Monday, June 30, 2008



It Was Oil, All Along

Smirking Chimp
By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

Oh, no, they told us, Iraq isn't a war about oil. That's cynical and simplistic, they said. It's about terror and al Qaeda and toppling a dictator and spreading democracy and protecting ourselves from weapons of mass destruction. But one by one, these concocted rationales went up in smoke, fire, and ashes. And now the bottom line turns out to be....the bottom line. It is about oil.

Alan Greenspan said so last fall. The former chairman of the Federal Reserve, safely out of office, confessed in his memoir, "...Everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil." He elaborated in an interview with the Washington Post's Bob Woodward, "If Saddam Hussein had been head of Iraq and there was no oil under those sands, our response to him would not have been as strong as it was in the first gulf war."

Remember, also, that soon after the invasion, Donald Rumsfeld's deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, told the press that war was our only strategic choice. "...We had virtually no economic options with Iraq," he explained, "because the country floats on a sea of oil."

Shades of Daniel Plainview, the monstrous petroleum tycoon in the movie There Will Be Blood. Half-mad, he exclaims, "There's a whole ocean of oil under our feet!" then adds, "No one can get at it except for me!"

No wonder American troops only guarded the Ministries of Oil and the Interior in Baghdad, even as looters pillaged museums of their priceless antiquities. They were making sure no one could get at the oil except... guess who?

Here's a recent headline in The New York Times: "Deals with Iraq Are Set to Bring Oil Giants Back." Read on: "Four western companies are in the final stages of negotiations this month on contracts that will return them to Iraq, 36 years after losing their oil concession to nationalization as Saddam Hussein rose to power."

There you have it. After a long exile, Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP are back in Iraq. And on the wings of no-bid contracts - that's right, sweetheart deals like those given Halliburton, KBR, Blackwater. The kind of deals you get only if you have friends in high places. And these war profiteers have friends in very high places.

Ice on Mars: Good for the Jews?

Marty Kaplan

by Marty Kaplan

I have always been only slightly embarrassed by my avidity for reports of UFOs, ETs, new planetary systems, semantic transmissions across the galaxies and every other kind of disruptive wow.

My embarrassment stems not from a reflexive belief in reports of bright lights flying low and fast over Stephenville, Texas or Chilliwack, British Columbia; I am as skeptical of tabloid headlines, and as cautious about the madness of crowds, as any other child of Voltaire or Mad Magazine.

No, what makes me sheepish about this stuff isn't my intellectual credulousness; it's my yearning for some indisputable event that will bust up our paradigms, some unruly discovery that will force us to remake from scratch our stories about who we are, where we come from and where we're headed.

Now that the Phoenix Lander has confirmed the existence of ice on Mars, and soil you can grow asparagus in, I'm rooting for them to find amino acids. I want it to be conceivable that Mars is a mere billion years behind Earth on the path to evolution, or maybe, sadly, a couple of billion years ahead of us on the road to extinction. And if they don't find organic molecules, I'm rooting for some strange silicon-based information-rich chains in that Martian soup.

I want what's found to make us say, Whoa! I want us to experience the kind of radical amazement that will require sending conventional cosmology to the repair shop. I want data that upend our accepted accounts of origins and evolution. I want scientific cover for the most boldly creative re-imaginings of the nature of life and of our own place in the great chain of being. I want to see the concepts of meaning and purpose up for grabs. I want new discoveries about stardust to make both ancient texts and current textbooks wholly inadequate for understanding the mysterium tremendum of the physical universe.

Unequal America

Harvard Magazine
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Causes and consequences of the wide—and growing—gap between rich and poor

by Elizabeth Gudrais

When Majid Ezzati thinks about declining life expectancy, he says, "I think of an epidemic like HIV, or I think of the collapse of a social system, like in the former Soviet Union." But such a decline is happening right now in some parts of the United States. Between 1983 and 1999, men's life expectancy decreased in more than 50 U.S. counties, according to a recent study by Ezzati, associate professor of international health at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), and colleagues. For women, the news was even worse: life expectancy decreased in more than 900 counties—more than a quarter of the total. This means 4 percent of American men and 19 percent of American women can expect their lives to be shorter than or, at best, the same length as those of people in their home counties two decades ago.

The United States no longer boasts anywhere near the world's longest life expectancy. It doesn't even make the top 40. In this and many other ways, the richest nation on earth is not the healthiest. Ezzati's finding is unsettling on its face, but scholars find further cause for concern in the pattern of health disparities. Poor health is not distributed evenly across the population, but concentrated among the disadvantaged.

Disparities in health tend to fall along income lines everywhere: the poor generally get sicker and die sooner than the rich. But in the United States, the gap between the rich and the poor is far wider than in most other developed democracies, and it is getting wider. That is true both before and after taxes: the United States also does less than most other rich democracies to redistribute income from the rich to the poor.

Americans, on average, have a higher tolerance for income inequality than their European counterparts. American attitudes focus on equality of opportunity, while Europeans tend to see fairness in equal outcomes. Among Americans, differences of opinion about inequality can easily degenerate into partisan disputes over whether poor people deserve help and sympathy or should instead pull themselves up by their bootstraps. The study of inequality attempts to test inequality's effects on society, and it is delivering findings that command both sides' attention.

