Category: News and politics


Get your hands off me, TSA!

These airport so-called security measures amount to state-sponsored sexual harassment

From http://www.guardian.co.uk

TSA body scanner images 

Your picture here: images from a TSA scanner at Arlington, Virginia. Photograph: Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla

Listen to this: “My freely chosen bedmates and doctors are the only ones allowed to see my naked body or touch my genitalia.” For a sane person in a sane country that’s the ultimate in “no shit, Sherlock” statement. But not where I live.

Not the United States of America. Not since 11 September 2001, when the government reacted to an attack on its citizens by lashing out against the very citizenry it claims to protect. No bureaucracy better embodies that reactionary principle than the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), whose contempt for American citizens has grown so great that they now require we submit to government agents either photographing our, to them, visibly naked bodies or groping us in molestation-style patdowns if we ever want to fly again.  
 
I’m sick of the craven cliches TSA apologists have cited these past nine years:

“They protect us from terrorists.”

No, they impose pointlessly superstitious security theatre, trample Americans’ constitutional rights and make foreigners feel sorry for us. TSA protected nobody with its infamous “bathroom bans” after last year’s Christmas terror attempt; rules like “keep your lap empty and your hands visible at all times” only demonstrated the agency’s willingness to treat ordinary citizens like serial killers in supermax prison.
 
“You gave up your rights when you bought an airline ticket.”

I never gave up any rights. The government stole them while cowards egged them on.

“TSA agents are just doing their jobs.”

A lousy apologia and historically ignorant to boot; the civilised world established at Nuremberg that “just following orders” cuts no ice. And my fellow Americans are realising “it’ll stop terrorists” cuts none either, at least not to justify low-grade sexual harassment as standard behaviour for government agents.
 
It’s not hyperbole to call the enhanced patdown a low-grade sexual assault; if you don’t believe me, go find some woman’s boobs or man’s balls, start cupping and squeezing them according to new TSA standards, and count how many offences you’re charged with. Last month, an agent openly admitted that the purpose of the aggressive new patdowns was to intimidate people into choosing the nude scanners instead.
 
And Homeland Security director Janet Napolitano justified this Hobson’s choice – and abandoned all pretence of being a “servant” accountable to the public – in an insufferably arrogant column she wrote for USA Today, burying outright lies beneath eye-glazing bureaucratic prose. “The imaging technology that we use cannot store, export, print or transmit images,” she claimed – though this was proven untrue almost as soon as the scanners were put in use; last August, US marshals admitted to storing 35,000 images collected from one single courthouse – some of which have now been obtained by the website Gizmodo under a freedom of information request.

“Rigorous privacy safeguards are also in place to protect the travelling public.”

You can’t claim privacy points when ordering people to let you either see them naked or feel them up.

“The vast majority of travellers say they prefer this technology to alternative screening measures.”

No, the vast majority realise Napolitano’s gone too far this time, and the backlash has finally begun. November 24 – the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday, and one of the busiest flying days of the year – is National Opt-Out Day, whose organiser Brian Sodegren calls for all Americans to refuse the nude scanners and insist the patdown be done in full public view, so everyone can see how law-abiding travelers are treated in the Land of the Free. Sodegren points out the obvious:

“You should never have to explain to your children, ‘Remember that no stranger can touch or see your private area, unless it’s a government employee, then it’s OK.'”

Similarly, the group We Won’t Fly calls for my fellow Americans to “Jam TSA checkpoints by opting out until they remove the porno-scanners!”
 
I’ve flown only three times since the inception of the TSA, and only when I couldn’t avoid it: two business trips and a funeral I couldn’t drive to. But I won’t fly on vacation; and last winter, when I thought I’d need to cross the Atlantic, I made reservations in Canada – a 450-mile drive to the airport, but worth it to avoid the TSA.
 
I’m not alone. Industry leaders reportedly met with Napolitano to express their concerns; as one executive with the US Travel Association fretted, “We have received hundreds of e-mails and phone calls from travelers vowing to stop flying.”

Airline executives are rich. Maybe they’ve got the clout to stop TSA bullying. Napolitano clearly doesn’t care if ordinary Americans quit flying altogether; at Ronald Reagan National Airport, she openly offered “travel by other means” as the only option for people who won’t submit to the new TSA probes.
 
