Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Real Bush Doctrine

Torture R'US

HuffPo: Maverick Senators Cave in to The Torture President

Unclaimed Territory: America to legalize torture (this leads to a article, you have to watch an ad to get through, but it's worth it(


Dempsey Wants Premier League

Clint Dempsey wants desperately to go play in England. Why not? He's not going anywhere playing in a low-level league like MLS, and Bob Kraft is paying him $75,000 a year. Go Clint and good luck to ya.


AMERICA'S most controversial footballer Clint Dempsey is destined for the Premiership after rejecting a new contract in the MLS.

The New England Revolution midfielder, a former target for West Ham and Charlton, plans to quit the States in January before his deal expires next summer.

And the Premiership is bracing itself for plenty of outrageous behaviour from the colourful star, who grew up in a Texas trailer park and was suspended in March for attacking Revolution captain Joe Franchino in training.

"England is a great country to play in and I want to leave MLS," said Dempsey, 23.

"Teams abroad are willing to pay me 10 times more money and I don't want to be here.

There is no way I am staying in the MLS."

Getting Away With It

Reuters: French paper says bin Laden died in Pakistan

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Eat Locally

Looks like a factory to me. Without a union. {Original caption: Fields of greens in California near Natural Selection Foods, which has been implicated in the outbreak.} (Peter DaSilva for The New York Times)

E coli in spinach? Weird, huh? It's all about the corporate farming. It's cheaper to feed cows grain than let them graze on open fields. On their crappy diet, lowering acidity in their stomachs, E coli flourishes. Instead of taking up space on land that can be turned into McMansions, cows are penned cheek to jowl in feedlots, which generate huge amounts of manure: poop. Poop is left in great open ponds that flood when it rains, sending E coli out into the world. So now even your spinach is suspect.

DailyKos: The Poop on Spinach

Starting a few decades ago, Americans outsmarted Mother Nature. We switched our cows' diets from grass and hay to grain. Eating grain isn't particularly good for the cows, but together with antibiotics and hormones, we can house them in feedlots, fatten them up, and slaughter them quicker than if we had let them graze at their own speed in a pasture. Mother Nature, it would seem, is anti-business.

The new diet changed the acidity in cows' digestive tracts and the close living quarters led to a lot of cows and a lot of poop living side by side. That's when the new strain of E. coli, O157:H7, came on the scene. When cows eat grass, the acidity in their digestive tracts usually kills the bacteria, but grain fed cows' tummies do not.

So the mere fact that E. coli O157:H7 got into the water at all is a result of our need for cheap feedlot beef - and one could take it a step further in exploring the interconnectedness of the food system, because cheap feedlot beef is possible due to cheap corn, soy, oilseed, and other commodities, subsidized by government policies that encourage high production and rock bottom prices. Those policies hurt the farmers who produce the commodities (corn, soy, wheat, etc), but they provide an incentive to anyone who wants to use the commodities as cheap inputs for their products - such as feedlot beef.

So many cows in such a small space contaminated the water that presumably flooded the spinach fields. This was the 20th such epidemic linked to lettuce and spinach from Monterey County in the past decade. The outbreaks have caused over 400 sicknesses and 2 deaths. The current epidemic was also felt economically by everyone from growers to farm workers, truckers, packagers, restaurants, grocers, and more.

The LA Times gives us the scope of the problem, without ever mentioning the important connection between corporate farming methods (grain vs. grazing) and its contribution to the E coli outbreaks:

LATimes: E. Coli Pervades Harvest Area
Salinas Valley waterways are known to carry the bacteria that poisoned at least 145 people and killed one who ate tainted spinach.

There IS Such a Thing As Bad Publicity

And Senator George Felix Allen has ably proved that in the last week.

After he freaked out about being asked by his Jewish heritage in a debate, he's lurched from awkward moment to awkward moment. Or did every recent person who discovered Jewish ancestry start talking about pork?

