.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

 

AP: Poll says warrants needed even to eavesdrop terrorists

By KATHERINE SHRADER, Associated Press Writer - 44 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - A majority of Americans want the Bush administration to get court approval before eavesdropping on people inside the United States, even if those calls might involve suspected terrorists, an AP-Ipsos poll shows.

President Bush addresses the Chicago Economic Cub at a luncheon during his stop in Chicago, Friday, Jan. 6, 2006. Bush used his speech to prod Congress to extend his administration's tax cuts that are due to expire, and rattled off a string of recent government reports suggesting a growing U.S. economy. (AP Photo/Bonnie Trafelet, Pool)Over the past three weeks, President Bush [seen at left addressing the Chicago Economic Cub at a luncheon during his stop in Chicago, Friday, Jan. 6. (AP Photo/Bonnie Trafelet, Pool)] and top aides have defended the electronic monitoring program they secretly launched shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, as a vital tool to protect the nation from al-Qaida and its affiliates.

Yet 56 percent of respondents in an AP-Ipsos poll said the government should be required to first get a court warrant to eavesdrop on the overseas calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens when those communications are believed to be tied to terrorism.

Agreeing with the White House, some 42 percent of those surveyed do not believe the court approval is necessary.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
 
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Barhorst: God, me, and Death

By Terry Barhorst, right

I really don't understand this notion some have that death is a punishment. If one of my children should become wounded or ill, to the point of helplessness and terrible pain, I would surely bring them home to care for and bring them back to health. My actions might confuse some people, but I would not think of that confusion as a punishment either.

I believe that a majority of religions believe that our bodies are a husk in which we spend earthly time. Then, for whatever reason, we go on. It is a body that is punished by disease, actions--of self and others--and accidents, and only a minority of these husks come to a point where the "I" is released because of "old age."

Those demagogues, who believe that claiming death as a punishment to the individual involved is useful as a political statement, have completely lost connection with whatever God in which they claim faith and belief. That they do it for political reasons is reprehensible. Politicians, demogogues, and clergy claiming death as a punishment are wrong. In point of fact, even terrorists better understand the truth of death.

Death is a loss, and in some cases a punishment, to those left behind, but not the dying. In every religion except one that I have studied, the dying are going on. Those left behind mourn their own loss. This must be believed, for it is consistent with the belief that there are entities who are all powerful and wise.

Terry D. Barhorst

Media Matters for America.

Common Dreams * Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

Buzzflash News.

Latest post to DemLog.


 

Burkett: Reclaim the youth

By Bill Burkett, right
 
To some people, ideas and observations come in the shower; to me, they come as I am in the pasture with the cows, or some other place remote from the mish-mash of people.
 
And there's one thing that study after study points out; yet we haven't done much about in Texas or throughout the country.
 
It's the wrong political presuppositions of our youth.
 
A few years back, my second son observed that the problem with America was that his generation (he's now 31) had been brainwashed in school and throughout life about Reagan and Reaganomics.  As he put it, the young parents today still don't understand that social security is a nationwide compulsory "savings plan" that has been robbed since Reagan; Medicare is a nationwide compulsory senior health insurance program that whose trust fund has been chased by one lobby after another; and Social Security disability is a compulsory nationwide disability insurance program whose purposes are misunderstood.
 
He said then that young people only think of three words when looking at all three programs.  First, they recognize the word "compulsory" and to them that's money directly out of their check.  Second, they view those on the programs as not working as hard as they believe they are working and therefore, those are "deadbeats" and these young folks are carrying those as their burden.  Finally, they view all three programs as "WELFARE", because that's the word of the Reagan revolution, the Gingrich contract on America and now the Bush "Screw America" propaganda apply to these programs.
 
Democrats have always counted on the young folks, those interested in change, as their constituents. 
 
But the Republicans were able to cast themselves as the party of change, and though they have done nothing to make things better for America, they still hold that mantle in the collective minds of young folks.
 
Young people feel like they are the underdogs.
 
We have to answer their appeal and bring them into the Texas and national Democratic efforts.
 
Well, this afternoon, while watching our cattle and doing chores, it hit me.
 
How can Rick Perry, or David Dewhurst, or any of them say they have done anything FOR people.  Are they the party of change??
 
No.  This administration has been the one who has dug in their heels to take care of their own wealthy power brokers.  If we want solutions to educational, tax or quality of life issues in Texas, we're going to have to be the ones who provide them.
 
Lt. Col. Bill Burkett, Texas Air National Guard, retired
Baird, Texas
 
posted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

AP: Poll prefers Dem control of congress - Jan. 7

By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer - 1 hour, 57 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Dissatisfied with the nation's direction, Americans are leaning toward wanting a change in which political party leads Congress -- preferring that Democrats take control, an AP-Ipsos poll found. Democrats are favored over Republicans 49 percent to 36 percent.

An aerial view of the Capitol Building. A year-long debate in Congress over legislation to cut spending took a new twist on Wednesday after Senate Democrats succeeded in forcing the House to take another vote on the controversial $39.7 billion bill. REUTERS/Larry DowningAn aerial view of the Capitol Building is seen at left. A year-long debate in Congress over legislation to cut spending took a new twist on Wednesday after Senate Democrats succeeded in forcing the House to take another vote on the controversial $39.7 billion bill. REUTERS/Larry Downing.

The AP-Ipsos polling came as disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to tax evasion, fraud and corruption charges and agreed to aid a federal investigation of members of Congress and other government officials.

