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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.

    Saturday, June 28, 2008

    Right wing Obama and McCain support this right wing judicial activism from the worst supreme court ever

    [...]
    On Tuesday, five members of the court edited the 2nd Amendment. In essence, they said: Scratch the preamble, only 14 words count.

    In doing so, they have curtailed the power of the legislatures and the city councils to protect their citizens.

    The majority opinion in the 5-4 decision to overturn a Washington, D.C., ban on handgun possession goes to great lengths to parse the words of the 2nd Amendment. The opinion, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, spends 111/2 pages just on the meaning of the words "keep and bear arms."

    But as Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in a compelling dissent, the five justices in the majority found no new evidence that the 2nd Amendment was intended to limit the power of government to regulate the use of firearms. They found no new evidence to overturn decades of court precedent.

    They have claimed, Stevens wrote, "a far more active judicial role in making vitally important national policy decisions than was envisioned at any time in the 18th, 19th, or 20th Centuries."

    [....]

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    AT&T Whistleblower: Spy Bill Creates 'Infrastructure for a Police State' And Barack Obama Supports this Bill

    [...]

    Klein saw a network monitoring room being built in AT&T's internet switching center that only NSA-approved techs had access to. He squirreled away documents and then presented them to the press and the Electronic Frontier Foundation after news of the government's warrantless wiretapping program broke.

    Wired.com independently acquired a copy of the documents (.pdf) -- which were under court seal -- and published the wiring documents in May 2006 so that they could be evaluated.

    The lawsuit that resulted from his documents is now waiting on the 9th U.S. Appeals Court to rule on whether it can proceed despite the government saying the whole matter is a state secret. A lower court judge ruled that it could, because the government admitted the program existed and that the courts could handle evidence safely and in secret.

    But the appeals court ruling will likely never see the light of day, since the Senate is set to vote on July 8 on the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which also largely legalizes Bush's warrantless wiretapping program by expanding how the government can wiretap from inside the United States without getting individualized court orders.

    [...]

    The bill forces the district court judge handling the consolidated cases against telecoms to dismiss the suits if the Attorney General certifies that a government official sent a written request to a phone or internet provider, saying that the President approved the program and his lawyers deemed it legal. Judge Vaughn Walker of the California Northern District can ask to see the paperwork, but would not be given leeway to decide if the program was legal.

    The bill also has the result of helping to bury Bush illegal activities that would likely come out if this illegal spying were exposed in the courts. Any democrat who supports this bill should be voted out of office. Now that the right wing duopoly in Washington has shattered the economy they're locking down the population to deter any meaningful dissent.

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    Advance review of the Dark Knight

    Photo

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    American Axle's Dauch Gets $8.5 Million Reward for getting rid of 2000 workers plus

    Including stock awards and other compensation, Dauch received $18.7 million in 2007, according to the SEC document.

    The bonus was a reward for the May 23 contract reached at the end of the three-month strike by the United Auto Workers at the largest axle supplier of General Motors Corp.

    About 1,600 employees have taken buyouts or early retirement, according to United Auto Workers Local 235 President Bill Alford Jr. The company estimated 2,000 of 3,650 union workers will leave.

    In also giving bonuses to Chief Financial Officer Michael Simonte and Chief Operating Officer David Dauch, the board's compensation committee cited the executives' ``accomplishments and commitment during a period of significant change in our industry,'' the filing said.

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    Right Wing Extremist Supreme Court Rules for Exxon against American People

    oil-covered-sea-birdOil giant ExxonMobil will pay the equivalent of 24 hours worth of petroleum sales to the people impacted by the 11 million gallons (41.5 million liters) of crude oil spilled into Prince William Sound in Alaska in 1989 when the drunken skipper of the Exxon Valdez allowed the tanker to run aground, according to a U.S. Supreme Court decision. The ruling caps the total damages assessed to the company at $507.5 million, a fraction of the $5 billion a jury initially awarded in 1994.

    "This means that corporations like Exxon can simply put a price tag on the destruction of our marine life, our oceans and, ultimately families," says Jim Ayers, Juneau-based vice president at marine environmental group Oceana and the first executive director of the trust set up to manage the recovery and restoration of the sound. "They can estimate the value of that loss, put it into the expense column and roll forward with blatant disregard."

    Although the recovery is nearly complete, aftereffects of the massive spill can still be found in the area, according to supervisory research chemist Jeffrey Short at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Alaska Fisheries Science Center. "We've been tracking the long-term effects of the spill because it's such a clear example. [We] don't have a lot of other pollution sources to confound the picture," he says. "The animals that have had the most difficulty bouncing all the way back are sea otters, sea ducks and possibly some intertidal fish."

    Sea otters that have been contaminated by oil can still be found in the sound and two killer whale pods have been devastated, among other environmental impacts. "One is in big trouble and the other is almost certain to go extinct," Short says. "Bottom line is they're not reproducing," even though almost all of the oil is gone.

    And local communities have still not recovered, according to Ayers. "It wasn't like it happened and then it was over," he says. "It happened every single day of their lives for 15 years."

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    Barclays warns of a financial storm as Federal Reserve's credibility crumbles

    Barclays Capital has advised clients to batten down the hatches for a worldwide financial storm, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke has made a huge policy mistake, according to Barclayswarning that the US Federal Reserve has allowed the inflation genie out of the bottle and let its credibility fall "below zero".

    "We're in a nasty environment," said Tim Bond, the bank's chief equity strategist. "There is an inflation shock underway. This is going to be very negative for financial assets. We are going into tortoise mood and are retreating into our shell. Investors will do well if they can preserve their wealth."

    Barclays Capital said in its closely-watched Global Outlook that US headline inflation would hit 5.5pc by August and the Fed will have to raise interest rates six times by the end of next year to prevent a wage-spiral. If it hesitates, the bond markets will take matters into their own hands. "This is the first test for central banks in 30 years and they have fluffed it. They have zero credibility, and the Fed is negative if that's possible. It has lost all credibility," said Mr Bond.
    [...]

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    Honey bee crisis could lead to higher food prices

    [...]

    About three-quarters of flowering plants rely on birds, bees and other pollinators to help them reproduce. Bee pollination is responsible for $15 billion annually in crop value.

    In 2006, beekeepers began reporting losing 30 percent to 90 percent of their hives. This phenomenon has become known as Colony Collapse Disorder. Scientists do not know how many bees have died; beekeepers have lost 36 percent of their managed colonies this year. It was 31 percent for 2007, said Edward B. Knipling, administrator of the Agriculture Department's Agricultural Research Service.

    [...]

    Food prices have gone up 83 percent in three years, according to the World Bank.

    Edward R. Flanagan, who raises blueberries in Milbridge, Maine, said he could be forced to increase prices tenfold or go out of business without the beekeeping industry. "Every one of those berries owes its existence to the crazy, neurotic dancing of a honey bee from flower to flower," he said.

    The cause behind the disorder remains unknown. Possible explanations include pesticides; a new parasite or pathogen; and the combination of immune-suppressing stresses such as poor nutrition, limited or contaminated water supplies and the need to move bees long distances for pollination.

    [....]

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    Humanity's meltdown

    Farewell to the Holocene

    Our world, our old world that we have inhabited for the last 12,000 years, has ended, even if no newspaper in North America or Europe has yet printed its scientific obituary.

    [...]

    To the question "Are we now living in the Anthropocene?" the 21 members of the Commission unanimously answer "yes." They adduce robust evidence that the Holocene epoch -- the interglacial span of unusually stable climate that has allowed the rapid evolution of agriculture and urban civilization -- has ended and that the Earth has entered "a stratigraphic interval without close parallel in the last several million years." In addition to the buildup of greenhouse gases, the stratigraphers cite human landscape transformation which "now exceeds [annual] natural sediment production by an order of magnitude," the ominous acidification of the oceans, and the relentless destruction of biota.

    This new age, they explain, is defined both by the heating trend (whose closest analogue may be the catastrophe known as the Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum, 56 million years ago) and by the radical instability expected of future environments. In somber prose, they warn that "the combination of extinctions, global species migrations and the widespread replacement of natural vegetation with agricultural monocultures is producing a distinctive contemporary biostratigraphic signal. These effects are permanent, as future evolution will take place from surviving (and frequently anthropogenically relocated) stocks." Evolution itself, in other words, has been forced into a new trajectory.

    [...]

    And what if growing environmental and social turbulence, instead of galvanizing heroic innovation and international cooperation, simply drive elite publics into even more frenzied attempts to wall themselves off from the rest of humanity? Global mitigation, in this unexplored but not improbable scenario, would be tacitly abandoned (as, to some extent, it already has been) in favor of accelerated investment in selective adaptation for Earth's first-class passengers. We're talking here of the prospect of creating green and gated oases of permanent affluence on an otherwise stricken planet.

    Of course, there will still be treaties, carbon credits, famine relief, humanitarian acrobatics, and perhaps the full-scale conversion of some European cities and small countries to alternative energy. But the shift to low, or zero, emission lifestyles would be almost unimaginably expensive. (In Britain, it currently costs $200,000 more to build a zero-carbon, "level 6" eco-home than a standard unit of the same area.) And this will certainly become even more unimaginable after perhaps 2030, when the convergent impacts of climate change, peak oil, peak water, and an additional 1.5 billion people on the planet may begin to seriously throttle growth.

