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    Repiglican Roast

    A spirited discussion of public policy and current issues

    Name:
    Location: The mouth of being

    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Sunday, December 30, 2007

    Condi's Secret Lover!

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    John Edwards

    [...]
    "Everything about America is threatened today ... this is an epic struggle for the future of America," Edwards told the cheering crowd. "Corporate greed and the very powerful use their money to control Washington and this corrupting influence is destroying the middle class."
    [...]

    While Edwards has consistently campaigned on an economically populist program, his speech today in Dubuque was marked by a noticeable ratcheting up and radicalization of his critique of corporate wealth and power.

    "Why on earth would we expect the corporate powers and their lobbyists, who make billions by selling out the middle-class, to just give up their power because we ask them nicely?" Edwards asked. He made no mention of rivals Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton in today's speech; in the past, he has slammed Clinton for being too indebted to powerful Washington lobbies.

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    What Edwards is saying

    [...]
    He said people who have lobbied for a foreign government or on behalf of a corporation will not be allowed to work in his White House. That would rule out a talent pool of Democrats with Capitol Hill or Clinton White House experience, many of whom are lobbying while their party is in exile from the White House. A new president must fill thousands of jobs in the White House and the Cabinet agencies.
    [...]
    "But, what my view is that anybody who has been lobbying on behalf of big corporations are a part of the problem. Because corporate greed is what is at the heart and the soul of what's stealing the future of our children and what's killing the middle class of this country."

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    Latest Iowa Polling puts Edwards Ahead of Clinton and Obama, considered good news by this blog

    Iowa poll results

    Among Democrats:


    • Former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina has the support of 24 percent.


    • Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York has 23 percent.


    • Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois has 22 percent.


    • Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico has 12 percent.


    • Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware has 8 percent.


    • Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut has 2 percent.


    • Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio has 1 percent.


    • Undecided: 8 percent.

    Among Republicans:


    • Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has 27 percent.


    • Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has 23 percent.


    • Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson has 14 percent.


    • Sen. John McCain of Arizona has 13 percent.


    • Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has 5 percent.


    • Rep. Ron Paul of Texas has 5 percent.


    • Rep. Duncan Hunter of California has 1 percent.


    • Undecided: 12 percent.

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    Saturday, December 29, 2007

    Twelve Steps to Restore Checks and Balances

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    Killing the FDA by Republican Scum bags

    [...]

    For many decades, the right has been about as hostile toward the FDA as it has been toward Social Security -- another long-standing success story that undercuts the worldview that government is the problem rather than the solution. In a 1975 roundtable at the American Enterprise Institute, for example, Ronald Reagan claimed that the FDA was needlessly killing Americans. Referring to the drug Rifampin, he said, "I think something more than 40,000 tuberculars alone have died in this country who conceivably could have been saved by a drug that has been widely used the past few years throughout Europe." In fact, Rifampin had already been on the market in the U.S. for four years, approved by the FDA five months after the manufacturer submitted the application.

    The network of conservative and libertarian think tanks that began to sprout in the years leading up to Reagan's presidency, blossoming in full during his eight years in office, continued to hammer away at his theme of FDA as murderer, pointing to its purportedly unreasonable delays in approving drugs and medical devices. The evidence they marshaled in support of that claim wasn't much stronger than Reagan's Rifampin fiction, but over time the sheer repetition of the argument gained traction. It's worth noting that many of those same right-wing institutions demonstrated considerably less concern for the public's health when they incongruously chastised the agency for its unfair harassment of tobacco companies.

    Another persistent line of attack was most concisely expressed by Newt Gingrich, who dubbed the FDA the "number-one job killer in America." That accusation was applauded by the pharmaceutical, medical-device, and food industry funders of both the Republican Party and conservative think tanks, reinforcing their threats to relocate to countries with less stringent regulatory oversight.

    Charting the phases of the FDA's decline lays bare the responsibility borne by movement conservatism. The first phase was the two terms of the Reagan presidency, when the FDA's staff declined by 30 percent. After a reprieve from 1988 to 1994, when more moderate presidents and a Democratic Congress provided ample boosts in the agency's budget and staffing, the FDA's garroting resumed with a vengeance in the wake of the 1994 Republican landslide that catapulted Gingrich to the House Speaker's chair. He led a highly effective jihad against the agency, pushing to privatize many of its activities. The onslaught continued under George W. Bush and the Republican Congress. From 1994 to 2007, according to former FDA chief counsel Hutt, the agency's appropriated personnel declined from 9,167 to 7,856, while its funding increased by only two-thirds of the amount that would have been needed to keep up with inflation.

    As with virtually every other regulatory agency under Bush, the FDA henhouse has been guarded by foxes. That is, for top leadership positions the administration chose political appointees with close ties to the industries they regulate. That strategy of stifling nonpolitical career civil servants, not incidentally, conforms with recommendations the Heritage Foundation made to Bush at the outset of his term. One example at the FDA was chief counsel Dan Troy, a longtime opponent of FDA regulation who had previously represented Pfizer.

    What does it look like when an agency assigned to protect public health and safety drowns in a bathtub? Some snippets from the report:

    • IT systems fail frequently, and even e-mail systems are unstable -- most recently during an E. coli food contamination investigation. More importantly, reports of product dangers are not rapidly compared and analyzed, inspectors' reports are still hand written and slow to work their way through the compliance system, and the systems for managing imported products can not communicate with Customs and other governmental systems (and often miss significant product arrivals because the system cannot even distinguish, for example, between road salt and table salt).
    • During the past 35 years, the decrease in FDA funding for inspection of our food supply has forced FDA to impose a 78 percent reduction in food inspections, at a time when the food industry has been rapidly expanding and food importation has exponentially increased. FDA estimates that, at most, it inspects food manufacturers once every 10 years.
    • Even as the number of "adverse events" from prescription drugs has increased by 146 percent from 1996 to 2006 -- to 471,679 last year -- there has been no increase in FDA personnel to review those reports.
    • [...]

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    Conservatism-> High Energy Costs->Foreclosures->Starving Citizens

    Food banks across Massachusetts, already hobbled by state and federal budget cuts, are struggling to meet the increasing demands of a faltering economy beset by the mortgage debacle and higher food and energy costs.

    'We're literally in a crisis. Even middle-income families are on the brink too,' said Andrew Morehouse, executive director of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, based in Hatfield. 'If costs continue to rise, it's going to be even worse. The situation we are in now should be telling us we must do something about this.'

    Two chief factors are making this a dismal season for food banks and the people who rely on them: reductions in federal food donations and shrinking governmental funding.

    As noted here earlier, the mortgage crisis (the Gazette reports foreclosures tripled in Mass. this year) happen in part because conservatives weren't interested in regulating banks.

