Monday, April 30, 2007

Dead in Iraq to Clinton sunglasses...

From American Progress:

Think Fast

"Five U.S. troops were killed in separate attacks in the capital this weekend, including three in a single roadside bombing, the military said Monday, pushing the death toll past 100 in the deadliest month so far this year."

"President Bush will not sign any war spending bill that penalizes Iraq's government" for failing to meet the benchmarks that his own administration has set, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday, "a fresh warning to Congress about challenging him."

A department of Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki's office is "playing a leading role in the arrest and removal of senior Iraqi army and national police officers, some of whom had apparently worked too aggressively to combat violent Shiite militias."

A U.S.-led raid Sunday on a suspected insurgent cell in Afghanistan left as many as six Afghans dead, including a woman and a teenage girl, and sparked protests by hundreds of angry Afghans chanting, "Death to Bush!" One resident said, "We are not the enemy. We are not al-Qaeda. Why are they attacking us?"

The New York City Bar, one of the largest lawyers' organizations in the country, charges that the Bush administration is "trying to evade responsibility for problems at the Guantanamo Bay prison by falsely blaming defense lawyers for the trouble." The association's criticism comes as the administration is proposing limiting attorneys' access to detainees.

House energy committee chairman John Dingell (D-MI) has written the Environmental Protection Agency demanding to know why Bill Roderick, the acting attorney general, "launched a plan back in June to cut 60 of his 360 employees -- especially auditors, criminal investigators and the like -- via buyouts or resignations." Around the same time, Roderick received a raise exceeding $15,000.

Women online are increasingly harrassed in "sexually threatening terms -- a trend that was first evident in chat rooms in the early 1990s and is now moving to the blogosphere. ... A 2006 University of Maryland study on chat rooms found that female participants received 25 times as many sexually explicit and malicious messages as males."

"Black, Hispanic and white drivers are equally likely to be pulled over by police, but blacks and Hispanics are much more likely to be searched and arrested," and police were "much more likely to threaten or use force against blacks and Hispanics than against whites in any encounter, whether at a traffic stop or elsewhere," a federal study shows.

"Tucked inside Frank Rich's Sunday column in the New York Times is indication that the newspaper will no longer play ball with the annual White House Correspondents Association dinners in Washington, which he calls 'a crystallization of the press's failures in the post-9/11 era.' He writes that the event 'illustrates how easily a propaganda-driven White House can enlist the Washington news media in its shows.'"

And finally: Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) "turned some heads" last week at a briefing when she wore "dark, oversized shades, even though the classified meeting took place very much indoors." Clinton's spokesman said that she didn't have her regular prescription glasses with her, so she used the sunglasses. "Which is a lot better than the rose-colored glasses the Bush administration puts on whenever they look at their failed policy in Iraq," he added.


SpecOps...out there somewhere....

From Secrecy News:


Across the globe from Iraq and Afghanistan to Africa to Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago, U.S. Special OperationsForces are deployed to conduct unconventional warfare, psychological operations, and other activities in supportof U.S. military and foreign policy objectives.

In Fiscal Year 2007, U.S. Special Operations Command has total authorized manpower of 47,911 persons, according to a new SOCOM posture statement, which provides an overview of special operations capabilities and missions.

See "U.S. SOCOM: Posture Statement 2007," April 2007:


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Carl Bernstein overcomes years-long writers' block to do unauthorized Hillary book...


April 29, 2007
Watergate reporter Bernstein takes apart Hillary’s career story
Sarah Baxter

Drawing on a trove of private papers from Hillary Clinton’s best friend, the legendary Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein is to publish a hard-hitting and intimate portrait of the 2008 presidential candidate, which will reveal a number of “discrepancies” in her official story.

Bernstein, who was played by Dustin Hoffman in the film All the President’s Men, has spent eight years researching the unauthorised 640-page biography, A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“Bernstein reaches conclusions that stand in opposition to what Senator Clinton has said in the past and has written in the past,” said Paul Bogaards, a spokesman for Knopf, which publishes the book on June 19.

With the thoroughness for which he is famous, Bernstein spoke to more than 200 of Clinton’s friends, colleagues and adversaries. He stops short of accusing the New York senator of blatantly lying about her past, but has unearthed examples of where she has played fast and loose with the facts about her “personal and political life”, according to Knopf.

The book could revive the explosive charge, made earlier this year by David Geffen, a former Clinton donor and Hollywood mogul, that “the Clintons lie with such ease, it’s troubling”.

Clinton remains the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, but Barack Obama, who is keeping pace with her fundraising juggernaut, is closing the gap in the polls.

The Sunday Times has learnt that Bernstein has been given unprecedented access to the private papers of Diane Blair, Clinton’s closest friend and confidante, who died of lung cancer aged 61 in 2000. The collection is still being sorted at the University of Arkansas library and is not yet available to the public.

Bernstein has been delving through Blair’s copious records of the 1992 presidential election campaign, which could offer tantalising insight into Bill Clinton’s war machine and Hillary’s reaction to news of her husband’s dalliance with the nightclub singer Gennifer Flowers in Arkansas.

Hillary denied all knowledge of the affair, but one writer who has followed her career closely said: “She always knew about her.” He added: “Anyone who has approached the subject of Hillary Clinton with a clear eye will run across many examples of stories that are not true.”

Blair, a professor of political science, crisscrossed the country with the Clintons in 1992, serving as a senior adviser and semiofficial historian of the campaign. She became friends with Hillary in the political backwater of Little Rock, Arkansas, in the 1970s, when the two East Coast-educated power women sought each other out as soulmates.

Hillary went on to serve as “best person” at her friend’s marriage to Jim Blair, who had a walk-on part in the scandals of the Clinton White House when it emerged he had helped the former first lady make $100,000 in cattle futures.

Joe Klein, the bestselling author of Primary Colors, recounted how Blair once witnessed a blazing row between Bill and Hillary Clinton. “They were really, really angry with each other,” she told him. “And then suddenly, the president took her in his arms and began kissing her all over her face and he said, ‘God, what would I do without you?’ I felt kind of embarrassed being there.”

When Blair was diagnosed with lung cancer, Clinton was running for the Senate in New York. In her memoir, Living History, she writes about seeing her friend for the last time in an Arkansas hospice. “She pressed my hand tightly and whispered to me, ‘Don’t ever give up on yourself and what you believe in. Take care of Bill and Chelsea. They need you. And win this election for me’.”

Bernstein is known as a liberal Democrat who fiercely opposes the war in Iraq and is likely to be critical of Clinton’s Senate vote to authorise the war. His marriage to Nora Ephron, the screen-writer, broke up when he had an affair with Baroness Jay, the daughter of former prime minister James Callaghan.

For years Bernstein suffered from writer’s block, but Knopf is promoting his biography as a triumphant return to form. Publisher Sonny Mehta said his portrait would “show us, for the first time, the true trajectory of Hillary Clinton’s life and career”. It will be published simultaneously in Britain by Hutchinson.

According to the publishers, it will cover everything from Clinton’s “complex relationship with her disciplinarian father” to “her courtship with Bill Clinton and the amazing dynamic of their marriage, during the most trying of circumstances”.

[click link to continue reading]:


Former CIA author, T.J. Waters interviewed...

From USA Today:


Current or former spies are submitting an increasingly large amount of material for approval by the CIA's Publications Review Board. Manuscripts submitted have ranged from three-paragraph letters to the editor to 500-page books. A look at the trend:
• 1980: Fewer than 100 manuscripts totaling about 10,000 pages.
• 2000: About 300 manuscripts totaling about 15,000 pages.
• 2004: More than 450 manuscripts totaling about 30,000 pages.
• 2007: About 100 manuscripts a month to date totaling thousands of pages each month.
Source: CIA

By Richard Willing, USA TODAY

LANGLEY, Va. — The spies are coming in from the cold — and heading straight to
A record number of former CIA officers and officials are stepping from the shadows to publish memoirs, novels, essays, training manuals, legal treatises and op-ed pieces, according the agency's Publications Review Board.

Former CIA director George Tenet, whose 576-page memoir At the Center of the Storm hits bookstores Monday, is only the most recent.

The Central Intelligence Agency says it hears from about 100 would-be authors each month seeking the permission — a requirement for all former spy agency workers. For the entire year 2000, the agency's Publications Review Board received only about 300 submissions from prospective authors, says spokesman Mark Mansfield.

The spike has strained the resources of the review board, an in-house body of CIA employees from the agency's operations, analysis, science and technology, security and global deployment sections. Board members, Mansfield says, now are obliged to sift through thousands of manuscript pages each month to edit out material that reveals, or is based on, classified information.

Even Tenet, who served as the agency's director from 1997 to 2004, was required to submit his book for review.

The board red-flagged some sensitive material and engaged in what agency spokesman Mansfield calls "back and forth" with Tenet over whether it should be considered classified. Tenet, who submitted portions of his manuscript last October, November and December, didn't get final approval for At the Center of the Storm until mid-March, after agreeing to cuts requested by the agency.

