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What the Body Count counts...
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Max Tegmark in SciAm: A 4-level Multiverse, composed of an infinite number of parallel universes... (article)

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"I hope we shall ...crush in it's birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country." - Thomas Jefferson (ref...)
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A Clear Channel to Bush
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Gen. Franks: U.S. Constitution Won't Survive an Attack (...story)
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"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."
- Theodore Roosevelt
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Richard Nixon, referring to the report by the Warren Commission: "it was the greatest hoax that has ever been perpetuated". (...ref)
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"I even take the position that sexual orgies eliminate social tensions and ought to be encouraged... But it is blindingly clear that judges have no greater capacity than the rest of us to decide what is moral." -Supreme Court Justice Scalia at a Harvard gathering.(...ref)
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"The next generation will be the most infertile and the most obese in the history of mankind and it might also have the worst mental health," said Russell Viner, University College, UK. (...source)
Americans are the most obese, at 30%... Americans are getting shorter , and the Dutch, already on average 4 inches taller than Americans, are the tallest in the world.
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USA: Most Nuts, Depressed, Anxious of All
A survey conducted by a Harvard Medical school researcher of 60,000 people in 14 countries found the rates of mental illness highest in the United States (26%); Italy came in at 8%. (article)
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"Every gun that is made, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed." -Eisenhower, 1953
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Lost Africa
Extraordinary photos of African cultures and wildlife by Cyril Christo and Maria Wilkinson. (Click on 'Book Tease' for a slide show, at PhotoEye Books)
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Dorm: Clothing Optional
"There's an exhibitionist part of me. If I feel the need to take off my pants, I take my pants off. It's kind of cool that there is a place you can do that." (NYT ... and here)
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Editor: S. Miller
Iraq election
Election: Higher than expected turnout lifts gloom in Iraq

Reporting from the Reality-Based Autonomous Zone...
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Iraq: The Election and Beyond
An apparently high turnout in the Iraqi vote has buoyed the mood of both the Coalition, and the Iraqi public. Many of these latter may well be thinking that the Coalition occupation is nearing an end. However, the administration seems to expect US troops will be in Iraq, training Iraqi security forces, for the foreseeable future, well after the elections. This is likely yet another delusion, based on the assumption that the only resistance to continued American presence in Iraq will come from the Sunni insurgency, and that a Shia majority government will want US forces to stay and help manage it. The administration seems to have forgotten what happened when Shias, notably Moqtada Al-Sadr's militia, joined the insurgency last year- things got very bad, very fast. The Shias have held off since then, because the planned election would certainly give them a ruling majority of the new government. However, once the election is over, this new government will likely demand the departure of foreign troops, in order to maintain any credibility among Iraqi citizens, who overwhelmingly want to see the end of the occupation. Won't they want us to stay to at least guarantee security? Maybe not... after all, the Shia militias, currently keeping a low profile, could be quickly reactivated to deal with any ongoing Sunni insurgency. Once empowered to govern, Iraqis in general will prefer imposing security with whatever loyal Iraqi forces can be brought to bear- including the Shia militias. And there, of course comes the risk of the much-feared civil war. Meanwhile, a full withdrawal would leave the neo-cons without a military beachhead in the middle east... that is, unless our forces must return to quell that civil war...

1/25/05- Wash Post reports The US Army plans to keep 120,000 troops in Iraq through 2006 (...story)

The pentagon has now as much as admitted that the anti-war arguments against Iraq have all poved true. A little late. Read the report.

We'll be essentially turning Iraq over to Shiia majority rule on January 30. The best we can hope for now is a more or less stable Shiite-dominated Iraqi government. Shiite Iran will inevitably play a big role in Iraq's evolution, and will want to manage this closely, having already fought a long and bloody war with Saddam's Iraq in the 80's. The best thing America could do would be to get on a new track with Iran, aimed at a constructive relationship with an eventually nuclear Iran, neutral at least, if not friendly to the US, and where Iran is a force for stability in the mideast and west asia. Such a triangulation might well afford the West opportunities to advance the situation in the mid-east which are impossible today. There are obstacles, not least the mythic anti-americanism of the still-ruling-though-dwindling Iranian Revolution, but in the long run, Iran is the best bet we have for a major partner for regional stability. Re-opening relations with Iran at this point would be akin to Nixon's opening to China, and it could be as big a key to a flexible pursuit of long term regional stability as the China opening was to the denouement of the Cold War. I'm not sure we can count on that degree of forsight at the present time, but there are no good alternatives, so we may end up there like it or not.

