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Undernews For September 24, 2008

Undernews For September 24, 2008

FROM THE PROGRESSIVE REVIEW
Washington's Most Unofficial Source
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Editor: Sam Smith

24 SEP 2008

WORD

This is what separated us from you; we made demands. You were satisfied to serve the power of your nation and we dreamed of giving ours the truth -- Albert Camus to a German friend after WW2.

CRASH TALK

Crooks & Liars - Ulrich Wilhelm, spokesman for Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said there was no need for "a measure along the lines of what has been decided in the US". Peer Steinbrück, the German finance minister, also made clear after a telephone conference with his contemporaries in the G7 group of leading nations that Berlin did not need to set up a rescue package. . . …The French government also said it did not plan to set up a toxic asset fund or contribute to the US scheme. British officials said they had already instigated a special liquidity scheme, but like France and Germany they did not intend to pursue a toxic asset fund. The European Commission made clear it was not planning any emergency measures.

That's a wee bit of a problem for Paulson's plan, and signals exactly how much confidence European governments have in it. And the reason they have so little confidence in Hanks plan is simple - it won't solve the underlying problem which is that too many banks have sailed too close to the wind and are now insolvent. Solving that problem would require recapitalizing those banks and getting credit flows unfrozen again - which would cost yet more untold hundreds of billions and would again reward bad actors for their sins but at least would help people other than the fat-cats at those major banks.

Without such a recapitalization, though, the light at the end of the tunnel is still the oncoming train of recession.

Speaking at the Reuters 2008 Restructuring Summit, Andrew Feltus, senior portfolio manager of an $8 billion high-yield fund at Pioneer Investments in Boston, said the remaining banks will dominate the market, which is "good for them, not good for the borrowers and not good for the overall economy."

BAILOUTS COMPARED



Active Rain - Much of the blame for the current financial crisis our country is suffering through can be traced back to de-regulation that occurred in the banking and finance industry over the last 20 years. The majority of this regulation was put in place in the 1930's to prevent a recurrence of the events that lead up to The Great Depression. The single biggest piece of deregulation that took place in 1999 was the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act. The Glass-Steagall Act created many banking reforms designed to control speculation and against a systematic event in the banking system, basically what we are facing now. Specifically it required for the separation of many financial activities such as investment banking operations, deposit activities, insurance, etc to reduce the potential for this domino effect that could ripple through the financial systems. This is exactly what we are being warned may occurr now.

In a very prophetic speech made in 1999, representative John Dingell delivered the following remarks opposing the repeal of Glass-Steagall:

|||| I just want to remind my colleagues about what happened the last time the Committee on Banking brought a bill on the floor which deregulated the savings and loans. It wound up imposing upon the taxpayers of this nation about a $500 billion liability. that is what it cost to clean up that mess. . .

What we are creating now is a group of institutions which are too big to fail. Not only are they going to be big banks, but they are going to be big everything, because they are going to be in securities and insurance, in issuance of stocks and bonds and underwriting, and they are also going to be in banks. And under this legislation, the whole of the regulatory structure is so obfuscated and so confused that liability in one area is going to fall over into liability in the next. Taxpayers are going to be called upon to cure the failures we are creating tonight, and it is going to cost a lot of money, and it is coming. Just be prepared for those events.

You are going to find that they are too big to fail, so the Fed is going to be in and other Federal agencies are going to be in to bail them out. Just expect that. ||||

Richard Cook, Global Research - The credit system has started to shut down in the largest financial crisis since the Great Depression. Committee chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Democratic member Chuck Schumer (D-NY) made reference to the private briefing of congressional leaders last Thursday night by Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, when they told lawmakers the "arteries of the financial system were clogged and that a heart attack was imminent.". . .

Not too long ago, officials of the Bush administration, along with Republican presidential candidate John McCain, were telling everyone that economic fundamentals are sound, and that while there has been a downturn, there is not even a recession. One of the architects of financial deregulation, former Senator Phil Gramm, a sometime McCain advisor, chastised the public for being a "nation of whiners."

Now, suddenly we are facing a catastrophe. As Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) asked Paulson, "Why do we have only one week to allocate $750 billion?" There was no answer. . .

Senator Dodd said that to issue Paulson a blank check "would put the Constitution at risk." . . . But would the bailout really fix the system? Obviously, for it to do so, it would have to address and correct the cause.

So what is the cause? According to Paulson, the cause is "defaults on mortgages." Senator Schumer agreed that ,"It’s been mortgages that have brought the financial system to its knees."

Senator Bennett said, "the housing bubble has burst," with others pointing out that for many homeowners the value of their homes now was much less than when they bought them.

Paulson agreed that "housing values have been falling," but he did not elaborate on why millions of Americans could no longer pay their mortgages. Cox blamed it on a "failure of lending standards" and said that the SEC had a number of ongoing investigations of fraud in the mortgage application process. Nevertheless, Paulson made it clear that his proposal was not to help distressed homeowners, saying "every homeowner won’t save their home."

And that is the crux of the problem, which explains why Paulson’s proposal may keep the financial system alive but won’t help anyone who was hurt by the housing bubble in the first place. Senator Dodd agreed with Paulson that, "the proposal will not help a single family save their home." And even though he said the plan should "put an end to foreclosures and defaults," it won’t. . .

The committee never addressed the issue of why the bankers would oppose homeowner relief. Could it be that they actually favor foreclosures? Could it be that a situation where millions of foreclosed homes across America can be bought today for dimes on the dollar is somehow to their advantage? Or to the advantage of other investors who are now working the U.S. foreclosure markets, such as foreign sovereign equity funds? These questions did not come up at the Banking Committee’s hearing, though they should have. . .

Obviously a real solution would involve not only homeowner relief and taxpayer guarantees for a controlled bailout, but also rebuilding the U.S. economy. But no one wanted to talk about that today. Maybe it’s because this latest piece of "mortgage fraud" is designed mainly to keep the economy afloat until the presidential election, because a collapse would drag down John McCain and the Republicans with it. And heaven forbid that anything should ever be proposed that would threaten the stranglehold the banking industry has over every man, woman, and child in America .