    [...]

    If this seems unduly apocalyptic, consider that most climate models project impacts that will uncannily reinforce the present geography of inequality. One of the pioneer analysts of the economics of global warming, Petersen Institute fellow William R. Cline, recently published a country-by-country study of the likely effects of climate change on agriculture by the later decades of this century. Even in the most optimistic simulations, the agricultural systems of Pakistan (a 20 percent decrease from current farm output predicted) and Northwestern India (a 30 percent decrease) are likely to be devastated, along with much of the Middle East, the Maghreb, the Sahel belt, Southern Africa, the Caribbean, and Mexico. Twenty-nine developing countries will lose 20 percent or more of their current farm output to global warming, while agriculture in the already rich north is likely to receive, on average, an 8 percent boost.

    In light of such studies, the current ruthless competition between energy and food markets, amplified by international speculation in commodities and agricultural land, is only a modest portent of the chaos that could soon grow exponentially from the convergence of resource depletion, intractable inequality, and climate change. The real danger is that human solidarity itself, like a West Antarctic ice shelf, will suddenly fracture and shatter into a thousand shards.

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    Wednesday, June 25, 2008

    Rogue Terrorist State of Israel Prodding U.S. To Attack Iran

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    fresh deadly food poisoning from the agricultural industrial complex

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    Bush White House Pushed Grant for Former Staffer

    [...]

    The $1.2 million grant was jointly awarded to a consulting firm run by Lisa Trevino Cummins who previously headed Hispanic outreach efforts for the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, and a California evangelical group, Victory Outreach.

    The grant was awarded over the strong objections of career DOJ staff who did not believe that Victory Outreach was qualified for the grant and that too great an amount of the funds was going to Cummins' consulting company instead of being spent on services for children.

    [...]

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    Analysis: U.S. poor are vulnerable to 'neglected' diseases

    [...]

    The diseases, caused by chronic viral, bacterial and parasitic infections, disproportionately strike women and children and are largely overlooked by doctors, says author Peter Hotez of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, part of Sabin Vaccine Institute.

    Hotez says the diseases go untreated in hundreds of thousands of poor people who live mainly in inner cities, the Mississippi Delta, Appalachia and the Mexican borderlands.

    In many cases, he says, the infections cause disabilities that trap sufferers in lasting poverty. His analysis, called "Neglected Infections of Poverty in the United States," appears in the journal he edits, PloS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

    As widespread as the diseases are, few people in middle America have heard of them, and many doctors never think to check for them, says Carlos Franco-Paredes of Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, who was not involved in the analysis.

    [....]

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    Police: Clinic workers imprisoned patient who couldn't pay

    Staffers at a Duluth medical practice shuttered their office Friday amid charges of false imprisonment for allegedly locking a patient in a room when concerns arose about her ability to pay the bill.
    [...]

    Bales' attorney, Joseph Fried, said Friday she was told initially that the visit would cost $98. Bales had been visiting from out-of-state and didn't have health insurance, Fried said.

    "They took her debit card and her driver's license at the reception desk," Fried said. "She figured with X-rays it might be a little more."

    Instead, after tests, Bales was charged $755, Fried said.

    "She says, 'I don't have the money,' " Fried said. "They direct her to go into what they called their billing office." For several hours, the staff refused to allow her to leave, locking her in for periods of time, Fried said. They had her log into her bank records from a computer while she was there, he said.

    "They said, 'Don't you have anyone who loves you who can come and help you? Because you're not leaving until this bill is paid,' " Fried said. "They made her feel like she was a criminal. She was made to feel like she couldn't leave without something bad to happen to her."

    At one point, they allowed her to go to her truck to get a paycheck, but held her keys while she looked, unlocking the vehicle's doors with the electronic key fob on the keychain, Fried said.

    [....]

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    Study Casts Doubt on Abstinence-Only Programs

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    States turn down US abstinence education grants

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    Cuba approves, makes available lung cancer vaccine

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    House Votes Cut for Medicare Insurers, Not Doctors

    [...]

    The Democratic-backed measure passed today, 355-59, giving supporters more than the two-thirds margin that would be needed to override a threatened veto by President George W. Bush. The Senate has yet to act on similar legislation.

    Doctors who treat Medicare patients will get a 10 percent cut in their payments on July 1 unless Congress finds money to make up the difference. Democrats want to reduce payments to UnitedHealth Group Inc., WellPoint Inc., and other insurers that provide benefits through a program called Medicare Advantage. The companies get, on average, 13 percent more than it costs Medicare to offer services itself, according to a congressional advisory commission.

    ``This is a reasonable compromise that both Democrats and Republicans should support,'' said Representative Frank Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat, on the House floor. ``With less than a week to go before the impending physician cuts go into effect, it is time to put politics aside.''

    Private insurers would receive about $12.5 billion less under the House measure than otherwise projected over the five years through 2013, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Medicare has said insurers will collect $86 billion this year caring for about 10 million of the U.S. program's 44 million beneficiaries.

    Teaching Hospitals

    The measure would phase out payments made to insurers to reflect the higher cost of having their patients treated at teaching hospitals, according to the budget office analysis. Payments made directly to such hospitals for the same purpose wouldn't be affected.

    [...]

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    Tuesday, June 24, 2008

    predator Prey Model of Insect Control: Fewer Insects, less corporate control, healthier environment

    http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1019/627665159_c3ed029236.jpg

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    THE INSECTICIDE PROBLEM

    http://i.treehugger.com/files/th_images/bees-nrdc-02.jpg According to entomologist Dr. Paul De Bach, a proponent of less insecticide use, "The average farmer has been thoroughly 'sold' by insecticide salemen, extension literature and so-called economic entomologists. He has adopted the oft-repeated T-V brain-washing slogan 'The only good bug is a dead bug.' Now, obviously, this has to change, not because biological control workers think it is bad, but because it doesn't work."(1)

    Biological control is not a new concept; it stresses that harmful insects can be held in check by natural predators and that spraying will upset this balance. Most advocates of biological control do not believe that pesticides have no place in insect control but that insecticides, preferably selective types, should be used only when absolutely necessary. Hodge Black says it this way: "We are gifted with some wonderful crop protection chemicals which, if used properly and wisely, can assist us in making maximum yields and maximum profits."

    There are many examples of how biological control has given excellent insect control at lower costs. A good case study is in the San Joaquin Valley of California. A few years back, Bill Kincaid, who farms almond orchards totalling 380 acres near Ripen, inadvertently omitted a pesticide spray from one of his orchards. Later he could tell no difference in insect control between the unsprayed orchard and those he had sprayed. He cautiously continued the no-spray program and soon noticed quantities of ''new" insects in his orchards which an expert identified as "good" bugs that fed on harmful pests. Kincaid then decided to spray only when he felt his crop to be in dire danger from insect pests. He has not sprayed any of his orchards for 3 years and has sold his spray rig. His yields have held up and he has had less insect problems than his neighbors who follow a diligent spray program.

    Some observers of Kincaid's experiments are giving his method serious consideration. Others have seen but will not believe until the "powers that be" tell them it is possible: Experiences such as Kincaid's suggest that a re-appraisal of current insect control practices is in order on the part of many growers.

    It is unlikely that all growers would be in a position to eliminate insecticide applications entirely but it is not unrealistic to believe that the number of applications could be materially reduced.

    Why haven't better insect control methods been put into effect? A major part of the answer is that the present insect control machinery has been built up to such Gargantuan extent that it is virtually impossible to shut it off or change its course. In the last 20 years the pesticide industry has burgeoned into a multimillion dollar business. On many farms insect control easily heads the list as the most expensive item in the farmer's budget.

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    Colony Colllapse Disorder

    [...]

    According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly one third of what we eat comes from insect-pollinated plants, and honey bees do about 80 percent of that.

    "There are other pollinator insects but they face the same kind of problems as the honey bee, so you're looking at a loss of a significant amount of food available to the nation," said Clark.

    He says the Asian pear is a prime example of what happens when a country kills off their honeybee population and is forced to hand pollinate everything.

    "Imagine if we had to go through our cherry orchards or our apple orchards and pollinate that all themselves. Food would be incredibly expensive," said Clark.

    [...]


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    Rollback Doctrine Right Wing Tools for Destroying America and stamping out Democracy

    a few examples from excellent website Third World Traveler

    [...]

    Iran, 1953

    The ClA's first rollback success was achieved in Iran in 1953. Nationalist Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, elected by the parliament, had nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. The British asked for assistance and the CIA sent Middle East expert Kermit Roosevelt with a team and plenty of dollars for the purposes of bribery. In a series of machinations, the CIA overthrew nationalist Mossadegh and brought the pro-U.S. Shah into power. A key factor had been the provision of weapons, supplies, and money to Iranian army officers, winning them to the Shah's side.

