Wednesday, November 30, 2005



Casino Jack & the Republican Thuggees

"I don't think we have had something of this scope, arrogance and sheer venality in our lifetimes," wrote Norman Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute. "It is building to an explosion, one that could create immense collateral damage within Congress and in coming elections."

*World Exclusive*
Nov 16,2005
by Daniel Hopsicker

As three men—Anthony ‘Big Tony’ Moscatiello, Anthony ‘Little Tony’ Ferrari, and James ‘Pudgy Fiorillo— pled not guilty in court this week, the MadCowMorningNews has discovered new details in the investigation into the 4-year old slaying of SunCruz casino ship owner Gus Boulis.

A company which received over $100,000 in suspicious payments before the murder from Adam Kidan, we have learned, is owned by the family of long-time U.S. Senator from Florida Claude Pepper, now deceased, whose ties to illegal gambling there go back to the 1920’s.

It is a startling twist to the case, seeming to indicate, at a minimum, that the surface perturbation in Florida’s gambling world reflected in Boulis’ murder are the result of deeper tectonic shifts which the Evening News is reluctant to acknowledge or explain.

“Even as White House aides Karl Rove and Scooter Libby dominated the headlines,” read a typical analysis last week, “according to many observers Jack Abramoff remains the Republican Party's most dangerous problem.”

Here’s why: Kidan wrote a check for the hit.

A dunsky for the ages

Adam Kidan, today living under a cloud of indictment for murder, made $250,000 in unexplained payments which have featured prominently in the case since the investigation began.

During the months before Boulis was gunned down, big money went to a mysterious Miami Beach company, and the daughter of a close associate of Gambino crime boss John Gotti.

After failing to pay for his purchase of Boulis’ SunCruz casino ship empire, Kidan added injury to insult, investigators now suspect, by using Boulis’ purloined company to pay for his own death.

Kidan sent checks totaling $145,000 to the daughter of Gambino hood Anthony Moscatiello, one of the three men charged so far in the gangland-style execution in Fort Lauderdale, and checks totaling $105,000 to ‘Moon Over Miami Beach.’ An officer in the company, James Ferrari, has been charged in the case.

“Moon Over Miami Beach” is “a company whose business remains unclear,” reported the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

“Anthony Ferrari runs Moon Over Miami Beach, a company just off the Lincoln Road Mall that never seems to be open for business,” reported Miami’s Channel 10 NEWS. “And Ferrari refuses to even say what business the company does.”

Moon over Miami Beach sound as phony as some of Abramoff’s other dummy front companies. We recalled the "premiere international think tank" he set up called the American International Center, through which rivers of cash were laundered.

"Want to head an international corporation?"

The American International Centre was promoted as "bringing great minds together from all over the globe" under the "high-power directorship" of David Grosh, who turned out to be a rather under-powered lifeguard.

“Want to be head of an international corporation?" Grosh told an incredulous Senate committee hearing he was asked. "I was like, ‘sure.’ It was a hard one to turn down. I asked him what I had to do, and he said 'Nothing.’

“That sounded pretty good to me."

Abramoff charged exorbitant fees for work he didn't do, and set up fake charities to shelter the ill-gotten gains. There were phony grass-roots Christian groups. Phony billing statements. And nonprofits with phony purposes.

When we took a closer look at “Moon over Miami Beach” we discovered the previously undisclosed gambling associations of the firms’ other two officers, Frank and Thomas Pepper.

News accounts identified Frank Pepper as “the 77-year old founder of one of Miami's oldest real estate companies,” and Thomas Pepper as his nephew, a friend of Ferrari and one of four men who received $10,000 in Sun Cruz casino chips.

A history of gambling in South Florida

In a startling twist, we have learned that the Pepper family—one of the Miami families dating back to the boom time 1920s—has a rich history of involvement in gambling in South Florida that seems germane today in a murder investigation of a man who owned floating casinos.

For more than 30 years, reported the June 30, 1991 St. Petersburg Times, the FBI and its legendary director J. Edgar Hoover collected details about Claude Pepper in an effort to link him to corruption.

FBI files indicated that Pepper "is suspected of receiving graft through various political manipulations and maneuvers in the state of Florida, although no positive evidence has ever been offered in this request."

The FBI’s suspicion of Pepper may have owed something to the “considerable notoriety” he enjoyed because of his public objections to FBI wiretapping.

A field agent in the FBI's Washington office once wrote Hoover that he was surprised that Pepper had attacked the bureau because agents there had once recovered a diamond bracelet of Mrs. Pepper's which she lost in a Washington taxicab.

"I shall always be most grateful to you and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the exceedingly kind and efficient service which you rendered to me and to Mrs. Pepper," Pepper wrote Hoover in a thank-you note.

Was Claude Pepper a clue?

At the bottom of the note, reported the St Petersburg Times story, Hoover personally added his own sentiment: "Pepper has to serve his masters, the Florida politicians and criminals."

Besides looking at Pepper's ties to left-wing organizations, the paper reported, the FBI also questioned whether Pepper’s nephew was running a gambling operation.

In 1986, Pepper formed the not-for-profit Mildred and Claude Pepper Foundation, to “promote policies and programs which will improve health, provide economic opportunity and contribute to social justice for all Americans,” according to their literature.

A dandy ambition. But despite its lofty goals, the foundation carried on with a very modest budget, until after Pepper's death at age 89, when the financial picture turned unexpectedly rosy...

The U.S. Congress appropriated $ 10-million for the foundation from—are you ready for this?—the Department of Defense budget, “a direct and unrestricted grant to support the purposes of the foundation and to serve as a memorial to Pepper.”

