Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar. ~29 September 2002, Barbra Streisand
ARISE ALL WOMEN! Julia Ward Howe, the founder of Mother's Day wrote in 1870:
Arise then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or of tears! Say firmly, "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs." From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says, "Disarm! Disarm!"
Cable promises have yet to be kept
Since local cable deregulation became effective in Michigan, the promises of decreased prices and increased customer service have also failed to meet expectations. In this day when consumers are struggling you would think cable companies would want to keep their customers, not drive them away with higher prices and worse customer service.
Sarah Palin Suffers Massive Political Fallout
In March, Palin nominated Wayne Anthony Ross for attorney general. Ross, a colorful far-right lawyer and longtime Palin ally who sports his initials, W.A.R., on his Hummer’s vanity plates, was once considered a shoo-in for confirmation. However, his nomination was thrown into grave peril when his opponents presented evidence that he called homosexuals “degenerates,” hailed the “courage” of a student who lionized the Ku Klux Klan, vowed to undermine the sovereignty of Native American tribes, and allegedly defended men who rape their wives.
Charter Cable Files Bankruptcy
Mar 27—Charter Communications Inc. on Friday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to get relief from its creditors, as the nation's fourth-largest cable operator strives to keep its head above water and still compete with phone companies and satellite TV providers. The St. Louis-based company seeks to emerge from bankruptcy as early as the end of summer and doesn't plan on selling any of its assets to competitors. After Chapter 11, interest costs at Charter, which has never posted a profit since going public in 1999 due to massive debt interest payments, will be cut in half to $830 million a year. The filing restructures about $8 billion of debt at Charter, which is controlled by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen, but leaves about $13 billion of debt on its books. Allen will control 35 percent of the votes in the reorganized company.
The Age of Stupid
We wouldn’t be the first life form to wipe itself out. But what would be unique about us is that we did it knowingly. What does that say about us? The question I’ve been asking is: why didn’t we save ourselves when we had the chance? Is the answer because on some level we weren’t sure if we were worth saving?
The great American drilling boom is over
The number of oil and gas rigs deployed to tap new energy supplies across the country has plunged to less than 1,200 from 2,400 last summer, and energy executives say the drop is accelerating further. Lower prices are bringing to an end an ambitious effort to squeeze more oil from aging fields and to tap new sources of natural gas. For the last four years, companies here drilled below airports, golf courses, churches and playgrounds in a frantic search for energy. They scoured the Rocky Mountains, the Great Plains, the Gulf of Mexico and Appalachia. But the economic downturn has cut into demand. Global oil prices and American natural gas prices have plummeted two-thirds since last summer. Not even an unseasonably cold winter drove down unusually high inventories of natural gas.
Is This the End of the Age of the Automobile?
As a dominant form of transportation, the automobile is dead. So is GM, which now stands for Gone Mad. But the larger picture says that the financial crisis now enveloping the world is grounded in the transition from the automobile---and the fossils that fuel it---to a brave renewable world of reborn mass transit and green power. If GM lives in any form, it must be owned and operated by its workers and the public. But the larger transition is epic and global, based on a simple structural reality: the passenger car is obsolete. Auto sales have plummeted not merely because of a bad economy, but because the technology no longer makes sense. Franklin Roosevelt took GM over in 1943-5 to make the hardware to beat the Nazis. Barack Obama should now do the same to beat climate chaos. Make streetcars, not passenger cars.
Recession-Related Issues Burden US Power, Electric Companies
Public power and electric cooperatives, already facing prospects for regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and additional capital needs, will likely see the most near-term problems from recession-related issues, according to Standard & Poor's Ratings Services.
Civil Unions For All
I believe fervently in the sanctity of marriage, and if you do, too, head immediately to your closest church, mosque, synagogue or flying spaghetti monster chapel, and sign up to procreate, cohabitate and copulate with a sex partner blessed by that holy institution. America's current marriage system, even when it includes same-sex couples, inherently discriminates against millions of people who are not in a sexual relationship. (That many legal marriages are platonic only adds irony to injustice.) Ensuring equal rights for all requires relegating or elevating (however you look at it) marriage to the realm of religion. Kind of like christenings, bar mitzvahs and chicken sacrifice.
Pat Robertson Denounces Rush Limbaugh
Pat Robertson denounced talk show host Rush Limbaugh for saying he wants President Obama to fail, in an interview with U.S. News & World Report. Limbaugh has repeatedly expressed his desire to Obama, and the stimulus package to fail, which is more revealing about his true colors and brand of “patriotism.” Interviewer Dan Gilgoff asked the Conservative Christian leader: “So you don’t subscribe to Rush Limbaugh’s “I hope he fails” school of thought?” To which Robertson replied: “That was a terrible thing to say,” Robertson responded. “I mean, he’s the president of all the country. If he succeeds, the country succeeds. And if he doesn’t, it hurts us all. Anybody who would pull against our president is not exactly thinking rationally.”
Rio Tinto's charm offensive hits the rocks
One top 20 Rio Tinto investor said: "We are absolutely furious, some of the investors are spitting rivets. It just doesn't pass muster under any sort of circumstances and we have made this very clear in our feedback to their advisers. "They are working on a charm offensive to come around and see shareholders but I can't see what sort of 'concessions' would appease the situation because it's pretty black and white." Other investors contacted by Reuters said they were concerned that the Rio example could have broader implications, helping to make it a rule rather than an exception that pre-emption rights were ignored. [EDITOR: Rio Tinto wants to mine rare elements in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Most people there are concerned about Rio Tinto's poor track record, as they seem to be primarily interested in profits at the expense of the environment and the fact that they are well known to be bullies.]
Michigan Republican Discloses Top Secret Info
Republicans appear anxious to demonstrate their new-found affinity for technology, web apps, and gizmos. A recent debate between candidates for RNC chair featured an argument over who had more friends on Facebook. It's all rather silly, but the minority party wants to demonstrate their ability to embrace new mediums. Once in a while, this goes a little too far. A delegation led by House Minority Leader John A. Boehner , R-Ohio, arrived in Iraq earlier today, and because of Rep. Peter Hoekstra , R-Mich., the entire world -- or at least Twitter.com readers -- now know they're there. Hoekstra, a former chairman of the Intelligence panel and now the ranking member, is routinely entrusted to keep some of the nation's most closely guarded secrets.
It's Fun to Watch Obama Driving These Republicans So Crazy
Obama's deft political moves this week have the right-wingers frothing at the mouth, screaming like fools in all directions. The historical record of far-right ridiculousness has been well-documented here and throughout the blogosphere.
Rush Limbaugh Is Less Popular Than Jeremiah Wright
Congressional Republicans have turned to Rush Limbaugh to lead the battle against Obama. One problem: A poll says he's less popular than Jeremiah Wright. Republicans who have turned to Rush Limbaugh to lead the fight against President Obama may have backed the wrong horse. According to one recent poll, Limbaugh turns out to be one of the most unpopular political figures in the country. Limbaugh's cold rating was higher than that of all the political figures the firm polled. It was seven points higher than Rev. Jeremiah "God Damn America" Wright and eight points higher than former Weather Underground domestic terrorist William Ayers.
Why Is the Government Hell-Bent on Rewarding Greed, Incompetence and Narcissism?
Bankers have never been much loved, but gollies, this Wall Street bunch seems hell-bent on being loathed. As a consequence of their avaricious grab for outrageous personal enrichment during the past decade, these arrogant titans of financial gimmickry have caused a vast economic collapse that is presently costing million of Americans their homes, jobs, pensions and dreams -- while also bringing down the banks themselves. As you would expect, the Wall Streeters who did this to us are now humbled and filled with deep remorse. HA! Just kidding. Instead, the perpetrators keep grasping for all they can get, taking no responsibility for the damage they've done. Obtuse? Self-indulgent? Narcissistic? What's with these people?
America Is Completely Broke, And Here We Are Funding Fantasy Wars at the Pentagon
In December 2008, Franklin "Chuck" Spinney, a former high-ranking civilian in the Pentagon's Office of Systems Analysis wrote, "As has been documented for at least twenty years, patterns of repetitive habitual behavior in the Pentagon have created a self-destructive decision-making process. This process has produced a death spiral." As a result, concluded Spinney, inadequate amounts of wildly overpriced equipment are purchased, "new weapons [that] do not replace old ones on a one for one basis." There is also "continual pressure to reduce combat readiness," a "corrupt accounting system" that "makes it impossible to sort out the priorities," and a readiness to believe that old solutions will work for the current crisis.
It's not going to be OK
The daily bleeding of thousands of jobs will soon turn our economic crisis into a political crisis. The street protests, strikes and riots that have rattled France, Turkey, Greece, Ukraine, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Iceland will descend on us. It is only a matter of time. And not much time. When things start to go sour, when Barack Obama is exposed as a mortal waving a sword at a tidal wave, the United States could plunge into a long period of precarious social instability. At no period in American history has our democracy been in such peril. Our way of life is over. Our profligate consumption is finished. Our children will never have the standard of living we had. And poverty and despair will sweep across the landscape like a plague. This is the bleak future. There is nothing President Obama can do to stop it. It has been decades in the making. It cannot be undone with a trillion or two trillion dollars in bailout money. Our empire is dying. Our economy has collapsed.
Public Revolt Builds Against Rip-off Rescue Plans for the Economy
The pattern is clear: governments that respond to a crisis created by free-market ideology with an acceleration of that same discredited agenda will not survive to tell the tale. As Italy's students have taken to shouting in the streets: "We won't pay for your crisis!"
Gay woman fights over hospital visitation rights in Miami court
As her partner of 17 years slipped into a coma, Janice Langbehn pleaded with doctors and anyone who would listen to let her into the woman's hospital room. Eight anguishing hours passed before Langbehn would be allowed into Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center. By then, she could only say her final farewell as a priest performed the last rites on 39-year-old Lisa Marie Pond. Jackson staffers advised Langbehn that she could not see Pond earlier because the hospital's visitation policy in cases of emergency was limited to immediate family and spouses -- not partners. In Florida, same-sex marriages or partnerships are not recognized. Any family should have the right to hold their loved one's hand in the last moments of life, and we were denied that.
Christian Women and Domestic Violence
Escaping an abusive marriage is no easy task for many evangelical women, many of whom have pastors that say physical abuse is no reason for divorce. What is a good enough reason for divorce? Well, according to Rick Warren’s Saddleback church, divorce is only permitted in cases of adultery or abandonment -- as these are the only cases permitted in the Bible -- and never for abuse.
Factory Knowingly Shipped Contaminated Peanut Butter
The Georgia peanut plant linked to a salmonella outbreak that has killed eight people and sickened another 500 across the country knowingly shipped out contaminated peanut butter 12 times in the past two years, federal officials said yesterday. Officials at the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which have been investigating the salmonella outbreak, said yesterday that the Peanut Corporation of America found salmonella in internal tests a dozen times in 2007 and 2008 but sold the products anyway, sometimes after getting a negative finding from a different laboratory.
The Bushies Stole Us Blind ... So, How'd You Like Your Beer?
Finally. Mercifully. Astonishingly. Incredibly. The insane adventure in national suicide known as the Bush administration is at last coming to an end. This was a ride that beggars belief. Even after McCarthy and Nixon and Reagan and Gingrich, nothing prepared us for the last eight years, and I for one have difficulty finding the words that could begin to do justice to describing this historical folly of epic proportions. The list of self-inflicted wounds is endless: running from the fiscal irresponsibility, the lies about war, the incompetent execution of every policy, the extreme recklessness of environmental catastrophe, the economic meltdown, and turning one of the most admired countries in the world into one of the most reviled. It is a breathtaking record. It really is. If this child in the body of a man were named Putin or Castro or Kim, Americans would get it. If they were observing the country from the perspective of Zimbabwe, instead of the other way around, then they would get it. They can understand the notion of some foreign thug who means to do harm to our country. They get the idea, in other places, of a domestic thug who seeks to plunder his own country. They just can't imagine it happening here. And, therefore, they don't see that it just has. This president -- and indeed the entire movement of regressive politics these last three decades (which I refer to as Reaganism-Bushism) -- can only be properly understood as class warfare. Its purpose was never to make America a better place. Indeed, if we define America as a country belonging to its 300 million inhabitants, then the purpose was actually precisely the opposite. The mission of this ideology was in fact to diminish, if not impoverish, the vast bulk of these citizens so that the already massively wealthy among them could become obscenely wealthy.
The World Is Watching
Are We Civilized Enough to Hold Our Leaders Accountable for War Crimes? Remarkably, the confirmation of President Obama's Attorney General nominee, Eric Holder, is being held up by Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn, who apparently is unhappy that Holder might actually investigate and prosecute Bush Administration officials who engaged in torture. Aside from this repugnant new Republican embrace of torture, any effort to protect Bush officials from legal responsibility for war crimes, in the long run, will not work. After reading Sands's book and, more recently, listening to his comments on Terry Gross's NPR show "Fresh Air," on January 7, 2009 I realized how closely the rest of the world is following the actions of these former officials, and was reminded that these actions appear to constitute not merely violations of American law, but also, and very literally, crimes against humanity -- for which the world is ready to hold them responsible.
Obama to Let States Improve Emissions Standards
President Obama on Monday will direct federal regulators to move swiftly to grant California and 13 other states the right to set strict automobile emissions and fuel efficiency standards. The presidential orders will require automobile manufacturers to begin producing and selling cars and trucks that get higher mileage on a faster phase-in schedule. He will also order federal departments and agencies to find new ways to save energy and be more environmentally friendly. And he will highlight the elements in his economic plan intended to create new jobs around renewable energy. Mr. Obama will also direct federal agencies to immediately begin work on making all government buildings more energy efficient, with an eye toward saving as much as $2 billion a year and reducing the emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases blamed for the warming of the planet. He will also direct the Department of Transportation to immediately begin drafting automobile fuel-economy regulations to comply with a law enacted in December 2007. Former President Bush delayed implementation of the law and left office saying there was not sufficient time to write the rules.
States to Win Big in Proposed Stimulus Package
The economic stimulus plan now moving through Congress would shower billions of federal dollars on state and local governments desperate for cash. The House stimulus bill includes an extra $87 billion in federal aid to state Medicaid programs, for instance. It allots some $120 billion to boost state and city education programs. There’s $4 billion for state and local anticrime initiatives in the legislation, not to mention $30-plus billion for highways and other infrastructure projects. Overall, about one-quarter of the entire $825 billion recovery package would be devoted to activities crucial to governors, mayors, and local school boards – making them among the plan’s biggest beneficiaries.
In his first eight hours in office, Barack Hussein Obama has been able to accomplish more through diplomacy, openness, honesty, and transparency than George Bush was able to accomplish through war, secrecy, and coercion over the course of his eight years in office. Can you imagine what the United States would be like if we had the trilions of dollars back that the Bush administration has shamelessly and recklessly squandered on war and misguided policy! President Obama is right for America and the planet.
Silicon Valley Leaders to Denounce Prop 8
High Tech Business Executives, Venture Capital leaders to Urge Californians to Stand Up for Equality Santa Clara – The leadership of the nation’s high-tech industry feels so strongly that Prop 8 is wrong and unfair, that a coalition of key leaders is running a full page advertisement in a major daily newspaper urging Californians to vote NO on Prop 8. The ad, running in Friday’s San Jose Mercury News, includes a list of “Who’s Who of the Silicon Valley”, including the founders and CEOs of Google, Yahoo!, Adobe Systems and Cisco Systems.
Chinese Experts Confirm Melamine-Kidney Stone Link
FDA Issues Warning on Chinese-Made Infant Formula Drinking milk tainted with the chemical melamine increases the risk of developing kidney stones, health experts in China have confirmed. The research is the first to positively link the plastic-making chemical with kidney problems, though doctors had strongly suspected a causal relationship. Melamine-tainted milk is blamed for the deaths of six children in China and making another 290,000 people sick. Melamine-tainted candy is suspected in the illness of a Virginia girl and in the unexplained illness and deaths of thousands of family pets throughout the United States.
Another brutal year for liberty
The good news is that it's clear what the Obama administration must do to end the decade-long war on the Constitution. Not even the most cynical political observer would have believed that it was the ascension of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi that would be the necessary catalyst for satisfying Bush's most audacious demands, concerning his most brazenly illegal actions. If anything, hopes were high that Democratic control of Congress would entail a legislative halt to warrantless eavesdropping or, at the very least, some meaningful investigation and disclosure -- what we once charmingly called "oversight" -- regarding what Bush's domestic spying had really entailed. After all, the NSA program was the purified embodiment of the most radical attributes of a radical regime -- pure lawlessness, absolute secrecy, a Stasi-like fixation on domestic surveillance. It was widely assumed, even among embittered cynics, that the new Democratic leadership in Congress would not use their newfound control to protect and endorse these abuses.
Bush Gets Whacked by an Auction Paddle
Good pranks are always fun. They’re really a hoot when the entity being pranked is the Bush administration (less than three weeks to go!) And so we raise our glass to Mr. Tim De Christopher, the coolest monkey-wrencher since the fictional Hayduke roamed the desert west. De Christopher is a 27-year-old student at the University of Utah, and one of the many who was greatly concerned about the flash auction of 150,000 acres of public lands in the southern and eastern parts of that extraordinary state being hurriedly put together by Bushco. The head of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance called it “a fire sale, the Bush administration’s last great gift to the oil and gas industry. “What the environmental movement has been doing in the last 20 years hasn’t worked,” he told the Salt Lake City Tribune later. “There comes a time to take a stand.” And then, following a positively inspired hunch, he took one. He’s created a new strategy for eco-advocacy: Eco-nomic, as opposed to Eco-logic.
America's Hidden Role in Hamas's Rise to Power
No one in the mainstream media or government is willing to acknowledge America's sordid role interfering in Palestinian politics. In the U.S., the claim that the actions of Hamas forced Israel to launch a massive assault on the impoverished population of Gaza is almost universally accepted. But, as scholar Stephen Zunes explains below, the picture of Hamas as an organization of wide-eyed radicalism without electoral legitimacy or the support of a significant portion of the Palestinian population is simplistic. In this important piece, Zunes examines the ways in which Israeli and American policy-makers encouraged the rise of the conservative religious group Hamas in an effort to marginalize secular and leftist elements within the Occupied Territories.
Michigan again had the highest monthly unemployment rate of all U.S. states
Michigan, home to the three major U.S. automobile manufacturers, has long staggered under the weight of car companies' slumping finances, with both General Motors and Chrysler LLC recently idling plants and laying off thousands of workers. The state has had to increase cash assistance it provides under a federal program to help families in need by 1.8 percent this fiscal year and now gives $88 for clothing to each child in the program, according to a fiscal survey conducted by the National Governors Association and National Association of State Budget Officers.
Laid-off workers become symbol of mounting anger
The nation's grim economy now has a rallying point: Employees at a window-and-door factory that went out of business have taken over the building in a siege that has come to symbolize the woes of the ordinary worker. The Republic Windows and Doors factory closed abruptly last week after Bank of America canceled the company's financing. Since then, about 200 of the 240 laid-off workers have taken turns occupying the factory. The standoff has come to embody mounting anger over the government's willingness to bail out deep-pocketed corporations but not average people. Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said he wanted to ask his fellow senators to remind banks that the bailout wasn't to be used for dividends and executive salaries.
Barack and Michelle: an inspiration to many
It started with the fist bump seen ’round the world. Soon there were stories of rousing family Scrabble battles and date nights, in spite of election mayhem. Then President-elect Barack Obama referred to his wife Michelle as “the love of my life” during his election night victory speech, embracing her tightly and kissing her afterward, while millions of people worldwide watched. “When Michelle came out on election evening, she and Barack spoke and touched as if they were alone. Then they turned to the audience. If they can communicate that way in public in front of hundreds of thousands of people, their bond is very solid and real.”
The Colossal Collapse of Conservatism
The United States was founded on revolution, a violent break from tradition through radical and sudden change. Conservatism is the disposition to preserve what is already established. If conservatism had prevailed in the 1770s, we would all be British subjects now, answering to the Queen. We are Americans precisely because radical liberalism won the day. Conservatives today are like followers of a religious cult milling about confused the day after their leader's prediction of Armageddon failed to materialize. The immediacy of the problem is clear as normal life goes on. The failure reveals a fundamental flaw in the sect's belief system, but the failure simply cannot be denied in the light of the new day's dawn.
If Obama Doesn't Prosecute Bush's Torture Team, We'll Pay a Big Price Down the Road
Obama isn't likely to pursue torture atrocities during the Bush era, but this is one problem you simply can't wish away. "How did it come about that American military personnel stripped detainees naked, put them in stress positions, used dogs to scare them, put leashes around their necks to humiliate them, hooded them, deprived them of sleep and blasted music at them? Were these actions the result of 'a few bad apples' acting on their own? It would be a lot easier to accept if it were. But that's not the case."
U.S. power, influence will decline in future, report says
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A government report released Thursday paints an alarming picture of an unstable future for international relations defined by waning American influence, a fragmentation of political power and intensifying struggles for increasingly scarce natural resources. The report aims to better inform policymakers, starting with the administration of President-elect Barack Obama . The report aims to better inform policymakers, starting with the administration of President-elect Barack Obama . The report, "Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World," was drafted by the National Intelligence Council to better inform U.S. policymakers -- starting with the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama -- about the factors most likely to shape major international trends and conflicts through the year 2025.
How Did We Ever Let This Guy Get Away with Being a War President?
What George W. Bush loved best about his job was being a war president. Playing war, that is, as opposed to making war like a grown-up. Remember him strutting onto that carrier in his little flight jacket? You never saw Eisenhower, a real general, playing out his martial fantasies this way. You can take the drink out of the drunk, but you can't take the swagger out of a fool. When you make a weakling into a hero, you give him a lot of power. If we'd kept our eyes open and faced the fact that Bush reacted badly to 9/11, we might have been able to ask for a little more detail about his big plans. Those came courtesy of Cheney and his neocon punks. What a crew these guys were! Like their boss, they were also woofers, boasters -- but of a different variety. Dubya was your standard frat boy loudmouth, but Cheney, with his talk about "working the dark side," was more like the ultimate Dungeons and Dragons nerd. And you couldn't ask Hollywood to serve up a goofier selection of dorks than his neocon staffers, who drifted from the universities to D.C.
Assuring an Enduring Democracy
There were a lot of good answers. Ending privatization was, I thought, the best answer of all. Reinvesting in education is important if we want to ensure that the next generation will support and sustain our work and values. (I like to joke that the reason they call it "liberal education" is that the more of it you have, the more liberal you're likely to be. It's not quite accurate, but it's true enough.) Ensuring that people's interactions with government are useful and positive was another: In a lot of states, one afternoon at the DMV is enough to make the most ardent good-government partisan turn into Grover Norquist. (Maybe we don't want to drag the whole government into the bathtub to drown it, but that SOB at Window 11 would be a fine place to start.)
Fight Back Against Pesky Deceptive Robocalls
"John McCain has launched a new round of false, vicious robocalls, mailers, and attack ads – despite being warned to change his tone by a string of Republican leaders including Colin Powell and four sitting Republican senators. To combat his renewed effort to smear Barack Obama, the Obama campaign today launched a fact-checking campaign centered around a new website," the Obama campaign said. The website "allows voters to report new attacks that pop up in their area – and get the facts about smears they’ve heard," it said.
Drill Baby Drill Here Drill Now ... ah, what do you mean drilling is just hollow campaign rhetoric?
No one says that drilling offshore would change gas prices today. The Department of Energy says there may be 18 billion barrels of oil in coastal waters, but they also say that drilling for it would not have a significant impact on production or prices until 2030. Even people in the oil industry say drilling won't ease the oil pinch. It's really misleading to hold that out as a panacea. It won't work. It might work for our grandchildren." Geologists have identified reservoirs or undersea "structures" that might contain oil. But Simmons says that's guesswork. "We don't have any idea whether any of it is there," he said. But first, the government has to lease the offshore sites to oil companies. The companies then have to probe the seabed to find out what's there. Then there are years of exploratory drilling, says Simmons — if anyone can find rigs to do the drilling. "The problem is that the worldwide capacity to build rigs now has a backlog going out until about 2013, and we won't add enough rigs to even start to replace the very old rig fleet that we have," he said. All of that before any oil actually comes out of the seabed. [Editor: Our only hope is to creat jobs and energy based upon renewable resources- click here.]
Your Salary Eight Years from Now Under Obama, or McCain
Middle-class families will earn about $13,000 more in eight years if Obama wins and $5,000 if McCain wins.During his acceptance speech at Invesco Field in August, Barack Obama earned big applause for a line that compared Democratic and Republican economic policies. "We measure progress," he told the partisan crowd, "in the twenty-three million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was president -- when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500, instead of go down $2,000, like it has under George Bush." As rhetoric, it was effective. But was it a fair point, or a cheap shot? It's true that the Bush expansion was one of the weakest economic recoveries in postwar history, but can you really lay the blame for that at the feet of the president? Isn't it the case that, ritual campaign promises to the contrary, presidents actually have very little influence on the economy? The conventional wisdom among economists says yes, but a growing mountain of historical data suggests that they may be wrong. In the postwar era, it turns out, Democratic presidents consistently produce higher growth rates, lower unemployment, better stock market growth, and less income inequality than Republican presidents. Nobody quite knows why, but the results are surprisingly robust. MORE COVERAGE ON THE ECONOMY, CLICK HERE
My U.S.A.: How a Victim of the Housing Crisis Was Saved from the Brink of Eviction
While our government has taken billions of our tax dollars to bail out the wealthy, a peace and justice group came together to bail out a desperate mother, whose son died in Iraq defending the very nation who left her behind. CodePINK modeled exactly what we want our government to do -- bail out families facing personal disaster, not financiers. Now, my friends, isn't this the real America we want? Not the America of corporate greed and CEO bailouts. Not the America of Wall Street fat cats rescued by their elected and appointed government friends. Not the America of selfishness, avoiding taxes, and only caring about me! The values demonstrated by ANP and Codepink represent the America I want to see. Isn't it time this government honored we the people and used our taxes to take care of us rather than their friends in Forbes and Fortune?
Right-Wingers Celebrate Increase in Bicycle Accidents
A few days ago my 13-year old son excitedly showed me the new bumpersticker he got for this bike. It’s a picture of Barack Obama with the word “believe,” designed to stick in the spokes. Cool! A few days later I read in my local alternative weekly here in Minneapolis that a local right wing website announced that an increase in bike deaths on the streets might mean fewer Obama voters come election day. Cruel! A bad joke, I thought, until I looked up the blog and saw that it was illustrated with photos of cars plowing into and presumably killing a group of bicyclists. The photos look authentic (even if they were faked), which makes this more than a sick joke. It’s almost a provocation for motorists to mow down bicyclists, since they are a no-good bunch of liberals anyway. Thinking about this, on top of the shouts of "Kill Obama" and "Off with his head" heard at recent Sarah Palin rallies, worries me. There’s an element in American society -- even here in Minnesota, which has the longest record of voting Democratic for president of any state -- that can’t seem to accept most of their fellow citizens no longer share their right-wing views. And perhaps never did. What will they do if Obama wins on November 4?
Biking will kill off some Obama supporters, says blogger
The latest from the Anti-Strib blog is sure to get hardcore bikers and Sen. Barack Obama fans riled up. After recent reports of deaths and injuries due to the increasing numbers of commuters taking to their bikes for a primary mode of transportation, the Anti-Strib blog says it might help Sen. John McCain win the election.
Alaskan Independence Party: The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel
If Palin's McCarthy-era guilt-by-association is once again a valid political consideration, Palin, it would seem, has more to lose than Obama. Palin, it could be argued, following her own logic, thinks so little of America's perfection that she continues to "pal around" with a man--her husband, actually--who only recently terminated his seven-year membership in the Alaskan Independence Party. Putting plunder above patriotism, the members of this treasonous cabal aim to break our country into pieces and walk away with Alaska's rich federal oil fields and one-fifth of America's land base--an area three-fourths the size of the Civil War Confederacy. AIP's charter commits the party "to the ultimate independence of Alaska," from the United States which it refers to as "the colonial bureaucracy in Washington." It proclaims Alaska's 1959 induction as a state "as illegal and in violation of the United Nations charter and international law." AIP's creation was inspired by the rabidly violent anti-Americanism of its founding father Joe Vogler, "I'm an Alaskan, not an American," reads a favorite Vogler quote on AIP's current website, "I've got no use for America or her damned institutions." MORE ELECTION COVERAGE, CLICK HERE
America the Banana Republic
The ongoing financial meltdown is just the latest example of a disturbing trend that, to this adoptive American, threatens to put the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave on a par with Zimbabwe, Venezuela, and Equatorial Guinea. In a statement on the huge state-sponsored salvage of private bankruptcy that was first proposed last September, a group of Republican lawmakers, employing one of the very rudest words in their party’s thesaurus, described the proposed rescue of the busted finance and discredited credit sectors as “socialistic.” There was a sort of half-truth to what they said. But they would have been very much nearer the mark—and rather more ironic and revealing at their own expense—if they had completed the sentence and described the actual situation as what it is: “socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the rest.” The chief principle of banana-ism is that of kleptocracy, whereby those in positions of influence use their time in office to maximize their own gains, always ensuring that any shortfall is made up by those unfortunates whose daily life involves earning money rather than making it. MORE COVERAGE ON THE ECONOMY, CLICK HERE
NSA Eavesdropping on American Citizens 'Outrageous' and 'Disturbing'
A Senate panel is probing claims top secret government workers eavesdropped on communications from American service members, journalists and aid workers overseas. Announcing the probe, Senate intelligence committee chair Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) called the allegations, made on ABC News, "extremely disturbing."
U.S. spies on Americans' intimate conversations
A terrorist surveillance program instituted by the Bush administration allows the intelligence community to monitor phone calls between the United States and overseas without a court order. Adrienne Kinne, a former U.S. Army Reserves Arab linguist, told ABC News the NSA was listening to the phone calls of U.S. military officers, journalists and aid workers overseas who were talking about "personal, private things with Americans who are not in any way, shape or form associated with anything to do with terrorism." David Murfee Faulk, a former U.S. Navy Arab linguist, said in the news report that he and his colleagues were listening to the conversations of military officers in Iraq who were talking with their spouses or girlfriends in the United States. According to Faulk, they would often share the contents of some of the more salacious calls stored on their computers, listening to what he called "phone sex" and "pillow talk."
Bush Foreign Policy: "They're A**holes
First, he said that during White House discussions on Iran, a senior military leader asked Bush what his strategy was. Bush's answer? "They're assholes." Just gives you a sense as to how crude and clueless our current president is, and how desperately we need a change. Second -- and this was really interesting -- he maintained that the surge was not the cause of the decrease in violence in Iraq. Instead, Woodward said a covert program run by the U.S. military was the primary reason for the decrease in violence. Woodward didn't get specific, but it basically sounded like a targeted assassinations program. According to Woodward, the administration has confirmed his account. Seems like that might be something for McCain to ponder the next time he wants to say that the surge is the defining reason he ought to be elected president.
Thousands of Troops Are Deployed on U.S. Streets
Members of Congress were told they could face martial law if they didn't pass the bailout bill. This will not be the last time. Background: the First Brigade of the Third Infantry Division, three to four thousand soldiers, has been deployed in the United States as of October 1. Their stated mission is the form of crowd control they practiced in Iraq, subduing "unruly individuals," and the management of a national emergency. I am in Seattle and heard from the brother of one of the soldiers that they are engaged in exercises now. Amy Goodman reported that an Army spokesperson confirmed that they will have access to lethal and non lethal crowd control technologies and tanks. George Bush struck down Posse Comitatus, thus making it legal for military to patrol the U.S. He also led change to the 1807 Insurrection Act to give him far broader powers in the event of a loosely defined "insurrection" or many other "conditions" he has the power to identify. The Constitution allows the suspension of habeas corpus -- habeas corpus prevents us from being seized by the state and held without trial -- in the event of an "insurrection." With his own army force now, his power to call a group of protesters or angry voters "insurgents" staging an "insurrection" is strengthened.
CIA Official Pleads Guilty in Corruption Case
Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, the former No. 3 official in the CIA, pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court to one count of wire fraud stemming from sweetheart contracting deals he awarded to a friend and a high-level CIA job he got for his mistress. Prosecutors say he received $1,000 meals and lavish vacations from his friend, California businessman and GOP donor Brent R. Wilkes, in exchange for helping Wilkes score CIA contracts. Foggo, 53, was originally charged last year with 28 counts of wire and mail fraud, unlawful money transactions and making false statements. Foggo first was implicated in the corruption scheme back in March 2006, when former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, a California Republican, was sentenced to more than eight years in prison for accepting bribes and gifts.
ACTION: Restore the Clean Water Act
It's hard to believe, but polluters are actually allowed to contaminate your drinking water. Why? Because the Supreme Court and the Bush Administration have sided with polluters to strip vital protections from the Clean Water Act. That means that dangerous pollutants like E. coli, bacteria, mercury, PCBs, and dioxin could be contaminating the drinking water of more than 110 million Americans . But Congress can act today to restore the Clean Water Act's original protections by supporting the Clean Water Restoraction Act.
Michigan E.coli Outbreak
Public health officials have identified the source of the E.coli outbreak that has sickened at least 24 people in Michigan, mostly in the southeastern part of the state. The Michigan Department of Community Health announced that iceberg lettuce from a Detroit-based produce distributor was the probable source of the statewide E. coli outbreak. The lettuce distributed by Aunt Mid’s Produce Co was linked to more than 30 Illinois cases of E. coli, the Illinois Department of Public Health said. The Illinois Department of Public Health is warning consumers to stay away from Aunt Mid’s products. Esterichia coli is a common bacteria found in the human digestive tract. Some strains, such as the E.coli O157:H7 strain can cause bad stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, sometimes with blood in it. In some cases, it can cause life threatening problems. Children, the elderly and people with weak immune systems are more exposed to the disease. The negative health effects of E. coli can remain for months and years later.
What the Economy Needs Now Are Good, Green Jobs
A national day of action tomorrow for green jobs is showing that clean energy can be our modern day gold rush. If a coalition of clean energy and social justice groups has its way, renewable energy will be something of a modern day gold rush, providing both clean energy and scores of stable living-wage jobs for urban and rural Americans. Climate change and declining fossil fuel deposits are igniting interest in renewable energy, and many see the possibility of an economic boom in the building and installation of wind turbines, solar panels and geothermal energy systems along with a blossoming industry in green buildings and retrofits.
NOTEABLE: We Hold Its Value to Be Self-Evident
Ecuador approved a new constitution this weekend that, among other things, grants inalienable rights to nature, the first such inclusion in a nation's constitution, according to Ecuadorian officials. "Nature ... where life is reproduced and exists, has the right to exist, persist, maintain, and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions, and its processes in evolution. Every person, people, community, or nationality will be able to demand the recognition of rights for nature before the public bodies," the document says. The specific mention of evolution isn't accidental; besides being an activity nature arguably likes to do anyway, evolution as we know it has close ties to Ecuador's territory of the Galapagos Islands, where Charles Darwin formed his famous theory. Ecuador's constitution grants nature the right to "integral restoration" and says that the state "will promote respect toward all the elements that form an ecosystem" and that the state "will apply precaution and restriction measures in all the activities that can lead to the extinction of species, the destruction of the ecosystems, or the permanent alteration of the natural cycles."
Mom had no choice but to bike at night
Jacqueline Robinson, 40, was a single mom raising two kids. With no car, she commuted by bike to care for a 92-year-old man. Friends and family members describe Jackie Robinson as a fighter who had battled adversity and was working hard for her two boys, Bruce, 13, and Keith, 11. "She was a good person," said Heather Weeks, a cousin. "She would give you the shirt off her back." Royal Oak police say Robinson was struck while riding northbound on Woodward a few blocks south of 12 Mile and was dragged about 100 feet. They are searching for a 2008 white Jeep Liberty. Family members said medical personnel reported Robinson suffered massive internal injuries and multiple broken bones in her chest. Friends say she was about 4-foot-11 and weighed around 100 pounds. "Someone left her on the side of the road like a pile of garbage," said Weeks. "What kind of a person can do that?"
Kleenex = Gross Mismanagement of Forest Resources
As these new photos and recent government correspondence reveal, Kimberly-Clark is currently purchasing huge quantities of pulp made primarily from whole, old-growth trees from intact areas of Canada’s Boreal Forest. According to the Ontario Ministry of Environment, the stockpile contained 85,000 cubic metres of wood as of the end of March 2008. That’s equivalent to over 7,000 logging trucks full of wood. Since the closure of an area sawmill in June 2008, this wood has been trucked to the Terrace Bay pulp mill where it is being turned directly into pulp for Kleenex and other disposable products. In total, the logs will have been trucked 6-7 hours from the forest to the mill. What’s worse, even with this massive stockpile of timber already cut and waiting to be pulped, the Ogoki Forest continues to be logged, largely in order to supply Kimberly-Clark. [EDITOR: There is currently a nationwide boycott of Kimberly-Clark products as the result of their logging practices. These products include Kleenex, Cottenelle, Depends, Huggies, GoodNites, Kotex, Scott, Pullups, and Viva.]
Ten Conservative Myths About National Security
I hate having been right about this, though I can hardly blame average citizens for succumbing to the sirens of chaos. Americans trying to make correct sense of the new reality found their efforts stymied everywhere they turned. With the White House distorting intelligence to sell a war, corporate opportunists fanning the coals of panic to heat up vast new business opportunities, media editors milking the drama to keep their ratings high, and terrified hordes quick to shout "treason" whenever anyone dared to question the path we were taking, it was hard for even thoughtful Americans to locate the truth of the matter. And as long as confusion reigned, the terrorists really did keep winning.
I am having Sarah Palin nightmares MUST READ
I don't like raging at women. I have spent my life trying to build community, help empower women and stop violence against them. It is hard to write about Sarah Palin. This is why the Sarah Palin choice was all the more insidious and cynical. The people who made this choice count on the goodness and solidarity of women. But everything Sarah Palin believes in and practices is antithetical to women which for me is part of one story -- connected to saving the earth, ending racism, empowering women, giving young girls options, opening our minds, deepening tolerance, and ending violence and war. I believe that the McCain/Palin ticket is one of the most dangerous choices of my lifetime, and should this country chose those candidates the fall-out may be so great, the destruction so vast in so many areas that America may never recover. But what is equally disturbing is the impact that duo would have on the rest of the world. Unfortunately, this is not a joke. In my lifetime I have seen the clownish, the inept, the bizarre be elected to the presidency with regularity. In her world and the world of Fundamentalists nothing changes or gets better or evolves. She does not believe in global warming. The melting of the arctic, the storms that are destroying our cities, the pollution and rise of cancers, are all part of God's plan. The earth, in Palin's view, is here to be taken and plundered. The wolves and the bears are here to be shot and plundered. The oil is here to be taken and plundered. Iraq is here to be taken and plundered. As she said herself of the Iraqi war, "It was a task from God." I write to my sisters. I write because I believe we hold this election in our hands. This vote is a vote that will determine the future not just of the U.S., but of the planet. It will determine whether we create policies to save the earth or make it forever uninhabitable for humans. It will determine whether we move towards dialogue and diplomacy in the world or whether we escalate violence through invasion, undermining and attack. It will determine whether we go for oil, strip mining, coal burning or invest our money in alternatives that will free us from dependency and destruction. It will determine if money gets spent on education and healthcare or whether we build more and more methods of killing. It will determine whether America is a free open tolerant society or a closed place of fear, fundamentalism and aggression. MORE ELECTION COVERAGE
“So Sambo beat the bitch!” Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin
Alaskans Speak (In A Frightened Whisper): Palin Is “Racist, Sexist, Vindictive, And Mean”MUST READ
“So Sambo beat the bitch!” This is how Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin described Barack Obama’s win over Hillary Clinton to political colleagues in a restaurant a few days after Obama locked up the Democratic Party presidential nomination. According to Lucille, the waitress serving her table at the time and who asked that her last name not be used, Gov. Palin was eating lunch with five or six people when the subject of the Democrat’s primary battle came up. The governor, seemingly not caring that people at nearby tables would likely hear her, uttered the slur and then laughed loudly as her meal mates joined in appreciatively. “It was kind of disgusting,” Lucille said in a phone interview after admitting that she is frightened of being discovered telling folks in the “lower 48” about life near the North Pole. Then, almost with a sigh, she added, “But that’s just Alaska.” Racial and ethnic slurs may be “just Alaska” and, clearly, they are common, everyday chatter for Palin. Besides insulting Obama with a Step-N’-Fetch-It, “darkie musical” swipe, people who know her say she refers regularly to Alaska’s Aboriginal people as “Arctic Arabs” – how efficient, lumping two apparently undesirable groups into one ugly description – as well as the more colourful “mukluks” along with the totally unimaginative “f**king Eskimo’s,” according to a number of Alaskans and Wasillians interviewed for this article. But being openly racist is only the tip of the Palin iceberg. According to Alaskans interviewed for this article, she is also vindictive and mean. We’re talking Rove mean and Nixon vindictive. MORE ELECTION COVERAGE
What the Chemical Industry Doesn't Want You to Know about Everyday Products
Scientists Frederick Vom Saal and Wade Welshons have been in the industry's crosshairs for more than a decade, since their experiments turned up the first hard evidence that miniscule amounts of bisphenol A (BPA), an artificial sex hormone and integral component of a vast array of plastic products, caused irreversible changes in the prostates of fetal mice. The financial stakes were mind-boggling. The global chemical industry produces about 6 billion pounds of BPA annually, generating at least $6 billion in annual sales. The value of BPA-based manufactured goods, from cell phones and computers to epoxy coatings and dental bindings, is probably incalculable.
Warning: Wrecking Crew at Work
The Interior Department's bungle-dee-botch is what government looks like when you make it "market-based," as Bush once put it. This kind of government answers not to the public but to the party with the most money.
A Tawdry Tale of Bush, Sex, and Oil
People always say the Bush administration is in bed with the oil companies, but it turns out to be literally true. According to the Interior Department, some government officials in charge of collecting oil and gas royalties smoked pot, snorted cocaine and had sex with employees of big energy firms. Meanwhile, the rest of us were getting screwed at the gas pump. Who says that being a bureaucrat is dull work? Such colorful revelations shed some light on the mysterious energy task force assembled by Vice President Dick Cheney at the president's direction, shortly after he took office. Cheney has stubbornly refused to tell American taxpayers what was decided or who participated in these important meetings, though it's known that many major players were involved, including those geniuses at Enron. No wonder the vice president is so secretive about what took place. Obviously these weren't serious policy meetings; they were toga parties, with Cheney dressed up as Bluto from Animal House. In their wildest dreams the boys from big oil couldn't have imagined how much fun the next eight years would be -- sex, drugs and ``treasure hunts.'' Party on, dudes. Drill your brains out
Gov't officials probed about illicit sex
Government officials handling billions of dollars in oil royalties engaged in illicit sex with employees of energy companies they were dealing with and received numerous gifts from them, federal investigators said Wednesday. The alleged transgressions involve 13 Interior Department employees in Denver and Washington. Their alleged improprieties include rigging contracts, working part-time as private oil consultants, and having sexual relationships with — and accepting golf and ski trips and dinners from — oil company employees, according to three reports released Wednesday by the Interior Department's inspector general. The findings are the latest sign of trouble at the Minerals Management Service, which has already been accused of mismanaging the collection of fees from oil companies and writing faulty contracts for drilling on government land and offshore. The charges also come as lawmakers and both presidential candidates weigh giving oil companies more access to federal lands, which would bring in more money to the federal government. "This all shows the oil industry holds shocking sway over the administration and even key federal employees," said Sen. Bill Nelson. "This is why we must not allow the Republican big oil agenda to be jammed through Congress."
Drug makers seek shield from lawsuits
In a case that could have broad implications for consumers, the Supreme Court this fall will consider barring liability claims involving medications approved by the FDA. [EDITOR: Considering that FDA oversight is minimal and that drugs are being rushed to market at a blazing pace, this law represents an enormous threat to consumers, and removes a great deal of consumer protection.]
This is America. We don't jail journalists here.
Jailing journalists is unacceptable in a democracy. But that's exactly what is happening at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn. Award winning journalist and host of "Democracy Now" Amy Goodman was arrested on Monday by St. Paul police while covering a protest outside the Republican National Convention. This story has been virtually ignored by the mainstream press. The cable channels are providing extensive coverage of events related to the Republican National Convention, but there has been a virtual news blackout on the arrest of Amy Goodman and the "Democracy Now" team.
POW says McCain is "not cut out to be President"
I Spent Years as a POW with John McCain, and His Finger Should Not Be Near the Red Button
A fellow Vietnam POW of McCain's warns of the candidate's "quick and explosive temper" and suggests McCain is exaggerating his imprisonment. When I was a Plebe (4th classman, or freshman) at the Naval Academy in 1957-58, I was assigned to the 17th Company for my four years there. In those days we had about 3,600 midshipmen spread among 24 companies, thus about 150 midshipmen to a company. As fortune would have it, John, a First Classman (senior) and his room mate lived directly across the hall from me and my two room mates. McCain barely managed to graduate, standing 5th from the bottom of his 800 man graduating class. I and many others have speculated that the main reason he did graduate was because his father was an Admiral, and also his grandfather, both U.S. Naval Academy graduates. I can verify that John has an infamous reputation for being a hot head. He has a quick and explosive temper that many have experienced first hand. Folks, quite honestly that is not the finger I want next to that red button. It is also disappointing to see him take on and support Bush's war in Iraq, even stating we might be there for another 100 years. For me John represents the entrenched and bankrupt policies of Washington-as-usual. The past 7 years have proven to be disastrous for our country. And I believe John's views on war, foreign policy, economics, environment, health care, education, national infrastructure and other important areas are much the same as those of the Bush administration. MORE ELECTION COVERAGE
The New Face of Terrorism?
A Square White Guy
The deadliest biological assault on the United States may have been perpetrated by a church-going white man, with anthrax from our own weapons labs. What we learned last week, after the suicide of Bruce E. Ivins, was disquieting enough without the twisted love angle. If you can believe the recent leaks from the FBI on its most important unsolved crime -- which killed five and sickened 17, immobilized the federal government and traumatized the nation -- it was a clean-shaven, white, God-fearing Catholic guy who done it. Despite a government anxious to find yet another example of Islamic terrorism in the wake of 9/11, it quickly became clear to experts that the anthrax used in the only WMD attack on our nation was a sophisticated product traceable to our own biological weapons labs. This is not surprising, because the United States has long been a leader in this field.
Olympics Expose the Total Hypocrisy of U.S. Immigration Laws
Americans aren't known for their rational views on immigration. So it's no wonder we attack low-wage workers while celebrating immigrant athletes. In America, we have a long and proud tradition of picking on the little guy. We also have a proud tradition of taking half-hearted moral stands. (Remember the Southern Compromise, anyone? Our continuing tolerance of segregation after abolition? Or the Bush Administration's rejection of nation-building ... ?) Why bother standing up for what's right when we can just talk about what we know is right but then just keep doing what we've always done.
Welcome to the Next Epoch
A striking report from the front lines of science suggests we're officially entering a period in which humanity may simply outrun history itself. In somber prose, the London Society warns that "the combination of extinctions, global species migrations and the widespread replacement of natural vegetation with agricultural monocultures is producing a distinctive contemporary biostratigraphic signal. These effects are permanent, as future evolution will take place from surviving (and frequently anthropogenically relocated) stocks." Evolution itself, in other words, has been forced into a new trajectory.
The Problem Is Simple: Too Many People, Too Much Stuff
Over some 60 million years, Homo sapiens has evolved into the dominant animal on the planet, acquiring binocular vision, upright posture, large brains, and -- most importantly -- language with syntax and that complex store of non-genetic information we call culture. However, in the last several centuries we've increasingly been using our relatively newly acquired power, especially our culturally evolved technologies, to deplete the natural capital of Earth -- in particular its deep, rich agricultural soils, its groundwater stored during ice ages, and its biodiversity -- as if there were no tomorrow. The point, all too often ignored, is that this trend is being driven in large part by a combination of population growth and increasing per capita consumption, and it cannot be long continued without risking a collapse of our now-global civilization. Too many people -- and especially too many politicians and business executives -- are under the delusion that such a disastrous end to the modern human enterprise can be avoided by technological fixes that will allow the population and the economy to grow forever. But if we fail to bring population growth and over-consumption under control -- the number of people on Earth is expected to grow from 6.5 billion today to 9 billion by the second half of the 21st century -- then we will inhabit a planet where life becomes increasingly untenable because of two looming crises: global heating, and the degradation of the natural systems on which we all depend.
The Party of Stupid
The Colbert Report is hilarious because Stephen Colbert's caricature of right-wing blowhards is so eerily accurate. Colbert doesn't believe in "reading books," he believes in his "gut." He listens to his "rage." He admires the "Alpha Dog of the Week." And why does Colbert sound like so many of today's Republican Party leaders? Because, as Paul Krugman explained extremely well today, the GOP has "become the party of stupid."
Eating Meat Is Worse Than Driving a Truck ... for the Climate
Reducing our meat consumption may not be popular, but we need to view our love affair with burgers in the same frame as gas-guzzling SUVs. It's false to frame the biofuel debate as a choice between people or SUVs. While there are daily references in the media to the diversion of corn to fuel-making, there's hardly ever a mention of the fact that feeding our livestock uses 50 percent to 60 percent of the American corn crop. Vegetarians have long understood this issue, but asking the American public to eat less meat is still a radical idea, politically untouchable. Yet the meat industry is a giant source of greenhouse gases, of which carbon dioxide is only one, and not the most dangerous one. All those steer feedlots and factory buildings crammed with pigs and chickens produce immense amounts of animal wastes that give off methane. On an equivalent basis to carbon dioxide, methane is twenty-three times more potent as a greenhouse gas. When you add in the production of fertilizer and other aspects of animal farming (including land use changes, feed transport, etc.) livestock farming is responsible for nearly one-fifth of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, more than the transportation sector, according to a 2006 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Finally, Marriage Licenses for All (except in Michigan)
In San Francisco, there wasn't a dry eye in the house when Daughers of Bilitis founders, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon got married in City Hall yesterday, by the studly mayor who started the whole gay wedding stampede in 2004, Gavin Newsom. Del and Phyll are so frail, at their age, it makes you choke up to think of how they've been together since the 1950s, asking for nothing more than a little respect. They are more radical than young people a third their age! These are often couples who've been together for decades, coping with the health and legacy issues than any old person does, wanting their beloved to be by their side without harangue and humiliation. Marriage licenses for all are finally here. It's already a fact in life in so many states and countries; soon the only hold-outs [such as Michigan] are going to look antediluvian.
Bush Administration Putting Immunity For Blackwater Over The Lives Of Our Troops
While McSame runs around accusing Obama of wanting to "forfeit" Iraq, the Bushies are finalizing the negotiations for forfeiting Iraq by 2011. But the negotiations have hit a snag. The sticking point? The U.S. officials said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke with al-Maliki on Wednesday to try to resolve the issue of legal immunity for U.S. contractors working in Iraq. The officials described the phone call as tense. Selling out the Constitution to give telecoms immunity is bad enough. Selling out the troops to give [Michigan mercinary company] Blackwater immunity is a whole new level of sickening.
The forged Iraqi Letter
What just happened? Evidence. A secret that has been judiciously kept for five years just spilled out. All of what follows is new, never reported in any way. In the fall of 2003, after the world learned there were no WMD -- as Habbush had foretold -- the White House ordered the CIA to carry out a deception. The mission: create a handwritten letter, dated July, 2001, from Habbush to Saddam saying that Atta trained in Iraq before the attacks and the Saddam was buying yellow cake for Niger with help from a "small team from the al Qaeda organization." The mission was carried out, the letter was created, popped up in Baghdad, and roiled the global newcycles in December, 2003...
If We Drill in the U.S., We Don't Get the Oil
One thing has been driving me crazy about this drilling debate -- everyone seems to assume that if we drill for oil in the US, that we will get the oil. And hence, we won't be dependent on foreign oil anymore. But we won't get anything, Exxon-Mobil will. The oil that comes from that drilling will not be United States property (Republicans aren't suggesting we nationalize the oil companies, are they?). It will be the property of whichever oil company got the rights to that contract. They can then sell it to whoever they like -- and they will. When we ask the question of whether there should be drilling off the coast of Florida or in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, we should ask the question this way -- would you be comfortable with the Chinese or the Germans or Russians or the Saudis drilling on American land? Because for all intents and purposes, they will be.
