Monday, May 31, 2010

Lucky Ducky in "Slick Deal"

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From the 1953 CIA Overthrow of Democracy in Iran, to the Iraq War, to the Criminal Gulf Catastrophe and Deaths, BP Was There

If you were to draw an oily line from the first exploitation of oil in the Middle East by the British in 1901 (they were in the process of converting their then world dominating naval fleet from coal to oil and were in desperate need of it) to the overthrow of the secular democratic leader in Iran, Mohammed Mossadeq, in 1953, to the Iraq War, to the criminal environmental catastrophe in the Gulf, BP would have been there.  

But the fourth largest company in the world wasn't always called BP.  It used to be owned by the British Government (remember the navy armada in need of oil). It was named the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company when the CIA teamed up with the British because the Western style Iranian leader Mossadeq wanted to nationalize Britain's 100% owned and run giant oil concession in Iran, and the West would have none of that.  So Eisenhower authorized "Operation Ajax," and the Shah of Iran was placed in power -- ruling with an iron fist and the dreaded SAVAK, all the time fully backed by the U.S. -- leading to the radical theocratic revolution that we still confront today.  All the time BP, which formally adopted its current name in 1954, was there.

BP was there throughout the de facto colonization of the Middle East to provide oil to the West, the British and the U.S. remaining strong partners in keeping any recalcitrant nations in line. Which leads to the Iraq War and why many Americans and Brits were puzzled by Tony Blair's eagerness to go along with Cheney's secret oil committee plan to seize Iraq oil fields and Bush's belief that the war was Biblically justified.  BP is the largest corporation in the UK and the third largest energy company. Do you have any more questions?

BP and its American counterparts are part of the corporate oligarchy that run governments when it comes to energy policy. They don't take orders from sovereign nations; they give them. They are unelected, but because of their hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue and profit, they run the show when it comes to oil policy, and profit comes first: forget about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Oil is their gold; we are just consumers who can be replaced at any time by more consumers, vassals to the oil company Masters of the Universe.  There is no brake on their malfeasance, greed and criminal behavior, nor their ability to get nations to go to war, overthrow democratically elected leaders, and to get away with pollution of proportions beyond the imagination.

For over a century, whenever American and British GIs have died for oil, whenever pollution and toxicity have been let loose to ravage our shores, whenever residents have died of cancer caused by the oil refining process and spills, whenever Congress and White Houses have loosened regulations to allow reckless and massively damaging behavior, BP was there, along with their American counterparts: companies so large that they are above the law and governmental control.

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Why is Israel afraid of a few boats?

By Yousef Munayyer

Hundreds of activists are on their way to the blockaded Gaza strip via a "flotilla" of boats carrying humanitarian and reconstruction supplies, which are badly lacking in the impoverished Palestinian territory.

Israel has promised to intercept the good-willed boats and arrest and deport the activists. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has exerted great effort in the past few days to convince onlookers to this confrontation on the high seas that the activists carrying humanitarian goods are terrorist sympathizers, and that everything is just fine and dandy in the Gaza Strip. The ministry has portrayed Israel (the country enforcing the blockade of Gaza's ports) as a benevolent victim, who despite the threat from Gaza's Hamas government is still caring for the civilian population.

There comes a point when an oppressive regime's propaganda crosses a threshold from mere lies to utter lunacy so extreme, in fact, that objective onlookers find it almost comical. This point came yesterday when the Government Press Office disseminated a link to a Gaza restaurant which appears to be luxurious. So what Israel is essentially saying is: "There you have it.  There is a website for a restaurant with cloth napkins in Gaza. How can there be any problems?"

The reality is, of course, that the situation in Gaza is very dire. A slew of reports from human rights organizations attest to the hardships faced by most Palestinians in Gaza. In the densely populated strip where 80 percent of the population are refugees, a similar percentage relies on international aid organizations for daily sustenance. That number was only ten percent a decade ago. That's how bad things have become. Malnutrition in children has reached ten percent and critical medicines are not available, according to the World Health Organization.

But no one is starving to death in Gaza--at least not suddenly. A tunnel industry has evolved and become the main supplier for most goods. That's all part of the plan. Israel seeks to squeeze the strip to the point of near catastrophe, bad enough to make people suffer, but just short of having to take responsibility for it. It's a form of torture kind of like water-boarding under the Bush administration: the objective is to bring the subject to the edge and break his will, but not kill him (lest they be charged with murder). But just because Gaza's civilian population has managed to keep its collective head above water doesn't mean things should be this way.

Like life in most prisons, if you "know a guy," anything is available for a price. Generators, for example, are in high demand because of the shortages of electricity. The shortages are due to the destruction of Gaza's only power plant in 2006 by Israeli jets. Since then, Israel has never permitted the full reconstruction of the power plant, forcing perpetual dependence of Gaza on Israel and Egypt, who take an eye-dropper approach to supplying Gaza with electricity. But even though generators smuggled through Gaza's tunnels provide some light, there is also a dark and often unheard downside that comes with them: explosions and fires. Several reports in the past few years of civilians being killed or maimed from overworked and exploding generators have become common. These are just some of the siege-related causalities we do not hear about.

The 10,000 tons of supplies aboard the Gaza aid ships are a drop in the bucket for what Gaza really needs. Israel's spokesmen have pointed out that they have permitted the entry of supplies in the past and argued that the aid boats are unnecessary. The reality is that aid which Israel does permit into Gaza is purchased by Palestinians, vetted and often rejected or held up for months. Israel has calculated the precise minimum necessary caloric intake for Palestinians in Gaza, and has often rejected things like pasta, lentils and coffee. So it's easy to understand why international humanitarian organizations and the activists aboard the aid boats are not about to trust the welfare of Gaza's civilians to Israel's benevolence.

The aid boats will have a far greater impact, however, than the 10,000 tons of aid they are bringing to Gaza. The aid boats compel us to have this discussion, a discussion that Israel desperately wants to avoid at a time when its international reputation has never been lower.

Hundreds of unarmed civilians carrying humanitarian aid are approaching a blockaded piece of land where 1.5 million civilians suffer from a life of uncertainty and despair, and Israel is going to stop them. While much of the focus on the Israeli-Palestinian issue has been on the settlements, the failed peace process and the long-awaited restart of talks about talks, Gaza has been forgotten. To their credit, the few hundred non-violent activists-turned-sailors have found a way to maximize their power as individuals to force one of the world's most powerful regimes into a corner. Whether the boats make it to Gaza or not, this is a tremendous victory for civil society in international affairs.

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Life Aboard an International Activist Ship

By Ann Wright

There is nothing easy about planning or conducting an international action, especially with moving parts called ships! Yet, activists on board keep their spirits afloat!

After delays caused by damaged propellers and broken steering mechanisms, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla now reduced to seven ships is heading for Gaza.

Yesterday, May 29, 2010, in a major confrontation, the Greek Cypriot government, under substantial pressure from the Israeli government, refused to allow members of the Irish and Scottish Parliament, and other dignitaries, board Challenger 1 that would bring them to the flotilla waiting some 50 miles from Cyprus. The group travelled to the Turkish Cypriot side of the island and boarded Challenger 1, whose steering had been repaired.

Despite delays and damaged ships, spirit on board the ships is high, particularly on board the Challenger 1 that arrived in the flotilla this morning at 1:30am carrying German members of Parliament, Belgians, Irish and UK citizens, some of whom have been on the three-day odyssey from Crete to Cyprus and now to the flotilla.

In the 36 hours I've been on board the 600-passenger Turkish ship, life has developed into a routine of sleeping, eating, watching the horizon. Virtually everyone is sleep-deprived. All of the passengers are activists in their home countries. They have been fundraising, speaking and traveling for months and years for the plight of the Palestinians. They are seldom without email, computers, mobile calls. Yet, on board the ship, there is only expensive satellite phone service, if you brought your own sat phone, and satellite internet service on the ship is only for journalists to file their stories about the flotilla.

So, for the first time in many months, very active people have extra time on their hands. Time for lengthy conversations with activists from the other 50 countries, time for interviews with the considerable media and time for a well-needed nap on the floor of the deck or in one of the passenger lounges.

The Mava Marmara is a day passenger ferry with no cabins or private areas. About ninety percent of the passengers come from Muslim countries, mostly Arab-Muslim, but substantial delegations from Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country and from Malaysia. In deference to cultural norms, one lounge has been turned into a women's only lounge, where women eat, sleep and hold conversations on humanitarian programs, religion and a variety of other topics, as women are wont to do. Women have free run of the ship and participate in all the activities of the ship, but do have a "refuge" from the activity of the ship.

Meals on board an activist ship rather than a cruise liner are basic, but very good. Hot tea and Nescafe are available 24 hours a day as is powdered soups. Breakfast is tomatoes, feta cheese, bread, honey. Lunch and dinner is from cans--the choices are beef and potatoes, beans and rice stuffed peppers. Apples and oranges are available during the day. Snacks of nuts, bread and muffins. Last night, we had our first hot meal. The IHH staff cooked a meal of grilled meat kabobs, with tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.

Conversations automatically turn to Gaza.

Those of us who have been in Gaza, particularly since the Israeli 22 day attack over one year and five months ago that killed 1440, wounded 5,000 and left 50,000 homeless, describe what we saw--the destroyed buildings, lives turned upside down and yet an incredible spirit of the Palestinians to survive the horrific effects of the Israeli attack and long term brutal effects of the three year siege that has made Gaza an "open-air prison."

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Israeli troops attack ship carrying aid to Gaza

Israeli warships have attacked at least one of the six ships carrying pro-Palestinian activists and aid for blockaded Gaza, killing at least two people and wounding 30, according to reports.

The al-Jazeera satellite channel reported by telephone from the Turkish ship leading the flotilla that Israeli navy forces fired at the ship and boarded it, wounding the captain. The Turkish NTV network also reported an Israeli takeover with gunfire, and at least two people were killed.

The al-Jazeera broadcast ended with a voice shouting in Hebrew, "Everybody shut up!"

The television network said two activists had been killed and some 50 wounded. Organisers of the aid convoy said they were no longer in contact with the boats. The Israeli military have refused to comment.

The reports came just after daybreak, with the flotilla still well away from the Gaza shore. Israel had declared it would not allow the ships to reach Gaza.

In Turkey, news of the interception prompted protestors to attempt to storm the Israeli consulate in Istanbul in retaliation.

On Sunday, Huwaida Arraf, one of the organisers, said the six-ship flotilla began the journey from international waters off the coast of Cyprus on Sunday afternoon after two days of delays. She said they expected to reach Gaza, about 250 miles away, on Monday afternoon, and that two more ships would follow in "a second wave."

The flotilla was "fully prepared for the different scenarios" that might arise, and organizers were hopeful that Israeli authorities would "do what's right" and not stop the convoy, she said.

"We fully intend to go to Gaza regardless of any intimidation or threats of violence against us," she said. "They are going to have to forcefully stop us."

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Protests erupt against Gaza aid raid

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Live Googlemap of flotilla to Israel


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Israel’s Disinformation Campaign Against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla

WAR ON YOU - Breaking News Without Corporate Views, Forum Message Board, Conspiracy Theories, Martial Law blog,

Israeli disinformation cannot hide the siege of Gaza.Israeli disinformation cannot hide the siege of Gaza.

For over four years, Israel has subjected the civilian population of Gaza to an increasingly severe blockade, resulting in a man-made humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions. Earlier this month, John Ging, the Director of Operations of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in Gaza, called upon the international community to break the siege on the Gaza Strip by sending ships loaded with humanitarian aid. This weekend, 9 civilian boats carrying 700 human rights workers from 40 countries and 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid will attempt to do just that: break through the Israel's illegal military blockade on the Gaza Strip in non-violent direct action. In response, the Israeli government has threatened to send out 'half' of its Naval forces to violently stop our flotilla, and they have engaged in a deceitful campaign of misinformation regarding our mission.

Israel claims that there is no ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Every international aid organization working in Gaza has documented this crisis in stark detail. Just released earlier this week, Amnesty International's Annual Human Rights Report stated that Israeli's siege on Gaza has "deepened the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Mass unemployment, extreme poverty, food insecurity and food price rises caused by shortages left four out of five Gazans dependent on humanitarian aid. The scope of the blockade and statements made by Israeli officials about its purpose showed that it was being imposed as a form of collective punishment of Gazans, a flagrant violation of international law."[1]

Israel claims that its blockade is directed simply at the Hamas government in Gaza, and is limited to so-called 'security' items. Yet When U.S. Senator John Kerry visited Gaza last year, he was shocked to discover that the Israeli blockade included staple food items such as lentils, macaroni and tomato paste.[2] Furthermore, Gisha, the Israeli Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, has documented numerous official Israeli government statements that the blockade is intended to put 'pressure' on Gaza's population, and collective punishment of civilians is an illegal act under international law.[3]

Israel claims that if we wish to send aid to Gaza, all we need do is go through 'official channels,' give the aid to them and they will deliver it. This statement is both ridiculous and offensive. Their blockade, their 'official channels,' is what is directly causing the humanitarian crisis in the first place.

According to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter: "Palestinians in Gaza are being actually 'starved to death,' receiving fewer calories per day than people in the poorest parts of Africa. This is an atrocity that is being perpetrated as punishment on the people in Gaza. It is a crime… an abomination that this is allowed to go on. Tragically, the international community at large ignores the cries for help, while the citizens of Gaza are treated more like animals than human beings."[4]

Israel claims that we refused to deliver a letter and package from POW Gilad Shalit's father. This is a blatant lie. We were first contacted by lawyers representing Shalit's family Wednesday evening, just hours before we were set to depart from Greece. Irish Senator Mark Daly (Kerry), one of 35 parliamentarians joining our flotilla, agreed to carry any letter and to attempt to deliver it to Shalit or, if that request was denied, deliver it to officials in the Hamas government. As of this writing, the lawyers have not responded to Sen. Daly, electing instead to attempt to smear us in the Israeli press.[5] We have always called for the release of all political prisoners in this conflict, including the 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners languishing in Israeli jails, among them hundreds of child prisoners.[6]

Most despicably of all, Israel claims that we are violating international law by sailing unarmed ships carrying humanitarian aid to a people desperately in need. These claims only demonstrate how degenerate the political discourse in Israel has become.


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Congressmen Propose Pre-Paid Phone Registration to Prevent Terrorism

Senators Chuck Schumer of New York and John Cornyn of Texas announced their proposed legislation Wednesday, mostly in response to reports that the Times Square bomber used one to prepare and coordinate his attack.

"While most Americans use pre-paid mobile devices lawfully, the anonymous nature of these devices gives too much cover to individuals looking to use them for deviant, dangerous means. It would be foolish to stand idly by while the risk remains that another terrorist or criminal could purchase a pre-paid phone leaving no paper trail," Cornyn said in a statement.

Pre-paid cell phones usually aren't registered under a particular name, so phone companies don't know who is using the phone. This provides an obvious advantage for criminals and terrorists. The new legislation would require pre-paid phone buyers to show identification and phone companies to keep a record of their information so that individual phones can be tracked to the owner.

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Top 10 New Species - 2010

species random images

Each year the IISE announces a list of the Top 10 New Species for the preceding calendar year. The Top 10 New Species described in 2009 are listed below with links to additional details about each species. 

If you would like to nominate a species for the 2011 Top 10 New Species please click here.

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US ends ‘war on drugs’

THE United States has "ended its war on drugs" and is now moving its focus to prevention and treatment, the US drugs chief has told top Irish drug officials.

President Barack Obama's drugs adviser Gil Kerlikowske held a series of meetings yesterday with Drugs Minister Pat Carey, Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy and Department of Justice secretary general Sean Aylward.

The former police chief said the US had formally ended its much heralded – and hugely expensive – "war on drugs".

"We've talked about a 'war on drugs' for 40 years, since President Nixon. I ended the war," said Mr Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

The Obama administration is increasing its budget for demand reduction by 6.5%, bringing it to $5.6 billion (€4.5bn). But the US is still spending $15.5bn on supply reduction.

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Best of Dennis Hopper

Apocalypse Now
True Romance
Blue Velvet
River's Edge
Easy Rider
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Friday, May 28, 2010

Latest tactic

© R J Matson
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Screw the Environment: BP and the Audacity of Corporate Greed

Even as BP's blown well a mile beneath the surface in the Gulf of Mexico continues to gush forth an estimated 70,000 barrels of oil a day into the sea, and the fragile wetlands along the Gulf begin to get coated with crude, which is also headed into the Gulf Stream for a trip past the Everglades and on up the East Coast, the company is demanding that Canada lift its tight rules for drilling in the icy Beaufort Sea portion of the Arctic Ocean.

