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, January 14, 2006

Max Blumenthal: Alito's Pro-Internment Witness: "You Can Forget About Civil Rights"

The Huffington Post

If there's another terror attack on American soil, you can forget about civil rights. That's according to Peter Kirsanow, who will testify to Samuel Alito's civil rights credentials before the Senate Judiciary Committee today. Kirsanow is a conservative African-American member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and recent backdoor Bush appointee to the National Labor Relations Board.
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Cronies, chums and Bush surrogates get government posts

Bill Berkowitz
January 10, 2006

Peter Kirsanow, a Black conservative lawyer who represents management in disputes with labor, was handed a recess appointment to the National Labor Relations Board
 
On Wednesday, January 4, while the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal continued to unwind, sending
shockwaves through the nation's capital, the Bush Administration announced a handful of recess appointments. Included on the list of appointees -- who do not have to face confirmation by the Senate -- was a host of Bush cronies who don't appear ready for primetime.
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TIME.com:-- Never a Texas Two-Step

Sunday, Jan. 08, 2006
By MATTHEW COOPER, MIKE ALLEN
 
When legal and ethical questions began spinning around House majority leader Tom DeLay last year, President George W. Bush was publicly supportive. Privately, though, he questioned his fellow Texan's mojo. Bush had scored 10 points higher than DeLay in the Representative's district in 2004, and that was only after Bush had recorded a telephone message to help rally local Republicans. "I can't believe I had to do robocalls for him," the President said bitingly to an Oval Office visitor.
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Friday, January 13, 2006

US Army its own worst enemy: British officer - World - smh.com.au

January 12, 2006
 
Way to go ? George Bush outlines plans to hand control to Iraqis.
A senior British Army officer has written a scathing critique of the US Army and its performance in Iraq, accusing it of cultural ignorance, moralistic self-righteousness, unproductive micromanagement and unwarranted optimism.
 
His publisher: the US Army.
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The Impeachment of George W. Bush

Published on Thursday, January 12, 2006 by The Nation 
by Elizabeth Holtzman
 
Finally, it has started. People have begun to speak of impeaching President George W. Bush - not in hushed whispers but openly, in newspapers, on the Internet, in ordinary conversations and even in Congress. As a former member of Congress who sat on the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon, I believe they are right to do so.
 
I can still remember the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach during those proceedings, when it became clear that the President had so systematically abused the powers of the presidency and so threatened the rule of law that he had to be removed from office. As a Democrat who opposed many of President Nixon's policies, I still found voting for his impeachment to be one of the most sobering and unpleasant tasks I ever had to undertake. None of the members of the committee took pleasure in voting for impeachment; after all, Democrat or Republican, Nixon was still our President.
 
At the time, I hoped that our committee's work would send a strong signal to future Presidents that they had to obey the rule of law. I was wrong.
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Command Responsibility?

Published on Thursday, January 12, 2006 by CommonDreams.org
by Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith 
  
A jury verdict in Memphis late last year caused little stir among the general public, but it may have caught the attention of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and other high officials of the Bush administration. The jury found Colonel Nicolas Carranza, former Vice Minister of Defense of El Salvador and now a U.S. citizen living in Memphis, responsible for overseeing the torture and killing in that country 25 years ago (1). Could similar charges be brought against high U.S. officials for the actions of their subordinates in Abu Ghraib, Falluja, and Guantanamo?
 
Carranza was sued by victims of armed forces under his control. The jury applied the principle of ?command responsibility,? which holds a superior legally responsible for human rights abuses by subordinates if the official knew or should have known about them and failed to prevent them or punish those who committed them.
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CJR Daily: New York Times Covers Chrysler Corporation - With Praise and Love

Gal Beckerman
 
Granted, it sounded pretty cool. The new Jeep Wrangler, on display for the first time at the Detroit auto show, suddenly drives off the stage, through the convention center, and smashes through a plate-glass window. It speeds down the street and then up a fake white mountain, finally coming to a stop as Chrysler's chief executive, Thomas W. LaSorda, jumps out of the passenger side and triumphantly pumps his fists in the air, Rocky-like.
 

It's an interesting little anecdote, and might have made a nice lede for a longer article providing additional information about the obscene lengths to which car companies go to secure publicity, along with some best-guesses as to whether that publicity is actually translating into sales.
 

But you won't find any such article in the New York Times. For that paper, the anecdote is the story -- a prominently placed 1,400-word feature, no less. Read this breathless and slightly fawning account and you will understand why fewer corporations believe it is necessary to advertise in daily newspapers. Why pay when you can get it for free?
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You're Being Watched: Efforts to Collect Data on Americans Go Far Beyond the NSA's Domestic Spying Program

Published on Thursday, January 12, 2006 by the Los Angeles Times
by Laura K. Donohue
 
Congress will soon hold hearings on the National Security Agency's domestic spying program, secretly authorized by President Bush in 2002. But that program is just the tip of the iceberg.
 
