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"No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." - - -
William Blum

April 30, 2005

Hayden on the Occupation


Progressive Activist Tom Hayden sent a message to Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean in response to Howard Dean's essential endorsement of Bush's current policy of occupation in Iraq. The current party leadership continues to ignore the rapidly growing grassroots movement for withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq. Speaking for Progressives, Hayden tries to advise Dean to incorporate the stance of the majority of Democrats now (snippet):

....The anti-war movement must lead and hopefully, the Democratic Party will follow. But there is much the Democratic Party can do:

First, stop marginalizing those Democrats who are calling for immediate withdrawal or a one-year timetable. Encourage pubic hearings in Congressional districts on the ongoing costs of war and occupation, with comparisons to alternative spending priorities for the one billion dollars per week.

Second, call for peace talks between Iraqi political parties and the Iraqi resistance. Hold hearings demand to know why the Bush Administration is trying to squash any such Iraqi peace initiatives. (Bush Administration officials are hoping the new Iraqi government will "settle for a schedule based on the military situation, not the calendar." New York Times, Jan. 19, 2005).

Third, as an incentive to those Iraqi peace initiatives, the US needs to offer to end the occupation and withdraw our troops by a near-term date. The Bush policy, supported by the Democrats, is to train and arm Iraqis to fight Iraqis--a civil war with fewer American casualties.

Fourth, to further promote peace initiatives, the US needs to specify that a multi-billion dollar peace dividend will be earmarked for Iraqi-led reconstruction, not for the Halliburtons and Bechtels, without discrimination as to Iraqi political allegiances.

Fifth, Democrats could unite behind Senator Rockefellers's persistent calls for public hearings on responsibility for the torture scandals. If Republicans refuse to permit such hearings, Democrats should hold them independently. "No taxes for torture" is a demand most Democrats should be able to support. The Democratic Senate unity against the Bolton appointment is a bright but isolated example of how public hearings can keep media and public attention focused on the fabricated reasons for going to war.

Instead of such initiatives, the national Democratic Party is either committed to the Iraq War, or to avoiding blame for losing the Iraq War, at the expense of the social programs for which it historically stands. The Democrats' stance on the war cannot be separated from the Democrats' stance on health care, social security, inner city investment, and education, all programs gradually being defunded by a war which costs $100 billion yearly, billed to future generations....
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April 29, 2005

All Bow to the Wobulator


Hewlett Packard "today announced that it has developed a technology that enables twice the resolution of digital projection displays without increasing the cost of the projector. HP has filed patent applications related to this resolution enhancement technology, code-named "wobulation," and in case you seek an explanation of how it works, here's HP's take:

....In typical digital projection displays, increasing image resolution requires increasing the number of pixels in the spatial light modulator (SLM). This significantly increases the complexity and cost of the SLM and therefore the final product. Because the SLM is usually the most expensive component in a digital projection display, HP's "wobulation" technology is an economical method of increasing the resolution of digital projection displays without changing the SLM.

"Wobulation" technology works by generating multiple sub-frames of data while an optical image shifting mechanism then displaces the projected image of each sub-frame by a non-integral number of pixels. The sub-frames are then projected in rapid succession to appear as if they are being projected simultaneously and superimposed. The resulting image has significantly higher resolution than images produced by conventional digital projection devices.

The resolution enhancement technology is applicable to both front projection and rear projection applications. HP's "wobulation" technology is not dependent on a particular SLM technology and is expected to work with future SLM technologies. HP plans to introduce front projection and rear projection products in 2005 based on the "wobulation" technology....

Kudos to you if you understood that. So next time you invite friends over to watch the game on your brand new HP Projection TV, be sure to let them know that the program will be "wobulated".
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Think Progress has a great analysis of Bush-war's press conference from last night.
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April 28, 2005
"Republicans are just going insane with frustration these days. If they're mad because their candidates are being filibustered, they threaten to change the filibuster rule by fiat. If they don't like what the courts are doing, they threaten to defund the courts. If their candidate for UN ambassador is likely to get voted down in committee, they plan to report him out anyway. If they don't like your amendments to their pet bill, they unilaterally rewrite them in a display of juvenile pique.

I can hardly wait to see what's next. Are we going to have fistfights on the floor of Congress again? Or is the Republican caucus simply going to explode in purple cheeked rage? Stay tuned."
- - - Kevin Drum
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Right Job, Wrong Applicant


This gets more interesting by the hour:

...The White House is toughening-up its support of Bolton, even to the point of anticipating a stalemate or even negative vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Bolton. Lawyers are now considering various mechanisms by which the Senate Foreign Relations Committee might be circumvented to take the nomination directly to the floor of the Senate, this making a mockery of the Committee, its findings, and any vote it might take.

This is incredible. The Bush administration is willing -- it seems -- to gamble everything on behalf of Bolton, even to the point of emasculating the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senators like Richard Lugar, Chuck Hagel, Lincoln Chafee, George Voinovich, and others need to say enough is enough. This is no longer about Bolton being a "loose cannon" or irresponsible manager of intelligence, or an agent in a guerilla war against Secretary of State Colin Powell's diplomacy. This is about an incredible abuse of power not by Bolton, but by the White House.

If it stays on its present course, the White House is saying that not only was Bolton's wide berth of disturbing, reckless behaviors not appropriate, White House officials are celebrating Boltonianism and mimicking it in its treatment of Lugar and his committee.

Because the White House is willing to go to such incredibly perverse lengths on this battle, I think it's increasingly clear that Bolton's opponents can and may just possibly win. The manner and style of White House pressure on its caucus is forcing the Senate to accept the unacceptable.

Dick Cheney's team is canvassing the Republican caucus to see how solid or weak support will be for Bolton in a full Senate vote -- but they are taking the vote before anyone has seen the NSA intercepts.

If Bolton played loose with the nation's most secret secrets and was spying on his superiors and passing on information to others in government, Bolton's behavior may have violated bounds of legality. The Senate will switch in a heart-beat if that is the case, despite any pre-NSA Intercepts ring-kissing operation that Cheney has going on among the Republicans in the Senate chamber....

I wonder what the White House has up its sleeve, because on the surface it's acting suicidal.
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April 27, 2005

Clemons on Bolton


For all Left is Right readers who want to keep up with the John Bolton saga and don't want to spend hours searching for legitimate information, your best bet is to start at The Washington Note, a highly reputable blog by Steve Clemons, who "specializes in U.S. foreign policy matters, with significant experience both in Asia-Pacific and transatlantic policy matters, as well as broad international economic and security affairs". Here's a sample:

Tomorrow the administration will receive a letter co-signed by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar and Ranking Member Joseph Biden requesting that the 10 NSA intercept transcripts requested by John Bolton during his tenure as Under Secretary of State be made available to Senators and cleared senior Committee staff.

This is a very important step because if the administration fails to comply, it is now not only defying Senator Chris Dodd who has been trying to get a response on these transcripts for weeks, it is defiance of Chairman Lugar.

There are two theories as to why the NSA transcripts have not been provided yet. The first is that there are complicated protocols and precedence issues involved with the NSA providing these materials. I do not have evidence just yet of the case, but I have heard that there is in fact a precedent of the NSA providing intercept material to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in another circumstance. These kinds of intercepts are among America's most secret kind of secrets -- and this request for a rather large number of intercepts is significant. There may also be genuine concerns about protecting sources and methods of intelligence collection -- and not having certain kinds of information leak out that could conceivably endanger national security.

The second is that this is a smoke screen that the State Department and Condoleeza Rice and others are manipulating to drag out the process of getting vital information on Bolton's interest in the various U.S. officials named in the transcripts.

Sources tell TWN that the State Department has not signed off on NSA providing the transcripts and that the issue involved is not only resolving the logistics of making the transcripts available -- but also working with State collaboratively so as not to inadvertently harm various diplomatic agendas or people mentioned.

The bottom line is that Dodd and others have worked for a very long time to get into the transcripts -- and the administration has hid behind drag-their-feet protocol matters. NSA also had the audacity to claim that they would provide information only to the Senate Intelligence Committee. I'm sure that as miffed as Senator Lugar was with some Members of his Committee that the Bolton matter was dragged out an extra three weeks, such a response from the NSA and State Department would be equally irritating, if not more.
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For All You "Patriots" with American flags Plastered on Your Gas-Guzzling SUV's:

"There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people for a purpose which is unattainable." - - - Howard Zinn
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Depleted Uranium Rears Its Ugly Head


BAGHDAD, 27 Apr 2005 (IRIN) - Doctors in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, have reported a significant increase in deformities among newborn babies. (click it to read the article)
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Excuse Me


From NDOL:

More than 100 days into this congressional session, and into George W. Bush's second term, a federal government controlled entirely by Republicans is wandering off into a wilderness of political extremism and policy negligence that's becoming alarming to anyone worried about the future of the country.

The House of Representatives, controlled by Republicans as though it were a private country club, is focused on ramming through interest-group favored legislation remote from the real challenges facing America. House GOPers are openly bickering over strategy and tactics with their Senate colleagues and with the White House. Meanwhile, the Senate is on the brink of a nasty and pointless fight over the alleged "right" of the president to get every federal judge he wants, which is likely to paralyze Senate action on its real business for much of the session. And the president himself remains obsessed with barnstorming around the country to promote an ill-defined but fundamentally irresponsible Social Security privatization scheme that is steadily losing support every day he talks about it.

With all due respect to House Speaker Dennis Hastert, House Republicans are now publicly identified to an irreversible degree with the man who has actually led them from the day Newt Gingrich stepped down, Tom DeLay of Texas. DeLay's ethics recidivism and blunt advocacy of the crudest sort of alliances between legislators and lobbyists is bad enough. But his chronic habit of treating any and all criticism as just another front in an apocalyptic partisan, ideological, cultural, and religious war is damaging to our entire political system....

Well, Excuse Me, my right-leaning Democratic Party "leaders", but what's the news here? The Republicans are doing exactly everything they need in order to paralyze the Federal Government as much as possible, by slowing down legislation and confirmations with ridiculous bills and appointments. They've got the Democrats so wound up and scattered trying to respond to all the right-wing malfeasance, nothing is getting done. Which is exactly what the Repubs really want.

In the meantime the Iraq occupation (with it's siphoning of U.S. Treasury $ meant for rebuilding our schools, improving health care, feeding the homeless, rebuilding our deteriorating highways, protecting our shores, helping the homeless, improving the..... well, you get the picture) continues. The slaughter of our youth, indoctrinated into Bush's personal war, continues. The stealing of US taxpayers' $ by the contractors in Iraq continues. The unholy, gluttonous profits getting raked in by petroleum conglomerates at the expense of Americans' falling income continues. And the billion$ if not trillion$ the Department of Defense is handing out to weapons manufacturers for guns, bullets, bombs, tanks, planes etc., continues. Why would anyone who is profiteering from any of this want anything to change?

It's time to stop expending all our energy trying to put out the fires and instead refocus our progressive energies the way everyone else in the world does: Get out into the streets and protest. It worked in the Ukraine, Venezuela, Chile, various African nations, probably will in Mexico... We can no longer afford to keep sitting on our ever-expanding asses, typing into our cloned-like blogs. We need to organize and get out of our houses and start real protesting. NOTHING ELSE WILL STOP THE NEOCON STEAMROLLER.
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Hypocrisy, Right-Wing Style


"The Senate is not a majoritarian institution, like the House of Representatives is. It is a deliberative body, and it's got a number of checks and balances built into our government. The filibuster is one of those checks in which a majority cannot just sheerly force its will, even if they have a majority of votes in some cases. That's why there are things like filibusters, and other things that give minorities in the Senate some power to slow things up, to hold things up, and let things be aired properly."

This is a 1998 quote from Family Research Council senior writer Steven Schwalm. The FRC held an event called "Justice Sunday" this weekend that argued filibustering presidential nominees is an attack on people of faith.
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Your Reading Assignment for This Week


This article, Bush's War on the Press, by Eric Alterman in Nation magazine, is possibly the most important writing so far this year. If you haven't done so, read it. Please.
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April 26, 2005
The Associated Press
Updated: 9:24 p.m. ET April 25, 2005WASHINGTON - In his final word, the CIA’s top weapons inspector in Iraq said Monday that the hunt for weapons of mass destruction has “gone as far as feasible” and has found nothing, closing an investigation into the purported programs of Saddam Hussein that were used to justify the 2003 invasion.

“After more than 18 months, the WMD investigation and debriefing of the WMD-related detainees has been exhausted,” wrote Charles Duelfer, head of the Iraq Survey Group, in an addendum to the final report he issued last fall.

“As matters now stand, the WMD investigation has gone as far as feasible.”

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I'm Still Waiting...

"Many Iraqis can hear me tonight in a translated radio broadcast, and I have a message for them. If we must begin a military campaign, it will be directed against the lawless men who rule your country and not against you. As our coalition takes away their power, we will deliver the food and medicine you need. We will tear down the apparatus of terror and we will help you to build a new Iraq that is prosperous and free. In a free Iraq, there will be no more wars of aggression against your neighbors, no more poison factories, no more executions of dissidents, no more torture chambers and rape rooms. The tyrant will soon be gone. The day of your liberation is near."

- - - George Bush, in speech broadcast March 17, 2003

Sounds great. So, when does all this start? It's been over two years now...
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Is Senator Reid a shrewd Democratic leader, or just really lucky?


Reid outmaneouvers Frist again - from Daily Kos:

So Frist says:

"Reacting to a Democratic offer in the fight over filibusters, Republican leader Bill Frist said Tuesday he isn't interested in any deal that fails to ensure Senate confirmation for all of President Bush's judicial nominees."

Reid just engaged Frist in a game of chicken, and Frist blinked first.
Reid has been extrememly effective in whipping up opposition to the Nuclear Option, garnering strong grass- and netroots support, editorial board support, and popular support (as the latest polls show scant appetitite for ending the filibuster).

But in order to avoid looking like obstructionists, Demcorats had to make efforts to "find a compromise", lest the chattering class get the vapors from such Democratic intransigence.

Had Frist accepted the offers for compromise, Bush would've gotten the majority of his judges through, and Democrats would've gotten -- who knows what. All published compromise offers didn't seem to give our side anything.

So Democrats would've faced a sea of criticism from our own side for snatching defeat out of the hands of victory. Frist and Co. would've finally gotten a procedural victory against Reid (who has run circles around them thus far). And all that good will Reid had built in the netroots over the past four months would've evaporated in one fell swoop.

It was one heck of a gamble, but the Senator from Nevada played his cards right.

Frist painted himself into a corner, having whipped up the forces of wingnuttery into a froth, he could not back down without damaging his White House aspirations for 2008. He's banking on the crazies to get him the nomination.

So Reid got the Democrats to look conciliatory, forcing Frist and his Republicans to look even more inflexible than before.

Damn the guy is good. I'm glad he's on our side.

Fine, the Republicans are looking foolish. So when did that stop them anytime during the past 4+ years? I mean, it's like, jesus, those right-wing nut jobs have absolutely no sense of moral character or ethical value, and yet they just keep steamrolling along, detroying everything they touch. I don't see how embarassing them makes a bit of difference in the outcome.
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Our Expendable Children


Sheila Samples talks about the silence of Americans:

....Of course there's going to be a draft, if for no other reason than George Bush has steadfastly promised there wouldn't be one.

They're coming after our children -- sweeping them all up -- bullying them at schools, stalking them, offering them big bucks to join the military. And there's no one to stop them. Servile Americans, even those who can still see, feel helpless. When faced with the decision to stand up and speak up, or give up their children, they are bombarded from all sides with strident demands for patriotism so, like their counterparts of empirical Rome, Americans await their fate -- their children's fate -- in silent despair.