In an incredible display of corporate arrogance, BP is claiming that a current safety requirement that undersea wells drilled during the newly ice-free summer must also include a side relief well, so as to have a preventive measure in place that could shut down a blown well, is "too expensive" and should be eliminated.

Yet clearly, if the US had had such a provision in place, the Deepwater Horizon blowout could have been shut down right almost immediately after it blew out, just by turning of a valve or two, and then sealing off the blown wellhead.

A relief well is "too expensive"?

The current Gulf blowout has already cost BP over half a billion dollars, according to the company's own information. That doesn't count the cost of mobilizing the Coast Guard, the Navy, and untold state and county resources, and it sure doesn't count the cost of the damage to the Gulf Coast economy, or the cost of restoration of damaged wetlands. We're talking at least $10s of billions, and maybe eventually $100s of billions. Weigh that against the cost of drilling a relief well, which BP claims will run about $100 million. The cost of such a well in the Arctic, where the sea is much shallower, would likely be a good deal less.

An oil spill under the ice would be impossible to stop or clean up.
An oil spill under the ice would be impossible to stop or clean up.

Such is the calculus of corruption. BP has paid $1.8 billion for drilling rights in Canada's sector of the Beaufort Sea, about 150 miles north of the Northwest Territories coastline, an area which global warming has freed of ice in summer months. and it wants to drill there as cheaply as possible. The problem is that a blowout like the one that struck the Deepwater Horizon, if it occurred near the middle or end of summer, would mean it would be impossible for the oil company to drill a relief well until the following summer, because the return of ice floes would make drilling impossible all winter. That would mean an undersea wild well would be left to spew its contents out under the ice for perhaps eight or nine months, where its ecological havoc would be incalculable.

         BP and other oil companies like Exxon/Mobil and Shell, which also have leases in Arctic Waters off Canada and the US, are actually trying to claim that the environmental risks of a spill in Arctic waters are less than in places like the Gulf of Mexico or the Eastern Seaboard, because the ice would "contain" any leaking oil, allowing it to be cleared away. The argument is laughable.

This is not like pouring a can of 10W-40 oil into an ice-fishing hole on a solidly frozen pond, where you could scoop it out again without its going anywhere. Unlike the surface of a frozen pond, Arctic sea ice is in constant motion, cracking and drifting in response to winds, tides and currents. Moreover, the blowout in the Gulf has taught us that much of the oil leaked into the sea doesn't even rise to the surface at all. It is cracked and emulsified by contact with the cold waters and stays submerged in the lower currents, wreaking its damage far from wellhead and recovery efforts.

Active oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico
Active oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico

Finally, as difficult a time as BP has had rounding up the necessary containment equipment and personnel in the current blowout 50 miles from the oil industry mecca of Texas and Louisiana, the same task would be far harder to accomplish in the remote reaches of the Beaufort, far above the Arctic Circle, where there aren't any roads, much less rail lines or airports.

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Throw the Top BP Executives and Its Two SubContractors in Federal Prison Until the Gulf Well is Capped and Damages Paid

Since the Supreme Court in January declared that "Corporate Personhood" is the law of the land, let's treat British Petroleum like a person and hold them accountable as we would any person for such devastating destruction to the people, land, environment and animals in American and Caribbean waters.

BuzzFlash, in the spirit of Jonathan Swift, offers a modest proposal that applies the concept of corporate personhood.  Simply put, the top 5 executives of British Petroleum, Transocean (the operator of the oil rig), and Halliburton (the Dick Cheney subcontractor who was handling things when the deep sea well blew) should all be incarcerated in a federal prison (and not the "camp" kind for white collar criminals) until such time as the volcanic oil well is 100% capped and sealed.  That's 15 (we assume white men) behind bars from the three corporations guilty of crimes against the people of the United States and the earth.  We think that might precipitate a capping of the well right quick. If not, let them mix with the hardcore felons until they rot.

But we think imprisoning the 15 officials from the three companies would result in a timely stopping of the horrific amounts of oil polluting the Gulf and eventually the Atlantic Ocean. They can't live without their Gucci shoes, Rolexes, and $3000 suits for but a day or two.

Then, when the oil stops spewing out, release the 15 executives -- and as soon as they exit the prison, arrest them again, and only allow them out of jail only when $150 billion is paid in full to the U.S. government for oil clean-up, compensation to those who have lost income or their livelihoods to the spill, long-term damage to the environment and housing, the death of untold creatures of the seas, birds and animals, and the damage to tourism.

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Louisiana needs its share of offshore oil revenue now, Mr. President: An editorial

By Editorial page staff, The Times-Picayune

Louisiana fought for decades to convince Congress that our state should get a share of the oil and gas wealth being mined off our shores. We're still waiting.

coast-oil-spill.JPGWe're being asked to hold our collective breath till 2017. That's when the revenue-sharing measure that was finally adopted in 2006 takes full effect.

Today President Obama has the chance to personally witness how millions of gallons of crude pouring from BP's sundered pipes are befouling the Gulf of Mexico and our fragile estuaries.

The nation benefits from the oil extracted by BP and others off our coast. But we are the state that bears the brunt of the oil industry's collateral damage. Thanks in large measure to the industry's crisscrossing pipeline canals, we're losing a football field of wetlands every 30 minutes and are more vulnerable than ever to hurricanes.

