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The New York Post‘s Jennifer Keil and Chuck Bennett reported in Monday’s paper that Citigroup, which has received $45 billion in government bailout funds, is about to upgrade to a new $50 million, twelve-seat corporate jet.

The plane, the Dassault Falcon 7X, is a luxurious jet with a range of 5,950 nautical miles (meaning it can fly from New York to all of Europe and South America, as far east as Riyadh, and as far west as Honolulu or Petropavlovsk, Russia). The Post reports it has “plush interior with leather seats, sofas and a customizable entertainment center.”

The Dassault website describes the wide, generously appointed cabin, but says the “the airplane’s most welcome feature may be Dassault’s breakthrough environmental system.” It touts “quieting acoustics” and advanced temperature monitoring that contribute to a more comfortable passenger experience.

Think Progress-On Friday, when President Obama met with congressional leaders from both parties to discuss his economic recovery and reinvestment program, he told GOP leaders, “You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done.” Asked for a response by National Review yesterday, Limbaugh said that Obama’s “plan is to isolate elected Republicans from their voters.” He added that passage of the stimulus bill would hurt Republicans electorally:

Obama’s plan would buy votes for the Democrat Party, in the same way FDR’s New Deal established majority power for 50 years of Democrat rule, and it would also simultaneously seriously damage any hope of future tax cuts. It would allow a majority of American voters to guarantee no taxes for themselves going forward. It would burden the private sector and put the public sector in permanent and firm control of the economy. Put simply, I believe his stimulus is aimed at re-establishing “eternal” power for the Democrat Party rather than stimulating the economy because anyone with a brain knows this is NOT how you stimulate the economy.

Limbaugh’s argument echoes former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell’s recent claim that Obama’s stimulus plan “could create a major electoral advantage for Democrats at taxpayer expense.” “Creating 600,000 new jobs might help cement Virginia in the Democrat column, making it harder for Republicans to retake the White House,” said Blackwell.

After 2 decades of right wing christian oppression and social and scientific regression, are we, as a society, finally moving forward?

The intellectual and philosophical developments of that age (and their impact in moral, social, and political reform) aspired towards greater rights & liberties for common people based on self-governance, natural rights, natural law, central emphasis on liberty, individual rights, reason, common sense, and the principles of deism. These principles were a revolutionary departure from theocracy, autocracy, oligarchy, aristocracy, and the divine right of kings. For modern counterparts to oligarchy and monarchy, or other forms of individual, social, religious, and economic tyrrany, see totalitarianism, Nazi Party, democratic centralism, Leninism, Stalinism, Soviet Union.) The Enlightenment marks a principled departure from the Middle Ages, State & Church mandated oppression, toward an era of rational human discourse, freedom of religion, liberty, scientific advancement, and modernity.

They don’t have the sex appeal of windmills or the cool factor of solar panels but cost a fraction of the price. In fact, their methods can be as low-tech as plugging a leaky air duct.

Governments and utility companies across the Washington region are starting to roll out new “energy-efficiency” campaigns with the potential to lower bills, carbon emissions and the area’s dependence on foreign oil without building a single coal or nuclear plant. Energy experts say that they can reap large benefits by encouraging people to retrofit homes with changes as simple as new shower heads, light bulbs and refrigerators.

Efficiency programs were popular in the 1980s and early 1990s but receded to the background during the more recent era of GOP deregulation.

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In just 3 short days President Obama has begun drastically reversing the Terror that GWB, Cheney et. al. have wrought on the US Constitution, this Country and it’s citizenry.

Obama Signs Order To Close Guantanamo…

Shutters CIA ‘Black Site’ Prisons…

Forbids Torture Of Detainees…

Lifts Abortion ‘Gag-Rule’…

Freezes Proposals On Easing Emissions…

Revives Freedom Of Information Act…

 

Aaah, maybe there is a god…

Daniel SchulmanLast week, the state of Alaska announced it plans to mount a legal challenge to the listing of the Cook Inlet beluga whale under the Endangered Species Act. (Placing the belugas on the endangered list requires a review of federally funded or permitted activities that could affect the health of the whales, the establishment of a recovery plan, and the designation of “critical habitat.”) This marks the second time in a year that Palin’s administration has squared off with the federal government over an ESA listing. Over the summer, her administration sued Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne after his agency conferred threatened status on the polar bear.

