The Friends of California Libre...

04 November 2008

America Says BOO

Greetings, friends,
It was a quiet Halloween, maybe because the real terror is about to begin.  It's the night of 3 November, hunkered in my apartment, feeling that calm before the storm.  Outside the window, I can hear the crowd a block away in front of the local gay bar, Woody's...ahem, MJ's...where they're waving their "No on 8" signs, cars honk and they cheer back.  Beneath it all is the stress of the last months; everyone on eggshells.  I walked down to Trader Joe's and the protesters were swarming the place, more gay men than I've seen since I visited Jeremy tending bar in Greenwich Village, filling up their baskets with mochi and cheap wine and "Joe-Joes".  I'm nervous too, as are my friends.  This doesn't feel like an election.  It feels like the edge of an abyss.  I take comfort that my ancestors, who fought to create this country and then to tear it in half, would not be impressed with my predicament.

Oh, for all the voices of my elders body, but never in words:
Studs Terkel, Listener to Americans, Dies at 96
Studs Terkel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author whose searching interviews with ordinary Americans helped establish oral history as a serious genre, and who for decades was the voluble host of a popular radio show in Chicago, died Friday at his home there. He was 96.  His death was confirmed by Lois Baum, a friend and longtime colleague at the radio station WFMT.
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Studs Terkel: He'll Never Be Silenced
Louis "Studs" Terkel was many things - oral historian, radio host, agitator, Bronx-born icon of Chicago, the "great listener" who was hard of hearing, Pulitzer Prize winner. But most of all he was an inspiration. He inspired every younger activist or independent journalist who ever met him. And who among us wasn't younger than Studs?  The self-described "guerilla journalist" died Friday at 96. He was almost 70 when I first met him, more than twice my age. But I couldn't keep up.
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A lament for all the toys of youth...
MillerCoors Quietly Kills Zima

Can we please take a deep breath and think about something else for a few minutes?  I want to share an article that appeared in June, but I only heard about it a month ago, via the Planentary Society podcast that keeps me in tune with my inner planetary-geologist-geek-who-never-was:
New Image of Milky Way

If we based the importance of news on the size of the audience, then perhaps this should have been on the front cover of every newspaper, the Top Story of every online news site, and even as the opener on Extra or TMZ.  How many thousands of strange creatures have discovered on their own the true shape of their own galaxy, and did they pop a bottle of champers to celebrate?  We've never had a perfect idea of what the Milky Way looked like, but most people imagined it as an ordinary spiral galaxy, the most common type.  Now the scientists at Harvard discovered that we are, more precisely, living in a barred spiral.  A fine distinction, perhaps, but if you pause to reflect, to actually have a new and better picture of the galaxy we live in is enormous news.  It is the sort of knowledge that sadly, many of our ancestors would have loved to know.  The best image is here:

You also can see why it took so long to confirm the true nature of our galaxy; in this image, we are only 30 degrees or so from the end of this galactic "bar", looking at it nearly straight on.

In reading up for this galaxy-sized SCREED, I learned quite a bit about the Milky Way I did not know...a lot of obscure information that really should be more accessible, if only to emphasize to the kids that there are bigger things out there than planet Earth and, yeah, even the United States of America.  For example, I learned that by recent measurements, only 4% of the Milky Way (and every other galaxy likely) is composed of the visible stars, planets and dust clouds; a whopping 96% is composed of "dark energy" and "dark matter", not quite dust but very tiny particles like neutrinos, which slide easily through planets and even whole stars without stopping, surrounding the visible galaxy in a huge, invisible halo.

You can see the awesome effects of "dark matter" in this photo; the circular lines are not flaws with the mirror or image, but actual distortions of light predicted by Einstein through a huge gravitational lens of this invisible stuff:

We are so fortunate; people didn't even know we lived in one "galaxy" of many until 1925, although Immanuel Kant guessed in 1755.  Before that, we thought, galacto-centrically, that the Milky Way was IT.  The Universe got much, much bigger after the Great Debate was solved by Dr. Hubble, who found that the great "nebula" in Andromeda is not a cloud but another galaxy, actually our closest neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy.

