Have a good weekend...!
but, before i go,
a BIG HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my fellow blogger, skadi...!! Submit To Propeller
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In trying to solve one problem, Mr. Bush created another: Presidential intervention in an ongoing criminal investigation is a bad idea and a worse precedent.
It's precisely the fact that prosecutors are investigating Republican lawmakers that makes the president's intervention so ominous here.
[I]t sends a chilling message to agents and career prosecutors working on cases involving other lawmakers to know that the president is on call to second-guess them if members are unhappy with the way their investigation is proceeding.
Mr. Bush has other interests here -- his diminished political standing and his need for congressional help on other issues, such as immigration reform -- that are not necessarily congruent with the legitimate needs of law enforcement.
It's important to remember that this search warrant was approved by a federal judge, who certainly was aware of the constitutional sensitivities involved. [...] We think the judge is a better arbiter of whether that should be done than is the president.
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, the F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, and senior officials and career prosecutors at the Justice Department told associates this week that they were prepared to quit if the White House directed them to relinquish evidence seized in a bitterly disputed search of a House member's office, government officials said Friday.
Mr. Gonzales was joined in raising the possibility of resignation by the deputy attorney general, Paul J. McNulty, the officials said. Mr. Gonzales and Mr. McNulty told associates that they had an obligation to protect evidence in a criminal case and would be unwilling to carry out any White House order to return the material to Congress.
Only 3 percent believe Congress is trustworthy; 7 percent think business leaders are; 24 percent say President George W. Bush can be trusted; and 29 percent trust the courts.
On September 29, 2003, three days after it became known that the CIA had asked the Justice Department to investigate who leaked the name of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, columnist Robert Novak telephoned White House senior adviser Karl Rove to assure Rove that he would protect him from being harmed by the investigation, according to people with firsthand knowledge of the federal grand jury testimony of both men.
Rove testified to the grand jury that during his telephone call with Novak, the columnist said words to the effect: "You are not going to get burned" and "I don't give up my sources," according to people familiar with his testimony.
Rove also told the grand jury, according to sources, that in the September 29 conversation, Novak referred to a 1992 incident in which Rove had been fired from the Texas arm of President George H.W. Bush's re-election effort; Rove lost his job because the Bush campaign believed that he had been the source for a Novak column that criticized the campaign's internal workings.
Rove told the grand jury that during the September 29 call, Novak said he would make sure that nothing similar would happen to Rove in the CIA-Plame leak probe. Rove has testified that he recalled Novak saying something like, "I'm not going to let that happen to you again," according to those familiar with the testimony. Rove told the grand jury that the inference he took away from the conversation was that Novak would say that Rove was not a source of information for the column about Plame. Rove further testified that he believed he might not have been the source because when Novak mentioned to Rove that Plame worked for the CIA, Rove simply responded that he had heard the same information.
Asked during his grand jury appearance his reaction to the telephone call, Rove characterized it as a "curious conversation" and didn't know what to make of it, according to people familiar with his testimony.
Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, who has presided during a period of strong economic growth but at times seemed out of sync with President Bush, has informed the White House that he will resign in the coming days after three years as the nation's chief economic officer, a source close to Snow said yesterday.Submit To Propeller
Q: Mr. President, you spoke about missteps and mistakes in Iraq. Could I ask both of you which missteps and mistakes of your own you most regret?
PRESIDENT BUSH: It sounds like kind of a familiar refrain here. (Scattered laughter.) Saying "Bring it on." Kind of tough talk, you know, that sent the wrong signal to people. That I learned some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner. You know, "Wanted dead or alive," that kind of talk.
I think in certain parts of the world it was misinterpreted. And so I learned -- I learned from that.
And, you know, I think the biggest mistake that's happened so far, at least from our country's involvement in Iraq, is Abu Ghraib. We've been paying for that for a long period of time. And it's -- unlike Iraq, however, under Saddam, the people who committed those acts were brought to justice; they've been given a fair trial and tried and convicted.
Evidence indicates that the civilians were killed during a sustained sweep by a small group of marines that lasted three to five hours and included shootings of five men standing near a taxi at a checkpoint, and killings inside at least two homes that included women and children, officials said.
In an unusual sign of high-level concern, the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Michael W. Hagee, flew from Washington to Iraq on Thursday to give a series of speeches to his forces re-emphasizing compliance with international laws of armed conflict, the Geneva Conventions and the American military's own rules of engagement.
"Recent serious allegations concerning actions of marines in combat have caused me concern," General Hagee said in a statement issued upon his departure. The statement did not mention any specific incident.
