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Anti-Terrorism and the Death of the Chemistry Set 860

Posted by samzenpus
from the the-dark-side-of-phenolphthalein dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A recent unfortunate casualty of anti-terrorism laws is the home chemistry set. Once deemed the gift that saved Christmas, most Slashdotters probably remember early childhood experimentation with one of the many pre-packaged chemistry sets that were on the market. Unfortunately the FBI has decided that home chemistry sets are a threat to national security and they are rapidly disappearing from the market entirely. Those that remain are shallow boring versions of the old kits."
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Anti-Terrorism and the Death of the Chemistry Set

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  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu@gmai l . com> on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:07PM (#21191777) Journal

    You do know the government is just trying to take care of us, right? Heck, I got the warm fuzzy long ago when Claritin-D, technically an OTC drug would only be sold from behind TC, and then only if you present picture identification, and even then you could only purchase enough to take one a day for ten days! Of course, if it isn't in stock when you want to purchase, you're out of luck... but you're being taken care of. (If you didn't know, the government was/is protecting us from the proliferation of meth labs with this inane process... not that I've noticed much evidence meth labs have disappeared. I have been a lot more congested though.)

    Surprised chemistry sets didn't go this route long ago, what with their potential to put together explosives approaching that of a couple firecrackers combined! Warm fuzzies.

    I hate to rant about good intentions, but these don't even smell like good intentions any more. Terrorists couldn't care less about chemistry sets.

  • all the fun stuff (Score:3, Interesting)

    by User 956 (568564) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:09PM (#21191787) Homepage
    Those that remain are shallow boring versions of the old kits.

    What, no more ammonium nitrate, sodium pellets, and hunks of magnesium? Ah well, there's always mail-order.
  • Chemistry (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bloosqr (33593) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:22PM (#21191865) Homepage
    Its interesting, this was the subject of the first episode of "Wired Science" a new PBS episode. I can not agree more w/ the premise. The unfortunate part of what makes it even worse I think is due to terrorism/columbine etc even looking up this stuff will get scrutiny that wasn't really the case back when we were all kids. As an example of this I get the impression that from the press "peroxyacetone" is now unfortunately used by terrorists all the time (in fact that was the absurd uncomprehensible basis for the "no liquids" on planes).

    What was interesting about the Wired Science show was that show bemoaned the fact that chemistry sets are watered down but the show had a chemist talk about how dangerous using nonlaboratory conditions to run one of the "old school" experiments were.

    The irony of it was in this show that was going on about "dangerous" chemicals was that "dangerous" chemical was actually NI3 one of the standard things kids used to make all the time.

    On a personal note, I was one of those kids who was a total pyromaniac in high school / middle school, we eventually grew out of it of course, but we pretty much made everything one could easily get a hold of and then some. All of this was done in using "household" chemicals (and some ordering from chemical supply companies). The practical upshot of being a complete pyromaniac in was I ended up getting my undergraduate degree in chemistry/CS and getting a Ph.D. in chemistry and now am a faculty member (in physics randomly enough). At the end of the day it was "blowing stuff up" that made science cool, perhaps a little dangerous, perhaps even foolhardy but the fact that you could do so much w/ everyday chemicals sparked that interest in science, atoms and plain old tinkering ..

  • Re:options (Score:2, Interesting)

    by glavenoid (636808) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:23PM (#21191877) Journal
    A virtual chem lab is a great idea that I never would have thought of. A quick googling yielded several results that I'm off to check out right now.

    I had several chemistry sets as a kid and spent many, many hours conducting experiments, often to my own harm (poisonous gases, chloral hydrate, etc...:-) High school chemistry almost got me arrested, and led in part to my expulsion from public school. Now, I'd like to get back into it, even if only for the theory, and as such a well designed virtual lab would suffice. Thanks for the idea, stoolpigeon!

  • I've still got mine (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hammarlund (568027) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:25PM (#21191895)
    I sure do. It must be 40 years old now, but I've still got my Lionel-Porter Chemcraft Chemistry Lab. I'm afraid to open the small chemical bottles to see if they're still good. I've got 17 of them, a Porter alcohol burner, a couple of test tube and the Adventures With Chemistry book, copyrighted in 1958, and filled with experiments. Apparently this was produced by the Lionel Toy Corporation.