Bottled Water: The Height of Stupidity
Bottled water is a joke, one of the biggest consumer and taxpayer ripoffs ever. I applaud California's Attorney General Jerry Brown who said recently that he will sue to block a proposed water-bottling operation in Northern California by Nestle. Attorneys General everywhere should require recycling of all plastic bottles and containers by requiring deposits to be paid to encourage returns, as is the case with aluminum cans. Not only do society and the environment pay an unfair price for this consumer hoax, but consumers are being hoodwinked. They are paying from 300 to 3,000 times more than the cost of tap water without any benefit.
Companies Agree To Cut Cancer-Causing Chemicals In Potato Chips
"Potato chips" and "cancer-causing chemicals" are not phrases that belong in the same sentence. So it's a little disconcerting to learn that Heinz, Frito-Lay, Kettle Foods and Lance Inc. have agreed to reduce of the cancer-causing chemical acrylamide in their potato chips and French fries. Acrylamide is a by-product of frying, roasting and baking foods -- particularly potatoes -- that contain certain amino acids. In 2002, Swedish scientists discovered high levels of cancer-causing acrylamide in fried potato products.
Invasive Species Bill Stuck in Congress
Washington - Tiny foreign mussels assault drinking water sources in California and Nevada. A deadly fish virus spreads swiftly through the Great Lakes and beyond. Japanese shore crabs make a home for themselves in Long Island Sound, more than 6,000 miles away. These are no exotic seafood delicacies. They're a menace to U.S. drinking water supplies, native plants and animals, and they cost billions to contain. Yet Congress is moving to address the problem at the pace of a plain old garden snail. Among the best-known cases: Little quagga and zebra mussels from Eastern Europe were discovered in the Great Lakes two decades ago, likely having boarded ships from Europe. In the first six years after their arrival the creatures wreaked as much as $500 million in damage on the regional economy, clogging water intake pipes and gobbling algae at the base of the aquatic food chain.
Of Spam and Spys
There is lots of spam going around with funny subjects like "Mike Tyson to Fight Michael Jackson" or "Afghanistan to be 51st US State", or other equally absurd lines designed to hook unwary recipients into clicking the URL in the spam. Unfortunately, the results of following that link are not at all funny. The victim's computer will be infected with a Trojan horse, it will become part of a spam, malware and DDoS botnet, and all the user's personal data may be compromised. Those malware URLs are the infection path of large-scale attacks by cybercrime gangs to build their botnets.
Hiroshima Day and U.S. Nukes Today
In honor of Hiroshima Day, we'd like to take a minute to reflect on just how absurd it is for America to maintain 10,000 nuclear bombs. Defense experts say that many simply aren't needed, and by reducing the nuclear arsenal our country could save $14 billion dollars -- more than enough to save the lives of six million kids who die of starvation in impoverished nations each year.
The Price of Oil, Tripled? An Attack on Iran Could Make It Happen
An attack on Iran, which Israeli and Bush administration officials appear set to carry out if Iranian uranium enrichment is not halted, would ignite a regional war in the Middle East and lead to economic collapse and political upheaval in the United States. "In short and simple terms, we would be plunged into a depression that would make the Great Depression of the 1930s in which I spent my childhood look like boom times.
How to Survive the Triple Whammy of Energy, Food and Climate Crises
Gas prices are above $4 a gallon; global food prices surged 39% last year; and an environmental disaster looms as carbon emissions continue to spiral upward. The global economy appears on the verge of a TKO, a triple whammy from energy, agriculture, and climate-change trends. Right now you may be grumbling about the extra bucks you're shelling out at the pump and the grocery store; but, unless policymakers begin to address all three of these trends as one major crisis, it could get a whole lot worse. ...an important new study published by Cambridge University Press shows that organic systems in developing countries can produce 80% more than conventional farms.
Will More Drilling Mean Cheaper Gas?
Even if tomorrow we opened up every square mile of the outer continental shelf to offshore rigs, even if we drilled the entire state of Alaska and pulled new refineries out of thin air, the impact on gas prices would be minimal and delayed at best. A 2004 study by the government's Energy Information Administration (EIA) found that drilling in ANWR would trim the price of gas by 3.5 cents a gallon by 2027. [Editor: Conservatives led by Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh sent over a million messages to Congress calling for offshore oil drilling. Then John McCain joined the push for drilling. Now he's running ads saying Obama's responsible for high gas prices, because Obama's energy plan focuses on alternative energy—not drilling. It's a scam. Offshore drilling won't save any money at the pumps for years (although it will boost oil company profits). But some senior Democrats are showing signs of caving under all this pressure—and polls show McCain's attacks may be hurting Obama. Here's the truth: Right now, progressives are losing this argument. We all need to fight back. If we don't, we could end up losing the election and the fight for clean energy.]
When did American troops become members of "Generation Kill" instead of citizen-soldiers? And when did we become so proud of declaring our military to be "the world's best"?
Al Gore inches toward Solar
This week he advocated getting to an electric power system that is "carbon free" within ten years. It comes alongside the equally telling move by oil baron T. Boone Pickens to invest $2 billion in wind power. Gore has reportedly raised some $300 million (that's not a typo) to spend on moving pubic opinion to support the transition to a totally "carbon-free" electric supply system. That idea has been around at least thirty years, and is a sub-set of the Solartopian demand that our entire energy economy become free of all fossil and nuclear fuels.
Drilling Ourselves Deep in a Hole
At one point in his masterful People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn reflects upon the unspeakable carnage wrought by the Conquistadors in South and Central America, all in the pursuit of gold, and wonders at how those obscene riches sustained imperial greatness… for barely a hundred years. All that bloodletting, enslavement, massacres — genocide in places — for a temporary wealth that quickly vanished on the stage of history. It reminds me of our current oil craze: in one century we have plundered billions of years of stored hydrocarbons, and what do we have to show for it? Fleeting prosperity — one that is hardly shared by all — a highly volatile Middle East, and awesome ecological devastation that will require centuries of recovery. And now, as the age of oil finally signals its inevitable demise, our president and his allies in Washington announce that their grand response is … to drill for more oil. In his latest book, former World Bank director Joseph Stiglitz claims that the war in Iraq will end up costing three trillion dollars. Imagine if that amount had been dedicated to researching and sustaining the transition to renewable energies. A mere trillion dollars would have gone a long way towards remodeling American suburbia for lifestyle and transportation changes. Instead, we have sacrificed unimaginable funds (from future generations, Stiglitz tells us), and tens of thousands of lives (at least) for a resource that is soon to be economically irrelevant!
Profiting from Iraq
There is a lot of money to be made in Iraq. Apparently, all it takes is the right connections to get a piece of the action. Halliburton Co. had those connections. The Houston-based oil services company that was once run by Vice President Dick Cheney set the gold standard for war profiteering. Now comes word that Dallas billionaire Ray Hunt, a crony of President Bush’s and a member of the president’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, is getting his share of the spoils.
Africa: The Next Victim in the U.S. Quest for Cheap Oil
Resource wars that are already well under way. In mid-June, a Shell facility was attacked by local militants, disrupting production and sending the already sky-high price of oil to further heights before coming back online a week later. Attacks like those have increased in frequency, as Nigerian factions have fought for control of the nation's lucrative petroleum resources, which are the largest in Africa. The problem, especially as indigenous populations caught between Nigeria's prosperous rich and their oil industry's environmental devastation see it, is that viable land and resources have been wasted on a handful while the majority of the country falls into further disrepair and depression. From natural gas flares and oil spills to the destruction of native plants, animal species and other salable commodities, Nigeria's oil industry has wreaked havoc across the land and its people. And it's only getting worse. And if you think it doesn't affect America, think again.
'Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter'
The American leader, who has been condemned throughout his presidency for failing to tackle climate change, ended a private meeting with the words: "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter." He then punched the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock.
Bush's Banned Interview: An Insight Into Insanity
I came across an interview with President Bush on Irish television that caused a bit of a storm in 2004. The interview conducted by the tenacious Carol Coleman of Radio Television Ireland was not aired on American television, and Bush's press officers apparently complained vociferously about the rigorous questioning. The video shows Bush at the absolute peak of his arrogance. Coleman cut through the simplistic slogans about evil doers and freedom loving Americans and continued to ask Bush serious questions about the illegal war he had just launched. It fast became evident that this was a man who really had no idea what he was doing -- someone so removed from reality that he failed to even understand what he was being asked. The interview with Coleman should go down on record as definitive proof of Bush's utter incompetence, a priceless picture of a madman who had no business occupying the highest office of the land.
Insurance slogans fail reality test
"Like a good neighbor," "you're in good hands," "do the right thing." All are advertising slogans of insurance companies. They sound real comforting and friendly, don't they? Interestingly, all three companies represented by those slogans have ended up on the American Association of Justice's list of the ten worst insurance companies for consumers.
Lawyers Rate Allstate as Worst Insurance Company
Allstate ranks as the worst insurer for consumers, according to a comprehensive investigation of thousands of legal documents and financial filings by the American Association for Justice, a trial lawyers' group.
If you take one of a class of antibiotics that includes Cipro, the FDA wants to warn you about some potentially serious side effects. The agency has asked manufacturers to place a "black box" warning on the label, alerting consumers to the increased risk of tendinitis and tendon rupture. Of course, the consumer group Public Citizen started pushing for that warning two years ago.
Tell your Legislator to Support HB 6299 and HB 6300, make roads safer for cyclists
Representatives Andy Coulouris (D-Saginaw) and David Palsrok (R-Manistee) on June 29 introduced House Bills 6299 and 6300, which enhance penalties for moving violations causing physical injury or death to bicyclists and other vulnerable roadway users. A teen on a bike deserves the same protection as one driving a tractor. These bills will make Michigan roadways safer for bicyclists and all vulnerable users of our taxpayer-funded road system.
(1) A “VULNERABLE ROADWAY USER” IS DEFINED AS A PEDESTRIAN OR A PERSON OPERATING A NONMOTORIZED TRANSPORTATION DEVICE (INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO A BICYCLE).
(2) A PERSON WHO COMMITS A MOVING VIOLATION AND AS A RESULT CAUSES INJURY TO A VULNERABLE ROADWAY USER ON A HIGHWAY WHO IS IN COMPLIANCE WITH THIS ACT IS GUILTY OF A MISDEMEANOR PUNISHABLE BY IMPRISONMENT FOR NOT MORE THAN 1 YEAR OR A FINE OF NOT MORE THAN $1,000.00, OR BOTH.
(3) A PERSON WHO COMMITS A MOVING VIOLATION AND AS A RESULT CAUSES DEATH TO A VULNERABLE ROADWAY USER ON A HIGHWAY WHO IS IN COMPLIANCE WITH THIS ACT IS GUILTY OF A FELONY PUNISHABLE BY IMPRISONMENT FOR NOT MORE THAN 15 YEARS OR A FINE OF NOT MORE THAN $7,500.00, OR BOTH.
GOP Just Can’t Give Enough To Big Oil
There are very good reasons why oily guys have been stereotyped over the years as the sorts of villains who twirl their mustaches and tie innocent young women to railroad tracks. Now, as we are nearing the end of eight years of government of, for and by the oil industry, we may have finally reached the point in our history where the oily guys who run Big Oil no longer have any power to fool us. With $4-a-gallon gas and the prospect of continuing price rises to $5 and above before the end of the summer, politicians are having a tougher job duping us into supporting more financial giveaways to the oil companies. Amazingly, though, Republicans still keep trying.
The situation is desperate! Due to the severe typhoon Fengshen, most of the Western Visa are under water and mud. Hundreds are dead. Thousands are unaccounted for. Hundreds of thousands are in shelters. This is the worse disaster to ever stike this area! 100% of the money you contribute will help families
Direct cash deposits may be made to: SIMBAHANG LINGKOD NG BAYAN (account name/payee), Bank of the Philippine Islands (Loyola-Katipunan Branch), peso checking account number: 3081-1111-61, dollar savings account number: 3084-0420-12.
For proper acknowledgement, a donor may fax a copy of the validated deposit slip to SLB through telefax 426-5986, indicating contact information (name, address, email, landline/mobile). Those who wish to be anonymous may skip this procedure, according to Bro. Ismael Jose Chan-Gonzaga, SJ, Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan executive director.
Bush's Secret Army of Snoops and Snitches
The full scale of Bush's assault on our civil liberties may not be known until years after he's left office. At the moment, all we can do is get glimpses here or there of what's going on.
Ignorant America: Just How Stupid Are We?
Five defining characteristics of stupidity, it seems to me, are readily apparent. First, is sheer ignorance: Ignorance of critical facts about important events in the news, and ignorance of how our government functions and who's in charge. Second, is negligence: The disinclination to seek reliable sources of information about important news events. Third, is wooden-headedness, as the historian Barbara Tuchman defined it: The inclination to believe what we want to believe regardless of the facts. Fourth, is shortsightedness: The support of public policies that are mutually contradictory, or contrary to the country's long-term interests. Fifth, and finally, is a broad category I call bone-headedness, for want of a better name: The susceptibility to meaningless phrases, stereotypes, irrational biases, and simplistic diagnoses and solutions that play on our hopes and fears.
Trains to answer traffic, cost, and pollution
Shifting a fourth of U.S. freight from trucks to railroads by 2026 would spare each American an average of 41 hours of travel time, 79 gallons of fuel, and $985 in gas expenses each year, according to the seventh annual Congestion Relief Index. "Railroads last year were able to move a ton of freight an average of 436 miles on a gallon of diesel fuel," said railroad association president and CEO Edward R. Hamberger, speaking before the U.S. Senate last week. "It's like moving a ton from Boston to Baltimore or Eugene, Ore., to San Francisco on a gallon of fuel." He called for the government to support bills that would expand tax credits to help railways expand capacity. His group also backs public-private partnerships to fund railroads.
The End of Oil
Paul Roberts tgells us in his new book, The End of Oil, that crude, besides being at the core of a host of political and economic problems, is getting harder to find, both in the Middle East and (especially) outside it -- meaning that high prices are here to stay, and that the United States can expect to become more, not less, dependent for its oil on volatile Middle Eastern countries. Roberts says that Americans are “energy illiterate” -- we only think about the nation’s energy policy when oil prices hit us hard in the pocket. If the high price of oil keeps up, it may be just be the rude awakening needed for us to pressure politicians and in turn, the energy industry, to undertake massive investment in the alternatives to oil. If we don’t, the consequences will be disastrous: economic recession, environmental devastation, and further upheaval in the Middle East.
A Metal Scare to Rival the Oil Scare
Indium, gallium and hafnium are some of the least-known elements on the periodic table, but New Scientist warns that reserves of these low-profile minerals and others like them might soon be exhausted thanks to the demand for flat screens and other high-tech goods. Scientists who have tried to estimate how long the worlds mineral supply can meet global demand have made some gloomy predictions. Armin Reller, a materials chemist at the University of Augsburg in Germany, estimates that in 10 years the world will run out of indium, used for making liquid-crystal displays for flat-screen televisions and computer monitors. He also predicts that the world will run out of zinc by 2037, and hafnium, an increasingly important part of computer chips, by 2017. Recycling of rare metals will be the only way to manufacture some gadgets and machines as demand grows in the developing world.
Bush Tours America To Survey Damage Caused By His Disastrous Presidency
Will the Last Superpower Recognize In Time What We Must Do to Save the Planet?
Cheap oil provided an energy subsidy that defined the wars, economies, settlements, values, and lifestyles of the 20th century. The result was a century of wasteful extravagance and inefficiency that encouraged us to squander virtually all Earth's resources -- including water, land, forests, fisheries, soils, minerals, and natural waste recycling capacity. We are now waking up to the morning-after consequences of a brief but raucous party. These include depleted natural systems, unsustainable economies, an obsolete physical infrastructure, and a six-fold increase in the human population dependent on the diminished resources of a finite planet. Cheap oil is no more and the global projection of military and economic power it made possible is no longer viable. In May 2008 the price of oil hit a new high of $135 a barrel in contrast to the historic inflation adjusted price of $27.00. We are only beginning to awake as a nation to the reality that our reign as a global superpower is coming to an abrupt end.
The 10 Most Awesomely Bad Moments of the Bush soon to be ex-Presidency
The Bush administration can be described as a slapstick comedy with an unusually high body count: Picture the Three Stooges and the Keystone Cops duking it out with cruise missiles. In a lot of ways, choosing the Bush administration's 10 greatest moments -- disastrous failures, all -- is about as pointless as picking out your 10 least favorite hemorrhoids: There are entirely too many of them, and taken together they all add up to a throbbing mass of pain.
The World's Pollution Factory
Chinese manufacturers are extremely energy inefficient. To produce an equivalent amount of goods, they use six times more resources than the United States, seven times more resources than Japan, and, most embarrassingly, three times more resources than India, to which China is most frequently compared. If ever there were a blueprint for a global pollution factory, China would be the model. At the root of many of China's air-quality problems is its heavy dependence on relatively high-sulfur, low-quality coal for everything from electricity generation and industrial production to cooking and space heating in the home. China relies on coal for almost 75% of its energy needs. In fact, each year, China consumes more coal than Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States combined.
Walking is 12 times better for the climate than driving
In case you missed it, there was a bit of a kerfuffle in the blogosphere a few months back, concerning the climate impacts of walking vs. driving. Your mileage may vary, of course; but my shoes get about 220 miles per gallon.
Contaminated Veggies Are the Meat Industry’s Fault
While it's difficult to quantify how many vegetarians live within our borders, it's easier to observe the attitude toward vegetarians. Twenty years ago, "What're you, a Commie?" was a typical response to a confession of veggie brotherhood. Nowadays, despite the occasional stink eye, meat eaters at least understand that vegetarianism is healthy, if not a lifestyle particularly suited for them. Even though the United States is more veggie-friendly these days, it's still difficult to avoid crappy food, even if one chooses to become a vegan, as I did six years ago. Despite my decision, I found myself projectile vomiting into my toilet last week. Diagnosis: food poisoning. Suspect: tomatoes. Unfortunately, becoming a vegetarian or a vegan doesn't ensure healthiness. Sure, vegetarians enjoy many health perks (low rates of: heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, etc.) but we're still at the mercy of the meat industry in many ways. It's not the veggies that are to blame. The problem is the meat. Salmonella is an animal pathogen, so it doesn't originate from tomatoes. Most experts agree that the bacteria probably come from groundwater contaminated with animal feces. You read that right: Cow shit is in your tomatoes. Actually, cow shit is in everything: the water, hamburgers, other plant life, and if one ascribes to the hippie New Age belief that we are all one pulsating organism upon Mother Earth, then cow shit is in all of us.
Big Oil Returns to Iraq
Nearly four decades after the four biggest Western oil companies were expelled from Iraq by Saddam Hussein, they are negotiating their return. By the end of the month, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Exxon Mobil and Total will sign agreements with the Baghdad government, Iraq's first with big Western oil firms since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.The major oil companies have been eager to go back to Iraq but are concerned about their own security and the long-term stability of the country. The two-year no-bid agreements are service agreements that should add another 500,000 barrels of crude a day of output to Iraq's present production of 2.5 million barrels a day.
AAA Auto Club bad for the environment?
When it comes to roadside assistance, most Americans don't even think twice before making a decision. AAA has been around since 1902 and is the leading auto club in the country. But AAA, who did well to focus on roadway safety reform through the 1940s, is isolating many consumers due to its stance on a more current safety issue: the environment. Now one company, with a business strategy built around being environmentally conscious, is hoping to entice American car owners by offering a greener form of roadside assistance.
Finally, Marriage Licenses for All
The legalization of gay marriage is a huge milestone in the fight for equal rights. Still, it begs the question: why do people get married, anyway?
The Worst of All Worlds
House Democrats capitulate to pass a surveillance bill that further compromises our privacy and limits accountability of the government and telecoms. Will the Senate fight back?
Human link in severity of floods
Natural disasters like floods are normally blamed on nature, but some experts believe humans are at least partly responsible for this month's massive flooding in Iowa and elsewhere in the U.S. farm belt. Human re-engineering of landscapes came into question as rivers overran their banks and more than 20 levees along the Mississippi River failed, inundating thousands of acres of prime farmland and displacing nearly 40,000 people.
Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing: The Origins of Aggressive Interrogation Techniques
Intelligence saves lives. Knowing where an insurgent has buried an IED can keep a vehicle carrying Marines in Iraq from being blown up. Knowing that an al Qaeda associate visited an internet café in Kabul could be the key piece of information that unravels a terrorist plot targeting our embassy. Intelligence saves lives. But how do we get the people who know the information to share it with us? Does degrading them or treating them harshly increase the chances that they’ll be willing to help? Just a couple of weeks ago I visited our troops in Afghanistan. While I was there I spoke to a senior intelligence officer who told me that treating detainees harshly is actually an impediment – a “roadblock” to use that officer’s word – to getting intelligence from them.
I just got off the phone with a Congressional staffer, who couldn't quite focus on the issue we were supposed to discuss because she is working overtime on the floods in the Midwest. So I turned on cable news, and found out that the floods are plastered all over, much as the wildfires in California were in October of 2007. And just like 2007, the major environmental groups are AWOL on the most covered climate event of the year so far. Here's an answer to a vexing question for lots of liberals. If you want to know why there is no action on global warming, do the following simple exercise. Turn on cable news right now, or do a Google News search for floods. Here are some news headlines you might find. So one would think the press would cover global warming in the context of extreme weather. Of course journalists don't. But is this a media problem? Yes, but it's not just a media problem. I looked at the home pages and press pages of the Sierra Club, NRDC, Environmental Defense, the League of Conservation Voters, and Al Gore's We Can Solve It. The Sierra Club is asking for higher mileage standards on cars, NRDC is discussing lead and growing support for action on global warming, the League of Conservation Voters brags about its recent endorsement of Gabrielle Giffords, Environmental Defense asks for lower gas prices, and We Can Solve It puts its new ad front and center.
Carl Levin: Senate Floor Statement on Oil and Gasoline Prices
Mr. President, day after day record-high oil and gasoline prices are causing immense harm to millions of American consumers and businesses. Unless something is done to make energy more affordable, these record-high prices will continue to damage our economy, increasing the prices of transportation, food, manufacturing and everything in between. Skyrocketing energy prices are a threat to our economic and national security, and the time is long past for action.
China Surgest Ahead of U.S. in Clean Energy Spending
CHINA is leaving the US in the dust in its spending on clean energy - but it still has plenty to do if it is to shake off its sooty reputation. According to a study released last week by the Washington-based think tank, Worldwatch Institute, China will invest more than $10 billion on renewable energy this year - double the amount invested by the US in 2006.
Meijer gets judge to hide papers
Meijer Inc. convinced a state appellate judge to hide from public view documents related to Grand Traverse County's efforts to investigate the retailer's campaign finance violations. A motion to seal the appellate case was filed by John Pirich, a Lansing attorney hired by Meijer.
Gay unions shed light on gender in marriage
A growing body of evidence shows that same-sex couples have a great deal to teach everyone else about marriage and relationships. Most studies show surprisingly few differences between committed gay couples and committed straight couples, but the differences that do emerge have shed light on the kinds of conflicts that can endanger heterosexual relationships. While the gay and lesbian couples had about the same rate of conflict as the heterosexual ones, they appeared to have more relationship satisfaction, suggesting that the inequality of opposite-sex relationships can take a toll.
Bush Begins Farewell Tour
On his final scheduled visit to Europe before his term ends in January, the U.S. president, George W. Bush, held a farewell summit meeting with leaders of the European Union here on Tuesday, debating issues including diplomacy toward Iran and a trade dispute over chickens.
Michigan Based Mercenary Agency Blackwater is Now Offering Private Spy Services
The notorious mercenary company now offers spy "services" to Fortune 500 companies, for the right price. This past September, the secretive mercenary company Blackwater USA found its name splashed across front pages the world after the company's shooters gunned down seventeen Iraqi civilians in Baghdad's Nisour Square. But by early 2008, Blackwater had largely receded from the headlines save for the occasional blip on the media radar sparked by Congressman Henry Waxman's ongoing investigations into its activities. Its forces remained deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and business continued to pour in. In the two weeks directly following Nisour Square, Blackwater signed more than $144 million in contracts with the State Department for "protective services" in Iraq and Afghanistan alone and, over the following weeks and months, won millions more in contracts with other federal entities like the Coast Guard, the Navy and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.
Jury Says It's Legal to Protest an Illegal War
A rare bit of good news for the anti-war movement goes largely ignored by the media. The good news is that six peace activists were acquitted on charges of criminal trespass for failing to obey a police request that they abandon their sit-in outside U.S. Sen. Susan Collins' office in the Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building in Maine For Hendrick, a Naval Academy graduate and former Air Force officer who volunteered for two tours in Vietnam and who now teaches peace studies at the University of Maine at Orono, the "not guilty" verdict was especially sweet. In his defense, he told the jury, "My best friend's name is on the wall in Washington, as are the names of three other teammates and nine classmates." Those deaths and the deaths of another generation of soldiers and civilians were on his mind when he refused to leave the Federal Building: "Every life lost is a heinous crime, and we are all complicit. We should all be working to stop a foreign policy run amok without conscience," Hendrick told me.
Complete Streets Bicycle Bill in House and Senate
Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA) took an important step last Thursday, May 1, for safer, better designed streets by introducing the Safe and Complete Streets Act of 2008 into the U.S. House (HR 5951). The bill would make sure that roads built and improved with federal funds safely serve everyone using the roadway,including pedestrians, bicyclists, bus riders, as well as those with disabilities. On the Senate side, Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) signed on this week as first Republican co-sponsor of the Senate version of the bill, S2686, the Complete Streets Act of 2008, introduced a few weeks ago by Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Thomas Carper (D-DE). This is the first time that comprehensive complete streets bills have been introduced in the House and Senate.
Ex-aide criticises Bush over Iraq
Former White House spokesman Scott McClellan has said US President George W Bush was not "open and forthright" on Iraq and rushed to an unnecessary war.
ICE Detainees Lack Medical Care
Last week, Miss Sarajevo left a comment with a link to this series of articles in The Washington Post, and I’m just finally getting around to writing about it. The series, “Careless Detention,” is about the terrifying, unethical and downright inhumane medical treatment of immigrants imprisoned by ICE, generally while fighting or awaiting deportation for infractions that are usually non-violent and in fact so mild as to verge on the ridiculous. Since 9/11, Bush and his buddies have really stepped up anti-immigrant measures (which were already largely poor and in place), broadened definitions of who could be deported, increased raids and decided that those seeking asylum must do so while behind bars. Our government is imprisoning both documented and undocumented men and women (and though not mentioned in this series, also children), often without due process, and then, quite simply, killing them with medical neglect, or otherwise abusing/torturing them with inappropriate or an outright lack of medical treatment.
Children and the 'War on Terror'
Surely nothing that President Bush has done in his two wretched terms of office -- not the invasion and destruction of Iraq, not the overturning of the five-centuries-old tradition of habeas corpus, not his authorization and encouragement of torture, not his campaign of domestic spying -- nothing can compare in its ugliness as his approval, as commander in chief, of the imprisoning of over 2,500 children.
Native American Boarding Schools Continue to Haunt
For the government, it was a possible solution to the so-called Indian problem. For the tens of thousands of Indians who went to boarding schools, it's largely remembered as a time of abuse and desecration of culture. An Army officer, Richard Pratt, founded the first of these schools. He based it on an education program he had developed in an Indian prison. He described his philosophy in a speech he gave in 1892. "A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one," Pratt said. "In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man." A report in the late 1880s defended the early days of the schools. In the 1920s, a report concluded that children at federal boarding schools were malnourished, overworked, harshly punished and poorly educated. And in 1969, a report declared Indian education to be a national tragedy.
Powering Down the Patriot Act
There's a move afoot on Capitol Hill to rein in some of the vast powers conferred upon government investigators by the Patriot Act, the infamous, hastily crafted law written in response to the 9/11 attacks. New legislation has been introduced in both houses of Congress intended to curb the FBI's ability to collect private data on virtually anybody using a tool called a national security letter (NSL). The bills come in the wake of yet another damaging FBI inspector general report on the bureau's abuse of its expanded authorities.
Bush's Latest Villainous Nominee for a Lifetime Judgeship
In 2004, Estelle Richardson's lifeless and battered body was found on the floor of a Corrections Corporation of America prison cell. Four years later, that unsolved homicide has come back to haunt Republican stalwart "Gus" Puryear, the nation's top private prison litigator and Bush nominee for U.S. District Court.
Will Meijer get its own checkout lane for justice?
Meijer spent years and tens of thousands of dollars bullying local officials, suing them and generally making their lives hell because they dared to exercise local control in a zoning decision. In this case, justice demands more than a wrist-slap and a token fine. In an April 11 ruling, Circuit Court Judge Philip Rodgers in Traverse City said that retailer Meijer does not have to respond to subpoenas issued by Grand Traverse Prosecutor Alan Schneider. Schneider was seeking communications regarding Meijer's corporate-funded efforts to recall elected officials in Acme Township over a zoning issue for a store. Judge Rodgers said that the Michigan Campaign Finance Act gives exclusive jurisdiction of campaign finance violations to the Michigan Department of State, which administers elections.
Election 2008 : Secret Money Project
Remember the Swift Boat ad four years ago: the 60-second video that knee-capped Democratic presidential candidate and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry? That ad is the most powerful evidence yet of the shadow realm in American politics — a place where big donors legally give unrestricted sums, often with no public disclosure. This year we expect to see a record volume of Swift Boat-type messages on the air, in print and over the phone.
Michigan Needs Your Help
As the tax deadline looms today, Michigan families are standing in line to send our tax dollars to pay for the war in Iraq - with huge trade-offs here at home that hit our families, taxpayers and children hard. The Bush administration, John McCain and right-wing members of Congress, while claiming they are against taxes, are spending our tax dollars on Iraq with serious trade-offs here at home. A study by National Priorities Project shows Michigan taxpayers will pour $13.9 billion dollars into the Iraq War this year alone! That number is rising every day. It's time to call the war in Iraq what it is: a massive tax on American families, taxpayers and our children. Here in Michigan we have poured billions of dollars and many troops into President Bush's endless war. The Iraq war has entered its 6th year and surpassed the tragic milestone of 4,000 troop deaths, yet President Bush would keep our troops there indefinitely and U.S. Senator John McCain says he is "fine with" keeping our men and women in Iraq for 100 years. We urge you to go to http://progressmichigan.org/iraqtax and send a message that you want your tax dollars to be invested here at home on healthcare, schools, affordable housing and a strong future. Please stand up and fight the "Iraq tax."
Michigan doesn’t have a shortage of money, as Democrats argue. The state’s budget is $43 billion annually. Nor are its taxes too high, as Republicans assert. Michigan has a shortage of ideas, vision, and willingness to collaborate. So long as the state’s budget is devoted to building more roads not regional rapid transit, promoting farm products in the farm-killing global commodity markets, subsidizing sprawl in rural areas, selling state forests and other assets at bargain prices, and cutting funding to higher education in the knowledge economy, we all lose.
The Tibetion Monks Weren't Violent After All, but the Imposters Were
Britain's GCHQ, the government communications agency that electronically monitors half the world from space, has confirmed the claim by the Dalai Lama that agents of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, the PLA, posing as monks, triggered the riots that have left hundreds of Tibetans dead or injured. GCHQ analysts believe the decision was deliberately calculated by the Beijing leadership to provide an excuse to stamp out the simmering unrest in the region, which is already attracting unwelcome world attention in the run-up to the Olympic Games this summer. March 31st has been designated an international day of action by the International Tibet Support Network. Will you stand up that day, wherever you happen to be? And then continue, as long as the situation lasts.
How Lethally Stupid Can One Country Be?
Watching George W. Bush in operation these last couple of weeks is like having an out-of-body experience. On acid. During a nightmare. In a different galaxy. As he presides over the latest disaster of his administration (No, it's not a terrorist attack -- that was 2001! No, it's not a catastrophic war -- that was 2003! No, it's not a drowning city -- that was 2005! This one is an economic meltdown ... But let's give credit where credit is due. This is precisely by design. This is exactly the outcome intended by the greatest propaganda-promulgating regime since Hermann Göring set fire to the Reichstag. It was Göring himself who famously reminded us that, "Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. ...Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country." Sure worked in Germany. And it worked even better here...
Bush Administration Policy of Compulsory Ignorance
Today we are facing a full-fledged national crisis over the role of scientific information in public policy-making. It's a subtle crisis in some ways, often obscured by the complexities of scientific disputation. But it is a crisis nonetheless, one that threatens every one of us because it affects not only public health and the environment, but the way we treat knowledge itself in American society. Daniel Marsula, Post-Gazette Click illustration for larger version. Chris Mooney is the author of "The Republican War on Science," published this month by Basic Books. He is Washington correspondent for Seed Magazine. The crisis is a direct consequence of continuing, and well-documented, misuses and distortions of scientific information by the Bush administration, on issues ranging from global climate change to embryonic stem-cell research. The extensiveness of the administration's abuses, combined with the fact that it refuses to acknowledge or apologize for its offenses, leaves us with a deep conundrum
Virus from China the gift that keeps on giving
An insidious computer virus recently discovered on digital photo frames has been identified as a powerful new Trojan Horse from China that collects passwords for online games - and its designers might have larger targets in mind. "It is a nasty worm that has a great deal of intelligence," said Brian Grayek, who heads product development at Computer Associates, a security vendor that analyzed the Trojan Horse. The virus, which Computer Associates calls Mocmex, recognizes and blocks antivirus protection from more than 100 security vendors, as well as the security and firewall built into Microsoft Windows. It downloads files from remote locations and hides files, which it names randomly, on any PC it infects, making itself very difficult to remove. It spreads by hiding itself on photo frames and any other portable storage device that happens to be plugged into an infected PC. The authors of the new Trojan Horse are well-funded professionals whose malware has "specific designs to capture something and not leave traces," Grayek said. "This would be a nuclear bomb" of malware.
Michigan laser beam believed to set record for intensity
If you could hold a giant magnifying glass in space and focus all the sunlight shining toward Earth onto one grain of sand, that concentrated ray would approach the intensity of a new laser beam made in a University of Michigan laboratory. The record-setting beam measures 20 billion trillion watts per square centimeter. It contains 300 terawatts of power. That's 300 times the capacity of the entire U.S. electricity grid. The laser beam's power is concentrated to a 1.3-micron speck about 100th the diameter of a human hair. A human hair is about 100 microns wide.
Great Lakes advocates not pleased with Bush's spending plan
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (Map, News) - President Bush's proposed budget would shortchange efforts to clean up the Great Lakes and to keep problems such as sewage overflows and exotic species invasions from getting worse, critics said Wednesday. Federal spending for Great Lakes water quality programs would be slashed 16 percent from this year's total under the president's fiscal 2009 spending plan released this week, advocacy groups said.
Senate Rewards Millionaire Farmers, Again
The U.S. Senate, last week not only caved in to Republicans on the energy bill by jettisoning renewable energy requirements and restoring oil company subsidies, but also caved in to lobbyists on the farm bill by rejecting a proposal to limit subsidies to the richest of the rich. With the Senate's passage of the farm bill, as the Corpus-Christi Caller-Times put it, "Now the way is all but clear for the passage of a $286 billion farm bill that is again loaded with hundreds of millions of dollars for corporations and for millionaire farmers under the guise of helping small family farms stay afloat in tough times."
Top Ten Automotive Outrages of 2007
The American motorist gets blamed for many things, including urban sprawl, global warming, unsafe streets, drunken driving and conspicuous consumption. But it's not the motorist who makes airbags that don't work, SUVs that burst into flames, cars that leap violently forward for no reason or engines that spit out their spark plugs. Like air pollution and crowded highways, these problems aren't new and there's no sign they'll end anytime soon.
2008 forecasts: food at least 3% higher; gas up 10.7%
For cash-strapped consumers already beset by higher gasoline prices and escalating mortgage rates, the hits just keep on coming. This time, it's food. The sharp rise in food prices seen in 2007 is expected to be followed by another higher-than-normal jump next year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said last week. And 2008's punch will be to the breadbasket. Items made with wheat (breads and crackers) and soybean oil (cooking oil and fried foods) are expected to rise so much next year that they'll boost the cost of cooking at home by up to 4.5 percent — half a percentage point more than predicted just a month ago.
Where Anti-Immigrant Zealots Like Lou Dobbs Get Their "Facts"
The vast majority of these groups were founded or funded by John Tanton, a major architect of the contemporary nativist movement who, 20 years ago, was already warning of a destructive "Latin onslaught" heading to the United States. At the center of the Tanton web is the nonprofit Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the most important organization fueling the backlash against immigration. Founded by Tanton in 1979, FAIR has long been marked by anti-Latino and anti-Catholic attitudes. It has mixed this bigotry with a fondness for eugenics, the idea of breeding better humans discredited by its Nazi associations. It has accepted $1.2 million from an infamous, racist eugenics foundation. It has employed officials in key positions who are also members of white supremacist groups. Recently, it has promoted racist conspiracy theories about Mexico's secret designs on the American Southwest and an alternative theory alleging secret plans to merge the United States, Mexico and Canada. Just last February, FAIR President Dan Stein sought "advice" from the leaders of a racist Belgian political party. For decades, John Tanton has operated a nativist empire out of his U.S. Inc. foundation's headquarters in Petoskey, Mich. Even as he simultaneously runs his own hate group -- The Social Contract Press, listed for many years by the Southern Poverty Law Center because of its anti-Latino and white supremacist writings.
Born to Shop: How Marketers Brainwash Babies
Santa's shopping is in full swing. Peak season for what I consider child abuse, family abuse and democracy abuse -- marketing to children. I'm of the baby boomer generation. When I was a kid, there was Tony the Tiger hawking Frosted Flakes and little elves selling me cookies, but marketing to children was peanuts -- well, probably Cracker Jacks. Everything has changed, and changed gradually on such a scale that we are paying an enormous price -- in kids' physical, mental and emotional health, and in the health of our families and our democracy. From 1992 to 1997, the amount of money spent on marketing to children doubled, from $6.2 to $12.7 billion. Today they are spending over $15 billion.
The American Dream is Alive and Well ... in Finland!
New research suggests the United States' much-ballyhooed upward mobility is a myth, and one that's slipping further from reality with each new generation. On average, younger Americans are not doing better than their parents did, it's harder to move up the economic ladder in the United States than it is in a number of other wealthy countries, and a person in today's work force is as likely to experience downward mobility as he or she is to move up. Moreover, the single greatest predictor of how much an American will earn is how much their parents make. In short, the United States, contrary to popular belief, is not a true meritocracy, and the American worker is getting a bum deal, the worst of both worlds. Not only is a significant portion of the middle class hanging on by the narrowest of threads, not only do fewer working people have secure retirements to look forward to, not only are nearly one in seven Americans uninsured, but working people also enjoy less opportunity to pull themselves up by their bootstraps than those in a number of other advanced economies.
Meijer Gets SLAPPed back
It is unconscionable that Meijers is engaging in SLAPP Suit tactics. I am glad that Bill Boltres "SLAPPed" back. The SLAPP suit is a tactic traditionally used by the most brutal petrochemical corporations and the most rapacious developers to silence ordinary citizens' concerns and thwart the democratic process. Some one at Meijers made a very bad choice.
The crisis of industrial society may just be approaching a critical stage in the near future. This has had an interesting and welcome impact on discussions about the future. Concerns that have been exiled to the far reaches of our collective discourse for most of three decades now – resource depletion, atmospheric pollution, and the other consequences of the fatal mismatch between fantasies of infinite economic growth and the hard limits of a finite planet – have been thrust back into center stage by the press of events.
Humanity as your enemy -- or is it "the economy, stupid"?
We look around to see arguably lethal behavior by the average person. Most people drive cars unnecessarily, consume foods from great distance, and engage in other activities that serve to enrich powerful corporations that are a menace to the planet. We still do not see much attempt to restructure lifestyles ecologically and thus challenge the socioeconomic system. At this critical time in history can we argue that modern people are generally stupid? That they are your enemy? And that you may be your enemy too? Or, do we just blame the Bad Guys?
The End of America?
An interview with author Naomi Wolf, whose new book, "The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot," may confirm your worries about democracy in America.
Extended Warranty? Think Again
It's tempting to spend a few bucks more on an "extended warranty" when buying a major appliance or gadget. But look out! These service contracts -- they're not really warranties -- can wind up being worth less than the paper they're written on. The terms are complex, the loopholes are large and, in all too many cases, the retailer simply dreams up a reason not to make good on the deal.
Senate Takes a Stand on Media Ownership: Bipartisan legislation would put the brakes on FCC plan to gut media ownership limits
WASHINGTON -- At a Senate Commerce Committee hearing today, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) announced plans to introduce legislation that would halt the Federal Communications Commission's rush to gut longstanding media ownership rules. The bipartisan "Media Ownership Act of 2007" -- co-sponsored by Sens. Barack Obama (D-IL), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), John Kerry (D-MA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Diane Feinstein (D-CA) -- would direct the FCC to conduct a separate proceeding on localism and create an independent minority and female ownership task force before moving forward with any changes to media ownership limits. The bill would also give the public a 90-day comment period on any proposed rules.
Who’s Your Daddy Now?
As everyone knows, the Republican Party has spiraled into disrepute. A whopping 20 percent of Americans have swung from positive to negative on the GOP in just three years, leaving pretty much only hard-core partisans in the clubhouse/bunker. It’s Iraq, of course—but not just Iraq. The GOP’s remarkable success at presidential politics the past 40 years has been a function of its “daddy party” image—happy to exercise military power abroad, unaccommodating of misbehavior and hard-luck stories at home, penny-pinching, can-do— in contrast to the Democrats’ “mommy party” M.O. of naïveté, mollycoddling, and profligacy. And the Republicans’ only shot at electing a president next year really does depend on pushing that old trope. Ken Duberstein, the Reagan chief of staff turned lobbyist and board whore (Boeing, Fannie Mae, etc.), insisted the other day that “the Republican Party continues to be the ‘daddy party.’ ”
International Bad Products Award winners announced
Congress 2007: Consumers International (CI) today announced the winners of the International Bad Products Awards, as 400 delegates from national consumer organisations and governments convene in Sydney to attend CI’s World Congress. The awards aim to highlight failings of corporate responsibility and the abuse of consumer trust by internationally recognised brands. Coco-cola, Kellogg’s, and Mattel top the list of international brands guilty of abusing consumer rights, with Takeda Pharmaceuticals winning the overall prize for taking advantage of poor US regulation and advertising sleeping pills to children, despite health warnings about paediatric use.
So Much for Net Neutrality
Verizon and AT&T have spent a lot of time assuring Congress that there's no need for legislation guaranteeing neutrality in their provision of Internet services. "What? Us mess with the Internet?" telco tubbies have asked with mock horror. Indeed, the telcos have a long record of getting their way in Washington but even a Congressman might be aghast to see what happens when a FiOS subscriber types a non-existent URL into his Web browser.
Most People Are Clueless About Online Tracking
Every single move you make online can, and often is, tracked by online marketers and advertising networks that gather and use the information for serving up targeted advertisements. But the average American consumer is largely unaware that such tracking goes on, the extent to which it is happening or how exactly information is being used.
Borrowers Face Dubious Charges in Foreclosures
As record numbers of homeowners default on their mortgages, questionable practices among lenders are coming to light in bankruptcy courts, leading some legal specialists to contend that companies instigating foreclosures may be taking advantage of imperiled borrowers. Questionable practices by loan servicers appear to be enough of a problem that the Office of the United States Trustee, a division of the Justice Department that monitors the bankruptcy system, is getting involved. Last month, It announced plans to move against mortgage servicing companies that file false or inaccurate claims, assess unreasonable fees or fail to account properly for loan payments after a bankruptcy has been discharged.
A Short Guide to Debunking Common Creationist Claims
Religious fundamentalists who still espouse belief in a geocentric Universe are now met with ridicule and scorn; not due to discrimination but a lack of evidence for their cause. Unfortunately, the same can not be said about the 40-50% of Americans who, despite a near unanimous consensus among scientists, refuse to accept the theory of evolution. Ever since Darwin published The Origin of the Species in 1859, the idea of common descent has been hard for many religious individuals to swallow. The refusal to accept anything as truth that contradicts the Biblical account of creation has resulted in a massive war of misinformation waged by anti-evolutionists in our courts, schools, and places of worship.Operating under the banners of Creation Science and Intelligent Design, religious individuals have managed to confuse the public about evolution and its supporting evidence while sneaking theology into science classrooms. By educating ourselves about the truth behind evolution, we can put a stop to this degenerative sleight of hand.
Why PETA's unrealistic worldview is doing more harm than good
PETA has become the worst kind of “environmental” activist group – one whose decrees are blindly followed by its members without any attempt to understand basic ecology. As a result, more rationally-minded animal rights proponents and vegetarians have received a bad rap. Much of the general public now assumes that vegetarians are naïve treehuggers who simply can’t stomach devouring anything with eyes, and that animal rights activists run around willy-nilly pelting fur garments with paint. Such fallout has inspired the ire of fellow animal rights campaigners.
No email privacy rights under Constitution, US gov't claims
On October 8, 2007, the US Court of Appeals granted the government's request for a full-panel hearing in US v. Warshak, centering on the right of privacy for stored electronic communications. The position the US gov't is taking, if accepted, may mean that the government can read anybody's e-mail at any time without a warrant.
Climate wars threaten billions
A total of 46 nations and 2.7 billion people are now at high risk of being overwhelmed by armed conflict and war because of climate change. A further 56 countries face political destabilisation, affecting another 1.2 billion individuals. Conflict triggered by climate change is not a vague threat for coming years, he added. 'It is already upon us.'
Michigan leaders push U.S. for fix in St. Clair River
With no natural relief -- like more rain and snow -- on the horizon, three powerful Michigan politicians are prodding federal bureaucrats to dust off decades-old ideas about doing something unnatural to help restore water levels now at near-historic lows on Lakes Huron and Michigan. Gov. Jennifer Granholm and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, both Democrats, and U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, a Macomb County Republican, have asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to consider a quick fix at the head of the St. Clair River to stymie the flow out of Lake Huron and help shippers, boaters and wildlife suffering from low water levels.
Inch by Inch the Great Lakes Shrink
From his office at the port here, Jonathan Daniels stared at a watermark etched on the rocks that hug one of the commercial piers — a thick dark line several inches above the surface of Lake Ontario — and wondered how much lower the water would dip. Water levels in the Great Lakes are falling; Lake Ontario, for example, is about seven inches below where it was a year ago. And for every inch of water that the lakes lose, the ships that ferry bulk materials across them must lighten their loads by 270 tons — or 540,000 pounds — or risk running aground, according to the Lake Carriers’ Association, a trade group for United States-flag cargo companies. As a result, more ships are needed, adding millions of dollars to shipping companies’ operating costs, experts in maritime commerce estimate.
While Most of the Democrats in Washington Cower The Presidency Is Taking Over the Courts and Congress
It's way past time for members to stand up. Historic matters are at stake. The Constitution is being trampled, the very form of our government is being perverted, and nothing less than American democracy itself is endangered - a presidential coup is taking place. I think of Barbara Jordan, the late congresswoman from Houston. On July 25, 1974, this powerful thinker and member of the House Judiciary Committee took her turn to speak during the Nixon impeachment inquiry. "My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total," she declared in her thundering voice. "And I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction, of the Constitution." Where are the likes of Barbara Jordan in today's Congress? While the BushCheney regime continues to establish a supreme, arrogant, autocratic presidency in flagrant violation of the Constitution, members of Congress largely sit there as idle spectators - or worse, as abettors of Bush's usurpation of their own congressional authority.
Where is the National Guard (by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson)
The war in Iraq is a complete disaster and that we need to get our troops out now (www.getourtroopsout.com), I look at the natural disaster in California and feel compelled to also ask President Bush and every candidate who thinks it is okay for our troops to remain in Iraq until 2013 or longer - where is our National Guard? It is a sad irony that yesterday, the very day I sent fire crews to California, 300 more New Mexico National Guard members were sent to Iraq. Just when we need them most at home, more of our brave men and women, true public servants, are sent away to a war we cannot win.
Human race will 'split into two different species'
The human race will one day split into two separate species, an attractive, intelligent ruling elite and an underclass of dim-witted, ugly goblin-like creatures, according to a top scientist. 100,000 years into the future, sexual selection will mean that two distinct breeds of human will have developed. The alarming prediction comes from evolutionary theorist Oliver Curry from the London School of Economics, who says that the human race will have reached its physical peak by the year 3000.
American kids, dumber than dirt
We are, as far as urban public education is concerned, essentially at rock bottom. We are now at a point where we are essentially churning out ignorant teens who are becoming ignorant adults and society as a whole will pay dearly, very soon, and if you think the hordes of easily terrified, mindless fundamentalist evangelical Christian lemmings have been bad for the soul of this country, just wait. Notable is our teens' decreasing abilities when confronted with even the most basic intellectual tasks, from understanding simple history to working through moderately complex ideas to even (in a couple recent examples that particularly distressed him) being able to define the words "agriculture," or even "democracy." Not a single student could do it.
Bush wars to cost 40 times higher than original estimates
The United States is spending about $8,000 per man, woman and child in the country to pursue wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to new estimates that show the wars will cost about $2.4 trillion over the next decade. More than one-fourth of the money spent in Iraq and Afghanistan -- $705 billion -- will go to paying interest on the wars' costs, which are being funded with borrowed dollars, according to an estimate to be released Wednesday by the Congressional Budget Office. Iraq accounts for about 80 percent of the costs with a $1.9 trillion tab, including $564 million in interest, a House budget committee staff director told USA Today, which reported the numbers Wednesday morning.
Testifying Before Congress, Rendition Victim Maher Arar Gets Apology From Bi-Partisan Lawmakers but None From White House
A bi-partisan group of Congressmembers have personally apologized to Maher Arar, the Canadian citizen seized by U.S. officials secretly flown to Syria where he was tortured. Arar testified last week before a House panel, the first time he has had a chance to tell his story to U.S. lawmakers. But he couldn’t testify in person. Even though the Canadian government has cleared his name, Arar remains barred from the U.S. because the Bush administration says he poses a national security threat.Testifying Before Congress, Rendition Victim Maher Arar Gets Apology From Bi-Partisan Lawmakers but None From White House A bi-partisan group of Congressmembers have personally apologized to Maher Arar, the Canadian citizen seized by U.S. officials secretly flown to Syria where he was tortured. Arar testified last week before a House panel, the first time he has had a chance to tell his story to U.S. lawmakers. But he couldn’t testify in person. Even though the Canadian government has cleared his name, Arar remains barred from the U.S. because the Bush administration says he poses a national security threat.
Did I uncover your credit card details on the web today!?
Today I accidentally uncovered a huge list of people’s names, addresses and credit card details online. No kidding. Credit Cards I found more than that: login details to people’s web hosting accounts and e-commerce site memberships as well. It was really freaky to think it was all just staring at me, thanks to a flukey Google search. Nothing more complicated than that. (And no, don’t email me for the search details!)
America's Armageddonites Push for More War
Utopian fantasies have long transfixed the human race. Yet today a much rarer fantasy has become popular in the United States. Millions of Americans, the richest people in history, have a death wish. They are the new "Armageddonites," fundamentalist evangelicals who have moved from forecasting Armageddon to actually trying to bring it about.
In millions of Windows, the perfect Storm is gathering
A spectre is haunting the net but, outside of techie circles, nobody seems to be talking about it. The threat it represents to our security and wellbeing may be less dramatic than anything posed by global terrorism, but it has the potential to wreak much more havoc. And so far, nobody has come up with a good idea on how to counter it. It's called the Storm worm.
Bill would let ID theft victims seek restitution
A bipartisan bill that would let victims of identity theft seek restitution for money and time they spent repairing their credit history was introduced on Tuesday in the Senate. The legislation would also give federal prosecutors more tools to combat identity theft and cybercrime, according to sponsors Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Republican Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.