In 1994, there were some 650 Cook Inlet belugas living off the coast of Anchorage, but their numbers were nearly halved by 1997. This sharp decline was largely attributed to overharvesting by Native hunters, and by 2005 this already small whale population reached an all-time low of 278, by one government estimate. Presently, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimate the number of Cook Inlet belugas at 375.

In 2000, the whales were protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, but government scientists eventually concluded that this wasn’t enough. “In spite of protections already in place, Cook Inlet beluga whales are not recovering,” James Balsiger, the acting assistant administrator for the NOAA’s Fisheries Service, said in October, announcing that the whales had received endangered species protection.

Palin begs to differ. Her administration argues that that the belugas are faring just fine under the protections in place, and the population is even beginning to show signs of recovering. For this reason, the state of Alaska contends that additional regulation is unnecessary. “The State of Alaska has worked cooperatively with the federal government to protect and conserve beluga whales in Cook Inlet,” Palin said last week. “This listing decision didn’t take those efforts into account as required by law.”

At the heart of Palin’s objections are concerns that additional safeguards will interfere with oil and gas development, among other lucrative projects.

The Blue Marble blog

Jen Phillips-Oh, Sarah Palin. I’m sick of hearing your name already. But I’ll say it once more because there is evidence that Ms.Palin may be a global warming-denier. Palin has said that she’s “unconvinced” human emissions are contributing to global warming. “Science will tell us,” her spokesman said. “She thinks the jury’s still out.” If by “jury” she means “the Bible,” then yes, the jury is still out. But if “jury” means scientific consensus, then Palin needs to check out the IPCC’s site or pick up an issue of Nature.

Though Palin may not believe in global warming, she does believe that polar bears are just fine, thank you very much. She sued the federal government in an attempt to derail their delayed listing of polar bears as an endangered species. In addition, Palin is in favor of drilling vital polar bear habitat in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, maybe in part because her husband works for BP. I don’t know if Palin is motivated to support oil companies for love or for money. Either way, with her as Vice President, life will look even bleaker for those ice-dependent polar bears.

The Blue Marble blog

The south costs us in so many ways……………….
ATLANTA (AP) — Kentucky and West Virginia — where people traditionally smoke the most — have the highest death rates from smoking, a new federal study has found.
Rounding out the 10 states with the highest average annual smoking death rates were Nevada, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama,  and Missouri.

The lowest death rates were in Utah and Hawaii, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.

The smoking death rate in Kentucky was about 371 deaths out of every 100,000 adults age 35 and older.

That was nearly one-and-a-half times higher than the national median of 263 per 100,000. And it was nearly three times the rate for Utah, which was 138 per 100,000.

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President Bush’s future neighborhood, the wealthy Dallas area called Preston Hollow, has some unfortunate secrets:

Until 2000, the neighborhood association’s covenant said only white people were allowed to live there, though an exception was made for servants.

Enacted in 1956, part of the original document reads: “Said property shall be used and occupied by white persons except those shall not prevent occupancy by domestic servants of different race or nationality in the employ of a tenant.”

I’ll add this thought. The president bought his ranch in Crawford just before running for president and will move to a swanky suburban neighborhood just after leaving office. It’s almost like his cowboy image was an affect cultivated for maximum political gain. Imagine that.

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Perhaps only in President Barack Obama’s Washington could the CEOs of the nation’s top wind and solar trade organizations pass for celebrities.

Yet if anyone needed an indicator of the growing prominence of the renewable energy world in the nation’s capital during the age of Obama, it was on display Monday night at the Green Inaugural Ball, hosted by former Vice President Al Gore at the National Portrait Gallery.