Since 9/11, the expansion of efforts to gather and analyze information on U.S. citizens is nothing short of staggering. The government collects vast troves of data, including consumer credit histories and medical and travel records. Databases track Americans' networks of friends, family and associates, not just to identify who is a terrorist but to try to predict who might become one.
 
Remember Total Information Awareness, retired Adm. John Poindexter's effort to harness all government and commercial databases to preempt national security threats? The idea was that disparate, seemingly mundane behaviors can reveal criminal intent when viewed together. More disturbing, it assumed that deviance from social norms can be an early indicator of terrorism. Congress killed that program in 2003, but according to the Associated Press, many related projects continued.
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Honors for My Lai Hero Came Much Too Late

Published on Thursday, January 12, 2006 by the Madison Capital Times (Wisconsin)
by Mike Boehm
 
Lost among the headlines about Iraq and secret detentions was the story of the death last week of a hero and a patriot: Hugh Thompson.
 
In 1998, Thompson was awarded the Soldier's Medal, for heroism not involving conflict with an enemy, for his actions to save civilians in My Lai, Vietnam, on March 16, 1968. Thompson died of cancer Friday morning in Alexandria, La., at the age of 62.
 
Reading the press coverage of the presentation of the Soldier's Medal to Army pilot Thompson and his two helicopter crewmen, Larry Colburn and Glenn Andreotta, could leave the impression that the award was the culmination of a natural and just process.
 
These three heroes, led by Thompson, rescued 10 Vietnamese villagers who were about to be killed by American soldiers, and they were responsible for stopping the My Lai massacre, led by Lt. William Calley Jr.
 
It took 30 years for Thompson to receive proper recognition for his actions that day, 30 years before it became safe to honor him for standing up to fellow American soldiers.
 
Hugh Thompson believed deeply that the military was an honorable profession and that in time of war it was important to behave in an honorable way. He paid a heavy price for his beliefs.
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Stephen Colbert Fights Back About 'Truthiness'

Updated: 07:14 PM EST
Comedian Calls The Associated Press 'Biggest Threat Facing America'
By JAKE COYLE, AP
 
NEW YORK (Jan. 12) - Stung by a recent Associated Press article that didn't credit him for coining the word "truthiness," Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert has struck back.
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Lobbyists' Emergence Reflects Shift in Capital Culture

By Thomas B. Edsall
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 12, 2006; A01

Corporate lobbyists Mark Valente III and Troup Coronado don't have to hang out in the hallways of Capitol Hill, waiting to buttonhole Rep. John M. Shimkus (R-Ill.). Both men have more convenient ways of reaching the lawmaker.
 
Valente is the treasurer of Shimkus's political action committee, the John S Fund. And Coronado, who lobbies for BellSouth, played host at a Dec. 17 fundraiser for Shimkus at MCI Center. Guests made contributions -- $1,000 per person, $1,500 per couple -- to his reelection campaign, and in turn they got to take in a Bon Jovi performance from the BellSouth suite.
 
There is nothing exceptional about Valente's relationship with Shimkus, or Coronado's fundraising party. But they do illustrate the capital's changing mores.
 
Although the excesses of Jack Abramoff have captured the news, a wide range of other practices -- rarely publicized and fully legal -- reflect the steady dismantling of the wall between lobbyists and members of the House and Senate.
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TV talk & Apple QuickTime patch sucks!

Futurama - the animated TV series from Simpsons
creator Matt Groening - may be resurrected two years after the show was
axed by Fox. Reruns on the Cartoon Network and Comedy Central combined
with strong DVD sales have kept the series alive. This interest has
sparked discussions between 20th Century Fox TV and series creators
Groening and David X. Cohen about reviving the show in much the same
way
Family Guy was brought back from the dead, Variety reports.
------
Talks hint at Futurama revival | The Register

Apple Quicktime patch causes problems

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Rapid Disappearance of America's Middle Class

Published on Wednesday, January 11, 2006 by the Seattle Times 
by Floyd J. McKay
Honk if this sounds like you or someone you know.
 
You were born during the Great Depression or World War II. Your father either grew things or made things, your mother was primarily at home.
 
You graduated from high school and went to college. If you graduated, you were the first in your family to do so.
 
You worked for one company or institution much of your life and received a fixed pension, which with Social Security provides a decent if not rich retirement.
 
You have helped care for an elderly parent on Social Security and Medicare.
 
You have also had to help at least one of your adult children because of financial problems brought about by loss of a job or a spouse's job, serious medical expenses, divorce, or a combination of the above.
 
