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'my profile' and other stuff... Anybody with a fix, please leave a comment. Many thanks in advance.

That said, if you must use Firefox (and I don't blame you, it's become my browser of choice, too)
...get the "IE Tab" extension. This allows you to view problem pages with the IE rendering engine. Very cool!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Anti-rant oasis: The simple truth about HHO and the water-burning engine myth

This fellow  "gravity-stricken" writes a rough but pretty thorough post on the topic of debunking the 'water fueled' car that is currently making the rounds. Every generation we have a new batch of folks who fall for 'magnetic cures', 'free-energy' machines, etc., etc. It will keep us skeptics perpetually engaged in debunking these claims. Hey! If we could harness that energy, maybe we could have perpetual motion machines! </snark> --pseudolus
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I wrote this in an email to my ex-wife in response to an email she forwarded from her father. My ex-father-in-law is supposed to be a genius - Mensa member and all that. In reality, he may once have been a genius, but now he's a nut. Anyhow, he sent a video clip from Fox News that's been making the internet rounds about a guy who supposedly invented a way to use water as fuel. In this case, he's using it to power a torch, but the story says that the military and an unnamed major car maker are looking into his idea. By the end of the clip, I was laughing to tears about how clueless and gullible the media Ken-and-Barbie types are.
 
For background, I have a degree in Chemical Engineering. Although, to be honest, I haven't used it since I got it. I do work in manufacturing, but not as a ChemE. However, for this little explanation, only common sense and a basic understanding of thermodynamics is needed. I tried to keep this simple for my ex-wife's sake. Anyhow, here's my first blog:

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Friday, June 02, 2006


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Tell Me, Captain, If You Know Of A Decent Place To Stand - by Christopher Cooper

If I were wealthy and my family could afford hired minders to tend me instead of letting me engage the world loose and alone, the cute young thing serving the second shift tour would likely advise, 'Maybe you shouldn't watch the evening news, Mr. Cooper; you know how it upsets you.' 'Maybe,' I'd snarl, 'you should bring me a beer.' But she'd be right.
 
One night last weekend NBC advised us we were about to receive 'NBC news-in-depth.' Perhaps this notice was designed to focus our attention or to impress viewers with the extra effort the network was taking to keep us informed. My temperament being what is is, I asked the rhetorical question, 'And what about the other nineteen minutes of lies, half-truths and misdirections you're giving us tonight' News-of-a-shallow-nature'' In the event, there was no need to sit up and pay closer attention. What followed was, if anything, even less deep or thoughtful or insightful than what followed or went before.
 
Gasoline prices are high this Memorial Day weekend we were advised. But Americans aren't about to let that keep them off the highways. No, by God, we'll vacation until the last drop. But, as a series of brief interviews with guys readying their motor homes showed, we are concerned enough that some of us will be recreating a bit closer to home this summer, and the average vacation is predicted to be about a half day shorter. 'Man, that's deep!' I cried. 'That is just (several expletives, some repeated) deep!'
 
And that's how it goes. Consumer news, diet tips, lies and spin passed on without investigation, human-interest stories that are not very interesting and all too predictable. Public Television is better, it's true, but less better than it used to be, so nervous about being branded liberal that it gives the likes of Thomas Friedman respect and air time, and interviews the same administration voices politely and with scant challenge.
 
And on holidays it gets worse. Have you noticed how all holidays are now militarized' When I was a boy we planted a geranium on our grandparents' grave on Decoration Day. It's true that the cemetery caretaker also renewed the flags on veteran's graves, but everyone I knew thought of the day as a time to remember our dead, in whatever venue and by whatever means they had died. The news coverage now is almost exclusively about war dead, military cemeteries, the 'ultimate sacrifice.'
 
Thanksgiving and Christmas bring us coverage of 'Americans in the war zone' for the holidays. One expects the Fourth of July to be equal parts patriotism and barbecue, of course, but since we've been promulgating the Never-ending War On Terror, news coverage and commentary has taken on a thicker pro-military veneer.
 
No one can doubt the loneliness, sadness, heartache, fear, worry, anguish or doubt that infuse the lives of families of soldiers and National Guardsmen sent to Iraq or Afghanistan. Does anybody doubt the suffering of parents or spouses or children when a soldier comes home dead, likely in pieces, maybe incinerated' But this isn't news. Interviewing a family whose boy was blown up by a car bomb tells us nothing and uses their grief to sell whichever pill or preparation NBC has contracted to promote during its commercials.
 
And then we have the obligatory moments at the Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier which, it turns out, is suffering deterioration of its marble. That happens, you know. Stone erodes, medals tarnish, the wars run together into the past. The loss only remains for those who knew and loved the children sacrificed by the politicians and abetted by the pundits who do not fight, do not die.
 
And we do love monuments. The days of the stone or bronze statue of a general and his horse are past. Today we like the big statement, the grand public space. NBC tells me we're going to have a memorial to disabled veterans in Washington, replete with a star-shaped reflecting pool with an eternal flame ('the campfire') in its center. Wal-Mart badgered its customers for change to raise a World War II memorial. Domestic deaths are similarly aggrandized, from Oklahoma City to the convoluted excrescence that will rise in lower Manhattan.
 
We antagonize the world; we invade here, bomb there, agitate, assassinate, and fabricate the necessity of war. This ensures a continuing stream of American war dead. Fifty-eight thousand dead in Vietnam spooked us. We're nearing twenty-five hundred from Iraq. Is there a threshold we must rise above before we'll want an acre of marble or granite, an obelisk or a wall in Washington' Or is duration a significant enough criterion for memorialization if the death toll doesn't rise to epic proportions'
 
It's worth a paragraph here, I think, to note that in addition to the American names inscribed on the wall, there were well over a million Vietnamese killed by American troops. And today very few of us any longer think 'Communist Aggression' or the Domino Theory required or validated our prosecution of that war. All we got out of it was our dead, our boys come home in boxes. And a monument.
 
Public Television broadcast an episode of The American Experience last Monday night that interpolated scenes from a massacre of American soldiers in Vietnam in October of 1967 with a campus sit-in at the University of Wisconsin the same day that turned into a police riot. This, NBC please note, was TV worth watching. I remember 1967, both its foreign war and its domestic unrest.
 
The rhetoric then was the same as now. To support the troops you must support the war. We're fighting them over there so we won't have to fight them here. And the press, then as now, presented the official press releases and pronouncements as fact, despite the now-revealed truths (in both wars) that the reasons for fighting were fabricated, the 'enemy' had no designs on our peace or prosperity or domestic tranquility, the body counts falsified, our war crimes covered up.
 
People say Iraq is not Vietnam. I say a careful examination reveals only these significant differences: the Bush administration is more brutally repressive and cynically manipulative than were Nixon and his henchmen; the press is less critical, more biased toward power and authority, more beholden to corporations, lazier, now than then; the public has not yet felt the accumulated weight of enough American dead, been spattered with enough blood, to think beyond the easy symbolism of flag and funeral and tales of heroism and gleam of bright new monuments. Not yet, but someday. This war, too, will be added to the list of America's mistakes. America's delusions.
 
There is no draft. College kids will not be sucked from their comfortable lives to confront reality. There are no sit-ins, hence no cops gone amock in the administration building, no tear gas, no dead students on the sidewalks of Ohio.
 
We are a soft and lazy nation. We are obese. We ride rather than walk, accept rather than challenge. If NBC News tells us the deepest story on the nightly news is the revelation that Americans hit the road on Memorial Day weekend, the cost of gas be damned, that tells us much about the quality of NBC News and much more about the degraded state of the American spirit.
 
Fly the flags, visit the monuments. Soon it will be Independence Day and we'll do it all again, this time with fireworks. 'Oh, say, can you see...'' No, we can't see much of anything any more. Or we don't want to. We don't try.
 
