Thursday, March 31, 2005

Missouri GOP leaders vacationed on lobbyists' dime

Associated Press

Lobbyists helped cover lodging and meals for nine Republican House members who vacationed at a tourist spot in Arkansas during their week off.The House Communications Office provided information on the lawmakers, who included several members of the House leadership, and eight lobbyists.

Communications director Todd Abrajano said some lawmakers covered their own costs, but he could not say who, or detail exactly what the total cost was.The group vacationed in Hot Springs, Ark., a tourist spot popular for horse racing, spas and golf, and stayed at the Arlington Hotel.

Key among the attendees was Speaker Rod Jetton, who said he and his wife had been there before and decided to travel there again during the Legislature's break, which was March 18 through Monday. He said he decided to open the trip up to other members of the Republican caucus, and they and their spouses made the weekend trip.

Judge Blocks Rule Allowing Companies to Cut Benefits When Retirees Reach Medicare Age


A federal district judge on Wednesday blocked a Bush administration rule that would have allowed employers to reduce or eliminate health benefits for retirees when they reach age 65 and become eligible for Medicare.

Ten million retirees could have had benefits cut under the rule, which was adopted last April by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The judge, Anita B. Brody of the Federal District Court in Philadelphia, struck down the rule and issued a permanent injunction that prohibits federal officials from enforcing it.

The rule "is contrary to Congressional intent and the plain language of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act," the 1967 law that bans most forms of age discrimination in the workplace, Judge Brody wrote.

The erosion of retiree health benefits is an explosive political issue. Before issuing the rule, the commission was deluged with letters opposing it.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger M.I.A.


Every time Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger leaves the state, he must relinquish his powers to Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante under a law written in the days before the telephone was invented........Bustamante has also publicly released tallies of just how often he is called upon to take over when Schwarzenegger leaves the state or the country - about 106 days so far out of the nearly 500 since the governor took office.

At the same time, Schwarzenegger has criticized the Democrat-controlled Legislature for failing to work hard enough.Democrats at Wednesday's hearing suggested they would keep that in mind when they voted on the measure, SCA 6.

"I'm a little testy about the fact that the governor has made a big deal about whether we are here working," said Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica. "I have not missed 20 percent of the time I'm supposed to be here, but the governor has missed 20 percent of the time he has been in office."....In 1991, during the Los Angeles riots, "Pete Wilson had to take personal command of the National Guard," Green said. "How's Arnold going to do that when he's at the Cannes Film Festival?"

Army Memo Released By ACLU Suggests Perjury In Testimony on Torture

WASHINGTON - The American Civil Liberties Union today sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales asking him to open an investigation into possible perjury by Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the theater commander at the outset of the Iraq War.

The ACLU said that a memo sent by Lt. Gen Sanchez flatly contradicts sworn testimony given by him before the Senate Armed Services Committee, in which he denied authorizing highly coercive interrogation methods."Lt. Gen. Sanchez’s testimony, given under oath before the Senate Armed Services committee, is utterly inconsistent with the written record, and deserves serious investigation," said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director.

"This clear breach of the public’s trust is also further proof that the American people deserve the appointment of an independent special counsel by the attorney general."Although the Washington Post first disclosed its existence, the memorandum at issue was initially withheld from public release by the Defense Department under national security grounds.

The ACLU obtained a physical copy of the memorandum, however, under an ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, and released a hard copy on Tuesday.The memorandum, dated September 14, 2003, was signed by Lt. Gen. Sanchez and laid out specific interrogation techniques, modeled on those used against detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for use by coalition forces in Iraq. These include sleep "management," the inducement of fear at two levels of severity, loud music and sensory agitation, and the use of canine units to "exploit Arab fear of dogs."

During sworn testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Lt. Gen. Sanchez flatly denied approving any such techniques in Iraq, and said that a news article reporting otherwise was false.

Dollar headed for collapse: Mahathir

AFP , KUALA LUMPUR Thursday, Mar 31, 2005

"The US dollar is facing an imminent collapse and the global economy will suffer a "catastrophe" when it is rejected as the currency for trade, former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said in remarks published yesterday."

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Tell Congress to Vote NO on the "Debt Slavery" Bankruptcy Bill in the House

Sign and send a Message to your Rep.

Rep Lee Terry (R-Ne) says Bush won't win Social Security

President Bush's proposal to revise Social Security to authorize personal investment accounts isn't likely to gain congressional approval, Republican Rep. Lee Terry said.

"I don't see the votes there," the four-term congressman and dean of Nebraska's House delegation said in a Lincoln interview this week. More likely is "a little tweaking of Social Security to extend its (fiscally stable) life another 10 or 15 years," Terry said.

Most constituents tell him they have questions about the president's plan rather than oppose or support it, Terry said. "If I were an adviser, I'd tell the president to quit talking principles and present a plan. Get a specific plan and start advocating it."


Once Again the US Media Fails to Report on the US Government

US memo shows Iraq jail methods

The top US general in Iraq authorised interrogation techniques including the use of dogs, stress positions and disorientation, a memo has shown.

The document was obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union through the US Freedom of Information Act.

The September 2003 document is signed by the then commander of US forces in Iraq, Gen Ricardo Sanchez.

The ACLU says the measures go beyond generally accepted practice and says Gen Sanchez should be made accountable.

The memo authorised techniques including putting prisoners in stressful positions, using loud music and light control, and changing sleeping patterns.

It also authorised the presence of muzzled military working dogs to, as the memo puts it, "exploit Arab fear of dogs while maintaining security during interrogations".

The presence of dogs and other measures, all of which required approval by Gen Sanchez, were rescinded a month later because of opposition from military lawyers.

Gen Sanchez says advance permission was required every time one of these techniques was requested, adding that he never gave such permission.

If you’re going to be a Oil Company Hitman stay in the USA

YUKOS Security Chief Gets 20 Years for Murder

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Moscow court jailed the former security chief of oil major YUKOS for 20 years on Wednesday for murder, less than the maximum life sentence prosecutors had demanded.
Analysts have been closely watching the sentencing of Alexei Pichugin for an indication of how harshly the courts will treat his former boss and billionaire founder of YUKOS, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who is trial for tax evasion and fraud.
The prosecution on Tuesday called for a maximum 10-year jail term if Khodorkovsky, in detention since his arrest in October 2003, is convicted in the case which his defense lawyers say could drag on until May.

DeFazio, Dems, slam Wal-Mart's TV advertising deal

WASHINGTON - An ABC morning news segment called "Only in America" should be sponsored by anyone but Wal-Mart, according to 21 Democrats in Congress who complained Tuesday about the company's relationship with it.


Iran Allows Journalists Inside Key Nuclear Plant

NATANZ, Iran (Reuters) - Iran allowed journalists for the first time on Wednesday into part of a nuclear plant which Washington and the European Union want permanently closed and which until late 2002 was a closely guarded secret.The visit by about 30 local and foreign journalists to the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, 150 miles south of Tehran, reflected an unusual degree of openness by the Islamic state.

- snip -

Approaching the 1,110-acre site ringed by arid mountains, journalists counted at least 10 anti-aircraft batteries, parts of which have been built deep underground as protection from aerial attack.At the heavily guarded main gate there were no signs to indicate the nature of the sprawling site whose existence was first revealed by an Iranian exile group in late 2002, prompting international concern about Iran's atomic ambitions.

Individualized Laws - The Next Wave

In its infinite wisdom, Congress has passed a law for one person and one person only. Of course this will open a Pandora's Box because every political move, no matter how crass, how egregious or how ridiculous will shortly be outdone.

Here are some "individualized" laws soon to be enacted:

The Dick Cheney Law

Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon and Rocky National Parks will be open for drilling and mining. All leases will be handled by Halliburton and payments must be made in cash.

