Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Particle emissions from laser printers might pose health concern

Certain laser printers used in offices and homes release tiny particles of toner-like material into the air that people can inhale deep into lungs where they may pose a health hazard, scientists are reporting. Their study is scheduled for the August 1 online issue of the American Chemical Society’s Environmental Science & Technology (ES&T), a semi-monthly journal.

Lidia Morawska, Ph.D., and colleagues in Australia classified 17 out of 62 printers in the study as “high particle emitters” because they released such elevated quantities of particles, which the researchers believe to be toner, the ultrafine powder used in laser printers instead of ink to form text and images. One of the printers released particles into an experimental chamber at a rate comparable to the particle emissions from cigarette smoking, the report stated.

Neoconservatism Is Dead (Brent Budowsky)

@ 3:42 pm

Charles Krauthammer, not content with having been proven deadly wrong in his worldview of many years, learning nothing from the bloody disasters of the policies he so aggressively promoted, now attacks Barack Obama for suggesting America should talk with enemies as well as friends.

Our first and last neoconservative president, George W. Bush, is the lead witness for the prosecution in the case whose verdict is the death of neoconservatism.

PAUL KRUGMAN: An Immoral Philosophy

When a child is enrolled in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (Schip), the positive results can be dramatic. For example, after asthmatic children are enrolled in Schip, the frequency of their attacks declines on average by 60 percent, and their likelihood of being hospitalized for the condition declines more than 70 percent.

Regular care, in other words, makes a big difference. That’s why Congressional Democrats, with support from many Republicans, are trying to expand Schip, which already provides essential medical care to millions of children, to cover millions of additional children who would otherwise lack health insurance.

The NYT's New Pro-War Propaganda

No need to wait until September. It’s already obvious how George W. Bush and his still-influential supporters in Washington will sell an open-ended U.S. military occupation of Iraq – just the way they always have: the war finally has turned the corner and withdrawal now would betray the troops by snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

At one time, the Iraq story line was how many schoolrooms had been painted or how well the government security forces were doing. Now there are new silver linings being detected that will justify a positive progress report in September – and the U.S. news media is again ready to play its credulous part.

President Bush signaled the happy-news judgment of his hand-picked commander, Gen. David Petraeus, in a round of confident public appearances over the past two weeks. With his effusive praise of “David,” as Bush called the general at a White House news conference, the President acted like a smug student arriving for a test with the answers tucked in his pocket.

Tomgram: Chip Ward, How Efficiency Maximizes Catastrophe

It's true that no single incident or development -- no matter how out of the ordinary or startling -- can straightforwardly be attributed to climate change. Nonetheless, it seems strange that the massive flooding in England, of a sort last seen more than 60 years ago, led the TV news and made front pages here with hardly a mention of global warming. You certainly won't see a headline like this one from the British Telegraph: "Floods show global warming is here."

And yet this has been "the wettest May to July period for England and Wales since records began in 1766." The recent "Great Flood of July" in southern England followed a somewhat similar June event in the north. As parts of the country are still submerged in the wake of torrential, tropical-style deluges (a month's worth of rain fell in a few hours), while record extremes of heat "roast" central and southern Europe, the subject of climate change is certainly on European minds -- and a group of scientists are evidently going to release a study in the journal Nature this week that claims "more intense rainstorms across parts of the northern hemisphere are being generated by man-made global warming.

Congress To Finally Probe Massive 2002 Klamath Fish Kill

For Immediate Release: July 30, 2007
Contact: Carol Goldberg (202) 265-7337

Water Levels Halved by Cheney and Political Appointees over Scientists’ Objections

Washington, DC — Brushing aside scientific analyses, Bush administration appointees drastically reduced water flows in the Klamath River leading to the largest fish kill in the history of the Pacific Northwest, according to testimony released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). In the wake of press reports about the involvement of Vice President Dick Cheney, Congress is now asking how high up the orders came to cut water flows in the Klamath.

Exposed: The Truth Behind Popular Carbon Offsetting Schemes

By Martin Hickman, Independent UK
Posted on July 31, 2007, Printed on July 31, 2007

A television documentary has uncovered flaws in a series of carbon offsetting schemes intended to make good the global warming gases emitted by flights and other polluting activities.

An episode of the British show Dispatches aired "The Great Green Smoke Screen," which revealed how academics and environmentalists are questioning the ethics and impact of offsetting -- and suggesting that offsetting schemes have not been effective as claimed.

Chomsky: There Will Be a Cold War Between Iran and the U.S.

By Noam Chomsky, City Lights
Posted on July 30, 2007, Printed on July 31, 2007

The following is an excerpt from Noam Chomsky's new book Interventions published by City Lights Books. The excerpt first appeared in Z Magazine.

In the energy-rich Middle East, only two countries have failed to subordinate themselves to Washington's basic demands: Iran and Syria. Accordingly both are enemies, Iran by far the more important.

As was the norm during the Cold War, resort to violence is regularly justified as a reaction to the malign influence of the main enemy, often on the flimsiest of pretexts. Unsurprisingly, as Bush send s more troops to Iraq, tales surface of Iranian interference in the internal affairs of Iraq -- a country otherwise free from any foreign interference, on the tacit assumption that Washington rules the world.

Why Democrats May End Up on the Wrong Side of the Social Security Privatization War

By Lori Wallach and Todd Tucker, AlterNet
Posted on July 31, 2007, Printed on July 31, 2007

"Congress rejected Social Security privatization in 2005 and should reject it again in 2007 -- whether it's for Americans, Peruvians or Canadians. The promise of a secure retirement shouldn't stop at America's borders."

This was the reaction of William McNary, a leading Social Security activist, after finding out that some Democrats are supporting a Bush NAFTA expansion for Peru that would give Citibank, a major Democratic donor, the right to sue the country if it reverses its failed Social Security privatization.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Huffington Post: Marty Kaplan--After the Next 9/11

Americans are stupid about risk, me included. It's nuts to fear plane crashes more than car crashes; loopy to be more afraid of online sexual predators than of lightning; irrational to pay more attention to shark attacks than to climate change. Doubtless there's something about our lizard brain stems that accounts for our poor choices in boogeymen, and thus for the media's pandering to our catastrophilia. But no vestigial pathway in our panic-hardwiring is an excuse for the Bush administration's current ramping up of its shameless exploitation of our fears.

Each of the 95 times President Bush mentioned Al Qaeda in his South Carolina speech last week, and each of the innumerable times in coming days that his disciplined minions will push the Iraq-is-about-Al-Qaeda button, the real message is, of course, 9/11. If we don't win in Iraq, the Bush case goes, the terrorists will kill you and your children in the air, at the mall and in your bed.

Global warming forces Forest Service to reconsider strategy

Les Blumenthal | McClatchy Newspapers

last updated: July 30, 2007 06:40:39 AM

WASHINGTON — It was a monster fire — 175,000 acres of tinder-dry timber just south of the Canadian border in north-central Washington state. In places it burned with an intensity rarely seen, crowning through stands of Douglas fir and ponderosa and lodgepole pine that had been weakened by a bark beetle infestation.

“It was clearly a firestorm,” said David Peterson, a research biologist with the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Lab in Seattle.

Frequency of Atlantic hurricanes doubled over last century, climate change suspected

BOULDER--About twice as many Atlantic hurricanes form each year on average than a century ago, according to a new statistical analysis of hurricanes and tropical storms in the north Atlantic. The study concludes that warmer sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and altered wind patterns associated with global climate change are fueling much of the increase.

The study, by Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and Peter Webster of Georgia Institute of Technology, will be published online July 30 in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London.

"These numbers are a strong indication that climate change is a major factor in the increasing number of Atlantic hurricanes," says Holland.

Wider buffers are better

When protecting wetlands from nitrogen pollution, an EPA study points to wider, vegetated borders around streams as most effective

MADISON, WI, JULY 26, 2007- Excess nitrogen caused by fertilizers, animal waste, leaf litter, sewer lines, and highways is responsible for contaminating groundwater. It can also cause human health risks when found in drinking water and oxygen depleted water bodies endangering animals that drink from them. Establishing Riparian buffers is considered a best management practice (BMP) by State and Federal resource agencies for maintaining water quality, and they may be especially critical in controlling amounts of human produced nitrogen.

New Research on Achievement Test Scores Slow Under No Child Left Behind Reforms

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 30, 2007 – As Congress reviews federal efforts to boost student performance, new research published in Educational Researcher (ER) reports that progress in raising test scores was stronger before No Child Left Behind was approved in 2002, compared with the four years following enactment of the law.

