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, March 11, 2006

NEUROTOPIA: Late night rant-- Who am I?

What do you think scientists are like? Are we a bunch of aloof ivory-tower eggheads? Do we not care or notice what goes on in the world around us? Are we goofy, endearing nerds with pocket protectors who mumble a lot and trip over our own feet? Do we have great compassion for humanity and work for the advancement of society as a whole? Or are we just in it to make a buck?
 
I think people get a terrible impression of scientists. Certainly cretins like George Deutsch make a mockery of us, as if scientific knowledge was this vast postmodern melting pot of weak ideas easily supplanted by the next uncredentialed toady fool with a metaphysical ax to grind. I mean come on, who the hell do you think you are, Mr. Scientist?
 
But popular portrayals aren't much better. Read on...
 
For instance, recall Ghostbuster's Peter Venkman (played by Bill Murray) who cooks his goofy parapsychological research, goading pretty young college students into believing they have ESP, and presumably coaxing his way into their pants, by implication. Can you imagine the gall of such behavior? Who the hell does that Venkman guy think he is?
 
Or, on the other end of the spectrum, CSI. Cops these days can do it all! Slap on a nice suit, interview eyewitnesses, collect evidence at the crimescene, take said evidence to the mobile lab, extract 30-year-old DNA from a carpet thread inside of a bleach bottle, throw it on a gel, and image it with one hand... all while sipping a latte and driving to court with the other, to obtain a warrant 3 minutes before the statute of limitations expires then lead a SWAT team into the lying perp's crack house, save the dying hostage, make the bust, and extract the confession just in time to exonerate some poor blind priest on his way to the electric chair for a crime he didn't commit. Science, apparently, is brash, sexy, completely incidental to other endeavors and pathetically easy to conduct by the seat of your pants. Jerry Orbach, you were a troglodyte by comparison.
 
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Friday, March 10, 2006

Puts the VaV-O-O-M! in VW


Floor it, man!! Posted by Picasa
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What do you think about having a VW Beetle with a helicopter turboshaft jet engine in the back? It doesn�t weigh that much and gives your little Beetle an additional 1350 horsepower. Sweet.

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Capitol Hill Blue - Telling the 'approved' story

March 7, 2006 01:12 AM / The Rant .
By DOUG THOMPSON
 
On an unspecified day last week an employee of a federal agency that cannot be revealed delivered a document that cannot be identified to a company that cannot be named seeking information that cannot be discussed.
 
The aforementioned federal agent left the unidentified document with an employee of the unnamed company. That employee then called the owner, who must remain anonymous, to inform him that the document that could not be identified sought information that could not be discussed. The owner who must remain anonymous instructed the employee to deliver the unidentified document to a lawyer whose name is protected by attorney-client privilege.
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DOOM 3 on 24 screens!

It's amazing how much more fun games are when you can play them on really large, high-resolution screens. Our HCI lab at Virginia Tech also has a 24 monitor display wall, and as you can see from the pictures below, I got Quake 3 running on it. The system is driven by 12 linux servers (2 monitors per server) using Distributed Multihead X (DMX) and Chromium. Chromium distributes the OpenGL rendering from the head node to all of the servers. The game runs fairly fast, though some lighting effects had to be turned off and Chromium is having some trouble with the mouse. Even so, playing the game is an awesome experience. Feel free to email me (plastk@vt.edu) with what you think.
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Freeware and Clipboard Viewer - if you ever use CTRL-C, you need ClipMagic!

What is ClipMagic ?
 
ClipMagic is a powerful Clipboard Extender and Information Manager for storing Images and Text, either automatically or manually in a categorised format, with details of the URL if the text is from an Internet site.
 
To save something simply copy it to the Windows Clipboard by pressing CTRL-C or right click on the mouse and select Copy. ClipMagic then automatically stores it and if you have set up Rules & Filters the clip will be moved into a particular category.
 
Clips can easily be retrieved either by copying from ClipMagic and pasting into your application or by using HotKeys or using the new PastePicker.
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Truthdig - The Progress Myth in Iraq

By Molly Ivins
 
AUSTIN, Texas?It was such a relief to me to learn we are making ?very, very good progress? in Iraq. As the third anniversary of our invasion approaches, I could not have been more thrilled by the news reported by Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on a Sunday chat show. Vice President Dick Cheney?s take was equally reassuring: Things are ?improving steadily? in Iraq.
 
I was thrilled?very, very good progress and steady improvement, isn?t that grand? Wake me if anything starts to go wrong. Like someone bombing the al-Askari Mosque in Samarra and touching off a lot of sectarian violence.
 
I was also relieved to learn?via Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, so noted for his consistently accurate assessment of this war?that the whole picture is hunky-dory to tickety-boo. Since the bombing of the mosque, lots of alarmists have reported that Iraq is devolving or might be collapsing into civil war. They?re sort of jumping over the civil war line and back again?yep, it?s started; nope, it hasn?t?like a bunch of false starts at the beginning of a football play.
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MP3 Sneakers


Oh, yeah! These'll get stolen 5 minutes after they hit the pavement. Posted by Picasa
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CLICK HERE

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A Little History Lesson for Rumsfeld

Liberal activist ads attack conservatives

WASHINGTON -- A liberal activist group bought newspaper and television ads to accuse three conservative leaders of hypocrisy for promoting Christian values while amassing money and political power. The targets of the spots said the accusations were lies.
 
