Friday, February 08, 2008

A SPIRITUAL CRISIS * BLESS SHOOTING, TORNADO and WAR VICTIMS

"Triumph Over Tragedy"

We all have built into us the capacities for kindness and creativity and beauty. It's a matter of perspective. As Einstein said, "The single most important decision any of us will ever make is whether or not to believe that the universe is friendly." It's our choice.


AMERICAN TRAGEDIES: Random shootings break out across America. Tornadoes kill 58 in Tennessee...

Some things are beyond human comprehension. What does all this chaos, death and destruction mean? Desperate people take desperate measures. Is this a symptom of America's soul sickness?

BATON ROUGE, La. - A 23-year-old woman killed two fellow students with a .357 revolver in a classroom at a vocational college Friday, then committed suicide, police said.

MADISONVILLE, Ky. -- The five women killed in Saturday's shootings at a Lane Bryant store in Tinley Park thought of their loved ones until the end, the sole survivor said Wednesday in a statement released through police.

KIRKWOOD, Missouri - A man who police say went on a shooting rampage at City Hall in a St. Louis suburb Thursday night had recently lost a lawsuit against the city stemming from disorderly conduct convictions that resulted from his frequent clashes with city officials.

Charles "Cookie" Lee Thornton used two weapons in killing five people and wounding two others at the City Council meeting in Kirkwood, Missouri, police said. The first of the five people killed, Police Sergeant William Biggs, was shot outside the building with a large-caliber revolver and then stripped of his weapon, said Tracy Panus, spokeswoman for the St. Louis County Police Department.

The suspect then carried both guns into the council chamber, where he opened fire at the start of a council session while repeating the phrase, "Shoot the mayor," according to a witness.

Three city officials — Councilwoman Connie Karr, Councilman Mike Lynch and Public Works Director Kenneth Yost — and another police officer, Tom Ballman, were killed. Mayor Mike Swoboda was wounded and remains in critical condition at St. John's Mercy Medical Center in Creve Couer, Missouri A local reporter named Todd Smith was also taken there, but was in stable condition.

LAFAYETTE, Tennessee - President George W. Bush toured tornado-battered parts of the U.S. South on Friday and pledged to help the region rebuild after the worst rampage of twisters in nearly a quarter-century killed 58 people.



For SPIRITUAL SOLUTIONS to crises please check out RADICAL PRAYER at my other blog THE PEACEMAKERS* LIGHT OF TRUTH

You can help victims of disasters like these tornadoes by making a gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund through your local chapter, by phone at 1-800-REDCROSS or online at w RedCross.org

104 comments:

  1. Bank of America blindsiding cardholders?
    The nation's biggest bank is doubling interest rates for some of its most responsible credit card customers.
    By BusinessWeek
    Credit card issuers have drawn fire for jacking up interest rates on cardholders who aren't behind on payments but whose credit scores have fallen for other reasons. Now, some consumers complain, Bank of America is increasing rates based on no apparent deterioration in their credit scores at all.
    The major credit card lender in mid-January sent letters notifying some responsible cardholders that it would more than double their rates to as high as 28%, without giving explanations for the increases, according to copies of five letters obtained by BusinessWeek.
    Fine print at the end of the letter -- headed "Important Amendment to Your Credit Card Agreement" –- advised calling an 800-number for the reason, but consumers who called say they were unable to get a clear answer.
    "No one could give me an explanation," says Eric Fresch, a Huron, Ohio, engineer who is on time with his Bank of America card payments and knows of no decline in the status of his overall credit.

    Bank of America spokeswoman Betty Riess confirms some bank cardholders could be receiving rate increases for reasons other than declines in credit scores, such as running higher balances with their Bank of America cards or with other creditors. She says the increases are part of a "periodic review" that assesses customers' credit risk.
    Reiss declined to say if the Charlotte, N.C., bank had changed its credit standards, thereby bumping some consumers' rates, or how many cardholders were being affected by the review. Bank of America has 40 million U.S. credit card accounts.

    Arbitrary and aggressive
    Buzz about the letters is building on the Internet. Since mid-January, Credit.com, a credit card information site, has received 40 complaints from consumers whom Bank of America notified of sharp rate increases, even though they were current on their bills, says Emily Davidson, a Credit.com researcher. Complaint sites My3cents and Bank of America: Bad for America say they have received similar complaints.
    The so-called opt-out letters give borrowers the option of no longer using their cards and paying off their balances at the old rates. But they must write Bank of America by later this month if they plan to do so. If they don't, their rates on existing and new balances automatically will rise.
    What's striking is how arbitrary the Bank of America rate increases appear, credit industry experts say.
    In recent years, many card companies have turned to a practice called "risk-based pricing," in which they will raise a regular paying consumer's rate because of a decline in the person's FICO score. FICO is a credit-risk score developed by Fair Isaac that includes a number of risk metrics the Minneapolis company doesn't disclose.
    Credit reporting bureaus supply creditors with FICO scores along with other data, such as late payments and debts owed.
    In a December hearing spearheaded by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., senators slammed big card companies for using such pricing with customers who pay on time. By law, credit card lenders can change terms as long as they notify borrowers. Even so, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup announced ahead of Levin's hearing that they would stop the practice of raising card rates based solely on FICO scores.
    But Bank of America appears to be taking an even more aggressive stance because, beyond credit scores, it is using internal criteria that aren't available to consumers. That makes the reasons for the rate increases even more opaque.
    "Congress has faulted credit card companies for lack of transparency in raising rates," says William Ryan, a financial industry analyst at Portales Partners, a New York research firm. "Bank of America is bringing it to a new level."
    Analysts also say they are surprised by the magnitude of the rate increases Bank of America is imposing on affected cardholders.

    Michael Jordan, 25, a software developer who lives in Higganum, Conn., says he received a letter from Bank of America in late January advising him that his card rate would rise from 9.99% to 24.99%. The software developer, who earns $80,000 a year, says he was "shocked" because his payments had been on time and his credit scores hadn't changed in the past year.
    In fact, Jordan says, he has only $4,500 in overall outstanding credit card debt on two cards and that, on the Bank of America card in question, he had paid down his balance to $3,000 from $3,700 in August.
    "His rate increase seems unjustified based on his credit profile," says David Robertson, the publisher of The Nilson Report, a credit industry trade publication.

    When Jordan called Bank of America about the higher rate, he says, the bank representative couldn't explain why his rate was going up. On a second call, he adds, the individual told him the reason for the increase was that he hadn't been paying down his balance fast enough, though he had lowered it by 19% in the past six months and was now utilizing only 54% of his $5,500 credit limit.
    Riess, the Bank of America spokeswoman, declined to discuss individual rate increases or to list all the criteria the bank was using as reasons to raise rates on existing cardholders.
    Analysts say the bank's move is obviously aimed at shoring up profits. On Jan. 22, Bank of America reported a 95% decrease in fourth-quarter earnings due mostly to increases in loan-loss reserves for consumer credit, including rising card charge-offs and write-downs in mortgage-related securities.

    Rejecting the new rates isn't easy
    Bank of America faces another profit sinkhole with its pending acquisition of troubled Countrywide Financial. Portales' Ryan notes that boosting rates on existing credit card holders is one of the quickest levers a bank can pull to try to boost earnings.
    Bank of America hasn't made it easy for consumers to reject the new rates. The letters require that consumers write Bank of America to agree to no longer use their cards and pay off existing balances at the old rates -- they can't telephone to do so, nor does Bank of America provide a form or a return envelope.
    Moreover, consumers don't have much time to respond. Cardholders say they got the letters in the latter half of January: Four of the letters obtained by BusinessWeek require a written response by Feb. 19, while the fifth requires a response by Feb. 29.
    A response, of course, assumes consumers read the letter from Bank of America as they sort junk mail. "It's a reasonable assumption that most don't," says Karen Gross, a legal scholar on consumer credit and the president of Southern Vermont College.
    Bank of America also benefits from consumers who do agree to pay off balances at the old rates and not use their cards again, says Nathan Powell, a credit analyst research firm RiskMetrics Group.
    Talk back: Has your card company jacked up your interest rate?
    The bank, he says, is clearly trying to protect itself from worsening credit card charge-offs ahead, something analysts widely expect in the card industry as the economy deteriorates.
    Powell says the bank must have identified a list of other credit criteria besides FICO that it is using to screen cardholders and determined it's no longer worth new business if they don't accept the higher rates.
    So far, Bank of America's charge-off rates have risen in line with the credit card industry, up to 5.08% of receivables at the end of the fourth quarter from 4.57% a year ago. "The bank doesn't want to get behind the curve," Powell says.
    Bank of America is trying to get ahead of Amanda Pennington, 29, of Euless, Texas. She says the bank raised her credit limit three months ago from $5,000 to $8,000 because of her strong payment history. Then she got the letter from the bank in mid-January notifying that her rate would rise from 15.74% to 25.99%. When she called, she says, the bank told her it was raising her rate because her balance was now too high, though it was still under the higher new limit the bank had previously granted.
    After paying tuition for a community college course, transferring another balance and paying for daily expenses, Pennington's Bank of America debt now stands at $7,500. Bank of America declined to comment on individual customers.
    Adam Levin, the CEO of Credit.com and former head of New Jersey's Division of Consumer Affairs, says he is surprised Bank of America would risk bad public relations with its rate increases, given the congressional hearings in December.
    The bank risks alienating new customers and existing ones by being so brazen, he says, adding, "Either Bank of America has more financial troubles than it is willing to admit or it has a level of institutional arrogance that is unacceptable."
    This article was reported and written by Robert Berner for BusinessWeek.

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  2. Clif, Larry, Lydia, Enigma, Bart, Tomcat, Christopher, Pastriot etc.............I urge you all to PLEASE READ THIS ENTIRE ARTICLE.

    CLIF will KNOW how important it is, its a smoking gun that growth is over, the banking elite have clearly given up on growth and are now just trying to price gouge middle class consumers with the threat of ruining their credit while they can before the Depression sets in and they can no longer make a profit.

    The fact that they are charging arbitrary and insane interest rates from people with stellar credit in an election year when the economy, corruption, and the ultra wealthy stealing from the poor and middle class are hot button front and center issues shoes how desperate they are and signifies that the credit and debt fueled expansion and predatory capitalism started by Reagan and the repugs is OVER forever and they weant to steal as much as possible before the economy implodes and mass bankruptcies and possibly an FDR like New New Deal comes down the road.

    I'm serious people a bank doubling interest rates for GOOD customers with stellar credit during an election year when the country is teetering into a Recession is unprescedented............this is a huge story bigger than most people realize.

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  3. Larry, do you realize how BIG that article is..........it basically CONFIRMS that credit and debt fueled growth are OVER and a SEVERE recession/Depression is a CERTAINTY!!!!!!!

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  4. Yep... There just trying to offset their losses from the bad mortgage loans they have made.

    I don't really like to say this, however I hope we do fall into a major depression and they end up jumping off the roofs of their building like they did in 1929.

    Our economy is destroyed just like our Military and our Country under the Fascist Nazi Regime running it.

    God Bless.

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  5. Anon,

    I think that "Major Depression" is heading here quicker than we would like, and it won't be pretty.

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  6. Does The Brownshirt Party Have Aces Up Its Sleeve?

    By Paul Craig Roberts

    08/02/08 "ICH" -- -- The Brownshirt Party has chosen John “hundred year war” McCain as its presidential candidate. Except for Cheney, Norman Podhoretz, and billy kristol, McCain is America’s greatest warmonger.

    In a McCain Regime, Cheney will be back in office with another stint as Secretary of War. Norman “Bomb-bomb-bomb-Iran” Podhoretz will be Undersecretary for Nuclear War with General John “Nuke them” Shalikashvili as his deputy. Rudy Giuliani will be the Minister of Interior in charge of Halliburton’s detention centers into which will be herded all critics of war and the police state. billy kristol will be chief White House spokesliar.

    The whole gang will be back--Wolfowitz, Perle, Wurmster, Feith, Libby, Bolton. America will have a second chance to bomb the world into submission.

    With the majority of voters sick of war, sick of lies, sick of fraud from the Federal Reserve and Wall Street, and sick of stagnant and falling incomes, McCain is poised to capture 20% of the vote--the Christian Zionists, the rapture evangelicals, and the diehard macho flag-waving thugs who believe America is done for unless “Islamofacists” are exterminated.

    The accumulated lies, deceptions, war crimes, the shame of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo prisons, Bush’s police state assault on civil liberty, countless numbers of Iraqi and Afghan men, women, and children murdered for the sake of American and Israeli hegemony, and the collapsing US economy indicate a political wipeout for the Brownshirt Party. In a country with an informed and humane population, the Republican Party would be reduced to such a small minority that it could never recover.

    What will happen in America? Polls show that Americans have had it with Bush, and the 2006 congressional election showed that the voters have had it with Republicans. But the Republicans have seen the message and ignored it, and the people and the Democrats have continued to tolerate and to enable that which they claim to oppose.

    Meanwhile Bush holds on to his determination to find a way to bomb Iran, dismissing along with the neocons the unanimous NIE report that there is no Iranian weapons program, just as Bush and the neocons dismissed the Iraq weapons inspectors who reported truthfully that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. What the American people and the Democrats have not understood is that a party with an agenda could care less for the facts. As Lenin declared, truth is what serves the agenda.

    The Democrats are far from pure, but they lack the fervor and determination that only ideology can provide. The Democrats might have issue-specific ideologies, but they lack an over-arching ideology that makes it imperative for them, and only them, to be in power.

    In contrast, the Brownshirt Party is fueled by the neocon ideology of American (and Israeli) supremacy. The neocon ideology of supremacy is more far-reaching than Hitler’s. Hitler merely aimed for sway over Europe and Russia. The neocons have targeted the entire world.

    Neocons have prepared plans for war against China. They are ringing Russia with military facilities and paying millions of dollars to leaders of former constituent parts of the Soviet Union to sign up with NATO, which the neocons have turned into a mechanism for drafting Europeans to serve American Empire.

    All this work, the neocon Project for a New American Century, the costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the demonization of Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas, the ghettoization of the West Bank and Gaza, the police state measures that Bush has succeeded in putting on the books, the concentration of power in the executive branch, these are successes from which the Brownshirts will not walk away.

    Possibly the neocons and their Brownshirt followers are so delusional that they do not realize that their glorious aims are not shared. Maybe they are no different from Americans, maxed out on credit and unable to make mortgage payments, who believe that next week they will win the lotto.