Twice in the past five years, Louisiana has been knocked to its knees by disasters rooted in the quest for oil.

Our bill has come due.

We can't wait till 2017 for the resources we need to save our imperiled coast. We and other oil-producing coastal states must start getting the 37.5 percent share of oil and gas royalties from new drilling in the Gulf now. Not seven years in the future. Not when it's too late and there's nothing left to save.

Sen. Mary Landrieu has introduced a bill that would speed up the timetable. It would cost the federal treasury $3 billion a year. It's the right and fair thing to do. The decision lies with Congress. President Obama should be our ally-in-chief in the battle to save Louisiana's coast. His administration should work tirelessly on behalf of this legislation. So far, he's been silent.

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‘McCarthyite’ provision in defense bill targets ACLU lawyers

By Muriel Kanetorture chair gitmo McCarthyite provision in defense bill targets ACLU lawyers

The defense appropriations bill currently moving through the House of Representatives includes a measure which directs the Defense Department's inspector general to investigate attorneys who may have "interfered with operations of the Department of Defense" while representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay and report back to Congress.

That measure has civil libertarians up in arms. Salon's Glenn Greenwald, for example, described the "truly vile provision" as a "McCarthyite attack on detainee lawyers" and identified it as "the brainchild of GOP Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida, who has labeled efforts to represent detainees ... a 'treacherous enterprise" and smeared those lawyers as 'disloyal.'"

According to ABC News, Rep. Miller "proposed the language to the bill because he was outraged by the allegations behind the Department of Justice investigation that is being led by U. S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. Miller said it's important to subject detainee defense lawyers to greater scrutiny in order to 'identify any policy violations,' that, he said, could compromise national security."

The allegations cited by Miller became public knowledge last March, when it was revealed that the Justice Department had secretly been investigating whether lawyers involved with the ACLU's John Adams Project had broken any laws in their attempts to to have detainees identify CIA interrogators who might have been involved in torture. When it appeared that the Justice Department was about to conclude that no crimes had been committed, the CIA complained and the department brought Fitzgerald in to resolve the dispute.

Since Fitzgerald's investigation remains ongoing, Miller's measure would seem to be intended primarily to drag the issue into the political arena and make it the subject of Congressional hearings during the period immediately prior to next fall's elections.

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Sacrificing Women to the Budget Gods

As states scramble to stay afloat — how are they balancing their budgets? On the backs of working women of course. The new big trend is to cut subsidies for child care. And with child care — poof – a critical lifeline to working moms is disappearing. The same states that cut welfare entitlements in the 90s, forcing moms out to work, are now cutting the subsidized child care that was promised in return for workfare.

While the Obama government has provided some aid to states to keep subsidies up, it is not nearly enough, and some states are just calling it quits. In California, Governor Schwarzennegger, whose respect for women is well known, recently proposed to eliminate the entire state welfare and child care program entirely, affecting 1.4 million people, two thirds children.

In some places, Head Start programs that have been in place for five decades, are competing for contributions from hedge funds and running street fairs. Many will have to charge tuition for the first time this September, exactly the opposite of the vision of the program.

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Normal human problems are turned into medical conditions, spiking healthcare costs
by Sherry Baker
Mainstream medicine has a huge new growth industry underway -- the "medicalization" of the human condition. That's the conclusion of a study headed by Brandeis University sociologist Peter Conrad that was just published in the journal Social Science and Medicine. The report, the first study of its kind, documents that over the last several decades, numerous common problems -- many of which are simply due to being human -- have been newly defined as medical disorders that supposedly need prescription drugs and other costly treatments.

For example, menopause is a perfectly natural part of womanhood but it is now considered a "condition" complete with symptoms that physicians often believe need treatment with hormones and anti-depressants. Likewise, normal pregnancies, taking longer-than-average time to get pregnant and impotence (now known by the medical term "erectile dysfunction") are all now seen as medical conditions that may need intense medical monitoring and treatment. And if a child fidgets in class -- bingo! He or she is frequently classified as having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and quickly placed on stimulant drugs like Ritalin
Conrad and his colleagues used national data to estimate the costs of these and other common conditions -- including anxiety and behavioral disorders; worries over body image; male pattern baldness; normal sadness; being overweight; difficulty in sleeping through the night and substance-related disorders. In order to document what role medicalizing these problems could be playing in escalating U.S. healthcare spending, the Brandeis research team evaluated current data showing just how much medical spending results from the diagnosing and treatment of these "conditions".

Their findings? The researchers concluded there is a strong and undeniable trend toward a medicalization of human conditions, with a constantly increasing number of medical diagnoses and treatments for behavioral problems and what the researchers called "normal life events".

When they analyzed payments to hospitals, pharmacies, doctors and other health care providers for medical treatments of these medicalized conditions, the researchers discovered that the costs accounted for $77.1 billion in medical spending in 2005. That amounts to almost 4 percent of the total U.S. healthcare expenditures.

"We spend more on these medicalized conditions than on cancer, heart disease, or public health," Conrad said in a statement to the press.
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Humans evolved to smoke pot!!!!!

evolutionary-chartA book has come to my attention which may be of importance to my brothers in the legalization movement.  The book suggests that over the eons of time, human beings evolved to be potheads.

Yes, you read that right.  Over the eons of history, throughout our many different evolutions and changes to make us more suitable for survival in this cruel and harsh world, and one of them was that our bodies (especially our brains) have evolved to more efficiently receive the effects of using (be it through smoke or ingestion) marijuana. 

the-botany-of-desire-375x500In The Botany of Desire, the author Michael Pollan explains how the human brain has evolved to experience the marijuana's high.  According to Pollan, much like the brain is "pre-wired" to receive the chemicals of endorphins and serotonin, so too is it prewired to receive the cannaboids (chemicals, including the high inducing THC, found in marijuana).  Pollan claims that there are "Cannaboid receptors" located all over the body allowing the whole body to experience the 'high" usage of marijuana produces.