Increasingly, CIA alumni unhappy with the agency's editing are taking their complaints to court, saying some material has been censored because it embarrasses the CIA.

"Classified material is kind of a gray area," says Mark Zaid, a Washington, D.C., lawyer who has represented about a dozen former CIA employees who have sued to undo changes made in their books.

"The CIA says they know it when they see it. But as a matter of fact and policy, they tend to see it in cases where (a book) is critical or embarrassing to them," Zaid says.

Mansfield says the agency's only goal is to "ensure that classified information (is) protected."

Employees at other intelligence agencies — the Defense and Energy departments, and the National Security Agency — have written accounts of their service. But it's CIA books that dominate the market. Based on pre-publication orders, Tenet's book ranked number 4 overall in sales Sunday on

Memoirs, general histories and spy novels based on the exploits of fictional CIA officers form the most popular titles written by former agency workers. But increasingly, notes publishing executive Peter Osnos, ex-spies with highly specialized areas of expertise are finding market niches.

In the past four years, readers have been treated to two examinations of the CIA's lie detector program and a study of the agency's post-9/11 recruiting and training methods.

Osnos attributes the increase in CIA books to the war on terrorism, a perennial interest in spy stories and the willingness of modern espionage agents to spy-and-tell. "For the post-World War II generation (of spies), they thought they were entering a secret society," says Osnos. "That's not the culture of today's CIA people. It's a career and a job but it's not a priestly calling."

T.J. Waters, author of Class 11, a book on the agency's first post 9/11 recruit class, says intelligence work, which can involve extensive reading and writing, tends to attract budding authors. When he joined the CIA as a covert officer shortly after the 2001 attacks Waters found the agency even had its own in-house writer's support group.

It's called "Invisible Ink."

"There's an immense amount of pride that (CIA) people take in their work, which is often overlooked or misunderstood," says Waters, who has left the agency and now works as a consultant. "There's a feeling that to the extent possible, their stories ought to be told."

Sometimes, that's easier said than done.

[click link to continue reading:]


Spinning stories about Dems...

From David Sirota:

Beware of High Broderism Outbreaks In Your State

I am just back from my weekend vacation in Montana's Paradise Valley. Unfortunately, my mental break ended before I actually got home. Over breakfast in pristine Pray, Montana (you Montana readers likely know exactly where I was lucky enough to be), I read the lead political story which is running statewide in Montana and was reminded how quick reporters writing on deadline are to blame Democrats for the downfall of the world anytime Democrats actually behave in a way that contradicts the media's false archetypes of the two parties. This may be an update to my Montana-specific story earlier this week, but there's no doubt anyone who reads anything about politics in their own state knows this kind of ramrodding of stories into a set, inaccurate frame happens all the time everywhere - and it must be exposed whenever it occurs.

To see the full post, go to:


Saturday, April 28, 2007

Why Hillary voted for the Resolution on Iraq war...

People keep asking Sen Clinton to say she regrets voting to give Bush the authority to bypass Congress and attack Iraq. Well here, in this entry from the Congressional Record are her reasons. If you don't read anything else today, read this:



CA Dem Conv in San Diego...began yesterday...

So I'm reading the LA Times and the SD Union-Trib at breakfast on Marie's patio this morning, looking for news about what occured at the Dem Conv yesterday...Friday...when it began.

NOTHING...not one word in the LA Times. Just a very small article on an inside page of the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper...and for everyone with a computer, they'll be doing a blog. Right. Take a look at what they consider a running blog of events:

Went from there to KUSI-TV news online. At least they have a video report...from yesterday. Take a look at

Additionally, there are a reported 400 members of the news media there. So what are they doing? Lounging at the Marriott's pool? All the Dem candidates for President are here and speaking with the exception of Joe Biden, who is still in S Carolina. Nancy Pelosi is here as well. Does anyone care?

I cannot tell you how disgusted I am. Any blogger on the Indy-Weblogs at could and would do an awesomely better reporting job. And to think that this is the very first time the CA Dem Conv has ever been held in San Diego.

Add to that, San Diego is a major city in this nation that was previously a Republican stronghold but the city itself now has more Dems than Repubs. One would think that at least the local media would take note. Oh, I am torqued.


Friday, April 27, 2007

Bush accepts....

This morning at breakfast on the patio, one of the writers said he could not believe what he'd heard.

A bit of conversation between Bush and the Prime Minister of Japan. The Prime Minister offered an apology to the "Comfort Women" who were forced into prostitution during WWII.

And Bush said, "I accept your apology."

The stupid ass DOES NOT LISTEN!!!


If you missed Moyers....

From :

Bill Moyers Journal "Buying the War"

"Buying the War," a documentary film from Bill Moyers, examines the media's coverage in the lead-up to the war as evidence of a paradigm shift in the role of journalists in democracy. And four years after the invasion, Mr. Moyers wonders what has changed? Truthout provides the full documentary and a transcript of the program.


From Waxman investigations to Boehner smoking...

From American Progress:

Think Fast

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) "asked 27 federal departments and agencies yesterday to turn over information related to White House briefings about elections or political candidates," substantially widening the scope of his investigation into potentially illegal partisan activities being conducted by federal officials.

Embattled World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz "will be allowed to argue for his job in front of a bank committee investigating him." But one senior bank official "suggested that members of the committee had already decided to recommend Wolfowitz's ouster, casting Monday's appearance as a last-ditch appeal."

World Bank "members of a team drafting a strategy to root out corruption in bank lending, an initiative pressed aggressively by Wolfowitz, sent a letter to the bank board on Thursday complaining that the scandal was jeopardizing their work." The letter was signed by 46 officials.

"NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin held an unusual meeting with the staff of the inspector general who oversees his agency and then ordered that video recordings of the meeting be destroyed, a House panel said yesterday." In a letter, Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC) accused Griffin of "improperly trying to influence the watchdog office's decisions on what it should investigate."

84 percent: Number of Americans who believe that human activity is contributing to global warming, according to a new New York Times/CBS News poll. "The poll also found that Americans want the United States to support conservation and to be a global leader in addressing environmental problems."

In a "startling departure from his previously stated position on civil unions," Mayor Rudy Giuliani came out yesterday "in opposition to the civil union law just passed by the New Hampshire state Senate."

Media Matters documents how during the first presidential primary debate yesterday, several questions about Iraq, immigration, and national security were "based on false premises."

Federal prosecutors have decided not to file insider-trading charges against former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) for his sales of stock in a family-owned chain of hospitals, a charge for which the "legal standards are high."

And finally: Looks like House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) will have to find a new smoking spot. With smoking bans in the House Speaker's Lobby and the Republicans' Capitol Hill Club, Boehner has been lighting up at the National Democratic Club. But that venue will also now be going smoke-free. A spokeswoman for Rep. Allen Boyd (D-FL) said the congressman "won't miss the smoke, but I'm sure he'll miss the bipartisan company."


Fear! Fear! Panic! Panic!.... They SELL....

From SF Gate:

The Key Chain Of Your Doom
Is something scary waiting in your car? Is your key fob beeping? Should you be screaming?
By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Friday, April 27, 2007

I do so love the marketing of fear. It is so very ideologically perfect, so quietly dehumanizing, so brutally American.

Politicians are experts at it. Gun nuts swallow it whole. The Christian right sucks it down and spits it back up and they all wallow in the low, ugly energy of fear as though it were some sort of vile mantra, some sort of cheap heroin and they were both the dealer and the junkie.

But as good as these groups are, they can't hold a cocked, loaded, dread-soaked candle to the king of all fear purveyors, the marketers. Really, there is simply nothing like sinister consumer advertising to make you think -- in simple, strategic, carefully test-marketed ways -- that you are about to die.

Here, then, is this new commercial. It is for a car. It does not matter which car, but just know that it's an upscale well-appointed sedan and it's beige or maybe silver and not all that interesting or overtly sexy, which means it's perfect for mid-level corporate executives who, according to this commercial, tend to be female and stay late at the office and who, for some reason, often park their cars on the rooftop parking lot. At night. In the rain. Alone.

This car is nicely loaded. Leather, adaptive braking, beeping shiny things, all the luxury bells and whistles. But its main selling point, at least according to this commercial, is the key chain.

[cont reading at: ]


Alcatraz..Bush/Cheney need a tour....

From San Francisco Chronicle:

Upgraded Alcatraz breaks out the excitement
Carl Nolte, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, April 27, 2007

It is springtime on Alcatraz, and for the first time in years the flowers are blooming in a garden once tended by some of the most dangerous prisoners in the country.

The new garden is part of a general overhaul of facilities on the island, which has been part of the national park system longer than it was a federal prison housing inmates the government thought were "the worst of the worst.''

Alcatraz is a strangely fascinating place -- its site in the center of San Francisco Bay is unmatched. Yet it is the "Rock," an island of dark legends. Every year it draws 1.3 million visitors for a 12-minute boat ride, followed by a tour.