"I've never heard of government money used to create a foundation like that,” said Robert Bothwell, executive director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy in Washington.

Among the creative ways the foundation has found to spend money: $10,000 to the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities in El Salvador, during the height of the Contra unpleasantness.

We’re sure we could find more.

BushFellas meet The Soprano's

If the various Abramoff scandals are the brewing scandals Republicans fear most, what may be keeping Abramoff himself up late at night, we suspect, is the murder investigation now grinding forward in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

What makes this a candidate for most explosive scandal (in a Dramatic Category) since Watergate?

First, because Jack Abramoff and his friends are the players in the conservative revolution that took over Congress, the White House, and the lobbying industry...

Second, because Abramoff has been charged with fraud in connection with a gambling ship deal in Florida which ended in a gangland-style killing of the man Abramoff is alleged to have defrauded...

And third... because The Washington Post (and practically everyone else writing about it) can’t resist describing it as a “gangland-style hit straight out of “Goodfellas.”

Congressional Quarterly called the Abramoff-DeLay scandal “The Slow Decline of a GOP “Godfather.’”

How much of this isn’t in jest? Have we truly become what much of the rest of the world sees us as: Gangster America?

Round up the usual suspects

Anthony Ferrari was first identified in print as a suspect four years ago, in August of 2001. The basic facts in the Boulis murder have been known to investigators since that time.

The FBI’s interest in Claude Pepper’s family associations with illegal gambling in South Florida go back six decades. They were writing memos about it in 1937.

With a history that long, and that hidden... the discovery of assorted political murders is not exactly a “stop the presses!” moment.

Especially coming so soon after George W Bush took power, Boulis’ very visible murder would have raised concerns that it might signal a big shake-up in the gambling industry hierarchy.

Details of the “deep politics” behind an industry as important and lucrative as unregulated gambling are of keen interest to anyone who wants to understand how power works in America.

This must be why they are being doled out like flu shots in the middle of a pandemic. They are obviously considered highly-sensitive... need to know sensitive, even.

Imagine that.

Could this be an answer of sorts to one of the biggest mysteries in the case: why have police waited so long to charge people for the crime?

Investigators strongly suspected that Boulis’ cold-blooded murder was related to the dead man’s riches—and his businesses. Boulis’ most profitable business venture was SunCruz Casinos, which he had recently and reluctantly sold to a Washington DC investor group headed by Republican super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and “fronted” by a buddy of Abramoff’s from their College Republican days, a disbarred attorney and “businessman” named Adam Kidan.

The sale price was $147 million.

Thuggee Greatest Hits

An hour before a gunman killed Gus Boulis, a local developer and two prominent Hollywood, FL. lawyers had attempted to persuade Boulis to sell his interest in a big Hollywood waterfront hotel project.

The controversy around the sale of Boulis' SunCruz casino boat empire made Boulis too hot for the public to accept as a partner on a 20-story hotel project on city-owned beachfront land, they told him.

After almost a decade of very public wheeling and dealing, Boulis had suddenly become persona non grata.

If you don’t recall, the Thuggees were a well-organized confederacy of professional assassins, an Indian cult sometimes described as the world's first mafia. They practiced large-scale robbery and murder of travelers between the 13th to the 19th centuries. Members were known as Thugs.

But one brutal murder does not a Republican Thuggee gang make. We needed more examples. They were, alas, almost too easily found...

There’s the gangland murder of Kidan’s own mother, for example. On Feb. 18, 1993, Kidan's mother, Judy Shemtov, 46, was shot in the head and killed after answering the door of their posh Richmond Hill home. The motive of that slaying was a mystery until Chris Paciello, Miami Beach's leading club impresario and sometime boyfriend of Madonna, pleaded guilty to a racketeering charge and turned government informant.

Paciello testified that he was the getaway driver for a crew from the Bonanno crime family who went to the house to rob Kidan's stepfather of $200,000 they had heard he kept in a safe in the house.

When Shemtov answered the door, two young men wearing baseball caps and jeans entered the foyer of her Queens home, said her husband, Kidan’s step-father. One of the crew accidentally shot her.

“A bullet tore through Judy's left cheek. Her small body flew into the air and slammed backward into the foyer, then dropped to the floor. Blood splattered all over,” wrote the tabloid New York Daily News on April 14, 2002, under a headline reading “RISE AND FALL OF A PLAYBOY MOBSTER.”

GoodFellas in action

Calandra looked at Tommy Reynolds. "Let's make this one to go," he said, borrowing the line from his favorite movie "Goodfellas."

The two men fled. Here’s a truly horrible thought: Kidan is suspected by some of being responsible for his own mother’s death, by telling the robbery crew, who knew, where they kept the cash.

Boulis’s murder cast a pall of fear over the people who knew him, said the local paper, the Sun-Sentinel. What they meant was...people are afraid to talk.

At his company, Atlantia staffers remained silent, referring calls to a public relations agency. Even police were having difficulty getting some people to talk.

”There are a lot of people who aren't talking for reasons of personal safety," said Fort Lauderdale Police Detective Mike Reed.

Here’s one you may have heard about: “Boulis was murdered in the exact same way as Don Aronow, Bush’s other partner,” he stated. Bush’s other partner?

Donald Aronow, 59, self-made millionaire; acknowledged guru of the offshore powerboat set, rich and handsome deal-doer adored by friends and family... and killed on Northeast 188th Street in broad daylight by a stranger in a dark Lincoln Town Car who calmly shot Aronow in the chest, blasting his way down to the groin.

