specific information on SAIC's media reconstruction work, which has been dubbed the Iraqi Media Network. What little information that has leaked out about the SAIC effort has come mainly from disgruntled employees and press freedom advocates, who have charged the company has bungled the job badly. One report said SAIC had ordered equipment that was incompatible with existing systems in Iraq. [...] There have also been widespread complaints from press freedom organizations about the SAIC effort, including charges of military censorship and cronyism.

[...]

David Kay, the former U.N. weapons inspector who was hired by the CIA to track down weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, is a former vice president of SAIC. Kay left SAIC, where he oversaw homeland security and counterterrorism work, in October 2002.

Christopher "Ryan" Henry left a senior position at SAIC in February 2003 to become principal deputy undersecretary of Defense for policy.

[...]

Executive vice president for Federal Business and director Duane P. Andrews served as assistant secretary of Defense from 1989 to 1993, when he joined SAIC.

There are more.

The Associated Press describes Science Applications International Inc. (SAIC) as "the most influential company most people have never heard of." The Asia Times calls it "the most mysterious and feared of the big 10 defense giants."

[...]

SAIC might best be described as "the-company-of-what's-ha ppening-now" in defense and intelligence. If it's important and it's happening, it's likely that SAIC has piece of the action. The company's ranks overflow with former or retired government person, many from the military and intelligence agencies. Much of SAIC's work is highly classified.

At any given point in time, SAIC's board of directors represents a Who's Who of former military and intelligence officials.

[...]

Long before the shooting began SAIC was already at work on Iraq.

[...]

[William] Owens also served as president, chief operating officer and vice chair of SAIC. And, Owens is a member of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's internal think-tank, the Defense Policy Board.

Veterans for Peace article (10/03)

SAIC is also a sub-contractor under Vinnell Corporation, another big defence contractor that has long been in charge of training for the Saudi National Guard, hired to reconstitute and train a new Iraqi army.
Peace Redding article

SAIC is also somehow involved in the electronic voting business.

"The American vote count is controlled by three major corporate players, Diebold, ESS, and Sequoia. There's a fourth, SAIC, Science Applications International Corporation, coming on strong. These companies, all four of them, are hard-wired into the Bush power structure and they have been given God knows how many millions of dollars by the Bush regime to complete a sweeping computerization of voting machines that were just used in the 2004 election.
Ratical article

Four main corporate entities are responsible for the proliferation and implementation of this "black box" voting technology: Diebold, ESS, Sequoia, and Science Applications International (SAIC). These ostensibly competitive businesses interconnect with one another and with major corporate sponsors, especially the famed Carlyle Group, of the Bush administration. Their people are his people, so to speak. And vice versa.
ReasonToFreedom article

SAIC was hired to investigate the reliability of Diebold machinery in Maryland.

Aviel Rubin, a professor at Johns Hopkins University's Information Security Institute, was asked to review the Diebold code accessible on the company's website and used by its machines. Rubin and his colleagues found numerous security issues with the code, including the use of a consumer version of Microsoft Access as the database in which votes were stored, a product that has few security measures. The report, which garnered front page news in a number of newspapers, was released only days after Maryland had purchased 11,000 Diebold DRE machines at a price of $55.6 million. Maryland then had the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) review Rubin's findings. SAIC verified Rubin's concerns, reporting that they had "identified several high risk vulnerabilities of the managerial, operational, and technical controls for [Diebold's] AccuVote-TS voting system." The SAIC report continued, "If these vulnerabilities are exploited, significant impact could occur on the accuracy, integrity, and availability of election results."
Couples Company article

I don't know if there's a competition thing going on there, or if there is anything at all untoward in it. A number of articles on the electronic voting fiasco hint that SAIC is involved in some shady way (and given what else we know, I guess that's a pretty safe bet).

It is something to be looked into. But not by me. In the immortal words of the Senate panel on new torture restrictions: too complex.

Congressional weenies wimp out again

At the urging of the White House, Congressional leaders scrapped a legislative measure last month that would have imposed new restrictions on the use of extreme interrogation measures by American intelligence officers, Congressional officials say.

[...]

The Senate had approved the new restrictions, by a 96-to-2 vote, as part of the intelligence reform legislation. They would have explicitly extended to intelligence officers a prohibition against torture or inhumane treatment, and would have required the C.I.A. as well as the Pentagon to report to Congress about the methods they were using.

But in intense closed-door negotiations, Congressional officials said, four senior members from the House and Senate deleted the restrictions from the final bill after the White House expressed opposition.

[...]