Andromeda is older and smaller than the Milky Way, and we've counted no less than 14 "dwarf" galaxies circling it.  We have more than 14; anyone lucky enough to visit South Africa or Australia may have seen the largest two, the Magellanic Clouds, and the third galaxy in the Local Group, Triangulum.  The Local Group is the galactic equivalent of our Solar System, three galaxies (all spiral type) and 33 smaller elliptical galaxies circling them.  You've probably read that the Universe is expanding and the galaxies are rushing apart, but not at the level of the Local Group.  Indeed, we have known for some time that Andromeda, our neighbor and only visible galaxy without a telescope, is running towards us at a pretty good clip.  Someday we are gonna be one:

THAT will be a nice big crash.  Although there is enough empty space in a galaxy that very few objects will actually collide, the collision between Andromeda and the Milky Way will reorganize both rather severely; click in the lower right corner of this page for a scary little movie:

We're not quite sure how that smack will play out, because we don't know the exact direction Andromeda is taking towards us.  The Europeans are launching a satellite in 2011 to find out.  I did learn, however, that the Milky Way recently ate one its neighbors; the only thing left is the equivalent of one limb hanging out of the mouth:

We won't be around to find out.  In three billion years, when the Milky Way and Andromeda are about to mesh, the Earth will be a very hot place indeed, most life on land extinct as the Sun slowly expands and heats up.  Another billion years, and all our precious atmosphere and oceans will have boiled away, and then this poor rock will get melted to a cinder when the Sun blows up into a red giant in five or six billion years.  Hopefully whatever we've evolved into will be very, very far away, and popping the cork on that champers.  Goodbye, dear Earth!  Goodbye, Milky Way!

I've also learned some interesting things about the neighborhood of the Solar System.  We are, as I've always suspected, living in a bubble:

The Local Bubble is one of many in the Milky Way, an area of relatively empty space (10% of the galactic norm) cleared out by a recent supernova.  We've not always been in the Local Bubble, but just started crossing into it ten million years ago - a blink of an eye in astronomical and even geological time...this is the age of the Grand Canyon, or some 50 million years AFTER the extinction of the dinosaurs.  Even more precisely, I've learned that we are crossing between two bubbles, into the Local Bubble from the neighboring Loop I Bubble; the area between them is called the Local Fluff or the Local Interstellar Cloud, an area twice as dusty as the center of the bubbles, or 20% of the galactic norm.  This is good news in case our great-great-grandkids start building ramjets that use this floating hydrogen as fuel; we're presently living in a relative oil field of the stuff.  We've been crossing the Local Interstellar Cloud for between 50,000 to 150,000 years, and we'll be out of it in maybe 20,000 years.  This is truly the blink of an eye; it can be measured in historical time, as 50,000 years ago, our Solar System crossed into the fluff, and our ancestors crossed out of Africa.

I hope a few moments spent pondering our little corner of a very large Universe will relax you as it did me.  I was very pleased to learn so much about the neighborhood.  If you want to kill time identifying galaxies (and I really mean kill time) you can help with the project Galaxy Zoo.

It would be nice to live in a non-scary world, where looking at the sky is the most important task at hand.  Alas, it is not to be, and just contemplating waking up on Wednesday morning is dragging me down and squeezing a SCREED out of me...AAARRRGGGHHH.  If only the whole world had a vote, eh (thanks, Adam)?

Click on "results" and you might notice that Barack Obama has a healthy lead (in many countries a 90% lead) over Mr. McCain.  The only exceptions are Albania, Macedonia and Lesotho.  Albania is easily explained; Mr. McCain has always been a good friend to the terrorists in the KLA:

WHAT!  John McCain and TERRORISTS!  Somebody call the TV police.  Yah, right.  Lesotho, an African country, might have a 50/50 result because only 2 people have voted (call Lesotho and get one person to make it 67/33.)  The real mystery to me is Macedonia, the small country between Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia.  A measurable sample of over 300 people there voted some 85% for Mr. McCain, and there is even a Facebook group of young Macedonians for Mr. McCain.  He has backed the entrance of Macedonia into NATO, but other than that I can't see the attraction.  Anyway, regardless of the results of the real election, I have two more enemies in the world:  Macedonians and Mormons.