Bush 'planted fake news stories on American TV'
Federal authorities are actively investigating dozens of American television stations for broadcasting items produced by the Bush administration and major corporations, and passing them off as normal news. Some of the fake news segments talked up success in the war in Iraq, or promoted the companies' products. Investigators from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are seeking information about stations across the country after a report produced by a campaign group detailed the extraordinary extent of the use of such items.
Americans Flunk Self-Assessment
Research has shown that Americans are bad at assessing their performance and skills. Apparently, part of our national character — optimism — keeps us from interpreting feedback accurately. And our overconfidence results in errors that are sometimes critical.
Tax breaks for big industry are hurting homeowners
How would like your tax bill to drop by 51 percent in one year? That’s what happened to the major industrial firms of north Lake County, Indiana in 2003. U.S. Steel, Ispat Inland Group, International Steel Group and BP Products North America collectively paid $59.4 million less in 2003 than they did in 2002 as a result of special legislation, HB 1858. The tax break was part of a series of events that continues to cause financial trauma to the homeowners of northwest Indiana. Andrew and Dado Rothenberg are homeowners in Whiting, Indiana, where BP’s refinery has been located since John D. Rockefeller built it in 1889. Their property tax bill has skyrocketed along with that of thousands of other residents of north Lake County, which hugs Lake Michigan about 48 miles east of Chicago. The young couple experienced a 1,200 percent increase in their property tax bill.
Hard to Break
My moment of plastic panic came a few months ago. As a science writer, I've spent the past several years following the steady stream of research into the disturbing effects of the chemicals that leach into our bodies from everyday plastic objects. I'd managed to stay pretty calm about these unsettling discoveries, but then I went to yet another presentation where renowned scientists described new, peer-reviewed findings on how plastic's ingredients may cause reproductive abnormalities and obesity. Afterward, I huddled with the other journalists present, brimming with uneasy questions: Does this mean we should ditch our refillable plastic water bottles? Is it safe for our kids to chew on plastic toys? Should we try to go completely plastic free? "Today there are no babies born without measurable levels of phthalates," says Dr. Shanna Swan, director of the Center for Reproductive Epidemiology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Phthalates, which are used to give flexibility to pvc (a.k.a. Recycler Image 3 plastic—though it's rarely labeled), turn up in bath and teething toys, shower curtains, upholstery, flooring, medical equipment, and countless other products, including cosmetics. Animal studies have linked phthalates to the same genital abnormalities that are now among the most common birth defects in American baby boys. "We're not yet sure what level of exposure produces these adverse effects, but they are a real concern," explains Dr. Paul Foster, a senior researcher at the National Toxicology Program.
How Hospitals Systematically Harm People
The minute you're admitted into the hospital, you confront a disturbing paradox: Most hospitals aren't particularly healthy places. As a patient, you're likely to encounter toxic chemicals, eat lousy food, breathe unhealthy air and suffer stress triggered by an often-dismal and alienating environment. Even worse, you may find yourself at the mercy of drug-resistant "super bugs" or overworked staff members who make mistakes -- all in a place that's supposed to help you heal. It's enough to make you sick. And sometimes it does. In the U.S. alone, an estimated 2 million people a year contract infections in hospitals, and nearly 100,000 are expected to die from them this year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although such statistics are deeply troubling, hospitals around the world also contribute to a subtler but equally insidious threat: They expose patients and staff to a host of substances and practises that can harm their health.
Random Tax Audits Return to the IRS
The Internal Revenue Service began this month selecting thousands of taxpayers for audits — even though the IRS has no reason to think they've underpaid their taxes. It's part of the IRS' National Research Program.
America's $42 Billion Annual Boondoggle
What would you buy if you had an extra $42 billion to spend every year? What might our government buy if it suddenly had that much money dropped onto its lap every year? What else could we spend $42 billion each year on? Health insurance for kids? Better paid teachers? It's our choice.
Michigan companies lack women execs
Women have made few strides at the executive level and in boardrooms compared with their male counterparts at Michigan's largest public companies, according to a report expected to be released today. The 2007 Michigan Women's Leadership Index, first published in 2003, looks at the presence of female leaders at 100 corporations headquartered in the state.
Christianist Mercenaries, Michigan, and You
His name is Erik Prince, and he is the founder and CEO of a mercenary army that is receiving hundreds of millions of our tax dollars. His late father, Edgar, founded the anti-gay Family Research Council. His mother, Elsa Prince, gives lavish amounts of money to the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, and the Council for National Policy, an organization that wants to re-write our Constitution to make the United States one nation under their idea of God. Oh, and by the way - his brother-in-law, Dick DeVos, is a former and probably future candidate for Governor of the state of Michigan. In other words, these people are all right-wing religious extremists who want to criminalize our sexual orientations and gender identities. And not only do they have money and major ties to the White House, they also have access to a lot of automatic weapons. Scared yet?
Bush, Michigan, and Blackwater
When Blackwater contractors guarding a U.S. State Department convoy allegedly killed 11 unarmed Iraqi civilians on Sept. 16, it was only the latest in a series of controversial shooting incidents associated with the private security firm. Blackwater has a reputation for being quick on the draw. Since 2005, the North Carolina-based company, which has about 1,000 contractors in Iraq, has reported 195 "escalation of force incidents"; in 156 of those cases Blackwater guns fired first.
My Problem with Christianism
The number of Christians misrepresented by the Christian right is many. There are evangelical Protestants who believe strongly that Christianity should not get too close to the corrupting allure of government power. There are lay Catholics who, while personally devout, are socially liberal on issues like contraception, gay rights, women's equality and a multi-faith society. There are very orthodox believers who nonetheless respect the freedom and conscience of others as part of their core understanding of what being a Christian is. They have no problem living next to an atheist or a gay couple or a single mother or people whose views on the meaning of life are utterly alien to them--and respecting their neighbors' choices.
Shakey Jake dies Sunday at the age of 82
Ann Arbor street legend "Shakey Jake" died Sunday at the age of 82. Ann Arbor News file photoShakey Jake Woods was a familiar sight around downtown Ann Arbor. Known around town for his trademark three-piece suit, hat and dark sunglasses, the man known simply as "Shakey Jake" could be seen playing his guitar on the street downtown for as long as many can remember.
The Total Perspective Vortex
Most people think of the "mentally disordered" as a delusional lot, holding bizarre and irrational ideas about themselves and the world around them. Isn’t a mental disorder, after all, an impairment or a distortion in thought or perception? This is what we tend to think, and for most of modern psychology's history, the experts have agreed; realistic perceptions have been considered essential to good mental health. More recently, however, research has arisen that challenges this common-sense notion. In 1988, psychologists Shelly Taylor and Jonathon Brown published an article making the somewhat disturbing claim that positive self-deception is a normal and beneficial part of most people’s everyday outlook. They suggested that average people hold cognitive biases in three key areas: a) viewing themselves in unrealistically positive terms; b) believing they have more control over their environment than they actually do; and c) holding views about the future that are more positive than the evidence can justify. The typical person, it seems, depends on these happy delusions for the self-esteem needed to function through a normal day. It’s when the fantasies start to unravel that problems arise.
UN General Assembly backs indigenous peoples' rights
The UN General Assembly on Thursday adopted a non-binding declaration protecting the human, land and resources rights of the world's 370 million indigenous people, despite opposition from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.
Labor Day: Travails of the Super-Rich
Just in time for the holiday, two liberal groups–United for a Fair Economy and the Institute for Policy Studies–have issued a gleefully malicious new attack on our CEO class. They point out that the CEOs of large companies earn an average of $10.8 million a year, which is 362 times as much as the average American worker, and retire with $10.1 million in their exclusive pension funds. The groups further point out that the compensation of US CEOs wildly exceeds that of their European counterparts, who, we are invited to believe, work equally hard.
Mexico's President Proves His Critics Wrong
Mexican President Felipe Calderon is giving his first State of the Union address Saturday night — and what a difference a year makes. Coming into his presidency, it looked as though Calderon would be a lame duck. There was a divided electorate, an opposition figure in Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador — who refused to concede defeat — and a country that seemed beset with insolvable problems, such as a raging drug war. But now, even his critics say Calderon has been governing with a deft touch.
Fighting Fire With Fire? New Weapons Sales and Military Aid Will Not Bring Peace and Stability to the Middle East
The Bush administration’s recent announcement of tens of billions in new high-tech weapons and military aid for Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Gulf States was offered as the solution to many of the problems facing the region. But, critical and worthy goals like stability in Iraq, a nuclear-free Iran and peace in the Middle East cannot be achieved through the barrel of a gun, the point of a precision missile or the belly of a fighter plane. The policy amounts to fighting fire with fire– introducing more weapons into a highly volatile and militarized region in the name of peace. The announcement also shows a grim determination to ignore the lessons of history. Colombia, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, Iraq in the 1980s, the Afghan mujahedeen in the 1970s-in each of these instances U.S. weapons, military aid and training have undermined security, been used against civilian populations, absorbed resources better devoted to human development and sowed the seeds of future conflicts. The Bush administration is making a grave mistake, and Congress must use its power to block these weapons transfers.
Ignoring science: Not just for Republicans anymore!
Newt Gingrich, claiming a mandate to make government smaller, actually managed to abolish only two offices: the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA). The OTA was a widely praised, nonpartisan board that helped Congress understand and deal with technical issues -- exactly the kind of office you don't need if you get your understanding of biology from Genesis, your thoughts on telecommunications from K Street, and your opinions on energy from Exxon. The OTA was probably one of the least-known but best performing offices in all of D.C. Oddly, Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan just killed the Michigan Environmental Science Board, which was composed of volunteer scientists appointed by the Governor. The only cost to the state was for member travel when on assignment, and for preparation and distribution of reports.
Model T takes on a HUMMER in hill climb
It wasn't a fair fight at all, but for funsies, a vintage-car hill-climb allowed Forbes Magazine to enter a late model HUMMER H2. You know, just to see how the 316-hp, 4WD SUV would do against, say, a 100-hp 1921 Model T driven by a 70-year-old man. Like we said, it wasn't fair at all.
Farm Bill Favors Big Business Over Family Farms
If the bill becomes law, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says the cap will affect just 3,100 farmers, assuming they do not use accounting tactics to reduce their taxable income. Actual payments to farmers would rise over the five years authorized by the bill. The bill is over budget, so Democratic leaders propose a $4 billion tax increase on U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies to pay for it. "When you say to the biggest farms in the country, 'The bigger you get, the more money you get from the government,' then the farm program effectively subsidizes the destruction of family farming," said Chuck Hassebrook, executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs in Nebraska. "Most people in rural America think that is bad policy." Environmentalists have taken aim at farm subsidies this year because the farm programs are where the money -- and the land -- is.
Latest Bush Executive Order Kills Your 5th Amendment Right to Own Property
If you own a business, this concerns you. Whether you own it as a sole proprietorship, as a sole shareholder, or even as a partial shareholder of a corporation, you stand to lose all of it if the Secretary thinks you may commit an "act of violence" that may disrupt the war (or peace) effort in Iraq. Naturally, "act of violence" is not defined anywhere in this order. Once this becomes law, he has all the tools Hitler and Stalin had to keep their respective populations in utter subjection to their will. The executive order states in Section 1(a) that “all property and interests in property” of “any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of - blah, blah, blah (followed by a laundry list of “purposes or effects”).
Ex-surgeon general faults White House
President Bush's first surgeon general testified Tuesday that his speeches were censored to match administration political positions and that he was prevented from giving the public accurate scientific information on issues such as stem cell research and teen pregnancy prevention. "Anything that doesn't fit into the political appointees' ideological, theological or political agenda is ignored, marginalized or simply buried," Dr. Richard H. Carmona, who was surgeon general from 2002 to 2006, told a congressional committee. "The job of surgeon general is to be the doctor of the nation — not the doctor of a political party."
Office smoking hits non-smokers hard
Working in an environment where smoking is allowed is especially harmful for non-smokers, as they immediately absorb a potent carcinogen that is not considered safe at any level, a study has found. The study was carried out by researchers at the Multnomah County Health Department and Oregon Department of Human Services who found that non-smoking workers have elevated levels of the carcinogen NNK, which is found in the body only as a result of using tobacco or breathing secondhand smoke. They also found that levels of NNK, which is known to cause lung cancer, increased by 6 percent for each hour of work.
Poll Finds That Young Americans Are Leaning Left
Young Americans are more likely to favor an open-door policy on immigration, the legalization of gay marriage and government-run health care, a poll found. More than half of Americans ages 17 to 29 — 54 percent — say they intend to vote for a Democrat for president in 2008. They share with the public at large a negative view of President Bush, who has a 28 percent approval rating with this group, and of the Republican Party. They hold a markedly more positive view of Democrats than they do of Republicans.
Bush Government to Poor Voters: We Don't Want You to Vote
State welfare offices across the country are not offering millions of low-income Americans the opportunity to register to vote when applying for public assistance despite a federal law requiring them to do so, according to an analysis of a recent federal voting registration report and experts who say the Department of Justice and states are to blame.
How to Stop Our Political and Economic Systems From Stealing Our Future
Paul Hawken has spent over a decade researching organizations dedicated to restoring the environment and fostering social justice. From multimillion-dollar nonprofits to single-person dot.causes, these groups collectively comprise a movement that has no name, no leader, no location, and that has gone largely ignored by politicians and the media. Like nature itself, it is organizing from the bottom up. Hawken's new book, Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming, explores the diversity of the movement, its ideas, strategies and hidden history.
Whites Just Don't Understand the Black Experience
White Americans seem to fully appreciate the costs associated with the kinds of disparities that African Americans actually face in the United States," Mazzocco says. "Our data suggest that such resistance is not because white Americans are mean and uncaring, morally bankrupt or ethically flawed," adds Dr. Mahzarin R. Banaji, a professor of social ethics at Harvard University. "White Americans suffer from a glaring ignorance about what it means to live as a black American."
CIA Acknowledges Years of Assassination Plots, Coerced Drug Tests and Domestic Spying
The CIA has released its so-called "family jewels" -- nearly 700 pages of documents detailing some if its most infamous and illegal operations dating back to the 1950s. These include assassination plots against foreign leaders, drugs tests on unwitting citizens, wiretapping of U.S. journalists, spying on activists, opening mail, break-ins at the homes of ex-CIA employees and more.
Why Do We Pay Our Plumbers More Than Our Caregivers?
Surely leaky pipes aren't more important than our children. Yet, in America, most plumbers make five times what caregivers do. Author Riane Eisler shows how our economic system, rooted in gender inequality, is failing us. Why does the stock market rally when workers are laid off? Why are working people consistently losing ground? Why do so many women and children live in poverty? Why is the average age of a homeless person in the United States 9 years old? Why are so many seniors forgotten? Why don't we plan ahead or invest well when it comes to things like the environment, education or healthcare? Can the answer be that our economic signals are out of whack with reality?
Finally, the Neocons Are Sinking
As the George W. Bush administration struggles through its last two years in office, it appears that the agenda of neoconservative ideologues has finally lost its appeal among strategic parts of the U.S. foreign policy apparatus. But as their influence has waned at the Pentagon and State Department, neo-conservative hawks have taken charge on the battlefield of public diplomacy. Intent on fixing what American Enterprise Institute (AEI) fellow Joshua Muravchik termed Bush's "public diplomacy mess," right-wing hawks have gained control of the weapons in the "war of ideas" -- U.S. government-funded and supported media outlets such as Voice of America (VOA), Al-Hurra, and Radio Farda, which broadcast to the Middle East and aim to offer an alternative view of the news. The recent appointment of Jeffrey Gedmin, a veteran neo-conservative polemicist, as the director of Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty (RFE), and a smear campaign that led to the recent resignation of Larry Register, Al-Hurra's former news director, appears to herald a turn towards more ideologically rigid programming. As a result, viewers and listeners of U.S.-supported media in the Middle East are being exposed to a tougher ideological line that endorses the hallmarks of the neoconservative agenda -- regime change and interventionist policies in the region.
Fair and Balanced? My Ass!
Those of us who watch Fox News professionally, or simply to unwind at the end of the day with a few well-earned belly laughs, dismiss the network at our own peril. While there may be a considerable measure of Schadenfreude involved in tuning in to, say, The O'Reilly Factor, it's hard to overlook the fact that he influences millions of people nearly every day. Indeed, watching Fox can be a little like watching Jeopardy! During kids' week. Even if you know more than they do -- and you probably will -- it's hard to feel good about yourself for the experience. But it's not like the leading lights at Fox actually enjoy turning America into a nation of fatuous morons. If they could accomplish the same goals by not making their viewers morons, they'd probably do so, just as the tobacco companies would probably prefer their products didn't cause cancer, and Ann Coulter probably wishes the sound of her voice didn't make young men's and small animals' testicles shrivel. But none of that is going to stop any of them from making their money and spreading their propaganda.
New Thoughts On 'curing' Gays
Alan Chambers directs Exodus International, widely described as the nation's largest ex-gay ministry. But when he addresses the group's Freedom Conference at Concordia University in Irvine this month, Chambers won't celebrate successful "ex-gays." Truth is, he's not sure he's ever met one. Despite the fundamental gulf that divides them, gay-rights activists and those who see homosexuality as a sinful disorder are starting to reach agreement on some practical points. Chambers and other Exodus leaders talk deliberately about a possible biological basis for homosexuality, in part to explain that no one can turn a switch and flip from gay to straight, no matter how hard they pray.
That's So Gay
If sexual orientation is biological, are the traits that make people seem gay innate, too? The new research on everything from voice pitch to hair whorl.
Conservative Christian Reserves Right to Preach Gay Bashing
Running around like a chicken with its head cut off, the American Family Association's Don Wildmon is out to prove that America's most high profile religious voices are as archaic, bigoted and dumbed-down as "the new atheists" preach they are. Wildmon recently sent an ominous warning to supporters that "A bill in Congress makes it a crime for pastors and churches to speak against homosexuality," claiming that the new Hate Crime bill, which extends protection to the LGBT community, actually threatens free speech. Err, not exactly. What H.R. 1592 DOES say is that if you bash a gay or transgendered person -- that is, if you physically assault them -- you are subject to a particular kind of prosecution because of the nature of the crime. In fact, while it should say that when a religious figure's expressed antipathy toward anyone in the LGBT community (or Muslims or women or anyone) can be directly tied to a violent crime, they can be held accountable -- but it doesn't. It just says that if you cause bodily harm you're in trouble. Who could oppose that?
Where Have All the Emails Gone?
This will sound naive, for sure, but why isn't anyone talking about sending someone to jail for breaking the law? Yeah, I know Richard said it first, but it can't be said often enough. 88 people in the White House used the RNC and the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign email systems in order to hide what they were doing and circumvent the law. And you can bet that nobody will take responsibility in this White House.
New Report Shows Bush's Presidential Signing Statements Have Been Used to Nullify Laws
Well, it's official: President Bush doesn't much respect the laws Congress passes. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report -- commissioned by Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and released today -- confirms that Bush's use of presidential signing statements are, in fact, utterly without precedent. Though they've been used by American presidents for about 200 years, signing statements -- edicts issued by the president to declare his intent to construe a provision within a law differently than Congress does -- are Constitutionally questionable. But George W. Bush's use of them far exceeds his predecessors', both in number and in severity, and he has consistently used them to flout the will of the legislative branch.
30 Days of Consumer Celibacy
While many people will spend countless hours this year lining up at Wal-Mart and maxing out their credit cards at Nordstrom, a small Bay Area group has declared it will do just the opposite. About 50 teachers, engineers, executives and other professionals in the Bay Area have made a vow to not buy anything new in 2006 -- except food, health and safety items and underwear. "We're people for whom recycling is no longer enough," said one of the members of the fledgling movement, John Perry, who works in marketing at a high-tech company. "We're trying to get off the first-market consumerism grid, because consumer culture is destroying the world." The Compact is part of the larger trend of consumers beginning to "tread gently on our planet." JOIN THE COMPACT
How victim snared ID thief
She chased down woman who had given her 6 months of hell. If it hadn't been for the distinctive suede coat, there would have been no chase through the streets of San Francisco, no heroine and, in all likelihood, no justice. But when Karen Lodrick turned away from ordering her latte at the Starbucks at Church and Market streets, there it was, slung over the arm of the woman behind her.
America: Oh, Now I Get It ... Dah
Finally, the great American disconnect may be ending. Only four years after the invasion of Iraq, the crucial facts-on-the-ground might finally be coming into sight in this country -- not the carnage or the mayhem; not the suicide car bombs or the chlorine truck bombs; not the massive flight of middle-class professionals, the assassination campaign against academics, or the collapse of the best health-care service in the region; not the spiking American and Iraqi casualties, the lack of electricity, the growth of Shia militias, the crumbling of the "coalition of the willing," or the uprooting of 15 percent or more of Iraq's population; not even the sharp increase in fundamentalism and extremism, the rise of al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the swelling of sectarian killings, or the inability of the Iraqi government to get oil out of the ground or an oil law, designed in Washington and meant to turn the clock back decades in the Middle East, passed inside Baghdad's fortified Green Zone -- No, none of that. What's finally coming into view is just what George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, the top officials of their administration, the civilian leadership at the Pentagon, and their neocon followers had in mind when they invaded and occupied Iraq in 2003.
Department of Weird Weapons: The Gay Bomb
Edward Hammond, of the University of California's Sunshine Project, obtained through a FOIA request Pentagon documents that indicated the military had, in 1994, investigated building a "gay bomb." The bomb would release a strong aphrodisiac that would cause the enemy army to become "irresistibly attracted to one another." You gotta give the military points for consistency: They clearly believe, World War II notwithstanding, that homosexuals in the ranks make the military ineffective. The proposal also indicates that conservatives are willing to act on their belief, notwithstanding the dismal success rates of the ex-gay movement, that sexual orientation is not at all innate. But the $7.5-million proposal's creepiness rating is extremely high. Not to mention the implication that being gay or lesbian is the biggest insult an army can bestow on its enemy—that it essentially equals destroying them—is deeply offensive to gays and lesbians, particularly those who've served with honor and distinction.
The Rich Are Making the Poor Poorer
Twenty years ago it was risky to point out the growing inequality in America. I did it in a New York Times essay and was quickly denounced, in the Washington Times, as a "Marxist." Twenty years ago it was risky to point out the growing inequality in America. I did it in a New York Times essay and was quickly denounced, in the Washington Times, as a "Marxist." If only. I've never been able to get through more than a couple of pages of Das Kapital, even in English, and the Grundrisse functions like Rozerem. But it no longer takes a Marxist, real or alleged, to see that America is being polarized between the super-rich and the sub-rich everyone else. In Sunday's New York Times magazine we learn that Larry Summers, the centrist Democratic economist and former Harvard president, is now obsessed with the statistic that, since 1979, the share of pretax income going to the top 1 percent of American households has risen by 7 percentage points, to 16 percent. At the same time, the share of income going to the bottom 80 percent has fallen by 7 percentage points.
The Bush Team Plan to Erode Our Liberties
Understanding the significance of this week's ruling means delving into a bit of procedural arcana. The devil in the MCA is, almost literally, in the details -- and unless we attend closely to the rococo details of the statute, we'll miss the ways in which the Administration intends to slowly erode our liberties. The Military Commissions Act threatens more than terror suspects at Gitmo. It is the spearhead of a long-term incursion on all our civil liberties and it must be rolled back.
Patrick Moore the Goto Corporate Greenwash Guy
Moore is a supporter of nuclear power. He is also an advocate for clear-cutting forests, genetically modified foods and a wide range of other corporate eco-assaults. The companies behind them fund Moore's "consulting" agency, which appears to specialize in greenwashing. Moore's mission also seems to include tagging the Greenpeace name onto things Greenpeace opposes. As a voting member of Greenpeace USA, my e-mail box is often filled with contemptuous messages about Moore's latest outrage, and anger about his claim to be a Greenpeace founder. Many advocate ignoring him. I'm not of that faith.
Whoops: Judges Say US Can’t Hold Man as ‘Combatant’
The federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., ruled yesterday that the president may not declare civilians in this country to be “enemy combatants” and have the military hold them indefinitely. The ruling was a stinging rejection of one of the Bush administration’s central assertions about the scope of executive authority to combat terrorism. The court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, said a fundamental principle is at stake: military detention of someone who had lawfully entered the United States and established connections here, it said, violates the Constitution. “To sanction such presidential authority to order the military to seize and indefinitely detain civilians,” Judge Motz wrote, “even if the president calls them ‘enemy combatants,’ would have disastrous consequences for the Constitution — and the country.” For his first 16 months in the brig, Mr. Marri was allowed no contact with his family or lawyers. He was, a lawsuit filed on his behalf in 2005 said, denied basic necessities and subjected to extreme sensory deprivation. Interrogators threatened to send him to Egypt or Saudi Arabia, the lawsuit said, “where, they told him, he would be tortured and sodomized and where his wife would be raped in front of him.” Under the administration’s theory, Mr. Hafetz said, “the executive could effectively disappear people by picking up any immigrant in this country, locking them in a military jail and holding the keys to the courthouse. This is exactly what separates a country that is democratic and committed to the rule of law from a country that [Mr. George Bush] is a police state.”
Making Other Arrangements
As the American public continues sleepwalking into a future of energy scarcity, climate change, and geopolitical turmoil, we have also continued dreaming. Our collective dream is one of those super-vivid ones people have just before awakening. It is a particularly American dream on a particularly American theme: how to keep all the cars running by some other means than gasoline. We’ll run them on ethanol! We’ll run them on biodiesel, on synthesized coal liquids, on hydrogen, on methane gas, on electricity, on used French-fry oil . . . !
Bush in Fantasyland
Last month’s failed missile defense test was categorized as a “No Test” by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). The target missile didn’t fly into range of the interceptor so it was never launched. Even though it was deemed a “No Test” by the MDA, an agency spokesman nevertheless claimed that the results of “the failed test underscored the need of the US to install 10 interceptors in Poland and a tracking radar station in the Czech Republic as a defense against potential missile attack from Iran…. It showed that any missiles that Iran launched could similarly go astray and land in Europe even if Europe was not Iran’s target.” Huh? Welcome to what Joseph Cirincione - senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and author of the new book, Bomb Scare - calls, “This week’s episode of President Bush in Fantasyland.” “President Bush is rushing to deploy a technology that does not work against a threat that does not exist,” Cirincione says. “Iran is at least 5 to 10 years away from the capability to build a nuclear weapon and at least that far from having a missile that could hit Europe let alone the US. And anti-missile systems are still nowhere near working despite $150 billion spent since the 1983 Star Wars program started and years of phony tests staged to demonstrate ‘progress’ and ‘success.’” None of this has stopped Bush from continuing to tout his Czech Republic and Poland-based “proposed missile defense system designed to thwart a possible nuclear attack from Iran.” The mayor of the Czech village of Trokavec where the radar site would be located recently held a referendum and 71 of 72 votes were cast against the plan. Cirincione says. “President Bush so fervently believes in something that doesn’t exist that he jeopardizes - again - our real security interests. The fact is the Czechs don’t want the radar, the Europeans don’t trust his explanations and deplore his unilateralism, the Congress has already cut the funds on purely programmatic grounds. This was a dumb idea before, now it is yet another foreign policy disaster.” All of this for a system Cirincione says isn’t important to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who view these programs as “expensive pet rocks.”
The Great American Disconnect
Finally, the great American disconnect may be ending. Only four years after the invasion of Iraq, the crucial facts-on-the-ground might finally be coming into sight in this country — not the carnage or the mayhem; not the suicide car bombs or the chlorine truck bombs; not the massive flight of middle-class professionals, the assassination campaign against academics, or the collapse of the best health-care service in the region; not the spiking American and Iraqi casualties, the lack of electricity, the growth of Shia militias, the crumbling of the “coalition of the willing,” or the uprooting of 15% or more of Iraq’s population; not even the sharp increase in fundamentalism and extremism, the rise of al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the swelling of sectarian killings, or the inability of the Iraqi government to get oil out of the ground or an oil law, designed in Washington and meant to turn the clock back decades in the Middle East, passed inside Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone — no, none of that. What’s finally coming into view is just what George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, the top officials of their administration, the civilian leadership at the Pentagon, and their neocon followers had in mind when they invaded and occupied Iraq in 2003.
Mommies Opting Out of Work: A Myth That Won't Die
In recent years the media has obsessed over a storyline about highly educated mothers "opting out" of employment. These stories are not only wrong -- the reality is that there is no increase in recent years in women, even women with advanced degrees, choosing to be stay-at-home mothers over working mothers -- they also imply that most mothers have a choice to work or not. This couldn't be further from the truth. Wives typically bring home a third of their family's income and single mothers often have no option but to work. While the choices of professional upper-class women might be interesting to read about, they certainly are not representative of the economic reality facing the majority of families.
Confirmed: CIA Ran Secret Prisons
Romanian and Polish senior security officials confirmed to the Council of Europe that their countries were used as homes to CIA secret prisons. Poland and Romania continue to deny hosting these prisons.
The United States, Not Very Peaceful
BBC reported last week that the United States ranks 96th, out of 121 countries, on the Global Peace Index, a list determining the peacefulness of each country. (121 being the least peaceful.)
War Czar Questions War
Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute reconfirms the fact that it is politicians, and not military men, who scream "Support the troops!" as a political attack against their enemies. When asked about the debate over the Iraq War that has consumed Washington and the nation, Lute said at his confirmation hearing today, "I don't believe it undercuts [the troop's] morale." The troops "understand the democratic process," he said, "and, in fact, that's what we've sworn to protect and defend." The dark lord , Dick Cheney, said that questioning the war is "detrimental to our troops." I suggest the vice president fact-check that with his generals, his Secretary of Defense, or any one of the troops fighting on the ground.
Is It Anti-Americanism or Just Anti-Bushism?
“In Papua New Guinea,” a woman said to my wife when we were in that country recently, “we used to look up to the United States, see it as our father, our model. Now we are afraid of the United States. What has happened is very sad.”As Americans who have been living abroad for the past four months, we could not help but agree that what has happened to our nation’s image around the world is indeed very sad. But while America’s reputation in the world has suffered great harm in recent years, the damage is not irreparable. Although most Americans would probably agree that world opinion of the United States is low, our travels abroad have revealed that this is not entirely accurate. In fact, it is not truly anti-Americanism but anti-Bushism that has gripped the world - and this is an illness that time can cure. The fact is, Mr. Bush took, in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 2001, the greatest worldwide outpouring of good will the United States has enjoyed at least since World War II and squandered it by pursuing a foolish invasion of Iraq, ignoring international organizations and world opinion, and declaring that it is the right of the United States to engage in pre-emptive war and invade any country it wishes to.
What If Our Mercenaries Turn On Us?
Armed units from the private security firm Blackwater USA opened fire in Baghdad streets twice in two days last week. It triggered a standoff between the security contractors and Iraqi forces, a reminder that the war in Iraq may be remembered mostly in our history books for empowering and building America’s first modern mercenary army.There are an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 armed security contractors working in Iraq, although there are no official figures and some estimates run much higher. Security contractors are not counted as part of the coalition forces. When the number of private mercenary fighters is added to other civilian military “contractors” who carry out logistical support activities such as food preparation, the number rises to about 126,000. “We got 126,000 contractors over there, some of them making more than the secretary of defense,” said House defense appropriations subcommittee Chairman John Murtha (D., Pa.). “How in the hell do you justify that?” Mercenary forces like Blackwater operate beyond civilian and military law. They are covered by a 2004 edict passed by American occupation authorities in Iraq that immunizes all civilian contractors in Iraq from prosecution. Blackwater, barely a decade old, has migrated from Iraq to set up operations in the United States and nine other countries.
Blackwater Heavies Sue Families
Raleigh, NC -- The families of four American security contractors who were burned, beaten, dragged through the streets of Fallujah and their decapitated bodies hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River on March 31, 2004, are reaching out to the American public to help protect themselves against the very company their loved ones were serving when killed, Blackwater Security Consulting. After Blackwater lost a series of appeals all the away to the U.S. Supreme Court, Blackwater has now changed its tactics and is suing the dead men's estates for $10 million to silence the families and keep them out of court. "I initially took this case because it was the right thing to do in helping the families find closure by discovering the events surrounding their loved ones deaths, " said Daniel J. Callahan, attorney for the families. "I have found the evidence concerning Blackwater's involvement in the deaths to be overwhelming and appalling. Even more disturbing though is the callous nature in which Blackwater has not only concealed the truth, but also outright sued to force the families to stop pursuing the case and to silence them." Blackwater has spent millions of dollars and hired at least five different law firms to fight the families, rather than meeting and addressing what should be Blackwater's top priority -- the safety and well being of the mothers, wives, and children left behind. Blackwater has said that it will not pay one red cent to assist or console the surviving families, but instead has counter sued for $10 million. Due to lack of accountability and oversight, Blackwater's private army has been able to obtain huge profits from the government, utilizing contacts established through Erik Prince's relationships with high-ranking government officials such as Cofer Black and Joseph Schmitz. [Editor" Blackwater is the Bush secret Army of mercinaries. Blackwater is owned by Erik Prince, the brother-in-law of Michigan Amway owner Ricard DeVos, Jr.]
Magnetic fields may open door to efficient wireless power
MIT researchers now say that they have found a new method to direct a wireless power stream into a specific direction. Their “WiTricity” (“Wireless elecTricity”) method uses coupled resonant objects, which aims to create a scenario where two objects - the power source and the receiver – interact strongly with eachother, while there is weak interaction with everything else. The MIT project focused on magnetically coupled resonants, which revealed that this approach can identify the strongly coupled object in this system, even when the distance between them was several times larger than the sizes of the resonant objects. [Editor: There was no mention of the significant increase in cancer found among people exposed to electromagnetic radiation.]
Fresh health fears hit benzoate in soft drinks
Common preservative sodium benzoate, widely used in soft drinks and other foods, is again at the centre of health concerns after research emerged linking it to cell damage. Professor Piper's research, which suggests that benzoate contributes to faster ageing and degenerative diseases such as Parkinson's. Last year, an investigation by BeverageDaily.com revealed soft drinks industry leaders had known the preservative may break down to form benzene, a potentially cancerous chemical, in drinks also containing ascorbic acid (vitamin C) or citric acid. And more recently, sodium benzoate was one of seven 'E-numbers' again linked to behavioural problems in children.
Diabetes drugs get warning
In prepared testimony before a Congressional committee that was convened Wednesday following a published report on the cardiac dangers of Avandia, FDA Commissioner Dr Andrew von Eschenbach said the agency had asked that Avandia, made by GlaxoSmithKline, and Actos, made by Takeda Pharmaceuticals, carry the more prominent warning because "despite existing warnings, these drugs were being prescribed to patients with significant heart failure."
Cheney Blocks DOJ Official's Promotion: Document
June 7, 2007 · Documents relating to the late-night hospital room standoff between the Justice Department and the White House over the domestic spying program suggests that Vice President Dick Cheney punished a DOJ official who stood in the way of the reauthorization of the controversial program.
Israel's 40 Years of Occupation: From Democratic State to Violent Oppressor
Israel captured and occupied the Gaza Strip and the West Bank 40 years ago this week. The victory was celebrated as a great triumph, at once tripling the size of the land under Israeli control, including East Jerusalem. It was, however, a Pyrrhic victory. As the occupation stretched over the decades, it transformed and deformed Israeli society. It led Israel to abandon the norms and practices of a democratic society until, in the name of national security, it began to routinely accept the brutal violence of occupation and open discrimination and abuse of Palestinians, including the torture of prisoners and collective reprisals for Palestinians attacks. Palestinian neighborhoods, olive groves and villages were, in the name of national security, bulldozed into the ground. Israel's image has shifted from that of a heroic, open society set amid a sea of despotic regimes to that of an international pariah. Israel's West Bank separation barrier, built ostensibly to keep out Palestinian bombers, has also been used to swallow huge tracts of the West Bank into Israel
Bush Directive Places All Govenment Powers in His Hands! Don't We Have a Constitution Anymore?
June 1, 2007—Bush has issued a directive that would place all governmental powers in his hands in the case of a catastrophic emergency. As the nation focused on whether Congress would exercise its constitutional duty to cut funding for the war, Bush quietly issued an unconstitutional bombshell that went virtually unnoticed by the corporate media. The National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive, signed on May 9, 2007, would place all governmental power in the hands of the President and effectively abolish the checks and balances in the Constitution. This Presidential Directive is a blatant power grab by Bush to institutionalize "the unitary executive." As of December 22, 2006, Bush had used the words "unitary executive" 145 times in his signing statements and executive orders. Yoo, one of the chief architects of Bush's doctrine of unfettered executive power, wrote memoranda advising Bush that because he was commander in chief, he could make war any time he thought there was a threat, and he didn't have to comply with the Geneva Conventions. As elections approach it is entirely possible that Bush and Cheney may be unwilling to relinquish power to a successor administration.
The Bush Economy
Supposedly we are in a sustained economic recovery and have been since 2002. Part of this is Bush hot air and the Republican Noise Machine, which the media quotes verbatim. By a certain measure, however, it's real. The economy has grown. Corporate profits are at an all-time high. Average income is up. There's lots of money around. But the recovery has some really strange features. Oddities never before seen in a recovery.
Fallout from the Sale of Chrysler
Auto workers are bracing for a bumpy road ahead at Chrysler, following the May 14 announcement that Daimler-Chrysler (DCX) would sell off 80 percent ownership of the company to Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity firm. In its 15 years of operation, Cerberus has bought up companies in a range of industries, from real estate to governmental outsourcing services to firearms to transportation (totaling over $24 billion in assets). Cerberus then institutes cost-cutting measures and sells the restructured companies back to investors at big profits. Last year it began making bids for a number of pieces of the U.S. auto industry, including controlling interests in GM's lucrative financing arm, GMAC, and Delphi. Besides Chrysler, it currently controls 51 percent of GMAC and five auto parts suppliers: GDX Automotive, CTA Acoustics, Tower Automotive, Guildford Mills, and Peguform.
Gas price lawsuit filed in Roscommon
A Houghton Lake attorney has filed a class action lawsuit in 34th Circuit Court, Roscommon, seeking to lower gasoline prices and legalize marijuana. Stephen P. Fitzgerald filed the lawsuit on behalf of "all citizens of Roscommon County," against the United States of America and George Walker Bush, "purported president of the U.S." Stephen P. Fitzgerald claims in the lawsuit, filed May 24, that President Bush has "violated the oath of his office continually and flagrantly, as detailed...Bush conspired to orchestrate the attacks upon the U.S.A. which occurred on Sept. 11, 2001...to further tighten Big Oil's monopolistic grip upon the petroleum industry in the U.S.A." He claims "Big Oil," cited as Shell Oil, Marathon Oil, Gulf Oil, BP Petroleum, Standard Oil, Amoco, Exxon, Torco, Speedway and Admiral, and all other petroleum companies which do business in Roscommon County, "has succeeded so well in its aims that it manipulates the price of gasoline in the U.S.A. and Roscommon County at its own whim without any fear of intervention by the Federal Government. It has perfected Fitzgerald told the Resorter he is the lead plaintiff on behalf of "we the people," and that the lawsuit is about "enforcing our rights." He further claims in the lawsuit that "the price of gasoline in Roscommon County has soared from below two dollars a gallon just a few months ago to almost four dollars a gallon now. This immense squeeze upon plaintiffs is causing them ruinous harm. They can scarcely afford to buy gasoline themselves, and the tourists trade upon which many of them rely for their living is drying up entirely because travelers from elsewhere in Michigan and the Midwest cannot afford to drive here."
Blue Moon on Thursday? Not So Fast
There is a prevailing myth about what a blue moon is. Thursday, May 31, will bring the second full moon of the month. But that does not constitute a blue moon, as is popularly believed. Kelly Beatty, editor of Night Sky magazine and executive editor of Sky and Telescope, tells Robert Siegel that a blue moon actually refers to the phenomenon of having four full moons in a season, which ordinarily has three.
Mistaken Rendition Case in Germany Takes Turn
May 23, 2007 · Khalid el-Masri is a German citizen who was kidnapped by the CIA and kept in an Afghan prison for four months in early 2004. Legalities aside, it was a blundered rendition - the CIA got the wrong guy - but that hasn't made el-Masri's life any easier in the years since he returned home and has been trying to seek justice.
Bush is Leading U.S. to Nuclear War
The administration is building the case for war against Iran -- a job made easier by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent announcement that Iran can now enrich uranium on an industrial scale -- despite the fact that many Iran-watchers and nuclear experts consider their claims of enrichment capacity to be an overblown boast. Yellow cake, aluminum tubes and histrionics about Saddam Hussein's nuclear capabilities have turned out to be completely fabricated. And, when not grinding the axe of pre-emptive war as counter-proliferation strategy, the administration periodically raises the specter of nuclear terrorism, in the form of dirty bombs and suitcase-sized warheads. In spite of these facts the Bush administration is busy planning a new generation of nuclear weapons known as "Complex 2030." While the United States demands that other countries end their nuclear programs, the Bush administration is busy planning a new generation of nuclear weapons. Nearly 20 years after the Berlin Wall crumbled, the United States is allocating more funding, on average, to nuclear weapons than during the Cold War.
We're No. 1!
Hey, aren't we the most exceptional nation in history? George Bush and his pals thought so -- and they were in a great American tradition of exceptionalism. Of course, they were imagining us as the most exceptional empire in history (or maybe at the end of it), the ultimate New Rome. Anyway, explain this to me: Among all the exceptional things we claim to do, how come we never take credit for what may be the most exceptional of all, our success of successes, the thing that makes us uniquely ourselves on this war-ridden planet -- peddling more arms to Earthlings than anyone else in the neighborhood? Why do we hide this rare talent under a bushel? In the interest of shining a proud light on an underrated national skill, I asked Frida Berrigan to return the United States to its rightful place in the Pantheon of arms-dealing nations.
Garfield On The Oil Problem
A lot of folks can't understand how we came to have an oil shortage here in our country. Well, there's a very simple answer.
An End to Oil Price Gouging?
The Energy Information Administration just announced we can expect gas prices to skyrocket again—to well over $3 or in some places $4. Meanwhile, oil companies continue to break profit records. Tomorrow, hearings start on a bill that would make gas price gouging a federal crime, punishable by 10 years in prison. Speaker Pelosi has said she'll move the bill to a vote this week—if there's a two-thirds majority required to pass the bill without full hearings. But Big Oil is fighting the bill hard. ...STORY DEVELOPING...
Separate Oil & State
Send emails to your representativesSeparation of Oil & State is a campaign to get oil money out of politics. Its important that we demand that our representatives stand up for the future of energy, not for the dinosaurs of the oil industry.
The Price of Oil
Americans are counting on your efforts in Congress to end the war and bring the troops home in a way that rebuilds the credibility of our nation and reaffirms America's position as a force for freedom and democracy in the world. However, if Democrats are perceived to be advocating withdrawal only after access to Iraqi oil has been assured this will do little to reassure critics. The proposed Iraqi Oil Law will open up Iraq to international oil companies for the first time in decades, and potentially rob the Iraqis of billions of dollars. We are therefore joining Hasan Jum'a Awad, Head of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions urging you "not to link withdrawal with the oil law".
The Surprising Truth Behind the Construction of the Great Pyramids
"This is not my day job." So begins Michel Barsoum as he recounts his foray into the mysteries of the Great Pyramids of Egypt. As a well respected researcher in the field of ceramics, Barsoum never expected his career to take him down a path of history, archaeology, and "political" science, with materials research mixed in.
GOP to Gonzales, Just Go Already!
There is no way to get around the fact that the Attorney General is in bigger trouble today than he was yesterday, and he will almost certainly be in more trouble tomorrow. The latest shoe to drop took the form of the revelation by former Deputy Attorney General James Comey that Gonzales in March 2004 - when he served as George Bush's White House counsel - plotted to undermine the authority of the department he now heads by pressuring Ashcroft to approve the president's warrantless wiretapping project. The debate over whether Gonzales should stay is no longer a partisan or ideological fight. At stake is the question of whether the Department of Justice can continue to function when the Attorney General is suspected of lying to Congress and the American people on a regular basis.
Can We End the Ascent of Empire, before it Ends Us
In politics, as in medicine, a cure based on a false diagnosis is almost always worthless, often worsening the condition that is supposed to be healed. The United States, today, suffers from a plethora of public ills. Most of them can be traced to the militarism and imperialism that have led to the near-collapse of our Constitutional system of checks and balances. Unfortunately, none of the remedies proposed so far by American politicians or analysts addresses the root causes of the problem. According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, released on April 26, 2007, some 78% of Americans believe their country to be headed in the wrong direction. Only 22% think the Bush administration's policies make sense, the lowest number on this question since October 1992, when George H. W. Bush was running for a second term -- and lost. What people don't agree on are the reasons for their doubts and, above all, what the remedy -- or remedies -- ought to be.
Former Justice Deputy Describes Bush Behavior
Leaders at the White House and the Department of Justice clashed long before last year's dismissal of U.S. attorneys, according to former Deputy Attorney General James Comey. Comey, who worked under John Ashcroft in President Bush's first administration, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the firings of U.S. attorneys and the alleged politicization of the Justice Department. One senator called it some of the most dramatic testimony he's heard in 25 years as a legislator.
Angry Wolfowitz in four-letter tirade
An angry and bitter Paul Wolfowitz poured abuse and threatened retaliation on senior World Bank staff if his orders for pay rises and promotions for his partner were revealed, according to new details published on Monday. Under fire for the lavish package given to Shaha Riza, a World Bank employee and Wolfowitz's girlfriend when he became president, an official investigation into the controversy has found that Wolfowitz broke bank rules and violated his own contract - setting off a struggle between US and European governments over his future. Sounding more like a cast member of the Sopranos than an international leader, in testimony by one key witness, Wolfowitz declares: "If they f*** with me or Shaha, I have enough on them to f*** them too." Wolfowitz still enjoys support from the Bush administration, where he served as deputy defense secretary at the Pentagon during the invasion of Iraq [Editor: which he also seriously mismanaged].
World Bank panel dooms Wolfowitz
World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz broke ethics rules and put his own interest above the bank's when he directed a promotion for his girlfriend, an investigating panel found
Moore Strikes Back
Moore wrote a letter to Henry Paulson, Treasury Secretary, on Friday, claiming that the investigation may have a political basis. "For five and a half years, the Bush administration has ignored and neglected the heroes of the 9/11 community," wrote Moore in the letter posted on the Daily Kos website. "These heroic first responders have been left to fend for themselves, without coverage and without care," he added. "I understand why the Bush administration is coming after me — I have tried to help the very people they refuse to help, but until George W. Bush outlaws helping your fellow man, I have broken no laws and I have nothing to hide."
What's a Mother Worth?
This Mother's Day let's give mothers what they really need: a more secure old age. If you're a woman, or a man who cares about his mother, sister, or daughter, there's something you need to know. In the United States women over the age of 65 are twice as poor as men in the same age group. There's a reason poverty so disproportionately hits women. Most of these elderly poor women were, or still are, caregivers -- and according to most economists, the people who do the caring work in households, whether female or male, are "economically inactive." Of course, anyone who has a mother knows that most caregivers work from dawn to dusk. And we also know that without their work of caring for children, the sick, the elderly, and maintaining a clean home environment there would be no workforce, no economy, nothing. Yet current economic indicators and policies fail to include this work as "productive work."
Feds Target Michael Moore
A new Michael Moore film is on the way and, just in time, more controversy. The Treasury Department has confirmed it is investigating the firebrand filmmaker for taking 10 ailing 9-11 rescue workers on a trip to Cuba—allegedly in violation of a government travel ban to the island—to shoot a segment for Moore's upcoming documentary, Sicko. Sicko's producer, Meghan O'Hara, released a statement saying the OFAC has launched "a politically motivated investigation" and an attempt to prevent people from seeing the movie. O'Hara also said the workers who accompanied Moore are suffering ill health from exposure to chemicals at Ground Zero and have been unable to get the proper treatment in the States. "These 9-11 first responders risked their lives searching for survivors, recovering bodies, and clearing away toxic rubble. Now, many of these heroes face serious health issues—and far too many of them are not receiving the care they need and deserve," O'Hara says in a statement. "President Bush and the Bush Administration should be spending their time trying to help these heroes get health care instead of abusing the legal process to advance a political agenda."
Moore under investigation for Cuba film trip
Michael Moore, film-maker and scourge of the Bush administration, has been handed a timely gift of pre-release publicity for his new documentary, SiCKO, by the US treasury department which is investigating him for filming in Cuba in violation of a travel ban. MichaelMoore.com
State House Judiciary Committee OK's Second-Parent Adoption!
House Bill 4259, which would legalize second-parent adoption in Michigan, passed the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 8-5 earlier today. Today's committee vote is a victory for children and for families. We urge the both the State House and Senate to pass this pro-family legislation quickly and send it to the Governor for her signature. All children deserve the protection of having a legal relationship with both of their parents.
Why do Gas Prices Always End in 9/10 of a Cent?
So the gas companies take an extra 9/10 of a cent for every gallon of gas we buy--what is that actually worth? According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), "prime suppliers" of "motor gasoline" reported sales of 372,833.5 thousand barrels sold in February 2007. Each barrel represents 42 gallons, and to determine the value of 9/10 of a cent for each gallon, we did the following calculation: 372,834 x 1000 x 42 x .009 = $140,931,063 That means that in February 2007, gas companies collected an extra $141 million USD because of their unique pricing practices. Assuming Februrary is a rough average for the year, that's $1.7 billion USD in additional revenue!
Gas station owner told to raise prices
BP owner Raj Bhandari has been offering senior citizens a 2 cent per gallon price break and discount cards that let sports boosters pay 3 cents less per gallon.
'Encyclopedia of Life' Launched
The 10-year scheme, launched with initial grants of $12.5 million from two U.S.-based foundations, could aid everyone from children with biology homework to governments planning how to protect endangered species. "The Encyclopedia of Life plans to create an entry for every named species," James Edwards, executive director of the project which is backed by many leading research institutions, told Reuters. "At the moment that's 1.8 million."
'Dumb Dubya' in right royal gaffe
London - British newspapers were scathing on Tuesday about US President George W Bush's blundering welcome for Queen Elizabeth II, labelling him "Dumb Dubya" and saying he has the "gift for the gaffe". Bush messed up at a ceremonial welcome for the queen at the White House Monday when he spoke of a visit paid by Elizabeth to mark the 200th anniversary of the US Declaration of Independence from Britain "in 17 - in 1976". After the queen looked up at him from beneath her wide-brimmed black hat, he winked at her, before turning to the laughing audience and telling them: "She gave me a look that only a mother could give a child." This was not Bush's first slip in front of the monarch, the Guardian added. "When she visited the White House in 1991 during his father's presidency, he said he was the black sheep of the Bush family. "He then asked: 'Who's yours?' The queen did not reply."
Road to Ruin?
In its latest issue, Business Week weighs in with a cover story on the push to privatize the nation's highways, bridges, and airports, among other public infrastructure. This growing trend is now moving along at a feverish clip, propelled by investment banks and foreign companies who see in these low-risk assets the prospect of enormous and steady returns, not to mention, as Business Week puts it, "monopolistic advantages that keep those cash flows as steady as a beating heart." For would-be privateers, it doesn't hurt that this model is enthusiastically backed by the Bush administration.
How a Number Became a Web Celebrity
The online uproar came in response to a series of cease-and-desist letters from lawyers for a group of movie studios and electronics companies, demanding that the code be removed from several high-profile Web sites. Rather than wiping out the code, which is essentially one long number, the letters led to its proliferation on Web sites, in chat rooms, inside cleverly doctored digital photographs and on user-submitted news sites.
Yes Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so. Happy Mother's Day!
Protect Our Children Now
Currently in Michigan, only one partner in an unmarried couple can be considered the legal parent of the couple’s children. If the legal parent dies, the other parent may lose custody of his or her child. Worse, children can’t receive benefits ranging from health insurance to Social Security survivors’ benefits from their parents who aren’t legally recognized – and if that parent dies, any inheritance she or he leaves their child will be taxed as if they were strangers. If you feel that children deserve the protection of having a legal relationship with both of their parents, there are three things you can do:
Reversal of Fortune
The formula for human well-being used to be simple: Make money, get happy. So why is the old axiom suddenly turning on us?