    And high energy costs for dirty fossil fuel, along with the lack of affordable clean alternatives, are a signature failure of Bush's conservative energy policy and foreign policy.

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    By February 5, more than 50% of delegates will be locked up

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    Compare campaign contributions by industry

    chart

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    SEC proposes curbing shareholder power

    [..]

    Over the past 15 years, a series of shareholder resolutions have helped force Nike to monitor labor conditions in its international supply chain. And shareholder resolutions have persuaded corporations, including Tyco and American Electric Power, to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions.

    But the SEC has proposed curbing these non-binding shareholder resolutions after a Sept. 2006 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second District in New York spurred the agency to clarify a rule on whether shareholders can pass resolutions to nominate a person for a company’s board of directors. As a result of the court’s decision, the SEC drafted two proposals. The first would prevent such nominations. The second would allow them—but only with extensive restrictions. In the document explaining these proposals, SEC commissioners also discussed changing the way with which shareholder resolutions are dealt.

    “From a legal point of view, the [SEC’s document] is not a formal rule proposal,” says Domini Social Investments General Counsel Adam Kanzer. “But you have to take this seriously because it means the SEC is considering something and the next step might be a formal proposal.”

    On Nov. 28, 2007, in a 3-1 party line vote, the SEC blocked investors from nominating board of director candidates. The vote did not deal with the proposed revisions to the shareholder resolution process, so it remains unclear whether commissioners will keep that proposal on their agenda. Socially responsible investment leaders say they are watching carefully to see if the SEC will return its focus to shareholder resolutions this spring.


    [...]

    Along with targeting deforestation, sweatshops, greenhouse gas emissions, investment in oppressive regimes and other such issues, non-binding shareholder resolutions can address corporate governance issues, including creating transparency, non-discriminatory hiring, and capping CEO salaries. Many times, a company may agree to change its policies to avoid having a resolution included on the proxy statement for its annual meeting.

    But in the SEC’s recent proposal, the agency suggests allowing corporations to “opt-out” of allowing non-binding advisory shareholder resolutions.

    “The companies that don’t want to be held accountable would be the ones to opt-out,” says Tim Smith, chairman of the Social Investment Forum, a nonprofit organization whose members include hundreds of banks, mutual fund companies, analysts, and other financial professionals and institutions.

    [...]

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    Planes Fly Too Close In 2 Reported Incidents in Chicago

    [...]
    On Thursday, two air traffic controllers at the FAA's Chicago Center radar facility in Aurora directed an American Airlines MD-80 jet traveling east from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport to descend from 29,600 feet to 29,000 feet. However, the pilot did not follow the instructions, according a statement from FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro.

    "The controller did not realize that the pilot was not following the instruction," according to the statement.

    A regional jet traveling northwest at 30,000 feet to Milwaukee came within 4.16 miles of the MD-80 near Goshen, Ind., but the planes had already passed each other when they reached the close distance, Molinaro said.

    In another incident, also reported Friday, two Boeing 757s, one operated by American Airlines and another operated by United Airlines, were 2.8 miles apart as they prepared to land one after the other Thursday at O'Hare as directed by controllers at FAA's Chicago Terminal Radar Approach Control facility in Elgin. The standard distance is generally four miles, according to David Stock, president of approach control.
    [...]

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    NYC, Chicago report lowest murder rates in 40 years

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    Corporate Idiots wh Took away Marshall Fields Name and others and Dumbed down their stores, closing down 9

    Department-store operator Macy's Inc. on Friday said it will shutter nine underperforming stores, which collectively employ nearly 900 staffers, the latest indication of a weak retail environment.The image “http://www.cbsnews.com/images/2006/09/09/image4cda1dc2-c284-4093-84ae-6ff2dde45b24.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

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    He Even Looks Like an Asshole

    U.S. President George W. Bush speaks about the death of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, December 27, 2007.

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    Insurance Co Aetna Making Treatment Decisions While Brainwashed Americans Fret "socialized" medicine will take away their choice. What choice is that?

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    Tasered At Best Buy

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    Wars Cost $15 Billion a Month, GOP Senator Says

    [...]
    "This cost of this war is approaching $15 billion a month, with the Army spending $4.2 billion of that every month," Sen. Ted Stevens (Alaska), the ranking Republican on the Appropriations defense subcommittee, said in a little-noticed floor speech Dec. 18. His remarks came in support of adding $70 billion to the omnibus fiscal 2008 spending legislation to pay for the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, as well as counterterrorism activities, for the six months from Oct. 1, 2007, through March 31 of next year.
    [...]

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    Chimp Plans to Sell High Tech Bomb Gear to Saudi Arabia, Home of most 9/11 Hijackers

    [...]
    The projected deal involves tail kits that turn unguided bombs into precision munitions with built-in satellite and motion-sensor navigation systems.
    [...]

    In July, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described planned U.S. sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman as a counter to "the negative influences" of al Qaeda and Hezbollah as well as the countries Syria and Iran.

    But some lawmakers doubt Saudi Arabia's "reliability as a counterterrorism partner," said Christopher Blanchard, a Middle East expert at the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. Their concerns include allegations of terrorist financing and the flow of Saudi fighters to Iraq, he said.

    Israel became the first foreign buyer of JDAMs in 2000. Since then, 18 countries have followed, according to Boeing's Web site. The weapon has been used widely in the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    [...]

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    Economy, health care slip past Iraq as top issues in new poll, possible boost for Democrats

    [...]

    More than half the voters in an ongoing survey for The Associated Press and Yahoo News say the economy and health care are extremely important to them personally. They fear they will face unexpected medical expenses, their homes will lose value or mortgage and credit card payments will overwhelm them.

    Events, however, can quickly change public opinion. Thursday's assassination of Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto could draw more attention to terrorism and national security, an issue that still ranked highly with the public and which 45 percent of those polled considered extremely important.

    [...]

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    Yoga may reverse risk of heart disease

    The image “http://www.sunandmoonstudio.com/Poses/PosePics/locust.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

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    Bhutto Died of Skull Fracture

    [...]
    Authorities on Thursday said Bhutto died from bullet wounds fired by a young man who then blew himself up, killing 20 other people. A surgeon who treated her said Friday she died from the impact of shrapnel on her skull.

    But later Friday, Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema said all three shots missed her as she greeted supporters through the sunroof of her vehicle, which was bulletproof and bombproof.

    He also denied that shrapnel caused her death, saying Bhutto was killed when she tried to duck back into the vehicle, and the shock waves from the blast knocked her head into a lever attached to the sunroof, fracturing her skull.
    [...]