    The closest thing to terrorism I could find was Experiment 344 - Proteins Contain Sulfur: Mix some egg white with a smalll amount of Calcium Oxide (No. 20) to make a dough. Put this mixture in a test tube and heat. After the mass turns brown, cool it and fill the tube 1/4 full of water. Shake and pour off the brown liquid into another test tube. Add 2 measures of Sodium Bisulfate (No. 7) and heat to boiling. Remove fromthe heat and smell for hydrogen sulfide gas. This smell is like rotten eggs.

    I had some fun with that one.
  • Back in my day (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Caity (140482) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:39PM (#21192003)

    I remember getting a chemistry set when I was a kid (mid-eighties I suppose) and I think the most exciting thing I managed to do with it was to make some clear liquid turn red, then clear again.

    It was rather disappointing when compared to some of my experiments with Things Found In Every Kitchen...

    My (all girls) high school chemistry teacher expressed a lot of dismay at the changing laws about what chemicals she was allowed to show us. The education department provided these videos of "safe" demonstrations of the various properties of dangerous things that they were supposed to show us in lieu of a live demo. She'd show us the video... then swear us all to secrecy and produce an ancient brown jar of [sodium|sulfur|some other now banned chemical] from the bowels of the school's ancient chemical safe and repeat a fair portion of the experiments for us.

    Sometimes it's good to go to an old school ... we only had to evacuate the building once (lesson learned: sulfur + fire = bad).

    I'll never forget a particular class during organic chemistry. We'd made some crappy alcohol and were distilling it and she told us about how at university she and her classmates in the chemistry department used to have massive cocktail parties using the pure ethanol stock.

  • by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @11:20PM (#21192285) Homepage
    Some brief web surfing turned up Chem C3000 [thamesandkosmos.com] as being the best available. The glassware to chemical ratio is much higher than the sets of yore with racks [timewarptoys.com] and racks [timewarptoys.com] of little bottles of chemicals. I remember chemistry sets used to be advertised by the number of chemicals -- now it seems to be the number of "experiments".
  • by Marful (861873) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @11:23PM (#21192301)
    "Necessity is the plea for every infringement of Human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves." - Colonial America sympathesizer William Pitt, British House of Commons, November 18, 1783

    "If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

    "Doctors have been caught using poisons, and those who falsely assume the name of philosopher have occasionally been detected in the gravest crimes. Let us give up eating, it often makes us ill; let us never go inside houses, for sometimes they collapse on their occupants; let never a sword be forged for a soldier, since it might be used by a robber." - ancient Roman educator Marcus Fabius Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, II, xvi
  • Re:Back in my day (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dunbal (464142) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @11:32PM (#21192377)
    I was lucky enough to study A-level chemistry in the UK. Despite the fact that I sold out and went into biology (medicine), I used to love chemistry. Our teacher (master) demonstrated the thermite process live. I've seen what happens when you put metallic lithium, sodium and potassium in regular water, etc. We got to play with a LOT of transition elements, making all the pretty colors with the various salts. And of course, organic chemistry was a riot.

    Poor kids. Chemistry really is fun. I guess those who really want to learn can. As far as I know they haven't banned the elements yet.
  • "By the people, for the people"?

    I prefer the following quote by Thomas Jefferson - "When governments fear the people there is liberty. When the people fear the government there is tyranny."

    Also "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security are deserving of neither." which is attributed to either Jefferson or Franklin, depending on where you find it.

    Both are very very applicable to the current state of affairs.
  • by fredklein (532096) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @12:15AM (#21192743)
    so that they can be narrowly channeled into their chosen field of study

    I was just reading a short sci-fi story in which the government used this exact thing to keep scientists in the dark. They were allowed to do work in nothing but their own little area of expertise. The government had a time machine, but kept very tight control over it. A scientist in a vaguely related field (gravity optics?) has a chance encounter with another scientist, and they discuss their work. One of their uncles is a Technical Writer, and he has a basic/good understanding of many different fields. Together, they work on creating their own time machine. Turns out the original machine was a fake all along, but they end up building a real one. The government arrives to shut them down, fearing the consequences of a machine that can look back thru time (people would 'playback' the goodtimes over and over, or voyeuristically watch other people. Then there's the fact you can set it to look back just a fraction of a second into the past, and effective have a real-time spying device.) But the uncle mailed copies of the plans to every other technical writer on the planet....
  • by SamP2 (1097897) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @12:18AM (#21192775)
    The "tyranny of the minority" you refer to can mean two different things.