    On the other hand maybe the Brownshirts have a plan.

    What could the plan be?

    They can steal the election with the Diebold electronic voting machines and proprietary software that no one is allowed to check. There are now enough elections on record with significant divergences between exit polls and vote tallies that a stolen election can be explained away. The Democrats have been house trained to acquiesce to stolen elections. The voters, whose votes are stolen, dismiss the evidence as “conspiracy theories.”

    Or what about a well-timed orchestrated “terrorist attack” to drive fearful Americans to the war candidate. False flag events are stock-in-trade. Hitler used the Reichstag fire to turn German democracy into a dictatorship overnight.

    And what about the widespread spying on Americans? The Bush regime’s explanation for its violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act makes no sense. Bush’s violation of the law is clearly a felony, grounds for impeachment, arrest, indictment, and a prison sentence. Moreover, no intelligence purpose was achieved by Bush’s illegal acts. The FISA law only requires the executive branch to come to a secret court to explain its purpose and obtain a warrant. The law even allows the executive branch to spy first and obtain the warrant afterward. The purpose of the warrant is to prevent an administration from spying for political purposes. The only reason for Bush to refuse to obtain warrants is that he had no valid reason for the spying.

    Does this mean that during the presidential campaign we will hear from Attorney General Michael Mukasey that candidate Hillary is under investigation for a Whitewater related offense, or that candidate Obama is linked to an alleged crime figure or Islamist?

    The neocons control most of the print and TV media, and the right-wing radio talk hosts are no friends of Democrats. As Americans have fallen for every other fraud perpetrated upon them, they are likely to be suckers as well for “investigations” or rumors of investigations of the Democratic candidate. Hillary is widely disliked and easy to distrust. Obama is a new face with which voters have little experience. He is partly black and has a funny name.

    John McCain is a war hero, a graduate of the US Naval Academy. His father and grandfather were admirals. On his 23rd bombing mission over North Vietnam in one of America’s orchestrated wars, he was shot down and injured. A POW for 5.5 years, he was tortured by communists due in part to traitorous actions by Democrats like Jane Fonda.

    McCain has been in Congress and thus in the public eye since 1983. The only scandal with which he is associated is that he was one of “the Keating five,” one of five senators associated through campaign contributions with S&L owner and real estate investor Charles Keating and alleged interveners in his behalf. Keating was framed by prosecutors, but was later exonerated by a federal judge.

    Adolf Hitler never had the support of a majority of the German electorate. In the November 1932 election, he received 33.1 percent of the vote. His peak was March 6, 1933, with 43.9 percent following the Reichstag fire a few days before on February 27, blamed on the communists. Hitler’s minority support in a democracy did not prevent him from becoming dictator of Germany.

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  7. If the would-be Broadway-bound musical Lone Star Love is half as entertaining as the backstage drama, then sign us up: Randy Quaid, the show’s former star, has been banned from the Actors' Equity union for life because of abusive, lewd and just plain crazy behavior during the show’s Seattle run. Quaid has also been fined $81,572, which equals two weeks pay for the cast of the $6.5 million show; producers claim they had to prematurely close because of Quaid’s hi jinks. The Post’s Michael Riedel got the rap sheet:

    Quaid hit an actor on the back of the head four times during performances. When the stage manager told him to stop, he smacked the actor again.
    Another actor was warned that if he made direct eye contact with Quaid onstage, he'd be fired.
    Quaid made "sexually inappropriate" comments onstage, repeatedly referring to an actress' musical instruments as her "gynecological instruments."
    The couple tried to rewrite the script, to eliminate characters.
    Randy "felt free" to change blocking, lyrics and lines during performances, and repeatedly failed to show up for note sessions and rehearsals.
    Quaid says the actors are part of a “pinko-commie organization” trying to destroy him. And it gets even better: Sources tell TMZ that Quaid’s wife Evi turned up at the Equity hearing for Quaid and “berated several Equity staff members, including a 76-year-old receptionist whom she allegedly kicked in the shins, drawing blood.” Evi says Equity staffers broke her finger while trying to bar her from the meeting; others say she was a screaming lunatic raving about a “Nazi plot” against her husband. (Are they commies or Nazis? Try to stay on message, Quaids.)

    Riedel also hears that Evi e-mailed several actors in Lone Star Love, threatening to sue them unless they dropped the charges: “You have one last chance to stop this onerous campaign or else you will be drawn into a legal quagmire.” And she's even been on a calling campaign against the Commie Nazis; one actor reports trying to end an angry telephone harangue from Evi by saying, “I'd like to terminate this call.” Evi allegedly responded, “I'd like to terminate your existence on this planet.”

    Now that's different.

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  8. made me glad to be home safe after a days work and be able to hug the kids

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  9. Not only that Larry, but I heard today that McCain actually thinks military bases are good for the economy because people on bases "have to shop" and buy things.

    Our economic system is in deep doo-doo because our war budget is so vast, there is no money left for Social Security or Medicare or anything else.

    Here's where the Neocons differ from us: they believe Social Security and Medicare and Education take away from our military budget.

    They would rather spend money on destruction than "constructive" industries. All the other industrialized nations are bringing manufacturing home. Germany has invested tons of money in renewable energy, including solar industries.

    We have to invest in creative construction, not destruction.

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  10. What's with all the ACTORS GONE WILD!!

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  11. Randy Quaid and his wife have gone wild.

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  12. So John McCain wants to have all thse bases so the underpaid military can shop there.

    Sounds like a Bush plan.

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  13. Hi Robert.

    After all the shootings on Lydia's post it would make you want to hug your kids.

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  14. Lydia Cornell said...
    Not only that Larry, but I heard today that McCain actually thinks military bases are good for the economy because people on bases "have to shop" and buy things.

    Our economic system is in deep doo-doo because our war budget is so vast, there is no money left for Social Security or Medicare or anything else.

    Here's where the Neocons differ from us: they believe Social Security and Medicare and Education take away from our military budget.

    They would rather spend money on destruction than "constructive" industries. All the other industrialized nations are bringing manufacturing home. Germany has invested tons of money in renewable energy, including solar industries.

    We have to invest in creative construction, not destruction."


    EXACTLY!!!!!!!!!!!!

    We NEEED to spend money on infrastructure and developing Green industries that will create jobs and develop clean renewable energy so we dont need to depend on fighting wars for oil.

    Creative construction rather than destruction is the PERFECT way to put it.

    Progressives want to spend money to help people and make life and lives better, while conservatives and repugs would rather spend our money on bombing and murdering people, spying on good law abiding citizens and building prisons rather than providing health insurance, social security, good paying jobs, clean renewable energy and education.....it boggles the mind how these ideologuers can justify spending 2 trillion on a war based on lies but cant spend millions on insuring the poor or holw they can justify Bill Gates a guy making 50,000,000 paying less of a percentage of tax than a guy making 30,000 .

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  15. Larry said...
    Anon,

    I think that "Major Depression" is heading here quicker than we would like, and it won't be pretty."


    Wont be pretty is putting it mildly Larry..........the Bush and the repugs are scared,,,,,,,,,,,,,,thats why they essentially conceded on their tax cuts for the wealthy and are giving this stimulous to the poor and middle class............they essentially admitted that its a lie that tax cuts for the wealthy stimulate the economy.,

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  16. Larry thats a scarry article you posted...........it DOES seem like McCAin is trying to tap into the war mongering Neo Con 20%ers..........or the dregs of society.

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  17. If McCain becomes President you will see more wars started than the world has ever known.

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  18. Hi Anon, Robert and Mike!

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  19. Hey Robert, i like your taste in movies!

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  20. The "Trickle-Down Effect"

    "A firehose has been showered on me, and nothing has trickled beneath. In the last seven-eight years what has happened is that the super-rich have gotten a huge break...the American worker went nowhere while the super-rich flourished, aided by the tax code. It has been a marvellous time for these super-rich...but if you believe in a trickle-down theory, nothing has trickled since 1987."

    Warren Buffett, billionaire investor & CEO Berkshire Hathaway.

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  21. Everything you need to know about the upcoming election you've already learned in driver's ed. It's really pretty simple. You want to go backward, you put it in R; you want to go forward, you put it in D.

    Sen. Tom Harkin, (D-IA), at Fighting Bob Fest, 2004 Sep. 19

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  22. It's almost as if people can barely stand the thought of President Bush and Congress anymore.

    Bush reached his lowest approval rating in The Associated Press-Ipsos poll on Friday as only 30 percent said they like the job he is doing, including an all-time low in his support by Republicans. Congress' approval fell to just 22 percent, equaling its poorest grade in the survey. Both marks dropped by 4 percentage points since early January.

    The dour public mood seems to chiefly reflect distress over the doddering economy, which has seen job cuts, financial market slides and real estate losses stoke recession fears. Bush's approval for handling the economy dove to 29 percent, a slide of 4 percentage points in a month and matching his low on that issue, with noticeable slumps among middle-income people, Southerners and city residents.

    "He's spent billions of dollars on the war, and the economy here is suffering," said Ron Brathwaite, 41, a Democrat from Brooklyn, N.Y., who was interviewed in the poll. "If you're leading this country, you should start fixing within this country."

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  23. A moderate earthquake rocked Baja California in Mexico, shutting down factories near the U.S. border and leaving about 400,000 people without power, authorities said Saturday. No major damage or injuries were immediately reported.

    The quake that struck around 11:15 p.m. Friday had a preliminary magnitude of 5.4, said Jessica Sigala, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Co. It was centered 16 miles southeast of the border town of Mexicali and about 100 miles east of Tijuana.

    “It has been felt pretty widely in Southern California, southwestern Arizona and probably northern Mexico,” Sigala said.

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  24. Huckabee solicits funds from embattled televangelist

    By Lisa Myers, Jim Popkin and Rich Gardella, NBC News

    Gov. Mike Huckabee, vastly outspent so far in his bid for the presidency, has turned for funding to a controversial televangelist who is under active Senate investigation. Late last month, Gov. Huckabee held a fundraiser at the Texas estate of millionaire televangelist Kenneth Copeland, his spokesman tells NBC News.

    The U.S. Senate currently is investigating Copeland, and five other televangelists, amid allegations that they are improperly using millions in charitable donations for their personal benefit, and, in the process, fleecing their flock. Copeland and the other televangelists have strongly denied those allegations.

    “The Huckabee Event was not hosted by Ken Copeland or anyone employed by the church,” a spokesman for Kenneth Copeland Ministries tells NBC. “The Huckabee campaign rented a room at our facility and hosted a private function,” the spokesman says.

    The event raised about $100,000 for Huckabee's campaign and nearly $1 million more in pledges, according to a blog report by Doug Wead, a former Republican strategist with close ties to the evangelical community. A Huckabee spokeswoman did not dispute those figures but would not disclose any amounts. "Any funds raised by Mr. Copeland will be fully and properly disclosed in Governor Huckabee's FEC report," a Huckabee spokeswoman tells NBC.

    At the time of the private fundraiser, Copeland was hosting a national ministers’ gathering at his headquarters. Hundreds of evangelical ministers were in town. Copeland’s spokesman says the fundraiser took place at the same location, but while the ministers’ gathering was out of session. “The Huckabee event was convened by his campaign and occurred while the church conference was not is session,” the spokesman says.

    Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, sent lengthy letters last November to Copeland and five other televangelists seeking hundreds of documents. Grassley, the lead Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, says he is following up on complaints from the public and the news media about the popular ministers. “The allegations involve governing boards that aren’t independent and allow generous salaries and housing allowances and amenities such as private jets and Rolls Royces,” Grassley writes.

    Copeland’s critics accuse the “prosperity-gospel” televangelist of high-flying ways. His donors helped him purchase a $20 million private jet, a Citation X, in 2006, according to his website. And Grassley’s 6-page letter to Copeland asks him to justify the Copelands’ alleged use of the ministry jet for “layovers in Maui, the Fiji Islands and Honolulu.” Grassley writes, “Provide an explanation of the tax-exempt purpose of each layover…”

    Last November, Copeland hosted Gov. Huckabee on five of Copeland's televised programs. At the ministers' conference last month, Copeland effusively praised Huckabee and said that Huckabee had pledged to support him despite the Senate investigation.

    "He [Huckabee] said, 'Kenneth Copeland, I will stand with you.' He said, 'You're trying to get prosperity to the people, and they're trying to take it away from 'em.' [Huckabee] said, 'I will stand with you, any time, anywhere, on any issue.' That settled that. I said, 'Yeah, that's my man. That's my man, right there.' "

    Copeland also quoted Gov. Huckabee as saying: "Why should I stand with them [Senate] and not stand with you? They only got 11 percent approval rating."

    In an interview today on his campaign plane, Gov. Huckabee described Copeland as a “friend” and said all the recent donations are legal. In an e-mail to NBC, a Huckabee spokeswoman elaborated: "Governor Huckabee and Ken Copeland are long-time friends. Governor Huckabee has stated that he will not disavow his friendship with Mr. Copeland because of these [Senate] allegations. The important legal doctrine is 'innocent, until proven guilty,' which applies to Christians too. It’s easy for Congress to launch an investigation, but Governor Huckabee is confident that his friend Kenneth Copeland will be fully vindicated.”

    Copeland says he’s done nothing wrong. In an e-mail statement to NBC, a spokesman for Kenneth Copeland Ministries (KCM) says: “KCM has always operated with integrity and according to the laws as they apply to churches. For example, KCM is diligent to comply with all applicable federal income tax laws and IRS regulations. KCM is careful in maintaining financial accountability and has in place longstanding policies and procedures to make sure it maintains financial integrity, including an annual certified independent audit.”

    He adds: “Despite false, incomplete & misleading media reports, KCM did in fact respond to the Senator’s requests in good faith and as completely and accurately as we could without compromising the constitutionally based privacy, confidentiality, and other rights of churches that apply to KCM and all other churches."

    According to Federal Election Commission records, Copeland family members and other employees of KCM personally donated a total of $18,320 to Huckabee’s campaign last year.

    Huckabee has raised $9 million in his presidential bid, FEC records show, as compared to $41 million raised by GOP frontrunner Sen. John McCain.

    The Trinity Foundation, which monitors televangelists, has posted video clips of Copeland's comments, above.

    The purity level has broken.

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  25. Strained by war, recently discharged veterans are having a harder time finding civilian jobs and are more likely to earn lower wages for years, partly because of employer concerns about their mental health and overall skills, a government study says.