Representative John Kline, a Minnesota Republican who is a retired Marine colonel, said that the allegations indicated that "this was not an accident. This was direct fire by marines at civilians." He added, "This was not an immediate response to an attack. This would be an atrocity."
In a published report, the Lovenstein Institute of Scranton, Pennsylvania has detailed findings of a four month study of the intelligence quotient of President George W. Bush. Since 1973, the Lovenstein Institute has published its research to the education community on each new president, which includes the famous "IQ" report among others.Submit To Propeller
According to statements in the report, there have been twelve presidents over the past 60 years, from F. D. Roosevelt to G. W. Bush who were all rated based on scholarly achievements, writings that they alone produced without aid of staff, their ability to speak with clarity, and several other psychological factors which were then scored in the Swanson/Crain system of intelligence ranking. The study determined the following IQs of each president as accurate to within five percentage points:
147 Franklin D. Roosevelt (D)
132 Harry Truman (D)
122 Dwight D. Eisenhower (R)
174 John F. Kennedy (D)
126 Lyndon B. Johnson (D)
155 Richard M. Nixon (R)
121 Gerald R. Ford (R)
176 James E. Carter (D)
105 Ronald W. Reagan (R)
98 George H. W. Bush (R)
182 William J. Clinton (D)
91 George W. Bush (R)
The six Republican presidents of the past 60 years had an average IQ of 115.5, with President Nixon having the highest IQ, at 155. President G. W. Bush was rated the lowest of all the Republicans with an IQ of 91.
The six Democrat presidents had IQs with an average of 156, with President Clinton having the highest IQ, at 182. President Lyndon B. Johnson was rated the lowest of all the Democrats with an IQ of 126.
No president other than Carter (D) has released his actual IQ, 176. Among comments made concerning the specific testing of President GW Bush, his low ratings were due to his apparent difficulty to command the English language in public statements, his limited use of vocabulary (6,500 words for Bush versus an average of 11,000 words for other presidents), his lack of scholarly achievements other than a basic MBA, and an absence of any body of work which could be studied on an intellectual basis.
Testifying at the court-martial of a dog handler accused of abusing prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller said Wednesday that he never suggested that dogs be used to intimidate prisoners during interrogations in Iraq.
General Miller, who was the commander of the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, was sent to Iraq in August 2003 by senior Pentagon commanders to review the interrogation and detention system there and recommend ways to improve the collection of intelligence about the growing insurgency.
Within days of his visit, Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the commander of the coalition forces in Iraq, issued guidance that seemed to allow for the use of dogs in interrogations.
The following is an excerpt from a document obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under a Freedom of Information Act Request. The specific excerpt is taken from a memorandum written by General Ricardo Sanchez to CJTF [CJTF-7, Combined Joint Task Force Seven, Camp Victory, Baghdad, Iraq]-7 on September 14, 2003.Submit To Propeller
Memorandum from Gen. Ricardo Sanchez Authorizing Use of Torture Measures, Interrogation Techniques
Y. Presence of Military Working Dog: Exploits Arab fear of dogs while maintaining security during interrogations. Dogs will be muzzled and under control of MWD handler at all times to prevent contact with detainee.
In a move that is raising hackles in Moscow, the US is proposing to install an anti-missile defence system in central Europe to counter any future attack from a nuclear-armed Iran.
The most likely base for the system is Poland, followed by the Czech Republic, officials said.
Bulgaria has agreed to open three military bases to permanent use by 2,500 U.S. troops who would be available for combat in the Middle East and other nearby regions.
As the United States runs short of nurses, senators are looking abroad. A little-noticed provision in their immigration bill would throw open the gate to nurses and, some fear, drain them from the world's developing countries.
The legislation is expected to pass this week, and the Senate provision, which removes the limit on the number of nurses who can immigrate, has been largely overlooked in the emotional debate over illegal immigration.
The exodus of nurses from poor to rich countries has strained health systems in the developing world, which are already facing severe shortages of their own. Many African countries have begun to demand compensation for the training and loss of nurses and doctors who move away.
The Senate provision, which would remain in force until 2014, contains no such compensation, and has not stirred serious opposition in Congress. Because it is not part of the House immigration bill, a committee from both houses would have to decide whether to include the provision on nurses if the full Congress approves the legislation.
Public health experts in poor countries, told about the proposal in recent days, reacted with dismay and outrage, coupled with doubts that their nurses would resist the magnetic pull of the United States, which sits at the pinnacle of the global labor market for nurses.
The nurse proposal has strong backing from the American Hospital Association [management!], which reported in April that American hospitals had 118,000 vacancies for registered nurses. The federal government predicted in 2002 that the accelerating shortfall of nurses in the United States would swell to more than 800,000 by 2020.
