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'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, March 04, 2006

out of control

d r i f t g l a s s: Embracing Your Inner "Poon Nazi"

driftglass has another great post up, linking to Susie Bright and her call for a new "Lysistrata" movement. As usual it is dead on target. --pseudolus
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What if she just said, "No Tail For You!"?
 
This is a week that has produced, in quick succession, a bill to all-but-ban the right to choose in the People's Republic of Mississippi, a Republican Supreme Court that has ruled that anti-choice mobs have the right to terrorize women and girls when they visit their doctors, and the revelation of a mash note from Sam Ailto's to wingnut Mullah James Dobson that made Harriet Myers' paean to her Big Swingin' Dick of a President look positively "actuarial" by comparison.
 
So if anyone had any doubt about who really runs the Republican Party, put them to bed without supper.
 
The Confederate Right has always been led by weak, flaccid, little men who cower behind John Law and Judge Lynch and beg them to protect their inadequate manhood and freeze-dried egos from the predations of vibrators, strong women and every Black Man who every lived. They have had a hard-on for re-institutionalizing the Divine Right of White Men to treat woman and brown people as chattel since the traitor army of GOP v 1.0 surrendered at Appomattox, so since The War on Your Bikini Area is definitely on, let me humbly offer the following.
 
First, a quick action plan for making the Mole Rat Right uncomfortable.
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The Big Picture: The "Merely rich" versus the "Super-rich"

Interesting article by David Wessel in the free section of the WSJ today: Rich Get Richer, But Not as Fast As You Think.
 
Its a follow up to the Federal Reserve's recent triannual  study we discussed last week,  Stagnant Net Worth for Typical US Family.   
 
When looking at who has what share of America's Net Worth, a few data points leap out: The Richest 10% owns 69.5% of the assets, up from 67.4% in 1989.
 
Note that the Fed survey explicitly excludes folks on the Forbes 400 list of the very wealthiest Americans. I believe the Fed eventually breaks down the latest numbers on the richest one million families, the top 1%. That group of Super Rich 1% holds about one-third of the total wealth in the nation; The next 9% also holds about a third.
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SteveAudio: While my guitar gently weeps

While my guitar gently weeps
One of the towering figures of both 20th century jazz and guitar playing is Django Reinhardt. His spectacular playing, even by today's standards, is technically breathtaking. But when the truth is revealed, that he did most of his soloing using only the first two fingers of his fingerboard hand, his dexterity seems impossible. His ring and little finger were damaged in a fire when he was young, and thus, other than a little use during chording, those fingers were useless. His facile playing is thus even more amazing.
 
From the unlikely source Boing-Boing, we find this link to a clip of Django and his Hot Club de France Quintet ca. 1938 (his fingering style is very clear):
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Did Bush Blink?

In addition to all the predictable reactions (pro and con) to the landmark nuclear agreement reached in India yesterday, a powerful and unexpected new concern has emerged based on a last-minute concession by President Bush.
 
It appears that, to close the deal during his visit, Bush directed his negotiators to give in to India's demands that it be allowed to produce unlimited quantities of fissile material and amass as many nuclear weapons as it wants.
 
The agreement, which requires congressional approval, would be an important step toward Bush's long-held goal of closer relations with India. It would reflect India's status as a global power. And, not least of all, it would more firmly establish India as a military ally and bulwark against China.
 
Critics have long denounced such an agreement, saying it would reward India for its rogue nuclear-weapons program and could encourage other nations to do likewise.
 
But now the criticisms may focus on this question: By enabling India to build an unlimited stockpile of nuclear weapons, would this agreement set off a new Asian arms race?
 
And here's another question: Were Bush and his aides so eager for some good headlines -- for a change -- that they gave away the store?
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Blah3.com - Saddam as "victim" of terrorism

Earlier this week, Saddam Hussein admitted giving the order for a (cursory) trial and the execution of 148 Dujail residents, the town where he escaped an assassination attempt in 1982. Most of the media treated it as a "gotcha" moment, but Jonathan Schwarz over at This Modern World notes a certain change in perspective. In a 1986 book called Sacred Rage: The Wrath of Militant Islam, a "virulent new strain of terrorism" is described as coming out of the Iranian revolution. One manifestation of this terrorism?: the attempted assassination of "the President of Iraq." Now how important was the Dujail executions at the time, when he was "our" guy?
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Friday, March 03, 2006

David Gilmour - On An Island


on an island Posted by Picasa
After 18 years we finally get a new album from David. And it's well worth the wait as long as you aren't looking for a fretboard burning barrage of sixteenth notes. This is a man who has always played with grace and style even as he was laying down tracks for Pink Floyd. To me he has always been the soul of Floyd's sound. Roger Waters' solo work leaves me cold. When I hear David playing I hear Pink Floyd.

This album is a sonic trip to other places. Mellow yet tangy it will be a pleasant backdrop for some reading or quiet work, yet you can sit down and focus on it and reap a treasure chest full of good vibes. He has a bunch of friends drop in and add their magic; Richard Wright and proto-Pink mate Rado "Bob" Klose, Georgie Fame, Phil Manzanera, Jools Holland, Caroline Dale, Robert Wyatt, David Crosby and Graham Nash.

It is a perfect choice for plugging in to my Proteus. Hmmm, gotta go!


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Give up! Become a Republican!

