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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New Pentagon data shows insurgent activity is on the rise in Afghanistan, a development that has led military leaders to order a review of current strategy in the country. In the first five months of the year, insurgent attacks have gotten more sophisticated and increased almost 40 percent in the eastern provinces, a region of Afghanistan that was once relatively calm and several senior Pentagon officials had frequently touted as an example of success.

While the rate of U.S. military deaths in Iraq keeps on decreasing, the opposite is true in Afghanistan, where 50 Americans have been killed in combat this year, compared with 28 who were killed in the first six months of 2007. Pentagon leaders want to increase the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan but can't do much about that desire until there's a significant withdrawal of forces from Iraq. Although many in the Pentagon once advocated that troop reductions in Iraq should be used as an opportunity to give servicemembers more time to rest and train stateside, military planners now agree that any drawdown from Iraq will lead to an increase of forces in Afghanistan.

Problem is that no one knows when there will be further withdrawals from Iraq. In the meantime, to streamline the operations in Afghanistan, the Pentagon will propose "in the coming weeks" that all U.S. and NATO forces report to the new four-star commander in Afghanistan.

The mounting international pressure against Zimbabwe's government and its plans to go on with the presidential election on Friday have annoyed and focused the world. The president of Senegal and the leader of South Africa's ruling party both said the election should be canceled and urged both sides to sit down and work out an agreement. Southern African leaders will meet in Swaziland today to discuss the growing crisis in Zimbabwe, but there's little reason to think that President Robert Mugabe will listen to their concerns.

Mugabe continued campaigning yesterday and mocked his former rival for dropping out and seeking refuge in the Dutch Embassy. "He is frightened, frightened of the people," Mugabe said. "These are voters. They won't do you any harm." The NYT highlights that even though South Africa's ruling party called for the vote to be postponed, it also insisted that foreign diplomats should resist the urge to intervene because it "will merely deepen the crisis." Meanwhile, there were hints that even as Mugabe dismissed international pressure, he was opening the door to talks with the opposition, but only after he wins the election and can negotiate from a position of strength.

There's little doubt that Mugabe will win Friday's election, but, just in case, the violence and intimidation continue. In a must-read Page One dispatch from Harare, the LAT reports that ruling party officials are telling voters at meetings that the ballot serial numbers will allow them to know who voted for the opposition and warned that those who don't vote for Mugabe will be killed. "They said, 'Even if you run away, we'll chop the heads off whoever you leave behind at your house. We don't care if it's your children or your grandchildren,' " recalled a 60-year-old woman who was forced to go to a meeting. One man who has been attending meetings every day for two weeks said the talk of serial numbers on ballots was being repeated daily. "They will launch another operation, called Operation Elimination, where people will be disappearing," he said. "They repeat the same message over and over."

An internal Justice Department report has found officials broke the law by favoring those who didn't have ties to the Democratic Party or liberal organizations for the department's highly coveted intern and honors jobs, which are meant to be awarded on merit. The report says that senior officials attempted to figure out political affiliations of applicants through Internet searches as well as a close analysis of their essays and résumés to look for any hint of liberal bias. Although ideology can be used as a factor for political appointees, federal law prohibits it from being considered for civil-service jobs. This is the first in what many think will be a series of reports that will show how the Justice Department was politicized under former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The current attorney general, Michael Mukasey, emphasized yesterday that it's "impermissible and unacceptable" to consider political affiliation when hiring career lawyers.

Congress is on the verge of approving legislation that could help thousands of homeowners avoid foreclosures. Lawmakers are eager to act as new data were released showing that home prices have plunged more than 15 percent over the past year. The "centerpiece" of the Senate's housing legislation would allow borrowers to refinance into a more affordable, fixed-rate loan that would come with a federal guarantee. The bill would also increase assistance for first-time buyers, and regulation on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would be strengthened. The WP reveals the "centerpiece" was initially suggested by lobbyists for major banks. Although the banks would get less money for the loan, it also would allow them to get rid of properties, and the taxpayer would have to foot the bill if there are defaults. Around Capitol Hill, the proposal was known as the "Credit Suisse plan" before it was incorporated into the legislation.

The state of Florida has reached a tentative agreement with U.S. Sugar to buy all of the company's assets for $1.75 billion in an attempt to restore the Everglades. Under the deal, U.S. Sugar would have six years to close up shop before Florida takes over its 187,000 acres of land that it wants to return to its natural state and protect from development.

Barack Obama has a 12-point lead over rival Sen. John McCain. In a two-way race, Obama received 49 percent while McCain got 37 percent. Interestingly enough, when the independent (Ralph Nader) and Libertarian (Bob Barr) candidates are added to the list, the margin increases to 48-33 because most of their support comes from independents who would have otherwise voted Republican. The LAT notes McCain suffers from "a passion gap" since many Republicans still aren't very excited about voting for him. Most of those who supported Sen. Hillary Clinton are now supporting Obama, though 11 percent have moved over to McCain's side.

The NYT reveals that when the Environmental Protection Agency reached the conclusion that greenhouse gases are pollutants and must be controlled, the White House refused to open the e-mail message. Instead, the White House began a furious lobbying campaign to get the document changed. The watered-down report to be released this week makes no conclusions and simply goes over the legal and financial implications of declaring greenhouse gases a pollutant.

Chrysler will announce tomorrow that everyone who buys a 2009 model will have the option of adding wireless Internet to their vehicle. In an ironic twist of fate, the announcement will come just a few days before drivers in California and Washington will be required to use a headset when talking on a cellular phone. But, in California at least, it's unclear whether the law prohibits surfing the Web while driving.

The NYT reports that a group in San Francisco will ask voters whether the name of a water treatment plant should be changed to George W. Bush Sewage Plant. Those who came up with the plan while in a bar want to put a vote on the November ballot to provide "an appropriate honor for a truly unique president."
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This day in 1658, Aurangzeb proclaimed himself emperor of the Moghuls in India.

The Decline of America begins in 1868 when the pantywaist U.S. Congress enacted legislation granting an eight-hour day to workers employed by the Federal government.

On this day in 1876, the 7th Cavalry was walloped at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.  Half the battle was the famous Custer's Last Stand, while the majority of the regiment survived under fire four miles away.A year to the day later, in Philadelphia, Alexander Graham Bell demonstated the telephone for Sir William Thomson (Baron Kelvin) and Emperor Pedro II of Brazil at the Centennial Exhibition.

