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All I can say is I like heated conversation.  I know that some people have accused me of Jerry Springer like posts, but this is fun, don’t you think?

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This week, I released “Reining in the Imperial Presidency,” a 486-page report detailing the abuses and excesses of the Bush administration and recommending steps to address them. Arthur Schlesinger Jr. popularized the term “imperial presidency” in the 1970s to describe an executive who had assumed more power than the Constitution allows and circumvented the checks and balances fundamental to our three-branch system of government. Until recently, the Nixon administration seemed to represent a singular embodiment of the idea. Unfortunately, it is clear that the threat of the imperial presidency lives on and, indeed, reached new heights under George W. Bush.

As this report documents, there was the administration’s contrived drive to a needless war of aggression with Iraq, based on manipulated intelligence and facts that were “fixed around the policy.” There was its politicization of the Justice Department; unconscionable and possibly illegal policies on detention, interrogation and extraordinary rendition; warrantless wiretaps of American citizens; the ravaging of our regulatory system and the use of signing statements to override the laws of the land; and the intimidation and silencing of critics and whistle-blowers who dared to tell fellow citizens what was being done in their name. And all of this was hidden behind an unprecedented veil of secrecy and outlandish claims of privilege.

We cannot rebuild the appropriate balance between the branches of government without fully understanding how that relationship has been distorted. Likewise, we cannot set an appropriate baseline for future presidential conduct without documenting and correcting the presidential excesses that have just occurred. After the Nixon imperial presidency, critical reviews such as the Church and Pike committees led to fundamental reforms that have served our nation well. Comparable steps are needed to begin the process of reining in the legacy of the Bush imperial presidency. I consider these three points crucial:

First, Congress should continue to pursue its document requests and subpoenas that were stonewalled under President Bush. Doing so will make clear that no executive can forever hide its misdeeds from the public.

Second, Congress should create an independent blue-ribbon panel or similar body to investigate a host of previously unreviewable activities of the Bush administration, including its detention, interrogation and surveillance programs. Only by chronicling and confronting the past in a comprehensive, bipartisan fashion can we reclaim our moral authority and establish a credible path forward to meet the complex challenges of a post-Sept. 11 world.

Third, the new administration should conduct an independent criminal probe into whether any laws were broken in connection with these activities. Just this week, in the pages of this newspaper, a Guantanamo Bay official acknowledged that a suspect there had been “tortured” — her exact word — in apparent violation of the law. The law is the law, and, if criminal conduct occurred, those responsible — particularly those who ordered and approved the violations — must be held accountable.

Some day, there is bound to be another national security crisis in America. A future president will face the same fear and uncertainty that we did after Sept. 11, 2001, and will feel the same temptation to believe that the ends justify the means — temptation that drew our nation over to the “dark side” under the leadership of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. If those temptations are to be resisted — if we are to face new threats in a manner that keeps faith with our values and strengthens rather than diminishes our authority around the world — we must fully learn the lessons of our recent past.  John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI)

