Saturday, July 29, 2006

OPEN THREAD



"One of these days the people are going to demand peace of the government and the government is going to have to give it to them"
Dwight Eisenhower


mirth




WIND DOWN YOUR DAY WITH THIS

Vivian Green, Emotional Rollercoaster


mirth




A RECAP, FROM BOLIVIA

Democracy In The U.S. : A Very Dirty Business

article here


mirth




"THE CINDERELLA OF U.S. DIPLOMACY AND HER LOST SLIPPER"



read article


mirth




POSTER BOYS


mirth




MEANWHILE, IN IRAQ

What The American Flag Symbolizes For Iraqis

Iraqis 'Abhor" U.S. Rhetoric; See Marines As Worse Than Enemies

Troop Buildup In Baghdad Puts Withdrawals In Doubt

Shia Shrine Destroyed In Iraq

Saddam Trial Ends In Baghdad


mirth




Israel rejects U.N. call for temporary cease-fire

Official says Israel has already opened corridors to allow aid into Lebanon

(AP)

ERUSALEM - Israel on Saturday rejected a request by the U.N. for a three-day cease-fire in Lebanon to deliver humanitarian supplies and allow civilians to leave the war zone.

Avi Pazner, a government spokesman, said Israel already has opened safe corridors across Lebanon for such shipments and that Hezbollah guerrillas were blocking them to create a humanitarian crisis.

“There is no need for a temporary, 72-hour cease-fire because Israel has opened humanitarian corridors to and from and Lebanon,” he told reporters.

more here


Buck




House moves to approve minimum wage increase

Jill Zuckman
Chicago Tribune
(MCT)

WASHINGTON - Anxious to protect vulnerable Republicans facing voters in November, House GOP leaders gave the go-ahead for a vote early Saturday on raising the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour.

But the leadership's decision to combine the legislation with a cut in estate taxes for millionaires sparked an outcry from Democrats, who complained it was a cynical strategy to ensure that the bill never becomes law. The Senate has consistently opposed House efforts to reduce inheritance taxes.

"Unfortunately, what they are bringing to the floor looks more like a political stunt than serious public policy," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., calling the bill a "sham" and "political cover" for "cowards" who refused to allow a vote solely on the minimum wage issue.

full article


Cycling through the old wedge-issue standbys obviously wasn't giving the GOP much momentum going into November. Now it's time to pull out the big guns and give money away... TO THE NON-RICH! Oh the agony.


Buck




Friday, July 28, 2006

ARRESTS AT TROOPS HOME FAST

On the 25th day of a protest fast led by Cindy Sheehan, 4 fasters and 1 supporter of the fast have been arrested for attempting to block the exit of Tony Blair from the White House. The ages of those arrested ranged between 58 and 74. Arrestees said their goal was to keep Tony and George inside until they come up with a plan to end the Iraq occupation.
Video can be found here at truthout.org.


mirth




OPEN THREAD



Mr Uber-Religious Mel Gibson arrested for suspicion of DUI.


mirth




WIND DOWN YOUR DAY WITH THIS

Blue Whale


mirth




CINDY, PREZ VACATION, POLLS


Cindy Sheehan will take her protest back to Crawford, Texas, August 16 - September 2. This year she will not need to rely on charity for a place to stay: with insurance money from her son's death, she has purchased 5 acres of land in Crawford.
"We decided to buy property in Crawford to use until George's resignation or impeachment, which we hope is soon for the sake of the world," she told supporters.
Following her announcement, Prez vacation plans were switched from the last two weeks in August when Cindy will be in Crawford to the first two weeks when she will not be there. While on vacation Bush plans a trip to Pennsylvania to help sinking-fast Rick Santorum.
Interesting read here about presidents and vacations.
There are new polls of Bush's job performance. American Research Group puts his approval rating at 36%. Other polls show similar numbers.


mirth




PUBLIC IN U.K. CALL FOR INQUIRY INTO LEGALITY OF IRAQ WAR


Public Pushes for Investigation of Iraq War
U.K. Court Hearing for November
Published 2006-07-28 18:07 (KST)

A ruling by the U.K. Court of Appeal clears the way for a hearing on whether there can be an inquiry into the events surrounding the start of the Iraq war. The case was brought by families of U.K. soldiers killed in Iraq.

As reported in The Daily Mirror, the families' solicitor Phil Shiner said it was:
"A stunning victory which would force the government to put evidence before the judges to establish whether the decision to invade was lawful. The government must finally explain how the 13-page equivocal advice from the attorney general of March 7, 2003, was changed within 10 days to a one-page unequivocal advice that an invasion would be legal."



Read full article here


Question Girl




RETIRED ADMIRAL TO RESIGN FROM BOARD AFTER SENATORS RAISE QUESTIONS

Ahhhhhh, I say why not fire the guy??? Do something that is clearly wrong and a huge conflict of interest, say you won't do it anymore, and it's all ok. Nice way to operate.



By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 27, 2006; Page D02

The head of a Pentagon-funded research organization that analyzes large weapons systems promised yesterday to resign from the board of a major defense contractor after senators raised questions about a potential conflict of interest.

Retired Adm. Dennis C. Blair, president of the Institute for Defense Analyses, said in letters to Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) and Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.) that he told EDO Corp. he would resign from its board. EDO is a subcontractor for the Air Force's multibillion-dollar F-22 Raptor program, which the institute has evaluated for the Pentagon.


Continue reading here


Question Girl




PENTAGON DENIES BOMB CARRYING FLIGHTS BROKE RULES IN BRITAIN

Not too long ago, Scotland was very pissed about the C.I.A. bringing terror suspects through the Scotland airports on the way to torture spots. Now this..... This administration is totally lawless and do whatever they want, and then deny deny deny.

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The Pentagon denied that chartered flights carrying bunker-busting bombs to Israel through British airports violated procedures.

British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett expressed British displeasure over the flights to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice after they were reported by the Daily Telegraph.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the Defense Department looked into the allegations that procedures were not followed, and found nothing amiss.


Read more here


Question Girl




NEWS YOU DON'T NEED TO KNOW


3 DIE MANY INJURED IN FLORIDA'S LOBSTER MINI SEASON

MARINO PUTS HOUSE ON MARKET FOR A BARGAIN 15 MILLION

PLANS FOR RICHARD WRIGHT CELEBRATION IN PLACE

AUXILARY UNITS SAVE TRUCKERS FUEL AND MONEY

CHICAGO MAKES CUT FOR 2016 OLYMPICS

STILL HOT FOR HOOKAHS

80 YEAR OLD MAN SELLS CRACK FOR SEX

INMATES APPLICATION FOR LIQUOR LICENSE DENIED


Question Girl




TGIF BABY

dire straits sultans of swing live


Question Girl




EXTENDED TOURS FOR 3,500 SOLDIERS IN IRAQ

My heart and prayers go out to these soldiers and all the soldiers in Iraq. They, above anyone, can see things there are getting worse and worse. And I'd think, at this point, they are wondering......what the hell are we doing here? Yesterday, in the east Baghdad neighborhood of Karada, 31 peopled were killed and 153 wounded. The violence is unrelenting.




By Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 28, 2006; Page A21

Defense Department officials announced yesterday that the Army's 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, which has been deployed in Mosul since last summer, will be extended for as long as 120 days to boost security in Baghdad.

The Alaska-based 172nd has been in northern Iraq, which has been relatively peaceful, compared with the most restive areas of the country. But the extension means that about 3,700 troops who had been planning to return home over the next two weeks probably will remain for at least the next six weeks and possibly as long as four months, this time in the most violent area of the country, officials said.


Read more here


Question Girl




COLBERT WITH REP. NORTON

Oh man this guy is good. I like him more and more and more and more

(TheBlueState) Steven Colbert annoys (D) Rep. Norton


Question Girl




ARMITAGE BREAKS RANKS WITH NEOCONS

Richard Armitage dramatically broke ranks with his neoconservative allies yesterday, saying in a radio interview that he feared it was impossible to eliminate Hezbollah through airstrikes, and that by attempting to do so, “you’re going to end up empowering Hezbollah, and perhaps introducing an element into the body politic in Lebanon that will take some great period of time to recover from.” Armitage also criticized the Bush administration for refusing to talk directly to Syria.


Read more and watch video at Think Progress


Question Girl




ADD ECOLOGICAL DAMAGE TO ISRAEL'S OFFENSES


The world better get together and end this. Israel is a country with "boundry issues." They have none. Two soldiers captured, and they destroy a country, as the world sits by and watches.

By Lin Noueihed

BEIRUT, July 27 (Reuters) - Along Lebanon's sandy beaches and rocky headlands runs a belt of black sludge, 10,000 to 30,000 tonnes of oil that spilled into the Mediterranean Sea after Israel bombed a power plant.

Lebanon's Environment Ministry says the oil flooded into the sea when Israeli jets hit storage tanks at the Jiyyeh plant south of Beirut on July 13 and 15, creating an ecological crisis that Lebanon's government has neither the money nor the expertise to deal with.


Full article here


Question Girl




$34.3 BILLION WASTED IN HOMELAND SECURITY

Ad this to the list of "mosts" for this administration. The most wasteful administration in history.


By Nicole Gaouette
Times Staff Writer
Posted July 27 2006


WASHINGTON — Contract spending by the Department of Homeland Security has surged by billions of dollars since the agency's creation in 2003, but contracts have been plagued by large-scale waste, abuse and mismanagement, according to a bipartisan congressional report.

The agency has repeatedly planned contract projects improperly, has increasingly awarded them without adequate competition, and has not had enough staff to monitor contracts after they have been signed, the report said. Moreover, costs have frequently spiraled beyond initial estimates, which department personnel sometimes set misleadingly low, the report said.


Full article here


Question Girl




DETAINEE ABUSE CHARGES FEARED

An obscure law approved by a Republican-controlled Congress a decade ago has made the Bush administration nervous that officials and troops involved in handling detainee matters might be accused of committing war crimes, and prosecuted at some point in U.S. courts.

Senior officials have responded by drafting legislation that would grant U.S. personnel involved in the terrorism fight new protections against prosecution for past violations of the War Crimes Act of 1996. That law criminalizes violations of the Geneva Conventions governing conduct in war and threatens the death penalty if U.S.-held detainees die in custody from abusive treatment.


Read more here


Question Girl




Thursday, July 27, 2006

OPEN THREAD


"The Internet Is Shit"
(click words to advance text)


mirth




WIND DOWN YOUR DAY WITH THIS

"If you want love, then make it"


John Mayer, Your Body Is A Wonderland


mirth




SENATE PANEL DEBATES BOLTON NOMINATION

Democrats on Thursday said they remain opposed to President Bush's pick for U.N. ambassador, contending that John Bolton has not yet repaired his reputation as an ineffective "bully."

Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., cited recent press reports on Bolton's interactions with other U.N. officials as evidence that Bolton "clearly has an aversion in my view to building consensus."

Read more here
Senator Dodds Derides John Bolton


Question Girl




DEMOCRATS

DNC:
Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean chairman
DLC:
Democrat Leadership Council, Tom Vilsack chairman
DCCC:
Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee, Rahm Emanuel chairman
DSCC:
Democrat Senatorial Campaign Committee, Charles Schumer
chairman

Collecting this list, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner came to my mind:
Water Water Everywhere, Nor Any Drop To Drink.

Certainly no one in Congress offers leadership to Democrats who are seething from their inaction - and complicity - while our country disintegrates. Howard Dean seemed our only hope. For me, this hope ended Tuesday.

Howard Dean, speaking to business leaders at a Democrat Professionals Forum in Palm Beach, FL, called the Prime Minister of Iraq, Nauri al-Maliki, an 'anti-Semite' for his condemnation of Israel's attack against Lebanon and for Maliki failing to denounce Hezbollah for its actions against Israel.

These statements by Dean were shallow and inaccurate and played to his audience. Given the opportunity to address Israel's destruction of Lebanese infa-structure and deaths of civilians and UN observers, not to mention displacement of the country's population, instead he spewed the government line of
Hezbollah = Terrorist.
story here

Mr. Dean, you pandering bastard, you are not a leader and from this point forward you will get no support, including actions and donating dollars, from me.

So, question of the day:
With the November elections approaching and those in 2008 on the horizon, where is the Democrat Party leadership?


mirth




LEO WANTA AND THE 4.5 TRILLION DOLLAR STORY THE GOVERNMENT DOESN'T WANT YOU TO HEAR

This is a very complicated story, and I'm a very simple woman. Rather than try and explain the whole thing myself, I'm going to supply links and you can read and listen to this amazing story. The question is, why is the U.S. and the Federal Reserve keeping these funds from going back to the American people? The story starts with President Regan and a group of men, Leo Wanta included, coming up with a plan to make money to fund projects, apprenticeship programs, etc. It ends with 4.5 trillion dollars sitting in a bank in Virgina waiting to be given back to the American people. What happens in between is fascinating. Why the media is not reporting on this is anyone's guess. So...here goes..... please take the time to read and listen to the following. It's time to start calling our congressmen/women and asking them why nothing is being done about this and why the American people are hearing nothing about it.
A huge thank you to Celestine Profit(name of the day) for his links and information.


