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 28, 2006

Abramoff Scandal Threatens GOP But Media Runs Interference

So, this is why Chrissy Matthews is downplaying the GOP/Abramoff scandal. (Tip thanks to Hoffmania)
And we now know that Tim Russert (ol' punkinhead) is kneedeep in the Plame Affair. When, oh when, will we get our 'Free Press' back again? --pseudolus
By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor
Random Lengths News (
     On January 3, GOP Super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff?s plead guilty to conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion charges, agreeing to cooperate in a federal corruption probe that could implicate dozens of lawmakers and their staffs. Time magazine soon reported that 13 FBI field offices across the country were working on the case, ?with two dozen agents assigned to it full time and roughly the same number working part time. ?We are going to chase down every lead,? Chris Swecker, head of the FBI?s criminal division, told Time.?

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Russian Inventor Patents Invisibility Cloak

Holy cow! Shades of "Predator" --pseudolus
Created: 26.01.2006 09:11 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 09:17 MSK

A professor from chair of quantum and optical electronics of the Ulyanovsk State University in western Russia has patented a method of making things invisible, Interfax news agency reported.

The so-called invisibility cloak, created by Oleg Gadomsky, is called �The method of conversion of optical radiation� in the patent.

Gadomsky had been long experimenting on nanoparticles of gold. Thus, he invented a sub-micron stratum of microscopical colloid golden particles that makes an object placed behind it invisible for an observer.

�Only static objects can be made invisible for the time present, as during motion a radiation frequency changes. But soon it will be possible to create a cap of darkness and a magic cloak of Harry Potter, the scientist believes.
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How to fight terrorism @ Things Of Interest

As an ordinary human being, you may feel that there is nothing you can do in the fight against terrorism. You couldn't be more wrong.
You see, terrorism directly targets ordinary people. You, an ordinary person, can deny terrorists their victory simply by refusing to be a victim. Believe it or not, you have a choice in the matter. This is because the victims of terrorism are not simply those who get blown up during the initial attack. It's the people who are scared to fly in airplanes or visit big cities afterwards. It's the people who get dragged into a war against an abstract concept. It's the people who get attacked in the street because they look like they might come from a hot country.
I live in England. On July 7, 2005, our capital city was bombed. This was our reaction. Read it. Read it all, and learn. The attack failed. Terrorist attacks can fail, despite the body count, simply because of human spirit. And once terrorism ceases to be effective, terrorism will cease.
Here is how you, an ordinary human being, can fight terrorism:

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d r i f t g l a s s: Dead Soldiers?

...On the surface it?s about fraud and waste, which are dry, green-eyeshade kinds of crimes. Boring. The sort of thing you go after Capone over when you can?t nail him for murder.
Slightly beneath the skin it's about the single most consistently defining characteristic of the Republican Party. Hypocrisy. Because this is also the story of the same people who bellow like you had booted their kitten through a box fan every time the Evil Government asks them to kick [in] to help out childen or poor people, or brown people or old people.
When we ask for tax increases to help the weak or the sick or helpless or just plain unlucky, basically anyone who isn't them -- these Compassionate Christian Conservatives loudly bitch around the block and back again about the folly of throwing money at the problem.
Well, in George Bush?s War it would appear that that is exactly and literally what they are doing: keeping rooms stuffed with shrink-wrapped brinks [bricks] of hundred-dollar-bills just laying around. But I guess using taxpayer "C"-notes as bathmats and ass-floss is A-OK in Iraq, 'cause, um, it's about Democracy.

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Media Matters - "Media Matters"; by Jamison Foser

"Media Matters"; by Jamison Foser
This Week:

Media less assertive in covering NSA scandal than Whitewater
Media coverage of NSA story continues to fall short
Media sees silver lining in every cloud hanging over Bush administration ...
... and grey clouds inside every silver lining for Democrats
Matthews falsely smears progressives ... again

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Friday, January 27, 2006

Here is an intersting little web utility. It lets you generate a text based image from a photo of your choice.

