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 25, 2006

Unitarian Jihad Manifesto

Jon Carrol - April 8, 2005
 
The following is the first communique from a group calling itself Unitarian Jihad. It was sent to me at The Chronicle via an anonymous spam remailer. I have no idea whether other news organizations have received this communique, and, if so, why they have not chosen to print it. Perhaps they fear starting a panic. I feel strongly that the truth, no matter how alarming, trivial or disgusting, must always be told. I am pleased to report that the words below are at least not disgusting:
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Secret Again - The absurd scheme to reclassify documents. By Fred Kaplan

By Fred Kaplan
Posted Thursday, Feb. 23, 2006, at 7:00 PM ET
 
Those who control the past control the future, Orwell famously wrote in 1984. In the realm of national-security policy, the battle for this control is heating up.
 
The latest skirmish started last December, when an independent scholar named Matthew Aid went to the National Archives to re-examine some declassified documents that he'd copied several months earlier and learned that they'd been removed from the public shelves and reclassified.
 
Looking into the matter further, he discovered that, over the last five years, in a program that itself has been a secret, U.S. military and intelligence agencies have reclassified 9,500 documents, constituting more than 55,000 pages, some of them dating back to World War II. And that's just so far. The program under which they've been doing this?which has never been authorized or funded by Congress?is scheduled to continue until at least March 2007.
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Calling All Wingnuts

Interesting new blog here. This guy takes it upon himself to call in to rightwing radio shows and challenge the hosts. He includes links to recordings of the calls. Check it out.
 
<URL: http://www.callingallwingnuts.com/ >

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Friday Semi-Regular "Nudie" Show - Beautiful!

  Posted by Picasa

a Japanese Nudebranch a.k.a "Sea Slug"

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xymphora: The hypocritic method

Bush's handlers had a big problem as he prepared for his reelection run. He had hoovered so much up his nose during the early 1970's that the earth's surface in Colombia had risen a few inches due to the loss of weight of all the cocaine. This drug use meant that he was unable to risk taking drug tests, which meant that he had to go AWOL on his military service, which meant he didn't go to Vietnam. This wasn't a problem when he was running against Gore - the completely compliant press went along with the Bush cover-up of his drug use - but it was a real problem in dealing with John Kerry. How does a guy like Bush run to be Commander-in-Chief against a war hero in the same war in which he couldn't fight because he was too coked up?
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Cheney's Coup: A 3-Year-Old Executive Order That Vastly Expanded His Powers Illuminates How the Vice President and His Minions Led Us Into War

Published on Thursday, February 23, 2006 by Salon
by Sidney Blumenthal
 
After shooting Austin lawyer Harry Whittington, Dick Cheney's immediate impulse was to control the intelligence. Rather than call the president directly, he ordered an aide to inform White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card that there had been an accident but not that Cheney was its cause. Then a host of surrogates attacked the victim for not steering clear of Cheney when he was firing. Cheney attempted to defuse the subsequent furor by giving an interview to friendly Fox News. His most revealing answer came in response to a question about something other than the hunting accident.
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Big Oil Fan after Little Man

Published on Thursday, February 23, 2006 by the New York Daily News 
by Juan Gonzalez
 
Rep. Joe Barton, the powerful Texas Republican who is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, launched a bizarre investigation last week into possible antitrust violations by a major oil company.
 
You will be surprised to learn that Barton, one of the top recipients in Congress of campaign donations from the energy industry, is not probing whether ExxonMobil or Chevron or any of the other oil giants engaged in price gouging when gasoline and heating oil costs skyrocketed the past few years.
 
No, the good congressman has set his sights on the only oil company that actually dared to lower its prices last year - at least for the poorest Americans.
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The Pencil Warrior: Lewis Powell's Memorandum Was A Blueprint for Corporate Takeover

Published on Thursday, February 23, 2006 by CommonDreams.org 
by Dave Wheelock
 
The bumper sticker has growing relevance: "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." As many corporations report record profits and our president announces with a straight face the economy is sound, the gap between the very rich and the rest of us continues to widen, the number of U.S. citizens without health insurance passes 45 million (equivalent to the populations of the eight northeastern states), and the level of American jobs outsourced to cheap labor markets worldwide reaches farther up into the middle class. For the first time in generations the economic outlook of our children is dimmer than that of their parents.
 
Amongst corporate media, no one said boo about all this until Hurricane Katrina smashed through the fa�ade to ask her own questions. The Abramoff scandals will provide further illustration of how far the organized accumulation of money has come in hijacking our democratic ideals. It?s time for some history you didn?t hear in school.
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The Rule of Law versus The Rule of Cheney

Published on Thursday, February 23, 2006 by The Nation 
by John Nichols 
 
In the moment of executive excess, when abuses of the powers of the presidency and -- thanks to Dick Cheney's contributions to the crisis -- the vice presidency are so threatening to the Republic, it is important to remember that this is not a new fight. Cheney was the prime defender of the "right" of the executive branch to disregard Congress and the Constitution during the Iran-Contra scandal of the late 1980s, contributing a chilling dissent to the bipartisan Congressional report that accused the Reagan administration of "secrecy, deception and disdain for the law."
 