Carolyn Betts - I agree with every point in Bernie Sanders' proposal but have a suggestion. I worked with lead counsel to the RTC (the government entity that served as receiver for defunct savings & loans) in designing and implementing the sealed bid auction program for non-performing commercial mortgage loans during the S&L crisis. I also worked for FHA's lead financial advisor in carrying out the congressional mandate that HUD enter into "negotiated" sales of its nonperforming multifamily loans to state housing finance agencies. Based on what I saw in these contexts and in carrying out sales of pools of VA, Farmers Home and HUD performing and nonperforming single-family loans, both in auctions and in mortgage backed securities form, my conclusion is this: the Wall Street players made out like bandits, ultimately at taxpayer expense and borrowers were not helped.

I suggest we try another tack, in addition to what Congressman Sanders proposes: support the borrowers of the troubled loans, not the owners of the loans. I believe there is a good chance that there is collateral and other fraud in these mortgage loan portfolios. I.e., loans with no properties to support them, multiple loans secured by a single property, loans used to launder money through government guarantees. This conclusion is based in part on the numbers, which don't make sense, and upon observation of the number of HUD-insured loans that have gone into default before a single payment was received. If the lenders are just paid for these loans what is the theoretical value in a good market for these loans, assuming they are performing (i.e., above current market value), the lenders will get a windfall and be rewarded for making fraudulent and/or predatory loans. And the bailout as proposed will be a perfect way to hide the evidence of wrongdoing.

Would it cost anywhere near $700 billion to have the government stand behind the borrowers' obligations, in concert with a program to address unemployment/underemployment and health care issues that are the primary sources of financial problems that cause these loans to go into default? I think not. I would impose a condition that the existing "problem" home loans in portfolio, and maybe also related home equity loans, be marked to decent rates of interest and reamortized over 30 or 35 years, with write-off of penalty interest, late fees, etc., at lender expense. Then, to the extent the borrowers still cannot make their payments but want to stay in their homes, have the government funding program (with a local-level administrator not controlled by those who caused the current crisis) make up the difference. Perhaps the government gets a lien on the property for only the amount of the borrower's shortfall after a period of time during which the health care fix and jobs programs can take effect (say, 18 months).

I agree that the bailout bill will be a disaster, in so many ways I can't even list them all. Allowing the market to crash, with all its consequences, would be better than giving away $700 billion plus to the perps that brought us to the brink of world economic collapse. The longer we keep putting fingers in the dikes to avoid the consequences of bad decisions, money laundering and theft by the corporados, the worse the eventual flood will be.

William Greider, Nation - Both political parties may submit to this extortion because they don't have a clue what else to do and bending over for Wall Street instruction, their usual posture, seems less risky than taking responsibility. Paulson and Bernanke evoked intimidating pressure for two reasons. The previous efforts to restore investor confidence had all failed as their slapdash interventions worsened the global panic. Besides, the Federal Reserve was running out of money. Nearly three-fifths of the Fed's $800 billion portfolio is now loaded down with junk--the mortgage securities and other rotten assets it took off Wall Street balance sheets. The imperious central bank is fast approaching its own historic disgrace--potentially as discredited as it was after the 1929 crash.

Despite its size, the gargantuan bailout is still designed for the narrow purpose of relieving the major banks and investment houses of their grief, then hoping this restores regular order to economic life. . .

Secrecy and opacity are crucial to achieve Wall Street's purposes. It could allow Paulson to overpay his old pals for near-worthless assets and slyly recapitalize the damaged banks while telling public and politicians the money is to save the system. To achieve this, Wall Street needs to keep control of the process whoever is elected president (the Wall Street Journal recommends John Thain, ex-chief of the New York Stock Exchange to succeed Paulson). Not everyone will be saved, of course, but high on the list of endangered nameplates is Goldman Sachs, Paulson's old firm. The high-flying investment house looks doomed by these events. The Fed quickly agreed to convert Goldman and Morgan Stanley into banks. . .

If Paulson's gamble fails--just as possible--then maybe government will finally undertake forceful intervention rather than friendly solicitude for Wall Street. Washington should literally take control of the banking and finance sector and employ its emergency powers to oversee and direct these private, profit-making enterprises. If any bankers do not wish to play, cut them off from any public assistance (and wish them good luck). Then government can exercise temporary supervisory powers that force banking to cooperate with economic recovery by sustaining lending and investment to the real economy. Washington can put profit on hold.

Order full stop to the many financial gimmicks and accounting illusions that led to inflated lending and falsified asset valuations. Unwind the complicated time bombs known as credit derivatives and shut down this lucrative line of business. Meanwhile, instead of throwing millions of homeowners and debtors out of their homes and into bankruptcy, hold them harmless temporarily so people can work out reasonable terms for recovery. Finally, force-feed new life into the real economy with government spending on public projects and capital formation. How much spending? Rescuing America from irresponsible Wall Street is worth whatever it costs to save the bloodied bankers.

Dennis Kucinich's plan - Reinstatement of the provisions of Glass-Steagall, which forbade speculation

Re-regulation of the finance, insurance, and real estate industries

Accountability on the part of those who took the companies down: a) resignations of management b) givebacks of executive compensation packages c) limitations on executive compensation d) admission by CEO's of what went wrong and how, prior to any government bailout

Demands for transparency a) with respect to analyzing the transactions which took the companies down b) with respect to Treasury's dealings with the companies pre and post-bailout

An equity position for the taxpayers a) some form of ownership of assets

Some credible formula for evaluating the price of the assets that the government is buying.

A sunset clause on the legislation

Full public disclosure by members of Congress of assets held, with possible conflicts put in blind trust.

A ban on political campaign contributions from officers of corporations receiving bailouts

A requirement that 2008 cycle candidates return political contributions to officers and representatives of corporations receiving bailouts

And, most importantly, some mechanism for direct assistance to homeowners saddled with unreasonable or unmanageable mortgages, as well as protection for renters who have lived up to their obligation but fall victim to financial tragedy when the property they live in undergoes foreclosure.

Market Watch - Fairly or not, some critics say they can't help but see similarities between the Bush administration's hurried approach to the financial market crisis and its headlong plunge into the Iraq war. "You can draw some valid parallels between the prosecution of the war under the Bush regime and the way the financial sector has operated in recent years," said Tom Schlesinger, head of the nonprofit research group Financial Markets Center in Howardsville, Va. "It fails the most basic test of democratic accountability," Schlesinger said. . . . It boils down to "give me the money and trust me," Schlesinger said. James Angel, a professor of finance at Georgetown University, said the White House appears to be "flying by the seat of their pants." Sidelined Congress got little advance warning of the proposed bailout, as the Treasury Department waited until five days before lawmakers were set to leave town for the presidential and Congressional election campaigns. As a result, any discussion of alternatives has been sidelined. In the eight years of the Bush administration, investment firms have, like the security contractor Blackwater, been subjected to slim or no oversight, Schlesinger said. Now comes another big contracting job.