Police Station Intimidation-Parts 1 and 2

Most police officers are a credit to the badge, serving the community and the people who pay their salary, getting criminals off the street, making the community safer for everyone.
 
But on occasion, a police officer and a member of the public they serve don?t see eye to eye, and the citizen feels a need to complain. In many departments around the country, the process starts out simply: a person just requests a complaint form.
 
Police departments around the country, like here in Tallahassee, give citizens police complaint forms all the time, no questions asked. But walk into a police station in South Florida, trying to find out how to file a complaint, and watch what happens.
 
CBS4 News found that, in police departments across Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, large and small, it was virtually impossible to walk in the door, and walk out with a complaint form.
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A Meditation On the Speed Limit - Google Video

J. Francis Lehman: That 'harmless' and 'neccessary' Patriot Act

Can we be a 'little outraged' here? Or is that too much to ask?--pseudolus
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...He was referring to the recent decision by him and his wife to be responsible, to do the kind of thing that just about anyone would say makes good, solid financial sense.
 
They paid down some debt. The balance on their JCPenney Platinum MasterCard had gotten to an unhealthy level. So they sent in a large payment, a check for $6,522.
 
And an alarm went off. A red flag went up. The Soehnges' behavior was found questionable.
 
And all they did was pay down their debt. They didn't call a suspected terrorist on their cell phone. They didn't try to sneak a machine gun through customs.
 
They just paid a hefty chunk of their credit card balance. And they learned how frighteningly wide the net of suspicion has been cast.
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even more to think about at link below...
Show Us Your Money
The USA PATRIOT Act lets the feds spy on your finances. But does it help catch terrorists?

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

"Dark energy" might not exist, scientists say

Feb. 14, 2006
Special to World Science
 
A growing number of researchers claim a mysterious ?dark energy,? which most cosmologists believe fills space, might not exist.
 
Instead, they say, the laws of gravity might need some correction.
 
A supercomputer-produced cross-section of part of the universe shows galaxies as brighter dots along filaments of matter, with a sea of "dark energy" filling in between the galactic islands. But some researchers question whether the dark energy exists. (Credit James Wadsley, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario)
 
Scientists have accepted the existence of the enigmatic energy since 1998, when astronomers found the universe is expanding faster and faster. The best explanation seemed to be that it?s filled with some unseen substance that repels itself, and thus pushes relentlessly outward.
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Carnival Cruise Lines Cashes in with FEMA - TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime

by "Last Night in Little Rock"
 
In FEMA's haste to play catch-up and provide housing in New Orleans, it contracted with Carnival Cruise Lines for three ships for six months, and did the deal overnight, as reported in today's Washington Post.
 
The problem with the deal with Carnival was a $236M no-bid contract that effectively paid Carnival twice the per person cost of a cruise, with full crew and entertainment, and the ships never leave port. Yet, the ships are only half occupied, so Carnival reaps even greater profits. Do the math: that's four times the cost of a cruise. Without a full crew, the profit is even greater.
 
Makes me wonder if anybody at Carnival was a big Republican supporter, or were they just incredibly lucky?
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more here...

Jeb Bush asked to explain post-Katrina cruise ship deal
WASHINGTON (AP) � A top House Democrat released e-mails Tuesday detailing Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's role in pushing a $236 million federal contract for Carnival Cruise Lines to house Hurricane Katrina victims.

click here for the rest

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Polling Continues To Raise A Weighting Issue

It seems that every time CBS News conducts a poll we get questions. When CBS News conducts a poll that shows President Bush?s approval rating at an all-time low of 34%, the questions become a whole lot more skeptical. We?ve looked at this issue from a couple different angles in the past and we?ll probably go through it many more times.
 
Since the questions we receive almost always revolve around the issue of weighting ? how many Democrats, Republicans, Independents, etc. are included in the polling sample ? we?ll take you through CBS? methodology once again. Here?s how the CBS polling unit describes it:
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'48 Hours' A peek at show-biz 'journalism'

By HENRY J. WATERS III, Publisher, Columbia Daily Tribune
Published Monday, February 27, 2006
 
Recently we got a firsthand look at how show business masquerading as journalism is practiced on television.
 
Shows like CBS? "48 Hours" take real events and jig them up to titillate viewers. The producers thought they had something hot in our own local case involving the murder of Tribune Sports Editor Kent Heitholt. When the story didn?t quite pan out as they hoped, they tried to salvage what they could by spinning the facts.
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Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An exegesis

by David Neiwert
POSTED AUGUST 30, 2003 --
 
Introduction
 
Is fascism an obsolete term? Even if it resurrects itself as a significant political threat, can we use the term with any effectiveness?
 
My friend John McKay, discussing the matter at his Weblog archy, wonders if the degraded state of the term has rendered it useless. After all, it has in many respects become a catchall for any kind of totalitarianism, rather than the special and certainly cause-specific phenomenon it was. Anyone using the word nowadays is most often merely participating in this degradation.
 
Nonetheless, I think Robert O. Paxton has it right in his essay "The Five Stages of Fascism":
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Intelligence agencies warned about growing local insurgency in late 2003

By WARREN P. STROBEL and JONATHAN S. LANDAY
Knight Ridder Newspapers
 
WASHINGTON - U.S. intelligence agencies repeatedly warned the White House beginning more than two years ago that the insurgency in Iraq had deep local roots, was likely to worsen and could lead to civil war, according to former senior intelligence officials who helped craft the reports.
 
