As the curtain falls on the Bush Administration, one set piece of the Administration's policy on torture has finally been ushered offstage. The Bybee Memo, a 2002 opinion authored by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, was brushed aside last week by a federal judge overseeing the nation's first-ever criminal trial of an American accused of torture abroad.
The Federal Reserve Bank is drawing jeers for hiring a former top executive from the now-defunct investment bank Bear Stearns to help it gauge the health of other banks.
Michael Alix was head of risk management for Bear Stearns for two years until the institution imploded this spring, a victim of its (risky) subprime-mortgage related investments.
Last Friday, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York quietly announced it had hired Alix to advise it on bank supervision.
TVNL Comment: This is not irony, this is evidence of conspiracy.
The ozone hole over Antarctica grew to the size of North America this year – the fifth largest on record – according to the latest satellite observations.
US government scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) say this year's ozone hole reached its maximum level on September 12, extending to 10.5m sq miles and four miles deep.
The head of the Republican Women of Otero County refused to resign after calling Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama a "Muslim socialist."
Otero County GOP chairwoman Sassy Tinling says that when Marcia Stirman refused to quit, the rest of the board of the Republican Women's group gave Stirman their resignations.
Tinling also says the county GOP executive committee disassociated itself from the GOP women's group.
Extensive national media coverage of alleged voter registration fraud by ACORN has fanned fears of "voter fraud" by Democratic forces. Given this fact, it's more than a little remarkable that the media has not seen fit to present more balanced coverage. The media could easily do so by reporting, at the same level as ACORN, the far more serious, documented and provable story of election fraud by Young Political Majors, LLC (YPM). YPM's owner Mark Jacoby was recently arrested in California on two felony counts of voter registration fraud and two counts of perjury, as reported in the LA Times October 20. But these 4 charges are the tip of the YPM iceberg. The omission of YPM from the national debate is helping to set the general election on a course of confusion and disfranchisement -- consistent with YPM's undisputed record of disfranchising voters in primary elections earlier this year. As with the case of Tiffany Hofstetter, YPM's activities even include wholesale forgeries of real voters' registration affidavits, that results in them losing their right to vote.
Unlike ACORN's issues (which are almost exclusively the rejection of submitted registration applications that never actually make it onto voter rolls), YPMs frauds are not scrutinized, remain on the rolls, and are therefore far more serious. YPM also differs from ACORN in the following other respects:
A tree fungus could provide green fuel that can be pumped directly into vehicle tanks, US scientists say. The organism, found in the Patagonian rainforest, naturally produces a mixture of chemicals that is remarkably similar to diesel.
"This is the only organism that has ever been shown to produce such an important combination of fuel substances," said Gary Strobel, a plant scientist from Montana State University, who led the work. "We were totally surprised to learn that it was making a plethora of hydrocarbons."
The Supreme Court may rule that pharmaceutical companies cannot be sued for dangerous or even deadly side effects from their drugs if those side effects arise from an FDA-approved use.
Under a legal argument known as "pre-emption," the FDA's approval of a drug absolves companies of any responsibility if that drug later turns out to be dangerous, even if information was concealed from the FDA during the approval process. While courts have rejected this argument for decades, the winds appear to be shifting.
"After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes," wrote retired Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba in the preface to the report. "The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.
Four employees hired by a temporary staffing agency to encourage absentee voting for Sen. John McCain in Wisconsin say they were instructed to tell people they were Republican volunteers.
The employees told The Associated Press in interviews on Monday they were hired by Allstaff Labor Group to go door-to-door in the Milwaukee suburbs locating McCain supporters and distributing absentee ballot request forms.
Allstaff recruited the workers under a contract with a consulting firm hired by the Republican Party of Wisconsin to run its absentee ballot program.
The workers claim they were told to say they were GOP volunteers even though they were getting paid $10 an hour for the work. They were required to sign agreements stating they would not speak publicly about their work with anyone including reporters, but they decided to speak out because they were angry they had not been paid for their final few days.
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