Monday, March 31, 2008

Beast of the Month - February 2008

Beast of the Month - February 2008
Mullah Omar, Taliban Leader

"I yam an anti-Christ... "
John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) of The Sex Pistols, "Anarchy in the UK"

"They're back..."
Poltergeist II tagline

Anyone searching for proof about how bad the "War on Terror" is going needs to look no further than Pakistan.

In the aftermath of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the CIA (along with the London's Scotland Yard) has agreed with the Pakistan government's controversial assertion that the deed was plotted by Baitullah Mehsud, a Taliban commander with ties to Al Qaeda. The conclusion goes hand in hand with (until now) underreported news stories of the rise in power by Taliban forces in Afghanistan. That it could be even admitted as plausible the Taliban killed Bhutto is an indictment on how the War on Terror has been waged, as one of the few things even the harshest critic of the Bush Administration could concede is the loss of power to the repressive Taliban regime deserves no tears. True, right wing hacks will no doubt try to frame the Bhutto assassination as a reminder Al Qaeda and the Taliban are still a menace to the world. Still, it more likely fits the playbook of the Democratic Party's talking points: that by invading Iraq, the Bush Team fought a war with a country with no ties to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda while dropping the ball on the real battle in Afghanistan.

Of course, there's a reason why the CIA and Scotland Yard have so quickly embraced the "Taliban and Al Qaeda did it" conspiracy theory: the alternative is even more distasteful to the American establishment. After all, the reason the Taliban theory is so controversial in Pakistan is because the public widely believes the political hit was actually orchestrated by Pervez Musharraf, to wipe out the greatest political threat to his dictatorial reign. The theory is supported by missing evidence (most notably the washing down of streets before blood evidence could be collected, and the blocking of an autopsy by police) showing a high-ranking cover-up, shoddy security protection at the time of her murder, official lies about her cause of death, vote-rigging evidence in the recent Pakistan "election" which Bhutto was to hand to US Congressmen on her day of death and an email Bhutto wrote three weeks before her murder where she warned of a plot to kill her, organized by Musharraf cronies rather than Al Qaeda. In short, had the CIA not backed the official story, the US public would now have to acknowledge a partner in the "War on Terror" is a dictatorship that ruthlessly murders its political opponents.

For once, though, the US establishment may actually be telling the truth. Or, more precisely, perhaps they are both lying and telling the truth. To explain, The Konformist provides this little guide to Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Taliban and Al Qaeda:

* WHAT IS THE TALIBAN? Okay, this one is easy background. A fundamentalist Islam nationalist movement led by Mullah Omar (The Konformist Beast of the Month) that took control of Afghanistan in 1996, it was initially embraced by much of the Afghan public for restoring law and order. Soon it became a repressive regime and international pariah, enforcing a strict Muslim religious doctrine which included the subjugation of women, mass murder of political opponents, outlawing of nearly all modern culture and the 2001 destruction of two 6th century Buddha statues that were perhaps Afghanistan's most noted cultural artifacts. Their immense financial aid from Osama bin Laden led to their downfall, as Team USA knocked them out of power after 9/11. Despite this setback, they have been on the rise in power since 2006, with multiple statements by Omar released for propaganda purposes.

* WHAT IS THE ISI? The Inter-Services Intelligence is Pakistan's largest and most powerful intelligence agency, their version of the CIA, and one of the most powerful intelligence agencies in the world.

* ARE THERE TIES BETWEEN THE TALIBAN AND THE ISI? Um, yeah. Though officially on different sides of the "Good Vs. Evil" paradigm promoted by the Bush Team in the Terror War, they still have covert contacts that benefit both parties. For example, Pakistan allows the Taliban to remain hidden in their borders, in exchange for not becoming a primary target of radical Islam. Furthermore, they both have a joint opponent in Afghanistan, and the ISI allowing the Taliban to flourish creates a force that only weakens a competitive neighbor.

* ARE THERE TIES BETWEEN THE ISI AND THE CIA? Absolutely, indeed, many activities done by the ISI can be viewed as simple proxy operations done for the CIA's bidding.

* SO, DOES THAT MEAN THERE ARE TIES BETWEEN THE TALIBAN AND CIA? Good question. Obviously, officially there is no link between the two after 9/11. Still, it has to be acknowledged the Taliban is pretty much a CIA creation thanks to the war between Afghanistan and the USSR. Further, there were massive negotiations between the Taliban and US oil companies (which the CIA is often just foot soldiers for) as late as the summer of 2001 over a proposed deal to allow access to untapped crude in the Caspian Sea, worth an estimated $3 trillion in 2001 oil prices. (When the talks broke down, the Taliban were warned to "accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs.") Of course, now the CIA and Taliban are officially enemies, but intelligence contacts are treasured, and at the very least some back channel contacts likely still exist.

* HOW ABOUT THE TIES BETWEEN THE ISI, THE CIA AND AL QAEDA? This one has a surprisingly murky answer. First, the most shocking link: Mohammed Atta, the alleged lead hijacker and ringleader of the 9/11 plot, was wired $100,000 from Lt. General Mahmoud Ahmad, then head of the ISI. Was Atta a covert ISI agent? It sure looks that way. This evidence ties the ISI more closely to 9/11 than either the Taliban or much maligned Saudi Arabia. (For example, in Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Moore made much of the Saudis being the not-so-secret bogeyman, yet Pakistan's suspicious role was completely ignored.) It's hard to dismiss the idea that whatever Atta was doing was at the behest of Pakistan. It's also hard to ignore that since much of what the ISI does is at the CIA's request, this gives some strength to theories that 9/11 was an inside job. As for the ties between the CIA and Al Qaeda, like the Taliban, the entire beginnings of Al Qaeda are tied to the CIA's war against the USSR in Afghanistan. Having said all this, why are the links between the ISI, CIA and Al Qaeda so murky? The answer lies in an even more ignored question...

* DOES "AL QAEDA" EVEN EXIST? This is a question few dare ask, and the answer can be persuasively argued to be no. First, even The Konformist admits, "Al Qaeda" is an easy (and cool-sounding) shorthand for a collection of radical Islamic terrorist groups who are waging war against Team America. In this sense, Al Qaeda certainly is real. But is it a unified network of anti-American jihadists who answer to their evil mastermind Osama bin Laden? Sorry, but this version of things is bogus. In the BBC documentary The Power of Nightmares, evidence is laid out that "Al Qaeda" (Arabic for "The Base" and a term never used publicly by Osama before the 9/11 attacks) was concocted in 2001 by the US DOJ to nail bin Laden as a head of a crime network. Thus, any radical Islam terror actions could be ultimately linked to Osama under the "Al Qaeda" banner. Unfortunately, this has allowed many smaller groups with competing agendas to be lumped together under a monolithic banner, all to hype up a giant leviathan for propaganda purposes. And even then, the supposed size of "Al Qaeda" is highly exaggerated, inflated by (for example) including those who fought against the USSR in the eighties but are not at war with anyone and certainly aren't allies of bin Laden. And speaking of bin Laden, here's another question that is being ignored...

* IS OSAMA EVEN ALIVE? If he is, The Konformist hasn't found any good evidence to support the claim. The latest supposed video of him from September 2007 looks clearly like an imposter, and this isn't the first bogus Osama passed off as the real deal in the mainstream press. It's unlikely this would be done if the real Osama was still around. Meanwhile, in his speeches, Osama has morphed from a "death to America" Islamo-fascist to a Chomsky-quoting critic of American foreign policy (who no doubt wears Birkenstocks, drives a Prius and has Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth on his Netflix queue.) The end result of Osama's conversion is even Nation-reading establishment lefties can be smeared for parroting the propaganda of "bin Laden" when criticizing the Iraqi Quagmire.

So let's put this all together. Even if, as the Pakistan government, CIA and Scotland Yard all insist, the Bhutto assassination was a Taliban operation, does that let Musharraf and the ISI off the hook? Or could the Taliban have been doing a contract hit on behalf of the Pakistan state? (In fact, in 2005, alleged Bhutto assassination mastermind Mehsud was offered over $300K by Pakistan to sign a peace deal he would later agree to, so a business relationship already did exist.)

Does it go even further? Is it possible the Bhutto assassination may have US Government fingerprints over it? At the very least, right-wing commentator Bob Novak believes the US let her be killed to prop up Musharraf. Beyond that claim, let's look at the main thing the US establishment would have against her: she was pursuing peace agreements with both Islamic fundamentalists and the state of Israel. While her plans could have led to less violence and a future Nobel Peace Prize, lessened tensions in the area would dismantle the excuse for US presence, potentially leaving American oil companies shut out of the Caspian Sweepstakes. Meanwhile, in a November 2007 interview with David Frost, Bhutto stated bin Laden had already been murdered by an "Al Qaeda" rival Omar Sheikh. Although this was later dismissed as a verbal mistake (supposedly, she meant Daniel Pearl had been murdered, not bin Laden) after her death, it's interesting to note she never corrected herself, nor did her seasoned interviewer Frost ask for a clarification.

At this point, though, all this is history, albeit recent and important history. The bigger question is what will happen to the Taliban. The Konformist guess is they're not going anywhere, and will only get more powerful as time goes on. Whatever the Taliban's faults, many Afghanis felt safer from crime when they were in power, thus explaining any mass popularity they continue to have. Last September, Afghan prez Hamid Karzai recognized this reality and offered to negotiate with Taliban leaders, including Mullah Omar. While the Taliban remains an officially sanctioned bogeyman, it seems plausible that so-called "moderate" Taliban leaders (i.e. those willing to give US oil companies sweetheart deals) could be embraced and rejoin the Afghan establishment. If that happens, you heard it hear first.