Among the warnings, Knight Ridder has learned, was a major study, called a National Intelligence Estimate, completed in October 2003 that concluded that the insurgency was fueled by local conditions - not foreign terrorists- and drew strength from deep grievances, including the presence of U.S. troops.
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Tompaine.com - The Peril Of Selective Reality

According to an article in the February 13 issue of U.S. News & World Report, President George W. Bush reportedly reacted to a ?darkly pessimistic assessment of the situation in Iraq? written by the CIA?s Baghdad station chief in mid-2004 by remarking: ?What is he, some kind of defeatist??
 
The president?s sharply negative reaction to what was one of the most refreshingly frank assessments on the situation in Iraq is notable. It begs the question: What, then, was the president?s reaction to the July 2004 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) addressing the troubled future of governance in Iraq, released roughly at the same time? It was a report labored over by many intelligence analysts, including this writer and Paul Pillar?then National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia?and others from across official Washington and the military.
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US seeks funds to build prisons in Iraq

Tue Feb 28, 2006 7:07 PM
By Sue Pleming
 
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department is winding down its $20 billion reconstruction program in Iraq and the only new rebuilding money in its latest budget request is for prisons, officials said on Tuesday.
 
State Department Iraq coordinator James Jeffrey told reporters he was asking Congress for $100 million for prisons but no other big building projects were in the pipeline for the department's 2006 supplemental and 2007 budget requests for Iraq, which total just over $4 billion.
 
"This is the one bit of construction we will be doing -- $100 million for additional bed capacity for the Iraqi legal system," he said.
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Pentagon whitewash for Halliburton corruption in Iraq

By Patrick Martin
1 March 2006
 
In a decision that epitomizes the war profiteering and corruption that have accompanied the American operation in Iraq, US Army officials have decided to override the recommendations of the Pentagon?s own internal auditors and pay nearly all of a quarter-billion dollars in disputed billings submitted by a subsidiary of Halliburton, the huge oil services and construction firm headed by Dick Cheney until he became vice president.
 
The Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) flagged more than $250 million in charges submitted by the subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root, as questionable and potentially unjustified. This amounted to more than 10 percent of the $2.41 billion no-bid contract which KBR was awarded in 2003 to deliver fuel and conduct repairs in Iraq?s oilfields.
 
Halliburton and KBR have raked in a total of $11 billion in Pentagon funds for supply, repair and reconstruction projects in Iraq since the US invasion, more than half the total.
 
Army officials defended the decision in response to questions raised by the New York Times, telling the newspaper, ?the contractor is not required to perform perfectly to be entitled to reimbursement.?
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AP Gets Video: Bush Warned Fully About Katrina

Published: March 01, 2006 7:00 PM ET

WASHINGTON In dramatic and sometimes agonizing terms, federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees, put lives at risk in New Orleans' Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage.
 
Bush didn't ask a single question during the final briefing before Katrina struck on Aug. 29, but he assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: "We are fully prepared."
 
The footage - along with seven days of transcripts of briefings obtained by The Associated Press - show in excruciating detail that while federal officials anticipated the tragedy that unfolded in New Orleans and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, they were fatally slow to realize they had not mustered enough resources to deal with the unprecedented disaster.
 
[The video received wide airing on television news Wednesday night, as questions were raised about exactly how AP had obtained it.]
 
Linked by secure video, Bush's confidence on Aug. 28 starkly contrasts with the dire warnings his disaster chief and a cacophony of federal, state and local officials provided during the four days before the storm.
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--------------------------------
some analysis at "Pam's House Blend"...
 
 
Gee,what are the chances embattled FEMA gave this footage up, as it has been the whipping boy for this whole mess?
 
[UPDATE: Welcome, Raw Story readers. Freeper commentary added - true to form, it's vile and they find ways to blame anyone, well, everyone else but Dear Leader for this.]
 
read it all... CLICK HERE
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Reporting on Bush pre-Katrina briefing, NY Times, Wash. Post, USA Today entirely forgot Bush claim that no one anticipated levee breaches.
 
at Media Matters - read the rest...
 

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Think Progress � Bush Free Fall Continues in New Polls

Following up on a dismal CBS News survey earlier this week, two new polls by Fox News and CNN/USA Today/Gallup bring more bad news for President Bush. From the Fox News poll:
 
- 39 percent of Americans approve of the job Bush is doing, only the second time Bush has fallen below 40 percent in Fox polling
- 81 percent believe Iraq is likely to end up in a civil war.
- 69 percent oppose allowing Dubai Ports World to manage U.S. ports.
 
From CNN/USA Today/Gallup:
 
- 38 percent approve of the job Bush is doing, a rating ?mired near its record low? of 37 percent.
- 47 percent approve how he is handling terrorism, ?down 7 points since early February and a record low.?
- 64 percent disapprove of Bush?s handling of Iraq, a record high.
- 52 percent do not find Bush ?honest and trustworthy,? tying November?s worst-ever mark.
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Tortured Logic

Published on Tuesday, February 28, 2006 by the New York Times
by Anthony Lagouranis
  
CHICAGO -- I have never met Sgt. Santos Cardona or Sgt. Michael Smith, but we share similar experiences. In late 2003 and early 2004, both men used their dogs to intimidate Iraqi prisoners during interrogations at Abu Ghraib prison. They maintain that they were following legal orders. Now they both face impending court-martial.
 