The article “Gauging Growth: How to Judge No Child Left Behind?” is authored by Bruce Fuller, Joseph Wright, Kathryn Gesicki, and Erin Kang, and is one of four featured works published in the current issue of ER—a peer-reviewed scholarly journal of the American Educational Research Association.

NY Methodists to IRD: Cease and Desist!

By Frederick Clarkson

I just learned that earlier this summer, an annual conference of the United Methodist Church in New York, overwhelmingly passed a resolution that calls on the nefarious neoconservative agency, the Washington, DC-based Institute on Religion and Democracy to cease and desist it's "deceptive and divisive tactics"; that Methodist affiliates of IRD decouple; that Methodists not support IRD in any way; and that IRD itself "disband" its Methodist program.

This is a dramatic and important step for the mainline churches, which have generally been loath to acknowledge the externally financed and directed attacks on their communions, and to address the complicity of some of their members.

Jonathan Falwell on the march

Kicking it into high gear after his father's death, Falwell defends Ann Coulter, and appears at a historic evangelical Christian/Muslim meet-up in Washington

The Rev. Jonathan Falwell appears to be picking up from where his father, the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, left off. In his first contribution as a regular weekend columnist for the conservative online publication, WorldNetDaily, Falwell issued a dad-like attack on the liberal media while making a spirited defense of best selling author/provocateur Ann Coulter. Falwell accused the traditional media of consistently distorting her remarks. Volunteering his support for the embattled Coulter, Falwell wrote: "As long as you continue to contradict the policies of the mainstream ... you will carry a target on your back. This is a truth my dad, Jerry Falwell, experienced almost daily throughout his 51 years in ministry."

Scientists’ Tests Hack Into Electronic Voting Machines in California and Elsewhere

Computer scientists from California universities have hacked into three electronic voting systems used in California and elsewhere in the nation and found several ways in which vote totals could potentially be altered, according to reports released yesterday by the state.

The reports, the latest to raise questions about electronic voting machines, came to light on a day when House leaders announced in Washington that they had reached an agreement on measures to revamp voting systems and increase their security.

Glenn Greenwald: The really smart, serious, credible Iraq experts O'Hanlon and Pollack

What is the most vivid and compelling evidence of how broken our political system is? It is that the exact same people who urged us into the war in Iraq, were wrong in everything they said, and issued one false assurance after the next as the war failed, continue to be the same people held up as our Serious Iraq Experts. The exact "experts" to whom we listened in 2002 and 2003 are the same exact establishment "experts" now.

Hence, today we have yet another Op-Ed declaring that We Really Are Winning in Iraq This Time -- this one in the NYT from "liberal" Brookings Institution "scholars" Ken Pollack and Mike O'Hanlon. They accuse war critics of being "unaware of the significant changes taking place," proclaim that "we are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms," and the piece is entitled "A War we Might Just Win."

NYT Editorial: Mr. Gonzales’s Never-Ending Story

Published: July 29, 2007

President Bush often insists he has to be the decider — ignoring Congress and the public when it comes to the tough matters on war, terrorism and torture, even deciding whether an ordinary man in Florida should be allowed to let his wife die with dignity. Apparently that burden does not apply to the functioning of one of the most vital government agencies, the Justice Department.

Americans have been waiting months for Mr. Bush to fire Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who long ago proved that he was incompetent and more recently has proved that he can’t tell the truth. Mr. Bush refused to fire him after it was clear Mr. Gonzales lied about his role in the political purge of nine federal prosecutors. And he is still refusing to do so — even after testimony by the F.B.I. director, Robert Mueller, that suggests that Mr. Gonzales either lied to Congress about Mr. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping operation or at the very least twisted the truth so badly that it amounts to the same thing.

Exclusive: Gangs Spreading In The Military

(CBS) U.S. Army Sgt. Juwan Johnson got a hero's welcome while home on leave in June of 2004.

"Not only did I love my son - but my god - I liked the man he was becoming," his mother, Stephanie Cockrell, remembers.

But that trip home was the last time his family saw him alive.

Fear and Loathing in Middle America

By Sasha Abramsky, The American Prospect
Posted on July 30, 2007, Printed on July 30, 2007

This article is reprinted from the American Prospect.

Reviewed: Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War by Joe Bageant (Crown, 288 pages)

Every so often, you pick up a book and two pages in your nose is glued to it. Not necessarily because of the subject matter per se -- though good subject matter certainly helps -- but because the prose is so damned electric.

Usually, I've found, when it comes to reportage like this, the book's author has a single name: Hunter S. Thompson. Recently, though, I've added another name to my stuck-nose lexicon, having been utterly ensnared by Joe Bageant's Deer Hunting With Jesus.

Why the White House Keeps Hiding Behind General Petraeus

By Frank Rich, The New York Times
Posted on July 30, 2007, Printed on July 30, 2007

There was, of course, gallows humor galore when Dick Cheney briefly grabbed the wheel of our listing ship of state during the presidential colonoscopy last weekend. Enjoy it while it lasts. A once-durable staple of 21st-century American humor is in its last throes. We have a new surrogate president now. Sic transit Cheney. Long live David Petraeus!

It was The Washington Post that first quantified General Petraeus's remarkable ascension. President Bush, who mentioned his new Iraq commander's name only six times as the surge rolled out in January, has cited him more than 150 times in public utterances since, including 53 in May alone.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Wrong on the Right

The corporate wing of the Democratic Party - the Democratic Leadership Council—will meet in its "National Conversation" this weekend in Nashville. The press is already noting that while all of the Democratic presidential hopefuls will appear at the YearlyKos progressive blogger gathering in Chicago, not one is slated to join the DLC in Nashville.

DLC head Al From suggests this is because the candidates have "tunnel vision," and, focused on the Iowa caucuses, are chasing liberal activists. But From is certain that the party's nominee will turn to the DLC and drift to the right when it comes to the general election. "It's sort of like you play on one end of the field to win the nomination," From said, "but if you want to win the game, you've got to play on both ends."

TPM: Data Mining

As you can see, we now have the first hint of what was at the center of the Ashcroft hospital room showdown. According to the New York Times, what the White House calls the 'terrorist surveillance [i.e., warrantless wiretap] program' originally included some sort of largescale data mining.

I don't doubt that this is true as far as it goes. But this must only scratch the surface because, frankly, at least as presented, this just doesn't account for the depth of the controversy or the fact that so many law-and-order DOJ types were willing to resign over what was happening. Something's missing.

TPM: NYT: Impeach Gonzales

Not that he should be fired. The Times editorial in tomorrow's paper says he should be impeached if Paul Clement, who for a complicated set of reasons is acting AG in this matter, doesn't appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Gonzales' numerous and increasingly overlapping bad acts.

Leave it to President Bush to take us down so many unexplored and untrodden cul-de-sacs and byways of the US Constitution. Judges have been impeached with relative frequency, if we consider the two-plus centuries of history under the US Constitution. And this makes sense since there are quite a few federal judges, no one can fire them, and they have lifetime tenure; they can only be impeached.

Defeat Without Disaster

The least bad plan for leaving Iraq.

Peter Galbraith's article in the current New York Review of Books, "Iraq: The Way to Go," is one of the most bracing essays written on the subject lately—a provocative but logical case for a U.S. withdrawal (though not a total withdrawal) that still manages to achieve a few of the war's original goals.

I don't agree with every plank of Galbraith's proposal (more on that later), but anyone seeking a solution to this disaster needs at least to contend with his arguments.

As Rice and Gates travel to Middle East, air of futility pervades

Before the Iraq war, Washington had strong ties with the gulf states, especially Saudi Arabia. But the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-dominated government and the rise to power of Iraq’s majority Shiites shifted the balance in the region. With an unstable Iraq and their own Shiite minorities politically awakened, many governments feel U.S. actions have weakened their grip on power.

NYT Editorial: Still Waiting for Farm Reform

Published: July 28, 2007

Doling out last-minute benefits as only a speaker can, Nancy Pelosi managed to kill a progressive farm bill on the floor of the House. The House then passed a bill that further enshrined an outdated and excessively costly system of guaranteed subsidies. It is now up to the Senate, which will address the issue in September, to devise a new and improved bill that eliminates the old subsidies and uses the savings for food stamps, conservation and other causes worthier than making big farmers even richer.

Official: Consumer safety agency at risks

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Consumer Product Safety Commission could soon shrink to the point where it can't effectively protect the public, veteran Commissioner Thomas Moore says.

