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, February 18, 2006

All (Puff) in Favor (Puff) Say Aye (Wheeze) - New York Times

WHEN the citywide smoking ban takes effect here next month, at least one workplace in town will be spared: Congress, the beneficiary of a kind of diplomatic immunity for federal lawmakers.
 
That is excellent news for John A. Boehner of Ohio, the new Republican majority leader, who regularly smokes cigarettes between votes in the House. And for Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat, who sits and smokes cigars while reading the newspaper in the speaker's lobby. And for Sherwood Boehlert, the New York Republican, who is struggling to quit but can be seen inhaling in weaker moments during the workday.
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another fine example of the elites in d.c. taking care of themselves. carving out 'private laws' (i.e. privilege)  while utterly failing to perform their sworn duties.--pseudolus

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Dems Need A Newt Of Their Own

The Party Can't Have a Revolution Without the Revolutionaries
By Elizabeth Wilner and Chuck Todd
Sunday, February 19, 2006; B05
 

Back in 1992, seven upstart Republican freshmen forced real change in the House of Representatives.
 
Egged on by a more senior revolutionary, Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), these feisty newcomers exploited the House Bank and Post Office scandals unfolding on the watch of a longtime Democratic majority. The GOP lawmakers even posed for a poster, a macho black-and-white group shot. "The Gang of Seven," the caption read. "We closed the House Bank. We're changing Congress. Join the fight."
 
Today, as a lobbying scandal plays out on the watch of the Republican majority in Congress, the question is: Where is the Democrats' Gang of Seven? Why isn't some spirited group of junior House Democrats capturing the public's imagination and sinking its teeth into the spreading Jack Abramoff mess? And where is the Democratic equivalent of Gingrich?
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the socio-political climate is quit different today. one does not wander far from the herd without fear of being smeared and destroyed politically for doing so. the sitting authorities have vast powers of position, situation  and number and wish to take more. congress, please! "little baby steps...little baby steps... " --pseudolus

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No Checks, Many Imbalances

Yet another conservative steps up and states the obvious to the oblivious. Busheviks! Listen up!. --pseudolus
----------------------------------
By George F. Will
Thursday, February 16, 2006; A27

The next time a president asks Congress to pass something akin to what Congress passed on Sept. 14, 2001 -- the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) -- the resulting legislation might be longer than Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past." Congress, remembering what is happening today, might stipulate all the statutes and constitutional understandings that it does not intend the act to repeal or supersede.
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Friday, February 17, 2006

Hagel and Snowe Cave To Cheney

Think Progress:
 
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) talked a big game about standing on principle and demanding a congressional investigation of Bush?s warrantless domestic surveillance.
 
Snowe, 12/21/05:
 
Revelations that the U.S. government has conducted domestic electronic surveillance without express legal authority indeed warrants Congressional examination. I believe the Congress - as a coequal branch of government - must immediately and expeditiously review the use of this practice.
 
Hagel, 12/21/05:
 
Hagel and four other members of the Intelligence Committee have called for a joint probe with the Senate Judiciary Committee to determine the extent of the domestic surveillance and whether the president had legal authority to order it without court approval?Asked about Vice President Dick Cheney?s warning that Bush?s critics could pay a heavy political price, Hagel said: ?My oath is to the Constitution, not to a vice president, a president or a political party.?
 
Yesterday, when it counted, both Senators folded. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) introduced a motion to start an investigation. Snowe and Hagel, after an intense lobbying campaign by Vice President Cheney, sided with Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and voted to adjourn the committee without even considering Rockefeller?s motion. The motion to adjourn passed on a party-line vote.
 
Actions speak louder than words.
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What Happened To My Country?

Published on Friday, February 17, 2006, by CommonDreams.org
by Steve Osborn
 
I grew up an American, and proud of it. I was taught in school about the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and Bill of Rights. My brother was a Merchant Marine Officer during the war and had three ships sunk beneath him. We beat the Nazis, the Fascists and the Japanese and made the world safe for democracy. After the war came Nuremberg and the assurance that things like the holocaust could never happen again. The Marshal Plan helped to rebuild the shattered portions of the world. America, Democracy, compassion and help. It was good to be an American. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were sad, but necessary to end the war and save lives, we were told.
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Doing the President's Dirty Work

Published on Friday, February 17, 2006, by the New York Times
Editorial
 
Is there any aspect of President Bush's miserable record on intelligence that Senator Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is not willing to excuse and help to cover up?
 
For more than a year, Mr. Roberts has been dragging out an investigation into why Mr. Bush presented old, dubious and just plain wrong intelligence on Iraq as solid new proof that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was in league with Al Qaeda. It was supposed to start after the 2004 election, but Mr. Roberts was letting it die of neglect until the Democrats protested by forcing the Senate into an unusual closed session last November.
 
Now Mr. Roberts is trying to stop an investigation into Mr. Bush's decision to allow the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans without getting the warrants required by a 27-year-old federal law enacted to stop that sort of abuse.
 
Mr. Roberts had promised to hold a committee vote yesterday on whether to investigate. But he canceled the vote, and then made two astonishing announcements. He said he was working with the White House on amending the 1978 law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, to permit warrantless spying. And then he suggested that such a change would eliminate the need for an inquiry.
 
Stifling his own committee without even bothering to get the facts is outrageous. As the vice chairman of the panel, Senator John Rockefeller IV, pointed out, supervising intelligence gathering is in fact the purpose of the intelligence committee.
 
