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Undernews For September 17, 2008

Undernews For September 17, 2008

Washington's Most Unofficial Source
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Editor: Sam Smith

17 SEP 2008


When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime. He takes up the trade of priest for the sake of gain, and in order to qualify himself for that trade he begins with a perjury. Can we conceive anything more destructive to morality than this? ---Thomas Paine





LA Times - John McCain may not be a BlackBerry user. But one of his aides was ready to give the Republican presidential nominee credit for one of the technological marvels of the modern age. In a comment that brought to mind the 2000 presidential campaign flap over whether Al Gore had invented the Internet, McCain's senior policy advisor said the candidate was responsible for the BlackBerry. Douglas Holtz-Eakin held up his little device to show reporters in Miami as he sought to explain why McCain was qualified to lead the nation out of its economic morass. "He did this," Holtz-Eakin said. "The premier innovation in the past 15 years comes right from the commerce committee. So, you're looking at the miracle that John McCain helped create." McCain is a veteran member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, which oversees telecommunication as well as aviation, trade and other economic sectors. He headed the panel from 1997 to 2001 and in 2003-04. He both regulated and deregulated that industry," Holtz-Eakin said. McCain, however, has not focused on telecom, has never chaired the telecommunications subcommittee and was one of only two senators to vote against a sweeping telecom deregulation bill in 1996.

LA Times - A day after he dismissed a federal bailout for American International Group Inc., Republican John McCain announced that circumstances had forced him to shift his position and that he supported the proposed $85-billion rescue of the insurance giant. McCain, who in recent days has slammed what he called Wall Street greed and corruption for causing the latest downward spiral of the stock market, said he had to change his position to protect millions of Americans who could be hurt if the financial company was forced to seek bankruptcy protection. "The government was forced to commit $85 billion," McCain said in a statement. "These actions stem from failed regulation, reckless management and a casino culture on Wall Street that has crippled one of the most important companies in America."

Think Progress - Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) appeared on all six broadcast and cable morning news shows in an attempt to defend his misguided belief that the "fundamentals of our economy are strong." In discussing the causes of and solutions to the current economic crisis, McCain appeared to flip-flop - in less than an hour - on the role and effectiveness of government regulation.

On NBC’s Today Show, McCain told Matt Lauer: "Of course I don’t like excessive and unnecessary regu - uh, government regulation."

But on CBS’s Early Show, McCain told Harry Smith: "Do I believe in excess government regulation? Yes. But this patchwork quilt of regulating bodies was designed for the 1930s when they were invented."

Political Wire - McCain adviser Carly Fiorina "is facing criticism from some within the campaign" for her comments stating that "neither member of the Republican ticket would be capable of running a company," CNN reports. Said a top campaign adviser: "Carly will now disappear. Senator McCain was furious. . . "Fiorina was booked for several TV interviews over the next few days, including one on CNN. Those interviews have been canceled."

TMZ - John McCain has weighed in over Barack Obama's reported slap in the face to Lindsay Lohan. The Chicago Sun-Times quotes an unnamed high-level Barack source who says they rejected Lohan's offer to host an event because she "is not exactly the kind of high-profile star who would be a positive for us." Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for the McCain campaign tells TMZ, "So let me get this straight -- they turned away Lindsay Lohan, but Barack Obama has friends like unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers and convicted felon Tony Rezko? Maybe LiLo is just too upstanding for Barack Obama."

Political Wire - "Two years ago, I warned that the oversight of Fannie and Freddie was terrible, that we were facing a crisis because of it, or certainly a serious problem." - Sen. John McCain, in an interview today via ABC News. . . "So, I'd like to tell you that I did anticipate it, but I have to give you straight talk, I did not." - McCain, in an interview with Keene Sentinel on the mortgage crisis in December 2007.


William Greider, Nation - The reason the Fed was compelled to save an American insurance company in order to save the global financial system goes to the source of the rot--the "new financial architecture" developed during the last generation. These innovations allowed banking and finance to expand their leverage explosively, borrowing and lending far beyond the traditional limits defined as prudent risk-taking. One gimmick that supposedly made this okay was the creation of esoteric insurance derivatives--the so-called "credit default swaps" that supposedly protected investors and firms against losses in mortgage securities and other debt paper.

Critics repeatedly warned that these derivatives were a time bomb--trillions of dollars in risk insurance that would be exposed as meaningless if financial markets ever experienced a sharp fall in asset values. Politicians and regulators from both parties brushed aside the critics and led cheers for Wall Street's fancy new ways of guaranteeing risk.

AIG sold those guarantees in huge volume. It assumed potential liabilities far beyond the firm's capacity to make good on the deals if something went terribly wrong. The problem is global because AIG--an imperious promoter of globalized finance--sold this rotten paper all around the world to big investors and leading banks. If AIG is suddenly insolvent, the pain and loss are spread instantly to thousands of balance sheets in Asia and Europe--banks and corporations that must suddenly write down their own assets. That's why the Fed could not wait to find out what would happen if AIG was allowed to fail. . .

Some of the largest, most respectable banks--led by JPMorgan Chase--did the same thing. It was a highly profitable line of business. The gimmick insurance was widely admired by financial economists and approved by the supposedly objective rating agencies. It is not clear to me how government intervention can unwind this feature of our corrupted financial system--short of making good on the trillions in these essentially fraudulent contracts. Not even the Federal Reserve has the assets to swallow all of Wall Street's folly and deception.

If my fears are right, a more fundamental reckoning may lie ahead and Washington will have to take far more decisive action. At some point, the new president might have to do what FDR did in the wreckage of early 1933--declare a "bank holiday" and announce emergency rules to govern banking and finance until the crisis is broken.


Progress Report - Looking at the members of McCain's "economic council those who advise the campaign on economic issues -- it becomes clear why he is so divorced from the bad economy. Some of his economic advisers helped create the housing crisis, some abused corporate loopholes to hide billions in corporate profits, and some simply refuse to admit that there is anything seriously wrong with the economy. A look at some of McCain's economic gurus:

Former senator Phil Gramm is known as McCain's "Econ Brain." Recently, he has called America "a nation of whiners" who are in a "mental recession." While in the Senate, he was behind the Commodity Futures Modernization Act and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. The former made legal "the mortgage swaps distancing the originator of the loan from the ultimate collector," while the latter "destroyed the Depression-era barrier to the merger of stockbrokers, banks and insurance companies." As The Nation wrote, "those two acts effectively ended significant regulation of the financial community." After leaving Congress, Gramm worked for the Swiss bank UBS. Politico reported that while at UBS, "Gramm lobbied Congress, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department about banking and mortgage issues in 2005 and 2006. During those years, the mortgage industry pressed Congress to roll back strong state rules that sought to stem the rise of predatory tactics used by lenders and brokers to place homeowners in high-cost mortgages." McCain has also voted against discouraging predatory lending practices.

As CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina exploited a corporate loophole to hold more than $14 billion in profits overseas, a loophole that McCain is against closing. She was forced out of HP after a merger with Compaq failed to bring Hewlett the profits that Ms. Fiorina had forecast, resulting in tumbling shares. She is also a defender of outsourcing, which she calls "right-shoring," and has said that "there is no job that is America's God-given right anymore." While McCain has recently condemned "golden parachutes" -- excessive compensation for exiting CEOs – by saying, "CEOs that led us into this mess are walking away with over $20 million, and we're not going to let that happen as president…They deserve nothing," Fiorina walked away from HP with a $21 million severance package, which, with another $21 million in options, brought her $42 million. In a 2007 interview with Fortune, Fiorina said that "what we ought not to do is regulate or legislate CEO compensation."

