number 127    
interpreting the constitution

crowd control

spread of the red

one nation, under surveillance

fun d' mental

in bed with the red

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CRS Report : The Law of
Church and State: U.S.
Supreme Court Decisions
Since 2002

The US slips down the
Economist Intelligence Unit's
environment rankings

The Responsibility of
Intellectuals, Noam Chomsky,
New York Review of Books,

Bright Light at Russell's
Corners, George C Ault, 1946

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interpreting the constitution
fun d' mental
spread of the red
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An independent review board
empanelled to investigate US
military contracting procedures
and practices in Iraq and
Afghanistan has produced a
report sharply critical of Army
contract management, concluding
that billions of dollars have been
mismanaged and wasted since
the start of the “war on terror” in
late 2001. The report, headlined
“Urgent Reform Required,” says
that inaction by senior Pentagon
officials has “created a crisis”
which must be addressed

The panel documented 83
separate criminal investigations
involving at least $15 million in
bribes related to logistics
contracting in the two war zones.
More thefts and kickbacks are
expected to be uncovered as
these cases proceed, according
to Defense Department

The report recommends
expanding the Army’s
procurement staff by at least 2000
to deal with an estimated 600
percent increase in private
contracting. Defense Secretary
Robert Gates said he was
"dismayed by a lot of the
it's all true
Brown Tribute
After almost a year during which
consumers saw the recall of millions
of dangerous imported products from
pet food to children’s toys, the
Senate took action last week to
increase the budget and staff of the
Consumer Product Safety
Commission.  The Senate Commerce
Committee unanimously passed a
measure that doubles the budget of
the CPSC to $141 million over the
next six years, increases the fines
that can be assessed when
companies market dangerous
products and allows for
compensation to be paid to industry
whistle blowers.  The measure also
increases civil penalties to up to
$250,000 with a ceiling of $100
million and increases criminal
penalties to up to five years in prison
for knowingly violating US safety

While consumer and safety groups
welcome the proposal, the bipartisan
effort to buttress the CPSC’s funding
and authority is opposed by the
White House and the head of the
CPSC, Nancy Nord.  President Bush
appointed Nord to head the agency
earlier this year.  

Nord sent the committee a letter in
late October that expressed
to the proposal stating that the
measure “could have the unintended
consequences of hampering, rather
than furthering, consumer product
safety.”  Nord advised the committee
that she feared that the bill would
have the consequence of increasing
litigation because the agency would
be able to bring enforcement actions
to protect the American consuming
public that would defended against
by businesses in the courts.  Nord
wrote that if the proposal were
passed, the CPSC would “end up
hiring lawyers rather than scientists.”

Nord was formerly an attorney and
lobbyist for the Eastman Kodak and
also served as the Director of
Consumer Affairs for the business
advocacy group the US Chamber of

After the proposal passed out of the
committee, the
Washington Post
reported that Nord has taken dozens
of junkets that were paid for by toy,
appliance and furniture
manufacturers.  Documents showed
that Nord and the agency’s previous
administrator, Harold Stratton, took
30 trips since 2002 paid for by
industry trade associations including
a trip where Nord visited
China as the guest of the American
Fireworks Standards Laboratory
that cost $11,000.          
it's all true
Traffic : braking news
Press Promotes Politicizing Primaries
Accuracy Not the Objective at CNN
School Buses Ad Up to Private Profits
source: Viroqua
"Well, I'm doing it
right now, see - not
to interrupt you - but
it's called the bully
Washington  DC    10.17.07
verbatim                                                                         number 25.1
A review of media reporting on the
presidential primary has revealed
that news programs have, over the
past six months, focused largely on
“political and tactical” concerns and
spent less time reporting on
substantive matters, such as the
policy positions of the candidates.

The Project for Excellence in
Journalism found that 63 percent of
the campaign stories that were
reviewed focused on strategy and
political tactics.  17 percent of the
stories reviewed were about the
personal backgrounds of candidates
and 15 percent of the stories had to
do with
the candidates' political histories.