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The Piracy Calculator @ Things Of Interest

At this site you can calculate how much your 'stash' is worth. ;-)

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A Call to the Faithful

Published on Thursday, January 26, 2006 by the Guardian / UK
Karl Rove has once again proved his ability to obliterate history in the cause of his president
by Sidney Blumenthal 
In a curious juxtaposition, some leading figures from the Bush administration have recently argued that the president is blind, while others, such as Karl Rove, maintain he is omniscient. Rove, Bush's political "architect" and deputy chief of staff, is an expert at arranging the smearing of the motives and patriotism of the president's critics. He remains under investigation for his role in the disclosure of the identity of a CIA operative in order to tarnish the reputation of her husband, the former ambassador Joseph Wilson - who had revealed that the rationale for the Iraq war was based on false evidence. Every day for the past two weeks, the White House press secretary Scott McClellan has stonewalled questions about Rove's and George Bush's connections to super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty to fraud and bribery and is cooperating with prosecutors. McClellan refuses to name officials who attended "staff-level meetings" with Abramoff.

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Dr. Frist Immunizes Big Pharma

Published on Thursday, January 26, 2006 by
by Dan Hamburg 
Hidden in the folds of the thickly pork-laden Department of Defense Appropriations bill that slid through Congress just before Christmas and was signed into law a day before New Year?s was a big slab of holiday cheer for the pharmaceutical industry. There were no press releases from congressional offices and no mention in the news ? maybe no one wanted to take credit for this latest assault on the 14th amendment.

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Don't Cry For Canada

Published on Thursday, January 26, 2006 by The Nation
by John Nichols
After the 2004 presidential election in the United States, a lot of liberal Americans looked longingly to the north. Canada, the theory went, was a social democracy with a sane foreign policy and humane values that offered a genuine alternative to the right-wing hegemony that the U.S. was about to experience.
But, this week, U.S. television networks and newspapers declared: "Canadians Tilts Right" and "Conservatives Capture Canada."
As shorthand for the election results that saw Canada's Conservative party outpoll the governing Liberal Party for the first time since Ronald Reagan served in the White House, those headlines may be useful.
But the claim that Canada has lurched far to the right is anything but accurate.

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Friday "Nudie" Show - Enjoy!

War - What is it Good For?

'Why We Fight' an in-depth look at war
by Glenn Whipp
..."When Eisenhower left office in 1961, he warned America in his presidential farewell that 'we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.'
"This was a retired general and a Republican talking. And it's fair to say Eisenhower's fears have come to pass."

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The Unseen War in Iraq

Published on Thursday, January 26, 2006 by the Village Voice
When troops are cut, we'll still be bombing the hell out of the place
by Sydney H. Schanberg 
In every war, some things are seen more clearly than others and are therefore reported more fully. The air war in Iraq is not one of them. American air power has been dominant in most of the modern wars, but bombing and strafing take place either completely out of sight or in areas not accessible to close observation by the press. Rarely does the military allow reporters to go along on combat sorties.
In the Vietnam War, some of the bombing was kept secret, such as the heavy raids in 1969?70 on North Vietnamese sanctuaries inside Cambodia, before that country was drawn full-bore into the war by the Nixon "incursion" in the spring of 1970. Military records were altered to make it appear that all this carpet bombing was carried out inside Vietnam.

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Friday "Foobar" Blogging

01. Quicksilver Messenger Service - [Best of #11] Stand By Me [3:34]
02. The Who - [Who's Next Deluxe CD1 #01] Baba O'Riley [5:01]
03. Rain Ravens - [Live at the Saxon Pub-AustinTX #00] 01-last One Through The Door [3:43]
04. Country Dick Montana - [The Devil Lied To Me #10] Hurt By Love [3:09]
05. Indigenous - [Indigenous #07] Movin' On [3:30]
06. The Cramps - [Stay Sick #05] The Creature From The Black Leather Lagoon [3:06]
07. Mott the Hoople - [The Ballad of Mott: A Retrospe #03] Waterlow [3:01]
08. The Alan Parsons Project - [The Time Machine #09] Press Rewind [4:20]
09. The Yardbirds - [Birdland #08] Shapes of Things [2:38]
10. Bill Nelson - [After the Satellite Sings #01] Deeply Dazzled [5:53]
11. Kirsty MacColl - [Titanic Days #01] You Know It's You [3:59]

