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Larry Craig is gay!!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"I'm not gay, I'm not gay, I'm not gay!" That was Sen. Larry Craig yesterday, trying to explain how he got caught trying to pick up an undercover cop in Minneapolis. Well I got news for Sen. Craig...when you're in a men's room, grabbing the junk of another man...YOU'RE GAY!!!! You're not testing the waters, or making a mistake. You're a 100% fellatio having homosexual! Get over it you republican douche-bag. Your a fag! Get used to it!

When are these pea-brained, right-wing, fascist, homophobes going to wake up and realize that there's nothing evil about being gay. While most gay men are not cruising the airport toilets for tricks, some do. However, that's a rookie mistake. Sen. Craig would have been much better off at the public library in DuPont Circle, or Union Station. Poor Sen. Craig, he now has to face the reality that he's one of "those people" that he's shit on for the past 60 years.

Toronto Star
http://www.thestar.com/News/article/250880

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Message from Sen. Ken Salazar re: Trade Promotion Authority

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Thank you for contacting me regarding Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). I appreciate hearing from you.

As you know, TPA, also known as "fast-track" authority, provides the Executive Branch with flexibility to negotiate trade agreements with other countries and to have those agreements considered by Congress under expedited procedures that do not allow for amendments, and that require only a simple majority for final approval. Although the Constitution gives Congress – and not the President – authority over international trade, Congress periodically delegates some of that authority to the Executive Branch in order to allow more efficient and effective trade negotiations with other nations.

The TPA framework that Congress passed in 2002 expired on July 1. Since Congress has yet to extend or renew TPA, the authority that Congress grants the President to enter into certain trade agreements, as well as the ability of Congress to consider legislation to implement those agreements under expedited procedures, has ceased. However, because they were completed before TPA expired, pending trade agreements with Peru, Panama, Colombia, and Korea can still be considered under TPA's expedited procedures. Once the President sends legislation to implement those agreements to Congress, the House and Senate will have 90 days to consider the proposal and bring it up for a vote.

I certainly understand concerns about how unfair competition from abroad can threaten the viability of American producers. I also believe that trade agreements must place American workers on a fair and level playing field with those working in other countries. Please be assured that I will keep your views in mind when Congress considers extension or renewal of TPA, and that I am committed to fighting for a trade negotiation framework that gives our nation the tools it needs to reap the benefits of free trade, while ensuring a level playing field for American businesses and workers.

Thank you again for contacting me.

Sincerely,

Ken Salazar
United States Senator

Please do not respond to this email. To send another message please visit my website at http://salazar.senate.gov/contact/email.cfm and fill out the webform for a prompt response. Thank you.

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Message from Sen. Ken Salazar re: Complex 2030 and Nuclear Weapons

Thank you for contacting me regarding Complex 2030 and the Reliable Replacement Warhead. I appreciate hearing from you.

I share your concerns regarding the proliferation of nuclear weapons. However, the goal of Complex 2030 and the Reliable Replacement Warhead program that it encompasses is a decreased U.S. nuclear arsenal. President Bush has called for our nuclear stockpile to be reduced by nearly 50% by 2012.

Under Complex 2030, these decreases, coupled with technological improvements are aimed at maintaining a smaller, safer, more secure stockpile, with assured reliability over the long term.

Moreover, this increase in long-term reliability will ideally be accompanied by a correspondingly reduced necessity of future nuclear testing. As you may know, the U.S. has had a moratorium on nuclear testing since 1992. The RRW program would utilize new-design replacement warheads that will be easier to manufacture and certify without nuclear testing.

The RRW program was first funded by Congress in Fiscal Year 2005, and President Bush has requested $89 million for it for FY 2008.

Please be assured that I will keep your thoughts in mind as the Congressional appropriations process moves forward.

Again, thank you for contacting me.

Sincerely,

Ken Salazar
United States Senator

Please do not respond to this email. To send another message please visit my website at http://salazar.senate.gov/contact/email.cfm and fill out the webform for a prompt response. Thank you.

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A Message from Senator Ken Salazar re: The War in Iraq

Thank you for your thoughtful comments regarding the war in Iraq. I appreciate the opportunity to respond.

U.S. forces have now been in Iraq for over four years. I have strongly disagreed with the manner in which this war has been managed by the Bush Administration. However, I also believe we owe it to both the Iraqi people and our troops to continue working toward stabilizing the country. At the same time, Americans and Iraqis need to recognize that the U.S. military presence will not continue indefinitely.

Recently, the Senate voted on whether to consider an amendment, introduced by Senators Levin and Reed, to the Department of Defense Appropriations Bill that would have changed direction in Iraq by requiring the President to begin reducing the number of American troops in Iraq within four months after enactment. In addition, it would require transitioning the mission of our remaining military forces to force protection, training of Iraqi Security Forces, and targeted counter-terrorism missions. This amendment failed 52-47 on a procedural vote that required the support of 60 Senators. I voted in favor of allowing a vote on this amendment because it is imperative to find an immediate solution in Iraq that creates a diplomatic, economic and military road map to end American combat operations in Iraq.

In support of this approach, I recently introduced a bill called the "Iraq Study Group (ISG) Recommendations Implementation Act of 2007." This bipartisan legislation puts forth a comprehensive military, political, economic and diplomatic strategy to transition the United States' mission from one of combat to support. It was developed in consultation with the co-chairs of the ISG, Secretary of State James A. Baker, III and Congressman Lee H. Hamilton.

The group of ten that comprised the Iraq Study Group came from disparate political parties, professions, and worldviews. They consulted with nearly 200 leading officials and experts including senior members of the Government of Iraq, the United States Government and key coalition partners, and they received advice from more than 50 distinguished scholars and experts from a variety of fields.

In the end, I sincerely hope that we can all join together in this effort to support our troops by bringing them home safely to their families and loved ones.

Again, thank you for writing.

Sincerely,

Ken Salazar
United States Senator

Please do not respond to this email. To send another message please visit my website at http://salazar.senate.gov/contact/email.cfm and fill out the webform for a prompt response. Thank you.

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That about says it all...

Here's a wonderful rant from www.presidentbushisafuckingmoron.com

Ok, enough pussyfooting around. George W. Bush, our President, Commander in Chief, and the head honcho of the Republic Party, is a fucking moron. Calling this asshole “dumb as a stump” is an insult to trees. He’s so dense, his skull has an event horizon.

Never mind crime, this sucker’s soft on smart.

I know – big newsflash – and yet every time this nimrod makes a speech (we are seriously stretching the definition of that word right there) all the newscasters put on their furrowed-eyebrow faces and act like they’re parsing Churchill and not Mr. fucking Magoo. Hello? What kind of Pravda-ass bullshit is that?

And, if I could have a word with the speech writers for just a minute: When you’re writing for someone who barely puts any downward force on his brainpan, you gotta use the small words so he doesn’t get that confused look on his face, like Helen Thomas just asked him if the Sunni Triangle is stabilizing and he's trying to recall the correct pronunciation of “isosceles”.

Starting off the State of the Union with “This rite of custom brings us together at a defining hour...” ? Come on, that’s not even giving him a fighting chance. Might as well just switch off the teleprompters and have him ad lib something about French existentialism.

Oh, but that speakin’ stuff don’t matter because he connects with the people with his down home manner and Southern charm, right? Honey, please. Bush is Southern like Tom Cruise is stable. Y’all think back now: when baby Bush needed an education, daddy didn’t send that sucker to SMU, did he? No, he brought his silver-spooner home to New England for the rich kid treatment. Let’s see… Phillips Academy, Yale, and Harvard. There are winners in the Westminster Kennel Club less pedigreed than this bitch.

Sorry — what were we talking about? Oh yeah, the fabulous State of our Union. The one where our “economy is on the move” - like a drunk cow going up the down escalator on rollerskates. Yes - things sure look rosey here in the fucking US of AA, especially when they mount those goal posts on conveyor belts and press “reverse.”

And could the Decider be more confused about his own education policy? Not to nitpick, but saying No Child Left Behind preserves local control is like telling an engineer he can take his train anywhere he likes; those rails are just guidelines. But as long as those little whipper snappers are learnin’ more, we could cut him a little slack. Except, they’re not doing any better than they were before this brainiac decided that the way to improve test scores was to give more tests.

Not to worry, though, our kids are in for plenty of math lessons in the next few months. If two trains leave stations 6211 miles apart traveling at the speed of sound, how long will it take for the First Infantry Division to find out their Commander in Chief plans to cut Veterans health care funding by thirteen percent? Stumped? Maybe it's because he’s cutting education by seventeen percent.

And speaking of cuts, here’s a plan we didn’t hear from El Presidente: roll back just one third of the tax cuts Bush wants to make permanent and we can keep Social Security running for another seventy five years. I know, I know, taxes bad!, but the veterans of Gulf War VII will be so thrilled when their monthly checks kick in right on time in 2082.

And then there’s this meathead’s genius plan to stem the tide of immigration into the country of immigrants. A wall. I think I know where you can find some big green sheets of copper to build that sucker with. That French bitch isn’t really using them anymore, and what’s with that big book she’s carrying, anyway? Filled with facts, I betcha. Tear that mother down and let’s get a-buildin’.

Speaking of facts, didn’t anyone notice that in the last twenty years we’ve tripled our spending on border security, and in that same time, illegal immigration has... wait for it... tripled. So maybe a bigger wall isn’t gonna do the trick. How about that other bit, the temporary worker plan? Where instead of shipping our jobs overseas, we’ll import workers to do our jobs here. For a while, at least, and then when we wear them out we’ll send them home and get new ones. Guaranteed fresh immigrants! Do you think we can get them in fashion colors? I feel like we've been stuck in shades of brown for like, 58 seasons in a row.

And then, as if that wasn’t enough of a fuck you to foreigners, we’re gonna start recruiting soldiers south of the border? No need to clean our toilets and change our diapers, now all you gotta do is dodge roadside bombs and kill a few natives and, if you survive, well, welcome to your new country! America! Land of the free, home of the... what’s with the sitting down? Up and at ’em, amigo, time for another tour of Baghdad.

Or Tehran, perhaps? You didn’t think Bush put a Navy flier in charge of the Middle East military in order to fight a ground war in Iraq, did you? He’s dumb, but he understands the difference between land, air and sea. Or someone in the White House does, hopefully. No, the extra aircraft carrier arriving in the Gulf is there to provide the Navy’s new no-stop service to Iran’s many secret nuclear attractions. What’s that? The CIA says there aren’t any secret nuclear sites?

But then why the fuck is Ahmedinigalechadian putting on this big show, parading around with a teaspoon-full of glowing goo? I know this is going to come as a shock to some Americans, so grab hold of your seats: Maybe, just maybe, this show isn’t for you. I know, wacky, huh? Who else would Amedinglachead be trying to reach when he goes on Channel Ten Tehran: Live, Local and Lead-lined? Iranians? Couldn’t be.

Fucking Iranians. Why do they have to be so irrational? Why couldn’t they just sit down and write us a nice note, promising to allow inspections of their nuclear facilities and end their support for Lebanese and Palestinian militants. Life would be so much easier if they’d just act like they did four years ago when they wrote that exact fucking letter. They even threw in helping us stabilize Iraq - like we’d ever need help with that.

Didn’t hear about that little bit of correspondence the Iranians sent to Cheney, did you? The one that’s pretty much exactly what we’re asking for now? What the fuck else was he holding out for? An offer to host Yom Kippur services next year?

You’d have to be a serious fucking optimist to call Dick Cheney a half-wit. The only reason this asshole’s on the transplant list for a heart and not a brain is that his health plan requires proof of a trade-in before they’ll schedule surgery.

It’s about time someone took Dick Cheney’s self-righteous smirk and shoved it up his undisclosed location. You know the look - the one where he pretends that anyone opposed to his policies is just sadly misinformed, right before he tells us, smack-dab in the middle of the deadliest month in Iraq so far, that we’re doing “remarkably well.” Remarkably well? Note to Lynne Cheney: if Dick ever tells you your hair looks nice, double check to make sure its not on fire.

And then, as if he thought we'd forget who the biggest dickhead in the White House was after watching Bush stumble through the State of the Union, Cheney wanders into the Situation Room and tells us that any talk of blunders in Iraq is just hogwash.

Sweet Jesus, this asshole’s got more nerve than Mel Gibson at a Manishevitz tasting.

And, I don’t mean to be petty, but do you think the Vice President could have put off the noshing until after his hand puppet finished flapping his jaw? I shit you not - check the YouTubes. Right around the time George tried to tell us how lucky we are that our health care plans are gonna be taxed, Dick forgot he was on national television and decided it was time for a Mentos. This guy is pissed that we can’t be more patient while he sends our kids out to play a deadly game of Where’s Waldo in Baghdad, and he can’t make it twenty minutes without a fucking snack?

See, the Vice President isn’t some hard-nosed warrior, he’s a fucking pussy. We’re just not allowed to point that out that because the script says Democrats are Alan Alda and Republicans are fucking Rambo. Which, come to think of it, is pretty fucking accurate, since Hawkeye actually went to war, and Sylvester dodged the draft, just like Cheney. And Bush. And Karl Rove. And John Ashcroft. And Bill O’Reilly. And Newt Gingrich. And Paul Wolfowitz. And fucking Ted Nugent. Jesus Christ on a cracker — did the draft boards have some sort of dickhead deferment that no one told us about?

Only someone whose combat experience begins and ends with boxes labeled “appropriate for ages 8 to 12” would be pushing this brilliant surge business. Hell, even the dynamic duo that came up with this plan in the first place are quietly backing away from the White House at this point. If those guys think you’re fucked, honey child, you are fucked.

Do you think maybe we could leave the war planning up to people whose experience in the theater of war extends beyond the fucking Loew’s Multiplex? No, no — by all means, what’s your big plan this time?

“To win the war on terror we must take the fight to the enemy.” Or, if we can’t manage to find the enemy, we can always set out the milk and cookies and find him some new recruits. Wasn’t that a lesson from The Art of War? “If you can’t find your enemy where they are, make new ones where you are. And then alienate the locals and ignore your generals. This is a clear path to victory. But it is a path that runs through a forest of failure, and you may not recognize all the glorious triumph because it will look a lot like a deep, deep chasm of defeat. But trust me, this is an excellent way to win a war. In space. Did I mention it only works in space?”

And can someone please give this asshole a refresher course in cause and effect? “In recent times, it has also become clear that we face an escalating danger from Shia extremists.” Yeah, geez, those Shia extremists just came out of fucking no where. I wonder if they’re still pissed that your daddy got distracted after he suggested they rise up against Saddam? Guys, its been over a decade since we let Saddam fly his helicopter gunships into our special “no-fly zones” and massacre men, women and children by the tens of thousands — let it go. We don’t hold the fact that you were born on top of our oil against you, do we?

And how did those Shia extremists get so... extreme, anyway? Death squads, torture, bodies piling up in the morgues... those guys are as sick as those lunatics back in Honduras, or Nicaragua, or Vietn... waitaminute. That sounds a lot like the resume of the assholes we sent over to Iraq right before the death squads showed up. If we’re the ones training the police, and the death squads keep showing up in police uniforms, what are the chances that we’re training the death squads that have turned Baghdad into a fucking inferno?

And now we’re going to send even more of our soldiers into that mess? That, right there, is a kick-ass plan. What you really want to add to a zebra stampede is more referees. The surprising thing about this insurgency, or ideological struggle, or philosophical debate with fucking grenade launchers or whatever we’re calling it this week isn’t that we’re losing – no, the surprising thing is that we’re doing so well.

Long War my ass. This is the fucking Long Defeat.

Meanwhile, our President can’t keep track of who’s got the upper hand in this fight. “The enemy knows that the days of comfortable sanctuary, easy movement, steady financing, and free-flowing communications are long over.” Dude - you left off “for us” at the end there. And “Take almost any principle of civilization, and their goal is the opposite.” Like, say, the right of habeas corpus?