This spring the island has gotten new exhibits and a new bookstore, and the prison gardens have been replanted. There is also a new audio tour where ex-inmates and former guards and their families offer sometimes chilling descriptions of life and death on Alcatraz.

"We wanted to tell the human story of Alcatraz,'' said Ricardo Perez, supervising ranger at the island, a unit of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

He said the park service wanted to show visitors what prison was like, "so they could learn the difference between rights and privileges that could be taken away, between incarceration and freedom.''

To do this, the new path to the main cell house leads up a long concrete road to a shower room where new inmates were stripped, searched, issued numbers and given uniforms and a book of rules. There were 53 rules in all, and the only way out was to obey every one of them.

This exhibit is all new: Lockers hold the prison uniform jackets, caps and shirts, sheets and pillowcases issued to the inmates. Some of the material had been locked away in storage for years and is on public display for the first time.

The audio tour uses prison voices to tell of a revolt, put down by U.S. Marines in 1946. Visitors can stand in front of cells in D Block and hear how inmates shot guards in cold blood.

They are directed to another part of the cell block where scars made by Marine hand grenades are still visible.

At one point, an inmate describes hearing the sound of New Year's Eve parties at the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco's Marina neighborhood drifting across the bay.

At another, visitors are asked to imagine how it felt to come out of the big, concrete cellblock and see San Francisco, glimmering in the sunlight.

"It's only a mile,'' the voice says, "only a mile and a quarter. There is everything you ever wanted over there.''

"These are not talking heads,'' said Katy Olds, assistant director for visitor programs for the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, which paid for the new audio tour.

"We used actual voices,'' she said. "You know, time has gone by since Alcatraz was shut down, and they are passing into history.''

The audio tour and the new exhibits are endorsed by a member of Alcatraz's original cast. He is Darwin Coon, who served four years, and was on the last boat out when the prison was closed in 1963.

Coon, a reformed bank robber and prison troublemaker, said the revised exhibits and audio tour are "really great.''

He is one of several ex-inmates or others with island connections who sell books on the island. His is called "Alcatraz: The True End of the Line.''

Back in the 1930s, when Alcatraz really was the end of the prison line, Freddie Reichel, who was Warden James Johnson's secretary, talked the warden into allowing inmates to grow flowers in rocky soil near a gun tower on the east side of the island. "I kept no records of failures, for I had many,'' he wrote.

The inmates grew cut flowers, which were given to the guards' wives; the wife of the warden always got the pick of the crop for her table.

"It was very surprising to see gardens,'' said Perez. "It would trigger a measure of freedom by a garden assignment. They could escape, in a way, through the flowers.''

The garden went to seed and weeds after the prison closed, but came back this year. The flower project is managed by Carola Ashford of the nonprofit Garden Conservancy and tended by volunteers. Just now, roses, iris, calla lilies, fuchsia and a white flower Ashford called "candytuft'' are in bloom, a strange contrast to the cell block behind and the ruins of the old prison officer's social hall.

The overhaul cost $3.5 million, privately raised by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that assists the Park Service.

The overall effect of a tour of Alcatraz was "unbelievable ... one of the best in national parks I've seen,'' said Bill Dawson, who was visiting from South Bend, Ind. "After years of hearing about Alcatraz, here it was."

Dawson's wife, Joan, was born and raised in the Bay Area and had never visited Alcatraz. "I had to move to South Bend to see it,'' she said.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Latest news on US Atty Carol Lam...

From :

Fired US Attorney Lam Receives Outstanding Attorney of the Year Award

Carol Lam has been named Outstanding Attorney of the Year by the San Diego County Bar Association, the organization announced Wednesday afternoon. Lam is one of eight former US attorneys across the country whose dismissals ignited a political firestorm and calls for the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

:)) Wrap....

Wal-Mart hiring spies...

From Secrecy News:


Wal-Mart, the massive retail chain, has established its own"intelligence" unit to conduct threat assessments, and to perform intelligence collection and analysis. And it has been recruiting senior personnel from U.S. intelligence agencies to staff its operation.

"I've had a number of people contact me who have purely law enforcement / security investigative backgrounds," wrote oneWal-Mart recruiter in a January 2007 bulletin board posting."That is not what the company is looking for."

"The primary screening criteria for the positions is [sic] formal training and experience in intelligence analysis. If an individual does not possess that minimal criteria, then he will not be considered."

See "Wal-Mart Recruits Intelligence Officers" by Marcus Kabel, Associated Press, April 24:

See also "Wal-Mart Defends Itself with New Intel Unit" by Jason Goodwin, Government Security News, February 2006:


Republican Gilmore in prez race....

From the Sacramento Bee :

Gilmore enters GOP presidential race

Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore on Thursday entered the race for the Republican presidential nomination with an Internet-driven announcement he said ...(more)


From Bush's 28% to "Satan's plan" says Utah Rep...

From American Progress:

Think Fast

28 percent: President Bush's approval rating in a new Harris survey, the lowest of his presidency.

"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday she has already answered the questions she has been subpoenaed to answer before a congressional committee" and suggested she is not inclined to comply with the order. "I am more than happy to answer them again in a letter," she told reporters.

"White House officials conducted 20 private briefings on Republican electoral prospects in the last midterm election for senior officials in at least 15 government agencies covered by federal restrictions on partisan political activity," the White House acknowledged yesterday.

"The Justice Department has asked a federal appeals court to impose tighter restrictions on the hundreds of lawyers who represent detainees at Guantánamo Bay," proposing "new limits on the lawyers' contact with their clients and access to evidence in their cases."

"The White House has turned over to a House committee about 200 pages of documents" related to a suspicious contract it had with a company owned by Brent Wilkes, who pleaded guilty to bribing former Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-CA).

"In a somber and wide-ranging assessment," Britain's top counterterrorism officer Peter Clarke said that Al Qaeda and its supporters have established "an inexorable trend towards more ambitious and more destructive attack planning." "The only sensible assumption is that we shall be attacked again."

"Escalating his campaign to remain president of the World Bank, Paul D. Wolfowitz accused the bank's board on Wednesday of treating him 'shabbily and unfairly,' and appealed for more time to defend himself against allegations of favoritism and other matters."

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) said yesterday "that the Bush administration and Republicans are not doing enough politically in Iraq." Brownback said after meeting with Vice President Cheney and others last week, "They have a strategy, and it's dominated by military and Maliki."

And finally: A state lawmaker in Utah "has submitted a resolution equating illegal immigration to 'Satan's plan to destroy the U.S. by stealth invasion' for debate." The resolution refers to a plan by the devil for a "New World predicted in the Scriptures." State Senate Majority Leader Curt Bramble (R) said, "I don't think you'll find much support for that sentiment."


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Short list of books coming out....

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


The Last Boleyn and the Elizabeth I mysteries author Karen Harper's WILL'S OTHER WIFE, the story of a Anne Whateley of Stratford, who married Shakespeare in secret less than a week before his shotgun wedding to Anne Hathaway, and who lived with him in London when his career was at its height, to Rachel Kahan at Putnam and Ellen Edwards at NAL, in a pre-empt, by Meg Ruley at Jane Rotrosen Agency (NA).

Beneath a Marble Sky author John Shors's THE POET MAKERS, set in the South Pacific during WWII after a torpedo sinks a U.S. hospital ship and nine survivors manage to swim to a nearby island threatened by the traitor among them, by hurricanes and by the imminent arrival of the Japanese navy, again to Kara Cesare at NAL, in a two-book deal, by Laura Dail at Laura Dail Literary Agency (World English).


Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry's SCIENCE FAIR, a humorous thriller that makes fun of science fairs, obsessive parents, obnoxious kids, countries with no vowels, and middle school in general, to Wendy Lefkon at Disney Children's, by Amy Berkower at Writers House (NA).


Costa (aka Whitbread) biography award winner Brian Thompson's mysteries series set in fin de siecle London, about a writer whose craft gets her involved in real-life mysteries, to Angus McKinnon at Atlantic Books, in a two-book deal, by David Miller at Rogers, Coleridge & White.


Globe and Mail journalist Doug Saunders' look at the demographic shift in the world's cities and its ramifications, focused on the Great Migration in which a third of the globe's population is on the move, as the last of the rural societies abandon agriculture and move to urban areas, to Michael Schellenberg at Knopf Canada, for publication in 2010, by John Pearce at Westwood Creative Artists (world).

Knopf has sold rights in an "international partnership" including Andrew Miller, Sonny Mehta and Dan Frank at Knopf/Pantheon, Jason Arthur at William Heinemann in the UK, Tilo Eckardt at Karl Blessing in Germany, and Miguel Aguilar at Debate/Mondadori in Spain, with more deals on the way at the fair.