The corrupt Federal Reserve Board is now standing in the way of 1.575trillion in repatriated offshore funds earmarked for the U.S. Treasury in what is now being called in worldwide financial circles as the *Wanta Plan*.

An agreement was reached June 12 between U.S. authorities and Wanta, the legal trustor of more than 27.5 trillion in lost or stolen U.S. assets from the Cold War era, to return 4.5 trillion of the looted money by the Bush and Clinton crime families, less money for taxes and other related expenses.


Continue reading here

By Greg Szymanski



Michael C. Cottrell, treasurer of the AmeriTrust Groupe, Inc., verified all previous statements made by former Ambassador Leo Wanta concerning the $4.5 trillion dollar settlement earmarked for the American people and being illegally withheld in a Bank of America account in Richmond, Va., by President George W. Bush and the Federal Reserve Board.



"There's no going back on the deal now. The money for the American people is in a Bank of America account," said Cottrell in an extended telephone conversation with the Arctic Beacon Wednesday. "I know the U.S. Treasury is working on getting the money released as the banks are getting nervous. But I don't think it will happen until July 31."


Read more here

The Federal Reserve Board, a private corporation owned mainly by foreign interests dominated by Germany, is today blocking the transfer of $4.5 trillion of repatriated offshore funds that were transferred to the United States in May and June 2006, in fulfillment of an agreement reached last year between the US authorities and the US financial engineering genius, Leo Wanta, which would transform the financial position of the US Treasury, the US economy, and the American people.


Read more here

Listen to the Leo Wanta inteview here


Question Girl




A president, not a king

Seattle Times Editorial

In five and a half years in office, President George W. Bush has lodged more "signing statements" — or challenges to provisions of laws passed by Congress — than all 42 previous presidents combined.

Numbers don't lie. Bush is overusing a tool relied on occasionally throughout history to lay down legal objections in case of subsequent court challenges and to instruct agencies how to execute new laws. The imperial president has a more pernicious approach. He uses signing statements to expand his powers and cherry-pick laws he likes — or doesn't like. The president must be reined in because his actions display a disregard for the Constitution's system of checks and balances.

No president, Republican or Democrat, should be allowed to expand his powers by mere assertion, at the expense of the Congress, the courts and the American public.

full article...


Well I'm sure (shortly before) we get a Democrat back into office, the abuse of signing statements will be a thing of the past. Can't have a tit for tat now can we?


Buck




WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE......


SHELL SECOND QUARTER PROFITS UP 40%

CONOCO PHILLIPS SECOND QUARTER PROFITS UP 2/3

EXXON MOBILE SECOND QUARTER PROFITS JUMP 36%

BP SECOND QUARTER PROFITS SURGE 30%


Question Girl




Senate's Gulf drilling bill might soon pass

LESLEY CLARK
Herald Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - A measure to open a sprawling, gas-rich area of the Gulf of Mexico to drilling appears close to passage in the Senate, despite opposition from senators who fear the move will give the House leverage to erode coastal protections that have barred drilling off Florida's coastline since 1981.

The Senate voted 86 to 12 Wednesday to begin debate on the measure, a procedural move, but one that suggested widespread support for the bill, boosted by its supporters as a way to cap soaring energy costs.

full article...


Par for the course. The people lining their pockets from all the oil production will be able to vacation on distant (clean) beaches. Tourism ranks extremely high for Florida. I wonder what Jeb thinks of this? Oh wait, his 'tour of duty' is about up isn't it...


Buck




COLBERT MOCKS FAIR TRIALS

Thanks to BlueState.com for his great videos!!

(TheBlueState.com) Colbert mocks advocates of fair trials

We can't give these guys fair trials....they may be found innocent.....


Question Girl




Wednesday, July 26, 2006

SENATE: HOW MUCH LEEWAY FOR BUSH?

I heard about this on Lou Dobbs last night, and Batocchio mentioned it on another thread. It will be interesting to see what happens with this. How much leeway? I'm guessing it's going to be tooooo much.

WASHINGTON – Two weeks after the Supreme Court rejected the Bush administration's system for prosecuting war-on-terror detainees, congressional lawmakers are sharply divided over a plan to replace it.
In dramatic testimony in Congress this week, administration officials signaled that - even if Congress speaks with one voice in revamping the Bush plan for military commissions - the president and the Pentagon don't need lawmakers' advice.


Continue reading here


Question Girl




ISRAELIS IGNORED REPEATED WARNINGS BEFORE U.N. OBSERVERS KILLED

This was no mistake. George Bush refusing to call for a cease fire is no mistake. The world is outraged. Why aren't Americans outraged? Are we the stupidest people on the face of the earth?


U.N. observers in southern Lebanon called the Israeli military 10 times during a six-hour period to ask it to halt an airstrike before their observation post was hit, according to details of a preliminary U.N. report on the incident. Four U.N. observers were killed in the bombing Tuesday.

During each phone call, an Israeli official promised to halt the bombing, according to a U.N. official who had seen the preliminary report, which was released to The Associated Press on Wednesday.


Read the full article here


Question Girl




REP. KUCINICH RESOLUTION FOR BUSH TO CALL FOR IMMEDIATE CEASE FIRE

Nice to see there's someone with a brain in Washington. If you agree with Rep. Kucinich, I'd suggest you call your Representatives tomorrow and insist they support this bill.

On Capitol Hill 24 members of the House of Representatives have backed Rep. Kucinich’s resolution calling on the president to appeal to all sides in the current crisis for an immediate cessation of violence. [includes rush transcript]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
As the Israeli attacks on Lebanon enter its third week, pressure is growing on the Bush administration to back an immediate ceasefire. On Capitol Hill 24 members of the House of Representatives have backed a resolution calling on the president to appeal to all sides in the current crisis for an immediate cessation of violence. The resolution also calls for the United States to send diplomats to multi-party negotiations. The author of the resolution is Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio.


Read full transcript of Rep. Kucinich's interview with Amy Goodman


Question Girl




OPEN THREAD


You say you want a Rev o lu tion?
Well, you know....