Ragtime.  In 1906, Pittsburgh millionaire Harry Kendall Thaw, the son of coal and railroad baron William Thaw, shot and killed Stanford White. White, a prominent architect, had a tryst with the lovely Florence Evelyn Nesbit before she married Thaw. The shooting took place at the premeire of Mamzelle Champagne in New York.

In 1910, the Mann Act, sometimes known as the White Slave Traffic Act of 1910, made it a federal crime to convey or assist in transporting women across state lines for prostitution, debauchery, or "any other immoral purpose." Mencken immediately noticed this was revenge of the rural poor over those who could so afford it, and no mention was made of men raping women on the farm. Men convicted of this heinous (if vague) statute face up to five years and a $5,000 fine for each count. Penalties are doubled if the female is underage, but men and boys are apparently not covered. Fortunately, we now know, for the clergy.

It was this day in 1917 that the first American fighting troops landed in France. "Lafayette, we are here." Unfortunately, most of our soldiers underwent basic training in France and had to used French and British artillery and weapons.  And it was not until 1918 we made a difference.  We only really fought for six months. Our Navy made even less of a mark.

It was this day in 1950 that North Korea invaded South Korea to start the the Korean War.

In 1962, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the use of unofficial non-denominational prayer in public schools was unconstitutional.

And not enforced.  In 1970, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission handed down a ruling (35 FR 7732), making it illegal for radio stations to put telephone calls on the air without the permission of the person being called.

In 1973, Erskine Childers Jr. became president of Ireland after the retirement of Eamon De Valera. His father, who wrote The Riddle in the Sands, was both an Irish and British Patriot.  Sorta.  Very interesting man.  Google him.  That same day, White House Counsel John Dean admitted that U.S. President Nixon took part in the Watergate cover-up.

In 1981, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that male-only draft registration was constitutional.

The U.S. Congress approved $100 million in aid to the Contras fighting in Nicaragua, this day, in 1986.

A year later, Austrian President Kurt Waldheim visited Pope John Paul II at the Vatican. The meeting was controversial due to allegations that Waldheim had hidden his Nazi past.

On this day in 1996, outside the Khobar Towers near Dhahran, Saudi Arabia a truck bomb exploded. The bomb killed 19 Americans and injured over 500 Saudis and Americans.

In 1997, U.S. air pollution standards were significantly tightened by U.S. President Clinton.

I object.  In 1998, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that those infected with HIV are protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act. That same day, "Windows 98" was released to the public.

Finally, in 1999 Germany's parliament approved a national Holocaust memorial to be built in Berlin.

This day in 2000, U.S. and British researchers announced that they had completed a rough draft of a map of the genetic makeup of human beings. The project was 10 years old at the time of the announcement.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

This is the neo-con and Bushie revealing himself.  Karl Rove on Obama:"Even if you never met him, you know this guy. He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by." That's all it's been, back to the Whitewater investigations: simple sexual jealousy and revenge of the pudgy nerds.  

Here in Boulder the Damned, the Daily Camera and its ramora, the Colorado Daily (same owner) crash down on the candidate for State Senate who's most likely to feel no debt to them: Cindy Carlisle. Her opponent, indistinguishable from a Republican in past or policy positions - that being the real reason he was obliterated in his bid for the Governor's office to an actual Republican - is attempting to out endorse her with the murmered detritus of the Boulder's ancient regime of crypto-Repubs. This includes some of the Regents, who otherwise sense retribution from the all male and football lovin' world if after all the well deserved hell CU has undergone in the last few years they cannot get satisfaction in seeing Carlisle defeated for the first time. Its the Obama year, and she's the one for it.

The United Nations Security Council is finally condemning the "campaign of violence" that has targeted supporters of Zimbabwe's opposition and said it would be "impossible for a free and fair election to take place" as scheduled. The move came after opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai sought refuge at the Dutch Embassy in Harare and police officers raided the opposition party headquarters and arrested 60 people. Robert Mugabe needs to be shot.

The United Nations had largely remained on the sidelines, but yesterday the Security Council took its first formal action on Zimbabwe's crisis and called on the government to allow opposition rallies and liberate political prisoners. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon went even further and called on Mugabe's government to postpone the runoff election, saying that it "would lack all legitimacy" if it goes on as scheduled. Of course, Mugabe has shown he doesn't really care about international opinion, so it's unlikely that this alone will change anything.

Tsvangirai dropped out of Friday's runoff election on Sunday, but the violence and intimidation campaign by loyalists of President Robert Mugabe continued unabated yesterday. The NYT talks to opposition officials who say they knew a raid was coming, so most of the 1,500 people who had sought refuge in their Harare headquarters quickly fled, which meant that by the time the police arrived "only a few dozen of the most helpless people, many of them wounded, were left." The WSJ has a telling anecdote from a young woman who was stopped by a group of thugs on her way to work and forced to attend a 10-hour pro-government rally instead, illustrating how the intimidation campaign doesn't only affect those involved in politics. While Mugabe is increasingly facing criticism from other leaders in the region, the president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, has remained largely silent while trying to get members of the opposition and ruling parties to sit down and negotiate. Mbeki is kind of a sleaze himself, given his HIV bag of misinformation he's still trying to sell.

On the NYT's opinion page, Peter Godwin writes that the "international community has no choice but to delegitimize Mr. Mugabe's regime." This wouldn't be necessary if Mbeki decided to actually do something about the deepening crisis. But if he won't, the international community has a golden opportunity to apply pressure with the World Cup that will be held in South Africa in 2010. "Perhaps it's time to share the Zimbabweans' pain, to help persuade Mr. Mbeki to bear down on its source by threatening to grab the world's soccer ball and take our games elsewhere."

In a piece headlined "The Bush Doctrine Is Relevant Again," the WSJ's Bret Stephens predicts Tsvangirai will win the Nobel Peace Prize and notes that "Zimbabwe is now another spot on the map of the civilized world's troubled conscience," joining the likes of Burma and Darfur. And, just as in those other troubled spots, nothing in Zimbabwe will change unless Mugabe is removed by force. Except the Bush Doctrine in theory has proven different in fact, where all it means is that troops are sent, people are killed, and nothing much new occurs except the United States picks up the bill.

