Friday, March 31, 2006

Harness Racing Results for 03-31-06

Record since 04-26-05

Win (351)

Place (105)

Show (32)

Out of the Money (90)



Race # 1


Post Position: # 5

Fraser Downs

Race # 4


Post Position: # 1

Race # 6


Post Position: # 5

U.S. corporate profits increased 21.3% wage and salary fallen to 56.9%

Strong productivity gains and subdued wage growth boosted before-tax profits to 11.6% of national income in the fourth quarter of 2005, the biggest share since the summer of 1966.

Meanwhile, the share of national income going to wage and salary workers has fallen to 56.9%. Except for a brief period in 1997, that's the lowest share for labor income since 1966.{...

Suspicious profits sit uncollected after September 11th

SF Chronicle

Investors have yet to collect more than $2.5 million in profits they made trading options in the stock of United Airlines before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to a source familiar with the trades and market data.

The uncollected money raises suspicions that the investors -- whose identities and nationalities have not been made public -- had advance knowledge of the strikes.

"Usually, if someone has a windfall like that, you take the money and run," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Whoever did this thought the exchange would not be closed for four days.

"This smells real bad."

The source and others in the financial industry speculate that the purchaser or purchasers -- having initially assumed the money could be picked up without detection -- now fear exposure, or that the account has been frozen.

The markets were closed for four days after the attack, giving investigators time to notice the anomalous trades.

Securities regulators and law-enforcement agents throughout the United States and Europe are investigating unusual patterns in short sales and the purchase of "put" options, both of which are financial-market bets that the price of a given stock will fall. Authorities here and abroad have not publicly disclosed any conclusions they have reached and refuse to discuss the case.

There was an unusually large jump in purchases of put options on the stocks of UAL Corp. and AMR Corp. in the three business days before the attack on major options exchanges in the United States. On one day, UAL put option purchases were 25 times greater than the year-to-date average. In the month before the attacks, short sales jumped by 40 percent for UAL and 20 percent for American.

A put option gives the buyer a right to sell the underlying security at a certain price on a certain date; the purchaser profits when the share price drops lower than the agreed sale price. In a short sale, an investor borrows stock from a broker and sells it, hoping to buy it back at a lower price.

October series options for UAL Corp. were purchased in highly unusual volumes three trading days before the terrorist attacks for a total outlay of $2,070; investors bought the option contracts, each representing 100 shares, for 90 cents each. Those options are now selling at more than $12 each. There are still 2,313 so-called "put" options outstanding, according to the Options Clearinghouse Corp.

Harness Racing Picks for 03-31-06

Record since 04-26-05

Win (349)

Place (105)

Show (31)

Out of the Money (90)



Race # 1


Post Position: # 5

Fraser Downs

Race # 4


Post Position: # 1

Race # 6


Post Position: # 5

Citigroup facing $715M fine for insider trading

SYDNEY, Australia (Reuters) - Australia's securities regulator Friday accused Citigroup Inc. of illegal insider trading on a $3.3 billion bid by transport company Toll Holdings Ltd. for rival Patrick Corp.

Citigroup's Australian arm denied any wrongdoing regarding the deal. It had advised Toll, one of Australia's biggest shipping firms, on the offer for Patrick last year.

In its first such case against a company, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) said it had identified substantial trading in Patrick shares by Citigroup's own accounts on Aug. 19, the last business day before Toll announced its bid on Aug. 22.

Shares in Patrick jumped 13 percent on Aug. 19, with about 20.5 million shares sold or nearly 3 percent of shares on issue. After the bid was announced, they jumped another 14 percent.

"This is a significant case raising two very important issues for the securities industry: having adequate arrangements for managing inside information and dealing with conflicts of interest," the commission's deputy chairman, Jeremy Cooper, said.

Church fires photog over Scalia picture: Freelancer pays for ‘right thing’

Boston Herald

A freelance photographer has been fired by the Archdiocese of Boston’s newspaper for releasing a picture of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia making a controversial gesture in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Sunday.
Scalia’s flick-off

Peter Smith, who had freelanced for The Pilot newspaper for a decade, lost the job yesterday after the Herald ran his photo on its front page. Smith said he has no regrets about releasing it.

“I did the right thing. I did the ethical thing,” said Smith, 51, an assistant photojournalism professor at Boston University.

Iraq Shi'ite ayatollah demands U.S. fire envoy

BAGHDAD, March 31 (Reuters) - A leading Iraqi Shi'ite cleric demanded on Friday that the United States sack its ambassador, accusing Zalmay Khalilzad of siding with his fellow Sunni Muslims in the sectarian conflict gripping the country.

In a sermon read out at mosques for Friday prayers, Ayatollah Mohammed al-Yacoubi said Washington had underestimated the bloody conflict between Shi'ites and the once dominant Sunni Arab minority, which many fear threatens to trigger a civil war.

"By this, they are either misled by reports, which lack objectivity and credibility, submitted to the United States by their sectarian ambassador to Iraq ... or they are denying this fact," Yacoubi said in the message, later issued as a statement.

"It (the United States) should not yield to terrorist blackmail and should not be deluded or misled by spiteful sectarians. It should replace its ambassador to Iraq if it wants to protect itself from further failures."


For now, at least, the immigration issue is mainly hurting the Republican Party, which is divided between those who want to expel immigrants and those who want to exploit them. The only thing the two factions seem to have in common is mean-spiritedness.

But immigration remains a difficult issue for liberals. Let me say a bit more about the subject of my last column, the uncomfortable economics of immigration, then turn to what really worries me: the political implications of a large nonvoting work force.

About the economics: the crucial divide isn't between legal and illegal immigration; it's between high-skilled and low-skilled immigrants.

High-skilled immigrants — say, software engineers from South Asia — are, by any criterion I can think of, good for America. But the effects of low-skilled immigration are mixed at best.

True, there are large benefits for the low-skilled migrants, who may find even a minimum-wage U.S. job a big step up.

Immigration also raises the total income of native-born Americans, although reasonable estimates suggest that these gains amount to no more than a fraction of 1 percent.

But low-skilled immigration depresses the wages of less-skilled native-born Americans. And immigrants increase the demand for public services, including health care and education.

Estimates indicate that low-skilled immigrants don't pay enough in taxes to cover the cost of providing these services.

All of these effects, except for the gains for the immigrants themselves, are fairly small. Some of my friends say that's the point I should stress: immigration is a wonderful thing for the immigrants, and claims that immigrants are undermining American workers and taxpayers are hugely overblown — end of story.

But it's important to be intellectually honest, even when it hurts. Moreover, what really worries me isn't the narrow economics — it's the political economy, the effects of having a disenfranchised labor force.

Imagine, for a moment, a future in which America becomes like Kuwait or Dubai, a country where a large fraction of the work force consists of illegal immigrants or foreigners on temporary visas — and neither group has the right to vote.

Surely this would be a betrayal of our democratic ideals, of government of the people, by the people.

Moreover, a political system in which many workers don't count is likely to ignore workers' interests: it's likely to have a weak social safety net and to spend too little on services like health care and education.

This isn't idle speculation. Countries with high immigration tend, other things equal, to have less generous welfare states than those with low immigration.

U.S. cities with ethnically diverse populations — often the result of immigration — tend to have worse public services than those with more homogeneous populations.

Of course, America isn't Dubai. But we're moving in that direction. As of 2002, according to the Urban Institute, 14 percent of U.S. workers, and 20 percent of low-wage workers, were immigrants.

Only a third of these immigrant workers were naturalized citizens. So we already have a large disenfranchised work force, and it's growing rapidly. The goal of immigration reform should be to reverse that trend.

So what do I think of the Senate Judiciary Committee's proposal, which is derived from a plan sponsored by John McCain and Ted Kennedy?

I'm all in favor of one provision: offering those already here a possible route to permanent residency and citizenship. Since we aren't going to deport more than 10 million people, we need to integrate those people into our society.

But I'm puzzled by the plan to create a permanent guest-worker program, one that would admit 400,000 more workers a year (and you know that business interests would immediately start lobbying for an increase in that number).

Isn't institutionalizing a disenfranchised work force a big step away from democracy?

For a hard-line economic conservative like Mr. McCain, the advantages to employers of a cheap work force may be more important than the violation of democratic principles.

But why would someone like Mr. Kennedy go along? Is the point to help potential immigrants, or is it to buy support from business interests?