Zombie, The Cranberries


mirth




WIND DOWN YOUR DAY WITH THIS

James Taylor & Alison Krauss
How's The World Treating You


mirth




FEMA BARS UN-ESCORTED INTERVIEWS

FEMA has ruled that Katrina-displaced citizens living in temporary FEMA trailers may not speak to reporters unless a federal official is present during the interview.
"If a resident invites the media to the trailer, they have to be escorted by a FEMA representative who sits in on the interview. That's just policy," says FEMA spokeswoman Rachel Rodi.
This statement followed two incidents at a FEMA trailer park in Morgan City, Louisiana. In the first one, a resident invited a reporter to her temporary home and security ordered the reporter off the property. In the second incident, a woman speaking to a reporter through a chain-link fence was ordered by security to return to her trailer.
read article here

To cool down from that, here is something fun:
Birthday Calculator
According to it, I was conceived on a Wednesday, born in the Egyptian month of Tyby, the Chinese year of the Monkey, in the Native American zodiac sign of Snake, and the candles on my next birthday cake will produce 9,576 calories of heat.


mirth




Senate OKs Curb on Interstate Abortions for Minors

The Republican-backed bill criminalizes travel to evade parental consent. Rights advocates say it's fuel for rallying supporters.
Noam N. Levey, Times Staff Writer
July 26, 2006

WASHINGTON — Acting to further chip away at abortion rights ahead of the fall congressional elections, Senate Republicans on Tuesday pushed through legislation making it a federal crime to evade parental consent laws by taking minors across state lines for abortions.

The 65-34 Senate vote — which came just a week after a controversial bill on stem cell research divided several leading Republicans from their anti-abortion base — gave the party another plank for its "values" agenda.


full article

Am I missing something here? I know I'm supposed to be looking at the big picture... how the right-wing nut-jobs are hacking away at abortion rights. But it seems to me that this is a given. (Both) parents should have full say in matters relating to their children, period! I thought taking someone's child across state lines without permission was already a crime. Am I wrong here?


Buck




DISSENT GROWS IN ISRAEL OVER LEBANON

Ian Black in Jerusalem
Wednesday July 26, 2006
The Guardian

The government of the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, is facing a barrage of criticism over its handling of the war in Lebanon, with questions being raised about the decision to attack Hizbullah, mounting military losses, continuing missile strikes on northern Israel, and disquiet about Lebanese civilian casualties.


Full article here

Sound familiar?


Question Girl




NEWS YOU DON'T NEED TO KNOW


EX HACKER GOES LEGIT

WASHINGTON STATE SUPREME COURT TO RULE ON GAY MARRIAGE TODAY
Well, we do need to know this.

U.S. BOMBERS TO PRACTICE IN AUSTRALIA THIS WEEK
Israel's bombers shoud have practiced!!

LAP DANCE TAXES MAKE MAN LEAVE STATE

HIGH WINDS, STRONG WAVES SINK GIRLS GOALS
I learned to swim in Lake Erie.....and lived to tell about it!

NAZI ARCHIVES TO BE OPENED

RUBBER SIDEWALKS EASIER ON JOINTS
My knees wish they had these all those years I ran!


Question Girl




WE'RE HAVING A HEATWAVE......


By Randal C. Archibold
The New York Times
Posted July 25 2006


LOS ANGELES · Days of tropical heat and humidity have driven demand for electricity to record highs in California and other states. If people can't take the weather anymore, neither could transformers and other equipment, which sputtered and shorted out and left tens of thousands of people without power.

Authorities issued a warning Monday that the high demand could lead to rolling blackouts, a dreaded term in California that brings reminders of widespread blackouts in 2000 and 2001 during an energy supply crisis.


Full article here

Tell me why it is we pay the utility bills that we do, and we have an "energy supply crisis" at all???? Does not compute.....


Question Girl




FBI PAID CLOSE TO 56K TO MIAMI SEVEN INFORMANTS

By Madeline Baró Diaz
and Vanessa Blum Miami Bureau
Posted July 26 2006


The FBI paid almost $56,000 to two confidential informants who are key to the case against seven men accused of being involved in a terrorist plot to blow up the Sears Tower and other targets.

According to a document filed by federal prosecutors, the FBI paid one unnamed informant $10,500 and an additional $8,815 in expenses. They also paid a second informant $17,000 with another $19,570 for expenses. U.S. officials also granted the second informant a "significant public benefit" -- immigration parole so he could remain in the country.


Read more here


Question Girl




JUDGE DISMISSES PHONE RECORDS LAWSUIT

Staff and agencies
25 July, 2006




By MIKE ROBINSON, Associated Press Writer 42 minutes ago

CHICAGO - Citing national security, a federal judge Tuesday threw out a lawsuit aimed at blocking AT&T from giving telephone records to the government for use in the war on terror.

Kennelly ruled in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois on behalf of author Studs Terkel and other activists who said their constitutional rights were violated because of a National Security Agency program of gathering phone company records.

The ACLU argued that the practice was no longer secret, because numerous news reports had made it clear that phone records had been given to the agency.

He also said Terkel and the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which sought class-action status, had not shown that their own records had been provided to the government. As a result, they lacked standing to sue the government, he said.


Story Link

How can they show that their own records had been provided to the government, if the government won't allow the phone company to tell them if they had been? Well, bend over and kiss your rights good bye Americans...... thanks for giving it a go Studs!!


Question Girl




FAMILY LOSES ONE SON IN IRAQ, THE OTHER IN AFGHANISTAN

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) _ When Army Pfc. Andrew Velez's older brother was killed in Iraq almost two years ago, the Lubbock man escorted the soldier's body home.
On Tuesday, the Velez family learned Andrew had been killed in Afghanistan.

Roy Velez, the soldiers' father, said military personnel came to his home to notify him that Andrew, 22 and a father of three, had been killed in Afghanistan. They did not provide details of how he died.


Full article here

My deepest sympathies go out to the Velez family.


Question Girl




Tuesday, July 25, 2006

OPEN THREAD



p e a c e . p a c e . p a z

the state prevailing during absence of war
harmonious relations
freedom from disputes
prime virtue
inner tranquility
basil.cumin.frankincense.rose.valerian
8th Eurythmics album


mirth




FOUR U.N. WORKERS KILLED AT OUTPOST BY ISRAELI AIR STRIKE

Beirut (dpa) - Israeli warplanes hit a United Nations observation post during a raid late Tuesday in southern Lebanon, killing four observers, Lebanese police said.

The post was hit in the town of Khiam, a Hezbollah stronghold.

"At least four UN observers were killed," a Lebanese police official said.

Lebanese police said that more casualties were "still under the rubble."

Earlier, UN Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) spokesman Milos Struger said that there were 14 casualties at the UN post.

"An air bombardment hit directly a building of UN observers, which is a house and a shelter, in Khiam," said Struger.


Read more here

This keeps getting uglier and uglier. Kofi Annan believes this was a deliberate attack on Israel's part. And the U.S. sits by quietly....


