Saturday, November 12, 2005

More Flies In The Web | In e-mails, consultant claims link to Cornyn:
(Thanks to JM@TPM
WASHINGTON -- Former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed claimed in a 2001 e-mail to a lobbyist that he choreographed John Cornyn's efforts as Texas attorney general to shut down an East Texas Indian tribe's casino.

The lobbyist was Jack Abramoff, who is under federal investigation, along with his partner Michael Scanlon, on allegations of defrauding six Indian tribes of about $80 million from 2001 to 2004. The e-mail, along with about a dozen others, was released last week as part of the investigation.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Senate Approves Limiting Rights of U.S. Detainees

Senate Approves Limiting Rights of U.S. Detainees - New York Times:
WASHINGTON, Nov. 10 - The Senate voted Thursday to strip captured 'enemy combatants' at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, of the principal legal tool given to them last year by the Supreme Court when it allowed them to challenge their detentions in United States courts.

The vote, 49 to 42, on an amendment to a military budget bill by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, comes at a time of intense debate over the government's treatment of prisoners in American custody worldwide, and just days after the Senate passed a measure by Senator John McCain banning abusive treatment of them.
So, if you don't like what the Supreme Court decides, just pass a law to fix it? Isn't that going against constitutional law, not to mention international law? Wouldn't this require an amendment to the Constitution? I guess I have a lot to learn about U.S. jurisprudence, but it sure smells like manure to me.

Iraq Blowback Gathers Steam

Iraq-Based Jihad Appears to Seek Broader Horizons - New York Times:
An Iraqi vice president, Adel Abdul Mahdi, issued a similar warning about the Zarqawi group's expanding horizons during a visit to Washington on Thursday, saying that 'all countries should be concerned' about the prospect that Islamic militants from Iraq 'will start to open another front in other parts of the world.'

The prospect that the war in Iraq would inflame anti-American sentiments among Muslims around the world and contribute to the spread of Islamic terrorism beyond Iraq has long been cited by the Central Intelligence Agency as a potential danger.

Going Down, Down, Down

My Way News:
Almost six in 10 - 57 percent - said they do not think the Bush administration has high ethical standards and the same portion says President Bush is not honest, an AP-Ipsos poll found. Just over four in 10 say the administration has high ethical standards and that Bush is honest. Whites, Southerners and evangelicals were most likely to believe Bush is honest.
What a surprise! Hey! I'm in one of those groups, and I think he's a lying sack of fecal material! I also know people in each of those groups that agree with me. Still, I get it. I bet white supremacists think he's a god.
Bush, who promised in the 2000 campaign to uphold 'honor and integrity' in the White House, last week ordered White House workers, from presidential advisers to low-ranking aides, to attend ethics classes.
Yeah, that ought to do it. Wanker!

Clinton Zings Republican Congressmen

My Way News:
Speaking at an academic conference examining his presidency here Thursday, Clinton challenged historian Douglas Brinkley's comments in a newspaper interview that Clinton would be deemed a great president were it not for his impeachment.

'I completely disagree with that,' Clinton said in his speech at Hofstra University. 'You can agree with that statement, but only if you think impeachment was justified. Otherwise, it was an egregious abuse of the Constitution and law and history of our country.'

Clinton was acquitted by the Senate of perjury and obstruction of justice at his 1999 impeachment trial, which he argued was not about what he called his 'misconduct.'

'Now if you want to hold it against me that I did something wrong, that's a fair deal,' he said. 'If you do that, then you have a whole lot of other questions, which is how many other presidents do you have to downgrade and what are you going to do with all those Republican congressmen, you know, that had problems?'

Like most people, I agree with Bill that he was set up by the Republican Congress and he really didn't do anything that should have risen to the level of impeachment, but he got caught in what he considered a "little white lie" by an overzealous and unforgiving prosecutorial process driven by political motives. His dalliance with Monica was an act between consenting adults and though unseemly should not have been dragged through the courts and public stage. Starr far exceeded his appointment in a desparate attempt to take Clinton down. The rumors of sexual harrassment never convinced, coming as they did from floozies of the conservative conspiracy that so many tried to ridicule Hillary for mentioning but existed nonetheless.

Clinton did something wrong, but thousands of soldiers and tens of thousands of civilians didn't die because of his actions. Compared to a majority of his peers, he was a saint. I kind of miss him. It will be fun to have him back in the White House as First Gentleman. He's gotten wittier and more entertaining with time.

McCain Bats .500

My Way News:
McCain stood firm in his dispute with the White House over legislation he has proposed outlawing torture or cruel and inhumane treatment of U.S. prisoners. Vice President Dick Cheney is working in Congress to exempt the CIA from such a formal ban.

'We're either going to have a blanketed uniform standard or we're not,' McCain said in answer to a question. He said torturing to get information was immoral, was not effective and encouraged potential enemies to do the same to Americans.
McCain, the Arizona maverick who challenged George W. Bush for the presidential nomination in 2000 and is considered likely to make another run, repudiated calls from many Democrats for a plan to start withdrawing troops from Iraq.