Oh yeah, and Mr. McCain got a big thumbs up from the wilderness of northwestern Pakistan:
The Endorsement From Hell
John McCain isn't boasting about a new endorsement, one of the very, very few he has received from overseas. It came a few days ago:  "Al Qaeda will have to support McCain in the coming election," read a commentary on a password-protected Islamist Web site that is closely linked to Al Qaeda and often disseminates the group's propaganda.  The endorsement left the McCain campaign sputtering, and noting helplessly that Hamas appears to prefer Barack Obama. Al Qaeda's apparent enthusiasm for Mr. McCain is manifestly not reciprocated.
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I am almost done, after eight years, with this criminal gang; if I wore T-shirts mine would say:  I SURVIVED NIXON, REAGAN, AND TWO BUSHES.
Bush, Paulson und Bernanke, Gebt es Endlich zu - You Fucked America
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Well, at least we didn't blow up Iran...surprise surprise.
September Surprise- by Justin Raimondo*

Maybe, in the last assessment, we really didn't have the bread.  An economic calamity can prevent disaster, right, and also hide a multitude of sins.
Marilou Johanek | Financial Crisis Buries DoJ Bombshell
At any other time, what happened in the U.S. Justice Department last week would have been big news. At any other time, when internal reports by Justice Department call for more investigation into a case of unethical, if not criminal, conduct on the part of lawmakers and the White House, the administration would have a lot of explaining to do.  But the Bush administration got lucky. As its Treasury and Federal Reserve chiefs warned that the sky was falling and the economic crash and continuing tumult on Wall Street made them seem prophetic,
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We Won't Escape the Worst Recession in 40 Years
He was the first economist to forecast - in November 2007 - a credit collapse and major financial system crash, as well as the US economy's entry into recession. The New York Times recently nicknamed him "Dr Doom." There is no denying, however, that some of his predictions - notably the crisis in the investment banking model - have proven to be valid.
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I've lost about $8000.  So what, it was all imaginary anyway.
As economy melts away, so does New York sculpture

It's not like we didn't have any warning.

Credit Canard

Newspaper article from 1999 warns about potential troubles with Fannie Mae.

Wachovia's Record Losses

Well, if Obama can't save us...
Escape global financial crisis, visit North Korea

Yes, I hope you and yours are well-situated, money in the bank, warm house, heat on, economy car, working hard.  No matter how many victories we reap today, 2009 is going to suck.  Good Goddess, has it been 8 years since "Wassup?"  Remember when Y2K and obnoxious beer ads were the biggest disasters we had to fucking worry about (thanks again, Adam)?

We really need a kind of miracle:
Franklin Roosevelt, a Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes to You
We thirst for leadership, vision, someone who can speak to us in a way that refuses to avert its eyes from the crisis but shines a light of truth upon the problem, then offers hope and possible solutions.  If this is indeed an economic 9/11, as some have suggested, we need that voice now. Right now. And so far it has yet to be heard. Not from McCain, or Obama, or President Bush.  After September 11, 2001, the President stood on a pile of debris with a megaphone and said that the whole world could hear the rescue workers and shared their grief. Soon, words of sorrow degenerated into bumper sticker rhetoric:
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Yeah, maybe there is hope after all.
Obama: The Hope of a Return to Tocquevillian America
Victor Yves Ghebali, professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced International and Development Studies, emphasizes that Obama is a "human bridge," a symbol of creative fusion.
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Prominent Republicans Cross the Aisle to Endorse Obama
Washington - Joel Haugen, a Republican fighting a tough congressional race against the Democrats in Oregon, has fallen out with his party. The reason: his surprise endorsement of Barack Obama for the presidency.  "I believe in putting nation before party and my first priority is following my conscience with regard to what is best for America," Haugen said in a statement issued by his office today. "I have a huge amount of respect for John McCain, but I believe that he has more of a cold war mentality."
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Not all the Republicans give up this easily, though...their mischief is of incomparable depth.
Wal-Mart Warns of Democratic Win
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is mobilizing its store managers and department supervisors around the country to warn that if Democrats win power in November, they'll likely change federal law to make it easier for workers to unionize companies - including Wal-Mart.  In recent weeks, thousands of Wal-Mart store managers and department heads have been summoned to mandatory meetings at which the retailer stresses the downside for workers if stores were to be unionized.
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Parsing the GOP's Plans to Challenge Foreclosed Voters
The ex-head of the Justice Department's Voting Section parses the GOP's recent threats to target voters who have lost homes to foreclosure.
The "lose your house, lose your vote" stories out of two battleground states, Michigan and Ohio continue to occupy space in the media and various blogs. The story just won't go away.  A federal lawsuit over the plan is pending in Michigan and the U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing the matter.
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At least this fellow Gen Xer fights back:
Obama Campaign Files Voter Rights Lawsuit
Responding to allegations that Republican Party officials in Macomb County, Michigan plan to use home foreclosure lists to challenge voters at the polls in November, the Obama Campaign and the Democratic National Committee filed a lawsuit on Tuesday in federal court to prevent what they contended was an illegal practice.  Obama Campaign General Counsel Bob Bauer said that using home foreclosure lists as a basis for challenging voter eligibility would have a "deadly effect of the voting process"
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Do Republicans need to behave like this?  Is it in their nature, like the spinning of the Milky Way?  Maybe so, especially when they're trying to prop up a scumbag like John McCain:
Keating Five Ring a Bell?
McCain's past collides with the present Wall Street debacle.
Once upon a time, a politician took campaign contributions and favors from a friendly constituent who happened to run a savings and loan association. The contributions were generous: They came to about $200,000 in today's dollars, and on top of that there were several free vacations for the politician and his family, along with private jet trips and other perks. The politician voted repeatedly against congressional efforts to tighten regulation of S&Ls, and in 1987, when he learned that his constituent's S&L was the target of a federal investigation, he met with regulators in an effort to get them to back off.
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McCain Repeating Keating Era Mistakes, Regulator Warns
As the stock market recovers from its biggest single-day drop since the crash of 1987, a former federal regulator who had a front-row view of John McCain's role in the Savings and Loan scandal says he is repeating some of the same mistakes.  William Black -- a deputy director of the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation during the "Keating Five" scandal that nearly ended McCain's political career -- says the Arizona Republican's chief errors at the time were underestimating the importance of regulation and relyi
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McCain Link to Private Group in Iran-Contra Case
Washington - John McCain's campaign is criticizing Barack Obama for his ties to a former radical who engaged in violent acts four decades ago, but McCain himself was closely connected to a private group that supplied aid to rebels trying to overthrow the leftist government of Nicaragua during the Iran-Contra affair.  The U.S. Council for World Freedom was part of an international organization linked to former Nazi collaborators and ultra-right-wing death squads in Central America. The group was dedicated to stamping out communism around the globe.
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The Ugly New McCain
Following his loss to George W. Bush in the 2000 South Carolina primary, John McCain did something extraordinary: He confessed to lying about how he felt about the Confederate battle flag, which he actually abhorred. "I broke my promise to always tell the truth," McCain said. Now he has broken that promise so completely that the John McCain of old is unrecognizable. He has become the sort of politician he once despised.
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Such a family man:

Carol McCain

Article recounts details of Senator John McCain's divorce from his first wife, Carol.

He's got great taste in women now, like his new wife, a regular Audrey Hepburn.
A Vote For My Husband Is A Vote For Me Not Breaking Your Fucking Neck

Then there's his taste in Vice Presidents...if this was even a choice he considered, or had thrust upon him by a computer tabulation:
A Palin Theocracy
John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate has invigorated a lackluster campaign. The media can't stop talking about her. Given McCain's age and state of health (his medical file was nearly 1,200 pages long), Palin would indeed be a heartbeat away from becoming president. But what would a Palin administration really look like?  Palin is a radical, right-wing, fundamentalist Christian who would love to create a theocracy. She believes we are living in the "end times" which will result in a bloody inferno from which only true Christians will be saved.
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Palin: The Opposite of Progress
Late last week, the first round of post-RNC convention polls showed that John McCain was the beneficiary of a generous 11-point bump in public approval. Most of this shift is attributable to previously undecided voters who've broken in McCain's favor. The reason given by the vast majority as to what precipitated their decision: Palin. Amongst these voters, three subgroups emerged as overwhelmingly shifting to the McCain/Palin ticket over the Obama/Biden one in the past week: women, Catholics, and self-identified moderates.
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I just want to point out, as much of a hick refuge as I consider Alaska, even they are not completely this stupid

Alaska Rally

Photographs shows women at an anti-Palin rally held in Anchorage, Alaska.

Palin Charged Children's Travel To State

Well, I hope it inspires half of you to prove the Republicans wrong; this is not the person women suffered for a century ago.

Why Women Should Vote

Article relates the plight of suffragists who were arrested for picketing the White House in 1917.

Woman Always Really Excited To Be In Whatever Relationship Status She's Currently In

Open this e-mail at your peril, friends...the listening posts that Bush put in won't come out easily.  No matter what happens, that fucker is still in charge for another 3 months...
Police Prepare for Post-Election Unrest
Police departments in cities across the country are beefing up their ranks for Election Day, preparing for possible civil unrest and riots after the historic presidential contest.  Public safety officials said in interviews with The Hill that the election, which will end with either the nation's first black president or its first female vice president, demanded a stronger police presence.  Some worry that if Barack Obama loses and there is suspicion of foul play in the election, violence could ensue in cities with large black populations.
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Phew...take a break "Play All Videos" to be transported to a simpler time...yah, right...

I mean, I don't want to scare you, but no matter what happens today, we are living in dangerous times.
Pentagon Debates Development of Offensive Cyberspace Capabilities
The current emphasis is on intelligence gathering and defending US electronic security, but some officials think the military should know how to attack other nations' computer systems.
Washington - Igniting a provocative new debate, senior military officials are pushing the Pentagon to go on the offensive in cyberspace by developing the ability to attack other nations' computer systems, rather than concentrating on defending America's electronic security.
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Satellite-Surveillance Program to Begin Despite Privacy Concerns
Washington - The Department of Homeland Security will proceed with the first phase of a controversial satellite-surveillance program, even though an independent review found the department hasn't yet ensured the program will comply with privacy laws.
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Weird, unsettled times.
Kentucky man, 82, accused of trading drugs for sex
Man drives drunk to protest drunk driving charge
California man accused of driving stolen SUV to court
Polish driver follows GPS directions into lake

The "war on terror" will continue, and the right people will never get caught...
Identifying the Anthrax Killer
The F.B.I. seems convinced that it has finally solved the long-festering case of who mailed the anthrax letters that killed five people in 2001. Yet its description of the evidence pointing to a mentally disturbed Army bioweapons expert as the sole culprit leaves us uncertain about whether investigators have pulled off a brilliant coup after a bumbling start, or are prematurely declaring victory, despite a lack of hard, incontrovertible proof.
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FBI Used Aggressive Tactics in Anthrax Probe
Washington - Before killing himself last week, Army scientist Bruce Ivins told friends that government agents had stalked him and his family for months, offered his son $2.5 million to rat him out and tried to turn his hospitalized daughter against him with photographs of dead anthrax victims.  The pressure on Ivins was extreme, a high-risk strategy that has failed the FBI before.
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Not to mention, we're broke, and with two hot wars cooking:
We Have the Money ...
... If only we didn't waste it on the defense budget.
There has been much moaning, air-sucking, and outrage about the $700 billion that the U.S. government is thinking of throwing away on rich New York bankers who have been ripping us off for the past few years and then letting greed drive their businesses into a variety of ditches.
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With a broken military...if anyone did want to really attack, now would be a good time.  Still want to be President, Mr. Obama?  Well, good for you.
Weakened Warriors: When the Military Gets Combat Fatigue
Has the Bush administration maxed out the military?
That the Bush presidency has placed an enormous strain on the nation's armed forces is hardly news. (The "active army is about broken," Colin Powell told CBS's Face the Nation as far back as 2006.) Less frequently noted are the long-term consequences of Iraq and Afghanistan for the military - consequences that could last, many experts now say, for a generation or more. Five signs of a military in trouble:
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Here's what we do next to make things even worse, before you take office:  Attack Pakistan...
Bush's War Widens Dangerously
The decision to make public a presidential order of last July authorizing American strikes inside Pakistan without seeking the approval of the Pakistani government ends a long debate within, and on the periphery of, the Bush administration. Senator Barack Obama, aware of this ongoing debate during his own long battle with Hillary Clinton, tried to outflank her by supporting a policy of U.S. strikes into Pakistan. Senator John McCain and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin have now echoed this view and so it has become, by consensus, official U.S. policy.
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Mustafa Qadri | Pakistan, United States: Brink of War?
As the United States steps up border raids into Pakistan, troops from both countries have commenced a deadly game of brinksmanship. Although aimed at asserting each other's military presence along the Pakistan-Afghan border, the skirmishes risk outright hostilities.
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Pakistan and US Troops Exchange Fire
Kabul, Afghanistan - Pakistani troops fired at American reconnaissance helicopters near the Afghan-Pakistan border Thursday, and ground troops then exchanged fire, the U.S. military said.  No injuries were reported, but the incident heightened tensions as the U.S. steps up cross-border operations in a volatile region known as a haven for Taliban and al-Qaida militants.
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Yeah, that's great.  There's a country we want to see collapse even more than Iraq.
Pakistan Stares Into the Abyss
A spiraling conflict, economic collapse and blackouts threaten anarchy with far-reaching implications.
Pakistan was locked in crisis last night, with the government pressed by Washington to deepen its conflict with Islamic militants in the lawless regions on the Afghan border, and obliged to call in the International Monetary Fund to stave off financial catastrophe.
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New Intelligence Report Says Pakistan Is "on the Edge"
Washington - A growing al Qaida-backed insurgency, combined with the Pakistani army's reluctance to launch an all-out crackdown, political infighting and energy and food shortages are plunging America's key ally in the war on terror deeper into turmoil and violence, says a soon-to-be completed U.S. intelligence assessment.
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Pakistan Facing Bankruptcy
Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves are so low that the country can only afford one month of imports and faces possible bankruptcy.
Islamabad - Officially, the central bank holds $8.14 billion (£4.65 billion) of foreign currency, but if forward liabilities are included, the real reserves may be only $3 billion - enough to buy about 30 days of imports like oil and food.  Nine months ago, Pakistan had $16 bn in the coffers.  The government is engulfed by crises left behind by Pervez Musharraf, the military ruler who resigned the presidency in August.
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Violence erupts over Pakistan stock drop

By Farhan Bokhari in Islamabad
Investors upset over falling Pakistan share prices smashed windows of the Karachi Stock Exchange on Thursday during a day of protests that led to scuffles between traders and investors demanding the temporary closure of the stock market.  The KSE 100 index dropped by 2.7 per cent to close at 10,212.92 points. The index has plunged 35 per cent from a record high reached on April 21.
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IMF "has six days to save Pakistan"

By Farhan Bokhari in Islamabad and Chris Bryant in Berlin
The International Monetary Fund has less than a week to prevent a full-blown financial crisis in Pakistan, Germany's foreign minister warned on Tuesday, as Islamabad said it was nearing agreement with the fund over a bail-out package.  Speaking in the Pakistani capital, Frank-Walter Steinmeier called on the IMF to save the nuclear-armed country from an escalating financial crisis by extending an "appropriate loan".
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Rats! Pakistan parliament in war on rodents

And while we're at it, let's provoke a war with the country on the other side of Iraq:
US Raid in Syria Kills Eight
Washington - American helicopters flying from Iraq landed inside Syria yesterday and dropped special forces who killed eight people, the Damascus government said last night, as Washington admitted it had targeted "foreign fighters."  Syria warned that it held the US "wholly responsible for this act of aggression and all its repercussions."
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US Raids Ignore International Law
Washington - While US officials continue to avoid discussing the weekend strikes that killed eight people in eastern Syria, Middle East experts have condemned the attacks as a violation of international law that threatens to further destabilize US-Syria relations.  Sunday, special operations forces carried out a cross-border raid from Iraq into Syria. Press reports quote one unnamed US official who claims that the strike was successful in killing Abu Ghadiya, a terrorist leader in the region. Details of the strike have not yet been released by the US government.
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Even the Israelis, not the most peaceful country in the Middle East, thinks we've gone over the top:
Advice Given, but Not Always Followed, by White House
Washington - Israel, America's staunchest ally in the Middle East, just became the latest example of a country that has decided it is better to deal with its foes than to ignore them.
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We've gone Muslim-mad:

Doll Talk

Does a Fisher-Price talking doll utter the phrases "Islam is the light" and "Satan is king"?
American Girl
The life of a young Arab in Brooklyn was pretty much normal-until being thrown in jail with her family after 9/11 changed her idea of what it means to live here.
Rasha is a petite five foot four. She walks with a feather step and looks at you with penetrating obsidian eyes. Her lips are often lightly glossed in pink, and her serious brown hair is commonly tied in a librarian's bun. She's fine-boned, with features as brittle and hard as porcelain: If you drop her, she'll break, but she'll cut you, too.
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Very contrary to the spirit of our own revolution, we are kicking at the most downtrodden:
Palestinian, Jordanian, or both?
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We have destroyed the two countries we meant to save:
The Smash of Civilizations
In the months before he ordered the invasion of Iraq, George Bush and his senior officials spoke of preserving Iraq's "patrimony" for the Iraqi people. At a time when talking about Iraqi oil was taboo, what he meant by patrimony was exactly that - Iraqi oil. In their "joint statement on Iraq's future" of April 8, 2003, George Bush and Tony Blair declared, "We reaffirm our commitment to protect Iraq's natural resources, as the patrimony of the people of Iraq, which should be used only for their benefit."
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Iraq Moving Toward Biden's Controversial Vision
In May 2006, at the height of the violence in Iraq, Senator Joe Biden floated a controversial proposal: carve out autonomous regions for the three main ethnic and religious groups - Kurds, Sunni Arabs, and Arab Shi'ites - and give them control of most governmental functions except for the military and oil industry, which would remain under central authority.
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The Surge That Failed: Afghanistan Under the Bombs
A bit past midnight on a balmy night in late August, Hedayatullah awoke to a deafening blast. He stumbled out of bed and heard angry voices drawing closer. Suddenly, his bedroom doors banged open and dozens of silhouetted figures burst in, some shouting in a strange language.  The intruders blindfolded Hedayatullah and, screaming with fury, forced him to the ground. An Afghan voice told him not to move or speak, or he would be killed. He listened for sounds from the next room, where his brother Noorullah slept with his family.
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All for revenge, and all for a lie:
Bush Had No Plan to Catch Bin Laden After 9/11
Washington - New evidence from former U.S. officials reveals that the George W. Bush administration failed to adopt any plan to block the retreat of Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders from Afghanistan to Pakistan in the first weeks after 9/11.  That failure was directly related to the fact that top administration officials gave priority to planning for war with Iraq over military action against al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
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Book Says White House Ordered Iraq-WMD Forgery
A new book by the author Ron Suskind claims that the White House ordered the CIA to forge a back-dated, handwritten letter from the head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam Hussein.  Suskind writes in "The Way of the World," to be published Tuesday, that the alleged forgery - adamantly denied by the White House - was designed to portray a false link between Hussein's regime and al Qaeda as a justification for the Iraq war.
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Suskind Stands By White House WMD Forgery Claim
Insists link between Saddam and al-Qaida was faked: "It's all on the record."
Despite adamant denials by both the White House and the CIA, journalist Ron Suskind Wednesday stood by his allegation that the Bush administration concocted a fake letter purporting to show a link between Saddam Hussein's regime and al-Qaida as a justification for the Iraq war. "It's all on the record," Suskind told Meredith Vieira on TODAY.
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But hey, guess what?  We finally got that democracy we wanted.  And it wants us out.
Iraq Demands "Clear Timeline" for US Withdrawal
Iraq's foreign minister insisted Sunday that any security deal with the United States must contain a "very clear timeline" for the departure of U.S. troops. A suicide bomber struck north of Baghdad, killing at least five people including an American soldier.  Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told reporters that American and Iraqi negotiators were "very close" to reaching a long-term security agreement that will set the rules for U.S. troops in Iraq after the U.N. mandate expires at the end of the year.
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Maliki Demands "Specific Deadline" for US Troop Pullout
Baghdad - Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki said Monday there would be no security agreement between the United States and Iraq without an unconditional timetable for withdrawal - a direct challenge to the Bush administration, which insists that the timing for troop departure would be based on conditions on the ground.  "No pact or an agreement should be set without being based on full sovereignty, national common interests, and no foreign soldier
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Afghanistan's Emerging Antiwar Movement
Afghan NGOs are teaching human rights and Islamic law along with calls to end the war with a national peace jirga.
Kabul, Afghanistan - In a musty room near the edge of town, a group of bearded men sit on the floor and heatedly discuss strategy. The men are in the planning stages of an event that they hope will impact Afghan politics - a peace jirga, or assembly, that will agitate for the end of the war between the Taliban and Afghan government by asking the two sides to come to a settlement.
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Uh, well, sure, but what about the oil?  Not that we killed a hundred thousand people for it...
US Pushes Troop Immunity, Flexible Deadline in Iraq Pact
Baghdad - Iraq and the US pushed close to a deal Thursday setting a course for American combat troops to pull out of major Iraqi cities by next June, with a broader withdrawal from the long and costly war by 2011.  Subject to final approval by the top Iraqi leadership, the exit date for U.S. troops would be December 2011, although the Americans insist on linking that target to additional security and political progress.
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U.S. Vows To Defeat Whoever It Is We're At War With

