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Why Legalizing Marijuana Makes Sense

Saturday, April 04, 2009

By Joe Klein
Time.com


For the past several years, I've been harboring a fantasy, a last political crusade for the baby-boom generation. We, who started on the path of righteousness, marching for civil rights and against the war in Vietnam, need to find an appropriately high-minded approach to life's exit ramp. In this case, I mean the high-minded part literally. And so, a deal: give us drugs, after a certain age — say, 80 — all drugs, any drugs we want. In return, we will give you our driver's licenses. (I mean, can you imagine how terrifying a nation of decrepit, solipsistic 90-year-old boomers behind the wheel would be?) We'll let you proceed with your lives — much of which will be spent paying for our retirement, in any case — without having to hear us complain about our every ache and reflux. We'll be too busy exploring altered states of consciousness. I even have a slogan for the campaign: "Tune in, turn on, drop dead."

A fantasy, I suppose. But, beneath the furious roil of the economic crisis, a national conversation has quietly begun about the irrationality of our drug laws. It is going on in state legislatures, like New York's, where the draconian Rockefeller drug laws are up for review; in other states, from California to Massachusetts, various forms of marijuana decriminalization are being enacted. And it has reached the floor of Congress, where Senators Jim Webb and Arlen Specter have proposed a major prison-reform package, which would directly address drug-sentencing policy. (See pictures of stoner cinema.)...(Click for remainder.)

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Feith Dares Obama to Enforce the Law

By David Swanson
After Downing Street


Doug Feith is bluffing big time, and he's lifted Dick Cheney and George Bush onto the table as his bet. Now if only he could stop visibly sweating.

Feith's Wall Street Journal column on Friday argues that Spain has no right to put Americans on trial for torture, at least not second-tier officials who provided pseudo-legal justifications for torture and advocated its use, actions that Feith believes should be immune from prosecution, unlike ordering torture or engaging in it.

"If President Barack Obama and the prosecutors see a crime to be prosecuted, they can act," Feith wrote.

In fact, the job is Eric Holder's and the choice is no choice at all. Holder is legally required to prosecute those whom evidence suggests have engaged in, ordered, or otherwise facilitated torture. That list includes Doug Feith, but it most prominently includes George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney, both of whom have admitted to authorizing torture in televised interviews. Feith is absolutely right that it makes the most sense to prosecute first and foremost those who actually gave the orders. Spain makes itself look a bit silly starting with those lower down, but you can imagine the xenophobic bile that would be gushing out of the Wall Street Journal if Spain had begun with Dubya.

Title 18 of the U.S. Code, our national laws, our red-white-and-blue tough-on-crime book of books has a little section called 2441 that prescribes prison or death to any American who commits or conspires to commit a war crime, including torture or cruel or inhuman treatment. Remember this was what caused then White House counsel Alberto Gonzales to warn the president and others that they should play word games as the best defense of their own necks.

Title 18 also contains section 2340, which -- like 2441 -- defines torture with clarity and sanity, and prescribes prison or death for those who engage in it, and prison for those who conspire to commit it. These laws were in place long before the Bush-era charade of Congress pretending to ban torture and Bush pretending he could legalize it with a signing statement. The United States had also already signed and ratified the Convention Against Torture which requires criminal prosecution of "an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture."

So the United States is actually required to do what Feith dares it to try and the American people support. But that doesn't mean that Spain (or Britain) has no right to step in while the United States fails to act. In fact, a few months ago the United States did the same thing. In January a U.S. court tried a citizen of Liberia for committing torture in Liberia and sentenced him to 97 years in a U.S. prison. At the time, then Attorney General Michael Mukasey said "I hope this case will serve as a model to future prosecutions of this type."...(Click for remainder).

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Is Murdoch Regretting His $5 Billion Purchase of the WSJ?