The WSJ has a newly released Pentagon report that calls Iran the "greatest long-term threat to Iraqi security." The report was largely positive, noting that violence is at its lowest levels in four years and praising the Iraqi prime minister for cracking down on Shiite militias. Contrasting the Pentagon's largely positive report on Iraq, the Government Accountability Office released its own report that has a decidedly less rosy look at the situation on the ground. The WP says that "the two reports seemed to assess wholly different realities" and notes that the GAO didn't mention Iran once in its report. The GAO said the way the Bush administration chooses to measure progress in Iraq doesn't tell the full story, many of the president's goals haven't been reached, and there is no clear strategy for how U.S. troops will proceed after the "surge" ends. Although the GAO acknowledged there has been a decrease in violence in Iraq, it also noted that the administration often uses misleading and exaggerated figures to show progress. The government auditors say a mere 10 percent of Iraq's security forces can operate without assistance from the United States.

Yesterday, the WP looked into the failure of the U.S.-funded TV network in the Middle East, and today it examines how al-Qaida has been highly successful in its propaganda efforts during the digital age. It's truly a study in contrasts as al-Qaida's top leadership has been able to get their message to a massive audience through as-Sahab, the terrorist network's propaganda studio. U.S. officials say they might have been able to disrupt the propaganda operations in the past, but now security is so airtight that it's practically impossible to cause anything more than temporary damage. Because the propaganda is distributed through a network of decentralized Web sites, arresting individual members of the network wouldn't stop the transmission of the information.

Rising food and gas prices are hurting people's abilities to keep up with basic bills as utilities are reporting that they're disconnecting many more customers than last year. "We're seeing a record number of shutoffs," the head of the National Energy Assistance Directors' Association said. THAT ain't good news, and bodes poorly.

The Washington Post takes a look at how consumers are facing gas surcharges in a variety of industries. There's no regulation to limit how high a surcharge can go, so they're often all over the map. "It's almost impossible to tell if they're fair," the executive director of the Consumer Federation of America said. "It makes it very difficult for consumers to comparison-shop and understand the full price of the products that they're buying."

Broadcom co-founder Henry Samueli pled guilty to lying to the Securities and Exchange Commission as the regulator investigated stock-option backdating at the chip-making firm.

Congressional investigators have discovered that the American ambassador to Albania knew evidence of the Chinese origins of ammunition was removed before it was shipped by a U.S. contractor to Afghanistan. The ambassador apparently supported a plan by the Albanian defense minister to hide boxes of the Chinese ammunition from a NYT reporter, even though U.S. law prohibits trading in Chinese arms. According to the whistleblower, "the ambassador agreed that this would alleviate the suspicion of wrongdoing." On Friday, the 22-year-old president of the contractor, AEY Inc., and three others were charged with selling Chinese ammunition that they said was Albanian.

No coverage that a federal appeals court ruled that a prisoner who has been held in Guantanamo for six years should be released, transferred, or given a new military hearing. The court ruled that Huzaifa Parhat, one of 17 ethnic Chinese Uighurs who are being held in Guantanamo, was inappropriately labeled as an enemy combatant. It marks the first time a Guantanamo detainee has successfully challenged his designation as an enemy combatant.

A poll of religious attitudes in the United States found 92 percent of Americans believe in God or a universal spirit and 58 percent say they pray at least once a day. But, we're to believe, most aren't convinced their religion is the only one that can lead to salvation, and the overwhelming majority believe there is more than one way to interpret a religion's teachings. But the one common factor is the belief in God or a higher power, which is shared even by 21 percent of those who said they are atheists. "Americans believe in everything," a sociologist said. "It's a spiritual salad bar." We also lie a lot.

In 1314, this day, Scottish forces led by Robert the Bruce won over Edward II of England at the Battle of Bannockburn in Scotland. "You bled with Wallace.  Will ye bleed with me?"

In 1374, a sudden outbreak of Dancing Mania (aka "St. John's Dance") sent people into the streets of Aix-la-Chapelle, Prussia, where they experience terrible hallucinations and begin to jump and twitch uncontrollably until they collapse from exhaustion. Many of the sufferers are afflicted with frothing at the mouth, diabolical screaming, and sexual frenzy. The phenomenon lasts well into the month of July. Nowadays, ergot madness is suspected as being the ultimate cause of the disorder. That, and live in 14th century Prussia bit the big one.

In 1497, Italian explorer John Cabot, sailing in the service of Henry VII of England, landed in North America on what is now Newfoundland and claimed it.  He was given change for handing North America to the crown. Twelve years later, the more grateful Henry VIII was crowned King of England, but nothing more for Cabot's family.

In 1675, King Philip's War began when Indians massacre colonists at Swansee, a Plymouth colony. This war nearly saw all Brits killed in New England, a scenario that would have inspired much more anti-European violence except for the fact Indians hated each other more.

In 1910, this day, the Japanese army invaded Korea. Hell ensued, and Koreans hate Japan more than China, which is saying something.

In 1948, the Soviet Union began the Berlin Blockade.

This day in 1964, the Federal Trade Commission announced that starting in 1965, cigarette manufactures would be required to include warnings on their packaging about the harmful effects of smoking.

In 1970, the U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly to repeal the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. But they still allow wars without Congressional Declaration, as law requires.

In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that juries, not judges, must make the decision to give a convicted killer the death penalty. That day, a painting from Monet's Waterlilies series sold for $20.2 million. I'm pretty sure this is the one above, done in 1908, but there are so many.  The one on the cover is stunning.  Hell, they all are. Rich enough, I'd have no issue with spending that amount for a Monet.

2003 - In Paris, France, manuscripts by novelist Georges Simenon brought in $325,579. The original manuscript of "La Mort de Belle" raised $81,705.

Monday, June 23, 2008

"I've unfortunately been to too many disasters as president." Something you share with all of us, Mr. President, since your election. People stupidly elected you and deserved it all. So when GOP members looking for an easy scapegoat say "Republicans say [Karl] Rove is the architect....He's the architect of our demise" they're being sleazy.  Bush sold the Reagan image of the third rates as our heroes, and they are not. I hope that lesson needs no repeating.

