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, April 08, 2006

Kill Bill Vol. 3 - Los Angeles CityBeat


click picture above to enlarge........but why?
'Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.'
'Napoleon Bonaparte
 
A few weeks ago, Bill O'Reilly let all of his hardly concealed megalomania hang out as he warned his audience, 'When you call us, ladies and gentlemen, we do have your phone number, and if you say anything untoward, obscene, or anything like that, Fox security then will contact your local authorities, and you will be held accountable.' Cyber-legend went into instant action, and stories circulated of liberal callers to The O'Reilly Factor receiving threatening phone calls from individuals claiming to be Fox security officers, leaving an extreme impression that Fox News honcho Roger Ailes not only thinks he's running the U.S. Ministry of Truth but is now employing his own Thought Police.
 
This isn't, however, the first time that O'Reilly has opted for the bullyboy goose step. In the 2004 sexual harassment suit brought against him by Fox News producer Andrea Mackris, she mentioned that, amid all of Bill's huffing and puffing about vibrators and threesomes, he had boasted how Fox might arrange a mob-style hit or death-squad disappearance for Al Franken: 'One day, he's going to get a knock on the door, and his life as he's known it will change forever.' Of course, Al is still with us, but, last fall, Ol' Bill tried again, threatening a Joe McCarthy-style enemies list of all the lying traitors on the far left. Unfortunately, when entire blue-state populations demanded to be included on what they saw as a roll of honor, the idea was dropped.
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Kleenex Workers

by Barbara Ehrenreich 
 
Was it only three years ago that some of our puffed up patriots were denouncing the French as ?cheese-eating surrender monkeys,? too fattened on Camembert to stub out their Gaulois and get down with the war on Iraq? Well, take another look at the folks who invented the word libert�. Throughout the month of March and beyond, they were demonstrating, rioting, and burning up cars to preserve a right Americans can only dream of: the right not to be fired at an employer?s whim.
 
The French government?s rationale for its new labor law was impeccable from an economist?s standpoint: Make it easier for employers to fire people and they will be more willing to hire people. So why was Paris burning?
 
What corporations call ?flexibility??the right to dispose of workers at will?is what workers experience as disposability, not to mention insecurity and poverty. The French students who were tossing Molotov cocktails didn?t want to become what they call ?a Kleenex generation??used and tossed away when the employer decides he needs a fresh one.
 
You may recognize in the French government?s reasoning the same arguments Americans hear whenever we raise a timid plea for a higher minimum wage or a halt to the steady erosion of pensions and health benefits: ?What?? scream the economists who flack for the employing class. ?If you do anything, anything at all, to offend or discomfit the employers, they will respond by churlishly failing to employ you! Unemployment will rise, and you?lacking, of course, the health care and other benefits provided by the French welfare state?will quickly spiral down into starvation.?
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Conniving, Greedy, Lying, and Deceitful


by Duncan E. Beaton-the Bangor Daily News (Maine)
 
I have been a registered Republican since the early 1950s, as has my wife, Dot. In fact our dedication to the Grand Old Party was such that we used to ride our horses around our Buckingham Township, Pa., neighborhood with Republican candidates' bumper stickers on their backsides. Now, we never considered the implication, but we found out later that one of those candidates was a real "horsesass."
 
If we had horses today, that's right where we'd stick George Bush's bumper sticker, on our horse's asses.
 
This is the worst administration in our memory. As a Fiscal Conservative, I began disliking Bush when he proposed major tax cuts as a means to get elected in 2000. Despite that, given the choice of two inept presidential candidates we voted for Bush as "the lesser of two evils."
 
Little did we know.
 
Once elected he immediately borrowed $49 billion to fund the massive tax cut, which primarily benefited the wealthy, increased the deficit and the national debt.
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Wal-Mart's Dirty Secret is Out - by John J. Sweeney

The Dubai Ports World battle has trumpeted the gaping holes in our seaports' security systems, but few ask: Why are U.S. ports so poorly protected nearly five years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001? Why has the government spent just $630 million -- less than 4 percent of the $18 billion-plus we have spent since 9/11 on airport security -- to make ports safer?
 
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., said it best: "[We] talk about having strong homeland security, checking 100 percent of cargo containers. In the end, our commercial interests get ahead of us."
 
Those commercial interests are led by the world's largest retailer and the United States' biggest importer, Wal-Mart. Hunter let slip what is surely Wal-Mart's dirtiest secret: the company, through its Washington, D.C., lobbyist, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, has time and again since 9/11 opposed new port and supply-chain security rules that might cut into Wal-Mart's record profits. Its mantra is: "Security requirements should not become a barrier to trade."
In the past few years, Wal-Mart has:

Opposed the introduction of anti-terrorist "smart containers" and electronic seals for cargo containers coming into U.S. ports. The retail industry called them "feel good (security) measures."
Opposed independent and regular inspections of supply-chain security practices around the world.
Opposed tougher rules requiring Wal-Mart to let Customs know what it's shipping in and where it comes from.
Opposed new container-handling fees to pay for improved port security.
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Orlando Sentinel - The movie Sony re-HEALLY doesn't want critics to see by Roger Moore

Posted on Apr 5, 2006 2:43:27 PM
How bad is The Benchwarmers? So bad that Sony disinvited the press, al over America, from seeing the darned thing.

Except in Orlando. And therein, is a tale...
I go see the movie Monday night as an invited member of the press.
It sucks (shockingly, seeing as how Rob Schneider is in it, Adam Sandler produced it, and David Spade blows and sucks in a co-starring role).
I write a review, not the nastiest ever, but close enough.
It's posted on our KRT wire service. It's the only one there. Nobody else saw it.
And next thing you know, Sony people, from marketing, advertising and the like (apparently not communicating with one another) are calling us, and newspapers planning on running the review. Calls to Dallas, Kansas City, Toledo, and on down the line.
And with the calls from Sony, come the lies. The review is "bogus," they tell one editor. "Unauthorized." That I "disguised" myself to get in (a roped-off row for "press" is not exactly incognito) to another. That KRT subscribing papers have to "pay" extra to run the review.
I had an invitation. "You and a guest are cordially invited..." Regional studio rep. forgets to uninvite me, if the studio ever told her to do so. Local rep knows nothing of such shenanigans. And I've since been told that the Jacksonville and Tampa paper's critics also got to see it, but not being wire service providers, weren't noticed until later. Sony, there's a hint as to where your problem is. Several Florida papers were somehow invited to two separate screenings. Get the connection?
I saw the movie, with an audience. No disguise, no nothing.
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  • The movie Sony re-HEALLY doesn't want critics to see

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  • Neil Young and Dad: Writin' in the Free World

    Neil Young once sang, "Old man, look at my life, I'm a lot like you were." Indeed, the veteran rock star is a writer, just like his father -- one of Canada's most famous journalists as a reporter and columnist for leading Toronto newspapers.
     
