Saturday, February 25, 2006

Criteria for Approving UAE/Ports Deal

Do this first:

Let’s Outsource the Secret Service to the UAE

Why not abolish the Secret Service and let U.A.E. guard the President? Now this would show our Arab allies that we trust them.

I agree. If there’s no problem with letting them hire the longshoremen in our ports, then while we’re at it, let’s put them where they could really do some good.

1,926 Still Missing From Katrina

George Bush fiddling on August 30, 2005, the day after the levee broke

In an upbeat headline, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals reports that 1,926 people are still missing in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina:

Fewer Than 2,000 Still Missing from Katrina

This number is larger than the official death toll, which stands at 1,103 in Louisiana.

Maybe This Is Why Dick Cheney Shot A Man In the Face


White House 'Discovers' 250 Emails Related to Plame Leak

The White House turned over last week 250 pages of emails from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office. Senior aides had sent the emails in the spring of 2003 related to the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald revealed during a federal court hearing Friday.

The emails are said to be explosive, and may prove that Cheney played an active role in the effort to discredit Plame Wilson’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a vocal critic of the Bush administration’s prewar Iraq intelligence, sources close to the investigation said.

Sources close to the probe said the White House “discovered” the emails two weeks ago and turned them over to Fitzgerald last week. The sources added that the emails could prove that Cheney lied to FBI investigators when he was interviewed about the leak in early 2004. Cheney said that he was unaware of any effort to discredit Wilson or unmask his wife’s undercover status to reporters.

Everybody Hates the Port Deal; Was It Bought and Paid For?

Tom Kean (former head of the 9/11 Commission, former governor of New Jersey):
Former Sept. 11 commission chairman blasts ports deal

WASHINGTON -- The former chairman of the Sept. 11 commission blasted the offer by a United Arab Emirates company to run operations at six major U.S. seaports, saying it should never have been brokered in the first place.

"It shouldn't have happened, it never should have happened," Thomas Kean said Friday during a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

Kean, who also is a past governor of New Jersey, said the quicker the Bush administration can get out of the deal, the better. He also criticized the administration, saying "somebody has a tin ear over there."

"We're in a no-win situation," Kean said, referring to the United Arab Emirates. "There's no question that two of the 9/11 hijackers came from there and money was laundered through there."

Clark Kent Ervin, the inspector general of the Homeland Security Department from 2003 to 2004 (and a great name!):

NYTimes: Strangers at the Door

WHO could have imagined that, in the post-9/11 world, the United States government would approve a deal giving control over six major American ports to a country with ties to terrorism? But this is exactly what the secretive Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States has done.

Since 1999, the ports of New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia and other cities have been operated by a British concern, P & O Ports, which has now been bought by Dubai Ports World, a company controlled by the government of the United Arab Emirates. Defenders of the deal are claiming that critics, including the Republican and Democratic leaderships in Congress, are acting reflexively out of some bias against Arabs.

This is simply not true. While the United Arab Emirates is deemed by the Bush administration to be an ally in the war on terrorism, we should all have deep concerns about its links to terrorists. Two of the 9/11 hijackers were citizens of the emirates, and some of the money for the attacks came from there. It was one of only three countries in the world that recognized the Taliban regime. And Dubai was an important transshipment point for the smuggling network of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani scientist who supplied Libya, Iran and North Korea with equipment for making nuclear weapons.

Most terrorism experts agree that the likeliest way for a weapon of mass destruction to be smuggled into our country would be through a port. After all, some 95 percent of all goods from abroad arrive in the United States by sea, and yet only about 6 percent of incoming cargo containers are inspected for security threats.

It is true that at the ports run by the Dubai company, Customs officers would continue to do any inspection of cargo containers and the Coast Guard would remain "in charge" of port security. But, again, very few cargo inspections are conducted. And the Coast Guard merely sets standards that ports are to follow and reviews their security plans. Meeting those standards each day is the job of the port operators: they are responsible for hiring security officers, guarding the cargo and overseeing its unloading.

The Port Authority of New York has filed a lawsuit against the deal. A US company at the Port of Miami, Eller & Co., has filed lawsuits in Miami and in the High Court of London claiming that the deal will make it an 'involuntary partner' of the UAE:

Lawsuits Filed to Stop Ports Takeover, Deal on Hold

The UAE gave $100 billion to the US for Katrina aid, weeks before the port deal. Coincidence? Right:

UAE gave $100 million for Katrina relief

The administration said the request for U.S. approval of the $6.8 billion ports deal and the UAE contribution were not related.

"There was no connection between the two events," said Adam Ereli, the deputy State Department spokesman.

The U.S. government the money it received from the United Arab Emirates was nearly four times as much as it received from all other countries combined.
Other nations, including some in the Middle East, also pledged large contributions but have not yet sent the money.

Previous posts:
UAE Company to Run Six Ports? Try Twenty-One Ports.

Bush's Blink

What's The Big Secret?

Why Take That Chance?

Bush Prepares for Blink on UAE/Port Deal

UAE Port Security Takeover Update

So Who Did Review the UAE/Ports Deal?

Terrorist Funders Would Control US Military Equipment Shipments As Well As US Ports

If Terrorist Funders Run Our Ports, Terrorists Win

Privatization Gone Wild - Bushco Puts Terrorist Funders in Charge

Friday, February 24, 2006

UAE Company to Run Six Ports? Try Twenty-One Ports.

UAE terminal takeover extends to 21 ports

WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- A United Arab Emirates government-owned company is poised to take over port terminal operations in 21 American ports, far more than the six widely reported.

The Bush administration has approved the takeover of British-owned Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co. to DP World, a deal set to go forward March 2 unless Congress intervenes.

P&O is the parent company of P&O Ports North America, which leases terminals for the import and export and loading and unloading and security of cargo in 21 ports, 11 on the East Coast, ranging from Portland, Maine to Miami, Florida, and 10 on the Gulf Coast, from Gulfport, Miss., to Corpus Christi, Texas, according to the company's Web site.

Previous posts:

Bush's Blink

What's The Big Secret?

Why Take That Chance?

Bush Prepares for Blink on UAE/Port Deal

UAE Port Security Takeover Update

So Who Did Review the UAE/Ports Deal?

Terrorist Funders Would Control US Military Equipment Shipments As Well As US Ports

If Terrorist Funders Run Our Ports, Terrorists Win

Privatization Gone Wild - Bushco Puts Terrorist Funders in Charge

Friday Funnies

Quail Hunting School

Try not to shoot anyone in the face.

OSHA Prepared to Sentence At Least 17,000 Workers to Death

In an exceedingly poorly written article in today's Washington Post, we learn (through reading through the lines) that OSHA intends to propose that US workers can be exposed to 5 micrograms of hexavalent chromium per cubic foot of air. This is five times the level proposed by OSHA itself in 2004, and 20 times the level proposed by public health advocates.

The clues:

OSHA has not said what the new limit will be. But sources close to the agency have been told to expect a standard that would allow five times more exposure than it had initially proposed -- a shift that would be a victory for the industry, saving it billions of dollars in upgrades and plant closures.