That’s what we’ve been reduced to in America: security measures lifted from bad porn plots, and hoping this latest outrage inconveniences enough rich guys with political connections to get it repealed.

GORDON DUFF: THE “CALIFORNIA MYSTERY MISSILE”

November 17, 2010 posted by Gordon Duff  from http://www.veteranstoday.com

weather balloon soars into space

AN EPIC AMERICAN FAILURE

By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor

The submarine launch of an ICBM off the California coast on November 8 is a milestone in American history.  The immediate denials that it was an American test were a public relations disaster.  America’s government does little but lie to its people, 9/11, Osama bin Laden, we could go on forever.  In fact, nothing coming out of Washington or the press is remotely credible and it has finally been proven.

A submarine comes approaches America’s heavily guarded coast, through a network of defenses costing billions, and launches an ICBM capable of carrying up to 10 hydrogen bombs, launches the missile 2 minutes from Los Angeles, and we are utterly unaware?  This is the same military we trust our children’s lives to?

This is the same military that spent a 9 years hunting for Osama bin Laden, knowing he was dead, hundreds of millions of dollars, endless lives lost, all over a lie.  Keeping bin Laden’s death secret is a deception not unlike the phony Yemen bomb scare and the “crotch bomber” last Christmas, “third rate boogeyman” ploys to justify wasted money and airport passenger abuse.

This is the same military that killed 5000 Americans in Iraq over more lies, always known to be lies.  Behind the flag waving and patriotic blithering is a pack of greedy incompetents, many religious extremists, most up to their necks in right wing politics and too many willing to send us to war for their own personal reasons.  A patriot wouldn’t last 5 minutes in Americas military.

They would tear the place down around them, screaming “thieves, liars and cowards” as they did it.  This, however, this last insult, is just too much.   The America people expected a decent lie.  It is now nearly 10 days later and the military believes they can simply put their pointy little heads in the sand and the rest of us can go to hell?  Not hardly!

Laid bare is the level of post Cold War leadership in the Pentagon, accustomed to wasting money,  fabricating war news and trying to lie their way to empty victory in wars without plan or purpose, long proven unwinable.

WHO DID IT

A Veterans Today independent analysis of the film by missile specialists indicates that the launches was submarine based, the missile was a large ICBM and the contrail coloration indicated other than NATO origin.

Wayne Madsen, says the missile was fired from a Chinese submarine.  Madsen has a fairly good track record on such things.  There are 5 nations, all permanent members of the UN Security Council, that have such capabilities.  (India soon)  Madsen’s claim that China launched the missile just prior to announcing the lowering of America’s credit rating from A+ to AA, just above “junk bonds” is part of the story and certainly explains the timing.  America’s ability to play world bully with someone else’s money is at an end.

However, it is more than economics, the moved by the Federal Reserve to buy up its own debt, a shady currency manipulation aimed at China, or the push to continue the Bush era “free ride” tax breaks, all make America an unreliable investment.  There are 5000 criminals in Wall Street that, if they lived in China, would have gotten a bullet in the brain.  In stead, America gave them 2 trillion dollars in borrowed from China and jailed poor old Bernie Madoff.  There are other reasons for China to mistrust America, a nation they clearly see as under the control of gangsters and extremists.

Thus the warning.

IS IT REALLY CHINA?

There is only one reason that the United States didn’t announce the usual “weather balloon” or “box cutters” cover stories.  It means that the nation responsible, assuming it is China, warned us that they would go public and that the American military had to live with the humiliation as a punishment.

There is no other explanation.  There also is no other “suspect” than China, who has the interests in the Pacific region, the technical capability and the complex “love-hate” relationship with the United States.  China finances Americas debt, they are our largest trading partner, certainly our primary business partner in the world today in every way and are still continually presented to the American people as an enemy.  Our homes are filled with Chinese products, without China, our local Walmarts would stand empty.

Assuming China, and without a denial from the Pentagon, we must assume China, what could the United States have done to push them this far?  Is China telling the United States that we are ‘mad dogs’ ready to be “put down?”

WHO IS CHINA?

America’s ignorance of history will continue to assure that America remains a victim of history’s lessons.  China forgets nothing.

The Opium Wars of the 19th century were an announcement to the world that China was open for business, not trade, certainly not development but for crime and exploitation at the hands of the colonial powers of Europe, Russia and Japan.  Over the next half decade, culminating in the Boxer Rebellion, China was carved up, piece at a time, humiliated and crushed.  Nobody stood up for China, nobody but the United States.  American missionaries were in every region of China, running schools, orphanages and earning the trust and affection of the Chinese people.  It is one of those bright spots in American history.

