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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.

    Wednesday, August 27, 2008

    Pioneering lesbian rights activist Del Martin has died

    Del Martin, left, places a ring on her partner Phyllis Lyon, ...

    Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said Martin died at a San Francisco hospital Wednesday morning, two weeks after a broken arm exacerbated her existing health problems.

    Her wife, Phyllis Lyon, was by her side, Kendell said.

    Along with six other women, they founded a San Francisco social club for lesbians in 1955 called the Daughters of Bilitis. Under their leadership, the group evolved into the nation's first lesbian advocacy organization.

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    More Exxon News. Arctic Ice At 2nd-Lowest Level On Record

    With several weeks left in the melt season, ice in summer 2008 has a chance to diminish below the record low set last year, according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

    Environmental groups said the ice melt was another alarm bell warning of global warming.

    "It's an unfortunate sign that climate change is coming rapidly to the Arctic and that we really need to address the issue of global warming on a national level," said Christopher Krenz, Arctic project manager for Oceana.

    "This is not surprising but it is alarming," said Deborah Williams, a former Interior Department special assistant for Alaska. "This was a relatively cool summer, and to have ice decrease to the second lowest minimum on record demonstrates that global warming's ongoing impact is profound."

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    Exxon Still Refuses to Pay Bills on Damage it Caused 20 years ago

    The Exxon Valdez spilled some 34,000 tonnes of crude oil in the costliest accident of its kind. The clean up alone cost around $2.5 billion.

    The two sides still disagree about whether Exxon owes interest on the $507 million award, which would bring the final figure to $1 billion, according to plaintiff's lawyers. There is also debate over another $70 million, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

    David Oesting of Anchorage, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, and Exxon were not immediately available for comment.

    While the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the subject, the justices sent the case back to the lower court to handle the final settlement of the $507.5 million award, which the Court said was the maximum damages available to the plaintiffs.

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    Exxon Refused to pay orignal fine of 5 billion ( they make in a month ) for 20 years

    Last year, Exxon Mobil netted a record $40.6 billion in profits. At that rate, it could pay the punitive damages with about four days' worth of profits. But in the end, the punitive damages will amount to only a small part of the company's payout: Exxon already has spent $2 billion on environmental cleanup and paid $1.4 billion more in fines and compensation to thousands of fishermen and cannery workers.

    In a statement Wednesday, Exxon Mobil Chairman and Chief Executive Rex W. Tillerson said that "the Valdez oil spill was a tragic accident and one which the corporation deeply regrets. . . . We have worked hard over many years to address the impacts of the spill and to prevent such accidents from happening in our company again."

    But some lawmakers and environmentalists faulted the court for giving a big-money reprieve to one of the world's richest companies. Exxon Mobil earned more than $10 billion in profits in the first quarter of this year.
    "This ruling is another in a line of cases where this Supreme Court has misconstrued congressional intent to benefit large corporations," said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.).

    The executive director of Greenpeace called the decision a betrayal of Alaskan communities and their fishermen. They "deserved far better after their long and difficult battle to hold Exxon Mobil accountable," said John Passacantando. He described the oil spill as "the worst environmental calamity in U.S. history."

    1989 Exxon Valdez spill

    At issue Wednesday were the punitive damages awarded to more than 32,000 fishermen, cannery workers and Alaska natives whose livelihoods were damaged or destroyed by the oil spill. A jury in Alaska agreed that the company should be punished for its recklessness, and it handed down a $5-billion award.

    Exxon appealed, insisting that verdict was out of line. Its lawyers pointed out that for centuries, shipowners were not punished for accidents on the high seas even if their captain was at fault. (In earlier times, shipowners had no way to contact captains after they had left port.)

    Eventually, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reduced the punitive damages to $2.5 billion. But Exxon appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the judgment should be thrown out entirely.

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    Cheney Expresses Joy at Prospect of a Profitable War with Russia. Go Nukes!

    Joseph R. Wood, Cheney's deputy assistant for national security affairs, was in Georgia shortly before the war began.
    [...]
    And so it was that a team from the vice president's office, U.S. security officials and others were in Georgia several days before the war began.
    [...]
    Cheney aide was in Georgia before war began

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    More on the antiquated, decaying, highly profitable for a few infrastructure. Nationalize Electricty NOW!

    When the builders of the Maple Ridge Wind farm spent $320 million to put nearly 200 wind turbines in upstate New York, the idea was to get paid for producing electricity. But at times, regional electric lines have been so congested that Maple Ridge has been forced to shut down even with a brisk wind blowing.

    That is a symptom of a broad national problem. Expansive dreams about renewable energy, like Al Gore’s hope of replacing all fossil fuels in a decade, are bumping up against the reality of a power grid that cannot handle the new demands.

    The dirty secret of clean energy is that while generating it is getting easier, moving it to market is not.

    [...]

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    No Democracy in America. ABC Reporter Arrested in Denver for Taking Pictures of Senators with Big Donors

    Police in Denver arrested an ABC News producer today as he and a camera crew were attempting to take pictures on a public sidewalk of Democratic Senators and VIP donors leaving a private meeting at the Brown Palace Hotel.

    Police on the scene refused to tell ABC lawyers the charges against the producer, Asa Eslocker, who works with the ABC News investigative unit.

    A police official later told lawyers for ABC News that Eslocker is being charged with trespass, interference, and failure to follow a lawful order. He also said the arrest followed a signed complaint from the Brown Palace Hotel.

    Eslocker was put in handcuffs and loaded in the back of a police van which headed for a nearby police station.

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    Privatized Cops Under Authority of raving joke "homeland Security" harrass citizen, pee all over constitution

    [...]
    Lapriss Gilbert said she was picking up a Social Security card for her son when the guard was offended by her "lesbian.com" shirt and threatened her with arrest.
    She was eventually allowed inside after her mother called police, according to a Los Angeles Daily News story.

    The guard, whose name was not immediately available, works for Paragon Security, which contracts with the Department of Homeland Security.
    [...]

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    Taxpayers Pick up Tab for Deregulation that made handful wealthy

    Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC) might have to borrow money from the Treasury Department to see it through an expected wave of bank failures, the Wall Street Journal reported.

    The borrowing could be needed to cover short-term cash-flow pressures caused by reimbursing depositors immediately after the failure of a bank, the paper said.

    The borrowed money would be repaid once the assets of that failed bank are sold.

    "I would not rule out the possibility that at some point we may need to tap into (short-term) lines of credit with the Treasury for working capital, not to cover our losses," Chairman Sheila Bair said in an interview with the paper.

