Saturday, November 19, 2005

Your Government At Work (Big Brother Over-protects Little Sisters)

Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report Summarizes Opinion Pieces Discussing Plan B Emergency Contraceptive, USA:
"A Government Accountability Office report released on Monday found many 'unusual' aspects regarding FDA's 2004 rejection of Barr Laborartories' application to allow nonprescription sales of the emergency contraceptive Plan B, including atypical involvement of senior staff and a 'novel' rationale for rejection of the application. FDA in May 2004 issued a 'not approvable' letter in response to the application, citing inadequate data on Plan B use among girls under age 16. The decision contradicted the recommendations of two FDA advisory panels, which in December 2003 voted 23-4 to recommend that Plan B be sold without a prescription. In addition, the letter was signed only by Steven Galson, then acting director of FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, and not by members of the FDA review team, as is routine. Galson later acknowledged that he made the decision to reject the application on his own and did not follow the recommendations of his staff. According to the report, high-level officials at FDA told some staff members as early as January 2004 that the agency would reject the application even though the scientific review was not completed until April 2004 (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 11/15)."

BB sticks his nose where it doesn't belong. Welcome to the new millennium, where some bureaucrate in Washington makes biological decisions for you so you don't have to. Because, after all, you wouldn't want to miss out on the regret of a moment's weakness (or the result of an uninvited attack).

Friday, November 18, 2005

A New Record For Atlantic Storms

CBS News | Tropical Storm Gamma Forms | November 18, 2005 19:30:05


Vatican Official Refutes Intelligent Design - Yahoo! News:
The Rev. George Coyne, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, said placing intelligent design theory alongside that of evolution in school programs was 'wrong' and was akin to mixing apples with oranges.

'Intelligent design isn't science even though it pretends to be,' the ANSA news agency quoted Coyne as saying on the sidelines of a conference in Florence. 'If you want to teach it in schools, intelligent design should be taught when religion or cultural history is taught, not science.'

Color My Blog

Your Blog Should Be Red

Your blog is full of intensity and passion.
You are very opinionated - and people love or hate you for it.
You have the potential to be both a famous and infamous blogger.

Hmmmmm. Thanks to Body and Soul for the idea an link. Not what I was expecting, but I hope it's right. Iraqi guards seen as death squads Iraqi guards seen as death squads: (thanks to Body and Soul
BAGHDAD -- Among the varied armed security men on Baghdad's streets these days, you can't miss the police commandos. In combat uniforms, bulletproof vests and wrap-around sunglasses or ski masks, they muscle through Baghdad's traffic jams in police cars or camouflage-painted pickup trucks, clearing nervous drivers from their path with shouted commands and the occasional gunshot in the air.

The commandos are part of the Iraqi security forces that the Bush administration says will gradually replace American troops in this war. But the commandos are being blamed for a wave of kidnappings and executions around Baghdad since the spring.


For three hours, the raiders burst into Sunni homes, handcuffed dozens of men and loaded them into vans. They ended the assault and drove out of the neighborhood just before the dawn call to prayer, which would bring men into the streets, walking to the local mosques, Abu Yusuf said.

Two days later and 90 miles away, residents of the desert town of Badrah, near the Iranian border, found the bodies of 36 of the men in a gully, their hands still bound and their skulls shattered by bullets. Two were the cousins who had phoned him the warning, Abu Yusuf said.
This is what we are accomplishing in Iraq?! Shame on all of us. Shame!

I wondered when the British had to rescue their own from one of these jails what was driving the Brits to use such force. At the time, I suspected that they knew what was in store for them. The stories at the time never got into the real details behind the action, only that it happened. Now we know.

Let Them Be Sick And Stupid -- NOT

In Loss for G.O.P., House Rejects Spending Plan - New York Times:
In rebelling against the spending measure, Democrats and some Republicans said it fell woefully short of fulfilling federal commitments.

They pointed, for example, to $900 million in health care cuts that took a toll on the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and on rural health care. They opposed the elimination of $8 billion to prepare for a potential flu pandemic. And they pointed to a provision that would strip money from a variety of popular education programs and leave Pell Grants to college students frozen, as part of the first reduction in education spending in a decade.
This is the problem with trying to get Conservatives to prepare for disasters; until they happen, there is always the chance they won't, so why spend the money to prepare? Until the odds are irresistably compelling, budgets will always be too tight to do what's needed. It all goes under the heading of "acceptable losses." Our personal welfare is not a priority, as long as the system, and the constituency, is preserved.