Stateline - Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) said "we are beginning to see some early declines in state (tax) revenues." New York, which already projects a $22 billion budget gap over the next three years, would be hardest hit because the financial services industry is the largest in the state. According to some estimates, financial workers account for 20 percent of annual state tax revenues. Connecticut and New Jersey are also braced for a hit. . . Besides suffering the budgetary effects of a national financial crisis, states will also face a regulatory impact. They will be forced to oversee the unwinding of AIG assets as it complies with terms of the $85 billion federal takeover. The nation's largest insurer gradually will sell off its insurance units to repay Uncle Sam over the next two years. . . When Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 15, state finance officials, who had been monitoring the situation, knew very quickly the extent of their losses. The good news was that the states' investments in Lehman were a fraction of their total holdings. Lehman stocks and bonds accounted for only 2/10s of 1 percent of Connecticut's $25 billion pension fund, for example.

John McCain on CBS was asked "In 1999, you were one of the senators who helped pass deregulation of Wall Street. Do you regret that now?" His answer: "No. I think the deregulation was probably helpful to the growth of our economy."

PAGE ONE MUST

ALASKA'S ABSENTEE GOVERNOR

Scott Lilly, Politico - Despite all of the discussion of Sarah Palin's performance as governor of Alaska, there has been little analysis of the simplest measure of performance: attendance. As Woody Allen said many years ago, "80 percent of success is just showing up."

The Washington Post recently reported that, in her first 19 months as governor, Palin billed the state of Alaska per diem charges for 312 days she spent at her home in Wasilla. Palin's staff has explained that it was appropriate to bill the state for expenses related to Palin staying in her own house because her "official duty station" was at the state capital of Juneau, where the governor's official office and mansion are located. But that argument raises a different question: How much time did that leave for her to spend at her "official duty station"?

Nineteen months totals 578 days, but after subtracting weekends and holidays, it is only about 397 workdays. Assuming Palin did not routinely bill the state for staying in her own home on weekends and holidays, she would have spent no more than 85 workdays in the state capital over the course of her 19 months in office, even if she traveled nowhere else in Alaska or outside of the state. That compares with 168 days that the Alaska Legislature was in session during the same period.

One of the state's leading papers, the Juneau Empire, described her attendance like this:

"Palin has spent little time in Juneau, rarely coming to the state capital except when the Legislature was in session, and sometimes not even then. During a recent special session called by Palin herself, she faced criticism from several legislators for not showing up personally to push for her agenda. Someone at the Capitol even printed up buttons asking, 'Where's Sarah?'". . .

One member told the Juneau Empire, "At a time when [Palin's] leadership was truly needed, we didn't know where she was."

CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS CAVE ON OFFSHORE DRILLING

Washington Post - Congressional Democrats bowed to political pressure and agreed to let the ban on offshore oil drilling expire, a decision that would allow exploration just three miles off the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines unless the next president reinstates an executive branch order that prohibits drilling. Democrats said they gave in to White House demands rather than risk a showdown over the "continuing resolution" Congress must pass to fund the federal government through March. A new drilling moratorium would have been included in that wide-ranging measure. Provisions seeking money for home heating assistance for the poor and a loan program for the auto industry remain in the . . .

The most ardent drilling opponents, who contend that exploration of the outer continental shelf puts oceans at risk without producing short-term relief from gasoline prices, said there is still time for the next president and future Congresses to work out a new compromise before oil rigs are erected within sight of the nation's coasts.

Drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico will remain prohibited within 125 miles of the shore under a separate provision in the 2006 energy bill.

BUSH CUTTING BACK PEACE CORPS

Inter Press Service - As the U.S. government continues its planning for a 700-billion-dollar bailout of the financial sector, the Peace Corps -- one of the United States' most successful foreign policy programs -- is being cut back due to a budget shortfall of 18 million dollars.

In 2001, President George W. Bush announced he would double the size of the Peace Corps by fiscal 2007, to 14,000 volunteers. But the popular program is currently some 6,000 volunteers short of that goal, and budgetary problems are forcing it to eliminate 400 new volunteers as well as postponing -- in some cases, indefinitely -- the deployment of volunteers already approved.

The Corps is also seeking to cut costs by consolidating some of its recruiting offices in the U.S. and deferring the hiring of some new personnel overseas. It has asked its managers in Washington and its 11 regional offices to reduce their budgets by 15 percent. Overseas, many of the Corps' foreign posts are reducing spending by consolidating two or more employee positions into one and reducing time devoted to volunteer training.

TSA OFFICIALS STEAL IDEA FROM '1984,' RENAME OFFICE 'FREEDOM CENTER'

TSA - TSA's primary operational hub was re-named the Freedom Center, symbolizing the agency's commitment to protecting the nation's transportation systems against terrorist threats. . . "The building houses a number of organizations whose main objective is to preserve the freedom of the American public. What better name would remind all of those who work in that building, and in the field, of that objective on a continuing basis."

HOMELAND POLICE FIND NEW WAY TO INSULT CONSTITUTION

USA Today - A scene from the airport of the future: A man's pulse races as he walks through a checkpoint. His quickened heart rate and heavier breathing set off an alarm. A machine senses his skin temperature jumping. Screeners move in to question him. Signs of a terrorist? Or simply a passenger nervous about a cross-country flight?

It may seem Orwellian, but the Homeland Security Department showed off an early version of physiological screeners that could spot terrorists. The department's research division is years from using the machines in an airport or an office building - if they even work at all. But officials believe the idea could transform security by doing a bio scan to spot dangerous people.

Critics doubt such a system can work. The idea, they say, subjects innocent travelers to the intrusion of a medical exam.

The futuristic machinery works on the same theory as a polygraph, looking for sharp swings in body temperature, pulse and breathing that signal the kind of anxiety exuded by a would-be terrorist or criminal. Unlike a lie-detector test that wires subjects to sensors as they answer questions, the "Future Attribute Screening Technology" scans people as they walk by a set of cameras. . .

Even if machines accurately spot someone whose heart rate jumps suddenly, that may signal the agitation of learning a flight is delayed, said Timothy Levine, a Michigan State University expert on deceptive behavior. "What determines your heart rate is a whole bunch of reasons besides hostile intent," Levine said. "This is the whole reason behavioral profiles don't work."

