Friday, November 30, 2007

How your job & maybe your company gets outsourced....

From The International Herald Tribune:

Outsourcers corner market for U.S. skilled worker visas
By Anand Giridharadas

Thursday, April 12, 2007
MUMBAI: After four years at Harvard, many foreign students there will have to leave the United States this summer. Some of them, wielding lucrative offers from Wall Street investment banks and other American businesses, will have to start at those companies' overseas offices thousands of miles away.

Few of the students may think to blame far-off foreign companies for their plight, which was first reported by The Harvard Crimson, the college newspaper. But India's thriving outsourcing industry is guzzling ever more of the coveted H-1B visas that the Harvard graduates and thousands of others would need to stay in the United States.

Enacted in 1990, the H-1B visa law allows skilled, specialized foreigners to work in America for up to six years and then pursue permanent residency.

The visa has been championed as a way to attract the world's best and brightest to America to study, work, start families and, like Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, stumble upon innovations that generate vast wealth and jobs.

"Where innovation and innovators go," Bill Gates, the Microsoft chairman, said recently, "jobs are soon to follow."

But the H-1B visa is being put to a starkly different use: It is now a critical tool for Indian outsourcing vendors to gain expertise and win contracts from Western companies to transfer critical operations to places like Bangalore.

"It has become the outsourcing visa," the Indian commerce minister, Kamal Nath, said by telephone this week while attending global trade talks in New Delhi, at which India is pushing the United States for a larger H-1B quota.

"If at one point you had X amount of outsourcing," he said, "and now you have a much higher quantum of outsourcing, you need that many more visas."

This month, the annual quota of 65,000 H-1B visas evaporated in a single day after U.S. officials received more than 133,000 applications. Last year, the quota lasted nearly 60 days.

If the past is any guide, many of those applications were for people with no intention of staying in the United States for the long term. Eight of the 10 largest H-1B applicants last year were outsourcing firms with major operations in India, according to a tabulation of U.S. Labor Department statistics by Ronil Hira, a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York, and a critic of the visas. A year earlier, the figure was four in ten.

As Indian outsourcing companies have become the leading consumers of the visa, they have used it to further their primary mission, which is to gain the expertise necessary to take on critical tasks performed by Western companies, and perform them in India at a fraction of the cost. Thousands of H-1B visas every year are being won by individuals acting as outsourcing ambassadors. Highly skilled and easily meeting the objective standards for excellence that the law requires, the employees interact with U.S. companies like Morgan Stanley and Boeing, gathering an outsourcing mandate and lubricating the flow of tasks to an Indian back office.

"To deliver the solutions from a remote environment," said B. Ramalinga Raju, chairman of Satyam Computer Services, a leading Indian vendor, "you need a certain number of people being with a customer, understanding his needs and collecting the requirements."

Indian vendors have helped lift the proportion of H-1Bs going to Indian nationals to more than half in 2006 from 7.5 percent in 1992. Last year, Indians received 43,167 of the 65,000 visas allotted.

Many Indian vendors now itemize the cost of visa fees in their annual reports. Infosys Technologies, a vendor based in Bangalore, noted last year that it had doubled spending on visas over the previous year, to $15 million - more than it spends on fiber optic and satellite connections to the West.

Filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reveal that Infosys had 6,800 U.S. employees on H-1Bs as of last September. In 1998, the figure was 231.

The H-1B's metamorphosis into "the outsourcing visa" is a principal reason why American lawmakers have resisted raising the quota above 65,000.

"Our immigration policy should seek to complement our U.S. work force, not replace it," Senator Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, said in a recent statement as he proposed legislation to restrict use of the visas.

Because it was designed to create jobs, firms with 15 percent or more of their U.S. work force on H-1Bs must attest in legal filings that they have not displaced a U.S. worker. But Hira, the academic, said he believed that most of the Indian outsourcing firms, by the intrinsic nature of their business, were violating those attestations.

"Rather than preventing the outsourcing of jobs, the H-1B program acts in just the opposite way, by accelerating the outsourcing of high-wage, high-skill jobs to low-cost countries," Hira wrote in a paper published last month by the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning research group in Washington.

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Impossible! This isn't "smoking related!!!...

From AP via San Diego Union-Tribune:

Graveyard shift deemed 'probable' cancer cause

By Maria Cheng
November 30, 2007

LONDON – Like UV rays and diesel exhaust fumes, working the graveyard shift will soon be listed as a “probable” cause of cancer.

SEAN M. HAFFEY / Union-Tribune
Tito Montes worked a night shift at San Diego Bail Bonds. Scientists suspect that overnight work is dangerous because it disrupts the body's biological clock.
It is a surprising step that validates a concept once considered wacky. And it is based on research that finds higher rates of breast and prostate cancer among women and men whose workday starts after dark.

Next month, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the cancer arm of the World Health Organization, will add overnight shift work as a probable carcinogen.

The higher cancer rates don't prove that working overnight can cause cancer. There may be other factors common among graveyard shift workers that raise their cancer risk.

However, scientists suspect that overnight work is dangerous because it disrupts the circadian rhythm, the body's biological clock. The hormone melatonin, which can suppress tumor development, is normally produced at night.

Scientists believe having lower melatonin levels can raise the risk of developing cancer. Light shuts down melatonin production, so people working in artificial light at night may have lower melatonin levels.

Melatonin can be taken as a supplement, but experts don't recommend it long-term, because that could suppress the body's ability to produce it naturally.

SEAN M. HAFFEY / Union-Tribune
Nadiyah Simpson dispatched taxi cabs last night at Lindbergh Field. Nearly 20 percent of the working population in developed nations works the graveyard shift.
If the graveyard shift theory eventually proves correct, millions of people worldwide could be affected. Experts estimate that nearly 20 percent of the working population in developed countries work night shifts.

Among the first to spot the night shift-cancer connection was Richard Stevens, a cancer epidemiologist and professor at the University of Connecticut Health Center. In 1987, Stevens published a paper suggesting a link between light at night and breast cancer.

At the time, he was trying to figure out why breast cancer incidence had suddenly shot up starting in the 1930s in industrialized societies, where nighttime work was considered a hallmark of progress. Most scientists were bewildered by his proposal.

But in recent years, several studies have found that women working at night over many years were indeed more prone to breast cancer. Also, animals that have their light-dark schedules switched develop more cancerous tumors and die earlier.

Some research also suggests that men working at night may have a higher rate of prostate cancer.

Because these studies mostly focused on nurses and airline crews, bigger studies in different populations are needed to confirm or disprove the findings.

There are still plenty of skeptics. And to put the risk in perspective, the “probable carcinogen” tag means that the link between overnight work and cancer is merely plausible.

Among the long list of agents that are listed as “known” carcinogens are alcoholic beverages and birth control pills. Such lists say nothing about exposure amount or length of time or how likely they are to cause cancer.

The American Cancer Society Web site notes that carcinogens do not always cause cancer. The cancer society doesn't make its own assessments of possible cancer-causing agents, but relies on analyses by the IARC and a U.S. agency.

Still, many doubters of the night shift link may be won over by the IARC's analysis, which is to be published in the December issue of the journal Lancet Oncology.

“The indications are positive,” said Vincent Cogliano, who heads up the agency's carcinogen classifications unit. “There was enough of a pattern in people who do shift work to recognize that there's an increase in cancer, but we can't rule out the possibility of other factors.”

Joe Raffa, director of San Diego County Cancer Navigator, which provides information about cancer and local services, said of the study: “It's certainly more validation that cancer is environmental. That makes sense.” His organization is a clearinghouse of information about the disease for patients, health providers and the general public.

Sleep deprivation may be another factor in cancer risk. People who work at night are not usually able to completely reverse their day and night cycles.

“Night-shift people tend to be day-shift people who are trying to stay awake at night,” said Mark Rea, director of the Light Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, who is not connected with the IARC analysis.
Not getting enough sleep makes your immune system vulnerable to attack, and less able to fight off potentially cancerous cells.

Confusing your body's natural rhythm can also lead to a breakdown of other essential tasks. “Timing is very important,” Rea said. Certain processes like cell division and DNA repair happen at regular times.

Even worse than working an overnight shift is flipping between daytime and overnight work.

“The problem is re-setting your body's clock,” said Aaron Blair, of the United States' National Cancer Institute, who chaired a recent IARC meeting on shift work. “If you worked at night and stayed on it, that would be less disruptive than constantly changing shifts.”

Anyone whose light and dark schedule is often disrupted – including frequent long-haul travelers or insomniacs – could theoretically face the same increased cancer risk, Stevens said.

It was unclear how the findings might affect late-shift workers in San Diego.

Bill Nemec, president of the San Diego Police Officers Association, said that while the city pays a differential to officers who work the overnight shift, research linking such work to higher cancer rates “certainly could impact our negotiations down the road.”

He said the police union has usually focused more on the physical demands of working the graveyard shift and its impact on officers' quality of life and job alertness in negotiating the differential.

Health concerns tied to night shift work have never surfaced in contract negotiations between United Nurses Association of California/Union of Health Care Professionals and the hospitals where the union's members work, said union spokeswoman Laureen Lazarovici of Pomona.

“There are nurses and other types of working people who prefer the overnight shift because it gives them flexibility in their family lives that 9-to-5 people don't have,” Lazarovici said.

Staff writers Cheryl Clark, Bruce V. Bigelow and Keith Darcé contributed to this report.


From Facebook to Coulter wants to replace Perino...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

The social networking site Facebook has "modified a controversial service that broadcast details of its users' online activities outside the site to their friends, following complaints about its privacy implications." Facebook will now give greater control to users over what information they want advertised. MoveOn, which had mounted an online campaign to pressure Facebook to change its policy, said the policy could be a "huge step in the right direction."

