Partially cut:

• $3.5 billion for energy-efficient federal buildings (original bill $7 billion)

• $75 million from Smithsonian (original bill $150 million)

• $200 million from Environmental Protection Agency Superfund (original bill $800 million)

• $100 million from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (original bill $427 million)

• $100 million from law enforcement wireless (original bill $200 million)

• $300 million from federal fleet of hybrid vehicles (original bill $600 million)

• $100 million from FBI construction (original bill $400 million)

Fully eliminated

• $55 million for historic preservation

• $122 million for Coast Guard polar icebreaker/cutters

• $100 million for Farm Service Agency modernization

• $50 million for Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service

• $65 million for watershed rehabilitation

• $100 million for distance learning

• $98 million for school nutrition

• $50 million for aquaculture

• $2 billion for broadband

• $100 million for National Institute of Standards and Technology

• $50 million for detention trustee

• $25 million for Marshalls Construction

• $300 million for federal prisons

• $300 million for BYRNE Formula grant program

• $140 million for BYRNE Competitive grant program

• $10 million state and local law enforcement

• $50 million for NASA

• $50 million for aeronautics

• $50 million for exploration

• $50 million for Cross Agency Support

• $200 million for National Science Foundation

• $100 million for science

• $1 billion for Energy Loan Guarantees

• $4.5 billion for General Services Administration

• $89 million General Services Administration operations

• $50 million from Department of Homeland Security

• $200 million Transportation Security Administration

• $122 million for Coast Guard Cutters, modifies use

• $25 million for Fish and Wildlife

• $55 million for historic preservation

• $20 million for working capital fund

• $165 million for Forest Service capital improvement

• $90 million for State and Private Wildlife Fire Management

• $1 billion for Head Start/Early Start

• $5.8 billion for Health Prevention Activity

• $2 billion for Health Information Technology Grants

• $600 million for Title I (No Child Left Behind)

• $16 billion for school construction

• $3.5 billion for higher education construction

• $1.25 billion for project based rental

• $2.25 billion for Neighborhood Stabilization

• $1.2 billion for retrofitting Project 8 housing

• $40 billion for state fiscal stabilization (includes $7.5 billion of state incentive grants)

WASHINGTON – Michael S. Steele, the newly elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, arranged for his 2006 Senate campaign to pay a defunct company run by his sister for services that were never performed, his finance chairman from that campaign has told federal prosecutors.

Federal agents in recent days contacted Steele’s sister, a spokesman for Steele said yesterday.

The claim about the payment, one of several allegations by Alan B. Fabian, is outlined in a confidential court document. Fabian offered the information last March as he was seeking leniency for himself during plea negotiations on unrelated fraud charges. It is unclear how extensively his claims have been pursued. Prosecutors gave him no credit for cooperation when he was sentenced in October.

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A FLURRY of letters between the British Foreign Office and the US State Department has revealed that Washington did threaten to withdraw intelligence-sharing with Britain if documents related to the alleged torture of a British terrorism detainee in Guantanamo Bay were made public.

The High Court in London said on Wednesday the Foreign Office had refused to allow the torture documents to be revealed because of a “threat” from Washington to stop sharing intelligence with Britain.

The US warning, related to the case of British detainee Binyam Mohamed, was promptly denied by British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who insisted that there had been no threat from the US to “break off intelligence co-operation”.

But on Thursday night British broadcaster Channel 4 revealed that a letter dated August 21, 2008, from the US State Department, stated the consequences if a British court published American documents on the capture and interrogation of Mohamed.

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JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Senate on Friday found Gov. Sarah Palin’s husband and nine state employees, including some of her top aides, in contempt for ignoring subpoenas to testify in the Legislature’s Troopergate investigation.

The Senate said it would seek no punishment for the witnesses’ failure to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee last fall in an investigation into the governor’s firing of her public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan.

“During the Monegan investigation, we were reminded that the legislative branch’s power of subpoena is an important one, and must be respected by the executive branch,” said Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage. “With this resolution, the Senate is making it clear that we are a coequal branch of state government.”

When are people going to understand that Palin is just another self-promoting, lying republican who thinks that they are above the law. She is good for one thing and one thing only, and its not politics.  She fulfills the sexual fantasy of the sexually oppressed republican male, nothing more.  This is the one thing that the McCain camp got right in selecting her.

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Explosive anger is spilling out onto the streets of Europe. The meltdown of the global economy is igniting massive social unrest in a region that has long been a symbol of political stability and social cohesion. 

It’s not a new trend: A wave of upheaval is spreading from the poorer countries on the periphery of the global economy to the prosperous core.

Over the past few years, a series of riots spread across what is patronizingly known as the Third World. Furious mobs have raged against skyrocketing food and energy prices, stagnating wages and unemployment in India, Senegal, Yemen, Indonesia, Morocco, Cameroon, Brazil, Panama, the Philippines, Egypt, Mexico and elsewhere.  