John Verdi, a lawyer at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, calls physiological screening a "medical exam" that the government has no business conducting. "This is substantially more invasive than screening in airports," Verdi said.

EXPERTS: MOVING TO SLOW TO PREVENT CLIMATE CATASTROPHE

Guardian, UK - Political inaction on global warming has become so dire that nations must now consider extreme technical solutions - such as blocking out the sun - to address catastrophic temperature rises, scientists from around the world warn today.

The experts say a reluctance "at virtually all levels" to address soaring greenhouse gas emissions means carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are on track to pass 650 parts-per-million, which could bring an average global temperature rise of 4C. They call for more research on geo-engineering options to cool the Earth, such as dumping massive quantities of iron into oceans to boost plankton growth, and seeding artificial clouds over oceans to reflect sunlight back into space.

Writing the introduction to a special collection of scientific papers on the subject, published today by the Royal Society, Brian Launder of the University of Manchester and Michael Thompson of the University of Cambridge say: "While such geoscale interventions may be risky, the time may well come when they are accepted as less risky than doing nothing."

They add: "There is increasingly the sense that governments are failing to come to grips with the urgency of setting in place measures that will assuredly lead to our planet reaching a safe equilibrium."

Professor Launder, a mechanical engineer, told the Guardian: "The carbon numbers just don't add up and we need to be looking at other options, namely geo-engineering, to give us time to let the world come to its senses." He said it was important to research and develop the technologies so that they could be deployed if necessary. "At the moment it's almost like talking about how we could stop world war two with an atomic bomb, but we haven't done the research to develop nuclear fission.". . .

In a strongly worded paper with colleague Kevin Anderson in today's special edition of the society's Philosophical Transactions journal, Bows says politicians have significantly underestimated the scale of the climate challenge. They say this year's G8 pledge to cut global emissions 50% by 2050, in an effort to limit global warming to 2C, has no scientific basis and could lead to "dangerously misguided" policies. . .

Globally, a 4C temperature rise would have a catastrophic impact. According to the government's Stern review on the economics of climate change in 2006, between 7 million and 300 million more people would be affected by coastal flooding each year, there would be a 30-50% reduction in water availability in southern Africa and the Mediterranean, agricultural yields would decline 15-35% in Africa and 20-50% of animal and plant species would face extinction.

M OBILE PHONE USE 'RAISES CHILDREN'S RISK OF BRAIN CANCER FIVEFOLD'

Independent, UK - Children and teenagers are five times more likely to get brain cancer if they use mobile phones, startling new research indicates. The study, experts say, raises fears that today's young people may suffer an "epidemic" of the disease in later life. At least nine out of 10 British 16-year-olds have their own handset, as do more than 40 per cent of primary schoolchildren. . .

Last week the European Parliament voted by 522 to 16 to urge ministers across Europe to bring in stricter limits for exposure to radiation from mobile and cordless phones, Wi-fi and other devices, partly because children are especially vulnerable to them. They are more at risk because their brains and nervous systems are still developing and because - since their heads are smaller and their skulls are thinner - the radiation penetrates deeper into their brains. . .

Those who started using mobiles young were also five times more likely to get acoustic neuromas, benign but often disabling tumors of the auditory nerve, which usually cause deafness. By contrast, people who were in their twenties before using handsets were only 50 per cent more likely to contract gliomas and just twice as likely to get acoustic neuromas.

Professor Hardell told the IoS: "This is a warning sign. It is very worrying. We should be taking precautions." He believes that children under 12 should not use mobiles except in emergencies and that teenagers should use hands-free devices or headsets and concentrate on texting. At 20 the danger diminishes because then the brain is fully developed. Indeed, he admits, the hazard to children and teenagers may be greater even than his results suggest, because the results of his study do not show the effects of their using the phones for many years. Most cancers take decades to develop, longer than mobile phones have been on the market.

ARMY MOVING OCCUPATION FORCE FROM IRAQ TO U.S.

Army Times - The 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle, helping restore essential services and escorting supply convoys. Now they're training for the same mission - with a twist - at home.

Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 1st BCT will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.

It is not the first time an active-duty unit has been tapped to help at home. In August 2005, for example, when Hurricane Katrina unleashed hell in Mississippi and Louisiana, several active-duty units were pulled from various posts and mobilized to those areas.

But this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities.

After 1st BCT finishes its dwell-time mission, expectations are that another, as yet unnamed, active-duty brigade will take over and that the mission will be a permanent one.

"Right now, the response force requirement will be an enduring mission," said Army Col. Louis Vogler, chief of NorthCom future operations. "Now, the plan is to assign a force every year."

The at-home mission does not take the place of scheduled combat-zone deployments and will take place during the so-called dwell time a unit gets to reset and regenerate after a deployment.

They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.

Training for homeland scenarios has already begun at Fort Stewart and includes specialty tasks such as knowing how to use the "jaws of life" to extract a person from a mangled vehicle; extra medical training for a CBRNE incident; and working with U.S. Forestry Service experts on how to go in with chainsaws and cut and clear trees to clear a road or area.

The 1st BCT's soldiers also will learn how to use "the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded," 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.

"It's a new modular package of nonlethal capabilities that they're fielding. They've been using pieces of it in Iraq, but this is the first time that these modules were consolidated and this package fielded, and because of this mission we're undertaking we were the first to get it."

The package includes equipment to stand up a hasty road block; spike strips for slowing, stopping or controlling traffic; shields and batons; and, beanbag bullets. . .

The brigade will not change its name, but the force will be known for the next year as a CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force, or CCMRF (pronounced "sea-smurf").

"I can't think of a more noble mission than this," said Cloutier, who took command in July. "We've been all over the world during this time of conflict, but now our mission is to take care of citizens at home . . . and depending on where an event occurred, you're going home to take care of your home town, your loved ones."

THE GREEN VIEW ON THE CRISIS

The Green Party's take on the financial crash includes:

Pay for the massive transfer of wealth without placing the greater burden on working people and the poor. Those who made huge profits from the financial policies that led to the meltdown should be expected to pay for the major portion of the bailout, through the closing of tax loopholes and repeal of Bush tax cuts for top income earners, caps on CEO salaries and bonuses and on the corporate tax deductability of excessive CEO salaries and bonuses, and recovery of exorbitant payouts that financial industry executives have given themselves in recent decades, as well as a windfall proft tax on oil companies.

In bailing out financial institutions and absorbing their debt, assert the US government's assumption of equity/ownership over them in exchange (as was done with AIG), and replace the secret negotiations and backroom deals that pervaded the industry with transparency and democratic control.

Stop appointing Treasury Secretaries, Federal Reserve board members, and other top financial policy-makers whose chief loyalties are to the major financial corporations from which they're recruited. Restructure semi-private and private institutions like the Federal Reserve, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac to be owned, run, and staffed strictly for the public interest.

Impose a moratorium on foreclosures now before increases in the adjustable rate mortgage interest increases take effect; eliminate all adjustable rate mortgages; renegotiate the latter as 30- or 40-year loans; establish new mortgage lending practices to end predatory and discriminatory practices.

Promote an economy that's based on sustainability rather than on lending and borrowing beyond one's means. Raising the debt ceiling will lead to greater potential liability and further economic meltdown.

Establish criteria and construction goals for affordable housing; massively increase funding for housing programs that assist tenants (e.g., Section 8, public housing) that have been slashed repeatedly since the Reagan Administration. Recognize shelter as a right according to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, to which the US is a signatory.

Redefine credit and regulate the credit industry so that discriminatory practices are eliminated. Fully fund initiatives to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in home ownership.

Establish a fund to cushion job loss and provide for retraining of those at the bottom of the income scale as the economy transitions.

Increase taxes on corporations so that they pay their fair share and deny federal subsidies to those who relocate jobs overseas. Repeal NAFTA and renegotiate trade agreements so that national and local economies, jobs, human rights, and the environment are protected.

End military-industrial complex handouts. Major cuts in military contracts -- especially if combined with a quick withdrawal of US troops and military contractors from Iraq and Afghanistan -- will provide a huge windfall.

Downsize the insurance industry. Corporate health insurance is not an essential service and can be replaced with a single-payer national health care program that would drastically cut health care costs, since the profit-taking insurance and HMO middle-men would be eliminated.

Introduce creative ideas to democratize the financial industry, with alternative models such as public banks and insurance firms, consumer/worker ownership of such companies, and restructuring that would use the financial industry to promote conservation projects, transition to non-fossil-fuel energy and ecologically sound infrastructure, and creation of millions of jobs related to these efforts.

ISRAEL BUILDING THERMO NUCLEAR BOMBS

The Sunday Times has revealed that an Israeli factory beneath the Negev desert is manufacturing thermo-nuclear weapons for atomic bombs. The secrets of the subterranean factory have been uncovered by The Sunday Times Insight team.

Hidden beneath the Negev desert, the factory has been producing atomic warheads for the past 20 years. Now it has almost certainly begun manufacturing thermo-nuclear weapons, with yields big enough to destroy entire cities, the report says.

Information about Israel's capacity to manufacture the bomb comes from the testimony of a former Dimona employee, nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu.

Vanunu's testimony and pictures, confirm that Israel has the world's sixth-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, including hundreds of nuclear warheads. . .

The nuclear scientists consulted by The Sunday Times calculate that at least 100 and as many as 200 nuclear weapons of varying destructive power have been assembled - 10 times the previously estimated strength of Israel's nuclear arsenal.

The scientists include Theodore Taylor, who was taught by Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb, and who went on to head the Pentagon's atomic weapons test program.

Taylor studied the photographs taken by Vanunu inside Dimona and a transcript of his evidence near Washington last week.

"There should no longer be any doubt that Israel is, and for at least a decade has been, a fully-fledged nuclear weapons state. The Israeli nuclear weapons program is considerably more advanced than indicated by any previous report or conjectures of which I am aware," Taylor said.

BREVITAS

HEALTH & SCIENCE

CNN - Keeping a cell phone on talk mode in a pocket can decrease sperm quality, according to new research from the Cleveland Clinic. A Cleveland Clinic study shows that mobile phones left on talk mode in a pocket can hurt sperm quality. A Cleveland Clinic study shows that mobile phones left on talk mode in a pocket can hurt sperm quality. "We believe that these devices are used because we consider them very safe, but it could cause harmful effects due to the proximity of the phones and the exposure that they are causing to the gonads," says lead researcher Ashok Agarwal, the Director of the Center for Reproductive Medicine.

Boing Boing - A slender majority of members in the American Psychiatric Association have voted in favor of a resolution that forbids members from aiding in torture. This was spurred by the complicity of APA members in conducting torture-based interrogation at Guantanamo Bay and other American and American-affiliated secret prisons: The ban means those who are American Psychological Association members can't assist the U.S. military at these sites. They can only work there for humanitarian purposes or with non-governmental groups, according to Stephen Soldz, a Boston psychologist. Soldz is founder of an ethics coalition that has long supported the ban. Psychologists have been involved in decisions that approve of coercion methods, including "taking away comfort items like clothes and toilet paper from detainees" to help extract information from them, Soldz said.


SCIENCE ON THE STREET

A Nobel Prize winner takes to the street to answer questions about science
OUTLYING PRECINCTS

Washington Post - The lobbying firm founded and co-owned by Rick Davis, the campaign manager for Sen. John McCain's White House bid, received payments from Freddie Mac in recent months, despite assertions by Davis earlier this week that the firm's work for the mortgage giant had ended three years ago. An industry source told The Washington Post that Davis's firm, Davis Manafort, continued to receive monthly payments in the $15,000 range from Freddie Mac until very recently, confirming an ongoing financial relationship reported last night in several other publications. The source said Davis Manafort was paid for being on retainer to Freddie Mac but did little actual work after early 2007. Two unidentified sources told the newspaper Roll Call yesterday that Davis Manafort is still receiving payments from the mortgage giant, one of the financial institutions at the center of the nation's housing crisis. The New York Times reported last night that the payments stopped last month.

WHERE THE RED & BLUE BOOKS ARE READ



Yes & Nays, DC Examiner - Amazon.com has unveiled a new feature -- "Election 2008" -- in which it tracks the states buying more liberal or conservative books. And, surprise, surprise: Washington, D.C. buys more "blue" books than any other state in the country (66 percent of all book purchases). Following close behind are northeast states Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Maine and Rhode Island. On the conservative front, Mississippi takes the lead in purchasing conservative books (77% of all purchases), followed by Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina and Arkansas. D.C.'s favorite blue book of the moment is Barton Gellman's "Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency." As for the rare Washington Republican, they're buying Robert Kagan's "Dangerous Nation: America's Foreign Policy from Its Earliest Days to the Dawn of the Twentieth Century" .