Comedian George Carlin died of heart failure yesterday. Throughout his career, Carlin tried to push boundaries and was probably best-known for his routine called "The Seven Words You Can Never Say on TV," which exemplified how he came to be known as "the dean of counterculture comedians." The "Seven Words" routine got him arrested in 1972 and even led to a 1978 Supreme Court ruling that said the government has the power to police offensive language if children might be listening. Carlin wasn't as outside the mainstream as he's credited.  His genius was in creating that illusion and making folks believe it, and a lot of Americans really like to play the rebel, but shudder from paying the penalty.  Carlin knew us clear through.

"I think it is the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately," Carlin once said. He was 71 and had a history of heart trouble.  He was one of the greats, and he is missed every time art chickens out.  

Africa gets the big story space, but it's bad news as ever. First, though, I want to point out that my once friend and roommate Jan Mitchell is running a pretty nifty charity for kids in Africa, and she took the photo on the cover.   The little boy was defective at birth and therefore evil and left to die but was saved.  He's learning to walk, and that tongue and determination will make the difference.  Kindness, International, people.

Now to the horror.

Zimbabwe's opposition leader announced that he would pull out of the presidential runoff election scheduled for Friday due to the rising levels of violence. Morgan Tsvangirai said he could no longer ask his supporters to risk their lives "for the sake of power." Violence has been escalating as President Robert Mugabe's supporters have been stepping up their efforts to kill and intimidate opposition activists under the ruling party's new slogan: "WW—Win or War." The opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, says that at least 86 of its supporters have been killed and thousands more have been injured. "We will not be part of that war," Tsvangirai said.

The LAT talked to an official from Zimbabwe's ruling party who made it clear that just because Tsvangirai plans to drop out of the election (he has to put it in writing to make it official) doesn't mean the violence will automatically end and warned that the crackdown would intensify if opposition supporters decide to protest. The NYT notes that Tsvangirai's decision "seems intended to force Zimbabwe's neighbors to take a stand." There is a growing sense of frustration inside Zimabawe's opposition about the reluctance of South Africa, along with other African nations, to condemn Mugabe's tactics.

The WSJ says that although it's evident that there's "growing international impatience with the Mugabe regime," it's unclear whether it "would translate into any concrete steps." The United States and Britain want the United Nations Security Council to discuss the issue, a move South Africa has long opposed. The WSJ points out the opposition wants foreign leaders to support a transitional government that would take over Zimbabwe until fair elections can be held. But, of course, it's quite unlikely that Mugabe would agree to such a plan, seeing as though he has made it clear that he would not hand power to the opposition, no matter the results of the election.

The WP fronts a look at al-Hurra, the Arab-language television network that was founded by the Bush administration to improve the image of the United States in the Middle East and promote democracy. Around $350 million in taxpayer money has been plunged into a project that has been, for all intents and purposes, a flop. Al-Hurra has been plagued with problems from the start, partly due to the fact that many of its top executives had no experience in the TV business and couldn't speak Arabic. Think about that.

But ultimately, critics say the whole idea that a network could play the same role as Radio Free Europe did during the Cold War was ill-conceived. As opposed to those who lived behind the Iron Curtain, residents of the Arab world have plenty of choices due to the high proliferation of satellite dishes, and al-Hurra's programming, which is widely described as mediocre, has never found an audience. Coincidentally (or not?), ProPublica and 60 Minutes released the extensive results of a joint investigation into al-Hurra and its partner radio station last night and say that the network's "four years of operation have been marked by a string of broadcast disasters that government officials believe are as negative as anything aired by Al Jazeera." Another Bush triumph.

USA Today says there's been an almost 90 percent decrease in deaths caused by roadside bomb attacks in Iraq. Military leaders say this is due to a variety of factors, including new armored vehicles, more assistance from Iraqi security forces, and enhanced methods of surveillance.

Unsurprisingly, Barack Obama wants to get a record number of black voters to go to the polls in November as part of his strategy to win five key battleground states. Aides have identified "a gold mine" of new voters and will target them with the help of Obama's deep pockets and sophisticated techniques that were critical to Bush's victories in several crucial swing states. But strategists insist he has to play a delicate balancing act in order to avoid the appearance that he's "exploiting race or running solely as a black candidate," which could hurt his chances with white, working-class voters who didn't support him in the primaries.

The NYT looks at Obama's close ties to domestic ethanol producers. The presumptive nominee represents the country's second largest corn-producing state, so it's hardly a secret that he's a big supporter of ethanol as an alternative fuel. Today, the NYT notes that several of his advisers and biggest supporters have close ties to the ethanol industry. Obama's campaign insists the presumptive nominee's views have nothing to do with where he's from or any pressure from special interests. But the NYT points out that the presumptive nominee is against removing the tariffs on Brazilian ethanol that is made from sugar cane even though it is much more efficient. Instead, Obama favors awarding subsidies to farmers and imposing the tax on imports so the United States can build "energy independence."

In history, this day in 1757, the remarkable Robert Clive defeated the Indians at Plassey and won control of Bengal. With a few hundred men.  Learning how to play people against each other was a British tool, and it worked well.

In 1934, Italy gained the right to colonize Albania after defeating the country.

In 1964, Henry Cabot Lodge resigned as the U.S. envoy to Vietnam and was succeeded by Maxwell Taylor. He later was Goldwater's VP candidate.

This day in 1964, a burned car of three civil rights workers was found, prompting the FBI to begin a search. The young men had been missing since June 21, and their bodies were found on August 4.

Treason.  In 1972, this day, President Nixon and White House chief of staff H.R. Haldeman discussed a plan to use the CIA to obstruct the FBI's Watergate investigation. That's why, kids.

The remarkable Betty Shabazz, the widow of Malcolm X, died in New York of burns suffered in a fire set by her 12-year old grandson. She was 61 at her passing in 1997.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

More great CU football news as two former students and players are arrested for armed robberies here in Boulder.  They hark back to the former coach, of course, but it still looks bad. The New York Times has the most detailed look inside the CIA's interrogation program ever released. They tell the story of Deuce Martinez, an unlikely CIA interrogator who helped break al-Qaida masterminds Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. It details the role of secret Polish prisons, "enhanced interrogation techniques," and counter-narcotics technology in the post-9/11 scramble to prevent new attacks. The piece is agnostic on the utility of water-boarding and says the CIA determined the location for overseas prisons "based largely on which foreign intelligence officials were most accommodating."