There is nowhere to hide -- no one to turn to. The mainstream media has dropped all pretense of objectivity and has become a worthless tool of the state. The media's once envied "public service" to the people has become little more than applauding each new atrocity of this warmongering administration in the hopes of earning a share of the spoils. Vigilant no longer, the watchdog media has become, in the words of Czech novelist Milan Kundera, "a parade of people marching by with raised fists . . . shouting identical syllables in unison."

We can forget the Congress suddenly realizing it has a Constitutional mandate for oversight and restraint. Ain't gonna happen. The elected members of both parties are far too busy struggling under the weight of their own corruption to worry about the relentless dismantling of the republic or the worldwide chaos their lack of attention is causing. There's no indication that the injury, maiming or death of thousands of US servicemembers, or as Henry Kissenger describes them, "dumb, stupid animals" will appear on their radar as long as the media can prevent it from appearing on ours. They're not only cold, they're evil. Rotten to the core. Rotten from the core -- on in...

On February 8, President George Bush proudly bragged to Tim Russert on Meet the Press, "I'm a war president. I make decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign policy matters with war on my mind."

Do you hear that, moms and dads? If your president's juvenile, paranoid announcement doesn't cross your minds whenever you're loading up your sons and daughters and sending them off to Iraq -- perhaps it will as you unload their flag-draped coffins at your cemeteries when they return home...

Many foolishly believed Bush's signature legislation, the No Child Left Behind Act, meant that all children in this country -- all children -- would have equal opportunity for education. However, it didn't take long for those paying attention to realize that, as with anything Bush tells us, the opposite is true. The No Child Left Behind Act is little more than an increasingly harsh and punitive testing apparatus, the funding of which has been pushed off on states in a Catch-22 requirement -- either fund the program and meet the testing standards or face sanctions and, ultimately, closure.

Other than underfunding it, putting sanctions on schools, and wreaking havoc throughout the public school system, Bush has mostly ignored the Act's provisions -- with one exception. Buried deep within its 670 pages is a requirement that secondary school officials must provide provide contact information for every student as well as allow military recruiters unlimited access to their facilities, or lose federal aid. From the various sites these uniformed child abusers are setting up shop, primarily in minority neighborhoods and lower socio-economic areas, it's obvious whose children are being targeted. If Bush succeeds, none of them will be left behind....

She also reminds us about the ongoing tragedy of Depleted Uranium:

....There is no excuse for not knowing the consequences of DU. Scores of reports have been written based on studies and investigations conducted since 1991. Physicians, physicists, scientists, researchers, and even some media -- mostly foreign -- continue to sound the alarm. We are witnesses to the most egregious war crimes in the history of the world, orchestrated by three mass murderers, yet we continue to play a deadly game of "Kings-X" with the Pentagon and the media, primarily cable outlets CNN and Fox News. Until this axis of corruption admits that DU is a death sentence to all who come in contact with it -- a crime against both God and man -- apparently we are not "allowed" to speak out. Wouldn't be prudent...

The term, "Depleted Uranium," sounds innocuous, even weak. Actually, DU is radioactive waste left over from manufacturing nuclear fuel and bombs. It is anything but "weak." DU is 1.7 times heavier than lead and boasts a half-life of 4-1/2 billion years. It never goes away. The US has more than 10 million tons of DU -- an abundant nuclear-waste product which is given free to weapons manufacturers who make a tidy profit on their genocidal bullets and bombs.

In a March 9 report, Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, former Chief of the Naval Staff, India, writes, "DU burns intensely and is very hard. It releases Uranium Oxide. The aerosol contains particles of 0.5-5 microns in size, once they are in the air or dust they are inhaled or ingested, including from contaminated soil. Once in the lungs one such particle is equivalent to having one X-Ray per hour, for life. (emphasis added) Because it is impossible to remove, the victim is gradually irradiated. Still births, birth defects, leukemia, damaged central nervous systems and other cancers have been common in children born since 1991."

Getting the attention of the American people is, for the most part, a futile exercise -- like screaming into the wind. One wonders how many birth defects, such as babies born with no internal organs, fused organs, no brains, no eyes in empty sockets, will it take before Americans join their international counterparts and cry, "Enough!" When will we realize we are the terrorists, and our *weapon of mass destruction is Depleted Uranium?

No one has screamed louder or longer than Dr. Doug Rokke, former Major and health physicist for the US Army. Rokke, the Army's nuclear expert, was sent to Iraq after Gulf War I to salvage tanks contaminated by DU. He admits he went into the project "with the total intent to ensure they could use uranium munitions in war," but says what he and his team of 100 found there cost one-third of them their lives, cost Rokke his job because he refused to remain silent about his discovery, and continues to wreak havoc with the team's health, the health of millions of civilians in the Gulf, and the health of hundreds of thousands of Gulf War I, and now Gulf War II, veterans.

"We can't do it," Rokke says fervently. "We can't keep sending our citizens into that toxic mess. It's a crime against God. It's a crime against humanity to use uranium munitions in a war, and it's devastating to ignore the consequences..."

Rokke's conclusion is that DU must be banned from the planet, for eternity, and medical care be provided for everyone, not just the US or the Canadians or the British or the Germans or the French but for citizens from Afghanistan and Iraq to Kosovo and Okinawa to Maryland and Indiana, and other US states where DU munitions are tested.

For Americans to remain silent as Bush hands down death sentences for their children and their unborn grandchildren is a war crime in itself. Arthur Bernklau, executive director of Veterans for Constitutional Law in New York cites a study done by eminent scientist Leuren Moret which names DU as the definitive cause of Gulf War Syndrome. Bernklau says of the 580,400 US Gulf War I soldiers, 11,000 are now dead. By the year 2000, when Bush and his draft-dodging warmongers were already planning Gulf War II, there were 325,000 military personnel on permanent medical disability. Currently, more than half of those who served in Gulf War I have pemanent medical problems.

This scandal is threatening to erupt, even as US officials continue to deny there are any long-lasting effects from DU radiation. Bernklau believes the Moret study may be the reason behind Veterans Administration Secretary Anthony Principi's recent and sudden departure. Bernklau says Principi was "aware that DU was causing illness and death as far back as 2000. He and the Bush administration has (sic) been hiding these facts, but now, thanks to Moret's report, is far too big to hide or to cover up."

Moret works tirelessly on the issue of depleted uranium and its effects upon the planet and its inhabitants, especially children. She wrote the Forword to Discounted Casualties:The Human Cost of Depleted Uranium, by Hiroshima journalist Akira Tashiro. The book can be read online, and should be required reading for all Americans, especially those who still possess half sense and one eye.

Moret says the use of DU by the United States defies all international treaties, and will slowly annihilate all species on earth, including the human species. She describes DU as "the Trojan Horse" of nuclear war -- the weapon that keeps on killing for billions of years." There's no way to turn DU off. There's no way to clean it up.....

It's such a pity for mankind that we still talk about it, with distinction and emotion, and yet we do absolutely nothing about it. We are ALL accomplices in this evil.
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April 25, 2005

Use it or lose it


LiberalOasis makes a good point about the latest compromise suggested by some Democratic Senators (approving some of the judicial nominees in return for keeping the filibuster, hence preventing the implementation of the Republicans' "nuclear option"):

But, is the real deep conviction just about having the filibuster, so you can say you have it?

If you suddenly let radical right nominees go through, in order to “save” the filibuster, you have signaled that you are happy to junk principle in order to protect your own personal procedural powers.

We are standing with Democrats to save the filibuster so it can be used on behalf of the public interest.

If you’re not going to use it here, to block the craziest of the crazy, what’s the point in having it?

Indeed! What's the point?!
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Popularity of Hybrids is Picking Up Steam


Hybrid Car Sales Soar in U.S. in 2004

Apr 25, 7:30 AM EDT - By DEE-ANN DURBIN, Associated Press Writer

DETROIT (AP) -- The lure of the Toyota Prius and other hybrid cars helped drive healthy sales of electric and alternative-powered vehicles last year, according to new data that shows the hybrid market has grown by 960 percent since 2000. New hybrid vehicle registrations totaled 83,153 in 2004, an 81 percent increase over the year before, according to data released Monday by R.L. Polk & Co., a Southfield-based firm that collects and interprets automotive data.

Even though hybrids still represent less than 1 percent of the 17 million new vehicles sold in 2004, major automakers are planning to introduce about a dozen new hybrids during the next three years.

Lonnie Miller, director of analytical solutions for Polk, said federal and state tax credits for fuel-efficient vehicles have helped spur hybrid sales. More people also are buying into the idea that driving a hybrid is socially responsible. "What's different about this than other types of vehicles is that hybrids are about what people want to give back and what they want to feel they're doing with their vehicles," Miller said.

Despite the arrival of Ford Motor Co.'s Ford Escape hybrid in showrooms last year, Japanese automakers continued to control the vast majority of the U.S. market, Polk said. Japanese brands accounted for more than 96 percent of the hybrid vehicles registered.

Toyota Motor Corp., which was the first automaker to commercially mass-produce and sell hybrid cars, continues to dominate the market. The Toyota Prius, which went on sale in the United States in 2000, occupied 64 percent of the U.S. hybrid market last year, with 53,761 new Prius cars registered, Polk said.

Toyota is on track to double Prius sales again this year. The company sold 22,880 Prius cars in the first three months of the year, more than double the number it sold in the first three months of 2004, according to Autodata Corp. Toyota has said it plans to produce 100,000 Prius cars for the North American market this year.

The Honda Civic hybrid was second with 31 percent market share. Honda Motor Co. also sold several hundred Accord and Insight hybrids, which each commanded 1 percent of the market. Ford sold 2,566 Escape hybrid sport utility vehicles, or about 3 percent of the market, Polk said.

Automakers are introducing hybrid versions of several models this year, including the Lexus RX400h, Mercury Mariner and Toyota Highlander SUVs. General Motors Corp. and DaimlerChrysler AG already sell hybrid pickups, but the system they use is less fuel efficient.

Hybrid vehicles are powered by internal combustion engines but also are equipped with batteries that are recharged while driving and an electric motor to assist with power. They typically cost $3,000 to $4,000 more than traditional models.

Miller said hybrids could make up 30 to 35 percent of the U.S. market by 2015 as long as automakers remain committed to producing them and market to people who are passionate about driving them. While some analysts believe there's a limit to the number of consumers who will pay more for a hybrid, Miller said the cost of hybrids eventually will come down. "Some people are thinking there's absolutely no reason that all vehicles shouldn't be hybrid. The technology is there," Miller said.

Polk said California was once again the top state for growth in hybrid vehicle registrations. More than 25,000 new hybrids were registered in California, a 102 percent increase over 2003. Virginia, Washington, Florida and Maryland rounded out the top five states for hybrid registrations, the same as in 2003.

As I've noted recently, my 2002 Prius has over 50K miles now and the only non-routine maintenance cost so far was replacing the tires. Best purchase decision of my life.
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"Purple Hearts"


Dutch Documentary filmmaker Roel van Broekhoven recounts the stories, through interviews, of several U.S. soldiers who received purple hearts from service in Iraq in this sobering film (realplayer req.; Dutch subtitles)

Since we're on the subject of videos, here is the Stop John Bolton commercial making the rounds.

One more.... Here is Senator Frist's speech on "Justice Sunday," the Family Research Council's telecast to rally support for the nuclear option. (Page is text of speech, so click "video clip" to view the speech.)
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"You're not to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it." - - - Malcolm X
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April 24, 2005

What? No more Campbell Soup or Greeting Cards?


Buy Blue has ranked companies based on what percent of their political contributions went to Democratic vs. Republican candidates. The greater the percent going to Republicans, the lower the rating. Here is a current listing of the companies in the lowest 20%:

Ace Hardware Corporation 0%
Best Buy Co., Inc. 0%
California Pizza Kitchen, Inc. 0%
Cintas Corporation 0%
CSS Industries, Inc. 0%
Dollar General Corporation 0%
Domino's Pizza, Inc. 0%
Fruit of the Loom 0%
Kohl's Corporation 0%
Lowe's Companies, Inc. 0%
Nordstrom, Inc. 0%
PETsMART, Inc. 0%
Russell Stover Candies Inc. 0%
Pier 1 Imports, Inc. 1%
Raley's Inc. 1%
Outback Steakhouse, Inc. 2%
Kelly Services, Inc. 3%
Williams-Sonoma, Inc 3%
CBRL Group, Inc. 4%
McDonald's Corporation 4%
Geico 5%
Hershey Foods Corporation 5%
Urban Outfitters, Inc. 6%
Wendy's International, Inc. 6%
Darden Restaurants, Inc. 9%
Circuit City Stores, Inc. 10%
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, The 11%
Saks Incorporated 11%
Dell Inc. 12%
J. C. Penney Company, Inc. 12%
Kroger Co. 12%
Office Depot, Inc. 12%
OfficeMax Incorporated 12%
Publix Super Markets, Inc. 12%
Zale Corporation 12%
Ahold USA, Inc. 13%
Hallmark Cards, Inc. 14%
American Greetings Corporation 15%
Oracle Corporation 15%
Brinker International, Inc. 16%
EarthLink, Inc. 16%
Helzberg Diamonds 16%
Limited Brands, Inc. 16%
Molson Coors Brewing Company 16%
Staples, Inc. 16%
USAA 16%
Marriott International, Inc. 17%
Shell Oil Company 17%
Target Corporation 17%
Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. 17%
Home Depot, Inc. 18%
Southwest Airlines Co. 18%
Campbell Soup Company 20%

This really sucks because most of the office-supply, clothing and electronics stores available in this part of L.A. are in this range. Being a political activist is, as George Bush says, hard... really really hard.
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Why wait for shutdown?


Democratic Senators are threatening to bring the Senate to a standstill if the Republicans force the end of filibusters against judicial nominations. This "nuclear option", a phrase coined by Republicans, would give the Republicans nearly complete control of legislation in Washington.

Considering the legislation that Republican-controlled Washington has passed during the last four years, I don't understand why the Democrats haven't already tried to bring the Senate to a standstill. I mean, name one piece of legislation that has benefited anyone other than corporations and fundagelical groups.
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I don't get very many repeat trolls visiting Left is Right. But once in a while I get one that can actually piece together nearly complete sentences (although his grammar screams for attention). Here's one, Jay Shaver, who left the following comment at a recent post:

"How do you sleep at night Mike knowing that your pacifist inaction directly results in innocent people all over the world fighting for survival from tyrants, dictators, and blood thirsty bands of thugs killing in the name of Allah. That type of murder though is OK with you and your final comment is so fucking typical of you liberal morons is unbelievalbe. You people are the biggest hypocrites of all time. When you can't win on debate you resort to name calling and silencing of the opposition. Taking the conservative viewpoint off of the blog is FACISM you moron. You are guilty of everything you blame the neocons of and you can't even see it, how fucking blind and ignorant you are."

This is one indication that our schools, besides doing a crappy job of teaching the English language, are not instructing our students on the cultural diversity of our planet, but instead laying a foundation of cultural stereotypes to which Fox News and most of the MSM feed. Mr. Shaver is the poster boy for restructuring our public schools.

Does Guinness Book of World Records have a category for biggest hypocrite of all time? I've never won anything before...
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April 23, 2005

"Bush's Most Radical Plan Yet"


Osha Gray Davidson, writing in Rolling Stone, brings this latest mind-numbing proposal from Bush-war:

If you've got something to hide in Washington, the best place to bury it is in the federal budget. The spending plan that President Bush submitted to Congress this year contains 2,000 pages that outline funding to safeguard the environment, protect workers from injury and death, crack down on securities fraud and ensure the safety of prescription drugs. But almost unnoticed in the budget, tucked away in a single paragraph, is a provision that could make every one of those protections a thing of the past.
The proposal, spelled out in three short sentences, would give the president the power to appoint an eight-member panel called the "Sunset Commission," which would systematically review federal programs every ten years and decide whether they should be eliminated. Any programs that are not "producing results," in the eyes of the commission, would "automatically terminate unless the Congress took action to continue them."