Rick Davis: After the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, McCain and his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK), published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that called lobbyists "primary contributors" to the crisis. One of these lobbyists though, is McCain's own campaign manager, Rick Davis, who " served as president of an advocacy group led by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that defended the two companies against increased regulation." Davis challenged even the smallest reform measures intended to make sure that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were being held more accountable for their actions. This helped the mortgage giants, "consistently [beat] back congressional efforts to increase oversight, even after a major accounting scandal in 2003 resulted in a $400 million fine for Fannie.

McCain, Donald Luskin believes that "things today just aren't that bad," and everyone should "quit doling out that bad-economy line." In a Washington Post op-ed last Sunday, he wrote that "we have surely become a nation of exaggerators" regarding the economy, despite agreeing that "the foreclosure rate is the worst since the Great Depression." Luskin claimed that "unemployment is up a bit," when it is at a five-year high of 6.1 percent. He also asserted that the housing crisis is "over."


New Rules - A new, independently owned grocery store has risen in the place of what had been a run-down, sparsely stocked market in the small town of Williamsburg, Pennsylvania (pop: 1,345). Two hundred miles away, another new independently owned grocery store is opening. This one is in a low-income, African-American neighborhood in North Philadelphia, which has been without a supermarket for ten years.

Meanwhile, one of the oldest farmers markets in the country, which has operated in the center of Lancaster since the 1730s, recently took steps to stay in business for years to come by upgrading the systems in its 19th century building.

All of these projects were made possible by the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative, a four-year-old, statewide grant and loan program for grocery store development. The first of its kind in the nation, the program aims to combat a problem plaguing many low-income communities across the country: a severe shortage of stores selling fresh groceries.

By providing loans that commercial lenders deem too risky and grants to make up for the higher costs of developing stores in central business districts and urban neighborhoods, this $120 million investment fund is seeding a new crop of food markets across the state.

To date, FFFI has made $42 million in grants and loans to finance 58 projects, about 40 percent of which are new stores and the remainder are expansions and major renovations of existing outlets. The stores range in size from tiny greengrocers to 70,000-square-foot supermarkets. About half are located in urban neighborhoods in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and the rest in small towns across rural Pennsylvania.


Thomas Frank, USA Today - A controversial new X-ray technology is being tested that could stop potential terrorists from blowing up a car bomb at one of the nation's airports, homeland security officials say. The Transportation Security Administration is running a test at a North Carolina ferry terminal of a 21-foot-high arch-like machine that shoots low-intensity X-rays at cars as they pass through. The photos show whether explosives or drugs might be in the car.


NY Magazine - The demise of publishing has been predicted since the days of Gutenberg. But for most of the past century - through wars and depressions-the business of books has jogged along at a steady pace. It’s one of the main (some would say only) advantages of working in a "mature" industry: no unsustainable highs, no devastating lows. A stoic calm, peppered with a bit of gallows humor, prevailed in the industry.

Survey New York’s oldest culture industry this season, however, and you won’t find many stoics. What you will find are prophets of doom, Cassandras in blazers and black dresses arguing at elegant lunches over What Is to Be Done. Even best-selling publishers and agents fresh from seven-figure deals worry about what’s coming . . .

The anxiety would be endurable if it was just a function of the late-Bush economy: Sales at the five big publishers were up 0.5 percent in the first half of this year, bookstore sales tanked in June, and a full-year decline is expected. But pretty much every aspect of the business seems to be in turmoil. There’s the floundering of the few remaining semi-independent midsize publishers; the ouster of two powerful CEOs-one who inspired editors and one who at least let them be; the desperate race to evolve into e-book producers; the dire state of Borders, the only real competitor to Barnes & Noble; the feeling that outrageous money is being wasted on mediocre books; and Amazon .com, which many publishers look upon as a power-hungry monster bent on cornering the whole business.

One by one, these would be difficult problems to solve. But as a series of interrelated challenges, they constitute a full-blown crisis-a climate change as unpredictable as it is inevitable. And like global warming, it elicits reactions ranging from denial to Darwinian survivalism to determined stabs at warding off disaster-attempts not to recapture some long-lost era but to harness new, untapped sources of power. That is, if it’s not too late. . .


Guardian, UK - We've heard the bankers' stories. The economists have had their say. But what do the opponents of capitalism make of the global financial crisis? Is this the moment they have been waiting for? Stephen Moss and Jon Henley ask high-profile leftwingers for their views on the meltdown - and whether any good can come of it

Jarvis Cocker, Singer

It's really nice seeing capitalism getting its comeuppance. It had gone too far: I think most people can understand capitalism when it's about companies that make real products, but when it's about organizations that just make money . . . that's abstract capitalism, it's beyond most ordinary people . . . I mean, you see the FTSE index, or whatever, running along the bottom of the TV screen and generally it just doesn't impinge at all on the way you live your life, and then suddenly you're told your life is going to take a nosedive. Who understands that?. . . Maybe a bit of a recession will do us some good. A lot of people have been living beyond their means. We've all done it, I've done it: you feel a bit depressed, you go and buy something. People might now actually talk to each other a bit more, make their own entertainment, all those other great northern cliches. The tragedy is that it will be the ordinary people who will bear the brunt. The guys who are responsible may have to sell the yacht.

Salma Yaqoob, Birmingham City councillor

When the markets were being treated as gods, we were always being promised that there'd be a trickle-down of prosperity. But all that's trickled down has been a greed-is-good philosophy. The consequence is a more unequal, self-centered, crueler Britain. It's important that we should reflect on the kind of society we've become, but also on the kind of society we want to be. . . The very people for whom it was a sacred othodoxy that there should be no government intervention are now coming to the government on their hands and knees begging for assistance. But what about the government intervening on behalf of ordinary people? Why not do something literally concrete on the ground and start building cheaper social housing? Why not put people at the centre of things?

Ken Livingstone, Former Mayor of London

Sadly, I don't think this will be the end of capitalism. But there is going to have to be a return to a much, much more interventionist state. As a system for the distribution and exchange of goods, you can't beat the market. But the mistake a lot of politicians have made is to think that because the market was good at that, it could be good at everything: it could train workers, create infrastructure, protect the environment, regulate itself. Quite obviously, it can't.

Bob and Roberta Smith, artist

Yesterday, at the same time as Lehman Brothers went belly up and Merrill Lynch was bailed out, Damien Hirst made L70m. This tells us that capitalism is not dead. The rich got richer, and the poor got poorer - and in the evening, the rich went to an art sale and spent the small change in their pockets. This crisis is kind of like the capitalist cat shifting on its cushion. I don't buy the romanticism of the left: you can't kill capitalism, trade is how people operate. But I do think the left's analysis has to be coruscating and hard. The number-crunching, the smokescreens, that particular flavor of snake oil has to be finished; this has to be about real people now. There should be no self-congratulation, no, "oh good, they're getting their comeuppance," because behind every banker there are ordinary people in bigger trouble.

(Bob and Roberta Smith is the pseudonym of artist Patrick Brill Caroline Lucas)

Ken Loach, Film director

The market is massively inefficient, capitalism is massively unstable and turbulent, and it's insane that we are all bound to this terrible wheel of instability. . . The real left is making a lot of noise about this. There'll be a convention of the left during the Labor party conference, all the shades of genuine leftwing opinion, and we'll be hammering all these questions out from a socialist perspective. But if the papers and the broadcasters fail to record it, it's very difficult for these ideas to penetrate the public consciousness. The media just turns a deaf ear; it chooses not to hear it. . .