Suburbia: America's Unseen Poverty
America's suburbs evoke images of dream homes, plush lawns and neighborhood BBQs, not low-wage jobs and houses under foreclosure. Yet for the first time ever, more poor Americans live in the suburbs than in all our cities combined.
Is the Scene of the Crime the Cause of the Crime?
Schoolyard massacres are rebellions against oppressive and bullying environments by students who can't take it anymore. Another rampage massacre, this time the worst ever. Which means another fake attempt at trying to understand this uniquely American crime -- these interminable rage killing sprees in our workplaces and our schoolyards. What makes the Virginia Tech massacre more horrifying isn't just the body count but the reaction of the living: The official fake soul-searching is more idiotic than ever. It is difficult to deal with the possibility that other factors may have led to the massacre, factors that are still too painful and close to us to consider. For example, how was this nerdy South Korean immigrant treated at his suburban high school and at Virginia Tech? What is the campus life like? What was it about Virginia Tech that made it the setting for the first student-on-student college massacre? And why were there copycat threats at campuses across Middle America over the following days? [Editor: Read the next story below for more insight on this concern.]
Hate crime victims need your help!
Legislation that would add protections for GLBT citizens to existing hate crimes legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate. A vote is expected this week, National Crime Victims' Rights Week. We need you to help in efforts to pass this important legislation. The Matthew Shepard Act, also known as the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007, would finally recognize anti-gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender violence for what it is - a hate crime. Just as important, this bill recognizes that sexual minorities both need and deserve the same protections as other minorities. Please take a moment today to write to our two U.S. Senators and to your U.S. Representative and urge them to support The Matthew Shepard Act.
Milking The Mayhem and Baiting For More: Inside The Mind of The Media
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time once again for a commercial from our specious sponsors at “American Media Whores”: “Terrorists… Mass murderers… Tired of feeling isolated? Sick of being unknown? Not wanting to commit that massacre for fear no one will know? Sensational. Salacious. Dramatic. Delights for pernicious predators like self-serving media whores. American media are parasites. Tragedy and mayhem are their hosts. They prey on sorrow, incite fear, and ignite rage. They even start wars. They anoint ‘the evil’, and savage ‘the good.’ They swift-boat honor and uplift lies. They make idols of murderers and glorify their crimes. They cater to sorrow-seekers and thrill-mongers. They encourage voyeurs. They create addicts who worship the offender and worship the offense.
Privatizing and Profiteering
The Deepening college loan scandal is a classic case of what can happen when government uses private companies as middlemen to carry out public goals. Lately, investigations by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, US Senator Edward Kennedy, and others have revealed a number of problems. The private lending industry adds nothing of value and takes no real risk, since loan repayment is guaranteed by the government. It simply skims off exorbitant profit at taxpayer expense — and then adds further costs of marketing and bribing college officials. According to government figures tabulated by US News & World Report, the direct loan program does better than break even, while the private loan program costs taxpayers $12.80 for every $100 borrowed. Most of those extra costs go for company profits. If all reduced-rate loans had been made through the direct loan program, Kennedy reports, we would have saved $30 billion since 1994, the year Congress revised and expanded the federal program.
Bills target wage discrimination against women
House Democrats appeared around the state Monday in support of bills they say would strengthen Michigan laws related to wage discrimination against women. One of the bills would create a statewide pay equity commission that would be responsible for developing definitions of comparable wages. The latest U.S. Census figures say that on average, a woman employed full-time and year-round earns about 77 cents for every $1 earned by a man. A group called the Michigan Pay Equity Network says that the gap in the state is 67 cents for every $1.
Government reveals 63,000 Social Security numbers
U.S. government officials warn of possible identity theft after the Social Security numbers of 63,000 people were posted on a public Web site. The officials said Friday the U.S. Census Bureau posted the Social Security numbers thousands of recipients of federal farm loans in an apparent violation of federal law
Presidential hopeful sings 'bomb Iran'
US presidential hopeful John McCain crooned the words "Bomb Iran" to the tune of the Beach Boys' Barbara Ann in a joking response to a question about any possible US attack over Tehran's suspected nuclear weapons program. "That old Beach Boys song, Bomb Iran ... bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb," the Vietnam War veteran warbled softly to the band's Barbara Ann when he was asked when the United States would send an "airmail message" to Iran.
Pew Survey looks at Americans' knowledge of the news …
Coverage of the latest Pew poll on Americans' media consumption and knowledge of current events will no doubt feature much hand-wringing over the fact that viewers of the Daily Show and the Colbert Report are much more knowledgeable about current events than viewers of Fox News, although I'm not sure why that would be a surprise to anyone.
Yahoo Sued for Human Rights Violations
The suit, a legal first against an Internet company, was filed under the Alien Tort Claims Act and the Torture Victims Protection Act. According to the International Herald Tribune, the 1789 Alien Tort Claims Act lets foreigners sue in American courts for fundamental violations of international law, like torture and genocide. It has been used in recent years to sue people who have violated basic human rights. And the 1991 Torture Victims Protection Act allows plaintiffs, including foreign citizens, to file civil suits in the United States. Both laws require proof of torture.
God Hates You and the World (sayeh Westboro Baptists)
I hate to say it, but I'm glad for the existence of Westboro Baptist because Fred Phelps' church helps expose a hateful underbelly of parts of American Christianity. Westboro Baptist represents the quintessence of a tendency within Christianity, mirrored no doubt within Islam as well, that presumes to know which societal groups and even which cities and entire geographical regions are slated for the wrath of divine destruction for alleged sins.
Many Americans still seem to think that racism, sexism, and other bigotries are myths -- a staggering feat of collective denial. How many times have you heard someone start (or finish) a diatribe with "Well, I'm no racist (sexist, homophobe, etc.), but ... ?
Women Who Ditch Their Career
Women who abandon their careers and become financially dependent on their husbands often look back on that decision as the biggest mistake of their lives -- even women in stable, enduring marriages. I interviewed women all over the country, of every age, socio-economic level and background, but many used the exact same words to ask an angry question: "Why didn't anybody tell me what a mistake this was?"
Feed Your Kids Pig Chow
"In capitalism, the most fundamental building block is trust," writes Ben Stein. "When yeoman farmers sent their savings to banks in London and Glasgow and Paris, they had to be able to count on it not being stolen. That was what allowed capital to be accumulated and deployed, and for the entire world economy to take off. "When I see what the top dogs at all too many corporations are now doing to that trust, I feel queasy. Outrageous - yes, obscene - pay. Greedy backdating of stock options, which in my opinion is straight-up theft. Managers buying assets from their trustors, the stockholders, at pennies on the dollar, then forestalling competing bids with lockups and insane breakup fees. "These misdeeds and many, many more are hammer blows at the granite foundation of trust we built in the 1940s and '50s… "It's built on man's notion that he can trust his neighbor with his money, and that if the neighbor misbehaves, the law will chase him and catch him, and that the ladder of law has no top and no bottom… "If that trust disappears - if the system is no longer a system for the ordinary citizen but only for the tough guys - how much longer can the miracle last?"
Abstinence education doesn't work, US report shows
Abstinence-only education programs meant to teach children to avoid sex until marriage failed to control their sexual behavior, according to a US government report. Teenagers who took part in the programs as elementary and middle school students were just as likely to have sex as those who did not take part in them, the survey found. "For both the program and control group youth, the reported mean age at first intercourse was identical, 14.9 years," says the report, available on the Internet at http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/abstinence07/index.htm.
Take Back the Airwaves
Our airwaves, the single most important method by which Americans get information about choosing the future president, are being held hostage by corporate broadcasters. The costs of running for federal office have been skyrocketing. More than $880 million was raised by the 2004 presidential campaigns. The 2008 election is expected to cost more than $1 billion. Sixty percent will be spent on advertising. The citizens are the losers, and the broadcasters and elite political consultants are the winners. We ought to turn this around. The public owns the airwaves that are being used by the big corporate broadcasters. The broadcasters, like NBC, ABC and CBS, have an obligation to use those airwaves "in the public interest, convenience and necessity." These profitable corporations take these public airwaves for free, then peddle them for exorbitant advertising rates. We have to ask, as U.S. servicemen and -women are being killed overseas ostensibly in defense of democracy, why are our airwaves, the single most important method by which Americans get information about choosing the future president, being held hostage by corporate broadcasters?
America, Maxed Out
The federal government -- and the majority of Americans -- can no longer get by a single day without taking on additional debt. And as more borrowing goes to simply pay off old debt, or to make interest payments, the new debt does little more than increase banking profits. Eventually the higher levels of debt will lead to higher interest rates, which will lead to more debt, creating a cycle as vicious as it is inevitable. Over the past generation, banks and credit card companies have made trillions of dollars of high-interest, unsecured debt available, and Americans have scooped it up. Our incomes have risen an average of 1 percent in real terms, while our household debt has increased over 1,000 percent. (Note: Banks realized more than a generation ago that they can make far more money teaching us to spend than to save. They've also learned that making money up front, mostly in the form of fees, is a lot more fun than waiting for a revenue stream to trickle in.)
Online music is in danger
A recent ruling by an obscure regulatory board threatens to put independent and public radio on the Internet out of business. The "Copyright Royalty Board" is dramatically increasing the royalties "webcasters" must pay every time they stream a song online. Public Internet radio like NPR is especially at risk. The rules could shut down nonprofit and smaller commercial Internet radio outlets and force larger webcasters to play the same cookie-cutter music as Clear Channel. So much for new online alternatives.
No Bar Code News
An evangelical Virginia farmer says a revolution against industrial agriculture is just down the road.
For the Christian Right, Gay-Hating Is Just the Start [Nazi Germany Anyone?]
As the Christian right works hard to make gays and lesbians second-class citizens, society needs to make a stand -- or else the same tactics will soon be used against other "social deviants." These attacks mask a sinister agenda that has nothing to do with sexuality. It has to do with power. The radical Christian right -- the most dangerous mass movement in American history -- has built a binary worldview of command and submission wherein male leaders, who cannot be questioned and claim to speak for God, are in control and all others must follow.
Bush's 'We Care' tour to Latin America greeted by protest
President George W. Bush has portrayed his trip to Latin America this week as a "We Care" tour aimed at dispelling perceptions that he has neglected his southern neighbors. But the fresh graffiti on streets here in São Paulo, where he landed Thursday night for his first stop, calls him a murderer.
China announces agency to invest its foreign currency reserves
The finance minister of China announced the formation of a new agency on Friday to oversee investment of the country's massive $1 trillion in foreign currency reserves. China already has the world's largest foreign exchange holdings, and they are growing at a rapid pace because of the country's huge trade surpluses. Most of the reserves China now accumulates are conservatively invested in U.S. Treasury bonds and other government securities.
The Lies They Tell: How to Stop the Fox Propaganda Machine
As presidential aspirants announce their candidacies in an already mind-numbing procession, the "Sliming Bowl" is well under way. "Sliming" is the rabid, rapid, media barrage of persistently repeated lies and innuendo mastered by the right-wing media machine, which aims to tar candidates with negative associations before their campaigns get rolling. Or alternatively, to bruise them enough so that they will suffer under the burden of damaged goods as they try to gain footing. The conservative roots usually puts out a speculative story through Fox News or Matt Drudge (of the Drudge Report), a powerful mouthpiece for the Bush White House. Then the right-wing echo reverberates as the lies make their way to talk radio and the right-wing blogosphere. Eventually, it gets picked up and carried by the mainstream media, with few understanding where the story originated.
U.S. Trade Deficit Grew to Another Record in ’06
The gap between what Americans import and what they export widened to another record in 2006, totaling $763.6 billion, the Commerce Department said today. It was the fifth year in a row that the trade deficit broke through its previous record. [EDITOR: George Bush wants you to believe that the economy is strong, it isn't. We are in serious financial trouble, as the rest of the world, whom we owe, will be calling in the debt we have borrowed from them. Each and every American, from the just-born, to the aged carries a huge personal debt due to the actions of this presidency in the amount of tens of thousands of dollars. It is time to end the military buildup and the invasion of sovereign nations, and support the U.S. domestic economy with job creation, health care, education and all of the other services that make us strong and competitive in the world market.]
February 12: Happy Darwin Day
Darwin's 200th Birthday will occur on February 12, 2009; it will also be the 150th Anniversary of the publication of his famous book, On The Origin of Species. So, together we can evolve a truly international Celebration to express gratitude for the enormous benefits that scientific knowledge, acquired through human curiosity and ingenuity, has contributed to the advancement of humanity. The objective of Darwin Day Celebration is to encourage existing institutions worldwide, such as municipalities, public and private schools, colleges and universities, libraries, museums, churches, private organizations and individuals to celebrate Science and Humanity every year, on, or near, February 12, Darwin's birthday!
Becoming a Gentleman
A group of Japanese men say they have the answer to marital bliss. The group's founder says he saved his own marriage by learning to take out the garbage.
Family: What Makes Them, What Breaks Them
“A team of 90 scientists just issued a new report describing global-warming as man-made. Those who wish to avoid the heat ought to visit chilly Michigan, where voters and the courts are icing up our own, entirely man-made frosty social climate for, well, some people. Isn't it ironic that, just as Michigan's economy tanks, the state is getting more stand-offish by the minute? We might as well announce: Take your educated, your skilled, your scholarly gay intellectuals and Ph.D.s, your out-of-state minority students. Keep 'em. Never mind that some of these may be top-tier job seekers likely to find other states more welcoming.”
Inherited disease linked to Hatfield-McCoy feud
The most infamous feud in US folklore, the long-running battle between the Hatfields and McCoys, may be partly explained by a rare, inherited illness -- Von Hippel-Lindau disease -- that can lead to hair-trigger rage and violent outbursts.
Who Americans Are and What They Do
December 15, 2006—Americans drank more than 23 gallons of bottled water per person in 2004 — about 10 times as much as in 1980. We consumed more than twice as much high fructose corn syrup per person as in 1980 and remained the fattest inhabitants of the planet, although Mexicans, Australians, Greeks, New Zealanders and Britons are not too far behind. As recently as 1980, only 12 percent of doctors were women; by 2004, 27 percent were. In 1970, 33,000 men and 2,000 women earned professional degrees; in 2004, the numbers were 42,000 men and 41,000 women. This eclectic portrait of the American people is drawn from the 1,376 tables in the Census Bureau’s 2007 Statistical Abstract of the United States, the annual feast for number crunchers that is being served up by the federal government today.
Chamber of Commerce: Agency of Corruption.
The Chamber of Commerce, run by corrupt lobbyist Tom Donahue, has turned into a pay-to-play vehicle for right-wing causes and corporate dishonesty. Donahue is on the board of directors of Sunrise Senior Living, a company that offers assisted living facilities to the elderly, and according to Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times, he sold stock in advance of an accounting problem which later became public and shaved $342 million from the company's market value. Shareholders are demanding answers. The national Chamber of Commerce isn't pro-business, in other words, it's just a fully captured right-wing organization that has been taken over by the Republican Party. There are state and local Chambers all over the country that are not right-wing, but are genuinely apolitical organizations fostering networking and business growth in local areas. Many trial lawyers in the South belong to local Chambers, unwittingly contributing to a massive lobbying operation in D.C. undercutting their ability to represent the public against abuses.
ID Theft and You
In today's Peeping Tom Dystopia, government datacrats at all levels are fixated on finding out everything about us. They track us with spycams and RFID chips and warrantless wiretaps and computer stealthbugs and black boxes in our autos and covert email intercepts and mandatory snitching from our bankers and doctors and telephone firms and credit card companies. They need this massive database of birthdays and divorces and pay raises and colonoscopies and vaginal wart prescriptions because they are from the government and they are here to protect us. But protect us how? And from what?
Congress Can Overrule The President On Any Decision - Including Our Policies On Iraq
There has been a lot of talk going on lately about the "decisions" which President Bush will make regarding his disastrous War in Iraq. Many people who should know better are speaking as if the President somehow has the authority -- all by himself -- to determine the Military and Foreign Relations policies of the United States of America. On the Sunday talk shows, people are anxiously awaiting to see which recommendations Bush will "accept," as if his acceptance or rejection were all-important. "After all," they seem to say, reverently: "he is the Commander-In Chief! These decisions belong to him alone!" Wrong! This belief is dangerous nonsense, created by the Bush Administration and promoted by their obedient Rubber-Stamp followers in the old Congress. The truth is, the President is not supposed to be the Great Decider, but the Capable Administrator, who faithfully executes whatever laws are duly enacted by Congress.
Microsoft Word Documents Are Ticking Timebombs
Microsoft has issued a zero-day attack alert for its ubiquitous Word application. The unpatched flaw can be exploited when a user simply opens a maliciously rigged Word document, and there are no pre-patch workarounds available, Microsoft warns. Affected software versions include Microsoft Word 2000, Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Office Word 2003, Microsoft Word Viewer 2003, Microsoft Word 2004 for Mac and Microsoft Word 2004 v. X for Mac. The Microsoft Works 2004, 2005 and 2006 suites are also affected because they include Microsoft Word. This is the second major Microsoft Word zero-day attack this year. In May 2006, a sophisticated attack originating from China and Taiwan was detected using a Trojan dropper and a backdoor with rootkit features to mask itself from anti-virus scanners.
NASA Plans Base on the Moon
The lunar outpost would be a staging point for a journey to Mars and enable NASA to conduct a wide range of scientific investigations, officials said. Missions to the moon for the project are expected to begin by 2020, NASA Spokesman Michael J. Braukus said on Dec. 5. As of now, he added, there are no firm figures on costs or how long the base will take to build. [Editor: Now if they could just figure out how to fund education and healthcare, and stop global warming that will make this planet about as uninhabitable as the moon currently is. When will we ever use some common sense when it comes to our national priorities?]
Caution Urged on U.S. plan for RFID-enabled ID cards
A government plan to use radio frequency identification (RFID) chips in a proposed passport card program for U.S. citizens is drawing fire from some quarters. The identification cards would be needed by residents who don't have passports for verifying their identity at land and sea border
Few tears for the great intimidator
The Guardian Outside the depleted ranks of America's neoconservatives, few tears are likely to be shed over John Bolton's resignation as US ambassador to the United Nations. Mr Bolton's political fate was effectively sealed, like that of Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon, when the Republicans suffered their crippling defeat in the Congressional elections last month: two senior administration figures who were closely associated with the multiple disasters of the Iraq war have now happily paid the price.
Boeing: Accused of Running Torture Travel Agency
A British author and an ex-prisoner's attorney say that records uncovered by Spanish investigators show Boeing has a direct role in "extreme renditions" -- planning and organizing the flights through a unit of its Seattle commercial airplane division. The prisoner flights, launched by the Clinton administration to transfer foreign suspects to trial in the United States, became a darker undertaking following 9/11. George W. Bush approved what critics say amounts to the kidnapping of foreign nationals, some flown to countries such as Morocco or Egypt, known for abusive interrogation techniques. Others were taken to a system of CIA prisons in Afghanistan and Europe, or the U.S. compound in Guantánamo, rights groups say.
Michigan Internet Under Attack: The Stakes Are HUGE!
Think twice before you write this story off as a geek issue: this seemingly arcane debate will ultimately determine the future of virtually all communications in America. Here's why. The phone companies' new service delivers TV, phone and web service that is faster, and competes with cable companies -- which is great -- but they also may go around local governments avoiding consumer protections. For instance it is vital that big telephone are offering service to all residents, not just the wealthiest. The phone companies don't want to negotiate with the local governments and obey these requirements and are trying to bypass them in national and state legislation. If we permanently lose net neutrality, the Internet will become more like cable TV, where phone and cable companies (who together control 98% of broadband access) control what you see, how fast it downloads and how much it costs. If we win, in a few years, faster broadband speeds will allow any Web site to become a TV or radio network, breaking open the bottleneck on access and distribution. The stakes are huge!
Consider Buying Nothing!
Corporations invest billions of dollars yearly to persuade people to accept the religion of consumerism. It's a religion that goes against the teaching of just about every other religion, belief system, or moral code. Think about what you really believe, and see if your decisions are motivated by your own code or by slick advertisements.
In Debt We Trust
“In Debt We Trust” started out to be a film about what I thought were other people's problems. I came to realize how deeply they affect me as well. The experience of making this film has led me to understand how many ways policies and practices are tied to a growing national debt burden and have an impact on my personal finances. Even as a former network journalist and long-time investigative reporter, I was shocked and outraged when I started probing the roots of these issues. This is a problem involving millions of people and billions of dollars yet it is downplayed and rarely discussed in all of its disastrous dimensions. It's about a growing inequality that some experts fear will lead to a new 21st century serfdom. It's about the transfer of wealth from working people into the vaults and accounts of a relatively small number of financial institutions and real estate interests. The lenders are profiting by charging usurious rates and doing so legally, in part, because they have mastered the art and science of marketing products and then manipulating media, politicians, and political institutions.
A Politics of the Common Good
A movement is growing that aims to build a politics of decency and sanity, which speaks to the generosity of the American people. It's not going to be easy, but it's time to rock the boat.
Media Ownership Takes On a Nightmarish Hue
At a time when warnings abound that the concentration of wealth in America is dangerously threatening the underpinnings of our democracy, it’s unsettling to see a cast of billionaire moguls and dubious characters circling their wagons around the Nation’s largest newspapers. The Tribune Company, owner of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Newsday (Long Island), Hartford Courant (Connecticut) and 25 television stations, is under heavy pursuit by at least six teams of bulge bracket players. One of those players is Maurice (Hank) Greenberg, ousted Chairman of AIG, who is facing a civil fraud lawsuit filed by New York State Attorney General and Governor-elect, Eliot Spitzer over sham transactions and accounting at AIG.
Arrows for the War
The Christian 'Quiverfull' movement measures a mother's spiritual resolve by the number of children she raises, each one an arrow in the quiver of God's army. When the Gospel Community Church in Coxsackie, New York, breaks midservice to excuse children for Sunday school, nearly half of the 225-strong congregation patters toward the back of the worship hall: the five youngest children of Pastor Stan Slager's eight, assistant pastor Bartly Heneghan's eleven and the Dufkin family's thirteen, among many others. It's the un-ignorable difference between the families at Gospel Community and those in the rest of the town that's led some to wonder if the church isn't a cult that forces its disciples to keep pushing out children.
Is Marriage Rational?
As a child of the '60s counter-culture, I equated marriage with the Vietnam War -- some sham ceremonial act, like saving the world from communist hordes, that actually had nothing to do with mental health, romance or commitment, but was rather one more way that mass society sought to colonize our minds. I am not kidding, and, believe me, I wasn't alone. Back in the day, most of my friends saw marriage as a strange ritual, honeycombed with contradictions. Marriages were stultifying, burdened by adultery and inequality. They were invitations to divorce. Of course, as the idealistic 1970s gave way to the pragmatic Reagan years, some of my best friends also got married, though like me with the stipulation, "I don't need the government to sanctify my relationship."
Save the Wild UP HERE
Kennecott Minerals has submitted a mining permit application under Michigan's as yet untested sulfide mining law, for the development of the first recognized sulfide metallic mine in the history of the State of Michigan. This mining application proposes to develop a massive sulfide mine UNDER one of Michigan's most important trout streams-the Salmon Trout River;and on the Yellow Dog Plains which is known for its beauty, wild streams, and extraordinary wildlife. Because we feel this application is fundamentally deficient in meeting the protection criteria of Michigan's Non-Ferrous Metallic Mining Statute and rules, established to protect our state and waters from the acknowledged risks of sulfide mining; because these risks are too great to this region dependent on a thriving economy based on tourism and recreation; and because the people of Michigan are not willing to allow the degradation of the Upper Peninsula, Lake Superior and U.P. communities-WE URGE THE STATE OF MICHIGAN TO DENY THIS PERMIT.
D.C. Fear Face-Off
After years of using voter fear as their favorite campaign weapon, Republicans are suddenly the ones running scared -- terrified that the reality contained within the new National Intelligence Estimate will confirm the undeniable: that the war in Iraq has fueled terrorism and made us all less safe. And that President Bush has been intentionally misleading us with his insistence that Iraq is the centerpiece of the battle against terrorism, and his assurance that "America is winning the war on terror."
GOP Fear-Mongering Kicks into High Gear
Sure enough, with just two weeks to go and the polls heavily skewing Democratic, the administration's panic-button pushers have brought out the big guns, including an ad alleging that Osama Bin Laden said that 9/11 was "nothing compared to what you will see next," the specter of colossal tax raises, Dick Cheney repeatedly mentioning the possibility of "mass death in the United States," and even that old race-baiting favorite, the fear of black men lusting after southern white women. It's beginning to look a lot like November.
Fighting the 'Imperial' Internet
Corporate media are looking to use the "free market" to add the internet to their empire. But we can't let them dominate the 'net and undermine our democracy.
A Test of Power
Projections of the rise and fall of nations form an indispensable element in the conduct of diplomacy, yet such estimates of what power is and how it is changing are very uncertain. Some observers, indeed, have suggested that we are nearly destined to get it wrong. The English statesman Henry St. John, Lord Bolingbroke, noted that those "who are in the sinking scale do not easily come off from the habitual prejudices of superior wealth, or power, or skill, or courage, nor from the confidence that these prejudices inspire. They who are in the rising scale do not immediately feel their strength, nor assume that confidence in it which successful experience gives them afterwards."
Foley, Gays and the Religious Right: Is This the Nail in the GOP Coffin?
It's become clear that the Republican leadership protected a predator. Will it cost them the conservative Christian votes they so desperately need? Foley faces an FBI investigation to perhaps, ironically, be convicted under some of the laws he helped to pass. But the bigger, more institutional question remains: What did the GOP leadership know, and when did they know it? Evidence suggests that Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Leader Jim Boehner both knew that there were issues -- though neither, of course, cops to awareness of anything approaching the text above. In fact, evidence suggests that Foley's behavior was well known in GOP circles for years, with former page Matthew Loraditch telling ABC News that pages were warned to "watch out for Foley" as early as 2001.
Foley: Who's to Blame?
It occurs to me, in watching the Republican leadership and their allies scramble for an alibi that flies in the scandal surrounding Congressman Mark Foley, that no one is stating one, obvious fact: that for all Americans, gay or straight, it is simply unacceptable to engage in solicitous behavior with teenagers. Why do I feel the need to state the obvious? While Foley has left town, his colleagues are rushing to get back on message with less than five weeks left to the midterm elections. And when all else fails this group, they fall back to a time-tested formula: blame the gays. Newt Gingrich from going on Fox News to say that the GOP leadership didn't act because there were afraid of being accused of gay bashing. Oh really? The same GOP leaders who are trying to write gay people out of the Constitution chose not to investigate inappropriate sexual behavior because they were worried that they might be branded as homophobic? This has nothing to do with homophobia. This is about the sexual solicitation of teenagers. In fact, The Journal of the American Medical Association found that 90 percent of pedophiles are men, and that 98 percent of those men are heterosexual.
Understanding "The World Can't Wait" Organization (a cautionary tale)
The rise of the most recent Revolutionary Communist Party front group, "The World Can't Wait," provides a good opportunity for criticisms of the Revolutionary Communist Party, its strategies and leader, Bob Avakian. In the past, the RCP has attempted to utilize front groups like Not In Our Name, and the October 22nd Organization (O22). Its strategy is similar to that of another Stalinist sect, the Workers World Party, which for several years has operated through its front group International A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now To Stop War and End Racism). Both groups hope to use their fronts in order to manipulate folks who honestly oppose the policies of the Bush regime and the war, as well as to recruite new members to the Revolutionary Communist Party (USA). The Revolutionary Communist Party is a deceptive, centralized and authoritarian organization. There's an old saying, "If you want to know what a communist is saying, look at his hands." That means, the rhetoric is just that - rhetoric. Forget the words, look at what they are doing if you want to know what they really mean. We need to keep an eye on the RCP and WCW.
Brainwash a Nation — A MUST VIEW
An excerpt from a four-part series called "The Century of the Self." The series tracks how American elites have aggressively used the modern behavioral sciences to persuade, coerce and manipulate the American public into accepting the corporate-government world's version of events as their own.
Big Jump Found in Anti-Muslim Incidents
Complaints involving anti-Muslim discrimination, harassment and violence jumped over 30 percent in 2005 compared to 2004, according to a new report released here Monday by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim organisation.
Secret CIA Prisons in Your Backyard
The largest covert CIA operation since the Cold War is run not only by shadowy government contractors in the darkest corners of Afghanistan, but also by unassuming Americans in places like Dedham, Mass.
Pope urged to retract Islam remarks
"The language used by the pope sounds like that of his 12th-century counterpart who ordered the crusades" Hamid Ansari, Indian muslim leader. The Pakistani national assembly, parliament's lower house, unanimously passed a resolution on Friday demanding the Pope retract his remarks "in the interest of harmony among different religions of the world". "The derogatory remarks of the pope about the philosophy of jihad and Prophet Mohammed have injured sentiments across the Muslim world and pose the danger of spreading acrimony among the religions," the resolution said. In Qatar, prominent Muslim scholar shaikh Youssef al-Qaradawi rejected the Pope's comments and said Islam was a religion of peace and reason.
Powell joins opponents of Bush tribunal plan
President Bush made a rare visit to Capitol Hill on Thursday as key Republican senators who oppose the administration's military tribunal plan gained a powerful ally -- the president's former secretary of state. In a letter to one of the major opponents of Bush's plan, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said he opposed the part of the proposal that would amend the interpretation of Article III of the Geneva Conventions. The White House and the Senate GOP leadership are at odds with McCain and Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Warner of Virginia, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, over the administration's tribunal plan. "The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism," Powell, a retired Army four-star general, wrote in a letter Wednesday to McCain, whose amendment last year opposed the use of torture. (Read Powell's letter) "To redefine Common Article III would add to those doubts. Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk."
For U.S. Workers, Vacation Is Vanishing
More than a quarter of working Americans won't take time off, while Europeans enjoy two months of holiday. Did the Reagan revolution make us forget how to relax?
Lie By Lie: A Chronicle of a War Foretold By Mother Jones
The stream of dire dispatches from Iraq has left many Americans wondering, "How did it get this bad?" The editors of Mother Jones offer an answer with this extensively sourced and cross-referenced interactive timeline of political swindle. Tags, like "fear factor" and "distraction," break down the daunting mass of information into more manageable parts. Contemporary history is laid bear, from then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney's call to protect Kuwait's oil from Saddam Hussein in 1990, to Colin Powell's now-infamous speech before the United Nations, all the way to March 19, 2003, the day the United States invaded Iraq.
Mom and Pop Stores Take on Wal-Mart
local businesses in our community are more directly connected to our well-being. The assets of these small firms are, by definition, sited in the community and owned by people residing there. They almost exclusively hire neighbors. The benefits of their success and the fallout of their failure are experienced directly by residents.
Court backs right to wear anti-Bush shirt
Zachary Guiles knew he was being provocative when he showed up for school two years ago in a T-shirt that accused George Bush of being a war-mongering draft-dodger, a drunkard and a drug addict. What the 13-year-old may not have realised was that he would provoke a major free-speech battle that culminated this week in a court victory.
Executives Cash In on War and Oil Bonanza
Top oil and defence industry executives in the United States are raking in record personal profits on the backs of the U.S. wars following the terror attacks of Sep. 11, 2001 and sky-high oil prices, two think-tanks said Wednesday. "CEOs (chief executive officers) in the defense and oil industries have been able to translate war and rising oil prices into personal jackpots," says the new report "Executive Excess 2006," a 60-page study by the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington and the Boston-based United for a Fair Economy. The report's authors say U.S. taxpayers are funding much of this bonanza and faulted U.S. political and congressional leaders for not exercising better and more thorough oversight.
What Keeps Rumsfeld Up At Night?
Forget the escalating sectarian violence. Forget the rising influence of Iran. Forget the 100-Iraqi-deaths-per-day. Forget the 2,638 American dead. For Don Rumsfeld the problem isn't that we are not winning the war in Iraq, the problem is that we are not properly spinning the war in Iraq. Along with comparing his critics to Hitler appeasers, the beleaguered Defense Secretary has spent the early part of this week making the case that the horrific state of affairs in Iraq is really just a case of bad PR.
Hackers Hit AT&T System
Computer internet Hackers gained access to Credit Card info from 19,000 customers of the telephone company's online store
Michigan household income falls
Household income in Michigan -- once the Promised Land for American workers -- dropped more than $200 below the national median last year, according to new census figures released Tuesday. Michigan, which ranked sixth at the end of the 1960s, ranked 23rd among the states in median household income in 2005, at $46,038, compared to the national figure, $46,242. Across the nation, household incomes rose last year and the poverty rate stayed stagnant, the first year it hasn't increased since before President Bush took office. The last decline in the poverty rate was in 2000, during the Clinton administration.
Real Wages Fail to Match a Rise in Productivity
With the economy beginning to slow, the current expansion has a chance to become the first sustained period of economic growth since World War II that fails to offer a prolonged increase in real wages for most workers. That situation is adding to fears among Republicans that the economy will hurt vulnerable incumbents in this year’s midterm elections even though overall growth has been healthy for much of the last five years. The median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation. The drop has been especially notable, economists say, because productivity — the amount that an average worker produces in an hour and the basic wellspring of a nation’s living standards — has risen steadily over the same period. As a result, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation’s gross domestic product since the government began recording the data in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960’s.
Gore Lashes Out at Media Consolidation
Vice President Al Gore said Sunday ever-tighter political and economic control of the media is a major threat to democracy. Former US Vice President Al Gore waves at the media as he arrives at the International Television festival in Edinburgh, Scotland Sunday Aug. 27, 2006 to talk about his award-winning American TV network "Current TV". (AP Photo/Ian Jacobs) Gore said the goal behind his year-old "interactive" television channel Current TV was to encourage the kind of democratic dialogue that thrives online but is increasingly rare on TV. "Democracy is under attack," Gore told an audience at the Edinburgh International Television Festival. "Democracy as a system for self-governance is facing more serious challenges now than it has faced for a long time. [Bruce Peterson, in Traverse City, has been fighting for years to keep the news show, Democracy Now, regularly airing on the community access channel TCTV2. In the end, he lost this battle with station managment.]
New age nuclear
What if we could build a nuclear reactor that offered no possibility of a meltdown, generated its power inexpensively, created no weapons-grade by-products, and burnt up existing high-level waste as well as old nuclear weapon stockpiles? And what if the waste produced by such a reactor was radioactive for a mere few hundred years rather than tens of thousands? It may sound too good to be true, but such a reactor is indeed possible, and a number of teams around the world are now working to make it a reality. What makes this incredible reactor so different is its fuel source: thorium.
Confronting the Truth about Torture
Despite mounting evidence, Americans remain willfully blind to the government's barbaric treatment of terror suspects. Now, human rights groups and religious organizations are using testimonies from victims to awaken moral revulsion at what is being done in our name.
Wanted: Scarier Intelligence
August 25, 2006—The last thing this country needs as it heads into this election season is another attempt to push the intelligence agencies to hype their conclusions about the threat from a Middle Eastern state. That’s what happened in 2002, when the administration engineered a deeply flawed document on Iraq that reshaped intelligence to fit President Bush’s policy. And history appeared to be repeating itself this week, when the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, released a garishly illustrated and luridly written document that is ostensibly dedicated to “helping the American people understand” that Iran’s fundamentalist regime and its nuclear ambitions pose a strategic threat to the United States. It’s hard to imagine that Mr. Hoekstra believes there is someone left in this country who does not already know that. But the report obviously has different aims. It is partly a campaign document, a product of the Republican strategy of scaring Americans into allowing the G.O.P. to retain control of Congress this fall. All in all, this is a chilling reminder of what happened when intelligence analysts told Vice President Dick Cheney they could not prove that Iraq was building a nuclear weapon or had ties with Al Qaeda. He kept asking if they really meant it — until the C.I.A. took the hint. The nation cannot afford to pay the price again for politicians’ bending intelligence or bullying the intelligence agencies to suit their ideology.
The Most Trusted Names in News (Really!)
There are still some hero-journalists out there standing in front of the schoolyard bullies and fighting the good fight. Facts are facts, they are not to be spun into the illusion of fair and balanced. There are still some hero-journalists out there standing in front of the schoolyard bullies and fighting the good fight.
Wal-Mart Licks Its Wounds
Wal-Mart blames its troubles on the unions it has worked so hard to bar from its stores. They're so touchy, those unions! They take offense just because the Wal-Mart orientation for new hires includes a 12-minute video on the evils of unions, portraying them as little better than extortionists. They get all bent out of shape every time a union sympathizer is fired by Wal-Mart on some trumped-up charge like using profanity or being discourteous to customers. They jump up and down when Wal-Mart is caught making its associates work overtime for no pay, or locking them into the stores at night. Wal-Mart is even priced out of the reach of its own employees. I was surprised, in my brief stint as a Wal-Mart associate, that our ladies' wear was too costly for many of my co-workers. (In Nickel and Dimed, I told the story of a $7 an hour associate who could not afford a $7 polo shirt of the kind we were required to wear.) When the American majority can't buy the very goods they manufacture or sell, that system is cruising for a bruising. [Editor: Consumers are slowly waking up to the real problems communities face as the result of Walmart stores.]
Abolish the TSA, Save Lives
The Transportation Security Administration exists not to prevent terrorists from bringing down planes but to prevent passengers from realizing the government is powerless over such catastrophes. Aside from making travellers even more miserable than they already are, what has the recent restriction on liquids, fluid and gels on airlines accomplished? Terrorists financed by Osama bin Laden first experimented with explosive elixirs 12 years ago in the hopes of blowing up planes, yet we've survived thousands of flights with liquids and gels since. Now the TSA wants us to believe that the mouthwash, mascara and medicines lying dormant in millions of carry-on bags have suddenly become lethal weapons. Toothpaste that posed no threat Tuesday was Public Enemy No. 1 Thursday, though uncounted tubes lurked in overhead bins this last decade.
How to Make Sure Children Are Scientifically Illiterate
With their changing political tactics, creationists are an excellent example of evolution at work. Creation science evolved into intelligent design, which morphed into “teaching the controversy,” and after its recent court loss in Dover, Pa., and political defeats in Ohio and Kansas, it will no doubt change again. The most recent campaign slogan I have heard is “creative evolution.” But perhaps more worrisome than a political movement against science is plain old ignorance. The people determining the curriculum of our children in many states remain scientifically illiterate.
Public Stoning: Not Just for the Taliban Anymore
Christian reconstructionists believe democracy is heresy and public school is satanic -- and they've got more influence than you think. Along with lesser lights of the religious far right who spoke at American Vision's "Worldview Super Conference 2006," Herb Titus and Gary North called for nothing short of the overthrow of the United States of America. Titus, former dean of TV preacher Pat Robertson's Regent University law school, has led the legal battle to plant the Ten Commandants in county courthouses across the nation. North, an apostle of the creed called Christian Reconstructionism, is one of the most influential elders of American fundamentalism. "I don't want to capture their (mainstream Americans') system. I want to replace it," fumed North to a cheering audience. North has called for the stoning of gays and nonbelievers (rocks are cheap and plentiful, he has observed). When you see the South Dakota legislature outlaw abortions, the Reconstructionist agenda is at work. The movement's greatest success is in Christian home schooling, where many, if not most, of the textbooks are Reconstructionist-authored tomes. Moreover, the Reconstructionists are the folks behind attacks on science and public education. They're allied with proselytizers who have tried to convert Air Force cadets -- future pilots with fingers on nuclear triggers -- into religious zealots. Like the communists of the 1930s, they exert tremendous stealth political gravity, drawing many sympathizers in their wake, and their friends now dominate the Republican Party in many states.
Email Fraud to Watch Out For:
Michigan Schools & Government Credit
The purpose is to obtain the victim’s credit card number, CVV Code, Expiration Date, and ATM PIN Code through a spoofed URL. The spammed email message pretends to be a legitimate Michigan Schools and Government Credit Union verification email. The said message instructs the user to click a fake link that opens to a malicious Web site. Several different messages are now circulating on the internet with the same purpose of obtaining information from you to be used illicitly. Delete the message without opening. If you do open the message do NOT open or click on any link contained within the message and/or answer any of the questions pertaining to your account. You may contact the real Credit Union by visiting: www.msgcu.org
Will the UN Stop This War?
Naiman is national coordinator of the new D.C.-based advocacy group Just Foreign Policy, which issued a statement today saying: "Under international law the UN Security Council is supposed to act to stop crimes against peace but [it] cannot do so in this case because it is paralyzed by the veto of the Bush administration, which opposes an immediate cease-fire and is backed in this position by the United Kingdom. However, under resolution 377, 'Uniting for Peace,' the UN General Assembly can act when the Security Council fails to do so. This procedure has been used 10 times in the history of the UN, often at the initiative of the United States."
A view of the truth: Spinoza's faith in reason
Baruch Spinoza understood the powerful tendency in each of us toward developing a view of the truth that favors the circumstances into which we happened to have been born. Self-aggrandizement can be the invisible scaffolding of religion, politics or ideology. Against this tendency we have no defense but the relentless application of reason. Reason must stand guard against the self-serving false entailments that creep into our thinking, inducing us to believe that we are more cosmically important than we truly are, that we have had bestowed upon us - whether Jew or Christian or Muslim - a privileged position in the narrative of the world's unfolding.
America Struggles With Its Own Evangelical Taliban
At this late stage of the Bush rapture, American evangelism is a lot like the Exxon Valdez: Massive, sloshing with oily energy and not a little drunk on its power as it steers through hazards of its own designs. The moment evangelicals began tearing down the church-state wall, the rubble became their shoals. The wreck will be ugly. It will take years to mend because, as one of their own, Minnesota's Rev. Gregory Boyd, recently put it: "Never in history have we had a Christian theocracy where it wasn't bloody and barbaric. That's why our Constitution wisely put in a separation of church and state." Meanwhile, too much damage is being done by policies keyed to the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" not to have lasting consequences abroad and at home. Bush advisor and leader of the Texas based Christian Zionist movement, John Hagee: "The end of the world as we know it is rapidly approaching. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad -- the best is yet to be." In other words, war is a good thing, rapturous and necessary and sealed with a kiss from God, as the world edges toward Armageddon. The Bush presidency is that evangelical view's self-fulfilling prophesy. Militants for Hezbollah, Hamas and the Taliban speak the very same language. Only the roles are reversed.
Tax Cheats Called Out of Control
So many superrich Americans evade taxes using offshore accounts that law enforcement cannot control the growing misconduct, according to a Senate report that provides the most detailed look ever at high-level tax schemes. Among the billionaires cited in the report are two Texas businessmen, Charles and Sam Wyly, who the Center for Public Integrity found in 2000 were the ninth-largest contributors to President Bush. Cheating now equals about 7 cents out of each dollar paid by honest taxpayers, as much as $70 billion a year, the report estimated.
Petro Profits Pour in at BP
Profits are pouring in at the BP Group. At the same time, the company announced a profit of $7.27 billion in the second quarter, 30 percent more than the comparable period a year ago and the equivalent of more than $55,000 a minute. Sky-high crude oil prices are the main reason BP’s coffers are overflowing, and analysts expect a string of similarly robust figures from the other global oil giants as they report their second-quarter results in the next few days, which will probably prompt a new round of calls by politicians to impose windfall profits taxes on the industry.
A July Harris Poll reported that 50 percent of Americans still believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when Bush invaded that country, and that 64 percent of Americans still believe that Saddam Hussein had strong links with Al Qaeda. The Chinese leaders and intellectuals with whom I was meeting were incredulous. How could a majority of the population in an allegedly free country with an allegedly free press be so totally misinformed? The only answer I could give the Chinese is that Americans would have been the perfect population for Mao and the Gang of Four, because Americans believe anything their government tells them. Americans never check any facts. Who do you know, for example, who has even read the Report of the 9/11 Commission, much less checked the alleged facts reported in that document. The two co-chairmen of the 9/11 Commission Report, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, have just released a new book, “Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission.” Kean and Hamilton reveal that the commission suppressed the fact that Muslim ire toward the US is due to US support for Israel’s persecution and dispossession of the Palestinians, not to our “freedom and democracy” as Bush propagandistically claims. Kean and Hamilton also reveal that the US military committed perjury and lied about its failure to intercept the hijacked airliners. The commission even debated referring the military’s lies to the Justice Department for criminal investigation. Why should we assume that these admissions are the only coverups and lies in the 9/11 Commission Report? Governments lie all the time--especially governments staffed by neoconservatives whose intellectual godfather, Leo Strauss, taught them that it is permissible to deceive the public in order to achieve their agenda.
The fraud of primitive authenticity
Why, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, does popular culture portray primitives as peace-loving folk living in harmony with nature, as opposed to rapacious and brutal civilization? Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel, which attributes civilization to mere geographical accident, made a best-seller out of a mendacious apology for the failure of primitive society.
Hedge funds are investment pools for the rich -- and they're causing serious harm to our country's economy.
An Imperial Defeatist
Supposedly, the U.S. military has expanded its presence and combat role around the world to foster democracy and prevail in the President's War on Terror; and, without a doubt, many brave Americans have risked their lives -- and some have died - in the pursuit of these noble objectives. But this is not, I believe, what has motivated Messrs. Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld in their pursuit of global supremacy. Rather, they appear driven by a messianic determination to impose American dominance on large swaths of the planet and to employ this hegemonic presence to gain control over global energy supplies. In attempting to do so, they are bankrupting the nation and exposing American citizens to a higher, not lower, risk of terrorist attack.
US Has No Idea of 'War on Terror' Cost
Watchdog The US government has lost track of the cost of the "war on terror" ....which is now taking up tens of billions of dollars a year in Iraq and Afghanistan, a Congress watchdog warned. ...neither DoD (Defence Department) nor the Congress reliably know how much the war is costing and how appropriated funds are being used or have historical data useful in considering future funding needs. Government Accountability Office report The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said that neither the Defence Department nor Congress had any accurate idea how much the war has cost
Study Finds Worst Performance in Conservative Christian Schools
The federal Education Department reported Friday that, in reading and math, children attending public schools generally do as well as or better than comparable children in private schools. The report, which compared fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math scores from nearly 7,000 public schools and more than 530 private schools in 2003, also found that conservative Christian schools lagged significantly behind public schools. The report separated private schools by type, and found that among private-school students, those in Lutheran schools did best, while those in conservative Christian schools did worst. ....
Allen mum on campaign reforms, contributions
State Sen. Jason Allen, the Legislature's leading fundraiser, won't comment on campaign finance reforms proposed by members of his political party and won't reveal who contributed more than $75,000 to two accounts he created.
Paralyzed Man Uses Thought To Operate Computer
Imagine being able to run a computer through thought. That's the future, and that's exactly what a paralyzed man did using implanted electrodes in his head. The device is called the Braingate sensor and involves a tiny silicon chip with 100 electrodes implanted into the part of the brain responsible for movement or Cerebellum. The activity of the cells are recorded and then sent to a computer for processing.
Damning Report on U.S. Human Rights
- Rights advocacy groups in the United States are calling for the United Nations to take note of the gross human rights violations being committed in their country. A coalition of human and civil rights organizations Monday sent a 465-page report to a key United Nations committee, which details ongoing abuses of human rights across the United States. ...the coalition [of human and civil rights organizations] accused the U.S. State Department of trying to sidestep the UN process on the question of ongoing human rights abuses in the United States and described its behavior as 'a systematic pattern' of ignoring international human rights obligations.
An Apology by Conservative Talk Show Host Doug McIntyre
There’s nothing harder in public life than admitting you’re wrong. By the way, admitting you’re wrong can be even tougher in private life. If you don’t believe me, just ask Bill Clinton or Charlie Sheen. But when you go out on the limb in public, it’s out there where everyone can see it, or in my case, hear it. I was wrong to have voted for George W. Bush. I believe that George W. Bush has taken us down a terrible road. I don’t believe the Democrats are offering an alternative. That means we’re on our own to save this magnificent country. The United States of America is a gift to the world, but it has been badly abused and it’s rightful owners, We the People, had better step up to the plate and reclaim it before the damage becomes irreparable.
In Struggle For Women's Freedom, Which Side is US On?
Across the globe right now the epochal struggle is not between Islam and the West, but between those societies in which women are free and those in which they are repressed. Social and political control over women's bodies, however, extends well beyond the Islamic world. In the developing world, it has been a truism for a generation that the surest indicators of a country's social and economic progress are the educational levels of its women and women's ability to limit their pregnancies. During the 20th century, the control of women's reproductive lives marked the most despicable regimes. Among the first things the Nazis did upon seizing power in 1933 was to outlaw abortion. Family planning centers were closed, access to contraception made increasingly difficult and abortion criminalized. By 1943 the Nazis made abortion a capital offense. States that are repressive enough to control women's contraceptive options are just as likely to control other aspects of childbearing. So as Ohio and Louisiana rush to join South Dakota in attempting to criminalize abortion, we should ask: Which side are we on? Are we among those societies who permit women the full measure of their freedom or with those who control women's bodies in the service of a larger state agenda?
World Scientists Unite to Attack Creationism
The world's scientific community united yesterday to launch one of the strongest attacks yet on creationism, warning that the origins of life were being "concealed, denied or confused". Some schools in the US hold that evolution is merely a theory while the Bible represents the literal truth.
Physics Professor Finds Thermate (Building Demolition Explosives) in WTC Samples
Based on chemical analysis of WTC structural steel residue, a Brigham Young University physics professor has identified the material as Thermate. Thermate is the controlled demolition explosive thermite plus sulfur. Sulfur cases the thermite to burn hotter, cutting steel quickly and leaving trails of yellow colored residue. Prof. Steven Jones, who conducted his PhD research at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and post-doctoral research at Cornell University and the Los Alamos Meson Physics Facility, has analyised materials from WTC and has detected the existence of thermate, used for "cutting" the steel support columns, as evident in the photo below.
I feel a draft coming: Universal National Service Act of 2006 HR 4752 IH
109th CONGRESS, 2d Session—To provide for the common defense by requiring all persons in the United States, including women, between the ages of 18 and 42 to perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes.
Bush 'planted fake news stories on American TV'
Federal authorities are actively investigating dozens of American television stations for broadcasting items produced by the Bush administration and major corporations, and passing them off as normal news. Some of the fake news segments talked up success in the war in Iraq, or promoted the companies' products.
Make Big Oil Pay Back Its Profits
It's time to get some of those billions back from the oil companies -- let's establish a windfall profits tax and put an end to sweeheart tax breaks.
WARNING: Use Microsoft Word in Safe Mode
Use Microsoft Word in safe mode to protect against targeted zero-day attacks. That's the advice from Microsoft's security response team to counter known attacks against a serious code execution vulnerability in the widely used word processing program.
Inside Donnie Rumsfeld's Orwellian Pentagon
Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al. are deliberately and determinedly striving to impose the AntiAmerica on our own land -- an unrecognizable America of supreme executive authority, constant surveillance of the citizenry, secret government and suppression of dissent. Their chief weapon is fear. They feverishly wave the bloody flag of 9/11, shouting that the citizenry must surrender liberties or be attacked again by The Madmen, that we mustn't question authority for this only encourages The Madmen, that all government operations must be cloaked in a dark veil of secrecy to keep The Madmen off balance, and that executive and police power must drastically expand to protect us from The Madmen. The Madmen hate our freedoms, the Bushites screech, so in order to defeat The Madmen, our freedoms must be suspended … for as long as it takes. Not only is that grotesquely absurd, it is entirely un-American.
Where Are They Now
President Bush has not fired any of the architects of the Iraq war. In fact, a review of the key planners of the conflict reveals that they have been rewarded – not blamed – for their incompetence.
The NSA's Political Fiction
Here's what disturbs me: in light of recent revelations that the National Security Agency has been illegally collecting vast databases of information about every single phone call made in the United States since late 2001, only 53 percent of US citizens polled by Newsweek think the government has gone too far in its efforts to stop terrorism in spite of the fact that the Bush administration has cited no evidence to justify snooping on innocent people's telephone calls.
Mr. Ice Cream Sticks It to the Pentagon
Ben Cohen has built a grassroots organization of half a million to fight the obscene size of the U.S. military budget -- and he uses Oreo cookies to make the case.
