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, November 05, 2005

James Boyle: Web's never-to-be-repeated revolution

FT.com / Comment & analysis / Comment - James Boyle: Web’s never-to-be-repeated revolution

James Boyle: Web’s never-to-be-repeated revolution
By James Boyle
Published: November 2 2005 19:50 | Last updated: November 2 2005 19:50

World Wide Web imageThe web is having a birthday. This month, we will have the 15th anniversary of the creation of the first web page. It is the birthday of Tim Berners-Lee’s amazing idea that there could be a worldwide web, linked not by spider silk but by hypertext links and transfer protocols and uniform resource locators.

How should we celebrate? We are too close to the web to understand it. And those who lost money in the dotcom boom greet any celebration of the web the way a person with a hangover greets a mention of the drink of which they overindulged. The knowledge of shameful excess produces a renunciant puritanism. No more tequila or web romanticism for me!

That is a shame, because there are three things that we need to understand about the web. First, it is more amazing than we think. Second, the conjunction of technologies that made the web successful was extremely unlikely. Third, we probably would not create it, or any technology like it, today. In fact, we would be more likely to cripple it, or declare it illegal.

Why is the web amazing? Because of what people have built on it. Some might remember when the most exciting sites on the web had pictures of coffee pots in universities far away. (“See,” one would proudly say to a neophyte, “the pot is empty and we can see that from here! This changes everything!”) But now? When is the last time you looked in an encyclopedia? When is the last time that your curiosity – what is the collective noun for larks? Is Gerald Ford alive? Why is the sky blue? – remained unsatisfied for more than a moment? (An “exaltation”, yes and look it up for yourself.) Much of that information is provided by volunteers who delight in sharing their knowledge. Consider the range of culture, science and literature – from the Public Library of Science and Wikipedia, to Project Gutenberg and the National Map. The web does not bring us to the point where all can have access to, and can add to, the culture and knowledge of the world. We cannot ensure global literacy let alone global connectedness. But it brings us closer.

Why is the web unlikely? Prepare for a moment of geek-speak. For most of us, the web is reached by general­purpose computers that use open protocols – standards and languages that are owned by no one – to communicate with a network (there is no central point from which all data comes) whose mechanisms for transferring data are also open.

Imagine a network with the opposite design. Imagine that your terminal came hardwired from the manufacturer with a particular set of programs and functions. No experimenting with new technologies developed by third parties – instant messaging, Google Earth, flash animations...Imagine also that the network was closed and flowed from a central source. More like pay-television than web. No one can decide on a whim to create a new site. The New York Times might secure a foothold on such a network. Your blog, or Wikipedia, or Jib Jab need not apply. Imagine that the software and protocols were proprietary. You could not design a new service to run on this system, because you do not know what the system is and, anyway, it might be illegal. Imagine something with all the excitement and creativity of a train timetable.

The web developed because we went in the opposite direction – towards openness and lack of centralised control. Unless you believe that some invisible hand of technological inevitability is pushing us towards openness – I am a sceptic – we have a remarkable historical conjunction of technologies.

Why might we not create the web today? The web became hugely popular too quickly to control. The lawyers and policymakers and copyright holders were not there at the time of its conception. What would they have said, had they been? What would a web designed by the World Intellectual Property Organisation or the Disney Corporation have looked like? It would have looked more like pay-television, or Minitel, the French computer network. Beforehand, the logic of control always makes sense. “Allow anyone to connect to the network? Anyone to decide what content to put up? That is a recipe for piracy and pornography.”

And of course it is. But it is also much, much more. The lawyers have learnt their lesson now. The regulation of technological development proceeds apace. When the next disruptive communications technology – the next worldwide web – is thought up, the lawyers and the logic of control will be much more evident. That is not a happy thought.

The writer is professor of law at Duke Law School, a co-founder of the Centre for the Study of the Public Domain and a board member of Creative Commons


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Friday, November 04, 2005

GetRight Download Manager: Resume Downloads, Schedule Downloads, Faster Downloads

By far the best download manager available, and I’ve tried them all. (well, most of them, anyway)

If you are on dial-up you need a download manager. And if you use broadband, instead, you still can use a good manager. Why? Because you can download even the largest files with ease. Interruptions can be a hassle, when you need to restart a download from scratch, OY! what a pain in the butt. But, a good manager will resume your download from where it left off and save you time and money. You can schedule your downloads for late night when the computer is idle. You can sort your downloads by category and keep them tidy on your hard drive.

There is a FREE version available that has no ads or spyware! These folks have been developing this product for at least 10 years and have been leading the field in my opinion. It was free for many of those years and they only developed a Pro version for pay when they started adding the latest and greatest abilities to this program. I used the free version for over 6 years until I decided that after trying numerous competitors that this was the best and worth the money to keep the programmers working. You can now handle Podcasts and Bit-Torrent files with the PRO version and it is flawless.

I have no financial interest in any of the software I recommend. After 18 years of personal computing interest I merely want to give the best advice I can to friends and family and to any new friends who happen across my site.

GetRight Download Manager: Resume Downloads, Schedule Downloads, Faster Downloads

GetRight®

* Download manager and accelerator software
* Accelerate Downloads: get a file from several servers simultaneously
* Download recovery if connection is lost or computer crashes
* Works with Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Mozilla, Netscape, AOL, and MSN
* Easy to use for the novice and powerful for the professional
* No spyware


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Brad Friedman: 'Mainstream media to American democracy: Drop dead!'