Either way, it's a dangerous route to go down. America's political system is already a lot less democratic in practice than it is on paper, and creating a permanent nonvoting working class would make things worse. The road to Dubai may be paved with good intentions.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Mosul slips out of control as the bombers move in

Independent UK

When the 3,000 men of the mainly Kurdish 3rd Brigade of the 2nd Division of the Iraqi Army go on patrol it is at night, after the rigorously enforced curfew starts at 8pm. Their vehicles, bristling with heavy machine guns, race through the empty streets of the city, splashing through pools of sewage, always trying to take different routes to avoid roadside bombs. "The government cannot control the city," said Hamid Effendi, an experienced ex-soldier who is Minister for Peshmerga Affairs in the Kurdistan Regional Government.

He is influential in the military affairs of Mosul province with its large Kurdish minority, although it is outside the Kurdish region. He believes: "The Iraqi Army is only a small force in Mosul, the Americans do not leave their bases much and some of the police are connected to the terrorists." In the days since a suicide bomber killed 43 young men waiting to join the Iraqi army at a recruitment centre near Mosul last week soldiers in the city have been expecting a second attack.

"We are not leaving the base in daytime because we know other bombers are waiting for us," said a soldier at a base near Mosul's city centre.


This Report doesn't sync up with this picture Kaloogian took recently of downtown Mosul

"War on Christians" speaker blasts V for Vendetta

ABC News

To fight back against the perceived anti-Christian agenda, Hice today attended a two-day conference called "The War on Christians," sponsored by the conservative evangelical group Vision America.

It featured prominent conservative Christian leaders discussing how they believe they are losing the culture wars on issues such as abortion, gay marriage, liberal judges and the latest from Hollywood, like the movie "V for Vendetta."

"The message of 'V for Vendetta' is that Christians are plotting to seize the reins of power," said Don Feder of Vision America.

They also called the enormously popular Web site poison for its millions of young users. "It's a pornography hole," said Rebecca Hagelin, of the Heritage Foundation.

Arnold in trouble again...

SACRAMENTO – Yesterday, the California Court of Appeals ruled against Governor Schwarzenegger’s California Recovery Team (CRT), saying the organization acted illegally by failing to report millions of dollars in expenditures promoting the Governor’s failed ballot propositions as required by law on a 24-hour cycle. The Alliance for a Better California is demanding that the Fair Political Practices Commission take immediate action to redress the situation. By law, the FPPC may seek civil penalties equal to the amount not properly reported. CRT’s violation is in excess of $25 million.

“We’ve known all along that the Governor’s team has been breaking the law, and the Court of Appeals agreed with us,” said Joe Nunez, chairperson of the Alliance for a Better California. “We will continue to take all steps necessary to ensure that the Governor’s campaign is held accountable for their egregious violations of the law.”

Attached please find the complaint being sent on behalf of the Alliance for a Better California to the FPPC. If the FPPC fails to act within 120 days, the Alliance is permitted to file its own lawsuit against the Governor seeking civil damages.

“Once again, Arnold Schwarzenegger thinks the rules apply to everyone but himself,” said Lou Paulson, President of the California Professional Firefighters. “The Governor’s Special Election campaign didn’t want Californians to know exactly how much money from big corporations and drug companies was getting spent on his failed agenda.”

TV Network Debut....

The Real News" is the new name of "Independent World Television."

In 2007, we should see the debut of a TV network called "The Real News."It would be shown on satellite channel "Link TV" and streamed on the web.

The list of people on their Journalist Advisory Committee is like a Who's Who of the Left:

Jeff Cohen, founder of FAIR.

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!

Naomi Klein, documentary writer.

Avi Lewis of the CBC.

Lewis Lapham of Harper's Magazine.

Robert Parry of

Gore Vidal, author.

Shiite Ayatollah Ignores Letter From Bush


A letter from President Bush to Iraq's supreme Shiite spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, was hand-delivered earlier this week but sits unread and untranslated in the top religious figure's office, a key al-Sistani aide told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The aide _ who has never allowed use of his name in news reports, citing al-Sistani's refusal to make any public statements himself _ said the ayatollah had laid the letter aside and did not ask for a translation because of increasing "unhappiness" over what senior Shiite leaders see as American meddling in Iraqi attempts to form their first, permanent post-invasion government.

The aide said the person who delivered the Bush letter _ he would not identify the messenger by name or nationality _ said it carried Bush's thanks to al-Sistani for calling for calm among his followers in preventing the outbreak of civil war after a Shiite shrine was bombed late last month.

Al-Sadr, who is staunchly anti-American, met with al-Sistani in Najaf on Thursday but emerged without making a statement.

Should have sent some of those flowers and candy we got when we first invaded ..... with that letter

House Democratic leader introduces resolution calling for Abramoff bribery probe

Raw Story

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has introduced a Privileged Resolution requiring an ethics investigation of Members of Congress allegedly involved in improper conduct related to lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

While reading the resolution, the House Clerk was interrupted while the House was called back into order.

After Republicans voted by voice to table the resolution, Pelosi requested a recorded vote. The vote is still outstanding.


WHEREAS, it has been two years since credible reports of misconduct by Mr. Jack Abramoff and Members of Congress began appearing regularly in the public record, including reports closely linking Republican Members of Congress with the documented misconduct of Mr. Abramoff;


RESOLVED, That the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct shall immediately initiate an investigation of the misconduct by Members of Congress and their staff implicated in the scandals associated with Mr. Jack Abramoff's criminal activity.

Secretly taped phone chat enters fraud case .... Falwell Ministries'

The January 2005 conversation was between Lynchburg Mayor Carl Hutcherson and Jerry Falwell Jr.

Federal agents secretly taped a telephone conversation between Lynchburg Mayor Carl Hutcherson and Jerry Falwell Jr. last year to determine Falwell Ministries' role in the mayor's federal fraud case, according to a motion filed Tuesday.

The result, the government says, is clear evidence that when Falwell Ministries donated $32,500 to Hutcherson's charity, it did so with the belief that the money was not a direct personal loan to the mayor.

Hutcherson's attorneys, John Fishwick and John Lichtenstein, saw a transcript of the telephone conversation for the first time Tuesday. They say it actually bolsters their case, but declined to elaborate.

"We have always anticipated that the contents of the conversation are supportive of our case," they wrote in a statement. "We can't wait for the jury to hear it."

Hutcherson is scheduled to stand trial April 24-28 on charges of mail and bank fraud, Social Security fraud, obstruction of justice and making false statements to an investigator.

The government has claimed that soon after Falwell Ministries donated money to Hutcherson's charity, Trinity New Life Community Development Corp., the mayor stole the money to pay back personal and business debts.

Hutcherson also is accused of creating fake meeting minutes to make it appear as if Trinity's board approved a personal loan from the charity's account to Hutcherson.

"Hutcherson never told the board about the Falwell loan, and never sought approval to receive a loan from Trinity CDC," the motion states.

In the early stages of the investigation, Hutcherson told investigators that Falwell Ministries donated the money to Trinity to help Lynchburg's inner city, but he soon changed his story to say he had solicited $80,000 from Falwell Ministries to pay his tax debt, documents show.

Finally, the motion claims, Hutcherson, who also owns a funeral home, told agents it was Jerry Falwell Jr.'s idea to "funnel the money through Trinity CDC to make a payment on the Funeral Home's debts."

Adding to that the fact that Hutcherson has a vote on the Lynchburg City Council, the government decided to investigate "the possibility that Mayor Hutcherson may have solicited a bribe in exchange for his influence and votes," the motion states.

On Jan. 27, 2005, FBI Special Agent Christian Pettyjohn recorded a conversation between Hutcherson and Falwell Jr. with only the mayor's knowledge.

According to a transcript of the conversation also filed Tuesday, Falwell Jr. told Hutcherson that the ministries frequently donated money to other churches and he saw nothing wrong with donating to Trinity. Then Falwell Jr. went on to say that if Trinity wanted to turn around and lend money to Hutcherson, so be it.

America: Still Number One! In Weaponry, Consumer Spending, Debt and Delusion

No concept lies more firmly embedded in our national character than the notion that the USA is "No. 1," "the greatest." Our broadcast media are, in essence, continuous advertisements for the brand name "America Is No. 1."
Any office seeker saying otherwise would be committing political suicide. In fact, anyone saying otherwise will be labeled "un-American."

We're an "empire," ain't we? Sure we are. An empire without a manufacturing base. An empire that must borrow $2 billion a day from its competitors in order to function.

Yet the delusion is ineradicable. We're No. 1. Well ... this is the country you really live in:

• The United States is 49th in the world in literacy (The New York Times, Dec. 12, 2004).