“Bud” Abbott-comedian, Roy Acuff-“King of Country Music,”  “Buzz” Aldrin-Astranaut, Eddie Arnold-singer,Prince Arthur-son of Queen Victoria, John Audubon – American ornithologist, Gene Autry– American actor, Count Basie-composer, Lloyd Bentson-politician, Irving Berlin-songwriter, Mel Blanc-voice of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig and many others, Daniel Boone-US Pioneer, Ernest Borgnine-actor, Jim Bowie-Pioneer, defender of the Alamo, Omar Bradley-Army General,William Jennings Bryant-famed attorney and former Sec. of State, Richard Byrd-Navy Admiral, 1st to fly over north pole, Eddie Cantor-famed vaudevillian, “Kit” Carson-frontiersman, Joshua Chamberlain-Union General Civil War, won Battle of Gettysburg, Walter Chrysler-founder of Chrysler Corp., Winston Churchill-Prime Minister, Lewis AND Clark-explorers, Mark Twain-author, Ty Cobb-baseball player, “Buffalo Bill” Cody-guide & showman, George M. Cohen-famed composer,Nat “King” Cole-singer, Samuel Colt-firearms inventor, Davy Crockett-frontiersman, Norm Crosby-comedian,Cecil B. DeMille-director, Bob Dole-WWII veteran, senator, presidential candidate, James Doolittle, WWII General famous for his impossible raid on Tokyo, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle-Sherlock Holmes creator, King Edward the VII &VII, Duke Ellington-composer, Bob Evans-restaurateur, Douglas Fairbanks-actor, David Farragut-Union Admiral, WC Fields-entertainer, Sir Alexander Fleming-discoverer of penicillin, Gerald Ford-former US President, Henry Ford-car maker, Benjamin Franklin-american founder, Frederick II “The Great”-King of Prussia, Clark Gable-actor, James Garfield-former US President, King George VI-father of current Queen Elizabeth, John Glenn-astronaut, Senator, Barry Goldwater-conservative politician,David Goodnow-CNN anchor, Curt Gowdy-famed sports announcer,”Gus” Grissom-astronaut, Dr. Joseph Guillotin-french physician who developed the execution device bearing his name,John Hancock-signer of Declararion of Independence, Warrren Harding-former US President, Oliver Hardy-comedian of Laurel & Hardy fame, Franz Haydn-Austrian classical composer, Jesse Helms-politician, Patrick Henry-patriot, Edgar Hoover– former FBI director, Frank Hoover-vacuum inventor, Sam Hornish, Jr.-racecar driver, Roger Hornsby-famed baseball player, Harry Houdini-escape artist, Sam Houston-Texas frontiersman. politician, Burl Ives-entertainer, singer, Andrew Jackson-former US President, Rev. Jesse Jackson-activist, Edward Jenner-founder of small pox vaccine, Andrew Johnson-fromer US President, Al Jolson-vaudevillian entertainer, John Paul Jones-American Revolutionary Naval hero,Kamehameha (s), King (III, IV, and V)-Monarchs of Hawaii, David Kalakaua-last King of Hawaii, Rudyard Kipling-poet, Henry Knox-Revolutionary Hero, gave his name to Fort Knox,Sebastion Kresge-founder of K-Mart, The Marquis de Lafayette-French noble friend of George Washington, helped win the revolutionary war, Charles Lindbergh-american aviator, Trent Lott-former Senator, Douglas MacArthur-US General WWII, Rowland Macy-founder of Macy’s department store, George Marshall-author of the “Marshall Plan”, Thurgood Marshall-1st black Supreme Court justice, Hart Massey – Massey-Ferguson farm equipment, Dr. Charles Mayo-co-founder of the Mayo Clinic, Fredrick Maytag-washing machine inventor, William McKinley-former US President, Andrew Mellon-founder of Gulf Oil, philanthropist, James Monroe-former US President, Amadeus Mozart-composer, Audie Murphy-actor, most decorated WWII veteran, Sam Nunn-Senator, Brad Paisley-country singer, Davis Patterson-visually impaired current Govenor of NY, Robert Peary-admiral, 1st man to reach north pole, JC Penney-department store founder, John Pershing-US General WWI, George Pickett-General CSA, led final charge at Gettysburg, James Polk-former US President, Israel Putnam-Revolutionary hero famed for saying “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes,” Paul Revere-patriot, Michael Richards-“Kramer” on the TV shoe “Seinfeld,” the Ringling Brothers (all 7)-circus founders, “Sugar Ray” Robinson-boxer, Roy Rogers-actor, singer, Will Rogers-amercian humorist, Franklin D. Roosevelt-former US President, Theodore Roosevelt-former US President, Telly Savalas-actor, Peter Sellers-actor, Red Skelton-comedian, Jonathan Swift-author “Gulliver’s Travels,” Carl Switzer-actor, “Alfalfa” in the “Little Rascals” series, William Taft-former US President, Sylvanus Thayer-founder West Point US military academy, Danny Thomas-entertainer, founder of St. Jude’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN, Dave Thomas-founder of Wendy’s restaurant, Strom Thurmond-conservative, long serving Senator, Mel Tillis-country singer, Harry Truman-former US President, Francois Voltaire-french essayist, Honus Wagner-” The Greatest Shortstop of all Time,” Lewis Wallace-Civil War General, author of “Ben Hur,” Jack Warner-half of Warner Brothers Pictures, Earl Warren-former Supreme Court Chief Justice, Booker T. Washington-educator and author, George Washington-founding father and former US President, John Wayne-actor, “The Duke,” Charles Wilder-father of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of “The little House on the Prairie,” Ed Wynn-actor, comedian father of Keenan Wynn, Brigham Young-led Mormon’s to Utah, Cy Young-great baseball pitcher, Col. Harland Sanders-founder of KFC.

That’s 9 signers of the Declaration of Independence

13 signers of the US Constitution

 a minimum of 26 US Supreme Court Justices

Over at LEAST 125 former or current Presidents, Vice Presidents, Prime Ministers, Cabinet Members, Senators, Congressmen and Ambassadors

Over 30 former or current Archbishops, Bishops, Priests,and Ministers

Countless Generals, Admirals, officers and enlisted military personnel, and at least 4 US Congressional Medal of Honor recipients

Dozens, if not hundreds of famous actors, artists, musicians, composers, sports figures and entertainers

Dozens and dozens of Industry leaders, corporate CEOs, and University presidents….

Do you have a guess?

MADOFF BLISTERED HIS SISTER

SCAMMED FOR ‘$3M’

Bernard Madoff didn’t even spare his own family.

The Ponzi schemer scammed millions from his sister, who is now desperately selling her Florida home, sources told The Post.

ANTIQUE & GEM DEALERS GET HOCK OF A DEAL

Sondra Wiener, 74, “has nothing,” said one of her neighbors in the BallenIsles Country Club, a gated Palm Beach enclave where she and her husband, Marvin, live alongside such celebrities as Serena and VenusWilliams.

“She lost millions in this whole thing,” said a source who estimated her loss at $3 million.

