Undernews For August 17, 2008
Undernews For August 17, 2008
Washington's Most Unofficial Source
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Editor: Sam Smith
17 AUG 2008
Corrupted by wealth and power, your
government is like a restaurant with only one dish. They've
got a set of Republican waiters on one side and a set of
Democratic waiters on the other side. But no matter which
set of waiters brings you the dish, the legislative grub is
all prepared in the same Wall Street kitchen. - Huey
PAGE ONE MUST
DEMOCRATIC POLS IN SWING STATES SAY OBAMA SHOULD CUT THE HOPE CRAP AND GET STRONGER ON ISSUES
Patrick Healy, NY Times - As Senator Barack Obama prepares to accept the Democratic presidential nomination next week, party leaders in battleground states say the fight ahead against Senator John McCain looks tougher than they imagined, with Mr. Obama vulnerable on multiple fronts despite weeks of cross-country and overseas campaigning.
These Democrats - 15 governors, members of Congress and state party leaders - say Mr. Obama has yet to convert his popularity among many Americans into solutions to crucial electoral challenges: showing ownership of an issue, like economic stewardship or national security; winning over supporters of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton; and minimizing his race and experience level as concerns for voters.
Mr. Obama has run for the last 18 months as the candidate of hope. Yet party leaders - while enthusiastic about Mr. Obama and his state-by-state campaign operations - say he must do more to convince the many undecided Democrats and independents that he would address their financial anxieties rather than run, by and large, as an agent of change - given that change, they note, is not an issue.
“I particularly hope he strengthens his economic message - even Senator Obama can speak more clearly and specifically about the kitchen-table, bread-and-butter issues like high energy costs,” said Gov. Ted Strickland of Ohio. “It’s fine to tell people about hope and change, but you have to have plenty of concrete, pragmatic ideas that bring hope and change to life.”
Or, in the blunter words of Gov. Phil Bredesen, Democrat of Tennessee: “Instead of giving big speeches at big stadiums, he needs to give straight-up 10-word answers to people at Wal-Mart about how he would improve their lives.”. . .
Mr. Bredesen, of Tennessee, said that while the Democrats had little chance of carrying his state - the Obama camp is sending Mr. Bredesen to campaign in other states - Mr. Obama could still take steps to appeal to undecided Democrats there that might increase his chances elsewhere.
“I would really like to see him do things in Tennessee that would help in other working-class and blue-collar places, like Ohio,” Mr. Bredesen said. “Job security and health care are huge here. He needs to come to the aisle of Home Depot and show them that a Harvard graduate - which I am as well - knows how to help them.”
Gov. Bill Ritter of
Colorado, the host of next week’s Democratic National
Convention, said Mr. Obama needed to hone and amplify his
plan to create more jobs if he wants to woo undecided
independent voters, who make up the largest bloc of the
electorate in the swing state.
DEAD ZONES BECOME MAJOR OCEAN PROBLEM
David Adam, Guardian, UK - Man-made pollution is spreading a growing number of suffocating dead zones across the world’s seas with disastrous consequences for marine life, scientists have warned. The experts say the hundreds of regions of critically low oxygen now affect a combined area the size of New Zealand, and that they pose as great a threat to life in the world’s oceans as overfishing and habitat loss.
The number of such seabed zones - caused when massive algal blooms feeding off pollutants such as fertilizer die and decay - has boomed in the last decade. There were some 405 recorded in coastal waters worldwide in 2007, up from 305 in 1995 and 162 in the 1980s. . .
Marine bacteria feed on the algae in the blooms after it has died and sunk to the bottom, and in doing so they use up all of the oxygen dissolved in the water. The resulting ‘hypoxic’ seabed zones can asphyxiate swathes of bottom dwelling organisms such as clams and worms, and disrupt fish populations. . .
Writing in the journal Science, the researchers say the dead zones must be viewed as one of the “major global environmental problems”. They say: “There is no other variable of such ecological importance to coastal marine ecosystems that has changed so drastically over such a short time.”
The key solution, they say, is to “keep fertilizers on the land and out of the sea”. Changes in the way fertilizers and other pollutants are managed on land have already “virtually eliminated” dead zones from the Mersey and Thames estuaries, they say.
HOW THE CLINTONS WILL UNDERMINE
Dick Morris & Eileen McGann, Newsmax - How will the Clintons undermine Obama? Not by any overt statement. In public, they will appear to be his biggest fans. Hillary does not dare incur the wrath of Democratic voters by abandoning her party's nominee in the general election. But the Clintons will do what they do best: They will hog the spotlight. By speaking on Tuesday and Wednesday, this former first couple will spread themselves over the convention, usurping media, taking face time, and making the convention appear, for its first three days, as a Hillary Clinton gathering.
Remember how in 2004, Bill Clinton timed the release of his memoir "My Life" to coincide with the start of the John Kerry campaign. His swings through the nation, attracting lines and crowds at bookstores drew attention away from Kerry. His strategy of distraction culminated when he scheduled a book signing in Boston during the Democratic Convention, drawing mobs and pulling the spotlight away from Kerry.
By hogging the publicity at the Democratic Convention and by keeping the spotlight away from Obama, the Clintons are going to do all they can to stop the Democrat from getting a bounce from his convention appearance. How will they hurt Obama down the road? Bill will make off-handed comments, seemingly mistakes. A lose cannon, he will appear to be undisciplined as he follows a game plan to undermine the candidate. Hillary will do her best to avoid campaigning for Obama and will undercut him in any way she can without getting caught.
Maureen Dowd, NY Times - While Obama was spending three hours watching "The Dark Knight" five time zones away, and going to a fund-raiser featuring "Aloha attire" and Hawaiian pupus, Hillary was busy planning her convention.
You can almost hear her mind whirring: She's amazed at how easy it was to snatch Denver away from the Obama saps. Like taking candy from a baby, except Beanpole Guy doesn't eat candy. In just a couple of weeks, Bill and Hill were able to drag No Drama Obama into a swamp of Clinton drama.
Now they've made Barry's convention all about them - their dissatisfaction and revisionism and barely disguised desire to see him fail. . .
Former aide Howard Wolfson fanned the divisive flames Monday on ABC News, arguing that Hillary would have beaten Obama in Iowa and become the nominee if John Edwards's affair had come out last year - an assertion contradicted by a University of Iowa survey showing that far more Edwards supporters had Obama as their second choice. . .
The way the Clintons see it, there's nothing wrong with a couple making plans for their future, is there? That's the American way and, as their pal Mark Penn pointed out, they have American roots while Obama "is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values.". . .
Obama also allowed Hillary supporters to insert an absurd statement into the platform suggesting that media sexism spurred her loss and that "demeaning portrayals of women . . . dampen the dreams of our daughters." This, even though postmortems, including the new raft of campaign memos leaked by Clintonistas to The Atlantic - another move that undercuts Obama - finger Hillary's horrendous management skills. . .