President Bush's job approval remains low -- 40 percent in the AP-Ipsos poll, with only one-third saying the country is headed in the right direction. Bush also remains low on his handling of Iraq, where violence against Iraqis and U.S. troops has been surging.

"I just don't like the direction our country is going in," said Steve Brown, a political independent from Olympia, Wash. "I think a balance of power would be beneficial right now."

Republicans are watching the situation unfold with some nervousness. "I don't think anyone is hitting the panic button," said Rich Bond, a former Republican National Committee chairman. "But there is an acute recognition of the grim environment that both parties are operating in."

"If the Democrats had any leadership or any message, they could be poised for a good year," Bond said. "But in the absence of that, they have not been able to capitalize on Republican woes. Because of the size of the GOP majority, Democrats have to run the board, and I don't see that happening."

Carl Forti, a spokesman for the GOP's congressional campaign committee, said about 30 House seats are competitive this year, compared with more than 100 a dozen years ago. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (news, bio, voting record) of Illinois, who heads the Democrats' campaign efforts, put the competitive number in 2006 at 42, and he suggested ongoing scandals improve Democratic recruitment of candidates by "making the environment more conducive. It helps move them along in the process."

Full AP-Yahoo News story.


Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

Friday, January 06, 2006

 

AP: Wal-Mart stops movie promotions linking Blacks to apes - Jan. 6

By MARCUS KABEL, Associated Press Writer - 6:25 AM ET

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is shutting down the system that creates movie recommendations on its shopping Web site after it linked a "Planet of the Apes" DVD to films about famous black Americans, including Martin Luther King Jr.

Shoppers exit a Wal-Mart store in Casselberry, Florida June 22, 2004. Public relations experts say Wal-Mart risked angering investors when it wrote a spoof song about what proved to be a disappointing holiday season. REUTERS/Joe SkipperShoppers exit a Wal-Mart store, right, in Casselberry, Florida June 22, 2004. Public relations experts say Wal-Mart risked angering investors when it wrote a spoof song about what proved to be a disappointing holiday season. REUTERS/Joe Skipper.

Wal-Mart said Thursday it had removed what it called the "offensive combinations" from a walmart.com page advertising a boxed DVD set, "Planet of the Apes: The Complete TV Series."

Under a "similar items" section, the DVD set's page linked shoppers to four films about the lives of King, actress Dorothy Dandridge, boxer Jack Johnson and singer Tina Turner. Wal-Mart later altered the page to link with television show DVDs.

The world's largest retailer said the software that generates links for shoppers from one movie to others of similar interest would be shut down. All cross references would be removed as soon as technically possible until the system can be fixed, Wal-Mart said.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.


Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
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blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

AP: Sharon in surgery again

17 minutes ago

JERUSALEM - Prime Minister Ariel Sharon returned to the operating room to undergo emergency surgery Friday after a brain scan showed a raise in cranial pressure and some bleeding, hospital doctors said.

The General Director of the Hadassah Hospital Dr. Shlomo Mor-Yosef  pauses as he gives a statement to the press about the health condition of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon outside the emergency room of the hospital in Jerusalem, Israel, Friday, Jan. 6, 2006. Sharon's vital signs, including cranial pressure, were steady Friday, following emergency brain surgery for a massive stroke, and his doctors said he would remain in a medically induced coma for at least two more days. (AP Photo/Oded balilty)Sharon's blood pressure had also risen, said Dr. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, left, the director of Hadassah Hospital, where the prime minister is being treated.

"There was an increase in cranial pressure and there were changes in the blood pressure," Mor-Yosef said.

Sharon's aides rushed to the hospital following word of the surgery, the second in two days.

An aide to veteran Israeli politician Shimon Peres, speaking on condition of anonymity because she is not Peres' official spokeswoman, said she had been told Sharon's situation is "not good."

Source:  AP-Yahoo News.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

Thursday, January 05, 2006

 

AP: Dems weigh delay on Alito vote - Jan. 5

By JESSE J. HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer - 33 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Senate Democrats are considering a plan that could delay a committee vote on Samuel Alito's Supreme Court nomination for at least a week, slowing what could have been a quick confirmation for President Bush's pick to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter had hoped to hold a committee vote on Alito's nomination Jan. 17, a little over a week from Monday's start of the federal appellate judge's confirmation hearings.

Sen. ReidSenate leadership aides said Thursday that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., right, told Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., that Democrats will invoke their right to hold the Alito committee vote over for one week. The aides spoke on condition of anonymity because the move had not been announced yet.

Democrats insisted that a final decision has not been made. "We want to see how the hearing goes, procedurally and substantially, before allowing them to accelerate the vote for a week," said Sen. Charles Schumer (news, bio, voting record), D-N.Y., a member of the Judiciary Committee. "That's what we've always said."

Full AP-Yahoo News story.


Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

MMfA: CBN's Robertson says Sharon stroke was God's punishment

Pat RobertsonOn the January 5 edition of Christian Broadcasting Network's (CBN) The 700 Club, host Pat Robertson (left) suggested that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's recent stroke was the result of Sharon's policy, which he claimed is "dividing God's land." Robertson admonished: "I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the EU [European Union], the United Nations, or United States of America." Although Robertson professed that "Sharon was personally a very likeable person," he nonetheless declared that "God has enmity against those who, quote, 'divide my land.' " Robertson called the 1995 assassination of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin "the same thing." A previous CBN news article, titled "Dividing the Land, Dishonoring God's Covenant," examined Sharon's decision to return control of the Gaza strip to the Palestinian Authority.

