Saturday, March 31, 2007

On vacation, dammit

I will miss my daily therapeutic rantings and snarling snarks until Wednesday. I may have internet access which might allow me to post comments, but I will leave my blog alone (allll alone *sniff*) until I return. I already feel quite sad....

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Obviously during the three days while I'm gone:

1) Bush will confess he is gay and the twins were a donation from Jeb.

2) Laura will run off with her drug dealer.

3) Abu Gonzales will find religion and be found at an airport beating a drum and wearing a toga.

4) Cheney will have health problems on top of his other health problems which will cause him to think he is emperor of the universe.

5) Rove will announce he is gay and run off with Jimmy/Jeff.

6) Paraguay will nationalize its land and take over several mansions, bunkers, and dungeons in a Bush family compound. Kenneth Lay will be found partying there with Osama.

7) Iran will diplomatically end the war in Iraq, create a democratic functioning society in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia. It will run off al-Qaeda, invent the electric car, a water purifier for small poor countries and stop global warming. Bush will still bomb April 6th.

What happens in China when you say no to developers

At least the view is good....

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Definition of a nail house:
update: ding zi hu (lit. "nail house"): person or household who refuses to move and bargains for unreasonably high compensation when the land is requisitioned for a construction project.
Apparently the woman has been without electricity or water for two years:

On March 19 the China Legal Daily published what it claims is the first interview with the woman who owns the house. Her demand? To be given an apartment in the new building that is going up on the same spot, with comparable square footage to the house she now lives in. This will be impossible, says the developer. According to Chongqing law, says the article, there are three possible ways to compensate owners in this type of situation: 1) provide housing on the same spot; 2) provide housing in another spot; 3) provide a sum of money. The city is only willing to provide Ms. Wu, the resident, with the third option, but she is not willing to accept a sum of money.

Because the two parties cannot come to an agreement, they have not budged since relocation at the site started in September, 2004. although excavation of the worksite is already well underway..."On January 11, 2007, the developer brought an administrative action against Ms. Wu with the department responsible for relocation, the Chongqing Jiulongpo District Housing Management Bureau. The result was a demand for the resident being relocated to voluntarily move within 15 days and to return the house to be demolished by the developer. If the party being relocated does not agree with this ruling he or she can file a suit with the Chongqing Jiulongpo District Court within 3 months or apply for a reconsideration within 60 days from the Chongqing Jiulongpo District Government or the Chongqing Municipal Housing Bureau.

Ms. Wu's response to the Legal Daily reporter: I simply won't accept this mistaken ruling!

The Jiulongpo District Housing Management Bureau says it will apply for a legal ruling to institute forced relocation.

China now is shutting down all media attention and silencing websites:

The owner, 51-year-old restaurateur Yang Wu, has become a folk hero in China for defending his property rights and refusing to surrender, even when his home became an isolated island in a vast excavated pit at a construction site.

But with the Chinese Internet rapidly transforming the case into a national media sensation, the government stepped into the fray this weekend, abruptly banning any further reporting or commenting on the nail house.

The publication ban was disclosed yesterday by China Digital Times, a website at the University of California that has close contacts with China's Internet community. It quoted a source saying that all Chinese web media were given an urgent notice on Saturday to delete all feature pages about the nail house, and to block access to all comments on the case.

Update 4/10: Via Phila at Bouphonia, Kosmograd has more.

Mark Frauenfelder of BoingBoing has a series of pics of people who said no and meant it.

Do as I say

Not as I do:

President Bush on Saturday said Iran's capture of 15 British sailors and marines was "inexcusable" and called for Iran to "give back the hostages" immediately and unconditionally.

Bush said Iran plucked the sailors out of Iraqi waters. Iran's president said Saturday they were in Iranian waters and called Britain and its allies "arrogant and selfish" for not apologizing for trespassing.

"It's inexcusable behavior," Bush said at the Camp David presidential retreat, where he was meeting with the president of Brazil. "Iran must give back the hostages. They're innocent. They did nothing wrong."

It was the first time that Bush had commented publicly on the captured Britons. Washington has taken a low-key approach to avoid aggravating tensions over the incident and shaking international resolve to get Iran to give up its uranium enrichment program.

Bush did not answer a question about whether the United States would have reacted militarily if those captured had been Americans. The president said he supports British Prime Minister Tony Blair's efforts to find a diplomatic resolution to the crisis, now in its second week.

Bush would not comment about Britain's options if Iran does not release the hostages, but he seemed to reject any swapping of the British captives for Iranians detained in Iraq.

But strangely, Bush is silent on what we have done with the 5 Iranian diplomats or how they have been treated:

WASHINGTON - As the Western media focus on the fate of 15 Britons detained for allegedly trespassing into Iranian waters, the status of five Iranian officials captured in a US military raid on a liaison office in northern Iraq on January 11 remains a mystery.

Even though high-level Iraqi officials have publicly called for their release, for all practical purposes, the Iranians have disappeared into the US-sanctioned "coalition detention" system that has been criticized as arbitrary and even illegal by many experts on international law.

Hours before US President George W Bush declared that they would "seek out and destroy the [Iranian] networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq", US forces raided what has been described as a diplomatic liaison office in the northern city of Irbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, and detained six Iranians, infuriating Kurdish officials in the process.

The troops took office files and computers, ostensibly to find evidence regarding the alleged role of Iranian agents in anti-coalition attacks and sectarian violence in Iraq. One diplomat was released, but the other five men remain in US custody and have not been formally charged with a crime.

"They have disappeared. I don't know if they've gone into the enemy combatant system," said Gary Sick, an Iran expert at Columbia University who served in the White House under president Jimmy Carter. "Nobody on the outside knows."

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Because Bush and Cheney demanded torture

We can't even activate moral outrage over what may happen to the 15 British sailors:
Instead of being able to take the high moral ground -- the ground where that beacon once shone -- we have to look at how such a tyrannical country as Iran abuses its captives and know that we are worse than Iran in how we treat our captives. We cannot look down from the moral high ground on Iran because we're sunk even deeper in the muck than they are.
The Guardian:

It's right that the government and media should be concerned about the treatment the 15 captured marines and sailors are receiving in Iran. Faye Turney's letters bear the marks of coercion, while parading the prisoners in front of TV cameras was demeaning. But the outrage expressed by ministers and leader writers is curious given the recent record of the "coalition of the willing" on the way it deals with prisoners.

Turney may have been "forced to wear the hijab", as the Daily Mail noted with fury, but so far as we know she has not been forced into an orange jumpsuit. Her comrades have not been shackled, blindfolded, forced into excruciating physical contortions for long periods, or denied liquids and food. As far as we know they have not had the Bible spat on, torn up or urinated on in front of their faces. They have not had electrodes attached to their genitals or been set on by attack dogs.

They have not been hung from a forklift truck and photographed for the amusement of their captors. They have not been pictured naked and smeared in their own excrement. They have not been bundled into a CIA-chartered plane and secretly "rendered" to a basement prison in a country where torturers are experienced and free to do their worst.