The Hijacking of Jesus
Christianity in America has become nearly synonymous with rightwing fanaticism, conservative politics, and--courtesy of Mel Gibson--a brutally sadistic version of the religious experience. But millions of devout Christians, like longtime journalist and author Dan Wakefield, are appalled by the religious right's distortion of their faith, which only three decades ago stood largely for peace equality, healing, and compassion for society's outcasts.
The Immigrant Gold Rush
Rights and Liberties: Private prison companies are salivating after the billions in public money that will be spent on new superjails to hold immigrants for trial or deportation.
The Rove Indictment Story
We know that we have now three independent sources confirming that attorneys for Karl Rove were handed an indictment either late in the night of May 12 or early in the morning of May 13. We know that each source was in a position to know what they were talking about. We know that the office of Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald will not confirm, will not deny, will not comment on its investigation or on our report. We know that both Rove's attorney Robert Luskin and Rove's spokesman Mark Corallo have categorically denied all key facts we have set forth. We know we have information that directly contradicts Luskin and Corallo's denials. We know that there were two network news crews outside of the building in Washington, DC that houses the offices of Patton Boggs, the law firm that represents Karl Rove. We know that the 4th floor of that building (where the Patton Boggs offices are located) was locked down all day Friday and into Saturday night. We know that we have not received a request for a retraction from anyone. And we know that White House spokesman Tony Snow now refuses to discuss Karl Rove - at all.
Time for U.S. to Form an "Army of Mercenaries"?
Little known to the American public, there are some 50,000 private contractors in Iraq, providing support for the U.S. military, among other activities. So why not go all the way, hints Ted Koppel in a New York Times op-ed on Monday, and form a real "mercenary army"?
Hold the Corrupt Jerks Accountable
Looking at the wreckage of the Bush administration leaves one with the depressed query, "Now what?" The only help to the country that can come from this ugly and spectacular crack-up is, in theory, things can't get worse. This administration is so discredited it cannot talk the country into an unnecessary war with Iran as it did with Iraq. In theory, spending is so out of control it cannot cut taxes for the rich again; the fiscal irresponsibility of the Bushies is already among its lasting legacies.
Americans Don't Like President Bush Personally
The president's public perception problem is not only about his dismal job performance, but also his striking lack of personal favorability.
A drop in his personal popularity, as measured by several public polls, has shadowed the decline in Bush's job-approval ratings and weakened his political armor when he and his party need it most.
[Yet Another] 9/11 Story That Got Away In 2001, an anonymous White House source leaked top-secret NSA intelligence to reporter Judith Miller that Al Qaida was planning a major attack on the United States. But the story never made it into the paper.
The Scariest Predators in the Corporate Jungle
The world's oil, gas and mining industries account for nearly two-thirds of all violations of human rights, environmental laws and international labor standards, according to a soon-to-be-released United Nations study. The food and beverages industry is a distant second, followed by apparel, footwear, and the information and communications technology sector. "The extractive industries - oil, gas and mining - also account for most allegations of the worst abuses, up to and including complicity in crimes against humanity."
US Secretly Backing Warlords in Somalia
More than a decade after U.S. troops withdrew from Somalia following a disastrous military intervention, officials of Somalia's interim government and some U.S. analysts of Africa policy say the United States has returned to the African country, secretly supporting secular warlords who have been waging fierce battles against Islamic groups for control of the capital, Mogadishu.
Bush's Immigration Speech Is Bad Policy, Bad Politics
Let's get a couple of things straight about the immigration speech President George W. Bush unreeled Monday night from the Oval Office. His address had nothing to do with actual border policy and everything to do with domestic electoral politics.
Battle Cry for Theocracy
If you've been waiting to get alarmed until the Christian fascist movement started filling stadiums with young people and hyping them up to do battle in "God's army," wait no longer. In recent weeks, BattleCry, a Christian fundamentalist youth movement, has attracted more than 25,000 people to mega-rally rock concerts in San Francisco and Detroit, and this weekend it plans to fill Wachovia Stadium in Philadelphia. For an idea of the kind of religious government these "christians" have in mind for you and I as U.S. citizens ... Interns are forbidden to listen to secular music, watch R-rated movies or date; men can’t use the Internet unsupervised; the length of women’s skirts is regulated. The logic behind this is what drives Islamic fundamentalists to shroud women in burkhas! As the Bush regime wages unjust wars and conducts torture in our names, as it leaves New Orleans to rot and drags us closer each day to a theocracy in which abortion and birth control are banned, science is pulled under and gays are persecuted, it is no wonder that young people are searching for meaning and morality. However, the truth is that youth will not find the morality they need in a stadium listening to Ron Luce preach about religious war and intolerance.
Intelligent Thought: Science Versus The Intelligent Design Movement
The media chatter provoked by the intelligent-design movement has made collective fools of large segments of the American public. Educated Americans are dumbstruck by the attempt of the state of Kansas to officially redefine science to include the supernatural. Europeans cannot believe that such an argument should be raging in the twenty-first century—and in the United States, of all places, the seat of our most advanced technology and a leader in so many areas of scientific research.
Big Brother's Secret Calling Plan
Disclosure of the NSA's illegal database of Americans' telephone records has brought outraged demands for an investigation -- and for legal action against the government. Just a day after a new CBS/Times poll found his approval ratings at all-time lows -- and as low as ever registered for any president -- Bush faces the gravest crisis of his presidency. In a long list of impeachable offenses, from lying about Iraqi WMD to prisoner torture to issuing Executive Orders declaring his plans to disregard provisions of new laws, Bush's creation of a purely domestic spying program is the most flagrant.
US in Secret Gun Deal
The Pentagon has secretly shipped tens of thousands of small arms from Bosnia to Iraq in the past two years, using a web of private companies, at least one of which is a noted arms smuggler blacklisted by Washington and the UN. The 120-page Amnesty report, focusing on the risks from the privatisation of state-sponsored arms sales worldwide, says arms traffickers have adapted swiftly to globalisation, their prowess aided by governments and defence establishments farming out contracts.
How Would a Patriot Act?
In an excerpt from his new book, Greenwald explores how fear-mongering became the most potent political tool in Bush's arsenal.
Are You Ready for the Energy Crash?
While most of us are preoccupied with the astronomical price of gasoline, a far bigger energy catastrophe is brewing that will make pricey gas seem like a walk in the park. It's "peak oil" -- the term for the period after which global oil and natural gas demand outstrips supply and the prices for these commodities become too volatile for modern society to function.
Americans have a bleaker view of the country's direction than at any time in more than two decades, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. Sharp disapproval of President Bush's handling of gasoline prices has combined with intensified unhappiness about Iraq to create a grim political environment for the White House and Congressional Republicans. About two-thirds said the country was in worse shape than it was when he became president six years ago. Vote to Impeach Bush Now
The Hard Truth About Suicide Bombers
Though many Americans assume otherwise, most suicide bombers are not poor, violent Muslims, as explained in this special report from MIT's Center for International Studies.
Your argument makes no sense
U.S. Circuit Judge Harry T. Edwards didn't mince words when dealing with government lawyers from the Federal Communications Commission who were trying to justify why they've been evesdropping, without a warrant, into thousands of Internet communications. Judge Edwards called thier arguments "gobbledygook" and "nonsense" while addressing the serious breach of civil liberties caused by the snooping.
Bush Clears the Way for Corporate Domination
Antonia Juhasz, author of 'The Bush Agenda,' explains what Bush really means when he says he wants to spread freedom around the world. [Excerpt:
Bush believes that 'free trade' and 'free markets' are synonymous with 'freedom' -- and he's willing to implement this theory with military force.]
The Real Oil Story
Oil is pretty slippery stuff. The press is playing up $3 a gallon gasoline, record oil company profits, and the $400 million retirement package for Exxon’s former CEO. But these stories are trivial compared to the oil story they have ignored all along. The war in Iraq. It’s an oil war. And you don’t have to take my word for it. Read former Republican strategist Kevin Phillips new book, “American Theocracy: the Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century.” Bush, Cheney, Rice and other key Bush players have impeccable oil industry credentials. When they came to the White House, so did the oil industry. Cheney, Rumsfeld and others also have strong ties to the Project for a New American Century, a neo-conservative organization which unabashedly advocates U.S. world supremacy through pre-emptive war, regime change for governments they don’t like, and permanent military bases in the Persian Gulf to secure U.S. interests – foremost among them oil. U.S. world domination requires not only access to oil but control of it – a tall order since 65% of the world’s oil reserves lie within the boundaries of a handful of Arab countries.
Why Bush Won't Fix the Gas Price Problem
It's not complicated: Bush is an oilman, his father is an oilman, and all the people who gave him money that put him in the White House are oilmen. [Fact: The Bush administration itself represents the first time in history that the president, vice president and secretary of state are all former energy company officials. In fact, the only other U.S. president to come from the oil and gas industry was Bush's father. In 2005 ExxonMobil recorded the single most profitable year of any corporation in world history.]
Mexico, NAFTA and the GOP
Dec. 16, 2005, is a day that will live in infamy in the Hall of Fame of Unintended Republican Consequences. A bunch of the guys were just noodling around in the House of Representatives in Washington, see, kind of fooling around with the idea that they might get some traction out of immigration as a hot-button issue. The old hot buttons have kind of cooled off here lately, with people up in arms about Iraq, oil, health insurance and all this other stuff that makes the boys say, "Who me?" Where's a good divisive social issue when you need one? They weren't that far wrong — some variation on the race card usually works. Trouble is, they played the card, tried to make every illegal worker in the country a felon and woke up the Sleeping Brown Giant, instead.
Goss in the Cold
Porter Goss's sudden announcement of his departure from the CIA is puzzling. The former Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee and ex-CIA case officer offered no reason for vacating the CIA directorship, and there was no successor ready to go. News of his resignation came during a brief joint appearance at the White House by George W. Bush and Goss on Friday afternoon (the traditional time slot for putting out bad news). And--whaddayaknow--no pesky questions from journalists. The CIA beset with problems, Americans dying overseas--why would Goss give up this crucial post at a critical time before a replacement was in the wings? What sort of patriot is this? This has led to the obvious speculation: was it the hookers?
Pro-American = Anti-BushCo
I (and every single other individual on this planet working for peace and justice) am often accused of being "anti-American" for dissenting against my feral government that has gone wild with lawlessness and greed; even though dissent from our government is as American as apple pie. Some people believe that if one is critical of the Bush criminal regime, then one is anti-American. I steadfastly believe that to be anti-BushCo means being pro-American; pro-life; and most of all: pro-peace.
America's Worst Governors
Bush might be the worst president ever, but some Republican governors are giving him a run for his money.
Fossil discovery fills a piece of evolutionary puzzle
Scientists hailed the long-sought discovery of the transition from sea to land. In the story of life on earth, these fish fossils mark what is considered one of the major transitions, along with such milestones as the first multicellular organism or the first warm-blooded animal. The find, scientists said, provides the clearest picture yet of this moment, as well as clues to how such major shifts in evolution happen. The fossils are especially interesting, they said, because they show the beginning of the basic human body plan: Over the course of eons, Tiktaalik's front fins became the human arm and hand. ''It is an extraordinary discovery," said Philippe Janvier, a leading paleontologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris who was not involved in the find. ''It fits perfectly in the tree of life."
Homeland Insecurity Department
Sheriff's detectives never know what they're going to find when they fish for sexual predators by creating bogus profiles on adult Internet sites. Prosecutors prepared Wednesday to extradite Brian Doyle -- a senior public information officer in the Homeland Security Department in Washington who faces 23 felony counts of using a computer to seduce a 14 year old girl and transmitting harmful materials to a minor.
American Children Getting Too Fat For Car Safety Seats
Over 250,000 American children under the age of 6 are too heavy for car-safety seats designed for their age-group. As the American obesity epidemic gains pace and spreads through all age groups, the number of children under 6 who are obese is growing at an alarming rate. Standard safety-seats are designed for children who weigh less than 40 pounds. Most of the children who were found to be over the limit were three years old. For a three-year-old to weigh over that amount he/she is either incredibly tall or seriously overweight.
Former top judge says US risks edging near to dictatorship
Sandra Day O'Connor, a Republican-appointed judge who retired last month after 24 years on the supreme court, has said the US is in danger of edging towards dictatorship if the party's rightwingers continue to attack the judiciary.
Gays Needed To Reduce Number Of Children Needing Homes
A new report on adoption concludes that "there is no child-centered reason to prevent gays and lesbians from becoming adoptive parents", and recommends that they be utilized more extensively to provide permanent, loving homes for children living in state care across the country. The report, prepared for the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute - a nonpartisan policy organization that deals in adoption issues - says that "adoption by gays and lesbians holds promise as an avenue for achieving permanency for many of the waiting children in foster care." There are currently about 120,000 available for adoption across the country.
Walgreens sued for ‘inappropriate comments’ in patient database
Three women have filed separate lawsuits against drug store chain Walgreen Co. after unflattering comments about them were allegedly entered by pharmacy workers into prescription records kept in the company’s customer databases (Comments in the records include ‘CrAzY!!’ and ‘She’s really a psycho!!’).
Offshore outsourcing cited in data leak
State employees are being warned that their personal data may have been compromised when a human resources system was improperly subcontracted to a company in India (108,000 current and former state employees may be affected by the data breach).
Enough of the D.C. Dems
Mah fellow progressives, now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of the party. I don’t know about you, but I have had it with the D.C. Democrats, had it with the DLC Democrats, had it with every calculating, equivocating, triangulating, straddling, hair-splitting son of a bitch up there, and that includes Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Oh, for God's Sake! FBI Can't Afford E-mail?
A quarter of local agents have no access to external e-mail. What is this, 1985? This is another example not only of the ineptness of the FBI's senior management in handling both information and IT; it's a major failure to support the agents in the field who are doing the pick-and-shovel work of anti-terrorism and law enforcement work. [Editor: So much for homeland security]
U.N. Creates New Watchdog Over U.S.
A running gag at the United Nations is that whenever the United States takes a defiant stand against an overwhelming majority of the 191 member states, there are only three countries that predictably vote with Washington most of the time -- whether it is right or dead wrong. No country with such a record of torture, secret detentions, 'extraordinary renditions,' rejection of the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC), denial of due process and generations of capital punishment, even for minors and the mentally disabled -- all as a matter of official policy -- should be allowed to serve on the new Human Rights Council. Israel and the two tiny Pacific Island nations of Palau and the Marshall Islands -- were the only member states to stand in unison with the United States when it rejected a resolution calling for the creation of a new Human Rights Council.
Smoking gun for Big Bang found
Physicists say they have the smoking gun that shows the universe went through extremely rapid expansion in the moments after the Big Bang, growing from the size of a marble to a volume larger than all of observable space in less than a trillion-trillionth of a second.
US wants to end gray wolf protection
... Fewer than 1,000 gray wolves remained in the contiguous United States when the ... 3,020 in Minnesota, 425 to 455 in Wisconsin and 405 in Michigan
"Loyalty in character means absolute obedience that does not question the results of the order nor its reasons, but rather obeys for the sake of obedience itself. Such obedience is an expression of heroic character when following the order leads to personal disadvantage or seems even to contradict one's personal convictions." --Rudolf Hess, 25 February 1934, "The Oath to Adolf Hitler"
Democracy 101, Media Lapdogs, and the Freedom to Dissent: A State of the Union
At Overland High School in Colorado, a student heard his teacher make a request to ponder today's politics and be open to thoughtful analysis. At this the young student was upset; did he ask the teacher about it? Did his parents follow traditional protocol - calling the teacher and, if still unhappy, calling the teacher's immediate supervisor, or, if that's unproductive, taking it to the school's chief administrators? No, this young man knew the best way to confront, intimidate, and attempt to stop a teacher's questioning. He taped portions of the class and gave the recording to a conservative talk radio host, unleashing the recent media controversy over free speech. While overt expressions of patriotism are welcomed in classrooms around America, dissent is not. Not even dissent in the form of two-sided, thoughtful analysis of the current state of politics in this nation.
Is the end of the Internet upon us?
I'm starting to wonder if the one-Internet-for-all paradigm we've enjoyed so far is about to break and if we can expect a future where we all use smaller, private, for-profit or nonprofit, corporate, and/or political Internets according to our various locations and interests. Let me put it this way: it's all too likely that George W. Bush didn't misspeak when he mentioned "the Internets." The military has probably already built an alternate Internet--if not more than one, and it's looking all too possible that the Net itself is about to fracture into a mess of cliques, privately owned networks, and glorified Usenets.
Senate Approves Budget, Breaking Spending Limits
The budget decision at the end of a marathon day of voting followed a separate 52-to-48 Senate vote to increase the federal debt limit by $781 billion, bringing the debt ceiling to nearly $9 trillion. The move left Democrats attacking President Bush and Congressional Republicans for piling up record debt in their years in power. "It is very disturbing, and it gives me a whole lot of heartburn," said Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina, who attributed the additional spending to political anxiety. "They want to go and say they are helping people, but we are not helping people when we are selling out their future."
Dollar Dropping Around the World
Middle Eastern anger over the decision by the US to block a Dubai company from buying five of its ports hit the dollar yesterday as a number of central banks said they were considering switching reserves into euros. Syria responded to US sanctions against two of its banks by confirming plans to use euros instead of dollars for its external transactions. The remarks combined to knock the dollar, which fell against the euro, pound and yen yesterday as analysts warned other central banks might follow suit.
Bush Approval Falls to 33%
In the aftermath of the Dubai ports deal, President Bush's approval rating has hit a new low and his image for honesty and effectiveness has been damaged.
Peer outreach workers target at-risk youth
TRAVERSE CITY — Jayme Weber has worked to help pay her family's bills since she was 8 years old. Now 17 and a junior at Traverse City Central High School, Weber says her experience helps her relate to other kids with problems. So she's using it to reach out to homeless and at-risk youth wherever they are, from pizza parlors to skate parks.
US Abuses, Sense of Irony Missing
How can it now be seen as anything more than a sham when the Bush administration consistently breaks our own laws -- from illegal wiretaps at home to renditions abroad -- yet still tries to portray itself as the protector of freedom, democracy and liberty for all?
Exporting Homophobia The Bush administration's anti-gay rights policies are maddening in the United States, but their implications abroad are much more devastating.
Nigeria: The Next Quagmire?
If U.S. troops go to Africa, it won't be for a humanitarian intervention; it will be to protect American oil interests in the troubled Niger Delta.
Just another night on the town at donors' expense
Elected officials in southeast Michigan have grown so accustomed to dining, drinking, golfing, traveling, entertaining and job-hunting on someone else's dime that they no longer recognize how unusual their freeloading lifestyle appears to the pay-as-you-go schnooks who elected them. The only ethical dilemma most officeholders acknowledge is deciding whether a particular night on the town is more appropriately charged to taxpayers or campaign donors. Reaching for their own wallets seems never to have occurred to them.
God is a three letter word Different people hold different definitions of this English word. Most people do not realize they hold different definitions of this word and argue about this word as though this word itself has any meaning aside from what people define it to mean and believe it to mean.
Second Parent Adoption
CARE is working with Social Work students at the University of Michigan to make sure our state legislature passes House Bill 5399, which would allow any unmarried couple to jointly adopt a child. If you and your partner could benefit from second parent adoption, we need your help.
The Olympics We Missed
The Winter Olympics are to NBC what icebergs were to the Titanic. Jingoistic, condescending coverage missed the real drama.
Bush in India
Plan One. The Indian government tried very hard to have Bush address parliament, but A not inconsequential number of MPs threatened to heckle him. Plan Two was to have Bush address the masses from the ramparts of the magnificent Red Fort, where the Indian prime minister traditionally delivers his Independence Day address. But the Red Fort, surrounded by a predominantly Muslim population was considered a security nightmare. So now we're into Plan Three: President George Bush speaks from Purana Qila, the Old Fort. Ironic, isn't it, that the only safe public space for a man who has recently been so enthusiastic about India's modernity should be a crumbling medieval fort? Since the Purana Qila also houses the Delhi zoo, George Bush's audience will be a few hundred caged animals and an approved list of caged human beings, who in India go under the category of "eminent persons." They're mostly rich folk who live in our poor country like captive animals, incarcerated by their own wealth, locked and barred in their gilded cages, protecting themselves from the threat of the vulgar and unruly multitudes whom they have systematically dispossessed over the centuries.
Cheney Urges Americans to Save More
Too often, workers are living paycheck to paycheck and are not saving sufficiently, Cheney said. Last year, Americans' personal savings rate dropped to its lowest point since the Great Depression. The dismal state of savings comes as a big wave of baby boomers will soon start retiring. [Editor: Americans have gone from having a net savings rate around 10 percent in the 1970s to a minus .5 percent in 2005 - meaning that they're going into debt or selling off their assets just to maintain their lifestyle. At slave wages, what exactly are most American's supposed to save?]
Incomes Fall, Hunger Worsens as Bush Says 'We're Doing Fine'
The income situation appears to be worsening. Last year proved to be the worst one on record for inflation-adjusted income, said Jared Bernstein, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. ''Wages and compensation for the average worker are lagging inflation despite strong productivity growth,'' Bernstein said, citing figures from last month's ''Employment Cost Index'' report from the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics. ''Averaging over all of 2005, real wages fell 0.9 percent--the lowest annual result on record--while compensation's essentially unchanged rate from 2004 provides its worst year on record as well,'' Bernstein added in an analysis of the BLS report. The term ''compensation'' refers to wages plus benefits.
Bush Ignores Katrina Warnings
The Associated Press released secret transcripts and video footage showing President Bush being personally briefed the day before Hurricane Katrina hit land. The predictions he heard were shockingly precise and accurate—including the failure of the levees. He knew exactly what was coming. President Bush didn't ask a single question during the briefing. In the next two days he campaigned, attended birthday parties and played guitar while the worst natural disaster in American history killed over 1,300 people and displaced hundreds of thousands.
Restoring The Public Trust
Bill Moyers is President of the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy. This is the prepared text of his remarks on an 8-day speaking trip in California on the issue of money and politics.
Average American Family Income Declines
February 23, 2006—Average incomes after adjusting for inflation actually fell from 2001 to 2004, and the growth in net worth was the weakest in a decade, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday. Economists said the weakness in the most recent period was understandable given the loss of 2.7 million jobs from early 2001 through August of 2003, when the country was struggling with sizable layoffs caused by the recession, the terrorist attacks and corporate accounting scandals. The gap between the very wealthy and other income groups widened during the period.
There are children standing here, Arms outstretched into the sky, Tears drying on their face. He has been here.
Cheney's Buckshot Reader
The saga of Dick Cheney's accidental shooting of Harry Whittington on a Texas ranch continues to unfold. Here is a roundup of some of the most interesting information about the shooting that's been swirling around in the press and the blogs
What Happened To My Country?
I grew up an American, and proud of it. I was taught in school about the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and Bill of Rights. My brother was a Merchant Marine Officer during the war and had three ships sunk beneath him. We beat the Nazis, the Fascists and the Japanese and made the world safe for democracy. After the war came Nuremberg and the assurance that things like the holocaust could never happen again. The Marshal Plan helped to rebuild the shattered portions of the world. America, Democracy, compassion and help. It was good to be an American. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were sad, but necessary to end the war and save lives, we were told. Yes, the United States was a nation of great wealth. A nation that took care to see to the freedom and well being of its citizens, and welcomed the downtrodden foreigner to the new land. It was a nation that pioneered the exploration of space and gloried in the advance of science. I was proud to be an American!
If you got fame, don't fret about blame
That we have double standards for "important" (or just famous) people is not surprising. All the same, two recent examples of this special treatment afforded to chosen ones -- Dick Cheney and Britney Spears -- seem particularly egregious. Yes, Dead-Eye Dick and Mrs. Federline have a lot in common.
Bush seeks money for wars
The war request submitted Thursday would lift military spending in Iraq and Afghanistan to $115 billion this year and nearly $400 billion since the fighting began in March 2003. The war in Iraq now costs about $5.9 billion a month, while Afghanistan operations cost about $900 million per month.
House Democrats Fail in Bid for NSA Spying
In a partisan debate going to the heart of the balance of power in American government, House Democrats overseeing the judiciary sought vehemently, but ultimately unsuccessfully, for a resolution asking the U.S. attorney general to turn over documents relating to National Security Agency's warrantless electronic eavesdropping program.
The End of the Internet?
The nation's largest telephone and cable companies are crafting an alarming set of strategies that would transform the free, open and nondiscriminatory Internet of today to a privately run and branded service that would charge a fee for virtually everything we do online.
Deer muscle may carry brain-wasting prions: study
The infectious proteins that cause brain-wasting disease have been found in the leg muscles of infected deer, a laboratory experiment shows. Scientists say there is no evidence people have caught the disease from infected deer.
The Real State of Our Union
I went to college in the 1960s and studied government. One of the things I remember discussing was a quote by Lord Acton: Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely. It's been many years since I graduated college, but I finally understand what Lord Acton meant. Republicans today control the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House. They have absolute power, and it has corrupted their Party and led to the culture of corruption that we see now in Washington.
Medicare Drug Bill Tied to Abramoff
The Medicare Prescription Drug Act, which has caused so much confusion and havoc since January 1, was a product of a corrupt legislative process. When the bill passed, we knew that Democratic members had been denied opportunities to offer amendments and that the vote had been held open for hours in the dead of night to twist arms. Afterwards, we learned that crucial cost estimates were illegally withheld from Democratic members; that the key Administration official responsible for writing the bill was simultaneously negotiating a high-paying job representing drug and insurance companies; and that the Republican chairman responsible for steering the legislation through Congress subsequently accepted a lucrative job in the pharmaceutical industry. We further learned about a Republican member who had alleged that a bribe had been offered him on the House floor.
US Widely Condemned for Human Rights Violations
The United States government has been widely condemned for violating basic human rights in the fight against terrorism. Since 2001, the Bush administration has authorized interrogation techniques widely considered torture, including by its own Department of State in its annual human rights reports. It has held an unknown number of detainees as "ghosts" beyond the reach of all monitors, including the International Committee of the Red Cross. And it has become the only government in the world to seek legislative sanction to treat detainees inhumanely.
The Shot Heard Round the World
Dick Cheney has never been your normal politician. He has never seemed as eager to please, as needy for votes and approval and headlines as, say, Bill Clinton. Cheney can seem taciturn, self-contained, a little gloomy; in recent years, his manner has been not just unwelcoming but stand-offish. This is not to say, however, that he is entirely modest and self-effacing, or that he does not crave power as much as or more than any office-seeker. This, after all, is a man who, in conducting a search for George W. Bush's vice president, picked himself.
Defiant Cheney tries to contain shooting fallout
His decision to submit to an interview was an effort to contain the political fallout on him and the White House. But it did not hide the tensions within the Administration since the accident on Saturday, and in a sign of disagreement the White House signalled that President George Bush wished that Mr Cheney had made the news public more quickly. Mr Cheney said he had drunk "a beer at lunch" on Saturday but that the accident occurred hours later. "Nobody was under the influence" of alcohol, he said, and no one intended to blame Mr Whittington. Mr Cheney became defiant when questioned about the way he chose to disclose the shooting. [Editor: There are NO hunting “accidents”. There are only irresponsible and careless hunters.]
Open season in Texas
OK, it's probably wrong to make fun of Vice President Dick Cheney's unhappy birdshot assault on one of his friends during a hunting trip. Life was so much easier for the White House when Cheney was just cussing out leading Democrats on the floor of the Senate, wasn't it?
Cheney's Errant Fire
Vice President Cheney's episode of quail-hunting gone awry is a metaphor for the Bush administration - shoot first, blame someone else later for your faulty aim. In this case, Team Cheney blamed the victim, a 78-year-old hunting companion named Harry Whittington. First, the CIA supposedly claimed there were WMDs where none existed. Then poor ol' Harry Whittington showed up where he wasn't supposed to be. Will no one bring the vice president accurate information on which he can pull a trigger? Cheney surrogate Mary Matalin said the veep "didn't do anything he wasn't supposed to do." Um, except for that part about shooting another man. Here, the veep can't even bring himself to acknowledge publicly that he put another human being in the hospital. Hunting experts agree: The ultimate responsibility lies with the hunter to be certain of his target before pulling the trigger. It's a lesson that every 12-year-old hunter should learn.
Defiant Cheney tries to contain shooting fallout
His decision to submit to an interview was an effort to contain the political fallout on him and the White House. But it did not hide the tensions within the Administration since the accident on Saturday, and in a sign of disagreement the White House signalled that President George Bush wished that Mr Cheney had made the news public more quickly. Mr Cheney said he had drunk "a beer at lunch" on Saturday but that the accident occurred hours later. "Nobody was under the influence" of alcohol, he said, and no one intended to blame Mr Whittington. Mr Cheney became defiant when questioned about the way he chose to disclose the shooting. [Editor: There are NO hunting “accidents”. There are only irresponsible and careless hunters.]
Open season in Texas
OK, it's probably wrong to make fun of Vice President Dick Cheney's unhappy birdshot assault on one of his friends during a hunting trip. Life was so much easier for the White House when Cheney was just cussing out leading Democrats on the floor of the Senate, wasn't it?
How Cheney turned accident into a disaster
Vice President Dick Cheney turned a hunting accident into a public relations disaster by maintaining his business-as-usual approach to his life: that it's nobody's business. Cheney's refusal to announce his involvement in the shooting underscored his secretiveness to the point of defiance about his public and private life. 'I am appalled by the whole handling of this,'' Marlin Fitzwater, who served the elder President Bush as White House press secretary, told Editor & Publisher magazine Tuesday.
Doctors won't risk surgery to remove pellet
By Jeremy Manier. The birdshot pellet that caused the victim of Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident to suffer a minor heart attack likely will stay lodged in the surface of the 78-year-old man's heart. Futhermore, Harry Whittington, who was about 30 yards away when he was shot by Cheney, could be at risk for lead poisoning from the shotgun pellets.
Hunter Shot By Vice President Cheney Suffers Heart Attack
The hunting accident in which Vice President Dick Cheney shot a fellow hunter in the face, neck and chest had become the butt of endless late-night-television jokes since the story broke on Sunday. But when the 78-year-old victim, Texas lawyer Harry Whittington, suffered a heart attack early Tuesday caused by birdshot lodged in his heart, the situation took on a renewed urgency, and once again pointed out the glaring disconnect between the White House and the secretive vice president. Whittington accompanied Cheney on the hunting excursion, in which the men drove to an area where captive quail were released for them to shoot. According to official accounts, Whittington was behind Cheney when the vice president turned to take aim at a bird and shot the lawyer in the face, neck and chest. Cheney's medical team assisted Whittington on site before he was transferred to a local hospital. The district attorney in Kleberg County, Carlos Valdez, said a fatality would invite a new report from the local sheriff and, most likely, a grand jury investigation. Under the law, even an accidental hunting death can result in criminal charges, and Cheney could be charged with negligence should Whittington die as a result of his injuries.
Cheney under fire as victim worsens
Dick Cheney's hunting incident is threatening to become a full-blown crisis for the Bush Administration after the man Mr Cheney shot had a heart attack caused by a shotgun pellet lodged in his heart. As Mr Whittington lay in intensive care, with the possibility his health could deteriorate, the avalanche of jokes — on television, in newspapers, on the net — gave way to a sense that Mr Cheney's handling of the incident had damaged him and the Bush Administration.
Man Shot By Vice President Dick Cheney Suffers Heart Attack
The 78-year-old lawyer wounded by Vice President Dick Cheney in a hunting accident suffered a heart attack Tuesday after a shotgun pellet in his chest traveled to his heart, hospital officials said. Harry Whittington was immediately moved back to the intensive care unit. Hospital officials said they were not concerned about the up to 200 pieces of lead birdshot that might still be lodged in Whittington's body.
Spy Agency Data after Sept. 11 Led FBI to Dead Ends
In the anxious months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the National Security Agency began sending a steady stream of telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and names to the F.B.I. in search of terrorists. The stream soon became a flood, requiring hundreds of agents to check out thousands of tips a month. But virtually all of them, current and former officials say, led to dead ends or innocent Americans.
Dear Internal Revenue Service:
Enclosed you will find my 2005 tax return showing that I owe $3,407.00 in taxes. Please note the attached article from the USA Today newspaper, dated 12 November, wherein you will see the Pentagon (Department of Defense) is paying $171.50 per hammer and NASA has paid $600.00 per toilet seat.
I am enclosing four (4) toilet seats (valued @ $2,400) and six (6) hammers valued @ $1,029), which I secured at Home Depot, bringing my total remittance to $3,429.00. Please apply the payment of $22.00 to the "Presidential Election Fund," as noted on my return. You can do this inexpensively by sending them one (1) 1.5" Phillips Head screw (see aforementioned article from USA Today newspaper detailing how H.U.D. pays $22.00 each for 1.5" Phillips Head Screws). One screw is enclosed for your convenience.
It has been a pleasure to pay my tax bill this year, and I look forward to paying it again next year.
A Satisfied Taxpayer
The New Fascism
Say "fascism" to anyone you meet, and you will be greeted with the boilerplate response of the blithely overconfident: such a thing cannot happen here. This is the United States of America, land of the free and home of the brave. Ours is a nation of laws, of checks and balances, of righteousness and decency. Our laws and traditions stand as a bulwark against the rise of totalitarian madness. It cannot happen here. Thus we are indoctrinated into the school of our own assumed greatness. "We must disenthrall ourselves," said Abraham Lincoln, and so we must, because it can happen here. It is already happening.
Wal-Mart ruling shakes businesses
For labor and its supporters, Maryland's law could help trim the ranks of people with no health insurance, reduce spiraling costs for public health programs and create a more level playing field between employers that offer good benefits and those that don't. An internal company memo released by Wal-Mart executives last year following a New York Times report disclosed that the low-cost retailer has a higher-than-average percentage of workers on public-assistance programs.
Bush White House Served with Indictments
A people's tribunal has served both the Counsel to the President Harriet Miers and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales with indictments charging the President and his administration with war crimes and crimes against humanity
Proof Bush Deceived America
James Risen’s State of War: the Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration, may hold bigger secrets than the disclosure that President George W. Bush authorized warrantless eavesdropping on Americans. Risen’s book also confirms the most damning element of the British Cabinet Office memos popularly called the “Downing Street memos;” namely, that “the intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy.” The result is that it is no longer credible to maintain that the failures in the Iraqi intelligence were the product of a broken intelligence community. The Bush administration deliberately fabricated the case against Iraq, lying to Congress and the American people along the way.
Bush v. Reality
2006 is sure to be the year of living dangerously -- for the Bush administration and for the rest of us. In the wake of revelations of warrantless spying by the National Security Agency, we have already embarked on what looks distinctly like a constitutional crisis (which may not come to a full boil until 2007). In the meantime, the President, Vice President, Secretaries of Defense and State, various lesser officials, crony appointees, acolytes, legal advisors, leftover neocons, spy-masters, strategists, spin doctors, ideologues, lobbyists, Republican Party officials, and congressional backers are intent on packing the Supreme Court with supporters of an "obscure philosophy" of unfettered Presidential power called "the unitary executive theory" and then foisting a virtual cult of the imperial presidency on the country.
Fire retardant accumulating in Great Lakes sediment, fish
An old chemical used as a fire-retardant coating for wires and computer cables has been found in Great Lakes sediment and game fish, surprising federal regulators. But the health effects of Dechlorane Plus on humans and aquatic life are unclear. This compound has never been detected in the environment before.
Fork Replaces Donkey as Democratic Party Symbol
Liberals are being routed. They can change the lineup, the manager, the coach, but the losing streak never ends. By and large, Republicans aren't even bothering to send in their A team anymore. Alito can start wearing his iPod to the hearings. By the end of the hearings, he'll be addressing the senators as "dude." For fun, we ought to replace all the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee with "American Idol" contestants (assuming they wouldn't object to serving on a committee that includes a degenerate like Teddy Kennedy).
About “We Are Michigan”: a Note to Our Readers
We have recently been accused of running a smear campaign against President Bush. It is important for readers to understand we do not make the news, we report the news (often sent by our readers). We don't make this stuff up. President Bush and his neocon cronies, including supporters such as Jack Abramoff, are doing a capable job of self destructing without any help from us. If you don't want to believe in the fallibility of the reigning regime, that is your choice. Perhaps you need to wake up and turn off Rush Limbaugh and the FOX News propaganda network and learn what the rest of the world already knows about the U.S. The United States is a Republic - a representative government. We expect to be represented by honest, ethical and capable individuals. When our elected officials (regardless of political party affiliation) fall short of their responsibilities to "we the people" who elected them, sentient American's have an obligation to demand accountability and to put our nation back on course as a beacon of enlightened democracy. This web site is operated by volunteers as an open forum to exchange ideas and information about creating safe and livable community's for all! All opinions expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and may or may not be the opinion of the host (the “We Are Michigan” web team), our volunteers or affiliated with the cities represented within. This web site is not aligned with any political party or corporate interest. We endeavor to present the unvarnished truth about the world we are living in, and encourage our readers to use this site as a tool in their quest for understanding. Finally, we ask our readers to take action, because"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." - Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.
Former Ottawa official sentenced
The former chief financial officer of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians was sentenced to three years in federal prison after being convicted in a scheme to pilfer more than a half million dollars from the tribe.
Daniel Broton, 45, of Hesperia, was also ordered Tuesday to pay $508,000 in restitution, assistant United States Attorney Michael MacDonald said.
Lip service won't end corruption in Washington
"Cronies behaving as cronies." ... "Indifference to right and wrong." ... "A system of corruption." ... "Clean up this mess." ... Those aren't the strident blasts of a Democratic hack attacking the excesses of extremists in the Republican Party. No, that's a call for GOP cleansing from none other than Newt Gingrich.
Small Mouse Brings Down Big House
An Albuquerque man who threw a mouse onto a pile of burning leaves could only watch in horror as it ran into his house and set his home ablaze. "I had some leaves burning outside, so I threw it in the fire, and the mouse was on fire and ran back at the house," he was quoted as saying by AP.
Exploiting MLK Jr.
King is no different than other major historical figures: everyone wants a piece of his fallen legend to puff up their importance.
A Hurricane of Differences
Hurricane Katrina: African Americans and whites perceived the government's failed response to Katrina in drastically different ways.
An Imperial Presidency Based on Constitutional Quicksand
The U.S. Constitution was written after a war of independence from what the colonists believed was a despotic king. The document was designed to strictly limit federal power, vis-à-vis the powers of the states and the people. Within the constricted federal realm, the framers intended to make the decentralized Congress the dominant branch and gave that body many more enumerated powers than the president or the judiciary. It is no coincidence that the article of the Constitution setting forth the powers of the legislative branch is listed first and is by far longer than Article II, which lists the responsibilities of the executive branch, and Article III, which covers the judiciary.
The Religious Right Faces its Purgatory
There were signs of a backlash against the religious right even before the Rev. Pat Robertson declared that God may have caused Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke to punish him for giving up the Gaza Strip.
What Numbers Aren't Saying About the Economy Most Live In
The disclaimer appears ahead of most movies formatted for television: "This film has been edited for content and modified from its original version to fit your TV." A similar disclaimer should apply to the Bush administration infomercials drugging up newscasts about the economy. In black and white, the recent surge of statistical exuberance looks good indeed. Four million jobs created in the past two years. Unemployment below 5 percent. Inflation relatively in check. Still cheap interest rates. Economic growth between 3 percent and 4 percent, better than every Western economy but Denmark's. "It's getting pretty hard for the critics to make the case that the tax cuts weren't good for the economy," Vice President Dick Cheney told workers at a Harley-Davidson plant in Kansas City last week. Actually, it's never been easier to show why the tax cuts were closer to the worst thing for the economy, if it's ordinary Americans' well-being you're worried about (as opposed to shareholder comforts).
UN Bodies Survive US Funding Threats
The United States, a major funder of the United Nations and its myriad agencies, has a longstanding notoriety for exercising its financial clout to threaten U.N. bodies refusing to play ball with Washington. Last month, the administration of President George W. Bush threatened to hold up the U.N. budget for 2006-2007 until and unless member states agreed to U.S.-inspired management reforms, including the appointment of a chief operating officer mandated to run the world body along the lines of a U.S. corporation.
Stern's first pay broadcast is a whopper
NEW YORK, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- Shock jock Howard Stern's first 5 1/2 hour broadcast on Sirius Satellite Radio Monday contained an estimated 129 expletives according to Family Media Guide auditors. The organization issues ratings to music, movie, TV, video games and other projects to consumers by gauging sex and violence, said in a news release it has developed "The Howard Stern Shockulator" -- a quantified tabulation of Stern's use of profanity and sexual content on his new uncensored program.
The 'Fin de Regime'?
The U.S.S.R. went bankrupt after spending 40% of national income on the military. President George Bush's administration will spend a staggering $419.3 billion US on the military this fiscal year. An additional $130 billion US has been budgeted in 2006 for the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. That's $10.8 billion a month -- 40% above previous estimates -- and somewhat more than the monthly cost of the Vietnam War at its height. Add to this huge sum an estimated $1.5 billion in monthly secret expenditures in Iraq and Afghanistan by CIA and Pentagon intelligence. Astoundingly, U.S. military spending in 2006 will equal the rest of the world's total combined military expenditures. A smell of "fin du regime" hangs over Washington, just as it did over the last days of decaying Soviet oligarchy. An out-of-touch leader presides over a lost foreign war and a morass of influence peddling and bribery, as the secret police struggle to keep a lid on growing dissent.
The Rise of America's New Enemy
"Why are you here?" asked the man sitting opposite me in the packed jeep-bus that chugged up the hill. Like so many in Latin America, he appeared old, but wasn't. Without waiting for my answer, he listed why he supported President Chavez: schools, clinics, affordable food, "our constitution, our democracy" and "for the first time, the oil money is going to us." It is raw witness like this, which I have heard over and over again in Venezuela, that smashes the one-way mirror between the west and a continent that is rising. By rising, I mean the phenomenon of millions of people stirring once again, "like lions after slumber/In unvanquishable number", wrote the poet Shelley in The Mask of Anarchy. To the man in the bus, and to Beatrice whose children are being immunised and taught history, art and music for the first time, and Celedonia, in her seventies, reading and writing for the first time, and Jose whose life was saved by a doctor in the middle of the night, the first doctor he had ever seen, Hugo Chavez is neither a "firebrand" nor an "autocrat" but a humanitarian and a democrat who commands almost two thirds of the popular vote, accredited by victories in no less than nine elections.
The Death of Freedom
The rights of ordinary people to speak out against an unjust war and atrocities unleashed in their name are being crushed. Fascism is at the door. Who else will fight it?
A News Revolution has Begun
The Indian writer Vandana Shiva has called for an "insurrection of subjugated knowledge". The insurrection is well under way. In trying to make sense of a dangerous world, millions of people are turning away from the traditional sources of news and information and to the world wide web, convinced that mainstream journalism is the voice of rampant power. The great scandal of Iraq has accelerated this.
IRS tracked taxpayers’ political affiliation
As it hunted down tax scofflaws, the Internal Revenue Service collected information on the political party affiliations of taxpayers in 20 states. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a member of an appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the IRS, said the practice was an “outrageous violation of the public trust” that could undermine the agency’s credibility.
Go, Sam, Go!
It's ready, set, interrogate for Alito and Team Bush
Alito's bad luck
The latest Supreme Court nominee has to face a Senate newly emboldened to challenge the imperial Bush presidency. And his paper trail gives them plenty of ammunition to do it.
Radical Christian right sees judge as saviour of religious America
Conservative religious leaders want to follow their success in the elections of 2002 and 2004 by winning a fight over a Supreme Court nominee and defeating their Democratic and liberal adversaries. The Alito nomination, which polls show a majority of voters support, is opposed by many.
Making every vote count
For years many of us have called for a national conversation about what it means to be a multiracial democracy. We have enumerated the glaring flaws inherent in our winner-take-all form of voting, which has produced a steady decline in voter participation, under-representation of racial minorities in office, lack of meaningful competition and choice in most elections, and the general failure of politics to mobilize, inform and inspire half the eligible electorate.
Alito Nomination Puts Democracy at Risk
In the wake of even more revelations of unchecked presidential power, many are looking to our Supreme Court as the ultimate arbiter of what a chief executive can get away with. This makes the next nomination that much more critical. Should Bush be permitted to install another vote to consolidate his power grab?
The Pimping of the Presidency
Four months after he took the oath of office in 2001, President George W. Bush was the attraction, and the White House the venue, for a fundraiser organized by the alleged perpetrator of the largest billing fraud in the history of corporate lobbying. In May 2001, Jack Abramoff’s lobbying client book was worth $4.1 million in annual billing for the Greenberg Traurig law firm. He was a friend of Bush advisor Karl Rove. He was a Bush “Pioneer,” delivering at least $100,000 in bundled contributions to the 2000 campaign. He had just concluded his work on the Bush Transition Team as an advisor to the Department of the Interior. He had sent his personal assistant Susan Ralston to the White House to work as Rove’s personal assistant. He was a close friend, advisor, and high-dollar fundraiser for the most powerful man in Congress, Tom DeLay. Abramoff was so closely tied to the Bush Administration that he could, and did, charge two of his clients $25,000 for a White House lunch date and a meeting with the President. From the same two clients he took to the White House in May 2001, Abramoff also obtained $2.5 million in contributions for a non-profit foundation he and his wife operated.
Casino Jack [Abramoff] reveals Washington for sale
Political corruption in America has a face: the face of Jack Abramoff. Looking every inch the villain in trenchcoat and fedora, the once mighty Republican lobbyist this week pleaded guilty in an influence-peddling case that exposes a culture of corruption at the heart of Washington. This is for US politics what the collapse of Enron was for US business: a moment when the slow advance of unacceptable practices is laid bare before the public. These conditions are hostile not only to the health of American democracy but to the future of American enterprise as well, after all corporate America helped to create this monster.
Ritter to testify at Bush Crimes Commission
On January 20, 21, and 22, an unprecedented line-up of witnesses will present their evidence before the International Commission on Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration. Scott Ritter is a former United Nations weapons inspector. Mr. Ritter has been the most outspoken critic of US policy towards Baghdad. The Indictments against Bush.
Abramoff's Crimes Sign of Deeper Cesspool
What we are now witnessing is the death throes of the GOP 'revolution.' "When this is all over, this will be bigger than any [government scandal] in the last 50 years, both in the amount of people involved and the breadth to it," Stan Brand, a former U.S. House counsel who specializes in representing public officials accused of wrongdoing, told Bloomberg News. "It will include high-ranking members of Congress and executive branch officials."
The DeLay-Abramoff Money Trail
The U.S. Family Network, a public advocacy group that operated in the 1990s with close ties to Rep. Tom DeLay and claimed to be a nationwide grass-roots organization, was funded almost entirely by corporations linked to embattled lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to tax records and former associates of the group.
Team Bush Neocons scrambling to avoid incrimination from Abramoff scandal
President George W. Bush and senior Republican lawmakers moved Wednesday to dump thousands of dollars in campaign donations from Jack Abramoff, the former lobbyist, hastily distancing themselves as he pleaded guilty to two more criminal counts under his agreement with prosecutors. After months of insisting that there was nothing wrong with his alliance with Abramoff, with whom he traveled repeatedly overseas, DeLay decided to return $15,000 in donations that flowed from the Republican operative.
FBI Patents Domestic Spying
The ACLU publicly and indignantly blasted President Bush and the FBI after it got documents that showed the FBI was back in the domestic spy business. FBI targets were peace, environmental and animal rights groups. The FBI has always been in the domestic spy business, and the tactics that it uses against today's activists are no different than those it used to hammer radicals in years past. During the 1960s, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover kicked into high gear the supersecret and blatantly illegal counterintelligence COINTELPRO program that targeted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and black and anti-war protest leaders, as well as thousands of innocent Americans. The results were immediate and devastating.
Are You Being Tracked?
Big business thinks Radio Frequency Identification tags are great. Privacy-rights advocates fear the tiny chips will invite corporations and the government into our personal lives.
Windows flaw spawns flurry of attacks
A flaw in Microsoft's Windows Meta File (WMF) has spawned dozens of attacks since its discovery last week, security experts warned on Tuesday. The attacks so far have been wide-ranging, the experts said, citing everything from an MSN Messenger worm to spam that attempts to lure people to click on malicious websites.
A New Year's Message from Ramsey Clark(Former U.S. Attorney General)
The year 2005 brought new hardships but also new hope to the people of the world. Hope because the Bush administration has shown itself before the world to be lawless, cruel and brutal but also inept and incompetent. In Iraq the Pentagon has shown it is incapable of repressing a growing resistance from the Iraqi people. Meanwhile the government has been caught running torture camps inside Iraq and outsourcing torture around the world.
Protect Your Ears: Limit iPod Use
The ever-popular earbuds used with many iPods and other MP3 players may be more stylish than the bigger and bulkier earmuff-type headphones, but they may also be more damaging
Rootkit fiasco shows sterner laws needed
The Sony Rootkit controversy, in which the world's second largest record label rendered hundreds of thousands of computers vulnerable to hackers by inserting faulty copy-protection software into CDs, was one of the top technology law blunders of 2005.
Oil Prices Surge and May Keep Going Up
The year ended in fitting fashion for the petroleum world Friday: Oil futures prices jumped higher. So did gasoline, natural gas and heating oil contracts. And consumers can expect more of the same in 2006.
Padilla Challenges Presidential Powers
Lawyers said they had petitioned the Supreme Court to examine the U.S. president's powers, citing "the danger of an unchecked Executive Branch." "The government's actions highlight the need for this court to grant certiorari to preserve the vital checks and balances" implicit in the U.S. Constitution, the petition said. Judge J. Michael Luttig questioned why the Bush administration used one set of facts before the court for 3 1/2 years to justify holding Padilla without charges but used another set to convince a grand jury in Florida to indict him last month, the news agency reports.
Police-State Powers Are Our Biggest Threat
The Pentagon has already expanded its domestic-surveillance activity beyond any previous time in history. It breaks into homes, wiretaps and eavesdrops at will, and builds secret dossiers on citizens while arguing that there can be no judicial review of its activities. President George W. Bush argues that there can be no judicial review of any decision he makes when he decides whether an alien or an American citizen is or is not an enemy combatant. Congress supports this; so does the judiciary. The expansion of Presidential powers and the expansion of police powers is the single most important issue facing this country. It is safe to say the new Supreme Court and a majority of Congress (both Democrats and Republicans) are prepared to give Mr. Bush a blank check. On Nov. 15, Carl Levin, the liberal Democratic Senator from Michigan and an outspoken opponent of the war in Iraq, joined his Republican counterpart from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham, in supporting legislation validating the President’s Alice-in-Wonderland legal system and the expansion of his police powers. The Senate vote was 79 to 16 in favor.
Big Brother Bush
The first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. Thirty-five years ago, Richard Milhous Nixon, who was crazy as a bullbat, and J. Edgar Hoover, who wore women's underwear, decided some Americans had unacceptable political opinions. So they set our government to spying on its own citizens, basically those who were deemed insufficiently like Crazy Richard Milhous.
The Return of Total Information Awareness - Bush Asserts Dictatorial "Inherent" Powers
Once a regime has revealed a predilection for spying on its own people, the histories of East Germany and Richard Nixon teach us, they never quit voluntarily. The cyclical clicks that appeared on my phone line after 9/11 corroborated my belief that federal spy agencies were using the War on Terrorism as a pretext for harassing their real enemies: liberals and others who criticized their policies. As did the phony Verizon employee tearing out of my building's basement, leaving the phone switching box open, when I demanded to see his identification. He drove away in an unmarked van. So I was barely surprised to hear the big news that Bush had ordered the National Security Agency, FBI and CIA to tap the phones and emails of such dangerously subversive radical Islamist anti-American terrorist groups as Greenpeace, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the American Indian Movement and the Catholic Workers, without bothering to apply for a warrant. The Bush White House is flipping ahead to the next page in its Hitler playbook, the part about exploiting a state of perpetual war to stifle internal dissent on a vast scale.
British satellite up for battle in space with America's GPS
The Giove-A is the first satellite in the EU's £2.4 billion Galileo navigation programme, which will eventually employ about 30 satellites for mostly civilian uses ranging from guiding drivers to search-and-rescue. Galileo will end Europe's reliance on the GPS system, which is ultimately controlled by the US military.