Here’s one you may not have, from the White House Spy Scandal we are hearing so little about. Two factions are battling for control of the Philippines. Abramoff, of course, has “a dog in that hunt.”

Abramoff’s clients sent a man named Michael Aquino to the U.S. to lay low for a while. He was arrested with the Marine at the White House who had been feeding him classified material.

They had him over a barrel

Here’s an example of why he's laying low:

Edgar Bentain was a man who released a video clip during the Presidential campaign there showing then-Philippine Vice President Joseph Estrada and a notorious gambler playing high-stakes baccarat at the Heritage Hotel casino.

This was not pleasing to Estrada, an ally of Imelda Marcos and Abramoff’s.

Betain disappeared without a trace. Nothing had not been seen nor heard of him since. Then someone confessed that they’d seen Bentain: in a drum.

"We were brought to a bridge near Bacolor, where we saw Bentain inside a drum. We could still see his head but the rest of his body was already buried under cement," said the man’s statement to police.

Bentain was crying and begging for his life.”

The statement quoted Aquino as telling Bentain: "Masyado ka kasing pakialamero at iyan ang bagay sa iyo (You deserve this because you mind other people's business too much)!"

Bentain was encased alive in cement. Philippine NBI agents were said to be searching for a metal drum near the bridge.

The players and politicians so desperately distancing themselves from Abramoff would prefer that we think of him as some small-time hustler, a fringe sleaze ball who crawled out of the shadows.

He wasn't. He was a big-league hustler and a mainstream sleaze ball. And he was all theirs.

We’re pretty sure that few will miss the rat-faced weasels about to be sent to jail.

Shakespeare, as acute an observer of the human condition as has ever lived, according to some, famously wrote that “Murder will out.”

We shall see.

The Rise of America's New Enemy

The Rise of America's New Enemy
By John Pilger
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Thursday 10 November 2005
I was dropped at Paradiso, the last middle-class area before barrio La Vega, which spills into a ravine as if by the force of gravity. Storms were forecast, and people were anxious, remembering the mudslides that took 20,000 lives. "Why are you here?" asked the man sitting opposite me in the packed jeep-bus that chugged up the hill. Like so many in Latin America, he appeared old, but wasn't. Without waiting for my answer, he listed why he supported President Chavez: schools, clinics, affordable food, "our constitution, our democracy" and "for the first time, the oil money is going to us." I asked him if he belonged to the MRV, Chavez’s party, "No, I've never been in a political party; I can only tell you how my life has been changed, as I never dreamt."

It is raw witness like this, which I have heard over and over again in Venezuela, that smashes the one-way mirror between the west and a continent that is rising. By rising, I mean the phenomenon of millions of people stirring once again, "like lions after slumber / In un-vanquishable number", wrote the poet Shelley in The Mask of Anarchy. This is not romantic; an epic is unfolding in Latin America that demands our attention beyond the stereotypes and clichés that diminish whole societies to their degree of exploitation and expendability.

To the man in the bus, and to Beatrice whose children are being immunized and taught history, art and music for the first time, and Celedonia, in her seventies, reading and writing for the first time, and Jose whose life was saved by a doctor in the middle of the night, the first doctor he had ever seen, Hugo Chavez is neither a "firebrand" nor an "autocrat" but a humanitarian and a democrat who commands almost two thirds of the popular vote, accredited by victories in no less than nine elections. Compare that with the fifth of the British electorate that re-installed Blair, an authentic autocrat.

Chavez and the rise of popular social movements, from Colombia down to Argentina, represent bloodless, radical change across the continent, inspired by the great independence struggles that began with Simon Bolivar, born in Venezuela, who brought the ideas of the French Revolution to societies cowed by Spanish absolutism. Bolivar, like Che Guevara in the 1960s and Chavez today, understood the new colonial master to the north. "The USA," he said in 1819, "appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty."

At the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in 2001, George W Bush announced the latest misery in the name of liberty in the form of a Free Trade Area of the Americas treaty. This would allow the United States to impose its ideological "market", neo-liberalism, finally on all of Latin America. It was the natural successor to Bill Clinton's North American Free Trade Agreement, which has turned Mexico into an American sweatshop. Bush boasted it would be law by 2005.

On 5 November, Bush arrived at the 2005 summit in Mar del Plata, Argentina, to be told his FTAA was not even on the agenda. Among the 34 heads of state were new, un-compliant faces and behind all of them were populations no longer willing to accept US-backed business tyrannies. Never before have Latin American governments had to consult their people on pseudo-agreements of this kind; but now they must.

In Bolivia, in the past five years, social movements have got rid of governments and foreign corporations alike, such as the tentacular Bechtel, which sought to impose what people call total locura capitalista - total capitalist folly - the privatizing of almost everything, especially natural gas and water. Following Pinochet's Chile, Bolivia was to be a neo-liberal laboratory. The poorest of the poor were charged up to two-thirds of their pittance-income even for rain-water.

Standing in the bleak, freezing, cobble-stoned streets of El Alto, 14,000 feet up in the Andes, or sitting in the breeze-block homes of former miners and campesinos driven off their land, I have had political discussions of a kind seldom ignited in Britain and the US. They are direct and eloquent. "Why are we so poor," they say, "when our country is so rich? Why do governments lie to us and represent outside powers?" They refer to 500 years of conquest as if it is a living presence, which it is, tracing a journey from the Spanish plunder of Cerro Rico, a hill of silver mined by indigenous slave labor and which underwrote the Spanish Empire for three centuries. When the silver was gone, there was tin, and when the mines were privatized in the 1970s at the behest of the IMF, tin collapsed, along with 30,000 jobs. When the coca leaf replaced it - in Bolivia, chewing it in curbs hunger - the Bolivian army, coerced by the US, began destroying the coca crops and filling the prisons.