"FOOBAR"??? =

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The Gospel of Work vs. the Gospel of Wealth

The lie that today's Objectivists/Capitalists love to spread is that "Capitalism"="Hard Work" and it is a LIE. Capitalism is letting your money earn you more money. It has nothing to do with Labor. If you sit around the pool waiting for your dividend checks to arrive you are not "working hard". --pseudolus
..."If we look at the United States in the 19th century, we see a popular culture that was, in a word, anti-capitalist," Doukas said. "And this was reflected very much in the political scene of the time. You had to be in favor of the working man. You had to support and praise the common man. The basic idea is that work is what dignifies a person. It is an anti-aristocratic ideology. It goes way back, really. Aristocrats were characterized as parasites, as people who lived off the work of others. Whereas good, virtuous American people worked hard and were expected to enjoy the fruits of their labor."
So, for example, Abraham Lincoln, in his first annual message to Congress in 1861, makes his statement about capital and labor: "Capital is only the fruit of labor. Labor is the superior of capital and deserves much the higher consideration."
But when the corporations came in and took over, the major message was -- no, it's capital, not labor, that produces the wealth of society -- it's capital that deserves the greater consideration."
And this is what Doukas means by "the sabotage of an American community."

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Please Throw Vermont Out [and Maine, too! Pretty Please? --pseudolus]

"Liber Anglia Nova!!" --scoopernicus

Published on Wednesday, January 25, 2006 by
by Joyce Marcel
Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, who aptly calls himself "The Bloviator," has said many wild things in his successful career. Most of them have been easy to ignore. But recently he said, in the punishing tone of a strict father whose daughter has had too much fun, fun, fun and he now has to take the T-Bird away: "Vermont must know that they're in the United States of America." [emphasis added]
He was talking about Vermont Judge Cashman's recent attempt to get a particular sex offender some therapy - an effort which paid off, by the way - but which, when misinterpreted by the far right, caused a national scandal.
It's pretty obvious that Vermont grates on O'Reilly and his ilk. We send a socialist to the House of Representatives and liberals like Jim Jeffords and Pat Leahy to the Senate. We put our former governor into national play as chief truth-speaker and fund-raiser for the Democratic party - if only they'd listen to him! We instituted the first civil unions laws in the country and the devil did not appear. We're interested in wind power, and some of us even drive cars powered by French-fry oil. We've flooded - yes, absolutely flooded - the country with super-rich ice cream, good beer, fine coffee, hand-crafted cheeses, healthy bread, natural salad dressings, luxury textiles, organic cosmetics and designer furniture and lighting fixtures. We even allow lesbians to make maple syrup!
So I have a plea for you, Mr. O'Reilly, and your right wing Republican friends. Because we're irritating now and plan to get even more irritating as time goes on, please, please, please throw us out of America. Please. Pretty please?

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Is this 'Strict Constructionism' in Action?

Published on Wednesday, January 25, 2006 by
by Andrew Bard Schmookler 
As the president now tours the country to defend his warrantless spying on Americans, we get a meaningful glimpse into how much of a role principle plays in the Bush administration.
The answer is, not much.

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Hey Stupid, Cowardly, Venal Democrats: Run This Ad in 2006

Published on Wednesday, January 25, 2006 by
by David Michael Green 
Boy, you gotta hand it to the Democratic Party. They sure get high marks for consistency.
The guys in the White House must be getting bored by now. They keep handing out killer cudgels to the Democrats, waiting to see if they?ll actually pick one up.
Never happens. As the old saying goes, if you can?t run against fiscal hemorrhage, Terri Schiavo, an unpopular war with no end in sight, torture, Hurricane Katrina, the prescription drug program debacle, Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay, and the federal government spying on Americans, maybe you should think about a different career than politics.