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    Bhutto Family Dynasty

    Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, Dec. 27
    Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on Dec. 27 in a suicide attack that also killed at least 20 others at a campaign rally in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. The death of the 54-year-old charismatic former prime minister threw the campaign for the Jan. 8, 2008, parliamentary elections into chaos and created fears of mass protests and violence across the nuclear-armed nation, an important U.S. ally in the war on terrorism." class="gallery-slideshow-photo" height="410" width="321">

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    Advertisements on Your Cell Phone

    Your cell phone is a potential gold mine for marketers: It can reveal where you are, whom you call and even what music you like.

    Considering the phone is usually no more than a few feet away, these are powerful clues for figuring out just the right moment to deliver the right coupon for the store just around the corner.

    [...]

    Imagine getting pitches for rental cars and hotels the moment you land in San Francisco because an analysis of past calls suggests you tend to take weeklong trips there. Or if day trips to Boston are your thing, you might get an offer for cab service instead.

    "My phone has a lot of very specific and detailed information about myself ... information that isn't always going to be resident when I'm at a number of PC browsers," said Rob Adler, chief executive for mobile Web company go2 Media Inc.

    The research firm eMarketer estimates that U.S. spending in mobile ads, at about $900 million in 2007, will grow more than fivefold to nearly $4.8 billion in 2011. By contrast, paid search and other online spending will only double, to about $42 billion in 2011.

    Mobile ads today are mostly blasted at the mass audiences, with a few carriers offering limited targeting based on users' age, gender, ZIP code and other characteristics.

    That should change. Ever since the Federal Communications Commission ruled in 1996 that wireless carriers must help 911 dispatchers identify a caller's location, technology companies and privacy advocates alike have been speculating about making phones' location information available to commercial services and advertisers.

    "It's always been the next big thing around the corner the last 10 years, and now we really feel that it is," said Brian Levin, chief executive for Liberty Media Corp.'s Useful Networks Inc., a company that helps outside developers tap location information from cell carriers.

    [...]

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    Seattle Times publisher hints at deep cuts

    [...]

    In 2000, the paper booked $270 million in ad revenue, while in 2007, it fell below $200 million, he said.

    "Our Seattle Times newspaper losses for the decade will exceed $40 million -- a staggering number," he wrote.

    The publisher's senior leadership group has "found reductions of about $21 million" and needs to cut an additional $6 million "to ensure stability next year," Blethen said. Even saving $27 million "leaves a significant gap with the revenue losses," he said.

    But, he said, if The Times can adjust to lower revenues, "I believe we are on our way to creating the metro newspaper model of the future."

    That newspaper would appear in print and online, offering news, information and advertising, he said. Though online ad revenue is essential, it now equals only about 10 percent of The Times' print revenue, he said.

    Blethen noted that the McClatchy Co., which owns 49.5 percent of the controlling stock of The Times Co., has twice written down the value of that holding.

    The shares were valued at "well over $200 million" when the Sacramento, Calif.-based company acquired them through its $4.1 billion purchase of Knight Ridder Inc. in June 2006, he said. They were valued at "only $19 million" last month, he said.

    [...]

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    So called Liberal New York Times to Hire Right Wing Extremist Bill "war Monger" Kristol

    kristol223411.jpg

    Kristol’s lies, distortions, and hawkish proposals are notorious. A sampling of the views that New York Times readers may now be reading on a weekly basis:

    – Iran halting its nuclear weapons program is “another feather in the cap for Iraq invasion.”

    – The U.S. should “put everything” behind Iraq escalation so we can bomb Iran and Syria.

    – Markos Moulitsas is the “left-wing blogger who was not respectable three or four years ago.”

    – “Sober, serious” people want over 100,000 troops in Iraq when Bush leaves office.

    – Let’s “stretch our Army and Marines” for “another year or so” in Iraq.

    – A presidential pardon for Scooter Libby would remove the “cloud hanging over his White House and over the war.”

    – College men are “very happy” that Plan B will now be sold over-the-counter because they can have “a wild night” and “the burden is off them.”

    – On SCHIP veto: “I’m happy that the President’s willing to do something bad for the kids. ”

    – Al Gore “got the Nobel Peace Prize for bloviating about global warming.”

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    Friday, December 28, 2007

    NAFTA has led to a loss of one million factory jobs in the U.S

    In Mexico, farmers plan nationwide protests over what will be the final step in implementing the North American Free Trade Agreement on Jan. 1 and eliminating tariffs on American-grown beans and corn. The U.S. will drop tariffs on flip-flops, glassware and sugar, the most price-sensitive import.

    ``Back in 1993 when Nafta was negotiated, 15 years was a lifetime away,'' said Daniel Erikson, a senior associate at the non-partisan Inter-American Dialogue in Washington. ``But now this is really affecting the most sensitive products.''

    The free-trade agreement among the U.S., Mexico and Canada created the world's biggest trade bloc, with exchange of goods and services between the U.S. and Mexico more than quadrupling to $332 billion a year, according to government data.

    Right Wing Bill Clinton's gift of "free trade" to his corporate backers

    Critics say the agreement has led to a loss of one million factory jobs in the U.S., while subsidized U.S. imports pushed millions of farmers in Mexico off their land and spurred illegal immigration.

    ``Mexican agriculture has been a net loser in trade with the United States, and employment in the sector has declined sharply,'' former Clinton administration official Sandra Polaski testified before the U.S. Senate last year.

    Political Impact

    Nafta also has had a political impact in both countries.

    In Mexico, protesters plan to form a human wall at main U.S. border crossing-points to block grain imports. The National Confederation of Farmers, with 5 million members, said there might be an armed revolt similar to the Zapatista rebel uprising in January 1994 when Nafta took effect.

    ``For us, this is an issue of food sovereignty,'' Carlos Navarro Lopez, who heads the Rural Development Committee in Mexico's lower house of Congress, said in an interview. ``The main goal of the protests is to force the federal government to sit down with the farmer and lawmakers to see how we can seek a renegotiation.''

    Mexico's two biggest opposition groups, the Party of the Democratic Revolution and the Institutional Revolutionary Party, plan to reverse the opening by proposing the creation of a ministerial committee to control all food imports, said members of both parties.

    In the U.S., Democrats including presidential candidate John Edwards and union officials blame Nafta for lost jobs and stagnant middle-class wages. They have pledged not to pursue similar types of agreements with other countries.

    Safety Standards

    ``There's no doubt that Nafta needs to be amended,'' Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said in a debate Dec. 13.

    No. It needs to be repealed.

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    Bush Brings Privatization Democracy to Iraq

    The Iraqi government announcement that monthly food rations will be cut by half has left many Iraqis asking how they can survive.

    Well, they can join the insurgency and kill some Americans. Good living in that. In fact, due to republikkkan philosophy and management, one of the best livings to be had in Iraq is as an insurgent. Other jobs are in the hands of foreign nationals in the guise of CONTRACTORS.

