Friday, August 29, 2008

Palin: You're no Hillary Clinton

Van Jones

Van Jones

None of my pro-Hillary female friends are falling for this obvious GOP pander. To the contrary, McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his VP is drawing hoots of derision.

Once they learn that Sarah Palin opposes rape and incest exceptions for women seeking abortion, they completely write her off.

One female friend said: "Sarah Palin is to the movement for women's equality what Clarence Thomas is to civil rights. She's an extremist and an enemy to the cause that has been fought on her behalf.... Someone should stand up and say: 'I know Senator Clinton. Senator Clinton is a friend of mine. And Sarah Palin is no Hillary Rodham Clinton.'"

One female friend did some quick internet research and said, "Sarah Palin has a great deal of surface appeal, at first. But once America's women look behind that cheerleader smile and see at her extreme social agenda, they will run the other direction."

Another said, "McCain picked a fan, not an equal partner. She has no international experience. She was just fawning all over him. No independence. Given McCain's temper, Sarah Palin probably won't challenge John McCain on any substantive issues."

Then she added, with a laugh, "The only thing he is going to let her do in the White House is teach him how to use the internet."

Another said, "It just seems desperate and calculated."

She added, "Palin makes McCain look ancient, out-of-touch and totally yesterday. McCain makes her look like a perky kid. Each one dramatically and perfectly underscores the other's weakness. At least, nobody can criticize Obama's alleged youth and inexperience now. But this is not the best team America could produce, by any stretch."

John McCain has gone from maverick to "me too" -- trying to out-Democrat the Democrats and pick up some Hillary voters.

But it ain't working.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

FDIC may borrow money from Treasury: report

(Reuters) - Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC) might have to borrow money from the Treasury Department to see it through an expected wave of bank failures, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The borrowing could be needed to cover short-term cash-flow pressures caused by reimbursing depositors immediately after the failure of a bank, the paper said.

The borrowed money would be repaid once the assets of that failed bank are sold.

"I would not rule out the possibility that at some point we may need to tap into (short-term) lines of credit with the Treasury for working capital, not to cover our losses," Chairman Sheila Bair said in an interview with the paper.

Bair said such a scenario was unlikely in the "near term." With a rise in the number of troubled banks, the FDIC's Deposit Insurance Fund used to repay insured deposits at failed banks has been drained.

In a bid to replenish the $45.2 billion fund, Bair had said on Tuesday that the FDIC will consider a plan in October to raise the premium rates banks pay into the fund, a move that will further squeeze the industry.

The agency also plans to charge banks that engage in risky lending practices significantly higher premiums than other U.S. banks, Bair said.

The last time the FDIC had borrowed funds from the Treasury was at nearly the tail end of the savings-and-loan crisis in the early 1990s after thousands of banks were shuttered.

The fact that the agency is considering the option again, after the collapse of just nine banks this year, illustrates the concern among Washington regulators about the weakness of the U.S. banking system in the wake of the credit crisis, the Journal said.

(Reporting by Sweta Singh in Bangalore; Editing by Erica Billingham)

Halliburton sued for human trafficking

Twelve men recruited in Nepal died after forced transfer to Iraq, lawfirm says

Thirteen Nepali men were recruited and held against their will for thirteen months in a human trafficking scheme engineered and perpetrated by Halliburton and its Jordanian contractor, according to a lawsuit filed yesterday in California federal court.

The Nepali men, each between the ages of 18 and 27, were allegedly hired as kitchen staff by the then-Halliburton subsidiary KBR and its Jordanian subcontractor, Daoud & Partners. Once they arrived in Jordan, however, their passports were seized and they were dispatched to Iraq.

"Tragically, as the men were being transported to Iraq, a car containing twelve of the men was stopped by members of the Ansar al-Sunna Army, an insurgent group," the Washington lawfirm Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll writes. "The 12 men in the car were taken hostage and executed by the insurgents. The executions were filmed and posted on the Internet. The Inspector General for the United States Department of Defense investigated and confirmed the facts related to the fate of the 12 men, which led to increased enforcement of anti-trafficking measures by the United States."

Only one man survived. After he was released by Iraqi rebels, he said he was assigned to work as a loader/unloader in a US military warehouse facility supervised by KBR. He asserts that he was held for 15 months against his well, before the firm finally allowed him to return home to Nepal.

Cohen, Milstein is suing on behalf of their families and the remaining survivor, Buddi Prasad Gurung. According to the law firm, their families went deep into debt to pay recruiting fees to Halliburton's contractor in order to get promised jobs.

This spring, a judge at the Department of Labor ordered KBR's contractor, Daoud, to pay $1 million to the families of 11 of the victims. "The Inspector General for the United States Department of Defense investigated and confirmed the facts related to the fate of the 12 men, which led to increased enforcement of anti-trafficking measures by the United States," the lawfirm said in a release.

KBR declined to comment directly on the charges when contacted by the Washington Post Wednesday.

"KBR has not seen the lawsuit so it is premature for us to comment at this time," KBR spokeswoman Heather Browne wrote the Post in an e-mailed statement. "The safety and security of all employees and those the company serves remains KBR's top priority. The company in no way condones or tolerates unethical or illegal behavior."

KBR was spun off from Halliburton in a 2006 IPO, and formally disengaged from the company in 2007. The spinoff appears party as a result of negative press relating to allegations the company engaged in overbilling and got sweetheart deals. KBR had been Halliburton's engineering arm for 44 years, and was also accused of overbilling and sweetheart deals during the Vietnam War.

The family members and the survivor are suing under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and the Alien Tort Claims Act. The DC lawfirm representing them often focuses on victims of forced and slave labor and other violations of international law.