    Guatemala 1954

    In February 1953, the government of moderate rationalist Jacobo Arbenz expropriated almost 400,000 acres of unused United Fruit Company land as part of a moderate land reform program. Compensation was offered, which United Fruit rejected. United Fruit approached the CIA to take action. The CIA trained a small army, and arranged for the ClA-run airline Civil Air Transport to conduct bombing raids flown by Chinese nationalist pilots. The main thrust of the operation was psychological warfare, organized by E. Howard Hunt, later of Watergate fame. A ClA radio station was set up to create rumors making the government and population think that a major rebellion was taking place. As a result, the small ClA army and a few bombing raids created a panic leading Arbenz to flee. Since this rollback operation, Guatemala has suffered one after another military dictatorship or military-controlled government with a high level of political repression.

    Belgian Congo, 1960

    Patrice Lumumba was chosen prime minister of the Belgian Congo by the newly-elected parliament following independence from Belgium in June 1960. Lumumba was extremely popular, and left-leaning. ClA Director Allen Dulles authorized a fund of up to $100,000 to replace Lumumba's government with a pro-Western regime. With ClA help, Lumumba was successfully deposed, first by President Joseph Kasavubu, and later by Army strongman (cultivated by the ClA) Joseph Mobutu. The ClA, according to the 1975 U.S. Senate "Church Committee," concocted a plan to assassinate Lumumba with poison carried from the United States by ClA operative Sid Gottlieb. The poisoning plan aborted, but Lumumba was caught with the ClA's help and murdered. Former ClA operative John Stockwell has written that another ClA officer told him of driving around with Lumumba's body in the trunk of a car trying to dispose of it.


    [...]

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    Erik "GI Joey" Prince of Blackwater Mercenary Company Wants to evade justice by using Sharia Law. Funny Idea for a Crusader


    [...]
    why would a company that enjoys immunity from local laws (see: Iraq) ask for Sharia (an Islamic system of law often applied to day-to-day disputes)? Because, according to Sharia, a company wouldn't be found responsible for mistakes employees made.

    This tactic is galling, but we'd expect little else from the company and its founder. The actions of Blackwater employees indicate that the law matters little to the company, but really, they'll go with whatever frees them from accountability.

    [....]

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    Toyota Linked to Human Trafficking and Sweatshop Abuses

    * Toyota linked to human trafficking and sweatshop abuse: Toyota's much admired "Just in Time" auto parts supply chain is riddled with sweatshop abuse, including the trafficking of foreign guest workers, mostly from China and Vietnam to Japan, who are stripped of their passports and often forced to work--including at subcontract plants supplying Toyota--16 hours a day, seven days a week, while being paid less than half the legal minimum wage. Guest workers who complain about abusive conditions are deported.

    * Prius made by low-wage temps: Fully one-third--10,000--of all Toyota assembly line workers in Japan are low-wage temps who have few rights and earn less than 60% of what full time workers do.

    * Unpaid overtime and "overworked" to death: Mr. Kenichi Uchino was just 30 years old when he died of overwork on an assembly line at Toyota's Prius plant, leaving behind his young wife and two children. Mr. Uchino routinely worked 13 to 14 hours a day, putting in 106 1/2 to 155 hours of overtime--depending on whether work taken home was counted--in the 30 days leading up to his death. Toyota claimed that he had only worked 45 hours of overtime and that the other 61 1/2 to 110 hours were "voluntary" and unpaid. His wife had to go to court -- which ruled that Mr. Uchino was overworked to death -- to win a pension for their children.

    * Ties to Burmese dictators: Toyota, through the Toyota Tsusho Corporation, which is part of the Toyota Group of Companies, is involved in several joint business ventures with the ruthless military regime in Burma. The dictators use these revenues to repress and torture the people of Burma.

    * Toyota and the race to the bottom: Toyota is imposing its two-tier, low wage model at its non-union plants in the south of the United States, which will result in wages and benefits being slashed across the entire auto industry.

    [...]

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    Nigeria's oil wealth shuns the needy

    The way oil wealth is managed in Nigeria is one of the key issues facing those living there.

    The government and oil companies have profited by hundreds of billions of dollars since oil was first discovered.

    Yet most Nigerians living in the oil producing regions are living in dire poverty.

    The oil region in Nigeria seems to be stuck in a time warp, with little real change since oil was discovered 45 years ago.

    Away from the main towns there is no real development, no roads, no electricity, no running water and no telephones.

    Most people are struggling to survive on less than $1 a day.

    People who live in the Niger Delta blame the oil companies for this shocking state of neglect, particularly Shell Petroleum Development Company, which produces most of the country's oil.

    The heart of Shell's operations is Port Harcourt, a small coastal town which actually smells of oil.

    Donald Boham, Shell's external relations manager, explained why the delta region has been ignored for so long;

    "We've had a good number of years of military rule in this country, where the government - for one reason or another - failed to address the need for development in the Niger Delta and that has put a lot of pressure on the oil companies to try and fill the gap that the government has created.

    "Last year for example, we spent $60m on community development intervention activities, which represented about 3% of the entire joint venture budget."

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    Nigeria needs between $5bn to $7bn per annum to achieve the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015

    A child plays with sand in Daruga, on the outskirts of Abuja, Nigeria

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    Faux Maverick, real Neocon John McBush McCain

    [...]
    neoconservatives, whose thinking has directed Bush's foreign policy following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, are ever-present and powerful in McCain's inner circle.

    Randy Scheunemann, McCain's chief foreign policy spokesman, in 2002 founded the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which agitated for the US invasion that was launched in 2003.

    Scheunemann and Robert Kagan, another McCain advisor, head the neoconservative Project for a New American Century, which takes a hawkish line on foreign policy issues.

    [...]

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    John McCain Advised by Man who helped Exempt energy trading from regulation and oversight

    [....]

    The Democratic National Committee, however, is making sure that the public doesn't forget about McCain's own advisers and their controversies. Today, it unveiled a Web site -- dubbed "With Advisers Like These..." -- that takes aim at former US Sen. Phil Gramm, Carly Fiorina, and Douglas Holtz-Eakin.

    In particular, Democrats have singled out Gramm, whom McCain has called the smartest economist and political strategist he knows, for helping to exempt energy trading from regulation and oversight -- what Obama yesterday called the "Enron loophole."

    [....]

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    List of oil producing States

    Countries producing oil

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    Tipping Points Near

    [...]
    it will become impractical to constrain atmospheric carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas produced in burning fossil fuels, to a level that prevents the climate system from passing tipping points that lead to disastrous climate changes that spiral dynamically out of humanity's control.

    Changes needed to preserve creation, the planet on which civilization developed, are clear. But the changes have been blocked by special interests, focused on short-term profits, who hold sway in Washington and other capitals.

    I argue that a path yielding energy independence and a healthier environment is, barely, still possible. It requires a transformative change of direction in Washington in the next year.

    Then: Time to "Stop Waffling"

    On June 23, 1988, I testified to a hearing chaired by Senator Tim Wirth of Colorado that the Earth had entered a long-term warming trend, and that human-made greenhouse gases almost surely were responsible. I noted that global warming enhanced both extremes of the water cycle, meaning stronger droughts and forest fires, on the one hand, but also heavier rains and floods.

    My testimony two decades ago was greeted with skepticism. But while skepticism is the lifeblood of science, it can confuse the public. As scientists examine a topic from all perspectives, it may appear that nothing is known with confidence. But from such broad open-minded study of all data, valid conclusions can be drawn.

    My conclusions in 1988 were built on a wide range of inputs from basic physics, planetary studies, observations of ongoing changes, and climate models. The evidence was strong enough that I could say it was time to "stop waffling." I was sure that time would bring the scientific community to a similar consensus, as it has.

    While international recognition of global warming was swift, actions have faltered. The United States refused to place limits on its emissions, and developing countries such as China and India rapidly increased their emissions.

    The Coming Storm

    What is at stake? Warming so far, about two degrees Fahrenheit over land areas, seems almost innocuous, being less than day-to-day weather fluctuations. But more warming is already "in-the-pipeline," delayed only by the great inertia of the world ocean. And climate is nearing dangerous tipping points. Elements of a "perfect storm," a global cataclysm, are assembled.

    Climate can reach points such that amplifying feedbacks spur large rapid changes. Arctic sea ice is a current example. Global warming initiated sea ice melt, exposing darker ocean that absorbs more sunlight, melting more ice. As a result, without any additional greenhouse gases, the Arctic soon will be ice-free in the summer.

    More ominous tipping points loom. West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are vulnerable to even small additional warming. These two-mile-thick behemoths respond slowly at first, but if disintegration gets well under way it will become unstoppable. Debate among scientists is only about how much sea level would rise by a given date. In my opinion, if emissions follow a business-as-usual scenario, sea level rise of at least two meters is likely this century. Hundreds of millions of people would become refugees. No stable shoreline would be reestablished in any time frame that humanity can conceive.

    Animal and plant species are already stressed by climate change. Polar and alpine species will be pushed off the planet, if warming continues. Other species attempt to migrate, but as some are extinguished, their interdependencies can cause ecosystem collapse. Mass extinctions, of more than half the species on the planet, have occurred several times when the Earth warmed as much as expected if greenhouse gases continue to increase. Biodiversity recovered, but it required hundreds of thousands of years.