    The Department of Veterans Affairs report, obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, points to continuing problems with the Bush administration's efforts to help 4.4 million people who have been discharged from active duty since 1990.

    The 2007 study by the consulting firm Abt Associates Inc. found that 18 percent of the veterans who sought jobs within one to three years of discharge were unemployed, while one out of four who did find jobs earned less than $21,840 a year. Many had taken advantage of government programs such as the GI Bill to boost job prospects, but there was little evidence that education benefits yielded higher pay or better advancement.

    The report blamed the poor prospects partly on inadequate job networks and lack of mentors after extended periods in war. It said employers often had misplaced stereotypes about veterans' fitness for employment, such as concerns they did not possess adequate technological skills, or were too rigid, lacked education or were at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder.

    It urged the federal government to consider working with a private-sector marketing firm to help promote and brand war veterans as capable employees, as well as re-examine education and training such as the GI Bill.

    "The issue of mental health has turned into a double-edged sword for returning veterans. More publicity has generated more public awareness and federal funding for those who return home different from when they left. However, more publicity, especially stories that perpetuate the 'Wacko Vet' myth, has also made some employers more cautious to hire a veteran," said Joe Davis, spokesman for Veterans of Foreign Wars.

    "The federal government needs to accelerate its hiring and training of these young veterans to fill the ranks of the retiring Boomer generation," he said.

    This is how Bush supports the troops.

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  26. Politicians have finally found an issue they all can agree on: Telemarketers calling at dinnertime are a scourge that must be repulsed.

    Congress on Wednesday sent to President Bush two bills that would make permanent a program to protect consumers from unwanted phone calls from telemarketers. Its hallmark is the national "do not call" list.

    They finally did something.

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  27. Iraqi police arrested 15 Shiite activists Saturday in early morning raids south of Baghdad, and five American soldiers were killed in two roadside bombings, officials said.

    The U.S. troops were killed Friday — four in Baghdad and one in the northern Tamim province, the military said. At least 3,958 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

    Another party day in the Bush household.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Reuters) - Striking Hollywood writers could return to work as early as Monday for the first time in three months if they embrace a contract deal that union leaders are said to endorse, according to a union-affiliated blog site on Friday.

    The outcome hinges on meetings set for Saturday in New York and Los Angeles where rank-and-file members of the Writers Guild of America will be briefed on a labor pact taking shape in talks with studio executives over the past two weeks.

    Sources familiar with those talks have said a breakthrough was reached last Friday on key issues of paying film and TV writers for work distributed over the Internet, and the two sides have been busy since then fine-tuning contract language.

    If reaction from union members on Saturday is positive, the governing boards of the WGA's East and West Coast branches could move quickly to endorse the pact and order the 10,500 striking writers back to work while the deal is submitted to them for ratification.

    In that case, board action to lift the strike would probably come Sunday and likely follow a formal vote by the WGA's 19-member negotiating committee urging approval of the deal.

    If Saturday's response from the rank-and-file is negative or sharply divided, union leaders might opt to keep writers on the picket lines pending a ratification vote.

    UNION LEADERS SAID TO BACK DEAL

    WGA leaders and studio lawyers were still tussling over the contract's legal language late on Friday, according to a blog account posted on the pro-union Web site United Hollywood and written by Kate Purdy, one of a group of strike captains briefed on the situation earlier in the day.

    This could be the day.

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  29. Guest lineup for the Sunday TV news shows:

    ABC's "This Week" — Gov. Tim Kaine, D-Va.; former Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb.

    CBS' "Face the Nation" — Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark.; Joe Trippi, former John Edwards campaign adviser; Karl Rove, former deputy chief of staff to President Bush.

    NBC's "Meet the Press" — Huckabee.

    CNN's "Late Edition" — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio; former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

    "Fox News Sunday" — President Bush.

    ReplyDelete
  30. by Jonathan Tasini


    So, John Edwards is dropping out of the presidential race. From trade to an ability to really talk about unions and on whole lots of other issues, Edwards shaped the Democratic presidential debate.

    The question is: what now? I'm hoping that he becomes the Al Gore of economic struggles. Gore rose dramatically in stature--far beyond what he ever achieved as a political figure or a candidate running for office--when he became THE political voice on climate change. I'm hoping that Edwards, who made it clear that the campaign to end poverty in America was the calling of his life, now continues that fight. As a non-candidate, more people (and, maybe even, the pathetic press) will tune into a message that comes from someone who is not running for office.

    Working Americans--the people who Edwards wanted to represent and whose policies and positions were superior to the other major candidates--will need an advocate for them past the general election. In the past several months, I've told virtually every person or audience that I've spoken to that, no matter who wins, we--that would be, labor advocates or people trying to build an economic justice movement--will still have a fight on our hands because the system that a new president would confront (whether they feel audacious and hopeful or not) will be hard to change without a movement out in the country demanding that change.

    We still face a battering of wages, disappearing pensions, 47 million people without health care, so-called "free trade" deals that Democrats don't seem united to vanquish from the agenda, unprecedented greed in the CEO ranks...you know the drill.

    Edwards has a role to play as a rallying force for those people who want to change the economic system.

    Edwards, seize the moment.

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  31. CAUCUS RESULTS?

    What is going on in Washington? I hear Obama is going to win in a landslide according to a diary entry from someone who was there and signed in this morning.

    ReplyDelete
  32. The shooting in Kirkwood is scary - one of our friends is a councilwoman in our town, and my husband is chair of the Zoning Board. The idea of someone coming in and blowing away city officials is absolutely chilling.

    As for McCain, the more I learn about him, the scarier he gets. I used to think he wouldn't be that bad but now I know better.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Hey there...it was a hell of a week...thanks for blogging it Lydia...we are all neighbors and as long as we look out for each other we can get through this....
    I am still reading all of Larry's Bush Busters...and trying to get caught up....

    ( I hope this posts....I am having blogger troubles- maybe it caught my sinus infection...)

    Have Hope.....Changes are happening in this Country...and it is spreading....you can feel it.

    take care all...

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  34. Primary Results:
    ( these are the real numbers, CNN and MSNBC are not right- these are from Obama 's Campaign Manager, and does not include Florida or Michigan)

    as of 12MN EST
    Obama 1012
    Hill 940

    He won:
    Virgin Islands ( with 90% of the Vote)

    Louisiana:
    ( Obama won with good margins 54 to 32%)
    217,,00 votes to Hills 134,000.

    Nebraska:
    Obama 69%
    Hill 32%

    Washington State:
    (caucus)
    Obama 67%
    Hill 31%

    All States had Record Setting Turn Outs for DEMS.

    Meanwhile on the other side:
    McCain having a very hard time with ALL states, and Lost to Huck in Kansas and Louisana and Wash State still too close to call.

    ******************
    Tomorrow is Maine Caucuses.
    And this Tuesday is the Chesepeake Primaries....

    Thank you to Everyone that Voted...it mattered...and still does...

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  35. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Not a very good assessment of the Iraqi surge progress even if it is by a republican operative;

    Memo Blasts State Dept. Iraq Effort

    GOP Loyalist Says U.S. Brought 'Worst of America' to Iraq

    In a confidential memo, a long-time Republican operative who has served in the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad for the past year says the State Department's efforts in Iraq are so poorly managed they "would be considered willfully negligent if not criminal" if done in the private sector.

    "We have brought to Iraq the worst of America -- our bureaucrats," writes Manuel Miranda in the memo, which was addressed to U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and cc'd to "ALCON" or "all concerned" at the State Department.

    "You are doing a job for which you are not prepared as a bureaucracy or as leaders," Miranda writes. "The American and Iraqi people deserve better."

    Asked to respond to the allegations made in Miranda's memo, State Department spokesman Tom Casey said Miranda is entitled to his opinion, but "We think Ambassador Crocker and his team are doing a very good job under extremely challenging circumstances. We have great confidence in their ability to carry out their mission."

    Miranda previously held senior Republican leadership positions on Capitol Hill, including counsel for then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. While on Capitol Hill, Miranda was embroiled in a controversy when he obtained a confidential memorandum written by Senate Democrats and leaked it the press. Democrats accused Miranda of hacking into their computer systems. Miranda said the Democratic staffers had left the memo on a computer server accessable to all Senate staffers.


    You can read Miranda's memo HERE.

    a couple of quick comments,

    1. This guy certainly HATES the state department, and thinks repubies are much superior.

    2. He bitches about people ONLY committing one year to work in Iraq as he leaves after ONE YEAR there.

    3. Most of his complaints should be directed at Condi Rice, because it is the lack of HER direct involvement that things are so bad there in the state department "surge efforts", but like all knee jerks reichwingers he attacks the people stuck implementing a failed strategy instead of the idiots in charge who think up such failed strategies. But reichwingers are so full of themselves and can't ever admit their leadership is the real problem.

    4 This rube thinks the surge is working? He's in for a rude awakening when the Madhi Army ends it's cease fire, and the Sunni Councils stop doing the US army a favor. He doesn't have a clue how the Shiite and Sunni Factions are playing for time to position themselves for the after math of the departure of the idiot in Washington.

    When that happens they will try to get the best they can out of the new administration, before total civil war breaks out again.

    and finally;

    Heck of a job Condi.

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  37. It looks like the Sunnis have stopped agreeing to work for Gen Betrayus, but I bet they appreciate all the guns and ammo he gave them, as well as all the money he paid them.

    The Surge is Working?

    by Steven D

    Much of the so-called success of the surge strategy in Iraq has had little to do with the escalation of troop levels by the Pentagon, and much to do with agreements between US forces and local Sunni tribes and former insurgents. These "Awakening Councils" have agreed to patrol their own districts and combat Al Qaeda in Iraq forces in exchange for arms, money and other support from the US military. In essence, American troops let Sunnis fight Sunnis so they wouldn't have to do so, reducing American deaths, even while the Shi'ite dominated government in Baghdad adamantly opposed this tactic, fearing it was only offering their sectarian rivals a chance to regroup and rearm in preparation for the day when the US withdrew its forces in whole or part.

    Well, now it appears that the "arm the Sunnis, too" strategy (which pre-dated the surge by several months) is beginning to unravel, as some Awakening Council leaders are withdrawing from their agreements with the Americans:

    Sunni armed groups known as Awakening Councils appear to have withdrawn their support for US forces and the Iraqi government in Diyala province.

    The move has been seen as a significant blow to the US, which has hailed the groups' work in securing towns and neighbourhoods as a rare success in increasing security in the country. [...]

    In Diyala province, a curfew has been imposed after the Sunni Awakening Councils ended patrols of towns and neighbourhoods. Tensions began mounting after two girls were kidnapped and killed last week by men dressed in Iraqi security forces uniform. Their bodies were later found stripped naked.

    The armed groups gave the chief of police until midday on Friday to apologise and arrest the men, who they say are Shia militiamen in the Iraqi security forces.

    "We hereby declare suspension of all co-operation with both US military, Iraqi security forces and the local government," Abu Abdullah, spokesman for Diyala's Awakening Council, announced after the deadline passed. [...]

    Hoda Abdel-Hamid, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Iraq, said: "As US forces push into Diyala as part of a massive operation to clear up the province, they need these people.

    "And once you have one Awakening Council who is going to retract, it might be more difficult to convince others citizens anywhere else to be part of these Awakening Councils." [...]

    The crisis threatens to spread as Awakening Councils in Falluja, Ramadi and certain neighbourhoods in Baghdad, complain of a lack of support from the government.


    What does this mean in the short term? More US patrols and therefore the risk of higher US casualties in Diyala province and elsewhere. Indeed, that may have already started to occur:

    Meanwhile, the US military announced that five American soldiers were killed in two roadside bombings on Friday.

    Four of the deaths occurred in Baghdad and one in Tamim province, the US military said in two separate statements on Saturday. The Tamim blast also wounded three soldiers.


    The problems in Diyala province also underscore the unresolved sectarian tensions between the Awakening Councils and the Shi'ite dominated government, police and army forces. We bought a very small measure of reduced fighting with our support of Sunni tribes who had previously opposed our forces, but we haven't eliminated the fundamental political problem in Iraq which is the sectarian and ethnic divisions between Shi'ite and Sunni, Arab and Kurd. Those divisions cannot be resolved merely by using Sunni proxies to fight the Sunni based Al Qaeda in Iraq on our behalf.

    The surge has created a false sense of progress, but underneath, nothing has really changed. And without political progress involving reconciliation and compromise among all the groups in Iraq, any benefits from the military escalation Bush (and our sycophantic American media) labeled the "Surge" will be ephemeral at best. At any moment, the smallest spark can relight the tinderbox of sectarian strife and the current level of violence, which declined but has not been eradicated by any stretch of the imagination, will increase dramatically once more.

    And, as always our troops, and innocent Iraqi civilians will be caught in the crossfire.


    Well, well, well, that didn't take long did it?

    Give the Sunnis about nine months to regroup, and even rearm thanks to Gen Betrayus, as well as resupply from the clueless general, and they are set to go back TO BUSINESS AS USUAL.

    Damn, ... I wonder why He couldn't figger out that is what they were a doing all along, him supposedly being a smart general and all?

    Might it be because he spent so much time LYING about Iran arming the insurgents, all the while it was the US Army doing it on HIS orders?

    Of course this includes making sure the "report he gave congress" on 9-11-2007, looked good with all the bribery he used to tamp down the violence for a while.

    Or maybe it was part of the plan to screw things up so badly that the next president can't leave with out the reichwing screeching like the gutless banshees they all are.

    What ever, if he is the best the neo-cons have got, and HE armed them for nine months with NO way to control them now? Well we should just pack up and come on home, because HE guaranteed they will prevail in the end, thanks to the arms he gave them and the money he paid them.

    Looks like Move On did get it wrong, they should have used the headline Gen Clueless.

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  38. And THIS is how the Bush administration treats wounded soldiers and marines even today;

    Denial in the Corps

    It is a long article, but NEEDS to be read to understand just how bad things are for the people Bush has sent back to Iraq 3,4 5 or more times.

    THAT is what John McCain wants 100 years of for the young of America.

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  39. Them American terrorists, killing innocent American people in cold blood!

    I say, let's bomb the NRA out of the caves, huh?!

    ReplyDelete
  40. Are repugs trying to manipulate and in a way disenfranchise the Democratic Presidential Nomination???????????

