Sunday, January 21, 2007

Friday Night Films

Friday night was movie night. We went out with friends to see Pan's Labyrinth and followed it up with a reprise viewing of the 1972 film, The Ruling Class with Peter O' Toole. While separated by 35 years, I found the two films had much in common, they both dealt with evil as an accepted social norm.

I was wondering if The Ruling Class would hold up over the years, because I've often thought of it as one my favorite all time films. And while it is a bit stagy, being based upon a British play by the same name, it held up rather well for me. There was a bit of a drag here and there, but the transformation of Jack, the 14th earl of Gurney, from addled flower child/Christ figure into something more socially acceptable (and madder than the first Gurney version) was still worth experiencing. It speaks to our times.

Pan's Labyrinth, a fantasy inspired Spanish film, is definitely not suitable for children. Some scenes were too difficult for me to look at. Set in fascist Spain after the Spanish Civil War and before the end of WWII, it deals with a brief period in the lives of the family of a Captain Vidal, a sadistic man assigned to command an outpost to defend against guerilla activities.

What struck me about viewing the two films back to back is that Jack Gurney, the socially reformed and respected Jack Gurney, and Captain Vidal shared much in common. They were both mad, cruel products of their environments. And both had similar adversaries, the majority of the people in their respective countries with the demonizing identifier being Reds, socialists, commies, Bolsheviks. The people, in both films, had to be controlled by fear and punishment.

My bible on the subject of evil, The Heart of Man by Erich Fromm, has a related passage where Fromm cites a Spanish philosopher Unamuno, who confronts a Spanish fascist, General Millan Astray, at a university in 1936. Apparently, the General's favorite motto was "Viva la muerte." Having expressed his motto in a speech, a student, in support, repeated it loudly from the back of the hall. Unamuno responded, "' . . . Just now I heard a necrophilous and senseless cry: 'Long live death!' And I, who have spent my life shaping paradoxes which have aroused the uncomprehending anger of others, I must tell you, as an expert authority, that this outlandish paradox is repellant to me. General Millan Astray is a cripple. Let it be said without a slighting undertone. He is a war invalid. So was Cervantes. Unfortunately, there are too many cripples in Spain just now. And soon there will be even more of them if God doesn't come to our aid. It pains me to think that General Millan Astray should dictate the pattern of mass psychology. A cripple who lacks the spiritual greatness of a Cervantes is wont to seek ominous relief in causing mutilation around him.' At this Millan Astray was unable to restrain himself any longer. 'Abajo la inteligencia!' (Down with intelligence!) he shouted. 'Long live death!' There was a clamor of support for this remark from the Falangists. But Unamuno went on: 'This is the temple of the intellect. And I am its high priest. It is you who profane its sacred precincts. You will win, because you have more than enough brute force. But you will not convince. For to convince you need to persuade. And in order to persuade you will need what you lack: Reason and Right in the struggle. I consider it futile to exhort you to think of Spain. I have done.'"

You might ask what happened to Unamuno. In a footnote, Fromm says, "Unamuno remained under house arrest until his death a few months later." Spain apparently had no Gitmo at the time or rendition agreements with other countries.

Picks of the Week:

House Democrats beat 100-hour clock

"From noon, Jan. 4, when the 110th Congress opened, the House had been in session 87 hours when, shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday, it passed the last of the 'Six for '06' bills that Democrats promised to deliver within 100 hours of assuming power."

US Congressional leader shaking up House fiefdom to draft global warming proposal

"Putting power in the hands of members who are more active on environmental problems, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is creating a special committee to recommend legislation to cut greenhouse gases. It probably will be chaired by Democratic Rep. Edward Markey, an aide to party House leaders said Wednesday."

Bills on climate move to spotlight in new Congress

"Legislation to control global warming that once had a passionate but quixotic ring to it is now serious business. Congressional Democrats are increasingly determined to wrest control of the issue from the White House and impose the mandatory controls on carbon dioxide emissions that most smokestack industries have long opposed."

Climate resets 'Doomsday Clock'

"Experts assessing the dangers posed to civilisation have added climate change to the prospect of nuclear annihilation as the greatest threats to humankind." . . . .

