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"You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you'll stop the terrorism." - Cindy Sheehan
P I C T U R E   O F  T H E  D A Y
©Pierre-Paul Feyte

Our critics say we have an agenda. Now you can have our agenda, too!

The QFG 2006 Agenda

This leatherbound pocket agenda includes a handy notepad as well as a double-page weekly view of all of the important events you need to remember. Moreover, it's in French, a subtle way to show your disapproval of the Bush Reich.

Planning a trip to Europe next summer to scout out a safe haven for the future? An easy-to-use chart includes distances between major European cities.

The Quantum Future Group 2006 Agenda will be available for a limited time for any donation of 20.06 euros (US$24.00 approximately). Get in on the agenda!

Click here now to support the Quantum Future Group!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The Quantum Future Group

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Comment: Supplies are very limited - once they are gone, they are gone!

January 6, 2005
JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was rushed back to the operating theatre for emergency surgery after doctors detected new bleeding in his brain.

Shlomo Moryussef, director of Jerusalem's Hadassah hospital, said "an area of bleeding" had been discovered when the 77-year-old underwent a brain scan to assess the damage caused by a massive haemorrhage.

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By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem
06 January 2006
Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister, was today undergoing further surgery - fighting for his life as his closest allies began to realise that his political career was over.

He had been under heavy sedation and connected to a respirator after what was officially described as an "extensive" stroke, the second in three weeks, and a massive brain haemorrhage. The fresh surgery followed what doctors said was a "rise in cranial pressure".

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Comment: Yes, it can happen to anyone at any moment including George Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Karl Rove... you, me... everyone. The one thing that is certain about life on this planet is that the instant you are born, you begin to die. None of us is gonna get out of this thing alive and so it behooves us to consider every moment as our last and to do those things that, on looking back after death, we will not regret anything we did or didn't do. But then, psychopaths don't have to worry about that...

by Gilad Atzmon
5 Jan 06
“Laura and I share the concerns of the Israeli people about Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's health, and we are praying for his recovery. Prime Minister Sharon is a man of courage and peace…” George W Bush (US President and man of courage and peace)

“He has surprised, I think, everyone with the courage and statesmanship he has shown in recent years to work towards a long term peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.” Jack Straw (UK Foreign Affairs Minister and man of courage and statesmanship)

A man of peace is dying. Let us all pray for his quick recovery. A man that was just about to rejuvenate the Israeli political world, redeem for us all the Zionist state and its racist agenda. The great man is gravely ill. Oh dear Lord, save our messiah, oh dear Lord may you now be able to create a donkey so upright that it can carry his load.

A peaceful man is on his way to meet his Creator. The Lord may ask him, just as he enters the gate of heaven, “Hey Grandpa Arik, why are your hands so red?”

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Sunday February 4, 2001
The Observer
Fifty years ago Ariel Sharon terrorised a Palestinian village. Now he will lead Israel. In Qibya Jason Burke unravels his past

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by Robert Fisk
06 January 2006
Israel's Prime Minister was a ruthless military commander responsible for one of the most shocking war crimes of the 20th century, argues Robert Fisk. President George Bush acclaims Ariel Sharon as 'a man of peace', yet the blood that was shed at Sabra and Chatila remains a stain on the conscience of the Zionist nation. As Sharon lies stricken in his hospital bed, his political career over, how will history judge him?

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With annotations from The Electronic Intifada.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's personal history is intertwined with war crimes and crimes against humanity. Cases such as those of Yugoslavian former president Slobodan Milosevic, the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide, and others, provide compelling precedents for ending the impunity that Ariel Sharon has thus far enjoyed. Sharon should be indicted for the crimes in which he bears responsibility as the first step in a process of accountability that will bring justice to his victims and their families.

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Comment: Too late now. The truly sad thing about the impending death of Ariel Sharon is the fact that he will never be prosecuted.

UK Independent
06 January 2006
As the Prime Minister lies in hospital, the country faces a stark choice about his successor

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By Haaretz Editorial
5 Jan 2006
In an open debate that took place this week in court at the request of James Schlaff, the police offered their reasons for seizing his personal computers and cellular telephones. On the same occasion, a document presented to the court indicated that police have prima facie evidence that brothers Martin and James Schlaff were involved in the transfer of $3 million to the prime minister's family, and that there is evidence showing that the money was paid as a bribe. Had the Schlaff brothers not opposed the seizing of the computers, the debate would not have taken place, and the public would not have been made aware of the information.

There will always be those who argue that the publication of such information on the eve of elections is tendentious. But such an argument is irrelevant vis-a-vis the crux of the matter - namely, the disconcerting suspicion that the prime minister took a bribe.

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By Remi Kanazi
5 Jan 06
While those in the West and Israel naively labeled Sharon a new "man of peace" and fresh corruption charges surfaced, his political career was strong as ever. Sharon was running a one man show going into the March elections with his new Kadima (forward) party. Major polls showed the premier was a shoe-in, but now the question becomes which direction Israel will be headed politically.

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by Charles Sullivan
6 Jan 2006
Like Siamese twins, the United States and Israel are joined at the hip, both physically and philosophically. Collectively, the United States and Israel comprise the most prolific terrorist states on earth. The U.S. provides five billion dollars annually to Israel, which is the largest beneficiary of U.S. foreign aid on earth. Most of that money is used by the Israeli government to purchase high tech weapons, munitions, and other implements of terror and death. We do not help the world’s helpless and poor—we arm Israel. We do it because it is a lucrative business and it furthers our goal of hegemony in the Middle East.

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Associated Press
January 5, 2006
JEEE-zusNORFOLK, Va. - Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson suggested Thursday that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine punishment for "dividing God's land."

"God considers this land to be his," Robertson said on his TV program "The 700 Club." "You read the Bible and he says `This is my land,' and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, `No, this is mine.'"

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6 Jan 06
WASHINGTON - The White House sharply criticized Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson on Friday for suggesting that Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine punishment for "dividing God's land."