From January 2004 to January 2005, I served in various places in Iraq (including Abu Ghraib) as an Army interrogator. Following orders that I believed were legal, I used military working dogs during interrogations. I terrified my interrogation subjects, but I never got intelligence (mostly because 90 percent of them were probably innocent, but that's another story). Perhaps, I have thought for a long time, I also deserve to be prosecuted. But if that is the case, culpability goes much farther up the chain of command than the Army and the Bush administration have so far been willing to admit.
 
When the chief warrant officer at our interrogation site in Mosul first told me to use dogs during interrogations, it seemed well within what was allowed by our written rules and consistent with what was being done at Abu Ghraib and other detention centers. The dogs were muzzled and held by a handler. The prisoners didn't know that, though, because they were blindfolded; if they gave me an answer I didn't like, I could cue the handler so the dog would bark and lunge toward them. Sometimes they were so terrified they'd wet their jumpsuits. About halfway through my tour, I stopped using dogs and other "enhancements" like hypothermia that qualify as torture even under the most nonchalant readings of international law. I couldn't handle being so routinely brutal.
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Not necessarily the news, with Jon Stewart

By ALYSON WARD
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
 
When Jon Stewart hosts the Academy Awards on Sunday, he?ll be center stage in front of TV?s most mainstream audience.
 
No more hiding in the wasteland of late-night cable. No more playing the underdog. After this, he?ll be firmly entrenched as a mainstream name in comedy.
 
Which is great, of course, for his career as a comedian. But how will it affect his role as a newsman?
 
Don?t laugh. American culture, it seems, can?t decide whether to classify Stewart as a comedian or a journalist.
 
Stewart?s late-night newscast parody, The Daily Show, airs four nights a week in a time slot that makes it an alternative to local newscasts. Big-name media figures like Ted Koppel and Bill Moyers have indicated they respect his opinions and take him seriously.
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What to Do When the Emperor Has No Clothes

Published on Wednesday, March 1, 2006 by the Chicago Tribune
by Garrison Keillor
 
These are troubling times for all of us who love this country, as surely we all do, even the satirists. You may poke fun at your mother, but if she is belittled by others it burns your bacon. A blowhard French journalist writes a book about America that is full of arrogant stupidity, and you want to let the air out of him and mail him home flat. And then you read the paper and realize the country is led by a man who isn't paying attention, and you hope that somebody will poke him. Or put a sign on his desk that says, "Try much harder."
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UMaine Researcher Puts New Date On Early Agriculture

UMaine Researcher Puts New Date On Early Agriculture
by Staff Writers
Orono ME (SPX) Mar 02, 2006

Archeology and genetics team up to put a much earlier date on South American agriculture Research by UMaine researcher Dan Sandweiss places cornmeal on the menu for native Americans much earlier than previously believed.
 
Working with colleagues from Ithaca College and the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, Sandweiss discovered evidence of cultivated corn in the Cotahuasi Valley of southern Peru that dates back to nearly 4,000 years before the present, suggesting that corn was an important crop in that region more than 1,000 years earlier than previously thought.
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Bush, an Opponent of Raising Taxes, Proposes $47 Bln in Fees

By Brian Faler
 
March 1 (Bloomberg) -- While President George W. Bush is adamantly against raising taxes, he's increasingly comfortable with imposing billions of dollars in new government fees, as the airline, commodities and shipping industries have discovered.
 
Bush's 2007 budget proposal would raise more than $47 billion over the next five years by imposing, raising or extending expiring fees on everything from airline tickets to oil drilling to commodity transactions to ships passing through the St. Lawrence Seaway.
 
``It's a way for the administration to get around its `we'll never-raise-taxes' attitude,'' said Stan Collender, managing director of the Washington office of Financial Dynamics, a business-consulting firm.
 
Bush won't suffer politically from what is essentially a tax increase, because he has backed extending even larger tax cuts, said Grover Norquist, a prominent anti-tax activist.
 
``A tax increase offset by larger tax cuts may or may not be a good idea, but it's not a sin,'' Norquist said.
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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Kristof: Soldiers Speak. Will Bush Listen?

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
 
"A new poll to be released today shows that U.S. soldiers overwhelmingly want out of Iraq ? and soon."
 
When President Bush held a public meeting with troops by satellite last fall, they were miraculously upbeat. And all along, unrepentant hawks (most of whom have never been to Iraq) have insisted that journalists are misreporting Iraq and that most soldiers are gung-ho about their mission.
 
Hogwash! A new poll to be released today shows that U.S. soldiers overwhelmingly want out of Iraq ? and soon.
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Zogby speaks his mind about this poll:

In wars of America's century just past, we have sent our soldiers to far-off fields of battle and were left to wonder about their opinions of the life-and-death conflicts in which they were involved.

Letters home, and more recently telephone calls and emails, would give us a peek into their states of mind.
Advertisement
[Ad]
Some who returned would regale friends and family with tales from the front lines.

Times have now changed. A first-ever survey of U.S. troops on the ground fighting a war overseas has revealed surprising findings, not the least of which is that an overwhelming majority of 72% of American troops in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year.
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read the rest:
CLICK HERE

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Completely and utterly unfunny political humor of the day:

"Although the enemy is increasingly skillful at manipulating the media and using the tools of communications to its advantage, it should be noted that we have an advantage as well. And that is, quite simply, that truth is on our side."