The American Nurses Association [labor!], a professional trade association that represents 155,000 registered nurses, opposes the measure. The group said it was concerned the provision would lead to a flood of nurse immigrants and would damage both the domestic work force and the home countries of the immigrants.
"We're disappointed that Congress, instead of providing appropriations for domestic nursing programs, is outsourcing the education of nurses," said Erin McKeon, the group's associate director of government affairs.
Holly Burkhalter, with Physicians for Human Rights, an advocacy group, said the nurse proposal could undermine the United States' multibillion-dollar effort to combat AIDS and malaria by potentially worsening the shortage of health workers in poor countries. "We're pouring water in a bucket with a hole in it, and we drilled the hole," she said.
There are now many more Americans seeking to be nurses than places to educate them. In 2005, American nursing schools rejected almost 150,000 applications from qualified people, according to the National League for Nursing, a nonprofit group that counts more than 1,100 nursing schools among its members.
Senator Brownback, who has been an advocate for programs to combat AIDS and malaria in Africa, said he did not think lifting the cap on nurse migration would have much effect on Africa because the infrastructure of companies that did recruiting for the United States market was not set up there, nor did African nurses have a big community there to plug into.
But Eric Buch, the top health adviser to the New Partnership for Africa's Development, an Africa-wide undertaking initiated by the continent's heads of state, said he expected that recruiting agencies would set up in African countries where nurses were trained in English and that they would advertise the change in the American law.
Based on surveys, Dr. Galvez Tan estimates that 80 percent of the country's government doctors have become nurses or are enrolled in nursing programs, hoping for an American green card. "I plead for justice," he said in a telephone interview. "There has to be give and take, not just take, take, take by the United States."Submit To Propeller
No Human Being Is Illegal: Press Conferences to be Held in Cities Across the U.S.
5/24/2006 8:01:00 AM
To: Assignment Desk, Daybook Editor
Contact: Janis D. Shields, 215-241-7060; 302-545-6596 (cell); Esther Nieves, 215-241-7131; 215-939-0676 (cell)
-- No Human Being Is Illegal: Press Conferences To Be Held In Cities Across The U.S.
-- The American Friends Service Committee and Community Allies Call for Real Solutions and Substantive Changes to Proposed Immigration Policy
The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR), and more than 45 grassroots organizations throughout the United States will hold press conferences throughout the day on Wednesday, May 24, to urge Congress to dramatically change course on immigration reform.
The Service Committee believes that while U.S. immigration policy is in need of reform, legislative measures currently considered not only do not address the root causes of migration, but also create an apartheid-like, multi-tiered legalization process, expand enforcement, detention and deportation actions and eliminate core elements of our nation's legal system, including provisions of due process under the law.
For more than twenty years, our government has poured billions into harsher penalties, more deportation, increased technology and border patrol officers, and more detention facilities - efforts that do nothing to bring thousands of immigrant families out of the shadows into full membership in our society.
WHO: American Friends Service Committee, an international social justice organization, and a coalition of 48 grassroots immigrant rights organizations across the country
WHAT: Press Conferences In Cities Across The United States Urging Congress To Adopt Meaningful Solutions And Make Substantive Changes To U.S. Immigration Policy
WHEN: Wednesday, May 24
WHERE: San Diego; Miami; Newark, NJ; Cambridge, MA and numerous cities across the United States.
"It's not with fences that we are going to solve this problem," he told groups active in the Mexican community in Salt Lake City.
Mr Fox is due to address a special session of the Utah Legislature on Wednesday.
The Minuteman project, which opposes illegal immigration, says it is planning to protest outside the Capitol building in Salt Lake City.
The Departments of Justice, State, and Homeland Security spend millions annually to buy commercial databases that track Americans' finances, phone numbers, and biographical information, according to a report last month by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.
In the telephone survey of 1200 individuals, just 47% agreed that "the 9/11 attacks were thoroughly investigated and that any speculation about US government involvement is nonsense." Almost as many, 45%, indicated they were more likely to agree "that so many unanswered questions about 9/11 remain that Congress or an International Tribunal should re-investigate the attacks, including whether any US government officials consciously allowed or helped facilitate their success."
Iran has followed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent letter to President Bush with explicit requests for direct talks on its nuclear program, according to U.S. officials, Iranian analysts and foreign diplomats.
The eagerness for talks demonstrates a profound change in Iran's political orthodoxy, emphatically erasing a taboo against contact with Washington that has both defined and confined Tehran's public foreign policy for more than a quarter-century, they said.