In that dissent, the man who then represented Wyoming in the House chastised Congress for "abusing its power" by seeking to limit the ability of the president and his aides to spend money as they chose in support of the Nicaraguan Contras. "Congress must recognize that effective foreign policy requires, and the Constitution mandates, the President to be the country's foreign policy leader," argued Cheney, it what remains one of history's most dramatic misreads of the Constitutional mandates with regard to the Constitutional system of checks and balances.
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Writers Block Live � Blog Archive � The HD Boycott Begins Now

This is important. I really want you to understand what?s going on with the video industry?s push towards HD. They are engineering a complete removal of the concept of fair use. They are setting up systems that will completely control how, when and where you can use content that you buy. Even worse, they can retroactively change the rules!
 
Today the AACS (aggressive automatic consumer screwing) organization announced availability of the interim version of their system for protecting content providers from their criminal customers. Their noble intentions are pretty well summed up in this choice excerpt:
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"PC Wizard" - free PC analysis and benchmark suite from CPUID.COM

I used to use "Aida" and "Aida32" until they were discontinued and they recommended "Everest" instead. This worked very well and is still a great program for PCs. But now they have moved to a pay-for-it basis. So I had to find something for free (I am a cheap bastard!). Well this one looks like a more than adequate replacement. There is a "no install" version that you can just unzip and run from any local drive (great to carry around on a flash drive) but it won't keep any settings that you may change. And there is a "full install" version that will do just that. They also have a few other sweet tools for all you PC tweakers out there. Check them out! --pseudolus
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Since 1996 PC WIZARD is among the most advanced system information programs on the market. PC WIZARD 2006 is a powerful utility designed especially for detection of hardware, but also some more analysis. It's able to identify a large scale of system components and supports the latest technologies and standards. This tool is periodically updated (usually once per month) in order to provide most accurate results. PC WIZARD 2006 is also an utility designed to analyze and benchmark your computer system. It can analyze and benchmark many kinds of hardware, such as CPU performance, Cache performance, RAM performance, Hard Disk performance, CD/DVD-ROM performance, Removable/FLASH Media performance, Video performance, MP3 compression performance. PC WIZARD 2006 can be distributed freely (ftp, archives, CD-ROMs...).
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Friday Night "Foobar" Blogging

0001. Kaki King - [Everybody Loves You #05] Happy as a Dead Pig in the Sun
0002. The Hellecasters - [Escape From Hollywood #04] Son Becomes Father
0003. Jello Biafra & Mojo Nixon With - [Prairie Home Invasion #04] Atomic Power
0004. Wes Jeans - [Hands On #04] Use What You Got
0005. Cocteau Twins - [Victorialand #05] Oomingmak
0006. Everything But the Girl - [Amplified Heart #02] Troubled Mind
0007. Patti Scialfa - [23rd Street Lullaby #03] Rose
0008. Chumbawamba - [Un #02] Just Desserts
0009. The Farmers - [Loaded #05] Shadows of Glory
0010. Manic Street Preachers - [Know You're Enemy [192K] #16] Freedom Of Speech Won't Feed My Children
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What the heck is "foobar"?? - click me for the info

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Did the Bush administration "authorize" the leak of classified information to Bob Woodward?

 And did those leaks damage national security?
 
The vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) made exactly that charge tonight in a letter to John Negroponte, the Director of National Intelligence. What prompted Rockefeller to write Negroponte was a recent op-ed in the New York Times by CIA director Porter Goss complaining that leaks of classified information were the fault of ?misguided whistleblowers.?
 
Rockefeller charged in his letter that the most ?damaging revelations of intelligence sources and methods are generated primarily by Executive Branch officials pushing a particular policy, and not by the rank-and-file employees of intelligence agencies.?
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Quantum computer solves problem without running | The Register

Paradox
By John Leyden
Published Thursday 23rd February 2006 20:53 GMT
A quantum computer at a US University has solved a computational problem without running a program. Scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign gleaned the answer to an algorithm by combining quantum computation and quantum interrogation (a technique that makes use of wave-particle duality to search a region of space without actually entering that region) in an optical-based quantum computer through a process called "counterfactual computation".
 
"It seems absolutely bizarre that counterfactual computation ? using information that is counter to what must have actually happened ? could find an answer without running the entire quantum computer," said Paul Kwiat, a John Bardeen Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics at Illinois. "But the nature of quantum interrogation makes this amazing feat possible."
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Learning To Love Bacteria

by Staff Writers
Stanford CA (SPX) Feb 23, 2006
Bacteria are bad. Mothers and doctors, not to mention the cleaning product industry, repeatedly warn of their dangers. But a Stanford University School of Medicine microbiologist is raising the intriguing idea that persistent bacterial and viral infections have benefits.
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UAE terminal takeover extends to >> 21 ports __ NOT 6!

By PAMELA HESS
UPI Pentagon Correspondent
 
WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- A United Arab Emirates government-owned company is poised to take over port terminal operations in 21 American ports, far more than the six widely reported.
 
The Bush administration has approved the takeover of British-owned Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co. to DP World, a deal set to go forward March 2 unless Congress intervenes.
 
P&O is the parent company of P&O Ports North America, which leases terminals for the import and export and loading and unloading and security of cargo in 21 ports, 11 on the East Coast, ranging from Portland, Maine to Miami, Florida, and 10 on the Gulf Coast, from Gulfport, Miss., to Corpus Christi, Texas, according to the company's Web site.
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LiveScience.com - Scientists Promote Benefits of Black Magic Soil

By Corey Binns
Special to LiveScience
posted: 22 February 2006
11:14 am ET
 

ST LOUIS?Black soil created by humans long ago could brighten the future of modern farming and help curb global warming.
 