The administration portrays the commission as a well-intentioned effort to make sure that federal agencies are actually doing their job. "We just think it makes sense," says Clay Johnson, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, which crafted the provision. "The goal isn't to get rid of a program -- it's to make it work better."

In practice, however, the commission would enable the Bush administration to achieve what Ronald Reagan only dreamed of: the end of government regulation as we know it. With a simple vote of five commissioners -- many of them likely to be lobbyists and executives from major corporations currently subject to federal oversight -- the president could terminate any program or agency he dislikes. No more Environmental Protection Agency. No more Food and Drug Administration. No more Securities and Exchange Commission.

"Ronald Reagan once observed, 'The closest thing to immortality on this earth is a federal government program,' " says Rep. Kevin Brady, a Republican from Texas who has been working for the past nine years to establish a sunset commission. "We need it to clear out the deadwood."

Without many of those programs, however, American consumers, workers and investors would be left to the mercy of business. "This is potentially devastating," says Wesley Warren, who served as a senior OMB official in the Clinton administration. "In short order, this could knock out protections that have been built up over a generation."

Others note that the provision goes beyond anything attempted by conservatives in the past. "When you look at this," says Marchant Wentworth, a lobbyist for the Union of Concerned Scientists, "it's almost like the Reagan administration was a trial run." ....

The Repubs definitely have all guns a-firing this term. Can the Progressives keep up?
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April 22, 2005

Microsoft Moves to the Right


Bill Gates jumps into bed with the Neocons:


In a move that angered many of the company's gay employees, the Microsoft Corporation, publicly perceived as the vanguard institution of the new economy, has taken a major political stand in favor of age-old discrimination.

The Stranger has learned that last month the $37-billion Redmond-based software behemoth quietly withdrew its support for House bill 1515, the anti-gay-discrimination bill currently under consideration by the Washington State legislature, after being pressured by the Evangelical Christian pastor of a suburban megachurch. The pastor, Ken Hutcherson of Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, met with a senior Microsoft executive in February and threatened to organize a national boycott of the company's products if it did not change its stance on the legislation, according to gay rights activists and a Microsoft employee who attended a subsequent April 4 meeting where Bradford L. Smith, Microsoft's senior vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary, told a group of gay staffers about Hutcherson's threat. Hutcherson also unsuccessfully demanded that the company fire two employees who had testified in favor of the bill....

Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, and a few other brave legislators aside, are there any corporate or political leaders remaining in this country who aren't morally corrupt?
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Christians Against Filibusters


Check out this TV ad by People for the American Way. Their reason for the ad:

In just two days, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist will appear with the Radical Religious Right’s James Dobson and Tony Perkins in a telecast to churches nationwide. The “Justice Sunday” event will enlist their followers in Frist’s fight to eliminate the Senate filibuster...the last, best check on one-party domination.

They’re calling it “Filibuster Against the Faithful.” It’s a shameful attempt to manipulate religion for political gain, and to suggest that anybody who doesn’t share their political point of view can’t be a person of faith.

It’s an outrage. It must not go unanswered...

Read the entire explanation and maybe contribute a few $'s to help air it this weekend.
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"A front-page New York Times story the other day referred to Sen. John McCain as "the most popular national political figure in the country." McCain built his career in politics while news accounts routinely described him as a "war hero," with frequent references to the captivity and torture that he withstood for years after a North Vietnamese missile brought him down from a plane he was piloting over Hanoi. Media outlets rarely put a fine point on the fact that McCain had been dropping bombs on civilians."
- - - Norman Solomon
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Darth Vader's Blog
2005 International Snow Sculpture Championships
THX 1138 (interactive)
Worst Jobs in British History
If Lincoln had used PowerPoint for the Gettysburg Address
Art Vending Machines (click "gallery" and then "randomize")
Airline Meals From The Past
Laptop Thief, Beware! (zipped mp3 file)
Are you a dork?
Louis Armstrong Did It Again First (audio)
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April 21, 2005

Words to Cherish and Follow


"In this restive, despairing time, if governments do not do all they can to honor nonviolent resistance, then by default they privilege those who turn to violence. No government's condemnation of terrorism is credible if it cannot show itself to be open to change by nonviolent dissent.

"But instead nonviolent resistance movements are being crushed. Any kind of mass political mobilization or organization is being bought off, or broken, or simply ignored.

"Meanwhile, governments and the corporate media, and let's not forget the film industry, lavish their time, attention, technology, research, and admiration on war and terrorism. Violence has been deified.

"The message this sends is disturbing and dangerous: If you seek to air a public grievance, violence is more effective than nonviolence.

"As the rift between the rich and poor grows, as the need to appropriate and control the world's resources to feed the great capitalist machine becomes more urgent, the unrest will only escalate.

"For those of us who are on the wrong side of Empire, the humiliation is becoming unbearable.

"Each of the Iraqi children killed by the United States was our child. Each of the prisoners tortured in Abu Ghraib was our comrade. Each of their screams was ours. When they were humiliated, we were humiliated. The U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq - mostly volunteers in a poverty draft from small towns and poor urban neighborhoods - are victims just as much as the Iraqis of the same horrendous process, which asks them to die for a victory that will never be theirs.

"The mandarins of the corporate world, the CEOs, the bankers, the politicians, the judges and generals look down on us from on high and shake their heads sternly. "There's no Alternative," they say. And let slip the dogs of war.

"Then, from the ruins of Afghanistan, from the rubble of Iraq and Chechnya, from the streets of occupied Palestine and the mountains of Kashmir, from the hills and plains of Colombia and the forests of Andhra Pradesh and Assam comes the chilling reply: "There's no alternative but terrorism." Terrorism. Armed struggle. Insurgency. Call it what you want.

"Terrorism is vicious, ugly, and dehumanizing for its perpetrators, as well as its victims. But so is war. You could say that terrorism is the privatization of war. Terrorists are the free marketers of war. They are people who don't believe that the state has a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence.

"Human society is journeying to a terrible place."

- - - Arundhati Roy
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"Though Bush and the modern GOP have reaped extraordinary rewards from an iron-disciplined command-and-control system, they also benefitted from sheer obstinacy and viciousness. They've been lucky with Bush; somehow, that faux-cowboy smirk of his distracts about half of America from the vicious, mean underbelly of the party.

"Tom DeLay and Bolton have no such appeal. They're mean, they're petty, and they constantly use the system to benefit themselves and their cronies. They didn't get where they are by backing down, either, so they'll go down with guns blazing; they don't know any other way. The longer it takes, the better; America needs to get a good, long look at what they've been voting for."

Matt Davis
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Finding the Rat in Ratzinger


From Catholic News (emphasis added):

The Vatican's Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has suggested that a campaign is under way against the Church, judging by the way scandals involving priests have been reported in the United States.

The prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith shared his views last weekend with a group of journalists attending a conferencein Rome.

He said: "I am personally convinced that the constant presence in the press of the sins of Catholic priests, especially in the United States, is a planned campaign, as the percentage of these offences among priests is not higher than in other categories, and perhaps it is even lower."

"In the United States, there is constant news on this topic, but less than 1% of priests are guilty of acts of this type," he said. "The constant presence of these news items does not correspond to the objectivity of the information nor to the statistical objectivity of the facts.

"Therefore, one comes to the conclusion that it is intentional, manipulated, that there is a desire to discredit the Church. It is a logical and well-founded conclusion."

Percent of sexual abuse cases covered up by Ratzinger while acting as prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: 100%

Likelihood that Ratzinger, as Pope, will pursue investigations and punishments in cases of past and ongoing sexual abuse by priests: (fill-in-the-blank)
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Tainted conservative

Though charity may begin in the House, few have so brazenly blended the altruistic with the self-serving as Tom DeLay.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
By Joe Conason - April 15, 2005 |

"The time has come that the American people know exactly what their representatives are doing here in Washington. Are they feeding at the public trough, taking lobbyist-paid vacations, getting wined and dined by special-interest groups? Or are they working hard to represent their constituents? The people, the American people, have a right to know. I say the best disinfectant is full disclosure."

That populist polemic was delivered on the House floor in November 1995 by well-known reformer Tom DeLay, R-Texas. Now nationally notorious for his own lobbyist-paid luxury trips to Scotland, Russia and South Korea, among other places, where he has been wined and dined by a bewildering variety of special-interest groups, the House majority leader is no longer quite so strict about full disclosure, either. Even the trait often described as his most admirable -- his concern for abused children -- has been tainted by his penchant for backroom influence peddling.

I think that hypocrisy is one of the primary elements composing the ideologies of a good neoconservative.
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Counting in Iraq


"I’m not a pacifist. I’ve worked in places where I’ve wanted UN peacekeepers to come. I think there are problems in the world for which a military response might be appropriate.

"But I think that in my country, in particular among the leaders of my country, there is a grossly inadequate understanding of what a horrible thing war is, and all the misery and suffering that goes with it. My country went to war much too flippantly. Our data strongly supports that.

"I went to Iraq hoping I’d find fewer deaths. It certainly never occurred to me that I’d find more deaths caused by coalition forces than by non-coalition forces. Listening to the press in my country that would have been an unbelievable thing.

"I’m convinced that the war has been a dismal failure. People in my country might not know that for years to come. But we’ve sown the seeds of hatred to an enormous extent."

- - - US-based scientist Dr. Les Roberts, who led a survey in 2004 into deaths caused by the invasion of Iraq. His results showed that approximately 100,000 Iraqis had been killed after the invasion.

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Check out this BBC video about how the Iraq invasion was really for oil. (realmedia format)

This Video examines the Neoconservatives and World War 4.
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April 20, 2005

Who Woulda Thought


From the NY Times comes this unusually good news:

Here is a FACT SHEET on the study's results.
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Is America Getting Dumber?


John C. Dvorak, a computer guru, has noticed that, increasingly, people with computers don't even know how to look for simple, basic information online, and that trend is a manifestation of an increasingly ignorant population (snippet):

....It seems as if nobody knows anything except the names of a few popular songs and perhaps the names of some popular bands. To see this sort of mass ignorance you can catch Jay Leno's once-every-week-or-so Jaywalking segment, where the late-night entertainer goes on the street to ask people who are out and about the simplest of questions. The answers are absurd and jaw-dropping. He'll ask someone who says he or she is a college student, "Can you name one state that borders California?" The person will look puzzled and respond, "Chicago?" Over the years I have to assume that this segment has been subverted by its own popularity and some people just goof on the answers to get on the show, but to act like a brain-dead dingbat just to be on TV is pathetic in itself.

Other TV shows have been done with a similar theme, focusing on students at Harvard and elsewhere. Few knew that the earth goes around the sun. Fewer still know even rudimentary geography, and nobody knows history or current events, although kids do know the names of band members....

Based on my expereinces, I cannot disagree with his assessment.
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Flu Blinders


Pandemic Flu: We Are Not Prepared (subscription required)

Posted 4/15/2005 - Marc Lipsitch, D. Phil

The world faces a new influenza pandemic about 3 times each century. The 1918 pandemic killed at least 20 million people. We don't know when the next one will hit, but flu experts agree that we are now at high risk for a serious pandemic. H5N1 flu has become endemic in Asian birds, and at least 74 human cases, including 49 deaths and probable human-to-human transmission, have occurred since the beginning of 2004.

We are unprepared for a new pandemic. International health officials lack the resources to monitor avian flu in a human population of hundreds of millions in affected parts of Asia, including some countries with almost no public health systems. Asia needs a significant stockpile of the anti-influenza drug oseltamavir, on-site, to treat and stop transmission of the early cases that could give rise to a pandemic.

If a pandemic reached the United States today, we could manufacture only enough vaccine for perhaps a quarter of our population. Our planned domestic stockpile of oseltamavir would leave over 99% of the country unprotected. Proportionally, Great Britain's stockpile will be 25 times greater, and some authorities suggest that even that isn't enough. To make a dent in a pandemic, vaccines and antivirals will be needed in much greater quantities than current plans allow.

Pandemic flu is an enemy that we know will return. Indeed, of the 12 disaster scenarios recently assessed by the US Department of Homeland Security, it is the most likely and perhaps the most deadly. Our surveillance and countermeasures abroad are inadequate, and current response plans won't do much to slow a pandemic once it is under way. The United States, and the world, must meet this enemy with the seriousness, the investment, and the urgency that it demands.

That's my opinion. I'm Dr. Marc Lipsitch of the Harvard School of Public Health. To contact the author: mlipsitc@hsph.harvard.eduMarc Lipsitch, D. Phil , Associate Professor of Epidemiology, Department of Epidemiology and Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts

Medscape General Medicine. 2005; 7 (2): ©2005 Medscape

It's not like we haven't been receiving warnings from the profesional health community for like a year now. What is the government waiting for? Is Bush-war hoping that a good portion of the elderly and feeble will be the main victims of this next epidemic, you know, "weed out" the least productive portion of our society? In the early part of the 20th century the flu epidemic affected nearly every family in America. Today, with a world population several times larger than that of the last flu epidemic, and with many more, and more crowded, metropolises (metropoli?), this will be a much more devastating event. Let's start asking our congressmembers and senators what they're doing about this; after all, that's why we put them in office, to serve our safety and security needs.
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Some Iraqis are actually complaining? What nerve!


From IRIN News:

BAGHDAD, 19 April (IRIN) - Students and government employees say that tight security on the streets of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, is preventing them from going to school and work. Some teachers say the situation is having a serious impact on education in the country.

According to the Ministry of Education (MoE), four colleges and 10 schools are suffering from road closures as a result of meetings called by the new national assembly. Some schools haven’t opened since the first assembly meeting two weeks ago.
“Every day I try to get to my college, but policemen have blocked the streets and it’s impossible to get there through other roads. Most of the main avenues in the capital have been closed and it is just delaying progress and our studies,” Mahmoud Obeid, 22, a medical student, told IRIN in Baghdad.

The national assembly is meeting inside the fortified green zone in Baghdad, situated in the heart of the city, where many main roads meet. Road closure here can affect transportation throughout the busy metropolis.
Dr Sabah Kadham, deputy minister of interior, told IRIN that these security measures were needed to ensure safety during the meetings and prevent car bombings in the area.

“We understand that it may be affecting people, but it’s the only way to guarantee some security and permit the development and construction of the new constitution of the country,” Kadham added.

“The main problem is that they [the new assembly] just care about the meetings and don’t look at how security is affecting ordinary Iraqi lives. It is not right to conduct meetings without taking into consideration the chaos being caused to the education of our children,” a senior officer at the MoE, Bilal al-Shehkly, told IRIN.
In addition, government employees, especially those who work inside the green zone, complain that their work is piling up and this is delaying essential work related to reconstruction in the country.
“They have to organise their meeting somewhere which doesn’t affect daily life and permit all employees to work without difficulties, as they depend on our work,” Ziad Mashadany, a senior employee at the national assembly, told IRIN.

Since the start of the meeting of the 275-member national assembly on 5 April, the capital has suffered many attacks, especially in areas where government buildings and embassies are located.

In addition, insurgent groups have distributed leaflets in some areas of the capital, warning that they will carry out attacks against US troops and any police cars giving them protection, along with foreign journalists.

“This country has turned into a mess, you cannot reach your college due to insecurity or you have too much security. I hope life returns to normal so we can get on with our lives,” Sahar Ibraheem, 21, a dentistry student in Baghdad, told IRIN.

Oh, you silly Iraqis. Don't you know that your special friend George Bush is making everything good again? Just keep smiling and throwing flowers at the feet of those kind and helpful Halliburton construction workers. Remember, you now have peace, freedom and democracy, so stop complaining and start enjoying it.
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April 19, 2005

Get Out!


