“Deel achterban wil fusie D66 en GroenLinks”, aldus NRC. Hoewel ik denk dat de warme gevoelens in het rechterdeel van D66 en het linkerdeel van GroenLinks misschien niet zo groot zijn, heb ik dit altijd al een goed idee gevonden. Eén grote sociaal-liberale, progressieve partij: doen. Linkse samenwerking: doen.
De kanttekening is dat het natuurlijk wel electoraal voordeel op dient te leveren, anders kun je beter los blijven. Aangezien D66 ook kiezers van VVD en CDA trekt, maar GroenLinks veel van de SP, is dat een opgave.
Politieke leiders van beide partijen treuzelen, maar vanuit de achterban neemt de druk toe. Kiezers van D66 en GroenLinks voelen wel voor een fusie van de partijen, zoals onder meer blijkt uit een actie die vanmiddag begint onder de naam ‘D66+GroenLinks=’.
Via een Facebookpagina en de site nieuwepartij.nl proberen D66’ers en GroenLinks-kiezers zoveel mogelijk handtekeningen te verzamelen om de partijen onder druk te zetten.
Ever heard of the indricotherium? No, neither did I. But this creature was the biggest mammal ever to walk the Earth. I stumbled on it via this article on a new publication in Science, about the reason why mammals after the extinction of the dinosaurs grew so large as they did. After being no bigger than rodents, they evolved into huge sizes, after which they sized down a bit.
The indricotherium (or paraceratherium) was a type of hornless rhinoceros-like mammal, that lived during the Eocene (56 to 34 million years ago). It was featured in episode 3 of the BBC series Walking With Beasts.
In the video below, the murals of an underground cavern beneath Manhattan are explored. Back in the day, this tunnel seems to have been a dwelling place for hundreds of homeless people, as well as graffiti artists.
Under Manhattan’s Upper West side, runs the “Freedom” Tunnel. Built in the 30’s by Robert Moses, the passage boasts legendary graffiti murals and piles of debris remaining of the past homeless city era. After using it for only a couple of years, Amtrak discontinued the line and left a massive cavern which later became a shelter for street people. Progressively, the tunnel turned into a veritable underground metropolis where thousands of homeless were living in organized communities underneath the city’s skin.
The tunnel also became a prime spot for graffiti artists. Chris Pape, aka Freedom, was one of the pioneers and his work inspired the name of the tunnel. “Freedom” painted immense murals utilizing the unique lighting provided by the ventilation ducts, turning the tunnel into an extraordinary underground art gallery. Some of his most notable paintings survived for decades and are still conspicuous today (“Venus de Milo”, the “Coca-Cola Mural”, Dali’s “Melting Clock”, a self-portrait featuring a male torso with a spray-can head, etc.).
In 1991, Amtrak decided to reopen the tunnel. The shanty towns were cleared out by the police and homeless were evicted. Although deserted, the tunnel is now an active train line and a stunning experience for urban explorers.
It is a bizarre blend of dark and light, silence and rumble, solitude and multitude. As you penetrate the tunnel and walk along the tracks, the sunbeams perforating the ceiling and highlighting the railway gives the place a post-nuclear feel. Voices from children playing above in Riverside Park sound like lost souls and trains whistling and roaring through the ruins of the shanty towns send chills down your spine.
This is one of the most uncommon and fascinating journeys I’ve ever taken.
NASA Sets News Conference on Astrobiology Discovery; Science Journal Has Embargoed Details Until 2 p.m. EST On Dec. 2
WASHINGTON — NASA will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 2, to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life. Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe.
The participation of certain scientists there seems to indicate that this will concern life on Mars. Probably microbes or bacteria. But who knows? Maybe an ancient temple, or a relic of certain kind?
- Update: The Sun has the goods. “It’s life, but not as we know it, Jim.” Microbes have been discovered in an arsenic lake in Yosemite National Park. These creatures uniquely rely on arsenic in their metabolism, which means that the probability of life on inhospitable planets increases.
Wat voor politieke kleur je ook hebt: dit is wel echt totale madness natuurlijk. Dit gaat dan over inbraken en autodiefstallen; bij gewelddadige roofovervallen is het percentage opgehelderde zaken 23 procent. En bij slechts 16 procent van deze overvallen volgt er een veroordeling.