According to the Nader campaign, his candidacy actually helps Obama according to five national polls conducted over the past three months, as well as a Florida poll conducted last week and a Virginia poll this week. In each of the national polls, Obama's spread over Republican candidate John McCain widened by an average of more than 3 percent when Nader and Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr were included on the menu of choices. Nader appears to be more of a factor than Barr. Nader was ahead of Barr in four of the polls and tied in the other. On average, Nader polled 2 percent higher than Barr

Ben Smith, Politico - Sen. John McCain's top campaign aides convened a conference call to complain of being called "liars." They pressed the media to scrutinize specific elements of Sen. Barack Obama's record.
But the call was so rife with simple, often inexplicable misstatements of fact that it may have had the opposite effect: to deepen the perception, dangerous to McCain, that he and his aides have little regard for factual accuracy. The errors in McCain strategist Steve Schmidt's charges against Obama and Sen. Joe Biden were particularly notable because they seemed unnecessary. Schmidt repeatedly gilded the lily: He exaggerated the Biden family's already problematic ties to the credit card industry; Obama's embarrassing relationship with a 1960s radical; and an Obama supporter's over-the-top attack on Sarah Palin when -in each case -the truth would have been damaging enough. . . As he went on to list a series of stories he thought reporters should be writing about Obama and Biden, in almost every instance he got the details wrong

Washington Post - Biden seems to enjoy having journalists following him around, if only to have more people listen to his running commentary on whatever springs to his mind. A CBS reporter following Biden around estimated Biden has done 80 interviews since he was named vice president, compared to two by Palin.

Salon - Ralph Nader will be on the ballot in 45 states and Washington, D.C., his campaign announced. According to the Nader campaign's press release, this "is the most ballots Nader has ever been on . . . Nader was on 34 state ballots plus D.C. in 2004, and 44 plus D.C. in 2000."

Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager was chief lobbyist for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in an effort to reject additional regulations. He earned for $300,000 a year on the job which lasted five years.

Newsweek reports that John McCain owns 13 cars - and that contrary to what McCain said in a recent TV interview, the fleet includes three foreign cars. The report shows that McCain wasn't being honest with voters during a recent interview with WXYZ TV in Detroit when he said: "I've bought American literally all my life, and I'm proud."

Jake Tapper, ABC - Gov. Sarah Palin is now talking about "a Palin and McCain administration." I've also heard her refer to McCain as "my running mate" -- a term I don't recall ever hearing a VP nominee use when discussing the guy at the top of the ticket. Maybe the fact that the crowds are leaving after she speaks, while McCain is speaking, is getting to her.

Political Wire - Neither of the previous two Democratic nominees, Al Gore and John Kerry, ever reached more than 50% in the WP/ABC poll. In fact, per George Stephanopoulos, not since 1948 has a candidate with a lead this big this late lost the election. . . [Obama reached 52% in the Wash Post poll]


DEBATE TO NOWHERE



As this Pew chart shows, all the money, time and anger that has been expended on the abortion issue for more than a decade has produced little for either side. Support for abortion was at 59% in 1995; today it is at 54%. Opposition was at 40% in 1995; today it is at 41%. Moral: find something better to talk about and practice the largely forgotten American tradition of tolerance for those with whom we don't agree.

STUPID SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR TRICKS

Yale Daily News - The nearby towns of Milford and Trumbull are among 12 state school districts -- out of a total 166 across Connecticut -- that have begun administering breathalyzer tests to all high-school students before social gatherings such as dances or sporting events. Area school officials have defended the tests as an effective way to reduce underage drinking, but some, such as the local executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, have questioned their constitutionality by asserting that the tests violate the students' rights to privacy. ACLU of Connecticut Chief Executive Officer Andrew Schneider said the ACLU is asking school districts to stop testing students without suspicion, which the ACLU believes violates the Fourth Amendment prohibition against "unreasonable" searches and seizures.

EMENDATION

A recent story said that some DC students would be paid $50 every two weeks for good grades and approved deportment, but both the Washington Post and Tom Sherwood of Channel 4 say it's $100 every two weeks. So it looks like DC school superintendent Michelle Rhee can count; she just can't spell.

FREEDOM & JUSTICE

Minnesota Independent - St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman's office issued a statement announcing that the city attorney won't prosecute journalists who were cited by authorities at the Republican National Convention with "presence at an unlawful assembly," a misdemeanor charge. . . How many people that might include hasn't been tallied yet, but nearly 50 of the more than 800 people arrested or detained were onsite to cover the RNC, according to a MnIndy analysis . . The pending charges against "Democracy Now!" host Amy Goodman and two of her producers are being dropped. [The prosecutor] explained that his office is declining prosecution in Goodman's case, "because the facts and circumstances related to Amy Goodman fell outside of our charging policy for obstruction of legal process cases," which is what she was cited for. .

WAR DEPARTMENT

Jeff Stein, CQ - A bipartisan study commission headed by two former U.S. senators is recommending that the United States tell Iran in no uncertain terms that it will suffer a nuclear attack if it launches a nuclear attack on anybody else. "A nuclear deterrent strategy would require moving to a declared U.S. stance threatening the potential use of nuclear weapons should Iran ever use a nuclear weapon or allow its proxies to do so," said the report from The Bipartisan Policy Center, which is co-chaired by former senators Charles Robb, D-Va., and Dan Coats, R-Ind. "While threatening any use of nuclear weapons even as a defensive capacity or in a retaliatory manner remains a taboo subject among Washington policymakers, it is irresponsible to delay further such discussions given the implications of Iran developing nuclear weapons or the capacity to develop such weapons," it said. . . Likewise, Iran should be told it will suffer the same consequences if a terrorist group affiliated with it, such as Lebanon-based Hezbollah, uses a nuclear weapon, said the group, which is stocked with heavyweight former U.S. military and diplomatic figures associated with both Republican and Democratic administrations. . . As an alternate strategy, the report said, the U.S. and its allies should start positioning military forces at bases surrounding Iran to deter it from using nuclear weapons.