The decades-old "permissible exposure level" is 52 micrograms per cubic meter of air. On the basis of the few large studies done in recent years, advocates sought a new level of 0.25 micrograms. In 2004, OSHA released a proposed limit of 1 microgram.

According to OSHA, the 1 microgram limit would result in two to nine excess deaths in every 1,000 exposed workers over a 45-year lifetime of work. That is more than the one-death-per-1,000 standard the agency aims for but is reasonable, it said, in light of the high costs and technological challenges involved.

OSHA calculated that a less stringent limit of 5 micrograms per cubic meter would result in 10 to 45 excess deaths per 1,000 workers.

There is no safe level of exposure to a carcinogen. Yet, astoundingly, OSHA is prepared to set the level of exposure to hexavalent chromium at a level which will cause 10 to 45 deaths per 1,000 workers exposed to it. 380,000 US workers are exposed to this metal annually. Based on OSHA's calculations, this means that 3,800 to 17,100 workers will DIE as a result of OSHA's decision to permit high exposures to this dangerous, carcinogenic metal.

And that is based on the research OSHA possessed. This article reveals that industry scientists buried research showing a 5 times greater lung cancer risk from exposure:

[T]he industry conducted a pivotal study that found a fivefold increase in lung cancer deaths from moderate exposures to chromium but never published the results or gave them to OSHA. Company-sponsored scientists later reworked the data in a way that made the risk disappear.

Factoring in the real data, a five times greater risk of lung cancer, OSHA will be sentencing tens of thousands more American workers to occupational, preventable death.

The article:

WaPo: Chromium Evidence Buried, Report Says
Authors Fault Industry Researchers

Scientists working for the chromium industry withheld data about the metal's health risks while the industry campaigned to block strict new limits on the cancer-causing chemical, according to a scientific journal report published yesterday.

Archer Daniel Midland Cornholes the World

I have a pet nutritional theory, that the replacement of truly sweet sugar with not very sweet but cheap and plentiful corn syrup is what has caused our worldwide obesity epidemic. Corn syrup is not satisfying, so people just keep eating and drinking more for the satisfaction that only real sugar can provide. I'm no scientist, but the explosion of obesity has happened in the last 30 years. What has changed? Read the label of anything in your cupboard. It contains some corn-based sweetener.

WaPo, March 2003: Sweet but Not So Innocent?
High-Fructose Corn Syrup May Act More Like Fat Than Sugar in the Body

In 1966, refined sugar, also known as sucrose, held the No. 1 slot, accounting for 86 percent of sweeteners used, according to the USDA. Today, sweeteners made from corn are the leader, racking up $4.5 billion in annual sales and accounting for 55 percent of the sweetener market. That switch largely reflects the steady growth of high-fructose corn syrup, which climbed from zero consumption in 1966 to 62.6 pounds per person in 2001.

Corn is also an environmental disaster. From

Attack of the killer corn

Bolstered by government subsidies that have averaged about $4 billion annually since 1995, U.S. production accounts for nearly 40 percent of the world's corn output. Every year, the USDA reports, corn farmers dump more than 10 billion pounds of nitrogen fertilizer onto their fields -- a heavier dose than for any other crop by a factor of nearly three. (Source: Download table 2 from this USDA/Economic Research page.)

This annual cascade of "artificial fertility" (as the farmer and activist Jason McKenney calls it) parches soil of nitrogen-fixing bacteria. It crushes biodiversity and makes soils reliant on more fertilizer. According to McKenney, less than a fifth of that nitrogen makes it into corn plants.

The rest leeches into groundwater, feeding algae blooms that smother water-borne life from the northern reaches of the Mississippi River clear down to the Gulf of Mexico, where a dead zone about the size of New Jersey emerges each year, blotting out what was once a robust source of food and jobs, to say nothing of an important marine habitat. As Richard Manning puts it in the winter 2004 American Scholar (unavailable online):

Already, the Dead Zone has seriously damaged what was once a productive fishery, meaning that a high-quality source of low-cost protein is being sacrificed so that a source of low-quality, high-input subsidized protein can blanket the Upper Midwest.

In a sense, by ending up in the Gulf, that fertilizer is coming home: nitrogen-based fertilizer derives from natural gas.


The real beneficiaries of this twisted system aren't most corn growers; it's the buyers, processing giants like Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill. That one-billion-bushel surplus of corn in 2004 exerted enormous downward pressure on corn prices. In 2004, a bushel -- 56 pounds -- of corn brought in $1.95 to the farmer. That's about 3 cents a pound. At that rate, the only way a farm can make any money at all is to scale up as much as possible and then hope for a government check. No wonder mid-sized farms are rapidly going extinct.

Archer Daniels Midland makes a killing off of our cheap-food system; a few mega-farms in the Midwest do OK as well. But for most people, and for the environment, what we get is a government-underwritten disaster.

I can't imagine a better place for greens, social-justice activists, and real-food enthusiasts to unite for change.

Bush's Blink

Arab Firm Offers to Delay Deal On Seaports
Senators Challenge Legality of Approval

Facing unrelenting political and national security concerns, an Arab maritime company offered late last night to delay part of its $6.8 billion deal to take over significant operations at six U.S. ports, after White House aide Karl Rove suggested that President Bush could accept some delay of the deal.

Previous posts:

What's The Big Secret?

Why Take That Chance?

Bush Prepares for Blink on UAE/Port Deal

UAE Port Security Takeover Update

So Who Did Review the UAE/Ports Deal?

Terrorist Funders Would Control US Military Equipment Shipments As Well As US Ports

If Terrorist Funders Run Our Ports, Terrorists Win

Privatization Gone Wild - Bushco Puts Terrorist Funders in Charge

Just for Laughs

From Booman Tribune (picture courtesy West Virginia Public Accountants Association, tee hee):

Composer Passes []

From my friend Norma: With all the sadness and trauma going on in the world at the moment, it is worth reflecting on the death of a very important person, which almost went unnoticed last week.

Larry LaPrise, the man who wrote "The Hokey Pokey," died peacefully at the age of 93. The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin.

They put his left leg in. And then the trouble started.

Shut up. You know it's funny.

Actually, LaPrise died in 1996, and this joke has been slowly dancing through blogtopia since then.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Right Wing Radio

This morning in the car I turned on the local (Worcester) radio station for the weather. At 9:00 a.m. the "Glenn Beck" show came on. Right wing radio at its worst. He has a good voice for radio; if you like Lewis Black on the Daily Show he sounds a lot like him. Lots of shouting. He didn't get into heavy hating today, because he was talking about the Dubai port takeover story, and even right wing gasbags can't defend it.

But I felt dirty listening to his anger. He denigrated liberals and Democrats while talking about an issue where he seemed to agree with liberals and Democrats!

There's no liberal radio where I live. There's middle of the road, for about two hours in the afternoon, local radio personalities Marjorie Egan and Jim Braude on 96.9 for about two hours. Braude is a liberal, and Egan is -- well, how to describe her -- a Massachusetts Republican. The old Jacob Javits liberal. Don't find them in the rest of the country anymore. But everything else on the radio is hate. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Graham. Bellowing about people like me, like believing in social justice makes me one step away from Osama bin Laden.