In other words: als ik bij de buren uit roven en plunderen ga is er 85 procent kans dat ik er mee wegkom. Relaxed.
95,8 procent van de inbraken en autodiefstallen leidt niet tot enige vorm van straf. Dat blijkt uit een berekening die Binnenlands Bestuur maakte met CBS-cijfers over opsporing en berechting uit 2007. De politie beschikt niet over recentere opsporingscijfers. Vorige week werd al bekend dat in slechts 16% van de berovingszaken één of meer daders worden bestraft.
Een veelgehoorde klacht van slachtoffers van inbraak is dat de politie niet komt om sporen op te nemen en dat de daders dus niet worden opgespoord. Dit gevoel komt overeen met de cijfers; van de 340.020 gekwalificeerde diefstallen in 2007 werden er 320.618 niet opgelost. Dat is 94,3%. Onder gekwalificeerde diefstal wordt inbraak en autodiefstal verstaan, het meest voorkomende misdrijf waar Nederlanders mee te maken hebben.
Het meest interessant is natuurlijk de vraag hoe dit komt, en hoe het opgelost kan worden.
I know that cheating and plagiarism are rampant among both undergraduates and graduates, and that it gets worse with each new class of kids entering academia. But of the ‘Shadow Scholar’, who runs a company continuously blurting out scores of papers, essays and theses for ‘desperate’ students, I had no idea.
A fascinating, evocative story (apparently an essay written by the man himself and delivered to The Chronicle), although I have a hard time actually believing it.
In the past year, I’ve written roughly 5,000 pages of scholarly literature, most on very tight deadlines. But you won’t find my name on a single paper.
I’ve written toward a master’s degree in cognitive psychology, a Ph.D. in sociology, and a handful of postgraduate credits in international diplomacy. I’ve worked on bachelor’s degrees in hospitality, business administration, and accounting. I’ve written for courses in history, cinema, labor relations, pharmacology, theology, sports management, maritime security, airline services, sustainability, municipal budgeting, marketing, philosophy, ethics, Eastern religion, postmodern architecture, anthropology, literature, and public administration. I’ve attended three dozen online universities. I’ve completed 12 graduate theses of 50 pages or more. All for someone else.
You’ve never heard of me, but there’s a good chance that you’ve read some of my work. I’m a hired gun, a doctor of everything, an academic mercenary. My customers are your students. I promise you that. Somebody in your classroom uses a service that you can’t detect, that you can’t defend against, that you may not even know exists.
I work at an online company that generates tens of thousands of dollars a month by creating original essays based on specific instructions provided by cheating students. I’ve worked there full time since 2004. On any day of the academic year, I am working on upward of 20 assignments.
Of course, I know you are aware that cheating occurs. But you have no idea how deeply this kind of cheating penetrates the academic system, much less how to stop it. Last summer The New York Times reported that 61 percent of undergraduates have admitted to some form of cheating on assignments and exams. Yet there is little discussion about custom papers and how they differ from more-detectable forms of plagiarism, or about why students cheat in the first place.
The subject matter, the grade level, the college, the course—these things are irrelevant to me. Prices are determined per page and are based on how long I have to complete the assignment. As long as it doesn’t require me to do any math or video-documented animal husbandry, I will write anything.
I have completed countless online courses. Students provide me with passwords and user names so I can access key documents and online exams. In some instances, I have even contributed to weekly online discussions with other students in the class.
I have become a master of the admissions essay. I have written these for undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral programs, some at elite universities. I can explain exactly why you’re Brown material, why the Wharton M.B.A. program would benefit from your presence, how certain life experiences have prepared you for the rigors of your chosen course of study. I do not mean to be insensitive, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been paid to write about somebody helping a loved one battle cancer. I’ve written essays that could be adapted into Meryl Streep movies.
