Saturday, March 03, 2007

Walter Reed Has a Privatization Problem

Now we're getting to the real story behind the scandal at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The Cheney Administration privatized support services there by giving a $120 million contract to IAP Worldwide Services, a company headed by a former Halliburton official, Al Neffgen. Neffgen was in charge of KBR, the Halliburton subsidiary, when they were charged with overcharging the government for fuel in Iraq.

IAP World Services replaced 300 federal employees at Walter Reed (Pdf link) with -- get this -- 50 workers. So Dick Cheney's pal makes millions and our wounded soldiers lie in their own urine. Also on the board of IAP Worldwide is Dan Quayle. Former Treasury Secretary John Snow is chair of the New York hedge fund that owns IAP Worldwide. The President of IAP Worldwide is named Dave Swindle. I kid you not. IAP also charged the US $200 million for ice after Hurricane Katrina. Cheney's pals make millions and our soldiers lie in their own urine. The story of the Bush Administration in one demonstrative anecdote.

dailykos: What's behind the conditions at Walter Reed? Privatization.

ABC, The Blotter: Waxman to Force Walter Reed Ex-Chief to Talk About Problems, Contract Walter Reed Got "Swindled" Walter Reed and Privatization - A Chronology of Shame

That Must Be Some Coffee Can!

This paragraph leaped out at me from an article in today's Boston Globe:

DiCenso pleaded not guilty yesterday to a host of drug and weapons charges in Chelsea District Court. Police said the raid at his house on Thursday netted 1.5 kilograms of cocaine, enough for 53 single-ounce sales, stashed in a can filled with coffee grounds, two machine guns, three handguns, and a thick wad of cash.

Must have been one of those industrial size cans. Machine gun sized. Ah, the lost art of punctuation.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Panda Pile

Panda cubs born in 2006 play at the China Wolong Giant Panda Research Center, southwest China's Sichuan province, in this November 7, 2006 file photo. The Center, where 11 residential giant pandas gave birth to 18 cubs from July to September 2006, is soliciting names from the public for all 18 cubs, local media reported on January 24, 2007. CHINA OUT REUTERS/China Daily (CHINA)

Sports News Updates

TOTALLY UNRELATED PHOTO: Jan Christensen's "Relative Value" on display at the MGM Gallery in Oslo. The painting featuring 16,311 dollars (12,400 euros) of banknotes glued to a canvas proved too tempting to thieves, who made off with it at the weekend.(AFP/Scapix/File)

Here are some updates on some wildly disparate sports stories we've followed here:

Jen Harris settled her case against Penn State and their lesbian-hating coach Rene the Weenie Portland. Terms were not disclosed, although Harris's lawyer said in a separate statement that Penn State would be taking steps to "further protect all students who have experienced discriminatory treatment". Read opinions on the settlement here, here, and here. As a veteran of many sexual harassment claims, I'm sure Penn State had dug up enough dirt on Harris that she didn't want to go to trial and be embarrassed. Even though Rene Portland probably knew none of it when she kicked Harris off the team for being a lesbian, courts have routinely allowed defendants to embarrass victims of sexual harassment in this situation. I hope the kid got a bucketload of money.

Ranger dancer Courtney Prince won a victory in her sexual harassment lawsuit against the New York Rangers. She will be given all paperwork generated by the Rangers in their internal investigation of her claims, and their investigation of five other claims, including the claim by Anucha Browne Sanders .

Liverpool's Welsh firebrand Craig Bellamy tells the truth about him teeing off against John Arne-Riise before their ChampionsLeague clash with Barcelona last week. Yup, he threatened his teammate with a golf club. Idiota.

Despite more and more national attention to his case, Genarlow Wilson still rots in jail in Georgia. The Georgia state senate has voted the bill that would allow his case to be reviewed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, but they are on a two week recess.

"Paid For By Al Sharpton's Family"

Darth Cheney traveled in style to and from Pakistan this week. The name of the C-17 military transport in which he traveled is "The Spirit of Strom Thurmond."