By Chris in Paris
AMERICAblog


Sounds like it. He initially went into the deal talking about making the WSJ online free but those days are long gone. He continues to charge and now thinks others should charge as well for online news. Somebody sounds a bit nervous about their empire that is struggling thanks to the right wing economics that he helped usher in.
Murdoch, who bought The Wall Street Journal and its parent company Dow Jones & Co in 2007, said online advertising, which most U.S. publishers hope will offset ad revenue declines at their print divisions, will not cover their costs.

"People reading news for free on the Web, that's got to change," said Murdoch speaking at The Cable Show, an annual cable television industry event, in Washington, D.C.

Murdoch pointed to the Journal's main rival in the United States, The New York Times, as an example. The Times has one of the most popular U.S. newspaper websites, but still cannot cover its costs with online ads, he said.
Surely this is a problem for the media everywhere though this will remain a very tough sell. At least Murdoch is thinking about the future and has plans to invest in a portable device for readers to read their online newspapers. There's an idea that will save him and the industry....(Click for original).

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Was Frontline Documentary Edited to Reflect Health Insurance Industry Interests

By Susie Madrak
Crooks and Liars


There was never any doubt in my mind that once PBS was moved by the Republicans to corporate sponsorship instead of full public funding, their content would inevitably grow to reflect the viewpoints of the people who wrote the checks.

It seems that insurance company investments are paying off in the healthcare debate. While this Frontline piece does address corporate abuses of their clients, the journalist who worked on it says it was altered to reflect insurance company interests, according to Russell Mokhiber, editor of Corporate Crime Reporter:
Last year, former Washington Post reporter T.R. Reid made a great documentary for the PBS show Frontline titled "Sick Around the World."

Reid traveled to five countries that deliver health care for all – UK, Japan, Switzerland, Germany, Taiwan – to learn about how they do it.

Reid found that the one thing these five countries had in common – none allowed for-profit health insurance companies to sell basic medical coverage.

Frontline then said to Reid – okay, we want you to go around the United States and make a companion documentary titled "Sick Around America."

So, Reid traveled around America, interviewing patients, doctors, and health insurance executives.

The documentary that resulted – "Sick Around America" – aired Monday night on PBS.

But even though Reid did the reporting for the film, he was cut out of the film when it aired this week.

And the film didn't present Reid's bottom line for health care reform – don't let health insurance companies profit from selling basic health insurance.
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Patrick Kennedy to Introduce Bill to Repeal Gramm-Leach … Maybe

By emptywheel
Emptywheel @ Firedoglake


One thing that astounds me about this whole financial crisis is that no one--no one--in a position of power has seemingly considered undoing the damage that was done when Gramm-Leach-Bliley started allowed agents to dress up as banksters, banksters to dress up as stock brokers, and stock brokers to dress up as insurance agents. Rather than passing new legislation to set up a super regulator to regulate companies that are too big too fail, wouldn't it be smarter to go back to the laws that prevented companies from getting too big to fail in the first place? And even if there are good reasons not to go back, don't you think we ought to at least consider it?

So I was thrilled yesterday when Patrick Kennedy said he was going to introduce a bill to repeall Gramm-Leach-Bliley.

One thing that I think is maybe one of the many causes of this and that I will hold myself accountable for is voting for the Glass-Steagall reform. And I, for one, am going to introduce legislation to repeal that repeal. Because I don't believe we ought to be having, as has played itself out, AIG insurance companies doing banking business and banking businesses doing insuring business. And having apples over here and oranges over here and everybody's getting these financial products all mixed and matched. You've got derivatives and debt swaps and what are these things happening, you've got people taking loans out and then taking insurance out on the loans because of another part of the company. I mean it just seems we're rife with conflicts of interest.
Cool! I thought! We can finally talk about putting oranges and apples back where they belong!...(Click for remainder).

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Will Iowans Uphold Gay Marriage?

By Nate Silver
FiveThirtyEight.com


The Iowa Supreme Court ruled today that same-sex marriage is protected under that state's constitution.

As in California, there will of course be an effort to amend the state constitution to prohibit gay marriage. In Iowa, however, the hurdle to amending the constitution is fairly high: it will have to be approved by two consecutive sessions of the state legislature and then by a majority of the voters. Most likely, this means that Iowans won't vote on the issue until 2012.

