Friday, August 03, 2007

Living in the Land of Confusion

Happy Friday Dearest Readers. What is there to say about Arlen Spector? He's done this before-talk tough and then cave on the important issues.

Word is that Arlen has a girlfriend-has had for 30 years. Right here in Ohio. (There's something about a gal from the Midwest...isn't that so, Senator Spector?)

Ray McGovern told Prissy that he thinks Arlen just gets a "little reminder" from Bushco and he steps back inside the neorepublican line.

Are all of these old Bushco hardliner men senile? How on Earth could he possibly think something going on for 30 years could still be considered a "secret?" Neorepublicans...always expecting us to believe the unbelievable.

Hot Links

Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call via RAW Story Capitol police step up security fearing terror attack in next six weeks

An increased threat of another al Qaeda attack between now and Sep. 11 of this year has caused Capitol Police officials to step up security on Capitol Hill, Roll Call reported.

An unnamed Capitol Police source told Roll Call that Congressional security officials were recently made aware of the potential threat by federal anti-terrorism authorities.

“Given the world situation and recently released snippet from al-Qaida threatening to attack Washington, we’re just being a tad more vigilant if that’s possible,” Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer told the Capitol Hill newspaper. “Although, if you’re ready for a four-alarm fire at any time, it’s hard to be more vigilant.”

Six weeks? Coinciding with the next large scale protest expected by various organizations and individuals in Washington, D.C.

Yahoo Court secretly struck down Bush spying: report

The intelligence-court judge, who remains anonymous, concluded that the government had overstepped its authority by monitoring overseas communications that pass through the United States, the Post said, citing anonymous government and congressional sources.

The Bush administration expanded its surveillance efforts after the September 11, 2001, hijacking attacks, without court oversight. The court was allowed to review the program in January.

The surveillance court judge's ruling has prevented the National Security Agency from monitoring foreign telephone calls and e-mails that travel through the United States, the Post reported.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, mentioned the court setback on Fox News on Tuesday, drawing a rebuke from House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emmanuel.

Act for Change Don't give Bush the power to wiretap Americans without a warrant

It's time for our Senators and Members of Congress to get a backbone and stand up to presidential bullying.

Tell your Senators and Member of Congress: Don't give Bush the power to wiretap Americans without a warrant or court review.

Link to actions.

People's Daily U.S. unilateral military action inside Pakistan's territory unacceptable

It said that any unilateral action by the U.S. inside Pakistani territory will certainly undermine Pakistan's ability to cooperate in the campaign against terrorism.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, talking to newsmen on Friday in Islamabad before his departure on a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia and UAE, firmly rejected threats of U.S. strikes inside Pakistan.

He said Pakistan is fully capable of operating against terrorists and needs no outside assistance in this regard.

The president said it was not correct to allege that Al-Qaeda was re-grouping in tribal areas and the region was a safe haven for them.

JPost Rabbi Ovadia: 'Women should stick to cooking, sewing'

Yosef blasted the opposing view, saying it was based on the opinion of "a few stupid women. A woman's knowledge is only in sewing," he ridiculed. "Women should find other jobs and make hamin (cholent) but not deal with matters of Torah."

In addition, he admonished women for following in the steps of their mothers in the order of the recitation of the blessing instead of adhering to his opinion.

"It has to be announced that women should not listen to the voice of their mothers or grandmothers not to continue with this mistake," he warned.

Perhaps he should take a vow of silence. Just one woman's opinion...

Friday Funny, No Cooler for the Scooter by a Dick Cheney look alike. Hat tip to Patrick Fitzgerald's desk...

CNN Money U.S. biz blamed for dangerous Chinese products Industry experts say U.S. companies need to monitor overseas factories more closely to prevent product safety lapses.

"American companies have to ask their vendors, 'What can you do for me to convince me not to take my business away from you,'" McGowan said.

Ennis, with the U.S.-China Business Council, said Chinese suppliers do face a legitimate threat of losing business.

"I think Chinese companies will face a very tough lesson if they don't respond adequately to growing concerns about safety and quality checks in their factories," Ennis said.

But ultimately analysts agree that it is big U.S. importers like Mattel who's business will suffer the most from insufficient oversight of foreign suppliers, no matter where they may be.

Large companies which previously manufactured goods here in the USA, shipped out decent paying factory work to save the top dogs labor costs. Here they are again causing harm to the very same people-the middle class folks supporting their products.

NBC and Raw Story Top US general says he's received plan for complete Iraq withdrawal

MSNBC's Hardball reported Wednesday that Defense Secretary Robert Gates was recently "in Kuwait, scoping out what will at some point be a critical staging ground for a US exit plan from Iraq."