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TAXES OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS….Ezra Klein is doing tax wonkery over at his place, and I can’t let him have all the fun. So just for the record, here’s a look at effective federal tax rates in general:

Not very progressive! Add in state and local taxes and it would look flatter still. And just to remind everyone of exactly what that “Top 400 Taxpayers” segment at the far right looks like, here are the pinkos over at the Wall Street Journal to explain it to you:

The top 400 taxpayers have greatly increased their share of individuals’ income since the mid-1990s. The group accounted for 1.15% of total income in 2005….more than twice as large as its 0.49% share a decade earlier.

….The average federal income-tax rate for the group was 18.23%….well below the average income-tax rate of nearly 30% back in 1995, when Bill Clinton was in the White House.

So there you have it. The top 400 taxpayers, a group so rich and elite that I’d need scientific notation to properly represent their proportion of the population, have doubled their share of income in the past decade or two but have decreased their tax burden by nearly half. Nice work! As you can see, Warren Buffett wasn’t exaggerating when he said his secretary paid a higher tax rate than he does. If she pays more than 18% — not exactly a tough hurdle when you figure that payroll taxes already account for about 8% of that — she probably does.- Kevin Drum

Is this how justice is supposed to work?

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It always amazes me when I read these lists how many have died that I hadn’t realized.  The other thing is that it seems that each year a bigger portion of the list are heroes of my youth, or of my parents generation that I remeber them talking about, and it reminds me of our own mortality.

 

Edie Adams, 81, blond beauty who as an actress and singer won a Tony Award as Daisy Mae in Broadway’s Li’l Abner and played television foil to husband Ernie Kovacs. Cancer, Oct. 15.