The dark earth, called terra preta, was produced by Amazonian people who slowly burned their waste by smoldering it, thousands of years ago.
 
Archaeologists from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil believe this soil was never used or intended for farming purposes by early Amazonian populations, but scientists have found it to be highly fertile. Today, Amazonian farmers reap the benefits of this carbon-rich soil.
 
"These indigenous people were not farmers. The potential has just been lying in the soil waiting for modern farmers to discover it," archaeologist Eduardo Goes Neves told LiveScience.
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NATIONAL JOURNAL: TIA Lives On (02/23/2006)

By Shane Harris, National Journal
� National Journal Group Inc.
Thursday, Feb. 23, 2006
 
A controversial counter-terrorism program, which lawmakers halted more than two years ago amid outcries from privacy advocates, was stopped in name only and has quietly continued within the intelligence agency now fending off charges that it has violated the privacy of U.S. citizens.
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get some some sub-woofer action, man!

When hearing that earthquake just isn't enough, you have to 'feel it'!
 
see_it,_believe_it!...CLICK_HERE

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | Time out of mind

By Annabel Gillings
Time, BBC Four
 
We can't touch time, or smell it. Yet it is utterly inescapable. But, research shows, time is - at least partly - something we control in our heads.
 
It's four in the morning, and schoolgirl Bethany McQuerry is starting her homework. Her dad, Clay, does the family's washing before going to the 24-hour supermarket. Meanwhile, Bethany's mum and brother, Janelle and Casey, sleep on.
 
But Bethany is no swot and Clay is no housework obsessive. They just wake up early every single day, whether they like it or not - it's as if they have permanent jet lag.
 
Bethany and Clay have to get things done early in the morning, because they also fall asleep in the early evening. The difference in timekeeping has divided the family, from North Carolina, US.
 
"There have been times when I wished we would function the same as other families," says Janelle. "It does make it hard when you're wanting to be together."
 
Only recently did Clay discover there was a biological explanation for his and Bethany's unusual behaviour, known as ASPS, or Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome - a disorder of the body clock that shifts their day forward.
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AlterNet: Who's Counting Bush's Mistakes?

By Stephen Pizzo, News for Real
Posted on February 20, 2006, Printed on February 23, 2006
 
Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best, "The louder he spoke of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons." And no administration in U.S. history has spoken louder, or as often, of its honor.
 
So let us count our spoons...
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War in Error - Sending a general to do a sheriff's job

By Andrew J. Bacevich - amconmag.com

Small events sometimes reveal large truths. Last month?s U.S. missile strike in the remote Bajaur district of Pakistan was such an event. Aimed at taking out Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden?s chief deputy, the strike missed its intended target and killed as many as 18 residents of the small village of Damadola. But the episode did not end there: outraged Pakistanis rose up in protest; days of highly publicized anti-American demonstrations followed. In effect, the United States had handed Muslims around the world another grievance to hold against Americans.
 
In stark, unmistakable terms, the Damadola affair lays bare the defects of the Bush administration?s response to 9/11. When President Bush in September 2001 launched the United States on a global war against terrorism, he scornfully abandoned the law-enforcement approach to which previous administrations had adhered. To all but the most militant true believers, it has become increasingly evident that in doing so Bush committed an error of the first order.
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How Neo-Cons Sabotaged Iran's Help on al Qaeda

Published on Wednesday, February 22, 2006 by Inter Press Service 
by Gareth Porter
 
WASHINGTON - After the Sep. 11 attacks, U.S. officials responsible for preparing for war in Afghanistan needed Iran's help to unseat the Taliban and establish a stable government in Kabul. Iran had organised resistance by the "Northern Alliance" and had provided arms and funding, at a time when the United States had been unwilling to do so.
 
"The Iranians had real contacts with important players in Afghanistan and were prepared to use their influence in constructive ways in coordination with the United States," recalls Flynt Leverett, then senior director for Middle East affairs in the National Security Council (NSC), in an interview with IPS.
 
In October 2001, as the United States was just beginning its military operations in Afghanistan, State Department and NSC officials began meeting secretly with Iranian diplomats in Paris and Geneva, under the sponsorship of Lakhdar Brahimi, head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. Leverett says these discussions focused on "how to effectively unseat the Taliban and once the Taliban was gone, how to stand up an Afghan government".
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The Dirty Little Secret Behind the UAE Port Security Scandal

Published on Wednesday, February 22, 2006 by WorkingforChange.com 
by David Sirota
 
Politicians and the media are loudly decrying the Bush administration's proposal to turn over port security to a firm owned by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) - a country with ties to terrorists. They are talking tough about national security - but almost no one is talking about what may have fueled the administration's decision to push forward with this deal: the desire to move forward Big Money's "free" trade agenda.
 