Galloway to Senate
If the world had listened to Kofi Annan, whose dismissal you demanded, if the world had listened to President Chirac who you want to paint as some kind of corrupt traitor, if the world had listened to me and the anti-war movement in Britain, we would not be in the disaster that we are in today. Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported, from the theft of billions of dollars of Iraq's wealth. "Have a look at the real Oil-for-Food scandal. Have a look at the 14 months you were in charge of Baghdad, the first 14 months when $8.8 billion of Iraq's wealth went missing on your watch. Have a look at Haliburton and other American corporations that stole not only Iraq's money, but the money of the American taxpayer.
Virus Poses as Leaked MSN Messenger
Unsuspecting Windows users who install the phony MSN Messenger Version 8 "beta" are actually installing an IM worm that spreads to their IM contacts, and connects their computer to a remote control "bot" network run by malicious hackers.
NSA Spied on U.N. Diplomats in Push for Invasion of Iraq
Despite all the news accounts and punditry since the New York Times published its Dec. 16 bombshell about the National Security Agency's domestic spying, the media coverage has made virtually no mention of the fact that the Bush administration used the NSA to spy on U.N. diplomats in New York before the invasion of Iraq. That spying had nothing to do with protecting the United States from a terrorist attack.
A Shocking Contempt for the Law
Although he likes to talk about the God-given blessings of liberty, President Bush should be judged by his actions, not his words - and his actions show a man who has violated the civil liberties of Americans and must be checked. Bush's power grab runs counter to the Constitution's elaborate system of checks and balances, which requires most significant presidential actions to be approved by Congress or the courts - even on crucial questions of war and peace under emergency conditions.
George Dismisses Constitution, Tramples On Rights Of All Americans
The American people suffer and endure as we enter the sixth year of George W. Bush's failed presidency, an increasingly dangerous and threatening time for our resilient, but hardly invincible, republic. We are not alone. People around the world -- victims of our government's aggression, arrogance, greed, indifference, and aversion to the rule of law -- share in our suffering. Bush is a global disaster.
The Constitution Does Not Apply
Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country: Damn the inconvenience, full speed ahead. On his own, without consulting the Congress, the courts or the people, the president decided to use secret branches of government to spy on the American people. He is, of course, using 9-11 to justify his actions in this, as he does for everything else -- 9-11 happened so the Constitution does not apply, 9-11 happened so there is no separation of powers, 9-11 happened so 200 years of experience curbing the executive power of government is something we can now overlook. The president is not above the law. This is the same pattern we have seen with Bush when it came to the Geneva Conventions for handling prisoners and to using torture. Not only does he consider himself above the law, he has surrounded himself with people who keep inventing perverse readings of the Constitution to justify him.
“Peace on Earth” Means “No More War” The story goes that when the nonviolent Jesus was born into abject poverty to homeless refugees on the outskirts of a brutal empire, angels appeared in the sky to impoverished shepherds singing, “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth!” That child grew up to become, in Gandhi’s words, “the greatest nonviolent resister in the history of the world,” and was subsequently executed by the empire for his insistence on justice.
Added Ticktock of the Clock Restarts Time Debate
Some experts think the leap second should be abolished because the periodic, but random, adjustment of time imposes unreasonable and perhaps dangerous disruptions on precision software applications including cell phones, air traffic control and power grids.
A Schwarzenegger backlash in Austria
Sometime over the Christmas holidays, the authorities of Graz, a classically pretty Austrian town, took down the sign that for the past seven years has identified the local 15,000-seat sports arena as the Arnold Schwarzenegger Stadium. In Graz, where the death penalty is seen as a medieval atrocity, was swift and angry. The very nature of the debate revealed something very European about the collective consciousness, how a relatively small place like Graz, certainly a place with no military might or diplomatic power, wants to play a role as a sort of moral beacon, waging the struggle for the good.
Ford’s Brand Damage May Be Long Lasting
Los Angeles, CA – A recently conducted nationwide online survey has found that despite Ford’s recent reversal in its marketing stance towards the GLBT community, the damage may already be done. When polled as to what brands of automobiles were owned or leased by GLBT consumers, Ford came in number one at 15.78%, with Honda and Toyota trailing a close 2nd at 14.31%. However, when the Ford owners were then asked if they would purchase or lease another vehicle by Ford, 65.52% indicated they would not, based upon the perceived anti-GLBT policies by the company.
Bush Administration Was Denied Spy Authority
In Washington, former Senate Minority leader Tom Daschle has disclosed previously unknown details that challenge the Bush administration's claim it has legal authority to eavesdrop on Americans and foreign nationals in the US. The White House says the authority was implicitly granted in the joint Congressional resolution authorizing the use of force passed shortly after 9/11. But in today's Washington Post, Daschle claims the Bush administration requested, but was denied, the authority it now claims it was granted. STORY DEVELOPING...
Extra second to get 2006 off to a leap start
Scientists are delaying the start of 2006 by the first "leap second" in seven years, a timing tweak meant to make up for changes in the Earth's rotation. The adjustment will be carried out by adding an extra second to atomic clocks worldwide at the stroke of midnight "Coordinated Universal Time," the widely adopted international standard, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology revealed. The length of Earth`s day is increasing by about two milliseconds per century.
US Confirms Monitoring of Muslim Sites
US News and World Report caught the holiday-focused nation off guard Friday with breaking news that the federal government has, since 9/11, run a far-reaching, top secret program that monitored radiation levels at Muslim sites. For 30 years, NEST undercover teams have combed suspected sites looking for radioactive material, using high-tech detection gear fitted onto various aircraft, vehicles, and even backpacks and attaché cases. No dirty bombs or nuclear devices have ever been found - and that includes the post-9/11 program.
Spying and Lying
Every week brings new evidence of White House attempts to delegitimize the press's role as a watchdog of government abuse. t's always a fight to find out what the government doesn't want us to know, and this Administration and its footsoldiers have used every means available to undermine journalists' ability to exercise their First Amendment function of holding power accountable.
Bush to face tough questions over Patriot Act, spy orders
Washington -- Congress' five-week extension of controversial Patriot Act provisions coupled with likely congressional hearings into President Bush's order for warrantless eavesdropping on American citizens looks to produce pointed debate early next year. The debate over civil liberties intensified this week when a federal judge resigned from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court in Washington, apparently in protest over the Bush-ordered eavesdropping by the National Security Agency that skirted his court.
Bush's illegal spying program defies the Constitution
Since Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush has waged a worldwide war on terror. Unfortunately, the president and his administration have also waged an aggressive - and illegal - assault on individual liberties and the very backbone of the U.S. Constitution.
Pentagon's 'Black Budget' Veils Contracting Shenanigans
Could a defense company stuff a Pentagon contract with enough overhead to hide bribes to a congressman? Easy enough, say veteran Washington insiders. The Pentagon has tens of thousands of contracts to monitor and a shrinking force of auditors, making oversight difficult. What's more, the super-secret part of the defense budget -- the classified, or "black" budget -- hides some $28 billion in spending.
The Constitution in Crisis; The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Coverups in the Iraq War by US House Judiciary Committee
This Minority Report has been produced at the request of Representative John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee. He made this request in the wake of the President's failure to respond to a letter submitted by 122 Members of Congress and more than 500,000 Americans in July of this year asking him whether the assertions set forth in the Downing Street Minutes were accurate. Mr. Conyers asked staff, by year end 2005, to review the available information concerning possible misconduct by the Bush Administration in the run up to the Iraq War and post- invasion statements and actions, and to develop legal conclusions and make legislative and other recommendations to him.
Judge Resigns from Surveillance Court
Dec 21, 2005 — The Bush administration found itself on the defensive again Wednesday over the issue of domestic spying as part of the war on terrorism. A federal judge resigned from a special security court, apparently to protest President Bush's decision to authorize surveillance of Americans suspected of ties to terrorists. The revelation of domestic spying has sparked outrage among civil liberties activists.
The warning signs for the crackdown on the web have been with us for over a decade. The Clipper chip controversy of the 90s, John Poindexter's Total Information Awareness (TIA) system pushed in the aftermath of 9-11, backroom deals between the Federal government and the Internet service industry, and the Patriot Act have ushered in a new era of Internet censorship
Congress seeks answers about spying on citizens
Members of Congress demanded Friday that President Bush and his administration explain his decision to permit the country's most secretive intelligence agency to spy on American citizens without first obtaining warrants. The president said Friday he could not talk about the matter. Trying to quickly contain the controversy, Vice President Dick Cheney went to Capitol Hill to confer with the leaders. Those present refused to discuss the secret session.
Senate blocks Patriot Act vote
A bipartisan group of senators blocked a final vote on changes to the USA Patriot Act yesterday, arguing that the legislation did not go far enough in protecting civil liberties.
Michigan to regulate payday loan industry
As the quick-cash industry continues to grow in a number of states across the country, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed legislation Monday that will regulate the payday lending industry in Michigan. The new law that will regulate Michigan's cash-lender industry limits borrowers to a maximum $600 loan in a 31-day period and allows customers only one transaction at a time. She said under the Michigan Regulatory Loan Act, the criminal usury cap on a loan is 25 percent on an annual basis. Under the payday lending scheme, a borrower is charged $15 for every $100 in a two-week period, which when annualized is 390 percent.
Would a Bank Charge Jesus Usury?
Would a bank charge Jesus Christ, who chased out the money changers in the temple, 18-to-35 percent interest on a credit card? President George W. Bush said, "freedom is a gift from God." The credit card industry donates heavily to the two-party system in America. This clout keeps interest rates at staggeringly high levels.
We Won't Go Back
Reading the new reports about the Pentagon conducting surveillance of peaceful anti-war groups and protests, I feel like I'm having a bad '60s flashback. I'm remembering how the Defense Department aggressively infiltrated anti-war and civil rights groups during that era, spying and collecting files on over 100,000 Americans -- and how J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI used every dirty trick in the "black bag operation" handbook to sabotage the anti-war and civil rights movements. Now it looks like those ugly days of government paranoia and officially sanctioned lawbreaking might be making a comeback.
Bush on the Constitution: 'It's just a goddamned piece of paper'
Last month, Republican Congressional leaders filed into the Oval Office to meet with President George W. Bush and talk about renewing the controversial USA Patriot Act. GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives still mad at the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. “I don’t give a goddamn,” Bush retorted. “I’m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way.” “Mr. President,” one aide in the meeting said. “There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution.” “Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!” [Despite our differences, the Constitution has stood for two centuries as the defining document of our government, the final source to determine – in the end – if something is legal or right. Every federal official – including the President – who takes an oath of office swears to “uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States."]
The Madness of George W. Bush
One good thing I can say about President Bush is that he's gotten me interested in politics. Before he came to office, I was mainly interested in spiritual matters, and considered politics a "distraction."
Is Bush Out of Control?
Buy beleaguered, overworked White House aides enough drinks and they tell a sordid tale of an administration under siege, beset by bitter staff infighting and led by a man whose mood swings suggest paranoia bordering on schizophrenia. They describe a President whose public persona masks an angry, obscenity-spouting man who berates staff, unleashes tirades against those who disagree with him and ends meetings in the Oval Office with “get out of here!”
Bush Gave US Agency Authorization To Spy On Americans
According to a New York Times report, the presidential order, signed in 2002, has given the agency the right to monitor international phone calls and international e-mails of hundreds, maybe even thousands of people inside the United States.
Global Survey: Who Do You Believe In Any More?
A global public opinion survey shows people losing faith in governments, business and even non-governmental organizations. "What the survey shows is people losing faith in a whole range of institutions," Mark Adams from GlobeScan told IPS by phone from Geneva. "This is very worrying for the world community." Trust in government has fallen the most in Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Canada and Spain, followed closely by Argentina and the United States
If You Oppose The War, The Pentagon May Already Have Your Number
If you've marched against the Iraq war or flashed a peace sign during a rally, the Pentagon may be keeping an eye on you. The U.S. military has been building a secret database that suggests it is monitoring peace demonstrations and collecting information on Americans who oppose the Iraq war.
Skull, Bones, Bush
In 1918, the President's grandfather, Prescott Bush, and several accomplices desecrated the grave of Apache holy man Geronimo at Ft. Sill, OK. The men removed Geronimo's head and a prized silver bridle which had been buried with him. Using acid and amid laughter, they stripped Geronimo's head of hair and flesh. They then took their "trophies" back to Yale University and put them on display in the clubhouse of the secret fraternity "Skull & Bones." The "Skull & Bones" is a secret society founded at Yale in 1832. Their alumni includes Prescott Bush's son (George H. W.) and grandson (George W.) as well as heads of state and leaders of numerous intelligence agencies, trading companies, business empires and law firms.
Of skulls and bones: More secrets of the tomb
An axe pried open the iron door of the tomb, and Pat[riarch] Bush entered and started to dig...Pat[riarch] James dug deep and pried out the trophy itself...I showered and hit the hay...a happy man...'' So recounts a document thought to be an internal record from the Skull and Bones Society. "Pat[riarch] Bush" is Prescott Bush, father of an American political dynasty. His "trophy" is the skull of Geronimo, the Native American spiritual and military leader laid to rest in 1909 at Fort Still, Oklahoma, where Bush and fellow Bonesmen were stationed nine years later.
Bush robs Geronimo's grave
Prescott Bush, that is, Dubya's grampa, on behalf of Yale University's secretive Skull and Bones Society. If you google "Prescott Bush" and Geronimo, you'll get scores of blogs which talk about the skull of Skull & Bones at Yale having been robbed from Geronimo's grave at Fort Sill, OK by Prescott Bush in 1918. At any rate, the comments accompanying petition signatures were interesting.
DuPont to pay largest fine for toxic element in Teflon
DuPont, one of the world's leading chemical companies, will pay the largest fine in the history of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to settle charges that it hid information for more than 20 years that a compound used to make Teflon poses a substantial threat to human health. Perfluorooctanoic acid, a synthetic compound pioneered by DuPont and used for 50 years, has been found in the blood of 95 percent of Americans tested. It persists in the environment indefinitely. Researchers have even found it in the blood of polar bears near the North Pole.
Baltimore Evening Sun on 26 July 1920
The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. — H. L. Mencken
Ford Motor Company Fights Back
Ford was placed in a compromising position through a deceptive media campaign by the anti-gay hate group known as the American Family Association. The AFA mischaracterized their relationship and influence over Ford Motor Company in a most cynical and dishonest way. It is a credit to Ford that they have been willing to replace the widespead anti-diversity impression created by the AFA media campaign with today’s strong statement of commitment to all its customers.
American Family Association Goes After Ford Motor Co.
A virulently anti-gay hate group known as the American Family Association claims Christians should boycott as “the company which has done the most to affirm and promote the homosexual lifestyle”. The battle against Ford is just one of many it has going: As of Tuesday, it was calling for action against the Carl’s Jr. hamburger chain (to protest its racy new ad featuring Paris Hilton), Kraft Foods (for its sponsorship of the 2006 Gay Games), Mary Kay Cosmetics and Old Navy stores (for advertising on ABC’s prime-time soap opera “Desperate Housewives”) and NutriSystem Inc., the weight-loss company (for airing its own salacious TV ad). The AFA has has also attacked Crest toothpaste, Volkswagen, Tide detergent, Clorox bleach, Pampers, MTV, Abercrombie & Fitch, K-Mart, Burger King, American Airlines and S.C. Johnson & Son, makers of Windex, Ziploc, Pledge, Glade and Edge.
Governors approve ban on water diversion
MILWAUKEE (AP) - Representatives of eight states and two Canadian provinces formally approved an agreement Tuesday that would prevent outsiders such as the booming cities of the Southwest from raiding Great Lakes water. "The lakes represent a fresh water ecosystem that's unique on our planet supporting thousands of species, including human beings. These agreements will protect our Great Lakes from the threats of diversions outside this basin," said Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, the incoming chairman of the Council of Great Lakes Governors.
Is the Pentagon spying on Americans?
A secret Pentagon database indicates the U.S. military is collecting information on American peace activists and monitoring Iraq war protests. It means that they’re actually collecting information about who’s at protests, the descriptions of vehicles at those protests. On the domestic level, this is unprecedented . It's absolute paranoia — at the highest levels of our government
U.S., EU square off on food aid donations
The large structured U.S. program of in-kind food aid is designed in reality to give support to U.S. agricultural producers. It distorts trade and depresses local production. Some of the WTO's 149 members -- in particular the EU -- have questioned whether food aid programs are used as a way of getting rid of excess agricultural production and propping up domestic prices.
Probe backs allegations against CIA for secret prisons
European investigators say they have evidence that supports allegations that the CIA transported detainees between countries and held them "without any judicial involvement." The seriousness of the allegations and the consistency of the information gathered to date justifies an in-depth inquiry. If the allegations proved correct, the member states would stand accused of having seriously breached their human rights obligations to the Council of Europe.
New group for 'Asian century' shuns U.S.
It will be the largest association of Asian leaders - representing nearly half the world's population - as well as the first to include China and India together. It will be the first in the postwar era to exclude the Pacific region's most powerful participant, the United States. The world will be a different place in 30 or 40 years, with Asia at the forefront, said Daljit Singh, a visiting senior fellow at the Institute for Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore. The new group is a response to this change.
If the auto industry operated like the Pharmacy Industry
Your average car would cost $4.5 million, representing a 30,000% markup over cost, which is typical for prescription drugs. Automakers would justify this price by saying they needed the money to fund research and development, but in reality, most of their research would be funded by taxpayer dollars through government grants and university research centers. 2. That exact same car could be purchased in Mexico or Canada for under $5,000. ...
If you're a Delphi or General Motors employee, or a retiree, you don't need to go to Washington, D.C., to make your voice heard
All you need is a computer. For the next two weeks, U.S. Rep. Dale E. Kildee, D-Flint, and other House Democrats are holding an electronic hearing. It's called "The American Auto Industry in Crisis" and continues through Dec. 15. The idea is to give workers an opportunity to communicate directly with Congress about their concerns on issues like jobs, wages, health insurance and retirement security. Delphi is the nation's largest auto supplier - and because only Republicans can convene formal live hearings. Democratic lawmakers sponsoring the e-hearing will write and distribute a report based on the testimony they receive. Employees or retirees of Delphi or GM may send testimony of 500 words or less to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Air Marshals Kill Passenger
Dec. 8, 2005—Shortly after boarding an Orlando-bound plane, passengers say, they saw a man [suffering from a bi-polar disorder and off his medications] bolt from his seat and run down the aisle, with his screaming wife and man in a Hawaiian shirt behind. "My husband! My husband!" one passenger said she heard the wife cry. The chase ended moments later, when authorities say Rigoberto Alpizar was shot to death by the man in the Hawaiian shirt and a second pursuer, both undercover air marshals.
No Bomb Mentioned Passengers Say
Airline passengers are disputing official claims that the man shot dead by US air marshals in Miami said he had a bomb. John McAlhany, who was on the flight, said yesterday the man, Rigoberto Alpizar, bumped into him as he ran off the aircraft moments before shots rang out. Mr McAlhany said Alpizar did not say anything about a bomb. Other passengers said he was agitated and singing a hymn. "The first time I heard the word bomb was when I was interviewed by the FBI," Mr McAlhany said. "They kept asking if I heard him say the B-word. And I said, 'What's the B-word?' And they were like, 'Bomb'. I said no. They said, 'Are you sure?' And I am. "This was wrong. This man should be with his family for Christmas. Now he's dead."
Dead man did not speak of bomb
The man who was shot and killed by US air marshals in Miami on Thursday never spoke of a bomb, a fellow passenger said. The witness, said Rigoberto Alpizar seemed to suffer a panic attack and dashed up the plane's aisle. Mr Alpizar was mentally ill, neighbours said yesterday, but managed his condition with medication. Mr McAlhany told a reporter he heard Mr Alpizar arguing with his wife, saying, "I have to get off the plane." "She said, `Calm down'," Mr McAlhany said. Mr Alpizar, who was sitting near the back, then ran down the aisle, with his wife close behind him. "She was running behind him saying, `He's sick. He's sick. He's ill. He's got a disorder'," Mr McAlhany recalled. "She was trying to explain to the marshals that he was ill. He just wanted to get off.
Witnesses heard no talk of bomb
As more details emerged about Wednesday's anxious moments aboard American Airlines Flight 924, it became increasingly apparent that the Maitland man killed by federal air marshals may have been fleeing in panic as he suffered the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Agitated, Alpizar was upset by robbery
Lingering near his departure gate at Miami International Airport on Wednesday, Rigoberto Alpizar appeared flustered and loath to make the last, brief leg of his long journey home. "He looked agitated — had a very nervous, agitated look to him. As I walked past them, his wife told him, `Let's let these people get on first. It will be okay.'" The couple had been returning from a stressful vacation, relatives said. Alpizar's wife, Anne Buechner, had been robbed in Peru, losing her wallet, passport, laptop computer and cell phone. According to his sister-in-law, Kelley Buechner of Milwaukee, she had never known Alpizar to stop taking his medication before and wondered whether it had been stolen along with other items in Peru.
Alpizar Family Releases Statement On Airport Shooting
The family of a man fatally shot in a confrontation with federal air marshals at Miami International Airport said in a brief prepared statement Thursday that he was a gentle man. The statement read by Jeanne Jentsch, the sister of Rigoberto Alpizar's wife, said Alpizar was a "loving, gentle and caring husband, uncle, son and friend."
Brother of slain Miami man wants answers
The brother of a man shot to death by air marshals at Miami airport expressed anger at the killing on Thursday and said his family in Costa Rica would demand an explanation from the US government. Rolando Alpizar, 46, speaking from Costa Rica said the federal marshals should not have shot his brother, 44-year-old Rigoberto Alpizar, whom he described as a peaceful man who never had problems with authority.
Brother of slain Miami man wants answers
The brother of a man shot to death by air marshals at Miami airport expressed anger at the killing on Thursday and said his family in Costa Rica would demand an explanation from the US government.
Costa Rica Demands US Explanation
Dec 9 (Prensa Latina) The Costa Rican Parliament demanded an explanation from the US Friday on the death of a man of Costa Rican origin, which has shocked the nation. The 44-year-old, identified as Rigoberto Alpizar, was riddled with bullets by a US marshal as he ran off an American Airlines plane, in an incident yet to be clarified. The Costa Rican Legislative Assembly International Relations Committee approved a motion demanding a detailed report on reasons for his death. According to US officials, Alpizar was killed after he said he was carrying an explosive device in his baggage. However, witnesses did not hear the man make any such threat.
Family Of Man Killed By Marshals In Miami Wants Answers
Costa Rica -- Family members of a man who was shot dead by air marshals in Miami after allegedly announcing he had a bomb demanded an explanation of the killing from U.S. authorities Friday. "I can't understand why U.S. authorities killed my son in this way. He was not a terrorist," Carlos Alpizar, the 72-year old father of Rigoberto Alpizar told The Associated Press in the family home in Rio Claro de Golfito, near the Panama border about 190 miles south of Costa Rica's capital, San Jose. "Rigoberto loved everything about his second country," he said "And look, they killed him like a dog."
Bipolar Disorder and the Miami Airport Incident
ANN ARBOR, Mich., Dec. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- The tragic shooting of Rigoberto Alpizar at the Miami International Airport by U.S. Marshals who thought he had a bomb offers an opportunity to discuss bipolar disorder and the need for law enforcement officials to understand mental illness. Media reports are stating that Mr. Alpizar may have had bipolar disorder, which has also been known in the past as manic depression. Although his specific diagnosis is not certain, the University of Michigan Depression Center offers this information:
A Friendly Soul: Alpizar, known to neighbors for being kind and generous, sits with his wife, Anne Buechner
"We Are Michigan" Response to Alpizar Killing
The U.S. Govenment and media will argue that the man claimed to have a bomb in his bag. When you hear these statements it is important for you to remember the fact that Mr. Alpizar's bags had already been cleared through airport security before boarding, and that he had additionally just moments earlier cleared the Customs inspection at the airport where he was boarding the aircraft he was shot in. Common sense would tell you that the likelyhood of his bag containing a bomb would be extremely low. It is more likely that the Air Marshalls overreacted in shooting this man to death who appeared to be suffering from a physicochemical reaction to being off his bi-polar medications. Passengers report hearing four to six shots fired. Subsequent reports question the judgement as well as the truth in the arguments by the Air Marshalls who shot and killed Mr. Alpizar. Perhaps it is time for the Air Marshall program to replace their deadly weapons with Taser stun guns to protect the safety of passengers and airplane alike. Click Here to add your comments and ideas to this discussion
You can now instant message with a worm
A new worm that targets users of America Online's AOL Instant Messenger is believed to be the first that actually chats with the intended victim to dupe the target into activating a malicious payload, IM security vendor IMlogic warned Tuesday. According to IMlogic, the worm, dubbed IM.Myspace04.AIM, has arrived in instant messages that state: "lol thats cool" and included a URL to a malicious file "clarissa17.pif." When unsuspecting users have responded, perhaps asking if the attachment contained a virus, the worm has replied: "lol no its not its a virus", IMlogic said. The malicious file disables security software, installs a backdoor and tweaks system files, the company said. Then it starts sending itself to contacts on the victim's buddy list.
Federal Government Debt of $7.9 at End of 2005 Fiscal Year 9/30/05—If we divide fiscal year 2005 ending debt of $7.933 trillion by the population of 296.5 million we have debt per person. At the left is a chart showing the rapid build-up of federal debt per man, woman and child to $26,750. This means a family of four (4) shares $107,000 in federal debt responsibility - - including those still in diapers. And, that's not all they owe. If today's debt ratio to national income were the same as in the early 1970s (40%), today's debt would be a whopping $3.6 trillion ($12,000 per person) less than it is.
The World is Affected by the U.S. Economy
U.S. Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan expressed concerns yesterday that the United States' failure to deal with its exploding budget deficit and worldwide efforts to erect trade barriers could disrupt the global economy.
US Readies Public Statement on Alleged Secret Prisons
The Bush administration is preparing a public statement on news reports the CIA has operated secret detention sites in Europe for suspected terrorists. [Finally the American people are realizing the full depth and breadth of depravity in the Bush administration. The days of the neocons are soon over... and none to soon, thank god.]
ACLU Joins Fight Against Internet Surveillance
The American Civil Liberties Union today joined an expanding group of organizations filing lawsuits against a new rule that increases the FBI's power to conduct surveillance on the Internet. The rule being challenged is one the Federal Communications Commission adopted in September, granting an FBI request to expand wiretapping authority to online communications.
In hindsight, maybe it shouldn't be surprising that the Pentagon has been secretly paying Iraqi journalists and news organizations to write and run positive stories about the war. After all, this is an administration that paid a U.S. columnist and peddled phony video news releases at home, too. But saying it was predictable makes it no less loathsome and damaging to find that the Bush administration has treated the Iraqi press, the Iraqi people and the very idea of Iraqi democracy with even greater contempt.
Chimney Sweeps to the Rescue
Traverse City—The consumer Product Safety Commission indicates that over 45,500 chimney fires occur each year. These fires are often a result of poor maintenance and inadequate cleaning of the chimney. Each year families in northern Michigan lose their homes to defective and dirty chimneys. If you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove, you have a dirty chimney!
Who's Naughty, Who's Nice?
Just in time for the holidays, the Human Rights Campaign has come out with a list of the companies entitled, "Buying for Equality." You may be surprised who is very naughty indeed. Meijer and ExxonMobil come in as the Naughtiest of all according to researches at the HRC.
Omen on the High Court?
Marble Falls From Building's Facade, Spurring Theories of Symbolism. For some, the chunk of marble that fell from the facade of the Supreme Court yesterday was a frightening safety hazard. But this is Washington, after all, where people search for hidden meaning in anything that happens at places such as the nation's highest court. And so, some couldn't help but note that the tumbling piece chipped at a carved marble figure that represents "Authority." "I think God is smiting the GOP," wrote a blogger.
You've got a mail from the FBI
If it says it's from the US Central Intelligence Agency or Federal Bureau of Investigation, avoid it like the plague. An e-mail is going around, claiming to be from the CIA or FBI. And if you open it using Windows, you'll be in big trouble.
Carbon dioxide level highest in 650,000 years
Carbon dioxide levels are now 27 percent higher than at any point in the last 650,000 years, according to research into Antarctic ice cores published on Thursday in Science. There is fear that climate change could create a class of environmental refugees displaced from their homes by rising oceans, increasingly catastrophic weather, and expanding deserts.
'Peace Mom,' Supporters Return To Bush Ranch
CRAWFORD, Texas -- The mother of a fallen soldier whose vigil against the war in Iraq outside President Bush's ranch returned to Texas, saying she is "heartbroken" that the troops are not home.
When Talking Points Become Lies Republican talking points being promoted by the Bush political spin machine has finally spun out of the realm of reality. Talking points have morphed from spin control into outright lies. The problem for the American public is that government policy is being based on the lies.
State Power and Conservative Ideology
It is increasingly apparent that there is an important ideological conflict going on in the modern conservative movement between supporters of increased state power and supporters of limited government. The conflict pits the Bush Republicans against traditional conservatives. While both groups give lip service to the term limited government and use the same “conservative” label, they are very different creatures.
How the Bush administration got spooked
It's finally Wizard of Oz time in America. You know - that moment when the curtains are pulled back, the fearsome-looking wizard wreathed in all that billowing smoke turns out to be some pitiful little guy, and everybody looks around sheepishly, wondering why they acted as they did for so long. It now seems far clearer that the endless fallout from the fatal decision to invade Iraq is eating away at another agenda entirely, one that emerged from the domestic political wing of this administration - from Karl Rove, Andrew Card, Tom DeLay and their ilk. This was the Republican desire to nail down the country as a purely red (as in red-meat) Republican land. The vetting of the K-Street lobbying crowd, the increasing control over the flow of corporate dollars into politics, the gerrymandering of congressional districts to create an election-proof House of Representatives, the mobilization of a religious base dedicated to an endless set of culture wars, the ushering in of a right-wing Supreme Court, and so many other activities were all meant to create an impregnable Republican Party in control of every lever of power in our country into an endless future.
The End of News?
In late September, the Government Accountability Office—a nonpartisan arm of Congress—issued a finding that the Bush administration had engaged in "covert propaganda," and thereby broken the law, by paying Armstrong Williams, a conservative commentator, to promote its educational policies. The GAO also faulted the administration for hiring a public relations firm to distribute video news segments without disclosing the government's part in producing them. The auditors' report, which followed a year-long investigation, presents chilling evidence of the campaign that officials in Washington have been waging against a free and independent press. The normally quiescent American Society of Newspaper Editors last fall issued a "call to arms" to its members, urging them to "demand answers in print and in court" to stop this "deeply disturbing" trend. The conservative columnist William Safire, usually a supporter of Bush's policies, complained last September that "the fundamental right of Americans, through our free press, to penetrate and criticize the workings of our government is under attack as never before." Today, most newspapers are owned by large publicly held corporations, for which profit margins are increasingly more important than investment in better reporting.
Alito's record has feminists ready for battle
From abortion to sex discrimination to family leave, some of Samuel Alito's most important rulings during 15 years on the federal bench have involved issues related to women, and some of the strongest opposition to his Supreme Court nomination comes from women's rights groups. On women's issues, Alito's critics say, his record stands in marked contrast to the record of the justice he would replace, Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman ever appointed to the court. "Justice O'Connor was the fifth vote in many 5-4 decisions that protected women's fundamental rights and freedoms,'' said Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the nonprofit National Women's Law Center.
Dear Mr. Bush:
I would like to extend my hand and invite you to join us, the mainstream American majority. We, the people -- that's the majority of the people -- share these majority opinions:
Going to war was a mistake -- a big mistake. (link)
You and your administration misled us into this war. (link)
We want the war ended and our troops brought home. (link)
Now, I know this is a bitter pill to swallow. Iraq was going to be your great legacy. Now, it's just your legacy. It didn't have to end up this way. This week, when Republicans and conservative Democrats started jumping ship, you lashed out at them. Come join the majority! Be one of us, your fellow Americans! Is it really that hard? Is there really any other choice? Michael Moore
Phony Theory, False Conflict
Because every few years this country, in its infinite tolerance, insists on hearing yet another appeal of the Scopes monkey trial. Which brings us to Dover, Pa., Pat Robertson, the Kansas State Board of Education, and a fight over evolution that is so anachronistic and retrograde as to be a national embarrassment.
A considerable stretch of the Patriot Act II's path to law lay behind closed doors among a small group of lawmakers accompanied by advisors from the White House. The process is reminiscent of the method by which the original Patriot Act was passed in 2001. During lengthy committee debate in the House back then, minority members fought strenuously for numerous safeguards for civil rights in view of the government's expanded surveillance powers, and they succeeded in inserting several. However, the committee's work was dismissed summarily by congressional leaders and replaced by a version of the legislation backed by the Administration. The leadership's bill was rapidly brought for a vote on the floor before some members had time to even read it. Advocates warn that Congress is poised to repeat the mistakes made four years ago. "It's very similar to the process in 2001," said Bob Barr, former Republican representative from Georgia. "We believe it's a very inappropriate and dangerous game to play. Politics seems to be driving this whole game.
Patriot Act filibuster threatened Senate objections on rights issues stall tentative agreement
Reflecting the political breadth of concerns about the law, the letter was signed by three Republicans -- Sens. Larry Craig, John Sununu and Lisa Murkowksi -- and three Democrats -- Sens. Richard Durbin, Ken Salazar and Feingold. The group called for tighter restrictions on the government's ability to demand records and its use of what are known as sneak and peak warrants to conduct secret searches without immediately informing the target, among other measures. The late maneuvering could thwart the Republican leaders' hopes to have a deal in place before Congress breaks for Thanksgiving.
Patriot Act rush job
In moving to renew the USA Patriot Act adopted in haste after the shocks of Sept. 11, 2001, Congress fails to answer concerns that the anti-terror law hands over too much of our historic liberty to government investigators. President Bush has urged Patriot Act renewal as part of his war on terrorism, and hopes this bit of favorable news will help reverse recent declines in his public-approval ratings. But he has suddenly found some Republicans joining Democrats in questioning his policies -- domestic as well as in Iraq.
Congressional Hawk and War Veteran Wants U.S. Troops Out of Iraq Now
November 18, 2005—When he came home from Vietnam, John P. Murtha had two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and — unlike many other vets — no desire to protest the war. After he won a U.S. House seat in Pennsylvania in 1974, he became one of the most hawkish Democrats in Congress, using his position on the House Appropriations Committee to help lavish the armed forces with money. And when President Bush decided to wage war on Saddam Hussein, perhaps no Democrat was a firmer ally. So it sent a jolt through Congress on Thursday when Murtha stood before a bank of television cameras and announced tearfully that he had decided it was time to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq. And not soon. Now.
National Archives Release Papers From Nixon Administration
With an obvious resonance to current events, the National Archives and Records Administration released 50,000 pages of previously classified documents from the Nixon administration today that reveal how all that president's men wrestled with issues that eerily parallel problems facing the Bush administration.
Incendiary weapons: The big white lie
US finally admits using white phosphorus in Fallujah - and beyond. Iraqis investigate if civilians were targeted with deadly chemical. The Iraqi government is to investigate
Professor Confident that Explosives, and Not Airplanes, Toppled World Trade Center
The physics of 9/11 — including how fast and symmetrically one of the World Trade Center buildings fell — prove that official explanations of the collapses are wrong, says a Brigham Young University physics professor. In fact, it's likely that there were "pre-positioned explosives" in all three buildings at ground zero, says Steven E. Jones. The [“official” Bush government] story just does not add up…. That fact should be of great concern to all Americans…. There is no question that the events of 9/11 are the emotional driving force behind the War on Terror.
Terror suspects' legal relief in jeopardy
After four years of growing international criticism of the Bush administration's treatment of war-on-terror suspects and dozens of lawsuits from prisoners who claim they are being held with no basis, it took the Senate barely an hour of debate late last week to reverse a year-old Supreme Court decision and strip the courts of the power to hear their cases. If it survives a floor fight this week, legal experts and human rights advocates warned, the unexpected 49-42 vote could leave the roughly 500 military prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, without hope of legal relief, mark one of the rare occasions in U.S. history that the centuries-old writ of habeas corpus has been suspended, and damage the U.S. image abroad.
Sex scandal: Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox go up or down after he admitted having an extramarital affair
It is unfortunate that because of Mr. Cox's own repeated inability to control his sexual behavior that she has been put into a humiliating situation through no fault of her own. "The people of the state of Michigan should also be offended by Mr. Cox's admission that he has so many skeletons in his closet that he feels personally threatened by his political opponents. "Mr. Cox's false accusations against me underscore that he is not qualified to be in a position of trust. This kind of profoundly poor judgment and behavior extend not only to Mr. Cox's personal life but has now spilled over to his public trust. He should resign.
Oil Companies Deserve an Honest Grilling
We citizens are lousy employers. We set minimum job requirements for the people we elect. We simply require that, once in office, they not disturb us in any way. We don't want leaders. We prefer puppets. We don't want to be challenged. We'd rather be entertained. Did anyone bother to ask why anyone in the oil industry should receive any of the $14.5 billion in President Bush's energy plan in the wake of literal windfall third-quarter profits of $32 billion? Did anyone dare suggest that those approved tax credits be rescinded -- that the money be put in a federal fund, perhaps allocated to universities and other independent research groups -- for the rapid development of alternative-fuel vehicles?
Cheney seeks legalizing torture
In an interview with National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" on Thursday, Lawrence Wilkerson, a former colonel who was Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff during President Bush's first term, said that he had traced paperwork back to Cheney's office that he believes led to U.S. troops abusing Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib jail. Most of the low-ranking officers who have been charged in the abuse scandal said that they received orders from Military Intelligence personnel as well as superior officers, challenging President Bush’s claims that detainee abuses have been infrequent, exceptional and unrelated to policy, according to Human Rights Watch .
Secret U.S. jails
The detention facilities, known as "black sites", were established after the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001. Those with close links to the intelligence agencies say that the U.S. government keeps al-Qaeda suspects secretly detained in foreign states to interrogate them over a long period and deprive them of their right to challenge their detention in U.S. courts. The Bush administration has said the Geneva Convention, which governs the rights of prisoners of war, doesn’t apply to those captured in the “war on terrorism”. But Human rights organizations and several EU states say that "enemy combatants" is a term not recognized by international law, and that foreign suspects should be granted the rights of prisoners of wars.
Jimmy Carter weighs in on CIA 'secret prisons'
If you believe in the adage, 'It takes one to know one,' then, perhaps, the only person to offer true analysis of the Bush administration is a former president. America's 39th president, Jimmy Carter, has been an outspoken critic of the Bush Administrations policies, particularly the war in Iraq and interrogation tactics. After serving from 1977 to 1981, he has worked tirelessly around the world on issues such as international conflict resolution, poverty, health care and social justice, earning him a Nobel Peace Prize in the year 2002. His latest book is entitled, "Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis."
Sony: Oh What a Tangled Web They Weave
Sony screwed up with its rights removal to protect its profit margins philosophy and there is no way the use of rootkits can be justified. Caught with its pants down, what did it do? Make things right? Heck no, it blamed the user.
Terror suspects held in secret CIA prisons
Senior al-Qaeda members are being held in top-secret CIA- operated "black site" prisons across the world, it has emerged. According to anonymous CIA sources quoted by the Washington Post, the agency has been transporting the captives to secret facilities in a number of countries for interrogation. The covert prisons - of which up to eight have been used - are referred to as "black sites" in classified United States documents and virtually nothing is known about who the detainees are, how they are interrogated or about decisions on how long they will be held. The CIA uses such detention centres abroad because in the US it is illegal to hold prisoners in such isolation.
Our 27 months of hell
After the two-year smear campaign orchestrated by senior officials in the Bush White House against my wife and me, it is tempting to feel vindicated by Friday's indictment of the vice president's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Between us, Valerie and I have served the United States for nearly 43 years. I was President George H.W. Bush's acting ambassador to Iraq in the run-up to the Persian Gulf War, and I served as ambassador to two African nations for him and President Clinton. Valerie worked undercover for the CIA in several overseas assignments and in areas related to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Valerie told me later that it was like being hit in the stomach. It was payback — cheap political payback by the administration for an article I had written contradicting an assertion President Bush made in his 2003 State of the Union address. Payback not just to punish me but to intimidate other critics as well.
Not the End
Last Friday was an ominous day for the country, a new low since Watergate in terms of openness and honesty in our government. The indictment of presidential advisor 'Scooter' Libby is far more than an indictment of one individual. It's an indictment of the lengths to which administration officials were willing to go to cover up their failed intelligence. It's an indictment of their distortions about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and their serious blunders taking us to war and their vindictive efforts to discredit anyone who challenges their misrepresentations. As we know, Scooter Libby and Vice President Cheney withheld critical documents in the Senate's investigation of the use and misuse of intelligence and the abuse of power in the decision to go to war and in the management of the war. These documents must be handed over, because the American people deserve answers
Five Long Years
It's been 5 long years since George Bush stole the White House, 4 years since he failed to prevent 9/11 and then seized dictatorial powers through the USA Patriot Act, and 3 years since he started selling the invasion of Iraq on the basis of pure lies. For 5 long years, we've been urging Democrats in Congress to fight back. Today, finally, Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats stood up for Truth, Justice, the American Way - and the majority of Americans who oppose Bush's far-right agenda. Reid's speech was powerful:
That Oh-So-Natural Fruity Feeling
Right-wingers are frothing over a new study showing that sexual preference among fruit flies (and maybe humans, too) has genetic roots. Before you say, "Eew, gross" or "Who cares?", hear me out, because believe it or not the antics of these fruit flies are being linked to homo behavior in us homo sapiens. And like anything else remotely hinting that gay sex may be -- egad! -- natural, this has right-wingers absolutely frothing.
Study Ranks Homeland Security Dept. Lowest in Morale
Oct. 15 - At the Department of Homeland Security, the main government agency responsible for protecting the country against terrorism and responding to natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, only 12 percent of the more than 10,000 employees who returned a government questionnaire said they felt strongly that they were "encouraged to come up with new and better ways of doing things."
Monkey Business and Moral Panic
The year was 1873, the beginning of the American Gilded Age. The nation was exhausted by the Civil War. Robber barons were stealing public lands, importing cheap workers from abroad to build (and die on) the railroads, committing bank and securities fraud, and hiring thugs to beat up the newly organizing labor unions. The nation's economic structure was shifting from a very rough equality to an hourglass, with most of the wealth up top and most of the people on the bottom.
When are foreign troops overstaying their welcome?
American troops have overstayed their welcome in many locales around the globe, specifically at this moment, in Iraq says Ben Tanosborn. Call them by whatever preferred name you wish: invaders, liberators, mercenaries, occupiers… Unbidden guests are often welcomest, said Shakespeare, when they are gone. That’s something most of us can assent to personally… and we suspect such dictum also applies in affairs-of-state.
Some accuse the U.S. of making up al-Qaida letter
Some now accuse the United States of fabricating a letter in which al-Qaida's No. 2 leader asked for money and laid out the terrorist group's plans for expanding the insurgency in the Middle East.
Hoax Probable in New York Subway Threat
WASHINGTON — The information from an Iraqi tipster that prompted New York City to go on high alert for a possible terrorist bombing of its subway system was not true — and was probably a hoax, federal officials said Tuesday. Nevertheless the hoax, triggered a near lockdown of the subways last week, and also prompted a U.S. military operation in Iraq that led to the arrests of three suspected co-conspirators in Musayyib, south of Baghdad.
Former CFO enters guilty plea
GRAND RAPIDS - The former chief financial officer of a Manistee-based American Indian tribe pleaded guilty to a host of criminal charges at his initial appearance in federal court.
Bush on Terror Plots: More Numbers that Don’t Add Up
In his never-ending attempt to link Iraq and 9/11, the president made the claim this week that America had no choice but to remain in Iraq, lest Al Qaeda be able to use it as a terrorist base. Gee, I’ve lost track, what is this now… White House Excuse for War #178? And pardon me for asking, but didn’t Al Qaeda set up shop in Iraq only after we invaded? Just checking. [Bushes Top 10 list upon closer inspection] was more suited to David Letterman late night humor than a major presidential speech. When asked why the White House would include so many alleged, vague, and seemingly half-baked schemes in a triumphant list of thwarted terrorist plots, yet another federal counter-terrorism official said: “Everyone is allowed to count in their own way.”
Faux News Is Bad News
Federal auditors have blistered the Bush administration for secretly concocting favorable news reports about itself by hiring actors to pose as journalists and slipping $240,000 in taxpayer funds to a sell-out conservative polemicist. In its purchase of self-aggrandizing agitprop, the administration plainly violated the law against spreading "covert propaganda" at public expense, according to the report of the Government Accountability Office. More than that, Bush officials forged a cheesy new low in Washington politicians' endless bazaar of peddling public relations initiatives at taxpayers' expense.
Congress Seeks to Cut Food Aid for Poor
Under orders to cut agriculture spending by $3 billion, Republicans in Congress propose reducing food programs for the poor by $574 million and conservation programs by $1 billion. The $574 million cut in food stamps would come from restricting access to this benefit for certain families that receive other government assistance. The restriction would shut an estimated 300,000 people out of the program.
Something Stinks in America
American conservatism that has shaped American and British politics for 20 years has been holed below the waterline. It will take a lot more to sink it, but DeLay's indictment is symptomatic of a conservative over-reach and endemic corruption that will trigger, at the very least, a retreat and maybe even more. One-Nation Tories and honest-to-God Labour politicians can take some succor; the right-wing wind that has blown across the Atlantic for nearly a generation is about to ease. Hypocrisies have been exposed.
US poverty: chronic ill, little hope for cure
Four decades after a U.S. president declared war on poverty, more than 37 million people in the world's richest country are officially classified as poor and their number has been on the rise for years. Last year, according to government statistics, 1.1 million Americans fell below the poverty line. That equals the entire population of a major city like Dallas. Since 2000, the ranks of the poor have increased year by year by almost 5.5 million in total. Even optimists see little prospect that the number will shrink soon despite a renewed debate on poverty prompted by searing television images which laid bare a fact of American life rarely exposed to global view.
The Power of the Internet “Movement” News
Recently, the power of the Internet-based “Movement” news outlets is making it difficult for Corporate media to spin news developments in favor of Bush Republicanism. The Bush Republicans has given huge tax breaks to large corporations that currently dominate mainstream media from newspapers to cable news channels to talk radio. In response to the pro-Corporate bias of the mainstream media, an alternative Internet-based media has developed. Websites, news services, blogs and Internet talk radio arose out of the grassroots of American politics to provide a more balanced outlook. ...One of the best is We Are Michigan http://www.wearemichigan.com.
The Hammer Gets Nailed!
Senate Majority Leader Tom Delay Claims "Partisan Attacks" - But Don't Forget The Money Laundering and the laundry list of admonishments against him.
No.2 Republican in US House indicted
The second-ranking Republican in the US House of Representatives, Majority Leader Tom DeLay, was indicted on Wednesday on a felony campaign-finance charge. [Editor: How many crooks Bush administration crooks are there so far? I've lost count]
Domestic Partner Benefits OK for Michigan
(27 September 2005; Detroit—A Michigan court ruled today that public employers may offer domestic partner benefits to employees. The decision came in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Michigan on behalf of 21 couples whose benefits were in jeopardy following the passage of Proposal 2 last November. Their benefits were endangered by a subsequent opinion by Michigan’s Attorney General that benefits would end. Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Joyce Draganchuk said that “health care benefits are not benefits of marriage and cannot be construed as ‘benefits of marriage,’” that would be prohibited by the anti-marriage Amendment passed by the voters.
Winds of change blow through DC, Bush flees
The hurricane of peace demonstrator that blew into the nation’s capital was historic: a turning point that marks the death of the Bush presidency. Nothing short of burning the Library of Congress can save W. Rove is probably secretly polling on that option as I write. I knew the rally was going to be huge when the majority of the people on my transportation pod at Dulles were dressed in peace signs, with signs, talking about the protest. Three middle-aged women were saying that this was the first time they had ever flown to a protest. But the third tell was the unbelievable crush on the Metro that I rode in from Bethesda. This was desperate Third World style standing-room-only as the door slammed on me twice before I barely wedged in.
Leader of the F.D.A. Steps Down After a Short, Turbulent Tenure
Sept. 23 - Lester M. Crawford, the commissioner of food and drugs, resigned abruptly on Friday, causing further upheaval at an agency that has been in turmoil for more than a year. On Thursday, a commentary in The New England Journal of Medicine titled "A Sad Day for Science at the F.D.A." said that "recent actions of the F.D.A. leadership have made a mockery of the process of evaluating scientific evidence," disillusioned many scientists, "squandered the public trust and tarnished the agency's image."
American Library Association: Banned Books Week September 24–October 1
Banned Books Week (BBW) celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.
The Education Gap
Especially in these days after Katrina, everybody laments poverty and inequality. But what are you doing about it? For example, let's say you work at a university or a college. You are a cog in the one of the great inequality producing machines this country has known. What are you doing to change that?
Intelligent design has no place in science classrooms
United states president George W Bush has recently said that he believes the “theory” of intelligent design should be taught alongside the theory of evolution in American science classrooms. Intelligent design (ID) is the newest, sleekest manifestation of the Christian right’s literal interpretation of the Bible. It essentially asserts that the universe, life and particularly human beings are too complex to have arisen through any sort of natural, undirected processes, and that they therefore must have had a purposeful, intelligent designer. It is unsettling irony that a nation that gained its power through free scientific inquiry has now turned away from its methods and conclusions. The science classroom is a place for teaching science, not ideological claptrap based on religious bias and weak philosophy. Intelligent design has no place in it.
War Protest Generates Strong Turnout
Crowds shrugged off chilly rains and breakdowns in public transportation to greet Cindy Sheehan and her traveling anti-war vigil in Washington, D.C. In Los Angeles, actors and politicians led a snaking procession of protesters through downtown. And in San Diego, war veterans were among the thousands who gathered at a peaceful rally at a park. 300,000 to as many as 500,000 people turned out for the peaceful event, calling it the largest protest in Washington, D.C. since the war began in March 2003.
To save the world from hell
Sixty years ago the battered victors of the second world war gathered in San Francisco to plan the creation of the global organisation that would not “bring us to heaven”, as the United States ambassador to the United Nations, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr, put it, but might “save us from hell”. President Franklin D Roosevelt began the creation of the UN, but when he died, 13 days before the San Francisco conference, Harry Truman took over. Truman makes President George Bush look well-travelled: he had been to Europe only once, during service in the first world war. Yet he understood the importance of US engagement with the UN. “America can no longer sit smugly behind a mental Maginot line,” he wrote. The stakes were too high: “In a world without such machinery, we would be forever doomed to the fear of destruction. It was important for us to make a start, no matter how imperfect”
Not Your Soldier/Leave My Child Alone!
For organizers of Not Your Soldier youth training camps, the only way to end the war against Iraq is to "starve the beast;" i.e., cut off the military's supply of young people. As recruiters use increasingly more aggressive strategies, Not Your Soldier is trying to build a more effective counter-recruitment movement -- and that means empowering kids as organizers of their own peers. Young people can check out the site's "Pick a Camp" section to find nearby trainings. And parents can go to the Leave My Child Alone! website for easy-to-use tools to opt their teenagers out of the Pentagon's recruitment database. Under the federal No Child Left Behind law, schools must provide students' names and contact information to military recruiters or risk losing federal funding. Parents can have their children's information removed from the list if they submit their request by October 1.
If Poverty Is the Question...
What does it mean to be poor in America? We can offer no single description of American poverty. But for many, perhaps most, it means homes with peeling paint, inadequate heating, uncertain plumbing. It means that only the very lucky among the children receive a decent education. It often means a home where some go to bed hungry and malnutrition is a frequent visitor. It means that the most elementary components of the good life in America--a vacation with kids, an evening out, a comfortable home--are but distant and unreachable dreams, more likely to be seen on the television screen than in the neighborhood. And for almost all the poor it means that life is a constant struggle to obtain the merest necessities of existence, those things most of us take for granted. We can do better.
IMF Warns of Imbalance in World Consumption
Sept. 21 - The United States is likely to experience slower economic growth next year, and its rapidly rising foreign debt is at the heart of dangerous global imbalances, the International Monetary Fund said Wednesday.
Scandal Visits the White House ... AGAIN
The Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal reached into the White House yesterday, picking off President Bush's top procurement official -- who just barely had time to resign before being arrested. His arrest draws renewed attention to the ongoing corruption and influence-peddling swirling around George Bush and the conservative Republicans in the White House and Congress. His wife, Jennifer Safavian, is chief counsel for oversight and investigations on the House Government Reform Committee, which is responsible for overseeing government procurement and is, among other things, expected to conduct the Congressional investigation...."
Bipartisan panel recommends US election changes
Electronic voting machines should have paper trails to keep track of votes cast and all voters should present photo IDs, a panel recommending ways to restore confidence in the US election system
Disney on Parade
The president, as he fondly recalled the other day, used to get well lit in New Orleans. Not any more. On Thursday night, Mr. Bush wanted to appear casually in charge as he waged his own Battle of New Orleans in Jackson Square. Instead, he looked as if he'd been dropped off by his folks in front of a eerie, blue-hued castle at Disney World. His gladiatorial walk across the darkened greensward, past a St. Louis Cathedral bathed in moon glow from White House klieg lights, just seemed to intensify the sense of an isolated, out-of-touch president clinging to hollow symbols as his disastrous disaster agency continues to flail. In a ruined city - still largely without power, stinking with piles of garbage and still 40 percent submerged; where people are foraging in the miasma and muck for food, corpses and the sentimental detritus of their lives; and where unbearably sad stories continue to spill out about hordes of evacuees who lost their homes and patients who died in hospitals without either electricity or rescuers - isn't it rather tasteless, not to mention a waste of energy, to haul in White House generators just to give the president a burnished skin tone and a prettified background? Also the image wizards had put up a large swath of military camouflage netting, held in place by bags of rocks and strung on poles, to hide the president from the deserted and desolate streets of the French Quarter ghost town. W. now has to literally promise the moon to fix New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast, driving up the federal deficit and embarking on the biggest spending bonanza and government public works program since F.D.R. [EDITOR: Our children will be paying dearly for the plunders and blunders made by Dubya's administration for generations to come.]
The Normality of Gay Marriages
There's nothing like a touch of real-world experience to inject some reason into the inflammatory national debate over gay marriages. The main reason for the flip-flop is that some 6,600 same-sex couples have married over the past year with nary a sign of adverse effects. The sanctity of heterosexual marriages has not been destroyed. Public morals have not gone into a tailspin. Legislators who supported gay marriage in last year's vote have been re-elected. Gay couples, many of whom had been living together monogamously for years, have rejoiced at official recognition of their commitment. Gay marriage, it turned out, is good for family values.
Record Profits for BIG Oil
Follow the money
As that great American, Deep Throat, never said, "Follow the money." This administration looks like that old television show in which contestants lined up their shopping carts in a grocery store and, on the signal, began running around throwing every valuable item they could find in their carts. Whoever grabbed the most high-priced items won. The contestants here and now are corporations and lobbyists.
Solidarity Forev ... ooops, make that, Solidarity Later
Organized labor is weak, but unorganized labor is a hell of a lot weaker. That's what's splitting the AFL-CIO. The money that controls this administration is out to screw you - it's your pension on the line, your salary on the line and your job on the line. If your company can replace you cheaper, you are gone, buddy. And this administration is pushing jobs overseas just as fast as it can.
Near the Tipping Point?
Since humans began burning fossil fuels like coal and gas for power, we have released huge amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other heat-trapping gases. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the concentration of these greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has soared to levels higher than at any time in the last 420,000 years.
Ending Tyranny, The Bush Way
The U.S. has a long-standing (and accelerating) policy of arming, training and aiding some of the world's most repressive regimes. The U.S. transfers more weapons and military services than any other country in the world. In the last decade, the U.S. sold $177.5 billion in arms to foreign nations. In 2003, the last year for which full data is available, the Pentagon and State Department delivered or licensed the delivery of $5.7 billion in weaponry to countries which can ill afford advanced weaponry -- nations in the developing world saddled with debt and struggling with poverty.
Chief justice nominee Roberts shaped limits on sovereignty
Supreme Court nominee John Roberts knows more about Indian law than any nominee in recent memory. Now that his nomination has been upgraded to that of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, following the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, he could be the major force in the court's decisions on Native issues for the next generation. His hand is already evident in two important rulings. A look at his influence on State of Alaska v. Native Village of Venetie Tribal Government in 1998 and this spring's City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York suggests that it will be for the worse. Roberts contributed arguments - and one piece of misinformation - that helped severely limit the scope of Indian country and tribal sovereignty. In fact, the unanimous ruling in Venetie, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, tracks Roberts' brief so closely that it could count as one of his own.
The Popularity of Peace and Presidents
Katrina and 9/11 ... In both cases, Bush took actions that contributed to the disasters. In both cases he failed to respond to them effectively. In both cases he devoted most of his energy to public relations. In both cases he told whoppers with a straight face or a smirk. Bush contributed to the Katrina disaster by pushing an energy policy that increases global warming, by defunding flood protection efforts, by putting an unqualified crony in charge of emergency management, and by sending the National Guard to guard another nation's oil. Bush failed to respond by playing golf and going to birthday parties, by proposing a woefully inadequate sum for repair work, and by praising the lousy job being done by his buddies. Bush staged phony repair work for photo ops and lied like a dog about who was to blame and who had done what in response to the hurricane. Amazingly, many of us are less familiar with the parallels on 9-11. Bush ignored dire warnings about the coming attack and chose to go on vacation. He failed to respond by sitting transfixed in an elementary school classroom and then taking no immediate actions. He staged photo ops, stymied all attempts at a serious investigation of what had gone wrong, and proceeded to blame the attacks on entirely the wrong person: Saddam Hussein. On March 18, 2003, Bush formally submitted to Congress that a war on Iraq was necessitated by threats to this country from Iraq and by a need to go after nations that were behind the 9-11 attacks. That pair of lies led directly to the National Guard's absence from the nation, as well as furthering U.S. dependence on oil. [EDITOR: George Bush is not alone. The entire Neoconservative political theory has failed the test. Can we move on now to concepts that are not so politically extreme and divisive, and include most American people. Please!]
Can life improve for the world's poorest?
The international community's "promise to the world's poor is being broken, "according to the United Nations. Five years ago, members of the UN pledged to tackle extreme poverty, disease and inequality by 2015. This year's Human Development Report says that unless governments act now, those goals will not be met.
Open Letter to the Kansas School Board (coming soon to a school near you)
I am writing you with much concern after having read of your hearing to decide whether the alternative theory of Intelligent Design should be taught along with the theory of Evolution. I think we can all agree that it is important for students to hear multiple viewpoints so they can choose for themselves the theory that makes the most sense to them. I am concerned, however, that students will only hear one theory of Intelligent Design.
Europe turns up pressure on US to save energy
The United States will come under pressure to use energy more efficiently at international financial meetings in Washington this month, a senior European Union official said on Saturday." We will use our G7 meetings in Washington in two weeks to have a frank word with our American colleagues on the issue."
World summit on UN's future heads for chaos
The British government is mounting a huge diplomatic effort this weekend to prevent the biggest-ever summit of world leaders, designed to tackle poverty and overhaul the United Nations, ending in chaos. The Guardian has learned that Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, has made a personal plea to his American counterpart, Condoleezza Rice, for the US to withdraw opposition to plans for wholesale reform of the UN. He has asked Ms Rice to rein in John Bolton, the US ambassador to the world body. Mr Bolton has thrown the reform negotiations into disarray. Mr Bolton, one of the US administration hawks, became ambassador last month only after a long confrontation with the US senate, mainly caused by his ideological dislike of the UN.
What Kind of Extremist Will You Be?
Most everyone who is reading this knows what happened to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 04, 1968. Some of you may even know what happened to my son, Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan on April 04, 2004. If you don't know, Dr King and Casey were murdered by the same malevolent entities: People and ideologies that say that we have to be mortally afraid of the "ism" du jour and we, as Americans who have the "moral high-ground" in the world can send our innocent children to invade innocent countries and kill innocent people to fight the "ists" that go with the "isms." In Vietnam we were fighting the evil Communists and in Iraq we are fighting the evil terrorists. Our war against Communism out-stayed its welcome in the 1980's and the military industrial war complex was running out of excuses to build bombs, tanks, bullets, ships, submarines, and soldiers; so in 2001, our leaders who serve the war machine had to switch our enemy of the state to terrorism.
Connect the Dots
For years, governments all over the world have secretly been collaborating with the high-end color laser printer industry in order to track the origin of every color copy made. They're doing it by programming the printers to create specific patterns of yellow dots -- not visible to the naked eye -- on every copy. These dot patterns are codes for the serial number, the make of the printer, and possibly even the time and date when the print was made. By cross-checking this information with printer company databases of people who have purchased the printers, federal agents can figure out who made a given color copy (of, say, an antiwar rally flyer) and when. These dots undermine your ability to make a color copy anonymously. The government can most likely track the document back to you.
The Long Emergency Ahead
Will New Orleans and the devastated region around it be rebuilt on the hollow premise of Cheap Oil?
Rehnquist Death Gives Bush Chance to Deepen American Crisis
Already fighting an unpopular war overseas and at war with unpopular seas over here, America now faces a constitutional storm that's at least Category Five. Chief Justice William Rehnquist died last night, opening the door for a an ideological battle that could swamp us all. Will an increasingly scorned George W. Bush, whose handlers' glaring ineptness in reacting to Hurricane Katrina has brought him criticism from the right, left, and center, try to push through an extreme makeover of the U.S. Supreme Court?
Supreme Court Chief Justice Rehnquist Dies
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist died Saturday evening of cancer, ending a 33-year Supreme Court career during which he oversaw the court's conservative shift, presided over an impeachment trial and helped decide a presidential election. His death creates a rare second vacancy on the nation's highest court within four months and sets up what's expected to be an even more bruising Senate confirmation battle than that of John Roberts.
International Fusion Research
The announcement in the last week that the site for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is finally resolved is a source of relief and anticipation to nuclear fusion researchers worldwide. It opens the way to the construction of an experiment that promises the scientific demonstration of controlled fusion energy production. It also removes perhaps the last major impediment to embarking on a project that has been under consideration for nearly 20 years.
Bush's Secret Dinner With the Media
Anyone who is a journalist -- anyone who has ever been a journalist -- anyone who ever reads journalism -- should be ashamed of this. These monstrous suck-ups would brown-nose Hitler himself if they thought it would help them keep their cozy perch in the gilded media cage.
Do Tax Cuts for the Wealthy Stimulate Employment?
The centerpiece of the Bush administration's economic policy has been large federal income tax cuts aimed mainly at top earners. These tax cuts account for much of the $2 trillion increase in the national debt projected to occur during the Bush presidency. They prompted a large group of Nobel laureates in economics to issue a statement last year condemning the administration's "reckless and extreme course that endangers the long-term economic health of our nation."
Life in the Bottom 80 Percent
Economic growth isn't what it used to be. In 2004, the economy grew a solid 3.8 percent. But for the fifth straight year, median household income was basically flat, at $44,389 in 2004, the Census Bureau said Tuesday. That's the longest stretch of income stagnation on record. Economic growth was also no elixir for the 800,000 additional workers who found themselves without health insurance in 2004. This week's census report showed that income inequality was near all-time highs in 2004, with 50.1 percent of income going to the top 20 percent of households. Income inequality is an economic and social ill, but the administration and the Congressional majority don't seem to recognize that.
Destroying the National Parks
Most of us think of America's national parks as everlasting places, parts of the bedrock of how we know our own country. But they are shaped and protected by an underlying body of legislation, which is distilled into a basic policy document that governs their operation. Over time, that document has slowly evolved, but it has always stayed true to the fundamental principle of leaving the parks unimpaired for future generations. That has meant, in part, sacrificing some of the ways we might use the parks today in order to protect them for tomorrow. Recently, a secret draft revision of the national park system's basic management policy document has been circulating within the Interior Department. Mr. Hoffman's rewrite would open up nearly every park in the nation to off-road vehicles, snowmobiles and Jet Skis.
Parents Can Sign Up Kids to Not Get Email
The new law bans sending messages to children related to such things as pornography, illegal or prescription drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, firearms or fireworks. Parents and schools will be able to register children's e-mail addresses. Internet safety experts have said anti-spam laws have been difficult to enforce and others worry the lists will give hackers a way to get access to a large database of children.
Don't Let Data Theft Happen to You
I was alarmed by a phone message from my bank alerting me to some "unusual activity" on my debit card. Unusual wasn't the word. Someone had gone on a shopping spree - $556.46 and $650.81 at one store, $264.99 and $300 in charges that were pending at another - and none of it was mine. My debit card was still in my wallet. I hadn't used it in days. The bank said thieves might have created a counterfeit card. Someone - a store clerk, waiter, whoever - could have used a card reader to harvest the information imbedded in the magnetic strip to create a fake one. The bank assured me the debit account was closed and the thieves no longer had access to my cash - but who could be sure? How much of my personal information did these thieves get? Between bouts of tears and frantic phone calls to my bank, I became obsessed with what I might have done to prevent this.
Syn, a Magazine for Synaesthetes
For people who experience synaesthesia, the neurological mixing of the senses that can give taste to shapes or colors to sounds, there are very few forms of entertainment tailored to their unique condition. Enter Syn, a pilot magazine created by a British graphic design student that offers a fascinating mixture of thought and exploration that plays on the fringes and frontiers of the sensory experience.
Shop At Your Own Risk
If George W. Bush gives you a headache, you might want to think twice before buying Tylenol to take the pain away. That's because Johnson & Johnson heir Robert Wood Johnson IV raised big money for Bush's campaign. If you’re a pro-choice woman, odds are you’ve heard that the founder and CEO of the fitness chain Curves, Gary Heavin, supports and funds pro-life causes. As a result, so many women have decided not to join the clubs.
Enlightened Use of Organic Material?
Police in Germany are hunting pranksters who have been sticking miniature flag portraits of US President George W. Bush into piles of dog poo in public parks.
As New Orleans Sinks Might a Texas Star Be Rising?
At the risk of sounding paranoid, I have a few thoughts on the US government's response to Hurricane Katrina. Might the so-called delays in the evacuation have been deliberate? Might there have been a method to the government/administrations madness in allowing the destruction of the city of New Orleans? New Orleans loss, may be Texas gain. Keep your eyes on the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor that will extend across the State of Texas. Texans Karl Rove and Tom DeLay and other Texans-in-power as well as corporations stand to benefit, just because they have their fingerprints all over the Trans-Texas Corridor project and do not always pass the smell test, they may have had nothing to do with the Army Corps of Engineers decision to effectively “sink” New Orleans and its people. But if politics was in back of this decision, it must to be publicly exposed. If laws were broken, the offending individuals must be charged and brought to trial.
Library Challenges FBI Request
A member of the American Library Association has sued the Justice Department to challenge an FBI demand for records, but the USA Patriot Act prohibits the plaintiff from publicly disclosing its identity or other details of the dispute, according to court documents released yesterday. The lawsuit comes as Congress prepares to enter final talks over renewal of the Patriot Act, a counterterrorism law that was overwhelmingly approved after Sept. 11, 2001. But parts of the law, including provisions that could have an impact on libraries, have since come under fire.
President Bush's Loss of Faith
It took President Bush a long time to break his summer vacation and acknowledge the pain that the families of fallen soldiers are feeling as the death toll in Iraq continues to climb. When he did, in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Utah this week, he said exactly the wrong thing. "We owe them something," Mr. Bush said. "We will finish the task that they gave their lives for." It was, as the mother of one fallen National Guardsman said, an argument that "makes no sense." No one wants young men and women to die just because others have already made the ultimate sacrifice. The families of the dead do not want that, any more than they want to see more soldiers die because politicians cannot bear to admit that they sent American forces to war by mistake.
The Gas-Guzzler Relief Act
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration's elaborate proposal to update the 30-year-old regulations that govern the fuel economy of U.S. pickups, minivans and SUVs was clearly designed to help out the automakers most thirsty for profits, the struggling General Motors and Ford Motor.
Sacrifice? Count Me Out
August 17, 2005—"If America is truly on a war footing," Thom Shanker asks in the New York Times, "why is so little sacrifice asked of the nation at large?" Military recruiters are coming up short of volunteers, yet neither party is pushing for a draft. No one is proposing a tax increase to cover the $60 billion annual cost of the Iraq and Afghan wars. There are no World War II-style war bond drives, no victory gardens, not even gas rationing. Back here in the fatherland, only "support our troops" car ribbons indicate that we're at war--and they aren't even bumper stickers, they're magnetic. Apparently Americans aren't even willing to sacrifice the finish on their automobiles to promote the cause.
America: Under Siege By The Oil Industry
The American people and the American economy are under siege by the Oil Industry. Exploding fuel prices are making it very difficult for working class citizens, residents of rural America, traveling workers, independent truckers, farmers, small businesses, those on fixed incomes and scores of other groups of citizens to survive financially. Oil companies are passing on higher wholesale prices and making excessive profits to the American consumer. Quarter after financial quarter, these companies are setting record profits.
Why the "Real ID" Act, Which Requires National Identity Cards, is a Real Mess
In May 2005, Congress passed the "Real ID" Act, which requires states - starting in May 2008 -- to issue federally approved driver's licenses or identification (ID) cards to those who live and work in the U.S. Unlike the USA Patriot Act and other politically sensitive pieces of legislation, Real ID has not made many headlines. Last fall, it was voted down. But then it was reintroduced, and tacked onto the 2005 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Defense, the Global War on Terror and Tsunami Relief. (Real ID hence superseded conflicting portions of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.) Obviously, it would have been a serious political liability for a Congressperson to vote against funding for the war on terror and tsunami relief. So it is unsurprising that there was no debate on, no hearings on, and no public vetting of the Act.
When Armageddon Gets No Press
What became of the watchdog media that bayed after President Reagan because some low level neoconservative officials sold arms to Iran and diverted the money to anti-communist insurgents in Latin America? Now that we really need them, the watchdog media has hired out as public relations and propaganda shills for the Bush administration and the neocon network. The entire Bush administration-not merely the president-is involved in the most extraordinary lies and fabrication of false intelligence claims in order to lead America into an unwarranted and illegal invasion of Iraq, an invasion that has cost the US taxpayers $300 billion and resulted in the deaths and maiming of tens of thousands of people.
US challenged over 'secret jails'
Both men say they were held in underground jails run by US guards Two Yemeni men claim they were held in secret, underground US jails for more than 18 months without being charged
The Plastic Generation's transformation
A growing number of victims of both the greed economy and the religion of technological "progress" are quite aware that things are not right. In addition to being poisoned, they know the top dogs are getting something like 450 times the pay of the minimum-wage earner. Angry feelings are suppressed for the time being, as long as order is maintained thanks to relative abundance of material essentials.
Autism - Cut The Crap
In their public statements, officials within the FDA and CDC, are always claiming that researchers and scientists who conduct studies, not funded by drug companies or the government, are making unfounded claims about a link between thimerosal-laced vaccines and autism, and other neurological disorders, which they claim could lead to reduced vaccine coverage, resulting in preventable outbreaks of disease affecting the entire planet.
Bush Defies Military, Congress on Torture
After the grotesque torture photographs emerged from Abu Ghraib prison in April 2004, Bush said, "I shared a deep disgust that those prisoners were treated the way they were treated." He vowed the incidents would be investigated and the perpetrators would "be taken care of." Bush seemed shocked to learn of torture committed by US forces. But then someone leaked an explosive Department of Justice memorandum that had been written in August 2002. The memo presented a blueprint explaining how interrogators could torture prisoners and everyone in the chain of command could escape criminal liability for war crimes. It said the President was above the law. That memo set the stage for the torture of prisoners in US custody.
The Trouble with Roberts
How has a seemingly nice man like Roberts supported a politics of contempt for the voice of anyone but the wealthy and powerful? In a time when the Bush administration acts as if granted the divine right of kings, it's troubling that Roberts defended Cheney's right to refuse to name the corporate participants in his secret energy policy meeting. He advised Jeb Bush on the 2000 election, and denied being a member of the ultra-conservative Federalist Society, then turned up on the Society's Washington steering committee. He's argued that the Voting Rights Act can only be violated by intentional discrimination, saying laws that incidentally discriminate are okay. Most damning, Roberts just ruled that if this administration wishes to exempt someone from the Geneva Convention and international law, they have the absolute right to do so. Roberts is also disturbingly loyal to dubious corporate interests, or at least to principles that allow these interests to run roughshod over ordinary citizens and communities. He argued that private individuals could not sue the federal government for violations of environmental regulations like the removal of mountaintops by West Virginia mining companies. He supported the rights of developers to ignore the Endangered Species Act. He denied the rights of workers injured over time as part of their jobs, supported criminal contempt fines to force the end of a strike, and helped a major car manufacturer avoid a recall of dangerous seatbelts.
A New Blacklist
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has urged the U.S. government to create blacklists of condemned political speech--not only by those who advocate violence, but also by those who believe that U.S. government actions may encourage violent reprisals. The latter group, which Friedman called "just one notch less despicable than the terrorists," includes a majority of Americans, according to recent polls.
Jaws Agape as Predators Attack the Audience at Open Space
Traverse City—As perhaps the largest crowd of people to ever share Open Space in downtown Traverse City looked on, representatives of the predatory group opposed to the Traverse City Film Festival lead by Suttons Bay resident Genie Aldridge and a Texas group who call themselves the American Film Renaissance went on the attack. Aldridge and a handful of supporters have been praying and preying on the wildly successful Traverse City Film Festival since it was announced last month at the Traverse City Commission meeting. A small group of Aldridge sympathizers launched an attack, advertising their counter-event, from the waters of West Bay tonight against the Traverse City Film Festival as they sailed in circles behind a thirty-five foot tall movie screen just as the classic movie Jaws came to life with the shark attack sound-track blaring. How strangely appropriate ...
Reduce the 'death tax'
Some issues transcend Americans' social and economic status, things that most people intuitively grasp regardless of whether they are personally affected. The "death tax" is one of them. Polls show that a solid majority of American's agree that it is unfair for the government to tax assets at death - assets that were already taxed when they were earned. The death tax reaches far more than the ultra-rich. In fact, the irony is that most members of that tiny minority escape paying most of the tax with the help of lawyers and accountants whom others cannot afford. A big part of the American dream is to be able to leave hard-earned assets to one's children, so that they might enjoy a better life than their parents. It is simply unfair for the government to take more than half of these assets at death, a time when families are least prepared to make significant economic decisions because of the loss of a loved one.
GOP Presses for Timetable on Roberts Vote
Senate Republicans, determined to seat John Roberts in time for the Supreme Court's fall term, pressed Democrats Tuesday to agree on a timetable for a vote amid political wrangling over how much of Roberts' past legal writings must be made available. With Bush's first chance to shape the Supreme Court at stake, the White House is hoping to avoid the kind of confrontation with Democrats over document requests that has stymied Senate confirmation of some of the president's other high-profile nominees.
I have on the first chart here a trend that I think everybody in America is familiar with. This shows the inflation rate, and we have done a pretty good job since 1995 in the last 10 years of taming inflation. It has gone up only slightly. But the zigzag magenta here is the price of fuel, of gasoline. This is a month or so old because you see it stops at $55 a barrel, and fuel oil from which we get gasoline is now up to around $60 a barrel. It has fallen off just a little now. It was over $60.
Should Torture be a Presidential Policy Option
There is a proposal to add a provision to the defense appropriation bill that would bar the U.S. military from engaging in "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of detainees. The president is being urged by his staff to veto the bill if he is not allowed to engage in torture at his sole discretion, with the vice-president claiming it would usurp presidential authority.
TV Dinner Inventor Dies
Gerry Thomas, inventor of the TV dinner, died in Phoenix, Arizona, on July 18 after a bout with cancer. He was a salesman for CA Swanson and Sons in 1954 when he got the idea of packaging frozen meals in a disposable aluminium-foil tray, divided into compartments to keep the foods from mixing. He also gave the product its singular name. Some claim the TV Dinner was the first step toward breaking up the American family because it made it possible for everybody to eat in a modular way. The TV Dinner drew hate mail from men who wanted their wives to cook from scratch like their mothers did.
China Says It Will No Longer Peg Its Currency to the U.S. Dollar
China bowed to months of market and political pressure on Thursday by revaluing the yuan by 2.1 percent and abandoning the currency's decade-old peg against the dollar. In a long-awaited move that it said would improve the running of the economy and give more play to market forces, the central bank said the yuan's value from now on would be linked to a basket of currencies of China's main trading partners.
The Guardian profile: Karl Rove
When Karl Rove is in trouble - and he has been in a lot of it lately - George Bush has a simple way of showing his support. When he walks across the lawn out of the White House he has Rove walk with him
House to Take Up Patriot Act Extension - continuing the process of stripping freedoms away from Americans
July 20 - After months of political maneuvering, the House is set to open debate Thursday on the future of the invasive antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act. The House vote on whether to extend the government's counterterrorism powers will be the first time either chamber of Congress has considered the act as a whole. Officials expect daylong debate on the House floor on Thursday, with a vote probably Friday. The House appears likely to make main parts of the act permanent. The committee refused to include an amendment to prevent the Justice Department from obtaining library and bookstore records, as well as several other amendments to force reconsideration of certain Patriot Act provisions in 4 years instead of 10, as is proposed in the final bill sent to the House. Representative Bernard Sanders, the Vermont independent who wrote the amendment on library records, called the decision by the committee's Republican leaders to keep his proposal off the bill "an outrage" and a subversion of the democratic process.
At this critical moment, we need you to do more than just call or write your Senators to tell them to do their duty to advise and consent.
We need you to do both, and get your friends to do the same.
First, call: Senator Levin
Phone: (202) 224-6221 Senator Stabenow
Phone: (202) 224-4822
Roberts Nomination Raises Red Flags
July 19—This evening, President Bush nominated John Roberts to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. What we know about John Robert's record as Deputy Solicitor General and as a judge shows a troubling lack of concern for the fundamental civil and constitutional rights of all Americans. Americans deserve a justice who will protect our rights and freedoms. Some alarming aspects of Robert's record they must consider include:
Reproductive and Privacy Rights: Roberts urged the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade while arguing before the Court as Deputy Solicitor General in a case that did not even directly concern that issue. His brief plainly states that "Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled."
Separation of Church and State: Roberts argued against clear First Amendment protections for religious liberty and in favor of officially sponsored school prayer at graduation ceremonies before the Supreme Court, which rejected his argument.
Environmental Protections: As a judge, Roberts suggested in a dissent that the Endangered Species Act was unconstitutional as applied to a California development case.
Veteran Protections: Roberts argued American POWs tortured in Iraq during the Gulf War should not be able to utilize federal courts to pursue their claims.
Excessive Arrest Procedures: Roberts ruled against a 12-year old girl who was handcuffed, arrested and taken away by police for eating a single French fry on the D.C. Metro, even though an adult would only have gotten a paper citation in that situation.
Unions bolt from AFL-CIO
In what was described as the largest split in the ranks of the labor movement in nearly 70 years, two of the nation's largest unions yesterday broke away from the AFL-CIO, charging the giant organization has not done enough to stop the steep slide of union membership. The two, the Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union, were joined by two other unions - United Food and Commercial Workers and Unite Here, which represents textile workers - in boycotting the AFL-CIO's national convention in Chicago.
Giving the Hatemongers No Place to Hide
I wasn't surprised to read that British police officers in white protective suits and blue gloves were combing through the Iraq Learning Center bookstore in Leeds for clues to the 7/7 London bombings. Some of the 7/7 bombers hung out at the bookstore. And I won't be surprised if today's bombers also sampled the literature there. Iqra not only sold hatemongering Islamist literature, but, according to The Wall Street Journal, was "the sole distributor of Islamgames, a U.S.-based company that makes video games. The video games feature apocalyptic battles between defenders of Islam and opponents. One game, Ummah Defense I, has the world 'finally united under the Banner of Islam' in 2114, until a revolt by disbelievers. The player's goal is to seek out and destroy the disbelievers."
Why Do They Hate Us? Not Because of Iraq
While yesterday's explosions on London's subway and bus lines were thankfully far less serious than those of two weeks ago, they will lead many to raise a troubling question: has Britain (and Spain as well) been "punished" by Al Qaeda for participating in the American-led military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan? While this is a reasonable line of thinking, it presupposes the answer to a broader and more pertinent question: Are the roots of Islamic terrorism in the Middle Eastern conflicts? If the answer is yes, the solution is simple to formulate, although not to achieve: leave Afghanistan and Iraq, solve the Israel-Palestine conflict. But if the answer is no, as I suspect it is, we should look deeper into the radicalization of young, Westernized Muslims.
The Bush Media
Since July 1, when Sandra Day O'Connor announced she'd be stepping down, the Supreme Court nomination has been Bush's Get Out of Jail Free card, the one thing he would soon shift attention toward in order to lift him from sinking numbers on the war, social security privatization, the economy and a slew of other issues. But with the Rove scandal getting bigger by the day, the White House realized it had to play that card now - though it actually might not keep Rove out of jail. [We wonder how the Bush White House - with Karl Rove in the driver's seat -- gets away with moving the Rove story off the front pages and installing a stealth nominee onto the Supreme Court, all in one fell swoop?]
Retreat by Bush in CIA leak affair
President George W Bush backed away yesterday from a pledge to fire anyone involved in the leaking of a CIA agent's identity. His retreat was a tacit admission of the pressure building up on his leading aide, Karl Rove...
Acid on the rocks: Sulfide mining poised to tunnel into Michigan
It’s a brutal romance that takes many forms. At Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, a six-hour drive due north of Lansing, Lake Superior lobs endless volleys of turquoise breakers into orange sandstone cliffs. Far to the northwest, a more austere coastline wraps the remote Keweenaw Peninsula, where whitecaps slap dark haunches of stone that contain no fossils because they predate all life on Earth.
The Bush administration's relationship with the English language, I confess, just drives me up the wall. How can these people be so comically doofus with the language one minute and so brilliantly Orwellian the next? President Bush's misadventures with the dictionary are legendary, and they're the gift that keeps on giving. Perhaps my favorite classic came while Bush was trying to sell his Social Security program in Upstate New York, and he uttered this timeless sentence: "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."
Nobody Attacks Civilization
British Prime Minister Tony Blair and President George W. Bush went into their standard routine after the London bombings. This was an attack against civilization and all civilized nations, they said. That's bosh and hokum, and it does a disservice to the people. The first step always in solving any problem is to define the problem correctly. There are no terrorists anywhere in the world whose goal is the destruction of civilization, Western or otherwise. The terrorist attacks against the U.S., Great Britain and Spain are motivated exclusively by Western policies toward the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the presence of Western military forces in Islamic countries. Al-Qaeda, the ideological source of these attacks, has always been crystal-clear and specific about its reasons for declaring war against the United States.
Will America be the next terror target?
While our hearts go out to the victims of the terrorist bombings in London, our minds inevitably turn to one question: After nearly four years, why hasn't al Qaeda returned to attack America again?
US Production, wealth, power, services and technology are slip-sliding away to the East
President Bush says the U.S. economy is the envy of the world, and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan insists economic growth is solid despite a bit of froth, but the truth is that the global economic scene is now more troubled that at any time since the trade wars with Japan 20 years ago. The U.S. trade deficit was considered unsustainable at around $25 billion annually by the Reagan administration. It is now nearing $700 billion, an unprecedented 6 percent of our gross domestic product.
Look out for the enemy within
The threat of indiscriminate terror will be with us in any future we can realistically foresee. Terror has causes and it is right that they should be identified. The war in Iraq has given al-Qaeda a major boost, enabling it to link its extremist agenda with grievances that are widely felt in Islamic countries. At the same time, it has resulted in a massive diversion of resources from the real work of counterterrorism and significantly boosted terrorist recruitment. The 'war on terror' suggests terrorism is a global phenomenon but, actually, it remains almost entirely national or regional in its scope and goals. Western governments have helped make al-Qaeda what it is today, but it would be folly to imagine that any shift in their policies can neutralise the threat it now poses. No longer the semi-centralised organisation it was before the destruction of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda has mutated into a brand name that covers an amorphous network of groups.
London terrorist bombings mirror Bush's terrorist energy plan
The horrific terrorist bombings in London are a pale reflection of the terror erupting from George W. Bush's energy plan, which will ultimately kill far more people and wreck far more planetary havoc than four bombs and fifty deaths on a single city's streets.
Study: Parking Lots Pollute
White-striped, asphalt surfaces do more than pave over habitats and facilitate orderly commerce, according to a study conducted by the US Geological Survey; they also contaminate water and soil. The increased presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), the main ingredient in coal-tar sealants used to coat parking lots, has set off alarms.
Paul Harvey's Tribute to Slavery, Nukes, Genocide
Disney/ABC radio personality Paul Harvey, one of the most widely listened to commentators in the United States, presented his listeners on June 23 with an endorsement of genocide and racism that would have been right at home on a white supremacist shortwave broadcast.
Karl Rove Named in Matt Cooper Documents
Now that Time Inc. has turned over documents to a federal judge, revealing who its reporter, Matt Cooper, identified as his source or sources in the Valerie Plame/CIA case, speculation runs rampant. Lawrence O'Donnell, senior MSNBC political analyst, now claims that at least two authoritative sources have confirmed that one name is top White House mastermind Karl Rove.
America's Neo-Conservative World Supremacists Will Fail
Three continuities link the global US of the cold war era with the attempt to assert world supremacy since 2001. The first is its position of international domination, outside the sphere of influence of communist regimes during the cold war, globally since the collapse of the USSR. This hegemony no longer rests on the sheer size of the US economy. Large though this is, it has declined since 1945 and its relative decline continues. It is no longer the giant of global manufacturing. The centre of the industrialised world is rapidly shifting to the eastern half of Asia. Unlike older imperialist countries, and unlike most other developed industrial countries, the US has ceased to be a net exporter of capital, or indeed the largest player in the international game of buying up or establishing firms in other countries, and the financial strength of the state rests on the continued willingness of others, mostly Asians, to maintain an otherwise intolerable fiscal deficit.
The Real News in the Downing Street Memos
It is now nine months since I obtained the first of the "Downing Street memos," thrust into my hand by someone who asked me to meet him in a quiet watering hole in London for what I imagined would just be a friendly drink. The six leaked documents I took away with me that night were to change completely my opinion of the decision to go to war and the honesty of Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush.
The Real News in the Downing Street Memos
In other words, Bush and Blair began their war not in March 2003, as everyone believed, but at the end of August 2002, six weeks before Congress approved military action against Iraq.
U.S. Has Plans to Again Make Own Plutonium
The Bush administration is planning the government's first production of plutonium 238 since the cold war, stirring debate over the risks and benefits of the deadly material. The substance, valued as a power source, is so radioactive that a speck can cause cancer.
Pentagon Creating Student Database
The Defense Department began working yesterday with a private marketing firm to create a database of high school students ages 16 to 18 and all college students to help the military identify potential recruits in a time of dwindling enlistment in some branches. The program is provoking a furor among privacy advocates. The new database will include personal information including birth dates, Social Security numbers, e-mail addresses, grade-point averages, ethnicity and what subjects the students are studying.
Cardholders Kept in Dark After Breach
Consumer advocates said credit card customers have been denied crucial information in the wake of a recent data breach, as some major banks are declining to tell cardholders whether their account may have been accessed by hackers. In a security lapse disclosed by MasterCard International Inc. last week, 40 million credit card and debit card numbers were exposed to an intruder who gained access sometime last year through a credit-processing firm. An interagency group of federal banking regulators has begun an investigation into the incident.
Spray-on Mud: The Ultimate Accessory for City 4x4 Drivers
In case you're still unconvinced about the futility of urban SUVs, consider this: bottled mud for the gas guzzlers. With the purchase of the spray-on scum, time-crunched SUV owners can look like they're out off-roading the Joneses without scratching the truck's paint job.
Social Security Follies
After listening to Mr. Bush talk of little else during his second term, the American people understand quite well what he is proposing for Social Security, and by wide margins reject it. In fact, the polls show that the more they learn about privatization, the less they like it. And with good reason. The very real risks of privatization - in terms of retirement security and the enormous budgetary cost to the country - far outweigh the potential rewards.
GOP wants Social Security surplus in private accounts
Washington -- Leading House Republicans and Senate conservatives announced a plan Wednesday to create individual accounts from the Social Security surplus, a move long urged by outside advocates as a last-ditch effort to salvage President Bush's keystone domestic policy. Calling the proposal a way to stop the raid on Social Security, Rep. Jim McCrery, R-La., said the accounts would wall off the estimated $87 billion cash surplus in the giant retirement system and prevent it from being spent on other government operations, as it largely has been since Social Security payroll taxes were last raised in 1983. But the plan quickly raised a firestorm among Democratic leaders and their allied interest groups, who moved rapidly to denounce it as a gimmick that was especially hypocritical coming from Republicans who have been spending the surplus. The money paid into the Social Security retirement plan has been spent for years on everything from highways to the war in Iraq and widely angers ordinary citizens — Republicans have raided Social Security by nearly $670 billion since Bush became president.
55 percent of doctors influenced by religion
A study from the University of Chicago, being billed as the first to examine physicians' religious beliefs, has found that 55 percent of doctors say their religion influences how they practice medicine.
Whose conscience rules?
I don't believe that anyone should be compelled to do work they regard as unethical. History is full of heroes who rebelliously followed their consciences. It's also full of people who shamefully followed orders. For that matter, I believe that companies and institutions should have a code of ethics. What is the alternative to corporate responsibility and public morality? Enron?
Oil Addicts Anonymous We are addicted to oil. The United States represents only 5 percent of the world's population yet consumes 25 percent of the world's oil. From the Middle East to Nigeria to Colombia, more than half of our oil comes from conflict regions. We are willing to topple governments to get more oil. We will risk the principles of democracy itself in order to get our fix.
Terri Schiavo: a Postmortem
Reporting autopsy results, Florida Medical Examiner Jon Thogmartin said that Terri Schiavo could not have benefited from therapy or treatment; her brain had atrophied and weighed less than half of a normal brain for a woman her age. She had also become blind, and the autopsy showed no signs of physical abuse. This damage was irreversible.
Take My Privacy, Please!
The Patriot Act - brilliant! Its critics would have preferred a less stirring title, perhaps something along the lines of the Enhanced Snooping, Library and Hospital Database Seizure Act. But then who, even right after 9/11, would have voted for that? Precisely. He who names it and frames it, claims it. The Patriot Act, however, may turn out to be among the lesser threats to our individual and collective privacy.
Renowned Funds Manager Julian Robertson, Predicts Global Economic Collapse
Martin describes Julian Robertson as "One of the greatest of the old-timers. 53 years on the Street. He manages the Robertson group of funds. They used to call him, still do call him `Never Been Wrong' Robertson. He has predicted every economic cycle, every debacle, every bull market, and every bear market." [Editor: this is a good argument for NOT putting your retirement funds in the stock market]
Illegal Use of "We Are Traverse City" Web Site Some company or individual is pretending to represent We Are Traverse City and is distributing the following message in an e-mail. Do NOT respond to this message! It is being used illegally in an attempt to get personal information from you. This type of scam is referred to in the industry as Phishing (appearing to be a legitimate web site, when in fact providing information to criminals. For more information about Phishing Scams, click here.) When you click on the link provided in the email message below you are actually taken to http://18.104.22.168/confirm.php ... a domain registered as 22.214.171.124.reverse.layeredtech.com
SUBJECT: *IMPORTANT* Please Validate Your Account
Dear Valued Member,
According to our site policy you will have to confirm your account by the following link or else your account will be suspended within 24 hours for security reasons.
Thank you for your attention to this question. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Sincerely,Wearetraversecity Security Department Assistant.
Thus Saith the National Leadership of the United States
"I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good...Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a biblical duty, we are called by God to conquer this country. We don't want equal time. We don't want pluralism." "Our goal must be simple. We must have a Christian nation built on God's law, on the ten Commandments. No apologies." ... and other selected quotes...
The Scramble to Protect Personal Data
Perhaps more than most corporations, Citigroup knows the perils of moving personal data. In February last year, a magnetic tape with information on about 120,000 Japanese customers of its Citibank division disappeared while being shipped by truck from a data management center in Singapore. The tape held names, addresses, account numbers and balances. It has never turned up. And this week the company revealed that it had happened again - this time the loss of an entire box of tapes in the care of the United Parcel Service, with personal information on nearly four million American customers.
Republicans: The Anti-Christian, Christian Party
Howard Dean has received a great deal of unfair criticism for calling the Republicans a “pretty much white Christian party.” Dean was actually far to mild in his comments and his description of the Republican Party in regards to their narrow demographic and ideological base. Personally, this writer does disagree with Dean on only one aspect of his comment. The Republicans calling themselves Christian are promoting an essentially anti-Christian agenda. While these so-called “Christian Right” political leaders claim to speak for the Christians of America, I think they are actually speaking only for a small minority of Christians who are placing Bush Republicanism above the teachings of Jesus Christ.
US leads in mental illness
The United States leads in mental illness globally with 46 percent of Americans suffering mental disorders ranging from anxiety, depression to substance abuse in their lifetime,
The US has a vast and very expensive Homeland Security bureaucracy with nothing to do. There hasn't been a terrorist attack in America since 2001. There have been a vast quantity of terror alerts, the purpose of which was to scare Americans into supporting an unnecessary and illegal aggressive attack on Iraq. As very few, if any, real terrorists have turned up, the FBI has resorted to creating terrorists by soliciting Muslim-Americans and appealing to them with schemes to aid "jihadists."
Beware the Holy War
The Power of Nightmares, a three-hour BBC documentary directed by Adam Curtis, is arguably the most important film about the "war on terrorism" since the events of September 11. It is more intellectually engaging, more historically probing and more provocative than any of its rivals, including Fahrenheit 9/11. But although it has been shown at Cannes and at a few film festivals in the United States, it has yet to find an American distributor, and for understandable reasons. The documentary asserts that Al Qaeda is largely a phantom of the imagination of the US national security apparatus. Indeed, The Power of Nightmares seeks nothing less than to reframe the past several decades of American foreign policy, from the Soviet menace of the 1970s to the Al Qaeda threat of today, to argue that neoconservatives in the American foreign policy establishment have vastly exaggerated those threats in their quest to remake the world in the image of the United States.
Facts Every war supporter should have known
Who "mass-graved" thousands of Iraqis by bulldozing over them? Where did the figure of "300,000" originate as the number of Iraqis "killed by Hussein"? What nation had the highest number of citizens with PhDs on the world? And had more PhDs than America? What nation won Humanitarian Awards for its literacy programs?
Gitmo Detainees Say Muslims Were Sold
They fed them well. The Pakistani tribesmen slaughtered a sheep in honor of their guests, Arabs and Chinese Muslims famished from fleeing U.S. bombing in the Afghan mountains. But their hosts had ulterior motives: to sell them to the Americans, said the men who are now prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.
A Mini-guide to Megachurches
Democrats continue their post-election scramble to tap the religion vein by hoisting the "values" banner. They'd be wise to take a look at the prime purveyors of this vaunted political currency -- megachurches -- whose success is driven as much by market values as morals.
Behind the Lone Terrorist, a Pack Mentality
Most people have never been to a Ku Klux Klan rally or a militia meeting; you don't stumble into one by walking through the wrong door at the dentist's office. Chances are, you wouldn't know how to find where a white supremacist group meets in your community. In fact, you'd probably be shocked to learn that there was one in your community.
Rosy View in Time Of Rising Violence Revives Criticism
President Bush's portrayal of a wilting insurgency in Iraq at a time of escalating violence and insecurity throughout the country is reviving the debate over the administration's Iraq strategy and the accuracy of its upbeat claims. While Bush and Vice President Cheney offer optimistic assessments of the situation, a fresh wave of car bombings and other attacks killed 80 U.S. soldiers and more than 700 Iraqis last month alone and prompted Iraqi leaders to appeal to the administration for greater help. Privately, some administration officials have concluded the violence will not subside through this year. The disconnect between Rose Garden optimism and Baghdad pessimism, according to government officials and independent analysts, stems not only from Bush's focus on tentative signs of long-term progress but also from the shrinking range of policy options available to him if he is wrong.
Antidote To Secrecy
The great benefit of W. Mark Felt's decision to identify himself as "Deep Throat," the famous Watergate secret source, is that a whole new generation of Americans now has a chance to learn just how perverse were the values that infected the Nixon White House.
Un-American by Any Name
Now that the Bush administration has made clear how offended it is at Amnesty International's word choice in characterizing the Guantánamo Bay detention camp "the gulag of our times," we hope it will soon get around to dealing with the substantive problems that the Amnesty report is only the latest to identify. What Guantánamo exemplifies - harsh, indefinite detention without formal charges or legal recourse - may or may not bring to mind the Soviet Union's sprawling network of Stalinist penal colonies. It certainly has nothing in common with any American notions of justice or the rule of law. What makes Amnesty's gulag metaphor apt is that Guantánamo is merely one of a chain of shadowy detention camps that also includes Abu Ghraib in Iraq, the military prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and other, secret locations run by the intelligence agencies. Each has produced its own stories of abuse, torture and criminal homicide. These are not isolated incidents, but part of a tightly linked global detention system with no accountability in law.
Switzerland Set to Boost Gay Rights
Same-sex couples would get to register their partnerships and have similar rights and obligations as married partners in tax, inheritance, social security and pension matters. The most recent survey, published May 25, found 67 percent of voters are in favor. The measure would bring Switzerland in line with 12 European countries including Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, the U.K. and Spain that allow registration or marriage, while countries including Italy, Austria, Greece and Slovakia have no laws recognizing gay partnerships. In the U.S., California, Vermont and Hawaii are among the states that recognize rights and obligations for homosexual couples and Massachusetts is the only state that allows marriage.
Following Terrorists' Money
Since Sept. 11, 2001, the United States and the Bush administration regularly asserts that al Qaeda is financially weakened and forced to cut expenditures. There is now reason to question these assumptions. The pace of terrorist recruitment and activities appears to be accelerating, not decreasing, and the number of terrorist attacks continues to grow.
A Small but Dangerous Clause
At a time when world leaders are struggling to keep dangerous nuclear materials from terrorists and rogue nations, a devious provision in the energy bill now in Congress heads in the opposite direction.
'Team Jesus Christ'
The reports of the religious climate at the Air Force Academy are unsettling: A chaplain instructs cadets to try to convert classmates by warning that they "will burn in the fires of hell" if they do not accept Christ. During basic training, freshman cadets who decline to attend after-dinner chapel are marched back to their dormitories in "heathen flights" organized by upperclassmen. A Jewish student is taunted as a Christ killer and told that the Holocaust was the just punishment for that offense. The academy's head football coach posts a banner in the locker room that proclaims, "I am a Christian first and last. . . . I am a member of Team Jesus Christ."
Bush not at all realistic about the war
Conservatives believe they know the best way to honor the sacrifices of our troops in Iraq: We must all pretend that the war is going fine, that progress is proceeding according to plan, that the insurgency is soon to be routed, and that victory is somewhere just over the horizon. Both President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney evidently believe their own uplifting rhetoric and brusque dismissals of criticism. They won't let reality-based analysis intrude on their faith-based perspective.
An Anti-American Terrorist Movement
When I was in college, I wrote a research paper that changed my life forever. I had grown up in a fundamentalist Christian family living in the buckle of the Bible Belt where I was fed a steady diet of racism and Cold War anti-communism. My grandfather had been a member of the Klan in the 1920s, and as a high school student, I was saving money to join the John Birch Society. Most personally detrimental to me, however, was the denigration by my high-school-educated parents of higher education. “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing,” they exhorted from the Book of Proverbs in the Old Testament. And, when I insisted on attending college, they reminded me incessantly that the wisdom of man is foolishness in the eyes of God.
Deep Throats and Stolen Votes
Ironically this week, Mark Felt, former Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, revealed that he was Watergate’s “Deep Throat” and perhaps the most famous whistle-blower in our nation’s history, but the embattled Deputy Director of the Hocking County Board of Elections (BOE) Sherole Eaton, Ohio’s most well-known whistle blower, may be fired for courageous attempt to expose alleged election tampering.
Serving Corporations as Treason
What is the essence of America? How does one describe the typical American? Americans come in many forms. America is much more than a specific geographic area. We were still America and American when the nation had only 13 states stretching along the Eastern seaboard. We are many races. We hold many different political views. We engage in many types of economic activities to earn a living. We have many religions. We come from ancestors arriving from all over the world. We are rural, suburban and urban dwellers. America and American are bonded together by a set of ideas that I call the great American experiment.
Policies of abuse started at the top
A photo of President Bush gingerly holding a month-old baby was on the front page of Wednesday's New York Times. Bush is in the habit of telling us how precious he thinks life is, all life. The story was about legislation concerning embryonic stem cell research, and it included a comment from Tom DeLay urging Americans to reject "the treacherous notion that while all human lives are sacred, some are more sacred than others."
Soldiers of Christ: Inside America’s Most Powerful Megachurch
"Church" is insufficient to describe the complex. There is a permanent structure called the Tent, which regularly fills with hundreds or thousands of teens and twenty-somethings for New Life's various youth gatherings. Next to the Tent stands the old sanctuary, a gray box capable of seating 1,500; this juts out into the new sanctuary, capacity 7,500, already too small. At the complex's western edge is the World Prayer Center, which looks like a great iron wedge driven into the plains. The true architectural wonder of New Life, however, is the pyramid of authority into which it orders its 11,000 members.
‘Deep Throat’ emerges from Watergate shadow
WASHINGTON — The Washington Post confirmed Tuesday that W. Mark Felt, a former No. 2 official at the FBI, was “Deep Throat,” the secretive source who provided information that helped unravel the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s and contributed to the resignation of then-President Nixon.
Spyware-Removal Program Tagged as a Trap
Security experts are warning Internet users about a new piece of software called SpywareNo that poses as a spyware-removal tool but is actually being used to persuade unsuspecting Internet users to download spyware programs and Trojans.
America's Religious Right - Saints or Subversives?
When Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin boasted that his God was bigger than Islam's, many people demanded his scalp. But, as angry as his critics were, they dismissed what he said as little more than military machismo, political insensitivity, and bone-headed public relations. How could we possibly win Muslim hearts and minds when this highly decorated Crusader so callously belittled Allah? Few critics asked the tougher question: What did Gen. Boykin's remarks mean for the U.S. Constitution, which he had sworn to support and defend, and which - in the very first words of the First Amendment - forbids any "establishment of religion?"
Happy Madejczyk Day!
May 25th is the day we honor the pathetic and twisted and spread the news of their pathetic twistedness to all who will listen... and three who won't! This is an especially good bed time story so your children will learn to avoid being pathetic and twisted. Be sure to spread the news.... and be glad you're not pathetic (just a little twisted at times.....)
Anti-American Sentiments Across the World: Newsweek to Blame?
A major controversy erupted when the May 9 issue of Newsweek magazine reported an allegation that U.S. military guards had flushed a Koran down a toilet in front of Muslim prisoners at Guantánamo. After Newsweek was essentially forced to retract the story, the White House demanded that the magazine do public relations to mend the "damaged U.S. image." The real outrage is that Newsweek was forced to retract a story that's essentially true!
Border Vigilantes: Praised by the Terminator
Throughout the entire month of April, several hundred retired border patrol agents, ex-Marines, former corrections officers, neo-Nazis, white separatists, and others answered a call from the "Minuteman Project" to protect the "homeland" from "the invasion of illegal aliens." The Minutemen vigilantes patrolled a 23-mile stretch of the Arizona/Mexico border. In the week after the month-long Minuteman Project ended, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger commended these vigilantes on a right-wing radio station, KFI AM. He said, "I think they've done a terrific job... They've cut down the crossing of illegal immigrants a huge percentage. So it just shows that it works when you go and make an effort and when you work hard. It's a doable thing." What does it say about the times we are living in when the governor of the largest state in the U.S. (and a state with a huge immigrant population) openly praises vigilantes who hunt down immigrants and says that these Minutemen—many of whom are neo-Nazis and white separatists—are "exemplary citizens"? Isn't it similar to how Hitler praised his stormtroopers for beating and murdering Jewish people?
Don't blame Newsweek
As Riley used to say on an ancient television sitcom, "This is a revoltin' development." There seems to be a bit of a campaign on the right to blame Newsweek for the anti-American riots in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other Islamic countries. Uh, people, I hate to tell you this, but the story about Americans abusing the Koran in order to enrage prisoners has been out there for quite some time.
President gets lecture Michigan Christian College
It's that time of year again when President George W. Bush turns up around the United States in sumptuous commencement robes, assures thousands of college graduates that a C average does not preclude the presidency and urges them to go forth and do good. Calvin College, a small evangelical school in the strategic Republican stronghold of Grand Rapids, Michigan, seemed a perfect stop this past Saturday for the president's message. Or so thought Karl Rove, the White House political chief, who two months ago effectively bumped Calvin's scheduled commencement speaker when he asked that Bush be invited instead. A number of students, faculty and alumni objected so strongly to the president's visit that by last Friday nearly 800 of them had signed a letter of protest that appeared as a full-page ad in The Grand Rapids Press. The letter said, in part: "Your deeds, Mr. President - neglecting the needy to coddle the rich, desecrating the environment and misleading the country into war - do not exemplify the faith we live by."
Bush visit brings controversy
Grand Rapids—Calvin College may be predominantly Republican, but a visit from President George W. Bush on Saturday is stirring up some discontent among students, faculty and alumni. One-third of the faculty members have signed a letter of protest that will appear in a half-page ad in the Grand Rapids Press on Saturday, the day Bush is to deliver the commencement address to 900 graduating seniors at Calvin. "As Christians, we are called to be peacemakers and to initiate war only as a last resort," the letter says. "We believe your administration has launched an unjust and unjustified war in Iraq."
Evangelical college professors protest Bush Grand Rapids visit
Grand Rapids—"As Christians, we are called to be peacemakers and to initiate war only as a last resort. We believe your administration has launched an unjust and unjustified war in Iraq." "No single political position should be identified with God's will," says the ad, which also chastises the president for "actions that favor the wealthy of our society and burden the poor." Christians are to be characterized by love and gentleness, it adds, but "we believe that your administration has fostered intolerance and divisiveness and has often failed to listen to those with whom it disagrees." Moreover, says the letter, set to run in the Grand Rapids Press, the Bush administration's environmental policies "have harmed creation," and it asks the president "to re-examine your policies in light of our God-given duty to pursue justice with mercy."
Buy Your Gas at Citgo: Join the BUY-cott!
Looking for an easy way to protest Bush foreign policy week after week? And an easy way to help alleviate global poverty? Buy your gasoline at Citgo stations. Citgo is a U.S. refining and marketing firm that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company. Money you pay to Citgo goes primarily to Venezuela -- not Saudi Arabia or the Middle East. By buying your gasoline at Citgo, you are contributing to the billions of dollars that Venezuela's democratic government is using to provide health care, literacy and education, and subsidized food for the majority of Venezuelans.
Peak Oil - Peak Economy PDF
Our analysis suggests that there is every reason for concern – and unless serious action is begun now, we may very well be headed toward another
Tips to Avoid Online Identity Theft
According to the Gartner Group, about 57 million consumers have received fraudelent yet seemingly legitimate e-mails, and 11 million of these users have been scammed into going to Web sites posing as financial institutions. From there, these sites try to get users to reveal personal information such as credit card numbers, PINs, Social Security numbers and more.
Fear-Mongering and Demonizing Sermons Promote Violence
"The leaders of America's anti-gay industry are directly responsible for the continuing surge in hate violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. While other forms of crime continued to fall, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs has documented a 4% increase in anti-LGBT crime in 2004, coming on the heels of a 26% increase in the last half of 2003.
Four Dead in Ohio: 35th Anniversary of Kent State Shootings
On May 4th, 1970 - 35 years ago today - National Guardsmen opened fire on a crowd of unarmed students at Kent State University. Four students were killed and nine others wounded. We commemorate the 35th anniversary by airing an excerpt of the documentary, "Kent State: The Day the War Came Home" that includes interview with students and National Guardsmen who were there.
Letting in the Draft? An overstretched military? You bet. Things going terribly in Iraq? No kidding. Why only yesterday, Jill Carroll and Dan Murphy of the Christian Science Monitor reminded us that, with 140,000 troops (and untold numbers of mercenaries) in Iraq, the Americans can't defend a crucial six-mile stretch of highway between the two lodestars of the American occupation -- Baghdad International Airport, a vast, fortified military encampment, and the Green Zone in the heart of the capital, another vast, fortified encampment.
The Draft: Between Iraq and a Hard Place
After two years of intensive fighting in Iraq, the Pentagon is feeling the strain in every military muscle and has been looking for relief in just about every direction but one -- the draft. All across the United States today, young people are wondering whether, sooner or later, in its increasingly airless military universe, the Bush administration will open the window a crack and let the draft in.
Quick on the Draw
I'm thinking of moving to Florida, but not for any reason you might imagine, such as warm weather, blue skies and Disney World. I want to go there because Gov. Jeb Bush just signed a law that if you believe someone is going to shoot you, you can shoot him first. It is a fair law and a just law, and the National Rifle Association has worked hard to get it passed.
Spying on the spyware makers
The biggest, richest American companies are buying advertising through spyware. The biggest, richest venture capital firms are investing in those who make this kind of unwanted software. That's names like American Express, Sprint PCS, Disney, Expedia, Guy Kawasaki's firm.
Beware How You Google
Security researchers warn that a one-letter typo in Google's domain name could lead to a massive virus- and spyware- infection attack.
Bush Is Blowing Smoke on Energy
Hitting all the points in a noted GOP pollster's playbook, the President's plan is driven by politics not policy. Worse, it won't cut oil dependancy.
No More Violence Against Our Sistas Video Project PURPOSE: Sista II Sista is committed to social justice. We are currently working on fighting violence against women of color in our community without relying on the police. We will learn how to make a film and create our own music in order to collectively make a documentary video from our perspectives on violence against women of color. We will use that video to support our organizing work and educate our community.
Beachfront protesters mark year blocking US air base in Okinawa
Japan (AFP) - His arms burnt red from the sun, his sideburns and beard graying, Sakae Toyama is ready for a showdown in his quest to stop the US Marines from building an air base over a coral reef. Toyama, other activists and fishermen will Tuesday mark a full year of a dawn-to-dusk sit-in on the beach and in offshore rigs in this village on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa. Greenpeace is supporting the protest to protect these clear, emerald green waters on the Pacific coastline, which is a crucial feeding ground for the dugong, an endangered sea mammal also known as a sea cow...
Speak softly and carry a bouquet of pink roses
Quote of the day: When Justice Ginsburg spoke, softly and precisely, a pin could be heard to drop, especially in answer to a student's question on her view of the proper balance between civil liberties and the need for increased security in a time of terrorism. "We have not been given to security procedures to the extent that other countries have," said Justice Ginsburg. "And you must remember that [the Supreme Court] is a reactive institution. If the people don't care about protecting their liberties, there is no court that can [address] that sadness..."
As The World Burns
Why the “balanced” media would rather promote paid flaks and fantasy than report the biggest story on earth.
If you want something to celebrate this Earth Day, turn to Ottawa, not Washington.
Editors' Note: Justice Antonin Scalia got more than he bargained for when he accepted the NYU Annual Survey of American Law's invitation to engage students in a Q&A session. Randomly selected to attend the limited-seating and closed-to-the-press event, NYU law school student Eric Berndt asked Scalia to explain his dissent in Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 Supreme Court case that overturned Bowers v. Hardwick and struck down the nation's sodomy laws. Not satisfied with Scalia's answer, Berndt asked the Justice, "Do you sodomize your wife?" Scalia demurred and law school administrators promptly turned off Berndt's microphone. As Berndt explains in his post to fellow law school students, it was an entirely fair question to pose to a Justice whose opinion--had it been in the majority--would have allowed the state to ask that same question to thousands of gays and lesbians, and to punish them if the answer is yes.
Five-Year-Old Girl Handcuffing Caught On Camera
Fla. (AP) -- An attorney says he plans legal action against St. Petersburg police officers who handcuffed an unruly 5-year-old girl after she acted up in her kindergarten class. After being placed in the back of a police cruiser, police released the girl to her mother after prosecutors informed them they wouldn't bring charges against a 5-year-old.
Rice changed terrorism report
A state department report which showed an increase in terrorism incidents around the world in 2004 was altered to strip it of its pessimistic statistics, it emerged yesterday. The country-by-country report, Patterns of Global Terrorism, has come out every year since 1986, accompanied by statistical tables. This year's edition showed a big increase, from 172 significant terrorist attacks in 2003 to 655 in 2004. Much of the increase took place in Iraq, contradicting recent Pentagon claims that the insurgency there is waning. Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. secretary of state, ordered the report to be withdrawn and a new one issued minus the statistics.
The new McCarthyism
A witch hunt against a Columbia professor, and the New York Times' disgraceful support for it, represent the gravest threat to academic freedom in decades. --by Juan Cole "A member of the U.S. Congress calls for an assistant professor at a major university to be summarily fired... It is not 1953, the Congress member is not Sen. Joseph McCarthy, and the professor is not being accused of being a communist. No, it is 2005, the Congress member is Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., and the professor is being accused of being anti-Israel. The lesson for academics, and American society as a whole: McCarthyism is unacceptable except when criticism of Israel is involved."
Ten years ago today, an anti-government extremist named Timothy McVeigh parked a Ryder truck filled with fertilizer and fuel oil in front of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. At 9:02 in the morning, the truck exploded and carved out the guts of that building like a gourd. 168 people, including 19 children, died in the blast. It remains today the most devastating act of domestic terrorism in American history.
Westboro Baptist "Church" crosses YET ANOTHER line
Nobody quite makes our jaw drop to the floor like the Phelps clan of Westboro Baptist Church/ GodHatesFags.com. Just when we think we've seen it all, the crew step the fiery hatred up yet another notch. But today's findings cross a line that we honestly didn't think even they were capable of crossing. The unbelievably hate-filled Baptist congregation have posted a flier on their web site, with the headline: "Deal with it, you idolatrous monsters, The Pope is in Hell."
A Party Inverted
Before deciding what Democrats should do now, it's important to see what Republicans have done right over many years. When the Goldwater Republicans lost in 1964, they didn't try to become Democrats. They tried to figure out how to make their own ideas more appealing to the voters.
Teachers and Classmates Express Outrage at Arrest of Girl, 16, as a Terrorist Threat
At Heritage High School in East Harlem, where the student idiom is hip-hop and salsa, the 16-year-old Guinean girl stood out, but not just because she wore Islamic dress. She was so well liked that when she ran for student body president, she came in second to one of her best friends - the Christian daughter of the president of the parent-teacher association, Deleen P. Carr.
Congress Overhauls Bankruptcy Laws
April 14, 2005 · The House of Representatives approves an overhaul of the nation's bankruptcy laws Wednesday, in a vote of 302 to 126. The bill, which passed in the Senate last month, will make it more difficult to get rid of debts by filing for bankruptcy, forcing tens of thousand of people to work out repayment plans instead.
More News on The Sacred Institution of Marriage
As you may recall, this past November Michigan passed the boneheaded "Michigan Marriage Amendment to the State Constitution denying health care and other benefits to unmarried partners and their children. However, Michigan is not the only place that is embracing the inane: (1) In six weddings this year in India, two boys and four girls were married in tribal-custom ceremonies to dogs, which is believed to bring better luck to children who have been cursed by teething first from the upper jaw ("dog teeth"). (Agence France-Presse reported that the four February marriages in Jharkhand state involved, [thank goodness, dogs of the opposite gender from the spouse].) (2) In February, a Pakistani tribal council in Kacha Chohan (Punjab state) ordered a 2-year-old girl to marry a man, age 42, to punish the girl's uncle for having sex with that man's current wife (although the marriage will not be official until the girl turns 18). [Agence France-Presse, 2-24-05, 4-7-05] [New Haven Register-AP, 2-21-05]
Hone Your Border Crossing Skills
A February Atlanta Journal-Constitution dispatch from El Alberto, Mexico (near Mexico City), profiled a theme park in which potential and wannabe emigrants to the United States can test their survival skills in an obstacle course that touches on the rigors migrants endure sneaking across the border. The cost of this rehearsal for a better life is an admission fee of the equivalent of US$13. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2-20-05]
New Web Site: Weird Michigan!
It's a pageant of the improbable; a road-trip toski boy the bizarre. Scratch the Wolverine State's surface with one curving talon and discover....Imps and goblins from the dark underbelly of Michigan's past, roadside signs and icons like the giant fiberglass ski guy, people and characters who live la vida loca, monsters such as the Michigan Dog Man, ghosts and more.
A Short History of Progress
Archaeologist-historian-novelist Ronald Wright summarizes and analyzes six spectacular civilizational collapses from throughout our history, and reads us the riot act about what we need to do now to avoid another collapse, this time a global one.
Comic Books as Psychological Warfare
What better way to mold impressionable young minds than with friendly-faced cartoons? That is the persuasive tactic the US government plans to use to push American propaganda onto the youth of the Middle East and Islamic world. The government is currently recruiting writers, artists, and fluent Arabic speakers to apply for such positions, although the plot has already been determined (it's based on "security forces, military and police.") The project will be executed by the US Special Operations Command -- a new military entity that shares its home base with the Fourth Psychological Operations Group.
Coming to Your Pocket: A Terrorist Beacon? April 5, 2005—What do you suppose our enemies would pay for a device capable of identifying all the Americans walking down the street in a foreign city? And why might the U.S. Department of State be making such a weapon possible? We're talking about a plan to embed RFID (radio-frequency identification) chips into U.S. passports, which the State Department claims will help swoosh U.S. citizens through border crossings.
Future border rules
April 6, 2005—Under proposed rules, by Jan. 1, 2008, Canadians and Americans will need secure documentation proving citizenship to cross the border between the two countries. The requirements would take effect on Dec. 31, 2006, for travelers entering the United States from Mexico and Canada by air and sea, and on Dec. 31, 2007, by land. The deadline is even earlier -- Dec. 31, 2005 -- for travel from Bermuda, the Caribbean and Panama.
Tales of a Professional Social Engineer
April 7, 2005—Jim Stickley robs banks, government offices and other allegedly secure locations. And he does it the unorthodox way. Stickley doesn't go in like Edward G. Robinson with a Tommy gun. He gets you to like him and trust him and leave him alone while he steals your confidential information and other assets that you should be guarding unceasingly. His is a field that has come to be known as social engineering.
Living Will for You
With all the talk about writing a Living Will. We submit the following for you to copy and paste for your own use. It begins "I, [Your Name], being of sound mind and body, unequivocally declare that in the event of a catastrophic injury, I do not wish to be kept alive indefinitely by artificial means. I hereby instruct my loved ones and relatives to remove any and all life-support systems, once it has been determined that my brain is longer functioning in a cognizant realm. However that judgment should be made only after thorough consultation with medical experts; i.e., individuals who actually have been trained, educated and certified as doctors." ...
Via the Nation whose readers have compiled a handy list of republican terms and their meaning. Modify and/or add your own, Enjoy.
Maximum pain is aim of new US weapon
The US military is funding development of a weapon that delivers a bout of excruciating pain from up to 2 kilometres away. Pain researchers are furious that work aimed at controlling pain has been used to develop a weapon. And they fear that the technology will be used for torture. Researchers are looking for "optimal pulse parameters to evoke peak nociceptor activation" - in other words, cause the maximum pain possible before causing injury or death.
The Return of the Draft
With the army desperate for recruits, should college students be packing their bags for Canada? According to an internal Selective Service memo made public under the Freedom of Information Act, the agency's acting director met with two of Rumsfeld's undersecretaries in February 2003 precisely to debate, discuss and ponder a return to the draft. This new draft, it suggests, could be invoked to meet the needs of both the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security. The memo then proposes, in detail, that the Selective Service be "re-engineered" to cover all Americans -- "men and (for the first time) women" -- ages eighteen to thirty-four. In addition to name, date of birth and Social Security number, young adults would have to provide the agency with details of their specialized skills on an ongoing basis until they passed out of draft jeopardy at age thirty-five.
In gods we trust
Evangelicals insist that the U.S. is a Christian country. An increasing number of Americans beg to differ. (So does the Constitution). Only 14 percent of voters in an exit poll for the presidential elections in 2000 characterized themselves as part of the "Christian right." In fact, polls show that the United States is becoming less religious.
Bigotry doesn't come a la carte
Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox has issued an opinion that the constitutional amendment created by Proposal 2 does intend to discriminate against same-gender couples in regard to health care benefits. It remains to be seen how many additional horrific injustices Michigan's citizens will suffer as the proponents of this constitutional amendment wield it as an incredibly powerful weapon of their basic prejudice against lesbian and gay people.
The Era of Exploitation
President Bush believes in an "ownership" society, which means that except for the wealthy, you're on your own. The president's budget would cut funding for Medicaid, food stamps, education, transportation, health care for veterans, law enforcement, medical research and safety inspections for food and drugs. And, of course, it contains big new tax cuts for the wealthy. These are the new American priorities. Republicans will tell you they were ratified in the last presidential election. We may be locked in a long and costly war, and federal deficits may be spiraling toward the moon, but the era of shared sacrifices is over. This is the era of entrenched exploitation. . All sacrifices will be made by working people and the poor, and the vast bulk of the benefits will accrue to the rich.
Social Security: The 2005 OASDI Trustees Report
March 23—Social Security is in better shape than GW Bush would like you to believe. Here is the actual government data. The 2005 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds, was issued on March 23, 2005. The report presents the current and projected future financial status of the trust funds.
A Real American Value
22 March 2005—Cindy Sheehan's eyes showed no fear, only fierce determination. The co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace stepped forward and a crowd of nearly four thousand people slowly began to follow her up a steep hill and into the nation's consciousness. The mother of Specialist Casey Sheehan, a soldier who now lies in a grave in Vacaville, California, traveled all the way across the country to Fayetteville, NC, the town outside of Ft. Bragg. She came to grieve and to add her righteous anger to a growing sentiment among military families and veterans that the war in Iraq is wasting the lives of yet another generation. A young man in a red beret and a desert camouflage jacket walked purposefully behind her. The banner he helped carry read "Iraq Veterans Against the War." Joshua Despain served in Iraq with Ft. Bragg's 82nd Airborne.
Coalition Forms to Oppose Parts of Antiterrorism Law
Battle lines were drawn Tuesday in the debate over the government's counterterrorism powers, as an unlikely coalition of liberal civil-rights advocates, conservative libertarians, gun-rights supporters and medical privacy advocates voiced their objections to crucial parts of the law that expanded those powers after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
A state of persistent vegetation
...Meanwhile, our ever-mendacious Commander-in-Chief chimes in with this in reference to Terri Schiavo: "This is a complex case with serious issues, but in extraordinary circumstances like this, it is wisest to always err on the side of life." Oh my, yes. If there's anything that defines George Bush's career, it is his tendency to err on the side of life: They don't have much time, or much reason to hope: Republican presidential nominee Governor George W. Bush, who has had more executions during his five-year tenure in Austin than any other governor in the nation since capital punishment was reinstated, has made his support for executing mentally retarded inmates clear. In 1995, the newly minted governor rejected a clemency plea from lawyers for Mario Marquez, a mentally retarded adult whose verbal and reasoning skills were comparable to those of a 7-year-old child. Since then, Governor Bush has upheld his position, refusing to take mental capacity into account when reviewing last-minute pleas. The Texas Board of Paroles, the only body in the state with the authority to grant full-out clemency, voted unanimously to refuse Cruz's requests. [...oh and then there what a million or so people in Afghanistan and Iraq who are now dead. Are their lives worth nothing? Repeat after me, this is all about pandering to the Christian Right (who happen to be wrong, yet again).]
Baby born with fatal defect dies after removal from life support
March 15—Can anybody spell hypocrisy? George W. Bush signed a law in Texas that expressly gave hospitals the right to remove life support if the patient could not pay and there was no hope of revival, regardless of the patient's family's wishes. It is called the Texas Futile Care Law. Under this law, a baby was removed from life support against his mother's wishes in Texas just this week. A 68 year old man was given a temporary reprieve by the Texas courts just yesterday.
The Amazing Hypocrites
This past weekend was the two-year anniversary of the beginning of "shock and awe" of the US Government's aggression in Iraq. If all you did was watch CNN, FOX News, or MSNBC, you would never have known. So what were the hypocrites in DC doing while much of the country was working for peace ... either at rallies, marches, or candlelight vigils? They were conducting an emergency smokescreen session in Congress to draft legislation for one woman: Terry Schiavo. Terry's story is tragic and her family has suffered unbearable pain for many years with her "persistent vegetative state." I feel so much compassion for her mother, who has had to watch her daughter slowly waste away. My heart truly breaks for everyone in Terry Schiavo's family. However, I have one question for Congress and for George ("When in doubt, it is always better to err on the side of life"- Arizona, March 22, 2005) Bush, though: Why does Terry Schiavo deserve to live more than my son, Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan? Casey was misused and abused by his Commander-in-Chief and executive branch that boldly lied to the American public and the less gullible citizens of other countries about the reasons for the invasion of Iraq. VIEW THE MOVIE
The Schiavo case: Bush and Congress trample on science and the Constitution
23 March 2005—The case of Terri Schiavo seems likely to return to the US capital within days, either in the form of an appeal to the Supreme Court or a further effort by the congressional Republican leadership and the Bush administration to impose an outright legal ban on disconnecting the severely brain-damaged woman from life support.
Bush, Congress intervene in Terri Schiavo case: political thuggery in the service of reaction
21 March 2005—The intervention of Congress and the Bush administration into the case of Terri Schiavo—the Florida woman on life support for the past 15 years—is an act of unmitigated political thuggery, exploiting a family tragedy for the most reactionary political purposes. It is both a moral abomination and a frontal assault on basic democratic rights. The assertion of unbridled government authority over the most intimate and private concerns is an ominous warning of the political direction of the US ruling elite and its political agents.
Debate over Social Security Entering a Potentially Critical Phase
Friday 18 March 2005—President Bush is clinging fast to his plan for Social Security investment accounts as members of Congress head home to gauge support for the idea. Starting this weekend, interest groups on both sides of the issue will splash the airwaves with ads in an attempt to sway public opinion during the two-week congressional recess. The mood in Congress when lawmakers return on April 4 could play a big role in deciding the fate of Bush's ambitious plan to overhaul the government retirement program.
Wolfowitz at the World Bank
If you really don't know what the "World Bank" is all about, you would think that President Bush was joking in nominating Paul Wolfowitz to be the new president of the Bank, replacing Jim Wolfensohn. One of the chief architects of the Iraq war, Wolfowitz is a political theorist, a 61-year-old man who spent most of his adult life at blackboards and lecterns teaching students about international politics. In announcing the Wolfowitz appointment today, President Bush said the World Bank is a big organization and Wolfowitz has experience running a big organization, the Pentagon!! As far as the military-industrial complex is concerned, Wolfowitz did a FANTASTIC job. He was only expected to plan for a $30 billion war and he screwed up so badly that it is now a $200 billion war, and counting. Anyone who can screw up that badly deserves a promotion, to the World Bank.
Social Security to Social Insecurity
Welcome to Senator Stabenow's Social Security Online Resource Center. Now more than ever, we need to fight to keep the security in Social Security! On this website, you can get more information about the proposed changes to Social Security, including a benefit calculator that allows you to see how well you'll do if the President's plan is enacted. You can also read reports about the future of Social Security, learn more about how Social Security works, and sign my Online Petition to tell Congress and President Bush that privatization is not the answer!
Exporting Cures, Importing Misery
The Indian town of Patanchery, once prime farmland, is so polluted that water doesn't flow but oozes and water buffalo fall over dead mid-graze. If you take prescription medication, listen up, because those pills you're taking may be to blame.
U.S. Propoganda Alert!
Recent coverage of the White House's elaborate propaganda operations is important. But it barely scratches the surface of the real scandal. Most of the thousands of prepackaged "news" stories broadcast each year come not from the government, but from corporations. Activists are calling on Congress to stanch the flow of all forms of fake news.
So Much for the New Bush Economy
The February payroll jobs figures released last Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show a continuation of America's descent into a third world service economy.
Dubya Spins a New Yarn About Social Security Reform
The tepid public response accorded President Bush's plan to overhaul Social Security has the White House searching for new ways to sell the message to the public. During the most recent addresses in what the president has billed as his "60 stops in 60 days" tour, Bush has emphasized that his proposal - centered on the creation of private accounts - won't affect the Social Security benefits of those who are retired or are soon to be retired. And while he no longer speaks of the financial woes facing the government retirement system as a crisis, the president maintains a problem exists and younger generations could wind up footing the bill.
Under Bush, a New Age of Prepackaged Television News
Under the Bush administration, the federal government has aggressively used a well-established tool of public relations: the prepackaged, ready-to-serve news report that major corporations have long distributed to TV stations to pitch everything from headache remedies to auto insurance. In all, at least 20 federal agencies, including the Defense Department and the Census Bureau, have made and distributed hundreds of television news segments in the past four years, records and interviews show. . Many were subsequently broadcast on local stations across the country without any acknowledgement of the government's role in their production.
Greenspan Attacks Deficits in Gloomy Warning
"When you begin to do the arithmetic of what the rising debt level implied by the deficits tells you, and you add interest costs to that ever-rising debt, at ever-higher interest rates, the system becomes fiscally destabilizing." The Fed chairman spoke more urgently on Wednesday and disagreed more adamantly with Bush and Republican lawmakers, who have steadfastly refused to put restrictions on new tax cuts.
Maximum pain is aim of new US weapon
The US military is funding development of a weapon that delivers a bout of excruciating pain from up to 2 kilometres away. The weapon, destined for use in 2007, could literally knock political demonstrators off their feet.
'Clear Skies' Plan: The Battle Heats Up
25 February 2005— Ten state attorneys general are accusing the Bush administration of diluting air-pollution standards. The congressional fight over the Bush administration's clean air plan has turned into a political knock-down, drag out at several levels. Ten state attorneys general are publicly opposing it. Environmental activists and labor unions are at odds over the measure, illustrating the classic split over jobs versus the environment. Meanwhile, speakers at the annual meeting of the American Association for Advancement of Science this week complained that the administration "has distanced itself from scientific information" on such issues as environmental protection.
The awakening of the downtrodden
USA Today made my day today (Feb. 9th, 2005) with its front-page headline - "Poll: Tap Wealthy on Social Security". Lovely! Sure, when hell freezes over. But how fun that a radical concept slipped through the corporate filters in this time of extreme disparity between the super rich and the working/poor.
US budget slashes social spending to pay for war and repression
The priorities of the Bush administration are clear. There are substantial increases in spending on the military, the Department of Homeland Security and the intelligence and diplomatic services: all the institutions of violence and propaganda on behalf of American imperialism. Those federal agencies charged with responsibility for health, education, environmental protection and social welfare face across-the-board cuts. In raw numbers, the $19 billion increase in Pentagon spending—up from $400 billion to $419 billion—almost exactly equals the nearly $20 billion in cuts on various social programs. The equation is not accidental. In the choice between guns and butter, the Bush White House has come down unequivocally on the side of guns. The largest proportionate cuts in Housing and Urban Development (11.5 percent), Agriculture (9.6 percent) and Transportation (6.7 percent). The Environmental Protection Agency will be cut 5.6 percent. Health care accounts for the largest single cut. Proposed changes to Medicaid, the federal health plan for the poor, call for taking $60 billion out of the program over the next decade.
Prisoners of Hope
A specter of despair haunts late 20th-century America. The quality of our lives and the integrity of our souls are in jeopardy. Wealth inequality and class polarization are escalating – with ugly consequences for the most vulnerable among us.
It’s A Family Affair
Former Big Ag booster now says small is beautiful and profitable. Because such debates often boil down to “family farms versus factory farms,” a large number of family-owned factory farms are caught in the middle. So are people who know and love those families and want to help them, but dislike the air and water pollution or the growth hormone and antibiotic injections that come with their businesses. They also know that these family owners of large industrial farms have simply followed the advice of agricultural advisors who started telling them in the1970s to get with mass-production techniques — “get big or get out.”
Arthritis Drug Study in 2000 Found Risks
A previously unpublished study by Pfizer Inc. of its arthritis drug Celebrex found more than four years ago that users had a potentially significant increase in risk of heart attacks and strokes, casting doubt on the company's insistence that it had no hint of the problem until recently.
Acme shelves big-box stores
The township board this week proposed a moratorium on big-box retail stores and directed township planners to draw up zoning rules to temporarily ban major commercial developments.
Smart Roads: Grand Traverse RegionPDF
A graphic summary of an independent study commissioned by the Institute that suggests a cheaper, much less damaging alternative for solving some of the area’s traffic problems, click here:
Secrecy taints road plan process
Organizers of a group formed to shape Grand Traverse County's transportation future promised a "complete and open, transparent process." In reality, however, "transparent" has come to mean invisible - to the taxpaying public, at least. The shadowy group, which includes a number of elected and public officials, has been meeting in secret.
Ban diversion of Lakes water
Every drop of Great Lakes water is already serving a useful purpose within the basin. What is needed, both inside and outside the basin, are better sound water and environmental management practices. All around the globe the North American Great Lakes are held up as a shining example. Let's keep it that way, and not allow our lakes to join the long and growing list of international water follies.
Jobs and wages picture remains bleak for millions in US
The current economic recovery remains the worst since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began collecting data at the end of the Great Depression. A negligible 62,000 jobs have been added since March 2001. If the historical norm had held, the present so-called recovery should have generated 7.5 million more jobs than have materialized.
Bolton regarded warily within the U.N.
In the weeks after John Danforth resigned as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, rumors that John Bolton might replace him sparked dismay among some U.N. diplomats. Could the White House possibly have the nerve, they asked, to appoint the renowned U.N. critic to the post? So when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced on Monday that Bolton was her choice for the job, the mood among some U.N. staff was disbelief.
Michigan case pits beach walkers against property owners
At issue is the narrow strip of land between the water's edge and the high-water mark. That strip - because it is sometimes submerged - is Great Lakes bottomland that belongs to all Michigan's citizens, contends a coalition of environmental groups and others supporting the public's right to use the beachfront. Arguing on behalf of the state, Attorney General Mike Cox, in a brief filed Thursday, also supports the beach walkers, urging the court to rule the public has a right to access beach areas where wave action has created "wet sand or soil." But property-rights groups, many landowners and the state's Chamber of Commerce argue that waterfront property owners' holdings extend all the way to the water's edge, regardless of where that is.
Anti-Hunger Group Wants to Keep Programs
With Americans getting food stamps and school lunches in record numbers, now is the wrong time for the Bush administration to push people out of nutrition programs, an anti-hunger group says.
Feds, Michigan probe Canadian trash for banned batteries, cans
For two years, Toronto has been sending all 1.1 million tons per year of its trash to the Carleton Farms landfill in Wayne County's Sumpter Township, west of Detroit. The amount of Canadian trash dumped in Michigan landfills climbed 23 percent to 11.5 million cubic yards in the 12 months ending Sept. 30, according to the state Department of Environmental Quality.
Where Your Income Tax Really Goes
These figures are from a line-by-line analysis of detailed tables in the “Analytical Perspectives” book of the Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2006. The percentages are federal funds, which do not include trust funds — such as Social Security — that are raised and spent separately from income taxes. What you pay (or don’t pay) by April 15, 2005, goes to the federal funds portion of the budget. The government practice of combining trust and federal funds began in the 1960s during the Vietnam War, thus making the human needs portion of the budget seem larger and the military portion smaller.
New Poll Finds Bush Priorities Are Out of Step With Americans
Americans say President Bush does not share the priorities of most of the country on either domestic or foreign issues, are increasingly resistant to his proposal to revamp Social Security and say they are uneasy with Mr. Bush's ability to make the right decisions about the retirement program, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
The War in Context
"Proliferation cannot be separated from disarmament. The fact that the United States has decoupled the two objectives means it is governed by a single principle: the desire to maintain and wield global power. This undermines the very possibility that other nations could be persuaded to balance their individual interests with those of the international community. Underlying this fracturing of interests is the Bush administration's own unwillingness to entertain the idea that the interests of the world could ever take precedence over those of America." And, of course, the more nuclear weapons proliferate, the more likely that this administration's deepest fear -- such a weapon falling into the hands of a terrorist group -- will actually come to be.
Smoking can be suicidal!
Mar 08—Current daily smoking may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and attempts, according to an article published in the journal JAMA.
It Could Be Getting Worse for Women
Feb 22 (IPS) - The situation for Iraqi women has got worse in many respects since the U.S.-led invasion two years back, says a report from Amnesty International.
Did the US military target Italian journalist Guiliana Sgrena in Iraq?
March 7, 2005—The shooting of Italian journalist Guiliana Sgrena and three Italian intelligence agents by US troops near Baghdad international airport on Friday night has provoked an angry response in Italy and calls for the immediate withdrawal of Italian soldiers from Iraq. The shooting only confirms that the US military presence in Iraq has nothing to do with “democracy and liberty”. If a high-profile journalist whose capture and release made the international headlines can be gunned down along with Italian intelligence agents by US troops, how many Iraqi men, women and children have suffered the same fate for failing to obey US military orders? Only a few of the worst instances have been reported in the international media.
The Benefit of the Dumb
Blessed is the state that hides its most egregious crimes behind the smokescreen of incompetance. Consider the attempted assassination of Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena. As she was released, Sgrena's captors - whoever they were - warned her to take care, because "there are Americans who don't want you to go back."
Canada-US frictions intensify after Ottawa balks at joining missile defence
Relations between Canada and the US have chilled markedly since the federal Liberal government announced late last month that Canada will not participate in the US’s anti-ballistic missile defence program (BMD). Although Canada is often touted as Washington’s closest ally, US President George W. Bush waited a week and a half to return the phone call that Martin placed to the White House on February 24 to explain why Canada had spurned US entreaties that it join BMD.
The Prophecy of Oil
On August 27, 1859, Edwin Drake's oil well in Titusville, Pennsylvania struck a gusher, making him the man credited with drilling the first commercially successful oil well in America. In the time between then and now, the world has burned through about 900 billion barrels of Drake's discovery. Global daily oil consumption today stands at around 82 million barrels, and many experts believe the emerging mega-industrialization of nations like China and India will cause that daily consumption to reach at least 120 million barrels a day by the year 2030. In the last several years, a theory known as 'Peak Oil' has been working its way into the mainstream. Chief proponent of this theory is Dr. Colin Campbell, a retired oil-industry geologist now living in Ireland. Dr. Campbell, who has been raising warnings about Peak Oil for some 15 years, believes that global consumption of oil is surpassing not only the amount of oil being pulled from the ground, not only the amount of oil left to be found, but is also surpassing the ability of technology to compensate for what he sees as an inevitable and looming shortfall.
Granholm's Vision: Boost Michigan Economy
Jennifer Granholm wants to sell $2 billion in state bonds over 10 years to invest in high-tech industries that she said are the economic salvation for an automotive-reliant state with one of the nation's worst unemployment rates.
U.S. dollar falling hard and fast
Feb. 22—South Korea's decision to sell most of its U.S. government bonds triggered similar moves in East Asia and hammered the U.S. currency's value. South Korea's action was mimicked by at least Taiwan, another economy that holds a huge amount of U.S. government debt, sending the dollar to new lows. In London, the euro soared against the dollar to $1.3216, up from $1.3065 late Monday, as the dollar sank against Japan's yen 103.87 from 105.57. Numerous economists have been warning the U.S. balance of payments deficit and budget deficit, both at record levels, are exposing the dollar to extreme downward pressure.
Honey, I Shrunk the Dollar
I have just one question about President Bush's trip to Europe: Did he and Laura go shopping? If they did, I would love to have been a fly on the wall when Laura must have said to George: "George, do you remember how much these Belgian chocolates cost when we were here four years ago? This box of mints was $10. Now it's $15? What happened to the dollar, George? Why is the euro worth so much more now, honey? Didn't Rummy say Europe was old? If we didn't have Air Force One, we never could have afforded this trip on your salary!"
Dollar: The Warning
A rumor, refuted several hours later, was enough to raise a fever on the foreign exchange planet. By allowing the idea to gain currency that it could reduce its dollar reserves, the Central Bank of South Korea has just provoked a good shake-up on the foreign exchange markets. In itself, the episode could be considered purely marginal. In the background, the spectacular plunge in the greenback this rumor occasioned resonates like a brutal revelation.
The lure of bio-weapons
Boston has long been a world leader in medical research -- home to seminal discoveries that have cured lethal diseases, prolonged life, and revolutionized the very practice of medicine. But Boston University's plan to construct a high security laboratory known as BioSafety Level Four will diverge from that tradition. By undertaking research on biological weapons, the lab will be a source of new and highly dangerous pathogens.
Pledge to Protect Social Security
George Bush claims he wants to protect Social Security -- but pushing a privatization plan which cuts benefits and increases debt is a funny way of showing it. Social Security is the most successful social program in the history of our country. It allows millions of seniors and people with disabilities to live independently and with dignity. It has reduced the poverty rate among seniors from about 50 percent to about 10 percent. And in the event of an injury or death to a worker, Social Security provides a family safety net. At the time of greatest need, Social Security ensures that a husband or a wife does not have to cope with the prospect of poverty at the same time they cope with the loss of a loved one.
"Mr. Chairman, I have a question"
On-the-Record: Representative Cynthia McKinney Rocks Rumsfeld on War Games. [Phones started ringing early on the morning of February 16th. Representative Cynthia McKinney of Georgia, newly returned to Capitol Hill for her sixth term as a member of Congress was, within minutes, going into a House hearing on the Defense Appropriations bill and she was going in loaded for bear… or goose, depending on one's viewpoint. She asked me how quickly I could email select documents establishing that as many as five wargames were simultaneously underway on the morning of Sept. 11th, 2001.
The coming crackdown
In just a few months, he warns, bloggers and news organizations could risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign's Web site. Even forwarding a political candidate's press release to a mailing list, depending on the details, could be punished by fines.
Greenspan Attacks Deficits in Gloomy Warning
"When you begin to do the arithmetic of what the rising debt level implied by the deficits tells you, and you add interest costs to that ever-rising debt, at ever-higher interest rates, the system becomes fiscally destabilizing." The Fed chairman spoke more urgently on Wednesday and disagreed more adamantly with Bush and Republican lawmakers, who have steadfastly refused to put restrictions on new tax cuts.
Rumsfeld sued over detainees' abuse
Linking the U.S. military command to the abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, the American Civil Liberties Union and a human-rights organization sued Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and three Army commanders yesterday on behalf of former detainees, charging that the military authorized illegal interrogation techniques.
Don't Be Spun by the Spin
President Bush will hail his trip to Europe as a resounding success. He hails everything he does as a resounding success regardless of the evidence to the contrary. Lest you be spun by the spin, note that he comes home with only one tangible result – an agreement by NATO to assist in training Iraqi forces, and a tepid assist it will be. Two of the NATO countries have agreed to supply one man each. Nearly all of the training will take place in Europe. Mr. Bush has gotten Teddy Roosevelt's dictum exactly upside down. He shouts loudly and carries a small stick.
Osama bin Laden: A dead nemesis perpetuated by the US government
Osama bin Laden is dead. The news first came from sources in Afghanistan and Pakistan almost six months ago: the fugitive died in December  and was buried in the mountains of southeast Afghanistan. Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, echoed the information. The remnants of Osama's gang, however, have mostly stayed silent, either to keep Osama's ghost alive or because they have no means of communication. ead. Also think about who benefits from your believing he's alive. Note the following story from U.S. intelligence...
Gonzales Lays Out His Priorities at Justice Dept.
The wide-ranging priorities, spelled out by Mr. Gonzales in a speech before the Hoover Institution, a public policy research center, were largely a continuation of the policies of his predecessor, John Ashcroft. [Turns out Gonzales is as bad as we thought.]
Court Says Government Must Charge or Free Suspect
(March 1) - In a stinging rebuke to the Bush administration, a federal judge ruled the case of "dirty bomb'' suspect Jose Padilla is a matter for law enforcement - not the military - and ordered the government to charge him or let him go. Padilla's more than 2 1/2 years in custody, most of it spent in a Navy brig, don't seem closer to an end, however, because Justice Department spokesman John Nowacki said the government will appeal the ruling.
Bipartisan Study Assails No Child Left Behind Act
23 February 2005— A bipartisan panel of state lawmakers that studied the effectiveness of President Bush's No Child Left Behind initiative assailed it today as a flawed, convoluted and unconstitutional education reform effort that had usurped state and local control of public schools.
10 Voters on Panel Backing Pain Pills Had Industry Ties
Ten of the 32 government drug advisers who last week endorsed continued marketing of the huge-selling pain pills Celebrex, Bextra and Vioxx have consulted in recent years for the drugs' makers, according to disclosures in medical journals and other public records. If the 10 advisers had not cast their votes, the committee would have voted 12 to 8 that Bextra should be withdrawn and 14 to 8 that Vioxx should not return to the market. The 10 advisers with company ties voted 9 to 1 to keep Bextra on the market and 9 to 1 for Vioxx's return.
Gannongate: It's Worse Than You Think
23 February 2005—When the press first raised questions about why Jim Guckert had been awarded access to the White House press room for two years running while he worked for Talon News, critics charged that Talon, with its amateurish standards and close working ties to Republican activists, did not qualify as a legitimate news organization. It turns out the truth is even stranger: Guckert was waved into the White House while working for an even more blatantly partisan organization, GOPUSA. That, apparently, was the lone criterion the press office used when Guckert (aka Jeff Gannon) approached it in February 2003 seeking a pass for White House briefings. Not yet working for Republican-friendly Talon News, which came into existence in April 2003, Guckert, using an alias and with no journalism experience whatsoever, was writing on a voluntary basis for a Web site dedicated to promoting Republican issues.
When enough is enough
This is a dark moment in American history. The Treasury has been raided and the loot is being turned over by the trainload to those who are already the richest citizens in the land. We Americans have launched a hideous war for no good reason in Iraq. And we're about to elevate to the highest law enforcement position in the land a man who helped choreograph the American effort to evade the international prohibitions against torture.
After Bush Leaves Office, His Budget's Costs Balloon
For President Bush, the budget sent to Congress last week outlines a painful path to meeting his promise to bring down the federal budget deficit by the time he leaves office in 2009. But for the senators and governors already jockeying to succeed him, the numbers released in recent days add up to a budgetary landmine that could blow up just as the next president moves into the Oval Office.
Nationalism, Islam, Republicanism and Class Warfare
The Republican Party has long advanced the myth that Reagan destroyed the Soviet Union by outspending it using public debt to expand the military-industrial complex. Actually, the Soviet threat was destroyed largely by nationalism instead of capitalism. The Soviet-American conflict was not really just a clash of economic ideologies as many Republicans contend. The conflict was one between a nation-state (the United States) and an empire largely based on ideology (the Soviet Union). The Soviet Union was almost certain to collapse, like every other multi-national empire in history, because of the internal contradictions and stresses inherent in multi-national empires. The Soviet system was doomed from the day it started by nationalism. It had hundreds of nationalities speaking hundreds of languages held together by a corrupted ideology and force. Truman understood that containing the Soviet threat alone would eventually be sufficient to collapse the Soviet Union. History proved him correct.
Bush's Barberini Faun
I am very impressed with James Guckert, a k a Jeff Gannon. How often does an enterprising young man, heralded in press reports as both a reporter and a contributor to such sites as Hotmilitarystud.com, Workingboys.net, Militaryescorts.com, MilitaryescortsM4M.com and Meetlocalmen.com, get to question the president of the United States? Who knew that a hotmilitarystud wanting to meetlocalmen could so easily get to be face2face with the commander in chief? It's hard to believe the White House could hit rock bottom on credibility again, but it has, in a bizarre maelstrom that plays like a dark comedy. How does it credential a man with a double life and a secret past?
After Bush Leaves Office, His Budget's Costs Balloon
For President Bush, the budget sent to Congress last week outlines a painful path to meeting his promise to bring down the federal budget deficit by the time he leaves office in 2009. But for the senators and governors already jockeying to succeed him, the numbers released in recent days add up to a budgetary landmine that could blow up just as the next president moves into the Oval Office.
Tell Congress to Stand Up for What's Right
Beneath the incomprehensible federal budget numbers - a $2.57 trillion budget, a $427 billion deficit, $419 billion in military spending - the federal budget is a moment of truth. It's the checkbook of our country. And it, like the spending plan of a family or business, should reflect the stuff we care about. But Bush's proposed budget is out of step with Americans' true priorities. To bankroll more tax cuts for millionaires and a sell-off of Social Security to Wall Street, President Bush suggested record cuts to essential services that provide real benefits to the American people. The silver lining is that what the president proposes, Congress disposes. None of Bush's cuts will happen if Congress rejects his budget. This is where we come in. Congress needs to hear loud and clear from the American people: The Bush budget should be dead on arrival.
Do You Know What Your Kids Are Watching on "Educational" TV at School?
I learned something new yesterday. Channel One News, the "educational" TV show that my daughter Isa and millions of other American kids watch every morning at school, is busy recruiting our teenagers into the military. The whole culture of the school is military these days. With a military recruiter present every day in the cafeteria, military "speakers" visiting classrooms, and huge recruiting posters in the guidance office, perhaps it's not surprising that teachers and even guidance counselors have been influenced by the constant hum of "enlist, enlist, enlist". Oh, and "a big cash bonus right now if you sign up today!"
The New Colossus
In the wake of Enron-style corporate scandals, in which public pension funds lost more than $300 billion, some of the leading funds have restyled themselves as more aggressive reformers. They are picking fights with Wall Street orthodoxy they long accepted, like the obsessive maximizing of short-term gains. More important, they are broadening their definition of fiduciary obligations to retirees by trying to enforce corporate responsibilities to serve society's long-term prospects. Instead of adhering passively to market dogma, the activist funds now regularly accuse corporate managements and major financial houses of negligently or willfully injuring the long-term interests of pension-fund investors, therefore injuring the economy and society, too. Pension-fund wealth is thus being mobilized as financial leverage to break up the narrow-minded thinking of finance capital and to confront the antisocial behavior of corporations.
In Defense of Ward Churchill
Ward Churchill is under attack. But it’s not about him. It’s about free speech and academic freedom. And it’s about the ability to criticize U.S. foreign policy in the context of 9/11. As you’ve probably heard, Ward Churchill is a professor at the University of Colorado who wrote some regrettable words in an essay after 9/11, comparing what he called “the technicians” in the World Trade Center to “Little Eichmanns.” That unfortunate comparison was outrageous and insensitive, and I wish he hadn’t made it. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t have the right to make it. He has the right that all Americans have: the right of free speech.
The Return of the Draft
Uncle Sam wants you. He needs you. He'll bribe you to sign up. He'll strong-arm you to re-enlist. And if that's not enough, he's got a plan to draft you.
Ward Churchill: Right to Speak Out; Right About 9/11
Ward Churchill has a right to speak about 9/11. And Ward Churchill is right about 9/11. So, for the record: The main thesis Churchill put forward in "'Some People Push Back': On the Justice of Roosting Chickens" is an accurate account of the depravity of U.S. foreign policy and its relationship to terrorism. Malcolm X was correct, and it was appropriate for Churchill to quote him: Chickens do, indeed, come home to roost. And whether U.S. citizens want to acknowledge it or not, there likely will be chickens heading our way for years to come.
The Bush Shortfall: 8 Million Missing Jobs
Americans are being sold out on the jobs front. Americans' employment opportunities are declining as a result of corporate outsourcing of US jobs, H-1B visas that import foreigners to displace Americans in their own country, and federal guest worker programs. President Bush and his Republican majority intend to legalize the aliens who hold down wages for construction companies and cleaning services. In order to stretch budgets, state and local governments bring in lower paid foreign nurses and school teachers. To reduce costs, US corporations outsource jobs abroad and use work visa programs to import foreign engineers and programmers. The American job give away is explained by a "shortage" of Americans to take the jobs.
Lies, Damned Lies, And Rice
The lies never stop. They lie not only to you and me, but also to their friends and colleagues, Republicans as well as Democrats. I speak (as you might guess) of those masters of deceit in the Bush administration. A few months ago they told our senators and representatives that their bogus Medicare prescription drug bill would cost $400 billion over the next 10 years. Now that the bill has become law, they've revised their estimate: Now it's $724 billion. By the way, almost immediately after the drug benefit bill became law, the price of prescription drugs went up. These people have no shame.
Impact of President's Budget Proposal on States
On Monday, February 7, 2005, the Bush Administration sent to Congress its budget request for fiscal year 2006. Under the proposed budget, discretionary spending would increase overall by 2%. Within that increase, Pentagon spending would increase by 5% ($19 billion), homeland security by 3% ($1 billion), and all other federally-funded services would be cut by 1%, before taking inflation into account. The Department of Defense increase does not include funding for the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Social Security: NOT for Sale!
Social Security privatization is the President’s #1 legislative priority. If we want to stop him, each of us needs to step up and say that it makes no sense to replace a guaranteed Social Security benefit with a guaranteed Wall Street gamble.
Freedom, From Want
Our closest allies have put world poverty at the top of their agenda. Why can't Americans do the same?
The awakening of the downtrodden
USA Today made my day today (Feb. 9th, 2005) with its front-page headline - "Poll: Tap Wealthy on Social Security". Lovely! Sure, when hell freezes over. But how fun that a radical concept slipped through the corporate filters in this time of extreme disparity between the super rich and the working/poor.
US budget slashes social spending to pay for war and repression
The priorities of the Bush administration are clear. There are substantial increases in spending on the military, the Department of Homeland Security and the intelligence and diplomatic services: all the institutions of violence and propaganda on behalf of American imperialism. Those federal agencies charged with responsibility for health, education, environmental protection and social welfare face across-the-board cuts. In raw numbers, the $19 billion increase in Pentagon spending—up from $400 billion to $419 billion—almost exactly equals the nearly $20 billion in cuts on various social programs. The equation is not accidental. In the choice between guns and butter, the Bush White House has come down unequivocally on the side of guns. The largest proportionate cuts in Housing and Urban Development (11.5 percent), Agriculture (9.6 percent) and Transportation (6.7 percent). The Environmental Protection Agency will be cut 5.6 percent. Health care accounts for the largest single cut. Proposed changes to Medicaid, the federal health plan for the poor, call for taking $60 billion out of the program over the next decade.
Mired in Denial, Lost in the Present
The past, the future, the northern and southern reaches of the planet, outlying islands, Xtreme weather, the struggling flora and fauna… you might think this kind of news cascade would have a certain effect on the greatest fossil-fuel burners on the planet. But while the native peoples of the north plead for their future; while polar bears starve and coral reefs whiten; while Europeans struggle to take modest steps toward controlling global-warming minus the United States; while even the Bush administration's chosen man for the chairmanship of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, tells an international conference that "very deep" cuts in greenhouse-gas pollution must happen fast or "we are risking the ability of the human race to survive"; while the Chinese and Indian economies are on a fossil-fuel based upward trajectory; while under-funded scientists and environmentalists look for alternative, non-fossil fuel methods or wonder whether, caught in the Scylla and Charybdis of planning for a catastrophe, even nuclear power might not be a better path than our present one; while political leaders elsewhere, including Bush ally Tony Blair of Britain, worry about how much warming is already "built into the system" and unavoidable given what's gone into the atmosphere in the past three decades; the fossil-fuel-besotted Bush administration ignores the whole matter or does its best, which is pretty good, to slow down or undermine any multinational planning or progress whatsoever on global warming; our media acts as if it's largely a problem of distant climes; and most Americans simply chug on with their lives, buy their SUVs, and go about their business.
It’s A Family Affair
Former Big Ag booster now says small is beautiful and profitable. Because such debates often boil down to “family farms versus factory farms,” a large number of family-owned factory farms are caught in the middle. So are people who know and love those families and want to help them, but dislike the air and water pollution or the growth hormone and antibiotic injections that come with their businesses. They also know that these family owners of large industrial farms have simply followed the advice of agricultural advisors who started telling them in the1970s to get with mass-production techniques — “get big or get out.”
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