Mr. Rockefeller said the White House had not offered enough information to make an informed judgment on the program possible. It is withholding, for instance, such minor details as how the program works, how it is reviewed, how much and what kind of information is collected, and how the information is stored and used.
 
Mr. Roberts said the White House had agreed to provide more briefings to the Senate Intelligence Committee ? hardly an enormous concession since it is already required to do so. And he said he and the White House were working out "a fix" for the law. That is the worst news. FISA was written to prevent the president from violating Americans' constitutional rights. It was amended after 9/11 to make it even easier for the administration to do legally what it is now doing.
 
FISA does not in any way prevent Mr. Bush from spying on Qaeda members or other terrorists. The last thing the nation needs is to amend the law to institutionalize the imperial powers Mr. Bush seized after 9/11.
 
� 2006 The New York Times
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Connecting the Dots of Cheney's Crimes

Published on Friday, February 17, 2006, by The Nation 
by John Nichols
 
Goodness gracious! Could it be that comedians are doing a better job of connecting the dots regarding Dick Cheney's high crimes and misdemeanors than are the unintentionally ridiculous members of the White House press corps?
 
Huntergate is certainly worthy of coverage, especially now that the vice president has admitted to shooting while intoxicated. But the on-bended-knee "reporters" who hang around the briefing room waiting for a presidential spokesman to feed them their daily diet of spin look pretty absurd chasing after this particular story with so much gusto while they continue to ignore the big picture of Cheney's misuse of intelligence data before and after the invasion of Iraq and his role in schemes to punish critics of the administration.
 
If the Bush administration's court reporters are not quite up to the job of holding the vice president to account, however, the nation's fearless comedians are up to the task.
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Climate Change: On the Edge

Greenland Ice Cap Breaking Up at Twice the Rate It Was Five Years Ago, Says Scientist Bush Tried to Gag
Published on Friday, February 17, 2006, by the Independent/UK 
by Jim Hansen
 
A satellite study of the Greenland ice cap shows that it is melting far faster than scientists had feared - twice as much ice is going into the sea as it was five years ago. The implications for rising sea levels - and climate change - could be dramatic.
 
Yet, a few weeks ago, when I - a NASA climate scientist - tried to talk to the media about these issues following a lecture I had given calling for prompt reductions in the emission of greenhouse gases, the NASA public affairs team - staffed by political appointees from the Bush administration - tried to stop me doing so. I was not happy with that, and I ignored the restrictions. The first line of NASA 's mission is to understand and protect the planet.
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Judge Orders Spying Documents Released

Published on Friday, February 17, 2006 by the Associated Press
by Katherine Shrader
  
A federal judge ordered the Bush administration on Thursday to release documents about its warrantless surveillance program or spell out what it is withholding, a setback to efforts to keep the program under wraps.
 
At the same time, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said he had worked out an agreement with the White House to consider legislation and provide more information to Congress on the eavesdropping program. The panel's top Democrat, who has requested a full-scale investigation, immediately objected to what he called an abdication of the committee's responsibilities.
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gizmag Article: The toughest bus on the planet

heavily armoured Rhino Runner buses. Without a shadow of doubt, the Rhino Runner is the toughest bus on the planet ? when the human value of the cargo is V.I.P. and above, it is the military?s vehicle of choice to provide safe ground transportation. Regular users of the vehicle in Baghdad include U.S. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, General Dick Myers, Saddam Hussein and all other V.I.P. prisoners. The stories surrounding the massive attacks that Rhino Runners have withstood border on the preposterous.
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Bioterrorism, Hyped

Published on Friday, February 17, 2006, by the Los Angeles Times
by Milton Leitenberg
  
 
The United States has spent at least $33 billion since 2002 to combat the threat of biological terrorism. The trouble is, the risk that terrorists will use biological agents is being systematically and deliberately exaggerated. And the U.S. government has been using most of its money to prepare for the wrong contingency.
 
A pandemic flu outbreak of the kind the world witnessed in 1918-19 could kill hundreds of millions of people. The only lethal biological attack in the United States ? the anthrax mailings ? killed five. But the annual budget for combating bioterror is more than $7 billion, while Congress just passed a $3.8-billion emergency package to prepare for a flu outbreak.
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Talking Points Memo: This says it all

by Joshua Micah Marshall February 17, 2006 04:50 PM

a moment for the ages...

 see_with_your_own_eyes...CLICK_HERE

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

clear blue water

Ask Ann Coulter - Ask the White House - Submit Questions to Bush Administration Officials - WHITEHOUSE.ORG

In This Installment (02.10.2006):
 
ANN COULTER: PUBLIC REEDUCATION SPECIAL OPERATIVE
Prominent opinion-haver Ann Coulter first rose to red state stardom in the 1990s for her vivid, round-the-clock commentary on the #1 issue of concern to militantly heterosexual males: Bill Clinton's crooked penis. The apparently legitimate daughter of a renowned union-busting attorney and his stay-at-home Connecticut trophy vagina, Coulter works tirelessly to restore decorum and civility to cable news political discourse, and to promote understanding and unity amongst people of widely diverse strains of whiteness and right-wing demagoguery. While not technically a member of the Bush Administration, Miss Coulter nevertheless operates in near-supernatural synergy with the White House Communications Office. Special Operative Coulter is pleased to take your questions today ? right here on ASK THE WHITE HOUSE.
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Reason: The One On the Right Was On the Left...