From the PDA:

This past weekend, at the California State Democratic Party Convention in Los Angeles, the largest gathering of state-party Democrats in the nation, activists with Progressive Democrats of America led by PDA Executive Director Tim Carpenter successfully lobbied 2,000 delegates to pass a resolution calling for the termination of the occupation of Iraq. The resolution included specific language demanding the withdrawal of American troops from that country.

The Resolution on IRAQ:

WHEREAS: The Bush Administration, using false intelligence estimates, misled the country into an illegal, unnecessary and unwise invasion and occupation of Iraq, against a country that had neither attacked nor posed an immediate threat to the United States, thus jeopardizing our national security; and

WHEREAS: As a result of that action, more than 1,500 American troops have been killed and more than 10,000 other brave Americans have been maimed or injured, and tens of thousands of Iraqis, including many innocent civilians, have also lost their lives, been injured, and seen their property and country’s infrastructure destroyed; and

WHEREAS: The invasion and occupation have created a severe burden on our economy, stretched the capacity of our armed forces including Reserve and National Guard troops who are serving unexpectedly long and difficult tours in Iraq, and continues to cause deep concern at home and abroad about the policies and intentions of the United States to the point where the United States is widely regarded with suspicion, hostility and distrust, and elections in Iraq confirmed that Iraqis wish the United States to withdraw

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That the California Democratic Party calls for termination of the occupation at the earliest possible time with the withdrawal of American troops, coupled with the creation of an international body that can assist the Iraqi people in freely and peacefully determining their own future, and that we participate in multi-lateral reconstruction.

Adopted by the California Democratic Party At Its 2005 State Convention
Los Angeles Convention Center
April 17, 2005
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Seduced By The Dark Side


Here is a nice essay by Chris Nelson on how the Bolton affair manifests the entire political state in Washington:

BOLTON BATTLE...the real fight

If the fight over John Bolton's UN nomination were just about John Bolton, he'd be history already. But this isn't about Bolton, it's about the exercise of power. Same thing with House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. If this was even 5 years ago, hed be toast.

We are at the point now where the Republican Leadership refuses to allow the possibility of a loss on anything, regardless of the merits. This renders "debate" meaningless, since nothing said actually matters, so truth is irrelevant.

"Science" depends on faith; everything is a test of power. Oppose something the President wants, and you aren't just wrong, you are betraying the Party. The underlying message is that you are also offending a very particular definition of God.

The sad, sorry Bolton/DeLay spectacles are about total war, the kill-the-prisoners exercise of power that national US politics has become since the 2000 election. If it were merely about power, it wouldn't be so terrifying. Washington is used to that. . .it's what we exist for. But the fear, the self-loathing, the pathetic, cowardly, sniveling, excuse-making drivel from such "leaders" as Lugar, Hagel, Chafee, the entire House Republican Leadership under DeLay. . .and the ever-so-very carefully expressed angst of the Democrats. . .is about something far more dangerous to the Republic than mere political power.

What we are seeing is a fight for the political soul of the nation. We've had these before, in the existential sense. . .in my political lifetime, the civil rights movement, the anti-Vietnam war movement, the women’s rights versus, to a certain extent, the right to life movement. But this time it's totally and completely a fight about God. . .specifically, whether God is going to rule in the United States.

The Constitution says that would be illegal, and any serious expert can tell you that not only were the Founders liberal in their interpretation of the Deity, but they intentionally enshrined a purely secular civic government, including the courts. They didn't think that Jesus had an official plan for us, much less did they think that politicians who defined their duties in secular terms were defying the word of God.

Tom Delay manifestly believes this, and it sounds like any number of Senate Republicans either agree, or lack the imagination or moral courage to disagree. . .why else would some endorse threats against Republican-appointed judges who dare to interpret the law in secular terms? This is what the Bolton fight is really about: you can't dump him, because that lets the Democrats win on both the facts and principle. . .fatal notions to a desire to pack the courts with religious and secular policy extremists.

Why else would there be the constant drumbeat of attacks on the "liberal media", except to undermine public trust in the Constitutionally provided mediator between the politicians and the people?

The Founders knew how to protect what they intended; this crowd has figured out how to undermine the very rule of law in the United States. Listen to what DeLay is arguing...that his excesses have nothing to do with his "persecution", interesting choice of word, by the Democrats and their "liberal press allies". If a majority of Congressional Republicans don't, in their hearts, see the hypocrisy of all this, the Republic is doomed.

The real story behind Bolton and DeLay is obvious, to anyone not already seduced by the dark side. Connect the dots. There's still time.
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Vatican to Progressive Catholics: Screw Y'all


With the selection of Joseph Ratzinger, it looks like the Catholic Church is poised to continue the regression started by John Paul II following the ideological enlightenment fostered by John XXIII:

....As John Paul's doctrinal overseer, Ratzinger disciplined Latin American "liberation theology" theologians, denounced homosexuality and gay marriage and pressured Asian priests who saw non-Christian religions as part of God's plan for humanity.

In a document in 2000, he branded other Christian churches as deficient -- shocking Anglicans, Lutherans and other Protestants in ecumenical dialogue with Rome for years....

Bush-war's new best friend?
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Most Ludicrous Ruling of the Year


From The Progressive: Tennessee Judge to Decide Whether Mexican Immigrant Has Learned Enough English to Keep Her Child

April 16, 2005

It was not your usual judge's order in a case about the potential termination of parental rights. Last October, Judge Barry Tatum of Wilson County, Tennessee, gave a Mexican woman, who is accused of neglect, six months to learn English up to the fourth-grade level or else he would proceed with the trial that could force her to relinquish her 11-year-old daughter.

The six-month period is up on Monday, April 18, and the judge has set a hearing on Monday to determine whether the woman, who speaks Mixteco, has learned enough English. "The court specially informs the mother that if she does not make the effort to learn English, she is running the risk of losing any connection--legally, morally, and physically--with her daughter forever," the judge wrote in his original order, according to news accounts. "If the mother is able to learn English, she will be able to speak with her daughter for the first time in a substantive manner and will show her that she loves her and is willing to do anything necessary to connect with her."

The woman's attorney, Jerry Gonzalez, told The Progressive that the ruling was "outrageous and unconstitutional." He added, "It's in violation of every juvenile rule, every statute, and the constitution--no matter how you want to interpret it."

In a similar case in January, Judge Tatum ordered a woman from Mexico to learn English and use birth control or risk losing custody of her child. In court, he said he was trying to avoid a "Tower of Babel" situation, the Lebanon Democrat reported. The judge was evidently referring to Genesis Chapter 11, where God punishes man for having the arrogance to build a tower into the skies. Before the punishment, everyone was speaking the same language. But then God decided to "confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech."

Gonzalez says it was not proper for the judge to invoke the Tower of Babel. "We don't live in a biblical theocracy," he says. "The judge doesn't take an oath to obey the law and the bible, but the law and the Constitution." (Gonzalez also points out that, according to the Bible, it's God's will that people now speak different languages, so Judge Tatum is misinterpreting the Tower of Babel story.)

Judge Tatum has made similar rulings in three other cases, according to NewsMax.com and the Los Angeles Times....

What can one possibly say? Obviously not all the nutjobs are working in the White House or on Capitol Hill.
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April 18, 2005

Hepatitis in Baghdad


BAGHDAD, 18 Apr 2005 (IRIN)

Doctors in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, fear an outbreak of hepatitis, following an increase in cases reported by the Infectious Diseases Control Centre (IDSC) last week. Officials said the increase was due to poor sewage control, particularly in suburbs of the city.

Dr Abdul Jalil, director of the IDSC, told IRIN that there had been a 30 percent increase in hepatitis cases in March 2005 compared to the same period in 2004, and that open sewers and polluted water were exacerbating the problem.

Staff at the IDCC said that in March 2004, there were 615 cases of hepatitis registered, compared to 899 cases in the same month this year. In addition, last August, 1,298 cases were diagnosed, a sharp rise due to the weather conditions. Jalil added that there had also been an increase in typhoid, tuberculosis (TB) and other water-borne diseases. He called for immediate action to control the situation. "The system of sanitation in the capital should be fixed quickly. The Ministry of Public Works is moving slowly to solve this problem and it’s affecting the health of Iraqis," Jalil explained.

In addition, Baghdad still has old sewage and water channels which haven't been repaired. The channels often run beside each other and lack of electricity has caused water to be pumped at low pressure, causing sewage to seep into the fresh water delivery system.

According to Dr Haydar Shamari, director of the Iraqi National Centre for Blood Donation (INCBD), hepatitis was the first disease detected in contaminated blood samples. He added that hepatitis C, was very common, followed by type B, which is worrying doctors....

Sheesh! I don't understand why they sound so doggone worried. Bush-war has brought peace and freedom and democracy and elections to these people, and he's said, for two years now, that things are improving in Iraq. We're spending tens of billions of US Dollars on rebuilding schools, buildings, the healthcare system.... I'm sure it's just a matter of hours or days before this problem with the sewers is resolved. Bush-war even says it himself: This is hard work, really hard work.
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Voting in L.A.


Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles has an important request:

Dear PDLA:

From Karen Indreland, PDLA Election Protection organizer, comes an urgent request for your participation and attendance at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, April 19th, 10 AM, 500 West Temple, LA, 90012 (#57 on the agenda). Plan to spend the day, agendas are not reliable.

PDLA will ask supervisors to vote to secure the Ink-a-Vote System and Micro Tally System. Ink-a-vote is the current county voting system, where you darken in the ovals on paper ballots. PDLA will also support upgrades for audio/keypads for the blind and Second Chance voting to alert those who have under-voted (not voted for a candidate) or over-voted (voted for more than one candidate).

LA County Registrar Conny McCormack is advocating the use of Ink-a-Vote System, which we support. But just as urgently and importantly we must make a public plea to block a two-year struggle to replace our existing tabulation machines (Micro Tally System) with Diebold GEMS-2. Diebold's CEO promised to deliver Ohio to Bush. We do not want to invest our millions or our faith in such a partisan company.

On the question of upgrades, there is no contest. Will it be ES&S or Unisyn (Carlsbad)? Unisyn is the only company offering a print out ballot from our audio/keypad. The ES&S is a tally-only system. PDLA supports Unisyn for the upgrades.

In addition we will put on record our request to remove the Touch Screen Voting machines, which do not provide a paper trail. We want the county to replace these machines with Ink-a-Vote system upgrades to meet the HAVA requirements for tabulation. If the Governor is successful in calling for a special election next year, we want to make sure we have a paper trail for all votes.

Please spread the word and ask as many activists to show up so we can secure our Micro Tally System along with our Ink-a-Vote. Even if you do not testify, your attendance will be a show of support. When PDLA takes a stand against paperless machines or Diebold tabulators, you, too, can take a stand by literally standing to show your support.

Although the meeting will be televised, we need the media to cover it. Please email or call with suggestions or assistance.

Thank you, Karen Indreland - fashionmatrix@yahoo.com

Progressive Demorats of America.... Finally, a group of Democrats DOING SOMETHING to pick up our fallen nation. Let's give them all the support we can: vocally, financially and participatory.
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April 17, 2005

Some "Potent Quotables" from this weekend's California Democratic Convention:

"The governor has declared war on the state of California. He declared war on us, and I declare war on him." - - - Assemblywoman Judy Chu

"Hi, I'm Don Perata, and I'm a girlie-man." - - - Senate President pro Tempore Don Perata

"We're right and he's just far-right." - - - State Treasurer Phil Angelides

"… We are the party of innovation, we are the party of accountability, and we are the party of investing in this state's future." - - - State Controller Steve Westly

"Voters gave Arnold Schwarzenegger a chance when he became governor … now they see that what they thought they were getting is something quite different." - - - U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

"We will say no to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's attempt to take $2 billion out of the education budget. Governor, keep your promise to the children of California and fund public schools. We don't need any more corrupt Republicans in office in this country." - - - DNC Chairman Howard Dean
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April 16, 2005

CDC - The Place to Be This Weekend


The California Democratic Convention is taking place this weekend here in Los Angeles. Many of the top Califonia Democratic politicians are making appearances, plus Howard Dean gave a rousing speech as an introduction to the showing of "Outfoxed" in one of the larger meeting rooms.

Besides Dean, I got to see, up close, Gen. Wesley Clark who all but threw his hat into the ring for the 2008 primaries. He noted that this time he will be funded, organized and experienced. He continues with the middle-of-the-road support of taking care of business in Iraq by giving our troops the support they need. Clark's most memorable comment, with respect to Bush's recent claim that his administration's foreign "policy" is responsible for the recent "breakout of democracy" in the Middle East, compared that with the rooster claiming credit for the sunrise due to his crowing. [UPDATE 4-18-05: You can download the speech HERE. It's a 59MB .mov file, so broadband is a must.]

Other notable and much more progressive speakers whom I was priviledged to see included Maxine Waters, Barbara Lee and Tom Hayden. Barbara Boxer literally brought down the house with her appearance.

The attendees at this gathering clearly seem to favor Phil Angelides over the other Democratic candidates vying to oppose Governor Groperzenegger. He's not flamboyant and popular like the Terminator, but he may pull out a victory if Arnold continues his abuse of the state.

The PDA had probably the best collection of speakers (including several of those mentioned above) and I was impressed with the popularity shown for this fledgling outcropping of the Democratic Party. Tom Hayden gave, by far, the best speech of the evening, especially his rationale for why the US Military should announce their timetable for a pullout from Iraq, which would likely shut down the insurgency.

Tomorrow the CDC wraps up its business and will have Antonio Villaraigosa as its last big-ticket draw. He is the opponent to current Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn and is currently favored to win, but you know how those things can change...

What bothered me the most was seeing way too many smiling, happy delegates wandering the halls and attending the numerous parties, meet-and-greets, lectures and other events. As fun as conventions should be, this is a critical time for Democrats across the nation, with their party on the fast track to extinction; it's time to get serious and also stop bickering amongst themselves. It's time to show some balls and unify behind a theme of representing the real needs and values of the lower and middle classes of this once-great country.
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April 15, 2005

Fasten you seatbelts. Everything IS spinning out of control . . . .

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Keeping the truth behind doors

Some administration staffers were not allowed to be interviewed by investigators looking into Armstrong Williams' paid role.
By Tom Hamburger
Times Staff Writer

April 15, 2005

WASHINGTON — Education Department investigators looking into the administration's controversial hiring of commentator Armstrong Williams were denied the opportunity to interview some White House personnel because of a White House claim that such interviews could breach long-standing legal traditions.

"By statute, an inspector general's jurisdiction is limited," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Thursday. "An IG can request information from other federal agencies but not from the White House office."

She said the White House did allow the investigators to interview one White House employee who had been on loan to the Education Department when Williams was hired. But it has not granted permission for other interviews.

The White House refusal came to light Thursday after Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez) said he was told about it by Inspector General Jack Higgins. Miller wrote to the White House asking that investigators have full access to White House personnel so they could get to the bottom of the hiring of Williams.

Williams, a television and newspaper commentator, received $240,000 in federal funds last year to promote the president's No Child Left Behind initiative. Williams did not disclose the payments made to him through a public relations firm hired by the Education Department, even as he appeared on television promoting the president's work....

Gosh, what's this, the White House is blocking an investigation into illegal activities? Who woulda thought that such a thing could happen, the righteous Bush-war Administration interfering with truth, justice and the American way!! Next thing you know, they'll be blocking other investigations. Oh, wait, that's been going on for four years... never mind.
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But he has no Mideastern accent


Michael Hussey brought this to our attention: a TALKING JESUS DOLL! It also comes in three other flavors: David, Mary and Moses. I'm gettin' me one...
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Ibuprofen Prevents Parkinson's?


