Singing the Bite Me Song

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October 15, 2003

Kevin Sites Iraq blog is BACK!

He's gone to MSNBC now, but writes on the site that it is still and independent and personal project, although NBC gets right of refusal to stuff that goes in there. See the terms in his own words below:

Kevin Sites Blog

The blog is reopen for business. It has been seven months since this site went silent. Time for everyone to get back to work. To all of you who have made this place so interesting with your informed and intelligent discussions, I thank you. For all who have been so kind as to inquire about my welfare—I also thank you and apologize for not being able to respond. When CNN politely (I mean this sincerely) asked me to stop blogging I felt it was my obligation to do so immediately and completely. CNN was signing my checks at the time and sent me to Iraq. Although I felt the blog was a separate and independent journalistic enterprise, they did not. Period. We move on.

Now I am freelancing again, but currently on-assignment in Iraq with MSNBC. I had been a long time staff member with NBC News and feel comfortable back with my old friends. MSNBC has also agreed to allow me to continue with my PERSONAL and may I stress, NON-AFFILIATED weblog. However, there are a few understandable stipulations which I want to relate to you:

1) I’m here because NBC News has hired me to be here, therefore the observations and experiences in Iraq that I relate to you this blog would probably not happen without them.
2) They have the right of first refusal on anything that I write that relates to this assignment. That means I run it by them and if they want it they will publish it on MSNBC.COM. It will be republished here.
3) If it’s something they’re not interested in or not directly related to an assignment they’ve paid me to do—it can appear here first. I think that’s fair and bypasses any of the editorial oversight and ownership issues that we encountered in the first run of

That being said, I look forward to a renewed dialogue on the very serious as well as the inane. We hear so much about the “synergy” of media companies with the so-called vertical integration of different communication businesses, well here’s the chance for individual “synergy” to impact media coverage. I’d like to know what you see as the shortcomings of media coverage in Iraq and elsewhere. What aren’t you getting? What are you getting too much of? I welcome your well-conceived story ideas, relevant information and observations or valuable sources that may contribute to better journalism and a more informed public.

BTW in the spirit of full disclosure, aside from a few video skills—I’m a techno-neophyte, not some kind of blogging pioneer. I like to write and shoot, but I did not and would not know how to lay the code that made this thing. Cyber genius Xeni Jardin, a cross between Annie Lennox and Albert Einstein is this site’s creator and producer.

Here endeth the words of Kevin Sites.

October 15, 2003 at 07:37 PM in War/Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 12, 2003

The Rise of Fascism in the US

Hey y'all, stay sharp, because more of this stuff is coming in US the BROWN SHIRT NATION. Welcome to John Ashcroft's Amerika. Hope you enjoyed your stay.

On a secondary note, my guess is that there are communities of expatriots forming around the world, outside the US, people who can no longer abide the loss of liberty and the trashing of the US Constitution. I mean, do you stay and fight the fascists, or do you bug out? Email me if you are scared to put something in the comments field here.


Land Of The Free?

Homeland Security deports fiancee of Homeland Security staffer

Dan Hughes sez,

This just hit the wire about my brother, who works *for* Homeland Security, and his fiance' who was incarcerated on Yom Kippur last week *by* Homeland Security. The story broke on the front page this morning.

Beate (Bay - ah - tah), Trevor's fiance', was returning to the US from Germany. She had interviewed with career diplomats at the American Embassy just weeks before and was granted a 6-month visa. Nevertheless, when she landed in Atlanta she was interrogated for six hours, led away in handcuffs with criminals, booked into the Atlanta prison system (finger prints, mug shots and a group cell) and the next day was placed in solitary confinement in a white room with nothing save a toilet. She was left without food for 20+ hours and finally deported to Germany. The whole time being told that she was not a criminal, nor suspected of any crime!