I got to thinking about the movie "Working Girl". Melanie Griffith's character's big idea to pitch to a company is that instead of trying to get into television, they start smaller, with radio. Buy a radio network, and eventually that might lead them to television.

The right wing has done that with talk radio. Except for Air America and its few outlets, national talk radio is right wing. There are no other voices on the air. And with over 1200 radio stations owned by Clearchannel, they dominate the little news segments that are played at the hour and half hour across the country. Listen hard to those little segments. They have a point of view, and it's not liberal.

And slowly, slowly, gathering speed, the right wing perspective on the news now dominates television and print media, as well. And into the minds of our fellow citizens, brainwashed by the haters.

Here's an article on the phenomenon, from the Madison, Wisconsin Capital Times, via commondreams:

Flatulent Right Wing Fills Radio with Hate

How Do I Hate Mitt Romney? Let Me Count The Ways

Our Republican governor who's really from Utah (Go Home! Go Home!) is outsourcing Massachusetts state jobs. To India and to .... Utah! It just galls me to learn that my state taxes are going to pay workers substandard wages in other countries. And Utah! To the Moron/Mormon godbags in Utah! Arrggghhhhhhhhh.

Ted K slams Mitt for outsourcing jobs: Mass. work farmed out to India, Utah

Under fire from U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the Romney administration yesterday defended its policy of outsourcing state jobs, saying that Massachusetts work formerly done in India is now handled in the United States - albeit in Utah.

Kennedy ripped Romney yesterday for “jumping on the offshoring bandwagon,” while a Romney administration official retorted that only a small number of foreign data entry workers were still crunching Medicaid numbers in India.

“This bandwagon holds a total of 18 people,” said state Health and Human Services spokesman Dick Powers. “And there have been talks about the possibility of moving it back to this country.”

But Powers acknowledged that a larger contract for employees at a food stamp call center has been farmed out to Utah since September. He did not know how many Bay State jobs were being performed in Utah.


Romney, who is gearing up for a likely presidential run, appears to be backtracking on an earlier push to ship Bay State government work to companies that work overseas. He vetoed in June 2004 a bill that would have blocked outsourcing state jobs.

Was Dick Loaded When He Shot A Man In The Face?

From Capitol Hill Blue. I know, I know, they're the blog version of the National Enquirer, but you know what? Some times the Enquirer is right. And the 22 hour delay in reporting this accident, the turning away of the investigator the night it happened, the party going back to the ranch for dinner and cocktails while the victim lay in a hospital bed, all those things tell me this is true:

Secret Service agents say Cheney was drunk when he shot lawyer

Secret Service agents guarding Vice President Dick Cheney when he shot Texas lawyer Harry Whittington on a hunting outing two weeks ago say Cheney was "clearly inebriated" at the time of the shooting and a written report outlining details of the incident has been destroyed, sources tell Capitol Hill Blue.

Agents observed several members of the hunting party, including the Vice President, consuming alcohol before and during the hunting expedition and Cheney exhibited "visible signs" of impairment, including slurred speech and erratic actions.

According to those who have talked with agents and others present at the outing, Cheney appeared drunk when he gunned down his friend and the day-and-a-half delay in allowing Texas law enforcement officials on the ranch where the shooting occurred gave all members of the hunting party time to sober up.

We talked with a number of administration officials who are privy to inside information on the Vice President's shooting "accident" and all admit Secret Service agents and others saw Cheney consume far more than the "one beer' he claimed he drank at lunch earlier that day.

"This was a South Texas hunt," says one White House aide. "Of course there was drinking. There's always drinking. Lots of it."

Bushco Fiddled While New Orleans Drowned

August 30, 2005, Day After Katrina Struck, Levee Broke

Bush Fiddling and Diddling

Think Progress: White House Investigates Itself, Concludes It Wasn’t At Fault For Katrina Response The Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina: Lessons Learned

Iraq's Fort Sumter?

Has civil war begun in Iraq, after yesterday's bombing of the Shiite "golden mosque"? Over 100 people were killed today.

International Herald Tribune: Shiite fury explodes in Iraq

BAGHDAD: At least 138 Iraqis, most of them Sunni Arabs, including a number of clerics, were killed in central Iraq on Wednesday and Thursday in the maelstrom of sectarian violence that followed the bombing of one of the country's most sacred Shiite shrines, Iraqi officials said.

Seven American soldiers also died in bombings, the U.S. military said Thursday.

Sunni Arab politicians broke off talks with Shiite and Kurdish leaders over the formation of a new government, saying that the Shiites were encouraging reprisals against Sunnis.

Across Iraq, thousands of Shiites took to the streets in a second day of protests against the attack in Samarra, 95 kilometers, or 60 miles, north of Baghdad, which destroyed the dome of Al Askariya, also known as the Golden Mosque because of its color.

The protests Thursday were mostly peaceful, though Shiites raided several Sunni mosques in Baghdad and set fire to at least two.

In the deadliest attack in the past two days, 47 people returning from a protest on Wednesday were pulled off buses south of Baghdad and shot in their heads, an Interior Ministry official said Thursday.

Professor Juan Cole: Shiite protests Roil Iraq

Tuesday was an apocalyptic day in Iraq. I am not normally exactly sanguine about the situation there. But the atmospherics are very, very bad, in a way that most Western observers will miss.

What's The Big Secret?

Two points about this port story today: The whole thing was done with a secret side deal, which exempted the Emir's company from routine requirements in similar cases. Second, although the Bushies claim the Dubai company running US ports won't affect national security, the deal contains provisions requiring the company to do certain things regarding security. Which they wouldn't need if the deal didn't affect security, right?

WaPo: Arab Co., White House Had Secret Agreement

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration secretly required a company in the United Arab Emirates to cooperate with future U.S. investigations before approving its takeover of operations at six American ports, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. It chose not to impose other, routine restrictions.

As part of the $6.8 billion purchase, state-owned Dubai Ports World agreed to reveal records on demand about "foreign operational direction" of its business at U.S. ports, the documents said. Those records broadly include details about the design, maintenance or operation of ports and equipment.

The administration did not require Dubai Ports to keep copies of business records on U.S. soil, where they would be subject to court orders. It also did not require the company to designate an American citizen to accommodate U.S. government requests. Outside legal experts said such obligations are routinely attached to U.S. approvals of foreign sales in other industries.


Under the deal, the government asked Dubai Ports to operate American seaports with existing U.S. managers "to the extent possible." It promised to take "all reasonable steps" to assist the Homeland Security Department, and it pledged to continue participating in security programs to stop smuggling and detect illegal shipments of nuclear materials.

The administration required Dubai Ports to designate an executive to handle requests from the U.S. government, but it did not specify this person's citizenship.

It said Dubai Ports must retain paperwork "in the normal course of business" but did not specify a time period or require corporate records to be housed in the United States. Outside experts familiar with such agreements said such provisions are routine in other cases.

Previous posts:

Why Take That Chance?

Bush Prepares for Blink on UAE/Port Deal

UAE Port Security Takeover Update

So Who Did Review the UAE/Ports Deal?

