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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,622

Journal Archives

Obesity rates in Europe, by country:

from Der Spiegel:



U.S. Obesity Trends
National Obesity Trends

About one-third of U.S. adults (33.8%) are obese.
Approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese.


Are Crackpot Liars Being Used to Tie Iran to 9/11?

TruthOut.org / By Gareth Porter

Are Crackpot Liars Being Used to Tie Iran to 9/11?
A court case resulting in a "finding of fact" that Iran assisted al Qaeda is a tapestry of recycled fabrications and distortions of fact from a bizarre cast of characters.

December 29, 2011 |

Behind a mysterious December 22 Associated Press story about "finding of fact" by a District judge in Manhattan Friday that Iran assisted al Qaeda in the planning of the 9/11 attacks is a tapestry of recycled fabrications and distortions of fact from a bizarre cast of characters.

The AP story offers no indication of the nature of the evidence in the case except that former members of the 9/11 Commission and three Iranian defectors provided testimony. What it didn't say was that at least two of the Iranian defectors have long been dismissed by US intelligence as "fabricators" and that the two "expert witnesses" who were supposed to determine the credibility of those defectors' claims are both avowed advocates of crackpot conspiracy theories about Muslims and Shariah law who believe the United States is at war with Islam.

The ostensible purpose of the case brought by families of 9/11 terror attack victims was to win damages from those responsible for 9/11. Dozens of such cases involving different terrorist attacks have been brought to US courts over the years, in which "default judgments" have been made against Iran over various attacks in which Iran was allegedly involved, but there is no chance of getting any money for the families.

The only real effect of the case is to promote right-wing political myths about Iran. One of the peculiarities of such cases is that the witnesses are not subject to cross examination in court. The witnesses have every incentive, therefore to indulge in false testimony, knowing that there will be no one to challenge them. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.alternet.org/world/153602/are_crackpot_liars_being_used_to_tie_iran_to_9_11/

Pushing creationism in Indiana

What's next: Creationists in the classroom
Karen Francisco | The Journal Gazette

After the 2011 session, it's tough to imagine what education issue GOP lawmakers could possibly offer to push Indiana schools further behind. Now we know – creationism in the classroom.

Sen. Dennis Kruse, chairman of the Senate education committee, has filed SB 89, providing that "the governing body of a school corporation may require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science, within the school corporation."

If Indiana didn't attract national attention for approving the most expansive voucher entitlement program in the country last year, this bill will surely do it.

Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, told me that attempts to pass creation science legislation are practically unheard of given the decisive 1987 Supreme Court ruling. By a 7-2 vote, the court ruled that Louisiana's Creationism Act, which allowed the instruction of evolution only if it was taught alongside creationism, was unconstitutional. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20111229/BLOGS13/111229458

Robert Parry: Slip-Sliding to War with Iran

from Consortium News:

Slip-Sliding to War with Iran
December 29, 2011

Exclusive: Having apparently learned nothing from the Iraq disaster, many of the same political/media players are reprising their tough-guy roles in a new drama regarding Iran. These retread performances may make another war, with Iran, hard to avoid, writes Robert Parry

By Robert Parry

With the typical backdrop of alarmist propaganda in place, the stage is now set for a new war, this time with Iran. The slightest miscalculation (or provocation) by the United States, Israel or Iran could touch off a violent scenario that will have devastating consequences.

Indeed, even if they want to, the various sides might have trouble backing down enough to defuse today’s explosive situation. After all, the Iranians continue to insist they have no intention of building a nuclear bomb, as much as Israeli and American officials insist that they are.

So, this prospective war with Iran – like the one in Iraq – is likely to come down to intelligence assessments on Iran’s intentions and capabilities. And, as with Iraq’s alleged WMD, the many loud voices claiming that Iran is on pace to build a nuclear bomb are drowning out the relatively few skeptics who think the evidence is thin to invisible.

For instance, the recent report from the International Atomic Energy Agency about Iran’s supposed progress toward a nuclear bomb was widely accepted as gospel truth without any discussion of whether the IAEA is an unbiased and reliable source. ..........(more)

The complete piece is at: http://consortiumnews.com/2011/12/29/slip-sliding-to-war-with-iran/

Anatomically correct?

