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Undernews for May 1, 2008

Undernews for May 1, 2008

FROM THE PROGRESSIVE REVIEW
Washington's Most Unofficial Source
611 Pennsylvania Ave SE #381
Washington DC 20003
202-423-7884
Editor: Sam Smith

1 MAY 2008

WORD

What is mind? No matter. What is matter? Never mind. - Thomas Hewitt Key

PAGE ONE MUST

AFGHANISTAN: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED?

PROGRESS REPORT In a press conference, President Bush said, "I think we're making progress in Afghanistan" -- days after President Hamid Karzai was the subject of an attempted assassination plot. The Interior Ministry said the Taliban, nearly vanquished from the country in 2001, admitted to launching the attack. These rounds of violence are the latest in what has been an eroding situation over recent years. . .

2007 was the bloodiest year in Afghanistan since 2001, with 6,000 killed in the country. Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, who commands U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said violence in 2008 "may well reach a higher level than it did in 2007," as insurgents pour in from Pakistan. "This year won't be different," he said. The attempted assassination of Karzai "came as the latest sign of a trend" that the insurgency in Afghanistan "is spreading from the Taliban stronghold of the south to the central and northern regions of the country," Christian Science Monitor reported this week. Furthermore, "there is no security force in Afghanistan that people trust," according to member of parliament Ramazan Bashardost. He added that, after a recent attack, "the security forces fled the area before the ordinary people did." Afghanistan also has rates of illiteracy "among the highest in the world," a "weak and corruption-ridden government," and still retains the world's largest opium poppy crop.

According the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief, "Western countries have failed to deliver $10 billion of nonmilitary assistance pledged to Afghanistan over the last six years and the United States, by far the biggest donor, is responsible for half of the shortfall." Funding for Provincial Reconstruction Teams, which Bush "has called the leading edge of stabilization efforts," is "ad hoc and comes from so many sources that congressional investigators were unable to determine how much has been spent," a House Armed Service Committee report said last week. Overall, 42 percent of Afghans rate U.S. efforts in Afghanistan positively," down from 68 percent in 2005 and 57 percent last year, according to a December ABC News poll.

PATIENT CONDEMNED TO DEATH FOR HAVING USED MARIJUANA

GENE JOHNSON, ASSOCIATED PRESS Timothy Garon's face and arms are hauntingly skeletal, but the fluid building up in his abdomen makes the 56-year-old musician look eight months pregnant. His liver, ravaged by hepatitis C, is failing. Without a new one, his doctors tell him, he will be dead in days.

But Garon's been refused a spot on the transplant list, largely because he has used marijuana, even though it was legally approved for medical reasons. "I'm not angry, I'm not mad, I'm just confused," said Garon, lying in his hospital bed a few minutes after a doctor told him the hospital transplant committee's decision Thursday.

With the scarcity of donated organs, transplant committees like the one at the University of Washington Medical Center use tough standards, including whether the candidate has other serious health problems or is likely to drink or do drugs.

And with cases like Garon's, they also have to consider - as a dozen states now have medical marijuana laws - if using dope with a doctor's blessing should be held against a dying patient in need of a transplant.

Most transplant centers struggle with the how to deal with people who have used marijuana, said Dr. Robert Sade, director of the Institute of Human Values in Health Care at the Medical University of South Carolina.

"Marijuana, unlike alcohol, has no direct effect on the liver. It is however a concern ... in that it's a potential indicator of an addictive personality," Sade said.

A CONVENIENT DEATH

FEW DEATHS could cause as much relief in Washington as did the alleged suicide of DC Madam Deborah Jean Palfrey. One need only consider the rapid demise of Governor Eliot Spitzer after it was discovered he had used a similar escort service to realize that Palfrey was not welcomed by many of the capital's powerful men as a living repository of their sexual habits.

We are not speaking of a small number. Palfrey estimated her business involved some 10,000 clients - most in and around the most powerful city in America.

This is not to say that Palfrey did not commit suicide, only that her name may be reasonably added to those whose cause of death can not be - and may never be - firmly determined.

She will not be the first such death in recent American politics. At least nine persons involved in some way with the Clintons also committed suicide under less than certain circumstances, most notably Vincent Foster. Nearly 30 others also suffered from Arkansas sudden death syndrome, but clearly at someone else's hand.

What we do know about Palfrey is that her operation had some 10,000 male clients, and not one has been subject to legal prosecution. Two of the women involved, Jean Palfrey and Brandy Britton, both allegedly committed suicide and both by hanging. Palfrey indicated she didn't know whether Britton killed herself, saying, "There are many, many family members who say this was not the case." When radio host Alex Jones said to Palfrey in 2007, "And you're not planning to commit suicide," Palfrey responded, "And I'm not planning to commit suicide."

There is no apparent logic for the massive legal assault on Palfrey. In fact, prostitution isn't even a federal crime; she was charged under federal racketeering law. When her house was raided a year and a half ago, the swat squad went through everything but curiously ignored 46 boxes of information about her clients. Interestingly also, the attack began in earnest immediately after Palfrey had put her house on the market, closed her business, and transferred some money to Germany where she planned to retire. In fact, she was in Germany when US postal inspectors, pretending to be home buyers, illegally sought entrance into her house from a realtor without a warrant.

You add up the little pieces and it is clear that something much bigger than prostitution was involved. Was Palfrey being threatened because she had, in effect, decided to leave the mob taking along her many tales? Was she a bit player in some much larger blackmail operation? And did she end her life or did someone do it for her?

Our approach to such matters is to treat them as open cases. We do not presume a conspiracy, but neither do we accept the establishment's approach of rushing to the conclusion most comfortable to itself. In this case, for example, there are some 10,000 members of the establishment with a vested interest in not examining the evidence too much.

We do know that the Palfrey case was one of the strangest prosecutions the capital has ever seen. Judges, prosecutors, the media and the political elite all seemed extraordinarily determined to put a cap on how much information the case revealed. So far, they have been quite successful.

AP The body of Deborah Jeane Palfrey was found in a shed near her mother's home about 20 miles northwest of Tampa. Police said the 52-year-old Palfrey left at least two suicide notes and other writings to her family in a notebook, but they did not disclose their contents. Palfrey apparently hanged herself with nylon rope from the shed's ceiling. Her mother discovered the body. . . Blanche Palfrey had no sign that her daughter was suicidal, and there was no immediate indication that alcohol or drugs were involved, police Capt. Jeffrey Young said. . .

"I am sure as heck am not going to be going to federal prison for one day, let alone, you know, four to eight years here, because I'm shy about bringing in the deputy secretary of whatever," Palfrey told ABC last year when she released phone records that revealed some of her clients. "Not for a second. I'll bring every last one of them in if necessary."