You worry about your children's ability to get and stay ahead in ways your parents never worried about you.
 
There is reason for that concern, according to Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard law professor who has written widely on the financial challenges to middle-class America in our globalized, outsourced and downsized world.
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Nincompoops and Crooks

Published on Wednesday, January 11, 2006 by the Boulder Daily Camera (Colorado)
by Molly Ivins
  
AUSTIN- The governor of Texas is despicable. Of all the crass pandering, of all the gross political kowtowing to ignorance, we haven't seen anything this rank from Gov. Goodhair since, gee, last fall.
 
Then, he was trying to draw attention away from his spectacular failure on public schools by convincing Texans that gay marriage was a horrible threat to us all. Now, he's trying to disguise the fact that the schools are in freefall by proposing we teach creationism in biology classes.
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The Crookedness of Congress is Nearing Exposure

Published on Wednesday, January 11, 2006 by MinutemanMedia.org 
by Donald Kaul
  
A terror stalks the streets of Washington today the like of which has not been seen here since the War of 1812 when the British invaded the city and burned the White House.
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Corporations, The National Security Agency and Their "Customers"

Published on Wednesday, January 11, 2006 by CommonDreams.org 
by Bill Willers
On January 4, the New York Times reported on recently declassified information revealing that, following the 9-11 attack, the National Security Agency (NSA) had acted on its own authority to expand surveillance of citizens inside the U.S. Recent revelations of such governmental spying have generated strong reaction from both Right and Left, and properly so. But there is little attention regarding the private sector and its surveillance of citizens.
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Papa LSD makes the trip to 100 | The Register

Papa LSD makes the trip to 100
Hofmann has legions but no lesions

By Ashlee Vance in Mountain View
Published Wednesday 11th January 2006 18:57 GMT
Heroic comedian Bill Hicks once called for the news media to run a positive story on LSD consumption - a "Boy sees God and humanity's inner-beauty" piece meant to counter the "Boy jumps out of window and splatters" tales. We can come pretty close to achieving this goal by reporting that Albert Hofmann - the discoverer of LSD - has turned 100 today.
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The Guardian | From experimental treatment to artistic inspiration

Ed Vulliamy
Wednesday January 11, 2006
The Guardian

It did not take long for LSD to make the leap from experimental medical treatment to recreational drug. By the late 50s, the term psychedelic had been coined by the psychiatrist Humphry Osmond. He teamed up with Aldous Huxley and Al Hubbard, who ordered 43 cases of LSD from its maker, the pharmaceutical company Sandoz. They toured the US and Canada, preaching a way to the "other world" they found as their consciousnesses dissolved into kaleidoscopic visions.
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Wall Street Bonuses to Hit Record $21.5 Billion in 2005 - New York Times

January 11, 2006
Wall Street Bonuses to Hit Record $21.5 Billion in 2005
By REUTERS
 
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wall Street bonuses are expected to have hit a record $21.5 billion in 2005 from $18.6 billion in 2004 as investment banks reaped record earnings, New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi said Wednesday.
 
Last year's bonuses beat the record of $19.5 billion set in 2000 at the peak of the equities boom, Hevesi said during a conference call with reporters.
 
Booming merger and underwriting activity, as well as a stock market rebound, helped revenues rise by almost 50 percent in the first three quarters of last year.
 
"2000 was the peak of the greatest boom in our modern history. It was a remarkable time, so this is very good news," Hevesi said.
 
Wall Street is the prime engine of growth for both New York City and New York State, so the profitability of the financial sector is key for the area's economy.
 
New York's financial sector employs about 174,000 people, according to Hevesi's estimates.
 
Hevesi said the average bonus in 2005 was $125,500 -- or $25,000 more than in 2000.
 
Bonuses make up the bulk of Wall Street compensation and can be more than 10 times the base salary for top producers.
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China: Capitalism Doesn't Require Democracy

Published on Tuesday, January 10, 2006 by CommonDreams.org 
by Robert B. Reich 
  
You may remember when the world was divided between communism and capitalism, and when the Chinese were communists. The Chinese still call themselves communists, but now they?re also capitalists.
 
In fact, visit China today and you find the most dynamic capitalist nation in the world. In 2005, it had the distinction of being the world?s fastest-growing major economy.
 
China is the manufacturing hub of the globe. It?s is also moving quickly into the highest of high technologies. It already graduates more computer engineers every year than the United States.
 