It's been a full two weeks now since the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO came out with their 107-page report [PDF] confirming what so many of us have been trying to ring the bell about for so long: The Electronic Voting Machines which are proliferating counties and states across America even as I type, are not secure, not accountable, not recountable, not transparent, not accurate and not adequately monitored or certified by anybody.

To quote from the alarming landmark report:
[C]oncerns about electronic voting machines have been realized and have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and miscount of votes.
The Mainstream Corporate Media couldn't care less.

The report was requested by several high-ranking members of the U.S. House of Representatives. It culminated a year-long investigation into the secret Voting Machines and Software now being deployed to the tune of millions of tax-payer dollars to privatize our American Democracy.

The release of the report was accompanied by a bi-partisan News Release which lauded its findings.

That's right. Six high-ranking U.S. Congressmen (3 Dems and 3 Reps) issued the incredibly rare joint News Release together. Two of those Congressmen were Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), chairman and ranking minority member, respectively, of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee respectively. You do understand how rare it is that those two can agree on anything much less issue a joint press release, right?!

And yet, none of the above has been carried by even one wire service or one major American Newspaper. Not one.

News of the landmark non-partisan report and bi-partisan news release was carried on a few Internet sites (here, here and here) in a few tech journals (here, here and here) and a couple of tiny independent newspapers (here and here). But there has not been a single wire-service (not AP, not UPI, not Reuters, not AFP etc.) nor a single mainstream American print newspaper (not NYTimes, not Washington Post, not any of them) to run even a paragraph on any of it. Not one.

While I'd expect the usual crappy coverage of something this important from both the wires and the print media, I am completely without explanation as to why none of them (Not one! Did I mention that?!) bothered to do even the usual sub-par, unsatisfactory, wholly misinformed, shitty job that we've come to expect from the Mainstream Corporate Media.

But why should they bother to run even a paragraph on it? It's only about our VOTE, the very heart of our democracy.

I've tried to encourage the respected Editor & Publisher to look into the matter. They cover the coverage of such things and it'll be a hell of a lot more difficult for the media to ignore the inquiries of E&P than it would be for them to simply disregard me. Perhaps E&P can find out from the four major wire services and America's two most important and influential newspapers why the GAO report and accompanying news release confirming that those of they previously labeled as "conspiracy theorists" are now confirmed as nothing of the kind. Perhaps they can find out why those organizations, apparently, consider a report which rocks the very foundation of our democracy to be less than "newsworthy".

I'd encourage you to do so as well by dropping a polite request to E&P that they inquire and report on the matter. Perhaps that'll help get some action. And some coverage. Their address is: Letters@EditorAndPublisher.com

I hope you'll help. This democracy ain't gonna save itself, ya know. I hope you realize that.

Copyright 2005 © HuffingtonPost.com, LLC

Source: The Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brad-friedman/

 


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Alito's Colleagues on Alito: "Radical," "Unwise," "Ignores Precedent"

During his tenure on 3rd Circuit many of Samuel Alito’s opinions have been roundly criticized by other judges. This is particularly true in civil rights cases. In such cases Alito has been repeatedly criticized, not for being conservative, but for being unfaithful to the law. Here’s a sample:

“What [Judge Alito] proposes to do in [his] holding is effectively have courts take a back seat to bureaucratic agencies in protecting constitutional liberties. This . . . is a radical and unwise redefinition of the relationship between federal courts and federal agencies . . . .” (Grant v. Shalala, 1993) (Judge Leon Higginbotham)

“We suggest that to read [as Judge Alito does] the ‘no reasonable adjudicator’ standard in a way that does away with the need for ‘substantial evidence’ not only guts the statutory standard, but ignores our precedent.” (Dia v. Ashcroft, 2003) (Judge Marjorie Rendell)

“I disagree with [Judge Alito’s] holding that a union has ‘actual authority’ to waive its members’ Fourth Amendment rights bound only by the fair representation doctrine. . . . This sweeping assertion divests all public sector employees of their Fourth Amendment rights and strains to make legitimate that which clearly is not.” (Bolden v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transp. Authority, 1991) (Judge Richard Nygaard)

“[Judge Alito’s] position would immunize an employer from the reach of Title VII if the employer’s belief that it had selected the ‘best’ candidate, was the result of conscious racial bias. . . . Title VII would be eviscerated if our analysis were to halt where [Judge Alito’s] dissent suggests.” (Bray v. Marriott Hotels, 1997) (Judge Theodore McKee)

“[Judge Alito] gives no reason why a plaintiff alleging discrimination is not entitled to the real reason for the personnel decision, no matter how uncomfortable the truth may be to the employer. Surely, the judicial system has little to gain by [Judge Alito’s] approach.” (Sheridan v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co., 1996) (Judge Dolores Sloviter)

“[Judge Alito’s] attempt to analogize the statistical evidence of the use of peremptory challenges to strike black jurors to the percent of left-handed presidents requires some comment. [Judge Alito] has overlooked the obvious fact that there is no provision in the Constitution that protects persons from discrimination based on whether they are right-handed or left-handed. To suggest any comparability to the striking of jurors based on their race is to minimize the history of discrimination against prospective black jurors and black defendants . . . .” (Riley v. Taylor, 2001) (Judge Dolores Sloviter)