In his speech to the American Enterprise Institute, he also praised the resolve of Bush, whose poll ratings have plummeted partly on discontent over the Iraq war.


A senior member of the Armed Services Committee, McCain said the administration must take a new approach in Iraq that he said would require more U.S. troops and would "take time, probably years, and mean more American casualties."

The United States has 150,000 troops in Iraq. More than 2,050 U.S. military personnel have been killed there.

Instead of trying to shift forces around the country to secure all of Iraq from insurgents, McCain said the Pentagon should concentrate on securing and then holding insurgent strongholds.

"Our forces cannot hold the ground indefinitely, and when they move on to fight other battles, the insurgent ranks replenish and strongholds fill again," McCain said. "Our troops must then re-enter the same area and refight the same battle."
At least he has a different approach from the Bushies, but oviously still wants to stay in Iraq and attempting to control the Middle East through intimidation of military force. Oh, well. He is, after all, a Republican.

Haliburton Diversifies lts Portfolio Of Dubious Business Practices

My Way Finance:
NEW YORK (Reuters) - An investigation by the U.S. Labor Department found that Halliburton Co.'s (HAL) pension plans violated the law three times and the company paid more than $8.6 million to correct the violations, the New York Times reported on Friday, citing correspondence from the department.


According to the Times, two of the violations began while Vice President Dick Cheney was the company's chief executive, but the largest infraction took place after he resigned in the summer of 2000.
So, Cheney ripped off the employee pension fund? And all that happened was a paid settlement? Hmmmmm.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Criminal Probe Set for New Orleans Levees

My Way News:
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Federal prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into the levee failures that swamped New Orleans, looking into the possibility of corruption in the design, construction and maintenance of the flood barriers.

U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said Wednesday that his office began the investigation the week after Hurricane Katrina.

'The scope of our interest is very broad,' he said.

He said some officials were found to have undisclosed conflicts of interest, and 'we're extremely concerned about those.' He would not give details.
I'd like to think that these prosecutors will be as unbiased and thorough as Mr. Fitzgerald, but something tells me they won't be. We'll see if this is the administration's way of getting out from under the backlash of their originally feeble response to the crisis, or if it's a legitimate inquiry. Stay tuned.

Wired News: No Fed Security Laws, Hurrah!!

Wired News: No Fed Security Laws, Hurrah!!:
'I would rather see Congress fail to act than pass a weak federal bill that gives less notice than consumers are already getting due to stronger state laws,' Hillebrand said.

Chris Hoofnagle, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center West, echoed Hillebrand's assessment, adding that as new state laws go into effect in the beginning of 2006, federal lawmakers will face pressure from states that don't want their legislation overridden by Congress.

'Consumers will get a better deal with no federal bill this year,' Hoofnagle said.
They're probably right, though I think this says something about the current majority in Congress; something bad.

Al Franken For President!

My Way News:
NEW YORK (Reuters) - He pioneered mock television news 30 years ago and wrote a satirical book about becoming the 44th president of the United States.

So when comedian Al Franken says he is considering a run for U.S. Senate you have to ask -- is he serious?

'The next thing I am doing is moving back home to Minnesota and getting involved in politics,' Franken told Reuters in an interview at his Air America radio studio. 'I'm looking at a run for Senate in 2008, but in the meantime I am focused on knitting together the progressive network in the upper Midwest.'

It sounds serious. Franken is starting a national tour to promote his new book 'The Truth (With Jokes),' which features the usual political satire that has made him a top-selling humor writer.

A New York Times reviewer called it 'an extended stump speech' for his political run.'
I can't wait for this one! Give 'em hell, Al!

Roe v. Wade Attorney Leaning Against Alito

My Way News:
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The attorney who won the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established abortion rights says she will likely oppose Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court, but is still studying his writings and opinions before taking a formal position.

'At this point, I will assume I will eventually come out against him,' Sarah Weddington said Wednesday after a speech at Ohio State University. 'The question we have to ask is, would we want to live in an America he would envision?'
No surprise here; from the "horse's mouthpiece," so to speak.

Rice Defends (?) Prisoner Treatment

My Way News:
'For the United States, an essential element of the rule of law has always been and still remains law among nations,' Rice told an American Bar Association international law gathering Wednesday. 'We have always respected our international legal obligations and we have led the world in developing new international law.'
Headlines in Bahrain this week followed the homecoming of three men held at Guantanamo for nearly four years. "Free at Last!" proclaimed the English-language Gulf News. The three were picked up in Pakistan shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks and were never charged with a crime.

Three Bahrainis remain at the military prison, including one who has repeatedly attempted suicide. The Bahrain government said it will continue pressing U.S. officials for his release.
I've got to hand it to Condi; she does this with a straighter face than Powell ever could.

Alito Ethically Challenged

My Way News:
"WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate Democrats are pressing for extensive records on the participation of Judge Samuel Alito in an appeals case involving a mutual fund company with which he had a six-figure investment.

In their first coordinated challenge to Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court, the eight Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday sent a letter to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals saying Alito had promised the panel in 1990 he would 'disqualify myself from any cases involving the Vanguard companies.'
Why am I not surprised? Consider the source of his appointment.