Today's news is that the Allen family now claim that Allen only learned of his Jewish heritage last month, although he has known for decades that his grandfather had been imprisoned by the Nazis during WWII. And that his mother swore him to secrecy, which I guess would explain why he said this week: "My mother's French-Italian with a little Spanish blood in her. And I was raised as she was, as far as I know, raised as a Christian."

Convenient, his mother swearing him to secrecy. I'm just saying.

ThinkProgress: Allen continues effort to downplay his Jewish heritage.

“I still had a ham sandwich for lunch. And my mother made great pork chops,”
Sen. George Allen (R-VA) said yesterday, explaining how news that his grandfather was Jewish is “just an interesting nuance to my background.”
ABC News: Allen Campaign Hits Another Awkward Moment
This Time It's a Question About His Jewish Ancestry That Roils His Virginia Senate Race

WaPo today: Allen's Mother Revealed Jewish Heritage to Him Last Month

My favorite blog headline on the matter is from Majikthise: George Allen, self-hating Jew

Iraq is FUBAR

A must-read article from yesterday's LATimes, the personal story of a reporter who lives in Baghdad and has for over 20 years. He is so frightened he writes this story for his own newspaper under a pseudonym. This is what the Bush Doctrine has wrought.

No One Dares to Help
The wounded die alone on Baghdad's streets. An offer of aid could be your own death sentence, an Iraqi reporter writes.

Fear dictates everything we do.

I see my neighbors less and less. When I go out, I say hello and that's it. I fear someone will ask questions about my job working for Americans, which could put me in danger. Even if he had no ill will toward me, he might talk and reveal an identifying detail. We're afraid of an enemy among us. Someone we don't know. It's a cancer.

In March, assassinations started in our neighborhood. Early one evening, I was sitting in my garden with my wife when we heard several gunshots. I rushed to the gate to see what was going on, despite my wife's pleas to stay inside. My neighbors told me that gunmen had dropped three men from a car and shot them in the street before driving off. No one dared approach the victims to find out who they were.

The bodies remained there until the next morning. The police or the American military probably picked them up, but I don't know. They simply disappeared.

The sounds of shootings and explosions are now commonplace. We don't know who is shooting whom, or who has been targeted. We don't know why, and we're afraid to ask or help. We too could get shot. Bringing someone to the hospital or to the police is out of the question. Nobody trusts the police, and nobody wants to answer questions.

I feel sad, bitter and frustrated — sad because a human life is now worth nothing in this country; bitter because people no longer help each other; and frustrated because I can't help either. If I'm targeted one day, I'm sure no one will help me.

Katrina Update

Mud and debris covers the perimeter of St. Rita's nursing home in Chalmette, La., in this 2005 file photo. (AP Photo/Steve Senne, FILE)

The owners of the St. Rita's nursing home, where 35 patients died during Hurricane Katrina, have been indicted on charges of negligent homicide and cruelty to the infirm.

This is just sad. Government failed everyone, yet the private citizens who made poor decisions are prosecuted. Why not charge George W. Bush with murder for the failure of the levees? Mayor Nagin with murder for failing to order mandatory evacuation, or for ignoring New Orleans' disaster plan? Only the little people pay.

AP: New Orleans nursing home owners indicted

First Draft: St. Rita's Nursing Home Owners Indicted

Sweeney Dirty: Is It a Twofer?

Yesterday Congressman Blutarsky, a/k/a John Sweeney, Republican who currently represents the NY-20 district, was named one of the most corrupt membrs of Congress by CREW, the Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington.

On the same day, the Albany Times-Union, the largest newspaper in the district, announced that it had discovered and banned a "sock puppet" from its politics blog, Capitol Confidential. A sock puppet in modern usage is one internet user who posts under separate identities as though more than one person is speaking. This sock puppet went so far as to compliment a posting by its alter ego. Wanna bet it was someone supporting John Sweeney? I'll make that bet. Links below.

CREW: The 20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress

Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY)

John Sweeney is a fourth-term Congressman representing the 20th district of New York. His ethics issues stem from a ski trip to New York, the exchange of legislative assistance for campaign contributions and the hiring of his wife as a campaign fundraiser.