Eddy Arnold, 89, whose mellow baritone on songs like Make the World Go Away made him one of the most successful country singers in history. Folksy yet sophisticated, he became a pioneer of “The Nashville Sound,” a mixture of country and pop styles. He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1966. Cause not given, May 8.
Freddie Bell, 76, forerunner in the 1950s rock ‘n’ roll era whose toe-tapping versions of Giddy Up A Ding Dong and Hound Dog inspired Elvis Presley to cover the songs. Cancer, Feb. 10.
Kirk Browning, 86, who rose from music librarian at a television network to become the Emmy-winning director of the enduring series Live from Lincoln Center. Cardiac arrest, Feb. 10.
Harriet Burns, 79, the first female artist at Walt Disney Imagineering and a designer of several famous Disneyland landmarks, including Sleeping Beauty Castle and the Matterhorn ride. Complications from heart surgery, July 25.
Jheryl Busby, 59, former president and chief executive of Motown Records who helped foster the careers of Boyz II Men and Johnny Gill. Natural causes, Nov. 4.
George Carlin, 71, acerbic standup comedian and satirist whose staunch defense of free speech in his most famous routine Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television led to a key 1978 Supreme Court ruling on obscenity. Heart ailments, June 22.
Cyd Charisse, 86, long-legged Texas beauty who danced with the Ballet Russe as a teenager and starred in MGM musicals with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. Classically trained, she could dance anything, from a pas de deux in 1946’s Ziegfeld Follies to the lowdown Mickey Spillane satire of 1953’s The Band Wagon (with Astaire). Heart attack, June 17.
AP file photo Michael Crichton, 66, best-selling author who made scientific research terrifying and irresistible in his stories of disaster and systematic breakdown, such as Jurassic Park, Timeline and The Andromeda Strain. Cancer, Nov. 4.
John Daly, 71, British-born producer of 13 Oscar-winning movies including Platoon and The Last Emperor who helped launch the careers of many top directors and actors. Cancer, Oct. 31.
Paul Davis, 60, singer and songwriter whose soft-rock hit I Go Crazy stayed on the charts for a then-record 40 weeks after its release in 1977. Heart attack, April 22.
Bo Diddley, 79, whose real name is Ellas McDaniel, was a founding father of rock ‘n’ roll. He was known for his homemade square guitar, dark glasses and black hat, his distinctive “shave and a haircut, two bits” rhythm and innovative guitar effects that inspired legions of other musicians. Ill health, June 2.
More on Diddley: Legendary guitarist grooved to own beat
AP file photo Estelle Getty, 84, diminutive actress who spent 40 years struggling for success before landing the role in 1985 of the sarcastic octogenarian Sophia on TV’s The Golden Girls. Dementia, July 22.
Earle H. Hagen, 88, who co-wrote the jazz classic Harlem Nocturne and composed memorable themes for The Andy Griffith Show, I Spy, The Mod Squad and other TV shows. He was heard whistling the folksy theme from The Andy Griffith Show. Cause not given, May 26.
Buddy Harman, 79, one of Nashville’s most-recorded drummers, playing on more than 18,000 recordings, including Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman, Patsy Cline’s Crazy and Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire. Congestive heart failure, Aug. 21.
Anne d’Harnoncourt, 64, longtime chief executive of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and one of the art world’s most influential women. Natural causes, June 1.
AP file photo Isaac Hayes, 65, pioneering singer, songwriter and musician whose relentless Theme From Shaft won Academy and Grammy awards. His shaven head, gold chains and sunglasses gave him a compelling visual image. His career hit another high in 1997 when he became the voice of Chef, the sensible school cook and devoted ladies man on the animated TV show South Park. Cause not given, Aug. 10.
Jeff Healey, 41, blind rock and jazz musician who rose to stardom with the late 1980s hit Angel Eyes. Healey had battled cancer since age 1, when a rare form of retinal cancer claimed his eyesight. Cancer, March 2.
Neal Hefti, 85, Big Band trumpeter, arranger and composer of themes for the movie The Odd Couple and the Batman television series. Cause not given, Oct. 11.
Don Helms, 81, renowned steel guitarist who played in Hank Williams’ Drifting Cowboys band on tunes like Your Cheatin’ Heart and on country classics by Patsy Cline. Heart attack, Aug. 11.
Charlton Heston, 84, Oscar winner who portrayed Moses and other heroic figures on film in the ’50s and ’60s and later championed conservative values as head of the National Rifle Association. With his large, muscular build, well-boned face and sonorous voice, Heston proved the ideal star during the period when Hollywood was filling movie screens with panoramas depicting the religious and historical past. Cause not given, April 5.
More on Heston: A great big persona on film, in life
Pervis Jackson, 70, the man behind the deep, rolling bass voice in a string of 1970s R&B hits by The Spinners. Brain and liver cancer, Aug. 18.
Van Johnson, 92, whose boy-next-door wholesomeness made him a popular Hollywood star in the ’40s and ’50s with such films as Thirty Seconds over Tokyo, A Guy Named Joe and The Caine Mutiny. Natural causes, Dec. 12.
Ollie Johnston, 95, last of the “Nine Old Men” who animated Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Fantasia, Bambi and other classic Walt Disney films. Natural causes, April 14.
Eartha Kitt, 81, known for the song Santa Baby was also a star from stage and screen performances. In 1945 Kitt made her Broadway debut in Carib Song and later played Catwoman on the ’60s series Batman. Her sultry attitude made her one of the first African-American sex symbols. Colon cancer, Dec 25.
Harvey Korman, 81, versatile actor and comedian who won four Emmy Awards for his work on The Carol Burnett Show and is known for raising the “second banana” role into art of the first order. Complications from ruptured aneurysm, May 29.
AP/Focus Features Heath Ledger, 28, talented actor who gravitated toward dark, brooding roles that defied his leading-man looks. Accidental prescription drug overdose, Jan. 22.
Sean Levert, 39, a third of the 1980s R&B trio LeVert and son of lead O’Jays singer Eddie Levert. Short illness, March 30.
Larry Levine, 80, recording engineer who helped Phil Spector reinvent rock ‘n’ roll with his “Wall of Sound” technique and won a Grammy for his work with Herb Alpert. He was the engineer on classics such as Da Doo Ron Ron and the Righteous Brothers’ You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’. Emphysema, May 8.