"Those comments are wholly inappropriate and offensive and really don't have a place in this or any other debate," presidential spokesman Trent Duffy said as Bush traveled to Chicago for a speech.

Robertson made his comments about
Israel and Sharon on his TV program, "The 700 Club." He said, "God considers this land to be his. You read the Bible and he says `This is my land,' and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, `No, this is mine.'"

Sharon, who ordered Israel's withdrawal from Gaza last year, suffered a severe stroke on Wednesday.

Former CIA analysts
5 Jan 2006
In mid-November, Hillary Clinton visited Israel and, following a meeting with Ariel Sharon, in remarks that presaged the praise being heaped on the now-comatose Sharon, began her campaign for president by praising the Israeli as a "courageous" man who had taken "an incredibly difficult" step by withdrawing from Gaza.

The withdrawal, she claimed with remarkable disregard for reality, was intended as "a means of demonstrating that he is committed to trying to get back into a process" with the Palestinians.

Clinton also stopped for a photo op during her trip, in what constituted an equally monumental lie. She stood on a hilltop inside the Israeli settlement of Gilo, an illegal subdivision populated by 28,000 Israelis on the southern edge of Jerusalem overlooking Bethlehem. Gilo is in occupied Palestinian territory. It was built three decades ago, illegally according to international law, on approximately 700 acres of land confiscated from Palestinian ownership. It is just inside the expanded municipal limits of Jerusalem -- boundaries that Israel redrew when it captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967, then expropriated 25 square miles of Palestinian West Bank territory and annexed it, also illegally according to international law, to Israeli West Jerusalem.

Clinton stood on this spot and, striking an elaborate pose, gazing pensively off to the side, had her photo taken with the 26-foot-high concrete monstrosity that is Israel's separation wall in the near distance behind her.

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Friday January 06th 2006, 8:53 am
As usual, the corporate media is ignoring the larger picture, this time in regard to the criminal Jack Abramoff. Sure, Abramoff is a political sleazoid who “defrauded his Indian tribal clients of millions of dollars and used improper influence on members of Congress,” as the Washington Post explains. “Tribes represented by the lobbyist contributed millions of dollars in casino income to congressional campaigns,” including the Bush administration and the poster child of the Republican party, Tom DeLay, aka The Hammer. But, as the blogger Juan Cole, professor of History at the University of Michigan, tells it Abramoff represents something far more sinister and threatening: he is a “super-Zionist,” according to Mike Issikoff of Newsweek, and not only did he spread his illicitly gained money around the halls of Washington, but the illegally occupied territories of the West Bank as well.

“Abramoff’s dense network of illicit finances and phony charities might end some political careers in the United States,” writes Cole. “But the investigation into his activities by the FBI also shed light on the ways in which rightwing American Jews have often been involved in funding what are essentially terrorist activities by armed land thieves in Palestinian territory…. Indeed, it was this terror funding of Israeli far right militiamen that tripped Abramoff up, since the FBI discovered that he had misled Indian tribes into giving money to the Jabotinskyites, and then began wondering if he had defrauded the tribes in other ways.” In other words, as Cole points out, the “Super Zionist” Abramoff scammed a long ago “dispossessed indigenous people” to fund the current dispossession of another people.

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Wall Street Journal
5 Jan 2006
Excerpted from today's Wall Street Journal:

Making the bribery case especially striking -- and worrisome for members of Congress -- is that some of its elements include transactions that occur in Washington every day. It is commonplace for lawmakers to solicit campaign donations from lobbyists, who routinely offer them in hopes of gaining advantage. Yet Mr. Abramoff also went far beyond routine practice by furnishing lawmakers with lavish trips, free meals and entertainment as well.

It remains unclear which lawmakers prosecutors are looking at, and also how persuasive Mr. Abramoff could be in helping to make potential cases against any of them stick. A onetime chairman of College Republicans -- a close ally of such party luminaries as Tom DeLay, Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist -- Mr. Abramoff says he has information that could implicate 60 lawmakers.

"The case is significant and the corruption scheme with Mr. Abramoff is very extensive," said Alice Fisher, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's criminal division, at a news conference. She said prosecutors "will continue to follow it wherever it leads."

By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
January 6, 2006
The Texas prosecutor who secured an indictment of Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) on money-laundering charges broadened the scope of his inquiry into election spending yesterday, demanding documents related to funds that passed through a nonprofit organization, the U.S. Family Network.

The group, which was founded in 1996 by DeLay's then-chief of staff, Edwin A. Buckham, received $500,000 in 1999 from the National Republican Congressional Committee and used some of the money to finance radio ads attacking Democrats. The Federal Election Commission fined the party in 2004 for its role in the funding.

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By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
05 January 2006
"It is not our job to seek peaceful coexistence with the Left. Our job is to remove them from power permanently."

- Jack A. Abramoff

All of official Washington is at this moment waiting with bated breath for the avalanche. Jack Abramoff, the disgraced super-lobbyist, has made a plea agreement in the massive prosecution against him and his cronies. Every talking head who has spoken on the subject has stated bluntly that the fallout from this plea deal will almost certainly result in the largest scandal to hit the capital in decades.

The questions, of course, are straightforward: Who is involved? Who took money from this guy? Who is on his pad? Most significantly, who did Abramoff name when he decided to sing to the prosecutors?

Republicans, nervous about the bad noise to come, have attempted to paint this as an equal-opportunity crime. To wit, the Democrats are into Abramoff as deeply as the GOP. The facts, however, do not bear this out. According to campaign donation information gathered by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, the following officeholders and candidates have received political donations from Abramoff since 2000:

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By Tom Engelhardt
4 Jan 06
As 2006 begins, we seem to be at a not-completely-unfamiliar crossroads in the long history of the American imperial presidency.

It grew up, shedding presidential constraints, in the post-World War II years as part of the rise of the national security state and the military-industrial complex.

