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The Media / Paul: Fox News is 'scared of me'
« on: December 29, 2007, 08:09:15 PM »
Paul: Fox News is 'scared of me'

PLAISTOW, N.H. -- Ron Paul said the decision to exclude him from a debate on Fox News Sunday the weekend before the New Hampshire Primary is proof that the network "is scared" of him.

"They are scared of me and don't want my message to get out, but it will," Paul said in an interview at a diner here. "They are propagandists for this war and I challenge them on the notion that they are conservative."

Paul's staff said they are beginning to plan a rally that will take place at the same time the 90-minute debate will air on television. It will be taped at Saint Anselm College in Goffstown.

"They will not win this skirmish," he promised.

The Fox debate occurs less than 24 hours after two back to back Republican and Democratic debates on the same campus sponsored by ABC News, WMUR-TV and the social networking website Facebook.

Paul, the Republican Texas Congressman, was wrapping up his final day of campaigning in New Hampshire until the Iowa Caucuses on Thursday.

He spent much of the day campaigning at diners in Manchester and Plaistow and downtown walks in Derry and Exeter.

Music, Movies, TV, Art / Sometimes Always
« on: December 28, 2007, 02:32:52 PM »
A great band and song.. pick a version 

Jesus and Mary Chain & Hope Sandoval - Sometimes Always - Studio

Jesus and Mary Chain & Hope Sandoval - Sometimes Always - Live

Election 2008 / Candidates on executive power: a full spectrum
« on: December 27, 2007, 05:18:23 PM »
The responses to this Boston Globe questionaire to the candidates is important in how the next president keeps / extends the executive power established by Cheney/Bush, or come back to a system of checks and balances.   I think Obama, an ex-constitutional law professor, gets it right.  Several republicans sound like Cheney, indeed treat the issue with contempt.

Candidates on executive power: a full spectrum

WASHINGTON - Republican John McCain says that if he is elected president, he would consider himself bound to obey treaties because they are "the law of the land." But Mitt Romney says he would consider himself free to bypass treaties if they "impinge" on his powers as commander in chief.

..Democrat Hillary Clinton says "in very rare instances," she might attach a so-called signing statement to a bill reserving a right to bypass "provisions that contradict the Constitution." But Bill Richardson says if a president thinks that parts of a bill are unconstitutional, then "he should veto it," not issue a signing statement.

These contrasts are found in the answers to a Globe survey of the presidential candidates about the limits of executive power. The study is the most comprehensive effort to date to get the candidates to declare in specific terms what checks and balances they would respect, and whether they would reverse the Bush administration's legacy of expanded presidential powers.

"These are essential questions that all the candidates should answer," said Illinois Senator Barack Obama in responding to the survey. "The American people need to know where we stand on these issues before they entrust us with this responsibility - particularly at a time when our laws, our traditions, and our Constitution have been repeatedly challenged by this administration."

Bush has bypassed laws and treaties that he said infringed on his wartime powers, expanded his right to keep information secret from Congress and the courts, centralized greater control over the government in the White House, imprisoned US citizens without charges, and used signing statements to challenge more laws than all predecessors combined.

Legal specialists say decisions by the next president - either to keep using the expanded powers Bush and Cheney developed, or to abandon their legal and political precedents - will help determine whether a stronger presidency becomes permanent.

"The sleeper issue in this campaign involves the proper scope of executive power," said Richard Epstein, a University of Chicago law professor.

Six Democrats and three Republicans provided answers to the Globe survey. Three GOP candidates did not respond to the survey: Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, and former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson.

The Giuliani campaign instead provided a general statement by its top legal adviser, former Bush administration solicitor general Ted Olson. He said that a president "must be free to defend the nation," but provided no specific details about what limits, if any, Giuliani believes he would have to obey as president - in national security or otherwise.

Of the nine candidates who answered, Romney expressed the most positive view of Bush's approach to presidential power.

"The Bush administration has kept the American people safe since 9/11," Romney said. "The administration's strong view on executive power may well have contributed to that fact."