I was in college in October of 1967. I turned eighteen the day the Madison police broke the heads of those students and 64 out of 142 men were killed pointlessly, stupidly, because their commanders and war planners wanted 'more engagement.' General Westmoreland, of course, lied about the battle, its purpose, its conduct, its result. Washington got its heroes, the war ran on eight years, we have a very nice monument to show for it all.
 
My son is twenty-two, my grandson not yet two. Will there be room left in Washington D.C. To build the memorials to the wars they will witness' Will the people of this country take back control of their nation' Will we take an interest in what is done in our names' Will four dollar gas slow us down as three dollar gas hasn't' We can find out by watching the corporate news on our video ipods on our way to the beach on some future holiday, I suppose.
 
Agreeing with Leonard Cohen that "There is no decent place to stand in a massacre," Cooper displays no flags, barbecues no beasts on his holidays at home on the woodlot that has helped preserve him through these increasingly hopeless times. He thanks his small following of regular readers for their encouraging E-mails, and wishes he had useful answers to their pleas for direction. Interested persons may point out his errors and omissions by this route: ckc2@prexar.com.

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Haditha Means Time to End Iraq War - by Ruth Conniff

Just when you thought things couldn't get much worse for the United States in Iraq, over Memorial Day weekend, details emerged from a Pentagon investigation of a November massacre of 24 civilians by U.S. Marines that some military analysts are calling a bigger scandal than Abu Ghraib.
 
Final reports by the Pentagon and Congress are sure to set off a firestorm here and abroad.
 
Point-blank shootings of a seventy-seven-year-old grandfather in a wheelchair, a three-year-old, and a five-month-old baby and mother, who was apparently pleading for mercy when she was killed, are some of the casualties. Not, as The New York Times first reported--giving the Marine Corps' official version of events--armed insurgents. The original Times story said that a roadside bomb aimed at a U.S. convoy killed 20 Iraqis, and a firefight between U.S. troops and insurgents killed several more.
 
According to a news analysis piece in Editor and Publisher, "U.S. Military Admits Iraq Massacre--Months After Press Reported it", Time magazine broke the massacre story in the United States last March, months after a video shot by a local journalism student and witness testimony to human rights groups had been reported in the Arab press. A.P. and Knight Ridder followed Time's lead.
 
Now more details of the Pentagon investigation are leaking out, showing My Lai-like behavior by Marines on a rampage in the insurgent-dominated town of Haditha.
 
It is a classic case of Vietnam-like mission confusion. Frustrated Marines are on edge, and have a hard time separating enemies from allies in this war. The original mission--finding weapons of mass Destruction and supporting democracy--have gone up in smoke. The troops are left in the middle of a civil war, viewed with hostility by many of the people they are supposedly there to help.
 
A neighbor of mine, back on a short leave from an 18-month tour as a National Guardsman in Iraq, expressed disgust with the Iraqis, describing them as a backward people who don't even want our help to build schools. They prefer that their kids remain ignorant, and work on the farm, he said. That alienated feeling is mutual, as Iraqis view the United States with increasing anger. It's not a hopeful atmosphere.
 
The Haditha massacre shows how badly things have deteriorated.
 
For the first time on Friday President Bush began making noises that things are going very, very badly in Iraq. He admitted that calling for the insurgents to "bring it on" was a mistake. He used the same word to describe Abu Ghraib. Soon he will have to address what John Murtha calls U.S. atrocities in Haditha. With U.S. support for the war already at an all-time low, and the number of U.S. casualties approaching 2,500 and Iraqi casualties estimated at between 38,000 and more than 100,000, it's time to put an end to this awful war, and finally admit that, in Bush's words, the whole thing has been a terrible mistake.
 
Ruth Conniff covers national politics for The Progressive and is a voice of The Progressive on many TV and radio programs.
 
© 2006 The Progressive
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Impeach Alberto Gonzales? Why, Yes! - by John Nichols

California Congressman Darrell Issa is one of the most conservative Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee. So it should come as no surprise that he offered an appropriately cautious and responsible solution for the Constitutional conflict created when members of the Bush administration ordered federal agents to raid the Capitol Hill office of a sitting member of Congress.
 
"We have the power to impeach the attorney general," Issa told Tuesday's Judiciary Committee hearing titled: "Reckless Justice: Did the Saturday Night Raid of Congress Trample the Constitution?"
 
Much of the Washington press corps, which maintains a familiarity with the Constitution that is roughly equivalent to its acquaintance with the truth, dismissed Issa's suggestion that the committee might want to consider the ultimate political sanction for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The Washington Post's lamentable Dana Milbank, who stands ever ready to ridicule any defense of the Constitution, huffed that the California congressman was being "dramatic."
 
Dramatic? Let's hope so, because the times are dramatic, and the concerns that have been raised by the raid on Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson's office demand a response that is equal to them.
 
There is no question that Gonzales, a champion of executive overreach since his days as White House counsel, used the Constitution as a doormat when he ushered FBI agents into Jefferson's office. The investigation of Jefferson, a Tom DeLay-sleazy member of the House who conveniently for the ever-political Gonzales happens to be a Democrat, had already yielded more than enough evidence of wrongdoing. The raid was, as George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley described it: a "gratuitous insult" motivated not by necessity but by "raw arrogance."

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Was the 2004 Election Stolen? - by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Like many Americans, I spent the evening of the 2004 election watching the returns on television and wondering how the exit polls, which predicted an overwhelming victory for John Kerry, had gotten it so wrong. By midnight, the official tallies showed a decisive lead for George Bush -- and the next day, lacking enough legal evidence to contest the results, Kerry conceded. Republicans derided anyone who expressed doubts about Bush's victory as nut cases in ''tinfoil hats,'' while the national media, with few exceptions, did little to question the validity of the election. The Washington Post immediately dismissed allegations of fraud as ''conspiracy theories,''(1) and The New York Times declared that ''there is no evidence of vote theft or errors on a large scale.''(2)
 
But despite the media blackout, indications continued to emerge that something deeply troubling had taken place in 2004. Nearly half of the 6 million American voters living abroad(3) never received their ballots -- or received them too late to vote(4) -- after the Pentagon unaccountably shut down a state-of-the-art Web site used to file overseas registrations.(5) A consulting firm called Sproul & Associates, which was hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters in six battleground states,(6) was discovered shredding Democratic registrations.(7) In New Mexico, which was decided by 5,988 votes,(8) malfunctioning machines mysteriously failed to properly register a presidential vote on more than 20,000 ballots.(9) Nationwide, according to the federal commission charged with implementing election reforms, as many as 1 million ballots were spoiled by faulty voting equipment -- roughly one for every 100 cast.(10)
 
The reports were especially disturbing in Ohio, the critical battleground state that clinched Bush's victory in the electoral college. Officials there purged tens of thousands of eligible voters from the rolls, neglected to process registration cards generated by Democratic voter drives, shortchanged Democratic precincts when they allocated voting machines and illegally derailed a recount that could have given Kerry the presidency. A precinct in an evangelical church in Miami County recorded an impossibly high turnout of ninety-eight percent, while a polling place in inner-city Cleveland recorded an equally impossible turnout of only seven percent. In Warren County, GOP election officials even invented a nonexistent terrorist threat to bar the media from monitoring the official vote count.(11)
 
Any election, of course, will have anomalies. America's voting system is a messy patchwork of polling rules run mostly by county and city officials. ''We didn't have one election for president in 2004,'' says Robert Pastor, who directs the Center for Democracy and Election Management at American University. ''We didn't have fifty elections. We actually had 13,000 elections run by 13,000 independent, quasi-sovereign counties and municipalities.''