Misuse of public funds to pay for a trip to New York

Rep. Sweeney invited 53 people to join him from January 6-9, 2006, for a “Congressional Winter Challenge” at the Lake Placid Olympic facilities. There, Rep. Sweeney and his guests enjoyed pretending to be Olympic athletes by participating in events including skiing, bobsledding and hockey, all paid for with New York taxpayer dollars. The trip appears to violate several provisions of the House gift and travel rules, including the prohibition on recreational travel.

Relationship with National Marine Manufacturers Association

In May 2006, Rep. Sweeney introduced the Boating Safety Tax Incentive Act, legislation that the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) strongly supported and even helped draft, allowing boat manufacturers to supply new boats with free safety equipment, including up-to-date lifejackets, in exchange for a tax deduction. In apparent exchange, NMMA’s PAC has supported Rep. Sweeney and contributed to his campaign committee for the past three years. In the 2006 election cycle alone, NMMA donated $4,500 to Rep. Sweeney, making him the third highest recipient of contributions from NMMA’s PAC. Additionally, NMMA has hosted fundraisers for Rep. Sweeney on its luxurious yacht, raising a total of $12,150. If Rep. Sweeney received campaign donations in return for campaign contributions he may have violated federal bribery and honest services fraud as well as violated House rules.

Employment of Spouse Gayle Ford

Rep. Sweeney has hired his wife’s firm to fundraise for his campaign, despite the fact that she has no fundraising experience and appears to have no other clients. She receives a 10% commission on the money she brings in, the campaign paid her $42,570 during the 2004-2005 election cycle, and as of April 2006, she received $30,879 for the current election cycle. Notably, records show that Rep. Sweeney has had a fundraising consultant on monthly retainer since June of 2004, who is paid $8,583 a month. The facts suggest that Rep. Sweeney is converting campaign funds to personal use in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act and House rules.

Son Avoids Jail

Rep. Sweeney’s son, John, brutally beat another teenager, but avoided jail for his offense. The ethics committee should investigate whether the young man received special treatment because of his father’s position in violation of House rules.

The Nation: Congress's Most Corrupt

Highlights include .... New York Rep. John Sweeney (news, bio, voting record), who a few months back showed up drunk to a local frat party, threw a taxpayer funded Winter sporting weekend and hired his wife as a fundraiser even though she had no previous fundraising experience;

Times Union 'Capitol Confidential' Blog: Sock Puppets and Ethics

If you haven’t read our “rules of engagement” in a while, we’ve added a new policy:

The use of multiple identities (aka “sock puppets”) on this blog is not permitted.

We’ve also included a link to a Wikipedia item that offers a fuller explanation of these aliases.

This policy was sparked by the admitted use of multiple identities by a visitor to this blog. We discovered this rather by accident, and at a time when he happened to post a comment referring to his other identity - somewhat glowingly, no less - as if it was a different person.

That’s clearly deceptive and unethical.


Editor’s Note: The individual has been blocked from the site (to the best of our ability).

First Round: Anucha Browne Sanders 1, Knicks/Isiah Thomas 0

The EEOC, the federal administrative agency that enforces employment law, has found "probable cause" to believe Anucha Browne Sanders was sexually harassed by Isiah Thomas, and that the New York Knicks retaliated against her by firing her when she complained.

Under Title VII, the federal employment law, and under New York State law, a plaintiff is required to present her claims at the agency level first prior to going to court. Because of the very short time limits to file employment cases, her case is also filed in federal court, and according to these articles settlement discussions have been initiated there.

The probable cause finding by the EEOC is admissible in court, but that doesn't mean that the case is over, or that Sanders will necessarily win at trial. At trial it is just another piece of evidence in her favor.

This is the result I expected, as Browne Sanders is a respected professional with years of accomplishments on her resume, and she has one of the best plaintiff's employment law firms in New York City representing her. They wouldn't have taken her claim if it wasn't a winner. However, the EEOC doesn't always get it right; the agency has been under attack from within for years, as the Bush Administration has choked off funds and prefers the agency to bring cases for whites claiming reverse discrimination. So it is a victory for her to get this ruling.

