Friday, November 09, 2007

VETERANS DAY * A NEW MISSION

Met Daniel Ellsberg and Seymour Hersh last night after they spoke at the 24th anniversary of the Office of the Americas celebration. They were both amazing. Hersh revealed where he got the Abu Grahib photos. Also ran into the wonderful Paul Haggis (writer/director and Oscar winner of "Crash" and "Million Dollar Baby." Haggis is a tireless peace activist. His wife Deborah is too. More on this evening later.

Today on BASHAM AND CORNELL PROGRESSIVE TALK our guest is Marine Combat Vet John Conley, the amazing Marine who sent me his Purple Heart after the death threats my family received from Ann Coulter's fans...

The Basham and Cornell Show broadcasts weekday mornings at 8 am Pacific (11 a.m. Eastern) on KLAV 1230 AM Radio live in Las Vegas. All shows are simulcast on the Internet (and archived) and can be listened to at BASHAM AND CORNELL.COM We have interviewed Dennis Kucinich, John Edwards, Valerie Plame, Dahr Jamail, John Dean, Elizabeth Edwards, Mike Gravel; Pulitzer Prize winner Charlie Savage, Congressman Charlie Rangel, Senator Byron Dorgan; bestselling authors like Greg Palast, Mikey Weinstein, Paul Krugman; Media Matters’ Eric Boehlert and Paul Waldman are regular guests. Upcoming: Obama and Hilary. If you missed any of these shows, check out the archives on our website.



In the Screen Actor's Guild Building, there used to be a huge painting of Norma Rae holding the "UNION" sign. When I stepped off the elevator and saw it for the first time, it gave me goosebumps. It reminded me of the common cause we all share, not just as actors but as American citizens and workers.


I met Elizabeth Kucinich last night at a fundraiser for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and after hearing the speakers, it struck me anew that Democrats are desperately in need of hope and inspiration. We are all too mired in negativity, fear and hopelessness.

Elizabeth Kucinich, whom we're having on our show next week, has a positive, exciting new message, that inspired me to remember our true mission. We need to realize we are on the precipice of exciting, catastrophic change. We are on the edge of the NEW ENLIGHTENMENT. Instead of being defeated and pessimistic, we need to see that it's always darkest before the dawn. This is the perfect time to turn it all around. But we can't do it with incessant anger and fear. That's why Obama's message rang so true in the beginning. He was untainted. The naysayers' force of media worship and it's hideous underbelly hadn't gotten to him yet. So far, he seems to have stayed above the fray, but hasn't fulfilled expectations of the Great Colorblind Hope.

The naysayers in the media are trying to splinter us, and it may look like we've lost our balance — but now is the perfect time to see the silver lining in this whole shameful political spectacle.

BEST EXPLANATION OF THE WRITER'S STRIKE:

******
Liberals and Democrats are passionate about ending this war and all future wars. Republicans have more cynicism about America's place in the world. Liberals are probably more pure and unjaded. We actually believed the American Dream that we were the peacekeepers of the planet - the good guys. As it turns out, we are the only civilized nation to have ever dropped a nuclear bomb on a civilian population. And now we have a delusional, fear-based president who is instilling terror in us by provoking nuclear conflict with Iran. It's like the Harry Truman quote on my sidebar:

But I no longer want to focus on the bad news. Everyone else is doing that. We need to be constructive and look at the good being created all around us. There is a silver lining to every single "bad" thing happening.

New industry will be created out of the oil and gas crisis. New forms of energy, new ways to save the planet, new jobs created, newfound simplicity and love for our fellow man.

Even the Writers Strike may turn out to be the beginning of a new paradigm — where antiquated corporations no longer have a stranglehold on the true owners of creative content. Who needs corporate bosses any way?

Think about it. See a new way. I will post more later.

**********

247 comments:

  1. Watch out for Fox Security.

    I hear they're some real goons.

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  2. Poll Results
    How would you rate George W. Bush against past presidents?
    Worst ever 54% 112,264
    Worse than average 16% 33,706
    Better than average 16% 33,617
    Average 11% 23,681
    Best ever 3% 6,185

    Note on Poll Results
    Total Votes: 209,453

    ReplyDelete
  3. Poll Results
    Has your opinon of Bush changed since he took office in 2001?
    Yes, it has declined 58% 114,042
    No, it has stayed the same 33% 65,105
    Yes, it has improved 9%

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  4. Lydia said "New industry will be created out of the oil and gas crisis. New forms of energy, new ways to save the planet, new jobs created, newfound simplicity and love for our fellow man.

    Even the Writers Strike may turn out to be the beginning of a new paradigm — where antiquated corporations no longer have a stranglehold on the true owners of creative content. Who needs corporate bosses any way?

    Think about it. See a new way. I will post more later."


    I certainly agree with what you just said Lydia............I think the pendulem has started to swing the OTHER way and its a trend like the incoming tide that will be long term and gain more and more mommentum and become more powerful.


    The Conservative Movement is dead and we have a progressive movement where people value peace, freedom, democracy, privacy, the rule of law, the Constitution, Energy independence, Equitable and fair treatment of the poor including taxation.

    I think that WILL create New jobs and industries BUT that doesnt mean we dont need to debunk lies and dishonest talking points used by the MSM and Reich Wing to deceive and manipulate people to push their self serving agendas and thought doesnt mean we dont have disaterously ignorant problems and pitfalls to oppose during the remainder of this evil tyrants reign of evil.

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  5. Lydia, I believe that - sooner rather than later - we will see an onslaught of sponsored original online programming. In fact, I'm looking forward to it. There are an awful lot of very talented people out there who will never have a chance to make it into the current entertainment system. I know a lot of talented people myself, so all I can say is "look out world" - I plan on investing in better video equipment, sound and lighting and perhaps starting my own little guerrilla studio. As for now, I'm on the side of the writers. These are the men and women who put the words in the mouths of the actors. I wish them all the luck in the world.

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  6. Leave it to me to spread the vinegar...

    Why are we disheartened, disenchanted, and disgusted? Because "Nanny" Pelosi and "Stepnfetchit" Reid have left us DISENFRANCHISED.

    Yes, we want to end Chimpy's Oedipal War on Iraq. Yes, we want to start rebuilding the infrastructure of our country, so graciously left to rot by the moronic monkey and his Congressional enablers. Yes, we want Justice for the evildoers that have raped our country and wiped themselves with our Constitution. And most of all, we want the broken bodies and minds that Chimpy has generated with his Iraqi abomination to be mended, and we want our soldiers who haven't been affected thus to not be affected.

    Pelosi and Reid (not to mention Emanuel and Hoyer) do not stand with us. We sent them to do a job that they REFUSE to do. How could we not be pissed off?

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  7. The Fox protest here in NYC was peaceful.

    Pity.

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  8. The Fox protest here was peaceful too, but huge -- it seemed about 5,000 people. I was happy to see so many of my fellow SAG & AFTRA actors.

    Then I tried to take a shortcut through the Rancho Park Golf Course, and got picked up by the golf police. They didn't like my strike sign, or the fact that I was walking across the green. I know it was a mistake but I was trapped.

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  9. Well don't leave us hanging. What happened?

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  10. Well?????

    Come on Lydia. What happened when the Golf cops grabbed you? Were these guys associated with Fox? Why did your sign bother them? Did they arrest you?

    Details. I need details.

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  11. And what made you decide to walk across the golf course?

    Carrying a protest sign of all things, lol?

    I like this story already. Be sure to talk about it on the show.

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  12. And you met Dennis Kucinich's wife and now are having her on the show?

    You and Doug are getting like the who's who of the current political spectrumn.

    John Edwards, Valerie Plame, now Elizibeth Kucinich. Your show gets the best guests.

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  13. I can't wait to hear about the golf course incident. Thats so funny that you decided to cut across the golf course.

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  14. Glad the Fox protests went well.

    Saw Elizabeth Kucinich on the Daily Show last week or so, she's an amazing woman. And beautiful too!

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  15. Has the writers' strike left a comedy void in your life? Are you longing for Letterman? Jonesing for Jon Stewart? Craving new Colbert?

    Email
    Print
    Comment
    If so, I'm excited to report that 23/6 has just gone live. 23/6 (www.236.com) is the satiric news and opinion site HuffPost has been developing with IAC/InterActiveCorp. The idea is that you come to the Huffington Post to see what's happening in the world, then go to 23/6 to see the news turned inside out.

    23/6 takes on everything in the news -- from politics to pop culture -- and delivers it as it happens.

    Right now, 23/6 is featuring sharp takes on the Mukasey confirmation; the pre-endorsement IM exchange between Rudy Giuliani and Pat Robertson, a flow chart revealing JLo's thought process as she decided whether to announce her pregnancy, a look at what it would be like if Perez Hilton covered the flooding in Mexico, an entry in 23/6's ongoing feature Dikipedia (it looks just like Wikipedia, but it's about the world's biggest dicks; today's entry is on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, clearly the Dick of the Day), comedic videos, and 23/6's group blog, which we're calling "The Room."

    The Room features fast and funny contributions from a collection of over 300 comedy writers and performers -- both well-known and soon-to-be-discovered. Among those weighing in today are Don Steinberg, who offers up his "Monolog-o-tron" - an interactive writers' strike survival tool that allows you to generate your own talk show monologue through pull-down menus; Greg Fitzsimmons' observations from the picket lines ("There haven't been this many rich Jews doing laps since the Friars Club closed their swimming pool") and Monica Johnson's look at Mickey Rourke's latest run in with the law -- drunk on a Vespa scooter.

    So check it out. It's 23/6: "Some of the News, Most of the Time."

    And it comes to you from an amazing team of writers and editors, led by Jason Reich, who came to us after six years as a writer at The Daily Show. Congratulations and gratitude on our launch day to the rest of the team. To introduce them to you, here's the 23/6 masthead:

    Corporate Overlords
    Publisher: Arianna Huffington
    President: Sarah Bernard
    IAC Head of Interactive Programming: Michael Jackson

    Creative Types/Narcissists/Enablers
    Editor: Jason Reich
    Executive Consultant: Roy Sekoff
    Director of Video Content: Brian Spinks
    Designer: George Mountis
    Contributing Editors: David Bourgeois, Gabriel Delahaye, Laurie Kilmartin, Stephen Sherrill, Colleen Werthmann
    Associate Editors: Dan Hoffheins, Alex Leo, James Stuntz
    Contributors: Mark Bemesderfer, Jonathan Bines, Jake Dickerman, Ned Goldreyer, Geoff Kirsch, Ryan Levin, Tim Saccardo, Paul Slansky, Teddy Wayne
    Supervising Producer: Holly Schlesinger
    Video Contributors: Jon Benjamin, Jeff Buchanan, Bill Buckendorf, Jon Daly, Brett Gelman, Dave Hill, Todd Levin, Eugene Mirman, John Mulaney, John Roberts, Scott Sherman
    Editorial Assistant: Kevin Allocca
    Associate Video Editor: Ricky Camilleri

    Products/Technology/Computer Stuff
    Chief Technical Officer: Paul Berry
    Programmers/Backend Developers: David Brunton, Andi Trinculescu
    Product/Community Manager: Jeffrey Kurtz

    Finance/Operations/Money Stuff
    Controller: Chris Davis
    Office Manager: Tyler Pontier

    Media Relations/Fabulosity
    Vice President: Mario Ruiz

    Looks like you are right with your idea Robert.

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  16. My good blogging buddy Jim Burke, of Take It Personally sees a silver lining in all of the "poison toys" stories we've been hearing lately. I'll quote him here, because..... he made me think :)

    Maybe Christmas will be more like it used to be, since the toys won’t be the centerpiece of the family activity. There might not be any toys.
    Families will get together, and maybe they will spend their time interacting with each other. Maybe they will entertain and converse with each other. Maybe parents will talk with their kids, entertaining them with tall tales of what it was like when they grew up, or maybe read them stories.
    Best of all, they just might enjoy it.
    It might even begin to break the back of our out-of-control consumerism on the biggest consumer holiday of the year.
    Maybe poison toys are a gift, after all.
    I think it might be a great Christmas this year.

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  17. I hope Lydia shares details of the golf course incident. It sounds pretty funny. I can see her there now, sneaking across the golf course carrying a protest Fox news sign and wearing oversized sunglases. Sorry, I know its no fun getting hassled but it sounds like you had it under control, and the way you said "I was trapped" cracked me up.

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  18. Details.

    I need details.

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  19. There's a certain satisfying thrill that goes with breaking the rules for "the cause."

    I was detained many years ago for asking an inconvenient question at a Mike DeWine rally. And that really is all I did. But then they went too far and told me I could never go to another DeWine function.

    The very next time he was in the area on public property, I attended. And his people recognized me, and had me arrested. Funny thing is, they didn't bother to show up at my court date.

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  20. (Reuters) - Thousands of Hollywood screenwriters on strike against film and TV studios rallied outside 20th Century Fox on Friday in their biggest collective show of force yet as pressure mounted on both sides to resume contract talks.

    With the walkout in its fifth day, the greatest impact continued to be on scores of prime-time television shows where production work has been thrown into disarray, especially after writer-producers in charge of those programs refused to cross picket lines.

    The writer-producers, also called show runners, are themselves on strike as members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA). But management insists they are obligated as producers to continue performing non-writing duties.

    After many show runners publicly rebuffed studio calls for them to return to work this week, the studios issued breach-of-contract notices informing them their producer salaries would be cut off and warning of possible legal action, industry sources said.

    In a separate move widely seen as a hard-ball tactic by management, some studios also began suspending scores of long-term development deals with writer-producers.

    While leaders of both sides in the dispute say they are willing to return to the bargaining table, no new talks have been scheduled.

    Studio representatives have indicated the union would have to put its strike on hold in order to resume negotiations, a move the union has so far rejected.

    California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who still has close ties with many in show business from his days as an actor, said on Thursday he was talking to both sides in an effort to help them move toward settlement.

    In addition, the Los Angeles Times reported that executives from the five leading Hollywood talent agencies met behind closed doors with union leaders on Thursday offering to act as go-betweens to try to broker a deal.

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  21. RALLY AT FOX

    The TV studios' confrontation with its show runners became a focus of attention at a rally of roughly 4,000 striking writers and their supporters, some from other Hollywood talent unions, outside the headquarters of Fox studios.

    "We're shutting down production, and we're kicking corporate ass!" WGA West President Patric Verrone told a boisterous crowd.

    "These companies can't survive without us for long," said Seth MacFarlane, creator and executive producer of the Fox animated comedy "Family Guy," whose outspoken defiance of Fox studio has made him a cause celebre for striking writers.

    He then added in the malevolent, erudite voice of the show's precocious but evil baby character Stewie, "Victory will be ours," eliciting huge cheers from the crowd.

    The hourlong rally, and a march down Avenue of the Stars in Los Angeles' Century City area, followed several days in which smaller groups of strikers fanned out all over town to form picket lines outside numerous production sites.

    The Writers Guild launched its strike on Monday as last-ditch negotiations with studios on a new contract for its 12,000 members collapsed.

    The talks deadlocked mostly on differences over the writers' demands for a greater share of revenues from the Internet and other new media, widely seen as future distribution channels of choice for most entertainment.

    While there has been no obvious impact yet on the feature film industry, work ground to an immediate halt on several prime-time series and most late-night talk shows were forced into immediate reruns.

    If the strike drags on, most scripted comedies and dramas are expected to shut down production by the end of November, though networks say they have enough advance episodes filmed to keep many shows on the air without repeats until December, January or even February.

    This is where Lydia was picketing.

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  22. You'll like this Lydia:

    I wish that film and TV writers could care as much about solidarity and justice on screen as they care on the picket lines.

    By going on strike, the stage and screen writers are participating in an American tradition of people joining together, recognizing their shared fate and taking action. On the streets of the picket lines, it's evident to the writers and to those of us watching that the policies and practices that affect one writer affect all writers, and the fate of our nation's creative writers affects all of us from our living room couches to the theaters.

    But if you turn on your TV today or sit for a matinee at your local cineplex, you'd wonder whether it's an entirely different crop of folks holding the pens behind the scenes. After all, much of the shows and movies they write promote extreme greed, competition and the notion that we have to pull ourselves up from our individual bootstraps --- NOT that we're all in it together, in solidarity. While most of us in real life, like the striking writers, have learned that we can't succeed without the help of others around us, most reality TV shows from American Idol to Survivor tell us that the only way to the top is fierce competition against one another. Meanwhile shows like Desperate Housewives tell us that selfishness is good and there's no such thing as too much greed and status --- mind you, the same greed that is keeping the Hollywood execs from sharing the wealth with writers. And in countless movies, writers resort to racist and homophobic "humor" that helps further divide our country rather than unite us together.

    Unions are a powerful force for shared action in our country, when moneyed and elite interests trampling on the many below. But the size and power of unions has been declining in our go-it-alone, hyper-individualistic culture. Remember Norma Rae? When's the last time you saw a character from a TV show who was part of a union, linking arms with others across race and ethnicity for the shared cause of justice and fairness?

    There are exceptions --- films that show how we're connected to each other across race and nationality, that show how the gap between the rich and the rest of us is ruining our nation, that show how we all do better when we all do better. But sadly, these shows are far and few between, swallowed up in our hyper-individualistic, greed-is-good, consumer culture --- the very culture the writers, together, are now fighting.

    When the strike ends and they pick back up their pens, I hope Hollywood's writers will tell more stories of connectedness, equality, community and solidarity that will help create a better future for all of us --- including the writers themselves.


    Sally Kohn is the Director of the Movement Vision Lab

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  23. Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards now has a sweet endorsement, from the co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

    Ben Cohen heads a group dedicated to cutting out wasteful Pentagon spending. Cohen says his group has 10,000 members in Iowa pledged to vote for Edwards in the state’s Jan. 3 caucuses.

    Cohen joined Edwards at a Des Moines news conference to announce the endorsement.

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  24. Bartlebee -- sorry I have been offline all day.

    Here's what happened: the old geezer "Earl" who said I was trespassing on the golf course was very hostile at first. I was in a hat and sunglasses, carrying the picket sign. He said, "You're trespassing. What are you doing on the golf course?" I said, "It's a public golf course, we play here all the time." He then said, "Well paying customers are allowed to be here..."

    So I said, "I'm sorry." He said, "Get in. I have to drive you out and report you to the authorities." I guess he meant the golf police of Rancho Park.

    So as we were riding I just said, "I'm sorry. I was trying to get to my car and I thought I could cut through the baseball field." He said, "That's okay."
    Then I told him I was supporting the strikers as an actor and I took my sunglasses off.

    He became very fatherly and decided to drive me all the way to my car. So he dropped me off at the gate. He assumed I was parked outside the golf parking so I pretended to walk out the gate, then when the coast was clear I dashed back to my car, which was parked inside. As I was pulling out, he saw me, looked sort of shocked -- so I just waved and smiled and drove away. All the way down Pico everyone was honking their horns.

    I'll post a photo later.

    Yes, I'm ashamed of pretending to have parked outside the gate. A moment of weakness.

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  25. Oh, forgot to tell you this part. Earl was extremely hostile at first and spoke into a walkie-talkie "I have a trespasser carrying a picket sign from the strike at Fox. I am removing her now."

    At that point I said, "Sorry" again, "I didn't realize I would end up on the golf course, I just took the road next to the baseball field." I wanted to explain that this was our family park, my sons had their baseball practices here but instead I decided to be very quiet.

    Then I took my sunglasses off and he recognized me after I said something about having played Ted Knight's daughter as we briefly discusssed the strike -- I think I said something corny like: "Ted always supported the unions when they went on strike and would be proud.... " and that's when Earl looked at me and got very warm and fuzzy.

    Then he drove me all the way to my car/gate area. He explained that the mothers that drop their kids at the Jewish preschool across the street are always allowed to park on the lot here..

    I did feel kind of like a little girl, or a criminal in a weird way.

    My son's dad writes the Letterman Show, and he's not a big fan of strikes. But this is the most important one since TV was invented.. videocassettes have come and gone and none of us participated in that explosion -- a whole new technology is here. It's time to reformulate.

    I feel sorry for the late-night talk shows and the soaps, since no one buys those in reruns -- so they have no "skin" in this, meaning they are not involved as much in the re-use issue.

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  26. WASHINGTON -- A former New Orleans prostitute who has said David Vitter was a regular customer in 1999 says the soon-to-be congressman and U.S. senator was sometimes stressed during their meetings, complaining about "these damn politicians" trying to derail his career.

    In an interview, and an accompanying explicit photo spread, for which she was paid by Hustler magazine, Wendy Yow Ellis reveals little new about the relationship with Vitter other than what she divulged earlier this year after Vitter's name was connected to a Washington, D.C., call girl operation.

    In the interview, which will appear in the magazine's January edition, Ellis said she got into the "escort service" business in New Orleans after being approached at a strip club by a man she identified only as Jonathan. She said she soon began seeing Vitter at a French Quarter apartment, almost always on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., for several months. She suggested that Vitter, who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1999, went to some lengths to keep the relationship secret.

    "It was a rule that I could not wear any perfume, body lotions, not even take a shower," Ellis said. "Because he did not want any scent on him whatsoever. He would always come in, hang his jacket on the door, go into the bathroom and take a shower. He would come out with a towel wrapped around him and sit down on the bed. We'd talk. And then he'd do his business."

    Ellis also said that "usually people would leave their condoms in the trash can," but Vitter would take his used condoms with him.

    Vitter has acknowledged being a customer of Pamela Martin & Associates, a Washington, D.C., escort service the U.S. Justice Department says was a prostitution ring. After his cell phone number was found in the service's records, Vitter confessed to committing a "very serious sin" and said he had sought forgiveness from God and his family.

    Yow and Jeanette Maier, who has admitted running a brothel on Canal Street, then said that Vitter had also used their services. Vitter has deflected questions about those allegations by saying "those New Orleans stories" are not true.

    A spokesman for Vitter said Wednesday that the senator "is completely focused" on a vote to override President Bush's veto of a water projects bill important to Louisiana "and has already addressed all this."

    Ellis gives some conflicting images of Vitter. At one point in the interview, Ellis, 34, says that after sex, Vitter would take a shower and then leave without saying goodbye. But later in the interview, she says Vitter told her he could trust her.

    "He was personal that way. He'd say, 'This is my time with you. I don't want to spend my time anywhere else because I trust you. I know that I can come here because it's quiet and secluded.' And it was -- you had to go through several doors to get there. He would park a block away or have his driver drop him off. He was very quiet, very gentle. To me, he felt like a person who needed somebody just to be there."

    Sometimes, Ellis told Hustler, she could sense that Vitter was stressed. "He would talk about 'these damn politicians, they're trying to get me out of office.' He'd talk about Dave Treen, who was running against him" in a special election for Congress.

    Vitter defeated fellow Republican Treen in a bitterly fought runoff to succeed Rep. Bob Livingston, R-Metairie, in May 1999. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004.