Our previous pieces re Iraq Occupation are still pertinent:
April 2004: Iraq- A Bad Idea Gets Worse ... March 2004: Truth or Consequences ... June 2003: Quicksand ... May 2003: Bait Taken ... April 2003: Hot Potato

"The Administration has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran at least since last summer. Much of the focus is on the accumulation of intelligence and targeting information on Iranian nuclear, chemical, and missile sites, both declared and suspected. The goal is to identify and isolate three dozen, and perhaps more, such targets that could be destroyed by precision strikes and short term commando raids. 'The civilians in the Pentagon want to go into Iran and destroy as much of the military infrastructure as possible...'" (Read Seymour Hersh's piece in the New Yorker)

Rumsfeld - Major Tin Ear
Especially since Rumsfeld's callous replies to the troops in Kuwait, we've heard pundits say a hundred times, 'no-one could have expected the resistance to develop with the techniques that it did...' Hello? No-one? Maybe no-one who had the privelege of the president's well-protected ear, or Rummy's. But the alarums were loud and clear. Besides, how bright does one need to be to guess that occupying heavily-armed Arab Muslim Iraq with thousands of even more heavily armed and very edgy American 20-year olds with orders to shoot, yelling in English, killing families at roadblocks and rousting innocents from their homes at night to send to Abu Gharaib, how much does it take to guess there'd be some kind of resistance, and that the resistance would grow if the "liberation" became an occupation? And in a country littered with abandoned munitions, where full engagement with air-supported US forces would be folly, how long would it take before insurgents began 'improvising' explosive 'devices' from these munitions, and setting them in the road in wait for an American convoy speeding from one insecure location to another. "IEDs" hitting unarmored humvees have produced more than half the US casualtes. What is wrong with our "planners"? Remember these are the same people who after 911 said "no-one had ever imagined" crashing planes into tall buildings... which of course, as it turned out, was utter nonsense.

CIA Purge, Black Ops Reorganization:
"'It's a finesse to give power to Rumsfeld - giving him the right to act swiftly, decisively, and lethally,' the first Pentagon adviser told me. 'It's a global free-fire zone.'" ("The Coming Wars"- What the Pentagon can now do in secret. New Yorker, Seymour Hersh)
Democracy Now Interview with Hersh

The head of the Army Reserve has sent a sharply worded memo to other military leaders expressing "deepening concern" about the continued readiness of his troops, who have been used heavily in Iraq and Afghanistan, and warning that his branch of 200,000 soldiers "is rapidly degenerating into a 'broken' force." (story, Wash.Post)

American Conservative: In "A Time for Leaving", William R. Polk writes:
"... Iraq is a shattered country. Its infrastructure has been pulverized by the "shock and awe" of the American invasion. Few Iraqis today even have clean drinking water or can dispose of their waste. About 7 in 10 adult Iraqis are without employment. Factories are idle, and small shopkeepers have been squeezed out of business. Movement even within cities is difficult and dangerous. And the trend in each of these categories is downward. Iraq's society has been torn apart, and perhaps as many as 100,000 Iraqis have died. Virtually every Iraqi has a parent, child, spouse, cousin, friend, colleague, or neighbor-or perhaps all of these-among the dead. More than half of the dead were women and children. Putting Iraq's casualties in comparative American terms would equate to about one million American deaths. Dreadful hatreds have been generated..." (AmCon 1/17/05)

William R. Polk was a former member of the U.S. State Department's Policy Planning Council responsible for the Middle East. He has been a professor of history at the University of Chicago and Founding Director of its Center for Middle Eastern Studies. He is now senior director of the W.P. Carey Foundation.

A US Army historian concludes "The U.S. military invaded Iraq without a formal plan for occupying and stabilizing the country and this high-level failure continues to undercut what has been a "mediocre" Army effort there..."

Cato Institute: Exiting Iraq: Why the U.S. Must End the Military Occupation and Renew the War against Al Qaeda
(Report of a Special Task Force Sponsored by the Cato Institute.)

Must read: The War Bin Laden Wanted
We have argued since March of 2003 that declaring a "war" on "terror", and then recklessly invading and occupying Iraq was just the sort of reaction AlQaida might have hoped for with their 911 attacks. In "The War Bin Laden Wanted", Paul Schroeder patiently and carefully makes this argument in the current issue of "The American Conservative". -read his analysis here-

President Bush in his inaugural speech announced the US would support freedom and democracy against oppression and tyranny everywhere in the world. Some panic ensued, and even ex-president George Bush Sr. felt obliged to intervene and caution that these remarks were a statement of principle, not a new policy. No wonder- among other implications, if democratic elections were held in the Arab world today, it is likely BinLaden would win everywhere, including nuclear Pakistan, oil-rich Saudi Arabia, client-state Egypt, etc...