    By Greg Mitchell
     
    (April 05, 2006) -- It's hard to explain or defend, but I have been a Neil Young fan for (gulp) almost 40 years, from Buffalo Springfield to the new Jonathan Demme film tribute, and I did not know until today that his father was a famed Toronto sportswriter who also covered World War II and, believe it or not, the JFK assassination.
     
    In fact, I thought he was maybe some kind of farmer, since Neil grew up in the Canadian sticks that he sings about in his latest album "Prairie Wind." All I knew for sure about his father (my fandom only goes so far) was this: He gave Neil his first guitar, actually a ukulele, when he was a boy. To a guitar thrasher, that seemed like quite enough.
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    Friday, April 07, 2006


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    Evolution Of Irreducible Complexity Explained

    by Staff Writers
    Eugene OR (SPX) Apr 07, 2006

    Using new techniques for resurrecting ancient genes, scientists have for the first time reconstructed the Darwinian evolution of an apparently "irreducibly complex" molecular system.
     
    The research was led by Joe Thornton, assistant professor of biology at the University of Oregon's Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and will be published in the April 7 issue of SCIENCE.
     
    How natural selection can drive the evolution of complex molecular systems ? those in which the function of each part depends on its interactions with the other parts--has been an unsolved issue in evolutionary biology. Advocates of Intelligent Design argue that such systems are "irreducibly complex" and thus incompatible with gradual evolution by natural selection.
     
    "Our work demonstrates a fundamental error in the current challenges to Darwinism," said Thornton. "New techniques allowed us to see how ancient genes and their functions evolved hundreds of millions of years ago. We found that complexity evolved piecemeal through a process of Molecular Exploitation -- old genes, constrained by selection for entirely different functions, have been recruited by evolution to participate in new interactions and new functions."
     
    The scientists used state-of-the-art statistical and molecular methods to unravel the evolution of an elegant example of molecular complexity ? the specific partnership of the hormone aldosterone, which regulates behavior and kidney function, along with the receptor protein that allows the body's cells to respond to the hormone. They resurrected the ancestral receptor gene ? which existed more than 450 million years ago, before the first animals with bones appeared on Earth ? and characterized its molecular functions. The experiments showed that the receptor had the capacity to be activated by aldosterone long before the hormone actually evolved.
     
    Thornton's group then showed that the ancestral receptor also responded to a far more ancient hormone with a similar structure; this made it "preadapated" to be recruited into a new functional partnership when aldosterone later evolved. By recapitulating the evolution of the receptor's DNA sequence, the scientists showed that only two mutations were required to evolve the receptor's present-day functions in humans.
     
    "The stepwise process we were able to reconstruct is entirely consistent with Darwinian evolution," Thornton said. "So-called irreducible complexity was just a reflection of a limited ability to see how evolution works. By reaching back to the ancestral forms of genes, we were able to show just how this crucial hormone-receptor pair evolved."
     
    The study's other researchers include Jamie T. Bridgham, postdoctorate research associate in evolutionary biology and Sean M. Carroll, graduate research fellow in biology. The work was funded by National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health grants and an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship recently awarded to Thornton.
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    Curt Weldon's Family

    By Paul Kiel - April 6, 2006, 12:37 PM
     
    Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) thinks it was inappropriate for his opponent to bring his daughter to Washington so she could receive cancer treatments.
     
    But it was okay for Weldon to bring his daughter to Washington to make money off her dad? Perhaps now is a good time to remind everyone of Weldon's special relationship with his daughter.
     
    The LA Times broke the story back in 2004 that Weldon's daughter Karen, then in her late twenties, ran a lobbying firm that was raking in approximately $1 million a year - and by some strange coincidence, her three main clients all had developed a relationship with her father, Curt.
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    Local Teacher's Run-In With Homeland Security Creates Insecurities - Yahoo! News

    A local school employee said a rough run-in with a couple of
    Homeland Security officers has left him with a strong sense of insecurity.
    Leander Pickett, a teacher's assistant at Englewood Elementary, said he was manhandled and handcuffed by two plain clothed Homeland Security officers in front of the school Tuesday for no reason at all.
     
    "I would like to treat people the way I would want to be treated, and yesterday I wasn't treated that way," Pickett said.
     
    Pickett has been working at Englewood for two years, and his principal and colleagues told Channel 4 they have never met a harder worker or nicer guy.
     
    "He's well loved by everyone because he's willing to do anything to help children," said the Englewood Elementary Principal Gail Brinson.
     
    However, Tuesday afternoon Pickett's niceness turned to anger, disappointment, and betrayal when, as Pickett was directing bus traffic, he said he was handcuffed and roughed up and humiliated by the very people that were supposed to protect him.
     
    "I walked up to him and said, 'Sir, you need to move.' That's when he said 'I'm a police officer. I'm with Homeland Security ... I'll move it when I want to.' That's when he started grabbing me on my arm," Pickett said.
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    Republican Bliss: The Selfish Road to Happiness

    Republicans are happier than Democrats, according to the report "Are We Happy Yet?" recently released by the Pew Research Center. Based on a nationally representative, random sample in the United States, 45% of Republicans report being "very happy," compared with just 30% of Democrats and 19% of Independents.
     
    What is particularly striking about this finding is that it is not simply a reflection of the current political environment. Rather, as the Pew report notes, Republicans have been consistently happier than Democrats throughout the entire period since 1972, when the General Social Survey (GSS) began measuring happiness in the US.
     
    What's more, Republicans are happier than Democrats even after controlling for other factors. For instance, among individuals making less than $30,000 per year, 28% of Republicans report being "very happy," versus 23% of Democrats. Among individuals making over $75,000 per year, 52% of Republicans report being very happy versus 41% of Democrats.
     
    So how can these consistent differences in happiness be explained? Three types of causal relationships that may be invoked to explain this association between party affiliation and happiness. Being a Republican may cause greater happiness. Or it may be that happier people are more likely to become Republican. Or, perhaps both happiness and party affiliation are related because both are determined by some other causal factor.
     
    To better understand how these causal relationships might operate let's look at some potential sources of happiness, or subjective well being, at a more general level.
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    Wall Street Dems Unveil Plans to Undermine the Progressive Movement- by David Sirota

    Here's a big shocker - the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party today announced it would be beginning its new war in earnest on the grassroots elements of the party that are demanding serious public policy changes. As the Financial Times reports, Citigroup Chairman Bob Rubin held a press conference at the Brookings Institution to announce the formation of the so-called "Hamilton Project." After paying lip service to various economic problems afflicting the country, Rubin and his former Treasury colleague Roger Altman quickly let it be known exactly what they are up to.
     