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A State Of Emergency: Bush is a Danger to the Constitution in his Wartime Capacity as Commander in Chief - by Sidney Blumenthal

Within the Bush administration something that senior officials call the "war paradigm" is the central organising principle. They do not use the phrase publicly, but they bend policy to serve it. After September 11 the war paradigm was instantly adopted. George Bush, who proclaimed "I'm a war president", assumed the paradigm as his natural state and right. According to its imperatives, the president in his wartime capacity as commander in chief makes and enforces laws as he sees fit, overriding the constitutional system of checks and balances. Some of the paradigm's expressions include Bush's fiats on the treatment of detainees, domestic surveillance and international law, and his more than 750 "signing statements" - interpretations of laws that he claims he can implement as he chooses.
 
In the beginning, the elements of the war paradigm appeared to be expediencies, conceived as emergency measures in the struggle against al-Qaida. But their precepts were developed before September 11 by John Yoo, promoted to deputy assistant attorney general in the office of legal counsel at the department of justice, where he was tasked to write secret memos on torture, surveillance and executive power.
 
Once Bush approved them, the clerisy of neoconservative lawyers put them into effect. They believe fervently that the constitution is fatally flawed and must be circumscribed. The Bush administration's holy grail is to remove suspects' rights to due process, speedy trial and exculpatory evidence. The war paradigm is to be strengthened to conduct permanent war against terror that can never be finally defeated. There is no exit strategy from emergency.
 
In the short run, Bush's defence of his war paradigm may precipitate three constitutional crises. In the first, freedom of the press is at issue. On May 21 Alberto Gonzales, the attorney general, announced the possibility that the New York Times would be prosecuted for publishing its Pulitzer prize-winning article on the administration's domestic surveillance. "It can't be the case," he said, that the first amendment trumps the right of the government "to go after criminal activity".
 
In the second case, a wartime executive above the law may be asserted. Last week the special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who charged the vice-president's former chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby with perjury and obstruction of justice, made plain his intention to summon Cheney to the witness stand to impeach Libby's credibility or else commit perjury himself. But will the administration fight the subpoena as an infringement on a unitary executive that should be immune from such distractions in wartime?
 
In the third case, if either house of Congress should fall to the Democrats in the November midterm elections, the oversight suppressed during one-party rule would be restored. Would the administration refuse congressional requests for documents as it did when the Democratic Senate in Bush's first year asked for those pertaining to Cheney's energy taskforce, which reportedly included Enron's CEO Ken Lay, last week convicted on numerous counts of fraud?
 
Bush does not contemplate retreat from the war paradigm, which he embraces as his reason for being. After his 2004 victory he claimed he had had his accountability moment. But the constitution is an intricate mechanism of checks and balances that creates constant accountability. The question at the heart of Bush's politics is whether that can be indefinitely suspended and the constitution radically revised.
 
Sidney Blumenthal, a former senior adviser to President Clinton, is the author of The Clinton Wars.
 
© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006
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Estate Tax Repeal An Unfair Act - by Richard Rockefeller

Published on Thursday, June 1, 2006 by the Portland Press Herald (Maine)
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Once again the question of repealing the estate tax has come before the U.S. Senate. The House has already approved a permanent repeal, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has promised a vote in June in the upper house.
 
Approval would abolish our nation's only tax on great accumulations of wealth.
 
The timing of this vote couldn't be more bizarre. Our nation is at war and faces a multitrillion-dollar national debt for decades to come. We are rebuilding our Gulf Coast after one of the worst natural disasters in modern memory. At the same time, our country is experiencing unprecedented levels of wealth inequality.
 
In this context, it is particularly unseemly and wrong to abolish the estate tax.
 
As a member of a family that has been associated with generations of wealth, I feel obligated to speak out against the repeal of the estate tax. While our family would benefit financially from the elimination of the tax, I believe its abolition would steer our country in the wrong direction.
 
The estate tax raises substantial revenue from those most able to pay, including my immediate and extended families. It provides a tremendous incentive for wealthy individuals to give to charity, including many of the foundations that serve our communities in Maine.
 
Finally, the estate tax encourages dispersion, rather than a build-up, of concentrated wealth and power. Such accumulations of wealth pose a basic threat to our democratic traditions.

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Geronimo's Family Call on Bush to Help Return His Skeleton




by Andrew Buncombe

The great grandson of the Apache leader Geronimo has appealed to the big chief in the White House to help recover the remains of his famous relative - purportedly stolen more than 90 years ago by a group of students - including the President's grandfather.

The story that members of Yale University's secret Skull and Bones society took the remains - including a skull and femur - from the burial site in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, has long been part of the university's lore. But a university historian recently recovered a letter from 1918 that appears to support the story that members of the society did indeed take the remains while serving with a group of army volunteers from Yale, stationed at the fort during the First World War.

The students - among them, Mr Bush's grandfather Prescott - apparently returned with the remains and kept them in their society's headquarters at the university in New Haven, Connecticut. The society's initiation rite reportedly involves kissing a skull, referred to as "Geronimo", usually held in a glass case.

The letter from society member Winter Mead to fellow member F Trubee Davison, made public earlier this month, said: "The skull of the worthy Geronimo the Terrible, exhumed from its tomb at Fort Sill by your club... is now safe inside the [tomb] together with his well worn femurs, bit and saddle horn."

The famous Indian chief's great-grandson is appealing for President Bush's help in recovering the remains. Speaking from his home in Mescalero, New Mexico, Harlyn Geronimo said: "I am requesting his help in getting the remains - the skull and the femur - returned, if they were taken. According to our traditions the remains of this sort, especially in this state when the grave was desecrated ... need to be reburied with the proper rituals. To return the dignity and let his spirits rest in peace ... is important in our tradition." The letter was discovered by the Yale historian Marc Wortman and published in the Yale Alumni Magazine. Mr Wortman said there was still scepticism as to whether the remains were those of Geronimo - something that could probably only be proved by carrying out DNA tests.

"What I think we could probably say is they removed some skull and bones and other materials from a grave at Fort Sill," he said.

"Historically, it may be impossible to prove it's Geronimo's. They believe it's from Geronimo." Geronimo, a leader of the Chiricahua Apache, is remembered as one of the last Native American leaders to hold out against the forces of the US government. He eventually surrendered in Skeleton Canyon, Arizona, in 1886 and was moved first to Florida and then Oklahoma. He died of pneumonia at Fort Sill in 1909, and was buried at the fort's Apache Indian Prisoner of War cemetery.

The White House yesterday did not return calls seeking a comment. A Yale spokeswoman, Dorie Baker, said the university could not comment because the Skull and Bones was a separate entity and that because it was a secret society "we don't know anything". The society has not commented on the issue.

Life of a warrior

Geronimo's real name Goyathlay literally meant "one who yawns", but any further comparisons with lethargy stop there.

The Chiricahua Apache leader was head of one of the last American Indian fighting forces to formally capitulate to the United States, and gained a reputation for his bravery and ability to dodge bullets.

The feared Apache warrior took up arms against the Mexicans, and later the Americans, after Spanish troops massacred his wife and three children in 1858. His tribe was later forcibly moved by the US government to arid reservations.

Geronimo and his 35 warriors avoided the combined armies of Mexico and the US for a year before being captured in 1886 by General Nelson A Miles at Skeleton Canyon, Arizona.

Geronimo became something of a national celebrity, despite being a prisoner. He evenrode in Roosevelt's 1905 inaugural parade, but still died a prisoner of war far from his homeland.

© 2006 Independent News and Media Limited
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Gene experts say we are not entirely human - By Maggie Fox

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - We may not be entirely human, gene experts said on Thursday after studying the DNA of hundreds of different kinds of bacteria in the human gut.
 
Bacteria are so important to key functions such as digestion and the immune system that we may be truly symbiotic organisms -- relying on one another for life itself, the scientists write in Friday's issue of the journal Science.
 
Their findings suggest that studying bacteria native to our bodies may provide important clues to disease, nutrition, obesity and how well drugs will work in individuals, said the team at The Institute for Genomic Research, commonly known as TIGR, in Maryland.
 