It will be interesting to see if the Knicks continue to take this hard stand, or if they face reality and put some real money on the table. They can take this to trial, but they'll lose. Isiah Thomas hasn't had a winner since he left the court for the Detroit Pistons. He destroyed the CBA, tried to destroy the Indiana Pacers (he was interrupted from the mission when GM Larry Bird fired his ass), and is in the process of destroying the New York Knicks. You've got to have a big ego to fire Larry Brown.

NYTimes: [EEOC] Report Supports Claims in Suit Against Thomas

The commission’s investigation supported Browne Sanders’s contention that she had been a victim of more than one incident of harassment and that “she was subjected to a hostile work environment including, but not limited to, severe and pervasive verbal sexual harassment.”

The determination, by Spencer H. Lewis Jr., the district director of the [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission]’s New York office, said the Garden had failed to take “reasonable care to prevent or correct discrimination and harassment in the workplace.”

Lewis made his determination last Friday, and it was released yesterday. His two-page letter did not describe the scope of the commission’s investigation or name witnesses.

Lewis found that the commission’s inquiry supported Browne Sanders’s contention that the Garden had fired her in retaliation for reporting her claims to her supervisors. Lewis also wrote that there was probable cause to believe the Garden violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Garden, but not Thomas, was the subject named in the commission’s investigation.

NYDaily News: Ruling supports accuser's suit

Newsday: Point for MSG accuser
Agency affirms executive's claim she was harassed, fired for complaining and clears way for settlement talks

SI: Mess at MSG
EEOC: Evidence supports Knicks exec's claims

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

In The News Today, Oh Boy

Sen. George Allen's, R-Va., black cowboy boots, left, are a contrast to Democrat Jim Webb's combat boots as the two appear for their first debate Sunday, Sept. 17, 2006, on NBC's 'Meet the Press' in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)[Actually, Webb's boots are the combat boots of his son Jimmy, 24, a lance corporal in the Marines, who shipped out to Iraq this month.]

Maybe I should be looking at real estate further north, like at the North Pole. Billmon discusses British scientist's James Lovelocks predictions that within 10 to 20 years, irreversable climate change will raise global temperatures by 10 degrees: And People Call Me a Pessimist

You know that Canadian citizen, completely innocent, that we tortured? He confessed to attending training camps in Afghanistan, even though he'd never been there. Yeah we need more bogus intelligence like that. Glenn Greenwald, The fruits of the President's interrogation policies

Senator Macaca, George Allen, freaked out when a reporter asked him about reports that his mother is Jewish (which would make him Jewish). I guess he was hoping it didn't come out: Allen's efforts to hide his Jewish roots

Gee, I can't imagine why women don't report sexual harassment in the workplace, when employers are so committed to stopping it. Like our government. In today's Washington Post, we read the story of a 22 year old woman who's been arrested for failing to report for a second tour in Iraq after she reported sexual harassment by her superiors. And in contrast, the story of how the U.S. Postal Service's public affairs chief, accused of sexual harassment by several subordinates, went on a 4-month paid vacation. And now says he is due another 2 months of paid vacation.

More not-news-to-those-of-us-of-the-female-persuasion: Report finds bias keeping women out of science jobs; Academia urged to tackle gap in faculty numbers

And the creepiest news story of the day: that the US intends to nuke Iran's nuclear facilities, then lie about it and say we didn't use nukes. Any radiation is from the facilities we bombed. Scariest of all: I believe George W. Bush and Dick Cheney capable of this.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Incompetence, The Corruption, The Cronyism in Iraq: A Story That Comes Three Years To Late From the InBed Media

U.S. troops relax in Baghdad's Green Zone, where many Coalition Provisional Authority staffers spent their days.
Photo Credit: 2003 Photo By Marco Di Lauro -- Getty Images Photo

The foxes fouled the henhouse! Who'da thunk it?