McKinley’s Secretary of State, John Hay sided with China against the ravages of the colonial powers with his Open Door circulars.  America’s policy toward China was one of open and free trade, something impossible under the system of “treaty ports” and “extrality” being used to subjugate China into a checkerboard of “interest zones.”

China learned to hate the west but not America.  American’s were raised on the books of Pearl Buck who presented the countless generations of suffering and perseverance of the Chinese people in an idyllic manner.  These were the books I read as a child, before that, read by my mother, who grew up with them in a coal mining camp in Kentucky.  Millions of Americans knew more of China than they did their own country, felt a bond, a kinship and a partnership of spirit.

With the Japanese invasion and its endless atrocities America was divided on China.  Franklin Roosevelt and the majority of the American people sided with China.  Wall Street and the oil companies sided with Japan and kept sending oil, scrap metal and other vital resources which allowed Japan to build a military machine to control, not only China but huge portions of the Pacific as well.  This would lead to period of unpleasantness between Japan and the United States culminating with the incineration of most of Japan’s cities.

Every child in China is taught about the AVG, the American Volunteer Group, the “Flying Tigers.”  American pilots, under the leadership of General Claire Lee Chennault, provided the only resistance to Japanese bombing attacks on Chinese cities.

Describing the tumultuous period of Chinese history during the 20s and 30s is a task best left elsewhere.  Suffice it to say, the struggle between the Nationalists under Chiang kai-shek  and the communist forces under Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai are filled with twists and turns.  During the 1920s, they were forced to worked together for awhile but Chiang turned on the communists who escaped his trap in what is now called “the Long March.”  Later, when America entered the war, the Nationalists and communists joined forces under the supervision of American General Joseph Stillwell.

It is noted that the communists under Mao made far better allies than Chiang’s nationalists.  A recommended read on this is Edgar Snow’s Red Star Over China.

With the advent of the Cold War and American misconceptions about the nature of Soviet and Chinese communism, America chose the disastrous policy of supporting the hopeless Nationalist cause and, eventually, direct military confrontation with a fully communist China during the Korean war.  China could just as easily have been an American ally against the Soviets, even with its communist government, if it weren’t for the McCarthy witch hunt and the leadership failures of the Truman administration, some being deeply paralleled by President Obama today.

China had never been America’s enemy.  It took “ping pong diplomacy” and Richard Nixon to restore balance and sanity to American policy after decades of childish blithering about the menace of “Red China,” an imaginary threat, being continually harped on by neo-cons even today, whenever the public tires of the fictions about Islamic extremism.

Today, China’s friendship for America is all that is keeping the United States afloat.

IS AMERICA A “RABID DOG?”

China, once a country where, in famine years, baby girls were abandoned in fields to die, is now the richest country in the world.  Where millions had starved each year, Chinese tourists can now be seen anywhere in the world.  Their progress is a marvel and one of the greatest success stories in the history of mankind.  China’s government is a hybrid of privatization and communism, ruled by a “technocracy” that manages the economy and maintains an unaligned position in world affairs.

China’s policies are based on both security of its borders and people and the assurance of access to natural resources, oil and minerals in particular, without which China’s “bubble” might well burst.

America, on the other hand, seems to be moving backward, hopelessly in debt, continually embroiled in military adventures and clearly a failed democracy at home, moving inexorably toward totalitarianism and extremism.  Sound far fetched?  This is how the world sees America, not just the Islamic world but Canada, Britain, Western Europe and Russia.  The question now, does China see America as a threat, a “rabid dog?”  Are America’s adventures in the Middle East and South Asia, which have killed hundreds of thousands, maybe more, a threat to China?

IRAN AND PAKISTAN

China and the world have seen Iraq and Afghanistan destroyed.  They are watching Pakistan be destroyed by an American policy that can have no purpose other than to see Pakistan dismembered and crushed.  America’s covert war against Pakistan, a nation that has been an American ally since its inception, is a senseless policy.  Now, with the “sea change” toward increased Israeli influence in America’s government, the onset of the new extremist “Tea Party” wing of “Israeli firsters,” an attack on Iran, one of China’s closest allies and largest suppliers of crude oil, is expected at any time.

