Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Daily Freep - Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bush Made Permanent

By Paul Krugman

As the designated political heir of a deeply unpopular president according to Gallup, President Bush has the highest disapproval rating recorded in 70 years of polling John McCain should have little hope of winning in November. In fact, however, current polls show him roughly tied with either Democrat. Skip to next paragraph

Paul Krugman Columnist Page | Blog Related Times Topics: John McCain

In part this may reflect the Democrats problems. For the most part, however, it probably reflects the perception, eagerly propagated by Mr. McCain's many admirers in the news media, that he's very different from Mr. Bush a responsible guy, a straight talker.

But is this perception at all true? During the 2000 campaign people said much the same thing about Mr. Bush; those of us who looked hard at his policy proposals, especially on taxes, saw the shape of things to come.

And a look at what Mr. McCain says about taxes shows the same combination of irresponsibility and double-talk that, back in 2000, foreshadowed the character of the Bush administration.

The McCain tax plan contains three main elements.

First, Mr. McCain proposes making almost all of the Bush tax cuts, which are currently scheduled to expire at the end of 2010, permanent. (He proposes reinstating the inheritance tax, albeit at a very low rate.)

Second, he wants to eliminate the alternative minimum tax, which was originally created to prevent the wealthy from exploiting tax loopholes, but has begun to hit the upper middle class.

Third, he wants to sharply reduce tax rates on corporate profits.

According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the overall effect of the McCain tax plan would be to reduce federal revenue by more than $5 trillion over 10 years. That's a lot of revenue loss enough to pose big problems for the governments solvency.

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Bomb Bomb Iran by Summer's End?
By Steve Weissman

When Senator John McCain serenaded reporters last April with his "Bomb Bomb Iran," I had to wonder. Was this a taste of his aging flyboy humor? Or was he telling us what to expect should he ever become president? We may never find out. If Vice President Dick Cheney has his way, he will beat McCain to the punch, possibly as soon as late May, after President George W. Bush returns from celebrating the 60th anniversary of Israel's creation.

The evidence is surprisingly public, though in several bits and pieces that fit together like a jigsaw. I hope that I'm wrong in how I've put the puzzle together, but here's how it looks to me.

On February 25 of this year, Cheney made a surprise visit to the Sultanate of Oman, a longtime military ally just across the Strait of Hormuz from Iran. He had come, an Omani official told The Associated Press, "to discuss regional security issues, including the US standoff with Iran over its nuclear program."

A little over three weeks later, Cheney returned to Oman as part of a ten-day visit to several countries in the region, including Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. While in Oman, he gave an interview to Martha Raddatz of ABC News. "Can you foresee any point where military action would be taken?" Raddatz asked. Cheney tried to downplay the question, but Raddatz persisted, asking specifically about the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which concluded that Iran had shut down its nuclear arms program five years ago.

Cheney read the NIE differently. The Iranians definitely had a program to develop a nuclear warhead, which they apparently stopped in 2003, he insisted. "We don't know whether or not they've restarted." Cheney emphasized that the Iranians were continuing with their uranium enrichment, which - he said - would give them the fissile material to make nuclear weapons. He offered no evidence that the Iranian program would or could produce the highly enriched uranium they would need to make a bomb.

"VP: Iran May Have Resumed Weapon Program," the headlines ran. "Cheney: Iran might be next US target." The Israeli web site DEBKA added that Cheney was specifically talking about possible US military action in the region to shut down Iran's nuclear program.

Punctuating Cheney's remarks, the US Navy continues to build up its forces in the region, which now include two nuclear aircraft carriers and strike groups capable of attacking Iran or defending against missile attacks from Iran. America's military brass are also chiming in. The Pentagon is considering "potential military courses of action" against Iran, warns the nation's top military officer - Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "It would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capability."

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Sniffing out a fruit-flavored trend in cocaine
DEA warns drug that tastes like candy could spread quickly across U.S.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Authorities said the cocaine seized last month came in strawberry, coconut, lemon-lime and cinnamon flavors. Federal drug agents say candy-flavored cocaine is a new and troubling development and are hoping to keep it from spreading to the rest of the country after its recent emergence in California.

Drug rings have occasionally sold cocaine mixed with candy powder, but investigators said the new product was significantly more sophisticated and lucrative. Cocaine cut with an added flavoring is less potent, but the 1 1/2 pounds seized last month were a full-strength powder into which strawberry, coconut, lemon and cinnamon flavoring had been chemically synthesized.

The flavored cocaine would command $1,100 to $1,400 an ounce on the street, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said after DEA agents and state investigators seized the flavored drugs at two homes in Modesto, Calif. Regular powder cocaine, by comparison, fetches $600 to $700 an ounce, the agency said.

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Cheney lawyer claims Congress has no authority over vice-president
by Elana Schor

The lawyer for US vice-president Dick Cheney claimed today that the Congress lacks any authority to examine his behaviour on the job.

The exception claimed by Cheney's counsel came in response to requests from congressional Democrats that David Addington, the vice-president's chief of staff, testify about his involvement in the approval of interrogation tactics used at Guantanamo Bay.

Ruling out voluntary cooperation by Addington, Cheney lawyer Kathryn Wheelbarger said Cheney's conduct is "not within the [congressional] committee's power of inquiry".

"Congress lacks the constitutional power to regulate by law what a vice-president communicates in the performance of the vice president's official duties, or what a vice president recommends that a president communicate," Wheelbarger wrote to senior aides on Capitol Hill.

The exception claimed by Cheney's office recalls his attempt last year to evade rules for classified documents by deeming the vice-president's office a hybrid branch of government - both executive and legislative.

The Democratic congressman who is investigating the legal framework for the violent interrogation of terrorist suspects, John Conyers, has asked Addington and several other top Bush administration lawyers to testify. Thus far all have claimed their deliberations are privileged.

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Petraeus, Falling Upwards - Selling the President's General
By Tom Engelhardt

You simply can't pile up enough adjectives when it comes to the general, who, at a relatively young age, was already a runner-up for Time Magazine's Person of the Year in 2007. His record is stellar. His tactical sense extraordinary. His strategic ability, when it comes to mounting a campaign, beyond compare.

I'm speaking, of course, of General David Petraeus, the President's surge commander in Iraq and, as of last week, the newly nominated head of U.S. Central Command (Centcom) for all of the Middle East and beyond -- "King David" to those of his peers who haven't exactly taken a shine to his reportedly "high self-regard." And the campaign I have in mind has been his years' long wooing and winning of the American media, in the process of which he sold himself as a true American hero, a Caesar of celebrity.

As far as can be told, there's never been a seat in his helicopter that couldn't be filled by a friendly (or adoring) reporter. This, after all, is the man who, in the summer of 2004, as a mere three-star general being sent back to Baghdad to train the Iraqi army, made Newsweek's cover under the caption, "Can This Man Save Iraq?" (The article's subtitle -- with the "yes" practically etched into it -- read: "Mission Impossible? David Petraeus Is Tasked with Rebuilding Iraq's Security Forces. An Up-close Look at the Only Real Exit Plan the United States Has -- the Man Himself").

And, oh yes, as for his actual generalship on the battlefield of Iraq… Well, the verdict may still officially be out, but the record, the tactics, and the strategic ability look like they will not stand the test of time. But by then, if all goes well, he'll once again be out of town and someone else will take the blame, while he continues to fall upwards. David Petraeus is the President's anointed general, Bush's commander of commanders, and (not surprisingly) he exhibits certain traits much admired by the Bush administration in its better days.

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McCain Vs. McCain
He seems to think he can magically unite the two main strands in the foreign-policy establishment. He can't.
by Fareed Zakaria

Amid the din of the dueling democrats, people seem to have forgotten about that other guy in the presidential race - you know, John McCain. McCain is said to be benefiting from this politically because his rivals are tearing each other apart. In fact, few people are paying much attention to what the Republican nominee is saying, or subjecting it to any serious scrutiny.

On March 26, McCain gave a speech on foreign policy in Los Angeles that was billed as his most comprehensive statement on the subject. It contained within it the most radical idea put forward by a major candidate for the presidency in 25 years. Yet almost no one noticed.

