2nd Quarter 2004
Episodes 343, 344, 345, 346, 347, 348, 349, 350, 351

Episode #343: Bonding, Bonding
First Broadcast: 3/29/04 Opening animation cut off. Volume lowered about 10 minutes into the program.
Repeated: 8/9/04 Opening animation and most of the opening title cut off.
This week, the results of a study were released which seem to indicate a correlation between the mass introduction of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) into the American diet, and the subsequent rise of obesity in the United States, which started at about the same time. More than one person has noted that fructose is not absorbed by the body in the same way that other sugars like glucose are; for instance, fructose does not trigger the production of insulin like glucose does, and fructose does not stimulate the production of chemicals that tell the body it is full, like glucose does. Now, the corn industry is quick to point out that this makes no difference, since HFCS has almost the same percentages of glucose and fructose that regular table sugar, a.k.a. sucrose, has (e.g., 45% glucose and 55% fructose in HFCS, versus a 50-50 breakdown in sucrose), so HFCS can't be nearly as much a factor as a decrease in physical exercise, or something like that. But, consider this:

Now: If, by consuming HFCS, the body is using less energy than it would use by consuming sucrose; and if, when the body consumes more glucose than it needs for energy, it converts the excess glucose into fat; then doesn't it stand to reason that if someone consumes HFCS instead of sucrose in many foods over a period of YEARS, then all that unused energy (that is, all that energy that would otherwise be used to convert sucrose into fructose and glucose) might be converted into fat, substantially increasing the likelihood of someone gaining weight or becoming obese as a result? If any nutritionists want to study this further, be my guest. I think I'm on to something.

Episode #344: The Serfs Fly On
First Broadcast: 4/5/04 Program started late at 2:01:40 AM. Program cut off at exactly 2:28 AM.
To us here at Free New York, that refers to the commercial airlines that ordinary Americans travel on, as opposed to the private jets that Attorney General John Ashcroft has been traveling on since July, 2001, because of a "threat assessment" by the F.B.I. that month. What kind of threat? No one knows yet. Will that possibly be one of the things discussed during the questioning of National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice this April 8th before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States? Will the Commission ask her why, in a speech about terrorism which Rice was scheduled to make on September 11, 2001, she had nothing to say about Islamic fundamentalist groups like al Qaeda? Will the Commission ask Rice about whether she was the one who prevented George W. Bush from seeing a memo that said there was no link between Iraq and the events of 9/11/2001, as former White House anti-terrorism advisor Richard Clarke detailed on 60 Minutes? Among other things, Clarke said on that program:

"I said, 'Mr. President. We've done this before. We have been looking at this. We looked at it with an open mind. There's no connection.'

"He came back at me and said, "Iraq! Saddam! Find out if there's a connection.' And in a very intimidating way. I mean that we should come back with that answer. We wrote a report."

Clarke continued, "It was a serious look. We got together all the FBI experts, all the CIA experts. We wrote the report. We sent the report out to CIA and found FBI and said, 'Will you sign this report?' They all cleared the report. And we sent it up to the president and it got bounced by the National Security Advisor or Deputy. It got bounced and sent back saying, 'Wrong answer. ... Do it again.'

"I have no idea, to this day, if the president saw it, because after we did it again, it came to the same conclusion. And frankly, I don't think the people around the president show him memos like that. I don't think he sees memos that he doesn't-- wouldn't like the answer."

Will the commission ask Rice the tough questions that need asking? Or will they throw her softball questions, like the ones tossed by the White House press corps at Bush on the eve of the Iraq War on March 6, 2003? ("How is your faith guiding you?" comes to mind.) Either way, it should be interesting.

Episode #345: Department of Offense
First Broadcast: 4/12/04
Was there anything illuminating in Condoleeza Rice's testimony before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States? Do the contents of the President's Daily Briefing of August 6, 2001, suggest that George W. Bush knew more about a possible terrorist attack than the public has been led to believe? Are former enemies in Iraq now united against a common enemy--namely, the United States? Are people finally realizing now that depleted uranium is a danger to everyone in Iraq--an issue Free New York has been talking about since at least December 7, 1998? A big maybe to all of the above.