For the most part, those living in wealthier countries took little notice. But now, with the global economy crashing down around us, people in even the wealthiest nations are mad as hell and reacting violently to what they view as an inadequate response to their tumbling economies.

The Telegraph (UK) warned last month that protests over governments’ handling of the crisis “are widespread and gathering pace,” and “may spark a new revolution”: 

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Many people continue to clutch to their belief in God, even though there’s no evidence of a higher power. Why?

We’re doing that because if we start with the idea that if God does exist, then we have to explain why there are so many versions of Him (her or it) and why we can’t figure out the right one. Historically, that’s a dead end, stuck in the same battle as Saladin and Richard the Lionheart in the Crusades.

The agnostic position — either we can’t know, or let’s wait until rocket ship (real or metaphorical) finally lands in heaven or some place of infinite vistas from which we can see there is no God — leaves like Samuel Becket’s two tramps, eternally Waiting for Godot.

So we start with “God does not exist,” which demands that we come up with a theory that will explain why we believe, why belief is so popular, and so strong that people will kill and die for their own particular brand of it.

There are other false beliefs for which the evidence is stronger and more easily seen, that people have readily given up.

Such beliefs include: the earth is standing still (it certainly looks like it), that the sun rises and sets (you see it every day), the earth is solid (it has a hard crust over a molten center), that the earth is flat and you can fall of the edge, that matter is solid (atoms are mostly empty space), that something can’t be both a wave and a particle (electrons are apparently both), that all the species were created separately and simultaneously (give or take a day).

Our theory has to explain why belief in God is more tenacious, with less evidence, than those.

It also has to deal with The Atheist’s Dilemma.

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Ronald Reagan’s 98th birthday is being celebrated today at a time that should be a cause for soul searching among his admirers. The conservative revolution that Reagan unleashed upon the nation and much of the world lay in ashes, and Washington is embarking on a new epoch of government intervention to eradicate the excesses of free-market purism. One would expect liberals to be out in the streets looking for statues of the Gipper to topple from their pedestals.

But nothing of the kind is happening. While George W. Bush is now the bane even of many conservatives, a Marine Corps contingent will lay a wreath at Reagan’s gravesite safe in the knowledge that much of the nation holds his memory in a warm embrace.

Historians may one day view this as an odd historical conundrum, since Reagan’s legacy is so clearly imprinted on the myriad of forces that have vitiated the American dream for millions of working people and brought wreckage to the world economy.

The continuing fallout from Reagan’s policies – the meltdown of the financial sector, widening income inequality, the emergence of lockdown America, the obscene inflation of CEO compensation, the end of locally owned media, market crashes, blackouts, drug-company scandals, rampant greed and materialism — is all around us. As D.H. Lawrence once wrote in another context, “The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins.”

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WASHINGTON (CNN) — One week after the U.S. Army announced record suicide rates among its soldiers last year, the service is worried about a spike in possible suicides in the new year.

The Army said 24 soldiers are believed to have committed suicide in January alone — six times as many as killed themselves in January 2008, according to statistics released Thursday.

The Army said it already has confirmed seven suicides, with 17 additional cases pending that it believes investigators will confirm as suicides for January.

If those prove true, more soldiers will have killed themselves than died in combat last month. According to Pentagon statistics, there were 16 U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq in January.

“This is terrifying,” an Army official said. “We do not know what is going on.”

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Joe the Plumber now advising the GOP on the economy

Cedar Rapids and Estherville, Iowa

Hundreds of workers lost their jobs after the Rockwell-Goss printing press factory closed here in Cedar Rapids in 2001. The hulking empty shell sat idle on the outskirts of the city for four years.

But that was before wind power blew into town, bringing thousands of clean-tech manufacturing jobs to Iowa and the Midwest.

In many cases, the new industry is setting up shop in defunct heavy manufacturing plants, bringing new economic life and vitality to old settings.

Bob Loyd, who once oversaw crews manufacturing the last printing presses to leave the old Rockwell-Goss factory, now manages workers assembling the newest generation of giant wind turbines in the same building.

“We’ve all watched the demise of heavy manufacturing in the Midwest in recent years,” says Mr. Loyd, plant manager at Clipper Turbine Works, a division of Clipper Windpower in Carpinteria, Calif.

“I wouldn’t say it’s all returned. But wind power is definitely helping bring some of that manufacturing muscle back.”

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AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT PLAN: THE IMPACT FOR VIRGINIA

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan is a nationwide effort to create jobs, jumpstart growth and transform our economy for the 21st century. Across the country, this plan will help businesses create jobs and families afford their bills while laying a foundation for future economic growth in key areas like health care, clean energy, education and a 21st century infrastructure. In Virginia, this plan will deliver immediate, tangible impacts, including:
• Creating or saving 99,000 jobs over the next two years. Jobs created will be in a range of industries from clean energy to health care, with over 90% in the private sector. [Source: White House Estimate based on Romer and Bernstein, “The Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan.” January 9, 2009.]