    Ellis repeated her earlier account of the day their relationship ended. Ellis said she asked if he ever wanted to see her "privately," and gave him her phone number. "I wrote my name down and said my real name's Wendy. And he said, 'Oh, my God.' " That was the last time they met for sex, she said. Vitter's wife is named Wendy.

    Before that, Ellis said, she had used the name Leah, although she also said she worked under the name Wendy Cortez.

    Ellis, who Hustler says passed a lie detector test, said that after their relationship ended, Vitter would still come to a French Quarter strip club to watch her dance. "He'd just sit there and look at me," Ellis told Hustler.

    Ellis, who has a lengthy criminal record including a conviction for fraudulent use of credit cards, said she decided to go public because, "they called me a lying whore on the front page of my hometown newspaper, where my daughter could read it."

    Ellis repeated her view that Vitter should resign. "How can you talk about family values when you are continuously doing the same thing over and over again? Family values is: I believe in my marriage, I believe in my children. I believe in what I can give to my country through my marriage and family -- not my hookers on the side."

    Oh the love of a Republican Senator.

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  27. ABC's "This Week" — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn.; architect Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

    CBS' "Face the Nation" — Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.

    NBC's "Meet the Press" — Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

    CNN's "Late Edition" — Richard Armitage, former deputy secretary of State; John Bolton and Richard Holbrooke, former U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations; Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del.; Army Command Sgt. Maj. Marvin Hill and Command Sgt. Maj. Neil Ciotola.

    "Fox News Sunday" — Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

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  28. Well thats an interesting story Lydia. No I don't think you are a criminal. Misdemeanor trespassing is no more serious than a speeding ticket. Its pretty funny though that you parked on the golf course lot but were afraid to tell him that so you did a little clandestine shuffle there to get to your car. Funny stuff.

    Those rent-a-cops are bored so they treat the most minor infractions as the crime of the century. Though I'm definately gonna raz you though that you fell back on Sara Rush to bail you out, LOL. Not that I wouldn't have, lol.

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  29. And by the way, regardless of what the golf course thinks, trespassing is usually not charged unless you refused to leave, which clearly you did not.

    The courts don't have time to prosecute one time offenders cutting across the grass. You were trying to leave and you let him escort you out peacefully so no harm, no foul.

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  30. But its funny as hell.

    I knew you had on sunglasses.

    :|

    I should have seen the hat. Big floppy one, right?

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  31. Or was it a ball cap?

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  32. Ball cap: Green Bay Packers hat.

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  33. Everything in our house is Green Bay: the towels, blankets and Christmas ornaments...

    Football is sacred here and everyone has to bow down.

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  34. Yeah but wait a minute, today I was wearing an Aspen Colorado hat.

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  35. HMMMM...........I had an incident with Fox as well.........all i'll say is yours sounds more interesting!

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  36. Lydia Cornell said...
    Everything in our house is Green Bay: the towels, blankets and Christmas ornaments...

    Football is sacred here and everyone has to bow down."


    Well now that Cincinatti and Buffalo are done i'm probably rooting for Brett Favre asnd GreenBay as well...........I just wish the Patriots would have lost last week..........I've always been a big Football fan as well.

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  37. BARTLEBEE said...
    Well thats an interesting story Lydia. No I don't think you are a criminal. Misdemeanor trespassing is no more serious than a speeding ticket. Its pretty funny though that you parked on the golf course lot but were afraid to tell him that so you did a little clandestine shuffle there to get to your car. Funny stuff.

    Those rent-a-cops are bored so they treat the most minor infractions as the crime of the century. Though I'm definately gonna raz you though that you fell back on Sara Rush to bail you out, LOL. Not that I wouldn't have, lol."


    Well I agree but clearly Canada and some jurisdictions in the USA do not..............Canada is issuing $10,000 fines, 6 months in jail and confiscating your motorcycle or car for excessive speeding.

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  38. Well I think thats for over 30 mph over the posted speed or thereabouts, but yea I agree its ridiculous.

    Laws like that are signs of not only a penal society, but a penile one.

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  39. Mike said...
    BARTLEBEE said...
    Its all smoke and mirrors Clif.

    Who cares a about a freaking water bill? Now if it was to stop water-boarding, then ok, I'd say they did something.

    But they've done nothing.

    Just smoke and mirrors to keep the masses guessing.""


    After pondering this for a little bit I have to disagree...........the biggest journeys begin with a small step..........this could be the turning of tide,

    Sure its not a big victory on a big or VERY important issue but its a start.

    The Bully didnt get knocked out, bloodied or even knocked down..........but he opened his big fat mouth and Finally some one hit him.........finally someone challenged him...............finally he lost one..........finally Congress stood up and said We are a branch of government and get a say too.

    Sometimes the small victories embolden people and give them the courage to fight for the big ones that really count.

    Sure things look bleak at times and the lack of Congress even trying disgusts me but thee is always hope and finally Congress actually DID try.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Mike, the bill was to attempt to improve the levees and anti flood protection, and try to help some of the drought victims. To the people who are affected it is a big deal.

    Sending Bush a message he ain't king is also a good thing.

    The second benefit was the size of the republican override vote substantial very substantial.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Mike said...

    the biggest journeys begin with a small step..........this could be the turning of tide,

    Ok come on Mike. You're kidding me right? We've been taking "small steps" for 7 years now.

    ReplyDelete
  42. You know what they call it when you take a bunch of "small steps" all over the place?

    :|

    Dancing.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Ok come on Mike. You're kidding me right? We've been taking "small steps" for 7 years now.

    For six of those seven years the reichwing rubber stampers were in charge of the house, at least this time SOMETHING which never happened before finally happened, Bush got told NO in a legal way he can do nothing about because the US constitution LIMITS him.

    Which means the "goddamned piece of paper" does mean something, it is the way to limit the wanna be dic-tater.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Mike said...

    Sure things look bleak at times

    Gee ya THINK?

    Mike. We've invaded a foreign country and slaughters and helped to be slaughtered somewhere around a million people.

    We've tossed our constitution into the trash can and turned America into a police state that spies on every form of private communication known to man.

    Just how "bleak" do things have to get before you recognize that these assclowns are just putting on a light show?

    The truth is we went to war with Iraq and they didn't raise a finger to stop it and we're going to war with Iran and they're still not going to raise a finger to stop it.

    And that sounds pretty bleak to me.

    ReplyDelete
  45. clif said...

    For six of those seven years the reichwing rubber stampers were in charge of the house, at least this time SOMETHING which never happened before finally happened, Bush got told NO in a legal way he can do nothing about because the US constitution LIMITS him


    And thats only because the republicans let them have this one so people would feel like congress is working.

    I'll be happy to get excited when I see something, but all I see here is smoke and mirrors.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Both sides are playing partisan politics.............but the democrats hold the winning hand.

    if the repuggies dont STOP goosestepping to Bush's tune and dont take steps to start a pullout or end the war they will pay for it in the election............and the spineless democrats KNOW that damn well............THATS why Pelosi and Reed dont try to end the war or impeach Bush or Cheney.......BECAUSE they want the repugs to own the war.......they want it to be a boat anchor or albatross around the neck of the repugs for the 2008 election.

    Sure the Democrats in power like Pelosi, Reed, Hoyer etc are spineless but they are also partisan, self serving and calculating...........they are putting partisan gain over principles...........but that doesnt mean the repugs wont side with them in certain votes out of self preservation.

    I think we may either start to see several small victories for the dems or else a BIG ONE come election night next November.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Well to the people who ARE going to be helped by this bill it ain't smoke and mirrors.

    ReplyDelete
  48. They can pass all or block all the domestic spending bills they like, but they're not going to stop Bush from attacking Iran and thats the one that counts.

    ReplyDelete
  49. BTW check out the Jon Koonce link, the song It can't happen here is about just what we have been saying for the last year,

    And he has a haunting song entitled "Iraq" about the death of his son in Iraq, he is protesting in the best way he knows how, with the music he makes.

    ReplyDelete
  50. clif said...
    Well to the people who ARE going to be helped by this bill it ain't smoke and mirrors.


    I'm not bemoaning the benefits of the bill clif. Minimum wage was a good thing too, and helped lots of "Americans".

    But at the end of the day when your grandkid asks you what we did when Bush was initiating the Arab Holocaust, do you want to tell him we were busy increasing the "minimum wage"?

    It doesn't matter how many Americans the bill helps Clif. At least as far as I'm concerned. It doesn't matter until we stop our slaughter of the Arabs.

    ReplyDelete
  51. BARTLEBEE said...
    Mike said...

    Sure things look bleak at times

    Gee ya THINK?

    Mike. We've invaded a foreign country and slaughters and helped to be slaughtered somewhere around a million people.

    We've tossed our constitution into the trash can and turned America into a police state that spies on every form of private communication known to man.

    Just how "bleak" do things have to get before you recognize that these assclowns are just putting on a light show?

    The truth is we went to war with Iraq and they didn't raise a finger to stop it and we're going to war with Iran and they're still not going to raise a finger to stop it.

    And that sounds pretty bleak to me."


    Thats all very true...........the spineless Democrats probably wont stop the Idiot from attacking Iran if he wants to...........they want the repugs to destroy themselves and own this war and whatever horrors and disasters come out of it.........they are after partisan gain more than standing up and doing the right thing but that doesnt mean the repugs wont jump ship out of self preservation.........if they DONT try to take their party back from the loons in the next 6 months they will destroy themselves and fall so low that they will likely never arise again..........they will go the way of the whig party.

    ReplyDelete
  52. I held out faith in the Dem congress as long as I could Clif, Mike, but enough is enough.

    They'll continue to pass domestic spending bills that benefit Americans and hand Bush whatever he wants to wage war.

    Unless they show me something and I mean something real, then I won't believe.

    ReplyDelete
  53. I'm Doubting Bartlebee.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Mike said...

    they will go the way of the whig party.


    We're all likely going to go the way of the Whig party if Bush is permitted to attack Iran.

    ReplyDelete
  55. BARTLEBEE said...
    They can pass all or block all the domestic spending bills they like, but they're not going to stop Bush from attacking Iran and thats the one that counts."

    Never said they would............I actually think it more likely that either the military commanders or the repugs themselves might stop Bush from attacking Iran..........although I will admit I dont really think either is very likely although we can hope because I dont have any faith the Demorats will even TRY to stop Bush.

    I Dont even believe the Demorats in power WANT to end the war anymore..........I think they WANT the war to continue to rage on and become more and more unpopular to the American people so they can seize more power in 2008.

    ReplyDelete
  56. Bartlebee, I don't think Bush-Cheney will be allowed to attack Iran but because Gates and Fallon DO NOT WANT it, and they do have a vote in that.

    Fallon has already refused a third carrier in the region in the past.

    Gates isn't a neo-con but a realist republican of the old school, ie George Schulz, and those people do not any more military fiascoes from Bush-Cheney.

    What I worry about is Cheney getting Israel to attack first as a proxie (like they did Syria) and then Bush Cheney using defense of Israel to get into the war.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Mike said...


    Never said they would............


    Never said you did.

    I was responding to Clif.

    ReplyDelete
  58. I hope you guys are right but from what I hear the Military's ready to go and the joint chiefs reported to Bush that they have attack plans standing by.

    I think we'll attack Iran. What happens then is anyones guess.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Clif said..

    What I worry about is Cheney getting Israel to attack first as a proxie (like they did Syria) and then Bush Cheney using defense of Israel to get into the war.


    Thats a very, very, very very very, likely scenario.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Bartlebee plans are made for almost every contingency imaginable, we have plans to attack MANY countries, but if Fallon resists, then Bush would have to fire him ala Truman- MacArther, and then the Congress would have to do something.

    ReplyDelete
  61. Why people think we can win over hearts and minds with bullets and bombs, and a hell of a lot of threats, I'll never know.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Bartlebee, that is why I worry about that scenario, and not the gutless politicians of both parties in congress any more.

    ReplyDelete
  63. clif said...
    Bartlebee plans are made for almost every contingency imaginable


    I'm aware of that.

    What I was saying is they are reporting to Bush that they're "ready to go" and that doesn't jive with what effectively constitutes a coup as you guys describe.

    I hope you're right, I just don't see it. I see the military attacking Iran on Bush's orders, although the get Israel to attack them first thing has a high probability of occuring.

    ReplyDelete
  64. I thought for sure we would Attack Iran too............but lately although i still think it is likely to happen I feel it is less likely.

    1) they've been trying to sell it JUST like they did Iraq for the last year and the American people arent buying their BS!

    2) Like Clif said NOW there are some in the Military who oppose attacking Iran and might resist and try to run out the clock on Biush's term.

    3) Recession and dire economic problems are highly likely..............all the REALLY smart financial people that I respect are saying recession is coming the dollar will tank and things could get REALLY ugly real quick...............prior to the last month or so there were a couple of people saying it NOW almost all the people who are REAL Smart and actually KNOW economics are saying things could get ugly.

    ReplyDelete
  65. The last thing we need with another economic Depression coupled with $100 plus oil is ANOTHER quagmiew in the Middle East to send oil to $200 a barrel.............the corporate powers that REALLY run this country could turn on Bush and his delusions to attack Iran.

    ReplyDelete
  66. Evangelical Christians believe that Armegeddon will consist of Israel and the US, against the rest of the world.

    And they're working like mad to see it plays out just that way.

    ReplyDelete
  67. Mike said...
    The last thing we need with another economic Depression coupled with $100 plus oil is ANOTHER quagmiew in the Middle East to send oil to $200 a barrel.............the corporate powers that REALLY run this country could turn on Bush and his delusions to attack Iran


    No argument here. Now if we could just get Bush and the neocon nutjobs to be figure it out.

    ReplyDelete
  68. Mike the very relay UGLY is if the peak in oil production becomes a main stream MSM agenda, like we discussed, that would be an economic paradigm shift larger then the crash of 1929 was.

    ReplyDelete
  69. Well I sure hope you're right Mike.

    ReplyDelete
  70. BARTLEBEE said...
    Why people think we can win over hearts and minds with bullets and bombs, and a hell of a lot of threats, I'll never know."

    REAL people DONT............its a small cabal of knuckcledragging chest thumping wanna be tough guy chicken hawks and the rednecks and volksturm that support them as well as the few who buy into their fear mongering BS!

    ReplyDelete
  71. At this point i'm becoming more worried about an economic implosion similar to the Great Depression than an Attack on Iran.................A whole lotta very knowledable people just flip flopped and are saying the Fed is gonna cut interest rates down to possibly 3.75%.

    Richard Russel who has forcast almost EVERY recession has said if the Dow plunges below 12800.......another Depression could ensue.

    And Your right Clif Peak oil or an attack on Iran could be the catalyst.

    ReplyDelete
  72. Either would be more than a catalyst Mike, either would be a very large explosion in our economy, the housing bubble bursting is a catalyst.

    ReplyDelete
  73. All I know is the Dow drops near 12800 and i'm liquidating a sizable portion of my holdings.

    ReplyDelete
  74. Well Mike, if I am correct you will be calling your broker some time next week.

    Cause I see the DOW testing 12500 next week.

    ReplyDelete
  75. clif said...
    Well Mike, if I am correct you will be calling your broker some time next week.

    Cause I see the DOW testing 12500 next week."

    as do I............this is the ugliest I have seen since 2002 and this is typically the most bullish time of year for the market.

    ReplyDelete
  76. The peak oil thing is getting press on CNBC now. Especially since the number of super giant oil fields keeps dropping, from 12 fields pumping 1,000,000 barrels a day to four, with Cantrell in Mexico dropping off the list next year (probably). This means sometime next year we will have one fourth the number of super giants the oil consumers rely on for their daily lives.

    Get ready for 120-150 dollar a barrel oil and 4-5 dollar a gallon gas.

    You'll hear Wally-World screech when the lower classes quit buying the Chinese junk because Food and Fuel costs too much. (Along with many other discretionary income industries in the US)

    ReplyDelete
  77. Also if the Christmas Season sales is down for this year, expect the DOW and much else of the economy to be dropping next year.

    Can we say recession, about Jan 2008, worse then the 2001 recession, MUCH WORSE.

    ReplyDelete
  78. The FED stopped releasing M3 for a reason..........so they can fire up the print presses and pump money into the economy while talking tough on inflation............trouble is they cant cut rates down to 1% anymore or the dollar will collapse.

    Wonder how Georgie boy will fund his war if China and the rest of the world will no longer fund the delusional things he is doing.

    Fighting the war in the first place is sheer idiocy.............but borrowing a trillion dollars to fight an unwinnable war based on lies makes nutcases like Nero and Stalin look somewhat sane in comparison

    ReplyDelete
  79. House Democratic leader defended the party's decision not to pursue the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney, saying an effort to oust the man who is among the most vocal pushing for war with Iran is "not even in the top 10" of voters' priorities and would benefit Republicans at the polls next year.

    In a heated exchange Thursday with liberal radio host Ed Schultz, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the deputy Democratic whip, said the party, which dramatically swept into power last year, was more focused on other priorities.

    Voters asked Congress "to focus on withdrawing our troops from iraq, on expanding healthcare access. ... They did not ask us to spend any time on the impeachment of the vice president," Wasserman Schultz insisted.

    Impeachment would prevent Congress from addressing issues like the war in Iraq, healthcare, renewable energy and the environment.

    "That is all the media would focus on. ... And to what end?" she asked, arguing that Bush was the real problem and removing Cheney wouldn't make a significant difference with only a year until the next election.

    "We need to tough out the next 12 months and focus hard on the results-oriented Democratic Congress that we know we are," she said.

    Schultz argued that results were precisely what was lacking -- especially Democrats' inability to force a change in course in the president's war in Iraq.

    "This president has gotten everything that he's wanted from the Democratic Congress since the day you folks took power," the host charged.

    Schultz said Democrats need to stand firm and refuse to pass any more funding for the war in Iraq; he said Cheney's impeachment might be the country's best hope to avoid war in Iran.

    This week, Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich brought a privileged resolution to the House floor that would have impeached Cheney. Republicans foiled an attempt by Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to kill the motion, and the bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee. Wasserman Schultz voted for Hoyer's motion to table the impeachment bill, and she was defending that vote on Schultz's show Thursday.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said Conyer's committee would not begin impeachment hearings, although several members of the committee are co-sponsors of Kucinich's impeachment resolution. Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL), who's district neighbors Wasserman Schultz's, called for the committee to "schedule impeachment hearings immediately".

    "I believe Robert Wexler is off base," Wasserman Schultz said.

    Whose side are they really on?

    ReplyDelete
  80. Former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik surrendered Friday to face federal corruption charges, in what could prove to be an ongoing embarrassment for presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani.

    Kerik surrendered to the FBI in suburban White Plains, where he was fingerprinted and processed. He was scheduled to be arraigned later Friday in U.S. District Court.

    Kerik, the police commissioner under then-Mayor Giuliani and a failed nominee for homeland security secretary, was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday on 16 counts including conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and lying to the IRS. Authorities say that over a six-year period, from 1999 through 2004, Kerik failed to report more than $500,000 in income.

    "It's a sad day when this office returns an indictment against a former law enforcement officer," U.S. Attorney Michael J. Garcia said at a news conference.

    If convicted, Kerik could face up to 142 years in prison and $4.75 million in penalties.

    The indictment, unsealed Friday, alleges Kerik made false statements to the White House and other federal officials during his failed bid to head the Homeland Security department. Those statements involved failure to disclose payments from a contractor alleged to have mob ties, according to the indictment.

    Kerik was appointed police commissioner by Giuliani in 2000, and the indictment could complicate matters for the Republican presidential candidate as the first primaries draw near.

    Giuliani endorsed Kerik's 2004 nomination to head Homeland Security. Only days after Bush introduced Kerik as his nominee, Kerik announced he was withdrawing his name because of tax issues involving his former nanny.

    The indictment does not include any charges stemming from allegations of eavesdropping related to former Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro's pursuit of information about whether her husband was having an affair.

    Prosecutors had been presenting evidence to a federal grand jury for several months.

    The investigation of Kerik, 52, arose from allegations that, while a city official, he accepted $165,000 in renovations to his Bronx apartment, paid for by a mob-connected construction company that sought his help in winning city contracts.

    Kerik pleaded guilty last year to a misdemeanor charge in state court, admitting that the renovations constituted an illegal gift from the construction firm. The plea spared him jail time and preserved his career as a security consultant, but his troubles resurfaced when federal authorities convened their own grand jury to investigate allegations that he failed to report as income tens of thousands of dollars in services from his friends and supporters.

    Kerik was police commissioner on Sept. 11, 2001, and his efforts in response to the terrorist attacks helped burnish a career that came close to a Cabinet post.

    Here is some good news,

    ReplyDelete
  81. Newly confirmed Attorney General Michael Mukasey will not rein in President Bush, who views himself as having the nearly unchecked executive power of a monarch, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) says.

    "Are we just going to have another attorney general that's just going to kowtow to the king -- the president. I'm sorry I get those terms kinda confused here when I'm talking about Bush; I don't know if he's king or president," Harkin told his colleagues from the Senate floor Thursday.

    "According to the last attorney general (Bush) was king, and maybe this one believes the same thing, he can do whatever he wants to," Harkin continued. "But even in 1215, the King of England was held to the standard of habeas corpus. I guess we want to turn the clock back to before the Magna Carta."

    Harkin spoke shortly before the Senate voted to confirm Mukasey as attorney general, after the nominee weathered criticism of his refusal to declare waterboarding illegal torture. The Iowa Democrat criticized that position and the nominees refusal to commit to the notion that detainees in the war on terror -- including American citizens -- deserve habeas corpus guarantees, which require that anyone in captivity be charged with a crime or released.

    "We need an attorney general to tell this king that he's wrong, and that the rule of law will apply and the rule of law says we will not torture," Harkin said. "We will not be like our enemies. That will send a stronger signal to the world than anything else we can do."

    ReplyDelete
  82. Veterans make up one in four homeless people in the United States, though they are only 11 percent of the general adult population, according to a report to be released Thursday.

    And homelessness is not just a problem among middle-age and elderly veterans. Younger veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are trickling into shelters and soup kitchens seeking services, treatment or help with finding a job.

    The Veterans Affairs Department has identified 1,500 homeless veterans from the current wars and says 400 of them have participated in its programs specifically targeting homelessness.

    The National Alliance to End Homelessness, a public education nonprofit, based the findings of its report on numbers from Veterans Affairs and the Census Bureau. 2005 data estimated that 194,254 homeless people out of 744,313 on any given night were veterans.

    In comparison, the VA says that 20 years ago, the estimated number of veterans who were homeless on any given night was 250,000.

    Some advocates say the early presence of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan at shelters does not bode well for the future. It took roughly a decade for the lives of Vietnam veterans to unravel to the point that they started showing up among the homeless. Advocates worry that intense and repeated deployments leave newer veterans particularly vulnerable.

    "What you've done to the least of these......."

    ReplyDelete
  83. NEW YORK - Stagehands will go on strike Saturday, a move expected to darken most of the plays and musicals on Broadway, according to a person close to contract negotiations.