Episode #346: Things Are Afoot
First Broadcast: 4/19/04
This week, I express my annoyance with--among other things--a distinctive technique of the Bush administration: repeating the same useless phrase over and over again, in the hope that it sticks. The phrase in January was "grave and gathering threat," which the White House tried to retroactively substitute for the "imminent" threat it insisted Iraq was to the United States less than two years ago. These past two weeks, the phrase was "war footing," as a description of what the U.S. did not have prior to September 11, 2001, and what the U.S. is supposedly "on" now. Witness National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice's testimony before the 9-11 commission on April 8, 2004:

"And, tragically, for all the language of war spoken before September 11, this country simply was not on a war footing."

"We weren't on war footing. We weren't behaving in that way."

"Well, I think that when I made the comment that the country was not on war footing, that didn't just mean the executive branch was not on war footing."

Now, compare that to George W. Bush's press conference of April 13, 2004:
"And the other thing I look back on and realize is that we weren't on a war footing. The country was not on a war footing, and yet the enemy was at war with us. And it's -- it didn't take me long to put us on a war footing. And we've been on war ever since."

"Well, I think, as I mentioned, it's -- the country wasn't on war footing, and yet we're at war."

"And my answer to that question is, is that, again I repeat what I said earlier -- prior to 9/11 the country really wasn't on a war footing."

At least Rice spread out her three mentions of the jargon du jour over the course of two-and-a-half hours. Bush, appearing to make up for lost time, made his first three mentions in the course of a minute. Nonetheless, Bush and Rice combined seem to have had little impact with this attempt to coin a phrase: very little people, I think, have any idea what a "war footing" is supposed to be in the first place. Chalk one victory up to common sense winning out over word manipulation. Let's hope the public becomes even more savvy to it before the general election.

Episode #347: I Love Baked Goods
First Broadcast: 4/26/04
Repeated: 6/28/04; 8/23/04 Episode started at 2:01:23 AM, cutting off most of our opening animation. Transmission cut off exactly at 2:28 AM, cutting off all our end credits; 9/19/05
On April 17, 2004, Free New York went outside to cover two of the 1100 locations participating in MoveOn.org's "Bake Sale For Democracy" across the United States. We hovered around one sale at 140 Orchard Street, and another celebrity-ridden sale at teany, a restaurant owned by Moby and his wife Kelly at 90 Rivington Street. There, we had brushes with Eli Pariser, Janeane Garofalo, Al Sharpton, Rocco DiSpirito, and Al Franken--the latter of whom was more than happy to expound on the many problems of George W. Bush for us. MoveOn earned over $750,000 from these bake sales nationwide, and I think that's a great sign for democracy. If the 500,000 people who took part in this event keep it up from now until November, maybe Mr. Bush ought to get the moving vans ready now rather than later.

Episode #348: Segues of Champions
First Broadcast: 5/10/04 At 2:00:17 AM, transmission began with color bars for three seconds, then back to "Coming Up At..." bumper for about 20 seconds, then program began at about 2:00:46 AM.
From the disturbingly long Empire, to the disturbingly disturbing pictures taken of American troops torturing and humiliating Iraqi prisoners, this episode segued quite a bit from one extreme to the other. Did the Defense Department know about this abuse long before the photos were made public? Should Donald Rumsfeld be fired? Is this proof that the U.S. hasn't fully learned all the lessons of Vietnam? Yes, yes, and probably yes.

Episode #349: How Fair And Magnanimous We Are
First Broadcast: 5/17/04
Yes, it was so nice of us to invade Iraq, guns blazing, all in the name of ridding Iraq of "weapons of mass destruction" and showing Iraqis how much better life could be with the U.S. in charge, right? Well, the W.M.D. was a lie, around 10,000 Iraqi civillians have been killed so far, and--as all those photos of tortured and humiliated Iraqis have shown us--Americans can be just as sadistic as Saddam Hussein's guards when they put their minds to it. And yet, even though George W. Bush reacted by saying "I share a deep disgust that those prisoners were treated the way they were treated," and even though Republican Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado said "I don't know how the hell these people got into our Army," some Republicans still think the rest of the world is exaggerating. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, for instance, said "Some people are overreacting. The people who are against the war are using this to their own political ends." And, Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma said on May 11:

"I'm probably not the only one up at this table that is more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment. These prisoners, you know they're not there for traffic violations. If they're in cellblock 1-A or 1-B, these prisoners, they're murderers, they're terrorists, they're insurgents. Many of them probably have American blood on their hands and here we're so concerned about the treatment of those individuals."
This, he said, even though only one day earlier on May 10, a report issued by the Red Cross "said coalition intelligence officers estimated that 70-90 percent of Iraqi detainees were arrested by mistake." Terrorists, indeed.