It's hard to say which was more bizarre about Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's threat to prosecute The Times for revealing President Bush's domestic spying program: his claim that a century-old espionage law could be used to muzzle the press or his assertion that the administration cares about enforcing laws the way Congress intended.
Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Dan Gillerman, is reported to have warned that 'Iran was "months rather than years away" from acquiring the capability to make nuclear weapons. "Time is running out. . ." '
I am typing while rolling around on the floor laughing uncontrollably at this blatant falsehood and hypocrisy. The International Atomic Energy Agency just a little over a week ago said it can find no evidence that Iran even has a nuclear weapons program, as opposed to a civilian energy research program. Supreme Jurisprudent Khamenei gave a fatwa in which he forbade nuclear weapons, and the Iranian government denies that it is seeking a bomb. The US National Intelligence Estimate says that if Iran were trying hard to get a bomb and the international circumstances were favorable to all the needed imports, it would still take ten years. And, neither of those "ifs" is in evidence.
Moreover, it is Mr. Gillerman's government that introduced nuclear weapons into the Middle East and that has actually threatened to use them. The Likud government menaced Baghdad with the Bomb in the run-up to the March 2003 War that they helped get up by supplying unreliable intelligence to Washington. It was their way of warning Saddam against trying to hit them with chemical warheads. But, would that have been a proportionate response. Iran doesn't have a bomb, has signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, and hasn't invaded another country since the 19th century. Israel has hudnreds of bombs, had refused to sign the NPT, and has threatened first use of nukes.
Two top CIA officials will bolster prosecutors' charge that Vice President Cheney's chief aide lied to them, court papers show.
Prosecutors say disgraced Cheney chief of staff Lewis (Scooter) Libby learned CIA spy Valerie Plame's identity from, among others, agency officials who will be called to testify at his trial for perjury, false statements and obstruction of justice.
The U.S. alleges he learned about Plame from one of the CIA officials when he went after dirt on her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Wilson shattered a pillar of President Bush's rationale for war - that Iraq was seeking to build a nuclear weapon.
Both CIA officials - including a top architect of the 2003 Iraq invasion - discussed Plame with Libby a month before columnist Robert Novak blew her cover in July 2003, prosecutors charge.
Libby has said journalists told him about Plame - not Cheney or the six witnesses named so far by prosecutors.
Until recently, the CIA officials' identities were kept secret by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, who did not name them in Libby's October indictment.
But subsequent documents allege Libby asked top CIA official Robert Grenier on June 11 why the agency sent Wilson to Niger to see if Iraq tried to buy uranium. Grenier replied that Plame was an agent and "believed responsible" for arranging her husband's trip.
The other official was Craig Schmall, a CIA briefer whom Libby complained to about the Wilson trip on June 14, court files allege.
I think one of the ways that corporate America got smarter was that they began to understand that there was value to them in infiltrating the Democratic Party. They realized that owning the Republican Party was not enough, and that grabbing a chunk of the Democratic Party -- even a small chunk -- would allow the system as a whole to radically shift to the right far more quickly than if they just pursued a binary strategy with one party. We used to have one big business party and now we have one and a third -- or one and a quarter -- and that quarter is really integral to what's allowed the hostile takeover to move towards completion -- or at least to intensify.
After six months in second place, Mr. [Felipe] Calderón has surged past the front-runner, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, with a stream of attack advertisements portraying him as a dangerous and violent leftist who will bankrupt the country.
Now, a month before the vote, the race is a contest between Mr. Calderón, a free-trade advocate backed by business leaders, and Mr. López Obrador, a leftist who draws most of his support from poor people who feel that free-trade policies have failed to help them.
Mr. Calderón, 43, a former congressman and energy minister, has engineered the turnaround with a nimble, slick campaign, relying heavily on radio and television advertisements, many of them negative, tested in focus groups and tailored to specific constituencies, his aides say. Mexicans vote July 2.
In the CIA leak case against Vice President Cheney's chief of staff Scooter Libby, there are new documents tonight that are raising questions about the possible role of Cheney himself in the actions that led to the outing of a CIA operative.
MSNBC's David Shuster declared Monday evening that Karl Rove's legal team expects Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald to announce a decision "at any time..."
Rove's legal team tells me differently. Rove spokesman Mark Corallo told me a few minutes ago that as they have been saying for weeks, the timing is still unknown and there is nothing new to suggest it will be tomorrow or even this week. In fact, "we have no expectation on timing anymore."
Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, earlier today confirmed to me that "there has never been any discussion of any plea under any circumstances whatsoever."