In his speech McCain proposed that the United States expel Russia from the G8, the group of advanced industrial countries. Moscow was included in this body in the 1990s to recognize and reward it for peacefully ending the cold war on Western terms, dismantling the Soviet empire and withdrawing from large chunks of the old Russian Empire as well. McCain also proposed that the United States should expand the G8 by taking in India and Brazil - but pointedly excluded China from the councils of power.

We have spent months debating Barack Obama's suggestion that he might, under some circumstances, meet with Iranians and Venezuelans. It is a sign of what is wrong with the foreign-policy debate that this idea is treated as a revolution in U.S. policy while McCain's proposal has barely registered. What McCain has announced is momentous - that the United States should adopt a policy of active exclusion and hostility toward two major global powers. It would reverse a decades-old bipartisan American policy of integrating these two countries into the global order, a policy that began under Richard Nixon (with Beijing) and continued under Ronald Reagan (with Moscow). It is a policy that would alienate many countries in Europe and Asia who would see it as an attempt by Washington to begin a new cold war.

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Half of Vets Suffering Brain and Mind Injuries Go Untreated, But Pentagon Pretends Nothing's Going on
An activist travels to the DoD's annual suicide prevention conference, only to find the military brass living in a parallel universe.
By Penny Coleman

The silverbacks are grooming and posturing at the microphones.

Cammo and khaki, wall to wall. Bob Ireland, an Air Force psychiatrist and consultant to the Air Force Surgeon General, welcomes the audience to the Department of Defense's sixth annual Suicide Prevention Conference and makes jokes about how suicide prevention has been the DoD's bastard child, homeless and parentless.

In January 2008, the child nobody wanted finally managed to find a home. The Defense Center of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury assumed responsibility for an issue and an injury that the military has hidden and denied for generations.

It's been left up to Lt. Col. Steven Pflanz, the senior psychiatry policy analyst for the Air Force surgeon general, to report on the mental healthcare practices that have been developed for those on active duty. Kerry Knox, director of the VA's Center for Excellence on Suicide Prevention, was scheduled to share with him these introductory remarks, but is not in attendance. Apologies are made, but no one mentions how obviously difficult it would be for her to get into the self-congratulatory HOOAH! spirit of this conference when her boss just got busted big time for hiding VA suicide statistics, not just to the media but to Congress as well.

"Shh!" Ira Katz, the VA's mental health director, coyly began an email to the agency's chief communications director -- and inconveniently made public just this week. "Our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1,000 suicide attempts per month among the veterans we see in our medical facilities. Is this something we should (carefully) address ourselves in some sort of release before someone stumbles on it?"

Ach, Katz, you little schemer.

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Wash. Post’s Murray: ‘Just wait’ until after the primaries for media to scrutinize McCain.

In a Washington Post discussion yesterday, Post reporter Shailagh Murray inadvertently admitted that the media is currently scrutinizing Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) less than they potentially could:

Q: Will we see more scrutiny of his campaign finances and practices, or will Obama/Wright continue to suck up all the oxygen?

MURRAY: This is driving Democrats crazy right now, but just wait. Once the primary battle is over, Sen. McCain will get his fair share of scrutiny.

Asked about the statement from Murray in his weekly discussion, the Post’s Howard Kurtz said this attitude is the wrong one:

KURTZ: We don’t have unlimited resources, but I think we need to be covering McCain as vigorously now as in the fall. I mean, it’s not like he’s laying on a beach somewhere, he’s out there campaigning. One pet peeve of mine is when reporters don’t cover an issue because the candidates are avoiding it, thus allowing them to set the agenda.

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Neutron Stooge
by Mister Leonard Pierce

the moron goes away

Well, it looks like Dafydd ab Hugh and Orson Scott Card have competition for the title of Most Obnoxious Right-Wing Sci-Fi Melvin:

Now a fixture at Department of Homeland Security science and technology conferences, SIGMA is a loosely affiliated group of science fiction writers who are offering pro bono advice to anyone in government who want their thoughts on how to protect the nation.

The fact that my tax dollars are going to buy juice and cookies for these schmendricks makes me feel all warm inside.

The group has the ear of Department of Homeland Security Undersecretary Jay Cohen, head of the science and technology directorate, who has said he likes their unconventional thinking.

“There’s no idea so asinine that this administration won’t give it serious consideration,” said Cohen, just before his meeting with Gene Ray of Timecube.

Members of the group recently offered a rambling, sometimes strident string of ideas at a panel discussion promoting the group at the DHS science and technology conference.

Rambling, you say? Strident? Could you provide an example?

Among the group’s approximately 24 members is Larry Niven, the bestselling and award-winning author of such books as “Ringworld”. Niven said a good way to help hospitals stem financial losses is to spread rumors in Spanish within the Latino community that emergency rooms are killing patients in order to harvest their organs for transplants.

I…uh…well! That’s, uh, that’s rambling and strident all right!

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Toronto Freedom Festival

What does freedom mean to you? In six words, it seems like such a simple question. The answer becomes more elusive as we search closer for its meaning. Put simply, the Toronto Freedom Festival believes that freedom entails an individuals right to choose for oneself. However, in order to accurately make any decision in any area of our lives - we must be responsible as human beings and know all of the facts. It is with this notion in mind that I welcome you to the 2nd Annual Toronto Freedom Festival and encourage you to enjoy an idea-provoking experience, offering thoughtful and passionate groups a forum to expose their ideas, and facts, of how they express their ideas to thousands of other forward-thinking individuals.

So what do we have in store for you? In maintaining the TFF vision of Freedom, an explosion of talent, awareness, innovation and passion will scatter across Queens Park on Saturday, May 3rd. Our Speak Free stage will present the words and wisdom of important figures in our community including Canada's renowned Prince of Pot, Mark Emery, CHRY News Now host and spoken word artist, Lady Loxx, Law Enforcement Against Prohibitions Alison Mryden, Nora Wolf, Reiki Master, meditation leader and many more. Waxing philosophic on topics such as the freedom to not be extricated, freedom of expression, freedom from bad prohibition, freedom to party responsibly and the freedom to be, our presenters will encourage festival goers to respect ones right to speak freely.

I am incredibly proud to announce that TFF has partnered with the iconic Tommy Chong to express some of his ideas about freedom. TFF will be screening Tommy's engaging documentary a/k/a Tommy Chong, which tells his enraging story of being targeted during the U.S. War on Drugs and how and why he was arrested and ultimately put in jail for nine months.

Tommy's story is symbolic of our struggle for that ever-elusive state of being: freedom. If you are not outraged at something, you're doing something wrong.

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RIP Albert Hofmann

Albert Hofmann, the mystical Swiss chemist who gave the world LSD, the most powerful psychotropic substance known, died Tuesday at his hilltop home near Basel, Switzerland. He was 102.

The cause was a heart attack, said Rick Doblin, founder and president of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a California-based group that in 2005 republished Dr. Hofmann's 1979 book "LSD: My Problem Child."

Dr. Hofmann first synthesized the compound lysergic acid diethylamide in 1938 but did not discover its psychopharmacological effects until five years later, when he accidentally ingested the substance that became known to the 1960s counterculture as acid.

He then took LSD hundreds of times, but regarded it as a powerful and potentially dangerous psychotropic drug that demanded respect. More important to him than the pleasures of the psychedelic experience was the drug's value as a revelatory aid for contemplating and understanding what he saw as humanity's oneness with nature. That perception, of union, which came to Dr. Hofmann as almost a religious epiphany while still a child, directed much of his personal and professional life.

Dr. Hofmann went on to study chemistry at Zurich University because, he said, he wanted to explore the natural world at the level where energy and elements combine to create life. He earned his Ph.D. there in 1929, when he was just 23. He then took a job with Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, attracted by a program there that sought to synthesize pharmacological compounds from medicinally important plants.

It was during his work on the ergot fungus, which grows in rye kernels, that he stumbled on LSD, accidentally ingesting a trace of the compound one Friday afternoon in April 1943. Soon he experienced an altered state of consciousness similar to the one he had experienced as a child.

