Friday, October 14, 2005


Barhorst: The Iraqi Vote

I just realized that the usual Bush election shenanigans are taking place in Iraq. The voting rules state that three provinces have to have a two thirds negative vote for the Constitution to be voted down. Looked at another way 51% of the people throughout Iraq could vote against the (Bush and occupiers) Constitution and it would still pass.

Think about it.
Am I wrong?

Terry D. Barhorst Sr.

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Slate-Papers: Omigod, Miers may be a bit liberal! - Oct. 14

A Glint in Print, By Emily Biuso, Posted Friday, Oct. 14, 2005, at 7:57 AM CT

Harriet MiersThe LAT leads with a look at (left) Harriet Miers' writings in the early 1990s, which reveal, in the words of the headline, "a Glint of Liberalism."  The Washington Post leads with the scandals and legal problems plaguing the Bush administration. The New York Times leads with—and the Los Angeles Times fronts—attacks by insurgents in the Russian city of Nalchik Thursday. Eighty to 100 rebels stormed nine buildings in the city, taking hostages and prompting President Vladimir Putin to seal the city. Russian officials estimate that at least 85 people have been killed—most of them insurgents—and the death toll may rise. According to the NYT, a Web site associated with Chechen militants said that the attackers were Islamic fighters aligned with Chechen separatists. USA Today leads with the results of a poll conducted by the paper, CNN, and Gallup, revealing that almost four in 10 New Orleans residents assisted by the Red Cross say they won't move back to the beleaguered city. The paper bills their poll of 1,510 displaced residents as "the first comprehensive survey of hurricane victims."

The LAT bases its analysis on views Miers aired while writing a monthly column for the Texas Bar Journal. And it is a "glint" of liberalism that's reflected—just barely. There's no smoking liberal gun—but Miers did suggest increased funding for legal aid to the poor; a possible increase in taxes; and additional measures that would send more minority students to law schools. She also chafed at lawyer-bashing, then popular among conservatives.  [D.H.: Aw, shucks; she doesn't laugh at lawyer jokes!  We absolutely cannot have such a deficiency on our highest court!]

Meanwhile, on Thursday the White House continued to stand by their woman. Press Secretary Scott McClellan maintained that Miers will not withdraw as the president's nominee.

Anonymous "Republican advisers close to the Bush Rove leaving home Oct. 14team" tell the WP that the White House is bracing for the possibility that Karl Rove (shown at right leaving his home this morning) or other officials could be indicted in the next couple of weeks. [DemLog blogged the WP story on this at 4:39 earlier this morning.]  The Post does get a few folks to talk on the record, un-anonymously about the scandals in general, such as Joseph diGenova, a Republican and former independent counsel, who tells the paper that an ongoing investigation is debilitating and "like getting punched in the stomach." The NYT runs a similar scandal roundup, noting that Bush's approval rating has hit a new low—38 percent, according to the Pew Research Center.

The WP fronts a look at an insult added to literal injury: Wounded American soldiers back from Afghanistan and Iraq who are being issued debt notices by the military. An Army analysis has identified 331 soldiers dealing with this problem, which is mainly caused by an outdated Defense Department computer system that handles payment.

The Post also fronts a dispatch from Balad, a swing city in Iraq where American troops are trying to convince Sunnis to vote in Saturday's referendum. "The fight will continue against the Americans, whether we vote yes or no," one resident tells the paper.

The Wall Street Journal fronts a profile of an American military leader trying to bridge the wide gulf between Sunnis and Shiites in Tal Afar, where sectarian violence has been especially bad lately. The American colonel is trying to mend old wounds but tells the Journal, perhaps revealingly: "The Shiites and the Sunnis look the same. They speak the same language. Both of them want the same things. ... I'm not sure I'll ever really understand."

In yet another shocking revelation about the federal response to Katrina victims, the Post fronts the story of how nearly 400,000 packaged meals—a $5.3 million donation from the British—were never distributed to hurricane victims. Because of a U.S. ban on British beef, the meals have been sitting in a warehouse for a month, where taxpayers are paying to store them.

The LAT, WP, and NYT front Thursday's announcement that British playwright Harold Pinter was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Swedish Academy in Stockholm said that Pinter's work "uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms." The LAT notes that Pinter has not been coy about his political opinions over the years—he's called Tony Blair a "war criminal" and the United States "a country run by a bunch of criminals."

Deadly Asian bird flu has been detected among birds in Turkey. In response to the threat of a possible epidemic, European Union officials quickly recommended allocating $1.2 billion to help member governments stockpile antiviral medicines.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, below left, a Democrat, Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson of N.M.announced Thursday that he'll soon be traveling to Pyongyang to encourage North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program. He will not be officially representing the United States but apparently has support from the Bush Administration.

Give or take 6,000 ... The NYT runs a correction on yesterday's front-page article about the devastation in northern Pakistan caused by the earthquake. The story "misstated and misattributed" an official death estimate in the North-West Frontier Province: Instead of 4,000, it is actually 10,000 people who are estimated dead. The number, the Times also points out, came from the provincial government, not the military.

Emily Biuso is a writer in New York.  Source:  Slate Magazine.

Submitted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
published at: http://demlog.blogspot.com


NYT: White House Jittery Over Plame Leak Inquiry - Oct. 14

Bush whispering in Rove's earWASHINGTON - Karl Rove (shown with President Bush, left, whispering in his ear) nosed his Jaguar out of the garage at his home in Northwest Washington in the predawn gloom, starting another day in which he would be dealing with a troubled Supreme Court nomination, posthurricane reconstruction and all the other issues that come across the desk of President Bush's most influential aide.

But Mr. Rove's first challenge on Wednesday morning came before he cleared his driveway: how to get past the five television crews and the three photographers waiting for him. He flashed his blinding high beams into the camera lenses and sped by.

That is the way things are for the Bush White House these days. The routines are the same. But everything, in the glare of the final stages of a criminal investigation that has reached to the highest levels of power in Washington, is different.