“[Judge Alito’s] decision overturning the District Court’s grant of a writ of habeas corpus and rejecting [the defendant’s] claim of ineffective assistance of counsel is inexplicable in light of the Supreme Court’s most recent application of Strickland in Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510 (2003), under circumstances remarkably similar to those presented here.” (Rompilla v. Horn, 2004) (Judge Dolores Sloviter)

Filed under: Supreme Court

Posted by Think Progress November 3, 2005 4:47 pm

—-

source and readers’ comments here:

Think Progress » Alito’s Colleagues on Alito: “Radical,” “Unwise,” “Ignores Precedent”


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The Bad Idea

The Smirking Chimp

So, now we learn that yet another GOP led coverup of GOP intelligence policy failures occurred in the recent past. Funny how this all shakes out. Lies layered upon lies. Smears covered by more lies. It appears to be the standard modus operandi for this criminal cabal. Why am I not surprised? This is news that must get out. Share it with your friends and enemies.

 —pseudolus

——

Robert Parry: 'Libby and nuclear secrets to China'
Posted on Friday, November 04 @ 10:11:39 EST




Indicted ex-White House aide Lewis Libby played a key role in an earlier case of slanting U.S. intelligence for political gain - four years before the Iraq War when he was legal adviser to a House investigation into how communist China got U.S. nuclear secrets.

In 1999, Libby, a China expert, served on a special Republican-controlled House committee that laid the blame for the compromise of U.S. secrets almost exclusively on Democrats, despite evidence that the worst rupture of nuclear secrets actually occurred during the Reagan-Bush administration in the mid-1980s.

The committee's findings served as an important backdrop for Election 2000 when George W. Bush's backers juxtaposed images of Democrat Al Gore attending a political event at a Buddhist temple with references to the so-called "Chinagate" scandal.

The American public was led to believe that $30,000 in illegal "soft-money" donations from Chinese operatives to Democrats in 1996 were somehow linked to China's access to U.S. nuclear secrets. Millions of Americans may have been influenced to vote against Gore and for Bush because they wanted to rid the U.S. government of people who had failed to protect national security secrets.

But the reality was that the principal exposure of U.S. nuclear secrets to China appears to have occurred when Beijing obtained U.S. blueprints for the W-88 miniaturized hydrogen bomb, a Chinese intelligence coup in the mid-1980s on the watch of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

The intelligence loss came at a time when the Reagan-Bush administration was secretly collaborating with communist China on arms shipments to the Nicaraguan contra rebels, an operation so sensitive that Congress and the American people were kept in the dark, even as White House aide Oliver North colluded with Chinese agents.

The House report - with Libby as a top adviser - obscured this central fact by setting up a timeline that placed nearly all entries about compromised intelligence in the years of Jimmy Carter's or Bill Clinton's presidencies. Only a close reading of the report's text would clue someone in on the actual timing of the W-88 leak to China.

Libby's role in this earlier manipulation of intelligence information for political gain is relevant after his Oct. 28 indictment for perjury, lying to FBI investigators and obstruction of justice.

——-

read the whole thing, it’s damn ugly and damn indictable:

The Smirking Chimp

 


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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Litmus Test

The Crisis of Public Reason

The Crisis of Public Reason Tuesday 15 Aug 2000
author: Phil Agre

summary:
Who's Crazy? Almost universally, demonstrators against corporate rule are portrayed as purely emotional, irrationally opposed to ideas and institutions that are "embodiments of reason." But the appearance of rationality is just that--appearance. This penetrating article by Phil Agre, UCLA professor of information studies, reproduced from his renowned online newsletter, the Red Rock Eater News Service, helps us think more clearly and critically about the substance of reason, as opposed to the appearance.
——-

read it here:

The Crisis of Public Reason

or here:

The Crisis of Public Reason


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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Badtux the Snarky Penguin: (Un)Intelligent Design

Yeah, he’s a Libertarian, but he’s funny here, so I won’t hold it against him, this time. —pseudolus

——

Sunday, October 30, 2005

(Un)Intelligent Design

An Intelligent Design Proponent Tries to fix a Car:

Tried to start car.
One cylinder not firing properly.
Removed spark plug from cylinder.
Tried starting car, watched gap.
No spark on plug.
Cleaned contacts.
No spark on plug.

Decided electricity is too complicated to understand and therefore the automobile is a creation of God. Went inside and pondered the possibilities thereof. Decided that theory of automotive repair needs to include option that automobile is incomprehensible and that alternate possibilities of automotive theory need to be taught in auto repair schools all over the country.

Four years later, auto mechanics begin praying over autos rather than fixing them. When dealership owners complain and fire the mechanics who believe in Intelligent Design of automobiles, they are hit with religious bigotry lawsuits and picketed by the Christian Coalition and the entire congregations of the local Pentecostal, Southern Baptist, and Assembly of God churches until forced to re-hire the mechanics.

Inoperative motor vehicles start to clog the roads. The Southern Baptist Convention and Christian Coalition call for a day of prayer, asking God to repair the inoperative automobiles. The cars, alas, refuse to be healed via prayer, and the economy collapses because trucks carrying goods can no longer navigate through all the car carcasses.

The Republican Party blames it on liberal Democrats, saying that if liberals had only prayed harder, God would have healed all those cars. The American public nods in unison, and votes for another Republican President.