• The United States ranked 28th out of 40 countries in mathematical literacy (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004).

• One-third of our science teachers and one-half of our math teachers did not major in those subjects. (Quoted on The West Wing, but you can trust it – their researchers are legendary.)

• Twenty percent of Americans think the sun orbits the Earth. Seventeen percent believe the Earth revolves around the sun once a day (The Week, Jan. 7, 2005).

• "The International Adult Literacy Survey ... found that Americans with less than nine years of education 'score worse than virtually all of the other countries'" (Jeremy Rifkin's superbly documented book The European Dream: How Europe's Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream, p.78).

• Our workers are so ignorant, and lack so many basic skills, that American businesses spend $30 billion a year on remedial training (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004). No wonder they relocate elsewhere!

• "The European Union leads the U.S. in ... the number of science and engineering graduates; public research and development (R&D) expenditures; and new capital raised" (The European Dream, p.70).

• "Europe surpassed the United States in the mid-1990s as the largest producer of scientific literature" (The European Dream, p.70).

• Nevertheless, Congress cut funds to the National Science Foundation. The agency will issue 1,000 fewer research grants this year (NYT, Dec. 21, 2004).

• Foreign applications to U.S. grad schools declined 28% last year. Foreign student enrollment on all levels fell for the first time in three decades, but increased greatly in Europe and China. Last year Chinese grad-school graduates in the U.S. dropped 56%, Indians 51%, South Koreans 28% (NYT, Dec. 21, 2004). We're not the place to be anymore.

• The World Health Organization "ranked the countries of the world in terms of overall health performance, and the U.S. [was] ... 37th." In the fairness of health care, we're 54th. "The irony is that the United States spends more per capita for health care than any other nation in the world" (The European Dream, pp.79-80). Pay more, get lots, lots less.

• "The U.S. and South Africa are the only two developed countries in the world that do not provide health care for all their citizens" (The European Dream, p.80). Excuse me, but since when is South Africa a "developed" country? Anyway, that's the company we're keeping.

• Lack of health insurance coverage causes 18,000 unnecessary American deaths a year. (That's six times the number of people killed on 9/11.) (NYT, Jan. 12, 2005.)

• "U.S. childhood poverty now ranks 22nd, or second to last, among the developed nations. Only Mexico scores lower" (The European Dream, p.81). Been to Mexico lately? Does it look "developed" to you? Yet it's the only "developed" country to score lower in childhood poverty.

• Twelve million American families – more than 10% of all U.S. households – "continue to struggle, and not always successfully, to feed themselves." Families that "had members who actually went hungry at some point last year" numbered 3.9 million (NYT, Nov. 22, 2004).

• The United States is 41st in the world in infant mortality. Cuba scores higher (NYT, Jan. 12, 2005).

• Women are 70% more likely to die in childbirth in America than in Europe (NYT, Jan. 12, 2005).

• The leading cause of death of pregnant women in this country is murder (CNN, Dec. 14, 2004).

• "Of the 20 most developed countries in the world, the U.S. was dead last in the growth rate of total compensation to its work-force in the 1980s...

"In the 1990s, the U.S. average compensation growth rate grew only slightly, at an annual rate of about 0.1%" (The European Dream, p.39). Yet Americans work longer hours per year than any other industrialized country, and get less vacation time.

• "Sixty-one of the 140 biggest companies on the Global Fortune 500 rankings are European, while only 50 are U.S. companies" (The European Dream, p.66). "In a recent survey of the world's 50 best companies, conducted by Global Finance, all but one was European" (The European Dream, p.69).

• "Fourteen of the 20 largest commercial banks in the world today are European. ... In the chemical industry, the European company BASF is the world's leader, and three of the top six players are European. In engineering and construction, three of the top five companies are European. ... The two others are Japanese.

"Not a single American engineering and construction company is included among the world's top nine competitors. In food and consumer products, Nestlé and Unilever, two European giants, rank first and second, respectively, in the world.

"In the food and drugstore retail trade, two European companies ... are first and second, and European companies make up five of the top 10. Only four U.S. companies are on the list" (The European Dream, p.68).

• The United States has lost 1.3 million jobs to China in the last decade (CNN, Jan. 12, 2005).

• U.S. employers eliminated 1 million jobs in 2004 (The Week, Jan. 14, 2005).

• Three million six hundred thousand Americans ran out of unemployment insurance last year; 1.8 million – one in five – unemployed workers are jobless for more than six months (NYT, Jan. 9, 2005).

• Japan, China, Taiwan, and South Korea hold 40% of our government debt. (That's why we talk nice to them.) "By helping keep mortgage rates from rising, China has come to play an enormous and little-noticed role in sustaining the American housing boom" (NYT, Dec. 4, 2004). Read that twice. We owe our housing boom to China, because they want us to keep buying all that stuff they manufacture.

• Sometime in the next 10 years Brazil will probably pass the U.S. as the world's largest agricultural producer. Brazil is now the world's largest exporter of chickens, orange juice, sugar, coffee, and tobacco. Last year, Brazil passed the U.S. as the world's largest beef producer. (Hear that, you poor deluded cowboys?) As a result, while we bear record trade deficits, Brazil boasts a $30 billion trade surplus (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004).

• As of last June, the U.S. imported more food than it exported (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004).

• Bush: 62,027,582 votes. Kerry: 59,026,003 votes. Number of eligible voters who didn't show up: 79,279,000 (NYT, Dec. 26, 2004). That's more than a third. Way more. If more than a third of Iraqis don't show for their election, no country in the world will think that election legitimate.

• One-third of all U.S. children are born out of wedlock. One-half of all U.S. children will live in a one-parent house (CNN, Dec. 10, 2004).

• "Americans are now spending more money on gambling than on movies, videos, DVDs, music, and books combined" (The European Dream, p.28).

• "Nearly one out of four Americans [believe] that using violence to get what they want is acceptable" (The European Dream, p.32).

• Forty-three percent of Americans think torture is sometimes justified, according to a PEW Poll (Associated Press, Aug. 19, 2004).

• "Nearly 900,000 children were abused or neglected in 2002, the last year for which such data are available" (USA Today, Dec. 21, 2004).

• "The International Association of Chiefs of Police said that cuts by the [Bush] administration in federal aid to local police agencies have left the nation more vulnerable than ever" (USA Today, Nov. 17, 2004).

No. 1? In most important categories we're not even in the Top 10 anymore. Not even close.

The USA is "No. 1" in nothing but weaponry, consumer spending, debt, and delusion.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Beleaguered Premier Warns U.S. to Stop Interfering in Iraq's Politics


— Facing growing pressure from the Bush administration to step down, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari of Iraq vigorously asserted his right to stay in office on Wednesday and warned the Americans against interfering in the country's political process.

Mr. Jaafari also defended his recent political alliance with the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, now the prime minister's most powerful backer, saying in an interview that Mr. Sadr and his militia, now thousands strong, are a fact of life in Iraq and need to be accepted into mainstream politics.

Mr. Jaafari said he would work to fold the country's myriad militias into the official security forces and ensure that recruits and top security ministers abandoned their ethnic or sectarian loyalties.

The Iraqi government's tolerance of militias has emerged as the greatest source of contention between American officials and Shiite leaders like Mr. Jaafari, with the American ambassador contending in the past week that militias are killing more people than the Sunni Arab-led insurgency. Dozens of bodies, garroted or with gunshots to the head, turn up almost daily in Baghdad, fueling sectarian tensions that are pushing Iraq closer to full-scale civil war.

The prime minister made his remarks in an hourlong interview at his home, a Saddam Hussein-era palace with an artificial lake at the heart of the fortified Green Zone. He spoke in a languorous manner, relaxing in a black pinstripe suit in a dim ground-floor office lined with Arabic books like the multivolume "World of Civilizations."

"There was a stand from both the American government and President Bush to promote a democratic policy and protect its interests," he said, sipping from a cup of boiled water mixed with saffron. "But now there's concern among the Iraqi people that the democratic process is being threatened."

"The source of this is that some American figures have made statements that interfere with the results of the democratic process," he added. "These reservations began when the biggest bloc in Parliament chose its candidate for prime minister."

Charity Watchdog group BLASTS Barbara Bush Katrina "donation"

Houston -- In a city housing thousands of Katrina evacuees, Barbara Bush's donation to a local hurricane relief fund would not seem controversial.

But more than a few eyebrows were raised when the former first lady stipulated that part of her contribution was to be spent on educational software purchased from her son Neil's company, Ignite Learning of Austin, Texas.

