Sunday, September 28, 2008

Did Palin lie about 'trade missions' with Russia?

In a Thursday interview with Katie Couric, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin cited "trade missions" with Russia as her one tangible piece of foreign policy experience.

What trade missions?

Research doesn't show a single Alaska-Russia trade mission since former Democratic governor Tony Knowles visited Siberia in 1997, when Palin was running Wasilla, according to

When the reporter asked gubernatorial spokeswoman Kate Morgan about this issue, she refused to answer. Morgan claimed she couldn't legally discuss the matter because she is a state employee and the reporter had learned about the trade missions through the Couric interview, which stems from her bid for the Oval Office.

Spokespeople for the McCain/Palin campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

Palin has never visited Russia and had never traveled outside of North America until last year, the Associated Press reported. The vice presidential candidate had never met a foreign leader until a trip to New York this week.

A press release details Palin's meeting with a trade mission from the Yukon, but nothing about dealings with Russia.

The "pattern is familiar" to Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic, who refers to Palin's"odd lies."

The following is an excerpt from Palin's interview:


COURIC: Have you ever been involved with any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?

PALIN: We have trade missions back and forth. We -- we do -- it's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where -- where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is -- from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to -- to our state.


Sen. John McCain told ABC’s Charles Gibson that Palin has foreign policy experience because "Alaska is right next to Russia. She understands that."

Palin also falsely stated in the same interview with Couric that former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger supported her view that U.S. leaders should not talk to Iranian leaders without preconditions.

Couric called Kissinger after the interview to confirm he believes, as does Sen. Barack Obama, that the U.S. should talk to Iran without any preconditions, reported.

This video is from, broadcast September 25, 2008.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Bush May Be Stupid, But He's No Fool: The Bailout and the Final Repeal of the 20th Century

As I write this, there has been no bailout passed and enacted, no $999 gazillion dollars has been deposited directly into Henry Paulson's off-shore account, and no CEOs in the last 48 hours have been granted $800 septillion dollar bonuses for turning their once-vibrant companies into a fecal smear. And yet, friends, as John McCain might say, my friends, look at the Big Board: The Dow is up 200 points in lively trading and we're back up over the 11,000 mark. So forgive me for asking, but: Is this particular Handout (I mean Bailout, sorry!) really necessary? As put it this morning:

When you read that this "crisis" is about economics, don't believe a word of it. It is 100% politics, pure and simple. Yes, something needs to be done, but if the markets know that Congress is working on it, they will wait a few weeks before dissolving in a puddle.

Machiavelli's treatise on the ruthlessly effective exercise of political power was, of course, entitled The Prince. Had he based his analysis on the Bush era, however, it might better be The Jester. Look around you and everywhere are telltale signs of the bad news: as much as we have ignored him of late, written him off and awaited his demise, the truth is it's George W. Bush's world, and we're just being foreclosed in it.

How does Bush rule with such an iron grasp? It's the stupidity, stupid!

At the most crucial moments, the Worst President Ever (WPE) always seems even more flummoxed, unintelligent, and brain-damaged than usual. The key word here is seems. Like this week. Every comment and speech has been grist for The Daily Show's mill. But if you've been paying attention, you'll know: whenever, in this interminable presidency, The WPE serves up a WTF-burger with a side order of extra-stoopid, your bullcrap detector should be in full red mode.

Careful historical analysis reveals a pattern to Bush's presidential vacuity. There's an algorithm at work here: the level of intelligence he displays is always in inverse proportion to the grand vileness of the plot he is hatching. The greater the evil, the dumberer he acts. I'm saying that George W. Bush may be stupid, but he's no fool. In a humble, folksy twist on Machiavelli, he uses his stupidity for political gain. And that's precisely what's going on right now.

Picture, if you will, a graph of W's stupidity -- call it the Idiometer. There are spikes at vaious places on the graph: immediately following 9/11 when the Patriot Act was being passed; in the buildup to the invasion of Iraq when the administration was dog-and-ponying up a stable full of false evidence; when the media belatedly turned as WMDs turned out to be non-existent; and again when it was time to sell the Surge and stay the course in Iraq despite all common logic.

At each of these most notably despicable moments in or recent political history, Bush's misnomers and gaffes, his goofball locutions, his deer-in-headlights stares, and his embarrassing gaps in knowledge all hit extreme highs.

Now superimpose on this graph another one, known as the Catastrophonic Instrument, where moments are ranked higher or lower depending on the disastrousness of their consequences, the spectacular nature of their historic awfulness.

Hey, Prof, this graph is virtually identical to the Idiometer!

Since last week, W has been staging a one-man Moron-a-thon -- kind of like the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon but held to raise money for a little-known charity called Save The Billionaires. There's always a plan behind the W dumb-show. So what is this telltale spike in presidential tomfoolery telling us this time?

Simple. It's the Republicans trying to buy a nice big set of handcuffs for President Obama -- or anyone else, for a long time to come. When the funds transfers are complete, be it in installments or one spectacular $700 billion tranche, there will be virtually no new social spending possible. There will be no way to lower taxes on the middle class. There will be no way to enact health care reform. There will be no means for the federal government to effectively run many existing programs, which will lend luster to the Republican calls for privatization of Social Security. All of the potential good that could come from finally jettisoning the anti-New Deal Party (because, let's face it, that's all the Republican platforms have amounted to from Goldwater to Reagan to Gingrich to W) will be lost in the tranches of capital diverted to those who need it least. The Gilded Age will come to look like Sweden by comparison. Tranche Warfare -- the elite vs. everyone else. That, my fellow Americans, is the Plan. Bush is playing dumb so we won't notice that his final stroke in office will be to make the Republican Revolution permanent and impossible to repeal for decades to come.

Exit into history, the Reaganites and the Bushies, repairing to the feast where caviar and foie gras are served and real power is consolidated. There will be two history books in the end: ours, wherein Bush was a moron, truly the WPE. And theirs, where his legendary dumb show provided the perfect cover for the Repeal of the 20th Century. That goofy sound you hear is the Worst President Ever, laughing all the way to the banquet.

Pete Cenedella

Lessons of the Fall: Ike's In, Reagan's Out

To a guy with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. But I can't help seeing this moment of combined military and financial crisis as a validation of Dwight D. Eisenhower and a repudiation of Ronald Reagan.