"We are somehow like an amalgam, a mix of bacteria and human cells. There are some estimates that say 90 percent of the cells on our body are actually bacteria," Steven Gill, a molecular biologist formerly at TIGR and now at the State University of New York in Buffalo, said in a telephone interview.
 
"We're entirely dependent on this microbial population for our well-being. A shift within this population, often leading to the absence or presence of beneficial microbes, can trigger defects in metabolism and development of diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease."
 
Scientists have long known that at least 50 percent of human faeces, and often more, is made up of bacteria from the gut. Bacteria start to colonise the intestines and colon shortly after birth, and adults carry up to 100 trillion microbes, representing more than 1,000 different species.
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American Legion Condemns Chickenhawks - by Tom Harper

Well, they didn't use that exact word, but that's the meaning. Chickenhawks, keyboard warriors, members of the Chairborne Division ' the American Legion has your number. In the June 2006 issue of American Legion Magazine, there's an article entitled 'How the Privileged See the Military.'
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Thursday, June 01, 2006

No Icons, No Monuments Worth Protecting

This is just too much! Is there any doubt, now, that this Bush admin and it's cronies can join the lowest scum on the face of the earth in complete comfort and without batting an eye. Scuttling bottom feeders!? Un-Be-Frigging-Lievable!!! --pseudolus
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New York has no national monuments or icons, according to the Department of Homeland Security form obtained by ABC News. That was a key factor used to determine that New York City should have its anti-terror funds slashed by 40 percent--from $207.5 million in 2005 to $124.4 million in 2006.
 
"All I can tell you is if you look at their worksheets, and it says that New York City doesn't have any high visibility national icons ... I mean, I don't have to list the Brooklyn Bridge, the United Nations, Rockefeller Center, the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and the Stock Exchange," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in response to ABC News' questions.
 
The formula did not consider as landmarks or icons: The Empire State Building, The United Nations, The Statue of Liberty and others found on several terror target hit lists. It also left off notable landmarks, such as the New York Public Library, Times Square, City Hall and at least three of the nation's most renowned museums: The Guggenheim, The Metropolitan and The Museum of Natural History.
 
"I think the facts are clear," Bloomberg said. "What they've really done is taken what was supposed to be threat-based and just started to distribute it as normal pork."
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Le Blog Bérubé - Embrace your inner liberal!

Some good take-downs on libertarians in this post from the professor. --pseudolus
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Ann Althouse, middle-aged conservative law prof by day, teenaged rock and roller by night, blogging in between to try to reconcile those two sides of herself, and somehow always managing to discover that to be a conservative is to be a teenaged rock and roller, says that all great artists, from rock and rollers to painters, are conservatives.
"To be a great artist is inherently right wing. A great artist like Dylan or Picasso may have some superficial, naive, lefty things to say, but underneath, where it counts, there is a strong individual, taking responsibility for his place in the world and focusing on that." [-- Anne A.]
 
(Scroll down when you go to her post; she makes that assertion in her comment section.)
 
Someone must have given Althouse a copy of The Fountainhead at a too impressionable age.
 
Great artists in her mind, apparently, are all Howard Roarks, tall, manly, strong-willed, independent, healthy-minded, violent, anti-social proto-fascists, not a Mozart, a Van Gogh, a Henry James, a George Eliot, or a Miles Davis among them, nor a reality-based version of Picasso or Bob Dylan neither.
 
And apparently she has extrapolated from this Randian fantasy the notion that the American Right is made up of an army of Howard Roarks and isn't the club of Babbitts and Elmer Gantrys it appears to be to the rest of us.
 
Nevermind that an army of Roarks is an oxymoron, that in fact the world would be better off if all Right Wingers were Howard Roarks because they would not have anything to do with one another on principle and there'd be no organized political movement mucking up the governing of the country right now.
 
Althouse isn't really thinking like a conservative, or a Randian, here.  She's thinking like a third-rate literary critic.  She has decided that great artists like Dylan and Picasso don't know their own minds, that she knows them better than they know themselves, and it turns out they happen to think just like Ann Althouse.
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Gore: Bush is 'Renegade Rightwing Extremist' - by Oliver Burkeman and Jonathan Freedland

Al Gore has made his sharpest attack yet on the George Bush presidency, describing the current US administration as "a renegade band of rightwing extremists".
 
In an interview with the Guardian today, the former vice-president calls himself a "recovering politician", but launches into the political fray more explicitly than he has previously done during his high-profile campaigning on the threat of global warming.
 
Denying that his politics have shifted to the left since he lost the court battle for the 2000 election, Mr Gore says: "If you have a renegade band of rightwing extremists who get hold of power, the whole thing goes to the right."

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Bush Links Energized Enron - by Robert Scheer

The Bush family consistently acted to put Enron and its longtime CEO, Ken Lay, into a position to rip off investors and taxpayers. Why is the mass media ignoring that fact now that Lay has been convicted in arguably the most egregious example of white-collar fraud in U.S. history'
 
Until he hooked up with the Bushes, Lay was just another mid-level energy trader complaining endlessly about being hemmed in by onerous government regulations and those terrible consumer lawyers who prevent free market hustlers from doing their thing. But after he and his company became top supporters of the Bushes ' eventually giving $3 million in total to various Bush electoral campaigns and the Republican Party ' doors opened for them in a big way. In particular, once Bush the father got rid of key energy industry regulations, Lay was a made man and Enron's fortunes soared.
 
This program of corporate welfare led Lay to dub the first President Bush 'the energy president' in a column supporting his reelection because 'just six months after George Bush became president, he directed ' the development of a new energy strategy,' which, in effect, compelled local utility companies to carry Enron electricity on their wires. It was, Lay crowed, 'the most ambitious and sweeping energy plan ever proposed.'

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Wing and a Prayer: Religious Right Got Bush Elected

 - Now They Are Fighting Each Other
Campaigners who fail to keep the hardline faith face threats and intimidation
 
by Stephen Bates
  
In his consulting room in a suburb of Montgomery, Alabama, gastrologist Randy Brinson is a worried man. A staunch Republican and devout Baptist, Dr Brinson can claim substantial credit for getting George Bush re-elected in 2004. It was his Redeem the Vote initiative that may have persuaded up to 25 million people to turn out for President Bush. Yet his wife is receiving threats from anonymous conservative activists warning her husband to stay away from politics.
 
"They've been calling my house, threatening my wife," said Dr Brinson. "The first time was on a day when I was going up to Washington to speak to Republicans in Congress. Only they knew I'd be away from home. The Republicans were advised not to turn up to listen to me, so only three did so."
 
The reason he has fallen foul of men whose candidate he helped re-elect is that he has dared to question the partisan tactics of the religious right. "Conservatives speak in tones that they have got power and they can do what they want. Only 23% of the population embraces those positions but if someone questions their mandate or wants to articulate a different case, for the moderate right, they are totally ridiculed."

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1950 Letter Shows US Approved of Killing Korean War Refugees - by Charles J Hanley and Martha Mendoza

More than half a century after hostilities ended in Korea, a document from the war's chaotic early days has come to light - a letter from the US ambassador to Seoul, informing the State Department that American soldiers would shoot refugees approaching their lines.
 
The letter, dated the day of the army's mass killing of South Korean refugees at No Gun Ri in 1950, is the strongest indication yet that such a policy existed for all US forces in Korea, and the first evidence that that policy was known to upper ranks of the US government.
 
"If refugees do appear from north of US lines they will receive warning shots, and if they then persist in advancing they will be shot," wrote the ambassador, John J Muccio, in his message to the Assistant Secretary of State, Dean Rusk.
 
The letter reported on decisions made at a high-level meeting in South Korea on 25 July 1950, the night before the 7th US Cavalry Regiment shot the refugees at No Gun Ri.
 