Michel Onfray, Philosopher

Is this the end of capitalism? Absolutely not. The key feature of capitalism is that it's malleable. It has been through antiquity, feudalism, the industrial era, it has worn the guise of fascism and now it's wedding itself to the ecology cause. After this latest event, it will take on a new form. It is indestructible and works like the Hydra of Lerne, cut off one head and another grows in its place. Is this the end of society's obsession with money and credit? Not at all.

Chris Harman, Socialist Workers Party

This could be a big moment for the left. But we really need to stand up and use the "c" word, say this is a crisis of capitalism and that people are suffering. The thing is, all the media coverage yesterday was of the bankers leaving Lehman Brothers with their boxes, but the people who will really be hit are the cleaners, the secretaries - what did we see of them? We have to build resistance. Because so far we've only seen the minor problems; people stuck in foreign airports or having a bit of trouble getting a job. Things are going to get much, much worse.

George Monbiot, Green campaigner

A Keynesian solution along the lines of Roosevelt's New Deal could deliver many of the things that the left is calling for - more public spending, more training and education. I'm particularly interested in the idea of a green new deal, which would employ large numbers of people to insulate homes and carry out major environmental works. Remember that the central plank in the New Deal was the Civilian Conservation Corps, which employed three million people. It is striking that the left has been slow to capitalize on the situation. There is now a good opportunity to build a common front between trade unions, disillusioned labor voters, greens and people who feel that their economic position is slipping.

Max Keiser, Former broker

This is not a blip. It's extremely significant. We will see a shift in power away from the US, and towards the developing world - to countries such as Brazil and the Gulf states that have commodities to sell, and to China, where the savings ratio is high. We are going to see a new world order. America as a driver of the global economy is finished. The left has nothing to say about any of this. And because the left has no economic program, we will see the rise of social unrest. We are already seeing it in the US. The left has no real response to that either.

Tony Benn, Former Labor minister

I believe a new labor movement will emerge from this with a more realistic sense of how capitalism works. There is a left convention at this year's Labor conference, a sort of parallel conference. This year's Labor conference is the first in my lifetime when you will not be allowed to vote, so the left convention will get a lot of attention. At last, after a period when we've been told to trust the gamblers, there are many relevant ideas emerging on the left.

Sheila Rowbotham, Socialist feminist

In the late 19th century and also in the 1930s, the impact of depression made people begin to question whether the free market and a completely unfettered form of capitalism was the best form of organizing society. In both periods it encouraged on the left the idea of a complete social transformation through revolution, and also encouraged people to devise various schemes for social reform. The problem now - unlike in the 1880s, when people discovered the ideas of socialism, and in the 1930s, when it seemed that communism was the solution - is that the left doesn't have a coherent alternative vision. . . There is a consensus forming that says an unregulated financial system is a disaster, but whether that new left can be formed is questionable. I'd be very glad to see it happen.

George Galloway, Respect MP

I think the end of capitalism will be a process, not a single event. But each event we've seen so far has gone deeper than people have predicted, and we don't know how deep this one will go. It could well be that it marks the collapse of at least a major section of the capitalist economy: the financialization of the economy that has been powering ahead since the deregulation and neo-liberalization of the Thatcher-Reagan years.

What the left still has to overcome is its inability to speak in a language that ordinary people can understand. And to stop arguing about dead Russians.

Hari Kunzru, Novelist

A great financial economist and historian called Michael Hudson talks about how the US economy is basically fictitious, based on pretend earnings and pretend values. This will only genuinely become a crisis of capitalism if people generally become aware that much of the growth and prosperity produced by capitalism is a fiction, and if the consensus about where the real global value lies shifts radically. In other words, if people stop believing that apparently wealthy countries actually are producing wealth. I don't immediately expect to be living in some kind of Mad Max world. But this could be the death knell of the time when we were all singing the beauties of free-market capitalism.


David Talbot, Salon- The Wasilla Assembly of God, the evangelical church where Sarah Palin came of age, was still charged with excitement on Sunday over Palin's sudden ascendance. Pastor Ed Kalnins warned his congregation not to talk with any journalists who might have been lurking in the pews -- and directly warned this reporter not to interview any of his flock. But Kalnins and other speakers at the service reveled in Palin's rise to global stardom.

It confirmed, they said, that God was making use of Wasilla. "She will take our message to the world!" rejoiced an Assembly of God youth ministry leader, as the church band rocked the high-vaulted wooden building with its electric gospel.

That is what scares the Rev. Howard Bess. A retired American Baptist minister who pastors a small congregation in nearby Palmer, Wasilla's twin town in Alaska's Matanuska Valley, Bess has been tangling with Palin and her fellow evangelical activists ever since she was a Wasilla City Council member in the 1990s. Recently, Bess again found himself in the spotlight with Palin, when it was reported that his 1995 book, "Pastor, I Am Gay," was among those Palin tried to have removed from the Wasilla Public Library when she was mayor. "She scares me," said Bess. "She's Jerry Falwell with a pretty face.

"At this point, people in this country don't grasp what this person is all about. The key to understanding Sarah Palin is understanding her radical theology.". . .

Bess is unnerved by the prospect of Palin -- a woman whose mind is given to dogmatic certitude -- standing one step away from the Oval Office. "It's truly frightening that someone like Sarah has risen to the national level," Bess said. "Like all religious fundamentalists -- Christian, Jewish, Muslim -- she is a dualist. They view life as an ongoing struggle to the finish between good and evil. Their mind-set is that you do not do business with evil -- you destroy it. Talking with the enemy is not part of their plan. That puts someone like Obama on the side of evil.


Spiegel, Germany - Five weeks after the end of the war in the Caucasus, the winds have shifted in America. Even Washington is beginning to suspect that Saakashvili, a friend and ally, could in fact be a gambler -- someone who triggered the bloody five-day war and then told the West bold-faced lies. "The concerns about Russia have remained," says Paul Sanders, an expert on Russia and the director of the conservative Nixon Center in Washington. His words reflect the continuing Western assessment that Russia's military act of revenge against the tiny Caucasus nation Georgia was disproportionate, that Moscow violated international law by recognizing the separatist republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and, finally, that it used Georgia as a vehicle to showcase its imperial renaissance.

But then Saunders qualifies his statement: "More and more people are realizing that there are two sides in this conflict, and that Georgia was not as much a victim as a willing participant." Members of US President George W. Bush's administration, too, are reconsidering their position. Georgia "marched into the South Ossetian capital" after a series of provocations, says Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried.

Does this suggest that America's pronouncements of solidarity with Saakashvili were just as premature as those of the Europeans? British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had called for a "radical" review of relations with Moscow, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt decried what he called a violation of international law, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised Georgia that, at some point, it would "become a member of NATO, if it so wishes."

But now the volume is being turned down on the anti-Moscow rhetoric. Last week German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier publicly called for clarification on the question of who is to blame for the Caucasus war. "We do need to know more about who bears what portion of the responsibility for the military escalation and to what extent," Steinmeier told a meeting of Germany's more than 200 ambassadors in Berlin. The European Union, he said, must now "define our relations with the parties to the conflict for the medium and long term," and that the time has come to have concrete information. . .

The attempt to reconstruct the five-day war in August continues to revolve around one key question: Which side was the first to launch military strikes? Information coming from NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe now paints a different picture than the one that prevailed during the first days of the battle for the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali -- and is fueling the doubts of Western politicians.


Reuters, 2007 - Lehman Brothers has hired Jeb Bush, brother of the President of the United States, as an advisor to its private equity business, a source familiar with the situation said. Lehman hired another relative of U.S. President George W. Bush last year--George Walker, a second cousin, who heads up the bank's asset management business.


Progressive Review - We've noticed a growing new elite that even makes the fiscal crisis spawning boomers seem self-effacing. At the core of its style is the assumption that certainty is an adequate substitute for competence. We're not sure what created them - perhaps they believed all the TV shows they watched growing up or perhaps their boomer parents told them too many times how great they were, but we've seldom seen such rampant unsubstantiated self satisfaction. Some sociologist needs to find a name for them before they all get fired for screwing up. In the meantime we might name them Generation Rhee after that media-coddled prototype, DC school chancellor Michelle Rhee, who has gotten unending plaudits for yet to be seen results. And just when we thought we'd heard he best Rhee could tell us about herself, now comes this from the Washington Post: "D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, who didn't fuss when a PBS interviewer asked if she was a 'benevolent dictator,' made clear again that she was more than comfortable with the her-way-or the-Beltway approach. 'I think if there is one thing I have learned over the last 15 months it's that cooperation, collaboration and consensus-building are way overrated,' she told the Aspen Institute's education summit at the Mayflower Hotel." Wonder if the students will be tested to make sure they've learned that, too.


Bozeman Daily Chronicle, MT - The Bozeman School District plans to require every student to wear or carry ID badges at school and after-school events. Security has also been taken up a notch at Bozeman High with the recent installation of motion-activated digital video-recording cameras throughout the school. "It's part of our safety plan," Superintendent Kirk Miller said last week. "When you are proactive, students and adults and anybody in the school knows the cameras could pick up anything. That's a deterrent."

Requiring 1,900 high school students to wear or carry identification badges is simply considered "good practice" in education today, he said. Hospitals and other public organizations require their staffs to wear badges. For the past year, the School District has required its 750 employees to wear ID badges on lanyards around their necks. "That's the way the world is today," Miller said. "The world is different after 9/11."

Bozeman High has always issued student ID cards, which students carry in their wallets, pockets, purses or backpacks. The difference is that students haven't been required to carry their IDs when they leave the classroom. Wearing them on lanyards will be optional. . .

Emily Hogin, 15, a sophomore, said she understands that school officials want to prevent someone with bad intentions from entering the school, but added, "It's kind of ridiculous. We live in little Bozeman, Montana. It's kind of overkill."

Hannah Galloway, 17, a senior, said student ID cards are great because they let students get discounts on movies and ski passes, but if she had to wear one all the time, "I think it's completely ridiculous.". . .

Freshman Kaitlin Webb, 14, heading home after school with her trombone, said she doesn't like the idea of wearing badges. "It makes our school seem like creepy big ones, in big cities," she said. "A lot of people don't like it. . . It kinda makes us feel like they're treating us like criminals." She added some girls don't like the idea of wearing ID badges because, "It clashes with your outfit.". . .

Asked if students in younger grades will someday be required to wear badges, Miller said, "We're phasing it in."


NORML - Police arrested a record 872,721 persons for marijuana violations in 2007, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's annual Uniform Crime Report. This is the largest total number of annual arrests for cannabis ever recorded by the FBI. Cannabis arrests now comprise nearly 47 percent of all drug arrests in the United States. . . Of those charged with marijuana violations, approximately 89 percent, 775,138 Americans were charged with possession only. The remaining 97,583 individuals were charged with "sale/manufacture," a category that includes all cultivation offenses, even those where the marijuana was being grown for personal or medical use. Nearly three in four of those arrested are under age 30.


Politico -Earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made a personal appeal to Barack Obama: Help me grow the Democrats' Senate majority by sharing some of the $77 million you've got in the bank. Obama's campaign said no.

Although Democratic insiders say a better deal could still come, the Obama campaign so far has agreed only to let Senate Democrats use Obama's name - as well as those of his wife and running mate - in mail and online fundraising pitches. The campaign has planned no joint fundraising events with House or Senate Democrats, and insiders say none is likely to be held before Election Day. . .

Obama raised a record-setting $66 million in August, leaving his campaign with about $77 million in cash now. . .

Reid and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer had hoped at one point to get as much as $10 million from the Obama campaign. With 23 GOP seats up for grabs this year - versus only a dozen Democratic seats - Senate Democrats see a once-in-a-generation opportunity to pad their majority with as many as four to seven new seats.


Washington Post - If you're one of those Manhattan-haters who hopes the city has been truly smacked upside the head by all the grim news out of Wall Street, listen to Alan Matarasso, a plastic surgeon with an office on Park Avenue. In recent months, there's been little drop-off in the number of face pulls, breast augmentations and tummy tucks he does. Actually, he says, the turmoil has caused an uptick in a certain type of client: the laid-off, mid-career executive who wants to hit the job market looking as taut as possible. The only hint of bad news is that some clients are suddenly getting cost-conscious -- for instance, the teenager who recently came in for a nose job. "I had worked on three of her siblings," Matarasso said. "Now, normally I charge $9,000 for a nose job, but we knew for a fact that her father had had a change in situation, so we worked with that person. We didn't charge an operating room fee, which is about $2,000.". . .

A few Lehman-ites have put their homes in the Hamptons on the market in the last couple of days. . . and others have pulled out of negotiations on deals that were imminent. A lot of potential buyers and sellers are in holding-pattern mode, waiting for a hint about what's coming next. . .

Here's what else New York has going for it these days: foreigners. Lots and lots of foreigners. They're coming to town and picking up where U.S. buyers are leaving off. Gallery owner Jeffrey Deitch says that in the past six months, his business would have cooled were it not for all the Russians, Middle Easterners and Asian buyers who took up the slack. "One of the biggest problems in the art market now is that when people come from the Middle East, they have such a humiliatingly long time getting through JFK Airport some of them aren't coming anymore," Deitch said. "You write for a Washington audience. Tell them we need visa reform!"

Without foreigners, the high-end hair stylist who calls herself Ouidad -- that's it, just Ouidad -- would be in the red. In her salon near 57th Street and Fifth Avenue, she noticed lately that a lot of American clients who once came every 10 weeks for a cut are now coming every 13.

The caterers. . . are already groaning. Bryan Jacobsen, who runs a company called CEM, now earns a measly 1 percent profit on many of the events he bids to cater. "I used to charge about $14,000 for a 100-person cocktail party," he said. "Now, I'm lucky to charge $9,000." Just as bad, the phones aren't ringing for holiday parties. "I should be getting about five or six calls a day, and I'm getting about three per week. The party is always the first thing to go. They cut what they consider fat."

Times UK - Shocked Lehman workers packed up and left without knowing whether they would be paid. There were tears, hugs and the solace of alcohol for those who left Canary Wharf yesterday with their possessions in cardboard boxes. But the collapse of Lehman Brothers spread so far and so fast yesterday that across the capital it was felt even by West London poodles.

Lucy Kennedy, who runs a dog-walking business in Kensington, lost business almost immediately. A Lehman employee had phoned that morning to tell her that he no longer needed a professional to look after his poodle. "I've also had customers who have decided to get their dogs rehomed, to save the expense," she said. . .

About 5,000 Lehman staff lost their jobs yesterday with no guarantee that they would be paid up to date, no payoff and no pension. Many had bought homes or borrowed heavily on the back of share options that made them paper millionaires - but which are now worthless.

For 24-year-old Edouard d'Archimbaud, it was supposed to be the beginning of a new career as a trader. But he was intercepted on the way to his desk and told that his first day would also be his last. "Everybody is fired," he said. "A friend of mine working for a French investment bank told me a joke last week that Lehman Brothers employees were putting only L5 on their canteen cards so they would not lose any money. It was a joke, but now it is a reality."

Mark Exley, a former Lehman Brothers trader who had 11 years of bonuses locked in as shares until next year, watched helplessly as his dreams of early retirement evaporated. . . "For managing directors, 50 or 60 per cent of their bonuses were paid in stock, so for some people that would mean $2.5 million to $3 million. I know a lot of people at Lehman who have spent the money already - they have bought holiday homes or other things.". . .

Sphinx Patterson, 35, who until yesterday ran fitness classes for the bank's employees, described the reaction at Canary Wharf, in East London. "Girls were crying, men were hugging each other," he said. . .

Nearby pubs were doing good business. Michael Barrington-Hibbert, a director of Odgers Search, a City recruitment agency, headed to the Slug & Lettuce pub yesterday morning with a pack of 200 business cards, certain that he would pick up some business. "I've seen senior Lehman managers going round the bars, handing out their CVs. One agency has set up a registration desk at the Reebok gym, all the headhunters are down here."

Telegraph, UK - Sphinx Patterson, the inscrutably-nicknamed personal trainer employed to keep bodies fit and minds sharp, took the day off. There were no takers for body pump and step. People were too busy looking for jobs. "People are in total disbelief," Mr Patterson said. "People are just hugging each other, having a drink in the bar upstairs, the cleaners are slumped on the floor, everyone is wondering what to do next.". . .


Bruce E, Levine, Alternet - In The Sane Society, [Erich] Fromm wrote, "Many psychiatrists and psychologists refuse to entertain the idea that society as a whole may be lacking in sanity. They hold that the problem of mental health in a society is only that of the number of 'unadjusted' individuals, and not of a possible unadjustment of the culture itself."

Is American society a healthy one, and are those having difficulties adjusting to it mentally ill? Or is American society an unhealthy one, and are many Americans with emotional difficulties simply alienated rather than ill? For Fromm, "An unhealthy society is one which creates mutual hostility (and) distrust, which transforms man into an instrument of use and exploitation for others, which deprives him of a sense of self, except inasmuch as he submits to others or becomes an automaton." Fromm viewed American society as an increasingly unhealthy one, in which people routinely experience painful alienation that fuels emotional and behavioral difficulties. . .

The essential confrontation for Fromm is not about psychiatric drugs per se (though he would be sad that so many Americans nowadays, especially children, are prescribed psychotropic drugs in order to fit into inhospitable environments). His essential confrontation was directed at all mental health professionals -- including non-prescribers such as psychologists, social workers and counselors -- who merely assist their patients to adjust but neglect to validate their patients' alienation from society.

Those comfortably atop societal hierarchies have difficulty recognizing that many American institutions promote helplessness, passivity, boredom, fear, isolation, alienation and dehumanization for those not at the top. One-size-fits-all schools, the corporate workplace, government bureaucracies and other giant, impersonal institutions routinely promote manipulative relationships rather than respectful ones, machine efficiency rather than human pride, authoritarian hierarchies rather than participatory democracy, disconnectedness rather than community, and helplessness rather than empowerment.

In The Sane Society, Fromm warned, "Today the function of psychiatry, psychology and psychoanalysis threatens to become the tool in the manipulation of man. The specialists in this field tell you what the 'normal' person is, and, correspondingly, what is wrong with you; they devise the methods to help you adjust, be happy, be normal.". . .

It is my experience that psychiatry, Scientology and fundamentalist religions are turnoffs for genuinely critical thinkers. Critical thinkers are not so desperate to adjust and be happy that they ignore adverse affects -- be they physical, psychological, spiritual or societal. Critical thinkers listen to what others have to say while considering their motives, especially financial ones; and they discern how one's motivation may distort one's assumptions.

A critical thinker would certainly not merely accept without analysis Fromm's and my conclusion that American society is insane in terms of healthy human development. . .

A critical thinker would most certainly point out that there have been societies far less sane than the United States -- and Erich Fromm made himself absolutely clear on this point. In the barbaric German society that Fromm fled, disruptive children who couldn't fit into one-size-fits-all schools were not forced to take Adderall and other amphetamines, but instead their parents handed them over to psychiatrists to be euthanized. Fromm, however, knew that just because one could point to societies less sane than the United States, this did not make the United States a sane, humanistic society.

Bruce E. Levine, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and author of Surviving America's Depression Epidemic: How to Find Morale, Energy, and Community in a World Gone Crazy (Chelsea Green, 2007


National Security Network - Five former American secretaries of state all reaffirmed their support for direct talks with Iran. Henry Kissinger went as far as to say that there must be high-level talks with the Iranians "without conditions." Barack Obama has called for tough direct diplomacy with Iran, but John McCain who continues to call this approach "naïve."

At the event sponsored by the Center for New American Security, George Washington University, Rice University and City College, Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell James Baker, Madeleine Albright and Warren Christopher all agreed. Former Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright advised that "You need to engage with countries you have problems with," and said "I believe we need to engage with Iran." Colin Powell, Secretary of State under George W. Bush echoed the need for negotiations stating: "Let's get together and talk about nuclear weapons."

Henry Kissinger, an advisor to John McCain, supports negotiating with Iran "without preconditions." Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State under Presidents Nixon and Ford, not only indicated that he "was in favor of negotiating with Iran," but said that such negotiations should occur "without conditions," and should begin at a high level."


After Downing Street - Vincent Bugliosi, criminal prosecutor and author of The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, will appear in Burlington with Charlotte Dennett, a Cambridge-based attorney and Progressive Party candidate for Attorney General, on Thursday at Burlington City Hall at 10 a.m. The two attorneys will announce their intention to commence criminal proceedings against George W. Bush in the event that Dennett succeeds in her bid to become the next Attorney General of Vermont.

As a Los Angeles District Attorney, Bugliosi successfully prosecuted 105 out of 106 felony jury trials, including 21 murder convictions without a single loss. He is best known for prosecuting Charles Manson, an experience he memorialized in his book Helter Skelter. His most recent book, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, has become a sensation since its publication this summer. "I have never received such a passionate response as I have to this book," says Bugliosi. "Most Americans are deeply offended that George W. Bush has not been held accountable for his many crimes while in office, the most egregious of which is the murder of over 4,000 American soldiers and over 100,000 Iraqi civilians. My book lays out the framework of how he can be brought to justice in any state in this country; a framework which I hope will serve notice to future occupants in the White House."

Dennett has been practicing law in Vermont since 1997 and has been an investigative journalist for more than 30 years. "When I read Mr. Bugliosi's meticulously-argued case," says Dennett, "it struck a chord with me as a Vermonter and an American citizen. Tragically, our state has the highest per capita loss of soldiers. 36 towns have voted to impeach President Bush. We Vermonters fiercely cherish our democracy and our country's Constitution. We're up for this fight."


Joe Biden in Michigan - Eight years ago, a man ran for President who claimed he was different, not a typical Republican. He called himself a reformer. He admitted that his Party, the Republican Party, had been wrong about things from time to time. He promised to work with Democrats and said he'd been doing that for a long time.

That candidate was George W. Bush. Remember that? Remember the promise to reach across the aisle? To change the tone? To restore honor and dignity to the White House?

We saw how that story ends. A record number of home foreclosures. Home values, tumbling. And the disturbing news that the crisis you've been facing on Main Street is now hitting Wall Street, taking down Lehman Brothers and threatening other financial institutions.

We've seen eight straight months of job losses. Nearly 46 million Americans without health insurance. Average incomes down, while the price of everything -- from gas to groceries -- has skyrocketed. A military stretched thin from two wars and multiple deployments.