As far as we know, Turney and her comrades are not being "worked hard", the euphemism coined by one senior British army officer for the abuse of prisoners at Camp Bread Basket. And as far as we know all 15 are alive and well, which is more than can be said for Baha Mousa, the hotel receptionist who, in 2003, was unfortunate enough to have been taken into custody by British troops in Basra. There has of course been a court martial and it exonerated the soldiers of Mousa's murder. So we can only assume that his death - by beating - was self-inflicted; yet another instance of "asymmetrical warfare", the description given by US authorities to the deaths of the Guantánamo detainees who hanged themselves last year.

Discussion of the GPS position and the oddly shifting maps.

And you just now noticed, sir?

Brig. Gen. Stephen Mundt: (my bold)
"The U.S. is not at war, the military is at war," he told a group of Defense Department reporters, also complaining about the timing of how money flows from the government to pay for the purchases. "Industry, you have got to get to the point of where you're producing ... faster."
We are losing equipment faster than it can be replaced:
The U.S. Army has lost 130 helicopters in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, about a third to shoot-downs, its aviation director said Friday. He complained that industry is not replacing them fast enough.

"While the military may be on a war footing, our nation's industry is not on a war footing," said Brig. Gen. Stephen Mundt.

He said it takes 24 months to get replacement aircraft built and delivered and that replacements for the early losses are just now arriving.

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Doctor is a two syllable word

Via Holden at First Draft, Preznit Georgie Bush:
Every time I come to Walter Reed, I'm also impressed by the care givers -- the docs, the nurses, the people who spend many hours trying to heal those who have been wounded in service to our country... And so on behalf of a grateful nation, I do want to thank our docs and our nurses and care givers for providing extraordinary health care to the people who wear the uniform... I welcome General Schoomaker. But I also welcome General Tucker. Tucker is not a doc.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Now THIS is what we want to see more of!!

Update: Is this an April Fool's joke? Then I have delightedly fallen for it!

25 year old Disney movies being removed from circulation because it threatens national security! I feel so safe now!

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Via Rook at Rook's Rant, Kuro5hin:

BURBANK, CA - Reports are emerging from members of the movie industry that the Department of Homeland Security has designated the 1982 film TRON as "sensitive", and ordered Walt Disney Studios to turn over all copies of the film in its posession. Retailers are also receiving notices to remove all copies of the film from stock shelves and turn them over to Federal officials. The reports have industry insiders bewildered and outraged.


According to a Disney employee, the imbroglio is believed to have started when the studio began preparations to digitally remaster TRON for theatrical and HD-DVD release. Disney's plans were communicated to the FBI as a matter of long-standing routine (Walt Disney himself established a close working relationship with the FBI in the 1950's). The bureau expressed concern that the improved image quality from the restored film might reveal sensitive details about US nuclear research. Disney film experts reportedly countered that anything visible in the restored version was already visible, albeit slightly blurrier, in existing DVD copies. Approximately three days later, the DHS declared the film "sensitive" and demanded its surrender.

Although the studio has been working quietly to locate all its copies, it is not yet certain if they will comply with the demand. Apparently there is sharp division within the company about how to respond. "TRON is a landmark in film history. You can't simply make it go away," said a Disney employee who's been closely following the controversy. He also observed, "It was made during the Cold War. Nuclear secrets were sensitive then, too. Did they assume the Soviets wouldn't bother watching a Jeff Bridges film?" But another Disney employee closer to the decision-making process suggested the studio may not want to jeopardize its relationship with the FBI over the film. "Although it has a very dedicated fan base, TRON has never made a lot of money for us. Each release has only generated modest revenue, and the game was essentially a flop," referring to the PC game TRON 2.0 released in 2003. He added, "From a fiscal standpoint, it won't be a significant loss to the company if we decide to let them have it."

Now I have this mental picture in my mind of al-Qaeda types peering at their old VHS Tron copy and trying to figure out why it was impounded. Glow in the dark uniforms? Skinny cars? Getting zapped into your computer? Maybe the machinery behind the actors that says 'Toxic liquid ready for shipping 3/31/07'?

But thanks, Department of Homeland Security, for telling the terrorists exactly where to look and what to look for! Excellent job!

Hope springs eternal

Phila of Bouphonia and his Friday Hope Blogging.

California's snow pack is low

Drought times ahead:

State officials today took their penultimate Sierra snow survey for the season, and the news was grim.

The snow pack, an essential part of California's water supply, is far below normal, ranging from 55 percent of the average in the north to 40 percent in the south.

Authorities say there is enough water in California's reservoirs to assure normal deliveries to cities and farms this summer. But the scant expected runoff also means that reservoirs will be abnormally low in the fall, and another dry winter could spell dire water shortages throughout the state.

"If things are about the same next year, we could be looking at tight times," said Frank Gehrke, chief of the state Department of Water Resources' Snow Survey.

The lack of water could also mean an early start to fire season this year.

122 times

I forget, I don't remember, I can't recall, I am unable to think, I think I hear my mother calling me....
"I can't pretend to know or remember every fact that may be of relevance," he warned at the start -- and he wasn't kidding. He used the phrase "I don't remember" a memorable 122 times.

It may have been a tactical effort to limit his risk of perjury, but [Kyle] Sampson displayed the recall of a man who recently fell off a ladder.

"Since the 2004 election, did you speak with the president about replacing U.S. attorneys?" Leahy asked.

"I don't ever remember speaking to the president after the 2004 election," he said. (He later remembered that he had.) "Did you have further communications with the White House regarding the plan to regard and replace several U.S. attorneys?"

"I don't remember specifically."

"I wish you did remember," Leahy finally said. "I would hope that you would search your memory as we go along."


After Schumer elicited three consecutive I-don't-remembers, John Cornyn (R-Tex.) objected to the questioning style.

Leahy overruled him. "We're trying to find what in heaven's name he does remember," the chairman said.

Schumer persisted, eventually asking the witness a question about Rove's role. "I don't remember," Sampson said. "I don't remember anything like that. I don't think so. I don't remember. I don't remember."

Fathers: one homecoming, one not

It makes one weep. (Via Mia Culpa):

The war that didn't need to happen except for the neocon agenda, Cheney's oil grab, and Georgie's messiah complex. Rips families apart not only in the U.S. but in Iraq:

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Los Angeles Times Haidar Fatehi / AP

The Los Angeles Times:
BAGHDAD -- Angry rhetoric in some Shiite Muslim mosques today blamed the United States for one of Iraq's bloodiest days in months, a pair of bombings Thursday that killed more than 125 people in a Baghdad market and a town north of the capital.

Does this qualify as a gay voodoo limbo tango and wango dance?

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If not this, then could it be this?

I never knew we were responsible for so many countries

Did they invite us, ask us to be involved, or did we just assume they needed help? And at the moment, I don't think the world community wants us to be the self-appointed world policeman. We've made kind of a hash of it, don't you think?

From the United States Central Command website, here is their area of responsibility:

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(Got an eight minute visit from someone at this site (U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND (USCENTCOM)) checking out Operation Bite. Do you guys know something we don't know? Can we ask politely that you not attack Iran until we've cleaned up the messes we've made in Afghanistan and Iraq? And besides... we don't really have a reason to bomb Iran yet. Let's not have another disastrous preemptive strike to stop pretend WMDs.)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

You may say you are a Christian...

But only Dobson can say if you are a TRUE Christian or not:

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Focus on the Family founder James Dobson appeared to throw cold water on a possible presidential bid by former Sen. Fred Thompson while praising former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is also weighing a presidential run, in a phone interview Tuesday.