Given this week's news that Thurmond's family owned members of Sharpton's family, shouldn't the plane be re-christened, "Paid For By Al Sharpton's Family". Or at least have that added as a coda to the name?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Run, Ricky, Run

Mike Richter is attending Yale University with an undergraduate major in ethics, politics and economics.
Brad Barket/Getty Images

More news on the possible Richter run for Congress. I have to say, Richter is one of the most competitive people I've ever met. I'd love to see him battling it out in a Congressional race.

SwingStateProject: CT-04: Richter Scale Rising (note, I believe they are using the wicked awesome pic of Mike I dug up!)

AP via MSNBC: Ex-Rangers goalie Richter to run for Congress?
'Hockey background could actually be an attraction to some voters here'

Richter worked last year for U.S. Rep. John Hall, a Democrat and former musician who upset six-term incumbent Republican Sue Kelly in upstate New York. Richter helped Hall, who opposed the Iraq war, win over police officers, fire fighters and other constituents who might not have otherwise voted for him, said Tom Staudter, Hall's spokesman.

"He was hugely popular," Staudter said, describing Richter as bright and friendly. "He'll be great."

In a sign of his status, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani named his dog "Goalie" after Richter.

Richter said Wednesday that he did not want to discuss his positions on the war and other issues because he hasn't decided whether to run. He would not comment on the likelihood that he would challenge Shays, noting that he must consider the needs of his wife and three young sons.

Richter, who does not live in the district, is attending Yale University with an undergraduate major in ethics, politics and economics. State law allows legal Connecticut residents to run for federal office in districts even if they do not live there.

The 4th Congressional District has 120,000 Democrats, 102,000 Republicans and 148,000 unaffiliated voters and includes the nation's wealthiest towns as well as Bridgeport, a largely impoverished city that is the largest in Connecticut.

Wikipedia: Mike Richter

"Heckuva Job" Kiley Promoted

Only in Bushworld. Lt. General Kevin Kiley, who allowed an injured soldier to sleep in his own urine -- after a Congressman's wife went to his office to tell him about it -- has been promoted to be top administrator of Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Kevin, you're doin' a heckuva job. Heh heh heh.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Role of Captain Renault Will Be Played by Walter Reed Commander Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley

Captain Renault, memorably played by Claude Rains in Casablanca, says during a gambling raid: "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!" Lt. Gen. Kiley has gone on all the TV shows this week claiming not only that he did not know about the problems unearthed by the Washington Post investigation, but that they did not exist or were being exaggerated by the media. Here are your winnings, sir.

WaPo: Hospital Officials Knew of Neglect
Complaints About Walter Reed Were Voiced for Years

Top officials at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, including the Army's surgeon general, have heard complaints about outpatient neglect from family members, veterans groups and members of Congress for more than three years.

A procession of Pentagon and Walter Reed officials expressed surprise last week about the living conditions and bureaucratic nightmares faced by wounded soldiers staying at the D.C. medical facility. But as far back as 2003, the commander of Walter Reed, Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, who is now the Army's top medical officer, was told that soldiers who were wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan were languishing and lost on the grounds, according to interviews.


Kiley lives across the street from Building 18. From his quarters, he can see the scrappy building and busy traffic the soldiers must cross to get to the 113-acre post. At a news conference last week, Kiley, who declined several requests for interviews for this article, said that the problems of Building 18 "weren't serious and there weren't a lot of them." He also said they were not "emblematic of a process of Walter Reed that has abandoned soldiers and their families."

But according to interviews, Kiley, his successive commanders at Walter Reed and various top noncommissioned officers in charge of soldiers' lives have heard a stream of complaints about outpatient treatment over the past several years. The complaints have surfaced at town hall meetings for staff and soldiers, at commanders' "sensing sessions" in which soldiers or officers are encouraged to speak freely, and in several inspector general's reports detailing building conditions, safety issues and other matters.

Bushco to Wounded Troops: Shut Up and Salute

MSNBC: One Way to Stop the Bad News at Walter Reed (quoting the Army Times)

DoD Cracks Down on Walter Reed Media Coverage

Soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Medical Hold Unit say they have been told they will wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and have their rooms ready for inspection at 7 a.m., and that they must not speak to the media.

