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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, May 06, 2006

Colbert Triumphant!


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Global Warming Fastest for 20,000 Years - and it is Mankind's Fault

Global warming is made worse by man-made pollution and the scale of the problem is unprecedented in at least 20,000 years, according to a draft report by the world's leading climate scientists.
 
The leaked assessment by the group of international experts says there is now overwhelming evidence to show that the Earth's climate is undergoing dramatic transformation because of human activity.
 
A draft copy of the report by a working group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases are at the highest for at least 650,000 years.
 
It predicts that global average temperatures this century will rise by between 2C and 4.5C as a result of the doubling of carbon dioxide levels caused by man-made emissions.
 
These temperatures could increase by a further 1.5C as a result of "positive feedbacks" in the climate resulting from the melting of sea ice, thawing permafrost and the acidification of the oceans.
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Friday, May 05, 2006

Anti-Matter Engine?


Warp drives may be the stuff of science fiction, but another Star Trek staple appears to be edging toward science fact.

The energy source that enables the starship Enterprise to boldly go where no one has gone before has, according to one controversial new claim, moved much closer to reality.

A New Mexico company has just completed its initial studies of an antimatter-powered rocket that it hopes will someday take astronauts to Mars in 90 days or less.
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  • Cyclic universe could explain cosmic balancing act�

     Big bounces may make the Universe able to support stars and life.
    A bouncing universe that expands and then shrinks every trillion years or so could explain one of the most puzzling problems in cosmology: how we can exist at all.
     
    Why is the energy pushing apart the Universe so small? Maybe because it's much older than we thought.
    If this explanation, proposed in Science1 by Paul Steinhardt at Princeton University, New Jersey, and Neil Turok at the University of Cambridge, UK, seems slightly preposterous, that can't really be held against it. Astronomical observations over the past decade have shown that "we live in a preposterous universe", says cosmologist Sean Carroll of the University of Chicago. "It's our job to make sense of it," he says.
     
    In Steinhardt and Turok's cyclic model of the Universe, it expands and contracts repeatedly over timescales that make the 13.7 billion years that have passed since the Big Bang seem a mere blink. This makes the Universe vastly old. And that in turn means that the mysterious 'cosmological constant', which describes how empty space appears to repel itself, has had time to shrink into the strangely small number that we observe today.
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    "Our Descent into Hell has Begun" - Message from a Vet of My Lai Time

    A few weeks ago we got a friendly letter from Tony Swindell, a newspaper editor in Sherman, Texas. "Begin paying attention," Swindell urged, ''to stories from Iraq like the very recent one about U.S. Marines killing a group of civilians near Baghdad. This is the next step in the Iraq war as frustration among our soldiers grows -- especially with multiple tours.
     
    ''I served with the 11th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division, and My Lai was not an isolated incident. We came to be known as the Butcher's Brigade, and we also were the birthplace of the Phoenix Program. The brigade commander and a battalion commander were charged with murdering civilians (shooting them from helicopters, recorded in some of my photos), although both skated. If you recall from his autobiography, Colin Powell served briefly with the 11th in Duc Pho before going to division HQ in Chu Lai.
     
    ''The atrocities against Iraqi civilians are slipping under the media radar screen, but they're going to explode in America's face not too long from now and dwarf the Abu Ghraib (sic) incident. That was a fraternity beer bust by comparison. The Ft. Sill episode [described in JoAnn Wypijewski's piece from April, "The Army Slays Its Own"] is another one of the same storm clouds on the horizon. I sincerely fear for our country.''
     
    We asked Swindell to expand these thoughts. Here's his powerful response. AC/JSC
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    Nameless, Unreasoning, Unjustified Terror - The Wiscasset Newspaper

    by Christopher Cooper

    I read the rest of the paper too, you know. Oh, sure, I do turn here first. Who among us is so big, so successful, so secure that he or she doesn't need a little of whatever encouragement and gratification might be gleaned from re-reading the weak insights and beer-soaked solutions we cast across the void at our editor two nights ago as dawn scratched at the windowsill? The ego will be fed, however thin the gruel we can stir up in its bowl from our few lines of pulp.
     
    So, yes, here first, unashamedly if pathetically. But I've paid my fifty cents; I'll seek my full measure of reports from the better-balanced zones, where commerce and Christ are both better represented than here in my rickety, swaying gondola, strung on its rusty cable midway between the Tower of Song and the Gates of Hell. It's important to know how the careful, sensible people think, because what they're thinking one day has shown a consistent proclivity for unravelling my dearest supports and fondest enablements the next.
     
    The Wiscasset Newspaper of 27 April brought me an article written by my own Editor Gibbs (she the very same who called me at seven twenty-one in the a.m. Monday demanding I wake up, sober up, and produce and send the paragraphs you now hold). She reported on the town of Wiscasset's experiment with so-called ?referendum voting? as an alternative to and alleged improvement upon the annual and occasional special town meetings that have sustained New England for two hundred years.
     
    In a town meeting form of government, readers in the less favored parts of our nation will need to know, residents meet in their town hall on a (traditionally and properly) miserable day in March, there and then to hear a capable and personable and sometimes disturbingly handsome (here in Alna we may waive some of these requirements from time to time) moderator read however many articles of business their selectmen have asked them to legislate in the warrant by which they called the meeting (ours usually runs to forty-odd considerations). An article is read, debate arises; questions are asked and answered; persons confess their confusion. Some sneer, some laugh, some admit they, too, are baffled. Rarely, accusations of malfeasance are leveled at one or several municipal officers. Only once in thirty years have I seen one person assault another.
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    The Truth About Cars - Porsche Boxster


    Last year, TTAC named the Boxster S Car of the Year. I found the award ludicrous. A decade old, under-endowed Porsche-lite trumping the best and the brightest from the US, Italy, Britain, Japan and the rest of Deutschland? It?s like arguing that the ?S? in ?SUV? stands for ?sport.? With the possible exception of my misplaced belief in the longevity of love with a certain young, deceitful woman, I have never been more wrong about anything in my life. Last week a ?regular? Boxster painted in ?take my license, please? red showed up at my house. I have lost my ability to not smile.
    Clocking the new Boxster is like checking out the teenage daughter of your old high school crush. Everything that attracted you to the roadster is still there, only fresher, perkier and more? streamlined. From most angles, the Boxster resembles Ye Olde 996 Turbo, chopped and dropped. From the rear though, and especially with the beefier haunches, the Boxster still appears as if someone is bent over and spreading ?em. If you think this is a coincidence, you haven?t watched enough German porn.
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    Thursday, May 04, 2006


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    the Self-Locking F-22


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    Last week, Lockheed Martin announced that its profits were up a hefty 60 percent in the first quarter. The company earned $591 million in profit on revenues of $9.2 billion. Now, if the company could just figure out how to put a door handle on its new $361 million F-22 fighter, its prospects would really soar.
     
    On April 10, at Langley Air Force Base, an F-22 pilot, Capt. Brad Spears, was locked inside the cockpit of his aircraft for five hours. No one in the U.S. Air Force or from Lockheed Martin could figure out how to open the aircraft's canopy. At about 1:15 pm, chainsaw-wielding firefighters from the 1st Fighter Wing finally extracted Spears after they cut through the F-22's three-quarter inch-thick polycarbonate canopy.
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    Whiskey Bar: All That Glitters

    e been watching the price of gold shoot the moon these past few weeks with a growing sense of nostalgia. It brings back sharp memories of 1979-80 -- bad years for the economy but emotionally rich ones for me. Youth is not always wasted on the young.
     
    Events in general seem to be conspiring to give us all a late 70's flashback: We've got high and rising oil prices, a crisis with Iran, James Earl Bush in the White House and more than enough malaise to go around. It almost makes me feel like putting on a polyester leisure suit and hanging a coke spoon around my neck. If they just bring back Billy Beer we'll be all set.
     
    The missing guest at the disco party, at this point, is the Consumer Price Index -- although I wouldn't try telling that to the average middle-class American motorist. Still, despite the sticker shock at the pump, so-called "core" inflation -- that is, excluding energy and food prices -- has remained amazingly low, considering that the commodity markets are acting as if U.S. dollars are about to turn into 1923 German reichmarks.
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    Techdirt: Are The RIAA's $750-Per-Song Fines Unconstitutional?

    the past, many have questioned why the RIAA gets to request $750 to $30,000 per song fines against those they've charged with offering up unauthorized songs on file sharing networks. Last year there was actually a research paper published that questioned whether or not these fines were unconstitutional, since they may be excessive. That paper included some interesting case history to suggest why the fines might be a bit too high. It appears that one lawyer is finally testing a similar theory in court, and has filed a motion in one such case suggesting that $750 fines are unconstitutional. If you look at the details, it looks like the argument is based on different case law than the research paper -- and the motion seems pretty weak overall in describing the details (i.e., it has very few details). The RIAA quickly filed a response that hits back pretty strongly against the original motion, saying that the case cited isn't really relevant at all -- and that the comparisons made in the motion don't really apply. The original motion points to the money the recording industry would make from someone buying the song on iTunes, but the industry points out that buying a song on iTunes isn't the same thing as a license to distribute it -- which makes sense. It seems highly unlikely that the court will buy the unconstitutional argument, especially as presented, but it's an interesting tactic nonetheless. It's not clear why the original motion didn't delver further into the issue, or use some of the info in last year's paper as a resource to back up the claim... but maybe the lawyer decided it wasn't that compelling.
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    Flap over pet projects roils GOP

    Remember Alaska's "bridge to nowhere"? It's about to be topped by what critics call Mississippi's "railroad to nowhere," which is quickly becoming the poster child for excessive spending by the Republican-controlled Congress.
    The project, which was added to a $106.5 billion emergency defense spending bill in the Senate, would relocate a Gulf Coast rail line inland, to higher ground. Never mind that the hurricane-battered line was just repaired at a cost of at least $250 million. Or that at $700 million, the project championed by Mississippi's two US senators is being called the largest "earmark" ever.
     
    The controversy points to a deepening split in the GOP over whether to rein in spending in the face of wartime commitments and record deficits - and whether failing to do so threatens their majority in this fall's midterm elections.
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    The "I Want Mine" Vote

    I was delighted by the Republican plan to send voters $100 as compensation for high gas prices. Sign me up! Where do I register for my check?
     
    The proposal has had a "rough reception," according to the New York Times today, as "members of the public have been telephoning and writing to ridicule the idea." Conservatives hate it because they consider it socialism. Liberals point out that, with Exxon making all-time record profits this year, and no end to high prices in sight, a $100 rebate check doesn't exactly fix the larger problem.
     
    To be fair, Republicans considered more of a policy fix, and even wrote a new tax on the oil companies into their energy plan last week, which, according to the Times, "would have generated billions by changing the way businesses treat inventory." But business leaders objected, and the Republicans beat a hasty retreat this week. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist scrapped the plan pending further hearings to weigh "the pluses and minuses.?
     
    But back to my hundred bucks. The real problem with the idea is not ideological. It's that $100 is too cheap.
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    Impeachment Weighed Again

    Who would have thought, just seven years after the Clinton impeachment farce, we'd again be considering impeachment? Yet here we are, five years into the Bush presidency, and again impeachment is in the air.
     
    For some time, opponents of the Iraq War have been calling for impeachment. You could see their signs at marches, but given Republican control of the House, it was hard to take the idea seriously.
     
    In recent months, though, impeachment calls have gained a new seriousness - and wider public support - and for good reason: this November, a shift of only 15 House seats would give Democrats control of the House and of the Judiciary Committee. Rep. John Conyers (D., Mich.), who would become Judiciary Committee chair, has already submitted a bill calling for an investigation into impeachable crimes, and would certainly welcome an impeachment bill.
     
    More important, over the last five years, Bush has become the Willie Sutton of constitutional violators. While the impeachment of President Bill Clinton for lying about sex was a case of frivolous political harassment, this president's many "high crimes and misdemeanors" pose such a threat to basic freedoms, and to the system of checks and balances, that not to impeach would be irresponsible.
     
    Among Bush's most serious impeachable actions:
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    I'm Tired of Bushes and Clintons

    Every presidential election since 1980 has had a Bush or a Clinton on a major party ticket. And the pundits say we're likely to see a Clinton atop the next Democratic ticket.
     
    Unlike the last seven presidential elections, I dream of a 2008 contest that is Bush- and Clinton-free. Our country needs new leadership and fresh ideas beyond the realm of just two families.
     
    Of course, influential political families are as old as the Republic. Our nation's first vice president and second president was an Adams; his son was our sixth president. A Republican Roosevelt dominated U.S. politics at the turn of the 20th century; a Democratic Roosevelt, his distant cousin, was even more dominant decades later (joined by our country's greatest first lady, a Roosevelt by birth as well as marriage, who toiled for human rights for years thereafter.) Then came the '60s and the brothers Kennedy...but both John and Robert were killed before the age of 47.
     
    Those earlier eras were marked by hope or social progress. By contrast, the Bush-Clinton era is marked in many respects by political regress and decline. And as major national problems fester, neither Team Bush nor Team Clinton are willing to seriously address them.
     
    Don't get me wrong: I'm not in any way equating the Clintonites with the extremists in today's White House. No one comes close to Bush recklessness and fecklessness. But I believe that until we sweep away the Bush-Clinton era and transcend narrow Bush-Clinton debates (and non-debates), we won't be able to put our country back on the road to social progress.
     
    In the last couple decades -- as power has passed from Bush to Clinton to Bush -- we've seen major problems worsen.
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    High Prices Caused by Iraq War

    When Americans went to the polls on Election Day 2004, nearly 51 percent pulled the lever, punched a chad or touched a screen for George W. Bush. Only 32 percent of the electorate would do the same today. What changed the minds of 23 million people?
     
    It can't be Iraq. Nothing, after all, has changed. At the beginning of November 2004, we had been there for nearly two years. The Administration, having scoured the country for weapons of mass destruction, came up empty-handed and called off the search. It isn't as if the tide of battle shifted between 2004 and today. We were losing, and had been losing, since the beginning. Iraqi resistance fighters had already slaughtered more than 1200 American soldiers. The carnage has claimed another 1200 since then; it's a grim but steady rate.
     
    It can't be the economy. True, it sucks, but it's no suckier than it was on Election Day 2004. Bush had already added a staggering $2.5 trillion to the national debt. As is the case for Iraq war casualties, he has continued to dig us deeper ever since--but at no faster a rate.
     
    Bush's aborted plan to privatize/eliminate Social Security attempted to trade on the support he'd acquired from terrorized Americans after 9/11. His Gallup poll approval rating dropped from 57 percent after his 2005 State of the Union Address, where he announced his scheme, to 48 percent in April, three months later. By then, however, the market of public opinion had factored in the effect of the Social Security debacle, which was resolved when Congress refused to go along. Something else has to explain the continuing plunge toward Watergate-era Nixondom.
     
    It isn't the torture at Guant�namo and Abu Ghraib, the torture flights of people they kidnapped so they could be tortured in Syria and Uzbekistan, or the Valerie Plame CIA leak investigation. Americans who care about those things didn't vote for Bush in the first place. There can only be one explanation, one that has bedeviled countless politicians before Bush:
     
    Gas prices.
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    We Must Honor Earth's Limits

    If you check out an atlas of California, you?ll notice that Owens Lake is filled in with white, not blue. That?s because Los Angeles sucked it dry decades ago. Las Vegas is considering similar plunder of groundwater elsewhere in Nevada. And there are many other cities -- Denver, Phoenix, Houston, Tampa, to name a few -- that have chosen to push nature?s limits.
     
    Closer to my Nebraska home, I watch the continuing plunder of the Great Plains? Ogallala Aquifer, the largest underground reservoir in the United States and one of the largest on the planet. It once held as much water as Lake Huron. It is a treasure that took millennia to accumulate. Remarkably, it could cease to be a water source within another generation.
     
    And for what? To provide water to irrigators who grow surplus, subsidized corn -- the thirstiest of grain crops. Much of this overproduction is in semiarid Nebraska west of the 98th meridian.
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    Television Stations Respond... and it's Worse Than You Think

    One news director says, "I have been instructed by corporate not to talk to you."
     
    Hours after the Center for Media and Democracy released our study on television stations' widespread and undisclosed use of corporate video news releases (VNRs), a major organization of broadcast news executives issued its response.
     
    "The Radio-Television News Directors Association strongly urges station management to review and strengthen their policies requiring complete disclosure of any outside material used in news programming," read the statement. RTNDA went on to caution that decisions involving "when and how to identify sources ... must remain far removed from government involvement or supervision."
     
    Unfortunately, RTNDA's statement conflates "sources" with broadcast material funded by and produced for outside parties. It also conveniently ignores that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, under its authority to regulate broadcasters' use of the public airwaves, already has disclosure requirements (PDF) on the books. But RTNDA's stance does point to an important, underlying issue: how to ensure both news audiences' right to know "who seeks to influence them," and the editorial freedom of newsrooms.
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    CEOs Fail, But Only the Workers Suffer

    There are only two ways an assembly plant worker can hurt his or her employer: Do a lousy job, or ask too much money for it.
     
    Neither applies to the employees of this city's Ford assembly plant, which opened in 1925 to build Henry Ford's Model T, and today rolls out a new F-150 pickup truck -- the world's best-selling vehicle model -- every 67 seconds. Of the three Ford plants producing the F-150, Norfolk has the highest productivity -- utilizing the fewest workers per truck -- and the lowest rate of defects.
     
    So what have the 2,275 hourly workers in Ford's most efficient plant producing its most profitable product earned for their efforts? The end of their livelihoods. Ford on April 13 an nounced that the Norfolk Assembly Plant will close by 2008.
     
    To listen to Ford, Norfolk was victimized by little more than geography; the plant is farther from the company's Detroit hub than the other F-150 plants, so the company is hoping to save the cost of shipping parts to the East Coast. Translation: It's not the Norfolk workers' fault. But they're going to pay anyway.
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    Wednesday, May 03, 2006


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    On Maine Coast, Some Try to Keep Wal-Mart at Bay


    by Brian MacQuarrie


    WALDOBORO, Maine - The sea-scented streets of downtown Waldoboro look more like a theme-park rendition of old-time New England than a battleground. There's a general store behind an awning, a small pharmacy beneath a neon sign, and a generations-old lumberyard down the way.

    But these family businesses are not tourist-tailored relics in mid-coast Maine. They're rallying symbols for a passionate movement that is fighting to preserve the community fabric and the state's traditional ambience, and keep Wal-Mart out of one of New England's most distinctive regions.

    It is an escalating fight that has scored recent victories for big-box foes in three towns between Bath and Rockland, and activists are battling to add five more communities to their goal of a ''box-free" coastal zone. Damariscotta, Newcastle, and Nobleboro have voted since March to ban or place a moratorium on new retail stores greater than 35,000 square feet. Thomaston, Edgecomb, and Waldoboro have votes scheduled on size caps within the next several weeks. Opposition to big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart, whose supercenters typically are 186,000 square feet -- and sell everything from food to clothes to tools to prescription drugs -- also is stirring in Warren and Wiscasset.

    ''The very thing I loved about this place was being threatened," said Jenny Mayher, a Harvard-educated, stay-at-home mother who moved to Maine within the last several years and helped organize a grass-roots drive to preempt Wal-Mart's plans to build in the picturesque village of Damariscotta. ''It would have forced local businesses to either close or scale back."
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    Who Wins and Loses When Gas Prices Skyrocket?

    It's not every day that Karl Rove gets a lesson in politics. But the President's ace strategist was brought up sharply at a recent White House meeting with a group of Republican congressional-staff chiefs when he suggested that the best approach to soaring gasoline prices was this: wait. There's no immediate fix available, so let the market work its magic, Rove said. The stratospheric pricing will reduce demand soon enough, and $3-per-gal. gas will be a memory by summer. It's basic economics.
     
    And, if you're a Republican politician facing a re-election challenge in November, it's basic insanity. Rove should be the last person in America to have to be told that textbook economics isn't taking the campaign trip this summer with political reality. Not in a country where the right to drive 70 m.p.h. in a 55-m.p.h. zone while getting 15 m.p.g. is part of the national vehicular patrimony. The voters are getting incensed every time they drop $75 to fill their SUVs and pickups while oil companies tote up record earnings. "What upsets me more than anything is the Democrats and Republicans keep pointing fingers," says insurance salesman Bob Morris, 59, of Palestine, Texas, whose weekly gas bill for his Camry has risen to $75. "Now I'm at the point, whoever's in office, I'm ready to vote 'em out."
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    Media balance

    Balance: it's a lovely thing. It stops us falling over and inspires manufacturers of essential executive toys, and without it Disney-based ice spectaculars would be only a longed-for dream. Balance in the media? More problematic.
     
    TV balancing meant I recently spent an afternoon in New York watching a "scientist" explain that dinosaur eggs are really small. All dinosaur eggs. Which means dinosaurs must have started out being really small. Even the big ones. So Noah could have fitted them into the Ark. Media balance dictates that if one wingnut thinks gravity is caused by a rota of subterranean angels sucking, then he'll get as much air time as all those dull, arrogant physicists.
     
    Media balance leaves apparently helpless reporters reciting conflicting statistics as if they were beyond interpretation. It provides the pseudo-factual white noise between surgical dating makeovers and the soaps. It sets extensive coverage of Condoleezza Rice's vacuous bleatings against non-specific mumbles about protest. It means demonstrations against the occupation of Iraq aren't covered by the BBC, leading to more demonstrations outside BBC premises, which aren't covered. This is the most common form of media balance - balancing reality with silence.
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    Tough on Crime, to Hell With the Causes of Crime if They Make Money

    Does television cause crime? The idea that people copy the violence they watch is debated endlessly by criminologists. But this column concerns an odder and perhaps more interesting idea: if crime leaps out of the box, it is not the programmes that are responsible as much as the material in between. It proposes that violence emerges from those blissful images of family life, purged of all darkness, that we see in the advertisements.
     
    Let me begin, in constructing this strange argument, with a paper published in the latest edition of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. It provides empirical support for the contention that children who watch more television eat more of the foods it advertises. "Each hour increase in television viewing," it found, "was associated with an additional 167 kilocalories per day." Most of these extra calories were contained in junk foods: fizzy drinks, crisps, biscuits, sweets, burgers and chicken nuggets. Watching television, the paper reported, "is also inversely associated with intake of fruit and vegetables".
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    What Not to Eat: the Truth about Food

    Low-fat is good, butter is bad; buy free-range, not battery; tofu's terrific, lard's a killer... Messages about what we should and shouldn't eat bombard us on a daily basis. So what are we to believe? And what about the cost to the planet? Rose Prince unravels the myths and explains what we need to know to choose our food with confidence - and a clear conscience
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    AlterNet: The Anti-Bush Anarchist - http://www.alternet.org/story/35511/

    Standing 5' 9" tall, weighing 240 pounds and sporting a shaved head, Jeff "The Snowman" Monson looks like a cartoon ready to pop, a compressed giant of crazy shoulders, massive biceps and meaty forearms. When he sneers, people shudder. When he sweats, they turn away. When he's angry, your best bet is to run.
     
    He's angry right now, even though his combat career in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) -- an often-bloody tournament that combines martial arts disciplines like Brazilian Jujitsu and Muay Thai Kickboxing -- is taking off. In February's pay-per-view event, Monson easily beat his opponent with a chokehold in the first round. If things keep going this way, he could have a title shot in the heavyweight division, against the explosive Andrei "The Pit Bull" Arlovski. So no, it's not his future career prospects that have him pissed. It's the state of the world.
     
    "I'm not some sort of conspiracy theorist," Monson says of his political leanings. "I'm not talking about how the government is trying to hide UFOs. I just want to do away with hierarchy. I'm saying that our economic system, capitalism, is structured so that it only benefits a small percentage of very wealthy people. When I was traveling in Brazil, they had us staying at a really posh hotel. Outside the hotel there was a mom sleeping on the sidewalk with her two kids. That's when reality hits you. What did that woman ever do? Who did she ever hurt?"
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    Endgame for the Constitution

    The Bush administration has done more damage to Americans and more harm to America's reputation than any other administration in history. Yet, a majority of Republicans still support Bush. This tells much about blind party loyalty.
     
    By encouraging the move offshore of American jobs and manufacturing, Bush has run up tremendous trade deficits that have undermined the world's confidence in the dollar as the reserve currency. Recently, both Chinese and Russian government officials warned of the dollar's shaky status. The fall in confidence in the dollar is evidenced by the sharp run-up in the price of gold. In January 2001 the price of gold was about $240 per ounce. Today the price is $660 per ounce.
     
    The price of gasoline has risen from around $1.30 per gallon to over $3.00 per gallon. Obviously, Bush's war in the Middle East did not ensure the oil supply.
     
    On Bush's watch, three million US manufacturing jobs have disappeared. Tens of thousands of highly qualified US engineers have lost their employment. US job growth has fallen six to seven million jobs behind population growth. Recent college graduates are employed as waitresses and bartenders.
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    Polygraph Results Often in Question

    The CIA, the FBI and other federal agencies are using polygraph machines more than ever to screen applicants and hunt for lawbreakers, even as scientists have become more certain that the equipment is ineffective in accurately detecting when people are lying.
     
    Instead, many experts say, the real utility of the polygraph machine, or "lie detector," is that many of the tens of thousands of people who are subjected to it each year believe that it works -- and thus will frequently admit to things they might not otherwise acknowledge during an interview or interrogation.
     
    Many researchers and defense attorneys say the technology is prone to a high number of false results that have stalled or derailed hundreds of careers and have prevented many qualified applicants from joining the fight against terrorism. At the FBI, for example, about 25 percent of applicants fail a polygraph exam each year, according to the bureau's security director.
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    Cheney's office knew Plame's work was sensitive

    On Chris Matthews' Hardball Tuesday evening, MSNBC correspondent David Shuster provided updates on what RAW STORY first reported in February: that outed CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson was working on Iran at the time she was outed (The video of Shuster's report is now available here).
     
    Shuster's Tuesday report suggested that the Office of Vice President Dick Cheney was aware of the sensitivity of Plame's work, though there are no indications he knew she was working on Iran. His report Monday, which can be read here was the first television report to identify Plame's Iran work.
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    When the President Joked About Not Finding WMD

    When the President Joked About Not Finding WMD
    Many say Stephen Colbert went too far in lampooning President Bush at the White House Correspondents Dinner, or was just "not funny." Where was all that disapproval when Bush, at a very similar gathering two years ago, built a whole comedy routine around not finding WMD in Iraq?
     
    (May 01, 2006) -- For two days the battle has raged on the Web: Did Stephen Colbert go too far in lampooning President Bush, to his face, at the White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday night? Is that why his barbs did not generate more laughter around the room of 2700 journalists, celebrities and other guests? Or was it because he suggested the press was spineless in failing to confront the president on Iraq? Or was Colbert just not that funny?
     
    In any case, the event has inspired debate on hundreds of political and media blogs, the posting of the video on dozens of sites, and massive traffic to E&P, where the first in-depth account of Colbert?s performance was posted Saturday night.
     
    You?d think from all the criticism that the guy had based his routine on joking about launching a war and not finding the WMDs that inspired it. Oh, right, that was President Bush, two years ago.
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    Fighting the Hostile Takeover - by David Sirota

    Amid all the consultant-packaged rhetoric about America being the "greatest democracy in the world," it often seems impossible to figure out exactly who controls our government. But every now and then, the public gets a fleeting glimpse into who is really running the show.
     
    We get to see how there no longer is a boundary between Big Business and government, and how our politicians are wholly owned subsidiaries of Corporate America. We get to see, in short, exactly how our government has been the victim of a hostile takeover.
     
    Last month, in three little-noticed stories buried in the business press, the hostile takeover was on full display. The first story was a tiny one buried on the inside pages of the Wall Street Journal about how the U.S. Treasury Department worked hand in hand with IBM to kill bipartisan pension legislation in 2003. The bill would have outlawed pension schemes employed by IBM and other big companies that give workers less than they were originally promised. The report noted that at the time, "a Treasury official disclosed nonpublic information to IBM and failed to report expenses paid by a lobbyist for a pension-industry trade group" -- all while allowing the company to circulate documents on Capitol Hill claiming the U.S. Treasury officially was working with IBM to kill the legislation. Clearly, the behavior ran afoul of the lobbying laws supposedly creating a boundary between business and government. But as the Journal went on to note, "The Justice Department didn't pursue criminal or civil charges in the matters because they didn't meet the agency's 'prosecutorial threshold.' " The legislation was ultimately killed. In effect, a major federal agency -- in this case the Treasury Department -- was the victim of the hostile takeover, serving as an arm of Corporate America, rather than a regulator.
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    Welcome to 'Whole-Mart' - Rotten Apples in the Social Responsibility Industry

    On a trip to Portland, Oregon in 2004, I wandered into the downtown Whole Foods Market, where shoppers are greeted with soft-hued lighting, high ceilings, and carefully groomed displays of choice desserts and organic foods. The overall effect is more like entering some modern cathedral to upscale consumption, one in which the creed is not suffering, but celebration (although with plenty of tithing at the cash register). Casually dressed clerks add to the sense of Whole Foods as business as unusual. The mostly young employees convey a kind of �alternative� aura that says, �You'll never catch me working at Wal-Mart.�

    But where Wal-Mart has come under deserved scrutiny from labor, community, and feminist activists for its exploitive �big-box� business model and miserly wages, Whole Foods, the world's largest natural foods retailer, enjoys a reputation as a progressive trendsetter at the forefront of a �green lifestyle revolution� in American life. After all, a slogan like �Whole Foods, Whole Planet, Whole People� does conjure up more ennobling vistas of planetary progress than, �We Sell for Less.�
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    read more: Welcome to 'Whole-Mart'

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    Rich-Poor Gap Widens

    Over the past generation, much mainstream economic thought has assumed that what is good for rich people is good for America. Naturally, this view has tended to transform university economics departments and business schools into cheerleaders for the Republican Party.

    Ask professor Pangloss of the University of Chicago what we ought to do about capital gains or the inheritance tax or unions, and he will dazzle you with equations supposedly demonstrating that the political outcomes sought by the wealthiest Americans are also best for society as a whole.

    That, at any rate, is the current economic orthodoxy. How well does it reflect reality?

    Nearly 50 years ago, the economist John Kenneth Galbraith published The Affluent Society, in which he predicted that an increasingly wealthy America was in danger of producing "private wealth and public squalor." A few years later, Galbraith advised Presidents Kennedy and Johnson as they extended the post-New Deal state in ways that lessened the hardships of poverty for millions of Americans.
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    3 Democrats Slam President over Defying Statutes

    WASHINGTON - Three leading Democratic senators blasted President Bush yesterday for having claimed he has the authority to defy more than 750 statutes enacted since he took office, saying that the president's legal theories are wrong and that he must obey the law.

    ''We're a government of laws, not men," Senate minority leader Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, said in a statement. ''It is not for George W. Bush to disregard the Constitution and decide that he is above the law."

    Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, accused Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney of attempting to concentrate ever more government power in their own hands.

    ''The Bush-Cheney administration has cultivated an insidious brand of unilateralism that regularly crosses into an arrogance of power," Leahy said in a statement. ''The scope of the administration's assertions of power is stunning, and it is chilling."


    read more: 3 Democrats Slam President over Defying Statutes

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    Gun Engine Explodes Fuel Efficiency

    Bon Kulman interviews Kazimierz Holubowicz, inventor of the gun engine, which was designed with the objective of increasing engine efficiency from 20% to much more than that.

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    Tuesday, May 02, 2006


    click on picture to 'em-biggen' view........

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    Did Poe Invent Big Bang Theory?



    The Big Bang theory is a major marvel of science. It is a conclusion drawn from the collusion of several scientists� work and observation that all fit together and formed a theory so vast as to explain the universe itself. No one mind can be credited with the idea; Albert Einstein�s General Theory of Relativity served as the nidus, and Georges-Henri Lema�tre built on that to propose the Big Bang. Observations of Edwin Hubble and George Gamow also played a role in writing the birth of the universe.

    But the poet Edgar Allan Poe may have beaten them to it by a hundred years.

  • read more - Did Poe Invent Big Bang Theory?

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  • Bush Set to Approve Takeover of 9 Military Plants by Dubai

    ? President Bush is expected on Friday to announce his approval of a deal under which a Dubai-owned company would take control of nine plants in the United States that manufacture parts for American military vehicles and aircraft, say two administration officials familiar with the terms of the deal.
     
    The officials, who were granted anonymity so they could speak freely about something the president had not yet announced, said that the final details had not yet been set and that Mr. Bush might put conditions on the transaction to keep military technology in the United States.
     
    But his action is almost certain to attract scrutiny in Congress, because of the political furor that erupted over the administration's approval of a deal earlier this spring that would have given another Dubai-owned company, Dubai Ports World, leases to operate several American port terminals through its acquisition of a British company, the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company.
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    US 'allowed Zarqawi to escape'

    The United States deliberately passed up repeated opportunities to kill the head of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, before the March 2003 US-led invasion of that country.
     
    The claim, by former US spy Mike Scheuer, was made in an interview to be shown on ABC TV's Four Corners tonight.
     
    Zarqawi is often described as a lieutenant of Osama bin Laden, whose supporters masterminded the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.
     
    Mr Scheuer was a CIA agent for 22 years - six of them as head of the agency's Osama bin Laden unit - until he resigned in 2004.
     
    He told Four Corners that during 2002, the Bush Administration received detailed intelligence about Zarqawi's training camp in Iraqi Kurdistan.
     
    Mr Scheuer claims that a July 2002 plan to destroy the camp lapsed because "it was more important not to give the Europeans the impression we were gunslingers".
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    Cheney exempts his own office from reporting on classified material - Chicago Tribune

    As the Bush administration has dramatically accelerated the classification of information as "top secret" or "confidential," one office is refusing to report on its annual activity in classifying documents: the office of Vice President Dick Cheney.
     
    A standing executive order, strengthened by President Bush in 2003, requires all agencies and "any other entity within the executive branch" to provide an annual accounting of their classification of documents. More than 80 agencies have collectively reported to the National Archives that they made 15.6 million decisions in 2004 to classify information, nearly double the number in 2001, but Cheney continues to insist he is exempt.
     
    Explaining why the vice president has withheld even a tally of his office's secrecy when such offices as the National Security Council routinely report theirs, a spokeswoman said Cheney is "not under any duty" to provide it.
     
    That is only one way the Bush administration, from its opening weeks in 2001, has asserted control over information. By keeping secret so many directives and actions, the administration has precluded the public - and often members of Congress - from knowing about some of the most significant decisions and acts of the White House.
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    Monday, May 01, 2006

    MSNBC confirms: Outed CIA agent was working on Iran

    Chris Matthews' Hardball Monday evening, just moments ago, MSNBC correspondent David Shuster confirmed what RAW STORY first reported in February: that outed CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson was working on Iran at the time she was outed.
     
    RAW STORY's Larisa Alexandrovna broke the story earlier this year, which went unnoticed by the mainstream media (Read our full story).
     
    According to current and former intelligence officials, Plame Wilson, who worked on the clandestine side of the CIA in the Directorate of Operations as a non-official cover (NOC) officer, was part of an operation tracking distribution and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction technology to and from Iran.
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    Why Shouldn't Iran Have Nuclear Weapons? Israel Has American Warheads Ready to Fire

    Iranians see only hypocrisy from the world's nuclear powers
    James C. Moore
      
    As international political powers seek Iran's capitulation on nuclear weapons development, little notice is given to what the Americans and the British have done to create this crisis nor what steps the Israelis might eventually take to make it profoundly more complicated.
     
    Iran's antipathy toward the West did not spontaneously generate out of the crazed rhetoric of radical mullahs. It has been spurred by what Iranians see as hypocrisy on the part of members of the world's nuclear community, and the bumbled meddling of the US and UK in Iranian affairs for more than a half century.
     
    Iran is dangerous, but the British and the Americans have helped to make it that way. And the situation is even more precarious than it appears.
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    FBI Investigated 3,501 People Without Warrants - by Mark Sherman

    WASHINGTON - The FBI secretly sought information last year on 3,501 U.S. citizens and legal residents from their banks and credit card, telephone and Internet companies without a court's approval, the Justice Department said Friday.
     
    It was the first time the Bush administration has publicly disclosed how often it uses the administrative subpoena known as a National Security Letter, which allows the executive branch of government to obtain records about people in terrorism and espionage investigations without a judge's approval or a grand jury subpoena.
     
    Friday's disclosure was mandated as part of the renewal of the Patriot Act, the administration's sweeping anti-terror law.
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    The Gas Price Adjustment - by Robert Kuttner

    Politicians of both parties, particularly Republicans, are scrambling to deal with the voter pain of $3-a-gallon gasoline. President Bush wants a $100 tax rebate to help consumers pay for more costly fuel and more tax credits for people who buy (mostly Japanese-made) hybrid cars. He has revived the recurring Republican idea of drilling in Alaska's wilderness. He proposes to suspend federal purchases for the national petroleum reserve. ''Every little bit helps," Bush said, rather pitifully. Next, he'll be wearing Jimmy Carter's sweaters.
     
    Democrats' ideas include the proposal by Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey to suspend temporarily the (industrial world's lowest) federal gas tax of 18.4 cents a gallon to be offset by an excess-profits tax on oil companies, a federal investigation of price gouging, and demands that Bush ''jawbone" his chums at the oil companies and in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon wants oil companies to start paying long-avoided royalties for petroleum drilled on federal lands.
     
    The oil companies, meanwhile, are practicing damage control. Their full-page newspaper ads show (accurately) that oil profits as a percent of sales are modest. But wait a minute: the higher the retail price, the higher the profit -- and the percentage stays the same. They could make the same claim if gas went to $10 a gallon. Their profits relative to invested capital are off the charts. ExxonMobil just released its first-quarter profits: more than $8 billion -- its highest ever. ExxonMobil CEO Lee R. Raymond, who recently retired, was paid $400 million last year.
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    Why Europe Should Reject U.S. Market Capitalism - by William Pfaff

    Paris -- The specter of Anglo-American market capitalism dominated France's student unrest in March and April, and motivated popular rejection in France a year ago of the proposed new European Union constitution.
     
    The election that has just given Italy a fragile center- left coalition, and recent conflict in German industry, involved the same question: how to remodel national economies, or whether to remodel them at all.
     
    Advocates of the new model capitalism, and the globalization project that goes with it, like to present it as an expression of historical necessity, rooted in classical economics and embodying irrefutable laws. It is progress itself, they say. Those who do not conform to the rules of modern market capitalism, and do not offer the human sacrifices of lost employment and diminished living standards that the market demands, will fall by the wayside of history.
     
    This is simply untrue, although most of those who say it undoubtedly believe it.
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    Ashamed of the Stars and Stripes? It Could Happen - by David Benjamin

    PARIS -- Recently in Japan, traveling to and fro around Tokyo, I was surprised by the sight -- through a train window -- of the Japanese "rising sun" flag, or hinomaru. The moment was remarkable because, all that day, it was the only flag I saw. If I had covered as much ground in the U.S.A., in an area as densely settled as greater Tokyo, I probably would have spotted the Stars and Stripes displayed in hundreds of places -- over post offices, on car antennas, lapels, policemen?s sleeves, on warehouses, bridges, front-lawn flagpoles, t-shirts, halter tops and Coca-Cola cups.
     
    The difference lies in history. But a parallel looms, perhaps, in the future.
     
    In Japan, the end of World War II marked the eclipse of a period of ultra-nationalist militarism that dated to the 1880's -- when a demimonde of violent right-wing "societies"{ began to quietly, ruthlessly subvert Japanese government and culture. Even in the Empire's death throes in 1945, Japan?s militarists -- defeated everywhere but on the home front -- dug in their heels and forestalled surrender, contributing to the national horror that took place in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Today these discredited elements linger stubbornly in Japan's body politic, preventing the ruling Liberal Democratic Party from becoming either liberal or democratic, and poisoning foreign relations with China, Korea and Taiwan, among others.
     
    One lamentable legacy of Japan?s imperial militarists is that they brought shame onto the national flag. Today, flying the hinomaru is a bitter provocation, suggesting fierce xenophobia and racist aggression. To be caught in Japan with your flag open is mildly embarrassing, and totally uncool.
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    A Battle For Oil Could Set the World Aflame

    International powers will do everything to protect their access to dwindling resources. We are mad not to have an alternative strategy
     
    by Will Hutton
      
    The �1 litre of petrol is already a reality on some forecourts. Yet the public response has been curiously muted. No threats of national protests or blockaded tanker depots. There's an air of resignation. We've been pulverised into learning our lesson: we can't buck the market with the $70 plus barrel of oil, so there is nothing to do except pay up.
     
    There is nothing like the same mood in the United States. There, petrol crashed through the psychological barrier of $3 a gallon; cheap gas, the sacred right of every free-born America, is no more. In Washington, Republicans and Democrats outbid each other with their respective energy plans, all distancing themselves from the energy policy-free zone of do-nothing George W Bush. The US, after all, has no commitment whatsoever to the idea that states and peoples must supinely accept market verdicts. Markets, it is well understood, are shaped by human hand.
     
    It has a strategic oil reserve built up over years that would give it three months' supply in the event of war or natural disaster and which Bush manipulated last week to try to lower the oil price. It has supported Saudi Arabia through thick and thin. The 281 ships and half-a-million members of the US navy, larger than those of the next 17 naval nations combined, guarantee the security of the country's oil supply. The discourse is so different from ours that it is head-spinning.
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    Sunday, April 30, 2006

    Media as Filter...The Report on Colbert

    Colbert's performance is sidestepped and marginalized while Bush is treated as light-hearted, humble, and funny. Expect nothing less from the cowardly American media. The story could just as well have been Bush and Laura's discomfort and the crowd's semi-hostile reaction to Colbert's razor-sharp barbs. In fact, I would guess that from the perspective of newsworthiness and public interest, Bush-the-playful-president is far less compelling than a comedy sketch gone awry, a pissed-off prez, and a shell-shocked audience.

    This is the power of the media: to choose the news, to decide when and how to shield Bush from negative publicity. Sins of omission can be just as bad as sins of commission. And speaking of a sycophantic media establishment bending over backwards to accommodate this White House and to regurgitate pro-GOP and anti-Dem spin, I urge readers to pick up a copy of Eric Boehlert's new book, Lapdogs. It's a powerful indictment of the media's timidity during the Bush presidency. Boehlert rips away the facade of a "liberal media" and exposes the invertebrates masquerading as journalists who have allowed and enabled the Bush administration's many transgressions to go unchecked, under-reported, or unquestioned.
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    Colbert Does the White House Correspondents' dinner:


    Stephen was in top form, you have to watch this video. Terrific work from a new master of political satire.--pseudolus
    ===============
    Stephen Colbert spoke tonight at the dinner and lampooned pretty much everything he could think of and Helen Thomas. I used the second half of his performance because it included the Generals, Scalia, the Faux press briefing and as E&P reported:

    "As he walked from the podium the president and First Lady gave Colbert quick nods, unsmiling, and left. E&P's Joe Strupp, in the crowd, observed that quite a few felt the material was, perhaps, uncomfortably biting."

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