Friday, April 18, 2008

Daily Freep - Friday, April 18, 2008

Let's make a delicious Halloween treat!

By Laura Bush

Greetings from the First Lady to all the lesser ladies all across this great nation of ours. With Halloween approaching fast, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to share with y'all an old family recipe for a spookily delicious treat that the whole family will enjoy. Devil's Foodcake! Or, as my great grammie Jennaybeline Susamae Welch called it, Negro Loaf. Except she didn't say Negro. Georgie says that I can't write ****** in my blog.

Below are the list of ingredients. Have your maid, housekeeper, or other ethnic person who comes to your house to clean and stuff, go and pick up these ingredients wherever it is they go to get your food. I'm not sure exactly where they go. Also, find some pots and pans and spoons and stuff. Remember, knives are sharp and hurt a lot. One time I saw a black person.

* 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
* 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
* 1/2 month's prescription Prozac
* 1 1/4 cups milk, scalded
* 2 cups cake flour, sifted or stirred before measuring
* 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
* 2 cups Iraqi child's tears
* 1 teaspoon salt (if tears are not salty enough)
* 2/3 cup shortening
* 3 eggs
* 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 5 cups Christ's love

- more -

Free Tibet? Hell, free America!
Support the humble monks? You bet. But oh, let's not forget our own wonderfully abundant atrocities
By Mark Morford

I know I know I know we don't exactly have huge platoons of nasty jackbooted soldiers storming through the streets in riot gear and gas masks and large sticks bashing down on the shiny heads of peaceful monks.

We don't exactly have smashed and burning vehicles and dead bodies in the streets and vicious martial law, ethnic cleansings and curfews and media lockouts and blocked Internet access and all sorts of nefarious, disturbing reports of brutality and beatings and death. Well, except for parts of Oakland. And L.A. And Chicago. But never mind that now.

Overall, even under the deformed and wretched Bush regime and despite how much Dick Cheney's dead raisin of a heart leaps with excitement when he sees the videos of those bloodied and dead Tibetan protesters ("Damn hippies had it coming"), America is still far from the brutality and inhumanity happening right now in Lhasa and beyond.

Or maybe not. For here is what we do have: We have torture. We have a frighteningly simpleminded cowboy-wannabe president who supports and endorses the most inhumane treatment of prisoners imaginable despite its utter failure as a tactic, and this violent belief, this dark energy infects the national bloodstream like prehistoric malaria.

We have capital punishment. We remain the only so-called advanced first-world democracy on the planet that legally kills its own, and we top it off by imprisoning tens of thousands more merely for growing or selling a bit of marijuana or Ecstasy or meth, wasting tens of billions of dollars on an overflowing prison system and a failed drug war that no one at the highest levels of government dares speak against because oh my God all drugs are evil! Now go slam a few beers and a fistful of Xanax and forget about it.

- more -

General Eugene Mirman's Iraq War Testimony

Most Powerful Americans
By statusquobuster

They are not the rich and superrich, nor the politically powerful running the two-party plutocracy, nor the greedy heads of banking and finance companies, and certainly not the media moguls and bloviating pundits.

The most powerful people are US, American consumers that account for over 70 percent of the economy. It is exactly now, when the economy is in the toilet, that consumers hold the maximum power. So why are we the people still deluding ourselves that the path to a better future rests on electing a new president?

We are suckers, conditioned by decades of clever marketing and advertising to believe the lies of politicians, and worst of all to believe that elections and our votes provide us with power. Wrong. Our real power can only be manifest through our spending dollars.

The overwhelming majority of Americans have been severely damaged by economic oppression by government policies that have produced historic economic inequality. Yet, despite revolting conditions, Americans seem unwilling to revolt by using their remaining economic power. They have let themselves become economic slaves.

What is amazing and depressing is that there are no national leaders from the worlds of politics, religion, education, media or public interest that are attempting to harness consumer power at this critical time. No one is capturing the public's attention by making it crystal clear that consumers could obtain any political or economic reform in the public interest by joining together to withhold their discretionary spending.