The Pew Research Center for the
People and the Press found in a
separate survey that 77 percent
of the media consuming public
wants to see more coverage of
the candidates positions on the

The Pew study also found that a
majority of respondents wanted to
see more coverage of the sources
of candidates' campaign funding
and more about the candidates
who are not "front runners".       
all true
Adults at high literacy level
selected countries
%                      20                      40
The head of the Roman
Catholic Church, Joseph
Ratzinger, recently advised a
convention of pharmacists that
they should withhold
prescribing contraception
medications and other
“immoral” drugs.  Ratzinger
said that Catholic pharmacists
cannot “anaesthetize the
conscience” when it comes to
prescribing RU 480, the
morning after pill, and drugs
prescribed by doctors to assist
terminally ill patients in dying
with dignity.

Ratzinger said that he invited
the federation of pharmacists
to “consider conscientious
objection” to “avoid
collaborating” in supplying
“products that have clearly
immoral aims.”   The Pope also
said that pharmacists are
obliged by faithful
considerations to counsel
patients who seek such
medicines of the moral
consequences of using the
drugs.  The Pope’s call for
pharmacists to discontinue to
provide emergency
contraceptive medications to
patients led the Italian and
Chilean governments to make
public declarations in
opposition to Ratzinger’s
comments.  The Italian Health
Minister said that the pope’s
call for pharmacists to become
conscientious objectors
“should not be taken into
consideration” by Italy’s

Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia
and South Dakota, have
passed laws that allow
pharmacists to refuse to
distribute legal emergency
medications to patients if they
object morally to the use of the
it's all true
The September arrest of 21-year-old
Andrew Meyer at a political event at
the University of Florida, video of
which was uploaded to YouTube, has
focused attention on the use of high-
voltage stun guns by law
enforcement officers on unarmed
subjects. The video shows campus
security personnel discharging a
50,000-volt Taser on the disorderly
youth, despite his plea, ”Don’t Tase
me, bro.” Meyer was not seriously
injured, but civil rights advocates
have condemned the use of Tasers,
which they say have caused at least
277 deaths in the US since 2001.

More than 12,000 US jurisdictions
have adopted the use of stun guns
as a “non-lethal” alternative for use-
of-force situations since Scottsdale,
Arizona-based Taser International
began selling to local police
departments in 1998. A
recent Justice Department report on
Taser safety found that the
overwhelming majority of suspects
who were shocked with the weapons
were uninjured, or suffered mild
injuries. But Amnesty International,
which has advocated a moratorium
on the weapons until their safety can
be studied, renewed its call for a ban
on the use of Tasers by law

Media reports document a steady
stream of Taser-related heart attacks
and deaths, but police investigations
routinely cite mitigating health factors
in concluding that the shocks were
not responsible for causing the
suspects’ deaths. According to
Amnesty International, 80 percent of
Taser victims are unarmed, and their
actions would not justify the use of
deadly force by police
it's all true
Over the past week as the
nomination of Michael Mukasey for
US Attorney General has been
deliberated by the Senate Judiciary
Committee, the definition of the
centuries old interrogation technique
known as waterboarding has been
clarified as several sources have
come forward to describe the
technique and explain how it effects
prisoners who are exposed to the

Although the description confrims
that waterboarding is a brutal
practice that has been dealt with in
the US courts as a criminal act,
Democrats Charles Schumer (NY)
and Diane Feinstein (CA) have
decided to support Mukasey,
enough support to move the
nomination out of committee to be
voted on by the Senate where
Mukasey’s nomination is expected to
be approved.

The committee received a letter
written by a group of former Judge
Advocates General and other military
commanders which stated in
unequivocal terms that  
“waterboarding is inhumane, it is
torture and it is illegal.”  Senator Ted
Kennedy (D-MA) told the senate last
year of a Japanese soldier who used
waterboarding during interrogations
of American prisoners during World
War II and was later tried in US
courts.  Kennedy said  that the
soldier “was sentenced to 15 years
of hard labor.”  
verbatim                                                                               number 24.6
“We must not let
foreign enemies use
the forums of liberty... destroy liberty itself”  
Washington  DC     09.29.02
Also reported was the experience
of Assistant US Attorney General
Daniel Levin who advised the
Bush administration against using
the technique after he submitted
himself to waterboarding
performed by US military