This is good news for defenders of marriage equity, because while you might know it from Proposition 8's victory last year, voter initiatives to ban gay marriage are becoming harder and harder to pass every year.

I looked at the 30 instances in which a state has attempted to pass a constitutional ban on gay marriage by voter initiative. The list includes Arizona twice, which voted on different versions of such an amendment in 2006 and 2008, and excludes Hawaii, which voted to permit the legislature to ban gay marriage but did not actually alter the state's constitution. I then built a regression model that looked at a series of political and demographic variables in each of these states and attempted to predict the percentage of the vote that the marriage ban would receive....(Click for remainder).

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Republicans Threaten To Use Super-Secret-Mega-Top-Ultra-Awesome-Forever Political Tactic

By Chris Bowers
Open Left


Republicans have been crushed in two consecutive elections. Not a single Republican in either the House or the Senate voted for the budget. And yet, it appears they have been holding back. Unless Democrats allow Republicans to filibuster health care, then Republicans will stop holding back and do something so tottaly ultra mega awesome that they will get back into power. Or, at least that is what Republican Senate Mike Enzi says:
The matter [reconciliation] is guaranteed to be a major partisan sticking point when the two chambers meet to hammer out a final version of next year's spending plan. If it passes, it would allow the Senate to pass Obama's proposed health care reform without the threat of a Republican-led Senate filibuster.

Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming, speaking for most of his GOP Senate colleagues, warned Tuesday that if a health-care "reconciliation winds up in the budget bill, it'll be like a declaration of war. ... I hope that that wedge doesn't get thrown in there."
Wow-I wonder what Enzi means by a "declaration of war." Will that mean Republicans won't vote for any Democratic legislation? Will they call war veterans traitors? Will they suppress Florida and Ohio voters in a successful attempt to steal elections? Will it mean they will try to impeach President Obama? Will they act like such jerks that we will wax them in a third straight election?

Democrats should be trembling over a threat of "war" from Republicans. All this time, you know that Republicans were just holding back. They wanted Democrats to win the Presidency, 14 Senate seats, 54 House seats, half a dozen Governorships and about a dozen state legislative bodies just to make things interesting. But, if Democrats actually use this head start to pass legislation of any import, they will stop holding back, and use their super-secret-awesome-win-every-time-and-there-is-nothing-Democrats-can-do-about-it tactic. And this tactic will totally wipe out any gains Democrats will make with the voters by making health care for the voters cheaper and more available....(Click for remainder).

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Sen. David "Diaperboy" Vitter Wants to Teabag the Nation

By Arthur Delaney
The Huffington Post


The tax day tea party movement is gaining steam, as TV celebrities and political figures try to glom onto what might be a burgeoning populist groundswell. Neil Cavuto and Sean Hannity of Fox News will join events in Sacramento and Atlanta. Newt Gingrich will be in New York. And on Friday Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) proposed to make a law honoring April 15 as National Tea Party Day.

Vitter's got a Web page that says "millions" of Americans will join protests "to register their displeasure with our government's addiction to wasteful spending, bailouts for big business, and higher taxes."

Before they register that displeasure, Vitter wants them to register as Citizen Co-Sponsors of his effort to "force the Senate to recognize this day as a formal protest by the people against these policies."

An organizer of the tax day protest outside the Treasury Department in Washington, D.C. told the Huffington Post that several Republican politicians -- it now seems Vitter might have been one of them -- had asked to speak at the event, only to be rebuffed because, as the organizer puts it, "We're not a function of the Republican party."

Newt Gingrich might be an unwelcome guest at the event in New York if anybody reminds protesters that the former congressman flip-flopped to support the bailout of the financial industry....(Click for remainder).