The political puzzle of country music
Jesse Walker

The surprise tour of last year?a surprise, that is, to anyone whose worldview froze around 1970?was the series of concerts Bob Dylan did with Merle Haggard. In the last big culture war, Dylan was the guy who sang "You fasten the triggers/For the others to fire/Then you set back and watch/When the death count gets higher." Hag had a snappy number where he "read about some squirrelly guy who claims that he just don't believe in fightin'/And I wonder just how long the rest of us can count on bein' free." Put them together, and you get?
 
Apparently, you get kismet. In Rednecks & Bluenecks, an engaging expedition into the politics of country music, Entertainment Weekly's Chris Willman watches the pair play a date in Los Angeles. When Haggard asks everyone to sing along with his vintage hit for hippie-hating hardhats, "Okie from Muskogee," more than a few fans do, and "the singer reacts with mock alarm: 'This is Bob Dylan's audience! You're not supposed to be smoking?I mean singing?along with that!'"
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Is Kinky Friedman the Next Governor of Texas?

By:  Craig Shelburne
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Editor's note: The new CMT series Go Kinky premieres Friday (Feb. 17) at 11 p.m. ET/PT.
 
Kinky Friedman is running for governor of Texas -- seriously. Or maybe not seriously. It's hard to tell sometimes. First, he has to get on the ballot, which is extremely tricky for an independent candidate. In his race against incumbent Gov. Rick Perry, Friedman has to get 45,000 handwritten and verified signatures on a petition in just a matter of weeks, but only from those voters who choose to skip the upcoming primary.
 
Here, exactly as he said it, are Friedman's thoughts on a variety of topics, including apathy, Indian casinos and how Willie Nelson can help the state.
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You Might Own Guns And You Might Even Own Tanks

Published on Wednesday, February 15, 2006 by CommonDreams.org
by Christopher Cooper 
So Dick Cheney shot a guy in the face.
 
I know that looks terrible laid out there just that way, and probably there's not another newspaper in the United States that would lead with such a stark, untempered sentence, but in the few and fleeting years granted us on our cold, thin earth between bog and bedrock in this state that lies in so many ways beyond the main, we've learned to see clearly and speak directly. Simple, honest, declarative (and yes, Mr. White, mostly active voice) statements do sometimes startle.
 
But there it is, with all the sudden, knife-edge horror of ?His wife left him,? or ?He's drinking again,? or ?They starved their dogs,? or ?She tied her toddler to the furnace.? We're pretty judgmental, I know, but we hold ourselves to the same standards as our neighbors and though we falter, fail or fall short, we retain our right and duty to say what we see. Vice President Richard Cheney discharged a shotgun without making sure of his target and a man took a load of shot in his face.
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The Truthiness and Nothing But the Blah, Blah, Blah

Published on Wednesday, February 15, 2006 by CommonDreams.org 
by Johnny Boyd 
  
America has been subjected to more than our fair share of new words in the last few years. Stephen Colbert�s new word "truthiness" has made waves mainly because he�s been cannon-balling the kiddie pool to get credit from the American Dialect Society for coining it. Truthiness, according to Colbert, is a devotion to information that you wish were true even if it�s not like an evening of viewing Faux News.
 
My Webster�s (copyright 1970) doesn�t mention it as a word. Moreover, while writing this column Microsoft Word redlined it as misspelled. Of course, Microsoft Word is as stupid as Stephen Colbert�s show which, admittedly, I�m addicted to. Colbert�s contribution to the American lexicon might someday prove as popular as "brokeback," but it won�t win any Oscars. Heck, he can�t even get credit from the ADS.
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Bushies Seek to Revolutionize the Country the Wrong Way

Published on Wednesday, February 15, 2006 by the Madison Capital Times 
by Ed Garvey 
Perhaps there is an easy way to solve our nation's economic problems. Eliminate taxes for everyone earning over $100,000 per year and for all corporations? After all, we are told that those at the top of our economy create most of our jobs. If we eliminate their taxes, they will create more jobs.
 
Why not bar individuals from suing corporations? I recognize that the Chamber of Commerce and the Republican Party nationally, and the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce lobby group in our state, have already proposed something similar with a combination of tort reform, "tax limits" and the latest federal budget, but maybe we should not stop at halfway measures. Why not make it clear that corporations should have the same First Amendment rights as other citizens to contribute to campaigns?
 
Hell, if ExxonMobil makes a profit of $34 billion, why not let the company spend it any way it wants? It could pay for all our elections. ExxonMobil would make sure only those entitled to vote will get a ballot. It will pay for Accenture and Diebold to handle the balloting.
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Cheney, "A Beer or Two," and A Gun

Published on Wednesday, February 15, 2006 by The Nation 
by John Nichols 
Vice President Dick Cheney, who was forced to leave Yale University because his penchant for late-night beer drinking exceeded his devotion to his studies, and who is one of the small number of Americans who can count two drunk driving busts on his driving record, may have been doing more than hunting quail on the day that he shot a Texas lawyer in the face.
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BBC NEWS | Health | Alzheimer's 'faster in educated'

Alrighty, then. That's why I never went back to college, yup, uh huh, that's the ticket. --pseudolus
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Alzheimer's disease progresses more rapidly in highly educated people, research suggests.
 
It is thought high levels of education may ward off Alzheimer's by helping the brain better tolerate damaging changes.
 