Ezzati's results are one example. There is also evidence that living in a society with wide disparities—in health, in wealth, in education—is worse for all the society's members, even the well off. Life-expectancy statistics hint at this. People at the top of the U.S. income spectrum "live a very long time," says Cabot professor of public policy and epidemiology Lisa Berkman, "but people at the top in some other countries live a lot longer."

Yoo won't answer whether Bush can bury someone alive.


The 'W.' Stands for 'War Criminal'

The House and a shot not yet heard 'round the world
by Nat Hentoff

In a June 6 letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey—largely ignored by a press immersed in the future of Hillary Clinton—56 Democrats in the House of Representatives asked for "an immediate investigation with the appointment of a special counsel to determine whether actions taken by the President, his Cabinet, and other Administration officials are in violation of the War Crimes Act (18 U.S.C. 2441) . . . and other U.S. and international laws."

This isn't front-page news?

The letter began with a brief account of the notorious facts about Abu Ghraib ("sexual exploitation and torture") and Guantánamo ("an independent investigation by the International Committee of the Red Cross documented several . . . acts of torture . . . including soaking a prisoner's head in alcohol and lighting it on fire"). Nor was "coercive interrogation" in Afghanistan omitted: "In October 2005, The New York Times reported that three detainees were killed during interrogations in Afghanistan and Iraq by CIA agents or CIA contractors."

This is not a call for articles of impeachment. Bush will soon be gone, and the new president and Congress have far too much to do to get mired in that quicksand. These are grave criminal charges, and since international crimes are involved as well as the U.S. War Crimes Act and the Anti-Torture Act, other nations whose laws include "universal jurisdiction" could prosecute.


Before Bush and After Bush

By Bob Kendall

B.B. before Bush and A.B. after Bush.

This represents what the U.S.A. was like before its economic free fall, and after the nation declined economically.

History will never forget Nero fiddling while Rome burned. History will never forget Bush and his silly sword dance before the Saudis while the U.S.A. burned with rage as crude oil prices soared to approximately $140 a barrel.

When George Bush took up residence in the White House January 20, 2001, crude oil was $28.66 a barrel. Before Bush (B.B.) U.S. citizens could use their cars to go to work as well as for pleasure trips.

That is all history now!

With the cost being so high to fill up the gas tank, residents of major cities are now using public transportation. With overcrowded trains and buses, it is often standing room only

The airline industry is losing billions of dollars as airlines are laying off thousands of employees with fares jumping 25 percent.

While all this hardship was imposed on U.S. citizens, where was George Bush?

Bush revved up Air Force One and flew off to Europe for a whirlwind farewell tour to the major city capitals. Bush's speeding motorcade, with the usual contingent of bodyguards and diplomatic spokespersons, didn't have to worry about the cost of gas - not when U.S. taxpayers were paying for the gas.

Big car manufacturers like General Motors and Ford never considered gas conservation when they built too many gas guzzling SUV's and trucks. They see them standing unsold on lots now as gas prices cripple their sales.

It is glaringly apparent that McCain has enough problems with his faltering campaign without dredging up George Bush. So for McCain, it was no doubt a plus that Bush went whizzing about Europe instead of tagging along on his campaign trail.

As for foreign affairs, Bush has also been an unmitigated disaster. In his famous State of the Union Message he declared that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, threatening the citizens of the U.S.A. He added that the U.S. had proof that Saddam was developing nuclear weapons.

The congressional robots jumped to their feet, cheering George Bush on to the Iraq War. The Congress had been lied to along with the rest of us. Meanwhile the rest of the world watched!

Was it oil greed or a real threat? It didn't take long to find out that it was all a hoax. No weapons of mass destruction were found. No nuclear development was discovered. But did these revelations invest Bush or Congress with an urge to apologize for such a hideous mistake?

No way!

The Tunguska Event--100 Years Later

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration Science@NASA Web Site

Editor: Dr. Tony Phillips

June 30, 2008: The year is 1908, and it's just after seven in the morning. A man is sitting on the front porch of a trading post at Vanavara in Siberia. Little does he know, in a few moments, he will be hurled from his chair and the heat will be so intense he will feel as though his shirt is on fire.

That's how the Tunguska event felt 40 miles from ground zero.

Today, June 30, 2008, is the 100th anniversary of that ferocious impact near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in remote Siberia--and after 100 years, scientists are still talking about it.

"If you want to start a conversation with anyone in the asteroid business all you have to say is Tunguska," says Don Yeomans, manager of the Near-Earth Object Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "It is the only entry of a large meteoroid we have in the modern era with first-hand accounts."

see caption

Above: Trees felled by the Tunguska explosion. Credit: the Leonid Kulik Expedition. [more]

While the impact occurred in '08, the first scientific expedition to the area would have to wait for 19 years. In 1921, Leonid Kulik, the chief curator for the meteorite collection of the St. Petersburg museum led an expedition to Tunguska. But the harsh conditions of the Siberian outback thwarted his team's attempt to reach the area of the blast. In 1927, a new expedition, again lead by Kulik, reached its goal.