Oh right, we never actually had that right, right? Not according to your Attorney General, Slippery Gonzalez. “The Constitution doesn’t say that every individual in the United States or every citizen has or is assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn’t say that. It simply says that the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended.” Who’d have thought we’d be waxing nostalgic for the liberty-loving ways of Honest Ashcroft so soon?

Just when you think these assholes can’t sink any lower, they bring in the new blood and start drawing up plans for circles that never even occurred to Dante.

And if I hear one more Republican hack trot out this “If you don’t like the President’s plan, let’s hear yours” line I’m gonna have a fucking aneurism. First off, “More” is not a plan. And second, we’re fucking lousy with plans over here. Do you get the feeling that if Moses came down with a couple tablets-ful of battle plans, Cheney would start questioning the Almighty’s loyalty to the ol’ red white and blue?

Maybe that’s why Bush chose a new finale of his Fate of the Union. No twanging “America” on his signature sign-off? Just, “God Bless...” as his big finish? Like Tiny Tim, but lamer.

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Truly Awesome!

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'RED' STATE BAITING

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Clinton Trip Aims to Prove She Can Go Home Again

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has been embracing the role of partisan warrior recently. She has an ad out in Iowa that says ordinary people are "invisible to this president," and during Sunday's debate in Des Moines she noted that she has been fighting against the Republican attack machine for "longer than anybody else up here."

But can Clinton -- whose biggest political problem is the perception that she's "polarizing" -- really afford to be on the attack all the time?

Apparently not. Yesterday, she traveled to Arkansas for an endorsement by the Democratic governor of the state , which voted for Bush in the past two election cycles. She was welcomed to Arkansas by three of the state's Democratic members of Congress and Sen. Mark Pryor, who have all endorsed her, according to the campaign.

Her advisers held up the endorsement trip back to her former home state as proof that Clinton can win support in "red" (Republican) states, making her as viable a general-election candidate as anyone else in the race -- especially Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), whose soothing bipartisan tone has been a hallmark of his campaign.

-- Anne E. Kornblut

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AND NUNN FOR ALL

Former Georgia Senator Mulls Bid With Unity08

Former senator Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) has expressed interest in a presidential bid and is now one of 50 people who have discussed a bipartisan or independent presidential run with Unity08, a group founded by Democratic and Republican strategists who believe the two-party system is not helping to address the country's most important problems.

Doug Bailey, a GOP political strategist and adviser to President Gerald Ford who is one of the group's founders, said he and other officials of the group met recently with Nunn. Nunn, who is best known for his work on nuclear non-proliferation, served in the Senate from 1972 through 1996 and now runs an organization called the Nuclear Threat Initiative. He was out of the country yesterday and could not be reached to comment, but he told the Atlanta Journal Constitution in an article published on Sund ay that a presidential run "is a possibility, not a probability."

"My own thinking is it may be a time for the country to say 'Timeout.' The two-party system has served us well, historically, but it's not serving us now," Nunn, 68 told the newspaper.

Nunn would be a surprising Unity08 candidate both because of his longstanding ties to the Democratic Party and the fact that stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, his signature issue, is already represented -- or at least nearly represented -- in the 2008 race by Fred Thompson. The former senator from Tennessee, "Law & Order" TV star and all-but-certain GOP candidate even played the part of the president in a 2005 movie produced by Nunn's nuclear institute called "Last Best Chance," in which terrorists try to obtain materials for nuclear weapons. ("A wake-up call for America and the world," 9/11 commission heads Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton said of the movie.)

Nunn is not the only potential office-seeker to have met with Unity08. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) is one of several dozen would-be candidates whom the group has briefed about the mechanics of running outside of the two-party structure.

While the group so far hasn't wooed the millions of supporters it wants, it does have a few high-profile allies, including its own "Law & Order" star power. Sam Waterston, who played Jack McCoy to Fred Thompson's Arthur Branch, is listed as a Unity08 supporter.

-- Perry Bacon Jr.

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Thompson Already in Race, Blogger Complains to FEC

Tuesday, August 21, 2007; A03

NOT AN ACT

Thompson Already in Race, Blogger Complains to FEC

Fred Thompson has been "testing the waters" for weeks, operating officially as a non-candidate but seeming very candidate-like indeed. Trips to New Hampshire. Speeches. Even a howdy at the Iowa State Fair. Now it may have caught up to him.

Lane Hudson, the former Democratic staffer who posted the e-mails that led to Florida Republican congressman Mark Foley's scandal-ridden resignation, said yesterday that he has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that Thompson is "ignoring the letter and spirit" of the law.

The complaint argues that Thompson is running a full-blown campaign and should be held to the same regulations as the other candidates.

"He has been presenting himself as a candidate for President, he has been raising large sums of money beyond what would be required to explore a possible candidacy," Hudson wrote on a new blog, newsfortheleft.blogspot.com.

Thompson has said consistently that he has not made up his mind to run for president this year. At events, he often says that he is "testing the water, and the water's warm." It appears that he is preparing to announce officially during the first week of September, though dates of his announcement have come and gone before. Jim Mills, a Thompson spokesman, said, "We're following the law."

Bob Biersack, a spokesman for the FEC, said the agency has received the complaint. Under FEC rules, Thompson has 15 days to respond.

By then, though, he may already be a candidate.

-- Michael D. Shear

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Message from Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) re: Global Warming

Friday, August 17, 2007

August 17, 2007

Dear Bret,

Thank you for contacting me about the threat of global warming. I appreciate hearing from you on such an important issue because it enables me to better represent the beliefs and values of our district.

Like you I, too, am concerned about the climate changes resulting from global warming. Congress should act to significantly reduce this serious threat to our planet by passing legislation that promotes energy efficiency measures and decreases our dependence on fossil fuels. Congress recently took an important first step by passing the bi-partisan Clean Energy Act of 2007, which increases the level of renewable energy development but there is still more work to do. You can rest assured that I will continue to work with my colleagues to reduce the threat of global warming and increase our commitment to renewable energy technologies.

Once again thanks for writing. I encourage you to continue to contact me about issues that are important to you.

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Message from Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) re: Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007

August 17, 2007

Dear Bret,

Thank you for contacting me about the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007. I appreciate hearing from you on such an important issue because it enables me to better represent the beliefs and values of our district.

I believe our citizens deserve to have full confidence that their votes will be counted in our election process. After the events that occurred in the Florida 2000 election, I understand and I am mindful of your concerns that there is a need for a verifiable record source to ensure accuracy in counting the votes. Please rest assured, I am closely reviewing this legislation and will keep your views in mind should it reach the House floor for a vote.

Once again thanks for writing. I encourage you to continue to contact me about issues that are important to you.

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Message from Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) re: "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

August 17, 2007

Dear Bret,

Thank you for contacting me about our military's current "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. I appreciate hearing from you on such an important issue because it enables me to better represent the beliefs and values of our district.

Our nation's security at home and abroad must be our highest priority. As it is currently written, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy has had an effect on our already stretched-thin military during this crucial time. Please rest assured, I am currently reviewing the policy options to address this shortage in our armed forces and will keep your views in mind should a bill pertaining to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy reach the House floor.

I encourage you to continue to contact me about the issues that are important to you. Please visit our website www.perlmutter.house.gov where you can also sign up for my electronic newsletter, and receive periodic updates on my activities as your Representative in Washington.

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Message from Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) re: ADA Restoration Act

Dear Bret,

Thank you for contacting me about the Americans with Disabilities Restoration Act. I appreciate hearing from you on such an important issue because it enables me to better represent the beliefs and values of our district.

I, too, agree that individuals with chronic illnesses deserve to be protected from discrimination. That is why I am an original cosponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Restoration Act. The ADA has helped ensure that Americans with disabilities no longer live in isolation but rather live as independent, self-sufficient members of our community. I believe it is time for Congress to require the courts to focus on whether a person has experienced discrimination "on the basis of disability" rather than requiring individuals with disabilities to first show they are substantially limited in some major life activity. It is in our nation's best interest to adhere to a consistent, unambiguous and enforceable law when addressing issues of discrimination for persons with medical conditions such as epilepsy and diabetes.

I encourage you to continue to contact me about the issues that are important to you. Please visit our website www.perlmutter.house.gov where you can also sign up for my electronic newsletter and receive periodic updates on my activities as your Representative in Washington.