- Donald Rumsfeld
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Left I on the News:  read_more...

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THE ENRON TRIAL-Shuffled funds made the balance, witness says

By MARY FLOOD
Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle
 
Jurors heard testimony Monday about different ways money was found at Enron.
ADVERTISEMENT
 
Three times it was found in reserve accounts and siphoned out so bosses could brag about higher earnings, and once it was found by accident when a box with millions of dollars of uncashed checks was discovered stashed under a desk.
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Enron Trial Avoids the Real Rip-Off

By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t | Report
Monday 27 February 2006
 
    More than 400 pages of documents released by federal energy regulators suggest that former Enron chairman Ken Lay and former chief executive Jeff Skilling were aware that the company's west coast traders may have broken the law by using manipulative trading tactics in California to boost Enron's profits during the height of the state's power crisis.
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What's Wedged Between Productivity, Living Standards?

Published on Tuesday, February 28, 2006 by the Providence Journal (Rhode Island) 
by Jared Bernstein
  
WASHINGTON -- In a speech last month, President Bush asserted that "as the workforce is more productive, higher wages follow; that's just a fact of life."
 
Well, working Americans are learning that the facts of economic life are changing. In 2005, as in several previous years, the workforce was a lot more productive but its real wages -- what its paychecks can buy -- flat-lined or fell.
 
Despite the fact that 2005 marked the fourth year of an economic expansion that began in late 2001, the median worker's wage fell 1.3 percent; for low-wage workers the decline was greater: 1.9 percent.
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BMD (Bike of Mass Destruction)

Published on Tuesday, February 28, 2006 by the The Nation
by John Nichols
 
Today's question: What's more dangerous -- hunting with Dick Cheney or bike riding with George Bush?
 
For background, we offer this report from Murdo MacLeod, the able political correspondent for Edinburgh's Scotland on Sunday newspaper:
US LEADER CRASHED BY TRYING TO 'PEDAL, WAVE AND SPEAK AT THE SAME TIME'
 
He may be the most powerful man in the world, but proof has emerged that President George Bush cannot ride a bike, wave and speak at the same time.
 
Scotland on Sunday has obtained remarkable details of one of the most memorably bizarre episodes of the Bush presidency: the day he crashed into a Scottish police constable while cycling in the grounds of Gleneagles Hotel.
 
The incident, which will do little to improve Bush's accident- prone reputation, began when he took to two wheels for a spot of early-evening exercise during last year's G8 summit at the Perthshire resort.
 
After a hard day's discussion with fellow world leaders, the president was looking for some relaxation. Instead, he ended up the subject of a police report in which the leader of the free world was described, in classic police language, as a "moving/falling object".
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The Evolution Of Right And Left Handedness

by Staff Writers

Winnipeg MB (SPX) Mar 01, 2006
A study from the April issue of Current Anthropology explores the evolution of handedness, one of few firm behavioral boundaries separating humans from other animals. "The predominant right-handedness of humans has been noted since at least the time of the Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle," write Amanda Blackburn (University of Manitoba) and Christopher Kn�sel (University of Bradford).
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Unclaimed Territory - by Glenn Greenwald: Important developments in the NSA scandal

Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Important developments in the NSA scandal
 
(updated below) [to see update, read the whole post at link below--pseudolus]
 
There were multiple noteworthy developments yesterday in the NSA scandal:
 
(1) There is a truly amazing 50-state survey (h/t Markos) on the views of Americans regarding the NSA scandal -- and specifically their beliefs about whether George Bush broke the law. In 37 out of 50 states -- including numerous pure red states -- a plurality believe that it is "clear" that Bush broke the law. The best state for Bush is Oklahoma, where only 42% believe that he clearly did not break the law - the highest number of any state which believes that.
 
And, in almost every state, between 20-25% believe it's not clear one way or the other, which demonstrates that scores of people are still open to being persuaded on this question. And added to that is the fact that three consecutive polls (.pdf) now show that a majority of Americans believe that George Bush broke the law when ordering warrantless eavesdropping on Americans.
 
If we had a Democratic President and there were polls showing that a plurality of people across the country, in every region, had concluded that the President "clearly" broke the law -- and that a majority of Americans overall believe he did so as well -- would Republicans be taking advantage of that fact as aggressively as possible, or would they be running away from that issue in fear? And, what are Democrats currently doing with regard to the President's overt law-breaking and the fact that, despite the tepid and frightened posture of the Democrats, a majority of Americans have concluded that George Bush broke the law? Within the answers to those questions lies the most compelling explanation as to why the Bush Administration has thus far been able to get away with all sorts of ineptitude, corruption and wrongdoing -- even getting re-elected in the middle of it all.
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Incomes Fall, Hunger Worsens as Bush Says 'We're Doing Fine'

Published on Tuesday, February 28, 2006 by OneWorld.net
by Abid Aslam
 
WASHINGTON - The average American family has taken a financial tumble and millions in the country go hungry despite President George W. Bush's sunny assessment of the U.S. economy, say federal data and economists.
 
Stagnant wages and skyrocketing healthcare, education and housing costs, plus greater job instability has pushed America's families right to the limit, and they're borrowing on high-cost credit just to make ends meet.
 
Tamara Draut, director, economic opportunity program, Demos
Bush talked up the nation's wealth last week during a speech in Milwaukee. ''We're doing fine,'' he said and described the economy as ''strong and gaining steam.''
 