In interviews on Wednesday, both Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican negotiator, and Representative Jane Harman of California, a Democratic negotiator, said the lawmakers had ultimately decided that the question of whether to extend the restrictions to intelligence officers was too complex to be included in the legislation.

[...]

In addition to Ms. Collins and Ms. Harman, the lawmakers in the conference committee negotiations were Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, and Representative Peter Hoekstra, Republican of Michigan.

NY Times article

Yeah. Way to go, Senators. Too complex.

Goofball Lieberman was even one of two Senators who introduced the new restrictions in the first place.

Laugh or cry.

Defying Pentagon orders

A US National Guard unit has defied a Pentagon request that sought to stop television news crews filming six flag-draped soldiers' coffins arriving in Louisiana.

The Pentagon has barred US media from filming the coffins of US service members arriving at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

But the Louisiana National Guard allowed a CBS news crew on Wednesday to film the arrival of six soldiers' coffins at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Belle Chasse, near New Orleans, Louisiana.

[...]

The six soldiers, who had served in the Louisiana National Guard, all died last Thursday after their armoured vehicle struck a roadside bomb in Baghdad.

[...]

Despite the Pentagon request, Lieutenant-Colonel Pete Schneider, a spokesman for the Louisiana National Guard told CBS: "What we thought was, we're going to do what the family asked us to do."

Aljazeera article

This is not the Army Rumsfiend wishes he had, I'm sure.

Armstrong, Armstrong, Armstrong

I'm afraid Mr. Ho Williams is going to get all the nasty attention, and the pimps are going to skate free. As always.
What gives a delicious twist to the story is that it exposes Williams, a black conservative, as a homophobic sexual hypocrite and closet case who didn't practice what he was preaching. Williams was trotted out on CNN and other cable nets repeatedly last year during the gay marriage controversy to trash those who argued that marriage equality for same-sex lovers was a "civil right," an argument which Williams' pigmentation--in the eyes of TV news producers--gave him standing to make. As originally reported by New York magazine back in 1998:

"Armstrong Williams, the conservative talk-show host who instigated a firestorm last week by asking the senator from Mississippi whether homosexuality is a sin, is being sued for sexual harassment by a former employee who happens to be male. Last year, Stephen Gregory -- the former YMCA personal trainer whom Williams promoted to executive producer of his show -- alleged in his suit that the boss grabbed his buttocks and penis, tried to kiss him, and climbed into his hotel-room bed asking for "affection" while they were traveling together. Williams immediately held a press conference to denounce Gregory's allegations as "false, baseless, and completely without merit."

After the man who was suing him produced affidavits from other men on whom Williams had pressed his unwanted attentions, Williams was forced to admit his denial was a lie, and settled the lawsuit--which alleged 50 seperate incidents of rejected physical advances--for $200,000.
Direland post

But, let's not lose sight of the other part of this current equation.

"Perhaps the most fascinating Williams TV appearance took place in December 2003, the same month that he was first contracted by the government to receive his payoffs. At a time when no one in television news could get an interview with Dick Cheney, Mr. Williams, of all 'journalists,' was rewarded with an extended sit-down with the vice president for the Sinclair Broadcast Group, a nationwide owner of local stations affiliated with all the major networks. In that chat, Mr. Cheney criticized the press for its coverage of Halliburton and denounced 'cheap shot journalism' in which 'the press portray themselves as objective observers of the passing scene, when they obviously are not objective.'

"This is a scenario out of 'The Manchurian Candidate.' Here we find Mr. Cheney criticizing the press for a sin his own government was at that same moment signing up Mr. Williams to commit.


This administration excels at that.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

The waiting is over

When I originally posted on the Armstrong Williams scandal, I wrote that I couldn't wait to see what The Black Commentator had to say.


Speaking of tort reform

Business lobbyists and their political allies have created a perception that America’s legal system has run amok. They point the finger at consumer and patient lawsuits, which they imply are concocted by “greedy trial lawyers.” They argue that lawsuits have detrimental effects on society and the economy, and effectively suggest that people should turn the other cheek when their rights are violated. President Bush and Vice President Cheney mimic these erroneous claims and make attacks on the legal system a central part of their campaign stump speeches. “See, everybody is getting sued,” says the President, and the lawsuits are “junk and frivolous.”

But Public Citizen’s examination of public records finds that for the most part it is businesses rather than consumers and their lawyers doing the suing, and that businesses are far more often guilty of filing frivolous pleadings than the trial lawyers they demonize.

· Businesses file about four times as many lawsuits as individuals represented by trial lawyers.

