Saturday, May 19, 2007

All Hail Drogba

Chelsea's Didier Drogba celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the FA Cup final soccer match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium in London, Saturday May 19, 2007. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

FA Cup Final result: Chelsea 1, Manchester United 0 (extra time)

Telegraph (uk): Drogba ends drought to secure Cup for Chelsea

BBC Sport: FA Cup final - Chelsea 1-0 Man Utd

Guardian (uk): Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United

I don't particularly like Chelsea, their robber baron owner Abramovich, their whiny manager Mourinho, but I have been impressed with Drogba this season. While Chelsea players dropped like flies around him, he played in an unbelievable 54 (or is it 55) games for Chelsea. If I was his agent I'd want a games-played bonus in his contract because that's just an unbelievable number.

Drogba, I felt, was the real Player of the Year in the Premiership this year. Christiano Ronaldo was prettier to look at, Drogba more effective, IMHO.

US Attorney Purge: Stealing Elections

Must-read article: Greg Palast, Author of Armed Madhouse, on How Rove May Have Already Stolen the 2008 Election

BuzzFlash: You’re having incredible success with the new expanded paperback edition of Armed Madhouse: From Baghdad to New Orleans -- Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild. Of course, the electronic voting machines and how they function is a very significant issue, but your specialty has really been how the Bush/Rove GOP political machine keeps persons who are likely to vote Democratic or Independent from voting.

Greg Palast: Yes. People ask me: Are they going to steal the 2008 election? No, they’ve already stolen the 2008 election. We still have a chance of swiping it back, but the reason I’ve expanded and put out the new edition of Armed Madhouse is to tell you how they will steal in 2008, and what to do about it. That’s one of the main new things. Plus a special chapter on New Orleans and my bust down there.

Of course, I was very flattered that the first review of the new edition of Armed Madhouse was written by Karl Rove and the Rove-bots -- it was subpoenaed by the House Judiciary Committee -- I can’t make this up. On February 7th, the Rove team, which had been writing several e-mails screaming about Armed Madhouse and "that British reporter," Greg Palast, were gloating that no U.S. media had picked up my stories. And they had a .pdf file attached. Of course, the reason my book was subpoenaed is that it has to do with the US prosecutor firings. The prosecutor firings were 100% about influencing elections -- not about loyalty to Bush, which is what The New York Times wrote. The administration team couldn’t tolerate appointees who wouldn’t go along with crime. In the book I present the evidence that Karl Rove directed a guy named Tim Griffin to target suppressing the votes of African American students, homeless men, and soldiers. Nice guy. They actually challenged the votes and successfully removed tens of thousands of legal voters from the voter rolls, same as they did in 2000. But instead of calling them felons, they said that they had suspect addresses.

BuzzFlash: In which election cycle?

Greg Palast: 2004. And in 2006 and 2004, they challenged tens of thousands of black soldiers. They stopped their votes from being counted when they were mailed in from Baghdad. Go to Baghdad and lose your vote -- mission accomplished.

BuzzFlash: How did they do that?

Greg Palast: By sending letters to the homes of soldiers, marked "do not forward." When they came back undelivered, they said: Aha! Illegal voter registered from a false address. And when their ballot came in from Fallujah, it was challenged. The soldier didn’t know it. Their vote was lost. Over half a million votes were challenged and lost by the Republicans -- absentee ballots. Three million voters who went to the polls found themselves challenged by the Republicans. This was not a small operation. It was a multi-million dollar, wholesale theft operation.

They’re right that I’m a British reporter, because I put this story on British TV, not on American TV, which won’t touch it. [BuzzFlash note: Palast writes for British papers and reports on the BBC, but he is a product of the San Fernando Valley and the University of Chicago, 100% American.] But our election was a complete, total fraud. This is grand theft -- no question. It’s not a dirty trick; it’s a felony crime.

I’m working with Bobby Kennedy, who is a voting rights attorney. He said, “This is not just an icky, horrible thing that people do wearing white sheets. This is a felony crime.” [paraphrase] And the guy they put in charge of this criminal ring to knock out voters is a guy named Tim Griffin. Today, Tim Griffin is -- badda-bing -- U.S. Attorney for Arkansas. When they fired the honest guys, they put in the Rove-bots to fix the 2008 election. That’s what I’m saying -- it’s already being stolen, as we speak. Tim Griffin is the perpetrator who’s become the prosecutor, and that’s what’s going down right now.

BuzzFlash: You have been questioned about prosecutor-gate and about the theft of the election of 2008. But these replacement prosecutors are still in place, not to mention the ones who have cooperated with Bush. Gonzales has basically told the House Judiciary Committee, make my day. I’m staying on. It’s over with. You asked me questions. I didn’t give you answers, but you don’t have the courage to impeach me, so I’m staying.

Greg Palast: That’s the game, too. Congress is shooting at the glove puppet. I shoot at the puppeteers. It’s not Gonzales. He’s meaningless. He’s a nothing. He should go because he allowed it to happen, and that’s a crime. When I was a racketeering investigator, we used to call it “willful failure to know.” He can’t just say to his staff, I know what Rove is doing, but don’t tell me about it. He would still be liable for criminal conspiracy of obstruction of justice. That’s why Monica Goodling took the Fifth. Not knowing doesn’t mean you’re not guilty, especially when you went out of your way not to know.