Mr. Rove is scheduled to testify before a federal grand jury on Friday, the fourth time he will have done so in the case, which centers on the disclosure of an undercover C.I.A. officer's identity.

Mr. Rove, deputy White House chief of staff for policy and senior adviser, and I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, are the most prominent administration officials to find themselves squirming under the attention of the hard-nosed special prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, and the attendant news media scrutiny.

But the inquiry has swept up a dozen or more other officials who have been questioned by investigators or have testified before the grand jury, and, should it lead to the indictment of anyone at a senior level, it has the potential to upend the professional lives of everyone at the White House for the remainder of Mr. Bush's second term.

The result, say administration officials and friends and allies on the outside who speak regularly with them, is a mood of intense uncertainty in the White House that veers in some cases into fear of the personal and political consequences and anger at having been caught in the snare of a special prosecutor. And given how badly things have been going for Mr. Bush and his team on other fronts - a poll released Thursday by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center put his approval rating at 38 percent, a new low - they hardly have deep reserves of internal enthusiasm or external good will to draw on.

"Everyone is going about the work at hand while bracing for the worst case," said a senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to get around the official White House position that it will not comment on the investigation.

Full NY Times story.

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MFC: Ashcroft, Bush catch WMI at airport

New York - At New York Kennedy Airport today, an individual later discovered to be a public school teacher, was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a setsquare, a slide rule and a calculator.

Former Attorney General John Ashcroft, right, shown with President Bush, believes the individual is a member of the notorious Al-Gebra movement and is being charged with carrying weapons of math instruction.

"Al-Gebra is a very fearsome cult, indeed", Ashcroft said. "They desire average solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on a tangent in a search of absolute value. They consist of quite shadowy figures, with names like "x" and "y", and, although they are frequently referred to as "unknowns", we know they really belong to a common denominator and are part of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country.

"As the great Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, there are 3 sides to every triangle."

When asked to comment on the arrest, President Bush said, "If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, He would have given us more fingers and toes."
Source:   www.myfree.com (subject to ads if you join).
Submitted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
published at: http://demlog.blogspot.com

Thursday, October 13, 2005


MMfA: Buchanan--Earle belongs behind bars over DeLay indictment


On the October 11 edition of the nationally syndicated radio show Imus in the Morning, which also airs on MSNBC, MSNBC news analyst and former Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, left, followed other conservatives (see here, here, and here) in attacking Travis County, Texas, district attorney Ronnie Earle for his prosecution of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX). Buchanan claimed that Earle should be "behind bars" for his involvement in DeLay's recent indictment on conspiracy and money-laundering charges.

Source:  Media Matters for America.


SoJo: Pot of political porridge?

by David Batstone, below right - Sojourners Magazine

BatstoeTom DeLay and Bill Frist, the two political operatives in Congress with arguably the deepest support among Christian churches, both face serious allegations of financial trickery. Karl Rove, the Bush administration power broker who speaks almost daily with Christian leaders to coordinate political action, is under investigation for divulging classified information, then covering up his misdeed.

The details of each case can be pursued in most major media outlets. In brief, DeLay was indicted by a Texas grand jury of illegally funneling corporate campaign contributions into Texas legislative races. DeLay, who has stepped down at least temporarily from his position as majority leader of the House of Representatives, is also under federal investigation for his questionable relationship with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, on the other hand, has fallen under serious investigation by federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission for possible insider trading (what got Martha Stewart in trouble), not to mention legislative conflict of interest.

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove personally assured President Bush in the fall of 2003 that he had not disclosed to anyone in the press that Valerie Plame, the wife of an administration critic, was a covert CIA employee, according to Associated Press reports. It now appears possible Rove was the source of the leak that destroyed Plame's career and potentially put her life at risk.

I find it more than a bit disturbing that Christians who back Rove, DeLay, and Frist in their political efforts express so little concern about the possibility of corruption at the highest ranks of government. Worse still, many Christians express blind allegiance to these men. Is this what we have come to, when we sell our birthright for a pot of political porridge?

The Jerusalem Post reports DeLay appeared publicly for the first time after his indictment at a Sept. 28 event hosted by "Stand For Israel," an organization of evangelical Christians and Jews who support a Zionist future for Israel. The Post reports that DeLay received a standing ovation, saying, "It's really good to be here among so many old friends and brothers and sisters in the cause for justice and human freedom." Some participants called out, "We love you, Tom," according to the Post.

I grant that the aforementioned misdeeds are only allegations, so a measured response would be appropriate. DeLay, Frist, and Rove should receive due process. I do recall, however, that many Christian leaders and the religious media did not manifest any such restraint during the moral ineptitude of the Clinton era. At the time, we at Sojourners joined others in the religious world to express our concern - for example, go back to a piece written by Jim Wallis in 1998 titled, "Seeking Moral Consistency." At the time, Jim chided liberal religious leaders: "Why have churches and church leaders been so quiet in this crisis of morality? ...Could it be that this too falls out along political lines? Are those church leaders most sympathetic to Clinton's agenda unlikely to offer much comment on the many ethical issues involved here? Are only those opposed to the president's political agenda ready to speak challenging words to the White House? What are our primary colors?"

It would be comforting to observe that same desire for moral consistency in our body politic at the moment. To be frank, I do not expect Focus on the Family, The 700 Club, or any other influential media network of religious conservatives to raise a red flag about political corruption in the Republican Party any time soon. The specter of political power seems too enticing, too close within reach, to be held back by traditional values such as honesty and integrity. Oh, woe to us, that we shall we gain the whole world, yet lose our own soul.

Source:  Sojourners Mail.