-- Badtux the Futurist Penguin (with some help from the Internets)

 

Badtux the Snarky Penguin: (Un)Intelligent Design

 


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Shakespeare's Sister -What the hell is wrong with conservatives?

Be warned: This is not for the weak of heart or “conservatives” either. The truly twisted mind of Scooter Libby exhibited here. And let us not forget Lynn Cheney’s pornographic novel of lesbian love.

Or ‘Judge’ Alito’s approval of strip searching 10 year old girls. Man, something’s gotta give. —pseudolus

—-

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

With all the bloviating we hear about moral values from conservatives on a regular basis, you’d think that maybe they’d make some vague attempt to actually live up to their rhetoric, but time after time, it’s conservatives who prove to be the most corrupt, the most deviant, the most disturbed. Completely antithetical to the liberal theory that allowing people freedom of choice and expression will facilitate the development of healthy choices and self-expression, conservatives believe that repression is the key to goodness. But it doesn’t work. In fact, it has the opposite effect. Repression of normal desires can’t work forever, and once those normal desires have cooked in the dark recesses of the human mind for years on end, they bubble to the surface in a much uglier form. Sorry, but I’ll take a run-of-the-mill adulterous blowjob any day of the week over mule fucking, closet boytoy-trolling while advocating anti-gay rights measures, or online prostitution.

—-

read the whole sick thing here:

Shakespeare's Sister


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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

We Need to Start Caring About Fish, or There Won't Be Any Left To Eat

Published on Monday, October 31, 2005 by the Guardian/UK
We Need to Start Caring About Fish, or There Won't Be Any Left To Eat
by Max Hastings

Most of us like eating fish, but nobody wants to cuddle them. The consequence is that, while otters, seals, elephants, rhinos and even foxes have powerful political constituencies to fight for them, mankind is doing disastrous things at sea without anybody seeming to care much.

Environmental organizations often damage their own causes by overstatement. I am among those who have criticized Greenpeace and its brethren for abusing statistics and indulging in some pretty wild scaremongering. But Greenpeace is absolutely right, in its report published last week, to highlight the scandal of some supermarkets - Asda is branded the worst offender - selling threatened fish species.

The world's oceans are being plundered, and nobody seems willing or able to stop the slaughter. Some fish and crustaceans are successfully farmed: trout and oysters, to name but two. Stocks of others are sustainable, such as herring, sardines, whitebait and mussels. Many species, however, are in desperate trouble, including tuna, plaice, monkfish and cod. Over the past half-century, the world's annual fish catch has risen from 18m tons to 95m. The latest figures from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization suggest that 52% of commercial fish species are fully exploited, 17% overexploited and 8% depleted.

It is striking to contrast the wave of alarm, if not panic, sweeping the world about avian flu with our indifference to the plight of fish. As long as there are fillets in the shops, we buy them. When species vanish, people shrug and eat something else.

——-

read it all here:

We Need to Start Caring About Fish, or There Won't Be Any Left To Eat


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Bernanke Could Face Serious Trouble

Bernanke Could Face Serious Trouble

Distributed to newspapers by Knight-Ridder/Tribune Information Services
Published on Monday, October 31, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
Bernanke Could Face Serious Trouble
by Mark Weisbrot


Ben Bernanke's first promise upon being nominated for Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve was that he would "maintain continuity with the policies and policy strategies established during the Greenspan years."

Of course he was speaking to the financial markets, which tend to worship Greenspan and are rather jittery about change these days - as anyone sitting on the edge of a cliff and staring down into the abyss might be.

But following in Greenspan's hallowed footsteps might not be so easy, nor would it necessarily be the best thing for the U.S. economy. After all, it was Greenspan who persuaded Congress in January 2001 that President Bush's proposed tax cuts were fiscally responsible, arguing that without them we would pay off the national debt too quickly. Oops! The gross federal debt for the current fiscal year is projected to be the highest in 50 years, at 67.5 percent of our GDP.

Alan Greenspan made some other mistakes that have cost the American people dearly, and others that have yet to come home to roost. After initially warning of "irrational exuberance" in the stock market in December 1996, he reversed himself and allowed the stock market bubble to inflate to unsustainable levels. Millions of Americans lost much of their retirement savings in the ensuing, predictable crash.

When the stock market bubble burst and triggered the recession of 2001, the recovery was fueled by an already established housing bubble that has now created more than $5 trillion of excess wealth. The Greenspan Fed helped this bubble along, too - although recently Mr. Greenspan has started to talk about it. But when this bubble bursts it will almost certainly cause a recession, and we will wish that the Fed had warned the public more clearly - and earlier - about the dangers of over-inflated home values.

Bernanke says that he, like Greenspan, doesn't see bursting asset-market bubbles as the Fed's responsibility. But the Fed Chairman testifies regularly on the state of the economy, and the Fed is the major regulator of the country's economic activity. It makes no sense to say that the Fed can warn of the dangers of inflationary pressures, give advice on spending and tax policy and everything under the sun, but must remain silent when a speculative frenzy poses an economy-wide threat to the nation.

The Fed can cool off a bubble without having to raise interest rates and thereby dampen other economic activity. For example, to deal with the housing bubble, all the Fed Chairman would need to do is explain the reality: since 1996 house prices nationally have increased more than 45 percentage points after adjusting for inflation. From 1950-1995 house prices increased at the same rate as inflation. It is easy to show that this sharp break with the past is the result of a speculative bubble. If the Fed won't do this, who will?