According to correspondent Jim Miklaszewski, "Military officials in Kuwait suggest that they could easily handle the 160,000 troops in a matter of months. But that would be extremely risky, because a hasty retreat would increase the troops' vulnerability to attack. And then there's all that equipment – one million tons – that would have to be driven out of Iraq and shipped out of Kuwait by sea. ... It could take two years for a complete withdrawal."

"Tonight, a top US general here in Kuwait said, from a logistics standpoint, he's already got the plan, and he's ready to go," concluded Miklaszewski. "All he needs is the president's orders."

Actions are being taken already, thus the lower death rate on both sides. A disengagment of violence is of course the way forward...

Now, who shall bell the cat? Does this man eat live kittens?

For Prissy's Dearest Reader in Wisconsin Nightmare on Main Street: More on Bush's Anti-Dissent Order

So imagine that you are a dedicated, committed, politically active person. You're donating to the Green Party, perhaps active in local politics, going to demonstrations...Then one day, a person from the treasury department comes to visit. He shows you this executive order, and he tells you that you have been identified by your actions and associations as being a 'significant risk to commit acts of violence.' He says that by their lights, you may already be deemed to have committed acts of violence. He tells you that it has been concluded that these acts of violence undermine the Iraqi government and the reconstruction campaign...

You protest of course. He says it doesn't matter, these are the findings of the Secretary of the Treasury under the executive order. You challenge him to prove what act of violence they think you are about to commit. He replies that there's no particular act, only that you're a 'significant risk.'

Then he tells you, in very clear terms, what they can do. That they can and will take your house. That they can and will take your car and your bank account. That you will be fired from your job. That you will find it impossible to get another job, or find another place to live. That anyone who helps you will be similarly punished, so no one will help you. He tells you that if this isn't enough, they are prepared to take the same tactic against your parents, your children, your girlfriend, your friends, based on their association with you making them a 'significant risk of committing violence' or of 'providing support to you.'

He asks you if you are prepared to see your life erased? Are you really that brave? Do you really want to lose your job, your home, your nest, your savings, your income, your retirement...And if you are that brave, are you really prepared to see this done to your girlfriend, your parents, whoever is close to you...

That should outrage any red blooded American enough to demand a stop to these crazed policies.

Seattle Times Outsourcing the elderly: Low-cost care, made in India

PONDICHERRY, India — After three years of caring for his increasingly frail mother and father in their Florida retirement home, Steve Herzfeld was exhausted and faced with spending his family's last resources to put the couple in an affordable nursing home.

So he made what he saw as the only sensible decision: He "outsourced" his parents to India.

His 89-year-old mother, Frances, who suffers from advanced Parkinson's disease, now receives daily massages, physical therapy and 24-hour help getting to the bathroom, all for about $15 a day. His father, Ernest, 93, an Alzheimer's patient, has a full-time personal assistant and a cook who has won him over to a vegetarian diet healthful enough that he no longer needs cholesterol medication.

Best of all, the plentiful drugs the couple require cost less than 20 percent of what they do at home, and salaries for their six-person staff are so low that the pair now bank $1,000 a month of their $3,000 Social Security payment. They aim to use the savings as an emergency fund, or to pay for airline tickets if family members want to visit.

Star Tribune MnDOT feared cracking in bridge but opted against making the repairs Structural deficiencies in the I-35W bridge were so serious that MnDOT last winter considered bolting steel plates to its supports to prevent cracking in fatigued metal.

The option to monitor through inspection was one of two suggestions given to the department in 2006 by URS Corp., a San Francisco-based construction management consultant.

Some close observers of MnDOT continued to speculate Thursday that the decision to monitor instead of fix deficiencies in the bridge was driven by financial concerns. Dave Semerad, CEO of the Minnesota chapter of the Associated General Contractors, said everything MnDOT does is based on cost-benefit analysis.

"Let's face it. They don't have any money," Semerad said. "At the end of the day, that's the issue. This is indicative of a long-term pattern."

PC World Diebold voting machines vulnerable to virus attack Diebold Election Systems Inc. voting machines are not secure enough to guarantee a trustworthy election, and an attacker with access to a single machine could disrupt or change the outcome of an election using viruses, according to a review of Diebold's source code.

The assessment of Diebold's source code revealed an attacker needs only limited access to compromise an election.

"An attack could plausibly be accomplished by a single skilled individual with temporary access to a single voting machine. The damage could be extensive -- malicious code could spread to every voting machine in polling places and to county election servers," it said.

The report, titled "Source Code Review of the Diebold Voting System," was apparently released Thursday, just one day before California Secretary of State Debra Bowen is to decide which machines are certified for use in California's 2008 presidential primary elections.