A nation more polarized than I've ever seen in my career. And a culture in Washington where the very few wealthy and powerful have a seat at the table and everybody else is on the menu.

Eight years later, we have another Republican nominee who's telling us the exact same thing:

This time it will be different, it really will. This time he's going to put country before party, to change the tone, reach across the aisle, change the Republican Party, change the way Washington works.

We've seen this movie before, folks. But as everyone knows, the sequel is always worse than the original.

If we forget this history, we're going to be doomed to repeat it -- with four more just like the last eight, or worse. If you're ready for four more years of George Bush, John McCain is your man.

Just as George Herbert Walker Bush was nicknamed "Bush 41" and his son is known as "Bush 43," John McCain could easily become known as "Bush 44.". . .

Take a hard look at the positions John has taken for the past 26 years, on the economy, on health care, on foreign policy, and you'll see why I say that John McCain is just four more years of George Bush. On the issues that you talk about around the kitchen table, Mary's college tuition, the cost of the MRI for mom, heating our home this winter -- John McCain is profoundly out of touch.

Senator McCain has confessed, quote, "It's easy for me to go to Washington and frankly, be somewhat divorced from the day-to-day challenges people have." And he's right, if all you do is walk the halls of power, all you hear are the wants of the powerful.
I believe that's why Senator McCain could say with a straight face, as recently as this morning, and I quote "the fundamentals of our economy are strong." That, "We've made great progress economically" during the Bush years. But friends, I could walk from here to Lansing, and I wouldn't run into a single person who thought our economy was doing well, unless I ran into John McCain.

John McCain just doesn't seem to understand what middle class people are going through today. I don't doubt that he cares. He just doesn't think that we have any responsibility to help people who are hurting.

My dad used to have an expression: "Don't tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value."

By that measure, John McCain doesn't stand with the middle class. He stands with George Bush firmly in the corner of the wealthy and well-connected. He stands with the CEO of Exxon-Mobil, who, while testifying before my Senate judiciary committee swore to me under oath that Exxon-Mobil didn't need the tax breaks they'd been given to explore for oil.

John McCain is so firmly in their corner he thinks the Exxon-Mobils of the world should get an additional $4 billion dollars a year in tax cuts.

He stands in the corner of the wealthiest Americans by extending tax cuts for people making over a quarter million dollars a year, and then adding more than $300 billion on top of that for corporations and the wealthy.

There is simply no daylight - at least none I can see -- between John McCain and George Bush.

On every major challenge we face, from the economy, to health care, to education and Iraq, you can barely tell them apart.

Don't take my word for it, look at the record. Ninety percent of the time, John McCain votes with George Bush.

Here's what that means:

When George Bush called for Social Security to be privatized, John McCain stood with him - he even campaigned for that roundly rejected plan.

When George Bush says that the government has no obligation to re-train or provide extended unemployment benefits for people who have lost their jobs due to trade agreements, John McCain echoes that view, and has said that Bush is "Right on trade... absolutely."

When George Bush said we shouldn't investigate why the government's response to Hurricane Katrina was so incompetent, John McCain stood with him.

When George Bush initially opposed a new GI Bill that would send a new generation of veterans to college, John McCain stood with him, calling Senator Webb's effort too generous.

When George Bush blocked our efforts to provide health care to another 3.8 million children, John McCain stood with him.

And when, in early 2007, George Bush suggested that the health care benefits you get through your employer should be taxed as income, John McCain stood with him. And now, John McCain has resurrected that idea, and made it an essential part of his health care plan. . .

In the last 16 years, he's voted 23 times against the renewable energy - wind, solar, biofuels -- we need to free ourselves from foreign oil.

Since he arrived in the Senate over 20 years ago, he's voted more than 19 times against the minimum wage. . .

Time and again John voted against increased funding for Pell grants to help families with incomes under $55,000 send their kids to college.

Time and again, John McCain voted to make it harder for women to achieve equal pay for the same work - making it harder to prove, and punish, discrimination. He even voted against a study to determine if there is a gap between what men and women are paid. Twice.

Governor Palin says all senators do is vote. Well, just imagine what the country would look like if John's votes had become the law of the land.

In John McCain's America, we wouldn't guarantee that more of energy would come from wind, solar, and other renewables. The minimum wage would still be $3.35 an hour. There would have been 100,000 fewer police on the beat. There would have been no national domestic violence hotline for the 1.5 million women who were in crisis and needed somewhere to turn.

Over 160,000 members of the Guard and Reserve who answered their country's call and served more than one tour in Iraq or Afghanistan would get no credit towards an education for their additional sacrifice. Fewer parents would be able to afford to send their kids to college. And women who were discriminated against on the basis of pay would more difficulty making their case. Thank God that's not the America we live in.

John McCain recently said: "the issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should." Then he proved it by the advisors he chose to surround him - advisors who have further cocooned him from the reality facing the rest of us. People like Phil Gramm. The man who wrote John McCain's economic plan actually said, repeatedly, that we're not going through an economic recession. Phil Gramm says it's just a mental recession. That we're a nation of whiners.

Tell that to my friend who flew jets for the Navy and then went to work for a commercial airline for over 20 years - only to see his pension wiped out while his CEO got a golden parachute. Don't tell me that he is a whiner.

Don't tell me that the woman I met in Missouri who worked for the Chrysler plant for 13 years making minivans and lost her job when production moved to Canada is a whiner.

Don't tell me that an engineer who sees his job go overseas because his company has been given a tax break to leave instead of one to stay is a whiner.

Don't tell me that these people, people who are our nation's heart and soul - deserve to be treated as economic scapegoats.

These people worked hard, they did everything right, and they're willing to work hard again. But instead of their government supporting them, their government walked away from them. Nobody stood up for them.

Barack and I will.

. . When you and your economic advisors are so out of touch, it's no surprise that your economic policies ignore the challenges that normal families face.

Let me just give you one more example. In the midst of this housing crisis, John McCain said, "I will fight for those that lost their... real estate investments." He went on to say, "It's not the role of government to bail out big banks or small borrowers." What about small borrowers? What about homeowners? What about the people who don't invest in homes, but live in them? There's an important distinction between the predators and the preyed upon.

I heard that a Republican County Chairman right here in Michigan said that they're keeping a list of foreclosed homes, suggesting that if you've lost your home, you should also lose your vote. I have a different idea. I think that if you're worried about losing your home, you should vote for the guys who are going to help you keep it. . .

Ladies and Gentlemen, as of today, there are 50 days until Election Day. That's just seven more weeks to talk about the direction we're going to take this country, to talk about the issues of concern in your lives, to talk about you. But as his campaign manager has said, and I quote, "This election is not about issues.". . .

Barack Obama believes that progress in this country is measured by how many people have a decent job where they're shown respect. How many people can pay their mortgage. How many people can turn their ideas into a new business. How many people can turn to their kids and say "It's going to be okay" with the knowledge that the opportunities they give will be better than the ones they received.

That's the American dream. That's what the people in my neighborhood grew up believing. And I want our kids to have the same dream.

My father always told me, "Champ, when you get knocked down, get up. Get up." It's time to get up. It's time to trust the grit and determination of the American people.

America is ready. You are ready. I am ready. And Barack Obama is ready. Our best days are yet to come.



CNN, 2004 - The Arabic-language network Al-Jazeera released a full transcript Monday of the most recent videotape from Osama bin Laden in which the head of al Qaeda said his group's goal is to force America into bankruptcy. . . "We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. Allah willing, and nothing is too great for Allah," bin Laden said in the transcript.