It reached its constraint-less apogee with Richard Nixon's presidency and what became known as the Watergate scandal -- an event marked by Nixon's attempt to create his own private national security apparatus which he directed to secretly commit various high crimes and misdemeanors for him.

It was as close as we came -- until now -- to a presidential coup d'etat that might functionally have abrogated the Constitution.

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Comment: "When the President starts lying he begins to need evidence to back up his lies because in this democracy he is questioned on his statements. It then percolates down through the bureaucracy that you are helping the Boss if you come up with evidence that is supportive of our public position and you are distinctly unhelpful if you : commit to paper statements that might leak to the wrong people.

"The effect of that is to poison the flow of information to the President himself and to create a situation where a President can be almost, to use a metaphor, psychotically divorced from the realities in which he is acting...." Daniel Ellsburg to the US Senate on Foreign Relations, May
13, 1970

January 5, 2006
Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and 22 other House members sent a letter to President Bush today requesting that he provide a range of information concerning the controversial warrantless surveillance program by the NSA, RAW STORY has learned.

In light of recent disclosures by NBC that CNN Reporter Christiane Amanpour's telephone calls may have been intercepted by the Bush Administration -- a fact caught by AmericaBLOG's John Aravosis. The Democrats asked for information regarding whether any reporters or other members of the media have had phone calls intercepted under the NSA program.

The congressmembers also asked the President to propose statutory language that would specifically authorize the program so that it could be considered as part of a possible extension of the USA PATRIOT Act scheduled to sunset Feb. 3.

The text of the letter follows:

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NY Times
January 6, 2006
WASHINGTON - In a sign of growing partisan division over domestic eavesdropping, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday defended the Bush administration's limited briefings for Congress on the secret program and accused the committee's top Democrat of changing her position on the issue.

Also Thursday, 27 House Democrats sent a letter to President Bush asking for information about the National Security Agency eavesdropping program, including whether communications from or to members of Congress and journalists were intercepted.

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The Boston Phoenix
6 Jan 06
Fearful that his presidency could be swept into the same historical dustbin as Richard Nixon’s, an unrepentant President George W. Bush seems intent on prosecuting the sources who leaked to the New York Times the details of his administration’s warrantless domestic spying. But does Bush have the chutzpah to go after the Times itself?

A variety of federal statutes, from the Espionage Act on down, give Bush ample means to prosecute the Times reporters who got the scoop, James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, as well as the staff editors who facilitated publication. Even Executive Editor Bill Keller and Publisher Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger Jr., could become targets — a startling possibility, just the threat of which would serve as a deterrent to the entire Fourth Estate.

Legal means are one thing, but political will is another. If Bush goes after the Times, he could spark a conflagration potentially more destructive to a free press — or to his administration — than Nixon’s 1971 Pentagon Papers machinations, which included efforts to stop publication of the classified study of the Vietnam War, the aborted prosecution of leaker Daniel Ellsberg, and the intention to prosecute newspapers (and their employees) that ran the document. All backfired on Nixon.

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By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
06 January 2006
He may have heard few home truths, and changed few minds. But at least George Bush can now claim to be hearing other points of view on his unpopular policy on Iraq.

In a remarkable White House occasion, a president frequently accused of being surrounded by a coterie of advisers who tell him only what he wants to hear, summoned to the Roosevelt Room more than a dozen former secretaries of state and defence, Republicans and Democrats, to ask their advice.

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By Manuel Valenzuela
5 Jan 06
Festering in our midst like a toxic cloud of pollution the army of good Americans exists, living and working among us, inhabiting our neighborhoods and cities, co-existing peacefully with us, though perceiving an utterly different conception of reality than the rest of us.

Their numbers, though dwindling more every day with the almost weekly revelations of corporatist lies built upon corporatist lies and government deceptions meshed with corporate criminality, remain high, thanks to those unable to escape the clouds of 9/11 and the manipulative propaganda of the corporatist media.

The Kool-Aid drinking brigades remain strong, still ardent supporters of frivolous, fictitious and diminishing deceptions, still hypnotized to the dim-witted, slurred speech of their great Commander in Chief, still spewing the talking points they hear emanating from the corporatist media and still clinging to the ingrained and unenlightened selfishness that permeates their existence.

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Associated Press
Thu Jan 5, 11:05 PM ET
WASHINGTON - President Bush's decision to bypass the Senate in filling posts at the State Department, Federal Election Commission and National Labor Relations Board drew protests Thursday from lawmakers and advocacy groups.

Under the Constitution, the president may avoid the Senate confirmation process and make appointments while the chamber is in recess. Such appointments usually are short-term, expiring at the end of next congressional session.

But because the Senate held a pro forma session Tuesday and then adjourned, the White House contends the second session of the 109th Congress has begun. Therefore, the White House believes Bush's nearly 20 recess appointments are valid until the following session, which won't conclude until the end of 2007.

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by John in DC
FURTHER UPDATE: NBC has now deleted the paragraphs of the interview dealing with Amanpour. Very very interesting.

UPDATE: Read our follow-on to this story here.

From NBC News:

New York Times reporter James Risen first broke the story two weeks ago that the National Security Agency began spying on domestic communications soon after 9/11. In a new book out Tuesday, "State of War," he says it was a lot bigger than that. Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell sat down with Risen to talk about the NSA, and the run-up to the war in Iraq....

Mitchell: Do you have any information about reporters being swept up in this net?

Risen: No, I don't. It's not clear to me. That's one of the questions we'll have to look into the future. Were there abuses of this program or not? I don't know the answer to that

Mitchell: You don't have any information, for instance, that a very prominent journalist, Christiane Amanpour, might have been eavesdropped upon?

Risen: No, no I hadn't heard that.

By Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writer
5 Jan 2006
The members of a secret federal court that oversees government surveillance in espionage and terrorism cases are scheduled to receive a classified briefing Monday from top Justice Department and intelligence officials about a controversial warrantless-eavesdropping program, according to sources familiar with the arrangements.