Many employees at the agency responsible for overseeing the safety of many thousands of consumer products are looking for other jobs because "they have no confidence the agency will continue to exist — or will exist in any meaningful form," Moore said in a statement Thursday.

"The commission can either continue to decline in staff, resources and stature to the point where it is no longer an effective force in consumer protection," said Moore, "or with the support of Congress it can regain the important place in American society it was originally designed to have."

Bush Aide Blocked Report

Global Health Draft In 2006 Rejected for Not Being Political

Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, July 29, 2007; Page A01

A surgeon general's report in 2006 that called on Americans to help tackle global health problems has been kept from the public by a Bush political appointee without any background or expertise in medicine or public health, chiefly because the report did not promote the administration's policy accomplishments, according to current and former public health officials.

The report described the link between poverty and poor health, urged the U.S. government to help combat widespread diseases as a key aim of its foreign policy, and called on corporations to help improve health conditions in the countries where they operate. A copy of the report was obtained by The Washington Post.

The True -- and Shocking -- History of the CIA

By Chalmers Johnson, Tomdispatch.com
Posted on July 28, 2007, Printed on July 29, 2007

This essay is a review of Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA by Tim Weiner (Doubleday, 702 pp., $27.95).

The American people may not know it but they have some severe problems with one of their official governmental entities, the Central Intelligence Agency. Because of the almost total secrecy surrounding its activities and the lack of cost accounting on how it spends the money covertly appropriated for it within the defense budget, it is impossible for citizens to know what the CIA's approximately 17,000 employees do with, or for, their share of the yearly $44 billion-$48 billion or more spent on "intelligence." This inability to account for anything at the CIA is, however, only one problem with the Agency and hardly the most serious one either.

There are currently at least two criminal trials underway in Italy and Germany against several dozen CIA officials for felonies committed in those countries, including kidnapping people with a legal right to be in Germany and Italy, illegally transporting them to countries such as Egypt and Jordan for torture, and causing them to "disappear" into secret foreign or CIA-run prisons outside the U.S. without any form of due process of law.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Presence of wolves allows aspen recovery in Yellowstone

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The wolves are back, and for the first time in more than 50 years, young aspen trees are growing again in the northern range of Yellowstone National Park.

The findings of a new study, just published in Biological Conservation, show that a process called “the ecology of fear” is at work, a balance has been restored to an important natural ecosystem, and aspen trees are surviving elk browsing for the first time in decades.

The research, done by forestry researchers at Oregon State University, supports theories about “trophic cascades” of ecological damage that can be caused when key predators – in this case, wolves – are removed from an ecosystem, and show that recovery is possible when the predators are returned. The results are especially encouraging for the health of America’s first national park, but may also have implications for other areas of the West and other important predators.

Two bacteria better than one in cellulose-fed fuel cell

No currently known bacteria that allow termites and cows to digest cellulose, can power a microbial fuel cell and those bacteria that can produce electrical current cannot eat cellulose. But careful pairing of bacteria can create a fuel cell that consumes cellulose and produces electricity, according to a team of Penn State researchers.

"We have gotten microbial fuel cells to work with all kinds of biodegradable substances including glucose, wastewater and other organic wastes," says John M. Regan, assistant professor of environmental engineering. "But, cellulose is tricky. There is no known microbe that can degrade cellulose and reduce the anode.

Leahy issues subpoena for Rove

July 26, 2007
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Thursday issued a subpoena for top White House adviser Karl Rove to compel him to testify about the firing of several U.S. attorneys.

“The evidence shows that senior White House political operatives were focused on the political impact of federal prosecutions and whether federal prosecutors were doing enough to bring partisan voter fraud and corruption cases,” Leahy said. “It is obvious that the reasons given for the firings of these prosecutors were contrived as part of a cover-up and that the stonewalling by the White House is part and parcel of that same effort.”

Dangers of a Cornered George Bush

Editor’s Note: As the nation and the world face 18 more months of George W. Bush’s presidency, a chilling prospect is that Bush – confronted with more defeats and reversals – might just “lose it” and undertake even more reckless military adventures.

In this special memorandum, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) collaborated with psychiatrist Justin Frank, author of Bush on the Couch, to assess the potential dangers and possible countermeasures available to constrain Bush:

AP: New details on Tillman's death

SAN FRANCISCO — Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman's forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player's death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

"The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described," a doctor who examined Tillman's body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.

Do You Live in One of the World's 15 Greenest Cities?

By , Grist Magazine
Posted on July 27, 2007, Printed on July 28, 2007

This article is reprinted by permission from Grist. For more environmental news and humor sign up for Grist's free email service.

These metropolises aren't literally the greenest places on earth -- they're not necessarily dense with foliage, for one, and some still have a long way to go down the path to sustainability. But all of the cities on this list deserve recognition for making impressive strides toward eco-friendliness, helping their many millions of residents live better, greener lives.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Ted Rall: Poor And Uneducated, Like We Thought

Debunking the Military Debunkers

SAN DIEGO--"The typical recruit in the all-volunteer force is wealthier, more educated and more rural than the average 18- to 24-year-old citizen is," claimed the authors of an oft-cited 2005 "comprehensive study" of the U.S. military commissioned by the Heritage Foundation.

"A pillar of conventional wisdom about the U.S. military is that the quality of volunteers has been degraded after the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq," said the conservative think tank. "Some insist that minorities and the underprivileged are over-represented in the military. Others accuse the U.S. Army of accepting unqualified enlistees in a futile attempt to meet its recruiting goals in the midst of an unpopular war." These myths, insisted Heritage and its media allies, were propagated by antiwar liberals out to demoralize the country by attacking its troops.

TPM: As Bad As Bush

By Josh Marshall

(ed.note: This is a post I was working on a few days ago but had set aside. But with attention fixing again today on the Post's editorial page's egregious record of distortions on Iraq, I thought I'd pull it out of Movable Type oblivion.)

The Iraq fiasco provides few opportunities for mirth. But one is watching Fred Hiatt, czar of the Washington Post editorial page, try to kick up enough dust to wriggle out of his own position on the war.

A necessary preliminary to this discussion is to realize that there is probably no editorial page in the United States that has advocated more influentially on behalf of the Iraq catastrophe at every stage in the unfolding disaster -- from the Iraq Liberation Act, the the WMD and al Qaeda bamboozlement, to the lauching of the war, to the longstanding denial of what was happening on the ground to the continuing refusal to brook any real change of course in policy. Other papers have been more hawkish, certainly. But because of its location in the nation's capital and even more because of its reputation as a non-conservative paper, the Post's fatuous and frequently mendacious editorializing has without doubt had a greater role in pushing the public debate into the war camp than any other editorial page in the nation.

A war of words

Dilip Hiro

July 26, 2007 11:00 AM


The Bush administration has so far been careful to ensure that any formal American-Iranian dialogue is restricted to the question of security in Iraq and does not spill over into the issue of Iran's nuclear programme. However, US policy makers have been considering both subjects simultaneously before reaching important decisions.

It is worth noting that during the run-up to the second Iranian-American dialogue in Baghdad on July 24, Washington notched up its list of Iranian acts aimed at undermining the presence of the American and British troops in Iraq. It alleged that the previous pattern of Iranian military and other aid to the Shia militias was being extended to Sunni jihadists of different hues, including individual cells of al-Qaida. The claim was based on the evidence that some caches discovered in Sunni-majority areas contained Iranian-made weapons, ignoring the fact that these caches also included arms manufactured in Bulgaria.

Nanowaste needs attention of EPA, industry and investors

Better toxicity data and private-sector outreach strategy required to manage potential risks

WASHINGTON, DC – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must make key decisions about how to apply the two major end-of-life statutes to nanotechnology waste in order to ensure adequate oversight for these technologies, concludes a new report from the Wilson Center’s Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies. However, the report notes that the Agency lacks much of the data on human health and eco-toxicity that form the basis for such determinations, creating some tough challenges ahead in EPA’s decision-making process.

In addition, firms that manufacture nanomaterials, investors, and insurers should consider the new kinds of liabilities and environmental risks that may emerge as a result of the release and disposal of waste nanomaterials into the environment. The report, Where Does the Nano Go" End-of Life Regulation of Nanotechnologies, written by environmental law experts Linda Breggin and John Pendergrass of the Environmental Law Institute, was commissioned by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, an initiative of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The report is available online at: www.nanotechproject.org/132.

T-shirt furor becomes fight for free speech

Friday, July 20, 2007

Vincent Greene, an Austin artist, and Dan Frazier, an Arizona T-shirt vendor, have never met, but they have a lot in common.