Terrorist Funders Would Control US Military Equipment Shipments As Well As US Ports

If Terrorist Funders Run Our Ports, Terrorists Win

Privatization Gone Wild - Bushco Puts Terrorist Funders in Charge

Why Take That Chance?

Steve Gilliard at the News Blog is right:

No one gives a shit

I don't give shit about the nuances here, nor do most New Yorkers.

To let the UAE run American ports is simply unacceptable.


Because Bush fucked up airport security on 9/11. His promises to protect the ports are useless.

We'll just get some more excuses when an LNG tanker takes out Baltimore. Ooops my bad isn't really an explanation.

Most New Yorkers don't dwell on 9/11, but when I heard this deal, I said I just don't want to take a chance.

On 9/11, I woke up and was listening to Howard Stern when the first plane hit. I saw the second plane hit live on TV and instantly knew it was Bin Laden.

When I went out later that day, I saw an F-15 flying over Central Park at 2000 feet, armed.

Jen woke up to ashes flooding her then Brooklyn Heights apartment.

So forgive me when I don't take Bush at his word on this. If he's wrong, his cowardly ass is going to fly on Air Force One and Cheney is going to a bunker. We're the ones who live with the mistake.

The UAE has too many links with terror, and I don't give a flying fuck how many white men in suits they send to cover for them. Because these people got the Bin Laden family out of the US when no one else could fly, asking a question about Uncle Osama was too much for them to bear.

If this pisses off Arabs, well, yeah, I guess they're pissed, although I think they have far more compelling reasons to be pissed at us.

Previous posts:

Bush Prepares for Blink on UAE/Port Deal

UAE Port Security Takeover Update

So Who Did Review the UAE/Ports Deal?

Terrorist Funders Would Control US Military Equipment Shipments As Well As US Ports

If Terrorist Funders Run Our Ports, Terrorists Win

Privatization Gone Wild - Bushco Puts Terrorist Funders in Charge

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Get the Lead Out

Good for Rhode Island:

Boston Globe: Three lead paint makers are found guilty

PROVIDENCE, R.I. --Three former makers of lead paint created a public nuisance that continues to poison children, a jury decided Wednesday in the state's landmark lawsuit against the companies.

The verdict means the companies that once made lead paint and pigment could be held responsible for millions of dollars in cleanup and mitigation costs, though the state never put a dollar value on its lawsuit.

Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein will decide later how much, if anything, the companies must pay.


The first trial ended in 2002 with a hung jury. The jury in the latest trial began deliberating Feb. 13 following more than three months of trial.

Jurors Wednesday found one of the four companies named in the suit, Atlantic Richfield Co., was not responsible. But it [] found the three others were: Sherwin-Williams Co., NL Industries Inc. and Millennium Holdings.

The state argued that lead paint created a sweeping public nuisance that has poisoned tens of thousands of children since the early 1990s and contaminated hundreds of thousands of homes.

The state brought in doctors, who described how low levels of lead can be dangerous to a child and how lead-poisoned children can suffer behavioral disorders, gastrointestinal pain, brain damage and even death.

Minor quibble with the Boston Globe headline writer: A defendant in a criminal trial is guilty. A defendant in a civil trial is liable for damages.

Bush Prepares for Blink on UAE/Port Deal

Backpedaling furiously for the inevitable moment when this "deal" goes down in flames:

WaPo: Bush Unaware of Ports Deal Before Approval

WASHINGTON -- President Bush was unaware of the pending sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates until the deal already had been approved by his administration, the White House said Wednesday.

'I didn't know nothin 'bout selling port security to them A-rabs, Mr. Hastert!'

Previous posts:

UAE Port Security Takeover Update

So Who Did Review the UAE/Ports Deal?

Terrorist Funders Would Control US Military Equipment Shipments As Well As US Ports

If Terrorist Funders Run Our Ports, Terrorists Win

Privatization Gone Wild - Bushco Puts Terrorist Funders in Charge

Shiite 'Golden Mosque' Heavily Damaged

Imagine that St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City had been bombed. Or the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.

Dr. Laniac's Daily News Blog: Shiite 'Golden Mosque' heavily damaged

Ominous news from Iraq -- the "golden mosque" in Samarra has been destroyed. By men dressed as Iraqi commandos. Ten men have been captured and arrested.

As if sectarian tensions weren't already high.

"The crime that has taken place in Samarra is against Iraq, is against one of the holiest places in the country and the whole population is extremely hurt by what they have heard."

The Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party called the attack "an extreme crime" and called for an investigation into who was responsible. Later, its office in Baghdad and two local Sunni mosques were attacked, police said.

Gunmen stormed the Iraqi Islamic Party's office, evacuated its employees and torched the place. The main entrance to Al Hamza mosque, which escaped damage, came under machine-gun fire and was burned. A rocket-propelled grenade caused damage to the entrance of the Mustafa mosque."

Guardian (uk): In pictures: Attack on the al-Askari shrine in Samarra

UAE Port Security Takeover Update

George Bush has never vetoed a bill in his five disastrous years in office. Yet, despite the fact that this deal stinks to high heaven (the US never conducted the mandatory investigation before approving it), now Bush is ready to veto. Anything for his great and good friends the UAE.

Mr. "We'll get bin Laden, dead or alive" once passed up a chance to get bin Laden. Why? Because Osama was hanging out with his friends the UAE royal family.

This deal stinks. Will Congress have the spine to scuttle the deal?

ThinkProgress: Administration Failed To Conduct Legally Required Investigation Before Approving UAE Port Deal

The law [] makes the 45-day investigation mandatory in cases like the Dubai World Ports transfer.


Yet, the investigation never happened. Bush administration officials “could not say why a 45-day investigation did not occur.”

Eschaton: Jolly Old Pals

From March, 2004:

The Central Intelligence Agency did not target Al Qaeda chief Osama bin laden once as he had the royal family of the United Arab Emirates with him in Afghanistan, the agency's director, George Tenet, told the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States on Thursday.

Had the CIA targeted bin Laden, half the royal family would have been wiped out as well, he said.

I don't see how it's a good idea to hand over ports to Bin Laden's pals.

Again, this is not about an "Arab company," this is a company owned and controlled by the hereditary oligarchy of the UAE, many of whom, apparently, were Bin Laden's jolly old pals.

New York lawmakers stunned by Bush's ports veto threat
The six ports include NY and NJ

Previous posts:

So Who Did Review the UAE/Ports Deal?

Terrorist Funders Would Control US Military Equipment Shipments As Well As US Ports

If Terrorist Funders Run Our Ports, Terrorists Win

Privatization Gone Wild - Bushco Puts Terrorist Funders in Charge

Enough to Make You a Vegetarian

picture courtesy of

Is your steak fresh, or was it gassed?

WaPo: Studies Attest to Buyers' Focus on Color of Meat

[A] growing proportion of prepackaged meats in the United States are spiked with carbon monoxide -- a gas that keeps even rotten meat looking red and fresh.