Several judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court said they want to hear directly from administration officials why President Bush believed he had the authority to order, without the court's permission, wiretapping of some phone calls and e-mails after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Of serious concern to several judges is whether any information gleaned from intercepts by the National Security Agency was later used to gain their permission for wiretaps without the source being disclosed.

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Scott Shane
New York Times
January 5, 2006
Washington -- The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said Wednesday that the limited congressional briefings the Bush administration has provided on a National Security Agency eavesdropping program violated the law.

In a letter to President Bush, the representative, Jane Harman of Rancho Palos Verdes (Los Angeles County), said the briefings did not comply with the National Security Act of 1947. That law requires the House and Senate Intelligence Committees to be "kept fully and currently informed" about the spy agencies' activities.

The briefings on the program under which Americans and other people in the United States are selected for eavesdropping without court warrants were limited to the so-called Gang of Eight.

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It all started with Prescott Bush, George W. Bush's grandfather. In 1918 it is said that he robbed the grave and stole the skull of the Native American warrior Geronimo as part of an initiation into Yale's Skull and Bones Society. The Skull and Bones society has long been important to the Bush Family. George Bush Sr. and George W. Bush were also members of this secret society.

Prescott Bush had a bit of trouble back in the 1940s. While American soldiers were fighting the Nazis in WWII, a few of the companies Prescott managed were seized under the Trading with the Enemy Act because they were fronts for Nazi Industrialist Fritz Thyssen, a financier of Hitler's Third Reich.
Click link above to view photo album.

by Mick Youther
6 Jan 2006
“The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter--it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” --Mark Twain, 1888

As a writer, I am constantly searching for the “right word” to express what I want to say. For almost three years, I’ve been looking for the right word to describe the Presidency of George W. Bush.

I should mention that any time I refer to something Bush has said or done, I am actually referring to the carefully orchestrated appearance of reality that we know as George W. Bush. This illusion is the product of an elite team of pollsters, propagandists, and media manipulators. There would be no George W. Bush, as we know him, without the people that make his decisions, write his speeches, teach him his sound bites, and point him toward the podium.

There are a lot of words that could be used to describe the Bush Presidency, but I wanted to find that one perfect word that best expresses its essence. This is how I found the right word.

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By John Pilger
5 Jan 06
On Christmas Eve, I dropped in on Brian Haw, whose hunched, pacing figure was just visible through the freezing fog. For four and a half years, Brian has camped in Parliament Square with a graphic display of photographs that show the terror and suffering imposed on Iraqi children by British policies. The effectiveness of his action was demonstrated last April when the Blair government banned any expression of opposition within a kilometre of Parliament. The High Court subsequently ruled that, because his presence preceded the ban, Brian was an exception.

Day after day, night after night, season upon season, he remains a beacon, illuminating the great crime of Iraq and the cowardice of the House of Commons. As we talked, two women brought him a Christmas meal and mulled wine. They thanked him, shook his hand and hurried on. He had never seen them before. "That's typical of the public," he said. A man in a pin-striped suit and tie emerged from the fog, carrying a small wreath. ""I intend to place this at the Cenotaph and read out the names of the dead in Iraq," he said to Brian, who cautioned him: "You'll spend the night in cells, mate." We watched him stride off and lay his wreath. His head bowed, he appeared to be whispering. Thirty years ago, I watched dissidents do something similar outside the walls of the Kremlin.

As night had covered him, he was lucky. On 7 December, Maya Evans, a vegan chef aged 25, was convicted of breaching the new Serious Organised Crime and Police Act by reading aloud at the Cenotaph the names of 97 British soldiers killed in Iraq. So serious was her crime that it required 14 policemen in two vans to arrest her. She was fined and given a criminal record for the rest of her life.

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Publisher, Capitol Hill Blue
Jan 6, 2006,
The ever-widening Jack Abramoff scandal gives Americans a glimpse of just how the money game is played in politics but influence peddling goes far beyond one disgraced lobbyist.

Money, someone once said, is the mother’s milk of politics and our elected officials have been sucking on the tits of political motherhood for a long, long time.

I know. I was one of those who bought and sold politicians.

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Jan 6, 2006
What's the big idea? Don't ask me. At least in this column, there is none.

Republicans at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue last year tied their own shoelaces together while tackling big ideas. Despite President Bush's valiant efforts, his attempt to modernize Social Security stalled amid Democratic intransigence and GOP cowardice. Meanwhile, greater presidential boldness might have yielded a dramatic reform of the Tax Code. Instead, a blue-ribbon panel offered an uninspiring mish-mash that quickly lulled the nation to sleep. And in Congress, wholesale attempts to reign in runaway spending floundered as the Republican appetite for pork proved strong enough to light a thousand barbecue pits.

While America still needs personal retirement accounts, a low-rate flat tax, and massive reductions in federal outlays, perhaps Republicans this year should pass measures that would be slight in size but significant in restoring the party's shattered image as the purveyors of limited government and free markets.

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Friday January 6, 4:23 PM
Treasury Secretary John Snow denied that China has the United States in an economic stranglehold but renewed demands for greater currency flexibility from Beijing.

Addressing a call-in show on the C-SPAN television network, Snow was asked whether China's heavy holdings of US government bonds left Washington vulnerable if Beijing were to flex its military or diplomatic muscles.

"No, I don't think so, and I don't think that's the way it would play out," the Treasury chief said.

"Remember, people who own US securities have an interest in seeing that paper, whether it's equities or debt paper, sustain its value," he said.

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Comment: It's funny that Snow believes the US is "on the right course", especially considering the following article:

By Geoff Dyer in Shanghai and Andrew Balls in Washington
Financial Times
January 6 2006 02:43
China indicated on Thursday it could begin to diversify its rapidly growing foreign exchange reserves away from the US dollar and government bonds – a potential shift with significant implications for global financial and commodity markets.