"Everyone knows he's conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for," Dobson said of Thompson. "[But] I don't think he's a Christian; at least that's my impression," Dobson added, saying that such an impression would make it difficult for Thompson to connect with the Republican Party's conservative Christian base and win the GOP nomination.

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Thompson, took issue with Dobson's characterization of the former Tennessee senator. "Thompson is indeed a Christian," he said. "He was baptized into the Church of Christ."

In a follow-up phone conversation, Focus on the Family spokesman Gary Schneeberger stood by Dobson's claim. He said that, while Dobson didn't believe Thompson to be a member of a non-Christian faith, Dobson nevertheless "has never known Thompson to be a committed Christian—someone who talks openly about his faith."

"We use that word—Christian—to refer to people who are evangelical Christians," Schneeberger added. "Dr. Dobson wasn't expressing a personal opinion about his reaction to a Thompson candidacy; he was trying to 'read the tea leaves' about such a possibility."

PZ Myers of Pharyngula's reaction:

I have to marvel at that. Suddenly, the ranks of the un-Christians have swollen immeasurably; a lot of the people I honestly like who go to church but aren't jerks about their religion, i.e., they don't proselytize, have been excommunicated by Pope Dobson, and are on my side in the War Against Religion. I have suddenly learned that none of the members of my family are Christians anymore — they may be a bit shocked to hear that, since they still go to church, but heck, High Authority, the Word of God's Holiest Representative in North America, is not to be gainsaid.

Any of you readers who are not true Christians in the eyes of Dobson might as well give it up now and join me in total godlessness. When the Republic of Gilead is established and the Dobsonites run the country, you're going to be up against the wall with the rest of us heretics, anyway.

Dobson the kingmaker? Look at who he supports:

While making it clear he was not endorsing any Republican presidential candidate, Dobson, who is considered the most politically powerful evangelical figure in the country, also said that Gingrich was the "brightest guy out there" and "the most articulate politician on the scene today."

Gingrich recently appeared on Dobson's daily Focus on the Family radio program, carried by upward of 2,000 American radio stations, where he made headlines by discussing an extramarital affair he was having even as he pursued impeachment against President Bill Clinton for his handling of the investigation into the Monica Lewinsky affair.

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Update: Via Rook's Rant, Mustang Bobby at Bark Bark Woof Woof has the last word:
Dr. Dobson and his crew keep predicting the End of Days and the Rapture when all of his like-minded "Christians" get beamed up to heaven, leaving behind all their clothes, worldly possessions, and the rest of us non-believers. As far as I'm concerned, it can't happen soon enough: all those annoying, constipated, gay-bashing busybodies will be gone, and we can sell all their stuff on E-Bay.

Pigs at the trough

A Republican president means loads of money for everyone! Every defense contractor that is:

NORFOLK - A Chesapeake defense contractor admitted in federal court Monday that his company bilked the Navy out of more than $600,000 by filing phony invoices.

Kennis Sigmon, president of The Sigmon Group, pleaded guilty on behalf of the company to two felony counts of filing false claims.

The company admitted submitting 33 phony invoices from 2001 to 2003 for contract work on Navy aircraft carriers the Carl Vinson and the Dwight D. Eisenhower.

I don't think the defense 'But everyone is doing it' will work anymore....

And do you think we will ever EVER see the money that is owed to us? From Enron? Halliburton? Do ya think?

Voter fraud

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Is a fraud. It actually allows Republicans to prevent people from voting, which has been their modus operandi since the beginning. I mean, what else can you do when the entire country is more liberal than your party?

As Congress probes the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, attention is centering on who knew what, and when. It's just as important to focus on "why," such as the reason given for the firing of at least one of the U.S. attorneys, John McKay of Washington state: failure to prosecute the phantom of individual voter fraud.

Allegations of voter fraud -- someone sneaking into the polls to cast an illicit vote -- have been pushed in recent years by partisans seeking to justify proof-of-citizenship and other restrictive ID requirements as a condition of voting. Scare stories abound on the Internet and on editorial pages, and they quickly become accepted wisdom.

But the notion of widespread voter fraud, as these prosecutors found out, is itself a fraud. Firing a prosecutor for failing to find wide voter fraud is like firing a park ranger for failing to find Sasquatch. Where fraud exists, of course, it should be prosecuted and punished. (And politicians have been stuffing ballot boxes and buying votes since senators wore togas; Lyndon Johnson won a 1948 Senate race after his partisans famously "found" a box of votes well after the election.) Yet evidence of actual fraud by individual voters is painfully skimpy.

What to do now? Michael Waldman and Justin Levitt go on in their article:

Congress should use this controversy as an opportunity to address true issues of voter protection. Experts have concluded that the most significant threat of fraud comes from electronic voting systems, now used by 80 percent of voters. Legislation introduced by Reps. Rush D. Holt (D-N.J.) and Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) would require a voter-verified record along with random audits to double-check against tampering. It would also bar wireless components from machines that could allow a hacker using a PDA to stage an attack. Lawmakers should also immediately stop pushing ID measures that would turn away legitimate voters.

Those investigating the U.S. attorney firings should ask what orders went out to other prosecutors in the run-up to the 2006 election. Prosecutors are not hired-gun lawyers on a party payroll. They have a special duty to exercise their power responsibly, particularly in the context of a heated election. Pressure on prosecutors to join a witch hunt for individual voter fraud is a scandal, not just for the Justice Department but for voters seeking to exercise their most basic right.

First of all, get rid of the Real ID act and the paperless electronic voting machines.

Update 3/30:
Ripley from Zen Cabin reviews a post from Project Vote about Republicans working hard to block votes and concludes:

Of course, this shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone who’s been awake the last seven years. The Republican Party knows – KNOWS – they can’t win elections fairly. Isn’t that right, Karl?

Recess appointments, suppressing the minority vote, firing uncooperative Prosecutors – it’s all part of the Scheme for the GOP. Take, take, take by hook or by crook. And look at the results the nation is left with: the Gulf coast, Iraq, illegal wiretaps of US citizens’ phone calls, Halliburton, Enron, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, etc. ad nauseum.

These alleged adults cheat like spoiled children – suspect voting machines with no verification or oversight, voter registration scams, phone jamming scams – so they can get more of their incompetent friends into office, rob us blind and trash our house.

It’s 5 years too late but I hope the US Attorney fiasco tears their little organization to shreds. I want to see people in jail. I want to see people turning on Rove, Cheney, Gonzales, Bush and every other Republican jackanape so fast the Press can’t keep up with the names. I want to see the CBC on national television, demanding to know why Bush’s DOJ is ignoring, at best, this politically orchestrated rape of American citizens’ right to participate in the democratic process.

It's not convenient

We'll just stand back here and watch you circle the drain, thank you. Guess Cheney's frantic visit to Saudi Arabia didn't patch things.

Via Eli at Multi Medium, Jim Hoagland of the Washington Post:

Now the White House ponders what Abdullah's sudden and sparsely explained cancellation of the dinner signifies. Nothing good -- especially for Condoleezza Rice's most important Middle East initiatives -- is the clearest available answer.

Abdullah's bowing out of the April 17 event is, in fact, one more warning sign that the Bush administration's downward spiral at home is undermining its ability to achieve its policy objectives abroad. Friends as well as foes see the need, or the chance, to distance themselves from the politically besieged Bush.

Official versions discount that possibility, of course. Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi national security adviser, flew to Washington last week to explain to Bush that April 17 posed a scheduling problem. " 'It is not convenient' was the way it was put," says one official.

But administration sources report that Bush and his senior advisers were not convinced by Bandar's vagueness -- especially since it followed Saudi decisions to seek common ground with Iran and the radicals of Hezbollah and Hamas instead of confronting them as part of Rice's proposed "realignment" of the Middle East into moderates and extremists.

Abdullah's reluctance to be seen socializing at the White House this spring reflects two related dynamics: a scampering back by the Saudis to their traditional caution in trying to balance regional forces, and their displeasure with negative U.S. reaction to their decision to return to co-opting or placating foes.

Abdullah gave a warm welcome to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Riyadh in early March, not long after the Saudis pressured Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas into accepting a political accord that entrenches Hamas in an unwieldy coalition government with Abbas's Fatah movement.

"The Saudis surprised us by going that far," explained one White House official in a comment that reached -- and irritated -- Saudi officials. So don't count on Abdullah to put new force behind his long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative at the Arab summit scheduled this week in Riyadh.
So the romping in the flowers and the hand-holding means nothing?

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Patrick Fitzgerald's next case

(Via Cannablog), Conrad Black.

From Wikipedia, Black's financial controversies:

In the 1980s, Black reclaimed $62,000,000 from the surplus of the Dominion workers' pension fund, claiming the surplus was the property of the employer. The Union challenged Black in court and he was ordered to return the money to the workers. Black appealed the case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada which upheld the lower court's decision. [3]

On 17 November 2003, after an internal inquiry alleged that Black had received more than $7 million in unauthorized payments of company funds, it was announced that he would resign as chief executive of Hollinger. The SEC also launched an investigation of his company's affairs.

On 17 January 2004, Hollinger International reported that the executive committee of the board of directors had obtained Black's resignation as chairman. At the same time the special committee in Hollinger already investigating the unauthorised payments filed a lawsuit in New York for the recovery of the money. Hollinger International also filed a $200 million (USD) lawsuit against Lord Black and his former top lieutenant, David Radler, as well as the companies Black has used to control the publishing it.[4]

On 15 November 2004, the SEC filed civil fraud lawsuits against Lord Black and several others.[5]

On 17 November 2005, eleven criminal fraud charges were brought by U. S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald against Black and three former Hollinger executives. Eight of the criminal fraud charges are against Black, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest. After a hearing in late 2006, his bail was raised to $21 million (USD). His American trial was to begin in early 2007.

On 15 December 2005, four new federal charges were laid against Black by Fitzgerald in Chicago. The new counts include racketeering, obstruction of justice, money laundering and wire fraud. Under the racketeering count, Fitzgerald is seeking forfeiture of more than $92,000,000 (USD). The obstruction count against Black relates to a video that appears to show Black illegally removing more than a dozen boxes from the Toronto office of Hollinger Inc[6]. After the video became public, Black returned boxes of documents about a week later.

An agency of the American government has seized the proceeds of the sale of Black's and Amiel's New York apartment. Hollinger International Inc. sued Black for $200 million (USD) in January 2006.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Operation Bite?

Jurassicpork at Welcome to Pottersville says the April 6th is the date we attack Iran:
According to Russian journalist Andrei Uglanov of the Argumenty Nedeli, we’re launching an assault on Iran on April 6th in a massive, 12 hour air strike called Operation Bite. Of course, this story, while it may be fairly new (March 25th), is hardly news. I’ve been saying for months now that we’re going to hit Iran anytime now and Global Research and the Arab Times have been saying the same thing since at least the middle of January. What’s notable is that the April date has remained intact all this time, which indicates a specific timetable and an unshakable, longstanding agenda.

Don't forget Bush's naming of Admiral William "Fox" Fallon to replace Gen. John Abizaid as head honcho at the Central Command early this year. At first it looked to be yet another bizarre, inappropriate appointment by our bizarre preznit until one re-examined Fallon's biography a bit more closely and realized that he was exactly the sort of guy that Bush would need for an air/naval war with Iran.
The news is out there, all indications are there that Bush and Cheney want this to happen. Mark your calendars, call your congressperson, dig your bombshelter, hold on to your ass. This could get very interesting.

Just answer the question, ma'am.

Just the facts please.

Lurita Doan suddenly unable to remember whether she was there, whether she watched the powerpoint presentation, whether she said the things other people said she said. We are being so mean!

(Via Ripley at Zen Cabin.)

What we need right now is.....


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Found at I Can Has Cheezburger?

Update: Thank Goodness!! Somebody already called him in:

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Tracking Monica Goodling's resume

Leads us to the White House and the tentacles of the religious right infesting the Bush administration. Not capability, not competence, but rightwing religious fanaticism gets you hired.
Why are we not surprised?
While everyone's attention is focused on Monica Goodling's invocation of the Fifth, emails and Executive subornation of an objective process in how the DOJ selects its targets for prosecution, the larger point - Executive appointments, job qualifications and how failing to meet those qualifications led to mistakes.

Women in today's society

Via Pharyngula, smallboyonherbike wrote:
My customers often annoy me. They often make me mad, and often I think they are idiots.

However, they seldom make me want to physically assault them.

Today, though, I came very close to hitting someone.

I work at a bookstore. I was cashiering today when a woman and her two kids (a boy and a girl, both somewhere between 13-15) came up to the register. The mom was buying 2 celeb gossip magazines, and the boy put down a book. The girl then walked up and set down the newest volume of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series.

The mom says "You can't buy that."

Girl: Why?
Mom: Because it's too big.
Girl: [Brother] is buying a book that big. It's not very expensive.
Mom: [Brother] is a boy. You're a girl. And girls shouldn't read big books like that. It's too thick. Boys don't like girls who read thick books. You want boys to like you, don't you?

The girl went and put the book away.
My daughter showed me this wonderful cartoon by Shinga in Deviant Art which speaks to this.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Didn't we go through this with George Senior, too?

A boy sex scandal involving Abu Gonzales and a massive cover-up:

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, both already under siege for other matters, are now being accused of failing to prosecute officers of the Texas Youth Commission after a Texas Ranger investigation documented that guards and administrators were sexually abusing the institution's teenage boy inmates.

Among the charges in the Texas Ranger report were that administrators would rouse boys from their sleep for the purpose of conducting all-night sex parties.

(Via Tengrain of Mock Paper Scissors.)

Update: Just in case you think I'm just picking on George Senior for fun:
"Gannongate," which is only barely mentioned by the mainstream news media, threatens to expose a GOP pedophile and male prostitution ring dating back to the 1980s and the administration of George H. W. Bush. James D. Guckert, using the name Jeff Gannon and possibly other aliases, was also running gay porn sites, one with a U.S. Marine Corps theme that solicited males for prostitution.
The following archive paints a chilling portrait of what is really going on in the upper echelons of the ruling elite here in America. The story involves children from orphanages in Nebraska being flown around the United States by top Republican officials in order to engage in child sex orgies with America's ruling elite. It is a fact that during the 1980's, child sexual services were provided by top Republican officials to key, bureaucrats and diplomats but most importantly, there is a chilling proximity of all of these events and personalities, to the President of the United States at the time, George H.W. Bush. And there have been victims who claim that the President himself engaged in the activities. It is a tale of child sex, murder, espionage, blackmail, and huge payoffs. And all the players are involved. From the White House to the CIA to the media barrons to the Republican elite - right down to the orphanages where they procured their victims.
Interesting, isn't it?

Onion News Network

Immigration: The Human Cost

(Via Karen McL of Peripetia)

It's all about who DOESN'T get the oil

Greg Palast: (my bold)
In all the chest-beating about how the war did badly, no one seems to remember how the war did very, very well — for Big Oil.

The war has kept Iraq’s oil production to 2.1 million barrels a day from pre-war, pre-embargo production of over 4 million barrels. In the oil game, that’s a lot to lose. In fact, the loss of Iraq’s 2 million barrels a day is equal to the entire planet’s reserve production capacity.

In other words, the war has caused a hell of a supply squeeze — and Big Oil just loves it. Oil today is $57 a barrel versus the $18 a barrel price under Bill “Love-Not-War” Clinton.

Since the launch of Operation Iraqi Liberation, Halliburton stock has tripled to $64 a share — not, as some believe, because of those Iraq reconstruction contracts — peanuts for Halliburton. Cheney’s former company’s main business is “oil services.” And, as one oilman complained to me, Cheney’s former company has captured a big hunk of the rise in oil prices by jacking up the charges for Halliburton drilling and piping equipment.

But before we shed tears for Big Oil’s having to hand Halliburton its slice, let me note that the value of the reserves of the five biggest oil companies more than doubled during the war to $2.36 trillion.

And that was the plan: putting a new floor under the price of oil. I have that in writing. In 2005, after a two-year battle with the State and Defense Departments, they released to my team at BBC Newsnight the “Options for a Sustainable Iraqi Oil Industry.” Now, you might think our government shouldn’t be writing a plan for another nation’s oil. Well, our government didn’t write it, despite the State Department seal on the cover. In fact, we discovered that the 323-page plan was drafted in Houston by oil industry executives and consultants.

The suspicion is that Bush went to war to get Iraq’s oil. That’s not true. The document, and secret recordings of those in on the scheme, made it clear that the Administration wanted to make certain America did not get the oil. In other words, keep the lid on Iraq’s oil production — and thereby keep the price of oil high.

Working to music

Via Rook's Rant and PSoTD

The Wounded Warrior System

Snagged Bryan's entire post at Why Now?


Lurch at Main and Central reports on the The Wounded Warrior System:

The Wounded Soldier and Family Hotline can be reached from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. [EDT] Monday through Friday at (800) 984-8523. The call center is under the command of the U.S. Army’s Human Resources Command. As the system gears up, it is expected that it will go 24/7.

This is a reaction to the problems with the military medical system. It is a start, and should be used so they can at least understand the scope of the disaster.

When the wheels came off the bus

The engine fell out, the brakes failed, and the driver tried to run away:

It's true that the claim that the firings were performance related set off a chain reaction of events. Most importantly it pushed some of the US Attorneys to defend their professional reputations.

But this is the classic case of mistaking the symptom for the disease. As McNulty could see, refusing to give any explanation for an unprecedented firing of multiple US Attorneys with active investigations or prosecutions of prominent Republicans simply wasn't tenable. Vague lies about performance problems was the least worst option available.

Frankly, simply reviewing the multiple instances in which Bush Justice Department officials threatened the firees with attacking their reputations if they didn't go quietly, I have real doubts whether any of the performance related line started with McNulty. But it hardly matters. The fuse was lit when the White House ordered the DOJ to fire the list of US Attorneys for hurting Republicans and not damaging Democrats. A really good cover story might have kept the thing hidden but a blanket refusal to discuss the matter -- in a department the Congress oversees -- was never going to cut it.

There's this old line the wise folks in Washington have that 'it's not the crime, but the cover-up.'

But only fools believe that. It's always about the crime. The whole point of the cover-up is that a full revelation of the underlying crime is not survivable. Let me repeat that, the whole point of the cover-up is a recognition that a full revelation of the underlying bad act is not survivable. Indeed, the cover-ups are usually successful. And that's why they're tried so often. Just look at this administration. They're the ultimate example of this truth.

Update: fixed link.

What? We aren't doing anything! Just stretching....

A person's gotta right to stretch out, right?:

US in Gulf show of force.

The US navy has begun its largest demonstration of force in the Gulf since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The exercises, just off the coast of Iran, involve more than 10,000 US personnel.

Kevin Aandahl, a US navy commander, declined to say when plans for the exercises had been drawn up.

The manoeuvres bring together two strike groups of US warships and more than 100 aircraft to conduct simulated air warfare in and above the crowded Gulf shipping lanes.


Overall, the exercises involve more than 10,000 US personnel on warships and aircraft making simulated attacks on enemy shipping with aircraft and ships, hunting enemy submarines and finding mines.

So.... what happens when we're just stretching, our fist just happens to land on Iran's nose....?

You know he's just dying to get in one

And drive it at the press corps...
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Remember this one?

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He thought it was so funny....

If you are doing the Lord's work

Why would you need to take the Fifth?

Sinfonian at Blast Off!:
...Ms. Goodling, aide to Alberto Gonzales, will refuse to answer questions when she appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the investigation into the politically-motivated firing of eight U.S. attorneys.
Bryan of Why Now? quotes CNN:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — A Justice Department official will refuse to answer questions during a Senate committee hearing on the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, citing her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself, her lawyer said Monday.

In a letter sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Monica Goodling’s lawyer said she would not testify because senators have already decided that wrongdoing occurred.

“The public record is clear that certain members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have already reached conclusions about the matter under investigation and the veracity of the testimony provided by the Justice Department to date,” John Dowd, Goodling’s lawyer, said in a letter to the committee’s chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont.

Bryan continues:

Yo, Mr. Dowd, if the Senators didn’t feel there was a problem they wouldn’t be holding hearings and voting on sending subpoenas. They don’t just get together over a nosh in the cloakroom and say, “hey, for giggles and grins, let’s investigate the Justice Department.” A Congressional hearing isn’t a trial court, it’s closer to a grand jury investigation, without the secrecy. They want to know if something is wrong, and by standing on her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, your client has indicated that she thinks there’s a problem, and that problem is a crime.

Now, it’s possible that you are fishing for immunity for your client, but I don’t think these guys are going to bite. There are plenty of people who want to talk, that all she’s done is increase the confidence that the mess needs to be investigated, and people could be indicted at the end of the process.

I would note that I don’t know that a crime has been committed, but my reasonable suspicion is rapidly advancing toward probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed, a crime beyond lying to Congress. It’s time to start thinking about proving things beyond reasonable doubt.

If Goodling is truly religious, she knows that telling the truth is the only way to honor God. So she takes the Fifth. That means she has knowingly broken the law or seen the law being broken. Interesting....

Update: Froomkin discusses when you can take the Fifth:

Juries in criminal cases are sternly lectured not to assume guilt when a defendant takes the Fifth. It is, after all, a Constitutional right.

But when a fairly minor player in what had heretofore not been considered a criminal investigation suddenly admits that she faces legal jeopardy if she tells the truth to a Congressional panel? Well, in that case, wild speculation is an inevitable and appropriate reaction.