The Tom DeLay Law

House Majority Leader DeLay will receive full immunity for any crimes he may have committed, has committed or will commit. In addition, anyone who refers to Mr. DeLay as "The Bugman" will receive the death penalty with no chance of appeal


Tuesday, March 29, 2005

"Tom DeLay has got to be thinking: Et tu, Wall Street Journal?"

In media terms, it's an earthquake almost as loud as Walter Cronkite turning against the Vietnam War.

Let's be clear: The Journal's editorial page, champion of conservatives and scourge of liberals, has a biblical quality for many on the right. They look to it for guidance, if not divine inspiration.

And the page, run by Paul Gigot after the long reign of Robert Bartley, does not come from the we-believe-this-but-the-other-side-has-a-good-point school. In sharp, sometimes caustic language, it almost always backs conservatives and Republicans over liberals and Democrats.

The Journal ran so many anti-Clinton editorials on Whitewater that they were turned into several books.
Which is why yesterday's editorial slapping the Texas congressman is likely to reverberate for some time to come, and perhaps embolden DeLay's critics.


Dear Valued Customer,

Thank you for contacting us at regarding women's prescriptions for birth control. Your comments and concerns are very important to us as we strive to meet your needs.

Wal-Mart does not carry emergency contraceptives. Our pharmacists may decline to fill a prescription based on personal convictions.

However, they must find another pharmacist, either at Wal-Mart or another pharmacy, who can assist you by filling your prescription.

Again, we thank you for your comments regarding this issue.

Customer Service at

China "stepping up drills over Taiwan"

TOKYO (Reuters) - China is rushing to modernise its military equipment, alignment and training to deal with any conflict in the Taiwan Strait,including the use of force, a think tank linked to Japan's Defence Ministry says.

"With the possibility of the use of force against Taiwan and prevention of U.S. intervention in mind, China has been frequently conductingoffensive training," the National Institute for Defence Studies said in an annual report on Monday.China sees Taiwan as a renegade province that must be reunited with the mainland -- by force if necessary.The think tank's report said the future of the military balance between China and Taiwan was becoming unclear as China moves ahead withthe modernisation of its military.

Maine to Sue EPA Over Mercury Emissions

Maine will join at least eight other states in a lawsuit calling for more aggressive restrictions on coal-fired power plants - considered the nation's largest source of mercury pollution and the primary reason Maine's lakes and freshwater fish are contaminated. The lawsuit will be filed in the next week or two, said Assistant Attorney General Jerry Reid.Although a lawsuit pitting the state against the Bush administration is unfortunate, he said, "it's also necessary under these circumstances."

"The rule is carefully crafted to allow the industry to avoid installing new technology" to cut mercury pollution, Reid said.Maine will be especially hurt by the rules, critics say, because the state is downwind of aging power plants to the south and west. Maine already advises that pregnant women and children not eat freshwater fish from the state's waterways, and is considered to have some of the most severely contaminated wildlife in the country. Link

Monday, March 28, 2005

Conservative Intellectuals Splitting on Social Security


President Bush's proposal to add private investment accounts to Social Security is beginning to create controversy within the one group that has most forcefully embraced the idea in theory: the conservative intelligentsia.

Under Bush's approach, personal accounts "are complicated," wrote Alex J. Pollock, a finance expert at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, in a paper he will present at AEI today.

"To many people, they are downright confusing and even frightening, and they require diverting a portion of payroll taxes away from the U.S. Treasury."Conservative Harvard University economist Robert J. Barro broke with the White House in the April 4 issue of Business Week, writing, "Overall the accounts are a bad idea."

Tyler Cowen, a free-market economist at George Mason University, has linked his Web log, Marginal Revolution, to Barro's dissent, declaring, "Robert Barro agrees with me on Social Security."


"For different reasons, I think support is waning," said Barro, who for years had embraced private accounts.

Right-Wing Terror Movements Omitted from DHS Terrorist List

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not list right-wing domestic terrorists and terrorist groups on a document that appears to be an internal list of threats to the nation’s security.

According to the list — part of a draft planning document obtained by CQ Homeland Security — between now and 2011 DHS expects to contend primarily with adversaries such as al Qaeda and other foreign entities affiliated with the Islamic Jihad movement, as well as domestic radical Islamist groups.

It also lists left-wing domestic groups, such as the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), as terrorist threats, but it does not mention anti-government groups, white supremacists and other radical right-wing movements, which have staged numerous terrorist attacks that have killed scores of Americans.

Recent attacks on cars, businesses and property in Virginia, Oregon and California have been attributed to ELF.DHS did not respond to repeated requests for comment or confirmation of the document’s authenticity.

GOP Paid Reporters and Fake News # 5

March 28, 2005

WASHINGTON (AP) - Congressional investigators will probe whether the Bush administration violated any laws when it paid syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher to help promote a marriage initiative, Democratic Sens. Edward Kennedy and Frank Lautenberg said.

The Government Accountability Office informed the senators of the probe in a letter sent March 24. The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, is already looking into the Education Department's relationship with several public relations firms, including the agency's $240,000 contract with syndicated columnist and TV personality Armstrong Williams.

The Education Department had hired Williams to promote the No Child Left Behind law. The two senators had asked the GAO to expand its investigation to include Gallagher.

59 American Ex-Diplomats Oppose Bolton

WASHINGTON - Challenging the White House, 59 former American diplomats are urging the Senate to reject John R. Bolton's nomination to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations."He is the wrong man for this position," they said in a letter to Sen. Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Indiana Republican has scheduled hearings on Bolton's nomination for April 7."We urge you to reject that nomination," the former diplomats said in a letter obtained by The Associated Press and dated Tuesday.

The ex-diplomats have served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, some for long terms and others briefly. They include Arthur A. Hartman, ambassador to France and the Soviet Union under Presidents Carter and Reagan and assistant secretary of state for European affairs under President Nixon.

Iranian stockpile scares U.S. Arms needed to fight drugs, nation insists

VIENNA, Austria (AP) - Iran is quietly building a stockpile of thousands of high-tech small arms and other military equipment - from armor-piercing sniper rifles to night-vision goggles - through legal weapons deals and a U.N. anti-drug program, say arms dealers, Western diplomats and an internal U.N. document.

The buying spree is raising Bush administration fears the arms could end up with militants in Iraq. Tehran also is seeking approval for a U.N.-funded satellite network that Iran says it needs to fight drug smugglers, stoking U.S. worries it could be used to spy on Americans in Iraq or Afghanistan - or any U.S. reconnaissance in Iran itself.

Iran says it needs the satellite network; high-tech small arms bought on the European arms market; and night-vision goggles, body armor and advanced communications gear through the U.N program to fight drug smugglers pouring in from neighboring Afghanistan."We need assistance," Pirouz Hosseini, Iran’s chief delegate to U.N. organizations in Vienna said, dismissing U.S. fears as "a political stance not based on realities."

But such high-resolution satellite imagery could reveal what U.S. troops in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan are doing on the ground - or could show the Iranians what the United States is seeing as it spies from outer space for evidence of illicit Iranian nuclear activity.{snip}In a more recent - and legal - deal, Iran last month took delivery of hundreds of high-powered armor-piercing sniper rifles with scopes from an Austrian firm as part of a consignment for 2,000 of the weapons.

Confirming the sale, Wolfgang Fuerlinger, head of Steyr Mannlicher GmbH, said U.S. Embassy officials had expressed concerns the arms could make their way to Iraq for use against U.S. troops.The Austrian government approved the sales in November after concluding the arms would be used to fight drug smugglers.

Although wary of Iran’s ultimate purpose, other European countries have sanctioned similar deals when convinced Tehran would use the equipment to fight the drug trade, said an Austrian official, declining to offer details.

An Army Program to Build a High-Tech Force Hits Cost Snags

The Army's plan to transform itself into a futuristic high-technology force has become so expensive that some of the military's strongest supporters in Congress are questioning the program's costs and complexity.