Gonzales should be read his rights and carted away. But it’s the puppeteers behind him -- Rove and Harriet Miers -- who were deeply involved in the prosecutor hits. No one’s talking about her. This is the woman who went from head of the Texas State Lottery to nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court by George Bush, and no one asked how that happened. They said: Harriet who? But they didn’t ask how that happened. They said, oh, she’s loyal to Bush. She’s the one who did the payoffs to cover up the fact that George Senior got George Junior out of the war in Vietnam. Do you think that that was done just by daddy making a call? Money had to be paid -- lots and lots of money to keep people quiet -- $23 million. That is something I reported on BBC Television and in the Guardian newspaper. We’ve given them plenty of time to challenge that story about the payoffs. We’ve never gotten a peep from these guys. And unlike CBS, the BBC has not withdrawn the story that the fix was put in to get Chicken George out of Vietnam. No one has challenged our story, nor have we withdrawn a comment on our story that the payoffs were made to keep it quiet.

BuzzFlash: Let’s focus for the moment on voter suppression, and we'll return later to other elements of the voter manipulation story.

Greg Palast: I have it all in Armed Madhouse, including in the three new chapters. First and foremost, is that it’s not one thing. It ain’t just electronic voting, guys. You go, oh, we have paper ballots, we’re saved, we’re saved. Bulls***! Wake up! Hello! Let’s remember that in Florida and Ohio, they didn’t have computer voting. So all the stuff about Diebold -- Ohio was not stolen by computers, because they didn’t have computers there. In fact, they were thrilled when people complained about computers because they could keep the junky punch cards in. That doesn’t mean that computers are safe. As I point out in the new chapter, the Republicans held on to Katherine Harris’ seat -- and we don’t want to think too carefully about that image -- they held onto Katherine Harris’ seat with 300 votes, while 18,000 votes disappeared in the computers. So they do use computers. That was a pure, straight-up, shoplift of the Congressional seat.

BuzzFlash: A House committee just voted not to pursue an investigation of that election, despite the disappearance of 18,000 votes.

Greg Palast: That’s sick -- deeply, deviously sick. First of all, in New York and other states, when votes are in question, they simply redo them. People talk about recount -- forget it. Redo the vote. When the machines collapse, then there’s no question that there was monkey business.

Speaking of the N Word

The Crawford Caligula has nominated a judge to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals who thinks it's OK for a state employee to call a co-worker a "good ole nigger".

If this whole Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals thing doesn't work out, maybe he can get a tryout as Tom Finneran's sidekick on WRKO-AM in Boston?

Houston Chronicle: Senate can short-circuit assault on appeals bench

If you liked Don Imus, you're going to love Leslie Southwick.

Fortunately, Imus has not been nominated to a seat on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. But Southwick has been.

Southwick is yet another example of President Bush's determined effort to give a seat on this important legal fulcrum to a person with a troubling record on civil rights.

The 5th Circuit is made up of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. According to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, it is the federal judicial circuit with the highest percentage of minority residents.

So it seems axiomatic that the 5th Circuit does not need a judge who appeared untroubled when a white government employe referred to an African-American co-worker as "a good ole nigger."

As a member of the Mississippi Court of Appeals, Southwick was in the 5-4 majority that voted to uphold the reinstatement of the white worker.

That was such an egregious decision that it was overturned unanimously — repeat, unanimously — by the Mississippi Supreme Court — repeat, Mississippi.

HuffPo: Senate Shouldn't Move on Judge in "N Word" Case

People for the American Way Letter to SJC Chairs Leahy & Specter, May 8, 2007 (pdf link, 7 pages)

The Imperial President Prizes Loyalty Above All

This article is worth watching an ad on to read: All hail the king
Under Bush, loyalty has reigned supreme. But as his presidency unravels, his obligation to his faithful servants -- from Gonzales to Wolfowitz -- has become perilously relative.
By Sidney Blumenthal

Imus N*****-Joke-Telling Sidekick Getting Boston Radio Audition

Go Away. Please.

WRKO, a Boston AM radio station, is giving a tryout to Imus co-host Bernard McGuirk. McGuirk was hired, according to Imus, "to do nigger jokes".

When I was a kid, I would have gotten the big bar of Palmolive in my mouth for saying that word. McGuirk, who has made his career doing racist and sexist jokes and still thinks that's funny, is getting a job interview for his efforts. Personally, I'd rather see him eat the soap. The last thing Boston, a city where race relations are delicate to say the least, is a hard-core recist like Imus's buddy Bernie on the airwaves.

Derrick Z. Jackson has an excellent column (excerpts, below) in today's Globe about the media's collective amnesia in the face of racism. He starts with Jerry Falwell's propping up of the South Africa regime in the 1980s and ends with Bernie getting a tryout in Boston.

Boston Globe: Boston station considers hiring former Imus sidekick

BOSTON --A Boston talk radio station plans to audition Don Imus' former producer to co-host former House Speaker Tom Finneran's morning talk show, which is suffering from sagging ratings.

Bernard McGuirk, who first called the Rutgers University women's basketball team "hard-core hos" in an exchange that led to public outcry and Imus' dismissal, will audition live on WRKO-AM next Wednesday through Friday.

In response to McGuirk, Imus called the women "nappy-headed hos." Imus and McGuirk, a 20-year producer and on-air jester for the "Imus in the Morning" program, were eventually fired.

"This is show business -- it's about personality and it's about entertainment and there's no question in my mind, Bernard has an incredible personality," Jason Wolfe, WRKO's vice president of AM programming and operations, said. "He's entertaining, very witty; that, in combination with the intelligence-slash-wit of Finneran, could be interesting."

Boston Herald: Imus sidekick draws fire: To be WRKO ‘guest’

Local and national media let racism slide

Talk-radio station WRKO-AM has invited Don Imus's racist sidekick Bernard McGuirk to be a co-host with former Massachusetts House speaker Tom Finneran on "Finneran's Forum."