There were some differences among the Democrats. For example, Clinton, a veteran of congressional investigations of her husband's administration during the 1990's, embraced a stronger view of a president's power to use executive privilege to keep information secret from Congress than some rivals.

full story

Music, Movies, TV, Art / The best lyrics
« on: December 26, 2007, 09:02:08 AM »
I can't believe it!  Roxy Music wins again!   ;D

This to me is the ultimate love song.   That last refrain is the most memorable for me

Roxy Music - Beauty Queen - 1972

Valerie please believe
It never could work out
The time to make plans
Has passed, faded away
Oooh the way you look
Makes my starry eyes shiver
Then I look away
Too much for one day
One thing we share
Is an ideal of beauty
Treasure so rare
That even devils might care
Your swimming-pool eyes
In sea breezes they flutter
The coconut tears
Heavy-lidded they shed
Swaying palms at your feet
You?re the pride of your street
While you worship the sun
Summer lover of fun
Gold number with neighbours
Who said that you?ll go far
Maybe someday be a star
A fast mover like you
And your dreams will all come true

All of my hope, and my inspiration
I drew from you
Our life?s pattern?s drawn in sand
But the winds could not erase
The memory of your face
Deep in the night
Plying very strange cargo
Our soul-ships pass by
Solo trips to the stars - in the sky
Gliding so far
That the eye cannot follow
Where do they go
We?ll never know

Food and Travel / Christmas Dinner
« on: December 24, 2007, 09:18:38 PM »
what's the traditional Christmas dinner in your family?     Being I grew up with my Italian-American grandparents, mine is lasagna.    Tonight, my wife made a very nice seafood lasagna.    Nice of her for carrying on my family's tradition.    for New Year's we will have her traditional Japanese meal, although it can't be quite the same as we are missing a lot of ingredients and expertise.

Food and Travel / Taking the train in suburban India
« on: December 19, 2007, 11:05:26 PM »
Small | Large

Taking the train in suburban India

In The News / Inside the CIA's notorious "black sites"
« on: December 15, 2007, 02:20:53 PM »
Inside the CIA's notorious "black sites"

A Yemeni man never charged by the U.S. details 19 months of brutality and psychological torture -- the first in-depth, first-person account from inside the secret U.S. prisons. A Salon exclusive.

Dec. 14, 2007 | WASHINGTON -- The CIA held Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah in several different cells when he was incarcerated in its network of secret prisons known as "black sites." But the small cells were all pretty similar, maybe 7 feet wide and 10 feet long. He was sometimes naked, and sometimes handcuffed for weeks at a time. In one cell his ankle was chained to a bolt in the floor. There was a small toilet. In another cell there was just a bucket. Video cameras recorded his every move. The lights always stayed on -- there was no day or night. A speaker blasted him with continuous white noise, or rap music, 24 hours a day.

The guards wore black masks and black clothes. They would not utter a word as they extracted Bashmilah from his cell for interrogation -- one of his few interactions with other human beings during his entire 19 months of imprisonment. Nobody told him where he was, or if he would ever be freed.

It was enough to drive anyone crazy. Bashmilah finally tried to slash his wrists with a small piece of metal, smearing the words "I am innocent" in blood on the walls of his cell. But the CIA patched him up.

So Bashmilah stopped eating. But after his weight dropped to 90 pounds, he was dragged into an interrogation room, where they rammed a tube down his nose and into his stomach. Liquid was pumped in. The CIA would not let him die.

On several occasions, when Bashmilah's state of mind deteriorated dangerously, the CIA also did something else: They placed him in the care of mental health professionals. Bashmilah believes these were trained psychologists or psychiatrists. "What they were trying to do was to give me a sort of uplifting and to assure me," Bashmilah said in a telephone interview, through an interpreter, speaking from his home country of Yemen. "One of the things they told me to do was to allow myself to cry, and to breathe."

Last June, Salon reported on the CIA's use of psychologists to aid with the interrogation of terrorist suspects. But the role of mental health professionals working at CIA black sites is a previously unknown twist in the chilling, Kafkaesque story of the agency's secret overseas prisons.


The nightmare started for him back in fall 2003. Bashmilah had traveled to Jordan from Indonesia, where he was living with his wife and working in the clothing business. He and his wife went to Jordan to meet Bashmilah's mother, who had also traveled there. The family hoped to arrange for heart surgery for Bashmilah's mother at a hospital in Amman. But before leaving Indonesia, Bashmilah had lost his passport and had received a replacement. Upon arrival in Jordan, Jordanian officials questioned his lack of stamps in the new one, and they grew suspicious when Bashmilah admitted he had visited Afghanistan in 2000. Bashmilah was taken into custody by Jordanian authorities on Oct. 21, 2003. He would not reappear again until he stepped out of a CIA plane in Yemen on May 5, 2005.

Bashmilah's apparent innocence was clearly lost on officials with Jordan's General Intelligence Department. After his arrest, the Jordanians brutally beat him, peppering him with questions about al-Qaida. He was forced to jog around in a yard until he collapsed. Officers hung him upside down with a leather strap and his hands tied. They beat the soles of his feet and his sides. They threatened to electrocute him with wires. The told him they would rape his wife and mother.

It was too much. Bashmilah signed a confession multiple pages long, but he was disoriented and afraid even to read it. "I felt sure it included things I did not say," he wrote in his declaration to the court delivered Friday. "I was willing to sign a hundred sheets so long as they would end the interrogation."

Democratic candidates score big with clergy, religious organizations

When it comes to campaign contributions, the 2008 presidential campaign keeps turning the conventional wisdom on its ear.

The political establishment assumes that two reliable allies of conservative Republican candidates are U.S. troops and American clergy. On the prior, we learned earlier in the fall that military donations are going heavily towards Barack Obama and Ron Paul, both of whom are staunch opponents of the president?s policy in Iraq.

And on the latter, clergy seem to be defying the conventional wisdom as well.

    Clergy and religious organizations contribute to political candidates, just like investment bankers or teachers or any other group. That clergy give doesn?t surprise, but how they?re giving does. [?]

    Thus far in the ?08 cycle, 56 percent of religious groups? and leaders? donations have gone to Democrats, and 43 percent to Republicans, compared with 52/47 in favor of Republicans in ?06 and 51/49 in favor of Democrats (!) in 2004. [?]

    You can only read so much into these numbers. After all, in the aggregate religious groups have backed the losers of the last two elections. But the partisan gap in contributions is wider now than it?s been since 1992.

In three of the last four cycles, clergy have backed Republicans in greater numbers than Democrats. The lone exception, 2004, was practically even.

But this year, clergy contributions are going to the Dems by a wide margin ? according to the data from the Center for Responsive Politics, 56% is the strongest percentage Dems have had with clergy donations in two decades.

As for the specific candidates receiving checks from the clergy, the race isn?t even close:

1. Barack Obama: $110,000

2. Mitt Romney: $39,000

3. Mike Huckabee: $23,000

Obviously, as the figures show, clergy aren?t going to compete with oil company executives any time soon when it comes to bundling and/or hosting lucrative fundraisers.

The Prophet of Climate Change: James Lovelock

One of the most eminent scientists of our time says that global warming is irreversible ? and that more than 6 billion people will perish by the end of the century

In Lovelock's view, the scale of the catastrophe that awaits us will soon become obvious. By 2020, droughts and other extreme weather will be commonplace. By 2040, the Sahara will be moving into Europe, and Berlin will be as hot as Baghdad. Atlanta will end up a kudzu jungle. Phoenix will become uninhabitable, as will parts of Beijing (desert), Miami (rising seas) and London (floods). Food shortages will drive millions of people north, raising political tensions. "The Chinese have nowhere to go but up into Siberia," Lovelock says. "How will the Russians feel about that? I fear that war between Russia and China is probably inevitable." With hardship and mass migrations will come epidemics, which are likely to kill millions. By 2100, Lovelock believes, the Earth's population will be culled from today's 6.6 billion to as few as 500 million, with most of the survivors living in the far latitudes -- Canada, Iceland, Scandinavia, the Arctic Basin.

By the end of the century, according to Lovelock, global warming will cause temperate zones like North America and Europe to heat up by fourteen degrees Fahrenheit, nearly double the likeliest predictions of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations-sanctioned body that includes the world's top scientists. "Our future," Lovelock writes, "is like that of the passengers on a small pleasure boat sailing quietly above the Niagara Falls, not knowing that the engines are about to fail." And switching to energy-efficient light bulbs won't save us. To Lovelock, cutting greenhouse-gas pollution won't make much difference at this point, and much of what passes for sustainable development is little more than a scam to profit off disaster. "Green," he tells me, only half-joking, "is the color of mold and corruption."