War on the War on Drugs

from the Detroit Metro Times:

War on the War on Drugs
After $1 triilion dollars wasted on failed policies, this whole medicinal weed thing really makes sense

By Larry Gabriel
Published: December 28, 2011

When I started writing this column a little more than a year ago, I thought medical marijuana was a thinly veiled cover for folks who wanted to legalize the substance. Not that I opposed the notion, nor did I doubt that marijuana has medical value — I've seen it stop nausea in people who couldn't keep any food down and I've seen people who were wasting away get an appetite. But I saw the overall marijuana drama as something of an amusing middle-class cause that really didn't mean much in the big picture. I also saw an explosion of marijuana-related storefronts around town and thought there was money to be made.

My perspective has changed over the past year. Yes, there are profiteers and people who just want to get high among the medical marijuana fold, but I believe the vast majority of people working in the field are sincere. Even if their ultimate goal is legalization, they see that at least protecting people who are sick and need the medicine is a sincere and effective step.

Even further, I now believe that ending marijuana prohibition has the potential to make so many positive changes in the United States that legalization can't wait. Here's why:

The War on Drugs is lost

The War on Drugs is an utter and farcical failure. It was doomed from the start because it was developed counter to the scientific evidence available at the time and was conceived of as a political tool against President Richard Nixon's enemies. Since it kicked off in 1972, the country has spent $1 trillion on this failed policy, 37 million people have been arrested for drugs (10 million for marijuana) yet more people use drugs than ever before, illegal drugs are readily available in practically every community, most of the violence associated with drugs is due to their illegality, and foreign drug cartels routinely bring illegal drugs across our national borders in amounts that police are incapable of slowing down. When it comes to the War on Drugs we're flushing money down the toilet. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://metrotimes.com/mmj/war-on-the-war-on-drugs-1.1249780

'Blowhard' Jon Gruden is clueless

Gruden needs to get the rules straight
Mike Pereira, FOXSports.com

C’mon man!

I’m talking to ESPN announcer and former coach Jon Gruden, because I need to set the record straight.

I am not a fan of Gruden’s. Not today, not yesterday, not when I worked for the NFL and not when I was working on the field as a side judge. He was a loudmouth as a coach who constantly disrespected officials and he is a blowhard in the broadcast booth who spouts off when he doesn’t know what he is talking about.

I respect his knowledge about the X’s and O’s when it comes to coaching and playing the game of football, but I have very little respect for him when it comes to officiating and his knowledge of the rules. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://xfinity.comcast.net/articles/sports-nfl/20111229/Pereira-ESPN-Jon-Gruden-Failure/

United States as a global power: new world disorder

from The Guardian UK:

United States as a global power: new world disorder
The US is struggling with a paradox: while its military power retains global reach, its role as world leader is gradually ending

guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 28 December 2011

The time has long since past when it became fashionable to talk about a new world order. The collapse of the Soviet Union provided an opportunity to fashion one. But instead of using that opportunity to create a new security architecture in Europe, Nato expanded eastwards as the military anchor for democracy promotion. Not content to have seen off one global military competitor in the Soviet Union, the western military industrial complex and the think-tanks they funded scurried around for a worthy replacement. When 11 September happened, they thought they were in business again. For a brief moment, al-Qaida seemed to fulfil some of the characteristics of communism: it could pop up anywhere in the world; it was an existential enemy, driven ideologically and uncontainable through negotiation; and it was potentially voluminous. Neither the doctrines of the pre-emptive strike, nor attacking a foreign country abroad to ensure security at home, were new. Swap the domino theory of the Vietnam era for the crescent of crisis of the Bush and Obama eras, and you had the same formula for a foe that hopscotched across the globe.

But here's the curious thing. Al-Qaida failed, not by being bombed out of the tribal areas of Pakistan or by losing its video-hugging leader. It failed as an ideological alternative, in its own terms and for its own people. It failed in Egypt, the country that mattered most to its chief thinker, the Egyptian-born doctor Ayman al-Zawahiri. When the opportunity arose for millions of Muslims to shed their brutal Arab yoke (this was supposed to be the fourth phase in the construction of the Caliphate, to be accompanied by physical attacks against oil suppliers and cyber ones on the US economy), nothing of the sort happened. Islam is indeed winning the day, but it is political rather than military. It seeks alliances with the apostate and says it is committed to democratic partnership and the rule of law.