McGuirk kicked off the banter about the Rutgers women's basketball team that got Imus kicked out of his nationally broadcast radio and television shows. Imus called the Rutgers black players "nappy-headed hos" after McGuirk called them "hard-core hos."

This was the final straw in a career of likening prominent African-Americans to the worst stereotypes of gorillas, cleaning ladies, and pimps.

It was summed up by the interview Mike Wallace did with Imus a decade ago. When Imus challenged Wallace to come up with an example of a racist incident by Imus, Wallace reminded him that he claimed in a car ride that "Bernard McGuirk is there to do nigger jokes." After at first denying using the n-word, Imus confessed that he did and he did not care what people thought about it.

What is Finneran trying to prove by having McGuirk on? To prove that his 2001 voter redistricting really was racist? Yesterday Finneran said on his show of McGuirk's comments, "That's history. That's in the rear view mirror. That's behind us."

If Finneran really believes that "hard-core hos," said just six weeks ago, is "history," then the next thing he and WRKO should see in the rear-view mirror are their advertisers waving goodbye.

In a couple cycles of commercials for "Finneran's Forum," prominent firms such as J.C. Penney, New York Life, Salem Five, Ira Toyota, Uniroyal Tires, and Venezia Restaurant had ads. Savings Bank Life Insurance of Massachusetts has an ad on the website for Finneran's show.

Do these advertisers want to be associated with a man who Imus did not deny was "there to do nigger jokes?" Stay tuned.

Vive la France!

WaPo: Sarkozy Names 7 Women to 15-Member Cabinet

PARIS, May 18 -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy named women to nearly half of his cabinet positions Friday and designated the founder of Doctors Without Borders, a Socialist, as his foreign minister.

The appointments reflect Sarkozy's pledge to diversify the top echelons of the French government with greater numbers of women and representatives from opposition political parties. More than half of the cabinet members are familiar political faces who served as ministers in President Jacques Chirac's government.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Final Word on Jerry Falwell

Comes from drunken sot Christopher Hitchens, of all people. Watch the video:

Iraq Unvarnished

A U.S. soldier keeps a lookout after his patrol stopped to check a vehicle in Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad, April 25, 2007. President George W. Bush pledged on Friday to veto legislation that includes a timetable for pulling U.S. troops from Iraq but Democrats urged him to "heed the call of the American people" and sign it. REUTERS/Bob Strong

I discovered a new website today,, which allows users to upload video. Many are video clips uploaded from Iraq by the soldiers themselves. Watching these clips really brings home how ill-equipped our soldiers are for their current mission in Iraq. Watch this clip of soldiers conducting a search of a car.

The men in the car claim not to speak English (which may or may not be true) but the soldiers don't speak Arabic, and that is definitely true. They cannot communicate with the people they are searching. They're not fighting. They're occupying a country, but they don't speak the language. So they joke and laugh, and you wonder. What do the men being searched think of this laughter? Are the soldiers laughing at them? Or are they laughing at the soldiers? How many times have they been searched before? Are the materials in the car just their stuff, or the stuff of IEDs?

No wonder George Bush's Pentagon has worked so assiduously to keep us from seeing live film from Iraq.

I saw this website on BAGNewsNotes, which links to this disturbing video of soldiers shooting at a mosque -- for fun.

Oh Happy Day

Boston Red Sox closer Hideki Okajima delivers during the ninth inning of their baseball game against the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park in Boston, Thursday, May 17, 2007. Okajima earned the save in the 4-2 win over the Tigers. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

It may be cold and raining, but we've got our Sox on so we're never cold:

NYTimes: Red Sox Sweep Tigers in Doubleheader

The sweep increased Boston's lead in the AL East over the second-place New York Yankees to 9 1/2 games. The last time the Yankees, who lost to Chicago 4-1, were that far back was after games of Sept. 6, 1997.

A Red Sox Fan in Pinstripe Territory

9.5 games is our biggest division lead since 1995, when we topped out at around a 16-game lead. In 1912, we finished the season 55 games ahead of the Yanks (then Highlanders). That must've been a fun September.

We do have our little worries. It's only May. Julian Tavarez? And then there's Beckett's avulsion:

Joy of Sox: Beckett's Finger reports that Josh Beckett left the game after four innings with

an avulsion on the right middle finger, leading to "irritation of the skin." ...

It was not a blister, he said, referring to the problem that plagued him earlier in his career. Francona said it would be a couple of days before the team would decide on Beckett's next start.

From Beckett's DL history:

5/1/02: Placed on the 15-day DL retroactive to April 29 with a blister on the middle finger of his right hand. (Activated 5/14)

6/5/02: Placed on the 15-day disabled list (right middle finger blister). (Activated ???)

8/24/02: Placed on the 15-day DL with a blister to his right middle finger. (Activated 9/11)

5/31/04: Placed on the 15-day disabled list with a blister to his right middle finger. (Activated 6/16)

7/6/04: Placed on the 15-day DL with a skin tear to his right middle finger. (Activated 7/30)

6/17/05: Placed on the 15-day disabled list with a blister to his right middle finger. (Activated 6/30)

But the Red Sox have the best record in baseball, and the Yankees are in the crapper. Oh happy day.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Desperate for Sausage for the Iraq Meat Grinder

Go here to watch video taken by the NBC affiliate in Knoxville, TN of Army recuiters teaching potential recruits how to beat the drug test: MSNBC: Army recruiters help applicants pass drug tests Cameras catch Army recruiters coaching recruits on how to beat drug tests

For the people who didn't cheat on their drug test to get into the military, how are you going to feel about the Army handing a weapon to someone doing drugs? They're not my idea of good foxhole mates.