Israel “Cachao” Lopez, 89, Grammy-winning Cuban bassist and composer who is credited with pioneering the mambo style of music. Cause not given, March 22.
Bernie Mac, 50, actor and comedian who teamed up in the casino heist caper Ocean’s Eleven and gained a prestigious Peabody Award for his sitcom The Bernie Mac Show. Pneumonia, Aug. 9.
AP Miriam Makeba, 76, South African singer who wooed the world with her sultry voice but was banned from her own country for 30 years under apartheid. She was the first African woman to win a Grammy award. Heart attack, Nov. 10. 
Dick Martin, 86, zany half of the comedy team whose Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In took television by storm in the 1960s, creating such national catch-phrases as “Sock it to me!” Respiratory complications, May 24.
Anthony Minghella, 54, screenwriter, opera director and the Oscar-winning filmmaker of The English Patient. Hemorrhage, March 18.
LeRoi Moore, 46, versatile saxophonist whose signature staccato fused jazz and funk overtones onto the eclectic sound of the Dave Matthews Band. Complications from an vehicle accident, Aug. 19.
Barry Morse, 89, actor who played a detective, Lt. Philip Gerard, pursuing the wrongly accused Dr. Richard Kimble in 1960s TV series The Fugitive. Brief illness, Feb. 2.
AP file photo Paul Newman, 83, the Oscar-winning superstar who personified cool as the anti-hero of such films as Hud, Cool Hand Luke and The Color of Money followed by a second act as an activist, race car driver and popcorn impresario. Cancer, Sept. 26.
More on Newman: Acting icon was good egg, too
Robert Mulligan, 83, Academy Award-nominated director of To Kill a Mockingbird who later helped launch the career of Reese Witherspoon. The New York Times wrote that in the film’s opening segment “achieves a bewitching indication of the excitement and thrill of being a child.” Heart disease, Dec. 20.
Odetta, 77, folk singer with a powerful voice who moved audiences and influenced musicians for a half-century. With her booming, classically trained voice and spare guitar, Odetta gave life to the songs by working men and slaves, farmers and miners, housewives and washerwomen, blacks and whites. Heart disease, Dec. 2.
Anita Page, 98, MGM actress who appeared in films with Lon Chaney, Joan Crawford and Buster Keaton during the transition from silent movies to talkies. In her sleep, Sept. 6.
Earl Palmer, 83, session drummer whose pioneering backbeats were recorded on such classics as Little Richard’s Tutti Frutti and The Righteous Brothers’ You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ has died. Long illness, Sept. 19.
Harold Pinter, 78, praised as the most influential British playwright of his generation and a longtime voice of political protest. Pinter’s distinctive contribution to the stage — he wrote 32 plays; one novel, The Dwarfs, in 1990; and 22 screenplays — was recognized with the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005. “Pinter restored theater to its basic elements: an enclosed space and unpredictable dialogue, where people are at the mercy of each other and pretense crumbles,” the Nobel Academy said when it announced his award. The prize gave Pinter a global platform which he seized enthusiastically to denounce the Iraq war. Cancer, Dec. 24.
Suzanne Pleshette, 70, husky-voiced star best known for her role as Bob Newhart’s sardonic wife on television’s long-running The Bob Newhart Show. Her career included roles in such films as Hitchcock’s The Birds and in Broadway plays including The Miracle Worker. Respiratory failure, Jan. 19.
AP file photo Sydney Pollack, 73, Academy Award-winning director who achieved commercial and critical success with the gender-bending comedy Tootsie and the period drama Out of Africa. Pollack, who often appeared on the screen himself, worked with and gained the respect of Hollywood’s best actors in a long career that reached prominence in the 1970s and 1980s. Cancer, May 26.
Robert Prosky, 77, character actor with hundreds of credits on stage and screen including Mrs. Doubtfire and Hill Street Blues. Complications from a heart procedure, Dec. 8.
Robert Rauschenberg, 82, whose use of odd and everyday articles earned him a reputation as a pioneer in pop art but whose talents spanned the worlds of painting, sculpture and dance. His “combines,” incongruous combinations of three-dimensional objects and paint, shared pop’s blurring of art and objects from modern life. Cause not given, May 12.
Ralph Joseph “Jody” Reynolds, 75, rockabilly singer and songwriter whose lone hit Endless Sleep in the 1950s ushered in a wave of tragic teen pop songs. He was inducted into Nashville’s Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 1999. Cause not given, Nov. 7.
Leonard Rosenman, 83, film and television composer who won two Oscars and two Emmys during his 50-year Hollywood career. Heart attack, March 4.
Roy Scheider, 75, two-time Oscar nominee best known for his role as a beach town police chief in the blockbuster movie Jaws. Scheider was nominated for a best-supporting actor Oscar in 1971’s The French Connection and for best actor for 1979’s All That Jazz. No cause given, Feb. 10.
Viktor Schreckengost, 101, artist and prolific industrial designer whose ubiquitous works ranged from familiar toys and White House porcelain to innovative trucks and lawn mowers. He was a 2006 winner of the National Medal of Arts best known for his 1930s “Jazz Bowl” series, commissioned by Eleanor Roosevelt for the White House. Cause not given, Jan. 26.
John Stewart, 68, who wrote The Monkees’ hit Daydream Believer and became a well-known figure in the 1960s folk music revival as a member of The Kingston Trio. Stroke, Jan. 19.
Levi Stubbs, 72, Four Tops frontman whose dynamic and emotive voice drove such Motown classics as Reach Out (I’ll Be There) and Baby I Need Your Loving. With Stubbs in the lead, the Four Tops sold millions of records and produced 20 Top 40 hits from 1963-73. In his sleep, Oct. 17.
Richard Widmark, 93, who made a sensational film debut as the giggling killer in Kiss of Death and became a Hollywood leading man in Broken Lance, Two Rode Together and 40 other films. Cause not given, March 24.
Stan Winston, 62, four-time Oscar-winning special-effects maestro responsible for bringing to life the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park and other iconic movie creatures. Winston created some of the most memorable visual effects in cinematic history, working on such films as Aliens, the Terminator series and Edward Scissorhands. Multiple myeloma, June 15.
Richard Wright, 65, a founding member and keyboardist for Pink Floyd. Cancer, Sept. 15. 