Bernanke seems less politically aligned than his predecessor, so he is less likely to imitate Greenspan's endorsement of such partisan plans as Social Security privatization. He is qualified for the job. But he is inheriting some serious economic imbalances. In addition to the housing bubble and the near-record levels of federal debt, we have an unsustainable trade deficit and a much overvalued dollar. The interest rate on long-term (10-year) U.S. Treasuries is being held down by Asian central banks' buying them, which could slow any time and drive these rates (which the Fed can't directly control) upward. This would probably pop the housing bubble. And then there is inflation, the Fed's main enemy, which was running at 9.4 percent annually over the last quarter. Ouch. Bernanke will be lucky if he makes it through his first two years and still has a job.

Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.


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The Beat Farmers - Live At The Spring Valley Inn, 1983


Think of this record as a peek back at what was to become. The Beat Farmers burst out of San Diego and into the West Coast-centric cow-punk scene with 1985`s now out of print "Tales of the New West." What wasn`t known, though, was the band, consisting of Country Dick Montana, Buddy Blue, Jerry Raney, and Rolle Love, had been entertaining an odd mix of bikers and college kids at the Spring Valley Inn and Bodie's for almost two years. The stories were legendary. Now, for the first time, a glimpse of that era is offered. While no document short of a DVD would capture the unbelievable fun of a Beat Farmers show, this 21 track live CD does a great job of showcasing a band that was coming together. This CD mixes what later became Beat Farmers classics along with their impeccably interesting choices of covers. Until "Tales Of The New West" comes back into print, this will have to serve, and admirably so, as the document of a band discovering their greatness.
-----------
you can order it here:
Miles of Music

Update:

Ok... I finally got this in my hands and have given it a spin, and I truly must say: FOR BEAT FARMER FANS ONLY!! OY!
The audio is horrid on this cd. There are a few previously unavailable tunes on here and it is nice to have to fill out a completist's library, but I really can't recommend this for anyone else.

Instead, I would highly recommend the CD: The Beat Farmers...Loud...Plowed and Live! It is better recorded (though still spotty) and is of more recent vintage (1990). It has all the big 'hits' on it and is all around a much more listenable disk. It catches some of the fire of a real live Beat Farmers show, though not by much.

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Labor Dept. Is Rebuked Over Pact With Wal-Mart - New York Times

So, what’s next? A 15 day notice before police act on a search warrant? A 15 day notice before the Health Dept. inspects a resaurant? Hey! How about a 15 day notice before border agents inspect your vehicle?

There once was a time when the Labor Dept. worked for, um, labor. —pseudolus

—-

By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
Published: November 1, 2005

The Labor Department's inspector general strongly criticized department officials yesterday for "serious breakdowns" in procedures involving an agreement promising Wal-Mart Stores 15 days' notice before labor investigators would inspect its stores for child labor violations.

The report by the inspector general faulted department officials for making "significant concessions" to Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer, without obtaining anything in return. The report also criticized department officials for letting Wal-Mart lawyers write substantial parts of the settlement and for leaving the department's own legal division out of the settlement process.

The report said that in granting Wal-Mart the 15-day notice, the Wage and Hour Division violated its own handbook. It added that agreeing to let Wal-Mart jointly develop news releases about the settlement with the department violated Labor Department policies.

The inspector general, Gordon S. Heddell, said the agreement did not violate federal laws or regulations.

——

read the rest:

Labor Dept. Is Rebuked Over Pact With Wal-Mart - New York Times


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Yellow Dog Blog: Big Election Theft in a Little Town

Best have someone monitor your blood pressure while you read this. —pseudolus

——-

Monday, October 31, 2005

Susan Brenner-Morton never guessed what the remainder of 2005 would hold for her as she dutifully cast her absentee ballot for the March 15 mayoral election in Irvington, New York. The mayor's race in this scenic town of 6,700 people on the banks of the Hudson River, had been won by Democrat Erin Malloy, in a one-vote victory over Dennis Flood, the Republican incumbent who had held office, unchallenged, for 12 years.

This is the story of how Erin Malloy, Irvington residents – and especially Susan Brenner-Morton – discovered the true depths of the national Republican strategy for "winning" elections by disenfranchising voters and turning perfectly good votes into bad votes.

—-

read it all:

Yellow Dog Blog: Big Election Theft in a Little Town


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Mark's Sysinternals Blog: Sony, Rootkits and Digital Rights Management Gone Too Far

Interesting little detective story here, if you are interested in PC technolgy and Digital Rights Management implementation. It seems Sony may have gone a step too far in copy protecting a music CD (Van Zandt Brothers – Get Right with the Man).

Read the whole story at link below. It’s pretty technical so be warned.:

Mark's Sysinternals Blog: Sony, Rootkits and Digital Rights Management Gone Too Far

http://www.sysinternals.com/blog/2005/10/sony-rootkits-and-digital-rights.html


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Monday, October 31, 2005

Fitzgerald Threw a Softball

Fitzgerald Threw a Softball

Published on Saturday, October 29, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
Fitzgerald Threw a Softball
by Sheldon Drobny

Besides my co-founding Air America Radio, I have another day job. I have helped prosecute and defend white collar crime offenses for 38 years including experience with Mr. Fitzgerald's office in my home town Chicago on current political prosecutions. Those of us locally in the know here do not agree that Mr. Fitzgerald is as independent as the press has made him out to be. Let me explain.