In any case, we salute Mullah Omar as Beast of the Month. Congratulations, and keep up the great work, Omar!!!


Baker, Aryn and Robinson, Simon. "Missing Evidence from Bhutto's Murder." Time 31 December 2007 <,8599,1699138,00.html>.

"Benazir Bhutto Said Osama bin Laden Was Dead." Prison Planet 28 December 2007 <>.

"Bhutto Broke Her Agreement with the CIA, She Wanted to Talk with the Islamists." Roads to Iraq 29 December 2007 <>.

"Bhutto Wanted Ties with Israel, Sought Mossad Protection." Israel Today 28 December 2007 <>.

"Bhutto Was to Give U.S. Lawmakers Vote-rigging Report." CNN 1 January 2008 <>.

Bright, Arthur. "CIA Blames Al Qaeda, Taliban for Bhutto Assassination." Christian Science Monitor 19 January 2008

Brisard, Jean-Charles and Dasquie, Guillaume. Forbidden Truth: U.S.-Taliban Secret Oil Diplomacy and the Failed Hunt for Bin Laden. New York: Nation Books, 2002.

Chin, Larry. "Anglo-American Ambitions Behind the Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Destabilization of Pakistan." Online Journal 31 December 2007 <>.

Chossudovsky, Michel. America's "War on Terrorism". Quebec, Global Research, 2005.

Chossudovsky, Michel. "Cover-up or Complicity of the Bush Administration?" Global Research 2 November 2001 <>.

"How Did Pakistan's Bhutto Die?" CNN 28 December 2007 <>.

Juliano, Nick. "Police Abandoned Security Posts Before Bhutto Assassination." Raw Story 28 December 2007 <>.

"Karzai Talks Peace After Bus Bomb." CNN 29 September 2007 <>.

"Lawyer: Police Prevented Bhutto Autopsy." CNN 1 January 2008 <>.

Meacher, Michael. "The Pakistan Connection." The Guardian 22 July 2004 <>.

Novak, Robert. "Sacrificing Bhutto to Prop Up Musharraf?" Chicago Sun Times 31 December 2007 <,CST-EDT-NOVAK31.article>.

"Osama bin Laden: The Newest Fake." What Really Happened <>.

Page, Jeremy. "Who Killed Benazir Bhutto? The Main Suspects." Global Research 27 December 2007 <>.

"Pakistan Pays Tribe al-Qaeda Debt." BBC News 9 February 2005 <>.

Qayum, Khalid and Ahmed, Khaleeq. "Bhutto Attack Probably a Taliban Plot, Ministry Says." Bloomberg 28 December 2007 <>.

Rashid, Ahmed. Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002.

Rashid, Ahmed. Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000.

Robinson, Simon. "Bhutto Conspiracy Theories Fill the Air." Time 28 December 2007 <,8599,1698828,00.html>.

Sherwell, Philip. "Bhutto 'Blocked from Hiring US Bodyguards'." Telegraph 31 December 2007 <;jsessionid=IG1ZSIRJ0UOFPQFIQMGSFFOAVCBQWIV0?xml=/news/2007/12/30/wbhutto230.xml>.

Walters, Simon. "Bhutto Email Named Killers Weeks Before Assassination." Daily Mail 30 December 2007 <>.

Watson, Steve. "New Bin Laden Video: 100% Forgery." 10 September 2007 <>.

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Thin Silver Lining to Antarctic Ice Collapse

A Thin Silver Lining to Antarctic Ice Collapse
By Brandon Keim
March 26, 2008
Categories: Climate

News of the disturbing collapse of a 160-square-mile piece of western Antarctic ice was mildly reassuring in one way: the chunk itself wouldn't immediately start to melt, or unleash glaciers into the sea.

"Scientists said they are not concerned about a rise in sea level from the latest event, but say it's a sign of worsening global warming," reported the Associated Press.

As Dylan noted in his post, Antarctic ice shelves are "the leading edges of land-based glaciers." The shelves act like dams -- and we all know what happens when a dam breaks. In 1995 and 2002, when vast portions of the Larsen B ice shelf broke off and disintegrated, glaciers soon surged towards the sea.

But researchers say that the Wilkins Ice Shelf -- the larger sheet to which the now-fallen piece belonged -- already floats in the ocean, with few glaciers flowing into it. When it collapses -- its lifespan is optimistically pegged at 15 years -- no backed-up glaciers will be released.

So that's reassuring. Or is it?

As the BBC reported last month, the British Antarctic Survey recently found "the clearest evidence yet" of glacial instabilities in West Antarctica, where three "rivers of ice" have accelerated their seaward course.

"If there is a feedback mechanism to make the ice sheet unstable, it will be most unstable in this region," said BAS researcher David Vaughan.

Could the distintegrating Wilkins Ice Shelf be part of such a feedback mechanism? Or is it just a vast, icy canary in the coal mine of Earth? I'll ask the BAS and let you know.

Motorola Renews Itself Through Spinoff

Motorola Renews Itself Through Spinoff
Vidya Ram, 03.26.08

LONDON - Motorola has taken heed of pressure from shareholders including billionaire Carl Icahn, and announced it will spin off its mobile handset business.

Motorola shares rose 1.5%, or 15 cents, to $9.91, on Wednesday morning, after a pre-opening rally of over 9.0%.

The changes will be made in 2009, under which two publicly-listed companies will be created, one focusing on mobile phones and the other bringing together Motorola's home and networks business, which sells TV set-top boxes and modems, and its enterprise mobility unit, which sells computing and communications equipment for businesses.

Motorola expects the transaction will be tax-free, allowing shareholders to own stock in both the new companies

Nomura analyst Richard Windsor said this represented the best deal for shareholders. "It is the least disruptive remedy to their recovery plan for their mobile phone division," he added.

He said the company would have struggled to get a good price if it had chosen to sell its mobile handset division, which has suffered from a slump in sales thanks to stiff competition from the likes of Nokia and Sony Ericsson.

"Our decision to separate our Mobile Devices and Broadband & Mobility Solutions businesses follows a review process undertaken by our management team and board of directors, together with independent advisors," Chief Executive Greg Brown said in a press release.

"Creating two industry-leading companies will provide improved flexibility, more tailored capital structures, and increased management focus - as well as more targeted investment opportunities for our shareholders."

Motorola launched a strategic review in January, following a weak set of fourth-quarter earnings that were weighed down by troubles at its handset business, which has failed to repeat the success of its Razr phone.

Just ahead of the announcement, UBS analyst Maynard Um cut his estimates for sales of Motorola handsets for 2008, by 9.0%, to 146.5 million, despite Motorola's plans to launch several new 3G phones and low-cost handsets targeted at emerging markets.

Icahn had pressed for the spin off and for the appointment of a new chief executive for the division, arguing that the company functioned as a conglomerate, and a carving off the handset unit was in the best interests of shareholders. (See: "Icahn Rattles Motorola")

Thomson Financial contributed to this report.

Magazine names 7 wonders of architecture

Magazine names 7 wonders of architecture
Mon Mar 24, 2008

From the tall tower in Dubai to a contemporary art museum on New York's Lower East Side, noteworthy architecture is springing up around the globe. Conde Nast Traveler's April issue picks seven designs as the "new seven wonders of the architecture world." They are:

-Cumulus, an exhibit hall at Danfoss Universe, a science and technology museum in Nordborg, Denmark. The building has an irregular roof, all curves and angles, like a bite taken out of a cloud.

-Burj Dubai, the world's tallest building, which is under construction in the Middle East and is already more than 1,700 feet tall. The final height is a secret but its developer, Emaar Properties, has previously said it will stop somewhere above 2,275 feet and will exceed 160 floors.

-London's new Wembley Stadium, which seats 90,000 with no obstructed sight lines. A massive 436-foot-tall, 1,000-foot-long single arch braces the retractable roof. The stadium will be a centerpiece of the 2012 Olympics.

-New Museum of Contemporary Art, designed to resemble an off-kilter stack of silvery rectangles, located on the Bowery on Manhattan's once-seedy, now-trendy Lower East Side.

-Kogod Courtyard, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., a curved roof made from a patterned grid of glass and steel above shallow pools in the courtyard of the Old Patent Office Building, also known as the Reynolds Center and home to the American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery.

-Red Ribbon, Tanghe River Park, in Qinhuangdao, China, about 180 miles east of Beijing, a steel bench that runs a third of a mile through a riverbank garden and ecological oasis.

-The Crystal, a controversial new entryway and exhibit space at Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum, whose sharp, even jagged angles have not been universally loved by the locals. It was designed by Daniel Libeskind.

Spy-in-the-sky drone sets sights on Miami

Spy-in-the-sky drone sets sights on Miami
By Tom Brown
Tue Mar 25, 2008

Miami police could soon be the first in the United States to use cutting-edge, spy-in-the-sky technology to beef up their fight against crime.

A small pilotless drone manufactured by Honeywell International (HON.N), capable of hovering and "staring" using electro-optic or infrared sensors, is expected to make its debut soon in the skies over the Florida Everglades.

If use of the drone wins Federal Aviation Administration approval after tests, the Miami-Dade Police Department will start flying the 14-pound (6.3 kg) drone over urban areas with an eye toward full-fledged employment in crime fighting.

"Our intentions are to use it only in tactical situations as an extra set of eyes," said police department spokesman Juan Villalba.

"We intend to use this to benefit us in carrying out our mission," he added, saying the wingless Honeywell aircraft, which fits into a backpack and is capable of vertical takeoff and landing, seems ideally suited for use by SWAT teams in hostage situations or dealing with "barricaded subjects."

Miami-Dade police are not alone, however.

Taking their lead from the U.S. military, which has used drones in Iraq and Afghanistan for years, law enforcement agencies across the country have voiced a growing interest in using drones for domestic crime-fighting missions.

Known in the aerospace industry as UAVs, for unmanned aerial vehicles, drones have been under development for decades in the United States.

The CIA acknowledges that it developed a dragonfly-sized UAV known as the "Insectohopter" for laser-guided spy operations as long ago as the 1970s.

And other advanced work on robotic flyers has clearly been under way for quite some time.

"The FBI is experimenting with a variety of unmanned aerial vehicles," said Marcus Thomas, an assistant director of the bureau's Operational Technology Division.

"At this point they have been used mainly for search and rescue missions," he added. "It certainly is an up-and-coming technology and the FBI is researching additional uses for UAVs."


U.S. Customs and Border Protection has been flying drones over the Arizona desert and southwest border with Mexico since 2006 and will soon deploy one in North Dakota to patrol the Canadian border as well.

This month, Customs and Border Protection spokesman Juan Munoz Torres said the agency would also begin test flights of a modified version of its large Predator B drones, built by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, over the Gulf of Mexico.

Citing numerous safety concerns, the FAA -- the government agency responsible for regulating civil aviation -- has been slow in developing procedures for the use of UAVs by police departments.

"You don't want one of these coming down on grandma's windshield when she's on her way to the grocery store," said Doug Davis, the FAA's program manager for unmanned aerial systems.

He acknowledged strong interest from law enforcement agencies in getting UAVs up and running, however, and said the smaller aircraft particularly were likely to have a "huge economic impact" over the next 10 years.

Getting clearance for police and other civilian agencies to fly can't come soon enough for Billy Robinson, chief executive of Cyber Defense Systems Inc, a small start-up company in St. Petersburg, Florida. His company makes an 8-pound (3.6 kg) kite-sized UAV that was flown for a time by police in Palm Bay, Florida, and in other towns, before the FAA stepped in.

"We've had interest from dozens of law enforcement agencies," said Robinson. "They (the FAA) are preventing a bunch of small companies such as ours from becoming profitable," he said.

Some privacy advocates, however, say rules and ordinances need to be drafted to protect civil liberties during surveillance operations.

"There's been controversies all around about putting up surveillance cameras in public areas," said Howard Simon, Florida director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

"Technological developments can be used by law enforcement in a way that enhances public safety," he said. "But every enhanced technology also contains a threat of further erosion of privacy."

(Reporting by Tom Brown; Editing by Michael Christie and Eddie Evans)

Oregon Man Says He's Pregnant

Oregon Man Says He's Pregnant
Transgendered Man Writes In 'The Advocate'
March 25, 2008

BEND, Ore. -- An Oregon man is five months pregnant, according to a national magazine.

Thomas Beatie, who used to be a woman, appeared in the most recent issue of The Advocate, a magazine for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender readers, Portland, Ore., television station KPTV reported.

Beatie wrote the article, which includes a picture of him while he was 22 weeks pregnant. According to the story, he went through a sex change, but decided only to have chest reconstruction and testosterone therapy.

Beatie was able to keep the reproductive organs he was born with. The article said he stopped getting the injections and was able to get pregnant.

Beatie, who lives in Bend, wrote he was once pregnant with triplets, but the pregnancy was life-threatening and he lost the fetuses. Now, Beatie said he and his wife, Nancy, are expecting a little girl in July.

In the article, Beatie described some of the challenges he and his wife have faced -- they said doctors won't treat them. The couple met 10 years ago and Nancy is not able to have children.

He wrote in The Advocate that their situation "sparks legal, political and social unknowns."

The couple were out of town Monday and unable to speak with the station.

Arnold claims nuclear power has "a great future"

March 25th, 2008

Dear Readers,

Last Friday (March 21st, 2008) California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger claimed that nuclear power has "a great future" and that we should stop "looking the other way and living in denial."

It is the governor who is in denial.

He is in denial of the fact that some 10,000,000 pounds of used reactor cores currently endanger our precious California coastline. We don't need ANY more. There is no place to put the waste because the Federal government is in denial of the fact that Yucca Mountain, the proposed repository, is technically flawed and politically stagnated. In addition to the technical flaws of the repository itself, any repository plan is flawed due to the dangers inherent in actually shipping the nuclear waste. And these are no small hurdles: They've held up the project for more than 20 years already!

But keeping the waste where it is, in dry casks and spent fuel pools, is insanely dangerous. Didn't we learn from Banda Ache in 2004 (or Alaska in 1964) that the sea walls could NEVER be high enough? Didn't we learn from Loma Prieta, Northridge, and other seismic events that building codes don't mean buildings will stay up according to the code? Didn't we learn from the 2007 wildfires which almost cut the off-site power to San Onofre (which was completely down at the time, thus failing, once again, to provide "baseline" in an emergency) that evacuation after a nuclear event will be IMPOSSIBLE?

(Did you say, "duct tape," Mr. Governor? Duct tape and KI? You ARE in denial! Do you think band-aids are sufficient for amputations, too?)

Governor Schwarzenegger is also in denial of the true economic burden that electricity generated by nuclear power puts on the people of California. The fact is, using nuclear power for "baseline" energy is illogical. But nuclear-generated power certainly isn't good for anything OTHER than "baseline" because nuclear power plants are so difficult (and expensive, and dangerous) to stop and restart. They certainly cannot be "peaking power" plants. BUT -- and this is the part being denied -- they are prone to sudden, unexpected, and prolonged failures. AND when they fail, they fail completely -- you go from 1000 megawatts to zero megawatts output (or even to a 100 megawatt suck) in a fraction of a second. NOT GOOD for any state whose citizens love delicate electronic equipment as much as Californians do! To call nuclear power a useful "baseline" energy source -- as the industry routinely claims -- is to be in denial of the reliability benefits of a power grid supplied by distributed small-scale renewable energy generation systems. Or, for that matter, powered by ANYTHING half-way reliable, like, say, the sun or the wind.

Governor Schwarzenegger is also in denial of the true costs of nuclear power to our citizens in terms of cancer, leukemia, birth defects, and other ailments. Over the past six decades, independent study after independent study has SHOWN radiation to be MUCH MORE DANGEROUS than previously admitted -- or than the International Atomic Energy Commission (IAEA) or Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) want to admit. Over the decades, the limits for virtually every possible ionizing radiation dose have been reduced -- x-rays, exposures for nuclear workers, contamination of drinking water -- EVERYTHING. But the one thing they CAN'T reduce is the pollution generated every day by nuclear power plants: Tritium, cesium strontium, cobalt, plutonium, uranium -- ALL possible radioactive elements are released ALL THE TIME. The nuclear power industry simply DENIES IT. They leak only "legal" amounts and CALL IT "zero leakage." The two numbers are vastly different. The legal amounts are dangerous, and the denial is killing Californians.

Governor Schwarzenegger is also in denial about the alternatives. Even though we have added the energy equivalent of the entire output of California's four nuclear power plants about every two years for the past 15 years, the Governator evidently believes we can't simply close the four nuclear power reactors forever and be done with this awful mistake. We can. All nations, and all states, will have to some day soon, anyway -- it's INEVITABLE: Nuclear is unsustainable if only because its "oil" -- uranium -- is in short supply (and has gone up more than ten-fold in price in the past few years). Getting a head start on all the wondrous ways to get RID of this technology would be a good leadership position for California. And a typical one. We once cared about the land, the sea, the air, and our health. Perhaps we just don't anymore. Perhaps Arnold is not so health-conscious now, either.

Governor Schwarzenegger is also in denial about the democratic principles which were destroyed to force nuclear power on the citizens. When San Onofre and Diablo Canyon were being built, if you leafletted a parking lot, the authorities made a note of it. Even today, if you so much as simply speak at a hearing, you can be ABSOLUTELY SURE they'll investigate you and start a permanent file on you (and, of course, deny they've done that, too). If you become well known to the media, the NRC and the nuclear industry will counter everything you say with a press release. The nuclear power companies will provide biased full-color brochures for students from kindergarten through college, whenever they feel the community is starting to waver in their complacent disinterest in the complexities of nuclear power. The operators of San Onofre are funding 48 full scholarships in nuclear plant operations at a local college. The scholarships include room, board, books, tuition, and a paid summer internship at the plant. The college loves the money in these tight times. And all you have to give up to join is your open mind, your health, the health of any children you might have, and their children, and the life and health of millions if you make a mistake.

Governor Schwarzenegger is also in denial about what the public KNOWS about nuclear power. We know it is dangerous, just as we know that grenades at weddings are a bad mix. Perhaps the governor is fooled by the nuclear power industry (again), which claims that citizens just don't understand nuclear power. A national debate, or even a statewide debate is avoided, lest the reality of the situation come out, which is this: Nuclear power is a failed technology. It's been known for decades. Citizen-scientists who studied the issues in the 1950s warned of radiation dangers. Citizen-sleuths in the 1970s warned of airplane strikes in the style of 9-11. Citizen-economists all along kept pointing out the MASSIVE insurance fraud that accompanies nuclear power both in the form of Price-Anderson, which will underpay the afflicted to the tune of fractions of a penny to the dollar, AND in the form of exclusions in homeowner's insurance policies, which won't pay ANYTHING AT ALL after ANY nuclear accident -- power plant meltdown, submarine collision and meltdown, nuclear space probe landing on your head, Livermore Labs exploding Depleted Uranium in your face -- NONE OF IT IS EVER COVERED.

Governor Schwarzenegger is in denial of all of this, and so are a lot of people, and it's killing us.


Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

The author, 51, has studied nuclear issues for more than 35 years, and experienced bladder cancer in 2007. His award-winning educational computer animation programs are widely used in numerous industries, including the chemical industry, the fluid power industry, the medical profession, and a wide variety of scientific fields. He has interviewed over 1000 scientists regarding nuclear issues.
To email Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, use the two-step process described at the governor's INTERACT web site (URL given below). Be sure to include YOUR OWN COMMENTS along with a copy of THIS LETTER! Choose any appropriate "subject:"
** Russell "Ace" Hoffman, Owner & Chief Programmer
** P.O. Box 1936, Carlsbad CA 92018-1936
** (800) 551-2726 (U.S. & Canada)
** (760) 720-7261 (elsewhere)

"The Rainbow Coalition"

Here's a really historic speech about race and class in America...

Jesse Jackson
1984 Democratic National Convention Address
"The Rainbow Coalition"
Delivered 18 July 1984, San Francisco

Thank you very much.

Tonight we come together bound by our faith in a mighty God, with genuine respect and love for our country, and inheriting the legacy of a great Party, the Democratic Party, which is the best hope for redirecting our nation on a more humane, just, and peaceful course.

This is not a perfect party. We are not a perfect people. Yet, we are called to a perfect mission. Our mission: to feed the hungry; to clothe the naked; to house the homeless; to teach the illiterate; to provide jobs for the jobless; and to choose the human race over the nuclear race.

We are gathered here this week to nominate a candidate and adopt a platform which will expand, unify, direct, and inspire our Party and the nation to fulfill this mission. My constituency is the desperate, the damned, the disinherited, the disrespected, and the despised. They are restless and seek relief. They have voted in record numbers. They have invested the faith, hope, and trust that they have in us. The Democratic Party must send them a signal that we care. I pledge my best not to let them down.

There is the call of conscience, redemption, expansion, healing, and unity. Leadership must heed the call of conscience, redemption, expansion, healing, and unity, for they are the key to achieving our mission. Time is neutral and does not change things. With courage and initiative, leaders change things.

No generation can choose the age or circumstance in which it is born, but through leadership it can choose to make the age in which it is born an age of enlightenment, an age of jobs, and peace, and justice. Only leadership -- that intangible combination of gifts, the discipline, information, circumstance, courage, timing, will and divine inspiration -- can lead us out of the crisis in which we find ourselves. Leadership can mitigate the misery of our nation. Leadership can part the waters and lead our nation in the direction of the Promised Land. Leadership can lift the boats stuck at the bottom.

I have had the rare opportunity to watch seven men, and then two, pour out their souls, offer their service, and heal and heed the call of duty to direct the course of our nation. There is a proper season for everything. There is a time to sow and a time to reap. There's a time to compete and a time to cooperate.

I ask for your vote on the first ballot as a vote for a new direction for this Party and this nation -- a vote of conviction, a vote of conscience. But I will be proud to support the nominee of this convention for the Presidency of the United States of America. Thank you.

I have watched the leadership of our party develop and grow. My respect for both Mr. Mondale and Mr. Hart is great. I have watched them struggle with the crosswinds and crossfires of being public servants, and I believe they will both continue to try to serve us faithfully.

I am elated by the knowledge that for the first time in our history a woman, Geraldine Ferraro, will be recommended to share our ticket.

Throughout this campaign, I've tried to offer leadership to the Democratic Party and the nation. If, in my high moments, I have done some good, offered some service, shed some light, healed some wounds, rekindled some hope, or stirred someone from apathy and indifference, or in any way along the way helped somebody, then this campaign has not been in vain.

For friends who loved and cared for me, and for a God who spared me, and for a family who understood, I am eternally grateful.

If, in my low moments, in word, deed or attitude, through some error of temper, taste, or tone, I have caused anyone discomfort, created pain, or revived someone's fears, that was not my truest self. If there were occasions when my grape turned into a raisin and my joy bell lost its resonance, please forgive me. Charge it to my head and not to my heart. My head -- so limited in its finitude; my heart, which is boundless in its love for the human family. I am not a perfect servant. I am a public servant doing my best against the odds. As I develop and serve, be patient: God is not finished with me yet.

This campaign has taught me much; that leaders must be tough enough to fight, tender enough to cry, human enough to make mistakes, humble enough to admit them, strong enough to absorb the pain, and resilient enough to bounce back and keep on moving.

For leaders, the pain is often intense. But you must smile through your tears and keep moving with the faith that there is a brighter side somewhere.

I went to see Hubert Humphrey three days before he died. He had just called Richard Nixon from his dying bed, and many people wondered why. And I asked him. He said, "Jesse, from this vantage point, the sun is setting in my life, all of the speeches, the political conventions, the crowds, and the great fights are behind me now. At a time like this you are forced to deal with your irreducible essence, forced to grapple with that which is really important to you. And what I've concluded about life," Hubert Humphrey said, "When all is said and done, we must forgive each other, and redeem each other, and move on."

Our party is emerging from one of its most hard fought battles for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in our history. But our healthy competition should make us better, not bitter. We must use the insight, wisdom, and experience of the late Hubert Humphrey as a balm for the wounds in our Party, this nation, and the world. We must forgive each other, redeem each other, regroup, and move one. Our flag is red, white and blue, but our nation is a rainbow -- red, yellow, brown, black and white -- and we're all precious in God's sight.

America is not like a blanket -- one piece of unbroken cloth, the same color, the same texture, the same size. America is more like a quilt: many patches, many pieces, many colors, many sizes, all woven and held together by a common thread. The white, the Hispanic, the black, the Arab, the Jew, the woman, the native American, the small farmer, the businessperson, the environmentalist, the peace activist, the young, the old, the lesbian, the gay, and the disabled make up the American quilt.

Even in our fractured state, all of us count and fit somewhere. We have proven that we can survive without each other. But we have not proven that we can win and make progress without each other. We must come together.

From Fannie Lou Hamer in Atlantic City in 1964 to the Rainbow Coalition in San Francisco today; from the Atlantic to the Pacific, we have experienced pain but progress, as we ended American apartheid laws. We got public accommodations. We secured voting rights. We obtained open housing, as young people got the right to vote. We lost Malcolm, Martin, Medgar, Bobby, John, and Viola. The team that got us here must be expanded, not abandoned.

Twenty years ago, tears welled up in our eyes as the bodies of Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney were dredged from the depths of a river in Mississippi. Twenty years later, our communities, black and Jewish, are in anguish, anger, and pain. Feelings have been hurt on both sides. There is a crisis in communications. Confusion is in the air. But we cannot afford to lose our way. We may agree to agree; or agree to disagree on issues; we must bring back civility to these tensions.

We are co-partners in a long and rich religious history -- the Judeo-Christian traditions. Many blacks and Jews have a shared passion for social justice at home and peace abroad. We must seek a revival of the spirit, inspired by a new vision and new possibilities. We must return to higher ground. We are bound by Moses and Jesus, but also connected with Islam and Mohammed. These three great religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, were all born in the revered and holy city of Jerusalem.

We are bound by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Heschel, crying out from their graves for us to reach common ground. We are bound by shared blood and shared sacrifices. We are much too intelligent, much too bound by our Judeo-Christian heritage, much too victimized by racism, sexism, militarism, and anti-Semitism, much too threatened as historical scapegoats to go on divided one from another. We must turn from finger pointing to clasped hands. We must share our burdens and our joys with each other once again. We must turn to each other and not on each other and choose higher ground.

Twenty years later, we cannot be satisfied by just restoring the old coalition. Old wine skins must make room for new wine. We must heal and expand. The Rainbow Coalition is making room for Arab Americans. They, too, know the pain and hurt of racial and religious rejection. They must not continue to be made pariahs. The Rainbow Coalition is making room for Hispanic Americans who this very night are living under the threat of the Simpson-Mazzoli bill; and farm workers from Ohio who are fighting the Campbell Soup Company with a boycott to achieve legitimate workers' rights.

The Rainbow is making room for the Native American, the most exploited people of all, a people with the greatest moral claim amongst us. We support them as they seek the restoration of their ancient land and claim amongst us. We support them as they seek the restoration of land and water rights, as they seek to preserve their ancestral homeland and the beauty of a land that was once all theirs. They can never receive a fair share for all they have given us. They must finally have a fair chance to develop their great resources and to preserve their people and their culture.

The Rainbow Coalition includes Asian Americans, now being killed in our streets -- scapegoats for the failures of corporate, industrial, and economic policies.

The Rainbow is making room for the young Americans. Twenty years ago, our young people were dying in a war for which they could not even vote. Twenty years later, young America has the power to stop a war in Central America and the responsibility to vote in great numbers. Young America must be politically active in 1984. The choice is war or peace. We must make room for young America.

The Rainbow includes disabled veterans. The color scheme fits in the Rainbow. The disabled have their handicap revealed and their genius concealed; while the able-bodied have their genius revealed and their disability concealed. But ultimately, we must judge people by their values and their contribution. Don't leave anybody out. I would rather have Roosevelt in a wheelchair than Reagan on a horse.

The Rainbow is making room for small farmers. They have suffered tremendously under the Reagan regime. They will either receive 90 percent parity or 100 percent charity. We must address their concerns and make room for them. The Rainbow includes lesbians and gays. No American citizen ought be denied equal protection from the law.

We must be unusually committed and caring as we expand our family to include new members. All of us must be tolerant and understanding as the fears and anxieties of the rejected and the party leadership express themselves in many different ways. Too often what we call hate -- as if it were some deeply-rooted philosophy or strategy -- is simply ignorance, anxiety, paranoia, fear, and insecurity. To be strong leaders, we must be long-suffering as we seek to right the wrongs of our Party and our nation. We must expand our Party, heal our Party, and unify our Party. That is our mission in 1984.

We are often reminded that we live in a great nation -- and we do. But it can be greater still. The Rainbow is mandating a new definition of greatness. We must not measure greatness from the mansion down, but the manger up. Jesus said that we should not be judged by the bark we wear but by the fruit that we bear. Jesus said that we must measure greatness by how we treat the least of these.

President Reagan says the nation is in recovery. Those 90,000 corporations that made a profit last year but paid no federal taxes are recovering. The 37,000 military contractors who have benefited from Reagan's more than doubling of the military budget in peacetime, surely they are recovering. The big corporations and rich individuals who received the bulk of a three-year, multibillion tax cut from Mr. Reagan are recovering. But no such recovery is under way for the least of these.

Rising tides don't lift all boats, particularly those stuck at the bottom. For the boats stuck at the bottom there's a misery index. This Administration has made life more miserable for the poor. Its attitude has been contemptuous. Its policies and programs have been cruel and unfair to working people. They must be held accountable in November for increasing infant mortality among the poor. In Detroit one of the great cities of the western world, babies are dying at the same rate as Honduras, the most underdeveloped nation in our hemisphere. This Administration must be held accountable for policies that have contributed to the growing poverty in America. There are now 34 million people in poverty, 15 percent of our nation. 23 million are White; 11 million Black, Hispanic, Asian, and others -- mostly women and children. By the end of this year, there will be 41 million people in poverty. We cannot stand idly by. We must fight for a change now.

Under this regime we look at Social Security. The '81 budget cuts included nine permanent Social Security benefit cuts totaling 20 billion over five years. Small businesses have suffered under Reagan tax cuts. Only 18 percent of total business tax cuts went to them; 82 percent to big businesses. Health care under Mr. Reagan has already been sharply cut. Education under Mr. Reagan has been cut 25 percent. Under Mr. Reagan there are now 9.7 million female head families. They represent 16 percent of all families. Half of all of them are poor. 70 percent of all poor children live in a house headed by a woman, where there is no man. Under Mr. Reagan, the Administration has cleaned up only 6 of 546 priority toxic waste dumps. Farmers' real net income was only about half its level in 1979.

Many say that the race in November will be decided in the South. President Reagan is depending on the conservative South to return him to office. But the South, I tell you, is unnaturally conservative. The South is the poorest region in our nation and, therefore, [has] the least to conserve. In his appeal to the South, Mr. Reagan is trying to substitute flags and prayer cloths for food, and clothing, and education, health care, and housing.

Mr. Reagan will ask us to pray, and I believe in prayer. I have come to this way by the power of prayer. But then, we must watch false prophecy. He cuts energy assistance to the poor, cuts breakfast programs from children, cuts lunch programs from children, cuts job training from children, and then says to an empty table, "Let us pray." Apparently, he is not familiar with the structure of a prayer. You thank the Lord for the food that you are about to receive, not the food that just left. I think that we should pray, but don't pray for the food that left. Pray for the man that took the food to leave. We need a change. We need a change in November.

Under Mr. Reagan, the misery index has risen for the poor. The danger index has risen for everybody. Under this administration, we've lost the lives of our boys in Central America and Honduras, in Grenada, in Lebanon, in nuclear standoff in Europe. Under this Administration, one-third of our children believe they will die in a nuclear war. The danger index is increasing in this world. All the talk about the defense against Russia; the Russian submarines are closer, and their missiles are more accurate. We live in a world tonight more miserable and a world more dangerous.

While Reaganomics and Reaganism is talked about often, so often we miss the real meaning. Reaganism is a spirit, and Reaganomics represents the real economic facts of life. In 1980, Mr. George Bush, a man with reasonable access to Mr. Reagan, did an analysis of Mr. Reagan's economic plan. Mr. George Bush concluded that Reagan's plan was ''voodoo economics.'' He was right. Third-party candidate John Anderson said "a combination of military spending, tax cuts, and a balanced budget by '84 would be accomplished with blue smoke and mirrors." They were both right.

Mr. Reagan talks about a dynamic recovery. There's some measure of recovery. Three and a half years later, unemployment has inched just below where it was when he took office in 1981. There are still 8.1 million people officially unemployed; 11 million working only part-time. Inflation has come down, but let's analyze for a moment who has paid the price for this superficial economic recovery.

Mr. Reagan curbed inflation by cutting consumer demand. He cut consumer demand with conscious and callous fiscal and monetary policies. He used the Federal budget to deliberately induce unemployment and curb social spending. He then weighed and supported tight monetary policies of the Federal Reserve Board to deliberately drive up interest rates, again to curb consumer demand created through borrowing. Unemployment reached 10.7 percent. We experienced skyrocketing interest rates. Our dollar inflated abroad. There were record bank failures, record farm foreclosures, record business bankruptcies; record budget deficits, record trade deficits.

Mr. Reagan brought inflation down by destabilizing our economy and disrupting family life. He promised -- he promised in 1980 a balanced budget. But instead we now have a record 200 billion dollar budget deficit. Under Mr. Reagan, the cumulative budget deficit for his four years is more than the sum total of deficits from George Washington to Jimmy Carter combined. I tell you, we need a change.

How is he paying for these short-term jobs? Reagan's economic recovery is being financed by deficit spending -- 200 billion dollars a year. Military spending, a major cause of this deficit, is projected over the next five years to be nearly 2 trillion dollars, and will cost about 40,000 dollars for every taxpaying family. When the Government borrows 200 billion dollars annually to finance the deficit, this encourages the private sector to make its money off of interest rates as opposed to development and economic growth.

Even money abroad, we don't have enough money domestically to finance the debt, so we are now borrowing money abroad, from foreign banks, governments and financial institutions: 40 billion dollars in 1983; 70-80 billion dollars in 1984 -- 40 percent of our total; over 100 billion dollars -- 50 percent of our total -- in 1985. By 1989, it is projected that 50 percent of all individual income taxes will be going just to pay for interest on that debt. The United States used to be the largest exporter of capital, but under Mr. Reagan we will quite likely become the largest debtor nation.

About two weeks ago, on July the 4th, we celebrated our Declaration of Independence, yet every day supply-side economics is making our nation more economically dependent and less economically free. Five to six percent of our Gross National Product is now being eaten up with President Reagan's budget deficits. To depend on foreign military powers to protect our national security would be foolish, making us dependent and less secure. Yet, Reaganomics has us increasingly dependent on foreign economic sources. This consumer-led but deficit-financed recovery is unbalanced and artificial. We have a challenge as Democrats to point a way out.

Democracy guarantees opportunity, not success.

Democracy guarantees the right to participate, not a license for either a majority or a minority to dominate.

The victory for the Rainbow Coalition in the Platform debates today was not whether we won or lost, but that we raised the right issues. We could afford to lose the vote; issues are non-negotiable. We could not afford to avoid raising the right questions. Our self-respect and our moral integrity were at stake. Our heads are perhaps bloody, but not bowed. Our back is straight. We can go home and face our people. Our vision is clear.

When we think, on this journey from slave-ship to championship, that we have gone from the planks of the Boardwalk in Atlantic City in 1964 to fighting to help write the planks in the platform in San Francisco in '84, there is a deep and abiding sense of joy in our souls in spite of the tears in our eyes. Though there are missing planks, there is a solid foundation upon which to build. Our party can win, but we must provide hope which will inspire people to struggle and achieve; provide a plan that shows a way out of our dilemma and then lead the way.

In 1984, my heart is made to feel glad because I know there is a way out -- justice. The requirement for rebuilding America is justice. The linchpin of progressive politics in our nation will not come from the North; they, in fact, will come from the South. That is why I argue over and over again. We look from Virginia around to Texas, there's only one black Congressperson out of 115. Nineteen years later, we're locked out of the Congress, the Senate and the Governor's mansion. What does this large black vote mean? Why do I fight to win second primaries and fight gerrymandering and annexation and at-large [elections]. Why do we fight over that? Because I tell you, you cannot hold someone in the ditch unless you linger there with them. Unless you linger there.

If you want a change in this nation, you enforce that Voting Rights Act. We'll get 12 to 20 Black, Hispanics, female and progressive congresspersons from the South. We can save the cotton, but we've got to fight the boll weevils. We've got to make a judgment. We've got to make a judgment.

It is not enough to hope ERA will pass. How can we pass ERA? If Blacks vote in great numbers, progressive Whites win. It's the only way progressive Whites win. If Blacks vote in great numbers, Hispanics win. When Blacks, Hispanics, and progressive Whites vote, women win. When women win, children win. When women and children win, workers win. We must all come up together. We must come up together.

Thank you.

For all of our joy and excitement, we must not save the world and lose our souls. We should never short-circuit enforcing the Voting Rights Act at every level. When one of us rise[s], all of us will rise. Justice is the way out. Peace is the way out. We should not act as if nuclear weaponry is negotiable and debatable.

In this world in which we live, we dropped the bomb on Japan and felt guilty, but in 1984 other folks [have] also got bombs. This time, if we drop the bomb, six minutes later we, too, will be destroyed. It's not about dropping the bomb on somebody. It is about dropping the bomb on everybody. We must choose to develop minds over guided missiles, and think it out and not fight it out. It's time for a change.

Our foreign policy must be characterized by mutual respect, not by gunboat diplomacy, big stick diplomacy, and threats. Our nation at its best feeds the hungry. Our nation at its worst, at its worst, will mine the harbors of Nicaragua, at its worst will try to overthrow their government, at its worst will cut aid to American education and increase the aid to El Salvador; at its worst, our nation will have partnerships with South Africa. That's a moral disgrace. It's a moral disgrace. It's a moral disgrace.

We look at Africa. We cannot just focus on Apartheid in Southern Africa. We must fight for trade with Africa, and not just aid to Africa. We cannot stand idly by and say we will not relate to Nicaragua unless they have elections there, and then embrace military regimes in Africa overthrowing democratic governments in Nigeria and Liberia and Ghana. We must fight for democracy all around the world and play the game by one set of rules.

Peace in this world. Our present formula for peace in the Middle East is inadequate. It will not work. There are 22 nations in the Middle East. Our nation must be able to talk and act and influence all of them. We must build upon Camp David, and measure human rights by one yard stick. In that region we have too many interests and too few friends.

There is a way out -- jobs. Put America back to work. When I was a child growing up in Greenville, South Carolina, the Reverend Sample used to preach every so often a sermon relating to Jesus. And he said, "If I be lifted up, I'll draw all men unto me." I didn't quite understand what he meant as a child growing up, but I understand a little better now. If you raise up truth, it's magnetic. It has a way of drawing people.

With all this confusion in this Convention, the bright lights and parties and big fun, we must raise up the simple proposition: If we lift up a program to feed the hungry, they'll come running; if we lift up a program to study war no more, our youth will come running; if we lift up a program to put America back to work, and an alternative to welfare and despair, they will come working.

If we cut that military budget without cutting our defense, and use that money to rebuild bridges and put steel workers back to work, and use that money and provide jobs for our cities, and use that money to build schools and pay teachers and educate our children and build hospitals and train doctors and train nurses, the whole nation will come running to us.

As I leave you now, we vote in this convention and get ready to go back across this nation in a couple of days. In this campaign, I've tried to be faithful to my promise. I lived in old barrios, ghettos, and reservations and housing projects. I have a message for our youth. I challenge them to put hope in their brains and not dope in their veins. I told them that like Jesus, I, too, was born in the slum. But just because you're born in the slum does not mean the slum is born in you, and you can rise above it if your mind is made up. I told them in every slum there are two sides. When I see a broken window -- that's the slummy side. Train some youth to become a glazier -- that's the sunny side. When I see a missing brick -- that's the slummy side. Let that child in the union and become a brick mason and build -- that's the sunny side. When I see a missing door -- that's the slummy side. Train some youth to become a carpenter -- that's the sunny side. And when I see the vulgar words and hieroglyphics of destitution on the walls -- that's the slummy side. Train some youth to become a painter, an artist -- that's the sunny side.

We leave this place looking for the sunny side because there's a brighter side somewhere. I'm more convinced than ever that we can win. We will vault up the rough side of the mountain. We can win. I just want young America to do me one favor, just one favor. Exercise the right to dream. You must face reality -- that which is. But then dream of a reality that ought to be -- that must be. Live beyond the pain of reality with the dream of a bright tomorrow. Use hope and imagination as weapons of survival and progress. Use love to motivate you and obligate you to serve the human family.

Young America, dream. Choose the human race over the nuclear race. Bury the weapons and don't burn the people. Dream -- dream of a new value system. Teachers who teach for life and not just for a living; teach because they can't help it. Dream of lawyers more concerned about justice than a judgeship. Dream of doctors more concerned about public health than personal wealth. Dream of preachers and priests who will prophesy and not just profiteer. Preach and dream!

Our time has come. Our time has come. Suffering breeds character. Character breeds faith. In the end, faith will not disappoint. Our time has come. Our faith, hope, and dreams will prevail. Our time has come. Weeping has endured for nights, but now joy cometh in the morning. Our time has come. No grave can hold our body down. Our time has come. No lie can live forever. Our time has come. We must leave racial battle ground and come to economic common ground and moral higher ground. America, our time has come. We come from disgrace to amazing grace. Our time has come. Give me your tired, give me your poor, your huddled masses who yearn to breathe free and come November, there will be a change because our time has come.

Goldman sees credit losses totaling $1.2 trillion

Goldman sees credit losses totaling $1.2 trillion
Wed Mar 26, 2008

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs forecasts global credit losses stemming from the current market turmoil will reach $1.2 trillion, with Wall Street accounting for nearly 40 percent of the losses.

U.S. leveraged institutions, which include banks, brokers-dealers, hedge funds and government-sponsored enterprises, will suffer roughly $460 billion in credit losses after loan loss provisions, Goldman Sachs economists wrote in a research note released late on Monday.

Losses from this group of players are crucial because they have led to a dramatic pullback in credit availability as they have pared lending to shore up their capital and preserve their capital requirements, they said.

Goldman estimated $120 billion in write-offs have been reported by these leveraged institutions since the credit crunch began last summer.

"U.S. leveraged institutions have written off less than half of the losses associated with the bursting of the credit bubble," they said. "There is light at the end of the tunnel, but it is still rather dim."

Of the cumulative losses expected by these leveraged players, bad residential home loans will represent about half, while poor-performing commercial mortgages will represent 15 percent to 20 percent.

The rest of the losses will come from credit card loans, car loans, commercial and industrial lending and non-financial corporate bonds, Goldman economists said.

Facing more credit losses, leveraged institutions have raised about $100 billion in new capital from domestic and foreign investors and reduced dividend payouts. This amount is more than three-quarters of the write-offs to date, the report said.

(Reporting by Richard Leong)

Companies on S&P Watch List

Credit Crunch Puts Some Companies on S&P Watch List

Homeowners aren't alone in struggling to keep up with their interest payments. As Bear Stearns' near-brush with bankruptcy shows, some companies also are dodging the repo man. Already this year, 24 public companies with assets worth $9.9 billion have filed for bankruptcy protection, says. That's two-thirds higher than the defaults during the same periods in 2007 and 2006.

Things will likely get much worse. Bond watchers are braced for many more blowups as companies struggle with their debt loads and consumers cut back on their spending. Debt-rating agency Standard & Poor's expects at least 4.6% of speculative-graded companies to default by the end of the year, up from the 25-year low of 1.1% in January and above the historical 4.4% average, says Diane Vazza, managing director at S&P.

If S&P is right, that could mean as many as 74 additional defaulting companies within the next 12 months.

While nobody knows exactly which companies will default and which will turn themselves around, S&P's latest list of its "weakest links" shows companies that have the lowest credit ratings and face a strong possibility of additional downgrades.

Worldwide, there are 114 companies on the weakest-link list, the highest number in 16 months. And there are now 93 U.S. companies on the list, including some household names, such as Eddie Bauer, Sbarro, Guitar Center, Blockbuster, Six Flags and Linens 'n Things. The number of U.S. weakest-link companies jumped 13% from February through March, showing just how much strain some companies are under.

"We're on the first leg in the up-cycle of defaults," Vazza says. "The second half and in 2009, we're going to see a lot more deterioration. This is just the beginning."

There are some clear-cut trends among companies that are struggling the most, including those that:

Rely on consumer discretionary spending

Companies that depend on consumers spending money for non-essential items are most at risk as the economy slows, S&P says. Industries with the most "weak links" include entertainment, consumer products and restaurants.

One industry that really stands out is retailing. Consider Linens 'n Things, which sells home products. It is not publicly held and declined to comment for this story. But industry leader Bed Bath & Beyond cut its forecast for its fiscal fourth quarter ended in February. Bed Bath & Beyond has no long-term debt, unlike Linens 'n Things, which has $650 million, S&P says.

Another well-known retailer, Eddie Bauer, is on S&P's list. Last year, the seller of outdoor apparel lost $102 million on top of a $212 million loss in 2006. Eddie Bauer also carries heavy debt — more than $260 million, exceeding the $256 million of equity in the company, says S&P's Capital IQ.

Eddie Bauer is part of a trend that saw retailers boost debt by 31% the past year, says research from Marti Kopacz of Grant Thornton. Eddie Bauer did not return calls for comment. High debt is a heavy load for firms when shoppers are in a sluggish economy.

"You can buy fewer pillows and not eat out as many times," Vazza says.

But Robert Friedman, CEO of retailer Loehmann's, says being in a challenging business and having heavy debt shouldn't land his company on S&P's list. It's "uncalled for," he says. "We are not delinquent with any payments."

Carry heavy debt loads

Borrowing might have seemed like a sound idea when financing was cheap and easy to get, but companies that loaded up on debt now know it can bite hard when the economy slows and credit dries up.

When debt comes due, shakier companies that can't afford to pay it off may have trouble replacing it with new debt now that lenders have tightened up, says Jing Zhang, head of research at Moody's KMV. About $6.8 trillion in corporate loans and bonds come due this year, he says.

Just making payments on existing loans can be more onerous as business slows down.

Six Flags, the operator of amusement parks across the country, is attempting to turn around its business while carrying debt of $2.7 billion. "The debt is a problem," says David Miller, analyst at SMH Capital.

The suggestion Six Flags may be a candidate for bankruptcy any time soon is "silly," he says. The company has had a string of "biblically bad luck," including bad weather in many of its markets last year. While the company's debt load is large, it doesn't come due until 2010, Miller says.

Analysts expect the company's earnings to double in the third quarter, says Reuters Estimates. The company didn't return calls.

Heavy debt is also an issue at Blockbuster. The video rental chain's former parent company loaded it up with more than $1 billion in debt, says Michael Pachter, analyst at Wedbush Morgan.

But he thinks bankruptcy isn't a risk. The company's debt is down to $758 million, with just $44.7 million due this year and $56.5 million due next year, he says. Blockbuster is expected to generate at least $100 million in cash flow, more than enough to service the debt, so "The risk of default is nil in 2008 or 2009," he says.

Blockbuster also doesn't see imminent danger. "We expect to generate meaningful cash flow to return Blockbuster to profitability and be in full compliance with debt covenants," says spokesman Randy Hargrove.

Some blame private-equity firms for loading too much debt on companies they bought.

IAP Worldwide, a defense contractor owned by private-equity firm Cerberus, has $535 million in debt and is on S&P's list. But in an e-mailed response, Cerberus said IAP has been able to restructure its debt.

Face operational issues

Krispy Kreme is an example of companies on S&P's list that have had persistent problems in managing themselves profitably. Ever since the doughnut chain's accounting scandal in 2004 and 2005, it has been trying to turn itself around.

Aftereffects of the accounting mess coupled with too many new stores have put the company in a tight spot. It has lost money for 13-consecutive quarters, and Thomson Financial says analysts expect the company to lose money again when it reports fiscal fourth-quarter results April 7. Its stock has fallen more than 90% the past five years. Krispy Kreme has had a revolving door of executives and in January named a new CEO. A few months earlier, it said it would realign operations. Krispy Kreme declined to comment for this story.

But while some companies and industries face serious challenges both internally and externally, Moody's Zhang doesn't expect a serious default epidemic. "Default risk has been increasing," he says. "But the relative level is very low."

Small Business Forced to Close by Wal-Mart

Small Business Forced to Close by Gov't. Subsidies to Wal-Mart
By Sherwood Ross

Small retailers the nation over are being pushed out of business by government subsidies to chain competitors such as Wal-Mart and Target through a variety of “corporate socialism” schemes, taxation authority David Cay Johnston says.

Municipalities are permitting “tax increment financing” that allow the big chains “to keep the sales taxes that you are forced to pay at the tax register,” Johnston said on the television interview program “Books of Our Time,” sponsored by the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover and broadcast by Comcast.

“Instead of that money going to the schools and the fire department and the police department and the library, it is funneled through a mechanism of local government, usually a special authority, to finance the purchase of municipal bonds so that means that the wealthy underwriters and the lawyers and auditors all get a piece of this money to buy the land and build the store,” Johnson told TV host Lawrence Velvel, dean of the law school.

The store is then leased to the big chain developer “at terms that amount to giving it to them for free or nearly free over a period of time,” Johnston said, “and it’s destroying local business.” An amazing aspect of this “corporate socialism” policy, Johnston says, “is that local business owners have not risen up and stopped this.”

“A system in which government, whether Federal or local, picks the winners in the economy, is not capitalism, it’s not competition, it’s not free market, it is corporate socialism, it is statism, it’s the state making these choices,” Johnston said.

In his new book, “Free Lunch”(Portfolio) Johnston amplifies this point by noting “Sam Walton practiced corporate socialism. As much as he could, he put the public’s money to work for his benefit. Free land, long-term leases at below-market rates, pocketing sales taxes, even getting workers trained at government expense were among the ways Wal-Mart took every dollar of welfare it could get.”

“Walton had a particular fondness for government-sponsored industrial revenue bonds,” Johnston continued, “which cost him less in interest charges than the corporate bonds the market economy uses to raise money.”

Johnston said in the television interview that if the public really understood what was happening they would not permit government subsidies to corporations to go forward.

Johnston pointed out: “Subsidies to retail cannot make us wealthier. Retail is at the end of the economic line. If you want to subsidize things, first subsidize education, then subsidize basic research, then subsidize applied research and development and subsidize infrastructure---rails and canals and highways---and maybe in some cases manufacturing and mining to get something going. But the least bang for the buck, and often the negative bang for the buck, would be subsidizing retail. What’s happening is wealthy families, the richest families in America, are getting welfare and they apparently have no shame about this.”

Johnston points out government handouts for Wal-Mart “reduce the costs of competing in the market” and by soliciting the subsidies “Wal-Mart shifted some of the risks of its expansion onto the majority of Americans who are not regular Wal-Mart shoppers.”

He said the fortune Wal-Mart is reaping is no different from what other corporate players are getting. “We are transferring enormous amounts of money to corporations and wealthy individuals,” Johnston pointed out. For example, he said, “We gave Warren Buffett’s companies a hundred million dollar gift last year.” (Buffett’s firm has a two-thirds-billion-dollar, interest-free loan from our government for more than 28 year, Johnston notes. Similarly, Donald Trump benefits from a tax enacted to help the elderly and the poor but part of which is now diverted to his casinos, Johnston says.)

“The incomes of the top one percent are exploding, are pulling away from everybody else,” Johnston said, “while the middle-class is stifling and the bottom is dropping out (of the economy).”

Author Johnson, for many years the tax reporter for The New York Times, has won a Pulitzer Prize and many other awards and uncovered so many tax dodges that he has been called the “de facto chief tax enforcement officer of the United States.”

The Massachusetts School of Law(MSL), sponsors of “Books Of Our Time,” is a non-profit institution dedicated to providing a quality, affordable legal education to minorities’, immigrants, and students from economically disadvantaged families who would otherwise not be able to attend law school and enter the legal profession.

--Further Information: Sherwood Ross, media consultant to MSL at

Tata Motors buys Jaguar, Land Rover from Ford

Tata Motors buys Jaguar, Land Rover from Ford for 2.3 bln usd
March 26, 2008

MUMBAI, Mar. 26, 2008 (Thomson Financial delivered by Newstex) -- Indian automaker Tata Motors Ltd said it has agreed to buy the Jaguar and Land Rover brands from Ford Motor Co (NYSE:F PRS) (NYSE:F PRA) (NYSE:F) for 2.3 bln usd cash.

Tata Motors, which has been negotiating the deal since January, said it would support the growth of the two brands, which employ about 16,000 people at plants in the West Midlands and Merseyside in the UK.

It added the deal will be funded through a bridge finance facility along with the company's existing cash resources.

The company will raise 3 bln usd for a period of 15 months as bridge finance from a small syndicate of banks, which will be refinanced through long-term debt or equity or unlocking value from some of its investments in various units, a company spokesman said.

In a conference call, Tata Motors said Jaguar-Land Rover will operate as subsidiaries under holding company Tata Motors (UK) Holdings Ltd.

'We have enormous respect for the two brands and will endeavour to preserve and build on their heritage and competitiveness, keeping their identities intact,' Tata Motors chairman Ratan Tata said in a statement.

Under the deal, which is expected to close by the end of next quarter, Ford will continue to supply Jaguar and Land Rover with vehicle components and environmental and platform technologies and will also provide financing for dealers and customers through Ford Motor Credit Co.

The US-based company has also committed to provide engineering support, including research and development, as well as information technology, Tata Motors said.

Ford will also contribute about 600 mln usd to the Jaguar Land Rover pension plans.

Ford said the sale, which was first mooted last August, would allow it to focus on turning around its core Ford brand.

'Jaguar and Land Rover are terrific brands,' said Ford president and CEO Alan Mulally. 'We are confident that they are leaving our fold with the products, plan and team to continue to thrive under Tata's stewardship.'
Ford bought Jaguar for 2.5 bln usd in 1989 and Land Rover for 2.7 bln usd in 2000, and joined them with Aston Martin and Volvo to form its Premier Automotive Group.

But after posting losses of 12.6 bln usd in 2006 and 2.7 bln in 2007, it sold Aston Martin for 479 mln stg last March and put Jaguar and Land Rover on the block in the summer.

Jaguar is thought to have never made a profit for the company -- Ford does not separate results for its brands -- despite investment of about 10 bln usd since it was acquired.

Land Rover, which makes the top-end Range Rover as well as the Discovery and Freelander 4x4 ranges, however, is believed to have made profits of about 1.5 bln usd last year, and the two companies combined are thought to be profitable.

