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Thursday, Jul 31st

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I helped destroy Falluja in 2004. I won't be complicit again

FallujahI am having flashbacks to my time as a marine during the second siege of Falluja in 2004. Again, claims are being published that al-Qaida has taken over the city and that a heavy-handed military response is needed to take the city back from the control of terrorists.

The first time around, this claim proved to be false. The vast majority of the men we fought against in Falluja were locals, unaffiliated with al-Qaida, who were trying to expel the foreign occupiers from their country. There was a presence of al-Qaida in the city, but they played a minimal and marginal role in the fighting. The stories about Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the alleged leader of al-Qaida in Iraq who was said to be recruiting an army in Falluja, were wildly exaggerated. There is no evidence that Zarqawi ever even set foot in Falluja.

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Alex Baer: Chilblains, Resolutions, and Head Muscle Exercises

Alex BaerA new year, and already there's all sorts of bad habits being dragged right into the middle of things.  Again.  Talk about chilblains and the winter of discontent...

For example, resolutions or no, there's the expectation that things make sense every once in a while, if only to keep the Universe somewhat honest, and to keep exercising the head muscles, too, in the rare event something comes along requiring any brain power.

This is like insisting on a periodic win in 3-Card Monte, I know.  It's a hard habit to break, having the expectations of logic, fairness, meaning...

But, every year, there's Realitus Interruptus Annoyus, in which pesky facts emerge that drag yards and scads of mud and muck across that nice, clean floor of my mind.  So much for the nice, clean slate provided by those first few arbitrary, and always promising, seconds of the New Year, too.

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Bev Harris: Black Box Voting: Web site attacked; and current criminal actions

Bev HarrisBlack Box Voting forums, archives, documents shut down through denial of service attacks; also, see below for update on current indictments and law enforcement investigations pertaining to the voting machine industry and a tampered election.

OLD SITE HACKED

The vast, carefully-organized, and important ten-year work product at BlackBoxVoting.org was attacked by an unprecedented and relentless wave of denial of service attacks this month. At this time, the entire body of work has become inaccessible to the public except for a few articles on the new home page.

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Alex Baer: Santa, Fox News, and the Pope Walk Into a Bar...

relaticityTime, like year-end commentaries, are convenient constructions to help us make sense of our lives.  In the great scheme of things -- or, in The Great Scheme of Things, as you prefer -- both make little difference.  It's not that they don't matter;  they do.  Both require great patience to endure, and both direct our wooly thoughts here and there, willy-nilly.

Distractions explode, pop, and stutter in the mind.  This is especially true if, like me, your concentration and mental discipline are not what they once were.  Digesting a few recent tidbits in the news has proven tougher on my stomach than freeze-dried ostrich or owl jerky.

For example:  In the last week, via media reports, I've bumped into various aspects of God, Santa Claus, Fox News, Albert Einstein, and Pope Francis.  In a move displaying little to no apparent evolutionary advantage, my mind insists on turning these random exposures into patterns -- in this case, jokes of the sort which always begin with a long, convoluted list of people and animals all walking into a bar...

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Bruce Enberg: The Jade Rabbit says, "Nǐ hǎo" (hello)

jade rabbitNew unemployment claims fell sharply the week before Christmas despite widespread weather problems that were putting a drag on business activity. Early numbers suggest that retail sales were up for November and December, justifying the increase in business inventory during the third quarter. This would be in line with the declining layoffs, if inventory sold as predicted as more production will be required in January.

The Federal Reserve is cutting its $85b per month QE3 bond buying program by $10b in January and this is causing bond interest rates to climb. But so far this has had no negative effect on the stock market that continues to set records. At $75b we're still talking about the better part of a trillion dollars a year in stimulus. Of course this is 'soft stimulus' that mostly ends up as bank balance sheet entries.

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Alex Baer: A Little Something Under the Ol' Electron Tree

holdaysAll I want for Christmas -- now that I have a range of functional teeth up front -- is a memory that's not a sieve.  There's always some body part deserving of its own song as one ages, I suppose, and as the meaty vehicle we all find ourselves traveling in as humans starts to slowly unwind, hiccup, and fade.

However, this year, and every year, there are many other things I'd like to see slipped under the tree -- and under the radar of watchful and disapproving conservative forces.  Contrary to wistful bumper stickers and erstwhile, old-fashioned sentiments, I'd like more than a helping of whirled peas, please.

A little basic economic fairness, say, from the money-go-rounders would be a nice holiday touch.  A giant scoop would be even better, but I dare not wish for such miracles -- not even from the Christianity-espousing moneylenders long since seeped into the temples of our democratic discourse.

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Bruce Enberg: Punched or drilled? Use an inspection mirror & a spec sheet for comparison

Alexander HamilltonNumbers on 3rd quarter GDP growth are in, and we could be breaking into a chorus of    'Happy Days are Here Again.'  A quarterly growth of 4.1% in GDP is something that we have seen hardly at all since Ronald Reagan set about destroying the economy for the benefit of the 0.001% of Americans.

In the old days of New Deal Keynesian economics a 4% growth rate was the norm. Conservatives would like you to believe that such a number just isn't possible anymore unless you cut the tax rate on the rich to zero. Never mind that the Communist Chinese have been maintaining a pace of 2 to 3 times that for decades by pursuing FDR's or more accurately Alexander Hamilton's polices. You know, the guy on the ten dollar bill.

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