Its cities are booming. There are more building cranes in use today in China than in all of the United States. China?s super-highways are filled with modern cars. Its deep-water ports and airports are world class. Its research and development centers are state of the art. At the rate its growing, in three decades China will be the largest economy in the world.
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More Companies Ending Promises for Retirement

Published on Monday, January 9, 2006 by the New York Times
by Mary Williams Walsh
The death knell for the traditional company pension has been tolling for some time now. Companies in ailing industries like steel, airlines and auto parts have thrown themselves into bankruptcy and turned over their ruined pension plans to the federal government.
 
Now, with the recent announcements of pension freezes by some of the cream of corporate America - Verizon, Lockheed Martin, Motorola and, just last week, I.B.M. - the bell is tolling even louder. Even strong, stable companies with the means to operate a pension plan are facing longer worker lifespans, looming regulatory and accounting changes and, most important, heightened global competition. Some are deciding they either cannot, or will not, keep making the decades-long promises that a pension plan involves.
 
With Verizon, we're talking about a company at the top of its game. They have a huge profit. Their CEO has given himself a huge compensation package. And then they're saying, 'In order to compete, sorry, we have to freeze the pensions.' If companies freeze the pensions, what are employees left with?
 
Karen Friedman, director of policy studies, Pension Rights Center
I.B.M. was once a standard-bearer for corporate America's compact with its workers, paying for medical expenses, country clubs and lavish Christmas parties for the children. It also rewarded long-serving employees with a guaranteed monthly stipend from retirement until death.
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Better batteries fuel fuel cell speculation

The real, the unreal, and the absolutely unreal

By Doug Mohney: Monday 09 January 2006, 08:37
PANASONIC and Jadoo have taken new spins on the quest for power, specifically portable device power.
 
Panasonic is going to start shipping their new and improved Oxyride Extreme Power batteries to the States and other non-Japanese locations in Spring 2006. The disposable AA-size batteries use a nickel oxyhydroxide (NiOOH) chemistry instead of the traditional alkaline batteries to get a better performance boost.
 
The new batters deliver twenty-two percent more juice than the first generation Oxyride batteries, translating up to three times as many digital pictures (187) when compared to an Energizer Max battery (59) according to the independent ANSI lab testing.
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Losing the War on Terrorism

Published on Monday, January 9, 2006 by TomDispatch.com
by Michael T. Klare
  
President Bush has lost the support of most Americans when it comes to the economy, the environment, and the war in Iraq, but he continues to enjoy majority support in one key area: his handling of the war on terrorism. Indeed, many analysts believe that Bush won the 2004 election largely because swing voters concluded that he would do a better job at this than John Kerry. In fact, with his overall opinion-poll approval ratings so low, Bush's purported proficiency in fighting terror represents something close to his last claim to public legitimacy. But has he truly been effective in combating terror? As the war on terrorism drags on -- with no signs of victory in sight -- there are good reasons to doubt his competency at this, the most critical of all his presidential responsibilities.
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Time is Now to Take Back Your Time

Published on Monday, January 9, 2006 by CommonDreams 
by Ralph Nader
 
A small conference was held on January 6th in Washington, DC about a big concern for tens of millions of American workers - the loss of free time due to the omnivorous demands of their workplace obligations. The gathering, which met to press for public policies which will give workers a better work/life balance, was organized by John de Graaf and Gretchen Burger. They direct a group called Take Back Your Time (degrj@kcts.org).
 
De Graaf has just edited an action book called "Take Back Your Time: Fighting Overwork and Time Poverty in America." Thirty national leaders in this little publicized movement contributed chapters describing the many harmful results to families, health, safety, civic and community life, environment and just plain yearnings for living a higher quality of life.
 
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What Year Is This Anyway?: Rollback to 1214 AD

Published on Friday, January 6, 2006 by TomDispatch.com
by Nick Turse

What might happen to an "often cruel and treacherous" national leader who "ignored and contravened the traditional" norms at home and waged "expensive wars abroad [that] were unsuccessful"?
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A Reinstated Military Draft? Advice From An Old Man

Published on Monday, January 9, 2006 by CommonDreams 
by Doug Soderstrom
Due to a craze of events around the world, the United States may find it necessary to reinstate the draft; that is, the U.S. government might be forced into telling our nation?s youth that they have no choice but to honor the call of Uncle Sam, don a military uniform, and go to war.
 
The precipitating factor for such an emergency will likely be that of a joint venture between Israel and the United States, a coordinated military attack upon Iran sometime around late spring or early summer of 2006. Iran has apparently decided to do whatever it must in order to develop its nuclear facilities. On the other hand, Israel and the United States have made it clear that they will not allow Iran to do such a thing. Short of a miracle there seems to be no way out, no way to avoid such a clash.
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Starbucks Economics

- Solving the mystery of the elusive "short" cappuccino.

By Tim Harford
Posted Friday, Jan. 6, 2006, at 6:28 AM ET
 
Download the MP3 audio version of this story here, or sign up for Slate's free daily podcast on iTunes.
 