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    Get Your Religion Outta My Face

    Redmond resident Mike Christensen, 28, paid for this billboard on Denny Way near Stewart Street.

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    Saturday, August 23, 2008

    Bush Administration Continues to Use Unproven allegations to foment War, this time with Venezuela

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    Thursday, August 14, 2008

    U.S. Economy: Consumer Prices Rise More Than Forecast

    Still, increases went beyond food and fuel, including gains in clothing, airline fares and education, likely intensifying discussions among Fed policy makers about how quickly to shift toward raising rates.

    ``What we are seeing is a lot of commodity-price spillover'' into other items, said Richard DeKaser, chief economist at National City Corp. in Cleveland, who correctly forecast the increase in core prices. ``Numbers like this increase the hand of hawks'' at the Fed who argue that rates need to rise to quell inflation, he said.

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    Rex Tillerson Godfather of Exxon Mobil Lies and Distorts

    "I think the response to that is to have as many diverse supplies of energy as possible. And that means both in terms of geographic diversity. You want to expose yourself or certainly have access for the American people to as many different geographic sources of supply as possible. So the disruption in one area does not leave you ... hostage to any one area."

    Last week, Obama called to "end the age of oil in our time," claiming that the United States could produce enough renewable energy to replace all U.S. imports of oil within 10 years.

    But Tillerson said that "it's going to be very challenging to achieve that goal, in that period of time. And again, so much of the energy issue that the United States deals with and the world deals with, people I think do not have an appreciation for the lead times that are required."

    Had the Reagan administration, back in 1980, not purposefully derailed plans to do exactly that - develop alternative energy sources and break the cycle of dependence on imports - we would have many diverse sources of energy by now. It is challenging to achieve that goal ONLY because corporations have obstructed achievement of it at every turn, and Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush Jr. administrations have each stood in the way of doing anything achieving it. Our politicians felt the more important thing to do was make a very few people wealthy beyond imagining, even if it meant betraying the people of the country and suppressing any semblance of democracy.

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    Hair Samples in Anthrax Case Don't Match

    [...]
    The hair sample is one of many pieces of evidence over which researchers continue to puzzle in the case, which ended after Ivins committed suicide July 29 as prosecutors prepared to seek his indictment.
    [...]
    Friends and former colleagues of Ivins, who died before he could see the full array of evidence prosecutors had gathered, continue to demand information about the DNA advances that authorities say led them to a flask in Ivins's lab.
    [...]

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    Pander in Chief

    obama.jpg

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    Saturday, August 09, 2008

    Iraq and Oil

    Oil Reserves
    According to the Oil and Gas Journal, Iraq’s proven oil reserves are 115 billion barrels, although these statistics have not been revised since 2001 and are largely based on 2-D seismic data from nearly three decades ago. Over the past two years, multinational companies, at the request of the Government of Iraq (GoI), have reexamined seismic data and conducted comprehensive surveys of Iraq’s hydrocarbons reserves in locations throughout the country. Geologists and consultants have estimated that relatively unexplored territory in the western and southern deserts may contain an estimated additional 45 to 100 billion barrels (bbls) of recoverable oil. While internal Iraqi estimates have ranged into the hundreds of billions of barrels of additional oil, the seismic data under review by a host of international firms seem to be pointing to more conservative, but significant, increases. Iraq has the lowest reserve to production ratio of the major oil-producing countries.
    The majority of the known oil and gas reserves in Iraq form a belt that runs along the eastern edge of the country. According to the GoI, Iraq has around 9 fields that are considered “super giants” (over 5 billion bbls reserves) as well as 22 known “giant” fields (over 1 billion bbls). According to independent consultants, the cluster of super-giant fields of southeastern Iraq forms the largest known concentration of such fields in the world and accounts for 70 to 80 percent of the country’s proven oil reserves. An estimated 20 percent of oil reserves are in the north of Iraq, near Kirkuk, Mosul and Khanaqin. Control over rights to reserves is a source of controversy between the ethnic Kurds and other groups in the area.
    The Western Desert is of interest to oil prospectors as well as to the sectarian groups occupying these areas where there is no active oil production. Minor oil formations beneath western territory have been known of for decades, but little has been done in the way of development. Much of this area is just now undergoing exploration, although it belongs to same geological formation as part of the Saudi Arabian deposits. According to an Egyptian news source from February, 2007, a test well at the Akkas field in the Al-Anbar province is flowing at rates equivalent to larger fields elsewhere in Iraq.


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    more US Military Oil Consumption


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    US military oil consumption

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    More Oil wars Break out

    The breakaway province of South Ossetia is claimed by Georgia, a former Soviet republic that cast its lot with the United States and the West to the eternal irritation of Moscow. But South Ossetia has resisted Georgia's rule and has been under Russia's sway for years.

    Georgia sits in a tough neighborhood, shoulder to shoulder with huge Russia, not far from Iran, and astride one of the most important crossroads for the emerging wealth of the rich Caspian Sea region. A U.S.-backed oil pipeline runs through Georgia, allowing the West to reduce its reliance on Middle Eastern oil while bypassing Russia and Iran.

    The dispute makes the Bush administration the middleman between a promising ally it wants to help and the powerful former adversary next door whose help it needs.

    Washington praises democratic development in Georgia, delights in its contribution of combat troops for Iraq and acknowledges valuable intelligence and counterterrorism cooperation.

    Moscow's cooperation is vital to numerous Washington aims in Iran, North Korea and elsewhere.

    "For all those reasons, and the fact that Georgia has demonstrated that it is a close ally, we cannot simply sit by and say, 'So be it - what does South Ossetia mean to us?' " said Janusz Bugajski, director of the new European democracies project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Georgia as a whole means quite a lot."

    The pipeline that crosses Georgia can pump slightly more than 1 million barrels of crude oil per day, or more than 1 percent of the world's daily crude output. The 1,100-mile pipeline carries oil from Azerbaijan's Caspian Sea fields, estimated to hold the world's third-largest reserves. Its potential vulnerability was already in the spotlight after it was sabotaged this week, apparently by Kurdish separatists.

    Most of the oil is bound for Western Europe, where gas prices are even higher than the $4 and more a gallon that U.S. consumers are now paying. With only so much oil to go around, what the pipeline carries affects prices elsewhere. The United States also hopes it will be a model for other development projects that could have a more direct effect on the U.S. market.

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    Whole Foods recalling Beef

    Whole Foods Market is recalling fresh ground beef sold between June 2 through Aug. 6 because the beef might be contaminated with E. coli bacteria.

    The company has received reports that seven people in Massachusetts and two people in Pennsylvania who shopped at Whole Foods Market became ill, said spokeswoman Libba Letton.