But the latest study, involving 312 Alzheimer's patients, suggests once accumulated damage reaches a critical level, decline is relatively swift.
 
The study, by New York's Columbia University, features in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.
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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Ballot botch: Coulter votes in wrong precinct

By Jose Lambiet
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
 
She may be smart enough to earn millions from her acidic political barbs, but when it comes to something as simple as voting in her tiny hometown, hard-core conservative pundit Ann Coulter is a tad confused.
 
Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections records show Coulter voted last week in Palm Beach's council election. Problem is: She cast her ballot in a precinct 4 miles north of the precinct where she owns a home ? and that could be a big no-no.
 
Coulter, who owns a $1.8 million crib on Seabreeze Avenue, should have voted in Precinct 1198. It covers most homes on her street. Instead, records show, she voted in Precinct 1196, at the northern tip of the island.
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Delilah Boyd: 10 Ways Dick Cheney Can Kill You

Cheney Story Shows Hypocrisy On Leaks

Published on Tuesday, February 14, 2006 by the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Minnesota)
He used and abused intelligence at will, when it suited him
  
 
Vice President Dick Cheney has shown himself to be a walking calamity -- and we are not talking about his little accident in Texas. Far more serious is Cheney's cynical and selective use of classified material to advance his agenda for the invasion of Iraq and to undermine critics. A case in point came to light last week in a story by Murray Waas of the National Journal.
 
Looking through court documents, Waas found that Cheney's former chief of staff, Lewis Libby, told a grand jury investigating the unmasking of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame that Cheney authorized him to leak classified information to reporters -- in order to buttress the administration's disintegrating case for going to war in Iraq. Waas told another reporter that Libby testified that "he was authorized in a broader way by Cheney to go out and discredit Valerie Plame and [her husband] Joe Wilson" -- a former ambassador who had become an authoritative critic of the war.
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U.S. Instigated Iran's Nuclear Policy In the '70s

Published on Tuesday, February 14, 2006 by the Providence Journal (Rhode Island) 
by William O. Beeman
The White House staff members who are trying to prevent Iran from developing its own nuclear-energy capacity, and who refuse to take military action against Iran "off the table," have conveniently forgotten that the United States was the midwife to the Iranian nuclear program 30 years ago.
 
Every aspect of Iran's current nuclear development was approved and encouraged by Washington in the 1970s. President Gerald Ford offered Iran a full nuclear cycle in 1976. Moreover, the only Iranian reactor currently about to become operative -- the reactor in Bushire (also known as Bushehr) -- was started before the Iranian revolution with U.S. approval, and cannot produce weapons-grade plutonium.
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Can You Say "Permanent Bases"? The American Press Can't

Published on Tuesday, February 14, 2006 by Tom Dispatch 
by Tom Engelhardt
  
We're in a new period in the war in Iraq -- one that brings to mind the Nixonian era of "Vietnamization": A President presiding over an increasingly unpopular war that won't end; an election bearing down; the need to placate a restive American public; and an army under so much strain that it seems to be running off the rails. So it's not surprising that the media is now reporting on administration plans for, or "speculation" about, or "signs of," or "hints" of "major draw-downs" or withdrawals of American troops. The figure regularly cited these days is less than 100,000 troops in Iraq by the end of 2006. With about 136,000 American troops there now, that figure would represent just over one-quarter of all in-country U.S. forces, which means, of course, that the term "major" certainly rests in the eye of the beholder.
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U.S. Has Royalty Plan to Give Windfall to Oil Companies - New York Times

By EDMUND L. ANDREWS
 
WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 ? The federal government is on the verge of one of the biggest giveaways of oil and gas in American history, worth an estimated $7 billion over five years.
 
New projections, buried in the Interior Department's just-published budget plan, anticipate that the government will let companies pump about $65 billion worth of oil and natural gas from federal territory over the next five years without paying any royalties to the government.
 
Based on the administration figures, the government will give up more than $7 billion in payments between now and 2011. The companies are expected to get the largess, known as royalty relief, even though the administration assumes that oil prices will remain above $50 a barrel throughout that period.
 
Administration officials say that the benefits are dictated by laws and regulations that date back to 1996, when energy prices were relatively low and Congress wanted to encourage more exploration and drilling in the high-cost, high-risk deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
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To Mr. Cheney (and every Bushevik clown who dismissed this as "the victim's fault")

A Father's Advice 
If a sportsman true you?d be
Listen carefully to me. . .
 
Never, never let your gun
Pointed be at anyone.
That it may unloaded be
Matters not the least to me.
 
When a hedge or fence you cross
Though of time it cause a loss
From your gun the cartridge take
For the greater safety?s sake.
 
If twixt you and neighboring gun
Bird shall fly or beast may run
Let this maxim ere be thine
?Follow not across the line.?
 
Stops and beaters oft unseen
Lurk behind some leafy screen.
Calm and steady always be
?Never shoot where you can?t see.?
 
You may kill or you may miss
But at all times think this:
?All the pheasants ever bred
Won?t repay for one man dead.?
 
"Early Instruction"
  
 
  Written by Mark Beaufoy of Coombe House, Shaftesbury, Dorset, England, in 1902, on presenting his eldest son, Henry Mark, with his first gun.