[...]

· Businesses are far more likely than individual tort plaintiffs to be sanctioned for frivolous litigation.

[...]

Oddly enough, Vice President Cheney, who frequently attacks lawyers in his speeches, typifies the hardball litigation stance of corporate America. During Cheney’s five- year tenure as its CEO,the Halliburton corporation filed over 150 lawsuits, seeking money from othercorporations,individ uals, and insurance companies.

Frequent Filers: Corporate Hypocrisy in Accessing the Courts (pdf)

Well, what a surprise.

(Thanks to TJ for the snag.)

Okay....here we go, Iran

UN inspectors are preparing to visit an Iranian military base that Washington says may be part of a covert atomic arms effort.

However, the inspectors will have only partial access to the site, a senior Iranian official said on Thursday.
Aljazeera article

Inauguration events

From an email from Impeach Bush:

George W. Bush and his administration have been doing everything in their power to “sanitize” Pennsylvania Avenue on January 20th by trying to banish thousands of people holding Impeach Bush signs and banners. But they have not succeeded.

Not only will ImpeachBush members cover the parade route, but we will have the opportunity to sit in bleachers prominently arranged at 4th St. and Pennsylvania Ave. NW. We are joining with the antiwar movement, which has obtained a permit to build bleachers and hold a mass rally along the Inaugural route at 4th St. and Pennsylvania Ave. NW. This is the first time in Inaugural history that the antiwar movement has secured access to build bleachers along the parade route.

George W. Bush and the presidential motorcade will have to drive right in front of the bleachers and mass rally. Military family members whose loved ones are in Iraq, members of the Arab-American and Muslim communities, and people from all walks of life will hold signs reading “Bush Lied: Thousands Died,” “Impeach Bush,” “Save the Bill of Rights,” among other slogans.

Hm. I wonder.

Buses and car caravans are coming from more than fifty cities. People are flying from the West Coast to join us at 4th St. and Pennsylvania Ave. Volunteers are making signs, posters, handing out leaflets, answering phones and doing the one hundred and one other tasks to make this an effective mobilization.

If you are unable to come to Washington DC but want to help by making a much-needed contribution, we are in urgent needs of funds to cover the many costs. We have grown stronger only because of the continued generosity and commitment of ImpeachBush/VoteToImpeach .org members.

Oh, those wacky Brits

Our famous son can't take all the bad press here at YWA.

Prince Harry apologized Wednesday night after a tabloid newspaper printed a picture of him wearing a Nazi soldier's uniform to a costume party.

Early editions of Thursday's issue of "The Sun," showed Prince Harry - the second son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana - clutching a cigarette and a drink and wearing a swastika armband.

Asked to comment on the photo, the 20-year-old prince issued a statement saying he is "very sorry if I caused any offense or embarrassment to anyone... It was a poor choice of costume and I apologize."

The Queen's former assistant press secretary, Dickie Arbiter, said he was "astounded" to hear that "a member of the Royal Family, albeit a young member of the Royal Family, can be so incredibly stupid, given that he has had a first class education."
CBS article

Must be the poor breeding then.



Heil Harry: prince goose-steps out of line

Maybe another famous British son is doing better...

The son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher pleaded guilty on Thursday to a role in a foiled mercenary plot in west Africa under a plea bargain to avoid prison.

[...]

Thatcher, who has lived for the past eight years in South Africa, was arrested in Cape Town last Aug. 25 on charges of funding a foiled coup in Equatorial Guinea.

[...]

The Cape High Court agreed to a deal for Mark Thatcher to pay a fine of 3 million rand ($500,000) or face five years in jail in South Africa, in addition to a further 4-year prison sentence suspended for five years.

Prosecutors said Thatcher was free to leave South Africa.

"There is no price too high for me to pay to be reunited with my family and I am sure all of you who are husbands and fathers would agree with that," Thatcher said on the steps of the court after the hearing.

A mocking banner strung from the third storey of an office block opposite the courthouse read "Save me mummy." It was not clear who placed it. On the steps outside the court one man chanted "Shame on you, shame on you."

Thatcher also agreed to assist South African investigations into the plot against the government of Equatorial Guinea, a tiny country flush with newly-found oil wealth.

Reuters article

Punk and stoolie.

The plea bargain drew an angry reaction from the youth wing of South Africa's ruling African National Congress.

"This is indeed an abomination and miscarriage of justice," a league statement said, adding that Thatcher had got away with "nothing more than a slap in the wrist."

And he didn't even have to apologize.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.