Submitted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
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MMfA: Media flurry over Dobson's "confidential" information on Miers

In October 12 reports, numerous media outlets -- including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post -- uncritically reported Focus on the Dr. DobsonFamily founder and chairman (left) James C. Dobson's purported defense of his prior refusal to reveal "confidential" information that he claimed to have received from the White House about Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers. In fact, the information that Dobson now claims to have received from White House senior adviser Karl Rove, which he said at the time reassured him about the Miers nomination, had already been widely reported following Miers's nomination, even as Dobson was claiming he couldn't disclose it because it was confidential.
Full Media Matters for America story.
D.H. note:  I blogged a short piece on Dobson on July 25, 2005, on his position on the John Roberts nomination, including his threat this past Jan. 2 to oppose any senators in 2006 who did not support all of President Bush's so-called "strict constructionist" judicial nominees.
Yesterday, the right-wing radio screamers, such as Sean Hannity, were proclaiming loudly that Dobson had a "right of privacy" to tell the Senate Judiciary Committee to "shove it" if he were subpoenaed to testify about what Karl Rove told him about Miers. 
It appears to me that the "private conversation" Dobson had with Rove was never confidential, just that Dobson maybe thought it was at the time.  I think it is ironic, though, that Dobson and his supporters are claiming a "right of privacy" here, but if their hoped-for reversal of Roe v. Wade were to happen, the right of privacy that Roe was decided upon would be reversed also.  Privacy is thus a right only when it's convenient to them. 
Submitted by:  Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
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Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Bush: Miers' Religion Key Part of Her Life

By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer 2 hours, 4 minutes ago

WASHINGTON -President Bush said Wednesday his advisers were telling conservatives about Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers' religious beliefs because they are interested in her background and part of Harriet Miers' life is her religion.

Please click here and read article.

Terry’s Comment:

In a country that supposedly has a separation between church and state, Bush has stated that religion (Protestant, evangelical, conservative,) is a litmus test for nominees to appointed office—specifically the Supreme Court. Bush’s words are like throwing feces at the Constitution.

Senator Leahy’s has hit the nail on the blockhead, stating,
What we have seen so far is more of a commentary on the litmus tests and narrow motivations of vocal factions on the Republican right than it is a commentary on the qualifications of Harriet Miers.

Terry D. Barhorst Sr.
Moderator: Lone Star Democrats

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Curry: Bennett's life more complicated without Blacks

Blacks are more than Criminals

(an essay in response to William Bennett's comment that the crime rate would go down if all blacks were aborted)

By George E. Curry, left 

A listener sent an e-mail last week to Diane Rehm, the host of a popular program on WAMU, a public radio station in Washington, D.C., speculating on what the fallout would be if a prominent liberal were to suggest that if George W. Bush had been aborted, the United States would not be engaged in a war in Iraq.

Of course, Rush Limbaugh and other conservative talk show hosts would morph into apoplexy. They would have to strap down 95 percent of the staff at the Fox News and Pat Robertson might even propose assassinating the person who would utter such a thought.

Yet, when former Secretary of Education William Bennett asserted that the crime rate would drop if all Black babies were aborted, he was cheered by the right wing. Rush Limbaugh said on his radio program that Bennett “should have been applauded” for his comment. National Review Online columnist Andrew C. McCarthy deplored what he called “a shameful effort to paint him [Bennett] as a racist. He’s about as bigoted as Santa Claus.”

Conservative officeholders, for the most part, issued only perfunctory rebukes of Bennett.

Using almost identical language, both a spokesman for President Bush and Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman said it was “not appropriate” or that it was “inappropriate” when referring to Bennett’s comments.

Even if one accepts Bennett’s “hypothetical” assertion that if all Black babies were aborted, there would be a decline in the crime rate, that would still would not provide a complete picture of what life would be like without Blacks.

If all African-American babies had been aborted, Whites might be crashing into one another at intersections. Garrett Morgan, a Black man, invented the first traffic signal. If the men survived the traffic, they might not have survived World War I. Morgan also invented the gas mask, which saved many lives in the war and today protects firemen and other emergency workers.

In Bill Bennett’s world, even more people might be dying from heart attacks. Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, an African-American, performed the first open heart surgery in 1893.

Bennett would certainly be tired of walking up and down steps. Without Alexander Miles, the Black inventor of the elevator, that’s what Americans would be left with. And if they didn’t tire from climbing the steps, they might get tired of shifting gears in their automotive vehicles. Another Black man, Richard Spikes, invented the automatic gearshift.

Of course, an automatic gearshift wouldn’t do them any good if they didn’t have the spark plugs – invented by Edmond Berger, an African-American – under the hood.

A self-described family values person, Bennett couldn’t imagine life without the baby buggy. Without the life of W.H. Richardson, an African-American, Bennett wouldn’t have to imagine that kind of life – he would be experiencing it.

Life at home wouldn’t be as pleasurable without the air conditioning unit invented by Frederick M. Jones, a Black man. Life without air conditioning would be bad enough, but to live without a refrigerator would be even worse. And that’s what Bennett would be doing if J. Standard, an African-American, had been aborted.

If Bennett wanted to flee a burning apartment building, he would have to jump and take his chances. If Blacks hadn’t been born, J.W. Winters would not have developed the fire escape ladder.

Cutting the grass would be more of a chore, too. Bennett might have to utilize sling blades instead of using the lawn mower invented by L.A. Burr, an African-American.

An educated person such as William Bennett can appreciate the need for an almanac and he can thank another African-American, Benjamin Banneker, for that. At some point, Bennett uses pencils. The pencil sharpener was invented by J. L. Love, an African-American. Even if the erudite Bennett prefers a fountain pen to a pencil, he would be out of luck if it had not been for Walter B. Purvis, the Black inventor.

From a pure entertainment perspective, can anyone really say they would have enjoyed watching professional sports without Jackie Robinson, Jim Brown, Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Tiger Woods, Althea Gibson or Arthur Ashe?

Even the 2000 Republican national convention in Philadelphia would have been souless without the appearances of Brian McKnight, Chaka Khan, the Temptations, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, the Delfonics and Aaron Neville, all of whom would be have aborted under Bennett’s scenario.

