The Militant Libertarian

I'm pissed off and I'm a libertarian. What else you wanna know?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

A crime they won't talk about

Sydney Morning Herald 3-2-07

America's long battle with racism has taken a nasty new twist on the mean
streets of Los Angeles. Peter Huck reports.

It was a Halloween fright fest that went horribly wrong for three young
women. Shortly after they left a "haunted house" in a middle class area of
Long Beach, south of Los Angeles, on October 31, a teenage mob set upon the

Even by the savage conditions that often prevail on Los Angeles's mean
streets, what followed was a vicious assault. The women were surrounded by a
group of kicking and punching teenagers. One victim suffered multiple
fractures to her face and needs surgery to reposition an eye that was
smashed in. Another was knocked unconscious by a skateboard. The third has a
bruised lung.

But for the intervention of a passer-by, the victims believe the mob -
estimated by witnesses as about 30 strong - would have killed them. Last
week, after an emotional trial fraught with legal histrionics and claims of
witness intimidation, eight girls, age 13 to 18, and one 18-year-old male
were found guilty of hate crimes, while a 12-year-old girl was acquitted.
Two other boys were subsequently charged and await trial.

Long Beach is used to violence. Gangs are endemic. Murder frequent. But the
Halloween case has had a big impact.

All the defendants were black. Their victims were white. Not only that, but
the defendants, who chanted "F--- white people!" and other racial epithets
during the melee, were charged with hate crimes, a charge traditionally seen
in white-on-black crimes.

"I think the case has the potential to have a much wider impact," says Tracy
Manzer, who covered the story for the Long Beach Press-Telegram. Few would

Yet apart from the Press-Telegram and, belatedly, the Los Angeles Times,
plus heated radio commentary, national press coverage was scant, partly due
to uncertainties about how to report a black-on-white hate crime. The Times
agonised that laws designed to prosecute hate crimes - defined by Congress
in 1992 as "motivated by hatred, bias or prejudice, based on the actual or
perceived race, colour, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, sexual
orientation or gender identity of another individual or group of
individuals" - might end up "punishing blacks".

This touched a deep nerve that goes back to America's still unresolved
racial baggage from the slavery and segregation eras. When white members of
a lacrosse team from Duke University in North Carolina were accused of
raping a black stripper at a party last year, the case attracted saturation
coverage and touched off a national firestorm. Seinfeld's Michael Richards
was castigated for saying "nigger" - so insulting it cannot be used in US
media - while ranting at hecklers in a Los Angeles club.

So the media's comparative silence on the Long Beach case has been
deafening. David Mills, a black screenwriter and former reporter for The
Washington Post, told the Romenesko blog: "You don't have to be a
card-carrying Klansman to point out that the LA Times surely would be
treating this story differently if three black women had been attacked by 30
white teenagers hurling words like 'F--- black people'."

Did the press back off because it was worried it might seem racist? "It's
like walking on eggshells," says Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a black columnist in
Los Angeles. He believes the media's inability to get a handle on a story
that reversed stereotypes is perhaps as important as fears of appearing
racist. And, as Manzer dryly points out: no one died.

Nonetheless, the Long Beach assaults reflect a disturbing trend. The Los
Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, which collects statistics,
says hate crimes rose 34 per cent during 2005 (the latest available figure).
"The intriguing thing is the hate crimes they're talking about are not the
old white-on-black, or bashing Jews, gays and Muslims," Hutchinson says.
"The majority of hate crimes in LA County are committed by Latinos and
blacks, on each other, or whites."

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Friday, February 09, 2007

What They Really Plan To Do...

The Heavy Stuff
Cobalt casings and more, below the decks.

My source-I'll call him "Ethan"-is dead, and now, having kept our agreement,
I'm finally free to write about this horror story.

Ethan had read about a recent decontamination drill that was conducted in
Denver. A transit train was filled with mock victims and decontamination
personnel. The article went on at length about the abomination of "dirty
bombs"-the impetus for this drill.

It reminded Ethan of the time he was in the Marine Corps, when he was
stationed on a big aircraft carrier. "Jarheads" were placed on these ships
for the exclusive purpose of guarding the nukes. That, and administration.

His job was to interview Marines in order to gather information about their
status, with mundane questions such as, "Do you want to continue your dental
and medical coverage for your dependents this year?" and "Do you want to
take your accumulated leave or cash it in?" Despite the innocuous nature of
his work, he was often below decks, where the weapons holds and security
personnel were. That required a Top Secret clearance.

"While that sounds super-secure," he told me, "it's really not. You have
ENTNAC clearance at the very bottom... Then you have Secret, which for me
covered my having access to everyone's SSNs, home addresses, medical
records, disciplinary records, etc. Then you have Top Secret, which you need
to be around anything nuclear.

"Then you have about ten dozen higher levels of security clearance. So, Top
Secret is relatively bottom-of-the-barrel stuff. Nonetheless, the NCIS
[Naval Criminal Investigative Service] does go to your hometown and spends
some time asking folks about you. And when the investigation is done, prior
to issuing the clearance, you are sworn not to disclose certain information
that the clearance exposes you to...ever in life."

Since he was in Administration, his work took place above decks. His office
was right down the hall from the Admiral's office. He also had the benefit
of having quarters right next to the officers' staterooms. Although his was
called a "duty barracks" and was not in fact a stateroom, it was the same
thing, minus the mahogany. Meaning he didn't have to sleep in steerage with
the rest of the jarheads.