    The government also wants to reduce the number of people depending on the rationing system by five million by June.

    Iraq's food rations system was introduced by the Saddam Hussein government in 1991 in response to the UN economic sanctions. Families were allotted basic foodstuffs monthly because the Iraqi Dinar and the economy collapsed.


    Well no wonder the right wanted to depose the bastard after they made and armed him. He was clearly a communist.

    The sanctions, imposed after Saddam Hussein ordered the invasion of Kuwait, were described as "genocidal" by Denis Halliday, then UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq. Halliday quit his post in protest against the U.S.-backed sanctions.

    A Bush was int he white house. They are pure blooded Nazis. Genocide is what I always expect from Nazis.


    The sanctions killed half a million Iraqi children, and as many adults, according to the UN. They brought malnutrition, disease, and lack of medicines. Iraqis became nearly completely reliant on food rations for survival. The programme has continued into the U.S.-led occupation.

    Why do they hate us?

    But now the U.S.-backed Iraqi government has announced it will halve the essential items in the ration because of "insufficient funds and spiralling inflation."

    Plenty of funds for Blackwater, DynCorp, Halliburton etc. Where is that oil money? How about that missing 9 billion?

    The cuts, which are to be introduced in the beginning of 2008, have drawn widespread criticism. The Iraqi government is unable to supply the rations with several billion dollars at its disposal, whereas Saddam Hussein was able to maintain the programme with less than a billion dollars.

    Interesting. Apparently Saddam was simply a better manager than the fascists and their Iraqi puppet government.

    "In 2007, we asked for 3.2 billion dollars for rationing basic foodstuffs," Mohammed Hanoun, Iraq's chief of staff for the ministry of trade told al-Jazeera. "But since the prices of imported foodstuff doubled in the past year, we requested 7.2 billion dollars for this year. That request was denied."



    And why import food? Because Monsanto signed a contract or some bullshit like that? Yes, of course, Globalization. Globalization is a desperately bad and destructive thing that benefits only a handful of people

    The trade ministry is now preparing to slash the list of subsidised items by half to five basic food items, "namely flour, sugar, rice, oil, and infant milk," Hanoun said.

    The imminent move will affect nearly 10 million people who depend on the rationing system. But it has already caused outrage in Baquba, 40 km northeast of Baghdad.

    How nice. a million dead Iraqi's. $ million displaced Iraqis. Who knows how many maimed and traumatized Iraqis, but the Bush Reich and their puppet government want to guarantee a little starvation into the ugly mix.

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    Thursday, December 27, 2007

    Federal judge rules against S.F. on health care plan

    [...]

    White's ruling could also impede other state and local efforts to cover the uninsured in the absence of a national law. A state health care bill endorsed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and approved by the Assembly would be partly funded by employer fees, subject to state voters' approval.

    City Attorney Dennis Herrera said he would ask the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Thursday for an emergency stay that would allow the employer fee to take effect as scheduled Jan. 2 while the city appealed White's ruling. Without a stay, Herrera said, "tens of thousands of San Francisco residents and workers will be deprived of critically necessary health care services."

    Mayor Gavin Newsom said the program

    [...]

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    Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Wednesday that employers could reduce or eliminate health benefits for retirees when they turn 65

    [...]

    More than 10 million retirees rely on employer-sponsored health plans as a primary source of coverage or as a supplement to Medicare, and Naomi C. Earp, the commission’s chairwoman, said, “This rule will help employers continue to voluntarily provide and maintain these critically important health benefits.”

    Premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose an average of 6.1 percent this year and have increased 78 percent since 2001, according to surveys by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Because of the rising cost of health care and the increased life expectancy of workers, the commission said, many employers refuse to provide retiree health benefits or even to negotiate on the issue.

    [...]

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    Crude Oil and Total Petroleum Imports Top 15 Countries

    Crude Oil Imports (Top 15 Countries)
    (Thousand Barrels per Day)
    Country Oct-07 Sep-07 YTD 2007 Oct-06 Jan - Oct 2006

    CANADA
    SAUDI ARABIA
    MEXICO
    VENEZUELA
    NIGERIA
    IRAQ
    ANGOLA
    ECUADOR
    ALGERIA
    BRAZIL
    COLOMBIA
    UNITED KINGDOM
    KUWAIT
    RUSSIA
    LIBYA
    Total Imports of Petroleum (Top 15 Countries)
    (Thousand Barrels per Day)
    Country Oct-07 Sep-07 YTD 2007 Oct-06 Jan - Oct 2006

    CANADA
    MEXICO
    SAUDI ARABIA
    VENEZUELA
    NIGERIA
    ALGERIA
    IRAQ
    ANGOLA
    RUSSIA
    VIRGIN ISLANDS
    ECUADOR
    UNITED KINGDOM
    NORWAY
    BRAZIL
    NETHERLANDS

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    Dozens die in Nigeria oil blaze


    [...]
    "From what people in the area have told our volunteers, it seems that there was a leakage from the pipeline and the people were trying to take advantage of that to scoop fuel," Orebiyi said.
    The Daily Trust newspaper reported on Wednesday that charred bodies littered the scene, along with buckets and jerry cans the victims had been using to gather fuel.
    Such disasters are frequent in Nigeria, Africa's most populous country and the continent's top exporter of crude oil.
    Nine out of 10 Nigerians live on less than $2 a day and many are prepared to take huge risks to obtain free fuel.

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    Blowback, Pakistan-style

    [...]

    Bhutto's return was the public symbol of the government's new, get tough attitude. "I know who these people are, I know the forces behind them," Bhutto explained to the New York Times.

    Left unsaid, and unquestioned, was why Bhutto is so familiar with "these people," most of whom are hiding out in the NWFP: The governments she led during the late 1980s and mid 1990s were, in conjunction with Pakistan's notorious intelligence services (ISI), among the most important sponsors of the Taliban.

    Successive Pakistani governments supported the Taliban and the militants who would form the core of al-Qaeda not just because of their role in expelling the Soviets from Afghanistan.

    As important was the need to co-opt and keep busy this potentially destabilising new force in the complex political landscape of the NWFP.

    The problem is that Pakistan's leaders were viewing the NWFP and FATA through the same distorted lens as the British did before them, seeing the region as a bastion of backwards tribes which could be manipulated and cajoled into preserving a status quo that left most of the people living in the region among the most underdeveloped people on earth.

    [...]

    The suicide bombings against Bhutto's welcome home procession are only a taste of the chaos and large-scale violence that would erupt if a politician or party actually challenged the finely honed corruption and horse-trading that has defined Pakistani politics for generations.