Question Girl




WIND DOWN YOUR DAY WITH THIS

Sumpthin' different....kinda sexy....classical

Gymnopedie No. 1



mirth




THE NOVEMBER ELECTIONS

All 435 seats in the House Of Representatives are up for grabs; Democrats need to retain seats and win an additional 15 for control. In the Senate, an additional 6 seat wins are needed for control.
info here

The US population is expected to reach 300 million by October of this year. A list of all the states, their population, their number of House seats, and the number of electoral votes assigned to each can be found here.

The United States Congress is a maze of Standing Committees, Sub Committees, Special Committees, Select Committees, Joint Committees.
The list of House Committees can be found here.
The list of Senate Committees can be found here.

Extensive information about the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of our government can be found here.

The November elections are crucial.
If the Democrats regain control of Congress, a sampling of the changes in the various committees from Republican leadership to Democrat leadership are:
Defense:
Bill Young > John Murtha
Homeland Security:
Harold Rogers > Martin Sabo
Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities:
Jim Saxon > Marty Meehan
Education Reform:
Michael Castle > Lynn Woolsey
Telecommunications and the Internet:
Fred Upton > Edward Markey
Government Reform:
Tom Davis > Henry Waxman
International Relations:
Henry Hyde > Tom Lantos
Judiciary:
James Sensenbrenner > John Conyers
Rules:
David Dreier > Louise Slaughter
Standards of Official Conduct:
Doc Hastings > Alan Mollohan

A more complete listing of committee changes from Republican to Democrat can be found above on the House and Senate links.

An excellent post by BruinKid about the importance of the November elections can be found at Daily Kos here.


mirth




Hillary Clinton: 'It's the American dream, stupid'

Says Dems should rally around 'middle class values agenda'

Sasha Johnson
CNN Washington Bureau
Tuesday, July 25, 2006

DENVER, Colorado (CNN) -- Wary of losing an opportunity to regain control of Congress this fall, some Democrats are hoping a return to the "middle class values agenda" will help focus the party's fall message and capitalize on a tough political environment for Republicans.

"America needs to work for everyone, not just the privileged and the powerful," Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday at the Democratic Leadership Council's 10th annual "National Conversation" in Denver. "Democrats can be the change agents our country needs."


Full article

Good luck with that, Hillary. Many democrats don't like your pro-war stance.


Buck




THE DRUZE


By Jonathan Finer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, July 25, 2006; Page A08

MAJDAL SHAMS, Golan Heights, July 24 Monday morning, a hand-painted banner flew in the main square of Majdal Shams, the largest Druze community in this hilly region, with an unusual message for Israeli-governed territory:

Monday evening, an all-Druze company of Israeli soldiers painted their faces black and green, shouldered their rifles and walked into battle with Hezbollah near Avivim, the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting of the current conflict.



Read more about the Druze here

I heard the Druze mentioned on the news last night, and was curious about them. Thought I'd share the info with you...


Question Girl




ABA SPEAKS ABOUT ILLEGAL WIRETAPPING

Quick History Lesson on Wiretapping Abuse


The ABA is no liberal organization. I hope a lawsuit comes out of their findings. Someone needs to take this administration down!!!


Question Girl




FREQUENT FLYER MILES EXPOSE CIA KIDNAP OPERATION

Chicago Tribune senior correspondent
Posted July 24 2006, 8:57 AM EDT

WASHINGTON -- The man and woman were pretending to be American business executives on international assignments, so they did what globe-trotting executives do. While traveling abroad they used their frequent-flier cards as often as possible to gain credits toward free flights.

In fact, the pair were covert operatives working for the CIA. Thanks to their diligent use of frequent-flier programs, Italian prosecutors have been able to reconstruct much of their itinerary during 2003, including trips to Brussels, Venice, London, Vienna and Oslo.


Read the rest here


Brilliant!


Question Girl




WAR IN CONGO KILLING 600 CHILDREN PER DAY

By Sarah Ball
The Associated Press
Posted July 25 2006


LONDON · More than 600 children die every day in war-ravaged Congo and even more are displaced, sexually abused or swept into the camps of combatant groups, a UNICEF report said Monday.

The report appears less than a week before the country's first democratic elections in more than 40 years, which UNICEF ambassador Martin Bell said could offer some hope to the country's child victims.



Continue reading here


Question Girl




VIOLATION OF HUMANITARIAN LAWS

UN Representative Shocked by Scene of Devastation in Beirut
By Foreign News Desk
Monday, July 24, 2006
zaman.com


Lebanese citizens are living in desperate conditions under Israeli aggression.

UN Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland was appalled by the destruction Israeli attacks have caused in Beirut’s suburbs.

“It is horrific. I didn‘t know it was block after block of houses,” Mr. Egeland said as he toured Haret Hreik neighborhood.

Mr. Egeland referred to the Israeli bombardment as “a violation of humanitarian laws.”

Continue reading here

Yesterday I heard they are bombing hospitals, ambulances..... this is wrong wrong wrong and something needs to be done about it.


Question Girl




BUSH "HELPS" WOUNDED SOLDIER BECOME U.S. CITIZEN

By Richard Sisk

New York Daily News

(MCT)

WASHINGTON - President Bush paid tribute Monday to a badly wounded soldier with the Brooklyn brass to get in his commander in chief's face about becoming a citizen.

"He grabbed my hand, and he said, `I'm not a citizen of the U.S. and I want to be one,'" Bush said of Army Spec. Noe (Lito) Santos-Dilone.

"Now, here's a man who knows how to take it directly to the top," Bush said with a grin.

Bush later presided at the swearing-in ceremony for Santos, 21, originally from the Dominican Republic, and Mexican-born soldiers Spec. Sergio Lopez, 24, of Bolingbrook, Ill., and Pfc. Eduardo Leal-Cardenas, 21, of Los Angeles, at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Speaking later from a hospital bed, where he was being treated for his wounds, Santos recalled his friendly confrontation with Bush after the president spoke to the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast in May.


Read on here

This makes me sick. In years past, the recruiters have been known to go into Mexico and draft kids with the promise of citizenship. I suppose they just do it here in the United States, now. Citizenship, if you live. Citizenship with all your limbs? Ahhhh...maybe, maybe not. Again, the unfortunate, the disadvantaged, the underprivledged fighting the rich man's war. Makes me sick.


Question Girl




BACK IN THE BLOGGIN SADDLE TODAY

Back In The Saddle

Trouble with the blog yesterday, but we're back in the saddle today!


Question Girl




Monday, July 24, 2006

OPEN THREAD

Peace is not an absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.
Spinoza


mirth




CONYERS VS. BUSH

Conyers v. Bush


I wanted to update you on the lawsuit I have filed against George W. Bush and members of his administration, referred to in legal parlance as Conyers v. Bush.