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee's moderate position on immigration compared to the stances of his rivals is causing anger in right-wing circles. "He was an absolute disaster on immigration as governor," said Roy Beck, president of the conservative group NumbersUSA.

"Without a serious effort at national conciliation, American troops are just holding down the lid on a pressure cooker. Iraq's rival militias, the insurgents, the bitter sectarian resentments and the meddling neighbors haven't gone anywhere," writes The New York Times in an editorial today.

51 percent: College students who say "where a candidate stands on the environment would be very important to their vote," according to a survey conducted by American University students.

Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) stated unequivocally that he would move to impeach President Bush if the administration bombs Iran without congressional approval. "The President has no authority to unilaterally attack Iran and if he does, as foreign relations committee chairman, I will move to impeach," he said.

A New York Times analysis found that "Medicare spends billions of dollars each year on products and services that are available at far lower prices from retail pharmacies and online stores." For example, Medicare spends more than double the drugstore price on oxygen tanks.

Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) acknowledged that the surge, which he had firmly criticized, "has led to military successes. But he also warned repeatedly that the Iraqis were not doing enough to capitalize on those gains. 'I think the surge is working but that's only one element. It's working because of the increase in troops,' he said, 'but the thing that has to happen is that the Iraqis have to do this themselves.'"

A new report by the Department of Labor Inspector General finds that 87 percent of the funds handed out by the Department's Employment and Training Administration in the past six years were through "sole-source grants," meaning $271 million in federal funds were awarded without any competition.

And finally: Ann Coulter suggests she should be the new White House press secretary. "She told a crowd gathered at the National Press Club for the National Journalism Center's 30th anniversary that she deserves" to be White House press secretary for the last six months of Bush's presidency. "I'm sure she would find it to be a fascinating experience," said White House Press Secretary Dana Perino.


Blue Dog Dems: Don't help 'em...

From David Sirota:

Conservative, Or Just Plain Corrupt?

By David Sirota
Creators Syndicate, 11/30/07

Through their ethics scandals, Republicans in Washington long ago
began making the word "conservative" synonymous with the term
"corrupt." Surprisingly, though, it is a group of Democrats that is
cementing this definitional conversion for good.

In the midst of the housing crisis, a cadre of self-described
"conservative" Democrats called the Blue Dog Coalition is demanding
congressional leaders delay legislation designed to help people
trapped in high-interest loans stay in their homes and avoid
foreclosure. The bill, House Resolution 3609, allows judges to
ameliorate the terms of abusive "subprime" mortgages. Rep. Brad
Miller, D-N.C., is championing it -- a gutsy move for a lawmaker
whose state domiciles major lenders.

The Blue Dogs say they oppose Miller's initiative out of concern for
the integrity of the 2005 Bankruptcy Bill -- a telling justification.

To read the full nationally syndicated newspaper column, go to:


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Blackwater & Potrero...nose to nose and not happy...


US security firm runs into new trouble - and this time it's closer to home
Rural community opposes expansion by company at centre of Iraq allegations

Dan Glaister in Potrero, California
Friday November 30, 2007

Guardian UK

Randel Parks pushed his hands into the pockets of his jeans and rocked back on the heels of his cowboy boots. "I've been here 30 years," he said, staring at the ground, "and I've spent most of my adult life working on this property, turning it into my piece of paradise. I'll be damned if I'm going to let them spoil it."

A mile away, around a bend in the mountain road that runs past Parks's property, his new neighbours spread a map out on the ground to discuss plans for the 325-hectare (800-acre) site they are in the process of buying. "There will be eight 100-yd carbine ranges here, and three 50-yd pistol ranges here. And we'll have a 10,000-sq ft armoury and a bunkhouse for 360 students over here."

Welcome to Blackwater West, the latest expansion from the company that dominates private security operations in Iraq. Last month Blackwater's chief executive, Erik Prince, appeared before Congress to defend the company's role in the alleged shootings of unarmed civilians. This week, reports alleged that it had turned a blind eye to the use of steroids among its employees.

Now the company is looking to expand domestically. So it has come to the border hamlet of Potrero, population 850. Eight miles from Mexico and 40 miles inland from San Diego, Potrero has found itself at the centre of a controversy.

But it is a dispute that goes beyond the rights and wrongs of a large company intent on developing farmland. Opponents fear that it will be the first step towards Blackwater moving in on the potentially lucrative and politically sensitive job of patrolling the US-Mexico border. While Congress has authorised increased recruitment for the Border Patrol, the federal agency that polices the border, many have asked how it is going to be paid for and who is going to do the training. Enter Blackwater West.

"We're here by happenstance," said Brian Bonfiglio, Blackwater West's vice-president. Bonfiglio, who was previously in charge of security for Paul Bremer, the former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, was dispatched a year ago from the company's base in North Carolina to oversee the expansion west. "We're a training company. This site was not chosen because of its proximity to the border. The Border Patrol has not approached us and we're not chasing Border Patrol contracts. If the government said here's a contract we want you to bid on, I can't say what the company would do."

Bonfiglio may not be able to say, but the company's president did. In his book Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, journalist Jeremy Scahill recounts company president Gary Jackson's May 2005 appearance before the House homeland security committee. "Just as the private sector has responded in moving mail and packages around the world more efficiently," Jackson told the committee, "so too can Blackwater respond to the customs' and Border Patrol's emerging and compelling training needs."

The first salvo against Blackwater's plans comes on December 11, when a recall election - called as a result of a petition by residents - will be held to replace the majority of the Potrero planning group. The group has been criticised for unanimously approving Blackwater's application to build a training facility on a dilapidated chicken farm. Set in 824 acres, the valley that would be Blackwater West is surrounded by low brush and hills. The land includes part of the Cleveland national forest, although Blackwater says it will not use any of the forest land on its property.

Approval was given last December before all but a handful of residents were aware of the plans. Once details emerged, some locals decided to act. "A lot of my neighbours were of the opinion that you couldn't do anything about it," said Parks. "But as time went by I found out that we had some supporters. Now there are more people who aren't afraid to come out and speak."

Rather than being upset about the controversy surrounding Blackwater, most opponents are more concerned about the potential loss of their rural way of life. "When we first moved here in 1977 we didn't have any neighbours," said Cathey Ramsey. Sitting in the town's only shop, the 94 Cafe and general store, she listed her objections: "My concerns are water, wildlife, traffic, noise, all the firing ranges."

Her son, William Crawley, who is standing for election to the planning group, said: "I want to make a change. The group has been neglectful of its duties."

Outside the landscape is charred, the result of the fires that raged across southern California in October. At Barrett lake, alongside tents set up for the 17 Potrero households who lost their homes in fires, stand three Blackwater trailers. "They were the first ones here," said Brenda Wise. "Blackwater called up and gave us everything we needed. If their centre had been in place when the fire started maybe we wouldn't have had fires at all." Wise, who is standing as a pro-Blackwater candidate in the planning group election, said: "I'm sorely offended by groups hiring protesters and trying to take over the community for their own political gain."

The protesters she referred to are the 200 or more people who attended a rally against the development held on Parks's land. Those behind the rally deny that anybody was paid to attend.

A smaller, counter rally was held on a neighbouring property belonging to Shirley Reider and her husband. "To me it's a matter of patriotism," said Reider. "Blackwater has done a lot for our country. Every organisation, even the marines, gets a bad apple now and then, but you deal with that. We should be thankful that we have patriotic Americans who'll defend us."

Jan Hedlun, who was elected to the planning group this year and is the only current member to oppose Blackwater's arrival in Potrero, has other concerns. "I didn't move out here to live next to a shooting range and driving track," she said. "I came out for peace and quiet and for my health. This facility doesn't belong in our rural community."

She added: "There's a cronyistic dynasty among the current power structure and then there's everyone else. All of a sudden this has dropped in our lap, and the power structure isn't listening to what the people want."

Should the planning group be replaced with officials more sympathetic to the opponents of Blackwater, it is not certain that the development would be stopped. The planning group offers advice to the county planning department. The project could still go ahead.

"I like this place so much," said Parks, standing in his garden, which is decorated with animal skulls and cart wheels. "I don't think I'd ever pack up and move on."


Founded 1997 by former navy Seals Erik Prince and Al Clark

Mission: "To support security and peace, and freedom and democracy everywhere"

First government contract in February 2000

Trains more than 40,000 people a year at its base in North Carolina

$1bn five-year contract to protect US officials in conflict zones and US embassy in Baghdad

Four staff were lynched in Falluja in 2004

Involved in 195 shooting incidents between 2005 and September 2007, when licence to operate in Iraq was revoked by Iraq government following shooting of 17 Iraqis

In October Prince testified before congressional committee investigating Blackwater. Company is being investigated by FBI

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007


Iraq...You dare call it progress?

From Information Clearing House:

The Myths of Military Progress

By Ron Jacobs

Making occupation and calling it peace. Killing fewer and calling it progress. Rotating troops and calling it a withdrawal. Setting up new death squads and calling them allies. Lowering standards and calling it opening new opportunities.

[Use link above to continue reading]


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

One Film and some neat books on the way....

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


Joyce Lebra's THE SCENT OF SAKE, about a 19th century Japanese woman who overcomes tremendous obstacles to build a sake empire and a family dynasty at a time when women were forbidden to do business, to Carrie Feron at William Morrow, at auction, by Natasha Kern at Natasha Kern Literary Agency (World).