"At first, the locals were reluctant to tell Kulik about the event," said Yeomans. "They believed the blast was a visitation by the god Ogdy, who had cursed the area by smashing trees and killing animals."

While testimonials may have at first been difficult to obtain, there was plenty of evidence lying around. Eight hundred square miles of remote forest had been ripped asunder. Eighty million trees were on their sides, lying in a radial pattern.

Can you guess the country?

We set a modern-day record for most replies.
I didn't count, but I'll guess less than 200 people wrote in and 
2/3 of them got the right answer - Dubai, United Arab Emerites.

Think how rich these oil robber barons were 
before Bush tripled their daily income?

BTW, that fog's not natural.
The king's a big Tony Bennet fan 
so he built giant fog machines so he 
can pretend he's in San Francisco.

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Kissing ass

 Click Here!

IT vs. initiative: The Internet age comes to the battlefield

On a late summer night of 2004 in al Anbar province, Iraq, just south of Abu Ghraib, an observation post (OP) of four Marines was shot at briefly from the shadows. The Marines made out two silhouettes in the distance, returned fire, and pursued them into the darkness. One of the Marines said to the others as they searched the area, "I think I got one!" But no sign of them was found. Moments later, in a small tent several miles away, I read their report on my computer delivered by email.

Political Map of Iraq from US Army websiteFifteen minutes after that, another report came in over the radio from a different Marine foot patrol in the vicinity. They'd stopped a vehicle and found two men inside; one of them had a gunshot wound to the shoulder. The driver told the Marine patrol leader that his friend had been caught in the crossfire of a civil dispute run amok. He was rushing him to the hospital.

It was a likely enough scenario -- we routinely saw the results of these sorts of incidents -- but the patrol leader quickly called me to be sure. "This guy is bleeding pretty bad," he said. "You want me to let them go? Or do you want to send us a Medevac?" He didn't know about the OP engagement that had taken place less than a mile away.

"Tell him to hold on to them," I said to my radio operator. "I'll have a helicopter there in five minutes." As I spoke, I began generating my own report on my laptop to send up to headquarters.

The entire chain of command knew what was happening even before it was over.

This is the nature of the modern battlefield.

Flooded London photo exhibit


Squint/Opera's photography exhibit "depicts imaginary scenes in London in 2090, when rising sea levels have inundated the city." They made it look like fun! Flooded London

Magazine editor forced to resign for publishing poem

by Nem Davies

New Delhi
- An editor from a monthly magazine Cherry' was forced to resign from his work for publishing a poem named 'De Pa Yin Ga', written about the historical 'Depayin' town, in June issue.

The notorious Censorship Board under the Ministry of Information summoned the editor and questioned him on June 24 for publishing the poem. He was later ordered to resign from his post.

The poem, written by poet Kyi Maung Than, depicts about the historical events connected to 'Depayin' town.

"The Censor Board asked him who would take responsibility for the poem. Htay Aung replied that he has the responsibility. Then he had to resign under pressure," an official from the magazine told Mizzima on condition of anonymity.

The poem speaks of how historically 'Depayin' town was famous for producing great heroes such as King Ahlaung Sithu and great warrior Mahabandula and many others.

The poet, however, said it is sad that the town has become a place of birth for dacoits, and thugs. In the conclusion of the poem, the poet said he was haunted by the past when he looked back on 'Depayin' town while traveling along the Ye Oo-Monywa highway.

While it is still unknown what has enraged the Burmese censorship board, it is believed that the poem made officials unhappy for picking 'Depayin' town, which is notoriously known in the recent years, for becoming a place where the Burmese opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was attacked brutally.

Tall Tales from the Trade

A bookseller specialist buys a large academic collection from an old professor--mostly sexology, sexual politics, censorship and moral studies. He gets them for a reasonable sum, but part of the deal is that he takes 10,000 porno paperbacks stored in the outhouse. Reluctantly he hauls them all out and takes the paperbacks to the recycling where they are pulped. Pulp to pulp.

Painstakingly he lists the scholarly works and offers them to a University library that he has ties with. They reply that, sadly, they have most of these books and what they really need is actual porn paperback fiction, 'we have all the books on censorship' the librarian says 'what we need is the material that was being censored - we need thousands of them, but I'm afraid we can only pay $20 each.'

I was reminded of this one when reading about David Hockney and his choice of book on Desert Island Discs. It was a gay pulp porno paperback 'Route 69' by Floyd Carter which he was allowed to take to his island along with the Bible and complete works of Shakespeare. There are no copies of Floyd's masterpiece on any web mall and the only works showing by him are Battle of the Bulges , Big Joe, Camp Butch and Forbidden Fruit --mostly on Amazon where they report no copies. These books tend to be rare.

A similar tale is set in 1965 in a provincial bookshop where trade is slow. The dealer has a sale of the books upstairs, lesser books but useful stock--even after severe reductions there are 10,000 books left. Rather than haul them down to the dump he decides to give the whole lot to the young girl who comes in on afternoons when he is out doing house calls, fishing, watching cricket etc., She graciously accepts them and says she will arrange to have them out as soon as possible. He sets off to a local auction and on his return is greatly surprised to find all the books have gone. The girl explains that a guy came in from a movie company needing 10000 books - for the book burning scenes in Fahrenheit 451 that they were filming nearby. She only charged £1 per book.