And from the Land of the Free web site:

What Happened
In Beate’s Own Words

I spent the night of 06 October 2003 in an American jail--Kenneshaw Jail, almost one hour from Atlanta airport. I was hand cuffed and treated as though I had committed a heinous crime. Alongside me were numerous males, all of whom had broken US law, and one other woman, from El Salvador, with whom I shared my jail experience.

The rage and defiance I felt/feel coupled with exhaustion, absolute disappointment for not being to fly on to see Trevor and sheer disbelief regarding what was happening was the roller coaster I went on for 2 days... and still am.

I left for Atlanta Oct. 6th. Before checking in at Stuttgart Airport, Germany, I was already told that despite having a valid b1/b2 visa and questioned as to the point of my trip (visiting my fiancé…) to what I am doing with my life (enrolled at a university in London on a distance learning course) that they should warn me the US sees a visa as merely “knocking on their door” and nothing more. I felt they were exaggerating a little and felt they probably thought that I wasn’t telling the truth as they gave me examples of people whom had been returned – most of whom had stated something different in their visa application than what they told immigration.

After 9 hours on Delta I stood in line in Atlanta – and was sent to “immigration orange”. “Immigration green” I had the privilege of enjoying for 3 hours on my last trip to the US.

The 6 hours following that were rather phenomenal, and I held on to shreds of hope that I would not be deported. I was interrogated by a man who failed to make eye contact with me once, yelled questions across the entire office at me, went through my bag, read everything and took me apart... from my nationality, birth place, to where and why I studied in London to which church my parents attend... repeating to me over and over that I was failing to convince him that I was a permanent German resident. I answered everything truthfully having nothing to hide. My crime in a nutshell, if there is a nutshell in this case, is being engaged to an American and “never” living in Germany long enough to convince this one man that Germany is home.

And so, it became clear that he was sending me “home” (whatever that was of course) I fail to know how really to convey the absolute fury and rage at his arrogant, rude, discriminating behavior. It took almost an hour to get all my fingerprints because they kept failing to do it correctly. He thought we had now reached a stage at which he could joke around with me. I resented this man so completely.

By 11PM we were heading for jail. I was finally “allowed” to make a phone call to Trevor and also Sue, his mum, and I was able to at least let some of the feeling from the last day out.

All my belongings were taken, including all my jewelry and I was handcuffed and marched out with the other “detainees” to the van. It was reiterated on several accounts that “these were just proceedings, I was not a criminal…” Somehow they seemed to think this would make it more acceptable to me.

So we drove into the night, I looked out at rainy America, ‘land of the free’, through crisscrossed metal bars, wishing I was with my fiancé in Colorado Springs. Trying to comfort the woman next to me, who spoke almost no English, and being thankful that I did, we arrived at the jail almost one hour later. Crass ordering around, mug shots, receiving blankets and being put in our cells followed. We briefly acknowledged the other women in the jail there and I headed for my hard bunk bed.

I thought about all the love and support I had in this and I tried to sleep. It was loud and light and toilets flushed all night, you could hear the men’s raucous voices. It was, to be sure, interesting to slip into this world and feel all the intense emotions I did, but knowing I would be free again tomorrow. Back in Europe tomorrow. I surprised myself that night, I was OK.

The next morning - early - a loud “Killguss! out of bed NOW” beckoned me into phase two of my “detainee” experience. I was put back into a van and taken to the airport. I was stuck in solitary confinement with no belongings for over 4 hours. I finally bashed on the door and demanded to be told what I was doing in there, why I couldn’t sit at the front in the immigration office like the night before and demanded food after close to 20 hours of forced fasting... Someone finally let me out after being refused the first time. My plea to make phone calls earlier and let out of the cold white room, essentially a toilet, as that was the only thing keeping me company.

Another 6 hours of waiting ensued. I escaped to the toilet with my mobile several times to make calls to Trev, got to know some South Africans with a similar story being deported. This was complete and utter injustice. The desire to ever return – regardless how long we had been banned from entering – was non-existent. We were all furious, resigned to our fate and yet telling ourselves that everything was going to be OK, and joking with each other about the absurdity of it all.