    If you refer to the rich and powerful [wikipedia.org] controlling the country, then it is called an oligarchy [wikipedia.org] and is nothing new. The US constitution specifically tried to address one form [wikipedia.org] of oligarchy, although the success at preventing less overt [wikipedia.org] forms is debatable. In particular, you must be very careful about the means and ideology you choose at fighting oligarchy, or you might end up following this guy [wikipedia.org]. Also see this proof [wikipedia.org] that we'll be fucked no matter how we act.

    On the other hand, you could be referring to the vocal minority [wikipedia.org] problem, which, true, was not addressed in the constitution because they were not a problem at the time, but thanks to which we now live in the wonderful world of (insert-continent-here)-Americans [wikipedia.org], whites-first-is-racism-but-blacks-first-isn't [wikipedia.org], and inability to ever get anything done [wikipedia.org] except through force [wikipedia.org].
  • by spoco2 (322835) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @12:38AM (#21192919)
    Oh dear god... so, as long as all you nut-job Americans have guns, it's all ok.

    What a complete load of shite. Try looking at a whole lot of other countries without firearms being as stupendously prolific as they are in your beloved US of A... they're not all totalitarian regimes you know.

    you're not safe because you all have guns, and if you think you can sit back and let things happen just because you're packing heat, my god you're so very, very wrong.
  • by Technician (215283) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @12:58AM (#21193035)
    They care about kids having less and less of a chance to educate themselves and they care that kids curiosity isn't being fulfilled nearly as much.

    With the internet, the kids curiosity is being fulfilled more often than not. The problem with the internet isn't the lack of information. It is the dilution with distractions. Kids are more likely to spend time on myspace than on one of the science pages. There is more information online now than was ever accessible when I was a kid.

    The internet is the great equalizer. I remember the old chemistry sets of the 1969's. They were pretty boring with a few things that changed color and kept matches from burning and such. Online the high power learning is great. I can now find the information to build rockets from Salt Peter and powdered sugar, how to mix explosive gasses (Spud guns propane air mix), create fun reactions (Mentos and coke) (sodium and water) and lots of other fun stuff I couldn't do with the chemistry set of the 60's. Some stuff that is too dangerous or illegal to do yourself, there are online videos for your enjoyment. There is more info in the following links than is in most chemistry sets.
    http://www.burntlatke.com/ [burntlatke.com]
    http://www.jamesyawn.com/candyrocket/ [jamesyawn.com]
    http://eepybird.com/dcm1.html [eepybird.com]
    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_kind_of_liquid_is_in_instant_cold_packs [answers.com]
    http://www.humeseeds.com/stump.htm [humeseeds.com]
    http://www.ufomind.com/area51/articles/1996/popsci_9604/ [ufomind.com]
    http://theodoregray.com/PeriodicTable/ [theodoregray.com]
    http://www.theodoregray.com/PeriodicTable/Stories/011.2/ [theodoregray.com]
    http://fullygeek.com/2007/01/20000-pounds-of-sodium-dumped-in-lake/ [fullygeek.com]

    Without a chemistry set, but with internet, I can find out where to buy components to build fireworks mortar shells, buy local explosive components (Nitride and oil) and such. It was the internet that taught me where to locally buy small amounts of Ammonium Nitrate and Salt Peter with no questions asked.

    A trip to the hardware store is now an adventure as I read the ingredients on the packages.

    I have learned more online than I could have ever learned from a chemistry set from the 1960's Not all is illegal or dangerous. Some is a lot of fun.
  • by jabberw0k (62554) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @01:16AM (#21193133) Homepage Journal
    Sounds like "The Dead Past" by Isaac Asimov. Recommended.
  • by dragonturtle69 (1002892) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @01:47AM (#21193301)

    You make some very good points, especially with regard to fascism in our current society. Unfortunately, I do not see much that can be done to prevent it from growing. Infotainment keeps some political candidates out of the spotlight while promoting others on both sides of America's political aisle. This pre-selection leads to low poll ratings for some. At least Leno had Ron Paul on the Tonight Show, though for a much lesser amount of time than Tom Cruise.

    With regards to guns, once the common populace had a chance as they had some parity in weaponry. Nowadays, peaceful protest with lots of cameras and satellite feeds is the best hope to get the point across and not end up dead, as a convict. Hunting rifles just are not a match for the current weapons employed by law enforcement let alone the military.