On Monday, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a senior Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he would introduce legislation to ban carbon monoxide use in packaged meats if the FDA does not immediately revoke its earlier decision. Another Great Reason to Go Veg- They are Gassing the Meat

How do you tell if meat is fresh? Smell? Colour? Date stamp? You just lost one test- The Food and Drug Admin in the US allows supermarkets to pack red meat in carbon monoxide gas- just as your lips get a lovely shade of red when you leave the car running in the garage, the meat stays red and fresh looking for weeks. (the two pieces shown are both two weeks old, guess which one got the suicide treatment).

WaPo: Groups Protest Carbon Monoxide Use in Meat

WASHINGTON -- Shoppers who judge the freshness of meat by its pink color may be deceived by a relatively new industry practice of treating meat with carbon monoxide, critics say.

The meat industry defends the use of carbon monoxide to help meat retain its pink hue, saying large sums of money are wasted when sellers throw away meat that is still safe to eat but is not as attractive because it is slightly brown.

"Color is the number one indicator that's used" in selecting meat, said Don Berdahl, vice president of Kalsec Inc., a maker of natural food extracts in Kalamazoo, Mich. Last November Kalsec filed a petition with the Food and Drug Administration seeking a ban on the use of carbon monoxide in meat packaging.

Berdahl said Tuesday that carbon monoxide-treated meat could be left on the kitchen counter for five days and would still look bright red and fresh. Carbon monoxide "also suppresses bad odors and the presence of slime, other telltale signs that meat is spoiled," Kalsec's petition said.

The petition said treated meat could hide the growth of pathogens such as Clostridium botulinum, Salmonella and E. coli.

Roe v. Wade: The Beginning of the End

A law that lets a woman die rather than allow her to abort a deformed fetus will be considered by the newly reshaped Supreme Court. The procedure is only performed about 2000 times per year in the US, and is usually done because of severe defect in the fetus or risk of death by the mother. The fundies would rather the woman die. Roberts and Alito get to roll back 30 years of reproductive freedom in one fell swoop. My prediction: The court rules 5-4, let the women die.

No thanks to Joe Lieberman, Maria Cantwell "I'm 100% pro-choice", and the other Vichy Democrats who voted for cloture and let Alito on the Supreme Court.

WaPo: Abortion Case to Test New Justices
Court Will Review 'Partial Birth' Ban

The Supreme Court agreed yesterday to decide whether a 2003 federal ban on the procedure that critics call "partial birth" abortion is constitutional, setting the stage for its most significant ruling on abortion rights in almost 15 years.

Without comment or recorded dissent, the court granted the Bush administration's request to review a lower court's ruling striking down the law, which passed Congress overwhelmingly but has yet to be enforced.


The federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 was Congress's answer to that ruling. It banned the procedure except when necessary to save the life of the woman. And it deliberately omitted an exception to protect the woman's health. Indeed, as drafted by its Republican sponsors, the law formally declared, based on expert testimony, that such an abortion could never be necessary to preserve health.

Women' Late-Term Abortion Saved These Women's Lives

Late-Term Abortions Save Women's Lives

If the ban were in place in 1995, Tammy Watts would likely be dead, she says.

In March of that year, Watts was in the eighth month of a much-wanted pregnancy and was eagerly anticipating the birth of her first child. During a routine ultrasound (the only way to detect abnormalities that require late-term abortion), she discovered her baby had Trisomy 13, a chromosomal abnormality that causes severe deformities and carries no hope of survival.

Because her baby was already dying and because this put her own life at stake, Watts had an intact dilation and extraction (D and X), the procedure that Bush condemns as "brutal."

"Losing my baby at the end of my pregnancy was agonizing," says Watts. "But the way the right deals with this issue makes it even worse. When I heard Bush mention 'partial birth abortion' during the debates, I thought 'How dare you stand there and tell flat-out lies?' There is no such thing as this procedure! Why won't the politicians listen to us?"

BLM Field Manager: 'This is an energy office'

The Bush Administration has transformed the Bureau of Land Management to the Bureau of Frantic Oil and Gas Leasing. Funds meant to safeguard the environment and wildlife are diverted to drilling permit applications. Biologists who should be protecting the environment are spending all their time approving drilling permits -- this small area of Wyoming is scheduled to have six (6) times as many oil and gas wells over the next decade.

WaPo: Federal Wildlife Monitors Oversee a Boom in Drilling
Energy Programs Trump Conservation

PINEDALE, Wyo. -- The Bureau of Land Management, caretaker of more land and wildlife than any federal agency, routinely restricts the ability of its own biologists to monitor wildlife damage caused by surging energy drilling on federal land, according to BLM officials and bureau documents.

The officials and documents say that by keeping many wildlife biologists out of the field doing paperwork on new drilling permits and that by diverting agency money intended for wildlife conservation to energy programs, the BLM has compromised its ability to deal with the environmental consequences of the drilling boom it is encouraging on public lands.

Here on the high sage plains of western Wyoming, often called the Serengeti of the West because of large migratory herds of deer and antelope, the Pinedale region has become one of the most productive and profitable natural gas fields on federal land in the Rockies. With the aggressive backing of the Bush administration, many members of Congress and the energy industry, at least a sixfold expansion in drilling is likely here in the coming decade.

Recent studies of mule deer and sage grouse, however, show steep declines in their numbers since the gas boom began here about five years ago: a 46 percent decline for mule deer and a 51 percent decline for breeding male sage grouse. Early results from a study of pronghorn antelope show that they, too, avoid the gas fields.

Yet as these findings have come in, the wildlife biologists in the Pinedale office of the BLM have rarely gone into the field to monitor harm to wildlife.

"The BLM is pushing the biologists to be what I call 'biostitutes,' rather than allow them to be experts in the wildlife they are supposed to be managing," said Steve Belinda, 37, who last week quit his job as one of three wildlife biologists in the BLM's Pinedale office because he said he was required to spend nearly all his time working on drilling requests. "They are telling us that if it is not energy-related, you are not working on it."


In the Pinedale BLM office, as in agency offices across the West, monitoring and research on the impact of drilling on wildlife are almost never done by staff biologists, according to Roger L. Bankert, associate field manager for lands and minerals.

"This is an energy office, and our biologists don't have time to do the monitoring," Bankert said. He said it is "done by private consultants who are hired by the energy companies," with BLM approval.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

So Who Did Review the UAE/Ports Deal?

Secretary of Defense Rumsfield is supposedly on the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, which supposedly unanimously approved the deal allowing a United Arab Emirates company to take over security at six US ports on Monday, February 13th. Problem? Rumsfield now claims he just heard about the deal this weekend. So how did he vote for it? Or did they just not invite him to the meeting? Maybe the invite is in his email. (That's a joke; Rummy doesn't have email.)

This gets fishier and fishier.

From Thinkprogress:

BREAKING: Rumsfeld and Pace Not Consulted On Transfer Of Port Operations To UAE

Previous posts:

Terrorist Funders Would Control US Military Equipment Shipments As Well As US Ports

If Terrorist Funders Run Our Ports, Terrorists Win

Privatization Gone Wild - Bushco Puts Terrorist Funders in Charge

Malaysian PM to Abramoff to Rove To Bush: Republican $1.2 Million Touchdown

WaPo: Ex-Malaysia PM: Abramoff Was Paid $1.2M

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said disgraced U.S. lobbyist Jack Abramoff was paid $1.2 million to organize a meeting between him and President Bush in 2002, but denied the money came from the Malaysian government.