    I think they are pulling ANOTHER one of their slimy tricks...........are we to believe that virtually all the Neo Cons and far right fanatics like Coulter, Hannitty, Rush, Troll Tex, and all the other repug trolls and far righty loons who not only loathed and despised Clinton more than anyone but wereobsessed with running against her because they KNEW she had high negatives and would mobilize and energize their base would just flip flop and suppoty her.......I DONT BUY THAT FOR A SECOND, i read these guys like a book.

    I do believe that many of them really dont care for McCAINE........however "IF" they really did want to send the party a message that they ONLY support REAL conservatives and phony ones wont get their support, wouldnt it make MORE sense to say they will erither not vote at all or support the Democratic nominee whoever they are..........the fact that they say neither and say they will ONLY vote for Hillary Clinton tells me they are pulling another slimy scam...........they are trying to manipulate the Demacratic Superdelegates into "THINKING" that all the Neo Cons and far right war mongering waco's that comprise a good portion of the repug's base base will just flip flop and voter for a candidate they claimed to loathe so vehemently rather than choosing to not vote or support the dem nominnee regardess of who it is.

    This is another robotic talking point to influence the Superdelegates to go against the will of the people and make Clinton the nominee because she could "allegedly" laugh laugh cough cough........draw more hard core conservatives and neo Cons........they want it to APPEAR the Clinton is more electable, which isnt true because they KNOW mcCaine has a better chance against Hillary than obama.........Obama scares them.

    They KNOW Hillary has high negatives and will mobilize their base and wont attract moderates, plus they think if Hillary wins the nomination Bloomberg could enter the race and possibly tip the election to them because THATS the only chance this pack of fools has.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Clif - thank you for the posts.

    MauiGirl - You live in Kirkwood and your husband is on the zoning board. What are they saying about this guy?

    ReplyDelete
  42. Seriously people we REALLY need to start talking about these two stories, about repugs supporting Clinton, and credit card companies douibling rates on good customers with perfect credit............we need to expose these lies and unjustices by spreading them as widely as possible in the blogosphere so people start talking about them.

    Consider this we are teetering on the edge of recession, what we need is to keep banks lending and consumers spending and what does BOA do, they DOUBLE rates on NOT the bad customers who are a risk but the good ones with perfect credit............think about that one for a minute 90% of consumer spending which is 70% of our economy is fueled by debt based credit expansion, BOA doubling rates for good customers signifies that the era of credit/debt fueld growth is over and the only thing that can come is not a mild recession but a Depression.

    NO ONE can afford to buy things with 24% -30% interest rates, being relegated to either bankruptcy or just servicing debt without being able to afford to purchase anything like a hamster on a treadmill is the only outcome i see unless the Congress and New President acts quickly to change the bankruptcy laws and creates goodpaying jobs through massive public works projects like renewable green energy.

    ReplyDelete
  43. US Is Already in Recession, Majority Says
    By JEANNINE AVERSA,

    AP
    Posted: 2008-02-10 11:51:01
    Filed Under: Personal Finance
    WASHINGTON (Jan. 10) - Empty homes and for-sale signs clutter neighborhoods. You've lost your job or know someone who has. Your paycheck and nest egg are taking a hit. Could the country be in recession?

    Sixty-one percent of the public believes the economy is now suffering through its first recession since 2001, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll.

    What's Your Take?

    The fallout from a depressed housing market and a credit crunch nearly caused the economy to stall in the final three months of last year. Some experts, like the majority of people questioned in the poll, say the economy actually may be shrinking now. The worry is that consumers and businesses will hunker down further and pull back spending, sending the economy into a tailspin.

    "Absolutely, we're in a recession," said Hilda Sanchez, 44, of Waterford, Calif.

    Squeezed by high energy and food bills, "we can't afford the things that we normally buy," she said. "We are cutting corners in our spending. For our groceries, we are buying a lot of generic and we are eating out less."

    For many, the meltdown in the housing and mortgage markets has proved especially disturbing. Record numbers of people were forced from their homes, unable to afford the monthly loan payments. People watched their single biggest asset fall in value, a reason to tighten the belt.

    "Obviously the housing market is creating deep concern. And one of the real problems could be that if people, as a result of their value of their homes going down, kind of pull in their horns," President Bush said in a television interview aired Sunday.

    Credit has become harder to get, thwarting would-be home buyers, adding to the glut of unsold homes and aggravating the housing industry's woes.

    "For-sale signs are everywhere. In my area, 35 to 40 homes are standing there and aren't even complete. There aren't any buyers," said Jim Sims, 60, of Greer, S.C.

    Nanette Dahlin, 52, of St. Louis Park, Minn., called the situation "very scary." She said friends in Madison, Minn., put their home up for sale recently and reduced the asking price more than $100,000 in just a week. "They are in bad shape," Dahlin said.

    For all of 2007, the economy grew by just 2.2 percent. That was the weakest performance since 2002, when the country was struggling to recover from the last recession. The housing collapse was the biggest culprit in 2007. Builders lowered spending on housing projects by 16.9 percent on an annualized basis, the most in 25 years.

    The job market is faltering - a point driven home by a report showing that employers cut jobs in January for the first time in more than four years.

    "The way things are, people are afraid of losing their jobs," Sanchez said.

    Employment concerns are contributing to darker feelings about the economy and people's own financial well-being. Consumer confidence, as measured by the RBC Cash Index, dropped to a mark of 48.5 in early February. It was the worst reading since the index began in 2002.

    A cooling job market along with high energy and food prices are taking a toll on paychecks. Workers' average weekly earnings, adjusted for inflation, fell 0.9 percent last year. In 2006, earnings grew by a solid 2.1 percent.

    Wall Street is unsettled and as a result, people's nest eggs are not what they once were.

    In fact, that was the top economic worry in the AP-Ipsos poll. Fifty-nine percent said they were worried "a lot" or "some" about seeing the value of stocks and retirement investments drop.

    "I really dread opening my (financial) statements," Sims said.

    By one rough rule of thumb, a recession occurs when there are two consecutive quarters - six straight months - when the economy shrinks. That did not happen in the last recession, though. The economy contracted in the first quarter of 2001, turned positive in the second quarter, shrank in the third quarter and turned up again in the final quarter of that year.

    The National Bureau of Economic Research, the recognized arbiters for dating recessions, uses a more complicated formula. It takes into account such things as employment and income growth. By that measure, the last recession was in 2001, starting in March and ending in November.

    Bush, citing some experts, said the U.S. was not in a recession, although he acknowledged "that the signs are troubling enough" to justify the $168 billion economic rescue plan that passed Congress this past week. The measure he intends to sign on Wednesday includes tax rebates for people and tax breaks for businesses.

    To bolster the economy, the Federal Reserve embarked on a rate-cutting campaign in September, with two big reductions last month. In just eight days in January, the Fed slashed rates by 1.25 percentage points. The hope it that the lower rates will induce people to buy more and revive the economy.

    So if the poll figure of 61 percent is right - that the country is now in recession - then those relief efforts will help ease the effect of a downturn.

    "People are both depressed and anxious about the state of affairs. The anxiety is going to persist because we are in an uncertain season economically and politically," said Terry Connelly, dean of Golden Gate University's Ageno School of Business.

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  44. Oh one more thing..............I sure HOPE those Neo Cons and repugs who "CLAIM" they are going to vote for Hillary are happy when Hillary appoints some liberal Supreme Court justices............because god knows we need em after the Bush admin trainwreck of the last 7 years...............funny though how the hippocrittical repuggies dont seem to mind when these activist judges who legislate from the bench turn out to be conservatives its only when they arent ideologoes who agree with their bogus dishonest talking points that they have a problem with it.

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  45. Not that i acually believe for a minute that Coulter, Rush, Hanitty, volt or TT would actually vote for Hillary its just fun to illustrate how stupid and dishonest they really are and how stupid they think the American public still is...........sure theres plenty of stupid uninformed people left but thanks to Bush they see through the lies and dishonest talking pointsand empty rhetoric of the Reich Wing now............you clowns have NOOOOOOO credibility left just more lies and dirty tricks.

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  46. Not that i acually believe for a minute that Coulter, Rush, Hanitty, volt or TT would actually vote for Hillary its just fun to illustrate how stupid and dishonest they really are and how stupid they think the American public still is...........sure theres plenty of stupid uninformed people left but thanks to Bush they see through the lies and dishonest talking pointsand empty rhetoric of the Reich Wing now............you clowns have NOOOOOOO credibility left just more lies and dirty tricks.

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  47. Mike the rise in credit card rates is actually simple;

    Citibank, one of the largest credit card issuing banks is currently paying 14% interest to the Arabs who bailed them out of their stupid CDO and SIV tricks ......

    and if Citibank is screwed by having to charge above 14% for the cards they back, the banks who actually issue those cards to the costumers have to charge above the costs Citibank charges them.

    Simple economics 101 there.

    Well if they are paying out 14% interest (and above) they have to charge more then 14% interest to make any money at all.

    If the Arabs and Chinese are extracting payments like 14% for bailing out the stupid American Bankers, we are all in trouble, cause we will have to live with interest payments about what they charge.

    Simple remedy, pay off your debts and live with in your means.

    I have been doing that since 2002 when this started to show itself.

    Enjoy the privilege of living in interesting times, and of course the costs.

    Hope TT, Volt, FF and crusty didn't leverage too much debt in the last 5 years of stupid easy money from the reichwing scams. But if they did, sorry for their bad stupid luck.

    As for the rest of the country, well they all have to learn a simple but it seems hard lesson for the future, live with in the wages you earn.

    However like the last time the country tried to live on irrational exuberance, hyped up stock prices and fraudulent financial schemes; we have a decade or so to work our way out of this morass created by the same clowns who think underpaying for everything and passing the bill to future generations, will work out in the end.

    Hope we don't mind the interesting times too much this time, last time they eventually got out of it, but that included the worst war the earth ever has seem. Hopefully we can avoid that one.

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  48. Mike,

    I don't know what any one else may do, but I can assure you I will not be voting for McCain.

    All he is, is "Hillary lite".

    If he is elected President he will effectively be the head of the Republican party. (a party he's turned his back on numerous times when we needed him I might add)

    If the Republicans in congress try to oppose him on important issues, the RNC can threaten them with lack of re-election support and other aid in the name of party unity.

    That won't happen with a Dem as president.

    And I personally prefer Hillary over Obama for several reasons, As you mention Hillary DOES have high negatives, and Obama does have much charisma.

    She is communism with a tank. People will naturally oppose her.

    Obama is communism with a hug and a pat on the back. His seductive style may just sweet talk them out of their rights.

    In my opinion, Obama is the most dangerous to our country, with McCain second, and Hillary is the least.

    As far as Supreme Court justices go, McCain has lied to our face before. He recently made the comment Alito was too conservative for him, then denied he ever said that when called on it. (that's the thing with McCain, he's either senile or he's a congenital liar. Even when he's caught on tape, he denies he said it)

    As long as we can get conservatives in congress, they will keep Hillary in check on appointments.

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  49. Well, well, well, ole' mikie hucklebee don't like the way repubies count the votes either;

    We Been Robbed

    Here's a press release just put out by the Huckabee campaign ...

    The Huckabee Presidential Campaign will be exploring all available legal options regarding the dubious final results for the state of Washington State Republican precinct caucuses, it was announced today. Campaign Chairman Ed Rollins issued the following statement:

    "The Huckabee campaign is deeply disturbed by the obvious irregularities in the Washington State Republican precinct caucuses. It is very unfortunate that the Washington State Party Chairman, Luke Esser, chose to call the race for John McCain after only 87 percent of the vote was counted. According to CNN, the difference between Senator McCain and Governor Huckabee is a mere 242 votes, out of more than 12,000 votes counted-with another 1500 or so votes, apparently, not counted. That is an outrage.

    "In other words, more than one in eight Evergreen State Republicans have been disenfranchised by the actions of their own party. This was an error in judgment by Mr. Esser. It was Mr. Esser's duty to oversee a fair vote-count process. Washington Republicans know, from bitter experience in the 2004 gubernatorial election, the terrible results that can come from bad ballot-counting.

    "Frankly, I am disappointed in the way that Mr. Esser has handled this urgent matter. So I call upon Mr. Esser and his colleagues to cooperate fully with the Huckabee campaign-and all Republicans, everywhere, who care about honest and transparent vote-counting-to make sure that every vote is counted and that all Republicans in Washington have the chance to make their votes count. Attempts by our campaign to contact Mr. Esser have been unsuccessful. Our lawyers will be on the ground in Washington State soon, and we look forward to sitting down with Mr. Esser to evaluate this process, to see why the count took so long, and why the vote-counting was stopped prematurely.

    "It would be a disservice to every voter in Washington State to not pursue a full accounting of all votes cast.

    "This is not about Mike Huckabee. This is not about Senator John McCain. This is about the failings of the Washington State Republican Party. All Republicans should unite to demand an honest accounting of the votes, so that Republicans can have full confidence in the results, and full confidence in the eventual Republican nominee. As I said, we are prepared to go to court, and we are also prepared to take our case all the way to the Republican National Convention in September.

    "Our cause is just. We must reemphasize the sacred American principle that all ballots be counted in a free, fair, and transparent manner."



    --Josh Marshall

    Repugs cheating other repugs, who'd a thunk it?

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  50. Dolty boy playing the victim, that is priceless.

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  51. that's the thing with McCain, he's either senile or he's a congenital liar. Even when he's caught on tape, he denies he said it)"


    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...........on this one we are in complete agreement!

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  52. Car bombs and gunmen struck new U.S. allies, police and civilians Sunday in northern Iraq, killing as many as 53 people. The spate of attacks came even as the American military released a captured diary and another document they say show al-Qaida in Iraq cracking under a Sunni revolt against its brutal tactics.

    The violence coincided with a visit by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Baghdad, where he warned that hard choices face Iraq's political leaders on how to stabilize the country despite promising new signs of progress toward reconciliation.

    The deadliest bombing on Sunday was near Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad, against a checkpoint manned jointly by Iraqi police and members of an awakening group.

    Iraqi police said a suicide truck bomber targeted a checkpoint manned by U.S.-allied fighters and Iraqi police at the entrance of a bridge in the district of Yathrib on the outskirts of Balad. Security forces opened fire on the driver, but he managed to detonate his payload, devastating a nearby car market and other stores.