Economists estimate that more that 70 per cent of the reserves are invested in US dollar assets, which has helped to sustain the recent large US deficits. If China were to stop acquiring such a large proportion of dollars with its reserves – currently accumulating at about $15bn (€12.4bn) a month – it could put heavy downward pressure on the greenback.

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Comment: In this article, we see that the economic picture is nowhere near as rosy as Snow claims. The Bush government has been telling us that there's nothing wrong with the US economy for years now, even though countless analysts and investors - including Warren Buffett and Bill Gates - have bailed on the dollar. Suffice it to say that at this point, joining the Bush gang in their wishful thinking is not the wisest course of action when it comes to the future of the US economy...

By Glenn Somerville
Friday January 6, 10:20 PM
WASHINGTON - U.S. employers added a smaller-than-expected 108,000 new jobs in December but that followed a much stronger wave of hiring than previously thought in November when rebuilding after hurricanes was getting under way, a government report on Friday showed.

In its monthly report on employment, the Labor Department said the unemployment rate fell in December to 4.9 percent from 5 percent in November.

The December new-jobs total was well below Wall Street forecasts for 200,000 jobs. But it came after an upwardly revised 305,000 new jobs in November -- the strongest hiring month since April 2004 -- instead of 215,000 that the department reported a month ago.

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Campaign for America's Future
JANUARY 5, 2006
WASHINGTON - An analysis released today by the Institute for America's Future finds that retail behemoth Wal-Mart Inc. sucked more than $20 billion out of local economies across America this holiday season.

Despite slower-than-projected revenue growth for November and December, Wal-Mart still brought in a record $66 billion for the holiday season - more than five times the revenue of its next- largest competitor. Looking more closely, Wal-Mart's siphoning means a loss of billions in wages and benefits paid, lost purchases of inventory, supplies and services from other local businesses, lost tax revenue to local government and lost contributions to local charities.

"America, as we know it, can't afford Wal-Mart," said Robert Borosage, president of the Institute for America's Future.

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By Adam Tanner
Thu Jan 5, 2006 9:11 PM ET
SACRAMENTO - A year after picking a bitter fight with legislators that he ended up losing at the polls, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled a massive 10-year spending plan on Thursday aimed at winning back Californian support ahead of his November re-election effort.

Addressing legislators in his annual "state of the state" address, the Republican governor proposed $222.6 billion in spending on schools and infrastructure over the next decade that would include a record $68 billion of new debt.

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by James Glaser
5 Jan 2006
But I’m telling you we are not even close to winning Bush’s war in Iraq. We have been in Iraq almost three years, and American troops are still in a lock down. No American trooper can take a stroll down the streets of Baghdad or any other Iraqi city.

George Bush is so afraid of the truth coming out about his war in Iraq, and the position we are in over there, that he has resorted to name-calling of anyone who speaks his mind.

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Fri Jan 6, 1:39 AM ET
MIAMI - US terror suspect Jose Padilla, detained for over three years without charges as an "enemy combatant," appeared in court for the first time after being flown to Miami from a military prison.

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by David Swanson
6 Jan 2006
A town hall forum hosted by Congressman Jim Moran and featuring Congressman Jack Murtha packed a large room in Arlington, Va., Thursday evening, and filled an overflow room, and had to turn away another 500 people. The media was well represented.

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By Mark Benjamin
5 Jan 2006
More U.S. soldiers than ever are sustaining serious brain injuries in Iraq. But a significant number of them are being misdiagnosed, forced to wait for treatment or even being called liars by the Army.

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By Ross Colvin
6 Jan 2006
BAGHDAD - Thursday was one of the bloodiest days for U.S. forces in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, with 11 soldiers dying in a fresh spasm of violence that also killed 130 Iraqis, the U.S. military said on Friday.

Roadside bombs, favored by the insurgents but feared by U.S. soldiers for their devastating effectiveness, accounted for seven of the American deaths.

U.S. commanders have expressed concern in recent months at the growing use of more powerful and sophisticated bombs.

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By Mark Coultan
Sydney Morning Herald Correspondent in New York
January 5, 2006
THE CIA had evidence from 30 Iraqi weapons scientists that Saddam Hussein had abandoned its weapons of mass destruction programs long before the US invaded, an explosive new book on America's spying operations says.

James Risen, national security writer for The New York Times, also says that in 2004 a CIA officer mistakenly sent one of its Iranian agents data that could be used to identify virtually the entire spy network in Iran.

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By Kim Sengupta, Ben Russell and Terri Judd
05 January 2006
MPs and soldiers' families have demanded an explanation from the Government after a U-turn over claims that Iran was complicit in the killing of British soldiers in southern Iraq.

Britain has dropped the charge of Iranian involvement after senior officials had repeatedly accused the Tehran regime of supplying sophisticated explosive devices to insurgents. Government officials now acknowledge that there is no evidence, or even reliable intelligence, connecting the Iranian government to the infra-red triggered bombs which have killed 10 British soldiers in the past eight months.

The twist comes three months after British officials first made strong assertions, widely reported in the media, of an Iranian hand in killing British soldiers. The highly publicised allegations emerged as America was locked in tense confrontation with Iran over its nuclear policy. It led to a major row and the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, warned Tehran of the consequences of continuing interference in Iraq.

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by Paul E. Schroeder
Washington Post
Jan. 3, 2006
Early on Aug. 3, 2005, we heard that 14 Marines had been killed in Haditha, Iraq. Our son, Lance Cpl. Edward "Augie" Schroeder II, was stationed there. At 10:45 a.m. two Marines showed up at our door. After collecting himself for what was clearly painful duty, the lieutenant colonel said, "Your son is a true American hero."

Since then, two reactions to Augie's death have compounded the sadness.

At times like this, people say, "He died a hero." I know this is meant with great sincerity. We appreciate the many condolences we have received and how helpful they have been. But when heard repeatedly, the phrases "he died a hero" or "he died a patriot" or "he died for his country" rub raw.