"Not since the darkest days of the Cold War has the Bulletin, which covers global security issues, felt the need to place the minute hand so close to midnight."

Bush to address global warming in annual speech

"President Bush will outline a policy on global warming next week in his State of the Union speech but has not dropped his opposition to mandatory limits on greenhouse-gas emissions, the White House said on Tuesday.

"'It's not accurate. It's wrong,' White House spokesman Tony Snow said regarding media reports suggesting that Bush would agree to mandatory emissions caps in an effort to combat global warming. Such caps could require energy conservation and pollution curbs."

The Moron to the rest of creation, "Go f**k yourself!"

Cutbacks impede climate studies

"The two-year study by the National Academy of Sciences, released yesterday, determined that NASA's earth science budget has declined 30 percent since 2000. It stands to fall further as funding shifts to plans for a manned mission to the moon and Mars. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, meanwhile, has experienced enormous cost overruns and schedule delays with its premier weather and climate mission."

National sanctity of human life day, 2007

"NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Sunday, January 21, 2007, as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. I call upon all Americans to recognize this day with appropriate ceremonies and to underscore our commitment to respecting and protecting the life and dignity of every human being."

The Evil Moron is likely unaware of the myriad disconnects this represents.

Al Gore says US states may force change in climate policy

''Even though the national policy in the U.S. has not yet changed, many state governments have now embraced the goals of the Kyoto Protocol,' Gore said at a speech to Japanese business leaders in Tokyo today. 'One remaining step to change U.S. policy, and in the process, change the posture of the world, is solidifying this change in the U.S. business community.'''

War of shadows

"The plan to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq will be accompanied by a subtle, but disastrous, change in the way the war is fought—a change that will almost assuredly increase the monthly tallies of American dead and wounded. The president warned that 'deadly acts of violence will continue, and we must expect more Iraqi and American casualties.' In his version of the war, these losses will allow us to climb from the sinkhole we have dug for ourselves to the sunlight of victory. Unfortunately, for Iraqis and for us, what the president proposes is a mistake of catastrophic proportions. It defies basic counterinsurgency doctrine and will leave American troops more vulnerable, more exposed and in greater danger in this war of shadows."

On Tuesday, C-Span carried a presentation by George McGovern and William Polk, discussing their book, Out of Iraq. Their views match those of this author, Chris Hedges.

An impartial interrogation of George W. Bush by George McGovern

"Mr. President, Sir, when reporter Bob Woodward asked you if you had consulted with your father before ordering our army into Iraq you said, 'No, he's not the father you call on a decision like this. I talked to my heavenly Father above.' My question, Mr. President: If God asked you to bombard, invade and occupy Iraq for four years, why did he send an opposite message to the Pope? Did you not know that your father, George Bush, Sr., his Secretary of State James Baker and his National Security Advisor General Scowcroft were all opposed to your invasion? Wouldn't you, our troops, the American people and the Iraqis all be much better off if you had listened to your more experienced elders including your earthly father? Instead of blaming God for the awful catastrophe you have unleashed in Iraq, wouldn't it have been less self-righteous if you had fallen back on the oft-quoted explanation of wrongdoing, 'The devil made me do it?'"

Framing death, and democracy by George Lakoff

"The first duty of Congress is to be Congress, to provide a check on the executive through the power to hold hearings, write legislation, and tighten the purse strings. The central issue raised by the president's speech last Wednesday is not whether Iraq will have a democracy, but whether we will.".

Iraq: Disease alert after sewage system collapses

'As the sewage system has collapsed, all residents are threatened with gastroenteritis, typhoid fever, cholera, diarrhoea and hepatitis. In some of Baghdad's poor neighbourhoods, people drink water which is mixed with sewage,' Ali said.

"He added that the health ministry was prepared for an initial outbreak of diseases, but expressed concern that unless the municipality could deal with the sewage problem quickly and effectively, health problems would inevitably escalate."