"I would think if she wants to do something beneficial for Katrina victims, she shouldn't be making the decision that the vendor is her son," said Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy, a charity watchdog group....

"If everybody started doing that, it would ruin our whole system for tax-exempt organizations because people would be using them to benefit their business rather than for the public benefit," he said. "That's not why our government gives tax deductions for donations."

Harness Racing Results for 03-29-06

Record since 04-26-05

Win (349)

Place (105)

Show (31)

Out of the Money (90)


Freehold Raceway

Race # 3

Horse: FREE LANCE (Won)

Post Position: # 6

Pompano Park

Race # 7

Horse: VAREKAI (Place)

Post Position: # 6

Baghdad. Istanbul. What’s the Difference? The blogosphere nails a California Republican for his view of Iraq.


March 29, 2006 - Online sleuths can claim another victory. Howard Kaloogian, a Republican candidate in California’s 50th Congressional District, has removed a picture from his campaign Web site that he claimed was evidence that journalists are distorting how bad conditions are in Iraq. The photo purported to show a placid street scene in downtown Baghdad, including a hand-holding couple in Western dress and shoppers out for a stroll on a cobblestone street in an unmarred business district.

As it turns out, the photo is a genuine street scene—from Istanbul, Turkey.


By Wednesday, Kaloogian had replaced the photo from his campaign Web site, which was inaccessible due to heavy traffic Wednesday afternoon. The new photo is an aerial view of Baghdad—or at least, Kaloogian says it is.

Immigration and Globalization...

The IIE board includes David Rockefeller, Harvard President Larry Summers and long-time Rockefeller agents Paul Volcker and Pete Peterson.

What they more or less propose is integrating the US, Canada and Mexico. They hope to accomplish this by 2010.

First is the North American Commision to be appointed by government, but independent of government Then they propose making a group called the North American Parliamentary Group (NAPG) which would be comprised of legislators from all three countries.

Culture of Corruption: Whistleblowers allege influence peddling by Congressmen, VP in project

Raw Story

According to documents and whistleblowers concerning a San Diego wastewater treatment plant to be built in Tijuana, Mexico, Vice President Dick Cheney, Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Bob Filner (D-CA) and Brian Bilbray (R-CA) have allegedly advanced the project despite serious concerns from those involved.


In a letter to Cheney dated October 15, 2002, Bajagua Project manager Jim Simmons made clear that the Vice President had been instrumental in promoting Bajagua’s efforts.

“My colleagues and I are very grateful that you could spend some time with us in Roswell New Mexico on Monday October 14,” Simmons wrote. “We do appreciate your effort on our behalf and the wonderful job you and President Bush are doing for our country.”

The letter advised that Bajagua’s plans were being blocked by the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), which manages shared water resources on the boundary between the US and Mexico, and asked Cheney to “consider arranging a meeting to facilitate a successful result.”

'Asia must prepare for dollar collapse'

Tuesday 28 March 2006

East Asian economies need to prepare for a possible collapse of the US dollar, the Asian Development Bank says.

The warning comes as the US trade deficit reaches a record high and global interest rates continue to rise.

..."Our suggestion to Asian countries is: Don't take this continuous financing of the US current account deficit as given. If something happens then East Asian economies have to be prepared."

Culture of Corruption: Kaloogian Defended Bogus Iraq Photo


It now appears California GOP Congressional hopeful Howard Kaloogian was for his misidentified "Iraq" photo before he was against it. (Google cache of photo here -- it's third from top)

In a post on the Democratic Underground web site, "KBlagburn" wrote yesterday of a conversation he had with Kaloogian in which he tried to bring the error to the candidate's attention. Kaloogian stood by the photo and caption, according to KBlagburn.

Kaloogian's campaign did not confirm the conversation but said it was possible. "If that's the case, it's because [Kaloogian] didn't have the correct information," campaign volunteer David Krive told me.

Krive said he first heard Kaloogian admit the error this morning, in a phone conversation with a newspaper reporter.

Pulling a Con job on Americans... "It's like printing your own money"


Six months ago, the Federal Reserve quietly announced that as of March 20, 2006, they would no longer publish "M3" Data. The "M3" was the amount of cash the government printed to put into circulation, propping-up the U.S. economy.

As of eight days ago, M3 data is no longer being reported, so there is no way for the public, investors or bond holders to know how much currency exists - and no way to gauge how much a "dollar" is truly worth.

Three separate sources in the U.S. Treasury have told me that this week, the federal reserve ordered TWO TRILLION dollars to be printed! The U.S. Treasury is allegedly running printing presses 24/7 to accommodate that order. Treasury employees were specifically ORDERED not to talk about this to anyone because it could cause economic collapse.

Elections officials to query GOP pundit .... Ann Coulter

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

This time, claiming she doesn't even live here — as GOP pundit Ann Coulter has been doing on this spring's college speaking tour when she's questioned about her February election meltdown on Palm Beach — isn't going to cut it.

Palm Beach County's elections supervisor has given the right wing's unofficial mouthpiece 30 days to explain why she voted in the wrong precinct.

In a registered letter scheduled to be sent to her this week, Coulter is asked to "clarify certain information as to her legal residence," elections boss Arthur Anderson said.

"We want to give her a chance," Anderson said. "She needs to tell us where she really lives."

Or else? He could refer the case to State Attorney Barry Krischer for criminal charges, Anderson said.

The letter, however, may be headed to the wrong house.

The bestselling author, whose The New Ann Coulter comes out in June, owns a homestead on Seabreeze Avenue, near Worth Ave. Yet, the missive is being sent to the Indian Road home of Realtor Suzanne Frisbie. Coulter claimed in official elections documents to be living there, which Frisbie denied last month.

"We have to send the registered letter to her address in our records," explained Charmaine Kelly, elections chief deputy. "If it comes back unsigned, we'll deal with that."

In his official incident report released last week, poll worker Jim Whited wrote that Coulter tried to vote in the Feb. 7 town council election at Bethesda-by-the-Sea, the right place for a Seabreeze resident. Coulter left in a hurry when, Whited said, he asked her to correct the record. Later she cast her ballot at the St. Edward's precinct, where real Indian Road residents go.

Coulter, a constitutional lawyer who relentlessly made fun of Palm Beach County voters after the botched 2000 presidential election, couldn't be reached for comment.

Harness Racing Picks for 03-29-06

Record since 04-26-05

Win (348)

Place (104)

Show (31)

Out of the Money (90)


Freehold Raceway

Race # 3


Post Position: # 6

Pompano Park

Race # 7


Post Position: # 6

U.S. appeals to Iraq's cleric (Sistani) to help end political impasse

BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. officials sent a message this week to Iraq's senior religious cleric asking that he help end the impasse over forming a new Iraqi government and strongly implying that the prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jafaari, should withdraw his candidacy for re-election, according to American officials.

The unusual decision by the White House to reach out to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani suggested how eager the Bush administration is to jump-start negotiations that have failed to produce Iraq's first permanent postwar government more than three months after national elections.

But by contacting the revered Shiite Muslim leader, the administration risks further angering Iraqi leaders, who already complain that the United States is interfering too much with the process.
The administration's outreach to al-Sistani underscored how much Bush has at stake in ending Iraq's political stalemate, which has gone on for months as violence continues.

"What it reflects - we are, we're deeper into this process," the administration official said.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Culture of Corruption: Record Shows Senators' 'Debate' That Wasn't


According to the official Congressional Record of Dec. 21, 2005, Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) held a long conversation on the Senate floor about an amendment bearing Graham's name that restricts the legal rights of detainees in the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"I agree entirely," Graham responds to Kyl at one point. "I have just been handed a memorandum on this subject," Kyl says later. Another Republican senator, Sam Brownback of Kansas, interrupts the two with his own commentary.

But those exchanges never occurred. Instead, the debate -- which runs 15 pages and brims with conversational flourishes -- was inserted into the Congressional Record minutes before the Senate gave final approval to the legislation.

In legal briefs to the Supreme Court, which took up the issue yesterday, the Justice Department cites the material as evidence that Congress intended the Detainee Treatment Act to retroactively invalidate pending legal challenges by hundreds of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. Graham and Kyl submitted a friend-of-the-court brief asserting the same thing.

Some Democrats, including Sen. Carl M. Levin (Mich.), whose name is also on the amendment to the law, have argued otherwise. They contend that the law was written to allow cases filed before its enactment to go forward.