Finally, Bill Bennett’s Republican buddies – Retired Army General Colin Powell, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and HUD Secretary Al Jackson – would not have been in George W. Bush’s administration – or any other one – if they had been aborted.

William Bennett is smart enough to know that all Blacks aren’t criminals. And if all Black babies had been aborted, the nation would have lost far more than lawbreakers.

George E. Curry is editor-in-chief of the NNPA News Service and BlackPressUSA.com. He appears on National Public Radio (NPR) three times a week as part of “News and Notes with Ed Gordon.” To contact Curry or to book him for a speaking engagement, go to his Web site, www.georgecurry.com.

Source:  George Curry columns webpage.

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NYT: DeLay still running show from sidelines - Oct. 12

WASHINGTON - When the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee needed guidance on how to prepare for a series of tough spending and budget issues, he sat down with Tom DeLay, below right.

Tom DeLayMr. DeLay was also on hand as the Budget Committee chairman held a private session on the drive for new spending cuts. And when the Republican leadership was caught short of votes for a contentious energy bill, Mr. DeLay scoured the House floor to help deliver a narrow victory.

While Mr. DeLay is officially out of his position as majority leader because of his indictment on criminal charges in Texas, he remains the go-to guy for many House Republicans. They say he is virtually indispensable as the party faces the daunting prospect of delivering $50 billion or more in spending cuts as well as an immigration measure in the coming weeks.

"He is still dialed in and gives good counsel, and that is what we are seeking," said John Scofield, a spokesman for Representative Jerry Lewis, the California Republican who is chairman of the Appropriations Committee, in explaining why Mr. Lewis called in Mr. DeLay for advice last week.

But the continuing strong presence of Mr. DeLay presents House Republicans with a quandary.

Though he has the political muscle and inside knowledge to maneuver difficult legislation in a dicey political climate, he is also is operating under the liability of the criminal charges. Some Republicans acknowledge that their work could be tainted by any perception that Mr. DeLay commands the House from the sidelines while awaiting a resolution of the charges.

"DeLay is driving the agenda," said one senior Republican lawmaker who did not want to be identified because of the sensitivity of talking about internal party matters. "I guess he has to be because he is the only guy who can get this done. But once people find out he is still in charge, that brings its own set of issues."

His intense involvement also creates a potentially awkward situation with Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri, now the titular No. 2 in the House and a potential permanent candidate for the post should Mr. DeLay's Texas legal troubles drag on. Though Mr. Blunt has said he expects Mr. DeLay to take back the leadership post, the temporary leadership team is still finding its footing and the task will not be made easier if lawmakers continue to look to Mr. DeLay.

"I thought once he was out, people would move on," said James A. Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University. "But he is still there, concentrating power within the leadership and himself."

Democrats were quick to notice as well, pointing out that Mr. DeLay was serving in his familiar role last Friday, rounding up elusive votes on the floor of the House as Republicans barely staved off defeat of a measure they said would spur construction of oil refineries.

"I think it will raise questions in the public's mind," said Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat, about Mr. DeLay's involvement.

With the House in recess, Mr. DeLay is back in Texas, where he is taking a few days off from the relentless media campaign he has been waging against Ronnie Earle, the Austin prosecutor who brought the conspiracy and money laundering charges. But his legal team continues to contest the charges and on Tuesday sought to subpoena Mr. Earle and two aides to answer questions about their conduct in the case.

From the moment Mr. DeLay relinquished his leadership title after his Sept. 28 indictment, his senior colleagues have not hidden the fact that he will, for now, remain a force in the House.

"He is still a full-fledged member of Congress and has lots of political capital, and we are still very interested in his views," said Representative Deborah Pryce of Ohio, chairman of the House Republican Conference.

But how influential Mr. DeLay's role would be only became apparent as the House headed toward recess at the end of last week.

When Republicans had a closed meeting late Thursday to consider a leadership plan for spending cuts to pay for hurricane relief, those who attended recounted that Mr. DeLay urged his colleagues to pursue a "bold agenda" as the best way to position themselves for the 2006 elections. And he conceded that he and other leaders had been slow to take seriously the need for ways to offset the post-hurricane spending.

Though he is no longer using the large suite of offices assigned to the majority leader on the first floor of the Capitol, he is still taking advantage of a smaller leader's office just off the House floor. Officials said he met there with Representative Jim Nussle, Republican of Iowa and chairman of the Budget Committee, and Representative John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio and chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee, to discuss potential spending cuts to be taken up in the next few weeks.

"We absolutely welcome his help," said Angela Kuck, a spokeswoman for the Budget Committee.

Aides to Mr. DeLay said he would continue to remain active, particularly because they view his absence from the leadership as temporary.

"Mr. DeLay has a unique understanding of a lot of the big policy debates, and he is somebody who has always worked in the past with his colleagues to make the case that their votes are important," said Kevin Madden, Mr. DeLay's spokesman. "That is one of the reasons he got into leadership, and people still recognize he has a degree of knowledge and influence."

Source:  NY Times.

Submitted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
published at: http://demlog.blogspot.com

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


AFP-Barhorst: Tiny chinless wonders threaten anthropology rift

Tue Oct 11, 12:06 PM ET

PARIS (AFP) - In a hole in a ground there lived some hobbits -- lots of them, apparently.

A tiny hominid whose discovery in a cave on an Indonesian island unleashed one of the fiercest debates in anthropology has suddenly been joined by several other sets of dwarf-sized beings.

The initial find at Liang Bua cave, reported almost exactly a year ago, became known as the Hobbit Hominid, after the pint-sized characters of J.R.R. Tolkien's stories.

Measuring just a metre or so (3.25 feet) high -- thus as tall as a chimpanzee -- and with a skull the size of a grapefruit, the strange creature lived around 18,000 years ago on the remote island of Flores.

The discoverers believed the Hobbit to be the smallest of the 10 species of Homo erectus, the primate that emerged from Africa about 2.5 million years ago and whose ultimate descendant is Homo sapiens, as anatomically modern man is called.