If such predictions were coming from anyone else, you would laugh them off as the ravings of an old man projecting his own impending death onto the world around him. But Lovelock is not so easily dismissed. As an inventor, he created a device that helped detect the growing hole in the ozone layer and jump-start the environmental movement in the 1970s. And as a scientist, he introduced the revolutionary theory known as Gaia -- the idea that our entire planet is a kind of superorganism that is, in a sense, "alive." Once dismissed as New Age quackery, Lovelock's vision of a self-regulating Earth now underlies virtually all climate science. Lynn Margulis, a pioneering biologist at the University of Massachusetts, calls him "one of the most innovative and mischievous scientific minds of our time." Richard Branson, the British entrepreneur, credits Lovelock with inspiring him to pledge billions of dollars to fight global warming. "Jim is a brilliant scientist who has been right about many things in the past," Branson says. "If he's feeling gloomy about the future, it's important for mankind to pay attention."

Full Article on Rolling Stone

In The News / Man Held by C.I.A. Says He Was Tortured
« on: December 09, 2007, 11:08:06 AM »
WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 ? The first of the so-called high-value Guant?namo detainees to have seen a lawyer claims he was subjected to ?state-sanctioned torture? while in secret C.I.A. prisons, and he has asked for a court order barring the government from destroying evidence of his treatment.

The request, in a filing by his lawyers, was made on Nov. 29, before officials from the Central Intelligence Agency acknowledged that the agency had destroyed videotapes of interrogations of two operatives of Al Qaeda that current and former officials said included the use of harsh techniques.

Lawyers for the detainee, Majid Khan, a former Baltimore resident, released documents in his case on Friday. They claim he ?was subjected to an aggressive C.I.A. detention and interrogation program notable for its elaborate planning and ruthless application of torture? to numerous detainees.

The documents also suggest that Mr. Khan, 27, and other high-value detainees are now being held in a previously undisclosed area of the Guant?namo prison in Cuba he called Camp 7.

Those detainees include 14 men, some suspected of being former Qaeda officials, who President Bush acknowledged were held in a secret C.I.A. program. They were transferred to military custody at Guant?namo last year.

Asked about Mr. Khan?s assertions, Mark Mansfield, a C.I.A. spokesman, said, ?the United States does not conduct or condone torture.? He said a small number of ?hardened terrorists? had required what he called ?special methods of questioning? in what he called a lawful and carefully run program.

The documents were heavily redacted by government security officials, and none of Mr. Khan?s specific assertions of torture could be read. One entire page was blacked out.

Foreign Policy / Breaking: No War With Iran
« on: December 03, 2007, 04:57:41 PM »
U.S. Says Iran Ended Atomic Arms Work

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 ? A new assessment by American intelligence agencies concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains frozen, contradicting judgment two years ago that Tehran was working relentlessly toward building a nuclear bomb.

The conclusions of the new assessment are likely to reshape the final year of the Bush administration, which has made halting Iran?s nuclear program a cornerstone of its foreign policy.

The assessment, a National Intelligence Estimate that represents the consensus view of all 16 American spy agencies, states that Tehran is likely keeping its options open with respect to building a weapon, but that intelligence agencies ?do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons.?

Iran is continuing to produce enriched uranium, a program that the Tehran government has said is designed for civilian purposes. The new estimate says that enrichment program could still provide Iran with enough raw material to produce a nuclear weapon sometime by the middle of next decade, a timetable essentially unchanged from previous estimates.

But the new estimate declares with ?high confidence? that a military-run Iranian program intended to transform that raw material into a nuclear weapon has been shut down since 2003, and also says with high confidence that the halt ?was directed primarily in response to increasing international scrutiny and pressure.?

The estimate does not say when American intelligence agencies learned that the weapons program had been halted, but a statement issued by Donald Kerr, the principal director of national intelligence, said the document was being made public ?since our understanding of Iran?s capabilities has changed.?