    Here's the key excerpt:
     
    "At a time when Democrats have become more aggressive in voicing concerns about the foreign ownership of US assets, Roger Altman, former deputy Treasury secretary under Mr Clinton, added that more inclusive economic growth could also 'blunt the political demands for protectionism'...[The group] said it was willing to take on entrenched Democratic interests, such as teaching unions. Policy papers unveiled on Wednesday proposed vouchers for summer schools..."
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    The Tethered Goat Strategy - by Sidney Blumenthal

    Amid an internal crisis of credibility, Condoleezza Rice has washed her hands of her department
     
    Since the Iraqi elections in January, US foreign service officers at the Baghdad embassy have been writing a steady stream of disturbing cables describing drastically worsening conditions. Violence from incipient communal civil war is rapidly rising. Last month there were eight times as many assassinations committed by Shia militias as terrorist murders by Sunni insurgents. The insurgency, according to the reports, also continues to mutate. Meanwhile, President Bush's strategy of training Iraqi police and army to take over from coalition forces - "when they stand up, we'll stand down" - is perversely and portentously accelerating the strife. State department officials in the field are reporting that Shia militias use training as cover to infiltrate key positions. Thus the strategy to create institutions of order and security is fuelling civil war.
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    A Culture of Corruption - by Bill Moyers

    Let's Save Our Democracy by Getting Money Out of Politics
     
    Money is choking our democracy to death. Our elections are bought out from under us and our public officials are doing the bidding of mercenaries. So powerful is the hold of wealth on politics that we cannot say America is working for all Americans. The majority may support such broad social goals as affordable medical coverage for all, decent wages for working people, safe working conditions, a secure retirement, and clean air and water, but there is no government "of, by, and for the people" to deliver on those aspirations.
     
    Our system of privately financed campaigns has shut regular people out of any meaningful participation in democracy. Less than one-half of one percent of all Americans made a political contribution of $200 or more to a federal candidate in 2004. When the average cost of winning a seat in the House of Representatives has topped $1 million, we can no longer refer to that chamber as "The People's House." Congress belongs to the highest bidder.
     
    At the same time that the cost of getting elected is exploding beyond the reach of ordinary people, the business of influencing our elected representatives has become a growth industry. Since President Bush was elected the number of registered lobbyists in Washington has more than doubled. That's 16,342 lobbyists in 2000 and 34,785 last year: 65 lobbyists for every member of Congress. The total spent per month by special interests wining, dining, and seducing federal officials is now nearly $200 million. Per month.
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    Dems call for Bush to 'come clean,' cite 8 denials

    Today's "Great Philosophical Pondering" is this:
    Can a Unitary President create a law so strong even He can't break it? Discuss...
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    After today's claim by Ex-VP chief of staff "Scooter" Libby that he was led to believe the President had approved the leak of classified information to reporters, Democrats have called for the President to set the record straight about his alleged involvement.

    "President Bush must fully disclose his participation in the selective leaking of classified information," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid in a brief statement. "It's time for the President to come clean about his involvement in the leak case."

    The statement was accompanied by eight of the numerous instances in which Bush or his spokesman, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, denied the President had knowledge of the leak.

    That incidents identified by Democrats follow:

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    Thursday, April 06, 2006

    Blah3 - Give him hell, Harry.

    Richest Are Leaving Even the Rich Far Behind - By DAVID CAY JOHNSTON- New York Times

    When F. Scott Fitzgerald pronounced that the very rich "are different from you and me," Ernest Hemingway's famously dismissive response was: "Yes, they have more money." Today he might well add: much, much, much more money.
     
    The people at the top of America's money pyramid have so prospered in recent years that they have pulled far ahead of the rest of the population, an analysis of tax records and other government data by The New York Times shows. They have even left behind people making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
     
    Call them the hyper-rich.
     
    They are not just a few Croesus-like rarities. Draw a line under the top 0.1 percent of income earners - the top one-thousandth. Above that line are about 145,000 taxpayers, each with at least $1.6 million in income and often much more.
     
    The average income for the top 0.1 percent was $3 million in 2002, the latest year for which averages are available. That number is two and a half times the $1.2 million, adjusted for inflation, that group reported in 1980. No other income group rose nearly as fast.
     
    The share of the nation's income earned by those in this uppermost category has more than doubled since 1980, to 7.4 percent in 2002. The share of income earned by the rest of the top 10 percent rose far less, and the share earned by the bottom 90 percent fell.
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    Deregulation Gone Mad - by William Pfaff

    A man who played a key role in the deregulation of the U.S. airline industry in 1980, Tom Allison, at the time chief counsel to the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, says that if senators had known then what they know now about airline deregulation, they would never have passed the measure.
     
    Allison says that by lifting restrictions on airline competition, and on where airlines could fly, Congress unintentionally created unending disruption and cost to both industry and consumers, with gross accompanying inefficiencies.
     
    In an interview given to the International Herald Tribune in February, intended to influence the current debate in Europe over airline deregulation, he said the human and other costs of U.S. airline deregulation outweighed benefits to consumers, which were chiefly lower airfares on the popular routes between big cities that attract competition.
     
    Small-city air service, typically provided in the United States by single carriers, has greatly increased in cost, or has simply been abandoned. From any big American city, Allison said, "It's cheaper to fly to Paris than to Missoula." In practice, to get to Missoula, in Montana, you now need a car, the Greyhound Bus or a bicycle.
     
    Allison said that deregulation cut airline salaries, slashed retirement benefits, forced job cuts despite rises in the frequency of airline services, bankrupted many formerly great airlines or forced them into bankruptcy protection, ruined standards of airline service, raised fares on most non-mainline services, and made life miserable for travelers and airline employees.
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    When War Crimes Are Impossible - by Norman Solomon

    Is President Bush guilty of war crimes?
     
    To even ask the question is to go far beyond the boundaries of mainstream U.S. media.
     
    A few weeks ago, when a class of seniors at Parsippany High School in New Jersey prepared for a mock trial to assess whether Bush has committed war crimes, a media tempest ensued.
     
    Typical was the response from MSNBC host Tucker Carlson, who found the very idea of such accusations against Bush to be unfathomable. The classroom exercise "implies people are accusing him of a crime against humanity," Carlson said. "It's ludicrous."
     
    In Tennessee, the Chattanooga Times Free Press thundered in an editorial: "That some American 'educators' would have students 'try' our American president for 'war crimes' during time of war tells us that our problems are not only with terrorists abroad."
     
    The standard way for media to refer to Bush and war crimes in the same breath is along the lines of this lead-in to a news report on CNN's "American Morning" in late March: "The Supreme Court's about to consider a landmark case and one that could have far-reaching implications. At issue is President Bush's powers to create war crimes tribunals for Guantanamo prisoners."
     
    In medialand, when the subject is war crimes, the president of the United States points the finger at others. Any suggestion that Bush should face such a charge is assumed to be oxymoronic.
     
    But a few journalists, outside the corporate media structures, are seriously probing Bush's culpability for war crimes. One of them is Robert Parry.
     
    During the 1980s, Parry covered U.S. foreign policy for Associated Press and Newsweek; in the process he broke many stories related to the Iran-Contra scandal. Now he's the editor of the 10-year-old website Consortiumnews.com, an outlet he founded that has little use for the narrow journalistic path along Pennsylvania Avenue.
     
    "In a world where might did not make right," Parry wrote in a recent piece, "George W. Bush, Tony Blair and their key enablers would be in shackles before a war crimes tribunal at the Hague, rather than sitting in the White House, 10 Downing Street or some other comfortable environs in Washington and London."
     
    Over the top? I don't think so. In fact, Parry's evidence and analysis seem much more cogent -- and relevant to our true situation -- than the prodigious output of countless liberal-minded pundits who won't go beyond complaining about Bush's deceptions, miscalculations and tactical errors in connection with the Iraq war.
     
    Is Congress ready to consider the possibility that the commander in chief has committed war crimes during the past few years? Of course not. But the role of journalists shouldn't be to snuggle within the mental confines of Capitol Hill. We need the news media to fearlessly address matters of truth, not cravenly adhere to limits of expediency.
     
    When top officials in Lyndon Johnson's administration said that North Vietnam had launched two unprovoked attacks on U.S. vessels in the Gulf of Tonkin, the press corps took their word for it. When top officials in George W. Bush's administration said that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the press corps took their word for it.
     
    We haven't yet seen any noticeable part of the Washington press corps raise the matter of war crimes by the president. Very few dare to come near the terrain that Parry explored in his March 28 article "Time to Talk War Crimes."
     
    That article cites key statements by the U.S. representative to the Nuremberg Tribunal immediately after the Second World War. "Our position," declared Robert Jackson, a U.S. Supreme Court justice, "is that whatever grievances a nation may have, however objectionable it finds the status quo, aggressive warfare is an illegal means for settling those grievances or for altering those conditions."
     
    During a March 26 appearance on the NBC program "Meet the Press," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice tried to justify the invasion of Iraq this way: "We faced the outcome of an ideology of hatred throughout the Middle East that had to be dealt with. Saddam Hussein was a part of that old Middle East. The new Iraq will be a part of the new Middle East, and we will all be safer."
     
    But, in a new essay on April 3, Parry points out that "this doctrine -- that the Bush administration has the right to invade other nations for reasons as vague as social engineering -- represents a repudiation of the Nuremberg Principles and the United Nations Charter's ban on aggressive war, both formulated largely by American leaders six decades ago."
     
    Parry flags the core of the administration's maneuver: "Gradually, Rice and other senior Bush aides shifted their rationale from Hussein's WMD to a strategic justification, that is, politically transforming the Middle East." He concludes that "implicit in the U.S. news media's non-coverage of Rice's new rationale for war is that there is nothing objectionable or alarming about the Bush administration turning its back on principles of civilized behavior promulgated by U.S. statesmen at the Nuremberg Tribunal six decades ago."
     
    Although the evidence is ample that President Bush led the way to aggressive warfare against Iraq, the mainstream U.S. news media keep proceeding on the assumption that -- when the subject is war crimes -- he's well cast as an accuser but should never be viewed as an appropriate defendant.
     
    Norman Solomon's latest book is "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death." For information, go to: www.WarMadeEasy.com 
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    Where Rich Beget Super-Rich, Material Virtue is Never A Lock by Pierre Tristam

    Forbes' annual ranking of the world's billionaires -- the plutocracy's swimsuit issue -- is out along with its familiar bods: Bill Gates at the top with $50 billion, which is more than the total GDP of about 150 countries; Warren Buffet at $42 billion; Carlos Slim Helu, the Mexican-Lebanese financier, at $30 billion; the gang of five Waltons (Sam's heirs), each of whom clocks in at close to $16 billion for a sum-total of $79 billion; and so on.
     
    Three years ago there were 476 billionaires. Now there are 793, each of them a tea leaf of speculation for the rest of us. Wealth these days elicits reactions usually associated with sex: desire, envy, resentment (toward those who have so much of it), moral judgments. But no matter how ostentatious, other people's sex lives are irrelevant to public welfare. Not so with wealth, least of all the wealth of the wealthiest, because that wealth isn't of their making as much as they'd like you to believe.
     
    "Some people automatically associate great wealth with evil, and they deserve the ridicule they get," Michael Kinsley wrote in a recent column. "But the automatic association of great wealth with virtue is equally fatuous." He then followed with this fatuous line: "It's probably true that most billionaires have acquired their wealth in ways that make life better for the rest of us." The last line assumes cause-and-effect between wealth and material virtue that adds up to this: The wealthier you are, the more you've contributed to the general well-being. It's a convenient way of saying that the wealthy should be praised most and taxed less because they contribute so much. The proposition has been taken pretty much at face value since Ronald Reagan began the go-go years of tax-cutting. But to equate wealth accumulation with making life "better for the rest of us" is absurd.
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    "Anti-Christian Conspirators" Slay DeLay

    by Robert Scheer 
    Blame it on the vast anti-Christian conspiracy. That was the explanation offered by U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas and his supporters last week for the whirlpool of legal difficulties that finally led the ex-leader of the Republicans in Congress to admit it was time to call it quits.
     
    The convener of a ?War on Christians? conference held in the nation?s capital outrageously depicted the former House majority leader?s political plight as the unwarranted crucifixion of a Christ-like leader by God-haters. And, with his trademark gall, the infamously ethically challenged DeLay eagerly embraced this explanation when it was his turn to speak to the adoring crowd.
     
    ?We have been chosen to live as Christians at a time when our culture is being poisoned and our world is being threatened,? thundered the Texan pest-control entrepreneur who rose to become one of America?s most powerful politicians. ?The enemies of virtue may be on the march, but they have not won.?
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    I am always amazed at the power we demon-cRats attain whenever one of these skunks suddenly decides to "spend-more-time-with-the-family". Suddenly, we evil liberals who can no longer win elections or polls or anything-and-who-don't-have-a-single-new-idea-for-this-post-9/11-world can put the boots to self-righteous God bothering men such as Brother DeLay who don't deserve this after all he gave to America. yawn ...retch
    --pseudolus

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    Evangelicals Rally Their Flocks Behind Israel

    by Bill Berkowitz
    OAKLAND - To prevent the George W. Bush administration from pressuring the Israelis into turning over even more land, Hagee, the pastor of San Antonio's Cornerstone Church and the head of a multi-million-dollar evangelical enterprise, recently brought together 400 Christian evangelical leaders -- representing as many as 30 million Christians -- for an invitation-only "Summit on Israel".
     
    The result was the launch of a new pro-Israel lobbying group called Christians United for Israel (CUFI).
     
    By 2002, a number of veteran Christian conservative evangelical leaders and Republican Party power brokers had joined forces with conservative Jewish leaders to launch several pro-Israel organisations. But the history of Jewish-evangelical involvement goes back several decades.
     
    According to Rabbi James Rudin, writing in his recently published book, "The Baptising of America: The Religious Right's Plans for the Rest of U.S.," "the first [modern] evangelical-Jewish meeting" took place in New York in 1975.
     
    A bevy of issues including "the meaning of Messiah in both traditions, Jesus the Jew, biblical theology and the meaning of modern Israel and Jerusalem for Christian conservatives and Jews" were discussed.
     
    Rudin points out that "the evangelical commitment to Israel creates some... ambivalence" in the Jewish community, since that "commitment" is built on the biblical belief that "without an Israel, an ingathering of Jewish exiles, [the] major event in Christian eschatology [the Second coming of Jesus to Jerusalem] cannot take place."
     
    "That is why some evangelicals are dismayed at any Israeli withdrawal or disengagement from any area of the biblical 'Holy Land.' That is also why the strong Christian conservative support of Israel is not linked to Middle East realpolitik or America's growing thirst for Arab oil," Rudin says.
     
    Although not as well known on the national political scene as some of his evangelical brethren, Hagee has built an impressive evangelical empire and developed strong political ties to the Republican Party.
     
    Since his 1978 "conversion" to Zionism, he has emphasised establishing and maintaining good relations with Israeli leaders and conservative sectors of the U.S. Jewish community. Over the years he has met with Israeli heads of state and carved out a special relationship with former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose Likud Party performed dismally in the recent elections in Israel.
     
    "Think of CUFI as a Christian version of American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)," the powerful pro-Israel lobby, Hagee told The Jerusalem Post in an interview a few days before his February summit. "We need to be able to respond instantly to Washington with our concerns about Israel. We must join forces to speak as one group and move as one body to [respond to] the crisis Israel will be facing in the near future."
     
    While Hagee wouldn't spell out which particular crisis he was concerned with, he did tell the Israeli newspaper that "'the Bible issue', namely what he considers to be the mistaken policy of trading parts of the biblical Land of Israel for peace", was at the top of CUFI's list.
     
    "Every state in the Union, every congressional district" will be accounted for, Hagee added.
     
    A post-meeting report at the John Hagee Ministries website said that Christians United for Israel had put together a national board consisting of Hagee as national chairman, fundamentalist minister Jerry Falwell, Gary Bauer, president of American Values, and Pastor George Morrison of Arvada, Colorado.
     
    Christians United for Israel intends to establish a 50-state rapid-response network that aims to reach every senator and congressman in the U.S. The organisation is also concerned with "protecting marriage, family and faith", Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, reported.
     
    Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg of San Antonio's Congregation Rodfei Sholom attended the meeting and called it a historic gathering. Scheinberg told the San Antonio Express-News that "It's the first nationwide effort I know of to unify evangelical leaders in support of Israel. These leaders who participated speak for millions of people. This organisation has phenomenal potential in supporting, defending and advocating for Israel."
     
    Pastor Hagee and Rabbi Scheinberg go way back. In a story entitled "Our Jewish Roots" published in JHMagazine, Hagee tells of a June 1978 visit to Israel where he "went ... as a tourist and came home a Zionist." When he returned home he decided to organise "A Night to Honour Israel." According to Hagee's account, Rabbi Scheinberg "pressed the Jewish Community into taking a chance and extending its hand in mutual friendship."
     
    The rabbi, pictured with Hagee in several photographs in JHMagazine, delivered the benediction at the first "A Night to Honour Israel" event in 1981, and has been a regular participant ever since.
     
    Members of CUFI intend to meet with "legislators in Washington for two days in July to tell them about the organisation and its platform, and express their support for Israel," according to Haaretz. In addition, the "A Night to Honor Israel" event will be expanded and held in several cities simultaneously.
     
    CUFI's website maintains that the group was founded "to provide a national organisation through which every pro-Israel organisation and ministry in America can speak and act with one voice in support of Israel in matters related to Biblical issues".
     
    "We see Christians in the United States as true friends and important supporters on the basis of shared values, and we welcome their efforts to strengthen the ties between Israel and the U.S.," said Israeli Ambassador to the United States Danny Ayalon.
     
    In addition to running San Antonio's well-attended Cornerstone Church, Hagee heads up the multimillion-dollar evangelism enterprise called Global Evangelism Television. Over four decades, members of his ministry have donated millions to carry out his mission.
     
    Global Evangelism Television has become a massive money-making family enterprise which brings in millions of dollars year after year by selling inspirational books, tapes and the promise of prosperity.
     
    Hagee is the author of a number of books including "Attack on America -- New York, Jerusalem, and the role of Terrorism in the Last Days", and "The Beginning of the End -- The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Coming Antichrist". His latest non-fiction book is called "Jerusalem Countdown -- A Warning to the World", which landed on best-seller lists.
     
    The new book posits that "biblical prophecy is playing itself out daily in the Middle East," Agape Press, a Christian-based news service, reported. "Hagee says Iran's new president, coupled with... [the] victory by terrorist-backed Hamas in the Palestinian elections, paves the way for an impending war in the region."
     
    In addition to spearheading the launch of Christians United for Israel, and appearing on a panel at the recent National Religious Broadcasters convention, Hagee has aligned himself with a number of Christian right evangelicals that condemned the Evangelical Climate Initiative, signed by 86 evangelical leaders acknowledging the seriousness of global warming and pledging to press for legislation to limit carbon dioxide emissions.
     
    *Bill Berkowitz is a longtime observer of the conservative movement. His WorkingForChange column "Conservative Watch" documents the strategies, players, institutions, victories and defeats of the U.S. Right.
     
    Copyright � 2006 IPS-Inter Press Service
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    Shooting of British Cameraman by Israeli Soldier Cold-Blooded Murder, Inquest Told

    by Vikram Dodd
    A military expert yesterday told an inquest that the death of a British journalist who was shot dead by an Israeli soldier was "calculated, cold-blooded murder".
     
    James Miller, 34, was killed by a single shot in May 2003 in Gaza while making a documentary about the suffering of Palestinian children. No soldier has been disciplined or charged and in court the cameraman's family have accused Israel of a coverup, claiming there is evidence that his killer is Lieutenant Heib of the Israeli defence force.

    British journalist James Miller was killed by a single shot in May 2003 in Gaza while making a documentary about the suffering of Palestinian children.
     
    The jury yesterday was told by Chris Cobb-Smith, who investigated Mr Miller's death, that the fatal shot was "deliberate" and not an accident. Mr Miller died as he and colleagues were trying to leave a Palestinian house at night, holding a white flag with a torch shone on it, clad in body armour and helmets with the letters "TV" written on it in fluorescent tape.
     