    Letton said the company's recalled beef was processed at the Nebraska Beef plant linked to the E. coli outbreak this summer. Federal health authorities say there have been 49 confirmed illnesses tied to that outbreak.

    [...]

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    15 out of 30 federally accredited organic certifiers audited put on "probation"

    [...]
    the USDA just announced Monday it was putting 15 out of 30 federally accredited organic certifiers they audited on probation, allowing them 12 months to make corrections or lose their accreditation. At the heart of the audit for several certifiers were imported foods and ingredients from other countries, including China.

    Chinese imports have had a bad year in the news, making headlines for contaminated pet food, toxic toys, and recently, certified organic ginger contaminated with levels of a pesticide called aldicarb that can cause nausea, headaches and blurred vision even at low levels. The ginger, sold under the 365 label at Whole Foods Market, contained a level of aldicarb not even permissible for conventional ginger, let alone organics. Whole Foods immediately pulled the product from its shelves.

    [...]

    Farms that produce USDA-certified organic food are not personally inspected by anyone from the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). As a small and underfunded agency within the USDA (it has fewer than a dozen employees), NOP relies on what it calls Accredited Certifying Agencies -- ACAs -- to do the legwork. The ACAs take responsibility for ensuring that any farm or processor bearing the organic label meets the strict requirements for certification.

    Since the Chinese government does not allow foreigners to inspect Chinese farms, an extra step is involved for oversight of organics from China: Chinese companies, which are allowed to inspect Chinese farms, subcontract with foreign ACAs. Cummins believes "the safest course of action is ... to say we won't certify imports from China because their law won't allow inspections."

    [...]

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    Thursday, August 07, 2008

    Deadly John Foster Dulles Spider

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    Wednesday, August 06, 2008

    Letter to Congress

    George Bush and his gang of felons should be held accountable for numerous impeachable offenses, crimes against the world and crimes against the American public. Instead each administration felon, including Chimpy himself, goes about conducting business as usual.

    Why is Karl Rove free? He's defied a subpoena. I'd be in jail if I did that.

    How is it abuses of military recruiters continue unchecked by congress? It is an outrage that recruiters are allowed into public high schools to begin with, but there should be criminal prosecution of those who lie, manipulate and coerce vulnerable children into the military.

    Why is Blackwater Mercenary still in operation? If we must have wars, even aggressive, preemptive, illegal, immoral ones like the Iraq occupation for oil debacle, we should have a DRAFT, not mercenaries.

    Why is there no Manhattan project for energy? The oil companies have fractured the economy, already weak from years of privatization, deregulation, Wall Street manipulation, "free Market" ideology, deliberately created bad debt, lowered education standards, outsourcing, book cooking, corporate crime, etc.

    If we can pull ourselves together to deliver a WMD or 2 to Japan, surely we can pull ourselves together to develop a new decentralized, environmentally friendly energy system. Instead we have oil company candidate John McCain being paid to promote off shore drilling, which won't solve our energy problems and will increase our environmental problems.


    Why is congress not pushing and shouting for single payer universal health coverage the public overwhelmingly wants?

    How is it that the telephone companies got away with trampling all over the civil rights of Americans?

    Where is the congressional investigation into Bruce Ivins' suicide? His "therapist" has no credibility. His suspicious death looks like part of a cover up, because it probably is a cover up. The war on terror is as phony as a 3 dollar bill and is little more than a way of organizing people into supporting policies that hurt them. The war is the against the American people, and the people of the world, by corporate interests and their government lackeys.

    How is there any question of whether or not the oil companies will be held accountable for their various criminal activities, including Chevron's disastrous environmental assault in Ecuador.

    I want our troops out of Iraq. I want the privatization of the military to stop. I want single payer universal health care. I want the might of the federal government behind the development of a new, green energy infrastructure.

    I want the FTC to break up the giant media conglomerates that are poisoning the minds of Americans with disinformation and spin and junk. It is inexcusable.

    I want REAL campaign finance reform with PUBLIC financing ONLY.

    I want religion out of politics. I am sick to death of hearing politicians talk about god. It is repulsive, inappropriate and utterly unamerican.

    And I want Bush and his gang of felons investigated and prosecuted when appropriate. One of the biggest mistakes ever made in this country was pardoning felon Richard Nixon. Don't let it happen again!

    I cannot think of a single thing going well in the USA. I'm finally as disgusted with the democrats as I am with the republicans. The fact that the congressional agenda involves itself with steroid use in pro sports and digital TV while the country is driven into the ground by lobbyists, speculation, deregulation, privatization, "free trade", outsourcing and a complete lack of accountability for the lies, war crimes and assaults on the constitution by the criminal Bush administration is an outrage.

    Congress is a criminal gang. I've entirely lost my faith in and loyalty to the democrat party. Living through the onslaught of right wing democrats like Bill Clinton, Obama and skanks like Harold Ford, and democrats who have enabled the criminal Bush administration by simply doing nothing, has made it abundantly clear that the democrats are the party of big business while the republicans are the party of big nazi.

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    Obama's Energy Policy Plan

    Obama’s comprehensive New Energy for America plan will:


    • Provide short‐term relief to American families facing pain at the pump
    • Help create five million new jobs by strategically investing $150 billion over the next ten years to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future.
    • Within 10 years save more oil than we currently import from the Middle East and Venezuela combined.
    • Put 1 million Plug‐In Hybrid cars – cars that can get up to 150 miles per gallon – on the road by 2015, cars that we will work to make sure are built here in America.
    • Ensure 10 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025.
    • Implement an economy‐wide cap‐and‐trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.

    (PDF)Get the details by reading Barack Obama's New Energy for America plan

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    Obama and McCain: Energy Policies. McCain's is Delusional Pro Oil Company gargle

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    PICKENS COMPLIMENTS OBAMA ENERGY PLAN

    “I’m strongly encouraged by Senator Obama’s speech on America’s energy future. Foreign oil is killing our economy and putting our nation at risk," wrote Pickens, a billionaire oil man, who proposes ending America's dependence on oil by promoting renewable enegies like wind power and natural gas. Pickens was one of the principal financiers of the Swift Boat ads against John Kerry. “When I started this campaign my goal was to make this the biggest issue in the coming election and the top priority to be addressed in the first hundred days of the next administration. This issue is clearly moving up in the priority of political debate; Senator Obama’s statement is an indication that is what is indeed happening. I will continue to push this as a priority for the rest of the year.”