Rather than painting Iran as a rogue, irrational nation determined to join the club of nations with the bomb, the estimate states Iran?s ?decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic and military costs.? The administration called new attention to the threat posed by Iran earlier this year when President Bush had suggested in October that a nuclear-armed Iran could lead to ?World War III? and Vice President Dick Cheney promised ?serious consequences? if the government in Tehran did not abandon its nuclear program.

Yet at the same time officials were airing these dire warnings about the Iranian threat, analysts at the Central Intelligence Agency were secretly concluding that Iran?s nuclear weapons work halted years ago and that international pressure on the Islamic regime in Tehran was working.

Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, portrayed the assessment as ?directly challenging some of this administration?s alarming rhetoric about the threat posed by Iran.? He said he hoped the administration ?appropriately adjusts its rhetoric and policy,? and called for a ?a diplomatic surge necessary to effectively address the challenges posed by Iran.?

In The News / Military seige puts end to hotel-lobby revolt
« on: November 30, 2007, 04:18:07 PM »
I'm really only posting this because I stayed at this hotel a few months ago.   For $100/night you get 5 stars, and now I know why the place feels like a military compound in terms of its security!

Military seige puts end to hotel-lobby revolt

A spectacular show of strength by the elite forces of the Philippine military ended a seven-hour attempted coup d??tat staged in the lobby of one of Manila?s top hotels yesterday.

About 30 heavily armed rebels, led by a senior Philippine politician, stormed and occupied the Peninsula Hotel around lunchtime, demanding the resignation of the nation?s increasingly reviled President, Gloria Arroyo.

Some Filipinos have become so unfazed by coup attempts that diners continued eating their lunch and guests at a wedding party slipped out of the hotel to continue their festivities at another hotel across the street.

The siege was abruptly broken in the evening when an armoured personnel carrier battered down the front doors of the hotel. Waves of Swat (special weapons and tactics) police officers poured into the marbled lobby, and, with the whole drama unfolding before dozens of television cameras, fired teargas into the building.

Despite its ferocity and weight of forces, the Swat raid did not immediately end the coup. Before the authorities could reach the renegades, their leaders, Senator Antonio Trillanes and Brigadier-General Danilo Lim, surrounded themselves with journalists and managed to hold an impromptu press conference. ?Dissent without action is consent,? said Mr Trillanes, who went on to criticise what he sees as the fatal corruption of the Arroyo administration. He later surrendered peacefully to the Manila police, the coup attempt ending without injuries.

Election 2008 / Giuliani billed NYC taxpayers for trips to mistress
« on: November 28, 2007, 06:50:43 PM »
Politico: Giuliani Hid Security Detail Payments for Mistress Visits

As New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani billed obscure city agencies for tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses amassed during the time when he was beginning an extramarital relationship with future wife Judith Nathan in the Hamptons, according to previously undisclosed government records.

The documents, obtained by Politico under New York?s Freedom of Information Law, show that the mayoral costs had nothing to do with the functions of the little-known city offices that defrayed his tabs, including agencies responsible for regulating loft apartments, aiding the disabled and providing lawyers for indigent defendants.

At the time, the mayor?s office refused to explain the accounting to city auditors, citing ?security.?

The Hamptons visits resulted in hotel, gas and other costs for Giuliani?s New York Police Department security detail.

General Discussion / Please welcome to planet earth
« on: November 28, 2007, 05:36:43 PM »
My second boy  8)

Food and Travel / Detroit!
« on: November 27, 2007, 07:53:23 PM »
I want to go to Detroit, bad!    Detroit is probably the most devastated of American cities - the city has done down hill, radically, during the past 40 years.   there are abandoned skyscrapers in the heart of downtown.     These buildings were built before the depression for the most part, many are beautiful, but, due to neglect, they are ruins. 

Take for example the Cadillac Hotel

and the Broder Tower - also abandoned

40 floors of abandoned luxury hotel.   Unbelievable!

Entire neighborhoods are in utter ruin, probably Baghdad is in better shape.   All kinds of history here, particularly automobile history.    The original Ford Model T plant is rotting away.   

Detroit lost half it's population since the 1950's.    Ironically, the automobile is largely at fault - the people moved from the city to the suburbs, the city has been largely abandoned.

Why go to Greece to see architecture ruins when we've got Detroit?

For more visit

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