On the following Monday, he deliberately swallowed a dose of LSD and rode his bicycle home as the effects of the drug overwhelmed him. That day, April 19, later became memorialized by LSD enthusiasts as "bicycle day."

After his discovery of LSD's properties, Dr. Hofmann spent years researching sacred plants. With his friend R. Gordon Wasson, he participated in psychedelic rituals with Mazatec shamans in southern Mexico. He succeeded in synthesizing the active compounds in the Psilocybe mexicana mushroom, which he named psilocybin and psilocin. He also isolated the active compound in morning glory seeds, which the Mazatec also used as an intoxicant, and found that its chemical structure was close to that of LSD.

He and his wife, Anita, who died recently, reared four children in Basel. A son died of alcoholism at 53. Survivors include several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Daily Freep - Tuesday, April 29, 2008


The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentlewoman from New York (Ms. Clarke) is recognized for 5 minutes.

MS. YVETTE D. CLARKE, D-NY: Mr. Speaker, yesterday, both the Washington Post and the New York Times reported that under the Bush administration the military has increasingly granted so-called "conduct waivers" to allow more people with criminal records, including drug convictions, to serve in the Armed Forces. As a matter of fact, conduct waivers granted for felonies and other crimes constitute the majority of all waivers, about 60 percent for the Army, and 75 percent for the Marine Corps.

It is important to note that the vast majority of such convictions stem from juvenile offenses, but at the same time, a provision of the Higher Education Act, which Congress is currently in the process of reauthorizing, bars young people with drug convictions from receiving Federal financial aid to go to college. I find it absolutely alarming that the Bush administration seems to think that youth who are prone to youthful indiscretions and get into trouble with drug use are, on the one hand, not worthy of Federal support to obtain a college education, but on the other hand, are perfectly fit to go and to fight the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Because of what many have termed the "Drug War Draft," countless students with minor drug convictions are turned away from the university financial aid office only to be funneled across the street to the military recruiting office. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with giving young people with past drug convictions an opportunity to redeem themselves in service to our country by joining the armed services, it is a moral outrage that current law blocks redemption through educational opportunities to these same individuals.

When asked about the conduct waivers, the Army's Operations Chief Lieutenant General James Thurman stated, "You've got to give people a opportunity to serve." Well, I thoroughly agree with the general, people should be able to contribute to this society in whatever way they best can, whether by enlisting in the military or by enrolling in school and obtaining the skills needed to become productive members of our workforce, our communities, and by extension, our Nation.

How to Cook with the Sun

solar-cooker.pngWeb site Ecobites details how to cook with the power of the sun with your own DIY solar cooker. In a nutshell, the author rounded up a bit of plywood and aluminum foil to create a reflective parabolic surface capable of focusing the heat of the sun to the cooking surface—another great idea to add to the list of unconventional heat/fire-starting methods.

That's the message from a couple of analytical energy industry trackers, both of whom, based on the surging oil prices, see considerably more pain at the pump than most drivers realize.

Gasoline nationally is in an accelerated upswing, having jumped to $3.58 a gallon from $3.50 in just the past week. In some parts of the country, including New York City and the West Coast, gas is already sporting a price tag above $4 a gallon. There was a pray-in at a Chevron station in San Francisco on Friday led by a minister asking God for cheaper gas, and an Arco gas station in San Mateo, Calif., has already raised its price to a sky-high $4.62.

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A giant inflatable pig scrawled with the words 'Don't Be Led To The Slaughter' floats over the crowd during the third and final day of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., Sunday, April 27, 2008.

Supreme Court Endorses Voter ID

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board that "states may require voters to present photo identification before casting ballots, upholding "an Indiana state law that requires voters to show a current government-sponsored photo ID." The law is generally regarded as the strictest in the nationbecause it "requires a voter to present a photograph as part of an unexpired document issued either by Indiana or the federal government." In most cases, such a requirement "can be satisfied only by a current driver's license or a passport," which critics "say discourages voting among the elderly and the poor." The lead opinion, written by Justice John Paul Stevens, argued that Indiana has a "valid interest in protecting 'the integrity and reliability of the electoral process." However, "the case contained 'no evidence' of the type of voter fraud the law was ostensibly devised to detect and deter." Writing in dissent, Justice David Souter "said that for those on whom the law had an impact, the burden was 'serious' and the state had failed to justify it." Though the ruling leaves "the door open to future lawsuits" that provide more evidence of discouragement and disenfranchisement, critics of voter ID laws worry "that a more likely outcome than successful lawsuits would be the spread of measures that would keep some legitimate would-be voters from the polls." Yesterday's decision "is not the end of the story on voter ID," said Wendy Weiser, Deputy Director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. "Now it's up to legislators and courts" in the states to decide "if they are going to follow Indiana's lead" or "if they're going to protect the right to vote for all Americans."

SPREADING THROUGH THE STATES: Voting experts believe that "far from settling the debate over voter identification," the court's ruling "is likely to lead to more laws and litigation." "The court's opinion is likely to perform the same function for the photo ID debate as the Pennsylvania primary did for the Democratic presidential nomination -- hardening positions while doing little if anything to illuminate a path to resolving the conflict," says Doug Chapin, director of the Pew Center on the States. Currently, seven states require photo ID to vote, and another 18 mandate non-photo ID. This year alone, at least 10 states have considered photo ID measures, while "lawmakers in at least four states may seek to pass stricter regulations in the next year or so." The court's ruling in the Indiana case reignites debates in states that recently ruled on voter ID laws. The Texas Senate rejected a photo ID requirement in 2007, but now, "the Republican-controlled Legislature will probably be recalled to work on a new ID measure," according to voting experts. The Missouri Supreme Court struck down an ID law in 2006, but now, "Missouri lawmakers, who are in session, are likely to be encouraged in an effort to put the question on the ballot."

In his dissenting opinion, Souter noted that Indiana adopted its excessively restrictive voter ID law "without a shred of evidence that in-person voter impersonation is a problem in the state, much less a crisis." In fact, the evidence cited by Stevens in his lead opinion is so thin that he was forced to go back to the era of Boss Tweed -- 140 years ago -- "to describe the corrosive effects of widespread fraud at polling places." Of the 38 cases of voter fraud the Justice Department prosecuted between 2002 and 2005, 14 were thrown out. In fact, due to a lack of credible studies to back up their allegations of voter fraud, conservatives have been forced to establish a front group led by the general counsel of the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign to create such reports. Despite the lack of evidence that voter fraud is a problem, the court's ruling places "virtually all the burden of proof on plaintiffs seeking to argue that laws illegally restrict their voting rights," which experts say "makes it much tougher for voting rights groups to prevail in court."

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How we really decide the interest rate - Ouija!
By Ben Bernanke

I get a lot of emails in my Federal Reserve inbox from ordinary people like you saying "I am about to lose my house. Do something!"

Why is that my fault? Did I tell you to listen to the mortgage broker when he said to pick a number between one and a million and he would write it down as your annual income?

If you go to the Federal Reserve website you will see that our job is to "conduct the nation's monetary policy" and "provide left-handed pinch-hitting power off the bench." I made up that last one to see if you were paying attention. That's the problem -- what we do is so boring nobody gives a flying fuck at a rolling donut until there's an auctioneer on their front lawn.

That's why we use a Ouija board at the Fed.

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More LADWP Doublespeak as Green Path North Survey Markers are Removed

On April 26, the Sierra Club led a scenic tour and hike of the Big Morongo Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) with the intent of learning more about a serious threat to the desert posed by the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power's (LADWP's) proposed Green Path North (GPN) power line project. The hiking group, while dazzled by the spring beauty of this remote area of protected land, was also surprised to find that LADWP survey markers, put in place by the utility along its preferred route for Green Path North, have been scrupulously removed.

Exactly one month ago, on March 26, LADWP CEO and General Manager David Nahai had spoken with CBS 2 News of Palm Springs regarding the explosive controversy that has erupted over the markers installed on both private and public lands. In that interview Nahai said, "Survey markers were put down as a result of the requirements of BLM and were there to establish boundaries of wilderness areas in order to avoid them."