They honoured him with the formal name of Homo floresiensis, "Man of Flores," and in so doing unleashed tribal warfare among anthropologists.

In polite, scholarly tones that masked ruthlessness worthy of soccer hooligans, many of them attacked the notion that the Hobbit could be a separate human species.

After all, it would mean that Homo sapiens, who has been around for 150,000-200,000 years, would have shared the planet with other hominids much more recently than anyone had thought.

It would mean that the Hobbits were still knocking around after key events traditionally considered as proof that Homo sapiens was master of the planet -- the extinction of the Neanderthals, the arrival of modern humans in Australia and the first agriculture, a landmark event that transformed humans from hunter-gatherers into settlers.

To such critics, the one-off find proved nothing -- the skeleton could be that of a dwarf, the result of a genetic flaw in a tribe of Homo erectus or a disease called microcephaly, characterised by an abnormally small brain and head.

Now, though, Liang Bua has yielded more specimens, which adds a mighty weight to H. floresiensis' credentials.

The new fossils consist of the right elbow and two bones of the lower forearm of the first skeleton; the mandible of a second individual; and assorted other remains, including two tibiae, a femur, two radii, an ulna, a scapula, a vertebra and various toe and finger bones.

In all, bits and pieces from at least nine individuals have been found, and dating of the remains suggest some were alive as recently as 12,000 years ago.

All seem to have been the same size as the original Hobbit. In addition, the new bones show that these people, for all their short size, had relatively long arms and, unlike H. sapiens, had no chin.

The finds thus prove that the first Hobbit "is not just an aberrant or pathological individual, but is representative of a long-term population that was present during the interval (of) 95-74,000 to 12,000 years ago," the Australian-Indonesian team say.

But that's not all. Gently extracted from Liang Bua's floor were the remains of a dwarf elephant called a Stegodon, whose bones, marked by flints, showed that the hobbits were good at butchering animals.

There were also scarred bones and clusters of reddened, flame-cracked rocks, proof that the community was skillful at manipulating fire.

In a review of the study, Harvard University expert Daniel Lieberman said the new fossils backed the contention that the Hobbits were a previously undiscovered branch of the human family tree.

Still unclear, though, is where these tiny hominids came from.

One theory is that they evolved from Homo erectus by island dwarfing, a phenomenon that is well known in the animal kingdom.

Under this, a large species that arrives on an island where there is little food becomes progressively smaller in population numbers and in physical size in order to survive.

But this jibes with the discovery that the Hobbits were apparently good hunters and had mastered the means of keeping warm -- in other words, they had used human skills to buffer themselves against the pressures of natural selection.

"The finds from Liang Bua are not only astonishing, but also exciting because of the questions they raise," said Lieberman.

The study, lead-authored by Mike Morwood of the University of New England at Armidale, New South Wales, is published on Thursday in Nature, the British science journal.

In a news item on its website, Nature said Tuesday Indonesia had refused to renew the researchers' access to the cave.

The country's anthropological establishment, which has close ties to the government, bitterly opposes the theory that the Hobbits were a separate species, it quoted them as saying.

"My guess is that we will not work at Liang Bua again, this year or any other year," Morwood reportedly said.

Terry's Comment:
I wonder how the religionists are going to rationalize this bit of evolutionay evidence. Of course, they could take the path of the Indonesian government and stop all research, in hopes the knowledge disappears over time.

Terry D. Barhorst Sr.
Moderator: Lone star Democrats

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Slate-Papers: Harriet Admiers George - Oct. 11

By Eric Umansky -- Posted Tuesday, at 3:41 AM CT
The WP and NYT both mention Texas's release of thousands of Harriet Miers-related documents mostly during her time as chair of the Lottery Commission under then Gov. Bush. The docs don't exactly shed a lot of light on her constitutional stances, an oh-so-surprising conclusion the Post focuses on. The NYT, meanwhile, notices a number of correspondences like this: "You are the best governor ever—deserving of great respect," MiersMiers, right, wrote in a b-day card to her boss. "I appreciate your friendship and candor," responded the president, "never hold back your sage advice."

The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with the latest from Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, where help is beginning to arrive though the New York Times says that as of yesterday aid was so sparse in the local capital that "melees that broke out every time an army truck approached." The NYT leads with, and the Washington Post top non-local spot goes to, Germany's conservative candidate Angela Merkel, below, left, agreeing to a power-sharing deal in which she will become chancellor and the Social Democrats will get a majority of cabinet positions. Merkel will become Germany's first female chancellor and its first chancellor Merkelborn in East Germany. With Germany's unemployment at 12 percent and growth weak, Merkel has promised to cut back the social welfare state. But with Social Democrats holding many of the key cabinet positions it's not clear how far she'll get.

The Los Angeles Times leads with word that the Pentagon, facing GI shortages, is redeploying about 3,000 Air Force personnel into Army positions, everything from interrogators to gunners on supply trucks. It's worth noting that most of the personnel are being retrained. Also, the piece suffers from a context-gap: Is there is a history of such shifts?  What do independent analysts think of the moves? USA Today's lead points out that the federal government is years behind in fulfilling a congressional mandate to give people who live within 20 miles of a nuclear plant iodine pills, which can help prevent thyroid cancer should a plant melt down in, say, a terrorist attack. After 9/11, Congress required that the pills be offered by the end of 2003. According to USAT's paraphrase, the official in charge of the program blamed "bureaucratic indecision" stemming from a fight over which agency was in charge.

The U.N. estimated that the quake in Kashmir has left 2.5 million people homeless.  An estimated 10,000 people died in just Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir. "Rescuers are pulling out dead children in Muzaffarabad, but there is no one to claim the bodies, which shows their parents are dead," said one army commander. Over the course of about ten hours, the Post saw all of six helicopters arrive at the city's soccer stadium, now the main triage clinic.