Standing on the red—or rather, green—carpet alongside musicians like John Legend, Maroon 5, and will.i.am were Denise Bode, the CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, and Rhone Resch, the Solar Energy Industries Association’s president and CEO.

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NEW YORK — Wall Street bonuses, a sore point as the government gives billions of dollars in bailout money to the financial industry, have apparently cost former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain his job at Bank of America (BAC).

Thain resigned from Bank of America on Thursday after news that Merrill Lynch had rushed out its year-end bonuses, paying them just before Bank of America completed its acquisition of Merrill Lynch and sought $20 billion in additional government bailout money.

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The attention, hope and excitment of Barrack Obama’s Inauguration is awe inspiring and  breathtaking.  After years and years of GOP divisivness, hatred, partisan politics and anti-american rhetoric, the people of this great nation are excited again.  It’s amazing, something I have wanted to feel for 2 decades but never could until now.  What is truly amazing, and an american trait that we saw during WWII, is that we have this optimism despite the record economic failures that confront us.  Human beings want hope, security and prosperity, and after 8 years of abuse, lies, hatred, arrogance and preferential treatment for the rich, americans are optimistic for change and a return to greatness and being a respected world leader,…. that is what makes America…America.

I have been researching dozens of websites covering the inauguration and it boggles the mind as to the significance of the event.  America needs this right now.  A country is only as strong as the feeling of nationalism that the citizens feel.  This is a fundamental concept that goes back to Machievelli’s “Prince.”  The GOP, in a power grab, has tried to erode this nationalism…and they have been successful…until now. 

Now is not the time to be a hatefilled partisan, now is the time to be an american. Turn off the Limbaugh, the Hannity, the Coulter and the FOXnews , their rants have become old, sad, desperate and comical. You’ll be amazed at the effect on your outlook and the lowering of your blood pressure.

WHAT???

A majority of America’s largest publicly traded companies and the U.S. government’s largest federal contractors — including some receiving millions in federal bailout money — use multiple subsidiaries in offshore tax havens to conduct business and avoid paying U.S. taxes, a new report finds.

The new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, released today by Sens. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), lists Citigroup and Morgan Stanley as having set up hundreds of tax haven subsidiaries, along with American International Group and Bank of America. Also in the tax-haven list are well-known companies and such federal contractors as American Express, Pepsi and Caterpillar.

Incredible. 

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While the Obama transition team works on headline issues such as the economy and the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, a small but cautiously hopeful cadre of arts groups, arts educators, and artists from Los Angeles to Philadelphia and beyond is nursing the quiet hope that creativity will find its place beside the sterner faces of war and recession on the Jan. 20 White House to-do list.

The incoming president himself has steadily fed such hopes. Barack Obama enters office with the first-ever presidential arts platform drafted during the campaign. While it lists eight strategies, including increased funds for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the three top priorities are:

•Expanding public/private partnerships between schools and arts organizations

•Creating an Artists Corps

•Publicly championing the importance of arts education.

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Study shows Wal-Mart’s Negative Impact on Small Business. Kenneth Stone, an emeritus professor of economics at Iowa State University, first coined the term “Wal-Mart phenomenon” in his 1995 study, “Competing with the Discount Mass Merchants.” Stone found that when Wal-Mart came to a town, stores selling different products than Wal-Mart were fine, but those selling the same products struggled. Further, Stone found that the stores that bore the brunt of Wal-Mart’s competition were in towns with populations of less than 5,000 within 20 miles of a Wal-Mart. [Jackson Citizen-Patriot, 7/11/08]

  • Iowa State University and Mississippi State University professors found grocery stores in Mississippi saw sales decline anywhere from 10 to 20% when a Wal-Mart moved in: stores in multiple other categories saw sales declines as well.
  • University of California, 1999, studied grocery stores in California and found “The full economic impact of those lost wages and benefits throughout southern California could approach $2.8 billion per year.”
  • A 2005 report from the AFL-CIO finds that as Wal-Mart’s increasing reliance on imported goods has meant fewer jobs in communities around the country.
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