    The strike was to begin at 11 a.m., shuttering an early matinee of “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical,” said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity Friday night because the person was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

    Both the union, Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, and the League of American Theatres and Producers held two days of unproductive meetings Wednesday and Thursday, reportedly contentious negotiations.

    Most Broadway theaters were expected to go dark except for such nonprofits as the Roundabout Theatre Company, and several non-League theaters housing such shows as “Young Frankenstein,” “Mary Poppins” and “Xanadu.”

    Lisa Linden, a spokeswoman for the League, said, “We have not heard from Local One regarding a strike and it would be shocking if they would hurt the theatergoing public by shutting down Broadway without notice.”

    A union spokesman declined to comment.

    The talks earlier this week were observed by Thomas C. Short, international president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. Local One needed permission from Short to strike and on Thursday, its president, James J. Claffey Jr., got it.

    The union has been without a contract since the end of July. The two sides have been wrangling over work rules and staffing requirements, particularly during the expensive process of loading a show into a theater.

    November is a crucial month for Broadway, leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, the most profitable time of the year for shows.

    In addition, this month will see the opening of several plays, including Aaron Sorkin’s “The Farnsworth Invention” and “August: Osage County,” a critically acclaimed play from Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

    It's spreading and growing stronger.

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  84. Reuters) - U.S. wind power installations are projected to jump 63 percent this year amid concern about global warming and rising fuel prices, an industry group said on Wednesday.

    The U.S. wind industry is on track to complete a total of 4,000 megawatts worth of installations in 2007, or about enough to power 1 million average homes, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

    The new projection beats AWEA's previous expectation for the year by about 33 percent.

    "This is great news because it means that new, readily available, clean generation is reaching consumers at a time when electricity demand and global warming concerns are both on the rise," said Randall Swisher, AWEA's executive director, said in a release.

    Texas leads the country this year in wind power installments with California, Iowa and Minnesota close behind.

    Another source for energy.

    ReplyDelete
  85. Queen Hillary of AIPAC slept through the recent fracas involving planted FEMA reports and planted question.

    ABC News reports:

    The Clinton campaign has admitted to planting questions in Iowa. They have confirmed that a campaign staffer approached a student to ask Sen. Clinton a question about global warming during a campaign stop at a biodiesel plant in Newton, Iowa, on Nov. 6.

    The story was first reported by Patrick Caldwell, a junior at Grinnell College and the features editor of The Scarlet and Black college newspaper. He reported that student Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff was approached by the campaign to ask a question.

    She told the reporter that “they wanted a question from a college student.” She also said that she “noted that staffers prompted Clinton to call on her and another who had been approached before the event, although Clinton used her discretion to select questions and called on people who had not been prepped beforehand. Some of the questions asked were confusing and clearly off-message.”

    ReplyDelete
  86. I am writing to support the writers who are striking. As a writer myself, I know how poorly writers are paid (journalists, TV and film writers, etc.). There is a perception that TV and film writers make a lot of money. Only when they're working, which for most of them, is not often. Without a story, you have nothing.

    ReplyDelete
  87. Lydia,

    It's fun. Admit it. You're scared at the time, but you're also pumped. Especially if you think you can beat it later.

    ReplyDelete
  88. clif said,

    You'll hear Wally-World screech when the lower classes quit buying the Chinese junk because Food and Fuel costs too much. (Along with many other discretionary income industries in the US)


    clif, I've been saying for years that Mao-Mart's entire business model is DOOMED.

    Sam poked around in China, but he also looked for domestic suppliers-precisely because he always wanted some place local to supply him in case something like transport costs or production disruptions made getting the product on his shelves too costly or impossible. His heirs were either too stupid or too greedy (or both) to see the wisdom in keeping all your options open, and they forced suppliers to move production to China.

    Mao-Mart gutted the commons in this country, and they will be among the biggest sufferers when all is said and done. They've changed the business model too much and grown too large to find their way back.

    ReplyDelete
  89. Governor Strickland endorsed Hill today. And I can tell you that in Ohio, that is going to make a big difference.

    It may be time to prepare yourselves for a Hill Presidency.

    ReplyDelete
  90. Suitcase nukes said unlikely to exist

    By KATHERINE SHRADER, Associated Press Writer
    2 hours, 52 minutes ago
    WASHINGTON

    Members of Congress have warned about the dangers of suitcase nuclear weapons. Hollywood has made television shows and movies about them. Even the Federal Emergency Management Agency has alerted Americans to a threat — information the White House includes on its Web site.

    But government experts and intelligence officials say such a threat gets vastly more attention than it deserves. These officials said a true suitcase nuke would be highly complex to produce, require significant upkeep and cost a small fortune.

    Counterproliferation authorities do not completely rule out the possibility that these portable devices once existed. But they do not think the threat remains.

    "The suitcase nuke is an exciting topic that really lends itself to movies," said Vahid Majidi, the assistant director of the FBI's Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate. "No one has been able to truly identify the existence of these devices."

    ReplyDelete
  91. See folks.

    Its ALL hype.

    The right wings afraid of the BOOGEYMAN.

    ReplyDelete
  92. Great minds, Lydia. I posted the same vis explaining the writers' strike a couple days ago and fully support their effort.

    While picketing Faux, if you see Bill O, please give him a message for me:

    Ptuifffffffffffffphyyytt!!

    ReplyDelete
  93. ELLEN DEGENERES IS A SCAB
    ELLEN DEGENERES IS A SCAB
    ELLEN DEGENERES IS A SCAB
    ELLEN DEGENERES IS A SCAB
    ELLEN DEGENERES IS A SCAB
    ELLEN DEGENERES IS A SCAB
    ELLEN DEGENERES IS A SCAB
    ELLEN DEGENERES IS A SCAB

    ReplyDelete
  94. Ellen Is A Scab!

    Read more about this at:

    From The Left

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  95. Civil disobedience, that’s not our problem. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.

    ~ Howard Zinn ~

    ReplyDelete
  96. Tell Congress to Stop Big Media
    Kevin Martin, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has been keeping a secret from the American people. He wants to push through plans to remove decades-old media ownership protections. And he's trying to do it without public scrutiny.

    Senators Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.) have introduced groundbreaking bipartisan legislation that would hold the FCC accountable and put the people ahead of Big Media.

    ReplyDelete
  97. Jolly Roger, actually I am quite upset over the need to strike. My child's father says that strikes never, ever help the current crop of creative people - but they help future generations by creating residuals. But the actual writers and actors will not recoup the losses.

    Already we are feeling the ripple effect in Los Angeles.

    But there is nothing like volunteer work to put it all in perspective. My son and I joined some teens from our church and worked all morning at Hope Gardens -- a residence for homeless women and children (and families) that is part of the Union Rescue Mission.

    The kids scraped and painted walls, and we sorted through bushels of clothing donations, separating the good clothing from the crap.

    This place houses 30 homeless families and homeless senior women for up to 24 months each. It's so beautiful, out in the woods with gardens and playgrounds and rolling hills. It used to be a convalescent home and they are fixing it up.

    ReplyDelete
  98. You know guys, as bad as I feel for the poor hollywood writers not making enough money, I just can't help but muse on something I heard on Keith Olberman, about how the writers strike is actually making it easier for Bush and the republicans.

    The late night talk shows like Stewart, Colbert, Maher, Letterman, Leno, etc, have the most power to influence people on the issues.

    Thats because you can't laugh about it if its not true.

    Political satire is only funny when its true, which is why the Fox political satire show failed so miserably.

    But now, with all of the sharpest satirical critics silenced, the neocons can get away with so much more.

    I hope the writers get what they want soon, because this is not helping matters that are somewhat more serious.

    ReplyDelete
  99. NBC informed the nonwriting staff of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno that it will be laid off at the end of next week in the wake of the show shutting down for the writers’ strike.

    And with Leno still refusing to cross the picket line, the show is looking at coming back on the air Nov. 19 with guest hosts so that it can save the jobs of the nonwriters.

    “All sorts of things are being discussed, including guest hosts,” Tonight Show executive producer Debbie Vickers said. “Our preference is that we return to production of The Tonight Show with Jay as host as soon as possible.”

    B&C also learned that the same timetable has been given to the staff of NBC’s Late Night with Conan O’Brien. That show's nonwriters also face layoffs at the end of the week of Nov. 12.

    But Vickers also wants to save the jobs of her nonwriting staffers.

    “We want to protect the staff, who have been loyal to this show for decades, in the same way that Johnny Carson reluctantly returned without his writers in 1988,” she said.

    Late-night shows have gone into repeats since the strike began Monday as the hosts walked out in solidarity with their writing staffs.

    With the shows shut down, networks can cut costs by laying off most of the rest of the staff.

    And Leno’s chief writer doesn’t expect Leno back anytime soon.

    “I talk to Jay every day, and he will not be the first [late-night host] to cross the picket line,” said Tonight Show head writer Joe Medeiros, also a strike captain for the Writers Guild of America. “So they are looking at guest hosts as one possibility so all those people don’t have to lose their jobs.”

    Medeiros on Friday expressed anger at NBC for pulling the plug on the staff so quickly.

    “This is the way that NBC treats the No. 1 late-night talk show that makes them $50 million a year and has been No. 1 for 12 years?” he said, noting that NBC even turned off his NBC e-mail account.

    Even prior to the strike taking effect, many knew that the nonwriting late-night show staff members from all networks would probably begin to see layoffs within two to three weeks if their hosts did not resume their on-air duties.

    The hosts are compelled to return without their writing staffs to save the jobs of all of the nonwriters, which can number more than 100 per show.

    There is precedent for hosts to come back sans writers, as Johnny Carson and David Letterman both did during the 1988 strike.

    Medeiros also spoke in animated fashion about NBC’s decision to replace Leno with Conan O’Brien in 2009.

    “And all this after they already kicked the man out the door,” Medeiros said.

    CBS has already said that The Late Show with David Letterman will remain in repeats the week of Nov. 12.

    ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live continues to run in repeats, as its host has backed the writers not only by stepping aside, but even driving a taco truck around to picket sites in Los Angeles. Leno has also been a constant presence at picketing around town.

    Jay Leno refuses to cross the picket line so NBC is going to "SCAB OUT" the hosting duties once they lay everyone off.

    NBC: A SCAB NETWORK!

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  100. Many shows on Broadway will be cancelled as stagehands went on strike on Saturday, according to a producer's trade group.

    "Due to a strike by Local One, IATSE stagehands, there will be no performances [Saturday] at many Broadway theatres," said the posting Saturday morning on the website of the League of American Theaters and Producers.

    Tickets for Saturday's shows will be reimbursed. Otherwise, credits are also being issued.

    On Thursday, after three months of negotiations, the Local One union authorized its members to walk off the job. Workers were told Friday by its parent union to strike, reported the New York Times.

    Eight productions with separate agreements with the union will go on as usual: Young Frankenstein, Mary Poppins, Xanadu, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Mauritius, Pygmalion, The Ritz and Cymbeline.

    Off-Broadway shows and productions appearing in theatres run by nonprofit organizations will also continue.



    The two sides have been wrangling over work rules and staffing requirements. At issue are new rules for stagehands involving how many can work on a particular show and for how long, as well as what duties they can perform.

    This strike could hobble Broadway during its most lucrative month of the year: December. The week between Christmas and New Year's Day is traditionally the busiest.

    The Times report said League members predicted the strike would last only a few days, while union members felt it could last for weeks.

    In March 2003, more than a dozen Broadway shows went dark after a four-day strike by musicians, costing the city millions of dollars.

    From NY1

    AFFECTED SHOWS

    The following is an unofficial list of Broadway shows that stand to be affected by the stagehands strike.



    August: Osage County
    Avenue Q
    A Bronx Tale
    Chicago
    A Chorus Line
    The Color Purple
    Curtains
    Cyrano de Bergerac
    How the Grinch Stole Christmas
    Drowsy Chaperone
    The Farnsworth Invention
    Grease
    Hairspray
    Is He Dead?
    Jersey Boys
    Legally Blonde
    Les Miserables
    The Lion King
    The Little Mermaid
    Mamma Mia
    Phantom of the Opera
    Rent
    Rock n' Roll
    The Seafarer
    Spamalot
    Spring Awakening
    Wicked

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  101. What Are We Striking For?

    Reading through the comments to many of the blogs, there are some of you who ask why are we striking?

    To Julian and Mercutio who asked that question in a recent posting, I'd like to recommend that you look at the video called "Why We Fight"; the link is on our main page.

    Simply put, we want to be paid for what we create. The producers don't want to pay us.

    As with every union, we're negotiating a 'minimum wage' for all the members.

    In the recently concluded United Auto Workers' agreements, they have specifics in their contract covering the minimum wages for different jobs and they have health and welfare provisions that protect every worker.

    All those agreements have one idea in common: you work, you get paid. All companies are in business to make money. They hire workers to help them do that.

    The same is true in our business. There's 'glamor' associated with our product, but that shouldn't cloud the issue. We're hired because we help the companies make money. We're paid because we work.

    Writers, actors, and directors (and there are others too) are paid in two ways: 'up-front' when the work is completed and 'deferred' later when the product we've created makes more money for the company, usually because it was sold into a new market.

    One of the key provisions of the current negotiation is based on that simple fact: we're paid for our work in television or a film; now that work is being sold on the internet, so there should be a formula that calculates that additional payment.

    If you have the time to watch "Why We Fight" and still have questions, please let us know. We're trying to find the best way to explain our position and we'd like your help.

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  102. By Robin Williams

    The writer’s strike to win a fair contract enters its fifth day, as the Alliance of Motion Picture and Televisions Producers continues to refuse to return to the bargaining table.

    Striking writers and their supporters are on the picket lines at major studios in New York and California in a drive to win an equitable contract that addresses how writers get paid as new media plays a bigger and bigger role in the entertainment industry.

    The writers are seeking a formula for fair compensation for their work when it is broadcast on the Internet, downloaded to iPods or cell phones or distributed via DVD. (Click on the “Why We Fight” video for more information on the issues.)

    In New York City yesterday, comedian Robin Williams delivered bagels to strikers marching at media conglomerate Time Warner. He told the Associated Press:

    They [the producers] claim there is no money on the Internet. That’s a shell game.


    In a YouTube video posted by the Writer’s Guild of America, East (WGAE), former “Saturday Night Live” cast member and WGAE member Tim Kazurinsky tells a Chicago TV station:

    This is the big, bad writers versus the poor producers. Who are the poor producers? They are G.E., Sony, Time-Warner…the little guys.

    WGAE and Screen Actors member Tim Robbins, who was on the picket lines in New York City, told the Hollywood Reporter:

    This is not about millionaire screenwriters. They don’t need to be on strike. This is not about me, I’m fine. This is about a large amount of people who are simply trying to get their fair share….This is about middle-class writers trying to support a family and make mortgage payments.

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  103. Sorry Larry, but I just don't see the urgency here. Why now? Why this moment? Why not wait until a sane human being occupies the White House?

    People are getting killed daily over this war in Iraq and Bush is running amuck with our constitution, and the fact that writers aren't picking up royalties for internet traffic just seems to pale in comparison to me.

    I mean, help me if I'm wrong here. Show me the urgency. I don't need an article or a link, just a sentence or two. What is the urgency here? What is so urgent that we have to hand the neocons the field?

    Its like I heard someone on Countdown say the other night, "Now's a great time to make a mistake".

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  104. Anyway thats all I'll say about it. I'm not dissing the writers position, I'm merely questioning the timing here.

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  105. Lydia,

    I wasn't referring to the strike per se; I was referring to thumbing your nose at a$$holes.

    I have been an unwelcome "guest" at many Republican events, provided they held them on public property. I absolutely used to love to refuse to leave; the local constabulary finally got to where they'd almost beg me to go away. It was a hoot.

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  106. Bartlebee - there is no mystery here. The WGA contract expired at midnight on October 31. They have put this off for 20 years, constantly caving in to producers who keep saying, "Just give us 3 more years to study the new technology of videos... then just 3 more years to study this new technology of DVDs... now the internet is the future and the contract expired.

    I guess the writers could say, "Okay we'll give you an extension of another year when Bush leaves office" but that's too nebulous and has too many "ifs."

    This is about ALL the workers in this country going up against the greed of the corporate elite, the oligarchy. veryone is feeling the pain: coal miners with no labor union protections, auto workers, outsourced labor... combined with the Chinese "lead" toys and pet food scandals -- heaping coals are being poured onto the Republican party for its greedy economic policies of giving corporate bosses 200 million dollar severance and bonus packages while the actual workers have to be eliminated or outsourced or cut out of health insurance.

    This is actually the only time the Writers can strike. Their contract is up.

    Actors contract is up in June, then Directors.

    The writers set the precedent. By the way, the entertainment industry is one of America's largest exports, isn't it?

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  107. Here is a blog put out by the Strike Captains with daily updates and a page to sign up for support.


    United Hollywood

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  108. Bartlebee, the suitcase nukes like the reichwing screeches about might not exist,

    but they are theoretically possible,

    I know because the US military had the, Special Atomic Demolition Munition (SADM), I know because I was trained to disarm it.

    From Wiki;

    The Special Atomic Demolition Munition (SADM) was a United States Navy and Marines project that was demonstrated as feasible in the mid-to-late 1960s, but was never used. The project, which involved a small nuclear weapon, was designed to allow one individual to parachute from any type of aircraft carrying the weapon package and place it in a harbor or other strategic location that could be accessed from the sea. Another parachutist without a weapon package would follow the first to provide support as needed.

    The two-man team would place the weapon package in the target location, set the timer, and swim out into the ocean where they would be retrieved by a submarine or a high-speed surface water craft. The parachute jumps and the retrieval procedures were practiced extensively.

    In the 1950s and 1960s, the United States developed several different types of lightweight nuclear devices. The main one was the W54, a cylinder 40 by 60 centimeters that weighed 68 kilograms


    for the metrically challanged, that is about,

    11"x16" cylinder that weighed only 51 lbs

    Not eactly small enough to fit in a suitcase, but it will fit in a small trunk or large pull behind ......

    (the warhead was a variation of one developed for the Davy Crockett nuclear recoilless rifle). It was fired by a mechanical timer and had a variable yield ("dial-a-yield") equivalent to between 10 tons and 1 kiloton of TNT. 300 SADMs were assembled and remained in the US arsenal until 1989.


    Not as large as either the Hiroshima or Nagasaki bombs, but at least twice as powerful as the Oklahoma City divine of 1995.

    BTW the Russians also made nukes this small for similar missions, and those are the source of the "missing nukes small enough to fit in a suitcase senario;

    Controversy surrounding Russian suitcase nukes

    In 1997, former Russian National Security Advisor Alexander Lebed made public claims about lost "suitcase nukes" following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In an interview with the newsmagazine Sixty Minutes, Lebed said:

    I'm saying that more than a hundred weapons out of the supposed number of 250 are not under the control of the armed forces of Russia. I don't know their location. I don't know whether they have been destroyed or whether they are stored or whether they've been sold or stolen, I don't know.

    However, the Russian government immediately rejected Lebed's claims. Russia's atomic energy ministry went so far as to dispute that suitcase nuclear weapons had even ever been developed by the Soviet Union. Later testimony however insinuated that the suitcase bombs had been under the control of the KGB and not the army or the atomic energy ministry, so they might not know of their existence. Russian president Vladimir Putin, in an interview with Barbara Walters in 2001, stated about suitcase nukes, "I don't really believe this is true. These are just legends. One can probably assume that somebody tried to sell some nuclear secrets. But there is no documentary confirmation of those developments."

    The Russian government's statements on this matter have been contradictory. First they denied that such weapons had ever existed; then they said that all of them had been destroyed. However, the highest-ranking GRU defector Stanislav Lunev confirmed that such Russian-made devices do exist and described them in more detail [2]. These devices, “identified as RA-115s (or RA-115-01s for submersible weapons)” weigh from fifty to sixty pounds. They can last for many years if wired to an electric source. “In case there is a loss of power, there is a battery backup. If the battery runs low, the weapon has a transmitter that sends a coded message – either by satellite or directly to a GRU post at a Russian embassy or consulate.” According to Lunev, the number of “missing” nuclear devices (as found by General Lebed) “is almost identical to the number of strategic targets upon which those bombs would be used”. He suggested that they might be already deployed by the GRU operatives.


    I won't go into details about the weapons any more then what wiki has already posted on line, because even though the US weapons supposedly no longer exist, I can't be totally sure of that, and things are still classified.


    The fact that nuke warheads small enough to create such a device is NOT up for debate.

    The fact they are small enough to be man portable is not either, I had to carry a training device too far, In a Army Level B PPE—toxicological agent protective (TAP) suit, 30-minute self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), (which makes you sweat like it is 130 degrees with 95% humidity), to listen to any one dispute that.

    Have the Russians lost some of their, yes that is up for dispute,

    Did somebody give or sell some to people who have bad intentions that is also up for dispute.

    But very small nukes were built, and they are very small, man portable, easily hidden, all of which was part of their design criteria.

    That is not debatable,

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  109. Bartlebee -- also the Writers Guild and all of our unions have 3 year contracts, so every 3 years, they renegotiate.

    Here is something I just found, which sort of agrees with you -- they could have waited for the actors:

    From LA. Times:

    Until recently, conventional wisdom was that the guild would not walk out immediately but would work without a contract until early next year, to line up its negotiations with the more powerful Screen Actors Guild, whose contract expires June 30. SAG representatives have been sitting on the sidelines of the writers' talks, and both unions have been closely aligned on a number of issues, especially concerns about Internet pay. As is often said, writers can't shut down production, but actors can. For that reason, many studio executives have been more focused on preparing for a possible actors' strike next summer.

    In an effort to shift the spotlight back on their union, Writers Guild leaders have declared in recent weeks that members are prepared to walk out as early as Nov. 1. The change in strategy was partly an effort to jump-start negotiations that were going nowhere, according to guild insiders. Guild leaders also reasoned that they could inflict more damage by striking during the middle of the fall TV season than by waiting until early next year, when studios would have stockpiled more scripts.

    Although networks have enough shows to carry them through the fall season, a strike next month would disrupt midseason programs that begin airing in January and next year's TV pilot season. A prolonged walkout could force the networks to cancel a number of series in advance of the key February sweeps period, when the networks showcase their best shows to drive up ratings that help establish the advertising rates for television stations.

    Writers Guild leaders also were said to be concerned that the Directors Guild of America would negotiate an early deal, setting a framework for the other talent unions and potentially undercutting the Writers Guild's own goals. The Directors Guild has laid the groundwork for negotiations to begin this year, well before its contract expires in June.

    Walking out next month, however, poses a considerable risk for the Writers Guild. Today's studios are better able to withstand a strike than in 1988 because they're owned by media conglomerates with deep pockets.

    For their part, network executives have been preparing for a strike for months and say they will be ready should a walkout happen. They've ordered an unusual number of pilots for next year and have lined up a plethora of reality TV shows, sports programs and shows culled from their libraries to fill the airwaves during a strike.