“Some soldiers believe this is a form of punishment for the trouble soldiers caused by talking to the media,” one Medical Hold Unit soldier said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Soldiers say their sergeant major gathered troops at 6 p.m. Monday to tell them they must follow their chain of command when asking for help with their medical evaluation paperwork, or when they spot mold, mice or other problems in their quarters.

There's a New Bard in Town

Steve Gilliard's NewsBlog: LowerManhattanite: "Political Masturbation Theatre Presents: William Shakespeare's 'Obamo'"

This is just the opening. Go quickly, and read the whole, forsooth!

(Curtain rises on a smoke-filled, oak-lined study. In it stands OBAMO, a noble Moorish/Amfrerican, newly chosen to the Senate and HILLAMONA, a proud, steely blonde of noble lineage, also to the Senate selected. They are at opposite ends of the room—brooding in smoldering silence. The tension between them could be cut with a plastic spoon/fork hybrid {“spork”}. Hillamona wheels on Obamo suddenly with fire dancing in her eyes)

HILLAMONA: (Flushed and holding her throat as if just choked) Varlet! You sought to steal the air from my lungs—my campaign’s very lungs!

OBAMO; You drape your anger ‘pon a hook in the wrong man’s castle. T’was not I, Hillamona—your quarrel lay with King David of the Western Hills. Yet you assail me.

HILLAMONA: He mouths words as thy proxy, Obamo—deny it not, for you know it to be true.

OBAMO: He is his own man. I do not control him.

Best wishes to Steve Gilliard who is in the hospital facing open heart surgery. F*** the f****** Yankees (Steve's rallying cry) and get well soon.

If We Lived in Iraq

Welcome to Pottersville: Imagine

Cities like New York, Los Angeles and Dallas have only 4 hours of electricity a day while a provisional puppet government is set up seemingly with the sole mission of enriching the occupying nation’s private industry. Cheap and unqualified labor is smuggled in from the Philippines and elsewhere while Americans are starving in the streets.

37.5 million Americans are now on a food subsistence program. Think of 37,500,000 of our citizens on food stamps. 750 Americans are killed violently each day from wartime activities, with 255,000 more injured every year. This doesn’t include a dramatic spike in deaths from “natural causes” related to the effects of war, such as cholera from open sewers in American streets, cancer from depleted uranium shells from a previous war. And, of course, the non-fatal casualties can only be tabulated by hospitals counting actual admissions. The problem with this is that there aren’t enough hospitals to go around so many injuries go untreated.

Americans are forced to flee at the rate of 15,000,000 a year. We’re streaming into Canada, Mexico, even Cuba, whoever will take us. Give us your poor huddled masses? That was a quaint notion once in America but now no one wants us, least of all the brobdingnagian superpower that’s primarily responsible for our peoples’ mass displacement.

The New York Times and Washington Post’s offices are bombed and approximately 150 of our journalists are targeted for death every year.

Click the link and read the whole thing.

In The Richest Country In The World

There is no such thing as compassionate conservatism. Consider:

A little boy in Maryland died this weekend after an infection from a rotted tooth spread to his brain. His mother couldn't afford the $80 to have it pulled, and they couldn't find a dentist to take their Medicaid; then they lost their Medicaid coverage.

And that occurred under Bush's previous budget; his next budget would throw 6,000 kids in New Hampshire alone off the Medicaid program (but we must keep those tax cuts for millionaires.)

A young couple lose their jobs in Northern Virginia, and within months they are homeless.

Under the misadministration of George W. Bush, the numbers of people living in severe poverty (defined as an individual with an income of less than roughly $5,000 per year, or a family with an income of less than $10,000 per year) have grown by 25% to 16,000,000 people (16 million).

More Mike Richter Rumors

He's wicked smart, high name recognition, and would do well with the demographic that Democrats sometimes have a hard time with, the blue collar male. You can't get much more blue collar than a hockey fan. Hey, I can say that, I'm a hockey fan.