He said the mujahedeen fighters did the same thing to the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s, "using guerrilla warfare and the war of attrition to fight tyrannical superpowers. . . We, alongside the mujahedeen, bled Russia for 10 years until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat."

"All that we have to do is to send two mujahedeen to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al Qaeda, in order to make generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses without their achieving anything of note other than some benefits for their private corporations," bin Laden said. . .

As part of the "bleed-until-bankruptcy plan," bin Laden cited a British estimate that it cost al Qaeda about $500,000 to carry out the attacks of September 11, 2001, an amount that he said paled in comparison with the costs incurred by the United States.


Margot Canaday, The Nation - During the 1600s, the American colonies adopted sodomy (or "buggery") laws that prohibited bestiality as well as anal sex between either a man and a woman or between two men. (New Haven Colony was rare in including sexual acts between women as part of its sodomy prohibition.) Punishment -- which included death -- was draconian, but the laws were very rarely enforced. Historians know of less than ten executions for sodomy throughout the seventeenth century. Of those few, almost all involved assault or sex with animals. These laws were not directed in any particular way toward homosexuality. Indeed, they couldn't be -- the idea that there was a type of person who was a homosexual didn't even emerge until the late nineteenth century, a result of urbanization, industrialization and the development of medical/sexological discourse. . .

Eighteenth-century Americans were even less likely to police sodomy than their seventeenth-century forebears. There is only one known capital case during the eighteenth century -- a slave named Mingo for "forcible buggery" -- and after independence all thirteen states revoked the death penalty for sodomy convictions, although all adopted laws criminalizing anal sex (whether the recipient was male or female, adult or child, man or beast). Those laws were maintained into the nineteenth century, when they were used in cases in which the sex enacted was either violent or extremely public. Immigrants and men of African descent were most commonly charged with the crime. But the general pattern was non-enforcement. . .

This pattern began to shift at the beginning of the twentieth century. Loosening morals and new patterns of urban sociability prompted officials to expand sodomy laws to include fellatio, which most states did by the 1920s. If more kinds of behavior counted as sodomy, more people could be vulnerable under the law, and so more aggressive policing ensued. Women as well as men were prosecuted for fellatio, for example, and a few states also included cunnilingus within the purview of the "crime against nature." While sodomy arrests during these years increased tenfold as compared with the late nineteenth century, the policing of sodomy was still modest relative to other sexual offenses -- adultery, fornication, prostitution and rape were the sexual crimes that most absorbed the resources of urban police forces. Moreover, until the mid twentieth century, the vast majority of sodomy arrests were for rape-like offenses: assault of a man or a woman, or sexual activity with a child (assault by definition, since children cannot legally consent).



When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime. He takes up the trade of priest for the sake of gain, and in order to qualify himself for that trade he begins with a perjury. Can we conceive anything more destructive to morality than this? ---Thomas Paine


Rasmussen - Sarah Palin bests Joseph Biden 47% to 44% in a hypothetical head-to-head match-up for the presidency, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Just over half of voters view both of the vice presidential candidates at least somewhat favorably, although 35% rate their opinion of Palin as very favorable while only 23% feel that way about Biden. Twenty-eight percent (28%) have a very unfavorable opinion of the woman governor of Alaska versus 20% who say that about the longtime Delaware senator. Women continue to be more skeptical than men of the Republican vice presidential nominee, only the second woman to be on a national political ticket. While men split 50% to 37% in Palin's favor, women support Biden 50% to 44%. When Palin is pitted against Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee wins 50% to 43%.

CNN - Former Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday that he has not yet decided which candidate to back in this year's presidential race. The election of an African-American president "would be electrifying," Powell told a George Washington University audience, "but at the same time [I have to] make a judgment here on which would be best for America. I have been watching both individuals, I know them both extremely well, and I have not decided who I am going to vote for. And I'm interested to see what the debates are going to be like because we have to get off of this ‘lipstick on a pig' stuff and get into issues," he said.

Daily Kos - Former GOP governor Linwood Holton today endorsed a Democrat for president for the first time and is going to stump critical areas of the state for him. Linwood Holton is the hero of moderate Republicans in Virginia. He defeated the segregationist Democrat for governor and fought GOP right wingers. Holton is widely regarded as the father of the Republican party in Virginia. When Richmond public schools were ordered integrated Holton enrolled his children in the AA school close to the governor's mansion and walked them to school. He supported his son-in-law Tim Kaine for governor but has never supported a Democratic presidential candidate.

CNN: The Democratic presidential nominee has never tried to hide the fact he delivers speeches off the device, though normally he doesn't use one at standard campaign rallies and town hall events. But the Illinois senator used a teleprompter at both his Colorado events Monday - making for a particularly peculiar scene in Pueblo, where the prompter was set up in the middle of what is normally a rodeo ring.

On the other hand, his partner could have used one. This, from Biden, is not the best way to win votes: "The Republican party and some of the blogs and others on the far right, are trying very hard to paint a picture of this man, they're trying the best as they can to mischaracterize who he is and what he stands for.
All this stuff about how different Barack Obama is, they're not just used to somebody really smart. They're just not used to somebody who's really well educated. They just don't know quite how to handle it. Cause if he's as smart as Barack is he must not be from my neighborhood."

Politico - As banks reeled and presidential campaigns scrambled to react to the crisis on Wall Street Monday, color one man unsurprised. "I predicted this," said Ralph Nader, the independent presidential candidate. "All this I’ve written about five, 10 years ago.". . . It wasn’t just banks that Nader criticized. In a letter to congressional leaders, Nader also attacked the idea of a government loan to major automakers, alleging that Congress was rushing to pass "panic legislation without due deliberations, without even having public congressional hearings." As Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain attempt to present themselves as plausible economic stewards, Nader told Politico both major party candidates fall short of addressing the root causes of the latest bank failures. According to Nader, Obama and McCain are too worried about containing fallout to take on the banks’ irresponsible behavior. "Look at how they are knee-jerking similar approaches," Nader said, chiding the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees for their support, earlier this year, for bailing out Bear Stearns.

Huffington Post - "She's not telling the truth when she told ABC neither she nor her husband pressured me to fire Trooper Wooten," said Walt Monegan, the Alaskan official whose dismissal by Sarah Palin is the focus of a state investigation known as "Troopergate". "And she's not telling the truth to the media about her reasons for firing me." In an exclusive interview with ABC, former Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan said he resisted pressure by the First Couple to re-open an old case against a state trooper, who was in a hotly contested divorce and custody battle with the Governor's sister Molly. Alaskan lawmakers are investigating whether Palin and her husband used the power of the Governor's office to conduct a personal vendetta against their former brother-in-law, whose behavior during the 2005 divorce was described by the Palin family as " threatening."

Radar - John McCain surrogate Carly Fiorina, being interviewed by a St. Louis radio station, was asked whether vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin had the experience to run a company like Hewlett-Packard, which Fiorina herself once headed. "No, I don't," she responded. Fiorina, who was forced out of her job after her company lost half its market value, quickly added, "But you know what? That's not what she's running for." Anyway, who cares? She can kill and clean her own moose! What more do you people want?

Political Wire - Gov. Sarah Palin "had a private tanning bed installed in the Governor's Mansion in Juneau," according to Us magazine. "Tanning beds can cost up to $35,000 to install in a home -- not including the cost of parts." Said a spokesman: "She did. She paid for it with her own money."


