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2006 Winter Solstice
Edition
Slim Harpo  
Tribute Page
verbatim
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redstat
150,000
Bankruptcy
Filings
by state
2000-2005
100,000
50,000
GA                 IL               TX               FL                 CA  
source: American Bankruptcy
Institute
verbatim                                                                             number 16.2
“Some reports are issued
and just gather dust. And the
truth of the matter is, a lot of
reports in Washington are
never read by anybody...
...to show you how
important this one
is, I read it."
Washington  DC  
12.07.06
Lawyers for the Bush administration
are seeking to block the release of
visitor logs to Vice-president Dick
Cheney’s residence in federal court
arguing that the information is
protected by executive privilege and
must remain secret.  The Justice
Department has previously argued
that public disclosure of the names of
the visitors to the vice-president's
residence would infringe on Cheney’
s ability to seek advice on policy
matters.

Government attorneys argued in a
court brief that the release of the
visitor logs is an “unprecedented
intrusion into the daily operations of
the vice-presidency.”  The Justice
Department was responding a
federal court order that mandated
that the Secret Service provide the
records of everyone who visited the
vice-president,
his top aides and advisors, his
spokesperson or his lawyers.

The
Washington Post requested
the visitor records earlier this year
but the Secret Service refused to
provide the documents.  At the time,
spokespersons for the administration
characterized the request for
documents as a “fishing expedition”
that infringed on “the most sensitive
details of the vice-presidency.”

Justice Department attorneys have
argued in court that releasing the
visitor logs would harm the “effective
functioning of the vice-presidency."  
The government’s court filing also
argued that because the visitor logs
fall under the control of the office
vice-president, the Secret Service
had no authority to release the
records.        
it's all true
Scientists recently reported
that a small-scale nuclear war
or the use of so-called tactical
nuclear weapons could initially
kill millions but would also have
catastrophic effects on the
environment that could lead to
deaths worldwide in the tens of
millions.  

The study found that, although
the US and USSR have
reduced their stock-piles of
nuclear weapons,many
countries have gained the
weapons and many more have
the capability to develop them.  
40 countries currently have the
fissile material required to
develop nuclear weapons.

The study also said that if
“megacities” that are home to
tens of millions of residents are
targeted in even a small-scale
nuclear conflict, the direct
casualties of the bombing and
ensuing firestorm would be
significant.  The study said that
the energy released in the
fires that followed a small-scale
nuclear event could be even
greater than the energy
released by the weapons
themselves.

The amount of debris and
other pollutants that would be
propelled into the stratosphere
would block sunlight and
shorten growing seasons
around the planet.  The study’
s authors said that worldwide
population could drop by 10
percent.  An author of the
study said,“Nuclear
proliferation and political
instability form the greatest
danger to human society since
the dawn of mankind.”    
it's all
true
The Federal Reserve recently
reported the largest drop in
consumer borrowing in 14 years.   
Borrowing declined at an annual rate
of 0.6 percent in October, which
marks the largest drop since October
1992 when consumer borrowing fell
by one percent.

The drop was the first since March
2006 when borrowing fell by 0.2
percent.  This follows a 2 percent
increase in borrowing the previous
month.  Figures show that the drop
reflects a decrease
in non-revolving credit, which fell
by 3.3 percent in October.  A
decline in auto loans made up the
largest part of the decline.  
Overall, the drop in non-revolving
credit was the largest decline
since May 2003.

While fewer Americans took out
auto loans in October, the Fed
reported a 4 percent increase in
credit card borrowing .       
its all
true
verbatim                                                                          number 16.3
"A lot of times, off
years are decided by
the economy...the
good news in the
economy was
overwhelmed by the
toughness of this fight
and toughness of the
war."
Washington DC  11.08.06
Many Americans feel that the wide
and growing wealth gap is becoming
a serious problem, according to a
recent
Bloomberg/Los Angeles
Times
poll.  More than 70 percent of
the poll’s respondents said that
inequality is an important concern in
the US today.

The poll revealed that 84 percent
those who made incomes of less than
$40,000 per year thought that
income disparity is a significant
concern.  The same was true for
nearly as many wage earners who
made between $40, 000 and $60,000.
The poll found that even high
income earning individuals
considered the wealth gap to be a
serious problem.  Three in five
high earning respondents said that
inequality was a national problem.

