Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Court ruling favors Franken

From Politico By MANU RAJU | 3/31/09 5:06 PM EDT Updated: 3/31/09 6:15 PM EDT

Norm Coleman and Al Franken

Democrats are hailing a ruling from a three-judge panel saying it will make it difficult for Coleman to win.

A three judge panel has dealt a blow to Norm Coleman’s efforts to retake the lead in the Minnesota Senate race, putting at most 400 ballots in play — far fewer than what the Republican pushed for during the seven-week recount trial.

In its third week of deliberations, the state court on Tuesday afternoon issued a ruling ordering absentee ballots to be turned over to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office by April 6. The ballots would then be counted in open court by April 7. In the minutes after the ruling was issued, Democrats began trumpeting the decision, saying that Coleman’s ability now to retake the lead is a tall order.

Click here to read the entire text.

Hisham B. Sharabi Memorial Lecture: Apartheid and Occupation under International Law

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Palestine Center
Washington, D.C.
26 March 2009

Edited Transcript of Remarks by Professor John Dugard
Transcript No. 311 (30 March 2009)

While international law tolerates military occupation, it does not approve it, specifically one that has continued for over 40 years as in the case of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory. Furthermore, during that time, Israel has introduced two other elements—colonialism and apartheid. Although there are many similarities between apartheid as it was applied in South Africa and Israel’s policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the systems are not identical. There are features of the Israeli regime in the occupied territory that were unknown to South Africans. This year’s Hisham B. Sharabi Memorial Lecture was delivered by Professor John Dugard.

John Dugard

Thank you very much for your invitation to speak today. I am very honored. It’s a great occasion for The Jerusalem Fund, and I’m really pleased to be part of this memorial lecture. As Samar told you, I’ve just recently been to Gaza, but I can’t speak freely about my visit to Gaza. I was part of a mission established by the League of Arab States to investigate violations of human rights and humanitarian law in Gaza. We visited at the end of February for a week, and we’re still writing the report. So at this stage, I cannot really comment on our findings. You will appreciate that any attempt to attach responsibility to Israel is a sensitive issue and is bound to result in considerable criticism. So, we want to do a very careful job in preparing our report.

But what I can say is that I have been visiting Gaza twice a year since 2001, and I have on previous occasions witnessed evidence of horrendous bombings and killings and house destructions. But the most recent attack surpassed all the others. There were more killings--1,434 deaths of which 288 were children, 121 women--and it’s estimated that of the 1,400 over 900 were civilians. Of course, the Israeli government disputes this, but I think this is largely because the Israeli government tends to view anyone over the age of 16 as a potential terrorist. And certainly, the Israelis view policemen as militants whereas in fact policemen are, under international law, classified as civilians. And one must remember that the opening salvo, which was very much like an attack on Pearl Harbor, was an attack directed at a police parade in which fifteen new recruits were killed. It’s not only the number of deaths but also the manner of killing. We spoke to a number of eyewitnesses who spoke about the way in which their parents, children had been shot in cold blood between their eyes by a member of the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] at fairly short range. I find it very difficult to believe some of these stories, but they have now been confirmed by members of the IDF. You may have read that at a military academy in Israel there was an open discussion about the conduct of the war, and many members of the IDF spoke with some horror about the way in which their fellow soldiers had behaved.

To read the entire text, click here.

To view the video of this briefing online, click here

The President's Four Core Principles of His Budget

The President reflects on lessons from his time spent outside Washington this week and reinforces the four core principles in his budget.

Monday, March 30, 2009


Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.

Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world.

Become a contributor. Go to: http://www.kiva.org/about


Syria Calling
The Obama Administration’s chance to engage in a Middle East peace.
by: Seymour M. Hersh Visit article @ The New Yorker

Giving Cheney Just a Bit More Rope
By Scott Horton Visit article @ Harpers
The more Cheney talks, the more manifest his delusions and poor judgment become.

PAYDAY: GM's Rick Wagoner Drives Away with $20M Retirement
Critic Calls Multi-Million Package "Perfect Example" of Frustration with Industry
By Michelle Leder and Justin Rood Visit article @ ABC News

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Animal Liberation and the Necessity of a Vegetarian Diet

To listen to a conversation with Jonny Dragonfly and me on Think Twice Radio about the subject of Animal Liberation click here.

Question: Who is more environmentally responsible – a vegetarian driving a Hummer or a meat eater driving a Prius?

Now, read this article and answer the question?

Vegetarian is the New Prius
by Kathy Freston

Source: THE HUFFINGTON POST by Kathy Freston Jan 2007 1/18/2007
Click here.

President Herbert Hoover promised "a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage." With warnings about global warming reaching feverish levels, many are having second thoughts about all those cars. It seems they should instead be worrying about the chickens.

Last month, the United Nations published a report on livestock and the environment with a stunning conclusion: "The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global." It turns out that raising animals for food is a primary cause of land degradation, air pollution, water shortage, water pollution, loss of biodiversity, and not least of all, global warming.

That's right, global warming. You've probably heard the story: emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide are changing our climate, and scientists warn of more extreme weather, coastal flooding, spreading disease, and mass extinctions. It seems that when you step outside and wonder what happened to winter, you might want to think about what you had for dinner last night. The U.N. report says almost a fifth of global warming emissions come from livestock (i.e., those chickens Hoover was talking about, plus pigs, cattle, and others)--that's more emissions than from all of the world's transportation combined.