The ads are aimed at Ralph Reed, a Christian conservative running for lieutenant governor in Georgia; James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family; and Louis Sheldon, head of the Traditional Values Coalition.
 
The liberal group, Campaign to Defend the Constitution, is spending $200,000 for a full-page ad that ran Wednesday in The New York Times; an online campaign; and a television ad starting Wednesday on cable news in Washington, D.C., New York and Colorado Springs, Colo., where Focus on the Family is based.
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OfficePirates.com

Here's a little time killing site dedicated to all you cubicle dwellers out there in businessland...Office Pirates.com:
 
http://www.officepirates.com/officepirates/0,25034,,00.html

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Is Civil Liberty For Sale at the ACLU?

Published on Thursday, March 9, 2006 by the Huffington Post
by Wendy Kaminer
 
Most Americans probably don't know that every time they buy a pretzel on the street, tip a waiter, or hire anyone to contract for any personal or professional service, they might be in danger of violating federal blacklisting law. By statute and an Executive Order issued shortly after 9/11, all U.S. persons (including all individuals, businesses, and charities,) are prohibited from engaging in economic transactions with anyone named on extensive terrorist watch lists.
 
According to the Washington Post, the Administration maintains a master list of 325,000 names. Criteria for inclusion on the list are unclear, as are the options for getting off the list if your name appears on it by mistake, as many names do.
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Security firm found guilty of bilking government in Iraq

WASHINGTON - In the first action of its kind, a federal jury found Thursday that a private security company bilked the U.S.-led government in Iraq out of millions of dollars.
 
Custer Battles, which has had offices in Virginia and Rhode Island, was found to have used shell companies, fake invoices and even stolen forklifts in an elaborate scheme to defraud the Coalition Provisional Authority that oversaw Iraq after the invasion.
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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Dubya takes care of the babysitting chore...


This'll keep the little bastard quiet for a while. Posted by Picasa

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THE NEWS BLOG- Ken Blackwell's Blog Caught Scrubbing Super Secret Post

You know, the reason there are laws on the books against conspiracy, is because "conspiracies happen". They have happened in the past, they are happening today, and they will happen in the future. Any time some people can find common ground to work in secret to advance an agenda, a conspiracy will form. They can be criminal enterprises intent on amassing fortunes or power illegally or they can be innocent associations with no designs on either. It is the criminal ones we need to fear as they are by definiton malevolent to the common weal of society. The few taking advantage of their current and/or past connections and positions to manipulate events to their advantage at the expense of the rest of us. To paraphrase the authoritarian bunch who want to sweep privacy/secrecy away from the common person, "If you have nothing to hide, why won't you tell us about your little get togethers?" --pseudolus
---------------
 
..."The Council for National Policy".
 
The CNP was founded in 1981 as an umbrella organization of right-wing leaders who would gather regularly to plot strategy, share ideas and fund causes and candidates to advance the far-right agenda. Twenty-five years later, it is still secretly pursuing those goals with amazing success.
 
Since its founding, the tax-exempt organization has been meeting three times a year. Members have come and gone, but all share something in common: They are powerful figures, drawn from both the Religious Right and the anti-government, anti-tax wing of the ultra-conservative movement.
 
It may sound like a far-left conspiracy theory, but the CNP is all too real and, its critics would argue, all too influential.
 
CNP's first president was Tim LaHaye famed millenialist preacher and writer of the Left Behind series of popular books about the "end-times" and the Second Coming of Christ. LaHaye,like the whole of the nation's Religious Right leaders, nurtured a strong contempt for the First Amendment principle of church-state separation, because it seriously complicates their goal of installing fundamentalist Christianity as the nation's officially recognized religion.
 
Many members of the CNP are part of the Christian Reconstructionist movement. Reconstructionists espouse a radical theology that calls for trashing the U.S. Constitution and replacing it with the harsh legal code of the Old Testament. They advocate the death penalty for adulterers, blasphemers, incorrigible teen­agers, gay people, "witches" and those who worship "false gods."
 
A list of former and past members reads like a who's who of conservative Christian Right activists, anti-tax and anti-government activists, billionaire right wing philanthropists and GOP office holders, past and present.
 
And what was the ultimate goals of this organization? Well, they stated them pretty clearly early on . . .
 
From the beginning, the CNP sought to merge two strains of far-right thought: the theocratic Religious Right with the low-tax, anti-government wing of the GOP. The theory was that the Religious Right would provide the grassroots activism and the muscle. The other faction would put up the money.
 
Bringing together the two strains of the far right gave the CNP enormous leverage. The group, for example, could pick a candidate for public office and ply him or her with individual donations and PAC money from its well-endowed, business wing.
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Woman sues for alleged firing over talk show bumper sticker

VISTA ---- A San Diego County woman is suing her former employer, accusing her manager of firing her on the spot when she saw the woman's car had a bumper sticker advertising a progressive talk radio station.
 
The suit also alleges that, after seeing the sticker, the employer commented that the woman could be a member of al-Qaida.
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Idiot Box

Who Tipped Off Whom? - Sierra Club

Tuesday, March 07, 2006
 
San Francisco -- I'm feeling a little foolish. Earlier today I blogged about an ad in the March 2 New York Times Op-Ed section from ExxonMobil debunking concerns about peak oil -- even though the company's annual report last year made it clear that we should be very, very worried. Because I was on the road last week I didn't realize that the ad ran one day after a long op-ed by Times editorial writer Bob Semple that laid out the case for being concerned about peak oil.
 
