Secret nuclear sparks
Expanded from the 9-17-2006 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

     Everybody knows the dice are loaded.
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed.
      Everybody knows the war is over.
Everybody knows the good guys lost.
      Everybody knows the fight was fixed.
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich.
      That's how it goes.
Everybody knows.

– Leonard Cohen

This month, media both nationally and locally leaked and dripped a steady stream of stories of the disastrous effects of government secrecy.

Both Sparks and Reno have conducted clandestine dealings to the detriment of constituents and credibility. Reams have been written about the Sparks city council's apparently intentional flouting of the state open meeting law.

Nevada Attorney General George "I can't wait to return to private practice" Chanos has given the city a short time to reconsider in public its illegally secret vote on the Crazy 8 casino catastrophe.

If Chanos were a hardass (and we've never had one in the AG's chair), he could move to oust the mayor and the entire council with the possible exception of Councilman Ron Schmitt. It's only happened once since the open meeting law was passed in the 1970s.

Atty. Gen. Cranky Frankie Sue Del Papa removed a commissioner from politically weak Esmeralda County after the officeholder announced that she was going to intentionally violate the statute. Schmitt's warning to his fellow councilmen in the closed Crazy 8 confab comes perilously close to creating the same situation.

Over in Westerly Sparks, the Reno City Council secretly negotiated with AT&T for a new franchise to provide video competition to Charter Communications. It was done with no public input and the carcass of the city's citizens advisory board was never activated.

I'm all for alternatives to the grotesquely mismanaged and overpriced Charter system, but Reno's actions are generating laughter among consumer advocates.

"You guys have a problem and it is nice that Reno agreed to serve as the beta site for this technology roll-out," one nationally noted expert told me. (The first commandment of the computer age is never, ever buy version 1.0.)

AT&T is much better managed than Charter and unionized, but McNeely administration staff had little expertise to bring to the table and it shows.

As I first reported, AT&T service may never come to pass with Charter having put the wheels in motion to challenge the franchise in court. With a public review in the knowledge that this was Charter's intention all along (I've known it for months and printed it here), some safeguards could have been built into the deal.

While AT&T can look for a prolonged court battle as a result of the city's mismanagement, Charter is going full bore to offer phone service, even promising that "reliable 911 emergency service is standard for total peace of mind." [1]


Charter's system goes down for hours at a time without warning. It happens to me once or twice a month. When I call Charter's phone center in Mexico City, I'm told just to wait awhile and the system will eventually come back online.

These local examples pale by comparison to the potential death and dismemberment caused by secrecy at the federal level. Dubya and his deathmongers deny at every turn that they are preparing a nuclear strike against Iran.

They couldn't keep secret their recent plans for a slightly-sub-nuclear test of a bunker-busting bomb at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site.

50 YEARS AGO: On Sept. 15, 1956, Klaus Landsberg, who produced the first telecast of an atomic test in Nevada, died of cancer in Los Angeles.

Courtesy of Poor Denny's Almanac Copyright © 2006 Dennis Myers


In the October issue of Harper's magazine, Daniel Ellsberg laments that he kept The Pentagon Papers secret for seven years before risking imprisonment to disclose the Johnson administration's plans to escalate the Vietnam War while making 1964 campaign promises to do the reverse. (This is not new. Woodrow Wilson got re-elected in 1916 swearing that the U.S. would not intervene in WWI, which we did the very next year.)

Ellsberg damns with faint praise former national security aide Richard Clarke, who could have risked prison by coming forward in 2002 revealing Dubya's plan to pervert 9/11 to make a case to invade Iraq.

Ellsberg fairly screams for current government officials to risk firing and prison to come forward to confirm what everybody knows about our government's already-made decision for a major air campaign against Iran. Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersh has printed a neverending series of revelations in The New Yorker.

Alas and alack, I don't think any additional smoking gun documentation will make a dent. Not only do too many Americans still want to believe that daddy government is really working late at night rather than pleasuring his mistress, we also have a huge investment in the cancer of war. As with physical cancer, it's big business and lotsa people are making lotsa money.