Robertson's comment was first reported by JTA, an international news service that covers "issues of concern to the Jewish people," and Joshua Micah Marshall's Talking Points Memo weblog, which links to the JTA website.

Source: Media Matters for America.

D.H.: There are many reasons why Robertson's position is offensive, not the least of which is the knee-jerk assumption that the Jews and the nation of Israel are "God's people" and the Palestinians are not.  This assumption is due to the widespread influence of "Dispensationalism" within American evangelicalism.  I have debunked this pernicious theory in two articles called "Dispensationalism Refuted - Flaws of Pro-Israel Rapturism," and "Cultural Irrelevance of Fundamentalism & Dispensationalism," found at http://haigler.info/page11.html.  I am not attacking Christianity, as I am a Christian myself, or even other Christians' faith itself; but I think when a belief system -- which can easily be shown to be inimical to the core beliefs of historic Protestantism and is not embraced by Roman Catholics either -- skewers U.S. foreign policy and harms world peace, it is fair game for debunking.  Nor am I anti-Semitic.  But if we are to be honest brokers in the Middle East, we cannot precommit to one side being "God's people" and the other side not. 

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
 
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DH: DemLog bumper stickers, etc., available

DemLog LogoDemLog now has bumper stickers, buttons, mugs, aprons, rectangle magnets, license-plate frames, tote bags, caps, wall clocks & tile coasters.
 
The logo for these items is shown at right.
 
The link to order them is: http://www.cafepress.com/demlog.
 
Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
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political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

Spier: Democrats Should Bookmark This Blogspot: Unclaimed Territory

By Bill Spier, left

An often astute writer in the blogosphere is Glenn Greenwald. Mr. Greenwald, a first amendment specialist and litigator, resides in New York City, my home too. His blogspot is called Unclaimed Territory. I think all his posts from this week are must reads, but especially the one called Attacking Bush's Only Weapon-Fear.

As a result of the airing of NSA violations, both Cheney and Bush took to the pulpit pushing their agenda of total power to the president. Their message was fear: fear of Islamic domination of the world and fear of Al Qaida's murderous capabilities. The message ends with -- the president will protect you if granted unlimited powers to do so.

Before we are all forced to goosestep in front of Bush/Cheney uber alles, democrats had better counter the irrational fears too many people have. Greenwald says we cannot let them get away with this any longer. We have become a nation of pitiful cowards.

Other links:

Media Matters for America.

Common Dreams * Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

Buzzflash News.

Latest post to DemLog.


 

AP: Sharon Gravely Ill After Massive Stroke

A newspaper seller carries fresh copies with the headline in Hebrew, 'Struggles for his life', referring to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon outside the emergency room of Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, Israel, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2006. Sharon was sent back to the operating room Thursday for further surgery to save his life after he suffered 'massive, widespread' bleeding in his brain that doctors feared would cause permanent damage. Vice Premier Ehud Olmert was named acting prime minister and given a beefed-up security detail. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)Associated Press - 29 minutes ago

JERUSALEM - A newspaper seller, left, carries fresh copies with the headline in Hebrew, 'Struggles for his life', referring to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon outside the emergency room of Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, Israel, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2006.

Sharon was sent back to the operating room Thursday for further surgery to save his life after he suffered 'massive, widespread' bleeding in his brain that doctors feared would cause permanent damage. Vice Premier Ehud Olmert was named acting prime minister and given a beefed-up security detail. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Prime Minister Sharon fought for his life Thursday following seven hours of emergency surgery to stop widespread bleeding in his brain. The massive stroke made it unlikely that he would return to power.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
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political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

AmericaBlog: Why would Bush spy on Christiane Amanpour?

by John in DC - 1/04/2006 11:29:00 PM

AmanpourVery interesting analysis from Attytood:
...we decided to look at why the American government would want to spy on the CNN reporter (Christiane Amanpour, right).

Well, given the current administration's views on civil liberties and Arabs, the most cynical answer we could offer is because she is of Iranian descent. But while her father was an Iranian airline executive, Amanpour was born in London and mostly raised there, attending Catholic schools, and her family fled Iran in 1979 "during the Islamic Revolution."

Not exactly a terrorist profile.

The least cynical answer would be because her recent reporting would have brought her into direct contact with members of al Qaeda. In August 2002, not long after Bush began to authorize the warrantless spying program, Amanpour worked with CNN's Nic Robertson on a special that was billed as an inside view of al-Qaeda....

Then there is the issue of Amanpour's husband, Jamie Rubin, former official in the Clinton administration State Department. You may have forgotten (we did, frankly), but Rubin re-emerged in 2004 -- as a foreign policy advisor to John Kerry. Do husbands and wives use the same telephones and computers? Is the Pope German?

But frankly, the concept that scares us the most, as a journalist, goes back to that lovely quote from the Fox News spokeswoman at the very top of this post -- and the episode that inspired it. Because Christiane Amanpour was highest profile, and also the most forceful, critic of the media's pliency toward Bush after the 9/11 attacks.

Here's what she said in Sept. 2003:

"I think the press was muzzled, and I think the press self-muzzled. I'm sorry to say, but certainly television and, perhaps, to a certain extent, my station was intimidated by the administration and its foot soldiers at Fox News. And it did, in fact, put a climate of fear and self-censorship, in my view, in terms of the kind of broadcast work we did."