In a report last week, The Los Angeles Times said that Abramoff received $1.2 million from the Malaysian government for his lobbying services in 2001 and 2002.

According to the Times, which cited an unnamed former Abramoff associate who attended meetings with the Malaysian ambassador and the lobbyist, Abramoff allegedly contacted presidential adviser Karl Rove at least four times to help arrange a meeting between Mahathir and Bush, which took place in May 2002 in the Oval Office.

Mahathir visited the White House at a time when Malaysia had emerged as a key U.S. ally in the war on terror, following Mahathir's crackdown on suspected Islamic militants. However, Mahathir had been consistently critical of Bush's foreign policies, and chastised by the West for his anti-Semitic comments and human rights record.

Genealogists Must Fight Back

This is just crazy. Bushco wants to federalize birth and death certificates. How are you supposed to do genealogical research? From In These Times, via atrios:

Information Is Power

Sometimes it i’s the small abuses scurrying below radar that reveal how profoundly the Bush administration has changed America in the name of national security. Buried within the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 is a regulation that bars most public access to birth and death certificates for 70 to 100 years. In much of the country, these records have long been invaluable tools for activists, lawyers, and reporters to uncover patterns of illness and pollution that officials miss or ignore.

In These Times has obtained a draft of the proposed regulations now causing widespread concern among state officials. It reveals plans to create a vast database of vital records to be centralized in Washington, and details measures that states must implement–and pay millions for—before next year’s scheduled implementation.

The draft lays out how some 60,000 already strapped town and county offices must keep the birth and death records under lock and key and report all document requests to Washington. Individuals who show up in person will still be able to obtain their own birth certificates, and in some cases, the birth and death records of an immediate relative; and legitimate research institutions may be able to access files. But reporters and activists won't be allowed to fish through records; many family members looking for genetic clues will be out of luck; and people wanting to trace adoptions will dead-end. If you are homeless and need your own birth certificate, forget it: no address, no service.

Operation Photo Op, Renewable Energy edition

Bush talked about energy conservation during the State of the Union address, even though he had just cut jobs at the Energy Department's renewable energy laboratory. He needed them for a photo op today, so guess what? The jobs are back! I wonder how soon after the visit is over the budget cuts will be restored? A week? Remember the Katrina speech, all about how we were going to help the poor. Bush = Liar.

Jobs cut at energy lab restored before Bush visit

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Energy Department said it has come up with $5 million to immediately restore jobs cut at a renewable energy laboratory President George W. Bush will visit on Tuesday, avoiding a potentially embarrassing moment as the president promotes his energy plan.

Previous post: During the SOTU Speech, Bush's Lips Were Moving...

Update: Liar, liar, pants on fire: Bush Blames Cuts at Energy Lab on Mix-Up

If you believe that one, there's a bridge in Brooklyn that can be dismantled with blowtorches...

Terrorist Funders Would Control US Military Equipment Shipments As Well As US Ports

The corporate media has jumped into the UAE company's takeover of US ports story. Here's a new wrinkle: That company, Dubai Ports World, also has a contract to transfer US military equipment.

UAE Would Also Control Shipments of Military Equipment For The U.S. Army

There is bipartisan concern about the Bush administration’s decision to outsource the operation of six of the nation’s largest ports to a company controlled by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) because of that nation’s troubling ties to international terrorism. The sale of P&O to Dubai World Ports would give the state-owned company control of “the ports of New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.”

A major part of the story, however, has been mostly overlooked. The company, Dubai Ports World, would also control the movement of military equipment on behalf of the U.S. Army through two other ports. From today’s edition of the British paper Lloyd’s List:

[P&O] has just renewed a contract with the United States Surface Deployment and Distribution Command to provide stevedoring [loading and unloading] of military equipment at the Texan ports of Beaumont and Corpus Christi through 2010.

According to the journal Army Logistician “Almost 40 percent of the Army cargo deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom flows through these two ports.”

Thus, the sale would give a country that has been “a key transfer point for illegal shipments of nuclear components to Iran, North Korea and Lybia” direct control over substantial quantities U.S. military equipment.

Previous posts:
If Terrorist Funders Run Our Ports, Terrorists Win

Privatization Gone Wild - Bushco Puts Terrorist Funders in Charge

I Got To Get Me One of Them PACS

Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) is financing a lavish lifestyle by using a political action committee to pay for coffee and groceries, and by using his position to get a shady mortgage to buy a home he otherwise couldn't afford. Via atrios:

Tha American Prospect: With A Little Help From His Friends

The estates at Shenstone Farm sprawl over 500 acres of steeply rolling, barren hillside, at the point where northern Virginia’s traffic-clogged suburbs finally surrender to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. On an unseasonably warm January day, this former horse farm is shrouded in fog so dense that a visitor could imagine a band of gray-clad rebel soldiers emerging from these hilltops in the heart of Civil War country.

Instead, what slowly takes shape from the gloaming are well over 100 McMansions, with more on the way -- massive brick structures jutting out like solitary fortresses, each surrounded by roughly four acres of treeless, lunar-like landscape, with three-car garages and sconce-topped brick monument pillars at the foot of each long driveway. Most sport pricey wood playsets in the backyard.

It is here, some 43 miles by car and a world away from Capitol Hill, that Pennsylvania’s junior U.S. senator, Rick Santorum, and his wife, Karen, bought a home on November 14, 2001, for $643,361 (now assessed by Loudoun County at $757,000). It is here that the most outspoken social conservative in the Senate is raising his six children in the manner he described in his book last year, which caused so much controversy back in the state where he is seeking a third term this fall. And it is here that Santorum departs most mornings for his newest mission: crafting a package of Senate ethics reforms aimed at removing the stain of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.

The Santorums bought their oversized Shenstone “estate” even though his financial disclosure forms since 2001 have shown little family income beyond his Senate salary, now $162,100, and he admits that life hasn’t been financially easy. The senator made a startling remark to The New York Times Magazine last spring: “We live paycheck to paycheck, absolutely.” But he explained that his parents help out. “They’re by no means wealthy -- they’re two retired VA [Veterans Administration] employees -- but they’ll send a check every now and then,” he said.

The Prospect decided to heed Santorum’s advice by taking “an honest look at the family budget” -- his family budget. What we found is that Santorum’s exurban lifestyle is financed in ways that aren’t available to the average voter back home in Pennsylvania -- namely a political action committee that lists payments for such unorthodox items as dozens of trips to the Starbucks in Leesburg, a number of stops at fast-food joints, and purchases at Target, Wal-Mart, and a Giant supermarket in northern Virginia. Although a Santorum aide defends those charges as legitimate political costs, good-government experts say the expenditures are at best unconventional, and at worst a possible violation of Senate rules, and the purchases appear to be unorthodox when compared with other senators’ filings. Santorum’s PAC -- a “leadership PAC,” whose purpose is to dispense money to other Republican candidates -- used just 18.1 percent of its money to that end over a recent five-year period, a lower number than other leadership PACs of top senators from both parties.