Let's see, Halliburton, et al, were charged with rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure and profited greatly for their failure to do so. Now, The Moron says that billions (taxpayer dollars) will now be set aside to do what was supposed to be done. Wouldn't it seem reasonable for the errant contractors to complete what they've been paid for , or return the money to the US treasury? Of course, Iraqis should apologize to Bush for being ungrateful.

The battle to save Iraq's children

"Doctors issue plea to Tony Blair to end the scandal of medical shortages in the war zone."

Here's a modest proposal, stop the war that's harming and killing Iraq's children.

Those ingrate Iraqis

"Anyway, that's not all we've done for Iraq. We also introduced the Iraqis to basic principles of energy conservation. Before the U.S. invasion, the feckless residents of Baghdad used 16 to 24 hours of electricity each day. Today, thanks to us, they thriftily make do with about six hours of electricity a day. Under our tutelage, the Iraqis are also conserving fossil fuels: Oil production is still well below prewar levels! And — recognizing that auto emissions are a major contributor to global warming — a symbolically important number of Iraqis has gone from driving their cars to detonating their cars. Now that's dedication."

William Polk, a direct descendent of James Polk and co-author of Out of Iraq with George MvGovern, said on Tuesday that he once lived in Baghdad and found the people the kindest he had ever met. Now, however, because of the war, he said he's likely be killed if he were to try to live there.

The irrelevance of military victory

"Astonishingly, American taxpayers now will be forced to finance a multi-billion-dollar jobs program in Iraq. Suddenly the war is about jobs! We export our manufacturing jobs to Asia, and now we plan to export our welfare jobs to Iraq – all at the expense of the poor and middle class here at home."

You owe us, Bush says

"In amongst admitting that maybe they’d made a few mistakes in Iraq, President Bush also dropped this assessment of his country’s efforts in Iraq: '(The) Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude.'

"Mmmmm. CNN Correspondent Arwa Damon probably wasn’t aware of Mr Bush’s comment when she posted this story on the CNN blog In the Field: 'Baghdad is dying, we are all just waiting in line.' Khaled—not his real name to protect his life—one of our Iraqi employees, said the words softy, his eyes glossing over."

Iraq edges closer to Iran, with or without the US

"Iraq's foreign minister, responding to a U.S. raid on an Iranian office in Irbil in northern Iraq last week, said Monday that the government intended to transform similar Iranian agencies into consulates. The minister, Hoshyar Zebari, also said the government planned to negotiate more border entry points with Iran."

Iran gets army gear in Pentagon sale

"The U.S. military has sold forbidden equipment at least a half-dozen times to middlemen for countries - including Iran and China - who exploited security flaws in the Defense Department's surplus auctions. The sales include fighter jet parts and missile components."

Meanwhile, TSA rednecks are giddy watching x-rays of harassed airline travelers made nude. Homeland Security! It is to laugh.

Russian missiles delivered to Iran: Ivanov

"Russia has delivered new anti-aircraft missile systems to Iran and will consider further requests by Tehran for defensive weapons, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said on Tuesday."

Russian admiral says US Navy prepares missile strike on Iran

"U.S. Navy nuclear submarines maintaining vigil off the coast of Iran indicate that the Pentagon’s military plans include not only control over navigation in the Persian Gulf but also strikes against Iranian targets, a former commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Eduard Baltin has told the Interfax news agency."

Presidential; candidate fears "Gulf of Tonkin" to provoke Iran war

"Republican Congressman and 2008 Presidential candidate Ron Paul fears a staged Gulf of Tonkin style incident may be used to provoke air strikes on Iran as numerous factors collide to heighten expectations that America may soon be embroiled in its third war in six years."

Neocons blocked 2003 nuclear talks with Iran

"The George W. Bush administration failed to enter into negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program in May 2003 because neoconservative zealots who advocated destabilization and regime change were able to block any serious diplomatic engagement with Tehran, according to former administration officials."