For a decade now, the image of Leonardo DiCaprio cruising in his hybrid Toyota Prius has defined the gold standard for environmentalism. These gas-sipping vehicles became a veritable symbol of the consumers' power to strike a blow against global warming. Just think: a car that could cut your vehicle emissions in half - in a country responsible for 25% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions. Federal fuel economy standards languished in Congress, and average vehicle mileage dropped to its lowest level in decades, but the Prius showed people that another way is possible. Toyota could not import the cars fast enough to meet demand.

Last year researchers at the University of Chicago took the Prius down a peg when they turned their attention to another gas guzzling consumer purchase. They noted that feeding animals for meat, dairy, and egg production requires growing some ten times as much crops as we'd need if we just ate pasta primavera, faux chicken nuggets, and other plant foods. On top of that, we have to transport the animals to slaughterhouses, slaughter them, refrigerate their carcasses, and distribute their flesh all across the country. Producing a calorie of meat protein means burning more than ten times as much fossil fuels--and spewing more than ten times as much heat-trapping carbon dioxide--as does a calorie of plant protein. The researchers found that, when it's all added up, the average American does more to reduce global warming emissions by going vegetarian than by switching to a Prius.

According to the UN report, it gets even worse when we include the vast quantities of land needed to give us our steak and pork chops. Animal agriculture takes up an incredible 70% of all agricultural land, and 30% of the total land surface of the planet. As a result, farmed animals are probably the biggest cause of slashing and burning the world's forests. Today, 70% of former Amazon rainforest is used for pastureland, and feed crops cover much of the remainder. These forests serve as "sinks," absorbing carbon dioxide from the air, and burning these forests releases all the stored carbon dioxide, quantities that exceed by far the fossil fuel emission of animal agriculture.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the real kicker comes when looking at gases besides carbon dioxide--gases like methane and nitrous oxide, enormously effective greenhouse gases with 23 and 296 times the warming power of carbon dioxide, respectively. If carbon dioxide is responsible for about one-half of human-related greenhouse gas warming since the industrial revolution, methane and nitrous oxide are responsible for another one-third. These super-strong gases come primarily from farmed animals' digestive processes, and from their manure. In fact, while animal agriculture accounts for 9% of our carbon dioxide emissions, it emits 37% of our methane, and a whopping 65% of our nitrous oxide.

It's a little hard to take in when thinking of a small chick hatching from her fragile egg. How can an animal, so seemingly insignificant against the vastness of the earth, give off so much greenhouse gas as to change the global climate? The answer is in their sheer numbers. The United States alone slaughters more than 10 billion land animals every year, all to sustain a meat-ravenous culture that can barely conceive of a time not long ago when "a chicken in every pot" was considered a luxury. Land animals raised for food make up a staggering 20% of the entire land animal biomass of the earth. We are eating our planet to death.

What we're seeing is just the beginning, too. Meat consumption has increased five-fold in the past fifty years, and is expected to double again in the next fifty.

It sounds like a lot of bad news, but in fact it's quite the opposite. It means we have a powerful new weapon to use in addressing the most serious environmental crisis ever to face humanity. The Prius was an important step forward, but how often are people in the market for a new car? Now that we know a greener diet is even more effective than a greener car, we can make a difference at every single meal, simply by leaving the animals off of our plates. Who would have thought: what's good for our health is also good for the health of the planet!

Going veg provides more bang for your buck than driving a Prius. Plus, that bang comes a lot faster. The Prius cuts emissions of carbon dioxide, which spreads its warming effect slowly over a century. A big chunk of the problem with farmed animals, on the other hand, is methane, a gas which cycles out of the atmosphere in just a decade. That means less meat consumption quickly translates into a cooler planet.

Not just a cooler planet, also a cleaner one. Animal agriculture accounts for most of the water consumed in this country, emits two-thirds of the world's acid-rain-causing ammonia, and it the world's largest source of water pollution--killing entire river and marine ecosystems, destroying coral reefs, and of course, making people sick. Try to imagine the prodigious volumes of manure churned out by modern American farms: 5 million tons a day, more than a hundred times that of the human population, and far more than our land can possibly absorb. The acres and acres of cesspools stretching over much of our countryside, polluting the air and contaminating our water, make the Exxon Valdez oil spill look minor in comparison. All of which we can fix surprisingly easily, just by putting down our chicken wings and reaching for a veggie burger.

Doing so has never been easier. Recent years have seen an explosion of environmentally-friendly vegetarian foods. Even chains like Ruby Tuesday, Johnny Rockets, and Burger King offer delicious veggie burgers and supermarket refrigerators are lined with heart-healthy creamy soymilk and tasty veggie deli slices. Vegetarian foods have become staples at environmental gatherings, and garnered celebrity advocates like Bill Maher, Alec Baldwin, Paul McCartney, and of course Leonardo DiCaprio. Just as the Prius showed us that we each have in our hands the power to make a difference against a problem that endangers the future of humanity, going vegetarian gives us a new way to dramatically reduce our dangerous emissions that is even more effective, easier to do, more accessible to everyone and certainly goes better with french fries.

Ever-rising temperatures, melting ice caps, spreading tropical diseases, stronger hurricanes... So, what are you do doing for dinner tonight? Check out www.VegCooking.com for great ideas, free recipes, meal plans, and more! Check out the environmental section of www.GoVeg.com for a lot more information about the harmful effect of meat-eating on the environment.

Click here for my essay: A Case for Becoming a Vegan

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tribe of Heart

If you do not know about the films of Tribe of Heart click here to go to their website.

Media Matters

I received the following email from Media matters today:

Dear Friend,

This week, following an open letter from Media Matters for America president Eric Burns, CNBC host Larry Kudlow announced that he will not be running for the U.S. Senate, thus resolving serious questions of journalistic integrity raised over his potential use of CNBC airwaves for personal political gain. While thousands of you joined in our call for better journalism and higher standards at CNBC last week, our fight for accountability is far from over.