Both used the slogan "Bush Lied, They Died" for their work. Both have infuriated people by incorporating the names of Americans who have died in the Iraq war into their work. And both could face prosecution for continuing to use those names.

Diesel pollution 'clogs arteries'

Diesel fumes appear to combine with artery-clogging fats to raise the risk of heart disease, research suggests.

Scientists found the two act in concert to switch on genes that cause potentially dangerous inflammation of the blood vessels.

They hope their work will lead to a simple blood test enabling doctors to evaluate the impact of air pollution on a person's health.

Isikoff, Hosenball: New Documents Contradict Gonzales Testimony

Newsweek | Michael Isikoff, Mark Hosenball | July 26, 2007 10:20 AM

A letter last year from the nation's top intelligence official raises new questions about the credibility of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's account of a ferocious dispute within the administration over domestic surveillance activities authorized by President Bush.

The letter by director of national intelligence at the time, John Negroponte, as well as public testimony by CIA Director Michael Hayden, seems to contradict sworn testimony by Gonzales this week about a crucial intelligence briefing for congressional leaders on activities in the White House Situation Room on March 10, 2004. The letter specifically lists the March 10 meeting as one of a number of "briefings" about the "Terrorist Surveillance Program."

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Death of a Salesman

Death of a Salesman

By way of Steve Benen at Crooks & Liars, Steven Thomma of the McClatchy newspapers made an important observation yesterday, more important than he knows:

President Bush now has what he asked for — time to sell the people and the Congress on the Iraq war.

But an extra 60 days from Congress, the addition of the talented Ed Gillespie to run the White House communications strategy, and a newly ramped-up sales pitch cannot change the underlying fact: George Bush is a poor salesman.

Experts question U.S. strategy in Pakistan

Posted on Wed, Jul. 25, 2007

Experts question U.S. strategy in Pakistan

Jonathan S. Landay | McClatchy Newspapers
last updated: July 25, 2007 06:53:21 AM

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration's strategy for pursuing al-Qaida in Pakistan's tribal region could stoke support for the Islamic militants who are protecting the terrorist network's leaders and battling Pakistan's U.S.-backed military regime, some U.S. diplomatic and defense officials and experts warn.

President Bush is under pressure to act following the release last week of a new intelligence assessment that said Osama bin Laden's network has re-established itself and is plotting attacks on the United States from the mountainous tribal region that borders Afghanistan.

Hand gestures dramatically improve learning

Kids asked to physically gesture at math problems are nearly three times more likely than non-gesturers to remember what they’ve learned. In today’s issue of the journal Cognition, a University of Rochester scientist suggests it’s possible to help children learn difficult concepts by providing gestures as an additional and potent avenue for taking in information.

“We’ve known for a while that we use gestures to add information to a conversation even when we’re not entirely clear how that information relates to what we’re saying,” says Susan Wagner Cook, lead author and postdoctoral fellow at the University. “We asked if the reverse could be true; if actively employing gestures when learning helps retain new information.”

Alarm at US right to highly personal data

Religion and sex life among passenger details to be passed on to officials

Jamie Doward, home affairs editor
Sunday July 22, 2007
The Observer

Highly sensitive information about the religious beliefs, political opinions and even the sex life of Britons travelling to the United States is to be made available to US authorities when the European Commission agrees to a new system of checking passengers.

The EC is in the final stages of agreeing a new Passenger Name Record system with the US which will allow American officials to access detailed biographical information about passengers entering international airports.

Bush's Latest Executive Order: Feel the Heat Yet?

Created Jul 24 2007 - 9:20am

On July 17th President Bush signed another executive order. It should have made the front page and been the lead story on every newscast, but wasn't. In fact, unless you read the so-called “alternative” press, you probably still don't know a thing about it. Yet it could land your ass in jail and/or get your financial assets frozen or seized.

President Bush's latest order builds atop earlier “national security” executive orders Bush signed in the wake of 9/11. Here's the new order – with my annotations.

Rights Groups Dismiss Bush’s Rules for Secret Prisons

by Aaron Glantz

SAN FRANCISCO - Human rights organizations are reacting coldly to President George W. Bush’s executive order forbidding the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from torturing, humiliating, or abusing detainees in its once-secret interrogation program.

“It’s incredibly vague to the point of being useless as a way to stop torture,” said Shayana Kadidal, an attorney at the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, who represents detainees held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Key To Good Health That No One Is Talking About: Money

By Brydie Ragan, YES! Magazine
Posted on July 25, 2007, Printed on July 25, 2007

Research now tells us that lower socio-economic status may be more harmful to health than risky personal habits...

I recently saw a billboard for an employment service that said, "If you think cigarette smoking is bad for your health, try a dead-end job." This warning may not just be an advertising quip: public health research now tells us that lower socio-economic status may be more harmful to health than risky personal habits, such as smoking or eating junk food.

What to Say to Those Who Think Nuclear Power Will Save Us

By Rebecca Solnit, Orion Magazine
Posted on July 25, 2007, Printed on July 25, 2007

Chances are good, gentle reader, that you are going to have to sit next to someone in the coming year who will assert that nuclear power is the solution to climate change. What will you tell them?

There's so much to say. You could be sitting next to someone who hasn't really considered the evidence yet. Or you could be sitting next to scientist and Gaia theorist James Lovelock, a supporter of Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy™, which quotes him saying, "We have no time to experiment with visionary energy sources; civilisation is in imminent danger and has to use nuclear -- the one safe, available, energy source -- now or suffer the pain soon to be inflicted by our outraged planet."

The Myth of America's Rags-to-Riches Presidents

By Jonathan Zimmerman, Christian Science Monitor
Posted on July 25, 2007, Printed on July 25, 2007

Rudy Giuliani received $11 million last year in speaking fees alone. John McCain is worth between $20 million and $32 million, most of it earned the old-fashioned way: He married into it. John Edwards, a former trial lawyer, has assets of about $62 million. But they're all paupers compared to Mitt Romney, founder of a private equity firm, whose personal fortune is somewhere between $190 million and $250 million.

So what else is new?

Are Voter Registration Drives Being Put Out of Business?

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet
Posted on July 25, 2007, Printed on July 25, 2007

In 2004, Floridians overwhelmingly voted to raise their state minimum wage after low-income advocates collected ballot petition signatures, registered thousands of new voters and turned out the vote. The following spring, Florida's Republican-majority Legislature reacted. It passed a law that so severely regulated voter registration drives that, before the 2006 primary, Florida's League of Women Voters stopped registering voters for the first time in its history. The league feared mistakes on just 14 voter registration forms could result in penalties equal to its entire $70,000 budget.

Existing Home Sales Drop for 4th Month

Wednesday July 25, 7:06 pm ET
By Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer

Existing Home Sales Fall by Bigger-Than-Expected Amount in June As Housing Woes Continue WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sales of existing homes fell in June for a fourth consecutive month, further evidence that housing troubles are far from over. The National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday that sales of existing homes dropped by 3.8 percent in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.75 million units.

That is the slowest sales pace since November 2002 and the decline was about twice what had been expected.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

An Overdue Pay Raise

With all of the talk about the conservative obstructionism in Congress that is keeping important bills from becoming law, Tuesday brings something worth celebrating: The federal minimum wage, which had been frozen at $5.15 an hour for almost 10 years, increases 70 cents an hour, to $5.85 cents an hour.

The minimum wage increase is the one item on the Democrats' change agenda that has actually become law since the party took control of Congress last year. It came at what some activists consider too high a price, since it was attached to a measure authorizing continued funding for the Iraq war as well as a package of business tax cuts. Nonetheless, for more than 5.3 million workers, the increase is real, and real important as the first step in a broader effort to improve conditions for working people in America.

Gonzales Contradicts Prior Statements, Confirms Existence Of Other Spying Programs

In his testimony today before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was asked by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) to address inaccuracies in his 2006 testimony in relation to the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. “There has not been any serious disagreement about the program that the president has confirmed,” Gonzales said at the time.

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) recalled that former Deputy Attorney General James Comey testified to a much different version of events. Comey said he had refused to sign on to an extension of the program “amid concerns about its legality and oversight.”

U.S. Is Seen in Iraq Until at Least ’09

Published: July 24, 2007

BAGHDAD, July 23 — While Washington is mired in political debate over the future of Iraq, the American command here has prepared a detailed plan that foresees a significant American role for the next two years.

