Archive for May, 2005

Yes 34%
No 61%

Yes 20%
No 68%

Approve 46%
Disapprove 48%

Right direction 34%
Wrong track 60%

Source: CBS Poll

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“The central question is no longer whether the government’s antiterrorism powers should be scaled back in the face of criticism from civil rights advocates, but whether those powers should be significantly expanded to give the F.B.I. new authority to demand records and monitor mailings without approval from a judge.

The divergent views were on full display Tuesday as the committee began its debate in earnest over the future of the Patriot Act and 16 provisions in the law that will expire at the end of the year. On Thursday, the committee will hold a closed-door hearing on a proposal to renew and expand major provisions, but critics are attacking the committee’s decision to hold the debate in secret.”

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North Carolina Republican Walter Jones, “the brains behind French toast becoming freedom toast in Capitol Hill restaurants” and critic of France in the lead-up to the Iraqi invasion recently told the North Carolina News and Observe that the U.S. went to war “with no justification.”

“If we were given misinformation intentionally by people in this administration, to commit the authority to send boys, and in some instances girls, to go into Iraq, that is wrong. Congress must be told the truth.”

Could this be the beginning of a new American Enlightenment? We’ll just have to wait and see.

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A House subcommittee appropriated another $45 billion for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, bringing total military costs to more than $300 billion. The Pentagon had just received $76 billion for the wars from an $82 billion emergency bill Congress passed this month.

But fiscal discipline is still in effect, you see. Republicans just recently passed a budget that “would shave automatically increasing benefit programs by $35 billion over five years while also cutting taxes by as much as $106 billion over the same period. Medicaid gets marked for a $10 billion reduction over four years.”

Avoiding an illegal invasion could have saved more money. (This way it’s more convenient to slash funding for social programs.) Oh but nevermind, we should just move on and ‘get over’ the deception. Impunity today, impunity tomorrow, impunity forever!

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“Nearly a dozen detainees at the Guantánamo Bay military prison in Cuba told FBI interrogators that guards had mistreated copies of the Koran, including one who said in 2002 that guards “flushed a Koran in the toilet,” according to new FBI documents released today.”

Newsweek and Michael Isikoff should be ashamed for allowing themselves to be boolied by the administration. Their behavior is symbolic of the greater U.S. mainstream media failure. Don’t expect Isikoff to apologize for the retraction.

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The House voted to “lift limits on embryonic stem cell research.” Two different bills were passed. The more controversial measure “would lift Bush’s 2001 ban on federal funding for new research using stem cells from embryos that had not been destroyed before August 2001.”

William Saletan of Slate provides the appropriate background: “Four years ago, Bush restricted federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research (or ESCR) to cell lines derived before Aug. 9, 2001. Last year, 58 senators and nearly half the House signed letters asking him to relax that restriction. For at least three years, most senators have supported legislation that would approve human therapeutic cloning. Last year, more than 200 members of the House co-sponsored legislation to expand ESCR funding.”

And who would have thought—the politicians are hypocritical! Consider the following: “None of these bills ever got an up-or-down vote. Why? Because the same Republicans who now preach about up-or-down votes bottled them up or threatened to filibuster them…”the House leadership prevented it [the House bill] from getting hearings or a vote.” In February, its sponsor, Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del., reintroduced it, but the leadership was still keeping it off the floor.”

If ESCR proponents can’t garner the 60 votes to break a filibuster, tonight’s bill will sink faster than even Sen. Frist’s faltering presidential ambitions. The Congressional Republican leadership and the President support the Smith-Davis Bill. That bill would “provide $79 million to increase stem cell research using umbilical cord blood and establish a national database for patients looking for matches. It also would clear the way for studies on stem cells derived from adults.”

The President has promised to veto the embryo-bill, should it be passed by Congress. He is like the emperor with no clothing—vetoing life saving measures in the name of saving life. So much for logic and consistency and you can just forget those Republican claims of sometimes having to burn down a village in order to save it (case in point Iraq). When it comes to placating the average fundamentalist voter, considerations of consistency are continently abandoned. (Politics! Go figure…)

We’re often lectured on extremism by the right. ‘Why should a few radical left wing judges decided the cultural norms of society?’– Don’t expect Republicans to apply these standards to their leadership.

The latest CBS News poll, conducted from May 20-23, reveals that “58% of Americans approve of medical research using embryonic stem cells, while 31% disapprove…37% think the number of stem cell lines covered by government funds should be extended; 17% think the current level is sufficient.”

Religious ideology has trumphed public health (again) and the principal of separation of church and state has been obliterated. I only wish that politicians would apply even a third of the energy they spend on ESCR debates and dealings to more immediate health care concerns (lack of health insurance). Imagine the possibilities…

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The Bush administration has spent $1 billion over the past 5 years on abstinence-only education.

These programs are required (if they want to remain eligible for federal funding) to teach students that condoms don’t work.

88% of all the 20,000 teens that has taken the abstinence pledge have broken it and 1/3 of all schools teach an abstinence only sex-ed program– they too are required to talk about the failure rate of condoms. The high-effectiveness rate is never discussed.

Because of this pledgers are 1/3 less likely to use condoms than non- pledgers. They are just as likely to be diagnosed with an STD.

None of this troubles our government. This year, we’ll spend some $167 million on spreading the failed abstinence only message. It’s a matter of ideology, not public health.

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Those familiar with the IMF/World Bank and “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” will find the following story troubling, but not at all surprising.

“Iraq’s Industry Ministry plans to partially privatize most of its 46 state-owned companies as part of the government’s plan to establish a liberal, free-market economy. Under the former regime of Saddam Hussein, only Arab countries were allowed to invest in Iraq. But the new commercial laws established by the Coalition Provisional Authority allow foreigners to own 100 percent of Iraqi businesses – the exceptions being those dealing with natural resources such as oil. Iraq has around 200 state-owned enterprises, known as SOEs, and the government wants to partially privatize or completely sell off many of these.

A high number of employees at state-owned companies have expressed anxiety over the privatization plans, fearing job losses and business closures. Last December, more than one million bank workers in India shut down its 26 state-owned banks for a day in protest against the government’s privatization plans.”

The scheme is part of a dominant American foreign policy paradigm–established in the wake of WWII. Hegemony, empire and the corperatacracy are extended economically and militarily. When the former fails, the latter kicks in.

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The Newsweek bash is a smokescreen. Previous accounts of ‘cultural defamation‘ and religious abuse have been widely reported. American corporate (and for the most part conservative) media chooses to focus on the messenger, not the message. They have also ignored our president’s culpability.

The deaths that resulted from the story are tragic. I just wish that American reactionaries would extend the same sympathy to the thousands of innocent civilians that died as a result of Mr. Bush’s inaccurate and illegal Iraqi invasion.

Full coverage on Friday 4-6pm.

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with Amanda Waas

Conservative reactionaries have expressed their dislike for the ‘homosexual agenda’ and their tentacles have penetrated the American political system. Strong evangelical efficacy has ensured political compliance from weak politicians.

Yet human consideration must supersede short term political gain. An individual’s humanity should not be sacrificed to votes. Public relations experts and high priced political consultants make this nearly impossible. To take their advice is to win political office; to go against the tide is to accomplish a structural social adjustment (and a personal disservice). The former is characteristic of the majority; the latter requires a higher level of social awareness and political courage.

Unpopular positions are sacrificed to the convenience of branding. Society defines appropriate behavior and condemns so-called deviant lifestyles. Branding along sexual preference serves calculated ends. Promoting sexual orientation to the pinnacle of personal characterization dehumanizes the characterized and divides the citizenry.

Shows like “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” (or Girl) mask uncomfortable realities to amuse the public. But not all gay men are interior decorators and not all lesbians are mechanics. Most resemble the cultural norm. Meanwhile media conglomerates continue to profit from avoiding this truth and pandering to America’s comfortable generalizations of homosexuality.


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