Here's a little secret that Starbucks doesn't want you to know: They will serve you a better, stronger cappuccino if you want one, and they will charge you less for it. Ask for it in any Starbucks and the barista will comply without batting an eye. The puzzle is to work out why.
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Scientists moot gravity-busting hyperdrive | The Register

YEEE_HAAAWW !!  Mars in three hours - theoretically...
By Lester Haines
Published Friday 6th January 2006 15:03 GMT 
 
The US military is considering testing the principle behind a type of space drive which holds the promise of reaching Mars in just three hours. The problem is, as New Scientist explains, it's entirely theoretical and many physicists admit they don't understand the science behind it.
 
Nonetheless, the so-called "hyperdrive" concept won last year's American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics award for the best nuclear and future flight paper. Among its defenders is aerospace engineer Pavlos Mikellides, from the Arizona State University in Tempe. Mikellides, who reviewed the winning paper, said: "Even though such features have been explored before, this particular approach is quite unique."
 
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Fw: Starbucks Economics

 
- Solving the mystery of the elusive "short" cappuccino.
By Tim Harford
Posted Friday, Jan. 6, 2006, at 6:28 AM ET
 
Download the MP3 audio version of this story here, or sign up for Slate's free daily podcast on iTunes.

Here's a little secret that Starbucks doesn't want you to know: They will serve you a better, stronger cappuccino if you want one, and they will charge you less for it. Ask for it in any Starbucks and the barista will comply without batting an eye. The puzzle is to work out why.
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Fw: How Much Security Can I Get for These Inalienable Rights?

Published on Saturday, January 7, 2006 by CommonDreams.org
by Timothy C. Leslie

  
In the first days and weeks after September 11, 2001, politicians throughout the land could be heard uttering some variation on the following theme: If we change our American way of life, the terrorists will have won.
 
These statements frequently were intended to prod U.S. citizens to continue traveling, shopping, and recreating as they had before the al-Qaida attacks. But the deeper message was clear: It was going to take more than 19 suicide-bent hijackers aboard four airliners to convince the proud inhabitants of the land of the free and the home of the brave to give up even one of their hard-fought freedoms.
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Prepare for Bubbles

"...That's why most Americans are not as pleased with the economy as Wall Street has been lately. And our 5 percent unemployment rate, which looks relatively good at first glance, is misleading. If we look at the employment rate, instead, we find that it is about 1.7 percentage points lower than it was in 2000. This corresponds to about 3.4 million fewer jobs, because people have quit the labor force. If these missing jobs were counted in the unemployment rate, it would be more than 7 percent."
 
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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

What Numbers Aren't Saying About the Economy Most Live In

Published on Tuesday, January 10, 2006 by the Daytona Beach News-Journal (Florida)
by Pierre Tristam
  
The disclaimer appears ahead of most movies formatted for television: "This film has been edited for content and modified from its original version to fit your TV." A similar disclaimer should apply to the Bush administration infomercials drugging up newscasts about the economy. In black and white, the recent surge of statistical exuberance looks good indeed. Four million jobs created in the past two years. Unemployment below 5 percent. Inflation relatively in check. Still cheap interest rates. Economic growth between 3 percent and 4 percent, better than every Western economy but Denmark's. "It's getting pretty hard for the critics to make the case that the tax cuts weren't good for the economy," Vice President Dick Cheney told workers at a Harley-Davidson plant in Kansas City last week. Actually, it's never been easier to show why the tax cuts were closer to the worst thing for the economy, if it's ordinary Americans' well-being you're worried about (as opposed to shareholder comforts).
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The Real Scandal: Our Big Money Political System

Published on Tuesday, January 10, 2006 by CommonDreams.org
by Nick Nyhart
 
With the news of Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleading guilty to charges of fraud, conspiracy, and tax evasion, officials in Washington are running scared. No wonder: in copping the plea, Abramoff has agreed to cooperate with the feds on a far-reaching investigation that could touch as many as 60 lawmakers and aides, according to some news reports. The exposure of our elected officials trading political favors for campaign cash won?t be a pretty sight. But as the web of Abramoff?s influence is revealed, we are virtually guaranteed that many lawmakers will try to ignore the broader scandal: our pay-to-play political system which is at the heart of the Abramoff convictions.
 