Ethan was also right down the hall from the Officers Club, for field grade
and down. He had met an officer there who was "a cool guy" who regularly
invited him to the Officers Club to play cards, smoke cigars and engage in
conversation. This officer would be on duty for three days and off duty for
three days, completely disappearing. It turned out that he was the officer
in charge of the nuke weapons' holds.

One day, Ethan had to get some information from the officer about a TAD
(Temporary Additional Duty) request that he'd put in for. Ethan was leaving
the ship to go ashore and would not see him again, so he wanted to make sure
to get his request right, because he knew that his friend really wanted to
stay. While the officer was in the hold, he was not, under any
circumstances, allowed to leave. Ethan couldn't reach him on the phone, so
he went below.

"I'd been in most of the holds to talk to other Marines," he told me, "but
I'd never been to the one where this officer worked. I went through several
guarded vault-type doors and finally arrived at a duty station where, for
the fifth or sixth time, I was required to show my Top Secret clearance
credentials and enter the day's pass code onto a small computer console.
When I was cleared, I stated my business and was given a radiation suit-bit
of a space-suit lookin' thing."

He asked the Duty NCO (non-commissioned officer), "What the hell's this?"
Ethan had been around nukes before, but was never required to wear a suit.
The Duty NCO replied only that the officer "is in with the jackets."

"The what?"

"Need to know." This meant that his station orders forbade him to discuss
any details of his post.

Ethan suited up and walked into a triple- door sally-port, where he
progressed through each airlock via ten-inch-thick lead-lined doors. Past
the last door, he stepped into a massive room/warehouse, about 60 feet wide
by 100 feet in length, with a 20-foot ceiling-huge for battleship
storage-room standards. From the floor to the ceiling, thousands upon
thousands of what looked like missiles were stored. It was weird, because
he'd never seen missiles stored in such a way where they were on top of one

The officer came around a row of missiles, and Ethan asked him the question
he had for him about his TAD request, and then asked him, "What the hell
kind of missiles are these?"

"Those aren't missiles; they're cobalt jackets."

"What are they for?"

"Well, this is 'need to know,' so keep your mouth shut, but they are
designed to slide on over most of our conventional ordinance. They're made
out of radioactive cobalt, and when the bomb they're wrapped around
detonates, they contaminate everything in the blast zone and quite a bit

"So they turn regular ordinance into nukes?"

"No, not exactly. The cobalt doesn't detonate itself. It just scatters

"Well, what? Does the radiation kill people?"

"Not immediately. Cobalt jackets will not likely ever be used. They're for a
situation where the U.S. government is crumbling during a time of war, and
foreign takeover is imminent. We won't capitulate. We basically have a
scorched earth policy. If we are going to lose, we arm everything with
cobalt-and I mean everything; we have jackets at nearly every missile
magazine in the world, on land or at sea-and contaminate the world. If we
can't have it, nobody can.

"Just another example," Ethan told me, "of what treacherous creatures our
leadership is made of."

I emailed the above anecdote-with the subject line "Yikes!"-to no-nukes
activist Harvey Wasserman, author of The Last Energy War and co-author of
The Superpower of Peace. I asked him to comment in a couple of hundred

"'Yikes' is right," he responded. "This nightmare has now essentially come
true with the use of depleted uranium on anti-tank and other shells in
Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq. The military rationale is that the
super-hard depleted uranium helps shells penetrate tanks and other hard
structures. But the long-term effect is that the uranium vaporizes upon
explosion and contaminates everything for hundreds of yards, if not miles.

"Thus there are now whole regions that are heavily radioactive. Reports are
pouring in from all three countries about soaring cancer rates, infant death
rates and more. The mysterious 'Gulf War Syndrome' may have been caused by
radiation exposure suffered by U.S. troops. So, though 'off the books,' the
last three major U.S. attacks have in fact been nuclear in nature."

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Graft and Tyranny Not Limited to Bush's in Texas

Texas governor orders STD vaccine for all girls
Decision comes after maker of cervical cancer shot doubled lobbying efforts

AUSTIN, Texas - Bypassing the Legislature altogether, Republican Gov. Rick
Perry issued an order Friday making Texas the first state to require that
schoolgirls get vaccinated against the sexually transmitted virus that
causes cervical cancer.

By employing an executive order, Perry sidestepped opposition in the
Legislature from conservatives and parents’ rights groups who fear such a
requirement would condone premarital sex and interfere with the way Texans
raise their children.

Beginning in September 2008, girls entering the sixth grade — meaning,
generally, girls ages 11 and 12 — will have to receive Gardasil, Merck &
Co.’s new vaccine against strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV.

Perry also directed state health authorities to make the vaccine available
free to girls 9 to 18 who are uninsured or whose insurance does not cover
vaccines. In addition, he ordered that Medicaid offer Gardasil to women ages
19 to 21.

Perry, a conservative Christian who opposes abortion and stem-cell research
using embryonic cells, counts on the religious right for his political base.
But he has said the cervical cancer vaccine is no different from the one
that protects children against polio.

“The HPV vaccine provides us with an incredible opportunity to effectively
target and prevent cervical cancer,” Perry said.

Merck is bankrolling efforts to pass state laws across the country mandating
Gardasil for girls as young as 11 or 12. It doubled its lobbying budget in
Texas and has funneled money through Women in Government, an advocacy group
made up of female state legislators around the country.

Perry tied to Merck
Perry has ties to Merck and Women in Government. One of the drug company’s
three lobbyists in Texas is Mike Toomey, Perry’s former chief of staff. His
current chief of staff’s mother-in-law, Texas Republican state Rep. Dianne
White Delisi, is a state director for Women in Government.

The governor also received $6,000 from Merck’s political action committee
during his re-election campaign

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Spelling Bee

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