Saturday, April 30, 2005

War Hawk John Bolton, Wimp

A Vietnam hawk who remained stateside.

Scratch a saber-rattler, find a war wimp. You can just about set your watch by it, can't you? So it's entirely unsurprising to read the following about John Bolton, Yale '70, in the Yale Daily News:

Though Bolton supported the Vietnam War, he declined to enter combat duty, instead enlisting in the National Guard and attending law school after his 1970 graduation. "I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy," Bolton wrote of his decision in the 25th reunion book. "I considered the war in Vietnam already lost."

Link

Harness Racing Reults for 04-30-04

Record since 04-26-05

Win (11)

Place (3)

Show (1)

Out of the Money (6)

****************************

Northfield Park

Race # 8

Horse: GRANDPA IKE (Out of the Money)

Post Position: # 1


********************

Cal-Expo

Race # 3

Horse: SHINE (Out of the Money)


Post Position: # 3


Race # 8

Horse: NEW AGE OUTLAW (Won)

Post Position: # 5


*******************

Woodbine

Race # 11

Horse: PONDER (Won)

Post Position: # 1


****************************

Fraser Downs

Race # 3

Horse: BETTERFROMBEHIND (Won)

Post Position: # 2

Amazing what you can find by Googling - Bush Crime Family II

BOISE, Idaho - A woman once held up by the Bush administration as a crusader against domestic violence is now facing kidnapping and drug charges.


Barbara Dehl, 49, conspired with her live-in boyfriend and another man to abduct a young couple after the three found money, jewelry and drugs missing from Dehl's safe, police said in court documents.

Dehl was indicted by a grand jury this week on two felony counts of kidnapping and one count of trafficking methamphetamine. The men also were indicted on a variety of charges.

All were in custody awaiting arraignment May 4, and they were appointed public defenders. Dehl's lawyer, Joseph Ellsworth, was not immediately available for comment reachable by telephone Friday.

snip

In 2002, Dehl was appointed by Attorney General John Ashcroft to serve on the National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women. She attended a ceremony at the White House the next year when President Bush announced initiatives to combat domestic violence.


Link

Amazing what you can find by Googling - Bush Crime Family

WASHINGTON - A former deputy undersecretary for safe and drug free schools at the Education Department pleaded guilty to charging the government for personal travel, including trips to Texas where he continued working as a visiting judge while employed in Washington.


Eric Andell pleaded guilty to one count of conflict of interest, the Justice Department said Friday. He faces up to one year in prison and has agreed to reimburse the federal government $8,659.85. He will be sentenced July 29.

The charge stems from expenses on 14 trips from late 2002 to September 2003 that federal authorities say were motivated in part by his desire to accrue service time toward receipt of a pension from the state of Texas.

Andell, a former justice for the First Court of Appeals in Texas, made seven trips to Houston where he acted as a visiting state judge, according to documents filed in the case.

Harness Racing Picks for 04-30-05

My New Feature for My Blog: My Harness Racing Picks for The Day, started on 04-26-05.


Record since 04-26-05

Win (8)

Place (3)

Show (1)

Out of the Money (4)

****************************

Northfield Park

Race # 8

Horse: GRANDPA IKE

Post Position: # 1


********************

Cal-Expo

Race # 3

Horse: SHINE

Post Position: # 3


Race # 8

Horse: NEW AGE OUTLAW

Post Position: # 5


*******************

Woodbine

Race # 11

Horse: PONDER

Post Position: # 1


****************************


Fraser Downs

Race # 3

Horse: BETTERFROMBEHIND

Post Position: # 2

Italy Pursues Criminal Probe Into Agent's Killing

ROME, April 30 (Reuters) - Italy asked its state prosecutors on Saturday to step up their probe into the killing of an Italian agent by U.S. troops in Iraq after the two allies failed to reach agreement in a joint investigation.

The dispute over the killing of intelligence officer Nicola Calipari in Baghdad on March 4 has strained ties between the two countries and prompted fresh criticism of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's staunch support for the war in Iraq.

U.S. soldiers killed Calipari when they opened fire on a car heading for Baghdad airport in which he was escorting Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, who had just been released by kidnappers.

U.S. officials said the soldiers followed their rules of engagement in firing on the car as it moved toward a checkpoint and should not be punished.

Italy has disputed this and Rome prosecutors opened a murder investigation last month into the death of Calipari, hailed as a hero in Italy for shielding Sgrena from U.S. gunfire.

"As far as Italy is concerned, it will be up to the judiciary to do everything it can, obviously with the support of the government," Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini said after the allies announced their joint investigation had failed.

Media tycoon Berlusconi, who faces a general election in 2006, said he will report on the case to parliament next week.

Voter for "The Bush" Says He Was Conned...

Locals discuss social security, energy policy


The 76-year-old retiree from Stewartstown said he voted for President Bush in 2004, but now he feels "conned." As Bush prepared Thursday to discuss his plans for remodeling both Social Security and the nation's energy policy with reporters, Waters and other senior citizens from York County expressed their views about the president's proposals.

Waters said he worries for future generations of his family.

"I feel that something has to be done to fix the shortfall that will occur," Waters said of federal projections that Social Security could be bankrupt in less than 40 years. "I'd hate to see my kids get gobbled up in that system."

Still, he said, private accounts — the mainstay of the Bush proposal — are not the answer.

During a live news conference Thursday night, Bush pushed for a Social Security plan that would allow for private retirement accounts for Americans born after 1955 but could also bring reductions in some benefits in the future.

Melvin Fifer, a 69-year-old former engineering manager, favored Bush's plan.

"I think it's something that young people need," he said, before the president's speech. Fifer added that his children, whose benefits would be affected under the president's proposals, also support Bush.

Pat Halsted, 76, of Delta, who opted for Bush's Democratic opponent, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., in the 2004 election, resisted Bush's proposals, saying the system should not be changed.

"He wants to invest money that isn't his," she said.

Bush also addressed high gas prices. The House last week passed a controversial $8.1 billion energy bill that Bush and other lawmakers had conceded did nothing to immediately curb prices at the pump, despite several major initiatives.

"There will be no price gouging at gas pumps in America," Bush said Thursday night. Bush told reporters fixing the nation's energy problems would take time, and he suggested passing his energy policy was a necessary step.

The House bill calls for decreased dependence on foreign oil, but Clark Thomas doesn't buy it.

"That's just a smoke screen, in my opinion," said the 72-year-old York retiree. "And going into Iraq didn't help. I think it's made it worse."

A discouraged Waters said the president's appeals were doing little to change his mind. "I'm not a very religious guy, but every night I pray for the executive branch to gain some wisdom."

John Bolton Update


George Bush and the Senate Republican leadership continue to prop up John Bolton's nomination for UN Ambassador -- despite overwhelming evidence that Bolton is the absolute wrong choice for the job.

More than 20,000 people have already emailed the White House through my PAC for a Change website, calling on President Bush to replace John Bolton with a new UN nominee that all Americans can support.

But with the Senate out on recess next week, I need you to keep the pressure on the White House. We can't stop now.

Email George Bush and tell him to withdraw John Bolton's nomination now!

It's clear that the right-wing Republicans aren't going to back down on Bolton without a fight.
Just this week, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Dick Lugar scheduled a final committee vote on Bolton for May 12th, applying pressure on undecided Republican committee members by publicly vowing that they would confirm Bolton and move his nomination to the floor of the Senate.

And in a nationally televised press conference Thursday evening, President Bush reaffirmed his support of John Bolton, calling him a "blunt guy" who "can get the job done at the United Nations."

Well I think that a man like John Bolton who has shown nothing but contempt for the United Nations throughout his entire career, repeatedly abused and bullied subordinates, and attempted to pressure intelligence analysts to give him the answers he wants to hear is unfit to be America's chief representative at the United Nations.

If you agree, please stand with me -- tell George Bush to send us a new UN nominee now!