    Mr Cobb-Smith, a former British army officer and UN weapons inspector, said Mr Miller and his colleagues would have been visible to the Israeli soldiers, who had night vision goggles. The sky was cloudless, the moon was shining and electric lights were shining from nearby houses. "My conclusion is this was calculated and cold-blooded murder, without a shadow of a doubt," Mr Cobb-Smith told the jury at St Pancras coroner's court in London.
     
    The jury were again showed video of the shooting captured by another cameraman.
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    Selling Out or Buying In?

    by Dara O'Rourke
    First my socially responsible ice cream. Then my local, earth-conscious juice. Then my hip, alternative, throwback sneakers. Then my daughter's organic yogurt. Then my wife's animal-friendly cosmetics. Now it's the one toothpaste I believed in . . . if it makes any sense to believe in a toothpaste.
     
    Ben and Jerry's was bought out by Unilever. Fresh Samantha was devoured by Odwalla, itself owned by Coca-Cola. Converse by Nike. Stonyfield Farms by Danone. Aveda by Estee Lauder. The Body Shop by L'Oreal. Now Tom's of Maine sells out, is bought out, is merged in, or, if you believe the founder, is to be a ''stand-alone subsidiary" of Colgate-Palmolive.
     
    Many of the products we think of as ''alternative" or ''natural" or ''socially responsible" or just plain ''independent" are now owned by major multinational corporations. Perhaps this is good? A sign that mainstream America cares and wants to buy these kinds of products? Tom Chappell, cofounder of Tom's of Maine, calls it an irony that ''although we are growing in the high teens and low 20s, it's not enough to meet a demand 10 times the size." Tom goes on to explain that, ''about 25 percent of Americans are interested in these kinds of products."
     
    So as Tom wants us to believe, this selling-out isn't about cashing in, it's about reaching the masses through those elusive retail channels only a multinational corporation can access.
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    Volkswagen Golf GTI DSG

    I don�t know about you, but I�ve been feeling sorry for Volkswagen for a while now. VW didn�t so much lose their mojo as strap it to the nose of a Titan IVB and fire it into deep space. No disrespect to the supporters of the US agriculture and construction industries, but was anyone really surprised when a VW Golf hecho en Mexico turned out like a fajita cooked in Lower Saxony? Now that Vee Dub�s got THAT out of their system (and invested billions south of the border), here comes the new, Wolfsburg-built Golf GTI. It�s an Old School hot hatch with a Masters in High Tech. Viva VW!
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    read more...Volkswagen Golf GTI DSG

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    Wednesday, April 05, 2006


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    Tuesday, April 04, 2006

    War: A Theft From Those Who Hunger -by Gilbert Jordan

    "I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity."
    - - General of the Army D.D. Eisenhower
     
    Several years ago I read about a person commiserating with his friend about a serious medical diagnosis. "How bad is it?" he inquired. "Well, let's put it this way: I've stopped flossing."
     
    That anecdote is a perfect analogy for the quagmire we find ourselves in on the recently observed third anniversary of our invasion of Iraq. That war of choice, not necessity, is a milepost in our growth as an imperial power. It is the natural outcome of a half century of increased militarization, time when we have grown to accept the idea that a substantial portion of our resources must be diverted from human needs to building a military force invincible to challenge.
     
    As is well documented in a new film, "Why We Fight," the current militarization of America had its roots in the Second World War. The film focuses on Dwight Eisenhower's 1961 farewell speech to the nation at the end of his eight-year presidency. In a remarkably prescient warning, he told Americans that for the first time in our history we had produced a permanent arms industry and that "we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society."
     
    What Eisenhower saw 45 years ago has metastasized into a gargantuan military juggernaut whose cost exceeds the arms expenditures of all other nations combined. Eisenhower would be stunned at the growth of this beast now sucking wealth, life, and democracy out of America. It has become the tail that wags the dog, a force so huge and thoroughly ingrained in our culture and political institutions that some believe its dominance has become irreversible.
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    Protesting is Not Terrorism

    So why is the FBI policing democracy as if it is?
    Terrorism is defined as the use of violence against civilian targets for political aims: the Oklahoma federal building bombing of 1995, the 9/11 attacks, suicide bombings against civilian targets in Israel and Iraq. Protesting is not terrorism, thinking about protesting even less so. In fact, protesting is recognized in the First Amendment as "the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." The FBI must not be reading that far down into the 45-word amendment.
     
    Even before the 9/11 attacks, the FBI changed its definition of terrorism to include the violent potential of protesters in the United States, and not just any kind of protester: Mainly, those who oppose government policy -- on globalism, on the war in Iraq -- or the government itself: anti-Bush protesters are barred from voicing their opinion within a half mile of the president, ostensibly as a security measure. The implicit message to those protesters is that they could be violent, therefore they could be terrorists, therefore they can be barred from expressing their First Amendment rights. How that explains the FBI's eye for gay activists, too, isn't clear, although agency files pried open in the 1990s showed consistent surveillance of gay groups petitioning for attention during the AIDS epidemic.
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    Despite talk of withdrawal 'when the job is done', there are signs that coalition troops will be there for the long term

    By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
    Published: 02 April 2006
     
    The Pentagon has revealed that coalition forces are spending millions of dollars establishing at least six "enduring" bases in Iraq - raising the prospect that US and UK forces could be involved in a long-term deployment in the country. It said it assumed British troops would operate one of the bases.
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    The Louie Report � Music Biz

    Back in 2004, I was extremely bummed out when I heard that Mojo Nixon would be retiring FOREVER from live performances to focus on his new career as a disc jockey for Sirius Satellite Radio. Back when I was attending college, Mojo Nixon was the perfect tonic to the manufactured schlock of the ?80s- all the silly haircut bands that seemed to be more occupied with their image and dance moves, rather than the music itself. Mojo represented a bold break from all of the posers, using his insane hillbilly bastard persona to deliver euphoric foot-stomping rhythm and blues with a massive overload of gut-tickling satire. I mean, here was a guy that you KNEW ate, drank, slept and breathed the finest elements of the American pop cultural scream dream as personified by Elvis Presley, Howlin? Wolf, Johnny Cash, James Brown, Little Richard, and that ever subversive bastion of American parody-MAD magazine.
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    Mojo & Buddy was gud budz...this news'll kill 'em.

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    Monday, April 03, 2006

    The mystery of the vanishing neutrinos | The Register

    Massive...but tiny
    By Chris Williams
    Published Friday 31st March 2006 15:40 GMT
     
    Physicists have confirmed enigmatic sub-atomic neutrino particles do indeed have mass. Seemingly paradoxially, the MINOS experiment at the huge underground Fermilab accelerator in Illinois corroborated the fact by showing that they disappear.
     