The next day, Fox blasts her as an "al-Qaeda spokeswoman." And two years later, we are left to wonder if she was spied upon by the American government.

Coincidence?

We sure hope so.
Reposted from AmericaBlog by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas.  D.H.: This is a follow-up on the post from AmericaBlog last night reposted by John Pettit on DemLog reporting on the NBC investigation on Bush spying on Amanpour.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

 

AmericaBlog: Bush is spying on CNN journalist

AmericaBlog story: NBC Confirms It's Investigating Whether Bush Spied On CNN's Christiane Amanpour -- Wednesday, January 04, 2006

by John in DC - 1/04/2006 10:27:00 PM

That is the only way to read NBC's just-issued statement on why they deleted key portions of Andrea Mitchell's interview after AmericaBlog reported on it earlier today.

[Background: AmericaBlog reported earlier Wednesday that NBC's Andrea Mitchell, while interviewing New York Times' reporter James Risen (the man who broke the domestic spying scandal) asked Risen if there was any evidence to suggest Bush was spying on US journalists. When Risen said none that he knew of, Mitchell then pressed the issue again and asked if there was any evidence that Bush was spying on CNN's Christiane Amanpour. AmericaBlog reported on the fact that Mitchell seemed to know something, and shortly thereafter NBC deleted the section of the transcript dealing with Amanpour.]

NBC's explanation via Atrios and MediaBistro:
Unfortunately this transcript was released prematurely. It was a topic on which we had not completed our reporting, and it was not broadcast on 'NBC Nightly News' nor on any other NBC News program. We removed that section of the transcript so that we may further continue our inquiry.
This is quite big. Note exactly what NBC said:
  • - NBC did not say it pulled the references to Bush spying on Amanpour because it was inappropriate conjecture about something which Andrea Mitchell had no evidence.
  • - No, NBC said it pulled the references because it was still investigating the accusation and didn't want to scoop itself before it was finished investigating. And make no mistake, NBC is "continuing their inquiry."
  • - UPDATE: One more point. NBC did NOT delete the part of the interview preceding the Amanpour question - where Mitchell asks if any reporters are being spied on. They only deleted the follow-up question about whether Amanpour was being spied on. Thus, their premature release of info regarding an "ongoing inquiry" wasn't about reporters generally - or they'd have deleted that part of the interview as well - they only deleted the Amanpour follow-up, suggesting that it's the question of whether Bush spied on Amanpour that they have been, and are still, investigating.

That's incredibly big news. NBC has acknowledged that they have information to suggest that Bush may have spied (be spying) on CNN's Christiane Amanpour and that NBC is currently investigating that very possibility. This isn't just conjecture anymore, NBC has confirmed it. You can read about how NBC changed the transcript of the interview after we reported on it here. And you can read how spying on CNN's Amanpour could end up involving Bill Clinton, John Kerry and General Wesley Clark here.

Comment by D.H.: Get an AmericaBlog T-Shirt like this, here.

Source: http://americablog.blogspot.com/2006/01/nbc-confirms-its-investigating-whether.html

Comment by John Pettit: George Bush IS spying on journalists. You can bet your bottom dollar he is ALSO spying on what he percieves to be his political 'enemies' as well. The Police State is here, now, in FULL force.


 

MMfA: Media confuse political contributions with illegal influence peddling in Abramoff case

Media Matters for America today reported that various media outlets have confused two categories of conduct, one legal and the other illegal, in casting the Abramoff scandal as bipartisan. The baseless suggestion that Jack Abramoff  arrives at the federal justice building in Miami  where he is expected to plead quilty to criminal charges stemming from the 2000 purchase of SunCruz Casinos Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2006. Abramoff plead guilty in federal court Washington Tuesday to mail fraud, conspiracy and tax evasion charges.  (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)any lawmaker who received contributions from Jack Abramoff, right, or his clients -- conduct that is, in and of itself, legal and ethical -- might be implicated in an investigation that is, in fact, focused on possible illegal conduct -- including the receipt of contributions in exchange for something -- allows the media to then characterize the scandal as bipartisan, since both Democrats and Republicans did in fact receive money from Abramoff's clients.

As The Christian Science Monitor reported on today, "not everyone who ever took Abramoff-related money or perks is guilty of wrongdoing."

Several in the media have blurred this distinction. A January 4 CNN.com report suggested that Democrats as well as Republicans will be hurt by the scandal because members of both parties received Abramoff money. According to the report: "Even though Abramoff's political donations were not exclusive to Republicans, Democrats contend that he is a GOP lobbyist and this scandal will hurt Republicans in the midterm elections." And on the January 3 broadcast of NPR's Morning Edition, national political correspondent Mara Liasson said that "more Republicans took money from Jack Abramoff than Democrats. That's almost logical, because they are in the majority." Aside from the fact that Liasson's suggestion that Democrats took money from Abramoff at all appears to be false -- a search of the Center for Responsive Politics' database turned up no data showing any contributions from Abramoff himself to any Democrats -- "political donations" or who "took money from Jack Abramoff" per se are not the issue.

Source: Media Matters for America.

Submitted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas.


 

BG: Bush says not bound by torture ban law

Waiver right is reserved

Bush signing bill in CrawfordWASHINGTON -- When President Bush, left, last week signed the bill outlawing the torture of detainees, he quietly reserved the right to bypass the law under his powers as commander in chief.

After approving the bill last Friday, Bush issued a "signing statement" -- an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law -- declaring that he will view the interrogation limits in the context of his broader powers to protect national security. This means Bush believes he can waive the restrictions, the White House and legal specialists said.

"The executive branch shall construe [the law] in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President . . . as Commander in Chief," Bush wrote, adding that this approach "will assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the President . . . of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks."

Full Boston Globe article.  DemLog covered this story here yesterday

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

WP: How wrong news got spread on miners

In a post of 7:36 a.m. E.T. this morning, the Washington Post explained how the wrong news got put out that 13 trapped coal miners in West Virginia were alive.

The story was that a rescue worker yelled out over a speakerphone that rescuers had found the miners and were checking their "vital signs," which all the listeners took to mean the miners were alive.

Ben Hatfield, the mining company CEO, left, took two hours to clarify and make sure all the miners except one were in fact dead. Families complained bitterly about the delay.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

AP: Bush pushes Patriot Act, Feingold protests

WASHINGTON - Congress has been resisting some of President Bush's strategies in the war on terror -- particularly, a permanent renewal of the USA Patriot Act -- and he is not happy about it.

"The enemy has not gone away. They're still there. And I expect Congress to understand that we're still at war, and they got to give us the tools necessary to win this war," the president said Tuesday, below right in a meeting with prosecutors.

President Bush speaks during a meeting on the Patriot Act in the Roosevelt Room in the White House Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2006. Let to right are U.S. Attorney Bill Mercer, Montana, U.S. Attorney Paul Ignatius Perez, Florida, U.S. Attorney Karin Immergut, Oregon, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Bush.   (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)Bush's views were likely to be well received Wednesday at the Pentagon, where Defense Department officials were briefing him on their progress in Iraq and on other fronts.

During a White House meeting with federal prosecutors Tuesday, Bush said lawmakers must act on a permanent renewal of the Patriot Act, which expanded the government's surveillance and prosecutorial powers against suspected terrorists, their associates and financiers. Noting that the Patriot Act was approved overwhelmingly not long after the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, he said political considerations now were getting in the way.

"When it came time to renew the act, for partisan reasons, in my mind, people have not stepped up" to renew the act, the president said.

Many key provisions of the law were to expire Dec. 31. Amid a debate over whether the act sufficiently protects civil liberties, most Senate Democrats and a few Republicans united against legislation that would have made several of the expiring provisions permanent while extending others for four years.

In a move the White House adamantly opposed but later accepted, Congress approved a one-month extension of the law in its current form to allow the contentious debate to continue, which will take place when Congress reassembles later this month. The new measure expires Feb. 3.

Later, outside the West Wing, prosecutors cited several cases in which the Patriot Act had played a crucial role, from staging an undercover sting on California weapons dealers attempting to sell Stinger missiles to securing convictions of major terrorist financiers in New York.

"We use it each and every day to protect our country against terrorists and criminals," said Ken Wainstein, U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.

"We believe this provides adequate safeguards in every respect," said Mary Beth Buchanan, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Sen. FeingoldSen. Russ Feingold, left (news, bio, voting record), D-Wis., said Bush should spend more time negotiating about the Patriot Act with Democrats and others on Capitol Hill and less on "staged meetings with hand-picked participants" at the White House.

"Contrary to the president's misleading comments, nobody wants to see the Patriot Act expire," Feingold said Tuesday. "We want commonsense changes to the act that would give the government the power to combat terrorism while protecting the rights and freedoms of law-abiding citizens."

Full AP-Yahoo News story.


Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

Slate-Papers: Jack the Flipper - Jan. 4

By Eric Umansky - Posted Wednesday at 5:49 AM ET

AbramoffThe Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, and Washington Post all lead with fallen super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, right, formally turning state's evidence and pleading guilty to fraud, tax evasion, and conspiracy to bribe public officials. [Bill Spier blogged this story on DemLog yesterday at 2:38 p.m.]

USA Today leads with and everybody else fronts [the mistaken report that] 12 of the 13 miners trapped in West Virginia found alive late last night. One miner was found dead earlier yesterday.

President and CEO of the International Coal Group Ben Hatfield, below left, speaks to reporters, about the deaths of 12 miners Mining company CEOtrapped after an explosion, in Tallmansville, West Virginia January 4, 2006. Only one man survived after an explosion in a West Virginia coal mine, a mine official said on Wednesday, transforming joy into grief just hours after an incorrect report emerged that 12 of 13 missing miners were still alive 40 hours after the blast. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts (Reuters - 9 minutes ago).

There were actually few new facts to grasp onto in Abramoff's pleading yesterday. He's promised to name names and according to the Journal has boasted that he "could implicate 60 lawmakers." The papers, citing what are presumably prosecutors, have numbers a fraction of that—though still large enough to keep many in D.C. sweating. The Post says Abramoff has agreed to finger "about half a dozen House and Senate members." And then there are the congressional staffers cited, one of whom allegedly was in on the fun while working as a former top aide to then House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Bob NeyOne name that is surely on Abramoff's list: Rep. Bob Ney, right; whose office has acknowledged he's the lawmaker referred to in court documents as "Representative #1."

The WP offers up two other legislators "being investigated": Sen. Conrad Burns, below left (R-Mont.) and Rep. John T. Doolittle, below right (R-Calif.).

Sen. Conrad Burns

Prosecutors are recommending about 10 years in the pokey for Abramoff, though the judge can sentence him to up to 30 years, depending at least partially on his level of cooperation. "With most cases, the plea is the end, but with Abramoff, the plea is just the beginning," one FBI official told the NYT. "This one has legs."