Thanks so much for your support on this critical issue. At a time when our nation must focus on rebuilding relationships with our friends and allies around the world, America simply can't afford to have John Bolton representing us in such an important diplomatic post.
In Friendship,

Barbara Boxer

Harness Racing Results for 04-29-05

Record since 04-26-05

Win (8)

Place (3)

Show (1)

Out of the Money (4)

****************************

Freehold Raceway

Race # 1

Horse: STRIKING GATOR (Won)

Post Position: # 5


Race # 4

Horse: GREAT GEORGE TWO (Won)

Post Position: # 3


********************

Meadowlands Raceway

Race # 5

Horse: MR MUSCLEMAN (Won)

Post Position: # 6


*******************

Pocono Downs

Race # 2

Horse: PLEASING PACKAGE (Place)

Post Position: # 6

Friday, April 29, 2005

Right-Wing Fundies SEIZE Air America Outlet in Warren-Youngstown

One of the minority owners, a Mike Arch, is a Fundie Christian, and this week provided keys to a group that occupied the station, changed the locka and began running Right-Wing Christian Talk. It took police and other city officials severasl hours to get them to surrender peacefully. In the meantime they were operating the station in violation of federal law, and putting Right-Wing posters and signs in the windows.

WARREN - Incidents Wednesday and Thursday turned WANR-AM into an off-the-Air America affiliate.
The downtown radio station was unable to broadcast its regular programming for several hours both days. Station manager Tim Continenza said a person known to management and one or more accomplices entered the studio on Courthouse Square after 9 a.m. Wednesday.


"We had a board operator (on duty) who, with permission, locked the building and left to run an errand,'' Continenza said. "When he returned, they were in control of the radio station ... They posted signs that Beacon Broadcasting was under new management. They changed the locks and changed the programming.''
The station switched its format earlier this month to programming primarily from Air America, a liberal/progressive syndicated talk radio network currently heard in 53 markets nationwide and on satellite and Internet radio.


Don Hanni III, whose local talk show airs on the station from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays, said they have a lease management agreement with license owner Beacon Broadcasting to operate the station, and Continenza said they are in compliance with that agreement.
Mike Arch of Beacon Broadcasting declined to comment Thursday.

Continenza said the station contacted Warren police, City Law Director Greg Hicks and Warren Redevelopment and Planning (which owns the building). Those occupying the station left peacefully and regular programming resumed about 12:40 p.m. Wednesday.

No charges have been filed in connection with the incident, but Continenza said they notified the FCC that they did not have control of the station for several hours Wednesday, and they have been in contact with Air America officials in New York.

Two Detail Bolton's Efforts to Punish Dissent

A former senior Bush administration official told Senate staff members yesterday that John R. Bolton, the president's nominee for ambassador to the United Nations, sought to punish two State Department officials for disagreeing with him on nonproliferation issues, congressional sources said.

And a former CIA chief, disputing Bolton, said the nominee had tried to fire a national intelligence officer who believed Bolton was exaggerating evidence on Cuba, they said.
John S. Wolf, who served as assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation and as President Bush's senior envoy to the Middle East until last year, and Alan Foley, who ran the CIA's weapons of mass destruction office, were two of six people who were interviewed by staff members on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Cont.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1952

Quote:

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs,you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things. Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

ACTION ALERT ON SENATOR ORRIN HATCH: LIAR

From the Democratic Policy Committee:

Senator Hatch, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, has argued on the Senate floor that in defeating the nomination of Justice Priscilla Owen to the Fifth Circuit, the Judiciary Committee has "rejected for the first time in history a nominee who has received the American Bar Association's (ABA) unanimous rating, highest rating of `well-qualified'"...

==========

More than a dozen of President Clinton's Circuit Court nominees received the American Bar Association's (ABA) unanimous "well-qualified" rating, but their nominations were defeated because their hearings were rejected by Republicans.

CALL ORRIN HATCH'S OFFICE AT (202) 224-5251.

If Line is Busy or your cheap like me you can use this number:

To call a Senator Toll Free US Capitol: FREE NUMBER: 1-877-762-8762

Website contact page: Senator Orrin Hatch

Fax: (202) 224-6331


Tell the person who answers the phone that you're aware of Senator Hatch's claim that Owen was the first ABA highly-qualified nominee to be denied a vote. Then read the following names to them:

Circuit Court nominees from 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000 in this category that were denied a vote: H. Alston Johnson (5th Circuit), James Duffy (9th Circuit), Kathleen McCree-Lewis (6th Circuit), Enrique Moreno (5th Circuit), James Lyons (10th Circuit), Robert Cindrich (3rd Circuit), Stephen Orlofsky (3rd Circuit), Andre Davis (4th Circuit), James Beaty (4th Circuit), and J. Rich Leonard (4th Circuit).

Harness Racing Picks for 04-29-05

Freehold Raceway

Race # 1

Horse: STRIKING GATOR

Post Position: # 5


Race # 4

Horse: GREAT GEORGE TWO

Post Position: # 3


********************

Meadowlands Raceway

Race # 5

Horse: MR MUSCLEMAN

Post Position: # 6


*******************

Pocono Downs

Race # 2

Horse: PLEASING PACKAGE

Post Position: # 6

Harness Racing Results for 04-28-05

Record since 04-26-05

Win (5)

Place (2)

Show (1)

Out of the Money (4)

****************************

Cal-Expo

Race # 2

Horse: FUNNYWHITESHOES (Won)

Post Position: # 6

********************

Plainridge Race Course

Race # 10

Horse: IDYL RIVER CHRIS (Place)

Post Position: # 4


*******************

The Meadows Race Track

Race # 1

Horse: MUSTANG SPUR (Show)

Post Position: # 2


Race # 6

Horse: BIG CHARMER (Won)

Post Position: # 5

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Dems Not Shaken by Threats of Ethics Complaints From GOP

After an article today said Republicans will likely file ethics charges against Democrats in the wake of ethics woes circling House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), Democratic aides are unshaken, believing they will emerge on top should the GOP file ethics complaints against them in retaliation, RAW STORY has found.

Sibel Edmonds Will Run Ads Naming Names if Congress Doesn't Act

If Congress does not take action, Edmonds said, the coalition is prepared to run newspaper ads publicizing the names and salaries of individual managers who are alleged to have committed wrongdoing.

An unprecedented group of national security whistleblowers have formed a united front as the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC). They will collectively attend two bipartisan congressional meetings today to demand that Congress act to end government retaliation against those who expose national security blunders, that Congress hold hearings into the federal government’s actions against whistleblowers, and that Congress act to require ‘individual accountability’ for retaliation against whistleblowers.

The congressional meetings will be followed by a press conference featuring speakers from the NSWBC and guest speakers.

Speakers:
Sibel Edmonds, Former Language Specialist, FBIColeen Rowley, Retired Agent and former division counsel, FBIJohn Vincent, Veteran Special Agent, FBIMike German, Veteran Special Agent, FBIRuss Tice, Senior Intelligence Analyst & Action Officer, NSAJesselyn Radack, Former Counsel, DOJGuest Speakers: Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA)Mark Zaid, attorney, Krieger Zaid LLCProfessor William Weaver, University of Texas Danielle Brian, Director, Project on Government Oversight (POGO)Tom Devine, Legal Director, Government Accountability Project (GAP)Dan Ellsberg, Founder, Truth Telling Project

Arnold Schwarzenegger's Ratings Terminating

SACRAMENTO - What once seemed unthinkable has now become a reality: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's approval ratings have plummeted to Gray Davis levels, and the cornerstone of his ''Year For Reform'' agenda is on shaky ground.

In 90 days, Schwarzenegger's popularity has tumbled by 20 points and potential voters are now voicing doubt about the state spending restrictions the Republican governor wants them to approve in a special election this fall.


Just 40 percent of Californians think Schwarzenegger is doing a good job and half say he's faring poorly, according to the non-partisan survey by the Public Policy Institute of California released today.

"The Bush" War on Terror is a Failure

Last year there were 651 significant international terrorist attacks worldwide, resulting in 1,907 killed and 6,704 wounded. That compares to 175 incidents in 2003.

U.S. Says More Terrorist Groups Are Seeking Deadliest Weapons

April 28 (Bloomberg) -- An increasing number of terrorist groups are seeking weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. State Department said yesterday in a report on global terrorism.
``Although al-Qaeda remains the primary concern regarding possible WMD threats, the number of groups expressing interest in such material is increasing, and WMD technology and know-how is proliferating in the jihadist community,'' the report said.