Paul Alexander's untitled book on Karl Rove, about the decline and inevitable fall of the influential senior advisor to the President, based on new research and interviews with insiders who have previously remained silent, to Leigh Haber at Modern Times/Rodale, by Lisa Bankoff at ICM (NA).


BushCo OSHA for industry...not for workers...

From Tom :

OSHA Leaves Worker Safety in Hands of Industry

Published: April 25, 2007

WASHINGTON, April 24 — Seven years ago, a Missouri doctor discovered a troubling pattern at a microwave popcorn plant in the town of Jasper. After an additive was modified to produce a more buttery taste, nine workers came down with a rare, life-threatening disease that was ravaging their lungs.

J. D. Pooley for The New York Times

Keith Campbell, 49, became ill after having worked for two years at a microwave popcorn factory in Marion, Ohio.
Puzzled Missouri health authorities turned to two federal agencies in Washington. Scientists at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which investigates the causes of workplace health problems, moved quickly to examine patients, inspect factories and run tests. Within months, they concluded that the workers became ill after exposure to diacetyl, a food-flavoring agent.

But the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, charged with overseeing workplace safety, reacted with far less urgency. It did not step up plant inspections or mandate safety standards for businesses, even as more workers became ill.

On Tuesday, the top official at the agency told lawmakers at a Congressional hearing that it would prepare a safety bulletin and plan to inspect a few dozen of the thousands of food plants that use the additive.

That response reflects OSHA’s practices under the Bush administration, which vowed to limit new rules and roll back what it considered cumbersome regulations that imposed unnecessary costs on businesses and consumers. Across Washington, political appointees — often former officials of the industries they now oversee — have eased regulations or weakened enforcement of rules on issues like driving hours for truckers, logging in forests and corporate mergers.

Since George W. Bush became president, OSHA has issued the fewest significant standards in its history, public health experts say. It has imposed only one major safety rule. The only significant health standard it issued was ordered by a federal court.

The agency has killed dozens of existing and proposed regulations and delayed adopting others. For example, OSHA has repeatedly identified silica dust, which can cause lung cancer, and construction site noise as health hazards that warrant new safeguards for nearly three million workers, but it has yet to require them.

“The people at OSHA have no interest in running a regulatory agency,” said Dr. David Michaels, an occupational health expert at George Washington University who has written extensively about workplace safety. “If they ever knew how to issue regulations, they’ve forgotten. The concern about protecting workers has gone out the window.”

Agency officials defend their performance, saying that workplace deaths and injuries have declined during their tenure. They have been considering new standards and revising outdated ones that were unduly burdensome on businesses, they said, adding that they have moved cautiously on new rules because those require extensive scientific and economic analysis.

“By the time the Bush administration is done — we have a good record already — we will have a better record,” said Edwin G. Foulke Jr., the agency’s head, in a recent interview.

On diacetyl, Mr. Foulke said “the science is murky” on whether the additive causes bronchiolitis obliterans, the disease that has been called “popcorn worker’s lung.” That claim is echoed by some industry officials, but a number of leading scientists and doctors agree with scientists at the national occupational safety institute that there is strong evidence linking the additive to the illness.

Without an OSHA standard, which would establish the permissible level of exposure for workers, companies can set any limit of exposure they want.

Instead of regulations, Mr. Foulke and top officials at other agencies favor a “voluntary compliance strategy,” reaching agreements with industry associations and companies to police themselves.

Administration officials say such programs are less costly, allowing companies to hire more workers and keep consumer prices down. The number of voluntary agreements has grown in recent years, but they cover a fraction of the seven million work sites that OSHA oversees, or less than 1 percent of the work force. Sixty-one food plants out of the tens of thousands across the country participate; industry representatives say other businesses are taking steps to protect workers on their own.

Critics say the voluntary programs tend to have little focus on specific hazards and no enforcement power. Because only companies with strong safety records are eligible, they argue, the programs do not force less-conscientious businesses to improve their workplaces. A 2004 study by the Government Accountability Office found some promising results from such programs, but recommended against expanding them until their effectiveness could be assessed.

“OSHA has been focusing on the best companies in their voluntary protection program while doing nothing in the area of standard setting,” said Peg Seminario, the director of occupational safety and health at the A.F.L.-C.I.O. “They’ve simply gotten out of the standard-setting business in favor of industry partnerships that have no teeth.”

[click link to continue reading:


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

New book on Presidential secrecy...

From Secrecy News:


Presidential secrecy is best understood not as an expression of
executive strength but as a sign of weakness and insecurity,
according to a provocative new book on the subject.

"When the president lacks diplomatic or interpersonal skill, he
is likely to compensate by shielding his activities -- even
shielding his very self -- from the public, relying on secrecy
rather than diplomacy," write political scientists Robert M.
Pallitto and William G. Weaver in "Presidential Secrecy and the

The authors explore how the growth of executive branch secrecy
has transformed the institution of the presidency and the
character of American government.

Secrecy, they say, "has depoliticized the president's role in
governmental action. Where a president may do what is desired
in secret, there is no reason to withstand the ordeal of a
political battle to achieve the same ends."

"Increasingly, our governmental institutions are unable to hold
the president accountable for actions undertaken in secret in
the name of national security. In a subtle but sweeping way,
this failure is working detrimental changes in our federal
government institutions."

The authors review the landscape of national security secrecy
and the accumulation of unchecked executive authority and they
proceed to critique the performance of the legislative and
judicial branches.

Legislative initiatives such as the War Powers Act and the
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that were intended to
restrain the executive branch have consistently backfired, they
contend, serving instead to legitimize the presidential actions
that they were intended to restrict.

"As counterintuitive as it may seem, we conclude that
congressional efforts to control executive abuse in areas of
purported national security concerns are ill-advised. These
efforts insulate the president and establish a bureaucratic
machinery and process for engaging in precisely the kinds of
activity that were meant to be avoided."

"We argue that aggressive action to control executive branch
abuse of secrecy should not come from Congress but from the
courts, which are in a position to provide the scrutiny
necessary to discourage presidential abuse of secrecy powers."

For more information, see "Presidential Secrecy and the Law" by
Robert M. Pallitto and William G. Weaver, Johns Hopkins
University Press, 2007:


Blogger!!! Where the hell....

...have my hotlinks gone? And how do I get the URLs hotlinked again?

Does anyone out there have any idea? Having troubles with old blogger and new blogger, and it's frustrating me something fierce!


Wolfowitz. UGH!!!

From the NY Times:

Frustrations With Wolfowitz Boil Over at Meeting
Published: April 25, 2007

WASHINGTON, April 24 — At a meeting between Paul D. Wolfowitz and his top managers at the World Bank last week, Mr. Wolfowitz made an unusual confession. “I understand that I’ve lost a lot of trust, and I want to build that trust back up,” he said, according to people present.

But the beleaguered bank president was immediately confronted by one of his top deputies, who asserted that Mr. Wolfowitz was wrong to think that the furor over his leadership sprang only from his handling of the pay and promotion for his companion or from unease over his support of the Iraq war while at the Pentagon.

Graeme Wheeler, the bank’s managing director, said at the meeting that the fight over whether Mr. Wolfowitz should stay on at the bank amounted to the “the biggest crisis in its history.”

He said it arose from a range of issues, including fears that Mr. Wolfowitz and his aides were trying to impose Bush administration ideas on family planning and climate change at the bank and worries over a possible conflict of interest in the bank’s hiring of a Washington law firm, Williams & Connolly, to investigate leaks. A partner at the firm had earlier negotiated Mr. Wolfowitz’s employment contract with the bank.

Mr. Wheeler also said Mr. Wolfowitz’s staying on would cause “fantastic damage” to the bank’s reputation and effectiveness.

The exchange, described in detail by people who attended the closed meeting, illustrated how far the turmoil surrounding Mr. Wolfowitz has spread since it erupted in public a few weeks ago. It also revealed his determination to remain on the job and the deep wellspring of antipathy toward him among the bank’s board and senior staff.

With the hiring of Robert S. Bennett, a prominent lawyer, to defend his record before the board, Mr. Wolfowitz has effectively revealed that his hope is to play for time, overhaul his management team and plead that a hasty exit would be disruptive to the bank, especially since he was not planning to stay for more than three more years anyway.

According to the people at the meeting last week, the vice presidents were startled when Mr. Wolfowitz said he might not even be at the bank for another year, though this was not said to be a sign that he would resign, only that a fight over whether he should stay was not worth the trouble.

Mr. Wolfowitz has promised to mend his ways and has warned that a forced ouster would damage the bank. But it has become clear that there is a larger sense of unease, especially among Europeans, about American influence over the bank and its strategies toward ending poverty. There is also tension between the United States and Europe over who is to blame for the shortfall in commitments to raise $30 billion to reach that goal.

[click above link to continue reading]


BushCo intends to become Hitler....

From Information Clearing House:

Fascist America, In 10 Easy Steps

By Naomi Wolf

From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. And, George Bush and his administration seem to be taking them all.