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Corn, Grant Wood and Gay Marriage: Welcome to Iowa

By Ross Hyzer
The Huffington Post


Full disclosure: I'm an Iowan. Born and raised in Des Moines, I was caught by the sucking vortex of the Brain Drain, taking all of the advantages bestowed upon me by excellent public education and lively civic engagement, packing them into my little hobo bindle and emigrating to some coastal place where people would forever think that I'd never seen electric lights and was wearing shoes for the first time. I was lured by my comedic aspirations to this peculiar island city which, like a crotchety boss, I grudgingly tolerated before I came to understand and ultimately love the old bastard. However, I still continue to self-identify as an Iowan and, moreover, I will brook no guff directed at the home state, much to the perplexity of my friends in Brooklyn who expect me to keep to the trite narrative of having narrowly escaped a lousy place, thank goodness, blahbity blah. After all, why would I stick up for a place that everybody who's never been there knows is crappy?

Because of things like this. Today, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously declared a ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, thus making the Hawkeye State only the third in the nation where gay couples can legally marry. Not have a union or a partnership or whatever, just regular old get married. And all day long, Iowans in and out of the state have been delirious with pride. As for the case, I won't go through all the whats and wherefores, but you can read a good excerpt from the court's decision here (which, as Ben Smith points out, basically argues that gay couples are normal) and the Des Moines Register's coverage not only gives a good overview of the case, but the comments are not to be missed. There are some ignorant, hateful ones of course, but mainly you see why this is the state that bucked lame conventional wisdom and gave Obama the first victory of the presidential race.

Okay, I promise that'll be the last time I verbally wipe that expat tear from my eye. But hey, I've got to jump on the opportunity when I can....(Click for remainder).

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3 Weeks Later, Still No Co-Sponsor for Presidential 'Birth Certificate' Bill

By Mark Nickolas
The Huffington Post


Remember the story about the loony freshman House Republican -- Bill Posey -- who last month introduced a bill that would require presidential candidates to present a birth certificate establishing their U.S. citizenship before running for office?


Well, according to the official congressional website that tracks legislation -- Thomas.gov -- Posey has yet to find a single co-sponsor for his inane bill:

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Midweek Loon Watch: Freakout Over President Obama’s iPod Gift

By Jed Lewison
Daily Kos TV


The loons were out in full force on Wednesday, attacking President Obama for giving the Queen of England an iPod containing video of her 2007 state visit to the U.S. because — get this — she already owns a 2005 edition iPod Mini. You know, the kind without video.

That they were offended over this triviliality was enough comedy to warrant a mid-week Loon Watch, but the fact that the Queen requested the iPod and that her former spokesman said the Obamas "scored a hit" sealed the deal: a Loon Watch was called for.



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Jon Stewart Mocks Media Coverage of Obamas' Meeting the Queen

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Wash. Post Reported GOP Criticism of Reconciliation, but Not That GOP Repeatedly Used Process

By Media Matters


In an April 3 Washington Post article about Congress approving the fiscal year 2010 budget resolution, reporter Lori Montgomery wrote that the "biggest dispute between the two chambers is whether to use a powerful procedural shortcut that could allow [President] Obama's health, education and energy initiatives to pass the Senate with 51 votes rather than the usual 60, eliminating the need to win over any Republicans." Later, she wrote that "Senate Republicans -- and some Senate Democrats -- argue that the maneuver would make bipartisan cooperation all but impossible on some of the most significant measures to come before the Senate in years." However, in reporting Republican criticism, Montgomery did not mention that members of the GOP have supported using the budget reconciliation process to pass several major Bush administration initiatives -- a fact the Post has noted in at least two previous articles. These initiatives include the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005, and an effort to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.

Indeed, an April 1 Post article reported that "[a]dvocates defend reconciliation as a legitimate tool used more often by Republicans in recent years, most notably to pass President George W. Bush's tax cuts." Further, a March 31 Post article asserting that Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) is the "de facto leader of the opposition to Obama's $3.5 trillion budget" reported that "while Gregg has sharply attacked Democrats for considering the use of reconciliation, which would allow them eventually to pass legislation to reform health care with 51 votes rather than the normal 60 that would be needed to avoid a filibuster, Gregg publicly favored such a provision as Budget Committee chairman in 2005 as part of an attempt to push through a GOP-backed proposal to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge." Gregg was one of 51 senators who voted against striking language allowing the reconciliation process to be used to open up the refuge from the budget resolution and introduced a reconciliation bill that, as originally introduced in and passed by the Senate, included a provision to open up the refuge to drilling. (The bill as enacted did not contain such a provision.)...(Click for remainder).