In 2000, open rebellion burst upon the white business oligarchs and the American embassy whose fortress stands like an Andean Vatican in the centre of La Paz. There was never anything like it, because it came from the majority Indian population "to protect our indigenous soul". Naked racism against indigenous peoples all over Latin America is the Spanish legacy. They were despised or invisible, or curios for tourists: the women in their bowler hats and colorful skirts. No more. Led by visionaries like Oscar Olivera, the women in bowler hats and colorful skirts encircled and shut down the country's second city, Cochabamba, until their water was returned to public ownership.

Every year since, people have fought a water or gas war: essentially a war against privatization and poverty. Having driven out President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada in 2003, Bolivians voted in a referendum for real democracy. Through the social movements they demanded a constituent assembly similar to that which founded Chavez’s Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela, together with the rejection of the FTAA and all the other "free trade" agreements, the expulsion of the transnational water companies and a 50 per cent tax on the exploitation of all energy resources.

When the replacement president, Carlos Mesa, refused to implement the program he was forced to resign. Next month, there will be presidential elections and the opposition Movement to Socialism (MAS) may well turn out the old order. The leader is an indigenous former coca farmer, Evo Morales, whom the American ambassador has likened to Osama Bin Laden. In fact, he is a social democrat who, for many of those who sealed off Cochabamba and marched down the mountain from El Alto, moderates too much.

"This is not going to be easy," Abel Mamani, the indigenous president of the El Alto Neighborhood Committees, told me. "The elections won't be a solution even if we win. What we need to guarantee is the constituent assembly, from which we build a democracy based not on what the US wants, but on social justice." The writer Pablo Solon, son of the great political muralist Walter Solon, said, "The story of Bolivia is the story of the government behind the government. The US can create a financial crisis; but really for them it is ideological; they say they will not accept another Chavez."

The people, however, will not accept another Washington quisling. The lesson is Ecuador, where a helicopter saved Lucio Gutierrez as he fled the presidential palace last April. Having won power in alliance with the indigenous Pachakutik movement, he was the "Ecuadorian Chavez", until he drowned in a corruption scandal. For ordinary Latin Americans, corruption on high is no longer forgivable. That is one of two reasons the Workers' Party government of Lula is barely marking time in Brazil; the other is the priority he has given to an IMF economic agenda, rather than his own people. In Argentina, social movements saw off five pro-Washington presidents in 2001 and 2002. Across the water in Uruguay, the Frente Amplio, socialist heirs to the Tupamaros, the guerrillas of the 1970s who fought one of the CIA's most vicious terror campaigns, formed a popular government last year.

The social movements are now a decisive force in every Latin American country - even in the state of fear that is the Colombia of Alvaro Uribe Velez, Bush's most loyal vassal. Last month, indigenous movements marched through every one of Colombia's 32 provinces demanding an end to "an evil as great at the gun": neo-liberalism. All over Latin America, Hugo Chavez is the modern Bolivar. People admire his political imagination and his courage. Only he has had the guts to describe the United States as a source of terrorism and Bush as Senior Peligro (Mr. Danger). He is very different from Fidel Castro, whom he respects. Venezuela is an extraordinarily open society with an unfettered opposition - that is rich and still powerful. On the left, there are those who oppose the state, in principle, believe its reforms have reached their limit, and want power to flow directly from the community. They say so vigorously, yet they support Chavez. A fluent young anarchist, Marcel, showed me the clinic where the two Cuban doctors may have saved his girlfriend. (In a barter arrangement, Venezuela gives Cuba oil in exchange for doctors).

At the entrance to every barrio there is a state supermarket, where everything from staple food to washing up liquid costs 40 per cent less than in commercial stores. Despite specious accusations that the government has instituted censorship, most of the media remains violently anti-Chavez: a large part of it in the hands of Gustavo Cisneros, Latin America's Murdoch, who backed the failed attempt to depose Chavez. What is striking is the proliferation of lively community radio stations, which played a critical part in Chavez’s rescue in the coup of April 2002 by calling on people to march on Caracas.

While the world looks to Iran and Syria for the next Bush attack, Venezuelans know they may well be next. On 17 March, the Washington Post reported that Feliz Rodriguez, "a former CIA operative well-connected to the Bush family" had taken part in the planning of the assassination of the President of Venezuela. On 16 September, Chavez said, "I have evidence that there are plans to invade Venezuela. Furthermore, we have documentation: how many bombers will over-fly Venezuela on the day of the invasion . . . the US is carrying out maneuvers on Curacao Island. It is called Operation Balboa." Since then, leaked internal Pentagon documents have identified Venezuela as a "post-Iraq threat" requiring "full spectrum" planning.

The old-young man in the jeep, Beatrice and her healthy children and Celedonia with her "new esteem", are indeed a threat -the threat of an alternative, decent world that some lament is no longer possible. Well, it is, and it deserves our support.

Monday, November 28, 2005

ME AT 1ST GRADE Click to Enlarge photo

Like my 4 older brothers my hair was cut using one of those razor combs do-it at home that was advertised on TV in the mid60's. My mom got better at it. Though not much. Being the youngest(I'm not a BABY!) I was the 1st to go under the razor.
Hence the Eddie Munster look. Red headed and freckled faced and wearing hand me downs I was ready for my 1st day of School. Lets just say Army pay for a Sgt. in the Army during the 60's with 6 kids didn't go very far. If anybody made fun of my buck teeth I just bit them. Besides I could skin the corn off a cob in no time.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


George Washington Bush (1790?-1863), n.d.
Courtesy Henderson House Museum

George W. Bush settles with his family at Bush Prairie near Tumwater in November 1845.