Fidelity Still Invested in Darfur

Despite the somewhat misleading headline in today's Boston Globe, Fidelity is still heavily invested in companies doing business in Darfur and paying royalties to the corrupt genocidal government.

Boston Globe: Fidelity says it did not divest for Darfur
Firm says decisions based on returns, not pressure by activists

Fidelity filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission Tuesday that showed its ownership of PetroChina Co. shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange declining from about 4.5 million shares earlier this year to 420,916 as of the end of March, a decrease of more than 90 per cent.

PetroChina is part of a Chinese energy corporation accused by human-rights activists of paying royalties that fund violent campaigns in Sudan's Darfur region. Filings also show Fidelity sold many shares in another Chinese oil firm, Sinopec, that has drawn similar criticism.

Activists praised the sell-off in shares. David Rubenstein, director of a human-rights coalition in Washington, said the sales show Fidelity "appears to be making a genuine effort to financially separate from PetroChina."
Message Board Do you take human-rights issues into account when investing?

But he cautioned it is too soon to tell whether Fidelity fully divested its shares or instead shifted its ownership in ways that its public filings don't yet reflect. For example, Fidelity also owns shares in PetroChina that are traded on the Hong Kong stock exchange. As of October, the last time it reported those holdings, Fidelity was the eighth-largest holder of PetroChina shares on the Hong Kong exchange, with 206,000. Rubinstein called on Fidelity to provide more details of its holdings.

Weird Weather Everywhere

Yesterday afternoon there was a tornado watch in Massachusetts. A tornado watch! I've lived here for over 30 years and I don't recall ever hearing a tornado watch issued before. It's all about the global warming, of course. Extremes instead of our old reliable weather patterns.

Boston Globe: Tornado watch issued for parts of Mass., R.I., and Conn.

DailyKos: "Just no normal weather anymore. Anywhere."

Has anyone noticed that our local weather ... has turned truly screwy? We go from one bizarre weather condition to the next with almost no pause in between for "normal" conditions. It's too wet, too dry, too cold, too warm, too windy - nearly all the time. Hmmm? And scientists and average people all over the world, from Japan to Argentina, report similar strangeness. .... There's just no normal weather anymore. Anywhere.

Mike Tidwell Director, Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Chesapeake Climate Action Network: Want to See Climate Change? Look Out Your Front Door. It's here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Rudi & Judy's Family Values

Guiliani at dinner with his "friend" Judi Nathan in 2001.
(Photo: Erik C. Pendzich/Rex USA)

Somehow, I just can't see this couple playing well in Iowa.

New York Magazine: The Thunderbolt
Six years ago, she was the other woman. Today, she’s the ostentatiously adoring wife of the front-runner for the Republican nomination. Judi Giuliani’s run for First Lady.


Judith Giuliani’s biggest drawback—her three marriages—reminds voters of Rudy’s own three and the associated tawdry drama. The first, to his second cousin, was annulled after fourteen years. His second, to Hanover, ended with Rudy’s televised May 2000 announcement that he intended to separate from her; Hanover’s shocked, tearful, also-televised response blamed Rudy’s “relationship with one staff member,” i.e., his communications director Cristyne Lategano. That was before much was known about Judith. By the summer of 2001, Judith’s face, along with Donna’s and Rudy’s, was plastered on the cover of People magazine with the tawdry headline INSIDE NEW YORK’S NASTIEST SPLIT … THE MAYOR, THE WIFE, THE MISTRESS.


As you descend from the hilltops on Route 309 into the former Judi Ann Stish’s hometown, Hazleton, Pennsylvania, it sparkles like shards of glass in the sunlight. Then—closer in, on the edge of town—the vision loses its luster amid the detritus of a long-abandoned coal-mining economy. You pass a barnlike structure sporting a sign that misspells adult shope, then gigantic Quonset huts, then strip malls, then churches. Since the mines shut down after World War II, Hazleton has struggled mightily. In 2002, U.S. News & World Report labeled Hazleton “a town in need of a tomorrow.” Aside from Judi, the city’s most famous native is Jack Palance.


[Nursing] also got Judith out. She met medical-supplies salesman Jeffrey Scott Ross and, after two years of nursing school up the road in Bethlehem, married him at the Chapel of the Bells in Las Vegas. Then they moved to North Carolina.

Their marriage lasted less than five years. By the time of their uncontested Florida divorce on November 14, 1979, husband No. 2 was already in the wings. She married Bruce Nathan five days later.

They had met in Charlotte, where Bruce had moved after selling the Long Island–based office-furniture business founded by his grandfather. For the 24-year-old Judi, who had spent much of the previous five years on the road, demonstrating and selling surgical equipment, Nathan was a catch. Over the course of their increasingly rocky marriage, they lived in Atlanta and Manhattan (while acquiring a Hamptons summer place) and the Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles. She left him and moved to New York in March 1992 with their 7-year-old daughter, Whitney.

Not surprisingly, Bruce Nathan’s friends remember Judi less than fondly. “She was a real opportunist, a real Becky Sharp character,” says a Nathan-family friend who shared Thanksgiving dinners with Bruce and Judi. “She was kind of cute, and Bruce was quite handsome—a rich trust-fund kid from Long Island. She was less sophisticated in those days. I think she really desired to be sort of the Junior League type. She basically struck me as having an inflated, self-important view of herself.”


[After the Nathans filed for divorce], she went on with her life, having various romances. One is said to have been with a French diplomatic staffer. For four years, she and Whitney and clinical psychologist Manos Zacharioudakis lived together in a one-bedroom apartment on East 55th Street.