The inserted floor debate, known in Senate parlance as a "colloquy," has since become an intriguing side issue in the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's former driver, whose case was at issue before the court yesterday.

Hamdan's lawyers complained about the colloquy in a recent legal filing, and the origin of Graham's and Kyl's comments has drawn recent attention on legal Web sites and on The subject did not come up during yesterday's Supreme Court argument, which focused on broader issues......

Bush Meeting Reporters Off the Record

WASHINGTON (AP) -- At a low ebb of his presidency, George Bush is quietly meeting with small groups of White House reporters in off-the-record sessions.

The meetings, designed for informal discussion, are an expansion of off-the-record chats that Bush has held with new White House beat reporters for several years. Previous presidents have met with reporters in similar settings, and other Washington newsmakers also hold occasional off-the-record sessions.

The Associated Press and other news organizations have participated in the meetings with Bush. The New York Times said Tuesday that it would not.

''We welcome any and all opportunities to talk to the president, and all other newsmakers for that matter,'' AP Washington bureau chief Sandy Johnson said. Off-the-record meetings are not a substitute for on-the-record sessions, she said.

Bush has been available to the press corps in a variety of formats: one-on-one interviews, group interviews, photo opportunities and wide-ranging news conferences.

Last week, Bush held the 28th full news conference of his presidency.

A separate tactic in Washington -- background briefings to large groups of reporters on condition that none of the information be attributed to anyone by name -- is widely opposed by news organizations, including the AP.

Fitzgerald Will Seek New White House Indictments

Tuesday 28 March 2006

It may seem as though it's been moving along at a snail's pace, but the second part of the federal investigation into the leak of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson is nearly complete, with attorneys and government officials who have remained close to the probe saying that a grand jury will likely return an indictment against one or two senior Bush administration officials.

These sources work or worked at the State Department, the CIA and the National Security Council. Some of these sources are attorneys close to the case. They requested anonymity because they were not permitted to speak publicly about the details of the investigation.

In lengthy interviews over the weekend and on Monday, they said that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has started to prepare the paperwork to present to the grand jury seeking an indictment against White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove or National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.

Although the situation remains fluid, it's possible, these sources said, that Fitzgerald may seek to indict both Rove and Hadley, charging them with perjury, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy related to their roles in the leak of Plame Wilson's identity and their effort to cover up their involvement following a Justice Department investigation

ACLU WINS: Pentagon concedes Abu Ghraib photo, video case


The American Civil Liberties Union today announced that the Department of Defense has withdrawn its appeal of a district court order compelling it to turn over images depicting detainee abuse by U.S. forces at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The Defense Department will identify which public images come from the contested trove and release any additional images in its possession.

The group's release, issued to RAW STORY, follows.

"A picture is worth a thousand words, but we have yet to hear one word of acknowledgment from Secretary Rumsfeld and other top officials that their policies and actions were responsible for the torture and abuse seen in these notorious photos," said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. "The ACLU will press on with its lawsuit to hold high-level officials accountable for creating policies that resulted in the abuse of detainees. If the American government wants to restore faith in our commitment to human rights, we must hold high-ranking officials accountable for their actions."

Today's developments mean that an earlier district court decision concerning the photographs will stand. That decision, written by Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein, held that "Publication of the photographs is central to the purposes of FOIA because they initiate debate, not only about the improper and unlawful conduct of American soldiers, 'rogue' soldiers, as they have been characterized, but also about other important questions as well -- for example, the command structure whose failures in exercising supervision may make them culpable along with the soldiers who were court-martialed for perpetrating the wrongs."


The government has not officially informed the ACLU as to how many images in its possession have not been published on, but they are believed to be few in number. The ACLU has not seen these images

US envoy 'calls for new Iraqi PM'


The US ambassador to Iraq has told Shia leaders that the US government does not want Ibrahim Jaafari to remain prime minister, senior Shia politicians say.
Zalmay Khalilzad said President George W Bush "doesn't want, doesn't support, doesn't accept" the retention of Mr Jaafari, Rida Jawad al-Takki said.

Mr Jaafari's spokesman accused the US of trying to subvert Iraqi sovereignty.

The Shia United Iraqi Alliance chose Mr Jaafari as its candidate in February after winning December's election.

Democrats to Unveil Comprehensive Real Security Program Tomorrow

News Advisory:

House and Senate Democrats will hold a major event tomorrow at 1 p.m. to unveil the comprehensive Democratic plan to protect America: Real Security. Despite their tough talk, Republican's incompetence has made America less safe. Democrats will offer tough and smart policies to provide the real security that Americans expect and demand.

Driver fights ticket for "Bush" bumper sticker

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

It was 9:30 on a recent Friday night when Denise Grier saw blue lights in her rearview mirror.


"The officer asked if I knew I had a lewd decal on my car and I thought, 'Oh gosh, what did my kids put on my car?' "

As it turns out, the decal was an anti-Bush bumper sticker Grier slapped on her 2001 Chrysler Sebring last summer. The bumper sticker — "I'm Tired Of All The BUSH—" — contains an expletive.

The officer "said DeKalb had an ordinance about lewd decals and wrote me a ticket" for $100, said Grier, an oncology nurse at Emory University Hospital who lives in Athens.

This Just In on the Censure Hearing Schedule Question…

By Christy Hardin Smith

I received this directly from Sen. Feingold’s office. Doesn’t answer the question as to whether or not the hearing will be held on Friday — but it does raise some interesting questions as to what Sen. Specter was blathering on about at the end of the NSA hearing today about Feingold asking for a postponement, now doesn’t it?

Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold

In Response to Chairman Specter’s Comments Regarding the Scheduled Hearing on the Censure Resolution

March 28, 2006

There is no truth to the claim made today by Chairman Specter that I have asked for a postponement of Friday’s hearing on the censure resolution and I am very puzzled how the Chairman could have reached that conclusion. I hope the Chairman is not backing away from his commitment to hold the hearing on Friday morning.

FDL: "Very interesting. I believe it is your move, Chairman Specter."

South Dakota Tribe to setup Planned Parenthood Clinic

The President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Cecilia Fire Thunder, was incensed. A former nurse and healthcare giver she was very angry that a state body made up mostly of white males, would make such a stupid law against women.

"To me, it is now a question of sovereignty," she said to me last week. "I will personally establish a Planned Parenthood clinic on my own land which is within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation where the State of South Dakota has absolutely no jurisdiction."

In the Bush administration, this is grounds for a promotion.

Under Bolten’s Leadership, Federal Debt Ballooned By $1.8 Trillion In 34 Months

$6.592 trillion: Federal debt on June 26, 2003, the day Josh Bolten became director of the Office of Management and Budget.

$8.364 trillion: Federal debt today.

O'Reilly, others smear veteran journalist Helen Thomas over exchange with Bush

After the contentious exchange between Hearst Newspapers columnist Helen Thomas and President Bush during Bush's March 21 press conference, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly and several other conservative commentators rushed to attack Thomas. O'Reilly accused her of "hat[ing] Bush and try[ing] to undermine everything he does," and even suggesting that if he were Bush, he "would have laid her out." Several other conservative media figures -- including Jonah Goldberg, Fred Barnes, Glenn Beck, and Tucker Carlson -- have followed suit, sometimes with highly personal attacks. Read more

CBS falsely suggested new IRS proposal on selling tax info "improve[s] taxpayer protections"; in fact, selling would expand

On the CBS Evening News, Washington correspondent Bob Orr characterized a recent Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations proposal allowing tax return preparers to sell information from returns to third parties as spelling out a "loophole of sorts" that has "been around for more than 30 years." In fact, in permitting sales to third parties, the new proposal would allow tax preparers to do something they are not currently permitted to do; under current law, they can pass on such information only to affiliates. Read more

O'Reilly: "The print press does not care about the children"

Relying on his distortions and mischaracterizations of the positions of the "left-leaning" newspapers he targets, Bill O'Reilly claimed, during a discussion on his radio show about child abuse, that "[t]he print press does not care about the children." Read more

Bumiller echoed White House denials that Bush is criticizing media over Iraq coverage

During a roundtable discussion on NBC's Meet the Press, New York Times reporter Elizabeth Bumiller uncritically repeated Bush administration assertions that the administration was not attempting to blame the media for negative public opinion about the Iraq war. In fact, administration officials have repeatedly suggested that the media have painted a distorted and disproportionately negative picture of Iraq. Read more

Matthews falsely suggested Murtha proposal for Iraq withdrawal "got what, 18 votes?"

Chris Matthews falsely suggested that a proposal by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA) to redeploy U.S. forces from Iraq "got what, 18 votes?" In fact, Murtha's proposal -- to require the president to withdraw American troops from Iraq "at the earliest practicable date" -- has not been put to a vote in the House of Representatives. Read more

Three Groups of Gunmen Kidnap 24 Iraqis

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Three groups of gunmen kidnapped at least 24 Iraqis working at a currency exchange and two electronics stores in Baghdad on Tuesday, the interior ministry said. The abductions happened separately but within the same half-hour period, the ministry said.

Fifteen gunmen wearing military uniforms but arriving in civilian cars stormed the Moussa Bin Nasir Exchange Co. in the southwest Harthiyah neighborhood at about 1 p.m., kidnapping six people and stealing tens of thousands of dollars, police Lt. Col. Ali Rashid said.

At around the same time, seven gunmen in civilian clothes ran into a Daewoo International electronics store in the downtown Karradah district and snatched three employees, including the store manager, police Lt. Thaer Mahmoud said.

A half-hour later, masked gunmen in military uniforms and helmets stormed a different branch of the same company in eastern Baghdad, abducting 15 employees, Lt. Col. Falah al-Mohmmedawi said. They also arrived in civilian cars.

Card Resigns as White House Chief of Staff, Administration Official Says

Andrew Card resigns as Chief of Staff...
West wing boss will be replaced by Budget Director Josh Bolton; Developing...


Card Resigns as White House Chief of Staff, Administration Official Says
The Associated Press
Tuesday, March 28, 2006; 8:00 AM

White House chief of staff Andy Card has resigned and will be replaced by budget director Josh Bolten, an administration official said Tuesday.

President Bush was expected to announce the shake up during a meeting with reporters with reporters later Tuesday morning in the Oval Office of the White House.

Card, 59, served as secretary of transportation for President George H.W. Bush. He was previously a vice president at General Motors, and a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Card is married with three children.

The move comes amid a sharp decline in Bush's approval ratings and calls from Republicans for the president to bring in new aides with fresh ideas and new energy.

Culture of Corruption: As parting gift, Duke cut check to NRCC

The Hill

Before former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.) headed to prison, he prepared a small parting gift intended to help his colleagues in the upcoming election: a $2,000 check from his expiring campaign committee to the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).

That relatively small gesture, made Dec. 13 according to Cunningham’s campaign records, followed on the heels of an Oct. 24 donation of $11,684 to the NRCC. It also came about two weeks after he admitted to taking $2.4 million in bribes to direct government business to certain defense contractors.

NRCC spokesman Carl Forti said yesterday that the party never received the $2,000 check and that it has “no plans” to return the nearly $12,000 it accepted before Cunningham’s Nov. 28 guilty plea.

“I mailed it to them,” said Cunningham’s campaign treasurer, Kenneth Batson. “If it hasn’t cleared, I’ll stop payment and send it again.”

Batson said he hopes to close Cunningham’s account this quarter, which ends Friday.

Retired Generals Want Scalia Off Gitmo Case

WASHINGTON, (AP) -- Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was asked Monday to stay out of a case involving a foreign detainee because of remarks Scalia made about the rights of enemy combatants.

Speaking at the University of Freiberg in Switzerland on March 8, Scalia said foreigners waging war against the United States have no rights under the Constitution.

Justices were hearing arguments Tuesday in the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden. His lawyers argue that President Bush overstepped his authority when he ordered Hamdan and other alleged enemy combatants to face special military trials.

Hamdan's lawyers have not called for Scalia to step aside. Instead, five retired generals who support Hamdan's arguments sent a letter late Monday to the court with the request that Scalia withdraw from participating in the case. They say Scalia appears to have prejudged the case.

Monday, March 27, 2006

DP World Exec's Nomination Withdrawn

WASHINGTON - An executive with a Dubai-owned company withdrew his nomination as head of the agency that oversees ports in a letter to President Bush on Monday.

Bush in January nominated David Sanborn, DP World's director of operations for Europe and Latin America, to head the Maritime Administration.


Former presidential candidate John Kerry, D-Mass., and Sen. Bill Nelson (news, bio, voting record), D-Fla., put holds on Sanborn's nomination, saying they needed to know more about his role in the process that allowed DP World to purchase the port operations in the first place.

"I hope the withdrawal of this nomination means the administration is finally waking up to the homeland security problems with our ports, not just saving face after the merciful end of the Dubai debacle," said Kerry.

Leniency Letters Offer New Abramoff View

WASHINGTON -- Fallen lobbyist Jack Abramoff may be persona non grata in official Washington, but plenty of his friends in the outside world are singing his praises in an effort to spare him prison time.

More than 260 people _ including rabbis, military officers, a professional hockey referee, a congressman and a U.S. territorial governor _ all wrote letters asking a federal judge for leniency when Abramoff is sentenced on fraud charges Wednesday in Florida.

Their letters, obtained by The Associated Press, put a new spin on the foibles and crimes of a man who became the face of Washington's latest corruption scandal.
Once nearly omnipresent on Capitol Hill, where he doled out political donations and lent his restaurant to lawmakers for fundraisers, Abramoff got just a single letter of support from a member of Congress _ his longtime friend Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif.

Iraqi blogger nominated for UK book prize

LONDON - The anonymous female author of an Iraqi “blog”, whose Web site entitled “Baghdad Burning” mixes humour, despair and acerbic political commentary, has been nominated for a major literary prize in Britain.

Known only as Riverbend, the self-styled “Girl Blog from Iraq” has been sending regular dispatches since August 2003.

In her first entry, she wrote: “I’m female, Iraqi and 24. I survived the war. That’s all you need to know. It’s all that matters these days anyway”.

Soon afterwards she explained how she lost her job in a computer software company when it was deemed too dangerous for her to go to work.

London Mayor describes US Ambassador as “car salesman”

LONDON - Ken Livingstone, London’s maverick mayor, Monday launched a broadside against the US Ambassador to Britain, describing the top diplomat as a “car salesman” and an ally of President George W Bush.

Livingstone’s outburst against Ambassador Robert Holmes Tuttle followed the alleged refusal by US embassy staff to pay the daily congestion charge imposed on drivers entering the centre of London. snip

“This new ambassador is a car salesman and an ally of President Bush. This is clearly a political decision”, he added.

Tuttle was sworn in as ambassador on July 14, 2005. He is a managing partner of Tuttle-Click Automotive Group, one of the largest automobile dealer organizations in the US.

US debt clock running out of time, space

NEW YORK - Tick, 20,000 dollars, tock, another 20,000 dollars. So rapid is the rise of the US national debt, that the last four digits of a giant digital signboard counting the moving total near New York’s Times Square move in seemingly random increments as they struggle to keep pace.

The national debt clock, as it is known, is a big clock. A spot-check last week showed a readout of 8.3 trillion -- or more precisely 8,310,200,545,702 -- dollars ... and counting.

But it’s not big enough.

Sometime in the next two years, the total amount of US government borrowing is going to break through the 10-trillion-dollar mark and, lacking space for the extra digit such a figure would require, the clock is in danger of running itself into obsolescence.

US accuses Shiites of faking massacre

BAGHDAD, March 27 (Reuters) - U.S. commanders in Iraq on Monday accused powerful Shi'ite groups of moving the corpses of gunmen killed in battle to encourage accusations that U.S.-led troops massacred unarmed worshippers in a mosque.

"After the fact, someone went in and made the scene look different from what it was. There's been huge misinformation," Lieutenant General Peter Chiarelli, the second-ranking U.S. commander in Iraq, said.

He rejected the accusations of a massacre that prompted the Shi'ite-led government to demand U.S. forces cede control of security but declined to spell out which group he believed moved the bodies.

Government-run television has shown footage of bodies lying without weapons in what Shi'ite ministers say is a mosque compound run by radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. The security minister accused Iraqi and U.S. troops of killing 37 unarmed men.

Rove said to be cooperating in CIA leak inquiry

Raw Story

Karl Rove, Deputy White House Chief of Staff and special adviser to President George W. Bush, has recently been providing information to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in the ongoing CIA leak investigation, sources close to the investigation say.

According to several Pentagon sources close to Rove and others familiar with the inquiry, Bush's senior adviser tipped off Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to information that led to the recent "discovery" of 250 pages of missing email from the office of Vice President Dick Cheney.

Rove has been in the crosshairs of Fitzgerald's investigation into the outing of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson for what some believe to be retaliation against her husband, former U.S. Ambassador to Gabon, Joseph Wilson. Wilson had been an ardent critic of pre-war Iraq intelligence.

While these sources did not provide any details regarding what type of arrangements Rove's attorney Robert Luskin may have made with the special prosecutor's office, if any, they were able to provide some information regarding what Rove imparted to Fitzgerald's team. The individuals declined to go on the record out of concern for their jobs.

Moussaoui 'targeted White House'


Self-confessed al-Qaeda plotter Zacarias Moussaoui has testified in a US court that he had planned to hijack a jet and fly it into the White House.
He denied direct involvement in the New York attacks of 11 September 2001, but admitted he had known about them.

Moussaoui, 37, said he lied to investigators after his arrest in August 2001 so the attacks took place.

Defence lawyers tried to stop him incriminating himself in an effort to stave off a possible death penalty.

The Moroccan-born French citizen pleaded guilty last year to conspiring with al-Qaeda to attack the US.


Under cross-examination from prosecutor Robert Spencer, Moussaoui told the court that he had lied after being arrested in Minnesota in August 2001.

Although he did not know exactly when the attacks planned against New York and Washington were due to take place, Moussaoui said he realised that misleading investigators would ensure they were carried out.

He also told the court that he and convicted "shoe-bomber", British-born Richard Reid, were recruited to hijack another aircraft and fly it into the White House after the initial strikes.

Prosecution 'gift'

In a day of confusing testimony at the court in Virginia, it was not immediately clear whether Moussaoui and Reid were due to attack Washington on 11 September 2001 or soon afterwards.

Moussaoui has become well-known for his unpredictable outbursts while in the witness box.

During frequent appearances before the US courts he has sometimes contradicted earlier testimony and appeared mentally unstable.

However, the BBC's Justin Webb, in Washington, says it looks like the prosecution has received something of a gift from Moussaoui.

They have said all along that he knew enough about the 11 September plot to stop it happening, and that appears to be what he has said in court, our correspondent adds.

Iraq minister says US, Iraqi troops killed 37 civilians

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's security minister, a Shi'ite political ally of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, accused U.S. and Iraqi troops on Monday of killing 37 unarmed people in an attack on a mosque complex a day earlier.

"At evening prayers, American soldiers accompanied by Iraqi troops raided the Mustafa mosque and killed 37 people," Abd al-Karim al-Enzi, minister of state for national security, said.

"They were all unarmed. Nobody fired a single shot at them (the troops). They went in, tied up the people and shot them all. They did not leave any wounded behind," he told Reuters.

Shi'ite politicians had earlier said 20 people were killed at the mosque. The U.S. military's account of Sunday evening's incident said Iraqi special forces with U.S. advisers killed 16 "insurgents", arrested 15 people and freed an Iraqi hostage. The military denied entering any mosque.

IRAQ: Officials note rise in drug trafficking, consumption

BAGHDAD, 27 March (IRIN) - Officials at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs are concerned about a noticeable increase in drug trafficking and drug addiction, especially following the seizure of large quantities of "class A" narcotics by police.

"We estimate that more than 5,000 Iraqis are consuming drugs in the south today, especially heroin, compared with 2004, when there were only around 1,500," said Dr Kamel Ali, a senior official in the health ministry's anti-narcotics programme. "We fear the number could be as high as 10,000 countrywide."

According to Sinan Youssef, a senior official in the social affairs ministry's strategy department, addictions are mainly to heroin, cocaine and marijuana. Local prices for these illicit commodities vary from US $15 to $30 per gram of heroin, and from $10 to $25 per gram of cocaine.

In the past three months, Youssef explained, more than 40 cases of addiction were reported in the capital, Baghdad, and about 50 others in the south of the country. "Kerbala and Najaf are the biggest consumers of drugs," he said.

Al-Qaeda trial lands FBI in dock for criminal ineptitude,,11069-2102266,00.html

This week a wealth of new evidence of how the FBI bungled the Moussaoui investigation became so Pythonesque in its absurdity that even the victims' families were roaring with laughter. Into the witness box stepped Harry Samit, the FBI agent who arrested Moussaoui. He was called by the prosecution but became the star witness of the defence.

He said that he warned his supervisors more than 70 times that Moussaoui was an al-Qaeda operative who might be plotting to hijack an airplane and fly it into a building. He said that he was regularly thwarted by two superiors, David Frasca and Michael Maltbie, from obtaining a warrant to search Moussaoui's flat. He accused the men of being criminally negligent. Mr. Maltbie told him that getting a warrant, which could be troublesome, might harm his -- Maltbie's -- career prospects. Mr. Maltbie has since been promoted.

On Tuesday Ed MacMahon, Moussaoui's defence laywer, cross-examined Michael Rolince, of the FBI. He was there to defend the bureau, but his answers brought down the house. Mr. Rolince was forced to concede that he had never seen an April 2001 intelligence briefing paper warning that bin Laden was preparing to mount an attack, even though he had signed it. Mr. MacMahon then introduced an April 13, 2001, FBI communication, approved by Mr. Rolince, giving warning about bin Laden's threat inside the US. Mr Rolince said that he had not approved it.

"Is it possible for a document to say you approved it if you have not approved it?" the judge asked.

"Absolutely," he replied. With that, the jury, the press benches, the victims' families and the press gallery erupted in laughter.

Baghdad governor says suspends cooperation with US

BAGHDAD, March 27 (Reuters) - Baghdad provincial governor Hussein al-Tahan said on Monday he would suspend all cooperation with U.S. forces until an independent investigation is launched into the killing of 20 Shi'ites in a mosque.

"Today we decided to stop all political and service cooperation with the U.S. forces until a legal committee is formed to investigate this incident," he told reporters, adding that the inquiry panel should include the U.S. embassy and the Iraqi defence ministry but not the U.S. military.

Blast at US Base in Mosul

MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters) - A bomb exploded inside a joint U.S.-Iraq base in Mosul on Monday and many people were feared dead, Interior Ministry sources said.

The sources said the explosion targeted Iraqi army recruits. One Interior Ministry source said the attack may have been carried out by a suicide bomber strapped with explosives but it was not immediately possible to verify this.

The Top 10 Conservative Idiots, No. 238

March 27, 2006 · It's spring again, which could only mean one thing: Open season on conservative idiocy! The liberal blogosphere bagged another trophy last week, this time in the form of Ben Domenech, much to the shame of the Washington Post. But that's not all! by EarlG


"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," wrote Emma Lazarus, in a poem that still puts a lump in my throat. I'm proud of America's immigrant history, and grateful that the door was open when my grandparents fled Russia.

In other words, I'm instinctively, emotionally pro-immigration. But a review of serious, nonpartisan research reveals some uncomfortable facts about the economics of modern immigration, and immigration from Mexico in particular.

If people like me are going to respond effectively to anti-immigrant demagogues, we have to acknowledge those facts.

First, the net benefits to the U.S. economy from immigration, aside from the large gains to the immigrants themselves, are small.

Realistic estimates suggest that immigration since 1980 has raised the total income of native-born Americans by no more than a fraction of 1 percent.

Second, while immigration may have raised overall income slightly, many of the worst-off native-born Americans are hurt by immigration — especially immigration from Mexico.

Because Mexican immigrants have much less education than the average U.S. worker, they increase the supply of less-skilled labor, driving down the wages of the worst-paid Americans.

The most authoritative recent study of this effect, by George Borjas and Lawrence Katz of Harvard, estimates that U.S. high school dropouts would earn as much as 8 percent more if it weren't for Mexican immigration.

That's why it's intellectually dishonest to say, as President Bush does, that immigrants do "jobs that Americans will not do."

The willingness of Americans to do a job depends on how much that job pays — and the reason some jobs pay too little to attract native-born Americans is competition from poorly paid immigrants.

Finally, modern America is a welfare state, even if our social safety net has more holes in it than it should — and low-skill immigrants threaten to unravel that safety net.

Basic decency requires that we provide immigrants, once they're here, with essential health care, education for their children, and more.

As the Swiss writer Max Frisch wrote about his own country's experience with immigration, "We wanted a labor force, but human beings came." Unfortunately, low-skill immigrants don't pay enough taxes to cover the cost of the benefits they receive.

Worse yet, immigration penalizes governments that act humanely. Immigrants are a much more serious fiscal problem in California than in Texas, which treats the poor and unlucky harshly, regardless of where they were born.

We shouldn't exaggerate these problems. Mexican immigration, says the Borjas-Katz study, has played only a "modest role" in growing U.S. inequality.

And the political threat that low-skill immigration poses to the welfare state is more serious than the fiscal threat: the disastrous Medicare drug bill alone does far more to undermine the finances of our social insurance system than the whole burden of dealing with illegal immigrants.

But modest problems are still real problems, and immigration is becoming a major political issue. What are we going to do about it?

Realistically, we'll need to reduce the inflow of low-skill immigrants. Mainly that means better controls on illegal immigration.

But the harsh anti-immigration legislation passed by the House, which has led to huge protests — legislation that would, among other things, make it a criminal act to provide an illegal immigrant with medical care — is simply immoral.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bush's plan for a "guest worker" program is clearly designed by and for corporate interests, who'd love to have a low-wage work force that couldn't vote.

Not only is it deeply un-American; it does nothing to reduce the adverse effect of immigration on wages. And because guest workers would face the prospect of deportation after a few years, they would have no incentive to become integrated into our society.

What about a guest-worker program that includes a clearer route to citizenship? I'd still be careful.

Whatever the bill's intentions, it could all too easily end up having the same effect as the Bush plan in practice — that is, it could create a permanent underclass of disenfranchised workers.

We need to do something about immigration, and soon. But I'd rather see Congress fail to agree on anything this year than have it rush into ill-considered legislation that betrays our moral and democratic principles.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Bush Was Set on Path to War, Memo by British Adviser Says


LONDON — In the weeks before the United States-led invasion of Iraq, as the United States and Britain pressed for a second United Nations resolution condemning Iraq, President Bush's public ultimatum to Saddam Hussein was blunt: Disarm or face war.

But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair's top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.


The memo indicates the two leaders envisioned a quick victory and a transition to a new Iraqi government that would be complicated, but manageable. Mr. Bush predicted that it was "unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups." Mr. Blair agreed with that assessment.

The memo also shows that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire, or assassinating Mr. Hussein.

'Beheaded bodies' found in Iraq


Iraqi security forces have found 30 bodies, all of them beheaded, near the town of Baquba, reports say.
Security officials said they found the bodies near the road by the village of Mulla Eed, to the south-west of Baquba.

The area has been plagued by sectarian violence between Shia and Sunni Muslims since the bombing of a Shia shrine in the city of Samarra in February.

Baquba, a mixed town home to Shia and Sunni Muslims, has itself been the focus of continuing violence.

Iraqi security officials confirmed that they had discovered the bodies of 30 people, thought to be men, near Mulla Eed,

Security forces were heading to the scene to collect the bodies and begin investigations, officials said.

Earlier on Sunday police in Baghdad said they had found at least 10 bodies, some of which had been handcuffed and shot.

Homeland security group to meet away from public eye


--- update A new advisory committee in the Homeland Security Department is free to disregard a law designed to keep meetings open and proceedings public, according to a departmental notice.

The newly created Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council is charged with sharing information aimed at protecting the nation's infrastructure, cybercomponents included. Michael Chertoff, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary, cited security reasons when he signed off on exempting the council from the Federal Advisory Committee Act, or FACA.

The decision, which many private-sector players had strongly recommended, was released in a departmental notice published Friday.

The council, which plans to meet at least quarterly, will bring together various federal agency employees and private-sector representatives to discuss the Department of Homeland Security's infrastructure protection plan, which remains in draft form. The fields represented range from agriculture and energy to information technology and telecommunications. Participants include the U.S. Telecom Association, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association and Internet infrastructure services provider VeriSign.


Ted Rall Says Lawsuit Against Coulter Now Possible


NEW YORK Editorial cartoonist Ted Rall announced on his blog that supporters have pledged enough money for him to sue columnist Ann Coulter. But the suit is still not 100% definite.

Rall didn't disclose the exact amount of money now pledged. But he had announced late last month -- when the total neared $20,000 -- that he was getting close.

The cartoonist is considering a suit against Coulter for her comment, made last month in a speech and in her column, that Rall was among those entering Iran's Holocaust cartoon contest. Given that Iran's leader has questioned the Holocaust's existence, Rall feels Coulter's followers might have gotten the false impression that he's also a Holocaust revisionist (E&P Online, Feb. 16).

Rall -- who, like Coulter, is with Universal Press Syndicate -- told E&P last month: "I was a history major in college, and World War II was my specialty. There's no Holocaust denier here."

In his Friday blog entry, Rall stated: "Thanks to hundreds of generous pledgers we now have enough money committed to launching a slander and libel suit against Coulter for her remarks falsely claiming that I had entered Iran's Holocaust cartoon contest. Now I'm working with my lawyers on minutiae and legal research to make sure that those funds are used wisely. ...

"Of course, should this move forward, I will rely upon those of you who have not contributed to keep the lawsuit going all the way to the end. As for now, however, we probably have enough to get started."

Common Cause, League of Women Voters Decry FBI "Intimidation"

March 23, 2006: In a joint statement released on March 22, Common Cause President Chellie Pingee and League of Women Voters President Kay Maxwell said that the action of an FBI agent in Michigan concerning a recent speech by Pingree at a League event "smacks of intimidation."

"Our country faces many serious threats to our security, but surely none of those threats come from Common Cause or the League of Women Voters," Pingree said. "It is troubling to think that the FBI would scrutinize my remarks about the Patriot Act at a public meeting organized by the League of Women Voters. Surely the FBI's resources could be put to better use."

On March 14, Pingree participated on a panel on open government sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan that received news coverage in the local newspaper on March 17. A week after the panel, an FBI agent contacted the local League president, Susan Gilbert, to raise questions about Pingree's published remarks at the panel. In her brief comments addressing the law, Pingree raised some privacy and secrecy concerns about the USA PATRIOT Act, and praised Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) for their leadership on Freedom of Information issue.

According to Gilbert, FBI agent Al Dibrito said that Pingree's comments on the USA PATRIOT Act were "way off base," and that the League should have invited someone from the federal government to be on the panel and to respond. DiBrito then told Gilbert that she would be contacted by someone from the assistant U.S. attorney's office in Grand Rapids to give her the real story on the Patriot Act.

Writer jailed for defaming Kurdish leader in Iraq

ARBIL, Iraq, March 26 (Reuters) - A Kurdish writer was sentenced to 1-1/2 years in prison on Sunday for defaming Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani, in a case that has raised questions about the freedom of the press in postwar Iraq.

Kamal Karim, an Iraqi-born Kurd with Austrian citizenship, was originally sentenced to 30 years in jail for defaming Barzani but was retried.

"I swear by God I am not guilty. I am not satisfied with this verdict. I am a victim," Karim said after the sentence was pronounced. snip

Karim had published articles on a Kurdish website accusing Barzani and his Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of corruption and abuse of power.

Iraqis killed by US troops ‘on rampage’

Claims of atrocities by soldiers mount

THE villagers of Abu Sifa near the Iraqi town of Balad had become used to the sound of explosions at night as American forces searched the area for suspected insurgents. But one night two weeks ago Issa Harat Khalaf heard a different sound that chilled him to the bone.

Khalaf, a 33-year-old security officer guarding oil pipelines, saw a US helicopter land near his home. American soldiers stormed out of the Chinook and advanced on a house owned by Khalaf’s brother Fayez, firing as they went.

Khalaf ran from his own house and hid in a nearby grove of trees. He saw the soldiers enter his brother’s home and then heard the sound of women and children screaming.

“Then there was a lot of machinegun fire,” he said last week. After that there was the most frightening sound of all — silence, followed by explosions as the soldiers left the house.

Mortars Fired Near Shiite Cleric's Home

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Two mortar rounds fell within 50 yards of firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's home Sunday in the holy city of Najaf. The popular, anti-American Shiite leader was at home but not hurt, an aide said.

Two guards and a child were wounded in the attack, Sheik Sahib al-Amiri said.


"I call upon all brothers to stay calm and I call upon the Iraqi army to protect the pilgrims as the Nawasib (militants) are aiming to attack Shiites everyday," he said, referring to Wednesday's commemoration marking the death of the Prophet Muhammad.

Al-Sadr said American troops were trying to drag Iraqis into "sectarian wars."

Iraqi police major held for death squad role

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi authorities on Sunday arrested a police major accused of taking part in death squads, Interior Ministry officials said.

They said Arkan al-Bawi, who works in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad, was detained after visiting the Interior Ministry.

Sunni Arabs accuse the Shi'ite-led government of sanctioning death squads, a charge the government denies.

Bawi, whose brother is the chief of police in Diyala, was accused of operating in death squads in Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad.