Ohio tally fit for Ukraine

Voter fraud in the Ukraine? Give me a break.

It has been a month now and we still don't have a clear count of the votes for our own presidential race from the state of Ohio.

For those who may have forgotten, Ohio supposedly assured George W. Bush a second term in the White House - only the most important job on the planet.

The morning after the election, we were told Bush was ahead of John Kerry in that state's unofficial count by 139,000 votes, or 2.5%.

At the time there were 155,000 uncounted provisional ballots and an unknown number of overseas ballots, but Kerry concluded they would not produce enough of a margin to erase his deficit, so he promptly conceded.

At the same time, given the bitter Democratic memories of the 2000 Florida fiasco, he assured his supporters he would fight to have every vote properly counted this time.

Within a few days, other problems began to show up in Ohio's preliminary tally.

We learned, for example, that an additional 93,000 voters had gone to the polls yet machines had registered no preference of theirs for President. Only a manual recount can tell us for sure what happened to those 93,000 ballots.

Then, red-faced election officials in Franklin County admitted a computer error on Election Night had tallied 4,258 votes for Bush in a precinct where only 638 people voted. That correction alone will drop Bush's margin by 3,620.

And now Daily News reporter Larry Cohler-Esses and I have uncovered some more unusual vote totals, this time in black neighborhoods of Cleveland. Those results are from the precinct-by-precinct tallies released by the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, where Cleveland is located.

In the 4th Ward on Cleveland's East Side, for example, two fringe presidential candidates did surprisingly well.

In precinct 4F, located at Benedictine High School on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Kerry received 290 votes, Bush 21 and Michael Peroutka, candidate of the ultra-conservative anti-immigrant Constitutional Party, an amazing 215 votes!

That many black votes for Peroutka is about as likely as all those Jewish votes for Buchanan in Florida's Palm Beach County in 2000.

In precinct 4N, also at Benedictine High School, the tally was Kerry 318, Bush 21, and Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik 163.

Back in 2000, the combined third-party votes in those two precincts - including the Nader vote - was 8. Cuyahoga, like most of Ohio's 88 counties, uses punch-card balloting.

New York Daily News - Politics - Juan Gonzalez: Ohio tally fit for Ukraine

Peace Tree Farm

Peace Tree Farm
Great Blog!

Wal-Mart's China inventory to hit US$18b this year

The world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc, says its inventory of stock produced in China is expected to hit US$18 billion this year, keeping the annual growth rate of over 20 per cent consistent over two years.

The trend is expected to continue, company officials revealed.

"We expect our procurement stock from China to continue to grow at a similar rate in line with Wal-Mart's growth worldwide, if not faster," said Lee Scott, the president and CEO (chief executive officer) of Wal-Mart.

An unnamed company official also stated the firm will extend its procurement base from South China's Pearl River Delta to the North and East China in the coming few year

Wal-Mart's China inventory to hit US$18b this year

Museletter # 149 / August 2004: The Endangered US Dollar

Museletter # 149 / August 2004: The Endangered US Dollar

To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude.

- Thomas Jefferson

For decades the US dollar has served as the world's default currency. The phrase "sound as a dollar" has expressed the faith and confidence of generations, not only of Americans, but people worldwide.

That situation is coming to end, and the consequences will be far-reaching.

On March 9, 1933, at the deepest point of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Orders 6073, 6102, 6111, and 6260,effectively declaring the US bankrupt. On April 5, 1933, Roosevelt declared a National Emergency that made it unlawful for any citizen of the United States to own gold, and ordered all gold coins, gold bullion, and gold certificates turned in to Federal Reserve banks by May 1 under the threat of imprisonment and fines. On June 5, 1933, Congress enacted a joint resolution outlawing all gold clauses in contracts.

Henceforth, for the next forty years, a dual monetary system would prevail which denied gold redeemability to Americans, while retaining it for foreigners.

The Dollar Triumphant

This brings us to the story of the dollar's rise to international prominence.

Prior to World War II the British pound sterling came close to being a globally accepted standard currency, largely as a result of the fact that it was issued by an Empire upon which the sun never set. However, neither the Empire nor the British economy survived the War intact. The US economy, meanwhile, though having been hammered by the Depression, emerged from the Second World War more robust than ever.

A post-War economic and geopolitical regime gradually emerged during the years 1944 to 1948. Postwar geopolitics would consist of a long political Cold War (which was also an economic war between the US and the USSR, itself a major oil producer and goods exporter within its sphere); meanwhile, the non-Soviet-dominated global economy would be shaped in agreements settled upon at international meetings in held Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. The Bretton Woods meetings of 1944 led to the establishment of the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (which later became the World Bank) and the International Monetary Fund. The chief feature of the Bretton Woods system consisted of the obligation for each country to maintain the exchange rate of its currency within a fixed range - plus or minus one percent - in terms of gold. This well suited the United States, which at the time happened to have the largest gold reserves of any nation.

The arrangement worked reasonably for all concerned, as long as America remained the world's foremost energy producer and goods exporter - which permitted it in turn to maintain its gold reserves. The US extended dollar credits by way of the Marshall Plan to finance the rebuilding of post-war Europe, while American oil companies (and the Texas Railroad Commission) maintained stable prices for petroleum globally.

During this period US foreign and domestic policy were characterized by liberalism: at home, economic inequality was at the lowest point in modern American history; while abroad the United States maintained minimal trade barriers between itself and Western Europe, Japan, and South Korea. It could easily afford to absorb exports from these nations in return for their commitment of support for the duration of the Cold War.

The US exercised leadership by consensus - again, because it could easily afford to do so. This consensus evolved through both GATT trade negotiations and geostrategic Bilderberg meetings, in which the main Western powers conspired to effectively control the economies and political destinies of most of the rest of the world's nations.

However, this first relatively benign phase of what Henry Luce called the "American Century" came to an end as a result of the confluence of three factors: the decline of US oil production, spiraling national debt brought on by the Vietnam War, and increasing European and Japanese economic strength.

1973-1999: The Petrodollar Era

The members of the US-dominated consensus, while agreeing to cooperate, still had their own interests at heart, and sought advantages wherever possible. F. William Engdahl, in an essay in Current Concerns titled "Iraq and the Hidden Euro-Dollar Wars", describes the subsequent unraveling

All during the 1960s, France's de Gaulle began to take . . . dollar export earnings and demand gold from the U.S. Federal Reserve, legal under Bretton Woods at that time. By November 1967 the drain of gold from U.S. and Bank of England vaults had become critical. The weak link in the Bretton Woods Gold Exchange arrangement was Britain, the "sick man of Europe." The link broke as Sterling was devalued in 1967.That merely accelerated the pressure on the U.S. dollar, as French and other central banks increased their call for U.S. gold in exchange for their dollar reserves. They calculated that, with the soaring war deficits from Vietnam, it was only a matter of months before the United States itself would be forced to devalue against gold, so better to get their gold out at a high price.

By May 1971 even the Bank of England was demanding gold for dollars, and the drain on US reserves had become intolerable. Nixon did the only thing he could under the circumstances: he abandoned the Gold Exchange program altogether, and in August of that year a system of floating currencies was instituted. Engdahl again:

The break with gold opened the door to an entirely new phase of the American Century. In this new phase, control over monetary policy was, in effect, privatized, with large international banks such as Citibank, Chase Manhattan or Barclays Bank assuming the role that central banks had in a gold system, but entirely without gold. "Market forces" now could determine the dollar. And they did with a vengeance.

In 1973, with the dollar now floating freely, the Arab nations of OPEC embargoed oil exports to the US in retaliation for American support for Israel in the Ramadan/Yom Kippur War. By this time it was clear that US oil production had peaked and was in permanent decline, and that America would become ever more dependent upon petroleum imports. As oil prices soared 400%, the US economy took a nose-dive.

In any case, the oil shock created enormously increased demand for the floating dollar. Oil importing countries, including Germany and Japan, were faced with the problem of how to earn or borrow dollars with which to pay their ballooning fuel bills. Meanwhile, OPEC oil countries were inundated with oil dollars. Many of these oil dollars ended up in accounts in London and New York banks, where a new process - which Henry Kissinger dubbed "recycling petrodollars" - was instituted.

The process worked like this. OPEC countries were receiving billions of dollars they could not immediately use. When American and British banks took these dollars in deposit, they were thereby presented with the opportunity for writing more loans (banks make their profits primarily from loans, but they can only write loans if they have deposits to cover a certain percentage of the loan-usually 10% to 15%, depending on the current fractional reserve requirements issued by the Fed or Bank of England). Since the economies of industrialized nations were in no position to take on much new debt, the banks were faced with a problem: to whom could they loan a boatload of new petrodollar-based money? Kissinger, an advisor to David Rockefeller of Chase Manhattan Bank, suggested the bankers use OPEC dollars as a reserve base upon which to aggressively "sell" bonds or loans, not to US or British corporations and investors, but to Third World countries desperate to borrow dollars with which to pay for oil imports. By the late 1970s these petrodollar debts had laid the basis for the Third World debt crisis of the 1980s (after interest rates exploded). Most of that debt is still in place and is still strangling many of the poorer nations. Hundreds of billions of dollars were recycled in this fashion. (Incidentally, the borrowed money usually found its way back to Western corporations or banks in any event, either by way of contracts with Western construction companies or simple theft on the part of indigenous officials with foreign bank accounts.)

Also during the 1970s and '80s, the Saudis began using their petrodollar surpluses to buy huge inventories of unusable weaponry from US arms manufacturers. This was a hidden subsidy to the US economy, and especially to the so-called Defense Department.

