Thursday, May 1, 2008

Daily Freep - Thursday, May 1, 2008

"Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity."
- Christopher Morley -

'New Times' executives sue Arpaio
Thomas, special prosecutor are included in action
by Michael Kiefer

Six months after they were hauled off to jail, two executives of Phoenix New Times filed suit Tuesday against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Dennis Wilenchik, a former special county prosecutor.

The lawsuit, which was foreshadowed by a February notice to the county, alleges that those officials committed negligence, conspiracy and racketeering, and violated the constitutional rights of the two journalists by arresting them for publishing details of an overreaching grand-jury subpoena.

Among other things, the subpoena demanded that the alternative weekly turn over the names and addresses of its online readers, as well as details of their Internet viewing habits. advertisement

"You can't threaten the readers of an American newspaper, which is unprecedented," said Michael Lacey, executive editor of Village Voice Media, which owns New Times and several other papers across the country.

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How The Presidential Candidates Will Look In 4 Years

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Urge Your CA Assembly Member to Support AB 2279!

Last week, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and the state legislature moved another step further towards securing employment rights for California medical marijuana patients. The Assembly Labor Committee passed AB 2279 on a 6-2 vote. AB 2279, authored by Assemblymember Mark Leno and sponsored by ASA, now moves to the assembly floor and we need you to urge your assembly member to support medical cannabis patients’ rights!

The California Supreme Court ruled in Ross v. RagingWire that an employee using medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation may be fired solely because of his/her status as a medical cannabis patient. Now, it’s up to the legislature to pass AB 2279 to protect California patients’ right to work.

After passing both the Assembly Judiciary and Labor Committees, AB 2279 could reach the California Assembly floor as soon as next week!

ASA staff, working with other organizations, unions, and advocates, will be working hard over the next several days to educate state legislators about this important bill. We need your help today to ensure passage!

Please use the template below to urge your assembly member to vote for AB 2279. For more information about the bill, please visit

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Driven To Starvation
How the auto industry continues to destroy the environment and is now
abetting global hunger and poverty

By William A. Cohn

In the wake of widespread food riots which have resulted in fatalities and political turmoil in poor countries around the world, on April 14th the head of the World Bank warned that 100 million people are now at risk due to food shortages and escalating prices. Yet Robert Zoellick's proposed New Deal for Global Food Policy offers more of a band-aid approach than a cure to the causes of such needless world hunger. Oddly, the World Bank failed to call for an end to those ethanol and other biofuels subsidies which have exacerbated global hunger and poverty by prioritizing feeding cars over feeding humans.

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Israel is suppressing a secret it must face
How did a Jewish state founded 60 years ago end up throwing filth at cowering Palestinians?
By Johann Hari

When you hit your 60th birthday, most of you will guzzle down your hormone replacement therapy with a glass of champagne and wonder if you have become everything you dreamed of in your youth. In a few weeks, the state of Israel is going to have that hangover.

She will look in the mirror and think - I have a sore back, rickety knees and a gun at my waist, but I'm still standing. Yet somewhere, she will know she is suppressing an old secret she has to face. I would love to be able to crash the birthday party with words of reassurance. Israel has given us great novelists like Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua, great film-makers like Joseph Cedar, great scientific research into Alzheimer's, and great dissident journalists like Amira Hass, Tom Segev and Gideon Levy to expose her own crimes.

She has provided the one lonely spot in the Middle East where gay people are not hounded and hanged, and where women can approach equality.

But I can't do it. Whenever I try to mouth these words, a remembered smell fills my nostrils. It is the smell of shit. Across the occupied West Bank, raw untreated sewage is pumped every day out of the Jewish settlements, along large metal pipes, straight onto Palestinian land. From there, it can enter the groundwater and the reservoirs, and become a poison.

Standing near one of these long, stinking brown-and-yellow rivers of waste recently, the local chief medical officer, Dr Bassam Said Nadi, explained to me: "Recently there were very heavy rains, and the shit started to flow into the reservoir that provides water for this whole area. I knew that if we didn't act, people would die. We had to alert everyone not to drink the water for over a week, and distribute bottles. We were lucky it was spotted. Next time..." He shook his head in fear. This is no freak: a 2004 report by Friends of the Earth found that only six per cent of Israeli settlements adequately treat their sewage.