Nahai's March statement, seemingly calculated to allay the fears of citizens in affected desert communities, is fraught with inaccuracies. The truth is the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) did not require the markers, and the majority of markers had been placed far from, rather than on the boundaries of, areas designated as wilderness (although in some cases, appallingly deep within environmentally sensitive, protected lands).

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Beijing - The Codex Food Additives Committee Meeting
By Scott C. Tips

Seventeen hours after the tires of my Air China jet settled comfortably onto the runway at Beijing International Airport, I was sitting at the National Health Federations place in the 40th Session of the Codex Committee on Food Additives (CCFA) week-long meeting at the Asia Hotel in downtown Beijing on Monday morning, April 21st. The weather had not cooperated as it rained incessantly, making available taxis as scarce as condom dispensers in the Vatican. Nor did it help that I could not speak a word of Mandarin Chinese; English, French, and bad German can only get you so far, even in this international city. But, I made it, sliding into NHF's seat in time to hear CCFA Chairman Dr. Junshi Chen's opening remarks.

The NHF is the only Codex-accredited health-freedom organization with the right to attend Codex committee meetings such as this one. In fact, although the NHF has for years been attending many other Codex committee and commission meetings - in Germany, Canada, France, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, and Thailand - this CCFA meeting was the first for us.

In his opening remarks, the Chairman proudly told us that 65 countries and 13 INGOs (International Non-Governmental Organizations), totaling 262 registered delegates, were in attendance. I could see that the NHF was the only consumer organization in attendance. The rest of the room was filled with government officials, bureaucratic functionaries, and diverse industry representatives. Strange, no other consumer groups were in sight - I was alone in a sea of government-industry group hugs.

Why We Fight

As we have stressed for years, even decades, the artificial sweeteners Aspartame, Neotame, and Sucralose are dangerous food additives that have been shown to harm health. All three have caused adverse events in consumers and are best avoided. Yet, this Committee has seen fit to advance these three substances along the path to approval. Once approved as Codex food additives, these artificial sweeteners would then be legally adoptable virtually worldwide.

You see, what is not well known - and certainly not well publicized - is the fact that the developing countries of the World are adopting into their own national regulations Codex standards hot off the press. In fact, some of these countries are so eager to adopt Codex food standards that they are not even waiting until the Codex Alimentarius Commission itself approves and adopts the standards - they are adopting the draft Codex standards! That is how desperate they are for these standards. Many of these countries are actually required to adopt Codex standards.

So, as soon as these food-additive standards are approved - maybe even before - they will be pressed into national service throughout the World. Codex has a multiplier effect previously unseen on this planet.

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The Beatles Endorse Barack Obama

Wis. parents who prayed as diabetic daughter died charged

WESTON, Wis. - Two parents who prayed as their 11-year-old daughter died of untreated diabetes were charged Monday with second-degree reckless homicide. ADVERTISEMENT

Family and friends had urged Dale and Leilani Neumann to get help for their daughter, but the father considered the illness "a test of faith" and the mother never considered taking the girl to the doctor because she thought her daughter was under a "spiritual attack," the criminal complaint said.

"It is very surprising, shocking that she wasn't allowed medical intervention," Marathon County District Attorney Jill Falstad said. "Her death could have been prevented."

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What a Deal or No Deal Model Is Thinking
by Frank Ferri

Don’t blow it. Do not blow this.

You’ve practiced all week, you can open this case with your eyes closed. But keep your eyes open when the time comes. Don’t get fancy.

11. Whew. O.K., not me. Good.

11 and 8 are so lucky. They don’t even have to worry whether they’re holding their cases right side up.

How should I play it if I get called? Do I do the old slow-open? I love that one. Nailed it in my tryout. Open it a crack, give it a peek and make an upset face. Then open it all the way and let them know it was actually a good choice. The audience always likes that one.

25. That was close.

But then again there’s something to be said for the quick-open. Boom! Right away let them know what’s in the case. I think the player appreciates that. After all, it is about the player.

What the heck is up with Howie’s soul patch?

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Wolfensohn `Pessimistic' as Financial Losses Rise
By Brian Swint

April 28 (Bloomberg) -- Former World Bank President James Wolfensohn said he's ``pessimistic'' on the outlook for financial markets and predicted losses from the global credit turmoil may climb to $1 trillion.

``I'm more pessimistic than optimistic,'' Wolfensohn, 74, said an interview today in London. ``That doesn't necessarily mean a crash, but it means we're not through the woods yet. There are continued dangers.''

U.S. Treasury Undersecretary Robert Steel forecast last week that tighter credit conditions ``will take a while to work through.'' Banks worldwide have reported more than $309 billion of writedowns and credit losses caused by the U.S. subprime collapse and the seizure in credit markets.

``It does seem to be a major adjustment on any level,'' Wolfensohn said, after addressing the European Pensions and Savings Summit 2008. ``There may be a $1,000 billion worth of losses in it somewhere.'' He said he ``cannot recall anything similar, certainly in the last 30 to 40 years that I've worked.''

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Iraqi political leaders protest U.S. siege of Sadr City
By Hussein Kadhim and Raviya H. Ismail

BAGHDAD, Iraq About 50 leaders representing a variety of Iraqi political blocs took to Baghdad's Sadr City on Sunday, a stronghold of fiery religious leader Muqtada al Sadr, to protest the U.S.-led siege of that area.

The leaders promised to work together with Sadrists to remove insurgents and weapons in the area. But they also had six other demands of the government, including that it immediately suspend military activity in the city, supply basic services to residents and prioritize peaceful solutions over military conflicts.

"Whatever point the crisis reaches we will keep our efforts to put an end to it," said Ahmed Radhi, a member of the Iraqi Accordance Front, the largest Sunni Muslim bloc. Radhi said the leaders formed a committee to meet with Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki to solve problems plaguing Sadr City.

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Newspaper circulation falls 3.6 percent
By Robert MacMillan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. newspaper circulation fell 3.6 percent in the latest set of figures released by an industry group on Monday, reflecting a migration of readers to the Internet and publishers' efforts to streamline their businesses.

The figures were released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations and compared the six months ending in March 2008 with the same period a year earlier.

Weekday paid circulation at many of the top 25 U.S. papers fell, though some papers, including Gannett Co Inc's USA Today and News Corp's Wall Street Journal, reported gains of less than 1 percent.

Weekday circulation at The New York Times fell 3.85 percent while Tribune Co's Los Angeles Times reported a drop of 5.13 percent.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Daily Freep - Monday, April 28, 2008

What The Iraq War Is About
By Paul Craig Roberts

The Bush Regime has quagmired America into a sixth year of war in Afghanistan and Iraq with no end in sight. The cost of these wars of aggression is horrendous. Official US combat casualties stand at 4,538 dead. Officially, 29,780 US troops have been wounded in Iraq. Experts have argued that these numbers are understatements. Regardless, these numbers are only the tip of the iceberg.

On April 17, 2008, AP News reported that a new study released by the RAND Corporation concludes that "some 300,000 U.S. troops are suffering from major depression or post traumatic stress from serving in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 320,000 received brain injuries."

On April 21, 2008, OpEdNews reported that an internal email from Gen. Michael J. Kussman, undersecretary for health at the Veterans Administration, to Ira Katz, head of mental health at the VA, confirms a McClatchy Newspaper report that 126 veterans per week commit suicide. To the extent that the suicides are attributable to the war, more than 500 deaths should be added to the reported combat fatalities each month.

Turning to Iraqi deaths, expert studies support as many as 1.2 million dead Iraqis, almost entirely civilians. Another 2 million Iraqis have fled their country, and there are 2 million displaced Iraqis within Iraq.

Afghan casualties are unknown.

Both Afghanistan and Iraq have suffered unconscionable civilian deaths and damage to housing, infrastructure and environment. Iraq is afflicted with depleted uranium and open sewers.