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Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF Challenges Clear Channel Recording Patent
Illegitimate Patent Locks In Artists and Threatens Innovators
SAN FRANCISCO - February 14 - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a challenge Tuesday to an illegitimate patent from Clear Channel Communications. The patent -- for a system and method of creating digital recordings of live performances -- locks musical acts into using Clear Channel technology and blocks innovations by others.
 
Clear Channel claims that its patent creates a monopoly on all-in-one technologies that produce post-concert live recordings on digital media and has threatened to sue anyone who makes such recordings with a different system. This has forced bands like the Pixies into using Clear Channel's proprietary technology, and it hurts investment and innovation in new systems developed by other companies.
 
"Clear Channel shouldn't be able to intimidate artists with bogus intellectual property," said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. "We hope the Patent Office will take a hard look at Clear Channel's patent and agree that it should be revoked."
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Why We Need An Independent War Profiteering Commission

Published on Tuesday, February 14, 2006 by The Nation 
by Katrina vanden Heuvel
  
On Sunday night, Sixty Minutes aired an important story exposing Iraqi war profiteering that has stolen billions, crippled reconstruction and put the lives of troops at fatal risk.
 
As Steve Kroft reported, "The United States has spent over $1/4 trillion in three years in Iraq and more than 50 billion of it has gone to private contractors, hired to guard bases, drive trucks and shelter the troops and rebuild the country." This money, more than the annual budget of the Department of Homeland Security, "has been handed out to companies in Iraq with little or no oversight. Millions of dollars are unaccounted for. And there are widespread allegations of waste, fraud and war profiteering." The segment focused on a company called Custer Battles, which is the subject of a civil lawsuit that goes to trial today.
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ACLU of Ohio Demands Schools Stop Teaching Intelligent Design as Science

 TOLEDO, Ohio - February 14 - The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio today sent a letter to the Toledo Public Schools demanding that they cease allowing staff to teach intelligent design in science classrooms throughout the district.
 
"Intelligent design has been proven to be nothing more than a thin cover for those who wish to teach creationism, a faith-based idea of human origins endorsed by certain Christian denominations, in science classes," said ACLU of Ohio Legal Director Jeffrey Gamso. "While people have a right to teach their religious beliefs to others in churches, mosques, synagogues and private schools, public schools should not be used by people to teach their personal religious beliefs to other people's children."
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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

CorpWatch�:�Baghdad Embassy Bonanza

Kuwait Company?s Secret Contract & Low-Wage Labor
by David Phinney, Special to CorpWatch
February 12th, 2006
A controversial Kuwait-based construction firm accused of exploiting employees and coercing low-paid laborers to work in war-town Iraq is now building the new $592-million U.S. embassy in Baghdad. Once completed, the compound will likely be the biggest, most fortified diplomatic compound in the world.
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Joystick vs. Jihad - The temptation of remote-controlled killing. By William Saletan

ENDER'S GAME, It's not just science fiction anymore, or not for long. --pseudolus
-----------------------
...Reluctance to kill was a big problem in World War II. By one military estimate, fewer than one in four American riflemen in combat pulled the trigger, and "fear of killing rather than fear of being killed was the most common cause." The Army tried to solve this problem by making its training exercises feel more like real combat. But what if we could do the opposite? What if we could make combat seem unreal? What if we could turn it into a video game?
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Defense Tech: Air Force Plan: Hack Your Nervous System

This is the first of a two-part series on plasma and electromagnetic weapons by David Hambling, author of Weapons Grade: How Modern Warfare Gave Birth to Our High-Tech World.
 
The brain has always been a battlefield. New weapons might be able to hack directly into your nervous system.
 
"Controlled Effects" (see image, right) is one of the Air Force?s ambitious long-term challenges. It starts with better and more accurate bombs, but moves on to discuss devices that "make selected adversaries think or act according to our needs... By studying and modeling the human brain and nervous system, the ability to mentally influence or confuse personnel is also possible."
 
The first stage is technology to ?remotely create physical sensations.? They give the example of the Active Denial System "people zapper" which uses a high-frequency radiation similar to microwaves as a non-lethal means of crowd control.
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Revealed: Murdoch's growing adult television empire

By Rupert Steiner - City Editor
12 February 2006
 
RUPERT Murdoch, the born-again Christian who chairs media giant News Corporation, has been secretly building a stable of wholly-owned pornographic channels for his BSkyB subsidiary. The Business has learnt that BSkyB now owns and operates its own pornographic channels ? the 18+ Movies selection ? after years of hosting third-party content only.
 
Historically BSkyB, under its licence agreement, had no choice but to host every channel that won permission from the industry regulator Ofcom. The regulator agrees a fixed fee for the use of the platform by third parties. But BSkyB has been secretly expanding its activities in the growing business of pornographic television with its wholly owned 18+ Movies offering. The company has also been entering into partnerships with companies that broadcast pornographic television channels on BSkyB, such as Sport XXX Babes, XXX Housewive and Playboy.
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Rumsfeld and Cheney Revive Their 70's Terror Playbook

Published on Monday, February 13, 2006 by CommonDreams.org 
by Thom Hartmann
  
Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney are at it again.
 
Last week, Rumsfeld told the press we should be preparing for "the Long War," saying of the war this administration has stirred up with its attack on Iraq that, "Just as the Cold War lasted a long time, this war is something that is not going to go away."
 
The last time Rumsfeld talked like this was in the 1970s, in response to the danger of peace presented by Richard Nixon.
 