  • by mcrbids (148650) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @02:57AM (#21193619) Journal

    You just need a few billion dollars to get the ball rolling. Good luck.


    That's just poppycock. Your ability to be effective starts at a much, much, MUCH lower resource level.

    About 15 years ago, I produced a cable-access TV show, covering a local group of uber-conservative strict-construction constitutionalists. It was a dour but informative show about what your rights actually are when arrested, when fighting "city hall", as it were. We produced it weekly for about 2 years, and the effect it had on the local community was simply astonishing. One thing led to another, and before long, we had a real, live, grand-jury indictment over a death in the local county jail. We actually placed in the local Nielson ratings. (mind-blowing for a show produced on about $10 / week budget) The local Sheriff, who'd been in office for a very, VERY long time, ended up losing his position.

    Another example of "small power" is Black box voting [blackboxvoting.org] started by an angry housewife. (Yes, house-wife) Starting as just a mom, she is, today, the most vocal force today supporting our right to a fair, verifiable count of your right to vote.

    It doesn't cost billions of dollars to change the world. It costs somebody giving a damn and refusing to back down.

    It's been said before, and I'll say it again:

    The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
    What have you done?
  • by Minupla (62455) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {alpunim}> on Thursday November 01, 2007 @06:44AM (#21194457) Homepage Journal
    My wife went home to the states a couple of weeks ago (she ran away to Canada) for a visit. While down there she got sick. Just a sniffle, so ran down to the local pharmacy for something to unstuff her system.

    "Could I see some ID please?"

    "Um, sure..." *hands over her Canadian photo ID*

    "I'm sorry, it needs to be US ID."

    Her brother had to buy her decongestant for her using his ID.

    Moral of the story: Don't get sick while visiting the states. It's against policy.

    Min
  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @07:36AM (#21194627)
    You have the power to choose between more than two. It's called the primaries. Pick a party, get involved, pay attention to local politics, when in doubt, vote the In's out. That is the formula to make a difference. Oh yeah, even if your guy is the greatest, vote for his opponent after at the very least his second term. No matter how good they are, legislators should be replace at least every other term. Legislators are like fruit, keep them around too long and they start to rot.
  • by beckerist (985855) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @07:42AM (#21194649) Homepage
    Wow I've been waiting to find someone to ask this to for years, finally a relevant forum:
    When I was in my pre-teens, no more than 11, I was given a chemistry kit for hobby purposes (a tricky little way my parents could pull me off the NES: SMB, Jackal and Duck Tales were the best!)

    One day, little ol' me decided to add a few more ingredients to the chemical stew I was in the process of trying to change colors, and for whatever reason I happened to grab the Clorox from my mom's laundry room. I have no idea (and this is what I'm asking help on) what was originally in the Chemistry kit box that would do this, but instantly upon pouring the Clorox in the mixture (that was already brown) started emanating a very translucent, greyish smoke. It was INCREDIBLY smelly, and when I told my mom she forced our family to evacuate the house, and the fire department had to come.

    Again, they never told me what I'd done (in the hopes I'd never do it again) but I've always been curious... Who DOESN'T want an "instant stay at a hotel" button? :-) Any insight?
  • by hackstraw (262471) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @08:49AM (#21195103)
    TJ: The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

    Slashdot guy: This tends to be the eventual result when a government goes down the path of tyranny (or at least what a significant portion of the population believes is tyranny).

    I know this is controversial, but I believe that McVeigh to be a patriot/tyrant who actually was better for the people than its popularly believed. Kinda like how parasites/plagues are good for a population. Its complicated.

    With the Oklahoma bombing thing, its interesting that there are absolutely zero changes in anything that specifically led to that bombing. Its just as easy today to get rental vans, diesel and fertilizer than it was before this incident.

    However, today, its much more difficult to travel on a plane or to buy a chemistry kit.

    Now, lets think about what is different here. The government can implant tyrany and fear into more people via travel restrictions and chemistry kits than they could ever do with rental vans, dieslel, and fertilizer.

    So, in summary, the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks were a net gain for the government, and the Oklahoma terrorist attack was a net gain for the people.

    Kinda screwed up, now isn't it?