Mukasey refused to testify to the
committee that he believes that
waterboarding is torture and is
therefore illegal.  Legal scholars
have said that if Mukasey
admitted that waterboarding is
torture then, as Attorney General,
he would have to investigate
recent use of the practice by US
military interrogators as a criminal
it's all true
Cable news giant CNN has again
been singled out for criticism by
media watchdog groups, who charge
that the network puts a pro-White
House spin on its coverage of the
administration's occupations of Iraq
and Afghanistan. In an extended
discussion of US troop deaths over
the summer, which aired on
Dobbs Tonight
, two CNN reporters
repeatedly asserted that deaths were
down, despite the fact that the period
from June through August 2007 was
the deadliest summer for  
American soldiers in Iraq since the
2003 invasion. A report by Media
Matters for America highlighted
the error, which was repeated four

CNN has been barraged by
constant  criticism for the
apparent bias of its coverage of
US foreign policy issues, which
some observers say has been
skewed in an attempt to compete
with rival Fox News.     
it's all true
Government officials in South
Carolina are the latest to seek
revenue streams for their
education budget by selling
advertising space to private
corporations, in this case the
interiors of public school
buses. A recent state
government request for
proposals notifies prospective
bidders that the State
Department of Education is
“seeking a Contractor who is
innovative, experienced, and
dynamic” to launch the school
bus advertising initiative. The
document goes on to tout the
value of the target
demographic, noting that the
state operates a fleet of 5025
buses carrying approximately
675,000 children each school

The pilot program has caused
outcry among local parents’ groups
and social welfare advocacy
organizations, which question the
propriety of subjecting public school
students to ads. School districts in at
least six states already allow exterior
advertising on school buses, now
companies are focusing on the
captive audience inside. Advertising
industry analysts say that school-age
children constitute a highly sought-
after media demographic, with a very
high disposable income and a great
deal of influence over the purchasing
patterns of their parents.

Last year, school districts in 11
states began airing commercial radio
broadcasts on school buses with
content specifically aimed at the
passengers. Educational television
programming with ads for corporate
sponsors has been common in US
public elementary school classrooms
since the mid-1990's.            
it's all true
US military airstrikes in Iraq have
risen more than 400 percent this
year, with most of the increase taking
place to coincide with the temporary
troop surge implemented by
President Bush in January. The
bombing runs have intensified
markedly since June, despite a
growing outcry by humanitarian
groups, foreign leaders, and even
the Iraqi government over greatly
increased civilian casualties. Last
month, the United Nations published
its annual human rights report, which
detailed indiscriminate US bombing of
civilian areas in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The day the report was released, a
US airstrike killed 15 Iraqi women and
children at Lake Thar Thar.

According to Pentagon statistics
obtained by
USA Today, the US ran
1140 bombing operations over Iraq in
the first nine months of 2007,
compared with a total of just 229 in
2006. US forces in Afghanistan have
also increased aerial assault
missions, running 2764 through
September after launching 1770 in all
of 2006. According to the newspaper,
the figures do not include strikes by
so-called “helicopter gunships.”

Military spokesmen say that the troop
surge, which led to several large-
scale offensive operations against
suspected insurgents, created a
need for extensive aerial assault
sorties. "You end up having that
many more opportunities for close air
support," Air Force Brigadier General
Stephen Mueller told
USA Today. He
said the attacks were using tactical
weapons "designed to take one
building and not the whole block."

But international observers have
criticized the increased bombing,
with some saying that the
airstrikes are part of a strategy to
reduce US casualties, even at the
risk of more civilian deaths, in an
effort to make the war more
palatable to Americans at home. It
is already official policy within the
Afghan Theatre of operations to
employ air power wherever
possible to reduce total
deployments of ground forces in
the challenging terrain.
Afghanistan President Hamid
Karzai strongly condemned
mounting civilian casualties earlier
this year, after public protests
against the continued US military

In a statement, a spokesman for
the UN mission in Iraq said,
"Civilians are getting caught far
too often between warring
it's all true
CPSC Head Warns of Dangerous Government
Pope Attempts
End Run Around
Modern Medicine
Senate Democrats Use the Rubber Stamp on Mukasey
Explosion in Air Strikes Creates Surge in Civilian
Tasers Trigger Police State of Shock
Contractors Don't
Miss Management
1983                                       1992                                         
Number of
corporations that
own the majority of
US media in decline
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