As Engdahl points out, the petrodollar era was characterized by the US attempt to slow its geopolitical decline (arising from imperial over-extension abroad and resource depletion at home) by making the dollar a hegemonic currency The IMF "Washington Consensus" was developed to enforce draconian debt collection on Third World countries, to force them to repay dollar debts, prevent any economic independence from the nations of the South, and keep the U.S. banks and the dollar afloat. The Trilateral Commission was created by David Rockefeller and others in 1973 in order to take account of the recent emergence of Japan as an industrial giant and try to bring Japan into the system. Japan, as a major industrial nation, was a major importer of oil. Japanese trade surpluses from export of cars and other goods were used to buy oil in dollars. The remaining surplus was invested in U.S. Treasury bonds to earn interest. The G-7 was founded to keep Japan and Western Europe inside the U.S. dollar system. From time to time into the 1980s various voices in Japan would call for three currencies - dollar, German mark and yen - to share the world reserve role. It never happened. The dollar remained dominant.

During the petrodollar era, American foreign economic policy and military policy continued to be dominated by the voices of the traditional liberal consensus, which required that the US acted in concert with its allies. But this was about to change.

1999-Present: Hegemonic Decline, Imperial Hubris

As the Cold War ended, Europe was in the process of forging political and economic unity. Today the European Union and the euro - an entirely new pan-European currency - present a subtle but serious threat to continued American monetary hegemony. This challenge has developed slowly over the past 15 years, but its effects are cascading into view. In the US-British invasion and occupation of Iraq we see the dynamics of this new challenge at play, including the American response to it. The Washington neoconservatives have a term for this response: "democratic imperialism."

As Jeremy Rifkin documents in his new book, European Dream: How Europe's Vision of the Future is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream, Europe is ever less a collection of squabbling nations and ever more a cohesive economic superpower -one that exceeds the US in GDP, population, and productivity. Europe shares America's dependency on depleting foreign sources of oil and gas, and will likely be hit hard by the effects of global climate change. Thus, over the long term, Europe's prospects are dim-though no dimmer necessarily than those of any other region.

However, in the short term Europeans will enjoy some advantages over their American counterparts, including much greater energy efficiency (Europeans use energy at one-half the per-capita rate as Americans) and much less debt, resulting partly from much smaller military budgets. Moreover, Europe sits next to Russia, which still has considerable quantities of exportable oil and gas and stockpiles of nuclear and conventional weapons. A Eurasian alliance between Russia, Germany, and France would be a geopolitical nightmare for Washington -and such an alliance is beginning quietly and tentatively to emerge. Europe is also geographically closer to the oil and gas reserves of the Middle East and Central Asia, which are increasingly accessible to it by pipeline (the US must rely on tankers).

The development of this Eurasian challenge comes at a bad time for Washington, which is in no position to offer the kinds of trade concessions it did in earlier decades in order to maintain the G-7 consensus. America's only remaining strong suit is raw military power, and thus its only options are either to decline gracefully from its position as sole superpower, or use its military to enforce global dominance.

Engdahl suggests that the neo-conservatives gained influence in Washington because a majority in the U.S. power establishment finds their views useful to advance a new aggressive U.S. role in the world. Rather than work out areas of agreement with European partners, Washington increasingly sees Euroland as the major strategic threat to American hegemony, especially "Old Europe" of Germany and France. Just as Britain in decline after 1870 resorted to increasingly desperate imperial wars in South Africa and elsewhere, so the United States is using its military might to try to advance what it no longer can by economic means. Here the dollar is the Achilles heel.

To understand why the dollar is America's Achilles heel, a metaphor is useful. Imagine being able to write checks and then convince the people you give them to not to cash them. Perhaps they find the checks themselves comforting to hold onto; or maybe you have a friend who agrees to sell groceries or gasoline for your checks only, and then happily stockpiles and re-circulates them. In either case, you may be tempted to write checks for much more than you have in your bank account. As long as the checks themselves are regarded as valuable and not cashed, you get a free ride. But if people stop finding your checks comforting to hold onto, or if your friend starts selling groceries for other people's checks or for gold or silver, then the game is up. It will be revealed that your account is overdrawn and you will be in trouble.

The metaphor is not perfect. In fact, every nation in the world is attempting to write checks beyond its means. But the US has managed to do by far a better job of it than any other nation. The checks we are not talking about are not just hoarded paper dollars (though there are billions of these stuffed in mattresses around the world) but dollar-denominated investments and securities, including T-bills, stocks, and mortgages. Currently the US is running a $700 billion per year trade deficit, this on top of trillions in government debt and trillions more in consumer debt. No other nation in the world comes remotely close to this level of bad-check writing, on either a total or a per-capita basis.

If a run on the US dollar were to occur, then the only financial solution would be to create even more dollars (presumably through government borrowing), which of course wouldn't actually solve the problem and would in the long run make matters worse. The currency would become almost worthless, and in the process real wealth (land, factories, and natural resources) would be confiscated and turned over to creditors.

What could cause this to happen? A decision by OPEC to openly sell oil for euros could be a trigger. Some oil is already quietly being sold for euros, and several countries including Iran and Saudi Arabia have floated the possibility of valuing oil against a basket of currencies (meaning, effectively, dollars and euros). The Arab OPEC states have also toyed with an idea that must be equally worrisome to Brussels and Washington: to sell oil for gold (the gold dinar). If and when this happens, the full wrath of America will descend upon the Arab Middle East - and that's why it hasn't happened yet.

The other likely trigger would be a collapse of the US economy from within resulting from a bursting of the mortgage bubble. The recent US economic "recovery" arose almost entirely from low mortgage rates (set ultimately by the Fed), which allowed families to refinance their homes, cash out some of their equity, and use the money for immediate consumption. With oil prices soaring, the Fed will eventually have to raise interest rates steeply in order to contain inflation. But this may cause millions of homeowners to default on their currently low-interest adjustable-rate mortgages. In that event, property values would plummet, and with them would go the stock market and the economy as a whole.

If the Fed's real owners are confident in the present Washington leadership, they will do everything in their power to delay the inevitable until after the election (and this is what they seem to be doing). If they think it is time for a regime change, we may see the great unraveling begin even before November.

In either case, the response of US political leaders may be merely to seek foreign scapegoats. As Stan Goff writes in his recent essay, "Persian Peril" (www.fromthewilderness.com), it appears as if Iran is currently being set up as the next domino in the neocons' crusade for democracy in the Middle East. With Iranian and Russian cooperative energy agreements blooming, a US attack on Iran could be the trigger for another all-out conflict on the order of the World Wars of the 20th century. On the other hand, it is possible that the disastrous outcome of the Iraq invasion has sunk deep enough into the awareness of Washington elites that further similar adventures (however desperately sought by the neocons) will be headed off by cooler minds.

Sam Stone, Collateral Damage - Many Veterans are the "Enemy" of the Bush D.E.A.th War

Bitting commentary on war and PTSD in Common Ground Common Sense

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Scrooge: The Real Face of a Republican

Great Insight on Common Ground Common Sense

Great insight!

And a good plan, except that the pitiful Republican will call on Rush & Coulter to tell him what to think and will come back with this gem: "Scrooge was a free market capitalist injustly villified by commie thinking Charles Dickens"

Watching this classic Christmas Story every year has been a tradition for our family for decades. Just last week before Thanksgiving, my wife was bored and put it on for all of us to watch.

I was dumb-founded and chilled to the bone to discover the similarities between our current poltical struggle and the betterment of all mankind around the world. Could it be so simple?

Therefore, I came up with this one & only series of questions that needs to be put forth to every Republican you can find that is not deaf or mute,

1. Do you enjoy the Charles Dickens Classic, 'A Christmas Story'?
2. Do you enjoy the ending of the story?
3. Would you change, in anyway, the ending of the story?

If the answers are:

Yes, Yes, & No then ask,

What part of the story do you not understand?

Their reply, 'What do you mean?'

If you understand most of the story, why on earth are you still a republican?


Yes, No, & Yes

Stake through the heart immediately!!!!!


Fafblog! the whole worlds only source for Fafblog

Fafblog! the whole worlds only source for Fafblog.
Great Blog!

The Poor Man: Poker With Dick Cheney

The Poor Man: Poker With Dick Cheney
Great Blog!

The Poor Man: Poker With Dick Cheney

The Poor Man: Poker With Dick Cheney: "Poker With Dick Cheney

Transcript of The Editors' regular Saturday-night poker game with Dick Cheney, 6/19/04. Start tape at 12:32 AM.

The Editors: We'll take three cards.

Dick Cheney: Give me one.

Sounds of cards being placed down, dealt, retrieved, and rearranged in hand. Non-commital noises, puffing of cigars.

TE: Fifty bucks.

DC: I'm in. Show 'em.

TE: Two pair, sevens and fives.

DC: Not good enough.

TE: What do you have?

DC: Better than that, that's for sure. Pay up.

TE: Can you show us your cards?

DC: Sure. One of them's a six.

TE: You need to show all your cards. That's the way the game is played.

Colin Powell: Ladies and gentlemen. We have accumulated overwhelming evidence that Mr. Cheney's poker hand is far, far better than two pair. Note this satellite photo, taken three minutes ago when The Editors went to get more chips. In it we clearly see the back sides of five playing cards, arranged in a poker hand. Defector reports have assured us that Mr. Cheney's hand was already well advanced at this stage. Later, Mr. Cheney drew only one card. Why only one card? Would a man without a strong hand choose only one card? We are absolutely convinced that Mr. Cheney has at least a full house.