Eisenhower figures prominently both in my 2006 film Why We Fight and my forthcoming book The American Way of War, so I've been basically living with the guy since 2003. The Ike I've come to know is a fiscal and military conservative with a healthy skepticism toward the kind of unwarranted conflict in which we are engaged abroad and the fiscal irresponsibility we are witnessing at home. As the nation approaches November -- already beleaguered by war and now bracing itself for the brunt of this banking tsunami -- Eisenhower has much to teach us about how we lost our way and what we can do to get back.

Reagan, on the other hand, is long overdue for a rethink. At a time when we are mired in a tragic foreign conflict invented by his latter-day acolytes and digging through the wreckage of their corrupt and deregulated economy, the fullness of Reagan's vision is upon us. But if there can be any silver lining to these combined crises, it may be to inspire a shift away from America's blind obsession with Reaganism and a return to the more sober polices that once kept America secure -- militarily and fiscally.

What a difference fifty years makes.

During his presidency, Eisenhower wasn't seen as a very bright light. But today, he haunts us. First, the Iraq war fulfilled his now legendary 1961 farewell warning about the "military-industrial complex." Back then, he was all but written off as a kook for suggesting that a shadowy network of corporate and military actors could lead the country to war for profit or ideology rather than principle or necessity. Now, as we try to understand how we got into our domestic financial mess and to what extent it relates to the military mess overseas, Eisenhower grows more prescient by the minute. Perhaps, too, he can teach us something about how to respond.

As president, Eisenhower gave the lie to George Clemenceau's axiom "War is too important to be left to the generals." As his granddaughter Susan recounted to me, he was deeply shaken by his experience of World War II and sought to ensure that no such thing could happen again. As president at the height of the Cold War, he initiated his controversial "New Look" policy -- a far-reaching program of defense reduction that pitted him against an entrenched bureaucracy of military-industrial interests. Fearing not only the direct costs of war but the disfiguring indirect impact that foreign entanglement can have on the nation's financial health, Eisenhower described America's conflict with the Soviet Union as "an unbearable security burden leading to economic disaster."

Ike's career holds so many such applicable pearls of wisdom, it's best to get them right from the horse's mouth. In 1953, in one of his first addresses as President, he made the now legendary Chance for Peace speech, in which he quantified in brutally simple terms how money spent on defense is diverted from other areas of national need:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed... The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

As president, Ike's advocacy for military and economic restraint put him at almost constant loggerheads with the Pentagon over defense expenditures and pressure from Congress for increased overseas military engagement. While during the Bush years it has been the Republicans who critique their opponents as soft on terror, in Eisenhower's time, the party lines were reversed. As Democratic senators Henry "Scoop" Jackson and John F. Kennedy used the spurious "bomber gap" and "missile gap" charges to impugn Eisenhower's stewardship of national security, he resisted pressure by members of both parties to launch a preemptive nuclear strike against the Soviet Union.

"God help this country," the embattled President was overheard to say, "when someone sits at this desk who doesn't know as much about the military as I do."

With 20/20 hindsight, the regrettable covert activities Eisenhower approved in Iran, Guatemala, Indochina, and elsewhere, are part of the larger covert story of how Cold War America came to violate the framers' resistance to foreign entanglement. It's a tragic story of unintended consequences that leads uncomfortably to today's quagmire in Iraq. Yet, beyond his role at the dawn of such covert mischief, Eisenhower did manage to keep America largely out of conflict for eight years at the height of the Cold War without bankrupting the country.

That was then. But today's Republicans are a different breed. This was confirmed earlier this year when lifelong Republicans John and Susan Eisenhower -- Ike's son and granddaughter -- opted to break ranks with their party, no longer able to brook its abandonment of first principles. In this sense, the current combination of crises is the culmination of a long process by which the commitment to small government and isolationism that were once the hallmark of the Republican party have been replaced by Reagan's free-market fundamentalism and runaway militarism, which have directly and indirectly led to our current predicament.

Reagan's renaissance, which culminated in his near-monarchic state funeral four years ago, coincided with the rise of the neoconservatives in Washington, all of whom laud him as their political hero. The ever-shifting candidate John McCain, who appeared in "Why We Fight" and makes a characteristically fitful appearance in my book, describes Reagan as "our icon, reversing the lesson of Vietnam in his policy of military strength and support for freedom fighters around the world." Not surprisingly, McCain's straight talk express is having a bumpy ride during the current array of crises. In Tuesday's Washington Post, George Will described McCain as "behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high." It's a pretty sad day in Mudville when you're trying to win the hearts of conservatives and George Will accuses you of being more socialist than FDR. To be fair to John McCain, though, the current crisis doesn't only reveal a disconnect in his thinking. It uncovers a basic dilemma over what it means today to be a Republican more broadly.

The problem, of course, is that you can't really love Reagan and love Eisenhower at the same time. Eisenhower was a fiscal conservative, military conservative, and government-bureaucracy conservative. Conversely, Reagan had a proactive, expansionist view of America's role abroad and a blank-check enthusiasm for military-industrial corporatism at home. Taken to their logical extreme, these produce entanglement abroad, economic instability at home, and now, the big-government solutions that inevitably follow. Of course, it didn't start that way. Reagan's revolution was sold on a ticket of "small government." But buyer beware. Now that Reaganomics' warranty has run out, the party of anti-Communism and small government is proposing to socialize our economy. It turns out -- and this is what Eisenhower saw so presciently - that you can't have the neocons' Reaganesque fantasies of military adventurism overseas and deregulated corporatism at home without paying a price in the long run. Suddenly, with Joseph Stiglitz assessing the Iraq war's cost at over $3 trillion and all hell breaking loose in the markets, one-time critics of big government are standing on Wall Street handing out bailouts like party favors (no pun intended).

No wonder it's hard to be John McCain these days -- or any other acolyte of Reagan -- struggling, after supporting the Iraq war and fighting for Reaganesque deregulation, to distance yourself from the inconvenient consequences of these policies. For like his party, McCain bet on the wrong horse, hitching himself not to the soldierly restraint of Eisenhower but to Reagan's radical fantasy that a society of foreign entanglement abroad and deregulated trickle-down economics at home can long endure. So what to do about it?

Well, I might encourage John McCain and, for that matter, anyone in Washington who's drunk the Gipper's free-market fundamentalist and gun-toting expansionist Kool-Aid, to spend a bit more time reading Eisenhower. In combination, a couple of striking phrases in the farewell address and in an earlier speech Ike gave upon assuming the presidency of Columbia University may hold a key to optimizing our reaction.