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The McCain Health Plan: Millions Lose Coverage, Health Costs Worsen, and Insurance and Drug Industries Win
By Roger Hickey

Today Arizona Sen. John McCain will deliver what his handlers are hyping as a major address on health care. McCain's plan is a dangerous fraud.

He wants voters to think he is going after health care cost inflation. In reality, he wants to dismantle the employer-provided system that now covers over 60 percent (or about 158 million) of non-elderly Americans, forcing millions of us who now get fairly decent health insurance on the job to instead buy whatever they can find on the individual market controlled by unregulated and predatory insurance companies. And he would drive health care costs upward, not downward.

This is truly amazing: McCain and his handlers knew they had to say something about health care. So they turned to their friends (and financial supporters) in the health care industry and the conservative think tanks. And they have adopted the most extreme right-wing ideological approach, premised on the idea that the big problem in health care is that Americans have too much insurance in their words, we don't have enough skin in the game and that only when we have to buy health care with money that comes directly out of our own pockets will consumers force doctors, hospitals and insurance companies to become more efficient.

So that's the theory. But it is contradicted by the facts. Most of us already pay part of our premiums out of our own pockets, and we increasingly have to shell out for co-pays in order to get to see a doctor. The result - in practice - is that most people, even those with good insurance, now think twice or three times about even getting regular preventive health checkups. Having lots of skin in the game has meant that millions of Americans don't get health care they need - and that's one of the big problems in U.S. health care driving costs up, not down.

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Religion a figment of human imagination
by Andy Coghlan

Humans alone practice religion because they're the only creatures to have evolved imagination.

That's the argument of anthropologist Maurice Bloch of the London School of Economics. Bloch challenges the popular notion that religion evolved and spread because it promoted social bonding, as has been argued by some anthropologists.

Instead, he argues that first, we had to evolve the necessary brain architecture to imagine things and beings that don't physically exist, and the possibility that people somehow live on after they've died.

Once we'd done that, we had access to a form of social interaction unavailable to any other creatures on the planet. Uniquely, humans could use what Bloch calls the "transcendental social" to unify with groups, such as nations and clans, or even with imaginary groups such as the dead. The transcendental social also allows humans to follow the idealised codes of conduct associated with religion.

"What the transcendental social requires is the ability to live very largely in the imagination," Bloch writes.

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Henry Rollins on Wal-Mart

Sorry, Charlie. I eat bottom-feeders
In his new book, Taras Grescoe says sticking to sardines and anchovies is healthier and preserves fish stocks
by Heather Sokoloff

Taras Grescoe has toured the globe in search of the perfect seafood meal. His conclusion? Grilled sardines.

The Montreal-based author fell in love with the humble sardine after a round-the-world trip sampling everything from whale sashimi in Tokyo to fried oysters from Chesapeake Bay in an effort to learn about the ethics and sustainability of the seafood industry.

The results, chronicled in his book Bottomfeeder, to be released Saturday, will make many fish lovers think twice before ordering favourites such as ahi rolls, popcorn shrimp or salmon teriyaki.

Which is why he is sitting at a Portuguese grillerie on Boulevard St-Laurent staring at plates of barbecued sardines and calamari with the dreamy look of a food lover who knows he is about to tango with his current crush.

"Beautiful," he says. "Don't you think?"

Lunching on sardines and calamari is the way we ought to be eating, says Mr. Grescoe. At the core of his book is the notion that humans would be healthier and fish stocks in better shape if we ate more oceanic bottom-feeders - small fish and crustaceans such as sardines, anchovies, mackerel, squid and octopus - whose stocks are thriving in the absence of their overfished predators, big fish such as tuna, cod and sharks.

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US Military Coordinated Day of Prayer Events With Christian Right Group
by David Swanson

At least half-a-dozen active-duty military officials have been working closely with a task force headed by the far-right fundamentalist Christians planning religious events at military installations around the country to commemorate Thursdays National Day of Prayer.

In working directly with the National Day of Prayer (NDP) Task Force and agreeing to work as event coordinators, these military officials not only violated constitutional provisions governing the separation of church and state but they also signed an oath that states they believe that the Holy Bible is the inerrant Word of The Living God and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the only One by which I can obtain salvation and have an ongoing relationship with God, according to materials posted on NDP Task Forces website.

Furthermore, the declaration signed by the military officials says that they promise to ensure a strong, consistent Christian message throughout the nation and that National Day of Prayer events scheduled to take place at their military installations will be conducted solely by Christians.