Where are the anti-Iraq war leaders? Why are they not shouting about forcing an immediate commitment to ending the Iraq war by using the power of a massive consumer boycott that clearly could destroy the whole economy? Tell President Bush that consumers will greatly curb their spending for a month to give him time to implement a plan for withdrawal from Iraq. Make it clear that the coming federal rebates will not be used for spending. Make it clear that Bush inaction will result in continuation of the boycott.

- more -

Condi Must Go!

You Show Those of Us Inside the United States that Victory Is Possible

By Cynthia McKinney

Buenos dias Brothers and Sisters of the Movement!
I am honored to participate in this Segundo Encuentro and to be a part of the struggle for self-determination, justice, peace, and dignity in the Americas.

Unfortunately, the need for this movement largely emanates from my country, the United States, whose rapacious corporate and wealth-inspired greed knows no bounds.

Unfortunately, the leaders of my country tell the American people that the policies being currently pursued are to protect that distinctly United States version of the American way of life.

But, the American way of life is not worth war and slavery, torture and conquest.
The Bush Administration told us to expect war for the next generation and that there were as many as 60 countries that threatened this American way of life. Missile strikes inside Pakistan and Somalia, occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, gunboat diplomacy aimed at Iran, saber-rattling against China and Russia, and an Africa Command, AFRICOM, so that the complete ownership by outsiders of that Continent can be accomplished are the result.

A better USA is possible.

- more -

A CEO Perk for CEO Perks

by Jim Hightower

You know what really POs me? Having to pay taxes on the free personal trips that I take on my company's corporate jet.

Oh wait. We don't have a corporate jet. Still, I empathize as I'm sure you do with fat cat CEOs of big corporations who are happy to get free personal use of the company airplane, but are furious that they then have to pay taxes on the value of the rides they take. Our intrusive government, you see, counts free jet rides, company-paid country club dues, and other executive perks as extra compensation, which, therefore, is taxable.

Luckily, however, Americas clever CEO-class has found some suckers to whom they can pass this unwelcome tax tab: shareholders. Top corporate executives have devised a new perk for themselves with the appropriate name of gross-up. What it means is that the company i.e., the rank and file shareholders pay the taxes that the honchos owe on their freebies. It's a perk for receiving perks. See, in CEO-land, you can have your cake and eat it too!

Never mind that CEOs of major corporations now average some $15 million each in yearly pay. With that kind of cash, you'd think they could spring for their own tickets to Aspen or Paris, or at least cover their own income tax obligations for receiving the free trip.

But, no, these are the pampered princes of modern commerce, so the rules of personal responsibility don't apply to them. A study by a watchdog group called The Corporate Library finds that 20 percent of the chieftains of major corporations are now taxing their shareholders for this gross-up perk.

- more -

The Collapse Of The National Press

by Hunter

After the first forty minutes of last night's Democratic debate, it was clear we were watching something historic. Not historic in a good way, mind you, but historic in the sense of being something so deeply embarrassing to the nation that it will be pointed to, in future books and documentary works, as a prime example of the collapse of the American media into utter and complete substanceless, into self-celebrated vapidity, and into a now-complete inability or unwillingness to cover the most important affairs of the nation to any but the most shallow of depths.

Congratulations are clearly in order. ABC had two hours of access to two of the three remaining candidates vying to lead the most powerful nation in the world, and spent the decided majority of that time mining what the press considers the true issues facing the republic. Bittergate; Rev. Wright; Bosnia; American flag lapel pins. That's what's important to the future of the country.
What a contrast. Only a few weeks ago, we were presented with what was considered by many to be a historic speech by a presidential candidate on race in America -- historic for its substance, tone, delivery, and stark candor. Last night, we had an opposing, equally historic example -- and I sincerely mean that, I consider it to be every bit as significant as that word implies -- of the collapse of the political press into self-willed incompetence. You might as well pull any half-intelligent person off the street, and they would unquestionably have more difficult and significant questions for the two candidates. It was not merely a momentarily bad performance, by ABC, it was a debate explicitly designed to be what it was, which is far more telling.