Abramoff is a confirmed crook. He took massive kickbacks, created sham charities, and directed millions in campaign contributions while lavishing trips and meals and gifts on Washington lawmakers with the expectation of legislative paybacks and favors. But what Abramoff did in his relations with politicians is no different than what thousands of Washington lobbyists do all the time, except perhaps in the magnitude of his reach.
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Enough of His Excuses: Blair Must Be Impeached Over Iraq

Published on Tuesday, January 10, 2006 by the Guardian/UK
The only way Parliament can regain the trust of disaffected voters is to admit that it was wrong to support the war
by Michael Rose
  
Wars are won when the people, government and army work together for a common cause in which they genuinely believe. Whereas the people may be initially uncertain about military intervention, politicians will often be the strongest advocates - blinded by the imperatives of their political views. It will invariably be military commanders who are most cautious about using force - for they understand better than most the consequences of engaging in war.
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An Imperial Presidency Based on Constitutional Quicksand

Published on Tuesday, January 10, 2006 by CommonDreams.org 
by Ivan Eland
  
After revelations about President Bush ordering surveillance of Americans without obtaining warrants, the boundaries of executive power will undoubtedly be one of the principal issues raised at the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. The conservative Alito has publicly endorsed the theory of the unitary executive, which takes a broad view of presidential authority. Alito?s liberal critics say his record has been too obsequious to expanded executive power.
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AlterNet: 2006: The Year of Oil Collapse?

By James Howard Kunstler, Kunstler.com. Posted January 11, 2006.
 
This could be the year that the hardships and difficulties I lump together as the 'long emergency' get some serious traction. 

 
Editor's note: This is one of three perspectives AlterNet has assembled on the prospect of peak oil and its implications for modern society and the global economy. The other two are from World Watch: Christopher Flavin writes that while we can't know exactly when oil production will start declining, we must focus on alternatives to petroleum now; and Robert K. Kaufman describes the role the market and government should play in helping to make the transition from a petroleum-dependent society.
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HaloScan.com - Comments

overheard over on eschaton commentland [slightly off topic]:
 
-------
"Anyone hear Evan Thomas on Imus today?
 
Salient points:
- DeLay is a "victim" of the system;
- The public doesn't really care about corruption in Congress, because they think it's worse than it actually is;
- The U.S. is not as corrupt as other nations;
- The real story here is that the Corporations who paid lobbyists got screwed when those lobbyists failed to deliver the goods.
 
I swear to thee, I shit not thee.
In Vino Veritas | Email | Homepage | 01.09.06 - 11:31 am | #
 
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 source >

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Bush Using a Little-Noticed Strategy to Alter the Balance of Power

Published on Saturday, January 7, 2006 by Knight Ridder 
by Ron Hutcheson and James Kuhnhenn

  
 
WASHINGTON - President Bush agreed with great fanfare last month to accept a ban on torture, but he later quietly reserved the right to ignore it, even as he signed it into law.
 
Acting from the seclusion of his Texas ranch at the start of New Year's weekend, Bush said he would interpret the new law in keeping with his expansive view of presidential power. He did it by issuing a bill-signing statement - a little-noticed device that has become a favorite tool of presidential power in the Bush White House.
 
In fact, Bush has used signing statements to reject, revise or put his spin on more than 500 legislative provisions. Experts say he has been far more aggressive than any previous president in using the statements to claim sweeping executive power - and not just on national security issues.
 
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Fw: What Year Is This Anyway?: Rollback to 1214 AD

 
Published on Friday, January 6, 2006 by TomDispatch.com
by Nick Turse

What might happen to an "often cruel and treacherous" national leader who "ignored and contravened the traditional" norms at home and waged "expensive wars abroad [that] were unsuccessful"?
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The longest yarn: A history of pay to play at right wing think tanks

Bill Berkowitz
January 5, 2006
Revelations that Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff bought op-ed pieces from fellows at right wing think tanks should unleash an investigation into two decades of so-called research paid for by conservative philanthropies
 
"Despite its centrality to political debate, economic research is a very low-budget affair. The entire annual economics budget at the National Science foundation is less than $20 million. What this means is that even a handful of wealthy cranks can support an impressive-looking array of think tanks, research institutes, foundations, and so on devoted to promoting an economic doctrine they like...The economists these institutions can attract are not exactly the best and the brightest...But who needs brilliant, or even competent, researchers when you already know all the answers?" -- Paul Krugman, Slate, August 15, 1996)
 
Several decades ago, when veteran radio news reporter Scoop Nisker closed out his broadcasts by telling his audience that if they didn't like the news they should "go out and make some of your own," little did he imagine that the Bush Administration, and a host of its surrogates, would become masters of that domain.
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WSJ.com - The Numbers Guy - Evaluating Political Pundits

by CARL BIALIK   
January 6, 2006
 
As 2006 approached, pundits performed the annual rite of making predictions for the year ahead. Scripps Howard's prognosticator expects the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq to begin. The Christian Science Monitor published a forecast that North Korea or Iran will acquire nuclear weaponry. On Fox News, Bill Kristol predicted another Supreme Court vacancy, while Brit Hume's crystal ball saw an acquittal for Lewis "Scooter" Libby. (The Wall Street Journal's New Year's Eve look-ahead to 2006 couched most of its political forecasts with the word "likely.")
 