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George Bush is John McCain's Rev. Wright
by Joan Walsh

Finally, a little data about how much the Jeremiah Wright scandal matters to voters. A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll taken during Wright's revenge tour over the last week found that voters have "major concerns" about all three candidates, but John McCain and Hillary Clinton have them a little more concerned than Barack Obama -- and McCain's ties to Bush are hurting the Republican nominee more than Obama's relationship with Wright is hurting the Democratic front-runner. So far, Obama's "bitter" remarks are hurting him more than Wright is.

The poll of 1,006 voters found that 43 percent of registered voters have major concerns that McCain is too close to the Bush administration, 36 percent have major concerns that Clinton has changed her stance on issues like NAFTA and driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, while 34 percent are bothered by Obama's "bitter" comments. Just behind, 32 percent said they were bothered by Obama's ties to Wright and former Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers, and 27 percent were concerned about former President Clinton's role in his wife's administration.

On cable news today, analysts were making a big deal about the fact that while Democrats lead Republicans by 18 points in a generic presidential matchup (51-33 percent), Obama and Clinton are both essentially tied with McCain in head-to-head matchups, but I think the Democrats' problems are overstated. Once the party unites around a candidate, the vast majority of his or her backers will back the nominee. Until then there will be a little softness in either candidate's numbers against McCain.

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US Department of Justice banned from Wikipedia
By Cade Metz

Wikipedia has temporarily blocked edits from the US Department of Justice after someone inside the government agency tried to erase references to a particularly-controversial Wiki-scandal.

Early last week, the Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) was accused of organizing a secret campaign to influence certain articles on the "free encyclopedia anyone can edit". Just days later, the DoJ's IP range was used to edit the site's entry on the Pro-Israel "media-monitoring group," lifting a new section that detailed the controversy.

The DoJ did not respond to our requests for comment. But odds are, the edits were made by a single individual acting independently. Wikipedia's ban on the department's IP is due to be lifted today.

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Urgent Press Release from Gaza
Gaza Community Mental Health Programme

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Subject: Urgent Press Release

News release - for Immediate Release - Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups today issued an urgent call to cease restrictions on Gaza's fuel supply and stop the unprecedented harm to Gaza's humanitarian needs. The above-listed rights groups warned:

"We express concern and outrage at the systematic dismantling of the Gaza Strip's vital systems by preventing the residents of Gaza, a territory under Israel's occupation, from obtaining the fuel they need to generate electricity, power hospitals, run transportation, pump water and sewage, and provide for basic social and economic needs.

We call upon Israel, the occupying power in Gaza, immediately to end the six-month long restrictions on fuel supply that have paralyzed Gaza's infrastructure and endangered the health and well-being of Gaza's 1.5 million residents.

We call on armed groups in Gaza to refrain from attacking civilians, including at the crossings that channel fuel, food, and other goods into the Gaza Strip.

We call on Israel to refrain from attacking civilians and depriving them of basic rights and needs. We emphasize Israel's obligation as the primary duty bearer under the law of occupation to ensure the humane treatment of the civilian population, including with respect to the provision of fuel to the Gaza Strip, ensuring the maintenance of hospitals, public health services and food and medical supplies and refraining from rendering useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population.

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White House downplays arrival of second U.S. aircraft carrier in Gulf, says
by Military and Security

Iran not targeted WASHINGTON, April 30 (KUNA) -- The White House on Wednesday downplayed the arrival of a second U.S. aircraft carrier in the Arabian Gulf, saying it was part of regularly scheduled military exercises and not aimed at Iran.

"They reinforce that the U.S. has an enduring commitment to the region and to our allies, and we continue to protect our allies and interests wherever necessary," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino during a White House briefing.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday said the arrival of the USS Abraham Lincoln off the coast of Iran was a "reminder" to Iran, but Pentagon officials last week expressed publicly their concerns over Iranian activities in Iraq that target U.S. troops.

Perino noted that Gates also said the United States was "currently undertaking regularly scheduled military exercises in the Gulf, and these exercises are not aimed at Iran".

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"Man Overboard!": Obama turns away from a drowning friend
By Mike Whitney

Obama is "outraged".

After weeks of blistering attacks by the media, Barak Obama held a press conference yesterday and made it official; his friendship with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright is over, terminated, kaput. He would no longer associate with a man who believed that the United States of America could do horrible things to its people or that 9-11 might have been the result of US foreign policy. As Obama said, that's just "outrageous".