Estimates vary on the number of dead at No Gun Ri. American soldiers' estimates ranged from under 100 to "hundreds" dead; Korean survivors say about 400, mostly women and children, were killed at the village 100 miles (160km) south-east of Seoul, the South Korean capital. Hundreds more refugees were killed in later, similar episodes, survivors say.
 
The No Gun Ri killings were documented in a Pulitzer Prize-winning story by the Associated Press agency in 1999 that prompted a 16-month inquiry by the Pentagon.
 
The Pentagon concluded that the No Gun Ri shootings, which lasted three days, were "an unfortunate tragedy", not a deliberate killing. It suggested that panicky soldiers, acting without orders, opened fire because they feared that an approaching line of families, baggage and farm animals was concealing enemy troops.

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Energy-Hungry Nations Also Most Wasteful - by Stephen Leahy

BROOKLIN, Canada - China, India and Brazil could cut their rapidly rising energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by more than 25 percent using existing energy efficient technologies.
Despite the potential cost savings, conservative bankers are reluctant to loan money to fund improvements in energy efficiency, an international study said Monday.
 
With a combined population of 2.6 billion people, economic growth rates nearing 10 percent per year and soaring energy use, China, India and Brazil are on track to become the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases.
 
China will overtake the United States as the leading source of climate-altering gases before 2020, said the three-nation report led by the World Bank and the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP), and funded by the U.N. Foundation.
 
"Cutting energy waste is the cheapest, easiest, fastest way to solve many energy problems, improve the environment and enhance both energy security and economic development," said Robert Taylor, an energy specialist at the World Bank who led the study.

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Small Towns Tell a Cautionary Tale About the Private Control of Water - by Tim Reiterman

In San Jerardo, a tidy but poor farmworker cooperative encircled by the black earth of Salinas Valley fields, residents have been drinking bottled water for almost five years because the tap water they buy from a private company is unsafe.
 
Nearby, families in the modest town of Chualar are still smarting over monthly water charges that in some instances ballooned by 1,000% or more.
 
And about 40 miles to the northwest, the Santa Cruz Mountains hamlet of Felton voted last year to tax each household up to $700 a year to take control of the local for-profit water system after the new owner proposed a series of rate increases.
 
These communities are fronts in a statewide battle over the price, quality and reliability of water that investor-owned utilities are supplying to nearly one in five Californians.
 
In the late 19th century, private companies delivered water to most of the state's homes and businesses. Today about 80% of the state's people live in large cities and towns served by publicly owned utilities. About 140 for-profit companies provide water to more than 6 million people, mostly in suburbs and smaller communities.
 
Supporters of government-run water systems point out that they, unlike investor-owned utilities, do not need to pay taxes or produce a profit. But big companies contend that they can operate with less overhead per customer.
 
At the core of the dispute are philosophical differences over whether an indispensable resource should be controlled by private firms.

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100 Years Ago: Upton Sinclair's Notable Leak to 'The NY Times' - By Greg Mitchell

(May 31, 2006) -- In case you are wondering, leaks to The New York Times go way back. One of the most notable in a long history took place almost exactly a century ago, on May 27, 1906. The leaker was no faceless bureaucrat or wrongdoer looking to atone for some personal or governmental sin, but rather, famed novelist/muckraker Upton Sinclair.
 
The result? Nothing less than the first Food and Drug Act and the coming of federal meat inspections. Today's leakers should only do so well.
 
Sinclair, only 28 at the time, had journeyed to Chicago two years earlier to research horrific conditions for workers in the stockyards. In the process he discovered that devil-may-care management also led to dangerous, or just plain disgusting, food on the plates of millions of American consumers. Employees told him how dirt and grime, sawdust, splinters, rat droppings, and even rats routinely ended up in ground meat and sausage. Food handlers with tuberculosis and other diseases were common. There were even tales of workers tumbling into open vats, with only their bones retrieved later. In that case, "you are what you eat" rang frightfully true.
 
Deciding to fictionalize the problem, he wrote The Jungle, which appeared first in serial form in a magazine and later as a book published by Doubleday, Page & Co. in early 1906. It caused a sensation and brought Sinclair worldwide fame, earning him an audience with President Theodore Roosevelt, who promised reform.

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  • Defiant gas dealer battling Big Oil Goliath in protest

     - MISSION COSTING HIM HIS HOME, LIVELIHOOD

    Like many Californians these days, Mehdi Shahbazi rails against Big Oil cartels, price gouging and the pain consumers feel at the pump.
     
    But Shahbazi is different: He's a gasoline dealer on a personal mission.
     
    Shahbazi is also going broke because of a long-running battle with Shell Oil. He just lost his $1 million Carmel condo. The pumps at his beloved gas station in Marina have been fenced off. The beer cooler in his mini-mart is empty because he can't pay suppliers. He's living in his minivan.
     
    To some, Shahbazi is on a quixotic campaign of self-destruction. To others, the Iranian immigrant is a David-like character taking on the Goliath of Big Oil in a battle he believes is crucial for middle-class Americans facing record gas prices.
     
    Eight months ago, with customers still reeling from post-Hurricane Katrina gas prices, Shahbazi set up a 4-by-4-foot wooden sign at his Marina Shell station. The sign read: ``Consumers' pain is Big Oil's unearned profit! To oppose it see cashier.''
     
    Inside the mini-mart, people were handed a flier accusing oil companies of trying to drive franchisee retailers like himself out of business by selling gas for less at company-owned stations. The companies' long-term goal is to control the market and raise prices even higher, according to Shahbazi, who came to the United States in 1966 and has sold gas for 37 years.
     
    Shahbazi's solution: Find out which stations are company-owned and ``stop buying from those stations.''
     
    The personal ramifications of his protest have been enormous, as Shahbazi digs in for the fight of his life.
     
    ``I'm homeless, and Shell knows I'm losing at least $600 a day, so they think I will give up,'' said Shahbazi, 63.
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    FCC plans relaxation of media ownership rules, watchdogs say

    Move to allow more consolidation could come as soon as June 15
     
    The Federal Communications Commission is poised to propose new media ownership rules that will allow media companies to own newspapers, television and radio stations in the same city, according to media watchdog groups.
     
    The proposed rule would dissolve a longstanding policy that prohibited corporations from owning a television station and a daily newspaper in the same market. The "cross ownership" rule, promulgated in 1975, was enacted to ensure media diversity.
     
    Individuals close to the Commission say the FCC will propose relaxing media ownership rules, possibly as soon as June 15 when the Commission next meets, the media watchdog Free Press says.
     
    "All indications are that the next time the FCC meets – now that they have a full commission – we expect to see media ownership come up, and we think it will be the cross ownership rule as well as rules on how many TV stations companies can own in a single market," Free Press spokesman Craig Aaron said.
     
    A third Republican joined the FCC after Senate confirmation Friday. The Commission was deadlocked 2-2 along party lines in recent months and the new commissioner gives Republicans a 3-2 majority. FCC commissioners and the Commission's media office did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
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    Banks Honor Bogus Checks and Scam Victims Pay - By Caroline E. Mayer

    Trying to sell his 1968 Mustang online, John Schaefer received what appeared to be a firm offer from an overseas classic-car dealer. The buyer sent Schaefer a check for $14,000 even though Schaefer was asking only $8,000. The buyer said the extra money was to cover shipping and directed Schaefer to wire him the difference.
     
    "It seemed kind of funny, and I had some hesitation," said Schaefer, who deposited the check in his bank's ATM over the weekend. On Monday, he asked a teller to see if the check was good. She left her perch, went to the backroom and returned assuring him "there was no problem," Schaefer recalled.
     
    On Wednesday, "still not feeling quite right," Schaefer asked the same teller to make sure the check was good. That time, the teller told him the check had been cleared and he was "all set." Schaefer withdrew $5,000 and wired the money to the buyer.
     