Office of Spec Counsel contaminated by BushCo...

From :

Rove Investigator Himself Under Investigation
By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t | Report

Tuesday 24 April 2007

A federal investigation into the political activities of Karl Rove, announced late Monday, is being headed by a Bush appointee who is currently the target of an internal White House probe - calling into question the integrity of the administration's efforts to conduct an independent review of Rove's work as White House political adviser.

The news underscores how deeply the Bush administration is mired in scandal.

Scott J. Bloch, who heads the Office of Special Counsel, told the Los Angeles Times Monday that his office will launch a wide-ranging investigation into Rove's involvement in the firings of eight US attorneys, his behind-the-scenes work to influence elections, and his use of a Republican National Committee email account to conduct official White House business, in what appears to be a violation of the Presidential Records Act.

However, the Los Angeles Times failed to inform its readers that Bloch had been accused of retaliating against employees who disagreed with his policies, and intimidating them before they were questioned about a whistle-blower investigation inside the Office of the Special Counsel. The whistle-blower probe was launched by the White House's Office of Personnel Management inspector general nearly two years ago, according to a February 16, 2007 story in the Washington Post.

Bloch vehemently denied the allegations at the time. On Tuesday, a spokesman in his office reiterated Bloch's position and insisted that the special counsel would still be able to conduct an independent review of Rove's work for the past six years, regardless of the accusations against him.

Some Democratic Congressional leaders, such as Rep. Henry Waxman, chair of the Government Oversight Committee, who is also looking into Rove's use of RNC email accounts, as well as his role in the firing of the US attorneys, would not immediately comment on the announcement that Bloch's office is spearheading the probe into Rove's work. However, there are concerns among Democratic officials on Capitol Hill that the investigation as headed by Bloch would amount to a whitewash.

Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said Bloch's own questionable behavior as special counsel makes him the "wrong choice" to investigate Rove.

"Having transformed [the Office of the Special Counsel] into a virtual black hole for legitimate complaints of retaliation, Bloch is decidedly not the right person to tackle the issues of misconduct and illegality that surround top White House officials," Sloan said, "There is a serious question as to whether Bloch will just provide cover for an administration that has been covering for him."

In fact, some of the issues Bloch would be in charge of looking into related to Rove's activities in the US attorneys scandal, such as claims that some federal prosecutors were not in sync with White House policies on a variety of issues, mirror Bloch's alleged behavior involving his own employees.

"The Office of Personnel Management's inspector general has been investigating allegations by current and former OSC employees that Special Counsel Scott J. Bloch retaliated against underlings who disagreed with his policies - by, among other means, transferring them out of state - and tossed out legitimate whistle-blower cases to reduce the office backlog," the Washington Post reported. "The probe is the most serious of many problems at the agency since Bloch, a Kansas lawyer who served at the Justice Department's Task Force for Faith-based and Community Initiatives, was appointed by President Bush three years ago. Since he took the helm in 2004, staffers at the OSC, a small agency of about 100 lawyers and investigators, have accused him of a range of offenses, from having an anti-gay bias to criticizing employees for wearing short skirts and tight pants to work."

A January 13, 2005 story in The New Standard said employees in the Office of the Special Counsel retained a private attorney to protest Bloch's orders that at least 12 staffers in the department move to another city or lose their jobs so Bloch could hire individuals who agree with his policies. In a strange twist, these employees accused Bloch of selectively "purging" employees from his department, a word now associated with the US attorney firings, and an area that Bloch says he will investigate to determine if wrongdoing took place.

The New Standard report said a representative for some of the employees in the Office of the Special Counsel had reason to believe that their reassignments "amount to an attempted "purge."

"They further suggest that Special Counsel Scott Bloch is gradually doing away with his critics while making way for pliant, fresh-faced replacements, fitting a pattern of "cronyism" they allege he has engaged in throughout most of his thirteen-month tenure as head of OSC," the New Standard reported in a January 13, 2005 story.

In February, "the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, the Project on Government Oversight, the Government Accountability Project and Human Rights Campaign and a lawyer for the OSC employees protested in a letter to legislators and to Clay Johnson III, the Office of Management and Budget deputy who ordered the OSC probe," the Post reported

"The OSC's memo, the group said, "was only the latest in a series of actions by Bloch to obstruct the investigation. "Other actions have included suggestions that all witnesses interviewed ... provide Bloch with affidavits describing what they had been asked and how they responded," according to the Post.

Whether Bloch can truly be effective in the investigation into Rove's political work will likely be an issue of further debate.

Bloch believes he can be. He told the Los Angeles Times Monday that his office "will not leave any stone unturned."

"We will take the evidence where it leads us," Bloch told the Times.

Jason Leopold is a former Los Angeles bureau chief for Dow Jones Newswire. He has written over 2,000 stories on the California energy crisis and received the Dow Jones Journalist of the Year Award in 2001 for his coverage on the issue as well as a Project Censored award in 2004. Leopold also reported extensively on Enron's downfall and was the first journalist to land an interview with former Enron president Jeffrey Skilling following Enron's bankruptcy filing in December 2001. Leopold has appeared on CNBC and National Public Radio as an expert on energy policy and has also been the keynote speaker at more than two dozen energy industry conferences around the country.


From Rove investigation to opt out of voting....

From American Progress:

Think Fast

An "obscure federal investigative unit known as the Office of Special Counsel" is launching a broad investigation into key elements of the White House political operation that "for more than six years have been headed by chief strategist Karl Rove." The administration-led inquiry will be a unified investigation covering many facets of Rove's operations. "We will take the evidence where it leads us," said Scott J. Bloch, a Bush appointee who heads the Office of Special Counsel. "We will not leave any stone unturned."

U.S. Central Command has retired the phrase "the long war" to describe the struggle against global extremists, after cultural advisers became concerned that the concept "alienated Middle East audiences by suggesting that the United States would keep a large number of forces in the region indefinitely."

"World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz met yesterday with senior managers to promise unspecified changes in his leadership and to appeal for their help." "He is not going to resign," his lawyer said. "His mood is just fine. ... He feels people are trying to interfere with his job to get at world poverty."

Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D-NY) "will soon introduce a bill to legalize same-sex marriage -- what he calls 'a simple moral imperative,'" becoming "the first governor in the nation to introduce a gay marriage bill."

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will conduct a hearing today into misleading information from the battlefield. The hearing will focus on the death of Army Ranger Specialist Patrick Tillman in Afghanistan and the capture and rescue of Army Private Jessica Lynch in Iraq, and question why inaccurate accounts of these two incidents were disseminated.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Rep. David Hobson (R-OH), who recently went on a congressional trip to Syria, confirmed that he never received any of the attacks House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) did. He noted that "none of his Republican colleagues broached the subject." "Nobody ever called me to say, 'Why are you going to Syria with those people?'"

"Despite President Bush's vow that all Americans would have access to high-speed Internet service by 2007," a new study suggests the United States is continuing to fall behind other developed countries in broadband subscriptions."

"The map of Greenland will have to be redrawn. A new island has appeared off its coast, suddenly separated from the mainland by the melting of Greenland's enormous ice sheet, a development that is being seen as the most alarming sign of global warming."

And finally: Voters in Florida may now be going to the not vote. State Sen. Mike Bennett (R) has introduced a bill to "require ballots to have the additional option of 'I choose not to vote.'" Bennett notes that some races are so nasty that voters don't want to choose any candidate, and his bill would "enable uninformed or disgusted voters to opt out."


White House security...zilch...

From :

Security Breakdown at the White House?

Current and former employees of the White House Security Office have reported to Chairman Waxman that there was a systemic failure at the White House to follow procedures for protecting classified information. According to the security officers, the White House regularly ignored security breaches, prevented security inspections of the West Wing and condoned mismanagement of the White House Security Office.


This Spec Counsel NOT under BushCo control...

From LA Times via :

Special Counsel to Probe Karl Rove's Political Activities

Most of the time, an obscure federal investigative unit known as the Office of Special Counsel confines itself to monitoring the activities of relatively low-level government employees, stepping in with reprimands and other routine administrative actions for such offenses as discriminating against military personnel or engaging in prohibited political activities.

But the Office of Special Counsel is preparing to jump into one of the most sensitive and potentially explosive issues in Washington, launching a broad investigation into White House political operations headed by chief strategist Karl Rove.

[click above link to continue reading]


Monday, April 23, 2007

From Baghdad wall to speedy texting...

From American Progress:

Think Fast

"The Great Wall of Adhamiya" is only one of at least ten Baghdad neighborhoods that are slated to become -- or already are -- "gated communities." "They've been doing it in Florida, and the old people seem to like it," joked the platoon's leader, Sgt. 1st Class Charles Schmitt.

Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, said that the American military would "respect the wishes" of the Iraqi government regarding a barrier being built around Adhamiya, but he stopped short of saying construction would stop. Sunni Arab and Shiite groups sharply criticized the idea, saying the wall would increase sectarian hatred and fuel efforts to partition the country.

The London Times reported that the White House is drawing up a list of candidates to succeed Paul Wolfowitz as head of the World Bank. "Most prominent on the list is Ashraf Ghani, the man credited with overhauling the economy of Afghanistan after September 11."

Classes at Virginia Tech are set to resume today. "Students and faculty were expected to gather at 7:15 a.m. Monday near the dormitory where the first victims. ... At 9:45 -- the time of the second shooting -- the university planned a moment of silence, with a single bell tolling from the tower of the main administration building. A minute later, the bell will toll 32 times -- once for each victim -- as 32 white balloons are released from the field below."

"A dramatic pay gap emerges between women and men in America the year after they graduate from college and widens over the ensuing decade," according to a new study. "One year out of college, women working full time earn 80 percent of what men earn." Ten years later, that number drops to 69 percent.

David Iglesias, the fired New Mexico U.S. attorney, said investigating the White House's role is the logical next step. "If I were Congress, I would say, 'If the attorney general doesn't have answers, then who would?' There's enough evidence to indicate that Karl Rove was involved up to his eyeballs."

In contrast to her previous resistance to talks, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is urging Iran to join her at a high-level conference on the future of Iraq next week, "signaling that Washington is now ready for a serious exchange of views with Tehran after several months of resisting Iran's advances in the region."

"FEMA exposed taxpayers to significant waste -- and possibly violated federal law -- by awarding $3.6 billion worth of Hurricane Katrina contracts to companies with poor credit histories and bad paperwork," according to a new report by the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General.

And finally: DOUTH U R GOOD AT TXTING? Over the weekend, 250 people competed to be U.S. Texting Champion, with txt tests ranging from "what we do in life echoes in eternity" to "OMG, nd 2 talk asap." Eventually, 13-year-old Morgan Pozgar won the competition, after she typed "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" in 15 seconds. "It's all about the thumbwork," she said. "It's about balance."


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Lit Agent Dijkstra reps one tough book on military docs & torture...

From San Diego Union-Tribune :

Military medicine, torture examined
By Peter Rowe
April 21, 2007

What was Dr. Steven H. Miles thinking?
Not about blockbuster sales, that's clear. Best sellers require race-against-the-clock “24”-style thrills, Olympian sex or, at least, a 10-day plan for washboard abs.

Dr. Steven H. Miles, a physician and bioethicist, is appalled that so many doctors, nurses and medics condoned torture in the war on terror.While writing his latest book, the University of Minnesota Medical School professor focused elsewhere. He mined a mountain range of government documents. He unearthed accounts of deaths and maimings. He issued a grisly indictment of his own profession. Then he wrapped the whole package in the feel-bad title of the year, “Oath Betrayed: Torture, Medical Complicity and the War on Terror.”

“This has been a tough sell,” said his agent, Sandra Dijkstra.

What was Miles thinking?
“When I saw the photographs from Abu Ghraib,” he said, “I wondered where the doctors and nurses were.”

The answer: They were present or nearby. In U.S. prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, medical personnel helped determine the nature and severity of torture. They ignored abuse. And they covered up the most heinous cases.

That, in a blood-stained nutshell, is what Miles found. What is he thinking?

“Where these things occurred, they occurred in the context of a general command breakdown,” he said. “Nobody was stopping abuses, period.”

The shame, then, doesn't belong to the medical profession alone. In the military, though, they are the only parties who have taken an oath to protect and heal patients, even if these patients are prisoners of war or “enemy combatants.”

Off the battlefield

Military medical ethics is rich territory for civilian second-guessers, or so many in uniform believe. (Miles, it should be noted, is not a veteran.) “The certainty of opinion,” said Col. Basil Pruitt, a physician, in a 1992 lecture on this topic, “is directly proportional to the square of the distance from the site of combat.”

But Miles notes that his book is about noncombat actions of the military medical profession. “This is not about battlefield ethics. This is about the treatment of unarmed prisoners.”

Neither, he insists, is this a matter of a squeamish civilian suddenly coming face to face with the harsh realities of war. “In World War II, we really set the standard for the treatment of prisoners.” Miles notes that President Bush's former secretary of state, Colin Powell, called the use of torture by U.S. forces an “innovation.”

This innovation, Miles said, can be used against us: “This prevents us from appealing to the world for the same norms of civilized behavior for our soldiers.”

The Bush administration, though, has maintained that terrorists – even those captured by the military, during military operations, in the midst of a war – are not soldiers, and are thus exempt from the Geneva Convention. But that's not the only convention barring medical professionals from taking part in torture. Similar declarations have been adopted by the United Nations, the World Medical Association, the International Council of Nurses, the World Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians and others.

This White House has waved all that aside. “We have said to the world that a chief executive can invoke national emergency or national sovereignty and can step outside” international agreements, Miles said.
Again, such a precedent could be used against the United States, a nation that often holds itself up as a model to the world.
“This is not a matter of war-making,” Miles insisted. “It is a matter of international law.”

[click this link to continue:


Gonzales: How to shut down the press....

From: :

[an excerpt]

April 21, 10:30 AM
The Plot Against the First Amendment

In June, a case is slated to go to trial in Northern Virginia that will mark a first step in a plan to silence press coverage of essential national security issues. The plan was hatched by Alberto Gonzales and his deputy, Paul J. McNulty—the two figures at the center of a growing scandal over the politicization of the prosecutorial process. This may in fact be the most audacious act of political prosecution yet.

But so far, it has gained little attention and is poorly understood.

In the summer of 2005, Alberto Gonzales paid a visit to British Attorney General Peter Goldsmith. A British civil servant who attended told me “it was quite amazing really. Gonzales was obsessed with the Official Secrets Act. In particular, he wanted to know exactly how it was used to block newspapers and broadcasters from running news stories derived from official secrets and how it could be used to criminalise persons who had no formal duty to maintain secrets. He saw it as a panacea for his problems: silence the press. Then you can torture and abuse prisoners and what you will—without fear of political repercussions. It was the easy route to dealing with the Guantánamo dilemma. Don't close down Guantánamo. Close down the press. We were appalled by it.” Appalled, he added, “but not surprised.”

Britain has of course never had a media with the freedom of the American press. John Milton railed against the abusive requirements of licensing without making headway. Britain had the tradition of Royal Prerogative, a tradition of branding political rabble rousers with the mark “SL” for “seditious libeler.” Of course, many of those seditious libelers emigrated to America, which helps explain why this was an issue contributing to a revolution that broke out in 1776. The erstwhile colonists heard Milton's appeal and followed it, producing a decisive parting of the ways in the English-speaking world. But that's all very inconvenient history, which is certain soon to be expunged from the history books. After all, those who control the present, control the past. And Gonzales had come down with a very bad case of Official Secrets envy.

By May 2006, Gonzales was on ABC's “This Week” program, convinced he had found the link. Could the United States gag the media to prevent its publication of classified information?

“It depends on the circumstances.” Gonzales explained, “There are some statutes on the book which, if you read the language carefully, would seem to indicate that that is a possibility. That's a policy judgment by the Congress in passing that kind of legislation. We have an obligation to enforce those laws.”

This, to be sure, is the same Alberto Gonzales who appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee and insisted in the face of an incredulous Senator Arlen Specter that the Constitution incorporated no guarantee of habeas corpus.

He is an attorney general possessed of a copy of the Constitution which is strangely different from that ratified by the states in 1789 and amended to include the Bill of Rights in 1791.

And he is the attorney general who felt that the limitations of FISA with respect to surveillance without warrants didn't matter, though he couldn't coherently articulate a reason why. (That, after all, is why you have John Yoo.)

When he says “we have an obligation to enforce those laws,” he means of course to enforce the laws the way he and the president secretly understand them.

[click top link to continue reading]


Ah, hell....Blue Angel crashed.

Breaking news:

The pilot of a U.S. Navy Blue Angels F/A-18 jet that crashed at an air show in South Carolina is dead, the Beaufort County coroner says.Watch the latest video now on

Access at CNN - The most trusted name in news.


Sci-Fi writer, David Brin, is dead right....

From :

[an excerpt]

I bristle when I see the military portrayed as a beneficiary of this administration's treacherous madness.

In fact the US military is the number one victim. Name any other group of Americans who have suffered anywhere near as much, from horrific strategic and tactical blunders, mismanagement, perniciously insane MICRO-management by draft-dodging amateurs, betrayal of professionalism, and the gradual undermining of a powerful, honorable moral code.

Until the democrats wake up to their BEST AND MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE -- the destruction of US military readiness and the Bushite betrayal of our uniformed professionals, endangering the entire nation -- we will remain at the mercy of culture war.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Posada: Contract agt for Bush 41's CIA....