    "Surge On Bush"

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  53. Karl Rove last week announced that he had given $2300 to the presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain.

    Asked over the weekend about the donation, McCain said he has "always respected Karl Rove as one of the smart great political minds I think in American politics," and specifically refused to condemn Rove's hyper-partisan campaign tactics (including his smears against McCain in the 2000 South Carolina race).

    Selling his senile old withered soul for a stint with the dirtmaster.

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  54. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican who served under President Bush, said Friday he may not back the GOP presidential nominee in November, telling CNN that "I am keeping my options open at the moment."

    Another lie from the war liar.

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  55. Chavez Threatens to Halt Oil Sales to US
    By SANDRA SIERRA,

    AP
    Posted: 2008-02-10 18:24:40
    CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - President Hugo Chavez on Sunday threatened to cut off oil sales to the United States in an "economic war" if Exxon Mobil Corp. wins court judgments to seize billions of dollars in Venezuelan assets.

    Exxon Mobil has gone after the assets of state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA in U.S., British and Dutch courts as it challenges the nationalization of a multibillion dollar oil project by Chavez's government.

    A British court has issued an injunction "freezing" as much as $12 billion in assets.

    "If you end up freezing (Venezuelan assets) and it harms us, we're going to harm you," Chavez said during his weekly radio and television program, "Hello, President." "Do you know how? We aren't going to send oil to the United States. Take note, Mr. Bush, Mr. Danger."

    Chavez has repeatedly threatened to cut off oil shipments to the United States, which is Venezuela's No. 1 client, if Washington tries to oust him. Chavez's warnings on Sunday appeared to extend that threat to attempts by oil companies to challenge his government's nationalization drive through lawsuits.

    "I speak to the U.S. empire, because that's the master: continue and you will see that we won't sent one drop of oil to the empire of the United States," Chavez said Sunday.

    "The outlaws of Exxon Mobil will never again rob us," Chavez said, accusing the Irving, Texas-based oil company of acting in concert with Washington.

    Exxon Mobil spokeswoman Margaret Ross said the company had no comment. A U.S. Embassy spokeswoman in Caracas did not return a call.

    Venezuela accounted for about 12 percent of U.S. crude oil imports in November, the latest figures available from the U.S. Energy Department. The 1.23 million barrels a day from Venezuela makes that country the U.S.'s fourth-biggest oil importer behind Canada, Saudi Arabia and Mexico.

    Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez has argued that court orders won by Exxon Mobil have "no effect" on the state oil company PDVSA and are merely "transitory measures" while Venezuela presents its case in courts in New York and London.

    Exxon Mobil is also taking its claims to international arbitration, disputing the terms it was granted under Chavez's nationalization last year of four heavy oil projects in the Orinoco River basin, one of the world's richest oil deposits.

    Other major oil companies including U.S.-based Chevron Corp., France's Total, Britain's BP PLC, and Norway's StatoilHydro ASA have negotiated deals with Venezuela to continue on as minority partners in the Orinoco oil project.

    ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil, however, balked at the tougher terms and have been in compensation talks with PDVSA.

    Associated Press writer John Porretto in Houston contributed to this report.

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  56. That wont be good for the stock market or the price of oil tomorrow!

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  57. Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft on Saturday defended President George W. Bush's electronic surveillance program, saying it was far less intrusive than similar surveillance in World Wars I and II.

    Bush has been using security measures to protect freedoms, not to curb freedom, Ashcroft said in a speech to hundreds of Missouri Republicans attending the party's statewide Lincoln Days festivities this weekend.

    "The president of the United States has been among the most respectful of all leaders ever engaged in the responsibility of fighting for freedom,'' Ashcroft said, and has been "most respectful in terms of respecting the civil liberties and rights of individuals while engaged in the important task of fighting for freedom."

    Did he think that on his deathbed when Bush's boys shoved that pen and illegal act in his face?

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  58. WASHINGTON — John McCain is a "true conservative," President Bush says, although the likely Republican presidential nominee may have to work harder to convince other conservatives that he is one of their own.

    McCain "is very strong on national defense," Bush said in an interview taped for airing on "Fox News Sunday." "He is tough fiscally. He believes the tax cuts ought to be permanent. He is pro-life. His principles are sound and solid as far as I'm concerned."

    Did Bush say that because McCain has had his lips on his knomes the past 7 years?

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  59. Sun endorsement: Betting on change, reform

    George W. Bush's presidency can't end soon enough. Many Americans are fatigued by the state of the nation: a relentless war in Iraq, a bottomless deficit, the bruising mortgage crisis and the United States' flagging image abroad. So it is not hard to be energized by the prospects for a successor.

    When Marylanders vote in Tuesday's presidential primary, both Democratic choices are promising a new political era for this century, and each has the intellect and the skills to deliver. Hillary Clinton, with her years in Washington and most recently in the Senate representing New York, brings rich experience. She is tough and keenly focused, pragmatic and driven. But Barack Obama, her Senate colleague from Illinois, offers a more compelling vision for the country that he would lead. He wants to forge a new reality in Washington where consensus replaces confrontation. And he has shown a remarkable ability to enroll a diverse array of Americans in his cause, convincing a new generation that it too has a stake in Washington.

    That's why The Sun strongly endorses Mr. Obama as the Democratic nominee for president.

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  60. Clif said "As for the rest of the country, well they all have to learn a simple but it seems hard lesson for the future, live with in the wages you earn. "

    Clif i think many people will be lucky to still be getting wages if this is as ugly as it looks............unemployment was over 10% in the Reagan Recession of 1982 and it was at 25% during the Great Depression..........i expect the Bush Depression to be somewhere between the two but closer to the Great Depression levels and pain.

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  61. The Writers Guild held a closed-door meeting Friday with strike captains to brief them on the tentative deal. Here's what a source inside the room told me:

    The Meeting

    About 250 strike captains attended. The confab was at WGA headquarters in LA. A written summary of the proposed deal was distributed, but copies were numbered and had to be returned. No word on what the members will receive prior to - or at? - the membership meetings tonight (Sat. night).

    Ratification Process for New Contract

    Under the WGA constitution and bylaws, there is a ten-day ratification process and an alternative, 48-hour ratification process. Guild president Patric Verrone indicated that there are burdensome logistical procedures required under the 48-hour process that make it impractical. Thus, they expect to use the ten-day process.

    During the ratification process, people will be asked to suspend the strike and return to work pending the outcome of the vote. Many people at the meeting objected to this, and apparently are feeling pressured or even manipulated by the Guild leadership. Nonetheless, a back-to-work resolution is apparently part of the deal the Guild leadership agreed to.

    Although people expressed criticism of the deal, my source believes it will pass.

    New Media Residuals

    Pretty much the same as the DGA deal, with a couple notable exceptions. One difference, as previously reported in the trades and elsewhere, is that the residual for ad-supported streaming is 2% of distributors gross, starting in the third year of the three-year Guild agreement. (For the first two years, the residual is a fixed dollar amount.) The other difference from the DGA deal relates to cable TV; see below.

    The promotional window (during which no residuals are due) is still 17 or 24 days, as in the DGA deal, and the formula for paid downloads is unchanged from the DGA deal as well.

    Cable Residuals and Minimums

    Cable takes it on the chin, in two ways. First, the improved residual rate for ad-supported streaming (2% of distributors gross rather than a fixed dollar amount) applies only to network TV shows streamed on new media (the Internet or cell phones). In contrast, streaming of cable TV shows is subject only to the fixed dollar residual.

    Second, basic cable minimums were not increased to the same degree as achieved by the DGA. Specifically, under the DGA deal, directors of high-budget basic-cable programs got a 12% pay increase. However, under the proposed WGA deal, writers of such programs do not receive an equivalent bump. (Note - this issue is not related to new media.)

    Given the increasing amount of scripted content on cable (basic cable, such as FX, USA and AMC, as well as pay TV such as HBO and Showtime) - and the decreasing amount on network TV, at least for the time being (since strike-replacement reality programming is occupying time slots formerly held by scripted programming) - it seems shortsighted and unfortunate for cable TV to suffer second-class citizenship.

    Favored Nations

    If the Screen Actors Guild gets better deal terms in its upcoming negotiations than the writers, will the writers retroactively get the benefit of those improved terms? This is called "favored nations." (See http://digitalmedialaw.blogspot.com/2008/02/favored-nations.html for discussion.)


    The WGA deal, it turns out, has only a limited form of favored nations - it applies only to the new media provisions of the proposed agreement. So, if SAG attains better terms in another area, such as DVD residuals (which SAG has highlighted as an issue it will focus on), the writers would not get the benefit of SAG's efforts.

    This issue may be academic - AFTRA (another, and more moderate, actors union) has announced that it will negotiate separately with the studios, undercutting SAG's leverage and perhaps reducing the likelihood of any gains. Still, this story is very much in flux, and it's too early to know whether SAG might nonetheless achieve further benefit.

    New Media Jurisdiction

    If a professional writer writes original programming for new media, the work will be covered by the Guild agreement, even if the budget levels for the programming are low. This is an improvement over the DGA deal, which covers original programming for new media only above certain budget levels. (Derivative programming for new media - i.e., spinoffs of existing TV shows or movies - are covered regardless of budget level.)

    The proposed deal sets minimum compensation levels, though the minimums are not high.

    Separated Rights

    The proposed deal provides for separated rights in new media. See http://digitalmedialaw.blogspot.com/2008/02/whats-deal.html for an explanation of this concept.

    Minimums

    Various minimum compensation levels will increase by 3.5% or 3% per year under the proposed deal.

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  62. Larry said...
    Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft on Saturday defended President George W. Bush's electronic surveillance program, saying it was far less intrusive than similar surveillance in World Wars I and II.

    Bush has been using security measures to protect freedoms, not to curb freedom, Ashcroft said in a speech to hundreds of Missouri Republicans attending the party's statewide Lincoln Days festivities this weekend.

    "The president of the United States has been among the most respectful of all leaders ever engaged in the responsibility of fighting for freedom,'' Ashcroft said, and has been "most respectful in terms of respecting the civil liberties and rights of individuals while engaged in the important task of fighting for freedom."

    Did he think that on his deathbed when Bush's boys shoved that pen and illegal act in his face?"

    Larry, how much do you wanna bet that if Ashcroft HAD signed that document authorizing Bush's illegal unconstitutional spying on American citizens that he would have had an "UNFORTUNATE" Accident and not survived the night.

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  63. WALLINGFORD, Conn. -- The media have been barred from covering a speech by former presidential adviser Karl Rove to students at a prestigious prep school on Monday.

    Mary Verselli, spokeswoman for Choate Rosemary Hall, said Headmaster Edward Shanahan and Rove decided mutually to exclude the media.

    The prep school, which is the alma mater of President John F. Kennedy and two-time Democratic presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson, is limiting attendance to students and staff due to space restrictions in the auditorium, she said.

    "With all our students attending, we're only going to be able to squeeze in half of the faculty with chairs at the back of the auditorium," Verselli said. "This is a special program, a school event, and we typically don't invite the media to a school event."

    What are they hiding?

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  64. President Hugo Chavez on Sunday threatened to cut off oil sales to the United States in an "economic war" if Exxon Mobil Corp. wins court judgments to seize billions of dollars in Venezuelan assets.

    Exxon Mobil has gone after the assets of state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA in U.S., British and Dutch courts as it challenges the nationalization of a multibillion dollar oil project by Chavez's government.

    A British court has issued an injunction "freezing" as much as $12 billion in assets.

    "If you end up freezing (Venezuelan assets) and it harms us, we're going to harm you," Chavez said during his weekly radio and television program, "Hello, President." "Do you know how? We aren't going to send oil to the United States. Take note, Mr. Bush, Mr. Danger."

    Chavez has repeatedly threatened to cut off oil shipments to the United States, which is Venezuela's No. 1 client, if Washington tries to oust him. Chavez's warnings on Sunday appeared to extend that threat to attempts by oil companies to challenge his government's nationalization drive through lawsuits.

    "I speak to the U.S. empire, because that's the master: continue and you will see that we won't sent one drop of oil to the empire of the United States," Chavez said Sunday.

    "The outlaws of Exxon Mobil will never again rob us," Chavez said, accusing the Irving, Texas-based oil company of acting in concert with Washington.

    Here is another war for Bush.

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  65. World stockmarkets lost 5.2 trillion dollars (3.6 trillion euros) in January thanks to the fallout from the US subprime crisis and fears of a global economic slowdown, Standard & Poor's said Saturday.

    "If investors thought the market could only go up, January's wake-up call pulled them back into reality," the independent credit ratings' provider said.

    Standard & Poor's said the world's equity markets lost a combined 5.2 trillion dollars as emerging markets fell 12.44 percent and developed markets lost 7.83 percent to register one of the worst starts to a new year.

    "There were few safe havens in January as 50 of the 52 global equity markets ended the month in negative territory, with 25 of them posting double-digit losses," said Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&Ps.

    All 26 developed equity markets posted negative returns in January, with 16 losing at least 10 percent of their value.

    The January declines negated all previous market gains, leaving all of the developed markets in the red for the trailing three month period.

    In Paris, the stock exchange lost 12.27 percent over the course of January, 15.27 percent over the past three months, more than wiping out its gains over the last 12 months -- down 0.74 percent).

    The situation was even worse in London -- down 8.85 percent in January, down 16.54 percent for the past three months and down 2.22 percent over 12 months -- and in the US, which was down 6.07 percent in January, down 10.78 percent over three months and down 2.42 percent over 12 months.

    The story was similar in Japan, where the market lost 4.47 percent in January, 10.31 percent over three months and down 10.44 percent over the past 12 months.

    In Germany, in contrast, although the stock exchange lost 13.72 percent in January and 13.84 percent over three months, it was up 13.43 percent over the year.

    Equity markets in emerging countries also suffered heavy losses in January, apart from Morocco which gained 10.17 percent and Jordan, which was up by 3.11 percent. Turkey was the most affected with January losses reaching 22.70 percent, followed by China on 21.40 percent, Russia on 16.12 percent and India at 16 percent.

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  66. U.S. retailers reported their slowest monthly sales growth in five years, which would further cement fears that American consumers are buckling under the weight of a slowing economy.

    Leading the way was No. 1 retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc., (WMT, Fortune 500) which on Thursday reported a big miss in its January same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year. Same-store sales is a key measure of performance in the retail industry.