Economic growth had clocked a respectable 3.5 percent, unemployment had been held down to 4.7 percent with more than four million new jobs created in the past 30 months, and after-tax income had risen eight percent since 2001, he said.
 
Within days, however, the Federal Reserve reported that average incomes after adjusting for inflation actually had fallen between 2001 and 2004.
 
At the same time, the number of Americans who need emergency food aid to survive had swollen to more than 25 million even before hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck, the nation's largest network of food banks said in a separate report.
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David Horowitz and the Attack on Independent Thought

Published on Tuesday, February 28, 2006 by CommonDreams.org
by Robert W. McChesney
 
David Horowitz?s new book, "The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America," was published in early February to considerable fanfare encouraged by a tidal wave of promotion from the right-wing echo chamber. This is the same echo chamber that made ?swift boat? a household word in September 2004. The book itself is sloppy and unimpressive, an apparent rush job.
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New Class Of Compounds Promise Better Drugs Clean Energy

by Staff Writers
Providence RI (SPX) Mar 01, 2006

By combining a common organic compound with a rare metal, a team of Brown University chemists has created a new class of molecules that have potentially important applications for the pharmaceutical, chemical and energy industries. To create the mixture, scientists working in the laboratory of Dwight Sweigart, a Brown professor of chemistry, combined two compounds.
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Bush's Carnival Tricks

Published on Tuesday, February 28, 2006 by WorkingForChange.com
by Molly Ivins
 
AUSTIN, Texas ? With the Bush administration, it's important to have in mind the old carnival con game: Keep your eye on the shell with the pea under it.
 
Among the many curious aspects of the administration's approval of the Dubai Ports World takeover of operations at six major ports (and as many as 21) is this exemption from normally routine restrictions: The agreement does not require DP World to keep copies of its business records on U.S. soil, which would place them within the jurisdiction of American courts. Nor does it require the company to designate an American citizen to accommodate requests by the government. So what's that about?
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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Paul Craig Roberts: Twilight of the Hegemony

America is headed for a soft dictatorship by the end of Bush's second term. Whether any American has civil rights will be decided by the discretionary power of federal officials. The public in general will tolerate the soft dictatorship as its discretionary powers will mainly be felt by those few who challenge it.
 
The congressional elections this coming November is the last chance for for Americans to reaffirm the separation of powers that is the basis of their civil liberties. Unless the voters correct their mistake of putting both the executive and legislative branches in the hands of the same party and deliver the House or the Senate to the Democrats, there is nothing on the domestic scene to stand in the way of more power, and less accountability, being accumulated in the executive.
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The Case for Impeachment

Published on Monday, February 27, 2006 by Harpers Magazine
by Lewis H. Lapham
  
"A country is not only what it does?it is also what it puts up with, what it tolerates."
? Kurt Tucholsky
 
On December 18 of last year, Congressman John Conyers Jr. (D., Mich.) introduced into the House of Representatives a resolution inviting it to form ?a select committee to investigate the Administration's intent to go to war before congressional authorization, manipulation of pre-war intelligence, encouraging and countenancing torture, retaliating against critics, and to make recommendations regarding grounds for possible impeachment.? Although buttressed two days previously by the news of the National Security Agency's illegal surveillance of the American citizenry, the request attracted little or no attention in the press?nothing on television or in the major papers, some scattered applause from the left-wing blogs, heavy sarcasm on the websites flying the flags of the militant right. The nearly complete silence raised the question as to what it was the congressman had in mind, and to whom did he think he was speaking? In time of war few propositions would seem as futile as the attempt to impeach a president whose political party controls the Congress; as the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee stationed on Capitol Hill for the last forty years, Representative Conyers presumably knew that to expect the Republican caucus in the House to take note of his invitation, much less arm it with the power of subpoena, was to expect a miracle of democratic transformation and rebirth not unlike the one looked for by President Bush under the prayer rugs in Baghdad. Unless the congressman intended some sort of symbolic gesture, self-serving and harmless, what did he hope to prove or to gain? He answered the question in early January, on the phone from Detroit during the congressional winter recess.
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Ike Saw It Coming

Published on Monday, February 27, 2006 by the New York Times
by Bob Herbert  
 
Early in the documentary film "Why We Fight," Wilton Sekzer, a retired New York City police officer whose son was killed in the World Trade Center attack, describes his personal feelings in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11.
 
"Somebody had to pay for this," he says. "Somebody had to pay for 9/11. ... I wanna see their bodies stacked up for what they did. For taking my son."
 
Lost in the agony of his grief, Mr. Sekzer wanted revenge. He wanted the government to go after the bad guys, and when the government said the bad guys were in Iraq, he didn't argue.
 
For most of his life Mr. Sekzer was a patriot straight out of central casting. His view was always "If the bugle calls, you go." When he was 21 he was a gunner on a helicopter in Vietnam. He didn't question his country's motives. He was more than willing to place his trust in the leadership of the nation he loved.
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When Americans No Longer Own America

Published on Monday, February 27, 2006 by CommonDreams.org
by Thom Hartmann
  
The Dubai Ports World deal is waking Americans up to a painful reality: So-called "conservatives" and "flat world" globalists have bankrupted our nation for their own bag of silver, and in the process are selling off America.
 
Through a combination of the "Fast Track" authority pushed for by Reagan and GHW Bush, sweetheart trade deals involving "most favored nation status" for dictatorships like China, and Clinton pushing us into NAFTA and the WTO (via GATT), we've abandoned the principles of tariff-based trade that built American industry and kept us strong for over 200 years.
 