In November 1845, George W. and Isabella James Bush and their five sons settle near Tumwater on a fertile plain that comes to be known as Bush Prairie. They and their party, which includes their good friend Michael T. Simmons (1814-1867) are the first Americans to settle north of the Columbia River in what is now Washington. The Simmons party makes the historically significant decision to settle north of the Columbia primarily because the discriminatory laws of the provisional government of Oregon Territory prohibit George Bush, an African American who is a key leader of the group, from settling south of the river.

George Washington Bush (1790?-1863), an experienced frontiersman and successful farmer, was one of the wealthier pioneers to follow the Oregon Trail west. His father, of African descent, was said to be a sailor, and his mother was an Irish American servant. As a young man, Bush worked as a voyageur and trapper for fur trading companies, including the famed Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). During this time he traveled extensively in the Western plains and mountains, perhaps reaching Puget Sound.

Seeking Freedom in the West

By the 1830s, Bush had settled in Missouri and married Isabella (or Isabell) James (c. 1809-1866), a young German American woman with whom he had five sons (a sixth was born in the West). Bush farmed and raised cattle, and the family was well off. However, Missouri, a slave state, had passed racial exclusion laws, and Bush and his sons faced increasing bigotry and discrimination. In an effort to escape the discrimination, the Bushes joined the family of their friend Michael Simmons, a white Kentuckian, and three other white families related to the Simmons, to head west on the Oregon Trail. Bush’s frontier experience made him a valuable addition to the party.

When the Simmons party reached the Columbia River in the fall of 1844, they found that the provisional government of Oregon Territory had enacted discriminatory laws, like those of Missouri, barring settlement by African Americans. Not wishing to separate from the Bush family, Simmons and the other members of the party decided to locate north of the Columbia, where American settlers and their provisional government had not yet extended their reach. The party spent the winter of 1844-45 on the Columbia, not far from Hudson's Bay Company's Fort Vancouver in present-day Clark County.

The New Settlement

In 1845, Simmons led an exploration around Puget Sound, and ultimately decided to settle at the head of Budd Inlet in what is now Thurston County. In October 1845, the entire party set off from Fort Vancouver down the Columbia River to the Cowlitz, and up that river to Cowlitz landing. From there they spent 15 days making a road through the forest to Budd Inlet, where Simmons established a settlement he called New Market, which later became Tumwater.

In early November 1845, George and Isabella Bush and their sons settled nearby, on a fertile prairie that soon took their name. The family began a farm, using seeds they had carried with them, that soon became the most productive in the region. Within a few years Simmons and Bush had set up a sawmill and a gristmill near their claims.

As more settlers poured into the region, Bush became famous for his generosity. From his stores of grain, he provided newcomers, sometimes half-starved from the journey, food for their first winter and seed to start their farms, asking no payment other than to return, when they could, the amount they took. Bush was also known for his friendly relations with and influence among the Indians of the region.

Discrimination and Exception

Ironically, the discriminatory laws the Bushes were trying to avoid had followed them, at least in part due to their own pioneering efforts. The 1845 American settlement north of the Columbia was one of the catalysts for the 1846 Treaty of Oregon, which resolved the U.S.-British boundary dispute by giving the territory south of the 49th parallel to the U.S., thus bringing what is now Washington under the discriminatory law of Oregon Territory. As a result, Bush did not have a clear legal claim on the 640 acres he and his family had painstakingly cultivated.

When Washington Territory was organized in 1853, many of the new legislators were friends and neighbors of the Bush family and beneficiaries of their generosity. Although this experience did not necessarily make them less prejudiced, it did inspire them to make an exception for George Bush and his sons. The first territorial legislature voted unanimously for a resolution urging Congress to pass a special act confirming George and Isabella Bush’s title to the land they had claimed and farmed. Congress did so in 1855, and the Bush Prairie farm remained in the hands of the Bush family for generations.

George Bush died on April 5, 1863, and Isabella Bush died on September 12, 1866. Several of their sons went on to play active roles in Thurston county civic and political affairs. The eldest, William Owen Bush, was a member of the first state legislature in 1889-1890 and an award-winning farmer who worked the Bush Prairie farm until his death in 1907.

In 1973, acclaimed artist Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000), a Washington state resident since 1971, painted a series of five paintings depicting George Washington Bush’s journey by wagon train across the continent from Missouri to Bush Prairie. The series is in the collection of the Washington State Capitol Museum.


Ruby El Hult, The Saga of George W. Bush (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1962, reprint of Negro Digest, September 1962), 89-95; Jacob Lawrence: Paintings, Drawings, and Murals (1935-1999) ed. by Peter T. Nesbett (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000), 179; Clinton A. Snowden, History of Washington (New York: The Century History Company, 1909), Vol. 2, p. 422-34, Vol. 3, p. 37-38, 242-43; Paul F. Thomas, George Bush (M.A. Thesis, University of Washington, 1965); Kit Oldham, “Bush, George W. (1790?-1863), Washington Cyberpedia Library (

By Kit Oldham , February 01, 2004

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Has anybody here seen my old friend Abraham?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
You know, I just looked around and he's gone.

Anybody here seen my old friend John?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
I just looked around and he's gone.

Anybody here seen my old friend Martin?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
I just looked 'round and he's gone.