- more -

An open letter to Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos
by Will Bunch

Dear Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos,

It's hard to know where to begin with this, less than an hour after you signed off from your Democratic presidential debate here in my hometown of Philadelphia, a televised train wreck that my friend and colleague Greg Mitchell has already called, quite accurately, "a shameful night for the U.S. media." It's hard because -- like many other Americans -- I am still angry at what I just witnessed, so angry that it's hard to even type accurately because my hands are shaking. Look, I know that "media criticism" -- especially when it's one journalist speaking to another -- tends to be a genteel, collegial thing, but there's no genteel way to say this.

With your performance tonight -- your focus on issues that were at best trivial wastes of valuable airtime and at worst restatements of right-wing falsehoods, punctuated by inane "issue" questions that in no way resembled the real world concerns of American voters -- you disgraced my profession of journalism, and, by association, me and a lot of hard-working colleagues who do still try to ferret out the truth, rather than worry about who can give us the best deal on our capital gains taxes. But it's even worse than that. By so badly botching arguably the most critical debate of such an important election, in a time of both war and economic misery, you disgraced the American voters, and in fact even disgraced democracy itself. Indeed, if I were a citizen of one of those nations where America is seeking to "export democracy," and I had watched the debate, I probably would have said, "no thank you." Because that was no way to promote democracy.

You implied throughout the broadcast that you wanted to reflect the concerns of voters in Pennsylvania. Well, I'm a Pennsylvanian voter, and so are my neighbors and most of my friends and co-workers. You asked virtually nothing that reflected our everyday issues -- trying to fill our gas tanks and save for college at the same time, our crumbling bridges and inadequate mass transit, or the root causes of crime here in Philadelphia. In fact, there almost isn't enough space -- and this is cyberspace, where room is unlimited -- to list all the things you could have asked about but did not, from health care to climate change to alternative energy to our policy toward China to the deterioration of Afghanistan to veterans' benefits to improving education. You ignored virtually everything that just happened in what most historians agree is one of the worst presidencies in American history, including the condoning of torture and the trashing of the Constitution, although to be fair you also ignored the policy concerns of people on the right, like immigration issues.

- more -

In Pa. Debate, The Clear Loser Is ABC
By Tom Shales

When Barack Obama met Hillary Clinton for another televised Democratic candidates' debate last night, it was more than a step forward in the 2008 presidential election. It was another step downward for network news -- in particular ABC News, which hosted the debate from Philadelphia and whose usually dependable anchors, Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, turned in shoddy, despicable performances.

For the first 52 minutes of the two-hour, commercial-crammed show, Gibson and Stephanopoulos dwelled entirely on specious and gossipy trivia that already has been hashed and rehashed, in the hope of getting the candidates to claw at one another over disputes that are no longer news. Some were barely news to begin with.

The fact is, cable networks CNN and MSNBC both did better jobs with earlier candidate debates. Also, neither of those cable networks, if memory serves, rushed to a commercial break just five minutes into the proceedings, after giving each candidate a tiny, token moment to make an opening statement. Cable news is indeed taking over from network news, and merely by being competent.

- more -

by Jacki Schechner

Politico's Michael Calderone spoke to George Stephanopoulos via phone today and reports George defended last night's debate:
"The vote for the president, Stephanopoulos said, is one of the most personal decisions that someone makes.

"When people make that choice, they take into account how candidates stand on the issues, he said, but also are concerned with experience, character [and] credibility.

"You can't find a presidential election where those issues didn't come into play," he said.
Stephanopoulos explained that since the candidates are not far apart policy-wise, the core of the nomination fight has been about these issues.

"They've been fighting it out on this turf, he said, adding that these are things that came up between this debate and the last one."
Experience, character, and credibility are not issues. Healthcare reform, how to stimulate the economy, getting out of Iraq...issues. In fact, if the candidates are not far apart policy-wise, ALL the more reason to hone in on what separates them. I'd like to know the details. A debate would have been a nice forum for that, no?

Spending 45+ minutes on garbage that has already been exhausted elsewhere - just BECAUSE it's been exhausted elsewhere - is inexcusable.

