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KN4M 01-03-06

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  • Robert Sterling
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com Son, you re making the same mistake in Iraq
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 3, 2007
      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist

      "Son, you're making the same mistake in Iraq that I made with your
      mother. I didn't pull out in time..."
      George Herbert Walker Bush to son


      Sean Penn Accepts 'First Amendment Award' -- Hits Media, Calls for
      By E&P Staff
      Published: December 19, 2006

      NEW YORK Sean Penn, the actor and occasional foreign correspondent
      for the San Francisco Chronicle, hit the media and called for
      impeachment of the president in receiving the 2006 Christopher Reeve
      First Amendment Award fromThe Creative Coalition Monday night in New
      York City.

      Presented since 1997, the First Amendment Award
      recognizes "individuals who are dedicated to the sanctity of the
      first amendment and its free speech provision." Other Creative
      Coalition honorees last night included Branford Marsalis, Harvey
      Keitel, Heather Graham and Marcia Gay Harden.

      In his remarks, Penn listed more than a dozen serious issues facing
      the country, and commented, "We depend largely for information on
      these issues from media industries, driven by the bottom line to
      such an extent that the public interest becomes uninteresting."

      Turning to his views of President Bush, Penn said, "Now, there's
      been a lot of talk lately on Capitol Hill about how impeachment
      should be `off the table.' We're told that it's time to look ahead -
      not back...

      "Can you imagine how far that argument would go for the defense at
      an arraignment on charges of grand larceny, or large-scale
      distribution of methamphetamines? How about the arranging of a
      contract killing on a pregnant mother? `Indictment should be off the
      table.' Or `Let's look forward, not backward.' Or `We can't afford
      another failed defendant.'

      "Our country has a legal system, not of men and women, but of laws.
      Why then are we so willing to put inconvenient provisions of the
      U.S. constitution and federal law `off the table?'"

      Penn said he admired New York Times columnist Frank Rich but
      disagreed with his position that pursuing impeachment now would
      be "decadent."

      In his prepared remarks, he also lamented how the U.S. public was
      allegedly tricked into backing the Iraq invasion and derided those
      media figures who did that, describing Rush Limbaugh as "high as a
      kite on OxyContin," Bill O'Reilly as "factually impaired," and Sean
      Hannity as "simply a whore to the cause of his pimps - Murdoch and
      Ailes?" He then rapped former Rep. Mark Foley, Sen. Joe Lieberman
      and even singer Toby Keith.

      With that, he imagined listeners thinking, "Oh, there goes Sean...he
      had to go and name-call. They say he can't help himself." But he
      asked: "Or, did I name-call? Maybe I just quickly summed up seven or
      eight little truths. Oh, no, you're right - I name-called. I
      said, `putz.' I take it back. Or, do I? Did I say whore? Pimp? These
      are questions. But, the real and great questions of conscience and
      accountability would not loom so ominously -- unanswered or evaded
      at such tremendous cost -- without our day-to-day failure to insist
      on genuine accountability.

      "Of course we'd prefer some easy ways to get there. But no easy ways
      exist. Not a new Congress. Not Barack Obama. And, not John McCain."

      More excerpts from his prepared speech, first posted at
      Huffingtonpost.com, follow.
      The most effective forms of de facto censorship are pre-emptive.
      Systemically, we are encouraged to keep our heads down, out of the
      line of fire - to avoid the danger, god forbid, that someone in the
      White House, on Capitol Hill, or a media blow-hard might take a shot
      at us.

      But, as a practical matter, most of the limits on creative
      expression and other forms of free speech come from self-censorship,
      where the mechanism of corporate clout offers carrots and brandishes
      sticks. We avoid a conflict before the conflict materializes. We
      reach for the carrots and stay out of range of sticks.

      Decades ago, Fred Friendly called it a "positive veto" -
      corporations putting big money behind shows that they want to
      establish and perpetuate. Whether in journalism or drama, creative
      efforts that don't gain a financial "positive veto" are dismissible,
      then dismissed. We may not call that "censorship." But whatever we
      call it, the effects of a "positive veto" system are severe. They
      impose practical limits on efforts to bring the most important
      realities to public attention sooner rather than later...

      We're beginning to see more revealing images of this war. But it's
      later now, isn't it? What we have to pay attention to are the
      results of these "practical limits." One, is that wars become much
      easier to launch than to halt&hellip.

      I'm sure many people who I met in Baghdad, both in my trips prior to
      and during the occupation, now similarly cannot just look forward.
      With lives so entirely shattered by a violence of occupation - an
      ongoing U.S. war effort and the civil war that it has catalyzed. All
      on the back of a crumbled infrastructure, following eleven years of
      devastating U.N. sanctions...

      Let's give the whistle-blowers cover, let's get the subpoenas out
      there, and then, one by one, put this administration under oath. And
      then, if the crimes of "Treason, bribery, or other high crimes and
      misdemeanors" are proven, do as Article 2, Section 4 of the United
      States Constitution provides, and remove "the President, Vice
      President and...civil officers of the United States" from office. If
      the Justice Department then sees fit to bunk them up with Jeff
      Skilling, so be it&hellip.

      Christopher Reeve promised to get out of that chair. Well, I don't
      know about you, but it feels like he's up now and I wouldn't be
      standing here if it weren't on his shoulders. Let it be for


      Dennis Prager and the Constitution
      By Gerald Plessner
      Online Journal Contributing Writer
      Dec 21, 2006

      A number of my friends think Dennis Prager is a brilliant,
      thoughtful commentator. I believe that, as far as the Constitution
      is concerned, Prager is a first class idiot. You be the judge.

      Dennis Prager believes that Congressman-elect Keith Ellison of
      Minnesota should be required to take the oath of office with his
      hand on the Bible. Ellison, who is an American-born convert to
      Islam, has said that he intends to take the oath with his hand on
      the Koran.

      Prager has written that "America, not Keith Ellison, decides what
      book a congressman takes his oath on." Prager recently defended his
      statement on the "Hannity & Colmes" show on FOX News, an outlet
      that, not surprisingly, has also defamed Ellison. The congressman-
      elect was elected by a majority of voters in his district, which,
      incidentally, is home to a large percentage of the Minneapolis
      Jewish community.

      Prager might have saved himself from looking foolish had he read our
      Constitution, which in Article Six states, "The Senators and
      Representative before mentioned, and the members of the several
      state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of
      the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath
      or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test
      shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public
      trust under the United States."

      That paragraph, seldom cited in the debate over the relationship
      between church and state, provides two important lessons. First it
      does not require the swearing to involve the presence of any holy
      writ, Jewish Bible, Christian Bible, Koran, Book of Mormon or

      Senators, representatives and many state and local groups of
      officials are sworn in simultaneously and never swear on a book.

      But even more enlightening about the paragraph is the option given
      to the person being sworn to affirm their intentions rather than
      swear to them. That indicates that the Constitution's authors
      decided that non-believers and members of religions other than the
      dominant religion at the time, Christianity, should be accorded the
      courtesy, yea the right, to swear if they wish upon whatever holy
      writ they believed in.

      Prager states that "You don't have to be Christian to acknowledge
      that the Bible is the source of America's values." I respectfully
      disagree. The Bible was one of the sources of our values, along with
      the Enlightenment, John Locke, the Federalist and Anti-Federalist
      Papers, the Magna Carta, the writings of Thomas Paine and many

      Dennis Prager is the only Jew I know of who thinks America should be
      a Christian nation. As a Jew that perplexes me. As an American, it
      saddens me because it is one more silly argument that separates and
      divides our people when we so badly need to come together.

      But the nasty aspect of Prager's vengeful crusade to humiliate an
      American who takes his citizenship seriously reminds me of a
      terrible time in our world's history. Our mutual ancestors, his and
      mine, in Spain, Portugal and across northern Europe were murdered by
      the Inquisition because they refused to convert to Christianity.

      Forcing a Muslim to swear on any Bible, a Jew to swear on the
      Christian Bible, or a Mormon to swear on something other than the
      Book of Mormon if he wishes, comes just about as close to a modern
      Inquisition as I can imagine.

      I cannot forgive Prager for that!

      Gerald Plessner is a Southern California businessman who writes
      regularly on issues of politics and culture. He would be pleased to
      hear from you and may be contacted at gerald@....


      Bill seeks to ban trans fats from Massachusetts

      BOSTON, Massachusetts (Reuters) -- A lawmaker introduced a bill
      Tuesday that would make Massachusetts the first U.S. state to ban
      artificial trans fats from restaurants, closely following New York
      City's ban of the artery-clogging oils.

      "We have an opportunity to vastly improve public health by directing
      restaurants to switch to healthier alternatives," Peter Koutoujian,
      a Democratic representative in the Massachusetts Legislature, said
      in a statement.

      The bill uses language similar to new regulations announced this
      month by New York City, but marks the first effort to force
      restaurants in an entire state to stop frying foods in oils that
      contain high levels of trans fats. (Interactive:Trans Fat 101 )

      New York's law, believed to be the first of its kind in the United
      States, requires restaurants including McDonald's Corp.to eliminate
      trans fats by July 2007 or face fines for each violation.

      Trans fats increase the risk of heart disease and stroke by
      increasing levels of so-called "bad" cholesterol, known as LDL, and
      reducing levels of "good," or HDL, cholesterol.

      Massachusetts has one of the lowest obesity rates in the country,
      according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

      "New York City's decision to ban trans fats from restaurants shows
      how government can take positive action toward improving public
      health," said Koutoujian, house chairman of the Legislature's Joint
      Committee on Public Health.

      Under his proposal, no foods with artificial trans fat could be used
      to prepare restaurant menu items, with the exception of food served
      directly to customers in the manufacturer's original sealed package
      like potato chips.

      Restaurants would have one year to switch to oils, margarines and
      shortenings that contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fat for every

      Trans fats occur naturally in some meat and dairy products, which
      would not be subject to the ban. Instead, the law targets nearly all
      artificial trans fats, which are chemically added to oils and give
      french fries their crunch and help create the texture of pie crusts
      and doughnuts.

      America's fast-food chains, whose foods are among the most laden
      with trans fats, are moving toward voluntary reduction.

      Wendy's International Inc. has reduced trans fats by switching to a
      different cooking oil, while McDonald's has been trying since 2002
      to reduce trans fats in its french fries.

      The privately held Dunkin' Donuts chain in 2004 started removing
      trans fats from bagels, muffins and cookies, and is researching
      alternative ways to make its mainstay doughnuts healthier.

      Koutoujian said he hopes he'll find support for the bill from fellow
      lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled Legislature, which starts its
      new two-year session in January.

      "There is an overwhelming amount of evidence out there revealing
      just how damaging trans fats are," he said.


      Toyota said to overtake Ford in January 2007
      America's No. 2 automaker says by 2007 its Japanese rival will
      overtake it in sales in the U.S. market - report.
      December 21 2006

      NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Ford Motor Co. expects Japan's Toyota Motor
      Corp. to unseat it next year as the second biggest company behind
      General Motors Corp. in the American car market, a position Ford has
      held since the 1920s, the New York Times said on its Web site

      Citing internal Ford projections, the paper says the projections
      show that company officers believe Ford will permanently fall to
      third place as soon as January.

      Ford, which is struggling to restructure itself under a plan called
      The Way Forward, predicted in September that its market share within
      two years would bottom out at 14 to 15 percent of the market, making
      it smaller than Toyota is now, the paper said.

      While it had not specifically predicted that it would end up behind
      Toyota, the implication was clear, the New York Times said.

      Edmunds.com, a Web site offering car-buying advice, plans to issue
      its own forecast Thursday that will echo the internal Ford
      projections, predicting second place for Toyota (Charts) by mid-
      2007, the paper said.

      The New York Times said that Ford's chief sales statistician, George
      Pipas, declined to comment Wednesday night on the internal
      projections. Of the Edmunds forecast, Mr. Pipas said only: "Unless
      you think Toyota is going to go backwards, it's a good possibility
      that they will gain market share," according to the paper.

      Ford was not immediately available for comment.

      Toyota is already bigger than Ford globally, and is rivaling the
      world's largest automaker, General Motors (Charts).


      Toyota plans to surpass GM sales in 2007
      By Martin Fackler
      Friday, December 22, 2006

      Toyota Motor said Friday that it planned to sell 9.34 million
      vehicles next year, a figure that analysts said would be big enough
      to put it ahead of the troubled General Motors as the world's
      largest auto company.

      Toyota reported global group sales this year of 8.8 million cars and
      trucks, below GM's forecast for 2006 sales of 9.2 million vehicles.
      But the figures Friday showed the two rival car giants on starkly
      different trajectories, with Toyota expecting to add a half million
      vehicle sales next year, at a time when GM is shuttering plants and
      laying off workers.

      Surpassing General Motors would be a crowning achievement for
      Toyota, a company that got its start in the 1930s by reverse-
      engineering GM and Ford cars, and that spent decades catching up
      with Detroit. It would also end GM's 81-year reign over the global
      auto industry, and mark another step in the rise of Asian carmakers.

      However, becoming the global leader would also have its pitfalls for
      Toyota, analysts warned. The Japanese automaker could become a
      victim of its own success and follow GM's decline, they said, if it
      grows complacent or lets quality control slip amid its rapid
      expansion. Being at the top could also make Toyota a fatter target
      for critics, particularly in the U.S. Congress, where the company's
      rise could fan a protectionist backlash, analysts said.

      "Does being No. 1 matter? It matters for GM, and for America," said
      Hirofumi Yokoi, an auto analyst at CSM Asia. "It becomes a political
      issue when America gets passed in a core industry. Toyota will have
      to be even more sensitive and cautious in the U.S. market."

      Toyota's emergence as No.1 would also realign the global auto
      industry. The Japanese car company would become the new industry
      benchmark, analysts said, and one that would be tough to match.
      While GM's strength in recent years has been its finance arm,
      Toyota's success is grounded in its formidable manufacturing
      prowess. As the world's most profitable carmaker, it also has the
      cash to invest heavily in new technologies and products, analysts

      Analysts also said that reaching the top would not exhaust Toyota's
      opportunities for growth. They said the company would continue to
      gain in the American market, where higher gasoline prices have
      increased the popularity of smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.
      They said Toyota was expanding in developing markets, particularly
      China, and into alternative-energy vehicles, like hybrid and fuel-
      cell technologies.

      Toyota's rise would also prove a victory of sorts for its unique
      corporate culture, the so-called Toyota Way, which is rooted in an
      obsession with craftsmanship and constant improvement, or kaizen.
      Analysts said the Toyota Way would likely become enshrined as the
      industry's gold standard, and the model to mimic or surpass for new
      challengers from South Korea and China.

      "This proves that the Toyota Way is more than just an odd, quirky
      theory," said Chester Dawson, author of the book "Lexus: the
      Relentless Pursuit." "Being No.1 means Toyota now sets the standards
      that everyone has to beat."

      For Toyota, the immediate concern appears to be avoiding any
      political fallout from passing GM. On Friday, Toyota's president,
      Katsuaki Watanabe, treaded lightly around the issue of his company's
      overtaking GM, while announcing may open another factory in North
      America. At a press conference in Nagoya, near his company's Toyota
      City headquarters, Watanabe said passing GM "is just a question of
      results," and not a significant event for Toyota, according to
      Bloomberg News.

      Toyota is also considering another factory somewhere in North
      America, Watanabe said. The company just opened a $1.28 billion
      pickup truck plant in San Antonio, Texas last month, and has another
      factory under construction in Woodstock, Ontario slated to open in

      Toyota has been building plants in the United States since the
      1980s, partly to blunt trade criticism. The expanded production will
      help Toyota to meet U.S. sales gains without increasing exports from
      Japan, a Toyota executive vice president, Tokuichi Uranishi, said,
      according to Bloomberg News.

      Watanabe also addressed Toyota's growing number of recalls this
      year, which have tarnished the company's reputation for sterling
      quality. In Japan alone, Toyota has recalled 1.2 million vehicles
      this year, prompting the Transport Ministry to order the company to
      improve quality control.

      "There will be no growth without quality," Watanabe said, according
      to The Associated Press.

      Analysts said the growing number of defects could seriously
      undermine the company in the long run.

      "Now that it's Toyota's turn on top of the industry," said CSM's
      Yokoi, "Toyota has to figure out how to keep from following GM into

      So far, the defect problems have not slowed Toyota's pace of growth.
      The company said Friday that it and its affiliates expected to build
      9.42 million cars and trucks next year, up from 9.04 million this
      year. The Toyota group includes two subsidiaries, the truck maker
      Hino Motors and a maker of compact cars, Daihatsu.

      Toyota also gave a regional breakdown for its sales forecast for
      next year of cars built by the parent company that bear the Toyota
      and Lexus brands. The largest market will remain the United States,
      where sales are expected to rise 6 percent, to 2.68 million vehicles.

      The company also said it expected a 9 percent rise in Europe and a
      15 percent gain in Asia, including China.

      Some analysts noted with irony that being No.1 had not helped the
      current title holder, GM, which posted $10.6 billion in losses last

      "Being on top won't change anything in terms of share price or
      earnings," said Atushi Kawai, an auto analyst at Mizuho Investors
      Securities in Tokyo. "In fact, if you look at who's been No.1 until
      now, you see that there really aren't many benefits at all."
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