Frist Doesn't Care About Torture Prisons (or torturing cats)

My Way News:
WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist says he is more concerned about the leak of information regarding secret CIA detention centers than activity in the prisons themselves.

Frist told reporters Thursday that while he believed illegal activity should not take place at detention centers, he believes the leak itself poses a greater threat to national security and is 'not concerned about what goes on' behind the prison walls.


'My concern is with leaks of information that jeopardize your safety and security - period,' Frist said. 'That is a legitimate concern.'

Right! It's not a threat to security that we torture people in secret prisons, just that somebody let the cat out of the bag. Oops, I said "cats!" We know how Frist feels about them!

Times Reporter Agrees to Leave the Paper - New York Times

Times Reporter Agrees to Leave the Paper - New York Times:
Bill Keller, the executive editor, announced the move to the staff in a memorandum yesterday, saying, 'In her 28 years at The Times, Judy participated in some great prize-winning journalism.'
Yeah, she took the prize all right!
In a statement, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of The Times, said: 'We are grateful to Judy for her significant personal sacrifice to defend an important journalistic principle,' adding, 'I respect her decision to retire from The Times and wish her well.'
Significant...sacrifice = quitting her cushy job here. important...principle = truth at the Times. respect...decision = good riddance!
Ms. Miller, 57, said in an interview that she was 'very satisfied' with the agreement and described herself as a 'free woman,' free from what she called the 'convent of The New York Times, a convent with its own theology and its own catechism.'
theology...catechism = journalistic integrity, which she was lacking.
She said that in the few hours since her departure had been made public, she had received several offers 'of all kinds' for future employment, which she declined to specify.
Awww, c'mon, Judy! Give us some details, or were they unfit for public consumption?

Abramoff Set Up Prez Meeting For Bongo

Lobbyist Sought $9 Million to Set Bush Meeting - New York Times:
WASHINGTON, Nov. 9 - The lobbyist Jack Abramoff asked for $9 million in 2003 from the president of a West African nation to arrange a meeting with President Bush and directed his fees to a Maryland company now under federal scrutiny, according to newly disclosed documents.

The African leader, President Omar Bongo of Gabon, met with President Bush in the Oval Office on May 26, 2004, 10 months after Mr. Abramoff made the offer. There has been no evidence in the public record that Mr. Abramoff had any role in organizing the meeting or that he received any money or had a signed contract with Gabon.

White House and State Department officials described Mr. Bush's meeting with President Bongo, whose government is regularly accused by the United States of human rights abuses, as routine. The officials said they knew of no involvement by Mr. Abramoff in the arrangements. Officials at Gabon's embassy in Washington did not respond to written questions.

"They left me to die."

My Way News:
ORANGE, Calif. (AP) - More than 30 patients died waiting for liver transplants while the understaffed University of California Irvine Medical Center turned down organs, a published report said.

The hospital received 122 liver offers between August 2004 and July 2005 but transplanted just 12, the Los Angeles Times said, citing a report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services obtained through Freedom of Information laws.

Though failing to meet federal standards, including the minimum annual transplants since 2002, the hospital maintained its accreditation from the United Network for Organ Sharing, the newspaper said.

The hospital has not had a full-time liver transplant surgeon since July 2004, despite federal standards that require one to be constantly available.


The federal review was sparked by a complaint by a former patient, Elodie Irvine, who developed large cysts on her liver and kidneys.

The hospital turned down 38 livers and 57 kidneys offered for her between 1998 to 2002, according to a log from the United Network for Organ Sharing. Offers stopped coming in 2002, because the hospital did not submit required information to the national group that oversees transplants.

"They led me to believe that there were no offers," said Irvine, 51. "They left me to die."
This is just too macabre to even fathom. Health care in this country has gone beyond strained to just plain ugly. This is what we all have to look forward to?

It Just Gets Better

House Drops Arctic Drilling From Bill - Yahoo! News:
WASHINGTON - A solid phalanx of Republican moderates drove House GOP leaders to drop a hotly contested plan to open an Alaskan wilderness area to oil drilling as a sweeping budget bill headed toward a vote Thursday.

A plan to allow states to lift a moratorium on oil drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts was also axed.
Good to know that moderate Reps still exist in Congress. I thought they were all gagged and tagged a long time ago.

Well Done!

Maine voters reject gay rights repeal - Yahoo! News:
Voters in Maine solidly rejected Christian conservatives' efforts to repeal the state's new gay- and transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination law.

In the past, conservatives were successful in knocking the law off the books with a people's veto in 1998 and in 2000. But this time the law stayed with solid support. With 86 percent of precincts reporting in, 55 percent of people voted to keep the law, with 45 percent against it.

The governor suggested the election outcome was a sign that Maine is a welcoming place for everyone.