Tim Russert: Wow. Colin Powell really hit a homerun for the Administration right there. A very powerful performance. My dad played a lot of poker in World War 2, and he taught me many things about life. Read my book."

CJR November/December 2004: Blinded by Science

How ‘Balanced’ Coverage Lets the Scientific Fringe Hijack Reality

By Chris Mooney

On May 22, 2003, the Los Angeles Times printed a front-page story by Scott Gold, its respected Houston bureau chief, about the passage of a law in Texas requiring abortion doctors to warn women that the procedure might cause breast cancer. Virtually no mainstream scientist believes that the so-called ABC link actually exists — only anti-abortion activists do. Accordingly, Gold’s article noted right off the bat that the American Cancer Society discounts the “alleged link” and that anti-abortionists have pushed for “so-called counseling” laws only after failing in their attempts to have abortion banned. Gold also reported that the National Cancer Institute had convened “more than a hundred of the world’s experts” to assess the ABC theory, which they rejected. In comparison to these scientists, Gold noted, the author of the Texas counseling bill — who called the ABC issue “still disputed” — had “a professional background in property management.”

Gold’s piece was hard-hitting but accurate. The scientific consensus is quite firm that abortion does not cause breast cancer. If reporters want to take science and its conclusions seriously, their reporting should reflect this reality — no matter what anti-abortionists say.

But what happened next illustrates one reason journalists have such a hard time calling it like they see it on science issues. In an internal memo exposed by the Web site LAobserved.com, the Times’s editor, John Carroll, singled out Gold’s story for harsh criticism, claiming it vindicated critics who accuse the paper of liberal bias. Carroll specifically criticized Gold’s “so-called counseling” line (“a phrase that is loaded with derision”) and his “professional background in property management” quip (“seldom will you read a cheaper shot than this”). “The story makes a strong case that the link between abortion and breast cancer is widely discounted among researchers,” Carroll wrote, “but I wondered as I read it whether somewhere there might exist some credible scientist who believes in it . . . . Apparently the scientific argument for the anti-abortion side is so absurd that we don’t need to waste our readers’ time with it.”

CJR November/December 2004: Blinded by Science:

Congress Trims Money for Science Agency

Congress has cut the budget for the National Science Foundation, an engine for research in science and technology, just two years after endorsing a plan to double the amount given to the agency.

Supporters of scientific research, in government and at universities, noted that the cut came as lawmakers earmarked more money for local projects like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and the Punxsutawney Weather Museum in Pennsylvania.

The New York Times > Washington > Congress Trims Money for Science Agency

Manifold: Time

Manifold: Time

A chilling account on what could happen if people lost hope in the future... And damn good Sci-Fi to boot!

Looked like it'd be a quick read... An Iraqi novel from Fafblog

choose your own adventure

16. Elections are scheduled for Iraq in January, but the security situation is steadily worsening. A coalition of Sunni and secular groups has asked to postpone elections until the security situation can be resolved. Shiite parties, who are overwhelmingly expected to win control of the new government in these elections, insist that elections be held on time.

What do you do?

If you'd like to go ahead with elections, turn to Page 32.
If you'd like to delay elections, turn to Page 34.

'Why I think I'll hold elections now,' says me turnin to page 32.

32. Sunnis hold a mass boycott of the election, ensuring that a vast Shiite majority sweeps into office with no Sunni representation. The Sunni minority declares the election, and the new government, illegitimate. Sunni guerilla groups intensify their attacks on both US and Shiite institutions throughout the country in the first stage of a full-blown civil war.


'Aw man,' says me. 'This endin sucks.'
'Go back an do the other one,' says Giblets.
'Isn't that cheatin?' says me.
'Eh,' says Giblets. 'The book's too dumb to stop you.'
'Alright,' says me. 'I'm gonna delay elections then.'

34. Shiites are enraged at your decision to delay elections and decry it as the ever-tightening hand of an occupying power. Shiite violence erupts, unleashing a reciprocal torrent of Sunni guerilla attacks and increasing anti-American violence, ultimately leading to full-blown civil war.


'This book is stupid!' says me. 'Why do we have it anyway?'

'Looked like it'd be a quick read,' says Giblets."

Fafblog! the whole worlds only source for Fafblog.

Fun - free coffee




Roger Ailes

Roger Ailes
Great Blog!

Don't shoot!....I have another story to tell you.

Don't shoot!....I have another story to tell you.
Great Blog!

Gee..and I thought the Exit Polls were right.. Yahoo! News - Correction: Texas Exit Poll

Yahoo! News - Correction: Texas Exit Poll Glance

n the Nov. 3 BC-ELN--Texas Glance and BC-TX Exit-Poll Excerpts, The Associated Press overstated President Bush (news - web sites)'s support among Texas Hispanics. Under a post-election adjustment by exit poll providers Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International, 49 percent of Hispanics in the state voted for Bush, not a majority. The revised result does not differ to a statistically significant degree from Bush's 43 percent support among Texas Hispanics in a 2000 exit poll

The revised BC-TX-Exit-Poll Excerpts showed that 20 percent, not 23 percent, of all Texas voters were Hispanic. They voted 50 percent for Kerry and 49 percent for Bush, not 41-59 Kerry-Bush.

Sam Stone, John Prine

Sam Stone, John Prine: "Sam Stone came home to his wife and family,
After serving in the conflict overseas.
And the time that he served had shattered all his nerves,
And left a little shrapnel in his knee.
But the morphine eased the pain,
And the grass grew round his brain,
And gave him all the confidence he lacked.
With a purple heart and a monkey on his back.


U.S. Officials Say Iraq's Forces Founder Under Rebel Assaults

The New York Times > International > Middle East > U.S. Officials Say Iraq's Forces Founder Under Rebel Assaults: "U.S. Officials Say Iraq's Forces Founder Under Rebel Assaults

Published: November 30, 2004

Shawn Baldwin for The New York Times
An Iraqi National Guard soldier watched several Iraqi men detained in a joint raid with American troops in the Old City of Mosul on Saturday.

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Names of the Dead (November 30, 2004)


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OSUL, Iraq, Nov. 29 - Iraqi police and national guard forces, whose performance is crucial to securing January elections, are foundering in the face of coordinated efforts to kill and intimidate them and their families, say American officials in the provinces facing the most violent insurgency.

For months, Iraqi recruits for both forces have been the victims of assassinations and car bombs aimed at lines of applicants as well as police stations. On Monday morning, a suicide bomber rammed a car into a group of police officers waiting to collect their salaries west of Ramadi, killing 12 people, Interior Ministry officials said.

While Bush administration officials say that the training is progressing and that there have been instances in which the Iraqis have proved tactically useful and fought bravely, local American commanders and security officials say both Iraqi forces are riddled with problems.

In the most violent provinces, they say, the Iraqis are so intimidated that many are reluctant to show up and do not tell their families where they work; they have yet to receive adequate training or weapons, present a danger to American troops they fight alongside, and are unreliable because of corruption, desertion or infiltration.

Given the weak performance of Iraqi forces, any major withdrawal of American troops for at least a decade would invite chaos, a senior Interior Ministry official, whose name could not be used, said in an interview last week.

South of Baghdad, where American troops are still trying to drive out insurgents after the recent offensive in Falluja, American officers warn their own troops to be prepared to 'duck and cover' to avoid stray shots fired by Iraqi recruits.

In the northern city of Mosul, almost the entire police force and large parts of several Iraqi National Guard battalions deserted during an insurgent uprising this month. Iraqi leaders had to use Guard battalions of Kurdish soldiers to secure the city, kindling ethnic tensions with Arabs. Police stations in western Mosul have perhaps several hundred officers in an area that is supposed to have several thousand.

For those brave enough to come to work, 'right now, all they're doing is looking out the window and making sure the bad guys aren't coming to get them,' said an American military official in Mosul, who did not want his name to be used.

In a telephone interview on Saturday, Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the American commander overseeing training of the Iraqi security forces, acknowledged the shortcomings in the Iraqis' performance, particularly by the police in Mosul and in Anbar Province, which stretches west from Ramadi to the Syrian border.


Miami Herald "No flaws" recount finds a gain of 400,000 votes for Kerry possible

Oh the irony!!!!

MH finds 400,000 votes for Kerry possibility, after trying to parrot Carl Rove...

Daily Kos :: Miami Herald recount: No flaws...or were there?!?

Diaries :: pointsoflight's diary ::

Here are the tallies for Union County:

Bush original: 3396
Bush hand count: 3393 (-3)
Kerry original: 1251
Kerry hand count: 1272 (+21)
Net change: Kerry +24

Here are the tallies for Lafayette County:

Bush original: 2460
Bush hand count: 2452 (-8)
Kerry original: 845
Kerry hand count: 848 (+3)
Net change: Kerry +11

It's a bit more complicated for the third county they looked at, Suwanee County, because they didn't count all of the votes, stopping at "almost 60%." But here are the original tallies and the results of the hand count:

Bush original: 11153
Kerry original: 4522
Bush hand count: 6140
Kerry hand count: 2984

In the original count, 71.2% of the votes cast for Bush or Kerry (n=15675) went to Bush. In the hand count, this drops to 67.3%. That is a significant drop. Let's translate that into numbers. If you take the percentages from the hand count and extrapolate, here's what you get:

Bush = 15675 x .673 = 10549 (loss of 604)
Kerry = 15675 x .327 = 5126 (gain of 604)
Net change: Kerry +1208

A switch of 1208 votes in a county with less than 16K votes cast is obviously huge. Now maybe there's a huge percentage of Bush votes in that remaining 40% that they didn't count, but we can't know that because they didn't count them. Which begs the question...why did they stop counting in Suwannee County when their tabulation of 60% of the ballots deviated from the original total quite a bit? And without actually counting those remaining ballots, how can they possibly report that nothing is amiss?