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Bush Has Backward View of Dissent

Published on Wednesday, January 25, 2006 by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Washington)
by Jonathan Zimmerman
Did President Bush deliberately deceive the American people to justify the war in Iraq?
I don't know the answer to that question, and neither do you. But here's what we do know: The president doesn't think we should be asking in the first place. And that might be the biggest scandal of all.
Bush has lashed out at Americans "who claim that we acted in Iraq because of oil, or because of Israel, or because we misled the American people." True, the president said, some "honest critics" have condemned his decisions about Iraqi reconstruction, U.S. troop deployments and so on. But Bush drew a bright line between "responsible" opponents and the "irresponsible" kind, who raise doubts about the entire purpose of the war and thereby bring "comfort to our adversaries."
In other words, it's OK to criticize the White House for bungling the war after it started. But if you question how the war started, then you're obviously helping the Bad Guys. And you're hurting the United States.

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AG's Memo Raises Questions on Patriot Act

Published on Wednesday, January 25, 2006 by the Boston Globe
Suggests it's not needed for domestic spying
by Charlie Savage
A footnote in Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's 42-page legal memo defending President Bush's domestic spying program appears to argue that the administration does not need Congress to extend the USA Patriot Act in order to keep using the law's investigative powers against terror suspects.

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The Adventurisms of Bushman!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The End of 'Unalienable Rights'

By Robert Parry
January 24, 2006
Every American school child is taught that in the United States, people have ?unalienable rights,? heralded by the Declaration of Independence and enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Supposedly, these liberties can?t be taken away, but they are now gone.
Today, Americans have rights only at George W. Bush?s forbearance. Under new legal theories ? propounded by Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito and other right-wing jurists ? Bush effectively holds all power over all Americans.
He can spy on anyone he wants without a court order; he can throw anyone into jail without due process; he can order torture or other degrading treatment regardless of a new law enacted a month ago; he can launch wars without congressional approval; he can assassinate people whom he deems to be the enemy even if he knows that innocent people, including children, will die, too.
Under the new theories, Bush can act both domestically and internationally. His powers know no bounds and no boundaries.
Bush has made this radical change in the American political system by combining what his legal advisers call the ?plenary? ? or unlimited ? powers of the Commander in Chief with the concept of a ?unitary executive? in control of all laws and regulations.
Yet, maybe because Bush?s assertion of power is so extraordinary, almost no one dares connect the dots. After a 230-year run, the ?unalienable rights? ? as enunciated by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and the Founding Fathers ? are history.

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State Rebuffs Raw Vote Demand

Published on Tuesday, January 24, 2006 by the Anchorage Daily News / Alaska 
Standoff: Democrats want 2004 base election data; machine firm is playing coy.
by Lisa Demer
The state Division of Elections has refused to turn over its electronic voting files to the Democrats, arguing that the data format belongs to a private company and can't be made public.
The Alaska Democratic Party says the information is a public record essential for verifying the accuracy of the 2004 general election and must be provided.
The official vote results from the last general election are riddled with discrepancies and impossible for the public to make sense of, the Democrats said Monday. A detailed analysis of the underlying data could answer lingering questions about an election many thought was over more than a year ago, they say.

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How NOT to Cover the Economy...

Among DeLong?s horror stories: This November 4, 2005 New York Times story: "Senate Passes Budget With Benefit Cuts and Oil Drilling," By Robert Pear with Carl Hulse.
The first paragraph:
The Senate on Thursday narrowly approved a sweeping five-year plan to trim a variety of federal benefit programs and to allow drilling for oil and natural gas in a wilderness area of Alaska, increasing the chances that the energy industry and Alaska officials will achieve a long-sought goal. The budget bill, the most ambitious effort to curb federal spending in eight years, was approved by a vote of 52 to 47. Five Republicans opposed the measure; two Democrats voted for it. Senator Judd Gregg, Republican of New Hampshire, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said, "This bill is a reflection of the Republican Congress's commitment to pursue a path of fiscal responsibility." It will, Mr. Gregg said, reduce the deficit and save roughly $35 billion over the next five years...?
DeLong explains why it?s a horror:
The Federal government currently spends money at the rate of $2.6 trillion a year. Total incomes in the entire American economy are about $12 trillion a year. Saving $35 billion over five years means that you are saving $7 billion a year--0.3% of federal spending; 0.06% of GDP. Out of a federal budget that spends $9,000 per person per year, Judd Gregg is saving $27 a year.
Thus reading a lead like that makes Brad DeLong, at least, foam at the mouth: phrases like "sweeping," "ambitious," "commitment," and "fiscal responsibility" simply have no place here--especially since [the author] does not give his readers any of the numbers needed as reference points to assess the magnitude of the Senate's action.

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Report: Deployments Nearly Breaking Army - Yahoo! News

Great Googely Moogely!! Onle a few weeks ago, Rep. John Murtha was vilified for announcing that America's military was "broken"; forces were stretched thin; enlistments down, equipment worn or in short supply. And now we have it from the "horse's mouth" that, indeed, the military is hurting. Think any of the choadlickers on the right will apologize or even acknowledge this report? --pseudolus
By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer
Wed Jan 25, 12:39 PM ET
WASHINGTON - Stretched by frequent troop rotations to
Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has become a "thin green line" that could snap unless relief comes soon, according to a study for the Pentagon.
Andrew Krepinevich, a retired Army officer who wrote the report under a Pentagon contract, concluded that the Army cannot sustain the pace of troop deployments to Iraq long enough to break the back of the insurgency. He also suggested that the Pentagon's decision, announced in December, to begin reducing the force in Iraq this year was driven in part by a realization that the Army was overextended.
As evidence, Krepinevich points to the Army's 2005 recruiting slump ? missing its recruiting goal for the first time since 1999 ? and its decision to offer much bigger enlistment bonuses and other incentives.

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Open Letter To Chris Matthews

1. What is your complaint with Chris Matthews and MSNBC?
Chris Matthews is a major opinion leader who has repeatedly compared Americans concerned about the war in Iraq to Osama bin Laden, a charge that borders on accusing over half the American public with treason. Matthews is perceived, wrongly, as a responsible and objective mainstream journalist with a reputation for calling it as he sees it. That gives his partisan smears a veneer of credibility that makes them particularly offensive and dangerous in a nation at war. It is wrong for Chris Matthews and MSNBC to politicize the deaths of 3,000 Americans on September 11.

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Media Matters - In Today 's "Straight Talk" segment, Lauer didn't challenge McCain's misleading claims

In Today's "Straight Talk" segment, Lauer didn't challenge McCain's misleading claims
Summary: NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer failed to challenge Sen. John McCain's misleading claims that "members of Congress -- including Democrats -- were briefed" on President Bush's warrantless domestic spying program "and there didn't seem to be ... any public outcry until recently." In fact, of the seven Democratic lawmakers known to have been briefed on the domestic spying program prior to its disclosure by The New York Times, three have said they objected privately at the time, and three more have said they weren't given adequate information about the program. Moreover, these lawmakers could not have raised "any public outcry," because the briefings were classified.

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Bush the Incompetent

By Harold Meyerson
Washington Post; Wednesday, January 25, 2006; A19
Incompetence is not one of the seven deadly sins, and it's hardly the worst attribute that can be ascribed to George W. Bush. But it is this president's defining attribute. Historians, looking back at the hash that his administration has made of his war in Iraq, his response to Hurricane Katrina and his Medicare drug plan, will have to grapple with how one president could so cosmically botch so many big things -- particularly when most of them were the president's own initiatives.

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The Imperium's Quarter Century

By Robert Parry
January 20, 2006
If there is a birth date for today?s American Imperium, it would be Jan. 20, 1981, exactly a quarter century ago, when Ronald Reagan was sworn in as President and Iran released 52 American hostages under circumstances that remain a mystery to this day.
The freedom of the hostages, ending a 444-day crisis, brought forth an outpouring of patriotism that bathed the new President in an aura of heroism as a leader so feared by America?s enemies that they scrambled to avoid angering him. It was viewed as a case study of how U.S. toughness could restore the proper international order.