China has no doubts that America, as it is currently “misgoverned,” stands ready to do anything as a pretense for war even though its last two military adventures are both “unresolved,” a generous term for “failed.”

It is also clear to China and others that America’s ruling cabal, calling it a government is a certain misnomer, no longer functions in the national interest.  If the Chinese missile launch, providing it was the Chinese, was a warning of something, it was a warning based on this knowledge.

“If America can’t be trusted to take care of its own people and exercise its position as world superpower with sensibility and restraint, “there’s a new sheriff in town.”

Chinese workers build 15-story hotel in just six days

From http://news.yahoo.com

As the United States and China battle over the finer points of currency manipulation at the G-20 summit, American negotiators may want to take note of this startling testimonial to the productivity of Chinese workers: A construction crew in the south-central Chinese city of Changsha has completed a 15-story hotel in just six days. If nothing else, this remarkable achievement will stoke further complaints from American economic pundits that China’s economy is far more accomplished than ours in tending to such basics as construction.

[Related: China sets record with new supercomputer]

Meanwhile, it’s easy to imagine the disorientation of Changsha residents who’d gone away, or who just hadn’t recently ventured into the downtown neighborhood of the new Ark Hotel: “Honey, I don’t remember a hotel there, do you?”

The work crew erected the hotel — a soundproofed, thermal-insulated structure reportedly built to withstand a magnitude 9 earthquake — with all prefabricated materials. In other words, a crew of off-site factory workers built the sections, and their on-site counterparts arranged them on the foundation for the Ark project.

Despite the frenetic pace of construction, no workers were injured — and thanks to the prefab nature of the process, the builders wasted very few construction materials. Below is a time-lapse video that shows the hotel being built from the ground up in less than a week:

While You Lose Your Homes, The US Government Spends Your Taxes to Arm Israel

‘U.S. weaponry, ammunition and war supplies stored in Israel will reach a record $1.2 billion by 2012 under legislation aimed at increasing operational readiness of U.S. forces and their allies in high-threat areas.

Under recently passed amendments to the Foreign Assistance Act governing U.S. War Reserves Stockpiles for Allies (WRSA), the value of U.S. weapons to be prepositioned in Israel will reach $1 billion in 2011, with another $200 million added in 2012, U.S. and Israeli sources say.
Once implemented, the amount of U.S.-owned and -controlled materiel available for Israel’s emergency use will have jumped threefold from pre-2007 levels of some $400 million.’

Over the past two years, logisticians and war planners from U.S. European Command and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) elevated war stocks to congressionally authorized thresholds of $800 million. Representatives of the two militaries are now working to build up as rapidly as possible inventories that meet the newly authorized thresholds, sources said.

Established as a means of U.S. forward basing as well as a vehicle through which allies gain immediate emergency access to U.S. stocks, WRSA content, maintenance and usage procedures are routinely updated by government-to-government agreement, at threshold levels authorized by Congress.

Under the new legislation, which has yet to be codified in an updated bilateral agreement, Israel not only gains access to more U.S. stockpiles, but will enjoy greater latitude in the categories and specific types of weaponry it can request for in-country storage, sources from both countries said.
The elevated WRSA plan is one of several U.S.-supported initiatives aimed at preserving Israel’s so-called qualitative military edge and improving Israel’s readiness against growing threats from Iran and Iranian-supported militants in Lebanon, Gaza and elsewhere in the region.

In the coming weeks, Israel will receive a special one-time payment of some $502 million to expedite production of the Iron Dome short-range anti-rocket defense system. Later this month, the first two batteries of the Rafael-developed intercepting system are expected to be declared operational by the Israel Air Force for rapid deployment against rockets and missiles launched either from Gaza in the south or along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military is entering the fourth and final year of a multiyear plan marked by record readiness, replenished warehouses and major milestones toward a modernized force capable of truly integrated offensive as well as defensive operations.

“This was the first time we’ve been granted the multiyear budget with which to implement a true multiyear plan … [and] the benefits of this approach are already evident in heightened readiness, improved training of regular and reserve forces, and the new technologies that help maximize our capabilities across the operational spectrum,” said Brig. Gen. Avi Benayahu, Israeli Defense Forces spokesman.

Including nearly $3 billion in annual U.S. military aid, Israeli defense spending for the year slightly exceeded 49 billion shekels ($13.7 billion), with some 24 percent earmarked for research, development and procurement.