Years later, after Rudy made Judith the third Mrs. Giuliani and launched his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Zacharioudakis rhapsodized to the Daily News about his former lover’s “passion,” “sensual” nature, and “Italian eroticism.”


The Giuliani-Nathan nuptials were a star-studded extravaganza at which the bride wore a bejeweled Vera Wang gown and a diamond tiara, Mayor Michael Bloomberg officiated, and the 400 guests included Wang, Walters, Beverly Sills, Yogi Berra, Joe Torre, Donald Trump and Melania Knauss, Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes, Mort Zuckerman and Henry Kissinger, even Cristyne Lategano-Nicholas.


In 2003, Judith posed in a cranberry bejeweled Carolina Herrera gown for the cover of the society glossy Avenue. She sported a huge Chopard brooch and Jimmy Choo shoes while reclining languidly in her so-called Moroccan sitting room. From the magazine’s excitable perspective, the Giulianis had “created their own Chartwell,” the name of Sir Winston Churchill’s country house, on the Upper East Side. The article confidently predicted that Judith “could be the most stylish First Lady since another Upper East Sider, Jacqueline Kennedy.”


When I ran into Rudy at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner in late April, he told me Judith skipped the event because “she’s up taking care of our daughter [Whitney] at Skidmore.” The locution “our daughter” was hardly calculated to repair his frayed relations with the biological children he shares with Hanover, especially 17-year-old Trinity-prep-school senior Caroline, who uses Donna’s surname and reportedly didn’t bother telling him when she was accepted recently by Harvard. (“In the next few months, Rudy really has to repair his relationships with Andrew and Caroline,” says a Republican strategist. “He can’t be the Republican nominee and have his kids estranged from him. That ain’t gonna cut it.”)

Keroack Is A Quack

That's Dr. Eric Keroack, the Bush Administration's controversial appointee to oversee birth control programs as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services.

He resigned suddenly amidst reports that he was being investigated by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine for Medicare fraud. He looked thin on paper; a guy who was head of one of those fake groups that pretends to help pregnant women but really hard sells them away from abortion. Now, turns out that behind the paper there's even less. He barely practiced medicine in his life -- if he ever did. Another Heckuva Job appointee from the Chimpcompetent One.

Raw Story: Heckuva job? Bush Administration vaunted bogus credentials for birth control czar, records show

HHS officials repeatedly cited Keroack’s long tenure in private practice as one of his key qualifications, along with his highly publicized role as medical director for a chain of Christian pregnancy centers.

According to the Washington Post, “Eric Keroack, a nationally known advocate of abstinence until marriage, served for more than a decade as medical director for A Woman’s Concern, a Massachusetts nonprofit group that discourages abortion and does not distribute information promoting birth control. But HHS spokeswoman Christina Pearson said yesterday that most of Keroack’s professional time had been devoted to his private practice of 20 years, not the group.”

Documents and interviews with Keroack’s associates, however, show that the post of medical director was merely a part-time or volunteer job. Keroack’s claims of an extensive private practice also appear dubious.

Congressman McGovern Leads Fight to Increase Food Stamp Budget

I love my Congressman. Jim McGovern (the original sponsor of the House bill to ending funding for the Iraq war) is also co-Chair of the House Hunger Caucus. He and his co-chair, Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) are both eating on a food stamp budget for a week. They challenged other members of Congress to join them (here's the letter they sent out, pdf link) but only two have joined them: Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Tim Ryan (D-OH).

McGovern has a video on his blog of his speech on the House floor describing the challenge.

The average food stamp recipient gets $21 a week; that's $3 a day, or $1 per meal. I'm frugal, but I spend that in a week on vegetables alone. You can't buy fresh vegetables on that budget; most of your food is going to be cheap grains and proteins.

McGovern and his wife, Lisa, did their food shopping for the week with help from Toinette Wilson, a D.C. resident and mother of three who relies on food stamps. Wilson gave him some tips, but it was still a struggle, he said.

"No organic foods, no fresh vegetables, we were looking for the cheapest of everything," McGovern said. "We got spaghetti and hamburger meat that was high in fat -- the fattiest meat on the shelf. I have high cholesterol and always try to get the leanest, but it's expensive. It's almost impossible to make healthy choices on a food stamp diet."
Lawmakers Find $21 a Week Doesn't Buy a Lot of Groceries

Congressional Food Stamp Challenge

Congressman Ryan has posted his grocery receipt on his blog, along with this explanation of what he bought and how he's feeling:

Today I began the Food Stamp Challenge. I took the subway to Safeway, where I picked out the $21.00 of food that I’ll be living on for the next week. $20.66 bought me:

One bag of corn meal- $1.43

Two jars of strawberry preserves- $4.00

One jar of chunky peanut butter- $2.48

Two boxes of angel hair pasta- $1.54

One can of coffee- $2.50

Three jars of tomato sauce- $4.50

Two cartons of cottage cheese- $3.00

One loaf of wheat bread- $.89

One clove of garlic- $.32

Obviously, $21.00 doesn’t go too far, especially when it comes to variety. I'm starting to understand that living on such a tight budget doesn’t allow a person to get the balanced diet they need, I wasn't able to get much protein and produce was almost completely out of the question.

So far today I have eaten a quarter container of cottage cheese, one and a half peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and had one cup of coffee. It still amazes me that so many Americans live like this every day. I already notice a difference in my energy level. After only a day on this diet, I’m tired and hungry, but I’m looking forward to talking to people about my experience, and making people aware of the millions across the country who deal with this every day.