So either it was coincidence that the oil company responded to Semple in the next news cycle, or ExxonMobil paid a premium price to preempt whoever had that space or the company knew the op-ed was coming and bought the ad space as a preemptive response.
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Press Action ::: Planned Media Gag May Save America

By Mary Pitt
 
Senator Pat Roberts, (R-KS), has announced that he is working on a bill that. if passed, will criminalize the publication of any ?classified? information by the media. This would make the reporter who writes, and the news media for whom they work, equally liable under the anti-spy regulations with any whistle-blower who dares to try to get the truth out regarding the misfeasance and malfeasance of this administration. However, the very suggestion of the revocation of the First Amendment may be the one thing that will wake up our sleeping media to the truth of what has been and is being done to our democracy. Now the test for publish-ability will not be truth and verifiability but permission from the White House on pain of spending a long vacation in Halliburton?s new Camp Northwoods.
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Brain interface: next best thing to telekinesis


i_wnterface Posted by Picasa
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Saving a life by mixing man and machine has had varied results: Darth Vader tormented a galaxy, RoboCop saved a city. Still, I'm in no way hesitant about the
Brain/Computer Interface. The system, developed by researches in Berlin, allows for a direct dialogue between a person's brain and a computer. On display at the CeBIT trade show in Germany this week, the "mental typewriter" translates thoughts into cursor movement. Signals from the brain, measured by 128 electrodes affixed to a subject's scalp, are dissected by a software program, picking out specific instructions amongst a mass of information. In the long term, the researchers hope a brain-controlled device will allow people with severe disabilities to communicate with the outside world. Currently, it takes 5 to 10 minutes to write a sentence with the system; that's obviously too slow for everyday use, but as the technology improves, the device could give the paralyzed a voice. Other researchers in Germany and the United States are working on similar systems. � Trevor Noren

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Illegal Workers - the Con's Secret Weapon

Published on Wednesday, March 8, 2006 by CommonDreams.org
by Thom Hartmann
  
Conservatives are all atwitter about illegal immigrants. Some want to give them amnesty. Others want to reinstitute the old Bracero program. Others want to build a wall around America, like the communists did around East Berlin. Some advocate all of the above.
 
But none will tell Americans the truth about why we have eleven million illegal aliens in this nation now (when it was fewer than 2 million when Reagan came into office), why they're staying, or why they keep coming. In a word, it's "jobs." In conservative lexicon, it's "cheap labor to increase corporate profits."
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A Veteran's Letter to the President: "I Return Enclosed the Symbols of My Years of Service"

Published on Wednesday, March 8, 2006 by Pierre Tristam's Candide's Notebooks
by Joseph DuRocher
  
 
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
 
Dear Mr. President:
 
As a young man I was honored to serve our nation as a commissioned officer and helicopter pilot in the
U. S. Navy. Before me in WWII, my father defended the country spending two years in the Pacific aboard the U.S.S. Hornet (CV-14). We were patriots sworn ?to protect and defend?. Today I conclude that you have dishonored our service and the Constitution and principles of our oath. My dad was buried with full military honors so I cannot act for him. But for myself, I return enclosed the symbols of my years of service: the shoulder boards of my rank and my Naval Aviator?s wings.
 
Until your administration, I believed it was inconceivable that the United States would ever initiate an aggressive and preemptive war against a country that posed no threat to us. Until your administration, I thought it was impossible for our nation to take hundreds of persons into custody without provable charges of any kind, and to ?disappear? them into holes like Gitmo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram. Until your administration, in my wildest legal fantasy I could not imagine a U.S. Attorney General seeking to justify torture or a President first stating his intent to veto an anti-torture law, and then adding a ?signing statement? that he intends to ignore such law as he sees fit. I do not want these things done in my name.
 
As a citizen, a patriot, a parent and grandparent, a lawyer and law teacher I am left with such a feeling of loss and helplessness. I think of myself as a good American and I ask myself what can I do when I see the face of evil? Illegal and immoral war, torture and confinement for life without trial have never been part of our Constitutional tradition. But my vote has become meaningless because I live in a safe district drawn by your political party. My congressman is unresponsive to my concerns because his time is filled with lobbyists? largess. Protests are limited to your ?free speech zones?, out of sight of the parade. Even speaking openly is to risk being labeled un-American, pro-terrorist or anti-troops. And I am a disciplined pacifist, so any violent act is out of the question.
 
Nevertheless, to remain silent is to let you think I approve or support your actions. I do not. So, I am saddened to give up my wings and bars. They were hard won and my parents and wife were as proud as I was when I earned them over forty years ago. But I hate the torture and death you have caused more than I value their symbolism. Giving them up makes me cry for my beloved country.
 
Joseph W. DuRocher
----------------------
Joseph DuRocher was for 20 years the elected Public Defender of Florida?s Ninth Judicial Circuit, covering Orange and Osceola counties. Since retirement, he?s been writing and teaching law at the University of Central Florida and the Barry University School of Law. He was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy in the 1960s, serving as a Naval Aviator in the Atlantic, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. On Monday, Mr. DuRocher returned his Lieutenant?s shoulder bars and Navy wings to President Bush, and enclosed the following letter. Mr. DuRocher can be reached at: PDJWD@aol.com.
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Rush ( the bloviating idiot not the rock band) on Hybrids

A friend of mine and I were discussing the Oscars, and how many celebrities showed up for the event in their hybrids. He told me how stupid and naive he thought that was because he had heard on Rush Limbaugh's program that hybrids have proven to be a bust, that they cost more in the long run than comparable conventional vehicles, due to actual cost of ownership figures, and in the end we would still use the same amount of oil that we are using now!