You are likely familiar with a number of steps I have taken to challenge the legality and constitutional grounds of the Administration's actions. From the lead up to Iraq, to the Downing Street Minutes, to the outing of a CIA agent, to warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens, I have called loudly for the Bush White House to explain itself.

I decided to file suit against the President in Federal Court in Michigan, along with 11 Senior Democratic Members of Congress. This suit was necessary because of a clear violation of the constitution. When the President signed the Deficit Reduction Act (which "reduced" the deficit by cutting taxes, health care benefits, and student loans), he signed into law a bill that had not passed the House and Senate. A different version of the bill passed each house of Congress with a multi-billion dollar difference in funding for life-saving medical equipment.

Anyone who ever watched Schoolhouse Rock knows this to be a problem.

Given the stakes involved I felt it was imperative to aggressively take this fight to the courts. The President's lawyers tried to get the bill dismissed, but late last week I responded with legal filings that stand up for the rule of law and the Constitution and hope to bring the President, and our United States government, back under the rule of law.

I wanted to email you this news today to update you on our efforts and to thank you for your help and support. Thank you also for your continued dedication to a better democracy.

Sincerely,



John Conyers, Jr.


John Conyers website

This is an email I received today. I thank John Conyers for his efforts and totally support him.


Question Girl




BOLTON ON PRESS THE MEAT

Russert and Bolten

Let Israel hit Syria....oh nice. very nice.


Question Girl




WIND DOWN YOUR DAY WITH THIS

James Taylor, Copperline


mirth




SISTAS ARE DOIN' IT FOR THEMSELVES

Feminists In Jackson Outnumber Operation Save America

Pastor Phillip "Flip" Benham got Jesus when he was 27. Seated under the vaulted ceiling of a cavernous church that used to be an amusement park in Jackson, Mississippi, Benham explains that he went from days of drinking, gambling and owning a saloon to attending seminary college, and finally to leading Operation Save America, formerly known as Operation Rescue.
Operation Save America has called for a week-long protest of the Jackson Women's Health Organization, the last abortion clinic in Mississippi. They have come with a strong belief in Jesus, a fear of feminism, and six-foot photos of fetuses.
Sarah Olson


read full article


mirth




LAS VEGAS

Feeding Homeless Outlawed
ACLU Calls Measure Unenforceable

This story is copyrighted, so you have to go here to read it.


mirth




PAGING DR. FREUD


mirth




DELAY'S ARMPAC TO VOLUNTARILY DISBAND

CREW FEC COMPLAINT AGAINST REP. DELAY PAC – ARMPAC – RESULTS IN $115,000 FINE

One of Largest Fines in FEC History

Washington, DC – Last night, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) released a conciliation agreement reached with Americans for a Republican Majority political action committee (ARMPAC) stemming from a complaint Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed against the PAC last August. As a result of CREW's FEC complaint, ARMPAC has agreed to pay a $115,000 civil penalty and go out of business. ARMPAC was created and led by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX).


Continue reading here

Gotta love those Citizens for Responsiblity and Ethics in Washington!!!


Question Girl




ISRAEL INFLICTING DELIBERATE COLLATERAL CASUALTIES, ACCORDING TO FORMER U.S. OFFICIAL WAYNE WHITE

White was asked, "Will there be any negative consequences resulting from the administration's relatively passive diplomacy?"


"Very much so. As I have noted, the Israelis have embarked on a campaign that will most likely make matters worse over the long term. This crisis will further erode the United States' credibility in the Middle East—and beyond. Despite clearly siding with Israel, Washington used to be regarded as a party quite often useful for intercession with the Israelis, but in this case the Bush Administration has seemingly given Israel a blank check to do whatever it wants for as long as it wants..." White further notes here that "By the end of the crisis, the cost of rebuilding Lebanon will be incredibly high and the rebuilding effort quite prolonged, leaving most Lebanese, aside perhaps from the hard-core Christian right, considerably more hostile to Israel—and the United States—than ever before. In this respect, I find scenes of devastated Lebanese urban areas not only appalling, but frightening."


Read the full article here


Question Girl




A STORY OF ONE VILLAGE

Conversations With Refugees In Baysour, Mount Lebanon
Malak Khaled

Baysour is a small village in Mount Lebanon. Its area is around 6 square-km, just 20 km away from Beirut. The village is not considered to be touristic, but this July, unusually, it is over loaded with 2000 visitors. Yet, this number is not of tourists, it is of the refugees coming from the South and the southern suburb of Beirut.
The village has only 1800 houses for its 9000 dwellers, and it has opened all its doors to host the refugees that increase daily. The secondary school of the village, the center of the popular cultural and sportive committee of Baysour, and another newly opened center have all opened to absorb the growing number of refugees. The municipality itself is a center to register the refugees and distribute them into hosting homes. A very touching decision was made since the first day of the Israeli attack on Lebanon: No one in the village is allowed to rent their property to the refugees. All the refugees shall be hosted, and none will pay a penny. The head of the municipality, Amin Mlaayeb tells us, “We are not blackmailing our people; we are supporting their sommoud (fortitude) in the way we can.”


read more


mirth




Bruce Springsteen & Chuck Berry - Johnny be good (Live)

Let's rock this place..... Gooooood Monday morning!!


Question Girl




MALIKI INSISTS IRAQ WILL NOT SLIDE INTO CIVIL WAR



By Peter Graff
Reuters
Monday, July 24, 2006; 7:04 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Monday his country will not slide into civil war, but acknowledged that mounting sectarian violence is now killing 100 civilians a day.

Three huge bombs killed at least 62 people in Baghdad and Kirkuk on the eve of Maliki's first trip to the West since being named prime minister three months ago in a unity government.


Go here to continue reading.

Earth to Maliki Earth to Maliki....you're already there!!!

Image from Zen Comics


Question Girl




CONDI MAKES SUPRISE VISIT TO LEBANON

Kathy Gannon, Associated Press

SIDON, Lebanon — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a surprise visit to Lebanon today to launch diplomatic efforts aimed at ending 13 days of warfare, as Israeli ground forces pushed deeper into the country in heavy fighting with Hezbollah guerrillas.


Continue reading here.

I kept wondering why on earth she wouldn't be visiting Lebanon. This administration is really into "surprise" visits. It will be interesting to see what comes out of Condi's latest trip, other than some new shoes. Camel skin coat, perhaps?


Question Girl




NEWS YOU DON'T NEED TO KNOW


ICE FROM AIRPLANE SLAMS INTO ILLINOIS HOME

WHAT'S THAT GUNK ON MY HOUSE?

GET AN EMAIL THAT YOUR LOAD IS DONE!!