"Crises there will continue to be," Eisenhower declared in his farewell warning. "In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties."

It's impossible to read these words today and not see the Iraq war as a "spectacular and costly" reaction to the crisis of 9/11 and Paulson's $700 billion blank check as a "miraculous solution" to our "current difficulties."

It's too late, of course, to heed Eisenhower's warnings against militarism and avert the ravages of the Iraq war. But perhaps it's not too late to seek his economic counsel. Unlike today's profligate Republicans, under whom the deficit has increased from $6 trillion to over $9 trillion, Eisenhower achieved a balanced budget for three of his eight years in office, a feat unmatched by any president in the years since. (Not surprisingly, we saw a similar explosion of the deficit under Reagan.) Eisenhower's fiscal conservatism, though, wasn't just a function of knee-jerk penny-pinching or callous, laissez-faire free market fundamentalism. His was a deeply held vision of the precious balance between government expenditure and republican liberties. At his inauguration as President of Columbia University in 1948, he decried that "if carried to the logical extreme, the final concentration of ownership in the hands of government gives to it, in all practical effects, absolute power over our lives."

In his article critiquing McCain's response to the crisis, George Will asked a pointed question not only about the candidate but about his party: "So, is not McCain's party now conducting the most leftist administration in American history?" Will went on to question Paulson's reasoning when he responded to charges that his bailout was socialist: " this is not socialism, this is necessary." What Will to his credit is highlighting is the central problem at this moment for Republicans: how to support the audacious efforts of the White House to respond to a financial crisis born on its watch by taking over the banking industry in a way FDR never dreamt of while on the other hand trying to cling to a coherent Republican ideology. To its own horror, contemporary republicanism is in danger of becoming the new socialism, and George W. Bush a modern-day New Dealer.

In Monday's New York Times, Paul Krugman referred to Paulson's bailout bill as the"Authorization for Use of Financial Force," a joking echo of the wording of the Joint House Resolution that produced the Iraq war by conferring Congress' war-making power on the president. Beyond Krugman's jibe, though, is a very real concern that Eisenhower would overwhelmingly share - that just as the country did in the wake of 9/11 America might respond to the current crisis not with the prudence of improved oversight but with a radical doctrine of government ownership, marked by the too familiar stains of cronyism and corruption.

"We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren," Eisenhower hauntingly remarked in his closing words, "without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow."

If, how, and when the current crisis will end is anyone's guess. Somehow it's always easier to dig oneself into a hole than to claw one's way back out. And broadly speaking, the question about the bailout does not seem to be whether to have it, but just what form it should take. This is a complex question -- like that which faced America after 9/11 -- that requires the time for a textured consideration. Having ignored Eisenhower's example of military restraint for the past eight years, perhaps we can cut our economic losses by heeding his example of fiscal and small-government conservatism. As the White House now demands the rubber-stamping of its sweeping blank-check bailout with the same fervor it used to sell Congress on the need to invade Iraq (with the added new twist that McCain is hinging his appearance at Friday night's debate on the achievement of a signed bailout), we must remember that Eisenhower, at the height of the Cold War, did not allow his policymaking to be bullied by those who would allow the public interest to be "held captive" by private interests.

For ultimately, Eisenhower understood that misguided national priorities that place military expansion and unchecked cronyism above other vital aspects of our national life condemn us to "destroy from within what we are trying to protect from without." Instead, he argued, crises must be met not by spectacular and costly exercises of radical governance but through a consistent commitment to "balance in and among national programs." This requires a holistic understanding of what makes a nation strong. For Eisenhower understood that an uneducated country is an undefended country, that a country without adequate health care is an undefended country, that a country that bullies its friends in the international community is an undefended country; and, above all, that a country in which corporate-political corruption has compromised its people's faith in their leaders is a country they will not fight for. Ultimately, that country - and the principles on which it was founded -- cannot long endure.

* * * Eugene Jarecki's 2006 film Why We Fight won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival as well as a Peabody Award. His forthcoming book, The American Way of War: Guided Missiles, Misguided Men, and a Republic in Peril (Simon & Schuster/Free Press), will be released October 14th.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Palin, Muthee And The "Israelites"

If you go to 1:20 into this Youtube, you will hear Muthee, who later anointed Palin, say the following words in Palin's presence:

The second area whereby God wants us, wants to penetrate in our society is in the economic area. The Bible says that the wealth of the wicked is stored up for the righteous. It's high time that we have top Christian businessmen, businesswomen, bankers, you know, who are men and women of integrity running the economics of our nations. That's what we are waiting for. That's part and parcel of transformation. If you look at the -- you know -- if you look at the Israelites, that's how they work. And that's how they are, even today.

Sure they vetted her.

Why the Media Silence over John McCain’s involvement in The Keating 5?

Why the Media Silence over John McCain’s involvement in The Keating 5?

As FOX News tries to link Obama to all sorts of ridiculous things, Jonathan Alter makes a good point with KO.

ALTER: [Y]ou remember the Keating Five scandal that he was a part of, which, by the way, it’s crazy but there’s been very little about it in the press in the last few weeks. And McCain thinks he’s getting a hard time, he’s really getting a free ride on the fact that he was in the middle of the last great financial scandal in our country. But his reaction to that, you would have thought, would have been more regulation of the financial services industry. Instead he moved forward on campaign finance reform after being caught in that scandal, but did nothing - nothing -to try to prevent another savings and loan crisis from happening down the road. He was missing in action when it came to even learning the basic lessons of a scandal that he said taught him all kinds of things that he would never forget.

Doesn’t the media believe this is a relevant story being that we’re in a huge economic meltdown? Can you imagine the media scrutiny if a Democratic politician had been linked to this scandal and ran for President? A new movie called Third Term will be released soon which goes into detail about the whole Keating5—John McCain connection. Please read this post (with video) if you missed it and then start demanding that the media cover McCain’s past connection to the Keating 5 scandal and and see if the American people want him to lead them out of the economic chaos we’re facing today…It was the biggest S&L scandal in American history at that time…

NARRATION: All of this corporate influence should remind you a bit of a previous tale in the McCain saga, his involvement with the Keating 5. Charles Keating was a sort of mentor of John McCain, donating vast sums of money to his senate campaigns.

DAVID DONNELLY: Charles Keating helped out Senator McCain a lot in the early part of his career. … Senator McCain was the closest of any of the Keating Five to Charles Keating.

NARRATION: But Keating was in trouble. His company, Lincoln Savings and Loan, was making a lot of risky investments, and the government was investigating.