John DoolittleThe NYT fronts Iran informing the U.N. that it has decided to restart research on a "peaceful nuclear energy program." Iran had suspended all such work as part of an agreement with Europe about a year ago. As the Times notes, "research" has long been a code word for uranium enrichment, and the U.S. warned last night that if Iran goes ahead with enrichment the international community will immediately and without hesitation, well, "consider additional measures."

In a Page One piece, the NYT says the National Security Agency expanded "its domestic surveillance operations" right after 9/11 without a formal directive from President Bush. Word of the expansion comes via a just-declassified correspondence between the head of the NSA and the then-Pelosiranking Democrat on the House intel committee, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, left, who was briefed on the effort and expressed concern. [DemLog blogged this story at 10:29 last night.] What the Times doesn't say until the 17-th paragraph is that the "expanded domestic surveillance" did not include the warrantless wiretap program. (The early effort apparently involved more limited passing along of some intercepts to the FBI.) The Post also covers the early NSA snooping, but is more cautious and puts the story inside.

Everybody mentions Iraq officials saying a U.S. airstrike killed about a dozen members of a family, mostly women and children. The U.S. said a drone had spotted insurgents trying to plant a bomb and then entering a house. The Post says one of its reporters (or a stringer) "watched as the corpses of three women and three boys who appeared to be younger than 10 were removed." A U.S. military spokesman said they're investigating.

The NYT mentions inside that the administration yesterday appealed to federal judges to dismiss all lawsuits by Gitmo detainees. The administration cited the Graham amendment, which passed along with Senator McCain's anti-torture measure and strips detainees of their right to habeas corpus appeals.

Back to Jack: The LAT looks at how Abramoff first acquired a taste for the black arts in politics -- 30-plus years ago, in junior high:

"He ran for student council president at the Hawthorne School, an elementary and middle school, in 1972. Heading into a runoff election, he was disqualified for exceeding the spending limit. The principal [as one student recalled] penalized Abramoff for holding a party, stating it amounted to a campaign expenditure that pushed him over the limit."

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

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info

If those links don't work, try our political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com.

 

Democrats.com: Antiwar Events Planned in Over 70 Cities, other protests

Out of Iraq Events Planned for Jan. 7


Local organizations have planned over 70 Out of Iraq events around the country on or about January 7th. (See list at bottom.) Most of the events are town hall forums, and several will feature members of Congress, including Bobby Scott, Diane Watson, Jim McDermott, Adam Smith, Bob Filner, Martin Sabo, Jim Moran, John Murthaand John Murtha, left. Several other events will feature congressional staff, congressional and senatorial candidates, local elected officials, and leaders of the peace movement, including Gold Star Families for Peace founder Cindy Sheehan, below right, and After Downing Street Co-Founder John Bonifaz.

SheehanWhile all of these events will focus on ending the war, many of them will also address Congressman John Conyers' new resolutions to censure President Bush and Vice President Cheney and to create a select committee to investigate and make recommendations on impeachment.

To sign up for an event near you, go to:
http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/event

National Call-In Day on Accountability January 9th

Tens of thousands of members of Progressive Democrats of America and other organizational members of the After Downing Street Coalition will phone Members of Congress in their district offices on January 9, urging them to cosponsor three bills:

  • H.Res.635 to create a select committee to investigate and to make recommendations on grounds for impeachment,
  • H.Res.636 to censure Bush, and
  • H.Res.637 to censure Cheney.

More about these bills:
http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/5768

Congress Members' phone numbers:
http://capwiz.com/pdamerica/dbq/officials/?lvl=C

International Commission Taking "Indictments" to White House January 9th

On January 9, the International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity By the Bush Administration will serve indictments on the White House for its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, its actions and policies on torture and illegal detention, its promotion of abstinence-only in the midst of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, its fueling of global warming, and its response to Hurricane Katrina. This is in preparation for its January 20-22 hearings at Riverside Church and Columbia Law School in New York City (where the Administration will be invited to present a defense). For more details, see:
http://www.bushcommission.org

ImpeachPAC Forms Citizens Impeachment Commission

On Monday, ImpeachPAC announced the formation of a Citizens Impeachment Commission to make 2006 the "Year of Impeachment."

Members of the commission include distinguished national activists, business leaders, elected officials, former government officials, historians and legal scholars, and talk show hosts, editors, bloggers, pundits, and authors.
http://www.impeachpac.org/citizens

Get "Enraged & Engaged" to Stop Alito

The National Organization for Women needs your help to keep abortion safe & legal. There is work to be done, both in Washington, DC and throughout the country. As a part of Freedom Winter 2006, NOW and Feminist Majority Foundation are working together to bring grassroots activists to DC between January 3 and January 20. We're also encouraging activists to organize in their communities.
http://www.now.org/defeatalito

Demand Strict Inspection of Diebold Software

It has been proven that Diebold electronic voting machines use code that is prohibited by federal law, but that hasn't stopped them from selling their machines and states from using them!

