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May 15, 2003

Politicians from both sides of the aisle are worried about the state of affairs in Iraq. Hmph. I ain't gonna say it.

And the U.N. is being asked to declare the USofA as the governing authority in Iraq.

The Toronto Star argues (as I did yesterday, I believe) that the abrupt shake-up in the team supposed to administer Iraq is virtually an admission of failure for the USofA's original plan.

Get me a calculator

In the world of tax cuts, no one is happy .

The Senate's tax writers, working within a budget that limited tax cuts to $350 billion over the coming decade, wrote a bill that proved unpopular with both Republicans and Democrats.
That's not unusual when it comes to compromises.

But wait. What's this?

The new dividend plan would cost $140 billion, and Republicans propose paying for it by terminating two tax reductions in the bill - one for married couples and one that allows business to write off more of their equipment investments - in a few years.
So, the one tax that benefited rich and poor equally, if proportionately, disappears? Poor married couples still get hit with the "marriage penalty" while they don't get the benefit of any of the tax cut on stock dividends because they're not wealthy enough to own stock.

Honestly, this is too complicated for me. I had trouble following when the article was talking about Republican hopes and Democratic hopes and had to make notes on a piece of paper to keep track of who wants to end the marriage penalty tax and who wants to get rid of it.

Hide and Seek

The (Republican) Texas Governor is telling the absent legislators to come back to work

"Day in and day out, there are pieces of legislation that members don't agree with," Perry said at a news conference. "The democratic process is to debate and vote them. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. All the people of the state of Texas are asking is to let democracy ... work."
I got an idea for you, Rick. How about you and the rest of the Republicans in the Texas legislature stop trying to dink with the court-designed districts and get on with working on legislature that the people of Texas need right now?
On Tuesday, DeLay's office released a statement saying, "Texans deserve representation that reflects their values and beliefs.

"Fifty-six percent of Texas voters cast their vote for a Republican congressional candidate last fall, yet Texas sends more Democrats than Republicans to Congress. We're trying to change that," he said."

Why? You didn't care when over 50% of the country voted against George Bush and the court sent him to the White House.
In Washington, some Republicans poked fun at the walkout in Texas, but Democrats pointed to a 1988 incident in the U.S. Senate, when Republicans in that chamber boycotted a debate on a campaign finance reform bill.
Heh. Heh

And Molly Ivins speaks out about the "Texas Lockstep."

Idle Research

Was the Vinnell Corporation really a front for the CIA?

According to their website, they're a Northrop Grumman company but other than that and a recruiting offer for those who want to go be soldiers in Saudi Arabia, their website is short of details. Northrup is a well-known defense contractor, of course, but they do a lot of things (they're a conglomerate), so that doesn't tell me much.

So, I went Googling.

Here's the CorpWatch brief on the company.

"We are not mercenaries because we are not pulling triggers," a former U.S. Army officer told the magazine. "We train people to pull triggers." One of his colleagues wryly pointed out: "Maybe that makes us executive mercenaries."
Very clever.

What is this "jobs corps" thing? This looks like a government-funded program. In fact it is a government-funded program. Why have I ne ver heard of it before?

Founded in 1964, Job Corps is America's leading residential employment training program for young adults. Job Corps is funded by Congress and administered through the U.S. Department of Labor.

As a national, primarily residential, training program, Job Corps' mission is to attract eligible young adults, teach them the skills they need to become employable and independent, and place them in meaningful jobs or further education.

Why have I never heard of this before?

Another article found on-line says Vinnell was a BDM corporation in 1999.

Someone cared enough to create a website devoted to the downfall of Carlyle, which apparently was the parent company of BDM when it was the parent company of Vinnell. This site lists Vinnell as "one of the three more significant companies of mercenariat (military council) in the world" and added this:

Vinnell Corp is regarded as maintaining the bonds more quétroits with the CIA According to Ken Silverstein, the operational ones are many veterans of the CIA and special forces.
One can go up the bonds of Vinnell jusquau Vietnam where it would have achieved the dirty works of the CIA (one laurait called: "our small force mercenary")
(The weird characters aren't my fault. This is how the page translated.) This, of course, proves little more than that the CIA connection is a long-time theory for some. (FWIW, the CIA is, in fact, known to operate "cover" or "front" companies largely staffed with their own ex-agents.)

Vinnell also has a $118B contract that runs through September of this year for "overseas base maintenance."

Apparently BDM was acquired by Ford Aerospace at some point and whether Vinnell was sold to Northrup at that time, previously, or later, there's no way of knowing (without more research than I'm willing to do).

Who is BDM?

Heh. Heh Whoever they are, I doubt they're this company.

But, not surprisingly, BDM shows up over a IraqWatch, in a 1992 document.

The U.S. Commerce Department licensed the following strategic American exports for Saddam Hussein's atomic weapon programs between 1985 and 1990. Virtually all of the items were shipped to Iraq; all are useful for making atomic bombs or long-range missiles. United Nations inspectors in Iraq are still trying to find most of them. The list is based on Commerce Department export licensing records; the dollar amount of each transaction is as claimed by the exporting company. It was compiled by Gary Milhollin, a law professor at the University of Wisconsin and director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, and Diana Edensword, a research analyst at the project.
BDM seems to have supplied computer equipment. (By the way, have you seen the reports about Bush urging the Russians not to supply Iran with the technology to make nuclear weapons? Pot, meet kettle.)

Other than being listed on a bunch of resumes, or cited in some publications, I can't find much else about BDM. And most of what I found was dated from the early 90s or before.

Bored with that for the moment, I offer more recent news. Here's another article about how the recent terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia was more anti-Vinnell than anti-American. Do read this one for the connections between Vinnell and...yeah, you guessed it...the Bush family!

The World Of Blog

Atrios is right and this needs to be stopped. (He's also right that our baseball stadium-building President isn't going to be sounding off much about the practice.)

Everyone's talking about Bill Gates. I don't care if Microsoft is a monopoly or not. The corporation is, in my mind, something separate from the man. This isn't the first time Gates has made a substantial philanthropic gesture, as the article points out, and I applaud.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:59 AM