"People think that if they say that, somehow it makes it okay that he died," our daughter, Amanda, has said. "He was a hero before he died, not just because he went to Iraq. I was proud of him before, and being a patriot doesn't make his death okay. I'm glad he got so much respect at his funeral, but that didn't make it okay either."

The words "hero" and "patriot" focus on the death, not the life. They are a flag-draped mask covering the truth that few want to acknowledge openly: Death in battle is tragic no matter what the reasons for the war. The tragedy is the life that was lost, not the manner of death. Families of dead soldiers on both sides of the battle line know this. Those without family in the war don't appreciate the difference.

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January 5, 2006
The U.S. Occupation of Iraq has entered its fourth calendar year. As criticism of the Iraq War intensifies across the political spectrum, its supporters are deploying new arguments (or repackaged old arguments), in order to defend the war. In December, President Bush delivered a series of speeches to build public support for the Occupation. His speeches were such a failure that they could easily be repackaged and released as a DVD under the title "How to Lose a War in 10 Days."

Yet even some of the Democratic and Republican critics of Bush's policy are not advocating an end to the war, but rather proposing a change in the war's form, or a shift in its focus. Instead of ending the violence, some of their arguments could be used to justify continuing (or even intensifying) violence against Iraqis. Some of the arguments they are making against Bush's Iraq policy can easily be manipulated or twisted by his Administration to prolong the war.

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AP Diplomatic Writer
January 5, 2006
The Bush administration signaled Thursday that time is running out for Iran to avoid being taken before the U.N. Security Council over its disputed nuclear program. Officials also condemned new anti-Israel remarks from Iran's president.

"We are moving into a period of time with Iran where I think we're going to have to, the world is going to have to make some decisions," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said.

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by Michel Chossudovsky
January 3, 2006
The launching of an outright war using nuclear warheads against Iran is now in the final planning stages.

Coalition partners, which include the US, Israel and Turkey are in "an advanced stage of readiness".

Various military exercises have been conducted, starting in early 2005. In turn, the Iranian Armed Forces have also conducted large scale military maneuvers in the Persian Gulf in December in anticipation of a US sponsored attack.

Since early 2005, there has been intense shuttle diplomacy between Washington, Tel Aviv, Ankara and NATO headquarters in Brussels.

In recent developments, CIA Director Porter Goss on a mission to Ankara, requested Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan "to provide political and logistic support for air strikes against Iranian nuclear and military targets." Goss reportedly asked " for special cooperation from Turkish intelligence to help prepare and monitor the operation." (DDP, 30 December 2005).

In turn, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has given the green light to the Israeli Armed Forces to launch the attacks by the end of March:

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Comment: We wonder how Sharon's sudden "departure" from the global stage will affect the War Plans? It strikes us as interesting that his "near death" comes at so crucial a time. Some have theorized that it is not "coincidental," and point to the fact of the breaking scandal that was threatening to envelop Sharon and his cronies. But is it really that simple? We are reminded of the strange shuttle disaster of 2003, just prior to the launching of the War in Iraq. At the time, we had an interesting "chat" with the C's:

Q: One of the first questions we want to ask tonight is about the event of the Space Shuttle that was lost. First, was it an explosion, or was it just disintegration, or breaking up?
A: It was a "direct hit."
Q: A direct hit by what?
A: EM pulse.
Q: (S) What was the source of the EM pulse?
A: 3/4th density Consortium.
Q: Well, I thought Bush was a puppet of the Consortium? (A) Well, we know that the military are scrambling planes to go after UFOs...there are even reports of firing on them and there have been reports of military jets being disintegrated by UFOs. The UFOs are, somehow, in cahoots with the consortium. It seems that Bush and the gang are not in control of the Consortium and maybe they needed to be "reminded?"
A: It is not so much that he needs to be reminded, as he needs to be stimulated to react.
Q: (L) You once before said that Bush knows very little anyway - or that the "White House" level is pretty much in the dark about the plans of the Consortium - even if they are carrying them out. So, you are suggesting that they are being driven by forces of which they are unaware and do not understand?
A: Exactly. Bush is a "reaction machine."
Q: (L) Okay, you say that an EM pulse brought down the shuttle. (A) Where did the EM pulse come from?
A: From space based satellite.
Q: (A) Does NASA know about the cause?
A: There are some who suspect.
Q: (L) Which explains why they are so anxious to convince everyone that it was NOT sabotage. Like Wellstone's death, there was "no question" about it being a terrorist attack. The likelihood is that the Bush Junta was behind Wellstone's death. In both cases they "know" the cause and want to divert the attention away from it. But, in the case of the shuttle, they aren't "dirty," but they most definitely do NOT want anyone to realize that they also are not "in charge." It makes me think of the remark the C's made a few years ago about the reason for the Military Industrial Complex build-up and manipulations. C's said that the REAL enemy is "out there" and that war was just a "cover" to prevent the masses from realizing what they were really doing. Maybe Bush and the gang are really convinced, in their own minds, that they are acting to "protect" humanity from this threat. Meanwhile, they are simply being drivent to fulfill the agenda of the Consortium. And it is so interesting that the shuttle broke up over Palestine, Texas... as though it was saying to Bush: this is what is going to happen to you: Palestine is going to be your destruction. But, of course, Bush would be incapable of perceiving it in that context. Is it so that a message was intended in this event?
A: As always, confusion is the mask.
Q: (L) In other words, everyone's reaction to the event will depend on their own context. There is the view that it was a "message to Bush." Bush and gang will, of course, see it only as a stimulus to faster and more "decisive" military action. So, it will really work on them the way it is wanted. (A) And of course, we wonder how they will make use of this event.
A: The primary effect among the masses will be shock, thus making them less resistant to Bush's policies. Still other groups will see the clear threat to Bush and Co. from their activities. Bush and Co. will, of course, seek to capitalize on the event even while remaining in the dark as to its meaning. But there most certainly is awareness among them that there is a "Maverick" element loose. Bush has even "felt" a bit of primal fear in respect of this event.

5 Jan 06
NEW YORK - A federal judge rejected the U.S. Defense Department's argument for not disclosing the names of detainees at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but stopped short of ordering that the names be released.

Judge Jed S. Rakoff's order on Wednesday was a victory for the Associated Press, which sued the Pentagon in April 2005 seeking the names of detainees and transcripts of hearings held by the U.S. military to determine whether they were properly classified as enemy combatants.

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January 6, 2006
DOGUBEYAZIT, Turkey - Turkey said a third child from the same family had died of bird flu, in a sign that the deadly disease that has already killed scores in Southeast Asia and China has now spread westwards closer to Europe.

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Associated Press
6 Jan 2006
Microsoft Corp. has shut down the Internet journal of a Chinese blogger that discussed politically sensitive issues including a recent strike at a Beijing newspaper.

The action came amid criticism by free-speech activists of foreign technology companies that help the communist government enforce censorship or silence dissent in order to be allowed into China's market.

Microsoft's China-based Web log-hosting service shut down the blog at the Chinese government's request, said Brooke Richardson, group product manager with Microsoft's MSN online division at the company headquarters in Redmond, Washington.

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By Benjamin Kang Lim
6 Jan 2006
BEIJING (Reuters) - A blind activist in China and his family have been placed under house arrest for four months and he was beaten by thugs when he tried to venture out, after exposing forced abortions in his home province on the east coast.

Club-wielding goons believed to be hired by local authorities have been posted outside Chen Guangcheng's one-storey brick home in Dongshigu, a farming village in Shandong province, since September 6 to prevent him, his wife and 71-year-old mother from leaving, Chen said.

"China is lawless," the 34-year-old activist told Reuters by telephone. "They're worried I will expose more of their crimes."

"Do (President) Hu Jintao and (Premier) Wen Jiabao know? If they know, why have they not done anything?" Chen asked.

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Mustafa Barghouti
Issue 771
The on-the-ground reality of Israel's moral bankruptcy in its genocidal policies towards the Palestinians remains as clear as ever...

What is the current situation on the ground in Palestine? The Israeli narrative that continues to dominate the international media presents an image that is absolutely at odds with reality. The Gaza redeployment was spun as the beginning of a peace process; a great retreat by General Ariel Sharon, who was portrayed as a man of peace. Yet the fact remains that Palestine is 27,000 square kilometres, of which the West Bank constitutes only 5,860 square kilometres, and the Gaza Strip, just 360 sq km. This is equal to only 1.3 per cent of the total land of historic Palestine. So even if Sharon really had withdrawn from Gaza, this would amount to just 5.8 per cent of the occupied territories.

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John Carr in Athens
London Times
5 Jan 2006
A photograph purporting to be Britain's top MI6 agent in Greece was published today on the front page of an Athens newspaper, as controversy continues over the alleged role of British agents in the arrest and supposed abuse of a group of Pakistanis living in Athens.

The left-of-centre national daily Eleftherotypia ran a photograph of a middle-aged man running a marathon race, claiming he was both a British embassy diplomat and the head of the supposed clandestine arresting team.

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London Times
6 Jan 2006
Images of a 16-mile (26km) crater on the southeastern surface of Mars, captured by an orbiting spacecraft, have been released by scientists.

The European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter took the photographs of the elliptical impact crater, right, as it passed over the Hesperia Planum region of the planet.

The image was captured in May 2004 using a high-resolution stereo camera, during the spacecraft ’s 368th orbit of the planet. The mission was launched in June 2003.

Scientists said that the crater had probably been caused by a collision with debris. Mars Express was the first European spacecraft to be sent to the planet. Data collected from it is transmitted to a station near Perth, Australia, and sent on to the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006
By Kristoffer Larsson
"I consider Zionism to be a mental illness which makes otherwise decent folks behave like Nazis or Afrikaners"
Jeff Blankfort

After wiping Palestine off the map and expelling over 700,000 Palestinians from their homes, confiscating the land they've lived on for generations, Israel still had a considerable Palestinian minority within its borders. Set to realise the dream of creating a state for Jews only had obviously failed, and Apartheid laws were imposed in order to make the non-Jewish citizens of the Jewish state to leave.

Many leading human rights defenders have correctly referred to the situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as Apartheid. Collective punishment, house demolitions, settlements for Jews only, prices on electricity and water several times higher for Palestinians than Jewish settlers; the Apartheid on the occupied territories is obvious.

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Jan. 06, 2006
The earthquake of 7 magnitude under the Richter scale hit Russia's Chita Region at 04:56 a.m. MSK, the Regional News Service reports.

The village of Kalanguy, Olovyaninsky District of the region, was the earthquake focus, while the local center experienced only two shocks of 4.6 magnitude. The strongest vibration was noted near a hydroelectric power plant. Tenants of high-rise buildings in Severny neighborhood saw their ceiling lamps shaking and things falling from the closets.

There was no major demolition, according to the Emergency Ministry. But the plaster on the walls of a raft of two-storey houses in Nerchinks-town blew out and their main walls might have been damaged, the Regional News Service reported.

Valery Bolotin
Utro (Russian Morning News)
6 Jan 06
The following article is in Russian, in a respected journal (not "The National Enquirer). We are presenting a machine translation with slight editing. Essentially, what it says is; that the Catastroph IS coming, it's unavoidable, and nothing will be "normal" again for 100,000 years. The article says that the data shows that we are on the verge of the same catastrophe that visited Earth 55 million years ago. Europe and North America will be under ice for a very long time.

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NRC Handelsblad - The Netherlands
Translated By Iris Reijnen
December 31, 2005
There are a number of good reasons for Europe to launch a new global navigation system, including the need for a back-up to America's GPS, greater accuracy and increased capability of a new system. But according to this editorial from NRC Handelsblad of The Netherlands, the inescapable fact is that the E.U.'s decision is, 'one more signal that the rest of the world no longer accepts American dominance.'

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By Jamie McGeever
Thu Jan 5, 7:57 PM ET
NEW YORK - Forgetting computer passwords is an everyday source of frustration, but a solution may literally be at hand -- in the form of computer chip implants.

With a wave of his hand, Amal Graafstra, a 29-year-old entrepreneur based in Vancouver, Canada, opens his front door. With another, he logs onto his computer.

Tiny radio frequency identification (RFID) computer chips inserted into Graafstra's hands make it all possible.

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By Dana Milbank
WAshington Post
January 6, 2006
Do not be surprised if, at some point during next week's confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, a trumpet blast is sounded in the hearing room, winged angels descend, and Democrats on the Judiciary Committee turn into pillars of salt.

This undoubtedly would be the wish of the Rev. Rob Schenck, president of the National Clergy Council. He held a news conference outside the Hart Office Building yesterday to announce that he would "consecrate Room 216 Hart" -- the hearing room -- in hopes of having, in the sacred words of Fox News, "a fair and balanced hearing."

Click to Expand Article 2006-01-06 17:39:12
WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 (Xinhuanet) -- The U.S. State Department announced a plan on Thursday to boost teaching and learning "critical need" foreign languages from Kindergarten through university as part of an effort to "further strengthen national security and prosperity in the 21st century."

The plan, "the National Security Language Initiative," would dramatically increase the number of Americans learning "critical need" foreign languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Hindi and Farsi, the department said in a statement.

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Comment: Leave it to the Bush Reich to turn language learning into another means of instilling fear into the US population. The message is, "If you don't learn these languages, we're going to be attacked".

But it is even more sinister than that. The message is: "Don't learn a language in order to go somewhere and learn from the people there. Learn it to go and impose an America-centric world-view on them!" When the US speaks of "conveying respect for other cultures", they are saying: "Tell those Arabs that they should respect our right to run their countries as we see fit. They should respect us!"

by Sheila Samples
6 Jan 2006
Those of us who know Bush is raving mad, destructively impulsive and totally incompetent suspect he was lining up former heavyweights to take the blame when the melt-down comes. The good news is this is Alexander Haig's last chance to be "in charge."

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he Associated Press
January 4, 2006
OKLAHOMA CITY -- A pastor who has spoken out against homosexuality was arrested after propositioning a male undercover police officer outside a hotel, authorities said.

As the Rev. Lonnie Latham, 59, left jail Wednesday, he said "I was set up. I was in the area pastoring to police."

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Jan 6, 2006
Now I'm REALLY depressed.

December's Journal of Health and Social Behavior, published by the American Sociological Association, reported on a study that said being a parent is, well, depressing.

All the stuff you've read about how having a family makes one happier? Forget about it.

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By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
06 January 2006
Several of the 12 trapped miners who died in West Virginia left messages for their families to assure them they were not suffering in their final hours.

A relative said some wrote notes to say they were not in pain. "They said they weren't suffering, they were just going to sleep," said Peggy Cohen, whose father, Fred Ware, was among the dead. She said medical officials told her notes found on several bodies carried similar messages reading, "Your dad didn't suffer".

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By James Moore
5 Jan 2006
There are times in which it is easy to be suspicious. We can get to that feeling fairly quickly if we even pay slight attention. I've been trying to get over this odd emotion for at least a year. I can't find any rationale for letting it go, though I want desperately not to have these thoughts.

This week last year I was preparing for a trip to Ohio to conduct interviews and research for a new book I was writing. My airline tickets had been purchased on line and the morning of departure I went to the Internet to print out my boarding pass. I got a message that said, "Not Allowed." Several subsequent tries failed. Surely, I thought, it's just a glitch within the airline's servers or software.

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Associated Press
Jan 5, 2006
HOUSTON - Edward Allen's reaction to being on the government's "no-fly" list should have been the tip-off that he is no terrorist.

"I don't want to be on the list. I want to fly and see my grandma," the 4-year-old boy said, according to his mother.

Sijollie Allen and her son had trouble boarding planes last month because someone with the same name as Edward is on a government terrorist watch list.

"Is this a joke?" Allen recalled telling Continental Airlines agents Dec. 21 at Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport. "You can tell he's not a terrorist."

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by Andrew Bard Schmookler
6 January 2006
It is often said that artists pick up on the underlying realities of their era, and that in their works one can find manifestations of what's happening in a society below the awareness of people generally. Sometimes the awareness of the artist is at a conscious level, but sometimes also-- according to this way of thinking-- what the artist manifests in his/her work are realities beneath the conscious knowledge not only of the wider society but even of the artist him/herself.

One famous example of this comes from the realm of painting during the later years of the Weimar period in Germany during the late 20s and early 30s. Later critics have believed that visible in many of these paintings are premonitions of the nightmare of destruction soon to descend on that country.

In the late 90s, I was struck by how often the movies of that decade depicted the destruction of major American buildings and cities. (Think, for example of Independence Day, though there were many other instances-- Armegeddon, Deep Impact, etc..) Maybe, I thought at the time, it was just the development of new digital technologies that made it possible to create such arresting images. Or maybe something else was going on.

That striking motif in the films of the 90s came back to my mind in September, 2001, when the whole nation watched --horror-struck, awe-struck, struggling to realize it was not just a movie-- as two of the most famous and substantial buildings in America collapsed into rubble on national TV. Was there some connection, I wondered, between the images in the films of the previous decade, and what had then actually happened in New York?

Another link between the world of film and the deeper movements in American consciousness may be visible today in recent blockbusters.

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4 Jan 2006
On CBS' Late Show with David Letterman, Bill O'Reilly resurrected his false claim that a Wisconsin elementary school banned the singing of the Christmas hymn "Silent Night," erroneously attributing the school's changed lyrics to political correctness. In fact, the new lyrics were merely part of a 1988 Christmas play called The Little Tree's Christmas Gift. Later in the interview, Letterman admonished O'Reilly, asserting, "I have the feeling about 60 percent of what you say is crap."

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