I'm sure you'll agree that in today's ever-changing media landscape, it is more important than ever that we use every tool at our disposal to combat conservative misinformation. For nearly five years our website has brought you top-notch research and insightful analysis because, like you, we expect more from our media.

Today, Media Matters invites you to join us in the world of social networking on websites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. These networks enable us to expand our reach and provide you with the latest information on conservative misinformation.

Follow Media Matters on Twitter.com

Join Media Matters on Facebook.com

Join Media Matters on MySpace.com

Thank you for your ongoing commitment in our fight for accountability. I hope you'll also consider inviting your friends within these networks to join us.

Karl Frisch
Senior Fellow
Media Matters for America

P.S. Are you a social networking fanatic? If so, you can also follow Media Matters' Limbaugh Wire on Twitter or join our County Fair blog on Facebook.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

President Obama's Primetime Press Conference

by Dee Newman

Focusing on the nation's ailing economy, the tone of President Obama's second primetime press conference was compassionate and pragmatic, as well as, intensely serious and politically defiant.

Throughout the evening he continued to emphasize that despite the economic and international crises his administration has inherited and the obstacles that impede the nation’s progress, he has the persistence and perseverance to prevail, the patience to endure the struggle and the pragmatism to successfully deal with all the many problems we face.

Recognizing and speaking to the country’s outrage over the financial community’s incompetence and greed, he cautioned that sometimes such anger could impede long-term goals.

"Bankers and executives on Wall Street need to realize that enriching themselves on the taxpayers' dime is inexcusable, that the days of out-sized rewards and reckless speculation that puts us all at risk have to be over," But, the President when on to say. "At the same time, the rest of us can't afford to demonize every investor or entrepreneur who seeks to make a profit. That drive is what has always fueled our prosperity, and it is what will ultimately get these banks lending and our economy moving once more."

All but two of the questions asked of the President last night focused directly on the economy and domestic issues.

He told the press core and the American people, “We have been in office now for a little more than 60 days. What I am confident about is that we are moving in the right direction."

The theme of the night was “patience.” No matter the question, his answer seemed to emphasize that in order for fundamental change to occur we will all need to find the wherewithal to endure the hard times that lay ahead.

Recognizing the nation’s desire to see quick solutions he acknowledged his political capital may be eclipsed by the economic crisis he had inherited. The President predicted, though, that, with time and patience, the measures his administration are taking would eventually stabilize the financial and housing markets and spur growth in our economy.

He closed by say, "What I am confident about is that we're moving in the right direction and that the decisions we're making are based on, how are we going to get this economy moving? How are we going to put Americans back to work? How are we going to make sure that our people are safe? And how are we going to create not just prosperity here, but work with other countries for global peace and prosperity? And we are going to stay with it as long as I'm in this office . . . “

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

FRONTLINE: Ten Trillion and Counting

All of the federal government's efforts to stem the tide of the financial meltdown have added hundreds of billions of dollars to an already staggering national debt, a sum that is expected to double over the next 10 years to more than $23 trillion. In Ten Trillion and Counting, FRONTLINE traces the politics behind this mounting debt and investigates what some say is a looming crisis that makes the current financial situation pale in comparison.

Watch the Full Program On Line

Norman Finkelstein: Suffering Morality Justification

Click here to visit the Website of Norman G. Finkelstein.

A Democracy Now Interview with Norman Finkelstein and Martin Indyk

Click here to visit Democracy Now.

A RT (Russia Today) Interview with Norman Finkelstein: The bloody Israeli sojourn in Gaza

Click here to visit RT (RussiaToday)

A Richard Silverstein Essay

The following essay is from the weblog by Richard Silverstein (Tikun Olam: Make the World a Better Place). The blog focuses on politics, culture and ideas about Isaeli-Arab peace with additional commentary on other subjects such as the arts and world music.

IDF T-Shirts Boast of Killing Babies, Pregnant Women, Sodomizing Hamas Leaders
March 20th, 2009

For the past few days Haaretz has carried numerous stories about the riveting eyewitness testimony from IDF officers concerning cold-blooded murders of unarmed Palestinian civilians. The second day of their testimony wasn’t available in the English edition of Haaretz last night, which was why I translated excerpts. But Haaretz now does have the English version available in a fuller translation than my own hastily composed one.

Iris Hefets also informs me that Israeli blogger and seruvnik Idan Landau has compared Haaretz’s Hebrew version of the eyewitness transcript to the original and finds several telling phrases omitted (he uses the term “censored”). If you read Hebrew you can follow that interesting sidebar of the main story.
Haniyeh: all the dick is in the Riflemen 'Haniyeh: the whole the dick is in (that is, 'raped by') the Riflemen.

Tonight I wanted to bring you an equally distressing story which tells of the budding fashion sense of IDF soldiers who, when they return from killing Gazans, boast of personalized T-shirts that they design often with the approval of their IDF superior officers. To be clear, the shirts are not officially sanctioned by the IDF. But the phenomenon is so widespread and tone of the slogans so toxic, that the IDF might just as well have endorsed them.

Here are some of the slogans:

A “graduation” shirt for those who have completed another snipers course depicts a Palestinian baby, who grows into a combative boy and then an armed adult, with the inscription, “No matter how it begins, we’ll put an end to it.”

There are also plenty of shirts with blatant sexual messages. For example, the Lavi battalion produced a shirt featuring a drawing of a soldier next to a young woman with bruises, and the slogan, “Bet you got raped!” A few of the images underscore actions whose existence the army officially denies - such as “confirming the kill”(shooting a bullet into an enemy victim’s head from close range, to ensure he is dead)…”We won’t chill ’til we confirm the kill.”

Pregnant Palestinian woman in the crosshairs

The [T-shirt] slogan “Let every Arab mother know that her son’s fate is in my hands!” [is accompanied by] a drawing depicting a soldier as the Angel of Death, next to a gun and an Arab town,” he explains. “The text was very powerful. The funniest part was that when our soldier came to get the shirts, the man who printed them was an Arab, and the soldier felt so bad that he told the girl at the counter to bring them to him.”

When are these shirts worn?

G. [soldier in an elite unit]: “These are shirts for around the house, for jogging, in the army. Not for going out. Sometimes people will ask you what it’s about.”

Of the shirt depicting a bull’s-eye on a pregnant woman, he said: “…It doesn’t really mean anything. I mean it’s not like someone is gonna go and shoot a pregnant woman.”

What is the idea behind the shirt from July 2007, which has an image of a child with the slogan “Smaller - harder!”?

“It’s a kid, so you’ve got a little more of a problem, morally, and also the target is smaller.”

'Every Arab mother must know that the fate of her son is in my hands' (photo: Nir Kafri)

A shirt printed after Operation Cast Lead in Gaza for Battalion 890 of the Paratroops depicts a King Kong-like soldier in a city under attack. The slogan is unambiguous: “If you believe it can be fixed, then believe it can be destroyed!”

Y., a soldier/yeshiva student, designed the shirt. “You take whoever [in the unit] knows how to draw and then you give it to the commanders before printing,” he explained.

What is the soldier holding in his hand?

Y.: “A mosque. Before I drew the shirt I had some misgivings, because I wanted it to be like King Kong, but not too monstrous. The one holding the mosque - I wanted him to have a more normal-looking face, so it wouldn’t look like an anti-Semitic cartoon. Some of the people who saw it told me, ‘Is that what you’ve got to show for the IDF? That it destroys homes?’ I can understand people who look at this from outside and see it that way, but I was in Gaza and they kept emphasizing that the object of the operation was to wreak destruction on the infrastructure, so that the price the Palestinians and the leadership pay will make them realize that it isn’t worth it for them to go on shooting. So that’s the idea of ‘we’re coming to destroy’ in the drawing."

From left: "The smaller, the tougher" "Only God forgives"

This past January, the “Night Predators” demolitions platoon from Golani’s Battalion 13 ordered a T-shirt showing a Golani devil detonating a charge that destroys a mosque. An inscription above it says, “Only God forgives.”

One of the soldiers in the platoon downplays it: “It doesn’t mean much, it’s just a T-shirt from our platoon. It’s not a big deal. A friend of mine drew a picture and we made it into a shirt.”

What’s the idea behind “Only God forgives”?

The soldier: “It’s just a saying.”

No one had a problem with the fact that a mosque gets blown up in the picture?

“I don’t see what you’re getting at. I don’t like the way you’re going with this. Don’t take this somewhere you’re not supposed to, as though we hate Arabs.”

…After Operation Cast Lead, soldiers from that battalion printed a T-shirt depicting a vulture sexually penetrating Hamas’ prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, accompanied by a particularly graphic slogan.

There is one penetrating critique of the entire phenomenon by an academic sociologist from none other than Bar Ilan University (affiliated with the Orthodox community):

Sociologist Dr. Orna Sasson-Levy, of Bar-Ilan University…said that the phenomenon is “part of a radicalization process the entire country is undergoing, and the soldiers are at its forefront. I think that ever since the second intifada there has been a continual shift to the right. The pullout from Gaza and its outcome - the calm that never arrived - led to a further shift rightward.

“This tendency is most strikingly evident among soldiers who encounter various situations in the territories on a daily basis. There is less meticulousness than in the past, and increasing callousness. There is a perception that the Palestinian is not a person, a human being entitled to basic rights, and therefore anything may be done to him.”

Could the printing of clothing be viewed also as a means of venting aggression?

Sasson-Levy: “No. I think it strengthens and stimulates aggression and legitimizes it. What disturbs me is that a shirt is something that has permanence. The soldiers later wear it in civilian life; their girlfriends wear it afterward. It is not a statement, but rather something physical that remains, that is out there in the world. Beyond that, I think the link made between sexist views and nationalist views, as in the ‘Screw Haniyeh’ shirt, is interesting. National chauvinism and gender chauvinism combine and strengthen one another. It establishes a masculinity shaped by violent aggression toward women and Arabs; a masculinity that considers it legitimate to speak in a crude and violent manner toward women and Arabs.”

I don’t think it’s right to blame the soldiers for expressions of such hatred, violence and racism. They are mere projections of the society and military command from which they spring. The generals and politicians, and behind them the Israeli people make these young boys who they are. They fill them with the ideas rolling around in their brains. The soldiers are doing Israel’s bidding.

It is all too common and almost hackneyed to warn how the Occupation has corrupted Israeli society. But these images and slogans bring that message home terribly clearly. Especially when you read the flummoxed soldier who becomes angry with the reporter and warns him not to take the slogans the wrong way lest he think his boys “hate Arabs.” Of course they hate Arabs. They were brought to do so. And they have so little contact with a real Palestinian that they can easily delude themselves into believing that they don’t actually hate them. The truth is they don’t know them and it is terribly easy to hate what you don’t know.

In fact, I often think that about readers and commenters here who vent their disgusting racist and hateful comments both towards me personally and Arabs in general (and a few toward Israelis). They don’t know me. They don’ t even have to see or meet me to write the things they do. This makes the hating all the easier.

