The news that President Bush's war on terror will soon have cost the U.S. taxpayer $1 trillion - and counting - is unlikely to spread much Christmas cheer in these tough economic times. A trio of recent reports - none by the Bush Administration - suggests that sometime early in the Obama presidency, spending on the wars started since 9/11 will pass the trillion-dollar mark. Even after adjusting for inflation, that's four times more than America spent fighting World War I, and more than 10 times the cost of 1991's Persian Gulf War (90 percent of which was paid for by U.S. allies). The war on terror looks set to surpass the cost the Korean and Vietnam wars combined, to be topped only by World War II's price tag of $3.5 trillion.
Unfortunately, the only person who may have been able to verify that the voting machines in major states were rigged, Michael Connell, is now dead due to a mysterious airplane "accident".
States from Rhode Island to California are being forced to curtail Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor, as they struggle to cope with the deteriorating economy.
With revenue falling at the same time that more people are losing their jobs and private health coverage, states already have pared their programs and many are looking at deeper cuts for the coming year. Already, 19 states -- including Maryland and Virginia -- and the District of Columbia have lowered payments to hospitals and nursing homes, eliminated coverage for some treatments, and forced some recipients out of the insurance program completely.
What may be the nation's largest spill of coal ash lay thick and largely untouched over hundreds of acres of land and waterways Wednesday after a dam broke this week, as officials and environmentalists argued over its potential toxicity.
Federal studies long have shown coal ash to contain significant quantities of heavy metals such as arsenic, lead and selenium, which can cause cancer and neurological problems. But with no official word on the dangers of the sludge in Tennessee, displaced residents spent Christmas Eve worried about their health and their property and wondering what to do.
The spill reignited a debate over whether the federal government should regulate coal ash as a hazardous material. Similar ponds and mounds of ash exist at hundreds of coal plants nationwide.
As President Bush's term comes to a close, the United States has the world's largest economy and its most powerful military. Yet its global influence is in decline.
The United States emerged from the Cold War a solitary superpower whose political and economic leverage often enabled it to impose its will on others. Now, America usually needs to build alliances -- and often finds that other powers aren't willing to go along. In the 1990s, America exerted leadership in all the remote corners of the globe, from the southern cone of South America to Central Asia. Now, the United States has largely left the field in many regions, leaving others to step forward.
The research arm of the US Department of Justice is working on two portable non-lethal weapons that inflict pain from a distance using beams of laser light or microwaves, with the intention of putting them into the hands of police to subdue suspects.
The two devices under development by the civilian National Institute of Justice both build on knowledge gained from the Pentagon's controversial Active Denial System (ADS) - first demonstrated in public last year, which uses a 2-metre beam of short microwaves to heat up the outer layer of a person's skin and cause pain.
"The truth is, there is no Islamic army or terrorist group called Al Qaida. And any informed intelligence officer knows this. But there is a propaganda campaign to make the public believe in the presence of an identified entity representing the 'devil' only in order to drive the TV watcher to accept a unified international leadership for a war against terrorism. The country behind this propaganda is the US. "Former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook
President George W. Bush on Wednesday revoked a pardon he had granted only a day before — a step unheard of in recent memory — after learning in news reports of political contributions to Republicans by the man's father and other information.
Bush pardoned 19 people on Tuesday, including Isaac Robert Toussie of Brooklyn, N.Y., who had been convicted of making false statements to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and of mail fraud. On Wednesday, the White House issued an extraordinary statement saying the president was reversing his decision in Toussie's case.
White House press secretary Dana Perino said the new decision was "based on information that has subsequently come to light," including on the extent and nature of Toussie's prior criminal offenses. She also said that neither the White House counsel's office nor the president had been aware of a political contribution by Toussie's father that "might create an appearance of impropriety."
TVNL Comment: This is the first decent action that George W. Bush initiated during his entire reign.
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