SwingStateProject: CT-04: More Richter Rumblings

According to the Yale Daily News, CT State Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo has confirmed earlier rumors that former New York Rangers superstar Mike Richter is considering a run against frequently embattled Republican Rep. Chris Shays in Connecticut's 4th district.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Hamm, Foudy Elected to Soccer Hall of Fame; Fawcett Inexplicably Falls Short (Updated)

As in this picture, Hamm, Foudy & Fawcett should be going in to the Hall together

Hall of Fame Magazine: Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy Elected To National Soccer Hall Of Fame
First Ever Women-Only Induction Class

Four idiots didn't even vote for Mia Hamm. Jeez. That means 23 drooling morons didn't vote for Julie Foudy, the woman who captained the team to World Cup and Olympic gold glory (no US man in the Hall can claim either). And 46 knuckle-dragging ignoramuses didn't vote for Joy Fawcett, the best defender in the history of the US national team. Sheesh.

The top ten on the 2007 Hall of Fame Players' Ballot were:

Mia Hamm 137 Votes 97.16%
Julie Foudy 118 83.69%
Joy Fawcett 95 67.38%
Marco Etcheverry 82 58.16%
Thomas Dooley 73 51.77%
Joe-Max Moore 73 48.23%
Carlos Valderrama 68 48.23%
Peter Vermes 44 31.21%
Peter Nowak 40 28.37%
Mauricio Cienfuegos 35 24.82%

Joy Fawcett is the most-capped defender in the history of US soccer (male or female) with 239 appearances in the national team shirt; she scored 27 goals, which puts her at #13 on the US women's all-time list. If she were a man her 27 goals would put her #3 on the US men's all-time scoring list.

On the men's side, Cobi Jones leads all players with 164 appearances; Fawcett has 75 more AND SHE HAD THREE CHILDREN DURING HER CAREER, which certainly lowered her appearance total. Jeff Agoos leads defenders in caps with 134; he scored 4 goals. Marcelo Balboa comes after Agoos on the all-time men's list with 128 appearances and 13 goals. And here's the fact that proves my point. Marcelo Balboa, 128/13, was elected to the Soccer Hall of Fame on the first ballot.

Joy Fawcett isn't a first-ballot Hall of Famer with 239 appearances and 27 goals? A man gets in on the first ballot with less than half the goals? With almost half the appearances? And the woman who has twice as many is excluded? Sexism rules the Hall voters, clearly.

Hey, even ESPN (which hates soccer) agrees with me:

Andrea Canales, ESPN: Fawcett's exclusion a mistake

Although Fawcett usually maintained a low profile, her importance to the U.S. team during her playing days was obvious in one startling statistic -- she played every minute of every U.S. match in the last three World Cups and the last three Olympics.

Although in many ways Fawcett was an anchor to the squad, she also pulled off a regular disappearing act, leaving the squad regularly to have children. At a time when many female players put off having a family, fearful that the return to top form would be too difficult given the time off and the physical transformation involved, Fawcett gave birth to three girls, Katelyn Rose, Carli Jean and Madilyn Rae.

After each child, she fought her way back into the lineup by regaining her fitness through tough training, even when it meant her babies logged numerous miles in racing strollers.

If not for the time off involved with her pregnancies and recovery, Fawcett would no doubt be higher on the list of all-time caps for the U.S. women's team. As it is, she sits in fourth place with 239, behind only Kristine Lilly, Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy.

Fawcett also remains one of the squad's most accomplished two-way players, a defender with great ball control who could contribute to the attack. Her 27 goals and 23 assists in her career attest to her productivity at putting the ball in the net for her team rather than just keeping the ball out against opponents.

ESPN: Hamm and Foudy to be inducted into Hall of Fame

Orange County Register: Foudy named to soccer hall of fame

Monsters & Critics (uk): Hamm, Foudy voted into National Soccer Hall of Fame

Update: More articles

WaPo: Hamm and Foudy Have A Hall Pass Waiting

NYTimes: For Two Pioneers, Journey Ends at the Hall of Fame

LATimes: Hamm, Foudy join select group
Former stars of U.S. women's national team will be inducted Aug. 26

Point - Counterpoint

Not smart cookies

Laura Bush on CNN with Larry King last night:

Many parts of Iraq are stable now. But, uh, of course, what we see on television is the one bombing a day that discourages everyone.