I, who have no name, no opinions, and no style, have written so many papers at this point, including legal briefs, military-strategy assessments, poems, lab reports, and, yes, even papers on academic integrity, that it’s hard to determine which course of study is most infested with cheating. But I’d say education is the worst. I’ve written papers for students in elementary-education programs, special-education majors, and ESL-training courses. I’ve written lesson plans for aspiring high-school teachers, and I’ve synthesized reports from notes that customers have taken during classroom observations. I’ve written essays for those studying to become school administrators, and I’ve completed theses for those on course to become principals. In the enormous conspiracy that is student cheating, the frontline intelligence community is infiltrated by double agents. (Future educators of America, I know who you are.)
De hypotheekrente-aftrek kost de staat jaarlijks 15 miljard euro. Dat loopt op naar 20 miljard in 2020. Desalniettemin verdwijnen er onder rechts complete sectoren in Nederland omdat er bezuinigd moet worden.
Iedere belangrijke internationale financiële institutie heeft Nederland gemaand iets te doen aan deze onrechtvaardige regeling.
Elke lijsttrekker strooide tijdens de verkiezingscampagne met breekpunten, maar niemand hield zich eraan.
Niet PvdA-leider Job Cohen maar Alexander Pechtold van D66 heeft de komst van een paars kabinet verijdeld. Althans, volgens premier Mark Rutte in een terugblik op de formatie. Dat blijkt uit een interview in het boek Over Rechts van RTL-verslaggever Jos Heymans, dat vandaag in Den Haag wordt gepresenteerd.
Tijdens het lijsttrekkersdebat op 26 mei in het Amsterdamse Carré maakte Pechtold een breekpunt van de hypotheekrente-aftrek. Hij daagde de andere lijsttrekkers uit hetzelfde te doen. Voor de VVD was de hypotheekrente-aftrek heilig. Rutte vindt achteraf bezien dat het daar al mis ging. ‘Ik vond: dat is niet handig, want daarmee limiteer je de opties. Dan behoort paars niet meer tot de mogelijkheden.’
Rutte ging na de verkiezingen desondanks formatiegesprekken aan voor Paars-plus, een kabinet met VVD, PvdA, D66 en GroenLinks. Deze poging tot formatie strandde uiteindelijk niet op de hypotheekrente-aftrek. Er is zelfs nog gesproken over beperking van de aflossingsvrije hypotheek. Het grote struikelblok was het totaal aan bezuinigingen. Toen het overleg daarover te moeizaam werd, trok Rutte de stekker eruit. Hij werd gevolgd door Cohen. Pechtold en Halsema (GroenLinks) hadden wel verder willen onderhandelen.
Interessant. Hoewel de New York Times, The Guardian en Der Spiegel een beperkt grasduinen in de originele documenten toestaan, heb ik zo snel niet iets uit of over Nederland kunnen vinden. De Volkskrant bericht echter dat 2745 van de kwart miljoen door WikiLeaks openbaar gemaakte geheime Amerikaanse diplomatieke documenten over Nederland handelen.
Zeer benieuwd wat daar in staat.
- Edit: Ah, Der Spiegel heeft meer. Volgens hen zijn er 3021 stukken uit Nederland, waarvan 45 “Secret Noforn” – oftewel niet voor buitenlandse ogen bestemd. Die stammen zo te zien uit de periode 2001-2010.
- Edit 2: The Guardian voorziet ons in onderstaand mooie plaatje. Den Haag is aardig vertegenwoordigd.
- Edit 3: Legers Twitteraars zijn inmiddels bezig de documenten door te pluizen. #cablegate is de te volgen hashtag! Check de Cable Viewer om zelf documenten door te nemen!
- Edit 4 @ 1.00 uur: Nederlandse tactical nukes genoemd in VS-overleg met Duitsland. Met de Cable Viewer naar tag NATO, en dan naar document 09BERLIN1433 “NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR HEUSGEN ON AFGHANISTAN”. Ctrl-f op “Netherlands”:
TACTICAL NUCLEAR WEAPONS
Â¶8. (C) In response to Gordon’s question about how the government planned to take forward the commitment in the coalition agreement to seek the removal of all remaining nuclear weapons from Germany, Heusgen distanced the Chancellery from the proposal, claiming that this had been forced upon them by FM Westerwelle. Heusgen said that from his perspective, it made no sense to unilaterally withdraw ”the 20″ tactical nuclear weapons still in Germany while Russia maintains “thousands” of them. It would only be worth it if both sides drew down. Gordon noted that it was important to think through all the potential consequences of the German proposal before going forward. For example, a withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Germany and perhaps from Belgium and the Netherlands could make it very difficult politically for Turkey to maintain its own stockpile, even though it was still convinced of the need to do so.