Didn't you love the things that they stood for?
Didn't they try to find some good for you and me?
And we'll be free
Some day soon, and it's a-gonna be one day ...

Anybody here seen my old friend Bobby?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
I thought I saw him walkin' up over the hill,
With Abraham, Martin and John.

Monday, November 21, 2005








Saturday, November 19, 2005


Think about this article from ARMY TIMES when you hear "SUPPORT THE TROOPS".

Army, Marine Corps recall 18,000 body armor vests

By Christian Lowe
Times staff writer
The Army and Marine Corps yesterday issued a recall for more than 18,000 body armor vests that did not pass ballistic requirements when they were manufactured in 2000 and 2001.

The recall is in addition to the more than 5,000 Marine vests recalled in May after a Marine Corps Times investigation showed the vests had failed tests, yet were still approved and fielded to troops in the war zone.

The Corps learned of the problem after a Pentagon-initiated review of the ballistic strength of outer tactical vests that had returned from deployments to Iraq. After reviewing original test data from the vests’ production lots, Army and Pentagon officials discovered eight lots were accepted and fielded to the Marine Corps despite originally failing tests, according to a written Marine Corps response to a Times’ reporters’ questions.

The 10,342 recalled Marine vests were fielded in 2000 and 2001 to units across the Corps, both active duty and Reserve, according to Corpswide message, MarAdmin 544/05, which was released yesterday.

The evaluation of previous test data also revealed the Army fielded six lots of vests with failing grades, or more than 8,000 vests, in addition to the 10,000 being recalled by the Marine Corps.

Army officials were unable to provide immediate comment on the recall, Pentagon officials said.

The Pentagon’s inspector general could soon launch an investigation into “how these vests were fielded to Army and Marine units,” officials said.

Marine officials said the recall does not affect the ballistic plates inserted in the vests that protect against rifle shots. The so-called “outer tactical vest” — which consists of layers of ballistic-resistant Kevlar inside an outer nylon shell — is designed to protect against some fragmentation and all 9mm pistol threats.

The recall comes six months after the Corps issued a similar recall of more than 5,000 vests that Army testers at Aberdeen Test Center, Md., believed had critical, life-threatening flaws. Army engineers in charge of certifying the quality of Marine vests recommended the Corps not field about 19,000 vests in more than 19 production lots manufactured in 2003 and 2004 by Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Point Blank Body Armor Inc.

The Marine Corps, in today’s written response, maintained that there is “no evidence to suggest that soldiers or Marines have been at risk, or that these vests will not protect against the threat they were designed to defeat.”

Speaking of the 5,000 vests recalled in May — and before this latest recall was made public — Marine Commandant Gen. Mike Hagee said, “We recalled them for one reason and one reason only, and that is because we did not want any Marine out there to feel like he was wearing something that was not up to speed.”

“I still believe today that all the equipment that we recalled was good equipment,” he said during a Nov. 2 interview with Marine Corps Times reporters and editors.

The May and November recalls affect more than 15,000 vests out of a total buy of 191,000 OTVs going back to 1999, the Corps says.

After the May 9 Marine Corps Times article revealed the vests manufactured in 2003 and 2004 failed ballistic tests, the Pentagon’s Department of Operational Test and Evaluation initiated an investigation into body armor testing procedures servicewide. The Marine Corps tested vests at both Point Blank and Aberdeen Test Center to certify their ballistic strength, while the Army preferred to use a civilian company, H.P. White Labs in Street, Md.

In an effort to standardize the test procedures, DOT&E, along with Army Program Executive Office Soldier, Army Test and Evaluation Command and the Army Research Lab, initiated a “surveillance study” in August to verify that OTVs in both the Army and Marine Corps were up to standards, a Pentagon official said.

In September, Pentagon, Army and Marine officials tested some OTVs “recently returned from current areas of operation” and compared those results with the original 2000 and 2001 test results certifying the quality of the vests for fielding, explained Corps spokesman Maj. Doug Powell.

During research into the original quality assurance data on the vests tested in September, officials found that eight lots of Marine vests had actually failed to meet contract specs in 2000 and 2001, Powell confirmed.

A DOT&E spokesperson was unavailable for comment.

A Pentagon official said a DoD inspector general investigation may be launched “to determine how these vests were fielded to Army and Marine units. A thorough investigation will reveal if deficiencies exist in the acquisition process, and make recommendations for corrective action.”

Read the whole story in the next issue of Army Times, on newsstands Monday, Nov. 21.


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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Dr. Bill Dienst writing from occupied Palestine, Live from Palestine, 9 November 2005

WaPSR Delegation Diary 2: The Israeli Peace Movement in Jerusalem
Diary 1 posted yesterday.

March 7, 2005 in both East and West Jerusalem

Crossing the Bethlehem checkpoint is becoming routine; the absurd and surreal now somehow normal. All 19 of us flash our passports reflexively to the soldier, and we after waiting our turn in a line of cars, zip right through from Bethlehem to Jerusalem where ordinary local Palestinians are forbidden to go.

Israeli Committee against House Demolitions

We arrive at the Central part of West Jerusalem, just to the West of the Green Line in the Russian Compound. We are at the headquarters of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), an Israeli group formed to resist the destruction of Palestinian homes by the Israeli Army. Its leader, Jeff Halper, is not available, so we are treated to the dynamic young Jewish-American activist Jimmy Johnson's presentation about the current reality on the ground.

Jimmy Johnson from the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. (Bob Haynes)
Jimmy starts with the consequences of the Oslo Accords, and finishes with the unilateral measures, including the building of The Wall by the current Sharon government during the past 4 years.