Please let Federal Election Commissioners know that citizens want the FEC to uphold the law and insist Diebold comply. You can use this one link to send an email to all commissioners. Please let them know that we are paying attention!

http://www.congressweb.com/cweb4/index.cfm?orgcode=VTUSA&hotissue=4

FORWARD THIS EMAIL

If you received this from a friend, you can subscribe at:
http://afterdowningstreet.org

Submitted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas

http://demlog.blogspot.com


Tuesday, January 03, 2006

 

AP: Intel Committee tipped in '01 about NSA wiretaps - Jan. 3

By KATHERINE SHRADER, Associated Press Writer - 11 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Congressional intelligence committees had at least a hint in October 2001 that the National Security Agency was expanding its surveillance activities after the 9/11 attacks, according to a letter released Tuesday by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Gen. HaydenThe California Democrat had raised questions to Gen. Michael Hayden, right, then the NSA director, about the legal authority to conduct the eavesdropping work.

In the October 2001 letter, Pelosi said she was told in a briefing that month that the agency "had been operating since the Sept. 11 attacks with an expansive view" of its authorities "to the conduct of electronic surveillance under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and related statutes, orders, regulations and guidelines."

"I am concerned whether, and to what extent, the National Security Agency has received specific presidential authorization for the operations you are conducting," Pelosi, then the top Democrat on the intelligence panel, wrote Hayden.

But it appears that Hayden may have at least alluded broadly to the new surveillance work with a wider audience of House and Senate intelligence committee members during the classified October briefing. According to Pelosi's letter, Hayden spoke about the agency's new posture to expand its operations.

Hayden, who is now the nation's No. 2 intelligence official, told Pelosi he wanted to clarify ambiguities. "In my briefing, I was attempting to emphasize that I used my authorities to adjust NSA's collection and reporting," he wrote on Oct. 18, 2001.

The subsequent crucial sentences of the letter, released Tuesday, were blocked out for security reasons.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

Spier: Abramoff Train Has Left The Station....

...and there are quite a few ugly Americans on board.

Today, Jack Abramoff, shown at left leaving federal court in Washington today, signed a plea agreement and the allegations against him were made public. Pick it up at Americablog.

Catch a read, it's all all about bribes and corruption. Race to Addendum A, #32, "Corruption of Public Officials". Representative 1 is obviously Bob Ney (R, Ohio). #33 makes reference to "public officials". Bob Ney is not alone. A few congressmen here, a few staffers there and you have the makings of good scandal. The stew might also get some red meat like Conrad Burns. DeLay is cooked.

No Democrat took money directly from Abramoff, but a few received some from Indian tribes. The only one who might be a bit exposed is Byron Dorgan D/ND) ranking minority on the Indian Affairs Committee. Probably not though. But,George W. Bush, Ken Lay, Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, Duke Cunningham, Ralph Reed and Jack Abramoff are all Republicans, and all are corrupt to the core.

Although the government did not tip its hand on other targets (besides the obvious Ney), Abramoff has been ratting out republicans for over a year. The allegations against Abramoff for ripping off of Indian tribes should net Grover Norquist, Ralph Reed and other crooks. You could just xerox parts of this agreement and substitute their names.

Bill Spier 3:50 P.M. EST


Other links:

Media Matters for America.

Common Dreams * Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

Buzzflash News.

Latest post to DemLog.


 

Spier: Bush and the Right Wing Attack on Constitutional Rights

The Attorney General's announcement that the Justice Department will investigate who leaked to the NYT that President Bush violated the FISA law has brought out (in defense) the ususal stupid and unbalanced Bushie cultists. It may make your skin crawl when defenders like Coulter and Michele Malkin take to the air; but they are the media part of the the assualt on constitutional rights oozing from the rightwing and the administration. If you are one of those folks who took to the barcolounger to watch some reality TV these past evenings, you might have warmed up with a dose of their frothing punditry.

The basic assualt has two constitutional bedrocks in the line of sight: 1) an argument by the administration that Article II gives the president ruling rights the office does not have and, 2) the Fourth Amendment can be suspended in the time of war and the president can authorize eavesdropping on U.S. citizens.

Now that the Justice Department is on the lookout for the leaker, the rightwing bloviators are jumping on the case too. They assist Bush by covering the airways with with a sideshow accusing the NYT and "the press" of national betrayal at time of war. Tbogg analyzes it good.

The Constitution: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Michele Malkin: "What we are witnessing here is a battle that was a long-time in coming between a Republican leadership and the press. Leaks by unelected and entrenched foreign policy and intelligence bureaucrats (or perhaps elected members of the Congress?) meant to undermine the President in a time of war must carry with them consequences. Attempts by an adversarial press to supercede their mandate and actively work against a sitting administration while claiming neutrality and pretending to objectivity should have consequences. " (My emphasis)

She is a rabid dog.

Will this multi-pronged assualt on mandated rights succeed and place the entire nation on the road to a new American Facism? Peter Daou (Daou Report) thinks it might. Others point to the discomfort some Republicans and libertarians feel about all this. If they and mush bodied Democrats can focus the nation on the real issue--the president is not above the law; the discomfort from this should produce citizen concern.

Bush is now viewed by a majority of Americans as disengenuous or an outright liar. Once one filters out all the secondary issues regarding the eavesdropping, warrantless searches, and privacy, up pops the issue that a politician thinks he is above the law.

We don't take kindly to that. Do we?

Other links:

Media Matters for America.

Common Dreams * Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

Buzzflash News.

Latest post to DemLog.


 

AP: CIA ignored spy report of no Iraqi nukes

WASHINGTON - A new book on the government's secret anti-terrorism operations describes how the CIA recruited an Iraqi-American anesthesiologist in 2002 to obtain information from her brother, who was a figure in Saddam Hussein's nuclear program.