Then there are the economic costs to the US. Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz estimates the full cost of the invasion and attempted occupation of Iraq to be between $3 trillion and $5 trillion. The dollar price of oil and gasoline have tripled, and the dollar has lost value against other currencies, declining dramatically even against the lowly Thai baht. Before Bush launched his wars of aggression, one US dollar was worth 45 baht. Today the dollar is only worth 30 baht.

The US cannot afford these costs. Prior to his resignation last month, US Comptroller General David Walker reported that the accumulated unfunded liabilities of the US government total $53 trillion dollars. The US government cannot cover these liabilities. The Bush Regime even has to borrow the money from foreigners to pay for its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is no more certain way to bankrupt the country and dethrone the dollar as world reserve currency.

The moral costs are perhaps the highest. All of the deaths, injuries, and economic costs to the US and its victims are due entirely to lies told by the President and Vice President of the US, by the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Advisor, the Secretary of State, and, of course, by the media, including the "liberal" New York Times. All of these lies were uttered in behalf of an undeclared agenda. "Our" government has still not told "we the people" the real reasons "our" government invaded Afghanistan and Iraq.Instead, the American sheeple have accepted a succession of transparent lies: weapons of mass destruction, al Qaeda connections and complicity in the 9/11 attack, overthrowing a dictator and "bringing democracy" to Iraqis.

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Zoinks! The Pot Vending Machine Has Been Stolen by the Feds!
By G.M. Gardner

Remember the recent report about a medicinal marijuana vending machine opening in Los Angeles? If not, read MSNBCs article here. Well, I live around the block from the cannabis dispensary that was home to that beautiful machine. The HNC is clean, quiet, and everyone who works there is really nice. This evening, as I was taking my Friday night constitutional down to the 7-11 for beer, a horrible sight sprang into view:

Guess who came calling? The DEA. The dispensary's manager, who was walking around outside when I strolled by, told me that a group of federal thugs agents smashed not only the ten-foot window you see above, but also over twenty glass display cases inside. They then proceeded to steal all the medicine (Super Silver Haze and OG Kush going the fastest.) This isnt the first raid, either. The HNC was smashed to pieces last year by the DEA, on suspicion of carrying too much medicine, but were quickly cleared of any wrongdoing. The Feds just wanted to rattle them up a bit. However, the first DEA raid led the HNC owner to install that headline-grabbing vending machine in lieu of another break-in. He figured they would just take the machine and leave the interior of the dispensary intact. Nope!

Remember, this is a state certified business. It is legally entitled to operate in every way under California law and was doing absolutely nothing wrong. Dont think were living under the thumb of soft fascism? Even if you dont use cannabis, or for some reason have a problem with others using it, you should be disturbed by your federal governments continued abuse of states rights.

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Causes of Poverty
by Anup Shah

  • Half the world nearly three billion people live on less than two dollars a day.
  • The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the 41 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (567 million people) is less than the wealth of the worlds 7 richest people combined.
  • Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.
  • Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didnt happen.
  • 1 billion children live in poverty (1 in 2 children in the world). 640 million live without adequate shelter, 400 million have no access to safe water, 270 million have no access to health services. 10.6 million died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5 (or roughly 29,000 children per day).

Poverty is the state for the majority of the worlds people and nations. Why is this? Is it enough to blame poor people for their own predicament? Have they been lazy, made poor decisions, and been solely responsible for their plight? What about their governments? Have they pursued policies that actually harm successful development? Such causes of poverty and inequality are no doubt real. But deeper and more global causes of poverty are often less discussed.

Behind the increasing interconnectedness promised by globalization are global decisions, policies, and practices. These are typically influenced, driven, or formulated by the rich and powerful. These can be leaders of rich countries or other global actors such as multinational corporations, institutions, and influential people.

In the face of such enormous external influence, the governments of poor nations and their people are often powerless. As a result, in the global context, a few get wealthy while the majority struggle.

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The Making of 5 Modern Marvels of Engineering: Construction Truths Behind Contemporary Wonders
Historic Engineering Construction

Even today modern wonders of engineering like the Eiffel Tower and the Golden Gate Bridge inspire awe (and songs and works of art). A quick look at their origins, however, can turn awe to amazement and astonishment. Each of the five projects listed here took their toll financially and were paid for in part with human lives. Some cost more than the GDP of a small country to construct and others were completed with tens of thousands of people lost in the process. A few were predicted centuries before their time and others were attempted multiple times and faced numerous setbacks before they could be completed.

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send someone to hell today

It is now possible to send yourself or someone you know deep into the pits of Hell to live a terrible life after death, but how?

Reserve A Spot In Hell is here for the sole purpose of allowing you the opportunity to secure yourself (or someone else) a spot within the depths of Hell. We understand that some people would rather live a life of crime and trickery and Heaven just doesnt sound too appealing. Maybe the idea of floating around in Heaven, holding hands and singing songs doesnt sound like your thing and you would rather be indulging yourself in hardcore drugs, consuming massive quantities of alcohol and committing all sorts of random acts of violence and crime. Or maybe you have someone that you dont like and you want to make sure they suffer for the rest of their life. Either way, we are here to help.

Finally, here's your chance to reserve and guarantee

How would you feel if the end of your days came, and you were told that you needed to report in to the pearly gates. You had been waiting your entire life for this. Every moment was spent doing good deeds and loving those around you with the hopes of one day getting into Heaven. You finally make it through the gates and you realize you want to grab a drink with some old friends, but you find out they dont have any alcohol. You then begin a search to find some good porn movies, but those arent anywhere to be found either. Hell, you cant even find a TV set. You then realize the things you enjoyed in your earthly life arent anywhere to be found. If only you had reserved your spot in Hell, this wouldnt of been a problem. Now you are forced to spend the rest of eternity being happy and smiling. Or let's look at it from another angle. Maybe you have an ex-wife or mother in law who did you wrong during your time on earth but you figured they were on a one way path to Heaven, and you want them to suffer in Hell. Rest assured, they can, and will. We can fulfill these wishes and we guarantee it.

What sounds better, singing songs and reading books in Heaven, or taking shots with strippers in Hell?

We'll let you decide

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Lilly's Dilemma
by Susan Estrich

Lilly Ledbetter was nearing 60 and on the verge of retirement when someone sent her an anonymous letter telling her that for the preceding 19 years, she'd been earning less than her male counterparts at Goodyear Tire and Rubber. On the day she started work as a supervisor in 1979, she was paid the same as men in the same job. But by 1998, when that letter arrived and Lilly consulted a lawyer, she was making $15,000 a year less than a man with the same experience doing the same job.

So she sued.

A federal jury found that over the course of her career, she lost out on upward of a quarter of a million dollars in pay because of discrimination, and the jury awarded her interest and penalties that brought the award to almost $4 million. The judge reduced the award to $360,000. The Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, got rid of it entirely.

Lilly's failing, in their mind, was that she should have sued back in 1980, when her pay started falling behind that of her male counterpart. According to the law as read by the Court, she had only 180 days to complain about discriminatory pay or she was stuck with it. By the time she filed suit in 1998, the first 18 years of being shafted didn't count anymore, and the last 180 days the only time period the five men on the Court who voted against her thought could be counted was just the residue of the way things had been done all those years, not some new and intentional effort to pay her less. Business as usual. No recovery.

This week, the Senate failed in its effort to overrule that particular decision of the Supreme Court.At a time when women, no matter what their education, job classification, experience or ability, still earn on average 77 cents for every dollar men earn, Republican presidential candidate John McCain skipped the vote. But he took time to make clear that he opposes the bill because he thinks government has no business telling employers they will be held responsible for underpaying women unless those women complain about it in the first 180 days. By a 56-42 vote (60 votes are required by Senate rules to cut off debate), the Republican minority voted to protect business at the expense of working women.

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by Jim Hightower

Poor Al he's all resume, no job. Sort of a yuppyfied version of "All hat, no cattle."