Fitzgerald had to indict Libby. Libby's lies were so blatant that Fitzgerald had no choice. But Fitzgerald had a golden opportunity to do enough work to prove the underlying crimes that he was originally investigating. Those crimes involve two offenses in the U.S. Criminal Code; Conspiracy and Outing a CIA agent. Essentially Fitzgerald indicted Libby for preventing his prosecutors from proving the underlying crimes he was investigating by using a baseball metaphor in that Libby "threw sand in the umpires eyes." That part is patently absurd.

In most conspiracy cases, one or more of the co-conspirators invariably lie to the FBI or the Grand Jury. That is something that prosecutors face all the time. The idea that Libby alone prevented Fitzgerald from proving the underlying crime is absurd. If Cheney told Libby about Valerie Plame, there obviously was a reason. The idea that Cheney, Libby, Rove and Bush did not talk to each other about the purpose of passing on this information to the press is simply not believable. And there were many ways that Fitzgerald could have proven the conspiracy in spite of Libby's lies. The fact that Libby lied would normally embolden a prosecutor to prove the underlying crime. This was not the case for Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald stated in his press conference that most of his work has been completed. While there is always a Grand Jury available to indict others in the event of an unlikely plea bargain for Libby, the investigative phase is really over for this prosecutor. His office will now focus on the trial of Libby. Those of us who know about prosecutors and Grand Jury investigations would tell you that Fitzgerald, using a baseball metaphor, threw the Bush ka bal a "softball." And using a football metaphor, he "fumbled the ball."

Sheldon Drobny is a co-founder of Air America Radio and Chairman of the Paradigm Group II, LLC.


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Prosecutor Should Dig Deeper

Published on Sunday, October 30, 2005 by the Baltimore Sun
Prosecutor Should Dig Deeper
by Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith

Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald's investigation into the leak of a CIA operative's name has reaffirmed the basic American principle that even the highest government officials are subject to the rule of law. His charges represent the start of a revitalization of the institutions designed to maintain government under law. But that revitalization still has a long way to go.

As a prosecutor, Mr. Fitzgerald rightly brought charges where the law was clearest and the evidence most compelling. But the alleged crimes he is investigating are in essence the apparent cover-up operation for another possible set of crimes against national and international law. Why would I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby commit perjury and lie to FBI agents, as he is accused of doing?

The letters from Acting Attorney General James B. Comey appointing Mr. Fitzgerald delegated to him "all the authority of the attorney general" to investigate and prosecute "violations of any federal criminal laws related to the underlying alleged unauthorized disclosure."

We would argue that Mr. Comey's charge, based on the evidence Mr. Fitzgerald has uncovered, authorizes the special prosecutor to investigate the following:

Did top Bush administration officials deceive Congress? Several federal statutes make it a crime to lie to Congress. As Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York recently put it, "If, as mounting evidence is tending to show, administration officials deliberately deceived Congress and the American people, this would constitute a criminal conspiracy against the entire country."

Did top administration officials violate the U.S. Anti-Torture Act? The law makes torture and conspiracy to commit torture a crime. The former commander at Abu Ghraib prison, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, has stated that abusive techniques were "delivered with full authority and knowledge of the secretary of defense and probably [Vice President Dick] Cheney."

Did top administration officials violate the War Crimes Act? Passed by a Republican Congress in 1996, the law makes it a federal crime for any U.S. national to commit a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions.

In a 2002 memo, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, who was then White House counsel, urged that the United States "opt out" of the Geneva Conventions for the Afghan war on the grounds that opting out "substantially reduces the likelihood of prosecution under the War Crimes Act."

What was he worrying about? Did the special prosecutor find evidence that top Bush administration officials ordered or condoned the string of Geneva Conventions violations that run from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo Bay and from the leveling of Fallujah to attacks on medical facilities?

Did top administration officials violate the War Powers Act? The law requires the president to present to Congress the basis for proposed U.S. military action. If the administration provided false information, is it guilty of violating the War Powers Act and, in effect, usurping the war powers given to Congress under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution?

Did top administration officials violate the U.N. Charter? U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said the U.S. attack on Iraq was "illegal." The conduct of the war has involved many breaches of internationally guaranteed protections of civilians. Did the special prosecutor find evidence of deliberate violation of U.S. treaty obligations, which under Article VI of the Constitution are the law of the land?

If the special prosecutor found evidence of violation of "any criminal laws," he is obliged to investigate and prosecute. Where the abuses he finds are not covered by existing federal law, they must be addressed by Congress, either by new laws or through the impeachment process.

The Bush administration's alleged abuses of national and international law are closely linked. The Valerie Plame affair was not just a random incident, but rather an effort to silence critics attempting to halt an aggressive war whose initiation and conduct appear to have violated both national and international law. Indeed, aggressive war, illegal conduct of war and torture are nothing less than war crimes.

Investigation and, if warranted, prosecution of such crimes is crucial for the revitalization of democratic government in our country. To let such flagrant flouting of the rule of law go unpunished would be to invite government officials to subvert our Constitution again.