Industry analysts said the price paid was at the top end of expectations, although they said it is difficult to quantify the value of supply and engineering support agreements.

Eric Wallbank, automotive industry leader for Ernst & Young in the UK, said the deal would give Tata access to useful technologies, while Ford would get money to revive its North American operation.

'The deal also removes the uncertainty that has distracted the management, employees and customers of both companies,' he said. 'The companies can move forward with a high degree of certainty.'
Unions in the UK said selling to Tata was the best option for the brands.

'Today's deal is really good news for the UK automotive industry and the thousands of people who work for Land Rover Jaguar and its supply chain,' said Roger Maddison, Unite National Officer for the automotive industry.

'Unite has secured written guarantees for all five UK plants on staffing levels, employee terms and conditions, including pensions, and sourcing agreements,' he added. 'The sale ensures our members' futures and we look forward to working with Tata.'

Piyush Parag, an analyst with Religare Research, said the acquisition is positive for Tata Motors because the company will be able to enter into the luxury automobile segment with these brands.

Prior to this announcement, but amid media reports of the deal being inked today, Tata Motors closed down 0.08 pct at 679.40 rupees on the Bombay (OOTC:BBAO) Stock Exchange while the benchmark index ended 0.81 pct lower at 16,086.83.

Tata Motors is part of the salt-to-software Tata Group.

Subprime Mortgages in Minority Neighborhoods

October 15, 2007
Subprime Mortgages Concentrated in City’s Minority Neighborhoods
By Ford Fessenden

High-cost “subprime” home mortgages became widely popular in New York City, as they have across the region and the country in the last few years. New data from the federal government show that subprime loans made up 32 percent of mortgages on 1- to 4-family residences in the city in 2006, up from 28 percent in 2005. Most of these loans went to minority borrowers.

An interactive graphic by The New York Times allows users to compare neighborhoods according to the rate of subprime mortgages. In the city, subprime loans have been particularly prevalent in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods, including eastern Brooklyn, southeastern Queens and the south-central Bronx.

Throughout the region, the surge in subprime lending across the region in recent years is helping to fuel a boom in foreclosures.

And now a new study by New York University’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, as Manny Fernandez reports in today’s Times, shows that some buyers in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods in New York City were more likely to get their mortgages last year from a subprime lender than home buyers in white neighborhoods with similar income levels.
In general, even middle-class and wealthy minority home buyers have been more likely than their white counterparts to get high-cost, subprime loans, a pattern that housing activists have decried for years as evidence that prime lenders aren’t living up to their responsibilities under the Community Reinvestment Act, which requires banks to lend in areas all areas in which they do business.

The interactive map of mortgage loans by Census tract shows clearly that subprime lending was especially common in the areas of the city where minorities live. The majority of loans in places like Bushwick, East New York, Locust Manor, St. Albans, and much of the Bronx, was subprime, a fact that could have implications for redevelopment in those areas if foreclosures on subprime loans continue to climb.

Most of the lending in Manhattan, northeast Queens, and the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Park Slope and Bay Ridge was by prime lenders, at low, prime interest rates. But even in those areas, some mortgages were subprimes.

Any loan that carried an interest rate more than three percentage points above the prevailing rate for longterm treasury bonds was considered a subprime mortgage. During 2006, treasury rates ranged from 4.5 to 5.3 percent. Prime mortgage interest rates averaged between 6.1 and 6.8 percent percent, according to Freddie Mac, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation.

Obama related to Pitt, Clinton to Jolie

Obama related to Pitt, Clinton to Jolie
By DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press Writer

This could make for one odd family reunion: Barack Obama is a distant cousin of actor Brad Pitt, and Hillary Rodham Clinton is related to Pitt's girlfriend, Angelina Jolie.

Researchers at the New England Historic Genealogical Society found some remarkable family connections for the three presidential candidates — Democratic rivals Obama and Clinton, and Republican John McCain.

Clinton, who is of French-Canadian descent on her mother's side, is also a distant cousin of singers Madonna, Celine Dion and Alanis Morissette. Obama, the son of a white woman from Kansas and a black man from Kenya, can call six U.S. presidents, including George W. Bush, his cousins. McCain is a sixth cousin of first lady Laura Bush.

Genealogist Christopher Child said that while the candidates often focus on pointing out differences between them, their ancestry shows they are more alike than they think.

"It shows that lots of different people can be related, people you wouldn't necessarily expect," Child said.

Obama has a prolific presidential lineage that features Democrats and Republicans. His distant cousins include President George W. Bush and his father, George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford, Lyndon Johnson, Harry S. Truman and James Madison. Other Obama cousins include Vice President Dick Cheney, British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill and Civil War General Robert E. Lee.

"His kinships are across the political spectrum," Child said.

Child has spent the last three years tracing the candidates' genealogy, along with senior research scholar Gary Boyd Roberts, author of the 1989 book, "Ancestors of American Presidents."

Clinton's distant cousins include beatnik author Jack Kerouac and Camilla Parker-Bowles, wife of Prince Charles of England.

McCain's ancestry was more difficult to trace because records on his relatives were not as complete as records for the families of Obama and Clinton, Child said.

Obama and President Bush are 10th cousins, once removed, linked by Samuel Hinkley of Cape Cod, who died in 1662.

Pitt and Obama are ninth cousins, linked by Edwin Hickman, who died in Virginia in 1769.

Clinton and Jolie are ninth cousins, twice removed, both related to Jean Cusson who died in St. Sulpice, Quebec, in 1718.

The New England Historic Genealogical Society, founded in 1845, is the oldest and largest nonprofit genealogical organization in the country.

Donna Brazile offers Hillary Clinton a reminder

Donna Brazile offers Hillary Clinton a reminder about Rev. Wright

Donna Brazile -- an uncommitted superdelegate of the Democratic National Convention and one of television's few black, female political pundits -- interjected an intriguing observation this afternoon into a discussion on CNN about Hillary Clinton's stiff-arming of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

In short, Brazile provided a pointed reminder that some voters (African Americans, in particular, we would think) might recall that Wright did not turn on Clinton's husband during an hour of need for him.

Clinton, for the first time since the fury over Barack Obama's tart-tongued former minister erupted more than a week ago, today rebuked her rival in the Democratic presidential race for his link to the pastor. Responding to question during a sit-down with a Pittsburgh newspaper -- and then later reiterating her position to other reporters in Pennsylvania -- Clinton said she would not have been a member of a church headed by someone, like Wright, who indulged in racially tinged invective.

Her comments assured another burst of attention on the Obama-Wright connection -- something her campaign didn't have to do during the white-hot heat of the controversy. And it took part of the media spotlight away from her faulty memory (or, less kindly, utter fabrication) about her visit to Bosnia when she was first lady.

Clinton could have contented herself with decrying Wright's messages without saying, in essence, that no way would she tolerate an association with the likes of him.

That's what Brazile picked up on, making a reference to Wright's willingness to join dozens of other religious figures in attending an annual White House prayer breakfast just as the Starr report on Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky -- in all its lurid detail -- was about to come out. No doubt ... those at the event -- at least the vast majority of them -- highly disapproved of Clinton's behavior. But they were not willing to shun him.

Brazile's none-too-subtle point: There's a potential downside to turning away, with nary a forgiving nod, from those who once stood by you.

Wright, by the way, remains out of the public eye. He had been invited to preach tonight, Wednesday and Thursday at a church in Tampa, but his appearance was canceled because of security concerns.

-- Don Frederick

Hillary Wants to Flip Pledged Delegates?

Political Punch
Power, pop, and probings from ABC News Senior National Correspondent Jake Tapper
Jake Tapper is ABC News' Senior National Correspondent based in the network's Washington bureau. He writes about politics and popular culture and covers a range of national stories.

Hillary Wants to Flip Pledged Delegates?
March 25, 2008

In Monday's ed board meeting with the Philadelphia Daily News, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., was asked about the basic math obstructing her path to the nomination.

Specifically, she was asked her plans if, come June, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., remains in the lead with pledged delegates, how she would try to convince superdelegates to give her the nomination if Obama does end up the choice of primary voters and caucus goers?

"I just don't think this is over yet," she said, "and I don't think that it is smart for us to take a position that might disadvantage us in November. And also remember that pledged delegates in most states are not pledged. You know, there is no requirement that anybody vote for anybody. They're just like superdelegates."

Say what?

This notion that the Clinton campaign will try to flip pledged delegates has been floated and knocked down before, but I'm failing to arrive at any other interpretation for what she means here other than: we will convince pledged delegates to vote for us, as is perfectly within Democratic party rules, despite the voters who elected them to support Obama.

The Clinton campaign was just asked about this in a conference call.

Clinton senior adviser Harold Ickes said, "No delegate is required by party rule to vote for the candidate for which they're pledged. Obviously circumstances can change and people's minds can change about the viability of a candidate."

Clinton campaign deputy communications director Phil Singer then added: "We are not seeking or asking pledged delegates for Sen. Obama to flip over . . . We are not engaged in any efforts (to flip Obama delegates)."

Is the Clinton campaign's continual reminder to voters (and delegates) that they're allowed to flip not an effort?

It all seems to feed into some negative memes for Sen. Clinton out there -- fairly or unfairly -- of ruthlessness, at the very least.