Stanford psychology professor Philip G. Zimbardo, in a recent op-ed in the Boston Globe, pointed out the similarities between his prison experiment in 1971 and what those Americans did in Iraq within this past year:

"The terrible things my guards did to their prisoners were comparable to the horrors inflicted on the Iraqi detainees. My guards repeatedly stripped their prisoners naked, hooded them, chained them, denied them food or bedding privileges, put them into solitary confinement, and made them clean toilet bowls with their bare hands. ... In a situation that implicitly gives permission for suspending moral values, many of us can be morphed into creatures alien to our usual natures. My research and that of my colleagues has catalogued the conditions for stirring the crucible of human nature in negative directions. Some of the necessary ingredients are: diffusion of responsibility, anonymity, dehumanization, peers who model harmful behavior, bystanders who do not intervene, and a setting of power differentials."
In other words, it's not just a few soldiers here and there that's the problem; it's the system itself that's the problem. If you put ordinary people with no training in a horrible, dehumanizing environment, and if you break laws and disregard human rights to get there, and if you constantly reinforce the false idea that by doing all this you are somehow fighting "terror", and avenging the deaths of September 11, 2001, then you shouldn't be too surprised if those people get the idea that breaking the law, disregarding human rights, and treating everyone horribly like a "terrorist" is somehow doing a service to their country. Where does the fault ultimately lie? With the people in charge who orchestrated this premeditated war to begin with. Fire Rumsfeld! And Fire Bush while you're at it!

Episode #350: It Just Gets Worse And Worse
First Broadcast: 5/24/04
Yes, of course I'm talking about more accounts of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison at the hands of American soldiers. Not only are ordinary Iraqis being tortured and humilated, but unarmed journalists are subject to inexcusable abuse as well. The White House knew way back in 2002 that abusive interrogation techniques might make the U.S. liable for War Crimes violations, and the State Department seemed to object fairly strongly to any attempts to circumvent the Geneva Convention protocols on prisoners of war--which is the path the White House ultimately decided to take. Is that one of the reasons why Secretary of State Colin Powell was--for once--brutally honest in his interview on Meet The Press on May 16, and admitted that he was wrong about the allegations he made in his speech to the U.N. on February 5, 2003? Witness:

"It turned out that the sourcing was inaccurate and wrong and, in some cases, deliberately misleading. And for that, I am disappointed, and I regret it."
Could statements like that also be the reason why Powell's Deputy Press Secretary, Emily Miller, tried to pull the plug on Powell's interview before he was finished? "He's still asking me questions," Powell said. "No, he's not," Miller told him. "Emily, get out of the way," Powell ordered, finishing the interview over Ms. Miller's objections. Was Miller's move a glimpse at the true colors of the White House--an administration bent on avoiding and covering up the truth every time it contradicts the party line? Perhaps. But, as long as the coverage of all this prisoner abuse stays in the spotlight, that tactic's effectiveness may finally be at an end.

Episode #351: The Phrase That Pays
First Broadcast: 6/7/04
This week, the phrase is "strong leader", the description that George W. Bush used almost three times in a row to describe outgoing CIA Director George Tenet, who turned in his resignation on June 3, 2004. Did Tenet jump or was he pushed? Over a year ago, Free New York pointed out how Tenet was one of many public officials who contradicted assertions made by the Bush White House about Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction" capabilities--assertions which so many people like Bush, Colin Powell, The New York Times, and countless others can't run away from fast enough now. Of course, Tenet also apparently said the W.M.D. case against Iraq was a "slam dunk," so who knows what he really thought at this point. My question: Since Tenet appears to be Bush's choice for a scapegoat about Iraq (remember how Tenet was blamed for letting those "sixteen words" get into Bush's 2003 State Of The Union address?), is Tenet resigning now so he won't be under any government restrictions when he decides to tell all he knows to the public before the November election? Or is he going to keep quiet, like Christie Whitman and Ari Fleisher before him? Also: Why hasn't anyone made a bigger issue about the Army violating the 13th Amendment by requiring soldiers to serve involuntarily past the ends of their tours of duty? Isn't involuntary servitude illegal if a person has not been duly convicted? Has anyone mentioned that George Bush outsourced his campaign fundraising to India? Does George Bush know that a factory he highlighted last year as having a bright future has been shut down by its owner, a man who raised over $2 million for Bush in 2003? Is anyone else concerned about any of this?

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