The old concept was that if there was a dollar's worth of labor in a pair of shoes made in the USA, and somebody wanted to import shoes from China where there may only be ten cents worth of labor in those shoes, we'd level the playing field for labor by putting a 90-cent import tariff on each pair of shoes. Companies could choose to make their products here or overseas, but the ultimate cost of labor would be the same.
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Monday, February 27, 2006

CD Reviews: Mott the Hoople - All the Young Dudes and Mott

CD Reviews: Mott the Hoople - All the Young Dudes and Mott
February 27, 2006
Modern Pea Pod
@Blogcritics.org
Competition for the honor of "Best Glam Rock Act You've Never Heard" has always been stiff. Matter of fact, pretty much anybody (outside the twin giants Bowie and Bolan) could qualify for that title; it's an unfortunate symptom of glam's "middle child" position, between psych and punk, that the genre itself is as forgotten as it was short-lived. But standing head and shoulders over all comers, bar none, is a little band from Hereford, England called Mott the Hoople.
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For some reason I couldn't leave a comment on that webpage so here it is:
 
"Mott was also the first rock band to have a show on Broadway (during the Mott period). I'm an old fart who remembers their radio hayday. While GlamRock was never one of my fave genres - these guys just rocked, nevermind the makeup.
 
"And Y-U-I-Orta, another (hard to find) collaboration betweeen Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson, is just a terrific album, end-to-end. It gets more playtime than Mott albums do on my musicboxes. They beat the Rolling Stones at their own game on a couple of tunes and do the same to a few other bands elsewhere on the disk." --pseudolus 

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Indie rockers reject big money from the king of gas guzzlers

Bah Hummer
By Otis Hart
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Thermals, a rambunctious rock band from Portland, Ore., were en route between gigs last year when they got a phone call from their label, Sub Pop. Hummer wanted to pay them $50,000 for the right to use their song "It's Trivia" in a commercial.
 
Portland, Ore., trio The Thermals turned down a $50,000 licensing deal from Hummer.
 
Trans Am, an electronic rock band from Washington, spurned $180,000 in ad money from Hummer.
 
"We thought about it for about 15 seconds, maybe," lead singer Hutch Harris said.
 
They said no.
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Consortiumnews.com

Not that George W. Bush needs much encouragement, but Sen. Lindsey Graham suggested to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales a new target for the administration?s domestic operations -- Fifth Columnists, supposedly disloyal Americans who sympathize and collaborate with the enemy.
 
?The administration has not only the right, but the duty, in my opinion, to pursue Fifth Column movements,? Graham, R-S.C., told Gonzales during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Feb. 6.
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Hoffmania!: Not a Good Month for Bush Radio

Originally published Feb 27, 2006
 
The Arbitrends for Los Angeles came out today, and Richard Mellon Scaife will probably want his money back - his messengers have lost listeners by the boatload. These are month-to-month extrapolated ratings (not rolling three-month average) for listeners 12+. ---see the figures, click below
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Fight The Torture Crowd - Because America's Better Than That

Tony Blankley has written a love letter to Alan Dershowitz for his new book, which argues the case for torture as an instrument of state. The pro-torture crowd should be opposed by all Americans, right and left, who still believe in our country's core principles. It comes down to one simple question: Do we still have what it takes to be a free and just people?
 
Sure, they dress it up in fancy rationalizations and some obligatory breast-beating about the horror of it all (although that part doesn't seem to last too long). But the core of their pro-torture argument (and that of fellow travelers like Charles Krauthammer) always comes down to this in the end: If we stick to our fundamental principles as Americans, somebody - maybe me - might get hurt.
 
There are five reasons why Americans on the left and right should oppose their arguments:
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I4U News - Loremo: The Ultra Efficient Car - 157MPG!

German Loremo AG will introduce their ultra Efficient Car at the Motor Show 2006 (site) in Geneva next week.
 
The car start-up developed a light-weight passenger car with outstanding aerodynamics. The Loremo LS is powered by a 2 cylinder Turbo Diesel engine with 20 hp and 160km/h top speed. The amazing thing is that the Loremo only needs 1.5l per 100km. This is approx. 157MPG!
The Toyota Prius hybrid has only 55MPG (combined city and highway).
With one tank (20l) you could drive 1,300km.
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Yeah, we could be making all this stuff up

From Capitol Hill Blue
The Rant
By DOUG THOMPSON
Feb 23, 2006, 00:06
 
Whenever we get a story ahead of other news outlets the naysayers crank up to full crescendo and accuse us a variety of transgressions - usually revolving around the claim that we "made the whole thing up."
 
A lot of that came over the electronic transom and dominated the partisan bulletin boards Wednesday with our report that secret service agents said Vice President Dick Cheney was drunk when he gunned down friend and lawyer Harry Whittington in a hunting "accident" last week.
 
