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Step Aside Nancy
Author: Raine    Date: 01/24/2008 13:42:18

Here we go again. The House has decided to put aside contempt charges against Bolton and Miers. Why? Politico tells us:
Senior Democrats have decided that holding a controversial vote on the contempt citations, which have already been approved by the House Judiciary Committee as part of its investigation into the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, would “step on their message” of bipartisan unity in the midst of the stimulus package talks.
[...] “Right now, we’re focused on working in a bipartisan fashion on [the] stimulus,” said House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), indicating that the contempt vote is not expected for weeks, depending on how quickly the stimulus package moves.

Brendan Daly, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said “no decision has been made” as to when a criminal contempt vote would be held by the House.
In the midst of Bipartisan talks? WTF?
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226 comments (Latest Comment: 01/25/2008 03:59:36 by Raine)

Dr. Strangelove
Author: BobR    Date: 01/23/2008 13:35:29

Who can forget the movie "Dr. Strangelove.."? One crazy general sets the wheels in motion towards MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) with the people in power seemingly unable to cope with the diplomacy required to prevent it. Released in 1964, it brought attention to the insanity that is our nuclear weapons program.

Agreements were put in place with SALT I in 1972, and SALT II in 1979. There have been other lesser dimplomatic achievements since then, but it seemed everyone understood that to fire a single nuclear missile would result in MAD.

Apparently, that zeitgeist never reached certain military leaders in NATO. They have declared that Pre-emptive nuclear strike is a key option:
The west must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the "imminent" spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, according to a radical manifesto for a new Nato by five of the west's most senior military officers and strategists.

Calling for root-and-branch reform of Nato and a new pact drawing the US, Nato and the European Union together in a "grand strategy" to tackle the challenges of an increasingly brutal world, the former armed forces chiefs from the US, Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands insist that a "first strike" nuclear option remains an "indispensable instrument" since there is "simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world".

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128 comments (Latest Comment: 01/24/2008 03:19:11 by Raine)

Ask a Vet
Author: TriSec    Date: 01/22/2008 11:39:02

Good Morning.

Today is our 1,770th day in Iraq.

We'll start this morning as we always do, with the latest casualty figures from the warron terra, courtesy of Antiwar.com:

American Deaths
Since war began (3/19/03): 3929
Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03): 3790
Since Capture of Saddam (12/13/03): 3468
Since Handover (6/29/04): 3070
Since Election (1/31/05): 2492

Other Coalition Troops: 307
US Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 480

We find this morning's cost of war passing through $487,842,800,000.00

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175 comments (Latest Comment: 01/23/2008 04:12:21 by Raine)

Don't Dream.
Author: Raine    Date: 01/21/2008 13:46:14

Let us for today, remember all the work that Martin Luther King did. It was so much more than this speech. He worked to end poverty, to improve labor conditions to end the war. When he was murdered in 1968, he was in Memphis, supporting labour. He was calling for a radical redistribution of wealth in this country. he told the striking sanitation workers '"All labor has dignity, but you're doing another thing. You are reminding not only Memphis, but the nation that it is a crime for people to live in this rich nation and receive starvation wages."

Mr. King had been talking about injustice for a long time. From his Lettter from a Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963:
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

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218 comments (Latest Comment: 01/22/2008 04:37:38 by shelaghc)

An American Saga
Author: velveeta jones    Date: 01/20/2008 17:40:05

August 02, 2007
Dear Ms Jones * (*not my real name)
Thank you for selecting ________ Health Insurance. We appreciate the confidence you have expressed in our organization and consider every interaction an opportunity to exceed expectations and invite your ongoing critique of that objective.

Your new cards will be arriving shortly, and if you have any questions concerning your coverage, call our Customer Service Department at our toll free number ###-###-####. You may also visit us at ____________.com where you will find a variety of helpful information under the Member section.

Again, thanks for choosing __________ where Innovative Health Care is Designed Around You.

Paula Dixon
Individual Membership Administrator


From: Chris Cook
To: Velveeta Jones
Subject: Re: Why is my rate so damn high
Hey girl! I have spoken with Phil, my rep at ___________ to inquire about the rate. There may be some red flag from the medical survey, that's all I can figure out right now. Phil says he will be contacting you (or someone will be) to speak with you about the issue.

See you Saturday?

xxooxx (and to ________ as well)


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58 comments (Latest Comment: 01/21/2008 05:22:35 by livingonli)

Libertarian Saturday!
Author: TriSec    Date: 01/19/2008 11:25:54

Good Morning!

Well, if it's before 7am on a Saturday, that can only mean one thing. Your Loyal TriSec is off to donate platelets.
The separation of individual blood components is done with a specialized centrifuge (see apheresis). The earliest manual forms of plateletpheresis are done by the separation of platelets from multiple bags of whole blood collected from donors or blood sellers. Since each blood bag (usually 250 ml or 500 ml) contains a relatively small number of platelets, it can take as many as a dozen blood bags (usually from 5 to 10 bags, depending on the size of the blood bags and each donor's platelet count) to accumulate a single unit of platelets (enough for one patient). This greatly increases the risks of the transfusion. Each unit of platelets separated from donated whole blood is called a "platelet concentrate".

Modern automatic plateletpheresis allows the blood donor to give a portion of his platelets, while keeping his or her red blood cells and at least a portion of blood plasma. Therefore, no more than three units of platelets are generally harvested in any one sitting from a donor. Most donors will donate a "single" or "double" unit, however the occurence of "triples" has been increasing as more suitable donors are recruited.

Because platelets have a life-span of just 5 days, more platelet donors are always needed. Some centers are experimenting with 7 day platelets, but this requires additional testing and the lack of any preservative solutions means that the product is far more effective when fresh.

Even though red blood cells can also be collected in the process, most blood donation organizations do not do so because it takes much longer for the human body to replenish their loss. If the donor donates both red blood cells and platelets, it takes months, rather than days or weeks, before they are allowed to donate again (the guidelines regarding blood donation intervals are country-specific).

In most cases, blood plasma is returned to the donor as well. However, in locations that have plasma processing facilities, a part of the donor's plasma can also be collected in a separate blood bag (see plasmapheresis).

I've been a longtime blood donor, and was just starting on my fifth gallon when I switched over to platelets...if you're already donating, why not give it a try?

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44 comments (Latest Comment: 01/20/2008 19:13:01 by Raine)

A Reputation Tarnished
Author: BobR    Date: 01/18/2008 13:40:39

When I was young, we always believed that America had a sterling reputation. We were the shiny example of what a great country should be, with opportunity and freedom for everyone. We were the country that rode to the rescue of other countries, that supported the good guys and took on the bad guys. We were the silver in a world full of pewter.

My how times have changed. In the last 7 years we've gone from being the best friend to the bully. We've gone from being the possibility of hope to the prodigal son. We've gone from being the challenger of nations to the child in the corner.

By now, most of you have already heard that Canada - Canada - has put us in the same catagory as Syria and Iran (two countries that Bush refers to as evil) as "torturing" countries.
OTTAWA, Jan 17 (Reuters) - An official Canadian government document has put both the United States and Israel on a watch list of countries where prisoners run the risk of being tortured, CTV television reported on Thursday.

The revelation is likely to embarrass the minority Conservative government, which is a staunch U.S. ally.

The document mentions the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba where a Canadian man is being held. CTV said the document was part of a course on torture awareness given to Canadian diplomats to help them determine whether prisoners they visited abroad had been mistreated. It said the document mentioned U.S. interrogation techniques such as "forced nudity, isolation, and sleep deprivation."

Other countries on the watch list include Syria, China, Iran and Afghanistan, CTV said.

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127 comments (Latest Comment: 01/19/2008 13:44:21 by BobR)

Is it Raining?
Author: Raine    Date: 01/17/2008 13:39:05

"I would Gladly Pay you Tuesday for a Hamburger Today" J. Wellington Wimpy

The Wealthy may be next in line in U.S. home crisis.
The next wave of problems will come from prime borrowers who bought too much house or borrowed too much against it," said Michael van Zalingen, director of home ownership services at Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago. A "prime" borrower is one with good credit.

Real estate agents warn that some high-income borrowers have already been forced to sell or leave their homes and more will follow. Especially those who used their homes as ATMs, withdrawing cash via home equity loans.

"For those who utilized home equity loans for five to ten years to finance their lifestyle, the chickens are coming home to roost," said Chicago-based real estate agent Marki Lemons.

I beg to differ. These are not wealthy people as the title of this article states. These are upper middle class people, at best. Actually they really are middle class, living larger than they can.

When the Sub prime market bottomed out a few months ago, newspapers across the country, including our very own local paper, the AJC, were filled with reader comments saying that people who fall victim to these loans and lose their houses deserve what they get, many reasons were written but the basic idea was that they should not have spent money they didn't have or they didn't deserve a home if they had bad credit. The comments went even further with many people saying that the government should not do anything because so many people felt, as they sat back in their nice upper middle class swivel throne and wrote to the editors "I pay my bills on time, I have good credit, why should I bail them out?" "If you can't afford to pay, why buy a house?" or the best... "They should have known better." Typical republican thinking I thought, but I tried to see their POV. I tried. I couldn't.

Well now the market of those very people who sat in judgement of the Subprime loan victims are at the precipice. The middle class. No, these people are not wealthy. (Thom Hartmann has wonderful riffs on this issue a lot) They have extended credit lines that they now must repay... and they can't.
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100 comments (Latest Comment: 01/18/2008 03:10:43 by Mondobubba)

Just Drive, She Said
Author: BobR    Date: 01/16/2008 13:26:33

And then she told me "Just shut up
And keep your eyes on the road"
"And just drive," she said
- Stan Ridgway

As we continue to push mass transit as a big factor in our greenhouse gas equation, we fail to take into account our country's love of the automobile. It's not just that it's an expression of who we are - it's an expression of independence. It's the love of liberty (or the idea of liberty) that drives (sorry for the pun) our love for our cars. Since we will never be able to get rid of cars, we need to make them run as cleanly as possible. How do we make a perfect car?

First - let's start out with the current state of affairs. The most promising future seems to be the hybrid. It gets great gas mileage, and runs on gasoline - for which there is already an entrenched infrastructure for fuel distribution. What improvements can be made to this design?

One being considered by Toyota already is to use only the electric motor for the first 40 miles. This way no gasoline is used at all until the battery is discharged a certain amount. If this is combined with the ability to plug it in to recharge, it's possible the car would never burn gasoline at all for owners that have a shorter commute.

What other changes could be made to the hybrid? Two immediate changes come to mind:
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203 comments (Latest Comment: 01/17/2008 04:07:37 by livingonli)

Ask a Vet
Author: TriSec    Date: 01/15/2008 11:52:53

I yield the floor today to the Honorable Dr. Martin Luther King. Although he gave the following speech almost 41 years ago, he could just as easily give it today. Only the locations have changed.

Beyond Vietnam -- A Time to Break Silence

...The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.

And some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation's history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movements and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: "Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King?" "Why are you joining the voices of dissent?" "Peace and civil rights don't mix," they say. "Aren't you hurting the cause of your people," they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live....

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196 comments (Latest Comment: 01/16/2008 05:44:58 by livingonli)

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