Steve Fossett, 63, self-made business tycoon whose thirst for adrenaline drove him to fly around the world solo in a balloon, climb mountains and aim for speed records. Last seen Sept. 3, 2007, taking off in a single-engine plane from an airstrip near Yerington, Nev. Declared dead on Feb. 15. Plane wreckage and his remains found Oct. 1.
Betty James, 90, who co-founded the company that made the Slinky and beat the odds as a single mother in the late 1950s to become a successful executive. She was inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame in 2001. Cause not given, Nov. 20.
George Keller, 84, former chairman and chief executive of Chevron Corp. As chairman of the Standard Oil Company of California, Keller executed the company’s takeover of Gulf Oil to form Chevron in 1984, the largest corporate takeover at the time. Complications of orthopedic surgery, Oct. 17.
Richard Knerr, 82, co-founder of Wham-O, the toy company that popularized the Hula Hoop, Frisbee and other fads that became classics. Stroke, Jan. 14.
Yves Saint Laurent, 71, iconic French designer who revolutionized fashion by putting women in pants without sacrificing their femininity. From his first collection for Dior in 1958 at age 21, Saint Laurent shook up the establishment. In time, his three-letter monogram became synonymous with 20th-century style. Cause not given, June 1.

William Modell, 86, head of the family-owned Modell’s Sporting Goods chain and a philanthropist who donated millions of dollars to medical research including Crohn’s disease. Under his leadership, the chain grew from four stores to 136 in about a dozen states in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic region. Prostate cancer, Feb. 14.
Robert Mondavi, 94, vintner who built his career and helped an iconic Northern California industry blossom by insisting that Napa Valley wines can compete with the best in the world. He championed the use of cold fermentation, stainless steel tanks and French oak barrels, all commonplace in the industry today. Natural causes, May 16.
Irena Sendler, 98, Polish social worker whose team of 20 people helped save approximately 2,500 Jewish children from the Nazis by smuggling them out of the Warsaw Ghetto and giving them false identities. Pneumonia, May 12.
Arthur C. Clarke, 90, visionary science-fiction writer who co-wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey and won acclaim with more than 100 books on space, science and the future. He was credited with the concept of communications satellites in 1945, decades before they became a reality. Post-polio syndrome, March 19.

Jim McKay, 86, venerable and eloquent ABC sportscaster thrust into the role of telling Americans about the tragedy at the 1972 Munich Olympics. “They’re all gone,” McKay announced after a commando raid to rescue the athletes ended in tragedy. He was host of ABC’s influential Wide World of Sports for more than 40 years, starting in 1961. Natural causes, June 7.
Robin Moore, 82, non-fiction author best known for writing The French Connection and The Green Berets. Long illness, Feb. 21.
Ike Pappas, 75, longtime CBS newsman who was a few feet from presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald when he was fatally shot and reported the chaotic 1963 scene live on the air. He also covered major events like the Vietnam War and anti-war demonstrations at home. Heart disease, Aug. 31.
Getty Images for <i>Meet the Press</i> Tim Russert, 58, a political lifer who made a TV career of his passion, rising to Washington bureau chief for NBC. He was known for his unrelenting questioning of the powerful and influential as host of the Sunday morning talk show, Meet the Press. Heart attack, June 13.
Tony Snow, 53, conservative writer and commentator who cheerfully sparred with reporters in the White House briefing room during a stint as President Bush’s press secretary. He served as the first host of the television news program Fox News Sunday from 1996 to 2003. Colon cancer, July 12.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, 89, Nobel Prize-winning Russian author whose books chronicled the horrors of dictator Josef Stalin’s slave labor camps. Through unflinching accounts of the eight years he spent in the Soviet gulag, Solzhenitsyn’s novels and non-fiction works exposed the secret history of the vast prison system that enslaved millions. The accounts riveted his countrymen and earned him years of bitter exile, but international renown. Heart failure, Aug. 3.
Cecil Stoughton, 88, the first official White House photographer, he shot the iconic 1963 image of Lyndon Johnson taking the oath of office aboard Air Force One after John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Cause not given, Nov. 3.
Studs Terkel, 96, ageless master of listening and speaking, a broadcaster, activist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author whose best-selling oral histories celebrated the common people he liked to call the “non-celebrated.” Cause not given, Oct. 31.

W. Mark Felt, 95, former FBI second-in-command who revealed himself as “Deep Throat” 30 years after he helped The Washington Post unravel the Watergate scandal. The shadowy central figure in one of the most gripping political dramas of the 20th century, Felt insisted his alter ego be kept secret when he leaked damaging information to Post reporter Bob Woodward. The scandal led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974, two years after the break-in at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate office building in Washington. Congestive heart failure, Dec. 18.

AP file photo Bobby Fischer, 64, reclusive chess genius who became a Cold War hero by dethroning the Soviet world champion, Boris Spassky, in 1972 but later renounced his American citizenship. As a champion, he used his eccentricities to unsettle opponents, but Fischer’s reputation as a genius of chess was soon eclipsed, in the eyes of many, by his idiosyncrasies. Kidney failure, Jan. 17.
Douglas A. Fraser, 91, who led the United Auto Workers union through dark hours in the U.S. auto industry in the 1970s and ’80s. Emphysema, Feb. 23.

 

Ruth Greenglass, 83, whose testimony in the sensational Rosenberg spy trial helped send her sister-in-law Ethel Rosenberg to the electric chair. Greenglass and her husband, David, confessed to being part of an effort to smuggle secrets to the Soviets and turned in the Rosenbergs, their relatives, as the spies who recruited them. Historians continue to debate the truthfulness of their testimony concerning Ethel Rosenberg, whose guilt has long been questioned. Cause not given, April 7.
Gary Gygax, 69, who co-created the fantasy game Dungeons & Dragons in 1974 and helped start the role-playing phenomenon. Various ailments, March 4.
Larry Harmon, 83, who turned the character Bozo the Clown into a show business staple that delighted children for more than a half-century. Although not the original Bozo, Harmon portrayed the popular clown in countless appearances and, as an entrepreneur, he licensed the character to others. Congestive heart failure, July 3.
Zelma Henderson, 88, the last surviving adult plaintiff in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case, which led to the historic 1954 Supreme Court ruling outlawing segregation in public schools. Pancreatic cancer, May 20.
Sir Edmund Hillary, 88, who became the first person, with Tenzing Norgay in 1953, to stand atop Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain. Heart attack, Jan. 11.
Mildred Loving, 68, black woman whose challenge to Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage led to a landmark 1967 Supreme Court ruling striking down such laws nationwide. No cause given, May 2.Bill Melendez, 91, animator who gave life to Snoopy, Charlie Brown and other Peanuts characters on scores of movies and television specials. His seven-decade career began in 1938 at Walt Disney Studios. Cause not given, Sept. 2.