How much does "free" trade have to do with this? How about a lot. The Bush administration is in the middle of a two-year push to ink a corporate-backed "free" trade accord with the UAE. At the end of 2004, in fact, it was Bush Trade Representative Robert Zoellick who proudly boasted of his trip to the UAE to begin negotiating the trade accord. Rejecting this port security deal might have set back that trade pact. Accepting the port security deal - regardless of the security consequences - likely greases the wheels for the pact. That's probably why instead of backing off the deal, President Bush - supposedly Mr. Tough on National Secuirty - took the extraordinary step of threatening to use the first veto of his entire presidency to protect the UAE's interests. Because he knows protecting those interetsts - regardless of the security implications for America - is integral to the "free" trade agenda all of his corporate supporters are demanding.
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Train Them Like Rats

Boot camps for badly behaved teenagers are mistaking conformity for emotional growth
 
Published on Wednesday, February 22, 2006 by the Guardian/UK
by Cherry Potter
  
'Forget sending naughty kids to bed without supper; take them to a remote Utah boot camp for weeks on end instead - it's far more entertaining!" enthuses Channel 4's website about Brat Camp. The first series made the top 10 in the 100 Greatest TV Treats in 2004. Now we can watch a new bunch of recalcitrant teens, girls this time, exiled in the Utah wilderness. They are given a plastic sheet to withstand the freezing nights, meagre rations of muesli, and a hole in the ground as a toilet. And there they will stay, guarded by their Aspen Achievement Academy minders, until they knuckle under and do what they're told.
 
The girls have variously been in trouble with the law, addicted to drugs, or so out of control they have made their parents' lives a living hell. So they deserve whatever treatment is meted out to them, don't they?
 
Isn't there something chilling about what Brat Camp is telling us about society's increasingly punitive attitude to disaffected adolescents? Dickens wrote numerous novels showing how the Victorians delighted in strict discipline and sadistic punishment regimes for the young. But why are we seeing a revival in coercive treatment methods now?
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In Defense of Free Thought

Published on Wednesday, February 22, 2006 by the San Francisco Chronicle
by Robert Scheer
I think as I please
And this gives me pleasure.
My conscience decrees,
This right I must treasure.
My thoughts will not cater
To duke or dictator,
No man can deny --
Die gedanken sind frei.
-- German 16th-century peasant song (revived as a protest anthem against the Nazi regime)
 
The news on Monday that an Austrian court has sentenced crackpot British historian David Irving to three years' imprisonment for having denied the Holocaust 17 years ago should have alarmed free-speech advocates -- particularly at a time when Muslim fundamentalists are being lectured as to the freedom of expression that should be afforded cartoonists. In the event, however, a lack of noticeable outcry has exposed a long-standing double standard in the West about who is entitled to free speech and why.
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Flatulent Right Wing Fills Radio with Hate

Published on Wednesday, February 22, 2006 by the Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin)
by Bill Berry
  
The man who does my parents' taxes in Green Bay seemed nice enough. He shook our hands and greeted us with small talk as we sat down to go over papers.
 
But the acrid sounds coming from a stereo tuner near his ancient desk filled the office like dirty smoke. It was right-wing radio, an angry white man on his afternoon shift. I was amazed that this accountant was taking my parents' money and making us listen to this to boot, but I reminded myself I was there to help them.
 
On this day, the topic was poor Dick Cheney and how the liberal media wouldn't leave him alone after his little hunting mishap.
 
Soon the accountant was trying to wrench my 80-year-old mother into this angry world. He asked her if she thought such a trifling matter was grounds for Cheney's resignation. She snapped back, saying that she didn't think the hunting incident merited Cheney's resignation but that there were plenty of other reasons for it. She added that the two men with her felt just as she did. The accountant curled his lip in Cheney-esque fashion and went back to work.
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Study: Movie Critics Speak Even When They Don't Utter a Word

Research finds that many film critics, faced with far too many movies to write about, tend to avoid writing reviews of bad films they?ve seen
 
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Durham, N.C. -- As Oscar season gets into full swing, new research indicates that what movie critics don?t say about a film appears to matter as much as what they do say.
 
The research, conducted by marketing professor Wagner Kamakura of Duke University?s Fuqua School of Business, Suman Basuroy, assistant professor of marketing at Florida Atlantic University, and Peter Boatwright, associate professor of marketing at Carnegie Mellon University?s Tepper School of Business, examines the meaning of silence by professional film critics.
It finds that many film critics, faced with far too many movies to write about, tend to avoid writing reviews of bad films that they?ve seen. At the same time, a few critics, faced with the same overwhelming choice, tend to avoid reviewing good movies that they?ve watched.
 
As a result, moviegoers might infer the likely opinions of their favorite reviewers, even when those critics don?t actually write about a movie. The study will appear in the June 2006 issue of the journal Quantitative Marketing & Economics.
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NO QUARTER: Don't Do Dubai Dubya

Larry C Johnson
 
If Dubai Ports World (DPW) does as nifty a job of running our ports as it has done running the freeport in Dubai then we are screwed. This is not about the fact that police and security officials from the United Arab Emirates have been helping us track down Al Qaeda operatives and other ornery jihadists. The issue here is the fact that the port in Dubai is one of the major ports in the world involved with smuggling of counterfeit and contraband product. A few years ago, for example, I was alerted to a shipment of several containers of cigarettes from Panama's port of Colon to Dubai. The addressee on the invoice? Al Rabea Spare Car Parts. Now, last time I checked, cigarettes are not and never have been an automobile spare car part.
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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Secret Service agents say Cheney was drunk when he shot lawyer

By DOUG THOMPSON -Capitol Hill Blue
Feb 22, 2006, 07:35
 
A written report from Secret Service agents guarding Vice President Dick Cheney when he shot Texas lawyer Harry Whittington on a hunting outing two weeks ago says Cheney was "clearly inebriated" at the time of the shooting.
 