Perplexed, knowing quite well that this could not be further from the truth, I read what Rush had to say about hybrids on his website in an attempt to comprehend how he could possibly have arrived by these conclusions. I can sum up in one word what I think of Rush's logic when it comes to hybrids. "Flawed." It is due to this flawed logic that I believe his conclusions are so askew of reality.
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Hybrids, We Never Knew Ya

by John Gartner
 
Marketers are jumping on the green-car movement and the gears are audibly grinding over what counts as a "hybrid vehicle."
 
First applied to small sedans emphasizing fuel economy, the term is now blithely used to encompass a vast array of trucks, SUVs and luxury cars that in some cases offer only modest fuel savings over traditional vehicles, some critics charge.
 
Even the White House wants to wring some extra mileage out of the hybrid label. In a little-noticed remark following January's State of the Union Address, the Bush administration handed credit to the Department of Energy for developing the batteries used in hybrids -- a statement that more or less runs out of gas on closer examination.
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Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS): Chairman of the Senate Cover-up Committee

As chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Pat Roberts?s (R-KS) duty is ?to provide vigilant legislative oversight over the intelligence activities of the United States? and ?to assure that such activities are in conformity with the Constitution and laws of the United States.? But on the most important intelligence issues facing Americans ? such as the manipulation of Iraq intelligence, warrantless domestic spying, and torture - Roberts has transformed his committee into a ?Senate Coverup Committee? for the Bush administration.
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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Tom Tomorrow


How far is too far? Posted by Picasa
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read the rest...
CLICK HERE

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Medleyville: HERE COMES THE SON

The life of a famous musician's kid must be bittersweet. When said parent is successful, it often equals money, little responsibility and media attention based solely on who your father or mother is (see Nicole Richie).
 
But when your goals are to follow in your parent's footsteps, all of a sudden the expectations start to rise and the criticism can be harsh. Teddy Thompson, son of Richard and Linda Thompson, set out to attract some attention of his own during a recent show at New York's Mercury Lounge to promote his second album, Separate Ways (Verve Forecast).
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The Truth About Cars - DSG = Stick Shift R.I.P.

If you were going to invent a way to control an automobile, you wouldn?t ask the average driver to develop the skill and coordination of a church organist. Note I said ?average.? As far as hardcore automotive enthusiasts and skilled pipe organ players are concerned, there?s nothing more natural or satisfying than making beautiful music with a sublime dance of hands and feet. Yes, well, the average person would rather drive an automatic and download an iTune. Pistonheads and pipe worshippers may sneer, but if the majority of humans didn?t take the path of least resistance our species would still be stuck in the trees. Meanwhile, just as digital sound has invaded God?s house and rocked the organist?s world, Audi?s DSG transmission is here and tripedalists are toast.
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Bad Reporter


bad reporter Posted by Picasa
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see it all...
CLICK HERE

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White House Mobilizes the Military ... for Politics?

Active-duty military personnel are not supposed to engage in partisan political activies, right? Right: They are, in fact, legally prohibited from partisan political activities, according to DoD regulations which you can find here and here.
 
Someone may have forgotten to alert the eager beavers in the White House political affairs office.
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The Seattle Times: Health: Coffee drinkers get a jolt in study

The findings of a new medical study may be enough to make you spit out your morning coffee.
 
And that could be a good thing ? at least for half of you.
 
A study of 4,000 coffee drinkers has found that two or more cups each day can increase the risk of heart disease ? but only for those with a genetic mutation that slows the breakdown of caffeine in the body.
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Lengthy drug testing not to blame for prices: study

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Drug companies cannot blame long product testing times for the rising prices of medicines, researchers said on Tuesday.
 
They said that in fact, the time it takes to get a drug from idea to the market is not increasing and some potential blockbuster drugs are tested and approved very quickly.
 
"Our research shows that long development times are an unlikely factor in rising drug prices," said Dr. Salomeh Keyhani, an assistant professor of health policy at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York who led the study.
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Coca-Cola and Water - An Unsustainable Relationship

Water is essential to life and the lifeblood of our planet. Without water, we cannot sustain life.
 
Lack of access to clean drinking water is a reality for over 1.2 billion people- about 20% of the world's population, and mostly in developing parts of the world. Providing access to potable water remains one of the greatest challenges for the global community today.
 
From March 16-22, 2006, Mexico will host the fourth World Water Forum, an important international meeting aimed at ameliorating the water crisis in the world and "assuring better living standards for people all over the world and a more responsible social behavior towards water issues in-line with the pursuit of sustainable development," according to the forum organizers.
 
What then, we ask, is the Coca-Cola company doing as one of the leading sponsors of the World Water Forum? As a champion of unsustainable use of water globally, Coca-Cola's sponsorship of the forum puts the very credibility of the World Water Forum at stake.
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The Fading Glories of Globalization

The first defense tried by President Bush in the great port terminal management flap was that, hey, it's only globalization. A British company that runs some terminals here sold its contracts to a government-run United Arab Emirates company. So? That's business.
 
The word globalization ought to freeze high-minded members of the chattering class because they are supposed to favor an economic system in which everybody does what he can do most efficiently regardless of national borders, and everybody wins. The word didn't work, and the rhetoric shifted to accusing critics of bigotry against our friends in the UAE.
 