It would have
been better to put this language in the platform: "A woman
who wildly mismanages and bankrupts a
quarter-of-a-billion-dollar campaign operation, and then
blames sexism in society, will dampen the dreams of our
WHO NEEDS THE CONVENTIONS, ANYWAY?
Jack Shafer, Slate - With just one exception over the last three decades, the two major parties have known the identity of their likely presidential candidate weeks or even months before gaveling their national political conventions open. For that reason, one way to improve coverage of the four-day, quadrennial conventions of Republicans and Democrats would be for the TV networks to assign sportscasters like Bob Costas, Joe Morgan, and John Madden instead of political journalists to report on the gatherings. They know how to make a game with a foregone conclusion seem entertaining.
A still better way to improve convention coverage would be to withdraw all reporters and force the curious to rely on a C-SPAN feed: Unless a brokered convention threatens to break out, these political gatherings tend to produce very little real news. Yet the networks, the newspapers, the magazines, and the Web sites continue to insist on sending battalions of reporters to sift for itsy specks of information. According to Forbes, 15,000 pressies are expected to attend each of the conventions. .
While your average political reporter doesn't think the conventions are a waste of time and resources, he's likely to agree that nothing very newsworthy actually happens at them. Oh, he may filibuster about how a looming platform battle promises to produce fissures in the party. But if you observe that platforms are written to be ignored by the candidate, he'll drop his point. Or he may argue that meeting all the important politicos up close at the convention will produce future news dividends. But he'll pout if you ask him whether the intimacy justifies the expense, which can easily exceed $3,000 per reporter for a bare-bones visit. (A single seat in the designated workspace area at a convention can cost more than $1,000, and an Internet connection is $850. Snacks purchased at the convention make ballpark food look affordable.). . .
Why do the parties throw their meaningless conventions? As Andrew Ferguson wrote in the Weekly Standard four years ago, the no-news extravaganza of a convention is excellent news for them. But what excuse do thousands of reporters have for attending? According to Ferguson, in the weeks leading up to the conventions, the press traditionally complains about the "empty ritual" of the "infomercial" that the parties have "choreographed." But that's just for show. They fight their colleagues for the honor to attend because a political convention is a gas to cover. It's like a vacation, only no spouses! There's free food, plenty of booze, nice hotels, lots of pals in the press and politics dishing gossip, and the assignment is easy to report. Ferguson concludes that political conventions exist only to make the second convention-the "journalists' convention"-possible. "The parasite has consumed the host," he wrote. . .
I'd rather watch 24 hours of C-SPAN transmissions of hearings before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry than five minutes of either convention.
Washington Post - The Justice Department has proposed a new domestic spying measure that would make it easier for state and local police to collect intelligence about Americans, share the sensitive data with federal agencies and retain it for at least 10 years. The proposed changes would revise the federal government's rules for police intelligence-gathering for the first time since 1993 and would apply to any of the nation's 18,000 state and local police agencies that receive roughly $1.6 billion each year in federal grants. . .
Under the Justice Department proposal for state and local police, published for public comment July 31, law enforcement agencies would be allowed to target groups as well as individuals, and to launch a criminal intelligence investigation based on the suspicion that a target is engaged in terrorism or providing material support to terrorists. They also could share results with a constellation of federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and others in many cases.
Criminal intelligence data starts with sources as basic as public records and the Internet, but also includes law enforcement databases, confidential and undercover sources, and active surveillance. . .
Michael German, policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the proposed rule may be misunderstood as permitting police to collect intelligence even when no underlying crime is suspected, such as when a person gives money to a charity that independently gives money to a group later designated a terrorist organization. . .
Critics say preemptive law enforcement in the absence of a crime can violate the Constitution and due process. They cite the administration's long-running warrantless-surveillance program, which was set up outside the courts, and the FBI's acknowledgment that it abused its intelligence-gathering privileges in hundreds of cases by using inadequately documented administrative orders to obtain telephone, e-mail, financial and other personal records of U.S. citizens without warrants. . .
German, an FBI agent for 16 years, said easing established limits on intelligence-gathering would lead to abuses against peaceful political dissenters. In addition to the Maryland case, he pointed to reports in the past six years that undercover New York police officers infiltrated protest groups before the 2004 Republican National Convention; that California state agents eavesdropped on peace, animal rights and labor activists; and that Denver police spied on Amnesty International and others before being discovered.
"If police officers no longer see themselves as engaged in protecting their communities from criminals and instead as domestic intelligence agents working on behalf of the CIA, they will be encouraged to collect more information," German said. "It turns police officers into spies on behalf of the federal government."
BUSH'S OCTOBER SURPRISE: WORLD WAR
Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research - The Bush administration is envisaging the possibility of launching a naval blockade directed against Iran. Extensive war games were held off the US Atlantic Coastline under "Operation Brimstone" in late July.
These war games were activated shortly after the submission in the US House of Representatives of a bill which called upon the Bush administration to carry out an economic blockade directed against Iran.
'Operation Brimstone' commenced on July 21 in North Carolina and off the Eastern US Atlantic coast from Virginia to Florida. Of significance was the participation of British, French, Brazilian and Italian naval forces as part of a multinational US naval exercise directed against Iran.
More than a dozen ships participated in the naval exercise including the USS Theodore Roosevelt and its Carrier Strike Group Two, the expeditionary Strike Group Iwo Jima, the French submarine Amethyste, Britain's HMS Illustrious Carrier Strike Group, Brazil's navy frigate Greenhalgh and Italy's ITS Salvatore Todaro (S 526) submarine.
Stating the purpose of a war game and identifying the real "foreign enemy" by name is not the normal practice, unless there is a decision to send an unequivocal message to the enemy. . .
In the case of "Operation Brimstone", the stated military purpose of the naval exercise is crystal clear: the North Atlantic war games are carried out with a view "to practice enforcing an eventual blockade on Iran". These naval exercises are intended to display US and allied "combat capabilities as a warning to Iran." They are tantamount to a declaration of war: "The drill is aimed at training for operation in shallow coastal waters such as the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.". . .
The participation of these countries in extensive war games points to broad consensus. It also suggests that the participating nations have accepted (in political and military terms) to participate in a US-led military operation directed against Iran. The active participation of France and to a lesser extent Italy also suggests that the European Union is firmly behind the US initiative:
"Operations with our friends and allies are the cornerstone of the U.S. Navy's current maritime strategy," said Capt. Ladd Wheeler, Roosevelt's commanding officer. "These combined operations will certainly pay dividends into the future as our navies continue to work together to increase global security."
precedent has been set. Brazil's President Luis Ignacio da
Silva has ordered the dispatch of the Greenhalgh Frigate,
marking the first time that a Brazilian warship (under a
government which claims to be "socialist") has operated as
part of a US. strike group in war games directed against a
According to the Greenhalgh's Commander Claudio Mello, "It allows us to be one more asset in an international operation."
The naval blockade against Iran, which is tantamount to a declaration of war is a bipartisan project, which has tacitly been endorsed by the Democrats. . . H CON RES 362 has been referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. A similar procedure has taken plance in the Senate.