"We have to pray for your brother. He's in real trouble," [Supreme Court justice Clarence] Thomas told a wide-eyed Koch [the President's sister, Doro Bush Koch], whose older brother is, indeed, suffering from near-catastrophic public-opinion ratings.
The classified status of the identity of former CIA officer Valerie Plame will be a key element in any trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, according to special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald has said that at trial he plans to show that Libby knew Plame's employment at the CIA was classified and that he lied to the grand jury when he said he had learned from NBC News's Tim Russert that Plame, the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, worked for the agency.
We know that Bush and Olmert are meeting this Tuesday, and you don’t have to be a psychic to guess what they’ll be talking about. The Security Council is meeting Wednesday to finish work on a resolution calling for the Iranians to suspend enrichment activities while negotiations continue, something that the Iranians have already rejected as violating their rights under the NPT. We also suspect that neither the Russians nor the Chinese will support a Security Council resolution that can be enforced through military action. So it is very possible that the diplomatic avenue will be closed in Bush’s mind by the end of this week.
The carrier battle groups arrive in the region shortly after that.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference is thinking of getting involved with Iraq. Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is talking about bringing Iraqi stakeholders together, and is even holding out the possibility of peace-keeping troops! The OIC is a meeting of the foreign ministers of Muslim countries (countries with substantial Muslim populations have observer status; Russia does, and if the US was smart it would seek it). Serious OIC interest in peacekeeping in Iraq would be the most hopeful thing I have heard recently.
U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza described building a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border as un-American in a speech to the University of Texas at Austin graduating class Saturday night.
"Simply building walls does not speak America to me," said Garza, a former Texas railroad commissioner and a close friend to President Bush. "I know we can be both a welcoming society and a secure and lawful one."
Congress currently is debating proposals for building fences as a means of controlling illegal immigration. President Bush, who has opposed fences in the past, this week endorsed a limited fence-building proposal for Arizona and California.
“I apologized for disrespecting the office of the President. But I don't feel that way anymore. I don't feel he is owed any respect whatsoever,” Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines tells TIME's music critic Josh Tyrangiel, of her remark to a London audience in 2003: “Just so you know, we're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.”Submit To Propeller
You took exception to the paragraph in which he lightly deprecated the vanity of youth. Well, Ms. Rohe, and your fellow graduate's comical self-importance deserve a rebuke far stronger than the gentle suggestions he offered you. So, let me leave you with this. Should you grow up and ever get down to the hard business of making a living and finding a purpose for your lives beyond self-indulgence some of you might then know a happiness far more sublime than the fleeting pleasure of living in an echo chamber. And if you are that fortunate, you might look back on the day of your graduation and your discourtesy to a good and honest man with a little shame and the certain knowledge that it very unlikely any of you will ever posses the one small fraction of the character of John McCain.
(thanks to jeralyn at talkleft...)
- a federal government empowered to regulate core political speech—and restrict it greatly when it counts the most: in the days before a federal election;
- a president who cannot be restrained, through validly enacted statutes, from pursuing any tactic he believes to be effective in the war on terror;
- a president who has the inherent constitutional authority to designate American citizens suspected of terrorist activity as "enemy combatants," strip them of any constitutional protection, and lock them up without charges for the duration of the war on terror— in other words, perhaps forever; and
- a federal government with the power to supervise virtually every aspect of American life, from kindergarten, to marriage, to the grave.
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The tiny Balkan republic of Montenegro is voting on whether to split from Serbia, in what could herald the final dissolution of the former Yugoslavia.Submit To Propeller
The independence referendum is asking Montenegrins whether they want to end their union with Serbia set up in 2002.
Serbian officials and church leaders, as well as anti-independence Montenegrins, have urged voters to reject independence, invoking the strong cultural, economic and family ties between the two republics.
The $69 billion tax cut bill that President Bush signed this week tripled tax rates for teenagers with college savings funds, despite Mr. Bush's 1999 pledge to veto any tax increase.
Under the new law, teenagers age 14 to 17 with investment income will now be taxed at the same rate as their parents, not at their own rates. Long-term capital gains and dividends that had been taxed at 5 percent will now be taxed at 15 percent. Interest that had been taxed at 10 percent will now be taxed at as much as 35 percent.
Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald recently had to sneak Armitage into a Washington courthouse to get past reporters - a sign of his value in the case, according to one source.
Armitage's testimony could hurt Vice President Cheney's indicted former chief aide Lewis (Scooter) Libby, or President Bush's political guru, Karl Rove.Submit To Propeller
[D]emocracy is swiftly eroding under the pressure of the right wing in this country. We all have much work to do, and for the most part the media do not represent us, the small people who don't hold any special titles but who feel the weight of our government's actions on our backs each and every day.