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  110. Bumming around on youtube and found a video of a song I hadn't heard in a long time. Last time I heard it, it didn't mean much to me. It means so much more now -- just as much as it did when it was written, perhaps more.

    It needs to be played over and over again to Bush and Cheney so that maybe, just maybe, they'll get the hint.

    How many roads must a man walk down before they call him a man?
    How many seas must a whie dove sail before she sleeps in the sand?
    HOW MANY TIME MUST THE CANNONBALLS FLY BEFORE THEY'RE FOREVER BANNED?
    The answer my friend is blowing in the wind. The answer is blowing in the wind.

    How many years must a mountain exist before it is washed to the sea?
    HOW MANY YEARS CAN SOME PEOPLE EXIST BEFORE THEY'RE ALLOWED TO BE FREE?
    HOW MANY TIMES CAN A MAN TURN HIS HEAD AND PRETEND THAT HE JUST DOESN'T SEE?
    The answer my friend is blowing in the wind. The answer is blowing in the wind.

    How many times must a man look up before he can see the sky?
    HOW MANY EARS MUST ONE MAN HAVE BEFORE HE CAN HEAR PEOPLE CRY?

    HOW MANY DEATHS WITH IT TAKE 'TILL HE KNOWS THAT TOO MANY PEOPLE HAVE DIED?????

    The answer my friend is blowing in the wind. The answer is blowing in the wind.


    Damn I hate those guys.

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  111. Okay, so Bartlebee did you see my answer up above -- the WGA contract expired on October 31...

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  112. Hey Dolty Enjoy:

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  113. Congress Aims to Snuff Out Tobacco Sales
    By CHARLES BABINGTON,

    AP
    Posted: 2007-11-10 21:54:15
    Filed Under: Business News, Health News, Nation News
    WASHINGTON (Nov. 10) - Congress is taking new whacks at the cigarette industry, banning tobacco sales in Senate buildings and - more importantly - seeking a significant federal tax increase on cigarettes.

    The industry, once a lobbying behemoth, is quietly working against the tax bill. But it lacks the clout it once wielded.

    Photo Gallery: Smokiest States
    Dan Gill, AP
    Missouri | Rank: 9 (Tied)
    Adult Smoking Rate: 23.2%
    1 of 10



    Several key lawmakers said they have had no recent contacts with tobacco lobbyists. And both houses have signaled a willingness to raise the cigarette tax if other provisions of a children's health bill can be resolved.

    "I think the industry has tried to do things more quietly, largely because they obviously know how popular a tobacco tax is," said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA. The health advocacy group supports a proposed $35 billion increase in the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which a higher cigarette tax would finance.

    House and Senate negotiators are trying to craft a veto-proof version of the bill. President Bush says he would veto it because it calls for a 61 cents-per-pack increase in the federal excise tax on cigarettes, taking it to $1.

    The House came within about a dozen votes of overriding Bush's veto of a similar bill last month. The bill's supporters are offering to change program eligibility rules in hopes of picking up enough Republicans to make the revised bill veto-proof. The proposed cigarette tax increase is not at issue, leaders of both parties said.

    Philip Morris USA, the nation's largest cigarette maker, sponsors a Web site, mailings and a toll-free number urging people to ask Congress to sustain Bush's veto. "Taxing smokers is unfair," the materials say, adding that states have increased sales taxes on cigarettes 73 times since 2000.

    "We are sharing our position with legislators," Philip Morris spokesman Bill Phelps said in an interview. The company also has encouraged tobacco growers, retailers and wholesalers to get involved, he said.

    But tobacco's critics say health concerns have deeply eroded the industry's influence in Congress.

    "The country and elected officials have really made a turn," said Bill Corr, executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Cigarette companies, he said, "don't have the opportunity to go in and push members as much."

    The tobacco industry gave $3.5 million to federal campaigns and candidates in the 2006 election cycle, ranking 64th among major industry groups, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Ten years earlier, it gave $10.5 million, ranking 26th.

    Some Democratic lawmakers have groused that House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., is married to a lobbyist who has worked for Philip Morris' parent company. Blunt, who is monitoring the children's health negotiations, says his wife no longer lobbies on tobacco issues.

    In a landmark 1998 settlement of many lawsuits, four major tobacco companies agreed to help states pay for smoking-related health care costs. They paid $52.6 billion from 2000 to 2005, the government reported.

    In some ways, tobacco's presence on Capitol Hill is literally waning. The Senate Rules Committee recently ordered shops in the Capitol and all Senate office buildings to end cigarette sales by Jan. 1.

    Cigarettes are still sold in the Longworth House Office Building. But last January, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., banned smoking in the ornate Speaker's Lobby, just off the House floor.

    "The days of smoke-filled rooms in the United States Capitol are over," she said, citing the risks of cancer and respiratory diseases.

    Other congressional actions could have a far greater impact on the industry. A Senate committee recently approved legislation that would, for the first time, allow federal regulation of cigarettes. The bill, also pending in the House, would require the Food and Drug Administration to restrict tobacco advertising, regulate warning labels and remove hazardous ingredients.

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  114. Keith Olbermann, Lou Dobbs and Tweety Matthews are still on espousing their anger against Bush and the war.

    The only change is John Stewart and Leno are currently silent as they support the strike.

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  115. Didnt mean to jump off topic there -- just had to get that posted.

    Im in total support of the writers, Lydia. Granted there arent any picket lines here but I'm walking the lines in spirit.

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  116. By Amy Spies

    Having moved from New York at age three because Lucy and Desi Arnez moved my parents out to Desilu Studios in Hollywood, I grew up with writers strikes galore, some that loomed, gloomed, and then somehow didn't materialize and everything kinda went back to business as normal. But some work stoppage dark clouds doomed, raining into reality; not knowing when the strikes would end became part of my and many other families shaky beyond even earthquake-vulnerable worlds. The strike of one piece of an industry obviously affects others: directors, producers, agents, managers, lawyers even: actors, casting people, the inappropriately labeled 'below the line' workers, the crafts services people, workers in nearby restaurants, the wardrobe people, etc.....you get the idea. We all know, this is an industry town.

    People often talk about the Writers Guild as a privileged union. It's true there are writers who make heaps of money. But of the 12,000 plus Writers Guild members, many are unemployed and/or dependent on residuals that have been hard-earned and often threatened.

    Obviously, every battle has two sides. I am not saying the writers are right and the multi-conglomerate-whatever are wrong -- I just want to bring up that we, the writers (and probably most unions) have not ever gained anything except by pushing and sacrificing. Historically, in terms of Hollywood writers, this seems to have been the case.

    I point people to an article by Pat Sierchio in 'Written By,' a Writers Guild journal admittedly, but an article that describes a 10-year battle that raged from 1933 to allow the Writers Guild to even exist and operate. Here are some choice quotes from Pat Sierchio's article:

    "In response to Zanuck's assertion that the producer-dominated AMPAS provided the writers with protection, Dorothy Parker cracked, "Looking to the Academy for representation was like trying to get laid in your mother's house. Somebody was always in the parlor watching."
    "Guild supporters like Hellman and Frances Goodrich Hackett retaliated by talking to the writers on the MGM lot during lunch breaks. They could not do it by phone because Thalberg had the wires tapped. It was dangerous to even discuss the SWG on studio grounds as an unofficial blacklist began on SWG supporters. "It was the first time I began to hear the word blacklist," said Philip Dunne."

    "At the same time, the producers unleashed an offensive blitz against the Guild the week or so before the May 2 meeting. In What Makes Sammy Run, a fictionalized work dealing with this volatile period, author Budd Schulberg dubbed it "Ten Days That Shook Hollywood." (F. Scott Fitzgerald's unfinished novel, The Last Tycoon, also depicts Thalberg's war against the union.)"

    "The battle raged on until finally in May 1941 the SWG unleashed the only blockbuster weapon they had-a strike vote! An armistice was called, and the top brass from each party met at the Brown Derby to hash out the treaty. Armed with the threat of a strike the SWG negotiated an agreement with producers, which reluctantly and belatedly recognized the Guild as the screenwriters' sole bargaining agent. On June 18, 1941, nine years after SWG was formed, their first contract was signed. It was 17 pages long".

    "The final body count of writer casualties would not be determined until a few years later when the blacklist destroyed the careers of many of the Guild's proponents, including its founding father. But Lawson, who presided over the first SWG meeting in1933, was there at the final negotiation with the producers, this time in the role of a Guild board member. What must have seemed like the end of a long and fierce battle was just the beginning of an organization that today continues fighting for the rights of its 16,000 members".

    "(Dalton) Trumbo, a veteran of the 10-year conflict, summed up the struggle in a 1946 letter: "Very rarely does victory for the individual writer raise the freedom level of his fellow writers. The fight for freedom of expression in Hollywood is inextricably tied up with the fight for economic security... But the job will not be accomplished in solitude by even the most gifted individual-it will be done by organized writers."

    All I'm saying is...unlike the great snacks that are being wonderfully and generously handed out at the picketing sites and which we all completely appreciate and which buoy our spirits and our stomachs, economic, health care, and pension gains have been earned through the sweat and tears of demanding them as rights that we've been able to push forward by being united.

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  117. Mike, thank you. I LOVE that song.

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  118. BTW guys, remember the Florida state repug who was caught in a mens room just like Larry (the toe tapper) Craig?

    well he has been found guilty of;

    Allen, Guilty On All One Count

    State Rep. Bob Allen (R), was the Florida legislator and John McCain state campaign co-chair whose career took a turn for the worse back in July after he was arrested for soliciting a plain clothes police officer for sex in a public park bathroom in Titusville, Florida. After a brief heyday as Larry Craig's Sunshine state doppelganger he slipped back into national obscurity. But now TPM Reader JP brings us news that Allen has been convicted by a six person jury of one misdemeanor count of solicitation for prostitution. ....

    Another hypocrite exposed and judged to be just that a reichwing hypocrite.


    Maybe the repugs need a new mantra;

    Instead of;

    another day, another dollar,

    they need to use;

    another day, another hypocrite

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  119. Of course, it sounds much better when Peter Paul and Mary sang it than when I do.

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  120. (Hollywood Reporter) - Striking Hollywood screenwriters must turn in their unfinished projects by Friday so that union officials can ensure they don't secretly work for studios during the walkout, which is expected to be lengthy.

    Their counterparts on the East Coast must also turn in their work, although a deadline has not been set.

    The Writers Guild of America, which went out on strike against the studios on Monday, has used such script-validation programs on at least three other occasions. But as a practical matter, there's little guild officials can do to enforce participation in the program.

    On the TV side, an enforcement committee will attempt to correlate the number of scripts turned in and the number of episodes going before the cameras during the strike.

    But WGA West general counsel Tony Segall acknowledged Wednesday that participation by screenwriters is "kind of an honor system."

    The Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP), the bargaining arm of the studios, sent a letter to the West and East Coast branches of the WGA on October 19, ordering officials to cease and desist all efforts connected to their script-validation programs.

    Tightening the grip on studios.

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  121. Lydia said...
    I guess the writers could say, "Okay we'll give you an extension of another year when Bush leaves office" but that's too nebulous and has too many "ifs."

    Well that doesn't really explain why now. Especially when they can renegotiate next time. But thats fine, I can live with that. I'm not a writer and I'm not in their shoes so like I said thats all I really had to say about it. I just wish the timing were different. Theres some real problems out there right now and they were helping fight it, but I guess getting paids important too.

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  122. BTW speaking of writers;

    Norman Mailer has passed away.

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  123. Another victim of the Broadway strike: Duran Duran's Red Carpet Massacre at the Barrymore theater. Minutes ago, the band's management, Magus Entertainment, confirmed to EW.com that the band's three remaining shows, tonight, Monday, and Tuesday, will not go on -- at the Barrymore, at least -- due to the striking Local One IATSE stagehands.

    However, band insiders report that the group is actively trying to find another venue for Monday and Tuesday's shows. Tonight's performance, which was to be played before a sold-out audience of approximately 1,100 fans, has been officially canceled. Many have flown in from around the country and the world to see the group's three-act concert, which was meant to have a 10-night run on the Great White Way, leading up to the release of their 12th studio album, Red Carpet Massacre

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  124. Anyway sorry I said anything. Not trying to rain on your parade. Just giving my two cents worth.

    But I loved your story about the Golf Course. Thats a keeper.

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  125. And I mean that in a good way.

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  126. A very good question;

    How much longer can we 'overshoot'?

    Our population is consuming about 30% more trees, fish and fossil fuels than the planet can regenerate. How big a hole can we dig before we can't get out of it? Kai Ryssdal talks with Jared Diamond, a geography professor at UCLA.

    Especially since CEO's of THREE of the major oil producing corps are saying this;

    Peak oil: BP, Conoco CEOs say it's here - also IEA's Fatih Birol really freaks out

    After the CEO of Total (the French oil major) last week, two more CEOs of an oil major came out this Thursday to give stark warnings that mean that peak oil is happening right now. In addition, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency (the IEA), one of the main cheerleaders of the "there's more than enough oil" camp until now, is giving an extraordinarily pessimistic interview in the Financial Times, following the recent publication of their latest World Energy Outlook.

    Which is interesting since their comments could be used to push for investments in alternate sources of energy, which could cut the dependence of the US on their petro-based sources of energy.

    More comments;

    ConocoPhillips (COP) Chief Executive James Mulva had earlier told a New York financial conference that he doubted that world oil producers would be able to meet forecast long-term energy demand growth. The International Energy Agency, the energy watchdog for western economies, has projected 2030 world oil demand of 116 million barrels a day. But Mulva said he doesn't believe oil supply will ever exceed 100 million barrels a day. He didn't offer a price forecast.

    "Demand will be going up, but it will be constrained by supply," Mulva said. " I don't think we are going to see the supply going over 100 million barrels a day and the reason is: Where is all that going to come from?"


    Oops he just CONFIRMED that oil production is going to peak in the future if it is NOT peaking right now. (hint peak crude + condensate was May 2005, and the world is down over a million barrels of production a day since then.

    Peak all liquids C+C add NGL {natural gas liquids}, and tar sand production etc., was 2006, so we are two and a half years with a world wide peak in crude oil with a drop off ever since, and over a year post peak all liquids).

    .... this is almost small beer compared to the various bombs dropped by IEA chief economist Fatih Birol in his interview with the FT. The interview is very long, but well worth reading in its entirety. I'm providing a few quotes below, but for those of you that arre finding this diary long already, here's the quick summary:

    * we are beyond peak oil in the non-OPEC world;

    * OPEC officially has lots of reserves - but we don't really know;
    [they raise their "reserves in the 1980's but have never explained where the larger reserves came from, BTW the Kuwait's have recently admitted their "reserves" are over stated by almost 100%]

    * even if they make all the investment plans announced are made and are on time, we'll still have a gap of 12.5mb/d (more than 10% of overall demand) by 2015; we now officially need to beg OPEC to invest more;

    * oh, and by the way, that's the smaller of the two energy-related problems we have: climate change is a lot worse.


    His words, and he ain't no tree huggin' long haired dope smokin' liberal, he is the IEA's chief economist. (a propagandist arm for the oil industry which as of this last spring and summer were saying peak oil was a crazy loony tin foil hat theory, let alone their attacks on global warming)

    Might this be part of the reason he thinks this?

    North Sea Brent Oil Daily Shipments Will Fall 21% in December

    Daily shipments of North Sea Brent crude, part of the price benchmark for almost two-thirds of the world's oil, will drop by about 21 percent in December.

    Tankers are set to load 161,677 barrels a day of Brent crude in December, down from 204,500 barrels a day scheduled for November, according to the loading program of field operator Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe's largest oil company. A total of 5.01 million barrels will be shipped next month, compared with 6.14 million barrels in November.


    That is the reason that the super giants, oil fields which produce over a million barrels a day, has shrunk from 12 to 4 with Cantrall (Mexico's major producer) production shrinking fast, from )

    BTW it is also venture capitalists like T Boone Pickens;

    Tonite's OSU KU football game on ABC Brent Musberger asked Boone Pickens flat out are we at peak oil. Boone's answer was Yes the world is consuming 88 million barrels a day and producing 85 ....

    During the prime-time (seen be a large audience across the USA) college football game between Oklahoma State University and Kansas University, ABC kept showing the new Oklahoma State football stadium that Pickens is funding. So after halftime when Brent Musberger said that he would be interviewing Pickens, I assumed it would be a discussion only about the stadium.

    Then, early on in the conversation, Musberger mentions that he's read Pickens' books, and that Pickens had correctly foreseen $60, $80, $100 per barrel oil. Then out of the blue Musberger says, "I have to ask you, Boone, are we at peak oil?" Pickens says, "You mean globally? Yes, I think we are." Pickens goes on to talk about world production topping out at around 85 mbpd. With demand at 87 or 88 mbpd, he explained,we will have to see some demand destruction.


    [demand destruction is where the price of a commodity rises hight enough so some people can no longer afford to buy the product they used to use, mostly happening in Africa and poorer parts of Asia and South america these days, but could affect the US this winter with the cost of heating fuel in the north east]

    Mind you, this discussion happened with the football game still continuing. It was very surreal to hear a peak oil discussion intermixed with football play-by-play.

    I wonder what "joe sixpack" thought about that one,

    Hint things are gonna get worse, MUCH worse, because by 2020, China will probably have as many vehicles as the US, approx 250 million, with India not far behind, which means three countries will need around 75% of oil production for themselves, with the rest of the planet to divvy up the remaining 25%, but I think Russia, Brazil, the rest of the Asian and American continents along with Europe ain't gonna just accept that do you?

    Well it looks bad doesn't it?

    Too bad the sports casters are more interested in real news and facts then the talking heads on CNBC and the rest of the corporate owned MSM,

    I wonder if that is why Keith Olbermann seems more interested in facts then reichwing spin, ......

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  127. By Nora Ephron

    It's hard to be a Democrat, don't you think? There's no alternative, of course, but it's hard. Someone asked me the other day to write something about why I was a Democrat, and I had no trouble making a list of 10 reasons. Of course, five of those reasons were the Supreme Court, and the other five were more or less historical -- reasons like FDR, which is not meant to mean Franklin Delano Roosevelt exactly but some fantasy blob of Democratic values that are a distant racial memory.

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    But it's hard. It's especially hard to remember that the real enemies are the Republicans, when the Democrats tend to break your heart and the Republicans are just the boys you'd never go out with anyway.

    It's hard when you watch a debate and decide that in the end you're probably going to throw your vote away in the primary and vote for someone who doesn't have a chance, like Dennis Kucinich. I mean, look at them, look at the front runners: Hillary Clinton, who can't help being Hillary Clinton; Barack Obama, who was a disappointment from the beginning and whose new-found attack mode is as dispiriting as his low energy level used to be; John Edwards, whom I am afraid I will never be able to think of again (after this week's Peggy Noonan column in the Wall Street Journal) as anything but a desperate furry little woodland animal.

    And then there are the Democrats in the Congress. What a bunch of losers, hiding behind the fact that it takes 60 votes to shut down debate and 67 to override a presidential veto. So what? So pass a law and make Bush veto it. Make him veto something every single day. Drive the guy crazy. What have you got to lose? And meanwhile what have you done? You've voted for the surge, you've voted to authorize a war against Iran, and you're about to vote in favor of an attorney general-designate who refuses to call waterboarding torture.

    Which brings me, I'm afraid, to Chuck Schumer. I can't honestly say that Chuck Schumer broke my heart last week, because he's never really had my heart. He's Captain Bromide. And I can't even look at him without being reminded of an old radio-and-television show called Quiz Kids, which featured a boy genius named Joel Kupperman who was always waving his hand wildly whenever a question was asked and shouting, "I know! I know!" In addition, and because he happens to be my Senator, I have watched Schumer transform himself: he used to be a schlepper (as they say in Schumer's former congressional district) and now he's groomed to a fare-thee-well. I salute any man who takes charge of a thinning hairline with so much product, but Schumer's makeover always seemed to me a worrisome sign, and not merely a symptom of my own shallowness: it seemed to me to show that he had left Brooklyn and New York, in some fundamental way, for the Beltway -- which is not meant to mean the Beltway exactly but instead a nonstop series of cable and network television appearances that add up to very little in the way of action and a great deal in the way of bluster.

    Nonetheless, when I read on Friday that Schumer had decided to support Michael Mukasey for attorney general, thus making Mukasey's confirmation by the Senate inevitable, my heart sank. I read his justification of his vote. He said that Mukasey was the best we could hope for from this administration. He said the Justice Department needed to be rebuilt. He said that no nominee for attorney general was ever going to come out against waterboarding, and that Mukasey at least promised to follow the law if (somehow) the Senate passed an anti-waterboarding law (that survived a Bush veto). It's probably unfair to blame Schumer entirely for this; after all, Dianne Feinstein made the same decision. And more than half the Democrats in the Senate are apparently prepared to vote for Mukasey.

    But here's what they should do instead:

    Reject Mukasey.
    Make Bush send up another nominee.
    Reject that nominee if he won't take a position on waterboarding.
    And just keep on doing it.

    Because it's the right thing to do. Because waterboarding is torture. Because we are torturing people and it has to stop, and it will never stop unless the Democrats make it stop.

    And forget about the Justice Department. No one will fix the Justice Department until there's a new president.

    And he or she has got to be a Democrat.

    That goes without saying.

    Because after all, there's the Supreme Court.

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  128. An internet word game has generated enough rice to feed 50,000 people for one day, the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) has said.
    The game, FreeRice, tests the vocabulary of participants. For each click on a correct answer, the website donates money to buy 10 grains of rice.

    Companies advertising on the website provide the money to the WFP to buy and distribute the rice.

    FreeRice went online in early October and has now raised 1bn grains of rice.

    That is enough rice to feed 50,000 people for one day, the WFP said on Friday.

    'Viral marketing'

    The head of the WFP, Josette Sheeran, said: "FreeRice really hits home how the web can be harnessed to raise awareness and funds for he world's number one emergency."

    She said word of the game has spread with the help of internet bloggers and websites like Facebook and YouTube.

    "The site is a viral marketing success story."

    FreeRice is the invention of US online fundraising pioneer John Breen.

    Here is some good news Lydia!

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  129. It's wonderful that Musberger introduced Peak Oil to the American football fan. I wonder if we could get Madden to interview Buffet next?

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  130. Which brings me, I'm afraid, to Chuck Schumer. I can't honestly say that Chuck Schumer broke my heart last week, because he's never really had my heart. He's Captain Bromide.

    He can't be allowed to retain his senate seat. He must be held accountable and made to pay for Mukasey.

    Schumer is a ghoul.

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  131. As Congress debates new rules for government eavesdropping, a top intelligence official says it is time that people in the United States changed their definition of privacy.

    Privacy no longer can mean anonymity, says Donald Kerr, the principal deputy director of national intelligence. Instead, it should mean that government and businesses properly safeguard people's private communications and financial information.