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A Message from Senator Ken Salazar re: Sudan

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dear :

Thank you for contacting me with regard to S.831, the Sudan Divestment Authorization Act. I appreciate hearing from you.

It is my strong conviction that the genocide in Sudan's Darfur region must end, and it must end now. I am absolutely committed to doing everything I can as a U.S. Senator to stop the killing and ensure that this genocide becomes the world's last. Toward this end, I supported S.Res.276, which passed the Senate unanimously on July 31. This resolution calls for the U.S. and the international community to raise the forces and contribute the air and ground vehicles and equipment that is needed. In addition, the resolution stresses the need for high level diplomacy to forge a comprehensive peace settlement. In the event that Khartoum does not stand by its commitments, the resolution calls for meaningful measures, including no-fly zones and multilateral sanctions.

Moreover, I have signed on as a co-sponsor of the Sudan Divestment Authorization Act. If enacted, S.831 would authorize any state to adopt measures to prohibit any investment of state assets in the Government of Sudan, or in any company with a qualifying business relationship with Sudan, during any period in which the Government of Sudan and its officials are subject to international sanctions authorized under the Sudan Peace Act. I believe this legislation would intensify the pressure on the Sudanese government to put an immediate end to their deplorable human rights abuses, and I share your hope that it becomes law.

I have also signed on to a bi-partisan letter to President Bush calling for a permanent UN representative to be stationed in Khartoum and report directly to the US Secretary General. In my view, putting more UN personnel on the ground in the Sudanese capital will provide for more accountability and demonstrate the world's commitment to securing a lasting peace in Darfur and throughout Sudan.

Again, thank you for taking the time to share your views.

Sincerely,

Ken Salazar
United States Senator

Please do not respond to this email. To send another message please visit my website at http://salazar.senate.gov/contact/email.cfm and fill out the webform for a prompt response. Thank you.

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John Edwards on Logo

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

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Barrak Obama on Logo

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Rove to resign

Monday, August 13, 2007




Top White House aide Rove resigns
Top White House aide Karl Rove, seen by many as the brains behind George W Bush's presidency, has said he will resign at the end of August.

"I just think it's time," Mr Rove said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, adding that he was quitting for the sake of his family.

Mr Rove has worked with Mr Bush since 1993 when he ran for Texas governor.

As Mr Bush's chief strategist, he is seen as instrumental in delivering election victories in 2000 and 2004.

There's always something that can keep you here, and as much as I'd like to be here, I've got to do this for the sake of my family
Karl Rove
For this he is highly regarded by Republicans, but at the same time equally reviled by Democrats.

"Obviously, it's a big loss to us," White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino told the Associated Press news agency. "He's a great colleague, a good friend, and a brilliant mind. He will be greatly missed."

"He will continue to be one of the president's greatest friends," she added.

Delayed departure

Mr Rove has been accused of underhand political tactics since his teenage years.

As a student, he invited Chicago vagrants to turn up for free beer at a plush reception for a Democrat state candidate - an incident he later described as a "youthful prank" that he regretted.

He has continued to be dogged by controversy.

Last month, the US Senate issued a subpoena against him as part of an investigation into the sacking of eight federal prosecutors, but Mr Bush ordered him not to testify, citing executive privilege.

Mr Rove was also investigated in connection with the exposure of CIA agent Valerie Plame, though prosecutors decided he should not face any charges.

Mr Rove told the Wall Street Journal that he had first floated the idea of leaving last year, but had delayed his departure when the Democrats took control of Congress.

He said he took a final decision to leave after White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten told aides that if they stayed after the end of August they would be obliged to stay in the administration until Mr Bush's own departure in January 2009.

"There's always something that can keep you here, and as much as I'd like to be here, I've got to do this for the sake of my family," he said.

He said he expected Mr Bush's current poor ratings to improve, and that conditions in Iraq would get better as the military surge continued.

A Republican had a good chance of winning the 2008 presidential election, he said, because Democrats would choose the "fatally flawed" Hillary Clinton as their candidate.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/americas/6943814.stm

Published: 2007/08/13 11:54:47 GMT

© BBC MMVII

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A new way to handle crime

Maybe this is how cities should handle crime from now on. Personally, this is brilliant!

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Truer words were never written

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Target and Wal-Mart try to get green

Major retailers find good things come from greener packaging

This past month, a small change swept through the consumer electronics department at Target stores: iPod carrying cases came wrapped in cardboard. The seemingly irrelevant change -- when coupled with new packaging on several hundred other items -- adds up to a significant environmental impact that critics charge is long overdue.

By Chris Serres, Star Tribune
Last update: August 05, 2007 – 8:39 PM

This past month, a small change swept through the consumer electronics department at Target stores: iPod carrying cases came wrapped in cardboard. The seemingly irrelevant change -- when coupled with new packaging on several hundred other items -- adds up to a significant environmental impact that critics charge is long overdue.

Previously, iPod carrying cases came wrapped in two pieces of plastic bonded together. But earlier this year, Target, based in Minneapolis, decided this tough-to-open package -- known as a clamshell -- was a waste.

Worse still, it was made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which contains chemicals linked to cancer and other serious health problems.

So with the force of a retailer with 1,500 stores and $60 billion in annual sales, Target asked its packaging vendor to replace the clamshell with a recyclable cardboard package with a small plastic window. This single change will prevent an estimated 5,000 pounds of PVC from entering landfills each year.

For decades, big-box retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart Stores have used their extraordinary size to squeeze lower prices from suppliers, which have a vested interest in keeping them happy.

However, in a recent shift, they are exerting this power to eliminate oversized and over-wrapped packaging for their private-label products. As a result, everything from laundry detergent to cardboard boxes used for shipping cereal are shrinking in size. In some cases, environmentally harmful PVC packages have been replaced with recyclable material; in other cases, the packaging has been eliminated entirely.

About 18 months ago, Target pushed its seven private-label packaging companies to get rid of excess wraps. The result: Packages for more than 500 items, from dog leashes to toy rocket launchers, have been redesigned to be less harmful to the environment. In about 100 instances, PVC plastic was eliminated from private-label packages.

Wal-Mart has gone further. The retail giant based in Bentonville, Ark., has pledged to eliminate all private-label PVC packaging by 2009. The company also has set a goal of producing "zero waste" by 2025; which means that, through recycling and packaging reduction, Wal-Mart will eliminate all waste flowing through its stores and offices.

These commitments are not without substance. Containers and packaging account for approximately 32 percent of the waste that ends up in the nation's landfills, according to a 2003 report by the Environmental Protection Agency. A large portion of that waste comes from products sold at Target and Wal-Mart, which together account for more than 10 percent of retail sales in the United States, excluding autos.

According to Charles Fishman, author of a book on Wal-Mart, "hundreds of acres of trees have not fallen" in part because of Wal-Mart's decision in the early 1990s to eliminate cardboard containers for deodorant, which have now universally disappeared.

"What their efforts show is that the environmental benefits of even small changes to packages can add up pretty quickly," said Gwen Ruta, director of corporate partnerships with Environmental Defense, which is working with Wal-Mart on its packaging.

Although environmentalists generally applaud the changes, they want more. They want the companies to put more pressure on consumer products companies, such as Procter & Gamble and General Mills, to reduce the size of their packaging.

More than 60 health and environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, last year called on Target to phase out PVC in its private-label products and packaging. Others, such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, want Wal-Mart and Target to assert greater scrutiny over the chemicals used by foreign packaging manufacturers.

Drive farther to get it

But there are others who see the recent flurry of eco-friendly packaging initiatives as a public relations effort designed to divert consumers' attention from the greenhouse gases and other harmful environmental effects created by big-box retailing.

"Retailers like Target and Wal-Mart have conditioned people to make these big, weekly shopping trips, and that's vastly increased the amount of pollution associated with shopping," said Stacy Mitchell, author of a book on big-box retailers and senior researcher at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in Minneapolis.