The highest elected official in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, who was operating from a tent, said the quake had "totally paralyzed" Kashmir.  "For the first two days we have been either digging ground to recover bodies or digging to bury them. Kashmir has turned into a graveyard." The death toll is also rising in India's part of Kashmir; it's now near 1,000.  

Pakistan accepted India's offer of material aid, but said Indian helicopters won't be welcome. Meanwhile, the LAT notices that the largest militant group fighting Indian rule in Kashmir has announced a ceasefire. The U.S. has pledged $50 million aid, in addition to the eight choppers it has already sent.

A NYT editorial notices that the president's nominee for the "office at the State Department that coordinates the delivery of life-sustaining emergency aid to refugees" has all the expertise of a Brownie.

The WP stuffs—and NYT covers with wire copy—a top U.N. envoy returning from Sudan's Darfur region and concluding that the government-sponsored violence is actually getting worse. "I found the situation much more dangerous and worrisome than I expected it to be," he said. "Until last week, there have never been concerted, massive attacks of an indiscriminate nature against civilians" in camps in Darfur. The envoy was going to brief the Security Council, but according to the Post was blocked "by the United States and Sudan's three closest allies on the council, Russia, China and Algeria." The Post suggests the block might have something to do with the U.S.'s opposition to the International Criminal Court, though a "senior U.S. official" denied that.

Eric Umansky (www.ericumansky.com) writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at todayspapers@slate.com .  Source:  Slate Magazine.

Monday, October 10, 2005


DMN: Austin grand jury had goods on DeLay

D.H. note:  The following is an email I received this morning from Christy Hoppe of the Dallas Morning News in answer to an inquiry I sent her last week, reprinted below that:

   Sorry for the stalled response -- I've been out of town. But I wanted to answer your question: Grand jury proceedings are secret. But this particular grand jury had disbanded. And the foreman did not give me specific testimony or evidence, just his assurances in general terms that they saw paper and heard from people that made him feel confident that probable cause existed for an indictment.
   Hope this clarifies the situation a little. Thanks for the note.

Christy Hoppe
The Dallas Morning News
Austin Bureau Chief
(512) 499-0581

-----Original Message-----
From: Dave@Haigler.Clearwire.net
Sent: Sunday, October 02, 2005 10:16 AM
To: choppe@dallasnews.com
Subject: DeLay grand jury

I read your piece in the Friday DMN, and have a question:
I thought grand jury proceedings were secret.  Is it proper for the foreman to be telling you what happened?
(I don't practice criminal law.)

Dave Haigler
Taylor County Democratic Chair
325 677-4343
Abilene, Texas
D@Haigler.Info or
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com


AFP: Administration plans to stab U.S. farmers in the back - Oct. 10

WASHINGTON, (AFP) - The United States has retaken the initiative in Doha world trade liberalization talks by proposing to reduce agricultural subsidies paid to American farmers by 60 percent over the next five years.

Developing countries have long charged US subsidies are distorting this key market.

US Trade Representative Rob Portman said the US government has proposed reducing its agricultural subsidies by 60 percent by 2010(AFP/File/Jean-Pierre Clatot)The offer was unveiled by US Trade Representative Rob Portman, left, (news, bio, voting record) in an open letter published in the online edition of The Financial Times just hours before trade ministers were to convene in Zurich, Switzerland, for talks on trade liberalization.

"To jump-start our stalled negotiations, the US is prepared to move, and move aggressively, by supporting a 60 per cent cut in "amber box" support -- the most distorting type of subsidies -- over the next five years," the US trade representative pointed out. "This will require significant reforms to US farm programmes."

But Portman said greater cuts must be required by the European Union and Japan, which he said have much larger agricultural subsidies.

"All countries must also simultaneously deliver real market access," he pointed out.

The new offer goes further than a European Union demand that the United States bring down its agricultural subsidies by 55 percent.

It is also more ambitious than a proposal unveiled recently by Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau, who urged the US government not to go ahead with a reduction exceeding 50 percent.

It was the first specific US proposal on the subject made in the wake of President George W. Bush's address before that United Nations on September 14, when he pledged to lower US agricultural subsidies, if other industrialized countries followed suit.

Portman also supported an initiative put forward by the Group of Twenty developing countries, including Brazil, which have called for eliminating all agricultural subsidies by the 2010.

But the US trade representative underscored the principle of reciprocity that he and President Bush believe should be used during the Doha process.

"The US offer to make difficult domestic support decisions is conditional on other countries reciprocating with meaningful market access commitments and subsidy cuts of their own," Portman wrote.

The US proposal also calls for reducing by half over the next five years a new cap in less trade-distorting support programmes known as "blue box" payments.

In the second stage, all trade-distorting support should be eliminated.

Besides the United States and European Union, the other countries expected in Zurich are Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Rwanda, South Africa, South Korea and Switzerland.

Last week, a senior US government official said the aim would be to "talk candidly."

The discussions mark yet another attempt to resolve differences and draft a treaty in time for a WTO conference in Hong Kong, now just two months away.

The WTO sets the rules for international trade.

Trade officials are hoping the Hong Kong summit will cap four rollercoaster years of negotiations and produce at least the bare bones of a treaty reducing customs duties, subsidies and other barriers to commerce.

Hong Kong is meant to be the final milestone in the Doha Round of trade talks, launched in Qatar in 2001.

Source:  AFP News.

D.H.:  For decades, the U.S. has been the world's bread-basket anytime there are shortages, and now the Bush Administration proposes to stab our farmers in the back.  If I had to choose between American farmers and the WTO, NAFTA & CAFTA, I would back U.S. farmers.  They feed us all.  Whose side are we on?  They can talk about a "blue box" all they want, but I favor a storehouse for the next round of famines.