    Kerr's comments come as Congress is taking a second look at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

    Lawmakers hastily changed the 1978 law last summer to allow the government to eavesdrop inside the United States without court permission, so long as one end of the conversation was reasonably believed to be located outside the U.S.

    The most contentious issue in the new legislation is whether to shield telecommunications companies from civil lawsuits for allegedly giving the government access to people's private e-mails and phone calls without a FISA court order between 2001 and 2007.

    Some lawmakers, including members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, appear reluctant to grant immunity. Suits might be the only way to determine how far the government has burrowed into people's privacy without court permission.

    The committee is expected to decide this week whether its version of the bill will protect telecommunications companies. About 40 wiretapping suits are pending.

    The central witness in a California lawsuit against AT&T says the government is vacuuming up billions of e-mails and phone calls as they pass through an AT&T switching station in San Francisco.

    Mark Klein, a retired AT&T technician, helped connect a device in 2003 that he says diverted and copied onto a government supercomputer every call, e-mail, and Internet site access on AT&T lines.

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed the class-action suit, claims there are as many as 20 such sites in the U.S.

    The White House has promised to veto any bill that does not grant immunity from suits such as this one.

    Congressional leaders hope to finish the bill by Thanksgiving. It would replace the FISA update enacted in August that privacy groups and civil libertarians say allows the government to read Americans' e-mails and listen to their phone calls without court oversight.

    Kerr said at an October intelligence conference in San Antonio that he finds concerns that the government may be listening in odd when people are "perfectly willing for a green-card holder at an (Internet service provider) who may or may have not have been an illegal entrant to the United States to handle their data."

    He noted that government employees face up to five years in prison and $100,000 in fines if convicted of misusing private information.

    Millions of people in this country _ particularly young people _ already have surrendered anonymity to social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook, and to Internet commerce. These sites reveal to the public, government and corporations what was once closely guarded information, like personal statistics and credit card numbers.

    "Those two generations younger than we are have a very different idea of what is essential privacy, what they would wish to protect about their lives and affairs. And so, it's not for us to inflict one size fits all," said Kerr, 68. "Protecting anonymity isn't a fight that can be won. Anyone that's typed in their name on Google understands that."

    What privacy: Under Bush's regime there is no private in privacy.

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  132. Two CIA officers have revealed Dick Cheney tried to silence dissidents within US intelligence who contradicted him over Iran's nuclear case.

    "The publication of a position paper on Iran, bringing together the views of the various American intelligence agencies, was adjourned for more than a year," ISNA reported from Le Monde.

    According to a former CIA official who was involved in the preparation of the fact sheet, known as the National Intelligence Estimate, brings together the analysis of the sixteen American intelligence agencies, the report has been ready for a year and gives an account of assessments different from that espoused by the White House and Dick Cheney.

    "They [the White House] have refused to publish the reports of these divergent appraisals," said the ex-officer.

    A second former CIA officer, Philip Giraldi, confirmed the deadlock, based on his own contacts within the American intelligence. "The National Intelligence Estimate has been revised and rewritten three times in a year, because of pressure from the White House," said Giraldi.

    "The House wants a document which it could use as evidence to justify its strategy towards Iran," he added.

    According to him, despite the pressure, several analysts refuse to assume the alarmist conclusions defended by Dick Cheney, because they consider that these conclusions are not supported by evidence.

    Similarly Gareth Porter, a specialist in espionage wrote, "Some less independent analysts are ready to give the benefit of doubt to the office of Cheney and its alarmist statements, but others dismiss such allegations."

    And Pelosi and Hoyer refuse to allow Impeachment.

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  133. As chairman of the House transportation committee, Alaska Congressman Don Young flew at least three times to upstate New York aboard a sleek jet owned by Robert Congel, an ambitious shopping mall developer seeking federal highway dollars.

    With Young’s help, Congel got millions of dollars to boost his dream of building the largest mall in North America. The veteran Republican congressman got something, too: more than $33,000 in political donations from Congel, his family and his associates.

    For Young, the Congel story was hardly unusual. Time after time, Young approved millions of dollars for highway projects for people who in turn fattened his campaign coffers.

    With money pouring in from transportation interests, Young amassed $6.5 million in political contributions from 2001 to 2005. Facing weak political opposition at home, he didn’t need much for his campaign. Instead, Young tapped his campaign fund to travel the country, often lavishly and in corporate jets, to meet with more developers and view their proposed highway projects.

    Now, though, Young’s campaign donations are going for another purpose. He’s spent nearly $450,000 on criminal defense lawyers after he learned of an FBI investigation into his relationships with political donors, who include a Florida real estate developer seeking a highway ramp near his undeveloped land.

    Young has plenty of company in Congress when it comes to parlaying federal contracts and grants into campaign donations. But few have taken richer advantage of a controversial process called “earmarking.”

    Why isn't this guy in prison?

    During his six years as chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Young transformed the massive 2005 highway spending bill by dramatically increasing the use of earmarks, which set aside billions in federal money for pet projects.

    With Young in charge, the number of earmarks more than tripled — from 1,850 projects worth $9.35 billion in 1998 to 6,371 projects valued at $24.2 billion in 2005. Federal auditors have found that thousands of these new earmarks weren't priorities for state transportation officials.

    A McClatchy Newspapers investigation has found just how lucrative Young’s earmarks were:




    Of the $6.5 million in contributions that Young collected — $5.5 million for his campaign and $1 million for his leadership political action committee (PAC) — about 85 percent came from people who didn’t live in Alaska and couldn’t vote for him.


    How many donors got earmarks is hard to determine. But an analysis of Young’s campaign finance reports show that beneficiaries of just seven earmarks carrying a total price of $259 million — none for a project in Alaska — gave the veteran congressman at least $575,000.


    As hundreds of lobbyists sought to influence the massive highway-spending bill from 2003 to 2005, Young accepted at least 20 trips aboard private aircraft provided by corporations currying favor with the powerful congressman. He also stayed at such luxury hotels and resorts as the posh Four Seasons hotel in Newport Beach, Calif., MGM’s five-diamond Bellagio casino in Las Vegas and the Lodge and Ranch at Chama, N.M., which offers pricey hunting and fly-fishing excursions.



    Young, 74, who has been Alaska’s only member of the House of Representatives for 35 years, declined to be interviewed for this story, to comment about specific earmarks or to answer questions about his political donors.

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  134. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday she does not believe a Senate resolution authorizes President Bush to take military action against Iran.

    "There is nothing in this particular resolution that would suggest that from our point of view. And, clearly, the president has also made very clear that he's on a diplomatic path where Iran comes into focus," Rice said.

    Isn't that the same baloney they said before attacking Iraq?

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  135. I'm told the WGA is planning a Bring-A-Star-To-Picket-With-You event this Tuesday that's supposed to be centered at Universal Studios at noon. There's also supposed to be a Bring-Your-Kids event underway Monday on all the picket lines since it's a school holiday, Veterans Day.

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  136. Even if you try to keep a low profile these days, the strike permeates your life. You can't swing a dead cat on Ventura Boulevard or a spent Botox needle in Beverly Hills without hitting someone who's been effected. From people on the business side who think the writers are insane and greedy, to agents who regret that it's come to this, to producers who've been booted out of their studio deals, and writers, working and not, who range from philosophical to pissed. It's already an open vein.

    Then I got a guild email suggesting I inform on anyone I know who's writing during the strike. Anonymously. And online @ www.ratbastard/scab/wga.org. It had an eerie HUAC ring to it. Are you now or have you ever been paid for writing under the table? C'mon. Time will tell whether this will be a noble effort or a fool's errand but if you're going to ask people to stop working and stop pursuing work at least have the decency to trust them.

    And then there's the nearly endless stream of analysis from every POV. One I found most interesting was the notion that, thanks to the strike, the networks will be released from the burden of having to make all these expensive pilots. First of all, there's no law stating networks need to develop comedies and dramas. They could jettison both formats tomorrow from their development slate and only do reality. But they don't because, despite the failure rate, it's financially beneficial to continue to roll the dice with scripted shows. Especially now that networks have ownership of those shows. Because scripted programming syndicates. Comedies better than dramas. I've yet to turn on late-night TV and watch an episode from the second season of Survivor or American Idol. But Seinfeld is still there. These shows have been worth aftermarket billions. I don't think they'll suddenly be devalued due to a new delivery system. People like stories. People like to laugh. It's the content. Internet streaming is not going to change that. And they will find a way to charge for it. (It would be nice if the two parties could agree on a formula today to cover that eventuality instead of bleeding the town dry, but the business has never been predicated on "nice.")

    That's why it wasn't surprising to read an article in Variety -- NETWORKS GO TO BACK-UP PLAN; STRIKE TRIGGERS DEPLOYMENT OF PILOTS -- detailing the pilots that have already been shot or the pre-ordered scripts that are "ready to go." Some interesting shows, along with the usual cops, doctors and aliens. But it's not all reality, all the time. And I assume the networks have a strategic plan behind the stockpiling of material. But I would ask them the same annoying question writers get asked in every single pilot pitch meeting: "What's episode two?" And, as a follow-up: "Who's writing it?" And: "Who's re-writing it?" Maybe the plan is to clean house of costly overall deals while keeping the wheels greased while limping toward a settlement so the Fall schedules can still be announced in May, with writers going back in June. Assuming this doesn't last that long. And that the actors don't go out. And the town doesn't go to shit.

    And as for the lame signs and slogans. I found a picture of myself and some friends marching outside Fox in 1988. We were holding the same exact WGA ON STRIKE signs with the lightning bolt. Bad graphics then. Bad graphics now. There's only one sign the writers should be holding up -- a blank one.

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  137. —"Jeopardy!" writer Andrew Price lives in a modest home, makes mortgage and car payments and describes himself and fellow scribes as "meat and potatoes people." Movie art director Sean Duggan, 38, rarely wears a tux and leads a life that's more regular than regal. "When they roll out the red carpet, they call me to do it," he says.

    To most of the world, Hollywood is all about glitz and glamor and beautiful people—some behaving badly. But Price and Duggan belong to what might be called the real Hollywood: its industrial other half, where folks live paycheck to paycheck, drive Toyotas and stay out of trouble.

    The current Writers Guild of America strike has cast a rare, international spotlight on this workaday culture of behind-the-camera jobs—known as "below the line" in production parlance.

    Most WGA members lead far from glamorous lives, and seldom earn beyond five figures each year. Yet like their colleagues who build sets, apply makeup and lay cable, they're the ones who keep Hollywood cranking the content.

    Or not.

    Since it began Monday, the writers strike has shuttered nearly a dozen TV shows, including such popular series as "The Office," "Desperate Housewives" and "24." The feature-film pipeline could be next.

    "The stars are who they are ... as a function of all those people who are unknown and keep the system going," said Elizabeth Currid, a professor at University of Southern California who studies art

    and culture in Los Angeles. "Stars wouldn't define Hollywood if there weren't these regular people doing their jobs behind the scenes, day in and day out."
    The average salary for entertainment industry employees is $73,000 a year, a handsome income that's 80 percent higher than the national average, according to a 2006 study by the Motion Picture Association of America.

    Yet most workers in Hollywood earn far less—when they even have jobs—because the MPAA's average includes multimillion dollar salaries paid to executives.

    Most of the 6,000 carpenters, welders, set decorators and prop masters represented by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 44 earn $50,000 to $80,000 a year, said secretary-treasurer Elliot Jennings.

    It's "decent money" that allows for a middle-class lifestyle, he said. But work is spotty and 10 to 15 percent of the membership are not regularly employed—a situation worsened by the increasing loss of film and television shoots to foreign locations, and now the writers strike.

    "Most of our members work paycheck-to-paycheck. They get eight months of work in a 12-month period," he said. "The amount of money we make doesn't afford most members to keep their wives home from work. We're middle-class people who get up and go to work every day and can't afford not to."

    Having a Screen Actors Guild card isn't necessarily a ticket to Hollywood success, either. Members can spend more time hustling gigs than working them. That's why so many have side jobs tending bar or waiting tables.

    "They're not living in mansions," said USC business professor S. Mark Young. "They're probably living in modest apartments."

    Writer Diana Ljungaeus was lured by the glamor of Tinseltown when she moved from her native Sweden. Yet she quickly learned Hollywood is a place where "everyone is something else."

    "You take a cab and the taxi driver is really a director and the cashier is really an actor, just doing this to get over a poor stretch," said Ljungaeus, 48, who works two jobs to support her playwriting pursuits. "Very few people can live off the arts of TV, theater and film. It's a few that can and they live well. The rest of the hopeful are just struggling."

    Glitz and glamor elude even those industry workers who do draw a reliable salary.

    Bruce Grayson has been a Hollywood makeup artist for nearly 20 years. He lives in a condo, not a mansion. He has one car, not a fleet. And he wears some designer duds, "but the articles are few and far between."

    After two decades in the business, Grayson said he's still "amazed" by the level of wealth and luxury the industry provides to the stars who put a face on Hollywood for the rest of the planet.

    "It's not my world," he said. "It's their world."

    And they know it.

    "The difference between the upper echelon in our business and the lower echelon is so striking," actor William H. Macy said as he walked the picket line with writers this week. "It's tough for me when I'm on set. It makes me feel bad when (the studios) are being so stingy with craft services (catering) people and writers, when they're trying to cut costs on that level."

    Ricky Blitt straddles both sides of Hollywood. A writer of television shows such as "Family Guy" and feature-length screenplays, he's successful enough that he doesn't have to look for jobs like many in the industry, but not so successful that he routinely rubs elbows with A-listers.

    His lifestyle is "100 percent opposite from 'Entourage,'" he said, referring to the HBO series about the entertainment business.

    "This is my Hollywood glamor life: getting up early, writing, petting my two cats and watching NHL sports packages on TV," said Blitt, who works from an office at his Hollywood Hills home. "Nobody quite knows who you are or what you do. You can afford certain privileges, but there's nothing exciting about it."

    Doesn't sound so exciting does it!

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  138. By Alec Baldwin:

    The television show 30 Rock, that I had been shooting in New York until we shut down this past Friday, has been one of the best professional experiences I have ever had. Obviously, the critical success of the show is a significant part of that. 30 Rock has had the kind of reception that writers can only dream of, and I feel that all of our writers, and especially Tina, deserve everything that has come their way.

    But any film, stage play or television show provides the opportunity for the cast and crew to bond into a remarkably fun and cordial unit. On the set of our show, we are blessed to have the best shooting crew of any in New York. However, across the board, everyone seems to recognize that the writers have a valid reason for striking.

    We finished our last pre-strike approved script on Friday. The atmosphere the last couple of days was thoughtful and a little sad, as some crew members, and eventually many more, are expected to scatter in search of work. There is other work, no doubt, but maybe not the kind like we have had up until now, with a good group of collegial and talented people working on a show that seemed to be growing, in many ways.

    Strikes, and the lack of forward-thinking negotiating that results in them, costs more than money. Sometimes, they cost you friends and family, as well.

    This from a well known actor who supports a better life for the writers.

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  139. Lydia said...

    Okay, does anyone know how my husband can find the photographer who took this picture?


    No but when you find him I'd sure like to thank him.

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  140. But I'd start with the monogram on the photo.

    I'd look for a photography studio that was called, "Image is Everything".

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  141. Peak oil meets climate change

    Two frightening trends stand out from the annual report published this week by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

    Warning about a crude oil supply crunch before 2015 involving an abrupt price increase, it says oil markets everywhere will become more sensitive than ever to Middle East disruptions, including political developments in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. And the IEA calculates that, on unchanged policies, total global emissions of carbon dioxide will rise from 27 billion tonnes in 2005 to 42 billion tonnes in 2030. That level would see world temperatures rise six degrees centrigrade by then - an utterly unsustainable increase that is also avoidable.

    These two trends thus bear out the stark warning given by Dr Jeremy Leggett this week in an Academy Times lecture in Dublin boldly entitled Half Gone: Peak Oil meets Climate Change. A former oil industry consultant and Greenpeace campaigner, he said the combination of the two "is going to hit society with a big, seismic shock . . . I hope I am wrong, but I don't believe we can avoid the third great oil crisis. We will be mobilising as though for war". Uncannily, this week's financial and economic headlines bear him out. Markets are exercised by the prospect of the international oil price reaching $100, driven by huge increased demand from China and India. Along with the growing competition from alternative biofuel production, this stokes up food prices and general inflation and contributes to uncertainties about interest rates and the current worldwide share and banking credit turmoil.

    It is salutary to recall that the international oil price was $16 a barrel in 1999. That is the essential background for understanding some of the geopolitical changes since then. Foremost among them has been the resurgence of Russia over those years, coinciding exactly with President Vladimir Putin's rise to power. Russia is now the world's second largest oil producer after Saudi Arabia, ahead of the United States, Iran and China. But as the IEA report makes clear, the Middle East region remains central, notwithstanding its political volatility. This is underlined in remarks made by a former Saudi ambassador to the US, who says an attack on Iran would make "the whole Gulf an inferno of exploding fuel tanks and shot-up facilities", which would "shoot up the price of oil astronomically".

    Given how the possibility of such a US attack has moved so far on to the international agenda, it is high time these likely consequences were taken far more seriously than has been the case so far. It would bring an oil crunch perilously near. The prospect of global warming on the scale suggested over the next two decades is even more frightening. A six degree increase is three times more than scientists say the earth can withstand without irreversible and runaway environmental degradation.

    Energy and climate change are now directly affecting the world's peace and prosperity. We have only a short time to cut oil dependence and slash carbon emissions.

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  142. Looks like the "moneyed men" have given up on Bush's failed surge and insane Iraq policy;

    In the Bond Market, a Bleak Prognosis for Iraq

    'PRESIDENT BUSH’S surge of troops in Iraq has done little to resolve the political debate over the Iraq war. But global financial markets have been monitoring the war for months, and with remarkable consistency, they have concluded that the long-term prospects for a stable Iraq are very bleak.

    That is the picture that emerges from a study by Michael Greenstone, an economics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, titled, “Is the ‘Surge’ Working? Some New Facts,” which has been circulating as a working paper in academic circles.'...snip...

    'It wasn’t until Professor Greenstone began examining the financial markets’ pricing of Iraqi government debt that he had his eureka moment. It was immediately clear that the bond market — which, historically, has often been an early indicator of the demise of a political system — was pessimistic about the Iraqi government’s chances for survival.'...snip...

    'To say the least, the market for these bonds is not robust: as of last week, a bond with a face value of $100 was trading at around $60. Professor Greenstone calculated that, from the markets’ standpoint, the implied default risk over the life of the bond was about 80 percent.'...snip...

    'During the American Civil War, for example, when Confederate forces lost at Gettysburg, Confederate cotton bonds traded in England dropped by about 14 percent. During World War II, German government bonds fell 7 percent when the Russians started their counterattack at Stalingrad in 1942, and French government bonds rose 16 percent after the Allied invasion at Normandy in 1944. Many such examples of the prescience of financial markets have been documented by economic historians.'...snip...

    'In the market, people vote with their money, and the vote is not going well for the new Iraq. Politicians in the United States may be divided over whether the surge has raised the chances of political reconciliation in Iraq. But the bond market has already made its message clear: don’t bet on it.'...snip...


    Might be why the money in the election cycle ESPECIALLY the congressional money is heavily favoring the democrats ............

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  143. Cook Political Report:

    Spending time last week on both Capitol Hill and Wall Street provided me with a stark and fascinating contrast.

    Among elected officials in Washington, there seems to be little talk about the economy and hardly any mention that the housing sector is in a free-fall.

    In New York, everyone is white-knuckled as fears over the economy and a mounting credit crunch are pervasive. What started as a subprime mortgage crisis has since spread far beyond the housing sector. That, combined with oil prices exceeding $90 a barrel, constitutes a two-pronged attack on economic expansion.

    However, among elected officials and staffs in Washington, there seems to be little talk about the economy and hardly any mention that the housing sector is in a free-fall. Most of the conversation steers away from economic problems, other than possibly the deficit and federal spending. Furthermore, the recent Democratic and Republican presidential debates have devoted hardly any time to the direction of the economy or the housing crisis.

    To be sure, there are contradictory economic data on the issue. Some support the contention that a recession is quite possible, and other data suggest the economy is remarkably strong given everything that has taken place.

    Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who has more credibility on the economy than just about anyone else, recently revised his odds of a recession from greater than one in three last spring to a not-so-comforting level of less than 50-50.

    Additionally, Harvard economics professor and former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has recently said that there is a "nearly even chance" of a recession.

    Given these possibilities, one would think elected officials would stand up and take notice.

    Tom Gallagher, who heads the Washington office of International Strategy & Investment, a firm that watches both the economy and what happens in Washington that affects the investment world, says "Markets are supposed to be forward-looking, and professional investors spend 60-plus hours a week trying to figure out the economy, so they tend to be more worried about what lies ahead than most voters."

    Only halfway kidding, Gallagher says, "One good sign a recession is over is when Congress passes an anti-recession stimulus package. That's because politicians are slow to react to economic trends, and then slow to pass legislation."

    Whether we are about to go into a recession or, more likely, a period of low growth, the fact that the rest of the world seems focused on the economy is really interesting. Bloomberg News reported this past weekend that Brazilian supermodel "Gisele Bundchen wants to remain the world's richest model and is insisting that she be paid in almost any currency but the U.S. dollar."

    The Bloomberg article goes on to point out that the U.S. dollar has lost 34 percent of its value since 2001 and plummeted to a low against the euro, Canadian dollar, Chinese yuan and British pound. Bloomberg quotes Bill Gross, the chief investment officer of Pacific Investment Management Co., as saying, "We've told all of our clients that if you only had one idea, one investment, it would be to buy an investment in a non-dollar currency."

    The Newport Beach, Calif., money manager runs the world's biggest bond fund.

    I recently overheard one of the smartest investors around bemoaning that there really wasn't a way to directly invest in Chinese currency, though it might be the soundest investment these days. Whether a cheap dollar is a good or bad thing is beside the point, but wouldn't it seem to be more of a topic of conversation around Congress than it currently is?

    It could be that American politics has such a narrow focus that a war in Iraq, a presidential election, the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran and the normal flow of legislation doesn't leave much room for other topics of conversation. Or it could be that candidates and elected officials fear that if they raise a problem, they will be expected to suggest a solution, which they are not prepared to provide yet.

    Perhaps yanking on the economic string leads to all kinds of other issues that are best not brought up.

    For instance, exactly how would you address the problems of deficits, runaway spending and entitlements? You would have to raise taxes, cut programs that are near and dear to somebody's heart, and cut entitlements or make them based on need. Is there a fear among candidates of opening Pandora's box?

    It's hard to say exactly why this disconnect exists, but there is little doubt that it does. When voters tell pollsters they are worried about the economy, jobs and where the country is headed, they are usually not addressing specific concerns as much as a broader unease about America's place in the worldwide economy. They worry about long-term prospects for quality jobs rather than a fear of what might happen in the next six months.