    Wal-Mart partly blamed its soft sales on poor gift card redemptions, but one retail analyst wasn't buying that explanation.

    "Wal-Mart's not a top destination for gift card redemptions," said Ken Perkins, president of sales tracking firm Retail Metrics. "I think its results show that its core low-income shoppers and now the middle-class households who shop there are scaling back."

    Thomson Financial, which compares monthly results at 42 of the nation's largest retail chains based on analysts' estimates, on Friday revised its final January same-store sales increase to 0.4%, well below forecasts for a 1% increase.

    The firm has earlier reported a final monthly increase of 0.3%.

    That is the slowest monthly pace of growth in the measure since March 2003. It also spells bad news for the economy, since consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of economic growth.

    Most retail analysts have been anticipating widespread sales weakness as more Americans cut back their spending amid the housing slump and tighter credit conditions.

    Rising debt levels, along with a jump in gas and food prices and an uptick in unemployment, have also pinched consumers.

    "If we aren't already in a recession, there is a very good chance that we are heading there," Perkins said

    But one economist cautioned against using last month's sales weakness to claim that a recession is now a fait accompli.

    "Consumer spending has been remarkably strong through the fourth quarter," said Michael Englund, chief economist with Action Economics. "So we have to be a little bit cautious about that claim,"

    Englund conceded that the January sales numbers now "raise a red flag that consumer spending is slowing," but he said the trend is also troubling because it comes at the tail end of a surge in annual bonus and gift card redemptions.

    "Over the last three years we've had an explosive surge in year-end bonuses and gift-card redemptions which boosted January sales," Englund said. But as that surge begins to diminish, it's leading to slow spending in January.

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  67. Barack Obama defeated Hillary Rodham Clinton in Maine presidential caucuses Sunday, grabbing a majority of delegates as the state's Democrats overlooked the snowy weather and turned out in heavy numbers for municipal gatherings.

    Democrats in 420 Maine towns and cities were deciding how the state's 24 delegates will be allotted at the party's national convention in August. Despite the weather, turnout was "incredible," party executive director Arden Manning said

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  68. By Alec Baldwin

    For Democrats in this country, the choice has been difficult. Now, it is almost excruciating. The freshness and vitality of Barack Obama versus the experience and doggedness of Hillary Clinton. In the wake of the endless nightmare of the Bush years, Democrats seem to want someone truly exceptional. They seem to want a candidate who will actually have a chance at cleaning up some of the mind-blowing mess that George Bush has created in eight years. Unlike the Republicans, who elected Bush twice and who organized a recall of California Governor Gray Davis and replaced him with body-builder/action star Arnold Schwarzenegger, who went on to lead California into an even bigger fiscal mess than the Davis years saw, Democrats want substance as much as electability. Gore seemed a likely choice, but Gore would have none of it.

    Edwards was right on many important issues, but seemed green in the post-9/11 world. He isn't, actually, but appearances trumped his ideas and rhetoric. Now we have two people remaining on the eve of Super Tuesday and the most significant question is "Which one can beat McCain?" Hillary Clinton has done everything right. She stood by her husband and endured the ridicule of Republican bullies like Newt Gingrich during what must have been the worst time of her life. She rewrote her own epitaph by crawling out from under the rubble of her marital troubles and became a Senator in a state where the egos in the political arena are as oversized as New York's skyline. She studied hard, as she always has, and she won. Twice. She became a role model for all other women in politics. She is smart. She is tough. And most people agree that she will probably run a better White House than any other candidate that has taken the field.

    But Hillary Clinton is wrong on the war in Iraq and that should matter a lot in this race. Critics of Hillary Clinton who are leaders in the Democratic Party that I have spoken to privately believe that she is too much like McCain to offer voters a meaningful choice. "Voters will choose a real Republican over a fake Republican every time," one politico said to me, slashing at Clinton for her tilt toward the right on the war.

    "The Clintons don't know when to get off the stage," another offered, suggesting that eight years of Bush and the war on terror seem to have pushed the Bill Clinton years, where Hillary will remain inexorably framed in the minds of many, into a bygone political era.

    Barack Obama represents hope to many and some in Clinton's camp have underestimated how much Americans are hungering for that hope in 2008. Obama is clearly not McCain. He is young. He is against the war and he is inexperienced. Republicans, to their shame, will trumpet McCain's experience over Obama's, running as fast as they can from the fact that Gore was the smarter, tougher and more experienced candidate in 2000. Republicans don't care about anything but winning. That's why they put forth candidates like Reagan, Arnold and Bush. By the time they reach the end of their first term, it's assumed they have all the experience they need. Like their nephew at the bank.

    Which candidate will have the best chance against McCain? The experienced one or the exciting one? The one who is smart and tough and whose stances on some issues are oh-so-similar to those of the presumed GOP opponent? Or the less experienced, less tested one who has many Americans believing that someone more like them may make a return to the White House? During the Democratic debates, I wanted someone to ask one question. "Do you believe that any of the people sitting in this audience have as much hope of becoming president as you do?" I think that should matter, because the presidency of this country has become the exclusive preserve of legal elites and political or corporate barons. And our country is suffering as the result of it.

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  69. Yahoo Inc.'s board will reject Microsoft Corp.'s $44.6 billion takeover bid after concluding the unsolicited offer undervalues the slumping Internet pioneer, a person familiar with the situation said Saturday.

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  70. The world economy remains vulnerable to downside risks stemming from tighter credit, a deterioration of the US housing market, higher oil prices and rising inflation, according to G7 finance ministers gathering in Tokyo on Saturday.

    Although "long-term fundamentals remain sound" and recession in the US and elsewhere could be avoided, according to the final communiqué, the world's richest nations said they stood ready to "take appropriate actions, individually and collectively, in order to secure stability and growth".

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  71. HSBC Holdings, the biggest bank in Europe, plans to put about half of its 800 French consumer branches up for sale as it focuses on expanding in Asia and other emerging markets, a person with direct knowledge of the plan confirmed on Sunday.

    The step would be part of HSBC's broader shift from developed markets with more exposure to subprime loans to faster-growing emerging markets, said the person, who declined to be identified because the sale had not been announced.

    It's the growing Bush Recession.

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  72. Empty homes and for-sale signs clutter neighborhoods. You've lost your job or know someone who has. Your paycheck and nest egg are taking a hit.

    Could the country be in recession?

    Sixty-one percent of the public believes the economy is now suffering through its first recession since 2001, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll.

    The fallout from a depressed housing market and a credit crunch nearly caused the economy to stall in the final three months of last year. Some experts, like the majority of people questioned in the poll, say the economy actually may be shrinking now. The worry is that consumers and businesses will hunker down further and pull back spending, sending the economy into a tailspin.

    "Absolutely, we're in a recession," said Hilda Sanchez, 44, of Waterford, Calif.

    Squeezed by high energy and food bills, "we can't afford the things that we normally buy," she said. "We are cutting corners in our spending. For our groceries, we are buying a lot of generic and we are eating out less."

    For many, the meltdown in the housing and mortgage markets has proved especially disturbing. Record numbers of people were forced from their homes, unable to afford the monthly loan payments. People watched their single biggest asset fall in value, a reason to tighten the belt.

    "Obviously the housing market is creating deep concern. And one of the real problems could be that if people, as a result of their value of their homes going down, kind of pull in their horns," President Bush said in a television interview aired Sunday.

    Credit has become harder to get, thwarting would-be home buyers, adding to the glut of unsold homes and aggravating the housing industry's woes.

    "For-sale signs are everywhere. In my area, 35 to 40 homes are standing there and aren't even complete. There aren't any buyers," said Jim Sims, 60, of Greer, S.C.

    Nanette Dahlin, 52, of St. Louis Park, Minn., called the situation "very scary." She said friends in Madison, Minn., put their home up for sale recently and reduced the asking price more than $100,000 in just a week. "They are in bad shape," Dahlin said.

    For all of 2007, the economy grew by just 2.2 percent. That was the weakest performance since 2002, when the country was struggling to recover from the last recession. The housing collapse was the biggest culprit in 2007. Builders lowered spending on housing projects by 16.9 percent on an annualized basis, the most in 25 years.

    The job market is faltering _ a point driven home by a report showing that employers cut jobs in January for the first time in more than four years.

    "The way things are, people are afraid of losing their jobs," Sanchez said.

    Employment concerns are contributing to darker feelings about the economy and people's own financial well-being. Consumer confidence, as measured by the RBC Cash Index, dropped to a mark of 48.5 in early February. It was the worst reading since the index began in 2002.

    A cooling job market along with high energy and food prices are taking a toll on paychecks. Workers' average weekly earnings, adjusted for inflation, fell 0.9 percent last year. In 2006, earnings grew by a solid 2.1 percent.

    Wall Street is unsettled and as a result, people's nest eggs are not what they once were.

    In fact, that was the top economic worry in the AP-Ipsos poll. Fifty-nine percent said they were worried "a lot" or "some" about seeing the value of stocks and retirement investments drop.

    "I really dread opening my (financial) statements," Sims said.

    By one rough rule of thumb, a recession occurs when there are two consecutive quarters _ six straight months _ when the economy shrinks. That did not happen in the last recession, though. The economy contracted in the first quarter of 2001, turned positive in the second quarter, shrank in the third quarter and turned up again in the final quarter of that year.

    The National Bureau of Economic Research, the recognized arbiters for dating recessions, uses a more complicated formula. It takes into account such things as employment and income growth. By that measure, the last recession was in 2001, starting in March and ending in November.

    Bush, citing some experts, said the U.S. was not in a recession, although he acknowledged "that the signs are troubling enough" to justify the $168 billion economic rescue plan that passed Congress this past week. The measure he intends to sign on Wednesday includes tax rebates for people and tax breaks for businesses.

    To bolster the economy, the Federal Reserve embarked on a rate-cutting campaign in September, with two big reductions last month. In just eight days in January, the Fed slashed rates by 1.25 percentage points. The hope it that the lower rates will induce people to buy more and revive the economy.

    So if the poll figure of 61 percent is right _ that the country is now in recession _ then those relief efforts will help ease the effect of a downturn.

    "People are both depressed and anxious about the state of affairs. The anxiety is going to persist because we are in an uncertain season economically and politically," said Terry Connelly, dean of Golden Gate University's Ageno School of Business.

    The poll was based on the responses from 1,006 adults surveyed Monday through Wednesday about their attitudes on personal finance and the economy. Results of the survey had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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  73. The woes in the U.S. financial sector are "poetic justice" for bankers who designed and sold complex investments that have since gone sour, billionaire investor Warren Buffett said on Wednesday.

    The head of the Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N: Quote, Profile, Research) (BRKb.N: Quote, Profile, Research) group of companies also played down worries about a credit crunch by saying that recent interest rate cuts mean low-cost funds are readily available.

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  74. Consumer spending slowed to a crawl in January, with retail sales at major chains rising just 0.5% in what was by one measure the month's worst performance in nearly 40 years, according to reports released Thursday.

    Evidence of consumer caution came from both ends of the marketplace.

    Headed For The Bush Depression.

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  75. The U.S. economy has entered a recession that will be more painful and drawn out than the usual downturn, the director of the Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey said on Friday.

    Inflation pressures will linger despite the retrenchment in consumer spending, complicating the task of policy-makers, the University's Richard Curtin said in a report, citing data from industry group The Conference Board.

    "This is no ordinary recession," he said. "The aftereffects will last much longer than the typical downturn."

    He said the Conference Board's expectations index is a strong predictor of economic contractions, and that it is currently flashing red.

    With Americans getting hit with everything from a housing downturn to excess borrowing, things will get worse before they get better.

    "Consumers must take more drastic steps to stabilize their finances in the midst of high fuel and food prices, stagnant incomes, and record debt," Curtin said.

    TWO AMERICAS

    The new report adds that a rising wealth gap will, even more than usual, lead to disproportionate pain for middle- and lower-income Americans.

    "Growing income inequality has insulated higher income groups to a greater extent than ever before," the report said.

    Yet the rich will not go unscathed, with the stock market's recent slide likely taking a bite out of many an investment portfolio.

    Paradoxically, worsening economic conditions will induce families to save money, reinforcing the drag on an economy that has become largely reliant on consumer spending.

    "The negative impact will grow as home prices continue to fall in the year ahead," he said.

    Bush has destroyed something else.

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  76. Edwards continues pre-endorsement conversations with remaining Dems, meeting with Obama Monday in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

    He held a secret meeting with Hillary Clinton Thursday (she snuck there from D.C. undetected by the media — met at the Edwards house.)

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  77. Mike it wasn't long ago Ashcroft was playing the victim over Gonzo's bedside visit, now everything is peachy.

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  78. Wow that Alec Baldwin article was great. (Above.)

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  79. This is just HOW much the Bush administration wants the troops to get help from their combat related medical problems;

    Document Shows Army Blocked Help for Soldiers

    A document from the Department of Veterans Affairs contradicts an assertion made by the Army surgeon general that his office did not tell VA officials to stop helping injured soldiers with their military disability paperwork at a New York Army post.

    The paperwork can help determine health care and disability benefits for wounded soldiers.

    Last week, NPR first described a meeting last March between an Army team from Washington and VA officials at Fort Drum Army base in upstate New York. NPR reported that Army representatives told the VA not to review the narrative summaries of soldiers' injuries, and that the VA complied with the Army's request.

    The day the NPR story aired, Army Surgeon General Eric B. Schoomaker denied parts of the report. Rep. John McHugh (R-NY), who represents the Fort Drum area, told North Country Public Radio, that "The Surgeon General of the Army told me very flatly that it was not the Army that told the VA to stop this help."

    Now, NPR has obtained a four-page VA document that contradicts the surgeon general's statement to McHugh. It was written by one of the VA officials at Fort Drum on March 31, the day after the meeting. The document says Col. Becky Baker of the Army Surgeon General's office told the VA to discontinue counseling soldiers on the appropriateness of Defense Department ratings because "there exists a conflict of interest."

    When contacted by NPR, Baker referred an interview request to the Army Surgeon General's spokeswoman. The spokeswoman rejected requests for interviews with Baker and Schoomaker.

    The document says that before the Army team's visit, people from the Army Inspector General's office came to Fort Drum and told the VA it was providing a useful service to soldiers by reviewing their disability paperwork.

    According to the document, joining Baker on the Army team at the Fort Drum meeting was Dr. Alan Janusziewicz. He retired as deputy assistant surgeon general for the Army in October.