These facts may well raise questions in Pennsylvanians’ minds about how the senator is conducting their business in Washington. But it is Santorum’s Virginia home that raises the hardest questions for the third-ranking Senate Republican.

* * *

Initially, according to Loudoun County property records, the purchase was financed with a $405,000 mortgage from a conventional lender, Westminster Mortgage Company. But a year later, the couple refinanced for $500,000. That was not unusual in the fall of 2002, when many homeowners were refinancing to take advantage of plunging interest rates, while also cashing in on the rising equity in their homes. What was curious was the source of the increased mortgage. It was a new private bank catering to “affluent investors and institutions” -- whose officers have contributed $24,000 to Santorum’s political action committees and re-election campaign -- called Philadelphia Trust Company.

I'm Trendy

Cooling off in the waters at Harbour Island, off Eleuthera's northern coast.

This is where I'm going on vacation next week.

The Flip Side of the Bahamas

Monday, February 20, 2006

This Just In


In an attempt to thwart the spread of bird flu,
George W. Bush has bombed the Canary Islands.

World Cup News

The US defeated Guatemala yesterday, 4-0. We are tied for 6th in the FIFA rankings and Guatemala is 58th, so it wasn't much of a test. The most significant part of the game was the welcome return of the GAM*, Eddie Johnson, who has missed much of the past year with a stress fracture in his foot and then a calf injury. And being Eddie Johnson, he scored less than two minutes after entering the game at the start of the second half.

Eddie Johnson scored 8 times in his first 8 international appearances, so in my book he better be on the US squad in Germany. He's young, and a work in progress, but he has that elusive skill so many Americans lack. He finishes. When he plays, he scores. The United States has never had a male player who is a natural finisher (the women have had three of the best, Michelle Akers, Mia Hamm, and Abby Wambach) and scoring goals is always the weakest part of our game. I want to see Eddie Johnson up front with Brian McBride in June.

Reportedly MLS turned down a $4 million or $5 million transfer fee offer from Portugese club Benfica for Johnson. For all the hype about Freddy Adu, Johnson could well be the real US superstar in soccer.

In other World Cup group news, Italy suffered a blow to its World Cup squad when star midfielder Francesco Totti broke his leg in Roma's game against Empoli this weekend. The injury is described as "a fractured fibula and ankle ligament damage", and early reports are that he will be out for three months. Totti is only 29 years old but recovery from a serious injury on such a tight timetable is never a guarantee.

"Health comes first, and I don't want to risk health," Totti told Italian news agency ANSA on Monday. "I strongly want (to play in) the World Cup ... but this is a hope more than a promise. I'll go only if I'm fully recovered."

Ghana will be without the services of Laryea Kingston, midfielder, who was given a four-game ban by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) after receiving a red card against Senegal in their Africa Nations Cup game.

Ghana's midfield did suffer a severe blow, however, when Laryea Kingston clashed – rather innocuously it must be said – with Senegal's Habib Beye in their group clash on Jan 27th and both players were sent off.

Kingston, a dynamo who plays his football in Russia for Lokomotiv Moscow and is one of Ghana's most potent attacking aces, received a stinging four-match ban which means he will miss their group games in Germany and can only return for the knockout stages.

The four-game ban was upheld by CAF, which means Kingston cannot play in any of Ghana's three group matches.

*GAM: Eddie Johnson was interviewed for a puff piece by US Soccer. When asked what video games he plays, he responded: "I don't play video games. I'm a grown ass man!"

This Land Is Your Land

The Bush Administration proposes selling off 300,000 acres of our national forest. Anything to protect those tax cuts for millionaires. From Scrutiny Hooligans, via skippy:

United States Forest Service to Sell 300,000 Acres of Your National Parks Forests

The Bush administration's FY 2007 is a trainwreck for nearly every domestic program in America. While continuing to lower taxes on the wealthiest Americans, Bush plans to increase the defense budget to record heights before even counting the costs of War in Iraq and Afghanistan. This means that, in order to claim fiscal responsibility, Bush wants to decimate domestic programs (Read here for a more comprehensive look).

In the case of the Amendment to Extend the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, Bush is hiding a selloff of American public lands behind the desperate state of rural education. The plan is to sell about 300,000 acres of National parklands to private interests and then to use that money to fund rural schools for five years. The current SRSCSDA funds rural schools by logging federal land, but the trees just ain't what used to be. So it's time to start logging the public lands, the national parks forests.


As soon as the public comment period begins, it will up to citizens to contest each and every sale. Until the public commment period begins, it is up to citizens to demand their representatives oppose this senseless move. This is part of an ongoing Bush administration effort to privatize public lands, expand logging, and starve the public education system.

We can fund education and preserve our national forests for our grandchildren. It just means that Dick Cheney loses his tax cut.

He Knew He Was In Trouble When

Smith: 'My foot pointed to Hong Kong'

Smith said: "I felt my leg go from under me as I went to block a free-kick. When I looked down, the leg was lying one way and my ankle was pointing towards Hong Kong so I knew I was in serious trouble.

"But the doctors are being very positive, I've had the operation and now it's a question of starting on the road back."

Previous posts:

Comeback Trail

Get Well Alan Smith

Nouns of Assemblage

I received this from a friend who is also a wonderful writing teacher, Irene Zahava. Could we call it, a list of bullet points?

After reading An Exhaltation of Larks, by James Lipton, in which he compiles an extraordinary list of "nouns of assemblage," or, as he calls them, "venereal terms," as in "the hunt" - a murder of crows, an ostentation of peacocks, a peep of chickens, an unkindness of ravens, a bouquet of pheasants - I came up with the following :