In the next four years, Washington has committed to steady levels of $3 billion in annual military aid, along with another several hundred million annually in U.S.-funded missile defense programs and the occasional program-specific subsidy, such as the $502 million granted for expedited Iron Dome procurement.

Last month, Israel signed a $2.75 billion contract for its first squadron of F-35I Joint Strike Fighters, and later this year, Israel is expected to conclude a direct commercial deal for U.S.-based production of the Army’s Namer heavy armored personnel carrier (APC).

After a high-stakes competition between BAE Systems, Textron Marine and Land Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS), Israel’s MoD last month selected the Sterling Heights, Mich.-based GDLS to negotiate a contract for the heavy APCs. Once finalized, those APCs will be funded through Israel’s annual U.S. Foreign Military Financing grant aid, with the aim of churning out many hundreds of Namers in the shortest possible time to meet urgent requirements for force protective land maneuvering warfare.

New evidence may write Lindbergh out of history as first to fly Atlantic

Research shows two French pilots made trip, but died on landing

From http://www.independent.co.uk By John Lichfield in Paris

The greatest single mystery of the early days of aviation has been solved, according to French researchers.  The American pilot Charles Lindbergh was not the first person to fly the full width of the Atlantic in 1927, the researchers say. He was merely the first person to land his aircraft successfully, and the first to live to tell the tale. Documentary evidence dredged from US official archives shows that two French pilots reached the Canadian coast from Paris 10 days before Lindbergh flew the Spirit of Saint Louis from New York to Le Bourget on 20-21 May, 1927. The evidence suggests that Charles Nungesser and François Coli landed their sea-plane, L’Oiseau Blanc, or The White Bird, just off the coast of the French islands of Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, near Newfoundland on 11 May. Their plane probably broke up on – or soon after – touching down and both men were killed. The fate of Nungesser, 35, and Coli, 45, heroes of the French air force in the First World War, has been called the “Everest of aviation mysteries”. Their disappearance has been the subject of speculation and conspiracy theories – including one which suggests they were shot down by American anti-Prohibition drink bootleggers – for almost a century. Bernard Decré, 70, the creator of the “round France” yacht race and an aviation enthusiast, believes he has solved the mystery at last. One of the last pieces in the jigsaw was an internal US Coast Guard telegram found by his team of researchers in the national archives in Washington DC last month. It tells of the remains of a white aircraft seen floating in the ocean 200 miles off New York on 18 August 1927, which “may be the wreck of the Coli-Nungesser airplane”. This evidence, and other documents unearthed in recent months in Newfoundland and St Pierre et Miquelon, leads Mr Decré to believe he has finally pieced together the story of Nungesser and Coli’s 5,200-kilometre flight. Although they failed to meet the “challenge” of flying between New York and Paris, they were, he believes, the first to complete a full, or “long”, crossing of the Atlantic and the first to cross the Atlantic by plane from east to west. “My intention is not to disparage the magnificent achievement of Lindbergh,” Mr Decré told The Independent yesterday. “Enormous credit is also due to the British pilots (John) Alcock and (Arthur) Brown, who were the first to complete a ‘short’ crossing of the Atlantic from Newfoundland to Ireland in 1919. “But I believe that, just as any aircraft needs to be checked minutely before each flight, we must be as precise as we can about the early history of aviation. I believe that Nungesser and Coli, although they did not live to tell their story, should now be restored to an important place in that history.” Mr Decré said he believed both the American and French governments agreed at the time to cover up – or at least not pursue – substantial contemporary evidence that the Oiseau Blanc had reached the Newfoundland coast on 11 May. There had been considerable Franco-American political and popular tensions in the 1920s, fuelled by the rivalry to be the first to snatch the $25,000 prize offered by the New York hotelier Raymond Orteig for the first flight between New York and Paris. Lindbergh’s triumph made him a hero in France and the US, creating the mood for a declaration of Franco-American friendship later that year. In these circumstances, Mr Decré said it suited the French authorities to accept the original “official” story that the Oiseau Blanc had crashed in the Channel soon after take off. There is documentary evidence, in Newfoundland archives, of an aircraft being seen and heard on 11 May. There are also well-documented witness reports, uncovered by Mr Decré’s team, of the sound of an aircraft just off the coast of Saint Pierre et Miquelon between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Pieces of wing were picked up in the sea nearby. Mr Decré dismisses the theory that the aircraft was shot down over Maine by bootleggers who feared it was a military or customs aircraft. However, he believes that Saint Pierre’s role as a beachhead for illegal drinks exports to the US encouraged local officials to cover up the Oiseau Blanc’s ill-fated landing off their coast. “The last thing that they wanted was officialdom from Paris snooping around,” he said. It was Nungesser and Coli’s aim to land their sea-plane in New York harbour. Mr Decré believes that they realised they had insufficient fuel to reach New York. They landed in the sea close to Saint Pierre but the bi-plane, largely made of wood and canvas, broke up. Ocean currents carried part of the wreckage south to the New York coast.