Agents observed several members of the hunting party, including the Vice President, consuming alcohol before and during the hunting expedition, the report notes, and Cheney exhibited "visible signs" of impairment, including slurred speech and erratic actions, the report said.
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O'Reilly: U.S. should leave Iraq "as fast as humanly possible"

...because "there are so many nuts in the country"

Summary: Bill O'Reilly suggested that the United States "hand over everything to the Iraqis as fast as humanly possible" because "[t]here are so many nuts in the country -- so many crazies -- that we can't control them." O'Reilly has previously called those advocating immediate withdrawal from Iraq "pinheads" and compared them to Hitler appeasers.
 
During the February 20 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Bill O'Reilly suggested that the United States "hand over everything to the Iraqis as fast as humanly possible" because "[t]here are so many nuts in the country -- so many crazies -- that we can't control them." O'Reilly then claimed that the "big mistake" was actually "the crazy-people underestimation."
 
As Media Matters for America has documented, during a November 30, 2005, appearance on NBC's Today, O'Reilly called those advocating immediate withdrawal from Iraq "pinheads" and compared them to Hitler appeasers.
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I Didn't Call John Stossel a "Corporate Shill", But I Should Have!

An Open Letter to Anne Sweeney, President/ABC Television Group
Published on Tuesday, February 21, 2006 by CommonDreams.org 
by John F. Borowski
 
During a private dinner to honor John Stossel (Portland, Oregon 2/5/06) the self-proclaimed "libertarian reporter" introduced me to a group of his followers: "John is a teacher who goes around the country telling people I am a corporate shill." I had just handed an email to Stossel and its contents were very telling. An industry front group was soliciting individuals to badmouth environmental concerns: on behalf of John Stossel. I told Mr. Stossel, "use this information in your talk tonight." It would never enter his address.
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The Man Who Said No to Wal-Mart

From: Issue 102 | January 2006 |  Page 66 By: Charles Fishman
 
Every year, thousands of executives venture to Bentonville, Arkansas, hoping to get their products onto the shelves of the world's biggest retailer. But Jim Wier wanted Wal-Mart to stop selling his Snapper mowers.

What struck Jim Wier first, as he entered the Wal-Mart vice president's office, was the seating area for visitors. "It was just some lawn chairs that some other peddler had left behind as samples." The vice president's office was furnished with a folding lawn chair and a chaise lounge.
 
And so Wier, the CEO of lawn-equipment maker Simplicity, dressed in a suit, took a seat on the chaise lounge. "I sat forward, of course, with my legs off to the side. If you've ever sat in a lawn chair, well, they are lower than regular chairs. And I was on the chaise. It was a bit intimidating. It was uncomfortable, and it was going to be an uncomfortable meeting."
 
It was a Wal-Mart moment that couldn't be scripted, or perhaps even imagined. A vice president responsible for billions of dollars' worth of business in the largest company in history has his visitors sit in mismatched, cast-off lawn chairs that Wal-Mart quite likely never had to pay for.
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THE WAR ON HYPE / America's fleecing in the name of security

- Veronique de Rugy, Nick Gillespie
Sunday, February 19, 2006

Rest easy, America. As a response to the Sept. 11 attacks, the Princeton, N.J., Fire Department now owns Nautilus exercise equipment, free weights and a Bowflex machine. The police dogs of Columbus, Ohio, are protected by Kevlar vests, thank God. Mason County, Wash., is the proud owner of a half-dozen state-of-the-art emergency radios (never mind that they are incompatible with existing county radios).
 
All of these crucial purchases -- and many more like them -- were paid for with homeland security grants. Doesn't it make you feel more secure that $100,000 in such money went to fund the federal Child Pornography Tipline? That $38 million went to cover fire claims related to the April 2001 Cerro Grande fire in New Mexico? And that $2.5 billion went to "highway security" -- that is, building and improving roads?
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Two New TV Series Are Liberal and Proud

Published on Tuesday, February 21, 2006 by the New York Times
by Felicia Lee
  
The filmmaker Robert Greenwald and others on the political left say real-life stories dealing with issues like gay rights, racial profiling and environmental pollution are needed in an era of conservative political leadership. To that end, Mr. Greenwald has helped the Sierra Club and the American Civil Liberties Union create their own television series. The two liberal groups see this as only the beginning of more such shows to get their messages out.
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An Upside-Down Media - Consortiumnews.com

By Robert Parry
February 18, 2006
 
The gravest indictment of the American news media is that George W. Bush has gutted the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Charter ? yet this extraordinary story does not lead the nation?s newspapers and the evening news every day.
 
Nor does the press corps tie Bush?s remarkable abrogation of both U.S. and international law together in any coherent way for the American people. At best, disparate elements of Bush?s authoritarian powers are dealt with individually as if they are not part of some larger, more frightening whole.
 