    It might also be that elected officials tend to look at just two pieces of economic data: unemployment figures and the change in gross domestic product. Until those plummet, it's not time to hit the panic button.

    Are they ignoring the economy into a Modern Day Depression?

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  144. By George Soros:

    In his novel 1984, George Orwell chillingly described a totalitarian regime in which all communication is controlled by a Ministry of Truth and dissidents are persecuted by political police. The United States remains a democracy governed by a constitution and the rule of law, with pluralistic media; yet there are disturbing signs that the propaganda methods Orwell described have taken root here.

    Indeed, techniques of deception have undergone enormous improvements since Orwell's time. Many of these techniques were developed in connection with the advertising and marketing of commercial products and services, and then adapted to politics. Their distinguishing feature is that they can be bought for money. More recently, cognitive science has helped to make the techniques of deception even more effective, giving rise to political professionals who concentrate only on "getting results".

    These professionals take pride in their accomplishments, and may even enjoy the respect of an American public that admires success no matter how it is achieved. That fact casts doubt on Karl Popper's concept of an open society, which is based on the recognition that, while perfect knowledge is unattainable, we can gain a better understanding of reality by engaging in critical thinking.

    Popper failed to recognise that in democratic politics, gathering public support takes precedence over the pursuit of truth. In other areas, such as science and industry, the impulse to impose one's views on the world encounters the resistance of external reality. But in politics the electorate's perception of reality can be easily manipulated. As a result, political discourse, even in democratic societies, does not necessarily lead to a better understanding of reality.

    The reason democratic politics leads to manipulation is that politicians do not aspire to tell the truth. They want to win elections, and the best way to do that is to skew reality to their own benefit.

    This insight should lead us not to abandon the concept of open society, but to revise and reaffirm the case for it. We must abandon Popper's tacit assumption that political discourse aims at a better understanding of reality and reintroduce it as an explicit requirement. The separation of powers, free speech and free elections alone cannot ensure open society; a strong commitment to the pursuit of truth is also required.

    We need to introduce new ground rules for political discourse. These cannot be identical to scientific method, but they should be similar in character, enshrining the pursuit of truth as the criteria on which political views are to be judged. Politicians will respect, rather than manipulate, reality only if the public cares about the truth and punishes politicians when it catches them in deliberate deception. And the public should care about the truth because deception misleads people in choosing their representatives, distorts policy choices, undermines accountability, and destroys trust in democracy.

    Recent history provides convincing evidence that policies based on a misrepresenting reality backfire. The Bush administration's response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 - declaring a "war on terror" and treating criticism as unpatriotic - succeeded in gathering public support, yet the results were the exact opposite to what the Bush administration intended, both for itself and the US.

    The practical difficulty is in recognising when political professionals are distorting reality. There is an important role here for the media, the political elite, and the educational system, which must all act as watchdogs. In addition, the public needs to be inoculated against the various techniques of deception. The most effective techniques operate at the subconscious level. When emotions can be aroused by methods that bypass consciousness, the public is left largely defenceless. But if the public is made aware of the various techniques, it is likely to reject them.

    One influential technique - which Republican pollster Frank Luntz says that he learned from 1984 - simply reverses meanings and turns reality on its head. Thus, Fox News calls itself "fair and balanced," and Karl Rove and his acolytes turn their opponents' strongest traits into their achilles' heels, using insinuations and lies to portray opponents' achievements as phoney. That is how insinuations of cowardice and foul play helped defeat two highly decorated Vietnam war veterans, Senator Max Cleland in 2002, and John Kerry in 2004, while Bush and vice-president Dick Cheney - both of whom avoided military service - were portrayed as true patriots.

    Another technique is transference: accusing opponents of having motives or using methods that characterise the accuser himself. For example, David Horowitz, who accuses me of being "the Lenin of the anti-American conspiracy," is a former Trotskyite for whom opponents are never adversaries to be debated, but rather enemies to be crushed.

    The American public has proven remarkably susceptible to the manipulation of truth, which increasingly dominates the country's political discourse. Indeed, a whole network of publications, some of which manage to parade as mainstream media, is devoted to the task. Yet I believe that it is possible to inoculate the public against false arguments by arousing resentment against Orwellian Newspeak. What is needed is a concerted effort to identify the techniques of manipulation - and to name and shame those who use them.

    Now is an ideal time to begin that effort. Americans are now awakening, as if from a bad dream. What we have learned from recent years' experience - what we should have known all along - is that the supremacy of critical thought in political discourse cannot be taken for granted. It can be ensured only by an electorate that respects reality and punishes politicians who lie or engage in other forms of deception.

    How can you argue with this?

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  145. Most everyone knows the pivotal quote from General Douglas MacArthur's farewell address, "Old soldiers never die; they just fade away." The note he chose to end on in 1951 was modestly triumphant, the perfect close to the career of a consummate soldier.

    He probably would have chosen his words differently had he been able to foresee the invisibility of America's veterans just twenty years later.

    "For every John McCain there are thousands of wounded veterans whose stories are not known. I call them our invisible heroes," says Hilda R. Heady, Associate Vice President for Rural Health at the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center, West Virginia University. She has worked with rural health services veterans for over twenty years. "It's hard to recognize their needs because much of their trauma is invisible. Part of my work is to make their stories known, so we're less resentful of parting with our tax dollars to help them."

    There are more in need of that help every day. The cover story of Modern Healthcare's November 5th issue, "A Hospital Too Far: Medicine Off the Battlefield," cites:

    "Thirty-five percent of Iraq war veterans accessed mental health services in the year after returning home, while 12% per year were diagnosed with a mental health problem. Against this grim backdrop is an issue that has ignited debate among veterans, government officials and civilians in the healthcare industry: how the Veterans Affairs Department could improve access to healthcare services for rural veterans, who account for about 40% of the VA's patient population." There are 21 states with higher than the national average of veterans within their populations. Eighteen of these are rural states.

    Because of advances in body armor and medical technology, this war will produce a higher proportion of seriously wounded, traumatized, and brain-damaged veterans than any other.

    Compounding this is an expected baby boom among military personnel, meaning that the next generation, growing up in the shadow of the Iraq war, will be significantly affected as well.

    Just about every factor that could ensure Iraq veterans face the same anonymity and abandonment suffered by the Vietnam generation is in place: a ridiculously bureaucratic and under funded VA, a questionable and unpopular war, a near complete lack of serious and uncensored media coverage, and a military where half or more of its servicemen and women are drawn from the most economically depressed and forgotten regions of the country.

    "For rural people, serving in the military is often just a way of life," Ms. Heady adds. "Once the majority of Americans start to believe that they can count on someone else to fight their wars for them, we fall into a trap: our policies create a population of wounded, traumatized veterans, and then we resist funding the systems that support them. Our society is able to forget about its veterans because so many come from rural or poor urban areas.

    "As long as we as a society choose war as a means to deal with our social, economic, and political problems, we must accept the personal responsibility to deal with its aftermath. We must support the services needed by veterans and their families, regardless of where they live, to try and make their lives as whole as possible."

    Before we allow this current generation of soldiers to fade away we need to reflect on their needs. They are not only our future leaders; they are the fathers and mothers of the next generation.

    Looks like Bush isn't so "compassionate" after all.

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  146. President Pervez Musharraf and opposition leader Benazir Bhutto each placed telephone calls from Pakistan to Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to discuss the country’s crisis before either talked to President George W. Bush.

    On Saturday, Bhutto emphasized to Biden the need for parliamentary elections in January with Gen. Musharraf remaining as president but leaving the army. Musharraf called Biden on Tuesday and asked that their conversation be kept confidential. Biden got the impression Musharraf could accept January elections although he had triggered the crisis by suspending the constitution.

    Obviously they realize Biden knows far more than the war drooling Bush.

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  147. An Iraqi taxi driver was shot and killed on Saturday by a guard with DynCorp International, a private security company hired to protect American diplomats here, when a DynCorp convoy rolled past a knot of traffic on an exit ramp in Baghdad, the Iraqi Interior Ministry said Sunday.

    Joao Silva for The New York Times
    Raafat Jassim, a witness, said the cabdriver “had his hazard lights flashing, and the convoy was a long way away from him.”
    Three witnesses said the taxi had posed no threat to the convoy, and one of them, an Iraqi Army sergeant who inspected the car afterward, said it contained no weapons or explosive devices.

    “They just killed a man and drove away,” Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, an Interior Ministry spokesman, said in his office on Sunday afternoon. He added later, “We have opened an investigation, and we have contacted the company and told them about our accusations, and we are still waiting for their response.”

    It was the latest in what the Iraqi government has said are unprovoked shootings on the streets of Baghdad by security companies hired by the State Department or contractors affiliated with it. On Sept. 16, guards with another of those concerns, Blackwater, opened fire a few miles south of Saturday’s shooting, killing 17 Iraqi civilians and wounding at least 24, according to Iraqi investigators.

    The Iraqi government has accused Blackwater of involvement in at least six questionable shootings in Baghdad since September 2006. DynCorp has not drawn the same scrutiny, though it is unclear whether it has been involved in any other episodes in which Iraqis have been killed.

    Bush's private murderers at it again.

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  148. By Matt Littman:

    In the disastrous seven years of the worst President ever, his defenders had said that the economy is going well, and this shows that the President is doing a fine job.

    Who are these defenders? The 33% who approve of the job this President is doing. Yes, there are 33% of the people who approve of George W.'s job performance. Don't you wish you worked for these people? "Tommy, you forgot to fill your orders this month, all of the clients hate you, and our profits are shrinking. I'm giving you a 20% raise!"

    You may wonder if the President could do anything to make these people say, "You know what? Maybe this Presidency thing isn't for W."

    The 33% of the people who support Bush - I can guarantee you that these people have a very narrow self interest: their wallets.

    But the tanking economy means that the President's constituency, the very wealthy, is in for a world of hurt. The terrible housing market does not spare anyone, no matter how many houses you have, and the situation is not going to get better for many years. The President can no longer count on the rich to defend him; they've abandoned the sinking yacht.

    The economy is on a straight line toward recession. And you know how this President reacts when he sees trouble looming. He heads right for it.

    With the economy in a heap of trouble, it now appears as if Hurricane Bush will finish his term having absolutely decimated everything in his path.

    Let's take a look at the record:

    Budget Deficit - We're almost $9 trillion in debt. We went from budget surplus under President Clinton to deficits as far as the eye can see under President Bush.

    Health Care - More than 40 million Americans are without health care. Bush vetoes bill that would give more children health insurance.

    Foreign Relations - What do you think? Iraq was a disaster. Afghanistan was in the win column, but we pulled troops and weapons from there and put them in Iraq. Now Afghanistan is teetering. In Pakistan, we support Musharraf and not the Pakistani people; now we may the price. Iran is bellicose. The world viewed us as its great friend six years ago, and now views us as a big threat.

    How about food safety? Between 2003 and 2007, the FDA food safety inspections have dropped by 47%.

    What about those toys coming in from China? Guess what? The President has used the Consumer Products Safety Commission to help big business and not the people. I know, what a surprise. The CPSC has few than half the number of staffers it had in the 1970's. Nancy Nord, acting chairwoman of the agency, goes on trips funded by the industries she's supposed to regulate. There's one full time toy tester.

    FEMA - You think that gutting an agency and hiring friends who work in the horse jumping business does not impact your life? FEMA went from a model of government efficiency under President Clinton a model of inefficiency under President Bush. Now look at New Orleans.

    Should I go on? Is there any area left for President Bush to work his harmful ways? You tell me.


    A good question but no doubt Bush will find something else.

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  149. I just wanted to thank you all for voting for my blog, and helping elect it to the Weblog Awards for 2007.

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  150. MIke Gravel on the show tomorrow. He's been shut out of the Dem debates because CNN said he hasn't gotten enough contributions to his candidacy.

    Now is that democratic? Since when does a network get to decide who gets to be on the debate. Everything is about how much money you can raise.

    He's raised over a million, but it's not enough for CNN. They constantly announce how much money each candidate raises -- so they disqualified him.

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  151. On the other hand, Lydia, why should he get a free pass into the debate?

    Doesn't that mean that anyone with $2,000 and a few signature can get in? Why would we want that?

    I'd rather his time was divvied up amongst the people who will be in this for the long haul who can be asked real questions...

    ...if only we had a media willing to ask them.

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  152. I have to disagree. I think candidates like Gravel get shunned from the process because of big corporations, and thats got to stop.

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  153. Carl said...
    I just wanted to thank you all for voting for my blog, and helping elect it to the Weblog Awards for 2007."

    Congradulations Carl..........I voted for you!

    ReplyDelete
  154. Carl said...
    On the other hand, Lydia, why should he get a free pass into the debate?

    Doesn't that mean that anyone with $2,000 and a few signature can get in? Why would we want that?

    I'd rather his time was divvied up amongst the people who will be in this for the long haul who can be asked real questions...

    ...if only we had a media willing to ask them."


    I'm with Bartlebe on this one Carl.........we can wish all we want but the FACT is WE DONT have a media willing to ask the real questions and the tough questions........instead they push their OWN self serving interests and agendas.

    And While it may be CLEAR that certain candidates like Gravel and Kucininch may not be in this for the lo0ng haul...........due to the integrity process being co-opted and compromised by the biased self serving corporate media candidates like that with NOTHING to lose serve a valuable role by trying to bring the focus to the key issues and tough questions the Coporate MSM wants to bury and gloss over.

    And silencing them and denying them that valuable role and process is setting a dangerous prescedent.

    Stifling freedom of speech is ALWAYS a bad thing.........right now the MSM allows news so called News people and pundits to lie and spread mis-information but they deny a Presidential candidate equal time to use his freedom of speech............corporate money has infected our government and MSM to the detriment of we the people and to the benefit of the few wealthy elites who control the system.

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  155. We need to go to publicly financed elections where ALL the candidates get the SAME funding and SAME amount of Media coverage.

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  156. we can wish all we want but the FACT is WE DONT have a media willing to ask the real questions and the tough questions.

    Agreed. In which case, I'd be happy for them to sit there in the debate hall, twiddling their thumbs, while the cameras roll so that people can see just how "fluffy" these guys (and girls) all, and by "all" I mean pundits and candidates alike, are.

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  157. Peak Money

    by Jim Kunstler

    The multi-dimensional meltdown underway in the finance sector illustrates perfectly how the complex systems we depend on start to wobble and fail as soon as peak oil establishes itself as a fact in the public imagination. Mainly what it shows is that we don't have to run out of oil -- or even come close to that -- before the trouble starts. Just going over the peak and heading down the slippery slope of depletion is enough. Peak oil, it turns out, is also peak money. Or should we say, peak "money?"

    First of all, what is finance exactly? I'd bet that a lot of people these days don't know, including many working in the financial "industry," as it has taken to calling itself. Finance, until very recently, was the means by which investment was raised for useful economic activities and productive ventures -- in other words, the deployment of capital, which is to say accumulated wealth. Historically, this accumulated wealth was pretty meager. There wasn't a whole lot to deploy and the deployment was controlled by a tiny handful of people statistically greater only than the number of Martians in the general population. They operated as families or clans, and everybody knew who they were: the Medici, the Rothschilds. Even the Roman Empire was a kind of financial Flintstones operation compared to what we see on CNBC these days. Not having the printing press, the Romans had to inflate their currency the old-fashioned way, by adding base metals to their gold coins.

    Finance in the 200-odd-year-long industrial era evolved step-by-step with the steady incremental rise of available cheap energy. More to the point, the instruments associated with finance evolved in complexity with that rise in energy. It was only about two-hundred years ago, in fact, that circulating banknotes or paper currencies evolved out of much cruder certificates that were little more than IOUs. Once printed paper banknotes became established, and institutions created to regulate them, the invention of more abstract certificates became possible and we began to get things like stocks and bonds, traded publicly in bourses or exchanges, which represented amounts of money invested or loaned, but were not themselves "money."

    Much of this innovation occurred during the rise of the coal-powered economy of the 19th century. It accelerated with the oil-and-gas economy of the 20th century, up into the present time. So, for about 150 years -- or roughly since the end of the American Civil War -- we've had a certain kind of regularized finance that enjoyed continual refinement. Even in the face of cyclical traumas, like the Great Depression, currencies, stocks, and bonds retained their legitimacy if not always their face value.

    Russia was a bizarre exception. Crawling out of the mud of medievalism relatively late in the game, Russia pretended to abjure capital while still faced with the need to deploy it in industry. They solved this paradox conditionally by disqualifying the Russian public from participation in any part of the industrial economy except the hard work, and pretended to pay them in promises for "a brighter future," which never arrived as long as the Soviets remained in charge. (The Russian people repaid the system by only pretending to work.)

    In any case, finance for the purpose of deploying capital has prevailed as reality among people who use the implements of the dinner table, but something weird has happened to it in recent years. It has entered a stage of grotesque, hypertrophic metastasis that now threatens the life of the industrial organism it evolved to serve. Its current state can be understood in direct relation to the run-up to peak oil (peak fossil fuel energy, really, since coal and gas figure into it, too). The oil age, we will soon discover, was an anomaly. Many of the things that seemed "normal" under its regime will turn out to have been rather special. And as the beginning of the end of the oil age becomes manifest, these special things are starting to self-destruct pretty spectacularly.

    For one thing, finance in the past twenty years has evolved from being an organ serving a larger organism to taking over the organism, becoming a kind of blind, raging dominating parasite on its former host. Or to put it less hyperbolically, it has become an end in itself. That is what they mean when they say that the financial sector has been "driving" the economy. A feature of this ghastly process has been the evolution of financial instruments into ever more abstract entities removed from reality-based productive activities. Stocks and bonds were understood to represent direct investment in enterprise. Sometimes the enterprise was a failure, and sometimes the people running it were swindlers, but no one doubted that common stock represented the hope for profit in a particular venture like making steel or selling laxative chemicals. The new "creatively-innovated" financial "derivatives" of recent years are now so divorced from any real activities or product that often the people trafficking in them don't understand what they're supposed to represent. I'd bet that more than half the people in the New York Stock exchange any given day could not explain the meaning of a credit default swap if a Taliban were holding their oldest child over a window ledge across Wall Street.

    The innovation of mutant financial "products" is a symptom of the "crack-up boom" that characterizes society's response to peak oil. The main implication of peak oil for an industrial economy is that the 200-odd-year-long expectation for continued regular growth in combined energy-activity-and-productivity at roughly 3 to 7 percent a year under "normal" conditions -- that expectation is now toast. Under the new regime of peak oil and its aftermath, regular energy depletion, society can expect no further industrial growth but only contraction, and all the certificates, instruments, and operations associated with the expectation for further industrial growth lose their legitimacy. Seen in this light, one can then understand the temporary value of these mutant financial derivatives. They allowed participants to conceal the fact that these "investments" were not directed at productive enterprise. They also provided a cohort of sharpies with "vehicles" for converting the leftovers of the industrial economy into assets for themselves -- a form of looting, really. Hence, the employees of Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs, and Merrill Lynch gave themselves $50-million Christmas bonuses for trafficking in these inscrutable non-productive financial gimmicks, and were able to acquire fifty-room Easthampton houses, Gulfstream jets, and impressionist paintings.

    Of course, the aftermath might not be so pretty for these guys, since the next thing they may acquire could be long prison sentences. If they flee prosecution in their Gulfstream jets, they will not be able to take their Hamptons estates aboard with them. Those who remain may live to see mobs with flaming torches outside their windows, as in the "Frankenstein" movies of their suburban childhoods. But this has yet to play out.

    For the moment it appears that we have entered the climax of the crack-up. The slick and inscrutable derivative vehicles infesting the ledgers of the investment banks, are now being systematically revealed as frauds of one kind or another, and, self-evidently lacking in worth. The process now underway is gruesome. The sheer dollar losses involved are almost as incomprehensible as the phony operations and instruments that they are derived from -- twelve billion here, nine billion there. As the late Senator Everett Dirkson once quipped, "sooner or later you're talking about real money...." Or are we? Is it money or "money." And if it's "money," what will become of it? And of us? How will it allow us to live?

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  158. Where are all the chimpletons (h/t jolly roger for that one) like, freedom foole and crusty the clown, to tell all of us how great the economy is really doin', cause the stock market was FRAUDULENTLY kept afloat, with criminal actions like selling people mortgages they can't afford then, selling those untenable financial assets as AAA+

    Here is some of the exposure of those large mainstays of Wall Street;

    FAS 157 Could Cause Huge Write-offs

    Banks may be on the hook for untold billions because the new rule makes it harder to avoid mark-to-market pricing of securities.

    It you think banks are writing off large amounts of assets now, wait until new accounting rules take effect this month.

    The Royal Bank of Scotland Group estimates that U.S. banks and brokers, already under massive losses caused by the collapse in the subprime credit market, potentially face hundreds of billions of dollars in write-offs because of what are called Level 3 accounting rules, according to Bloomberg.

    The U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board Rule 157, which is effective for fiscal years that begin after November 15, 2007, will make it harder for companies to avoid putting market prices on securities considered hardest to value, known as Level 3 assets, the wire service reported.

    ''The heat is on and it is inevitable that more players will have to revalue at least a decent portion'' of assets they currently value using ''mark-to-make believe,'' Bob Janjuah, Royal Bank's chief credit strategist, reportedly wrote in a note published Wednesday.

    Janjuah noted that, for example, Morgan Stanley has the equivalent of 251 percent of its equity in Level 3 assets,

    Goldman Sachs has 185 percent,

    Lehman Brothers has 159 percent and

    Citigroup has 105 percent, according to Bloomberg.

    On the other hand, Merrill Lynch has Level 3 assets equal to 38 percent of its equity.....

    In the fair value hierarchy, Level 1 is simple mark-to-market, whereby an asset’s value is based on an actual price. Level 2, known as mark-to-model and used when there aren't any quoted prices available, is an estimate based on observable inputs, Bloomberg explains.

    Level 3 consists of unobservable inputs, such as those that reflect the reporting entity’s own assumptions about what market participants would use to price the asset or liability (including risk), developed using the best information available without undue cost and effort, according to FASB. There is no verification requirement if the assumptions are in line with those of market participants.

    FAS 157 defines fair value, establishes a framework for measuring fair value in generally accepted accounting principles, and expands disclosures about fair-value measurements, FASB explains.

    FASB notes that until now, there have been different definitions of fair value and limited guidance for applying those definitions in GAAP. Also, that guidance was dispersed among the many accounting pronouncements that require fair-value measurements.

    Differences in that guidance created inconsistencies that added to the complexity in applying GAAP. In developing FAS 157, FASB said it considered the need for increased consistency and comparability in fair-value measurements and for expanded disclosures about such measurements.


    Thus with the new rules to keep these greedy bastards from defrauding many more people, they are gonna have to eat a large helping of financial bullsh*t they were trying to sell an "mana from wall street".

    Hope your pension investment fund didn't invest in too many of these frauds in the past decade.

    I know I didn't.