The annual report included an overview of terrorist attacks worldwide in 2004. The report found that although there were military campaigns against insurgents and terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan, improvements in homeland security and deepening counterterrorism cooperation worldwide, ``international terrorism continued to pose a significant threat to the United States and its partners in 2004.''

Ex-GOP Figure Faces $81,000 Bill in Yacht Tax

Jack E. Robinson, the one-time Republican candidate who once declared ''tax avoidance is perfectly legal," has failed in his attempt to avoid paying $20,000 in sales tax on his 49-foot luxury yacht, and it will cost him dearly.

Robinson, who two years ago led an unsuccessful campaign to abolish the auto excise tax in Massachusetts, now faces a bill that has quadrupled to $81,000, as a result of a ruling by the state's Appellate Tax Board, along with penalties, interest, and fees.

In a decision rendered this month, the tax board rejected Robinson's argument that the $400,000 yacht that he purchased in early 2000 was exempt from Massachusetts sales tax because he was planning to berth it at a mooring in Newport, R.I. Robinson did not return calls to his law office last week and yesterday.

Robinson had signed a sworn statement dated Sept. 9, 2000, that said the boat was delivered to him in Newport. But the tax board found that the boat never left Massachusetts. The boat, a French-built Beneteau 50 that he named Excalibur, was housed the entire eight months that he owned it at a Cape Cod marina, according to the tax board.
Cont.

Big GOP Donor is Target of Federal Probe

Federal authorities confirmed yesterday that they are investigating prominent Republican donor Thomas W. Noe, who was President Bush’s re-election chairman in northwestern Ohio and has given tens of thousands to GOP candidates.

U.S. Attorney Gregory A. White in Cleveland said the investigation of Noe, of Maumee, is related to campaign contributions. He declined to elaborate.

"We are publicly acknowledging there is an investigation," White said. "It is ongoing."
He said the investigation has been proceeding "for several months" but that there’s no date for completing it.

Sources said a federal search warrant of Noe’s River Road home was executed last night.
When Noe declined to explain the origin of at least $25,000 that ended up with the Bush campaign, the search warrant was executed, one source said.

The source said a dozen other public officials or associates from Lucas County were being questioned regarding $2,000 checks they gave to the Bush campaign in 2003-04.
All of the contributions reportedly originated in the same bank account but were divvied up to circumvent a $2,000 federal limit on individual contributors.

Noe, who is chairman of the Ohio Turnpike Commission and a member of the Ohio Board of Regents, couldn’t be reached last night.

His attorney, John Richardson, told the Associated Press that Noe is aware of the investigation but that no specific allegations have been made.
Noe’s wife, Bernadette, hung up when reached on her cell phone.

Ohio Republican Party Chairman Robert T. Bennett said he was unaware of the investigation but that, to his knowledge, no one has requested any information from his office.

Thomas Noe, the Lucas County Republican Party chairman from 1992-95, became one of 30 "pioneers" or "rangers" from Ohio for his role in raising more than $100,000 for the Bush campaign in 2004.

Cont.

The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions

On C-SPAN 2 this Sat.April 30 at 10:30 am ET

Description: David Ray Griffin takes a critical look at the official 9/11 Commission Report put out by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.

Professor Griffin argues that the "omissions and distortions" in the report amount to a cover-up by government officials and says that the available evidence suggests that the Bush administration was complicit in the 9/11 attacks (either by ignoring known threats or through actual participation in the planning of the attacks).


Professor Griffin asks a series of questions which he says have been either inadequately answered or completely ignored by the commission
Cont.

Let the Stealing Begin...Chalabi Heads Oil Ministry

BBC

MPs in Iraq have approved a new government by a large majority despite failure to agree on several top posts.Seven posts were left vacant, including oil and defence, but Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari promised that they would be filled very soon.

...Prime Minister Jaafari will temporarily head the defence ministry while prominent Shia politician Ahmed Chalabi will act as oil minister.

Mr Chalabi, once a Pentagon favourite but who fell out with the US, will take one of the deputy prime minister's posts.

Harness Racing Picks for 04-28-05

Cal-Expo Race Track

Race # 2

Horse: FUNNYWHITESHOES

Post Position: # 6

********************

Plainridge Race Course

Race # 10

Horse: IDYL RIVER CHRIS

Post Position: # 4


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The Meadows Race Track

Race # 1

Horse: MUSTANG SPUR

Post Position: # 2


Race # 6

Horse: BIG CHARMER

Post Position: # 5

Italy Opens Its Own Probe of Agent's Slaying in Iraq

ROME, April 27 -- Dissatisfied with the results of a joint investigation with the United States, Italy on Wednesday began its own probe into the March 4 killing of one of its intelligence agents by U.S. troops in Baghdad.

Italian officials said Rome prosecutors were looking for evidence of homicide in the case of Nicola Calipari, who was transporting a rescued Italian hostage to the Baghdad airport when U.S. soldiers opened fire on their car. The bullet-scarred Toyota Corolla was brought to Rome on Tuesday.


The prosecutors have demanded the names of the soldiers who were involved, but the Pentagon has denied the request, Italian officials said.

The Italian move follows the release this week of partial findings from the joint American-Italian investigation. The Americans concluded that their soldiers were not at fault and had observed the proper rules of engagement for firing at a suspicious vehicle, according to unnamed Pentagon officials. Two Italian investigators who took part in the probe have so far refused to sign on to the findings.

Harness Racing Results for 04-27-05

Record since 04-26-05

Won (3)

Place (1)

Lost (4)

*******************

Freehold Raceway

Race # 3

Horse: AGASSI (Won)

Post Position: # 1

*******************

The Maywood Raceway

Race # 6

Horse: AWARING LEDEW (Placed)

Post Position: # 3

******************

Pompano Park

Race # 2

Horse: BETWEEN THE LINES (Won)

Post Position: # 3

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

DeLay Is Likely to Be Found Culpable Experts Weigh Potential Defense

WP

Now that it's clear that his controversial private-paid trips abroad will be put under a microscope in Congress, Tom DeLay is in serious danger of being declared in violation of House ethics rules, legal experts say.

Lawyers who specialize in ethics cases believe that the Republican House majority leader from Texas might be in technical breach of at least a few congressional regulations. According to published reports, a registered foreign agent paid for one of DeLay's overseas trips and a registered lobbyist used his credit card to pay for another foreign airfare -- actions the rules prohibit.

DeLay may also have accepted gifts that exceeded congressional limits, taken an expense-paid trip overseas for longer than the rules allow and not disclosed all of the benefits he received.

"It appears from news reports that there were aspects of his trips that did not comply with the ethics rules," said Jan W. Baran, a lawyer and ethics expert.

These experts say the best chance for DeLay to be vindicated -- or to get little more than a slap on the wrist in an ethics inquiry -- is if he's able to convince a congressional committee that he was unaware of what the lobbyists did.

Schwarzenegger Angers Turks with Genocide Reference

The Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has provoked large protests in Turkey by describing the World War I massacre of Armenians in Turkey as genocide.Governor Schwarzenegger may have been caught off guard by the backlash in Turkey over his decision to declare a 'Day of Remembrance for the Armenian Genocide'.

Within hours of the California Governor using the term 'genocide' to describe the massacre of Armenians 90 years ago, furious Turks were demanding that every movie starring the former actor should be banned from Turkish television.Turkey fiercely denies Armenian claims that up to 1.5 million of their kin were systematically killed during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, saying most were victims of civil unrest, and that the figures are grossly inflated.

World Terror Attacks Tripled in 2004 by U.S. Count- Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. count of major world terrorist attacks more than tripled in 2004, a rise that may revive debate on whether the Bush administration is winning the war on terrorism, congressional aides said on Tuesday.

Iraqi Forces Desert Posts as Insurgent Attacks are Stepped Up

Iraqi army and police units are deserting their posts after the recent escalation in insurgent attacks, according to reports from around the country yesterday.The end of a relative period of calm after the election has posed the first real test for the embryonic security forces since coalition troops started cutting back on their military operations in February.

On average 20 Iraqis and two coalition soldiers have died every day this month.Suspected Sunni insurgents set off two bombs yesterday near a Shia mosque in Baghdad that killed at least 15 people.

Harness Racing Picks for 04-27-05

Freehold Raceway
Race # 3
Horse: AGASSI
Post Position: # 1

********************

The Mayfield Raceway
Race # 5
Horse: FOX VALLEY FRANCIS
Post Position: # 7

Race # 6
Horse: AWARING LEDEW
Post Position: # 3

*******************

Pompano Park
Race # 2
Horse: BETWEEN THE LINES
Post Position: # 3

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Results for 04-26-05

Was 1 and 3 :

Yonkers Raceway

Race # 4

Horse: Camelia Classic (Won)

Post Position: # 3

SCHWARZENEGGER LAMBASTED OVER SEXIST JOKE

California Governor ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER has been branded a sexist again - after mocking pre-menstrual stress during a shocking live radio interview.The actor-turned-politician sparked outrage last year when he called his Democrat rivals "girlie men".And he fuelled his reputation as a misogynist last night when he told outspoken DJ HOWARD STERN he wanted to remove the moon, to prevent the mood swings women suffer before their monthly periods.Schwarzenegger explained, "If we get rid of the moon, women, whose menstrual cycles are governed by the moon, will not get PMS. They will stop bitching and whining."

Source: Ethics chairman concedes that G-O-P must reconsider rules

CAPITOL HILL There's word the chairman of the House ethics committee is having second thoughts about rules changes that the Republicans pushed through in January.A senior G-O-P aide says chairman Doc Hastings has privately conceded that his colleagues must vote again on the changes if they hope to break a deadlock that's virtually shut the panel down.

Hastings' conclusion may be unpopular with some Republicans. Since the changes were made in January, G-O-P lawmakers have had to defend themselves from accusations that they were seeking to protect Majority Leader Tom DeLay from further investigation.
Democrats have made it clear they won't break the deadlock on the evenly divided committee unless the rules are reversed.

Time Mag: Gifts in High Places - Did DeLay staffers violate ethics rules?

Lobbyist Jack Abramoff gave expensive gifts to key members of then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay's staff, which the aides accepted in apparent violation of House ethics rules, according to two sources who worked at Abramoff's law firm at the time Abramoff made the gifts.

The gifts included high-end golf equipment, tickets to sporting events and concerts and, in the case of one high-ranking DeLay staff member, a weekend getaway paid for by Abramoff's own frequent flyer and hotel points, two sources who had direct knowledge of the transactions tell TIME.

The two sources say that one recipient of the gifts, including the weekend trip and expensive golf clubs, was Tony C. Rudy, who worked for DeLay for five years and served at various times as DeLay's press secretary, policy director, general counsel and deputy chief of staff when DeLay was House Majority Whip.

When Rudy left DeLay's office in 2002, he joined Abramoff at Greenberg Traurig, the firm that hired Abramoff in December 2000. Rudy now works at Alexander Strategy Group, a lobbying firm headed by former DeLay Chief of Staff Ed Buckham. A spokesman for Abramoff said he is unavailable for comment. Rudy has not returned repeated calls requesting comment.

Records Show DeLay, Lobbyist Daily Contact

WASHINGTON - Tom DeLay and his top aides were often in daily contact with lobbyist Jack Abramoff during the mid-1990s as the lobbyist made campaign contributions and arranged travel for the House leader while seeking legislative help for a multimillion-dollar client, according to law firm records made public for the first time.

DeLay's office kept Abramoff, now under criminal investigation, routinely apprised of congressional efforts to block new regulations on his client, the Northern Mariana Islands.Abramoff's firm reported it drafted legislative materials for DeLay, and Abramoff boasted to island leaders he could use his close ties to Republican leaders to block legislation from receiving a House vote.

They provide a day-by-day account of the lobbyist's campaign of fundraising, trip-providing and schmoozing with lawmakers in both parties aimed at getting Congress to block Clinton administration efforts to regulate alleged "sweatshop" garment factories in the Northern Marianas. Those rules were never enacted.

HAHAHAHA, "The Bush" cracks me up....Veto.....HAHAHA

Bush Threatens Veto on Highway Bill

HAHAHAHA, "The Bush" must have thought of this move on his own.

Bush Adds DeLay to Social Security Tour

CRAWFORD, Texas - President Bush is adding a helper to his Social Security road tour: House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who is facing allegations of ethical improprieties but is seen by the White House as crucial to pushing Bush's plans through Congress.

In Galveston, Texas, on Tuesday, Bush was discussing his proposal to add private investment accounts to Social Security. DeLay was scheduled to attend the event with the president and, along with a few other Republican members of Congress from Texas, fly back to Washington with him on Air Force One.
Cont.

This Didn't Take Long. LAT: Faith 'War' Rages in U.S., Judge Says

WASHINGTON — Just days after a bitterly divided Senate committee voted along party lines to approve her nomination as a federal appellate court judge, California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown told an audience Sunday that people of faith were embroiled in a "war" against secular humanists who threatened to divorce America from its religious roots, according to a newspaper account of the speech.

Brown's remarks come as a partisan battle over judges has evolved into a national debate over the proper mix of God and government and as Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) ponders changing the chamber's rules to prevent Democrats from using procedural moves to block confirmation of conservative jurists such as Brown.

Her comments to a gathering of Roman Catholic legal professionals in Darien, Conn., came on the same day as "Justice Sunday: Stop the Filibuster Against People of Faith," a program produced by evangelical leaders and simulcast on the Internet and in homes and churches around the country. It was designed to paint opponents of Bush's judicial nominees as intolerant of believers.

Though unrelated to that program, Brown's remarks sounded similar themes.
Cont.

My New Feature for My Blog: My Harness Racing Picks for The Day

Something I do is play Harness Races. Each day I will post my picks with the results posted the following day. Somedays there might not be any Picks Posted, reason being there is nothing worth playing.

Today's Picks 04-26-05


The Meadows Raceway


Race # 9
Horse: Futurity Hanover
Post Position: # 5

*******************

Harrington Raceway

Race # 2
Horse:
Iced Yankee
Post Position: # 7


******************

Yonkers Raceway

Race # 4
Horse: Camelia Classic
Post Position: # 3


Long Shot:

Plainridge Race Course

Race # 7
Horse: Jason’s Jiffy
Post Position: # 7

Monday, April 25, 2005

Ex-Officials Say Bolton Inflated Syrian Danger

John R. Bolton clashed repeatedly with American intelligence officials in 2002 and 2003 as he sought to deliver warnings about Syrian efforts to acquire unconventional weapons that the Central Intelligence Agency and other experts rejected as exaggerated, according to former intelligence officials.

Ultimately, the former intelligence officials said, most of what Mr. Bolton, then an under secretary of state, said publicly about Syria hewed to the limits on which the C.I.A. and other agencies had insisted. But they said that the prolonged and heated disputes over Mr. Bolton's proposed remarks were unusual within government, and that they reflected what one former senior official called a pattern in which Mr. Bolton sought to push his public assertions beyond the views endorsed by intelligence agencies.
Cont.

Reports: Italy, U.S. Differ on Agent Death

ROME (AP) - Italy and the United States disagree over the findings of an investigation into the accidental shooting death by U.S. soldiers of an Italian intelligence agent in Baghdad, news reports said Monday.

One report said Italians on the panel were refusing to sign off on the U.S. conclusions.
Italian state TV said both sides were trying for last-minute mediation to reconcile ``contrasting versions'' of the shooting by Italian and U.S. investigators.

The agent, Nicola Calipari, has been hailed as a national hero in Italy since he died on March 4 as he tried to shield a freed Italian hostage he was accompanying to the Baghdad airport shortly after she was released by her kidnappers.

Without citing sources, Rome daily Il Messaggero said the American conclusions ``exculpate from every accusation'' the U.S. soldiers.
Cont.

Kennedy seeks Iraq war 'justice'

BBC

Every Labour and Conservative candidate should be held to account by voters over the Iraq war, Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy has argued.
Mr Kennedy said Tony Blair had taken the UK into an illegal war and voters could deliver "justice by the ballot box" at the general election.


Tory leader Michael Howard says the war was right but Mr Blair lied about it.
Mr Blair says he was given clear advice the war was lawful and argues he is not asking voters to endorse his decision.
With 10 days to polling day, Labour is focusing on its efforts to regenerate the UK's cities while the Conservatives publish their manifesto for businesses.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Rich Americans Less Confident in Economy

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wealthy Americans felt less secure in the economy's strength in the latest quarter, but their fears are unlikely to thwart spending and investment plans, a survey published on Monday found.
McDonald Financial Group said its Affluent Consumer Confidence index fell to 50 this month from 55 in January, when the poll was last conducted.

China Rejects U.S. Pressure for Early Relaxation of Currency Controls, Criticizes U.S. Trade Deficit

BEIJING (AP) - A Chinese official rejected U.S. pressure for an early end to China's currency controls and said Washington should take action on its own soaring trade deficits instead of blaming other countries for its economic woes.

The comments Sunday by an official of China's foreign exchange regulator came after President Bush and other officials called on Beijing last week to end its policy of tying the value of its currency, the yuan, to the U.S. dollar.

The United States and other nations say Beijing's fixed exchange rate for its currency, the yuan, is too low and gives China's exporters an unfair price advantage.

"This we cannot accept. I say this in a very blunt manner," said Wei Benhua, vice director of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, speaking at a gathering of Asian business and political leaders in southern China.

"I made it clear to them: this is your problem. You should put your own house in order before you blame your neighbors," said Wei, referring to a recent meeting with U.S. counterparts.

Chavez Says Americans Detained for Taking Pictures of Venezuelan Military

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez said Sunday that a woman linked to the U.S. military had been arrested while photographing a military installation, and several U.S. citizens were also arrested for taking pictures of a refinery, signs that the Washington may be plotting an invasion of his country.

Chavez's announcement, made during his weekly radio and television show, was thin on details and did not specify the woman's nationality or supposed role in the military. But it came just two days after the U.S. embassy announced that Venezuela had abruptly suspended a 35-year-old military exchange program between the two countries.

"We put her where we had to," Chavez said, without elaborating, giving an indication of when the incident took place or saying if she had been released. "If she or any other U.S. official does this kind of activity again, they will be imprisoned and face trial in Venezuela." He also said that the Americans detained were journalists who were caught taking pictures of El Palito refinery, some 100 kilometers (62 miles) west of Caracas. They were released, Chavez said.

Bangladeshis Storm Kuwait Embassy

More than 700 Bangladeshi workers have stormed their country's embassy in Kuwait, causing damage inside. The rioters also slightly injured two Bangladeshi civilians who were visiting the embassy, Ambassador Nazrul Islam Khan told the BBC.
The embassy called the police, who managed to restore order and arrested some of the workers. The others fled.


Mr Islam told the BBC Bengali service that the motive for the attack was linked to wages not being paid.
The workers were employed by a Kuwaiti cleaning company and destroyed furniture, windows and documents, a security officer at the scene told the AFP news agency.
A spokesman for the protesters is reported to have complained that they had not been paid for the last five months.
Cont.

Associated Press Photographer Released From U.S. Custody

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Mohammed Ibrahim, a photographer working for The Associated Press, was released Sunday by the U.S. military, which had held him after a shooting in which a television cameraman working for The AP was killed. Ibrahim was wounded when gunfire broke out after an explosion Saturday in the northern city of Mosul. Saleh Ibrahim, a television cameraman working for The Associated Press, was killed in the same incident. The two men were brothers-in-law.

Mohammed Ibrahim said U.S. forces escorted him and his brother, Wamidh, who contributes to European Pressphoto Agency, from the hospital hours after the shooting and released them after nearly 24 hours in detention.
Cont.

MP's Say Deal Reached on Iraqi Govt, Allawi Excluded

Iraqi leaders will announce a government within days and no one from caretaker Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's party will be in the cabinet, lawmakers and people involved in the negotiations said on Sunday.

"Allawi will take no part, his party will have no ministries," a senior official involved in the talks told Reuters, saying the decision had been taken after another round of negotiations on Saturday that lasted more than 10 hours. "There are still some details to be worked out, but the announcement of the cabinet should be made by Monday," he said.


Politicians have repeatedly said in recent weeks that they are on the cusp of unveiling a government, only for the announcement to fall through. Prime Minister-designate Ibrahim Jaafari theoretically has until May 7 to form a cabinet. Talks have been going on for nearly three months, since elections on January 30. Differences between the main Shi'ite alliance and the Kurds, Sunnis and Allawi's party over the distribution of ministries have stalled the process.

The delays have frustrated Iraqis and contributed to a resurgence in guerrilla violence, U.S. and Iraqi officials say. As talks ended on Saturday, Allawi issued a statement urging all parties to speed up the formation of the government "for the good of the country". Thaer al-Naqib, Allawi's spokesman, said that if members of Allawi's party were not included in the cabinet, he would still give the government his support.
Cont.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

DeLay Trip Was Charged To Lobbyist's Credit Card

Washington Post

Sunday, April 24, 2005; Page A01

A plane trip to London and Scotland in 2000 by then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) was charged to an American Express card issued to Jack Abramoff, a Washington lobbyist at the center of a federal criminal and tax probe, according to two sources who know Abramoff's credit card account number and to a copy of a travel invoice displaying that number.

DeLay's expenses during the same trip for food, phone calls, and other items at a golf course hotel in Scotland were billed to a different credit card also used on the trip by a second registered Washington lobbyist, Edwin A. Buckham, according to receipts documenting that portion of the trip.

House ethics rules bar lawmakers from accepting travel and related expenses from registered lobbyists. DeLay, who is now House Majority Leader, has said that his expenses on this trip were paid by a nonprofit organization, and that the financial arrangements for it were proper. He has also said he had no way of knowing that any lobbyist might have financially supported the trip, either directly or through reimbursements to the nonprofit organization.


The documents obtained by The Washington Post, including receipts for his hotel stays in Scotland and London and billings for his golfing during the trip at the famed St. Andrews course in Scotland, substantiate for the first time that some of DeLay's expenses on the trip were billed to charge cards used by the two lobbyists. The invoice for DeLay's plane fare lists the name of what was then Abramoff's lobbying firm, Preston Gates & Ellis.

Federal Grand Jury Focuses on Wal-Mart

CHICAGO -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which has been on a mission to rehabilitate its public image, suffered a setback Friday when it confirmed it is the subject of a federal grand jury investigation.The probe involves accusations that the former vice chairman at the world's biggest retailer misspent up to $500,000 -- some of it allegedly for widely criticized anti-union activity."We're aware that there's an investigation," said Wal-Mart spokesman Marty Heires on Friday. "We're cooperating."

He wouldn't say whether any Wal-Mart workers or documents had been subpoenaed.Wal-Mart stock on Friday fell 2 percent, or 97 cents, to $46.81, nearly its lowest close in two years.On March 25, former vice chairman Tom Coughlin retired from Wal-Mart's board amid an internal investigation over personal reimbursements, payment of third-party invoices and the use of company gift cards.Wal-Mart referred the matter to a U.S. attorney's office in Arkansas. The resulting investigation by federal prosecutors is the latest blemish to show up on the $285 billion discount chain.

Newly Released E-Mail Exchanges Reveal Bolton a Bigger Moron

NYT


WASHINGTON, April 23 - Recently declassified e-mail messages provide new details of the bruising battle that John R. Bolton, then an under secretary of state, waged with analysts at the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency in 2002 as he sought to deliver a speech reflecting a hard-line view of Cuba and its possible efforts to acquire biological weapons.

The messages, provided to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, are surfacing during a firestorm over Mr. Bolton's nomination as ambassador to the United Nations. Democrats and some Republicans have raised concerns about Mr. Bolton's temperament and tactics, and have called particular attention to his harsh treatment of intelligence analysts, suggesting that it may have amounted to political interference.

The declassified e-mail messages suggest animosity between Mr. Bolton and his staff on the one hand, and intelligence analysts on the other, at levels even greater than have emerged from recent public testimony by Mr. Bolton and others. A Congressional official provided some of the messages to The New York Times, saying they should be made available to the public because they had been declassified.None of the dozens of messages reviewed by The New York Times were from Mr. Bolton.

But the correspondence, spanning a period from February to September 2002, included e-mail sent to Mr. Bolton by his principal assistant, Frederick Fleitz, as well as extensive exchanges between Mr. Fleitz and Christian P. Westermann, the State Department's top expert on biological weapons who clashed sharply with Mr. Bolton over Cuba.

Time Too Blame That Fathead Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh has been quick too blame Bill Clinton for the rise of teenage oral sex, now it's time too blame Limbaugh for the rise in teenage illegal OXYCOTIN use.

'Generation Rx': Teen Abuse Of Legal Drugs On The Rise

Friday, April 22, 2005

Corruption Takes It's Toll On Iraqi Oil Industry

BAGHDAD: The Iraqi Oil Ministry has sacked more than 450 employees suspected of selling fuel on the black market.The recent move is the most recent in a series of measures designed to crack down on corruption within the industry, the country's most lucrative sector.

Arnold Terminated? Democrats move in for the kill on weakened governor

LA WEEKLY

Arnold Schwarzenegger could well be a one-term governor. Unbelievable as that seemed at the beginning of the year, which the action superstar entered as arguably the most popular governor in CalifornInsiders acknowledge that the governor has not established a “template for overall reform,” as one puts it.

In the absence of that, Schwarzenegger looks like he is scapegoating a popular profession for education problems. Fingers are pointing at Education Secretary Dick Riordan, the former L.A. mayor. “Name one thing he’s done besides insult that little girl,” says a top Arnista, referring to the bizarre incident last year in which Riordan told a child at a reading-promotion event in Santa Barbara that her name meant “stupid, dirty girl,” then told the shocked crowd that he was joking.

Riordan is expected to leave his post in the near future. The reapportionment initiative is also on the dealing block, with the governor now said to be content to have redistricting done by an independent panel after the 2010 Census (which Democrats are agreeable to), rather than mid-decade as he originally demanded after his embarrassment in last November’s election, in which he failed to take any Democratic legislative seats.

The reality, as some insiders admitted weeks ago, is that it would have been impossible to do any new redistricting before 2008, and reapportionment was always the least-popular issue in Schwarzenegger’s “reform” basket. Only the spending-control initiative seems at all sacrosanct for Team Arnold. But even there, insiders acknowledge that the ballot description of it as a measure that could cut education funding makes its prospects perilous, as Schwarzenegger polling indicates. ia history, it may end up that way.

Senator to Try New Strategy on Accounts for Retirees

WASHINGTON, April 21 - The Senate Finance Committee chairman, Charles E. Grassley, said Thursday that he would try to produce a Social Security bill with the support of Republicans alone, in an effort to jump-start a legislative effort now stymied by solid Democratic opposition.

Mr. Grassley, whose committee will play the lead role on Social Security, acknowledged that it was a risky strategy and that he would need to attract some Democratic support once the bill reached the full Senate, if not sooner.

But he said, with some frustration, that he had been unable to get the Democrats on his committee to enter into negotiations unless he renounced President Bush's proposal to create private investment accounts in Social Security.
Mr. Grassley said he would not do that. As a result, he said, "I'm going to put together a Republican-only bill as a first step to getting bipartisan support because I can't lose time waiting for the Democrats to come to the table."
Link

*************************

Grassley said the Democrat's on his committee won't go along with him, what the above story fails to mention is that the Republican's on the Committee aren't going along with him either.
Link

Evangelicals Want to Strip Court's Funds

WASHINGTON — Evangelical Christian leaders, who have been working closely with senior Republican lawmakers to place conservative judges in the federal courts, have also been exploring ways to punish sitting jurists and even entire courts viewed as hostile to their cause.

An audio recording obtained by the Los Angeles Times features two of the nation's most influential evangelical leaders, at a private conference with supporters, laying out strategies to rein in judges, such as stripping funding from their courts in an effort to hinder their work.The discussion took place during a Washington conference last month that included addresses by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who discussed efforts to bring a more conservative cast to the courts.

The leaders present at the March conference, including Perkins and James C. Dobson, founder of the influential group Focus on the Family, have been working with Frist to eliminate the filibuster for judicial nominations, a legislative tool that has allowed Senate Democrats to stall 10 of President Bush's nominations.

Frist is scheduled to appear, via a taped statement, during a satellite broadcast to churches nationwide Sunday that the Family Research Council has organized to build support for the Bush nominees.

Lobbyists Double Spending in Six Years

WASHINGTON, April 7, 2005 — In a major study of the federal lobbying industry, the Center for Public Integrity today reports that lobbyists have spent nearly $13 billion since 1998 to influence members of Congress and federal officials on legislation and regulations. Out of that $13 billion, almost $600 million was tax and tuition dollars spent by states, local governments and universities. Records show that in 2003 alone lobbyists spent $2.4 billion and records for 2004 are expected to show expenditures of at least $3 billion.

That's about twice as much as was spent on campaign finance in the same time period. "For years the media and the public have focused on campaign finance as the key to congressional and governmental accountability," said Roberta Baskin, the Center's executive director. "Our report reveals that each year since 1998 the amount spent to influence federal lawmakers is double the amount of money spent to elect them."

The Center also found that the revolving door is turning dizzyingly fast. Nearly 250 former members of Congress and agency heads are active lobbyists, and more than 2,000 lobbyists used to work in senior government positions. There is a large financial incentive for the move.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Lincoln Chafee is Now Doing the Right Thing: Going to Wage a Full Force Investigation of Bolton

I spoke with Senator Chafee's Chief Spokesman, Steve Hourahan, yesterday and was very pleased with the discussion. I think Senator Chafee is now moving from the 'passive' and 'reactive' in this matter on John Bolton -- to 'proactive' and 'aggressive' in trying to get to the truth about the many allegations about Bolton.Hourahan said that yesterday morning, Wednesday, Chafee met with staff and said that he planned to get actively involved in pursuing the totality of questions and evidence on John Bolton. Hourahan stated that the Senator and his staff would now become aggressively involved in the investigation. Link

SAUDI ARABIA TO EXPAND MILITARY COOPERATION WITH IRAN

Riyadh, April 19, IRNA--Saudi Arabia's Chief of Staff General Salih bin Ali Al-Muhayya said here Monday that his country is determined to expand military cooperation with Iran.
He made the remarks during an interview with IRNA reporter on the sidelines of a special ceremony held in the Saudi capital on the occasion of Iran's Army Day.
Link

GOP SURVEY - NO SUPPORT FOR NUCLEAR OPTION

WASHINGTON - Private Republican polling shows scant support for a plan to stop minority Democrats from blocking judicial nominees, officials said Thursday, as two of President Bush's most controversial appointments advanced toward a possible Senate confrontation.

These officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a recent survey taken for Senate Republicans showed 37 percent support for the GOP plan to deny Democrats the ability to filibuster judicial nominees, while 51 percent oppose. Additionally, the survey indicated only about 20 percent of Americans believe the Republican statement that Bush is the first president in history whose court appointees have been subjected to a filibuster, a tactic in which opponents can prevent a vote unless supporters gain 60 votes.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity, noting the survey data has not been made public. Coincidentally, the polling was presented to GOP aides a few hours after the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to send the nominations of Texas judge Priscilla Owen and California judge Janice Rogers Brown to the full Senate for confirmation. Bush picked Owen for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans and Brown for the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia.

Bush's War on the Press

Eric Alterman

Journalists, George Bernard Shaw once said, "are unable, seemingly, to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilization." How odd, given the profession's un-equaled reputation for narcissism, that Shaw's observation holds true even when the collapsing "civilization" is their own.

Make no mistake: The Bush Administration and its ideological allies are employing every means available to undermine journalists' ability to exercise their First Amendment function to hold power accountable. In fact, the Administration recognizes no such constitutional role for the press. White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card has insisted that the media "don't represent the public any more than other people do.... I don't believe you have a check-and-balance function."

Bush himself, on more than one occasion, has told reporters he does not read their work and prefers to live inside the information bubble blown by his loyal minions. Vice President Cheney feels free to kick the New York Times off his press plane, and John Ashcroft can refuse to speak with any print reporters during his Patriot-Act-a-palooza publicity tour, just to compliant local TV.

As an unnamed Bush official told reporter Ron Suskind, "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality--judiciously, as you will--we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors...and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do." For those who didn't like it, another Bush adviser explained, "Let me clue you in.

We don't care. You see, you're outnumbered two to one by folks in the big, wide middle of America, busy working people who don't read the New York Times or Washington Post or the LA Times."

Russian's Respond to Rice

MOSCOW: Moscow has rebuffed Washington's attempts to preach Russia on democracy, foreign policy and nuclear security.

"Just as the U.S. wants to see a strong and democratic Russia, we want to see a strong and democratic U.S. that acts in the international arena jointly with other states and with respect for international law," said the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, after talks with Dr. Rice. He was commenting on Dr. Rice's interview to a Russian radio where she said U.S.-Russian relations would be better if Russia had more democracy.

Powell is undercutting "The Bush" over Bolton.

Mr. Powell has not spoken publicly about the Bolton nomination. But his associates said he had told Senators Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, in response to questions, that he had been troubled by the way that Mr. Bolton had treated an intelligence analyst and others at the State Department who disagreed with him.

Mr. Chafee and Mr. Hagel are both Republican members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and both have expressed concern about Mr. Bolton's temperament, credibility and treatment of intelligence analysts. The senators' concerns, along with those of Senator George Voinovich, an Ohio Republican, were among the factors that have forced the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to postpone until next month a vote on Mr. Bolton's nomination
Link

Putin: Sale of missiles to Syria will block Israeli flyovers

The SA-18 missiles Russia is selling Syria "will of course make it difficult to fly over the residence of the Syrian president," Russian President Vladimir Putin bluntly stated yesterday. "It will make flying low difficult," implying what has long been believed to be the reason for the sale of the anti-aircraft missiles: Syrian embarrassment over Israeli air force planes "buzzing" presidential palaces in Syria to issue warnings to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The Russian president, who gave an interview to Channel One ahead of his historic visit next week to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, said the sale of the missiles to Syria would not upset the balance of power in the Middle East

In the interview, Putin referred to his good relations with Sharon and to the criticism leveled at him by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, because of his initiative to extend his term beyond the limits imposed by the Russian constitution. He said Russia would "abide by the existing law in Russia and not the attitudes of our allies," adding that "we would be happy if Rice runs for president one day in the U.S."

While Putin emphasized that the missile Russia is selling to Syria is vehicle launched and hardly a threat to Israeli planes, Israel is particularly worried by shoulder-launched versions of the missile, which could end up in the hands of Hezbollah along the Lebanese-Israeli border and limit Israeli air force overflights into Lebanon. Cont.

Bush Urges Senate to 'Put Aside Politics' and Confirm Bolton

"The Bush" says Lying, assault, and intimidation (which are all against the 10 commandments) are nothing but Politics, which is okay to have done if you want to work for him.

President Bush offered a vigorous defense today of John R. Bolton, his nominee for ambassador to the United Nations, signaling that the White House will fight for his confirmation in the face of wavering Republican support.

Mr. Bush used a gathering of insurance agents and brokers, where his scheduled address was on Social Security, to stand up for Mr. Bolton, whose nomination appears to be in danger.
"I welcome you to the nation's capital, where sometimes politics gets in the way of doing the people's business," Mr. Bush said early on. "Take John Bolton, the good man I nominated to represent our country at the United Nations.
Cont.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Hundreds of Protesters Go After Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

SACRAMENTO—Hundreds of protesters in two cities accused Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of breaking a promise to protect injured workers when he pushed through sweeping changes in the workers’ compensation system a year ago. “The governor has turned around and devastated the workers’ comp system,” Mark Hayes, president of a group called Voters Injured at Work, told a group of about 300 rallying on the Capitol lawn Tuesday.

“The governor broke his promise to us.” In Los Angeles, about 500 protesters marched outside the state office building, chanting “down with Arnold” after Attorney General Bill Lockyer complained that the Schwarzenegger-backed legislation had taken away benefits that help people and their families. Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, said he’ll demand that the Republican governor agree to reverse cutbacks in benefits for disabled workers as the price for a state budget agreement this summer.

Engineers Joked That Enron Broadband Software Was "pixie Dust," Witness Says

HOUSTON (AP) - Enron Corp. engineers jokingly called software that was purported to make the company's broadband network work better and faster than any other "the secret sauce or pixie dust," a former employee testified Wednesday at the trial of five former executives of the failed Internet venture.

"It was referred to as the secret sauce or pixie dust," former director of product engineering Shawna Meyer told jurors. She said staffers would make fun of it, saying, "sprinkle it around or add some secret sauce to the network and it would solve all the problems that we had."
Cont.

Brock Letter Accepting Murdoch Challenge

April 20, 2005

Rupert Murdoch
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Fox Broadcasting Company
1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036-8799

Dear Mr. Murdoch:
I was intrigued to read your recent
statement to World Screen magazine about alleged conservative bias at the Fox News Channel. "We are fair and balanced and we challenge anyone to show Fox News has any bias in it," you said.

My organization, Media Matters for America, has been monitoring the U.S. media, including Fox News, for nearly a year. We try to avoid using the term "bias" in describing news coverage, preferring to focus on the observable content of news stories, rather than try to discern the private attitudes of those who produce them, which amounts to speculation. Still, we can't help noticing a pronounced rightward tilt in your channel's news programs.
Attached you'll find just a few of the many examples that Media Matters has compiled, which demonstrate that conservative voices on Fox far outnumber progressive voices; that Fox anchors, reporters, and ostensibly non-ideological guests routinely inject pro-Republican opinion into "news" programs; and that even Fox's "hard news" anchors and reporters regularly distort the news to further the GOP agenda.


Many more examples of Fox News' promotion of conservative misinformation can be found on the Media Matters website.
Finally, Media Matters responds with a challenge of its own: Because we suspect your challenge was rhetorical, rather than a reflection of a sincere desire to assess Fox News' "balance," I suggest submitting these examples to a mutually-agreed-upon panel for review. Let's let a neutral body, rather than the CEO of Fox News' parent company, decide if Fox News "has any bias in it."
Sincerely,
David BrockPresident & CEOMedia Matters for America
cc: Roger Ailes, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Fox News Channel

Join Sibel Edmonds' Protest Tomorrow

Sibel Edmonds to lead protest over government secrecy tomorrow morning

Tomorrow was to be the oral hearing on Sibel’s lawsuit fighting the State Secrets Privilege imposed over her case.
The court has made the extraordinary decision to close the hearing to the public and to Sibel as well. Please come help show our outrage about the excessive secrecy imposed on her case!

Sibel is organizing an impromptu protest in front of the courthouse.

Where: E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse, Court of Appeals Courtroom, 333 Constitution Avenue, N.W., 5th Floor, Washington D.C.

When: Thursday, April 21, 9:00 a.m.-noon

Republicans bowing to pressure on "Hot Tub Tom" Delay's unethical practices.

WASHINGTON - Retreating under pressure, Republicans on the House ethics committee said Wednesday they were ready to open an investigation into allegations of wrongdoing against Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
Four of the five Republicans on the committee were ready to move ahead, said Rep. Doc Hastings, the panel’s Republican chairman. The panel also has five Democratic members.


The Republicans were “prepared to vote at the earliest opportunity to empanel an investigations subcommittee to review various allegations concerning travel and other actions” by DeLay, he said.
The ethics committee has authority to start an investigation based on information it receives “through public and other sources,” Hastings said.
LINK

Critics of Chi-Com Wal-Mart Launch Ad Campaign

CHICAGO (Reuters) - An organization opposed to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. took out a full-page newspaper advertisement on Wednesday that accuses the world's biggest retailer of costing U.S. taxpayers some $1.6 billion a year.The advertisement in The New York Times says Wal-Mart's low pay and benefits forced tens of thousands of employees to seek government aid in the form of Medicaid, food stamps and housing assistance.

The group, which calls itself the Center for Community and Corporate Ethics and lists union leaders, environmentalists and academics among its directors, aims to "fight Wal-Mart on the streets, in the media, and in the customer's mind," according to its Web site.The organization asked people to sign up at www.walmartwatch.com -- which it called a "war room" -- to help fight Wal-Mart and said it would mail sample legislation to elected officials showing them "how they can pass laws to put the brakes on Wal-Mart."

"Hot Tub Tom" Delay To Define What Good Behavior Is For Us Citizens

DeLay has called repeatedly for the House to find a way to hold the federal judiciary accountable for its decisions. "The judiciary has become so activist and so isolated from the American people that it's our job to do that," he said.

One way would be for the House Judiciary Committee to investigate the clause in the Constitution that says "judges can serve as long as they serve with good behavior," he said. "We want to define what good behavior means. And that's where you have to start."
LINK

Delay, the Official "Pimp" of Washington D.C.

WASHINGTON - House Majority Leader Tom DeLay treated his political donors to a bird's-eye view of a Three Tenors concert from an arena skybox leased by a lobbyist now under criminal investigation.
DeLay's political action committee did not reimburse lobbyist Jack Abramoff for the May 2000 use of the skybox, instead treating it as a type of donation that didn't have to be disclosed to election regulators at the time.


The skybox donation, valued at thousands of dollars, came three weeks before DeLay also accepted a trip to Europe - including golf with Abramoff at the world-famous St. Andrews course - for himself, his wife and aides that was underwritten by some of the lobbyist's clients.
Two months after the concert and trip, DeLay voted against gambling legislation opposed by some of Abramoff's Indian tribe clients.
Cont.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

AP Sues U.S. to Get Guantanamo Documents

NEW YORK - The Associated Press sued the Defense Department on Tuesday to force the government to release transcripts and other documents related to military hearings for Guantanamo Bay detainees.
The federal lawsuit, filed in Manhattan, said the AP has been able to report only anecdotally on 558 tribunals conducted since August to let detainees challenge their incarceration at the Cuban base. The news agency said the proceedings were "unquestionably of great interest to the public."
The lawsuit asked the court to order the government to turn over transcripts of all Guantanamo detainees' testimony, along with written statements by the detainees and any documents they have submitted.

"Hot Tub Tom" DeLay Loses Mind Slams Supreme Court Justice

WASHINGTON (AP) - House Majority Leader Tom DeLay intensified his criticism of the federal courts on Tuesday, singling out Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's work from the bench as "incredibly outrageous" because he has relied on international law and done research on the Internet.
DeLay also said he thought there were a "lot of Republican-appointed judges that are judicial activists."
The No. 2 Republican in the House has openly criticized the federal courts since they refused to order the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube. And he pointed to Kennedy as an example of Republican members of the Supreme Court who were activist and isolated.

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War On Terror 'Vanishes From Agenda'

BBC

There is intense speculation in the corridors of Washington over where foreign policy might head in the next four years.

But while Iraq and Iran may top the list, you hear almost no talk - at least at the moment - about Washington's "war on terror" against al-Qaeda.
After an election in which the fear of an attack hung over the campaign, there is now little discussion over whether the US is winning or what victory might look like.


While there is lots of talk about which countries the US should seek to press over terrorism, there is not much sign yet of a renewed focus on the ideological struggle or the kind of "imagination" called for by the 11 September commission.
Richard Clarke, the former White House counter-terrorism czar under both President Clinton and President Bush, has been an outspoken critic of the current administration since he left it.
He accuses the Bush administration of a lack of strategic thought.
"So much of the US government's attention is on Iraq that they are really not thinking conceptually about the war on terrorism," he told me.
"President Bush has conflated Iraq and the war on terrorism into one thing, and therefore when they're working on Iraq they think they're working on the war on terrorism - which of course they're not because it's a very different thing.

"The administration probably believes its own rhetoric when they say they've captured or killed three-quarters of al-Qaeda leaders, and that al-Qaeda's on the ropes," he says.

US Hands Over Guantanamo Inmates

Seventeen Afghans held in Guantanamo Bay have been handed over to the Afghan authorities in the capital, Kabul. Afghan intelligence sources told the BBC that the men will be questioned until Wednesday, when it is expected they will be re-united with their families.
Some of them complained of mistreatment by the US.
So far over 200 people have been freed from its Guantanamo Bay base in Cuba. About 500 terror suspects remain there.
Link.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Reports blast 'double-dipping' by Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which has reaped millions of dollars in government subsidies to expand its operations in Florida, is potentially the state's biggest user of the Medicaid system. The nation's largest employer and grocery retailer, which constantly battles allegations of substandard employee wages and benefits, has more Medicaid-eligible employees and/or dependents than any company in Florida, according to the state Department of Children & Families.

The company has 12,300 Medicaid-eligible employees in the state -- more than 13 percent of its 92,812 Florida workers. About 2.2 million Floridians -- mainly low-income families, children, the disabled and the elderly -- are enrolled in Medicaid. The state's Medicaid budget is $14.7 billion for 2004-2005, having nearly doubled from $7.8 billion for 1999-2000.

Iraqi Official Is Assassinated by Gunmen in Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Iraq, April 18 - A high-ranking adviser in the Iraqi Defense Ministry was assassinated late Monday night by gunmen at his house in Baghdad, Iraqi officials said.
The official, Maj. Gen. Adnan Qaragholi, was killed just after 11 p.m. when 10 gunmen forced their way into his house in the Doura neighborhood in southern Baghdad and shot him to death, Interior Ministry officials said.


Insurgents try to assassinate the leaders of Iraq's fledgling military and the police almost daily, and many officers have been killed. It was not clear on Monday night how the assassins, who arrived in three cars, got into General Qaragholi's house, or whether there was a firefight. The gunmen escaped, the officials said.

Iran Bans Al-Jazeera After Riots

BBC

Iran has suspended operations by the al-Jazeera television network, accusing it of inflaming violent protests by the country's Arab minority.
Three people have died in ethnic clashes in Iran's south-west Khuzestan province over the past few days.


The riots are thought to have been sparked by alleged plans - which the government denies - to change the area's ethnic makeup.
Al-Jazeera described the action as "surprising and unjustified".
It said it would maintain its "editorial policy of airing the full range of opinions and covering current affairs in Iran objectively and fairly".

Facing Global Sanctions, Iran Uses Oil Fields to Seek Alliances

TEHRAN, Iran - As it faces the threat of global sanctions from the United States and Europe because of suspicions that it is turning its nuclear program to weapons production, Iran is fighting back with a powerful weapon of its own: its vast oil and gas resources.Iran's ruling clerics are meticulously arranging energy sales and building partnerships with influential countries, including China and India, as a way to win stronger friendships around the world.

The rising price of oil, nervousness in the energy markets and the scramble by fast-growing countries to secure their own access to oil supplies has lately played into Tehran's hand.This renewed push to turn underground riches into political power complicates the Bush administration's attempt to isolate Iran, which holds 10 percent of the world's oil deposits and has the second-largest gas reserves.

World Terror Risk "On the Rise"

BBC

Iraq is by far the most dangerous country to do business - but global terrorism is also making the rest of the world riskier, a new survey says.

Danger has risen in 31 nations, many of them in western Europe, insurance broker Aon says in a new risk map. Former hot spots East Timor and Western Sahara were among just five places where risk levels went down in 2004.Despite a lack of terror attacks in richer nations, the threat has not gone away, Aon warns. Aon's map, published for the second year running, divides the world into five categories of risk - low, guarded, elevated, high and severe.

Since last year, Iraq has shot from fifth to first place in the rankings, with 2,922 terror incidents recorded in the 12 months to February 2005. Other countries where the risk is considered severe include India, Pakistan, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia and Colombia. They are joined by Nepal and Somalia, which have been upgraded to the worst category since the 2004 survey.