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, May 13, 2006

Los Angeles Times: The long arm of the drug war

 RISE AND FALL of Mexican drug-law reform over the last two weeks has been, for drug legalizers, a dizzying high followed by a painfully abrupt crash. U.S. drug authorities laid down their usual bummer: No user is going to get off easy on their watch. And thanks to the United States' overwhelming power and influence, their watch extends everywhere.
Mexico isn't the first nation to suffer side effects from America's estimated $30-billion-a-year drug war. A 2003 attempt by former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien to liberalize drug possession laws met with threats from U.S. drug czar John Walters that the tougher resulting border security could hold up U.S.-Canadian trade, and the idea soon went up in smoke. Colombia has been for years the site of what is essentially a damaging and expensive proxy war in the service of the United States' delusion that it can wipe out cocaine production.
Still, both cops and heads must have been hallucinating if they thought Mexico's mild reform proposals would have ushered in some kind of lotus-eaters' utopia, a permanent Altered State down Mexico way.
The legislation, which passed Mexico's House and Senate with President Vicente Fox's initial support, would have legalized the possession of minute quantities of substances such as pot, cocaine and heroin (5 grams of pot, 0.5 grams of cocaine — only a few lines — and 25 milligrams of heroin), in an attempt to focus drug-enforcement resources on larger-scale dealers. But sales, and possession beyond the tiniest weekend's worth, would have remained illegal. State and local cops would have been dragged into a Mexican drug war that had heretofore been federal, increasing the total resources spent on drug enforcement — and introducing more cops to the lure of drug-money corruption.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Condoleezza Rice at Boston College? I Quit

An open letter to William P. Leahy, SJ, president of Boston College.
Dear Father Leahy,
I am writing to resign my post as an adjunct professor of English at Boston College.
I am doing so -- after five years at BC, and with tremendous regret -- as a direct result of your decision to invite Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to be the commencement speaker at this year's graduation.
Many members of the faculty and student body already have voiced their objection to the invitation, arguing that Rice's actions as secretary of state are inconsistent with the broader humanistic values of the university and the Catholic and Jesuit traditions from which those values derive.
But I am not writing this letter simply because of an objection to the war against Iraq. My concern is more fundamental. Simply put, Rice is a liar.
She has lied to the American people knowingly, repeatedly, often extravagantly over the past five years, in an effort to justify a pathologically misguided foreign policy.
The public record of her deceits is extensive. During the ramp-up to the Iraq war, she made 29 false or misleading public statements concerning Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and links to Al Qaeda, according to a congressional investigation by the House Committee on Government Reform.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Kingdom Coming - An Eye Opening Look At Christian Nationalism

Michelle Goldberg, a senior of politics and ideology for years. Before the 2004 election, and during the ensuing months when many Americans were trying to understand how an administration marked by cronyism, disregard for the national budget, and poorly disguised self-interest had been reinstated, Goldberg traveled through the heartland of a country in the grips of a fevered religious radicalism: the America of our time. From the classroom to the mega-church to the federal court, she saw how the growing influence of dominionism—the doctrine that Christians have the right to rule nonbelievers—is threatening the foundations of democracy.

In Kingdom Coming, Goldberg demonstrates how an increasingly bellicose fundamentalism is gaining traction throughout our national life, taking us on a tour of the parallel right-wing evangelical culture that is buoyed by Republican political patronage. Deep within the red zones of a divided America, we meet military veterans pledging to seize the nation in Christ’s name, perfidious congressmen courting the confidence of neo-confederates and proponents of theocracy, and leaders of federally funded programs offering Jesus as the solution to the country’s social problems.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Defense Tech: NSA Sweep "Waste of Time," Analyst Says

It'd be one thing if the NSA's massive sweep of our phone records was actually helping catch terrorists. But what if it's not working at all? A leading practitioner of the kind of analysis the NSA is supposedly performing in this surveillance program says that "it's a waste of time, a waste of resources. And it lets the real terrorists run free."
Re-reading the USA Today piece, one paragraph jumped out:
This kind of data collection from phone companies is not uncommon; it's been done before, though never on this large a scale, the official said. The data are used for 'social network analysis,' the official said, meaning to study how terrorist networks contact each other and how they are tied together.
So I called Valdis Krebs, who's considered by many to be the leading authority on social network analysis -- the art and science of finding the important connections in a seemingly-impenetrable mass of data. His analysis of the social network surrounding the 9/11 hijackers is a classic in the field.
Here's what Krebs had to say about the newly-revealed NSA program that aims to track "every call ever made": "If you're looking for a needle, making the haystack bigger is counterintuitive. It just doesn't make sense."
"Certain people are more suspicious than others," he adds. They make frequent trips back-and-forth to Afghanistan, for instance. "So you start with them. And you work two steps out. If none of those people are connected, you don't have a cell. Because if one was there, you'd find some clustering. You don't have to collect all the data in the world to do that."
The right thing to do is to look for the best haystack, not the biggest haystack. We knew exactly which haystack to look at in the year 2000 [before the 9/11 attacks]. We just didn't do it...
The worst part -- the thing that's most disappointing to me -- is that this is not the right way to do this. It's a waste of time, a waste of resources. And it lets the real terrorists run free.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Goodbye to gas-guzzling Hummer H1

DETROIT, Michigan (AP) -- The 2006 model year will be the last for the Hummer H1, the hulking, gas-guzzling status symbol that has attracted celebrities and off-road enthusiasts but has drawn the ire of environmentalists.
General Motors Corp. announced plans Friday for the H1, which is the foundation for the automaker's Hummer brand.
Based on the military's Humvee, the about 12,000 put on the road since 1992 defined the Hummer name.
read the rest......
Goodbye to gas-guzzling Hummer H1

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Technology Review: Emerging Technologies and their Impact - By Duncan Graham-Rowe

A small company in Madison, WI has developed a novel way to generate hydrogen cheaply and cleanly from biomass.
In the next couple of weeks, the technology, developed by Virent Energy Systems, will be used for the first time to continuously produce electricity from a small 10-kilowatt generator at the company's facility in Madison. The unit is fueled by corn syrup, similar to the kind used by soft drinks manufacturers, says CEO Eric Apfelbach.
The company is also about to begin work on a $1 million U.S. Navy project to build portable fuel-cell generators. The goal is to make self-contained units capable of producing their own hydrogen from a biomass-derived glycerol solution or even antifreeze.
The vast majority of hydrogen is currently made from fossil fuels -- oil, coal, and, most commonly, natural gas, through a process called steam reforming. In this process, a mixture of steam and methane is heated to temperatures above 800 degrees Celsius, and then reacts with a catalyst to produce hydrogen and carbon monoxide.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Going Home - Alvin Lee & Ten Years After at Woodstock

Thanks for the tip to: Crooks & Liars

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

"King of Beers"? How about 'dogcatcher of beers' (not to demean dogcatchers)

By Louis Charbonneau

BERLIN (Reuters) - Budweiser may be the "King of Beers" in the United States, but it's often laughed at in Germany, where it will be one of only two beers available in football stadiums during the World Cup.