    Earlier, in Obama's speech, the Illinois senator said, “We can’t simply pretend, as Sen, McCain does, that we can drill our way out of this problem,” Obama said. “T. Boone Pickens is right. We need a much bolder and much bigger set of solutions.”

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    Chevron's profit hits record high

    [Record oil prices are boosting the bottom lines of big oil companies like Chevron.]
    Chevron Corp. said Friday its second-quarter earnings soared to a new high, but that wasn’t enough to satisfy investors whose expectations have been raised by the oil industry’s recent run of eye-popping profit. The company’s shares tumbled.

    The San Ramon-based company earned $4.35 billion, or $1.97 per share, for the three months ended in June. That represented an 18 percent increase from net income of $3.68 billion, or $1.76 per share, at the same time last year.

    It marks the company’s largest three-month profit in its 127-year history, eclipsing earnings of $4.14 billion registered in last year’s final quarter after energy prices spiked in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

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    Chevron History and Rap Sheet

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    Chevron

    Chairman and CEO David J. (Dave) O'Reilly
    Vice Chairman; Policy, Government and Public Affairs; Human Resources Peter J. Robertson
    EVP Technology, Chemicals MIning and Health, Environment and Safefy

    John E. Bethancourt


    http://www.cibolafarms.com/images/Pigs/pigs-in-feed-04-02-01.jpg

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    Chevron's dumping of wastes into Inlet harms salmon

    [...]
    Cook Inlet remains the only coastal water body in the nation where the oil and gas industry legally dumps billions of gallons of toxic drilling and production wastes each year. These waste streams contain oil and grease, and metals such as lead, cadmium and arsenic -- the very same type of pollutants an EPA subsistence foods study found in fish and shellfish around Tyonek, Nanwalek and Seldovia.

    These toxic pollutants taint our efforts to brand and market Cook Inlet salmon as clean, healthy and wholesome -- an essential component in our fight for market share against a glut of farmed fish on world markets.

    The technology exists to properly dispose of these wastes -- by reinjecting them back into the formation. In fact, for all of the Cook Inlet platforms, roughly 95 percent of the waste dumped each year comes from one facility -- the Trading Bay Production Facility on the West side of Cook Inlet-- and an injection well there would go a long way toward solving the problem.

    Yet in the latest permit proceeding, Chevron steadfastly refused to stop the dumping and proposed instead to install a diffuser on the Trading Bay discharge pipe. Instead of properly treating these toxic wastes through re-injection, Chevron's proposal will simply spread them around. Many of the pollutants persist in the environment and can accumulate in the fish we eat, so dispersing them makes little sense in the long term -- especially since industry also wanted to nearly triple the volume of pollutants discharged into Cook Inlet each year.

    Using our public water bodies and fisheries as dumping grounds equates to a huge subsidy for industry at a time when corporate profits are skyrocketing with high fuel prices. For example, Chevron is the largest operator in Cook Inlet, and it raked in profits of more than $5 billion in just the first three months of 2008, so it's increasingly difficult for them to argue that cost is a substantial hurdle to proper treatment.

    [...]

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    Tuesday, August 05, 2008

    Poland needs to sign a treaty on the deployment of elements of a U.S. missile shield on its territory before the upcoming U.S. presidential elections.

    According to Kaczynski, his country should not take too much risk in advancing terms to the United States about the deployment of the missile shield elements on its territory because failure of these talks would aggravate the situation for Poland.

    In long-running negotiations with the U.S., Warsaw has been pushing Washington to spend billions of dollars improving Poland's air defenses in exchange for allowing the deployment of the interceptor missiles.

    Kaczynski said Poland must sign the missile shield deal with the current U.S. administration, without waiting for the U.S. presidential elections.

    Moscow strongly opposes the possible deployment of the U.S. missile shield, viewing it as a threat to its national security. Russia's Foreign Ministry has said that if U.S. strategic missile defense elements are deployed near Russia's borders, Moscow would be forced to respond with a "military-technical approach" rather than a diplomatic one.

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    Chevron Lobbies White House to Pressure Ecuador to Stop $12 Billion Amazon Pollution Lawsuit

    Chevron is being accused of promoting geopolitical blackmail in its efforts to stave off a lawsuit accusing it of contaminating the Ecuadorian rain forest. Nearly 30,000 Amazon residents are seeking $12 billion from Chevron for dumping billions of gallons of toxic oil waste. According to Newsweek, the oil giant is urging the Bush administration to yank special trade preferences for Ecuador if the country’s government doesn’t force the Amazon residents to drop the case. If the White House agrees, it would be the second major lobbying victory for Chevron in just a matter of weeks. Last month, the Senate dropped an effort to penalize Chevron for maintaining extensive ties to the military junta in Burma.
    [...]

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    Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author: Bush Ordered Back-Dated, Fake Letter Linking Iraq to 9/11

    [...]
    Suskind says he spoke on the record with U.S. intelligence officials who stated that Bush was informed unequivocally in January 2003 that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction. Nonetheless, his book relates, Bush decided to invade Iraq three months later — with the forged letter from the head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam bolstering the U.S. rationale to go into war.
    [...]

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    Doubts about anthrax story

    [...]
    Ivins died last Tuesday after federal investigators had spent a year watching his house near Fort Detrick in Frederick, following him, and interviewing him and his colleagues at the U.S Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. Ivins' lawyer has said the scientist was innocent.

    "I think he's a convenient fall guy. They can say, 'OK, we found him, case closed, we're going home,'" said Dr. Kenneth W. Hedlund, the former chief of bacteriology at Fort Detrick who hired Ivins. "The FBI apparently applied a lot of pressure to all the investigators there [at Detrick], and they found the weakest link."

    The FBI has not yet said how it was able to connect Ivins to the attacks.

    But the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal, relying in part on unnamed sources, reported that investigators employing new technology were able to find a genetic link between the specific anthrax strain recovered from the letters and the bodies of victims and the one found in an office and other "nonlaboratory space" where Ivins worked in 2001.

    The New York Times reported that investigators intensively questioned his children, Andrew and Amanda, now both 24. One former colleague, Dr. W. Russell Byrne, said the agents pressed Ivins' daughter repeatedly to acknowledge that her father was involved in the attacks.

    "It was not an interview," Byrne said. "It was a frank attempt at intimidation."

    Byrne said he believed Ivins was singled out partly because of his personal weaknesses. "If they had real evidence on him, why did they not just arrest him?"

    The Associated Press, quoting unnamed government sources, reported yesterday that Ivins had a lengthy obsession with the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, which has a chapter house near the Princeton, N.J., mailbox from which the anthrax letters were sent. However, the report says the FBI can't place Ivins in Princeton the day the letters were mailed.

    Hedlund said Ivins was a bacteriologist and lacked the expertise to convert the anthrax into the deadly form that was used in the 2001 mailings to government offices and newsrooms.

    Rep. Rush Holt, who represents the central New Jersey district where the anthrax letters were mailed, said circumstantial evidence is not enough, especially after the series of mistakes made in this case. The FBI spent years investigating Steven J. Hatfill, another scientist who worked in the same lab as Ivins. The government recently agreed to pay a $5.82 million settlement to Hatfill.
    [...]

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    John McCain: The Oil Company Candidate

    The oil industry is reporting record profits as consumers empty their wallets at the pump, so why is Senator John McCain (R-AZ) suddenly backing policies like offshore oil drilling that do nothing to help gas prices today (or the environment tomorrow), but stand to make Big Oil a handsome profit down the road? Public Campaign Action Fund's Campaign Money Watch project released a new report today that sheds some light on McCain's energy policy decisions, and what they have to do with the money from the oil industry that has filled his campaign coffers.


    It's not just that McCain is pulling in four-figure checks from oil executives, or that he's been raising even more money from them since changing his position on offshore oil drilling. His campaign is filled with people who've taken handsome paychecks for lobbying on behalf of oil interests. Some high-profile examples:

      • John Green, McCain’s campaign liaison to Congress, has lobbied for Chevron, Hess, and the American Petroleum Institute, among others. This work, which took place between 2002 and 2008, earned Green and his firm $3,450,000. Employees and PACs of his clients have given McCain a total of $106,050 since 1989.


      • Wayne Berman, a leading McCain bundler, has lobbied for Chevron, Amerada Hess, and the American Petroleum Institute, among others. This work, which took place between 2004 and 2008, earned Berman and his firm $3,170,000. Employees and PACs of his clients have given McCain a total of $105,300 since 1989.


      • Steve Phillips, a leading McCain bundler, has lobbied for eight different oil and gas entities, including BP and Occidental Petroleum. This work, which took place between 2000 and 2007, earned Phillips and his firm $3,130,000. Employees and PACs of his clients have given McCain $40,950 since 1989.


      • Charlie Black, a senior McCain advisor, has lobbied for Occidental Petroleum and Yukos Oil. This work, which took place between 2001 and 2007, earned Black and his firm $1,725,000. Employees and PACs of his clients have given McCain $18,550 since 1989.


    And that's only a small chunk of the list. Read the full report (in pdf) here.


    The energy crisis we face requires serious debate, not rash policy reversals that put money in the pockets of the oil industry while ignoring both consequences to the environment and the need to invest more heavily in alternative energy sources. Yet another way special interest money warps policy debate at a critical time.

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    Monday, August 04, 2008

    Biography of a free trading, George Bush Licking, Right Wing Pig Robert Zoellick

    http://blog.estadao.com.br/blog/media/zoellick_01.jpg

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    Murdoch arrived in India July 30 and met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, head of the ruling Congress party, before traveling to M

    A wage-bill imposed by international donor institutions on poor country is complicating the roll-out of an effective antiretroviral treatment plan to reach millions of needy recipients, Médecins Sans Frontière (MSF) has said.

    Experts from the medical charity told the XVII International Aids Conference in Mexico that the wage-bill has blocked efforts by some countries like Rwanda to recruit qualified staff to manage the ART programme.

    An estimated 70 percent of people living with HIV/AIDS who need antiretroviral therapy (ART) are still not receiving it, and MSF says the growing numbers of those who have been started on ART have only increased the burden on existing health care staff.

    [...]

    The main hurdles here, according to MSF, are wage-bill restrictions or salary freezes dictated by the International Monetary Fund, Ministers of Finance, the World Bank, or health-reform strategists that "block employment of extra health staff as well as the use of international funds for salary increases in the public sector".

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    Corporations cheat the system by using tax break to beef up rewards for sociopathic CEOs who Run Corporate Amerikkka

    [...]
    n recent years, companies from Intel Corp. to CenturyTel Inc. collectively have moved hundreds of millions of dollars of obligations for executive benefits into rank-and-file pension plans. This lets companies capture tax breaks intended for pensions of regular workers and use them to pay for executives' supplemental benefits and compensation.

    The practice has drawn scant notice. A close examination by The Wall Street Journal shows how it works and reveals that the maneuver, besides being a dubious use of tax law, risks harming regular workers. It can drain assets from pension plans and make them more likely to fail. Now, with the current bear market in stocks weakening many pension plans, this practice could put more in jeopardy.

    How many is impossible to tell. Neither the Internal Revenue Service nor other agencies track this maneuver. Employers generally reveal little about it. Some benefits consultants have warned them not to, in order to forestall a backlash by regulators and lower-level workers.

    The background: Federal law encourages employers to offer pensions by giving companies a tax deduction when they contribute cash to a pension plan, and by letting the money in the plan grow tax free. Executives, like anyone else, can participate in these plans.

    But their benefits can't be disproportionately large. IRS rules say pension plans must not "discriminate in favor of highly compensated employees." If a company wants to give its executives larger pensions -- as most do -- it must provide "supplemental" executive pensions, which don't carry any tax advantages.

    [...]

    ntel's case shows how lucrative such a move can be. It involves Intel's obligation to pay deferred compensation to executives when they retire or leave. In 2005, the chip maker moved more than $200 million of its deferred-comp IOUs into its pension plan. Then it contributed at least $187 million of cash to the plan.

    Now, when the executives get ready to collect their deferred salaries, Intel won't have to pay them out of cash; the pension plan will pay them.

    Normally, companies can deduct the cost of deferred comp only when they actually pay it, often many years after the obligation is incurred. But Intel's contribution to the pension plan was deductible immediately. Its tax saving: $65 million in the first year. In other words, taxpayers helped finance Intel's executive compensation.

    Meanwhile, the move is enabling Intel to book as much as an extra $136 million of profit over the 10 years that began in 2005. That reflects the investment return Intel assumes on the $187 million.

    Fred Thiele, Intel's global retirement manager, said the benefit was probably somewhat lower, because if Intel hadn't contributed this $187 million to the pension plan, it would have invested the cash or used it in some other productive way.

    [...]

    So how can companies boost regular pension benefits for select executives while still passing the IRS's nondiscrimination tests? Benefits consultants help them figure out how.

    To prove they don't discriminate, companies are supposed to compare what low-paid and high-paid employees receive from the pension plan. They don't have to compare actual individuals; they can compare ratios of the benefits received by groups of highly paid vs. groups of lower-paid employees.

    Such a measure creates the potential for gerrymandering -- carefully moving employees about, in various theoretical groupings, to achieve a desired outcome.

    Another technique: Count Social Security as part of the pension. This effectively raises low-paid employees' overall retirement benefits by a greater percentage than it raises those of the highly paid -- enabling companies to then increase the pensions of higher-paid people.

    [...]

    Generally, only the executives are aware this is being done. Benefits consultants have advised companies to keep quiet to avoid an employee backlash. In material prepared for employers, Robert Schmidt, a consulting actuary with Milliman Inc., said that to "minimize this problem" of employee relations, companies should draw up a memo describing the transfer of supplemental executive benefits to the pension plan and give it "only to employees who are eligible."

    [...]

    Royal & SunAlliance, an insurer, sold a division and laid off its 228 employees in 1999. Just before doing so, it amended the division's pension plan to award larger benefits to eight departing officers and directors. One human-resources executive got an additional $5,270 a month for life.

    But to do this and still pass the IRS's nondiscrimination tests, the company needed to give tiny pension increases to 100 lower-level workers, said the company's benefits consultant, PricewaterhouseCoopers. One got an increase of $1.92 a month.

    [...]

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    Structural Adjustment

    A Spiraling Race to the Bottom

    As detailed further below, the IMF and World Bank provide financial assistance to countries seeking it, but apply a neoliberal economic ideology or agenda as a precondition to receiving the money. For example:

    • They prescribe cutbacks, “liberalization” of the economy and resource extraction/export-oriented open markets as part of their structural adjustment.
    • The role of the state is minimized.
    • Privatization is encouraged as well as reduced protection of domestic industries.
    • Other adjustment policies also include currency devaluation, increased interest rates, “flexibility” of the labor market, and the elimination of subsidies such as food subsidies.
    • To be attractive to foreign investors various regulations and standards are reduced or removed.

    The impact of these preconditions on poorer countries can be devastating. Factors such as the following lead to further misery for the developing nations and keep them dependent on developed nations:

    • Poor countries must export more in order to raise enough money to pay off their debts in a timely manner.
    • Because there are so many nations being asked or forced into the global market place—before they are economically and socially stable and ready—and told to concentrate on similar cash crops and commodities as others, the situation resembles a large-scale price war.
    • Then, the resources from the poorer regions become even cheaper, which favors consumers in the West.
    • Governments then need to increase exports just to keep their currencies stable (which may not be sustainable, either) and earn foreign exchange with which to help pay off debts.
    • Governments therefore must:
      • spend less
      • reduce consumption
      • remove or decrease financial regulations
      • and so on.
    • Over time then:
    • These nations are then told to peg their currencies to the dollar. But keeping the exchange rate stable is costly due to measures such as increased interest rates.
    • Investors obviously concerned about their assets and interests can then pull out very easily if things get tough
      • In the worst cases, capital flight can lead to economic collapse, such as we saw in the Asian/global finacial crises of 1997/98/99, or in Mexico, Brazil, and many other places. During and after a crisis, the mainstream media and free trade economists lay the blame on emerging markets and their governments’ restrictive or inefficient policies, crony capitalism, etc., which is a cruel irony.
    • When IMF donors keep the exchange rates in their favor, it often means that the poor nations remain poor, or get even poorer. Even the 1997/98/99 global financial crisis cam be partly blamed on structural adjustment and early, overly aggressive deregulation for emerging economies.
    • Millions of children end up dying each year.

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    Rupert Murdoch to Begin Escalating the Pumping of Right Wing Propaganda into India

    Murdoch arrived in India July 30 and met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, head of the ruling Congress party, before traveling to Mumbai for meetings with Star Group executives. He is expected to leave later Monday.

    The Star Group, which is owned by News Corp., broadcasts over 60 television services in ten languages to more than 300 million viewers in 53 Asian countries.http://www.foreignpolicy.com/images/070509_murdoch.jpg

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    Republican John Warner Says Jimmy Carter was Right on Energy Policy.

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    Sunday, August 03, 2008

    Congo groups 're-arming' in east

    map

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    Alexander Solzhenitsyn dies at 89

    Alexander Solzhenitsyn (image from 1994)

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    Could Lonesome George Be A Dad?

    George the giant tortoise

    A female tortoise that has accompanied George since 1993 has laid three intact eggs - which George may have fertilized.

    The female belongs to the closest existing species to that of George.

    Ecologists at the Galapagos National Park are now caring for the eggs in an artificial incubator.

    It will be another 120 days before they know if they will hatch.

    Found in 1972 on Pinta island, George is estimated to be in his 70s, middle age for a giant tortoise.

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    OIL DROP BRINGS NO RELIEF TO THE PUMP

    The two claim that owners of the US's 160,000 gas stations are not dropping retail gas prices in line with the drop in oil because they want to fatten their anemic margins.

    "Of course, motorists are getting hosed," says Weeden & Co.'s Charles Maxwell, who's known as the "dean" of energy analysts.

    "The dealers at the pump will often wait several days before passing along the drop in crude prices - and I don't blame them," Maxwell said. "If their competitors aren't going to drop the price, the dealer isn't."

    Pretty soon they won't have a country in which to sell their ice cap melting, green house gassing fossil fuel.

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    Speculation behind global commodity price rise

    There is now a growing discomfort about the role of speculative finance in the US, the capital of global finance. In an open letter addressed to all airline customers, leaders of airlines in the US have recently requested the passengers to join them in pushing legislation to add more transparency and disclosure in the oil markets.

    They argue that "twenty years ago, 21% of oil contracts were purchased by speculators who trade oil on paper with no intention of ever taking delivery. Today, oil speculators purchase 66% of all oil futures contracts, and that reflects just the transactions that are known. Speculators buy up large amounts of oil and then sell it to each other again and again. A barrel of oil may trade 20-plus times before it is delivered and used; the price goes up with each trade and consumers pick up the final tab. Some market experts estimate that current prices reflect as much as $30 to $60 per barrel in unnecessary speculative costs."
    Speculators have indeed sharply increased their allocation to commodity markets from $13 billion in 2003 to $260 billion in 2008 and at present they are not adequately constrained by rules about margin requirements and other regulations about buying and selling which apply to equity trades. In fact, there has been further deregulation in the US in recent years with respect to speculative futures trading in oil and commodity indices covering a wide spectrum of commodities including food and metals.