Democrats Should Skip a Party and Read the American Monetary Act

How are things going at the Democratic Party National Convention in Denver this week? Are they talking about the fact that the Western world is run by an international financial elite headquartered in London, the financial capitals of mainland Europe (such as Frankfurt, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Paris, and Milan), and, of course, New York City? Are they mentioning at their cocktail parties that the financial elite exert control over the world's population through the cartels that make up the world's producing economies and through the civilian and military bureaucracies who work for the governments that kow-tow to them?

Of course they know that the most important cartels are those which control energy resources. And that of these, the commodity of central importance is oil. But is any of this helping them draw conclusions regarding the doubling of oil prices during the last year or about the largest oil company profits in history? Also, they should be drawing the right conclusions from the fact that every private and pubic enterprise operates on the basis of a money economy, though it would be more accurate to call it a credit economy. This means that whomever controls the issuance of money and credit controls the world. And the world's monetary systems function on the basis of money and credit being introduced into circulation through loans from the banking system, loans for which interest is charged. So what should that tell them?

In fact, they should point out to each other and their TV viewers that the charging of interest for the use of money is a chain around the neck of everyone on earth. Further, that these cumulative interest charges are built into the price of every product that is manufactured or consumed. And that growth of debt means price increases, too. They should be honest in making it clear that the world is a master-slave society, that the slaves are those who borrow and pay interest, that the masters are those who collect the interest, and that this unjust system has existed in one form or another for thousands of years.

The candidates and delegates are talking about the aspirations of the American people and how everyone should have an opportunity to achieve their dreams. But if the United States were a free nation, they would also be talking about a financial system that destroys people's dreams. Unfortunately, the highest rung the candidates and delegates have been able to reach on the ladder of modern-day slavery is the need for more jobs-but they fail to note that jobs are not only the means by which people live, but also the instruments for them to pay the heavy burden of interest the masters of finance require.

What they won't say is that the world economy is based on usury, something religions used to consider a crime (and which Islam still does). Usury is the charging of interest for the use of money. As religions backed off from their prohibitions of interest, usury became just excess interest. But that's not what the word really means.

So what have over two centuries of usury done to the United States? The best answer ever given to that question was contained in a paper entitled "Revisiting U.S. Public and Private Debt" published in January 2005 by Dr. Bob Blain, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Southern Illinois University. The paper updated an earlier study by Dr. Blain published for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in the International Social Science Journal, November, 1987, Paris, pages 577-591.

In his paper, Dr. Blain examined the growth of total public and private debt in the U.S. Total debt includes "the debts of governments (federal, state, and local), corporations, farmers, home mortgages, and consumer, commercial, and financial debts." In his analysis, Dr. Blain began with data from the Bureau of Economic Analyses of the United States Department of Commerce which covered the years 1916-1976. After that year, the Bureau stopped publishing the data. The figures showed that from 1916-1976, total U.S. debt grew from $82 billion to $3,800 billion ($3.8 trillion). But most of that growth was during the last 21 years, from 1955-1976, when it began to grow exponentially.

Dr. Blain wrote, "The consistency of the pattern suggests that some imperative is at work, something that requires debt to increase."

Dr. Blain found the answer by researching American history. He wrote: "Then I read G.R. Taylor's 1950 book, Hamilton and the National Debt, which described the debate over Alexander Hamilton's plan to fund the new economy with borrowed money." He continued:

"The most revealing account was a speech by the first congressman from Georgia, James Jackson, on February 9, 1790, in which he predicted that adoption of Hamilton's funding plan would lead to the explosive growth of debt. Jackson said, 'Though our present debt be but a few millions, in the course of a single century it may be multiplied to an extent we dare not think of.'" (Annals of Congress, Vol. I, February 1790, pp. 1141-2)

From the very beginning, the U.S. had a monetary system based on borrowing and debt. First came the thousands of state chartered banks that began operating late in the Revolutionary War period and continued in one form or another until today. Then there were the two early central banks: the First Bank of the United States (1791-1811) and the Second Bank of the United States (1816-1836). Today's national banking system began during the Civil War with the National Banking Acts of 1863-64. Then there is the system we are living under today, the Federal Reserve, chartered by Congress in 1913. Even during the times when the government has sold its debt directly to the public, as with war bonds, savings bonds, and Treasury notes and bills, that, too, has been money borrowed at interest.

Although there have been times in history when money entered into circulation other than through debt, such as with coinage and the Civil War greenbacks, those were exceptions and today are of little importance. Dr. Blain estimated that from the time Alexander Hamilton placed the U.S. under a debt-based monetary system until today, the debt has compounded at 5.8 percent annually. The big problem with this system, he said, was "that no money was created to pay interest." He continued:

"Loans created only the principal. Interest had to be paid out of principal. So payment of interest reduced the money supply and slowed economic activity. Recovery could come only when new loans were taken out at least equal to interest paid. As long as the money supply of a nation is created as debt costing interest, debt must grow by compound interest."

From a longer-range view, it's a system that is constantly collapsing and that must constantly be bailed out. Dr. Blain next sought to update his figures past the 1976 data from the Bureau of Economic Analyses. Turning to the Federal Reserve's series on "Total Credit Market Debt Outstanding," he found remarkably similar indicators. Adding data from the Federal Reserve from 1945 to 2003 showed the "debt explosion" continuing. In 1945, total debt was $463.4 billion. In 2003 it was $44,967.7 billion ($45.0 trillion). When he projected the debt level for 2010, he arrived at a figure of $74.9 trillion. By this time the debt curve was climbing so steeply there would be almost a doubling of the amount of total debt in only nine years.

It might be argued that these figures do not take into account inflation. This is because lending at interest is the cause of inflation. The dollars still have to be repaid with interest. The problem occurs when economic growth, measured by GDP, does not keep up. Looking at the growth of GDP from 1945 to 2003, the increase was from $223.1 billion to $10,987.9 billion, a factor of 49. But the debt ($463.4 billion vs. $44,967.7 billion) grew by a factor of 97, almost twice the rate of GDP growth. Thus the total debt burden on the economy has doubled from a ratio of 2:1 to more than 4:1 (though it was much less than that during the early days of the nation).