Roy K. Moore, 94, FBI agent who oversaw investigations into some of the most notorious civil rights-era killings, including the 1964 disappearance of civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman. Complications from pneumonia, Oct. 12.
Lorenzo Odone, 30, man whose parents’ battle to save him from a nerve disease was told in the movie Lorenzo’s Oil. Diagnosed at age 6 with adrenoleukodystrophy, or ALD, doctors told his parents the disease would lead to his death in two years. But his parents worked to find a treatment for him. Pneumonia, May 30.

Anthony Russo, 71, researcher who helped leak the Vietnam-era Pentagon Papers to the media and prompted wider public questioning of the war. The government tried to stop publication of the Pentagon Papers, in The New York Times and The Washington Post, prompting a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision barring prior restraint of free expression. Cause not given, Aug. 6.
Kermit Scott, 71, believed to be the inspiration for Jim Henson’s Muppet, Kermit the Frog. He and Henson were childhood friends in Leland, Miss. Cause not given, May 26.
Robert Steinberg, 61, a family doctor who helped popularize artisan chocolates in the USA through the company he co-founded, Scharffen Berger. Lymphatic cancer, Sept. 17.
Margaret Truman, 83, only child of former president Harry Truman, she became a concert singer, actress, mystery writer and radio and TV personality, known as Margaret Truman Daniel. Brief illness, Jan. 29.
Michael Turner, 37, comic book artist who drew covers for major titles such as Superman/Batman, The Flash and Civil War. Bone cancer, June 27.
Martha “Sunny” von Bulow, 76, heiress who spent the last 28 years of her life in a coma after what prosecutors alleged in a pair of sensational trials were two murder attempts by her husband, Claus. The murder case split Newport, R.I., society, produced lurid headlines and was later made into the 1990 film Reversal of Fortune. No cause given, Dec. 6.
Bettie Page, 85, 1950s secretary-turned-model whose controversial photographs in skimpy attire or none at all helped set the stage for the 1960s sexual revolution. Her photos included a centerfold in the January 1955 issue of then-fledgling Playboy magazine, as well as controversial sadomasochistic poses. Heart attack, Dec. 11.
House Peters Jr., 92, TV actor who became the original Mr. Clean in Procter & Gamble’s commercials for household cleaners. Pneumonia, Oct. 1.
Sammy Baugh, 94, Texas Christian University quarterback known as “Slingin’ Sammy” who went on to set numerous passing records with the Washington Redskins in an era when NFL teams were running most every down. Cause not given, Dec. 17.
Herb Peterson, 89, who invented, in 1972, the ubiquitous Egg McMuffin as a way to introduce breakfast to McDonald’s restaurants. Cause not given, March 25.Don Haskins, 78, Hall of Fame coach credited with helping break color barriers in college sports in 1966 when he used five black starters to win a national basketball title for Texas Western against an all-white Kentucky squad. The gruff Haskins, who was white, said he wasn’t trying to make a social statement with his lineup; he was simply starting his best players. Congestive heart failure, Sept. 7.

Bobby Murcer, 62, five-time All-Star outfielder who spent nearly four decades with the New York Yankees as a player, executive and announcer. Brain tumor, July 12.
Johnny Podres, 75, Four-time All-Star who pitched the Brooklyn Dodgers to their only World Series title in 1955. He was the first Most Valuable Player chosen in World Series history. Cause not given, Jan. 13.
Will Robinson, 96, first black basketball coach at a Division I school with Illinois State University in the 1970s. As a Detroit Pistons scout he discovered Joe Dumars and Dennis Rodman. Cause not given, April 28.
Preacher Roe, 92, who began pitching in the Ozarks and became a four-time All-Star as a revered member of “The Boys of Summer” in Brooklyn. Roe went 127-84 in a 12-year career with St. Louis, Pittsburgh and the Dodgers. Cause not given, Nov. 9.
US Presswire Gene Upshaw, 63, Hall of Fame guard for the Oakland Raiders who played in Super Bowls in three different decades then spent 25 years as the leader of the NFL players union, helping players achieve free agency and the riches that came with it. Pancreatic cancer, Aug. 20.

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Mother Jones-There’s an awful lot that is crazy about this speech by Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy, the fourth largest coal company in the country, and member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce board of directors. He says “greeniacs” are trying to take over the country. He says that people who disagree with his retrograde views on global warming and energy (climate change doesn’t exist, duh) are “communists” and “atheists.” He compares the editors of a newspaper that has criticized him to Osama bin Laden.