Army officials said Saturday that the first phase of the program, called Future Combat Systems, could run to $145 billion. Paul Boyce, an Army spokesman, said the "technological bridge to the future" would equip 15 brigades of roughly 3,000 soldiers, or about one-third of the force the Army plans to field, over a 20-year span.

That price tag, larger than past estimates publicly disclosed by the Army, does not include a projected $25 billion for the communications network needed to connect the future forces. Nor does it fully account for Army plans to provide Future Combat weapons and technologies to forces beyond those first 15 brigades.

Now some of the military's advocates in Congress are asking how to pay the bill.
"We're dealing today with a train wreck," Representative Curt Weldon, Republican of Pennsylvania and vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said at a March 16 Congressional hearing on the cost and complexity of Future Combat Systems. Cont.

They should be working on fixing the impending Economic Disaster

WASHINGTON, March 27 - After a string of fruitless legal and legislative efforts, the central question in the Terri Schiavo case - Who makes end-of-life decisions when the patient's wishes are disputed? - is headed back to Capitol Hill, where debate over broader legislation has already begun.

On Sunday, lawmakers of both parties agreed that Congress has a role to play in such cases and should contemplate legislation that would give added legal recourse to patients like Ms. Schiavo.

While it is difficult to predict whether such a measure could pass, the Schiavo case has clearly pushed thorny questions about end-of-life care to the fore on Capitol Hill, as well as in state legislatures around the nation.



Monday, March 28, 2005

Harper's Magazine investigation reveals how Big Oil vanquished the neo-cons ... and OPEC is the winner."For months, the State Department officially denied the existence of this 323-page plan for Iraq's oil ...."Some conspiracy nuts believe the Bush Administration had a secret plan to control Iraq's oil.

In fact, there were TWO plans. In a joint investigation with BBC Television Newsnight, Harper's Magazine has uncovered a hidden battle over Iraq's oil. It began right after Mr. Bush took office - with a previously unreported plot to invade Iraq.

From the exclusive Harper's report by Greg Palast:Within weeks of the first inaugural, prominent Iraqi expatriates -- many with ties to U.S. industry -- were invited to secret discussions directed by Pamela Quanrud, National Security Council, now at the State Department.

"It quickly became an oil group," said one participant, Falah Aljibury. Aljibury is an advisor to Amerada Hess' oil trading arm and Goldman Sachs."The petroleum industry, the chemical industry, the banking industry -- they'd hoped that Iraq would go for a revolution like in the past and government was shut down for two or three days," Aljibury told me. On this plan, Hussein would simply have been replaced by some former Baathist general.

However, by February 2003, a hundred-page blue-print for the occupied nation, favored by neo-cons, had been enshrined as official policy. "Moving the Iraqi Economy from Recovery to Sustainable Growth" generally embodied the principles for postwar Iraq favored by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and the Iran-Contra figure, now Deputy National Security Advisor, Elliott Abrams.

The blue-print mapped out a radical makeover of Iraq as a free-maket Xanadu including, on page 73, the sell-off of the nation's crown jewels: "privatizationthe oil and supporting industries."It was reasoned that if Iraq's fields were broken up and sold off, competing operators would crank up production.

This extra crude would flood world petroleum markets, OPEC would devolve into mass cheating and overproduction, oil prices would fall over a cliff, and Saudi Arabia, both economically and politically, would fall to its knees. However, in plotting the destruction of OPEC, the neocons failed to predict the virulent resistance of insurgent forces: the U.S. oil industry itself.

Rob McKee, a former executive vice-president of ConocoPhillips, designated by the Bush Administration to advise the Iraqi oil ministry, had little tolerance for the neocons' threat to privatize the oil fields nor their obsession on ways to undermine OPEC.

(In 2004, with oil approaching the $50 a barrel mark all year, the major U.S. oil companies posted record or near-record profits. ConocoPhillips this February reported a doubling of its quarterly profits.)In November 2003, McKee quietly ordered up a new plan for Iraq's oil.

For months, the State Department officially denied the existence of this 323-page plan, but when I threatened legal action, I was able to obtain the multi-volume document describing seven possible models of oil production for Iraq, each one merely a different flavor of a single option: a state-owned oil company under which the state maintains official title to the reserves but operation and control are given to foreign oil companies.

According to Ed Morse, another Hess Oil advisor, the switch to an OPEC-friendly policy for Iraq was driven by Dick Cheney. "The VP's office not pursued a policy in Iraq that would lead to a rapid opening of the Iraqi energy sectorthat would put us on a track to say, "We're going to put a squeeze on OPEC." Cheney, far from "putting the squeeze on OPEC," has taken a defacto seat there, allowing the cartel to maintain its suffocating grip on the U.S. economy.*****

BBC Newsnight - U.S. Secret Plan for Iraq's Oil

High Noon Showdown With The Extreme Right, $29.99 Only on Pay Per View

Christian Wire Service/ -- On Monday, March 28, supporters of Terri Schiavo will hold a press conference in front of the White House, on the Lafayette Park side. At 12, noon, Rev. Patrick Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, members of Not Dead Yet, and other supporters of Terri Schiavo, will urge President Bush to intervene on behalf of Terri. After the press conference, the group plans to confront House Speaker Dennis Hastert, followed by Congressman Tom DeLay, asking them to explain why they have not enforced the subpoenas issued by Congress to Terri Schiavo. The supporters of Terri will also urge Congress to find Florida Probate Judge George Greer in contempt for his treatment of Terri Schiavo's subpoena.

Press Conference Details---

When: Monday, March 28, at 12 noon

Where: In front of the White House, on the Lafayette Park side

Who: Rev. Patrick Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, members of Not Dead Yet, and other supporters of Terri Schiavo

Why: To urge President Bush to intervene on behalf of Terri Schiavo and ask Congress to find Florida Probate Judge George Greer in contempt for his treatment of Terri Schiavo's subpoena.

"Were the subpoenas a political stunt or do they plan to enforce them? -- Patrick Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition

U.S. Bases in Afghanistan Get $83M Upgrade

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- The United States is spending $83 million to upgrade its two main air bases in Afghanistan, an Air Force general said Monday, the latest indication that American forces will remain in the country for years.Brig. Gen. Jim Hunt said the money was being spent on construction projects already underway at Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul, and Kandahar Air Field in the south.

A new runway is being built at Bagram, the biggest Afghan airfield used by the U.S. military."We are continuously improving runways, taxiways, navigation aids, airfield lighting, billeting and other facilities to support our demanding mission," Hunt said at a news conference in the capital.Afghan leaders are seeking a long-term "strategic partnership" with the United States, which expects to complete the training of the country's new 70,000-strong army next year.

'Vigilantes' set for Mexico border patrol


From 1 April, groups of volunteers from across the US will spend up to a month camped out in the inhospitable Arizona desert.

But this is no ordinary hunting or camping trip.
Armed with night vision goggles, radios and light aircraft, their quarry are the hundreds of immigrants who each night seek illegally to cross the wire fence separating the US from Mexico.

While the volunteers insist they will simply "observe" the new arrivals' movements and alert the US Border Patrol, human rights groups fear the eruption of vigilante violence.
Called the Minuteman Project, the operation has already strained international relations between Washington and its southern neighbour.

Washington accuses Mexico of not doing enough to stem the flow of illegal immigrants from across Latin America into the US, while Mexican officials condemn vigilante attacks near the border.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Past Arguments Don't Square With Current Iran Policy


Lacking direct evidence, Bush administration officials argue that Iran's nuclear program must be a cover for bomb-making. Vice President Cheney recently said, "They're already sitting on an awful lot of oil and gas.

Nobody can figure why they need nuclear as well to generate energy." Yet Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and outgoing Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz held key national security posts when the Ford administration made the opposite argument 30 years ago.

Ford's team endorsed Iranian plans to build a massive nuclear energy industry, but also worked hard to complete a multibillion-dollar deal that would have given Tehran control of large quantities of plutonium and enriched uranium -- the two pathways to a nuclear bomb. Either can be shaped into the core of a nuclear warhead, and obtaining one or the other is generally considered the most significant obstacle to would-be weapons builders.