Simplify, then exaggerate: the neo-cons' route to disaster

"President George W. Bush's decision to send more troops to Iraq demonstrates the remarkable durability of neo-conservative foreign policy. Just a couple of months ago, the neo-cons were being written off. The Baker-Hamilton report on Iraq was advertised as signalling the triumphant return of the 'grown-ups' and the 'reality-based community'. But the president chose to ignore Baker-Hamilton, reportedly dismissing the document as a 'flaming turd'.

"Instead he turned for succour and advice to his old neo-con allies. The 'surge' idea was developed and promoted at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think-tank that has long served as neo-con central. The neo-cons, like President Bush, are getting another throw of the dice in Iraq."

As Bush's war strategy shifts to Iran, Christian Zionists gear up for the apocalypse

"As George W. Bush sets his sights on Iran, even Republicans are wondering how to constitutionally contain the trigger-happy king. But for an influential group of Christian fundamentalists -- White House allies that garner not only feel-good meetings with the President's liaisons to the 'faith-based' community but also serious discussions with Bush's national security staff -- an attack on Iran is just what God ordered."

Busywork for nuclear scientists

"The Bush administration is eager to start work on a new nuclear warhead with all sorts of admirable qualities: sturdy, reliable and secure from terrorists. To sweeten the deal, officials say that if they can replace the current arsenal with Reliable Replacement Warheads (what could sound more comforting?), they probably won’t have to keep so many extra warheads to hedge against technical failure. If you’re still not sold, the warhead comes with something of a guarantee — that scientists can build the new bombs without ever testing them.

"Let the buyer beware. While the program has gotten very little attention here, it is a public-relations disaster in the making overseas. Suspicions that the United States is actually trying to build up its nuclear capabilities are undercutting Washington’s arguments for restraining the nuclear appetites of Iran and North Korea."

The second looting of New Orleans

"Research backs up the anecdotal reports. A January 2006 article in The Chronicle of Philanthropy argued that the amount given to post-Katrina New Orleans was 'small-potato giving for America's foundations, which collectively have $500-billion in assets.' The article also asserted, 'just as deplorable as the small sums poured into the region are the choices foundations have made about where the money should go.' In other words, very little of the money had gone to organizations directed by or accountable to New Orleanians. One prominent New Orleans-born advocate and lobbyist called this phenomenon the 'Halliburtization of the nonprofit sector.'"

Iraq, New Orleans, it's all the same ot the Bush Crime Family . . . looting opportunities.

Giving away the store

"Bush administration officials are ignoring the law and giving away tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to oil companies that are already swimming in cash. When oil companies drill on federal land and in coastal waters, they owe royalties to the federal government. The payments are the country's second-largest source of income, right behind taxes. However, the New York Times reports, "An eight-month investigation by the Interior Department’s chief watchdog has found pervasive problems in the government’s program for ensuring that companies pay the royalties they owe on billions of dollars of oil and gas pumped on federal land and in coastal waters." According to the report, 'the agency’s data are often inaccurate, that its officials rely too heavily on statements by oil companies rather than actual records and that only about 9 percent of all oil and gas leases are being reviewed.' As a result, billions of dollars that could be invested in the development of clean, renewable forms of energy are instead being used to subsidize outrageous compensation packages for oil company executives. Interior Department Inspector General Earl Devaney told Congress 'Simply stated, short of a crime, anything goes at the highest levels of the Department of the Interior.' Join the effort to get the Bush administration to stop giving away your money."

But wait, there's more! On Monday, Randi Rhodes said that the purpose of permanent US troops in Iraq is to secure and protect the oil for the oil companies. Big oil will make the big bucks and US taxpayers will pay for their ability to do so. Life is very good for BushCo and hard cheese for the rest of us.

Big change, not big oil

"The disastrous effects of the energy policy written for Big Oil by Big Oil came home to roost last year. While American families had to cope with skyrocketing energy costs, oil companies raked in record profits—due in no small measure to the generous giveaways engineered by the president and his friends in Congress. The first step toward an energy policy need and deserve is to roll back these billions of dollars in unnecessary subsidies for outdated energy industries, and to redirect the money to programs that benefit American jobs and families, help end our dangerous oil dependence and put us on the path toward real energy security. Fortunately, on Thursday the new Congress is poised to take just such an action."