Repudiating war crimes committed by high U.S. officials is also an essential starting point for repairing the damage done to our country's international relationships and reputation. There is no way to take the taint off our country for the abuses symbolized by Abu Ghraib without holding those responsible for them accountable.

Brendan Smith, a legal scholar, and Jeremy Brecher, a historian, are editors of In the Name of Democracy: American War Crimes in Iraq and Beyond. Mr. Smith's e-mail address is smithb@lawnet.ucla.edu, and Mr. Brecher's e-mail address is
jbrecher@igc.org.
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source: Prosecutor Should Dig Deeper
Copyright © 2005, The Baltimore Sun


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Stop Oil Company Price Gouging

Published on Saturday, October 29, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
Stop Oil Company Price Gouging
by Congressman Bernie Sanders

Record-breaking fuel costs across the country are forcing millions of Americans to wonder how they will have enough money to heat their homes this winter or fill up their gas tanks to get to work in the morning. The Bush Administration is quick to claim that they are working to lower skyrocketing fuel prices but staggering profits by Big Oil have long made it clear that these price increases are the direct result of oil company greed, market manipulation, and an Administration content to let Big Oil pillage consumers at the pump.

The recent announcement that Exxon Mobil has earned the largest quarterly profit in the history of our nation makes it clear just how this bad oil company price gouging has become. Reports show that Exxon Mobil brought in a 3rd quarter profit of nearly $10 billion. This is the largest corporate quarterly profit ever, and more than $4 billion dollars more than the company brought in during the 3rd quarter of last year.

To put this in perspective, this means that Exxon Mobil hauled in more profits in three months than corporate behemoths Coca-Cola Co., Intel Corp. and Time Warner Inc. earn in an entire year.

And Exxon Mobil is not alone. ConocoPhillips Co. 3rd quarter profits increased by 89% from last year's level. Royal Dutch Shell's profits increased by 68%; and Marathon Oil's profits more than tripled. In fact, all of the major oil companies experienced record-breaking profits, bringing in an estimated $28 billion more in profits this year as compared to 2004.

These staggering profit margins come at a time when consumers are faced with overwhelming price increases for gas and home heating oil. The average price of a gallon of gasoline at the pump is more than $1 higher than it was just two years ago. The price increases for home heating fuel is equally daunting. The Department of Energy is currently predicting that prices for winter fuel oil, propane and natural gas will be 218% higher this year than they were in 2001.

These record-breaking prices are having a devastating impact on millions of Americans who are struggling to make ends meet. Senior citizens and lower income individuals will go cold this winter and workers-especially those in rural areas like my state of Vermont-will lose a significant part of their pay checks if we do not stop this price gouging by Big Oil. And it's not just consumers that are affected. The high price of fuel is also hurting the trucking industry, aviation, small businesses, dairy farmers, tourism and, in fact, the entire American economy.

For many of us who have been demanding Congressional action to reign in skyrocketing gas prices, this clear evidence of price gouging by big oil comes as no surprise. In July Rep. Peter DeFazio and I introduced legislation that would stop major oil companies from making huge windfall profits on the backs of consumers, and provide long term solutions moving us away from fossil fuel and toward sustainable energy.

Instead of adopting these pro-consumer, pro-environment solutions, the House Republican leadership has passed not one but two energy bills that do nothing to lower prices at the pump, are anti-environment, and give billions in corporate welfare to the same oil companies that are bringing in record-breaking profits.

The time is long overdue for Congress to take real action that will lower prices at the pump and move us toward sustainable energy. The Republican leadership must rescind the tax breaks and subsidies recently given to Big Oil and bring the CEOs of the major oil companies before Congress to investigate their pricing practices. The leadership must also stop blocking attempts to enact real energy reform legislation that will control oil prices and stop Big Oil from picking the pockets of American consumers. If the Republican leadership refuses to take on Big Oil to stop their price gouging, they will have the American people to answer to.

Bernie Sanders represents Vermont as an at-large member of the House of Representatives, where he has served since 1991.

source: Stop Oil Company Price Gouging


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Patrick Fitzgerald: It's Not Over

Published on Saturday, October 29, 2005 by The Nation
Patrick Fitzgerald: It's Not Over
by John Nichols

The most intriguing news with regard to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation of the apparent effort by the Bush-Cheney administration to punish former Ambassador Joe Wilson for revealing how the White House deceived the American people about the threat posed by Iraq is not the indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff.

Make no mistake, it is exceptionally significant that Cheney's closest aide and political confidante over the past two decades, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, has been charged with two counts of making false statements to federal agents, two counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice for misleading and deceiving the grand jury about how he learned that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was a Central Intelligence Agency operative.

Of course, it matters that Fitzgerald's office says Libby lied "about how and when in 2003 he learned and subsequently disclosed to reporters then-classified information concerning the employment of Valerie (Plame) by the Central Intelligence Agency." Of course it matters that, in response to these indictments, one of the most powerful players in Washington -- the right-hand man of the vice president, a pioneering champion of the neo-conservative worldview and a principal architect of the war with Iraq -- has resigned from his positions with the administration.

But what matters most are the questions that the Libby indictment has raised with regard to Cheney's actions?

Let's be clear: If the Libby indictment and resignation is all that comes of Fitzgerald's two-year-long investigation into a case that touches on fundamental questions of government accountability, abuse of power and the dubious "case" that was made for going to war in Iraq, then this whole matter will be no more that a footnote to the sorry history of the Bush-Cheney era.