Director of the Brown Creative Writing department Brian Evenson's FUGUE-STATE, a new collection of short stories (including the O.Henry award winner "Mudder Tongue"), to Chris Fischbach at Coffee House Press, by Matt McGowan at the Frances Goldin Literary Agency (US).


Michael Cordy's forthcoming adventure thriller novel, THE SOURCE, pitched as a modern quest novel in the style of Jules Verne or H. Rider Haggard, optioned to Ollie Madden at Warner Bros. with screenwriter/producer Akiva Goldman's Weed Road attached to produce, by Nick Harris at Rabineau Wachter Sanford & Harris, on behalf of Patrick Walsh at Conville & Walsh.

US rights are still available. Buyers have included Bill Scott-Kerr at Bantam UK; Editions Cherche-Midi in France; Heyne in Germany; Edizioni Nord in Italy; Planeta in Spain; Quixote in Portugal; Opus in Israel; and Amber in Poland.

London Times foreign affairs columnist Bronwen Maddox's IN DEFENSE OF AMERICA, on why the world would be worse off without America, to Geoff Shandler at Little, Brown, for publication in 2008, by Ed Victor at Ed Victor Ltd..

Author of the award-wining BICYCLE: The History, David Herlihy's THE LOST CYCLIST: The Untold Story of Frank Lenz's Ill-Fated Around the World Journey, the tragic yet inspiring tale of a 19th adventurer's solo circumnavigation of the globe via bicycle, traveling west from New York City across America, through Asia, and ending in Turkey where he disappears and is presumably murdered, featuring Lenz's stunning photographs which survived the journey, to George Hodgman at Houghton Mifflin, by Scott Waxman at the Waxman Literary Agency (NA).

Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson's WINNER-TAKE-ALL-POLITICS: How Government Created the Super-Rich and the Super-Rich Captured Government, the story of the rise of hyper-inequality in America and how it really happened, to Dedi Felman at Simon & Schuster, by Sydelle Kramer of the Susan Rabiner Literary Agency.

Author of the 1995 Bancroft Prize winning LOCAL PEOPLE: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi, John Dittmer's THE GOOD DOCTORS: The Medical Committee for Human Rights, Race, and the Politics of Health Care in America, the story of the idealistic doctors who came to Mississippi to provide care in the 1964 Freedom Summer workers and went on to a broader struggle against the injustices and racism in the health care system, to Peter Ginna at Bloomsbury Press, by Carol Mann of the Carol Mann Agency.

Harold Evans's PAPERCHASE, a memoir of his newspaper days by the former Random House publisher and editor of the Times of London, to Geoff Shandler at Little, Brown, for publication in 2009, by Ed Victor at Ed Victor Ltd.

Lucy Knisley's graphic travelogue FRENCH MILK, about her six-week stay with her mother in a quirky little flat in Paris's fifth arrondissement, where both celebrate milestone birthdays as they soak up all the sights, sounds, and tastes of a Paris straight out of central casting, to Amanda Patten at Touchstone Fireside, in a nice deal, by Holly Bemiss at the Susan Rabiner Literary Agency (world).


Mets announcer and former pitcher Ron Darling's RON DARLING: The Art of Pitching, a how-to guide, to Knopf, by Mel Berger at William Morris Agency.


From Bring Troops Home to Singing Senators...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

Despite increased public optimism due to the recent downturn in violence in Iraq, a new Pew Research poll finds that President Bush "remains as unpopular as ever" and "the public remains just as committed to bringing U.S. troops home."

Al Hubbard, the chairman of President Bush's National Economic Council, is submitting his resignation today. He departs at a time when the White House is struggling "with a mortgage crisis that has sparked foreclosures, declining home prices and concern about prospects for recession."

Congressional Democrats will focus on the economy next week in an effort to address public fears about an approaching recession. "House leaders have discussed holding an economic summit and are poised to bring a long-awaited energy bill to the House floor next week."

Following "a lobbying blitzkrieg," the Federal Communications Commission handed "a significant, though not total, victory" to the cable industry yesterday with a compromise that will postpone for months the question of expanding "the agency's regulatory authority over" the industry.

In a new report, the United Nations warns that "progress toward prosperity" will be reversed in the world's poorest regions unless rich countries begin "curbing emissions linked to global warming" while also helping poorer ones transition to renewable energy sources.

"Some of the Army's best captains are getting out of the war in Iraq. They are tired of long deployments and the strain on their families. But in hopes of getting captains to re-enlist for another three years, the military is offering a $35,000 bonus."

"The Department of Veterans Affairs fell farther behind this year in its attempts to give veterans timely decisions on their disability claims, new records show." Furthermore, "the VA put a positive spin on many of its numbers, and in two instances provided Congress with incorrect or incomplete figures," according to McClatchy.

A Saudi court has agreed to review the case of a girl who was sentenced to jail time and flogging "after being gang raped by seven men." The Saudi Justice Ministry had earlier accused her of being an "adulteress who invited the attack." The victim explained what happened to ABC News.

"Federal wildlife regulators will revise seven controversial decisions on endangered species" made by President Bush's controversial Interior Department appointee Julie MacDonald, who quit after criticisms that she "routinely questioned and sometimes overruled recommendations by biologists and other field staffers."

And finally: With the resignation of Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) is the last member "left standing" in the Singing Senators barbershop quartet, which previously included Sens. Jim Jeffords (I-VT) and John Ashcroft (R-MO). The Washington Post's Al Kamen writes, "It's the biggest musical breakup since the legendary Ben E. King left the Drifters."


Outsourcing and destruction...of Rove's records...


Rove Investigator Destroyed Computer Records

The Wall Street Journal's John R. Wilke reports: "The head of the federal agency investigating Karl Rove's White House political operation is facing allegations that he improperly deleted computer files during another probe, using a private computer-help company, Geeks on Call."

[Use link above to continue reading]


the "Decider" will no doubt decide Who...

From Secrecy News:


Last July, President Bush issued a broadly-worded executive order
authorizing the government to seize the assets of "any person" who
threatens the stability of Iraq and, more controversially, any person
who provides assistance to such a person.

The scope, objectives and precedents of the order -- Executive Order
13,438, "Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten
Stabilization Efforts in Iraq" -- were examined in a new report from
the Congressional Research Service.

"The broad language of this executive order has been the subject of a
degree of criticism as potentially reaching beyond insurgents in Iraq
to third parties, such as U.S. citizens, who may unknowingly be
providing support for the insurgency," the CRS report noted, citing
prior accounts in the Washington Post, TPM Muckraker, and elsewhere.

In fact, the potential application of the order appears to be
technically unlimited since it includes a recursive clause that has no
defined endpoint.

Thus, section 1(b) of the Order states that any person who provides
goods or services to a person whose actions are proscribed under
section 1(a) is himself subject to section 1(a). But then, anyone who
provides similar support to that person could likewise be swept up in
the expansive terms of the order. And so on, without end.

In practice, the application of the order will be defined by
implementing regulations to be issued by the Treasury Department's
Office of Foreign Assets Control, which will also prepare an initial
list of blocked individuals and organizations. Those have still not
been published.

A copy of the new CRS report was obtained by Secrecy News.

See "Executive Order 13,438: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who
Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq," November 16, 2007:

The text of executive order 13,438 is here:

[Use links above to continue reading]


Kucinich stands tall...then and now...

From Information Clearing House:

Dennis Kucinich

By Gore Vidal

In October 2002 he opposed the notion of a war then being debated. For those of us at home and in harm's way from disease, he co-wrote HR 676, a bill that would insure all of us within Medicare, just as if we were citizens of a truly civilized nation.

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Major disappointment: Pelosi...

From Information Clearing House:

Impeach Cheney, Bush and Pelosi!

By Ted Lang

It is Pelosi who now represents Cheney-Bush's most powerful and effective enabler and supporter. Pelosi is now a vital part of the Cheney-Bush crime machine. She is an accessory before, during and after the fact. And she assuredly supports the AIPAC/Cheney-Bush crime machine's intended and unwarranted, unconstitutional invasion of Iran.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Chinese students fascinated with American voting...

From In These Times :

Views > November 22, 2007 > Web Only
Talking American Democracy in China
By Mike Levy

The ‘08 election results are in.

According to my friends, who received an informal presidential straw poll from me in my capacity as a volunteer teacher in China, Barack Obama is the winner. He is a crushing, massive winner, earning almost five times more votes than the second place Democratic finishers, Hillary Clinton and Dennis Kucinich, and ten times more votes than the leading Republican (John McCain) and the leading independents (a tie—at one vote apiece— between Ralph Nader and Steven Colbert).

I held this incredibly unscientific straw poll to help a group of my most politically interested students understand a little bit more about American democracy. These students—all English majors at Guizhou University, the largest school in China’s poorest province—represent a broad spectrum of Chinese society. Some are from tiny peasant villages with parents earning less than $100 a month. Others are children of China’s growing urban kleptocracy, rich even by American standards. A few of them actively circumvent the Great Firewall of China to access political blogs and newspapers that the Chinese government attempts to block. Many check, or BBC online news. One regularly checks, then comes to me with vocabulary questions (“What does it mean for Bush to be ‘out of his mind’?”).

These students have been asking me for months who will become President in 2008. I’ve been feeding them data from national polls, but this information strikes them as impersonal and unenlightening. They want to feel a more personal connection to American politics. With this in mind, I sent a mass e-mail to about 100 of my friends back home, hoping to show the students a small slice of American-style democracy.

Chinese-style democracy offers an interesting contrast to our own system in that it is almost entirely undemocratic. Chinese democracy does not involve much voting, awareness of how the government works, information about politics, or what I like to call “facts.” The Chinese government nevertheless claims to be democratic, and many of my Chinese friends will agree that this is true.

America certainly ain’t perfect, and by most reasonable analyses it has gone Anikan Skywalker on the rest of the world, self-righteously slaughtering its way towards the Dark Side. But Americans know who is running for office. We have access to voting records and information about campaign contributions. We can watch debates. We at least have the option of thinking deeply about our government.

Chinese do not have these options. The government simply is. Most Chinese don’t think about it beyond that fact. I was therefore extremely happy to bring the political thoughts of my American friends into my Chinese classroom. This was a chance to show my students what democracy looks like.

Class began with a summary of the results of the straw poll. Obama cruised to victory, with Hillary Clinton in a distant second and Dennis Kucinich, Bill Richardson and John Edwards pulling in handfuls of votes. Five percent of my straw poll voters were undecided at this early point in the primary process. Ninety percent of my straw poll voters voted Democratic (which I made clear was more a comment on whose company I enjoy, rather than a reflection of American demographics).

[Use link above to continue reading]


Faith just ain't gonna get it....

From Wall St Journal via San Diego Union Tribune :

Method of treating cobra bites draws contention in India


November 27, 2007

MUSHARI, India – A five-foot monocled cobra slithered through a throng of barefoot children one afternoon recently. Not even the toddlers recoiled in fear.

“We sleep with the snakes, we eat with the snakes, we live with the snakes here,” shouted 14-year-old Chinmoy Mahji proudly. “We are not scared.”
Talk about a snake pit. The deadly serpents are everywhere in Mushari and its three adjoining villages, set amid muddy ponds and rice fields on the hot Bengali plains northwest of Calcutta.

Samir Chatterjee, a school headmaster, says that according to his census, more than 3,000 cobras live in Choto Pashla, one of the three hamlets that abut Mushari. “Whenever I lie down in my bed, a cobra will just slide on top of me, without hurting me,” boasts Narottom Sain, a Mushari village leader.

While Sain has yet to be bitten, many others are not so lucky. The area's chief Hindu priest, Shyamal Chakraborty, says that several villagers are attacked by cobras every month.

What to do when that happens is a matter of contention here, as India's ancient ways and taboos clash with slowly encroaching modernity. Snakebites are a serious problem in India: According to estimates cited by the World Health Organization, serpent attacks kill as many as 50,000 Indians each year.

Compounding the problem is the widespread belief in the snakes' divine powers, and a religious prohibition on harming the deadly reptiles. The cobra, in particular, occupies a hallowed place in the Hindu religion.

According to legend widely believed here in Mushari, the monocled cobras – black serpents with a clear circle on their hoods – first settled in the area in 911, on the orders of the snake goddess Manasa.

The reptiles, one of a number of cobra species that live in India, are revered as incarnations of gods. Only Brahmins – members of Hinduism's priestly caste – are allowed to touch them. With the cult attracting thousands of pilgrims, Mushari's priests are eager to maintain their authority.

“If you don't visit the doctor and just come to us, the bite will be cured in two, three days,” explains Chakraborty's son Nayan, a saffron-clad priest, as he plays with a hissing cobra on the village square. “We tell people that if you don't listen to god and go to a hospital, it's at your own risk.”

These religious taboos – and faith in the priests' magical powers – are slowly beginning to crumble. Facing the prospect of death after a bite, some villagers are opting for more conventional medicine. One such snakebite victim is Malati Dhara, a young woman who was attacked by a cobra as she watered her garden last year.

At first, Dhara tried to follow the old custom. She called on Chakraborty, the chief priest, and spent the first hours after the bite applying mud and chanting. Feeling her body go rigid, Dhara asked to be rushed to the nearest hospital. There, she was injected with a broad-spectrum anti-venom.

“A cobra is highly neurotoxic, and no one will survive without the antidote if the poison is properly injected,” says Indranil Banerjee, the emergency medical officer at the Burdwan hospital. “I see this often. After being treated by witch doctors, people come here too late and just die.”

Dhara's near-death experience – and rapid recovery after the antidote – dented somewhat the priestly authority in the area. Other villagers have since gone to the hospital with snakebites.

Still, the age-old taboos aren't quite dead. Dhara's mother-in-law, stepped into a crowd to break up the conversation about the snakes. “We have to follow our traditions and go to the priests when the snakes bite,” she insisted. “Their rituals are the only cure.”


From Bush hit 'n run to Chavez: Hopeless romantic...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

While President Bush is attending a Mideast conference in Annapolis this morning, "he won't remain there for long." He "plans to head back to the White House after delivering his opening speech to the diplomats and dignitaries at the U.S. Naval Academy." White House aides said he wasn't planning to offer new American proposals to resolve the conflict.

The Wall Street Journal's Bret Stephens recalls that when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visited Syrian President Bashar Assad back in April, "President Bush denounced her for sending 'mixed signals' that 'lead the Assad government to believe they are part of the mainstream of the international community, when in fact they are a state sponsor of terror.'" Today, Assad will sit with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Annapolis.

At least 1.4 million homeowners will lose their properties to foreclosure in 2008, while "the property value of U.S. homes will fall by $1.2 trillion," says a new report by the the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Council for the New American City. The report predicts "deep economic impact from ongoing housing market problems."

In an attempt to put to rest concerns over his ignorance about FISA reform legislation, Time magazine columnist Joe Klein writes, "I have neither the time nor legal background to figure out who's right." Salon's Glenn Greenwald responds by noting "the extreme lack of professionalism and corruption required" for Klein to say he "isn't interested in bothering to find out (and isn't even capable of determining) if anything he wrote was accurate."

USA Today's DeWayne Wikham writes, "While there is still little evidence to suggest that Bush was knowingly involved in this coverup [of the Plame outing], the evidence against Cheney is piling up. ... This trail of lies and deception has put Cheney on the same path that led to Nixon’s impeachment."

"Corporate backers of next year's Olympic Games in China have done little or nothing to pressure Beijing to use its influence to end the genocide in Darfur," according to a new report. "The corporate Olympic sponsors are engaged in a form of silent complicity with the Chinese government in its support of the genocide," the report's author, Ellen Freudenheim, said.

The lawyer for Brent Wilkes, the contractor convicted of bribing former congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham, has asked a federal judge to approve subpoenas for journalists from NBC News, AP, and the Wall Street Journal who reported on the scandal. He wants them "to reveal how they obtained secret information relating to the federal investigation."

The Politico writes of Sen. Trent Lott's (R-MS) lucrative lobbying career prospects. "A near-certain scenario has him teaming up with his son, lobbyist Chester Lott, founder of Lott & Associates. Another, still fluid, idea is partnering with former Louisiana Democratic Sen. John Breaux, who is said to be mulling a departure from the lobbying powerhouse Patton Boggs."

And finally: Attention singles! Foreign Policy magazine has put together a list of the "most eligible world leaders." Topping the list is French president Nicholas Sarkozy, who is "always the center of attention." Also making the cut: Condoleezza Rice ("the most powerful woman in the world"), Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck ("Prince Charming"), Michelle Bachelet ("tough, smart, and ambitious"), and Hugo Chavez ("a hopeless romantic").


Monday, November 26, 2007

Excellent reporter in Iraq: Dahr Jamail....

From Tom Dispatch:

Dahr Jamail, How to Control the Story, Pentagon-style

Acts matter. Here's how Dahr Jamail, a young mountain guide and volunteer rescue ranger in Alaska (who did freelance writing in the "off-season") describes his rash decision, back in 2003, to cover George W. Bush's Iraq War in person: "I decided that the one thing I could do was go to Baghdad to report on the occupation myself. I saved some money, bought a laptop, a camera, and a plane ticket, and, armed with information gleaned via some connections made over the Internet, headed for the Middle East." That was it. The next thing he knew he was driving through the Iraqi desert from Amman, Jordan, toward Baghdad and directly into the unknown. He had few contacts; no media organization to back him; no hotel/office with private guards to return to at night; no embedded place among American forces for protection; not even, on arrival in Baghdad, any place to write for.

Call that a shot in the dark. The result? A singularly remarkable running account of what Iraq actually felt like, of what life for Iraqi civilians actually was like after the shock-and-awe onslaught of March 2003 devolved into the endless occupation/catastrophe we all know so well. Jamail, who has written regularly for Tomdispatch these last years, has now published a book on his time on (and always very close to) the ground in Iraq, Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq. Unnerving as it is to come, once again, upon the real face of the American occupation, largely seen through Iraqi eyes, Jamail's new book is also a gripping adventure to read, the odyssey of a neophyte becoming a journalist under the pressure of events.

In reviewing the book for Mother Jones magazine, Nick Turse recently wrote:

"I suspect Jamail's account will prove an enduring document of what really happened during the chaotic years of occupation, and how it transformed ordinary Iraqis. To paraphrase one of the Vietnam War's finest correspondents, Gloria Emerson, writing about Jonathan Schell's exceptional accounts of that conflict: If, years from now, Americans are willing to read any books about the war, this one should be among them. It tells everything."

Don't miss it -- or Jamail's latest below. Tom

Iraq Has Only Militants, No Civilians
"Tactical Perception Management" in Iraq
By Dahr Jamail

"Sometimes I think it should be a rule of war that you have to see somebody up close and get to know him before you can shoot him." -- Colonel Potter, M*A*S*H

[Use link above to continue reading}


Senate Intel Committee will get oversight....

From Secrecy News:


The efficacy of intelligence oversight in the Senate has been
repeatedly undermined by procedural hurdles that enable the Defense
Appropriations Subcommittee to overrule actions taken by the Senate
Intelligence Committee, Senators complained earlier this month. To
remedy this concern, a new bill has been introduced that would transfer
budget appropriations authority to the Intelligence Committee.

This year, the Senate Intelligence Committee presented "four major
oversight initiatives in its [authorization] bill," said Sen.
Christopher S. Bond (R-MO) at a Committee hearing on November 13. But
in each case, "actions by the appropriations committee were completely

A Memorandum of Agreement between the Committees that was supposed to
improve coordination between the authorizers and the appropriators has
failed in every significant respect, he said.

In a written statement, Sen. Bond referred obliquely to several
attempted actions by the Intelligence Committee that had been
overridden by appropriators to the detriment of national policy.

For example, because of resistance from appropriators, "It took until
recent time to end a program that, at the least, should have been
terminated a few years ago. Unfortunately, all told, the loss to the
taxpayers is astronomical, in the billions of dollars." This appears to
be a reference to the Future Imagery Architecture program.

See Senator Bond's November 13 statement here:

Related statements and testimony from the SSCI hearing on intelligence
oversight are here:

The proposed Senate Resolution 375 that would grant appropriation
authority to the Intelligence Committee is here:

The recent decision to declassify the annual budget of the National
Intelligence Program now makes it possible to remove the intelligence
budget from concealment in the defense budget and to appropriate it
independently, thereby strengthening oversight and accountability.

For this and other reasons, budget declassification is the most
important involuntary public disclosure of intelligence information at
least since declassification of the August 6, 2001 President's Daily
Brief item "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S."

But significantly, the intelligence oversight committees, which have
been criticized for ineffective leadership on several controversial
policy fronts, did not play a leading role in intelligence budget
disclosure either.

[Use links above to continue reading]


Middle East..Bush ...Partridge in Pear Tree...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

Seven years into President Bush's term, the administration is today hosting a Middle East conference. Bush has never visited Israel as president, and has made just four visits to the region -- three times to Iraq. In contrast, President Clinton "traveled to the Middle East seven times, all but one visit focused on the peace process in one form or another."

Leading military officials say they hope that "the next major assessment [of the Iraq war] early next year would not place as much emphasis on the views of Gen. David H. Petraeus," in an attempt to avoid "relentless focus on the opinion of a single commander."

Former Treasury secretary Larry Summers today warns in a Financial Times op-ed that even if "necessary changes in policy are implemented, the odds now favour a US recession that slows growth significantly on a global basis." There is also the potential that "adverse impacts will be felt for the rest of this decade and beyond."

Demonstrating how private security companies "operate in a lawless void in Iraq," the Washington Post has revealed that "guards employed by Unity Resources Group" were involved in a "previously undisclosed" shooting in Baghdad in June.

"The Northern Hemisphere is the warmest this year since record-keeping started 127 years ago, according to the National Climatic Data Center."

"Saudi Arabia's Justice Ministry said a girl who it sentenced to jail time and flogging after being gang raped by seven men was an adulteress who invited the attack because at the time she was partially dressed in a parked car with her lover." The Bush administration has refused to condemn the Saudi court's ruling.

And finally: Last week was Black Friday, but it's doubtful that most Americans bought their true loves the gifts in the carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas." It would now cost "$78,100 to buy the 364 items, from a single partridge in a pear tree to the 12 drummers drumming, repeatedly on each day as the song suggests." The price "is up 4 percent from $75,122 last year."


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Pity the GOP...they can't raise enough money....

From The NY Times :

Short of Money, G.O.P. Enlists Rich Candidates

Confronting an enormous fund-raising gap with Democrats, Republican Party officials say they are recruiting wealthy candidates who can spend millions of their own money to finance their Congressional races.

[Use link above to continue reading]


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Bilbray's "Unattended Mailbox"....

From Congressman Brian Bilbray's (R-CA) Unattended Mailbox:

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me regarding your
concerns. Due to the large volume of messages I receive daily it is
impossible for me to reply immediately. Be assured that I appreciate all
your comments and will reply as quickly as possible.

As the new Chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus (IRC) I am vigorously
fighting any grant of amnesty to illegal aliens. As part of the original
Republican Revolution in the 1990s, we achieved a balanced Federal budget
and had a $155 billion surplus. Today, I work to restore our balanced
budget and to bring back fiscal conservatism and responsible spending to
Congress. We did it once, and we can do it again with your support.
Also, I believe it is critical that we give our troops the support and
resources they need while defending our freedom and liberty around the
globe. They can help us prevail in the Global War on Terror, but only if
we do not fail them here at home.

Again, thank you for contacting me. If you have any questions, please
feel free to call me or my office at (202) 225-0508.

Brian P. Bilbray
Member of Congress

Note: I'll be more than glad to get rid of this guy in 2008.


We, the People....are being abused....


Thom Hartmann | Whatever Happened to "We the People"?

An excerpt from Thom Hartmann's new book, "Cracking the Code," Berrett-Koehler Publishing, says, "As Americans, the most important part of our social identity is our role as citizens. To be a citizen means to be part of, and a de-fender of, the commons of our nation. The water we drink, the air we breathe, the streets we drive on, the schools that we use, the departments that protect us - these are all the physical commons. And there are also the cultural commons - the stories we tell ourselves, our histories, our religions, and our notions of ourselves.

And there are the commons of our power systems (in the majority of American communities), our health-care system (stolen from us and privatized over the past twenty-five years, our hospitals in particular used to be mostly nonprofit or run by mostly city or county governments), and the electronic commons of our radio and TV spectrum and the Internet."

[Use link above to continue reading]


Friday, November 23, 2007

A really decent human being....

From Associated Press:

Illegal immigrant rescues boy in desert
By TERRY TANG, Associated Press writer

A 9-year-old boy looking for help after his mother crashed their van in the southern Arizona desert was rescued by a man entering the U.S. illegally, who stayed with him until help arrived the next day, an official said.

The 45-year-old woman, who eventually died while awaiting help, had been driving on a U.S. Forest Service road in a remote area just north of the Mexican border when she lost control of her van on a curve on Thanksgiving, Sheriff Tony Estrada said.

The van vaulted into a canyon and landed 300 feet from the road, he said. The woman, from Rimrock, north of Phoenix, survived the impact but was pinned inside, Estrada said.

Her son, unhurt but disoriented, crawled out to get help and was found about two hours later by Jesus Manuel Cordova, 26, of Magdalena de Kino in the northern Mexican state of Sonora. Unable to pull the mother out, he comforted the boy while they waited for help.

The woman died a short time later.

"He stayed with him, told him that everything was going to be all right," Estrada said.

As temperatures dropped, he gave him a jacket, built a bonfire and stayed with him until about 8 a.m. Friday, when hunters passed by and called authorities, Estrada said. The boy was flown to University Medical Center in Tucson as a precaution but appeared unhurt.

Cordova was taken into custody by Border Patrol agents, who were the first to respond to the call for help. He had been trying to walk into the U.S. when he came across the boy.

The boy and his mother were in the area camping, Estrada said. The woman's husband, the boy's father, had died only two months ago. The names of the woman and her son were not being released until relatives were notified.

Cordova likely saved the boy, Estrada said, and his actions should remind people not to quickly characterize illegal immigrants as criminals.

"They do get demonized for a lot of reasons, and they do a lot of good. Obviously this is one example of what an individual can do," he said.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press.


Big mouth Gonzo goes a'speakin'.....

From Information Clearing House:

Alberto Gonzales, The Symptom, Begs for Prosecution

By William Sumner Scott, J.D.

He resigned with the claim that he did nothing wrong. He went out of the limelight. With a low profile he could escape criminal prosecution and investigation by his legal license regulators. But as the act of a fool, he could not remain quiet. He has elected to go on a public speaking tour.

[Use link above to continue reading]


Peru & the flipping Dems...

From :

David Bacon
The Real Cost of the Peru Free Trade Agreement

David Bacon writes for Truthout that "In the 2006 elections, aspiring Democrats attacked the Bush administration's free trade policies, and more than 20 new members of Congress were elected, giving the Democratic Party its new majority in the House of Representatives.

Yet two weeks ago, Democratic Party leaders urged those same members of Congress to vote for a new free trade agreement with Peru. Most rebelled, but enough Democrats voted for the Bush administration proposal, along with every Republican, to push it through the House. The Senate is expected to take up the agreement any day now."

[Use link above to continue reading]


Thursday, November 22, 2007

REAL food?...Going, going, .......

From International Herald Tribune:

WTO gives EU more time on genetically modified foods
By James Kanter
Published: November 22, 2007

PARIS: Adding to the uncertainty over European policies toward genetically modified foods, the World Trade Organization said Thursday that the European Union would be given more time to end blockages on imports of engineered foods like corn.

"The period during which the EU was meant to have worked this out expired, and the parties decided to extend the deadline to Jan. 11," said Keith Rockwell, a spokesman for the WTO.

The EU had been due to end the blockages by Nov. 21.

The agreement came after EU officials held a series of talks with their counterparts in the United States, Argentina and Canada over the past weeks, said Peter Power, a spokesman for the EU trade commissioner, Peter Mandelson.

Argentina, Canada and the United States have sued the European Union at the WTO, which ruled last year that a de facto EU ban on imports of genetically modified foods between 1984 and 2004 was illegal.

Today in Business
Gazprom deal with Eni drives new wedge into hopes for EU energy unityHeathrow expansion proposed, and foughtU.S. subprime losses may hit $300 billion, OECD estimates
One of the biggest stumbling blocks for resolving the case is an ongoing refusal by Austria to allow imports of two genetically modified corn types produced by Bayer of Germany and Monsanto of the United States.

Some officials within the European Commission, the EU's executive body, want to mandate an end to the Austrian ban. But other officials have expressed concerns about genetically modified foodstuffs, pointing to potential dangers of engineered crops as well as to public opinion, which in many countries is skeptical of them.

So far, the EU has been unable to agree on whether to order Austria to lift its ban, and there is little sign of an end to the acrimony between Europeans and Americans over the products.

"For too long, GM foods have been a thorn in the side of trans-Atlantic relations," said Jacqueline Mailly, a senior regulatory affairs advisor with the law firm Hogan & Hartson in Brussels.

Now, Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas could be triggering another fight with the United States over genetically modified foods by proposing a European ban on the cultivation of modified corn made by Pioneer Hi-Bred, Dow Agrosciences and Syngenta, on the grounds that the products could harm the environment.

U.S. officials said this week that Dimas's move was unprecedented because it brushed aside findings by EU scientists from 2005 that the corn posed no evident dangers. But Dimas said new evidence had come to light requiring further investigation.

Simon Tilford, of the Center for European Reform, a research institute in London, said the approach taken by Dimas could only worsen trade relations with the United States.

But Barbara Helfferich, a spokeswoman for Dimas, said EU officials could take decisions under the "precautionary principle," even when scientists had found no definitive evidence that products can cause harm.

Helfferich also said the EU had been allowing imports of genetically modified products since July 2004, when it approved imports of modified corn by Monsanto to be used in animal feed.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

From protecting Constitution to Perino's T-Day cookery...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

Fearing that President Bush would again use the congressional recess to install executive branch appointees without Senate confirmation, Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) gaveled in a 30-second Senate session yesterday. "This is an exercise in protecting the Constitution and our constitutional process," Webb said. Civic Action is taking on Facebook for infringing user privacy. "MoveOn is objecting to a new advertising technique that Facebook announced a few weeks ago that posts members' purchases and activities on other websites in their Facebook profiles." Take action here.

"Americans enter the holiday season in a dark mood, with economic worries, security fears and a lack of confidence in government fueling growing pessimism, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday." The number of Americans who believe the country is on the right track fell from 26 percent to 24 percent in the last month, with about two-thirds believing it is headed in the wrong direction.

Two groups of scientists yesterday revealed that they "succeeded in turning human skin cells into cells that are very similar -- but not identical -- to embryonic stem cells." Experts, however, cautioned that it is unclear "whether the new cells will be as effective as conventional embryonic stem cells may prove to be against certain disease."

Salon's Glenn Greenwald sets Joe Klein straight on his factual misrepresentations about FISA reform. Klein writes in Time that Democrats' proposal fix to FISA would require "every foreign-terrorist target's calls to be approved by the FISA court." Greenwald responds, "Everyone -- from Russ Feingold to the ACLU -- agreed that FISA never intended to require warrants for foreign-to-foreign calls that have nothing to do with U.S. citizens."

The Supreme Court has agreed to "review an appeals court decision that struck down a 31-year-old Washington D.C., ban on pistols." "The court's examination of the meaning of the Second Amendment for the first time in nearly 70 years carries broad implications for gun-control measures locally and across the country."

"The conflict in Afghanistan has reached 'crisis proportions,' with the resurgent Taliban present in 54 percent of the country and "closing in on Kabul," according to the Senlis Council, an independent think tank. To "prevent NATO's defeat at the hands of the Taliban, a rejuvenated 'coalition of the willing' is needed," the report said.

$99: Price of crude oil, a new record. "The market is now really looking at $100 a barrel as the next target to hit," said Victor Shum, an energy analyst in Singapore.

And finally: The Washington Examiner asked White House Press Secretary Dana Perino "what she likes to make for Thanksgiving." Her response? "Glass of red wine. Directions: 1. Buy bottle of red wine, 2. Un-cork the bottle, 3. Pour wine into glass."


Good reading coming with these books....

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


Amy Greene's BLOODROOT, A multigenerational saga set in the heart of Appalachia that centers on a young girl raised by her grandmother on remote Bloodroot Mountain, and the legacy of place -- and madness -- that her twin children inherit, to Robin Desser at Knopf, by Leigh Feldman at Darhansoff, Verrill, Feldman (NA).

Danielle Evans' BEFORE YOU SUFFOCATE YOUR OWN FOOL SELF, a story collection about young African-American women struggling to transcend their pasts, plus a novel, to Sarah McGrath at Riverhead, at auction, for publication in 2009, by Ayesha Pande at Collins Literary (NA).

Teri Coyne's debut novel SKIN AND BONES, about a young woman who returns home after an absence of more than a decade when her mother commits suicide, leaving her a note that leads her to confront the mysteries of the family's past, to Jane von Mehren and Porscha Burke for Ballantine by Jean V. Naggar at Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency (NA).


Bestselling UK nonfiction author Titania Hardie's debut novel THE ROSE LABYRINTH, which centers on a mystery that begins in 17th century England with Elizabeth I's royal astrologer and unravels to present-day London, where a beautiful, brilliant young woman, still recovering from a heart transplant, embarks on a dangerous adventure in search of the secrets behind the Rose Labyrinth, to Judith Curr at Atria, with Sarah Branham editing, by Robin Straus at Robin Straus Agency, on behalf of Quadrille Publishing and Andrew Nurnberg Associates (NA).

Foreign sales previously, by Andrew Nurnberg Associates, to: Headline in the UK, Heyne in Germany, Uniebock in Holland, Piemme in Italy, Santillana in Spain, Patakis in Greece, Pearl in Thailand, Eksmo in Russia, Noxi in the Czech and Slovak Republics, Nemira in Romania, and Ainari in Serbia and Montenegro.

A second mystery and suspense novel by Titania Hardie, to Atria, by Robin Straus, on behalf of Andrew Nurnberg Associates.

Marley Gibson's series GHOST HUNTRESS, featuring a transplanted Chicago teen who begins to experience a psychic awakening, then forms a ragtag ghost hunting team to research and battle the belligerent ghosts in her historic Southern town, to Julia Richardson at Houghton Mifflin, in a very nice deal, for three books, by Deidre Knight of The Knight Agency (NA).

MERCY author Alissa York's Giller-nominated second novel, EFFIGY, about a teenage survivor of Utah's eighteenth-century Mountain Meadows Massacre who becomes a taxidermist and the fourth wife of a Mormon elder, to Kathleen Gilligan at Thomas Dunne Books, for publication in fall 2008, by Denise Bukowski at The Bukowski Agency (US). Rights previously sold in Canada, Holland, France, and Italy.

Elyssa East's DOGTOWN: Island Heart of Darkness, an exploration of a wild, unpopulated, enchanted place with a dark past on Massachusetts' Cape Ann, and a provocative examination of the powerful and often dangerous influence that certain places exert on the psyche, all brought into focus by a brutal murder, to Wylie O'Sullivan at Free Press, for publication in September 2009, by Brettne Bloom at Kneerim & Williams (NA).


Two-time Pulitzer winner David McCullough's AMERICANS IN PARIS, spanning more than one hundred years to tell the stories of the many gifted, ambitious, young Americans (including James Fenimore Cooper, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Samuel F. B. Morse, Marry Cassatt. John Singer Sargent, Edith Wharton, Stephen Vincent Benet, Langston Hughes, and Josephine Baker) whose time in Paris changed their lives and thus the course of American literature, medicine, art, architecture, music and dance, again to Simon & Schuster, with Michael Korda editing, for publication in 2010, by Mort Janklow at Janklow & Nesbit.

Jonathan Fenby's A HISTORY OF MODERN CHINA: The Fall and Rise of a Great Power, 1850-2008, the essential work to understanding modern China and its terrible past, crammed with surprising and interesting stories and a study of the nature of a political power and its abuse, to Dan Halpern at Ecco, for publication in July 2008, by Sarah Hunt Cooke at Penguin UK (US).

Decorated war hero/private military contractor in the Iraq War and other global areas of conflict John Geddes's HIGHWAY TO HELL, the diary of a PMC's activities on the ground there, including a critical discussion of Blackwater and the future of modern warfare, to Charlie Conrad at Broadway, for publication in Fall 2008, by Barbara Zitwer Agency, on behalf of Robert Kirby at United Agents (US).


Laurie Sandell's THIS IS MOUNT RUSHMORE, a graphic memoir about a celebrity-dazzled magazine writer who discovers her larger-than-life father is in fact a monumental con man, to Judy Clain at Little, Brown, for publication in July 2009, by Amanda Urban at ICM (world).

Perfect From Now On author John Sellers's THE OLD MAN AND THE SWAMP, a chronicle of the outdoor-averse author's travels in the swamps of southern Michigan to catch snakes with his eccentric and recently estranged father, a former Lutheran minister who left the church and his family decades ago to pursue his singular fascination with reptiles, to Brant Rumble at Simon & Schuster, by Jud Laghi at LJK Literary Management (NA).


Music Director for "American Idol" and for the Grammys, Emmys, and Super Bowl Rickey Minor's THERE'S NO TRAFFIC ON THE EXTRA MILE: WINNING ON 'AMERICAN IDOL' OR IN LIFE, imparting career and life lessons drawn from the author's rise from the streets of South Central Los Angeles to success as heir to Quincy Jones and being acknowledged as one of the leading architects of popular music, to Bill Shinker and Erin Moore at Gotham, by Paul Bresnick at Paul Bresnick Agency (world).


Sports columnist for the Boston Herald and co-author of NYT bestseller BIG PAPI Tony Massarotti's DYNASTY: The Inside Story of How the Red Sox Became a Baseball Powerhouse, an in-depth, behind the scenes look at how the Red Sox became successful, to Marc Resnick at St. Martin's, in a very nice deal, for publication in April 2008, by Scott Waxman at Waxman Literary Agency.


Vets outraged...and they should be...

From :

Off To War Again. . .and Again and Again. . . .
by: war-junkie
Wed Nov 21, 2007 at 15:21:15 PM EST

(Note to Bush administration: This is not how you run a war. From the diaries - promoted by Brandon Friedman)

Well here I go. . .again. I am off for my war for my fifth tour in the "War on Terrorism". The average Vietnam vet served 365 days in country. In WWII the average soldier was deployed for two years. For this next deployment to Iraq I will spend 455 days in Iraq. As of now I have 36 months "in country". When (and if) I live through this next deployment I will have 51 months. That means I will have deployed for four years and three months total time deployed.

Can someone tell me what the hell is going on? Why am I spending more time in war than my father and grandfather combined? I am not sure that the government or my country has my soldiers or my best interest's at heart. Not to mention my family who goes through hell every time I deploy.

I have six soldiers who are not only stop-lossed but they are not being paid. That's right--they will be deploying with no pay. The Army has made sure that their orders for stop-loss were issued but somehow forgot to inform the finance department. Now they are fighting to pay bills, put food on their family's tables and buy the items they need for this deployment. I can't help but wonder what it's all about when one of these soldiers has to borrow money to buy diapers. Should all the NCOs' have to pool their money to pay an electric bill for a soldier?

There's More... :: (17 Comments, 298 words in story)

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Prez Debate Moderator...a great idea!!!

From In These Times:

Views > November 20, 2007
Tax and Spend? Hell, Yeah!
By Susan J. Douglas

I have a proposal for the next Democratic debate—hell, the next Democratic and Republican debates: Get rid of the TV personalities and have Paul Krugman moderate the thing.

That way, “Meet the Press” host Tim Russert won’t be asking Rep. Dennis Kucinich if he’s really seen a UFO, or Sen. Barack Obama if he believes in E.T.s. And NBC anchor Brian Williams won’t be asking Obama what he plans to be for Halloween. (And why is that what he asked the black guy?)

All Krugman would have to do is ask questions based on his important new book, The Conscience of a Liberal, which unabashedly calls for a new New Deal and for “expanding the social safety net and reducing inequality.” He argues that the central danger confronting us is the ongoing transfer of wealth to the very rich, which has led to massive economic and political inequality.

This has been the determined and successful agenda of the neocon movement. But with all their “free market” mumbo jumbo, neoconservatives make the rise of the super-rich seem inevitable. If hedge fund managers and Wall Street traders making anywhere from $50 million to $1.5 billion a year is simply the natural order of things, then what can the rest of us do but be fatalistic? Well, Krugman is here to lay out what should be the Democratic platform.

First, tax these bloodsuckers. Why does anyone need $50 million a year? What do you do with it—buy five houses in Aspen like Enron’s Ken Lay did? Krugman provides a historical overview of the role that taxes played in reversing the Gilded Age’s concentration of wealth among the super rich from the 1930s through the ’70s. But the Reagan and Dubya tax cuts “delivered disproportionately large benefits to upper-income households.” Clinton raised taxes on the rich, but the economy—and the rich—did just fine in the ’90s.

Second, boot those tax cuts. Krugman reports that if the Bush tax cuts for the very rich expire in 2010—as they are currently slated to do—there would be an additional $140 billion rolling into the national treasury by 2012. That’s enough to implement universal healthcare.

Third (and how’s this for a winning proposal), eliminate the loophole that allows hedge fund managers to classify their earnings as capital gains, which are taxed at a 15 percent rate instead of the normal 35 percent.

Possibly one reason some American corporations pay their CEOs obscene money and pornographic severance packages is the decline in corporate tax rates. Taxes on their profits have fallen by a quarter over the past 30 years, and additional loopholes let corporations avoid taxes by shifting their recorded profits to branches or operations overseas.

What’s the first thing we should spend this revenue on? Healthcare. That’s because healthcare is one of the principal—and very expensive—areas of inequality in the United States. While Rudy Giuliani brays that we have the best healthcare system in the world, Krugman compares U.S. per capita spending with Canada, France, Germany and Britain. Guess who spends the most? And guess who has the lowest life expectancy? In fact, the World Health Organization ranks the U.S. healthcare system 37th in the world.

Krugman debunks the usual trash one hears neocons spouting about universal healthcare, including the bogus scare tactics about “long waits,” and argues that, in economic terms, single-payer is the way to go. It has low administrative costs and enables bargaining over prices. But he acknowledges the possible political obstacles and offers other options, some of which have been proposed by John Edwards, Obama and even Hillary.

But Krugman’s foundational argument is that we must discredit the neocons’ insistence that government regulation is bad and that the state’s intervention to moderate the excesses of capitalism is unnecessary. He shrewdly notes how movement conservatives have for 40 years twinned this mantra with race-baiting policies and rhetoric that portrays poor people of color—not the rich white fat cats—as the problem.

Krugman maintains that a majority of Americans are ready to revive the demand that it is government’s responsibility to protect its citizens and to prevent the consolidation of a plutocracy. Economic inequality has further corrupted our politics, but Krugman ends his book on a positive note: Movement conservatism has become “intellectually decrepit” while progressive politics gathers real steam.

For years, Republicans tarred Democrats as “tax and spend liberals.” Just as gays and lesbians reclaimed the word “queer” as a move of empowerment, Democrats should embrace the “tax and spend” moniker. Taxing and spending is what advanced, industrialized countries do. And they do it to promote equitable societies.

Yes, tax the rich and big corporations and spend it on the rest of America: Let’s spend it on healthcare for all, on decent schools for our kids, on environmental protections, on a consumer products safety commission, on universal pre-school, on a cure for AIDS and, most of all, let’s tax and spend to develop paths to peace.

Susan J. Douglas is a professor of communications at the University of Michigan and author of The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How it Has Undermined Women.


Maybe justice won't be denied in torture case....

From International Herald Tribune:

Torture and accountability
Published: November 19, 2007

Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian, was stopped at Kennedy Airport in 2002 while returning from a family vacation. After being held in solitary confinement in a Brooklyn detention center and interrogated without proper access to a lawyer, he was spirited off to Syria. He was tortured there for months before officials decided that their suspicions that he was a member of Al Qaeda were mistaken and let him go.

Arar was a victim of extraordinary rendition, America's notorious program of outsourcing interrogations to governments known to use torture. He has sued the United States for denying him his civil rights. Now, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has to decide whether to compound the mistreatment, by agreeing to throw out Arar's lawsuit, as the Bush administration is asking.

The government won the last round. In February 2006, a lower court judge in Brooklyn, David Trager, blocked Arar's suit entirely, ruling that rendition cases like this one raise foreign policy questions inappropriate for court review. Trager also accepted groundless, and by now familiar, administration claims of secrecy and national security. Among its other defects, the ruling runs counter to a pair of 2004 Supreme Court decisions that made clear that the war on terror does not exempt government actions from court review.

At a court hearing this month, a Justice Department lawyer argued against reinstating Arar's lawsuit. The government contends that he should have appealed his order of removal to Syria, and claims that the Constitution does not apply to noncitizens who suffer injury abroad. This is a nervy tack, given the ample precedent to the contrary and the fact that the administration first denied Arar's access to a lawyer and then sent him to the country where he was tortured.

Canada's response to Arar's nightmare has been very different.

After conducting an extensive investigation, the government offered him millions of dollars and an apology for having told U.S. agents that Arar was suspected, wrongly, of being an extremist.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has conceded that the United States had mishandled the case but refused to apologize.

Arar deserves justice. Much more is at stake than fairness for one individual. By allowing Arar to pursue his claims, and rejecting the administration's attempt to put them beyond the reach of American law, the appeals court can provide a vital measure of justice and accountability for torture.


Bad things happening...

From Washington Post via

Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann | Losing Afghanistan

From The Washington Post, Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann, write: "The road between the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad and the Pakistani border is one of the busiest in the country, congested with gaily painted trucks, battered taxis, buses packed to the rafters and Afghans riding bikes. One morning in early March, a suicide bomber plowed a Toyota packed with explosives into the middle of a U.S. convoy patrolling that road, killing himself and injuring a Marine. That was bad enough, but what may be the key to Afghanistan's future was what happened next."

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From No Debates for New Orleans to Novak's chariot...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

"New Orleans lost out in the competition to host one of the 2008 presidential debates Monday after the commission that selects the sites decided that the city has not sufficiently recovered from Hurricane Katrina to handle such a major event."

CQ reports that Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) "is ready to play nice when considering President Bush's latest round of nominees to fill a raft of vacancies in the upper echelons of the Justice Department." After Bush reportedly called him at home, Leahy pledged, "I'm going to try to move as quickly as I can on them."

CBS's "60 Minutes" is gathering information in Alabama about the case of incarcerated former Gov. Don Siegelman. Siegelman's prosecution was opposed by Justice Department prosecutors and was reportedly interfered with by Bush administration political operatives.

While the violence in Baghdad declines, "northern Iraq has become more violent than other regions as al-Qaida and other militants move there to avoid coalition operations elsewhere." "What you're seeing is the enemy shifting," Army Maj. Gen. Mark P. Hertling told reporters yesterday.

Law professors David Cole of Georgetown University and Jules Lobel of the University of Pittsburgh published a Report Card on the war against terrorist networks in this weekend's Los Angeles Times. The chart combines visual and statistical depictions of the cost of the administration's failing strategy. View it here.

When the House voted on Iraq redeployment legislation last week, three Republicans -- Reps. Chris Shays (CT), Jim Walsh (NY) and Phil English (PA) -- "voted to order withdrawal for the first time," likely influenced by the tough re-election campaigns they face in '08.

"US contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan more than doubled from 2004 to 2006 to over 25 billion dollars but government oversight of the firms involved has slackened," reports the Center for Public Integrity. Former Halliburton subsidiary KBR topped the list with more than $16 billion in U.S. contracts.

"Apparel retailer Gap is canceling half of its orders with a vendor in India and promises to donate $200,000 to improve working conditions there. The move comes after revelations that some of its clothes were made by children as young as 10."

And finally: "Robert Novak is a prince, all right, and every member of royalty needs a chariot befitting his title. That must be why the right-leaning columnist and author of 'Prince of Darkness' was spotted pulling up to the Capitol on Friday in his sleek (and slightly menacing-looking) black Corvette convertible."


Prosecute 'em to the fullest extent of the law....

From NY Times via :

Bob Herbert | A Swarm of Swindlers

Bob Herbert writes for The New York Times, "One aspect of the so-called mortgage crisis that hasn't been adequately explored is the extent to which predatory lenders have committed fraud against vulnerable homeowners. They have pushed overpriced loans and outlandish fees on hapless victims who didn't understand - and could not possibly have met - the terms of the contracts they signed.... This is an issue crying out for a thorough federal investigation."

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Monday, November 19, 2007

From Read or regret it, to Missing his mouth....

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

"Americans are reading less and their reading proficiency is declining at troubling rates," says a new report by the National Endowment for the Arts. The trend could have "a profound negative effect on the nation's economic and civic future," the report warns.

"Senate Democrats appear ready to omit Iraq withdrawal timelines from a supplemental spending bill in hopes of clearing in December funds for the troops -- but House leaders have no intentions of following suit." Two powerful voices in the Senate -- Carl Levin (D-MI) and Daniel Inouye (D-HI) -- both suggested Democrats would strip withdrawal language in December.

Speaking to the National Bank of Kuwait yesterday, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said that "Iran is far from acquiring a nuclear weapon" and that he believes it is "unlikely" that the United States will strike the Islamic Republic militarily.

"The number of economists forecasting the U.S. will slip into recession almost doubled over the last two months, according to a survey by the National Association for Business Economics."

The U.S. dollar has fallen to historic lows against both the euro and the yen as worries about the strength of the U.S. economy continue. The drop has been precipitated by the U.S. credit crisis, which has caused foreign investors to "pull some of their investments out of U.S. markets and put them in other countries."

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made his fourth trip to Iran in two years today, "as the two countries sought to strengthen ties while their leaders exhort the international community to resist U.S. policies." Chavez said the dollar was in free-fall and that its "empire" must end, and proposed trading oil in a basket of currencies excluding the dollar.

Three members of Iraq's national soccer team have left the country and are seeking asylum in Australia. When the team won the prestigious Asian Cup in July, their victory was hailed as an "inspirational triumph for a team whose players straddle bitter and violent ethnic divides."

And finally: Last week during House debate on home-lending legislation, Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC) tried to "knock down the idea that risky mortgages are 'innovative' financial products." To illustrate his point, he offered up a metaphor: "Mr. Chairman, this necktie is an innovation. ... Ten years ago, you could not buy a silk necktie that was stain-resistant. And for those folks like me who tend to miss their mouth from time to time, the cost in new neckties in any given year was hundreds of dollars."


Russia, US agree. Best news in a long time...

From AP via

US, Russia Agree on Plutonium Disposal

According to The Associated Press, "US and Russian officials announced agreement Monday on how to safely dispose of 34 metric tons of Russian weapons-grade plutonium, overcoming a major hurdle in a joint nuclear nonproliferation effort that at times has been close to falling apart."

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Illegal immigration...another look...

From David Sirota:

The Immigration Con Artists

By David Sirota
Creators Syndicate, 11/16/07

I once got suckered by con artists. As I was walking by, they baited
me into betting that I could guess which shell a little ball was
under. Moving the shells at lightning speed, they diverted my
attention and tricked me into taking my eye off the ball. When I lost
the bet, I felt bamboozled, just like we all should feel today
watching the illegal immigration debate. After all, we're witnessing
the same kind of con.

To read the full nationally syndicated newspaper column, go to:

If you have trouble with that link, just go to {}

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Calif. wildfires and earthquakes...

From :

Robert T. Nanninga | Observations From the Edge

Writing for Truthout, Robert T. Nanninga says, "California has always lived on the edge. On the edge of the continent, on the edge of the Pacific Ocean and on the edge of disaster. Famous for its earthquakes, it is its wildfires that cause the most damage and loss of life and property."

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No confusion about what's torture and what's not....

From :

FOCUS | Elizabeth de la Vega:
Real DOJ Trial Attorneys on Torture

Former assistant US attorney Elizabeth de la Vega writes for Truthout, "If there is one thing the Bush administration is good at, it's talking points: simple, stupid slogans. And when it comes to torture, the theme du jour is that we are all too simple and too stupid to understand just what is and is not prohibited.... They are, plainly and simply, wrong. It is long past time for them to listen to what the real prosecutors in the Department of Justice have to say."

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Go drink elsewhere....UGH!

From Charleston W VA News:

A Nightmare Behind the Kitchen Door

Reported by: Patrick McMurtry
Videographer: Larry Clark
Web Producer: Patrick McMurtry
November 15, 2007 5:21pm

You've heard about mouse droppings in food bins, spoiled food on buffet tables and roach infestations in our Behind the Kitchen Door series. This time, Patrick Mcmurtry has a special report with what he calls the most disgusting thing he's seen since he's been doing these reports.

Inspectors found a nasty odor in the Aristocrat bar in Huntington. They went back and discovered the disgusting truth, the nasty odor was coming from fluids oozing from the bar owner's legs. Carl Scarberry is the owner of the Aristocrat. The bar remains open despite years of health reports showing the floors were soiled from blood and bodily fluids from leg ulcers.

I finally caught up with Mr. Scarberry. His legs weren't leaking, but they were swollen, red and yellow. The place smelled horrible and we weren't even allowed to go inside.

The last inspection we found showed there was still a foul odor from the exudate draining from Scarberry's legs.

Mills says there is nothing the Cabell County Health Department can do to shut the aristocrat down permanently.

But that doesn't fly with folks who find it hard to believe this kind of is allowed to go on in the 21st century.

But as it stands now, the
Aristocrat can stay open with the bodily fluids oozing for years to come.

We don't know what exactly Carl Scarberry is suffering from. Cabell County health officials say unless the law is changed, nothing can be done to protect you from places like the Aristocrat bar.


World ends in the spring...Hoo-boy....

From AP via Times UK:

From The TimesNovember 17, 2007

Doomsday cult in cave stand-off

MOSCOW Followers of a doomsday cult who have barricaded themselves into a cave near the Volga river have threatened to blow themselves up if authorities intervene.

The 29 members of the cult, including four children, have taken food supplies and fuel underground near Nikolskoye, a village in Penza region that is about 650km (400 miles) southeast of Moscow, because they believe that the world will end in the spring, Yevgeny Guseynov, a regional spokesman, said.

Pyotr Kuznetsov, 43, the leader of the cult who has not joined his followers, many of whom are women, has undergone a psychiatric evaluation and been charged with setting up a religious organisation that is associated with violence. Mr Kuznetsov established the True Russian Orthodox Church after leaving the official Church.

Russian Orthodox monks have climbed down the snow-covered gully to try to make contact with the cult, but members have refused to speak to them. They have exchanged letters with their leader and are in contact with doctors who have offered them medical supplies. (AP)


Friday, November 16, 2007

From Thanksgiving food cost to Justice Thomas...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

"U.S. consumers will pay 11 percent more for the traditional Thanksgiving meal this year, due in part to higher energy costs, the American Farm Bureau Federation said on Thursday."

Ever since Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency, he has been "the most unpopular figure in the country." But "running a close second" is "his ally: President Bush." "[W]hy isn't the U.S. standing up for Pakistan when we need it most?" asked Islamabad resident Parveen Aslam. "We are calling them Busharraf now. They are the same man."

"A confidential 2003 manual for operating" Guantánamo Bay shows that military officials had a policy of denying detainees access to independent monitors from the International Committee of the Red Cross." The manual allows "some long-term detainees" to have "no contact of any kind with the I.C.R.C."

"Some government scientists" charge "that officials at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History" ordered last-minute changes to an exhibit on the Arctic to add "scientific uncertainty" about climate change because of "global-warming skeptics in the Bush administration."

After Hurricane Katrina, Mississippi "was required by Congress to spend half of its billions in federal grant money to help low-income citizens. ... But so far, the state has spent $1.7 billion in federal money on programs that have mostly benefited relatively affluent residents and big businesses." Just 10 percent of the funds have gone to help poor residents.

Satellite imaging has revealed that "hurricanes Katrina and Rita produced the largest single forestry disaster on record in the nation," killing or severely damaging about 320 million trees in the area. The die-off "will add significantly to the global greenhouse gas buildup," researchers say.

"Working until dawn, negotiators on Friday concluded a policy guide for governments on global warming that declares climate change is here and is getting worse." The report is to be released Saturday by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

And finally: Early in his address at yesterday's Federalist Society 25th anniversary gathering, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas announced, "You know, it's really hard to talk up here when this guy in front of me keeps moving." The Washington Post's Dana Milbank notes that he "was referring to a television screen on the floor in front of him that was showing his own image -- but because nobody but Thomas could see the TV, nobody knew what he was talking about. 'It's me! I see myself moving around!' Thomas explained, then let out a resonant laugh: 'Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!'"