Dr. Sawsan Alhaddad, a prominent civic leader in Cleveland, made the dangerous trip to Iraq on the CIA's behalf. The book said her brother was stunned by her questions about the nuclear program because — he said — it had been dead for a decade.

Book CoverNew York Times reporter James Risen (whose book State of War is shown at right) uses the anecdote to illustrate how the CIA ignored information that Iraq no longer had weapons of mass destruction. His book, "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration" describes secret operations of the Bush administration's war on terrorism.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

AP: W. Va. drillers punch through near trapped miners - Jan. 3

West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, left, visits with friends and family of 13 trapped miners Monday, Jan. 2, 2006 at Sago Baptist Church in Tallmansville, W.Va. The 13 coal miners were trapped about 260 feet underground after a mine explosion that may have been sparked by lightning early Monday. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

By JENNIFER C. YATES, Associated Press Writer - 3 minutes ago

TALLMANSVILLE, W.Va. - Rescuers trying to reach 13 trapped miners have successfully drilled a hole into the mine, West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, left, said.

Governor Manchin, left, visits with friends and family of 13 trapped miners Monday, Jan. 2, at Sago Baptist Church in Tallmansville, W.Va.
 
The 13 coal miners were trapped about 260 feet underground after a mine explosion that may have been sparked by lightning early Monday. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
 
Source:  AP-Yahoo News.
 
Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

Slate-Papers: Pork based on need - Jan. 3

The New York Times leads with a preview of a government announcement today that $800 million in terrorism-preparedness aid to states will now be handed out based on risk assessment rather than as it's traditionally been done, that is, based essentially on patronage. What the Times doesn't say until the 19-th paragraph is that the new risked-based program represents only about 25 percent of the $3 billion in overall federal antiterrorism grants.

USA Today leads with Census Bureau figures showing an apparent boom in hospital building. Nearly $100 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars was spent on construction in the past five years, about 50 percent more than the previous five years. Much (no, the story doesn't give numbers) is being spent on fancy hospitals in the 'burbs. "These hospitals are loaded with technology to intensively treat chronically ill patients right up to death," said one researcher. "We know from research that does not improve outcomes, but it does drive up costs."

The Los Angeles Times leads with "many" localities disenchanted with the fancy-schmantzy voting machines they bought after the 2000 Florida debacle and struggling to find replacements. Counties in California have had a rough go of it, "lurching from one voting system to another as the state has written and rewritten standards."

Everybody fronts rescuers trying to reach the 13 miners trapped two miles into a Western Virginian mine. There's been no contact with the men, and it's not clear if they're still alive. Rescuers couldn't even enter the mine until yesterday evening because of gas lingering after the explosion that cut off the miners. The blast was big enough that residents said, as the NYT puts it, it "rocked them out of their sleep."

Everybody notes that the mine's owners had recently been cited for nearly 50 safety violations, including inadequate protections against the buildup of dangerous gases. One resident told the Post that she recently saw a worker at the mine walk into a store and ask for a cigar, "They said, 'You don't smoke,' and he said he didn't know how much longer he was going to be alive because of the idiots at the mine." (Of course the quote is secondhand, and it could be that the guy was simply spinning.)

The NYT fronts Russia mostly reopening its natural gas pipeline to Ukraine. Moscow tightened the spigot Sunday and faced a fabulous amount of criticism from Europe, where gas deliveries were also affected. Prefacing the assessment with patented "was seen as" wimpy newspaper-ese, the Times describes Russia's move "as a gamble by Moscow to influence Ukraine's internal politics ahead of a parliamentary election in March."

The papers mention inside that the U.N. team investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has sent an invite to another person they'd like to see for a chat: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The Post off-lead says the U.S. is pulling back its presence a bit in Afghanistan, politically, militarily, and economically. The WP plays it as the U.S. becoming more open to sharing responsibility, "U.S. CEDES DUTIES IN REBUILDING AFGHANISTAN; NATO, Other Allies Take On New Roles." What gets played down: The scaling back seems to be happening regardless of others' ability to fill in. USAID funds for Afghanistan were cut 40 percent this year. The U.S. is also handing over security for southern Afghanistan to NATO forces, despite the fact that they're not trained for counterinsurgency. (USAT flagged the concern a few months ago.)  

BushAnd what's not in the papers …  Yesterday's Post noted President Bush (left)'s penchant for "signing statements," which give the White House interpretation of a law being, well, signed. The idea is have challenges to a law on paper and thus give the administration a potential leg up in future court cases. The signing statements are an attempt to "address specific provisions of legislation that the White House wishes to nullify," said one presidential historian. He added that they are "also in an effort to significantly reposition and strengthen the powers of the presidency relative to the Congress."

The Post did a great job burying the above trend: "ALITO ONCE MADE CASE FOR PRESIDENTIAL POWER." Also, what the WP didn't pick up on—and what nobody else seems to either: The White House issued just such a signing statement—an apparent attempt at nullification—for Sen. McCain's anti-torture amendment. The statement says:

The executive branch shall construe [the amendment] in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power, which will assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the President ... of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks.

The president acceded to the McCain amendment just a few weeks ago and ended up praising it. Anybody care to ask the White House whether, given the above language, it considers the government absolutely bound by McCain's ban?

Eric Umansky (www.ericumansky.com) writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at todayspapers@slate.com.  Source:  Slate Magazine
Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
 
If those links don't work, try our political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

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