Once again, they conclude that there's "no flaw in Bush's state win." What I see is a possible gain of 1243 votes for Kerry from three small counties in which only 23627 ballots were cast. That represents about 0.3% of the ballots cast for Bush and Kerry statewide. If Kerry gained votes at the same rate statewide, he picks up nearly 400,000 votes and wins Florida.

Thanks Miami Herald, you just revealed to us that there's a possibility that Kerry won Florida.

Scoop: Scoop Feature: The Background To 911 Is Oil

Scoop: Scoop Feature: The Background To 911 Is Oil

EPIC 2014

EPIC 2014
Cool site about Media consolidation

Daily Kos :: Bush vs. Reality - The Strong Dollar

Daily Kos

With Bush, it is hard to tell where his fantasy world ends and his lying starts. Regardless, it seems clear the US Government will do nothing to stop the dollar's fall other than issue press releases. What this means, folks, is massive across-the-board price increases in all imported goods - like oil. This will create a crisis, probably in 2005, which Bush will try and blame on Democratic obstructionists in the Senate blocking his Social Security destruction (er, I mean reform) policies. This may well be Bush's plan - create an intentional crisis in 2005 and have Faux News lead a compliant media in telling the 'red states' we must (blindly) follow the President's 'Plan' to avoid total ruin. After all, the 'tax and spend' Democrats would only make things worse. If FDR's New Deal* hadn't saddled us with massive Social Security 'Pyramid Scheme' payments, we'd be fine now! *Remember, Karl Rove always starts by attacking his opponents' strengths - blaming the Bush Depression on FDR's New Deal using lies and distortion is about his speed.)"

Bull Moose

Bull Moose
Great Blog!

David Corn

David Corn
Great Blog!

CNN.com - Mystery surrounds Yushchenko ailment - Nov 25, 2004

What ails Viktor Yushchenko?

As Ukraine's popular pro-Western opposition leader claimed victory Tuesday in hotly contested presidential elections, the mystery surrounding an appearance-altering illness that twice prompted him to check into a Vienna hospital persisted.

Yushchenko accused the Ukrainian authorities of poisoning him. His detractors suggested he'd eaten some bad sushi.

Adding to the intrigue, the Austrian doctors who treated him have asked foreign experts to help determine if his symptoms may have been caused by toxins found in biological weapons.

Medical experts said they may never know for sure what befell Yushchenko.

But the illness, whatever it was, has dramatically changed his appearance since he first sought treatment at Vienna's private Rudolfinerhaus clinic on September 10.

Known for his ruggedly handsome, almost movie star looks, Yushchenko's complexion is now pockmarked. His face is haggard, swollen and partially paralyzed. One eye often tears up.

Doctors at Rudolfinerhaus declined to comment Tuesday. By the time Yushchenko checked out of the clinic last month after returning for follow-up treatment, physicians said they could neither prove nor rule out that he had been poisoned.

Steve Gilliard's News Blog : Our colonial warfare series

Steve Gilliard's News Blog : Our colonial warfare series
Great Blog!

Cosmic Iguana - Voice of the Evil Doers

Cosmic Iguana - Voice of the Evil Doers
Grat Blog!

Election 2004: Smooth or Shameful?

Election 2004: Smooth or Shameful?

Duncan Hunter: The Man Who Killed the NID (National Intelligence Director)

When they lower the pine box that carries the9 - 11 recommendations into
the ground, they should offer a few parting words of praise to Congressman
Duncan Hunter(R-CA) His efforts as chairman of the Armed Services Committee
ensured that legislation for a National Intelligence Director was
Dead-on-Arrival. Despite the conclusions of the9 - 11Commission, Hunter
decided to throw his lot with Pentagon bigwigs and powerful constituents
rather than provide greater safety for the American people.

The story of how one man can subvert the system and torpedo legislation is
a familiar one in Washington DC, but alien to those beyond the Beltway. It
demonstrates the corrupting influence of money in politics and how the will
of the people is subordinated to private interests. In this case,
Congressman Hunter battled tooth-n-nail to protect the yearly allocations
(80% of the annual Intelligence budget) to the Defense Dept. rather then
supporting a plan that would improve national security. His maneuverings
keep the flow of taxpayer dollars surging into the Pentagon where the money
is controlled by good friend, Donald Rumsfeld.

Hunter is a fully-owned subsidiary of the Defense industry; no one
harbors any illusions that he is performing the “people’s work”. He gets his
marching orders from either his constituents or their employer in the
Pentagon, Mr. Rumsfeld. Hunters’ list of campaign contributors reads like a
“whose-who” of defense contractors. Everyone from Boeing to Lockheed-Martin
has taken their turn filling the coffers of the six-time California
congressman. Lately, his connection to Titan Corp. has turned more than a
few heads; especially since he personally led the charge to quash further
investigations into the Abu Ghraib torture scandal. Hunter may not have
started the apocryphal “a few bad apples” theory, but he certainly got a lot
of mileage out of it. His appearance on countless conservative talk shows
and cable stations has given him ample opportunity to rail against “liberal
subversives” who pressed for an independent investigation of Rummy’s torture
chambers. As he dismissively noted, “I would call on the media who has now
given more attention to these seven people (the torturers) then what they
did to the invasion of Normandy”. Hunter’s braying is nothing more than a
cover up for the massive human rights abuses of his friends and political
contributors. After all, big-time Hunter supporter, Titan Corporation, is at
the epicenter of the controversy. Titan employees have been photographed
taking part in stacking up naked Iraqis to extract information through
humiliation. No wonder Hunter would like to see the whole mess disappear;
Titan’s involvement threatens to cut off a reliable source of campaign
Duncan Hunter: The Man Who Killed the NID (National Intelligence Director) By Mike Whitney

Pentagon uncovers propaganda failures

Pentagon uncovers propaganda failures

WASHINGTON - Al-Qaeda and radical Islamists are winning the propaganda war against the United States, says a high-level Pentagon panel, which concluded that President George W Bush's administration's policies in the Middle East, its fundamental failure to understand the Muslim world and a lack of imagination in using new communications technologies are responsible.

In a report concluded in September but only released last week, the Defense Science Board (DSB) called for a major overhaul of Washington's 'public diplomacy' and 'strategic communication' apparatus that would include much more money and the creation of a new independent agency to enlist the support of the private sector, researchers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to promote US messages to an increasingly hostile Islamic world.

'Strategic communication is a vital component of US national security,' stresses the 111-page report. 'It is in crisis, and it must be transformed with a strength of purpose that matches our commitment to diplomacy, defense, intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security ... Collaboration between government and the private sector on an unprecedented scale is imperative.

Asia Times - Asia's most trusted news source

Seasons greed... er.. Greetings

Bush Is A Monkey - Drag a Bush photo into the circle

Bush Is A Monkey

Drag a Bush photo into the circle

Daily Kos :: John Kerry's Missing 250,000 votes (Not including provisional ballots)

I gotta admit I'm loosing track of which story is new or recycled... Is this one new ? -- law

Daily Kos

John Kerry's Missing 250,000 votes (Not including provisional ballots)
by rsummy
Mon Nov 29th, 2004 at 00:26:29 CDT

Here is a very interesting story I recently ran across. I highlighted the parts I thought were important below.

Kerry Supports Ohio Vote Investigation, Jackson says by Steven Rosenfeld

According to the latest analysis of the Nov. 2 vote by a coalition of Ohio voting rights activists. In analyzing the still-unofficial results, the totals reveal that C. Ellen Connally, an African-American Democratic candidate from Cleveland for Ohio Chief Justice, received 257,000 more votes than Kerry. The reason these vote counts are suspect is because Connelly, a retired African-American judge, was vastly outspent in her race, and did not have the visibility of the presidential race.

Diaries :: rsummy's diary ::

'This looks like a computer glitch or a computer fix,' said Bob Fitrakis, a lawyer, political scientist and Editor of the Columbus Free Press (http://freepres.org) who has written about election irregularities since Bush was declared the winner. Fitrakis is among the team of lawyers who announced they would soon file an election challenge in the state's Supreme Court.

'Statistically, Kerry, as the Democratic presidential candidate, should have more votes than Connally. In a presidential election, most voters have the priority of casting a vote for president and the votes for president are almost always much higher than those of candidates farther down the ticket. When voters vote for Democratic candidates farther down the ticket, it is usually being driven by a sample ballot from the Party, starting at the top with president. Many voters simply don't vote for Supreme Court justices. It is highly improbable that Connally's vote totals would be so much higher than Kerry's,' Fitrakis said.

The fact that Warren County has such odd vote counts is no surprise to Fitrakis. 'The Republican-dominated county threw out all the media and independent vote watchers when votes were being counted at the end of Election Day, claiming `homeland security' issues. This would have easily allowed for the wholesale shifting of a large amount of votes from Kerry to Bush. If you're behind closed doors, it is easy enough to do. The November issues of Popular Science and Popular Mechanics magazines show how easy it is to hack the vote and steal an election. The articles are called `E-vote emergency: And you thought dimpled chads were bad' and `Could hackers tilt the election?' I think they did,' explained Fitrakis.

*Chart of the measurement of margin between Connally and Kerry race

A negative sign immediately below means that the margin for Kerry (in his race) was less than the margin for Connally (in her race) by the indicated amount. All counties where Connally's margin exceeded Kerry's by 2,000 votes or more should be on this list. There are 37 such counties.