What?s even odder is that the facts of this historic power grab are no longer in serious dispute. The Bush administration virtually spelled out its grandiose vision of Bush?s powers during the debates over such issues as Jose Padilla?s detention, Samuel Alito?s Supreme Court nomination and the disclosure of warrantless wiretaps.
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The Wal-Mart Effect

a Q & A with author Charles Fishman
 
Two years ago, while researching an article about Wal-Mart's presence in the Twin Cities, I read pretty much every substantive piece that had been written about the retailing behemoth in the previous year. By far the most revealing article was in Fast Company magazine by Charles Fishman. The piece peeked behind the curtains of Wal-Mart's operations, and scrutinized its seismic impact on the world economy, in a way that no previous journalist had managed. Fishman has now expanded his reporting into a book, The Wal-Mart Effect, published earlier this month by Penguin Press.
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click here...to read more

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Corruption - US: At Spy Agencies, No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Published on Tuesday, February 21, 2006 by Inter Press Service
by William Fisher
 
NEW YORK - This was the picture painted to a House of Representatives committee last week, as its members heard from five soldiers and civilians who say their livelihoods and reputations have been destroyed or placed in serious jeopardy by their attempts to expose and correct waste, fraud or abuse in their workplaces.
 
They are known as "national security whistleblowers". And, unlike whistleblowers in civilian agencies of the U.S. government, they have little legal protection against retaliation.
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Dem report: GOP ties to lobbyists have cost millions of Americans

02/22/2006 @ 10:50 am
Filed by John Byrne
 
A Democratic report by the ranking Democrat on the House Rules Committee, Louise Slaughter (D-NY), declares that Republican ties to lobbyists have cost millions of Americans access to basic social services, RAW STORY has learned.
The report, available here, blames lawmakers' ties to lobbyists -- who, they say, make an average of $650,000 a year.
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'He was using Enron like a damn ATM'

As a vice-president of investor relations and corporate secretary for Enron's board, Paula Rieker viewed the energy trading giant's inner workings as it rose to be a Wall Street darling and then imploded in scandal.
 
Rieker on Tuesday testified to a federal jury how former chief executive Jeffrey Skilling ordered abrupt last-minute changes to two quarterly earnings reports in 2000 to please analysts and investors.
 
She told how company founder Kenneth Lay misled analysts by withholding from investors pessimistic financial details he described to directors as "lots of retooling".
 
And then Lay enraged the board months later when directors learned, after he quit as CEO in January 2002, that he'd repaid more than $70-million in company loans with Enron stock in 2001, even as the company careened into bankruptcy protection.
 
"They were outraged," she said of the board and quoted one member, John Duncan, saying: "He was using Enron like a damn ATM machine."
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Is Anyone Listening? by Laurence M. Vance

They should know better. Supporters of this war, apologists for this war, defenders of this war, participants in this war ? they should all know better. The evidence is there, but is anyone listening?
 
Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Objectivists ? they should know better. Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, Jews ? they should know better. Ministers, teachers, doctors, managers, fast food workers, housewives should know better. Marines, soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen, and reservists ? they should know better. Flag wavers, patriots, veterans, yellow ribbon wearers, "God and country" and "God bless America" Christians ? they should know better. All Americans should know better. The evidence is there, but is anyone listening?
 
They have the word of Pentagon insiders. They have the word of Bush administration insiders. They have the word of the Army War College. They have the word of army generals. They have the word of members of Congress. They have the word of the Founding Fathers. They have the word of war veterans. They have the word of Iraq war veterans. They have the word of the vice president. They even have the word of the president himself. The evidence is there, but is anyone listening?
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Teens Save Classic Rock

A new generation of fans turn to Hendrix, Floyd and Zeppelin
Like countless parents before him, Steven Tyler is shocked at the music that's been blaring out of his fifteen-year-old son's bedroom lately. But the Aerosmith frontman can hardly disapprove. "I walk by at night and my son is listening to Zeppelin stuff, like 'Black Dog,'" Tyler says. "He's turned all his friends on to Cream, and they're all into [Aerosmith's] Toys in the Attic. I told him, 'I can't believe you're listening to this.'"

Though classic rock is in no danger of edging out emo and hip-hop on most teenagers' playlists, a growing number of kids are also making room for Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles. At the same time, electric-guitar sales are soaring, with the cheapest models nearly doubling in sales from 2003 to 2004. "Kids go through hard rock, hip-hop and pop very quickly, and then they're hungry for something else," says E Street Band guitarist and garage-rock DJ Steven Van Zandt -- who gets hundreds of e-mails from teens thanking him for introducing them to bands like the Kinks. "They always end up coming to [classic] rock & roll."
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Neocon architect says: 'Pull it down'

ALEX MASSIE
IN WASHINGTON
 
NEOCONSERVATISM has failed the United States and needs to be replaced by a more realistic foreign policy agenda, according to one of its prime architects.
 
Francis Fukuyama, who wrote the best-selling book The End of History and was a member of the neoconservative project, now says that, both as a political symbol and a body of thought, it has "evolved into something I can no longer support". He says it should be discarded on to history's pile of discredited ideologies.

In an extract from his forthcoming book, America at the Crossroads, Mr Fukuyama declares that the doctrine "is now in shambles" and that its failure has demonstrated "the danger of good intentions carried to extremes".
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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bush's Hypocrisy on Mixed Signals

Today, President Bush visited the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado where this month 32 employees were laid off due to a $28 million budget cut. Given the political embarrassment that would result from Bush?s trip to the lab, the Secretary of Energy announced just a day before Bush?s visit that all the jobs would be restored.
 
