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fun d' mental
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number 176    
12.14.08
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Residents of Kentucky have
filed suit to remove language
from the state law that
establishes the Kentucky
Office of Homeland Security
that requires “stressing the
dependence on Almighty God
as being vital to the security of
the Commonwealth.”  

The Kentucky residents joined
with an advocacy group called
American Atheists, Inc to seek
that language added to the law
in 2006 be removed because
they feel it is “grossly, and
outrageously, at variance” with
laws that prohibit the
government proselytization of
religion.

The law declares that the
“safety and security of the
Commonwealth cannot be
achieved apart from reliance
upon Almighty God.”  The law
also requires that a plaque
with this same language be
placed in the state’s
Emergency Operations
Center.  The statute also
requires, as part of the legally
proscribed duties of the
executive director of the
Kentucky Office of Homeland
Security, that the office
publicize “the dependence on
Almighty God as being vital to
the security of the
Commonwealth.”

The religious language was
added to the law as by state
Rep Tom Riner who said,
“government itself, apart from
God, cannot close the security
gap.”  The litigants say that
“the existence of these
unconstitutional laws suggest
that their very safety as
residents of Kentucky may be
in the hands of fanatics,
traitors,
or fools.”                 
it's all true
A document that was posted on the
Internet by the organization Wikileaks
that reveals that multiple federal law
enforcement and national security
forces controlled the security
operations at this summer’s
Republican National Convention,
while state and local law enforcement
played a cooperative and
subordinate role in the event.

The document, which is a power
point presentation delivered prior to
the RNC convention by Minnesota’s
Homeland Security and Emergency
Management office, details the
chilling extent to which the National
Security apparatus was focused on
performing surveillance of and
policing advocacy groups who
made clear their intent to exercise
their free speech right to protest at
the event and local and national
media who covered the protests.  
The document also reveals that
private companies, including national
telecommunications companies,
helped to develop a surveillance and
security program to monitor the event.

The American Civil Liberties Union,
which brought the document to broad
attention, was particularly concerned
about the roles in the security plan
for the Pentagon’s Northern
Command and, frighteningly, the
National Geospatial-Intelligence
Agency.  The inclusion of these
military agencies suggests that the
The House Oversight and
Government Reform Committee held
a hearing recently where the former
executives of the quasi-private
mortgage companies Freddie Mac
and Fannie Mae were questioned
about what the companies knew
about the risky nature of the loans
that they were guaranteeing and
what, if any, steps were taken to
prevent the crisis of widespread
foreclosures that currently confronts
American homeowners.

Leland Brendsel and Richard Syron,
former executives at Freddie Mac,
and Daniel Mudd and Franklin
Raines, former executives of Fannie
Mae, appeared before a committee
armed with more than 400,000
internal documents that had been
subpoenaed and animated by anger
as many of the committee member’s
constituents have been forced
into foreclosure having agreed to the
questionably designed loan products
that were bought by or guaranteed
by the companies.

The documents, which included
internal memoranda and e-mails, are
replete with evidence that the
companies were well informed of the
disastrous ramifications of loan
products that required no down
payment and no documentation of
the borrower’s ability to pay and
loans where the borrower paid back
only interest leaving the principal to
never be reduced.  The documents
also reveal that the companies were
aware that the loan products were
targeted “disproportionately” at
minority communities, and were
perceived to represent “predatory
lending” practices.

In one of the subpoenaed e-mails that
was received by Syron of Freddie
Mac, the writer warns that the No
asset/No Asset loan product being
sold in the early part of this
decade “appears to target
borrowers who would have trouble
qualifying for a mortgage if their
financial position were adequately
disclosed.”  The writer reports
that 8 to 13 percent of such loans
went into delinquency in the first
year of the contract.  The memo
goes on to warn that these loans
appear also to be “dis-
proportionately targeted towards
Hispanics.”  

The writer of the memorandum
proposed that Freddie Mac
discontinue to guarantee such
loans, even though it would result
annual losses of between 10 and
50 million dollars.            
it's all true
Research botanists and forestry
management officials have begun to
investigate widespread reports that
oak trees in various regions of the
United States have failed to produce
acorns this year. Anecdotal evidence
has been accumulating since late
August that, rather than just
unusually light yields, the trees were
not producing any acorns at all.
Reports of a so-called “zero year”
for acorns have come from at least
nine states as well as parts of
Canada, raising fears that the
problem may be related
to climate change.

Scientists point out that oaks have a
life cycle that can last up to 200
years, and that a total lack of acorn
production for one season is not a
cause for alarm, but even skeptics
acknowledge that the zero year
phenomenon is highly anomalous.
Naturalists throughout the Eastern
US  
have reported that the lack of acorns
is already affecting local squirrel
populations, with scientists warning
that many will starve this winter.
Virginia field botanist Rod Simmons
told the
Washington Post, “It’s a
zero year. There’s zero production. I’
ve never seen anything like it before.”