By then, it was too late. Even landlocked constituents of House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., who didn't know a buoy from a gull a week earlier, suddenly knew all about seaports.
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Oil Drilling Causes Major Crude Oil Spill Near Arctic Refuge

WASHINGTON - March 7 - Last week during the Senate Energy Committee?s hearing on the Fiscal Year 2007 Budget, Chairman Domenici praised Secretary Norton and the Department of Interior for promoting "environmentally-gentle" oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Just days after these remarks, America got an unfortunate preview of just how "gentle" oil drilling operations could be if allowed on the Arctic Refuge?s fragile Coastal Plain.
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Wal-Mart Critic Has First Amendment Right to Sell "Walocaust" Items, Maintain Web Site Critical of Retail Giant, Public Citizen Tells Court

Georgia Man Developed Designs for T-shirts, Hats and More
 
WASHINGTON - March 7 - A Web site and artistic designs created by Georgia resident Charles Smith to express his objections to Wal-Mart?s business practices are not only permissible under trademark law but are speech that should be protected by the First Amendment, Public Citizen said in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Atlanta, Ga. The lawsuit, filed with the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia Foundation, is available here.
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Another Iraq Story Gets Debunked

In November 2001, just two months after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, two high-profile U.S. journalists Chris Hedges of the New York Times and Christopher Buchanan of PBS' "Frontline" were ushered to a meeting in a Beirut hotel with a man identified as Jamal al-Ghurairy, an Iraqi lieutenant general who had fled Saddam Hussein.
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Election Official Hammered For Telling the Truth

Ion Sancho may be a hero in California, where grateful election officials have verified the ''serious security vulnerabilities'' in Diebold voting machines that the Leon County election supervisor uncovered last year.
 
Sancho is regarded a little differently in Florida.
 
Florida's secretary of state's office disparaged Sancho's finding, demonstrating considerably more interest in propping up vendors than protecting elections.
 
California, alarmed by Sancho's report, dispatched its independent, expert-laden Voting Systems Technology Assessment Advisory Board to conduct its own investigation.
 
Florida, meanwhile, threatened to sue Sancho.
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Wanted: A Democratic Plan

How hard is it to pull together a theme like the Contract with America? How many people even remember what that contract contained? A survey of voters shortly after the Gingrich Revolution of 1994 showed that a majority--including those who voted for the Republicans who took over Congress that year--had no idea what they were agreeing to, contractually speaking.
 
Yet the Democrats are agonizing over the lack of national "theme" for their 2006 Congressional campaigns. Monday?s New York Times has a front-page story headlined "For Democrats, Many Voices, but No Theme Song."
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Have You Ever Been Convicted Of A Felony?

This is an interesting editorial on the new trend in corporate criminal prosecutions...why not the same treatment for the rest of us? --pseudolus
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Have you ever been convicted of a felony?
 
That question is asked throughout our lives.
 
By people who are interviewing us for a job.
 
By courts seeking jurors.
 
By Little League officials screening coaches.
 
For background checks of all kinds.
 
People want to know.
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Springsteen Does Seeger

 The best entertainment news of the weekend had nothing to do with the Oscars (though kudos to George Clooney, who picked up a statuette as best supporting actor, for defiantly defending Hollywood's out-of-touchness by hailing its ahead-of-the-curve support for civil rights and AIDS research.) No, the most interesting showbiz 411 was the announcement that Bruce Springsteen next month will be releasing an album, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, featuring thirteen traditional songs associated with Pete Seeger, the writer, performer, preserver, and champion of folk music.
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Five Vermont Towns Vote to Impeach Bush

NEWFANE, Vt. -- In a white-clapboard town hall, circa 1832, voters gathered Tuesday to conduct their community's annual business and to call for the impeachment of President Bush.

Newfane residents voted Tuesday to call for the impeachment of President Bush.
Photo: Jon Olender / Rutland Herald 
 
Therefore, the voters of the town of Newfane ask that our representative to the U.S. House of Representatives file articles of impeachment to remove him from office.
 
"In the U.S. presently there are only a few places where citizens can act in this fashion and have a say in our nation," said select board member Dan DeWalt, who drafted the impeachment article that was placed on the warning - or official agenda - for this year's town meeting.
 
"It absolutely affects us locally," DeWalt said. "It's our sons and daughters, our mothers and fathers, who are dying" in the war in Iraq.
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 read_more... and see article 29

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Investigating Inflation For Real

...Indeed, Economists may be the last people
you should ask about real inflation. Sure, if you have a question about
the Boskin PCE deflator, well then sure, any old dismal scientist will
be your go-to-guy. But if you want the straight dope on inflation as it
exists in the real world, you are much better off asking a housewife or
a business owner.



So that�s exactly what we did:



Over the weekend, we spoke to numerous business owners. What they
told us is very consistent with an economy that has reflated, and whose
prices across a broad spectrum of areas have increased.



The broadest overview came from Thomas�s Ham Eggery,
a well konw Long Island breakfast joint (Carle Place ) that has been in
business at the same place for over 33 years. If you go there on
weekends, you better get there early, �cause by 8:30 there is a line
out the door.

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read the rest....here


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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Growing Anger Over Unpaid Rebates - New York Times

By ALINA TUGEND
Published: March 4, 2006
 
WHEN my husband went shopping for a memory card for our digital camera, he looked at several and was finally swayed by one offering a $20 rebate.
 