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The Devastation We Inflict: Two Letters from Vietnam Vets on "Collateral Damage" in Iraq

Published on Monday, January 23, 2006 by 
Almost two weeks ago, I published a piece by Michael Schwartz, "A Formula for Slaughter," on the brutal nature of American "rules of engagement" from the air in Iraq and the consequent proliferation of Iraqi civilian casualties.  As it happened, this piece spurred powerful memories in a number of Vietnam veterans who wrote vivid e-responses in to Tomdispatch -- striking enough that I chose the two most eloquent to send out (with permission, of course) in my latest dispatch (along with a discussion of my own on the way the Vietnam experience has dogged the Bush administration in its Iraqi adventure).  The first letter comes from Wade Kane, once a helicopter door gunner and crew chief in Vietnam, who wrote in from Crescent City, Florida; the second is from George Hoffman, a former Vietnam medic, from Lorain, Ohio, which he describes as being "thirty miles west of Cleveland, in the heart of the industrial rust belt, and my apartment has a scenic view of the smokestacks and the steel mill." Both in their accounts give the Vietnam analogy in Iraq painful new meaning.  These are the sorts of voices we should hear far more from in this country and, unfortunately, almost never do. -- Tom Engelhardt

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The Powerful 5th Estate

Congressional 'Reform"

 Posted by Picasa

Click title above to see full size image.

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When A Marine Speaks Truth to Power: Why I Stand By My Interview With Sgt. Jimmy Massey

Published on Monday, January 23, 2006 by 
Paul Rockwell 
I first interviewed Staff Sergeant Jimmy Massey for the Sacramento Bee, May 16, 2003. The tall, hard-core Marine who served his country for over 12 years once trained infantry soldiers at boot camp on Parris Island, South Carolina. He was a recruiter in Waynesville, North Carolina, before he began that fateful march?"the evil journey"?toward Baghdad in 2003.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Flying car captured on Google Earth | The Register

Experimental Oz project packs grav-busting hyperdrive
By Lester Haines
Published Monday 23rd January 2006 11:08 GMT
Here's a question for you: what have the Nazi wartime test facility at Peenemunde and the Australian city of Perth got in common? Well, the first thing (and just about the only thing, truth be told) which springs to mind is that they are both next to large bodies of water. This is useful if you're going to test things which might go bang. Like V-2 rockets and - wait for it - flying cars:

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Software algorithm cuts out the spin

Could be the death of politics
By Nick Farrell: Monday 23 January 2006, 08:55

BOFFINS [sic] have been testing out a new 'spin detector' during the Canadian elections, which, if it works, could result in the death of political spinsters and bring about a golden age of truthful politics.

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White House Got Early Warning on Katrina

Once agin, the lie is exposed. Three times now this admin has claimed "Noboby could have forseen this (9/11, Iraq insurgency, Katrina disaster)." --pseudolus
By Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 24, 2006; Page A02
In the 48 hours before Hurricane Katrina hit, the White House received detailed warnings about the storm's likely impact, including eerily prescient predictions of breached levees, massive flooding, and major losses of life and property, documents show.
A 41-page assessment by the Department of Homeland Security's National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center (NISAC), was delivered by e-mail to the White House's "situation room," the nerve center where crises are handled, at 1:47 a.m. on Aug. 29, the day the storm hit, according to an e-mail cover sheet accompanying the document.

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Monday, January 23, 2006

TomDispatch - Tomdispatch: John Brown on the War on Terror as an Indian War

In the 1940s and 1950s, when the generation of men now ruling over us were growing up, boys could disappear into a form of war play -- barely noticed by adults and hardly recorded anywhere -- that was already perhaps a couple of hundred years old. In this kind of play, there was no need to enact the complicated present by recreating a junior version of an anxiety-ridden Cold War garrison state (though you could purchase your own H2O Missile, a water-powered toy "ICBM" in imitation of the sort just then being prepared by adults to pulverize the planet). For children in those years, there was still a sacramental, triumphalist version of American history, a spectacle of slaughter in which they invariably fell before our guns. This spectacle could be experienced in any movie theater, and then played out in backyards and on floors with toy six guns (or sticks) or little toy bluecoats, Indians, and cowboys, or green, inch-high plastic sets of World War II soldiers. As play, for those who grew up in that time, it was sunshine itself, pure pleasure. The Western (as well as its modern successor, the war film) was on screen everywhere then.

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IRS Abuses Offer Insight Into Dangers of Wiretap Program

Published on Thursday, January 19, 2006 by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution 
by Jay Bookman
A lot of Americans responded with a shrug to the revelation that the National Security Agency may be searching for terrorists by tapping U.S. phone calls and e-mails without court permission and in violation of federal law.
To some degree, that response is understandable. The threat that government spying may run amok is pretty theoretical, while the threat of terrorist attack is very real in the wake of Sept. 11. None of us has forgotten watching those towers fall.
However, if you really want to understand what might be at stake in the NSA controversy in terms of our freedom and privacy, the Internal Revenue Service offers a compelling case study in what it calls its Questionable Refund Program.