The vote "reaffirms the basic values that are intrinsic in Maine," said Gov. John Baldacci. "Mainers don't like discrimination ... if it happens to one person it happens to all of us."
Hooray for Maine. The down-easters have the guts to vote their conscience instead of knuckling under to peer pressure and homophobic intimidation. The record shows that a state can grow more tolerant and enlightened over time, a good sign for us all. Now if only the south would rise to the occasion, we might have true equality for all someday.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Coffee drinking not linked with high blood pressure, hypertension

Coffee drinking not linked with high blood pressure, hypertension:
"In contrast to the previous findings, habitual coffee drinking is not associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) in women. Rather, coffee drinking is linked with a slightly lower risk of hypertension, according to a study appearing in the Nov. 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. "

Wow, and whew! Can life get any better?

Robert Scheer: Who's the Girlie Man Now?

Robert Scheer: Who's the Girlie Man Now? - Yahoo! News:
"Schwarzenegger was defeated primarily by the hardworking public sector workers of the state: the teachers, firefighters and other civil servants who are sick and tired of being pitted by politicians against those they are so dedicated to serving. “We’re the mighty, mighty nurses' the joyous healers chanted in a victory conga line the night they brought the bully down."

May the force be with us in 2006!

WTO Having Its Problems As Well

BBC NEWS | Business | Global trade hopes 'scaled back':
"'If there is not a good deal on the table for developing countries then it is better for there to be no deal at all,' said Peter Hardstaff of the World Development Movement. "
Are the people rising up and being heard? Hey, didn't Jupiter align with Mars recently? It seems like the powerful are feeling the heat just a bit these days. Yahoo!

Bush Not The Only One Taking The Hit

Blair's defeat could hasten his departure:
'There is a seeping sense in Westminster that we are on the brink of some extraordinary change', said the BBC's political correspondent, Nick Robinson.

Observers noted that Blair, in his attempt to justify the extreme legal measure, pointed to the 'real and serious threat' from terrorism Britain was facing.

He had used exactly the same words in 2003 to describe the danger to Britain from Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction, they remarked.

Blair, commentators said, had clearly misjudged the gulf that had opened up in the Labour party over the war, coupled with a perceived arrogance he displayed in brushing aside his critics.
Poor Tony. Looks like the world may be waking up in general. Let's hope so.

Miller resigns from New York Times

Miller resigns from New York Times:
"But Miller was able to wrest several concessions from the Times, including a letter to be published Thursday about her reasons for leaving."

Can't wait to read that one. Bwah-ha-ha!

More Good News > News > Politics -- Elections raise GOP worries about Bush, values, exurbs:
WASHINGTON – This week's elections underscore three trends – all of them worrisome to Republicans.

President Bush's political ills seem contagious. Democrats can win values voters. Republicans have no monopoly on the nation's fast-growing suburbs.


Republicans were especially alarmed at the defeat of gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore in Virginia after Bush personally endorsed him Monday. Polls showed the race tight before the president's visit. Democratic Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine won by about 6 percentage points.
The article went on to say it was not all Bush's fault:
Privately, the president's advisers criticized Kilgore for focusing on Kaine's policies – calling them liberal – rather than the Democrat's character. They said Kilgore should have called his rival a flip-flopping opportunist, as they did in Bush's races against John Kerry and Al Gore.
They just forgot to run a dirty, lowdown, personalizing campaign. Shame on them!

The Consequences of Covering Up

The Consequences of Covering Up:
Without the basic fact of where these prisons are, it's difficult if not impossible for 'legal challenges' or 'political condemnation' to force them to close. As the Post notes, there has been 'widespread prisoner abuse' in U.S. military prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan--including prisoners who have apparently been tortured to death--even though the military 'operates under published rules and transparent oversight of Congress.' Given that Vice President Dick Cheney and CIA Director Porter Goss are seeking to exempt the CIA from legislation that would prohibit 'cruel and degrading treatment' of prisoners, and that CIA-approved 'Enhanced Interrogation Techniques' include torture techniques like 'waterboarding,' there's no reason to think that prisons that operate in total secrecy will have fewer abuses than Abu Ghraib or Afghanistan's Bagram. Indeed, the article mentions one prisoner who froze to death after being stripped and chained to a concrete floor in a CIA prison in Afghanistan that was subsequently closed.

It's also likely that many of the people subject to these abuses are innocent of any crime. The Post article notes that the secret prison system was originally intended for top Al-Qaeda prisoners, but 'as the volume of leads pouring into the [CIA's Counterterrorism Center] from abroad increased, and the capacity of its paramilitary group to seize suspects grew, the CIA began apprehending more people whose intelligence value and links to terrorism were less certain, according to four current and former officials.' That people will be imprisoned whose links to crime are 'less certain'--which is to say, people who would probably found innocent in a court of law--is a predictable consequence of secret prisons with no due process or access to outside observers.

EFF: Online Policy Group v. Diebold, Inc.

EFF: Online Policy Group v. Diebold, Inc.:
Diebold, Inc., manufacturer of electronic voting machines, has been sending out many cease-and-desist letters to Internet Service Providers (ISPs), after internal documents indicating flaws in their systems were published on the Internet. The company cited copyright violations under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and demanded that the documents be taken down.