Others participating around the country:

Oregon governor Theodore R. Kulongoski:
NYTimes: Statehouse Journal
A Governor Truly Tightens His Belt

Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr., and a dozen other community leaders:
Salt Lake Tribune: Eating a week on the cheap

New York City Councilor Eric Gioia
New York City Hunger Blog: Life On Food Stamps Weighs On Councilman Gioia

Put Your Money Where Your Principles Are: Boycott Tommy Hilfiger

Just Say No

Tommy Hilfiger, the clothing designer, has earned his place on the boycott list, along with Circuit City. Tommy Hilfiger fired the union cleaning company that paid their workers $19 an hour plus benefits, and replaced them with a company that paid workers $8 an hour (probably no benefits, too). And the decimation of the middle class continues, and the obscenely rich get obscenely richer.

NYTimes: Unkind Cut for Janitors at Hilfiger

Published: May 16, 2007

On Thursday, Gloria Coreas took the subway from Jackson Heights, Queens, to 23rd Street, then a crosstown bus to the western edge of Manhattan, and spent her usual eight hours cleaning the office at the Tommy Hilfiger company.

At the end of the day, she was called to the fifth floor, along with the eight other men and women who make the daily mess disappear.

“A supervisor said, ‘I’m going to give you bad news,’ ” Ms. Coreas said. “The job was ending.”

Nine people, who came by subway and bus to scrub Tommy Hilfiger’s toilets, mop his floors, dust his shelves, were out of work. They made about $19 an hour, union wages. The Hilfiger operation found a new company to provide these services for about $8 an hour, said Chuck Santiago, one of the people who lost his job and tried to get hired by the new cleaning contractor.

Yesterday, black Town Cars lined up in the fine spring sunshine outside the Hilfiger office on West 26th Street to collect young designers and executives while their former cleaning women and men handed out fliers and accepted condolences from people on smoke breaks.

Gustavo Aguinaga said: “Thursday night, they tell us the job is over on Friday. They tell us they’re coming the next day to pick up the tools.”

“No notice,” Ms. Coreas said. “We were in shock.”

The Hilfiger company sells clothes around the world stamped with variations on Tommy Hilfiger’s name; last year, the company was bought for what was reported to be $1.6 billion by a private equity company called Apax Partners. (What is $1.6 billion? Here’s a scale: One million seconds is about 11 days. One billion seconds is about 32 years.)

Besides cashing in his own stake of $66 million, Mr. Hilfiger will be paid a minimum of $14.5 million a year through 2010, then receive a share of the sales.

For workers in their 40s and 50s, a job that pays $8 an hour was a nightmare. “Rent in Jackson Heights is unbelievable now,” Ms. Coreas said. “It’s more than a thousand dollars.”

“We’re not asking for raises,” Mr. Santiago said. “We’re not asking for anything, except to let us work.”

As they spoke, Andy Hilfiger, the brother of Tommy, stepped outside. “I think they came with the building,” he said of the laid-off cleaning people. No, he was told, the cleaners had moved with Hilfiger to 26th Street from offices a few blocks away. “Oh, they did?” he said. “I’ll try to find out something.” He got on a cellphone, then drifted away.

Yesterday, Marybeth Schmitt, speaking for the people who own the Hilfiger name, called.

“I have a statement,” she said.

Hold on.

Had her space been cleaned satisfactorily, the bathroom tidy, and so on?

“I would have to get back to you on that,” she said.

Couldn’t she say whether her trash can had been properly emptied? Without conferring with other executives?

“I don’t think this is personal,” she said. “This is a corporate matter.”


Before getting to the statement, it’s worth noting that on its Web site, Hilfiger says that garment manufacturers who work under contract for the company must treat their workers fairly.

Hilfiger used a contractor, Shepard Industries, to clean its space in Manhattan, and Ms. Schmitt’s initial statement seemed to blame Shepard for the loss of jobs, saying the contractor had “ended its relationship with Tommy Hilfiger USA Inc.”

That leaves out an important detail. “We have not been paid by Tommy Hilfiger for the last six months,” said Joan Taylor, the director of operations for Shepard. “We have paid our employees.”

So Tommy Hilfiger, a name owned by the global private equities firm Apax with $20 billion in assets under management, did not pay the company that paid the people who cleaned its bathrooms?

Asked about this, Ms. Schmitt said yes, it was true that Hilfiger had stopped paying the cleaning contractor in December, but only because it reduced its office space by half in November and disputed the contractor’s bills. Hilfiger “is currently seeking a union employer to take up this contract,” she said.

The first contractor contacted by Hilfiger, IBS Services Group, did not respond to inquiries.

On Friday morning, Gustavo Aguinaga and Gloria Coreas and the others came to work. At day’s end, their tools were hauled away: buffing machines, vacuums, brooms, dusters, rags, Windex, Fantastik, degreaser, carpet shampoo.

“We packed it all up,” Mr. Aguinaga said.


“They asked us,” he said.



This article contains copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This material is made available to advance understanding of democracy, economic, environmental, human rights, political, scientific, and social justice issues, among others. This constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material in this article is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.

Gonzales Puts The Squeeze on Ashcroft in ICU

The big political news yesterday was James Comey's astonishing testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee (watch it on the YouTube video, above), in which he told the incredible story of Abu Gonzales and Andy Card making a late night run to the intensive care unit room of John Ashcroft, trying to get him to do an end-around around Acting US Attorney Comey's refusal to reauthorize the illegal NSA wiretap program. And then Bush went ahead and authorized the program anyway, even though the Justice Department had told him explicitly: IT WAS ILLEGAL. That's called a felony, folks. Probably multiple felonies.

Watch that YouTube video. It's like a scene from a film, except it's real.