Scrooge Recants At FEMA

My Way News

The Race Is On

Post Editor Foresees Possibility of Naming Leak Source - New York Times:
"While a decision on whether to print the identity would depend on a number of factors, Mr. Downie said, 'if the information is found independent of our source relationship, sure we'll print it.'"

Finally Getting Serious At The Pentagon?

My Way News:
"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon's inspector general has agreed to review the prewar intelligence activities of former U.S. defense undersecretary Douglas Feith, a main architect of the Iraq war, congressional officials said on Thursday."

Woody Opens New Hole In White House

My Way News:
After Fitzgerald was tipped by Woodward's source that they had discussed Plame in June 2003, Woodward met with the prosecutor and on Monday recounted their conversation. His account, but not the source's name, was reported in Tuesday editions of the Washington Post, renewing speculation about who leaked Plame's name and how high in the administration his source resides.

'The Libby case was always going to cause heartburn for the White House,' said Washington defense lawyer E. Lawrence Barcella Jr., a former federal prosecutor. 'But not like this.'


Also on Thursday, 16 former intelligence officers released a letter they wrote to Bush early in the week asking for a pledge to not pardon anyone involved in the leak and to pull security clearances of anyone at the White House who spoke to reporters about the CIA status of Wilson's wife.

One of the letter's authors, former CIA analyst Larry Johnson, said the pledge on security clearances 'definitely ... would apply to Woodward's source.'

Johnson noted that Bush ordered everyone in the administration to cooperate with Fitzgerald nearly two years ago. 'Clearly, there's someone at a senior level who hasn't fully cooperated,' he said.

What The Hell!? The Man Who Sold the War : Politics:
As the war in Iraq has spiraled out of control, the Bush administration's covert propaganda campaign has intensified. According to a secret Pentagon report personally approved by Rumsfeld in October 2003 and obtained by Rolling Stone, the Strategic Command is authorized to engage in 'military deception' -- defined as 'presenting false information, images or statements.' The seventy-four-page document, titled 'Information Operations Roadmap,' also calls for psychological operations to be launched over radio, television, cell phones and 'emerging technologies' such as the Internet. In addition to being classified secret, the road map is also stamped noforn, meaning it cannot be shared even with our allies.

As the acknowledged general of such propaganda warfare, Rendon insists that the work he does is for the good of all Americans. 'For us, it's a question of patriotism,' he says. 'It's not a question of politics, and that's an important distinction. I feel very strongly about that personally. If brave men and women are going to be put in harm's way, they deserve support.' But in Iraq, American troops and Iraqi civilians were put in harm's way, in large part, by the false information spread by Rendon and the men he trained in information warfare. And given the rapid growth of what is known as the 'security-intelligence complex' in Washington, covert perception managers are likely to play an increasingly influential role in the wars of the future.

Indeed, Rendon is already thinking ahead. Last year, he attended a conference on information operations in London, where he offered an assessment on the Pentagon's efforts to manipulate the media. According to those present, Rendon applauded the practice of embedding journalists with American forces. 'He said the embedded idea was great,' says an Air Force colonel who attended the talk. 'It worked as they had found in the test. It was the war version of reality television, and for the most part they did not lose control of the story.' But Rendon also cautioned that individual news organizations were often able to 'take control of the story,' shaping the news before the Pentagon asserted its spin on the day's events.

'We lost control of the context,' Rendon warned. 'That has to be fixed for the next war.'
Are you kidding me?! This guy should be tried for mass murder and treason! The people who pay him should be tried for insurrection. Rumsfeld should be tried for crimes against humanity.

The Good Murtha

My Way News:
WASHINGTON (AP) - Raising the temperature in Congress over U.S. policy in Iraq, a pro-military Democrat who once voted to back the war now says it is time to bring the troops home.

'Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency,' Rep. John Murtha said Thursday. 'They are united against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence. The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion.'


With a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, Murtha retired from the Marine Corps reserves as a colonel in 1990 after 37 years as a Marine, only a few years longer than he's been in Congress. Elected in 1974, Murtha has become known as an authority on national security whose advice was sought out by Republican and Democratic administrations alike.