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  159. By Joe Strupp

    NEW YORK Sig Christenson, a founding member of Military Reporters and Editors who has worked five assignments in Iraq since the war began, reached back some 10 years for a Veteran's Day piece that noted President George Bush's early opposition to an Iraq invasion.

    Christenson, who covers the military for the San Antonio (Tex.) Express-News, penned the piece for Sunday's paper that cited Bush's comments on Veteran's Day 1997 as governor of Texas. He pointed to Bush's defense of his father's decision during the Gulf War not to remove Saddam Hussein.

    "There are a lot of Americans (who say), 'Why didn't you go get him?'" Bush told the Express-News back in 1997, according to Christenson. "Well, I'm confident that losing men and women as a result of sniper fire inside of Baghdad would have turned the tide of public opinion very quickly," Bush added.

    Bush said efforts to ferret out Saddam from his many Baghdad hideouts would have transformed the battle from a desert conflict to an unpopular "guerrilla war," Chistenson recalled.

    He added: "Neither Bush nor his son expressed regret in the 1997 interviews over the failure of U.S. forces to pursue and destroy the Iraqi army's Republican Guard."

    Christenson observed: "That Veterans Day, Bush said efforts to ferret out Saddam from his many Baghdad hideouts would have transformed the battle from a desert conflict to an unpopular 'guerrilla war.' A decade later, proponents of the Iraq war, including President Bush and his father, dismiss those reservations, saying the 9-11 terrorist attacks forced the conflict."

    Christenson added that White House spokesman Blair Jones told him Friday: "Since that time this nation experienced one of the most horrific moments in our history — the attacks on September 11, 2001. As the president has said many times, one of the lessons learned from that day is that we have to take emerging threats seriously. We have to deal with them before they fully materialize."

    But Christenson then pointed out, "the fears expressed 10 years ago have become reality. The United States is mired in a ground war, with no military or political solutions in near sight. Insurgents, using increasingly sophisticated roadside bombs to target coalition troops, are waging the very guerrilla war that Bush predicted."

    "A crowd of several thousand had largely emptied the cemetery after the governor delivered the Veterans Day keynote speech on that cloudy, cool morning when Bush broke away from a media gaggle and chatted with the Express-News about Iraq. The governor praised his father's decision to abruptly end the offensive, launched to drive the Iraqi army out of Kuwait."

    Christenson notes, "Both men have consistently supported one another on how they handled their conflicts in the Persian Gulf. Back then, the elder Bush told the Express-News his son 'got it right' in his assessment of the first Gulf War. The former president also suggested that the decision he did not make — to send U.S. troops all the way into Baghdad — would have led America into another Vietnam-like conflict, 'and one guerrilla war in my lifetime was enough.'"

    "That day he said taking the war to Iraq's capital would have been a form of 'mission creep' that would have exceeded his mandate to prosecute the war and unraveled the 31-nation Persian Gulf coalition," Christenson recalls of the elder Bush's 1997 views. "Such a decision, added Bush, who served from 1989 to 1993, 'would have made a (Gamal Abdel) Nasser' out of Saddam — a reference to the late Egyptian leader who remains a hero in the Arab world."

    Christenson goes on to say, "The comments of both men a decade ago stand in contrast to statements they made at the end of last week. President Bush said at a Terrell Hills fund-raiser Thursday that history would vindicate his decision. 'Some day people are going to look back at this time and day and say, 'Thank God there was a generation that did not lose faith ... because the Middle East is a place free of suiciders,' he told supporters attending the private event for Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, after visiting with wounded GIs at Fort Sam."

    Later, Christenson points out that "Vice President Dick Cheney, in an April 15, 1994, interview...said Arab troops would have abandoned the coalition if the Americans had pressed on. U.S. forces would have stood alone in an occupation of Baghdad, he said, and seen greater casualties. 'Once you got to Iraq and took it over, and took down Saddam Hussein's government, then what are you going to put in its place? That's a very volatile part of the world and if you take down the central government of Iraq you can easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off,' Cheney said in the interview, which was done by C-SPAN and surfaced last summer on YouTube. He added, 'It's a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq.'"

    Funny how a desire for Dictatorship will block out any words spoken in the past.

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  160. another way to look at it is;

    In the fair value hierarchy, Level 1 is simple mark-to-market, whereby an asset’s value is based on an actual price. Level 2, known as mark-to-model and used when there aren't any quoted prices available, is an estimate based on observable inputs, Bloomberg explains.

    Level 3 consists of
    mark to make believe, ......... and thus the large crap eating contest when the banks have to eat the crap they tried to sell.

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  161. The U.S. Navy is building a military installation atop this petroleum-export platform as the U.S. establishes a more lasting military mission in the oil-rich north Persian Gulf.

    While presidential candidates debate whether to start bringing ground troops home from Iraq, the new construction suggests that one footprint of U.S. military power in Iraq isn't shrinking anytime soon: American officials are girding for an open-ended commitment to protect the country's oil industry.

    That is a sea change for the U.S., which has patrolled these waters for decades. In the past, American warships and their allies flexed the West's military might in the Persian Gulf to demonstrate a broad commitment to protect the region, which produces almost a third of the world's oil. President Jimmy Carter codified the doctrine in 1980 in response to a perceived Soviet threat.

    Now, amid rising prices -- oil futures finished Friday at $96.32 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 86 cents -- and new vulnerabilities in the world's stretched oil-supply chain -- from militants in Nigeria to occasional Iranian threats to disrupt Persian Gulf shipping -- the Navy finds itself with an additional, much more specific role: playing security guard to Iraq's offshore oil infrastructure. [...]

    The new installation will house U.S., British and Australian officers and sailors. The Pentagon has said it has no intention of building permanent U.S. bases in Iraq, and Navy officials say they intend to turn over the facility to Iraqi forces as soon as they can run it on their own.

    But Iraqi forces are a long way from being able to take over the mission, Navy officials say. Iraqi patrol boats are on the water assisting in sector patrols around the terminals. But they are rusting hulks. Iraqi soldiers stationed on the terminals have just recently started training with live ammunition. "They are going to need help for years to come," Adm. Cosgriff says.

    So for the time being, the new base will serve as a U.S.-controlled command post straddling a major component of Iraq's creaking oil industry. From a collection of modified shipping containers, coalition officers will monitor ship traffic and coordinate the movement of coalition warships circling "Kaaot" and "Abot," as the military has nicknamed the two terminals.

    Gotta protect Bush's investment!

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  162. Mark to Make Believe is exactly what they have going on Clif.

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  163. Think Progress:

    Anti-war Iraq vets banned from Veterans Day parade.Anti-war Iraq veterans were banned from participating in a Veterans Day parade in Long Beach, CA, because “we do not want groups of a political nature, advocating the troops withdrawal from Iraq,” said one organizer. Brandon Friedman notes that the organizers seem to have no problems with groups advocating staying in Iraq, however.

    Banning Veterans from a Veterans Day Parade: This is Bush's America!

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  164. (Bloomberg) -- E*Trade Financial Corp. lost more than half its market value after the online brokerage forecast a decline in fourth-quarter earnings and a Citigroup Inc. analyst said the company may go bankrupt.

    E*Trade will book ``significant writedowns'' this quarter for asset-backed securities that sank in value last month, the New York-based brokerage said in a Nov. 9 regulatory filing. Citigroup's Prashant Bhatia wrote in a report yesterday that there's a 15 percent chance the company will seek protection from creditors after poor management ``put the viability of the franchise at risk.''

    Chief Executive Officer Mitchell Caplan's strategy of building E*Trade's bank by tripling loans outstanding backfired as borrowers fell behind on payments and U.S. home prices declined. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also began an informal inquiry on Oct. 17 ``into matters related to the company's loan and securities portfolios,'' E*Trade said.

    ``A drop in the stock price this severe could prompt retail trading customers, who likely see the performance of E*Trade shares, to withdraw cash from their accounts,'' Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. analyst Roger Freeman wrote in a report to clients today. He has an ``overweight'' rating on the stock.

    Another result of the Bush economy.

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  165. Until last Sunday, the WGA's proposals included doubling the home video residual. But that day, at a last-ditch bargaining meeting, the WGA rolled over and dropped its proposal, trading it off against gains in new media residuals and jurisdiction. Big mistake. Why? Two reasons: because now the home video residual becomes a major impediment to settling the strike; and because the home video residual matters enormously, even in the world of Internet and cellphones.

    The home video residual will be a major impediment to settling the strike because of what happened in that room on Sunday -- namely, as everyone now knows, the talks collapsed. It's unclear why. The AMPTP made concessions on streaming and on Internet jurisdiction, although they hadn't yet moved on Internet downloads.

    By the way, the distinction between downloads and streaming is misguided and will lead to trouble in the future. It rests on an assumption that streaming video can be promotional and is free to the user, but that downloads are neither. Yet, this is not true: downloads are sometimes promotional, just as streaming can be; and streaming video is sometimes sold, just as downloads often are. Moreover, some technologies, such as the recently introduced Vudu box, are hybrids. (The box downloads and stores the first 30 seconds of thousands of movies on its hard disk, but then streams the remainder of the selected movie.) How will they be treated?

    But leave all this aside. The AMPTP's concessions sound like progress, but for some reason that wasn't enough to deter a strike. When the clock struck 12:01 a.m. in New York, the east coast branch of the WGA went out on strike, even though talks in LA were still ongoing. Predictably, the producers walked. And we find ourselves in the middle of a bitter strike.

    The problem is, now the producers know that the WGA is willing to give up on DVD residuals, even though the guild refers passionately to "the hated DVD formula." Now that the producers smell blood, they're less likely to ever concede on this issue. And the guild, having once been burned for conceding on home video residuals, is less likely to do so again. Fool me once, shame on me; fool me twice ... well, you know the rest.

    But does it even matter? Conventional wisdom is no. The Internet and cell phones are the wave of the future, we're told. Streaming and downloads beat physical goods every time: infinite selection, no manufacturing cost, content on-the-go, and no need to run out to the video store, or pay late fees.

    All true. Yes, streaming and downloads will one day be huge. But not yet. The predictions I've read say that even five years from now, the majority of in-home revenue will be from physical media: DVD and Blu-ray and/or HD DVD. Indeed, when the studios finally settle their self-defeating fight over high-def formats, they can expect a wave of new revenue as consumer re-purchase videos they currently own on DVD.

    Meanwhile, efforts to connect PCs to television sets have faltered. Devices are awkward to use, and haven't proved popular; and, of course, anything with a Windows PC in the mix is likely to be crash-prone and flakey. That means that getting all that wonderful Internet-based content to people's home theaters and expensive plasma screens is tough. Advantage DVD.

    Still, one day those problems will be solved, and Blu-ray or HD DVD will eventually be left in the dust. Doesn't this mean downloads and streaming will ultimately vanquish packaged goods once and for all?

    No. The fallacy in the conventional wisdom is assuming that packaged media will develop no further than Blu-ray or HD DVD. That ignores history. Storage densities in hard drives, for example, have increased by an astonishing ratio of 500,000,000 -- that's 500 million -- in the last fifty years. Even today, physicists are working on nano-scale devices that could further increase densities by a factor of 10 to 100 in the next few years. These devices, like hard disks, are magnetic media; optical media, such as holograms, might offer even higher density.

    Density matters, because higher densities means more data on smaller media. More data means more content, at higher resolutions. One day, for example, we'll probably have wall-sized displays, as seen in sci-fi movies. Those displays will be paper thin. Perhaps they'll be sold in rolls like so much wallpaper; maybe they'll be painted on the walls. No one knows. But large scale displays will require ultra high-def content.

    We'll probably also see some form of 3-D entertainment in the future -- first using on-screen technology, and ultimately, perhaps, via holographic images of actors playing out a story in our living room, or a bare-walled media room. This kind of movie/stageplay hybrid would require enormous amounts of data to be delivered and processed at high speed. Also, with new types of images come new requirements for sound. More speakers -- more channels -- mean more data is required to store that sound.

    Couldn't all this content be delivered over the Internet? Maybe one day. But if history is any guide, pipes will always lag devices. It has always been possible to deliver more data, more quickly, on a physical device than via telecom lines into the home. That's why, even today, you buy most software in physical form rather than via download. That's also why CDs are higher quality than MP3s -- the latter are compressed, the former aren't. There's no reason to think that physical media won't always have the edge when it comes to timely availability of large amounts of data. For a leading-edge experience -- wall-size displays, holographic movies, or whatever else -- physical media will probably always have the advantage, and transmission lines will always lag.

    Now, nano-scale devices and holographic media don't sound much like DVDs or video cassettes. Perhaps the home video residual formula won't apply? Guess again. The Guild agreement defines "videodisc/videocassette" as a "disc, cassette, cartridge and/or other device serving a similar function which is sold or rented for play on a home-type television screen." See Art. 51.B.1, p. 277 (italics added).

    This means the home video formula is likely to apply far into the future. Wall-sized displays will be the television screens of the future. Linear 3-D entertainment on-screen falls easily within the definition as well. And holographic entertainment, even absent a screen, might well be covered by this definition as well, if such entertainment replaces 3-D entertainment delivered on a screen. This kind of argument by functional analogy is one way courts, for example, analyze the scope of old contract language as new technologies arise.

    The Guild agreement is an archaeological document. The basic cable residual formulas is named after old TV shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents and the term "producer" is defined in terms of the duties of Samuel Arkoff and Alan Ladd in 1977. See App. 2.b.(2), p. 501 and Art. 1.B.1.a, pp. 14-15. Decisions that get made today will still have meaning decades into the future. The Guild shouldn't roll over on home video residuals. They're important now, and always will be.

    More reasons to continue the strike.

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  166. In solidarity with the striking screenwriters there will be no laugh lines in this blog, no stunning metaphors, and not many adjectives. Also, in solidarity with the striking Broadway stage-hands, no theatrics, special effects or sing-along refrains.

    Yes, I realize the strike could deprive millions of Americans of news as Jay Leno, Jon Stewart, and the rest of them are forced into re-runs. If the strike and the re-runs go on long enough, the same millions of Americans will be condemned to living in the past and writing in Kerry for president in '08. But are re-runs really such a bad thing? After opening night, every Broadway show is a re-run in perpetuity, yet people have been known to fly from Fargo to see Mamma Mia.

    And yes, it's a crying shame that so many laugh-worthy news items will go unnoted on the late night talk shows: The discovery of Chinese toys coated with the date rape drug. The news that pot-smoking Swiss teenagers are as academically successful as abstainers and better socially adjusted. Bush's repeated requests for Musharraf to take off his uniform. Could there be a simple explanation for the powerful affinity between these two men?

    True, a screenwriters' strike is not as emotionally compelling as a strike by janitors or farm-workers. Screenwriters are often well-paid -- when they are paid. All it takes is for a show to get cancelled or reconceptualized, and they're back on the streets again, hustling for work. I know a couple of them -- smart, funny women who clamber nimbly from one short-lived job to another, struggling to keep up their health insurance and self-respect.

    But my selfish hope here is that the screenwriters' action will call attention to the plight of writers in general. Since I started in the freelancing business about 30 years ago, the per-word payment for print articles has remained exactly the same in actual, non-inflation-adjusted, dollars. Three dollars a word was pretty much top of the line, and it hasn't gone up by a penny. More commonly in the old days, I made a dollar a word, requiring me to write three or four 1000-word pieces a month to supply the children with their bagels and pizza. One for Mademoiselle on "The Heartbreak Diet." One for Ms. on "The Bright Side of the Man Shortage." One for Mother Jones on pharmaceutical sales scams, and probably a book review thrown in.

    There was a perk, of course -- the occasional free lunch on an editor's expense account. These would occur in up-market restaurants where the price of lunch for two would easily exceed my family's weekly food budget, but I realized it would be gauche to bring a plastic baggie for the rolls. My job was to pitch story ideas over the field greens and tuna tartare, all the while marveling at the wealth that my writing helped generate, which, except for the food on my plate, went largely to someone other than me.

    For print writers, things have gone steadily downhill. The number of traditional outlets -- magazines and newspapers -- is shrinking. Ms., for example, publishes only quarterly now, Mother Jones every two months, and Mademoiselle has long since said au revoir. You can blog on the Web of course, but that pays exactly zero. As for benefits: once the National Writers' Union offered health insurance, but Aetna dropped it and then Unicare found writers too sickly to cover. (You can still find health insurance, however, at www.freelancersunion.org)

    So, you may be thinking, who needs writers anyway? The truth is, no one needs any particular writer, just as no one needs any particular auto worker, stage-hand, or janitor. But take us all away and TV's funny men will be struck mute, soap opera actors will be reduced to sighing and grunting, CNN anchors will have to fill the whole hour with chit chat about the weather, all greeting cards will be blank. Newspapers will consist of advertisements and movie listings; the Web will collapse into YouTube. A sad, bewildered, silence will come over the land.

    Besides, anyone who's willing to stand up to greedy bosses deserves our support. A victory for one group, from Ford workers to stage-hands, raises the prospects for everyone else. Who knows? If the screenwriters win, maybe some tiny measure of respect will eventually trickle down even to bloggers. So in further solidarity with striking writers, I'm going to shut up right now.

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  167. At least in New York City, there will not be any Writers Guild of America official picketing today (some of us will go over to Broadway and support the striking stagehands). But, there is some stuff to report.

    Yesterday, Michael Winship, president of the the Writers Guild of America (east) sent out an e-mail to members which gave some good info to remember:

    Thus far, the other side refuses to come back to the table, even though we know there’s a fair deal waiting to be made, a deal that can be accomplished quickly and simply if they will merely recognize that they must share a small part of future revenues from the Internet and new media. If they get paid, we must get paid.

    In areas like streaming video, despite the fact that it earns studios and networks significant advertising revenue, we get exactly nothing, because they claim its use is simply promotional. According to writer Greg Daniels, executive producer of "The Office," their show "has received seven million downloads. It generates the most traffic at NBC.com. We received a daytime Emmy for webisodes that no one was paid for."

    By way of comparison, for the first three quarters of 2007, NBC Universal earned $2.2 BILLION, 5% more than the profit it recorded in the same period a year ago. Over the same period, the overall profit of its parent company, General Electric, expanded 9%. GE’s revenues in the third quarter alone were $42.5 BILLON.

    The package we’re asking for – from ALL the studios, from ALL the networks, from ALL the massive, global media conglomerates that own them – is less than $200 MILLION. That’s MILLION. With an "M." Over a period of three years.

    Get it? As I pointed out before the strike began, this is a classic example of greed. The media continues to refuse to contrast, on the one hand, the large profits of these huge companies and the large paychecks of the CEOs versus, on the other hand, the relatively small share the writers are trying to get.

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  168. In L.A., there was a huge rally of 3,500 people, as reported by the Los Angeles Times:

    Century City's famed Avenue of the Stars was transformed into a boulevard of determined demonstrators Friday as more than 3,500 writers, actors and supporters swarmed nearby 20th Century Fox studios to bolster their resolve for a potentially drawn-out strike by the Writers Guild of America.

    The 45-minute rally produced a revivalist-like atmosphere outside the studio's executive offices at Fox Plaza tower as television's top writing talent and blue-collar industry workers mingled with Hollywood stars including Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Oscar winners James L. Brooks and Paul Haggis of "Crash" during Day Five of the strike.

    Spilling into the streets and landscaping around the building, the crowd cheered various speakers that included the Rev. Jesse Jackson, producer Norman Lear and "Family Guy" creator Seth McFarland as they stood on the back of a flatbed truck exhorting the workers to stay strong.

    One of the obvious things to many veteran WGA members is the strong solidarity in the strike--compared to twenty years ago when many people felt the Guild was not ready for a strike and had not done a good job of preparing WGA members for the walk-out, which ended up in a deal in which the WGA gave up ground it is trying to make up now on residuals for new media. An insight into the better internal organization may be gleaned from today's LATimes profile of David Young, the Guild's west coast executive director, who comes from a union background (as opposed to a lawyer-let's-make-a-deal background):

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  169. Lydia, I spent a total of 6 hours on the web last night and this morning looking for clues on who took that picture and got nowhere. I'm also pretty certain the auction is over which is why it couldnt be found again on ebay.

    Sorry about that.

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  170. On today’s Countdown, Keith Olbermann aired a somber and enraging segment on the sad state of affairs for our veterans on this Veteran’s Day. Talking with Paul Rieckhoff from IAVA, Olbermann blasted George Bush for ducking out of the ceremonies at Arlington Cemetary, talked about the growing number of homeless Iraq & Afghanistan vets and the utterly disgraceful silencing of anti-Iraq veterans in Massachusetts and Southern California who were not allowed to participate in Veterans Day parades — some were even arrested. On the one day of the year their voices should have been heard and they should have been honored, they were instead betrayed by their fellow citizens. I don’t have the words to describe that kind of cruelty.

    Keith also touches on the gut wrenching story of Lance Corporal James Blake Miller– better known as the Marlboro Marine–who is now jobless, divorced and near suicidal since being discharged from the military after being diagnosed with PTSD. With little aid from his government, Miller received help from an unlikely source — Luis Sinco, the LA Times photographer who snapped the famous picture of him during the battle of Fallujah in 2004.

    Thus another result of the Bush war.

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  171. Mike, this New York post columnist understands the CPI shell game;

    THE TIMES FINALLY GETS IT - ON JOBS FIGURES

    WHO says the U.S. doesn't export anything nowadays?

    The government of Argentina, beset by criticism over rampant inflation, said it is considering using the American way of calculating rising prices.

    The idea, of course, is to make inflation disappear statistically even while it's quite obvious in real life.

    This is a real knee-slapper for those of us who follow this stuff for a living.

    But it also gives me a quite serious segue into what I'd like to talk about today: why the U.S. financial markets are in such a delicate state these days.

    Start with the subject of inflation.

    As I mentioned in a column last Thursday, the way Washington calculates inflation allowed the Commerce Department to report that prices rose only 0.8 percent in the third quarter.

    That is a quite tame inflation reading, even though commodities and other prices are telling a much different story.

    The mild inflation number, in turn, permitted Washington to claim that the economy grew at a healthy annual rate of 3.9 percent in the quarter.

    For each tick up in inflation the economy measured by the gross domestic product would have grown by that much less.

    All that good economic news - dishonest as it is - was confirmed on Friday when the Labor Department reported that 166,000 new jobs were created in October.

    That figure was about double the number Wall Street experts were expecting and far exceeded the 96,000 increase in the prior month.

    But the jobs number isn't what it seems either.

    As I mentioned last Thursday and have been bringing up for oh-so-many years, the October employment figure was juiced by an estimate for jobs the government believes - but can't prove - are being created by newly-formed companies that are not surveyed.

    This time the guesstimate - officially called the birth/death model - accounted for around 103,000 of the 166,000 new October jobs.

    (I'd like to take a little break here to bring out the trumpets - Toootoooto).

    On Saturday, The New York Times - after missing the point for decades - finally ran a story headlined "Despite Gain In Job Data, Wall Street Is Skeptical.)