Suffocated By Red Tape – 12 Ridiculous Regulations That Are Almost Too Bizarre To Believe

From The Economic Collapse November 12, 2010 @ 6:41 am

Even with all of the massive economic problems that the United States is facing, if the government would just get off our backs most of us would do okay.  In America today, it is rapidly getting to the point where it is nearly impossible to start or to operate a small business.  The federal government, the state governments and local governments are cramming thousands upon thousands of new ridiculous regulations down our throats each year.  It would take a full team of lawyers just to even try to stay informed about all of these new regulations.  Small business in the United States is literally being suffocated by red tape.  We like to think that we live in “the land of the free”, but the truth is that our lives and our businesses are actually tightly constrained by millions of rules and regulations.  Today there is a “license” for just about every business activity.  In fact, in some areas of the country today you need a “degree” and multiple “licenses” before you can even submit an application for permission to start certain businesses.  And if you want to actually hire some people for your business, the paperwork nightmare gets far worse.  It is a wonder that anyone in America is still willing to start a business from scratch and hire employees.  The truth is that the business environment in the United States is now so incredibly toxic that millions of Americans have simply given up and don’t even try to work within the system anymore.

Today, the U.S. government has an “alphabet agency” for just about everything.  The nanny state feels like it has to watch, track and tightly control virtually everything that we do.  The Federal Register is the main source of regulations for U.S. government agencies.  In 1936, the number of pages in the Federal Register was about 2,600.  Today, the Federal Register is over 80,000 pages long.  That is just one example of how bad things have gotten.

But it is not just the federal government that is ramming thousands of ridiculous regulations down our throats.  The truth is that in many cases state and local governments are far worse.  We have become a nation that is run and dominated by bureaucrats.  Yes, there always must be rules in a society, but we have gotten to the point where there are so many millions of rules that the game has become unplayable.

The following are 12 examples of ridiculous regulations that are almost too bizarre to believe….

#1 The state of Texas now requires every new computer repair technician to obtain a private investigator’s license.  In order to receive a private investigator’s license, an individual must either have a degree in criminal justice or must complete a three year apprenticeship with a licensed private investigator.  If you are a computer repair technician that violates this law, or if you are a regular citizen that has a computer repaired by someone not in compliance with the law, you can be fined up to $4,000 and you can be put in jail for a year.

#2 The city of Philadelphia now requires all bloggers to purchase a $300 business privilege license.  The city even went after one poor woman who had earned only $11 from her blog over the past two years.

#3 The state of Louisiana says that monks must be fully licensed as funeral directors and actually convert their monasteries into licensed funeral homes before they will be allowed to sell their handmade wooden caskets.

#4 In the state of Massachusetts, all children in daycare centers are mandated by state law to brush their teeth after lunch.  In fact, the state even provides the fluoride toothpaste for the children.

#5 If you attempt to give a tour of our nation’s capital without a license, you could be put in prison for 90 days.

#6 Federal agents recently raided an Amish farm at 5 A.M. in the morning because they were selling “unauthorized” raw milk.

#7 In Lake Elmo, Minnesota farmers can be fined $1,000 and put in jail for 90 days for selling pumpkins or Christmas trees that are grown outside city limits.

#8 A U.S. District Court judge slapped a 5oo dollar fine on Massachusetts fisherman Robert J. Eldridge for untangling a giant whale from his nets and setting it free.  So what was his crime?  Well, according to the court, Eldridge was supposed to call state authorities and wait for them do it.

#9 In the state of Texas, it doesn’t matter how much formal interior design education you have – only individuals with government licenses may refer to themselves as “interior designers” or use the term “interior design” to describe their work.

#10 Deeply hidden in the 2,409-page health reform bill passed by Congress was a new regulation that will require U.S. businesses to file millions more 1099s each year.  In fact, it is estimated that the average small business will now have to file 200 additional 1099s every single year.  Talk about a nightmare of red tape!  But don’t try to avoid this rule – it is being reported that the IRS has hired approximately 2,000 new auditors to audit as many of these 1099s as possible.

#11 The city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin makes it incredibly difficult to go out of business.  In order to close down a business, Milwaukee requires you to purchase an expensive license, you must submit a huge pile of paperwork to the city regarding the inventory you wish to sell off, and you must pay a fee based on the length of your “going out of business sale” plus a two dollar charge for every $1,000 worth of inventory that you are attempting to sell off.

#12 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is projecting that the food service industry will have to spend an additional 14 million hours every single year just to comply with new federal regulations that mandate that all vending machine operators and chain restaurants must label all products that they sell with a calorie count in a location visible to the consumer.

George Bush Book ‘Decision Points’ Lifted From Advisers’ Books

When Crown Publishing inked a deal with George W. Bush for his memoirs, the publisher knew it wasn’t getting Faulkner. But the book, at least, promises “gripping, never-before-heard detail” about the former president’s key decisions, offering to bring readers “aboard Air Force One on 9/11, in the hours after America’s most devastating attack since Pearl Harbor; at the head of the table in the Situation Room in the moments before launching the war in Iraq,” and other undisclosed and weighty locations.

Crown also got a mash-up of worn-out anecdotes from previously published memoirs written by his subordinates, from which Bush lifts quotes word for word, passing them off as his own recollections. He took equal license in lifting from nonfiction books about his presidency or newspaper or magazine articles from the time. Far from shedding light on how the president approached the crucial “decision points” of his presidency, the clip jobs illuminate something shallower and less surprising about Bush’s character: He’s too lazy to write his own memoir.

Bush, on his book tour, makes much of the fact that he largely wrote the book himself, guffawing that critics who suspected he didn’t know how to read are now getting a comeuppance. Not only does Bush know how to read, it turns out, he knows how to Google, too. Or his assistant does. Bush notes in his acknowledgments that “[m]uch of the research for this book was conducted by the brilliant and tireless Peter Rough. Peter spent the past 18 months digging through archives, searching the internet[s], and sifting through reams of paper.” Bush also collaborated on the book with his former speechwriter, Christopher Michel.

Many of Bush’s literary misdemeanors exemplify pedestrian sloth, but others are higher crimes against the craft of memoir. In one prime instance, Bush relates a poignant meeting between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and a Tajik warlord on Karzai’s Inauguration Day. It’s the kind of scene that offers a glimpse of a hopeful future for the beleaguered nation. Witnessing such an exchange could color a president’s outlook, could explain perhaps Bush’s more optimistic outlook and give insight into his future decisions. Except Bush didn’t witness it. Because, as he himself writes later in the book, he wasn’t at Karzai’s inauguration.

His absence doesn’t stop Bush from relating this anecdote: “When Karzai arrived in Kabul for his inauguration on December 22 – 102 days after 9/11 – several Northern Alliance leaders and their bodyguards greeted him at an airport. As Karzai walked across the tarmac alone, a stunned Tajik warlord asked where all his men were. Karzai, responded, ‘Why, General, you are my men. All of you who are Afghans are my men.'”

That meeting would sound familiar to Ahmed Rashid, author of “The Mess in Afghanistan”, who wrote in the New York Review of Books: “At the airport to receive [Karzai] was the warlord General Mohammad Fahim, a Tajik from the Panjshir Valley …. As the two men shook hands on the tarmac, Fahim looked confused. ‘Where are your men?’ he asked. Karzai turned to him in his disarmingly gentle manner of speaking. ‘Why General,” he replied, “you are my men–all of you are Afghans and are my men.'”

Bush’s lifting of the anecdote, while disappointing on a literary level, does raise the intriguing possibility that Bush actually read Rashid’s article. Doubtful. It was excerpted in the Googleable free intro to his NYRB story. (Still, thinking of Bush browsing the NYRB’s website almost makes it worthwhile.)