During the Oslo process, the West Bank was divided up into Areas A, B and C. Area A was to be under Palestinian Civil and Military authority; Area B under Palestinian civil authority, but Israeli or joint military authority; and Area C under Israeli Civil and Military Authority. As the maps were drawn up for Camp David, 45% of the land in the West Bank became Area C, that is, under direct Israeli control, and under control of the settlements.

There are now more than 400,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank if you include the settlers in East Jerusalem. Mr. Jones explains that there are two types of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank: The settlements of the extreme ideologically right-wing like Itamar, or Kiryat Arba'a, and the settlements of convenience, like Ma'ale Adumim, which have become Jerusalem and Tel Aviv suburbs, and are subsidized by the Israeli Government, be it Labor or Lukid. These large suburban settlements look like places in Southern California, with their own Ace Hardware's, etc.

From the Palestinian perspective, East Jerusalem has represented 40% of the economy of the West Bank. As a result of the Wall and checkpoints, East Jerusalem's economy is being systematically disconnected from the West Bank, and the West Bank's economy is systematically being divided within itself through the Wall, the checkpoints and the lattice work of settlements and bypass roads which service them. Only 15% of the settlements are ideological; there are broader and more subtle forms of institutional racism inherent in the non-ideological suburban settlements.

The Wall disrupts Palestinian living patterns, separating Palestinians from each other. It is strangling the economy of the West Bank, and also Gaza.

The Wall. (Bob Haynes)

Johnson also described how Israel is the third largest defense contractor in the world. 20% of the United States' foreign aide to the entire world during the past 30 years has gone to Israel. Currently Israel receives $3-5 Billion from the United States annually, with $2 billion in military grants for defense. Consequently, American taxpayers are bankrolling the widespread Israeli aggression that we see on the ground in the West Bank and Gaza today.

According to Jimmy Johnson, The Wall has resulted in fewer bombing attacks, but Qassam rocket attacks have gone up.

Rabbi Arik Ascherman from Rabbis for Human Rights. (Bob Haynes)

Rabbis for Human Rights
"In a democracy, some are guilty, but all are responsible."
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, 1972
Next, our delegation meets Rabbi Arik Ascherman, who is the executive director of Rabbi's for Human Rights (RHR). Rabbi Ascherman grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania in a Jewish family heavily influenced by Jewish religious tradition of human rights. Since immigrating to Israel, he naturally gravitated to civil rights issues; RHR also addresses poverty and social issues within Israel. Rabbi Ascherman practices civil disobedience "as a last resort." He is currently awaiting trial in Israel for acts of civil disobedience, such as standing in front of bulldozers to prevent the demolition of Palestinian homes.

According to Rabbi Ascherman, there is a wide disconnect in Israeli society with regard to moral issues. "Everybody has their psycho-spiritual map, and everyone seems to limit their psycho-spiritual map."

He feels that we are at a juncture of cautious optimism, with regard to the prospects for peace. He believes that Palestinians and Israelis on both sides of the conflict have learned the lessons of the breakdown of the Oslo peace process.

A majority on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides know that the compromise will be the Clinton plan, plus or minus a few details.

Since the breakdown of negotiations at the end of the Clinton and Barak administrations, a majority on both sides tacitly supported violence as a way to push the peace process forward. During Oslo, the Palestinians grew frustrated with endless negotiations that lead nowhere, as Israel continued building settlements and changing the facts on the ground, and the tendency to fight back using violence was overwhelming. Unfortunately, the violence of the second intifada decimated the peace and justice movements in Israel.

"Terror does not move peace forward," according to Rabbi Ascherman, "while at the same time, Israel cannot negotiate peace, while systematically violating the human rights of Palestinians." Both sides need to learn from the mistakes of the past to move forward.

Rabbi Ascherman takes us to the Palestinian village on the outskirts of Northeast Jerusalem known as Isawiya. It is in the shadows of the French Hill neighborhood, now heavily populated by Israeli settlers, and in the shadows of Mt. Scopus/Hebrew University. Before 1967, Isawiya included more than 12,000 dunams (aprox. 3000 acres) of land. Since the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, their land has been expropriated, for Israelis only, by about 95%. Now only 666 dunams, or 142 acres, are left, and only two-thirds of this is zoned for building.

This has been part of Israeli settlement of East Jerusalem, known as "the ring around Jerusalem." Because of strict zoning regulations by the Israeli authorities, many Palestinians, unable to get building permits, have built anyway, and their homes have been slated for demolition. Acquisition of occupied land is a direct violation of the 4th Geneva Convention.

We travel through the Palestinian refugee camp of Shuffat, just East of Jerusalem, to the home of Salim Shawamieh, whose home has been destroyed and rebuilt four times!

Salim Shawamieh, whose home in Shufat Refugee Camp has been destroyed and rebuilt four times. (Bob Haynes)

Mr. Shawamieh explains to our group, "Imagine sitting there, having a meal with your family. All of a sudden, you are surrounded by troops, and tear gas is thrown into your home, forcing you to evacuate. This is 'ethnic cleansing', 'a quiet transfer', making our lives horrible."

Rabbi Ascherman believes he is working for a better Israel. He is part of the Israeli and Palestinian "coalition of hope", planning for a better future. "But I have had my share of death threats," he says.

Palestine-Israel Journal

Hillel Schenker. (Bob Haynes)
WaPSR delegation next visits the offices of Palestine-Israel Journal in East Jerusalem. We meet with the Israeli co-editor, Hillel Schenker, also a founder of "Peace Now", back in the 1980's. Palestine-Israel Journal was founded during the early Oslo accords in 1993.