    Eminent financiers such as George Soros and powerful US senators, such as Joe Lieberman, are arguing that commodity index speculators are a big part of the increase in commodity prices. Michael Masters, a hedge fund manager in his testimony before the US Congress, has said that gasoline prices could fall to $2 a gallon, half of today's price with legislation barring commodity index funds. There are now more than 10 legislative proposals before the US Congress calling for better regulation of commodity index markets.

    At the same time, there are powerful forces in the US against regulation of such transactions. Investment funds managers and investment houses such as Morgan Stanley are benefiting from these speculative activities and they are mobilising public opinion against increased regulations. California's public employees' pension fund, the world's largest, earned a 68% rate of return on its investments in commodity futures and other investors are rushing in commodity markets.

    The vested interests are trying to divert the attention from regulation by arguing that other factors, including growing demand from emerging markets such as China and India, is responsible for commodity price increases. This game of blaming emerging economies in which the President of the US has also joined is patently absurd because the rapid growth in India and China has been going on for more than a decade with no increase in commodity prices even in nominal terms and cannot explain the sharp increase in last two years.


    Other factors such as drought in Australia and switch of corn to biofuels can explain part of the increase in food prices but none of them can explain increases of more than 100% in many commodity prices in a single year as it has happened in 2007 and 2008. There is little doubt that speculative finance is a key factor in sudden price increases in oil, food and metals in the last two years. Amartya Sen in his classical work on famines pointed out that even when supply situation for food is healthy, famines can occur because of collapse of purchasing power of the common man. Today we are witnessing a phenomenon of food riots caused by food price increases due not to demand-supply imbalance but to greed of speculators facilitated by lax regulatory system in the key trading centre of the world.

    [....]

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    How the IMF, World Bank, and America Starves Haiti & Other Countries

    Inside Haiti's Food Riots

    Thirty years ago, Haiti raised nearly all the rice it needed. What happened?

    In 1986, after the expulsion of Haitian dictator Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loaned Haiti $24.6 million in desperately needed funds (Baby Doc had raided the treasury on the way out). But, in order to get the IMF loan, Haiti was required to reduce tariff protections for Haitian rice and other agricultural products and some industries, to open up the country’s markets to competition from outside countries. The US has by far the largest voice in decisions of the IMF.

    Doctor Paul Farmer was in Haiti then and saw what happened. “Within less than two years, it became impossible for Haitian farmers to compete with what they called ‘Miami rice.’ The whole local rice market in Haiti fell apart as cheap, US subsidized rice, some of it in the form of ‘food aid,’ flooded the market. There was violence … ‘rice wars,’ and lives were lost.”

    “American rice invaded the country,” recalled Charles Suffrard, a leading rice grower in Haiti in an interview with the Washington Post in 2000. By 1987 and 1988, there was so much rice coming into the country that many stopped working the land.

    The Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste, a Haitian priest who has been the pastor at St. Claire and an outspoken human rights advocate, agrees. “In the 1980s, imported rice poured into Haiti, below the cost of what our farmers could produce it. Farmers lost their businesses. People from the countryside started losing their jobs and moving to the cities. After a few years of cheap imported rice, local production went way down.”

    Still, the international business community was not satisfied. In 1994, as a condition for US assistance in returning to Haiti to resume his elected presidency, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was forced by the US, the IMF and the World Bank to open up the markets in Haiti even more.

    But Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere; what reason could the US have for destroying the rice market of this tiny country?

    Haiti is definitely poor. The US Agency for International Development reports the annual per capita income is less than $400. The United Nations reports life expectancy in Haiti is 59, while in the US it is 78. Over 78 percent of Haitians live on less than $2 a day, more than half live on less than $1 a day.

    Yet, Haiti has become one of the top importers of rice from the United States. The US Department of Agriculture 2008 numbers show Haiti is the third-largest importer of US rice - at over 240,000 metric tons of rice. (One metric ton is 2,200 pounds).

    Rice is a heavily subsidized business in the US. Rice subsidies in the US totaled $11 billion from 1995 to 2006. One producer alone, Riceland Foods of Stuttgart, Arkansas, received over $500 million in rice subsidies between 1995 and 2006.

    The Cato Institute recently reported that rice is one of the most heavily supported commodities in the US - with three different subsidies together averaging over $1 billion a year since 1998 and projected to average over $700 million a year through 2015. The result? “Tens of millions of rice farmers in poor countries find it hard to lift their families out of poverty because of the lower, more volatile prices caused by the interventionist policies of other countries.”

    In addition to three different subsidies for rice farmers in the US, there are also direct tariff barriers of three to 24 percent, reports Daniel Griswold of the Cato Institute - the exact same type of protections, though much higher, that the US and the IMF required Haiti to eliminate in the 1980s and 1990s.

    US protection for rice farmers goes even further. A 2006 story in The Washington Post found that the federal government has paid at least $1.3 billion in subsidies for rice and other crops since 2000 to individuals who do no farming at all; including $490,000 to a Houston surgeon who owned land near Houston that once grew rice.

    And it is not only the Haitian rice farmers who have been hurt.

    Paul Farmer saw it happen to the sugar growers as well. “Haiti, once the world’s largest exporter of sugar and other tropical produce to Europe, began importing even sugar - from US-controlled sugar production in the Dominican Republic and Florida. It was terrible to see Haitian farmers put out of work. All this speeded up the downward spiral that led to this month’s food riots.”

    After the riots and protests, President Rene Preval of Haiti agreed to reduce the price of rice, which was selling for $51 for a 110-pound bag, to $43 dollars for the next month. No one thinks a one-month fix will do anything but delay the severe hunger pains a few weeks.

    Haiti is far from alone in this crisis. The Economist reports a billion people worldwide live on $1 a day. The US-backed Voice of America reports about 850 million people were suffering from hunger worldwide before the latest round of price increases.

    Thirty-three countries are at risk of social upheaval because of rising food prices, World Bank President Robert Zoellick told The Wall Street Journal. When countries have many people who spend half to three-quarters of their daily income on food, “there is no margin of survival.”

    In the US, people are feeling the worldwide problems at the gas pump and in the grocery. Middle-class people may cut back on extra trips or on high price cuts of meat. The number of people on food stamps in the US is at an all-time high. But in poor countries, where malnutrition and hunger were widespread before the rise in prices, there is nothing to cut back on except eating. That leads to hunger riots.

    [...]

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    In pictures: Fighting hunger in Haiti

    Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere - more than half its inhabitants survive on less than $1 per day.

    Every year, an estimated 38,000 children under the age of five die - almost one out of three because of malnutrition.

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    U.S. / Bush Administration deposed Aristide in 'coup d'etat'

    [...]