I was finally ‘escorted’ half an hour prior to take-off. My passport was handed to a stewardess. I have never looked forward to a Delta flight more in my life. I was given three middle seats to sleep on; a row clearly held for the Germans returned every day.

The same woman from the passport control in Germany met me. She was concerned to hear my story and how I had been treated etc. I appreciated the time they took to do so. She told me of similar cases. Of a WIFE that had recently been returned, married to an American military man. Of a musician who had been invited by several American orchestras and had a visa, but was returned because he was questioned as to whether he would be earning money. He was adamant that he had been invited and was doing this voluntarily, but he was interrogated so long that he added he might receive gifts for helping. He couldn’t say. That was considered reason enough to deport him. The last 4 months have seen a wave of people returned to Stuttgart Airport. For almost 2 weeks there was a person on the flight back every day.

I am tired. I was met by my aunt and uncle at the airport. I am happy to be home and clean again (!), to be in Europe, but very sad to be without Trevor. I know we can get through this and have been doing so. We have more dramatic changes ahead. I struggle to know how I will ever find the desire to return again at this point.

October 12, 2003 at 09:53 PM in War/Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 07, 2003

The story Arnold doesn't want you to hear

Schwarzenegger's Enron connection. Greg Palast reports that Schwarzenegger is working with Ken Lay to ensure that Enron's ill-gotten gains are not returned to California's treasury.

Here's the story Arnold doesn't want you to hear. The biggest single threat to Ken Lay and the electricity lords is a private lawsuit filed last year under California's unique Civil Code provision 17200, the "Unfair Business Practices Act." This litigation, heading to trial now in Los Angeles, would make the power companies return the $9 billion they filched from California electricity and gas customers.

It takes real cojones to bring such a suit. Who's the plaintiff taking on the bad guys? Cruz Bustamante, Lieutenant Governor and reluctant leading candidate against Schwarzenegger...

The pay-off? Once Arnold is Governor, he blesses the sweetheart settlements with the power companies. When that happens, Bustamante's court cases are probably lost. There aren't many judges who will let a case go to trial to protect a state if that a governor has already allowed the matter to be "settled" by a regulatory agency.


(Thanks, Lisa!) [Boing Boing Blog]

October 7, 2003 at 01:39 AM in Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Browse 1.6 million Enron emails for free Browse 1.6 million of Enron's emails for free, courtesy of the Federal Energy Regulation Commission. (Click on the "search iCONECT link in the table on this page, and wait through the slow Java check.) In among the secret dealings and strategic discussions are personal emails about one night stands and evil mother-in-laws.
[via this WSJ article] [MetaFilter]

October 7, 2003 at 01:30 AM in Singing the Bite Me Song | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 06, 2003

Sen Bob Graham bows out

Bob Graham announced, on his weblog, that he's ending his campaign for President. [Scripting News]

Blog Graham: Statement by Senator Bob Graham, D-Florida

This is the (somewhat effusive and admiring) comment I wrote to him on his weblog:

Senator Graham,

Best wishes to you. I hope that as you continue your great service in the upcoming elections, you do what you can for the Florida election system.

Reading the work of Greg Palast, I cannot take any close election in Florida with any kind of credibility. I can't take any kind of governmental relationship with the company ChoicePoint with any kind of credibility. I can't believe a state would so willfully disenfranchise voters as the state governments of Florida and Texas have.

This isn't a fight for just one candidate or another. It is right there with the League of Women Voters (and the Suffragettes, as those wonderful UK National Archive photos reveal, women willing to be jailed, give up everything) for the heart and soul of DEMOCRACY.

Voters cannot be disenfranchised in the next election. It would mark fully the shift from the US Republic to the US Empire.

One party cannot consistently rejoice at rainy election days and low turnouts and have voters take that party as seriously committed to democratic processes. It is one small step from such rejoicing to the embrace of ChoicePoint.

You, sir, are the dude to save Florida. The whole world needs you.


October 6, 2003 at 11:56 PM in Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack