Best Viewed with IE or Opera. Sorry, Firefox works, but loses some sidebar layout,
'my profile' and other stuff... Anybody with a fix, please leave a comment. Many thanks in advance.

That said, if you must use Firefox (and I don't blame you, it's become my browser of choice, too)
...get the "IE Tab" extension. This allows you to view problem pages with the IE rendering engine. Very cool!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

US Approved Saddam's Biggest Oil Smuggling

On the 'Oil for food" scandal...



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Shell Game at Gas Stations Pays Big

Thursday, September 8, 2005 by the New York Daily News
Shell Game at Gas Stations Pays Big
by Juan Gonzalez

On Sept. 1, just three days after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, top executives at Shell Oil's Texas headquarters took a public stand against gasoline price gouging.

"We encourage our wholesalers and dealers to . . . practice restraint during these periods," the press release from Shell said.

The company even urged the public to contact local governments "if you feel a gasoline station is charging a price that is out of line with other stations in your market."

That same day, Motiva Enterprises LLC, Shell's oil refining subsidiary, hiked the wholesale price of gasoline for Shell dealers throughout the Bronx by a whopping 20 cents a gallon, according to company records obtained by the Daily News. Those records show that since the hurricane disaster, Shell has increased its wholesale gasoline price on six separate occasions for its Bronx dealers.

On Aug. 31, the company hiked the price twice in one day - first at 3 p.m. and then at 6 p.m. "These oil companies are out of control," said a veteran Shell dealer in the Bronx who is furious at the company's tactics.

"There's no supply problem," said the dealer, who asked not to be identified.

"Shell's just forcing us to raise the price. This gas was refined more than a month ago, so why charge people more for it? It's just greed."

Even the price of Shell gas depends on the neighborhood. At a Shell station on E. 233rd St. in the north Bronx, for example, the pump price of premium gas yesterday was $3.51, while at the the Bartow Ave. station in Co-op City, it was $3.89 - 38 cents more.

Adnan Muzniv, the manager at the 233rd St. station, told me there hadn't been a price increase "in the last three days."

But at Ralph's Shell Station on Bruckner Blvd. and Castle Hill Ave., where premium yesterday morning was $3.59 a gallon, dealer Nancy Gianatasio said Shell notified her by E-mail Tuesday night that her wholesale price would go up 20 cents a gallon starting at 8 p.m. yesterday.

How is it possible, you might ask, for an oil company to charge its own dealers in the same borough different prices for the same gas?

The practice is far more common than we realize, says state Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester).

"It's called zone pricing," Brodsky said. "The oil companies are forcing dealers in some neighborhoods to charge higher prices. These are artificial increases not related to supply in demand."

In other words, price gouging.

Brodsky has introduced a bill in Albany to make zone pricing illegal.

But no one in Gov. Pataki's administration or at City Hall seems to be paying much attention to these outrageous gas hikes since the hurricane. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is about the only one to speak out.

Eliot Spitzer, our attorney general who loves to make big headlines slapping the wrists of Wall Street crooks, is AWOL while oil companies pick the pockets of millions of motorists every day.

From here, it looks like oil companies are exploiting Katrina more than Enron and the gas companies did during the California blackouts a few years back.

I contacted Shell's headquarters yesterday to ask about its supply and demand situation and the impact of the hurricane on the price of its oil. A spokesman referred me in an E-mail to the company Web site.

On the Web site, I noticed that Shell, which has thousands of employees and three refineries in the Gulf Coast area, had announced it is donating all of $3 million in emergency aid for hurricane relief.

You should know that during the second quarter of 2005, the Royal Dutch Shell Co. reported a profit of $5.2 billion - a 34% increase over the same period in 2004.

In other words, Shell is donating a little more than 1 hour's worth of last quarter's profits to the hundreds of thousands left homeless in the Gulf Coast.

Meanwhile, in the Bronx, New York's poorest borough, it has hiked the price of its gasoline six times in 10 days.

Juan Gonzalez is a Daily News columnist.

� 2005 NY Daily News

Shell Game at Gas Stations Pays Big

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Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque - Blame Game, Set and Match

Afetr much reading this sums up my conclusions pretty well.
--pseudolus

Blame Game, Set and Match
Wednesday, 07 September 2005

Look, it's really very simple. (Or perhaps not so simple. See this post above for some further clarification -- and even more damning evidence of Bush folly.)

On Saturday, August 27, 2005 -- two days before Hurricane Katrina made landfall -- President George W. Bush assumed responsibility for the coordination of "all disaster relief efforts" in the State of Louisiana. This is the specific, undisputed language of Bush's declaration of a State of Emergency, issued that day by the White House, and still available for viewing on the White House website. The responsibility for coordinating all disaster relief efforts in New Orleans clearly rested with the White House. Despite all the post-disaster spin by the Bush Faction and its sycophants, despite all the earnest media analyses, the lines of authority are clear and indisputable. Here is the voice of George W. Bush himself, in the proclamation issued in his name, over his signature on Saturday, August 27, 2005:

"The President today declared an emergency exists in the State of Louisiana and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts in the parishes located in the path of Hurricane Katrina beginning on August 26, 2005, and continuing. The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures"

Bush goes on to say: "Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency."

=========
you can read the rest of this brief post at link below:
Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque - Blame Game, Set and Match

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The Independent Weekly: Disaster in the making

That was then...
--pseudolus


As FEMA weathers a storm of Bush administration policy and budget changes, protection from natural hazards may be trumped by �homeland security�

B Y J O N E L L I S T O N

Fridays don't get much busier than this. It's the morning of Sept. 3, and Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington, D.C., is running at a full clip, having mobilized a cadre of disaster-response specialists in its National Emergency Operations Center the day before. "This is our 'war room,'" a FEMA employee explains.

September 22, 2004
C O V E R F E A T U R E
"Right now we're in 24-hours-a-day activation," he says. "It's a double-whammy." Indeed, the agency is still busy helping Florida recover from Hurricane Charley's punishing winds and rain when satellite images show that an even greater storm, Hurricane Frances, will soon make landfall. It appears so threatening that most of FEMA's personnel on the ground, along with 2.5 million Floridians, have evacuated from the storm's projected path.


Photo By Jon Elliston
Pleasant Mann, a 16-year FEMA veteran who heads the agency's government employee union.
Inside the op center, scores of personnel from FEMA and a host of other agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Coast Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Health and Human Services, buzz around in what appears to be a state of controlled chaos. They work the phones, hover over computer screens and trade the latest weather forecasts. Using a time-tested system of disaster management, they've split their tasks into 12 "emergency support functions" designed to bring in food, water, medical care, electricity, housing, transportation and other desperately needed resources as soon as Frances moves on.

John Crowe, a Department of Homeland Security geospatial mapping expert detailed to FEMA to help track such outbreaks of rough weather, steps outside the building for a quick cigarette. "Everybody's really running into gear here," he says between puffs. "FEMA's ready, about as ready as they've ever been."

FEMA's relatively quick response to the hurricanes has thus far won mostly high marks from Florida officials, who remember well a time when the disaster agency seemed the last party to show up after catastrophes. In addition, President Bush has paid multiple visits to assure storm victims they will get whatever help is needed, and he promptly secured more than $2 billion from Congress to fund Florida's recovery.

As storms continue to batter the Panhandle, no one would call Florida lucky. But with national elections just around the corner, the hurricanes could scarcely have hit at a better time or place for obtaining federal disaster assistance. "They're doing a good job," one former FEMA executive says of the Bush administration's response efforts. "And the reason why they're doing that job is because it's so close to the election, and they can't fuck it up, otherwise they lose Florida--and if they lose Florida, they might lose the election."

Such political considerations may indeed make this round of recoveries go better than most. But long before this hurricane season, some emergency managers inside and outside of government started sounding an alarm that still rings loudly. Bush administration policy changes and budget cuts, they say, are sapping FEMA's longterm ability to cushion the blow of hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, tornados, wildfires and other natural disasters.


read the rest:

The Independent Weekly: Disaster in the making

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Facts and Rumors: Federal Power in a State of Emergency

Facts and Rumors: Federal Power in a State of Emergency

First, a note to all the Debaters: Ordinarily, Wednesday would mark the beginning of a new week for The Debate -- it's the day a fresh topic would be introduced for discussion until the following Tuesday. But this is no ordinary week. So we're bending the rules to make room for a few more days of Hurricane Katrina, and we'll introduce next week's issue, the Roberts nomination, on Monday -- just in time for the start of his hearings.

But for now, we're still talking about the hurricane, and all the false assertions that have been floating around with regard to who had the power to do what in Louisiana have got to be put to rest. Please allow me to use the text of federal laws and some other reputable sources in order to set the record straight. (My very basic conclusions based on those facts appear in parenthesis.)

Fact: Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco declared a State of Emergency for her state on Friday, Aug. 26. Full disclosure: The Post reported last week -- erroneously, it turned out -- that Louisiana had not issued such a declaration. A correction was published on Sept. 5.

Fact: President Bush declared a State of Emergency the next day Saturday before Hurricane Katrina hit.

Fact: Presidential declarations of emergency are made after a request from "the governor of the impacted state, based on finding that the disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the ability of the state and affected local jurisdictions."
[Update: The link above doesn't seem to be working anymore, so here's a copy of the page as it appeared on Aug. 14, 2004, courtesy of archive.org's Wayback Machine. The page does not appear to have changed between when it was archived and when I looked at it yesterday.]

Fact: Blanco sent a letter dated Aug. 28 to Bush -- via the FEMA regional director -- requesting that he "declare a major disaster," and Bush responded by wisely declaring an emergency. There is a very slight difference, funding-wise, between declaring a major disaster and declaring an emergency -- the difference is explained here -- but both authorize "emergency protective measures."
[Update: Thanks to the astute anonymous reader who provided the link to the letter.]

Fact: A declaration of emergency "unleash[es] the support of any or all of 27 federal agencies. It also authorizes reimbursement of emergency work, such as debris removal and emergency protective measures."

Fact: There is a FEMA program called the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System (US&R) -- now part of the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate (EP&R) of the Department of Homeland Security. According to federal legislation, it "provides specialized lifesaving assistance during major disasters or emergencies that the President declares under the Stafford Act. US&R operational activities include locating, extricating and providing on-site medical treatment to victims trapped in collapsed structures, victims of weapons of mass destruction events, and when assigned, performing incident command or other operational activities."

(I think we can all agree that such teams would have been immensely helpful on the two to three days immediately following the hurricane. The Coast Guard did a great job, it would seem, of airlifting people out of drowning homes very soon after the flooding happened, and New Orleans police devoted a great deal of time to performing search and rescue as well. Yes, some deserted, but others stayed and did everything they could to help the city and its residents recover. Perhaps if more search and rescue professionals had been sent in in the immediate aftermath, the police could have spent that time maintaining order in the city.)

Fact: In the Rules and Regulations section of the US&R legislation, "emergency " is defined as "any occasion or instance for which, in the determination of the President, Federal assistance is needed to supplement State and local efforts and capabilities to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in any part of the United States."

Fact: In the supplementary information for the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System legislation, it says (I've taken out some of the extraneous numbers and some unnecessary phrases for ease of reading, but the meaning is unchanged):

Section 303 of the Stafford Act authorizes the President of the United States to form emergency support teams of Federal personnel to be deployed in an area affected by a major disaster or emergency. The President delegated this function to the Director of the FEMA under Executive Order 12148. Under E.O. 13286 of February 28, 2003, the President amended E.O. 12148 to transfer the FEMA Director's delegated authority to the Secretary of Homeland Security, and under Homeland Security Delegation No. 9100, delegated the Secretary's authority under Title V of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which includes the Stafford Act, to the Under Secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response (EP&R).

Fact: The Under Secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response is Michael Brown.

(So, EP&R director -- the head of FEMA, the guy the New Orleans Times Picayune said should "especially" be fired -- had the authority to dispatch specialized rescue squads right away. Where were they? Why didn't the president, under whose direction the Department of Homeland Security ultimately falls, insist on getting those teams on the ground -- or in the air -- as soon as the levees were breached and the flooding began?)

In 1995, the Washington Monthly wrote about FEMA's miraculous turnaround after its abysmal performance dealing with Hurricane Andrew. In that story was this tidbit from Jeffrey Itell, who conducted a massive study of FEMA's operations, which uncovered that FEMA had extensive powers according to the Stafford Act that, to everyone's detriment, it was not exercising:

We found that without state requests, FEMA could assess the catastrophic area, assess what assistance the state needed, start mobilizing that relief, present its recommendations to the governor, and, if necessary � get in the governor's face to force the issue of accepting federal help.

This should all still apply -- unless the Department of Homeland Security nullified these common-sense FEMA powers when it subsumed the agency a couple years ago. (If it did, DHS has a lot of explaining to do.)

Again, that's without state requests. (This is not to say the the local authorities couldn't have done more. For starters, they could have taken into account the substantial number of poor Now Orleans residents who wouldn't have the means to evacuate. But they were right in the middle of it all, their resources overwhelmed, whereas the federal emergency management professionals are likely to have vastly more resources. How many helicopters did the New Orleans Police Department have? I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing not as many as the federal government.)

What's important to remember here is that misinformation is swirling, as is not unusual after unprecedented disasters. (David Brooks of the New York Times recalls the news accounts of [insert then-feared minority group here] cutting off the fingers of the dead in order to steal their wedding rings.)

Don't get me wrong, the Debate loves and encourages a wide variety of opinions. But many opinions you'll hear from pundits on both sides of the aisle are based on false assertions. Before buying into one of these logical-but-inaccurate arguments -- many of which probably originated in a spin machine belonging to someone or another -- it makes sense to check that the facts are solid.

By Emily Messner | September 8, 2005; 09:23 AM ET | Category: Facts
Previous: Dealing With Disaster: When Optimism Makes Things Worse | Main Index | Next: Are We Prepared for Next Time?

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Friday, September 09, 2005

CNN Streaker Strikes

CNN brass has launched an investigation after some funky footage from its London bu reau came over the airwaves. "A man, be lieved to be a CNN employee, apparently de cided it would be a good idea to take a stroll around the newsroom wearing nothing but a jacket," reports The London Guardian's Media Diary. "The incident was not broad cast to viewers around the world, but the news channel's bosses at HQ back in At lanta reportedly got a shocking eyeful of the naturist wiggling his meat and two veg in front of a camera via a live internal feed."

Source:
My Way - Celebrity Gossip - New York Post

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BostonHerald.com - Business News: Exxon's $10B fill-up: Cashing in on crunch

By Brett Arends
Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - Updated: 04:27 PM EST

Oil companies came under new fire yesterday when it emerged that ExxonMobil's profits are likely to soar above $10 billion this quarter on the back of the fuel crisis.
That's $110 million a day, and more net income than any company has ever made in a quarter. It's also a stunning 69 percent increase over the same period a year ago and a 34 percent jump from the $7.6 billion Exxon made just last quarter.
``Do you realize President Bush has just given a tax break to ExxonMobil?'' thundered Rep. Ed Markey (D-Malden). ``Of all the companies in the history of the world that needed a tax break, this month, ExxonMobil should be at the bottom of the list.''
The law gives incentives to producers such as Exxon to expand production, such as for drilling for new wells in deeper waters in the Gulf of Mexico.
``It makes me angry,'' agreed Rep. Marty Meehan (D- Lowell), noting rising fuel prices ``are going to have a negative ripple effect throughout the economy.''
Meehan yesterday sponsored legislation on Capitol Hill to penalize price ``gouging,'' assuming it can be agreed what that is. Markey is preparing for Energy Committee hearings on the fuel crisis.
Even oil company shareholders were critical. Hub fund manager Lee Forker, the head of New England Research & Management, said the profits reflected a failure of oil companies' leadership to invest in future production. ``They're maximizing present cashflows and ignoring the future,'' he said.
ExxonMobil is spending about $5 billion a quarter buying back its own shares.
Forker says the oil companies bear responsibility for recent shortages, because they have held back on investment in new production for years due to a fear of a price collapse. ``It could just be a big scam � `Let's just restrict the supply along with the OPEC countries and we'll all get rich together' '' he said.
Crude oil prices fell yesterday by $1.61 to $65.85 a barrel. Gasoline prices also eased slightly from late last week's panic.
But Lehman Brothers yesterday became the first Wall Street investment bank to issue a new profits forecast for Exxon following the week of post-Katrina turmoil, when gasoline prices surged as high as $3.59 a gallon in the Bay State and crude oil prices briefly topped $70.
The new forecast: $1.62 a share, or $10.2 billion in total. Other analysts are likely to follow suit.
Jacques Rousseau, energy analyst at investment bank FBR, yesterday explained that most of the extra money that consumers are paying for gasoline is going straight through to the big companies' bottom line.
The reason? Prices are soaring because of perceived shortages while the cost of producing the gasoline is little changed.

source:
BostonHerald.com - Business News: Exxon's $10B fill-up: Cashing in on crunch

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ESCAPE FROM SUPERDOME

A San Diegan�s first-person tale of the horrific conditions inside the New Orleans stadium�and how racism might have gotten him out

by Paul Harris

I arrived Friday, Aug. 26, in New Orleans. On Sunday, I was awaiting word from the New Orleans mayor to see if the city was to be evacuated. The moment he gave the order I hopped in a cab bound for Amtrak and Greyhound. The cabbie said it looked like they were closed. I said, �No way,� and had him drop me off. Sure enough, both were. (I later learned that both had closed on Saturday, two days before the hurricane.) All rental cars were gone and no hotels or motels seemed to be open.

San Diego CityBEAT

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Wired News: Astrodome Radio Station Blocked

The Charleston Gazette - News

OK. Anytime you are ready to admit that FEMA is a joke today, go ahead, you are forgiven your earlier obliviousness.

The Charleston Gazette - News

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TPMCafe || 42 Minutes of Shame

Smokin' Joe Lieberman and his role in appointing Michael Brown



TPMCafe || 42 Minutes of Shame

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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Project Censored

The Top 25 Stories of 2005 that the news media failed to cover adequately.

This is a very important subject for a free democracy.

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S.U.S.A.-Soviet United States of America

Republicans block efforts to amend relief bill, hold vote without providing copy of bill.

John Byrne

In the wake of what the Wall Street Journal projected may be the most expensive natural disaster in American history, the Republican Leadership in the House of Representatives limited floor consideration of the $52 billion Katrina relief bill proposed by President Bush and voted to reject any Democratic efforts to amend the bill to include a wider array of relief measures, RAW STORY has learned.

Democrats said no one had even seen a copy of the legislation.

Voting along party lines, Republicans denied a measure that would have allowed for two hours of discussion and opened up the measure to be amended.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

"You Can't Govern if You Don't Believe in Government"

Published on Tuesday, September 6, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
"You Can't Govern if You Don't Believe in Government"
by Thom Hartmann

In a May 25, 2001 interview, Grover Norquist told National Public Radio's Mara Liasson, "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."

Norquist got his wish. Democracy - and at least several thousand people, most of them Democrats, black, and poor - drowned last week in the basin of New Orleans. Our nation failed in its response, because for most of the past 25 years conservatives who don't believe in governance have run our government.

As incompetent as George W. Bush has been in his response to the disaster in New Orleans, he wasn't the one who began the process that inevitably led to that disaster spiraling out of control.

That would be Ronald Reagan.

It was Reagan who began the deliberate and intentional destruction of the United States of America when he famously cracked (and then incessantly repeated): "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"

Reagan, like George W. Bush after him, failed to understand that when people come together into community, and then into nationhood, that they organize themselves to protect themselves from predators, both human and corporate, both domestic and foreign. This form of organization is called government.

[Thom is my "main man". A great talkshow host and author of several important books. Follow the link in the sidebar at right to find out more.]--pseudolus


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Alan Dershowitz: Telling the Truth About Chief Justice Rehnquist

Mon Sep 5, 1:16 AM ET

My mother always told me that when a person dies, one should not say anything bad about him. My mother was wrong. History requires truth, not puffery or silence, especially about powerful governmental figures. And obituaries are a first draft of history. So here�s the truth about Chief Justice Rehnquist you won�t hear on Fox News or from politicians. Chief Justice William Rehnquist set back liberty, equality, and human rights perhaps more than any American judge of this generation. His rise to power speaks volumes about the current state of American values.

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Undoing Darwin - Columbia Journalism Review

Undoing Darwin
By Chris Mooney and Matthew C. Nisbet

On March 14, 2005, The Washington Post�s Peter Slevin wrote a front-page story on the battle that is �intensifying across the nation� over the teaching of evolution in public-school science classes. Slevin�s lengthy piece took a detailed look at the lobbying, fund-raising, and communications tactics being deployed at the state and local level to undermine evolution. The article placed a particular emphasis on the burgeoning �intelligent design� movement, centered at Seattle�s Discovery Institute, whose proponents claim that living things, in all their organized complexity, simply could not have arisen from a mindless and directionless process such as the one so famously described in 1859 by Charles Darwin in his classic, The Origin of Species.
Yet Slevin�s article conspicuously failed to provide any background information on the theory of evolution, or why it�s considered a bedrock of modern scientific knowledge among both scientists who believe in God and those who don�t. Indeed, the few defenders of evolution quoted by Slevin were attached to advocacy groups, not research universities; most of the article�s focus, meanwhile, was on anti-evolutionists and their strategies. Of the piece�s thirty-eight paragraphs, twenty-one were devoted to this �strategy� framing � an emphasis that, not surprisingly, rankled the Post�s science reporters. �How is it that The Washington Post can run a feature-length A1 story about the battle over the facts of evolution and not devote a single paragraph to what the evidence is for the scientific view of evolution?� protested an internal memo from the paper�s science desk that was copied to Michael Getler, the Post�s ombudsman. �We do our readers a grave disservice by not telling them. By turning this into a story of dueling talking heads, we add credence to the idea that this is simply a battle of beliefs.� Though he called Slevin�s piece �lengthy, smart, and very revealing,� Getler assigned Slevin a grade of �incomplete� for his work.

Slevin�s incomplete article probably foreshadows what we can expect as evolution continues its climb up the news agenda, driven by a rising number of newsworthy events. In May, for example, came a series of public hearings staged by evolution-theory opponents in Kansas. In Cobb County, Georgia, a lawsuit is pending over anti-evolutionist textbook disclaimers (the case is before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit). And now comes the introduction of intelligent design into the science curriculum of the Dover, Pennsylvania, school district, a move that has triggered a First Amendment lawsuit scheduled to be argued in September before a federal judge in Harrisburg. President Bush and Senator Bill Frist entered the fray in early August, when both appeared to endorse the teaching of intelligent design in science classes.

As evolution, driven by such events, shifts out of scientific realms and into political and legal ones, it ceases to be covered by context-oriented science reporters and is instead bounced to political pages, opinion pages, and television news. And all these venues, in their various ways, tend to deemphasize the strong scientific case in favor of evolution and instead lend credence to the notion that a growing �controversy� exists over evolutionary science. This notion may be politically convenient, but it is false.

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Group says Yahoo helped jail Chinese journalist

Published: September 6, 2005, 6:10 PM PDT
Last modified: September 7, 2005, 9:32 AM PDT
By Jim Kerstetter
Staff Writer, CNET News.com

{{A correction was made to this story. Read below for details.}}
A French media watchdog group claimed on Tuesday that Yahoo provided information that helped Chinese officials convict a journalist accused of leaking state secrets.

Shi Tao, a 37-year-old writer for the Dangdai Shang Bao (Contemporary Business News), was sentenced in April to 10 years in prison, Reporters Without Borders said in a statement. He was convicted of sending to foreign Web sites a "top secret" government message that had been sent to his newspaper.

The international watchdog organization said recently translated court papers revealed that Yahoo Holdings in Hong Kong provided Chinese investigators with detailed information that helped them link Shi's personal e-mail account and a specific message containing the "state secret" to the IP address of his computer.

The state secret was a message to Shi's newspaper warning journalists of the dangers associated with dissidents returning to mark the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, according to the group. Shi admitted sending the e-mail but disputed whether it was a secret document.

"We already knew that Yahoo collaborates enthusiastically with the Chinese regime in questions of censorship, and now we know it is a Chinese police informant as well," Reporters Without Borders said in its statement.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company responded to the charges in a written statement: "Just like any other global company, Yahoo must ensure that its local country sites must operate within the laws, regulations and customs of the country in which they are based."

The harsh criticism comes as Yahoo and rivals Microsoft and Google are engaged in a high-stakes fight to expand into the lucrative Chinese marketplace.

Just last month, Yahoo paid $1 billion for a 40 percent stake in Alibaba.com, which many consider to be the largest e-commerce company in China. Meanwhile, Google and Microsoft are fighting in a Washington state court over the employment of Kai-Fu Lee, a former Microsoft employee who helped the software giant build up its Chinese offices. Google hopes Lee will help expand its presence in China as well.

source:
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  • BBC-Viewpoint: Has Katrina saved US media?

    As President Bush scurries back to the Gulf Coast, it is clear that this is the greatest challenge to politics-as-usual in America since the fall of Richard Nixon in the 1970s.

    But unlike Watergate, "Katrinagate" was public service journalism ruthlessly exposing the truth on a live and continuous basis.

    Instead of secretive "Deep Throat" meetings in car-parks, cameras captured the immediate reality of what was happening at the New Orleans Convention Center, making a mockery of the stalling and excuses being put forward by those in power.

    Amidst the horror, American broadcast journalism just might have grown its spine back, thanks to Katrina.

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    A Curious Lacuna

    A Curious Lacuna - Chris Floyd
    Wednesday, 07 September 2005

    Reader Brian L. at This Modern World (which linked to my "Blame Game, Set and Match" post today) notes a curious lacuna in Bush's declaration of a national emergency in Louisiana prior to Hurricane Katrina. While giving FEMA full responsibility for coordinating all disaster relief efforts in "those parishes in the path of the storm," the Aug. 27 declaration leaves out the specific parishes in and around New Orleans and along the coast -- the very areas mostly likely to sustain the most catastrophic damage. I must admit that my rage-dimm'd eyes failed to pick up on this strange omission when I was writing the post last night.

    What does this mean? I'm not sure. Was it some kind of conscious subterfuge to skirt responsibility for what everyone knew would be the worst-hit areas? Was it some kind of bureaucratic snafu or arcane matter of procedure? (Either of which could have been overridden by direct presidential intervention at any time.) As with so many of the disasters under Bush's rule, we are left with the same old question: Was it deliberate malevolence or just criminal incompetence?

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    "...Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency."

    The following 'open letter' addresses the lie that is STILL being spread by the right wing echo chamber, including the likes of Bill O'Reilly and posters at Free Republic.
    --pseudolus

    Michael Getler
    Ombudsman
    The Washington Post
    1150 15th Street NW
    Washington, DC 20071
    ombudsman@washpost.com

    Dear Mr. Getler:

    I am writing to express my deep concern over the recent use of a dishonest anonymous source by The Washington Post. As you have surely become aware, on September 4, the Post printed an article titled "Many Evacuated, but Thousands Still Waiting; White House Shifts Blame to State and Local Officials." In the article, an anonymous "senior Bush official" sought to dismiss criticism of the administration's response to Hurricane Katrina by contending falsely that "[a]s of Saturday [September 3], [Louisiana Gov. Kathleen] Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency."

    The Post was responsible enough to print a correction to the original article, pointing out that, in fact, Blanco declared a state of emergency on Friday, August 26 -- before the hurricane made landfall -- though the correction did not note that the error occurred because the Post relied on a "senior Bush official" who provided false information. Nonetheless, I believe this incident raises serious questions the Post needs to address.

    read the rest...
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    Frustrated: Fire crews to hand out fliers for FEMA

    By Lisa Rosetta
    The Salt Lake Tribune

    ATLANTA - Not long after some 1,000 firefighters sat down for eight hours of training, the whispering began: "What are we doing here?"
    As New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin pleaded on national television for firefighters - his own are exhausted after working around the clock for a week - a battalion of highly trained men and women sat idle Sunday in a muggy Sheraton Hotel conference room in Atlanta.
    Many of the firefighters, assembled from Utah and throughout the United States by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, thought they were going to be deployed as emergency workers.
    Instead, they have learned they are going to be community-relations officers for FEMA, shuffled throughout the Gulf Coast region to disseminate fliers and a phone number: 1-800-621-FEMA.
    On Monday, some firefighters stuck in the staging area at the Sheraton peeled off their FEMA-issued shirts and stuffed them in backpacks, saying they refuse to represent the federal agency.
    Federal officials are unapologetic.

    go read the rest...
    CLICK HERE

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    Tuesday, September 06, 2005

    President George W. Costanza... ...explains his criminal negligence.

    ...explains his criminal negligence.

    [Oh - my - God, this is so 'spot on'!]

    read it here...

    driftglass

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    Bury the Backlash

    From The Laura Flanders Show, aired Saturday, August [September] 3, 2005
    by Laura Flanders


    Unimaginable, our President called the disaster that hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast this week. And on his back-slapping tour through the least troubled neighborhoods of the region, he said it was as if "the entire coast had been obliterated by the worst kind of weapon."

    Sure enough - a deadly weapon hit this nation - this Presidency, and I'm only repeating what I'm hearing when I say Americans can't afford it one more minute.

    The disaster in the Gulf Coast was only unimaginable, Mr. President if you don't read the warnings about sinking levees and rising waters. Only unimaginable if you didn't read the requests from the New Orleans flood control people this June, before you recommended to Congress that they slash their budgets by 44 percent. The Gulf Coast disaster was unimaginable like a terror attack on New York City - only if you disregard the CIA reports titled Osama Plans Attacks within the United States.

    What's unimaginable is that we'll let this administration continue for one more moment. Katrina hit the Gulf Coast but it's this administration's policies that have wrecked the place.

    A whole lot of people died this week that had no need to die: grandmothers in attic crawl-spaces, babies in pools of urine at the stadium, old men in lawn chairs in the street. A whole lot of people died this week who should be living and breathing.

    One thing that should also have died this week is American apathy about government like this.

    Seventy - eight years ago, it was another flood in New Orleans that sounded an alarm-bell. The Mississippi river rose over New Orleans and another Republican President made a photo-op stop, promised to rebuild, and then didn't. Out of that disaster came a plan. Huey Long laid it out when he was elected governor of Louisiana in 1928: progressive income taxes, real money for education, public works an end to imperial wars and the untrammeled power of Wall Street. Government should be for the we the people, not a cookie jar for private profiteers. The US military should defend the US, not bankrupt it the nation in the service of imperial chicken hawks.

    Did I mention that Exxon�s last quarter profits stand at $7.6 billion � before gas prices rose to $3.50 a gallon. Did you hear who received the Navy�s contract to build their ships in New Orleans? Halliburton�s Kellogg, Brown and Root.

    Huey Long was shot dead before he could run for the White House (and I thank Greg Palast for reminding us of this history.) But prodded awake by Long and his supporters, Democrats cobbled together what they called a New Deal inherent in which was the idea that the mission of government is to help those who can not help themselves.

    For half a century since, conservatives have been lashing back, serving up shrink-the-government snake oil, hogwash about how you can help the people by slashing safety nets. And they've set us at each other's throats.

    Talking about �combat operations� underway in the streets of New Orleans, Army Times called Americans there �insurgents.� At least one commander in the ravaged city had to tell his men not to aim their rifles at the flood victims "You're not in Iraq."

    But it�s a century of scapegoat and slash that has made New Orleans a war-zone. What we�re seeing across the Gulf Coast is a society that has sunk.

    Amid the bodies that should not be dead in the putrid New Orleans water, I can only hope the conservatives backlash is buried there in that toxic pit.

    Just as Mayor Ray Nagin, who let rip last week about his people�s abandonment on WWL radio, is now a mayor without a city. We Americans are a people without a government.

    We are not Refugees vs. Americans, National Guard vs. Insurgents. We are one people in search of a government. A government that would serve us, not the reverse; a government that prioritizes us.

    As my favorite t-shirt of the moment reads: �Make levees not war.�

    Give us poverty relief not tax relief for the rich. Impose a windfall profit tax to pay for the gulf�s recovery � don�t ask private givers to pay not only for what government�s failed to do � like plan for disaster � as well as what this government�s done � like create a disaster in Iraq. Let the looting of Mother Nature and the people�s treasure stop. We�ve got a society to rebuild. Let�s rebuild it different.

    source here

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    Who Needs the United States Government?

    (We All Do.)

    by Chris Edelson


    Over the past week, the United States government has proven incapable of providing relief to citizens in desperate need. The consequences were immediate and devastating for thousands of residents of New Orleans and other affected areas. For days, people were trapped in hellish conditions, without food, water, medicine, or sanitation. It seems certain that thousands of people died.

    When disasters like Hurricane Katrina occur, Americans naturally look to the federal government for help. This is not surprising. The federal government has a budget of more than one trillion dollars. It has more than one million employees. It has an agency dedicated to emergency management. It is far bigger and has far more resources than state and local governments. It is natural that Americans expect the federal government to be the entity most capable of responding to the worst crises, including disasters like Katrina.

    Sadly, those in charge -- our supposed leaders -- do not seem to understand why the federal government is essential. For the past quarter century, conservatives have hypocritically damned the federal government, even as they presided over it for most of those years. Ronald Reagan criticized wasteful federal spending, even as spending and deficits ballooned during his administrations. George W. Bush brought more of the same�denouncing the federal government as a problem to be solved by reduced spending (again, even as spending and deficits increased on his watch). This critique has given the Republican party a focus and singlemindedness Democrats have lacked. It is easy to say what the Republicans have stood for in recent decades; limited federal government has been the cornerstone of their philosophy.

    The Democratic heirs to FDR�s New Deal and LBJ�s Great Society have been unable to deliver an effective rejoinder to the conservative critique of national government. In 1984, Walter Mondale�s attempt to defend the Democratic vision of government became associated only with higher taxes. A decade later, Bill Clinton famously conceded that the era of big government had ended. Presidential standard bearers Al Gore and John Kerry defanged their rhetoric in order to avoid sounding like big government types.

    A question, glaringly unasked over the past quarter century, has forced itself into the national consciousness over the past week: why exactly do we need the United States government? Conservative rhetoric suggested that government was more a problem than a solution, an obstacle to be removed from the path of the free market system. Of course, even conservatives did not advocate dismantling the entire government. For one thing, lavish military spending marked Republican administrations. Beyond the military, however, it was unclear that conservatives saw any part of the federal government as essential. They endorsed states� rights at almost every turn (though not when it came to gay marriage or medical marijuana). In opposition, Democrats were unable to articulate why we need federal government.

    In the flooded streets of New Orleans, we finally have a clear, resounding answer. State and city authorities were first unable to muster the resources needed to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people, then to care for and protect those left behind. Ordinary citizens stuck in the city looked, in vain, to the federal government for help. On television, they asked how the United States could deliver aid to other countries and fight a war overseas in Iraq while forsaking its own citizens.

    This is an �emperor has no clothes� moment. Twenty five years of Republican rhetoric have been stripped naked. Criticizing big government sounded good when all it seemed to mean was lower taxes. But, it turns out, those taxes pay for something, and reduced spending can have very real consequences. The Bush administration cut funding for strengthening the levees in New Orleans. That decision had a human cost not factored into the budget calculus.

    It is time to ask basic questions about government, questions that were asked when this country was founded, but questions that need to be asked again, after years of assault on the concept of national government. Why do we have a government at all? Why did we form a national government? Government, at its essence, means civilization. We have government for the same reason cavemen banded together into tribes, and the people of the Fertile Crescent formed cities. Government exists to make life better, less dangerous, more sane. It accomplishes collective tasks that would overwhelm individuals. A national government exists for the same reasons, and can marshal far greater resources than smaller state or local entities, taking advantage of economies of scale and a larger tax base.

    The country�s founders made their reasons for forming a national government explicit in the preamble to the United States Constitution: �We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.�

    During the past week, the United States government utterly failed to insure domestic tranquility or to promote the general welfare in New Orleans. After this failure, we must reexamine all of the platitudes that have become dogma over the past quarter century: that government is a problem to be reined in, not a resource; that the private sector can be counted on to fill in gaps unaddressed by government; that taxes may only be lowered, never raised; that private sector principles should be applied to the public sector. When searching for something good that could come out of this national tragedy, President Bush clumsily looked forward to the reconstruction of Trent Lott�s house in Mississippi. If we really want to hope for something good born from tragedy, we should reimagine, as our forebears once did, our national government as a force for good that will be there when its desperate citizens cry out for help.

    Chris Edelson is a civil rights attorney in New York City.

    Published on Monday, September 5, 2005 by CommonDreams.org

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    Faulkner They Ain't

    Echo Chamber
    September 02, 2005
    Faulkner They Ain't


    As soon as New Orleans began looking like some kind of awful latter-day Atlantis earlier this week, the inevitable mawkish, maudlin elegies to the Lost City came wafting in.

    New Orleans, it seems, was a fantasyland, full of earthly pleasures for a host of middle-aged white writers. And even as people were still struggling against the rising water, those writers wanted to remember; they wanted to remember the strippers, the po'boy sandwiches, the dark river, Mardi Gras, the beads, the jazz, the booze, the women. And so we got memories of magical first girlfriends, usually encountered on magical drunken nights, and unbridled dancing -- lots and lots of unbridled dancing.

    You can read more at link below. It's pretty funny actaully.
    CLICK HERE

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    EU Rota: US Left: All Straws Clutched, Every Barrel Scraped

    Here's a rightwing view of the political fallout from Katrina. Of course they want to make it Clinton's fault. But remember, as much controversy as there is today over global warming, it was even more vague of a threat 10 years ago. Clinton did cut spending for Louisiana's levees and wetlands. And it is surely a shameful thing in light of last week's storm. But if that's true for then, how much truer is it now?

    And the greater wrongdoing would seem to be the terrible response to the tragedy last week by THIS adiministration. And before the rightwingers start hollering, yes, anyone on the state and local level who are responsible need to be tarred and feathered right along with the feds.
    --pseudolus


    "US Left: All Straws Clutched, Every Barrel Scraped",

    The Left in the US seems determined to find any angle (ranging from the irrational to the psychotic) to pin the blame of the devastating Hurricane Katrina on President Bush. They have tried so far: the global warming caused it angle, strike one; not enough Louisiana National Guard troops due to the war in Iraq, strike two; now, Bush cut money earmarked for flood control due to the war in Iraq, hopefully strike three.

    The latest idea is floated by sometime journalist, sometime Clinton policy advisor, and sometime litigant Sidney Blumenthal. His latest missive can be found in Speigel Online, natch:

    In 2001, FEMA warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S. But the Bush administration cut New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent to pay for the Iraq war."



    you can read the rest here...and it ain't pretty.

    EU Rota: US Left: All Straws

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    New Orleans catastrophe down to privatisation

    "By Charlie Demerjian: Tuesday 06 September 2005, 09:02
    WHAT WE ARE WITNESSING in New Orleans is nothing less than the abject failure of government at the one task it is supposed to do, deal with problems too big for private enterprise to handle. We pay taxes, we follow rules, and get things that we normally would not do for ourselves in return. It is a social contract, and in the wake of hurricane Katrina, it was a worthless piece of paper.

    When you need to drive to the capital of the next state, you probably don't want to build a road to get there, not that you have the skills, time or money to do it anyway. When the invading hordes of Oceania or Eurasia or whatever we are supposed to hate this week come calling, the government defends us, because we can't do much against a tank, much less a column of them. This is the contract, we pay a little, and get the things we won't or can't do ourselves.

    Now, to do this, you have to plan, prepare, and make ready for things that may or may not happen. If tomorrow we suddenly make peace with Oceania, it would probably have been wise to fortify the borders with Eurasia before we swapped sides. If there is an earthquake, it is a good idea to prepare teams of people in advance on how to deal with it. Stockpiling food, water, heavy equipment and communications gear is also a good thing, and because much of it will probably rot before it gets used, it isn't a sane thing for any individual to do."

    read the rest here...
    New Orleans catastrophe down to privatisation:

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    Alien Loves Predator: In New York, no one can hear you scream.