    Aristide also said "that he was kidnapped, that he resigned under pressure, that he had not negotiated with these countries or with the United States," Rangel told CNN. "As a matter of fact, he was very apprehensive for his life."

    "The way I see it is they came to his house, uninvited," Waters said. "They had not only the force of the embassy but the Marines with them. They made it clear that he had to go now or he would be killed."

    "It was very clear to him ... that the Americans had been responsible for helping to carry out the coup d'etat," she said.

    Waters said she "tends to doubt the State Department" because she has "been lied to over and over again."

    "Why are these so-called rebels who are really criminals and thugs riding up and down the streets of Port-au-Prince in their old military dress," she asked. "I have a lot of questions of my own government at this point. President Aristide said it was a coup."

    Waters accused Undersecretary of State for Latin America Roger Noriega -- whom she called "a Haiti hater" -- of being behind the troubles there.

    Noriega was a senior aide to former Sen. Jesse Helms, R-North Carolina, who as chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee was a backer of longtime Haitian dictator Jean Claude Duvalier and an opponent of Aristide.

    Duvalier became Haiti's "president for life" at age 19 after the death of his father, but was forced out because of economic and political instability in 1986. The new rebels, Waters said, "are all old Duvalier people."

    [...]

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    Pierre-Louis is new Haiti PM

    Michèle Pierre-Louis, ratified Thursday as Haiti's Prime Minister

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    Surgeons give German man two new arms

    Reiner Gradinger, medical director at the Munich University Clinic, said doctors spent 15 hours on July 25-26 grafting the arms onto the body of a 54-year-old man who lost his just below the shoulder in the accident six years ago.

    "The reattachment appears up to now to have proceeded optimally," Gradinger said, adding the patient is recovering well.

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    Bush Brings Democracy to Iraq: Filthy Iraqi drinking water raises cholera fears. Time to PRIVATIZE!

    [...]

    Many residents only have to sniff the tap water to know something is not right.

    "I fear giving it to my children directly unless I boil it," said Enam Mohammed Ali, a 36-year-old mother of four in the New Baghdad district in the eastern part of the city.

    The water crisis began as a symptom of the problems that plagued reconstruction efforts in the early years of the war. Extremists attacked infrastructure projects, including electricity stations and sewage plants, to undermine support for the U.S. and its Iraqi allies. Law and order broke down, with looters stealing pipes, power lines and other equipment.

    [...]

    Two-thirds of the raw sewage produced in the capital flows untreated into rivers and waterways, Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, said in his quarterly report released Wednesday.

    U.S. and Iraqi officials insist that the tap water in most of Baghdad is of at least fairly good quality because it comes from less polluted areas north of the city. In fact, more Iraqis nationwide have access to potable water now than before the war — 20 million people compared with 12.9 million previously, according to Bowen's report.

    But some Baghdad neighborhoods, notably New Baghdad and Baladiyat, are not so lucky.

    There, the Tigris is so filthy with sewage and other pollutants that the local treatment facility can only do so much. To make matters worse, sewage then leaks into the potable water pipes. On Friday, the U.S. military announced the opening of a water distribution site to prevent the mixing of sewage and drinking water in New Baghdad and Baladiyat.

    It comes none too soon.

    A cholera outbreak in northern Iraq last year killed 14 people. A similar outbreak of the waterborne disease in Baghdad — home to about 6 million people — could be far worse.

    "Iraq is on the cusp of a serious water crisis that requires immediate attention and resources," said Thomas Naff, a Middle East water expert at the University of Pennsylvania.

    The World Bank has estimated that it would take $14.4 billion to rebuild the Iraqi public works and water system.

    A U.S. Embassy official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to talk to the media, said the actual need is higher. The United States has allocated $2.7 billion for water projects in Iraq, but the official said the money is running out.

    [...]

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    Saturday, August 02, 2008

    Schwarzenegger ordered layoffs, heavy pay cuts

    [...]
    State Controller John Chiang, who is responsible for disbursing paychecks, sent a letter to the governor on Thursday reiterating his position that he would disregard Schwarzenegger's order to cut workers' pay.
    [...]

    The governor's executive order also includes a hiring freeze, no overtime pay and releasing contract consultants. Those moves plus the layoffs would net between $80 million to $100 million in savings in August, said Department of Finance Director Mike Genest.

    On Thursday, Schwarzenegger said he intends to "get a budget within the next few days."

    That's why the governor's order doesn't make sense, said Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Baldwin Vista (Los Angeles County), who added that she thinks a compromise on the budget can be reached in the next two weeks.

    "I believe we will have a budget before Aug. 31, (the pay cuts) will never be executed, and I don't believe this action was necessary," she said. The governor "is under pressure and we are all under pressure. That's why I don't understand why this distraction is needed."


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    Bank Failures: The RIght Wing Economy in Action

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    America's $53 trillion jumbo loan

    Americans are now tasting the sour fruits of unaffordable mortgages: foreclosure, bankruptcy, falling markets. The nation, too, is staring at overwhelming debt, made worse by this week's forecast of a whopper federal deficit. Washington mustn't let this burden rise, for the sake of global financial markets and future US generations.

    It's true that the $482 billion deficit chasm estimated for fiscal year 2009 doesn't look so deep when taken as a percentage of the overall economy – 3.3 percent of gross domestic product compared to the 1983 nadir of about 6 percent.

    [...]

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    McCain Encourgae obama to join in Republican party efforts to destroy public school systems

    McCain repeated his claim that "the best equal opportunity employer in the country is the U.S. military." However, an Associated Press study found that while blacks make up about 17 percent of the total force, just 9 percent of officers are black.

    McCain, in response to a question, said affirmative action was "in the eye of the beholder." He did not mention that he supports an anti-affirmative action referendum on the ballot in Arizona.

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    White House Briefed On Potential For Mars Life

    image

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    KBR, connected to Dick Cheney, Guilty in Deaths of Soldiers or Why Do Republicans Hate Our Troops?

    Witnesses said the additional documents received by the committee show KBR was informed on several occasions about widespread electrical hazards prior to Maseth's death.

    Maseth, an Army Ranger and Green Beret, was killed while taking a shower in his living quarters in the Radwaniyah Palace Complex in Baghdad. An Army investigation revealed his shower's water pump overheated, causing an electrical failure that allowed a current to flow directly from the water pump through metal pipes and into his body

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    Comcast Guilty of Internet Consumer Fraud

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    China launches high-speed train

    A new high-speed train waits at Beijing South station on 1 August 2008

    Trains will reach speeds of 350 km/h, cutting journey times between the cities from 70 to 30 minutes.

    The railway is part of the new infrastructure that China has put in place for the Games.

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