a scribble of writers
a storm of sneezes
a ladder of braids
a smudge of bifocals
an unraveling of sweaters
a squiggle of infants
a mischief of monkeys
a stat of numbers
a loosening of buttons
a snaggle of zippers
a dizziness of quilts
a frustration of dictionaries
a tease of masks
an insult of cell phones
a confusion of schedules
a tardiness of clocks
a mirage of dollars
a chaos of bills
a meanness of gossips
a dryness of crackers
a sturdiness of shoes
a flicker of shadows
a drift of dreams
a stutter of doubts
a flowering of bonnets
an order of plaids
a breathing of African violets
an inhalation of spices
a comfort of teas
a grit of sands
a tickle of feathers
a knot of noodles
a sliver of splinters
a comfort of snores
a collapse of bridges
a disappointment of locked doors
an embarking of train stations
a lightness of wallets
a deficit of compliments
a twitch of whiskers
a robbery of taxes
a bouquet of kisses
an avalanche of e-mails
a scrabble of vowels
a temptation of transgressions
a snivel of pities
a drizzle of sadness
a dismay of dentists
an indignity of betrayals
a brevity of snapshots
a breath of haiku
an indulgence of complaints
a satisfaction of soups
a taunt of Aprils
an embarrassment of typos
a blizzard of second thoughts
an illusion of failures
a deception of tofus
a promise of vitamins
a persistence of memories
a tearing of onions
a snuggle of kittens
a surprise of mornings
an appearance of mirrors
an awakening of bells
a relief of naps
a potential of buds
a burden of laundry
a gauze of clouds
a shame of dust balls
a luck of bamboo
a vagary of forgetfulness
a dylan of harmonicas
a pillow of laps
a justification of excuses
a clutch of pocketbooks
a skip of crocuses
a squirm of itches
an erasure of unworthiness
a blunting of pencils
a dreariness of regrets
an invitation of tambourines
a pucker of crab apples
a plodding of footsteps
an approximation of absolutes
a refreshment of mints
a humbling of apologies
an attentiveness of ears
a euphoria of euphoniums
an opportunity of Saturdays
a frivolity of sermons
a contradiction of proofs
a guess of jelly beans
a shyness of toes
a surprise of merry pranksters
a discomfort of parties
an excess of lists
a yawn of cats
an Everest of worries
a spite of grievances
a withholding of judgments
an oblivion of yesterdays
an indiscretion of parrots
a party of balloons
an abandonment of rules
a muffling of scarves
a formality of bow-ties
a parlor of tea pots
an abundance of apologies
a familiarity of sneakers
a return of pennies
a snickering of moustaches
a hopelessness of goldfish
a subjectivity of beauties
a farce of clowns
a practicality of jeans
a panic of tests
a nagging of grievances
a disappearance of mittens
a mending of socks
a delicacy of negotiations
an innuendo of malice
a celebration of bellies
a necessity of books
a whisper of snowflakes
a reach of starfish
an ecstasy of massages
an irritation of pearls
a derailment of plans
a regret of bad news
a letdown of expectations
a stretch of kites
a wave of goodbyes
a restlessness of crowds
a derangement of hormones
a consumption of jealousies
a tension of headaches
an avoidance of gurus
an expansion of hearts
a blessing of friends

Irene Zahava - February 10, 2006

Corporate Crime

The gigantic transfer of wealth to the wealthy continues. From commondreams:


The idea that the Skilling/Lay trial in Houston is the peak of the most recent "wave" of corporate crime is a fantasy.

The wave has not peaked.

And so we update that scene from the movie The Graduate where the older guy whispers into a young Dustin Hoffman the one word he believes is the future -- "plastics."

We look into our crystal ball and whisper into the ears of all young reporters, prosecutors, investors, and lawyers -- "corporate crime."

37 Million Americans Live in Poverty

Via commondreams, an article from the London Observer on poverty in the United States. What Democrat will stand up and take the mantle of Robert Kennedy, our last poverty fighter?

Observer (uk): 37 Million Poor Hidden in the Land of Plenty
Americans have always believed that hard work will bring rewards, but vast numbers now cannot meet their bills even with two or three jobs. More than one in 10 citizens live below the poverty line, and the gap between the haves and have-nots is widening

A shocking 37 million Americans live in poverty. That is 12.7 per cent of the population - the highest percentage in the developed world. They are found from the hills of Kentucky to Detroit's streets, from the Deep South of Louisiana to the heartland of Oklahoma. Each year since 2001 their number has grown.

Under President George W Bush an extra 5.4 million have slipped below the poverty line. Yet they are not a story of the unemployed or the destitute. Most have jobs. Many have two. Amos Lumpkins has work and his children go to school. But the economy, stripped of worker benefits like healthcare, is having trouble providing good wages.

Even families with two working parents are often one slice of bad luck - a medical bill or factory closure - away from disaster. The minimum wage of $5.15 (£2.95) an hour has not risen since 1997 and, adjusted for inflation, is at its lowest since 1956. The gap between the haves and the have-nots looms wider than ever. Faced with rising poverty rates, Bush's trillion-dollar federal budget recently raised massive amounts of defence spending for the war in Iraq and slashed billions from welfare programmes.

Sneaking In Tort Deform

It's an old Republican trick. Set minimum standards for safety (as in, this is the least you must do) and then hold that any manufacturer that does the very least is immune from suit, as though they had done all they could do to make consumers safe. The Bush Administration is a breeding ground filled with former industry executives and lobbyists, and they're writing all their favorite anti-consumer proposals into administrative law.

LA Times: Industries Get Quiet Protection From Lawsuits
Federal agencies are using arcane regulations and legal opinions to shield automakers and others from challenges by consumers and states.

[T]hrough arcane regulatory actions and legal opinions, the Bush administration is providing industries with an unprecedented degree of protection at the expense of an individual's right to sue and a state's right to regulate.

In other moves by the administration:

• The highway safety agency, a branch of the Department of Transportation, is backing auto industry efforts to stop California and other states from regulating tailpipe emissions they link to global warming. The agency said last summer that any such rule would be a backdoor attempt by states to encroach on federal authority to set mileage standards, and should be preempted.

• The Justice Department helped industry groups overturn a pollution-control rule in Southern California that would have required cleaner-running buses, garbage trucks and other fleet vehicles.

• The U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has repeatedly sided with national banks to fend off enforcement of consumer protection laws passed by California, New York and other states. The agency argued that it had sole authority to regulate national banks, preempting state restrictions.

• The Food and Drug Administration issued a legal opinion last month asserting that FDA-approved labels should give pharmaceutical firms broad immunity from most types of lawsuits. The agency previously had filed briefs seeking dismissal of various cases against drug companies and medical-device manufacturers.

In a letter to President Bush on Thursday, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said, "It appears that there may have been an administration-wide directive for agencies … to limit corporate liability through the rule-making process and without the consent of Congress."

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Comeback Trail

That's the Alan Smith we know and love:

Positive Smith already talking of speedy comeback

BARELY 24 HOURS AFTER suffering a terrible leg injury, Alan Smith was sitting up in his hospital bed yesterday afternoon telling his doctors and Manchester United team-mates that he will be back on a football pitch sooner than they think. No guarantees can be given at this stage, but the hope at Old Trafford is that the Yorkshireman’s spirit and bloody-mindedness will help him to make a full recovery.

Previous post:

Get Well Alan Smith

Get Well Alan Smith

This is how we want to see Alan Smith come back.

Alan Smith of Manchester United broke his leg at the end of yesterday's FA Cup match with Liverpool, a break so bad that most of the other players on the field couldn't stand to look at it. I've seen Smith live three times, in Chicago & New York on England's US Tour, and in Manchester last fall. He's a tenacious player who is never outworked. Hope he can use that attitude to recover from an injury which Sir Alex Ferguson said was one of the worst he's ever seen. He's going to miss the World Cup and will probably be out for a year.

Smith suffers horrific leg break

Soccer: Hope crumples on one bad break

Smith career not under threat

We Paid for Cheney to Shoot Whittington

Private hunting trip, my ass:

WaPo: Hunting for Camaraderie With Shotguns and Friends
Companions Say Pastime Gives Cheney a Timeout

While Cheney pays any hunting fees or lodging expenses if charged, taxpayers invariably pick up much of the cost of Cheney's hunting hobby. As with his predecessors, the government pays for Secret Service agents, military aides and the rest of the entourage that travels with vice presidents wherever they go, as well as the expense of Air Force Two. But it is not clear how much that costs. The budget lists $1 million for the vice president's annual travel, including his official duties, but the figure is rounded to the nearest million, according to the Center for Public Integrity.