- more -

Free Ad

First step: Fire the Fed

by Fred Sheehan

Frederick J. Sheehan is an investor in Boston who writes about the financial markets. A version of the following was originally published in the online newsletter, Whiskey and Gunpowder. "Greenspan's Bubbles," by Fred Sheehan and Bill Fleckenstein will be published by McGraw-Hill in January 2008."

Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson has proposed the Federal Reserve be given broad powers to regulate the financial industry. He could not have nominated a more incompetent body. The Coast Guard would do a better job.

Financial upheaval owes homage to derivatives that shrouded the massive growth in debt and leverage. This murky world inflated the incentives of those who ran the machinery over the cliff bankers, mortgage brokers, law firms, appraisers, rating agencies, politicians, and on it goes. This is well known. Despite protestations, the parties knew they were behaving either recklessly or criminally at the time. The Federal Reserve encouraged them.

With a straight face, Hank Paulson proposes that the Fed quash future imbroglios. Yet the terracotta soldiers of Xian would bring more initiative to the assignment.

In September 1998, the Federal Reserve didn't have the slightest idea of how the banking system functioned; it hadn't the slightest idea of the banks exposure to hedge funds; nor had it the slightest idea of the leverage within the financial system. Maybe these deficiencies are excusable, although the Federal Reserve was responsible for regulating bank holding companies (the holding companies being where much of the risk was housed). It is unpardonable in the aftermath, having learned of its own deficiencies, that the Federal Reserve made no effort to improve its oversight or to warn of the dangers it had recently discovered. Instead, the Fed encouraged devious practices.

- more -

God Pollution
Irrational belief in ghosts and gods detracts from ecological and evolutionary science based solutions required to save creation
by Dr. Glen Barry

I am an atheist. And I believe strongly that irrational worship of invisible ghosts and absent gods impedes humanity from taking responsibility for and fashioning a just, peaceful, equitable and sustainable world. By finding comfort and an all-encompassing worldview in bizarre millennia old illogical cults, humanity rejects ecological science and re-emergent intuition of the need and how to protect their Earthly habitat. Reading Richard Dawkins' book "The God Delusion" has confirmed what I always knew, making it abundantly clear to me that there is no god and religion is evil.

Personal spirituality seeking the sacred is one thing, mass cultural mind-washing that insulates from ecological and other truths quite another. I share an equal disdain for worship of all false ancient long dead prophets whose myths have led to conquest, war and misunderstanding of the human family's logical and truthful place within the world. Rituals that connect us with observable reverence for nature are more defensible as they are grounded in observable reality.
The history of the world's organized religions is one of genocide and ecocide. Contemporary religious mediocrity stifles progressive policies worldwide required to reduce population, deforestation and carbon emissions while equitably feeding, educating and meeting other basic needs for all. Evolution and ecology are fact, gods are unknowable make believe, and their belief is pollution stifling truth and killing the Earth.

For the past few hundred years tremendous progress has been made in understanding the cosmos, biosphere and panoply of life within which we live. Yet despite benefiting materially from science, most humans continue to depend upon a dizzying array of medieval superstitions to guide their lives.

Why bring this up now? Because truth matters. Either there is a god or not. Either we need ecosystems to live or not. Either humanity will evolve and reject false beliefs obscuring truth or not. Either we will change to sustain ecosystems or not. Superstitious worship of mythological beings hinders protection of the Earth and knowing reality, providing false comfort as the world is faced with hunger, war, abuse and an end to human and Earthly existence.

- more -

Report: Netanyahu says 9/11 terror attacks good for Israel
By Haaretz Service and Reuters

The Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv on Wednesday reported that Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu told an audience at Bar Ilan university that the September 11, 2001 terror attacks had been beneficial for Israel.

"We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq," Ma'ariv quoted the former prime minister as saying. He reportedly added that these events "swung American public opinion in our favor."