For one, it's not at all clear what she's trying to say. Undeniably, if she chose to lie to the panel, she could face perjury charges. Her recourse, therefore, would appear to be to tell the truth.

So is she saying that if she told the truth, she would have to admit a crime? What crime?

Or is she saying something else: That she'd have to admit someone else's criminal behavior? Well, that's not something you can take the Fifth to avoid. Sorry.

Or is she just afraid of being grilled by an antagonistic bunch of congressmen? Well, that's not something you can take the Fifth to avoid either.

Curiouser and curiouser...

Update: Steve Bates points to a commenter at Talking Points Memo:
Monica Goodling does have a good faith basis for pleading the Fifth Amendment - just not the ones in her lawyer's letter that are getting all the attention.

Under the federal False Statements statute, 18 USC 1001, it is a felony to cause another person to make a false statement to Congress. Since McNulty has allegedly told Senator Schumer that he made a false statement to Congress based on information provided to him by Monica Goodling, Goodling could very well be prosecuted for a Section 1001 violation.

All the rest of the crap in her lawyer's letter is intended to sooth as much as possible WH anger at her for invoking the Fifth.

9/11 empowered the little guys dreaming of immense powers

And what ends up happening are events like this. A photographer being harassed by an overly aggressive cop in San Antonio:
A few frames later, a man approached out of the corner of my eye (in plain clothes) and said,

"Can I see some ID?"

My instinctive response, before I saw what he was holding, was "no."

As he shouted, "I better or you're goin' t' jaail!", I noticed he was displaying in his hand some sort of police identification.

Finding him unusually aggressive, noting his weapon and ID, and hearing his threat of arrest if I did not produce identification, I decided to show him my license.

"Are you taking pictures for personal use or a company?"

"Well, it depends.. probably personal, but I suppose if someone wants to run them, they can... why?"

(getting in my face) "You ever hear of September the 11th?"

"Uhhh, yeah, but I'm not sure what it has to do with this."

"You are between two buildings, housin' communications equipment."

"OK... and I am in a public place, taking pictures of things in plain view. There's nothing secret or sensitive here. I mean, if I had criminal intent, do you really think I'd be out here in the open like this taking photos?"

"You'd be surprised."

"I would? Have you ever caught such a person?"

As he began a call on his cell phone (my license in hand) and talked (or pretended to talk) with someone, I noticed a news crew setting up about 50 meters away. He ended his call shortly thereafter and our conversation continued.

"How do I know you're not going to give these pictures to someone [to do harm]?"

"Well, I suppose you don't - but how do you plan to ascertain that by checking my identification?"

(shouting again) "LOOK - you give me any lip, and you're goin' t' jaail!"

It is so absurd it feels like a parody, but these situations are happening all about the U.S. We will not catch terrorists this way. We will just make our citizens extremely angry.

Update: This is not to control terrorists, this is to control the citizenry:

Private businesses such as rental and mortgage companies and car dealers are checking the names of customers against a list of suspected terrorists and drug traffickers made publicly available by the Treasury Department, sometimes denying services to ordinary people whose names are similar to those on the list.

The Office of Foreign Asset Control's list of "specially designated nationals" has long been used by banks and other financial institutions to block financial transactions of drug dealers and other criminals. But an executive order issued by President Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has expanded the list and its consequences in unforeseen ways. Businesses have used it to screen applicants for home and car loans, apartments and even exercise equipment, according to interviews and a report by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area to be issued today.

"The way in which the list is being used goes far beyond contexts in which it has a link to national security," said Shirin Sinnar, the report's author. "The government is effectively conscripting private businesses into the war on terrorism but doing so without making sure that businesses don't trample on individual rights."

The lawyers' committee has documented at least a dozen cases in which U.S. customers have had transactions denied or delayed because their names were a partial match with a name on the list, which runs more than 250 pages and includes 3,300 groups and individuals. No more than a handful of people on the list, available online, are U.S. citizens.

Yet anyone who does business with a person or group on the list risks penalties of up to $10 million and 10 to 30 years in prison, a powerful incentive for businesses to comply. The law's scope is so broad and guidance so limited that some businesses would rather deny a transaction than risk criminal penalties, the report finds.

And then you get this:

Billionaires for Bush put out a press release today in response to the news that the New York city police were spying on them:

Billionaires For Bush Respond to N.Y.P.D. Spying Report

- Billionaires to release own domestic surveillance files as gesture of good faith.

- “We guessed he was an undercover officer when he kept asking for stock tips.” Meg A Bucks, National Co-Chair.

Elderly being denied claims by insurance

After years of paying into the system. Christy Hardin Smith of Firedoglake:
If your elderly parents had paid for long-term care insurance, planning ahead — or so they thought — to deal with increased costs and care needs as they aged, and then had the insurance company give them the run-around about paying a valid, sincere claim after all those years of premiums being paid to the company, how angry would you be? Would you say words such as "fraud," or "bad faith," or even "scam?" I think I might.
And if you think for one minute that each and every one of these companies are going to hold themselves independently accountable out of the goodness of their hearts, I've got some oceanfront property in Arizona to sell you. Not all insurance companies operate in a smarmy way — a number of individual agents that i know are caring, decent people who work hard for their clients. But the few rotten apples out there — especially those who would take advantage of the nation's elderly to make a quick buck, hoping to hold off on paying a claim until after their insureds kick the bucket? That is just scummy at the highest possible level. Accountability on this one, please. Now.
Do your research. Look at the complaints. Ask your friends or aging relatives what their experiences are. There are those companies who take money and will not pay. Those who will count on early deaths. Those who count on swamping the insured with confusing paperwork to delay or deny.

Hold the company to their promises. Get things in writing. Get a lawyer.

Monday, March 26, 2007

How do self-confessed torturers demand Iran cease torturing the captured British marines?

Thers at Whiskey Fire:

Now, that might be justifiable, were the "crisis" that Sullivan had in mind simply the fact that Iran now has British hostages. But, of course, that's not what he's talking about:

[The captured sailors] are being "interrogated," apparently. The news reports put that word in quotation marks. I wonder if it emerges that they are being subject to George W. Bush's preferred euphemism "coercive interrogations." And if that turns out to be the case, and we have to pray it isn't, then what will the United States and its ally Great Britain say in complaint? After all, Iran is only doing to Western soldiers in captivity what the U.S. has been doing to "enemy combatants" since the war began. Then there's a question of what kind of trial they might face. One in which their defense gets a chance to see all the evidence against them? Oh, wait ... we don't do that either.

The first strategic crisis created by the Bush-Cheney torture regime is now occurring. It won't be the last. And if these British sailors are found to have been mistreated and their "trials" tainted, who in the international community is now going to come to Britain's and America's defense?

Sullivan is clearly saying that the Bushite torture policy was a vast strategic miscalculation, because it seriously mucks up the US's ability to put pressure on Iran in a case just such as this one.

In some places in the South

Squirrels are used as money to pick up women.

I'm sure the squirrels are plotting revenge...

Were they explosive?

A woman was stopped at the Gaza-Egypt border for looking odd:
JERUSALEM (AP) -- A woman with three crocodiles strapped to her waist was stopped at the Gaza-Egypt border crossing after guards noticed that she looked "strangely fat," officials said Monday.

The woman's shape raised suspicions at the Rafah terminal in southern Gaza, and a body search by a female border guard turned up the animals, each about 20 inches long, concealed underneath her loose robe, according to Maria Telleria, spokeswoman for the European observers who run the crossing.

"The woman looked strangely fat. Even though she was veiled and covered, even with so many clothes on there was something strange," Telleria said.

The incident, which took place on Thursday, sparked panic at the crossing.

"The policewoman screamed and ran out of the room, and then women began screaming and panicking when they heard," Telleria said. But when the hysteria died down, she said, "everybody was admiring a woman who is able to tie crocodiles to her body."

In her defense, the woman said she "was asked" to carry the crocodiles, said Wael Dahab, a spokesman for the Palestinian guards at the crossing.

The reptiles, which had their jaws tied shut with string, were returned to the Egyptian side of the border.

Dhabi said the animals were likely meant for sale to Gaza's small zoo or to private owners. The crocodiles would fetch "good money," even in the impoverished territory, he said.

Waxman focuses on the RNC emails

TPM Muckraker:

The RNC has said that the committee provides email addresses to White House personnel so that they can keep their official and political duties separate.

So what's the official/political breakdown for Karl Rove?

According to National Journal (not available online), Rove does approximately 95 percent of his emailing from his RNC address.

Think Progress says Waxman warns the RNC not to delete their emails:

Multiple congressional investigations have uncovered evidence that White House appointees regularly communicate using email accounts provided by the Republican Party. As CREW has argued, such activity violates the Presidential Records Act, which requires the White House to preserve such records. Today, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) issued letters to the Republican National Committee and the Bush-Cheney ‘04 Campaign directing them to preserve all emails by and for White House officials, and to meet with the committee about the legal issues involved in conducting official government business using partisan email accounts.

The Supra-Scandal?

TPM Muckraker:

A glimpse of the supra-scandal?

The Washington Post's front page story today is about a meeting in January between the head of the General Services Administration, Lurita Doan, top agency officials, and Scott Jennings, Karl Rove's deputy. The topic: how the agency could help "our candidates."

The GSA is the government's landlord and heads up nearly $60 billion per year in government contracts. The meeting was about how to turn that buying power to Republican advantage.

And one TPM reader writes in:

One of the puzzling aspects of the US Attorney purge is that it wasn't completed until after the 2006 elections. So far, most allegations have focused on the notion that these US Attorneys failed to do enough to help Republican candidates win in 2006, by failing to investigate enough Democrats or to pursue scurillous allegations of voter fraud. But it's looking more and more like what happened here has more to do with 2008 than with 2006. Only two USAs were asked to step down before the elections: Cummins, to make room for a specific Rove disciple, and Chiara, whose office was a mess. The plan to dismiss the rest had festered for well over a year, but it kicked into high gear immediately after the elections. Sampson sent out the formal plan on Nov. 15, marking its importance 'High'. "An associate of Rove" told the Times that Rove learned of the plan in November. And...wait for it...remember that 18 day gap? It begins on November 15.

What we're going to find, if Congress succesfully subpoenas officials or their e-mails, is that after the Republicans got routed in November of 2006 a panicked Karl Rove turned up the flame under lots of schemes that had simmered on the back burners for months or years. New orders went out - learn the lessons of the exit polling, and make sure that 2008 brings success. The White House, in its panic, abandoned caution, and got sloppy. It left its fingerprints all over the sorts of things it had generally manipulated at arms-length. And the man who headed up the effort, by all indications, was Karl Rove's right hand, J. Scott Jennings.

Beware the ides of 2008....

I'm so relieved I'm not the only one who thinks Couric is a massive twit.

Tailor Marsh: (Via Crooks and Liars)
Consider these notes on the '60 Minutes' interview, also known as "How many times can Katie Couric ask the same question over and over again a dozen different ways without ever getting tired of hearing herself ask the same frickin question yet again." Forget sympathy for Elizabeth Edwards, I feel sorry for them both that they had to sit through this horrendous excuse of an interview. Katie Couric just might have proved she's the worst political interviewer I've ever seen; she sure was on this one. I'm amazed this is the best CBS could do with the biggest interview opportunity of the week. Over and over and over and OVER again, Ms. Couric asked variations on the "you know you're dying so what's the point?" theme. How about a segue into health care? No. Talking about how the Edwards have opportunities for health care others don't have and just maybe that's what they're fighting for? No. How about talking about their faith, which anyone can see is at the core of their ability to be strong during this challenge. Nope, Couric only wanted to talk about how others might judge them, their ambition, how it's too stressful to take care of his wife and be president at the same time. As if while being president life can't throw you some challenges. Good Lord, it was a disgrace, as well as a missed opportunity. Couric made no effort whatsoever to broaden the subject, but instead decided to exhaust the "cancer is death" topic, alert the American people. I particularly appreciated the moment when Couric talked about their kids, saying if I had a "finite" time I don't think I'd choose not being with my kids. No judgment there at all, Katie. The Edwards then reminded Ms. Couric that we've all got a finite amount of time, with Elizabeth saying they learned that in 1996... then John finished the comment, when they lost their son, as Mrs. Edwards lowered her head a moment. By the time it was over I'm sure both of the Edwards wanted a stiff drink. I'd have asked for a water back to throw in Ms. Couric's face. Though I doubt even that would have awakened her from her hamster wheel questioning stupor. --end rant--
Yes. We are all going to die, Ms. Couric. What did you want, for them to throw themselves sobbing into your lap for hugs? What a stupid interview. It did not belong on 60 Minutes. It belonged in the trash.

Update: David Sirota:

In pursuing this line of repeated questioning, of course, Couric ignored the pretty well-known psychological value of work during health care crises. She also ignored the fact that this is an immensely personal decision that does not require some multimillion-dollar journalist to perform a televised, Gitmo-style interrogation in order for viewers at home to glean the "news value." And most incredibly, she ignored her own behavior when her spouse was diagnosed with cancer.

That's right, Katie Couric's husband was diagnosed with cancer in 1997. I did a quick check of the transcripts for that year - and it's pretty clear that she kept working as the anchor for NBC's Today Show, if not full time, then pretty close to it.

I want to be extremely clear: That Couric continued to work while her husband was sick was entirely her and her family's personal decision. I'm not going to comment on the merits of that decision not because I think it was a bad one or a good one, but because it's AN ENTIRELY PERSONAL DECISION. Really, who the hell am I - and who the hell is anyone else - to question someone's decision to keep working during a family health crisis?

It's not up to me, or you or anyone else to decide whether such a decision for Katie Couric and her husband or John and Elizabeth Edwards is a good or bad decision, because it is an entirely personal decision, whether you are a national television anchor, a presidential candidate or anything else. I don't care if you are running for Supreme Leader of the Galaxy, your choice about whether to continue working at a time of a family health crisis should be entirely your own, without fear of journalists trying to "get a good scoop."

Update: Bob Herbert does it best:

Elizabeth Edwards’s illness is a logical catalyst for a national discussion about health care in the U.S. But why stop there? Next year’s election will be one of the most important in history. Whatever you think of their politics, John and Elizabeth Edwards are giving the country a world-class lesson in courage and candor.

You want straight talk? “I was wrong.” That’s what John Edwards said about his vote to authorize the president to go to war in Iraq. “The world desperately needs moral leadership from America,” he said, as he acknowledged his contribution to the debacle, “and the foundation for moral leadership is telling the truth.”

The war goes on, and fate has dealt the Edwards family another devastating blow. The rest of us can help invest the absurdity of their tragedy with meaning by paying closer attention to the issues that are important to them. Whether one ends up agreeing with them or not, it’s a way of opening the door to a more thoughtful, rational way of selecting our presidents.
THAT'S how you make sense of an interview, Katie.

Update: Attaturk at Rising Hegemon reminds us of what capitalizing on tragedy and illness looks like.

Update: Hecate on using marriage as a qualifier for president:

The point is that there seems to be little correlation between the overall "success" or "failure" of any given presidential marriage and the job that the president did. Which, when you think about it, really isn't that surprising, or wouldn't be, if Americans (and Americans do seem to be worse about this than, say, Europeans or South Americans) didn't make such a ridiculous big deal out of "family" and "family values."

We'd do well to get over it.

John Edwards isn't my first choice for the Democratic nominee, but that's more because I'd like to see a woman or an African American in office, after two hundred plus years of rich white men, than anything else. I like his message of populism. But his wife's health is a matter between him, Ms. Edwards, and her doctors. It's irrelevant to whether or not he should be the nominee or the president. Or, it would be in any rational world.
Update 3/27:
An excellent cartoon illustrates it all.

Nobody can tell the boyking what to do!

At least, Tony Snow and those who haven't read the Constitution or paid attention in their high school U.S. Government class think so:

Tony Snow: [Congress] does not have constitutional oversight responsibility over the White House.

Shakespeare's Sister: Remember the three equal branches of government?

I believe Georgie did not get a passing grade in that class:

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One out of every three bites of food is connected to the work of honeybees.

The Sierra Club:

One out of every three bites of food that we consume is due to the work of honeybees, serving as crucial pollinators in agriculture and farming communities. Yet agriculture and food production may be severely impacted by Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a trend documented in honey bee colonies and prominently featured in a New York Times story (1). Beekeepers are reporting estimates as high as 80% loss of their honey bee colonies. Such a huge loss of the services of bees is extremely serious and beekeepers report it's a growing trend.

The cause of CCD is unknown. Although factors being considered include pesticides, mites, microbial disease and habitat decline, there's a possible link that's not being investigated. Highly respected scientists believe that exposure to genetically engineered crops and their plant-produced pesticides merit serious consideration as either the cause or a contributory factor to the development and spread of CCD.(2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10) In searching for the cause of massive honey bee losses nationwide, we must leave no stone unturned to find the answer.

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He's not even pretending to care anymore

Georgie being an ass to New Zealand.

Scout prime at First Draft has the video link of Bush being ever so diplomatic and presidential, where he has to peek at notes while talking and gives a snorting chuckle while Prime Minister Helen Clark is talking about free trade agreements.

What's the matter, is the hard work of prezniting getting too much for you, Georgie?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

For those who read the Los Angeles Times,

Rumsfeld is going to be involved with the paper:'s now Rumsfeldgate at the Los Angeles Times. I'm told that Donald Rumsfeld was asked to guest-edit the newspaper's "Current" opinion section which appears on Sundays. The ex-Defense Secretary is a long-time personal and professional friend of LA Times publisher David Hiller, who supervises the paper's editorial, Op-Ed and opinion pages. Rumsfeld also has strong ties to the LA Times' parent company since he was a member of Tribune Co.'s board of directors for years. Sources tell me that Rumsfeld's selection was suggested and approved by Hiller. The former Pentagon chief was expected to follow Hollywood producer Brian Grazer as a Current guest editor under the paper's new quarterly program. Grazer's special section was supposed to appear today but was killed by Hiller (photo below) on Thursday "to avoid even the appearance of conflict" after a newsroom uproar over editorial pages editor Andres Martinez dating a Hollywood publicist whose firm represents Grazer. Martinez resigned in protest. "I think it's fair to say that we got ourselves into a predicament and we should not have let it happen," Hiller said about Grazergate. "The trust our readers place in us, built over 125 years, is of the highest importance and we try never to do anything that would call that into question." But for the LA Times' editorial pages to even be talking to Rumsfeld about guest-editing Current much less offering him the gig, given the Hiller and Tribune Co. connections, is yet another wrinkle in this saga about journalism ethics: here's an even more clear impression of favoritism than Grazergate.
Update: John Amato at Crooks and Liars has more.

Iran considers trying the 15 captured British sailors


BERLIN (Reuters) - Iran said on Sunday it was considering charging 15 British sailors and marines with illegally entering its waters, but added it may give consular access to them after an investigation.

Prime Minister Tony Blair denied the navy personnel had been in Iranian waters and said Tehran should be under no illusion how seriously Britain considers the detentions.

The incident raised tensions that were already high with the West over Tehran's nuclear programme. The U.N. Security Council imposed new sanctions on Iran on Saturday. London and Washington have also accused Tehran of fomenting violence in Iraq.

"This is a very serious situation and there is no doubt at all that these people were taken from a boat in Iraqi waters," Blair told reporters at a European Union summit in Berlin.

And then, during this highly touchy situation which demands finesse and diplomacy, a Lt. Commander of ours speaks up: (my bold)

A senior American commander in the Gulf has said his men would have fired on the Iranian Republican Guard rather than let themselves be taken hostage.

In a dramatic illustration of the different postures adopted by British and US forces working together in Iraq, Lt-Cdr Erik Horner - who has been working alongside the task force to which the 15 captured Britons belonged - said he was "surprised" the British marines and sailors had not been more aggressive.

Asked by The Independent whether the men under his command would have fired on the Iranians, he said: "Agreed. Yes. I don't want to second-guess the British after the fact but our rules of engagement allow a little more latitude. Our boarding team's training is a little bit more towards self-preservation."

The executive officer - second-in-command on USS Underwood, the frigate working in the British-controlled task force with HMS Cornwall - said: "The unique US Navy rules of engagement say we not only have a right to self-defence but also an obligation to self-defence. They [the British] had every right in my mind and every justification to defend themselves rather than allow themselves to be taken. Our reaction was, 'Why didn't your guys defend themselves?'"

His comments came as it was reported British intelligence had been warned by the CIA that Iran would seek revenge for the detention of five suspected Iranian intelligence officers in Iraq two months ago but refused to raise threat levels in line with their US counterparts. The capture of the eight sailors and seven marines - including one young mother - will undoubtedly renew accusations that Britain's determination to maintain a friendly face in the region has left its troops frequently under protected.

Yes, we would have started a new war just to show how tough we were... even though the detention of five of their diplomats was something we did deliberately. If this had been U.S. soldiers, Georgie would have declared war in two minutes....

Whoa! Like a little library

With one click! Check out Schoolr.
(Via Interrobang).

The government demanding that you spy on your neighbor is so American

And you get to shut up about it. Via Steve Bates, War and Piece reviews an anonymous report of one who suffers under an FBI gag order:
There've been 140,000 such gag orders in this country with almost no terrorism prosecutions to show for the abuses, and no probable cause established. That is just over one for every 30,000 Americans, man woman and child. Is the gag order so the FBI can avoid accountability? So the public is not the wiser for the abuses taking place? Where are the folks with honor inside the FBI raising concerns about the abuses? Is Congress going to mandate DOJ Inspector General Glenn Fine to establish whether such abuses were committed intentionally or not in the next round?