But returning to the soldiers and their hate, this is what the Occupation does to Israel. It causes citizens to express and believe ideas whose content even they deny. I can’t think of anything more corrupting, more corrosive to a people than being yoked with an albatross like this which drains the vitality and common sense from body and brain.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Natasha Richardson

Natasha Jane Richardson was born on May 11, 1963. She died on March 18 from a head injury sustained in a skiing accident in Canada.

She was an English actress known for her performances on stage and screen and a member of the Redgrave family – the daughter of the actress Vanessa Redgrave and the director/producer Tony Richardson.

Her father died of AIDS-related causes in 1991. Richardson helped raise millions of dollars in the fight against AIDS through the charity amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research.

Ms. Richardson rose to international stardom with her Tony award-winning performance as Sally Bowles in the musical play Cabaret in New York City on Broadway in 1998.

Though she was brought up in London, attending St. Paul’s Girls’ School before training at London’s Central School of Speech and Drama, she became a New Yorker.

She was married to Irish actor Liam Neeson. They have two sons: Micheál and Daniel.

Paul Minor: A Political Prisoner

by Dee Newman

Paul Minor is an innocent man.

He sits in a prison cell while his beloved wife dies of cancer.

He is a political prisoner, not in some third world country, but here in the United States of America.

The only reason Mr. Minor remains in prison is because Justice Department officials appointed by the Bush Administration, along with carefully selected local U.S. attorneys and a judge appointed by President Reagan have continually and deliberately misconstrued both the law that convicted him and the law that requires his immediate release pending appeal.

It is clear that under federal bail statutes his release has been unjustly denied.

Paul Minor’s real crime is that he was the largest donor to Democratic candidates in the state of Mississippi, making him a prime target of Karl Rove's master plan to use trumped up criminal prosecutions to get rid of major Democratic contributors and elected officials nationwide.

The numbers clearly indicate that Democrats were politically profiled and disproportionately investigated and prosecuted under the Bush Administration.

Similar to other Democratic victims indicted on bogus charges under Rove's southern strategy and rigged system, (like former Governor Don Siegelman of Alabama), Paul Minor had little chance to defend himself and was unjustly convicted of the crime of public corruption bribery for making a loan guarantee to a sitting judge.

Despite the fact that Mississippi law allows the practice of loan guarantees to candidates for whom Minor was targeted by the FBI and the Department of Justice, the judge hearing his case illegally withheld instruction to the jury, allowing Minor to be convicted without the explicit proof of a quid pro quo.

Though, a House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee report back in April of 2008 concluded that the behavior of the Justice Department in Paul Minor's case was “irresponsible” and raised serious questions about the “integrity and impartiality” of the Justice Department’s efforts during the Bush years, Paul Minor's lower public profile case has not received the national media attention it deserves.

Unfortunately, Mr. Minor will continue to suffer as long as the holdovers from the Bush Administration at the Department of Justice continue to engage in efforts to undermine the system while President Obama prudently selects their replacements.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals hears oral arguments of Paul Minor’s case on April 1.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Special Comment: Enough!

by Keith Olbermann

Finally tonight, as promised, a Special Comment on the latest atrocity from the banks. The vast, engorged, gluttonous multi-national corporations. Whose sneezes can be fatal to our jobs. Whose mistakes can turn us into the homeless. Whose accounting errors can be so panoramic that they can make our economy tremble and force us to hand them billions after billions in a blackmail scheme that has come to be known as "bailout."

Five weeks ago Vikram Pandit, the chief executive officer of Citigroup, went back to Congress, tail seemingly between his legs, and, with entreaty dripping from his voice, announced "I get the new reality and I'll make sure Citi gets it as well."

In point of fact, as Bloomberg News reports today, what Mr. Pandit "got" was a new $10 million executive suite for himself and his key associates.

This is the same Mr. Pandit who said he would show his leadership by accepting compensation of $1 a year. In fact, he then "accepted" a total compensation package for 2008 of $38 million.


Mr. Pandit, you're probably just a good actor and a damned liar and a con man. But I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume instead, that you just can't tell the difference between $1 and 38 million of them. That would certainly explain the maelstrom into which you, and your colleagues at Citi and your counterparts elsewhere, have gotten us, including the vast majority of us who are innocent bystanders.

Your bank says your new $10 million office is part of a global strategy of space reduction that will ultimately save billions. It seems entirely appropriate to remind everyone, sir, that this promise could be fulfilled by Citi saving $2 a year for a billion years.

God knows you guys have pulled off every other accounting trick ever dreamt up by immoral man. You, Sir, and the other corporate pirates like you - those who are saved from your obsessive spending and greed and self-aggrandizement by the taxpayer - who then pretend to atone - who then publicly promise good behavior - and who then revert immediately to the rapaciousness that is your only skill.

You, sir, all of you, need to be fired.


And Mr. Pandit's corporation should be cut up into little pieces. And when he and the other ultra-millionaires wonder what hit them, we should make sure they are easily reminded. Our representatives should entitle the legislation that ends their moral Ponzi schemes, "The Punish Vikram Pandit Act of 2009."

The far right in this country, without the slightest provocation, screams "socialism," and the sheep who follow it, who do not know what the word means and do not know it is only being used because "communism" now rings laughably hollow. In this cry of fire in a crowded unemployment line, there is outrage.

But there is also license. They think this is socialism? There are a million miles of reform to go before we hit socialism but if they're going to call us names whether they apply or not let's give them real reform.

Break up the banks. Regulate the financial industries, to within an inch of their existences. Roll back corporate legal protections. Make liable the officers of corporations, for their debts, and for their deeds. Resurrect the rallying cry of a hundred years past: bust the trusts!