From Medscape Medical News (subscription sometimes required)

Ibuprofen May Protect Against Parkinson's Disease
Paula Moyer, MA

April 14, 2005 (Miami Beach) — Ibuprofen taken daily or weekly may protect users from developing Parkinson's disease, according to investigators who presented their findings here today at the 57th annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology.

"Ibuprofen users were 35% less likely to develop Parkinson's disease than nonusers," said senior investigator Alberto Ascherio, MD, DrPH, during a press briefing. He stressed that he and his coinvestigators only saw this effect in patients who took ibuprofen and not in those who took aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Dr. Ascherio is an associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts.

Earlier research has shown that neuronal inflammation is involved in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease and that, conversely, NSAIDs may be protective.

Therefore, in a study funded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research and the National Institute for Neurologic Diseases and Stroke, the investigators examined the relationship between ibuprofen use in the 146,565 participants of the American Cancer Society's Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort. They also attempted to determine if the benefit extended to aspirin, other NSAIDs, and acetaminophen.

The investigators identified patients who had developed Parkinson's disease between 1992, the year of the study's commencement, and 2000. The participants self-reported the diagnosis, and the investigators either contacted the treating neurologists or reviewed the participants' medical records to confirm the diagnosis.

During 1.25 million person-years of follow-up, 413 people developed Parkinson's disease. Compared with nonusers, ibuprofen users had a relative risk (RR) of 0.65 (P = .005). These results were maintained when the investigators adjusted for age, sex, and smoking status.

Those who used ibuprofen less frequently than two times per week were 27% less likely to develop Parkinson's disease; those who used it two to fewer than seven times per week had a risk reduction of 28%. Daily users had a 39% risk reduction (P trend = .03). The duration of treatment with ibuprofen was not significant.

When the investigators analyzed the relationship between the development of Parkinson's disease and aspirin, other NSAIDs, and acetaminophen, they found no significant associations between these medications and the development of Parkinson's disease.

When asked why the benefits did not extend to aspirin or other NSAIDs, Dr. Ascherio acknowledged that considerably more people could be using ibuprofen than other medications, and that the finding could be a statistical anomaly. However, he also suggested that there may be an ibuprofen-specific effect against Parkinson's disease, such as protection against glutamate toxicity or amyloid deposition. He and his coinvestigators will continue to follow the patients for at least two years to see if they can elucidate the specific protective mechanism.

Physicians should not be surprised that ibuprofen was protective, but rather that the benefit was specific to this drug and was not found with other NSAIDs, according to Walter Rocca, MD, professor of epidemiology and neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

"The literature suggests that inflammation and inflammatory processes are involved in Parkinson's disease," said Dr. Rocca, who was not involved in the study. "So the idea that an anti-inflammatory could slow or interfere with that process makes sense. When the mouse model of Parkinson's disease is used, an inflammatory process is evident."

One study limitation is that because ibuprofen is an over-the-counter medication, the so-called nonusers "could have taken ibuprofen years ago," Dr. Rocca said. "Therefore, a short-term clinical study might not give complete data." Long-term data would be necessary to more fully discern users and nonusers, he said.

Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD

Hmmm... So if I take like one 200mg pill a day it will reduce my headaches, back and knee pain and keep my short-term memory. Sounds like a plan.
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“Where is the Culture of Life?”


From the Los Cerritos Community News, as linked on HHDC:

Alon Barlevy, PhD.
President, Hubert Humphrey Democratic Club

Back in the 1980s, one fast food chain used the phrase "where is the beef?" in its advertising campaign to emphasize that it has more (literal) beef in its burgers than the competitors. As a testament to the success of the ad campaign, politicians started using that question against their opponents, making use of the figurative meaning of the word "beef" to mean "substance".

Today, in the post-Terri Schiavo world, we should ask the Republicans "Where is the culture of life"? During Terri's final days, the president and other Republican leaders kept repeating the phrases "to err on the side of life" and "culture of life". Such phrases sound like guidelines for a broad policy. It appears, though, that for the Republicans the "culture of life" phrase is applicable in only two
cases: Terri Schiavo, and unborn fetuses. The law that the Republicans pushed through Congress to allow Schiavo's parents to appeal to the federal courts applies only to Terri Schiavo, and no other person. The name Theresa Marie Schiavo appears no fewer than six times in the language of the bill (a clear violation of the 14th amendment equal protection clause).

After the bill became law, it was discovered that Republican House Leader Tom DeLay pulled the tube from his own comatose father back in 1988. It was also discovered that while George W. Bush was governor of Texas, he signed a bill into law allowing Texas hospitals to disconnect life support if a physician, in consultation with a hospital bioethics committee, concludes that the patient's condition is hopeless.

When it comes to pregnancies, the Republicans have shown time and time again lots of compassion towards the unborn fetuses, but not as much for the babies after the birth. They do not like to give assistance to poor families with children (doesn't it take a village to raise a child?), nor do they like to provide healthcare to the poor. In fact, in May 2004, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican from Huntington Beach, proposed an outrageous bill to withhold emergency room services from patients who cannot prove their legal immigration status. That sounds more like "err on the side of death" than "err on the side of life".

On second thought, perhaps the applicability of the "culture of life" phrase is even more restrictive than just Terri Schiavo and unborn fetuses. During the war in Iraq, in which by some estimates, 100,000 innocent civilians were killed (exact numbers are impossible to determine), there must have been (at least) several hundred innocent pregnant Iraqi women among the casualties. We have not seen the Republicans mourn the loss of those women and their fetuses. Perhaps the "culture of life" is restricted only to Terri Schiavo and unborn fetuses inside the wombs of mothers who have legally entered American soil?

If the religious right, which directly or indirectly (via corporations) contributes major portions of the campaign dollars raised by Republicans, decided to worship aardvarks, you can bet that major legislation would be rushed through both houses of congress to fund huge aardvark preserves across the country. Bills would be rammed through congress making it a capital crime to injure or kill them. We would have aardvark statues erected in front of Southern courhouses, biology texts in schools would devote entire chapters to the animal, Bush would direct major discretionary spending toward aardvark advocacy groups, and every aardvark death would be headline news on FOX News.

Republicans genuflect to money, not morals.
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Found Footage (video)
Flickr (enter search word and retrieve photos)
Random Scientific Paper Generator
Mr. T says, "Treat your mother right." (video)
Best of Photojournalism 2005
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Really big things
Tonx's photos
Creative Commercials (a huge storehouse of innovative, new commercials)
How Motherboards Are Made: A Gigabyte Factory Tour
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April 14, 2005

Feinstein Supports Iraq Occupation


I received this reply today from one of my U.S. Senators:

April 14, 2005

M. Mike Stabile
12345 XXXXXXXX Street

Dear M. Stabile:

Thank you for writing to me regarding the Bush Administration's requests for additional funding for continuing operations and reconstruction of Iraq. I appreciate hearing from you.

Given the uncertainty regarding the true cost of our military operations, I believe the Administration should provide detailed plans to Congress and the American people describing how these funds will be spent. I believe the United States has assumed an enormous responsibility in Iraq and see this war through to victory. I look forward to working with the Administration to arm and support our troops so that they accomplish the mission on the battlefield and return home as soon as possible.

Please know that I will keep your comments in mind when the Senate considers the Presidents request. Again, thank you for writing me regarding this important issue. If you have any additional comments or questions please contact my office at (202) 224-3841.

Sincerely yours,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

Big deal, so she wants a detailed list. So it looks like Senator Feinstein will continue to be a shill for the Republicans in their quest to continue pumping hundreds of billions of our dollars into the bottomless, deadly pit called Iraq. We need to get Senator Boxer to punch some sense into Feinstein.
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Have You Heard About This?


Oil Spill in Alaska

ANCHORAGE (Reuters) - An estimated 1.4 million cubic feet of natural gas and an unknown quantity of crude oil spewed from a leak in a pipeline at the Prudhoe Bay oil field on Alaska's North Slope, state environmental regulators said on Tuesday. The resulting mist of crude oil coated an area nearly a mile long and averaged about 300 feet wide, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said in a statement.

Field operator BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. discovered and reported the leak, the state agency said. BP was trying to calculate the amount of oil spilled. The leak came from a failed weld in a pipe that carries natural gas for injection into a well. BP immediately shut down production at the affected drill site to control the situation, said company spokesman Andrew Van Chau. Production at the site, typically 10,000 barrels per day, resumed late in the afternoon. The cleanup will be conducted "as long as it takes," Van Chau said.

Prudhoe Bay is Alaska's biggest oil field. Along with operator BP, major field owners are ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil.
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April 13, 2005

"The Long Emergency"


From the standpoint of the concept of peak oil, we are now opening the door and entering the next period of our civilization, a period of gradually increasing restrictions on our natural resources. The excerpts below, from the an article in Rolling Stone based on the book, The Long Emergency, will hopefully give you an incentive to read the book, just released.

The Long Emergency

What's going to happen as we start running out of cheap gas to guzzle?


A few weeks ago, the price of oil ratcheted above fifty-five dollars a barrel, which is about twenty dollars a barrel more than a year ago. The next day, the oil story was buried on page six of the New York Times business section. Apparently, the price of oil is not considered significant news, even when it goes up five bucks a barrel in the span of ten days. That same day, the stock market shot up more than a hundred points because, CNN said, government data showed no signs of inflation. Note to clueless nation: Call planet Earth....

....It has been very hard for Americans -- lost in dark raptures of nonstop infotainment, recreational shopping and compulsive motoring -- to make sense of the gathering forces that will fundamentally alter the terms of everyday life in our technological society. Even after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, America is still sleepwalking into the future. I call this coming time the Long Emergency.

Most immediately we face the end of the cheap-fossil-fuel era. It is no exaggeration to state that reliable supplies of cheap oil and natural gas underlie everything we identify as the necessities of modern life -- not to mention all of its comforts and luxuries: central heating, air conditioning, cars, airplanes, electric lights, inexpensive clothing, recorded music, movies, hip-replacement surgery, national defense -- you name it.

The few Americans who are even aware that there is a gathering global-energy predicament usually misunderstand the core of the argument. That argument states that we don't have to run out of oil to start having severe problems with industrial civilization and its dependent systems. We only have to slip over the all-time production peak and begin a slide down the arc of steady depletion.

The term "global oil-production peak" means that a turning point will come when the world produces the most oil it will ever produce in a given year and, after that, yearly production will inexorably decline. It is usually represented graphically in a bell curve. The peak is the top of the curve, the halfway point of the world's all-time total endowment, meaning half the world's oil will be left. That seems like a lot of oil, and it is, but there's a big catch: It's the half that is much more difficult to extract, far more costly to get, of much poorer quality and located mostly in places where the people hate us. A substantial amount of it will never be extracted....

....Now we are faced with the global oil-production peak. The best estimates of when this will actually happen have been somewhere between now and 2010. In 2004, however, after demand from burgeoning China and India shot up, and revelations that Shell Oil wildly misstated its reserves, and Saudi Arabia proved incapable of goosing up its production despite promises to do so, the most knowledgeable experts revised their predictions and now concur that 2005 is apt to be the year of all-time global peak production. It will change everything about how we live....

....Some other things about the global energy predicament are poorly understood by the public and even our leaders. This is going to be a permanent energy crisis, and these energy problems will synergize with the disruptions of climate change, epidemic disease and population overshoot to produce higher orders of trouble. We will have to accommodate ourselves to fundamentally changed conditions.

No combination of alternative fuels will allow us to run American life the way we have been used to running it, or even a substantial fraction of it. The wonders of steady technological progress achieved through the reign of cheap oil have lulled us into a kind of Jiminy Cricket syndrome, leading many Americans to believe that anything we wish for hard enough will come true. These days, even people who ought to know better are wishing ardently for a seamless transition from fossil fuels to their putative replacements.

The widely touted "hydrogen economy" is a particularly cruel hoax. We are not going to replace the U.S. automobile and truck fleet with vehicles run on fuel cells. For one thing, the current generation of fuel cells is largely designed to run on hydrogen obtained from natural gas. The other way to get hydrogen in the quantities wished for would be electrolysis of water using power from hundreds of nuclear plants. Apart from the dim prospect of our building that many nuclear plants soon enough, there are also numerous severe problems with hydrogen's nature as an element that present forbidding obstacles to its use as a replacement for oil and gas, especially in storage and transport....

....If we wish to keep the lights on in America after 2020, we may indeed have to resort to nuclear power, with all its practical problems and eco-conundrums. Under optimal conditions, it could take ten years to get a new generation of nuclear power plants into operation, and the price may be beyond our means. Uranium is also a resource in finite supply. We are no closer to the more difficult project of atomic fusion, by the way, than we were in the 1970s.

The upshot of all this is that we are entering a historical period of potentially great instability, turbulence and hardship. Obviously, geopolitical maneuvering around the world's richest energy regions has already led to war and promises more international military conflict. Since the Middle East contains two-thirds of the world's remaining oil supplies, the U.S. has attempted desperately to stabilize the region by, in effect, opening a big police station in Iraq. The intent was not just to secure Iraq's oil but to modify and influence the behavior of neighboring states around the Persian Gulf, especially Iran and Saudi Arabia. The results have been far from entirely positive, and our future prospects in that part of the world are not something we can feel altogether confident about....

....Most of all, the Long Emergency will require us to make other arrangements for the way we live in the United States. America is in a special predicament due to a set of unfortunate choices we made as a society in the twentieth century. Perhaps the worst was to let our towns and cities rot away and to replace them with suburbia, which had the additional side effect of trashing a lot of the best farmland in America. Suburbia will come to be regarded as the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world. It has a tragic destiny. The psychology of previous investment suggests that we will defend our drive-in utopia long after it has become a terrible liability....

The circumstances of the Long Emergency will require us to downscale and re-scale virtually everything we do and how we do it, from the kind of communities we physically inhabit to the way we grow our food to the way we work and trade the products of our work. Our lives will become profoundly and intensely local. Daily life will be far less about mobility and much more about staying where you are. Anything organized on the large scale, whether it is government or a corporate business enterprise such as Wal-Mart, will wither as the cheap energy props that support bigness fall away. The turbulence of the Long Emergency will produce a lot of economic losers, and many of these will be members of an angry and aggrieved former middle class....

....The successful regions in the twenty-first century will be the ones surrounded by viable farming hinterlands that can reconstitute locally sustainable economies on an armature of civic cohesion. Small towns and smaller cities have better prospects than the big cities, which will probably have to contract substantially. The process will be painful and tumultuous. In many American cities, such as Cleveland, Detroit and St. Louis, that process is already well advanced. Others have further to fall. New York and Chicago face extraordinary difficulties, being oversupplied with gigantic buildings out of scale with the reality of declining energy supplies. Their former agricultural hinterlands have long been paved over. They will be encysted in a surrounding fabric of necrotic suburbia that will only amplify and reinforce the cities' problems. Still, our cities occupy important sites. Some kind of urban entities will exist where they are in the future, but probably not the colossi of twentieth-century industrialism....

....These are daunting and even dreadful prospects. The Long Emergency is going to be a tremendous trauma for the human race. We will not believe that this is happening to us, that 200 years of modernity can be brought to its knees by a world-wide power shortage. The survivors will have to cultivate a religion of hope -- that is, a deep and comprehensive belief that humanity is worth carrying on. If there is any positive side to stark changes coming our way, it may be in the benefits of close communal relations, of having to really work intimately (and physically) with our neighbors, to be part of an enterprise that really matters and to be fully engaged in meaningful social enactments instead of being merely entertained to avoid boredom. Years from now, when we hear singing at all, we will hear ourselves, and we will sing with our whole hearts.