Gonzales was White House counsel when he tried to put the squeeze on critically ill Ashcroft. It is incredible that he is now Attorney General. I am amazed that the US now has a worse AG than Witchcroft himself, but clearly that's the case.

I didn't have to time to do this story justice, so read these excellent analyses around blogtopia:

Glenn Greenwald, Comey's testimony raises new and vital questions about the NSA scandal Comey Details White House Attempt to Force Approval of Secret Program

ThinkProgress: Comey Breaks Silence: White House Tried To Force Incapacitated Ashcroft To Back Spying Program

Front paged here:

WaPo: Gonzales Hospital Episode Detailed
Ailing Ashcroft Pressured on Spy Program, Former Deputy Says

NYTimes: President Intervened in Dispute Over Eavesdropping

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jerry Falwell Did Make History

Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988)

Wikipedia: Hustler Magazine v. Falwell

Legal history, that is, when his award for damages for this Hustler magazine ad was overturned by the Supreme Court on First Amendment grounds:

The Law of Unintended Consequences

The Army Corps of Engineers is so often involved in projects like this, which backfire. Last fall they excavated 500,000 cubic yards of sand from the beaches of Surf City, New Jersey, in order to improve the beach.

The unintended consequence? The dredging unlodged 1,111 pieces of WWI ordinance that had been dumped in the ocean. So the beaches were closed for months, and at a cost of $2.3 million dollars, the beaches were cleared of the ancient discarded weapons. The beaches are being reopened, but now there are special rules: You can't dig any deeper than 12" into the sand.

Just the kind of place you want to take the kids!

NYTimes: After Ordnance Scare, Beachgoers Told to Dig With Care

Aaron Houston for The New York Times

A fuze, a device used to ignite explosives that dates from World War I, was found Monday by a detection crew in shallow water off Surf City.

Got To Make Some of These

Kool-Aid Dill Pickle

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

NYTimes: A Sweet So Sour: Kool-Aid Dills

[] “They’re easy to make a gallon,” Ms. Williams said. “You pull the pickles from the jar, cut them in halves, make double-strength Kool-Aid, add a pound of sugar, shake and let it sit — best in the refrigerator — for about a week. The taste takes to anything. A while back I made a mistake and bought a jar of pickle chips instead of halves or wholes. Came out fine. This whole Kool-Aid pickle thing is going so good, you wonder why somebody hasn’t put a patent on them.”

Jerry Falwell, 1933-2007

Given that Jerry Falwell blamed me, a feminist, for 9/11, I have a hard time saying anything nice about the man. As Atrios says, let's hope he finds God more forgiving than he thought he was. (or, even better, lets hope that he finds out that God is female!)

A compilation of some of the lowlights of his public statements: The Carpetbagger Report: Jerry Falwell dies at age 73

Wikipedia: Jerry Falwell

NYTimes: Rev. Jerry Falwell Is Dead at 73

Kirsten Gillibrand in NYTimes

Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

Potential rivals for Representative Kirsten Gillibrand's seat in Congress include a retired Army lieutenant colonel and a former candidate for governor.

Part 3 of the series:

NYTimes: The Freshman
Barely in Office, but G.O.P. Rivals Are Circling

Milford, New York, where the picture is taken, is also the home of the Cooperstown Brewing Co., where you can buy my favorite beer, Old Slugger, as well as other baseball-named beers. I wonder if John Sweeney has partaken of their wares? The New York Times outlines several Republicans who will run for Gillibrand's seat in 2008, but Sweeney is not mentioned.

Save Darfur: Divest

I saw this on BlueGal:

The reason Fidelity feels they can't divest from genocide is because that would mean divesting large holdings from China. China is an international scourge on so many levels. “They’re too big a market to be held accountable to international standards” is a sick testimony to Western greed. That and Wal Mart. Oh, wait. That’s cheap junk from China, isn’t it?

Look at her. Just look at her face.

h/t Quakerdave, who would like as many of you as possible to post this vid to your blogs.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Chemicals and Cancer

The LATimes reports on a new study linking breast cancer to many chemicals common to our environment.

LATimes: Common chemicals are linked to breast cancer
Of the 216 compounds, many in the air, food or everyday items.

LATimes: Chemical carcinogens (list)

It Isn't Your Imagination

Typical Sunday talk show panel: Four white men, one white woman, no minorities

All those talking head shows are filled with white men. Men outnumber women 4 to 1; white outnumber minorities 7 to 1.

Media Matters for America: Sunday Shutout: The Lack of Gender & Ethnic Diversity on the Sunday Morning Talk Shows

Rudy Giuliani: "Said all the right things, but did all the wrong things"

I hope the Republicans are foolish enough to run Rudy Giuliani in 2008. He's crooked and a real jerk. Here are just two articles about his perfidy.

WaPo: In Private Sector, Giuliani Parlayed Fame Into Wealth
Candidate's Firm Has Taken On Controversial Executives, Clients

On Dec. 7, 2001, nearly three months after the terrorist attack that had made him a national hero and a little over three weeks before he would leave office, New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani took the first official step toward making himself rich.

And at the same time he was busily making himself rich, he was exposing thousands of Ground Zero workers to toxic dust by failing to enforce federal requirements regarding respirator use:

NYTimes: Ground Zero Illnesses Clouding Giuliani’s Legacy

Administration documents and thousands of pages of legal testimony filed in a lawsuit against New York City, along with more than two dozen interviews with people involved in the events of the last four months of Mr. Giuliani’s administration, show that while the city had a safety plan for workers, it never meaningfully enforced federal requirements that those at the site wear respirators.