Now EFF and the Center for Internet and Society Cyberlaw Clinic at Stanford Law School are fighting back, seeking a court order on behalf of nonprofit ISP Online Policy Group (OPG) and two Swarthmore College students to prevent Diebold’s abusive copyright claims from silencing public debate about voting, the very foundation of our democratic process.

“Diebold’s blanket cease-and-desist notices are a blatant abuse of copyright law,” said EFF Staff Attorney Wendy Seltzer. “Publication of the Diebold documents is clear fair use because of their direct relevance to the debate over the accuracy of electronic voting machines.”

The documents include email messages written by Diebold employees describing security flaws in the systems, as well as email discussions about how to resolve, or in some cases, obfuscate those problems.
Maybe that's where the senate Reps learned how to punish the whistleblower instead of the perpetrators.

Expected, And Sad

My Way News:
HOUSTON (Reuters) - Texans voted overwhelmingly to add a prohibition of same-sex marriage to their constitution on Tuesday, becoming the 19th U.S. state to do so.

With about 550,000 votes counted, Proposition 2 was heading for ratification with 75.5 percent in favor.

The outcome was expected even by opponents and continued a backlash to the movement for same-sex marriage that seemed to gain momentum when a Massachusetts court legalized gay unions in 2004.

Hark, I Hear The Elephants Whine

My Way News:
Within minutes of each other, White House spokesman Scott McClellan, counsel to the vice president Steve Schmidt and the Republican National Committee all issued responses bashing Reid.

McClellan decried Reid's 'rants' as 'unbecoming of a leader of any party,' and said Americans would question 'whether Democrats are more concerned about the peoples' priorities or scoring political points at the expense of a dedicated public servant.'

Schmidt called Reid's comments 'unconscionable personal attacks and malicious,' adding: 'These are beneath the office of the Democratic leader.'

Brian Jones, the RNC's communications director, said Reid's comments were 'vicious' and accused him of spinning a 'far-flung conspiracy theory.'

Jim Manley, Reid's spokesman, brushed aside the criticism, saying 'the attack dogs on the right are just trying to personalize this debate.'

Libby's indictment in the CIA leak probe has put a spotlight on Cheney's role and how his office made the case for the Iraq war.

According to the indictment, Libby learned from Cheney on June 12, 2003, that Wilson's wife worked in the counterproliferation division of the CIA. Cheney himself could be summoned to testify at an eventual trial."

The Dems may be scoring points, and it's about time! Treason and perjury require justice, and this is just the beginning.

Inquiry to Seek Cause of Levee Failure - New York Times

Inquiry to Seek Cause of Levee Failure - New York Times:
Attorney General Charles C. Foti Jr. said in an interview that his review could lead to a civil suit to prove that levee design or construction errors caused the flood damage.

A favorable ruling in such a lawsuit could make it easier for those with heavy losses to collect damages from engineering firms and construction companies found negligent in the construction of the levee

Yes, Yessss!!!

CBS News | Pa. Voters Have Different 'Design' | November 9, 2005 11:00:06:
"(CBS/AP) Voters came down hard Tuesday on Dover, Pa., school board members who ordered a statement on intelligent design read in biology class, ousting eight Republicans and replacing them with Democrats who want the concept stripped from the science curriculum. "


My Way News:
"Democrats cleaned up big in off-year elections from New Jersey to California, sinking the candidate who embraced President Bush in the final days of the Virginia governor's campaign. They also turned back all four of GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's efforts to reshape state government."

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Condi Doesn't Deny Secret Prisons

My Way News:
The allegations about secret prisons prompted denials from governments in the former Soviet bloc. Such prisons, European officials say, would violate the continent's human rights principles.

While not confirming the existence of secret prisons, Rice told reporters, 'We, our allies, others who have experienced attacks, have to find a way to protect our people.'
She bends over backwards to avoid any obvious lie since she can't deny later that she knew of the prisons, so she spins the "ends justify the means" excuse instead. Nice try, Ms. Rice. See you at the trials.

Daily Kos: Trent Lott says GOP Senator guilty of leaking story re: secret torture prisons

Daily Kos: Trent Lott says GOP Senator guilty of leaking story re: secret torture prisons:
Money quote from Lott; 'We can not remain silent. We have met the enemy, and it is us.'

All just reported on CNN. We are, folks, witnessing the full-on implosion of the national Republican Party. And not a second too soon.

Let's Fire Up The Wayback Machine, Mr. Peabody!

CBS News | 'Intelligent Design' Wins In Kan. | November 8, 2005 18:00:05:
In 1999, the Kansas board adopted science standards that eliminated most references to evolution.

Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould said that was akin to teaching 'American history without Lincoln.' Bill Nye, the 'Science Guy' of children's television, called it 'harebrained' and 'nutty.' And a Washington Post columnist imagined God saying to the Kansas board members: 'Man, I gave you a brain. Use it, OK?'

Two years later, after voters replaced three members, the board reverted to evolution-friendly standards. Elections in 2002 and 2004 changed the board's composition again, making it more conservative.
Even the Science Guy weighs in on the case. Wonder what the supremes will make of it.