    Although its causes would owe as much to economic and political inequalities as to religious or tribal ideologies, such a development would inevitably be interpreted as yet another example of "ancient tribal hatreds" dooming a developing country to perpetual war and

    poverty.

    Only this country is a nuclear-weapons state that is home to the world's most dangerous terrorists.

    And unlike Bosnia or Rwanda, the US would be forced to intervene, fulfilling Osama bin Laden's wildest dreams when he turned commuter planes into cruise missiles on that warm September morning over the island of Manhattan, six years ago last month.

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    ANALYSIS: Conspiracy theories abound over Benazir Bhutto slaying

    [...]
    The most astounding aspect of Thursday's events is the negligence displayed by Bhutto's security detail. According to reports, the assassin managed to approach Bhutto and position himself within a short distance of her, before proceeding to shoot her and detonate the explosives with which he was strapped. Not only did the assassin want to cause maximum casualties, but he also hoped that authorities would later be unable to identify him and thus ascertain which organization he was working for.

    What makes the security failure all the more startling is the fact that it comes just weeks after the first assassination attempt following Bhutto's return to Pakistan from a lengthy political exile.

    [...]

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    Gold hits fresh 1-month high as Bhutto's death sparks jitters

    [...]
    Gold rose to 830.40 usd an ounce, its highest value since Nov 27, as the news hit the wires.
    [...]

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    U.S. stocks decline, unsettled by Bhutto death. Oil Companies Profit

    [...]
    The drop in stock futures followed media reports that Pakistani opposition leader Bhutto was killed following a suicide bombing that also killed at least 20 others who attended a political rally in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Read full story.
    Crude-oil futures also surged on the news of Bhutto's death, as energy traders worried about increased tensions in the Middle East. See Futures Movers.
    On Wednesday, U.S. stocks finished with mild gains amid concerns over holiday retail sales and downbeat housing data. The Dow industrials rose 2 points, the Nasdaq Composite rose 10 points and the S&P 500 added a point.
    [...]

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    Profile of Benazir Bhutto

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    Bhutto Assassinated

    http://www.harrywalker.com/photos/Bhutto_Benazir.jpg

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    Wednesday, December 26, 2007

    October Home Prices Post Record Decline

    The record 6.7 percent drop in the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index also marked the 23rd consecutive month prices either grew more slowly or declined.
    [...]
    A broader index of 20 metropolitan areas fell 6.1 percent. Among the 20 metropolitan areas used in the broader index, 11 posted record monthly declines and all 20 declined in October compared to September.
    [...]

    Miami posted the largest decline among those 20 markets. Home prices in the Miami metropolitan area fell 12.4 percent in October compared to the same month last year, surpassing Tampa, Fla. as the worst-performing city. Tampa posted a year-over-year loss of 11.8 percent.

    Besides those two cities, Detroit, Las Vegas, Phoenix and San Diego also posted double-digit year-over-year declines.

    Atlanta and Dallas, which had previously posted price appreciation, fell in October. Prices fell 0.7 percent in Atlanta and 0.1 percent in Dallas compared to a year earlier.

    Only three areas — Charlotte, N.C., Portland, Ore. and Seattle — posted year-over-year home price appreciation in October. Charlotte posted the largest gains at 4.3 percent.

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    Bush signs $555 BILLION spending bill, funds operations into next year

    [...]
    Bush and his Senate GOP allies forced the Iraq money upon anti-war Democrats as the price for permitting the year-end budget deal to pass and be signed.

    Democrats tried to use war spending legislation to force a change in Bush’s Iraq policy, chiefly by setting a withdrawal goal with dates such as Dec. 15, 2009. But Bush and Republicans held a powerful hand. They knew Democrats would not let money lapse for troops overseas. That allowed a Bush veto in May and GOP stalling tactics to determine the outcome.

    On the domestic budget, Bush’s GOP allies were divided over whether the overall spending bill was a victory for their party in the long fight with Democrats over agency budgets.

    Conservatives and outside watchdog groups criticized the bill for having about $28 billion in domestic spending that topped Bush’s budget and was paid for by a combination of “emergency” spending, transfers from the defense budget and other maneuvers.

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    Another Reason Progressive Need to FORGET Obama

    [...]

    More seriously, many pundits have attributed last year's Republican defeat to Iraq, with the implication that once the war has receded as an issue, the right will reassert its natural political advantage—in spite of polls that show a large Democratic advantage on just about every domestic issue.

    [...]

    not long ago it was conventional wisdom among the chattering classes that America had entered an era of long-term Republican—and conservative—dominance. I have a whole shelf of books with titles like One Party Country and Building Red America, all of them explaining why movement conservatism—the interlocking set of institutions, ranging from the Heritage Foundation to Fox News, that make up the modern American right—is invincible.

    And it's true that even now, polls suggest that Americans are about twice as likely to identify themselves as conservatives as they are to identify themselves as liberals.

    But if you look at peoples' views on actual issues, as opposed to labels, the electorate's growing liberalism is unmistakable. Don't take my word for it; look at the massive report Pew released earlier this year on trends in "political attitudes and core values." Pew found "increased public support for the social safety net, signs of growing public concern about income inequality, and a diminished appetite for assertive national security policies." Meanwhile, nothing's the matter with Kansas: People are ever less inclined to support conservative views on moral values—and have become dramatically more liberal on racial issues.

    [...]

    The question, however, is whether Democrats will take advantage of America's new liberalism. To do that, they have to be ready to forcefully make the case that progressive goals are right and conservatives are wrong. They also need to be ready to fight some very nasty political battles.

    [...]

    But any attempt to change America's direction, to implement a real progressive agenda, will necessarily be highly polarizing. Proposals for universal health care, in particular, are sure to face a firestorm of partisan opposition. And fundamental change can't be accomplished by a politician who shuns partisanship.

    I like to remind people who long for bipartisanship that FDR's drive to create Social Security was as divisive as Bush's attempt to dismantle it. And we got Social Security because FDR wasn't afraid of division. In his great Madison Square Garden speech, he declared of the forces of "organized money": "Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred."

    So, here's my worry: Democrats, with the encouragement of people in the news media who seek bipartisanship for its own sake, may fall into the trap of trying to be anti-Bushes—of trying to transcend partisanship, seeking some middle ground between the parties.

    That middle ground doesn't exist—and if Democrats try to find it, they'll squander a huge opportunity. Right now, the stars are aligned for a major change in America's direction. If the Democrats play nice, that opportunity may soon be gone.

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    The Chimp Expands His Global War

    Beginning early next year, U.S. Special Forces are expected to vastly expand their presence in Pakistan, as part of an effort to train and support indigenous counter-insurgency forces and clandestine counterterrorism units, according to defense officials involved with the planning.