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Fox News Falsely Claimed Obama Budget "4x Bigger Than Bush's Costliest Plan"

And I'm sure there are Freepers out there who are going to believe this drivel put out there by Faux News. Lord these conserv-o-bots are so damned gullible.

By Media Matters

During the April 3 edition of Fox "News'" America's Newsroom, on-screen text repeatedly falsely claimed that President Obama's $3.6 trillion fiscal year 2010 budget is "4x bigger than Bush's costliest plan." However, President Bush submitted a $3.1 trillion budget for FY 2009. For FY 2008, Bush submitted a $2.9 trillion budget.

From America's Newsroom:







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How to Get a No-Bid Contract for Russian Choppers

"I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!" Surely this can't be the same Carlyle Group that George H.W. Bush is associated with?  The Carlyle Group going against U.S. interests? No, never.  Excuse me, I have to go vomit.


By Sharon Weinberger
The Danger Room @ Wired.com


How did a company best known for its communications gear manage to get a $322 million, no-bid contract to supply the Iraqi military with Russian helicopters? Not even the Pentagon can come up with a convincing explanation.

Yesterday, I spent an hour on the phone with two Defense Department officials who tried to explain to me why ARINC, a Maryland subsidiary of the Carlyle Group, managed to become the United States' largest broker for Russian military aircraft. They were polite and patient, but the only reason they gave me was that ARINC had some sort of one-of-a-kind, "special relationship" with Russia's copter-supplier.

E-mails obtained by Danger Room through the Freedom of Information Act tell a very different story, however.

Let's review:

For the past year, I've followed the U.S. government's involvement in buying Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters for Iraq and Afghanistan to support the global War on Terror (or whatever it's called now). Those purchases have included no-bid and limited-competition contracts worth over $500 million, all provided to one company, ARINC, despite the company's modest track record in the field.

ARINC is not typically the provider of aircraft, let alone Russian aircraft, though it did have one foot in the Russian helicopter world — it was on contract in Iraq maintaining some of Iraq's older Mi-17s (several other American companies perform similar services). That's a long way away from buying, modifying and delivering a fleet of new aircraft....(Click for remainder).

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Justice Department May Finally Release Infamous 'Torture Memo'

By Jason Leopold
The Public Record


The world may finally get to read the Bush administration’s infamous “torture memo,” the Aug. 1, 2002, document that provided legal cover for the brutal and humiliating treatment of detainees in George W. Bush’s “war on terror.”

Though the general contents of that memo have been described in books, congressional reports and news articles, the document itself was kept as a highly classified secret by the Bush administration.

In its first two months in office, the Obama administration has released several other legal memos relating to Bush’s expansive views of his powers, but has withheld key memos on the “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

On Thursday, the Justice Department said it had negotiated an extension to a court deadline in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the ACLU seeking interrogation-related documents, in part, by agreeing to add the “torture memo” to other documents that might be released within two weeks.

Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU’s National Security project, said he “reluctantly consented” to the extension because acting U.S. Attorney Lev Dassin said the package of documents under review would include the Aug. 1, 2002, legal opinion.

The Justice Department had been deliberating whether to release three legal memos from May 2005 that, in effect, reaffirmed Bush’s right to authorize the harsh interrogations, after the earlier memos had been withdrawn in 2003 and 2004 by Deputy Attorney General Jack Goldsmith.

But Goldsmith resigned in 2004 under White House pressure and his replacement as head of the powerful Office of Legal Counsel, Steven Bradbury, reasserted Bush’s sweeping powers in May 2005. Bradbury reissued some of the OLC’s opinions from 2002 and 2003 that argued that Bush’s Commander-in-Chief authority permitted him to override laws in the name of national security.

In the first months of the Obama administration, release of the interrogation memos has been the subject of a fierce bureaucratic battle, with former CIA Director Michael Hayden reportedly incensed over their possible disclosure and Attorney General Eric Holder arguing for their declassification....(Click for remainder).

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U.S. Congressional Delegation in Cuba to "Learn and Talk"

By Jeff Franks
Reuters


HAVANA (Reuters) - Members of the U.S. House of Representatives arrived in Havana on Friday to meet with Cuban officials in a sign of accelerating efforts to improve U.S.-Cuban relations.

Representative Barbara Lee said the group of seven Democrats came with no messages from President Barack Obama or proposals for the Cubans but simply to "see what the possibilities are."

"We're here to learn and talk and to see if there are any issues we need to communicate back to our government," she told reporters.

The congressional delegation is the first from the United States known to have come to Cuba since Obama took office in January.

"Change is in the air and our president, of course, talks very clearly about bilateral relations with all countries in the world," said Lee.

The five-day visit comes as the U.S. House and Senate prepare to consider bills that would eliminate a ban on Americans traveling to Cuba that is part of a trade embargo imposed on the island by the United States since 1962.

Obama has said he would ease the embargo but not eliminate it until Cuba shows progress toward democracy and greater human rights.

Obama also has called for dialogue with Cuba as part of a move toward normalization of relations that have been hostile since a 1959 revolution put Fidel Castro in power and transformed the island into what is now one of the world's last communist countries....(Click for remainder).

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Ultra-crazy Jewish Papers Alter Israel Cabinet Photo

By BBC News

Two ultra-Orthodox Jewish newspapers have altered a photo of Israel's new cabinet, removing two female ministers.

Limor Livnat and Sofa Landver were grouped with the rest of the 30-member cabinet for their inaugural photo.

But Yated Neeman newspaper digitally changed the picture by replacing them with two men. The Shaa Tova newspaper blacked the women out.

Publishing pictures of women is viewed by many ultra-orthodox Jews as a violation of female modesty.

Other Israeli papers reprinted the altered images next to the original photos, with one headlining it "Find the lady".

The ultra-Orthodox community separates itself from mainstream society through its traditional religious practices and distinctive attire of black hats, coats and sidelocks for the men and long skirts and sleeves for the women.

Restrictions include using only Kosher telephones, and not accessing websites with content deemed inappropriate....(Click for Original).


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Siegelman Attorney Asks Attorney General Holder to Overturn Conviction

By Muriel Kane
The Raw Story


Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman's attorney has sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, requesting that a federal judge throw out Siegelman's bribery and corruption conviction on the grounds that the prosecution was filled with misconduct.

Vance Kilborn's four-page letter asks Holder to treat Siegelman the same way he treated former Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, whose corruption conviction was thrown out on Wednesday because prosecutors had withheld evidence from the defense team during his trial.

In an interview with TPMMuckraker on Wednesday, Siegelman brought up the Stevens decision, saying, "There seems to be substantial evidence of prosecutorial and other misconduct in my case, that would dwarf the allegations in the Stevens case. ... "I hope that [Holder] will take a look at some of the other cases that are buried on his desk."...(Click for remainder).

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That Big Moment for Czechs? Not So Big

By Dan Bilefsky
The New York Times


PRAGUE — When President Obama arrives here on Saturday for a meeting aimed at forging closer trans-Atlantic relations, aides say he has opted for a romantic private dinner with the first lady. That, rather than a glass of Czech beer with Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, who last week invoked Satan’s lair to characterize the American president’s economic policies.

The Obamas also decided to forgo an official state dinner with Vaclav Klaus, the fiery Czech president. His predecessor, Vaclav Havel, famously offered President Bill Clinton a saxophone during a state visit here in 1994, prompting a jam session at his favorite jazz club.

But Mr. Klaus will have to settle for a short meeting with Mr. Obama at Prague Castle on Sunday, with Mr. Topolanek in tow. And he may well be upstaged when Mr. Obama meets Mr. Havel, one of Eastern Europe’s most celebrated dissidents, later in the day.

Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and 10 years after the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary definitively brought down the Iron Curtain by joining NATO, Mr. Obama’s visit here was meant to herald a new era in relations between East and West, and between Europe and the United States....(Click for remainder).

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Colo. Senate GOP Hosting Internet 'Attack Site'

By John Tomasic
The Colorado Independent


Colorado Senate News.com, that rich vein of “news and information from the Senate Minority Office,” has morphed from a public relations faux-news outlet to an Internet “attack site”!

Surfing to the Web address brings notices not to open the site because it may “try to install programs that steal private information, use your computer to attack others or damage your system.”

The GOP site has been listed by browser monitors as a host to “malware” — software meant to do creeping harm to computers that come into contact with it. What’s more the site has reportedly been virus-ridden and dangerous for weeks. Most recently, the site RSS feed began showing malware warnings as well. At very least, the site ruins browsers, which unlucky visitors are forced to reinstall.

It’s unclear what tweak the webmaster may have made to transform the site into an internet pariah and under whose instructions. In fact it’s unclear whether the attacks the site launches originate with the site or whether the site itself has been a victim of attack and forgery.

It’s tempting to believe the Republican techies were just clumsy in their attempts to fish data from visitors; but it’s equally tempting to believe they cluelessly left the site exposed and were hacked.

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U.S. Unemployment Hits 26-Year High

By Al Jazeera English

Unemployment in the US has jumped to its highest level since 1983 after employers cut 663,000 jobs and workers' hours to the lowest on record, government figures have shown.

The US Labor Department reported the rate leaped to 8.5 per cent in March and revised its figures for January to show job losses of 741,000, the biggest decline since October 1949.

The economy has shed 5.1 million jobs since the US went into recession in December 2007, with about two thirds of the losses occurring in the last five months, the department said on Friday.

Many experts have said the recession is the worst economic crisis since the 1930s.

The average working week shrank to 33.2 hours from 33.3 hours, which analysts have said could mean lower production and income, damaging the economy further.

Barack Obama, the US president, said the figures were a "stark reminder'' of US
economic woes.

"Obviously, this is hitting the United States hard," Obama said as he addressed the global economic downturn during a joint press conference with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, ahead of a Nato summit there.

Despite the news, the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Friday closed higher on Friday, climbing 39.51 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 8,017.59 points, its highest close since February 9, following optimism on agreements forged at the G20 summit this week.

Al Jazeera's John Terrett in New York said that despite the poor unemployment data there was a feeling on the markets that the US economy was showing signs of a turnaround after better than expected auto sales and factory order figures....(Click for remainder).

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Openly Gay Iowa Senator says Iowa Will Not Go Back on Marriage Rights

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The Mouth-Breathing Fundies React to Iowa Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

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(UPDATED) Stop HR 875, The Food Fascism Act, Like Our Lives Depended On It

I'm going to say that I don't know what to believe. I'm going to have to do some more research on this before I form an opinion on the legislation.

HR 875 Is Not About Food safety, It's About Genocide of Agricultural

Biodiversity

One of the most potentially dangerous bills we've ever heard of is trying to sneak its way through Congress right now, in the sheep's clothing of so-called "modernization" of food safety. HR 875 (text of bill) is a bill put up by Monsanto and other monolithic corporations trying to seize totalitarian control over all agriculture. It was introduced by Rosa DeLauro, whose husband WORKS for Monsanto, and is ultimately about one thing, defining ONLY their own GMO products as "safe".

What makes the bill so dangerous is that it is heavy on penalties including prison time, while at the same time being incredibly vague about what would actually trigger those sanctions. HR 875 is nothing but a Trojan horse, with an invading army to be designated later, in the form of an bureaucratic administrator (most likely a corporate lobbyist shill) with draconian LAW MAKING POWER to make up their own definitions so that all competitors are either driven into bankruptcy or locked up. There are problems with food safety we can talk about, but HR 875 is not going to make us safer, any more than invading Iraq made us safer. It MUST be stopped.

Stop HR 875 Action Page: http://www.peaceteam.net/action/pnum959.php

So in the midst of this attempted Panzer action by Monsanto, are we hearing about any of this in our propaganda based mainstream media? No, they distract our attention talking about Michelle Obama's adorable organic garden at the White House, as if she is making agricultural policy.

But will that little White House garden end up as something like a diorama, a quaint reenactment of what farming used too be like when it was healthy, they way they would reenact Betsy Ross sewing the first American flag? Will they lull us into complacency while down the street Congress at the same time paves the way for breaking the back of every small farmer in the country, turning our entire agricultural system into a chemically overtreated, Genetically Mutated Organism (GMO) nightmare?

Hell, No! Not if we will have anything to say about it. And you can bet the farm we will.

We'd like to also remind our Facebook participants that all action pages can be found in their system as well. So let's get all our Facebook friends in on the activist resource there.

Facebook Version:
http://apps.facebook.com/fb_voices/action.php?qnum=pnum959 (must be a member of Facebook and logged in to use this link)

And we are working very hard on even more magical new code to expand the access options for getting a message through to Congress even further. Please stay tuned and we will have some amazing news for you shortly. We will start beta testing the new module by the weekend.

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UPDATE
The HR 875 Food Safety Modernization Act Scare

By Dave Johnson
Growing the Garden


You may have heard the scare stories about the bill before Congress: HR 875, the Food Safety Modernization Act. I came across a good post at the Secret Farm blog, Secret Farm: A garden blog: HR 875 the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009
As many of you out there are aware by now, there is a bill that has been introduced to Congress called HR 875 Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 . I have seen a number of twitters and blog posts about it, as well as articles and discussions. I was all set to write a very different post about this issue until I came across this post at Crooks and Liars.com in my search:

http://crooksandliars.com/nonny-mouse/monsanto-and-hr-875-take-two
Read the post at Secret Farm.

So I followed the link to Crooks & Liars for more information. From the post there:
To set the record straight:
There is no language in HR 875 that would regulate, penalize, or shut down backyard gardens or ‘criminalize’ gardeners; the bill focuses on ensuring the safety of food in interstate commerce.
Farmer’s markets would not be regulated, fined, or shut down, and would, in fact, benefit from strict safety standards applied to imported food to ensure that unsafe imported food doesn’t compete with locally grown produce.

The bill would not prohibit or interfere with organic farming, or mandate the use of any chemicals or types of seeds. The National Organic Program (NOP) is under the jurisdiction of the USDA. HR 875 addresses food safety issues and falls under the jurisdiction of the FDA.

Monsanto and any other large agribusiness company had no part whatsoever in drafting this bill, and Rep. DeLauro’s husband and his company do no lobbying on this issue.

HR 875 has nothing to do with any national animal ID system, which would fall under the jurisdiction of the USDA, and not the FDA.
So I looked around the web and found some other sources, explaining that the hysteria is unwarranted.

Food and Water Watch, Background on H.R. 875
Here are a few things that H.R. 875 does NOT do:
  • It does not cover foods regulated by the USDA (beef, pork, poultry, lamb, catfish.)
  • It does not establish a mandatory animal identification system.
  • It does not regulate backyard gardens.
  • It does not regulate seed.
  • It does not call for new regulations for farmers markets or direct marketing arrangements.
  • It does not apply to food that does not enter interstate commerce (food that is sold across state lines).
  • It does not mandate any specific type of traceability for FDA-regulated foods (the bill does instruct a new food safety agency to improve traceability of foods, but specifically says that recordkeeping can be done electronically or on paper).
The Slow Food USA Blog, in H.R. 875 links to a few trusted sources saying this bill does not do the scary things that the emails and blogs claim.

So don't be afraid. Don't be very afraid.

(Click for original)

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