Wage Against the Machine - If Costco's worker generosity is so great, why doesn't Wal-Mart imitate it?

Costco. Click image to expand

Nearly everyone who's looked at Wal-Mart's practices as an employer—its union busting, sex discrimination, low wages, and minimal benefits—has concluded that it's America's retail bad guy. By contrast, many who've examined the practices of Wal-Mart's competitor Costco—including New York Times labor reporter Steven Greenhouse in his recent book The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker—conclude that it's the good guy. Costco CEO and founder Jim Sinegal repeatedly insists to Greenhouse that treating employees well is "good business."

That makes a pleasing sound bite, and assume for a moment that Sinegal's assertion is true. Why, then, wouldn't Wal-Mart do everything it could to make itself more like Costco? Now assume that Sinegal's assertion is false. Why, then, does Costco treat employees better if that's against the company's financial interests?

Goodbye, XP. Hello, Midori

Posted by Mary Jo Foley 

June 30 is the day that Microsoft begins phasing out Windows XP by no longer providing copies of the operating system to PC makers and retailers for preloading on new machines. It's also a good day (thanks to a recent New York Times opinion piece) to start looking ahead to what comes next — after Windows.

That answer could be Softie Eric Rudder's mysterious "Midori" project.

First, the back story: As San Jose State Professor Randall Stross notes in his Times article, "Windows Could Use a Rush of Fresh Air," Windows has become big and unwieldy. That's why Microsoft has been working for the past several years on reducing dependencies within Windows. And that's what MinWin, the slimmed-down Windows core that Microsoft's Core team has built (which supposedly won't be at the heart of Windows 7) is all about.

Microsoft also has been investigating for the past several years what a non-Windows-based operating system might look like. That project, which recently hit the 1.0 milestone, is code-named "Singularity."

Preview of World's First Rotating Skyscraper

Architecture of Change - Sustainability and Humanity in the Built Environment

Architecture of Change - Sustainability and Humanity in the Built Environment
Designed with the utmost sustainability in mind, the New Monte Rosa-Hut by Studio Monte Rosa/ETH Zuerich is located in the middle of a nature reservation next to a glacier in the Swiss Alps. Energy-wise it's 90% self-contained and self-sufficient, featuring a metallic surface consisting of photovoltaic panels and a spiral-shaped glass band that follows the sun, conducting passive energy inside. From the Architecture of Change book by Gestalten publishers. © Gestalten 2008

The meticulous Architecture of Change - Sustainability and Humanity in the Built Environment by Berlin-based Kristin and Lukas Feireiss is a compilation that looks at architecture from so many perspectives. Featuring state-of-the-art examples of sustainability in the First World and human projects in the Third next to funky experimental concepts and landscape art, packaged with several essays and interviews for a theoretical base. Is this the way we should deal with architecture in the future? PingMag had a theory chinwag with Lukas.

Written by Verena

Buildings are the greatest sources of urban pollution, so why not develop a surface that metabolises air, sun and water: INVERSAbrane by KOL / MAC, LCC architects stands for 'Invertible Building Membrane' and these are different cells with various air cleaning capabilities. From Architecture of Change. © Gestalten 2008

Devo sues McDonalds


Devo is suing McDonald's over New Wave Nigel, a toy that the fast food restaurant gives away with some Happy Meals. New Wave Nigel is part of an American Idol-related line of freebies based on various genres of music. From AAP:
 Images 730709 "We are in the midst of suing them," (Devo's Jerry) Casale told AAP.

"This New Wave Nigel doll that they've created is just a complete Devo rip-off and the red hat is exactly the red hat that I designed, and it's copyrighted and trademarked.

"They didn't ask us anything. Plus, we don't like McDonald's, and we don't like American Idol, so we're doubly offended."
Devo sues McDonald's (, thanks Tara McGinley!)

Friday, June 27, 2008


George W. Bush to Speak at Monticello on July 4

By David Swanson

The Unitary Executive is scheduled to disgrace the grounds of Thomas Jefferson's house, Monticello, in Charlottesville, Va., making a speech on the morning of July 4, 2008. The event is open to the public, and is Monticello's annual Independence Day Celebration and Naturalization Ceremony. Numerous immigrants will become citizens in an event besmirched by the presence of a war criminal, and held in the district of Congressman Virgil Goode, whose entire reelection campaign platform consists of hatred for immigrants.

If you support the complaints against the first King George III enumerated on the first Fourth of July in the Declaration of Independence, I encourage you to attend the event. Go early. Wear an impeachment shirt. And bring a copy of our poor abused Constitution. This is not a time for fear and timidity. How dare this fascist blood-soaked murderer set foot in Charlottesville or on the grounds of Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson?

Thomas Jefferson who said: "As to myself, I love peace, and I am anxious that we should give the world still another useful lesson, by showing to them other modes of punishing injuries than by war, which is as much a punishment to the punisher as to the sufferer."

Thomas Jefferson who said: "If there be one principle more deeply rooted than any other in the mind of every American it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest."