He carefully filled out a card with all the details needed for the rebate, sent in the packaging code and the original receipt, and after a few months forgot all about it. He has never received the money or a notice explaining why he didn't get it ? and he is less than eager to chase after such a small amount.
 
His experience is fairly typical: according to research by Vericours Inc., a consulting company, about 40 percent of rebate offers are never redeeme
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Paul Craig Roberts: America's Bleak Jobs Future

By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
 
On February 20 Forbes.com told its readers with a straight face that "the American job-generation machine rolls on. The economy will create 19 million new payroll jobs in the decade to 2014." Forbes took its information from the 10-year jobs projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, released last December.
 
If the job growth of the past half-decade is a guide, the forecast of 19 million new jobs is optimistic, to say the least. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics payroll jobs data, from January 2001 - January 2006 the US economy created 1,054,000 net new private sector jobs and 1,039,000 net new government jobs for a total five-year figure of 2,093,000. How does the US Department of Labor get from 2 million jobs in five years to 19 million in ten years?
 
I cannot answer that question.
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Roborant

Voltaire was born Francois-Marie Arouet on the 21st of November 1694. A weak child, he wasn't expected to live. In fact, he seemed to hover on the brink of death for the next 84 years. In the mean time, he lived one of the most remarkable lives ever lived. Voltaire was a poet, novelist, playwright, pamphleteer, scientist, historian and philosopher.
 
The period of the French Enlightenment is sometimes called the Age of Voltaire. Here at Roborant, I've been exploring the period that I call the Age of Liberalization. This is a period that I'm defining myself (noted historian that I am): Thomas Hobbes kicks off the game in the 1650's with Leviathan; where we get the notion that government should be based on a sound logical and moral foundation. John Locke carries the ball down field a good distance with his treatises on government; where we learn the fundamentals of property rights and separation of government powers. It's up to Voltaire, however, to carry the ball across the goal line in the middle 1700's (Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill get to do the end-zone dance).
 
Voltaire did more than write about his principles. He lived a long, successful life dedicated to them. From the introduction to The Portable Voltaire, by Ben Ray Redman:
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SPACEPLANE SHELVED?

For 16 years, Aviation Week & Space Technology has investigated myriad sightings of a two-stage-to-orbit system that could place a small military spaceplane in orbit. Considerable evidence supports the existence of such a highly classified system, and top Pentagon officials have hinted that it's "out there," but iron-clad confirmation that meets AW&ST standards has remained elusive. Now facing the possibility that this innovative "Blackstar" system may have been shelved, we elected to share what we've learned about it with our readers, rather than let an intriguing technological breakthrough vanish into "black world" history, known to only a few insiders. U.S. intelligence agencies may have quietly mothballed a highly classified two-stage-to-orbit spaceplane system designed in the 1980s for reconnaissance, satellite-insertion and, possibly, weapons delivery. It could be a victim of shrinking federal budgets strained by war costs, or it may not have met performance or operational goals.
 
This two-vehicle "Blackstar" carrier/orbiter system may have been declared operational during the 1990s.
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Veterans Asked to Bleed for Bush All Over Again

Published on Monday, March 6, 2006 by the Middletown Times-Herald Record (New York)
by Beth Quinn
My, my. So many offenses to choose from, so little space in which to write about them.
 
It's as though George Bush is having a fine game of darts, playing on a board in which each section is the bull's-eye. Only problem is, each bull's-eye is yet another puncture in our democracy, yet another wound for ordinary Americans to bleed from.
 
Take the dart he's thrown at our nation's veterans these past few days - men and women who are accustomed to bleeding for America, to be sure.
 
Contrary to accusations in some of our letters to the editor that I'm "against veterans," I rather like veterans. I got to know a few of them, growing up as I did with a father who lost a leg at the Battle of the Bulge. There were many visits to the VA hospital's wooden leg room for fittings when I was growing up.
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Did US Know Iraq Had No WMDs?

Published on Monday, March 6, 2006 by the Boston Globe
by Kevin McKiernan
 
What if the Bush administration wasn't entirely convinced before the Iraq war that Saddam Hussein had WMDs, but simply invoked those ''mushroom cloud" images to rally necessary public support? One source of such speculation lies in the administration's puzzling prewar failure to supply Iraqi Kurds, Hussein's closest and most likely targets, with gas masks and other promised protection.
 
While the White House has publicly maintained that the decision to go to war was not made until early 2003 -- and only as a last resort after the failure of both inspections and diplomacy -- I knew a full year before that Kurdish leaders were quietly tipped off to war plans just weeks after the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
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Huge solar storms could zap Earth, scientists warn

Next sunspot cycle may disrupt power, communications

An 11-year epoch of increasingly severe solar storms that could fry power grids, disrupt cell-phone calls, knock satellites back to Earth, endanger astronauts in space, and force commercial airliners to change their routes to protect their radio communications and to avoid deadly solar radiation could begin as soon as this fall, scientists announced Monday.
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Once Upon a Time...: Our Mad Hatter, and the Drive Toward Annihilation

Our Mad Hatter, and the Drive Toward Annihilation
If there is an advanced alien race watching mankind from somewhere beyond the stars, they must be struck with astonishment and wonder at the enthusiasm with which we court our own annihilation. We already possess fearsome weapons that could destroy all of life on earth many times over. Yet this is not enough: many of us insist we need still more, supposedly to better ensure our own "safety" and protection. This is not unlike a deranged man who presses a razor-sharp blade more deeply into his own throat, in an effort to prevent an attacker from killing him.
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Segway - S.U.V.