But why take my words for it...

pollan_highres2In 1988, Allyn Howlett, a researcher at the St. Louis University Medical School, discovered a specific receptor for THC in the brain -- a type of nerve cell that THC binds to like a molecular key in a lock, causing it to activate. Receptor cells form part of a neuronal network; the brain systems involving dopamine, serotonin and the endorphins are three such networks. When a cell in a network is activated by its chemical key, it responds by doing a variety of things: sending a chemical signal to other cells, switching a gene on or off, or becoming more or less active. Depending on the network involved, this process can trigger cognitive, behavioral or psychological changes. Howlett's discovery pointed to the existence of a new network in the brain.

The cannabinoid receptors Howlett found showed up in vast numbers all over the brain (as well as in the immune and reproductive systems) though they were clustered in regions responsible for the mental processes that marijuana is known to alter: the cerebral cortex (the locus of higher-order thought), the hippocampus (memory), the basal ganglia (movement), and the amygdala (emotions). Curiously, the one neurological address where cannabinoid receptors didn't show up was in the brain stem, which regulates involuntary functions such as circulation and respiration. This might explain the remarkably low toxicity of cannabis and the fact that no one is known to have ever died from an overdose.

On the assumption that the human brain would not have evolved a special structure for the express purpose of getting itself high on marijuana, researchers hypothesized that the brain must manufacture its own THC-like chemical for some as-yet-unknown purpose. ... In 1992, some thirty years after his discovery of THC, Raphael Mechoulam (working with a collaborator, William Devane) found it: the brain's own endogenous cannabinoid. He named it "anandamide," from the Sanskrit word for "inner bliss."

**excerpt taken from The Botany of Desire

Wow...Take that DARE...

Human beings are literally born to smoke pot...

Read more about Humans evolved to smoke pot!!!!! by

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Brad Pitt eyes 2016 presidential bid?

BEIJING, May 27 (Xinhuanet) -- Reports are rife that Brad Pitt is pondering a career in politics and to make a bid for the White House with Angelina Jolie by his side.
The Hollywood star will be turning his back to the dull acting and trying his hand at politics, but he will start with running for the Senate first, media reports said Thursday.
"There's not much left for him to do in Hollywood," a source close to Pitt says. "Brad will run for Senate and if all goes well will mount a bid to become President in 2016."
So what's on the top of Pitt's agenda? Legalizing marijuana. "He believes it would be the biggest moneymaker since the Internet," the source said.
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One of these things is not like the others

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Editorial cartoon for every week ever

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(The LA radio show that kick-started the '60's)
From an exclusive LA FREE PRESS interview with Bill McIntyre.
by Chili Mac
"Sure we got sponsors. Lots of companies want to sponsor Radio Free Oz. They're calling me! The problem is, can they take the comedy heat? Just because you're a sponsor doesn't mean that Peter Bergman won't make exquisite fun of you. That's what hip satire's all about. It's what got the Firesign Theatre fired off most of LA's finest rock stations – their integrity. When they see bullshit they destroy it with laughter. It's their thing. They can't help themselves. With Bergman and the Firesign nothing's sacred, not even themselves. I know. I was there. I saw the laugh-a-minute media carnage. And the good ole LAFreep was there every bazaar existential step of the way."
              Bill McIntyre was there. He produced the Firesign Theatre's two '70's national radio syndications DEAR FRIENDS and LET'S EAT. On one particular LA night, in March of 1972, he produced the National Surrealist Light People's Party convention to elect George Papoon for President. This staged put-on became the Firesign Theater album MARTIAN SPACE PARTY. AKA NOT INSANE!
McIntyre: This unknown guy who called himself George Papoon wore a brown paper bag over his head with two little round eye holes, campaigning for the presidency. The Firesign did a bit about him on a Dear Friends show and suddenly Papoon was popping up everywhere at once, all over the country, giving stump speeches for President with the brown bag over his head. The gag had caught on nationwide.  So, naturally, the Firesign had to host Papoon's national political convention at KPFK. Where else?"
              The convention and stage show was recorded live by Columbia Records for the album, filmed by Steve Gillmor, and networked live by McIntyre to Pacifica Stations from Portland to Houston. All this evolved out of Peter Bergman's Radio Free Oz broadcasts with the Firesign from KPFK six years before in 1966.
McIntyre: So, now, out of the blue, Pete calls me and asks if I want to produce Radio Free Oz. He's just moved up to an island on Puget Sound where Ossman and Austin are residing. And, he's found a pier with a funky FM radio station on it .  'It's time for Oz again Mac – it's time'. 
              On Radio Free Oz, Bergman gave voice to the closeted LA Beats and Hipsters and budding Sunset Strip Hippies turning on to Pot and LSD; while he turned them on to San Francisco Rock, Delta Blues, Jazz, Funk, Folk, Alan Watts, Aldus Huxley foreign films; all things Hip - and Phil Austin, David Ossman and Phil Proctor, who, along with Bergman, became the infamously renown FIRESIGN THEATRE. Bergman coined the phrase 'Love-In and, on Radio Free Oz, invited all of LA to the very first; a sunrise to sundown affair, in March 1967, which he hosted in Elysian Park. It was just over the hill from the Dodgers ball park. Twenty thousand amazed Angelinos rolled into the big grassy meadow, out of the morning mist, astonished to find so many kindred soul mates of the stoned and psychedelic secret society.
McIntyre: The LA Times, the radio and the TV stations lied about the crowd size trying to play it down to please the media zombies paying their checks. But, Art Kunkin published a big front page shot of the sea of freaky people, in the FREEP, and once again busted establishment media big time. Kunkin single-mindedly sparked the free press movement in this country.
The principles of that movement continue to this day - here at the LAFreep, now with Steven M. Finger as its Publisher, and at the hundreds of other 'alternative' newspapers that began from its inspiration.  In fact, via and because of the 'net, the movement grows daily, ever bigger as an even larger 'establishment' tries again and again to hide its true motives.
Bergman's speech from the make shift bandstand where Jefferson Airplane had just blown the crowd away, was a personal confession of the loneliness one feels in such emotionally dicey times. He, like all twenty thousand awed faces shining back, had shared the misgivings of living revolutionary visions with only the weapons of love to defy the darkness.
McIntyre: And I agreed with Pete. It is time. The shit's coming down all over the place and nobody with a brain can honestly say revolution's not in the air. Just like the sixties. If fun-house surreal satire is ever a necessity of life, it's in times like the ones were headed into.
              Radio Free Oz is back, this time worldwide on the digital commons at The pier radio station turned out to be the Harbor Master's office with a non-stop ship to shore radio. A hunt for a quieter studio turned up Blue Ewe Studio, built and run by Islander David Malony.
McIntyre: Blue Ewe is impossible. It can't be there nestled in the forest, but it is. And, it's log-cabin, state-of-the-art recording heaven. It's putting out the best audio on the web. Bergman's on with a new show every day. Dave Ossman is co-hosting and Austin and Proctor are doing their typically hilarious guest shots. We've only done twenty-some shows and we're number ten on Pod-cast Alley, which I'd never even heard of, and, number eighteen, overall, out of eighty thousand Pod-casters. With those numbers, somewhere out there is a sponsor or two who has a sense of humor and wants to be part of the smartest comedy there is - if they can stop laughing long enough to make the deal.
              McIntyre is producing two of the Firesign Theatre's June concerts, along with Mo Weston who is producing the rest. They start in Portland June 11 & 12, then June 13 in Eugene Oregon. On June 25 they play Southern Oregon University in Ashland, and on the 26th Redding's historically-restored Cascade Theater.
McIntyre: It's still amazing to see how bright, and far flung the Oz Firesign audience is. They're in their fifties and sixties now for the most part, educated and affluent, though some are thirty and forty something's, like Richard Metzger's gang of Dangerous Minds. You can see the love and admiration and thanks on their faces for the laughter that got them through it back in the day. And now, just when you thought it was starting to get way too serious and scary again, you've got Peter Bergman and Oz in your ears. Pete's motto for the show is right on. 'We're all going to get through this together'... And we are.
This is the first in a series of articles on Radio Free Oz and The Firesign Theatre and their long association with The LA FREE PRESS.
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Topanga Days

Country Fair "One Canyon One World"
May 29th, 30th & 31st 2010!
"Memorial Day Weekend"
10AM till 7PM Daily
Fine Arts & Crafts
Corral Stage
Canyon Underground

Kids Zone
Art Walk

Food & Drink
Healing Arts

Free Shuttle
Please, No Dogs or Animals!

Located at
1440 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd.
in Topanga Canyon
Telephone: 310-455-1980  
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"Statism" and the Ayn Rand Cult

by Dave Johnson

Count how many times the word "statist" appears in this weird op-ed in the Washington Post: America's new culture war: Free enterprise vs. government control.

"Statism" has become a cult-word, used most frequently by people who are in the Ayn Rand cult. "Collectivist" is another. The Rand cult has been around quite a while now. Alan Greenspan actually lived with the Rand cult for a while. Randians are more and more becoming the core of the conservative movement, as this op-ed reflects. Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, members of Congress and others are more and more frequently using strange-sounding Randian cult-words like these.

I don't know if the author of the op-ed is a Randian, but he uses the word "statist" over and over and places free enterprise and government as an either-or. He thinks regulation of business is wrong. (Aside -- He writes that "government housing policy," not Wall Street, caused the economic crisis. (??) He's the head of the American Enterprise Institute.)

So now I am thinking about the Rand cult... Randians believe government is inherently bad -- evil actually -- and that helping others is wrong and immoral. "Collectivism" means democracy and this is also bad. They say it is the group imposing its will on individuals. From the Ayn Rand Lexicon,

"Democratic" in its original meaning [refers to] unlimited majority rule . . . a social system in which one's work, one's property, one's mind, and one's life are at the mercy of any gang that may muster the vote of a majority at any moment for any purpose.

[. . .] Democracy, in short, is a form of collectivism, which denies individual rights: the majority can do whatever it wants with no restrictions. In principle, the democratic government is all-powerful. Democracy is a totalitarian manifestation; it is not a form of freedom . . .

As for government,
The only proper functions of a government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law.

I don't understand how it is consistent for them to claim that protecting from criminals is legitimate. Doesn't society define what a criminal is?

Oh, and by the way, for any Christians who think they are conservatives, here is where they stand on religion:

Faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life: it is the negation of reason. ... They may have a good influence or proper principles to inculcate, but in a very contradictory context and, on a very—how should I say it?—dangerous or malevolent base: on the ground of faith.