Obama"s press conference:

"I have spent my whole life trying to bridge the gap between different human beings.....That's who I am and that's what this campaign is all about. Yesterday we saw a very different kind of vision of America (Rev Wright's speech to the National Press Club) I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened over the spectacle. The Reverend Wright I saw yesterday was not the person I knew 20 years ago. His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but they give comfort to those who prey on hate. They do not accurately portray my values and beliefs. If Reverend Wright thinks that is 'political posturing' than he does not know me very well. And based on his comments yesterday I may not know him as well as I thought either."

Blah. blah, blah. The media, of course, is elated with their victory; they've achieved their goal. They "persuaded" Obama to betray a friend. Mission accomplished. 1,816 articles appeared overnight on Google News celebrating the prodigals return to the fold; Barak is back. Hooray. Obama's capitulation may be the greatest media triumph since the shrewish Linda Tripp produced the blue dress with the incriminating splotch. It just doesn't get any better than this. Obama showed that he is not only willing to sacrifice his friends for his political ambitions, but that he's also willing to distance himself from the very traditions and movements which made his candidacy possible. What more could they want?

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Bush's Iran/Argentina Terror Frame-Up
By Gareth Porter

Although nukes and Iraq have been the main focus of the Bush Administration's pressure campaign against Iran, US officials also seek to tar Iran as the world's leading sponsor of terrorism. And Team Bush's latest tactic is to play up a thirteen-year-old accusation that Iran was responsible for the notorious Buenos Aires bombing that destroyed the city's Jewish Community Center, known as AMIA, killing eighty-six and injuring 300, in 1994. Unnamed senior Administration officials told the Wall Street Journal January 15 that the bombing in Argentina "serves as a model for how Tehran has used its overseas embassies and relationship with foreign militant groups, in particular Hezbollah, to strike at its enemies."

This propaganda campaign depends heavily on a decision last November by the General Assembly of Interpol, which voted to put five former Iranian officials and a Hezbollah leader on the international police organization's "red list" for allegedly having planned the July 1994 bombing. But the Wall Street Journal reports that it was pressure from the Bush Administration, along with Israeli and Argentine diplomats, that secured the Interpol vote. In fact, the Bush Administration's manipulation of the Argentine bombing case is perfectly in line with its long practice of using distorting and manufactured evidence to build a case against its geopolitical enemies.

After spending several months interviewing officials at the US Embassy in Buenos Aires familiar with the Argentine investigation, the head of the FBI team that assisted it and the most knowledgeable independent Argentine investigator of the case, I found that no real evidence has ever been found to implicate Iran in the bombing. Based on these interviews and the documentary record of the investigation, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the case against Iran over the AMIA bombing has been driven from the beginning by US enmity toward Iran, not by a desire to find the real perpetrators.

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The Tide is High
by Chris Floyd

When the murderous absurdity of our times swells to high tide, few are those who can cling fast to the rock and sing songs of scorn against the fools. One such rare singer is Arthur Silber, who here demolishes the New York Times' portentous hand-wringing over Iran's release of photos showing its not-so-top-secret nuclear site, giving the world an intimate look at the supposed furnace of evil wherein the cloven-footed Persians are plotting the destruction of all humankind.

As Silber notes, the Times does its best to whip up war-favoring hysteria over Iran's self-exposed nuclear site:

But you must always remember to be afraid, very, very afraid, as the Times helpfully reminds us at the end of the story:

Some analysts see the centrifuges, despite the disclosures of the presidential tour, as a continuing enigma. Ultimately, Tehran could use them for good or ill, for lighting cities or destroying them. Only time, they say, is likely to reveal Iran's true intentions.

Only time will tell! DA DUH DUMMMMMM!!!!

Has Iran invaded and occupied any of its neighbors? Nope. Has Iran traveled halfway around the world to invade another country? No way. Has Iran's criminal invasion and endless occupation of a country that never threatened it unleashed a series of events that have led to the slaughter of more than a million innocent people, and made four million additional people refugees? No, sir. Does Iran keep threatening the United States by saying that "all options are on the table"? Does Iran threaten to attack the United States because the U.S. actually has a huge nuclear arsenal?

A huge nuclear arsenal that, by the way, the U.S. and all its leading politicians keep threatening to unleash on Iran -- keeping in mind that all of this happens as the signs continue to mount that a U.S. attack on Iran becomes more certain and more imminent by the day?


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