The Segway Cross-Terrain Transporter (XT)
is the latest self-balancing human transporter that provides
enhanced performance on a variety of terrain with minimal
environmental impact. Featuring all-terrain tires, a robust
fender design, extended-range lithium-ion batteries
and specially tuned software, this rugged Segway XT will go
practically anywhere you want to go.
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read the rest...

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Ultraviolet


Ultraviolet Posted by Picasa
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Well, I saw this over the weekend, and my review would go pretty much like this one. WARNING! Spoilers there (if anything an be said to have the power to 'spoil' this flick.)
Turn off your critical faculties, buy a big bucket of popcorn and settle in for a wild ride. The action is pretty relentless, so you don't have much time to criticize it. Before I even realized who the director was I felt it was a so-so ripoff of Equilibrium, the better movie, by far.

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IdiotBOX


"Bill of Rights"? What "Bill of Rights"? Posted by Picasa

see it all here...
IdiotBOX

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The Truth About Cars - General Motors Death Watch 59: X Marks the Spot

Capitalism at its finest...killing a world class carmaker for "the bottom line". --pseudolus
--------------
Yesterday, The Detroit News caught-up with Maximum Bob Lutz at the Geneva Auto Show. GM?s Car Czar was busy unveiling Saab?s Aero-X, a Corvette-based concept car from a brand that?s lost GM several billion dollars over 17 years. It probably seemed as good a time as any to ask Maxi Bob about GM Board of Directors' member Jerry York?s call to axe the Swedish brand. "I've spoken at length with Jerry York," Lutz said. "And he's off this get-rid-of-Saab thing." Thing? Calling the Turnaround King?s strategic recommendation a ?thing? is so condescending it qualifies Lutz for a British knighthood. More importantly, Maximum Bob?s summary dismissal tells you all you need to know about Saab?s future, and it ain?t good.
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Sexagenarians, drugs and rock'n'roll

Monday March 6, 2006
The Guardian

  
Recently Paul McCartney met a man who plays the piano in an old people's home. "I hope you don't mind," the pianist said, "but I play some of your songs and the most popular one is When I'm 64." Ah yes, the sugary music-hall ditty from Sergeant Pepper that people either love or hate. "But I have to change the title," the man went on, "because 64 seems young to those people. They don't get it." So he sings When I'm 84 instead. McCartney sees his point: "If I were to write it now," he told the Los Angeles Times last month, "I'd probably call it When I'm 94."
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GOP growing increasingly angry, frightened by Bush's missteps

By Steven Thomma and James Kuhnhenn
Knight Ridder Newspapers
 
WASHINGTON - President Bush, once the seemingly invincible vanguard of a new Republican majority, could be endangering his party's hold on power as the GOP heads into this year's midterm congressional elections.
 
A series of political missteps has raised questions about the Bush administration's candor, competence and credibility and left the White House off-balance, off-message and unable to command either the nation's policy agenda or its politics the way the president did during his first term.
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Do You Know How Your Vote Will Be Counted?

Published on Thursday, March 2, 2006 by the Washington Spectator
by Warren Stewart
 
The troubling truth about voting in America today is that a majority of the electorate casts their ballots on computers that run software that is hidden from public view and lacks any independent means of verification. The process by which our votes are cast and counted is controlled by private corporations to an extent that threatens the foundations of democracy.
 
Last September, the Government Accountability Office released a report on the security and reliability of electronic voting machines. The report, which detailed the findings of a nine-month study, said that "concerns about electronic voting machines have been realized and have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and miscount of votes." The GAO reported that it had confirmed instances of "weak security controls, system design flaws, inadequate system version control, inadequate security testing, incorrect system configuration, poor security management, and vague or incomplete voting system standards."
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Why I Cannot Support The Troops In Iraq

Published on Friday, March 3, 2006 by CommonDreams.org
by Doug Soderstrom
 
One of my friends has a son who volunteered to go to war. The son?s father, a democrat, and, of course, no fan of the president, has been a decided critic of the war. In talking with him the other day, he told me that, like any other father, he loves his son very much, but believes that his son made a terrible mistake by choosing to go to war. He informed me that he had done absolutely everything in his power to dissuade his son from joining the military, but no matter what he said, his son felt that he had a patriotic duty to serve his country. As of this moment, his son is stationed in Iraq.
 
I have no doubt that my friend loves his son just as much as I would love my own son if he had been the one to have chosen to go to war. However, even though he prays that his son will not be injured or killed in Iraq, he in no way supports that which his son has set out to do. As far as the father is concerned, his son?s decision to carry out his orders to kill others is likely no better than if he had decided to join the Mafia in order to be a hit man!
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Sometimes, Government Is the Answer

Published on Saturday, March 4, 2006 by the Los Angeles Times
Thanks to Halliburton, U.S. taxpayers are getting an expensive lesson in the costs of private contractors.
by Moshe Adler
  
The Pentagon's Defense Contract Audit Agency discovered that Halliburton Co. subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root paid $208 million too much for transporting oil to Iraq for the Army. But that is not all that it discovered. It also found that the government functions better when government employees, not private contractors, perform its tasks.
 