And what a resum he has: graduate of Harvard law school; a Republican political prodigy in Texas; state supreme court justice at an early age; chief lawyer for the President of the United States; and then to put the cherry on the political banana split he became U.S. attorney general, America's top lawyer. Yet, now, the guy is reduced to carrying a hand-written cardboard sign at the intersection saying, "Will work for $600 an hour."

Alberto Gonzales can't get a job. While junior staffers from his own department are being snagged for high-paying influence-peddling jobs in Washington, Al can't get a bite. Having been forced to resign as attorney general, the Texan who flowered in the manure of George W's corporate-financed rise to power has been putting out feelers to the very corporate law firms that fueled his rise to the legal heights. But, alas, no takers. As one principal of a powerhouse Washington law firm gently said of Gonzales's failed application, "I wouldn't say rebuffed. I would say not taken up."

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While the future looks bleak, there is good news in the effort to curb environmental damage
By Connie Tuttle

After several decades celebrating Earth Day each April (though Tucson's been officially at it only 14 years), it seems we're more interested in festivals than taking on the challenge of cleaning up the mess we created after deciding fossil derivatives were the answer to everything: increased food production with fertilizers! Better living through hi-tech warfare! Fuel engines replacing manual labor for every imaginable task!

Though a few Cassandras issued warnings almost no one cared to hear, for a couple of hundred years, we were led down the merry path of "progress" fueled by coal and oil: visions of endless bounty and improving "living standards," and parents buying into the notion of children having it "better" than they did without stopping to ask what, exactly, was meant by better, or why better seemed always linked to "more" and "newest."

Our cultural narrative is a fiction based on the worst characteristics of human nature combined with an exploitive economic system only cynics (or fools) could embrace. Part of this narrative tells us "we can't go back." But what was left behind when the first oil well was drilled, and Earth's black blood sucked from its subterranean life, are the very things humans need in order to sustain meaningful life.

Among them are the knowledge and skills required to feed ourselves. Hunting, once a necessity, is now considered by some an atavistic endeavor; gathering is these days largely the purview of elites sniffing out mushrooms (or recent immigrants not hip to things dclass), and there's not enough room on the page to discuss the transformation of farming from something Thomas Jefferson would recognize into the agro-industrial, Wall Street-driven, corporate-culture imbued, earth-poisoning monster it is today.

We've also largely lost the ability to shelter or heal ourselves. While farmhouses from Italy to Ireland built centuries ago still stand, today's construction will, left unattended for not too many years, deteriorate into a toxic stew. Once able to heal ourselves with herbs, potions and salves (and when that failed, to die with less struggle and angst than we do now) and live in community for the duration of our lives, today, avoiding death is an industry, and the sick, old and damaged are fodder for some pharmaceutical company's stock rating.

But there is good news regarding the efforts to allay some of the harm we've done. A growing number of people are defying the "you can't go back" mantra by doing just that. The locavore movement is creating a need for more small-scale farms, which in turn is generating a return to more sustainable food-production methods.

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50 best cult books
50 books that changed our lives

Our critics present a selection of history's most notable cult writing. Some is classic. Some is catastrophic. All of it had the power to inspire

What is a cult book? We tried and failed to arrive at a definition: books often found in the pockets of murderers; books that you take very seriously when you are 17; books whose readers can be identified to all with the formula " whacko"; books our children just won’t get…

Some things crop up often: drugs, travel, philosophy, an implied two fingers to conventional wisdom, titanic self-absorption, a tendency to date fast and a paperback jacket everyone recognises with a faint wince. But these don’t begin to cover it.

Cult books include some of the most cringemaking collections of bilge ever collected between hard covers. But they also include many of the key texts of modern feminism; some of the best journalism and memoirs; some of the most entrancing and original novels in the canon.

Cult books are somehow, intangibly, different from simple bestsellers – though many of them are that. The Carpetbaggers was a bestseller; Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was a cult.

They are different from books that have big new ideas – though many of them are that. On The Origin of Species changed history; but Thus Spoke Zarathustra was a cult.

They are different from How-To books – though many of them are that. The Highway Code is a How-To book; Baby and Child Care was a cult. These are books that became personally important to their readers: that changed the way they lived, or the way they thought about how they lived.

The Bible, the Koran and the Communist Manifesto, of course, changed lives – but, in the first instance, they changed the life of the tribe, not of the individual.

In compiling our list, we were looking for the sort of book that people wear like a leather jacket or carry around like a totem. The book that rewires your head: that turns you on to psychedelics; makes you want to move to Greece; makes you a pacifist; gives you a way of thinking about yourself as a woman, or a voice in your head that makes it feel okay to be a teenager; conjures into being a character who becomes a permanent inhabitant of your mental flophouse.

We were able to agree, finally, on one thing: you know a cult book when you see one. And people have passionate feelings on both sides: our appeal for suggestions yielded enough for a list at least three times as long as this one.

So if you’ve loved or hated or grown out of or grown into one of these books – or another book we’ve omitted – please visit our website and tell us about it. Sam Leith

Rebuilding Dresden after the WW2 bombing described in Slaughterhouse 5
Rebuilding Dresden after the WW2 bombing described in Slaughterhouse 5

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)

Sideways fantasy from the Diogenes of American letters, a comic sage who survived the firebombing of Dresden and various familial tragedies to work out his own unique brand of science-fictional satire. Like much of Vonnegut's stuff, this is savage anger barely masked by urbane anthropological sarcasm. Very much the place to start.

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A chat with Steven Wright
We're not sure if anyone under the age of 50 would get it if we described Steven Wright as "the Pat Paulsen of his generation," but, trust us, it's true. Wright's pretty much the poster boy for deadpan comedy, having burst onto the scene -- albeit very solemnly -- with his 1985 debut album, I Have A Pony. Given his quiet, contemplative style, it shouldn't come as any surprise that it's taken 22 years for him to get around to releasing a sequel, but 2007 has finally brought us the long-awaited I Still Have A Pony, on Comedy Central Records. It's not like Wright's been just chilling out since '85, though...well, not entirely, anyway. Bullz-Eye had a chance to speak with him recently, and we asked him about his stand-up career, his famous film roles (I think we can all agree that the Academy really dropped the ball by not awarding him Best Supporting Actor for his role as Guy on the Couch in "Half Baked"), and, most importantly, if he ever gets tired of people asking him if he's stoned.

Steven Wright: Hello?

Bullz-Eye: Hi, may I speak to Steven?

SW: How are ya?

BE: I'm pretty good.

A chat with Steven WrightSW: Good. Where are you calling from?

BE: Virginia. Chesapeake, Virginia.

SW: Oh. (Pauses) Is this for a website?

BE: Oh, yeah, sorry: it's for

SW: Oh, good.

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Moyers' Interview with Rev. Jeremiah Wright
PBS host Bill Moyers interview the Rev. Jeremiah Wright on his show last night, Bill Moyers Journal.

BILL MOYERS: Welcome to the JOURNAL. Barack Obama's pastor was in the news again this week. North Carolina Republicans are preparing to run an ad tying Obama to some controversial sound bites lifted from Reverend Jeremiah Wright's sermons. And CBS and MSNBC led their broadcasts with reports about the ad.

DEAN REYNOLDS: In North Carolina the Republicans put their ad on the internet and say they're going to broadcast it as well.

KEITH OLBERMANN: Republican hit job the North Carolina GOP plans a Willie Horton style TV ad against Obama.

BILL MOYERS: Jeremiah Wright will be in Washington Monday for a news conference at the National Press Club -- his first since the controversy erupted over those incendiary sound bites. You've heard them; who hasn't heard them: Wright suggesting the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were payback for American policy; Wright repeating the canard heard often in black communities that the u.s. government spread HIV in those communities; Wright seemingly calling on God to damn America.

But just who is this man? That's the question I asked when those sound bites began popping up. I'd heard the name Jeremiah Wright -- his church in Chicago belongs to the fellowship of the United Church of Christ. I joined a UCC church on Long Island 40 years ago and attend Riverside Church in New York City, which is affiliated with American Baptists and the UCC. But I couldn't remember ever having met Reverend Wright. So I wanted to know more about the man, the ministry, and the church.

BILL MOYERS: In 1972, Jeremiah Wright became pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. He inherited a struggling congregation of just 9887 members.

REVEREND WRIGHT: I have a friend who every time you greet him, every time you ask him how you doing, he answers, just trying to make it man, just trying to make it.

BILL MOYERS: But by the mid 1980s, when PBS' Frontline shot this film about Wright, he'd grown the congregation to several thousand.

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Wide Open Wallet: 50 Awesome Open Source Financial Tools
By Heather Johnson

One of the great things about open source is that you know the software you’re using is made by real people, who understand real needs. In financial software, we see a great application of this “real people” effect, offering high levels of customization and ease of use. In this software collection, you’ll find tools that were made with you in mind, and are often completely free to boot.

Finance Managers

With these finance management packages, you can stay on top of all of your accounts in one convenient place.

  1. My Money: Use this financial software that works with online bank statements to stay on top of your accounts.
  2. PyCheckbook: This simple finance manager offers easy to use checkbook registering.
  3. jGnash: JGnash offers a lot of the same features as commercial finance management software, such as reports, account reconciliation, and transaction entry, but in a free, open source format.
  4. NetWorth: This program offers functions similar to MS Money, with a checkbook register, bill scheduling, forecasting, and more.
  5. Chump Change: Manage your personal finances with this budget-oriented tool.
  6. KMyMoney: This manager is very reminiscent of Quicken, with a similar user interface and exporting.
  7. GPF: Get reports, data, and more from this personal finance manager.
  8. Money Manager Ex: With this personal finance manager, you can track your income, net worth, and more.
  9. GnuCash: This popular financial accounting software is great for personal and small business finance management.
  10. RQ Money: Use this household finance manager for reports, data, and more.
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Liberal Men ... The Forbidden Fruit?
by Marc Faletti

Despite the fact that it's politically incorrect, the lure of the liberal lives on. Hey, girl.

Yeah, you. Right over there. How YOU doin? It’s okay, you can come closer. I know I’m a liberal and all, but I won’t bite… unless you think it’s naughty to bite. Because it turns out I’m one of the bad boys your mama/pastor/delusional right-wing website warned you about, and I just wanted to draw you in close so I could force-feed you drugs, materialism, and an aversion to handguns. Confused? Well, just sit here on my lap, girl, and let me show you what I’m talking about.

Thanks to Jill, I now know just how wild and wicked I really am. The interview on dating she found with 6 rockin’ conservative chicks has taught me a lot about myself and just want makes me so damn cool. Turns out it’s all about liberalism, baby.

Take Sharon Soon’s story when asked if she’s ever dated liberal men:

I have always had a policy of not dating liberals, but once, after a bad break-up, I dated a couple of liberal guys…

Yeah, baby! We’re that sinister rebound guy lurking in the corner, and you know that totally ups our hotness factor. You need a break from those stuffy conservatives, you come see us for a dose of Teh Fun. She continues:

First of all, they don’t have the same values and I find that to be a fundamental problem. I know a lot of people are willing to accept that, but I’m not. Their whole world view is different from someone who has conservative values and traditional values as a way of life.
Being focused on yourself, and your rights, and materialism, and no ultimate sense of morality — because I guess when you believe in a more secular way of life, a more liberal viewpoint, it’s all about what you can do for yourself and how you can be happy…and you don’t have any belief in absolute truth or religious principles to guide how you live. You get guys who are selfish and into themselves and don’t care so much about humanity, other people, or me — that just leads to a lot of problems.

What can I say, she’s got us all figured out.

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Why Rush Limbaugh Ought to Be Force-Fed His Own Liposuctioned Fat (Riot Edition)
by rudepundit

So rotund sex tourist Rush Limbaugh, in his ongoing effort to make the Democratic nomination process as bloody as possible, has stated what one of his goals is for his "Operation Chaos," involving people (the zomboid "Dittoheads" listening to him) registering as Democrats or voting in open primaries in order to sow internecine warfare in the Democratic party. That goal is to so infect the process that there are riots at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. And, no, that's not an exaggeration or taking this fat fuck out of context. Here he is on Wednesday on his show (quoted extensively before it goes up behind his wallet-sucking wall):

"This is about chaos. This is why it's called Operation Chaos! It's not called Operation Save Hillary. It's not called Operation Nominate Obama. It's called Operation Chaos! The dream end... I mean, if people say what's your exit strategy, the dream end of this is that this keeps up to the convention and that we have a replay of Chicago 1968, with burning cars, protests, fires, literal riots, and all of that. That's the objective here."

A bit later, talking to a caller, Limbaugh confirms this, comparing Republican behavior to Democratic behavior:

"We don't burn our cars. We don't burn down our houses. We don't kill our children. We don't do half the things the American left does. We need the American left -- and this is another great thing about Operation Chaos; nothing to do with my ego. We need as many ignorant Americans to wake up and find out exactly who the modern-day Democrat Party is as dominated by the far left in this country. We need that to be seen. Now, I am not inspiring or inciting riots. I'm dreaming. (singing to the tune of 'White Christmas') 'I'm dreaming of riots in Denver.' Remember 1968? And which party did that? It was the radicals in that party, the anti-war radicals, the same bunch of clowns that are running around defining the Democrat Party today."

Limbaugh claims that Al Sharpton and Democratic Party "members" have already said "'There will be riots' or something to that effect."

Now, it's pathetically useless to argue facts with Limbaugh and his hordes of over-carbed, Bush-beaten-down, scapegoat-huntin' listeners. You could point out that it was a bunch of white Republicans who more or less rioted in 2000 in Broward County, Florida and shut down the recount there. You could point out that what Al Sharpton actually said was that if the superdelegates overturn the will of the majority of voters and pledged delegates, there could be "demonstrating" at the convention. Of course, Limbaugh says that "demonstrating" is just code for "riot." Perhaps he thinks that it's some kind of hip-hop lingo to the porcine pundit. (Actual Limbaugh quote: "Okay, what does demonstrating mean? The Reverend Sharpton is the one who put this notion out there.")

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More debtors feel mortgage heat, set properties on fire

Some folks celebrate their last home mortgage payment by setting fire to their loan agreement. Lately, people be hind on their mortgages are setting fire to their homes.

In what appears to the latest symptom of the U.S. mortgage meltdown and credit crisis, insurers, law enforcement and state agencies nationwide have reported a jump in home and automobile fires in the past year set by owners unable to pay their debts. The numbers are small, but they're leading the insurance industry to scrutinize more closely what seem to be routine blazes.

"We've seen a dramatic increase in this kind of fraud," said Dan Bales, director of fraud investigations at Mercury Insurance. "People upside down on their house with variable interest-rate loans, or upside down on their cars, are pretty quick to burn their property right now."

Three weeks ago, police arrested a woman in Easley, S.C., and accused her of deliberately setting fire to her home just three days after the bank hung a foreclosure notice on her door. In January, an Omaha, Neb., man was charged with arranging to have his three-bedroom house burned down to avoid losing it to the bank.

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Stop the Mendacity!
WorldNetDaily doesn't practice what its founder, Joseph Farah, preaches in his hagiographic book. Instead, he hides behind his Christianity as an excuse to practice crappy journalism.
By Terry Krepel

In May 2007, WorldNetDaily's book division published WND founder and editor Joseph Farah's book "Stop the Presses!" described in subtitle as "The Inside Story of the New Media Revolution." It purports to describe, according the the dust jacket copy, "how Farah created one of America's most important news organizations, and provides a first-hand account of his interaction with other key figures, including Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge. ... Farah leaves no stone unturned in examining the media revolution and predicting what comes next."

In reality, though, the book is largely a hagiography of Farah's career in journalism, puffing up his importance as a leader of the "new media," downplaying his failures, and repeating numerous misleading or outright false claims along the way. Even more surprisingly, the overall tone of the book is how Farah hides behind his Christian beliefs -- of the reconstructionist/dominionist bent, as ConWebWatch has previously noted -- to justify bad journalism.

Farah's hagiography starts with the very first chapter, in which he recounts his time as editor of the Sacramento Union. He declared:

You want to know what was different about the Sacramento Union than any daily newspaper you've ever read? That was it. It was edited, from the top, by a Christian executive who wasn't ashamed or bashful or timid about using his Christian worldview and his Christian convictions as the guideposts for doing his job as a newspaperman.

Which is a convoluted way of saying that he infused the paper with a heavy conservative bias, even heavier than it was under a previous owner, conservative billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife -- though he's not honest enough to come out and actually say the C-word. As ConWebWatch detailed, a former employee of the Union under Farah told the Columbia Journalism Review: "If I didn't find a story the way (Farah) wanted, I was told he wouldn't give it time or space. He was telling anybody who disagreed with him that they were bad reporters." Another, Kathleen Salamon, said: "I had seen the news tampered with at even the most basic of levels to reflect the owners' and editors' religious and political biases." Salamon continued:

One of the first things Farah did was to issue memos prohibiting reporters from using the words "gay," assault rifles," and "women's health center." These were replaced by "homosexual," semi-automatic rifles," and "abortion clinics." He edited a story by one of the paper's state bureau reporters so that the National Organization for Women was defined as a "radical feminist group" and former Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., was described as having "consistently struck down all legal protections of the unborn."

A May 16, 1991, Los Angeles Times article reported that the editor of the paper's book review section quit after Farah sharply criticized her for running a favorable review of a book about Jane Fonda: "He said Jane Fonda was a traitor to our country and we shouldn't have reviewed the book." Farah responded that he objected to the review because "it was a defense of Jane Fonda and Jane Fonda's politics. It would be suicidal for this newspaper to run exclusively that kind of material over a long period of time. We've got a readership that's totally at odds with that point of view."

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McCain Spiritual Adviser Recants Earlier Statement That God Damned New Orleans with Katrina
by Jon Ponder

John McCain's spiritual adviser, John Hagee, has apparently gotten the word from on high and has now recanted his assertions that Katrina was God's curse on New Orleans because it hosted an annual gay event: "As a believing Christian, I see the hand of God in everything that happens here on earth, both the blessings and the curses. But ultimately neither I nor any other person can know the mind of God concerning Hurricane Katrina. I should not have suggested otherwise. No matter what the cause of the storm, my heart goes out to all who suffered in this terrible tragedy. There but for the grace of God go any one of us."

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How McCain Lost in Pennsylvania
IT'S a nightmare. Its the Bataan Death March. Its mutually assured Armageddon. Both of them are already losing the general to John McCain, declared a Newsweek columnist last month, predicting that the election may already be over by the time the Democrats anoint a nominee.
by Frank Rich

Not so fast. If we've learned any new rule in the 2008 campaign, its this: Once our news culture sets a story in stone, chances are it will crumble. But first it must be recycled louder and louder 24/7, as if sheer repetition will transmute conventional wisdom into reality.

When the Pennsylvania returns rained down Tuesday night, the narrative became clear fast. The Democrats exit polls spelled disaster: Some 25 percent of the primary voters said they would defect to Mr. McCain or not vote at all if Barack Obama were the nominee. How could the party possibly survive this bitter, perhaps race-based civil war?

But as the doomsday alarm grew shrill, few noticed that on this same day in Pennsylvania, 27 percent of Republican primary voters didnt just tell pollsters they would defect from their partys standard-bearer; they went to the polls, gas prices be damned, to vote against Mr. McCain. Though ignored by every channel I surfed, there actually was a G.O.P. primary on Tuesday, open only to registered Republicans. And while it was superfluous in determining that partys nominee, 220,000 Pennsylvania Republicans (out of their total turnout of 807,000) were moved to cast ballots for Mike Huckabee or, more numerously, Ron Paul. Thats more voters than the margin (215,000) that separated Hillary Clinton and Mr. Obama.

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Prosecute the Mortgage Sharks
By Michelle Singletary

When Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson released the government's blueprint for overhauling the nation's financial regulatory structure, he promised to direct more attention toward the front-line people who arrange mortgage loans.

"Simply put, that process was broken," Paulson said.

To protect consumers from predatory lending and deceptive disclosure practices, Paulson proposed the creation of a federal Mortgage Origination Commission that would establish minimum standards for loan officers. It would also evaluate, rate and report on each state's efforts to license and regulate these mortgage salespeople.

Sounds impressive, doesn't it?

But based on my investigation of one mortgage operation, which has continued to arrange loans despite state sanctions, what's needed is more criminal prosecution, not another commission with little power. After all, we're talking about loan officers responsible for explaining mortgage products, some of which have complicated terms and high fees, the types of products that have led this nation into its current economic mudslide.

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Nev. GOP recesses state convention, angering Paul supporters
Nevada GOP recesses state convention amid strong support for Ron Paul

Outmaneuvered by raucous Ron Paul supporters, Nevada Republican Party leaders abruptly shut down their state convention and now must resume the event to complete a list of 31 delegates to the GOP national convention.

Outnumbered supporters of expected Republican presidential nominee John McCain faced off Saturday against well-organized Paul supporters. A large share of the more than 1,300 state convention delegates enabled Paul supporters to get a rule change positioning them for more national convention delegate slots than expected.

"I've seen factions walk out. I've never seen a party walk out," said Jeff Greenspan, regional coordinator for the Paul campaign.

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FL - It's Not Called the Hate Amendment for Nothing
by: quinnelk

Wow. At first glance, that's all I can say about the comments from Pastor Hayes Wicker of Naples, Florida. Here's what he said at an anti-gay event last week:

This is a tremendous social crisis, greater even than the issue of slavery.


For those who don't know, fundamentalist right-wingers in Florida are attempting to pass a constitutional amendment in Florida this year that would ban gay marriage in the Sunshine State. The same gay marriage that is already illegal under four separate parts of state law. And this amendment wouldn't just ban gay marriage, it would also prevent civil unions, cities and corporations from offering benefits to gay couples and anyone from giving benefits to unmarried straight couples. But let's leave aside the practical implications of the proposed gay marriage ban in question, I've talked about that in the past and I'll come back to it over and over again throughout the year, let's look at the hate ingrained in this particular phrase.

This is a tremendous social crisis, greater even than the issue of slavery.

Keep in mind, this isn't about banning gay marriage. Gay marriage is already banned in Florida under four different laws. What this nutjob is actually saying is that the fact that they haven't yet enshrined hatred in the Florida Constitution, despite not one single legal gay marriage ever taking place in Florida, is not only a "tremendous social crisis," but one greater than slavery. That shows an astounding amount of hatred not only for gay people, but for African Americans as well.

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Karzai Escapes Attack in Kabul by Gunmen
Afghan soldiers ran off the parade grounds in Kabul on Sunday after gunfire interrupted a celebration of Afghanistan’s Mujahedeen Day. Three people were killed and 11 were wounded.

KABUL, Afghanistan — A well-coordinated assassination attempt on President Hamid Karzai by suspected Taliban insurgents at the Afghan national day military parade in central Kabul has turned into a moment of national embarrassment for the government, which has been pressing to take over responsibility for Kabul’s security from foreign troops.

Afghan military personnel scattered during an attack on President Hamid Karzai and other dignitaries assembled for a military parade in Kabul.

Three people were killed Sunday in the brazen assault, ruining what was supposed to have been a proud moment for Afghan security forces. The ability of the attackers to get so close to Mr. Karzai, who escaped unhurt, suggested they had inside help.

The dead included a tribal chief and a member of Parliament who were in the reviewing stands near Mr. Karzai, and a 10-year-old boy caught in the cross-fire as militants and security forces aimed at each other, officials said. Eleven people were wounded, among them army officers, police officers and civilians, hospital officials said. Several suspects were arrested later.

The attack sent officials and foreign diplomats scrambling for cover in the stands and hundreds of soldiers running off the parade ground in disarray. Mr. Karzai was whisked out the back exit, and the ceremony was abandoned after Afghan security forces had spent weeks preparing and rehearsing.

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Prince performs during his headlining set on the second day of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., Saturday, April 26, 2008.