County Margin Voting system
Adams -2,299 punch card
Allen -4,579 optical scan
Auglaize -6,592 DRE
Brown -4,363 punch card
Butler -45,457 punch card
Champaign -2,252 punch card
Clermont -22,998 optical scan
Clinton -3,429 punch card
Crawford -2,891 punch card
Darke -6,549 punch card
Defiance -2,050 punch card
Delaware -10,431 punch card
Fairfield -4,104 punch card
Geauga -4,433 optical scan
Greene -9,480 punch card "

Common Ground Common Sense

Common Ground Common Sense: "This article comes pretty close to describing the current situation. That it is written by:

'Paul Craig Roberts who was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration...Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review'

should give it credibility for those who doubt the uniqueness and seriousness of the current crisis.

Veteran for John Kerry Dave
November 26, 2004

An Era of End-Timers and Neo-Cons
Whatever Happened to Conservatives?"

Reagan man: Whatever Happened to Conservatives?

"Paul Craig Roberts who was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration...Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review

An Era of End-Timers and Neo-Cons
Whatever Happened to Conservatives?

I remember when friends would excitedly telephone to report that Rush Limbaugh or G. Gordon Liddy had just read one of my syndicated columns over the air. That was before I became a critic of the US invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration, and the neoconservative ideologues who have seized control of the US government.

America has blundered into a needless and dangerous war, and fully half of the country's population is enthusiastic. Many Christians think that war in the Middle East signals "end times" and that they are about to be wafted up to heaven. Many patriots think that, finally, America is standing up for itself and demonstrating its righteous might. Conservatives are taking out their Vietnam frustrations on Iraqis. Karl Rove is wrapping Bush in the protective cloak of war leader. The military-industrial complex is drooling over the profits of war. And neoconservatives are laying the groundwork for Israeli territorial expansion.

Paul Craig Roberts: Whatever Happened to Conservatives?

YouForgotPoland.com - Politics Makes You Stupid

YouForgotPoland.com - Politics Makes You Stupid
Great pictures!

My favorites:


Paintshop and time do wonders for relaxation...

Rove & the Grinch

DUMBYA! Anti Bush satire mocking our dimwit president George Dubya Bush.

DUMBYA! Anti Bush satire mocking our dimwit president George Dubya Bush.
Great site!

My favorites:


"Pyrrhic Victory" Officially Renamed "Bush Victory"

"Pyrrhic Victory" Officially Renamed "Bush Victory"

Pyrrhus had a prestigious place reserved in our world-renowned reference book for centuries," said Smytheton, "all for just presiding over one military victory that was more costly than beneficial. Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush have combined for so many now that we felt it was only respectful to turn the mantle over to them. They deserve the well-earned title of Kings of the Detrimental Victory.

What do we do now ? Nothing, except wait for the GOP to self destruct ?

"What do we do ? Nothing, except let them know we know all about

1. Missing $1 trillion in defense
'Military waste under fire
$1 trillion missing -- Bush plan targets Pentagon accounting'

2. The coming trillions that renovating Medicare will cost not to mention the easier to fix Social Security system
'Medicare faces cost crisis - Multitrillion-dollar deficits loom over federal programs'

3. The fact that they can't tell us how long we will be staying in Iraq; Gen Frank's book says 5 years, Sen McCain on CNN tells us '10 to 20 years'... You've got to be kidding, right ? At a current level of $9 billion per month, you do the math not to mention the grim reaper's math.

4. The President is in fiscal handcuffs. The only thing he can realistically do is let the value of the dollar fall. He also HAS TO balance the budget, but with his legacy at stake, he would have to borrow in order to do that. This risks a full blow free fall in the value of the dollar and risks global depression. Is Bush's ego big enough to risk it all on that gamble ? Did I have to ask ?

5. The GOP ship is sinking. 'PYRRHIC VICTORY' OFFICIALLY RENAMED 'BUSH VICTORY' http://www.moderateindependent.com/v1i4pyrrhic.htm
It is now official !"

Common Ground Common Sense

Public Christian, Christians for Kerry, Christians against Bush, Progressive Christians, Christian Democrats, Christians not Republicans.

Public Christian, Christians for Kerry, Christians against Bush, Progressive Christians, Christian Democrats, Christians not Republicans.
Great Blog!

Tornado in a can to reduce world waste ?

what if you could start with a lot of hot air? What could you invent then?

Frank Polifka did just that, and he might well revolutionize industry and the environment.

‘Tornado in a Can’
Polifka, with no more than a high school education and a creative way of looking at problems, has been working on the Windhexe for 15 years. He calls it the “Tornado in a Can” — a system for safely harnessing the enormous power of a funnel cloud in a small industrial machine.

Scientists say they doubt that's what’s really happening, but there’s no doubt that whatever you put in the Windhexe — shoes, rocks, sludge, concrete, industrial waste — comes out the bottom as a superfine powder.

It’s a clean way to dispose of almost anything safely and cheaply, because there are virtually no polluting emissions. Industrial scientists say its uses could be limited only by the imagination.

MSNBC - A good stiff breeze for industry

Torture and the subjugating of women, workers

More gems from

Peter Linebaugh: Torture and Neo-Liberalism with Sycorax in Iraq

"just as enclosures expropriated the peasantry from the communal land, so the witch-hunt expropriated women from their bodies, which were thus 'liberated' from any impediment preventing them to function as machines for the production of labor."

Were there any exceptions? Did the sons, brothers, uncles, fathers, did the men of the community come to the defense of the women? Sadly, shamefully, there is but a single exception to the otherwise universal answer: in 1609 when the Basque fishermen of St. Jean de Luz heard that the women were being stripped and stabbed for witches, they cut short their Atlantic cod campaign and sailed back home and taking clubs in hand they liberated a convoy of witches being carted to the stake.

What we learn is the systematic, protracted, and global practice of torture. It is systematic in the sense that in the past church and state conspired to exercise it while state theorists developed philosophy for it, such as Jean Bodin ("We must spread terror among some by punishing many"), René Descartes ("I am not this body"), and Thomas Hobbes ("for the laws of nature, as justice, equity, mercy, and, in sum, doing to others as we would be done to, of themselves, without the terror of some power to cause them to be observed, are contrary to our natural passions"). It was protracted in the sense that it was not shock therapy based on the blitzkrieg, or sudden 'structural adjustment plan,' but an intermittent campaign of approximately two centuries which ebbed or flowed with prices. It was coeval with the European Renaissance, high and low, north and south. Finally, it was global in the sense that the degradation of women accomplished by means of terror of the body belonged to the same epoch as the genocide of indigenous people in America and the commencement of the African slave trade. "It was here that the scientific use of torture was born, for blood and torture were necessary to 'breed an animal' capable of regular, homogeneous, and uniform behavior, indelibly marked with the memory of the new rules."

Such beginnings are never completed. This is why "the sanctity of marriage" was a decisive electoral issue and the tortures of Abu Ghraib were not.

Fallujah. The mutilation of the human body and the globalization of commerce are two sides of capitalism, empire and torture.

The regime prevailing in the U.S.A. is lawless, cruel, and inhuman, and though it will plead that its atrocities are 'accidents,' or that they should be exculpated having been motivated in 'good faith,' such excuses scarcely scratch the surface of its crimes, because its deepest purposes and strategic goals are the very primitive accumulation and endless dominion which characterized its beginnings in the Age of Plunder...

Peter Linebaugh: Torture and Neo-Liberalism: Dehumanizing prisoners in Iraq

Great article by Linebaugh on Counterpunch: Hard to select the best parts.. -- law

Torture and Neo-Liberalism with Sycorax in Iraq

1) To exploit workers neocons/ corporate capitalism must dehumanize worker bees, hence torture..

2) Almost anyone can torture a dehumanized target

3) This is nothing new. The same torture tactics were used against strong women (aka Witches) to beat them into submissive housewifes

a poem called "The Tortured,"

"Indifferent citizens don't care to look behind prisoner masks;
The tortured would stare back askant."

[the poet] has been behind the mask, yet looks at us with humanity and knowledge. She has a long poem called "Revelation" against the Puritanical strain of American imperialism. It refers to a cauterized memory:

"do you encounter the touch of the torch on the skin?"

"they singe the air with sanctimony,
light bonfires beneath the feet of non-conformity."

She refers to a rarely mentioned, still-silenced, profound trauma on this civilization ­ the burning of the witches...

U.S. Attorney General, Alberto Gonzalez, disregarded torture in his infamous, post 9/11 memorandum to Bush: "In my judgment, this new paradigm [the 'war on terrorism'] renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions."

"Quaint," eh?

It might more aptly be applied to Magna Carta, the epitome of quaintness, though Professor Huntington of Harvard tells us in his screed to rid the nation of Hispanic cultural influence that the American creed, its cultural core, is Anglo, "going back to Magna Carta," which he thinks is somehow Protestant (Magna Carta 1215, Protestant Reformation 1517)! Furthermore, although it is such a quaint part of the Anglo core, it is not even written in English. Its most powerful part is chapter 39:

Nullus liber homo capiatur ....

Edward Coke provides the classic translation. Edward Coke was to the English Revolution of the 1640s as Rousseau was to the French Revolution or Marx to the Russian Revolution..

We parse the sentence in three parts ­ 1) the subject (no free man) is followed by 2) eight or nine proscribed actions making up the predicate which is then qualified by 3) a climax to the sentence stating two legal principles which provide the exceptions, trial by jury and law of the land... Coke begins his commentary distinctly, "this extends to villeins."