Such predictions are good fun. But in general, the prognostications of political pundits are about as accurate as a chimp throwing darts. At least that's the finding of "Expert Political Judgment," a new book by University of California, Berkeley, political psychologist Philip Tetlock. From 1987 to 2003, Prof. Tetlock coaxed 284 political experts of all stripes -- academics, journalists and think-tankers from across the political spectrum -- to make specific, verifiable forecasts. He looked at more than 27,000 predictions in all.
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IRS Violates Longstanding Court Order

Anybody notice a pattern developing here? This admin cherry picks the laws it wants to obey (by subversion or just plain old "bill-signing statements") and creates record numbers of new laws (executive orders) out of thin air whenever it is convenient.--pseudolus
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Agency Has Withheld Tax Enforcement Statistics Since 2004
Withholding Violates 1976 Consent Decree
 
SEATTLE, WA - In violation of a longstanding court order, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has knowingly stopped providing a widely recognized data expert with detailed statistics about how the agency enforces the nation's tax laws, according to a motion filed in the United States district court for the Western District of Washington.
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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Challenging Abramoff's "Artificial Aristocracy"

Published on Monday, January 9, 2006 by CommonDreams.org 
by Thom Hartmann
  
That Jack Abramoff exclusively gave his money to conservative Republicans shouldn't surprise us. While the RNC will try to spin this as "politics" and not as a Republican scandal, much as Bush called his old friend and business associate Ken Lay an "equal opportunity corruptor," the reality is that it's not a corruption that has infected both parties, nor could it be.
 
To understand why, we have to understand the core conservative governing principle - aristocracy.
 
In 1760, the conservatives in North America were those who were loyal to the hereditary aristocracy of the British Crown. By the 1780s, as the Constitution was being written, the royalists had left the country for Canada or the UK and the remaining conservatives had shifted their advocacy of aristocracy from one based on genetics to one based on wealth.
 
The liberals who dominated the Founders and Framers of this nation, however, disagreed. They thought that if there should be any sort of an "aristoi" it should be based on merit, and change from generation to generation.
 
John Adams was among those who believed in an aristocracy based on wealth and privilege. His concern was that if "the rabble" were allowed to completely govern the country, they would vote themselves all the wealth in the nation, reduce it to bankruptcy, and collapse the American Experiment. In support of his viewpoint, he often quoted the essentially anti-democracy Greeks like Plato and Aristotle. The conservatives represented by Adams have, since the founding of this nation, argued for an "artificial aristocracy" based on wealth.
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Will Jackgate Destroy the GOP?

Published on Monday, January 9, 2006 by The Nation
by David Corn
  
Is Jack Abramoff the gift that will keep on giving? And will he destroy the Republican Party?
 
It's not a coincidence that Tom DeLay resigned his leadership post--which he was forced to temporarily abdicate once he was indicted in Texas on charges of laundering campaign funds--days after Abramoff, the corrupt-Republican-lobbyist-turned-snitch, cut a deal with the feds that will require him to tell all. That certainly will entail sharing whatever he knows about his intimate relationship with DeLay and DeLay's closest political associates, as well as what he knows about other GOP lawmakers, staffers and high-powered Republican operatives (such as Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist). News reports have already said that up to twenty lawmakers and aides are already in the crosshairs of federal prosecutors thanks to Abramoff and Michael Scanlon, his former partner in sleaze, who also has been cooperating with the feds.
 
With nervous Republicans angling to toss DeLay overboard, the indicted ex-House majority leader had not much choice but to jump before being unceremoniously shoved aside. But GOPers still have reason for fear for at least two reasons:
1. The Abramoff inquiry is big.
 
2. As big as the Abramoff probe is, it could extend far beyond the corrupt dealings of Jack Abramoff and his pals on Capitol HIll and K Street.
 
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t r u t h o u t - Jason Leopold: Fitzgerald Maintains Focus on Rove

    By Jason Leopold
    t r u t h o u t | Investigative Report
 
    Tuesday 10 January 2006
 
    Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is said to have spent the past month preparing evidence he will present to a grand jury alleging that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove knowingly made false statements to FBI and Justice Department investigators and lied under oath while he was being questioned about his role in the leak of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity more than two years ago, according to sources knowledgeable about the probe.
 