Just For The Record

Abramoff-Reed Indian Gambling Scandal - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
The Abramoff-Reed Indian Gambling Scandal (a.k.a. the 'InGam Scam') is a U.S. political scandal involving the work done by political lobbyists Jack Abramoff, Ralph E. Reed, Jr., Grover Norquist and Michael Scanlon on behalf of Indian casino gambling interests. The lobbyists are accused of orchestrating lobbying against their own clients in order to force them to pay for lobbying services.

In the course of the scheme, the lobbyists are accused of illegally giving gifts and making campaign donations in return for political favors to several senior Republican politicians, in particular Tom DeLay, Conrad Burns and Bob Ney.

In addition to his involvement in the Indian Gambling scandal, Abramoff is under investigation by a grand jury in Guam over possibly illegal contract payments and money laundering and was indicted on August 11, 2005 by a third grand jury in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for a $23 million bank fraud arising out of the purchase of the SunCruz casino boat company. Abramoff is also a 'person of interest' in the murder investigation of Konstantinos Boulis, the original owner of SunCruz.

A Different Kind Of Leak Investigation

Said one Hill source: “Talk about a leak that damaged national security! How will we ever get our allies to cooperate if they fear that their people will be targeted by al Qaeda.”

According to sources, the WASHINGTON POST story by Dana Priest (Wednesday November 2), revealed highly classified information that has already done significant damage to US efforts in the War on Terror.
In other words, the sites exist and now it will be more difficult to find countries willing to host them. It doesn't matter that the practice is dispicable and illegal, just that the information being published has impacted the U.S.'s ability to continue. Sheesh!

Regime Change, Part Deux?

U.S. severs most contacts with Syria, officials say / Washington debate reported over idea of 'regime change':
"Some U.S. officials say privately that there is now an active debate about whether 'regime change' should be a U.S. goal. Publicly, administration officials say that they want to see a change in behavior."

Isn't severing diplomatic ties the first step toward war?

"What we see in general is an administration that is categorically refusing to engage with Syria on any level," Moustapha said. "We see an administration that would really love to see another crisis in the Middle East, this time targeting Syria. ... Even before the Iraq war started, they had this grand vision for the Middle East."

Surely he's not suggesting the administration has a secret agenda? Shocking!

Former Serb Red Berets in Iraq

United Press International - Security & Terrorism - Former Serb Red Berets in Iraq:
In March 2003 the Serbian government disbanded the Red Berets after occupying their headquarters in Vojvodina province. The Red Berets were former President Slobodan Milosevic's Ministry of the Interior elite troops.

The Serbians are providing security for oil fields, government offices and foreign companies. They guard German and English engineers working in Iraq, according Vecernje Novosti.

The Serbians join an increasing number of foreign former military personnel supplementing coalition forces in Iraq. Some media estimates put the number of private security personnel as high as 40,000."
Because, you know, they were so good at their jobs in Serbia.

Still Under Investigation

The Raw Story | Prosecutor in leak case keeps focus on Rove, trying to determine if he made false statements, attorneys say:
According to the attorneys close to the case, the chips are still stacked against Rove, unless he decides to cut a deal before the probe wraps up. Fitzgerald is also investigating whether Rove withheld another important element from investigators during that very first interview on Oct. 8, 2003, and from the grand jury during the three times he testified: that he'd had a conversation with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper—on background—about Plame-Wilson just three months earlier.

It would be nearly a year after Rove was questioned by the FBI in October 2003 that his attorney, Robert Luskin, contacted Fitzgerald to say that Rove had recalled the conversation he'd had with Cooper about Plame-Wilson and her husband, Joseph. It was only after Cooper had been forced to testify about his conversation with Rove this past summer that Rove recalled the interview, even though the conversation had taken place just three months before the October 2003 interview with the FBI.
Fitzgerald is a very careful, very dedicated prosecutor. Stay tuned for Fitzmas II.

Senators say Alito respects Roe decision

AP Wire | 11/08/2005 | Senators say Alito respects Roe decision:
WASHINGTON - Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito said the court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision deserves 'great respect' but did not commit to upholding it in the future, senators said Tuesday.
I respect the hell out of you, baby! Now can I screw with you?

Wired News: FBI Pushing Patriot Act Powers

Wired News: FBI Pushing Patriot Act Powers:
"Issued by the FBI without review by a judge, the letters are used to obtain electronic records from 'electronic communications service providers.' Such providers include internet service companies but also universities, public interest organizations and almost all libraries, because most provide access to the internet."

O, Big Brother!

Fox News Biased?

Fox News Is Accused in Bias Suit - New York Times:
"The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a federal lawsuit yesterday against the Fox News network, claiming it harassed and discriminated against its female employees, creating a 'hostile work environment because of their sex.'"

They're biased, all right, in more ways than one it seems.

Texas Judicial System: A Model For Corruption

DeLay Case Turns Spotlight on Texas Judicial System - New York Times:
With prosecution and defense objecting to a string of judges, the DeLay case has produced a conundrum: can a partisan Republican defendant appear to get a fair trial from a partisan Democratic judge, as revealed by the political contributions the judge made? Traditionally, the focus has been on the money the judges received.