Dan Moldea, a Washington writer who befriended Palfrey while considering writing a book about her, said she was cautiously optimistic about her trial, even when the case went before the jury. After the conviction, Moldea sent her an e-mail but didn't hear back. A week later, he said, he sent another note entitled "A Concerned Friend" asking whether she was OK. Again, he didn't hear back. After hearing of her death, he recalled a conversation over dinner last year when the subject of prison came up. "She said, 'I am not going back to prison. I will commit suicide first,'" Moldea said.

TIME Palfrey contacted Moldea last year to provide her help writing a book. "She had done time once before [for prostitution]," Moldea recalls. "And it damn near killed her. She said there was enormous stress - it made her sick, she couldn't take it, and she wasn't going to let that happen to her again." . . .

When a former employee of Palfrey's, Brandy Britton, hanged herself before going to trial, Palfrey told the press, "I guess I'm made of something that Brandy Britton wasn't made of."

Palfrey's trial, which concluded in mid-April with a conviction, is one of very few such cases prosecuted in the federal courts. Most prostitution violations are dealt with at the state or municipal level, and attract little publicity. In the Palfrey case, prosecutors obliged a string of obviously embarrassed clients and employees of the escort service to appear on the witness stand and testify under oath. Nearly all testified that they had engaged in sexual acts in exchange for money, a version of events that contradicted Palfrey's claims that she had been running a high-end sexual fantasy service - and that any actual sexual activity was against the rules, and clearly stated when employees were hired. . .

It was Palfrey's phone records that led to problems for prominent Washington figures once her prosecution got under way. She had thousands of pages, including 10,000 to 15,000 numbers of clients calling in to her California residence. Besides Sen. Vitter, others whose names appeared on those records included Randall Tobias, a senior State Department official in charge of foreign aid - who had publicly inveighed against prostitution and who quickly resigned after his name was made public. Harlan Ullman, a well-known military specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, was also identified.

According to Moldea, who last year examined Palfrey's phone records and discovered the name of Vitter, a Republican, as a client of Palfrey's escort service - Pamela Martin & Associates - the last time he saw Palfrey in person was less than week before her conviction on prostitution charges on April 15. "A friend and I met with Jeanne and we had a sushi lunch near the courtroom," he said. "She was upbeat and hopeful. She felt the prosecution had not made the case and that she was going to walk. She was hopeful to the end." But, when the jury came in with her conviction, she reportedly was taken aback. "When I heard that I knew that, for her, it was all over. There is no question in my mind that she took her own life."

HUGH SPRUNT, CAS BB - [Palfrey] undertook a number of actions prior to her death that were not consistent with a despondent/depressed person contemplating suicide. . . She tried to get her hands on at least one stock investment (that was declining in value like many stocks these days) so she could sell it and reinvest the proceeds (The feds had seized her investments as security for her being able to pay any fine associated with her eventual criminal penalties that likely would include a lot of jail time). Her attorneys and at least some of the reporters who covered her story have stated that she didn't appear suicidal to them. .

RADIO INTERVIEW WITH DEBORAH JEAN PALFREY

TELEVISION INTERVIEW WITH DEBORAH JEAN PALFREY

BACK STORY

PROGRESSIVE REVIEW, MARCH 2008 - One thing is clear about the so-called DC Madam aka Deborah Jeane Palfrey case: there is a stunning contrast between the lid being kept on the names of male clients in this matter and the interest of the media compared to the speed with which Eliot Spitzer name became notorious in a similar DC case. Admittedly the alleged charges for a prostitute in the DC Madam case were far less than in the Emperor operation, but both were sufficient to attract the police.

Investigative journalist Wayne Madsen reported a name in the DC Madam case that was even more famous than Spitzers' but there has been no denial and no libel suit, not to mention a striking lack of curiosity by the Washington press. Our own best guess as to why the DC Madam client list is being handled so gingerly: the appearance on it of too many good news sources not to mention the possibility of a few well known. media types as well.

Madsen reported dozens of high profile clients as well as a gag by top executives on the ABC reporters who were allowed to see the telephone list, allegedly after pressure from the White House. The story, in any case, is bizarre to say the least:

DEBORAH JEANE PALFREY, JULY 2007 - During the period when the decision to take the records off the market was made, Senior Executive Producer Rhonda Schwartz for Brian Ross, of ABC News, in New York approached [attorney] Mr. Sibley and me about the records. Told ABC News "does not pay for information," they nonetheless would incur in our circumstance the expense of culling the billing invoices for possible witnesses, leads and general information, which ultimately could be beneficial to my defense.

Having gotten estimates at the time for the cost to research and back-track telephone numbers, along with subsequent owner data (tens of thousands of dollars), we gladly accepted ABC's offer of assistance. In return, ABC asked that they be given exclusivity regarding the first public interview with me and more importantly, all of the phone records for years 1993 to 2006.

While the laborious task of copying and transferring the enormous amount of data to ABC was ongoing, the government went to Judge Kessler and obtained the current restraining order prohibiting either my civil counsel, Mr. Sibley or me from further distribution of the records. The government's justification for the temporary injunction was witness harassment and intimidation -- having abandoned its prior rationalization, i.e. asset forfeiture. Consequently, ABC received only 80% of years 2002 thru 2006.

Contrary to popular belief, they never had a complete set of all 13 years. In the final analysis, it really didn't matter whether ABC had 4 years or 13, their constant assurances and reassurances to Mr. Sibley and me that they could be trusted with my story -- for the almost two months they researched 2002 to 2006 -- fell flat on May 4, when the much hyped, sweep's week 20/20 broadcast failed to deliver even one revelation; this despite, a major ad campaign blitz on the part of the network to the contrary. Both Mr. Sibley and I can attest to the fact -- having been an integral part of the 7 1/2 week vetting process -- that there were and are noteworthy names to be named, in the four years. Why ABC chose to jump ship seemingly at the eleventh hour would be pure speculation, here. The bottom line is that they did and by doing so, they did a tremendous disservice to the American people.. .

WAYNE MADSEN REPORT MAY 2007 - The corporate media still does not get it about the so-called "Washington Madam" case. Beyond just another titillating DC sex scandal, this affair involves the U.S. Attorneys firings, massive bribery involving military and homeland security contracts, and potential blackmail of high government officials. WMR can report that Disney and ABC executives spiked the Washington Madam story at the very last . . . The decision by Disney and ABC to kill the 20/20 story resulted in a shocked news staff at ABC News' DeSales Street bureau across the street from the Mayflower Hotel, one of the rendezvous points for some Pamela Martin clients. Our sources stated that Ross, Schwartz, Rood, and others at ABC tried their best to get the story out but were overruled by senior executives at ABC in New York and Disney headquarters in Burbank, California who, in turn, were under heavy pressure from the Bush White House.