Reuters - The United States will not have enough forces available to meet a request for more troops from NATO's top commander in Afghanistan until next spring at the earliest, the U.S. defense chief said Tuesday.
"Without changing deployment patterns, without changing length of tours, we do not have the forces to send three additional brigade combat teams to Afghanistan at this point," Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

ECO CLIPS

Scientific Blogging - Two research teams are announcing this month that they have successfully converted sugar-potentially derived from agricultural waste and non-food plants-into gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and a range of other valuable chemicals. Chemical engineer Randy Cortright and his colleagues at Virent Energy Systems of Madison, Wisc., and researchers led by NSF-supported chemical engineer James Dumesic of the University of Wisconsin at Madison are now announcing that sugars and carbohydrates can be processed like petroleum into the full suite of products that drive the fuel, pharmaceutical and chemical industries. The physical properties of Virent's Biogasoline product spontaneously separate from water. This requires very little energy for processing compared with the energy-intensive process of distillation required for ethanol purification.

Daily Kos - Yes, there are a billion different reasons why it's important Democrats win this year. But every once in a while, I hit a headline that gives me an extra little reminder. Here's today's: "EPA won't limit rocket fuel in U.S. drinking water."

WORLD

Guardian, UK - A poised performance by Dame Helen Mirren in the film The Queen has, until now, provided the nation with the only clues about the atmosphere in Buckingham Palace and Balmoral Castle after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997. Mirren's portrayal told us that the Queen found Downing Street's involvement irritating at first, though the royal family ultimately accepted Tony Blair's advice to open up. Prince Philip was grumpy, but realized that Blair, who hailed Diana as the "people's princess", had touched a chord. Now the nation is given a taste of the true atmosphere behind closed doors thanks to an inside account of Tony Blair's Downing Street by the television journalist Adam Boulton, which is serialized in [the] Guardian. . . In an extract of the book, Boulton writes: "The events of that week in September 1997 were very sad, but as the spinners from Downing Street came to Buckingham Palace and started to kick around what roles Harry and William should play in the funeral, the Queen had relished the moment when Philip had bellowed over the speakerphone from Balmoral: 'Fuck off. We are talking about two boys who have lost their mother'. Once the arrangements had been sorted out Blair read the lesson very melodramatically that day in the abbey."

BATTLE FOR THE NORTH POLE

FURTHERMORE. . . .

PHOTO OF THE SOUTH POLE AT SUNRISE


292 tow trucks set a new record by parading together through NYC recently. They left Shea Stadium in Queens and ended up on an abandoned airport landstrip where they spelled they formed the word "New York." The previous record was 83 tow trucks in Washington state.


Since the Review is better known for its political scoops rather than its scientific ones, excuse us for bragging that the latest issue of the highly regarded Nature Magazine has a cover article about the important but hidden Altenberg meeting on post-Darwinian research and new thoughts about evolution. We ran a piece of Suzan Mazur's ground breaking work on this topic back in March and followed up with another in July. Nature even borrows from Mazur's term "evolutionary Woodstock" to describe the critical meeting. Mazur's work is also found regularly in the great New Zealand journal, Scoop. The scientific establishment has been somewhat scared of dealing rationally and openly with new evolutionary ideas because of its fear of the powerful creationist movement. So for the topic to make the cover of Nature is a notable development.

Rules of Thumb - A clock in most any gym is usually fast by at least a few minutes, but rarely more than fifteen minutes. This a common trick used by the gym, admittedly often the result of gym members who end their workout at closing time but expect to shower and dress afterwards. If the gym has TVs, you can gauge the real time by the transition from one scheduled program to another, or tune to CNN or another station with a "crawl" that includes the current time.

New Scientist - Scientists have discovered a gene responsible for a mysterious disease that causes Labrador retrievers to lose control of their hind legs when they run too hard.

READER COMMENTS

NOTE: You can post your comments on any of the above stories by going to our Undernews site and searching for the headline. Once posted, a copy is immediately mailed to the Review and we pick some of the most interesting to publish here. http://prorev.com/indexa.htm

WHERE HAVE ALL THE BOYS GONE?

Maybe Nature has finally realized what an evolutionary dead-end the human male really is (disastrous to his fellow beings, other species, and the very planet itself) and has wisely decided to begin phasing him out of the equation.

BUSH PROPOSES COUP BY EMERGENCY LEGISLATION

Sec. 6. Maximum Amount of Authorized Purchases. The Secretary's authority to purchase mortgage-related assets under this Act shall be limited to $700,000,000,000 outstanding at any one time

At any one time means no limit total. they can refill the credit card over and over.

COLLEGE PRESIDENTS SAY IT'S TIME TO RETHINK DRINK ING LAWS

This is a nation that already has too high of a drinking related death rate. Lowering the drinking age here is going to raise those numbers. What we need to be doing is re-thinking our national culture of (and attitudes about) drinking; in most European countries, the young are exposed to alcohol usage in much more responsible ways; which likely increases the odds that they will handle alcohol usage much more responsibly as young adults. In this country, kids are generally introduced to drinking and alcohol in the most irresponsible ways possible--just another facet of our screwed-up culture. Unless we start getting mature enough to face this about ourselves and acting on that knowledge, lowering the drinking age is not going to solve anything.

Between 1982 and 1992, in spite of raising the drinking age to 21, the United States experienced a lower rate of decline in alcohol-related traffic fatalities than in the following countries (no other countries were examined in the report):

United Kingdom: 50% decline
Germany: 37% decline
Australia: 32% decline
The Netherlands: 28% decline
Canada: 28% decline
United States: 26% decline

This downward trend in drunk driving across the industrialized world shows quite clearly that the 21-year old drinking age in the United States was, at best, the least effective measure to limit drunk driving amongst these developed countries.

Stupid laws erode respect for the law. That and government officials who ignore the laws themselves.

OBAMA PADS HIS RESUME

What's more, should one happen to pay some attention to the roll calls on various Senate votes, is Barry's absence. A pattern conspicuous in that it appears the likelihood of the Illinois Junior Senator's presence is in inverse ratio to the controversiality of the bill being voted upon.

NEARLY ALL POPULATION GROWTH TAKING PLACE IN LESS WEALTHY COUNTRIES

There's an obvious consequence to the dynamics suggested by these numbers. As a species, we will either rein in our appetites, both literal and figurative, or we will starve to death. The situation is similar regarding weaponry: we will either devise a way to curb our natural, human aggressiveness, or we will kill ourselves off - especially considering how increasingly lethal weaponry has become. We have reached a point where we have the know-how to create hell on earth. Ultimately we will discover that we need some kind of religion. Without some kind of moral compass that reaches beyond profit-taking and utility, we are doomed. Simply doomed.