In 1972, President Richard Nixon returned from the Soviet Union with a treaty worked out by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the beginning of a process Kissinger called "d�tente." On June 1, 1972, Nixon gave a speech in which he said:
"Last Friday, in Moscow, we witnessed the beginning of the end of that era which began in 1945. With this step, we have enhanced the security of both nations. We have begun to reduce the level of fear, by reducing the causes of fear?for our two peoples, and for all peoples in the world."
 
But Nixon left amid scandal and Ford came in, and Ford's Secretary of Defense (Donald Rumsfeld) and Chief of Staff (Dick Cheney) believed it was intolerable that Americans might no longer be bound by fear. Without fear, how could Americans be manipulated? And how could billions of dollars taken as taxes from average working people be transferred to the companies that Rumsfeld and Cheney - and their cronies - would soon work for and/or run?
 
Rumsfeld and Cheney began a concerted effort - first secretly and then openly - to undermine Nixon's treaty for peace and to rebuild the state of fear.
 
They did it by claiming that the Soviets had a new secret weapon of mass destruction that the president didn't know about, that the CIA didn't know about, that nobody knew about but them. It was a nuclear submarine technology that was undetectable by current American technology. And, they said, because of this and related-undetectable-technology weapons, the US must redirect billions of dollars away from domestic programs and instead give the money to defense contractors for whom these two men would one day work or have businesses relationships with.
 
The CIA strongly disagreed, calling Rumsfeld's position a "complete fiction" and pointing out that the Soviet Union was disintegrating from within, could barely afford to feed their own people, and would collapse within a decade or two if simply left alone.
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Joke-of-the-day

Three Texas surgeons were playing golf together and discussing surgeries they had performed.

One of them said, "I'm the best surgeon in Texas. In my favorite case, a concert pianist lost seven fingers in an accident, I reattached them, and 8 months later he performed a private concert for the Queen of England.

The second surgeon said. "That's nothing. A young man lost an arm and both legs in an accident, I reattached them, and 2 years later he won a gold medal in track and field events in the Olympics."

The third surgeon said, "You guys are amateurs. Several years ago an ugly dwarf was high on cocaine, marijuana and whiskey. He rode a horse head-on into a train traveling 80 miles an hour. All I had left to work with was the dwarf�s legs and the horse's ass. I was able to put them together and now he�s President of the United States, but he is deathly afraid of horses to this day.

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Monday, February 13, 2006

Poll: What will be official WH explanation of shooting incident ?

 
Bob Harris [said]:
How will the White House explain Dick Cheney shooting a guy in the face?

Usually the polls on my site are pretty facetious, but for once I'm actually half-serious. Will it be:

a) Washington, Lincoln, and Roosevelt all shot guys in the face, too
b) The Patriot Act gives Cheney the legal authority to shoot guys in the face
c) The victim's face was harboring Al-Qaeda's #3 man, or
d) If you're innocent, you shouldn't mind a shotgun blast to the face

Some of the explanations we're hearing already have hints of one or two of these.

posted by Bob Harris at 12:54 PM | link

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Some Analysis of the Cheney Shooting Incident

Reddhedd at FiredogLake has some anaylsis here. Yeah, it's hand-off by distant people, but if Frist can analyze folks from a distance and only via video recording, then anything is fair game. --pseudolus
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VA Nurse Investigated for "Sedition" for Criticizing Bush

Published on Friday, February 10, 2006 by the Progressive
by Matthew Rothschild
Laura Berg is a clinical nurse specialist at the VA Medical Center in Albuquerque, where she has worked for 15 years.
 
Shortly after Katrina, she wrote a letter to the editor of the weekly paper the Alibi criticizing the Bush Administration.
 
After the paper published the letter in its September 15-21 issue, VA administrators seized her computer, alleged that she had written the letter on that computer, and accused her of ?sedition.?
 
Here?s what her letter said.
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The Permanent Energy Crisis

Published on Friday, February 10, 2006 by TomDispatch.com
by Michael T. Klare
  
President Bush's State of the Union comment that the United States is "addicted to oil" can be read as pure political opportunism. With ever more Americans expressing anxiety about high oil prices, freakish weather patterns, and abiding American ties to unsavory foreign oil potentates, it is hardly surprising that Bush sought to portray himself as an advocate of the development of alternative energy systems. But there is another, more ominous way to read his comments: that top officials have come to realize that the United States and the rest of the world face a new and growing danger ? a permanent energy crisis that imperils the health and well-being of every society on earth.
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A 'Long War' Designed to Perpetuate Itself

Published on Friday, February 10, 2006 by the International Herald Tribune
by William Pfaff  
 
Paris -- The U.S. Defense Department and the White House have decided that the United States is now conducting "the Long War" rather than what previously was known as the War against Terror, then as the Global Struggle against Violent Extremism, and briefly - as one revealing Pentagon study described it - a war against "the Universal Adversary."
 
President George W. Bush said in his State of the Union address last month that the aim of his administration is to defeat radical Islam. This was a preposterous statement. Shortly afterward, radical Islam began burning embassies from Afghanistan and Indonesia to Damascus and Beirut. The United States is not going to defeat that.
 
There are a great many dismaying aspects of Bush's Washington, but nothing more so than this combination of the unachievable with the hortatory in giving a name and purpose to the military campaigns that already have the U.S. Army and Marine Corps near exhaustion, and a major part of the world in turmoil.
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Muzzled by Bush: A Distinction or Disgrace?