    Four days later, as he reviewed his account online, he discovered the check was not good. Even worse, the bank was demanding that he repay the $5,000.
     
    "Had I made the deposit and not tried to make sure it was legitimate, I should have full obligation to make good on it," said Schaefer, 34, a facilities manager in Brattleboro, Vt. "But I checked with the bank twice, and now I find out they have no accountability."
     
    Schaefer is one of thousands of consumers who have been victimized by an increasingly common check scam that relies on the vagaries of the banking system to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers.
     
    Federal rules require banks to release funds from a consumer's deposit quickly, usually within one to five business days, depending on the kind of check. However, it can take weeks before a bank discovers a check is fraudulent.
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    WTC responders illness worse than expected - BY RIDGELY OCHS

    Doctors who treat World Trade Center responders say they are surprised almost five years later by the growing number seeking help for the first time -- 100 people a month in the biggest monitoring program -- and by the severity of illnesses among Sept. 11 workers already in treatment.
     
    "There's no question there's continuing demand and many in the treatment program are quite ill," said Dr. Robin Herbert, codirector of the World Trade Center Worker and Volunteer Medical Screening Program at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan.
     
    Herbert, whose program has examined about 15,000 responders since 2002, said doctors are finding "remarkable persistence" in breathing disorders such as chronic sinusitis and asthma, stomach ailments such as gastrointestinal reflux disease and psychological problems such as post traumatic stress disorder -- a suite of maladies one survivor called "my 9/11 plague."
     
    Some patients also have come in with severe lung scarring, which can be fatal. And there have been cases of cancer, which worries experts, though they are unwilling to directly attribute them to exposure to Ground Zero toxins.
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    The Four Fundamentalisms and the Threat to Sustainable Democracy - by Robert Jensen

    The most important words anyone said to me in the weeks immediately after September 11, 2001, came from my friend James Koplin. While acknowledging the significance of that day, he said, simply: 'I was in a profound state of grief about the world before 9/11, and nothing that happened on that day has significantly changed what the world looks like to me.'
     
    Because Jim is a bit older and considerably smarter than I, it took me some time to catch up to him, but eventually I recognized his insight. He was warning me that even we lefties -- trained to keep an eye on systems and structures of power rather than obsessing about individual politicians and single events -- were missing the point if we accepted the conventional wisdom that 9/11 'changed everything,' as the saying went then. He was right, and today I want to talk about four fundamentalisms loose in the world and the long-term crisis to which they point.
     
    Before we head there, a note on the short-term crisis: I have been involved in U.S. organizing against the so-called 'war on terror,' which has provided cover for the attempts to expand and deepen U.S. control over the strategically crucial resources of Central Asia and the Middle East, part of a global strategy that the Bush administration openly acknowledges is aimed at unchallengeable U.S domination of the world. For U.S. planners, that 'world' includes not only the land and seas -- and, of course, the resources beneath them -- but space above as well. It is our world to arrange and dispose of as they see fit, in support of our 'blessed lifestyle.' Other nations can have a place in that world as long as they are willing to assume the role that the United States determines appropriate. The vision of U.S. policymakers is of a world very ordered, by them.
     
    This description of U.S. policy is no caricature. Anyone who doubts my summary can simply read the National Security Strategy document released in 2002 http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/nss/2002/ and the 2006 update http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/nss/2006/, and review post-World War II U.S. history http://www.zmag.org/crisescurevts/interventions.htm. Read and review, but only if you don't mind waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat of fear. But as scary as these paranoid, power-mad policymakers' delusions may be, Jim was talking about a feeling beyond that fear -- a grief that is much broader and goes much deeper.
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    the Battle Cry of G.I. Jesus

    By DEBRA SCHAFFER HUBERT
     
    "I would execute gays only if we catch them indulging in sodomy," Gary DeMar, popular Christian evangelical minister is quoted in the December, 2005 issue of Mother Jones. DeMar, who casually condemns millions, envisions sinners in line for the death penalty. [1]

    Capital Punishment for Sinners
     
    Gary DeMar stated he'd execute gays only if they were caught indulging in sodomy, but others envision sinners in line for the death penalty would include women who commit adultery or lie about their virginity, blasphemers, witches, children who strike their parents, and gay men. Thus, DeMar is considered somewhat of a liberal in this extreme authoritarian movement.
     
    Gary DeMar is not a fringe Christian. He is in the same realm with Mainstream Extremist Christian leaders such as Televangelist Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. DeMar is leader of the Restore America Rally, head of American Vision and one of the most prolific publishers of the movement.
     
    Katherine Yurika writes in The YurikaReport.com "The Despoiling of America"[2] "As Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court explains, the Bible teaches and Christians believe '...that Government.....derives its moral authority from God. Government is the 'minister of God' with powers to 'revenge,' to 'execute wrath,' including even wrath by the sword...'"
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    Canada Pays Environmentally for U.S. Oil Thirst

    FORT MCMURRAY, Alberta -- Huge mines here turning tarry sand into cash for Canada and oil for the United States are taking an unexpectedly high environmental toll, sucking water from rivers and natural gas from wells and producing large amounts of gases linked to global warming.

    The digging -- into an area the size of Maryland and Virginia combined -- has proliferated at gold-rush speed, spurred by high oil prices, new technology and an unquenched U.S. thirst for the fuel. The expansion has presented ecological problems that experts thought they would have decades to resolve.

    Major companies -- faced with tougher prospects for developing big new oil fields around the world -- are doing what was once unthinkable: sinking billions of dollars into projects to wring oil out of deposits of petroleum buried amid sand and clay.

    "The river used to be blue. Now it's brown. Nobody can fish or drink from it. The air is bad. This has all happened so fast," said Elsie Fabian, 63, an elder in a native Indian community along the Athabasca River, a wide, meandering waterway once plied by fur traders. "It's terrible. We're surrounded by the mines."

    From her home on the bluff of the river, she can see billowing steam rising from a vast strip mine 10 miles away. There, almost 200 feet below what was once a forest, giant machines cleave the earth into a cratered moonscape. Immense shovels plunge into the ground, wresting out massive chunks. Trucks the size of houses prowl the pit. They deliver the black soil to clanking conveyers and vats that steam the tar from the sand.
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    Wednesday, May 31, 2006

    Tyranny of the Christian Right - By Michelle Goldberg

    Posted on May 30, 2006, Printed on May 31, 2006
    http://www.alternet.org/story/36640/
     
    Whenever I talk about the growing power of the evangelical right with friends, they always ask the same question: What can we do? Usually I reply with a joke: Keep a bag packed and your passport current.
     
    I don't really mean it, but my anxiety is genuine. It's one thing to have a government that shows contempt for civil liberties; America has survived such men before. It's quite another to have a mass movement -- the largest and most powerful mass movement in the nation -- rise up in opposition to the rights of its fellow citizens. The Constitution protects minorities, but that protection is not absolute; with a sufficiently sympathetic or apathetic majority, a tightly organized faction can get around it.
     
    The mass movement I've described aims to supplant Enlightenment rationalism with what it calls the "Christian worldview." The phrase is based on the conviction that true Christianity must govern every aspect of public and private life, and that all -- government, science, history and culture -- must be understood according to the dictates of scripture. There are biblically correct positions on every issue, from gay marriage to income tax rates, and only those with the right worldview can discern them. This is Christianity as a total ideology -- I call it Christian nationalism. It's an ideology adhered to by millions of Americans, some of whom are very powerful. It's what drives a great many of the fights over religion, science, sex and pluralism now dividing communities all over the country.
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    Reform the System or Lose the Democracy - by Molly Ivins

    A Houston jury convicted both Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling, despite the fact that Kenny Boy packed his Bible to the courtroom every day.
     