US comptroller says US taxes would have to double to pay for Bush budget in 2040

"'The picture I will lay out for you today is not a pretty one and it’s getting worse with the passage of time,' said David M. Walker, Comptroller General of the United States, in a Thursday morning hearing of the Senate's Budget Committee. 'Continuing on our current fiscal path would gradually erode, if not suddenly damage, our economy, our standard of living, and ultimately even our domestic tranquility and our national security,' he warned."

Is energo-fascism in your future? (Scroll down)

"Unlike Islamo-fascism, Energo-fascism will, in time, affect nearly every person on the planet. Either we will be compelled to participate in or finance foreign wars to secure vital supplies of energy, such as the current conflict in Iraq; or we will be at the mercy of those who control the energy spigot, like the customers of the Russian energy juggernaut Gazprom in Ukraine, Belarus, and Georgia; or sooner or later we may find ourselves under constant state surveillance, lest we consume more than our allotted share of fuel or engage in illicit energy transactions. This is not simply some future dystopian nightmare, but a potentially all-encompassing reality whose basic features, largely unnoticed, are developing today."

VP tells America to expect 40 years of war

"In what may qualify as the most depressing sound bite to ever come out the White House, Dick Cheney is bracing the nation for a conflict that may span generations. 'It (Iraq) is the kind of conflict that's going to drive our policy and our government for the next 20 or 30 or 40 years. We have to prevail and we have to have the stomach for the fight long term,' he said on a Jan.14 FOX NEWS interview. One has to wonder if Cheney's view has anything to do with his $33 million "golden parachute" retirement plan from Halliburton — a company making billions on the war -which he is set to receive yearly in up to $1 million installments. What is most intriguing about this entire story is the fact that Cheney never served in the armed forces himself. He is on record as saying that he was generally supportive of the Vietnam War and opposed to the demonstrators. But this didn't lead him to volunteer; instead he latched onto student deferments which allowed him to coast his way through the war. All Cheney has said is, 'As did most other Americans, I watched the war (Vietnam) from afar.'"

Iraqis will never accept this sellout to the oil corporations: The US-controlled Iraqi government is preparing to remove the country's most precious resource from national control

"The US, the IMF and their allies are using fear to pursue their agenda of privatising and selling off Iraq's oil resources. The effect of this law will be to marginalise Iraq's oil industry and undermine the nationalisation measures undertaken between 1972 and 1975. It is designed as a reversal of Law Number 80 of December 1961 that recovered most of Iraq's oil from a foreign cartel. Iraq paid dearly for that courageous move: the then prime minister, General Qasim, was murdered 13 months later in a Ba'athist-led coup that was supported by many of those who are part of the current ruling alliance - the US included. Nevertheless, the national oil policy was not reversed then, and its reversal under US occupation will never be accepted by Iraqis."

House rolls back oil company sunsidies

"The House rolled back billions of dollars in oil industry subsidies Thursday in what supporters hailed as a new direction in energy policy toward more renewable fuels. Critics said the action would reduce domestic oil production and increase reliance on imports."
When will this nightmare end?

"Brzezinski is right; Bush’s plan is just a gimmick that has no chance of succeeding and is likely to make matters worse. 17,500 soldiers aren’t enough to "clear and secure entire neighborhoods" as Bush suggests. The only purpose they might serve is to conduct massive sweeps through Sunni neighborhoods terrorizing the local people and displacing larger segments of the population. "That appears to be the real objective of Bush’s 'Choosing Victory' strategy; another major crackdown employing air and ground forces to ethnically cleanse the main Sunnis neighborhoods. The promise of 'security' is just a diversion."

End Iraq war, service members tell Congress

"The letter contains just three sentences: 'As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq. Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.'”

White House propaganda campaign: Bush, Cheney smear opponents of US war in Iraq

"As they reiterated their plans for expanding the war, Bush and Cheney expressed the outlook—a hallmark of dictatorship, not democracy—that the government has the right to defy the expressed will of the people on the most serious of political issues, a war in which thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have already died."