Published on Saturday, February 11, 2006 by CommonDreams.org 
by Christopher Brauchli
We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty.
-- Edward R. Murrow, 1954 comment on Joe McCarthy
 
Some are fired. Some are simply muzzled. When considering whether those events are a distinction or a disgrace the question that must be asked is "Who did it?" If it's George W. Bush it's a distinction. And so James E. Hansen joins Glen Hubbard, Paul O'Neill, Lawrence Greenfield, Brian Steidle, Susan Wood and a host of others who have been muzzled or fired for failing to promulgate or for exposing Bush lies.
 
Glen Hubbard was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors. Before the Iraq war started George Bush and his lying cronies told the world the war would cost $50 billion. Mr. Hubbard said the war would cost $200 billion. They were both wrong. To date the war has cost more than $238 billion and the cost goes up by the minute. Mr. Hubbard was fired.
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A Sheep-Like Nation is Allowing Bush to Erode Our Liberties and Well-Being

Published on Sunday, February 12, 2006 by the Asheville Citizen Times (North Carolina) 
by Bruce Mulkey
?If this were a dictatorship, it?d be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I?m the dictator.?
? President George W. Bush, Dec. 18, 2000
 
?As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air ? however slight ? lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.?
? Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas
 
What is it going to take for the American people to wake up to the presidential coup d?�tat that is now under way, a takeover that is occurring in broad daylight by a president who has declared that as commander in chief he has unfettered power to fight an undeclared and never-ending war on terrorism, even if that means ignoring the courts, disregarding laws passed by Congress and circumventing the Bill of Rights in the process?
 
First the Bush administration rams through the so-called Patriot Act in the hysteria immediately following Sept. 11, 2001, legislation that includes the infamous ?sneak and peak? provision. Then they usurp the power of the Senate (though our senators didn?t put up much of a fuss) and use fabricated intelligence to initiate a pre-emptive war against a nonaggressive nation. Next this administration decides that it can detain foreign (and several domestic) adversaries as ?illegal enemy combatants? without charge for as long as it desires. After that, it chooses to authorize torture of selected prisoners under the designation of ?enhanced interrogation techniques.? Now we discover the Bush administration has used the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on telephone conversations and e-mails of U.S. citizens on American soil without a warrant and that several other government agencies have been illegally tracking our computer activities.
 
If the president has the unfettered power that he and his acolytes proclaim, what is the logical next step? Dissolving Congress should it endeavor to forestall his illegal activities? Packing the Supreme Court with his supporters should it declare some of his actions unconstitutional? Proclaiming times so dangerous that he must remain in office even after his term is over?
 
And if he did so, would we finally revolt against this King George as we did against another during the first American Revolution?
 
I awaken many mornings asking myself: ?Why haven?t I taken to the streets with my fellow citizens demanding the resignation of this pretender to the throne?? ?How can I go about my usual daily routine, while my country gradually slides into fascism in the name of national security?? ?What am I so fearful of that I stand immobilized while innocent men, women and children are being killed in my name?? ?How can I, in good conscience, continue to pay my federal taxes knowing that a large portion of them is going to the immoral war in Iraq and other such military adventures??
 
In 1775, speaking in favor of action to throw off the tyranny of the British crown, Patrick Henry declared: ?Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? ... I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!?
 
Today we Americans seem to be saying quite the opposite by our acquiescence: ?Give me a powerful ruler to save me from the terrorists even if this means surrendering my rights as an American citizen.?
 
From where I stand, there are worse things than passing from this mortal form. For if I permit the loss of my individual freedom, my personal integrity and the liberties that this nation stands for, am I not already among the living dead?
 
Bruce Mulkey is an Asheville writer and a communications consultant. A former community columnist for the Asheville Citizen-Times, a collection of his commentaries have been published in ?Peaceful Patriots: Taking a Stand for Peace in an Era of Endless War,? now available in paperback at www.brucemulkey.com or Malaprops. Email to: bruce@brucemulkey.com.
 
� 2006 The Citizen Times
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The Trust Gap - New York Times

Published: February 12, 2006
 
We can't think of a president who has gone to the American people more often than George W. Bush has to ask them to forget about things like democracy, judicial process and the balance of powers ? and just trust him. We also can't think of a president who has deserved that trust less.
 
This has been a central flaw of Mr. Bush's presidency for a long time. But last week produced a flood of evidence that vividly drove home the point.
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The Secret FISA Court: Rubber Stamping Our Rights [Free Republic]

This is an example of what the rightwingers at Free Republic thought of the FISA court and wiretapping provisions back when Clinton was LEGALLY using it. You may need your Lysol and rubber gloves. --pseudolus
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Bush Admin. spent over $1.6 Billion on advertising and P.R. since 2003, GAO finds

Today Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Rep. George Miller, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, and other senior Democrats released a new Government Accountability Office report finding that the Bush Administration spent more than $1.6 billion in public relations and media contracts in a two and a half year span.
 
"The government is spending over a billion dollars per year on PR and advertising," said Rep. Waxman. "Careful oversight of this spending is essential given the track record of the Bush Administration, which has used taxpayer dollars to fund covert propaganda within the United States."
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United Nuclear - Aerogel - STRANGE STUFF

Aerogel is made from Silicon Dioxide, the same material as ordinary Glass,
only 1,000 times less dense.
 