    "I was part of the team, and I was probably instrumental in the surgeon general denying that the Army had instructed the VA" to stop reviewing soldiers' Army medical documents, Janusziewicz told NPR in a phone interview.

    Janusziewicz says he has no memory of Baker telling the VA to stop helping soldiers with their military paperwork. In fact, he says, he thought the VA at Fort Drum was doing the best job of any base he visited. But he also says his recollection of the meeting is spotty, since it took place almost a year ago.

    "I believe that document is more likely to represent a miscommunication of intent between what Col. Baker was trying to get across and what folks on the receiving end of that communication likely heard," Janusziewicz said.

    The document describing the meeting at Fort Drum says the primary purpose for the visit was to "ensure that there are no other 'Walter Reed' situations at other Army installations." That's a reference to the scandal at Walter Reed Army hospital in Washington, which detailed reports of neglect of soldiers recovering from injuries sustained in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    According to the document, Rosie Taylor, who recently retired as Fort Drum's Disability Program manager, described soldiers at the base in conditions of squalor and neglect. In an interview on Wednesday, Taylor described "soldiers crawling on their bellies to go to the bathroom, or soldiers who'd had surgery who couldn't go to chow because they had no way to get there."

    The document says one soldier was bedridden for three days without a change of clothes or meal. Taylor says nobody listened to her complaints until the Walter Reed scandal.

    "Every time I walked into a meeting before, it was like 'Oh my God, there goes $70,000.' And after Walter Reed hit the fan, it was like I was getting phone calls, 'Rosie we're doing over a building and we need your advice on access,'" Taylor says.

    Taylor says the accessibility problems have generally been solved.

    She doesn't remember whether the Army told the VA to stop helping soldiers with their disability paperwork. But she will say this about Fort Drum's VA workers: "They stand on their heads for soldiers. They put their jobs on the line for soldiers. They don't care if they're not supposed to do something; if a soldier needs something done, they do it anyway."

    Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) has already asked the Army to investigate the situation at Fort Drum. She called the allegations in last week's report "deeply disturbing."

    Whether the situation at the Army base is a result of poor communication, poor memory or something else altogether, the result is the same: For the last year, hundreds of disabled soldiers at Fort Drum have received less help with their disability paperwork than the soldiers who came before them.


    Read the actual Memo here

    All I can say is FU@K these a$$holes, who place the desires of Bushco and the conservative movement ahead of the troops.

    and FU@K those gutless clowns who call themselves conservatives and worked very hard to deny the troops what they deserve since 1980.

    Their sorry asses should be in Iraq instead of the troops who are being fu@ked by Bush and the conservative movement just to save a few pennies on their taxes.

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  80. CNBC is getting funnier and funnier to watch in the morning as the talking heads there keep trying to put make-up and a tutu on the pig that is the US economy now a days.

    By June CNBC in the morning will be just another Kafka experimental theater exercise;


    U.S. economy's descent steepens

    Job losses and a contraction in the business sector where more than 80 percent of Americans work show that the angle of descent for the U.S. economy is steepening.

    Unsurprisingly, while problems are spreading to the formerly indefatigable American consumer, the old issues - falling home prices and crippled credit markets - show no signs of healing themselves or being healed from on high.

    And yet, the Dow Jones industrial average is just 14 percent below its all-time closing high, an improbable combination.

    The big question - can the economy possibly shake off a deflating debt bubble? - seems to have been answered.

    The Institute for Supply Management's index of the all-important services sector fell abruptly in January to 41.9, from 54.4 in December, indicating that the sector is shrinking outright.

    Private-sector services account for nearly 70 percent of U.S. economic output and have been the engine of growth during the past seven years as manufacturing increasingly moved overseas.

    "That was really a crunching number, a recessionlike number," said Lex Hoogduin, chief economist at the Dutch fund manager Robeco.

    Hoogduin, who takes comfort from data showing an uptick in the manufacturing sector, said the services numbers had prompted him to rate a recession at nearly an even shot, up from about a 30 percent chance before.

    The ABC News/Washington Post Consumer Comfort index has just dropped to its lowest reading since November 1993, capping a monthlong decline that eerily mirrored drops before recessions in 1990 and 2001.

    "They don't ring a bell when a recession starts, but that tinkling sound seems to be getting louder," said Kevin Logan, an economist at Dresdner Kleinwort in New York.

    "Some shift is taking place in January and February that wasn't evident in 2007."

    And it is true that businesses and consumers have suffered through a blizzard of bad news since the year began, with President George W. Bush and others calling for a stimulus plan to rescue the economy, an emergency inter-meeting rate cut by the Federal Reserve and more pain from financial markets.

    Seeing this, it is very likely that consumers and businesses are doing what they classically do in a recession: deferring decisions and consumption. This can combine with what is happening in credit in a dangerously self-reinforcing way.

    An increasing number of American businesses and consumers will be finding credit harder to come by. The great piggy bank called home is definitely tapped out, with declining house prices and banks' unwillingness to extend more credit making further borrowing difficult.

    Look no further for confirmation than the Fed's January senior loan officer survey, which showed less demand for loans and less desire to make them on easy terms, both to consumers and businesses.

    Banks do not want to lend both because do not have the money, having already lent and lost too much, and because they are turning downbeat about overall prospects for the people they lend to.

    Banks, too, are subject to huge evolving risks, not least the crisis among bond insurance companies, that could be causing them to preserve capital even more aggressively.

    So-called monoline bond insurers, which insure structured financings and municipal bonds, are at risk of downgrades from ratings agencies that could touch off yet another round of losses and write-downs by banks.

    In a week of incredible stories, maybe the most amazing was that Fitch Ratings was reviewing 172,326 bond issues after putting on a negative watch the triple-A ratings of one such insurer, MBIA.

    Banks own about $615 billion of structured securities insured by monolines, according to Marc Chandler of Brown Brothers Harriman. A downgrade to double-A would force a write-down of $20 billion to $25 billion, while one to a single-A rating would require $140 billion to $150 billion, according to Chandler.

    Besides hitting credit, this could undermine a stock market that is already looking vulnerable at these levels if we head into recession.

    If American consumers really take a close look at their finances, they may not just defer spending but cut back hard.

    Paul Kasriel of Northern Trust in Chicago points out that from 1929 to 1998 U.S. households had been in deficit in only six years, including two during the Depression and several after World War II when there was finally stuff to buy with money they had been forced to save.


    Looks like trickle down economics and the ignorance of Bushco is finally coming home to roost in the US economy. No more bubbles to inflate and lie about how well everything is, like the reichwing has done since ronnie began his fraud perpetrated on us all.

    Looks like milty fraudman should have just stayed out of things he really didn't understand.

    and looks like the reichwing and CONServatives are gonna spend another 40 years in the wilderness, hope they actually learn something THIS time, because their 1932-1952 time was wasted. (They just tried to over throw FDR with the Smedley plan, help Hitler come to power and some even aided Hitler while the US was at war with him. (a certain worst pResident ever's grand-poppy anyone?)

    I just wonder how they will LIE again and try to blame the Clenis for Greenspan and Bush's incompetence? (Like they ALWAYS tyry to do.)

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  81. It looks like the party is definitely over, especially if this happens;

    OPEC could ditch dollars for euros: chief

    OPEC could switch the pricing of oil from dollars into euros within a decade, secretary general Abdullah al-Badri told a weekly magazine.

    The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries could adopt the euro to combat the decline of the dollar, Badri told the Middle East Economic Digest (MEED), published in London.

    "Maybe we can price the oil in the euro. It can be done, but it will take time," he said.

    Badri told MEED the change could happen within a decade, the magazine said.


    Looks like the Saudis don't like the green toilet paper, Washington prints up and Helicopter Ben wants to throw to every one, either. This will have a double shock effect on the US.

    1. Nobody will have to hold the useless green paper anymore, so quite a bit will get dumped, which means we will no longer be able to go to china and Riyadh to borrow back some of the dollars we gave them for OIL or useless cheap plastic junk.

    2. With pricing in Euros, the Europeans will be safer from price hikes, and have a leg up in international trade because countries would need Euros to buy OIL, and when the dollar slid lower only we would face oil price hikes.

    Wanna bet this move to the Euros especially the Iranian oil bourse, which currently is in it's beginning stages, is connected with the reason somebody keeps cutting Internet cables under the sea near the middle east. (5 so far)

    Oh and BTW say good bye to China and the Saudis loaning the US money for the idiot who wants to be king to play with his army troops in the big sand box. (before ignoring them when they come home, or get wounded)

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  82. Amy Winehouse wins 4 Grammys. She is so gifted.

    Hope she makes it.

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  83. The Army is accustomed to protecting classified information. But when it comes to the planning for the Iraq war, even an unclassified assessment can acquire the status of a state secret.

    After 18 months of research, RAND submitted a report in the summer of 2005 called “Rebuilding Iraq.” RAND researchers provided an unclassified version of the report along with a secret one, hoping that its publication would contribute to the public debate on how to prepare for future conflicts.

    But the study’s wide-ranging critique of the White House, the Defense Department and other government agencies was a concern for Army generals, and the Army has sought to keep the report under lock and key.

    A review of the lengthy report — a draft of which was obtained by The New York Times — shows that it identified problems with nearly every organization that had a role in planning the war. That assessment parallels the verdicts of numerous former officials and independent analysts.

    The study chided President Bush — and by implication Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who served as national security adviser when the war was planned — as having failed to resolve differences among rival agencies. “Throughout the planning process, tensions between the Defense Department and the State Department were never mediated by the president or his staff,” it said.

    The Defense Department led by Donald H. Rumsfeld was given the lead in overseeing the postwar period in Iraq despite its “lack of capacity for civilian reconstruction planning and execution.”

    The State Department led by Colin L. Powell produced a voluminous study on the future of Iraq that identified important issues but was of “uneven quality” and “did not constitute an actionable plan.”

    Gen. Tommy R. Franks, whose Central Command oversaw the military operation in Iraq, had a “fundamental misunderstanding” of what the military needed to do to secure postwar Iraq, the study said.

    The regulations that govern the Army’s relations with the Arroyo Center, the division of RAND that does research for the Army, stipulate that Army officials are to review reports in a timely fashion to ensure that classified information is not released. But the rules also note that the officials are not to “censor” analysis or prevent the dissemination of material critical of the Army.

    The report on rebuilding Iraq was part of a seven-volume series by RAND on the lessons learned from the war. Asked why the report has not been published, Timothy Muchmore, a civilian Army official, said it had ventured too far from issues that directly involve the Army.

    “After carefully reviewing the findings and recommendations of the thorough RAND assessment, the Army determined that the analysts had in some cases taken a broader perspective on the early planning and operational phases of Operation Iraqi Freedom than desired or chartered by the Army,” Mr. Muchmore said in a statement. “Some of the RAND findings and recommendations were determined to be outside the purview of the Army and therefore of limited value in informing Army policies, programs and priorities.”

    Another Bush coverup.

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  84. John R. Koza gets his way, American voters will never again have to wonder about the workings of the Electoral College and why it decides who sits in the White House.

    Koza is behind a push to have states circumvent the odd political math of the Electoral College and ensure that the presidency always goes to the winner of the popular vote.

    Basically, states would promise to award their electoral votes to the candidate with the most support nationwide, regardless of who carries each particular state.

    "We're just coming along and saying, 'Why not add up the votes of all 50 states and award the electoral votes to the 50-state winner?'" said Koza, chairman of National Popular Vote Inc. "I think that the candidate who gets the most votes should win the office."

    The proposal is aimed at preventing a repeat of the 2000 election, when Al Gore got the most votes nationwide but George W. Bush put together enough victories in key states to win a majority in the Electoral College and capture the White House.

    So far, Maryland and New Jersey have signed up for the plan. Legislation that would include Illinois is on the governor's desk. But dozens more states would have to join before the plan could take effect.

    The idea is a long shot. But it appears to be easier than the approach tried previously — amending the Constitution, which takes approval by Congress and then ratification by 38 states.

    The Electoral College was set up to make the final decision on who becomes president. Each state has a certain number of votes in the college based on the size of its congressional delegation.

    Often, all of a state's electoral votes are given to whomever wins that state's popular vote. For instance, even someone who wins New York by a single percentage point, 51-49, would get all 31 of the state's electoral votes.

    This creates some problems.

    One is that candidates can ignore voters in states that aren't competitive. If the Democrat is clearly going to win a state, the Republican has no reason to court its minority of GOP voters there and instead will focus on other states.

    Another problem is the possibility of a result like that in 2000, where one candidate gets more votes overall but the other candidate gets narrow victories in just the right states to eke out a majority in the Electoral College.

    National Popular Vote says its plan would change all that.

    "What's important to the country is that it would make presidential campaigns a 50-state exercise," said Koza, a Stanford University computer science professor.

    Here's how it would work:

    States forge an agreement to change the way they allocate general election votes. The agreement would take effect once it's been approved by states with a majority in the Electoral College, or 270 votes.

    At that point, the states would begin awarding their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, regardless of who carries each state.

    If the candidates tied in the popular vote, each state would give its electoral votes to the candidate who carried that particular state — basically the same system used now.

    There are critics. The downside, they argue, is that a close presidential election would require recounts not just in one or two key states, but throughout the entire country.

    They also say it would further reduce the influence of small states as politicians focus on such places as voter-rich California, New York and Texas.

    "Any way you look at it, I think smaller populations have a greater voice under the current system than they would under a national popular vote system," said North Dakota state Rep. Lawrence Klemin, a Republican who voted against joining his state in National Popular Vote's agreement.

    Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has not decided whether to sign his state's legislation to join the plan, his office said. When he was in Congress, Blagojevich co-sponsored a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College in 2000.

    Legislation endorsing the National Popular Vote plan was passed in California and Hawaii but vetoed by their governors. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said it would run "counter to the tradition of our great nation, which honors states' rights and the unique pride and identity of each state."

    Koza believes the agreement proposal would standardize the way states award their electoral votes, give every voter equal influence and keep candidates from ignoring some states in favor of battleground states like Ohio and Florida.

    He noted that neither presidential candidate visited Illinois in 2004, even though it has a population of about 12.8 million.

    "The Republicans wrote it off and the Democrats took it for granted," Koza said, "and that's typical of two-thirds of the states."

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  85. I posted about the curious shenanigans going ons in Washington State's repug primary;

    We Been Robbed

    Well things are getting quite interesting if you happen to wonder just how crooked the repubies really are;

    WTF?