But with continued compound growth of debt and a slow- or no-growth state of the economy as we head into a recession, we are starting to see what Dr. Blain called an "acceleration to meltdown." He wrote:

"We are buying more and more in the same amount of time. Witness the efforts of people to get rid of their excess through yard sales, storage units, and big trash pickup days, and the massive size of what are euphemistically called landfills. While two billion people in the world lack basics such as clean water, food, and shelter, Americans throw away their microwave ovens, televisions, computers, refrigerators, furniture, and cars. Meanwhile, acceleration is applauded as increasing productivity. It's like arguing that cancer is good because it grows."

These are the things the Democrats in Denver should be talking about, instead of going to so many parties. They should be making note that the U.S., to quote economists close to the Federal Reserve, is "functionally bankrupt." In fact, the debt this nation owes to the banks, to foreign creditors, and to each other can never be paid off. Further, one big reason for all of our fruitless military endeavors overseas may simply be to escape unpleasant economic realities at home. But this is pointless. Nothing creates more debt than war, as the bankers have always known.

The only solution is to adopt a monetary system that is not based on debt. Dr. Blain makes a couple of specific recommendations:

1) "Stop using percentage rates to calculate charges for the use of money"; and

2) "Congress must supply the economy with a money base that is debt-free and interest-free."

The second point is a call for a new monetary system, not one based solely on lending by the banks or on government borrowing. One organization that has developed a blueprint for such a system is the American Monetary Institute (AMI), headquartered in Chicago. The director of the AMI is Stephen Zarlenga, author of a massive, groundbreaking work: The Lost Science of Money (AMI, 2002). Zarlenga's assistant is Jamie Walton, a monetary reformer from New Zealand.

AMI will be holding its fourth annual conference in Chicago on September 25-28. Expected as keynote speaker is Congressman Dennis Kucinich, whose wife Elizabeth once worked as an intern at AMI. Dr. Bob Blain will be a featured speaker.

On the AMI website at is a remarkable document, the American Monetary Act. The product of several years of work by Zarlenga and his network, which now includes a number of local chapters around the country, the American Monetary Act would replace today's debt-based monetary system with one where the government spends or loans money directly into circulation. Under the Act, the Federal Reserve would be retained as a national financial clearinghouse but would no longer be a bank of issue. The system would be overseen by a Monetary Control Board within the U.S. Treasury Department.

The Act also includes a provision for a citizens' dividend, similar in some respects to the Alaska Permanent Fund, which would inject desperately needed purchasing power into the economy without additional government debt or taxation. Also promoting a citizens' dividend, by the way, is Stephen Shafarman in his important new book, Peaceful, Positive Revolution. (Tendril Press, 2008)

It's the American Monetary Act the candidates and delegates in Denver should skip one of their parties to read, because it's the only way any of their hopes for America can ever be realized. Says AMI's Jamie Walton:

"This is a crucial time. Things are happening. We have got some key media people talking and writing about our kind of reforms. The inertia is starting to yield. Things are starting to roll. The worsening conditions in 2009 will give us a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be heard above the propaganda."

Copyright 2008 by Richard C. Cook

Richard C. Cook is a former U.S. federal government analyst, whose career included service with the U.S. Civil Service Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, the Carter White House, NASA, and the U.S. Treasury Department. He is a contributor to the American Monetary Act. His articles on economics, politics, and space policy have appeared in numerous websites and print magazines. His book on monetary reform, entitled We Hold These Truths: The Hope of Monetary Reform, will soon be published by Tendril Press. He is the author of Challenger Revealed: An Insider's Account of How the Reagan Administration Caused the Greatest Tragedy of the Space Age, called by one reviewer, "the most important spaceflight book of the last twenty years." His website is Comments or requests to be added to his mailing list may be sent to

Kerry: 'Before he debates Obama, McCain should debate himself'

DENVER -- If there was one sound byte that contributed more than any other to his defeat in 2004, it was when John Kerry let slip that he "was for it before I was against it."

Four years later, the Massachusetts senator unveiled a blistering attack on John McCain trying to paint the Republican presidential candidate with the same flip-flopper brush that sunk his own campaign.

"I have known about been friends with John McCain now for 22 years, but every day now I learn something new about candidate McCain," he said.

"Let's compare Senator McCain to Candidate McCain," Kerry said, noting that on the campaign trail, the GOP nominee has voiced support for tax cuts he voted against in the senate, criticized an environmental bill he originally co-authored and said he wouldn't vote for an immigration bill he championed.

"Are you kidding me folks?" Kerry mocked. "Talk about being before it before you're against it."

Democrats have learned many lessons from Kerry's failed bid. In 2004, he waited too long to respond to Swift Boat attacks on his Vietnam War record, and the Democratic convention mostly lacked harsh attacks on President Bush and the Republicans.

Kerry criticized McCain, "who once railed against the smears of Karl Rove when he was a target," of now embracing those very same negative tactics in his campaign against Obama.

He said Americans were tired of such tactics and that Americans would not fall for them this time around.

The Massachusetts senator also rebutted criticisms of Obama's youth and status as a newcomer to national politics. The 47-year-old was virtually unknown outside of Chicago before his electrifying speech at the 2004 convention and election to the Senate that year.

"When we choose a Commander in Chief this November, we're electing judgement, character," he said. "Not years in the Senate or on this Earth."


Thank you so much. Four years ago, you gave me the honor of fighting our fight. I was proud to stand with you then, and I am proud to stand with you now, to help elect Barack Obama as President of the United States.

In 2004, we came so close to victory. We are even closer now, and let me tell you, this time we're going to win. Today, the call for change is more powerful than ever, and with more seats in Congress, with more people with more passion engaged in our politics, and with a President Obama, we stand on the brink of the greatest opportunity of our generation to move this country forward.