Adapted from The Long Emergency, 2005, by James Howard Kunstler, and reprinted with permission of the publisher, Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
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iPod for Bush-war


Can you tell a lot about a person by the music they like? From IHT Online (emphasis added):

Between his return Friday from Pope John Paul II's funeral in Rome and his meeting Monday with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel, President George W. Bush spent an hour and a half Saturday riding a mountain bike at his Texas ranch. With him, as usual, was his indispensable new exercise toy: an iPod music player loaded with country and popular rock tunes aimed at getting the presidential heart rate up to a chest-pounding 170 beats per minute.
Which brings up the inevitable question. What, exactly, is on the First iPod? In an era of celebrity playlists - the New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady recently posted his playlist on the iTunes online music store - what does the presidential selection of downloaded songs tell us about Bush?
First, Bush's iPod is heavy on traditional country singers like George Jones, Alan Jackson and Kenny Chesney. He has selections by the folk-rock singer Van Morrison, whose "Brown-Eyed Girl" is a Bush favorite, and by John Fogerty, most predictably "Centerfield," which was played at Texas Rangers games when Bush was an owner and is still played at ballfields all over America. ("Oh, put me in, Coach - I'm ready to play today.")
The president also has an eclectic mix of songs downloaded into his iPod from Mark McKinnon, a biking buddy and his chief media strategist in the 2004 campaign. Among them are "Circle Back" by John Hiatt, "(You're So Square) Baby, I Don't Care" by Joni Mitchell and "My Sharona," the 1970s song by The Knack that Joe Levy, a deputy managing editor in charge of music coverage at Rolling Stone, cheerfully branded "suggestive if not outright filthy" in an interview last week.
Bush has had his $300 Apple iPod since last July, when he received it from his twin daughters as a birthday gift. He has some 250 songs on it, a paltry number compared to the 10,000 selections it can hold.
Bush, as leader of the free world, does not take the time to download the music himself; that task falls to his personal aide, Blake Gottesman, who buys individual songs and albums, including greatest hits by Jones and Jackson, from the iTunes music store.
Bush uses his iPod chiefly during bike workouts to help him pump up his heartbeat, which he monitors with a wrist strap. The strap also keeps track of calories expended for the intensely weight-focused president, who has recently lost 8 pounds, or 3.6 kilograms, after eating a lot of doughnuts during the 2004 campaign. Bush burned up 1,300 calories on his bike ride Saturday, McKinnon reported.
As for an analysis of Bush's playlist, Levy of Rolling Stone started out with this: "One thing that's interesting is that the president likes artists who don't like him." Levy was referring to Fogerty, who was part of the anti-Bush "Vote for Change" concert tour across the United States last fall. McKinnon, who once wrote songs for Kris Kristofferson's music publishing company, responded in an e-mail message that "if any president limited his music selection to pro-establishment musicians, it would be a pretty slim collection."
Nonetheless, McKinnon said that Bush had not gone so far as to include on his playlist "Fortunate Son," the angry anti-Vietnam war song about privileged draft dodgers that Fogerty sang when he was with Creedence Clearwater Revival. ("Some folks are born silver spoon in hand. ... I ain't no senator's son.") The song seems to be about the president in all but name: As the son of a two-term congressman and a U.S. Senate candidate, Bush won a coveted spot with the Texas Air National Guard to avoid combat in Vietnam.
Meanwhile, Levy sized up the rest of the president's playlist. "What we're talking about is a lot of great artists from the 60s and 70s and more modern artists who sound like great artists from the 60s and 70s," he said. "This is basically boomer rock 'n' roll and more recent music out of Nashville made for boomers. It's safe, it's reliable, it's loving. What I mean to say is, it's feel-good music. The Sex Pistols it's not."
Jones, Levy said, was nonetheless an interesting choice. "George Jones is the greatest living singer in country music and a recovering alcoholic who often sings about heartbreak and drinking," he said. "It tells you that the president knows a thing or two about country music and is serious about his love of country music."
The songs by Jackson indicate that the president "has a little bit of a taste for hard core and honky-tonk," Levy said, adding that both Jackson and Jones "are not about cute and pop, and they're not getting by on their looks." And while Chesney "is about cute and pop and gets by on his looks," Levy said, "he's also all about serious country music."
McKinnon, who has downloaded "Castanets" by Alejandro Escovedo and "Alive 'n' Kickin"' by Kenny Loggins into Bush's iPod, said that sometimes a presidential playlist is just a playlist, nothing more.
"No one should psychoanalyze the song selection," McKinnon said. "It's music to get over the next hill."

What? No Christian music? I'll bet next time God speaks to Bush, He's going to give him an earful.
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April 12, 2005

Terry (Monty Python) Jones' Deadly Humor


Let them eat bombs

The doubling of child malnutrition in Iraq is baffling - Terry Jones - Tuesday April 12, 2005 - The Guardian

A report to the UN human rights commission in Geneva has concluded that Iraqi children were actually better off under Saddam Hussein than they are now.
This, of course, comes as a bitter blow for all those of us who, like George Bush and Tony Blair, honestly believe that children thrive best when we drop bombs on them from a great height, destroy their cities and blow up hospitals, schools and power stations.

It now appears that, far from improving the quality of life for Iraqi youngsters, the US-led military assault on Iraq has inexplicably doubled the number of children under five suffering from malnutrition. Under Saddam, about 4% of children under five were going hungry, whereas by the end of last year almost 8% were suffering.
These results are even more disheartening for those of us in the Department of Making Things Better for Children in the Middle East By Military Force, since the previous attempts by Britain and America to improve the lot of Iraqi children also proved disappointing. For example, the policy of applying the most draconian sanctions in living memory totally failed to improve conditions. After they were imposed in 1990, the number of children under five who died increased by a factor of six. By 1995 something like half a million Iraqi children were dead as a result of our efforts to help them.

A year later, Madeleine Albright, then the US ambassador to the United Nations, tried to put a brave face on it. When a TV interviewer remarked that more children had died in Iraq through sanctions than were killed in Hiroshima, Mrs Albright famously replied: "We think the price is worth it."

But clearly George Bush didn't. So he hit on the idea of bombing them instead. And not just bombing, but capturing and torturing their fathers, humiliating their mothers, shooting at them from road blocks - but none of it seems to do any good. Iraqi children simply refuse to be better nourished, healthier and less inclined to die. It is truly baffling.

And this is why we at the department are appealing to you - the general public - for ideas. If you can think of any other military techniques that we have so far failed to apply to the children of Iraq, please let us know as a matter of urgency. We assure you that, under our present leadership, there is no limit to the amount of money we are prepared to invest in a military solution to the problems of Iraqi children.

In the UK there may now be 3.6 million children living below the poverty line, and 12.9 million in the US, with no prospect of either government finding any cash to change that. But surely this is a price worth paying, if it means that George Bush and Tony Blair can make any amount of money available for bombs, shells and bullets to improve the lives of Iraqi kids. You know it makes sense.

·Terry Jones is a film director, actor and Python. He is the author of Terry Jones's War on the War on Terror
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“This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love." - - - Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Not the Kind of Windows Update You Expected


Be careful of THIS COMPUTER VIRUS. It's an especially nasty one.
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Democracy for America has a contest to design a slogan for billboards for Tom DeLay's congressional district:

If you could say something -- in a big way -- to the people of Congressman Tom DeLay's district in Texas, what would it be?

We're looking for a slogan -- something short, something memorable, and something that lets the people of his district know that it's time for him to go.

We're buying billboards in the 22nd Congressional District, and if your slogan is selected, it will be part of Democracy for America's big splash in Tom DeLay's backyard.

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"Why is this man in the White House? The majority of Americans did not vote for him. Why is he there? And I tell you this morning that he's in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this."
- - - Lt Gen William Boykin, speaking of G. W. Bush, New York Times, 17 October 2003

"God gave the savior to the German people. We have faith, deep and unshakeable faith, that he was sent to us by God to save Germany."
- - - Hermann Goering, speaking of Hitler
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April 11, 2005

How do you like the odds?


This is the greatest ANTI-SMOKING COMMERCIAL ever made.
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"Our country has been overtaken by murderous thugs....gangsters who lust after fortunes and power; never caring that their addictions are at the expense of our loved ones, and the blood of innocent people near and far. We've watched these thugs parade themselves before the whole world as if they are courageous advocates for Christian moral values....and for the spread of democracy. Yet we all know that they are now putting in place, all across this country, a system of voting that provides no way to validate the accuracy of the counting of the votes. Our loved ones have been buried in early graves even as these arrogant thugs parade themselves before the entire world, insisting that democracy is worth dying for, killing for, and destroying entire cities for, all the while they are busy here at home overseeing the emplacement of an electronic voting system that invites fraud at every turn, an electronic vote-counting system that provides no way to validate the votes cast, and that, by it's very design, prohibits recounting the votes.

"For these men to not see to it that our own system of voting and vote-counting is accurate, understandable and verifiable...all the while sending our loved ones to kill and to die so as to establish a democracy in some far away place......this is just one more staggering piece of evidence that the US government is now ruled by murderous hypocrites...criminals who should be arrested, charged appropriately, confined behind bars, and then tried in a court of law...not only here in our own country, but also in all the other countries which have suffered their incomprehensible greed. In their secret hiding places, while celebrating newly won fortunes with their fellow brass, these men must surely congratulate themselves with orgies of carnal pleasure as they mock the dwindling multitudes who are yet so blind as to mistake them for God's devoted servants." - - - Cindy Sheehan, a founding member of Gold Star Families For Peace
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Bolton is not a vegetarian

"I don't do carrots."

- - - John Bolton, who has overseen the Bush campaign to torpedo the International Criminal Court, in response to a question about whether he would support Europe's attempt to offer Iran incentives regarding its nuclear program.
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PDA Needs Our Help


An important call to action:

One of the most important weeks in the recent history of the progressive movement is looming over the horizon. Next week, the U.S. Senate and House will consider three issues that directly affect, not only every person in this country, but our global community as well.

The Senate will debate the nomination of John Bolton to the position of UN Ambassador. Bolton's attack-dog concept of diplomacy, combined with his blatant disdain for the international community, makes him a catastrophic, yet sadly typical choice for this post.

Also next week, the Senate will begin the discussion over whether to authorize $83 billion more of your taxpayer dollars to fund the continued occupation of Iraq. Recently, thousands of Iraqis took to the streets in a massive protest demanding the end to the US occupation. It is time to heed their demands, leave their country, and halt this catastrophe without granting more money to the war profiteers.

The House will also be considering the disturbing Bankruptcy Bill next week. For millions of Americans, this bill is a carved-in-stone guarantee that their debts will become larger, deeper, and virtually impossible to escape. This bill was written by credit card corporations, which are blinded by greed, and must be derailed before it becomes yet another catastrophic law.

Beginning Monday, April 11, thousands of PDA supporters and allies will join a coalition of pro-United Nations, pro-consumer protection, and peace activists for a National Call-In to voice our opposition to these disastrous, reactionary proposals and to demand the immediate withdrawal of our troops.

Please contact the Senate and House and tell them to VOTE NO on the Supplemental Appropriations Bill for Iraq, NO on Bolton for UN Ambassador, and NO on the Bankruptcy Bill. Speak out FOR peace, hope and justice! Please take action now!

Take Action Here:

1) No on Bolton

2) No Blank Check for Iraq

3) No on Debt Slavery

It is absolutely vital that you take action on these three issues today. Do not hesitate, and never forget whom we are dealing with.

Saturday's Washington Post carried a story by Dana Milbank describing the incendiary and dangerously violent rhetoric being used by the right-wing in pursuit of their nefarious goals. One, Edwin Viera, quoted Stalin in reference to his disdain for Reagan-appointed Justice Anthony Kennedy, stating, "No man, no problem." He repeated the line several times. The full Stalin quote reads, "Death solves all problems: No man, no problem."

These people are serious, and the only way to stop them is for all of us to stand up and do our critical part. All of us have a stake in this, and next week will determine to a large extent whether millions of people, in this country and all over the world, will be further battered down into hopelessness and despair.

Get to work, and thank you from all of us at PDA.
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"I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. Some of these young men think that war is all glory but let me say war is all hell." - - - William Tecumseh Sherman
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April 10, 2005



The Big Fix

By Chris Floyd

04/07/05 "Moscow Times" - - Let's face the facts. The game is over and we -- the "reality-based community," the believers in genuine democracy and law, the heirs of Jefferson and Madison, Emerson and Thoreau, the toilers and dreamers, all those who seek to rise above the beast within and shape the brutal chaos of existence into something higher, richer and imbued with meaning -- have lost. The better world we thought had been won out of the blood and horror of history -- a realm of enlightenment that often found its best embodiment in the ideals and aspirations of the American Republic -- is gone. It's been swallowed by darkness, by ravening greed, by bestial spirits and by willful primitives who now possess overwhelming instruments of power and dominion.

A gang of such spirits seized control of the U.S. government by illicit means in 2000 and maintained that control through rampant electoral corruption in 2004. The re-election of President George W. Bush last November was a deliberately shambolic process that saw massive lockouts of opposition voters; unverifiable returns compiled by easily hackable machines operated by avowed corporate partisans of the ruling party; and vast discrepancies between exit polls and final results – gaps much larger than those that led elections in Ukraine and Georgia to be condemned as manipulated frauds. Indeed, a panel of statisticians said last week that the odds of such a discrepancy occurring naturally were 959,000 to 1, the Akron Beacon-Journal reported.

The copious documentation of the Bush fraud keeps growing. Last month, experts using actual machines and returns from the 2004 election showed Congress how a lone hacker could skew a precinct's results by 100,000 votes without leaving a trace. More than 40 million votes in 30 states were cast on such computer systems, BlackBoxVoting noted.....

......So let's have no illusions about where we are. Gangsters are in charge, and nothing and no one will be allowed to challenge their dominion. They are waging aggressive war to cement their position and that of their allies: the energy barons, the arms merchants, the construction and services cartels, the investment bankers. These power blocs now command monstrous resources and unfathomable profits; they can buy out, buy off or bury any force that opposes them. Meanwhile, they use the loot of the stolen Republic -- its blood and treasure -- as fuel for their ever-expanding war machine: Bush now has a "secret watch-list" of 25 more countries ripe for military intervention, the Financial Times reported.

With more war crimes afoot, last month Bush issued an official "National Defense Strategy" that openly declares "judicial processes" as one of the enemies confronting the United States, actually equating them with terrorism, The Associated Press reported. Law is "a strategy of the weak," says the Bush Doctrine, in a chilling echo of Hitlerian machtpolitik: Might makes right. The judicial process must not be allowed to "constrain or shape" American behavior in any way, the gangsters declared.

Think of it: Law is now the enemy. Democracy, as we've seen above, is the enemy. This, the demented code of criminals and tyrants, has become the ruling doctrine of the United States -- replacing the Constitution, replacing the noble struggle for liberty and enlightenment with the howl of the beast, with a freak show of avarice and death.
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April 9, 2005

A Sight for Sore Eyes


In contrast to the waves of booooing that hit Bush today at the Pope's funeral, Bill Clinton was mobbed and greeted with adoring chants of U.S.A.!, U.S.A.!, U.S.A.!
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April 8, 2005

The first sign of the impending collapse of the economy???


Home Foreclosure Listings Surged in March, Study Shows (snippet):

By Janet Morrissey The Associated Press - Published: Apr 7, 2005

NEW YORK (Dow Jones/AP) - In what could be a crack in the housing market's sturdy foundation, the number of foreclosed homes put up for sale rose 50 percent between February and March, according to a new study by Foreclosure.com. The increase is one of the biggest monthly spikes Foreclosure.com has seen since it began tracking the market in 1999, according to Jim Houston, vice president of the foreclosure listing service. The survey, released Wednesday, showed 28,190 foreclosed homes were put up for sale across the country in March, which is 50 percent more than in February....

If you own your home, now is the time to think about selling. You just cannot predict how fast the bottom is going to fall out of the real estate market. There is absolutely nothing in existence (except possibly foreign holders of US Treasurey bonds who still think their investment is sound) that will keep our current minor recession from morphing into possibly the worst economic collapse in U.S. history. I would give anything to be wrong about this, but I've yet to see anything that will prevent it. Go ahead, prove me wrong.
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Stop Respecting Dead People!


Why do people wait until someone dies before they "pay their respects" to them? It does nothing for the dead person.

Let's show our respect for people while they're alive, and only if we feel that they deserve it. We should have an annual "Show Your Respect Day" (Hallmark, are you listening?) where you tell people whom you know (and who know you) that you respect how they live their lives. Imagine the incredible increase of goodwill, and the number of people who didn't know that they have such a positive effect on others. Gosh, people may actually start being nice to one another, even if it is for the less-than-superfluous reason of receiving compliments on S.Y.R. Day. It's better than what goes on now.
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Dennis the Menace Strikes Again


The one politician whose political mantra most closely matches mine has reconstructed his website. Be sure to check out his latest personal video. Dennis may not be a powerful political figure in the halls of Congress, but he will always be a powerful voice and symbol for peace and justice.
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Hard to believe, but some wealthy people actually deplore Bush's tax cuts for the rich and the proposed repeal of the inheritance tax.
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Help Daffy Duck Parachute to the Target (game)
Sleeping in Airports - Guide
ASCII Movies
Singing in the Shower
Pearl Diver (game)
Videos of Surgeries (not exactly fun, but fascinating)
405 (video; an oldie but goodie)
Optical Illusions
Computer Startup Sound (video)
Delocater (find a coffeeshop near you that's NOT a Starbucks)
The Story Behind The Sound of Music
Uncyclopedia (nothing is true)
Hey, Teach! (video)
Words and phrases that sound gross but aren't
Bad Astronomy (setting the record straight)
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What is the "Nuclear Option"?


People for the American Way explains:

As the name suggests, the "nuclear option" is a radical tactic that would prohibit senators from using filibusters against extremist judicial nominees. Right-wing senators and leaders are supporting this destructive action because they want to guarantee the Senate confirmation of far-right ideologues to our federal courts, especially the Supreme Court.

The "nuclear option" is actually a series of steps that right-wing senators would take to eliminate the filibuster. The "nuclear" attack would likely begin with one party’s senators provoking a filibuster, most likely by trying to force a confirmation vote on an out-of-the-mainstream appeals court nominee. A senator would then object, claiming that the filibuster cannot be used on a judicial nomination. Vice President Cheney or another senator presiding over the Senate would rule in the Radical Right's favor, and then that ruling would be appealed. A simple majority (with Vice President Cheney as the tie-breaking vote if necessary) would then uphold the ruling, and the filibuster would be history.

The "nuclear option" earns its alarming name for two reasons. First, it breaks the Senate rules in order to eliminate another rule: the filibuster. Under normal Senate procedures, it takes 67 senators, or two-thirds, to end debate on changing a Senate rule. The "nuclear option" would violate Senate rules and require only 50 senators plus the Vice President's tie-breaker. Second, the atmosphere in the Senate after this attack would resemble a "nuclear winter." All bipartisan cooperation would vanish and the Senate's legislative business could grind to a halt, only adding to the price Americans would pay for the right's reckless abuse of power.
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April 7, 2005



Traveling to Cancun, Mexico (or thereabouts)? Traveler beware:

State Department Issues Public Announcement for Travel to Cancun

On April 6, 2005, the U.S. State Department issued the following public announcement regarding travel to Cancun:

Mexico Public Announcement - April 06, 2005

This Public Announcement is being issued to alert U.S. citizens to the deterioration in recent weeks of local law enforcement in Cancun caused by a persistent shortage of municipal funds to pay for police and public services. Police responsiveness to emergency calls and investigation of crimes has been severely impaired, and the U.S. Consulate in Merida has received several reports of petty corruption and extortion aimed at U.S. travelers. This Public Announcement supplements the Announcement issued on January 26 and it expires on May 31.

The U.S. Consular Agency in Cancun has received numerous allegations of tourists being extorted for money by taxi drivers and malfeasant police or individuals posing as police officers. In some cases, tourists have been taken to ATM machines for immediate payment of alleged infractions. In other cases, extortion attempts occur after a motorist (typically in a rental car) is stopped for an alleged moving violation. The motorist is threatened with imprisonment if a "fine" is not immediately paid, even though there is no proof that any infraction has been committed.

Visitors to Cancun should be aware that a written citation should be received before the payment of any fine. No money should be paid directly to a police officer. If you believe you are the victim of an extortion attempt, you should make a note of the officer's name and badge number, the time and location of the incident, and the number of the patrol car if applicable, and immediately call the U.S. Consular Agency in Cancun or the U.S. Consulate in Merida....

Apparently there is some political turmoil brewing in that section of the country.
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April 6, 2005
Check out this flash video of the 14 characteristics of Fascism. Does the Bush Administration have any of them?
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"Strike against war, for without you no battles can be fought! Strike against manufacturing shrapnel and gas bombs and all other tools of murder! Strike against preparedness that means death and misery to millions of human beings! Be not dumb, obedient slaves in an army of destruction! Be heroes in an army of construction!" - - - Helen Keller. - Source: Told to an audience at Carnegie Hall one year before the United States entered World War I. From ‘Declarations of Independence’ by Howard Zinn page 75
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Republican POTYs for a Fee


From ABC News:

Doctor Named 'Physician of the Year' -- for a Fee
Apr. 5, 2005 - The good news reached the Jamestown, N.Y., office of Dr. Rudolph Mueller in a fax from a congressman in Washington. Mueller had been named 2004 Physician of the Year.

"My secretary came running in and said, 'Dr. Rudy, look at what you've won, you're Physician of the Year,' " said Mueller, an internist.

But to receive the award in person at a special two-day workshop in Washington last month, Mueller found out that he would have to make a $1,250 contribution to the National Republican Congressional Committee. It was a disturbing discovery, he said....

Read the entire article HERE.
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"Not as tyrants have we come, but as liberators."

"An evil exists that threatens every man, woman, and child of this great nation. We must take steps to ensure our domestic security and protect our homeland."

- - - Adolph Hitler
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Still Believe in America?


by Paradox:

“I believe in America.” So begins the classic The Godfather, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Of course the undertaker, immediately after proclaiming his faith in the almighty US of A, asks Marlin Brando to kill some young men who got a suspended sentence for beating up his daughter. Call it the George Bush of America™—proclaim faith in the rule of law while plotting to murder people.

I no longer believe in America, for the country I grew up in is simply gone. I know precisely when I was sure my faith vanished: the Sunday night the Supreme Court stole the Election 2000 and dumped the rule of law in the trash bin with Bush vs. Gore.

Having the election stolen from Al Gore was and is an outrage, but in my mind the damage has been far, far greater to the faith in the rule of law and, equally, the license it gave Bush and the Republicans to do whatever they wanted. Why shouldn’t they? Had it not just been empirically shown to them that they were indeed above the law?

My greatest fears have been realized over the following four years as Bush, Cheney and the GOP have behaved precisely like they answer to no one—which, of course, is the plain truth. The rule of law is dead and the United States no longer exists in anything like it’s form of only five years ago.

Scoff if you will—remember Cheney’s secret energy plan? It was just a plan for energy with meetings held in public buildings by public officials, but once Cheney was aware his great giveaway to the oil companies would be exposed he just made it secret and kept it that way. Still believe in America?

Congress, on the most flimsiest evidence imaginable, granted preemptive war powers for nothing but lies, which of course turned out to be total horseshit. Congress just sits there after being lied to and its sons and daughters killed while shelling out hundreds of billions to continue the horror. Still believe in America?

Jose Padilla is under lock and key with no charge and no plans for trial. He’s a US citizen completely stripped of his rights just on the say-so of some anonymous security official. Still believe in America?

Yesterday a Texas Senator encouraged and made excuses for domestic terrorism—violence against judges by a Senator. Still believe in America?

In California the GOP, incredibly, decided it didn’t like the results of a perfectly legitimate election for Governor and hijacked another election to nullify it just four months later. Still believe in America?

The Air Force, after reviewing irrefutable evidence that rape was widespread in its cadet officer corps, decided no administrative action was necessary for the staff of the academy. Still believe in America?

Bush was allegedly elected in 2004 yet in at least 35 states there is no way—none—to demonstrate how those votes were actually counted (this occurs precisely nowhere in the rest of the world’s democracies). Still believe in America?

I don’t. The America I knew and the rule of law are dead. Have been ever since the Supreme Court showed us all the rule of law no longer mattered.

How is it possible for Bush to get even five votes? Well, in the second debate Bush flatly stated he never said they weren’t looking for unimportant Osama anymore, but you got some wood? Incredibly, the next day the national media coverage was about how poor Dick Cheney was upset about the perfectly accurate description of his out-of-the-closet daughter as a “lesbian.” 9-11, Osama escaping, Osama not being pursued, flatly contradicting the truth of this by Bush, yet it was all outrage about a lesbian from our “liberal” media. Still believe in America?


I do not judge humans for their violations of the law, I judge them for the harm they do others. Quite conveniently that always meshes with the violation of some law, but it means nothing to me. The rule of law is dead.

I try to be the best person I can be—to my family, to myself, my fellow citizens, and to my country. In some areas I have a long way to go, obviously. But I know the right thing to do, and just because the rule of law is dead does not mean I’m going to go violate it whenever I can. Besides the obvious issue of hurting others, no matter how illegitimate the authority the cops can still coercively smash my life for not playing by their rules, so of course I keep my meek citizen profile. Just because something is dead doesn’t mean one has to raze the entire ecosystem—if there ever is any progress for the US it won’t come about my smashing it. I hope that’s clear.

What do I do? Precisely what I like—trying to be a good person while sulking and weaving out of various levels of depression as the horror show goes on—the Schiavo case, Arnie threatening to negate the California legislature this year, more deaths and mayhem every day out of Iraq. Sometimes I write, but not very well. Give money to liberal causes, hope there’s a campaign I can get excited about in 2006.

Act As If, in other words. As if it were 1998 and votes were still counted, the President actually got elected, and California held elections every four years. I don’t think it’s going to work—voting machines here still can’t be audited—but it’s the only alternative I have. I no longer believe in America, but I have to try to.
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April 5, 2005

Yet Another Potentially Big Problem for Iraq?


IRAQ: Health officials fear leishmaniasis epidemic:

BAGHDAD, 5 April (IRIN) - Health officials in Iraq are concerned following an outbreak of the disfiguring parasitic disease cutaneous leishmaniasis in Baqubah, some 120 km from the capital Baghdad, with as many as 250 new cases reported in the last two weeks.

Dr Abdul Jalil Nafi, director of the Infectious Diseases Control Centre (IDCC), told IRIN in Baghdad, that the discovery of such a high number was extremely worrying and that they feared that there could be an epidemic if prevention and control programmes were not put in place immediately.

Leishmaniasis is a disabling disease transmitted by the bite of the female sandfly. Dogs and other animals act as a source of infection from which the flies spread to humans. Rodents, especially certain species of rats, are considered the main carriers. The disease leads to disfigurement of the face and hands, and social stigma, particularly for women and children.

Known locally as the "Baghdad sore", leishmaniasis is linked to poor social conditions, especially in areas lacking sanitation and waste disposal. Baqubah has been suffering from poor sewage treatment and accumulation of rubbish in many areas around the city. "The biggest problem that we are having now is related to the poor hygiene in the area and it's something out of the control of the Ministry of Health. We depend on the cooperation of other ministries to help in the cleaning up of the city to prevent the proliferation of the flies," Nafi said. The doctor added that many areas in Iraq were suffering from poor hygiene and that poor distribution of information on prevention was compounding the problem. He explained that the most common type of leishmaniasis was urban, which is transmitted by human contact.

The rural type comes from the interaction of humans with rodents and that in poor hygiene areas the presence of rodents was very high, worsening the situation.

According to Dr Husseiny Sami, an infection specialist at the main hospital of Baqubah, the large increase in cases in such a time frame was not common. "We haven't had such a large number of cases in our city before and this makes the situation worse. We are offering treatment here but with this increase we require much more medicine to be offered as most of the families cannot afford treatments," he explained.

Prolonged systemic treatment may be necessary for the disease, according to Sami and, in endemic areas, sandflies should be controlled by spraying homes with insecticide. He added that rubbish heaps, which are breeding areas for sandflies, should be eliminated.

Dr Nabil Amin, head of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Iraq, told IRIN that although an increase could be expected during this season in the country, the numbers were larger than predicted. "We are supporting the IDCC with insecticides, instruments, lab materials for the tests and training to provide more efficient and fast diagnosis of the disease," Amin added.

The WHO has been working in partnership with Kimadia, Iraq's formerly state-run pharmaceutical company, to cover needs in the country. "All our efforts could come to nothing if the government doesn't take urgent action to reduce sewage on the streets and repair the water purification system in the country because, without it, the doors will still be open for the appearance of new diseases," Nafi maintained.

Don't worry, Iraqis. Bush-war will get "right" on it.
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Satellite Google


Google has a new feature in Google-Maps that allows you to see the satellite shot of the map. For example, I searched for Staples Center in L.A. and got THIS SHOT. Pretty Cool. When you zoom in on a map and then click "Satellite" in the upper right hand corner, the satellite image will also be zoomed!
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Creatures from the Far Right


NARAL (Pro-Choice America) has a new video that equates the leading right-wing extremists in the White House and Congress with dinosaurs attacking the Supreme Court, filling it with "anti-choice" justices. It's pretty amateurish and also funny. Check it out...
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"A highwayman is as much a robber when he plunders in a gang as when single; and a nation that makes an unjust war is only a great gang." Benjamin Franklin - Letter to Benjamin Vaughan, 14 March 1785 (B 11:16-7)
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Jim Caviezel Christ


So, just how fucked up is our judeo-christian culture? Here's a snippet from The Larry King Show of April 3, 2005 (emphasis added):

KING: We're back. Father John Morris, I know you helped work on the film, right, "The Passion of the Christ"?

MORRIS: That's right. It was a real blessing to be able to work with Jim [Caviezel]. And as you mentioned when you were asking him earlier, he certainly got to live what it was like to be like Christ there in times of difficulty, even physical difficulty. I remember one time in a special way when Jim came down, walked off the set, and he was saying to me, "What would Christ be thinking right now?" It was actually in the scene of Barabas. Remember the scene of what an ugly figure of Barabas was. And Jim was coming down. And Mel [Gibson] was there talking. And we were thinking, well, what would Jesus have been thinking at that moment. We were discussing, certainly, he would have been thinking about Barabas. And so at that moment, Jim said, "All right. Let's go back. We're going to do another cut." And we got that incredible scene in which he's looking and he's walking down the steps. Barabas is walking down the steps. And all of a sudden, there's that encounter of the eyes of Jim Caviezel, with Christ, with Barabas. And in fact, that actor has said that that look of Jim Caviezel, or Christ, whatever, was an encounter that changed his life. So it was a real blessing to be there, as well.

KING: And the Pope did love that movie, right?

MORRIS: It seems like it. He said -- what was reported was that, "It is as it was," and was kind of the final words of the Pope, from what we understood through the media. And basically, I think it goes back to the fact that the Pope was a man who had courage. And he was able to say things as they were. It doesn't mean that he was saying -- making any sort of political statement about it. He was just saying, the fact is, when you look at the truth...

KING: It is as it was, yes.

MORRIS: ... it is as it was.

KING: Well stated....