At the same time, the administration warned companies working on the pile that they would face penalties or be fired if work slowed. And according to public hearing transcripts and unpublished administration records, officials also on some occasions gave flawed public representations of the nature of the health threat, even as they privately worried about exposure to lawsuits by sickened workers.

“The city ran a generally slipshod, haphazard, uncoordinated, unfocused response to environmental concerns,” said David Newman, an industrial hygienist with the New York Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, a labor group.

City officials and a range of medical experts are now convinced that the dust and toxic materials in the air around the site were a menace. More than 2,000 New York City firefighters have been treated for serious respiratory problems. Seventy percent of nearly 10,000 recovery workers screened at Mount Sinai Medical Center have trouble breathing. City officials estimate that health care costs related to the air at ground zero have already run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, and no one knows whether other illnesses, like cancers, will emerge.


The city’s handling of safety issues has been criticized by doctors, unions and occupational safety experts. Mr. Giuliani’s oversight of the operation was condemned in a 2006 book, “Grand Illusion,” by Wayne Barrett, a longtime critic of the former mayor, and Dan Collins. Mr. Barrett said in an interview that when it came to safety, Mr. Giuliani “said all the right things, but did all the wrong things.”

And of course, by failing to do the right thing in the long term, he saved money in the short term, and used the speed of the Ground Zero cleanup to burnish his own reputation, which he then sold around the world (see WaPo article at top.) For Rudy, it's all about the Benjamins, and public health and the little people be damned.


Today's Washington Post has an article about the antibiotic-resistant infections sweeping the nations' hospitals. This made me think of Steve Gilliard of the News Blog, who has suffered a relapse in his fight to get out of the hospital and get well. He was already weak from serious kidney and heart problems; now he has a system-wide infection and can only be visited by people in what his friend Jen calls "bunnysuits". Steve was the first 'big' blogger ever to link to this site, so we have a special place in our heart for him and pray for his recovery.

It also made me think about a factor not mentioned in the article, Big Food's aggressive use of antibiotics in the production of meat. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, 70% -- seventy percent! -- of the antibiotics used in this country are used on animals being fattened for slaughter:

It is livestock producers, however, who use the vast majority of antibiotics produced in the United States. An estimated 70 percent of antibiotics and related drugs produced in this country are used for nontherapeutic purposes such as accelerating animal growth and compensating for overcrowded and unsanitary conditions on large-scale confinement facilities known as "factory farms." This translates to about 25 million pounds of antibiotics and related drugs fed every year to livestock for nontherapeutic purposes—almost eight times the amount given to humans to treat disease.

Another reason to become a vegetarian.

1999 Guardian (uk) series: Antibiotics in our food

Time: Playing Chicken With Our Antibiotics
Overtreatment is creating dangerously resistant germs (2002)

Center for Science in the Public Interest: Antibiotic Resistance Project

Tell Your Mama 'Bout O'Bama

"I've got pieces of everybody in me," Obama has acknowledged. (Orlin Wagner - AP)

No wonder I like Obama so much. He's one of my people! O'Bama it is.

WaPo: Tiny Irish Village Is Latest Place to Claim Obama as Its Own

MONEYGALL, Ireland -- Here they call him O'Bama.

Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, Democratic candidate for president, is the talk of this village because recently unearthed records indicate that he is a son of Moneygall.

Stephen Neill, a local Anglican rector, said church documents he has found, along with census, immigration and other records tracked down by U.S. genealogists, appear to show that Obama's great-great-great-grandfather, Fulmuth Kearney, was reared in Moneygall, then left for America in 1850, when he was 19.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Farewell to Robbie Fowler

Today Robbie Fowler, the hero of the Kop, will play his last game in a Liverpool kit. My favorite story about Robbie Fowler is that he went to Istanbul in 2005 and was sitting in the stands as a fan when Liverpool won its fifth European Cup (even though he was at the time a Man City player). For today, I switched from Didier Drogba (out with injury) to Fowler in my fantasy team. I'm sure the Liverpool team will do everything possible to help God score in his final Liverpool game. Even Rafa hopes he will score today. Here are a few videos of Robbie Fowler to enjoy if you're not getting the game live. Robbie Fowler, you'll never walk alone.

His return to Liverpool last year:

All of Fowler's goals after his return:

100 Players Who Shook The Kop: #4, Robbie Fowler

Compilation of great Fowler goals:

Fastest hat-trick in EPL by Robbie Fowler (1994):

Observer Sport Monthly (uk): Don't look back in anger

Mother's Day For Peace

The history of Mother's Day:

In the United States, Mother's Day was originally suggested by poet and social activist Julia Ward Howe. In 1870, after witnessing the carnage of the American Civil War and the start of the Franco-Prussian War, she wrote the original Mother's Day Proclamation calling upon the women of the world to unite for peace. This "Mother's Day Proclamation" would plant the seed for what would eventually become a national holiday.

After writing the proclamation, Howe had it translated into many languages and spent the next two years of her life distributing it and speaking to women leaders all over the world. In her book Reminiscences, Howe wrote, "Why do not the mothers of mankind interfere in these matters to prevent the waste of that human life of which they alone bear and know the cost?" She devoted much of the next two years to this cause, and began holding annual "Mother's Day" gatherings in Boston, Massachusetts and elsewhere.

In 1907, thirty-seven years after the proclamation was written, women's rights activist Anna Jarvis began campaigning for the establishment of a nationally observed Mother¹s Day holiday. And in 1914, four years after Howe's death, President Woodrow Wilson declared Mother's Day as a national holiday.

Julia Ward Howe's original Mother's Day Proclamation:

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have breasts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Mother's Day For Peace

Julia Ward Howe