    As White House Anxiety Grows, Bush Tries to Quell Political Crisis - New York Times

    As White House Anxiety Grows, Bush Tries to Quell Political Crisis - New York Times: "WASHINGTON, Sept. 3 - Faced with one of the worst political crises of his administration, President Bush abruptly overhauled his September schedule on Saturday as the White House scrambled to gain control of a situation that Republicans said threatened to undermine Mr. Bush's second-term agenda and the party's long-term ambitions."

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    Barbara Bush: Things Working Out 'Very Well' for Poor Evacuees from New Orleans

    Oh, geez! Barbara Bush "opens mouth, inserts foot" yet again. These people are so out of touch. And they think 'the Liberal Elite' are the problem.

    Barbara Bush: "yammering idiot"

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    The 'city' of Louisiana - Bloggermann - MSNBC.com

    Keith Olberman continues to be one of the few TV anchors who will speak 'truth to power'. Follow the link below to read his most recent commentary on the Katrina debacle.


    The 'city' of Louisiana - Bloggermann - MSNBC.com

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    Monday, September 05, 2005

    The Stakeholder:: Boustany, a Man of No Principles

    What a fine example of stalwart Republicanism. No matter what, if it hurts the party, LIE about it. SPIN it the GOP way. Don't let a little thing like Christian values stand in your way to make the party look better. This type of Republican represents the best in Soviet-style groupthink. Just shameful.
    --pseudolus


    Follow the link for the story...

    The Stakeholder:: Boustany, a Man of No Principles

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    "Money" or "The Wall" could have worked, too

    driftglass (one of my faves) has posted a picture essay based on Pink Floyd's "Us and Them".


    See it here

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    Wet & Wild

    Up close and personal with killer whales.
    Awesome pix and commentary by David Neiwert.

  • Orcinus

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  • Whiskey Bar: Where There's a Will


    Well, do we see a difference in response to hurricane disaster here? The lightning like speed with which this federal administration turned out help when an election was on the line in a swing state is amazing. Is this merely a coincidence or do we see something more sinister? I know what I think. Draw your own conclusions.
    --pseudolus

    click here

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    Roger Ailes - Karl Rove and Voter Fraud

    It's not just a job, it's a lifestyle too:

    Anyway, Rove is now registered to vote in Kerr County, about 80 miles west of Austin in the Texas Hill Country. He and his wife, Darby, have owned property there, on the Guadalupe River, since at least 1997, according to county property records.

    But as far as the locals know, the couple have never actually lived in either of two tiny rental cottages Rove claims as his residence on Texas voter registration rolls. The largest is 814 square feet and valued by the county at about $25,000.

    "I've been here 10 years and I've never seen him. There are only, like, three grocery stores in town. You'd think you'd at least see him at the HEB" grocery, said Greg Shrader, editor and publisher of the Kerrville Daily Times.

    read the rest...
    CLICK HERE


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    Hit and Run - I Bet You'd Call the Fire Department, Mr. Libertarian!

    Read this...

    click here

    a comment I took exception to:

    I would call the Fire or Police department because I PAY FOR THOSE SERVICES! The ineptitude of the some people, especially those who do nothing for themselves, is not my responsibility and I shouldn't be forced to pay for their sevices.

    Comment by: Peter Cantwell at September 4, 2005 10:59 PM

    -----

    Peter, do your taxes pay for the ENTIRE cost of those services? Or are they mitigated by others' taxes as well? We pool our resources so no one individual has to pay for the entire cost of putting out a blaze at their home or the cost of an investigation into their murder or robbery. And some folks, can't or won't pay their share of taxes, so, do we let their homes burn or crimes against them go uninvestigated? No, because we can't afford to have their fires/crimes spread unchecked among us. It's called civilization. Look into it.

    As for private fire departments and police agencies...been there, done that. Unaffiliated homes were left to burn while private fire depts. fought over the oppurtunity to put out the fires and collect the fees, or simply ignored them because the home owner didn't belong to their fire company. That's why Ben Franklin created the municipal fire department. Heh, what an idiot that guy was.

    Comment by: pseudolus at September 5, 2005 06:10 AM


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    Sunday, September 04, 2005

    Hoffmania!: E&P Column - Not a Single Wasted Word

    'My Pet Goat' -- The Sequel
    This time, during a catastrophe, the president did not merely dither for seven minutes, but for three days, and his top advisors followed suit. While the media has done a good job in portraying the overall failure of leadership in this weeks hurricane's disaster, it has not focused enough on this deadly dereliction of duty.

    by Greg Mitchell, Editor
    Editor and Publisher

    read the rest...

    click here

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    There are 'photo ops' and then there are "PHOTO OPS"

    "BEHIND THE CURTAIN....George Bush's photo-op tour of New Orleans yesterday has apparently driven Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu over the edge. Today she blasted FEMA for its feeble response to Hurricane Katrina and Bush for his phony, stage managed promises of action..."

    If this doesn't make your blood boil, you are either dead or a hardcore republican.

    read the rest...
    CLICK HERE


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    The Buck Stops There and There.


    fun with captions...check this one out at:

    "Yep, another Goddamned blog"

    from the "take responsibility" party...


    click here

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    I'm Batman

    "Gotham City is darker these days, dear Gothamites. It seems the super villains are all-pervasive, little penguin IED’s line the streets of our fair city, people are smiling like Laura Bush before dropping dead and the Catwoman’s been leaving scatological mash notes behind our couches where we can smell but not see them. And Batman is nowhere in sight."

    read the rest at:

    "Yep, another Goddamned blog"

    CLICK HERE


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