The source-code review identified four main weaknesses in Diebold's software, including: vulnerabilities that allow an attacker to install malware on the machines, a failure to guarantee the secrecy of ballots, a lack of controls to prevent election workers from tampering with ballots and results, and susceptibility to viruses that could allow attackers to an influence an election.

Time Murdoch Bags the Journal

Prissy hopes readers will continue canceling their WSJ subscriptions as a result of Murdoch weird brand of journalism he cranks out.

Considering his personal role in pushing for the war in Iraq, it would serve him right to spend big bucks on a paper no one reads...

A good alternative to the WSJ. UK Financial Times Signs of cooling in US labour market

The slowdown in hiring underlined investor fears that economic growth is vulnerable to a downturn in job creation, viewed as one of the main supports for consumer spending amid the worst housing downturn in 16 years.

The dollar’s value dropped against other leading currencies while stocks fell. US treasury bond prices rose as investors priced in a lower likelihood of an interest rate rise by the Federal Reserve in the coming months. Interest rate futures pointed to a 68 per cent chance the Fed would cut rates by the fall.

Peter Kretzmer, an economist at Bank of America, said Fed policymakers would welcome a slight increase in the unemployment rate from 4.5 to 4.6 per cent because it reduced inflation pressures.

The central bank is expected to keep interest rates on hold when it meets next week and again underline its concern that unwelcome price increases will return


Democracy Now “In Search of John Doe No. 2: The Story the Feds Never Told About the Oklahoma City Bombing”

A Salt Lake City lawyer searching for the truth behind his brother's death has uncovered a wealth of new information that could implicate the FBI in the Oklahoma City bombings. The documents he dug up suggest the FBI knew about the plot to bomb the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in advance but did little to prevent it. Jesse Trentadue's brother Kenney Trentadue was found dead in his prison cell in Oklahoma City in August 1995. The FBI calls it a suicide, but Jesse maintains Kenney was beaten to death during an interrogation. Jesse believes the FBI mistook his brother for the missing second suspect in the Oklahoma City bombings - the so-called "John Doe #2." His research also suggests that the bombing was not the work of one or two men, but involved a wider network connected to the far-right white supremacist movement. Jesse Trentadue joins us to talk about his struggle with the FBI in the twelve years since his brother’s death. We’re also joined by reporter James Ridgeway, author of a new Mother Jones article on this story.

WaPo Dan Froomkin is the best in that bunch Karl Rove's Immunity

Massimo Calabresi writes in Time with "four reasons why Bush can't afford to let Gonzales go: "1. Gonzales is all that stands between the White House and special prosecutors. As dicey as things are for Bush right now, his advisers know that they could get much worse. . . .

"2. A post-Gonzales DOJ would be in the hands of a nonpartisan, tough prosecutor, not a political hand. Newly appointed Deputy Attorney General Craig Morford is in line to take over until a new Attorney General could be confirmed. . . .

"3. If Gonzales goes, the White House fears that other losses will follow. . . . Republicans are loath to hand Democrats some high-profile casualties to use in the 2008 campaign. Stonewalling, they believe, is their best way to avoid another election focused on corruption issues. . . .

"4. Nobody at the White House wants the legal bills and headaches that come with being a target of investigations. In backing Gonzales, Bush is influenced by advisers whose future depends on the survival of their political bodyguard."

All of the above... Click to enlarge

McClatchy At U.S. base, Iraqis must use separate latrine

FOB WARHORSE, Iraq — The sign taped to the men's latrine is just five lines: "US MILITARY CONTRACTORS CIVILIANS ONLY!!!!!" It needed only one: "NO IRAQIS."

Here at this searing, dusty U.S. military base about four miles west of Baqouba, Iraqis — including interpreters who walk the same foot patrols and sleep in the same tents as U.S. troops — must use segregated bathrooms.

Another sign, in a dining hall, warns Iraqis and "third-country nationals" that they have just one hour for breakfast, lunch or dinner. American troops get three hours. Iraqis say they sometimes wait as long as 45 minutes in hot lines to get inside the chow hall, leaving just 15 minutes to get their food and eat it.

It's been nearly 60 years since President Harry Truman ended racial segregation in the U.S. military. But at Forward Operating Base Warhorse it's alive and well, perhaps the only U.S. military facility with such rules, Iraqi interpreters here say.

Quotes of the Day

"The die is now cast; the colonies must either submit or triumph.... we must not retreat."--King George III, In a letter to Lord North, 1774

"There, I guess King George will be able to read that."--John Hancock, Remark, July 4, 1776

"Equal, and exact justice of all men, ...freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of person under the protection of habeas corpus; and trial by juries impartially selected,- these principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us."--Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, 1801

It is the manners and spirit of a people which preserve a republic in vigor. A degeneracy in these is a canker which soon eats to the heart of its laws and constitution.--Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 19, 1781