    Getting to 350 ppm

    The disturbing conclusion, documented in a paper[1] I have written with several of the world's leading climate experts, is that the safe level of atmospheric carbon dioxide is no more than 350 ppm (parts per million), and it may be less. Carbon dioxide amount is already 385 ppm and rising by about 2 ppm per year. Stunning corollary: the oft-stated goal to keep global warming less than two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) is a recipe for global disaster, not salvation.

    These conclusions are based on paleoclimate data showing how the Earth responded to past levels of greenhouse gases and on observations showing how the world is responding to today's carbon dioxide amount. The consequences of continued increase of greenhouse gases extend far beyond extermination of species and future sea level rise.

    Arid subtropical climate zones are expanding poleward. Already an average expansion of about 250 miles has occurred, affecting the southern United States, the Mediterranean region, Australia, and southern Africa. Forest fires and drying-up of lakes will increase further unless carbon dioxide growth is halted and reversed.

    Mountain glaciers are the source of fresh water for hundreds of millions of people. These glaciers are receding worldwide, in the Himalayas, Andes, and Rocky Mountains. They will disappear, leaving their rivers as trickles in late summer and fall, unless the growth of carbon dioxide is reversed.

    Coral reefs, the rainforests of the ocean, are home for one-third of the species in the sea. Coral reefs are under stress for several reasons, including warming of the ocean, but especially because of ocean acidification, a direct effect of added carbon dioxide. Ocean life dependent on carbonate shells and skeletons is threatened by dissolution as the ocean becomes more acid.

    Such phenomena, including the instability of Arctic sea ice and the great ice sheets at today's carbon dioxide amount, show that we have already gone too far. We must draw down atmospheric carbon dioxide to preserve the planet we know. A level of no more than 350 ppm is still feasible, with the help of reforestation and improved agricultural practices, but just barely - time is running out.

    Moving Away from Fossil Fuels

    Requirements to halt carbon dioxide growth follow from the size of fossil carbon reservoirs. Coal towers over oil and gas. Phasing out the use of coal except where the carbon is captured and stored below ground is the primary requirement for solving global warming.

    Oil is used in vehicles, where it is impractical to capture the carbon. But oil is running out. To preserve our planet we must ensure that the next mobile energy source is not obtained by squeezing oil from coal, tar shale, or other fossil fuels.

    Fossil fuel reservoirs are finite, which is the main reason that prices are rising. We must move beyond fossil fuels eventually. Solution of the climate problem requires that we move to carbon-free energy promptly.

    Special interests have blocked the transition to our renewable energy future. Instead of moving heavily into renewable energies, fossil fuel companies choose to spread doubt about global warming, just as tobacco companies discredited the link between smoking and cancer. Methods are sophisticated, including funding to help shape school textbook discussions of global warming.

    [...]

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    Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight Ogoni colleagues were executed by the Nigerian state for campaigning against the devastation of Niger Delta by oil companies

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    Nigerian Oil Union Starts Strike Against Chevron


    [....]

    Chevron Nigeria Ltd. confirms ``that the employees belonging to the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria have declared a work stoppage,'' Chevron spokeswoman Margaret Cooper said today in a statement.

    In a letter sent to Chevron executives in California, the union demanded the removal of Fred Nelson, the head of the Nigerian unit. Pengassan also alleges that safety standards have lapsed and Nigerian employees replaced with expatriates.

    Cooper said it's too early to comment on the impact of the strike on operations. Chevron in 2007 produced about 350,000 barrels of oil a day from its 32 fields in Nigeria, the company's Web site said.

    [...]


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    We're drowning in high fructose corn syrup from overproduction of corn which makes agribusiness rich and people and livestock sick

    [...]

    Loading high fructose corn syrup into increasingly larger portions of soda and processed food has packed more calories into us and more money into food processing companies, say nutritionists and food activists. But some health experts argue that the issue is bigger than mere calories. The theory goes like this: The body processes the fructose in high fructose corn syrup differently than it does old-fashioned cane or beet sugar, which in turn alters the way metabolic-regulating hormones function. It also forces the liver to kick more fat out into the bloodstream.

    The end result is that our bodies are essentially tricked into wanting to eat more and at the same time, we are storing more fat.

    "One of the issues is the ease with which you can consume this stuff," says Carol Porter, director of nutrition and food services at UC San Francisco. "It's not that fructose itself is so bad, but they put it in so much food that you consume so much of it without knowing it."

    [...]

    So, the answer is to just avoid soda, right? Unfortunately, it's not that simple, because the inexpensive, versatile sweetener has crept into plenty of other places -- foods you might not expect to have any at all. A low-fat, fruit-flavored yogurt, for example, can have 10 teaspoons of fructose-based sweetener in one serving.

    Because high fructose corn syrup mixes easily, extends shelf-life and is as much as 20 percent cheaper than other sources of sugar, large-scale food manufacturers love it. It can help prevent freezer burn, so you'll find it on the labels of many frozen foods. It helps breads brown and keeps them soft, which is why hot dog buns and even English muffins hold unexpected amounts.

    The question remains just how much more dangerous high fructose corn syrup is than other sugars.

    Fructose, as the name implies, is the sugar found naturally in fruit. It can be extracted, turned into granules and used like sugar in the kitchen. It used to be considered a healthier alternative to sucrose -- plain old table sugar. It's sweeter, so less is needed to achieve the same taste. Diabetics use it because fructose doesn't stimulate insulin production, so blood sugar levels remain stable.

    The process of pulling sugar from cornstarch wasn't perfected until the early 1970s, when Japanese researchers developed a reliable way to turn cornstarch into syrup sweet enough to compete with liquid sugar. After some tinkering, they landed on a formula that was 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose -- sweet enough and cheap enough to make most soda companies jump from liquid sugar to high fructose corn syrup by the 1980s.

    The results were dramatic. -- a whopping increase of 4,080 percent.

    [....]

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    Investing in Commodities or how to make profit from hunger

    Five years ago, almost no one believed that oil prices would soar past $30 per barrel. $50 seemed utterly unthinkable. As oil prices continued climbing, so did disbelief. The skeptics never abandoned their misguided notion that oil was “overpriced.” So when crude retreated from $75 to $50 early last year, the prospect of $100 oil seemed like a ridiculous prediction

    Due of Peak Oil, the prices of agricultural commodities are going much higher…

    Most of the agricultural markets have had a big move already, but these markets could easily suffer a big correction from current levels. The long-term investor will want to buy these markets on weakness, not sell them.

    A hundred years ago, the average American spent about 45% of annual income on food. Today, that figure is down to about 15%. So we’ve been taking cheap food for granted and have spent our “extra” cash on plasma TVs and leased BMWs.

    We don’t worry about food costs or whether it will be readily available tomorrow. But the agricultural markets may have some major surprises in store for complacent Americans…and unprepared investors:

    A Grainy Picture

    wheat


    While shortages of key industrial and energy commodities are frightening, no sector will threaten global stability more than agriculture…

    In 2007, we saw stark glimpses of just how bad this situation will get. The “Tortilla Crisis” in Mexico, the “Pasta Protest” in Italy, the riots and crushing of one supermarket shopper in China over cooking oil… We have seen dairy, meat, and bread prices skyrocket.

    It’s ironic that as global population is reaching an all-time high, we are turning a huge percentage of our crops into ethanol or biofuel…

    This questionable, if not idiotic, alternative produces little, if any, short-term benefit and considerable long-term harm — both to the quality of farmland and to the integrity and stability of the global agriculture markets. In other words, using food as fuel can make a big mess out of the global food supply…and the prices that we all pay for that supply.

    From sea to shining sea, the U.S. has croplands as far as the eye can see. For years, its bounty has been a supermarket for the world. Now it’s a fuel station, too.

    China, which has hundreds of millions more hungry mouths than we have, has far less arable farmland. And worse, China has far fewer controls in place to regulate farming methods.

    Trends like these strongly suggest that the agricultural markets will imitate the price action of the energy markets. As investors, we must look at this situation as an opportunity…

    [...]


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    General Mills raises quarterly dividend

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    Monday, June 23, 2008

    We'll Miss you George

    http://ccinsider.comedycentral.com/photos/uncategorized/2007/10/04/georgecarlin.jpg

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    Commodity Traders thrilled by Hunger

    [...]

    SUDDENLY everyone is calling it the Perfect Storm. From the futures traders in Chicago to the economists at Stanford University - even TV talkshow hosts - it's the term of the moment.

    And they're not just talking about the flooding crisis in the Midwest of America, although all eyes are on the peaking Mississippi River to see whether the levees will hold.

    They are referring to the once-in-a-lifetime confluence of market and climate forces that has led to the present global economic tsunami. It's the phenomenon that began as the US subprime mortgage crisis last August, turned into the worst credit crisis since the Great Depression in January, and has grown into a worldwide energy and food price crisis that is fuelling inflation panic.

    But while Wall Street is plummeting amid fears of further banking losses, the Chicago futures market is booming. Veteran traders and analysts say they have never experienced anything like the present market conditions in agricultural commodities.

    [...]