Murtha's shift from an early war backer to a critic advocating withdrawal reflects plummeting public support for a war that has cost more than $200 billion and led to the deaths of more than 2,000 U.S. troops.
This was covered all last night in the MSM and provided tons of glee, though it was hard to watch some of the Dems try to disagree gracefully. That includes John Kerry, who once again failed to clarify his position. He said he "respectfully" disagreed with Murtha's position. I assume he meant the part about immediate withdrawal, but this has become another tar pit that the Bushies love to catch the opposition with. Other generals, who were quickly hushed and retired, have said the same thing that Murtha said, that there is no military solution, that the soldiers have done what they came to do, that political and social and economic policies and effort are the required avenues of response now. Keeping our troops in Iraq merely provides the insurgents with targets of opportunity and breeds more contempt among the civilian population.

Now that the advertised reasons for the invasion are being proven false, more and more of the people here and there are beginning to suspect (or confirm) that the real reasons for the war were to win control over valuable resources and to establish a permanent base of operations in the heart of the Middle East. These may seem like reasonable motives to the neo-Cons, but they represent the ambitions of an aggressive and beligerent power bordering on the imperial (think Germany taking Poland in the 1930's). No wonder most of "old" Europe reacted with abhorrence and even fearful concern.

Morally, we have no business being in Iraq. When the military leaders proclaim victory or defeat, it's over. Either way, it's time to get out. We should have/could have done so last year and looked like the liberators we pretended to be, saving thousands of lives and pre-empting the growth of the insurgency in the process. No one has come up with a strategy of success in Iraq as it stands today, so Murtha makes the point that we should just leave now. Why prolong the agony and give the insurgency more opportunity? Will it save any face to leave later after declaring a "victory" that nobody will believe anyway?

It was interesting to watch both sides try to spin this one. The Dems couldn't decide whether to jump on or dive for the gutters. The Reps know what they want to say, but it's not easy after they've been on record praising Murtha for his contributions in the past. He's got cred when it comes to all things military. Attacking him now only makes them look even more like the lying sacks of manure they are. Watch for the swift boat militia to be let loose on the poor Murtha as soon as the ads can be shot and distributed.

Thursday, November 17, 2005 - Bush's Approval Rating Falls Again, Poll Shows - Bush's Approval Rating Falls Again, Poll Shows:
"Bush's current job approval rating stands at 34%, compared with a positive rating of 88% soon after 9/11, 50% at this time last year, and 40% in August."

MyDD :: Democratic Independence Grows

MyDD :: Democratic Independence Grows

Is Woody Lying, Too?

AMERICAblog: Because a great nation deserves the truth

You gotta wonder what the hell is going on in Treasonville. Bob was very chummy with the WHIG in the run-up to the war. Are they calling in some chips now to muddy the waters? Or is Woodward just blowing smoke to try to keep his own ass out of the fire? Another Fitzmas in December, anyone?

Is That A Lighter In Your Pocket?

My Way News:
When Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., asked last week during a hearing on oil industry profits whether any of the companies' representatives had participated in the task force, four of the executives said they did not and the fifth said he did not know.

The Washington Post, citing White House documents, reported Wednesday that representatives from four of the companies had visited the White House complex and met with Cheney task force officials in early 2001.

Domenici, chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said he sent a letter to the oil company executives seeking clarifications that would resolve any 'apparent inconsistencies' in their testimony. He was joined in the letter by Bingaman, the energy panel's ranking Democrat.

Earlier, Lautenberg asked the Justice Department to investigate whether the executives might be guilty of giving false statements to Congress.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and five other Democrats asked Domenici to recall the executives and require them to testify under oath this time.

The executives who testified last week on oil industry profits were Lee Raymond, chairman of Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM); David O'Reilly, chairman of Chevron Corp. (CVX); James Mulva, chairman of ConocoPhillips; John Hofmeister, chairman of Shell Oil Co.; and Ross Pillari, chairman of BP America Inc.
Because there seems to be a fire in your pants, gentlemen. Hey, I thought they were under oath the first time, just didn't have to raise their right hands and say, "I do." Guess they forgot. Bet they'll have to do it this time.

Lord Cheney is displeased.

Blunt Not Too Sharp

Prosecutors Seek More of DeLay's Records - New York Times:
The subpoena, issued in Austin, the Texas capital, asked for all records from Mr. DeLay's committee, Americans for a Republican Majority, about its contributions from 2000 to 2002 to Mr. Blunt's committee, Rely on Your Own Beliefs Fund, and to the state Republican Party in Missouri, where Mr. Blunt's son is governor.

The subpoena offered no explanation of why prosecutors wanted the records, although news reports have recently questioned why thousands of dollars raised by Mr. DeLay and his committee to entertain delegates at the 2000 Republican convention were shifted to Mr. Blunt's committee.

Mr. Blunt's committee made a $10,000 contribution at about the same time to a charity controlled by Mr. DeLay.

Teaching American Business Practices To The Iraqis

American Faces Charge of Graft for Work in Iraq - New York Times: In what is expected to be the first of a series of criminal charges against officials and contractors overseeing the rebuilding of Iraq, an American has been charged with paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks to American occupation authorities and their spouses to obtain construction contracts, according to a complaint unsealed late yesterday.

The man, Philip H. Bloom, who controlled three companies that did work in Iraq in the multibillion-dollar reconstruction effort, was charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, conspiracy to launder money and interstate transportation of stolen property, all in connection with obtaining up to $3.5 million in reportedly fraudulent contracts.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - U.S. air cargo still vulnerable to terrorist attack, report says - Nov 16, 2005 - U.S. air cargo still vulnerable to terrorist attack, report says - Nov 16, 2005:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Bush administration has yet to follow through on a two-year-old plan to find and plug holes in air cargo security and doesn't even have a schedule for completing it, according to congressional investigators.

A report by the Government Accountability Office being released Wednesday says the Transportation Security Administration won't be able to protect cargo-carrying planes from terrorists unless it understands where they're vulnerable.
Understand? Since when has that been a priority with this administration? Perhaps this is another job for Brownie. He's a bit under-utilized lately.

Foreign Service Officers File Complaint with GAO; Allege Criminal Actions by Diplomatic Security Service, Office of Medical Services - Yahoo! News

Foreign Service Officers File Complaint with GAO; Allege Criminal Actions by Diplomatic Security Service, Office of Medical Services - Yahoo! News:
The group, Concerned Foreign Service Officers, was created to expose increasing abuse of the security clearance process by the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service (DS) to circumvent Federal labor laws and established personnel practices. The group asserts that the State Department is increasingly misusing a poorly managed and regulated security clearance process to circumvent federal personnel regulations, to bypass EEO laws, and to punish dissenters within the agency.

The group has also documented improper and coercive interview techniques, fraudulent statements in investigative reports, suppression or destruction of evidence, improper seizure of personal property, misapplication of security regulations and numerous other improprieties in DSS cases.

The State Department's own Inspector General has criticized DS investigations, noting that 69 percent of the investigations performed by DS do not meet federal standards and urging DS to develop better investigative procedures. Concerned Foreign Service Officers believes that these abuses undermine the integrity of the security clearance process and damage national security.
Condo must have missed the memo. Shame, shame!

I Couldn't Keep Up

Your Doom Roundup

But Bod Harris did. Read it if you dare.

Report Says Ex-Chief of Public TV Violated Federal Law - New York Times

Report Says Ex-Chief of Public TV Violated Federal Law - New York Times:
"WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 - Investigators at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting concluded today that its former chairman repeatedly broke federal law and its own regulations in a campaign to combat what he saw as liberal bias."

Book'im, Dano!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Americans Realizing "You Get What You Pay For?"

Voters Showed Less Appetite for Tax Cuts - New York Times:
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 14 - Has the American voter's ardor for cutting taxes and shrinking government cooled?

Voters in California, Colorado and Washington State rejected ballot measures this month that would have rolled back tax increases or limited state spending. Some say the votes could mark a turning point in a decades-old revolt against high taxes that got its symbolic start in California in 1978 with Proposition 13, which sharply limited property tax increases for homeowners and cut deeply into state services.

It may be, some analysts suggested, that after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and this year's Gulf Coast hurricanes, Americans saw the value of government investment in infrastructure, public safety and other services and are now more willing to pay for it.

Shakespeare's Sister On Corrupt Elections

Shakespeare's Sister:
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Nothing we say or do matters if we don’t have fair elections. And as of right now, we don’t.

THE BRAD BLOG: "The Staggeringly Impossible Results of Ohio's '05 Election..."

THE BRAD BLOG: "The Staggeringly Impossible Results of Ohio's '05 Election..."

Monday, November 14, 2005

The New York Review of Books: The End of News?

The New York Review of Books: The End of News?:
In late September, the Government Accountability Office—a nonpartisan arm of Congress—issued a finding that the Bush administration had engaged in 'covert propaganda,' and thereby broken the law, by paying Armstrong Williams, a conservative commentator, to promote its educational policies. The GAO also faulted the administration for hiring a public relations firm to distribute video news segments without disclosing the government's part in producing them.[1] The auditors' report, which followed a year-long investigation, presents chilling evidence of the campaign that officials in Washington have been waging against a free and independent press. Only months before, it was revealed that Kenneth Tomlinson, the President's choice to head the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, had paid a Republican operative to monitor the political leanings of guests on Bill Moyers's show Now, as part of a broader effort to shift PBS's programming to the right.

firedoglake: Did Rover Roll Over?

firedoglake: Did Rover Roll Over?

The Biggest Threat Goes Undefended

Top News Article |
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government is not doing enough to protect nuclear weapons from terrorists and its handling of terrorism suspects is undermining America's image in the Muslim world, members of a commission that investigated the September 11 attacks said on Monday.

Although President George W. Bush calls arms proliferation the country's biggest threat and al Qaeda has sought nuclear weapons for a decade, the former commission's chairman Thomas Kean said, 'the most striking thing to us is that the size of the problem still totally dwarfs the policy response.'

'In short, we still do not have a maximum effort against the most urgent threat ... to the American people,' he told a news conference, noting that half the nuclear materials in Russia still have no security upgrade."

What We "Don't Do" Can Kill You

CIA allegedly hid evidence of detainee torture: report - Yahoo! News:
"The death of secret detainee Manadel al-Jamadi was ruled a homicide in a Defense Department autopsy, Time magazine reported, adding that documents it recently obtained included photographs of his battered body, which had been kept on ice to keep it from decomposing, apparently to conceal the circumstances of his death."

Asterisks Dot White House's Iraq Argument -- WaPo

Asterisks Dot White House's Iraq Argument:
But Bush and his aides had access to much more voluminous intelligence information than did lawmakers, who were dependent on the administration to provide the material. And the commissions cited by officials, though concluding that the administration did not pressure intelligence analysts to change their conclusions, were not authorized to determine whether the administration exaggerated or distorted those conclusions.

But the only committee investigating the matter in Congress, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has not yet done its inquiry into whether officials mischaracterized intelligence by omitting caveats and dissenting opinions. And Judge Laurence H. Silberman, chairman of Bush's commission on weapons of mass destruction, said in releasing his report on March 31, 2005: "Our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policymakers, and all of us were agreed that that was not part of our inquiry."


In the same speech, Bush asserted that "more than 100 Democrats in the House and the Senate, who had access to the same intelligence, voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power." Giving a preview of Bush's speech, Hadley had said that "we all looked at the same intelligence."

But Bush does not share his most sensitive intelligence, such as the President's Daily Brief, with lawmakers. Also, the National Intelligence Estimate summarizing the intelligence community's views about the threat from Iraq was given to Congress just days before the vote to authorize the use of force in that country.

In addition, there were doubts within the intelligence community not included in the NIE. And even the doubts expressed in the NIE could not be used publicly by members of Congress because the classified information had not been cleared for release. For example, the NIE view that Hussein would not use weapons of mass destruction against the United States or turn them over to terrorists unless backed into a corner was cleared for public use only a day before the Senate vote.


The October 2002 joint resolution authorized the use of force in Iraq, but it did not directly mention the removal of Hussein from power.

The resolution voiced support for diplomatic efforts to enforce "all relevant Security Council resolutions," and for using the armed forces to enforce the resolutions and defend "against the continuing threat posed by Iraq."

Hadley, in his remarks, went further. "Congress, in 1998, authorized, in fact, the use of force based on that intelligence," he said. "And, as you know, the Clinton administration took some action."

But the 1998 legislation gave the president authority "to support efforts to remove the regime of Saddam Hussein" by providing assistance to Iraqi opposition groups, including arms, humanitarian aid and broadcasting facilities.


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