From 1990 to 2001, the number of miles that the average American household drove each year for shopping grew by more than 40 percent, according to the Department of Transportation. In 2001, Americans drove more than 330 billion miles going to and from stores, generating about 140 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Wal-Mart in 2005 produced as much carbon dioxide -- 15.3 million metric tons, according to a company report -- as 625,000 households, according to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

And while both retailers have taken steps to reduce PVC in their packaging, they still trail European retailers. Ikea, for instance, phased out all PVC in its products and packaging 10 years ago. Marks & Spencer, the largest clothing retailer in the United Kingdom, replaced all PVC in its packaging in 2002.

The Center for Health, Environment and Justice in New York said it recently found PVC in 71 product packages at Target, including 14 private-label ones. The group organized a May campaign, which included taking out an ad in USA Today, to protest Target's use of PVC in packaging.

John Butcher, director of packaging at Target, said many of its products are manufactured in areas of the world where alternatives to PVC are in short supply.

"I'd love to just snap my fingers and say we've enhanced thousands of items overnight," he said. "But this process takes time."

Packaging scorecard

Critics note both companies can see huge benefits -- on the bottom line and in their public relations. Smaller containers cut down on shipping costs and shelf space, while boosting their image at a time when their labor practices and aggressive expansion have come under criticism.

Wal-Mart, for instance, estimates it saved 1,000 barrels of oil and $3.5 million in transportation costs in 2005 by making the packages smaller within its Kids Connection toy line. Wal-Mart also worked with General Mills to create a cardboard shipping case that has a window, which has 25 percent less cardboard and weighs less.

In November, Wal-Mart introduced a "packaging scorecard" for all of its 60,000 suppliers. The scorecard asks vendors to list the amount of renewable energy used to make their packaging, the greenhouse gas emissions related to its construction, along with other information. This February, buyers at Wal-Mart will began compiling data from these scorecards and use it in their purchasing decisions.

Though skeptical, some large environmental groups have begun working with Wal-Mart on its packaging initiatives. "The fact is, you can't not deal with the environmental impacts of the largest business enterprise in human history," said Jon Coifman, a spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"Wal-Mart's not going away, so you might as well be part of the solution."

Chris Serres • 612-673-4308 • cserres@startribune.com

VINYL CHLORIDE

The EPA has classified vinyl chloride, the key building block of PVC, as a known human carcinogen. Breathing vinyl chloride over long periods of time can result in permanent liver damage, nerve damage and liver cancer. Studies suggest that infants and young children might be more susceptible than adults to vinyl chloride-induced cancer.

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FISA courts dismantled just in time

Sunday, August 12, 2007

August 12, 2007

What if you or I could secretly commit crimes against our fellow citizens, bury the evidence of the crime by stamping it "TOP SECRET," refuse to answer questions when we are accused of committing the crime, and then, before we can be prosecuted for the crime, we can make a law that says the crime we committed is no longer a crime. And then call ourselves heroes.

Welcome to the New America.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act has required, since 1978, that government agents obtain a warrant before spying on Americans. A special system of courts was set up to hear the reasons such spying was necessary, with judges granting the warrants under rather lenient conditions. The feds were allowed, when granted a warrant, to listen in on international phone calls; a later provision included electronic communications: It was simple accountability, based on the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

One week ago, the FISA court system was effectively set aside by your president and his sneaky administration, in the name of keeping you safe.

Bush's National Security Administration was accused in 2005 of listening in on the international calls of Americans, without getting warrants first. Two American attorneys for an Islamic charity organization have since sued the administration, armed with a log of their calls -- inadvertently released and copied -- despite the TOP SECRET stamp on every page. Their case is to be heard in federal court in San Francisco on Aug. 15.

What to do? The Bush administration had asked the court to dismiss the case altogether, then claimed it could not defend itself in such a lawsuit, because to do so, it would have to give up information that would threaten national security. In the New America, there seems to be no constitutional tromping that cannot be justified in the name of national security.

But, just a nose ahead of the first serious legal challenge to the NSA's spying program, Bush signed a law on Aug. 5 that revamps the NSA program, broadening the spy scope, making it all legal.

The handy new law allows international surveillance by means of fiber optic cable -- the medium of most international communication today -- and best of all, without a warrant. Who needs the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act?

It was a tricky move. The FISA law had not yet caught up with technology. But suddenly, it was a matter of great urgency, even though the administration had been stretching the spirit of the law and abusing advances in technology to get around the letter of the law, for years. These acrobatics will no longer be necessary.

The FISA courts have been stripped of any real oversight; the attorney general and the director of national intelligence will now approve international surveillance. There will be no examining of the individuals being spied upon, to decide if the surveillance is reasonable. Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell called it "modernizing" FISA, and graciously submitted to post-surveillance "reviews."

McConnell assures us the new law's targets will be foreigners, not Americans.

So, relax. You can trust the Administration of the Freely Reigning Executive never to abuse or stretch the limits of its power. Or, you can stay off the phone with your friends overseas.

Daily Southtown columnist Marlene Lang can be reached at blackbirdlang@yahoo.com

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US Troops need a rest

Fatigue cripples US army in Iraq
Exhaustion and combat stress are besieging US troops in Iraq as they battle with a new type of warfare. Some even rely on Red Bull to get through the day. As desertions and absences increase, the military is struggling to cope with the crisis

Peter Beaumont in Baghdad
Sunday August 12, 2007

The Observer Lieutenant Clay Hanna looks sick and white. Like his colleagues he does not seem to sleep. Hanna says he catches up by napping on a cot between operations in the command centre, amid the noise of radio. He is up at 6am and tries to go to sleep by 2am or 3am. But there are operations to go on, planning to be done and after-action reports that need to be written. And war interposes its own deadly agenda that requires his attention and wakes him up.

When he emerges from his naps there is something old and paper-thin about his skin, something sketchy about his movements as the days go by.

The Americans he commands, like the other men at Sullivan - a combat outpost in Zafraniya, south east Baghdad - hit their cots when they get in from operations. But even when they wake up there is something tired and groggy about them. They are on duty for five days at a time and off for two days. When they get back to the forward operating base, they do their laundry and sleep and count the days until they will get home. It is an exhaustion that accumulates over the patrols and the rotations, over the multiple deployments, until it all joins up, wiping out any memory of leave or time at home. Until life is nothing but Iraq.

Hanna and his men are not alone in being tired most of the time. A whole army is exhausted and worn out. You see the young soldiers washed up like driftwood at Baghdad's international airport, waiting to go on leave or returning to their units, sleeping on their body armour on floors and in the dust.

Where once the war in Iraq was defined in conversations with these men by untenable ideas - bringing democracy or defeating al-Qaeda - these days the war in Iraq is defined by different ways of expressing the idea of being weary. It is a theme that is endlessly reiterated as you travel around Iraq. 'The army is worn out. We are just keeping people in theatre who are exhausted,' says a soldier working for the US army public affairs office who is supposed to be telling me how well things have been going since the 'surge' in Baghdad began.

They are not supposed to talk like this. We are driving and another of the public affairs team adds bitterly: 'We should just be allowed to tell the media what is happening here. Let them know that people are worn out. So that their families know back home. But it's like we've become no more than numbers now.'

The first soldier starts in again. 'My husband was injured here. He hit an improvised explosive device. He already had a spinal injury. The blast shook out the plates. He's home now and has serious issues adapting. But I'm not allowed to go back home to see him. If I wanted to see him I'd have to take leave time (two weeks). And the army counts it.'

A week later, in the northern city of Mosul, an officer talks privately. 'We're plodding through this,' he says after another patrol and another ambush in the city centre. 'I don't know how much more plodding we've got left in us.'

When the soldiers talk like this there is resignation. There is a corrosive anger, too, that bubbles out, like the words pouring unbidden from a chaplain's assistant who has come to bless a patrol. 'Why don't you tell the truth? Why don't you journalists write that this army is exhausted?'

It is a weariness that has created its own culture of superstition. There are vehicle commanders who will not let the infantrymen in the back fall asleep on long operations - not because they want the men alert, but because, they say, bad things happen when people fall asleep. So the soldiers drink multiple cans of Rip It and Red Bull to stay alert and wired.

But the exhaustion of the US army emerges most powerfully in the details of these soldiers' frayed and worn-out lives. Everywhere you go you hear the same complaints: soldiers talk about divorces, or problems with the girlfriends that they don't see, or about the children who have been born and who are growing up largely without them.