My oh my oh my. This would be quite hilarious if there weren't so many people who took this so seriously.
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More Nukes, Better Nukes


Thank god someone finally realizes that we need more and better nuclear weapons:

New Nuclear Warhead Proposed to Congress
Funds Sought for Feasibility Study

By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 5, 2005; Page A08

The head of the nation's nuclear weapons programs proposed yesterday that Congress approve funds to study the feasibility of building a new, more reliable nuclear warhead that could be deployed without nuclear testing in less than 10 years.

Saying that the current Cold War stockpile is inadequate technically and militarily, Linton F. Brooks, administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, told the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces, "We want to explore whether there is a better way to sustain existing military capabilities in our stockpile absent nuclear testing."....

We MUST DO our best to keep up with that big, overpowering military might of the United States. We MUST BUILD up our nuclear weapons program in order to keep them from pre-emptively attacking us by making sure they know that we have nuclear weapons as good as, or better than, they possess. We MUST HELP protect the rest of the world from that imperialist monstrousity known as the United States.

We MUST... Oh, wait. We are them. Oops.

So tell me again, why do we need more nuclear weapons?
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Mayhem at the Border


Go HERE to see the official website, MINUTEMANPROJECT, which is a new group of vigilantes who patrol the Arizona border, tracking down and apprehending Mexicans who are crossing the US-Mexican border into Arizona. Their "creed":

The Minuteman Project is a grassroots effort to bring Americans to the defense of their homeland, similar to the way the original Minutemen from Massachusetts (and other U. S. colonies) did in the late 1700s. Like them, we want to bring to this effort only what few personal possessions we can carry...plus our heart, mind and spirit. This call for volunteers is not a call to arms, but a call to voices seeking a peaceful and respectable resolve to the chaotic neglect by members of our local, state and federal governments charged with applying U.S. immigration law. It is a call to peacefully assemble at the Arizona-Mexico border to bring national awareness to the decades-long careless disregard of effective U.S. immigration law enforcement. It is a reminder to Americans that our nation was founded as a nation governed by the "rule of law", not by the whims of mobs of ILLEGAL aliens who endlessly stream across U.S. borders. Accordingly, the men and women volunteering for this mission are those who are willing to sacrifice their time, and the comforts of a cozy home, to muster for something much more important than acquiring more "toys" to play with while their nation is devoured and plundered by the menace of tens of millions of invading illegal aliens. Future generations will inherit a tangle of rancorous, unassimilated, squabbling cultures with no common bond to hold them together, and a certain guarantee of the death of this nation as a harmonious "melting pot."

The result: political, economic and social mayhem. Historians will write about how a lax America let its unique and coveted form of government and society sink into a quagmire of mutual acrimony among the various sub-nations that will comprise the new self-destructing America.

Sieg Heil, I guess.

What's your opinion of this?
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America - A Nation of Readers


From the HHHDC April, 2005, Newsletter:

1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.
2. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.
3. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country and who are very good at crossword puzzles.
4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand The New York Times. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.
5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country -- if they could find the time -- and if they didn't have to leave Southern California to do it.
6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.
7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the country and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.
8. The New York Post is read by people who don't care who's running the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.
9. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.
10. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure there is a country ... or that anyone is running it; but if so, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped minority feminist atheist dwarfs who also happen to be illegal aliens from any other country or galaxy provided, of course, that they are not Republicans.
11. The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.
12. None of these is read by the guy who is running the country into the ground.

See, Democrats can claim some sense of humor.
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April 4, 2005

The reason behind Chevron-Texaco's acquisition of Unocal?


This just in from ArnoldWatch:

Today's announcement of Chevron-Texaco's purchase of Unocal has a back story that could be the biggest scandal of the Schwarzenegger Administration yet. Back in July '04, some of Arnold's top brass were treated by Chevron-Texaco to an overseas trip -- it included luxury accommodations at the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney, Australia -- to sell the gov's people on why Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) should be California's new source of electricity. Today's announced merger is mostly about Chevron-Texaco's desire to corner the market on LNG, of which Unocal controls significant supplies in the Far East. It's a $16 billion bet that California will open the door to coastal LNG terminals and make the long-term commitment to gas produced electricity.

What kind of insider information could that type of bet hinge on? Arnold's campaign committees have accepted $222,200 from Chevron-Texaco. Chevron-Texaco's former lobbyist, Patricia Clarey, is now Schwarzenegger's chief of staff. There's no energy company in the state that Arnold's Administration is closer to.

But if Chevron-Texaco corners the international market on LNG, it will be in the same position to withhold electricity supply and drive up electric prices that Enron and other energy firms like Reliant and Dynegy were in five years ago. (Don't forget Chevron owned about 27% of Dynegy when the market was manipulated last time.) And reporting by the Orange County Register last year showed that Chevron-Texaco shipped three tankers full of California gasoline out of state just as California drivers were paying record prices at the pump.

The state legislature and/or California Attorney General should immediately investigate all discussions between Arnold's Administration and Chevron-Texaco about LNG and the timing of those discussions. Bechtel Corporation, a top Republican donor, stands to benefit greatly from a new LNG market by building the coastal terminals needed for it, but the energy company that controls the LNG stands to profit the most. Chevron-Texaco's campaign cash, with the help of all-expense paid trips and a lobbyist in the gov's inner circle, should not be able to buy that company a new grip on California's electricity supply. If state officials drill a little they might just find "LNG-gate" not too far below the surface.

Besides the oil companies' push to build dangerous LNG terminals in Long Beach and the along the central coast of California, they have a special interest to control the state's energy resources, hence the involvement of "Special Interest Governor" Arnold Groperzenegger.
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Maybe this will cut down rush hour traffic


LONDON (Reuters) - Oil prices have raced to all-time peaks, climbing above $58 a barrel, while OPEC producers say they have begun discussing a second output rise to try to quell the market's rally....

Hey, all you Hummer and V8 SUV owners: EAT MY PRIUS EXHAUST! (Actually, that will be difficult since the Prius is an SULEV.)
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What He Said


Corporate Assassin

By David Podvin

04/02/05 "Make Them Accountable" - - George W. Bush is a murderer, and a prolific one at that. He has deployed surrogates to kill more than one hundred thousand Iraqi civilians in a ruthless slaughter that is ongoing. The fact that he murders via remote control from the Oval Office does not confer legitimacy to his crimes. If anything, it makes them all the more despicable.

Bush is slaying people in the name of democracy, yet his commitment to democracy has already been debunked in Haiti and Venezuela, not to mention Florida and Ohio. Recently released State Department papers reveal that the former Texas governor is murdering Iraqis for the purpose of stealing their oil, which was always obvious and is now documented. There may be worse motives for killing people than thievery, but none leaps immediately to mind.

The level of cruelty involved in this theft is awe-inspiring. At Bush’s behest, the United States military has “neutralized” unarmed Iraqis by dropping cluster bombs on them, showering them with napalm, shooting them from helicopters, executing them in mosques, and torturing them in dungeons. The BBC broadcast an interview with a grieving woman whose pregnant daughter had been machine-gunned by U.S. troops, which is the one method of abortion that conservatives are willing to tolerate. As the corporate media turns a blind eye, Bush is massacring human beings who pose no danger to America.

The corpses of husbands and wives and their children decorate the Iraqi countryside courtesy of the family values president, an evil man whose malevolence provokes nary a discouraging word from the American political/journalistic establishment that avoids the truth as though it had leprosy. Viewed from the perspective of our nation’s high profile opinion makers, the Bush performance has been exemplary. He is being lauded for courageously pressing the cause of Middle East democracy while those who were less stalwart dithered. He is being congratulated for disregarding the vicissitudes of earthly opinion in order to do God’s work. Most surrealistically, he is being praised for his wisdom, which consists of making horrendous decisions and refusing to amend them.

No matter how assiduously his courtiers attempt to swaddle him in virtue, our commander-in-chief is a Hun. Bush is not stealing Iraqi oil to enhance American national security. He is plundering a conquered land to enhance petroleum industry profitability. The carnage in Iraq isn’t some horribly misguided attempt at patriotism. It is homicidal mercantilism, the use of the American military to help Exxon Mobil exceed quarterly earnings projections. While killing people for profit constitutes a competent job performance on the part of a mafia hit man, it reflects less favorably on a President of the United States.

This remains true even when journalists laud the murder of Iraqis as being heroic. It is important to remember that whether they are openly conservative or pretending to be liberal, every one of America’s prominent media personalities feeds from the corporate trough. Consequently, their views represent the consensus of big business, and facts that interfere with the goals of conglomerates are finessed or ignored. It is a gentlemen’s agreement, absent the gentlemen. Since Bush is an acolyte of Corporate America, and mainstream journalists are acolytes of Corporate America, any intramural squabbling among them is subordinated to the common cause of redistributing the world’s wealth upwards.

Redistributing wealth is exactly what Bush is doing in Iraq. Through the persuasive power of overwhelming military force, he is taking oil from primitives who are hardly equipped to handle oppressive wealth and giving it to sophisticates who specialize in these matters. Those primitives who object to this strategy are being raped, tortured, and murdered for the greater good.

In the United States, the greater good involves enriching the corporate ruling elite that consists of multinational conglomerates whose sole allegiance is to money. Despite the elaborate charade of representative government, corporations currently determine policy for America just as the Communist Party did for the Soviet Union. The corporate politburo is more sophisticated than its Bolshevik counterpart in that dissent is tolerated, but only as long as the dissent is ineffectual and in no way imperils the status quo.

Corporations exercise de facto control over the American economic system through functionaries like Alan Greenspan, whose every move during his long reign as Chairman of the Federal Reserve has been designed to transfer money from workers to their employers. Due to monetary policies favoring capital over labor, multinational conglomerates now own a majority of American assets, and aggressively wield the clout that accompanies phenomenal affluence.

Big business dominates the political system by financially underwriting both major parties and supervising them with an army of lobbyists. It also regulates the minds of the American people through a media monopoly that guides the voting public to appropriate conclusions. On those rare occasions when the public fails to conform, the desired leader can be installed by the corporate-controlled judiciary. The result is a nation replete with inspiring verbiage about egalitarianism, but one that operates based strictly on commercial interests....

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"The minority, the ruling class at present, has the schools and press, usually the Church as well, under its thumb. This enables it to organize and sway the emotions of the masses, and make its tool of them." - - - Albert Einstein
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Stop Arnold's election


If you live in California, please consider signing this petition to stop the November Special Election:


There is no good reason for having an election in November, and several crucial reasons not to:

Voters will not know if their vote counts. There will be no voter verified paper trail required in touch screen machines in 2005, and thus no way to independently audit the vote. The new law that mandates this safeguard doesn't go into effect until the regularly scheduled election in June 2006.

The Governor is demanding an election that will cost up to $70 million at a time when he himself is slashing crucial programs for lack of funding.

Campaign laws put a ‘firewall’ between candidates and initiative fundraising (and spending). Arnold, who will be a gubernatorial candidate in the June 2006 primary, wants California residents to spend $70 million for a special election this year, so he can avoid restrictions on fundraising for his initiatives.
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Here's another web site with tons of information on Social Security as well as Bush-war's plans to decimate it. Be sure to check out the video of a new TV commercial set to air shortly.
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April 2, 2005

Karol Jozef Wojtyla


- Against the Iraq war, but silent about the tyrranical death squads in Central and South America.
- Against gays, but silent on the grossly illegal and immoral sexual misconduct of his priests.
- Had a unique chance to bring the Catholic church out of the middle ages, but instead continued most of the archaic and sexist policies of the church.

May he rest in peace, and may the church come to its senses and elect a pope for the 20th century (21st would be asking too much).

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"I hate it when they say, 'He gave his life for his country.' Nobody gives their life for anything. We steal the lives of these kids. We take it away from them. They don't die for the honor and glory of their country. We kill them." - - - Admiral Gene LaRocque
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April 1, 2005



I like Juan Cole's analysis of Bush's recent speech that tied the support against the death of Terri Schiavo to the need to invade Iraq:

....How does Bush square all the violence he has unleashed in the world with his praise of "life?" What is the link between war-mongering and being "pro-life?"

It turns out that anti-abortionism is not about life at all. It is about social control. It helps establish a hierarchical society in which men are at the pinnacle and women kept barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. Likewise, the Schiavo case was in part about the religious Right dictating to Michael Schiavo how he must lead his private life.

This campaign is not really about life at all, as the examples of the raped woman or the woman whose pregnancy puts her life in danger demonstrate. It is about control, and the imposition of a minority's values on others.

And that is why the Iraq war is the perfect symbol for the anti-abortionists. Colonial conquest is always a kind of rape, but now the conquered country must bear the fetus of Bush-imposed "liberty" to term. The hierarchy is thus established. Washington is superior to Baghdad, and Iraq is feminized and deprived of certain kinds of choices.

And that is also how the Schiavo case makes sense in the end, because the religious Right feminized Michael Schiavo, made him into the pregnant woman seeking an "abortion," and wished to therefore deprive him of choice in the matter. If hierarchy is gendered, then the persons over which control is sought are always in some sense imagined as powerless women. Powerful non-fundamentalist men and uppity Third World countries that won't do as they are told are ultimately no different from feminist women seeking an abortion. All must be subdued, in the view of the Christian Right.

It is about hierarchy, power and control. It is not about life.

The moment Bush-war and his clan show the slightest real compassion for life (other than their own), I'll just know monkeys will be flying outside my window.
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My Prius Costs


Two and a half years ago I purchased a new 2002 Toyota Prius and have averaged 47 mpg.

Today's gas pump prices are $2.40/gal for Regular and $2.60/gal for Premium here in Southern California. I drive 20,000 miles per year, which means the Prius consumes 425 gallons of Regular gas per year. At current prices this amounts to $1,021 a year for gasoline purchases.

Assuming I owned an SUV typical for So. Cal., I would get 15 mpg and use Premium gas. At 20,000 miles per year my annual gasoline expenditures would be $3,467.

Thus the difference in cost of gasoline for one year between owning a Prius and an SUV is $2,446. That's not chump change for most people. My car would technically pay for itself in gas savings alone in 10 years. The Prius is cheaper to buy and seats up to five people. Additionally, the Prius is lower maintenance because the gas engine is off part of the time you're driving (less wear-and-tear, less oil breakdown and consumption). During the 50,000 miles I've driven, I have had zero problems with the car (honestly). It has automatic climate control, 6-CD player, 6-speaker stereo system, GPS, advanced security system, is fun to drive and has very decent passing power. I purchased it fully loaded, taxes, extended warranty and dealer prep included, for $26,000 total price. The newer models cost a couple of $K more, but they're built even better, have more features and get significantly better mpg. (And they do look a lot better, too). And last but not least, the car is SULEV (super ultra low emissions vehicle), which is only one step away from a zero-emissions vehicle.

The Prius is by far the best car I've ever owned (and I've owned many) and I just don't understand why more people aren't buying them.
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Extreme cycling (video)
Moscow Metro (stunning artwork inside the Moscow subway system. click each "M")
Worst music video of the year and its lyrics
Energy Drink Reviews
Finger Puppets (click "GB" first)
Properly interpreting terrorist warning signs
Dance Monkeys (flash video; some mild profanity)
How to eat 50 Peeps in 1 hour
Petals Around the Rose (mental challenge... I still haven't figure it out!)
FerryHalim Games
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Well the weight of the world is FALLING
And on my back I've been CRAWLING
The state of affairs is APPALLING
And the 6 o'clock news keeps CALLING

Well I've been trying to see the world through their eyes
Where black is white and day is night
Left is Right
Left is Right
Left is Right, For me

Well negotiations keep STALLING
The United Nations keeps CALLING
The Skeletons you're HAULING
Won't hold when you're FALLING

Put your head in the sand and you'll never know
What's waiting for you in the depths below (below)
Don't believe everything that you read
Take what you want and keep what you need



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