In addition to using Halliburton, the Pentagon has its own agency that supplies fuel to U.S. forces all over the world, including in Iraq. This is the Defense Energy Support Center, or DESC.
 
To deliver oil in Iraq, both Halliburton and the DESC contracted the same Kuwaiti trucking company, Altanmia. But Halliburton's deal with Altanmia was more costly ? so much so that the final bill Halliburton submitted to the American taxpayers was 40% higher per gallon of gasoline than the DESC's.
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Pat Tillman Case: How the Press Was Spun

Published on Sunday, March 5, 2006 by Editor & Publisher
by Greg Mitchell

The killing of the former pro football star in Afghanistan is back in the news, as the military probes possible criminal charges. But the military officials who lied for so long to the press, to the public--and, even worse, to Tillman's family--continue to escape penalty.
 
The Pat Tillman case is back in the news, with the Army?s belated announcement that it is launching a criminal probe into the ?friendly fire? killing of the former pro football star in Afghanistan in April 2004. It?s a long way, indeed, since those days immediately after the tragic incident when Tillman's death was promoted by the Pentagon as a symbol of American goodness in the war on terrorists.
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Did 308,000 Cancelled Ohio Voter Registrations Put Bush Back In the White House?

Published on Thursday, March 2, 2006 by the Columbus Free Press (Ohio) 
by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
  
While life goes on during the Bush2 nightmare, so does the research on what really happened here in 2004 to give George W. Bush a second term.
 
Pundits throughout the state and nation---many of them alleged Democrats---continue to tell those of us who question Bush's second coming that we should "get over it," that the election is old news.
 
But things get curiouser and curiouser.
 
In our 2005 compendium How the GOP Stole Ohio's 2004 Election & Is Rigging 2008, we list more than a hundred different ways the Republican Party denied the democratic process in the Buckeye State. For a book of documents to be published September 11 by the New Press entitled What Happened In Ohio?, we are continuing to dig.
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Lott on Low-Income Heating Pleas: "I thought we were having global warming."

Yes, but this low-life will get his vacation home rebuilt with the help of the state and federal governments becauee it's in a flood prone neighborhood and got damaged during hurricane Katrina. That kind of help is A-OK with him. Oh, and as for "free" stuff for people, "where does it end?", what's with $7B tax breaks for the oil companies that just reported new record profits in the billions? That is OK with Lott, as well. --pseudolus
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Lott on Low-Income Heating Pleas: "I thought we were having global warming."
How cruel and indifferent is Republican Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi?
 
With a bipartisan alliance that included Rhode Island Democrat Jack Reed and moderate Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine arguing passionately in favor of badly-needed emergency funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Lott took to the microphone to give his take on providing warm homes to the elderly and disabled.
 
"What is it we are not going to give people for free? Is there any limit? Is there any limit to the amount of money?" asked Lott, adding snidely ?I thought we were having global warming."

...Snowe�s colleague from Maine, Republican Susan Collins, supported the legislation in more real-life terms.

�I want my colleagues to understand exactly what is at stake here,� said Collins. �Early Tuesday morning, my State suffered a terrible tragedy--three people, including a woman and her 10-year-old son, died when their house caught fire and burned to the ground. There was the most deadly fire in Maine in 6 years. They lived in Limestone, ME, a town in northern Maine. On the night of the fire, temperatures were below zero. The family had run out of heating oil, and as a result, was using wood stoves to provide the heat. According to the firefighters, the fire started near one of the wood stoves in the kitchen. This is literally a matter of life and death.�

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A Growing Anger Over Unpaid Rebates - New York Times

By ALINA TUGEND
Published: March 4, 2006
 
WHEN my husband went shopping for a memory card for our digital camera, he looked at several and was finally swayed by one offering a $20 rebate.
 
He carefully filled out a card with all the details needed for the rebate, sent in the packaging code and the original receipt, and after a few months forgot all about it. He has never received the money or a notice explaining why he didn't get it ? and he is less than eager to chase after such a small amount.
 
His experience is fairly typical: according to research by Vericours Inc., a consulting company, about 40 percent of rebate offers are never redeemed.
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What happens when you Stun Gun yourself? at directionzero

Pocket Taser Stun Gun, a great gift for the wife.
 
This was the advertisement in Larry?s Pistol & Pawn Shop window next to the condo we rented last month in Florida. So I went in to check it out. I saw something that sparked my interest. The occasion was our 30th anniversary and I was looking for a little something extra for my wife Gisele. What I came across was a 100,000 volt, pocket/purse-sized taser.
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Sunday, March 05, 2006

"Crying" Bill O'Reilly - Chin music irks beanball pitcher

...To be fair, O'Reilly never actually used the term 'cut and run.' Neither did U.S. Rep. John Murtha, whom O'Reilly has called a 'cut-and-runner.' Neither did Howard Dean, whom O'Reilly has called 'a cut-and-run guy.'

O'Reilly constantly slings the 'cut-and-run' mud at those who deem our excellent Iraq adventure anything less than a noble necessity, whether they've used the term or not.

But when you sling it right back at him, it's all so unfair.
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How Conservatives and Liberals Organize Into Social Groups - Part 1

Few things have the evolutionary value of social life. Humans are unique in their propensity to organize into multiple social groups, maintaining different sets of behaviors and status levels within those groups, and terminating or initiating participation in those groups at a rapid pace. The communal and affiliative behaviors associated with family groups break down quickly within large groups, as competitive behaviors propagate in proportion to group size and genetic variation within the group.
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