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    Michael Pollan on Cows

    photo of pollan

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    Cows are designed to forage. Eating Grain makes them sick, makes them die if not chock full of antibiotics

    [...]
    Cows, sheep, and other grazing animals are endowed with the ability to convert grasses, which those of us who possess only one stomach cannot digest, into food that we can digest. They can do this because they are ruminants, which is to say that they possess a rumen, a 45 or so gallon (in the case of cows) fermentation tank in which resident bacteria convert cellulose into protein and fats.

    Traditionally, all beef was grass-fed beef, but in the United States today what is commercially available is almost all feedlot beef. The reason? It's faster, and so more profitable. Seventy-five years ago, steers were 4 or 5 years old at slaughter. Today, they are 14 or 16 months. You can't take a beef calf from a birth weight of 80 pounds to 1,200 pounds in a little more than a year on grass. It takes enormous quantities of corn, protein supplements, antibiotics and other drugs, including growth hormones.

    Switching a cow from grass to grain is so disturbing to the animal's digestive system that it can kill the animal if not done gradually and if the animal is not continually fed antibiotics. These animals are designed to forage, but we make them eat grain, primarily corn, in order to make them as fat as possible as fast as possible.
    [....]
    In addition to consuming less energy, grass-fed beef has another environmental advantage - it is far less polluting. The animals' wastes drop onto the land, becoming nutrients for the next cycle of crops. In feedlots and other forms of factory farming, however, the animals' wastes build up in enormous quantities, becoming a staggering source of water and air pollution.

    From a humanitarian perspective, there is yet another advantage to pastured animal products. The animals themselves are not forced to live in confinement. The cruelties of modern factory farming are so severe that you don't have to be a vegetarian or an animal rights activist to find the conditions to be intolerable, and a violation of the human-animal bond. Pastured livestock are not forced to endure the miseries of factory farming. They are not cooped up in cages barely larger than their own bodies, or packed together like sardines for months on end standing knee deep in their own manure.
    [...]

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    Commidity Prices Driving up Food Costs

    [....]

    U.S. hedge funds, speculators and commercial and private investors have poured billions of dollars into commodity futures markets in recent years. This has made a huge impact on global markets, says economist Chad Hart of Iowa State University's Center for Agricultural and Rural Development.

    "We do have a lot of investors seeking out not only agricultural commodities, but just all physical commodities in general as a safe haven for their funds to protect them against inflation and against the weak dollar," says Hart. "But just given the sheer volume of funds that we're talking about being pushed into some of these commodities, especially the agricultural commodities, just in terms of dollars, that creates a fairly sizeable impact on the markets they are entering."

    While conceding that speculation has contributed to inflating commodity futures prices, analyst Chuck Pierson of Investor Commodity Services in Minnesota cautions that other factors are also at work.

    "Most of the speculators are momentum investors. So as the prices go higher, they are inclined to enter the market and try to profit out of the increase in prices. But these prices have been driven up for a lot of other reasons than pure speculation. It [i.e., speculation] is contributing to the increased prices. But you have hedge funds in our market now from equity investors trying to hedge their portfolios against inflation," says Pierson. "And the regulatory people are looking into that -- for instance, the size of what they [i.e., investors] can enter into the markets with. Some of the hedge funds don't have limits on the number of contracts they can buy because they are classified as hedgers."

    [....]

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    Food Stamps Buy Less; Families Are Hit Hard or See what Coulter Licking, Knock Kneed, Pig Eyed, Ball Heavy republikkkans & dimocrap enablers have done

    [...]

    She hunts for items that are on the shelf beyond their expiration dates because their prices are often reduced, a practice she once avoided.

    Ms. Johnson, 44, who works in customer service for a medical firm, knows that buying food this way is not healthy, but she sees no other choice if she wants to feed herself and her 1-year-old niece Ammni Harris and 2-year-old nephew Tramier Harris, who live with her.

    “I live paycheck to paycheck,” said Ms. Johnson, as she walked out of a market near her home in Hackensack, N.J., pushing both Ammni and the week’s groceries in a shopping cart. “And we’re not coping.”

    The sharp rise in food prices is being felt acutely by poor families on food stamps, the federal food assistance program.

    In the past year, the cost of food for what the government considers a minimum nutritional diet has risen 7.2 percent nationwide. It is on track to become the largest increase since 1989, according to April data, the most recent numbers, from the United States Department of Agriculture. The prices of certain staples have risen even more. The cost of eggs, for example, has increased nearly 20 percent, and the price of milk and other dairy products has risen 10 percent.

    But food stamp allocations, intended to cover only minimum needs, have not changed since last fall and will not rise again until October, when an increase linked to inflation will take effect. The percentage, equal to the annual rise in prices for the minimum nutritional food basket as measured each June, is usually announced by early August.

    [...]

    The more than one million New Yorkers on food stamps receive on average $107 a month in assistance, which is slightly higher than the average for the rest of the country. But it is not enough to close the gap in food costs, experts say.

    Poor families interviewed in the New York area say that they are not going hungry — thanks in large part to the city’s strong network of 1,200 soup kitchens and food pantries — but that they have really felt the pinch. To cope, many say, they are doing without the basics.

    June Jacobs-Cuffee of Brooklyn shares $120 a month in food stamps with her 19-year-old epileptic son. She says that even after her once-a-month trip to the food pantry at St. John’s Bread & Life in Brooklyn, she has had to give up red meat and is also cutting back on buying fresh fruits and sticking instead with canned goods and fruit cocktail.

    [...]

    The most recent census data showed that from 2003 to 2006 an average of 1.3 million New Yorkers identified themselves as “food insecure,” meaning that they were worried about being able to buy enough food to keep their families adequately fed. City officials are concerned that the food price increase has caused that number to increase significantly.

    [...]

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    Wednesday, June 11, 2008

    Whole Foods, others named in suit filed by California AG over carcinogens

    [...]

    The suit, California v. Avalon Natural Products, also names as a defendant Austin-based Whole Foods Market Inc., which manufactures the 365 brand sold in the company's stores. Beaumont Products Inc., maker of the Citrus Magic brand, and a Lakeport, Calif.-based company are also named.

    The attorney general alleges the companies should have put warning labels on products containing high levels of 1,4-Dioxane, stating that they may cause cancer.

    The lawsuit states: "Plaintiff alleges that each defendant has known since at least May 29, 2004 that the body washes and gels and liquid dish soaps contain 1,4-Dioxane and that persons using these products are exposed to 1,4-Dioxane." Per Proposition 65, fines for mislabeled products are as high as $2,500 per day for each violation.

    In a statement, Whole Foods (Nasdaq: WFMI) spokesperson Libba Letton says the company "is cooperating with the California Attorney General's office to resolve these claims as quickly as possible. We have conducted our own investigation into the allegations that some of our products contain 1,4-Dioxane and do not believe that these products represent a health risk or are in excess of California's Proposition 65 Safe Harbor level for 1,4-Dioxane."

    [...]

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    REPUBLICANS shut down Democrat Attempt to extend Jobless Benefits

    [...]

    The bill would have extended the average $300-a-week unemployment benefit check by 13 weeks for all Americans. Job seekers in high unemployment states like Alaska, California, Michigan and Rhode Island would have been able to get an extra 13 weeks on top of that.

    House Democratic leaders brought up the bill under a procedure that required a two-thirds vote for approval. The final vote was 279-144, just three votes shy of the margin needed for passage and to overcome a presidential veto.

    House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said the Thursday vote will only need a majority for passage. ‘‘We’re not going to let this sink,’’ Hoyer told reporters after the vote.

    [...]

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    Oil soars as high as $138 a barrel as dollar falls and Energy Department reports supply drop

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    OPEC Wants Oil Price `Solution' From Saudi Meeting

    OPEC wants a ``solution'' to end record oil prices and an examination of the role of speculators when governments of consuming and producing countries meet later this month in Saudi Arabia, OPEC's secretary general said. Heads of state from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, their counterparts from importing nations and bank executives have been invited to attend the June 22 meeting in Jeddah to discuss record energy costs that Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, says are ``unjustified.''

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    FEMA gives away $85 million of supplies for Katrina victims While Storm Victims Struggle

    [...]

    The material, from basic kitchen goods to sleeping necessities, sat in warehouses for two years before the Federal Emergency Management Agency's giveaway to federal and state agencies this year.

    James McIntyre, FEMA's acting press secretary, said that FEMA was spending more than $1 million a year to store the material and that another agency wanted the warehouses torn down, so "we needed to vacate them."

    "Upon review of our assets and our need to continue to store them, we determined that they were excess to FEMA's needs; therefore, they are being excessed from FEMA's inventory," McIntyre wrote in an e-mail.

    He declined a request for an on-camera interview, telling CNN the giveaway was "not news."

    [...]

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    Troops are Being Drugged to Keep them on Front Line

    For the first time in history, a sizable and growing number of U.S. combat troops are taking daily doses of antidepressants to calm nerves strained by repeated and lengthy tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a report in Time Magazine.

    In its June 16 cover story, the magazine reports that the medicines are intended not only to help troops keep their cool but also to enable the already strapped Army to preserve its most precious resource: soldiers on the front lines.