  • by Akaihiryuu (786040) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @10:01AM (#21195963)
    Somehow, I doubt "terrorists" are making explosives with chemistry sets anyway. But they must be making them with child chemistry sets, because it's not like you can make them from common household chemicals available in any grocery store...oh wait, you can. Sarcasm aside, this is just plain stupid.
  • by UserGoogol (623581) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @11:05AM (#21196939)
    Big government is a fair price to pay for the freedom to not know your neighbors.

    In order for people to really thrive, people need to be able to choose their social relationships. The existance of community takes away from this. In an idealistic "old timey small town," everybody knows everybody, and if you don't want to be known, then too bad. Furthermore, communities mold people's values. Rather than people having their value system to be created by choice and rationality, there is this big mob of groupthink, where you do things simply because that's what is done within your community.

    A vital function of government is to make it possible for people to be antisocial. If life was just one big happy family, we wouldn't even need government. People would live in these little anarchist communes, and when conflict arose within the community it would be dealt with. Government allows people to say "you guys suck, I'm gonna do my own thing" without being banished from society.
  • by oatworm (969674) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @01:19PM (#21199127) Homepage
    Y'know, I repeatedly read stuff like this, and it really makes me wonder about the logic behind it. Let's take 30 years ago - that'd be 1977. Over-processed food? Well, they didn't have Whole Foods back then, that's for sure. Organic food only existed in Height-Ashbury. Canned food was still cheaper than fresh. Doesn't get much more processed than that. Right to buy automatic weapons? Heh - Americans haven't had that... well, probably ever. Iraq? How about Vietnam? Casualties were a bit higher [rjsmith.com] in that one, to put it mildly. Patriot Act? How about Watergate? Heck, if you go back another 20 years, you can even throw McCarthyism into the mix, which makes the Patriot Act look like a summer picnic. As for the obesity epidemic, it only exists because we actually have an agriculture infrastructure that is so efficient that we have to pay people not to grow food. DMCA only exists because we actually have the technology now to render copyright moot and the copyright holders don't like that much. Religious intolerance... oh yeah, 'cause we all know that religious tolerance was absolutely top notch [wikipedia.org] in the past. Columbine... yeah, kind of hard to beat kids shooting each other, though I seem to remember guns being a perennial problem in school back in the '80s. Worst race relations in generations, though... oh my. Sorry, but you don't get to claim "worst in generations" unless people start writing songs about strange fruit [wikipedia.org] growing on their trees. I honestly don't remember the last time my neighbors have organized a "lynch the darkies fer sleepin' wit da white womens" session - that's probably because they never have.

    But, hey, you and everyone else like you is absolutely right - things were totally better in the good ol' days...
  • by my_left_nut (1161359) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @03:54PM (#21201325)
    that the least common denominator requests of itself. Doesn't matter what the reason is, fear of terrorism, product liability, or in the case of human biology, religious fanaticism.

    Why am I not surprised that more and more complex chemistry and physics innovations now come from non-US citizens. You take away the tools for those things, and someone else who has them will gladly pick up the slack.

    As an example, when we made stem cell research here in the US difficult by cutting governmental funding for it, the South Koreans seemed quit happy to pick up and run with the ball. As a result we will need to play catchup when those restrictions are eventually removed. By then, US based companies might not have the brainpower to do that. We'll need to try and import brains from elsewhere, or just write-off an entire industry. And that's just a single example among many.

    These symptoms, along with the looming spectre of not-so-cheap liquid fuels are what convince me that the US will devolve into a "developing country" status within the next 10-15 years. It'll be interesting to hear the cry of anguish that the least common denominator-types let out when that day finally arrives.

    At that point I'll bet that a hearty "I told you so" just won't be cutting it.

  • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot <slashdot@@@pudge...net> on Thursday November 01, 2007 @07:54PM (#21205019) Homepage Journal
    Most of what you wrote is incorrect, all that anti-coporation bullshit, that broadly translates as "avoiding fascism means having more government control over our lives." I won't bother addressing that, but there's something else you addressed that you got wrong, that many might not have understood.

    ... have you not looked at the telecom immunity stuff? That's classic fascism. The government breaks the law, the government gets private companies to break the law, the government gives said companies huge amounts of cash, the government attempts to make such behavior legal retroactively.
    First of all, it is extremely questionable whether any law was broken. But let's assume it was. It is utter nonsense to hold the corporations responsible: they did what the government told them to do. If Bush broke the law (including asking the telecoms to break the law), then impeach him. I'll enjoy watching you twist logic to show how he broke any law, but regardless, that is the proper way to deal with it.