The classified plan, which represents the coordinated strategy of the top American commander and the American ambassador, calls for restoring security in local areas, including Baghdad, by the summer of 2008. “Sustainable security” is to be established on a nationwide basis by the summer of 2009, according to American officials familiar with the document.

"The Only Moral Abortion Is My Abortion"

By choice joyce
Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 09:08:38 AM EST

We are pleased to welcome guest front pager Joyce Arthur, a Canadian abortion rights activist and the publisher of Pro-Choice Press, Canada's only national prochoice publication. It's a long post, but worth the read. -- FC

The following has proved to be one of the most popular articles I've ever written. Although I wrote it in 2000, it could have been written yesterday. This phenonemon continues unabated at abortion clinics throughout the nation. -- choice joyce

When the Anti-Choice Choose

Abortion is a highly personal decision that many women are sure they'll never have to think about until they're suddenly faced with an unexpected pregnancy. But this can happen to anyone, including women who are strongly anti-choice. So what does an anti-choice woman do when she experiences an unwanted pregnancy herself? Often, she will grin and bear it, so to speak, but frequently, she opts for the solution she would deny to other women - abortion. In the spring of 2000, I collected the following anecdotes directly from abortion doctors and other clinic staff in North America, Australia, and Europe.

The stories are presented in the providers' own words, with minor editing for grammar, clarity, and brevity. Names have been omitted to protect privacy.

New Executive Order Could Lead to Endless Chain of Repression

July 20, 2007
By Matthew Rothschild

Bush has done it again: issued an Executive Order that gives him unprecedented power.

On May 9, he designated himself, and not Congress or the Supreme Court, as the insurer of the Constitution in the event of a national emergency.

And on July 17, he issued another Executive Order giving the Secretary of the Treasury the authority to freeze the assets of any person opposing Bush’s Iraq policy who may have committed an act of violence, or even posed “a significant risk of committing” such an act, or “assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, logistical, or technical support” for others committing such acts.

Democrats struggle with online questions

By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer
Mon Jul 23, 7:58 PM ET

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Democratic presidential hopefuls struggled Monday night to answer questions posed by young, Internet-savvy voters who challenged traditional political labels and the candidates' own place in a broken political system.

"Wassup?" came the first question, from a voter named Zach, after another, named Chris, opened the CNN-YouTube debate with a challenge to the entire eight-candidate field: "Can you as politicians ... actually answer questions rather than beat around the bush?"

Do We Torture?

Special to washingtonpost.com
Monday, July 23, 2007; 2:06 PM

The White House's Friday afternoon rollout of its new policy on torture was a marvel of loopholes and obfuscation regarding what should be a crystal-clear moral issue.

"We don't torture" ought to be one of our nation's credos. As it happens, it is President Bush's stock response when asked to describe U.S. policy. But this latest official razzle-dazzle still leaves unclear what Bush and his aides mean when they use the word.

Humans 'affect global rainfall'

Human-induced climate change has affected global rainfall patterns over the 20th Century, a study suggests.

Researchers said changes to the climate had led to an increase in annual average rainfall in the mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere.

Five Ways Bush's Era of Repression Has Stolen Your Liberties Since 9/11

By Matthew Rothschild, The New Press
Posted on July 24, 2007, Printed on July 24, 2007

The following is an excerpt of Matthew Rothschild's "You Have No Rights: Stories of America in an Age of Repression" (The New Press, 2007).

To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists. ... They give ammunition to America's enemies, and pause to America's friends.
-- former attorney general John Ashcroft

You're either with us or against us. -- George W. Bush

Today's America is a much less free place than the America of 2000. Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Bush administration has, by word and by deed, erected an edifice of repression here in the United States.

How Our Fossil Fuel Dependence Is Jeopardizing Our Healthcare System

By Dan Bednarz, Orion Magazine
Posted on July 24, 2007, Printed on July 24, 2007

The scale and subtlety of our country's dependency on oil and natural gas cannot be overstated. Nowhere is this truer than in our medical system.

Petrochemicals are used to manufacture analgesics, antihistamines, antibiotics, antibacterials, rectal suppositories, cough syrups, lubricants, creams, ointments, salves, and many gels. Processed plastics made with oil are used in heart valves and other esoteric medical equipment.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Americablog: Edwards' video is brilliant

by John Aravosis (DC) · 7/23/2007 08:12:00 PM ET

I had no idea the "Hair" video was from Edwards, or what it actually showed...

(open link for YouTube video)--Dictynna

Iraq: The Way to Go

By Peter W. Galbraith

Editor's note: Peter Galbraith will answer questions about his article "Iraq: The Way to Go" until July 27. Please submit questions to web@nybooks.com with "Question for Peter Galbraith" in the subject line by July 27 and Mr. Galbraith will post his responses to selected questions on nybooks.com on August 6.


On May 30, the Coalition held a ceremony in the Kurdistan town of Erbil to mark its handover of security in Iraq's three Kurdish provinces from the Coalition to the Iraqi government. General Benjamin Mixon, the US commander for northern Iraq, praised the Iraqi government for overseeing all aspects of the handover. And he drew attention to the "benchmark" now achieved: with the handover, he said, Iraqis now controlled security in seven of Iraq's eighteen provinces.

In fact, nothing was handed over. The only Coalition force in Kurdistan is the peshmerga, a disciplined army that fought alongside the Americans in the 2003 campaign to oust Saddam Hussein and is loyal to the Kurdistan government in Erbil. The peshmerga provided security in the three Kurdish provinces before the handover and after. The Iraqi army has not been on Kurdistan's territory since 1996 and is effectively prohibited from being there. Nor did the Iraqi flag fly at the ceremony. It is banned in Kurdistan.

TPM Muckraker: Today's Must Read

Last month, TPMmuckraker reported on an Army reserve intelligence officer who filed a sworn declaration in D.C. Circuit court alleging systemic problems with the way the Pentagon certifies that detainees at Guantanamo Bay are enemy combatants. The officer, Stephen Abraham, claims that the process, known as a Combatant Status Review Tribunal, is weighted -- by design and in execution -- to declare practically everyone at Gitmo an enemy combatant, no matter how dubious the evidence is.

Today Abraham, a lawyer in civilian life, gets treated to a long New York Times profile. A life-long conservative who says he cried when President Nixon resigned, Abraham became, in the eyes of several legal observers, the whistleblower whose account to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals convinced the Supreme Court to take up the question of enemy combatants' habeas corpus rights.

Science chief: cut birthrate to save Earth

New museum head says lower population would cut CO2 at a fraction of renewable energy cost

Robin McKie, science editor
Sunday July 22, 2007
The Observer

The new head of the Science Museum has an uncompromising view about how global warming should be dealt with: get rid of a few billion people. Chris Rapley, who takes up his post on September 1, is not afraid of offending. 'I am not advocating genocide,' said Rapley. 'What I am saying is that if we invest in ways to reduce the birthrate - by improving contraception, education and healthcare - we will stop the world's population reaching its current estimated limit of between eight and 10 billion.

PAUL KRUGMAN: The French Connections

There was a time when everyone thought that the Europeans and the Japanese were better at business than we were. In the early 1990s airport bookstores were full of volumes with samurai warriors on their covers, promising to teach you the secrets of Japanese business success. Lester Thurow’s 1992 book, “Head to Head: The Coming Economic Battle Among Japan, Europe and America,” which spent more than six months on the Times best-seller list, predicted that Europe would win.

Then it all changed, and American despondency turned into triumphalism. Partly this was because the Clinton boom contrasted so sharply with Europe’s slow growth and Japan’s decade-long slump. Above all, however, our new confidence reflected the rise of the Internet. Jacques Chirac complained that the Internet was an “Anglo-Saxon network,” and he had a point — France, like most of Europe except Scandinavia, lagged far behind the U.S. when it came to getting online.

U.S. dropped Enron-like fraud probe

Prosecutor who built case against Virginia insurer was replaced.

By Marisa Taylor - Mcclatchy Washington Bureau
Published 12:00 am PDT Monday, July 23, 2007

Two years into a fraud investigation, veteran federal prosecutor David Maguire told colleagues he'd uncovered one of the biggest cases of his career.

Maguire described crimes "far worse" than those of Arthur Andersen, the accounting giant that collapsed in the wake of the Enron scandal. Among those in his sights: executives from a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, the investment empire overseen by billionaire Warren Buffett.

The Energy Solution That Dare Not Speak Its Name: Gas Rationing

By Raymond J. Learsy, HuffingtonPost.com
Posted on July 23, 2007, Printed on July 23, 2007

Quite incredibly, over a span of two weeks during the Aspen Ideas Festival and the Aspen Energy Conference, wherein the themes of global warming and oil dependency were discussed again and again in various forums by formidable personages of government, the press, industry, think tanks and environmental groups, the issue this post focuses on was not brought up by a single panelist.

