FUBAR

Pentagon axed Obama’s troop visit

The Pentagon advised Senator Barack Obama’s staff that he could visit a US military hospital in Germany only in his official capacity as a member of Congress, without the trappings of a political campaign, Pentagon officials said Friday.

Justice Dept. approved CIA torture

The Justice Department in 2002 told the CIA that its interrogators would be safe from prosecution for violations of anti-torture laws if they believed "in good faith" that harsh techniques used to break prisoners’ will would not cause "prolonged mental harm."

Home foreclosures up 14 percent

US home foreclosures leapt nearly 14 percent in the second quarter from the previous quarter, research group RealtyTrac said Friday in a sign of deepening housing woes.

On an annual basis, home foreclosure filings soared 121 percent from the same period in 2007, RealtyTrac said in releasing a survey of the country’s 100 largest metropolitan areas.

Is anybody here in charge?

One of Washington’s odder practices, redolent of the Third World and its autocratic leaders, is having standard-issue portrait photos of the current president plastered all over federal government buildings and offices.

Love or selfishness?

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of Garrett Hardin’s extremely influential essay "The Tragedy of the Commons."

And now a belated word for reality

With Americans fleeing to multiplexes to escape reality and the heat by seeing the latest Batman movie, it is important that someone speak up for poor, neglected reality.

Rights? What rights?

An FBI agent testifying at the first Guantanamo war crimes trial said interrogators did not advise detainees here of any rights because the military prison is dedicated to intelligence gathering, not law enforcement.

Agent Ali Soufan, an al-Qaida expert and star witness for the prosecution, said Tuesday the Guantanamo Bay Navy base is the only place in the world where he has not informed suspects of a right against self-incrimination.

Disasters waiting to happen

For millions of Americans living in flood-prone places, all that stands between the waters of mayhem and safety is a pile of dirt.

Earthen berms, dikes and levees identical to those overtopped and breached in scores of places along swollen Midwest rivers in recent weeks, make up the vast majority of flood protection efforts across the United States.

Once again, we pay the check

Do we never learn?

In the 1980s, Congress, for what seemed good reason at the time, deregulated the thrifts — savings and loan institutions — and what followed were several intense years of wildly risky speculation in real estate and development, fueled by the creation of new and at the time exotic financing like brokered deposits and the bundling of mortgages for sale to Wall Street.

Time to overhaul the VA

PATIENT (waving his right arm in a big circle): Doctor, it hurts when I do this. So what do you recommend?

DOCTOR: Don’t do that.

– Old vaudeville joke.