It wasn't a story we went looking for. A friend who works in the Bush administration tipped us on the report late last week and I started making phone calls. By late Tuesday, I had all I needed to go with the story: three sources that said a Secret Service Agent filed a report claiming Cheney had consumed several drinks and "appeared inebriated" while hunting on the Armstrong Ranch on February 11.
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Blogcritics.org: Bad News Comes in - Fours

February 27, 2006
Natalie Davis
 
What a weekend: We've lost not one or two, thought it was three, but, sadly, it turned out to be four beloved artists in what feels like one especially cruel fell swoop.
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America: Utopia Lost

Fifty years ago, America's future was limitless. So what happened to optimism?
Published on Saturday, February 25, 2006 by the Los Angeles Times
by Andrew L. Yarrow
  
America has never been richer, but it once was much more optimistic ? even utopian ? about its future.
 
In 1956, Fortune magazine published "The Fabulous Future," a book of essays by luminaries forecasting a nation of technological and economic wonders by 1980. Adlai Stevenson spoke of "the most extraordinary growth any nation or civilization has ever experienced." George Meany predicted "ever-rising" living standards. And David Sarnoff gushed, "There is no element of material progress we know today that will not seem from the vantage point of 1980 a fumbling prelude."
 
That same year, that wild utopian, Richard Nixon, then vice president in the Eisenhower administration, heralded a 30-hour, four-day workweek "in the not too distant future." Gallup polls found that only 3% of the population questioned whether the nation was enjoying "good times," and just 8% doubted that the good times would keep getting better indefinitely.
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Being Poor's the Real Crime as Cops Nab Trash Thieves

Published on Saturday, February 25, 2006 by the Madison Capital Times (Wisconsin)
by Joel McNally
Now we judge the success of a government program by how few people it helps. By that definition, President Bush was right. Brownie really was doing a heckuva job at FEMA.Forget about homicides, rapes and armed robberies. The police have far more important priorities. Someone is stealing our garbage.
 
The great thing for the police is that solving these crimes doesn't take a lot of crack detective work. These heinous crimes are being carried out in broad daylight, and the perpetrators very seldom have getaway cars.
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Saving Democracy

Published on Friday, February 24, 2006 by CommonDreams.org
by Bill Moyers 
  
I will leave to Jon Stewart the rich threads of humor to pluck from the hunting incident in Texas. All of us are relieved that the Vice President?s friend has survived. I can accept Dick Cheney?s word that the accident was one of the worst moments of his life. What intrigues me as a journalist now is the rare glimpse we have serendipitously been offered into the tightly knit world of the elites who govern today.
 
The Vice President was hunting on a 50-thousand acre ranch owned by a lobbyist friend who is the heiress to a family fortune of land, cattle, banking and oil (ah, yes, the quickest and surest way to the American dream remains to choose your parents well.)
 
The circumstances of the hunt and the identity of the hunters provoked a lament from The Economist. The most influential pro-business magazine in the world is concerned that hunting in America is becoming a matter of class: the rich are doing more, the working stiffs, less. The annual loss of 1.5 millions of acres of wildlife habitat and 1 million acres of farm and ranchland to development and sprawl has come ?at the expense of ?The Deer Hunter? crowd in the small towns of the north-east, the rednecks of the south and the cowboys of the west.? Their places, says The Economist, are being taken by the affluent who pay plenty for such conveniences as being driven to where the covey cooperatively awaits. The magazine (hardly a Marxist rag, remember) describes Mr. Cheney?s own expedition as ?a lot closer to ?Gosford Park? than ?The Deer Hunter? ? a group of fat old toffs waiting for wildlife to be flushed towards them at huge expense.?
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The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Published on Friday, February 24, 2006 by The Nation
by William Greider
 
David Brooks, the high-minded conservative pundit, dismissed the Dubai Ports controversy as an instance of political hysteria that will soon pass. He was commenting on PBS, and I thought I heard a little quaver in his voice when he said this was no big deal. Brooks consulted "the experts," and they assured him there's no national security risk in a foreign company owned by Middle East Muslims--actually, by an Arab government--managing six major American ports. Cool down, people. This is how the world works in the age of globalization.
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Network Neutrality: Dead on Arrival?

Published on Friday, February 24, 2006 by MediaCitizen
by Timothy Karr
  
Network neutrality, a principle that ensures the free flow of ideas online, appears dead on arrival in Washington as big media once again have wielded their influence over elected politicians.
 
The numbers tell the story. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, AT&T and other corporate allies are among the top contributors to the re-election campaigns of a number of house Telecommunications Subcommittee members, including Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who has received more than $12,000 from AT&T executives, employees and their family members. Comcast associates tipped in an additional $10,000 equaling the contribution of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.
 
And hands aren?t clean on the other side of the aisle either. AT&T and Comcast have tipped tens of thousands of dollars into the campaign war chests of Committee Democrats as well.
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Are There Human Genes in Your Food?

Published on Friday, February 24, 2006 by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
by Trudy Bialic
 
Ask the people around you if they want experimental drugs and industrial chemicals in their food or beer -- without their knowledge or consent. Chances are they'll say no. Then tell them experiments that could make that happen are occurring right here in Washington state.
 
As you read this, a professor at Washington State University and a private Canadian company, SemBioSys, have applied for permits to turn two common food crops -- barley and safflower -- into virtual factories for synthetic drugs or chemicals.
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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Battery Technology Breakthrough?

It's what drill-wielding DIYers have craved for ages: More power! And a new line of teeth-rattling 36-volt cordless saws, rotary hammers, and drills from DeWalt, a division of Black & Decker, finally delivers. The potent black-and-yellow beasts have twice the power of standard 18-volt tools and run for twice as long per charge. How? Each packs the M1 battery, a hand grenade of electrons that promises to transform mobile power.

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