    The multinational team sent a high-intensity beam of neutrinos from Fermilab through 450 miles of solid rock to the Soudan detector in a former Minnesota iron mine. Neutrinos are so small and weakly interacting they can pass through the entire planet uninterfered with.
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    OK, who wants one?

    Stagnant Wages? Made in USA

    by Robert Kuttner
    As Congress grapples with immigration policy, most experts agree that wide-open immigration slightly depresses wages, especially among unskilled workers. But the main reason for static wages has more do with policies made in the United States.
     
    Immigrants, coming from destitution at home, will work for less than American wages. And, if they are here illegally, they can't defend themselves against subminimum wages and working conditions otherwise against the law.
     
    Some of this is supply and demand -- more workers competing for the same supply of jobs. But as former labor secretary Robert Reich has noted, if labor laws were enforced, immigrants would be less likely to depress wages. Moreover, the supply of jobs is not static. As immigrants enter the stream of commerce, they generate economic activities and jobs.
     
    The Republican Party is now split between business groups who want cheap workers and jingoists who are just plain anti-immigrant. The nativist wing of the GOP plays both to the national security and economic fears of ordinary Americans.
     
    The attacks of 9/11 did happen (though the attackers were not Mexican.) Wages of ordinary workers are in fact depressed (though immigrants are not the main cause.) Both sets of fears make it harder for Congress to legislate sensible policy.
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    Water, Water Everywhere, But Hardly a Drop to Drink?

    Published on Saturday, April 1, 2006 by CommonDreams.org 
    by John Buell
    A Toronto Star editorial recently called a frightening irony to our attention. On the same day a UN report warned that over a billion people world wide face growing shortages of water, American scientists announced they found evidence of water on Enceladus, a far-off moon of Saturn. Some have argued that global warming may already be inducing long term changes in weather patterns resulting in many regional droughts. Regardless of the truth of this contention, there are more immediate and obvious challenges to the amount and integrity of our water supply. If we do not address these concerns, we might consider booking reservations on the next shuttle to Saturn.
     
    Since 9/11, the media have been full of speculation regarding oil shortages and wars over oil. On a daily basis, however, far more people are dying from shortages of drinkable water, and tensions over access to water are intensifying even in the so called developed world. Struggles over water have long been keys to the history of the Southwestern United States.
     
    Maine, Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, and the Great Lake States all appear to be well endowed with clean fresh water, yet appearances can be deceiving. Here in Maine, mercury pollution makes some of our fresh water fish dangerous to eat. Long battles have been waged against corporations that would treat our rivers as free sinks for industrial discharges.
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    The Endgame in Iraq

    The Endgame in Iraq
    The New York Times Editorial
     
    Iraq is becoming a country that America should be ashamed to support, let alone occupy. The nation as a whole is sliding closer to open civil war. In its capital, thugs kidnap and torture innocent civilians with impunity, then murder them for their religious beliefs. The rights of women are evaporating. The head of the government is the ally of a radical anti-American cleric who leads a powerful private militia that is behind much of the sectarian terror.
     
    The Bush administration will not acknowledge the desperate situation. But it is, at least, pushing in the right direction, trying to mobilize all possible leverage in a frantic effort to persuade the leading Shiite parties to embrace more inclusive policies and support a broad-based national government.
     
    One vital goal is to persuade the Shiites to abort their disastrous nomination of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. Mr. Jaafari is unable to form a broadly inclusive government and has made no serious effort to rein in police death squads. Even some Shiite leaders are now calling on him to step aside. If his nomination stands and is confirmed by Parliament, civil war will become much harder to head off. And from the American perspective, the Iraqi government will have become something that no parent should be asked to risk a soldier son or daughter to protect.
     
    Unfortunately, after three years of policy blunders in Iraq, Washington may no longer have the political or military capital to prevail. That may be hard for Americans to understand, since it was the United States invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein and helped the Shiite majority to power. Some 140,000 American troops remain in Iraq, more than 2,000 American servicemen and servicewomen have died there so far and hundreds of billions of American dollars have been spent.
     
    Yet Shiite leaders have responded to Washington's pleas for inclusiveness with bristling hostility, personally vilifying Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and criticizing American military operations in the kind of harsh language previously heard only from Sunni leaders. Meanwhile, Moktada al-Sadr, the radically anti-American cleric and militia leader, has maneuvered himself into the position of kingmaker by providing decisive support for Mr. Jaafari's candidacy to remain prime minister.
     
    It was chilling to read Edward Wong's interview with the Iraqi prime minister in The Times last week, during which Mr. Jaafari sat in the palace where he now makes his home, complained about the Americans and predicted that the sectarian militias that are currently terrorizing Iraqi civilians could be incorporated into the army and police. The stories about innocent homeowners and storekeepers who are dragged from their screaming families and killed by those same militias are heartbreaking, as is the thought that the United States, in its hubris, helped bring all this to pass.
     
    It is conceivable that the situation can still be turned around. Mr. Khalilzad should not back off. The kind of broadly inclusive government he is trying to bring about offers the only hope that Iraq can make a successful transition from the terrible mess it is in now to the democracy that we all hoped would emerge after Saddam Hussein's downfall. It is also the only way to redeem the blood that has been shed by Americans and Iraqis alike.
     
    � 2006 The New York Times
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    Ralph Nader's Open Letter to the New Exxon/Mobil Chairman: Rex Tillerson

     
    --Mr. Tillerson:
     
    You have to be feeling pretty good about your new position heading the world's largest oil and gas company. You stand astride the globe where, with few exceptions, the Congress is like putty in your hands, the White House is your House and the consuming public is powerless. Governments in the Third World may huff and puff, but Exxon/Mobil pretty much gets its way in dozens of arrangements completed and about to be concluded.
     
    Seven years ago, your predecessor, Lee Raymond, took over Exxon's main competitor, Mobil Oil Company, through a merger approved by the misnamed Antitrust Division of the Justice Department. Really, what is left of antitrust standards when the number one and number two companies in an industry are permitted to marry?
     
    Profits of your company are beyond your dreams of avarice. Over $36 billion last year, after modest taxes, yet you blithely ignored urgent pleas by members of Congress, especially that of the powerful Chairman, Senator Chuck Grassley (Rep. Iowa) to contribute some significant deductible money to charities which help impoverished American families pay the exorbitant prices for heating oil this past winter. Rarely has there been such a demonstration of corporate greed and insensitivity by a company that has received huge government welfare subsidies, de-regulation and tax expenditures over the years at the expense of the smaller taxpayers of America.
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    Grim Economic News Gets Grimmer

    by Dave Zweifel
    You probably saw the story the other day that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that real wages in 2005 had dropped 0.9 percent from the year before.
     
    That was big news because in 2004 overall real wages were flat. For the first time as long as wage records have been kept, American workers' income had not increased in two straight years.
     
    There was other disturbing economic news that came at about the same time but didn't get as much publicity. For instance, the Federal Reserve not so surprisingly found that "growing numbers of American households face mounting debt and financial instability."
     