The stakes could not be higher, because we do know what a McCain administration would look like: just like the past, just like George Bush. And this country can't afford a third Bush term. Just think: John McCain voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time. Ninety percent of George Bush is just more than we can take.

Never in modern history has an administration squandered American power so recklessly. Never has strategy been so replaced by ideology. Never has extremism so crowded out common sense and fundamental American values. Never has short-term partisan politics so depleted the strength of America's bipartisan foreign policy.

George Bush, with John McCain at his side, promised to spread freedom but delivered the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time. They misread the threat and misled the country. Instead of freedom, it's Hamas, Hezbollah, the Taliban and dictators everywhere that are on the march. North Korea has more bombs, and Iran is defiantly chasing one.

Our mission is to restore America's influence and position in the world. We must use all the weapons in our arsenal, above all, our values. President Obama and Vice President Biden will shut down Guantanamo, respect the Constitution, and make clear once and for all, the United States of America does not torture, not now, not ever.

We must listen and lead by example because even a nation as powerful as the United States needs some friends in this world. We need a leader who understands all our security challenges, not just bombs and guns, but global warming, global terror and global AIDS. And Barack Obama understands there is no way for America to be secure until we create clean energy here at home, not with a little more oil in five, 10 or 20 years, but with an energy revolution starting right now.

I have known and been friends with John McCain for almost 22 years. But every day now I learn something new about candidate McCain. To those who still believe in the myth of a maverick instead of the reality of a politician, I say, let's compare Senator McCain to candidate McCain.

Candidate McCain now supports the wartime tax cuts that Senator McCain once denounced as immoral. Candidate McCain criticizes Senator McCain's own climate change bill. Candidate McCain says he would now vote against the immigration bill that Senator McCain wrote. Are you kidding? Talk about being for it before you're against it.

Let me tell you, before he ever debates Barack Obama, John McCain should finish the debate with himself. And what's more, Senator McCain, who once railed against the smears of Karl Rove when he was the target, has morphed into candidate McCain who is using the same "Rove" tactics and the same "Rove" staff to repeat the same old politics of fear and smear. Well, not this year, not this time. The Rove-McCain tactics are old and outworn, and America will reject them in 2008.

So remember, when we choose a commander-in-chief this November, we are electing judgment and character, not years in the Senate or years on this earth. Time and again, Barack Obama has seen farther, thought harder, and listened better. And time and again, Barack Obama has been proven right.

When John McCain stood on the deck of an aircraft carrier just three months after 9/11 and proclaimed, "Next up, Baghdad!", Barack Obama saw, even then, "an occupation of "undetermined length, undetermined cost, undetermined consequences" that would "only fan the flames of the Middle East." Well, guess what? Mission accomplished.

So who can we trust to keep America safe? When Barack Obama promised to honor the best traditions of both parties and talk to our enemies, John McCain scoffed. George Bush called it "the soft comfort of appeasement." But today, Bush's diplomats are doing exactly what Obama said: talking with Iran.

So who can we trust to keep America safe? When democracy rolled out of Russia, and the tanks rolled into Georgia, we saw John McCain respond immediately with the outdated thinking of the Cold War. Barack Obama responded like a statesman of the 21st century.

So who can we trust to keep America safe? When we called for a timetable to make Iraqis stand up for Iraq and bring our heroes home, John McCain called it "cut and run." But today, even President Bush has seen the light. He and Prime Minister Maliki agree on - guess what? - a timetable.

So who can we trust to keep America safe? The McCain-Bush Republicans have been wrong again and again and again. And they know they will lose on the issues. So, the candidate who once promised a "contest of ideas," now has nothing left but personal attacks. How insulting to suggest that those who question the mission, question the troops. How pathetic to suggest that those who question a failed policy doubt America itself. How desperate to tell the son of a single mother who chose community service over money and privilege that he doesn't put America first.

No one can question Barack Obama's patriotism. Like all of us, he was taught what it means to be an American by his family: his grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line in World War II, his grandfather who marched in Patton's army, and his great uncle who enlisted in the army right out of high school at the height of the war. And on a spring day in 1945, he helped liberate one of the concentration camps at Buchenwald.

Ladies and gentlemen, Barack Obama's uncle is here with us tonight. Please join me in saluting this American hero, Charlie Payne. Charlie, your nephew, Barack Obama, will end this politics of distortion and division. He will be a president who seeks not to perfect the lies of Swift boating, but to end them once and for all.

This election is a chance for America to tell the merchants of fear and division: you don't decide who loves this country; you don't decide who is a patriot; you don't decide whose service counts and whose doesn't.

Four years ago I said, and I say it again tonight, that the flag doesn't belong to any ideology. It doesn't belong to any political party. It is an enduring symbol of our nation, and it belongs to all the American people. After all, patriotism is not love of power or some cheap trick to win votes; patriotism is love of country.

Years ago when we protested a war, people would weigh in against us saying, "My country right or wrong." Our answer? Absolutely, my country right or wrong. When right, keep it right. When wrong, make it right. Sometimes loving your country demands you must tell the truth to power.

This is one of those times, and Barack Obama is telling those truths.

In closing, let me say, I will always remember how we stood together in 2004, not just in a campaign, but for a cause. Now again we stand together in the ranks, ready to fight. The choice is clear; our cause is just; and now is our time to make Barack Obama the next President of the United States.

Thank you.

The following video is portion of Senator Kerry's remarks before the Democratic Delegation in Denver on Wednesday, August 27, 2008.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Kucinich tells DNC: 'Wake up America!'

DENVER -- He might not have had the marquee billing of a Mark Warner or a Hillary Clinton, but Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) nonetheless whipped his party faithful into a frenzy Tuesday evening.