    Since it is a long and noble Texas tradition for the accused to fight all allegations by finding Jesus, this indicates a major degree of guilt. (While on trial for murder, T. Cullen Davis, the Fort Worth millionaire, not only found Jesus but also threw a big party to celebrate at the mansion, with piles of shrimp and BBQ and a soundtrack that announced over and over throughout the grounds that night, “The son of Stinky Davis has found the son of God.")
     
    Meanwhile, Houston reacted as though the Rockets had won the NBA championship.
     
    Many a thoughtful analyst has given us to understand that Lay and Skilling are guilty of arrogance and hubris. Actually, they were convicted of fraud—massive, overwhelming and monstrous fraud. They also stole money and looted pension funds. They rigged energy markets and almost drove California (seventh-largest economy in the world) into bankruptcy.
     
    And all along the way, this monstrous fraud was connected to government. Enron bought the politicians who bent the rules that let them steal, con and gyp. Lay and Skilling talked state after state into following the California model and deregulating electricity. Happy summer, everyone.
     
    And then, of course, there was the thumbing-the-nose thievery, the offshore partnerships tricked out with the clever names so insiders would know how slick they were.
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    President's Con-Game Conservatism -by Bill Gallagher

    I have long argued that President George W. Bush and his greedy and arrogant gang are not conservatives. Sure, they like to call themselves that and see political advantage in using the label. But the truth is, the Busheviks' only real ideology is gaining and keeping power to protect and enhance their wealth.
     
    They repeatedly reject traditional conservative principles and beliefs to pursue the narrowest of interests at the expense of the common good. They routinely assault the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights.
     
    Bush claims more executive authority than any other president in our history and treats the separation of powers as a quaint theory no longer practical in 21st-century America. He often rules by fiat and says he can defy acts of Congress. Bush claims some decisions he makes and actions he takes are not subject to judicial review.
     
    Bush's spending is out of control and he's made the nation's fiscal health a basket case. He finances tax cuts with debt, weakens the dollar and drives up interest rates. With the prescription drug benefit, he created the largest new federal entitlement program since Medicaid. Bush has used tariffs on steel and lumber products to protect select industries and drive up the prices consumers pay for basic products. The benefiting industries were in states with key electoral votes.
     
    Bush continues to shamelessly support price supports and agriculture subsidies, which simply add to everyone's grocery bill, while benefiting a handful. How about a little free-market conservatism there?
     
    He brought us a tragic and failed foreign entanglement that fosters terrorism, weakens our military and threatens our national security. How can that record possibly be called conservative?
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    Why Bush Needs to Spin the War - By David Corn, AlterNet

    Posted on November 9, 2001, Printed on May 31, 2006
    http://www.alternet.org/story/11893/
     
    "Don't worry. You'll be safe. We know how to take care of terrorists here."
     
    So said the chuckling immigration officer at Port of Spain the other day. I had been dispatched to Trinidad by the U.S. State Department to conduct a two-day seminar on investigative reporting for local journalists (your tax dollars at work!), and the first Trini I encountered could not resist needling the Americans.
     
    The next day, amid talk of the Freedom of Information Act, finding sources, and Internet-assisted-reporting, one of the fifteen island journalists asked me and my colleague, Bonnie Goldstein, a former investigative producer for ABC News, what we thought of the U.S. media's coverage of the September 11 attacks. Before we could respond, several participants volunteered their opinions.
     
    "The first day was fine, then it was too much, too much."
     
    "Hysterical."
     
    "It was, 'oh, poor, poor us.'"
     
    "Like the United States was the only country ever to be hit by terrorism."
     
    "Self-pity, plenty of self-pity."
     
    A consensus formed: a self-indulgent America was excessively obsessed with its own suffering.
     
    And this was coming from our friends -- reporters who live in a city overflowing with KFC restaurants and who had, on their own accord, come to the information office of the U.S. embassy desperately seeking pointers from American journalists. They were not insensitive to the horror of September 11, but neither were they overly sympathetic to America's pain and fear or deferential to U.S. concerns.
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    Congress Balks at Pentagon 'War on Terror' Missile -by Julian Borger

    · Senators fear using rocket could spark nuclear war
    · Risk that warhead could be mistaken for nuke
     
    Congress has stalled Pentagon plans to put conventional warheads on inter-continental missiles for use in Washington's "war on terror", out of concern that they could trigger a nuclear war.
     
    The defence department is seeking $127m (£68m) for the conversion of submarine-based missiles as part of its Global Strike project, aimed at giving Washington the option of acting fast, pre-emptively and from great distances against targets that might threaten the US.
     
    The goal would be to destroy a fleeting target, such as a weapon being assembled or a meeting of terrorist leaders, anywhere in the world within an hour of intelligence reaching the US of their location.
     
    But Congress has held back $32m of the funds until the secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld, and the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, present a plan to eliminate the risk that other countries mistake the launch of the Trident D-5 missile for a nuclear attack and respond.
     
    "There is great concern this could be destabilising in terms of deterrence and nuclear policy," Jack Reed, a Democrat on the senate armed services committee, told the New York Times. "It would be hard to determine if a missile coming out of a Trident submarine is conventional or nuclear."
     
    "It's a valid concern - you never want someone to think you're launching a nuke when you're not," Colonel Richard Patenaude, a deterrence and air strike strategist told Inside the Air Force, a defence newsletter. "But I think it's a manageable problem, and a lot of others do too."
     
    Pentagon planners are confident a system can be worked out with other nuclear powers to reassure them that a Trident launch is conventional and not aimed at them. In 2000 the US and Russia agreed to establish a joint data exchange centre to share information about ballistic missile launches.
     
    The head of the US Strategic Command, General James Cartwright, who has oversight over the nuclear and non-nuclear elements of Global Strike, said the US informed China of any test launches.
     
    "We don't have a treaty, but we tell them so that they know," Gen Cartwright recently told Japanese journalists. He said he hoped China and other nations would join the US-Russian data exchange centre.
     
    The Global Strike programme was part of the US Nuclear Posture Review, submitted by the Pentagon at the end of 2001, which recommended the restructuring of US strategic defences away from its cold war arsenal towards smaller weapons, nuclear and non-nuclear, which could be used against terrorists or rogue states believed to be planning an attack using weapons of mass destruction.
     
    The review has been criticised for blurring the line between nuclear and conventional weapons, and Congress has blocked Pentagon plans to build a new generation of nuclear bunker-busters and "mini-nukes". Critics also question whether a US president could be so sure of intelligence to order the launch of a long-range ballistic missile.
     
    Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006
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    The Tempest - By Joel Achenbach

    As evidence mounts that humans are causing dangerous changes in Earth's climate, a handful of skeptics are providing some serious blowback
     
    IT SHOULD BE GLORIOUS TO BE BILL GRAY, professor emeritus. He is often called the World's Most Famous Hurricane Expert. He's the guy who, every year, predicts the number of hurricanes that will form during the coming tropical storm season. He works on a country road leading into the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, in the atmospheric science department of Colorado State University. He's mentored dozens of scientists. By rights, Bill Gray should be in deep clover, enjoying retirement, pausing only to collect the occasional lifetime achievement award.
     
    He's a towering figure in his profession and in person. He's 6 feet 5 inches tall, handsome, with blue eyes and white hair combed straight back. He's still lanky, like the baseball player he used to be back at Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington in the 1940s. When he wears a suit, a dark shirt and tinted sunglasses, you can imagine him as a casino owner or a Hollywood mogul. In a room jammed with scientists, you'd probably notice him first.
     
    He's loud. His laugh is gale force. His personality threatens to spill into the hallway and onto the chaparral. He can be very charming.
     
    But he's also angry. He's outraged.
     
    He recently had a public shouting match with one of his former students. It went on for 45 minutes.
     
    He was supposed to debate another scientist at a weather conference, but the organizer found him to be too obstreperous, and disinvited him.
     
    Much of his government funding has dried up. He has had to put his own money, more than $100,000, into keeping his research going. He feels intellectually abandoned. If none of his colleagues comes to his funeral, he says, that'll be evidence that he had the courage to say what they were afraid to admit.
     