Van de ruim 250 duizend Amerikaanse diplomatieke documenten die klokkenluidersite Wikileaks de komende maanden zal publiceren, handelen er 2.745 over Nederland.
Dat valt op te maken uit een grafiek die Wikileaks zondagavond online plaatste. Dat zijn er net iets minder dan over Duitsland, en iets meer dan over Turkmenistan.
De meeste documenten gaan over Irak (15.365), gevolgd door Turkije (11.086), Iran (10.093) en Israël (9.520). Ook Afghanistan is goed vertegenwoordigd met 7.095 documenten.
Er zijn ook relatief veel documenten gelekt die op de Amerikaanse ambassade in Den Haag zijn opgesteld; zo’n 3.000. Van slechts 17 andere Amerikaanse overheidsinstanties zullen er de komende tijd meer documenten online komen.
One of the most important revelations from the WikiLeaks classified diplomatic cable publication is possibly that, as we blogged about earlier, not only Israel is urging the U.S. to go military on Iran before it acquires nuclear weaponry, but so do Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. For the Sunni leaders of these states, the prospect of the Shiite republic having an atom bomb must be awful.
And not only that: the sense is that if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, this might set off a Middle East arms race, with other states scrambling to arm themselves as well. On the other hand: imagine the prospect of either Israel unilaterally attacking Iran, or the US engaging in its third war against an Islamic state in a decade.
Yet since, whether we like it or not, a military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities by either Israel or the US is increasingly in the air (the war drums are already being beaten by American conservatives), this is pretty consequential information.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has repeatedly urged the United States to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear programme, according to leaked US diplomatic cables that describe how other Arab allies have secretly agitated for military action against Tehran.
The revelations, in secret memos from US embassies across the Middle East, expose behind-the-scenes pressures in the scramble to contain the Islamic Republic, which the US, Arab states and Israel suspect is close to acquiring nuclear weapons. Bombing Iranian nuclear facilities has hitherto been viewed as a desperate last resort that could ignite a far wider war.
The Saudi king was recorded as having “frequently exhorted the US to attack Iran to put an end to its nuclear weapons programme”, one cable stated. “He told you [Americans] to cut off the head of the snake,” the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir said, according to a report on Abdullah’s meeting with the US general David Petraeus in April 2008.
The cables also highlight Israel’s anxiety to preserve its regional nuclear monopoly, its readiness to go it alone against Iran – and its unstinting attempts to influence American policy. The defence minister, Ehud Barak, estimated in June 2009 that there was a window of “between six and 18 months from now in which stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons might still be viable”. After that, Barak said, “any military solution would result in unacceptable collateral damage.”
The leaked US cables also reveal that:
• Officials in Jordan and Bahrain have openly called for Iran’s nuclear programme to be stopped by any means, including military.
• Leaders in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt referred to Iran as “evil”, an “existential threat” and a power that “is going to take us to war”.
• Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, warned in February that if diplomatic efforts failed, “we risk nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, war prompted by an Israeli strike, or both”.
[In] a meeting with Italy’s foreign minister earlier this year, Gates said time was running out. If Iran were allowed to develop a nuclear weapon, the US and its allies would face a different world in four to five years, with a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. King Abdullah had warned the Americans that if Iran developed nuclear weapons “everyone in the region would do the same, including Saudi Arabia”.
No US ally is keener on military action than Israel, and officials there have repeatedly warned that time is running out. “If the Iranians continue to protect and harden their nuclear sites, it will be more difficult to target and damage them,” the US embassy reported Israeli defence officials as saying in November 2009.
This really boggles me. Revealed by the publication by WikiLeaks of a quarter millon classified diplomatic cables from American embassies, is a massive secret intelligence campaign directed by the U.S. government against the leadership of the United Nations.