But my favorite part is when Blankenship suggests that somehow third world countries have got themselves in their unfortunate states by trying too hard to conserve energy and live sustainably.

I have spent quite a bit of time in Russia and China and India in the last year or two, and I can tell you, that’s the first stage. You go from having your own car to carpooling to, you know, riding the bus to mass transit. You eventually get to where you’re walking. And your apartments go from being nice apartments and homes with your own bathroom, to sharing bathrooms and kitchens with four families.

Whatever you say, chief. Here are the highlights; they’re an excellent view into the thinking of the far Right. More video is over at the NRDC.

Like similar lists on education, obesity, heathcare, and poverty the overwhelming majority of states at the bottom are from the so-called southern “Bible Belt.”

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WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President George W. Bush said in an interview Tuesday he was forced to sacrifice free market principles to save the economy from “collapse.”

“I’ve abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system,” Bush told CNN television, saying he had made the decision “to make sure the economy doesn’t collapse.”

Bush’s comments reflect an extraordinary departure from his longtime advocacy for an unfettered free market, as his administration has orchestrated unprecedented government intervention in the face of a dire financial crisis.

Unfettered free-market principles got us in this mess in the first place.

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Even as the auto industry teeters on collapse, union-bashing continues as the mainstay of a GOP propaganda war against organized labor. With three million jobs at stake, potentially costing taxpayers $150 billion in unemployment insurance, Medicaid, other aid and lost tax revenues, unions remain the primary targets of the GOP blame game for the troubled auto industry and the failed bailout deal. The Bush Administration, while dithering over the scope of any bailout with federal funds, has faced mounting pressure from Republicans to impose the same sort of union-wrecking conditions that scuttled a deal in the Senate last week.

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This year marks the Center for Media and Democracy’s (CMD’s) fifth annual Falsies Awards. The Falsies are our attempt to shine an unflattering light on those responsible for polluting the information environment over the past year. We’re happy to report that more people — nearly 1,450 — voted in this year’s Falsies survey than ever before! We’re also bestowing special recognition on one of this year’s “winners.”

Falsies recipients can collect their prizes — a pair of Groucho Marx glasses, our two cents and a chance to atone for their spinning ways by making a detailed public apology — by visiting CMD’s office in Madison, Wisconsin. This year’s Gold and Silver Falsies go to masters of war deception, while the Bronze Falsie recognizes a massive greenwash campaign. The first-ever Lifetime Achievement Falsie goes to a serial corporate front man, while a determined (if at times laughable) attempt at nation re-branding wins dishonorable mention. Then there are the Readers’ Choice Falsies and Win Against Spin Awards, nominated by our survey participants.

That’s a lot to cover, so without further ado, the winners of the 2008 Falsies Awards are …

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The Federal Reserve on Thursday will vote on sweeping reform of the credit card industry that would ban practices such as retroactively increasing interest rates at will and charging late fees when consumers are not given a reasonable amount of time to make payments.

The Fed, which has been considering the proposed changes since May, declined this week to release details of the final draft regulations. But banking officials and consumer advocates said that they do not expect substantial changes before the vote, especially since members of Congress have pressured the Fed not to water down the rules.

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A new ranking of college affordability gives 49 of the 50 states F’s. But while there’s no doubt that college has gotten painfully expensive, a closer look at the data behind the numbers shows there are still some educational bargains out there. For example, the report showed that students in Tennessee pay, on average, the least for a year of college—just 13 percent of their families’ income, according to “Measuring Up 2008: The National Report Card on Higher Education,” the study released today by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. In some cases, of course, students get what they pay for. Some of the low-cost schools don’t perform well on standard measures such as graduation rates and consequently are not highly rated in U.S. News‘s “America’s Best Colleges” rankings. But parents in states such as Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina have the opportunity to send their children to highly ranked public universities without beggaring themselves.

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I think GWB has given up, he’s obviously tired and feeling guilty. Tired of the stress, the lies, being the  puppet of Cheney, the military industrial complex, corporate conservatism, and tired of feeling guilty about his arrogant, disasterous anti-democratic decisions that will ultimately determine his legacy.  Recently the lame duck holder of the Office of President has been granting rather uncharacteristically honest, introspective interviews reflecting on his presidency.  He has admitted to many mistakes about the Iraq war and  today he acknowledged in a speech that there was no link between Iraq and 9/11.  He also stated his belief  that the the overwhelming democratic success in this past election was a repudiation of republican policies and practices.

Does his candor mean that  he has suddenly found God?  No wait, never mind….according to Bush God speaks to him nightly and has been counseling him on these decisions.

GWB has already mentioned that in his post-presidency he’d like to write a memoir and speak on the lecture circuit. Many observers have already gone on record as saying that the main purpose of this is to spin his historically low approval rating and re-write his legacy.

I just hope that like OJ Simpson, who was sentenced today to about 9 years in prison, history will not forget the evils of GWB and he will get his just due.  The damage that he and his greedy controllers have wraught on this country is immeasurable.

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