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The Big Fix

Published on Saturday, January 21, 2006 by The Nation
by Dennis Kucinich
Soon after Hurricane Katrina ripped through New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, destroying hundreds of thousands of homes and jobs, President Bush said the region looked like it had been obliterated by a weapon. It was. Indifference is a weapon of mass destruction. And the Bush Administration's indifference to the economic security of New Orleans residents continues to this day.
For the 500,000 evacuees still not back in their homes, unemployment is epidemic: About one-quarter of whites, and one-half of African-Americans, are still out of work. It's not because jobs are scarce; in fact, there is a labor shortage in New Orleans. Most of those who have returned from the Katrina diaspora have found jobs. The massive unemployment is caused by the lack of housing near the reconstruction job sites.

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The Hastert Lobbying Reform Plan: A Tough Truffle to Swallow

Published on Saturday, January 21, 2006 by the Huffington Post 
by Arianna Huffington
Great news. The GOP has decided to clean up Washington. This week, Denny Hastert released the Republican plan to reform lobbying rules. As soon as he did, the naysayers began jumping all over it. For instance, there was this description from the Washington Post:
"According to lobbyists and ethics experts, even if Hastert's proposal is enacted, members of Congress and their staffs could still travel the world on an interest group's expense and eat steak on a lobbyist's account at the priciest restaurants in Washington.
"The only requirement would be that whenever a lobbyist pays the bill, he or she must also hand the lawmaker a campaign contribution. Then the transaction would be perfectly okay."

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Unified Security Budget

Published on Sunday, January 22, 2006 by The Nation
by John Conyers
In my forty-two years in Congress, I've seen a lot of federal budgets get made. And I can tell you, it's a process that would give sausage-making a good name. Amid the kaleidoscopic process of allocating resources, and the endless array of committees with frequently overlapping jurisdictions, the big picture of our nation's priorities gets lost every time.
Take national security. In the last election, President Bush and Senator Kerry found some rare common ground here: They agreed that our top national security priority should be curbing the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, and especially keeping them away from terrorists. Few Americans would disagree.

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An Unhappy Anniversary

Published on Sunday, January 22, 2006 by the Huffington Post
An Unhappy Anniversary
by Eugene Jarecki 
At a time of war, scandal, and national disunity, people across the American family are increasingly wondering how we got here. 45 years ago this week, departing President Dwight Eisenhower gave us our answer.
It was in his 1961 farewell address to the American people that Eisenhower coined the phrase "military-industrial complex," an unholy alliance between the Pentagon and its contractors that he saw gaining "unwarranted influence" over public policy. Today, in more ways than we know, these words haunt us.

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Sweet Victory: Progressive Caucuses Sweep the States

Published on Sunday, January 22, 2006 by The Nation 
by Katrina vanden Heuvel
As you'll see in our special "Alternative State of the Union" issue, courageous and principled members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are fighting to reclaim the soul of the Democratic Party from within. But the movement to infuse the party with core progressive values is also reaching far outside of the Beltway. Across the country, scores of grassroots activists affiliated with Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) are forming progressive caucuses at the state party level.

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Impeachment Would Make Matters Worse

Published on Sunday, January 22, 2006 by the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin (New York)
by David Rossie
Well, it's finally out there, the "I" word.
Arlen Specter let it slip last Sunday on one of the morning blab shows. He mentioned it in the context of the Cheney/Bush administration's apparently illegal use of the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans.
Specter did not advocate impeachment. He mentioned it only as a possibility should it be found that Bush acted illegally when he authorized the NSA to eavesdrop without notifying a special federal court as required under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

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Silencing the Tyrant: Saddam's Soviet-Style Show Trial is a Travesty of Justice Designed to Justify Iraq Invasion

Published on Sunday, January 22, 2006 by the Toronto Sun
by Eric Margolis
Saddam Hussein's trial in Baghdad has become a circus. The presiding judge refuses to return to court, and defence lawyers have been murdered.
What to make of this spectacle? Emotionally, it's good to see the tyrant who terrorized so many on trial for his life. But morally and legally, Saddam's trial is a travesty of justice. This is an old-fashioned Soviet-style show trial set up by U.S. occupation authorities.
Its goal is not to determine Saddam's guilt or innocence, but to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq -- which, by the way, was a blatant violation of international law.