AIG gives "failure bonuses" to the cretins whose dalliances in derivatives brought the company and part of the nation to her knees? Spin off that division whose traders are owed the 165 million in bonuses, under fund it, and cause it to go bankrupt.


Let those with bonuses owed, stand in line before a bankruptcy referee, and wind up - just as you and I would - with half a cent on the dollar. Northern Trust fires 450 employees in December. Then takes a billion six in bailout money. Sponsors a golf tournament. Flies hundreds of clients to Southern California for private Oscar Parties including the renting of an airplane hangar and the hiring of the group "Earth, Wind & Fire?"


Fire the executives. And fire up the Justice Department to figure out just how much fraud was involved in asking for a billion-six in bailout money when Northern Trust said nothing as the checks were written, even though it knew in advance that millions could be saved by simply cutting the fluff and the trumpery.

Thirteen more companies that took bailouts, signed the mandatory documents that said they owed no back taxes lied turned out, per Congressman John Lewis of Ways and Means today lied - they owe, just among those thirteen firms, 220 million in back taxes?


Have the IRS take these companies, immediately, to the tax courts to which the rest of us are liable. And strip those ancient, outdated laws of corporation, so that the officers of the corporation are personally liable for their companies' debts, just as you or I would be. And if the monopolies of radio or television rear up to support the corporate structure, to say a contract is a contract, even though that isn't true for a union these days, only for an AIG Trader. Take the invisible, unused Sword of Damocles they still fatuously insist hangs over their heads, and make it real.


Make sure both sides are heard. Re-regulate the radio and television industries to limit station ownership and demand diversity of management and product. Re-instate the old rules that denied one man all the voices in a public square. End all waivers of multiple ownership of television stations and networks and newspapers in the same market.

And, yes, if a voice of the privileged classes unfairly uses his cable platform to call our neighbors who are the victims of this, "losers" to insist he alone speaks for the real people.

Or if another, indicts without equal time for defense a particular elected official, and then offers himself as a candidate for that very official's seat, in violation of all canons of good or even fair broadcasting then tell the cable industry that the free ride is over and it is time that it too be regulated by the FCC.


To all of you in the corporate boardrooms.

Stop viewing the public's reaction to this naked, unhindered robbery of the public coffers, and your audacious, immeasurable sense of proprietorship and entitlement stop viewing our anger as some kind of brief impediment, some traffic delay that keeps you from your God-given corporate ballpark sponsorships, and perpetually remodeled offices, and the divine right of $38 million "compensation packages."

You, gentlemen and ladies, and not the good and long-suffering average people of this country, you are fomenting rage in this nation. You are the losers in this equation, and the people are the generous ones; they have not assembled in the streets with pitch-forks and flaming torches. You are the ones perceived - understood in a visceral and even transcendent way - as the committers of what is becoming class economic rape.

And heed this one word before these people grow weary of forgiving you, and instead decide to bring the "good life" - which you have built on their backs - crashing down on top of your heads. When the next boardroom needs re-modeling, or the next bonus paid, or the next jet purchased, remember that one word:


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rachel Maddow Show: AIG

Friday, March 13, 2009

An Honest Day's Work For An Honest Day's Pay

by Dee Newman

When an economic system is inherently unfair, immoral and exploitative; when it is so profit driven that it plans for obsolescence, generating excessive waste at the expense of the social and ecological health of our planet; when it creates an unequal distribution of wealth, increasing the disparity between the rich and the poor; when it favors those who already possess a greater amount of wealth and resources, allowing them to influence and corrupt government officials and to lobby for more and more legislative advantages; when it creates large differences in wealth between people whose abilities and efforts are remarkably similar; when it allows fortunes to be made by the few from sponging off the labor and capital of the many; And, when it permits the affluent and filthy-rich to use free-market rhetoric to justify risking the labor, assets and prosperity of those less fortunate than them, while being insulated from the adversities of the free-market by the economic and political advantages that their wealth and power affords – something is fundamentally wrong with the system.

Workers of the world unite!

Enough is enough!

How much longer are we going to allow the greedy bastards and their apologists and enablers in Congress to steal and profit from out hard work?

It is time for them do an honest day's work for an honest day's pay.

Jim Cramer on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart

Watch the entire interview uncensored: Jon Stewart and Jim Cramer: The Extended Daily Show Interview

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Omnibus Spending Bill: Blantant Hypocrisy

It is easy to feign indignation and outrage, to oppose legislation you know will pass without your support.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican Senator from KY) complaining about legislative spending called the omnibus spending bill a "missed opportunity" and urged President Obama to veto the bill. Knowing full well the President would not veto the Bill, McConnell did not "miss the opportunity" to add 36 earmarks to the legislation mounting to $51 million.

40% of the earmarks came from the Republicans who opposed the legislation.

According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, of the 35 U.S. senators who opposed the omnibus spending 28 of them had solo earmarks in the legislation.

In total, these 28 senators had a combined 307 solo earmarks that mounted to nearly $240 million.

Barrasso (4 earmarks, $2.7 million)
Bayh (4 earmarks, $1.2 million)
Bennett (23 earmarks, $18 million)
Brownback (21 earmaks, $12 million)
Bunning (5 earmarks, $735,000)
Burr (3 earmarks, $1.3 million)
Chambliss (7 earmarks, $4.3 million)
Collins (1 earmark, $380,000)
Corker (1 earmark, $760,000)
Cornyn (5 earmarks, $2.5 million)
Crapo (1 earmark, $100,000)
Enzi (5 earmarks, $1.7 million)
Graham (14 earmarks, $9.5 million)
Grassley (8 earmarks, $350,000)
Gregg (19 earmarks, $10 million)
Hatch (7 earmarks, $700,000)
Hutchison (35 earmarks, $9.9 million)
Inhofe (34 earmarks, $53 million)
Isakson (2 earmarks, $1.4 million)
Kyl (3 earmarks, $5 million)
Lugar (10 earmarks, $3.3 million)
Martinez (8 earmarks, $18.8 million)
McConnell (36 earmarks, $51 million)
Roberts (11 earmarks, $2.2 million)
Sessions (12 earmarks, $4.3 million)
Thune (6 earmarks, $4.3 million)
Vitter (16 earmarks, $4 million)
Voinovich (6 earmarks, $13.5 million)

All of the earmarks combined accounted for less than 2 percent of the legislation.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Universal Health Care

by Dee Newman

Many Americans still cling to the false belief that “the United States has the best health care system in the world.”

However, a poll that was released in March of last year by the Harvard School of Public Health found that although Americans are divided along political lines, overall, only 45% of Americans (68% of Republicans, 40% of Independents, and 32% of Democrats) now believe that the United States health care system is the best in the world.

The sad and disturbing truth is the U.S. health care system is both outrageously expensive and inadequate. The United States must bring its health care costs under control and make it possible for every person in the country to have access to affordable health care.

Despite spending more on health care per person, per year than any other nation in the world, the United States lags far behind other industrialized nations on many major health care statistics – such as life expectancy, infant mortality, and immunization rates.

Moreover, other advanced nations provide comprehensive coverage to their entire populations, while the U.S. leaves nearly 50 million Americans completely uninsured and millions more inadequately covered.

Most uninsured Americans are working-class people whose employers do not provide health insurance and who earn too much money to qualify for one of the local or state insurance programs for the poor, but do not earn enough to cover the cost of enrollment in a health insurance plan designed for individuals.

Today, most employer-provided health care plans are offered through managed care organizations. Managed care organizations include both health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and preferred provider organizations (PPOs). In an HMO, health care is covered only for services delivered by providers in the network with whom the health plan has contracted. A PPO covers health care services delivered by either in-network or out-of-network providers.

The quality of health care in the U.S. has deteriorated under managed care. Access problems have increased. The number of uninsured has dramatically grown year after year, especially among children.

The federal government in 1997 finally, after years of ignoring the problem, created the State Children's Health Program (SCHIP), a joint federal-state program to insure children in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford health insurance. The program, however, for years has faced funding shortfalls in many states.

Fortunately, on February the 4th President Obama signed into law legislation to expand the health-care program for millions of uninsured children. The Democratic effort to expand the program had been repeatedly blocked by Congressional Republicans and former President George W. Bush.

Those in favor of universal health care argue that the large number of uninsured Americans creates direct and hidden costs shared by all through higher health insurance premiums and/or taxes and that extending coverage to all would lower costs and improve quality of care.

Although the U.S. may have the most expensive and the most advanced medical technology in the world, it has not translated into better health care for its citizens.

In comparative study after study, report after report, the statistics show that the United States ranks at or near the bottom of all the major industrialized nations in the delivery of health care to its citizens.

For example: among the 191 member nations included in the World Health Organization study in 2000, the U.S. health care system only ranked first in cost and expenditure, but a dismal 37th in overall performance and 72nd in overall levels of health.

The CIA World Factbook ranks the United States 41st in the world for lowest infant mortality rate and only 45th for highest total life expectancy.

Overall, the United States ranks a depressing and deplorable 67th (right behind Botswana) in immunizations for its children.

The latest report of the highly regarded Common Wealth Fund ranked the U.S. health care system dead last or next to last on most measures of performance, including quality of care and access.

According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the United States is the only wealthy, industrialized nation that does not have a universal health care system.

Though most American now recognize that the U.S. health care system is badly in need of repair and must be reformed, a government-authorized system of universal health care in the U.S. remains intensely controversial. Americans are extremely divided along party lines in both their views of the U.S. health care system and what must be done to improve it.

Opponents of universal health care fear and believe that the system will be too expensive and deprive them of needed services. They believe this in spite of the fact that the United States now spends at least 40 percent more per capita on health care than any other industrialized nation that provides universal health care to its citizens. They believe it even though the U.S. system still leaves 48 million Americans without health care coverage and millions more inadequately insured.

Furthermore, contrary to what opponents fear and believe, single payer, universal health care is not socialized medicine. It is a health care payment system. It is not a health care delivery system and is no more socialized medicine than the public funding of the defense department is socialized defense.

Unlike the current managed care system here in the U.S. which mandates pre-approval of the insurer for services and which takes health care decisions away from the doctor and patient, a single payer, universal health care system would not.

Financing a single-payer system would be done by eliminating private insurers and recapturing their administrative waste.

A small increase in taxes would replace premiums and out-of-pocket payments currently paid by individuals and business.

Costs would be controlled through negotiated fees, mass purchasing, and universal budgeting.

Health care spending in the U.S. totals more than $2 trillion, or 16 percent of GDP. And, it is increasing every year. It is projected by the year 2017 health care spending will reach 19.5 percent of GDP.

The reason we spend more and get less for our buck than other nations is because we have a hodgepodge of government and private for-profit payers. We waste billions of health dollars on things that have nothing to do with care: underwriting, billing, sales and marketing, as well as, huge profits and exorbitant executive pay. Doctors and hospitals must maintain costly administrative staffs to deal with both bureaucracies. The overhead is excessive.

Single-payer financing is the only way to recapture this wasted money. The potential savings is more than $350 billion per year and certainly is more than enough to provide comprehensive coverage to everyone without paying any more than we already do.

Under a single-payer system, all Americans would be covered for all medically necessary services, including: doctor, hospital, long-term care, mental health, dental, vision, prescription drug and medical supply costs. Patients would regain free choice of doctor and hospital, and doctors would regain autonomy over patient care.

A government single-payer, universal health care system that is open to everyone and does not waste money on marketing, high paid executives, and dividends for shareholders, would be far more efficient than the mix-bag of government and private for-profit plans we now have in this country.

A universal government plan would also have the power to force the pharmaceutical industry and the medical supply industry to take sharp discounts compared with the prices they currently charge patients today.

The controversy of providing universal health care for United States citizens is not new. Universal health care was first introduced to the public in 1912 by Teddy Roosevelt when he made it apart of his Bull Moose Party platform and campaign.

In the 1930s Franklin Roosevelt had to eliminate his universal health care program from his New Deal agenda in order to get Social Security passed.

President Truman, too, was unsuccessful in his attempt to follow the lead of Great Britain after World War II when Parliament passed the United Kingdom’s National Health Service.

As we all know, the Clinton Administration also failed to pass universal health care coverage in the 1990s.

Though there are, at last, good reasons to believe that important progress can be made in reaching universal health care coverage, no one should ever underestimate the power of the for-profit health care industry and lobby.

A testament to the power and influence of this industry is the Medicare prescription drug benefit. Instead of simply increasing the subsidy for the program and having it cover prescription drugs, the insurance and pharmaceutical industries persuaded the Republican controlled Congress to created a stand-alone “donut-whole” prescription drug plan, prohibiting Medicare from offering its own plan or from bargaining directly with the pharmaceutical industry, allowing the industry to rake in tremendous profits.

If a single payer, universal health care system was ever put into affect, the insurance, pharmaceutical, and medical supply coalition would stand to lose big time. This powerful coalition will do whatever it takes to protect their profits. They know that as my daddy use to sarcastically say, “a pound of cure is far more profitable than an ounce of prevention.”

Unfortunately, to date these large corporations and industries have been able to “buy” politicians through our campaign finance system and control the media to convince people that the United States’ for-profit health care system is viable, democratic, and efficient.

More and more, though, a majority of physicians (psychiatrists, emergency medicine specialists, pediatricians, internists, family physicians, and general surgeons) are beginning to feel that our private, for-profit and fragmented insurance system is obstructing good patient care and are now supporting a national health care system.

In conclusion, whether the U.S. ever implements a universal health care system, we can no longer afford to live in a country with so many children living in poverty.

It is disgraceful that the United States of America, the riches country in the world, has the highest level of poverty among all wealthy nations. One of the primary reasons why Americans are less healthy than Europeans is because Europeans have worked hard to reduce the rate of poverty in their countries, especially childhood poverty.

The connection between poverty and the quality of a person’s life and health has long been established. One of the major reasons the poor are less healthy is the fact that the poor work and live in more polluted, hazardous, and stressful environments.

The impact of living in a toxic and hazardous physical environment is far more detrimental than limited access, restricted services, or inadequate medical care. A huge body of evidence has consistently shown that those who live in poverty have higher rates of mortality, morbidity, and disability.

These environmental factors are especially difficult on infants. If the United States is to improve its health statistics, it must not only pass universal health care, it must reduce poverty, especially among our young.

The Rachel Maddow Show: The World According to Tarp

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Colbert Nation: Wyoming's At-Large - Cynthia Lummis

Countdown With Keith Olbermann: Doing Something VS Just Saying No

Countdown with Keith Olbermann: Blame Beyond Washington

Rachel Maddow Show: Will The Big Lie Work Again?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Slide Shows from Humane Myth

Visit www.humanemyth.org

The Invention of Air

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Jon Kyl's Blatant Hypocrisy

by Barbara Morrill aka BarbinMD
Sat Mar 07, 2009 at 01:00:05 PM PST

These guys are just shameless.

Countdown With Keith Olbermann: Have Your Pork And Scorn It Too

International Women's Day

March 8 is International Women's Day for women's groups around the world. It is designated in many countries as a national holiday and commemorated by the United Nations.

Though women's rights have changed dramatically over the past century here in the United States and around the world, women continue to face and endure discrimination, insecurity, poverty, and heightened levels of sexual violence especially during times of war and conflict.

The opportunities to break out of the devastating cycles of poverty for people in general are few and far between, but the prospects for women and young girls are always fewer, especially if they lack access to the basic necessities of life such as uncontaminated water, education and security.

Life for women in Kenya can be difficult. For women living in one of the largest slums in the world, life can be devastating.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The President's Weekly address

People are the Government

Last night, Bill Maher, ended the New Rules segment of his show with a passionately intelligent, yet humorous monolouge on why we should, instead of wanting less government involvement in our lives as conservatives desire, demand that our government fulfill its responsibilities to run our country and stop “letting unregulated private enterprise run things it is plainly to greedy to be trusted with. . ."

Friday, March 6, 2009

Rachel Maddow: RNC Member Calls for Steele to Resign

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Who Would You Rather Have Leading The Nation?

by Dee Newman

Who would you rather have leading the nation
A devoted husband and father, or the
Vile, cigar-smoking personification
Of hedonism – of greed and gluttony;
A brilliant, soft-spoken conciliator
Who seeks consensus through negotiation,
Or the angry, bombastic competitor
Who thrives on rancor and intimidation;
A disciplined, visionary progressive,
Physically honed and responsible leader,
Or the loud, reckless, sarcastic, aggressive,
Physically unhealthy bottom-feeder;
         Someone with the audacity of hope,
         Or that of an arrogant misanthrope?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Rachel Maddow Show

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart