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Archive for December 19th, 2007

Italy’s poverty

Posted by Charles II on December 19, 2007

It’s not just Americans that have been squeezed by globalization. Flavia Krause-Jackson and Flavia Rotondi, Bloomberg:

Dressed in his best Sunday suit, Fausto Cepponi took his wife and seven-year-old son out for dinner -- at a soup kitchen.``I never thought I would be in this position,'' said Cepponi, 45, a security guard, dining in an 800-seat charity cafeteria near Rome's main train station. ``I have a job, I had a car, but everything has become so expensive and what I earn just isn't enough. I panic every third week of the month.'' ...

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Posted in international, poverty | 3 Comments »

GOP votes for pollution, hedge fund managers, rich tax cheats against middle class

Posted by Charles II on December 19, 2007

I wish one could phrase it differently, but that’s pretty accurate. Citizens for Tax Justice, one of the best organizations at deciphering the Washington game and making it intelligible to the rest of this says:

On Wednesday, December 12, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill, H.R. 4351, that would extend the exemptions that keep the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) from affecting most Americans and would replace the revenue the AMT is projected to otherwise collect. One provision would help replace the AMT revenue by restricting offshore tax avoidance schemes by wealthy individuals. Another provision would delay the implementation of an unnecessary tax break for multinational businesses which hasn’t even gone into effect yet.

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Posted in budget, BushCo malfeasance, taxes | 2 Comments »

Did the shredders overheat?

Posted by Charles II on December 19, 2007

Roger Runningen, Bloomberg:

Fire broke out today in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of workers.

About 110 firefighters and 50 pieces of equipment were sent to the scene as plumes of smoke poured out of windows in the midsection of the building. ...

The Old Executive Office Building's granite, slate and cast iron exterior is considered one of America's finest examples of the French Second Empire style.

It is now home to most workers assigned to the executive office of the president. Built between 1871 and 1888, the building housed the departments of State, War and Navy when the federal government was much smaller.

Why don’t the Busheviks just burn down the capital and be done with it?

Posted in Busheviks | 1 Comment »

How Horrific Was The CIA’s Taped Torturing Of People?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 19, 2007

The CIA managed to piss off an FBI agent over it (h/t Vyan):

The videotapes, made in 2002, showed the questioning of two high-level Qaeda detainees, including logistics chief Abu Zubaydah, whose interrogation at a secret cell in Thailand sparked an internal battle within the U.S. intelligence community after FBI agents angrily protested the aggressive methods that were used. In addition to waterboarding, Zubaydah was subjected to sleep deprivation and bombarded with blaring rock music by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. One agent was so offended he threatened to arrest the CIA interrogators, according to two former government officials directly familiar with the dispute.

The agent was right to be pissed. As has been known for a long time, torture isn’t only immoral, it’s ineffective — it produces bad information:

During his first month of captivity, Abu Zubaida described an al-Qaeda associate whose physical description matched that of Padilla, leading to Padilla’s arrest at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago in May 2002. A former CIA officer said in an interview that Abu Zubaida’s “disclosure of Padilla was accidental.” The officer added that Abu Zubaida “was talking about minor things and provided a small amount of information and a description of a person, just enough to identify him because he had just visited the U.S. Embassy” in Pakistan.

Other officials, including Bush, have said that during those early weeks — before the interrogation turned harsh — Abu Zubaida confirmed that Mohammed’s role as the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.

“They said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’ ” said Coleman, recalling accounts from FBI employees who were there. ” ‘This guy’s a Muslim. That’s not going to win his confidence. Are you trying to get information out of him or just belittle him?‘ ” Coleman helped lead the bureau’s efforts against Osama bin Laden for a decade, ending in 2004.

Posted in CIA, eedjits, evil, FBI, terrorism, torture | Comments Off on How Horrific Was The CIA’s Taped Torturing Of People?

Silver Lining For Renewable Energy

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 19, 2007

The renewable-energy industry may have been screwed yet again by Bush and GOP Congressional machinations, but they did get a consolation prize of sorts in the Farm Bill:

For the first time the Farm Bill includes a significant energy tax title. These tax credits will be used for development of cellulosic and other biofuels production, while also funding community wind development and installation of small residential wind energy systems in rural areas.

Also included in the bill are provisions for new energy technical assistance, larger loan guarantees, community wind incentives, and carveouts for small, replicable bioenergy projects and anerobic digesters as well as a biorefinery program to help defray the cost of cellulosic ethanol plants.

Cellulosic ethanol and anaerobic digesters are very good things to be promoting. So are solar and wind energy. Anything that provides power, reduces carbon dumping, and keeps effluent out of our rivers (and thus out of the Gulf of Mexico, which has a massive dead zone because of agricultural and other runoff) is a good thing.

Posted in climate change, economy, energy, environment, global warming, Good Causes, Good Things | Comments Off on Silver Lining For Renewable Energy

So Many Surprises

Posted by MEC on December 19, 2007

Recent news articles have just kilt me daid with astonishment. Who would have expected these developments?

Ohio’s computerized voting machines have serious security flaws:

All five voting systems used in Ohio, a state whose electoral votes narrowly swung two elections toward President Bush, have critical flaws that could undermine the integrity of the 2008 general election.

Bush is expanding his power grab:

The Bush administration is pushing to take control of the promotions of military lawyers, escalating a conflict over the independence of uniformed attorneys who have repeatedly raised objections to the White House’s policies toward prisoners in the war on terrorism.

Bush’s SEC is an arsonist in charge of the fire station: Its reporting and investigative systems are so flawed they’re virtually useless for policing insider trading, and nobody’s doing anything to make them more effective.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has undermined the department’s ethics policy:

Kempthorne secretly scaled back an ethics plan he announced last summer with great fanfare. The plan was widely seen as a response to a series of ethics violations at the department, including the conviction of former Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles, who was sentenced to 10 months in prison for lying to senators in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.

The ethnic cleansing of New Orleans proceeds apace:

Ever since it took over the public housing projects of New Orleans more than a decade ago, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has been itching to tear them down. Now, after years of lawsuits and delays, it looks as if the agency will finally get its Christmas wish. The New Orleans City Council is scheduled to vote on Thursday on whether to sign off on the demolitions of three projects. HUD already has its bulldozers in place, engines warm and ready to roll the next morning…. Neighborhood history is deemed irrelevant; the vague notion of a “fresh start” is invoked to justify erasing entire communities.

The Republican majority on the FCC has voted to abandon its responsibilities:

The Federal Communications Commission narrowly approved on Tuesday a loosening of media ownership restrictions in the 20 biggest U.S. cities, despite objections from consumer groups and a threat by some U.S. senators to revoke the action. The FCC voted 3-2, along party lines, to ease the 32-year-old ban on ownership of a newspaper and broadcast outlet in a single market.

America’s class division is widening:

The increase in incomes of the top one percent of Americans from 2003 to 2005 exceeded the total income of the poorest 20 percent of Americans, data in a new report by the Congressional Budget Office shows.

It’s 2007. Do you know where your democracy is?

Posted in abuse of power, BushCo malfeasance, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Telling Stories

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 19, 2007

Story Number One:

 WASHINGTON – U.S. military commanders in Iraq didn’t know Turkey was sending warplanes to bomb in northern Iraq until the planes had already crossed the border, said defense and diplomatic officials, who were angered about being left in the dark.

Americans have been providing Turkey with intelligence to go after Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq. And a “coordination center” has been set up in Ankara so Turks, Iraqis and Americans can share information, two officials said Tuesday.

But defense and diplomatic officials in Washington and Baghdad told The Associated Press that U.S. commanders in Iraq knew nothing about Sunday’s attack until it was already under way.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record.

Their comments follow complaints by Iraqi leaders Monday that Turkey hadn’t coordinated with Baghdad before sending bombers to strike targets of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.

It was left to the Americans to inform Iraqi government officials of Sunday’s incursion, one U.S. official said.

No problem occurred with a conflict in the air space, but might have as both military and commercial flights go through northern Iraq, the officials said.

U.S. diplomatic officials also expressed irritation that the Turks had not provided them or the Iraqis with advance notice of the operation and said they had made their displeasure clear.

Story Number Two:

The official U.S. line is that Washington did not approve Turkey’s Sunday air strike on Kurdish targets in northern Iraq. But the U.S. does control the skies over Iraq and the Pentagon did open airspace over Iraq for at least three hours to Turkish warplanes. It was also informed of the raids beforehand, according to an American spokesperson in Ankara. “By opening its airspace, America gave its approval to the operation,” Turkish General Yasar Buyukanit said. He also said U.S. intelligence provided targeting information for the attack. The U.S. may not have formally approved Sunday’s operation, but it did everything short of that. In fact, the raids “show a degree of tactical cooperation between the U.S. and Turkey that we have not seen since the beginning of the Iraq war,” according to Mark Parris, a former U.S.ambassador to Turkey now at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. Turkey sent another 300 troops across the border on Tuesday. Washington may see such raids as the best way to prevent tensions between Turkey and Iraq from spilling over into a broader conflict.

So where does the truth reside?

Posted in Bush, Bush Family Evil Empire, BushCo malfeasance, Busheviks, CIA, Conflict in the Middle East, Iraq war, Turkey | 6 Comments »

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