• Providing a making work pay tax cut of up to $1,000 for 3,000,000 workers and their families. The plan will make a down payment on the President’s Making Work Pay tax cut for 95% of workers and their families, designed to pay out immediately into workers’ paychecks. [Source: White House Estimate based on IRS Statistics of Income]

• Making 71,000 families eligible for a new American Opportunity Tax Credit to make college affordable. By creating a new $2,500 partially refundable tax credit for four years of college, this plan will give 3.8 million families nationwide – and 71,000 families in Virginia – new assistance to put college within their reach. [Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis of U.S. Census data]

• Offering an additional $100 per month in unemployment insurance benefits to 247,000 workers in Virginia who have lost their jobs in this recession, and providing extended unemployment benefits to an additional 46,000 laid-off workers. [Source: National Employment Law Project]
• Providing funding sufficient to modernize at least 165 schools in Virginia so our children have the labs, classrooms and libraries they need to compete in the 21st century economy. [Source: White House Estimate]

In addition to this immediate assistance for Virginia, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan will help transform our economy by:
• Doubling renewable energy generating capacity over three years, creating enough renewable energy to power 6 million American homes.

• Computerizing every American’s health record in five years, reducing medical errors and saving billions of dollars in health care costs.

• Launching the most ambitious school modernization program on record, sufficient to upgrade 10,000 schools.

• Enacting the largest investment increase in our nation’s roads, bridges and mass transit systems since the creation of the national highway system in the 1950s.

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?

Failed out of college, failed the bar. Ran for senate, lied about his affiliation, lied about his endorsements, lost by double digits anyway. And stem cells are the same as the Holocaust.

Classic GOP idiocracy and disdain for the normal folk….

Over to your right, at the start of his U.S. News op-ed on creationism, Henry Morris contends that 60 percent of Americans believe in the Jewish and Christian myth of creation: that some 10,000 years ago, a Supreme Being created an Adam and Eve and so began the human race.

He cites this statistic as a reason for including creationism, along with Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, in public school biology classes.

By doing so, of course, Morris exposes the silliness in his own argument.

Humans believe in lots of stupid stuff. Ghosts. UFOs. Satan. Collateralized Debt Obligations.

Our ancestors believed that the sun was a flying God named Apollo. The Hopi, the Hindus, the Buddhists, the Mormons, and many other peoples have composed elaborately varying songs of creation. It is our nature, when looking out at the great twin expanses of space and eternity, to come up with comforting myths.

The alternative—”They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more”—makes for truly courageous literature, but too many sleepless nights. 

Here’s a challenge for Mr. Morris, as we consider the seriousness of popular opinion. Name one great movie star who hasn’t played a supernatural being, or otherwise starred in a science fiction or fantasy flick.

The pop culture industry—that supposed font of liberal atheism—constantly fills our heads (and its bank accounts) with comforting imagery of dancing angels, talking pigs, kung fu pandas, star cruisers, zombies, cavemen riding dinosaurs, sensuous vampires, lost loved ones who linger as friendly spirits, comic book superheroes, cuddly aliens, prep schools for wizards, and cute beeping robots.

The Force is ever with us. When you add all that mythology to the pervasive influence of Sunday church services, religious schooling, and Christian rock radio, it’s a wonder that science can carve out any space in our culture at all.

Skeptical journalism? Well, consider U.S. News—which gives Mr. Morris and his superstitions equal time, in homage to “objectivity.”

And yet, we humans can compartmentalize. We may not want to weigh the pointlessness of life in every waking moment—there are too many fun things to do. But at some level we acknowledge that myths are myths and facts are facts and it’s better for the race if we keep the two things separate. The place for that is science class. And we need to keep it that way.

As President Obama makes his final push for approval of the $825 billion and growing job stimulus plan, he’s winning support from groups like Americans United for Change that are targeting opposing Republicans. We heard from Americans United boss Brad Woodhouse today, and he revealed plans to expand his ad campaign against Republican foes. The hook of the ads: Are Republicans going to walk in lock-step with popular conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh? “The time to act boldly to turn this economy around is now, and we are leaving no stone unturned, ratcheting up the pressure on key senators to do the right thing,” he says. “House Republicans decided to listen to Rush Limbaugh and put partisan politics ahead of getting people back to work as the Obama plan would do. We are putting senators on notice not to follow Limbaugh off the cliff into the political abyss but to support the Obama jobs plan instead.”

So, starting this week, he’s expanding TV and radio ads targeting Republicans. Included in the new wave are Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, Missouri Sen. Kit Bond, Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning, North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, and Florida Sen. Mel Martinez. Woodhouse called the radio ads “Limbaugh themed.” Right now, the group is running ads against 13 of the 41 senators, or an entire third of the GOP caucus.

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