The Washington Post says three in 10 Americans are admittedly racist—but a higher percentage is ageist. A WP/ABC poll says 30 percent of white Americans and 34 percent of black Americans admit they're racist, which I believe proves more whites lie. The paper says that this presents a challenge for Barack Obama, but it notes that about twice as many people have qualms about John McCain's age.

The Los Angeles Times leads with a Friedmanesque look at how the falling dollar has affected people across the globe. The dollar is rearranging the global economy as it falls. Companies that rely on exports to the U.S., like Chinese T-shirt makers and Indian outsourcers, are feeling the pinch. The LAT has a wide-ranging look at the misery—plus a cool interactive feature.

There's a new threat to the financial system. As the economy weakens, consumers are failing to repay their business and car loans in record numbers—posing risks to smaller, regional banks that stayed out of subprime lending.

The NYT says the Midwest flooding wouldn't be so bad if we'd acted on a 1994 Clinton administration report. After a devastating 1993 flood, it recommended replacing the administrative patchwork that governs Mississippi River levees with oversight by the Army Corps of Engineers. That never happened, and we're paying the price. The LAT fronts a look at the flooding's economic impact. Some analysts think it will be as bad as 1993 and contribute to the global food crisis. But others think flooded farms will rebound quickly if the next few months remain dry.

Of course, we won't starve in our 'crisis.' The NYT reports on an agriculture crisis in India. The country could be the world's second-largest food exporter, but poor policy choices and systematic underinvestment have turned it into something of a bread-basketcase.

Barack Obama's plan to mount a massive national campaign, something John Kerry couldn't do in 2004 because he didn't have enough money, is making the GOP very, very nervous. By the end of June, Obama will have paid staff members in all 50 states—and his ad campaign will grow "well beyond" his current 18-state buy.

Ah, hah! The LAT asks questions about Cindy McCain's beer empire. She's the chairwoman and majority private stockholder of a major beer wholesaler that often lobbies the government, and she hasn't explained how she'd solve the conflict of interest as First Lady.

More Third World horror. Robert Mugabe's election crackdown before the runoff in Zimbabwe gets needed coverage to dubious effect.. His party insists it's a war, not an election, in which "all state resources at our disposal" will be employed in "the final battle for total control." They've launched a killing spree against opposition activists and they're herding voters into "re-education" meetings. The LAT goes inside with rough casualty numbers.

Good. Britain has set up a special office to stop Pakistani parents in the U.K. from forcing their children into arranged marriages. It's common for traditional parents to send their kids to Pakistan, where they're married off, often literally at gunpoint. But Her Majesty's Government thinks the practice is a human-rights offense, and it's interceding on behalf of the kids.

In history, this day in 1611, English explorer Henry Hudson, his son and several other people were set adrift in present-day Hudson Bay by mutineers. Never seen again, although Indians accepted children easy enough.

This day in 1772, slavery was outlawed in England.

In 1870, the U.S. Congress created the Department of Justice. Finally.

This day in 1933, Germany became a one political party country when Hitler banned parties other than the Nazis.

This day in 1942, a Japanese submarine shelled Fort Stevens at the mouth of the Columbia River.

Remembering the Bonus Army, in 1944 Roosevelt signed the "GI Bill of Rights" to provide broad benefits for veterans of the war. A year to the day later, the battle for Okinawa officially ended after 81 days.

In 1964, apparently after someone read it, the U.S. Supreme Court voted that Henry Miller’s book, "Tropic of Cancer", could not be banned.

In 1970, Nixon signed the 26th amendment, lowering the voting age to 18.

In 1977, John N. Mitchell became the first former U.S. Attorney General to go to prison as he began serving a sentence for his role in the Watergate cover-up. He served 19 months.

In 1978, James W. Christy and Robert S. Harrington discovered the only known moon of Pluto. The moon is named Charon, but Pluto is inexplicably no longer a planet, despite a moon, rotation, being round.

This day in 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that persons with remediable handicaps cannot claim discrimination in employment under the Americans with Disability Act.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

This is the longest day of the year, an event to celebrate, and people are.  Apparantly native Americans are at long last allowed to do the Sundance again, which isn't necessarily as bloody as the Richard Harris movie depicted, nor as drug laden as others suggest.  It's a fertility festival world wide, so go for it.  

Unless you're teenagers in Glocester.  Don't, in that case.  Shape up.

If you need inspiration, view the words of our Education President, emoting for the ages to Arabs on Al Arabiya TV, informing the world what advice he'd give the next President.  It is: "Take the Middle East seriously, because that's the center of - that's the place where people get so despondent and despair that they're willing to come and take lives of U.S. citizens." A moment of silence for the fate of the translators, please.  Dubya: fucking us up one sentence at a time.

The New York Times has an analysis of the impressive, yet exceptionally fragile, security gains made in Iraq over the past six months. Especially given that people are just waiting for us to leave.  When we do not, it's all back. The paper wonders "What's going right? And can it last?" On the surface it looks like a military victory: The Iraqi army has quashed Shiite militias in a number of hot spots, driving violence to its lowest level in more than four years. But the article proceeds to elaborate the more unusual factors propping up the peace, including high recruitment for the Iraqi army, high oil revenues fending off inflation, tenuous deals with militias (including paying some insurgents to help keep the peace), and some very convenient assistance by American special forces. The WP is a little more bullish in its assessment of calm on the streets in Basra. The most striking element is a sense of guarded optimism in the quotes from Iraqis.

The House passed an electronic surveillance bill that would all but certainly put an end to legal challenges pending against telecommunication companies who were involved in warrantless wiretaps. The WSJ says many Democrats object to the FISA measure, but support from conservative Democrats and Republicans gave it enough votes to pass the House Friday. The paper says the leadership put the bill to a vote in order to protect Democrats in vulnerable districts. Enactment now seems inevitable, as the Senate takes up the bill next week. Barack Obama and John McCain each say they'll vote for the bill, which will be an interesting event, given that the Kos Krowd and the lefty blogosphere is so against this yet worships Obama.

The Burmese government denied several offers of foreign aid for cyclone victims out of what can politely be called "xenophobia." The government is helping its own opposition, however, as Burmese people looking to aid each other are learning to band together, solve their own problems and develop a sense of community activism. Of course, the junta is opposed to these groups as well. In one town, people distributing food are ordered to stop because a local general wants to be seen as the first to give out aid. Stories about people helping disaster victims are one thing—but the fact that the Burmese are trying to feed their starving countrymen over the objections of armed thugs takes the story to another level of inspiration. Meanwhile, WSJ runs a piece on Yangon, the country's old capital city, which the paper now calls a "ramshackle city of fear."