Iran, a U.S. ally then, had deep pockets and close ties to Washington. U.S. companies, including Westinghouse and General Electric, scrambled to do business there.

GOP Paid Reporters and Fake News # 4

Herald Tribune

TV reporter earned money from stateBy CHRIS DAVIS and MATTHEW DOIGAt the same time one of Florida's most visible television reporters brought the news to viewers around the state, he earned hundreds of thousands of dollars on the side from the government agencies he covered.

Mike Vasilinda, a 30-year veteran of the Tallahassee press corps, does public relations work and provides film editing services to more than a dozen state agencies.

His Tallahassee company, Mike Vasilinda Productions Inc., has earned more than $100,000 over the past four years through contracts with Gov. Jeb Bush's office, the Secretary of State, the Department of Education and other government entities that are routinely part of Vasilinda's stories.... CNN, which aired a Vasilinda story on Terri Schiavo on Thursday, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

About Time They Fixed This Problem. Guns Without Drunks is Like "The Bush" Without Pretzels.

PHOENIX - Rejecting pleas from the tourism industry, the House Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to let customers carry guns into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.
The 6-3 vote also came over objections from people who own and operate establishments that would be affected, as well as police, prosecutors and neighborhood groups.

Halliburton Makes Billions Off of Iraq

Katherine Griffiths reports from New York on the American company with friends in the highest places, the contracts that all seemed to flow in one direction and the high-ranking army employee who blew the whistle

27 March 2005

Halliburton, the world's largest military private contractor, has made at least $8bn (£4.3bn) in war-torn Iraq - doing everything from washing American troops' laundry to setting up vital oil supplies. Now, a critically well-placed army employee says contracts were unfairly awarded to Halliburton, whose chief executive used to be US Vice-President Dick Cheney.

Bunnatine Greenhouse, the highest-ranking civilian in the US Army Corps of Engineers, saw the contracts handed to Halliburton pass over her desk. She objected to all of them on the grounds that the government was being too generous to the Texas-based company. Now she might lose her job.

The army tried to demote her last autumn after her performance ratings swung from excellent to sub-standard. An alternative offered to the 60-year-old, who followed her husband into the army, is a swift retirement.

According to Ms Greenhouse, who is hanging on to her job under American laws that protect whistleblowers, her superiors want her out because she is "a stickler for the rules". She hopes to stay on at the corps until she is ready to retire, even though many of her colleagues "treat me like I have the plague".

"The Bush" has trained them well.

Iraq Police Fire on Protesters, Kill One

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Security officials opened fire on a crowd of protesters Sunday, killing one, and al-Qaida's arm in Iraq (news - web sites) posted a video purportedly showing an Iraqi Interior Ministry official being killed.

Violence persisted Sunday, with bodyguards for Science and Technology Minister Rashad Mandan Omar opening fire on a crowd of protesters who had gathered in front of the ministry's offices to demand their full wages, said Hamid Balasem, an engineer at the ministry.
Balasem said about 50 ministry guards were demonstrating because they said they were paid only part of their wages. It was unclear why the guards opened fire.

Also Sunday, insurgents hit a police patrol with a roadside bomb in the southern oil city of Basra, injuring one nearby civilian, Lt. Col. Karim Ali Al-Zaydi said. They also damaged an oil pipeline in northern Iraq, halting exports to Turkey. The pipeline has been targeted in the past.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

New Details on F.B.I. Aid for Saudis After 9/11

WASHINGTON, March 26 - The episode has been retold so many times in the last three and a half years that it has become the stuff of political legend: in the frenzied days after Sept. 11, 2001, when some flights were still grounded, dozens of well-connected Saudis, including relatives of Osama bin Laden, managed to leave the United States on specially chartered flights.

Now, newly released government records show previously undisclosed flights from Las Vegas and elsewhere and point to a more active role by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in aiding some of the Saudis in their departure.

The F.B.I. gave personal airport escorts to two prominent Saudi families who fled the United States, and several other Saudis were allowed to leave the country without first being interviewed, the documents show.

The Saudi families, in Los Angeles and Orlando, requested the F.B.I. escorts because they said they were concerned for their safety in the wake of the attacks, and the F.B.I. - which was then beginning the biggest criminal investigation in its history - arranged to have agents escort them to their local airports, the documents show.

Progressive Radio Junkies

It's 24 hours a day. Repeats every 27 hours.

There's a schedule at the website.

Culture of Crime: GOP's 34+ scandals

More than 34 scandals brewing

Cops, firefighters and widows attack Schwarzenegger

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was called a liar and accused of betraying widows and orphans this morning by more than a score of police officers, firefighters and widows in San Jose. The group joined State Sen. Elaine Alquist, D-San Jose, to protest Schwarzenegger's plan to change the pension system for California's public employees, including public safety officers and firefighters. Alquist said the governor's proposal would not only seriously damage recruiting of police and firefighters but also leave the widows and orphans of those killed in the line of duty destitute. Link

This bone-head has become a pain in the ass.

GOP Paid Reporters and Fake News # 3

McKay Behind Appointment of Enterprise Reporter's Father as Chairman of Liquor Board in Trade-off for Favorable News Coverage....

Did the boy wonder St. Mary's Commissioner President Tommy McKay tell Washington Post-owned-Enterprise reporter Jason Babcock that he would get his daddy appointed to the St. Mary's Liquor Board? Then, suddenly last spring, two members of the liquor board were removed by the Governor and replaced, one of them with Allie Babcock, who has an interesting history in his last post with the St. Mary's County government.

The liquor board members receive a modest annual salary.Has Jason acted as Tommy's personal public relations agent ever since? After the last boondoggle that Tommy McKay caused for Governor Bobby Ehrlich over the secret land deals, where land bought for preservation next to a state park was part of a deal to let a developer get land cheap, even at the same price paid by the state, McKay's dealing to get favorable press from the Washington Post owned "Emptyprize" might seem a little unseemly.

But McKay needs the support of the The Washington Post and the Emptyprize and he is willing to use the full resources of the Governor to get it. Those McKays ads still run all the time in the Big Empty even though they didn't endorse him in the last election. Link

GOP Paid Reporters and Fake News # 2

Aides Concede More Mock News Videos

Tapes praise governor's proposals on nurse staffing, teachers. Legislators plan probe.

SACRAMENTO — A week after Democratic legislators faulted Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for using taxpayer money to produce "propaganda" in the form of a mock news video, the administration on Wednesday acknowledged making several others to advance its policies.
A state senator intends to question officials today about the funding and distribution of the videos. Link

GOP Paying Reporters and Fake News #1

Rep. Jim Gibbons paid a veteran TV reporter $8,000 for consulting last year while she worked as a freelance reporter for a Reno radio station, according to campaign finance reports.
A Federal Election Commission report filed by Gibbons, R-Nev., lists the payment to Andrea Engleman on Nov. 30, 2004, just weeks after she had been fired as co-host of the television news program Nevada Newsmakers. At the time the contract was in effect, she said, she was compiling reports for KOH-AM, 780 in Reno. Link

The Young Preacher

A young preacher was asked by a funeral director to hold a graveside service for a man who died with no family or friends.The funeral was held way back in the country and the young preacher got lost on the way. When he arrived an hour late, he saw a backhoe and crew, but the hearse was nowhere in sight. The workmen were eating lunch.

The diligent pastor went to the open grave to find the vault lid in place....but still he poured out his heart and preached an impassioned and lengthy service.

Returning to his car, the young preacher felt that he had done his duty and he would leave with a renewed sense of purpose and dedication, in spite of his tardiness.

As he got into his car, he overheard one of the workers talking to another worker:"I've been putting in septic tanks for 20 years, and I ain't never seen anything like that before. Sort of gives new meaning to the term 'Holy Shit.'

Homeland Security Officials exceeded H1-B visa limit

They just don't want Americans working. They have almost destroyed the Blue Collar worker, now it's time to get the White Collar workers.

The Homeland Security Department approved 10,000 more applications for visas for high-tech and specialty workers than Congress permitted for this fiscal year.
The mistake was made with H1-B visas, available to foreigners with a bachelor's degree or higher who want to fill U.S. jobs in architecture, engineering, medicine, biotechnology and computer programming.

Only 65,000 H1-B visas are supposed to be given out this fiscal year, although Congress let the department exempt from the limit 20,000 foreigners with graduate degrees from American universities.

"It discourages me to hear that Congress' limit may have been ignored," Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a March 7 letter to Eduardo Aguirre, director of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Homeland Security Department. He has asked for an explanation and how the agency will prevent exceeding the limit again. Link

Moonie Hit Piece

Salazar retreats from no-filibuster position

Sen. Ken Salazar has backed off the position he took during his campaign last year that Democrats should not filibuster President Bush's judicial nominees.

Republicans had been counting on Mr. Salazar, a Democrat from Colorado, as a key vote against the filibusters. His defection is a serious blow to the hopes of Senate Republicans who wanted more bipartisan weight behind their "nuclear option" to dislodge filibusters.

In particular, Mr. Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, expected his support for former Interior Department lawyer William G. Myers III, nominated to the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
As Colorado's attorney general, Mr. Salazar had signed a letter of support for Mr. Myers based on his handling of Western issues such as grazing rights for ranchers.

During his campaign for the Senate, Mr. Salazar pointed to his letter of support for Mr. Myers as proof of his independence from Capitol Hill Democrats.
Mr. Salazar has since withdrawn that support and now says he hasn't decided how he will vote.

"A Thin View of Life"


" How has Terri Schiavo's care been financed? The available information suggests that some of the money came from one of those much-derided medical malpractice lawsuits and that the drugs she needs have been paid for by Medicaid. The irony has not been lost on Democrats. Just a few days after most Republicans in both houses of Congress had supported cuts in federal funding of Medicaid, here they were erring "on the side of life" in a single case. The same issue has come up here in Florida, where Gov. Jeb Bush, a strong supporter of keeping Schiavo alive, has been proposing cuts in Medicaid spending.Republicans cry foul when any link is made between the Schiavo question and the Medicaid question. "

The fact that they're tying a life issue to the budget process shows just how disconnected Democrats are to reality," harrumphed Dan Allen, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.Forgive me, Mr. Allen, I know you're just doing your job, but what's disconnected from reality is refusing to accept the idea that health care is about life issues and money issues.

In Iraq Men are illegally divorcing their wives without them knowing.

By Aso Akram in Sulaimaniyah (ICR No. 118, 25-Mar-05)

Life for 38 year old Lana has no meaning since her husband of 18 years informed her that he’d divorced her five months earlier. Lana lived with her husband during those months, so she is shocked to hear the news.

"My eyes filled with tears, my knees buckled and I was half paralysed," said Lana, who is one of the many women divorced without their knowledge in Iraq.
Personal status laws dictate that both husband and wife must attend court for a divorce to be granted, but the laws are often violated and men are handed separation without their wives’ involvement.

Dalia, 37, is another woman who wasn’t involved in the process. "My divorce case is very strange. I don’t know why I was divorced," she said.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Turn On The Light. The Roaches Scatter.......


DeLay Quietly Steps Out of the Schiavo Spotlight

Early this week, Tom DeLay assumed an uncharacteristically visible role in the Terri Schiavo case, pressing Congress to intervene, invoking God and attacking Ms. Schiavo's husband before television cameras and on the House floor. Now, with the prospect that she will be kept alive essentially dashed in the courts, he has slipped out of the spotlight....

Still, for Mr. DeLay in particular, the decision to step forward in the first place - after weeks in which he had methodically avoided television cameras as he fended off questions about his ethics - may prove to be crucial in what could turn out to be his most difficult year in Congress.

While the Schiavo case may have energized his conservative supporters, Democrats and some independent analysts say, it may also have thrust him into the national consciousness at the very moment his opponents are trying to make him a symbol of Republican excess and force another ethics investigation.

"Tom is doing everything backwards from the way I'd be inclined to do it," said one Democrat, Jim Wright, a fellow Texan who himself was forced out as speaker of the House in 1989 after failing to surmount challenges to his ethics. "He seems to want to keep hostility at an agitated level."...

It is not just Democrats who share that view. In a regular e-mail commentary he distributes, former Senator Dave Durenberger, Republican of Minnesota, wrote, "If I were a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota in 2006, I would make DeLay the issue in the campaign right now."

Protesters in Schiavo case flood Florida abuse hot line

TALLAHASSEE -- Hundreds of protesters trying to keep Terri Schiavo alive are calling the Florida Department of Children & Families hot line each day, and officials are concerned they could be jamming the line for people who are trying to report abuse unrelated to the case.
``The Department of Children & Families appreciates the concern expressed in a number of heartfelt calls to the abuse hot line on behalf of Terri Schiavo's well-being. Inadvertently these callers may be putting other neglected, abused and vulnerable citizens at risk,'' said DCF spokeswoman Zoraya Suarez on Friday.

"The Bush" just Okayed Selling Them F-16's

Probe Reveals Pakistan Bought U.S. Nuclear Technology

WASHINGTON — A federal criminal investigation has uncovered evidence that the government of Pakistan has made clandestine purchases of U.S. high-technology components for use in its nuclear weapons program in defiance of American law.

Federal authorities also say the highly specialized equipment at one point passed through the hands of an arms dealer in Islamabad, Pakistan, named Humayun Khan, who they say has ties to Islamic militants.

Even though President Bush has been pushing for an international crackdown on such trafficking, efforts by two U.S. agencies to send investigators to Pakistan to gather more evidence have been stymied for more than a year by other American officials, according to U.S. officials knowledgeable about the case.

The impasse is part of a larger tug-of-war between federal agencies that enforce U.S. nonproliferation laws and policy-makers who consider Pakistan too important to embarrass.

The transactions began in early 2003, well after President Pervez Musharraf threw his support to the Bush administration's war on terrorism and the invasion of neighboring Afghanistan to oust Pakistan's former Taliban allies.

Police 'showdown' averted (Fla. agents tried to "rescue" Schiavo)

Miami Herald

Hours after a judge ordered that Terri Schiavo was not to be removed from her hospice, a team of state agents were en route to seize her and have her feeding tube reinserted -- but they stopped short when local police told them they would enforce the judge's order, The Herald has learned.

Agents of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement told police in Pinellas Park, the small town where Schiavo lies at Hospice Woodside, on Thursday that they were on the way to take her to a hospital to resume her feeding.

For a brief period, local police, who have officers at the hospice to keep protesters out, prepared for what sources called ``a showdown.''

In the end, the squad from the FDLE and the Department of Children & Families backed down, apparently concerned about confronting local police outside the hospice.
''We told them that unless they had the judge with them when they came, they were not going to get in,'' said a source with the local police.

Tom Delay and "The Bush" Base ---- Hail Jeebus

Man arrested for Michael Schiavo threat

Friday, March 25, 2005A man has been arrested and charged with offering a $250,000 reward for killing Michael Schiavo.Richard Alan Meywes was arrested in Fairview, North Carolina by the FBI and the Buncombe County Sheriff's Office.On March 23, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office forwarded an email to the FBI in Tampa which purportedly offered a $250,000 bounty on "the head of Michael Schiavo." The email placed an additional $50,000 bounty for the elimination of a judge who recently denied a request to intervene in the Schiavo case.

Wal-Mart Director Resigns After Probe

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A high-profile Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) board member resigned Friday after an internal probe turned up evidence of financial improprieties of up to half-a-million dollars.

Three Wal-Mart employees, including a company officer, also lost their jobs.
The world's largest retailer said it asked Thomas M. Coughlin, who is also a former president and CEO of the company's stores division, to step down because of "a disagreement" over the results of the probe, which involves between $100,000 and $500,000, and his "response to questions concerning his knowledge of certain transactions," according to a regulatory filing.

The Securities and Exchange Commission document does not directly state what role, if any, Coughlin, had in "the alleged unauthorized use of corporate-owned gift cards and personal reimbursements that appear to have been obtained ... through the reporting of false information on third-party invoices and Company expense reports."

In a separate statement, Bentonville-based Wal-Mart said that it did not expect any adverse financial impact from the investigation. The company did not name or otherwise identify the three fired employees and declined further comment Friday.

Transportation Bill Has $37 Million for Wal-Mart Headquarters Street

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) - The U.S. House has approved a federal highway bill that includes $37 million for widening and extending the Bentonville street that provides the main access to the headquarters of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

The company says it asked U.S. Rep. John Boozman, R-Ark., to help get federal money for the proposed project. U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, added an amendment that put the work into the $284 billion bill, which is now before the Senate. Wal-Mart spokesman Jay Allen said the company wants Eighth Street improved so the 10,000 workers at company headquarters will have an easier time getting to their jobs.

In the time Wal-Mart's headquarters has been at the site, the company has grown at a much greater rate than the street has been improved. Wal-Mart, as measured by sales, is the world's largest company. Wal-Mart has 20,000 employees in the Bentonville area; about half of them work at the company's headquarters.

"We have people living all over the area," Allen said. "Infrastructure in northwest Arkansas is a big issue for us. This would represent another east-west corridor connected to the interstate, which would benefit everybody."

Radical Iraqi cleric's follower calls for million-strong anti-US demo

KUFA, Iraq (AFP) - A follower of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr called for a million-strong demonstration in Iraq to demand a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops. "Passing laws that contradict Islam will be tantamount to treason to the marajaiya (religious authority) and not insisting on a timetable for an end to the occupation is even greater treason," said Sheikh Nasser al-Saedi in his sermon at the Grand Mosque in Kufa, south of Baghdad. "Last Friday I called for a million-strong demonstration to demand a timetable for the end of the occupation and I repeat this demand again and I call on all political forces to take part in this demonstration."

White House Payments to Columnist Probed

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Congressional investigators will look into whether the Bush administration violated any laws when it paid syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher to help promote a marriage initiative, Democratic Sens. Edward Kennedy and Frank Lautenberg said.
The Government Accountability Office told the two senators, who had requested the inquiry, that it would investigate in a letter sent to their offices late Thursday.

The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, is already looking into the Education Department's relationship with several public relations firms, which includes the agency's $240,000 contract with syndicated columnist and TV personality Armstrong Williams. The Education Department had hired Williams to promote the No Child Left Behind law.
The two senators had asked the GAO to expand its investigation to include Gallagher

WMD Commission Prepares to Release Report

WASHINGTON (AP) - None of the 15 U.S. agencies that collected or assessed intelligence on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is likely to be commended for doing an exemplary job, according to officials familiar with a report being prepared by a presidential commission.

The nine-member panel led by Republican Laurence Silberman, a retired federal appeals court judge, and Democrat Charles Robb, a former Senator from Virginia, is expected to issue its report on weapons of mass destruction next week. It's unclear how much of the report, which may run into the hundreds of pages, will be available to the public.

"I think questions had to be answered as to why we were so wrong," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a member of the commission. "We needed to have recommendations as to how to prevent something like this from ever happening again."

The commission also is highly critical of the agencies' performance on Iran, North Korea and Libya, individuals familiar with its findings said on condition of anonymity.

Man Trys Steal Gun to 'Rescue Schiavo'

SEMINOLE, Fla. -- A man was arrested after trying to steal a weapon from a gun shop so he could "take some action and rescue Terri Schiavo," authorities said. Michael W. Mitchell, of Rockford, Ill., entered Randall's Firearms Inc. in Seminole just before 6 p.m.

Thursday with a box cutter and tried to steal a gun, said Marianne Pasha, a spokeswoman for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

Mitchell, 50, told deputies he wanted to "take some action and rescue Terri Schiavo" after he visited the Pinellas Park hospice where she lives, Pasha said.

Randy McKenzie, the owner of Randall's Firearms, said Mitchell pulled out the box cutter and broke the glass on a couple of display cases.

"He told me if I wasn't on Terri's side then I wasn't on God's side, either," McKenzie told The Associated Press.

Congress measured on Schiavo after poll

WASHINGTON -- After Congress' high-profile entry into the Terri Schiavo case, most lawmakers responded in a low-key manner to yesterday's Supreme Court decision not to intervene in the dispute, underscoring the delicate political nature of the controversy.The measured reactions came as polls have shown public disapproval of Washington's actions in the matter.

The terse statements from Capitol Hill regarding the Supreme Court's decision contrasted with the spate of news conferences a week ago, when several lawmakers began pushing legislation to allow federal courts to review the Schiavo case.House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, who spearheaded that drive, issued a joint statement with House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., R-Wis., expressing "profound sadness and disappointment" with the court decision. But they suggested that there was nothing else that Congress could do in the Schiavo case.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

D. James Kennedy says governor must 'disregard' judge to save Terri

With all legal remedies apparently exhausted, a prominent evangelical Christian leader is urging Jeb Bush to disobey a judge's order barring the Florida governor from intervening to save the life of Terri Schiavo.

Nothing like a Nutty Extremist wanting to over-throw the Government for God.

Conservative Virgins donate Blood for Coulters Bath

When best-selling author Ann Coulter arrived at Charles Coughlin College in Lynchville, Illinois, Ceci Lawrence was shocked." She looked so different from her photos," the 22-year old co-ed marveled." She had these long, bony fingers, and her skin was all stretched and thin like rice paper, and I remember thinking during her speech: she looks like a talking kite." It was then that Ceci and several of her sorority sisters resolved to do something for their distinguished visitor."

Conservatives Split in Debate on Curbing Illegal Immigration

Washington Post Staff Writer

Friday, March 25, 2005; Page A02

Republican lawmakers are headed for a showdown over illegal immigration, an issue that exposes a deep and bitter rift within the GOP.

The drama will unfold when Congress returns early next month and turns to finish an emergency spending bill to fund the Iraq war. The House version, approved before the Easter break, carries tough immigration restrictions, reigniting a long-simmering battle with the Senate over how to deal with the growing illegal population.

It is a conflict that President Bush scarcely needs as he tries to unite his party behind contentious Social Security changes and judicial nominations. Meeting Wednesday with Mexican President Vicente Fox, Bush promised to continue pushing Congress for a program allowing temporary guest workers.

That accommodation is the opposite of what House conservatives are seeking with the crackdown on asylum seekers and state driver's-license requirements for illegal immigrants that they attached to the Iraq bill. Bush acknowledged the limits of his influence: "I'm not a member of the legislative branch," he told Fox.

The immigration debate pits one core GOP constituency (law-and-order conservatives) against another (business interests that rely on immigrant labor). One camp wants to tighten borders and deport people who are here illegally; the other seeks to bring illegal workers out of the shadows and acknowledge their growing economic importance.

WHo's Bullshittin Who Now DR Frist.....?

"I find it opportunistic to use the death of someone like Christopher Reeve -- I think it is shameful -- in order to mislead the American people," Frist said. "We should be offering people hope, but neither physicians, scientists, public servants or trial lawyers like John Edwards should be offering hype.

"It is cruel to people who have disabilities and chronic diseases, and, on top of that, it's dishonest. It's giving false hope to people, and I can tell you as a physician who's treated scores of thousands of patients that you don't give them false hope."

- Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist, October 2004

'Intelligence Fiasco' Stirs Up the Korean Peninsula

By Barbara Demick

Times Staff Writer

March 24, 2005

Some in the South believe U.S. officials overstated the North's nuclear activities. The flap roughly parallels the disputes over Iraq.

SEOUL — At a sensitive time when the United States is trying to build a consensus on North Korea, South Koreans are in a furor over allegations that Washington hyped intelligence about the North's nuclear activities.

The flap, which roughly parallels some of the disputes over Iraq, concerns a trip by National Security Council officials through Asia this year to present evidence to Chinese, Japanese and South Korean officials about North Korea's alleged role in supplying Libya with uranium hexafluoride. The gas is used to make weapons-grade uranium.

In a Washington Post report Sunday, two U.S. officials were quoted as saying the U.S. had covered up a key role played by Pakistan as middleman to bolster the case against North Korea as a dangerous proliferator of nuclear material.

North Korea and Pakistan are known to have exchanged weapons technology for years, so a transaction between them would not have been particularly shocking or new intelligence.
"Another Intelligence Fiasco," is how the English-language Korea Times referred to it in an article Wednesday.

The conservative newspaper, Chosun Ilbo, has demanded an investigation.
"If the U.S. administration really offered false information … Washington's credibility and morality would be in tatters," the Chosun editorialized under the headline, "Did Washington Lie to Seoul?"

Experts Warn Against Consumption Tax

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A poorly designed tax system overhaul to make the current income tax more like a consumption tax would be "the worst of all worlds," experts told a presidential commission Wednesday.
Bob Greenstein, founder and executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told the President's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform not to add consumption tax features, such as large tax-free savings accounts, to the income tax.
"That approach, I think, is the worst of all worlds," he said. "It's sort of a `what not to do.'"

Cheney attacks Powell, says U.S. diplomacy very weak until now

Big News

Commenting on proposed appointments of hard-liners John Bolton and Paul Wolfowitz Cheney said, "If we are going to be successful long-term in the war on terror and in the broader objective of promoting freedom and democracy in (Arab and Muslim parts) of the world, we have to get the public diplomacy piece of it right.

Up until now, that has been a very weak part of our arsenal."Colin Powell as Secretary of State has been the architect of U.S. diplomacy for the past four years and often was seen to be at odds with other Bush administration officials, principally the vice president.In an interview with the Washington Post Cheney said, "What the president has done ... is make some personnel changes that he felt would strengthen our capacity as an administration to achieve our objectives."

DeLay, Deny and Demagogue


Oh my God, we really are in a theocracy.

Are the Republicans so obsessed with maintaining control over all branches of government, and are the Democrats so emasculated about not having any power, that they are willing to turn the nation into a wholly owned subsidiary of the church?

The more dogma-driven activists, self-perpetuating pols and ratings-crazed broadcast media prattle about "faith," the less we honor the credo that a person's relationship with God should remain a private matter.

As the Bush White House desperately maneuvers in Iraq to prevent the new government from being run according to the dictates of religious fundamentalists, it desperately maneuvers here to pander to religious fundamentalists who want to dictate how the government should be run.

Maybe President Bush should spend less time preaching about spreading democracy around the world and more time worrying about our deteriorating democracy.
Even some Republicans seemed appalled at this latest illustration of Nietzsche's observation that "morality is the best of all devices for leading mankind by the nose."

As Christopher Shays, one of five House Republicans who voted against the bill to allow the Terri Schiavo case to be snatched from Florida state jurisdiction and moved to federal court, put it: "This Republican Party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy. There are going to be repercussions from this vote."

A CBS News poll yesterday found that 82 percent of the public was opposed to Congress and the president intervening in this case; 74 percent thought it was all about politics.
The president, who couldn't be dragged outdoors to talk about the more than a hundred thousand people who died in the horrific tsunami, was willing to be dragged out of bed to sign a bill about one woman his base had fixated on. But with the new polls, the White House seemed to shrink back a bit.

The scene on Capitol Hill this past week has been almost as absurdly macabre as the movie "Weekend at Bernie's," with Tom DeLay and Bill Frist propping up between them this poor woman in a vegetative state to indulge their own political agendas. Mr. DeLay, the poster child for ethical abuse, wanted to show that he is still a favorite of conservatives. Dr. Frist thinks he can ace out Jeb Bush to be 44, even though he has become a laughingstock by trying to rediagnose Ms. Schiavo's condition by video.

As one disgusted Times reader suggested in an e-mail: "Americans ought to send Bill Frist their requests: 'Dear Dr. Frist: Please watch the enclosed video and tell us if that mole on my mother's cheek is cancer. Does she need surgery?'"
Jeb, keeping up with the '08 competition, vainly tried to get Florida to declare Ms. Schiavo a ward of the state.

Republicans easily abandon their cherished principles of individual privacy and states rights when their personal ambitions come into play. The first time they snatched a case out of a Florida state court to give to a federal court, it was Bush v. Gore. This time, it's Bush v. Constitution.

While Senate Democrats like Hillary Clinton, who are trying to curry favor with red staters, meekly allowed the shameful legislation to be enacted, at least some Floridian House members decided to put up a fight, though they knew they couldn't win.

The president and his ideological partners don't believe in separation of powers. They just believe in their own power. First they tried to circumvent the Florida courts; now they're trying to pack the federal bench with conservatives and even blow up the filibuster rule. But they may yet learn a lesson on checks and balances, as the federal courts rebuffed them in the Schiavo case.

Mr. DeLay moved yesterday to file a friend of the court brief with the Supreme Court asking that Ms. Schiavo's feeding tube be restored while the federal court is deciding what to do. But as he exploits this one sad case, Mr. DeLay has voted to slash Medicaid by $15 billion, denying money to care for poor people in nursing homes, some on feeding tubes.

Mr. DeLay made his personal stake clear at a conference last Friday organized by the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group. He said that God had brought Terri Schiavo's struggle to the forefront "to help elevate the visibility of what's going on in America." He defined that as "attacks against the conservative movement, against me and against many others."

So it's not about her crisis at all. It's about his crisis.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

CBS: Political Fallout Over Schiavo Law

Congressional leaders have insisted their only motivation in getting involved in the Terri Schiavo case was saving a life. But Americans aren’t buying that argument, a CBS News poll finds. An overwhelming 82 percent of the public believes the Congress and President should stay out of the matter.

Just 13 percent of those polled think Congress intervened in the case out of concern for Schiavo, while 74 percent think it was all about politics. Of those polled, 66 percent said the tube should not be inserted compared to 27 percent who want it restored. The issue has generated strong feelings, with 78 percent of those polled -- wheter for either side of the issue -- saying they have strong feelings.

Public approval of Congress has suffered as a result; at 34 percent, it is the lowest it has been since 1997, dropping from 41 percent last month. Now at 43 percent, President Bush’s approval rating is also lower than it was a month ago.

Schwarzenegger Libel Suit Goes Forward


A second attempt to block a libel action brought by a UK TV presenter against Arnold Schwarzenegger and two aides has failed in the High Court.
Anna Richardson is suing the California governor and two of his aides over comments they made about her claims that he groped her in December 2000.

In January, the Appeal Court ruled the actor's spokesman could be served with UK libel proceedings abroad.
Now Mr Justice Eady has ruled the actor can also be served with proceedings.
Ms Richardson is suing Mr Schwarzenegger, his spokesman Sean Walsh and another publicist, Sheryl Main, claiming they tried to ruin her reputation by dismissing her assertions the Terminator star touched her breast during a press event at London's Dorchester Hotel.

She alleges that following her revelation, his spokespeople - Mr Walsh and Ms Main - libelled her in a Los Angeles Times article that also appeared on the internet.

Guardian ad Litem Dr. Jay Wolfson had this to say about the Schindlers:

In compiling his report for Governor Jeb Bush and the 6th Judicial Circuit of Florida,

"Testimony provided by members of the Schindler family included very personal statements about their desire and intention to ensure that Theresa remain alive. Throughout the course of the litigation, deposition and trial testimony by members of the Schindler family voiced the disturbing belief that they would keep Theresa alive at any and all costs. Nearly gruesome examples were given, eliciting agreement by family members that in the event Theresa should contract diabetes and subsequent gangrene in each of her limbs, they would agree to amputate each limb, and would then, were she to be diagnosed with heart disease, perform open heart surgery. There was additional, difficult testimony that appeared to establish that despite the sad and undesirable condition of Theresa, the parents still derived joy from having her alive, even if Theresa might not be at all aware of her environment given the persistent vegetative state. Within the testimony, as part of the hypotheticals presented, Schindler family members stated that even if Theresa had told them of her intention to have artificial nutrition withdrawn, they would not do it. Throughout this painful and difficult trial, the family acknowledged that Theresa was in a diagnosed persistent vegetative state."


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Coalition Forms to Oppose Parts of Antiterrorism Law


WASHINGTON, March 22 - Battle lines were drawn Tuesday in the debate over the government's counterterrorism powers, as an unlikely coalition of liberal civil-rights advocates, conservative libertarians, gun-rights supporters and medical privacy advocates voiced their objections to crucial parts of the law that expanded those powers after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Keeping the law intact "will do great and irreparable harm" to the Constitution by allowing the government to investigate people's reading habits, search their homes without notice and pry into their personal lives, said Bob Barr, a former Republican congressman who is leading the coalition.
Mr. Barr voted for the law, known as the USA Patriot Act, in the House just weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks but has become one of its leading critics, a shift that reflects the growing unease among some conservative libertarians over the expansion of the government's powers in fighting terrorism.
He joined with other conservatives as well as the American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday in announcing the creation of the coalition, which hopes to curtail some of the law's more sweeping law-enforcement provisions.

But Bush administration officials on Tuesday affirmed their strong support for the law as an indispensable tool in tracking, following and arresting terrorist suspects. As one of his top legislative priorities, President Bush has prodded Congress repeatedly to extend critical parts of the law that are set to expire at the year's end.

The coalition of liberals and conservatives said it had no quarrel with the majority of the expanded counterterrorism tools that the law provided, some of which amounted to modest upgrades in the government's ability to use modern technology in wiretapping phone calls and the like.

But the group said it would focus its efforts on urging Congress to scale back three provisions of the law that let federal agents conduct "sneak and peek" searches of a home or business without immediately notifying the subject of such searches; demand records from institutions like libraries and medical offices; and use a broad definition of terrorism in pursuing suspects.
The group, calling itself Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances, asked Mr. Bush in a letter Tuesday to reconsider his "unqualified endorsement" of the law.

Once Again They have Failed at Basic Journalism.

On March 22, both CNN's Live From... and Fox News' Fox and Friends aired interviews with Carla Sauer Iyer -- a former nurse for Terri Schiavo who in 2003 submitted an affidavit with inflammatory accusations against Terri's husband, Michael Schiavo -- but failed to report questions about Iyer's credibility. Judge George W. Greer, the Florida circuit judge who has presided over several aspects of the Schiavo case, dismissed Iyer's allegations as "incredible" and noted in a September 17, 2003, order that not even Terri Schiavo's parents sought her testimony in the case.

In both appearances, Iyer was presented as a former nurse for Terri Schiavo. Fox introduced her as a "registered nurse in Florida" who "cared for Terri for more than a year between '95 and 1996." In addition, on-screen text described Iyer as "Carla Sauer Iyer; Cared for Terri Schiavo." On CNN, Iyer was introduced as a "nurse who says that she cared for Terri Schiavo [for] more than a year in the mid-1990s." As with Fox, CNN's on-screen text described Iyer as "Terri Schiavo's former nurse." Another on-screen text line presented on CNN stated that Iyer "testified about Terri Schiavo's physical state." However, according to Greer's September 2003 order, Schiavo's parents had not subpoenaed Iyer to testify.

In both a 2003 court affidavit (
posted on the website operated by Terri's parents, Robert and Mary Schindler) and her March 22 cable appearances, Iyer maintained that Terri Schiavo was constantly "alert and oriented" while under her care, "saying such things as 'mommy,' and 'help me.' " She claimed that "Throughout my time at Palm Gardens, Michael Schiavo was focused on Terri's death. Michael would say 'When is she going to die?' 'Has she died yet?' and 'When is that bitch gonna die?' " The affidavit also included her claims that Michael Schiavo expressed the desire to "accelerate" Terri's death, that when Terri was sick and looked as if she might die, "He [Michael] would blurt out 'I'm going to be rich,' " and the assertion that "[i]t is my belief that Michael injected Terri with Regular insulin" to intentionally make her sick. She claimed in her affidavit that "I ultimately called the police relative to this situation, and was terminated the next day."

dismissed Iyer's charges, noting that they -- along with a similar affidavit given by Heidi Law, another nurse who formerly took care of Terri Schiavo -- were "incredible to say the least" and that "[n]either in the testimony nor in the medical records is there support for these affidavits as they purport to detail activities and responses of Terri Schiavo." From Greer's decision:

The remaining affidavits deal exclusively with events which allegedly occurred in the 1995-1997 time frame. The court feels constrained to discuss them. They are incredible to say the least. Ms. Iyer details what amounts to a 15-month cover-up which would include the staff of Palm Garden of Lago Convalescent Center, the Guardian of the Person, the Guardian ad Litem, the medical professionals, the police and, believe it or not, Mr. and Mrs. Schindler. Her affidavit clearly states that she would "call them (Mr. and Mrs. Schindler) anyway because I thought they should know about their daughter."

The affidavit of Ms. Law speaks of Terri responding on a constant basis. Neither in the testimony nor in the medical records is there support for these affidavits as they purport to detail activities and responses of Terri Schiavo. It is impossible to believe that Mr. and Mrs. Schindler would not have subpoenaed Ms. Iyer for the January 2000 evidentiary hearing had she contacted them as her affidavit alleges.

Has the GOP Conservatives finally had Enough of the Extremist in the GOP?

G.O.P. Right Is Splintered on Schiavo Intervention

WASHINGTON, March 22 - The vote by Congress to allow the federal courts to take over the Terri Schiavo case has created distress among some conservatives who say that lawmakers violated a cornerstone of conservative philosophy by intervening in the ruling of a state court.

The emerging debate, carried out against a rush of court decisions and Congressional action, has highlighted a conflict of priorities among conservatives and signals tensions that Republicans are likely to face as Congressional leaders and President Bush push social issues over the next two years, party leaders say.

"This is a clash between the social conservatives and the process conservatives, and I would count myself a process conservative," said David Davenport of the Hoover Institute, a conservative research organization. "When a case like this has been heard by 19 judges in six courts and it's been appealed to the Supreme Court three times, the process has worked - even if it hasn't given the result that the social conservatives want. For Congress to step in really is a violation of federalism."

Stephen Moore, a conservative advocate who is president of the Free Enterprise Fund, said: "I don't normally like to see the federal government intervening in a situation like this, which I think should be resolved ultimately by the family: I think states' rights should take precedence over federal intervention. A lot of conservatives are really struggling with this case."

Some more moderate Republicans are also uneasy. Senator John W. Warner of Virginia, the sole Republican to oppose the Schiavo bill in a voice vote in the Senate, said: "This senator has learned from many years you've got to separate your own emotions from the duty to support the Constitution of this country.

These are fundamental principles of federalism."
"It looks as if it's a wholly Republican exercise," Mr. Warner said, "but in the ranks of the Republican Party, there is not a unanimous view that Congress should be taking this step."
In interviews over the past two days, conservatives who expressed concern about the turn of events in Congress stopped short of condemning the vote in which overwhelming majorities supported the Schiavo bill, and they generally applauded the goal of trying to keep Ms. Schiavo alive.

But they said they were concerned about what precedent had been set and said the vote went against Republicans who were libertarian, advocates of states' rights or supporters of individual rights.