ANDREA MITCHELL: Keating raised $1.3 million for them. They challenged regulators who were investigating his operations.

NARRATION: So Keating called some of his old pals in the Senate to put a little pressure on the government regulator and get them off his back. McCain accepted.

NARRATION: Lincoln collapsed, leading to a bailout of $2.8 billion in taxpayer money. Keating went to prison for four years. McCain was only chastised on the Senate floor.

DAVID DONNELLY: …people who lost life savings through the scandal. There were, people who… pensioners who lost their money because those savings and loans went belly-up.

MITCHELL: Keating became a symbol of the worst financial scandal in history and the worst ethics scandal in the history of the senate.

NARRATION: He did not learn his lesson. The S&L collapse was a failure of adequate regulation, with the banks running wild, making dodgy investments with high risk-high reward margins. If that sounds familiar, it should.

DAVID DONNELLY: Fast-forward twenty years to now, we have a huge mortgage crisis on our hands, it’s the result of years and years and years of a deregulatory approach that Senator McCain has supported.

NARRATION: It’s the same thing that’s happening now, as banks fail, and as our housing market collapses. And the people responsible for this new crisis are the ones McCain has surrounded himself with, men like Phil Gramm and his banking lobbyists. He will offer the same kind of deregulatory policies that led to the banking collapse of the early ‘90s.

CHRISTIAN WELLER: Well, Mr. McCain would take the worst economic policies from the Bush administration and put them on steroids. … we would get not only the same that we’ve had for the last seven years, we would get actually the same, just a little degree worse than we had before.

Republican government-bashers line up for federal aid

Republican government-bashers line up for federal aid


WASHINGTON -- What has happened to those conservative Republican leaders whose mantra was "government is the problem -- not the solution"?

Tell that to the once-bloated financial giants now standing in line for whopping government handouts to the tune of $700 billion. And who can forget those who wanted to "get the government off our backs"? Their silence now is deafening.

In the rush for bailouts for the hard-hit government mortgage finance giants, the U.S. Treasury seized control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and is trying to rescue American International Group, the largest insurer of the world. It allowed 158-year-old Lehman Brothers to collapse, but came to the rescue of the Bear, Stearns, another Wall Street firm.

What about the thousands of suffering homeowners who face mortgage foreclosures? They are at the end of the public trough and almost forgotten in the scramble to protect Wall Street. And what about the failed CEOs who hope to walk out the door with obscene multi-million-dollar golden parachutes and big bonuses?

Isn't there something wrong with this picture?

Both Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke have worked out a plan to pass on the price of the bailouts to the American taxpayer. Congress is still scrutinizing the proposal.

The U.S. financial mess has rippled through other economies of the world. The fault rests with Wall Street greed, which brought on good times for the high rollers, who thought it would never end. And it rests with the federal government for its failure to police mortgage lenders.

Republican lawmakers and presidents who abhor government restrictions and oversight because of their anti-government philosophy have put America in a critical financial state.

We should be looking at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt blueprint. People were in despair after the stock market crashed in 1929 and the Great Depression slowly settled in. They lost hope until FDR took office in 1933 and told Americans in his first inaugural address that we had nothing "to fear but fear itself."

Roosevelt, thinking of the poor and desperate, created several New Deal programs to put people back to work. He was viewed as a savior at the time by millions of Americans, but he also had bitter detractors who resented his radical steps.

I remember the suffering during the Depression in my hometown of Detroit and the long lines of forlorn men, standing in the dead of winter outside the auto factories, hoping for jobs. The popular song on the radio was "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime." The best-selling book was John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath."

Roosevelt was innovative. Some programs worked, some didn't. But many remain today to provide some sense of security, like the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the National Labor Relations Act to protect unions and the Social Security system to help the elderly. In the 1930s, 9,000 banks closed down. Today we have to ask: Why didn't the so-called experts see the storm coming in the 21st century?

Ironically, the remaining affluent and the poor are now on the same page with Abraham Lincoln, who said: "Government should do for people what they cannot do for themselves."

Helen Thomas is a columnist for Hearst Newspapers. E-mail: Copyright 2008 Hearst Newspapers.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

McCain's Economic Plan: Blurt Out Random Crap stumble digg reddit news trust Read More: Barack Obama, Economic Crisis, Economy,

McCain's Economic Plan: Blurt Out Random Crap

There are several reasons why Senator Obama is enjoying a double-digit lead in the "honesty and trustworthiness" category (47 percent to 36 percent according the new ABC News/Washington Post poll). First, Senator Obama doesn't, you know, lie to the American people every damn day. Second, Senator Obama didn't vote with the dishonest, corrupt Bush administration 90 percent of the time.

But one of the main reasons why the nation appears to be lining up against Senator McCain's insanely obvious lack of integrity could be because his very serious and mavericky campaign strategy can be described in four simple words:

Blurt Out Random Crap.

"Crap," in this context, is defined as everything from lies to weasel-words to inexplicably weird nonsense. And it seems like Senator McCain does this a lot. So much so that we can only conclude that it's intentional.

The goal: Get McCain on record saying something no matter how ridiculous. This way, he can hit the stump later and boast that he said something with regards to scary stuff in the news. I said something [that didn't make any sense and was probably a lie] and Senator Obama didn't say anything [also a lie]! My friends! And whenever he's accused of routinely blurting out random crap, Senator McCain trucks out the old punishment theorem: If Senator Obama had only agreed to the town halls, I wouldn't be selling-out the last shreds of my honor or integrity just to get elected. Can't you see? Senator Obama turned me into a hack, dammit!

First thing that pops into his head. Is it truthful? Doesn't matter. Sex education for kindergarteners, for instance. "Palin sold her jet on eBay," for instance. Does it even make sense or is it just a bunch of words strung together to form a sentence? Who cares. "President Putin of Germany," for instance. "Delivering bottled hot water to dehydrated babies," for instance.

I'll admit that the latter category is more fun to document. However, the lying is especially infuriating -- and maybe that's the idea -- piss off the liberals. But it can't be helping with independents and undecideds who are discovering quite rapidly that the mythology of "John McCain" doesn't match the real-life John McCain. The Real McCain is rapidly coming into focus for those in the middle. McRage. McLiar. McPanderer. McIncompetent. McBush. And the Obama campaign only needs to tweak these frames. After all, the McCain campaign is doing all of the heavy lifting by itself.