The Los Angeles Times leads with worrisome local unemployment reports.  High unemployment in California doesn't bode well for the rest of the country, and the state's unemployment rate rose to 6.8 percent in May, the fifth-highest rate in the nation. One analyst is quoted saying the state is already in a recession.

Recent declines in homeowning have all but erased the gains made earlier in the decade. The decline in homeowning since 2005 amounts to 1.3 percent of all households, which sounds small, but the paper assures us is the biggest drop in 20 years.

All of which inspires the WP to give a sobering assessment of  budget headaches the next president will face. Campaign promises being made today would only make the situation worse if they were enacted. The story starts off with a laundry list of current financial woes, many of which will get much, much worse over time, no matter what the next president does. The paper argues, however, that in the face of declining revenues and spiraling entitlement costs, both candidates' tax policies would swell the national debt and leave little funding for broad initiatives like a national health care overhaul. The paper finds Obama's tax policy less costly but reasons that McCain would be more inclined to cut spending.

The White House pursued its Guantanamo Bay detainee policy even though it knew there was a good chance the Supreme Court would overturn it, says the WP. The administration knew it would have a better chance of surviving a legal challenge if the detainee system were done in a legislative framework, the paper says, but declined to get Congress involved. Sources say officials pursued the policy unilaterally as part of a strategy to strengthen the executive branch.

The NYT writes about Lee Atwater flunkie Floyd Brown, one of the guys who produced the Willie Horton ad in 1988. Brown is now trying to raise money to go after Obama, but he's having a hard time attracting donors. The paper says this is partly because of legal changes to the limits of "527" or issue-advocacy organizations like the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group that helped defeat Sen. John Kerry in 2004.

The WP covers the much-ballyhooed discovery of ice on Mars. Of course, the paper notes that even if the white substance found by the Phoenix lander is ice, it doesn't answer the really big question of whether or not Mars ever sustained life.

An estimated 4 million wild hogs are raising hell in 37 states— destroying property to the tune of $800 million a year, says the NYT. For some states, the solution has been encouraging private hunters to go after the porcine troublemakers "with no weapon restrictions." But bagging a wild pig is a lot tougher than cornering Wilbur. For some hunters, the challenge of tracking something that can outsmart you is precisely the point. Outsmart and eat you.

In history, this day in 1404, Owen Glendower established a Welsh Parliament at Machynlleth and was crowned Prince of Wales.

Apparently, nothing else happened this day till 1788, when the U.S. Constitution went into effect after New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify it.

On this day in 1941, German troops entered Russia on a front from the Arctic to Black Sea.

It was in 1954 that the American Cancer Society reported significantly higher death rates among cigarette smokers than among non-smokers.  Nobody, I mean nobody, really admitted it.

It was this day in 1964 that three civil rights workers disappeared in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Their bodies were found on August 4, 1964 in an earthen dam. Eight Ku Klux Klan members later went to federal prison on conspiracy charges.

In 1981, "Raiders of the Lost Ark" opened.  The last Indiana Jones movie sucked big time.

In 2004, SpaceShipOne, designed by Burt Rutan and piloted by Mike Melvill, reached 328,491 feet above Earth in a 90 minute flight. The height is about 400 feet above the distance scientists consider to be the boundary of space.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Been with family the last few days and fallen behind.  Mia culpa, of course.  

House and Senate leaders have reached an agreement on surveillance legislation. If approved, and everyone expects it will be, the New York Times says it "would be the most significant revision of surveillance law in 30 years." Annoyingly, the big winner is President Bush. After battling with Democrats on the issue for months, the president got pretty much everything he wanted. "The White House got a better deal than they even hoped to get," Republican Sen. Christopher Bond said. Democratic leaders insisted that the deal is a compromise but were criticized by some of their own. Sen. Russ Feingold said the deal "is a capitulation."

One of the biggest disagreements in the surveillance debate involved whether to grant immunity to telecommunications companies that are facing dozens of lawsuits. Under the new agreement, the companies could get the lawsuits dismissed if they show a judge written assurances from the government that their cooperation with the warrantless surveillance was legal. Everyone agrees this is much the same as simply granting immunity because, as an ACLU lobbyist said, the companies "have to produce a piece of paper we already know exists." The measure also effectively expands the government's power to monitor foreign communications by allowing broad warrants targeting large groups of people at once. The government would have to get individual warrants to eavesdrop on Americans but could carry out warrantless surveillance for a week in emergency circumstances.  

Democratic leaders said the most important part of the compromise agreement involves the "exclusivity" language that spells out the surveillance law, which is the only legal way for the government to carry out its eavesdropping operations. Democrats insist the language would prevent the White House from getting around the law.

The WSJ thinks the agreement "was driven largely by the realities of election-year politics" as Democrats facing re-election in more conservative parts of the country worried about appearing soft on national security. Obama is now in the unenviable position of having to decide whether to anger the Democratic base by supporting the measure or risk losing the support of independent voters if he speaks up against it. Ultimately, "the surveillance powers may end up being a rare survivor of the administration's post-9/11 redrawing of national-security law."

Barack Obama has gone back on his pledge and reject public financing for the general election campaign, which will allow him to raise and spend an unlimited amount of money in the battle for the White House. It is impressive though, as a show of confidence. By turning down $84.1 million in federal money, Obama became the first major party candidate to reject public funds since the system was instituted in 1976. This is of great interest among those who fear the naivite of his supporters, who actually believe he can be something so different and able to function.  Also, the silence speaks to great hypocrisy, but McCain is so aswamp in it you cannot expect this to be an attack route for him.

Obama's decision to opt out of the public financing system wasn't entirely unexpected, but it immediately brought criticism from Republicans who accused the presumptive Democratic nominee of going back on an earlier pledge to accept public money. "This is a big, big deal," Sen. John McCain said before confirming that he would accept public financing.

The strategic advantages to Obama are clear as he is now "positioned to mount a general-election campaign on a scale the nation has never seen," notes the LAT. Obama has already has already raised hundreds of millions of dollars and as if to underscore his financial advantage, the presumptive nominee launched his first television advertisement of the general election that will air in 18 states, including several that have consistently voted for the Republican candidate in the past. The LAT notes that while Obama has always emphasized he intends to redraw the electoral map, with so much money on hand he could also choose to plunge millions into states he doesn't even expect to win simply to distract McCain and force him "to defend that territory."

Earlier in the campaign, Obama had pledged to "pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve the publicly financed system." Obama's campaign said they tried to reach an agreement with the Republican campaign, but McCain's aides said there were never any serious discussions on the issue. Yesterday, Obama justified his decision by saying that Republicans would spend millions of dollars in "smears and attacks." But the NYT highlights that there is no evidence so far that "Republicans will have the advantage when it comes to support from independent groups." A Republican strategist said Obama is "looking for ghosts that don't exist."

Responding to an editorial criticizing his move, Obama writes a column in USAT saying that the decision "wasn't an easy one." The Democrat writes that while he agrees "that we need to limit the influence of big donors" and will work to fix the system when he's elected, "the system as it stands doesn't work as it should." USAT's editorial board says Obama's promise to reform the system when he's president "reminds us of St. Augustine's famous prayer: 'Lord, make me chaste—but not yet.'"

The NYT says that Obama's decision means that the already-troubled public financing system is now "facing the most critical threat to its survival." Presidential campaigns have always found a way to get around the limits imposed by the post-Watergate system, but Obama's decision "may do more to shatter the system than all of the loopholes it has spawned." McCain may go down in history as the last major presidential candidate to accept public money.

The NYT's David Brooks has things right. In a scathing column, Brooks criticizes Republicans for being "saps" and thinking that they're "running against some naïve university-town dreamer" when in reality Obama is "the most effectively political creature we've seen in decades." Obama is a "split-personality politician" who says one thing but then demonstrates that he'd do anything to get elected. "He's the only politician of our lifetime who is underestimated because he's too intelligent."

USA Today says at least 18 more levees on the Mississippi River "are at high risk of being overwhelmed this week," illustrating how outdated much of the flood protection is in the area. Many of the 31 levees that have already failed to provide adequate protection in the region were built at least 30 years ago.

The NYT fronts word that a large-scale Israeli military exercise that was carried out in early June appeared to be a dress rehearsal for an attack on Iran's nuclear installations. No one thinks the exercise means that an attack will actually take place in the near future, but the fact that it was so large seemed designed to get attention from intelligence agencies around the world. "They wanted us to know, they wanted the Europeans to know, and they wanted the Iranians to know" that Israel is prepared to act if Iran continues on the path to build a nuclear weapon, a Pentagon official said.

In history, this day in 451, Roman and barbarian warriors, mostly German, brought Attila's army to a halt at the Catalaunian Plains in eastern France. Not for long, be it said.

On this day in 1756, 150 British soldiers - ish - with some women and children were imprisoned in a cell that became known as the "Black Hole of Calcutta." This was at the command of the Bengali, Siraj-ud-daula, and they were held there until the following morning. Of those imprisoned, only 23 survive.

It was this day in 1782 that the U.S. Congress approved the Great Seal of the United States. Although several early American politicians were Masons, the Masonic institutions themselves deny that the Seal is Masonic; therefore, any resemblance is purely coincidental.

In 1791, Louis XVI of France was captured while attempting to flee the country in the so-called Flight to Varennes.

Queen Victoria ascended the British throne and Lord Melbourne came to power following the death of her uncle, King William IV.

My home town in 1893 found Lizzie Borden innocent of the ax murders of her father and stepmother. The trial was held in New Bedford though the crime was in Fall River.

In 1947, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel was murdered in Beverly Hills at the order of mob associates angered over the soaring costs of his project, the Flamingo resort in Las Vegas.

In 1967, Muhammad Ali was convicted in Houston of violating Selective Service laws by refusing to be drafted. The U.S. Supreme Court later overturned the conviction.

In 1977, this day, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline began operation.

This was the day in 1979 - so long ago, yet it seems yesterday- that ABC News correspondent Bill Stewart was shot to death in Managua, Nicaragua, by a member of President Anastasio Somoza's national guard. It was caught live on camera by his team.  Peter Jennings' cold anger was palpable, and you could literally hear the nation going lock'n'load. Somoza was dead from then on.

In 1997, the tobacco industry agreed to a massive settlement in exchange for major relief from mounting lawsuits and legal bills.

On June 20, 2001, Houston mother Andrea Yates drowned all of her five children, one after another, in the bathtub, then notified the authorities. Yates is later sentenced to life in prison which is overturned. She was on medication for post-partum depression and had recently attempted suicide. Her husband, who apparently wanted a large family divorced her, married again, has another family going.

Finally, in 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the execution of mentally retarded murderers was unconstitutionally cruel. The vote was 6 in favor and 3 against.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Here in Boulder the Damned, the two guys who tasered each other some weeks back aren't going to trial, probably because everyone is so embarrassed. It does bring to mind the iffy status of security guards and what their actual role in the feeding trough of peace officers is.  I'm still not sure, but then I'm not convinced the walk lights have legal standing, either.

Vaguely good news out of Burma, where relief workers are coming back from some of the areas devastated by Cyclone Nargis with reports that survivors aren't doing as badly as initially feared. Of course, this doesn't mean survivors aren't struggling to stay alive, but there's little evidence that the delay in reaching the Irrawaddy Delta led to large numbers of deaths or disease outbreaks.

Relief workers say that the main reason why the predictions of massive amounts of deaths among survivors of Cyclone Nargis never materialized has to do with the nature of the disaster. Most who died in the cyclone drowned, and those who survived were unlikely to need urgent medical assistance. The Burmese are used to being ignored by their government, so villagers took matters into their own hands and managed to survive by relying on food that was immediately available. And while the international world was focused on the military junta's reluctance to allow foreign aid, Burmese citizens and monks were busy carrying out large relief efforts that many now credit with preventing mass starvation. Still, the good news is all relative, and relief workers emphasize that they continue to face obstacles from the government to carry out their work as thousands of survivors still don't have enough food or adequate shelter and remain vulnerable to disease.