It's the second part which has such variety, taking, arresting, imprisoning, exiling, banishing, ruining, destroying, victimizing, and disseiseing. It too contains a huge amount of commentary, legal and otherwise. Habeas corpus, trial by jury, due process of law, and prohibition of torture as principles of law have quaintly stemmed from this statement. It is the last one that concerns us.

In some conservative translations aliquo modo destruatur is rendered "ruined," or "molested," or "victimized." To interpret the prohibition of torture as molestation or ruin or victimizing is to displace the damage away from the body. Coke glosses "any otherwise destroyed" as "That is forejudged of life or limb, disinherited, or put to torture or death." The expression, "life or limb," appears elsewhere in the Charter of Liberty, and it makes clear that the destruction which is referred to, is an action on the body, an actual dismemberment, a real mutilation. It is important for us to retain this classic translation - 'in any way destroyed' ­ for two reasons. First, it was retained in the Petition of Right (1628) whence chapter 39 was preserved and later perpetuated in the U.S. Constitution (see the 5th and 14th amendments among others), and second it was upon this translation that Edward Coke, and then the Levellers of the English Revolution based their opposition to torture.

History moved on: monarchy, republic, military dictatorship, monarchy again, Jacobites, Whigs, came and went, leaving chapter 39 as a residue which persisted despite the layering sediments of passing imperial forms . In his Commentaries on the Laws (1765-69) William Blackstone declared "the constitution [of England] is an utter stranger to any arbitrary power of killing or maiming the subject without the express warrant of law." He explains that the words aliquo modo destruatur "include a prohibition not only of killing and maiming, but also of torturing (to which our laws are strangers) and of every oppression by color of an illegal authority.....

Why does torture accompany economic development or primitive accumulation?.. Why is the violation fundamental legal principle, the integrity of the body, necessary to the policy of oil extraction, modernization, and free marketing?

In 1994 the U.S.A. ratified the UN Convention Against Torture that barred torture and other "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." In Guantánamo Bay prison six hundred prisoners kept in steel-mesh cages reminiscent of the cages which uppity women used to be put in to during the European Renaissance.

In general however, an impression of complacency is formed from reading over the various American manuals of torture techniques that the CIA, the School of the Americas, &c., employ because they seem to avoid such devices, like cages, in the technology of torture.. Decades of research in university psychology departments and lavish CIA hand-outs have produced the "psychological torture." General Miller in Guantánamo used sleep deprivation, exposure to cold, placing prisoners in stress positions for agonizing lengths of time.

This however was only to take a leaf out of the four-and-a-half centuries-old classic, The Discovery of Witches (1647) by Matthew Hopkins, the Witch-Finder General. He used swimming (cold water ordeal), watching (forced to sit on stool for long period under observation), and walking (deprived of sleep for long periods) as well as pricking (using a needle to probe the perineum) as a means of interrogating suspects and finding witches. He was personally responsible for the death of scores of women between 1645-6, including nineteen at one mass hanging. Parliament disallowed his method of 'swimming' the witch, or 'throwing a trussed-up woman into a pond to see if she sank.' But Parliament permitted the others: starvation, sleep deprivation, walking the accused up and down until her feet blistered and mind wandered, solitary confinement, and prolonged sitting in a single position in order to produce utter exhaustion, or, euphemistically, 'stress.'

There is a tension in English history between the practice of torture and its prohibition... Coke said, "there is no law to warrant tortures in this land, nor can they be justified by any prescription ," and Blackstone called the rack "an engine of state, not of law" Now, it must be said, as we learn from Professor Langbein (an authority which the Harvard torture booster, Alan Dershowitz, depends on) that Edward Coke, like Francis Bacon or Isaac Newton, himself participated in the torture of suspects. Evidence that Blackstone did as well has yet to come to light, and though we doubt that it shall, would we be so surprised if it did?

In American history the contradiction is similar: at one pole, the 8th amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, while at the other pole, the application of torture to Indians and of torture to slaves was systematic.

The Abu Ghraib tortures were prepared for by White House and Pentagon lawyers. The "Working Group Report on Detainee Interrogations in the Global War on Terrorism" refers to the U.S. Supreme Court cases concerning prison which have changed the meaning of the 8th amendment. It used to be that it focused on the severity, deprivation, hurt, of the prisoner's person. Under eroding decisions by the Rehnquist court it came to focus on the intention, motivation, and good faith of the prison keepers. Most astonishing was a Defense Department analysis of March 2002 which concluded that the President was authorized to use torture as long as he could "negate a showing of specific intent by showing that he had acted in good faith" (Hersh, 18).

The unspoken assumption is that prisoners are not persons. Justice Brennan in Furman v. Georgia (1972) signalled the significance of the 8th amendment as forbidding the treatment of "members of the human race as nonhumans." A category is created of the stigmatized, the dehumanized, and, as it is essential to add, the demonized.
Peter Linebaugh: Torture and Neo-Liberalism with Sycorax in Iraq

Single girlie man who still lives with his mother and cries like a lib drama queen

What Karl Rove and RED staters would say of Jesus today...

I just can't help but think about how WRONG those fundies are about religion, every time I see the Pieta... And think about the laws they would pass to forbid public funds to be spent in "indecent" works of art and "indecent" gay/bi artists like Da Vinci, Michelangelo and others...

A black and white boring New "W" world order. Sigh...

One Hand Clapping - Great photo essay

One Hand Clapping

Atrios: "All I Want for Xmas Is Fair and Verifiable Elections "


Right on!

Daily Kos :: diary of a mad christian housewife

Daily Kos

Last fall, Lisa Ann Diaz, also from Plano, drowned her two daughters. Before the killing she said a prayer: 'Dear God, please take care of my precious angel.'

Back in 2001, Andrea Yates from Houston drowned her five children in the bathtub. She believed she was saving her children from eternal damnation and that Satan lived within her.

It's hard to even think about these disturbing events, must less analyze them critically.

Religion seems to be the elephant in the room no one wants to discuss. All of these women were clearly steeped in some kind of religious delusion when they killed their children. At least two - Schlosser and Yates - were members of fundamentalist churches.

Here are some questions I would like to see answered:

1. Did these women become more religious as their psychosis increased? Should health professionals view increasing religious fervor as a danger sign for women with extreme post partum depression?

2. Did the religious beliefs of those around these women prevent them from recognizing a mental health problem? Case in point -- Schlosser's husband was not concerned when his wife said she thought her children should go to god. Child protective services found his lack of interest so startling that they took his older children away. The Schlosser's minister claims that he would not have been alarmed by her comments, they were normal dinner time conversation.

3. Did the church community offer any support or assistance to these women? Schlosser's church has dropped her like a hot potato, with the minister saying he did not know her and others saying the Schlossers 'did not socialize' with others in the church. Not the kind of caring Christian community we've come to expect.

4. Did these women try to pray themselves out of mental illness? Were they so ashamed that they did not meet the romanticized standards of Christian motherhood that they did not seek help?

There are many other questions some one could get in there and explore. Just maybe it would be possible to find some answers that could save the next baby from a gruesome fate."

Daily Kos :: Ha! Success! Chicago Trib Finally Prints Kossaks LTE!!!!

Daily Kos chicagojulie says: "this one was by far the least intelligent, least reseached, and worst written letter to the editor I have ever written. Know what? Not only did they publish it, it's featured in today's "Voice of the People." Go figure.

The letter

As the sister of a Navy pilot who has fought in both Iraq and Afghanistan, I was outraged by Bruce Heisinger's letter ('Selling out troops,' Nov. 21) stating that the media's reporting of the brutal execution of an injured, unarmed Iraqi soldier was somehow 'selling out' America's troops and suggesting that the U.S. government should put the media on a 'short leash.'

If Heisinger paid attention to recent reports out of Iraq, he would know the situation there is so bad that most foreign reporters, even in Baghdad, cannot venture outside their hotel rooms and rely on incredibly brave Iraqi stringers to bring them news of what's actually going on in the war.

It would be impossible for the U.S. government to put them on a shorter 'leash' than the Iraqi insurgents have them on. Besides if Heisinger hasn't already noticed, the U.S. isn't in control of anything in Iraq right now.

But what has angered me even more is that people in this country cannot make up excuses fast enough for this Marine, who seems to have acted in violation of the Geneva Convention and just about every international treaty regarding conduct during war.

If Americans had seen insurgents killing an unarmed, wounded American soldier in such a brutal way, they would have been outraged and screaming about violations of international law. I agree that war is horrific and forever changes those who are involved, but then perhaps people should take a good hard look at our president, who pushed to send our troops into this seemingly unwinnable war without sufficient numbers or equipment to do the job properly.

And if Heisinger sees fit to criticize the media for 'selling out' U.S. troops, perhaps he should know that a report by Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health, which estimated that the number of innocent Iraqi civilians killed in this war is nearing 100,000, has received almost no play in the media. Apparently the media have determined that the only important lives lost in Iraq are those of the Americans.

I am sickened by Heisinger's suggestion that the government be allowed to tell the media what they may report. The media are the 'fourth estate' of democracy and serve as the only effective watchdog of the government on behalf of the American people.

Perhaps if the media had been a bit bolder about questioning the Bush administration in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001, we wouldn't be in this mess in Iraq."

Declaration of Independence NOT Banned at Calif School

Declaration of Independence Banned at Calif School ?

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California teacher has been barred by his school from giving students documents from American history that refer to God -- including the Declaration of Independence.