    Which is this: Global warming is a hoax.
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    Tuesday, May 30, 2006

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    Daily Kos: Requiem for a Nightmare [- CHICKENHAWKS!]

    Tomorrow [Monday the 29th -ed.] is the day we honor the fallen American heroes of so many wars. To avoid staining our national day of mourning, I felt it more appropriate to dedicate this post at this time to a very different kind of American. They may be clueless neocons, erroneous White House talking heads, or smear artists and their self-appointed town criers. But what they all have in common is that each one bravely ducked when called and later took part directly or indirectly in assaulting the reputation of those who stood in harm's way. They are known, affectionately, as Chicken-hawks:
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    Political Amnesia Is the Enemy

    We all know, all of us in America anyway, that Memorial Day weekend marks the start of summer. It's about the downtime ahead, the vacation that's coming, the shutting down of the serious in anticipation of fun in the sun.
     
    Officially, it is also about honoring the dead, and there will be parades by veterans and flags flying on TV newscasts. Most of it is set in the present with little referencing of the past or memory itself.
     
    Memories work on us on every level, especially when they slip out of mind. A memory exhibit at San Francisco's Exploratorium museum touches on the usual: "You get to school and realize you forgot your lunch at home. You take a test, and you can't remember half the answers. You see the new kid who just joined your class, and you can't remember his name. Some days, it seems like your brain is taking a holiday -- you can't remember anything!"
     
    But memories are not just individual properties. Societies have memories, or should. And our news world and information technologies could or should have the capacity to keep us in touch with our collective memory, our recent history, the only context in which new facts find meaning.
     
    I like to joke about my own "senior moments," but cultures have them too -- and often, not always by accident. In our culture, it is often by design. The frequent references we hear to "political amnesia" is not just commentary but an allusion to a social pathology, a deliberate process of actually disconnecting us from our past and history.
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    At Least 1,000 British Troops 'Desert' Since Iraq War, BBC Reports

    At least 1,000 troops have deserted the armed forces since the US-led war was launched in Iraq three years ago, the BBC reported. Britain's defence ministry said however it knew of only "a handful of deserters since 1989".
    During 2005 alone, 377 people deserted and are still missing, the British Broadcasting Corporation said on its website, adding that so far this year another 189 are on the run. Without explaining how it arrived at the figures, it said some 900 deserters have evaded capture since the Iraq war started in March 2003. Lawmaker John McDonnell told parliament on Monday that the "number of abscondees has trebled since the invasion of Iraq" as he registerd opposition to a government bill to sentence deserters to a maximum of life in prison.
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    Did Bush's "Bring it On" Bravado Bring On the Haditha Massacre - by Tom Turnipseed

    In a rather subdued effort to rally support for their war of choice as questions arise about their continued tenures in office, a somewhat contrite and stammering President George W. Bush and his war weary, but ever slick talking side-kick, Prime Minister Tony Blair held a joint White House press conference Thursday evening. Due to the increasingly virulent insurgency that has turned their Iraq War game into a costly debacle, their once cocky cheer-leadership is now critically challenged by a credibility crunch with the voters of the U.S. and the U.K.
     
    When asked if they had made any mistakes in the Iraq War, Bush twisted his head, stretched his neck and looked up and away from the eyes of the press corps who have heard so many previous denials of responsibility for his costly miscalculations. Then our self-described, God directed, great decider actually admitted that he had acted like a "cowboy" when he laid down the gauntlet to Iraq insurgents in 2003 to "bring it on". He added it was also a mistake for him to have repeatedly railed that he wanted to get Osama bin Laden "dead or alive". Commenting on the prisoner torture scandal at Abu Ghraib, Bush said it was, “the biggest mistake that’s happened so far, at least from our country’s involvement in Iraq.” Bush said "I learned some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner", and it was "kind of tough talk, you know, that sent the wrong signal to people."
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    Tom Tomorrow

    ABC News: Cow Manure Could Be Cheap Alternative to Gas

    The Vehicle Research Institute of Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash., has been turning cow manure into fuel that can power a natural-gas car. Researchers are not shoveling manure straight into the gas tank but pumping the methane — a gas created by the manure — into the car.

    They have some hard-working cows at a dairy farm in Lyndon, Wash., to thank for this experiment, which could mean cheaper car fuel for many people.
     
    "We are talking about dairy cows," said Eric Leonhardt, an engineering technology professor and director of the Vehicle Research Institute. "So they are very well-trained. They go in one spot. They feed and do their business in one location. And then that material is pumped into a holding tank."
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    Monday, May 29, 2006

    Ted Nugent: Off his rocker?

    IOKIYAR - Freepers and Lizards declaim the likes of Alec Baldwin, Natalie Maines, Barbara Streisand 'nuts' for their determination to speak out on political issues. "Whaa whaa! They got no right to speak up, they are just entertainers who should go hide away." Well, if you can pull shit like like The Motor City Madman that puts any activity by the aforementioned 'moonbats' into the same light as angels, "it's ok if you are republican." More hypocrisy from our red-state madmen. --pseudolus

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    He owns 350 guns, wants to nuke Iraq and makes his friend George W look like a liberal. Now 1970s heavy metal star Ted Nugent has his sights set on a new target: entering US politics
    During the private inaugural party at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, in 2000, President George W Bush glanced across the room and recognised a man who - by his own account - has urinated on a nun, soiled his trousers for a week in order to avoid the draft, and been detained on a charge of indecent exposure, after experiencing difficulties with his loincloth in Little Rock, Arkansas. The President confronted him as a matter of urgency.
     
    "When he noticed me," Ted Nugent recalls, "he was surrounded by these huge bankrollers from his campaign. He literally swept past all of them and said: 'Laura! Look who's here! It's Ted!' Then he hugged me and took me by the shoulders. He said: 'Just keep doing what you're doing. Don't think that we don't know what you're up to out here. Stay on course. You're doing great.'"
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    Ok, here's Darryl's great riff on the interview over at the General's...
    CLICK HERE

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    Scholastic Films Intelligent Design - Google Video

    Cheney aide is screening legislation - By Charlie Savage

    Remember, by the Constitution, the V.P.'s only jobs are to preside over the Senate and break any tie votes and to check every morning that the President is still breathing and lucid. Any other jobs are merely appointed to him by his boss. --pseudolus
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    WASHINGTON -- The office of Vice President Dick Cheney routinely reviews pieces of legislation before they reach the president's desk, searching for provisions that Cheney believes would infringe on presidential power, according to former White House and Justice Department officials.
     
    The officials said Cheney's legal adviser and chief of staff, David Addington , is the Bush administration's leading architect of the ``signing statements" the president has appended to more than 750 laws. The statements assert the president's right to ignore the laws because they conflict with his interpretation of the Constitution.
     
    The Bush-Cheney administration has used such statements to claim for itself the option of bypassing a ban on torture, oversight provisions in the USA Patriot Act, and numerous requirements that they provide certain information to Congress, among other laws.
     
    Previous vice presidents have had neither the authority nor the interest in reviewing legislation. But Cheney has used his power over the administration's legal team to promote an expansive theory of presidential authority. Using signing statements, the administration has challenged more laws than all previous administrations combined.
     
    ``Addington could look at whatever he wanted," said one former White House lawyer who helped prepare signing statements and who asked not to be named because he was describing internal deliberations. ``He had a roving commission to get involved in whatever interested him."
     
    Knowing that Addington was likely to review the bills, other White House and Justice Department lawyers began vetting legislation with Addington's and Cheney's views in mind, according to another former lawyer in the Bush White House.
     
    All these lawyers, he said, were extremely careful to flag any provision that placed limits on presidential power.
     
    ``You didn't want to miss something," said the second former White House lawyer, who also asked not to be named.
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