    Roughly 76 percent of households carry a debt load averaging $55,300 or about 128 percent of the median household income. That's not surprising either since costs for health care and education alone have been rising well above wage increases, not to mention the cost of gas for the car and natural gas for the furnace. Many American workers are now sacrificing annual raises so that their employers can afford to pay the increases in health insurance.
     
    All of that has caused a 10 percent average family increase in credit card debt and a proliferation of bigger home equity loans almost all of it, of course, in America's middle class.
     
    Many economic analysts see rising costs, plus greater job instability at some of the traditional blue collar corporations in the country, forcing many families to borrow on high-cost credit just to stay even. They can only hope that times will get better so that they can pay off that debt.
     
    And, of course, the economy of the past few years has significantly widened America's infamous gap between rich and poor. America's wealthiest 10 percent experienced a net worth increase of 6.1 percent in 2004 to an average of $3.1 million. But the bottom 10 percent had their net worth fall from zero in 2001 to minus $1,400 in 2004, which means that they owed more than the value of their assets.
     
    Pat Schneider of our staff reported only a few weeks ago that the number of families using food pantries in a 16-county area in southern Wisconsin has grown by 34 percent in the past three years. Nationally, the increase in food pantry use has averaged about 8 percent a year.
     
    Despite fact like these, President George W. Bush came to Milwaukee recently and announced that as far as the economy is concerned, "We're just doing fine." The economy is "strong and gaining steam," he added.
     
    Makes you wonder who in the world this man is talking to.
     
    Dave Zweifel is editor of The Capital Times.
     
    � 2006 The Capitol Times
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    U.S. Plan to Build Iraq Clinics Falters

    Tell me again, how 'privatizing' is more efficient and cheaper...  --pseudolus
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    BAGHDAD -- A reconstruction contract for the building of 142 primary health centers across Iraq is running out of money, after two years and roughly $200 million, with no more than 20 clinics now expected to be completed, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says.
     
    The contract, awarded to U.S. construction giant Parsons Inc. in the flush, early days of reconstruction in Iraq, was expected to lay the foundation of a modern health care system for the country, putting quality medical care within reach of all Iraqis.
     
    Parsons, according to the Corps, will walk away from more than 120 clinics that on average are two-thirds finished. Auditors say the project serves as a warning for other U.S. reconstruction efforts due to be completed this year.
     
    Brig. Gen. William McCoy, the Army Corps commander overseeing reconstruction in Iraq, said he still hoped to complete all 142 clinics as promised and was seeking emergency funds from the U.S. military and foreign donors. "I'm fairly confident," McCoy said.
     
    Coming with little public warning, the 86 percent shortfall of completions dismayed the World Health Organization's representative for Iraq. "That's not good. That's shocking," Naeema al-Gasseer said by telephone from Cairo. "We're not sending the right message here. That's affecting people's expectations and people's trust, I must say."
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    Sunday, April 02, 2006

    Almost ALL Windows Drivers For All Of You Who Hate Searching

    How did it come into existance? (A brief history)  
     
    I've started these DriverPacks because I wanted to achieve a Uniform UXPCD. Why in the world would you want support for all available hardware, I hear you thinking. Well, that's easy to explain: to be able to use these unattended Windows XP installation CD's on any computer (of course one that's capable of running Windows XP).
     
    So in that thread at MSFN.org I asked how I could do that. Of course people were laughing at me (a quote: "I think you'd be naive to think you'd be able to fit the (latest) drivers of every device made since XP was launched, on the one cd").
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    John Dean says to censure Bush

    WASHINGTON -- Former White House Counsel John Dean, a central figure in the Watergate scandal who served time for his involvement in the Nixon administration cover-up, told a panel of senators yesterday that President Bush should be censured for authorizing the government to eavesdrop on Americans' international phone conversations.
     
    Mr. Dean was the most controversial witness at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday, as members debated a proposal by Sen. Russell Feingold to censure Mr. Bush, which has angered Republicans and whipped up support for the Wisconsin senator in the Democratic base.
     
    Mr. Feingold has argued that the president broke the law when he secretly authorized the National Security Agency to listen to phone calls of Americans -- as long as one of the parties is suspected of having ties to terrorism -- without first seeking a warrant from a special court created under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
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    The Third Path: Bill Maher and Michael Ware

    A snip from Bill's monologue:
    Speaking of guarding our ports, the Bush administration today awarded a no-bid contract to a Chinese company to scan for incoming nukes in our cargo. The contract was awarded at a formal ceremony in front of a backdrop that said, "Still Not Getting It!"
    Or read the real story [AP wire, reported on the Jackson, WY, News-Tribune website] of the Bush administration's indifference to its own ineptitude.
     
    And here's the full live exchange between Bill Maher and Michael Ware, the Baghdad bureau chief for Time magazine [Please, HBO, put this video clip on the web!]:
    Michael Ware: Hi, Bill.
     
    Bill Maher: Now, you're really in Baghdad, right? That's not a fake background of a mosque, is it?
     
    Michael Ware: Look, I'm sad to say, yeah, I actually am here.
     
    Bill Maher: Yeah, I know you are, and I have to say, I admire everybody who goes to hazardous locations like this; just tell me, briefly, why you want to be there.
     
    Michael Ware: Well, I mean, this really is the story. This is where history is unfolding before our very eyes, and, for better or for worse, I've been given a front-row ticket to watch this slow-motion train wreck. This is going to be impacting on all of us, and, I'm sad to say, even our kids, for years to come. So, I want to be here, I want to understand it, I want to be able to tell others about it.
     
    Bill Maher: Now, when you call it a "train wreck," that's not "reporting the good news." The President here says that part of the problem is that the media does not report the good news ? the kids' birthday parties, the banana bread [reference to Bill's opening monologue] ? is there any good news?
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    Howard Zinn: America's Blinders

    Now that most Americans no longer believe in the war, now that they no longer trust Bush and his Administration, now that the evidence of deception has become overwhelming (so overwhelming that even the major media, always late, have begun to register indignation), we might ask: How come so many people were so easily fooled?
     
    The question is important because it might help us understand why Americans?members of the media as well as the ordinary citizen?rushed to declare their support as the President was sending troops halfway around the world to Iraq.
    A small example of the innocence (or obsequiousness, to be more exact) of the press is the way it reacted to Colin Powell?s presentation in February 2003 to the Security Council, a month before the invasion, a speech which may have set a record for the number of falsehoods told in one talk. In it, Powell confidently rattled off his ?evidence?: satellite photographs, audio records, reports from informants, with precise statistics on how many gallons of this and that existed for chemical warfare. The New York Times was breathless with admiration. The Washington Post editorial was titled ?Irrefutable? and declared that after Powell?s talk ?it is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction.?
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