SUNKEN OCEAN LINER STILL CLAIMING LIFES

WELCOME TO CLIMAX

MYSTERY ILLNESS...MORGELLONS DISEASE

TEXAS MAN NEW ERNEST HEMINGWAY


Question Girl




Consequences sought for Con Ed in blackout

KAREN MATTHEWS, (AP)

NEW YORK — With thousands of city residents facing their second week without power, some political leaders turned their focus to the utility they said was at fault in the outage.

City Councilman Eric Gioia, a Queens Democrat, called for Consolidated Edison to make restitution to residents and argued that Con Ed CEO Kevin Burke should resign over his handling of the Queens blackout, which at its height affected an estimated 100,000 people.

"When the lights went out, that was just the tip of the iceberg," Gioia said. "Since then, Con Ed has misled the public about the severity of the situation, failed to grasp that we are in a crisis and shown no plan to put the power back on and ensure the health and safety of people in Queens."

Full Article

Sound familiar? Think 'Katrina'. Think slow Federal response. It's getting harder to differentiate our government from big business.


Buck




BAR ASSOCIATION PANEL CRITICIZES PRESIDENT'S SIGNING STATEMENTS


Does anyone think he cares????


Bush's Tactic of Refusing Laws Is Probed
Bar Association Panel Criticizes President's Many Challenges to Legislation

By Michael Abramowitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 24, 2006; Page A05

A panel of legal scholars and lawyers assembled by the American Bar Association is sharply criticizing the use of "signing statements" by President Bush that assert his right to ignore or not enforce laws passed by Congress.

In a report to be issued today, the ABA task force said that Bush has lodged more challenges to provisions of laws than all previous presidents combined.


Read more here


Question Girl




Sunday, July 23, 2006

OPEN THREAD


Lots of talk here and there about free speech in blog thread comments.
What's your opinion?

The candle picture comes from a myspace.com peace effort. It was sent to me by a commenter, lafin gas, and I return to him a Big Thank You.


mirth




TEL AVIV: THOUSANDS RALLY AGAINST WAR

Thousands march in Tel Aviv to protest Lebanon fighting, call on soldiers to refuse taking part in war. Clashes with passersby erupt during event, activists called 'traitors.'
Attila Somfalvi
ynetnews.com


read more

Scroll down to read the comments on this article.


mirth




CIVIL RIGHTS HIRING SHIFTED IN BUSH ERA

The Bush administration is quietly remaking the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, filling the permanent ranks with lawyers who have strong conservative credentials but little experience in civil rights, according to job application materials obtained by the Globe.
Charlie Savage
Boston Globe

read more


mirth




LEADERS WANT DISASTER LABEL FOR NYC

NEW YORK (AP) -- A group of political leaders urged Gov. George Pataki on Sunday to designate a section of the city suffering from a prolonged power failure a disaster area, making it eligible for federal aid.
"Anywhere else it would be," Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., said at a news conference in the borough of Queens, which officials often complain is overlooked. "If this were an area of 100,000 people in upstate New York, the governor would have declared it a disaster area.
Service to an estimated 25,000 customers failed during the heat wave last week. Figuring an average of four people to a household, officials estimated about 100,000 people were affected.
Karen Matthews
Associated Press

read more


mirth




RICE SEES BOMBS AS BIRTH PANGS

Condoleezza Rice has described the plight of Lebanon as a part of the "birth pangs of a new Middle East" and said that Israel should ignore calls for a ceasefire.
"This is a different Middle East. It's a new Middle East. It's hard, We're going through a very violent time," the US secretary of state said.
"A ceasefire would be a false promise if it simply returns us to the status quo.
"Such a step would allow terrorists to launch attacks at the time and terms of their choosing and to threaten innocent people, Arab and Israeli, throughout the region."
Aljazeera.net

read more


mirth




Saddam Hospitalized, 'Unstable' Because Of Hunger Strike

Bassem Mroue
AP - July 23, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq-- Saddam Hussein was hospitalized Sunday on the 17th day of a hunger strike, the chief prosecutor in his trial said.

Jaafar al-Moussawi said he visited the prison Sunday where Saddam and the seven other co-defendants are held and was told that the ex-president's health "is unstable because of the hunger strike."

"We took him to hospital and he is being currently fed by a tube," al-Moussawi told The Associated Press. He refused to identify the hospital.

Asked if Saddam's health had improved, al-Moussawi replied: "No, it is not stable yet."

Saddam and three others--presumed to be co-defendants Barzan Ibrahim, Taha Yassin Ramadan and Awad al-Bandar--have been refusing food since dinner on July 7 to protest the Iraqi High Tribunal procedures and security for their defense attorneys, three of whom have been slain.

The action was launched after the June 21 slaying of Khamis al-Obeidi, the third member of the defense team to be assassinated since the trial began in October. The defense team has blamed Shiite militiamen for al-Obeidi's death.

In a letter to the court, the defense said it wanted U.S. authorities to provide security for the lawyers and their families. It also demanded a 45-day recess to allow it to prepare closing statements and a promise from the court that it would be allowed to take as long as it wishes to present its final arguments.

Court spokesman Raid Juhi said the defense had rejected an offer of the same security precaution given to the judges and prosecution lawyers: residence inside the Green Zone, the fortified Baghdad neighborhood where the court is located.

Saddam and the others are charged in a crackdown on Shiites in the town of Dujail following a 1982 assassination attempt against the Iraqi leader.

Saddam also is set to go on trial Aug. 21 for the 1980s crackdown on the Kurds.


Story Link

-Buck


Buck




Democrats May Shift Nevada, S.C. Primaries

Judy Pasternak
Los Angeles Times
July 23, 2006

WASHINGTON — Democrats should add Nevada and South Carolina to their early primary schedule to pick a 2008 presidential nominee, a party committee decided Saturday.

The decision, signaling a push to contest Republicans in newly developing battlegrounds in the West and South, must be ratified by the full Democratic National Committee to take effect. That committee meets Aug. 19 in Chicago.

The changes are meant to add ethnic and regional diversity to a candidate-selection process that has long been dominated by the contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, states that are more than 90% white. The new calendar would jam four contests into a 15-day span in January, affecting fundraising, travel and the dynamics of the race.

Iowa's caucus would remain the first test of the Democratic primary campaign, to be held Jan. 14, 2008, followed by a Nevada caucus five days later. New Hampshire would continue to hold the first Democratic primary election, on Jan. 22, with South Carolina's nominating election coming seven days later.

All other states could schedule their nominating processes for after Feb. 5.