    These Pakistan-centric operations will mark a shift for the U.S. military and for U.S. Pakistan relations. In the aftermath of Sept. 11, the U.S. used Pakistani bases to stage movements into Afghanistan. Yet once the U.S. deposed the Taliban government and established its main operating base at Bagram, north of Kabul, U.S. forces left Pakistan almost entirely. Since then, Pakistan has restricted U.S. involvement in cross-border military operations as well as paramilitary operations on its soil.

    [...]

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    Raytheon: Army aware of missile's flaw

    [...]
    Just how much confidence military officers should have in the Patriot missile has been an issue for years. Originally designed as a ground defense against aircraft, Patriot missiles and their launchers gained fame during the Gulf War of 1991 when they were pressed into service to defend against Iraqi Scud missiles.
    [...]

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    F-15 Grounding Strains U.S. Air Defenses

    The grounding of hundreds of F-15s because of dangerous structural defects is straining the nation's air defense network, forcing some states to rely on their neighbors' fighter jets for protection, and Alaska to depend on the Canadian military.

    The F-15 is the sole fighter at many of the 16 or so "alert" sites around the country, where planes and pilots stand ready to take off at a moment's notice to intercept hijacked airliners, Cessnas that wander into protected airspace, and other threats.

    The Air Force grounded about 450 F-15s after one of the fighters began to break apart in the air and crashed Nov. 2 in Missouri. An Air Force investigation found "possible fleet-wide airworthiness problems" because of defects in the metal rails that hold the fuselage together. It is not clear when the F-15s will be allowed to fly again.

    [...]

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    Ofra Haza - IM Nin' Alu

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    One person has been killed and two others injured after a tiger escaped from its cage at San Francisco Zoo

    Tatiana, tiger at San Francisco zoo

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    50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2007

    1. George W. Bush

    Charges: Is it a civil rights milestone to have a retarded president? Maybe it would be, if he were ever legitimately elected. You can practically hear the whole nation holding its breath, hoping this guy will just fucking leave come January '09 and not declare martial law. Only supporters left are the ones who would worship a fucking turnip if it promised to kill foreigners. Is so clearly not in charge of his own White House that his feeble attempts to define himself as "decider" or "commander guy" are the equivalent of a five-year-old kid sitting on his dad's Harley and saying "vroom vroom!" Has lost so many disgusted staffers that all he's left with are the kids from Jesus Camp. The first president who is so visibly stupid he can say "I didn't know what was in the National Intelligence Estimate until last week" and sound plausible. Inarguably a major criminal and a much greater threat to the future of America than any Muslim terrorist.

    Exhibit A: "And there is distrust in Washington. I am surprised, frankly, at the amount of distrust that exists in this town. And I'm sorry it's the case, and I'll work hard to try to elevate it."

    Sentence: Dismembered, limbs donated to injured veterans.

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    Disappointing Sales During Holiday Season

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    Greenburgh NY unveils Plan for Indenetured Servitude of Elderly. Kindler Gentler Nation Really Rolling.

    [...]

    The proposal has caused a stir in Greenburgh, a town of 90,000 in Westchester County, which has the nation's third-highest homeowner property taxes. The plan would be unusual if not unique in New York, but similar programs are considered successes in Colorado, Massachusetts, South Carolina and elsewhere.

    Davison, who suffers from arthritis and sciatica and needs a walker to get around on her bad days, said she pays about $12,000 a year in property taxes—perhaps $2,000 to the town—and has already taken out a reverse mortgage to pay her bills.

    [...]

    Feiner is suggesting creating about 25 slots for seniors and letting them work off $500 or so a year. His proposal faces some obstacles. If the wages earned are to be tax-free and directly credited to the property tax bill, the state Legislature would have to approve. In addition, unions would have to be convinced that the program is no threat to their members' job security.

    [...]


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    Tuesday, December 25, 2007

    Oscar Peterson dies at 82

    Steinway D Grand Piano

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    This and a good portion of the attendent comments enraged me

    In recent days, Jonathan Klein signed a four-year contract extension to remain as president of CNN/U.S. Accordingly, Mr. Klein was in a good mood as he addressed staffers during a quarterly Q&A session at the Time Warner Center on the afternoon of Dec. 17.

    CNN Worldwide, he told the troops, was enjoying its fourth straight year of double-digit profit growth. “It hasn’t been the greatest news year,” Mr. Klein said. “There haven’t been major news events that have moved the needle. But overall, we’re up pretty significantly, which is nice.”

    Klein's idea for boosting ratings was take CNN even further to the right than it already was by adding overpaid, hate belching, kkk scum like Glen Beck and Nancy Grace to the already right wing roster of the main channel and headline news.

    CNN was already the station of Lou Dobbs, self righteous hate monger and bigot, spewing erroneous information about the economic system, Zionist Playboy and AIPAC operative Wolf Blitzer and the ever vacuous Anderson Cooper. There is no progressive point of view whatsoever reported on CNN. In fact, there is little news of any kind reported on CNN or Fox or MSNBC. It is entertainment, propaganda and highly filtered pablum spoon fed to those who can't think on their own.

    Cable news simply isn't news. Cable news is entertainment and disinformation. And the target demographic is that dumb ass segment of the American public that thinks watching television is a reasonable way to stay informed.

    Have you, for example, ever seen a gay point of view on CNN? Or a working class point of view? Have you heard union members interviewed about NAFTA on a television news program? How about working mothers interviewed about the war in Iraq?

    Do you grasp that the cable news roster of experts are pulled straight from government and corporate offices and other vested interests - though a wider sampling than are pulled by CNN than by FOX news, FOX News which is an absolute joke to anyone with even a modicum of intelligence.
    Have you ever seen the Palestinian or even Egyptian view point represented on CNN? Of course not.
    Since its inception CNN has reported on the Israeli occupation of Palestine as though it is both just and legal as well as the fault of the Arabs who are invariably portrayed as inferior to westerners and often depicted as terrorists.
    Nothing left wing about that BULLSHIT.
    How about the lead up to the illegal and immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq for profit? Did anyone on CNN ask a single journalistic question? Hell no. They went right along for the ride as big media has always done and will always do because it is there to serve its own financial interest, not the interest of the public.
    In fact the advent of cable news seems to have triggered a decline in IQ points in the United States. People are certainly deeply, seriously, injuriously misinformed. And whether people are stupid, intellectually lazy, just distracted or overwhelmed or some other option, I'm just not sure, but many people tend to parrot whatever crap they're hawking on TV with no thought of their own and without ever seeking information from another source.

    My favorite examples of this are Americans who speak of Iraq withdrawal by saying, "They've been killing each other for hundreds of years: they can just keep on." As though westerners haven't been engaged in that same violence, that same killing and the some. As though Muslims are just born bad. As though the problems in the middle east are independent of western interference in those countries.
    And the other golden example I so do love was during the lead up and early days of the Iraq war when they average TV watching idiot would invariably say " I want to fight them there so we don't have to fight them here."
    Real deep thought that.

    How significantly, he didn’t say. But according to Nielsen data provided by CNN, through the end of November, the cable network’s total day and prime time audience had increased by 3 percent overall and 5 percent in the crucial 25-54 demographic versus the same stretch last year.

    Still, the network continues to chase Fox News in across-the-board ratings, and at the same time must fend off MSNBC, which so far has enjoyed a 20 percent jump in total year-to-date viewers over last year—thanks in part to the popularity of its late-night “doc block,” which often features grisly true-crime narratives and repurposed Dateline programming.

    MSNBC is actually allowing a progressive point of view on the air for a minute or 2 each day. That's why their ratings have jumped up.

    “When they do that, they’re really competing with Court TV,” Mr. Klein later told NYTV in an interview in his office overlooking Columbus Circle. “They’re saying, in effect, we give up trying to cover the news in any meaningful way. It enhances our brand. We’re the last man standing in terms of covering the news. We love that.”

    In his newsroom talk, Mr. Klein addressed the biggest challenge facing his channel—namely, its long underperforming 8 p.m. slot, which regularly gets trounced by FNC’s Bill O’Reilly and MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann.

    Mr. Klein suggested that Campbell Brown’s new 8 p.m. show, set to debut in February, would compete by being “more talk-oriented,” by featuring fewer “formal pieces,” and by on occasion capitalizing on Ms. Brown’s sometimes-comic sensibility towards the news, à la Comedy’s Central The Daily Show. “Jon Stewart should not corner the market on innovative uses of tape,” said Mr. Klein. “He wishes he had access to the amount of material we get in every day.”

    In other words LESS NEWS/MORE CRAP

    He also laid out some goals for 2008, telling staffers that in the coming year he was aiming for CNN to significantly boost its morning ratings, to win the 10 p.m. prime time hour, where Anderson Cooper currently trails Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, and to establish CNN as the go-to destination when “people think about watching politics.”

    Throughout the afternoon, Mr. Klein spoke of TV viewers not in terms of the usual demographic distinctions, but rather in terms of four distinct archetypes, which, he said, a recent internal CNN study had analyzed at length. He told the staffers that they should not worry about attracting “couch potatoes” who turn on the TV and stick with whatever happens to be on, and “thrill-seekers,” who tune in looking for the ultimate car chase or building demolition. Instead, he encouraged the newsroom to do a better job of attracting “inquiring minds” (viewers looking to ruminate in depth on current events) and “social connectors” (people looking for stories to yap about with their buddies).

    Why would anyone with an inquiring mind watch TV at all? TV is made to dumb you down, make you passive, unable to think for yourself so you will buy whatever product is hawked during the commercials and whatever product is hawked during the programing, including fascism.

    “The one thing [the latter two types of viewers] have in common is a desire to hear a wide range of opinions,” said Mr. Klein.

    Corporate spew and political lies and right wing extremist shit bags do constitute the spectrum of view point.

    Speaking to NYTV, Mr. Klein elaborated on his programming philosophy. He said his vision had been shaped, in part, years ago when he worked alongside legendary producer Don Hewitt at CBS. “He had very passionate, larger-than-life journalists,” recalled Mr. Klein, referring to the likes of Ed Bradley and Mike Wallace. “He said his main goal was to choose from the best stories and get out of the way. That was his trick.”

    In recent years, Mr. Klein has applied his faith in Mr. Hewitt’s model of charismatic journalists chasing their passions both to CNN’s prime time shows (see Dobbs, Lou, and his nightly discourses on immigration) and to its documentary unit. Mr. Klein said that when he arrived at CNN in November 2004, he discovered a documentary team focused primarily on “arcane” subject matter.

    Under Mr. Klein’s direction, CNN documentaries have married high-profile CNN reporters with equally high-profile subjects—Christiane Amanpour and religious fundamentalism, Campbell Brown and political attack ads, Anderson Cooper and the environment. Mr. Klein said he encourages his reporters to draw conclusions in their documentaries—an upshot of which, he acknowledged, is that CNN docs increasingly “step on some vested interests, and they do respond.”

    Sure enough, over the past year, CNN documentaries have riled up everyone from media watchdog types to conservative political operatives to MSNBC’s Dan Abrams to professional wrestlers. Mr. Klein suggested that he wouldn’t shy away from the hostile attention in the years to come—and suggested it probably does the network as much good as harm.

    “What I love is when our competitors then turn that into segments on their shows,” said Mr. Klein. “They have nothing else to talk about other than who has CNN pissed off today. That’s great. We’ll provide fodder for their programming, as long as they get our initials right.”

    ********************************************

    PerryM (not verified) says:

    Are you kidding me? The Clinton News Network a real news outlet – give me a break.

    CNN is the propaganda branch of the liberal Democratic Party – everyone know that.

    If a poll shows increased viewership in CNN its because the libs, dems, and wackos want the propaganda fresh from the horses ass.

    Can anyone with an IQ over 95 actually believe anything on any cable news station is liberal? No.

    The Clintons aren't liberal. They're corporatist, just not as genocidal as corporatist republicans. Almost, but not quite.

    December 19, 2007 8:54 AM
    marj (not verified) says:

    "Documentary" unit? Did these "documantary" makers go to the Michael Moore school of journalism? Does he think Lou Dobbs makes up for the left slant? So deluded. CNN is just as packaged and pimped and cheesy as any of the other cable news outlets. Nice try in an obvious and pitiful puff piece.

    Apparently no one on the right has ever seen any documentary other than the quite excellent ones done by Michael Moore. I've had a lapsed republican sit in my very own office and allege things about Michael Moore films that I knew weren't true because I actually watched the films while the republican read about them on Dredge Report or heard about them from Bill O'Liely. And personally I think they hate him because he's fat. Or because they're shallow, poorly educated, emotionally disturbed people who can't get over the fact that people actually have and enjoy sex while the very thought of sex sends them into fits of self castigation so they are always in a state of fury while constantly talking about Jesus.


    December 19, 2007 8:55 AM
    Outsider_From_PA (not verified) says:

    Interesting development...CNN begins to put some conservative viewpoints on the air (ie: Glen Beck show) and people actually start to tune in.

    This may be the dumbest comment of this really dumb batch. As with most right wingers he overlooks facts. The big ratings jump has been at MSNBC which has begun to put a progressive point of view on the air though piece of shit Joe Scarborough and whining piece of shit Tucker Closet Carlson among others are still there.

    Dan Rather (not verified) says:

    CNN the last man standing LOL ..

    If your definition of a MAN is a queer idiot with an english degree of some campus full of more queer men with english degrees called prof's.

    CNN ..LOL if you work there you should Grab a gun and go back to that campus you came from and get even LOL

    last man standing LOL

    man ...LOL

    it s to funny ...

    Typical republican clsoet case ahs to be ugly about everyue's sexuality becasu therey are so terrified of their own. Especaily loathesome when there is so much legitiamnte stuff to criticize anderson cooper for. Liek talking about hself cosntantly wheile he is itnerbvieiwg peopel and passivley supportigt eh iraq inbvasion and activley defending CNN's coverage of the lead up to the iraq invasion after Katrina when the Bush Walls beegan coming down inthe media.

    JackR (not verified) says:

    FNC has significantly better hard news coverage overseas, for example. Think about the War last summer, Pakistan, Iran. Fox always seems to have a reporter on scene. He is right that MSNBC has decided to not cover the news. Even their "reporters" are now pundits, see David Schuster for example.

    This comment was so stupid I had to laugh out loud. FOX is NOTHING BUT right wing propaganda. Any reporting it has done from or about Iran or Pakistan or anywhere else is a perfect reflection of that.


    flo jones (not verified) says:

    This dude is right...CNN covers the news, as in COVER UP! I will drag up the phrase "fair and balanced" to indicate what you don't get on CNN which is why I choose not to watch it. Anderson Cooper started out okey, I gave him a chance and he turned out to be just like the rest of the liberal media. The media all want to make their fortunes these days which is why they suck up to the clintons. It's the hope of the financial gains when they write about the Clintons that fuels them. The Clinton's mistake it for support.
    Fame and fortune will follow the channel and/or reporter who does to the Clintons what Woodward & Bernstein did to Nixon. It's called the "unmasking" or, telling the truth. You decide.

    Another idiot parroting the "liberal media" phrase he learned to say from watching FOX and listening to Rush Drug Addict Limbaugh. Please idiot, please right wing idiot, show me one example of liberal media. Just ONE.

    The only way to have a reasonably accurate understanding of what is going on politically is to take in information from a wide variety of sources. This includes reading books, newspapers, web sites, listening to radio and TV, watching documentaries, attending lectures, talking to people and reading analysis from a broad spectrum of opinion. It takes a little time and it takes a little effort. People complain that they don't have time to do this. But the people who complain most of this are people who waste more time in a day than I spend in a week keeping up.

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    Republican Kevin Martin, Caligula of the Airwaves, Defends His Choice for Corporate Consolidation to Weaken Democracy

    [...]

    The commission vote, along strict party lines, will allow a single company to own a television or radio station and a newspaper in the 20 largest metropolitan areas of the country.

    "I think this was actually a very moderate attempt to adjust our rules to reflect some of the changes that are occurring in the marketplace," Martin told The Associated Press in a recent interview.

    However, the two Democrats on the commission say the rule will open the door to a new wave of media consolidation. The chairman was also criticized for granting waivers to a number of existing cross-ownership arrangements.

    Martin says the loopholes are actually exceptions that create a high hurdle for such combinations to be approved in markets that are not among the 20 largest in the nation.

    Last week's decision was the latest action in a proceeding left over from 2003, when under similar circumstances, the commission voted to loosen several ownership rules. The 2003 vote sparked a bipartisan backlash on Capitol Hill and helped fuel a well-organized and energetic media reform movement. A year later, the commission decision was rejected by a federal appeals court and the rules were sent back to the FCC for review.

    Last month, Martin outlined his plan in The New York Times and released the text of the rule to the public. The chairman argued that the newspaper industry was in financial trouble and the commission should provide relief by loosening the 32-year-old cross-ownership ban.

    Under his proposal, for a merger to be approved it must occur in one of the 20 largest metropolitan areas and involve only one TV or radio station. Also, the TV station could not be among the top four in the market, and post-transaction, at least eight independent media voices would remain.

    [...]

    But it shouldn't happen at all.

    And as anyone who has observed corporations, republicans or right wing democrats in action can tell you, they never stop . They're professional opportunists and they keep pushing pushing pushing to get whatever they want.

    The same bunch of people already completely made over the media system. They began during the eighties, under Right Wing Hero Ronnie Raygun. And the consequences are visible everywhere you look. The consequence are a dumbing down of the public understanding that brought a takeover of government by odious, fascist pigs George W Bush, war criminal and dictator, Dick Cheney and the rest of the neocons.

    Americans naively think it is illegal for media organizations to lie to them. So they turn on ABC,NBC, CBS, CNN, FAUX, etc and believe what is found there. What is found there is often nothing more than Britteny Spears latest diaper or Natalee Holloway hot night of ethnic sex or Brangelina's latest adoption.

    Whenever actual news makes it to the telescreen it is typically reported with a right wing, corporatist slant which is why Americans could believe that secular Saddam Hussein was in bed with religious fundamentalist al qaeda and get behind that illegal, immoral invasion, mass murder and occupation.

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    The Mortgage Crisis. A symptom of American rot.

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    Sunday, December 23, 2007

    Turkish warplanes have again bombed Kurdish PKK

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    Medicaid Funding for Schools Cut ( save enough to fund about a day in Iraq)

    [...]

    A wide range of medical services, such as speech and physical therapy, are furnished to students in schools. Medicaid, the government's health insurance program for the poor, will continue to pay for those services for low-income children.

    But the new rule will restrict when schools can bill the federal government for clerical work associated with providing health care. For example, schools can no longer expect Medicaid reimbursement for planning student immunizations. Schools also will not get paid for transporting students getting speech or physical therapy to school or back home.


    [...]

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    Attorney Wants Criminal Charges Against Murderers at Cigna

    he lawyer for California teen Nataline Sarkisyan charged today that the only reason Cigna Health Care officials changed their minds and approved a liver transplant for the desperate girl was they knew it was too late and they wouldn't have to pay for it.
    Sarkisyan, 17, died Thursday just hours after Cigna reversed its decision and approved the procedure it had previously described as "too experimental…and unproven." Now the Sarkisyan family hopes manslaughter or murder charges will be pressed.
    "All of the doctors there unanimously agreed that she needed and should have that liver transplant. And the only entity, if you will, who said no to that in the middle of that medical decision, was some piece of garbage who decided that making a couple of dollars, or saving them a couple of dollars, was worth more than the 65% chance over six months that she would survive," said Geragos.

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    C.I.A. Tapes a Smoking Gun on American "Enemy Combatant"

    Missing almost entirely from news coverage of the destroyed CIA tapes is the explosive fact that they involve Jose Padilla, the American citizen held incommunicado and without charges or a trial for nearly four years. The Sixth Amendment of the Constitution, the "Bill of Rights" states: "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused, shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State."

    [...]

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