And as we witnessed with the Zapatero episode, as soon as Senator McCain blurts out random crap, his staff scrambles onto the stage with pronouncements and excuses so as to make it seem as if McCain meant to say what he said -- a routine which only serves to compound the farcical nature of it all.

So it comes as no surprise that the McCain-Palin strategy on the economic crisis is to -- that's right! -- blurt out random crap.

All along and without regard to the actual status of the economy, Senator McCain has blurted out the well-known talking point "the fundamentals of the economy are strong." Why? Because that's the Bush Republican position. Those exact words. And shortly after President Paulson announced his bailout plan when it appeared as if we were on the verge of a complete meltdown, Senator McCain, in the most Pavlovian sense, couldn't help himself and -- WHOOPS! -- he said it again. Why? Because that's what he always says about the economy.

When he was immediately and appropriately called out for being a doof, he blurted out that everyone in the world misunderstood him. The "fundamentals," he claimed, meant "the workers." In other words, American workers are strong. What the hell does that have to do with the status of the economy? Does it mean the workforce can lift heavy things -- like factory equipment that's being shipped to China? How does one quantify worker "strength" as an economic indicator? Even if a crazy economist somewhere includes the morale of the workforce as a fundamental of the economy, the McCain campaign clearly overlooked the reality that we've lost 1.75 million jobs this year and unemployment spiked to 6.1 percent two days after Sarah Palin's overrated acceptance speech. Not strong, McCain. Bad! But, then again, he really didn't mean "the workers" in the first place anyway.

When this failed, he blurted out something about averting the impending economic meltdown by convening a government commission, ostensibly to study the urgent crisis and perhaps issue a recommendation sometime in the future. Decisive!

When that didn't work, he called for the firing of the head of the SEC, Chris Cox, even though Phil Gramm, the author of McCain's economic plan (pre-crisis), is also responsible for the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 -- a piece of legislation which, along with Reaganomics and Alan Greenspan's love of all things bubble-shaped, is directly responsible for this present mess. Phil Gramm. A man who said that the economic crisis is mostly a figment of our whiny imagination. A man who could be our next Treasury Secretary and steward of the economy. Hire him, but fire the other guy. Because that'll somehow help. Oh, Magoo.

It's worth noting that while that idea was failing, Senator McCain inexplicably called for the firing of the head of the Federal Elections Commission, Donald F. McGahn II. Poor McGahn II. Minding his own business, and suddenly McCain's on television calling him out for screwing the economic pooch.

When that failed, Senator McCain rolled out one of his most egregious lies to date, claiming that Senator Obama, of all people, has been directly responsibility for the crisis. Why? Because the former CEO of Fannie Mae, Franklin Raines, once talked on the phone with someone associated with the Obama campaign. Like 16 months ago. And that somehow makes Raines a close economic advisor. Never mind that Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager, was on the Freddie Mac payroll as recently as a couple of weeks ago.

Which leads us to Senator McCain blurting out that no-one on his staff is associated in any way with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

What's next, McCain campaign? A Mogwai ate a sandwich after midnight; morphed into a Gremlin; then caused the economic crisis? Or will it be Marty McFly's sports almanac screwing up the space-time continuum? Or will it be Reverend Wright putting a curse on the banks? Whatever is next is bound to be crazier than what's already been said.

And now -- wait. What's this? As I wrap this up, it's being reported that Senator McCain wants to delay the debates so he can focus on the economic crisis. Oh, and now he wants to suspend campaigning. If what we've seen from the senator so far is him "focusing" on the economy -- what the hell is he like when he's multitasking? What's next, McCain? Suspending the election?

So what will a McCain administration economic policy look like? From the lack of foresight and leadership we've witnessed so far, we can assume that McCain might choose a new economic policy totally at random, depending on how saucy he feels from minute to minute. "I'll have a muffin with my Egg Beaters, and replace Bernanke with that hooplehead who weedwacks the knoll." Two minutes later... "Hey Phil, we don't need the Nasdaq anymore. Kill it." Two minutes later... "My God! What have I done! Quickly -- nationalize the paintball industry! Go!"

One thing is for sure. Expecting a workable solution to this economic meltdown from a man as knee-jerk, dishonest and incomprehensible as John McCain would be an exercise in national self-destruction. He doesn't have anything real to say, and what he does say, he can't sell. He simply can't do the gig. A vote for McCain-Palin is absolutely a vote for the end of America as we know it.

Protesters unfurl 'Arrest Bush and Cheney' banner at Nat'l Archives

Protesters unfurl 'Arrest Bush & Cheney' banner at Nat'l Archives
Anti-war protesters hung a banner today at the National Archives calling for the arrest of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

The 22-foot-long banner in red, white and black reads, "Defend Our Constitution - Arrest Bush / Cheney! - War Criminals!"

The protesters, perched on a ledge at the historic building in Washington, D.C., additionally claim to be on a hunger strike.

According to a press release, the five are military combat veterans from the anti-war group Veterans For Peace who intend to stay on the ledge and fast for a full day "in remembrance of those who have perished and those still suffering from the crimes of the Bush administration."

An Archives spokesperson had no comment when asked if authorities were planning to take action to stop the peaceful protest.

This video is from YouTube, broadcast September 23, 2008.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Domestic spying lawsuit targets Bush, Cheney, NSA

Domestic spying lawsuit targets Bush, Cheney, NSA

Nick Juliano

Privacy advocates are trying to shut down the US government's "shadow network of surveillance devices" used to spy on its citizens with a lawsuit aimed at President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, the National Security Agency and dozens of current and former government officials.

Plaintiffs who had been pursuing a suit against AT&T have shifted their focus to government officials to circumvent Congress's grant of immunity to telecommunications companies that participated in Bush's warrantless wiretapping program. A class action lawsuit was filed Thursday by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is continuing to pursue its case against AT&T.

"Today we've opened a second front in our battle to stop the NSA's illegal surveillance," EFF attorney Kevin Bankston told reporters during a conference call Thursday.

Based on news reports and information it obtained from former AT&T employee Mark Kline, EFF alleges a massive surveillance apparatus has been trained on Americans to vacuum up information on virtually every telephone call, e-mail and Internet search to feed a massive database maintained by the NSA.

8. The core component of the Program is Defendants’ nationwide network of sophisticated communications surveillance devices, attached to the key facilities of telecommunications companies such as AT&T that carry Americans’ Internet and telephone communications.