The Washington Madam case also involves criminal conspiracy and malfeasance within the Justice Department, Internal Revenue Service, and Postal Inspection Service. Palfrey's case file was not opened until June 2004 after she had been in business for over a decade without any pressure from the government. After Baltimore Police Commissioner and later Maryland State Police Superintendent Ed Norris was charged in May 2004 with three criminal counts by US Attorney Thomas DiBiagio, the IRS opened a file on Palfrey the following month. It is clear that with Norris, a 20 year veteran of the New York Police Department, facing up to 30 years in prison, he entered into a plea bargain with DiBiagio. In return for his cooperation, which included Norris naming Pamela Martin as one of the recipients of Baltimore Police supplemental accounts money, he got six months in prison and six months home detention. Norris now hosts a radio show in Baltimore.

DiBiagio's assistant US Attorney Jonathan Luna, who once worked at the Brooklyn District Attorneys' office when a probe was being conducted of both Norris and his friend, former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, was on to Norris' corruption in Baltimore. Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley appointed Norris as police commissioner but soon became disenchanted with his performance. After his relection as Governor in 2002, Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich appointed Norris as Maryland State Police Superintendent. Luna was brutally murdered near the Pennsylvania Turnpike in December 2003.

DC CITY DESK, MAY 2007 The judge in the Jeanne Palfrey case has issued a temporary restraining order on Palfrey and her civil attorney to keep them from releasing more information about her clients to the news media. This strengthens suspicions that the judge and ABC News - which was given Palfrey's records - may be trying to suppress some of these names, especially since one the names being circulated around town is an extremely high White House official. Basically, the problem is this: if Jean Palfrey committed a crime so did all her clients and they are not entitled to the protection they are being given. In the best of worlds, prostitution would not be a crime but under the circumstances there is only one honest choice in this matter: either drop the case or open the files. Otherwise it is fair to wonder whether there is a cover-up going on of criminal activity by prominent Washingtonians

NEWS 8, DC, MAY 2007 - A lawyer for alleged Washington madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey wants ABC News to disclose the identity of a federal prosecutor identified in a recent news report as a client of Palfrey's escort service. In a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Palfrey's civil lawyer, Montgomery Blair Sibley, contends that the Justice Department should compel ABC to disclose the prosecutor's identity and whether he had any role in the Palfrey investigation. .

BALTIMORE EXAMINER, MAY 2007 - A woman accused of running a Washington-area prostitution ring says former University of Maryland professor Brandy Britton worked for her. Britton told The Examiner before her death that she previously worked for an escort service called East Coast Elites, but she never mentioned Deborah Jeane Palfrey or her firm, Pamela Martin & Associates, during a series of interviews with this newspaper. . . Britton committed suicide in January, days before she was scheduled to stand trial on prostitution charges and be evicted from her $600,000 Ellicott City home. She faced up to a year in prison on each count, but Howard County prosecutors said that if convicted, she likely wouldn't have served any time. Britton's Howard County police file makes no mention of Palfrey or her escort service. Police said Britton was working alone when arrested in January 2006, and they have not connected her case to Palfrey. . . Although Britton said her clients included "police, lawyers and judges," her notes don't appear to include the names of prominent people. They contain many partial names and code names, including notes for appointments with men identified only as "Robert," "Bernard" and "David." Next to their names, she sometimes wrote the callers' purported occupations, such as "Dr." or "Accountant." Britton was a former assistant professor of sociology and anthropology at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She resigned in 1999. . . . "I thought I would hate the job, and I'd just have to do it," she said. "But I really liked it, and I made some really good friends, and I like men more than I ever did before. It's a long story, but as a feminist it made me see things differently. They love their families and their kids. They're good guys that really love their wives."

ABC NEWS BLOTTER - MAY 2007 Some of the most in-demand women working for the "D.C. Madam" were in their 50s, according to the woman at the center of the scandal. "There was never an age limit. I hired women well into their 50s," Deborah Jeane Palfrey told ABC News. "They were some of the most popular women on staff.". . . From career professionals to graduate students, most women who came to Palfrey to work did so because they needed money -- to pay off credit card debt, cover school loans or pay tuition fees, according to Palfrey. . . "Many of these girls were a lot of talk and no action -- as most people seem to be from time to time," Palfrey said. Many applicants would initially be very willing, but when they went on their first appointment "they just freeze and they think, 'I don't know if I can do this.'". . . "It was very boring, mostly," Palfrey told ABC News. "Very 'Groundhog Day,' the same thing over and over and over and over, and over. For me, anyway.". . . For their part, the clients were typically decent to Palfrey's women, she said. "I had many gals tell me that their boyfriends treated them, oh, just purely awful. And they would go to many of these appointments, and the man would have roses waiting for them. And nobody had ever given them roses before.". . . "I think I empowered a lot of women. I got a lot of women through graduate school. I think the people that used the service were by and large quite pleased."

CHANNEL 9 - MAY 2007 - A legal secretary at one of Washington's most prominent and well-connected law firms, Akin Gump Strauss Houer & Feld LLP, has been suspended after telling her bosses she secretly worked at night for the escort service run by the so-called D.C. Madam, Jeane Palfrey. The woman both serviced clients and, at times, helped to run the business, Palfrey told ABC News in an interview to be broadcast on "20/20" Friday. The firm said it would not make her name public.

According to e-mails the woman sent to Palfrey on her Akin Gump account, she "enjoyed and even missed" the work she did at night for Palfrey, who has been charged by federal prosecutors with running a large scale prostitution ring. "Perhaps not the weekly grind, but was thinking that a day a week would be fun and spa money," the legal secretary wrote to Palfrey last year, after Palfrey had closed her business and was considering whether to re-open it.

The Akin Gump secretary was described by Palfrey as an "absolutely lovely gal," who was working as an escort "to go back to school and get her education, to finish her college degree."

Considered one of the most powerful firms in Washington, Akin Gump partners make up a who's who of Washington insiders, including Vernon Jordan, former Speaker of the House Tom Foley, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman and co-founder Robert Strauss, an adviser to numerous presidents.

CAROL D. LEONNIG, WASHINGTON POST MAY 2007 - A former client of the woman accused of being the D.C. madam is trying to block his name from being aired on an ABC News program about her escort business and the men who patronized it, saying publicity would amount to witness intimidation, ABC said yesterday. In a letter to ABC, Steven Salky, the man's attorney, wrote that he has "reason to believe" that his client could be named tomorrow in a "20/20" report about an alleged prostitution ring run by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, ABC said. Salky would not identify the man. The client expects to be a prosecution witness in Palfrey's federal trial on racketeering charges, Salky told ABC. Identifying him would violate a court order barring harassment of potential witnesses, he said. . .

CHANNEL FOUR, DC APRIL 2007 - A woman charged with running a D.C.-area prostitution ring on made good on her threat to identify high-profile clients, naming a military strategist who developed the combat theories known as "shock and awe" as a regular customer in court papers. Harlan K. Ullman, a senior associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, was named in court papers filed by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, who is acting as her own lawyer. Ullman, in a brief telephone interview, declined comment on the claim. "The allegations are beneath the dignity of a comment," he said. . . Palfrey said in her motion that Ullman "is only one of dozens of such officials" who will be exposed as she prepares her defense.

HENRY K LEE, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, APRIL 2007 - Palfrey's business records include 46 pounds of phone bills of some 15,000 clients of her business, Pamela Martin and Associates, Sibley said. Palfrey originally threatened to sell those records to pay for her defense, but a judge barred her from doing so. Authorities said Palfrey's alleged prostitution ring involved 132 college-educated women and generated more than $2 million.

SMOKING GUN, MARCH 2007 - Federal prosecutors want to gag an indicted former Washington, D.C. madam who has recently threatened to go public with details about her former customers. In a motion filed Monday in U.S. District Court, investigators are seeking a protective order covering discovery material to be provided to Deborah Palfrey and her lawyers.

Palfrey, 50, was indicted last week on racketeering and money laundering charges stemming from her operation of the Pamela Martin & Associates escort service, which closed last summer after 13 years in business. In their motion, government lawyers claim that some discovery documents contain "personal information" about Palfrey's former johns and prostitutes that is "sensitive." . . .

According to the prosecution motion, while Palfrey and her lawyers would be able to use the discovery material to help prepare a defense, they would not be allowed to disclose the documents to anyone else (nor use the material for any other purposes). Palfrey, whose assets were frozen late last year, has recently floated the idea of selling her escort business's phone records. She has also "made statements that could be considered veiled threats to cause embarrassment to former customers and employees," according to the motion. . . .

Before closing her business, Palfrey operated a web site touting Pamela Martin & Associates as "the best adult agency around," claiming that it had an "ongoing repeat clientele rate of 65-75%." Palfrey's site also advertised for escorts. Prospective hookers, she noted, had to be at least 23 years old with two or more years of college. And her $275-an-appointment employees had to be "weight proportionate to height."

MAKING IRAQ SAFE FOR DISNEYLAND

MICHEL CHOSSUDOVSKY, GLOBAL RESEARCH Disneyland goes to war-torn Iraq, with a multi-million dollar entertainment complex, to be built on a 50 acre lot adjacent to the Green Zone. The American-style amusement park will feature a skateboard park, rides, a concert theatre and a museum.

General David Petraeus, is said to be a "big supporter" of bringing Disneyland to Baghdad. Supported by the Pentagon, an unknown Los Angeles based holding company C3 of private equity investors, will be developing the "Baghdad Zoo and Entertainment Experience". The park will be designed by Ride and Show Engineering.. . .

Establishing an American cultural outpost in an occupied land serves to uphold the legitimacy of the invaders and their Worldwide "cultural values". . . . Under this "reconstruction effort", America is to donate 200,000 California style skateboards to Iraqi children. The skateboard is a symbol of American pop culture, which has attracted "a tough, independent, and rebellious type of urban youth, who have created their own subculture." What happens when you export the colorful skateboard from Los Angeles, California to Baghdad. . .

The Baghdad Disneyland-style project has all the essential features of a PsyOp. It is intended to instill American values and destroy Iraqi identity. "The people [of Iraq] need this kind of positive influence. Its going to have a huge psychological impact," said Mr. Werner of C3.

The US investment company will essentially take possession of municipal lands in an undisclosed deal reached with the Mayor of Baghdad. . .

The site is a functioning national park, which is slated for privatization. It is prime real estate for the US investors. The California holding company C3 plans to use the land for lucrative investments in hotels and upscale housing: "I wouldn't be doing this if I wasn't making money":

NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE IGNORES NATURAL OPTIONS

NATURAL NEWS In an article included in the latest edition of Cancer Monthly's free newsletter CancerWire, researchers analyzed statistics obtained through the National Cancer Institute in order to gain a clearer perspective on what type of cancer research is being undertaken in the country. . .

The authors found that of the 7,080 clinical trials for cancer currently ongoing, over 3,000 are focused on chemotherapy -- a treatment that already has over 50 years of research to its credit with relatively little practical return on investment. Of the remaining trials, over 2,000 were focused on more advanced biological treatments such as anti-angiogenesis drugs, which work to cut off the blood supply to tumors.

In all, only 123 of the trials deal with any type of alternative or complementary treatment. "These 123 represent only 1.7% of the total and included trials of various foods, herbs and modalities such as: soy, ginger, Valerian, Curcumin, acupuncture, Reiki, meditation, garlic, Green tea, and Tai Chi," the authors state.. . .

"The overwhelming majority of these trials examined questions that did not focus on whether these approaches alone improved survivability from cancer," the authors report. What this means is that the treatments were actually being evaluated not as treatments, but as adjunctive therapies to improve the rate and intensity of symptoms among those patients already undergoing conventional therapy.

Of the 7,080 clinical trials for cancer currently underway in the U.S., only three focus on natural alternative methods of treating the disease.

GREAT MOMENTS AT KBR

DAVID IVANOVICH HOUSTON CHRONICLE KBR employees working in Iraq stole weapons, artwork and even gold to make spurs for cowboy boots, two former company workers told Senate Democrats on Monday.

Some explosive testimony this afternoon from a panel of whistleblowers testifying before the Senate's Democratic Policy Committee on contractor abuse in Iraq.

A contractor died when a DynCorp manager used an employee's armored car to transport prostitutes, according to Barry Halley, a Worldwide Network Services employee working under a DynCorp subcontract.

"DynCorp's site manager was involved in bringing prostitutes into hotels operated by DynCorp. A co-worker unrelated to the ring was killed when he was traveling in an unsecure car and shot performing a high-risk mission. I believe that my co-worker could have survived if he had been riding in an armored car. At the time, the armored car that he would otherwise have been riding in was being used by the contractor's manager to transport prostitutes from Kuwait to Baghdad."

Other revelations:

- Kellogg Brown & Root contractors used to destroy countless quantities of still-usable equipment that was difficult to transport in "massive burn pits" that were "burning 24 hours a day."

- KBR's ice foreman "was cheating the troops out of ice at the same time that he was trading the ice for DVDs, CDs, food and other items at the Iraqi shops across the street."

- When KBR whistleblower Frank Cassaday reported weapons looting, he was placed in a jail tent by KBR security.

- KBR employees looted Iraqi palaces for treasure to sell on eBay.

THERE'S MONEY IN THEM THAR TERRORISTS

IAN S. LUSTICK, CONSORTIUM NEWS Why, absent any evidence of a serious domestic terror threat, is the War on Terror so enormous, so all-encompassing, and still expanding? The fundamental answer is that al-Qaeda's most important accomplishment was not to hijack our planes, but to hijack our political system.

For a multitude of politicians, interest groups, professional associations, corporations, media organizations, universities, local and state governments and federal agency officials, the War on Terror is now a major profit center, a funding bonanza, and a set of slogans and sound bites to be inserted into budget, project, grant and contract proposals. .

In mid-2003, the Department of Homeland Security compiled a list of 160 potential terrorist targets, triggering intense efforts by representatives, senators and their constituents to find potential targets in their districts that might require protection and therefore be eligible for federal funding. The result? Widened definitions and blurrier categories of potential targets and mushrooming increases in the infrastructure and assets deemed worthy of protection.

By late 2003, the list had increased more than tenfold to 1,849; by 2004 it had grown to 28,364; by 2005 it mushroomed to 77,069; and by 2006 it was approximately 300,000. . .

The National Rifle Association declared that the War on Terror means more Americans should own firearms to defend against terrorists. . .

Schools of veterinary medicine called for quadrupling funding to train veterinarians to defend the country against terrorists using foot-and-mouth disease to decimate cattle herds. . .

In May 2007, Augusta, Ga., officials authorized spending $3 million to protect fire hydrants against terrorist tampering. This spending decision was recommended by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, which cited a 2004 government report labeling hydrants "a top vulnerability."

Universities also have benefited from the ready availability of new grant and contract funds, creating graduate programs in homeland security, institutes on terrorism and counterterrorism, and proposals for academic conferences. . .

In 2004, I attended a lecture given by the official in charge of encouraging scientists to shift their research activities in this direction. We were told that no matter what topics we worked on, and whether we were natural scientists or behavioral scientists, our work likely could help in the fight against terrorism.

LA INVESTIGATES ALLEGATION OF RACIAL PROFILING FOR SIX YEAR: CAN'T FIND ONE CASE

JOEL RUBIN, LOS ANGELES TIMES Los Angeles Police Department officials announced Tuesday that they investigated more than 300 complaints of racial profiling against officers last year and found that none had merit -- a conclusion that left members of the department's oversight commission incredulous. It is at least the sixth consecutive year that all allegations of racial profiling against LAPD officers have been dismissed, according to department documents reviewed by The Times.

NYC LEADER IN POT CHARGES. . .OVER HALF OF ARRESTEES ARE BLACK

JIM DWYER, NY TIMES A study released Tuesday reported that between 1998 and 2007, the police arrested 374,900 people whose most serious crime was the lowest-level misdemeanor marijuana offense.
That is more than eight times the number of arrests on those same charges between 1988 and 1997, when 45,300 people were picked up for having a small amount of pot. . .

Nearly everyone involved in this wave of marijuana arrests is male: 90 percent were men, although national studies show that men and women use pot in roughly equal rates.

And 83 percent of those charged in these cases were black or Latino, according to the study. Blacks accounted for 52 percent of the arrests, twice their share of the city's population. Whites, who are about 35 percent of the population, were only 15 percent of those charged - even though federal surveys show that whites are more likely than blacks or Latinos to use pot.

Among the pretty large population of white people who have used pot and not been arrested for it is Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Asked during the 2001 campaign by New York magazine if he had ever smoked it, Mr. Bloomberg replied: "You bet I did. And I enjoyed it." After he was elected and his remarks were used in advertisements by marijuana legalization advocates, Mr. Bloomberg said his administration would vigorously enforce the laws.

GITMO SAYS CONDITIONS DROVE CLIENT INSANE

WILLIAM GLABERSON, INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE Next month, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni who was once a driver for Osama bin Laden, could become the first detainee to be tried for war crimes in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. By now, he should be busily working on his defense.

But his lawyers say he cannot. They say Hamdan, already the subject of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, has essentially been driven insane by solitary confinement in a tiny cell where he spends at least 22 hours a day, goes to the bathroom and eats all his meals. His defense team says he is suicidal, hears voices, has flashbacks, talks to himself and says the restrictions of Guantanamo "boil his mind."

"He will shout at us," said his military defense lawyer, Lieutenant Commander Brian Mizer. "He will bang his fists on the table."

His lawyers have asked a military judge to stop his case until Hamdan is placed in less restrictive conditions at Guantanamo, saying he cannot get a fair trial if he cannot focus on defending himself. The judge is to hear arguments as soon as Monday on whether he has the power to consider the claim.

Critics have long asserted that Guantanamo's climate-controlled isolation is a breeding ground for insanity. But turning that into a legal claim marks a new stage for the military commissions at Guantanamo. . .

With their filings, Hamdan's lawyers are setting the stage for similar challenges to the procedures of Guantanamo in some 80 expected war crimes cases, lawyers for other detainees say. "The issue of mistreatment of prisoners, the miserable lives they live in these cells, will come up in every case," said Clive Stafford Smith, a lawyer for 35 detainees. . .

In more than six years of detention, Hamdan has had two phone calls to his family and no visits. He has been disciplined, legal filings say, for having a Snickers bar that was given to him by his lawyers and for possessing too many socks. "Conditions are asphalt, excrement and worse," he wrote his lawyers in February. "Why, why, why?"

HOW TO CAST A BALLOT IN INDIANA NOW THAT THE SUPREME COURT HAS REINTRODUCED VOTER SEGREGATION

BRAD BLOG For those wondering what a legally registered voter needs to do to successfully cast a ballot in Indiana so that it might be counted, in the event the voter doesn't currently own a state-issued photo ID (no, military ID is not acceptable) we thought we'd offer a handy quick guide:

Note: It doesn't matter if you've voted in every single election for the last 40 or 50 years at the same polling place. . . You'll still need to do the following if you don't happen to have an IN drivers license:

How to cast a ballot in Indiana, if you don't currently have a state-issued ID:

- Find your birth certificate or passport. If you don't have either, you might be able to apply to the state to get a copy of your birth certificate, if you happened to have been born there, for just $12. A passport may cost you $100 . . .

- Get yourself to a Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Don't let the fact that you don't drive, or have a car, or have access to public transportation, as in many counties in Indiana, stop you from getting to the BMV before Election Day.

- Do the above every four years, without fail, or risk not being able to vote like everyone else at the polls in Indiana on Election Day.

If you fail in any step above, don't have the money to afford the necessary documents, or have a religious objection to having your photo taken, do not to worry. Indiana has you covered. . .

- When you get to the polls, and are told you can't vote like everyone else, because you have no state-issued ID, you'll get to vote on a provisional ballot (hopefully, at least that's the law).

- Don't forget to sign the affidavit on the ballot, stating that you are who you say you are, before dropping it into the box, so officials can match your polling place Election Day signature with your voter registration form signature.

- Before 10 days have elapsed after you've voted, you must now figure out how to get a ride to the county seat, however far that may be from where you live. Get to the courthouse there, and then sign yet another affidavit, similar to the one you signed on Election Day at the polling place on your provisional ballot, attesting again to the fact that you are you. And then maybe, just maybe, if that signature is also judged to match your registration, then your vote might be counted. . .

As Scalia and friends noted in their decision yesterday, "the burden at issue is minimal" So what could those losers on the Supreme Court have been thinking, just 42 years ago, when they struck down a simple $1.50 poll-tax on the grounds that it might keep some voters from being able to cast their legal vote? Silly them.

STATELINE The Supreme Court's ruling upheld an Indiana law requiring all voters to present photo ID. Indiana is one of three states that require photo IDs, but other states make voters produce other kinds of identification, which can include bills, bank statements or paychecks:

Every first-time voter: Kansas Pennsylvania

First-time voters who registered by mail: California Idaho Illinois Iowa Maine Maryland Massachusetts Minnesota Mississippi Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New York North Carolina Oklahoma Oregon Rhode Island Utah Vermont West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming

Every voter: Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas Colorado Connecticut Delaware Kentucky Missouri Montana New Mexico North Dakota Ohio South Carolina Tennessee Texas Virginia Washington

Every voter must show a photo ID: Florida Georgia Indiana

Every voter is asked to show a photo ID: Hawaii Louisiana Michigan South Dakota

The court's 6-3 decision leaves the door open for future legal challenges, if proof is presented that voters couldn't cast their ballots because of the new rules- evidence that the court said was missing from the Indiana case. But the court didn't specify how many people must be affected for it to consider striking down the law.

"It's going to be an uphill battle for anybody who would want to (challenge the Indiana law) just because the state interests are so strong" in holding fraud-free elections, said Indiana Solicitor General Tom Fisher. Fisher defended the law at oral arguments before the high court. . .

Under the Indiana law, registered voters must present a government-issued photo ID - such as a driver's license - to take part in the elections. Voters without proper identification can cast provisional ballots, but those count only if those voters show a photo ID at a county election office within 10 days.

Republicans muscled the law through the Indiana General Assembly without a single Democratic vote when the GOP still controlled both chambers.

WHAT CARTER'S MISSION ACHIEVED

JIMMY CARTER, NY TIMES The Carter Center had monitored three Palestinian elections, including one for parliamentary seats in January 2006. Hamas had prevailed in several municipal contests, gained a reputation for effective and honest administration and did surprisingly well in the legislative race, displacing the ruling party, Fatah. As victors, Hamas proposed a unity government with Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah as president and offered to give key ministries to Fatah, including that of foreign affairs and finance.

Hamas had been declared a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel, and the elected Palestinian government was forced to dissolve. Eventually, Hamas gained control of Gaza, and Fatah is "governing" the Israeli-dominated West Bank. Opinion polls show Hamas steadily gaining popularity. Since there can be no peace with Palestinians divided, we at the Carter Center believed it important to explore conditions allowing Hamas to be brought peacefully back into the discussions. (A recent poll of Israelis, who are familiar with this history, showed 64 percent favored direct talks between Israel and Hamas.)

Similarly, Israel cannot gain peace with Syria unless the Golan Heights dispute is resolved. Here again, United States policy is to ostracize the Syrian government and prevent bilateral peace talks, contrary to the desire of high Israeli officials.

We met with Hamas leaders from Gaza, the West Bank and Syria, and after two days of intense discussions with one another they gave these official responses to our suggestions, intended to enhance prospects for peace:
• Hamas will accept any agreement negotiated by Mr. Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel provided it is approved either in a Palestinian referendum or by an elected government. Hamas's leader, Khaled Meshal, has reconfirmed this, although some subordinates have denied it to the press.
• When the time comes, Hamas will accept the possibility of forming a nonpartisan professional government of technocrats to govern until the next elections can be held.
• Hamas will also disband its militia in Gaza if a nonpartisan professional security force can be formed.
• Hamas will permit an Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian militants in 2006, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, to send a letter to his parents. If Israel agrees to a list of prisoners to be exchanged, and the first group is released, Corporal Shalit will be sent to Egypt, pending the final releases.
• Hamas will accept a mutual cease-fire in Gaza, with the expectation (not requirement) that this would later include the West Bank.
• Hamas will accept international control of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, provided the Egyptians and not the Israelis control closing the gates.
In addition, Syria's president, Bashir al-Assad, has expressed eagerness to begin negotiations with Israel to end the impasse on the Golan Heights. He asks only that the United States be involved and that the peace talks be made public.

Through more official consultations with these outlawed leaders, it may yet be possible to revive and expedite the stalemated peace talks between Israel and its neighbors. In the Middle East. . . the path to peace lies in negotiation, not in isolation.

NO HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL PLAYER LEFT BEHIND

All teams must make the state playoffs and all must win the championship.

If a team does not win the championship, it will be on probation until they are the champions, and coaches will be held accountable. If after two years they have not won the championship their basketballs and equipment will be taken away until they do win the championship.

All players will be expected to have the same basketball skills at the same time, even if they do not have the same conditions or opportunities to practice on their own. No exceptions will be made for lack of interest in basketball, a desire to perform athletically, or genetic abilities or disabilities of themselves or their parents.

All students will play basketball at a proficient level

Talented players will be asked to workout on their own, without instruction. This is because the coaches will be using all their instructional time with the athletes who aren't interested in basketball, have limited athletic ability or whose parents don't like basketball.

Games will be played year round, but statistics will only be kept in the 4th, 8th, and 11th games.

If parents do not like this new law, they are encouraged to vote for vouchers and support private schools that can screen out the non-athletes and prevent their children from having to go to school with bad basketball players.

- Author unknown

FREEDOM BEAT

PROFESSOR'S SON PUT IN FOSTER HOME BECAUSE FATHER WASN'T UP ON COMMERCIAL TRENDS
PHIL LEGGIERE, DON'T TASE ME, BRO'
If you watch much television, you've probably heard of a product called Mike's Hard Lemonade. And if you ask Christopher Ratte and his wife how they lost custody of their 7-year-old son, the short version is that nobody in the Ratte family watches much television.

The way police and child protection workers figure it, Ratte should have known that what a Comerica Park vendor handed over when Ratte ordered a lemonade for his boy three Saturdays ago contained alcohol, and Ratte's ignorance justified placing young Leo in foster care until his dad got up to speed on the commercial beverage industry. . .

Ratte is a tenured professor of classical archaeology at the University of Michigan, which means that, on a given day, he's more likely to be excavating ancient burial sites in Turkey than watching "Dancing with the Stars" -- or even the History Channel, for that matter.

The 47-year-old academic says he wasn't even aware alcoholic lemonade existed when he and Leo stopped at a concession stand on the way to their seats in Section 114.

"I'd never drunk it, never purchased it, never heard of it," Ratte of Ann Arbor told me sheepishly last week. "And it's certainly not what I expected when I ordered a lemonade for my 7-year-old."

But it wasn't until the top of the ninth inning that a Comerica Park security guard noticed the bottle in young Leo's hand.

"You know this is an alcoholic beverage?" the guard asked the professor.

"You've got to be kidding," Ratte replied. He asked for the bottle, but the security guard snatched it before Ratte could examine the label. Mistake or child neglect?

An hour later, Ratte was being interviewed by a Detroit police officer at Children's Hospital, where a physician at the Comerica Park clinic had dispatched Leo -- by ambulance -- after a cursory exam.

Leo betrayed no symptoms of inebriation. But the physician and a police officer from the Comerica substation suggested the ER visit after the boy admitted he was feeling a little nauseated.

The Comerica cop estimated that Leo had drunk about 12 ounces of the hard lemonade, which is 5% alcohol. But an ER resident who drew Leo's blood less than 90 minutes after he and his father were escorted from their seats detected no trace of alcohol.

"Completely normal appearing," the resident wrote in his report, "he is cleared to go home."

But it would be two days before the state of Michigan allowed Ratte's wife, U-M architecture professor Claire Zimmerman, to take their son home, and nearly a week before Ratte was permitted to move back into his own house.

POLITICS

TRIPPI REGRETS NOT GETTING EDWARDS TO STAY IN THE RACE

POLITICAL WIRE Joe Trippi had one shot to convince John Edwards to stay in the presidential race but "for the first time in thirty years of political work, I didn't go with my gut."

"I didn't tell him what I should have told him: That I had this feeling that if he stayed in the race he would win 300 or so delegates by Super Tuesday and have maybe a one-in-five chance of forcing a brokered convention. That there was a path ahead that would be extremely painful, but could very well put him and his causes at the top of the Democratic agenda. And that in politics anything can happen -- even the possibility that in an open convention with multiple ballots an embattled and exhausted party would turn to him as their nominee. I should have closed my eyes to the pain I saw around me on the campaign bus, including my own. I should have told him emphatically that he should stay in. My regret that I did not do so -- that I let John Edwards down -- grows with every day that the fight between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama continues."

DON'T CRY FOR ME, ARKANSAS

Nostalgic moments from the Clinton years

WILLIAM SAFIRE, NEW YORK TIMES When Hillary Rodham Clinton's third and final choice for Attorney General was put in place, Janet Reno soon discovered the A.G. de facto was Mrs. Clinton's Arkansas law partner, Webster Hubbell: in the aftermath of the Branch Davidian disaster in Waco, Tex., it was the trusted Associate Attorney General Hubbell, not Reno, whom the White House consulted. The moment that revealed the distance between the third-choice A.G. and the President came when she told Tom Brokaw she was unable to talk to Bill Clinton immediately after the suicidal fire; instead, Webb Hubbell was the point of contact.

DEPARTMENT OF GOOD STUFF

ACTIVISM: HOW TO GET A POLICE CHIEF TO BACK OFF SNEAKY, ILLEGAL SEARCHES

DC's police chief Kathy Lanier came up with a plan to get people to allow officers to search their homes for any object by granting them immunity only from the city' gun law. The local ACLU, led by Johnny Barnes, got on the case with a door to door information campaign that soon turned into a neighborhood march. With this sort of protest, Chief Lanier soon backed off of her sneaky search scheme.
HELEN THOMAS ASKS TOUGH QUESTIONS
ABOUT TORTURE; ONLINERS SEND HER FLOWERS

PHOTO BY FITCHMICAH


TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR OUR TIMES

1. Put an end to the capitalist system

2. Renounce wars

3. A world without imperialism or colonialism

4. The right to water

5. Development of clean energies

6. Respect Mother Earth

7. Treat basic services as human rights

8. Fight inequalities

9. Promote diversity of cultures and economies

10. Live well, not live better at the expense of others.

- Evo Morales, President of Bolivia

BREVITAS

POLITICS

The possibility of the host of MSNBC's "Hardball" Christopher Matthews, running against Senator Specter of Pennsylvania, a Republican, for Mr. Specter's senate seat in Pennsylvania is intensifying. Although Mr. Matthews said to Bill Maher of HBO that he's "not getting involved in it" when asked about whether he would seek the position in 2010, it is odd to employ his television program in a way that would make him a favorable candidate to run for senator of Pennsylvania as a Democrat. Mr. Matthews, who is from the Philadelphia area, broadcasted his show from Philadelphia during the week of the Pennsylvania primary. Political figures that appeared on his national show were the mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter, and an African-American congressman of Philadelphia, Chaka Fattah. In addition, Mr. Matthews interviewed on "Hardball" the chairmen of the Democratic committees of Allegheny, Montgomery, and Lackawanna counties, James Burn Jr., Marcel Groen, and Harry McGrath, local figures vital to any statewide candidacy. . Unlike those of the entertainment world, Mr. Matthews would be the rare person attempting to move from the press. He would be a test case for the notion that interrogating, blustering, and posturing on cable television can prepare one for a life of questioning and public speaking on the floor of the Senate. - NY Sun

Presidential candidate Ralph Nader told an audience in Connecticut the U.S. government has been taken over by big business. In a fundraiser at a former bank building in Waterbury, the long-shot independent said "global corporations" were exercising unchecked power and basically running every government department and agency. "Think of that," Nader said. "We've lost our government." He went on to say he could never return to his roots as a consumer advocate since there were no agencies in Washington that would do anything other than what corporate leaders wanted.

Peter Dreier, Huffington Post A few months ago, Sid Blumenthal, a former Clinton White House aide who is now a top advisor to Hillary Clinton's campaign, circulated a scurulous article, "Obama's Communist Mentor," taken from an extreme right-wing group. It turns out that this was hardly an exception. Blumenthal, who has been widely credited with coining the term "vast right-wing conspiracy" used by Hillary Clinton in 1998 to describe the alliance of conservative media, think tanks, and political operatives that sought to destroy the Clinton White House, is now exploiting that same right-wing network to attack and discredit Barack Obama. And he's not hesitating to use the same sort of guilt-by-association tactics that have been the hallmark of the political right dating back to the McCarthy era. Blumenthal regularly dispatches emails to a list of opinion shapers, including journalists, former Clinton administration officials, academics, policy entrepreneurs, and think tankers -- an obvious effort to create an echo chamber that will reverberate among talk shows, columnists, and Democratic Party funders and activists.