'I counted it the other day,' says a major whose partner is also a soldier. 'We have been married for five years. We added up the days. Because of Iraq and Afghanistan we have been together for just seven months. Seven months ... We are in a bad place. I don't know whether this marriage can survive it.'

The anecdotal evidence on the ground confirms what others - prominent among them General Colin Powell, the former US Secretary of State - have been insisting for months now: that the US army is 'about broken'. Only a third of the regular army's brigades now qualify as combat-ready. Officers educated at the elite West Point academy are leaving at a rate not seen in 30 years, with the consequence that the US army has a shortfall of 3,000 commissioned officers - and the problem is expected to worsen.

And it is not only the soldiers that are worn out. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have led to the destruction, or wearing out, of 40 per cent of the US army's equipment, totalling at a recent count $212bn (£105bn).

But it is in the soldiers themselves - and in the ordinary stories they tell - that the exhaustion of the US military is most obvious, coming amid warnings that soldiers serving multiple Iraq deployments, now amounting to several years, are 50 per cent more likely than those with one tour to suffer from acute combat stress.

The army's exhaustion is reflected in problems such as the rate of desertion and unauthorised absences - a problem, it was revealed earlier this year, that had increased threefold on the period before the war in Afghanistan and had resulted in thousands of negative discharges.

'They are scraping to get people to go back and people are worn out,' said Thomas Grieger, a senior US navy psychiatrist, told the International Herald Tribune in April.

'Modern war is exhausting,' says Major Stacie Caswell, an occupational therapist with a combat stress unit attached to the military hospital in Mosul. Her unit runs long group sessions to help soldiers with emerging mental health and discipline problems: often they have seen friends killed and injured, or are having problems stemming from issues at home - responsible for 50 to 60 per cent of their cases. One of the most common problems in Iraq is sleep disorders.

'This is a different kind of war,' says Caswell. 'In World War II it was clear who the good guys and the bad guys were. You knew what you would go through on the battlefield.' Now she says the threat is all around. And soldiering has changed. 'Now we have so many things to do...'

'And the soldier in Vietnam,' interjects Sergeant John Valentine from the same unit, 'did not get to see the coverage from home that these soldiers do. We see what is going on at home on the political scene. They think the war is going to end. Then we have the frustration and confusion. That is fatiguing. Mentally tiring.'

'Not only that,' says Caswell, 'but because of the nature of what we do now, the number of tasks in comparison with previous generations - even as you are finishing your 15 months here you are immediately planning and training for your next tour.' Valentine adds: 'There is no decompression.'

The consequence is a deep-seated problem of retention and recruitment that in turn, says Caswell, has led the US army to reduce its standards for joining the military, particularly over the issue of no longer looking too hard at any previous history of mental illness. 'It is a question of honesty, and we are not investigating too deeply or we are issuing waivers. The consequence is that we are seeing people who do not have the same coping skills when they get here, and this can be difficult.

'We are also seeing older soldiers coming in - up to 41 years old - and that is causing its own problems. They have difficulty dealing with the physical impact of the war and also interacting with the younger men.'

Valentine says: 'We are not only watering down the quality of the soldiers but the leadership too. The good leaders get out. I've seen it. And right now we are on the down slope.'

'War tsar' calls for return of the draft to take the strain

America's 'war tsar' has called for the nation's political leaders to consider bringing back the draft to help a military exhausted by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a radio interview, Lieutenant General Douglas Lute said the option had always been open to boost America's all-volunteer army by drafting in young men in the same way as happened in Vietnam. 'I think it makes sense to consider it,' he said. Lute was appointed 'war tsar' earlier this year after President Bush decided a single figure was needed to oversee the nation's military efforts abroad.

Rumours of a return to the draft have long circulated in military circles as the pressure from fighting two large conflicts at the same time builds on America's forces. However, politically it would be extremely difficult to achieve, especially for any leader hoping to be elected in 2008. Bush has previously ruled out the suggestion as unnecessary.

Lute, however, said the war was causing stress to military families and, as a result, was having an impact on levels of re-enlistment. 'This kind of stress plays out across dinner tables and in living-room conversations within these families. Ultimately the health of the all-volunteer force is going to rest on those sorts of personal family decisions,' he said.

A draft would revive bad memories of the turmoil of the 1960s and early 1970s when tens of thousands of young men were drafted to fight and die in Vietnam. Few other policies proved as divisive in America and the memories of anti-war protesters burning their draft cards and fleeing to Canada are still vivid in the memory.




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There's a new cold war starting in the Arctic

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Canada announces military installations to bolster claim to Arctic waters 
The Associated Press
Friday, August 10, 2007

Canada's prime minister announced plans Friday for an army training center and a deepwater port on the third day of an Arctic trip meant to assert sovereignty over a region with potentially vast energy resources. But Denmark was staking its own claim with a scientific expedition.

The race to secure subsurface rights to the Arctic seabed heated up when Russia sent two small submarines to plant a tiny national flag under the North Pole last week. The United States and Norway also have competing claims in the vast Arctic region, where a U.S. study suggests as much as 25 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas could be hidden.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's three-day trip to the Canadian Arctic had been planned for months. But it has taken on added significance since the Russian flag-planting, which Canada and the U.S. promptly dismissed as legally meaningless.

Harper, speaking from the territory of Nunavut, said the new military installations would help back up Canada's claim to the waters and natural resources of the Northwest Passage, which runs below the North Pole from the Atlantic to the Pacific through the Arctic archipelago.

The U.S. and other countries say the passage is neutral territory.

"Canada's new government understands that the first principle of Arctic sovereignty is: Use it or lose it," Harper said from a storage shed protecting him from howling winds on a barren, rock-strewn highland in Resolute Bay, where the temperature was 35 degrees (2 degrees Celsius).

"Today's announcements tell the world that Canada has a real, growing, long-term presence in the Arctic," he added, flanked by rifle-toting members of the Canadian Rangers, an Inuit volunteer force.

Resolute Bay, about 370 miles (595 kilometers) south of the North Pole, will be home to a new army training center for cold-weather fighting that will house up to 100 military personnel. The new deep-sea port will be built for navy and civilian purposes on the north end of Baffin Island.

Global warming has raised the stakes in the scramble for sovereignty in the Arctic because shrinking polar ice could someday open up resource development and new shipping lanes.

Denmark said scientists would embark Sunday on a monthlong expedition seeking evidence that the Lomonosov Ridge, a 1,240-mile (1,995-kilometer) underwater mountain range, is attached to the Danish territory of Greenland, making it a geological extension of the Arctic island.

That might allow the Nordic nation to stake a claim under a U.N. treaty that could stretch all the way the North Pole. Canada and Russia also claim the ridge.

"The preliminary investigations done so far are very promising," Helge Sander, Denmark's minister of science, technology and innovation told Denmark's TV2 on Thursday. "There are things suggesting that Denmark could be given the North Pole."

The Danes plan to set off from Norway's remote Arctic islands of Svalbard aboard the Swedish icebreaker Oden, which will be assisted by a powerful Russian nuclear icebreaker to plow through ice as thick as 16 feet (5 meters) in the area north of Greenland.

"No one has ever sailed in that area. Ships have sailed on the edges of the ice but no one has been in there," the expedition leader, Christian Marcussen, said in Copenhagen. "The challenge for us will be the ice."

The team includes 40 scientists, 10 of them Danish, and the crews of the icebreakers, which will use sophisticated equipment, including sonar, to map the seabed under the ice.

Moscow claims the Lomonosov ridge is an extension of the Eurasian continent, and therefore part of Russia's continental shelf under international law. Russian researchers plan to use last week's dive to help map the ridge.

Canada and Denmark also both claim Hans Island, a half-square-mile rock at the entrance to the Northwest Passage. The island is wedged between Canada's Ellesmere Island and Danish-ruled Greenland, and has been a subject of bitter exchanges between the two NATO allies.

In 1984, Denmark's minister for Greenland affairs, Tom Hoeyem, caused a stir when he flew in on a chartered helicopter, raised a Danish flag on the island, buried a bottle of brandy at the base of the flagpole and left a note saying: "Welcome to the Danish island."

Last month, Harper announced that six to eight new navy patrol ships would be built to guard the Northwest Passage sea route in the Arctic.

As global warming melts the passage which is navigable only during a slim window in the summer the waters are exposing unexplored resources, and becoming an attractive shipping route. Commercial ships can shave off some 2,480 miles (3,990 kilometers) from Europe to Asia compared with the current routes through the Panama Canal.

Also on Friday, scientists said the Seattle-based icebreaker Healy was expected to reach Barrow, Alaska, on Aug. 17 and head about 500 miles (800 kilometers) north with a team of about 20 scientists, including a U.S. State Department geographer, to map an area known as the Chukchi Cap.

Russian media has speculated that Healy's mission signals that the U.S. is actively joining the competition for resources in the Arctic, but the trip's scientists said there is no political component to the expedition. The site of the expedition is not near any Russian claims.

"We're basically just doing science," said Larry Mayer, director of the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire, on Friday. "There's no flag-dropping on this trip."

The purpose of the mapping work is to determine the extent of the continental shelf north of Alaska, Mayer said.

"In that area, the (U.S.) would have rights over the resources of the sea floor and subsurface that would include drilling for oil and gas," he said.

It is not a claim, he said, but a process of registering boundary information with the United Nations' Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.

"While a significant technological achievement, the planting of the Russian flag on the seabed of the North Pole has no legal effect and did not prompt the participation of the State Department expert in the Healy cruise," said State Department spokeswoman Nicole Thompson.

Associated Press Writer Doug Mellgren contributed to this report from Oslo, Norway. Associated Press Writer Doug Esser contributed from Seattle.

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Pearl Jam and AT&T clash over censorship

The rock band Pearl Jam is upset after lyrics critical of President Bush were censored out of a live webcast of Lollapalooza last weekend by AT&T. The telecom company has apologized and said that the editing of the lyrics was a mistake that should not have happened. (ABCNEWS)


Pearl Jam's Anti-Bush Lyrics Jammed by AT&T
Rock Band Upset After 15 Seconds of Lyrics Cut From Webcast; AT&T Apologizes
By WILLIAM MARRA

Aug. 10, 2007 —

Eddie Vedder, lead singer of the rock band Pearl Jam, is using his powerful pipes to call out corporate censorship after an AT&T webcast of the band's Lollapalooza performance that edited out Vedder's anti-George Bush musings.

The improvised lyrics in question were sung to the tune of Pink Floyd's "The Wall": "George Bush leave this world alone. George Bush find yourself another home."

The telecom giant has been contrite after last weekend's live webcast, calling the censorship an unacceptable mistake and saying its policies strictly forbid editing political messages out of webcasts.

But the politically charged band and activists are saying that the 15 seconds of silence is a resounding signal of a much larger issue: the power of Internet service providers to regulate what users can access when they surf the net.

"AT&T's actions strikes at the heart of the public's concerns over the power that corporations have when it comes to determining what the public sees and hears through communications media," the band said in a statement on their Web site.

Following a rendition of Pearl Jam's song "Daughter" during the show at Chicago's Grant Park, Vedder transitioned into the Pink Floyd classic, singing the Bush lyrics to an enthusiastic crowd that shouted "No more war!" and held up homemade anti-war signs.

The first time Vedder sang "George Bush leave this world alone," the lyrics were transmitted to users on AT&T's Blue Room Web site. The second two anti-Bush verses were cut.

AT&T employs the firm Davie-Brown Entertainment (DBE) to edit their webcasts for profanity that is not a part of a song's lyrics, and also for nudity, company spokesman Michael Coe said. Political messages and curse words that are part of a song are not edited, he said.

DBE insisted that the censoring of the Pearl Jam lyrics was an honest mistake, not part of some broader political agenda to protect the president, and that they are undertaking a review of the incident.

"I don't think it was politically motivated," said DBE president Tom Meyer. "My guess is [the webcast editor] felt that it was something controversial and they had to make a snap decision, and they made the wrong one."

But Nicole Vandenberg, a spokeswoman for Pearl Jam, said that even if it was a genuine mistake, these excuses miss the point.

"This issue with the censorship of this rock webcast is just one small example of how easily this sort of 'mistake' can happen, and when you start thinking about what other 'mistakes' could happen, it makes this seemingly small incident one worth thinking about carefully," Vandenberg said.

The blogosphere was up in arms this week as well, rushing to Pearl Jam's defense and criticizing AT&T for overzealously monitoring the net.

The Hot Potato Mash blog noted the irony of the situation, that the censored lyrics were set to the tune of the famous Pink Floyd song that includes the line "We don't need no thought control," before writing: "This little 'mistake' was the last straw for me regarding AT&T. I will begin the process of transferring my cell phone number to another carrier today."

Pearl Jam has posted the entire unedited version of their "The Wall" performance on its Web site. AT&T said it is currently negotiating with Pearl Jam for the rights to post the unedited version as well.

But Vandenberg indicated the band might not release the video, saying that only when AT&T addresses Pearl Jam's concerns about censorship and the webcast editing process will the band consider releasing it.

The incident has sparked debate over whether so-called net neutrality regulations are necessary to rein in the power of Internet providers. Net neutrality legislation would strip ISPs of their ability to limit content users' access to certain Web sites, particularly those of their competitors.

Because the webcast in question was on a private AT&T Web site, it would be regulated by net neutrality laws even if they were adopted by Congress.

But Tim Carr, a neutrality advocate at the Save the Internet coalition, said AT&T's censorship is an excellent example of what could go wrong when ISPs control what their users see and hear.

"The censorship of Pearl Jam gives us a clear view of what the problem is: When you allow large Internet providers to also become gatekeepers to content there's too often a temptation to limit what people get to see," Carr said.

But AT&T's spokesman Coe called net neutrality laws "a solution without a problem." He added, "We have said repeatedly over and over that we will not block customers' access to legal content. We've said that in front of Congress. We've stated it as conditions of our merger with Bell South."

And at least one person said Pearl Jam and other activists are blowing this issue out of proportion to push their own personal agenda for net neutrality.

"To say that they're censoring is ridiculous? It's propaganda and it seems to be working," Derek Hunter, the executive director of the Media Freedom Project, said.

"Fifteen seconds of a concert sounds like a mistake to me."

Copyright © 2007 ABC News Internet Ventures

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Democrats discuss gay issues

Friday, August 10, 2007

Forum puts Democrats in hot seat over gay issues

By Jill Lawrence, USA TODAY

Gay questioners put six Democratic presidential candidates on the spot Thursday night on issues ranging from religion and same-sex marriage to whether children should be taught about why some classmates have "two mommies."

The unusually relaxed and personal forum, held in a Los Angeles studio that looked like a talk-show set, was sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which advocates for gay rights, and the gay cable network Logo. The questioners, including singer Melissa Etheridge, pulled no punches in trying to make the candidates feel their frustration over their inability to marry and other issues.

Most of the Democratic candidates support civil unions but oppose gay marriage. After hearing four contenders, HRC President Joe Solmonese said, "Their reasons for opposing equality in civil marriage tonight became even less clear."

Solmonese launched the event by asking Illinois Sen. Barack Obama whether he understood that gay people could see civil unions without marriage as "separate but equal." Obama replied that when his white mother and black father married in the early 1960s, interracial marriages were illegal in some states. "Obviously this is something that I understand intimately," he said. "It's not for me to suggest that you shouldn't be troubled by these issues." But as president, he said, his responsibility would be to make sure gay couples have legal rights.

Former North Carolina senator John Edwards said he was wrong to have said in an earlier debate that he opposes same-sex marriage because of his religion, but he did not answer when asked what is at the core of his opposition. New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton got the same question and replied, "I prefer to think of it as being very positive about civil unions."

Edwards said he supports teaching about families with "two mommies," as Etheridge put it, because children "can be mean and cruel." Asked what grade that should be taught, he said he didn't know.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, asked whether being gay is a choice or people are born that way, said it's a choice. After the forum, he reversed himself. "I do not believe sexual orientation or gender identity happens by choice," he said in a statement.

Richardson and Clinton were asked why they backed the Defense of Marriage Act, signed by Clinton's husband, which says the federal government can't recognize same-sex marriages and states don't have to. They said the law was necessary to stave off a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

This was the HRC's second presidential forum and the first shown live on the Internet and TV. Solmonese called it "a testament to how far we've come that it was being broadcast live on our community's own television network."

Other candidates on the program were Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich and former Alaska senator Mike Gravel, the only two Democrats who support same-sex marriage. Sens. Joseph Biden of Delaware and Chris Dodd of Connecticut had scheduling conflicts.

All eight Democrats have said it's time to let gay people serve openly in the military — even Clinton, whose husband started the current "don't ask, don't tell" policy under which gay people must hide their sexual orientation.

Clinton was asked why, as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, she has not introduced a bill to repeal "don't ask, don't tell." She said she didn't want to try "in a Republican Congress with a very negative president and have it defeated," adding its repeal is "one of my highest priorities."

That was one of several perceived lapses cited by questioners. Clinton was asked why she waited a day before disagreeing with former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Peter Pace when he called homosexuality immoral. "It was a mistake," and she fixed it, she said.

Edwards' former consultant Bob Shrum quoted him in a recent book as saying in 1998 that "I'm not comfortable around those people." Asked about that Thursday, Edwards joked that he was not uncomfortable, then said he had never made the remark.

Richardson, who is Hispanic, recently apologized for using the Spanish version of a gay slur last year on Don Imus' radio show.

"I felt the sting as a kid of being stereotyped and I apologized," he said at the forum. He said he "meant no harm" by the remark and urged gay voters to "look at my actions and not words."

Several GOP candidates were invited to appear at an HRC forum, but none accepted. Patrick Sammon, president of the gay group Log Cabin Republicans, said he wasn't surprised: "The candidates are engaged in primary battle, and they're going to tailor their appearances …accordingly."

The imperatives for Democrats are more immediate. "Huge gay populations" in some new early-voting states, such as New York, California, Florida and Illinois, could be key to who wins the nomination, said Edwards supporter David Mixner, a 30-year veteran of national gay politics.

Contributing: LuzElena Avitia in Los Angeles

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Republican Presidential Candidates Debate in Iowa

Sunday, August 05, 2007

So what it really boils down to is this, Tom Tancredo hates everyone, every one is trying to be anti-gay, pro-war, and anti-abortion. It appears that Sen. Brownback (one of the biggest zealots in government) really doesn't like Mitt Romney's "liberal" politics. Oh, and who knew, George Stephanopoulos' father is a priest?

Shades of Difference on Iraq, Abortion Highlight Iowa GOP Debate

By Marie Horrigan, CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY
Published: August 5, 2007

All nine of the declared candidates seeking the 2008 Republican presidential nomination participated in a 90-minute debate Sunday at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. The event was broadcast by ABC and moderated by George Stephanopoulos, the host of the network’s Sunday morning news-talk show, along with veteran political reporter David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register.

The debate — in the state that is scheduled next January to hold the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses — was timed in part as a prelude to next Saturday’s Republican presidential straw poll in Ames. In a break with tradition, though, several of the GOP hopefuls have chosen not to participate in that straw poll.

Stephanopoulos worked to balance time between the nine candidates, despite the fact that three — former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Arizona Sen. John McCain — are recognized as forming a top tier in the current poll standings. The six other participants were Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback; Reps. Duncan Hunter of California, Ron Paul of Texas and Tom Tancredo of Colorado; former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson; and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, though regarded as a potentially serious contender for the Republican nomination, has not yet officially announced that he is running and was not invited to the debate.

The following is a roundup of some of the debate’s key highlights:

• Most Discussed Issue: Moderator Stephanopoulos said the war in Iraq was the top issue when Iowa voters were polled about what they would want to ask the presidential contenders, and a question about an exit strategy for the war provided for a lively exchange among the GOP candidates.

Paul, a libertarian conservative who stands alone in the field as an outspoken opponent of the war, drew applause when he called for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. “Just come home,” he said.

Hunter — a former chairman of the House Armed Services Committee who is seeking a niche as the most hawkish candidate for the GOP nomination — took an opposite view, said U.S. troops needed to stay in Iraq and turning his criticism on Democrats whom he described as competing to see “who could stampede for the exit the quickest.”

Huckabee said it was possible to find middle ground on the issue, saying that the United States needed to end its dependence on foreign oil and to build up the nation’s strength to become “free people,” which drew major applause.

McCain disputed charges by many Democrats and some Republicans that little progress toward a political solution is being made in Iraq. “Of course they are making progress and we are winning on the ground,” he said. He declared that combating Islamic extremism was the major national security of the day, and touted his military and legislative background in declaring himself the most qualified candidate to deal with this issue.

Giuliani said that Democrats are so concerned about “political correctness” that none of their candidates has used the phrase “Islamic terrorism” in any of their presidential debates; Giuliani said Iraq is a battle in the “overall war against us” that America needs to win.

Romney also said it is critical to win the conflict, and drew applause when he criticized Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s strongly stated warning to Pakistan, issued last week, that he would be willing to deploy the U.S. military unilaterally to go after al Qaeda and other anti-American forces hiding in remote areas of that nation if Pakistani leaders fail to use their own military to do so.

• Most Combative Moment: The debate opened with an argument over Romney’s stance on abortion. Stephanopoulos asked Brownback, a staunchly anti-abortion candidate, whether he stood behind an ad produced by his campaign that seeks to debunk Romney’s “pro-life” credentials. Brownback called the ad “truthful,” but Romney said that “virtually nothing in that ad is true.”

Referring to his advocacy during a 1994 Senate campaign of a position that upheld abortion rights — something he described later in the debate as his biggest mistake — Romney said he “was pro-choice,” but switched to a “pro-life” position while serving a four-year term as governor of Massachusetts that ended in January. Sharpening his tone, Romney added, “I get tired of people who are holier than thou, because they’ve been pro-life longer than I have.”

• Most defensive moment: Tancredo, who has made his opposition to illegal immigration the signal issue of his longshot presidential campaign, went after Stephanopoulos early in the debate, alleging the moderator was exercising favoritism among the candidates. “There are nine of us up here,” he told Stephanopoulos right before he was called on to discuss his views on the war in Iraq.

Tancredo criticized the Bush administration’s planning for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, but continued to take a very hard line on Islamic extremism, defending a comment he made last week in which he advocated threatening to bomb Islamic holy sites in Mecca if terrorists were to use nuclear weapons against the United States. When Stephanopoulos asked about the State Department’s rebuke of that statement, Tancredo — echoing the anti-government sentiments among some conservatives — said he felt vindicated by the fact that the State Department disagreed with him.

But Tommy Thompson, taking the State Department’s line, described Tancredo’s threat as counterproductive, saying an attack on religious holy sites would unite 1 billion Muslims around the world against the United States.

• Best Line: “To have a description of my mistakes in 30 minutes? George, your father is a priest. I’m going to explain it to your father, not to you, OK?” — Giuliani, who is married to his third wife, told Stephanopoulos when asked to provide a 30-second answer outlining a defining mistake in his life. The moderator’s father is a priest in the Greek Orthodox Church.

• Second Best Line: “In one week, he went from saying he was going to sit down for tea with our enemies but that he was going to bomb our allies. He’s gone from Jane Fonda to Dr. Strangelove.” — Romney on Obama’s recent foreign policy statements. Prior to his remarks on Pakistan, Obama said in a Democratic debate that he would not rule out meeting with leaders of so-called rogue nations such as Iran and Cuba.

• Top Point of Agreement: All nine of the candidates agreed they would oppose legislation that would expand coverage under the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which passed the House and Senate (with the advocacy of popular Iowa Republican Sen Charles E. Grassley) this week but has drawn a veto threat from President Bush over its cost. Several candidates said the measure would increase government involvement in health care financing and stated their preferences for free-market approaches. Later in the debate, Thompson predicted that there would be media headlines portraying the Republican candidates as opposing improved health care for children and contended that is not true.

© 2006 Congressional Quarterly

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