Speakers of exceptional standing, achievement and competence -- President Clinton, John Doerr, Thomas L. Friedman, and panelists such as Gary Hart spoke eloquently on the dangers of energy dependence and most especially and passionately on the existential crisis of encroaching climate change.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Daily Kos: The Political "Me" Movement: A Piefight In D-Minor

Sat Jul 21, 2007 at 06:00:42 PM PDT

In which I insult libertarians and libertarianism for no good reason...

I know many among us -- among Democrats, that is -- are attempting to woo small-L libertarians into our big tent, primarily because they are so disaffected with the Republican party that they are finally willing to contemplate living with such horrors as modest environmental protections, a drive for energy efficiency, and seat belts. But let me come clean on something from a personal standpoint, and if it results in a one-thread piefight then it can be on my conscience and mine alone. Consider this my public confessional.

There are many political -isms that I am distinctly not a fan of, and I am wary of all of them; in general, any word that ends in -ism tends to have a long and boisterous tail -- the kind of tail that, on the rear end of a dog, scatters papers and knocks over lamps, and on the rear end of a government, sometimes scatters rights and knocks over nations. I have chosen to adopt two socially moderate -isms as my own, progressivism and liberalism, and rejected outright most others on both sides of the right-left divide. I believe Marxism, for example, to have been based on almost comically poor reading of actual human nature -- Marx rivals Freud for brilliant, insightful, and truly ingenious misdiagnoses of the collective psyche -- and I consider conservatism to be a thin veneer of morality overlaid on top of a deep-seated and primal bigotry against the onknown other. Conservativism as a unified movement can only exist in the presence of a perceived and very human enemy, in the form of some ethic group, or religious premise, or "threatening" social tribe.

Analysis: GOP senators nervous about war

By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent
Sat Jul 21, 12:15 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Senate Republicans are growing increasingly nervous defending the war in Iraq, and Democrats more confident in their attempts to end it.

More than a year before the 2008 elections, it is a political role reversal that bodes ill for President Bush's war strategy, not to mention his recent statement that Congress' role should merely be "funding the troops."

C.I.A. Allowed to Resume Interrogations

Published: July 20, 2007

WASHINGTON, July 20 — After months of behind the scenes wrangling, the White House said Friday that it had given the Central Intelligence Agency approval to resume its use of some harsh interrogation methods in questioning terrorism suspects in secret prisons overseas.

With the new authorization, administration officials said the C.I.A. could now proceed with an interrogation program that has been in limbo since the Supreme Court ruled last year that all prisoners in American captivity be treated in accordance with Geneva Convention prohibitions against humiliating and degrading treatment of detainees.

FRANK RICH: I Did Have Sexual Relations With That Woman

It's not just the resurgence of Al Qaeda that is taking us back full circle to the fateful first summer of the Bush presidency. It’s the hot sweat emanating from Washington. Once again the capital is titillated by a scandal featuring a member of Congress, a woman who is not his wife and a rumor of crime. Gary Condit, the former Democratic congressman from California, has passed the torch of below-the-Beltway sleaziness to David Vitter, an incumbent (as of Friday) Republican senator from Louisiana.

Mr. Vitter briefly faced the press to explain his “very serious sin,” accompanied by a wife who might double for the former Mrs. Jim McGreevey. He had no choice once snoops hired by the avenging pornographer Larry Flynt unearthed his number in the voluminous phone records of the so-called D.C. Madam, now the subject of a still-young criminal investigation. Newspapers back home also linked the senator to a defunct New Orleans brothel, a charge Mr. Vitter denies. That brothel’s former madam, while insisting he had been a client, was one of his few defenders last week. “Just because people visit a whorehouse doesn’t make them a bad person,” she helpfully told the Baton Rouge paper, The Advocate.

DeFazio asks, but he's denied access

Classified info - The congressman wanted to see government plans for after a terror attack

Friday, July 20, 2007
The Oregonian Staff

WASHINGTON -- Oregonians called Peter DeFazio's office, worried there was a conspiracy buried in the classified portion of a White House plan for operating the government after a terrorist attack.

As a member of the U.S. House on the Homeland Security Committee, DeFazio, D-Ore., is permitted to enter a secure "bubbleroom" in the Capitol and examine classified material. So he asked the White House to see the secret documents.

King George W.: James Madison's Nightmare

By Robert Scheer, Truthdig. Posted July 18, 2007.

In 1795, James Madison wrote of war's far-reaching and corrosive effect on public liberty. He could well have been warning us about our own King George, just the sort of imperial president that Madison and other founders of our nation feared most.

George W. Bush is the imperial president that James Madison and other founders of this great republic warned us about. He lied the nation into precisely the "foreign entanglements" that George Washington feared would destroy the experiment in representative government, and he has championed a spurious notion of security over individual liberty, thus eschewing the alarms of Thomas Jefferson as to the deprivation of the inalienable rights of free citizens. But most important, he has used the sledgehammer of war to obliterate the separation of powers that James Madison enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

With the "war on terror," Bush has asserted the right of the president to wage war anywhere and for any length of time, at his whim, because the "terrorists" will always provide a convenient shadowy target. Just the "continual warfare" that Madison warned of in justifying the primary role of Congress in initiating and continuing to finance a war -- the very issue now at stake in Bush's battle with Congress.

Elizabeth Edwards Interview: "The Candidate Who's Best for Women in This Race is My Husband"

By Ruth Conniff, The Progressive
Posted on July 21, 2007, Printed on July 22, 2007

Eizabeth Edwards is one of those rare creatures in politics -- a real human being. As she campaigns for her husband, John Edwards, she is winning audiences with her warm, straight-shooting style. She keeps a frenetic schedule, even after the bad news about her breast cancer returning. In May, she spoke to reporters in Madison, Wisconsin, before delivering a speech to a bipartisan group of women in politics. Looking sharp and relaxed in a black pantsuit, she paused to comment wryly to a photographer crouched in front of her, "That is the worst possible angle for a woman, you know. You may take those pictures, but you may not run them."

Saturday, July 21, 2007

U.S. home builder woes reach into other industries

Sat Jul 21, 2007 3:51 AM ET

By Ilaina Jonas

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The anemic U.S. housing market has hurt various industries from makers of air conditioners to earth movers, with several manufacturers reporting their top lines have been bruised by the slowdown.

Still, several investors remain positive about the long- term outlook for U.S. home builders, although a rebound may be years away.

Ex-Gonzales no. 2: Make Fitzgerald Attorney General

07/20/2007 @ 2:05 pm

Filed by Michael Roston

The former top deputy to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales suggested that Special Prosecutor and US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald should be Attorney General of the United States, according to a report in Bloomberg News.

"I think he would make a spectacular attorney general," former Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Comey told the news service's Patricia Hurtado and David Voreacos in a Friday article. "He certainly is one of the very best federal prosecutors in America."

Senate tied in knots by filibusters

This year Senate Republicans are threatening filibusters to block more legislation than ever before, a pattern that's rooted in — and could increase — the pettiness and dysfunction in Congress.

The Founding Fathers Wouldn't Have Liked George Bush

Posted July 20, 2007 | 09:54 AM (EST)

I'm in Boston today, getting ready for my standup special tomorrow night live on HBO (last shameless plug, I promise), and walking around the city has made me remember: oh yeah, America started here. That's right, America was invented by liberal men in Boston and Philadelphia. Not that I don't love all of America, but rednecks who think they're the real America should read a history book once in a while. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Franklin, Madison -- the whole lot of them were well read, erudite, European thinking children of the enlightenment, and they would have had absolutely nothing in common and less to say to a cowboy simpleton like George Bush.

Court Tells U.S. to Reveal Data on Detainees at Guantánamo

Published: July 21, 2007

A federal appeals court ordered the government yesterday to turn over virtually all its information on Guantánamo detainees who are challenging their detention, rejecting an effort by the Justice Department to limit disclosures and setting the stage for new legal battles over the government’s reasons for holding the men indefinitely.

The ruling, which came in one of the main court cases dealing with the fate of the detainees, effectively set the ground rules for scores of cases by detainees challenging the actions of Pentagon tribunals that decide whether terror suspects should be held as enemy combatants.