Well, just let the next President clean up the shit. Still want the job, Mr. Obama?
Iraq, US Agree No Foreign Troops After 2011: Maliki
Baghdad - Iraqi Premier Nouri al-Maliki said on Monday Washington and Baghdad have agreed there will be no foreign forces in Iraq after 2011, setting a timeline for a US withdrawal from the war-torn country.  Maliki stressed however that despite "significant progress", there are "still points of disagreement crucial to both sides" in the proposed security pact that will decide the future of US forces in Iraq.
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In Closing Deal, US and Iraq Dispute Pullout Timeline
The US and Iraq have agreed on the need for timetables for a withdrawal of American troops, Condoleezza Rice said today although the two have yet to finalise a deal that has been the subject of protracted negotiations.  The US secretary of state, who was making an unannounced trip to Baghdad, told a press conference that she had held fruitful talks with the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, and that a final agreement was near that would "solidify the significant gains" in security in Iraq over the last year.
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Iraqis Protest Agreement That Would Extend US Mandate
Baghdad - Tens of thousands of followers of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr rallied in the streets of Baghdad Saturday against a proposed American-Iraqi deal that would allow U.S. troops to stay in the country for three more years.  In a message to the marchers, one of al-Sadr's senior clerics read a statement from him warning that "whoever tells you that this pact gives us sovereignty is lying."
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Iraq's Prime Minister Won't Sign US Troop Deal
Baghdad - Fearing political division in the parliament and in his country, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki won't sign the just-completed agreement on the status of U.S. forces in Iraq, a leading lawmaker said Friday.  The new accord's demise would be a major setback for the Bush administration, which has been seeking to establish a legal basis for the extended presence of the 151,000 U.S. troops in this country, and for Iraq, which won notable concessions in the draft accord reached a week ago.
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US Threatens to Halt Services to Iraq Without Troop Accord
Baghdad - The U.S. military has warned Iraq that it will shut down military operations and other vital services throughout the country on Jan. 1 if the Iraqi government doesn't agree to a new agreement on the status of U.S. forces or a renewed United Nations mandate for the American mission in Iraq.  Many Iraqi politicians view the move as akin to political blackmail, a top Iraqi official told McClatchy Sunday.
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Iraq Revises Draft Troop Deal; US Likely to Reject Changes
Baghdad - The Iraqi cabinet agreed Tuesday to amend a draft agreement governing the status of U.S. forces in Iraq, but introduced new provisions that the U.S. military is unlikely to accept.  Among other things, the amendments would give Iraqi authorities the right to determine whether a U.S. service member was on- or off-duty when he or she committed an alleged crime outside American bases, where such an American would be tried. It also would allow authorities to inspect all U.S. cargo entering the nation.
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And, oh yeah, he gets to clean up the shit in Afghanistan too.
A Modernized Taliban Thrives in Afghanistan
Militia operates a parallel government.
Kabul - Just one year ago, the Taliban insurgency was a furtive, loosely organized guerrilla force that carried out hit-and-run ambushes, burned empty schools, left warning letters at night and concentrated attacks in the southern rural regions of its ethnic and religious heartland.  Today it is a larger, better armed and more confident militia, capable of mounting sustained military assaults.
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Afghan Roadside Bomb Incidents Hit Four-Year Peak
Washington - Roadside bomb incidents involving U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan hit their highest level in at least four years between April and June, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.  There was a peak of about 200 such incidents in Afghanistan in the three-month period, data released by a Defense Department office that oversees efforts to thwart attacks by improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, in Iraq and Afghanistan showed.
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Well, we can always provoke a war with Iran pretty easy, right?
Hersh: Cheney Plan for Creating False Flag Attack
Speaking at the Campus Progress journalism conference earlier this month, Seymour Hersh - a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist for The New Yorker - revealed that Bush administration officials held a meeting recently in the Vice President's office to discuss ways to provoke a war with Iran.  In Hersh's most recent article, he reports that this meeting occurred in the wake of the overblown incident in the Strait of Hormuz, when a U.S. carrier almost shot at a few small Iranian speedboats.
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For once, the Democrats showed some spine and saved us from that.
In Reversal, Democrats Shelve Iran Resolution
Falling from shoo-in status to widely rejected legislation within the space of four months, a resolution that would have opened the door for a naval blockade on Iran was officially shelved at the end of September, after several of its cosponsors withdrew their support. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman has promised not to bring the bill, House Concurrent Resolution 362, before the committee until concerns about the text are addressed.  Given the scare-tactic-laden climate of the past eight years, 362's journey is remarkable: it represents a forceful effort by members of Congress - prodded by grassroots groups - to turn back the tides of impending war.
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Because that is ANOTHER war we aren't going to win.
[Iran] Why Not?
You can access it at the following URL:

I dunno, maybe Obama will read this and return us to blissful isolation...
Smart Security and the End of War
David Korten's thoughts on a just foreign policy (the theme of the summer 2008 issue of YES! Magazine). "We humans have arrived at a defining moment. We must bring ourselves into balance with one another and Earth or suffer the consequences of social and environmental collapse. It creates a unique opportunity for bold action to end war as an instrument of foreign policy, convert to a peace economy, and create a world that works for all."
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Wish us luck, and vive le screed!

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