You can even buy off a whole media empire to rewrite history if it can be made sufficiently worthwhile.

And so Mickey Mouse last week took us closer to the ultimate cartoon of global thermonuclear war.

THE BLUE STONE WALL. Twenty-four days have now passed since City of Sparks staff was officially informed that the Reno-Sparks NAACP would like to have a meeting with the chief of police. Sparks has stonewalled the civil rights organization's request for many years, so long that even oldtimers can't remember when such a meeting was previously held, if ever. The blue stone wall can resist legitimate requests from citizens but it cannot stop this newspaper from printing the story. My first byline appeared in these pages in 1973. How long have you got, chief?

SPEAKING OF STONE WALLS. Terminally ill William Albiniano, age 8, has been suffering for months while his family tries to get him reinstated on the overhyped Nevada Checkup insurance program for families of less-than-wealthy means.

The only thing certain is that William's family will keep fighting for him, as will this newspaper and intrepid KRNV TV-4 anchor Joe Hart.

If heat means anything, consider it turned up on behalf of this courageous little boy.

Be well. Raise hell.


1. Charter direct mail solicitation, 9-16-2006


IRANAMOK: The Barbwire Mossadegh Files
Gas pedals and peddlers: BOHICA at the pump
Falwell and Robertson are dead to rights
Nostradamus, Bob Dylan, Ugly Americans and Usama bin Laden
It became necessary to destroy democracy in order to save it
BARBWIRE OILOGOPOLY ARCHIVE: The best oil sump on the Internet

ORDER Taking the Risk Out of Democracy
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press

     SEE ALSO: Lapham, Lewis H.; Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History; Harper's Magazine cover article; September, 2004, page 32.

     By one conservative estimate, the corporate right has spent about $3 billion over the past three decades manufacturing public opinion to suit big business goals. Lapham's number covered the early 1970's to the present day. Alex Carey noted that by 1948, anti- New Deal corporate propaganda expenditures had already reached $100 million per year, not adjusted for inflation, for advertising alone. (Carey, ibid; page 79)

     Adjusted for inflation, that 1948 $100 million becomes $801,659,751.04 in 2005 dollars.

Conservatives Help Wal-Mart, and Vice Versa
As Wal-Mart struggles to rebut growing criticism, it has discovered a reliable ally: conservative research groups.
New York Times 9-8-2006 (Free registration may be required)

      BARBWIRE: Labor Day '94: People vs. corporate con job, 9-4-94
Chilling forecasts from Alex Carey

      BARBWIRE: The Nevada Republican Party Becomes Communist, 3-30-97
A prescient Plato on the dangers of oligarchy

...and more ammo

      LABOR LEADERS: Wild West mentality lingers in Nevada
      LABOR DAY 2006 Guest Editorial, Reno Gazette-Journal, 9-4-2006

      Olbermann, Keith: Rumsfeld & Chamberlain, Churchill & Murrow
                                                MSNBC 8-30-2006

      Rinfret, Pierre A.; "Peace is Bullish"; Look Magazine, 5-31-1966

      BARBWIRE: Lemming Cliff Notes, 6-5-2005

      BARBWIRE: We have met the enemy and he is us, 5-29-2005

      BARBWIRE: Payback Time, 8-7-2005

      BARBWIRE: Getting Focused, 8-14-2005

      BARBWIRE: Patriot Games, 8-21-2005

      BARBWIRE: Media Howlers, 8-28-2005

      BARBWIRE: Deadly Spin in the oil slicks of New Orleans, 9-4-2005

      BARBWIRE: Four more years? 9-11-2005

      BARBWIRE: Amoral Moralists, 9-18-2005

      Barbwire Oilogopoly Archive
I've been telling you so for 10 freakin' years

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Copyright © 2005, 2006 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 37-year Nevadan, editor of, a member of the Reno-Sparks NAACP and Sparks-based Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO. He is the former chair of the City of Reno Citizens Cable Compliance Committee. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.

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