Dick Cheney in Pakistan today:

A suicide bomber attacked the entrance to the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan on Tuesday during a visit by Vice President Dick Cheney, killing up to 23 people and wounding 20. The Taliban claimed responsibility and said Cheney, who was unharmed, was the target.

Discouraging, indeed.

A Final Tribute to DJ

I was talking to my brother last night and we agreed that no one should ever be judged or remembered solely for the worst 10 minutes of their life. (I bet some nasty image of yourself just flashed through your head as you read that sentence.) So we'll remember DJ lumbering down the court, throwing those blind passes to Larry, and smiling his loopy smile. Putting the hurt on the Boston Strangler, Andrew Toney. In Magic Johnson's face. Laughing at Danny Ainge. Larry stole the ball, but DJ ran half the court to lay it in. RIP

Bob Ryan, Boston Globe (a few days late in my estimation): There was nobody like DJ

J.A. Adande, LATimes: Dennis Johnson played to win
The height of athletic achievement is to be at your best when it matters most, and he did.

Portsmouth Herald: D.J. was everybody's Celtic Johnson Remembered at Memorial Service

Daily Breeze: Commentary: Johnson's coaches recall his rags-to-riches story
Harbor's White and Pepperdine's Colson were fond of their instinctive former pupil -- one of the best NBA players not in the Hall of Fame.

Hartford Courant: NBA: D.J. Had Winning Touch

Peter (The Lesser) Vecsey, NYPost:
SHAME ON SONICS FOR NOT RETIRING D.J.'S NUMBER Johnson Grew Into A Man Few Anticipated

Monday, February 26, 2007

Just For Laughs

Monty Python - Philosophers' World Cup

Another gift from Who Ate All The Pies?

Has Ronaldhino Gone to Seed? You Make the Call

Indisputable evidence that Ronaldinho is following in the footsteps of Ronaldo. (First pic taken in November 2003, the second after Liverpool's 2-1 win last Wednesday.) He must have put on at least a stone of fat in that time. Is this what happens when you believe your own hype? [Who Ate All The Pies]

Is Ronaldhino the new Fat Ronny? Was his poor performance in the World Cup and recently with Barcelona due to his lack of fitness? You make the call. Photo via Who Ate All The Pies.

Wouldn't It Be Great If Al Sharpton Inherited Strom Thurmond's Estate?

Over the weekend I read that the New York Daily News hired genealogists to look into Al Sharpton's family history, and through that he learned that his family had been owned by Strom Thurmond's family.

Today's news is just as interesting:

WaPo: Sharpton wants DNA test

Wouldn't it be awesome if Al Sharpton is the heir to Strom Thurmond? OK, it's almost impossible, they're probably just fourth cousins once removed, but isn't it fun to imagine ol' Strom's reaction to that one? Tee hee.

Libby Juror Exposed to Outside Information

Yesterday the world's most incompetent ombudsperson, Deborah Howell of the Washington Post, defended the Post for publishing Republican mouthpiece Victoria Toensing's partisan article attacking the prosecution of Scooter Libby. The article also attacked prosecutor Pat Fitzgerald personally and was accompanied by a graphic with a mugshot-like picture of Fitzgerald. Readers and media critics were understandably upset that the slanted article was planted in the middle of the trial. In her column Howell addressed this complaint from a reader:

Chris Webster was among dozens who complained: "Publishing her partisan version of history and parsed interpretation of the law the weekend before jury deliberations could be considered jury tampering."

with this answer:

This wasn't tampering. The judge has instructed jurors to stay away from news reports.

Today's news from the Scooter Libby trial:

Libby juror exposed to outside information.

Deborah Howell is once again proved the fool. And the Washington Post may have allowed the wingnuts to influence this trial. Shame, shame. No wonder firedoglake has dubbed her "Lil' Debbie".

UPDATE: The juror was dismissed; the jury will continue to deliberate, with 11 jurors.