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Why 9/11 Conspiracy Theories Linger November 27, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in In The News, Lifestyle, News and politics, philosophy & politics.
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 Tinfoil Nation: Why 9/11 Conspiracy Theories Linger
A majority of Americans say it is “likely” that their government knew about the September 11 attacks in advance and ignored the warning, a recent poll revealed: more evidence that what were once considered loony fringe theories have penetrated the U.S. mainstream. Richard Miniter examines the roots of the claims and debunks them.

Why does this conspiracy theory linger? Historian Joseph E. Persico argues that it is simply human nature. Persico is an acknowledged expert on the last surprise attack on the American homeland, the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor. He notes that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had some inkling of Japan’s dark designs before the December 7, 1941 attack. Relations between Washington and Tokyo had been souring for years and the U.S. was opposed to Japan’s bloody invasion and occupation of eastern China. So FDR knew that Japan might attack at some point. But there was no intelligence suggesting that Japan would attack at Pearl Harbor or when it would attack or how. Still FDR’s critics and many others continue to suspect that he knew all along and that he allowed Pearl Harbor to happen as a “backdoor to war.”

“Why do conspiracy theories keep sprouting?” Persico asks. “Neat, suspenseful plots create high drama, while the truth is often messy, contradictory, even dull.”

Unfortunately, the same is true today. Bush’s critics are as misguided as FDR’s.

Obama to End the Culture Wars? November 25, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in In The News, News and politics, philosophy & politics, Politics.
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Goodbye to All That

Consevative blogger Andrew Sullivan comes out for Obama with this week’s “Atlantic” magazine’s Cover Story, as the cure for our ongoing, self-destructive 60’s Boomers Culture War.
The Obama candidacy is about ending a war—not so much the war in Iraq, which now has a mo­mentum that will propel the occupation into the next decade—but the war within America that has prevailed since Vietnam and that shows dangerous signs of intensifying, a nonviolent civil war that has crippled America at the very time the world needs it most. It is a war about war—and about culture and about religion and about race. And in that war, Obama—and Obama alone—offers the possibility of a truce.

Sometimes, when the world is changing rapidly, the greater risk is caution. Close-up in this election campaign, Obama is unlikely. From a distance, he is necessary. At a time when America’s estrangement from the world risks tipping into dangerous imbalance, when a country at war with lethal enemies is also increasingly at war with itself, when humankind’s spiritual yearnings veer between an excess of certainty and an inability to believe anything at all, and when sectarian and racial divides seem as intractable as ever, a man who is a bridge between these worlds may be indispensable.

We may in fact have finally found that bridge to the 21st century that Bill Clinton told us about. Its name is Obama.

Where have all the Neocons Gone? October 18, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, News and politics, philosophy & politics.
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Neo Culpa: Politics & Power: vanityfair.com
I interviewed some of the neocons before the invasion and, like many people, found much to admire in their vision of spreading democracy in the Middle East.

I expect to encounter disappointment. What I find instead is despair, and fury at the incompetence of the Bush administration many neocons once saw as their brightest hope.

Mark Foley Revealed October 15, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Lifestyle, News and politics, Politics.
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Mark Foley’s Private Life: Politics & Power: vanityfair.com
Everyone knew Mark Foley was gay. Everyone. And everyone who had a stake in his success—party, press, parents, staff, supporters, and pages—conspired for their own purposes to keep the closet half closed.

Born at the peak of the baby boom, in 1954, he grew up near Palm Beach, in the scrappy little town of Lake Worth, Florida, which in recent years has become a popular refuge for gay retirees. That subculture most likely did not enter into the consciousness of his parents, Irish Catholics from Massachusetts.

And Now For The Good News, from the UN October 9, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Enviroment, Geopolitics, In The News, Lifestyle, News and politics, philosophy & politics, Politics.
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Clear-Eyed Optimists – WSJ.com
In the late 60’s a group of scientists calling themselves the Club of Rome issued a report called “Limits to Growth.” It explained that lifeboat Earth had become so weighed down with humans that we were running out of food, minerals, forests, water, energy and just about everything else that we need for survival. Paul Ehrlich’s best-selling book “The Population Bomb” (1968) gave England a 50-50 chance of surviving into the 21st century. In 1980, Jimmy Carter released the “Global 2000 Report,” which declared that life on Earth was getting worse in every measurable way.

So imagine how shocked I was to learn, officially, that we’re not doomed after all. A new United Nations report called “State of the Future” concludes: “People around the world are becoming healthier, wealthier, better educated, more peaceful, more connected, and they are living longer.”

Yes, of course, there was the obligatory bad news: Global warming is said to be getting worse and income disparities are widening. But the joyous trends in health and wealth documented in the report indicate a gigantic leap forward for humanity. This is probably the first time you’ve heard any of this because — while the grim “Global 2000” and “Limits to Growth” reports were deemed worthy of headlines across the country — the media mostly ignored the good news and the upbeat predictions of “State of the Future.”

But here they are: World-wide illiteracy rates have fallen by half since 1970 and now stand at an all-time low of 18%. More people live in free countries than ever before. The average human being today will live 50% longer in 2025 than one born in 1955. (more…)

And Now For Some Good News June 6, 2006

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And Now For Some Good News

Give a click and read the White House Press Office spin on current events. 

It’ll Be Gore again not Hilary May 16, 2006

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Andrew Sullivan | The Daily Dish: It’ll Be Gore?
…but once Feingold exposes that Hillary has been wrong on so many issues Dems care about (Iraq, civil liberties, Iraq, attacking Bush), she’ll be reduced to normal size for others to take on. Gore can sit back and watch Feingold do the dirty work and get in as Hillary weakens.
Gore’s big advantages: he’s been right on the issues, he retains stature among Democrats, and, surprisingly, he’ll appear fresh from being away so long. Other than SNL last night, when was the last time you saw Gore on TV (and if you didn’t see Gore on SNL see it here) and you will soon see his environmental documentary in the theatres

Blacks see threat from Hispanic illegal aliens May 16, 2006

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Blacks see threat from Hispanic illegal aliens – Metropolitan – insider.washingtontimes.com
“Illegal immigration is the greatest threat to black people since slavery,” Mr. Hayes said. “The civil rights movement was made by black citizens of this country, but [illegal aliens] are claiming civil rights as a key to cross the American border illegally.”

Northwest resident Mae Bruce, 68, said her biggest concerns are illegal aliens’ “flooding” historically black neighborhoods without assimilating and taking advantage of overburdened government resources such as public education and health care.

Spy Agency Mined Vast Data Trove Revealed Last Year May 12, 2006

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Spy Agency Mined Vast Data Trove, Officials Report – New York Times

Maybe because evryone was on Holiday in the USA, that nobody picked up on this December 23rd story, until USA Today splashed it across their front page today.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 23 – The National Security Agency has traced and analyzed large volumes of telephone and Internet communications flowing into and out of the United States as part of the eavesdropping program that President Bush approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to hunt for evidence of terrorist activity, according to current and former government officials.

As part of the program approved by President Bush for domestic surveillance without warrants, the N.S.A. has gained the cooperation of American telecommunications companies to obtain backdoor access to streams of domestic and international communications, the officials said.

Bush’s high spot: a fish May 8, 2006

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Bush's high spot: a fish – World – smh.com.au
It might sound fishy but US President George W Bush says that catching a bass in a lake on his Texas ranch has been the high spot of his five years in office.

Asked by German newspaper Bild to name the "most wonderful moment" of his presidency, Bush said: "I don't know, it's hard to characterise the great moments.

"They've all been busy moments, by the way.

"I would say the best moment was when I caught a seven and half pound (3.4kg) largemouth bass on my lake." (more…)

More Realistic F.E.M.A. Guidelines For Rebuilding In New Orleans May 4, 2006

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also found a web-site with model replicas of the Ark, as per the dimensions in the Bible and other Great Fllod trivia.

Rush Limbaugh’s Booking Blotter April 29, 2006

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Here is the link to the Palm Beach Sherrif’s Office to see the booking. Thanks to Jeff Ullian.
. . Call it vanity, call it good PR, but Palm Beach-based conservative talkmeister Rush Limbaugh seemed very concerned about his mug shot when he was booked at the county jail on a doctor-shopping charge Friday evening. Apparently not wanting anything close to the famous arrest photos of actor Nick Nolte and soul man James Brown, the White House apologist actually asked the deputy whether he could see his photo before leaving the jail. “We put it on the computer screen and showed it to him,” said jail boss Capt. Mark Chamberlain. The porky-again radio host must have liked what he saw; he didn’t ask for a re-shoot. . .

France’s Plan: Pay ‘Em To Go Home April 29, 2006

Posted by tkcollier in In The News, News and politics.
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By Carol Matlack
As demonstrations intensify and legislation stalls in the U.S. over the status of illegal immigrants, France has been taking another tack. It's offering cash payments — the equivalent of about $2,400 per adult and $600 per child — to illegals who agree to return to their native countries. The government began to offer the payments last September but so far has found fewer than 200 takers. Now, law-and-order Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy is urging officials to cut the program's red tape to make participation easier, according to the French daily Le Figaro, which obtained a copy of an Interior Ministry memo sent to local officials. But critics say the payments are too low to entice many of France's estimated 400,000 illegals to say adieu.

Meanwhile, France is getting tougher on those who don't leave voluntarily. Since 2002, the number of illegals expelled annually from the country has doubled, to 20,000 last year. At the same time, Sarkozy is spearheading legislation to make it easier for well-educated, highly skilled immigrants to enter the country. Sarkozy, the front-runner in the 2007 French presidential race, is himself the son of an immigrant. His father fled communist Hungary in 1949 and was granted refugee status in France.

Can You Say, ‘Bienvenidos’? April 12, 2006

Posted by tkcollier in In The News, News and politics.
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Can You Say, 'Bienvenidos'?
Maybe the real fear is more visceral than that. Maybe it's that you don't have to extrapolate immigration and fertility rates very far into the future to see an America in which minorities — Hispanic, African and Asian Americans — are a majority. To put it another way: an America in which whites join the rest of us as just another minority. That's already the case in our two most populous states, California and Texas, according to the Census Bureau, with others including New York, Arizona and Florida likely to follow soon.

Don't freak out, folks. It's not the end of the world. You might ask your black neighbors for advice on how to cope.

Forget Dubai — worry about Smartmatic instead April 6, 2006

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MiamiHerald.com | 03/27/2006 | Forget Dubai — worry about Smartmatic instead
Congress spent two weeks overreacting to news that Dubai Ports World would operate several American ports, including Miami's, but a better target for their hysteria would be the acquisition by Smartmatic International of California-based Sequoia Voting Systems, whose machines serve millions of U.S. voters. That Smartmatic — which has been accused by Venezuela's opposition of helping Chávez rig elections in his favor — now controls a major U.S. e-voting firm should give pause to anybody who thinks that replacing our antiquated butterfly ballots and hanging chads will restore Americans' faith in our electoral process.

Chávez, Seeking Foreign Allies, Spends Billions April 6, 2006

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Chávez, Seeking Foreign Allies, Spends Billions – New York Times
With Venezuela's oil revenues rising 32 percent last year, Mr. Chávez has been subsidizing samba parades in Brazil, eye surgery for poor Mexicans and even heating fuel for poor families from Maine to the Bronx to Philadelphia. By some estimates, the spending now surpasses the nearly $2 billion Washington allocates annually to pay for development programs and the drug war in western South America.

Suppose You Were an Illegal Immigrant in Mexico… April 6, 2006

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Suppose You Were an Illegal Immigrant in Mexico… – by Christopher Chantrill
But just read what Mexico wrote into its 1917 constitution on the matter of foreigners, as told by Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.. He’s reporting on a paper Mexico's Glass House by J. Michael Waller.

In Article 33 of the constitution: "Foreigners may not in any way participate in the political affairs of the country." You mean, like take part in mammoth demonstrations and marches?

In brief, Waller writes:

* Immigrants and foreign visitors are banned from public political discourse.
* Immigrants and foreigners are denied certain basic property rights.
* Immigrants are denied equal employment rights.
* Immigrants and naturalized citizens will never be treated as real Mexican citizens.
* Immigrants and naturalized citizens are not to be trusted in public service.
* Immigrants and naturalized citizens may never become members of the clergy.
* Private citizens may make citizens arrests of lawbreakers (i.e., illegal immigrants) and hand them to the authorities.
* Immigrants may be expelled from Mexico for any reason and without due process.

Hispanic immigrants do the 3D jobs – dirty, dangerous and difficult. April 1, 2006

Posted by tkcollier in In The News, News and politics, philosophy & politics.
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From Tom Barnett's Blog:

Nice piece by David Brooks today on immigration ("Immigrants to Be Proud Of," NYT, 30 March 2006). All sorts of arguments about how Hispanic families tend to be–relatively speaking–paragons of family values.

My arguments tend to be more grubby. Hispanic immigrants do the 3D jobs a lot–as in, dirty, dangerous and difficult. They earn every year upwards of a half trillion in wages. They spend over 90 percent here in the States and sent a mere fraction to families back home, yielding a cash flow that, in Latin America alone, is roughly ten times what America sends the entire Gap annually in Official Developmental Aid.

Tom Friedman Interview on NPR March 31, 2006

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, In The News, News and politics, philosophy & politics.
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Tom Friedman may be best known for his best-seller about globalization "The Earth is Flat", but his 3 Pulitzer Prizes have come from his Middle East Expertise.

The most frightening thing the United States could do to Iran, short of attacking it, is to leave Iraq, says New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. The second most frightening thing for Iran, he says, would be a U.S. success in Iraq.

Listen to this interview with Terry Gross on NPR's "fresh Air".(In Windows Media PLayer)

And if you would like to hear some earlier interviews. 

North Korea Exporting Fake $100 Bills March 28, 2006

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North Korea Might Be Exporting Fake $100 Bills
China’s central bank warned its lenders about an influx of high-quality counterfeit American $100 bills — which the United States alleges are made by North Korea — as the spread of the forgeries moves toward the center of a standoff between Washington and Pyongyang.

Governments around Asia are stepping up surveillance for the bogus currency, which law-enforcement officials have dubbed supernotes because they are so difficult to distinguish from genuine money

U.S. Makes Seized Iraqi Documents Public March 28, 2006

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HoustonChronicle.com – U.S. Makes Seized Iraqi Documents Public
— The federal government is making public a huge trove of documents seized during the invasion of Iraq, posting them on the Internet in a step that is at once a nod to the Web's power and an admission that U.S. intelligence resources are overloaded.
The Web surfers have begun posting translations and comments, digging through the documents with gusto. The idea of the government turning over a massive database to volunteers is revolutionary _ and not only to them.

AP FRIDAY NIGHT CLARIFICATION ON BUSH/KATRINA VIDEO March 4, 2006

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Now that all the hysterical “gotcha” headlines have convinced the public that Bush lied in the oft repeated ABC TV interview about the levee breach, here comes the embarrasing retraction, which will invariably be a footnote in the ongoing news coverage; thus continuing the public’s misperception. Supposedly AP had the tape, of Bush being briefed at his ranch before Katrina hit, in their vault for months and only “found” it just now.
the Associated Press reporter, who narrated the videotape, implies that Mr. Bush lied when he said after the storm that nobody had anticipated “the breach of the levees.” This is supposed to be contradicted by the video footage of a pre-landfall briefing in which the National Hurricane Center told the President of the possibility that “the levees will be topped [emphasis added].” But in fact the New Orleans levee system wasn’t topped; it was breached, just as Mr. Bush said — and there’s a big difference between the two. The levees being topped by the storm surge would have caused damage, but arguably much less severe than what happened after the structural failure that actually occurred.

AP FRIDAY NIGHT CLARIFICATION ON BUSH/KATRINA VIDEO
Fri Mar 03 2006 19:48:29 ET

Clarification: Katrina-Video story
ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON (AP) _ In a March 1 story, The Associated Press reported that federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees in New Orleans, citing confidential video footage of an Aug. 28 briefing among U.S. officials.
The Army Corps of Engineers considers a breach a hole developing in a levee rather than an overrun. The story should have made clear that Bush was warned about floodwaters overrunning the levees, rather than the levees breaking.
The day before the storm hit, Bush was told there were grave concerns that the levees could be overrun. It wasn’t until the next morning, as the storm was hitting, that Michael Brown, then head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Bush had inquired about reports of breaches. Bush did not participate in that briefing.

Here is some background on the levee failures and successes in New Orleans – the distinction between topping and breaching is clear. And a last thought – saying that Bush did not lie about this is different from saying that the Federal response to Katrina was A-OK.  Katrina: What went right

Don’t Fear the Bubble That Bursts March 2, 2006

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Don’t Fear the Bubble That Bursts – New York Times
So there is a good argument that society has a compelling interest in keeping house prices from getting too high. Reasonable prices allow young, middle-class families to buy a house without going into too much debt. They also let people live where they want.

A Port in the Storm Over Dubai March 2, 2006

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A Port in the Storm Over Dubai – New York Times
Since January 2005, every container entering the truck gates of two of the world’s busiest container terminals, in Hong Kong, has passed through scanning and radiation detection devices. Images of the containers’ contents are then stored on computers so that they can be scrutinized by American or other customs authorities almost in real time. Customs inspectors can then issue orders not to load a container that worries them.

So why not take advantage of the sudden interest in Port Security and mandate that such scrutiny be applied to everything coming to America?

The Real Focus for Port Security February 26, 2006

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Stephen E. Flynn, a specialist in maritime security at the Council on Foreign Relations, noted that although the company is state-owned, several members of its top management are Americans — including its general counsel, a senior vice president and its outgoing chief operating officer, Edward H. Bilkey, who is a former U.S. Navy officer. And since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the United States has increasingly depended on such foreign port operators to cooperate in inspecting cargo before it heads for U.S. shores.

“It’s a global network at the end of the day that we’re trying to secure here,” Flynn said. “And that doesn’t happen by the United States owning every bit of it. What we should be focusing on instead is the question, are the security standards adequate?”

Critics voiced strong doubts about whether the existing procedures are commensurate with the threat. “There are not enough Customs and Border Protection inspectors at the nation’s ports to handle the incoming traffic that we have now, and our guys at the ports are being told that they can’t do any overtime,” said Charles Showalter, president of the American Federation of Government Employees union, which represents officers who inspect ships. “That combination often results in uninspected ships being left unattended in port overnight.”

Concerns over insufficient inspectors worry many security experts far more than the issue of who owns the companies managing the terminals.

Flynn cited a litany of unsettling practices, such as the lack of any screening for the thousands of truck drivers, many of whom are immigrants, hauling containers from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., to railway lines.

“What I hope for out of this whole debate is that, as Americans suddenly realize most of our marine terminals are managed by foreign-owned companies, they ask, given that that’s a reality, how do we secure it?” Flynn said. “I also hope this current situation doesn’t lead to a feeding frenzy [against foreign operators], because if we want things to be secure over here, we’re going to have to work with foreign counterparts.”