This included the gathering of personal details, biometric information (fingerprints and iris scans), passwords, credit card numbers, use of private networks and frequent flyer accounts of the secretary general, permanent Security Council representatives, undersecretaries, heads of agencies, chief advisers, heads of peacekeeping operations and other key top UN personnel.
While of course in the dark side of international relations such a thing shouldn’t surprise anyone, I’m still amazed at the grandiosity of this scheme.
Washington is running a secret intelligence campaign targeted at the leadership of the United Nations, including the secretary general, Ban Ki-moon and the permanent security council representatives from China, Russia, France and the UK.
A classified directive which appears to blur the line between diplomacy and spying was issued to US diplomats under Hillary Clinton’s name in July 2009, demanding forensic technical details about the communications systems used by top UN officials, including passwords and personal encryption keys used in private and commercial networks for official communications.
Washington also wanted credit card numbers, email addresses, phone, fax and pager numbers and even frequent-flyer account numbers for UN figures and “biographic and biometric information on UN Security Council permanent representatives”.
The secret “national human intelligence collection directive” was sent to US missions at the UN in New York, Vienna and Rome; 33 embassies and consulates, including those in London, Paris and Moscow.
The operation targetted at the UN appears to have involved all of Washington’s main intelligence agencies. The CIA’s clandestine service, the US Secret Service and the FBI were included in the “reporting and collection needs” cable alongside the state department under the heading “collection requirements and tasking”.
The leak of the directive is likely to spark questions about the legality of the operation and about whether state department diplomats are expected to spy. The level of technical and personal detail demanded about the UN top team’s communication systems could be seen as laying the groundwork for surveillance or hacking operations. It requested “current technical specifications, physical layout and planned upgrades to telecommunications infrastructure and information systems, networks and technologies used by top officials and their support staff”, as well as details on private networks used for official comunication, “to include upgrades, security measures, passwords, personal encryption keys and virtual private network versions used”.
The UN has previously asserted that bugging the secretary general is illegal, citing the 1946 UN convention on priveleges and immunities which states: “The premises of the United Nations shall be inviolable. The property and assets of the United Nations, wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall be immune from search, requisition, confiscation, expropriation and any other form of interference, whether by executive, administrative, judicial or legislative action”.
The 1961 Vienna convention on diplomatic relations, which covers the UN, also states that “the official correspondence of the mission shall be inviolable”.
The emergence of the directive also risks undermining political trust between the UN leadership and the US, which is the former’s biggest paying member, supplying almost a quarter of its budget – more than $3bn (£1.9bn) this year.
Washington wanted intelligence on the contentious issue of the “relationship or funding between UN personnel and/or missions and terrorist organisations” and links between the UN Relief and Works Agency in the Middle East, and Hamas and Hezbollah. It also wanted to know about plans by UN special rapporteurs to press for potentially embarrassing investigations into the US treatment of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, and “details of friction” between the agencies co-ordinating UN humanitarian operations, evidence of corruption inside UNAids, the joint UN programme on HIV, and in international health organisations, including the World Health Organisation (WHO). It even called for “biographic and biometric” information on Dr Margaret Chan, the director general of WHO, as well as details of her personality, role, effectiveness, management style and influence.
It’s on: despite a cyberattack on their website just hours ago, WikiLeaks has published more than 250,000 classified diplomatic cables from American embassies around the globe. In major newspapers, there’s now talk about a worldwide diplomatic crisis.
What’s in it is, well, huge and encompassing, with lots and lots of information on countless international matters.
The United States was catapulted into a worldwide diplomatic crisis today, with the leaking to the Guardian and other international media of more than 250,000 classified cables from its embassies, many sent as recently as February this year.
At the start of a series of daily extracts from the US embassy cables – many of which are designated “secret” – the Guardian can disclose that Arab leaders are privately urging an air strike on Iran and that US officials have been instructed to spy on the UN’s leadership.
These two revelations alone would be likely to reverberate around the world. But the secret dispatches which were obtained by WikiLeaks, the whistlebowers’ website, also reveal Washington’s evaluation of many other highly sensitive international issues.
These include a major shift in relations between China and North Korea, Pakistan’s growing instability and details of clandestine US efforts to combat al-Qaida in Yemen.
Among scores of other disclosures that are likely to cause uproar, the cables detail:
• Grave fears in Washington and London over the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme
• Alleged links between the Russian government and organised crime.
• Devastating criticism of the UK’s military operations in Afghanistan.
• Claims of inappropriate behaviour by a member of the British royal family.
The US has particularly intimate dealings with Britain, and some of the dispatches from the London embassy in Grosvenor Square will make uncomfortable reading in Whitehall and Westminster. They range from serious political criticisms of David Cameron to requests for specific intelligence about individual MPs.
The cache of cables contains specific allegations of corruption and against foreign leaders, as well as harsh criticism by US embassy staff of their host governments, from tiny islands in the Caribbean to China and Russia.
The material includes a reference to Vladimir Putin as an “alpha-dog”, Hamid Karzai as being “driven by paranoia” and Angela Merkel allegedly “avoids risk and is rarely creative”. There is also a comparison between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Adolf Hitler.
The cables name countries involved in financing terror groups, and describe a near “environmental disaster” last year over a rogue shipment of enriched uranium. They disclose technical details of secret US-Russian nuclear missile negotiations in Geneva, and include a profile of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who they say is accompanied everywhere by a “voluptuous blonde” Ukrainian nurse.
The electronic archive of embassy dispatches from around the world was allegedly downloaded by a US soldier earlier this year and passed to WikiLeaks. Assange made them available to the Guardian and four other newspapers: the New York Times, Der Spiegel in Germany, Le Monde in France and El País in Spain. All five plan to publish extracts from the most significant cables, but have decided neither to “dump” the entire dataset into the public domain, nor to publish names that would endanger innocent individuals. WikiLeaks says that, contrary to the state department’s fears, it also initially intends to post only limited cable extracts, and to redact identities.
The cables published today reveal how the US uses its embassies as part of a global espionage network, with diplomats tasked to obtain not just information from the people they meet, but personal details, such as frequent flyer numbers, credit card details and even DNA material.
Classified “human intelligence directives” issued in the name of Hillary Clinton or her predecessor, Condoleeza Rice, instruct officials to gather information on military installations, weapons markings, vehicle details of political leaders as well as iris scans, fingerprints and DNA.
The most controversial target was the leadership of the United Nations. That directive requested the specification of telecoms and IT systems used by top UN officials and their staff and details of “private VIP networks used for official communication, to include upgrades, security measures, passwords, personal encryption keys”.
They are classified at various levels up to “SECRET NOFORN” [no foreigners]. More than 11,000 are marked secret, while around 9,000 of the cables are marked noforn. The embassies which sent most cables were Ankara, Baghdad, Amman, Kuwait and Tokyo.
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Monday on Larry King Live grandpa and grandma Bush were asked about their thoughts on the 2012 elections. They clearly support Mitt Romney. George H. W. Bush:
He’s a reasonable guy. He’s a conservative fellow, that’s good. But no, I think he’d be a good president, a very good president. If you asked me, who will the nominee be, I couldn’t tell you. We like Mitt Romney. We know him well and like him very much.
They were not so positive about Sarah Palin. Barbara Bush:
I sat next to her once. Thought she was beautiful. And she’s very happy in Alaska, and I hope she’ll stay there.
Ouch. Why is this important? Because it says something about how the party establishment thinks about Palin. She’s going to have a hard time gathering funds and therefore also to become the Republican candidate. People like Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie are very concerned about Palin as well, according to this report on Politico. The struggle will be between the party establishment on the one side, which is backing safer candidates like Newt Gingrich, Jim DeMint, Eric Cantor and Mitt Romney, and the media activists like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity on the other. Then there are also other contenders like Mike Huckabee, Mitch Daniels and Rep. Paul Ryan.
It’s going to be an exciting race. Palin’s chances are getting slimmer though. Not only does she have to deal with her low favorability ratings among the American voters, but also with the averseness of the party establishment. Even the ratings of her showSarah Palin’s Alaska are plummeting!