    Citing the Army’s fifth Mental Health Advisory Team report, using an anonymous survey of U.S. troops taken last fall, Time wrote that about 12 percent of combat troops in Iraq and 17 percent of those in Afghanistan are taking prescription antidepressants or sleeping pills to help them cope.

    Escalating violence in Afghanistan and the more isolated mission have driven troops to rely more on medication there than in Iraq, military officials told Time.

    The Army estimates that authorized drug use splits roughly fifty-fifty between troops taking antidepressants — largely the class of drugs that includes Prozac and Zoloft — and those taking prescription sleeping pills such as Ambien, Time wrote.

    The magazine noted that the high number of soldiers on antidepressants is mirrored by that of the general population.

    Time also reported that there are sharp divisions among military physicians: Some have said that the effects of using such prescriptions on soldiers in war zones are not adequately understood, while others contend that using prescriptions for mild depression symptoms avoids costly removals of soldiers from the fight.

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    Yes, and those in Abu Grahib were also sent there legally, like those in Aushwitz

    Maher Arar talks with reporters in Ottawa Thursday, Oct. 18, 2007 after testifying via video link to a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee hearing in Washington. U.S. legislators apologized to Arar for his seizure by U.S. officials who took him to Syria where he was tortured in what he called anJohn Bellinger, legal adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, told a Capitol Hill hearing that Arar was legally deported under immigration regulations.

    And he defended the department's policy of seeking assurances against torture from countries with terrible human-rights records.

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    Take the Bush administration along and leave them there!

    NASA Plans to Visit the Sun

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    Lake Delton to be dry this year

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    Tuesday, June 10, 2008

    Energy Conglomerates Want Taxpayers to Fund A new Court so they can have their way

    Most of West Virginia's Supreme Court justices question the need for a midlevel appeals court, a proposal raised after they refused to hear two cases involving a combined $664 million in damages.

    The four justices cite the expected price tag of adding another layer to the state's judicial system.

    "A big concern is that West Virginia taxpayers could be responsible for tremendous costs associated with a new level of judges, clerks, administrators and facilities,'' Justice Brent Benjamin said.

    The others include Justice Larry Starcher, who had proposed setting up a three-judge court for workers' compensation and administrative appeals earlier in his term, and Justice Robin Davis.

    Noting that any such move would require legislation, Davis, Benjamin and Justice Joseph Albright also caution lawmakers not to pursue such a proposal as a reaction to the recently turned-down appeals.

    Unanimous votes last month rejected appeals of a $260 million judgment against Massey Energy and a $404 million verdict against NiSource and Chesapeake Energy. The outcomes prompted an outcry from those defendants, who vowed to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Chesapeake has also blamed the refusal in its case, a class-action lawsuit filed by thousands of gas royalty holders, for its scuttling of plans to build a $35 million regional headquarters in Charleston.

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    Here's a little disinformation Game

    republican swine are playing to make the hapless American public think McCain IS NOT running for Bush's third term. Cheney's remarks are wholly insignificant other than that they may help fol the public into thinking John McCain has a different energy policy than the Bush-Cheney feces white house.

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    Republicans Block Vote To Tax Oil Companies

    Senate Republicans have blocked a Democratic plan to tax the windfall profits of the largest oil companies.

    Democrats on Tuesday failed, 51-43, to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster of the energy package, and bring the bill up for consideration.

    Democrats said the huge profits enjoyed by the largest U.S. oil companies should be reined with motorists paying more than $4 a gallon for gasoline and oil prices soaring well beyond $100 a barrel. But Republican critics said higher taxes on oil companies would increase — not lower — gasoline prices and reduce the incentive for domestic oil exploration and production.

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    Water Department workers oppose privatization move

    [...]

    And this troop, 60 strong, many of them committed and highly trained, is battling the Water Department's efforts to privatize its sludge operation because the workers don't believe anyone can do their jobs better.

    That opposition killed the proposal while John F. Street was mayor, but Mayor Nutter is now behind it and lobbying Council to approve the idea.

    Yesterday, over cascading boos from at least 100 union members, City Council's Finance Committee recommended approval of a 23-year contract with a partnership led by waste-processor Synagro Technologies Inc. of Houston.

    The legislation could go before Council for a final vote as early as next week, though committee chairwoman Marian B. Tasco said the administration had questions to answer first.

    City officials say they can save at least $100 million over the life of the contract, eliminate what remains of the odors that once wafted over Eastwick and Southwest Philadelphia, and create a system that doesn't depend on landfills or the uncertain prospect of other states' accepting Philadelphia's waste.

    [...]

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    Small California Town Overthrows Corporate Giant for Control of Water

    Many of the 3,000 adult residents of the Felton Water District had been organizing for nearly six years to buy the community's water system from California American Water. Cal-Am is a subsidiary of American Water, which, despite an ongoing sell-off, remains under the ownership of German multinational energy and water titan RWE.

    Surprisingly, less than a week before an eminent domain trial to decide the value of the water system, the announcement came that the San Lorenzo Valley Water District would pay Cal-Am $10.5 million in cash for the system. Of course, Cal-Am went for the deal to settle the eminent domain suit against it and avoid a jury trial, said Jim Mosher, who heads up the legal committee for Felton FLOW -- Friends of Locally Owned Water.

    This is a great victory for the citizens of Felton and should inspire other communities to challenge private water utilities that are extorting huge, unjustified rate increases and failing to protect sensitive watershed properties. The SLV Water District has done an excellent job representing us and we look forward to having them manage the Felton water system."
    [...]

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    Atlas shows effects of climate change in Africa

    [...]
    Although Africa produces only 4 percent of the world's total carbon dioxide emissions, its inhabitants are expected by some officials to suffer most from the consequences of climate change.

    "Africa is one of the regions least responsible for climate change, and is also least able to afford the costs of adaptation," said Marthinus Van Schalkwyk, South Africa's minister of environmental affairs and tourism.

    According to the atlas, Africa is losing nearly 10 million acres of forest every year -- twice the world's average deforestation rate. Some areas of the continent are losing over 55.12 tons of soil per 2.5 acres each year, the atlas says.

    The atlas also appears to illustrate that erosion as well as chemical and physical damage have degraded about 65 percent of the continent's farmlands. The migration of refugees is causing further pressure on the environment, the atlas says.

    Besides well-publicized changes, such as Mount Kilimanjaro's shrinking glaciers, the drying up of Lake Chad and falling water levels in Lake Victoria, the atlas offers documentation of new or lesser known environmental changes.

    These include the disappearance of glaciers in Uganda's Rwenzori Mountains and forests in Madagascar, and the loss of Cape Town's unique 'fynbos' shrubland vegetation.

    The atlas shows the swell of gray-colored cities over once-green countryside, the tracks of road networks through forests and the erosion of deltas.

    It shows the dramatic expansion of cities such as Senegalese capital Dakar, which has grown over the past 50 years from a small urban center at the tip of the Cap Verde Peninsula to a metropolitan area with 2.5 million people spread over the entire peninsula.

    [...]

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    Can water shortages in Europe be curbed?

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    Monsanto sees growing water shortage issues ahead

    And intends to exploit that horrible situation, ala Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine tactics by forcing the world to eat Frankenfoods, or other genetically modified organisms made to resemble food, rather than pursue technology and support policy that is sustainable and compatible with life.

    All corporate charters should automatically be revoked and their assets sold after 7 years. Then we wouldn't have to deal with this kind of corporate, fly by night, attack.
    [...]

    St Louis-based Monsanto has just announced it plans to double yield in its three core crops of corn, soybeans and cotton by 2030, compared to a base year of 2000.

    Monsanto and Dow Chemical's (DOW.N: Quote, Profile, Research) AgroSciences unit are partnering to develop the first-ever eight-gene stacked combination in corn, which will start adding to revenue by 2010.

    The seed offering will contain eight genes that protect the corn crop against above- and below-ground insects. It also will guard the crop from being damaged by some weed control chemicals.

    Monsanto intends to add its own proprietary drought tolerant trait to this offering by 2012.

    [...]

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    Fair, reasonable trading system urged for food security

    [...]

    "The food price hike is directly related to the distortion of international trading system," Du Ying, vice chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission, told a meeting of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development.

    "Developed countries should take measures to reduce trade distortion on agricultural produce, improve trading terms with developing countries so that those developing ones could fully play their the comparative advantages and boost their growth through trade," Du said.

    He urged the international community to make joint efforts to maintain the normal food trading order in the world.

    [...]

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    Some officials say recycled water is answer to drought

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    World Wide Water Shortages

    [...]

    The oceans are rimmed with desalination plants, many fuelled by nuclear power. Corporate-controlled nanotechnology cleans up our sewage and sends it back to us, at huge profit, to drink and bathe in, to cool the machines of our industry, to irrigate our crops. Wars will be fought over water, and economies will fail for lack of it. The fabric of even strong nations will be tested by the water-haves and have-nots as thirsty, expanding cities suck dry the countryside.

    Her warnings were echoed this week in London, where a panel of experts at a Goldman Sachs conference warned that catastrophic water shortages could prove an even bigger threat to mankind this century than soaring food prices and the exhaustion of energy reserves.