- more -

Center for Constitutional Rights Supports National Lawyers Guild Call for Dismissal and Prosecution of John Yoo
by Marjorie Cohn

On April 1, a secret 81-page memo written by former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo in March 2003 was made public. In that memo, Yoo advised the Bush administration that the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel would not enforce U.S. criminal laws, including federal statutes against torture, assault, maiming and stalking in the detention and interrogation of enemy combatants. The week after the publication of Yoo's memo, the National Lawyers Guild issued a press release calling for the Boalt Hall Law School at the University of California to dismiss Yoo, who is now a professor of law there. The NLG also called for the prosecution of Yoo for war crimes and for his disbarment.

Two days later, the Center for Constitutional Rights released a letter supporting the NLG's call for Yoo's dismissal and prosecution. CCR Executive Director Vincent Warren wrote, "The 'Torture Memo' was not an abstract, academic foray. Rather, it was crafted to sidestep U.S. and international laws that make coercive interrogation and torture a crime. It was written with the knowledge that its legal conclusions were to be applied to the interrogations of hundreds of individual detainees... And it worked. It became the basis for the CIA's use of extreme interrogation methods as well the basis for DOD interrogation policy... Yoo's legal opinions as well as the others issued by the Office of Legal Counsel were the keystone of the torture program, and were the necessary precondition for the torture programs creation and implementation."

- more -

Colorado River to Drop to 500-Year Low as World Warms
By Jim Efstathiou Jr.

April 17 (Bloomberg) -- The Colorado River may shrink in this century to its lowest level in at least 500 years because of global warming, threatening water supplies to California and six other states, researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey said.

A "modest'' 0.86 degree Celsius (1.5 degree Fahrenheit) increase in the 21st century could trim the average flow of the river -- the primary water supply for residents in much of the U.S. Southwest -- to the low end of a range marked between 1490 and 1998, USGS scientist Gregory McCabe said yesterday.

The Earth is likely to warm by more than twice that amount in the period, Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said last month. McCabe will brief Congress on the findings in June, when legislators expect to debate plans for the world's largest producer of greenhouse gases to begin capping its emissions.

"A 2-degree Celsius warming pushes the risk so high that it's beyond anything that has happened in the last 500 years,'' McCabe said on a conference call yesterday. "The average flow in the Colorado drops to lower than anything we've seen.''

- more -

Khartoum to give free surgery as revenues soar

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - State hospitals in Sudan's capital Khartoum are to give free surgery to the poor, with the annual health budget of $230 million boosted by oil revenues to one of Africa's fastest growing economies.

Much of Sudan's population lives in sprawling slums around the capital without running water or electricity, having fled the regional conflicts that have beset Africa's biggest country for decades. Few can afford medical treatment.

"This is intended to try to help the poor," the governor of Khartoum state told Reuters, explaining the decision to offer free surgery to those without the money to pay for it. He said the health budget was 23 percent of the total state budget.

- more -

Md. Court Rules Women Can Withdraw Sexual Consent
By Kristen Wyatt

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Women can say "no" at any time during intercourse, and a man can be convicted of rape if he doesn't stop, Maryland highest court ruled Wednesday.

In the case of a man convicted of rape in 2004, the judges decided a woman can withdraw consent at any time, even after agreeing to sex.

"The crime of first-degree rape includes post-penetration vaginal intercourse accomplished through force or threat of force and without the consent of the victim, even if the victim consented to the initial penetration," the Court of Appeals wrote.

The court ordered a new trial for Maouloud Baby, who was convicted of raping a woman in a car in 2003. The woman had just had sex with another man, and Baby asked the man if he could "hit that" also.

Baby testified that the woman agreed, as long as Baby would stop when she told him to. The woman testified that Baby continued having sex with her for five to 10 seconds after she asked him to stop.

- more -

Topless woman tells DeLand police God told her to direct traffic
by Gary Taylor

A 30-year-old woman caused quite a commotion Wednesday evening when she decided to direct traffic at a DeLand intersection.

Rather than keeping traffic flowing through the intersection of W. Euclid and S. Orange avenues, the woman was creating a bit of a hazard, police said, because she was topless. The DeLand Police Department received a number of calls about 7 p.m. and responded to find the woman "foaming at the mouth and talking to herself," according to a police report.

The DeLand woman told police that God told her to direct traffic.

She was taken to an area hospital for a mental evaluation.

- more -