The power elite have already made life hell on earth for many people. Often they do it under the banner of religion, and religion teaches people to just sit on their hands while injustice happens. Maybe you need religion, that is, if you are incapable of any ethics or moral compass on your own. Many of the rest of us are not so morally challenged as to need religion to take meaningful beneficial action.

Too bad your 'moral compass' does not point more directly towards civility.

Where religion is concerned, we are way past the point of civility. The world is being destroyed by fundamentalist idiots from three religions which all worship the same god. Their hatred of each other (basically over whose "prophets" are "correct") far exceeds their hatred of those with other gods or no god at all. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are, taken together, a blight on the world that has brought humanity to the edge of extinction. All three must become extinct themselves before there will be any possibility of peace and civility.

What is the freaking point of this article? Is this really progressive news? Looks a hell of a lot more like a Malthusian psychological press release from some Rockefeller neo-eugenic project. What is the progressive point of getting us developed white liberal westerners all feared up about immigration (invasion) and population growth (explosion) in less developed countries? You continue to publish the Malthusian population crap on this website regularly. You just might get us progressive liberals in the right frame of mind for whatever depopulation measures need to be taken (or just happen to happen) to ease the stress on carrying capacity. When you know damn well it is the political economics of power, capitalism, imperialism and over-consumption by US (you and me) who are the problem. - Gas Pants

So exactly what non-malthusian resources are going to miraculously appear to make your utopia possible.

Thank you for publishing informational articles on overpopulation and future population trends, even though a few perceptually challenged folks will always scream "Malthus! Malthus!" no matter how factually the pieces are written.

WHY BRITISH PUBS ARE STILL IMPORTANT

Why are they still important? Good God, man. Could nothing be more obvious? They still serve real ale on draft.

This study is past due for an update. Given the proper grants, I would gladly volunteer my time to perform more field research in the pubs of my choice. -xilii

MCCAIN IS AN ADDICTIVE GAMBLER

"Craps is an absurd game of luck. You may have thrilling short term wins but only madmen play craps."

Spoken like a true poker player. Funny, I've heard the same said of poker by craps players. It's kinda like the whose bitter rivalry between the Navy and Marine Corps.

SQUEAKER ELECTIONS

Elections must be squeakers because if they were not, and the Demo had a substantial lead, progressives might just sneak off en masse and vote for third party candidates. Can't have the unwashed empowering progressive third parties, now can we? Must keep them scared shitless that the greater-evil will win so they'll embrace the lesser-evil as savior and forget about building a movement. Hence the necessity for Squeakerville.

THE CRASH

Maybe the Democrats can muster the votes to pass a non-binding resolution in favor of a unspecified timetable for the country's getting out of debt. After they give Bush & Paulsen a blank check. That'll show 'em!

Yes, people lost their homes because they were at the end of their rope. But, please do not forget, in many cases the rope was greased. - Joseph

This isn't about people losing their shelter. It's about foolishness, greed, and hubris. In California, as one example, individuals were purchasing houses not as homes, but as short term investments that allowed the immediate extraction of cold hard cash along with enough profit potential to settle all debts incurred and adding more cold hard cash in less than five years. Why else would anyone be stupid enough to agree to five-year-interest-only notes terminating with a balloon payment of total principal? For many people, their job was flipping their property. The whole notion of it all was akin to a giant Ponzi scheme.

Another sad aspect of this insanity and mad building spree has been the irrevocable destruction of one of our most precious possessions, arable farm land. Some of the most fertile and productive soils in the world have been sacrificed to the bull dozier to build unneeded housing tracts in regions without the natural resources to support them. And on it continues...

Plain and simple: an administration that requests a $700 billion 'fix' brings its resignations in the same package. Any banks that get toxic crap taken off their hands become government property and exec salaries get reset to government employee levels. Any past bonuses paid by these companies to those people get deducted from current pay.

No bailout unless we get out of Iraq and Afganistan and introduce single payer healthcare - Bruce

America, the problem with these people is not that they didn't know what they were doing, the problem is they knew what they were doing and did it anyway.

THE LIST: WHAT A TRILLION DOLLARS WILL BUY

The cost of the trillion dollar bailout is higher than the $3200 figure specified. If we had the money in hand, then that would be an appropriate figure. But we have to borrow it and pay interest on it. A rough estimate is to triple the cost, and $10,000 is a lot closer to the real cost of the current level of the bailout.

Would a trillion feed any starving children or elders, buy them medicine, or maybe shoes? I get the point, but what a disgusting list.

PALIN WANTS CREATION FANTASY TAUGHT:

An honest and conscientious student of theology understands that the book we call the Bible was never intended to be taken literally. For one thing, heavenly inspired or not, the text we have before us remains the work of man. By definition derived from the very same Bible, all works of man fall short of perfection. Even if the words may have been divinely inspired, their rendering into text is the product of human endeavor. With each and every translation and revision the work becomes ever more imperfect. No matter how much scholarship may be involved, we can not escape the fact that the testimony contained remains hearsay. All of this is not to say that the Bible can not be a valuable source of guidance and inspiration---I believe it is, as are many of the other scriptures associated with the other great religions. Nevertheless, literal interpretation can be a demonstrably wrong endeavor---witness I Kings 7:23 and II Chronicles 4:2. Anyone with the most basic understanding of mathematics will recognize the problem.

Should one be inclined to accept Biblical prophesy regarding the end times, one ought to be consistent regarding its interpretation and the role of the United States. Other than the mysterious Great Harlot, there appears to be little or no mention of much of anything that might be construed as representing the US during the final days. The Biblical implication is that the United Stated ceased being a nation of significant international influence. At the rate that we are divesting our national assets, transplanting and outsourcing our manufacturing, and over extending our military while exhausting our treasury with imperial adventurism, it is one piece of prophesy that appears headed towards fulfillment.

Biblically, man was granted freewill. Biblically, we have the power to recognize disaster and avert it. Paul tells us that we prophesy in part and that anything is possible. "Love never fails; but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part and prophesy in part."

Just as Abraham didn't have to sacrifice Isaac, we do not have to annihilate one another with Armageddon. Biblically, we told that love never fails. Our objective is peace. Anything is possible. Unfortunately, it appears these concepts and ideas have been revised away in the new interpretations of the Bible commonly read by the heretic religious right.

A famous, yet unverified, quote by Mae Fergusson, first female governor of Texas: if the King James version of the Bible was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me.

ALGORITHM FINDS OBAMA WILL WIN DESPITE LOW ELECTABILITY

Al Gore has rhythm?

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