9. Using this shadow network of surveillance devices, Defendants have acquired and continue to acquire the content of a significant portion of the phone calls, emails, instant messages, text messages, web communications and other communications, both international and domestic, of practically every American who uses the phone system or the Internet, including Plaintiffs and class members, in an unprecedented suspicionless general search through the nation’s communications networks.
Information on the lawsuit and a link to the 55-page filing is available on EFF's Web site.

The lawsuit outlines 17 counts, including alleged violations of the First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and other laws. Additional defendants targeted by the suit include former White House counsel and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former NSA director and current CIA director Michael Hayden, Cheney chief of staff David Addington, Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former Attorney General John Ashcroft, former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte and up to 100 unnamed government or private sector officials who participated in the surveillance.

Bankston said the lawsuit's aim is to "obtain personal accountability from the architects" of the warrantless surveillance and to say to future government officials, "If you break the law and violate people's privacy, there will be consequences."

Bush's decision to ignore FISA's warrant requirements and have the NSA turn its surveillance apparatus on Americans after 9/11 was first revealed by the New York Times in December 2005, leading the president to acknowledge what he called the "Terrorist Surveillance Program" a few months later. The TSP, as Bush described it, authorized eavesdropping on phone calls in which at least one party was located overseas.

Bankston said the illegal surveillance "absolutely" goes beyond that program, citing admissions from government officials that the TSP was just part of the government's post-9/11 surveillance expansion along with subsequent reports in other newspapers outlining government efforts to gather financial records and online transactions to construct data-mining databases.

Whether the latest lawsuit will succeed in ending the NSA's domestic surveillance programs remains to be seen.

Previous efforts to learn more about or achieve judicial overview of the ultra secret programs have been scuttled through a combination of state secrets and executive privilege claims, and EFF expects to face those same types of arguments this time around.

Congress also has been complicit. When it adopted several amendments to FISA earlier this summer, the Democratic-led Congress gave in to Bush's demands that the updated spy law provide immunity for participating telecoms like AT&T.

Bankston said EFF is arguing that the immunity grant itself was unconstitutional and has not given up its original case, Hepting v. AT&T, but the group is pursuing the separate case against the government officials to avoid getting bogged down with the fight over immunity.

The main goal, he said, "is to dismantle the NSA's nationwide spying network."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My interview with John Hudson, Kirsta Peterson and Alexandra Cohen-Spiegler on MESS-tv


The latest alternative Shakespeare research claims that the plays were not written by the man from Stratford, nor by any of the other 65 candidates---but by someone else. Overlooked for 400 years, because of her gender and skin color, her name is Amelia Bassano Lanier (1569-1645). She was a major experimental poet, the first woman to publish a book of original poetry, and also was mistress to the man in charge of the English theater. She was a member of the Bassano family, dark skinned Venetian Jews, of Moorish ancestry, who had moved to England to be the Court Recorder troupe. She has long been known as the so-called 'dark lady' of the Sonnets—which it now appears she wrote in the third person. Not only does this explain the plays' unusual interest in Venice and Moors and recorder music—it also explains their Hebrew puns and the author's familiarity with Maimonides, the Talmud, and the original Hebrew text of Genesis.

Amelia's authorship would also explain the recent startling discovery that many of the plays contain hidden Jewish allegories—several of them about the Roman-Jewish war. The allegory in A Midsummer Night's Dream was performed in 2007 by the experimental New York Shakespeare company, the Dark Lady Players and was reviewed in NJJN in the February 28, 2008 article titled 'Kosher Bard'. In summer 2008, the Dark Lady Players put on another production, at the Midtown International Theatre Festival, showing that an allegory about the Roman-Jewish war also underlies As You Like It.

The classically trained cast of the Dark Lady Players, comprising 10 women actors, faced the unique challenge of playing not only the 24 normal characters, but a dozen allegorical characters as well, in an adaptation that was squeezed into 90 minutes. It was a credit to them and to Shakespeare director Stephen Wisker, that the production managed to demonstrate the underlying allegory on stage through clowning, costuming, physical movement and other framing devices which made the hidden literary structures in the play concrete and visible, so they could be untangled from the surface plot. It was, as John Chatterton, the Festival founder, and publisher of the Off Off Broadway Review (OOBR) puts it "an enjoyable romp through some of the more impenetrable thickets of Shakespeare scholarship."

The work being done by the Dark Lady Players changes the meaning of the plays and how they are to be understood and performed. For instance in As You Like It, the character Touchstone has a pocket watch and is a fool, indicating that he represents the informal Court fool Sir John Harrington, the inventor of the flush toilet, which ends up becoming an important underlying theme of the play. But in addition, Touchstone is a brilliant poet whose work is not understood, who has been expelled from Court, who hates the clown William (Shakespeare), and whose name in Greek is basanos. All this suggests he is also an allegory for Amelia Bassano —who wrote herself into some of the plays. So the actress playing Touchstone, Kirsta Peterson, needed all her training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) for the unusual challenge of playing the surface character and two allegorical characters all at once. She also had to depict Bassano on stage as the author, for the first time ever, and she rose to the challenge. "It is exciting to take the text and turn it on its head" said Peterson, "after two years working with the Dark Lady Players, I absolutely believe that Amelia wrote these plays."

As You Like It: A Biblical allegory

Superficially As You Like It is a pastoral, a genre of literature designed to deceive, to say one thing on the surface, and mean something quite different underneath. So allegorically the play is not about romantic love at all, but a Biblical story which starts in paradise, then covers the Fall from paradise, the wicked fallen world, and finishes with Noah's Flood.

In the Hebrew Bible, paradise was the Garden of Eden, while the equivalent in Classical mythology was the Garden of the Hesperides. The identity as Eden is clear from the orchard and the character called Adam. Alexandra Cohen-Spiegler, who brings to the role her training at RADA and the LeCoq theater school in Paris—plays him comically as an old, wheezing man, wearing a fig leaf, shown here talking to Orlando/ Hercules. The Classical identity of the Garden as the Hesperides is indicated by the existence of the character Hisperia who was one of the guardians of the Hesperides. So the play begins in a converged Hebrew and Classical paradise.

Then, almost immediately, it turns into a Nativity scene. We know Orlando represents not just Hercules in his lion's skin, but also the Hebrew messiah, because we are told he is growing up in a stable in between an ox and a horse—as in typical Nativity scenes. In order to communicate his identity to the audience, in this production all the cast form a stylized tableau to greet him. Two of the youngest cast members, Lindsay Tanner and Sarah Jadin, who are recent RADA and LAMDA graduates, make their first appearance as an animal and the baby in the manger. The use of such innovative techniques throughout the play led Philip Langner, director of the Theatre Guild, to call this production "the best piece of creative theatre I have seen in many years."