    As you know, here at TPM we've been really curious what happened up in the Republican caucus in Washington state. For probably the first time in all the primaries and elections I've ever watched, the folks running the election decided to stop counting the votes with 13% of the votes uncounted. And this wasn't a 70-30 blow out, but a tight race where the two top vote getters were separated by less than 2% of the vote. Then this morning, state party chair Luke Esser decided to declare McCain the winner.

    Now, when we were watching this last night and I was trying to examine the tea leaves this morning, I was assuming they'd come forward with some story that there was some hang up with the votes or some mechanical issue. Whether it would be true is another matter. But you'd think you'd at least come up with a good story.

    But state party chair Luke Esser said that he just thought it was the right thing to do. According to Esser, sometime overnight Esser did some sort of back of the envelope statistical analysis of the the margin of McCain's lead (1.8%) and the number votes left uncounted (13%) and decided that Huckabee didn't have a chance and he'd shut the thing down and declare McCain the winner.

    So was that a good idea? Here's Esser's rationale ...

    “Maybe it would have been safer if I hadn't said anything. But it was an exciting and historic day for the state and I thought if I was confident about what the outcome would be I should share that with the people who had gone out to their caucuses.”

    So it was just such a rollicking good time Esser figured he owed the participants a decision as long as he was confident what the outcome would be.

    I'm really not sure I've ever heard anything that ridiculous.

    In terms of consequence, Bush v. Gore it ain't. This is a relatively small contest in a nomination campaign that appears to be over. But this is something you'd expect either from Soviet history or a farcical passage in a Faulkner novel. And let's not forget the context. Huckabee starts the day with a blowout win in Kansas. That evening he gets the largest number of votes in Louisiana. Then in the third contest he's neck and neck with John McCain and looks like he may win all three contests of the day -- a shut-out for the all-but-declared nominee. Then as it's going down to the wire, the head of the state party decides he's seen enough and calls it for McCain.

    Here at TPM, as we watched the rate of the reporting slow to halt on Saturday evening, we joked amongst ourselves that with McCain already getting beaten by Huckabee twice that day maybe the organizers of the election figured that if they just held out long enough people would just forget they'd held a caucus. But as it got later and later we started to wonder if it wasn't a joke.

    I still find it pretty hard to imagine these bozos would try something quite this brazen. And it may well be an electoral tempest in a teapot. But this one looks and quacks like a duck. So someone should give it a much closer look.

    Late Update: It seems that Washington State GOP chair Luke Esser spent most of the day avoiding calls from the Huckabee campaign. And when he finally got back to them he told a lawyer for Huckabee's campaign that they'd probably count the rest of the votes some time next week. When the lawyer, Lauren Huckabee, the candidate's daughter-in-law, requested that a Huckabee lawyer be present when the remaining votes were counted, Esser hung up on her. Before the hang up, Huckabee also asked Esser about the DIY statistical analysis he did to conclude that he should call the race (Esser's expertise in statistics apparently stems from previous work as a state prosectur and a sports writer). Was there an analysis of what precincts the remaining votes came from? According to Huck campaign manager Ed Rollins, Esser admitted that he didn't which precincts the remaining votes came from.

    --Josh Marshall


    Looks like the "powers that be" in the party of criminally organized corruption, pedophile protection and hypocritical family values fraud, have decided McCain is it, and want to shut down the process, so they can anoint McCain.

    Here's a little more from Texas, the home of reichwing fraud from tommy the crook delay;

    Texas Gov. Perry Personally Tells Huckabee to Drop Out

    And of course this from the GOPer clown who lied about his cheating while trying to impeach the Clenis for his cheating;

    Gingrich gives approval to McCain presidential run

    Like St Johnny the delusional needs approval of this discredited political hack;

    Looks like the reichwing is really as afraid of the batsh*t crazy wack-jobs who think the earth is flat and only 6000 years old, people rode dinosaurs and evolution isn't science but creationism in the dishonest robe of intelligent design is.

    Nice to see the gutless chicken hawks showing their true colors.

    What ever it takes to win eh guys? (no matter who you have to cheat or use?)

    Hell the Hucklebee just showed up on CNBC trying to explain his case for counting ALL the votes, why don't the GOPers just tell him to call Al Gore and STFU? (which is sort of what the hacks who are trying to put lipstick on the pig which is the economy, they seem to be saying;

    STFU and go home, like Willard M Romney did after wasting 50 million dollars,

    in between they lines).

    It's funny to hear the Hucklebee screeching the mantra follow the rules?

    Where was this clown in 2000?

    2004 circa the OHIO fraud anyone?

    It is clear the CNBC propagandists want McCain over the Hucklebee. (like the powers that be in the party of criminally organized corruption, pedophile protection and hypocritical family values fraud seem to do) and they just want him to STFU and roll over in this case like John Kerry did about the OHIO fraud in 2004.

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  86. and Ron Paul is more worried about his seat in the congress opig trough, then fighting for change in the USA;

    Ron Paul Will Seek Re-election and Not Make Third Party Run for Prez

    another right wing quack shows his real colors ........... I wonder what the psychotic paulbots think about, his cutting and running, just to save his seat on the congressional gravy train?

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  87. "If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. The loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or imagined, from abroad."

    James Madison

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  88. Larry in your NYT Rand story the last paragraph is very telling;

    A Pentagon official who is familiar with the episode offered a different interpretation: Army officials were concerned that the report would strain relations with a powerful defense secretary and become caught up in the political debate over the war. “The Army leaders who were involved did not want to take the chance of increasing the friction with Secretary Rumsfeld,” said the official, who asked not to be identified because he did not want to alienate senior military officials.

    Translation the army Generals were AFRAID of Rumsfeld so allowed soldiers and marine to be slaughtered because of their cowardliness safe in their pentagon cubicles.

    Typical of the BUSH SUCK-UPS who placed their careers ahead of the troops lives.

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  89. Clif,

    This was all that was reported, but consider the unreported coverups that have cost lives and treasure.

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  90. Great article, Lydia. The longer our nation remains in thrall to the greed, fear, hatred, and inequity brought to us by Bush and the GOP, the more such horrors will increase.

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  91. Yes Bless them all. Sadly everything will get a lot worse. You know it drives me crazy that Bush is always there to say he'll save the day and then does nothing.
    All the victims of natural disasters are still waiting. Minneapolis gave up and is looking for a way to pay to fix their bridge themselves.
    It stinks but nothing gets done unless the people do it themselves. Bush even said when he went to Tennessee that plenty of volunteers would be there to help.
    Without them there'd be nothing. At least people are coming through!

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  92. an average patriot said...
    Yes Bless them all. Sadly everything will get a lot worse. You know it drives me crazy that Bush is always there to say he'll save the day and then does nothing.
    All the victims of natural disasters are still waiting. Minneapolis gave up and is looking for a way to pay to fix their bridge themselves.
    It stinks but nothing gets done unless the people do it themselves. Bush even said when he went to Tennessee that plenty of volunteers would be there to help.
    Without them there'd be nothing. At least people are coming through!"

    Bush ALWAYS says he KNOWS or he UNDERSTANDS that things are bad............but he NEVER says what he is going to do to make things better or acts like he cares.........because he doesnt he TRIES to act like a god ole boy but he is as arrogant an elitist as there can be.

    I was watching old clips of Reagan and it hit me Bush was TRYING to PRETEND to be the next Reagan, he tried to talk like him, act like him, even look like him...........Bush even bought a pig farm as a prop to make himself look like a a rustic Ronald Reagan like cowboy who owns a ranch and clears brush like a regular guy.............to bad he was to gutless to even ride a horse like his idol he was trying to be a mini me of.

    Seriously if you dont believe me watch old clips of Reagan on his ranch and you will laugh at how pathetic GWB is trying to imitate him in every way,

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  93. Sen. Jim Webb thinks legal action against the Bush administration may be needed if the president pursues a long-term military presence in Iraq without Congress' approval.

    "I'm not convinced we don't need to have a lawsuit ready," Webb told the Huffington Post. "This is a classic separation of powers issue. I started to talk to people about this today."

    Haven't we heard this before?

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  94. He's the most prominent Democrat yet to take a side in the presidential election, but two sources close to Al Gore tell us not to expect the former vice president to endorse either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama any time during the primary season.

    The sources say Gore talks with both Clinton and Obama, and is on good terms with both

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  95. Will Joseph Lieberman appear at this year's Republican National Convention? After the week that was, fellow Democrats in Lieberman's home state said they wouldn't put it past the U.S. senator to put in an appearance at the GOP summit in St. Paul, Minn., this summer to reaffirm his support for the presumptive presidential nominee, John McCain.

    He'll probably be the keynote speaker.

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  96. Republican Rep. Ron Paul told the Tribune this morning he will not back Sen. John McCain as his party's nominee unless the Arizona senator "has a lot of change of heart."

    "I can not support anybody with the foreign policy he advocates, you know, perpetual war. That is just so disturbing to me," Paul said.
    "I think it's un-American, un-Constitutional, immoral, and not Republican."


    Finally a wise decision by a Repug.

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  97. Add yet another name to the GOP retirement list. Arizona Rep. John Shadegg (R) is on the verge of announcing that he will not run for re-election, according to Republican sources.

    Shadegg is in his 7th term in the House and is the former chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee. He served briefly as House GOP Policy Chairman and then lost a bid for House Majority Leader in 2006.

    Poor Repugs just can't face getting beat.

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  98. Sen. John McCain, a passionate advocate of limits on campaign finances, is turning down government matching funds for the primary to free him to spend more money as he prepares for a general election contest.

    Never fear the war loving neocons will fund the deranged one.

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  99. With Sens. Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Clinton of New York nearly splitting the delegate count in the race for the Democratic nomination, party leaders have a major dilemma on their hands: a tie ballgame heading into the convention....

    ...CNN political analyst Donna Brazile railed against the scenario. "If 795 of my colleagues decide this election, I will quit the Democratic Party. I feel very strongly about this," Brazile said.

    As should everyone.

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  100. As many as 100,000 independent voters in Los Angeles did not -- and most likely will not -- have their ballots counted in last week's Democratic presidential primary because of an unnecessarily complex system, inadequately trained poll workers and little effort by elections officials to notify voters of the proper procedures, according to news reports and voting-rights activists.

    In a system that seemed tailor made to fail, more than half of the Decline to State voters who cast ballots last week in Los Angeles County have been effectively disenfranchised. Unlike every other county in California, LA County requires unaffiliated voters to fill in an extra bubble on their ballot clarifying whether they plan to vote in the Democratic or American Independent Party primaries. (California's Republican party bars independent voters from casting ballots in its primary.)

    Counting the ballots would not change the outcome in LA County, where Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama by more than 160,000 votes, but that is not the point, say outraged voters who are seething now that they've learned their exercise in democracy was fruitless.

    "I was disenfranchised, and I am furious," wrote independent Steve Katinsky in an e-mail to the Los Angeles Times. "This nonpartisan registered voting disaster makes Florida look like pikers in election screw-ups. To find out my vote did not count was a sudden and unexpected shock and is completely unacceptable."

    Voting rights group the Courage Campaign has started a petition urging LA County registrar Dean Logan to initiate a hand-count of ballots. But elections officials say that may be impossible because the same optical-scan ballot was used for Democratic and American Independent primaries. As the Times explained:

    In the American Independent contest, there were three candidates running, while the Democratic Party had eight. The bubbles for the first three candidates in each party were in the same position on the ballot, making it impossible to tell after the fact if a voter was voting Democratic or American Independent -- unless that person also filled in the bubble indicating party preference.
    In addition to being the only county to require the extra party-identifying step, Los Angeles County is the only one not to print candidates names directly on the ballot, making a re-count virtually impossible.

    "Logically we know that most of these ballots were Democratic, because the number of American Independent Party voters is very small," Secretary of State Debra Bowen told the Times. "But in a democracy we don't guess what the voter's intent was."

    Although he insisted his office "takes the issue of voter enfranchisement very seriously," Logan seemed to blame the problems on the voters in a statement responding to the complaints.

    It is important to note that while hundreds of thousands of voters across the state encountered new voting systems this election, voters in Los Angeles County were fortunate to be able to cast their ballots using InkaVote Plus, which has been in place for several elections. The manner in which cross over voting was presented in Los Angeles County was no different than that of the last three statewide primary elections (2002, 2004 and 2006). The voter instructions provided in the sample ballot booklets, which were mailed to all voters in the County, highlighted the steps to be taken by nonpartisan voters when voting a cross over ballot. Likewise, poll worker training materials and the actual vote recorder page instructions were consistent with past practice. Additionally, this office engaged in extensive voter outreach and education focused on cross over voting.
    That the system was used before also shouldn't provide Logan much comfort or cover. The Sacramento Bee observed in an editorial that only 40 percent of independent voters' ballots were counted in those elections.

    "It is outrageous that the county knew of this massive disenfranchisement and did not make changes," the paper said. "This calls for an investigation."

    The instructions mailed to voters made passing reference to the need to fill in the extra bubble at the bottom of the pagelong document, but poll workers say they were not told of the special instructions before last Tuesday's election, which featured vastly higher turnout than any of the previous elections Logan mentioned because of the intensely contested presidential race.

    "No mention was ever given about the requirement to fill in the dot for either party before choosing a particular candidate," Michael Nola, an LA county poll worker who attended two pre-election training sessions told the Times.

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  101. Mike
    Yes it is a fact. Bush is building on the mess Reagan started and has always invoked Reagan as much as possible.
    Now McCain is painting himself as Reagan and he too is promising to continue this nightmare. We have to unite and get rid of these Reagan wanabe destroyers once and for all or we are in serious trouble!

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  102. Clif, Larry, Lydia, Enigma, Bart, Tomcat, Christopher, Pastriot etc.............I urge you all to PLEASE READ THIS ENTIRE ARTICLE.

    Mike, I have. It's despicable.

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  103. I'm sad to report that both Dodd/Feingold and Whitehouse/Specter failed this morning and the cloture vote succeeded. The FISA bill the Senate will vote on is the Intelligence Committee version with telecom immunity intact. I'll have a list of goose-stepping DINOs up tomorrow.

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  104. NEW THREAD IS UP ON THE SPYING ISSUE

    Thanks TomCat! I just posted it and then read your comment.

    Everyone, Please leave comments on new thread.

    thanks,
    xo

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