'Judges in Texas swing the gavel with one hand and take money with the other,' said Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice, a nonpartisan group that tracks the influence of money and corporate power in the state.

Mr. McDonald called the campaign gifts to the judges legal yet highly suspect, and traced the ballooning costs of judicial races to the assault on Democratic power in Texas by the presidential adviser Karl Rove.


In 1998, Texas for Public Justice issued its own report, finding that the seven Texas Supreme Court justices elected since 1994 had raised $9.2 million, of which 40 percent came from interests with cases before the court. A survey taken for the court itself, the group said, found that nearly half of the judges themselves thought that campaign contributions significantly affected their decisions.

They Burn Civilians, Don't They?

My Way News:
ROME (Reuters) - U.S. forces in Iraq have used incendiary white phosphorus against civilians and a firebomb similar to napalm against military targets, Italian state-run broadcaster RAI reported on Tuesday.

A RAI documentary showed images of bodies recovered after a November 2004 offensive by U.S. troops on the town of Falluja, which it said proved the use of white phosphorus against men, women and children who were burned to the bone.

'I do know that white phosphorus was used,' said Jeff Englehart in the RAI documentary, which identified him as a former soldier in the U.S. 1st Infantry Division in Iraq.

The U.S. military says white phosphorus is a conventional weapon and says it does not use any chemical arms.


An incendiary device, white phosphorus is used by the military to conceal troop movements with smoke, mark targets or light up combat areas. The use of incendiary weapons against civilians has been banned by the Geneva Convention since 1980.

The United States did not sign the relevant protocol to the convention, a U.N. official in New York said.
Once again, our side hides behind subterfuge and technicality, while innocent people die. We are so going to regret this war!

11/7/2005 Statement by Congressman George Miller Regarding Ahmad Chalabi

11/7/2005 Statement by Congressman George Miller Regarding Ahmad Chalabi:
Many Americans remember Mr. Chalabi as a man who convinced Vice President Cheney that the United States would be greeted as a great liberator in Iraq. Some have even said it was Mr. Chalabi who promoted the false story about Iraq's attempted purchase of nuclear material in Niger. Chalabi fed false stories about Iraq's weapons capabilities to New York Times reporter Judith Miller, a story that the Times was later forced to publicly discount.

Mr. Chalabi, who supplied information to the White House Iraq working group, a mysterious cabal, as Colin Powell's former chief of staff recently said, that hijacked U.S. foreign policy and hyped the case for war in Iraq. The bottom line is that Mr. Chalabi played a central role in the orchestrated deception leading to the invasion of Iraq.

After the administration discovered that Mr. Chalabi provided false intelligence, instead of investigating, the Department of Defense attempted to prop Mr. Chalabi up as a candidate of choice in the post-war Iraq.

Keep in mind what Mr. Chalabi did next. He was suspected of leaking classified information about U.S. intelligence capabilities to Iran. He was suspected of telling the Iranians that we had broken the code by which we were learning information about their activities.
The statement goes on to quote the Wall Street Journal:
The handling of the Chalabi investigation so far stands in contrast to the aggressive inquiry conducted by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald into the leaking of intelligence agent Valerie Plame's name, which led to the indictment of I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff.

Questions about the progress of the Chalabi investigation also follow the FBI's disclosure last week that it had closed an investigation into forged documents purporting to show Iraq had sought uranium ore from Niger. The Niger claim set off an intense intelligence debate, which was at the center of the leaking of the intelligence agent's identity.

Whitley Bruner, a former longtime undercover Central Intelligence Agency official in the Middle East who has followed Mr. Chalabi's career closely since 1991, said that, in contrast to Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation, the Chalabi leak inquiry ``just sort of disappeared.''
If I were a suspicious kind of person, I might take this information about the FBI and Rice as evidence of collusion between Chalabi and the administration. I might indeed.

Monday, November 07, 2005

More Robbing From Poor And Giving To Rich

My Way News:
"A budget debate to change federal programs for the poor comes as Republicans in Congress are beginning to move tax-cut legislation that might include renewed breaks for the rich. The juxtaposition puts more than a dozen moderate House Republicans in a difficult spot."

Yeah. It's tough to be too obvious about your real position. People might get the right idea.

Dems Get Tough By Going Bi-partisan?

My Way News:
"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats on Monday demanded that the Senate interview key government officials and exercise subpoena power while examining how the Bush administration used prewar Iraq intelligence in the run-up to the 2003 invasion.

As a bipartisan task force prepared for a week-long series of meetings on the intelligence question, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said the administration should be prepared to turn over important documents to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

'Now that the Republicans have agreed to conduct an investigation, the next step is making sure the right questions are answered,' said the Nevada Democrat.

But Republicans accuse their Democratic adversaries of using the Iraq war for political gain by suggesting that President George W. Bush and other administration officials may have misused intelligence to make their case for war."
Using the administration's treachery for political gain? Okay, if that's the way you want it.

If the Republicans want to decriminalize politics, they should stop commiting crimes while in office. Otherwise, they should be prepared for the consequences.

Kerry Thinks '04 Election Stolen (He's Not The Only One)
...Winer said the “disquieting stuff” that troubled Kerry included reports that touch-screen systems had malfunctioned in such a way that voters who tried to vote for Kerry saw their votes switched to Bush. Kerry also was upset with reports that Ohio’s Republican election officials shorted Democratic strongholds on voting machines, Winer said.

In some Democratic precincts, there were complaints that voters waited in line for hours or gave up and went home, while in heavily Republican precincts, there were plenty of voting machines and lines were relatively short.

Democratic activists also cited the disparity between exit polls, which showed Kerry winning by about 3 percentage points nationwide and carrying key swing states, and the official count, which flipped the results giving Bush wins in most swing states and a national popular vote margin of about 3 percent.


Adding to Kerry’s suspicions, Winer said, was the memory of Election 2000 in which Al Gore defeated Bush in the popular vote by more than 500,000 ballots but lost when Bush got five Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court to stop a recount of votes in Florida.


On “Democracy Now,” Miller said Kerry bent to the will of his campaign advisers to concede, even though his vice presidential running mate, John Edwards, favored holding out until more information was in.

Based on reporting for Fooled Again, Miller said Kerry told Edwards in a phone call that Shrum and other advisers insisted that a concession was the best course. “They say that if I don’t pull out, they (Kerry’s political opponents) are going to call us sore losers,” Miller said, recounting the substance of Kerry’s phone call to Edwards.

Miller said Edwards responded, “So what if they call us sore losers?” But Kerry pressed ahead with his decision to concede.


Winer, who is now a private attorney with a specialty in information security, said it’s conceivable that electronic balloting was hacked in Election 2004 but that – without a credible witness confessing – there is little hope to prove it.

“There are systems for one-time use that erase themselves afterwards,” Winer said. “You’d have to have a confession and anyone who would confess would look psychotic.”

Kerry, too, appears to have weighed how he would look if he made accusations about possible hi-tech hijinks affecting the outcome of a presidential election. Pundits surely would have put him on the couch as a delusional conspiracy theorist.

But Kerry’s decision not to fight has left millions of Americans wondering if their democratic birthright has been stolen – along with the last two presidential elections.
All the calls for verifiable election counts went unheeded. Looks like we're all paying for that now. (Thanks to Jonathan Schwarz for the headsup.)

No Decision = Win

My Way News:
"WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court refused Monday to consider shielding employers from discrimination lawsuits by transsexuals, dodging a workplace rights fight.

The court's refusal to intervene leaves in place a victory for Cincinnati Officer Philecia Barnes, who was born Phillip Barnes.

A federal appeals court upheld a jury's finding that Barnes was a victim of discrimination, under a federal civil rights law. The city had been ordered to pay the officer $320,000, and pay another $550,000 in attorney fees."
SCOTUS may have dodged a bullet here, but the result is a win for personal freedom.

It Won't Be Pretty

My Way News:
"GENEVA (AP) - The magnitude of suffering caused by the next human flu pandemic will be 'incalculable' if the world is unprepared, the chief of the U.N. health agency said Monday as he urged countries to draw up plans for preparations.

At the first major international coordination meeting on bird flu, a senior World Bank economist said that if the financial fallout of the SARS outbreak two years ago is any indication, a flu pandemic could cause world gross domestic product to drop by 2 percent or more. That would amount to about $800 billion in losses over the course of a year, said Milan Brahmbhatt."
Here and there I get reports that people are panicing for no reason about this bird flu; that it won't be as bad as expected. That's good, since what's expected is a whole lot worse than anything we've ever lived through. Or not.

Bush Insults Americans' Intelligence

My Way News:
"PANAMA CITY, Panama (AP) - President Bush vigorously defended U.S. interrogation practices in the war on terror Monday and lobbied against a congressional drive to outlaw torture.

'There's an enemy that lurks and plots and plans and wants to hurt America again,' Bush said. 'So you bet we will aggressively pursue them but we will do so under the law.'

He declared, 'We do not torture.'

Over White House opposition, the Senate has passed legislation banning torture. With Vice President Dick Cheney as the point man, the administration is seeking an exemption for the CIA. It was recently reported that the spy agency maintains a network of prisons in eastern Europe and Asia, where it holds terrorist suspects."
Now, really, if we don't use torture, why do you need an exemption for the CIA, and why not pass a law against it?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

And Lest We Forget

New scandals help lower Cunningham's damaged profile North County Times - North San Diego and Southwest Riverside County News:
"The spokeswoman for another Washington watchdog group, Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, said that while Cunningham may be out of the spotlight, her group still considers him 'one of the most corrupt members of Congress.'

'He certainly remains the focus of the U.S. attorney's office out there and ultimately that is what matters,' said spokeswoman Naomi Seligman. 'The fact that Congress refuses to police itself through its ethics committee and take its own action against him is outrageous but we fully expect he will be indicted.'"


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