    It's not 'totalitarian' yet, as evidenced by the fact Democrats managed to stop the immunity, but it is fascism, at least the start of it.
    Shrug. Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller -- who, for the record, was the ONLY Congressman to raise objections to the warrantless wiretapping before it was made public -- sponsored the immunity, for the reasons I gave above. So you're telling me Rockefeller sponsors fascism here, while he was the only one to object to it before? I disagree a lot with Rockefeller, but I have always believed him to be intelligent and principled.

    (And the same thing's happened with Blackwater.)
    Exactly, and the point's the same: where Blackwater has followed the law and its imposed regulations and rules, it should not be held liable while it is doing work for the government. If they go beyond their legal restrictions, then they should be. Same thing with the telecoms.

    It's utter nonsense to say we should hold anyone responsible for doing what the government told them they could do, when there's someone much more obvious and culpable to go after: the people who told them they could do it.

  • by mesocyclone (80188) on Friday November 02, 2007 @02:54AM (#21208261) Homepage Journal
    And just exactly is how does Blackwater fit into your fascism theory? Do you see them running around the US doing evil?

    They are a large security firm, hired by the government and many other organizations to help in dangerous areas, such as Iraq. They engage in lethal violence as part of their business, Legally (in spite of some misleading news reports). Furthermore, the government has used private companies for diplomatic and other security for a long time.

    Exactly how is Blackwater immune to the laws of the US?

    There's nothing fascist about them.

    As for the start of fascism, I suggest again you look at history, because by your definition we have been in the start of fascism for most of the existence of the US.

    Companies in tight with government? Check out the 1800s. Companies breaking laws with impunity... I don't know of any examples today, but there were times when this was certainly a popular passtime.

    Wiretaps used to be routine without warrants or probable cause - did you know that?

    Only 50 years ago, police did not have to "read people their rights." Evidence could not be thrown out if it was obtained improperly.

    When we fought the civil war, Habeas Corpus was suspended by that evil fascist, Lincoln. Lots of companies were in bed with the government (can you say war profiteers?)

    In World War II, we drafted millions of men, and we sent Japanese to concentration camps. The government spied on whomever it wanted to. It censored what it wanted to, and Hollywood produced only what censors allowed (and that censorship lasted into the 60s), and most of what it produced was propaganda under the direction of army captain Ronald Reagan.

    In the Vietnam War, we drafted hundreds of thousands of men. Oh, and we had private companies involved in that war also. Do you see a draft today?

    Companies used to hire private security firms to bust unions with violence. Don't see much of that these days.

    So if you are afraid that we are becoming fascist, it might help to show the trend in that direction, since history appears to run against you in that regard. We are becoming more free, and fascism is inconsistent with freedom. The most likely way that our freedoms will be restricted, and fascist government will grow, is through environmental extremism, which confers upon its practitioners a moral authority to "do whatever is needed" to "save the earth." Corporations will be happy to join the government and profit from that, just like they now do with the absurd ethanol program. For example, Enron was in favor of the Kyoto treaty because of the money it expected to make from the carbon "offset" trading.

    BTW... you say you don't watch the news. well, the news made a big deal about Blackwater after the incident where Iraq alleged misbehavior by Blackwater diplomatic security during a firefight. Congress is making a big deal.

    Unfortunately, the wiretaps (which were ONLY on international calls) were also big news, since the mass media hates the current administration and will do anything (including crippling its anti-terrorist efforts) to hurt Bush. Some of these news stories have seriously damaged our ability to fight our very real enemies. So fear not, the populace is overly aware of the "dangers" they face from the administration. ..............

    You may not have noticed, but we are in fact at war, with people who have vowed to kill us by the millions, and have tried numerous times. Cry all you want about Blackwater and AT&T. They are a small part of a huge, long term war, and they are hon our side.

    Perhaps you don't see the threat, but the convergence of Islamofascist ideology (Al Qaeda's and Iran's - both forms) and modern technology, makes terrorism far more dangerous than it has ever been before. 9-11 showed how 19 people could turn civilian technology into weapons of mass destruction and kill thousands (and try to kill a lot more). Al Qaeda has attempted to procure nuclear material and biological weapon

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