US to crack down on “terror bankrolls”

By: Nicole Belle on Thursday, July 19th, 2007 at 9:02 AM - PDT

USA Today:

The Bush administration announced a new tool Tuesday to freeze financial assets of those who want to destabilize Iraq.

President Bush unveiled a new executive order that allows the administration to block bank accounts and any other financial assets that might be found in this country belonging to people, companies or groups that the United States deems are working to threaten stability in Iraq.

The Logic of Impeachment

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has taken impeachment “off the table,” in line with Official Washington’s view that trying to oust George W. Bush and Dick Cheney would be an unpleasant waste of time. But there is emerging a compelling logic that an unprecedented dual impeachment might be vital to the future of the United States.

If some historic challenge is not made to the extraordinary assertions of power by President Bush and Vice President Cheney, the United States might lose its status as a democratic Republic based on a Constitution that adheres to the twin principles that no one is above the law and everyone is endowed with inalienable rights.

Over the past six-plus years, Bush has trampled on these traditional concepts of liberty and the rule of law time and again, even as he professes his love of freedom and democracy. Indeed, in Bush’s world, the word “freedom” has come to define almost its classical opposite.

Bush reclaims powers after colonoscopy

1 hour, 7 minutes ago

CAMP DAVID, Md. - Doctors removed five small polyps from President Bush's colon on Saturday after he temporarily transferred the powers of his office for two hours to Vice President Dick Cheney under the rarely invoked 25th Amendment.

Prospects dim for popular health bill

Fri Jul 20, 4:00 AM ET

Washington - A modest attempt to renew a popular program that helps poor children get access to insurance is unexpectedly becoming a proxy for the next big battle over who pays for American healthcare.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Curry Spice Chemical Could Curb Alzheimer's

Wed Jul 18, 11:46 PM ET

WEDNESDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) -- A chemical found in curry may help the immune system clear away brain plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease, a new study suggests.

The findings build on previous research linking curry consumption to reduced Alzheimer's risk, including one study that found that only 1 percent of elderly Indians developed the disease -- a quarter of the rate seen in the United States.

Cancer-proof mice live longer

An extra copy of a tumour-killing gene helps mice to stay young.

Ewen Callaway

A protein known to keep cancer at bay now also looks to be a fountain of youth. Mice with an extra copy of the tumour-killing gene that pumps out this protein live longer than those with just one copy, and are better at combating the cell damage that causes ageing.

The finding hints that a drug designed to boost the tumour suppressor, called p53, could work as an anti-ageing treatment for people, says Manuel Serrano, a biologist at Spanish National Cancer Research Centre in Madrid. Serrano's team publish their work in this week's Nature.

Man with tiny brain shocks doctors

A man with an unusually tiny brain manages to live an entirely normal life despite his condition, which was caused by a fluid build-up in his skull.

Scans of the 44-year-old man's brain showed that a huge fluid-filled chamber called a ventricle took up most of the room in his skull, leaving little more than a thin sheet of actual brain tissue (see image, right).

A man with an unusually tiny brain manages to live an entirely normal life despite his condition, which was caused by a fluid build-up in his skull.

Scans of the 44-year-old man's brain showed that a huge fluid-filled chamber called a ventricle took up most of the room in his skull, leaving little more than a thin sheet of actual brain tissue

TPM Muckraker: Does the NIE Understate the Terror Threat From Pakistan?

All of this comes with the caveat that there's way more in this week's National Intelligence Estimate than we see in the unclassified key judgments. But the description it gives for the presence that al-Qaeda maintains in Pakistan is rather understated.

Al-Qaeda has, the NIE says, "safehaven in the Pakistan Federal Administrative Tribal Areas." That much is no longer controversial among counterterrorism experts. But what the description neglects -- again, at least in the unclassified, introductory section -- is that al-Qaeda has a broader infrastructure inside the parts of Pakistan that General Pervez Musharraf controls as well.

TPM: Bedside Manner

By David Kurtz

Alberto Gonzales went behind closed doors on the Hill yesterday where he was peppered with questions about that notorious visit to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft while he was hospitalized:

In a closed-door session, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes said members were especially interested in the reasons behind Gonzales' controversial 2004 visit to the hospital bedside of John Ashcroft, reportedly to pressure the ailing attorney general to endorse Bush's surveillance program. Ashcroft, said to have been barely conscious at the time, refused.

Taking the fossil out of fossil fuel

20 July 2007
NewScientist.com news service
Phil Mckenna New York State

In the rolling farm country of central New York state, the cicadas buzz, the barn swallows swoop and the natural gas hisses. Covered from head to toe in a baggy blue safety suit, Jennifer McIntosh, a geochemist from the University of Arizona in Tucson, leans over a rusty wellhead as she extracts a sample. A moment later the hissing stops and a small silver canister, now full of gas, is unfastened and packed away, ready for the lab.

Ex-Justice Department lawyer changes his testimony

Greg Gordon | McClatchy Newspapers

last updated: July 19, 2007 07:08:27 PM

WASHINGTON — A former senior Justice Department official has backed off sworn Senate testimony that he consulted with senior agency voting-rights lawyers before inaccurately advising Arizona officials they could deny thousands of voters their rights to provisional ballots.

Hans von Spakovsky, who hopes to win confirmation to a full six-year term on the Federal Election Commission, revised his statement in a recent letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee after former senior department voting-rights lawyers challenged his veracity.

Von Spakovsky has served as a presidential recess appointee to the FEC since early last year. His nomination is in jeopardy because of questions about his conduct as voting counsel to the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division from 2003 to December 2005.

Bush's Baghdad Mouthpiece

Special to washingtonpost.com
Thursday, July 19, 2007; 1:14 PM

The White House's favored talking point when it comes to the war in Iraq is an attempt to link the violence there with al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and 9/11.

Most of the violence is a result of Iraqis fighting each other and the U.S. occupation. Yet on July 4, at an Independence Day celebration in West Virginia, President Bush announced: "Many of the spectacular car bombings and killings you see are as a result of al Qaeda -- the very same folks that attacked us on September the 11th. A major enemy in Iraq is the same enemy that dared attack the United States on that fateful day."

Paul Krugman: All the President’s Enablers

In a coordinated public relations offensive, the White House is using reliably friendly pundits — amazingly, they still exist — to put out the word that President Bush is as upbeat and confident as ever. It might even be true.

What I don’t understand is why we’re supposed to consider Mr. Bush’s continuing confidence a good thing.

Remember, Mr. Bush was confident six years ago when he promised to bring in Osama, dead or alive. He was confident four years ago, when he told the insurgents to bring it on. He was confident two years ago, when he told Brownie that he was doing a heckuva job.

Broader Privilege Claimed In Firings

White House Says Hill Can't Pursue Contempt CasesWashington Post Staff Writers
Friday, July 20, 2007; Page A01

Bush administration officials unveiled a bold new assertion of executive authority yesterday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, saying that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege.

The position presents serious legal and political obstacles for congressional Democrats, who have begun laying the groundwork for contempt proceedings against current and former White House officials in order to pry loose information about the dismissals.

Justice at Stake: Ensuring That Prisoners in the U.S. Are Never 'Disappeared'

By Shahid Buttar, AlterNet
Posted on July 20, 2007, Printed on July 20, 2007

Critics of the War on Terror have argued since 9/11 that the Bush administration's multifaceted betrayal of human rights and constitutional freedoms poses a greater threat to our society than the threat it means to address. From domestic spying to Guantanamo Bay, torture by U.S. authorities to kangaroo courts, our prevailing practices have undermined the notion that we operate according to the rule of law, leaving the War on Terror looking more like a War of Terror. The Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) is an especially egregious case in point.

The MCA was ill-considered legislation passed in haste by a right-wing Congress that the American people have since rejected. Its most problematic provisions have drawn worthy criticism, but those provisions should not be repealed piecemeal. Instead, the MCA should be rescinded in its entirety. To the extent it offers any legitimate tools to law enforcement authorities, they should face calm, considered debate in the light of day.

Why Is the White House Pretending That Saudi Insurgents in Iraq Are Iranian?

By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!
Posted on July 20, 2007, Printed on July 20, 2007

The Los Angeles Times is reporting nearly half of all foreign militants targeting U.S. troops in Iraq have come from Saudi Arabia – one of Washington's closest allies in the Middle East. U.S. officials have so far refused to publicly criticize Saudi Arabia's role in Iraq, focusing instead on Iran. Democracy Now! spoke with an L.A. Times correspondent in Iraq, Ned Parker, and Toby Jones, a former Persian Gulf analyst with the International Crisis Group and history professor at Rutgers University.