Just hours before the Indiana and North Carolina presidential primaries, ABC News has offered to air a 'town hall' meeting with Hillary Clinton -- to be hosted by former Clinton staffer George Stephanopoulos.. . . It is not clear if ABCNEWS will inform viewers of Stephanopoulos's past employment. Stephanopoulos helped run Mr. Clinton's first presidential election campaign and acted as his press secretary and advisor on policy and strategy before joining ABC News. . . The network hit controversy last month over the decision to allow Bill Clinton's former press secretary to moderate a debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama -- without any disclaimer. - Drudge Report

Al Franken's admission Tuesday night that his corporation had owed $70,000 in back taxes and penalties in 17 states threatens to upend what has been until now a disciplined, on-message campaign against one of the GOP's most vulnerable incumbents. The story of Franken's failure to pay the taxes - on income earned from celebrity appearances and speeches - was front-page news Wednesday in the state's two biggest newspapers, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Franken told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the unpaid taxes were a result of his accountant's error, and all of the back taxes "are a repercussion of the same mistake." Franken's corporation also failed to pay $25,000 in worker's compensation insurance to his employees in New York - a potentially glaring vulnerability, given that he's been running as an advocate of middle-class voters.

London will be electing a new mayor using a modified form of instant run off voting. As Rob Richie of Fair Vote explains: London has "limited IRV" -- only two rankings, and the race immediately goes to the top two choices. This year there are 11 candidates, but two clear frontrunners -- so the great majority of voters likely will rank one of them as their first or second choice. Click for an animated explanation

MONEY & WORK

Fewer than 2000 homeowners facing foreclosure have been assisted by the so-called FHA Secure program, which was heralded by President Bush last August as a plan to help vulnerable homeowners. The Federal Housing Administration program was supposedly designed to provide homeowners with an option to refinance their unaffordable subprime loans. In other news, the Times reported that the federal plan to make it easier to get jumbo mortgages, loans over $417,000, and to "raise the ceiling for loans backed by government-sponsored housing finance agencies to nearly $730,000 in the nation's costliest locations," is failing miserably. "Democratic lawmakers estimate that at least 1.5 million people have fallen behind on their mortgage payments. Yet from October 2007 through the end of March, only 1729 delinquent mortgages were refinanced by F.H.A. housing statistics show." It's not difficult to understand why. The program requires that out of the past 12 months applicants must make 10 on-time payments. Which means that, by design, the program is suited for people who don't need the help in the first place.

At Craigslist, which has become a kind of online flea market for the world, the number of for-sale listings has soared 70 percent since last July. In March, the number of listings more than doubled to almost 15 million from the year-ago period. Craigslist CEO Jeff Buckmaster acknowledged the increasing popularity of selling all sort of items on the Web, but said the rate of growth is "moving above the usual trend line." He said he was amazed at the desperate tone in some ads. Like a Georgia teenager whose mother lost her job and whose ad pleaded, "Please buy anything you can to help out." Or like Alabama mobile home resident Ellona Bateman-Lee, whose husband was disabled in 2006 by an electric shock on the job as a dump truck driver: "Among her most painful sales: her grandmother's tea kettle. She sold it for $6 on eBay." - Alternet

ACTIVISM

Six longtime Maine anti-war activists arrested last year for refusing to leave the Federal Building when it closed for the day were found not guilty Wednesday of criminal trespass. A Penobscot County Superior Court jury deliberated for 2½ hours after a two-day trial. . . After the verdict was announced about 1:45 p.m., the defendants, their attorneys and their supporters celebrated on the steps of the courthouse in between interviews with reporters. . . "To be honest, I'm a little incredulous," Freeman said after the verdict. "I thought there was a remote chance that we'd have a hung jury, but I didn't expect this. The fact that this was a not-guilty verdict says something about the way the wind is blowing in this state. . . District Attorney Almysaid the verdict most likely would affect whether his office prosecutes protesters arrested in the Federal Building in the future. "At this point," Almy said, "we're going to have to consider the precedent that this verdict sets and we may very well have to consider giving these cases to the U.S. attorney to prosecute because this state court case may preclude successful future prosecutions. Also, I would like to say that Snowe and Collins got us involved in this mismanaged war and it may be up to them to persuade the U.S. attorney to take on these cases." - Bangor Daily News

HEALTH & SCIENCE

Nataline Sarkisyan, a 17-year-old cancer patient who died in December waiting for a liver transplant, drew national attention when former presidential candidate John Edwards lambasted her health insurer for refusing to pay for the operation. But what went largely unnoticed is that Ms. Sarkisyan's hospital, UCLA Medical Center, a nonprofit hospital that is part of the University of California system, refused to do the procedure after the insurance denial unless the family paid it $75,000 upfront, according to the family's lawyer, Tamar Arminak. The family got that money together, but then the hospital demanded $300,000 to cover costs of caring for Nataline after surgery, Ms. Arminak says. UCLA says it can't comment on the case because the family hasn't given its consent. A spokeswoman says UCLA doesn't have a specific policy regarding upfront payments, but works with patients on a case-by-case basis. Federal law requires hospitals to treat emergencies, such as heart attacks or injuries from accidents. But the law doesn't cover conditions that aren't immediately life-threatening. - Wall Street Journal

WAR DEPARTMENT

Army officials said that they are "inspecting every barracks building worldwide to see whether plumbing and other problems revealed at Fort Bragg, N.C., last week are widespread." "We let our soldiers down," said Brig. Gen. Dennis Rogers, who is responsible for maintaining Army barracks. A video shot by the father of a soldier showed problems such as a "bathroom drain plugged with sewage."

FURTHERMORE. .

San Francisco Chronicle Rocky Twyman - a community organizer, church choir director and public relations consultant from the Washington, D.C., suburbs - staged a pray-in at a San Francisco Chevron station, asking God for cheaper gas. He did the same thing in the nation's Capitol, with volunteers from a soup kitchen joining in. Today he will lead members of an Oakland church in prayer. "God is the only one we can turn to at this point," said Twyman, 59. "Our leaders don't seem to be able to do anything about it. The prices keep soaring and soaring.". . . To solve the problem, Twyman isn't begging the Lord for any specific act of intervention. He is not asking God to make OPEC pump more oil. Nor is he praying for all the speculative investors to be purged from the New York Mercantile Exchange, where crude oil is traded. Instead, he says anyone who wants to follow his example should keep it simple. "God, deliver us from these high gas prices," Twyman said. "That's all they have to say."

Annals of Improbable Research "The Emotional Force of Swearwords and Taboo Words in the Speech of Multilinguals," J.M. Dewaele, Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, vol. 25, nos. 2–3, 2004, pp. 204–22 . This paper investigates the perception of emotional force of swearwords and taboo words (S-T words) among 1039 multilinguals. . . Participants who learned their language(s) in a naturalistic or partly naturalistic context gave higher ratings on emotional force of S-T words in that language than instructed language learners

Rules of Thumb:
Antimatter detectors are easy to build. Take any matter and add your sample to it. If they annihilate each other in a flash of light, your sample was antimatter.

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

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Editor: Sam Smith

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