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Wayward Christian Soldiers

Published on Sunday, January 22, 2006 by the International Herald Tribune
by Charles Marsh
In the past several years, American evangelicals - and I am one of them - have amassed greater political power than at any time in our history. But at what cost to our witness and the integrity of our message?
Recently, I took a few days to reread the war sermons delivered by influential evangelical ministers during the lead up to the Iraq war.
In that period, from the fall of 2002 through the spring of 2003, many of the most respected voices in American evangelical circles blessed President George W. Bush's war plans, even when doing so required them to recast Christian doctrine.

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Bush's NSA Hubris

Published on Sunday, January 22, 2006 by the Progressive
by Matthew Rothschild
The Bush team keeps granting itself more and more power, including the power unilaterally to deem a law unconstitutional and then to flout that law.
That?s essentially what the Justice Department said in the 41-page white paper on the NSA?s warrantless spying program which it released on January 19.

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DNA Offers New Insight Concerning Cat Evolution - New York Times

Published: January 6, 2006
Researchers have gained a major insight into the evolution of cats by showing how they migrated to new continents and developed new species as sea levels rose and fell.
About nine million years ago - two million years after the cat family first appeared in Asia - these successful predators invaded North America by crossing the Beringian land bridge connecting Siberia and Alaska, a team of geneticists writes in the journal Science today.

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The Return of the Puppet Masters.- SCIENCE REPORT

January 17, 2006
Posted by Carl Zimmer
Are brain parasites altering the personalities of three billion people? The question emerged a few years ago, and it shows no signs of going away.
I first encountered this idea while working on my book Parasite Rex. I was investigating the remarkable ability parasites have to manipulate the behavior of their hosts. The lancet fluke Dicrocoelium dendriticum, for example, forces its ant host to clamp itself to the tip of grass blades, where a grazing mammal might eat it. It's in the fluke's interest to get eaten, because only by getting into the gut of a sheep or some other grazer can it complete its life cycle. Another fluke, Euhaplorchis californiensis, causes infected fish to shimmy and jump, greatly increasing the chance that wading birds will grab them.

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Belong To Any Yahoo! Groups? Be Aware Of Web Beacons (Closer Look)

Victoria from the osxtiger Yahoo! Group writes:
If you belong to ANY Yahoo! Groups - be aware that Yahoo! is now using ?Web Beacons? to track every Yahoo! Group user. They?re similar to cookies, but allow Yahoo! to record every Web site and every group you visit, even when you?re not connected to Yahoo!.

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Activists take campaign to top judge's elegant domain

an Glaister in Los Angeles
Monday January 23, 2006
The Guardian

Justice David Souter has a very nice home. A pretty 200-year-old wooden farmhouse, it is set in eight acres (three hectares) of land in the small town of Weare, New Hampshire.
Justice Souter, one of nine judges on the US supreme court in Washington, does not visit his New Hampshire home too often. Taking advantage of a supreme court ruling, activists plan to confiscate his home to build a hotel.
In June last year Justice Souter sided with a 5-4 majority on the supreme court upholding the right of government to seize private property for commercial development.

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As Profits Soar, Companies Pay U.S. Less for Gas Rights - New York Times

January 23, 2006
WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 - At a time when energy prices and industry profits are soaring, the federal government collected little more money last year than it did five years ago from the companies that extracted more than $60 billion in oil and gas from publicly owned lands and coastal waters.
If royalty payments in fiscal 2005 for natural gas had risen in step with market prices, the government would have received about $700 million more than it actually did, a three-month investigation by The New York Times has found.
But an often byzantine set of federal regulations, largely shaped and fiercely defended by the energy industry itself, allowed companies producing natural gas to provide the Interior Department with much lower sale prices - the crucial determinant for calculating government royalties - than they reported to their shareholders.

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