Thomas Jefferson who said that to check "the dog of war'' we had to take the war-making power out of the hands of a single person, and give it to Congress.

Thomas Jefferson who said that the people's house of representatives could hold the executive and judicial branches in check only through the power of impeachment.

Thomas Jefferson who authored the Declaration of Independence.

On the first Fourth of July, the members of the Continental Congress signed a declaration of their disloyalty to the third George to rule the empire, denouncing his abuses of power. They complained of harassment by his troops, of his elevating the military above civilian power, of his denying people a fair trial by jury and instead transporting them overseas to be tried on false accusations, and in general of rendering the colonies almost as unpleasant and fearful a place to dwell as occupied Iraq would one day become.

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Betty Bowers explains “Prayer” to Everyone Else

posted in Dicks named Cheney, war and other things Jesus wants, show biz trash, vicious gossip out of Christian concern, Money (and other things Bush puts down the drain), hypocrites, Laura "Pickles" Bush, crack whores, Deven Green, Methodists & Mary Worshippers, Jesus, Mexicans and other people who talk funny, other people's sins, foreign trash, freedom, offending foreigners, pesky sick, poor people, orientals, gasing up your Bentley, wombs and other moist lady parts, my superior values, video |


George Carlin: An Irish Mensch

News of the death of George Carlin has left my eyes wet and reddened. Only last Wednesday, I awoke to the happy news on the front page of the Style section in the Washington Post that George had been named by the Kennedy Center as the winner of the Mark Twain Prize for lifetime achievement in humor. I immediately sent him a congratulatory e-mail in which I said, "No one deserves this award more than you. You're a credit to your race!"

It was my weak attempt to use humor with the greatest humorist of our time. George Carlin was not only one of the funniest comedians in American history; he was also a deep thinker who made very penetrating comments on the social injustice that persists all around us.

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In the Air

Who says big ideas are rare?

by Malcolm Gladwell

The history of science is full of ideas that several people had at the same time.

The history of science is full of ideas that several people had at the same time.

Nathan Myhrvold met Jack Horner on the set of the "Jurassic Park" sequel in 1996. Horner is an eminent paleontologist, and was a consultant on the movie. Myhrvold was there because he really likes dinosaurs. Between takes, the two men got to talking, and Horner asked Myhrvold if he was interested in funding dinosaur expeditions.

Myhrvold is of Nordic extraction, and he looks every bit the bearded, fair-haired Viking—not so much the tall, ferocious kind who raped and pillaged as the impish, roly-poly kind who stayed home by the fjords trying to turn lead into gold. He is gregarious, enthusiastic, and nerdy on an epic scale. He graduated from high school at fourteen. He started Microsoft's research division, leaving, in 1999, with hundreds of millions. He is obsessed with aperiodic tile patterns. (Imagine a floor tiled in a pattern that never repeats.) When Myhrvold built his own house, on the shores of Lake Washington, outside Seattle—a vast, silvery hypermodernist structure described by his wife as the place in the sci-fi movie where the aliens live—he embedded some sixty aperiodic patterns in the walls, floors, and ceilings. His front garden is planted entirely with vegetation from the Mesozoic era. ("If the 'Jurassic Park' thing happens," he says, "this is where the dinosaurs will come to eat.") One of the scholarly achievements he is proudest of is a paper he co-wrote proving that it was theoretically possible for sauropods—his favorite kind of dinosaur—to have snapped their tails back and forth faster than the speed of sound. How could he say no to the great Jack Horner?

"What you do on a dinosaur expedition is you hike and look at the ground," Myhrvold explains. "You find bones sticking out of the dirt and, once you see something, you dig." In Montana, which is prime dinosaur country, people had been hiking around and looking for bones for at least a hundred years. But Horner wanted to keep trying. So he and Myhrvold put together a number of teams, totalling as many as fifty people. They crossed the Fort Peck reservoir in boats, and began to explore the Montana badlands in earnest. They went out for weeks at a time, several times a year. They flew equipment in on helicopters. They mapped the full dinosaur ecology—bringing in specialists from other disciplines. And they found dinosaur bones by the truckload.

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Netroots jilted by Obama FISA stand

by Carrie Budoff Brown

When former Sen. John Edwards dropped out of the presidential race, the progressive Netroots took their affections to Barack Obama, defending him against attack from Hillary Rodham Clinton and others.

But with his support of a government surveillance bill that offers retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies — a bill that he vowed last year to filibuster — the honeymoon has ended.

Disappointed over his position on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the online activists feel jilted and betrayed and have taken to questioning his progressive credentials. One prominent blogger, Atrios, has even given him the moniker "Wanker of the Day."

"He broke faith," said Matt Stoller, a political consultant and blogger at "Obama pledged to filibuster, and he is part of that old politics, in this case, that he said he wasn't. It will spur us to challenge him."

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Torture guidelines



"All told, the most persuasive indictments of Israeli actions come from Israelis themselves. This scrupulous honesty and fairness toward Israel's historic enemies is a triumph of humanity. In short, there are many Israels. When American presidential candidates compete this year to be 'pro-Israeli,' let's hope that they clarify that the one they support is not the oppressor that lets settlers steal land and club women but the one that is a paragon of justice, decency, fairness — and peace."

- columnist Nicholas Kristof, in a recent op-ed titled, "The Two Israels." (Source: The New York Times )

Eisenhowers for Obama

by Andrew Tobias

Julie Nixon Eisenhower – who backed Bush in 2004   is for Obama. 


·        Read the story here.


And Susan Eisenhower – Ike's granddaughter and lifelong Republican – is for Obama. 


I met her last week in Jacksonville at an Obama fundraiser organized in large part by a seriously wealthy Republican businessman who voted for Bush . . . twice . . . but is now persuading his Republican friends to support Obama.


·        As Ms. Eisenhower wrote in the Washington Post this past winter: 


I am convinced that Barack Obama is the one presidential candidate today who can encourage ordinary Americans to stand straight again; he is a man who can salve our national wounds and both inspire and pursue genuine bipartisan cooperation.  Just as important, Obama can assure the world and Americans that this great nation's impulses are still free, open, fair and broad-minded. . . .


. . . If the Democratic Party chooses Obama as its candidate, this lifelong Republican will work to get him elected and encourage him to seek strategic solutions to meet America's greatest challenges. To be successful, our president will need bipartisan help.

Given Obama's support among young people, I believe that he will be most invested in defending the interests of these rising generations and, therefore, the long-term interests of this nation as a whole.  Without his leadership, our children and grandchildren are at risk of growing older in a marginalized country that is left to its anger and divisions.  Such an outcome would be an unacceptable legacy for any great nation.

Susan Eisenhower, a business consultant, is the author of four books, most recently "Partners in Space: US-Russian Cooperation After the Cold War."


I've been making the case that your Republican friends only think they're Republican. 


The whole political landscape, I argue, has shifted so far right that they are now moderate Democrats.  The Harvard Business School Alumni Bulletin allowed me to make that case here.


Yes, the hard right – the Karl Roves and the James Dobsons and the Rush Limbaughs – will do their best to destroy Obama and make him out to be something he's not.  But if the liberals and the moderates and the Eisenhower Republicans – and even some 2004 Bush Republicans like the ones I met in Jacksonville – come out and vote November 4, the country could be reborn.

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A Blueprint for Withdrawal

Common Dreams NewsCenter
by Ali Gharib

WASHINGTON - Proponents of a U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq routinely brush off criticisms that their ideas are "irresponsible". But until today, the charge that withdrawal cannot be accomplished responsibly — and just how that would be done — has never been coherently answered.

With the release Wednesday of the report "Quickly, Carefully, and Generously: The Necessary Steps for a Responsible Withdrawal from Iraq", withdrawal-minded experts, analysts and politicians sought to pull all the answers together in one document.

The report, written by the organising committee after meetings of the more than 20-member Task Force for a Responsible Withdrawal for Iraq in March, does not address the underlying reasons why the withdrawal option is the best one — that case, it says, has already been compellingly made — but rather focuses on how it can be responsibly carried out.

Whenever the topic of withdrawal is broached, said one of three workshop participants from Congress, Rep. Jim McGovern, "the [Pres. George W. Bush] administration screams, 'bloodbath!'" — raising the spectre of Iraq descending into chaos, igniting regional wars, and, as presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain has said, al Qaeda "taking a country".

But far-fetched warnings of worst-case scenarios aside, the alternative of, as the report puts it, withdrawing "U.S. troops while pursuing a diplomatic and political solution to Iraq's civil conflict" is out there.

"What we need to argue is how," said McGovern on a media conference call to discuss the report. "The alternative to not doing anything and not talking about this is resigning to the status quo."

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George Carlin, American Radical


By John Nichols

No one, not Obama, not Hillary Clinton and certainly not John McCain, caught the zeitgeist of the vanishing American dream so well as Carlin.

I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately. -- George Carlin,

The last vote that George Carlin said he cast in a presidential race was for George McGovern in 1972.

When Richard Nixon, who Carlin described as a member of a sub-species of humanity, overwhelmingly defeated McGovern, the comedian gave up on the political process.

"Now, there's one thing you might have noticed I don't complain about: politicians," he explained in a routine that challenged all the premises of today's half-a-loaf reformers. "Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don't fall out of the sky. They don't pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from American parents and American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens. This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It's what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you're going to get selfish, ignorant leaders. Term limits ain't going to do any good; you're just going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant Americans. So, maybe, maybe, maybe, it's not the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks around here... like, the public. Yeah, the public sucks. There's a nice campaign slogan for somebody: 'The Public Sucks. Fuck Hope.'"

Needless to say, George Carlin was not on message for 2008's "change we can believe in" election season.

Trump mansion sold to "mobsters sans frontieres"

by Daniel Hopsicker


The Russian "businessman" to whom Donald Trump sold his Palm Beach mansion for a purported $100 million was arrested in Russia in April of 1997  and charged with masterminding the killing of a business rival,  in what law enforcement authorities  called "a contract hit."

The MadCowMorningNews has uncovered an April 13, 1997 report in the official Russian news agency TASS announcing that Russian law enforcement authorities arrested Russian fertilizer king Dmitry Rybolovlev and charged him with being behind the murder of the head of another Russian chemical company, in what authorities said was a war for control of Russia's lucrative fertilizer business.  

"The suspected murderers and organizers of the crime, including the head of the FD-Kredit Bank, Dmitry Rybolovlev, have been arrested," TASS reported.

Trump's announcement of his big sale Wednesday received wide play. It was trumpeted everywhere from the Wall Street Journal to Entertainment Tonight.  

The Wall Street Journal, with perhaps unintended irony, called Rybolovlev, a 42-year-old Russian billionaire who currently ranks #59 on the Forbes list of the world's billionaires, "one of Russia's richest and most discreet businessmen."

None of the stories mentioned Palm Beach's newest billionaire's mainline connection to the Russian Mob. 

The real 'never-ending story'

How Donald Trump came to own and sell Maison de l'Amitie,  his 6.5 acre Palm Beach waterfront estate, is just the latest chapter in the "Never-Ending Story," the continuing saga of the moves and machinations of spooks & crooks and other major players in the netherworld  of transnational organized crime.

Billionaire mogul Trump supposedly received a massive windfall,  selling a property for one of the the highest prices ever paid in the United States that he had scooped-up at a bankruptcy sale five years earlier.

Quote of the Day

"Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than in the one where they sprang up."
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. -

Stuff White People Like

This blog is devoted to stuff that white people like
Comparing People to Hitler

By: Isaac "Absent" Amirian
Being a truly advanced white person means being able to speak with authority about pretty much any field of conversation- especially politics. In order for white people to streamline the process of knowing everything, all human beings can be neatly filed into one of two categories: People I Agree With, and People Who are Just Like Adolf Hitler.

Comparing people to Hitler is an easy way for white people to get a strong point across to the less enlightened, or the insufficiently white. Everyone knows who Adolf Hitler was. And everyone knows that Hitler was very, very bad. Therefore, if a white person really, REALLY, doesn't like something or
someone, he or she may angrily say something to the effect of, "This is exactly the same kind of thing that Hitler used to do!" accompanied by varying levels of profanity based on blood-alcohol content. No matter what your gut reaction may be at that point, do not disagree with that white person. Otherwise, well, you love Hitler.

This time-tested white-person maneuver may seem so awesomely useful to you that you are tempted to go out and try it right now. Not so fast. White people have spent the last 30 years perfecting this technique. There are cultural guidelines.

It's also critical that you avoid the fatal mistake of getting creative and comparing people you don't like to other evil dictators, such as Joseph Stalin or Fidel Castro. With few exceptions, white people are actually fond
of almost any dictator not named Hitler, and your remark that "this is just like something Mao Zedong would do" will be met with blank stares and possible social alienation. This is because, with the exception of Hitler,
oppressive dictators share a passion for many of the things white people love- such as universal health care, conspiracy theories, caring about poor people while being filthy rich, and cool hats. Stick to the script and
compare things you don't like to Hitler, and Hitler alone.

Drudge Report of June 2000 Shows Bush Blaming Clinton for High Oil Prices: $20 - $30 a Barrel!


by Meg White

On June 21, 2000, the main headline on Drudge Report shouted that Bush was blaming Clinton and Gore for "high" gasoline/oil prices.

And that, to reiterate, was the year 2000:

In the first half of 2000, gas prices were in the news. Everyone was upset, as oil had been around $10 a barrel the previous year. That spring, the price more than doubled, and it was an election year. So the blame had to go somewhere.

Vice President and Democratic nominee Al Gore blamed oil companies. Texas Governor and Republican nominee George W. Bush blamed President Bill Clinton.

Now that Exxon-Mobil posted record-high earnings, oil is nearing $140 a barrel, and Bush has been in the White House long enough to have affected energy policy, it's no shock that the president's blame game has shifted. So Bush blamed Clinton for gas prices doubling, while prices have increased to record levels under his administration. Bush himself admits that oil prices under his administration have gone up seven-fold!

At an energy summit last weekend in Jidda, Saudi Arabia, there was a fundamental disagreement about the source of high energy prices between producer countries and consumer countries. Producers blame market speculators for driving up prices, while consumers say there just isn't enough oil to meet global demand.

At the summit, Saudi Arabia pledged to increase their oil production by 200,000 barrels a day. But because the market (read: speculators) had already anticipated the Saudi promise, the price of oil actually went up after the announcement instead of down.

The top oil consumer in the world said it was a supply issue. U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman told summit attendees there is no evidence that speculators are driving up the price of oil. Instead, an increase in demand from developing countries such as India and China is to blame.

Dream on, Bush Administration.

Scalia Cites False Information in Habeas Corpus Dissent

Marjorie Cohn says, "Scalia bolstered his hysterical claim that the Boumediene decision 'will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed' with stale information that was proven to be false a year ago."
(Photo: AP)

    To bolster his argument that the Guantanamo detainees should be denied the right to prove their innocence in federal courts, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in his dissent in Boumediene v. Bush: "At least 30 of those prisoners hitherto released from Guantanamo have returned to the battlefield." It turns out that statement is false.

    According to a new report by Seton Hall Law Center for Policy and Research, "The statistic was endorsed by a Senate Minority Report issued June 26, 2007, which cites a media outlet, CNN. CNN, in turn, named the DoD [Department of Defense] as its source. The '30' number, however, was corrected in a DoD press release issued in July 2007, and a DoD document submitted to the House Foreign Relations Committee on May 20, 2008, abandons the claim entirely."

    The largest possible number of detainees who could have "returned to the fight" is 12; however, the Department of Defense has no system for tracking the whereabouts of released detainees. The only one who has undisputedly taken up arms against the United States or its allies, "ISN 220," was released by political officers of the DoD against the recommendations of military officers.

    Scalia bolstered his hysterical claim that the Boumediene decision "will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed" with stale information that was proven to be false one year ago. Professor Mark Denbeaux, director of the Seton Hall Center, said, Scalia "was relying uncritically on information that originated with a party in the case before him."

Coke Director Sam Nunn: A Bad Choice for Obama

Ray Rogers of Campaign to Stop Killer Coke

The media has suggested on numerous occasions that Senator Barack Obama might choose former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) as his running mate. Sam Nunn's name was mentioned for VP fairly recently by Jimmy Carter as he endorsed Obama for president.

Associated Press reported on June 19: "Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Mich., who leads the Congressional Black Caucus, said members of her caucus asked her to forward the names of Edwards and Nunn when she met Wednesday with Obama's vice presidential search team. The vetting team, Caroline Kennedy and Eric Holder, indicated the two were on the list."

It would be a grave mistake for Obama to choose Nunn as Vice President! Nunn's values are contradictory to those expressed by Sen. Obama.

Sam Nunn sits on the boards of four of the most abusive corporations in the world – The Coca-Cola Co., Chevron, General Electric and Dell Computers. All four have shown scant regard for human rights, the environment and/or the labor movement of the countries in which they operate. Yet Nunn has been silent about the abuses of his corporate bedfellows and, of course, is very well compensated as a board member.

The Coca-Cola Co. (Board Member since 1997) is involved in labor and human rights abuses. For example, lawsuits charge that Coke's bottlers in Colombia are involved in the systematic intimidation, kidnapping, torture and murder of union leaders ( Coca-Cola is also involved in environmental abuses worldwide including India, Mexico and El Salvador as well as benefiting from the use of hazardous child labor in El Salvador.

The Company also has a history of racial discrimination, fraudulent business practices, tax avoidance and corporate welfare schemes. Multinational Monitor named The Coca-Cola Company in their list of the ten worst corporations of 2004. Does Obama need a top policymaker of a company that has been kicked off at least 50 college and university campuses because of its widespread labor, human rights and environmental abuses?


Aug 2: Emergency Call to Action

Stop War on Iran
An Emergency Call to Action
  • An Attack could be Imminent
  • We Can't Afford to Wait
  • Take It to the Streets This Summer
  • U.S. out of Iraq, Money for human needs, not war!

Assemble 12 p.m.
at Times Square

43rd St. & Broadway


Consider as soon as possible if you can organize a STOP WAR ON IRAN protest in your locality during the weekend of August 2 – 3.  Let us know so that your protest can be listed.


The U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan is hated by the people there. These wars have no support at home and are ruining the domestic economy. Instead of pulling out, the Bush administration is preparing for still another war—this time against Iran . This must be stopped!


On June 4, George Bush, with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at his side, called Iran a "threat to peace."  Two days before, acting as a proxy for the Pentagon, Israel used advanced U.S. fighter planes to conduct massive air maneuvers, which the media called a "dress rehearsal" for an attack on Iran 's nuclear facility. Under pressure from the U.S. , the European Union announced sanctions against Iran on June 23.  A bill is before Congress for further U.S. sanctions on Iran and even a blockade of Iran .


Iran as a "nuclear threat" is as much a hoax as Bush's claim of "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq used to justify the war there. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which inspects Iran 's nuclear facilities, says it has no weapons program and is developing nuclear power for the days when its oil runs out. Even Washington 's 16 top spy agencies issued a joint statement that said Iran does not have nuclear weapons technology!

U.S. and Israel are the real nuclear danger. The Pentagon has a huge, nuclear-capable naval armada in the Persian/Arabian Gulf, with guns aimed at Iran . Israel , the Pentagon's proxy force in the Middle East , has up to 200 nuclear warheads and has never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Iran did sign it.


While billions of dollars go to war, at home the unemployment rate had the biggest spike in 23 years.  Home foreclosures and evictions are increasing; fuel and food prices are through the roof. While the situation is growing dire for many, Washington 's cuts to domestic programs continue.  A new U.S. war will bring only more suffering.


While the summer is a difficult time to call protests, the August recess of Congress gives the White House an opportunity for unopposed aggression against Iran .  We must not let this happen! From the anti-war movement and all movements for social change, to religious and grassroots organizations, unions and schools, let us join forces to demand "No war on Iran, U.S. out of Iraq, Money for human needs not war! "

This call to action is issued by, a network of thousands of concerned activists and organizations fighting to stop a new war against Iran since February  2006.

Endorse the Emergency Call to Action for August 2 at

List your local action at

Sign the Petition at

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