Its co-editor is Ziad Abu Ziad, a Palestinian who lives in a town called Nasarriyeh in the West Bank. It used to be only a short 10 minute drive away from their main office in East Jerusalem, but now Nasarriyeh is behind The Wall and the Checkpoints, so now it takes more than 45 minutes, if you are lucky. Mr. Abu Ziad holds a West Bank identity card, which means he can no longer come to Jerusalem, unless the Israeli authorities grant him specific permission to visit, which almost never happens. So unfortunately, Mr. Abu Ziad cannot be with us today.

Palestine-Israel journal is published quarterly in English. It is 128 pages, half of which is devoted to a central theme. Thanks to e-mail, cellular phones, and virtual cyber-meetings, the two editors can carry on, even when they are unable to meet. Such is life building bridges in spite of the difficulties of movement in Jerusalem, where 3 faiths are concentrated and locked in a cycle of intimidation and violence.

This is unfortunate according to Mr. Schenker, who believes that the Israelis and Palestinians were only 2 weeks away from a final agreement in January, 2001 at the end of the Clinton and Barak administrations. Then Bush and Ariel Sharon came to power, and warm relations of the two sides deteriorated significantly.

Now according to Schenker, most Israelis in Tel Aviv cope by blocking out the reality on the other side. Meanwhile, the economy has plummeted on both sides. The Israeli economy continues to be propped up by American aid, while the Palestinian economy has fallen apart. Mr. Schenker still believes the ultimate solution will be based on the pre-1967 borders, perhaps with a few land swaps where the Palestinian state is given comparable lands in Israel in exchange for a few of the larger settlement blocks that Israel has built in the West Bank.

Machsum Watch

Nurit Steinfeld. (Bob Haynes)
Next, we board our bus and go to a park in West Jerusalem, where we meet two Israeli women, Nurit and Hannah, who are part of an organization of 500 Israeli women, known as Machsum ("checkpoint" in Hebrew) Watch. Its members have been at 46 checkpoints over 3000 times, in efforts to curtail acts of abuse by the Israeli military on the Palestinian population. Machsum Watch's premise is that "If you are being observed, you will behave better."

According to these women, "the Army listens to us." Machsum Watch had been able to reduce the number of out-and-out human rights abuses at the checkpoints; however this has produced ambivalence with regard to their purpose.

"We don't want to improve the occupation; we want to put an end to the occupation." Machsun published pictures and reports in Israel about a Palestinian man at a checkpoint being forced at gunpoint to play his violin. "Play something sad." The soldier said. This story had a great impact on the conscience of many Israelis, even though no-one died in this incident. But it brought back memories of the Nazis in occupied Poland during WW II, who forced Jewish violinists to do the same thing before killing them.

We are taken to Abu Dis, a once upscale Palestinian suburb of East Jerusalem, where the wall is now separating Palestinian residents from their jobs, their schools and their health facilities.

A section of the Wall at Abu Dis where Palestinians squeeze through a small hole to travel between home and work. (Bill Dienst)

We watch as people climb up and squeeze through a gap in the wall where they are met on the Jerusalem side by Israeli Police, who are accompanied by an attack dog, and a Palestinian collaborator/Informant who gets special privileges for pointing out who, among the Palestinians passing by, should be singled out for interrogation and/or detention. This wall is completely destroying the economic viability of Abu Dis.

Israeli soldiers and attack dog at a section of the the Wall in Abu Dis. (Bill Dienst)

Next, we travel to the southeast border of municipal Jerusalem to the Palestinian village of Al Walaja. This village is now in a precarious situation, due to its strategic position. It interrupts the territorial continuity between West Jerusalem, and the Gush Etzion block of settlements, constructed since 1967 in the Southern part of East Jerusalem, which was conquered in the 6 day war.

In Al Walaja, the land has been designated as in the municipality of Jerusalem, but the villagers carry Palestinian ID passports, and are considered residents of the Palestinian territories.

"An absurd situation is thus created. The land is in the jurisdiction of Jerusalem/Israel, but the villagers . . . are considered as from the Palestinian territories. As such, they are banned from entering Israel. Simply by living in their own homes, they are in breach of the law, and face penalties and expulsion."

Recently, the Israeli authorities have destroyed over 20 buildings and issued demolition orders for about 30 more, due to lack of building permits, which of course, are not issued to Palestinians.

Additionally, Al Walaja residents are subjected to incessant harassments due to the unfortunate location of where they live. These harassments include night arrests (since they are forbidden to live in their own homes, which are situated in an area of Jerusalem), imposing extortionate fines for unlicensed building, demolition orders, blocking of roads, vehicle confiscations, threats and intimidation. All of this is designed to impoverish the inhabitants of Al Walaja, and induce them to abandon there homes and give up their land.

Next part: Our dinner with Mordechai Vanunu.

Dr. Bill Dienst is a rural family and emergency room physician from Omak, Washington, USA. In March 2005, he traveled to Palestine and Israel as part of a delegation sponsored by Washington State Physicians for Social Responsibility (WaPSR). The delegation met with prominent Palestinians as well as members of the Israeli peace movement. They also traveled inside the Kiryat Arba'a settlement to hear a prominent member of the settler movement. In this series of articles, Dr. Dienst describes these meetings. Dr. Dienst has been to Israel-Palestine twice before. In November 2003, he spent 10 days in Gaza sponsored by Gaza Community Health Programme, and in 1985, he spent 4 1/2 months in Egypt the West Bank and Gaza sponsored by the Palestine Red Crescent Society. End.