The IRS reported that the lowest
earning 60 percent of Americans
experienced a drop in wages of 5
percent over the past 30 years.  
During the same period, the top 1
percent of wage earners saw an
increase of 248 percent.   
its all true
Justice Department lawyers have
asked a federal judge to dismiss a
lawsuit alleging that outgoing
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
personally authorized torture and
other illegal abuse of detainees held
by the US military in Iraq and
Afghanistan. The suit, which was filed
in the US District Court in
Washington by the American Civil
Liberties Union and human rights
advocates on behalf of nine foreign
nationals formerly held by US forces,
also claims that Rumsfeld and his
senior staff ignored warnings about
abuses occurring in military detention
facilities, including the Abu Ghraib      
prison.

The government has argued that the
Defense Secretary is immune from
prosecution because he was
executing his official duties. Deputy
Assistant Attorney General C.
Frederick Beckner III questioned the
propriety of the lawsuit in a
preliminary hearing earlier this
month, saying, “We cannot have
courts interfering with core military
functions.”  The Justice Department
maintained that claims of detainee
abuse should be handled by internal
military investigations.

Lawyers for the former detainees
pointed out that so far those
investigations have targeted low-level
personnel involved in specific
instances of abuse, not the authors
of the policy
that led to those abuses. They
accused the Pentagon of
operating “rights-free zones” in
countries occupied by US forces.
“The Secretary of Defense
personally issued orders and
authorized illegal interrogation
techniques and caused torture,”
said ACLU attorney Lucas
Guttentag.

Former Brigadier General Janis
Karpinski, who was in charge of
Abu Ghraib at the time the abuses
occurred, is a co-defendant in
the  suit. Last month Karpinski
told a Spanish newspaper that
she had seen a letter from
Rumsfeld authorizing the illegal
interrogations.     
it's all true
In an unusual last-minute
maneuver, outgoing Republican
Speaker of the House Dennis
Hastert of Illinois inserted a
provision into an appropriations
bill that will benefit a small sector
of the insurance industry,
including a major company
headquartered in Chicago.
Lobbyists and congressional
staffers confirmed that the
provision was strongly supported
by the multinational Aon
Corporation. Senators from both
parties were critical of the move
after learning of the changes in
the last hours of the 109th
Congress.

According to a report in the
New
York Times
, “Mr. Hastert’s
provision showed up mysteriously
after House and Senate
negotiators had finished writing
the bill. The provision was added
by the House Rules Committee,
just a few hours before the bill
went to the House floor last week.”

In a similar move last December,
Hastert and Senate Majority
Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee
arranged for broad immunity from
product liability lawsuits  for a
small group of major drug
manufacturers.           
it's all true
Just two percent of adults own
more than half of the world’s
wealth, according to a study
published this month by a
research group affiliated with
the United Nations. The study
shows that the bottom 50
percent of the world’s adult
population owns just over one
percent of global wealth, which
was defined by the
researchers as the value of
tangible and financial assets
minus debt. The data also
reveal that the richest 10
percent control about 85
percent of total global assets.

The report, which was
released by the Helsinki-based
World Institute for
Development Economics
Research of the UN University,
is believed to be the first
comprehensive study of
worldwide wealth distribution.
Localized data about income and
earnings distribution are widely
available. The study concludes that
wealth is distributed even more
unequally than income.

According to the report, “Wealth is
heavily concentrated in North
America, Europe, and high-income
Asia-Pacific countries. People in
these countries collectively hold
almost 90 percent of total world
wealth.” For the year 2000, an
individual with $500, 000 in assets
would be in the top one percent in
the world. The study found that more
than one in two of those people lived
in the US or Japan. The study also
reveals sharp contrasts  in wealth
distribution among the high-income
countries. In the US, the top 10
percent hold more than 70 percent of
the nation’s wealth, compared with
56 percent in the UK, and 39 percent
in Japan.       
it's all true
As the occupation in Iraq continues,
and violence in the increasingly
anarchic state grows, thousands of
Iraqis flee the war torn country
everyday.  The UN estimates that
100,000 Iraqis are leaving their
country every month and more than
one tenth of Iraq’s population has
become refugees.

Over 1.5 million Iraqi refugees,
Muslims and Christians, have fled to
neighboring countries such as
Jordan and Syria since 2003.  The
humanitarian group Refugees
International released a report last
week that said that although Iraq’s
neighbors have been generous up to
this point, they are having difficulty
dealing with the influx of Iraqis and
are quickly reaching a point where
they can simply accept no more
refugees.  Public resources are
running out and tensions between
refugees and the citizens of host
countries are increasing. Lebanon
recently closed its borders to Iraqis.  
The group called for a greater
international response to the growing
crisis.

The Bush Administration originally
planned that the US would absorb
500 refugees over the course of its
occupation of Iraq.  Last year 200
Iraqis permanently resettled in the
US.  While the stance of the
administration has been that Iraqi
refugees will eventually return to their
country, the majority of Iraqis who
have fled expect to never return due
to the breakdown of civil society and
level of violence in their former
country.   The Iraq Study Group
acknowledged that the situation in
Iraq was “grave and deteriorating.”

Accepting an influx of Iraqi refugees
would, however, signify that
America first destabilized Iraq and
then failed to restore stability in
the country.  Former Assistant
Secretary of State Arthur Dewey
recently told the
Boston Globe
that the Bush administration “for
political reasons” wants to
discourage permanent
resettlement of refugees of the
Iraq war in the US because that
would suggest that the occupation
is a “losing cause.”

A great many of Iraq’s refugees
wish to resettle in the West,
particularly in America.  After the
Gulf War, approximately 12,000
Iraqi refugees permanently
resettled in the US. Experts
estimate that 100,000 Christian
and more than a million Muslim
Iraqi refuges desire to resettle in
the US.          
it's all true
spread of the red : numbers
crunch
Since 2002, an estimated 360 military
detainees have been transferred
from the US prison facility at
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to other
countries, many for what the
Pentagon calls “continued
detention.” In fact, most have
promptly been released from
custody. An investigation by the
Associated Press reveals that the
majority of former Guantanamo
detainees released to other countries
were freed without charge or actually
cleared of charges relating to their
detention. The report could identify
only 40 former prisoners that
currently stand charged with a crime
or remain incarcerated.

According to the Defense
Department, which does not publish
the names of detainees being
transferred abroad, the released
prisoners have been sent to 26
countries. The
AP was able to
identify and track 245 former
Guantanamo detainees in 17
countries. The investigation found
that 205 were either quickly freed
without being charged or were
cleared. Only 14 of the cases
resulted in trials, with eight former
detainees acquitted and six awaiting
verdicts.

The report reveals that 67 of 70
Pakistani citizens sent home have
been freed. Government
investigators in
Pakistan concluded that most were
innocent and had originally been
“sold” to US forces for cash bounties.
The investigation also found that
Afghanistan has released all of the 83
Afghan detainees transferred from US
custody at Guantanamo Bay. In
addition to these detainees, at least
462 Afghans have been released
from a US military prison at Bagram.
All of the detainees sent to the UK,
Spain, Germany, Denmark, Russia,
Turkey, and Australia were freed.

Pentagon spokesmen dispute the
notion that the releases indicate that
the prisoners were never a threat to
US national security. “They were part
of Taliban, al-Qaida, or associated
forces that are engaged in hostilities
against the United States or its
coalition partners,” Navy Commander
Jeffrey Gordon told the
AP. A senior
US State Department official
confirmed that there is no legal
requirement for other nations to
continue to hold the transferred
detainees.

Six former detainees are currently on
trial in France for alleged terrorist
links. The prosecutor in the case has
requested light sentences if they are
convicted, taking into account the
defendants' "arbitrary detention... at a
facility outside all legal
frameworks."                     
it's all true
Lawsuit Alleges Torturers Took Dictation From Secretary
Continued Detention Strikingly Similar to
Exoneration
Hastert Acts As
Insurance Agent
Lack of Concentration Not a Problem for Wealthy
Increasing Disparity Fuels Increasing Despair
Iraqi Citizens Finally Free to Flee Liberated Homeland
Chilling Summary
Sees Nuclear Winter
Consumers Lose Interest in Borrowing
Cheney Guest List a State Secret
previous editions archive
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