An official sponsor of the month-long soccer tournament that kicks off on June 9, Budweiser parent Anheuser-Busch (BUD.N: Quote, Profile, Research) originally won the rights to a monopoly on beer sales at the 64 World Cup matches to be held in 12 German cities.

But the decision outraged Germany's fiercely proud beer drinkers, many of whom dislike the taste of weaker U.S. beers. The German television station n-tv summed up the country's reaction on its Web site: "A cry went out across the nation."

The St. Louis, Missouri-based firm took note of the furor and relented. It agreed to give 30 percent of beer sales rights to the family-run German brewery Bitburger to sell its popular Bitburger Pils, better known as "Bit."
read more...CLICK HERE

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

"Yes Men" pull Halliburton hoax

Halliburton Co. fell victim this week to a group of pranksters pushing a "SurvivaBall" to save corporate executives from the effects of global warming.
    Members of the Yes Men, a group of environmental and corporate ethics activists, gave a presentation at a trade conference pretending to be Halliburton executives touting large inflatable suits that provide corporate managers safety from global warming. They also distributed a phony press release through e-mail and set up a Web site,, similar to the real Halliburton site,
    "It's basically a giant inflatable orb," said a Yes Man posing as "Fred Wolf of Halliburton" during a phone interview yesterday. "If catastrophe threatens a large population, the business manager simply enters the orb, puts it on, and it protects him or her in any climate condition, whether it involved tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, ice conditions or heat conditions."
    The Yes Men posted photos of the products, which look like large plastic bubbles with six hands, two speakerphone-looking ears and an opening for the executive's face.
    The group, which has pulled similar stunts on Dow Chemical Co. and the World Trade Organization, says it presented the phony global-warming-protection suits -- priced at $100 million each, nonetheless -- to show that corporations are more concerned about profits than taking expensive steps to reduce carbon emissions to reduce global warming.
    "We were targeting Halliburton because they're the most iconic example of companies profiting from global warming, climate changes and even natural disasters like in New Orleans," said a Yes Man who called himself Andy Bichlbaum.
    Halliburton, the Houston oil and energy company formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, has been accused of being more concerned about profiting from oil than the environmental impact of oil drilling.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

A Capital Full of Shih Tzu Reporters - by Molly Ivins

As I occasionally survey the pack of sycophantic Shih Tzus* in the Washington press corps, wriggling on their bellies to kiss the feet of those in power, I feel plumb discouraged about the future of journalism.
It’s like a cross between Versailles under Louis XIV and high school: obsequious courtiers flattering their way to favor, plus the silly cliques of the “in crowd” and “out crowd.” On the other hand, I am greatly cheered by the young journalists in the blogosphere who have now whelped a perfect litter of books worth paying attention to.
For my marbles and chalk, the pick is David Sirota’s “Hostile Takeover: How Big Money and Corruption Conquered Our Government—and How We Take It Back.” Sirota is a new-generation populist who instinctively understands that the only real questions are “Who’s getting screwed?” and “Who’s doing the screwing?”

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Where's the Beef? - by Bob Herbert

"You can't think and hit at the same time."
— Yogi Berra
"One must be something, in order to do something."
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Enough already with the analyses ad nauseam of the strategies and tactics and philosophies that the Democratic Party should pursue to regain power in upcoming elections.
We've been listening to this armchair chatter for years: The Democrats need new ideas. They need big ideas. They need to move to the center. They need to wave the flag. They need to go to church. They need the soccer moms and the NASCAR dads. They need to run from the blacks. They need to run from the gays.
I have no more patience with this perennially pathetic patient, this terminally timid Democrat who continues to lie cowering and trembling on the analyst's couch, wondering why the Demolition Derby Republicans control virtually all of the levers of power in the United States.
The Democrats are thinking too much and doing too little. This is a party in need of a moxie transplant. It's time for the patient to climb off the couch, walk outside and mix it up with the gang that has made a complete and utter mess of the country that was entrusted to it.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

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

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

America, You Lost! The Railroading of Zacarias Moussaoui

It's official. 9/11 has driven America utterly bat-guano mad. Don't believe it? Consider the following:
American citizens, liberal and conservative alike, have become self-deluded, fervently certain of "facts" that are indisputably false. "By a margin of better than two to one," according to the May 9th New York Times poll, Democrats--who have become so ideologically invisible that they're meeting to decide what, if any, ideas they ought to develop for this fall's elections--"were seen as having more new ideas than Republicans." At the same time, most voters believe that Republicans--who are losing two catastrophic wars because they failed to send enough troops or supply them with adequate equipment--"would do a better job at maintaining a stronger military than Democrats."
Meanwhile, the CIA--whose mission is to sabotage popularly elected democracies and replace them with right-wing torture-dictatorships--has become the liberal branch of government. According to insiders, Porter Goss was fired as the agency's director because he failed to purge its "soft leakers and liberal Democrats." A former senior CIA official with continuing links to the Bush Administration and the agency told the Baltimore Sun upon Goss' appointment in 2004: "The CIA is looked on by the White House as a hotbed of liberals and people who have been obstructing the president's agenda." CIA liberals. Right.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Scientists Call Diebold Security Flaw 'Worst Ever'

Computer scientists say a security hole recently found in Diebold Election Systems' touch-screen voting machines is the "worst ever" in a voting system.
Election officials from Iowa to Maryland have been rushing to limit the risk of vote fraud or disabled voting machines since the hole was reported Wednesday.
Scientists, who have conferred with Diebold representatives, said Diebold programmers created the security hole intentionally as a means of quickly upgrading voting software on its electronic voting machines.
The hole allows someone with a common computer component and knowledge of Diebold systems to load almost any software without a password or proof of authenticity and potentially without leaving telltale signs of the change.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

"We Cannot Investigate"

Since when does the target of an investigation get to determine the scope of the scrutiny they find themselves under? Since when does the executive branch have the authority to close off attempts to be held responsible for illegal behavior?
This is the Latin Americanization of American politics happening in plain view. Our government has become a banana republic. The tools of oversight of the executive branch in the legislature and within executive branch offices are getting shutdown by the actions of their target. I look at this sad reality and wonder what the Bush administration values protecting about America? Is this illegality rooted in a misguided defense of an ideal enshrined somewhere in our Constitution, Bill of Rights, or Declaration of Independence that Bush feels must be preserved from some new threat? If so, what is it? What are our troops fighting and dying to protect while we at home watch our civil liberties and the potential for government accountability get ripped from our hands?

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Hey, Democrats, the Truth Matters!

My book, Secrecy & Privilege, opens with a scene in spring 1994 when a guest at a White House social event asks Bill Clinton why his administration didn’t pursue unresolved scandals from the Reagan-Bush era, such as the Iraqgate secret support for Saddam Hussein’s government and clandestine arms shipments to Iran.
Clinton responds to the questions from the guest, documentary filmmaker Stuart Sender, by saying, in effect, that those historical questions had to take a back seat to Clinton’s domestic agenda and his desire for greater bipartisanship with the Republicans.
Clinton “didn’t feel that it was a good idea to pursue these investigations because he was going to have to work with these people,” Sender told me in an interview. “He was going to try to work with these guys, compromise, build working relationships.”
Clinton’s relatively low regard for the value of truth and accountability is relevant again today because other centrist Democrats are urging their party to give George W. Bush’s administration a similar pass if the Democrats win one or both houses of Congress.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Joke of the day

A woman came home and found this letter from her husband-
My Dear Wife-
You will surely understand that I have certain needs that you with your 54-year-old body can no longer supply. However, I am very happy with you and I value you as a good wife. Therefore, after reading this letter, I hope that you will not wrongly interpret the fact I will be spending the evening with my 18 year old secretary at the Comfort Inn Hotel.
Please don't be perturbed, I shall be back home before midnight.
Love 'ya, Ed
When the man came home, he found the following letter on the dining room table-
My Dear Husband-
I received your letter and thank you for your honesty. I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that you are also 54 years old. At the same time, I would like to inform you that while you are reading this, I will be at the Ritz Carleton with Michael, my tennis coach, who, like your secretary, also is 18. As a successful businessman and with your excellent knowledge of math, you will understand that we are in the same situation, although with one small difference: 18 goes into 54 a lot more times than 54 goes into 18. Therefore, I will not be back until lunchtime tomorrow.
Love 'ya back, Betty

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Federal agents raid home of CIA's former No. 3 boss

Humpty Dumpty is falling off the wall...buckle yer seatbelts, it's going to be a wild ride!! </end mixed metaphors>  --pseudolus
VIENNA, Va.– Federal agents Friday morning raided the home of Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, who stepped down this week from the No. 3 post at the CIA amid accusations of improper ties to a defense contractor named as a co-conspirator in the bribery case of former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham.
Investigator: Wants more from Cunningham
Lewis subject of probe into 'earmarks'
One agent told reporters that Foggo was not at the modest home in a quiet suburban neighborhood near the CIA's Langley headquarters and had not been detained. The agents refused to answer other questions about the raid, including what agencies were involved.
A neighbor said the agents arrived about 8 a.m. ET. A white Chevrolet van was backed up to the carport of the split-level brick home and, at one point, a man wearing latex gloves emerged from the house and went around the back.
Foggo resigned his post at the CIA on Monday, after the FBI began investigating whether he improperly steered contracts to Brent Wilkes, a Poway defense contractor and longtime friend of Foggo's. The CIA's inspector general has been investigating Foggo for at least three months.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Big Oil’s Lobbying Efforts Pay Off

The Wall Street Journal today reports that the major oil companies successfully “beat back” attempts by Congress to have oil companies pay their fair share in taxes:
read the rest......

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Matthews on Rove Indictment: ‘It Could Be Today’

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews appeared was on Don Imus’ show this morning and said that Karl Rove could be indicted today.


MATTHEWS: If, however, something happens with Karl Rove, we’re going to go to general quarters around here.

IMUS: What does that mean?

MATTHEWS: Meaning we will be taping probably on Saturday or late night because everything will change. Last time, when he picked up Scooter, when he nailed him 30 years of charges, that happened on 1:00 on a Friday. So we don’t know when it might happen, if it’s going happen.

IMUS: Are we expecting something with Karl Rove today?

MATTHEWS: Well, it could be today. It could be next week. Everybody is buzzing about when or if. It’s a big if, big when. There is a lot of talk because he is still being interviewing by the special prosecutor. He keeps being hauled before the grand jury. So something is going on here with the special prosecutor. We don’t know whether he is going to clear him or nail him.

Last night, Matthews reported that the grand jury is meeting today. Raw Story reports that networks are staking out the courthouse.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

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

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

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

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Crooks and Liars - Jack Cafferty on the Telcos/Bushists alliance

[Jack] Cafferty: We all hope nothing happens to Arlen Specter, the Republican head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, cause he might be all that stands between us and a full blown dictatorship in this country. He's vowed to question these phone company executives about volunteering to provide the government with my telephone records, and yours, and tens of millions of other Americans.
Shortly after 9/11, AT7T, Verizon, and BellSouth began providing the super-secret NSA with information on phone calls of millions of our citizens, all part of the War on Terror, President Bush says. Why don't you go find Osama bin Laden, and seal the country's borders, and start inspecting the containers that come into our ports?
The RISING...finally the common folks might have an issue that effects them, and therefor might
piss them off enough to do something about this admin. pffft, yeah right! --pseudolu

here's what Atrios says...CLICK HERE

Update 2:
more from Atrios
Telcos Could Be Liable For Tens of Billions of Dollars For Illegally Turning Over Phone Records

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Scientists Discover Super Superconductor

Durham NC (UPI) May 11, 2006
Duke University scientists say they've discovered a theoretical "metal sandwich" that might be able to break superconductor records.
The researchers at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering found a new lithium monoboride compound is a "binary alloy" consisting of two layers of boron -- the "bread" of the atomic sandwich -- with lithium metal "filling" in between.
Once the material is synthesized, the scientists say it should be superconductive at a higher temperature than any other superconductors in its class.
Superconductive materials have no resistance to the flow of electric current.
"To the best of our knowledge, this alloy structure had not been considered before," said Stefano Curtarolo, professor of mechanical engineering and materials sciences.
"The significance of the work is not only the discovery of lithium mon! oboride itself, but also that this opens the door to finding derivatives that could aid in the search for additional novel superconductors," added Aleksey Kolmogorov, lead author of the study.
The research is reported in the May 5 online edition of the journal Physical Review B, Rapid Communications.
Source: United Press International

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Gloom at a time of growth

ht Ridder and Associated Press
WASHINGTON - The U.S. economy is strong these days when measured by macro-statistics, but sluggish wage growth, along with rising gasoline prices and interest rates are overshadowing the good economic news in the minds of most Americans.
Against that background, the Federal Reserve meets today to decide whether to raise short-term interest rates even further in an effort to keep rising energy prices from causing inflation to spiral out of control.
Economists agree that the Fed, led by Chairman Ben Bernanke, will push up its federal funds rate by a quarter-percentage point to 5 percent today. That would be the 16th increase of that size since the Fed began to tighten credit in June 2004.
In response, commercial banks are expected to raise their prime lending rate -- for certain credit cards, home equity lines of credit and other loans -- to 8 percent.
...The same week that the robust GDP numbers came out, the government also reported that worker compensation -- pay and benefits -- rose in the year's first quarter at an annual rate of only 2.4 percent, the slowest rate in seven years. That figure, Bernstein said, suggests that workers' wages aren't keeping pace with wage gains during past economic expansions, or even with inflation, which rose by 3.4 percent over the year ending in March as measured by the consumer price index.
``The problem is you have faster-growing prices colliding with nominal wage growth that has been pretty unimpressive,'' he said.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Scraping to Fill the Shelves of the Bush Library

In the Texas competition for the George W. Bush Presidential Library, the city of Irving promises $50 million in hotel tax revenue on behalf of the University of Dallas. Baylor University President John Lilley says, ''We'll raise whatever is required." Southern Methodist University may trump that with pedigree. Alumnae include Laura Bush and confidantes Karen Hughes and Harriet Miers. Vice President Dick Cheney was a SMU trustee when he ran Halliburton.
The visible connections allow SMU President Gerald Turner to say, ''We would prefer just to work at it without a lot of visibility." Even so, SMU's point man to get the library, Thomas Barry, admits, ''It's kind of an exciting thing, no matter what your politics are. The times are so rather unique given the Bush administration and the story would be an interesting one to tell."
Bush himself is already telling the story that will be told. In January, he told CBS's Bob Schieffer, ''I would like to leave behind a legacy or a think tank, a place for people to talk about freedom and liberty and the de Tocqueville model, what de Tocqueville saw in America."
The joke will be on the winner. If this library is stocked the way Bush stuck it to the people, this is going to be the most empty $200 million library in the world. It will be unique because the most interesting story of the Bush administration is how it did as much as possible without visibility.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Now Is the Time for a Left-Right Alliance

A rebel alliance already exists that could stop Bush administration attacks on the Constitution
I'm currently a life member of the John Birch Society and formerly served on the staff of the organization for 13 years.

So why should any left-winger reading this care a fig about what I have to say?

Because of a conversation I had with another conservative magazine writer recently. In frustration at the unconstitutional excesses of the Bush administration, I blurted out to him: "The only people doing any good out there are the people at Air America." I expected to shock him with the statement, but his two-word reply shocked me: "And"

We were both exaggerating for effect, but fact is, as my journalist friend continued, "We probably only disagree on, maybe, 25 percent of the issues." I'd have put the percentage a little higher, though I tacked an ending onto his sentence: "…and those issues aren't especially important right now."

When Air America started, I told myself and my friends that it would fail because it would be redundant. The Left already controls all the television networks besides Fox, along with most of the major newspapers. But here we are a year later, and the most penetrating news analysis on television is – and I'm not exaggerating here – Jon Stewart's Daily Show on Comedy Central.

I tuned into the Boston Air America affiliate when I became a community radio talk show host almost two years ago, thinking that I could use a few of their wild statements as a springboard to bounce my counterpoint. And although I got a few yuks out of quips about "Airhead America," I found that I agreed with the hosts more than I disagreed with them.

They criticized the Bush administration for deceiving us into the Iraq war. No problem there. They criticized Alberto Gonzales for historture memos. Again, no problem. They criticized deficit spending, the PATRIOT Act, and corporate welfare. Hurray, hurray, and hurray!
read the rest......
a Left-Right Alliance

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Rally 'Round the Flagging Bush Team

Good morning class, and welcome to the Rush Limbaugh School of Advanced Letter Writing. Rush can't be with us today; a little misunderstanding on the part of the law enforcement people in Florida regarding Rush's pharmaceutical regimen. But let me assure you that he will be here in spirit.

As you are no doubt aware, our beloved president is under attack as never before by the liberal media elite. As a result of their unrelenting and, I need hardly add, unreliable and biased reporting, his poll ratings have experienced a modest decline.

I say modest decline because while the media jackals think a 32 percent approval rating is something we should be worried about, I'd like to remind them that there are very few major league baseball players batting over .300 at the moment. You might want to keep that in mind for future use.

Anyway, the reason you're here is because you represent a vital line of defense in our struggle to keep the hate America crowd from undermining all the good that the Bush-Cheney team has done over the last five years.

And the way you can do that is to monitor the slanted stories that are the media's stock in trade and counter attack with letters full of facts that give the lie to those gloom and doom-spreaders.

Take for example, the recent stories about the loss of American lives in Iraq topping 2,400 last week. The hand-wringers have made a big deal of that, but you can remind them that we lost more men than that on D-Day in Normandy.

Yes, you in the back row with your hand up. You have something to offer?

"Yes, sir. I just wanted to point out that my uncle Fred landed in Normandy on D-Day plus two and fought across France, Belgium and into Germany. And he was back home in Williamsport 14 months later. We've been in Iraq three years now and things are just as bad or worse than when we went in. I don't think that argument is going to fly with people who remember WW Two."
READ THE REST...Rally 'Round the Flagging Bush Team

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

ANN COULTER VOTER FRAUD: A First! Coulter Goes Silent! May Be Thrown Off Voter Rolls!

Republican extremist/hate-monger, Ann Coulter may be on the verge of being tossed from the Voter Rolls in Palm Beach County, Florida.

The BRAD BLOG has also obtained exclusive official documents from the chain of events which has helped bring the GOP darling to a new place in her career: She has fallen completely silent.

Coulter, who appears to have committed a third-degree felony by knowingly giving an incorrect address on her voter registration form in Palm Beach, Florida, and then knowingly voting at the incorrect polling place last March, could face up to $5,000 in fines and five years in prison if convicted.

read the whole thing....Here

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

2006 Bugatti Veyron - the world's fastest production car?

...The Veyron is a dangerous car in the wrong hands. Even highly trained Veyron test drivers have suffered broken noses, crushed lungs, fractured ribs, and diarrhea. And those are the ones who haven’t crashed into anything. Honestly, for a moment I worried that I wasn’t up to the challenge. Then I remembered that I have a degree in English and am therefore qualified to test the limits of a machine that just might go 300 mph. I climbed aboard.
read more...2006 Bugatti Veyron

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

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

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

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

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Why You Should Worry About Big Oil

Beyond the fat profits, the giants are surprisingly vulnerable worldwide. That's bad news for business -- and consumers

You'd think the Apr. 26 oil summit in Qatar would have been an occasion for the industry to celebrate. The world's top energy executives were there, and they could all point to record profits and record demand. But rejoice? John Browne, CEO of London giant BP PLC, (BP ) says instead that the atmosphere was strangely glum. "There wasn't anyone smiling," he says. "They were worrying that the price was too high."

Browne's comments underscore a surprising point. Big Oil, that clutch of oil and gas giants in the U.S. and Europe, has big problems. Yes, we know it sounds ridiculous. Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM ) has been reporting the lushest earnings in the history of the business, notching up $8.4 billion in its latest quarterly report. Combine the forecasted 2006 earnings of BP, Royal Dutch Shell (RD ), Chevron (CVX ), Total (TOT ), ConocoPhillips (COP ), and ExxonMobil, and you get roughly $135 billion, a sum greater than the gross domestic product of the Czech Republic or Israel. These companies, moreover, enjoy huge political clout in their home countries, have spotty environmental records, and staunchly defend outrageous prices at the gasoline pump. Why worry about them?

Well, you don't have to love the big oil companies to worry about their ability to provide us with the energy we need. That job is getting difficult, thanks to huge technical challenges, competition from national oil companies, and demanding, even hostile foreign governments. Just look at events in Bolivia on May 1, when the government abruptly nationalized the nation's gas fields.

So the majors may be making billions, but they are struggling to put them safely and soundly to work. Overall production at the oil majors is struggling to keep up with demand, and the reserve replacement ratio, the measurement of how well they are replenishing their supplies, is slipping. A healthy ratio should always be over 100%. But ratios for most of the six oil majors will slip below that level over the next five years, according to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. "That's nowhere near the rate of reserves needed to satisfy world demand," says Robert E. Gillon, an analyst at oil research firm John S. Herold Inc. While most analysts think oil will hover at its current price, some think that if prices mimic the last big runup between 1970 and 1980, oil could hit almost $200 a barrel by decade's end, or about $6 for a gallon of gas. Some options traders are already betting that oil, now around $72 a barrel, could rise to $100 by December. Washington consultants PFC Energy figures the world is consuming oil at more than two times the rate of discovery of new supply. Conservation and efficiency gains have already saved billions, but they have not been enough to offset sharply rising demand from China and India.

read the rest......
Why You Should Worry About Big Oil

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Skeleton in the Bush family cupboard

One of America's great historical controversies intensifed yesterday with the publication of fresh evidence that members of an elite secret society may have dug up the remains of the Indian leader Geronimo and displayed his skull in their headquarters.

Rumours that half a dozen members of the Skull & Bones society at Yale University - including President George W Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush - dug up the grave of the legendary Apache leader during the First World War have exercised historians for years.

"Bonesmen", as senior members of the society are known, and the Bush family have long refused to comment on the claims.
Skeleton in the Bush family cupboard

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

The “unwritten rules” of Raytheon’s William Swanson

...Swanson’s book had been met with much acclaim in the corporate world, always on the lookout for short-cuts to complex problems. It had apparently won praise from former GE executive Jack Welch and investment guru Warren Buffett, among others. It became, in the words of one commentator, “a cult hit in corporate America”; Raytheon, the fourth-largest defense contractor in the US, had given away some 300,000 copies.

On April 14, USA Today ran a flattering piece on Swanson and his book. It reprinted his list of “unwritten rules” in a sidebar. Carl Durrenberger, a young engineer in San Diego, noticed that the body of Swanson’s observations bore a remarkable resemblance to the King work, of which he possessed a copy. In fact, he noted, that of Swanson’s 33 rules, 17 came virtually word for word from King.

Durrenberger wrote a letter to the editors of USA Today, noting that “nearly all of these ‘unwritten rules’ have indeed been written—by another author in fact, sixty years ago.... Perhaps there is a new rule he [Swanson] needs to swallow about taking credit for other people’s work. Or perhaps this sort of thing has been his recipe for success in corporate America and, for him, stepping on the genius of others is business as usual.”

Durrenberger included a list of the unwritten rules that “were lifted verbatim” from King’s text. These insights include:

read the rest...
The “unwritten rules” of Raytheon’s William Swanson

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Wal-Mart Fights for 'Smiley' Ownership

The yellow smiley face may strike most people as an overused piece of e-mail shorthand, or a cute interjection in the scribbled notes passed between American teenagers, or a throwback to the era of bright happy colours in the 1970s. But to Wal-Mart, the world's largest and most controversial retailer, it represents big money and a legal battle it fully intends to win.

Wal-Mart has long since adapted the smiley face, in its familiar yellow-balloon incarnation, as its unofficial logo, plastering it on shopping bags, promotional posters and many retail items in an effort to make people feel good when visiting its often soulless, discount superstores with their endless aisles and vast suburban car parks.

Nobody has objected to that, but now Wal-Mart wants to claim the smiley as its own property. That wouldn't stop people from sticking the little yellow face in their e-mail messages, but it would prevent other retailers from incorporating the smiley in their promotional materials.

And that is raising the hackles of a Frenchman named Franklin Loufrani, who has been making a living from the commercial use of the smiley since the 1970s. His London-based company, SmileyWorld, collects royalties from the propagation of the original smiley and its many offshoots (the Santa Claus smiley, the kissing smiley, and so on) from 80 countries around the world.
read the rest...
Wal-Mart Fights for 'Smiley' Ownership

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

The Tragedy Of False Confessions

There are enough injustices in our society without innocent people being convicted of heinous crimes. Yet, it turns out that happens with far greater frequency than we ever imagined. DNA testing, a relatively new phenomenon, has already exonerated 175 people convicted of crimes.

Then the more amazing part: one fifth of them had confessed to the crime! And when it comes to false confessions, this is only the tip of the iceberg. One study by two law professors documented 125 proven false confessions - these include people exonerated before or during trial. And these are only the cases we /know/ about.

Why would anyone confess to a crime he didn't commit? A new website/blog devoted to false confessions (, created by my sometime co-author Alan Hirsch, notes many reasons. But, Hirsch says, "In most cases, it's a function of interrogation tactics geared to break people down. These tactics succeed too well - they break down innocent people.
"read the rest...
The Tragedy Of False Confessions

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

The FUTURE is here! (almost)

Check out this new type of video display - 3d mid-air pictures with interactive capabilities! See the video HERE

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Scientology nearly ready to unveil Super Power

In the works for decades, the closely guarded spiritual training program will be revealed in Clearwater.

By ROBERT FARLEY, Times Staff Writer
Published May 6, 2006

CLEARWATER - Matt Feshbach believes he has super powers. He senses danger faster than most people. He appreciates beauty more deeply than he used to. He says he outperforms his peers in the money management industry.

He heightened his powers of perception in 1995 when he went to Los Angeles and became the first and so far only "public" Scientologist to take a highly classified Scientology program called Super Power.

Where in L.A. did he do this?

"Just in Los Angeles," is all Feshbach will say. Super Power is that secret.

Under wraps for decades, Super Power now is being prepped for its eventual rollout in Scientology's massive building in downtown Clearwater. That will be the only place worldwide where the program, much anticipated by Scientologists, will be offered.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Google SketchUp (free)

Wow! Easy-to-use drawing software to create 3D drawings you can walk around in and view as desired. Even the free version is pretty high powered. I'm an AutoCAD (Computer Aided Design & Drafting) technician and even I am impressed by the results and ease with which one can create drawings. You can draw your home (even your home town!), make changes/additons/deletions and see how it would look in real life. There are many similar programs on the market, but for a free offering this is a terrific value. Did I mention it is easy to use? Get it, try it, love it! --pseudolus
Google SketchUp (free) is an easy-to-learn 3D modeling program whose few simple tools enable you to create 3D models of houses, sheds, decks, home additions, woodworking projects – even space ships. You can add details, textures and glass to your models, design with dimensional accuracy, and place your finished models in Google Earth, share them with others by posting them to the 3D Warehouse, or print hard copies. Google SketchUp (free) is a great way to discover if 3D modeling is right for you.
get it here...SketchUp

Go here for more tips/training...

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

'Robin Hood' Gang Rob Gourmet Stores in Bid to Feed Hamburg's Poor

They dress up in pink catsuits, have names like "Spider Mum" and feel a social obligation to plunder the most expensive restaurants and gourmet delicatessens in town as part of a campaign to help the poor.

Last week the well-heeled citizens of Hamburg's Altona district got a taste of their antics when 30 of them marched into the city's luxury "Fresh Paradise Goedeken" supermarket and walked out five minutes later with €15,000 (£10,000) worth of stolen goods.

The gang's booty included magnums of Champagne at €99 a bottle, filets of Japanese Kobe beef at €108 a kilogram, legs of venison, a salmon and several boxes of Valrhona chocolate.

Before leaving, gang members thrust a bouquet of flowers into the hands of a shop assistant. Attached was a handwritten note which proclaimed: "Survival in the city of millionaires would be impossible without us!" It was signed by "Spider Mum", "Santa Guevara" and "Multiflex".

Another note later released by the gang insisted that the haul had been distributed to Hamburg's needy, to the "social workers, cleaning ladies and minimum-wage earners". It added: "The places of wealth in this town are as numerous as the opportunities to take it."

read more... 'Robin Hood' Gang Rob Gourmet Stores

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

House, Senate Conservatives Agree on $70 Billion In New Tax Cuts for the Rich

House and Senate conservatives just agreed to move forward on another budget-busting tax bill favoring the wealthiest Americans. The latest plan — announced today “after months of tense negotiations and slipped deadlines” — will spend $70 billion to extend the 15 percent tax rate for capital gains and dividends until 2010. The agreement “paves the way for House approval of the measure as early as Wednesday. The Senate could clear the bill for Bush’s desk by week’s end.”
According to a study by the Tax Policy Center, the tax cuts overwhelmingly benefit the richest Americans:
The top tenth of 1 percent, whose average income is $5.3 million, would save an average of $82,415. Those in the top group would see their tax bill cut 4.8 percent, while Americans at the center of the income distribution — the middle fifth of taxpayers, who will earn an average of $36,000 this year — could expect a 0.4 percent reduction in their tax bill, or about $20.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

An Army of one wrong recruit...

Autism - The signing of a disabled Portland man despite warnings reflects problems nationally for military enlistment

Jared Guinther is 18. Tall and lanky, he will graduate from Marshall High School in June. Girls think he's cute, until they try to talk to him and he stammers or just stands there -- silent.

Diagnosed with autism at age 3, Jared is polite but won't talk to people unless they address him first. It's hard for him to make friends. He lives in his own private world.

Jared didn't know there was a war raging in Iraq until his parents told him last fall -- shortly after a military recruiter stopped him outside a Southeast Portland strip mall and complimented him on his black Converse All Stars.

"When Jared first started talking about joining the Army, I thought, 'Well, that isn't going to happen,' " said Paul Guinther, Jared's father. "I told my wife not to worry about it. They're not going to take anybody in the service who's autistic."

But they did. Last month, Jared came home with papers showing that he not only had enlisted, but also had signed up for the Army's most dangerous job: cavalry scout. He is scheduled to leave for basic training Aug. 16.

Officials are now investigating whether recruiters at the U.S. Army Recruiting Station in Southeast Portland improperly concealed Jared's disability, which should have made him ineligible for service.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)


A wild animal changing directions and twisting around quickly while chasing its prey, a motorcycle diving into corners and ripping chicanes, an athlete rounding the turn into the final straight and an aeroplane gliding through the clouds… what do they all have in common?

Nature knows … when cornering, they bank!

Now here is something that will make you go literally out of your way to find curvy roads: the Carver One! Enjoy the revving sound of its 660 cc turbocharged engine competing with the energising beeps of the tilt indicator and the cries of excitement and laughter as you graciously lean in the corners again and again and again.

Sharpen your senses! This is as close as you may ever get to flying. Are you ready for take off?
see it here...CARVER ONE

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Monday, May 08, 2006

Puffing is the Best Medicine

The Food and Drug Administration is contradicting itself. It recently reiterated its position that cannabis has no medical utility, but it also approved advanced clinical trials for a marijuana-derived drug called Sativex, a liquid preparation of two of the most therapeutically useful compounds of cannabis. This is the same agency that in 1985 approved Marinol, another oral cannabis-derived medicine.
Both Sativex and Marinol represent the "pharmaceuticalization" of marijuana. They are attempts to make available its quite obvious medicinal properties ? to treat pain, appetite loss and many other ailments ? while at the same time prohibiting it for any other use. Clinicians know that the herb ? because it can be smoked or inhaled via a vaporizer ? is a much more useful and reliable medicine than oral preparations. So it might be wise to consider exactly what Sativex can and can't do before it's marketed here.
A few years ago, the British firm GW Pharmaceuticals convinced Britain's Home Office that it should be allowed to develop Sativex because the drug could provide all of the medical benefits of cannabis without burdening patients with its "dangerous" effects ? those of smoking and getting high.
But there is very little evidence that smoking marijuana as a means of taking it represents a significant health risk. Although cannabis has been smoked widely in Western countries for more than four decades, there have been no reported cases of lung cancer or emphysema attributed to marijuana. I suspect that a day's breathing in any city with poor air quality poses more of a threat than inhaling a day's dose ? which for many ailments is just a portion of a joint ? of marijuana.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

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

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

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

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Cheney speech spurs new Cold War: Russian press

Ah, shit! Here we go again....  --pseudolus
MOSCOW (Reuters) - A speech by Vice President Dick Cheney strongly critical of the Kremlin marks the start of a new Cold War that could drive Moscow away from its new-found Western allies, the Russian press said on Friday.
In shocked reaction to the harshest U.S. criticism of Moscow for years, commentators said Washington had created an anti-Russian cordon of Western-aligned states stretching from the Baltic almost to the Caspian Sea.
The Kremlin, in a reaction within hours of Cheney's delivery in Vilnius, said the speech, which was full of accusations that Moscow was limiting human rights and using its energy riches to blackmail the world, was "completely incomprehensible."

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

"My Beef With Big Media" by Ted Turner

In the late 1960s, when Turner Communications was a business of billboards and radio stations and I was spending much of my energy ocean racing, a UHF-TV station came up for sale in Atlanta. It was losing $50,000 a month and its programs were viewed by fewer than 5 percent of the market.
I acquired it.
When I moved to buy a second station in Charlotte--this one worse than the first--my accountant quit in protest, and the company's board vetoed the deal. So I mortgaged my house and bought it myself. The Atlanta purchase turned into the Superstation; the Charlotte purchase--when I sold it 10 years later--gave me the capital to launch CNN.
Both purchases played a role in revolutionizing television. Both required a streak of independence and a taste for risk. And neither could happen today. In the current climate of consolidation, independent broadcasters simply don't survive for long. That's why we haven't seen a new generation of people like me or even Rupert Murdoch--independent television upstarts who challenge the big boys and force the whole industry to compete and change.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Debunking One of the Worst Ideas in Economics

In this column, I'm focusing on bad economics. In fact, I'm going to write about what I consider to be the two worst economic ideas -- or at least ideas that pass as economics, though both have been thoroughly repudiated by nearly all credible thinkers.

When I say worst, I don't mean the most outlandish (e.g. stock prices are controlled by aliens) because those ideas usually collapse of their own weight. Rather, the most pernicious bad ideas in economics are those that have a ring of truth. They're hard to debunk because they have a certain intuitive appeal. As a result, they stick around, providing bogus intellectual cover for bad policy, year after year, decade after decade.

For the sake of political balance, I'll skewer a favorite of the right in this column, and then a favorite of the left in my next piece.

The Laffer Curve

Economist Arthur Laffer made a very interesting supposition: If tax rates are high enough, then cutting taxes might actually generate more revenue for the government, or at least pay for themselves. (In one of life's great coincidences, he first sketched a graph of this idea on Dick Cheney's cocktail napkin.) If the government cuts taxes, then Uncle Sam gets a smaller cut of all economic activity -- but reducing taxes also generates new economic activity. Laffer reasoned that, under some circumstances, a tax cut would stimulate so much new economic activity that the government would end up with more in its coffers -- by taking a smaller slice of a much larger pie.

In fairness to Mr. Laffer, there's nothing wrong with this theory. It's almost certainly true at very high rates of taxation. If you consider the extreme, say a 99 percent marginal tax rate, then the government will probably not be collecting a lot of revenue. To begin with, citizens are going to hide as much income as possible. (The more honest ones will turn to barter and avoid the tax system entirely.) And no one is going to rush out and take a second job or build a factory if they get to keep only $1 of every $100 that they earn.

So it's entirely plausible that slashing tax rates from 99 percent to 30 percent could increase government tax revenues. It would deflate the black market and provide a huge new incentive to work and invest.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

UFOs don't exist, says secret UK report

Bad news today for UK UFO-spotters: that interdimensional alien mothership you spotted one night in Basingstoke while out walking the dog was probably ball lightning, or something equally terrestrial.
That's the conclusion of a secret 2000 MOD report which has been dragged from the X-Files by a freedom of information request from Sheffield Hallam Uni's Dr David Clarke, the BBC reveals.

The 400-page dossier, entitled "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena in the UK" and marked "Secret: UK Eyes Only", disappointingly concludes: "No evidence exists to suggest that the phenomena seen are hostile or under any type of control, other than that of natural physical forces." It adds: "There is no evidence that 'solid' objects exist which could cause a collision hazard."
For a flavour of the sort of phenomena which anxious citizens report to the powers that be, try the Ministry's UFO round-up section, which shows that on 20 February 2005, some terrified soul in Yeldersley, Derbyshire, spotted a "missile-shaped" object which was "turquoise in colour, metallic and looked reflective, and was the length of an estate car".
What, no alloy wheels and tints? We're not convinced, but what about a "triangular shaped, huge craft, with red lights on the stern" which "hovered over the southern suburbs of Shrewsbury" on 11 April?
That at least sounds like the precursor of a Martian invasion fleet, unlike this entry for 21 February: "Teddington, Middlesex: Something was seen in the sky."
Mercifully, the MOD is able to offer some down-to-earth reasons for these sightings. Its report explains:

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Ginsburg: Congress' Watchdog Plan 'Scary'

WASHINGTON ? Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Tuesday that a Republican proposal in Congress to set up a watchdog over the federal courts is a "really scary idea."
Ginsburg told a gathering of the American Bar Association that lawyers should stick up for judges when they are criticized by congressional leaders.
"My sense now is that the judiciary is under assault in a way that I haven't seen before," she said.
As an example, she mentioned proposals by senior Republicans who want an inspector general to police judges' acceptance of free trips or their possible financial interests with groups that could appear before them.
"It sounds to me very much like the Soviet Union was .... That's a really scary idea," said Ginsburg, who was put on the court by President Clinton and is one of its liberal members.
Ginsburg said her confirmation hearings in 1993, and those the following year for Justice Stephen Breyer, were long but friendly. "That bipartisan spirit has broken down," she said.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said last week that the judiciary wasn't doing enough policing of itself. His plan would create an inspector general to oversee federal courts including the Supreme Court. The inspector general would be directed to report any judicial misconduct to the Justice Department.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., has proposed a separate plan to cover lower federal courts only.
Ginsburg said her concerns were about the legislative branch setting up a so-called guardian for the judicial branch. She also said there have been discussions in Congress about limiting the scope of courts.
American Bar Association President Michael Greco asked Ginsburg what lawyers could do. She said attorneys can speak up and "say these efforts are wrong." Judges, she said, cannot lobby on their own behalf.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

The Washington Post takes another bad drug trip.

In its recent coverage of illicit drugs, the Washington Post has oscillated between reefer madness and the cluelessness of a phys-ed instructor giving an anti-drug speech.
About six weeks ago, the reefer madness lobes in the Post's brain generated a piece about methamphetamine titled "The Next Crack Cocaine? As Meth Use Grows, Officials Fear Region Is Unprepared to Deal With It" (March 19). Positing an increase in meth use in the headline and body, the Post story ultimately conceded after its sensationalistic premise that no "reliable statistics" on the number of users existed. For this sin and many others, I drubbed the piece in this column.
The Post extended its losing streak on the drug beat yesterday with a naive and poorly sourced piece about the psychedelic properties of morning glory seeds ("A '60s Buzz Recycled: Teens Rediscover Morning Glories Can Be Used as a Hallucinogen," May 3).
Writing from the secret Post formula for lame drug journalism, reporter Theresa Vargas brings a deficit of intellectual curiosity to her 1,300-word assemblage of anecdotes. A bad Washington Post drug piece usually interviews at least one person who has tried the substance?preferably an ex-user who has repudiated drugs. But the best Vargas can muster is the father of a teen who knows another teen who consumed morning glory seeds!