Other areas of the US and Canada
have experienced normal acorn
production this year, but some
scientists have observed a general
trend toward lower yields. Arborist
Stephen Smith told the
Toronto Star
that he had seen a gradual reduction
in the acorn crops over the years.
“Now, even when they mass-
produce, they don’ t in quantities
they did 20 years ago. No one knows
if it’s part of a natural cycle or if
something has changed and it could
be cause for concern.”         
it's all true
The US Supreme Court has ruled
that the Navy may resume training
exercises off the coast of
California that were halted
because of concerns about the
effects of sonar on whales and
other marine mammals. A federal
court in San Francisco had
ordered the Navy to curtail some
sonar exercises and eliminate
other sonar activities altogether.
Chief Justice John Roberts, writing
for the majority in the 5-4
decision, said that the public
interest was “strongly in favor of
the Navy.”

President Bush took the unusual
step of intervening in the case,
arguing that national security
considerations made the sonar
exercises necessary. The
administration also claimed that
there is little evidence of harm to
marine life from sonar devices.
Environmentalists, who were
strongly critical of the Supreme
Court ruling because it failed to
address their concerns about the
danger to whales, say that sonar
can disorient marine mammals,
leading to an often-fatal condition.
Roberts wrote that restricting
sonar "jeopardizes the safety of
the fleet."          
it's all true
Naval Sonar Ruling
Denies Whales a
Hearing
Oak Mystery Too Serious for Acorny
Headline
...before I arrived in
President, during I
arrived in President."
Washington DC 12.01.08
verbatim                                                              number 34.2
US military was engaged in crowd
control at the event and
protesters’ actions and
communications were monitored
by the US military’s network of spy
satellites.  The presentation
advises that the lead federal
agencies that coordinated the
security of the RCN convention
included the Secret Service, FBI,
and FEMA.  

The ACLU said that the US
military’s direction of security at
the event signifies “a radical
departure from separation of
civilian law enforcement and
military authority, and could, quite
possibly, represent a violation of
law."             
it's all true
“I think when the history of
this period is written,
people will realize a lot of
the decisions that were
made on Wall Street took
place over a decade or
so...
amount returned for each
dollar spent on different
stimulus plans
food stamps
corporate
tax cuts
$          .50           1          
1.50   
infrastructure
development
Bush tax cut
made
permanent
accelerated
depreciation
extension of
unemployment
Euro Fury Over Pharma Army
Maneuvers
A report recently released by the
European Union accuses
multinational pharmaceutical
companies of acting to keep drug
prices artificially high by engaging in
a range of practices intended to
restrict market access for generic
equivalents. The report is the result
of a 10-month investigation that
began dramatically with the seizing of
documents at major corporations
including GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer,
Merck, and Sanofi-Aventis.
Manufacturers of generic drugs have
long complained that access to
European markets is more restricted
than other developed countries.

The report, by European
Commissioner for Competition Neelie
Kroes, concludes that billions of
dollars have been added to health
care costs during the period under
investigation, from 2000 through
2007. Among the tactics commonly
used by the drug makers is the
accumulation of numerous patents
for every drug and even drug
ingredients. In one case highlighted
by the Commission, 1300 separate
patents were obtained for a single
drug. The pharmaceutical
manufacturers then aggressively
litigate against companies trying to
develop generic equivalents,
delaying or even derailing the
introduction of the cheaper drugs.

“Market entry of generic companies
and the development of new and
more affordable medicines is
sometimes blocked or delayed, at
significant cost to healthcare
systems, consumers, and taxpayers,”
said Kroes. The Commission has the
authority to impose fines or bring
legal action against companies that
are found to have acted unlawfully.
Kroes told reporters, “It is still early
days, but the Commission will not
hesitate to open antitrust cases
against companies where there are
indications that the antitrust rules
may have been breached.”

Seized corporate memos and papers
released with the report appear to
openly contemplate strategies
intended to thwart competition from
generics. One document stated, “We
identify options to obtain or acquire
patents for the sole purpose of
limiting the freedom of operation of
our competitors.” Another said, “I
suppose we have all had
conversations around 'how we can
block the generic manufacturers.’” In
Europe, generic drugs account for 40
percent of the total pharmaceutical
market, while the US market has in
recent years been dominated by
generics.         
it's all true
Pentagon Party Favors Were an Unconventional Use of
Force
God on State's Side,
Pending Legal
Action
At Fannie and Freddie, Prophets Predicting Losses Were Given Little
Credit
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