Cincinnnati Enquirer - About one-third of the absentee ballot applications received at the Hamilton County Board of Elections have been ruled invalid because Republican Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign printed a version of the form with an extra, unneeded box on it. In a narrow interpretation of Ohio law, Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner says many of the McCain forms have not been completed properly. If the box stating the person is an eligible elector -- or qualified voter - is not checked, Brunner said, the application is no good. Even though the box is unneeded, by not checking it voters are essentially admitting they're not eligible, Brunner said. "I have not seen a ruling that indirectly impacts voters to the enormity of this since I've been here,'' Hamilton County Board of Elections Deputy Director John Williams said of his nearly five-year tenure at the board. More than 750 absentee ballot requests in Hamilton County have been invalidated because of Brunner's ruling, Williams said. Absentee voting begins in 19 days, or on Sept. 30. If a registered Ohio voter's application is rejected, Brunner said, "We said you have to notify them within 48 hours and we also suggest that (Board of Elections) send them a new application." That means county Boards of Election must contact tens of thousands of voters and ask them to fill out a new, valid form in time to vote for the Nov. 4 election. The McCain campaign says it mailed out about 1 million of the faulty forms.


Rodrigue Tremblay Global Research - This major crisis has to be placed at the very feet of the Washington establishment. This is a politico-financial establishment that has pushed to the limits its ideology of deregulation of financial markets and stretched the working of unregulated corporate market capitalism to the breaking point. Now, the system is imploding under our very eyes and financial institutions are falling like dominos. . . The U.S. financial problem is not one of liquidity, (there is plenty of liquidity provided by the Fed when banks and brokers can borrow at will newly printed dollars from the Fed’s discount window) but one of solvency, weak balance sheets, risky assets and debt liquidation. That’s a horse of a different color.

Over the last twenty-five years, beginning with the Reagan administration and culminating with the current Bush-Cheney administration, the Washington establishment dismantled piece by piece the system of protection that had been built since the 1930’s economic depression and removed nearly all government regulations that could stand in the way of greed and gouging on the part of unscrupulous market operators. . . What we are witnessing these days in the U.S. is a massive wealth transfer from taxpayers, savers and retirees to banks, their creditors and their managers. On the one hand, the Fed has pushed real interest rates deep into negative territory to help troubled banks, and, on the other hand, the American taxpayers have to foot the bill for bailing out very large financial institutions.

David Corn, Mother Jones - If McCain wants to hold someone accountable for the failure in transparency and accountability that led to the current calamity, he should turn to his good friend and adviser, Phil Gramm. Eight years ago, Gramm, then a Republican senator chairing the Senate banking committee, slipped a 262-page bill into a gargantuan, must-pass spending measure. Gramm's legislation, written with the help of financial industry lobbyists, essentially removed newfangled financial products called swaps from any regulation. Credit default swaps are basically insurance policies that cover the losses on investments, and they have been at the heart of the subprime meltdown because they have enabled large financial institutions to turn risky loans into risky securities that could be packaged and sold to other institutions. . .
Lehman, the fourth-largest securities firm until last week, has been one of the 10 largest counterparties in the market for credit-default swaps, according to a 2007 report by Fitch Ratings. The market, which is unregulated and has no central exchange where prices are disclosed, has been the fastest-growing type of so-called over-the-counter derivative, according to the Bank for International Settlements.



Think Progress - In 2004, after top Justice Department lawyers refused to re-certify the legality of President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program, the Bush administration re-authorized the program anyway without the Justice Department's approval. Previous accounts of the program's re-authorization reported that the "line for the attorney general's signature remained blank." But in the Washington Post today, Barton Gellman reports that Vice President Cheney's lawyer, David Addington, actually signed then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales's name to the document: "Addington opened the code-word-classified file on his computer. He had a presidential directive to rewrite. It has been widely reported that Bush executed the March 11 order with a blank space over the attorney general's signature line. That is not correct . For reasons both symbolic and practical, the vice president's lawyer could not tolerate an empty spot where a mutinous subordinate should have signed. Addington typed a substitute signature line: 'Alberto R. Gonzales.'


WGME, ME - Portland City Council unanimously approved a new plan that limits the time drivers can leave their vehicles idling. The new plan makes it illegal for vehicles to idle for more than 5 minutes. . . City Councilors will give drivers six months to get used to the new anti-idling ordinance, and within that time offenders will be given written warnings. After the 180-day grace period is up, police will begin handing out $50 tickets. As for the winter weather that's quickly approaching, when the temperature dips below 32 degrees, drivers will be allowed a 15-minute window to let their vehicles warm up. Then when the temperature hits the zero degree mark, the limit on letting your car idle will be lifted.

Berkeley has approved a plan to give loans of up to $22,0000 to home owners to install rooftop solar power. The loans would be paid off over 200 years as part of the homeowners' property tax bill.


Times Standard, CA - A landmark decision for all Californian's quietly made history on August 20th in a Santa Cruz courtroom. For the first time since 1996, when the Compassionate Use Act was passed, the federal authorities have been charged with violating the 10th Amendment for harassing medical marijuana patients and state authorities. The case of Santa Cruz vs. Mukasey, was heard by U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel, who said the Bush Administration's request to dismiss a lawsuit by Santa Cruz city and county officials, and the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana wasn't going to happen.


ABC - An ubiquitous ingredient in plastics has been linked to diabetes and heart disease in adults, according to a study being released today, heightening concerns about the widespread use of the chemical BPA. Water bottles A new study has found a link between BPA, a chemical found in some water bottles, and medical disorders, such as diabetes. Otherwise known as bisphenol A, BPA is the chemical once studied as a synthetic form of estrogen, but more recently known to leach out of some plastic water bottles and baby bottles, and that is found in all kinds of plastic products. "We're talking about pacifiers, sippy cups, spoons, the bath toys, the chew toys ... everything," said Sommer Poquette, mother of two toddlers and author of the blog Green and Clean Mom. "It's hard to get a BPA-free product," said Poquette. The concerns of people like Poquette will likely be heightened by a study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association in which researchers found a connection between BPA and diabetes and heart disease in adults. Scientists reviewed the health of 1,455 American adults and found that people with higher concentrations of BPA in their urine were slightly more likely to have heart disease and diabetes. The researchers also estimate that most Americans are exposed to a higher level of BPA each day than the current Environmental Protection Agency recommendation.

Common Dreams - Doctors, nurses, consumers and community activists from throughout New York State came together in Albany to create a statewide coalition to push for adoption of a single payer health care system at the federal and state levels. Single Payer NY will help coordinate grassroots education and outreach activities in support of single payer throughout the state. They already have county coordinators in two dozen counties. . . A recent national survey by Indiana University of 2,193 doctors found a solid majority, almost 60 percent, supporting government legislation to establish national health insurance - a 10 percent increase in support since 2002. A March 2007 poll by CBS/ NY Times found that 64 percent of the respondents said the government should guarantee health insurance for all.

Progress Report - In July, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services quietly amended its list of required vaccinations for immigrants applying to become citizens. One of the newest requirements was Gardasil, which vaccinates against the human papillomavirus, the most common sexually transmitted viral infection in the United States. The problem with this regulation is that the HPV vaccine is not mandatory for U.S. citizens. Therefore, U.S. citizens are allowed to weigh the costs and risks associated with Gardasil, but immigrants are forced to pay-out-of-pocket for a vaccine they might not want to take. Without health insurance, the three-shot vaccine can cost $162 per dose, making it the most expensive vaccine on the market. "Given Gardasil’s high cost, and the fact that there does not seem to be a public health justification for this particular mandate, I’m concerned that its real purpose is to create a financial barrier for immigrant women who seek to lawfully enter this country," said Jessica Arons of the Center for American Progress.


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