But Libby indictment is not necessarily all that will come of this investigation.

As Fitzgerald said during his press conference Friday, "It's not over."

Fitzgerald was extremely cautious about what he meant by that statement. But he did confirm that he will be keeping the "(grand) jury open to consider other matters."

———

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Patrick Fitzgerald: It's Not Over


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mcall.com: Army secret surfaces: Deadly chemicals at sea

Millions of pounds of unused weapons of mass destruction were dumped in oceans before Congress banned the practice in 1972. The threat is still out there, and may be growing.
By John Bull
Special to The Morning Call

October 30, 2005

First of a two-day series

A clam dredging operation off the coast of Atlantic City, N.J., in 2004 pulled up an old artillery shell.

The long-submerged, World War I-era explosive was filled with a black, tar-like substance.

Bomb disposal technicians from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware were brought in to dismantle it. Three of them were injured, one hospitalized with large, pus-filled blisters on his arm and hand.

The shell was filled with mustard gas in solid form.

What was long-feared by the few military officials in the know had come to pass: Chemical weapons that the Army dumped at sea decades ago had finally ended up on shore in the United States.

While it has long been known that some chemical weapons went into the ocean, records obtained by the Daily Press of Newport News, Va., show that the previously classified weapons-dumping program was far more extensive than has ever been suspected.

The Army now admits in reports never before released that it secretly dumped 64 million pounds of nerve and mustard gas agent into the sea, along with 400,000 chemical-filled bombs, land mines and rockets and more than 500 tons of radioactive waste either tossed overboard or packed into the holds of scuttled vessels.

A Daily Press investigation also found:

These weapons of mass destruction virtually ring the country, concealed off the coasts of at least 11 states: six on the East Coast, including New Jersey and Maryland, two on the Gulf Coast, and in California, Hawaii and Alaska. Few, if any, state officials have been informed of their existence.

The chemical agents could pose a hazard for generations. The Army has examined only a few of its 26 dump zones, and none in 30 years.

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mcall.com: Army secret surfaces: Deadly chemicals at sea


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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Mark A. R. Kleiman: Why shareholder value maximization cannot be a complete business ethic.

Geez…a conservative who ‘gets it’. Who’da thunk it. —pseudolus

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Mark A.R.Kleiman:

I distinctly remember the astonished outrage I felt, on first reading Capitalism and Freedom as a teenager, at Milton Friedman's calm assertion that corporate executives' duty to maximize returns for their shareholders ought properly to trump any personal ethical concerns they might feel about actions that didn't actually break the law.

Tyler Cowen reminds us that Friedman still believes that. Professor Bainbridge points out that Friedman's doctrine, which I thought and still think obscenely absurd, is an accurate statement of the legal duties of a fiduciary.

Friedman's argument is simply that corporate leaders are playing with (mostly) other people's money. Failing to maximize profits out of private moral concerns is like giving that money away. If corporate officers want to be charitable, says Friedman, let them do it out of their own bank accounts, not their shareholders'. After all, a truste who made a charitable contribution out of a trust account would be justly criticized for that. How is a corporate officer -- a trustee of the shareholders' money -- any different? Since profit maximization points companies toward the socially most efficient uses of resources, says Friedman, maximizing profits is precisely the social responsibility of the corporation.

The problem with this argument, it seems to me, is that it proves much, much too much. For one thing, it must apply to omissions as well as acts. So by this standard a corporate officer must have an affirmative duty to seek out ROI-maximizing opportunities, no matter how morally disgusting, as long as they are not not actually illegal. (That would include, of course, establishing, as necessary, subsidiaries in countries where the terrible activity isn't illegal, and using lobbying and campaign contributions to change the laws, if feasible.)

By this standard, engaging in the slave trade, back when it was legal, would have been not merely permissible but required. So would working children to death in mines and mills, or inventing and marketing any dangerous and addictive drug that wasn't (yet) illegal. So would financing munitions plants for the Nazis during the 1930s, or helping the Soviet Union during the Cold War, or Iraq in 2001, or Iran or North Korea today, as long as it managed to skirt actual illegality.

And of course, corporate executives would also have had, and continue to have, a fiduciary duty to lobby to keep any currently legal and profitable activity legal: so shipping companies would have had a fiduciary duty to oppose the abolition of the slave trade in 1808 and companies doing business with the Axis the same duty to oppose the Trading with the Enemy Act in 1941.

"When the time comes to hang all the capitalists," said Lenin, "the capitalists will compete to sell us the rope." Friedman would add, "As well they should." And Bainbridge would add to that, "The law of fiduciary duty requires no less."

Can you say reductio ad absurdum? I was sure you could.

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Mark A. R. Kleiman: Why shareholder value maximization cannot be a complete business ethic.


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Did you ever wonder what 2000 looks like?

WANKER Of THE WEEK: -- Ben Stein: It's the Democrats' Fault

Host Neil Cavuto did manage to point out that the prosecutor in the case, Patrick Fitzgerald, is a Republican. But Stein responded, "They always choose a Republican to indict Republicans."

—-

Uh, Ben? Bush himself appointed Fitzgerald, how do the Democrats come into it?

These frickin’ guys will say anything to demonize the Democrats.

— pseudolus

—————

read the whole sorry thing…

News Hounds: Ben Stein: It's the Democrats' Fault


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