[. . .] Christ ... according to the Christian mythology, he died on the cross not for his own sins but for the sins of the nonideal people. In other words, a man of perfect virtue was sacrificed for men who are vicious and who are expected or supposed to accept that sacrifice. If I were a Christian, nothing could make me more indignant than that: the notion of sacrificing the ideal to the nonideal, or virtue to vice. And it is in the name of that symbol that men are asked to sacrifice themselves for their inferiors. That is precisely how the symbolism is used.

And here you also find the roots of Glenn Beck's warning to run from any church that asks you to help others,
It's either-or. If capitalism's befuddled, guilt-ridden apologists do not know it, two fully consistent representatives of altruism do know it: Catholicism and communism.

Their rapprochement, therefore, is not astonishing. Their differences pertain only to the supernatural, but here, in reality, on earth, they have three cardinal elements in common: the same morality, altruism—the same goal, global rule by force—the same enemy, man's mind.

There is a precedent for their strategy. In the German election of 1933, the communists supported the Nazis, on the premise that they could fight each other for power later, but must first destroy their common enemy, capitalism. Today, Catholicism and communism may well cooperate, on the premise that they will fight each other for power later, but must first destroy their common enemy, the individual, by forcing mankind to unite to form one neck ready for one leash.

Go see what they think of charity, altruism, the environment, morality, society...
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The great American book that refutes Rand Paul


A book published nearly 50 years ago utterly destroys any distinction between private and public discrimination

Shortly after the volcano in Iceland polluted the skies over Europe, and while the British Petroleum oil spill contaminated the Gulf of Mexico, Rand Paul dumped the intellectual equivalent of toxic pollution into the world of public discourse by claiming that it was wrong for the Civil Right Act of 1964 to outlaw segregation in private facilities.

Had this come from former KKK leader David Duke it would not have been news, but it made headlines, coming as it did from the winner of the Kentucky Republican Senate primary, the son of libertarian cult hero Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and a tribune of the Tea Party movement. According to the younger Paul, "the hard part about believing in freedom" is that while it was all right for the 1964 Civil Rights Act to outlaw racial discrimination by public entities, it was tyrannical for the federal government to require businesses like restaurants, hotels and stores to serve non-white customers.

As a native of Texas, where white-only businesses were legal until the Civil Rights Act passed, where interracial marriage was illegal until the Supreme Court issued its holding in Loving v. Virginia in 1967, and where private racial discrimination in housing was legal until President Johnson pushed through one of his personal obsessions, the Fair Housing Act of 1968, I can suggest a book that Rand Paul and like-minded libertarians really ought to read: John Howard Griffin's "Black Like Me."

Griffin, a native of Dallas, was at different stages in his polymathic career a decorated combat veteran in World War II, a music teacher, a philosopher, a novelist and a convert to Catholicism. In 1959, with the help of a dermatologist in New Orleans, this white Southerner had his skin darkened so that he could try to understand what black people experienced in the segregated South.  Published in 1961, "Black Like Me" was the book that emerged from his journal entries. It became a best-seller and made Griffin (who was portrayed by James Whitmore in a 1964 movie adaptation) an international celebrity.

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Dems trim jobs bill to woo moderates

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) participate in a news conference on Capitol Hill on May 26, 2010. With time running out, Democrats made deep cuts from their $190 billion-plus jobs and economic relief bill Wednesday, hoping to win over nervous moderates and muster the votes for passage before Memorial Day.

More than $50 billion in multi-year spending appears to have been trimmed from the package, chiefly at the expense of physicians serving Medicare patients. Oil fees will grow even higher, playing off the political anger over the BP spill in the Gulf. And extended jobless and health benefits for the unemployed would sunset Nov. 30, a month earlier than previously planned. 

The House Rules Committee was called back into session Wednesday night to clear the way for floor votes Thursday. Having twice delayed action, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D—Cal.) knows she must move quickly if the Senate is to have time to act as well before the holiday recess. 

With labor weighing in more, the behind-the-scenes maneuvering took on the character of an old-fashioned brawl, matching union leaders against a fierce business-backed lobbying campaign to derail the bill and its tax reforms affecting multinational corporations. And more than ever this year, the debate captures the budget challenges facing Democrats, whipsawed by shaky markets, the European debt crisis and fears of a double-dip recession just months before November's elections. 

"Right now, jobs matter more than deficits," growled American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees President Gerald McEntee, taking a poke at "corporate CEOs who ship our jobs overseas and stick American taxpayers with the bill." 

"With the entire world focused on sovereign debt, it is not moving in the right direction," countered Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.). "I am highly skeptical." 

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Republicans' new Web site not exactly what they hoped it would be


Republicans want to take over the House in the fall, but there's a problem: They don't have an agenda.

So on Tuesday, they set out to resolve that shortcoming. They announced that they would solicit suggestions on the Internet, then have members of the public give the ideas a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down. Call it the "Dancing With the Stars" model of public policy.

Republicans were very pleased with their technological sophistication as they introduced the Web site, America Speaking Out a ceremony at the Newseum. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who created the program, said that to get software for the site, "I personally traveled to Washington state and discovered a Microsoft program that helped NASA map the moon."

Using lunar software is appropriate, because the early responses to the Republicans' request for ideas are pretty far out:

"End Child Labor Laws," suggests one helpful participant. "We coddle children too much. They need to spend their youth in the factories."

"How about if Congress actually do their job and VET or Usurper in Chief, Obama is NOT a Natural Born Citizen in any way," recommends another. "That fake so called birth certificate is useless."

"A 'teacher' told my child in class that dolphins were mammals and not fish!" a third complains. "And the same thing about whales! We need TRADITIONAL VALUES in all areas of education. If it swims in the water, it is a FISH. Period! End of Story."

House Republicans, meet the World Wide Web.

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