The planning of a naval blockade by the Bush administration occurs at the very outset of an unfolding crisis in the Caucasus, marked by the Georgian air and ground attacks on South Ossetia and Russia's counterattack. . .
We are not dealing with separate and unrelated military events. The war in Georgia is an integral part of US-NATO-Israeli war preparations in relation to Iran. Georgia does not act militarily without the assent of Washington. The Georgian head of State is a US proxy and Georgia is a de facto US protectorate.
The attack on South Ossetia was launched by Georgia on the orders of the US and NATO. US military advisers and trainers were actively involved in the planning of Georgia's attacks on the South Ossetia capital. . .
Russia is an ally of Iran. Russia is currently caught up in a military confrontation with Georgia. The Georgian attack on South Ossetia constitutes an act of provocation directed against Russia. It creates an aura of instability in the Caucasus, marked by heavy civilian casualties. It serves to distract Russia from playing a meaningful diplomatic and military role, which might undermine or obstruct the US-led war plans directed against Iran.
Both Russia and China have bilateral military cooperation agreements with Iran. Russia supplies the Islamic Republic with military hardware and technical expertise in relation to Iran's air defense system and missile program. . .
The ultimate objective is to isolate Iran, cut it off from its powerful allies: China and Russia. In Washington's mindset, the events in Georgia coupled with media propaganda, can be usefully applied to discredit and weaken Russia prior to the enforcement of a naval blockade on Iran in the Persian Gulf, which could lead into an all out war on Iran.
This somewhat crude line of reasoning tends, however, to overlook America's own military setbacks and weaknesses as well as the enormous risks to America and the world which could result from a continued and sustained confrontation with Russia, let alone an attack on Iran.
In view of the evolving situation in Georgia and Moscow's military commitments in the Caucasus, military analysts believe that Russia will not protect Iran and encroach upon a US led operation directed against Iran, which would be preceded by a naval blockade.
In other words, Washington believes that Moscow is unlikely to get actively involved in a showdown with US and allied forces in the Persian Gulf.
A naval blockade is tantamount to a declaration of war. The blockade constitutes a blatant violation of international law. According to Francis Boyle, a renowned specialist in international law:
"A blockade is an act of war under international and domestic law. A blockade is a term used under international law to specifically refer to belligerent measures taken by a nation for the purposes of preventing the passage of vessels or aircraft to and from another country. . . Blockades as acts of war have been recognized as such in the Declaration of Paris of 1856 and the Declaration of London of 1909 that delineate the international rules of warfare."
Meanwhile, war preparations are also being undertaken by Israel and NATO in the Eastern Mediterranean. German war ships are stationed off the Syrian coastline. Turkey which constitutes a major military actor within NATO is a major partner of the US led coalition. It has an extended bilateral military cooperation agreement with Israel. Turkey has borders with both Iran and Syria.
A diabolical and related consensus is emerging at the political level, pointing to the pre-emptive first strike use of nuclear weapons in the Middle East war theater, more concretely against Iran. . .
To implement this mandate, a brand new command unit entitled Joint Functional Component Command Space and Global Strike, or JFCCSGS was created. . .
In terms of the ongoing threats directed against Iran, a pre-emptive nuclear attack using tactical nuclear weapons, which are according to the Pentagon is "harmless to the surrounding civilian population" could be carried out in relation to Iran, even if if Iran does not possess nuclear weapons capabilities, as confirmed by the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate.
According to a 2003 Senate decision, the new generation of tactical nuclear weapons or "low yield" "mini-nukes", with an explosive capacity of up to 6 times a Hiroshima bomb, are now considered "safe for civilians" because the explosion is underground.
Through a propaganda campaign which has enlisted the support of "authoritative" nuclear scientists, the mini-nukes are being presented as an instrument of peace rather than war. The low-yield nukes have now been cleared for "battlefield use", they are slated to be used in the next stage of the Middle East war (Iran) alongside conventional weapons. . .
The US-NATO doctrine to use nukes on a pre-emptive basis against Iran, with a view to "saving the Western World's way of life", is not challenged in any meaningful way by the antiwar movement.
The mainstream media has a strong grip on the public's perception and understanding of the Middle East war. The dangers of nuclear war in the post cold War era are barely mentioned and when they are, the use of nuclear weapons are justified as a preemptive military option to ensure the security of Western World. . .
Media disinformation instills within the consciousness of Americans and Europeans that somehow the war on Iran is a necessity. . . .
At present US and coalition forces including NATO and Israel are in an advanced state of readiness to launch an attack on Iran. Leaders of the US led coalition including France, Germany and Italy, should understand that such an action could result in a World War III scenario.
Escalation scenarios have already been envisaged and analyzed by the Pentagon. US sponsored war games have foreseen the possible intervention of Russia and China in the Middle East. World War III has been on the lips of neo con architects of US foreign policy from the outset of the Bush regime.
In response to "Operation Brimstone" and the Naval deployment, Iran's Foreign Ministry said that "Tehran will give a 'maximum response' to the slightest threat against the country's national security."
This is the most serious crisis in modern history which in a very real sense threatens the future of humanity.
ABOUT HALF OF ALL VOTERS WANT NADER AND BARR
Zogby - More than half of likely voters nationwide - 55% - want Republican-turned-Libertarian Bob Barr to participate in presidential debates this fall, while nearly half - 46% - said they think Ralph Nader should be allowed into the on-stage fray, the latest Zogby Interactive polling shows.
Among political independents, 69% said Barr should be at a lectern with Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, and a majority of Republicans and Democrats agreed. Among Democrats, 52% said they think Barr should participate, while 50% of Republicans agreed.
As for Nader, who has run unsuccessfully in the last two presidential elections, 45% overall said he should be included in the debates, including 59% of independents. Among Democrats, 41% said Nader should be included, while 42% of Republicans agreed.
50% of singles said Nader should be included, 48% of big city dwellers and 47% of men. The figures for Barr were even higher.
Neither Barr nor Nader are currently qualified to participate, according to rules set out by the Commission on Presidential Debates, a private non-profit corporation that has organized debates in the last several presidential election cycles. The CPD requires that to be included in their debates, candidates must appear on enough state ballots to have a mathematical chance of winning a majority of Electoral College votes, and must be winning at least 15% support in national public opinion polls before the debates.
In this latest Zogby Interactive poll, Bob Barr won 6% support and Nader 2% nationally. Neither candidate has cracked the double-digit barrier in any national polling so far this cycle.
RETURN OF THE STREETCAR
NY Times - Cincinnati officials are assembling financing for a $132 million system that would connect the city's riverfront stadiums, downtown business district and Uptown neighborhoods, which include six hospitals and the University of Cincinnati, in a six- to eight-mile loop. Depending on the final financing package, fares may be free, 50 cents or $1. The city plans to pay for the system with existing tax revenue and $30 million in private investment. . .
At least 40 other cities are exploring streetcar plans to spur economic development, ease traffic congestion and draw young professionals and empty-nest baby boomers back from the suburbs, according to the Community Streetcar Coalition, which includes city officials, transit authorities and engineers who advocate streetcar construction.