The NREL employees were fired seven days after Bush?s State of the Union address in which he stated that we need to break our oil addiction through technology. NREL, according to the Department of Energy, is the ?premier laboratory for renewable energy research and development and a leading laboratory for energy efficiency R&D.? Given his flip-floppish actions, many were anxious to hear what Bush would tell the staffers at NREL. From the AP:
 
President Bush on Tuesday acknowledged that Washington has sent ?mixed signals? to one of the nation?s premiere labs studying renewable energies ? by first laying off, then reinstating, 32 workers just before his visit.
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Privacy Guardian Is Still a Paper Tiger

A year after its creation, the White House civil liberties board has yet to do a single day of work.
Published on Monday, February 20, 2006 by the Los Angeles Times
by Richard B. Schmitt
  
WASHINGTON - For Americans troubled by the prospect of federal agents eavesdropping on their phone conversations or combing through their Internet records, there is good news: A little-known board exists in the White House whose purpose is to ensure that privacy and civil liberties are protected in the fight against terrorism.
 
Someday, it might actually meet.
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New England Needs Rail Action Now

Published on Monday, February 20, 2006 by the Providence Journal
by Neal Peirce and Curtis Johnson 
  
The world-renowned traffic congestion in and around Boston has been relieved some by the fabulously expensive ($14.6 billion) "Big Dig." But now there's a new congestion poster child in New England: Route 95 along the Connecticut coast, described by commuters as "a parking lot" -- from Stamford to Bridgeport, in particular.
 
"If I-95 is a chokepoint, in one sense you're choking all six New England states," says Steve Sasala, chief executive officer of the Waterbury Chamber of Commerce.
 
Connecticut and all of New England are in peril of becoming a continental "cul-de-sac," transportation expert Michael Gallis warned in 2000. Although the region sits next door to the global-economy dynamo of New York, "it's the area it's least well connected to," he said.
 
And New England's most serious shortfall, says former Maine Transportation Commissioner John Melrose, is lack of rail alternatives to support compact, non-sprawling development and undergird the region's cities.
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Who Are These Liberals Anyway?

Published on Monday, February 20, 2006 by the Portland Press Herald (Maine)
by Mike Nobel 
The other day I heard Rush Limbaugh make the accusation that liberal Americans advocate a "culture of death" - one of many aspersions he spits and spatters at liberals, in a campaign to demonize us in the minds of his legions of radio listeners.
 
Since this is a time when, more than ever, we need to pool our talents and energies, and work collectively to find real solutions to really huge problems, I thought I'd share with Mr. Limbaugh some real-life stories about liberals I have known and the roles they play in our lives. My mom is a liberal. She raised six liberal boys: two doctors (who have saved and enriched countless lives); a lawyer (who has assisted many hundreds of low-income clients); a songwriter (whose songs for kids are used in thousands of schools); a commercial farmer (in Israel and father of six sons, all of whom will or have served in the Israeli military); and a remarkably successful entrepeneur, who employs dozens of people (and pays them very well).
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Keeping history secret -- The Next Left

Since 1999, more than 55,000 previously declassified documents have been reclassified. What's troubling is that many of these documents seem to be being reclassified not because they pose any kind of security risk, but because, as in the case of a CIA prediction that China would not send troops into Korea, contain information that intelligence agencies find embarassing.
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Monday, February 20, 2006

Bad Science, Bad Fiction

In Michael Crichton's work, the two are intimately connected.
 
Chris Mooney; January 18, 2005
NOTE: ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS
 

Michael Crichton's latest book, State of Fear, is a novel in name only. More accurately described, it's a work of thinly disguised political commentary, in which a wildly implausible plot--eco-terrorists supplant Al Qaeda as the leading global menace, unveiling dastardly weather modification schemes to convince the public of a nonexistent global warming threat--serves as an excuse for a string of Socratic-style dialogues about climate science. Since Crichton's characters repeatedly find themselves jetting across the globe to stop the latest eco-terrorist menace (blowing off parts of Antarctica, unleashing a tsunami, and so on), they have plenty of time in transit to question the reality of human caused global warming. The plot contrivance of a pending climate change lawsuit--abandoned once its proponents realize they don't have a case--provides yet another didactic opportunity for the author. When the legal team cross-examines one of our heroes about climate science, Crichton seizes the chance to insert temperature trend diagrams and copious footnotes into the text....
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Theres Something Fishy About Human Brain Evolution

by Staff Writers
Ottawa ON (SPX) Feb 19, 2006

Forget the textbook story about tool use and language sparking the dramatic evolutionary growth of the human brain. Instead, imagine ancient hominid children chasing frogs. Not for fun, but for food. According to Dr. Stephen Cunnane it was a rich and secure shore-based diet that fuelled and provided the essential nutrients to make our brains what they are today.
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Booker winner's robot brainwave may spell the end of the book tour

Novelist's invention means that authors on one continent can autograph volumes on another
By Anthony Barnes
Published: 19 February 2006
 
The bizarre, futuristic device would not be out of place in one of Margaret Atwood's sci-fi novels. But next month the Booker Prize-winning writer will unveil a machine she has invented which means authors will never have to meet their adoring public again.
 
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The Other Americans in Iraq

Pentagon Civilians' Biggest Complaint Is Income Tax

By Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 17, 2006; A17

BALAD, Iraq -- When Americans think about Iraq they tend to focus on the 137,000 U.S. troops here. But there also are 944 Defense Department civilian employees working in the country.
 