    Lord Nicholas Stern, author of the British Government's Stern review on the economics of climate change, warned that underground aquifers could run dry at the same time as melting glaciers played havoc with fresh supplies of usable water. "A few hundred square miles of the Himalayas are the source for all the major rivers of Asia � the Ganges, the Yellow River, the Yangtze � where 3 billion people live. That's almost half the world's population."

    [...]

    It was the inclusion of water on the list of tradeable goods being negotiated between Canada and America in the late 1980s that put it on Barlow's radar. She and her council argued that including water in a free-trade agreement between a superpower with a growing thirst, and a country such as Canada with lots of water, would put Canada's water at risk. As she began to read about the issues of water trade, water ownership, water rights, water security "I just became obsessed. I got water on the brain.

    "To my knowledge, I wrote the very first political analysis on the question of who owns water back in 1998." The report morphed into the best-selling Blue Gold, published in more than 50 countries, in 2002.

    "It seemed to me, as I learned more, that this was the most important issue in the world." And it brought together strands of her work through the past. "In women's issues, this was coming full circle, because in the global south water is the most important women's issue now. Women are responsible for finding water, if they come back without water they are beaten.

    "The water issue, in a way, provides an entry point to explain to people why we have to change our policies, to be more sustainable, to be more grounded on human needs and human rights and the rights of the earth."

    [...]

    [...]

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    Monday, June 09, 2008

    Northrop Tanker Deal Will Cost U.S. Taxpayers Billions

    [...]
    • The contract to EADS could cost U.S. taxpayers as much as $30 billion in unneeded costs.
    • Known as the KC-30, the aircraft EADS is less capable, can land in fewer bases and is more vulnerable to being downed by enemy fire.
    • The KC-30 is being financed with illegal subsidies, according to a near-unanimous consensus of legal experts in the United States and leaders of both political parties.
    • The Defense Department made questionable midstream changes in the procurement criteria that it has not explained to Congress to date.
    • EADS won exemptions from key national security laws, including those that restrict the export of sensitive military technologies developed with U.S. funds.
    • EADS has very questionable relationships with Iran, Russia and others that should be of concern to policymakers tasked with protecting our national security.

    Compared with the model EADS would build, the Boeing version produces 25 percent less carbon dioxide-reducing greenhouse gases and offers a 24 percent fuel savings—costs borne by taxpayers.

    At a meeting in Everett, Wash., where more than 300 Boeing workers joined with the state’s congressional delegation, Gov. Chris Gregoire and other elected officials to call on the Air Force to take another look at its decision, Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) told the crowd the only way EADS operates is with subsidies the United States says are illegal. In fact, even as the $40 billion contract is being handed over, the federal government is aggressively pursuing legal action against EADS at the World Trade Organization for getting grants and loans at unfairly favorable rates.

    The contract also raises national security issues. Workers at Boeing—members of the Machinists (IAM) and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace/IFPTE Local 2001 (SPEEA)—undergo security checks and rigorous background clearances. But it is unclear if the European workers, as well as immigrants who are hired to build the scattered parts of this crucial piece of military equipment prior to its final assembly, will be vetted in the same way.

    IFPTE Secretary-Treasurer Paul Shearon nicely summed up the situation.

    No one is arguing that this decision should be made because of domestic economic considerations alone. But every sober analysis of the tanker award shows that after considerable lobbying by this foreign contractor, its minority U.S. partner, and Senator John McCain, the DoD buckled to their pressure and made decisions that will leave U.S. workers, taxpayers and soldiers out in the cold. We are confident that upon closer reflection, the Congress will reverse this ill-fated decision.

    As Christy has shown here, the senator from Arizona, John McCain, played a crucial role in blocking the deal to build air tankers from going to U.S.-based Boeing. Citing Sam Stein over at the Huffington Post, Christy writes:

    In January 15, 2007, McCain appeared at Alabama Gov. Bob Riley’s gubernatorial swearing in ceremony and formally called for multiple bidders in the tanker deal. The push for an open process had only one true beneficiary, however, and that was the Northrop Grumman/EADS consortium, which was poised to be Boeing’s sole competitor.

    A day after McCain made his proclamation, the contributions began to flow. John Green, a lobbyist for EADS donated $2,100 to the senator’s presidential campaign. Ten days after that, Michelle Lammers, the “Chief of Staff” for EADS North America, gave $250 to the McCain campaign. It was her first political contribution ever. Less than a month later, the long-time head of EADS’ government affairs program, Samuel Adcock, made a $2,100 donation to McCain. And eleven days later, Ralph Crosby, the head of EADS North America, donated $2,300 himself.


    [...]

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    Credit crisis expands, hitting all kinds of consumer loans

    [...]

    That means consumers are going to have an increasingly difficult time getting bank loans for car purchases, credit cards, home equity credit lines, student loans and even commercial real estate, experts say.

    When financial analyst Meredith Whitney wrote in a report last October that the nation's largest bank, Citigroup, lacked sufficient capital for the risks it had assumed, she was considered a heretic.

    However, Whitney was proved correct: Citigroup pushed out its CEO, sought foreign investors and slashed its dividend. Her comments now carry added weight on Wall Street, and she has a new warning for ordinary Americans: The crisis in credit markets is far from over, and it increasingly will affect consumers.

    [...]

    The warning is scary considering what's already behind us in the credit crisis — the resignation or firing since last August of CEOs at almost every large commercial or investment bank; the Federal Reserve lowering its benchmark lending rate by 3.25 percentage points; a Fed-brokered deal to sell investment bank Bear Stearns; and weekly auctions of short-term loans from the Fed worth billions of dollars to keep credit markets functioning.

    Whitney argues that the worst is still ahead because the financial tools that enabled credit to flow so freely to homeowners and consumers for most of this decade are likely to remain in a prolonged shutdown indefinitely.

    "After years of inherently flawed underwriting, banks face the worst yet of the credit crisis — over $170 billion in write-downs and charge-offs from consumer loans," Whitney told McClatchy. The same kind of losses from housing may be ahead for credit extended to consumers, she said.

    At the heart of the nation's lending boom from 1996 to 2006 was a process called securitization. In housing, this process involved pooling mortgages for sale to investors as special bonds called mortgage-backed securities. Monthly mortgage payments were also pooled and served as the return to investors.

    Securitization meant that most home loans no longer sat on a bank's balance sheet. Instead, they were sold into a secondary market, where they were sliced and diced in a process that was supposed to spread investment risk a mile wide and an inch deep.

    For every dollar of mortgage loans that banks kept on their balance sheets since 2000, another $7 of these loans were sold to the secondary market and securitized. This led to the industry joke that "a rolling loan gathered no loss." Risk was passed along to the next holder of the debt. Securitization added what bankers call liquidity, a fancy term for having more money on hand to lend.

    Now, the structured finance that enabled Americans to borrow cheaply has gone away, at least in the housing market.

    "With that source of liquidity removed, the sheer number of buyers who can qualify for mortgages and therefore buy homes will decline dramatically," Whitney told McClatchy. "It stands to reason, therefore, that less demand and more supply will drive home prices down well below current expectations."

    In addition, interest is waning in other areas of lending where securitization has also been common — car loans, credit cards, home equity lines of credit, student loans and even commercial real estate. It means that lending in those areas is growing tighter.

    [...]

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    15 child brides used to barter in Pakistan, our ally

    [...]
    "These people who force others to sell their daughters must be sent to prison."

    The new government in Islamabad, led by the party of the late Benazir Bhutto, has promised to act. "We will not allow young girls to be traded like this," said the information minister, Sherry Rehman. "The culprits who tried to do this will be arrested. The orders have been given."

    But Jahangir said those orders had not been acted upon. "There is a dysfunction in the whole system. They are not listening to the government," she said. "We need to see them being more effective than just rhetoric."

    Vanni, an ancient tribal practice in which feuding clans settle their differences by exchanging women for marriage, is illegal in Pakistan. In 2004 the Sindh high court outlawed all such "parallel justice" systems. But the writ of government is weak in rural areas, and local police often turn a blind eye.

    [...]

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    China expected to reach moon before U.S. returns

    There hasn’t been an American on the moon since 1972. The first one, Neil Armstrong, took this photograph of the second one on the lunar surface, Buzz Aldrin, during their 1969 mission.

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    Sunday, June 08, 2008

    Republican Economic Management. Cost of War. Cost of Deregulation

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    6.5 Magnitude Earthquake in Greece

    Map

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    When a Right Wing Nut Job Like McCain says Reform He means Regressive Tax System, Punishing to Middle Class

    http://blackliberal.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/mccain.jpg

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    Read My Lips. No Education. No New Levees. No New Bridges. No Job Creation. Plenty of Privatized War.

    http://blackliberal.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/mccain.jpg

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    Thursday, June 05, 2008

    Right Wing Economic Ideas Don't Work

    Americans saw their net worth decline by $1.7 trillion in the first quarter - the biggest drop since 2002 - as declines in home values and the stock market ravaged their holdings.

    Meanwhile, the amount of equity people have in their homes fell to 46.2%, the lowest level on record.

    The net worth of U.S. households fell 3% to $56 trillion at the end of March, according to the Federal Reserve's flow of funds report, which was released Thursday.