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Sex, Lies, and Government Contracts

The most extensive federal corruption scandal in a century is growing. In March, former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) was sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison (the longest sentence ever given to a member of Congress) for accepting $2.4 million in bribes in exchange for lucrative defense contracts. Yet Cunningham's crimes, the "magnitude and duration" of which are compared to the Teapot Dome scandal of the 1920s, may end up a mere prelude.
According to recent reports, federal investigators have traced the outlines of a far more extensive network of suspected corruption, involving multiple members of Congress, some of the nation's highest-ranking intelligence officials, bribery attempts including "free limousine service, free stays at hotel suites at the Watergate and the Westin Grand, and free prostitutes," tens of millions of dollars in federal contracts awarded under dubious circumstances, and even efforts to influence U.S. national security policy by subverting democratic oversight.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Why we are not naked even in the womb

Desmond Morris, the great English biologist, wrote in THE NAKED APE (1967) that of the 193 different species of primates, only one is naked: Humans. Morris meant that all other primates are covered in body hair. Ironically, we are also the only primates that cover-up our natural nakedness. Actually, in a sense Morris is wrong. We are not entirely naked. We do have at least some body hair although not nearly as much as our non-human primate cousins.
From birth we have hair on our head, eyebrows, and eyelashes. At puberty we develop hair elsewhere on our bodies. Throughout life some of us lose hair in some places and gain it in others. Some places remain with hair. And for some of us, we grow so much hair that we could truly be called "hairy" - almost in the gorilla sense.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

How Bush Sidesteps Intent of Congress

President Bush signed a military spending bill in December that included a hard-fought amendment banning the cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of foreign prisoners. Then he put a statement in the Federal Register asserting his right to ignore the ban when necessary, in his judgment, to protect Americans from terrorism.
In March, Bush signed a renewal of search and surveillance provisions of the USA Patriot Act and said at a public ceremony that civil liberties would be protected by a series of new amendments. Then he quietly inserted another statement in the Federal Register that virtually nullified one of those amendments, a requirement that the administration report to Congress on the FBI's use of its powers under the Patriot Act to seize library, bookstore and business records.
Civics textbooks say presidents have two choices when Congress passes a bill that's not completely to their liking: They can sign it into law, or they can veto it and let Congress try to override them.
Bush, far more than any of his predecessors, is resorting to a third option: signing a bill while reserving the right to disregard any part of it that he considers an infringement on his executive authority or constitutional powers.
In more than five years in office, the president has never vetoed a bill. But while approving new laws, he has routinely issued signing statements interpreting the legislation in ways that amount to partial vetoes of provisions to which he objects.
White House spokesman Blair Jones insisted that Bush is not trying to undermine the lawmaking authority of Congress, and noted that many past presidents have issued statements on the meaning of bills they sign.
Presidential scholars, in fact, trace signing statements back to the early 19th century. But for much of the nation's history, they have been little more than bureaucratic memos instructing subordinates on the implementation of new laws. Bush has transformed them into declarations of executive supremacy.
According to Christopher Kelley, an assistant professor of political science at Miami University in Ohio who has studied presidential powers, Bush issued 505 statements in his first term objecting to portions of new laws on constitutional grounds. Documents available at the White House Web site indicate that the number since Bush took office now exceeds 700.
By comparison, Kelley said, President Ronald Reagan, the first to use signing statements as an instrument of presidential power, issued 71 such statements in two terms; President George Bush issued 146 in one term; and President Bill Clinton issued 105 in two terms.
The numbers tell only part of the story, said Phillip Cooper, a professor of government administration at Portland State University who has studied signing statements and other executive actions.
"This administration has been much more systematic and much broader in scope'' in signing statements, Cooper said, on its "path to expand presidential powers at the expense of Congress and the courts.''

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Soda Deal with Clinton Foundation Latest PR Stunt

The headlines certainly sound impressive: ?Companies pulling sodas out of school? claimed the Associated Press; ?Bottlers agree to a school ban on sweet drinks? said the New York Times.? These and hundreds of other news stories around the nation this week gave the impression that the beverage industry had an epiphany and magically, all soda will disappear from schools forever.
Only one problem: nothing could be further from the truth. On Wednesday, Big Cola announced yet another voluntary school sales policy, this time, one brokered by the Clinton Foundation (the former president has made childhood obesity one of his post-presidency causes) and the American Heart Association.
We don?t even know all the details of this secretly-negotiated deal because the Clinton Foundation hasn?t made the actual agreement available on its website. (However, you can download the photo opportunities from the press conference.) What we do know is that this new policy is completely voluntary, which means it?s unenforceable, with no accountability. We are told that the ?goal? is to implement the guidelines in 75 percent of schools by the 2008-09 school year, with the rest coming on board a year later. That?s quite a long phase-in period given the imminent public health crisis our children face. How this goal can be achieved given the lack of oversight is a complete mystery.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Sunday, May 07, 2006

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

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Lambics: Beers Gone Wild

MANY wine lovers tend to think of beer as something monolithic, just as modern art or rap music seem all the same to those who choose not to embrace those subjects. Connoisseurs can rhapsodize for hours over the minute differences between neighboring vineyards in Morey-St.-Denis and Chambolle-Musigny, but beer? Just as long as it's cold.

To be frank, that's a position of blindness and should not inspire pride. Would you only eat meat and never try fish? We all know people like that, and we laugh at them. But people who drink only wine and won't touch beer? They're considered sophisticated. Excuse me while I chuckle.

Now, I'm not attacking preferences here, only the refusal to consider alternatives. If you have explored beer and decided it's not for you, well, I toast your open mind. But if you have exiled beers to parts unknown, I have a radical proposal: Take the time to seek out and try a few lambic beers from Belgium and tell me if these are not as complex and distinctive as many fine wines.
Read More...Lambics

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

"Real Conservatism Has Never Been Tried" - by digby

It has a kind of familiar ring to it doesn't it? Get used to this new permutation of a very old trope. It's about to enter the lexicon. Predictably, like the Trotskyites about whom the fathers of the modern conservative movement obsessed, (and the fathers of the neocons were) the modern conservatives are reaching the point at which that sad rationalization is all they have to hang on to.
There is a very interesting discussion taking place all over the left blogosphere about how the conservatives have discovered that the entire Republican establishment, particularly the George W. Bush administration, are liberals. Glenn Greenwald has been directly taking on Jonah Goldberg on this subject (which is something like my cat "taking on" his toy mouse), Hunter at DKos has written a lengthy and fascinating explication of the process, and Kevin Drum, in a different vein, discusses political Lysenkoism as the consequence of conservative loyalty over policy.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Why We Fight - without the propaganda

Treat yourself to a BBC documentary about the military-industrial complex and its origins this weekend. Directed by Eugene Jarecki in the modern documentary style, so it is particularly fast moving.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Hookers! - FireDogLake

Color me confused.  Everyone on TV seems to be buying the line that the Goss resignation has been planned for weeks.  No natural curiosity about the fact that it takes effect immediately, or that there is no replacement, or that he had a meeting scheduled this afternoon he didn?t show up for.  Not to mention the fact that as Professor Foland pointed out in the comments, the White House would?ve probably sacrificed its collective left nut to avoid stepping on a drunk Kennedy story.
But has the entire press corps turned into such a pile of humorless prudes that they can?t connect the dots in the Brent Wilkes hooker scandal?

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

free webpage hit counter