    In the text of the story about the October job gains the Times said, "Nearly half the gain in private jobs came from an estimate that the Labor Department makes each month about how many jobs were added by new businesses, known as the 'birth and death model.' The Labor Department did not actually find evidence of these jobs; it assumed they were created based on historical patterns."

    OK, was that so difficult for the Times to do?

    Will the paper now run a correction stating that its stories about monthly job gains have been inaccurate since the Reagan Administration?

    Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a new trend: journalists doing their jobs by questioning economic assertions from Washington.

    If you look at the publicly announced level of inflation (just 0.8 percent higher), the gross domestic product (up 3.9 percent) and job growth (plus 166,000) you'd come to the conclusion that the American economy is doing quite well.

    But it isn't. In fact, it is quite un-well.

    Corporate profits are barely growing. The auto industry is a mess. The housing industry is in recession.

    And consumers are the glummest they've been in years, so retailers are justifiably expecting a miserable Christmas season.

    And the ripple effects are being felt.

    Financial companies have already written off a staggering amount of bad investments and the damage is still mostly coming from securities backed by home loans.

    If consumers can't pay their credit card bills, securities backed by those receivables will become another problem.

    Worse, by the middle of this month companies are supposed to start admitting how much of their investments are illiquid and being valued simply by guesses.

    I hate to get preachy so early in the week, but it's long past the time for honesty in corporate and government reporting.

    Transparency, it's called.

    That's really swell. But the idea of forcing companies and Washington to be honest is very idealistic.

    The Times took a big step into the grown up world of skeptical reporting last Saturday.

    Hopefully there's a reporter down in Argentina getting ready to lambaste that country if it imports the deceptive ways of American numbers-fudgers.


    When the rag that ran the "surrender monkey" picture is willing to allow a columnist to let a little truth slip out, things must be much worse then the Bush lying propaganda apparatus is willing to admit.


    Much, much, worse .......

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  172. Clif, i've been seeing MORE and MORE economists even in the mainstream on CNBC talk about the riddiculous sham the government has resorted to to hide inflation.

    I've also seen more and more economists even on CNBC say that we are entering a Depression similar to 1929 because the credit fueled growth is OVER!

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  173. BTW C;lif, heres an interesting article that talks about the Hedonics sham used to hide inflation that I have been talking about for years as well as the end of Growth due to peak oil and the end of credit fueled expansion.

    Hedonics Sham

    Oh and Troll Tex...........keep lying about how we have the highest growth inm the world......the article clearly states we have among the lowest growth in the world even using the bogus government GDP numbers............factor in the REAL rate of inflation and growth has been negative for a LONG time!

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  174. As for job growth, Bush keeps crowing about his "job growth" our economy needs at least 150,000 new jobs just to keep up with labor force growth and not lose jobs..............Bush has the WORST record on job growth since Hoover the President at the start of the Great Depression...............rememer after Hoovers presidency the Conservatives were finished for close to 40 years..............how does that saying go.

    "Those ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it"....................I think the Neo Cons have cornered the damn market on ignorance!

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  175. .factor in the REAL rate of inflation and growth has been negative for a LONG time!

    wouldn't that mean we were in a recession for a LONG time also?

    Which would explain why the middle class has shrunken so much and American Industries no longer wanna produce here but in GROWING economies which do not use Voo Doo economic figures to hide the truth.

    This started with Ronnie the depends wearing fraud, whose ability to actually understand economics is only rivaled by Bush's, they both have destroyed the USA for decades..

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  176. Clif said "wouldn't that mean we were in a recession for a LONG time also?"

    EXACTLY!!!!!!!!

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  177. Like Robert Reich said we need free market capitalism..................not predatory capitalism or cronny capitalism............and the markets are NOT FREE when the are controlled by powerful Oligopolies who collude with government and media to push their own interests at the expense of the working class consumers.

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  178. Where oh where is Freedum Fart to explain to us how wrong we are?


    Oh right counting HIS losses about now.

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  179. BTW don't expect a drop in gas prices before the Thanksgiving holiday;

    OPEC Won't Raise Output at Summit, Gulf Officials Say

    OPEC, the producer of more than 40 percent of the world's oil, has no plan to discuss raising production targets at its Heads of State Summit in Riyadh on Nov. 17-18, oil officials from Iran and a Persian Gulf state said.

    The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries won't discuss raising supply at the summit and will instead discuss that during a Dec. 5 ministerial-level meeting in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Iran's OPEC governor, Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, told the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency today.



    With NO Thanksgiving Pardon from HIGH prices, maybe OPEC is waiting to make it a Christmas present, (don't bet on it though, they are raking in BILLIONS).

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  180. The article states 40% of worlds oil, but that should state 40% of the worlds exported oil.

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  181. I'll throw this parting shot out to the hippocritical trolls.

    Why is it that you clowns and your hero GWB constantly talk out of the sides of your mouths about the evils of government welfare bailing out the poor saps who entered into reckless mortgage contracts.........but yet you hippocritical clowns seem to have NO PROBLEM with the same government handing out welfare to the wealthy lenders, hedge funds and brokerage houses who entered into those VERY same contracts that the buyers did.

    Why do you fools claim the poor should be responsible for their own actions but the rich should not.

    Why should some poor slob lose his home and be put on the street but a big wall street brokerage house or hedgefund gets corporate welfare and a government bailout.

    The repugs seem to have a double standard for EVERYTHING...........its wrong if Iran nukes another country pre-emptively but perfectly ok if GWB does it.

    Repug hippocrissy knows no bounds!

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  182. My gut tells me OPEC WONT raise output..........or if they say they will it is only a symbolic empty rhetoric........because my bet is the CANT raise production because they are ALLREADY producing at full capacity.

    I have been reading that Saudi production is in decline and it is all they can do to just MAINTAIN output!

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  183. mch - thank you. I appreciate it.

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  184. Did you hear Fred Thompson trying to destroy Social Security............he wants to cut benefits and index it to the bogus CPI so he can inflate the payout down to nothing so it will be irrelevant and easier to get rid of.

    The Reich Wing shill on CNBC couldnt answer why Warren Buffet should pay the SAME dollar amout to Social Security as a working class person making less than a $100,000 but FAR less as a percentage of his income.

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  185. Mike IF, and this is a BIG IF, the Saudis cannot raise their production AND exports to meet global demands, then Peak oil is RIGHT now because they are the only country with that ability anymore.

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  186. Talk about being out of touch with reality...........CNBC just put on a house flipping "reality" show...............looks like the corporate ruling class that controlls our government and the MSM isnt aware the housing market is falling for essentially the first time since the Great Depression.

    Only a FOOL would try to flip houses in a declining market with record forclosures.

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  187. BTW Rusty, remember I said the USA would enter recession due to excessive debt either late this year or by Spring next year....................it sucks to be right all the time doesnt it Bartlebe

    At least it sucks to be right about bad and negative things coming to pass..........which coincidentally always seem to coincide with a repug being in power!

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  188. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday that Democrats won't approve more money for the Iraq war this year unless President Bush agrees to begin bringing troops home.

    By the end of the week, the House and Senate planned to vote on a $50 billion measure for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill would require Bush to initiate troop withdrawals immediately with the goal of ending combat by December 2008.

    Sure you will Harry: Another attempt to prolong your fate as an enabler.

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  189. One day after voting to elevate a divisive conservative judge to the federal appeals court in New Orleans, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein was the president's guest aboard Air Force One. She had been invited to survey the damage from the recent spate of Southern California wildfires.

    The senator later remarked privately that she found her conversation with Bush aboard Air Force One "illuminating," a source close to Feinstein told the Huffington Post.

    Two weeks later, Feinstein was one of two Democrats on the Senate judiciary committee to vote to send Michael Mukasey's nomination to be the new attorney general to the full Senate. Her support helped turn the tide in favor of a nomination that faced an uncertain future after Mukasey refused to say whether waterboarding was torture.

    When the full Senate voted, Feinstein was one of only six Democrats to vote in favor of confirming Mukasey.

    Now, a coalition of progressive Democrats upset with Feinstein's controversial votes will ask the California Democratic Party to censure her at its executive board meeting this weekend, the Huffington Post has learned.

    The move comes as Feinstein again finds herself under fire for saying Thursday that she now supports granting legal immunity to telecom companies that shared customer email and phone messages with the federal government as part of the warrantless surveillance program.

    "Dianne Feinstein does not listen to the people of California," said Rick Jacobs, president of the Courage Campaign, a progressive organization in California. "She supports George Bush's agenda time after time."

    Feinstein finds Bush illuminating: Wonder what Bush promised her?

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  190. Tonight CBS will air the first of a two-part series on the "hidden epidemic" of military suicides, revealing numbers that CBS calls "stunning." The report examines data on the suicide rate amongst veterans once they return home, which indicates a serious mental health issue — and a hidden mortality rate.

    "We first started researching military suicides because it had never been done before," said Armen Keteyian, CBS News' chief investigative correspondent in a statement forwarded by CBS News. "But when all the data was collected, we were astonished. I had no idea how much of an epidemic CBS uncovered. We expect this to be a wake up call."

    Keteyian previewed the segment on the "CBS Early Show" today, saying that the CBS five-month study found that vets were "more than twice as likely to commit suicide in 2005 as non-vets." Chillingly, though the Veterans Affairs Department estimates that "some 5,000 ex-servicemen and women will commit suicide this year,' that's a lowball estimate. Said Keteyian: "Our numbers are much higher than that, overall."

    According to a CBS spokesperson, the report represents the first time an actual count of veteran suicides at home has been tallied, as opposed to estimates. "We also have number from the DOD of active duty suicides that we believed have never been reported before dating back to 1995," said the spokesperson. "Many believe, including the family members, that they VA hasn't done a true nationwide count of the numbers (which are stunning) because they just don't want to know." This echoes findings in a CBS report on the matter back in January 2004, which focused on soldier suicides during deployment but which also noted that the Pentagon did not count post-release suicides, and that a pre-Iraq war army study had predicted "an impending soldier-suicide crisis" (which, according to critics, was "largely ignored").

    The two-part series will focus tonight on the numbers, and tomorrow on how the Dept. of Veterans Affairs is handling this problem (our guess, based on the above: Not well). According to CBS, tonight's segment runs 5 minutes — long for a newscast (though tonight is a single-sponsor broadcast (Pfizer) which will definitely save a few minutes).

    Another Bush coverup:Will You Impeach Him Now Pelosi?

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  191. Score one for the Netroots! Newsweek has just announced that Markos Moulitsas, namesake and founder of the Daily Kos website, will be a contributor for the 2008.

    Here's the statement from Newsweek editor Jon Meachem, which seems to anticipate some sort of reaction from a disgruntled element:

    "We have always sought to represent a diversity of views in Newsweek, and we think Markos will be a great part of that tradition. He will give our readers in print and online a unique perspective. As always, our job is to create the most energetic and illuminating magazine possible, and Markos will help us do that as the campaign unfolds."

    Well, it's not that unique a perspective, considering that Daily Kos is one of the most popular blogs around (though it's currently at #30 on Technorati — wow, there's been a reshuffling in that order lately. But still, that makes it one of the top-rated political blogs, though (cough) behind the Huffington Post at #18).

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  192. Larry, what fantastic news! Thanks for brightening my day!!

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  193. Carl - imagine if Abe Lincoln tried to run today, he'd also be shunned by the mainstream media if he didn't have enough money. I'm not talking about regular amounts of money, but humongous amounts.

    This is the problem with politics today. Gravel, by the way, is one of the few "pure" voices out there stating the Progressive will of the people, like Kucinich is -- yet Kucinich is also a long shot.

    It's crazy that they have tried to censor Gravel who is so outspoken against corporate greed.

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  194. I agree that the writers' strike might be a silver lining. Easy for me to say since I don't watch much TV.

    Hollywood studioe, the recording industry, large corporations in general -- let's hope these dinosaurs either evolve or go extinct.

    Who Hijacked Our Country

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  195. By RUSS BUETTNER

    Judith Regan, the former book publisher, says in a lawsuit filed today protesting her dismissal by the News Corporation, the media conglomerate, that a senior executive there encouraged her to lie to federal investigators about her past affair with Bernard B. Kerik after he had been nominated to become homeland security secretary in late 2004.

    The lawsuit asserts that the News Corporation executive wanted to protect the presidential aspirations of Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Kerik’s mentor, who had appointed him New York City police commissioner and had recommended him for the federal post.

    Ms. Regan makes the charge at the start of a 70-page filing that seeks $100 million in damages for what she says was a campaign to smear and discredit her by her bosses at HarperCollins and its parent company, News Corporation, after her project to publish a book with O.J. Simpson was abandoned amid a storm of protest.

    In the civil complaint filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, Ms. Regan says the company has long sought to promote Mr. Giuliani’s ambitions. But the lawsuit does not elaborate on that charge, identify the executive who she says pressured her to mislead investigators, or offer details to support her claim.

    In fact, the allegation about the executive makes up a small part of a much broader array of claims concerning what she says was her improper removal from a job atop one of the more commericially successful book publishing operations.

    A News Corporation spokeswoman who declined to be named said that the company saw no merit in the filing.

    Ms. Regan had an affair with Mr. Kerik, who is married, beginning in the spring of 2001, when her imprint, ReganBooks, began work on his memoir, “The Lost Son.” In December 2004, after the relationship had ended and shortly after Mr. Kerik’s homeland security nomination fell apart, newspapers reported that the two had carried on the affair at an apartment near ground zero that had been donated as a haven for rescue and recovery workers.

    Mr. Kerik, who said he had withdrawn his nomination because of problems with his hiring of a nanny, was indicted last week on federal tax fraud and other charges.

    “Defendants were well aware that Regan had a personal relationship with Kerik,” the complaint says. “In fact, a senior executive in the News Corporation organization told Regan that he believed she had information about Kerik that, if disclosed, would harm Giuliani’s presidential campaign. This executive advised Regan to lie to, and to withhold information from, investigators concerning Kerik.”

    One of Ms. Regan’s lawyers, Brian C. Kerr of the firm of Dreier L.L.P., said she had evidence to support her claim that she had been advised to lie to federal investigators who were vetting Mr. Kerik and who might have sought to question her about their romantic involvement. But Mr. Kerr declined to discuss the nature of the evidence.

    "We are fully confident that the evidence will show that Judith Regan was the victim of a vicious smear campaign engineered by News Corporation and HarperCollins," Mr. Kerr said.

    The lawsuit does not say whether Ms. Regan was, in fact, interviewed as part of the inquiry into Mr. Kerik’s fitness for the federal post, and if she was what she told investigators.

    The News Corporation controls a variety of media outlets worldwide, including Twentieth Century Fox, The New York Post and the Fox News Channel, where Ms. Regan was once host of a talk show.

    The Fox News Channel’s coverage of the presidential race has been a topic of some discussion within rival campaigns because the channel is directed by Mr. Giuliani’s friend of 20 years, Roger Ailes. But the network has strongly defended the balance of its coverage under Mr. Ailes, who served as media consultant to Mr. Giuliani’s first mayoral campaign in 1989. Mr. Giuliani, as mayor, later officiated at Mr. Ailes’s wedding.

    Ms. Regan was fired on Dec. 15, 2006, after a month of withering publicity surrounding her plan to publish a hypothetical confession of O.J. Simpson to the murders of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald L. Goldman. The release of the book, “If I Did It,” was to be tied to the broadcasting of Ms. Regan’s interview of Mr. Simpson on Fox.

    A second book, a novel that imagined drunken and lascivious escapades by Mickey Mantle, drew another round of outrage.

    At the time, Rupert Murdoch, the head of News Corporation, called the Simpson book “ill considered.” Ms. Regan was fired and her imprint shutdown after a HarperCollins lawyer, Mark Jackson, claimed she had used an anti-Semitic remark in describing the internal campaign to fire as a “Jewish cabal.”

    It was a tremendous fall for a woman who had, over a dozen years, built her own imprint into a best-seller juggernaut. It captured headlines by printing memoirs and other books by popular figures like Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh, and the porn star Jenna Jameson that were often overlooked by old-line publishing houses, as well as more traditional offerings, like “The Zero,” a novel set in the aftermath of 9/11, which was a finalist for a National Book Award in 2006.

    Ms. Regan asserts in her lawsuit that she never used the term “Jewish cabal” and that both the Mantle book and the Simpson project were approved by a range of HarperCollins executives.

    Mr. Murdoch himself, the suit says, signed off on the Simpson book during a dinner with Ms. Regan on Feb. 14, 2006.

    Most of the complaint explores what Ms. Regan says was an effort to discredit and defame her starting in November 2006, including the release of what she calls false and defamatory statements by company executives to The New York Post, which is owned by the News Corporation, and The New York Times.

    The assertion that the News Corporation has sought to protect Mr. Giuliani appears in the opening page of the filing. The document later revisits aspects of the assertion without providing a full account of what is alleged to have occurred or how it might be substantiated in court.

    Ms. Regan says in the suit, though, that when she realized the company had been assembling material with which to justify firing her she called a company lawyer. She says she wanted to confirm that accusations she had made about executives’ creating a hostile workplace had been included in her personnel file. One of those accusations was that an executive had advised her to lie about Mr. Kerik to protect Mr. Giuliani.

    “This smear campaign was necessary to advance News Corp.’s political agenda, which has long centered on protecting Rudy Giuliani’s presidential ambitions,” the court papers say.

    In 2004, Mr. Giuliani was being discussed as a potential presidential contender in 2008 but was more than two years away from openly talking about a run.

    The complaint asserts that a second unnamed executive advised her “not to produce clearly relevant documents in connection with the government’s investigation of Kerik.”

    “Thus, because of the damaging information that defendants believed Regan possessed, defendants knew they would be protecting Giuliani if they could pre-emptively discredit her,” the lawsuit says.

    Rupert Murdoch and Rudy Guiliani: About To Feel The Wrath of a Woman Scorned!

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  196. Shareholders approved a deal Tuesday to allow Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. to acquire its rival XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. for about $5 billion, but the largest hurdle has yet to come -- regulatory approval in Washington.

    Shareholders of Sirius and XM had been widely expected to approve the deal, which would allow the companies to save costs on programming, acquiring subscribers and broadcasting. Shareholder advisory firms had already endorsed the deal.

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  197. By Steven Weber:

    It's the poison in the toy beads from China; it's the underfunded and underarmored soldiers in Iraq; it's the jaw dropping succession of cronies in government; it's the ping-ponging economy and the disingenuous disavowals of it's instability; it's the incessant enforced obsolescence of technology; it's the mercenaries for hire deployed to fight unnecessary wars; it's the corrupt and deceitful attorney generals; it's the abandoned hunt for the perpetrators of terror; it's the shrugging off of the anthrax scare; it's the rising oil prices; it's the housing crisis; it's the squandering of the trillion dollar surplus into the trillion dollar debt; it's the unending obfuscation and smirking and shrugging.

    It's all the antics performed right in front of our gullible faces, all the blatant two-faced three card Monte artifice of loathsome George, tragic Hillary and frightening Rudy and THAT'S WHY IT'S NOT JUST THE WRITER'S STRIKE, STUPID.

    All of us in every tax bracket, all workers who labor longer and longer hours to feed their families, who dream of owning a home, of alleviating personal debt, of being able to avail themselves of decent affordable health care, of decent affordable education, of breathing clean air, of living in a peaceful cooperative world safe from the extremists and zealots -- they are the ones that need to stop their own exploitation, abuse and open mockery by the gilded greed drunks, the men who care nothing for the efforts of the innocent laborers who themselves want nothing to do with fame or wealth or power über alles.

    (Wait. I am pausing my polemic to allow the reader to take a quick Bias Check: when you've watched It's a Wonderful Life, who do you root for, Jimmy Stewart or Lionel Barrymore? It's basically that simple, folks. Okay, back to haranguing.)

    They need to strike because they view the world from ground level level as opposed to lofty heights where the usurers dwell. They know that desiring the same thing their masters have in spades, that by kneecapping the creators of content, the hewers of material, the sculptors of tools, by undercutting the quality of the product in order to secure even greater yields, they would virtually ensure the end of, dare I say, all we profess to hold dear in this country.

    The Writers' Strike. If only it were just about them. If only they were as their opponents would have the world believe: a bunch of already over-compensated pansy Hollywood types grousing about more cold cuts and cocaine. Yeah, and if only there were weapons of mass destruction. If only there was yellow cake. If only Bush was a compassionate conservative. It's way deeper: the striking writers are the nagging, enflamed tip of a much deeper, insidious infection.

    America's greatness lies in its desire to battle tyranny from within, not without. Throwing its military might around without able pilots at the helm and to serve an imperialist agenda leads to where we have now found ourselves: out of money, out of friends, out favor and out of luck. What the WGA's strike symbolizes is the plight of the citizen against the tyranny of greed that is eroding the spirit of this nation.

    So let workers of all stripes, in all forms, in all professions walk the line. It's not just their strike. It's yours.

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  198. Although the Writers Guild of America's pre-strike media campaign was criticized as sluggish, the guild's headline-grabbing series of protests last week have managed to attract the sympathy of some viewers.

    Seventeen entertainment blogs—among them Televisionary, Give Me My Remote and The TVAddict—will go dark Tuesday, replacing their sites with WGA solidarity statements.

    "Some people thought we'd be against the writers because our favorite shows are going away, but we wanted to show that some things are more important than a few shows airing full season," says Glowy Box blogger Liz Pardue, who organized tomorrow's "blog strike." "There needs to be an education effort made and we're trying to do our part."

    Entertainment Weekly reports that hundreds of "Battlestar Galactica" fans (the magazine originally reported 3,000, but has since corrected that figure) are pledging to join a picket line with the show's writing staff at Universal Studios on Friday.

    This morning, “CSI” fans funded a Burbank aerial banner fly-by with a statement of support.

    Fan site AintItCoolNews.com and others have linked to a petition supporting the writers that claims more than 44,000 signatures. “The sooner the strike is settled, the sooner the writers can return Dwight Schrute, Nancy Botwin, Chloe O’Brien and Hurley Reyes to us,” the site says.

    By putting showrunners front and center last week, the WGA managed to emphasize that original episodes of fan favorites such as “The Office,” “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives” are at risk. The guild also crystallized its complex contract dispute around the singular topic of online downloads. This week, the WGA plans to put more prime-time actors on the picket line to continue feeding the media mill.

    In this regard, the networks and studios have thus far been at a disadvantage.


    Moreover, the AMPTP argument that the strike hurts below-the-line workers could effectively paint writers as unduly selfish for going on strike, especially right before the holidays—if it weren’t being undermined when Mr. Chernin says the strike is “probably a positive.” And: “We save more money in term deals and, you know, story costs and probably the lack of making pilots than we lose in potential advertising."

    UPDATE: Glowy Box (good name, tho fellow protesting blog "Seriously? OMG! WTF?" also has merit) has updated her Tuesday blog blackout list: 21 entertainment blogs and counting will go dark in a few hours. With the story of their protest getting considerable online pickup, let's see if they can all withstand that meth-like blogger urge to post content tomorrow as their traffic surges.

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