More than a dozen have existing lines, including New Orleans, which is restoring a system devastated by Hurricane Katrina. And Denver, Houston, Salt Lake City and Charlotte, N.C., have introduced or are planning to introduce streetcars.
"They serve to coalesce a neighborhood," said Jim Graebner, chairman of the American Public Transportation Association's streetcar and vintage trolley committee. "That's very evident in places like San Francisco, which never got rid of its streetcar system."
Modern streetcars, like those Cincinnati plans to use, cost about $3 million each, run on an overhead electrical wire and carry up to 130 passengers per car on rails that are flush with the pavement. . .
Streetcar advocates point to Portland, Ore., which built the first major modern streetcar system in the United States, in 2001, and has since added new lines interlaced with a growing light rail system. Since Portland announced plans for the system, more than 10,000 residential units have been built and $3.5 billion has been invested in property within two blocks of the line, according to Portland Streetcar Inc., which operates the system. . .
"In years gone by, people would move to cities to get a job," Cincinnati's city manager, Milton Dohoney, said. "Today, young, educated workers move to cities with a sense of place. And if businesses see us laying rail down on a street, they'll know that's a permanent route that will have people passing by seven days a week."
After looking into streetcar systems in Seattle, Tacoma, Wash., and Charlotte, Mr. Dohoney became convinced that they spur growth. "Cincinnati has to compete with other cities for investment," he said. "We have to compete for talent and for place of national prominence."
A hundred miles north, Mayor Michael Coleman of Columbus, Ohio, has come to the same conclusion and is pushing to build a $103 million streetcar network along the city's High Street connecting Ohio State University with the downtown business district. The loop would be paid for through a 4 percent surcharge on concert tickets, sporting events and downtown parking and a $12.5 million contribution from Ohio State.
THE NEWS BEFORE IT HAPPENS: A 1972
LOOK AT STREET CARS
Sam Smith, DC Gazette, March 1972 - THE end of January marked the tenth anniversary of the last streetcar run in the District. Curiously, only Jack Eisen of the Post, the local freeway lobby's favorite journalist, bothered to note the event. The City Council might have commemorated the occasion were it not engrossed in hearings on how to get DC Transit's O. Roy Chalk to remove an estimated 86 miles of streetcar track remaining in the city. Mayor Walter Washington might have joined also, but he was too busy trying to get congressional approval of a bond guarantee for the Metro subway system.
While generally sympathetic to the streetcar as a historical phenomenon, Eisen offered this ex cathedra assurance: "Streetcars as we knew them will never again run in Washington." Why not? Certainly logic does not rule out their return. Streetcars are efficient. Trolleys operating on surface streets can carry nearly ten times as many people per hour as automobiles and fifty percent more people than buses. Streetcars , while not non-polluting (since they require electrical power), at least remove the pollution from where it has its deadliest effect - high density center city areas. Further, streetcars are a pleasure to ride, are devoid of the noxious fumes created by buses and are aesthetically pleasing.
One of the major reasons streetcars went out - and will have a hard time returning - is that they compete directly with the automobile. At the time of their demise, anything that competed with the car was considered unpatriotic, anti-Christian and perhaps even a bit perverted. A decade later, as we wheeze our way through the atmospheric swamp that covers our major cities, we are beginning to view the car with a bit more skepticism. Not enough, to be sure, to do anything serious about restricting its use, but the first glimmers of comprehension are there. A generation that built its foreign policy on faith in Chiang Kai Shek and its domestic policy on faith in General Motors is beginning to doubt its wisdom. Now that Mr. Nixon has gone to China, perhaps his next major journey can be a ride on a trolley.
It is hard to write of streetcars without succumbing to nostalgia and laying oneself open to charges of infantile romanticism. But the reason one feels nostalgia is, after all, because one misses something one thinks was good. And since the choice of transportation modes is in part determined by psychological factors, as any Freudian analysis of the automobile in American society will point out, a system that engenders a certain amount of romantic attachment may also guarantee itself ridership as well.
Recently the city of Toronto reversed itself and decided not to end streetcar servi^ there. Said Ralph Day, chairman of the local transit commission, the streetcars are "liked by all users and detested by all motorists." Day has given us here a capsule criterion for the ideal urban transportation system. If we are to be-serious about building mass transit we must confront the automobile directly.
It is not enough just to provide alternatives to the car; we must put obstacles in its path.
One of the many fraudulent aspects of the Metro subway is that it is really designed not to compete with the automobile. One need look no further, than the freeway plans. The highway lobby hasn't whittled its ambitions one inch because of the prospect of Metro. Every freeway that was planned before Metro is still being pushed by highway builders. . .
Metro has plenty of other problems as a mass transit system. It costs too much, for one thing. . . As the largest single public works project in the world's history, Metro hardly qualifies as an economy. There is no doubt that DC could get more mass transit for its money by not building a subway and turning instead to a mixture of surface mass transit including rail commuter lines, streetcars, buses and jitneys.
Secondly, Metro has already disrupted many communities in the city and will disrupt many more. Businesses and homes are being lost as Metro reveals its true nature as not merely an underground transportation system, but an aboveground land development scheme. Metro joined urban renewal as a major element in the city's reverse land reform program, which takes land out of the hands of the many and puts it in the hands of a. few. A surface transit system would not have been as amenable to such cynical and deceitful expropriation of land.
Thirdly, Metro is primarily another means of providing safe, fast entrance and egress to DC for non-taxpaying suburban parasites. A streetcar system, along with other surface transit facilities, would be much more orientated to the needs of the local citizenry, as it was when it existed.
Fourthly, Metro is inflexible. Where Metro goes, it will stay. The cost of adding new lines, or abandoning them, would be astronomical. Since a city is always in a state of flux, there is a need for a transit system that can bend to meet changing situations. A surface system is much more adaptable. . .
Let us not forget that we live in the city that, more than any other, has surrendered itself to the automobile. Of course, it began a long time ago. The original L1Enfant Plan of 1791 proposed that 59% of the area of the federal city be set aside for highways. Thanks to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and the Congress, the first highway lobby was restrained somewhat, but L'Enfant's successors have more than made up for the loss.
cities have shown considerably more wisdom, and today some
of these transit-oriented towns are taking another look at
streetcars. Eisen reports that "Boston and San Francisco,
aided by the U.S. Department of Transportation, have agreed
upon the specifications for a new generation of trolleys to
equip their remaining lines. . . San Francisco even has
plans - and the promise of federal money - to expand its
electric streetcar system as well as to renovate its cable
car lines." And one of the least nostalgic men around, DC
Transit's O. Roy Chalk himself recently wrote Eisen: "Maybe
the reason passenger losses developed (in the transit
industry) was not higher fares but elimination of trolleys.
It is an interesting concept.
How about a new trolley system, instead of a subway, with automatic (i.e. reserved) trolley lanes?"