"The sad thing is we have created what the administration claimed we were intervening to prevent: an Iraq/al-Qaida linkage" - CIA ( ...story)

The New York Times reports:
"Jan. 6 - An internal investigation by the Central Intelligence Agency has concluded that officials who served at the highest levels of the agency should be held accountable for failing to allocate adequate resources to combating terrorism before the Sept. 11 attacks, according to current and former intelligence officials. ....Among those most sharply criticized in the report, the officials said, are George J. Tenet, the former intelligence chief, and James L. Pavitt, the former deputy director of operations.
"...The findings, which are still classified, pose a quandary for the C.I.A. and the administration, particularly since President Bush awarded a Medal of Freedom to Mr. Tenet last month. It is not clear whether either the agency or the White House has the appetite to reprimand Mr. Tenet, Mr. Pavitt or others..." (NYT- article)

A sacked CIA official is reportedly suing the agency for allegedly retaliating against him for refusing to falsify his reports on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to support the White House's pre-war position. (...story)

Bill Moyers has left PBS' Now. We'll surely miss him. Here is his powerful final statement, on the press and our democracy.

Here is an interesting piece: Empires Prefer a Baby and the Cross to the Adult Jesus by Giles Fraser,The Guardian U.K.

Meanwhile, the dollar ....
The US borrows over 2 billion dollars a day from foreign sources to finance it's "we reserve the right to invade and occupy any country we feel threatened by" military establishment, the most expensive in the world- more in fact, than all the others combined. Under the circumstances, it didn't take long to dawn on the rest of the world that sponsoring such enormous asymmetry of power was no longer in their interests... Best course for them would seem to be gradual disinvestment so as to bring the Goliath back in line with the other nations of the world... and that is what we are seeing now. In the short term, a reduced dollar will reduce the american current accounts deficit, which will seem like a good thing; the value of US debt would also diminish, however this may spur rapid disinvestment, which would be a disaster. America could raise interest rates to attract rate-hungry foreigners to T-Bills again, but this might cause a bankruptcy crisis in America, where people are overloaded in debt. Story ongoing...

red states blue states

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Election Postscript

Divorce would be nice. Blue states could even join the EEC. Red staters could pound their bibles all they want. I wouldn't mind.... Except I'd have to move- I'm a blue in a red state. Seems that some Reds are thinking along similar lines:

" is coordinating the move of thousands of Christians to South Carolina for the express purpose of re-establishing Godly, constitutional government."

The 49% to the world: Sorry Everybody!

Check out the Canadian Alternative

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"In the summer of 2002, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush... The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'" (Ron Suskind, "Without a Doubt" NYT)

An ABC News poll released Sunday found that 61 percent of Americans believe the account of creation in the Bible's book of Genesis is "literally true" rather than a story meant as a "lesson." (...story)

Follow-up: Sibel Edmunds, FBI whistleblower featured in these pages last fall, has been vindicated in a newly released (previously classified) report by the Inspector General of The Justice Department (...story, NYT)

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He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me... it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too." They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?" The old Cherokee simply replied... "The one you feed."

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Republicans spent 47 milion investigating Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinski. The 911 Commission budget was capped at 3 million.

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"There is only one reason that I am in the Oval Office and not in a bar. I found faith. I found God." -George W. Bush (...story)
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"I'm the commander - see, I don't need to explain - I don't need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the President. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation." - George W. Bush, quoted in "Bush at War"

"I'm a war president." - G. W. Bush. Meet the Press 2/13/04

"Nobody wants to be the war president. I want to be the peace president." -G.W. Bush, campaign speech, 7/20/04
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"When I am talking about war I am really talking about peace" -G.W. Bush (Link)
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"You can fool some of the people all the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on." - G.W. Bush at a Washington dinner, March 2001

"It's hard work!" -G.W.Bush (mp3)
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"Am I a malignant genius in the background whom nobody sees come out of his cave? That's a good way to work, in fact." -Dick Cheney to USA Today, 2004
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Wondering where all the money went? Well, there were 587 billionaires on the Forbes list in 2004. In 2003 there were 111. Good year, eh? Warren Buffett made 12.4 billion during the year. That's roughly a half million annual teacher's salaries! (...story)
In fact, these 500 people, who were already mega-rich at the beginning of 2003, added a total of 1.9 trillion dollars to their wealth during the year! (...NYTimes) As if they needed it! 1.9 trillion dollars is 76 million annual teachers salaries!

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hobbitt - ebu gogo
"Hobbitt" discoverer says local tales suggest Ebu Gogo still around...

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"The best hemp and the best tobacco grow on the same kind of soil. The former article is of the first necessity to the wealth and protection of the country. The latter, never useful."
- Thomas Jefferson
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"First came the cheek-to-cheek bussing with Condi Rice. And then -- astoundingly -- the full-bore on the lips smacker of new Secretary of Education-designate Margaret Spelling. You couldn't help but wonder: What was Laura thinking?"
(... story)
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Strange markings on a 19-year-old female carp in a pond in Chongju, Korea (...story)
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