McClatchy report: Are Americans getting truth on Iraq? [Short analysis: Are The Moron's and The Dick's lips moving?]

"President Bush and his aides, explaining their reasons for sending more American troops to Iraq, are offering an incomplete, oversimplified and possibly untrue version of events there that raises new questions about the accuracy of the administration's statements about Iraq."

"The fastest-growing humanitarian crisis in the world": Iraq's refugee nightmare

"All told, nearly 4 million people out of a prewar population of 26 million have become either refugees or internally displaced. Almost one out of every six Iraqis has fled their homes since the US invaded in 2003. 'The current exodus,' according to the UNHCR, 'is the largest long-term population movement since the displacement of the Palestinians following the creation of Israel in 1948.'"

Give us guns - and troops can go, says Iraqi leader

"America’s refusal to give Baghdad’s security forces sufficient guns and equipment has cost a great number of lives, the Iraqi Prime Minister said yesterday.

"Nouri al-Maliki said the insurgency had been bloodier and prolonged because Washington had refused to part with equipment. If it released the necessary arms, US forces could 'dramatically' cut their numbers in three to six months, he told The Times."

200,000 AK47s bound for Iraq go missing (Last year)

"SOME 200,000 guns the US sent to Iraqi security forces may have been smuggled to terrorists, it was feared yesterday."The 99-tonne cache of AK47s was to have been secretly flown out from a US base in Bosnia. But the four planeloads of arms have vanished."

You may remember this story. Someone in BushCo made about $1.6M on this deal . . . pocket change.

Pyongyang: 'CIA is printing supernotes; America blaming us'

"Pyongyang: A recent report suggesting that the United States is a center for the global counterfeiting problem has sparked a great furor. Based on the results of a multi-year study by counterfeit note experts in Europe and Asia and the testimony of people familiar with printing press manufacturers, the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung reports that the CIA is responsible for issuing counterfeit notes produced in a secret facility in the suburbs of Washington D.C. The newspaper asserts that North Korea is incapable of counterfeiting the so-called "Supernotes," and that the production of these notes - which the U.S. holds the DPRK responsible for - may well have been issued in massive quantities, by a U.S. intelligence agency to fund its clandestine operations."

Well, given the lack of veracity in the alphabet soup agencies in general and BushCo in particular, this could be accurate. The CIA is known as part of the shadow government, and governments print money.

Secret court to govern wiretapping plan

"In a letter to the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said this authority has been given to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and that it already has approved one request for monitoring the communications of a person believed to be linked to al-Qaida or an associated terror group."

Last year, The Moron was saying that FISA was so 1970s.

Bush administration gets secret court's sanction for spying operation

"The legal maneuver was revealed in a letter sent Wednesday by US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The letter announced that the Justice Department had obtained from a single unnamed judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) orders allowing the continuation of the government’s domestic spying operation."

Olbermann hinted Thursday there may be more to this than meets the eye.

Bush retreats on use of executive power

"Under pressure from Congress and the courts, Bush in the past six months has closed secret overseas CIA prisons, transferred previously unidentified detainees to regular military custody, negotiated congressional approval for tribunals to try foreign terrorism suspects and accepted at least some regulation of how harshly such prisoners could be interrogated."

Protesters found in database: ACLU Is Questioning Entries in Defense Dept. System

"A Defense Department database devoted to gathering information on potential threats to military facilities and personnel, known as Talon, had 13,000 entries as of a year ago -- including 2,821 reports involving American citizens, according to an internal Pentagon memo to be released today by the American Civil Liberties Union.

"The Pentagon memo says an examination of the system led to the deletion of 1,131 reports involving Americans, 186 of which dealt with 'anti-military protests or demonstrations in the U.S.'"

Civilian contractors in Iraq placed under US military law

"If the Defense Department chooses to pursue a case, civilian government employees, non-US citizens and even embedded journalists could now be brought before a military court. 'One could imagine a situation in which a commander is unhappy with what a reporter is writing and could use the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) to pressure the reporter,' Phillip E. Carter, a lawyer who specializes in government contract cases, told the Washington Post."

Pentagon sets rules for detainee trials

"The Pentagon set rules Thursday for detainee trials that could allow terror suspects to be convicted and perhaps executed using hearsay testimony and coerced statements, setting up a new clash betweenPresident Bush and Congress."

Help US close Guantanamo, say MPs

"MPs [Members of Parliament] who have visited Guantanamo Bay have called on Britain and the international community to do more to help the US close the camp."

Gonzales questions habeus corpus

"In one of the most chilling public statements ever made by a U.S. Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales questioned whether the U.S. Constitution grants habeas corpus rights of a fair trial to every American."

Scooter Libby's time-travel trial

"In that sense, the trial could be a kind of time machine for transporting America back to that earlier era of not so long ago when Bush and his team felt they controlled reality itself and were justified in tricking the American people into bloody adventures overseas.

"It was a time when President Bush swaggered across the political landscape, a modern-day king fawned over by courtiers in the government and the press – and protected by legions of followers who bullied citizens who dared to dissent.

"Libby may be going on trial for five felony counts of lying and obstructing justice, but the essence of his criminal behavior was his work as a top enforcer responsible for intimidating Americans who wouldn’t stay in line behind the infallible Bush."

Justice Dept. names new prosecutors, forcing some out

"The Justice Department is removing several United States attorneys from their jobs, among them Carol C. Lam, the top federal prosecutor in San Diego, who led the corruption prosecution of former Representative Randy Cunningham." . . . .

"It is not clear how many United States attorneys are being forced out. Ms. Feinstein said the number was 5 to 10; Justice Department officials said the number was lower but would not provide a specific number.

“'We in no way politicize these decisions,' Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales told The Associated Press on Tuesday. Other Justice Department officials said some prosecutors were being dismissed and others were leaving voluntarily."

Could Torquemada, who cannot tell the truth, be lying?

Feinstein claims White House using Patriot Act to oust prosecutors

"The California Democrat complained on the Senate floor that the Bush administration has used a provision of the Patriot Act to remove U-S Attorney Kevin Ryan and other prosecutors and replace them with White House allies."

Medical breakthrough could change global politics

"The approach is called 'ethical pharmaceuticals,' and it was unveiled on January 2 by Sunil Shaunak, professor of infectious diseases at Imperial College, and Steve Brocchini of the London School of Pharmacy, the Guardian reports. Their team of scientists in India and the UK, financed by the prestigious Wellcome with technical assistance from the UK government, have developed a method of making small but significant changes to the molecular structure of existing drugs, thereby transforming them into new products, circumventing the long-term patents used by the corporate giants of Big Pharma to keep prices - and profits - high. This will give the world's poorest and most vulnerable people access to life-saving medicines - now priced out of reach - for mere pennies."

Big Pharma will likely snuff Shaunak and Broccchini.

Cheap, safe drug kills most cancers

"Evangelos Michelakis of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and his colleagues tested DCA on human cells cultured outside the body and found that it killed lung, breast and brain cancer cells, but not healthy cells. Tumours in rats deliberately infected with human cancer also shrank drastically when they were fed DCA-laced water for several weeks.

"DCA attacks a unique feature of cancer cells: the fact that they make their energy throughout the main body of the cell, rather than in distinct organelles called mitochondria. This process, called glycolysis, is inefficient and uses up vast amounts of sugar."

State of health care

"The U.S. health care system is not healthy and Americans are worried. In his State of the Union address last year, President Bush promised to provide Americans with 'affordable health care.' Yet, while the United States continues to spend more than any other country on health care, nearly 47 million Americans -- a record high -- remain uninsured. Health care costs are increasing faster than wages, and six in ten insured Americans are "worried about being able to afford the cost of their health insurance over the next few years." With the cost of health care a top concern of the American public, the President will likely address the issue in this year's State of the Union address. But rather than provide solutions that would extend affordable coverage to all Americans, Bush appears ready to re-hash his tired, unpopular proposals for expanding consumer-driven health care continue his efforts to unravel the employer-based health care system by changing the tax treatment of some employer-sponsored health benefits."