    The value of real estate assets owned by households and non-profits declined by $305 billion, while financial assets fell by $1.3 trillion, led mainly by a $556 billion drop in stocks and a $400 billion decline in mutual funds.

    The first quarter's decline follows a $530 billion drop in wealth in the fourth quarter of 2007. Until then, net worth had been rising steadily since 2003, climbing nearly 31% over those five years. During the bear market of 2000 through 2002, household's net worth dropped 6.2%.

    [...]

    Household debt grew by 3.5% in the first quarter, down from 6.1% in the fourth quarter. The growth of home mortgage debt, including home equity loans, cooled to an annual rate of 3%, less than half the pace of 2007. Consumer credit, which includes credit cards, rose at an annual rate of 5.75%, the same as the 2007 pace.

    The fact that consumers continue to borrow against their homes, even as they decline in value, shows how troubled Americans are.

    "It signals how consumers are struggling to get cash," Hoyt said.

    The Fed's report comes at a time of growing anxiety about the nation's economic health. Many economists believe the country is already in a recession, if not headed toward one.

    In the first four months of the year, employers cut 260,000 jobs, and on Friday the government is expected to report an additional 60,000 losses in May. Gross domestic product rose at a sluggish annual rate of 0.9% in the first three months of the year, when adjusted for inflation.

    Whether household wealth will be up or down at the close of 2008 depends more heavily on the stock market's performance than on housing values, since financial assets account for about two-thirds of net worth. Because the stock market has been rising in recent months, Englund is expecting a 6% gain in net worth for the second quarter.

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    New probe into Victor Jara murder

    Victor Jara
    Judge Juan Eduardo Fuentes said he would examine 40 new pieces of evidence provided by the singer's family.

    Mr Jara was killed in 1973 at the Stadium of Chile in Santiago, in the early days of former military ruler Gen Augusto Pinochet's government.

    His widow, Joan Jara, said his murder had become an international symbol in the fight against human rights abuses.

    She added that the re-opening of the case "opens the way to continue investigating and searching for the truth".

    Tortured and killed

    Mr Jara was among thousands of people who were arrested and taken to the Chile Stadium in Santiago soon after Gen Pinochet took power, following a military coup on 11 September, 1973.

    Once there, soldiers broke and burned his hands so that he was unable to play his guitar, witnesses say. He was then shot and killed.

    The 38-year-old singer was one of the founding fathers of Chile's New Song movement and a supporter of President Salvador Allende, who was overthrown in the coup.

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    Makes me Wonder if these guys object to the plan to bomb Iran

    Moseley, Wynne to be asked to resign


    By Erik Holmes - Staff Writer
    Posted : Thursday Jun 5, 2008 11:34:46 EDT

    Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne and Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley are expected to be asked to resign Thursday, Air Force Times has learned.

    The stunning development follows a series of high-profile scandals and disagreements between Air Force leadership and Defense Secretary Robert Gates in the past year, during which both the Pentagon and congressional leadership have increasingly expressed frustration about the Air Force’s top bosses.

    The last straw appears to be a report on nuclear weapons handling by Navy Adm. Kirkland Donald, director of naval nuclear propulsion. The critical report convinced Gates that changes must be made.

    Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen recalled Moseley to Washington for an early-morning meeting Thursday. Moseley had been hosting a four-star conclave of top Air Force leaders at the thrice-yearly Corona leadership conference at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Following that meeting, Moseley returned to Corona with Air Force public affairs chief Brig. Gen. Darren McDew.

    Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England is en route to Wright-Patterson, sources said. He is expected to meet with Wynne to ask for his resignation.

    It is not clear how quickly these changes could take effect.

    Navy Capt. John Kirby, Mullen’s spokesman, declined to comment but did not deny the story.

    It is not yet known who will succeed both men, but Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Duncan McNabb will likely become acting chief of staff.

    Sources said other senior officers could also be relieved.

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    Schwarzenegger declares statewide drought in Calif.

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    New satellite photos show Amazon deforestation exploding

    [...]

    Brazil's DETER real-time monitoring system found that more than 430 square miles of forest, an area a bit smaller than the city of Los Angeles, vanished in the month of April, while about 2,300 square miles, larger than the state of Delaware, were destroyed between last August and April.

    That nine-month total surpassed the entire acreage in the Amazon that was destroyed over the previous 12 months, according to DETER data. What's worse, the satellites couldn't see about half of the forest in April due to cloud cover, suggesting that actual deforestation likely was much greater.

    That's raised red flags among environmentalists, who say that soybean farming, cattle production and illegal logging are destroying the world's largest rainforest despite the government's attempts to halt the deforestation.

    [...]

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    Indicted Saudi Gets $80 Million US Contract

    The contract to supply jet fuel to American bases in Afghanistan was awarded to the Attock Refinery Ltd, a Pakistani-based refinery owned by Gaith Pharaon. Pharaon is wanted in connection with his alleged role at the failed Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), and the CenTrust savings and loan scandal, which cost US tax payers $1.7 billion.

    The Saudi businessman was also named in a 2002 French parliamentary report as having links to informal money transfer networks called hawala, known to be used by traders and terrorists, including Al Qaeda.

    Interestingly, Pharaon was also an investor in President George W. Bush's first business venture, Arbusto Energy.

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    9/11 families excluded from Guantanamo hearing

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    I'm Michael Mukasey and I'm an even Bigger Fascist Kiss Ass than Little Al Gonzales

    http://www.austinchronicle.com/binary/61e9/pols_reefer.jpg

    As Mukasey was speaking, Human Rights Watch urged the government to move the trials of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others accused in the Sept. 11 attacks from Guantanamo Bay to federal court. The five men are scheduled make their first appearance before a military judge on Thursday.

    In civilian courts, hearsay evidence and confessions obtained through coercion are not admissible. Such evidence is allowed in the military commissions.

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    If Only Dumbocrats were progressive

    Democratic pollsters released a survey showing the possibility of a Democratic wave in Republican congressional districts this fall.

    The poll of 1,600 voters in 45 Republican congressional districts showed on average a 33% approval rating for President Bush, a 38% approval rating for the incumbent Republican ...

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    Mariulyn Huff. Would either Quakers or Rolling Stones Have her?

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    Speaking of War Criminals. Blackwater Opens Shop in San Diego

    District Judge Marilyn Huff ruled that the company would suffer irreparable harm if it could not begin holding classes there for Navy sailors.

    Blackwater sued last month to force the city to issue final occupancy permits after the required inspections were already approved, claiming officials upended normal procedures because they feared a political backlash.

    The city responded that the company misled officials about the nature of the center, which includes a multilevel mock ship built out of cargo containers, to avoid triggering a full review by the city planning commission and a possible City Council vote.

    As has been aptly demonstrated by these right wing extremist scum, irreparable harm to the people of the United States, or to the very fabric of democracy if we can be said to have a remnant of that, does not stand in the way when dollars are to be made. I bet if I lied like that to San Diego Marilyn Huff would senence me to 3 to 5, no parole.

    Fuck Marilyn Huff.

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    And The William L Calley Award For Skating Away Punishment Free From Crimes Against Humanity

    U.S. military jury acquitted a Marine intelligence officer Wednesday of charges that he tried to help cover up the killings of 24 Iraqis.

    Cheers erupted as the seven-officer panel cleared 1st Lt. Andrew Grayson, who was the first of three Marines to be tried in the biggest U.S. criminal case involving Iraqi deaths linked to the war. The verdict came just five hours after deliberations began.

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    Military commission head contradicts Pentagon's version of judge's dismissal

    [...]
    Marine Col. Ralph Kohlmann added that, contrary to an earlier Defense Department announcement, Army Col. Peter E. Brownback III did not voluntarily retire from active-duty status and had sought to see the trial to completion.

    Khadr, now 21, is accused of the July 2002 grenade killing of a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan. He was 15. Brownback, a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Army, was the longest serving commissions judge, until he was relieved last week.

    Kohlman's abrupt replacement of Brownback without explanation stirred controversy. Defense lawyers have accused the Pentagon of rushing cases so they'll come to trial at the height of the presidential campaign season.

    [...]

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    Police Kill Hurricane Katrina Refugee when Bush Administration Tries ot Repossess his FEMA Trailor

    A man fatally shot by police after a 10-hour standoff Wednesday had suffered with mental illness for much of his life, and it worsened in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a family member said.

    Eric Minshew, 49, ordered Federal Emergency Management Agency workers to leave his trailer when they arrived for an inspection Tuesday afternoon, according to accounts from police.

    Later, police said he fired at them several times and was fatally shot after pointing a handgun at officers who tried to arrest him. No officers were injured.

    Rosemarie Brocato, who lives about a block away from the house, said she had told police, "He's sick. Please don't shoot him. He needs help."

    The man had moved into the family home about eight years ago, with no money and no job, his brother, Homer M. Minshew III, said Wednesday. He survived the hurricane, but the family was awaiting government aid so they could either pay the house off or fix it up and sell it.

    He suffered for years with mental problems that "got a lot worse after the storm," his brother said. He felt his hopes of inheriting his parents' home -- a place he'd felt a strong connection to -- diminish, he said. He owned a gun because he had gotten a job as a security guard, according to his brother.

    [...]

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