From Wayne Madsen :

April 20-22, 2007

As a follow-up to our story yesterday about Cuba-American relations, jailed Cuban terrorist Luis Posada Carriles was released from a prison in New Mexico yesterday and flown on a private jet accompanied by federal agents to a welcoming crowd of Cuban-Americans in Miami. Posada was ordered released by El Paso-based US federal judge Kathleen Cardone after payment of a #350,000 bail bond. Posada is wanted by Cuba and Venezuela for the 1976 bombing of a Cubana Flight 455 off Barbados that killed 73 men, women, and children from a number of countries, including Cuba, Guyana, and North Korea. Among the dead were the entire Cuban national fencing team.

Members of the Cuban community in Miami, according to the Spanish newspaper Informacion, welcomed Posada as a "hero" and "patriot." The Justice Department failed to argue that Posada should have remained in jail because he was a wanted terrorist but merely wanted him detained because he entered the United States illegally. The US Fifth District Court of Appeals in New Orleans rejected the Justice Department request and ordered Posada released pending trial for the immigration violation. Posada was a contract agent for the CIA when he helped carry out the terrorist bombing of Cubana 455. The Director of the CIA at the time was George H. W. Bush.


Pentagon to Military Officers: Shut Up!

From Information Clearing House:

Pentagon prevents military officers from testifying before House panel :

Pentagon lawyers abruptly blocked mid-level active-duty military officers from speaking Thursday during a closed-door House Armed Services Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee briefing about their personal experiences working with Iraqi security forces.


From Gonzales to watermelons..both veggie & fruit?

From American Progress:

Think Fast

"In more than five hours of often-combative testimony" yesterday, Alberto Gonzales, "grim-faced, clasping his hands and hunched over, struggled to offer a coherent explanation for the dismissals" of eight U.S. Attorneys. He "appeared frustrated, weary and at times combative," and "angered" committee members "as he invoked a faulty memory more than 50 times."

The U.S. military is constructing a 3-mile-long concrete wall in Baghdad "to cut off one of the capital's most restive Sunni Arab districts from the Shiite Muslim neighborhoods that surround it, raising concern about the further Balkanization of Iraq's most populous and violent city."
"A suicide bomber breached Baghdad's heavy security presence again Thursday, killing a dozen people in a mostly Shiite district a day after more than 230 people died in one of the Iraq war's deadliest episodes of violence."

A new national poll shows "a third of Americans say global warming ranks as the world's single largest environmental problem, double the number who gave it top ranking last year." Seven in 10 Americans want federal action on global warming, and about half of those surveyed think the government should do "much more" than it is doing now.

"A bill giving Washington, D.C. its first full seat in Congress cleared the House yesterday, marking the city's biggest legislative victory in its quest for voting rights in nearly three decades." But the bill doesn't appear to have enough votes to break a Senate filibuster, and President Bush has vowed a veto.

"The number of returning Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans visiting Department of Veterans Affairs walk-in clinics has more than doubled since 2004, while the clinics' staff has increased by less than 10%, agency records show."

"In an early morning statement Friday, the World Bank's board said that Thursday's meeting to discuss issues raised by President Paul Wolfowitz's handling of the terms of his girlfriend's employment...ended without a final resolution. The board asked an ad hoc committee for 'early recommendations' on what action, if any, to take."

Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), a strong proponent of gun-rights who once served on the National Rifle Association's board of directors, is leading talks with the NRA in hopes of resurrecting a bill to "bolster the national background-check system and potentially block gun purchases by the mentally ill."

And finally: "Oklahoma already has the strawberry as its official fruit, so the state Senate cleared the way Tuesday to declare the watermelon the state vegetable." The Senate debated over whether the watermelon is a fruit or vegetable. "I guess it can be both," State Sen. Don Barrington (R) conceded.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Blackwater USA...New camp in Portrero CA?

From San Diego Union-Tribune:

Blackwater in Potrero? No way
April 19, 2007

If there is any career pursuit that we, as Americans, have come to despise, it is that of the military mercenary. Our contempt for war's hirelings has historic underpinnings. British efforts to quell the American Revolution depended heavily on thousands of smartly trained, well-paid Hessians – German-speaking troops who inflicted some of the costliest casualties on George Washington's ragtag army.

Often glamorized as “soldiers of fortune,” mercenary forces will enlist in a cause not out of patriotism but after asking, “What's in it for me?”

Many Americans have felt troubled by the Bush administration's willingness to “outsource” much of the war in Iraq to private contractors. Feeding of the troops, plus certain maintenance and supply operations traditionally undertaken by the military itself, have been consigned to commercial management. Ex-Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld defended the practice as a way to foil what he called “the Pentagon bureaucracy.” When Rumsfeld resigned, the number of civilians employed in Afghanistan and Iraq had reached nearly 100,000 – roughly two-thirds the number of our uniformed troops engaged there.

More recently, the Pentagon has also entrusted a number of highly sensitive security tasks in Baghdad and elsewhere to private hands: to an 8-year-old company called Blackwater. For the first time ever, our U.S. military has relinquished high-risk operations to armed civilians who are answerable to a contract employer, not to the chain of command. Although relied upon to preserve order in specified trouble spots, or to man military prisons such as Abu Ghraib, Blackwater has thus far operated outside the military justice system, its hired hands not subject to courts-martial.

Involvement in quasi-military missions has emboldened this shadowy band to take the next step. Blackwater's original services were limited to training policemen or providing security guards for non-government clients. Now it announces itself ready to help keep or restore peace anywhere in the world.

That was the message its vice chairman, Cofer Black, delivered in February to a Special Operations Forces Exhibition in Amman, Jordan. “We are not simply a private security company,” Black asserted. “We are a professional military, law enforcement, security, peacekeeping and stability operations firm which provides turnkey solutions.”

[continue reading at this link: ]

PS: Remember Cofer Black?


Our weird little emperor...Bush...

From Information Clearing House:

Hail and Farewell: the End of the American Empire

By Gore Vidal

Obviously, our weird little emperor is incapable of moral reflection, thus inviting us to reflect morally upon him as he has gone about his systematic wrecking of our common empire.

[click link above to continue reading]


Edwards pays for haircuts...

From AP via Breitbart:

Edwards Reimbuses Campaign for Haircuts

Apr 19 11:33 AM US/Eastern
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Democrat John Edwards is trying to get out of a hairy situation, reimbursing his presidential campaign $800 for two visits with a Beverly Hills stylist.
Two $400 cuts by stylist Joseph Torrenueva, who told The Associated Press that the former North Carolina senator is a longtime client, showed up on Edwards' campaign spending reports filed this weekend. Edwards spokesman Eric Schultz said it never should have been there.

"The bill was sent to the campaign. It was inadvertently paid," Schultz said. "John Edwards will be reimbursing the campaign."

Edwards is also the subject of a popular YouTube spoof poking fun at his youthful good looks. The video shows the candidate combing his tresses to the dubbed-in tune of "I Feel Pretty."

Federal Election Commission records show Edwards' campaign also spent $250 in services from Designworks Salon in Dubuque, Iowa, and $225 in services from the Pink Sapphire in Manchester, N.H.

Schultz said those services were legitimate campaign expenditures to prepare Edwards for media appearances.

Political candidates often have hair and makeup done before media appearances. Edwards rival Hillary Rodham Clinton got some attention last year when her campaign paid $2,500 for two hairstyling sessions that the campaign classified as media production expenses.


Gonzales: I know nuuutthhhhiiiinnnnggggg....

From Tom :

Tomgram: Swanson, Will We Ever See the Last of Gonzales?

Many of you may not have had the time to tune into the testimony of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales before the Senate Judiciary Committee. So, as a public service, before David Swanson pursues the subject in vivid depth below, here's just the nub of what you need to know about his morning appearance, as taken down by your trusty scribe. Think of it as a little 3-minute primer for a busy world on the state of (in) Justice (Department of…) in America:

Gonzales' introductory statement: "I shoulda been more precise… My misstatements were my mistakes, no one else's… I have been extremely forthcoming with information… not the actions of someone with something to hide…"

Responses to Committee Chairman Sen. Leahy (D-VT.): "I can only recall… I don't recall… I did not know… it appears… I was not responsible for… I have no recollection… Again, Senator, I was not responsible for compiling that… I don't recall a specific mention… It appears… as I recall… I don't recall Senator Dominici ever…That rationale was not in my mind, as I recall… Senator, that's an answer that I have to get back to you… Senator, I'd like to give you that information, but…"

Responses to Sen. Specter (R-PA.): "Senator, I don't want to quarrel with you… Based on what I thought, what I understood was going on… I believed that was ongoing… I don't recall… What I recall is… I don't recall whether Mr. Mercer presented me the numbers… Senator, I have no recollection about that, but I presume that that is true… Senator, I do recall having a conversation with Mr. Rove… Senator, you're talking about a series of events that occurred over possibly 700 days… putting it in context, Senator, I would say that my involvement was limited… Senator, of course, in hindsight…"

Reponses to Sen. Kennedy (D-MA.): "I think that's a fair question, Senator… I was not the person in the Department who had the most information… Since then, I have gone back and looked at the documents available to Congress… I'm not aware that anyone… I believe that I had a good process… Senator, I did not review the document… Senator, I think it's a good question… I don't recall in connection to this review process Mr. Sampson was involved in… I don't recall everyone who was there… Senator, there may have been other discussions…"

Responses to Sen. Brownback (R-KS.): "I do not recall what I knew about… I just don't recall the reason… It appears there were concerns about… Now, in hindsight… I'm not aware of any new facts here… She's the other person, quite candidly, Senator, that I don't recall… I myself was confused, quite frankly, when I testified… Generally, I recall…"

Responses to interjection by Chairman Leahy: "Sir, I don't recall sending a follow-up quite frankly. I don't know if it was a mistake or misstatement in my testimony… "

Click here to read more of this dispatch.


$$$$, Dogs, $$$$...Films and books....

