Saturday, June 04, 2005
1.) Via our distinguished colleague Rorschach at No Capital, the main reason we don't want U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq:
U.N. satellite imagery experts have determined that material that could be used to make biological or chemical weapons and banned long-range missiles has been removed from 109 sites in Iraq, U.N. weapons inspectors said in a report obtained Thursday.2.) Courtesy of our venerated colleague Joe Wezorek at American Leftist, Noam Chomsky explains why Social Security is in crisis and healthcare is not:
The official story is that the Baby Boomers are going to impose a greater burden on the system because the number of working people relative to the elderly will decline, which is true.3.) Our indefatigable colleague Susie Madrak of Suburban Guerrilla relays a simple question from Nancy Goldstein: if Ralph Reed and the religious right can borrow from Tom Hayden's SDS playbook, why can't the left?
But what happened to the Baby Boomers when they were zero to 20? Weren’t working people taking care of them? And it was a much poorer society then.
In the 1960s the demographics caused a problem but hardly a crisis. The bulge was met by a big increase in expenditures in schools and other facilities for children. The problem wasn’t huge when the Baby Boomers were zero to 20, so why when they’re 70 to 90? . . . .
The reasons are simple. You can’t go after a health system under the control of insurance companies and pharmaceutical corporations. That system is immune, even if it is causing tremendous financial problems, besides the human cost.
Social Security is of little value for the rich but is crucial for survival for working people, the poor, their dependents and the disabled. And as a government programme, it has such low administrative costs that it offers nothing to financial institutions. It benefits only the "underlying population," not the "substantial citizens," to borrow Thorstein Veblen’s acid terminology.
As for the "fighting the Man" rhetoric that's always invoked when a right-wing activist is claiming to be oppressed by a "politically correct" "elite" cabal of academics and film stars who are "oppressing" him by refusing to, for example, allow tax-payer dollars to promote creationism in public schools -- it comes straight from the 60s.4.) Our revered colleague Avedon Carol is shocked, shocked to discover massive waste and fraud at the Department of Homeland Security:
Now it's time for the Democrats to learn a few things from the Republicans. And like Reed, they would do well to leave the opposition's policies alone and focus on stuctural lessons instead. Reed didn't build the CRNC, or any of his ventures since, by taking an anti-war stance, promoting civil rights, or teaching tolerance. Democrats aren't going to get anywhere by ditching choice and labor, and melding church and state.
Investigations by the Homeland Security Department's internal watchdog yielded the arrests of 146 workers and grant recipients and identified $18.5 million in unsupported costs during a six-month period that began last fall.5.) From our stalwart colleague the Fixer at Alternate Brain comes news that the enterprising heroin merchants of Afghanistan have cracked a brand-new market:
The semiannual report to Congress, issued by Homeland Security's inspector general, details findings of 325 internal investigations, audits and inspections between October 2004 and March 2005 . . . .
Wasteful spending at the Transportation Security Operations Center included $500,000 in authorized decorative artwork and plants and the purchase of extravagant kitchen appliances and excessive fitness center equipment.
According to the Iranian Hamid Ghodse, President of the OICS (Organe international de contrôle des stupéfiants, an expert group headquartered in Vienna charged with applying UN conventions relating to drugs), Iraq is in the process of becoming an important transit country on the route for Afghan heroin. Opiates and cannabis produced in Afghanistan "are brought through Iraq to Jordan from where they are sent on to the European markets of the East and West," he declared during a press conference given Thursday in Vienna . . . .UPDATE: Courtesy of our esteemed colleague Keith at the newly-spruced-up Invisible Library, the story of an almost invisible librarian (So far, WorldNetDaily is the only news outfit to cover her story) who defied the Patriot Act, went to court, and won.
While drug problems have been historically unknown in Iraq (out of fear of repression striking traffickers and consumers or quite simply from lack of information), OICS has worried about the new trend since its March 2004 annual report. "Drugs have started to enter the country in huge quantities, notably through the Eastern border," with Iran, revealed Iraqi Minister of the Interior Nouri Badrane then, who worried especially about the increase in narcotics consumption among young Iraqis: "Consumption of these drugs is on the rise, due to unemployment, insecurity, and the sense of uncertainty about the future, especially among young people." A few months later, his equivalent at the Health Ministry talked about "a problem that has become endemic," submitting a number of 2,029 registered addicts.