A car bomb that exploded in a predominantly Shiite area of Baghdad and killed at least 51 people early today. It was the deadliest bombing in Iraq's capital in three months. Of course, angry Shiites called for revenge after the bomb ripped through a crowded marketplace in the Huriya district. Although residents were quick to blame Sunni extremists, the NYT, which is alone in fronting the news, talked to an American military spokesman who said "a special group extremist," meaning Shiite militants, claimed responsibility for the attack that was supposedly aimed at killing coalition forces. But the spokesman was careful to emphasize that since no coalition forces were injured, the U.S. military is questioning "the validity of the claim" of responsibility.

The rising Mississippi River threatens to break through levees in several towns that continue to rely on outdated flood protection. A review done by the paper found that at least 17 levees in the affected region "are too low to hold off a 100-year flood."

Barack Obama and John McCain are fighting, which yesterday focused on terrorism and who would do a better job at keeping Americans safe. It is nice to see Obama not only not backing down, but straining the leash. It all began when McCain's camp said Obama has an "extremely naive approach to terrorism" and accused the presumptive Democratic nominee of wanting to treat terrorists like ordinary criminals. Obama fought back and said those who are criticizing him are the same people who let Osama Bin Laden get away and "helped to engineer the distraction of the war in Iraq."

Yesterday's heated exchanges marked the first time that the two presumptive nominees have engaged on the issue of terrorism. The Post says the intensity of the back-and-forth "demonstrated that both sides are confident that they have a winning message on the issue." In 2004, many think President Bush managed to sway undecided voters by pushing the idea that Sen. John Kerry had a pre-Sept. 11 mindset when it came to dealing with terrorism. The way Obama quickly fought back against that assertion shows he's willing to engage in the debate and take it a step further by arguing that the way this administration has dealt with terrorism has been nothing short of a failure.

New documents released by congressional investigators yesterday  suggest the CIA played a larger role in advising Pentagon officials on tough interrogation techniques than was previously known. The top lawyer at the CIA's Counterterrorism Center defended the harsh techniques and explained that the definition of what constitutes torture "is basically subject to perception." He helpfully added: "If the detainee dies, you're doing it wrong." True, a clue, surely. The documents illustrate how military officials were confused about what was allowed and gathered opinions from other government agencies before implementing the techniques despite objections from lawyers and others in the military who said they were probably illegal.

In yet another damaging revelation that isn't getting coverage, the documents show that lawyers openly discussed cutting down on the harsher techniques when observers from the Red Cross were present. McClatchy - again, that chain does good work - does emphasize this bit of news and notes that a senior CIA lawyer said during a 2002 meeting that it was common practice to move detainees in order to avoid the prying eyes of Red Cross officials. But McClatchy also points out that the documents don't specify whether U.S. officials "moved the detainees from one place to another or merely told the ICRC they were no longer present at a facility."

Yesterday was the first full day of legalized same-sex marriages in California. Hundreds of couples, including Star Trek actor George Takei and his partner, Brad Altman, descended on courthouses and city halls across the state to get married. By the end of the day, more than 2,300 marriage licenses had been issued, and the ceremonies largely went off without a hitch as opponents of same-sex marriage remained mostly silent as they continued planning their campaign to overturn last month's state Supreme Court decision that allowed the unions. "We are silent today, but we're just biding our time," one activist said. Whatever.  But I remain awed at how FEW gay marriages there have been, which strikes me that the numbers of gay people have been exaggerated through the years.

Equally big news in California and Florida, Bush will call on Congress today to repeal the federal ban on offshore oil drilling. The announcement came hours after McCain said he wants the ban lifted so states can decide whether drilling should be allowed off their coastlines. Florida's Republican governor, Charlie Crist, followed McCain's lead and reversed his long-standing opposition to offshore drilling. Coincidently, Crist is widely considered to be on the shortlist of possible vice-presidential candidates. The NYT says Bush is currently considering whether to repeal an executive order signed by his father in 1990 that banned offshore drilling, but the White House emphasized the president wants Congress to act first. I'll bet.

The NYT's David Leonhardt points out that "there are some big unanswered questions about Mr. McCain's economic plans. And we in the media have largely overlooked those questions so far." Simply put, what McCain says on the campaign trail simply doesn't match what he tells "budget wonks" who look at the details of each candidate's proposals to see what effect they'd have on the deficit. Although neither Obama nor McCain seems terribly serious about getting rid of the budget deficit, "the unknowns about the McCain agenda are simply on a different scale."

The LAT interviews the infamous Iraqi informant known as Curveball, who gave Western intelligence officials information about supposed weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and finds that he still insists he was telling the truth. Rafid Ahmed Alwan wasn't eager to speak to reporters, but "in a series of sometimes reluctant interviews," he said he's being blamed for the mistakes of others. Germany's intelligence agency believed much of what he told them soon after he began seeking political asylum, but if government officials had bothered to do a little digging, they would have found that Alwan was famous for being a dishonest man. He constantly lied and "was not embarrassed when caught in a lie," a former supervisor said. The trend seems to continue. "Everything I said was true," Alwan said. "For what I've done, I should be treated like a king." Yes. Charles I, for example.

In history, this day, the War of 1812 began with our declaration of war against Great Britain. The conflict began over trade restrictions.

Three years to the day later, Napoleon was defeated in the Battle of Waterloo, partly because of an inability to properly survey the battlefield (possibly due to a case of inflamed hemorrhoids). He faced an an international army under the Duke of Wellington, and abdicated on June 22.

Twelve years after, London's Waterloo Bridge opened over the River Thames and designed by John Rennie.

On this day in 1900, the Empress Dowager of China ordered all foreigners killed. Among those meeting this fate are the foreign diplomats, their families, as well as hundreds of Christian missionaries and their Chinese converts.

In 1918, the German offensive, and Army, having collapsed,  Allied forces on the Western Front began their counter-attack which won the war.

It was in 1936 that Charles ‘Lucky’ Luciano was found guilty on 62 counts of compulsory prostitution, a charge we might see again applied to others.

In 1959, a Federal Court annulled the Arkansas law allowing school closings to prevent integration.

In 1967, John Phillips helped organize the Monterey Pop Festival, and this day famed guitarist Jimi Hendrix burned his guitar on stage and changed a few heads.

In 1983, Dr. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space aboard the space shuttle Challenger.

Here in Colorado, this day in 1984, the Jewish talk show host Alan Berg was murdered in the driveway of his Denver home by members of The Order, a neo-Nazi group partially inspired by the novel The Turner Diaries. Two white supremacists were convicted of civil rights violations in the murder.

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