Bernanke warns of US 'fiscal crisis' fear

"He urged immediate action to head off the looming Medicare and Social Security funding gap, saying the right time to start was 'ten years ago'. But Mr Bernanke refused to comment on whether this should be done by curbing spending, raising taxes or some combination of the two, saying that was for elected officials to decide."

We must expand corporate entitlement programs, quacked Bernanke.

Federal workers owe billions in unpaid taxes

"Seventy-one employees in the Executive Office of the President, which includes the White House, owe $664,527 in taxes for 2005. About 20 of those employees have entered into an IRS payment plan, bringing the EOP balance down to $455,881owed by 50 employees."

Euro displaces dollar in bond markets

"The euro has displaced the US dollar as the world’s pre-eminent currency in international bond markets, having outstripped the dollar-denominated market for the second year in a row."

US housing bust getting worse

"The US Federal Reserve will need to slash interest rates three times this year as the housing slump goes from bad to worse and the American consumer begins to buckle, Goldman Sachs has warned."

State of the economy

"Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow showed 'a tiny bit of leg on the State of the Union address.' Snow said that President Bush 'will address major issues' the country faces, 'including the war on terror, energy, health care, immigration, and education.' 'There will be areas that do not get extensive discussion,' Snow added. One of those areas appears to be the economy. Bush will likely call for the permanent extension of his tax cuts and a balanced budget -- even though the tax cuts 'have been the single largest contributor to the reemergence of substantial budget deficits' -- and avoid other ways to stimulate the economy. Last year marked a slowdown period for the economy. 'The Gross Domestic Product, consumption, net worth, non-residential investment, wages and salaries, and employment all have grown less rapidly than during other comparable expansionary periods.' The slowdown in economic growth and job growth came 'as consumers saw rising debt payments on the record debt built up in past years.' The federal government's budget deficit remains large and the trade deficit is widening. Despite the economy's weakened state, the White House continues to neglect it."

Quotes from www.bartcop.com:

"In my view, history will show that this president never seriously prosecuted this war, never took his responsibility seriously, never provided sufficient resources, never even gave it his full attention. That became clear to me in 2003. I didn't get it beforehand because I just assumed that any American president would understand the gravity of the decisions he was taking and would ensure that he took all means to guarantee victory. But Bush didn't. He ran this war like a distracted frat boy, irritated by the distractions it required, and outsourced its execution to two unhinged aides. In other words: he wimped out." -- Andrew Sullivan, finally figuring out in 2007 what we knew in 1999 Link

"This is funny. The White House Correspondents' Association has apparently asked this year's comedic guest -- Rich Little -- not to give the president any grief since things are so bad for him already. And also no mentions of Iraq. The president is still recovering from last year's Colbert appearance. -- Josh Marshall talkingpointsmemo.com

"Bush has an exit strategy for the Iraqi war. In January of 2009, he will escape to Crawford, Texas." -- David Letterman

"I will have nothing to do with some political thing to embarrass the president." -- Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio Link

"The American press corps has lost its way. There's no reason the media played along with the administration's shifting rationales, all untrue in the run-up to the catastrophic war in Iraq. Congress rolled over, as we did, no questions asked. But the result of our default has been devastating. We lost our halo as the visionaries for a better mankind." -- Helen Thomas, one of the few who tells the truth Link

"In war, there are two exit strategies. One is victory. The other is defeat." -- Kissyface [Lieberman], when asked why young men are dying for no reason in Iraq, Link

"The purpose of Guantanamo is to destroy people, and I have been destroyed." -- Inmate Jumah al-Dossari, in a letter published in the LA Times, WaHoPo

"If you were playing basketball with Dubya and you were playing to 11 and he was down, you went to 15. Even if it was clear who was winning, Dubya wanted to go further to see what would happen. That worked well in Tallahassee in 2000, but not so well in Tikrit." -- Doug Hannah, the Little Dictator's best friend when he was 15 years old Link

"The consequences of failure are more important than a political career. It could hurt me in a primary and it could hurt me in a general election. This could hurt me in history." -- John McCain, proving he knows it's suicide to tell the voters to f**k off

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