They generally are older than the troops, with many grandparents among them, and seem to be glad they are here.
 
"We have a waiting list at Amcom to fill these slots," said Jonathan York, referring to his employer, the Army's Aviation and Missile Command. "It's enjoyable to be over here."
 
"Working with soldiers, they are just so grateful," said Tracy Kammer of Davenport, Iowa, who came to Iraq as a federal intern in the small arms repair program.
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What It Means To Be A Republican

Published on Sunday, February 19, 2006 by CommonDreams.org
by Larry Beinhart
 
The vice president shoots you in the heart and in the face. Then you apologize for all the trouble it?s caused him. That?s what it means to be a Republican.
 
Despite almost hysterical warnings the president stays asleep at the wheel. He does nothing about terrorism and 9/11 happens. He responds by running away to Nebraska. Three days later he makes a supposedly impromptu speech with a bull horn on the rubble of the World Trade Center. He is universally cheered as a hero. That?s what it means to be a Republican. The president puts together false claims to go to war with the wrong country. His party universally supports him. That?s what it means to be a Republican.
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37 Million Poor Hidden in the Land of Plenty

Published on Sunday, February 19, 2006 by the Observer/UK

Americans have always believed that hard work will bring rewards, but vast numbers now cannot meet their bills even with two or three jobs. More than one in 10 citizens live below the poverty line, and the gap between the haves and have-nots is widening
 
by Paul Harris in Kentucky
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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Battle-Action Bush and the Keyboard Kommandos!!

'An ideology running on fumes'

Posted on Sunday, February 19 @ 09:39:18 EST
...
Chris Satullo, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
 
In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan pounded home one of the most potent slogans of all time: "Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."
 
Reagan's axiom sliced through the sloppy thinking and overreaching that had come to plague liberalism. It launched a new political era.
 
Now, 25 years later, we sit at the exhausted edge of that era. The "blame government" riff is running out of gas, conceptually and ethically.
 
Now, a corrective statement needs to be pounded home:
 
If you think government is the problem, you'll have problems governing. People who think government can do no good will be no good at running the government.
 
Three proper nouns account for the plunge in approval experienced lately by President Bush and the Republican Congress: "Iraq," "Katrina," "Abramoff."
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'Bush and Blair have brilliantly done Bin Laden's work for him'

Posted on Sunday, February 19 @ 09:37:17 EST
...
Simon Jenkins, The Sunday Times (London)
 
Is Osama Bin Laden winning after all? Until recently I would have derided such a thought. How could a tinpot fanatic who is either dead or shut in some mountain hideout hold the world to ransom for five years? It would stretch the imagination of an Ian Fleming.
 
Now I am beginning to wonder. Not a day passes without some new sign of Bin Laden's mesmeric grip on the governments of Britain and America. His deeds lie behind half the world's headlines. British policy seems obsessed with one word: terrorism. The West is equivocating, writhing, slithering in precisely the direction most desired by its enemy. He must be roaring with delight.
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Child Dies After Boot Camp Beating - TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime

by TChris
 
A 14 year old boy, Martin Anderson, violated a probation condition. As a consequence, he was sent to a juvenile-detention boot camp in Florida, where he died. A medical examiner, Dr. Charles Siebert, concluded that Martin died from internal bleeding that Siebert attributed to "sickle cell trait, a disorder that caused his red blood cells to change shape and produce 'a whole cascade of events' that led to hemorrhaging." Siebert inferred that bruises on the boy's body were inflicted during efforts to revive him and were unrelated to his death.
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Think Progress � Chertoff On Outsourcing Operations of 6 U.S. Ports To UAE: 'I Can't Get Into It'

WTF!? moment of the week:
--pseudolus
----------------
 
 
Today on CNN's Late Edition, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff refused to explain why the administration has turned over control of operations at six of the nation's largest ports to a company owned by the United Arab Emirates, a country with dubious ties to international terrorism:

The discussions are classified. I can't get into the specifics here.As far as my agency is concerned, port security really rests principally with the Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection.

In other words, don't worry about it, the Coast Gaurd has it covered. Kim Petersen, president of the largest maritime security consulting company in the United States, SeaSecure, disagrees:

Port security is a big problem, Petersen said, because the Coast Guard does not have enough resources for the waters close to ports.

"It doesn't have either the people or the necessary physical resources to provide the in-water patrols that are so desperately needed," he said.

Sounds like Chertoff has the whole situation under control.

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Days of Future Past...

Headlines of the Future!
from: Yep, another Goddamned blog:
 
 
If you neocon enablers had read these headlines back in 2000?
 
Florida republicans ban minority voters by calling them felons.
 
Supreme Court appoints Bush despite conflict of interest.
 
Bush signs executive order giving himself complete control of government.
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War and Piece: Eye-opening Newsweek profile of Cheney's world.

The last page sticks out:
 
... Around 9:35 on the morning of 9/11, Cheney was lifted off his feet by the Secret Service and hustled into the White House bunker. Cheney testified to the 9/11 Commission that he spoke with President Bush before giving an order to shoot down a hijacked civilian airliner that appeared headed toward Washington. (The plane was United Flight 93, which crashed in a Pennsylvania field after a brave revolt by the passengers.) But a source close to the commission, who declined to be identified revealing sensitive information, says that none of the staffers who worked on this aspect of the investigation believed Cheney's version of events.
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