Military overreach and serial economic crises have bequeathed us a generation of small leaders who battle with events that outsize them. They have stopped trying to fashion them, but appeal instead to a defensive desire. Protectionism not internationalism rules the day. The Middle East has been transformed from a zone of allies to one in which Washington has been reduced to the role of spectator. It is now largely a taker of Middle Eastern policy, not one of its makers. There are other parts of the globe where US power projection finds natural allies, such as the Pacific, where China's rise is feared. So the paradox is that while US military power retains global reach (it is working on supersonic cruise missiles, and long-range drones) its stewardship as world leader, as a generator of the next big idea, is gradually ending. There may come a time when international institutions are rebuilt to fill this vacuum. But that time is not yet. Until then, a new world disorder would be nearer the mark. ............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/28/us-global-power-new-world-disorder

Thomas Frank: The Tea Party’s “utopian market populism”

from Salon.com:


Early in the book, you describe the moment in the spring of 2009 when free-market economics had been so thoroughly discredited that Newsweek could run a cover story proclaiming, “We’re all socialists now.” What happened? Why did that moment dissipate?

I saw that cover so many times [at Tea Party events]. For these people, that rang the alarm bell. I think the AIG moment [when the bailed-out insurance behemoth used taxpayer relief to dole out huge bonuses to its executives] was in some ways the high point of the crisis, when [the politics] could have gone either way. There was this amazing public outrage, and that for me was the turning point. Newsweek had another cover, “Thinking Man’s Guide to Populism,” and I remember this feeling around the country, that people were just furious. Somehow the right captured the sense of anger. They completely captured it. You could say they had no right to it, but they did. And one of the reasons they were able to do it was because the liberals were not interested in that anger.

I’m speaking here of the liberal culture in Washington, D.C. There was no Occupy Wall Street movement [at that time] and there was only people like me on the fringes talking about it. The liberals had their leader in Barack Obama … they had their various people in Congress. But these people are completely unfamiliar with populist anger. It’s an alien thing to them. They don’t trust it, and they have trouble speaking to it. I like Barack Obama, but at the end of the day he’s a very professorial kind of guy. The liberals totally missed the opportunity, and the right was able to grab it.

Looking back on it, I feel like people like myself were part of the problem. We sort of assumed with the Democrats in power, the system would correct itself.

One of the problems with liberalism in this country is that it’s headquartered in Washington and its leaders are a very comfortable class of people. Washington is one of the richest cities in the country, maybe the richest. It’s not a place that feels the crisis, that feels the economic downturn. By and large, the real estate market stayed OK. The city continued to boom. The contracts continued to flow. What we’re talking about here is the failure of modern liberalism. At one time it was a movement of working-class people. The idea that liberals wouldn’t feel economic pain was ridiculous. That’s who liberals were. No more. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.salon.com/2011/12/28/the_rise_of_utopian_market_populism/

Why we still can’t talk about slavery

from Salon.com:

Why we still can’t talk about slavery
On a trip through the South, Civil War culture is presented as "authentic." They just leave out the slavery part

By Peter Birkenhead

The menu at the Cabin was long, one of those unwieldy, laminated mega-menus that grace the tables of roadside diners and chalets everywhere, and reflected a classic attention to theme (gumbo burger, gumbo omelet, gumbo). If the menu had been covered in tinfoil, I would’ve had a late-summer tan by the time I reached the dessert page. When our waiter approached, I asked — in what I imagined was a small act of clever, Yankee defiance — if the gumbo was any good.

My friend Gabbie and I had come directly from a tour of a former sugar plantation down the road, in Vacherie, La., called Oak Alley, and I had a crook in my neck. Up until that morning, whenever I heard the word “plantation,” I’d thought “slavery.” When I’d booked the tour, I had done so in the spirit of a visitor to Dachau or Wounded Knee. But the tour itself was given in the spirit of a visit to the home of a tasteful, Southern movie star. Our guide, in a tone equal parts admiring and envious, devoted 90 minutes to the armoires, linens and chamber pots of the home, but almost no time to the people who built, creased and cleaned them. The words “slave” and “slavery” were never mentioned.

“I guess the white people in antebellum drag getting misty about ‘the Golden Age of the South’ might have been our first clue,” Gabbie observed.

We did hear the word “servant” on the tour, two or three times, in the telling of what were meant to be amusing anecdotes about the idiosyncrasies of the servants’ owners. Our guide was dressed in an elaborate, sky-blue ball gown, and chirped about what fun it was for her to “go back in time and live like Scarlett O’Hara for a day.” ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.salon.com/2011/12/27/why_we_still_cant_talk_about_slavery/

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