If a streetcar system were built here, there is no reason that it should be a replica of the former one. The reserved lanes suggested by Chalk would be one improvement. Use of cars in tandem, as is done in Boston, is another. The streetcar could be just one element of a rational, flexible, urban-focused, economical transit system. . . The unused commuter rail lines that lead into the District could be turned into mass transit systems. And a range of bus types, from small jitneys (like airport limousines) to double-deckers, could supplement the rail systems, replacing the single-size buses that DC Transit uses on nearly all its routes. It is not likely that the government or business interests will press for these improvements.
It must come from the riders. The whole history of mass transit in this country is one of politics first, riders last. When jitneys started competing with streetcars in the early part of the century, the trolley companies got the courts and state legislatures to drive them out of business.
Later, as Eisen points out, "A national transit holding company allied with bus-manufacturing interests. . . embarked upon a deliberate program of replying trolleys with buses in dozens of cities from Baltimore to Oakland." And, of course, the bus companies got their come-uppance not long after as the auto craze was fostered by a combination of highway builders, car companies, and cooperative public officials.
The other day I saw an official of the Department of Transportation wearing a button that proclaimed: "Mix Your Modes." It's a nice sentiment, but one that has yet to gain credance in local transportation planning. Yesterday's fad was the freeway; today it's Metro. But monomania won't solve our transit problems. We have lots of different places to go and we need a variety of ways to get there. Streetcars should be one of them. Then getting there will no longer be half a pain.
DENVER PLANS ITS OWN GITMO FOR
CBS 4, Denver - CBS4 News has learned if mass arrests happen at the Democratic Convention, those taken into custody will be jailed in a warehouse owned by the City of Denver. Investigator Rick Sallinger discovered the location and managed to get inside for a look. The newly created lockup is on the northeast side of Denver. Protesters have already given this place a name: "Gitmo on the Platte." Inside are dozens are metal cages. They are made out of chain link fence material and topped by rolls of barbed wire.
"This is a secured environment," Capt. Frank Gale of the Denver Sheriff's Department told CBS4. "We're concerned about how that's going to be utilized by people who will be potentially disruptive."
Each of the fenced areas is about 5 yards by 5 yards and there is a lock on the door. A sign on the wall reads "Warning! Electric stun devices used in this facility." CBS4 showed its video to leaders of groups that plan to demonstrate during the convention. "Very bare bones and very reminiscent of a political prisoner camp or a concentration camp," said Zoe Williams of Code Pink. . . . "That's how you treat cattle," said Adam Jung of the group Tent State University. "You showed the sign where it said stun gun in use and you just change the word gun for bolt and it's a meat processing plant." The plans were to keep this lockup a secret, at least for now.
RECOVERED HISTORY: THE RETURN OF HARRY
Thomas DeFrank, NY Daily News - She's already snagged plum speaking gigs for herself, her husband and their daughter, so what else does Hillary Clinton want at the Denver convention? Her own production team for the introductory video. Democratic officials told the Daily News Wednesday that the video preceding Hillary's Aug. 26 prime-talk talk will be produced by Arkansas pals Harry Thomason and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, best known for creating the TV sitcom "Designing Women."
These officials said that while many other convention speakers will also rate videos, Clinton negotiators insisted on Hillary having her own video team instead of letting Barack Obama's convention planners handle the production. Thomason and his wife aren't exactly strangers to the convention game; they produced "The Man from Hope," the widely-acclaimed video biography of Bill Clinton premiering at the 1992 Democratic national convention. Harry Thomason is the more controversial of the pair: he was involved in the firing of White House travel office employees in President Clinton's first term, testified before a grand jury investigating the Monica Lewinsky scandal and lobbied Bill Clinton to pardon two Arkansas men in the final hours of his presidency.
Thomas Defrank, New York Daily News 2001: Washington resident Bush makes his first trip abroad as America's leader next month, but Gary Wright couldn't care less - thanks, he says bitterly, to Hillary Rodham Clinton. For 32 years, circling the globe with Presidents was Wright's livelihood. Assigned to the White House Travel Office, he logged millions of miles on press charters, accompanying seven Presidents to every continent and scores of world capitals. These days, Wright, now 58, pulls 12-hour shifts as a $22,000-a-year correction officer at a North Carolina state prison. "It helps pay the mortgage," says Wright, one of the seven civil servants summarily sacked eight years ago in the first scandal of the Clinton era. To this day, he's convinced that now-Sen. Clinton masterminded the Travelgate firings to turn the lucrative White House travel business over to Arkansas cronies. [Billy] Dale, his deputy Wright and their entire staff were sacked in May 1993 after charged of financial mismanagement - charges that proved bogus. The firings triggered a firestorm of media and congressional scrutiny implicating Clinton and her pal Harry Thomason in the coup . . . In June, independent counsel Robert Ray declined to file charges, but cited "substantial evidence she had a 'role'" in the ousters and that her concerns "ultimately influenced" the decision.
House Oversight Committee Report - The committee spent 3 1/2 years investigating not just who fired them and why, but the wrongdoing that followed. The resulting mosaic pieced together from the facts uncovered reveals the answers the White House refused to disclose. . .
The committee has found that the motive for the firings was political cronyism: the President sought to reward his friend, Harry Thomason, with the spoils of the White House travel business. A pretext for the firings was created, and the trigger was pulled.
When the public reacted to the firing with outrage, the roles of the President, First Lady and Thomason were minimized as the White House staff engaged in a colossal damage-control effort. First, it had to portray the victims of the firings as the wrongdoers. This was achieved by White House officials unleashing the full powers of the Federal Government against the seven former workers. The extraordinary might of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Justice- not to mention the prestige of the White House itself -all were brought to bear. These actions constitute a gross abuse of the rights of seven American citizens and their families. Second, an enormous and elaborate cover-up operation, housed in the White House Counsel's Office, sought to prevent numerous investigations from discovering not only the roles of who fired the workers and why, but also their efforts to persecute the victims. In the process. . . it obstructed and frustrated all investigations. . .
Paul Greenberg, Jewish World Review - As for what she became, well, there is a simple test of honesty in any memoir by a Clinton: Look in the index for Dale, Billy. Remember that name? He was the victim-in-chief of the Travelgate caper.
Not only does Miss Hillary minimize her role in that affair, she minimizes the affair itself. It was no small thing in the life of Billy Dale, who had worked in the White House travel office since the Kennedy administration. Travelgate cost him his job, his life savings, his good name, two years of legal Hell and, until a jury acquitted him within two hours of hearing the hoked-up charges against him, his peace.
After all that, Hillary Clinton is still smearing the guy, and implying his guilt. After his acquittal. How's that for fair? And this she calls history.
Our author doesn't try to square her version of Travelgate with the soul-cleansing account of it from David Watkins. He was one of the White House aides who had to take the blame for it, and afterward he wrote his boss, Mack McLarty:
"Once this made it onto the First Lady's agenda, Vince Foster became involved, and he and Harry Thomason regularly informed me of her attention to the Travel Office situation -- as well as her insistence that the situation be resolved immediately by replacing the Travel Office staff. . At that meeting you (Mr. McLarty) explained that this was on the First Lady's 'radar screen.' . We both knew that there would be hell to pay if, after our failure in the Secret Service situation earlier, we failed to take swift and decisive action in conformity with the First Lady's wishes."
THE LAW AND PRACTICALITIES OF LOCKING UP
KARL ROVE FOR CONTEMPT
David Swanson, Alternet - Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren recently wrote the following dismissive letter to her constituents:
"Thank you for contacting me about Karl Rove's failure to appear before the Judiciary Committee. I appreciate that you took the time to share your thoughts with me. The Judiciary Committee is taking Karl Rove's failure to testify very seriously, and we are currently considering all options -- including contempt proceedings -- to compel him to answer important questions regarding the firing of several U.S. attorneys. Some have suggested that Congress implement 'inherent contempt' as if that is a viable option. The jail cell in the basement of the Capitol doesn't exist and the Sergeant at Arms is an over 60 year old executive. Congress is not a police force, and we will likely need to continue to utilize the courts and system of justice to pursue these matters.". . .
The age of the Sergeant at Arms is not a decisive factor in the question of whether the Congress will engage in what for most of its history was understood as "inherent self-protection". There is a Sergeant at Arms for the House and one for the Senate, there are deputies, and there is an entire Capitol police force. In one of the earliest uses of "inherent contempt" a prisoner of the United States Congress argued that a warrant used to arrest him was invalid because it had been addressed to the Sergeant at Arms and had been enforced by the Deputy Sergeant at Arms. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the warrant was still valid; and that practice was subsequently followed for many decades. The Sergeant at Arms is not on his own, but is permitted and required to employ subordinates as needed. In 1877 a Deputy Sergeant at Arms was instructed to accompany a congressional prisoner to New Orleans to procure telegrams he had hitherto refused to produce when subpoenaed, and to accompany another prisoner to New York to be seen by his physicians. In addition, a Sergeant at Arms incapable of performing his duties can be reassigned. . .
The House or the Senate or, in fact, any committee thereof, has the power, according to tradition and to rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court, to instruct the Sergeant at Arms of the House or Senate to imprison anyone being charged with contempt of Congress or being thereby punished for contempt of Congress. The difficulty of finding a place to imprison them has been easily solved in a variety of ways and could be again quite quickly. . .
During the latter part of the 19th Century and the early part of the 20th, the common jail of the District of Columbia was routinely used by the Sergeants at Arms of the House and Senate. While the jail did not belong to Congress, an arrangement was made to use it, housing the occasional "contumacious witness" in the same building with the general DC prison population. The District Jail is described in this 1897 New York Times article. [A] 1934 article from Time Magazine discusses the Senate's use of the District Jail to punish contempt in both 1860 and 1934.
In 1872 a Congressional committee discussed the problem of the DC jail not being controlled by Congress, but apparently concluded that the Sergeant at Arms could keep control of a prisoner in that jail. In other instances, including that same case, a prisoner of Congress was summoned to appear by a court, and Congress instructed the Sergeant at Arms to transport the prisoner to the court to explain the situation but not to release the prisoner from his control.
Congress has not always made use of outside jails. In 1868 this measure was approved: "Resolved, That Rooms A and B, opposite the room of the solicitor of the Court of Claims, in the Capitol, be, and are hereby, assigned as guardroom and office of the Capitol police and are for that purpose placed under charge of the Sergeant-at-arms of the House with power to fit the same up for purpose specified…. Resolved, That said Wooley, for his repeated contempt of the authority of the House, be kept until otherwise ordered by the House in close confinement in the guardroom of the Capitol police by the Sergeant-at-Arms until said Wooley shall fully answer the questions above recited, and all questions put to him by said committee in relation to the subject of the investigations with which the committee is charged, and that meanwhile no person shall communicate with said Wooley, in writing or verbally, except upon the order of the Speaker."
The U.S. Capitol and the House and Senate office buildings are full of rooms that could easily be transformed into guard rooms, and are in fact almost certainly full of guard rooms already. . . . DC is chock full of jails, several of them quite close to the Capitol. In fact, the Capitol Police make extensive and frequent use of them under an ongoing understanding with the custodians of the jails. The Capitol Police also hold people, at least temporarily, in a building very near the Senate office buildings.
Reviewing the early history of Congressional contempt reveals a mixture of offenses, including refusing to answer questions (on various topics), refusing to produce documents, failing to appear, etc., but also libeling Congress, assaulting a Congress member, beating a congress member with a cane, even Congress members themselves beating up a senator, and the case of a drunken citizen applauding inappropriately. While use of police force has disappeared as a response to recalcitrant witnesses, it is still routinely used for people who applaud inappropriately. When about 50 of us held a sit-in in Chairman John Conyers' office last summer to urge impeachment, he had us taken to a nearby jail by the Capitol Police. The age of the Sergeant at Arms didn't seem to get in the way. When Cindy Sheehan was arrested for wearing an unacceptable T-shirt to a "State of the Union" speech, the Capitol Police sent us and the media on a wild goose chase to several different jails that they use before arriving at the one from which they actually released her. . .
Common Cause recently advocated inherent contempt with this statement: "Under the inherent contempt power, the House Sergeant-at-Arms has the authority to take Karl Rove into custody and bring him to the House where his contempt case can be tried, presumably, by a standing or select committee. . . The Supreme Court has recognized the power of the House to enforce its own subpoenas through the inherent contempt provision, stating that without it, Congress 'would be exposed to every indignity and interruption that rudeness, caprice or even conspiracy may mediate against it.' Before Congress asked the Justice Department to try contempt cases on its behalf, the inherent contempt power was used more than 85 times between 1795 and 1934, mostly to compel testimony and documents."
Even the Washington Post agrees: "Both chambers also have an 'inherent contempt' power, allowing either body to hold its own trials and even jail those found in defiance of Congress. Although widely used during the 19th century, the power has not been invoked since 1934 and Democratic lawmakers have not displayed an appetite for reviving the practice.". . .
While the House must release all prisoners at the end of each two-year Congress (and has traditionally done so), the Senate need not and can hold them into the next Congress. And, remember that while the House Judiciary Committee just recently voted to hold Rove in contempt, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to do that last December. It simply hasn't yet done it, choosing to defer to the full Senate, which chooses to shut its eyes, cover its ears, and hum.
But deferring to the full House or Senate is part of the tradition of statutory contempt, not inherent contempt. It has been solidly established that inherent contempt resides in a full house or a committee. So, what is statutory contempt? Well, in 1857 Congress passed a law criminalizing contempt of Congress (and the maximum jail time is 12 months). It did so in large part precisely because of the need to free prisoners at the end of each Congress, but also because of the time-consuming nature of putting people on trial for contempt, something that was commonly done by committee, with the accused often permitted legal counsel and witnesses. . . Congress never lost that power, and in fact continued to exercise it up through 1934 since when it has simply chosen not to. Inherent contempt is a power that resides in what the U.S. Constitution created to be the most powerful branch of the government. It cannot be overruled in court, and it cannot be vetoed or pardoned. It can also not be endlessly delayed by court appeals, which is where the House's contempt citations for Miers and Bolten now are. . .
A FROZEN KATRINA
Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation - According to the New York Times, heating oil prices are now 36 percent higher than they were last winter and bills will be up to $1500 higher than they were last year. As for the 54 million households heating with natural gas, prices are expected to be 67 percent higher this winter. Current funding for the Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program is below 1980's levels . . .
As the Boston Globe wrote in an editorial this month: "The country had a few days to prepare for Hurricane Katrina, and failed. It has more than three months to prepare for this frozen Katrina, and there will be no excuse this time. . . A frozen Katrina will be measured in hypothermia cases and malnutrition or unfilled prescriptions if the poor are forced to spend grocery or medicine money on fuel.
'It could be New England's own Katrina disaster,' read a Stowe Reporter editorial. 'Hundreds of homes rendered uninhabitable, families' finances stretched to the limit, some driven away altogether to take shelter with friends or family. But unlike Katrina, this calamity is clearly visible on the horizon and we have months to prepare.'
The Rutland Herald warned of service-providers who are already stretched thin: "No one wants to see refugees from the cold breaking into stores or second homes to spend the night, but there will be desperate people that the state's social service providers will be challenged to help, since most homeless shelters are full at present and may not be able to house any more people in upcoming months."
And, finally, from the Concord Monitor : "It will be interesting to see if the prospect of masses of New Hampshire citizens freezing at home gets the attention it so clearly deserves.". . .
GREAT MOMENTS IN SCIENCE
Marc Abrahams, The Guardian, UK - Many people, of a morning, wonder why their breakfast cereal becomes soggy. Thanks to a study published in 1994, the answer can be read over morning coffee.
A Study of the Effects of Water Content on the Compaction Behaviour of Breakfast Cereal Flakes, by DMR Georget, Roger Parker and Andrew Smith of the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, looks at the basic physics of the matter. The scientists rigorously analyze how crunchiness declines in the presence of a soggifying liquid. . .
They soaked some flakes in water, then dropped them into a cylinder, and then stuck a thingy down into the cylinder to compress the flakes. They measured how much and how rapidly the flakes compressed. For thoroughness, they repeated the process again and again, each time using slightly soggier flakes.
They discovered that, up to a point, as a flake takes on liquid it retains much of its youthful firmness. Beyond that point, though, the flake goes suddenly limp.
One can express this in formal language: the Heckel deformation stress becomes increasingly sensitive to the particle density as the water content increases - which may seem obvious now, but at the time came as a revelation.
The journey from crisp to soggy is of course considerably more colorful than that, especially in a numerical sense. For example: the biggest changes in sogginess come as the water content of the flake increases from 12% to 18. . .
A word of caution, though - Georget,
Parker and Smith obtained all their results using water. In
theory, these results will hold up when, some day, someone
repeats the experiments using milk. For now, the story at
least appears to hold water.
Alternet - Nearly 600,000 eligible Ohio
voters may be dropped from the voter rolls if Secretary of
State Jennifer Brunner doesn't act to protect these voters,
according to findings based on publicly available
information discovered by Advancement Project and Project
Vote. These voters -- disproportionately voters of color and
young voters -- are subject to being removed from Ohio's
voter registration rolls without notice or a hearing because
of the state's vague regulations on vote caging, a process
that enables representatives of one political party to
challenge the voter registration credentials of voters at
polling places on Election Day.
Guardian Wrap, UK - Amid all the pontificating on how to deal with Russia, the ever-sensible Philip Stephens, of the Financial Times, reminds us of Moscow's vulnerabilities despite its show of force: an aging population that will make it hard to find army recruits; crumbling health and education systems; decaying civil infrastructure and rife corruption. Sounds pretty much like the old Soviet Union. "There will come a time when Moscow itself badly needs the shelter of the international order Mr Putin now so visibly disdains," Stephens predicts. . . The Independent's Mary Dejevsky, a former Moscow correspondent, doesn't buy the thesis of a newly aggressive Russia. She points out that far from hankering for a lost empire, Vladimir Putin has tried to fix Russia's post-Soviet borders by signing treaties with every neighboring country that would agree, including China. In Georgia itself, the Guardian's Luke Harding, reporting from Gori, talks to Georgians who tell him of alleged atrocities by Chechen and Ossetian irregulars. One man described how gunmen killed his neighbour: "They grabbed him around the shoulder and slit his throat."
West Hawaii Today -
Hawaii County residents will get their chance to tell police
to make enforcement of private, adult use of marijuana on
one's own personal property the lowest enforcement priority.
Adam Lehman, director of grassroots group Project Peaceful
Sky, prevailed in asking council members to certify his
petition, despite gathering not even half the required
number of valid signatures to get his initiative on the
upcoming ballot. Ka'u Councilman Bob Jacobson assisted
Lehman, by introducing a resolution to certify the petition,
a move that is allowed by the county's charter. Project
Peaceful Sky collected more than 5,000 signatures, but more
than half, 2,600, were deemed invalid. Jacobson said the
large number of people signing the petition, as well as the
number of people he heard of who did not sign the petition
but did support it, convinced him it was a question all
county voters should be able to address. "People felt they
would be subject to problems at work," Jacobson said. "They
felt they had been denied their process in signing."
New Scientist - An airborne laser
weapon dubbed the "long-range blowtorch" has the added
benefit that the US could convincingly deny any involvement
with the destruction it causes, say senior officials of the
US Air Force. The Advanced Tactical Laser is to be mounted
on a Hercules military transport plane. Boeing announced the
first test firing of the laser, from a plane on the ground,
earlier this summer. Cynthia Kaiser, chief engineer of the
US Air Force Research Laboratory's Directed Energy
Directorate, used the phrase "plausible deniability" to
describe the weapon's benefits in a briefing on laser
weapons to the New Mexico Optics Industry Association in
June. As the term suggests, "plausible deniability" is used
to describe situations where those responsible for an event
could plausibly claim to have had no involvement in
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WORLD WAR III
Please stop running articles from the easily debunked, nine-eleven-was-an-inside-job, Illuminati conspiradroids at GlobalResearch.ca. You're only undermining your credibility when you dredge the likes of their snake-oil dregs. Michel Chossudovsky is a moonbat. What's next? Articles from Alex Jones, Michael Rivero, Jeff Rense and Michael Ruppert?
DID REAGAN HAVE AN
The Reagan claim is just not true. It is an old urban legend. If I recall correctly, Reagan never even met Nancy until two years after his divorce. - Wayne Mann, Arroyo Grande, Ca.
VOLUNTARY FORECLOSURES RAISES NEW BANKING THREAT
Left unstated in this article is why it is supposedly so dangerous that people walk away from mortgages. The reason this will cause banks to collapse is because laws allow banks to create money out of thin air. Banks are only required to have 10% reserves on the loans that they make. This means for that $500,000 home the person bought, the bank that made the loan only needed to have $50,000 in actual deposits. Imagine if this worked on a personal level. Your buddy needs $50, but all you have is five. You create a credit and then earn interest on money you never had to begin with. Outrageous, but that is (in a very simplified manner) how our banks are operating.
NEARLY HALF OF APPLICANTS CAUGHT LYING ON
Those telling stupid, obvious and boneheaded lies are only taking their cue from the trend set by the administration and its followers.
PACIFICA STATION BLACKLISTS COMMENTATOR ON
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
That's a shame. Fitts has a lot of interesting things to say.
I love Catherine Austin-Fitts' analyisis, which I find original, insightful, and extremely valuable for the so-called liberal left. I submit to KPFA, allow small business owners on, as some are part of the solution and not the problem. Catherine Austin-Fitts is one of them.
OBAMA AND MCCAIN: LIFE WITHOUT
The author picks The Invisible Man over The Great Santini.
OBAMA AND MCCAIN
I don't view Obama/McCain as a democratic election to determine the leader of a republic. I view it as a plebiscite between vetted candidates who have been working in the imperial capital, who know the ropes, and who have signed off on the major imperial policies. The only difference is that Obama manages to sound reluctant, in his charmingly nuanced manner, while McCain sounds like an old general exhorting his troops to kill. But behind all this is the drumbeat of empire. Obama has risen to prominence in such a short time because he fits the bill for an empire that desperately needs to put a new face on its entrenched policies, which are not going to change. McCain promises more war and militarism, Obama possibly buys the empire some time, softens the image a bit, while K Street and Wall Street and the Pentagon and the neo-con government try to figure out what to do next. The empire needs a new face, maybe a woman like Hillary, but not a pasty faced, bad tempered old white guy. Obama will win because the powers that be have the fix in. They need a new face since they have no new ideas or policies, and Obama is the winning ticket.--Polar Bear
OBAMA CAMPAIGN STAGNATES
I think the perennial closeness of polls and election results just proves that neither "side" has the ability to gain consensus. I just wish the Ds and Rs that keep pulling their respective levers every election would realize that and adjust their focus accordingly. People should focus on who will make a difference on issues by having the gumption to take a stand. - Robbie
Maybe as Jackson Browne put it, "You take Sally And I'll take Sue. Ain't no diff'rence between the two".
If it stays this close, we will see the Republicans win with the same tactics as 2000 and 2005 - caging and other means of disenfranchising Democratic votes. - Dave
Neither party needs to take a stand. They have successfully hypnotized the American people into believing that there can never be any point in voting for one of the non-corporate parties and the corporations themselves really don't care which of the two wins because there is no meaningful difference from their point of view.
RECENT STORE CLOSINGS
These store closings would be far more indicative of a financial crisis if most of the products sold in them were made here in the US. Actually, these stores are just the local outlets for foreign goods. None of these establishments represent solid national infrastructure. They are the poster children of a "consumer-based society." In that sense - good riddance. I do feel for their employees, though. Now that our industrial capacity has been hollowed out, where will they find gainful employment?
And where will the remaining stores find solvent customers?
DEALING WITH THE ECONOMIC FREE
Great article. Just about says it all.
There is really no evidence that the current mess was caused by risky business practices. Yes people who risked were hurt, but that doesn't explain the cause. People who risk are always caught in unexpected downturns.
The Fed raised rates 8 times in 2005-2006 in order to raise unemployment. The people who lost their jobs were most of the people who lost their homes in the subprime mortgage crisis. But by the reasoning of this article, those people would have been better off if they had never been employed or housed in the first place.
I agree with a lot of other stuff in the article - actually over 50%. And I hope we do start pointing the fingers at the people who caused this. I would just caution that they did it for explicable reasons. For instance when the economy turns down, the Fed winds up inflating, because the Federal Government will not cut spending. These things happen because of the conflicting demands that we have placed on the government. -wellbasically
CHARTER SCHOOLS FLUNK IMPORTANT
The point here is that this study, as with countless other studies over the past decades, proves once again that there simply is no measurable difference between public, private and charter schools. They all come out the same. Public school advocates make all kinds of excuses (as this post does) to "interpret" the results, but the evidence is clear.
It's time for those who favor mandatory public education (as Hitler, Stalin and all dictators do) to acknowledge that their claims that public education is better than charter or private simply hold no water. People support mandatory public education not because it's better (it's not) but because they have a deep-seated desire to control other people.
Freedom of education is the most basic and fundamental freedom of all. People have the right to educate their children in whatever way they choose. And they have the right to pass their views, religions and lifestyles on to their children without the government looking over their shoulder and deciding what parts of ok and which aren't. Denying them that is textbook totalitarianism. All real progressives support freedom of education; it is, in fact, the definitive measure of a progressive. Anyone who cares about America understands how important it is that governments not be able to control everything that is taught in schools.
Government control of schools is precisely why we have such an apathetic, uninformed populace. Why can't people see this? It's so obvious.
THE REAL ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS WE DON'T WANT
TO TALK ABOUT
Petroleum is essential to the manufacture of plastics and a long list of chemicals that are important to our civilization. Stop and think seriously about what a world with no more plastic would be like compared to now. "The Graduate" told us that the future was plastics and we all laughed, but now almost everything we use is plastic and the future will likely have none. The single stupidest thing we can do with oil is to burn it up. Yet that is exactly what we've been doing for over a century now. - Henry Fnord
So far the FBI case against Ivins appears to be nothing but smears and innuendo. On the order of the old joke about the cracker politician who was leading a campaign against higher education. He wowed his audiences with gross violations of immorality on campus such as: male and female students actually matriculated in public together. And a male prof could force any coed to show him her thesis.
The FBI has related that Ivins used a lypholizer for which he had no legitimate purpose A lypholizer or lyopholizer is a freeze dryer, and a standard component of any microbiology lab. It is used to freeze dry bacteria for storage for later use. It would be like saying he used a Bunsen burner for which he had no legitimate purpose. Hogwash.
Ivins was reported to be so dangerous that his therapist had to get an order of protection. But according to Glen Greenwald, the therapist has stated through her attorney that the FBI told her to get the order of protection.
A therapist giving out all that personal information to the press? A therapist who seems to spell therapist as therapast [sic]? A substance abuse therapist who has a long string of, as well as recent arrests for DWI?
There is supposedly some significance to the reputed mail drop for the anthrax letters being within a hundred yards of a sorority house. The sorority was supposed to have been an obsession with Ivins. Yet he is not known to have visited any chapter since 1981, and never visited the Princeton chapter. Above all, the location near the mailbox was not a chapter location per se, but merely a location used only for storage.
A scientist using codeine and acetaminophen for suicide? Why when there are so many other, and far better choices available?
On and on the smears go. No substance, no meaning. Just like Steven Hatfill before Ivins, and the scientist of Arabic extraction before Hatfill. Like Richard Jewell -- the Olympic park bombing hero who the FBI picked as a patsy for that bombing. The FBI uses smears and taints hoping that someone just gives up like Ivins is supposed to have done. There is just too much wrong with this case, and every day it gets worse.
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