    Although there have not been rumblings regarding Fitzgerald's probe into the Plame leak since he met with the grand jury hearing evidence in the case more than a month ago, the sources said that Fitzgerald has been quietly building his case against Rove and has been interviewing witnesses, in some cases for the second and third time, who have provided him with information related to Rove's role in the leak. It is unclear when Fitzgerald is expected to meet with the grand jury again.
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_Alien Loves Predator_ in "Speed Dating"

 


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Monday, January 09, 2006

The Pimping of the President,

Jack Abramoff and Grover Norquist Billing Clients for Face Time with G.W. Bush
 
BY LOU DUBOSE
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Alito and the Limits of Presidential Power

Published on Saturday, January 7, 2006 by CommonDreams.org
by Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith
  
The Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Samuel Alito represent the first major battle in an emerging constitutional war over the authority of the President. Revelations that President Bush authorized the National Security Agency to spy on US citizens without court approval have shifted the focus of the hearings from domestic social issues to what distinguished University of Texas law professor Sanford Levinson describes as "the major issue before the Court, and the nation, both now and in the foreseeable future.... [Namely] the ability to stave off ever more aggressive assertions of executive power uncheckable by either Congress or the judiciary."
 
Both Senate Judiciary Committee chair Arlen Specter and ranking Democrat Patrick Leahy warned Alito they will question him about executive powers. Leahy recently told the Baltimore Sun that many votes in the Senate will be influenced by "how directly Alito answers questions about the NSA program and presidential powers."
 
Alito will certainly be asked about a memo he drafted in 1984 as a Justice Department lawyer in which he wrote that an Attorney General who countenanced wiretapping without a warrant should have "absolute immunity" against suits from the victims. His position is even more disturbing because it involved surveillance not of foreign terrorists but of American peace activists.
 
Time magazine reported that in 2001 Alito acknowledged that he is a strong proponent of the theory of the "unitary executive" under which all executive branch power is vested in the President--and any incursion on it by Congress should be resisted. This theory has been used by the Bush Administration to justify various extralegal activities, including the infamous torture memos. In Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Justice Clarence Thomas used the "unitary executive" theory to argue that the Supreme Court's restrictions on the President's unilateral power to lock up US citizens constituted "judicial interference"--a view rejected by the Court's majority.
 
If we are in a war to preserve the Constitution from executive usurpation, the opening salvos will be the questions the Judiciary Committee puts to Alito. Here are questions in eight key subject areas Samuel Alito should be asked as the hearings unfold:
 
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Fw: Scientists moot gravity-busting hyperdrive | The Register

 
YEEE_HAAAWW !!  Mars in three hours - theoretically...
By Lester Haines
Published Friday 6th January 2006 15:03 GMT 
 
The US military is considering testing the principle behind a type of space drive which holds the promise of reaching Mars in just three hours. The problem is, as New Scientist explains, it's entirely theoretical and many physicists admit they don't understand the science behind it.
 
Nonetheless, the so-called "hyperdrive" concept won last year's American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics award for the best nuclear and future flight paper. Among its defenders is aerospace engineer Pavlos Mikellides, from the Arizona State University in Tempe. Mikellides, who reviewed the winning paper, said: "Even though such features have been explored before, this particular approach is quite unique."
 
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How Much Security Can I Get for These Inalienable Rights?

Published on Saturday, January 7, 2006 by CommonDreams.org
by Timothy C. Leslie

  
In the first days and weeks after September 11, 2001, politicians throughout the land could be heard uttering some variation on the following theme: If we change our American way of life, the terrorists will have won.
 
These statements frequently were intended to prod U.S. citizens to continue traveling, shopping, and recreating as they had before the al-Qaida attacks. But the deeper message was clear: It was going to take more than 19 suicide-bent hijackers aboard four airliners to convince the proud inhabitants of the land of the free and the home of the brave to give up even one of their hard-fought freedoms.
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Blah3.com - Let's clear up this 'Both sides did it' thing, right now.

As we're all painfully aware, the traditional media have gone to great lengths to portray the Jack Abramoff scandal as one in which both Democrats and Republicans took money from Abramoff.
 
It's a lie. Here's why (all emphasis mine):
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BTC News � Bush signs bills but keeps his fingers crossed

weldon berger @ 12:08 pm
When George Bush signed the defense appropriation bill containing John McCain?s amendment removing torture and other human rights violations from the official repertoire of the armed forces, he added his own little amendment: ?Unless I say otherwise.? The vehicle through which he reserved the option to break the law is called a bill-signing statement, and as Knight Ridder?s Ron Hutcheson revealed on Friday, the McCain bill was far from the first victim of the practice: Bush has used it some 500 times since taking office.
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Sunday, January 08, 2006

MotherJones.com | News

Respectable Reefer
How a pulverized, liquefied, and doctor-prescribed form of marijuana could transform the drug-war landscape
 
Gary Greenberg
November/December 2005 Issue
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