  Aerogel (also called 'frozen smoke' because of its hazy blue appearance), is a truly remarkable material.
It is the lightest and lowest-density solid known to exist, and holds an unbelievable 15 entries in the Guinness Book of World  Records, including best insulator and lowest density solid.
Aerogel is composed of 99.8% air and is chemically similar to ordinary glass.
 
Being the world's lightest known solid, it weighs only three times that of air.
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Lileks Watch

 
From James Lileks "THE BLEAT" of 02-13-2006

...Obligatory distancing: So Ann Coulter called Arabs "ragheads" and made some Shocking Jokes about poisoning Supreme Court justices who were insufficiently Coulteresque in their opinions. [This time she 'joked' about killing a President, LAST time it was killing a Supreme Court Justice. So disingenuous of you to misstate the case. So typical of folks who wish to make an argument fall their way, they can "mis-speak" then go all 'apologetic' if someone calls them on it, but no one ever does, at least not in the same forum that the original claim was made, so it might as well never have been 'corrected'. What kind of fuss do you suppose would be made by the right wing if it was a 'lefty' joking about killing Bush? Remember the tirades we were all treated to when Whoopi joked about Bush's name, not murder, but his name?--pseudolus] Fine. Be that way. I wouldn't bring it up, but every time I mention some peculiar utterance of people with whom I disagree, I get email saying "what about Ann Coulter?" Well, what about her? Call me when she sits next to GW 41 at the next GOP convention. [Again, very slick of you James, nice strawman. No, she hasn't been invited to sit next to Bush 41 or 43 (not GW 41, you dumby) but she WAS given a cover on Time magazine. She IS invited onto every talking head pundit rant-o-rama show on TV. She DOES get to pontificate on FOX and CNN on a pretty regular basis. She GETS her raving nutbar essays published in many print and on-line rightwing echo chambers. She is given WAY too much credibility by rightwing flacks, and no one on the right is ever called upon to denounce her, like Barack Obama was picked by Russert to comment upon Harry Belafonte.--pseudolus] I suspect the remarks were made with the usual acidic sarcasm [Oh great, the "Don Rickles" defense. --pseudolus], which is why they trouble me less than some of the counterpart pronouncements whose speakers seem rather agitated and furious and regard their fury as prima facie evidence of their sentiment's correctness. But if they trouble me less, it's not by much.


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Sunday, February 12, 2006

KT Tunstall

 
 Posted by Picasa

Wow! The local AAA radio station has been playing her "Black Horse And The Cherry Tree" for a few weeks or months now, I forget when I first heard it. We seem to be a year behind the curve here in Maine...ahh that rustic pace. Maine, The Way Life Should Be! �

I finally checked into it further and am pleased to say this album is terrific! Funk, folk, lush warm vocals wonderful songwriting, just an overall joy of an album.
She's very talented and usually plays solo or with a minimal backing band. She uses a loop machine to record a few seconds of herself drumming a rhythm on her hollow body guitar, or singing a bit for a chorus (woo hoo...) then playing the loops back as she sings and plays guitar. There are traces of Bonnie Raitt, Rickie Lee Jones and others in her music, but she definitely has a voice of her own, too.

(Click on main title above to view Wikipedia entry.)

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Capitol Hill Blue: Guns don't shoot people. Vice Presidents shoot people

Guns don't shoot people. Vice Presidents shoot people
By Staff and Wire Reports
Feb 12, 2006, 17:32
    Vice President Dick Cheney, a darling of the National Rifle Association and a strong advocate of guns and hunting, shot and injured a man during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas.
    Harry Whittington, 78, was "alert and doing fine" after Cheney sprayed him with shotgun pellets on         Saturday while the two were hunting at the Armstrong Ranch in south Texas, said property owner Katharine Armstrong.
    Armstrong said Whittington was mostly injured on his right side, with the pellets hitting his cheek, neck and chest, and was taken to the hospital by ambulance.
    Whittington was in stable condition Sunday, said Yvonne Wheeler, spokeswoman for the Christus Spohn Health System.
    Cheney's spokeswoman, Lea Anne McBride, said the vice president was with Whittington, a lawyer from Austin, Texas, and his wife at the hospital on Sunday afternoon.
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SCANDAL FATIGUE, CATNIP & THE 'ANGRY' LEFT:

by Peter Daou -The Daou Report - Salon
 
...A few months ago, Steve Benen, Carpetbagger and DR guest-poster, wrote a fascinating blog entry that chronicled a series of Bush-related scandals .... all of which had occurred in the space of a week. In that regard, glance around this site today. You'll find an over-abundance of stories that undermine the credibility and integrity of our current administration and of the party in power. This coincides with a recent wave of references to the "angry" left, as though anger at the apathy of the media, the political establishment and much of the public in the face of this cavalcade of scandals is somehow in bad taste.
 

Take a look:
 
Ex-CIA Official Faults Use of Data on Iraq
Paper: White House Knew About Levees Early
McClellan Confronted With Abramoff Emails
Waas's New Scoop: Cheney 'Authorized' Libby to Leak Classified Information
Chief FISA judge warned about misuse of NSA spy data
House majority leader's landlord is a lobbyist
Republican Who Oversees N.S.A. Calls for Wiretap Inquiry
Bush's Budget Tricks
John Dickerson Speaks...And Drops Some Plamegate Bombshells
Bush's Social Security Sleight of Hand
Tom DeLay to Oversee Justice Department
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