Then, after a brilliantly executed "wrestling match" introduces the idea of a fall from grace, Rosalind and Celia are thrown out, in a version of the Fall from Paradise. We see them crawling on-stage, at Touchstone's feet, encountering the thorns and thistles on the paths outside paradise in the working day world. They have been preceded by Rosalind's father Duke Senior, who was the first person to be expelled from Paradise, and therefore represents Satan. This is why he appears in a freezing wind, which is one of the traditional depictions of Satan being carried out of Paradise.

The fallen world was associated with original sin and hunting, the latter being a typical Elizabethan metaphor for battle. We are also told that the forest, originally a temple, has been surrounded by a circle, and turned into a desert where people are hung on trees, are starving, and the greasy citizens and native burghers of the city are being massacred—like deer—by tyrants and usurpers. The hidden story here is that the outlaw satanic Duke is like a "Roman Conqueror" as he is described. These events fit only one historic situation-- the Roman-Jewish war. The Roman conqueror Vespasian Caesar, surrounded Jerusalem and the temple with a circular wall, starved and slaughtered the Jewish citizens, and illegally cut down all the trees for crosses, turning the country into a desert. So we start to comprehend that the hunting is an allegory for the Roman-Jewish war, and the deer are the Jews, who wear tallits and are slaughtered onstage.

If Duke Senior's two allegorical identities are Satan and Vespasian, then Rosalind and Celia are allegories for his children Titus and Domitian Caesar. This is why Julius Caesar's maxim "I came, I saw, I conquered" is used to describe how Celia eventually conquers 'Oliver'—the olive tree being a traditional Jewish symbol. So in this production Duke Senior wears a pair of horns like Satan but also wears a purple toga like those worn by Rosalind and Celia (played respectively by Kate Murray and Emily Moment) who give Roman salutes as they ascend to heaven like Jesus, and as they die in the flood.

After various comic satires about hanging on trees and counterfeit resurrection, Rosalind and Celia oddly ascend to heaven. Touchstone begins a dynamic monologue exemplifying the Partition between Earth and Heaven which comes down on the Last Day. The moment he finishes, the Partition—namely the curtain--opens and Rosalind and Celia descend from heaven, in a parody of the Last Day.

But the dances and marriages keep being interrupted, because we are told Noah’s Flood is coming. The two Jaques or ‘Jakes’ characters (representing two toilets and both played by Jen Browne)—come on stage to interrupt the festivities by reciting an ironic and distracting announcement of ‘fair tidings’ or good news. Meanwhile their inventor, Touchstone, steals the girlfriend away from William (Shakespeare)---shown as a cardboard cutout of the First Folio engraving-- and goes off to the Ark with her for a "loving voyage". The Jakes hide in a cave—like the Jews do in the New Testament on the Last Day—while Touchstone and Audrey sail off, as the flood or "flush" wipes away the corrupted world. In the final scene in this production Touchstone recites the little known alternative Epilogue from the Ark, above a sea of floating heads, to the loud background noise of a flushing Jakes.

As dramaturge to the Dark Lady Players it took nine months of research to create this adaptation. It was then passed on to Shakespeare director Stephen Wisker and the cast to take on stage. Sitting watching their performance at the Midtown International Theater Festival this summer, I think Amelia Bassano would have been proud of how they were at last able to reveal the underlying play-within-the-play, a Jewish comedy, that has remained concealed for the last 400 years.

JOHN HUDSON has an MA in Shakespeare from the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-Upon-Avon

His two academic articles on the allegory in AYLI are available on request


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Court: Florida anti-gay adoption ban is unconstitutional

KEY WEST, Fla. -- A state judge has ruled against Florida's gay adoption ban, calling it "unconstitutional" and allowing an openly gay foster parent to adopt a boy he's been raising.

Monroe Circuit Court Judge David Audlin Jr. said the 31-year-old law is contrary to the state constitution because it singles out a group for punishment. He added that adoption is in the 13-year-old's best interest. He has learning disabilities and special needs, and has lived with the foster parent since 2001.

Florida and Mississippi are the only states that forbid gay people from adopting.

The ruling has not yet been formally published.

The Man Who Called His Wife a C--t Cries "Sexism"

The Man Who Called His Wife a "C--t" Cries "Sexism"

The man who can't remember how many houses he owns cries "elitist!"

The man who said "The issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should, and "I believe the fundamentals of this economy are strong," cries "economy!"

The man whose running mate denies manmade global warming cries "environment!"

The man with ZERO executive experience cries "executive experience!"

The man who chaired the committee that set a record for unauthorized appropriations cries "I'll make them famous!"

The man who voted with George W. Bush 90% of the time cries "change!"

The man who knowingly spreads malicious lies cries "honor!"

The man whose campaign is run by lobbyists cries "no more lobbyists!"

The man whose running mate has a pregnant, unmarried 17-year-old daughter cries "abstinence!"

The man who cheated on his ailing wife cries "family values!"

The man who can't tell Sunni and Shia apart cries "judgment!"

The man who picked the least experienced VP candidate in history cries "country first!"

The man who got caught in the Keating Five scandal cries "integrity!"

The man who joked about Chelsea Clinton being "ugly" cries "offensive!"

The man whose party mocks service cries "service!"

The man who supported abolishing the Department of Education cries "education!"

The man whose family was targeted by Karl Rove in 2000 cries "get me Karl Rove!"

The man who fought against the Bush tax cuts cries "permanent Bush tax cuts!"

The man who called Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson "agents of intolerance" cries "I love evangelicals!"

The man who cried "no Iraq timetables" STILL cries "no Iraq timetables!"

A man who touts his running mate as a "reformer" cries "get me more Bush veterans for her staff!"

A man who wants to overturn Roe v. Wade cries "I'm the candidate for women!"

...and America eats it up.

Seth Grahame-Smith is the founder of

The man who can't remember how many houses he owns cries "elitist!" The man who said "The issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should, and "I believe the fundamentals of t...
The man who can't remember how many houses he owns cries "elitist!" The man who said "The issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should, and "I believe the fundamentals of t...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Rep. McDermott signs on to impeachment resolution

Rep. McDermott signs on to impeachment resolution
Nick Langewis and David Edwards

Congressman Jim McDermott, representing Washington's 7th district, stood up on the House floor to give his official support to efforts to impeach President Bush.

Video and transcript of his remarks appear below. The video was broadcast on C-SPAN on the morning of September 9, 2008.

Download video


Mr. Speaker:

For the last two years I've struggled with the issue of whether the House should impeach a sitting President. Next to declaring war, impeachment is the gravest matter the House of Representatives must consider. I fully understand the gut-wrenching consequences such a national debate could precipitate. Yet, there is one fact we cannot overlook or escape: American cannot regain its moral leadership in the world if America cannot hold its leaders accountable for their actions at home.

The allegations that would warrant impeachment keep growing. They have been illuminated in recent books including The Way of the World by Ron Suskind, the book by Vincent Bugliosi, and the new book by Bob Woodward, The War Within.

Over five years ago, I tried to place asterisks in the Congressional Record next to the statements about Iraq the President made to Congress. I was attacked for saying the President would mislead us into the war, but the American people ultimately learned the truth.

There seems to be no end to the allegations and we have a responsibility to investigate their authenticity. That's why I'm signing onto a resolution to consider impeachment of the President. Without accountability, a democracy will fail. I yield back.


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Report: McCain Pushed Woman In A Wheelchair

On Sunday, McClatchy Newspapers published a story on Sen. John McCain's oft-discussed temper, detailing one incident in which McCain allegedly pushed a woman in a wheelchair.

According to McClatchy's report, in 1996, McCain was met in the Senate office halls by a group of family members of POW-MIAs who had been pressing him to pursue more information on their relatives.

Six people present have written statements describing what they saw. According to the accounts, McCain waved his hand to shoo away Jeannette Jenkins, whose cousin was last seen in South Vietnam in 1970, causing her to hit a wall.

As McCain continued walking, Jane Duke Gaylor, the mother of another missing serviceman, approached the senator. Gaylor, in a wheelchair equipped with portable oxygen, stretched her arms toward McCain.

"McCain stopped, glared at her, raised his left arm ready to strike her, composed himself and pushed the wheelchair away from him," according to Eleanor Apodaca, the sister of an Air Force captain missing since 1967.

McCain's staff wouldn't respond to requests for comment about specific incidents.

It's impossible now to determine whose recollection of these events is accurate. But Democrats clearly continue to see McCain's temperament as a potential electoral liability. Appearing on CNN's Late Edition on Sunday, Sen. Barbara Boxer argued that McCain's hot-streak is a legitimate campaign issue that should dissuade voters from electing him commander in chief.

"Just listen to what some of his Republican friends have said about him," said Boxer. "Thad Cochran, a Republican conservative senator from Mississippi says the thought of John McCain in the White House sends cold chills down his spine. I don't agree with Kay Bailey that everybody loses their temper like that. And I think we've all seen it happen. It's not rational when it happens. And because John McCain raised the issue, he actually raised it and says he has the temperament -- you know, I think it should be on the table. And anyone watching, you know, Barack Obama stay as cool as a cucumber under the most unbelievable scathing attacks can see that."

Boxer's comment, the crux of which had been raised earlier in the segment, came in the midst of what was a heated exchange between her and Senate colleague Kay Bailey Hutchinson. The Texas Republican laughed off the idea that McCain was any more volatile than other senators. "It is just ridiculous to say he doesn't have the temperament," she remarked. "I mean everybody gets upset at some point."

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Riot cops use tear gas on RNC protesters

A protest march at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul on Tuesday began with arrests and ended with police ordering a few dozen lingering marchers to disperse and firing tear gas and flash grenades.

For the most part, however, the march by the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign was peaceful, with about a thousand protesters under heavy police scrutiny chanting, "Our human rights are under attack. What do we do? Stand up, fight back!"

Police from Ramsey County, in which the city of St. Paul is located, had previously arrested 284 people on Monday, claiming that 200 of them were "anarchists" bent on causing "damage." The Ramsey County sheriff's office alleges, on the basis of reports from police infiltrators, that an anarchist group is plotting to disrupt the convention by blockading bridges, kidnapping Republican delegates, and spraying urine on police.

However, those arrested on Monday also included journalists, such as Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, and others who merely happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The ACLU has condemned the mass arrests and is calling for an investigation.

This video is from, broadcast September 2, 2008.

Download video

Monday, September 01, 2008

The North Pole becomes an 'island' for the first time in history as ice melts

The North Pole has become an island for the first time in human history.

Startling satellite pictures taken three days ago show that melting ice has opened up the fabled North-West and North-East Passages - making it possible to sail around the Arctic ice cap.

The opening of the passages has been eagerly awaited by shipping companies which hope they will be able to cut thousands of miles off their routes.

arctic map

Blocked: The Arctic ice, showing as a pink mass in the 1979 picture, links up with northern Canada (on the left) and Russia (right)

But to climate change scientists it is yet another sign of the damage global warming is inflicting on the planet.

Mark Serreze, a sea ice specialist, described the images as an 'historic event' - but warned they added to fears that the Arctic icecap has entered a 'death spiral'.

The pictures, produced by Nasa, mark the first time in at least 125,000 years that the two shortcuts linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans have been ice-free at the same time.

In 2005, the North-East Passage around Russia opened, while the western one, across the top of Canada, remained closed, and last year the position was reversed.

But the satellite data shows that the North-West passage opened last weekend and the remaining tongue of ice blocking the North-Eastern one dissolved a few days later.

Professor Serreze, of the U.S. government-funded National Snow and Ice Data Center, told a Sunday newspaper: 'The passages are open. It is an historic event.

'We are going to see this more and more as the years go by.'

arctic map

Thawing ocean: The North-West Passage (circled left) and the North-East Passage (top right) are clear of ice

Shipping companies are ready to exploit the new routes. The Beluga group, based in Bremen, Germany, plans to send the first ship through the North-East passage next year, cutting 4,000 nautical miles off the voyage from Germany to Japan.

If the ice continues to melt at current rates it will soon be possible to sail right across the North Pole.

Many scientists believe that the mass of ice that forms a jagged circle around the North Pole could vanish altogether in the summer by 2030.

Others believe it could take as little as five years for the Pole, currently frozen all year round, to be ice-free between mid-July and mid-September.

Four weeks ago, tourists had to be evacuated from Baffin Island's Auyuittuq National Park in northern Canada because of flooding from thawed glaciers.

The park's name means 'land that never melts'.