In a separate case of scene fabrication, though, Bush writes of a comment made by his rival John McCain as if it was said to him directly. “The surge gave [McCain] a chance to create distance between us, but he didn’t take it. He had been a longtime advocate of more troops in Iraq, and he supported the new strategy wholeheartedly. “I cannot guarantee success,” he said, “But I can guarantee failure if we don’t adopt this new strategy.” A dramatic and untold coming-together of longtime rivals? Well, not so much. It comes straight from a Washington Post story. McCain was talking to reporters, not to Bush.

In most instances of Bush’s literary swiping, he was at least present for the scene. But the point of a memoir is that it is the author’s version of events. Bush’s book is a collection of other people’s versions of events. But that’s not what Bush promises readers. “Decision Points is based primarily on my recollections. With help from researchers, I have confirmed my account with government documents, personal interviews, news reports, and other sources, some of which remain classified,” he offers. Bush, in his memoir, confesses to authorizing waterboarding, which is a war crime, so the lifting of a few passages might seem like a minor infraction. But Bush’s laziness undermines the historical value of the memoir. Bush “recollects” – in a more literal sense of the term – quotes by pulling his and others verbatim from other books, calling into question what he genuinely remembers from the time and casting doubt on any conclusions he draws about what his mindset was at the time.

In a final irony, Bush appears to draw heavily from several of Bob Woodward’s books and also from Robert Draper’s “Dead Certain”. The Bush White House called the books’ accuracy into question when they were initially published.

The similarities between the way Bush recollects his and other quotes may be a case of remarkable random chance or evidence that he and his deputies were in an almost supernatural sync. If so, he essentially shares a brain with General Tommy Franks.

Bush writes: “Tommy told the national security team that he was working to apply the same concept of a light footprint to Iraq… ‘If we have multiple, highly skilled Special Operations forces identifying targets for precision-guided munitions, we will need fewer conventional grounds forces,’ he said. ‘That’s an important lesson learned from Afghanistan.’ I had a lot of concerns. … I asked the team to keep working on the plan. ‘We should remain optimistic that diplomacy and international pressure will succeed in disarming the regime,’ I said at the end of the meeting. ‘But we cannot allow weapons of mass destruction to fall into the hands of terrorists. I will not allow that to happen.’

Franks, in his memoir American Soldier, writes: “‘For example, if we have multiple, highly skilled Special Operations forces identifying targets for precision-guided munitions, we will need fewer conventional ground forces. That’s an important lesson learned from Afghanistan.’ President Bush’s questions continued throughout the briefing…. Before the VTC ended, President Bush addressed us all. ‘We should remain optimistic that diplomacy and international pressure will succeed in disarming the regime.’ … The President paused. ‘Protecting the security of the United States is my responsibility,’ he continued. ‘But we cannot allow weapons of mass destruction to fall into the hands of terrorists.’ He shook his head. ‘I will not allow that to happen.'”

A Crown official rejected the suggestion that Bush had done anything inappropriate, suggesting that the similarities speak to its inherent accuracy. The editor of Bush’s book wasn’t immediately able to comment.

But if you already bought Bush’s book thinking you were getting only his own thoughts, you haven’t entirely wasted your money. Finding lifted passages in Bush’s book is like an Easter egg hunt. Look for passages with a number of quotes back to back and then slap the passage into Google Books or plagiarism detection software you might have access to. The slideshow at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/12/george-bush-book-decision-points_n_782731.html#s180908 shows what HuffPost has found so far. If you find any more, send the passage to ryan@huffingtonpost.com and we’ll verify it and add it to the list.

Hamid Karzai
From Decision Points, p. 205: “When Karzai arrived in Kabul for his inauguration on December 22 – 102 days after 9/11 – several Northern Alliance leaders and their bodyguards greeted him at an airport. As Karzai walked across the tarmac alone, a stunned Tajik warlord asked where all his men were. Karzai, responded, ‘Why, General, you are my men. All of you who are Afghans are my men.'”

From Ahmed Rashid’s The Mess in Afghanistan, quoted in The New York Times Review of Books: “At the airport to receive [Karzai] was the warlord General Mohammad Fahim, a Tajik from the Panjshir Valley …. As the two men shook hands on the tarmac, Fahim looked confused. ‘Where are your men?’ he asked. Karzai turned to him in his disarmingly gentle manner of speaking. ‘Why General,’ he replied, “you are my men—all of you are Afghans and are my men…'”

Bush was not at Karzai’s Innauguration.