Reader Feedback at Reuters Newsroom

Unbelievable headline. Are you really a tool of the Christian fundamentalists or do you just play one the day before thanksgiving?

Unhappy Reader

The Declaration of Independence was not banned as your headline screamed. The teacher was using handouts full of selective quotes, similar to emails that have been circulating on the Internet for years.
I expect more from Reuters, which I generally consider to be far better than the AP.

Shame On You

This was the most criticized headline of the week. Many readers thought it was one-sided and failed to summarize the story objectively: Editor

Germans sue Rumsfeld, Tenet for war crimes

BERLIN (Reuters) - Lawyers acting for a U.S. advocacy group will Tuesday file war crimes charges in Germany against senior U.S. administration officials for their alleged role in torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

'German law in this area is leading the world,' Peter Weiss, vice president of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a human rights group, was quoted as saying in Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper's Tuesday edition.

According to the group, German law allows war criminals to be investigated wherever they may be living.

Those to be named in the case to be filed at Germany's Federal Prosecutors Office include Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, former Central Intelligence Agency chief George Tenet and eight other officials.

Top News Article | Reuters.com

Mad Hatter at his bloggosphere tea party

glassdog: "The Tipping Point"

There is a cancer — warm and angry — metastasizing in the belly of the blogosphere. It grows, thrives, fed by the deluded, the self-satisfied, the people who use the word “blogosphere.”

I speak, of course, of the “hat tip.”

glassdog: "Heavenly Creature" murders mom and blogs about it

Heavenly Creature

So, 16 year old Rachelle Waterman had a difficult life of shopping... and choir practice.. her mom.. wanted to send her to fat camp. So, naturally, Rachelle enlisted the help of two 24 year old ex-boyfriends and had her murdered. And what was the final entry of [Rachel's blog] ?

Just to let everyone know, my mother was murdered..

Posted by Blue Steele at 04:02 PM | [34]

Congress Seeks to Curb International Court (washingtonpost.com)

Gee, I wonder why -- law

Congress Seeks to Curb International Court (washingtonpost.com)

Daily Kos :: Rumsfeld Charged with War Crimes in Germany

Reuters in Germany is reporting that Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenant and eight other unnamed US officials will be charge with war crimes in connection with the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal. The charges are being filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights.

'German law in this area is leading the world,' Peter Weiss, vice president of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a human rights group, was quoted as saying in Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper's Tuesday edition.

German law allows for individuals charged with war crimes to be investigated whereever they may be living.

Evidently the complaint is over 100 pages, and the Frankfuter Rundschau will be reporting on it in its Tuesday edition. More info should be available shortly

U.S. Group to File Iraq War Crimes Case in Germany

Kriegsverbrechen: US-Menschenrechtler verklagen Rumsfeld in Deutschland - Politik - SPIEGEL ONLINE

On related news...
Congress Seeks to Curb International Court (washingtonpost.com)

Daily Kos :: Branding the GOP As The Party Of Confederate Reactionairies

Over the past 25 years, the GOP has had tremendous success branding the Democratic party as the party of the godless Northeastern liberal elite. Nevermind that this image has no basis in reality -- of the 57 million people who voted for John Kerry included more than a few middle class people, the type who go to their white-steepled churches on Sundays, teach their children 'moral values' like peace, generousity, tolerance and honesty, and generally work hard and play by the rules. Can we turn the tables? I think we can, by branding the GOP as the party of reckless, Confederate firebrands.

The amunition is there. The GOP base right now consists of many reckless Confederate firebrands who, if they could, would take America back to a time of segregation (see Trapper John's current post about the Alabama Segregation vote), revive and teach creationism, criminalize gays and lesbians, shut down the federal government, start reckless wars, abolish public education, pave the Grand Canyon, and drill for oil on the Gettysburg Battlefield. These are the same Confederate dead-enders who build statues to Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee, pay tribute to Strom Thurmond's failed Presidential bid, and protest statues meant to honor great Americans like Arthur Ashe, Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln. (Seriously, in my hometown of Richmond, VA, controversy ensued when folks wanted to build a statue of Lincoln to commemorate his visit only a few days after the Union Army took Richmond)."

Daily Kos :: Branding the GOP As The Party Of Confederate Reactionairies: "

Courts first to go in right-wing revolution

Every time the so-called Christian Right has tried to turn this country into a theocracy, those pesky federal courts have stymied things.

So now — according to the liberal Americans United for Separation of Church and State — the right-wingers have come up with a new scheme. All they plan to do is to strip the federal judges of their right to hear cases involving the separation of church and state.

Reportedly, such leaders as the Rev. Jerry Falwell and Republican Rep. John Hostettler of Indiana, flush with what they see as a successful right-wing revolution, believe they can make the federal courts virtually powerless.

Rep. Hostettler, addressing a special legislative briefing of the Christian Coalition last month in Washington, reportedly talked at length about a bill he plans to introduce. It would deny federal courts the right to hear cases challenging the Defense of Marriage Act, which bans same-sex marriage.

"Congress controls the federal judiciary," Rep. Hostettler was quoted as saying. "If Congress wants to, it can refer all cases to the state courts. Congress can say the federal courts have limited power to enforce their decision."

Apparently, the Hoosier congressman has not heard of the balance of power among the three arms of our government. He was quoted as telling the Christian Coalition members:

"When the courts make unconstitutional decisions, we should not enforce them. Federal courts have no army or navy... The court can opine, decide, talk about, sing, whatever it wants to do. We're not saying they can't do that. At the end of the day, we're saying the court can't enforce its opinions."

Another congressman, Alabama Republican Robert Aderholdt, was quoted as advocating court stripping as a means to protect state-sponsored Ten Commandment displays, such as the one erected by former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore.

And then there was Sheila Cole, executive director of the Republican Study Committee, a group of ultra-conservative House members. She said federal judges who refuse to listen to Congress might well be impeached.

Others in attendance at the session called for more direct action to render the federal courts powerless. During a question-and-answer period, a member reportedly said that in such cases as the Ten Commandments display, people should form a human barrier, if neccessary, to prevent removal.

Rep. Hostettler apparently liked that idea. In such a case, he allegedly said, federal marshals would have to be called out.

"If the president does that," he was quoted as saying, "who will have a say in the next presidential election?"

The Rev. Falwell spoke of what he called an evangelical awakening sweeping this nation, and boasted that the Religious Right now controls the Republican Party, according to Americans United.

Many of the legal scholars consulted by Americans United said the court-stripping scheme was of dubious legality. Michael Gerhardt, a professor at William & Mary Law School, testified before Congress twice recently, arguing that the plan violates the U.S. Constitution.

Constitutional or not, the scary part of all this is realizing how dizzy success has made these people. A week or two after the presidential election, I happened to tune in to the Rev. Pat Robertson's program. He was chortling and practically jumping up and down with elation.

He kept saying what a great opportunity the Christian Right now had to change the nation.

Courts first to go in right-wing revolution

The Feckless FDA

The Feckless FDA

Yesterday, additional evidence emerged that, in the Bush administration, the Food and Drug Administration is more concerned about its relationship with the drug industry than the safety of the American people. Dr. David Graham, who has worked at the FDA for more than 20 years, told the Senate Finance Committee that the agency had become "feckless and far too likely to surrender to demands of drug makers." The hearing's primary focus was the recent withdrawal of the pain reliever Vioxx, produced by Merck. Graham estimated that – based on Merck's own studies – 139,000 Americans suffered from a heart attack or stroke as a result of taking the drug. Of that group, "30 percent to 40 percent probably died. For the survivors, their lives were changed forever," according to Graham. He called the Vioxx scandal "the single greatest drug safety catastrophe in the history of this country or the history of the world." (For more details on the Vioxx scandal, see last week's Progress Report.)

TOP ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS ATTACK THE MESSENGER: Not surprisingly, the Bush administration attacked Dr. Graham for speaking honestly. Before his testimony yesterday, FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford called Dr. Graham "a maverick who did not follow Agency protocols." But Graham's supervisor at the FDA said the paper that formed the basis of his testimony was "an excellent study and analysis of a complex topic." Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) said Crawford's comments were "intended [to] intimidate a witness on the eve of a hearing." Grassley recommended Crawford spend time "on the problem rather than going after congressional witnesses who helped identify the problem in the first place."

MERCK CEO'S DISHONEST DEFENSE: Raymond V. Gilmartin, the CEO of Merck, also appeared before the Finance Committee. Gilmartin adamantly defended the company's conduct. He claimed that "Merck has promptly disclosed the results of Merck-sponsored studies of Vioxx to the FDA, physicians, the scientific community and the media." Gilmartin cited the fact that, after a study it conducted in March 2000, the company "immediately issued a press release providing its conclusions." But that press release didn't include the conclusions of Merck doctors who believed the data indicated that an increased risk of cardiovascular events among those taking the drug was "clearly there." The following month, Merck issued another release titled, "Merck confirms favorable cardiovascular safety profile of Vioxx" and claiming the data shows "NO DIFFERENCE in the incidence of cardiovascular events." Merck didn't release the data to the FDA until June 2000.

MERCK'S SHAMEFUL ADVERTISING BLITZ: Long after it was aware of the dangers associated with the drug, Merck continued one of the largest direct-to-consumer advertising campaigns ever, spending $160 million dollars. Millions more was spent marketing Vioxx to doctors. Last year, Vioxx sales totaled $2.5 billion.

VIOXX IS A SYMPTOM OF A LARGER PROBLEM: According to Graham, "it is important...the American people understand that what happened with Vioxx is really a symptom of something far more dangerous to the safety of the American people." Graham named five major medications already on the market – "the anti-cholesterol drug Crestor, the pain pill Bextra, the obesity pill Meridia, the asthma drug Serevent and the acne drug Accutane" – whose safety needs to be "seriously looked at."

BEXTRA – THE NEXT VIOXX?: Bextra, produced by Pfizer, is a painkiller similar to Vioxx that is still on the market. Studies have shown that Bextra "increase the risks of heart attacking patients undergoing cardiac surgery [and] in rare cases...can also cause a fatal skin reaction." Moreover, it "has never proved to be any more effective at reducing pain or protecting the stomach than older medicines like ibuprofen that are a fraction of the price and pose none of these suggested or proven risks."

THE PRICE OF SAFETY: How can the pharmaceutical companies get away with it? Over the past four years the industry has contributed over $68 million to federal candidates – including almost $1.5 million to President Bush. Pfizer, the manufacturer of Bextra – a drug still on the market but singled out by Graham as potentially unsafe – contributed over $120,000 to President Bush.

Progress Report, 11/19/04 - American Progress Action Fund

The Health Blog: The Feckless FDA

The Health Blog: The Feckless FDA
Great Blog!

Texas Tort Reform - Tort reform as it pertains to Health Care

From Common Ground Common Sense comes a disaster warning:

Texas Tort Reform - Tort reform as it pertains to Health Care

Texas Tort Reform Primer for Insurors

In the 1994 Texas state legislative elections, numerous candidates ran for office on a platform commonly referred to as 'tort reform.' As a result, Texas residents were inundated with information regarding alleged lawsuit abuse within the state. Governor George W. Bush made tort reform a centerpiece of his successful 1994 Texas gubernatorial campaign.

Bush pointed to alleged flaws inherent within the system which led to huge jury awards disproportionate to awards in the rest of the country.

When the 1995 state legislative session opened, there was already a groundswell of support for comprehensive tort reform within the legislature itself (due, no doubt, largely to the success in the recent elections of tort reform advocates). As early as January 11, 1995, a large number of bills dealing with many areas of tort reform were introduced in the Texas Senate.. The tort reform battle lines were drawn primarily between two distinct camps. Representing the advocates of tort reform were primarily two groups -- Texans for Lawsuit Reform, the primary lobbying group behind tort reform, and Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, a more "grassroots" lobbying group. The primary player on the other side of the reform issue was the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, the primary lobbying group opposing many of the proposed reform measures, and Alert Texas, a public awareness lobbying group also opposing many of the proposed tort reform measures.

When the smoke finally cleared on the tort reform battle, seven new bills were passed and the judicial landscape had been dramatically altered. The state legislature passed bills revising various aspects of governmental liability, medical liability, punitive damages, and joint and several liability. The legislature also passed bills altering the venue laws, establishing a statute for dealing with frivolous lawsuits, and reforming the Deceptive Trade Practices Act and Article 21.21 of the Texas Insurance Code. The following is an analysis of the changes wrought in tort reform and a discussion of how these changes will impact insurers involved in litigation in this new legal climate.


Tort Reform Summary

The following are brief summaries of the seven bills that constitute Texas tort reform. These bills are all effective September 1, 1995. However, as explained in the following chapters, some of the new statutes only apply to cases that "accrue" after September 1, 1995. The new laws do not define when a cause of action "accrues", but the Texas Supreme Court has previously held that a cause of action "accrues" at the time facts come into existence which authorize a claimant to seek judicial remedy. With certain exceptions, an action accrues at the date an injury occurs regardless of whether the injured party is aware of the injury at that time. All of the new statutes apply to all cases filed after September 1, 1996, regardless of when the cause of action accrues. Accordingly, for cases filed between September 1, 1995, and September 1, 1996, we can expect numerous disputes regarding when particular actions "accrued" and whether the new statutes will be applicable. In part, the new bills that constitute tort reform make the following changes in Texas law:

1. Punitive Damages

The new Texas punitive damages law greatly expands the types of cases in which punitive damage awards will be statutorily limited or "capped." Previously, the only instances where a cap could be placed on punitive damages were cases in which the only allegation was negligence. The new law caps punitive damages at the amount of noneconomic damages (up to $750,000), plus two times the amount of economic damages or $200,000, whichever is greater, in almost every case in which punitive damages are sought. Further, punitive damages can only be awarded upon a showing of fraud or malice as specifically and narrowly defined by the statute. In cases involving punitive damages, defendants now have a statutory right to request separate trials, one to determine liability and actual damages, the second to determine punitive damages. Also, punitive damages now cannot be awarded unless there is "clear and convincing evidence" that they are justified, and the new law specifically describes the kind of evidence a jury can consider when awarding punitive damages.

2. Venue

Previously, Texas venue laws were very liberal and allowed plaintiffs to file suit in any county where some "part" of the action took place. The new law now generally limits the places in which suit can be filed to the county in which all or a "substantial part" of the events or omissions took place, where the defendant resides, or if neither of those locations are applicable, where the plaintiff resided at the time his or her injury occurred. More importantly, the new venue laws also have a significant impact on where corporations can be sued. Formerly, plaintiffs could bring suit against a corporation in any location where it had an agency or representative. Under the new law, unless the above provisions apply, the plaintiff would be forced to sue where the corporation had its principal office. Furthermore, the new statute for the first time gives defendants the right to immediately challenge a court's ruling on mandatory venue issues without having to wait until the final conclusion of trial.

3. Proportionate Responsibility

The new law now applies to all tort actions (as opposed to just negligence claims), and prevents a plaintiff from recovering if he is more than 50% responsible for his damages. Texas lawmakers have also limited the amount of liability individuals and corporations will incur for the acts of co-defendants through a curtailment of the doctrine of joint and several liability. Now, defendants will be held jointly and severally liable only if they are found more than 50% responsible for the plaintiff's damages. This is a big change from the former statute, under which defendants with slight responsibility (as little as 11% under some circumstances) would often end up paying the entire amount of the judgment. Also, a defendant will now be held jointly liable in environmental pollution and toxic tort claims only if his portion of responsibility is 20% or greater (as opposed to the former law, under which a defendant could be held jointly liable, and thus responsible for the entire amount, if he was only 1% responsible for the damages). Defendants (as opposed to just the plaintiff) will now be able to add other defendants who are also responsible for the harm caused the plaintiff and juries will be able to deliberate on the percentage of responsibility that should be attributed to all parties involved, not just those that the plaintiff chose to sue. These new changes will certainly have a significant impact upon defendants' choices on who to add to their lawsuits, and how those suits will be decided.

4. Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA) and Texas Insurance Code Article 21.21

The new changes to the DTPA were designed to limit the types of lawsuits in which this cause of action can be plead. Pursuant to the recent changes to the statute, the DTPA can no longer be used to recover for damages "based on the rendering of a professional service." Therefore, professionals such as lawyers, attorneys, architects, CPAs, insurance agents, etc., will, for the most part, no longer be sued under the DTPA. The statute will also no longer apply to personal injury or death cases, consumer transactions involving a written contract in excess of $100,000 if the consumer is represented by counsel, or transactions that exceed $500,000. The statute also puts into place a new damages scheme that separates damages into "economic" and "mental anguish" damages and makes "mental anguish" and multiple damages more difficult to recover. Furthermore, the statute now requires the plaintiff to have "relied" on the alleged misrepresentation to obtain multiple damages and greatly strengthens the notice requirement of the statute. The statute also now allows either party to compel mediation shortly after suit is filed.

Many of the changes to the DTPA were also incorporated in Texas Insurance Code Article 21.21 including the new notice and mediation provisions and the removal of automatic trebling upon certain findings. Plaintiffs can no longer sue for unfair claims settlement practices as defined by Insurance Department Board Orders, although many of the provisions out of the old Board Orders are now specifically recited in the statute.

5. Frivolous Lawsuits

In an effort to discourage parties from filing meritless claims, the new Texas law essentially adopts the Federal Court rule that allows for the imposition of penalties against those who file lawsuits merely to harass another party. When parties are forced to defend against frivolous lawsuits, they may recover their fees and expenses.

6. Medical Liability

The new law discourages frivolous medical malpractice claims by requiring plaintiffs to come forward with expert medical testimony establishing the validity of their claims at an earlier point in the suit. Those plaintiffs unable to come up with enough expert medical testimony will have their claims dismissed. The law also clearly establishes standards for what will constitute "expert testimony," and provides for the imposition of sanctions against parties who file frivolous claims.

7. Governmental Liability

A $100,000 limit has been set as the amount of damages for which certain governmental employees may be personally liable. This limit applies only when the individual is insured under the governmental entity's policy. This will allow the employees to be "protected" if the entity chooses to provide insurance or indemnification, while allowing injured parties to recover against employees who might have been protected previously from judgment due to a lack of assets.

And add to it: Voters were conned into voting for cheaper premiums which never materialized...

To: National Desk, Health Care Reporter

Contact: Douglas Heller of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights,
310-392-0522 ext. 309

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Oct. 26 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The nation's largest medical malpractice insurer, GE Medical Protective, has admitted that medical malpractice caps on damage awards and other limitations on recoveries for injured patients will not lower physicians' premiums.

The insurer's revelation was made to the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) in a regulatory filing obtained by the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR). The revelation was contained in a document submitted by GE Medical Protective to explain why the insurer planned to raise physicians' premiums 19 percent a mere six months after Texas enacted caps on medical malpractice awards. In 2003, Texas lawmakers passed a $250,000 cap on non-economic damage compensation to victims of medical malpractice caps after Medical Protective and other insurers lobbied for the change.