The Ohio lawmaker and liberal stalwart who earlier sought the Democratic presidential nomination delivered a passionate address calling on those in the audience here in Denver at watching at home to "wake up" and prevent another four years of Republican rule.

"Wake up America," Kucinich declared from the podium of the Democratic National Convention. "In 2001 the oil companies, the war contractors and the neocon-artists seized the economy and added $4 trillion of unproductive spending to the national debt. ... Trillions of dollars for an unnecessary war paid for with borrowed money."

Though he never mentioned GOP nominee John McCain by name, Kucinich's address was in line with Democrats' strategy to take a harsher tone of attack against the Arizona Republican and his party.

"We cannot afford another Republican administration," Kucinich said. "Wake up, America; the insurance companies took over health care. Wake up, America; the pharmaceutical companies took over drug pricing. Wake up, America; the speculators took over Wall Street. ... Wake up, America; we went into Iraq for oil."

Kucinich, a favorite of the party's liberal base who has led a push to impeach President Bush, enumerated some of the administration's most egregious abuses but said they would not dampen Democrats' spirits. As his speech crescendoed to its peak, the audience rose in boisterous applause.

"This administration can tap our phones -- but they can' t tamper our creative spirit," he said. "They can open our mail, but the can' t open economic opportunities. They can track our every move, but they lost track of the economy while the cost of food, gasoline, and electricity skyrockets. Now, they have skillfully played our post 9/11 fears, and they've allowed the few to profit at the expense of the many."

This video is from C-SPAN, broadcast August 26, 2008.

Friday, August 22, 2008

American Indian Tribe Legalizes Gay Nups

American Indian Tribe Legalizes Gay Nups

Some American Indians are using their sovereignty to progress past many of the United States:

The Coquille Indian Tribe has adopted a law that recognizes same-sex marriage.

Oregon voters amended the state constitution in 2004 to prohibit gay marriage. But as a federally recognized sovereign nation, the tribe is not bound by the Oregon Constitution.

The Coquilles are believed to be first tribe in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage.

This, of course, means little to those of us who are not members of the tribe, but it's still pretty cool.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

CNN's Jack Cafferty: Is McCain another Bush?

The McCain people aren't going to be happy about this. Cafferty eviscerates McCain. Talks about McCain's military record, his adultery, and more. McCain is going to blow a gasket - I'd love to see what private threats the campaign is making to CNN right about now...
It occurs to me that John McCain is as intellectually shallow as our current president. When asked what his Christian faith means to him, his answer was a one-liner. "It means I'm saved and forgiven." Great scholars have wrestled with the meaning of faith for centuries.....

One after another, McCain's answers were shallow, simplistic, and trite. He showed the same intellectual curiosity that George Bush has -- virtually none.

Where are John McCain's writings exploring the vexing moral issues of our time? Where are his position papers setting forth his careful consideration of foreign policy, the welfare state, education, America's moral responsibility in the world, etc., etc., etc.?

John McCain graduated 894th in a class of 899 at the Naval Academy at Annapolis. His father and grandfather were four star admirals in the Navy. Some have suggested that might have played a role in McCain being admitted. His academic record was awful. And it shows over and over again whenever McCain is called upon to think on his feet.

He no longer allows reporters unfettered access to him aboard the "Straight Talk Express" for a reason. He simply makes too many mistakes. Unless he's reciting talking points or reading from notes or a TelePrompTer, John McCain is lost. He can drop bon mots at a bowling alley or diner -- short glib responses that get a chuckle, but beyond that McCain gets in over his head very quickly.

I am sick and tired of the president of the United States embarrassing me. The world we live in is too complex to entrust it to someone else whose idea of intellectual curiosity and grasp of foreign policy issues is to tell us he can look into Vladimir Putin's eyes and see into his soul.

George Bush's record as a student, military man, businessman and leader of the free world is one of constant failure. And the part that troubles me most is he seems content with himself.

He will leave office with the country $10 trillion in debt, fighting two wars, our international reputation in shambles, our government cloaked in secrecy and suspicion that his entire presidency has been a litany of broken laws and promises, our citizens' faith in our own country ripped to shreds. Yet Bush goes bumbling along, grinning and spewing moronic one-liners, as though nobody understands what a colossal failure he has been.

I fear to the depth of my being that John McCain is just like him.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Memorial to victims of Nazis is vandalized in Berlin

by Reuters North American News Service

Vandals defile Berlin monument to Nazis' gay victims

Reuters North American News Service

Aug 18, 2008 10:47 EST

BERLIN, Aug 18 (Reuters) - German politicians expressed dismay on Monday at the desecration of a monument to tens of thousands of homosexuals persecuted under the Nazis which was opened less than three months ago in Berlin.

Police said they were looking for the unidentified perpetrators who at the weekend attacked the monument, a large grey cube located in the Tiergarten park in central Berlin.

The vandals had smashed a window in the monument through which viewers could see a picture of two men kissing and also ripped down some fencing. Police said it was unclear if the motive for the attack was political.

"This cowardly and shocking act is an attack on the image we have of ourselves as a tolerant and open city," said Frank Henkel, a senior lawmaker in the Berlin assembly and member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats.

"Obviously many people still have homophobic tendencies."

Greens politicians also condemned the attacks which they described as a warning sign that homophobia was still rampant in German society.

In May, Germany unveiled the monument to homosexuals persecuted in the 1930s and 1940s.

Some 50,000 gay men were convicted by Nazi courts during Adolf Hitler's 12-year dictatorship. Some gay men were castrated and thousands were sent to concentration camps.

"This attack is shocking, appalling. To see such a thing today after all the suffering and horror we had to go through, it is cruel," said Rudolf Brazda, who survived imprisonment at the Buchenwald concentration camp for being gay.

"People don't want to accept that there are people who are different from them by nature," he said in a statement issued by Germany's LSVD gay and lesbian association.

Openly gay Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit, who unveiled the monument, will take part in a vigil there later on Monday.

Nazi laws were used to prosecute homosexuals in Germany until 1969. (Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Michael Winfrey)

Monday, August 18, 2008

McCain fortune traced to organized crime

McCain fortune traced to organized crime
Mob figures later implicated in Arizona savings and loan scandal

Sen. John McCain

John McCain's personal fortune traces back to organized crime in Arizona, through his father-in-law, according to a report published by a multi-news agency team called Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc.

IRE reporters Amy Silverman and John Doherty, writing in the Phoenix New Times, note that the father of McCain's wife, James Hensley, was convicted by a federal jury in U.S. District Court of Arizona in March 1948 on seven counts of filing false liquor records. Hensley also was charged with conspiracy to hide from federal authorities the names of persons involved in a liquor industry racket with two companies he managed, United Sales Company in Phoenix and United Distributors in Tucson.

The umbrella company, United Liquor, at that time held a monopoly in Arizona, organized and managed by Kemper Marley, who was accused of mob ties by a reporter who was murdered in 1977.

Silverman and Doherty report that by 1955, Hensley had launched a Budweiser distributorship in Phoenix, "a franchise reportedly bestowed upon him by Marley, who was never indicted in the 1948 liquor-law-violatio

According to Marley's longtime public relations man, Al Lizanetz, the Marley liquor empire was founded by the Bronfman family dynasty of Canada which operated Allied Finance Company, Northern Export Company and Distillers Corporation – the Seagrams, Ltd. empire.

As chronicled by the "Rumrunners and Prohibition" video shown popularly on the History Channel, during the 1920s, the Bronfman family made millions in bootlegging, accounting for half the illegal liquor crossing the border, working in a profitable distribution deal with the infamous mobster Meyer Lansky, who later moved on to establish the crime syndicates in the casinos of Havana, Cuba, in the 1940s and 50s.

Arizona in the 1970s drew a "who's who" of organized crime figures seeking to retire in the sun, including Rochester, N.Y., mob boss Joe Bonanno, who spent his last days along the Lake Havasu shores and in a quiet home in Tucson.

In 1977, after Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles was killed when his car was blown up by the mob in a parking lot, a team of 36 journalists from 27 news organizations, known as IRE, published an 80,000 word 23-part series on organized crime in Arizona.

Dan Nowicki and Bill Muller, reporting in the Arizona Republic March 1, 2007, documented that in 1953, Hensley was again charged with falsifying records at Marley's liquor firms.

Hensley was found not guilty after being defended by William Rehnquist, the future chief justice of the Supreme Court, Nowicki and Muller wrote.

In 2000, Hensley, then 80 years old, still controlled the Budweiser distributorship valued as a $200 million-a-year business, with annual sales of more than 20 million cases of beer.

On Feb. 17, 2000, Pat Flannery reported in the Arizona Republic that Hensley's beer-distribution empire was the fifth largest in the nation, "a Budweiser franchise whose bigwigs hold the No. 2 spot on Sen. John McCain's all-time career list of corporate donors."

Since 1982, according to the Center for Public Integrity, Hensley & Co. officials have pumped $80,000 into the campaigns of McCain, Flannery wrote. More than a quarter of that has been donated since 1997.

Flannery further reported that in 2000, Cindy Hensley McCain, the senator's wife, held a 37.18 percent financial interest in her father's Budweiser distributorship, although she was not involved in day-to-day operations.

The McCain's four children held a combined 23.55 percent interest, though their interests were at that time held in trust.

Arizona crime connections again surfaced in the 1980s when McCain was implicated as one of the five U.S. senators named in the "Keating Five" scandal.

Charles Keating Jr. and his associates paid McCain some $112,000 in political campaign contributions between 1982 and 1987, while Keating was organizing a massive real estate fraud in the then FDIC federally insured Lincoln Savings and Loan Association.

In April 1986, McCain's wife and father-in-law also invested $359,000 in a Keating shopping center, before the savings and loan scandal broke.

Keating was sent to prison under civil racketeering and fraud charges for the $1.1 billion loss the investment scheme cost the public, although McCain and the other U.S. senators involved managed to avoid charges in the Senate, with McCain receiving only an Ethics Committee rebuke for exercising "poor judgment."

Even today, McCain's 2008 presidential campaign staff includes several prominent lobbyists, despite the senator's claim to be a campaign reform crusader whose goal is to take money out of politics.

WND previously reported McCain's 2000 and 2008 campaign manager Rick Davis took a six-figure salary as president of the Soros-funded Reform Institute in the intervening years and managed his own lobby firm of Davis, Manafort & Freeman in Alexandria, Va., operating at the same building in a suite down the hall from the Reform Institute.

In 2003 and 2004, Davis apparently solicited CSC Holdings, a subsidiary of the Cablevision Systems Corporation, headed by Charles F. Dolan, to make two separate $100,000 contributions to the Reform Institute.

In between the two separate $100,000 contributions Cablevision made to the Reform Institute, McCain, then chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, wrote a letter to the Federal Communications Commission supporting Cablevision's desire to continue packaging customer TV programming in a manner more profitable to Cablevision.

In this period of time, McCain worked with Vicki Iseman, a lobbyist representing telecommunications companies, including Cablevision.

WND also reported Davis arranged a 2006 meeting with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska in Davos, Switzerland, a close supporter of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

McCain repeatedly has voiced opposition to Putin, even calling on President Bush to suspend Russia's membership in the Group of Eight.

In 2007, the U.S. State Department cancelled Deripaska's visa over continuing concerns he remained connected with the Russian mafia.

Did McCain ad lift 'cross in the dirt' story from Russian novelist?

Senator John McCain (R-AZ), in a Christmas-themed December ad for his presidential campaign, told the following story:

"One night, after being mistreated as a POW, a guard loosened the ropes binding me, easing my pain. On Christmas, that same guard approached me, and without saying a word, he drew a cross in the sand. We stood, wordlessly, looking at the cross, remembering the true light of Christmas. I'll never forget that no matter where you are, no matter how difficult the circumstances, there will always be someone who will pick you up."

"It just sounded so fake and so contrived, so I did a little research about it," said DailyKos contributor rickrocket. The research revealed a similar story by recently departed novelist and McCain favorite Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, recounting his experience in a Soviet gulag in The Gulag Archipelago, released in the United States in 1973. Luke Veronis, in The Sign of the Cross, recounts:

"Along with other prisoners, he worked in the fields day after day, in rain and sun, during summer and winter. His life appeared to be nothing more than backbreaking labor and slow starvation. The intense suffering reduced him to a state of despair.

On one particular day, the hopelessness of his situation became too much for him. He saw no reason to continue his struggle, no reason to keep on living. His life made no difference in the world. So he gave up.

Leaving his shovel on the ground, he slowly walked to a crude bench and sat down. He knew that at any moment a guard would order him to stand up, and when he failed to respond, the guard would beat him to death, probably with his own shovel. He had seen it happen to other prisoners.

As he waited, head down, he felt a presence. Slowly he looked up and saw a skinny old prisoner squat down beside him. The man said nothing. Instead, he used a stick to trace in the dirt the sign of the Cross. The man then got back up and returned to his work.

As Solzhenitsyn stared at the Cross drawn in the dirt his entire perspective changed. He knew he was only one man against the all-powerful Soviet empire. Yet he knew there was something greater than the evil he saw in the prison camp, something greater than the Soviet Union. He knew that hope for all people was represented by that simple Cross. Through the power of the Cross, anything was possible.

Solzhenitsyn slowly rose to his feet, picked up his shovel, and went back to work. Outwardly, nothing had changed. Inside, he had received hope."

Senator McCain's ad, as posted to YouTube by his campaign on December 20, 2007, is embedded below.

Saturday, August 16, 2008



and believe the true author has not yet been identified

A new market research survey by Explorandum shows that 43% of the UK population do not believe that William Shakespeare wrote the plays usually attributed to him.

However none of the candidates proposed so far--Oxford, Bacon or Marlowe-- get much acceptance. More than any of those candidates, people believe that the true author has not yet been discovered. This is especially true in the Midlands—the area around Stratford-Upon-Avon, where 49% of the population do not believe that Mr. Shakespeare wrote the plays.

John Hudson, a supporter of the latest new candidate for the authorship of the plays—the Jewish poet Amelia Bassano Lanier (1569-1645) who was the first woman to publish a book of poetry—welcomed the survey. Having recently completed his thesis at the Shakespeare Institute putting forward Amelia as the author, he claimed she is the new candidate for whom people have been waiting. Her authorship was strongly supported by performances of the underlying Jewish allegories in two of the plays by the Dark Lady Players over 2007-8.

Hudson especially welcomed the survey finding that 89% of the UK population were prepared to accept that the plays were written by a woman or a non-white person. “Amelia was the so-called ‘dark lady’, from a Venetian, Jewish family of Moroccan ancestry” he said. “She was also mistress to the man in charge of the English theater. We have extremely good evidence she is the true author, including several of her literary signatures on the plays.” The latest research is being presented at the annual conference of the Shakespeare Oxford Society and the Shakespeare Fellowship in October 2008.

Explorandum is a UK research organization. The sample was selected from their online polling community. Quotas were set to ensure that the sample of over 2,000 people was structured to be representative of the UK population. Research director Nicky Perrott, was previously research director for MORI, and head of market research at Reuters.

The Dark Lady Players are an experimental Shakespeare company, which recently finished a production of the Jewish allegories in As You Like It at the New York Midtown International Theatre Festival

The Shakespeare Oxford Society will hold its annual conference in October 2008. John Hudson will deliver a talk titled ‘Why was Shakespeare so interested in the Roman-Jewish war?’ Details are at

Friday, August 15, 2008

US court rules Saudis not liable for Sept 11 attacks

US court rules Saudis not liable for Sept 11 attacks

A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled Saudi Arabia could not be held liable for the September 11 attacks against the United States despite charitable donations that ended up in the hands of Al-Qaeda.

Upholding a 2006 decision by a lower court, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled inadmissible a lawsuit in which families of victims of the 9/11 attacks charged that Saudi Arabia, four Saudi princes, a Saudi charity and bank had given material support to Al-Qaeda.

The plaintiffs in the case cited Saudi donations to Muslim charity groups that were later transferred to the Al-Qaeda terror network, arguing the Saudis were responsible for financing the 9/11 attacks.

The court in its ruling said the "Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976" granted the Saudi defendants immunity from prosecution on US soil.

It also ruled that a charity named in the suit, the Saudi High Commission for Relief to Bosnia and Herzegovina, was also immune under the same law as it was "an agency or instrumentality of the Kingdom."

Exceptions to the immunity provisions did not apply in the case, the court ruled, "because the Kingdom has not been designated a state sponsor of terrorism by the United States."

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

China Had "Cute" Girl Mime Opening Ceremony After Singer Banned For Crooked Teeth

China Had "Cute" Girl Mime Opening Ceremony After Singer Banned For Crooked Teeth

BEIJING — A 7-year-old Chinese girl was not good-looking enough for the Olympics opening ceremony, so another little girl with a pixie smile lip-synched "Ode to the Motherland," a ceremony official said _ the latest example of the lengths Beijing took for a perfect start to the Summer Games.

A member of China's Politburo asked for the last-minute change to match one girl's face with another's voice, the ceremony's chief music director, Chen Qigang, said in an interview with Beijing Radio.

"The audience will understand that it's in the national interest," Chen said in a video of the interview posted online Sunday night.

The news follows reports that some footage of the fireworks exploding across China's capital during the ceremony was digitally inserted into television coverage, apparently over concerns that not all of the 29 blasts could be captured on camera. China has been eager to present a flawless Olympics image to the world, shooing migrant workers and so-called petitioners who come to the central government with grievances from the city and shutting down any sign of protest.

The country's quest for perfection apparently includes its children.

Lin Miaoke's performance Friday night, like the ceremony itself, was an immediate hit. "Nine-year-old Lin Miaoke becomes instant star with patriotic song," the China Daily newspaper headline said Tuesday.


But the real voice behind the tiny, pigtailed girl in the red dress who wowed 91,000 spectators at the National Stadium on opening night really belonged to 7-year-old Yang Peiyi. Her looks apparently failed the cuteness test with officials organizing the ceremony, but Chen said her voice was judged the most beautiful.

China: Part of Beijing Olympic Fireworks Display Digitally Faked

China: Part of Beijing Olympic Fireworks Display Digitally Faked

By Samuel Spencer, Epoch Times Staff Aug 11, 2008 -

One of the key parts of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, watched by over an estimated 3 billion people around the world, was faked, a report in a Chinese newspaper has revealed.

A part of the ceremony broadcast on TV, which seemed to display giant footprints in the sky lit up by fireworks, were a computer animation that had been prepared for over a year.

The setup was so elaborate and well planned that even giant television screens inside the stadium broadcast the fake images.

The faked animation was revealed in The Beijing Times, in an interview with the head of the ceremony’s visual effects, Gao Xiaolong. Despite the subterferge, Gao said he was pleased with the results. “Most of the audience thought it was being shown live, so that was mission accomplished,” he said in the interview.

Gao said it had taken his team a year to create the 55-second sequence.

Gao revealed that it would have been impossible to film the footage live, given the smog and the weather, and would have involved carefully manoeuvering a helicopter to see all 29 footsteps in a row.

The team talked to the Beijing meteorological office so as to recreate the haze from Beijing’s night sky, and also inserted a camera-shake effect to make it appear as if it was filmed from a helicopter.

The dupe was made possible by the fact that it was done under the aegis of the Beijing Olympic Broadcasting, which controls and provides the main video feeds of all Olympics events to other channels, which in turn feed the video to all around the world. This includes NBC, which has the U.S. broadcasting contract.

- Original: The Epochtimes

Monday, August 11, 2008

World War 3 expands into Europe and awakens the Russian Bear:

World War 3 expands into Europe and awakens the Russian Bear: The next stage in the oil wars

Due to some technical difficulties there have been delays in presenting certain information in the wrap-up of politics and economics, so I’ve decided to skip a few specifics and go directly to two steps before the end.

Remembering History:
Usually there are disagreements as to the exact dates of beginnings of conflicts, especially when those conflicts are global.

Which act lit the spark on the tinderbox? Which straw was the final one? Like peak oil itself, the beginnings of war are often visible only in retrospect.”

For example, some would argue that World War II began in 1939 with the German invasion of Poland. Others would pick the 1931 Japanese invasion of Manchuria or maybe even the 1933 Reichstag Fire.

The only consensus regarding World War II is that it was devastating.

What is Happening at the Present:
True to the old proverb “If We Don't Learn Our History, We're Doomed to Repeat It” - As it was with World War II, so it appears with World War III.

Many, including George Bush, believe that 911 was the start of World War III. The nominees for this title are plentiful; Afghanistan, Iraq I, Iraq II, Syria, Jerusalem, etc..

The beginning of World War III could have also been triggered by the establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, or the opening of Iran’s Oil Bourse which is hastening the collapse of the US Petrodollar.

click to enlarge - source - 23 April 2008 data

There is also the belief that World War III maybe less so an attack on a certain country or a people as it is a war between corporate governments and their citizenry.

However, if you are still undecided as to the exact start date of World War III given the above choices, then how about picking 8 August 2008 when the war between Russia and Georgia began? This date will surely be considered by many historians to be the beginning of World War III since it means that the current wars in Africa and Asia have now spilled over into the European continent.

Why Russia and Georgia are at war:
There are many reasons why Russia and Georgia are at war, but as it was with Afghanistan and Iraq, oil and proposed oil and gas pipelines standout as the primary one.

click to enlarge - source

The reasons for such a war however are a moot point. What is important is who benefits from this, who is orchestrating it, and what will be the end result?

The first part is easy, the only benefactors of wars are corporations. As for the second part, according to Russian officials “it was the USA that orchestrated the current conflict”, while the Georgian Minister has personally thanked Israel for what is happening. And the third, the end result of such a conflict can only bring about the expansion of World War III and everything that it entails. What else could possibly be the final outcome when two of the most powerful militaries of the world clash, one directly and the other through a client State.

It should be becoming clear that the implications of what is happening are unfathomable.

What the Future Holds:
At the beginning of this year, after reading the news that thousands of Pakistanis had fled into Afghanistan due to the security situation deteriorating in Pakistan I wrote a piece called “What the Future Holds: It’s much worse than your worst nightmare.” This article summarized our current situation at the time and laid forth an argument that we are in essence at the beginning stages of a full-blown world war.

A few recent important events have taken place since that summary was written, such as: Israeli jets using Iraqi airspace in preparation for an attack on Iran, Iran opening their Oil Bourse and totally removing US dollars in their countries oil transactions, at least nine banks failing in the US and UK so far in 2008, Blackwater mercenaries being used on American soil for raids by the US Federal Government, conflict between NATO and American forces and the Taliban in Afghanistan swelling, Dick Cheney preparing US allies for a nuclear war, Sistani issuing Fatwas against US Troops, and George Bush receiving four hundred million dollars for covert operations in Iran to destabilize the country which for all intents and purposes is an act of war.

So what awaits us in the future? From this perspective there is only one answer, the proliferation of war.

Below is the updated summary that was posted at the beginning of this year. It is more relevant today than it was a few months ago.