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


Adena Halpern's THE TEN BEST DAYS OF MY LIFE, the heartwarming and humorous story of a young LA personal shopper who dies before her time-- run over by a Mini-Cooper -- who narrates her assignment to prove herself worthy of staying on the top level of heaven (which includes calorie-free ice cream, walk-in closets and a hunky guy next door) by making right some relationships left behind, to Allison Dickens atPlume, by Brian DeFiore at DeFiore and Company (NA). Frank Rich's son (and Paris Review editor)

Nathaniel Rich's THE MAYOR'S TONGUE, the dual stories of a rebellious son of a wealthy Italian immigrant and an older protagonist, who is trying to cope with his wife's impending death, to Sean McDonald at Riverhead, in a very nice deal, by Elyse Cheney at Elyse Cheney Agency (NA).


Successful podcasting horror author Scott Sigler's INFESTED, about an everyman's bloody battle against a mysterious parasite that hijacks his body and pushes his thoughts into a psychotic rage, the sequel CONTAGIOUS, in which those murder-inducing parasites are just the first wave of a more sinister plot, and a third, stand-alone book, to Julian Pavia at Crown, at auction, by Byrd Leavell at Waxman Literary Agency(world). Rights: for foreign rights.


NYT bestselling author and two-time Edgar winner T. Jefferson Parker's LA OUTLAWS, moving to Ben Sevier at Dutton, for publication in February 2008, in a two-book deal, by Robert Gottlieb at Trident Media Group (NA).

Elena Forbes' DIE WITH ME (the opening chapter of which was shortlisted for the 2005 Debut Dagger Award), the first in a series introducing Detective Mark Tartaglia and the rest of Homicide West Team Five as they investigate a rash of apparent suicides involving young girls plunging to their deaths from church naves around London, to David Adams at MacAdam/Cage, in a two-book deal, by David Forrer at Inkwell Management, on behalf of Sarah Lutyens at Luytens & Rubinstein (US).


TV producer Julie Kramer's STALKING SUSAN, about a TV reporter who follows a lead about a serial killer who targets women named "Susan" and kills them in a distinctive manner on the same date every year, to Stacy Creamer at Doubleday, in a two-book deal, by Elaine Koster at Elaine Koster Agency (NA).

Tom Rob Smith's debut thriller CHILD 44 and a second novel, to Mitch Hoffman at Grand Central, in a pre-empt, by Jim Rutman at Sterling Lord Literistic on behalf of James Gill at PFD. Translation: Jessica Craig,


David Collins' MONEY TALKS, pitched as taking on the ego-driven, power-obsessed world of New York real estate in the way The Devil Wears Prada approached the fashion business and Bonfire of the Vanities treated Wall Street, to Laurie Chittenden at William Morrow, by Richard Pine at Inkwell Management (NA).


Film rights to Dana Vachon's MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS, to Anonymous Content, reportedly for "high six figures," at auction, with Steve Golin (Babel, Being John Malkovich) producing along with Shawn Simon and Matt DeRoss, by Justin Manask at IPG, on behalf of David Kuhn at Kuhn Projects.


Journalist and former investment editor at the International Herald Tribune Martin Baker's MELTDOWN, with creative input (and contract negotiation) from his wife, City fund manager Nicola Horlick, a thriller set in Paris dealing with high finance, murder, jurisprudence, sex and politics and the biggest conspiracy theory imaginable, to Jeremy Trevathan at Pan Macmillan, in a pre-empt, for publication in January2008 (world)

Art Williams Jr.'s THE ART OF MAKING MONEY: My Adventures in a Counterfeit Life, with Jason Kersten, based on an article in Rolling Stone about the rise and fall of this counterfeiter, to Ken Barlow at Ebury, at auction, by James Gill at PFD, on behalf of Scott Waxman at Waxman Literary Agency. Translation: Italian and Dutch language rights to to Rizzoli and Luitingh, by Luigi Bernabo Associates and Ulf Toregard at Sane Toregard, respectively, on behalf of Farley Chase at the Waxman Literary Agency.

William Langewiesche's THE FERAL ZONE: TRAVELS THROUGH THE END OF THE NATION STATE, a look at different areas of the world where national boundaries will increasingly be rendered obsolete, to Michal Shavit at Allen Lane/Penguin Press, for publication in 2009, by Farrar, Straus (UK/Commonwealth).


Rule the Freakin' Markets author Michael Parness's RULE YOUR FREAKIN' RETIREMENT, a practical guide to cashing in early and making the most of your investments so that you can live the good life, to Phil Rezvin at St. Martin's, by Greg Dinkin of Venture Literary (World).

Workplace blogger and author of the forthcoming BRAZEN CAREERIST Penelope Trunk's book cheering the exodus from corporate life into entrepreneurship, drawing on interviews, academic research, and personal experience to formulate a new set of rules for entrepreneurship, to Rachel Klayman at Crown, in a pre-empt, by Susan Rabiner at Susan Rabiner Literary Agency (world). Rights:


WHEN THE MISSISSIPPI RAN BACKWARDS author Jay Feldman's MANUFACTURING HYSTERIA, a history of the federal government's efforts, in times of real or exaggerated threat, to curtail civil liberties and suppress dissent by stigmatizing minorities, from the scapegoating of German Americans and pacifists in World War I to the Alien Enemy Control program during World War II to the current scapegoating of Arab andMuslim Americans, to Andrew Miller and Dan Frank at Pantheon, by Steve Wasserman at Kneerim & Williams (NA).


Tom Bloch's STAND FOR THE BEST: My Journey from CEO of H&R Block to Successful Inner-City School Teacher, about giving up the security, status and pay of being a Fortune 100 CEO and never regretting it, and his experiences have much to say about how to educate children who are often left behind, to Kate Bradford at Jossey-Bass, by Jeff Herman at the Jeff Herman Agency (world).

Dog trainer, tv pet expert and host of syndicated radio show, Pet Talk Harrison Forbes's THE LEASH THAT BINDS, an inspirational memoir featuring the working dogs he has owned, trained, and known, to Daniela Rapp at St. Martin's, at auction, in a two-book deal, for publication in Spring 2008, by Jeff Kleinman at Folio Literary Management (world).


CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier's BOMBED!, including Dozier's battle back from critical injuries sustained in a Baghdad bombing, plus making it as a woman in the world of network TV, and much more, to Linda Cunningham at Meredith, by Paul Fedorko at Trident Media Group (NA).

London Sunday Times bestselling author Stephen Foster's WALKING OLLIE, OR WINNING THE LOVE OF A DIFFICULT DOG, a humorous account of the author's tribulations with a skittish lurcher puppy, to Marian Lizzi atPerigee, by George Lucas at Inkwell Management, on behalf of Short Books (NA).


Recent winner of the YouTube Video Award for Best Series based on viewer voting creators Douglas Sarine and Kent Nichols's THE NINJA HANDBOOK: A Guide for Non-Ninjas To Become More Ninja-like, claiming to be the first "video podcast to book" deal, to Julian Paviaat Crown, at auction, by Joe Veltre of Artists Literary Group (NA). Ask a Ninja is represented by UTA and manager John Elliott at Mosiac Media.


ATF agent Jay Dobyns's and Nils Johnson-Shelton's ALMOST ANGELS: The True Story of the First Cop to Infiltrate the Hells Angels - the World's Most Infamous and Impenetrable Motorcycle Gang, documenting Dobyns's stint undercover in the Arizona Hells Angels, running guns, riding bikes, and ultimately helping to take down a chapter of the infamous, mysterious organization, to Rick Horgan at Crown, by Richard Pine at Inkwell Management (NA).


Twenty-seven year-old CBC producer and food critic Kathryn Borel's CHATEAU SHITFACED, about the author and her French father touring the wine regions of Alsace, Burgundy, Cotes du Rhone and Languedoc, combining the dysfunctional road trip of Sideways with the father-daughter dynamics of Father of the Bride, in an effort to reaffirm their bond and reach a new level of understanding as adults, to Leah Marie Fairbank at Wiley Canada, by Sam Hiyate at The RightsFactory.