The new calendar is aimed as much at the general election as at the primaries. Democrats are hoping they can generate excitement and test campaign messages that will reverse the razor-thin margins that Republicans won in Nevada and South Carolina in the last two elections, as well as affect neighboring states.

"What we did today was to create a process that means a candidate will not be going just to the traditional states, but going to states where they'll talk about problems that are more representative of our great country," said Donna Brazile, a member of the calendar-setting committee who managed Al Gore's presidential campaign in 2000.

A Nevada caucus, for example, "helps all Western states," said Rebecca Lambe, a senior advisor to the Nevada Democratic Party. "The issues will be Western issues. It's water. It's immigration reform. It's land use."

Still, there were signs that some potential candidates were not pleased. Harold M. Ickes, a committee member with close ties to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), objected to South Carolina's inclusion because it borders the home state of former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.). Edwards, the party's 2004 vice presidential nominee, has been traveling the early campaign circuit with an eye toward 2008.

At least six possible contestants for the Democratic nomination — including Clinton — have already been to South Carolina, Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) said. The state's Democratic Party chairman, Joe Erwin, called Ickes' concerns about an Edwards edge "hogwash," and added, "South Carolina will represent a great opportunity for someone who wins in Iowa, Nevada or New Hampshire."

If the new calendar is adopted, moving more states to earlier spots in the voting process, candidates will face pressure to raise more money faster, to organize on more fronts and to schedule more visits to more states.

As the committee voted, there were predictions that the front-loading could produce a nominee by early February, leaving voters in many states with no meaningful role in the process.

Critics said that the turbo-charged process could prove fatal for candidates who stumbled, and that it would provide little room for "voters' remorse."

"I think there will be a lot of people who wake up on Feb. 5 and say, 'The Democrats have a nominee, and I never got to vote.' They created it to give more people a say in the process, but more people will feel they've had no say," said Kathleen Sullivan, who heads the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

New Hampshire may be heading for a confrontation over its assigned date because a law there requires the secretary of state to schedule the primary at least a week before any "similar election." The new calendar puts New Hampshire three days after Nevada's caucus.

Complaints also came from Midwestern industrial states that played crucial roles in the last two presidential elections.

"I think we could be making a big mistake," said committee member Mark Brewer of Michigan. "Look at all the electoral votes in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri. We can't afford to have a nominee who's untested in those states."


Story Link

Lewis Black, comedian, once stated; "Republicans come up with bad ideas. Democrats can make them shittier."

-Buck


Buck




Despite Bush Veto, Stem Cell Research Abounds

Kerry A. Dolan
Forbes

BURLINGAME, CALIF. -

Never mind Wednesday's presidential veto on expanded federal funding of stem cell lines. Stem cell research is alive and well at a host of small companies and academic laboratories in the United States.

In Irvine, Calif., a tiny company called PrimeCell Therapeutics has taken adult stem cells found in testes, reprogrammed them, and created human heart, brain, bone and cartilage cells. This marks a breakthrough in developing what are known as "pluripotent" adult stem cells–cells that can be turned into most other cell types. That pluripotent ability, and the fact that stem cells self-renew, is the main attraction of stem cells from human embryos. One challenge with embryonic stem cells, however, is preventing them from creating tumor cells. So far, the PrimeCell researchers have been able to reprogram the cells they extract from testes without any tumor growth.

Plenty of other firms are active in the stem cell field. Stemnion, a small biotech firm in Pittsburgh, is working on using stem cells found in the placenta for healing wounds. Cellerant Therapeutics of San Carlos, Calif., will soon start a human trial using highly purified adult stem cells found in bone marrow to treat patients with Sickle Cell disease, a genetic blood disorder. Osiris Therapeutics of Baltimore has several trials under way using adult stem cells to treat the intestinal inflammation known as Crohn's disease, repair damaged tissue following a heart attack and prevent the progression of arthritis. And Geron (nasdaq: GERN - news - people ) of Menlo Park, Calif. is performing animal studies on a variety of different cells derived from human embryonic stem cells, aiming to treat spinal cord injury, heart disease and diabetes.

Outside the U.S., adult stem cells have been used to treat patients with Type 2 diabetes in Argentina, heart disease in countries including Germany, Thailand and India, and babies with malformed hearts in Japan. Success rates among these treatments are all at least 68% or higher. For the diabetics treated in Argentina, more than two-thirds were able to stop taking insulin and diabetes medications following the stem cell treatment.

"There's an incredible amount of research and a very large sum of venture capital and private investment going into the field," says Dr. Amit Patel, a cardiac surgeon and director of Cardiac Cell Therapy at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Patel has been called by venture capital firms to consult on potential investments. Bush's veto of the stem cell bill on Wednesday "may slow down embryonic stem cell research" adds Patel, but he's optimistic that research will continue nonetheless with private funding. Adult stem cell research will be unaffected.

Patel has pioneered the use of adult stem cells to treat heart disease. He worked with surgeons in Thailand last December to treat Hawaiian singer Don Ho. Ho's own blood-derived adult stem cells were injected into his heart to treat heart failure. Ho's health has improved so much that he has returned to performing.

Patel is particularly impressed with the work done by PrimeCell using what are called "germ line" stem cells–cells that will turn into sperm. Patel says he divides stem cells into thrift-store cells and designer cells. "PrimeCell's cells are like the Prada of cells. They've taken an adult cell and reprogrammed it," he says. "The potential of their cells is incredible." One advantage of these cells is that they do not age as a human ages.

A group of German researchers replicated PrimeCell's proof of concept in mice, and published the results in Nature in March. But PrimeCell appears to be ahead of the German team because it's already moved from mice to human cells. PrimeCell has $10 million in private funding from two sources: an unnamed investor and Thomas Yuen, chairman and chief executive of PrimeCell's parent company, PrimeGen.

Large pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer (nyse: PFE - news - people ) and Merck (nyse: MRK - news - people ) have so far steered clear of stem cell therapy. For historical reasons, Novartis (nyse: NVS - news - people ) owns a small stake in Cellerant. Big pharma "is letting the smaller companies work and realize the potential. Now is the time for small, nimble entities," says Dr. Hans Keirstead, an associate professor at the Reeve-Irvine Research Center at the University of California at Irvine.

Keirstead is working with human embryonic stem cells to treat spinal cord injury. He has received funding for his lab from Geron, which has an exclusive license of Keirstead's patents and aims to start human trials on spinal cord injury as soon as next year.

Lost in the news of Bush's veto of stem cell bill was the fate of a separate bill sponsored by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) to encourage the National Institutes of Health to fund research of stem cells that are not embryonic. The Santorum/Specter bill passed the Senate but did not get the two-thirds vote needed in the House on Tuesday.


Story Link

-Buck


Buck