Early U.S. Missteps in the Green Zone
Ties to GOP Trumped Know-How Among Staff Sent to Rebuild Iraq

After the fall of Saddam Hussein's government in April 2003, the opportunity to participate in the U.S.-led effort to reconstruct Iraq attracted all manner of Americans -- restless professionals, Arabic-speaking academics, development specialists and war-zone adventurers. But before they could go to Baghdad, they had to get past Jim O'Beirne's office in the Pentagon.

To pass muster with O'Beirne, a political appointee who screens prospective political appointees for Defense Department posts, applicants didn't need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What seemed most important was loyalty to the Bush administration.

O'Beirne's staff posed blunt questions to some candidates about domestic politics: Did you vote for George W. Bush in 2000? Do you support the way the president is fighting the war on terror? Two people who sought jobs with the U.S. occupation authority said they were even asked their views on Roe v. Wade .

Many of those chosen by O'Beirne's office to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq's government from April 2003 to June 2004, lacked vital skills and experience. A 24-year-old who had never worked in finance -- but had applied for a White House job -- was sent to reopen Baghdad's stock exchange. The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, even though they didn't have a background in accounting.

The decision to send the loyal and the willing instead of the best and the brightest is now regarded by many people involved in the 3 1/2 -year effort to stabilize and rebuild Iraq as one of the Bush administration's gravest errors. Many of those selected because of their political fidelity spent their time trying to impose a conservative agenda on the postwar occupation, which sidetracked more important reconstruction efforts and squandered goodwill among the Iraqi people, according to many people who participated in the reconstruction effort.

The CPA had the power to enact laws, print currency, collect taxes, deploy police and spend Iraq's oil revenue. It had more than 1,500 employees in Baghdad at its height, working under America's viceroy in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, but never released a public roster of its entire staff.

Interviews with scores of former CPA personnel over the past two years depict an organization that was dominated -- and ultimately hobbled -- by administration ideologues.

It took the Washington Post and the rest of the corporate media three years to report on what was happening in the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq? It's not like it was boots-on-the-ground in-the-trenches work. These guys were sitting at desks squandering taxpayer funds, while the corporate media was covering bullshit terror alerts as though they were real. Which they still do.

I'll be impressed when the Post or some other organ of the Mighty Wurlitzer reports truthfully about how the Bushies are getting ready to do it again in Iran. Second verse, same as the first.

Clueless Dems

Why would anyone ever vote for these pusillanimous posers?

Submitted for your consideration, statements by two of the Democrats vying for the 2008 Presidential nod:

1. Evan Bayh (rhymes with 'sigh')

Quote of the Day
"I'm concerned that we not come across as whiners and that kind of thing, like a bunch of wimps who say mean old Karl Rove is on us again."

-- Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), quoted by the AP, about the Democratic party.

(Political Wire, via Suburban Guerrilla)

Ahhh....fighting for self-control, failing miserably.....note to Evan, you're supposed to trash THE OPPOSING PARTY, not YOUR OWN. Moron.

2. John Kerry

And today's "Shut the Fuck Up and Go Away" award goes to

...Senator John Forbes Kerry of Massachusetts, who, having allowed an unpopular president and a bunch of psychotic liars to kick the shit out of him in 2004 and then running home with his tail between his legs before the votes were even counted in Ohio (but not before stuffing his pockets with $14 million in leftover campaign cash), is now talking tough -- when it doesn't matter:

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) doesn't believe that Hillary Clinton has the inside track on the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination and says he would vigorously defend himself against new attacks by the Swift Boat team, according to an interview with The Examiner.

"I’m prepared to kick their ass from one end of America to the other," said Kerry, in a strong hint that he intends to run for president once again.

Typical of Kerry, too little, too late. If you want to vote for a Democrat who'll fight for your votes in Massachusetts, vote for John Bonifaz for Secretary of State on Tuesday. While John Kerry was running home with his campaign war chest, John Bonifaz bought a plane ticket to Ohio and fought there for a year to have all Kerry's votes counted.