Submitted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
published at: http://demlog.blogspot.com
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Sunday, October 09, 2005


AP: Dean lays out his plans to overhaul Democratic Party

Howard DeanWASHINGTON - Howard Dean, right, is no longer screaming. He's scheming.
   The failed presidential candidate whose howling adieu to the Iowa caucuses helped seal his fate as a presidential candidate is plotting to overhaul the Democratic Party.
   Borrowing ideas from President Bush's re-election campaign, Madison Avenue and his own Internet-driven White House bid, the Democratic National Committee chairman hopes to drag the party into the 21st century.
   ''What I'm trying to do is impose a system and run this place like a business,'' Dean said during an interview in his office overlooking the Capitol.
   That vision would be welcome news to party strategists who have complained that the DNC and its chairman of nine months lag behind Republicans in the political arts of messaging, targeting and organizing.
   Some Democrats look back at Dean's rise-and-fall presidential campaign and wonder whether he has the management skills to carry out his plans or the ability to raise the money needed to pay for them.
   Among Dean's goals are: 
   Making Democrats the party of values, community and reform. Armed with extensive DNC polling, Dean is consulting with party leaders in Congress, mayors and governors to recast the public's image of Democrats with a unified message. 
   Improving the party's ''micro-targeting,'' the tactic of merging political information about voters with their consumer habits to figure out how to appeal to them. 
   Building a 50-state grass-roots organization, using the same Internet and community-building tools that took Dean's presidential bid from obscurity to the front of the pack before Iowa.
   This is where Dean and Bush have something in common.
   Both their campaigns benefited from networks of supporters promoting their candidacies person to person - friends telling friends, family and associates how to vote.
   Bush plugged into existing organizations such as churches and hunting clubs.
   Dean nurtured his word-of-mouth networks through the Internet.
   ''I tapped into a craving for community in a society where we're becoming increasingly isolated from ourselves,'' he said.
Source:  AP-Salt Lake Tribune.


AP: Specter--Miers to Face Questions on Abortion Views - Oct. 9

By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer, 7:17 PM ET

Supreme Court Justice nominee Harriet Miers arrives for church services at the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation in Dallas, Sunday,  Oct. 9, 2005. (AP Photo/LM Otero)WASHINGTON - As doubts grow about her abortion views, Harriet Miers, left, will face vigorous questioning on privacy rights and her qualifications for the Supreme Court, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Sunday.

Sen. Arlen Specter (news, bio, voting record), R-Pa., said President Bush's pick to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor must show she can handle complicated legal issues and has not cut deals with the White House to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Miers' nomination has caused division among conservatives, and a leader of the right said he will not be satisfied until it is clear whether Miers, a longtime Bush confidante who has never been a judge, would overturn the 1973 landmark abortion ruling.

"You can be an evangelical and you can be self-described pro-life. But it doesn't tell us what she will do about a decision like Roe that has been set in stone now for over 30 years. And that's the rub," said Gary Bauer, president of the American Values Coalition.

Specter, noting that a justice has lifetime tenure, said, "If there are back room assurances and if there are back room deals and if there is something which bears upon a precondition as to how a nominee is going to vote, I think that's a matter that ought to be known."

Specter and the committee's top Democrat, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy (news, bio, voting record), are considering having Focus on the Family founder James Dobson testify at Miers' confirmation hearings. Dobson has said he is confident Miers opposes abortion, based on private assurances from the White House.

Disputing that, Leahy said Miers assured him that she had not made any promises on how she would vote on Roe.

"If assurances were given of how any nominee — whether this nominee or anybody else — and somebody gives assurances how they're going to vote in an upcoming case, I would vote against that person," said Leahy, who appeared with Specter on ABC's "This Week."

In recent days, many conservatives have expressed outrage that Bush did not choose a nominee with a proven judicial track record and it was risky putting Miers on the court because she was a blank slate on issues such as abortion and the death penalty. Some activists have said she should withdraw her nomination.

Bauer suggested that conservatives will not support Miers unless they have assurances that she would oppose Roe.

"The whole strategy here is the so-called stealth strategy," he said. "And at the end of the day, the only ones who get fooled by it are conservatives."

Commentator Pat Buchanan, a former presidential candidate, contended that Miers' qualifications were "utterly nonexistent." He criticized Bush for passing over a half-dozen conservatives for a nominee who has never ruled on important decisions or expressed interest in constitutional law.

"What we've heard here, is 'Trust, believe.' Why should we take this risk?" Buchanan said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Defending Miers, Texas Supreme Court Judge Nathan Hecht said Miers was going to overcome the criticism and would not step aside. He said the former corporate lawyer was an abortion opponent, but said that does not mean she would vote to overturn Roe.

"Legal issues and personal issues are just two different things. Judges do it all the time," he told "Fox News Sunday."

Specter cautioned against a rush to judgment on Miers, saying she's faced "one of the toughest lynch mobs ever." But Miers will need to be able to justify to senators whether she is qualified in order to be confirmed, he said.

"When you deal in constitutional law, you're dealing in some very esoteric, complicated subjects that require a great deal of background," Specter said. "The jurisprudence is very complicated, and I will be pressing her very hard on these issues."

Specter and Leahy said they will strive to hold confirmation hearings as soon as possible, perhaps before Thanksgiving, but their primary concern was to conduct a thorough investigation.

"The standard is to do it right, not to do it fast," Specter said.

Hoping to ascertain Miers' views, Senate Democrats are pushing the White House to release reams of documents from the time Miers served under Bush as staff secretary, deputy chief of staff and White House counsel.

But Specter said he did not support such a request, agreeing with the White House that the material is covered by executive privilege.

"If somebody is going to function as White House counsel to the president of the United States, that person is going to have to be free to give advice without worrying that someday that advice is going to be scrutinized by some Senate committee," he said.

Submitted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
published at: http://demlog.blogspot.com


Spier: Miller Really Could Be The One Who Drives a Stake Into Libby and Conspirators

I, for one, really believe that indictments will be handed down, and they will Make a Big Splash.

Did Fitzgerald strike some sort of deal with Judith Miller?” What was said between Miller and Libby in June, not July 2003? Miller is part of the dirty Washington secrets and there are some really imaginative theories out there. Mark Kleinman digs in today.

“Just back from the LA Blogger Bash, where Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake patiently explained to me her theory, and that of emptywheel of The Next Hurrah, of how it came to pass that Judith Miller suddenly discovered some notes about her meetings with "Scooter" Libby, Dick Cheney's chief of staff, after her grand jury testimony.”

[Read the Links, then the summary from Kleinman below.]

1. The revelation of Plame's identity to Cooper and Novak (among others) was part of an attack on Joseph Wilson's credibility that started before, and not after, his NYT op-ed of July 6, 2003. Wilson had already been the unnamed source of press reports casting doubt on the uranium-from-Niger story, and the White House Iraq Group was out to get him, for self-protection and retaliation.

2. Miller planned to write a story about Wilson, prompted by Libby and members of the W.H.I.G.; those plans were pre-empted by his op-ed. (Or perhaps when he learned that his role as a source for Kristof was going to be revealed anyway, he decided to tell the story himself.)

3. Libby had told the grand jury about his conversations with Miller in July, but not about conversations in June relating to the story that Miller planned to write but never wrote. Those conversations would have been hard to reconcile with the story Libby and his friends were trying to peddle: that their attacks on Wilson were purely defensive responses to his op-ed.

4. Unbeknownst to Libby and Miller, Fitzgerald had learned of those June conversations, either from Wilson or from someone at the Times.

5. As Fitzgerald expected, Miller in her testimony did not mention the June conversations with Libby. (Libby's letter to Miller contains language that might be read as signaling to her that she should confine her testimony to the July conversations.) Fitzgerald asked her leading questions which, without tipping her off about how much Fitzgerald knew, put her in the position of having to testify falsely in order to avoid mentioning those conversations.

6. Once Miller's testimony was over, Fitzgerald called her lawyer and said, "Why didn't your client mention the June conversations when she was asked about them?" It was that phone call that triggered Miller's sudden discovery of the June notes.

7. Having caught Miller committing perjury, Fitzgerald is now in a position to, in effect, renege on his agreement to ask her only about her conversations with Libby. Under the terms of that agreement, Fitzgerald can't compel her to testify about conversations with other people, but she can of course do so voluntarily. And Fitzgerald can tell her lawyer that if she fails to volunteer, she may be looking at substantially more than 85 days behind bars on charges of perjury, conspiracy to obstruct justice, being an accessory to Libby's violations of the Espionage Act, or being a co-conspirator with him and others in those violations. (This is perfectly acceptable prosecutorial conduct, not even close to any ethical line.)

Instead of a mere percipient witness, Miller is now a potential defendant, and Fitzgerald can try to "flip" her against all of her sources, not just Libby. “

Look here: Miller is a slimy character who passed on Cheney’s lies about WMDs, and the Times published it—flying in the face of all evidence. You just want to spit on Time’s management, don’t you? The White House Iraq Group knew damn well who Wilson was and that he was an independent man. He was rankled over Bush's lies in the State of the Union address and the White House criminals had to know he might react. And Miller, well, she did not take a state-paid vacation for 85 days to protect her source(s) . The Plame leak was a crime and compromised national security, and it was never an issue of the public’s right to know. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals settled that nonsense. This ain’t the Tyco case, and Judith Miller’s public pronouncements were all bogus. She just got a free pass from the corporate media.

In a few weeks.....

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LAT: Shut Out on Healthcare After Storm

By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar Times Staff Writer Sun Oct 9, 7:55 AM ET

WASHINGTON — Like most of those whose lives were upended by Hurricane Katrina, 52-year-old school bus driver Emanuel Wilson can thank the federal government for the fact that he has money to pay rent. He's also been given food stamps to make sure he can buy groceries. And if he had young children, the government would almost certainly be helping them get back to school.

But what Wilson needs is chemotherapy, and that is something the government seems unable to help him with. Wilson was being treated with monthly chemo injections for his intestinal cancer before the hurricane.

He has been denied assistance largely because, before the storm, he had what the government says it wants every American to have: health insurance.

The New Orleans man's plight illustrates one of the most perplexing twists in the still-faltering federal effort to help Gulf Coast hurricane victims: a seemingly inconsistent approach to victims' healthcare needs that appears to punish those who had taken the most responsibility for their own care.

Under the present rules for Katrina victims, if you are destitute, the government will pay your medical bills. Ditto if you are severely disabled or have children. But if you're an adult who had a job that included health benefits and you lost that job because of the storm, the government can't seem to help.

That's true even if, as with Wilson, there is every prospect that you can get your old job back as soon as things begin returning to normal.

"I went to Medicaid, and the lady I talked to let me know that Medicaid is mostly if you're disabled or pregnant," said Wilson, who fled New Orleans to Baton Rouge, La. "I don't want to become disabled, and I don't think I can become pregnant, so that leaves me out in the cold."

Wilson can't reinstate his health insurance — which expires at the end of this month — because the storm wiped out his job. The government says he doesn't fall into any of the rigid eligibility categories for federally sponsored Medicaid.

He's not alone. Of 6,322 displaced households that had applied for Medicaid through Sept. 23 in Louisiana, more than half, 3,456, were not eligible under current rules, according to the state.

In the Senate, a bipartisan bill would open Medicaid — the federal program created to serve the needy — for tens of thousands of displaced people like Wilson for up to 10 months. The Bush administration opposes that, saying it would create a major new entitlement.

Please click here and read whole story.

Comment by Terry

George Bush and company have found a new way to kill citizens of our country in defense of money and wealth. Even the Republican majority in the Senate wants people like Emanuel Wilson to be given the medical treatment that will keep them alive and possibly cure them, but Bush doesn’t.

I wonder what a coroner would call such a death--murder by political technicality!

Terry D. Barhorst Sr.
Austin, Tx
Lone Star Democrats.

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