Bush's War on Women Is a War on Science

By Caryl Rivers, AlterNet
Posted on July 20, 2007, Printed on July 20, 2007

The veil over the Bush administration's war on women's reproductive health was pulled back recently by the president's own former surgeon general. When Richard H. Carmora told Congress he was muzzled by the administration when he wanted to speak out on issues of sex and science, he highlighted one of the news media's major failures over the past seven years.

The ideological matrix into which the administration has tried to cram science policy should have been one of the biggest stories in the nation. But the press failed its women readers in particular (and their children).

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Alternative farming cleans up water

In light of growing concern over agricultural pollution, producers are looking for ways to improve their farming practices without sacrificing crop production. New evidence suggests alternative cropping systems can reduce the impacts of fertilizer runoff.

The Foreclosing of America (4): Vicious And Virtuous Circles

[Thus concludes our series. Read previous installments here, here, and here.]

I've written about now-dead GOP dreams of creating a nation of conservatives by goosing the percentage of Americans who own their homes - because, as the American Enterprise Institute once fantasized, people who own real estate "have a deeper commitment to their community, a more profound sense of family obligation and personal responsibility, a stronger identification with the national fortunes, and a personal interest in our capitalist economy. (They also have a greater propensity to vote Republican.)"

I've written about the victims, ordinary, cash-strapped Americans who made the mistake of presuming that the people selling them their "NINJA" - No Income, No Job, No Assets - mortgages wouldn't be cutting these deals had they not believed in their' ability to honor the obligations - even in the face of a (anti-) regulatory environment that let mortgage brokers make a killing whether the loans succeeded or not.

$100 U.S.-a-barrel oil foreseen by late 2008

Jul 19, 2007 04:30 AM

A "steady ascent" of crude oil prices toward $100 (U.S.) a barrel continues, but the predicted date when that level will be hit remains a moving target, according to a CIBC World Markets report yesterday.

The investment division of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce predicts "record highs of $80 a barrel this year and reaching as high as $100 a barrel by the end of 2008 as soaring oil demand outpaces growth in global supply."

Tragedy as Farce

By David Kurtz

Sidney Blumenthal previews the next scene of the Iraq debacle:

Gen. Petraeus is promised as the dramatic hero who will stride to triumph in the last act. The author of a recent study of counterinsurgency who has not previously fought such a war, he has been thrust into the spotlight partly because his halo is yet untarnished. Bush's unpopularity disqualifies him from the "Mission Accomplished" moment. So he pushes out his handpicked general and walks behind his chariot, hoping the cheering of the crowd will be also for him. In his July 12 press conference, Bush mentioned Petraeus 11 times, his name flourished as a talisman for "victory." The generals with the greatest experience with the Iraq insurgency, who opposed Bush's surge, such as Gen. John Abizaid, an Arabic speaker, have been discharged or reassigned. The burden on the ambitious general to produce a military solution is unbearable and his breaking inevitable. But for now, Petraeus' tragedy foretold is being cast as the first dawn of a happy ending.

U.S. threatens action in Pakistan

Tom Lasseter | McClatchy Newspapers

last updated: July 19, 2007 06:44:33 AM

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — An ambush of a military convoy that killed 17 troops near the Afghan border Wednesday pushed the death toll in a series of attacks to at least 101 Pakistanis in the past five days — and brought President Pervez Musharraf, according to a local newspaper headline, to a "Moment of Truth."

The Bush administration, after publicly demanding that Musharraf rein in militants linked to al Qaida, on Wednesday threatened to launch attacks into Pakistani territory if it sees fit.

"We certainly do not rule out options, and we retain the option especially of striking actionable targets," said White House spokesman Tony Snow. "But it is clearly of the utmost importance to go in there and deal with the problem in the tribal areas."

Why Bush Is A Loser

By David Corn
Tuesday, July 17, 2007; 7:45 PM

Who knew Bill Kristol had such a flair for satire?

How else to read his piece for Outlook on Sunday, in which he declared, "George W. Bush's presidency will probably be a successful one"? Surely Kristol, the No. 1 cheerleader for the Iraq war, was mocking himself (and his neoconservative pals) for having been so mistaken about so much. But just in case his article was meant to be a serious stab at commentary, let's review Kristol's record as a prognosticator.

The Power of the Campaign Narrative

All successful presidential candidates have had a coherent, appealing story, while the losers tell bad stories -- or more often, no story at all.


On November 4, 1979, Senator Ted Kennedy, preparing to announce his primary challenge to President Jimmy Carter, sat down for an interview with Roger Mudd of CBS News. Polls showed Kennedy far ahead of the beleaguered incumbent, and many political experts at the time expected the youngest son of America's political royal family to take the mantle from his two slain brothers and charge to the White House. But when Mudd asked him a simple question -- "Senator, why do you want to be president?" -- Kennedy could not offer a simple response. His rambling, muddled answer dealt his campaign a terrible blow.

It may seem strange that someone who had made the decision to run for president couldn't sum up in a few sentences what the purpose of his candidacy was. Kennedy's problem was not that he didn't have a good reason to run -- he had plenty of them. His problem was the way he thought about that run. He thought about issues, he thought about the weaknesses of the president he was trying to supplant, he thought about the programs he wanted to institute. What he didn't construct was a story that explained his candidacy to voters and offered a narrative structure for journalists to use when reporting on him.

Murdoch Nears $5 Billion Purchase of Dow Jones

Rupert Murdoch Close to Adding The Wall Street Journal to His Media Empire

July 18, 2007 —

He'll take The Wall Street Journal for $5 billion, please.

Australian tycoon and media mogul Rupert Murdoch is one step closer to owning the crown jewel of the journalism industry, with a takeover that is raising eyebrows from Dow Jones to the larger media world.

The board of Dow Jones said late Tuesday it was ready to sign off on Murdoch's proposal to buy the company for $5 billion.

The Young Republican Chickenhawks Convention

By Guest Blogger
Posted on July 19, 2007, Printed on July 19, 2007

This post, written by Max Blumenthal, originally appeared on The Huffington Post

On July 13, 2007, I visited Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, where the bodies of American soldiers killed in Iraq were freshly interred. Afterwards, I headed across the street to the Sheraton National Hotel, owned by right-wing Korean cult leader Sun Myung-Moon, to meet some of the war's most fervent supporters at the College Republican National Convention.

After College Ends, So Does Activism

By Adam Doster, In These Times
Posted on July 19, 2007, Printed on July 19, 2007

Jaime Nelson could make anyone feel lazy. Over the past four years, Nelson, an undergraduate activist at the University of Michigan, has led writing workshops with Michigan's incarcerated, organized voter registration drives to battle the anti-affirmative action ballot initiative in 2006, and united local immigrant rights and labor organizations through the Restaurant Workplace Project, a coalition that sought to expose the dangerous working conditions faced by undocumented employees of Ann Arbor's dining establishments.

She did this on top of a work schedule -- divorced from her political work -- that would make Horatio Alger squirm. As a supervisor at the university library, Nelson checked out books five nights a week until 2 a.m. Two summers ago, she took a job as one of only two women on a road-paving crew in her native Kalamazoo. When she worked as a full-time unpaid intern for the public defender's office in Washington D.C., she logged an additional 30 hours a week as a hotel attendant.

How Lost the War Is

By Peter Galbraith, The New York Review of Books and TomDispatch. Posted July 19, 2007.

Neither the President nor the war's intellectual architects are prepared to admit this. Nonetheless, the specter of defeat shapes their thinking in telling ways.

This essay appears in the August 16th, 2007 issue of the New York Review of Books and is posted here with the kind permission of the editors of that magazine.]


On May 30, the Coalition held a ceremony in the Kurdistan town of Erbil to mark its handover of security in Iraq's three Kurdish provinces from the Coalition to the Iraqi government. General Benjamin Mixon, the U.S. commander for northern Iraq, praised the Iraqi government for overseeing all aspects of the handover. And he drew attention to the "benchmark" now achieved: with the handover, he said, Iraqis now controlled security in seven of Iraq's eighteen provinces.

In fact, nothing was handed over. The only Coalition force in Kurdistan is the peshmerga, a disciplined army that fought alongside the Americans in the 2003 campaign to oust Saddam Hussein and is loyal to the Kurdistan government in Erbil. The peshmerga provided security in the three Kurdish provinces before the handover and after. The Iraqi army has not been on Kurdistan's territory since 1996 and is effectively prohibited from being there. Nor did the Iraqi flag fly at the ceremony. It is banned in Kurdistan.