[+/-] Today's quote: Mencken
~ H. L. Mencken
Saying the United States 'does not surrender to blackmail,' a judge ruled Thursday that pictures of detainee abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison must be released over government claims that they could damage America's image.
U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein ordered the release of certain pictures in a 50-page decision that said terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan have proven they "do not need pretexts for their barbarism."
The ACLU has sought the release of 87 photographs and four videotapes taken at the prison as part of an October 2003 lawsuit demanding information on the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody and the transfer of prisoners to countries known to use torture. The ACLU contends that prisoner abuse is systemic.
The judge said: "Our nation does not surrender to blackmail, and fear of blackmail is not a legally sufficient argument to prevent us from performing a statutory command. Indeed, the freedoms that we champion are as important to our success in Iraq and Afghanistan as the guns and missiles with which our troops are armed."
The existence of more photos and video was uncovered by Seymour Hersh last year but squelched during the November presidential election.
The Justice Department's inspector general and the F.B.I. are looking into the demotion of a veteran federal prosecutor whose reassignment nearly three years ago shut down a criminal investigation of the Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, current and former department officials report.
They said investigators had questioned whether the demotion of the prosecutor, Frederick A. Black, in November 2002 was related to his alert to Justice Department officials days earlier that he was investigating Mr. Abramoff. The lobbyist is a major Republican Party fund-raiser and a close friend of several Congressional leaders.
Colleagues said the demotion of Mr. Black, the acting United States attorney in Guam, and a subsequent order barring him from pursuing public corruption cases brought an end to his inquiry into Mr. Abramoff's lobbying work for some Guam judges.
Colleagues of Mr. Black, who had run the federal prosecutor's office in Guam for 12 years, spoke on condition of anonymity because of Justice Department rules that bar employees from talking to reporters. They said F.B.I. agents questioned several people in Guam and Washington this summer about whether Mr. Abramoff or his friends in the Bush administration had pushed for Mr. Black's removal. Mr. Abramoff's internal e-mail messages show that he boasted to clients about what he described as his close ties to John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, and others at the department.
The Bible contains a lot of hogwash which, in a modern context, has little or no validity. The Bible tells us that anyone who comes into contact with a woman who is menstruating must do penance. The Book of Leviticus, the section of the Bible which is the cornerstone of the frightening Christian Reconstructionist movement, condemns homosexuality under pain of death. It also condemns the touching of pig flesh on Sundays... under pain of death. That would certainly make football interesting. Whoever touches the ball dies.
When scientists announced last month they had determined the exact order of all 3 billion bits of genetic code that go into making a chimpanzee, it was no surprise that the sequence was more than 96 percent identical to the human genome....
Using a mathematical formula that emerges from evolutionary theory, [scientists] should be able to predict the number of harmful mutations in chimpanzee DNA by knowing the number of mutations in a different species' DNA and the two animals' population sizes.
"That's a very specific prediction," said Eric Lander, a geneticist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Mass., and a leader in the chimp project.
Sure enough, when Lander and his colleagues tallied the harmful mutations in the chimp genome, the number fit perfectly into the range that evolutionary theory had predicted....
Evolution's repeated power to predict the unexpected goes a long way toward explaining why so many scientists and others are practically apoplectic over the recent decision by a Pennsylvania school board to treat evolution as an unproven hypothesis, on par with "alternative" explanations such as Intelligent Design (ID), the proposition that life as we know it could not have arisen without the helping hand of some mysterious intelligent force....
"What makes evolution a scientific explanation is that it makes testable predictions," Lander said. "You only believe theories when they make non-obvious predictions that are confirmed by scientific evidence."
I do not support clerics, mullahs, and their elected-official enablers who insist that the police power of the state be marshalled to compel those families to bear children against their will....
[Y]ou and your cohort of extremists in Opus Dei, together with your extremist counterparts on the other side of the Reformation—profess to be worried about the constitutional rights that accrue to fetuses, embryos, and zygotes. Indeed, you are so worried about the rights of fetuses that you will install at the head of our nation’s highest court a man who almost surely will strip numerous constitutional rights from living humans. But then, your cohort is not always as concerned about humans ex utero as humans in utero.
The full text of the post is worth a read.
British troops will start a major withdrawal from Iraq next May under detailed plans on military disengagement to be published next month, The Observer can reveal.
The document being drawn up by the British government and the US will be presented to the Iraqi parliament in October and will spark fresh controversy over how long British troops will stay in the country. Tony Blair hopes that, despite continuing and widespread violence in Iraq, the move will show that there is progress following the conflict of 2003.
Japan willl probably follow soon thereafter:
Britain has already privately informed Japan - which also has troops in Iraq - of its plans to begin withdrawing from southern Iraq in May, a move that officials in Tokyo say would make it impossible for their own 550 soldiers to remain.
Meanwhile opposition to the war continues to grow in the US, as 100,000 anti-war demonstrators marched in protest in DC yesterday:
In the crowd: young activists, nuns whose anti-war activism dates to Vietnam, parents mourning their children in uniform lost in Iraq, and uncountable families motivated for the first time to protest....
While united against the war, political beliefs varied. Paul Rutherford, 60, of Vandalia, Mich., said he is a Republican who supported Bush in the last election and still does — except for the war.
"President Bush needs to admit he made a mistake in the war and bring the troops home, and let's move on," Rutherford said.
You might not have heard of the protests, though, since no major cable news channels sent any cameras to cover it. Here's some video and photo links instead. A counter-protest in support of the war drew a mere 400 persons, and a Bush appeal for donations to rebuild Iraq netted $600.
Former KBR employees and water quality specialists, Ben Carter and Ken May, told HalliburtonWatch that KBR knowingly exposes troops and civilians to contaminated water from Iraq's Euphrates River. One internal KBR email provided to HalliburtonWatch says that, for "possibly a year," the level of contamination at one camp was two times the normal level for untreated water.
"I discovered the water being delivered from the Euphrates for the military was not being treated properly and thousands were being exposed daily to numerous pathogenic organisms," Carter informed HalliburtonWatch.
Republicans on three separate congressional committees this week derailed three formal "resolutions of inquiry" by Democrats that would have required the Bush administration to turn over sensitive information and records relating to the outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame.
Had the resolutions of inquiry been adopted, they would have led to the first independent congressional inquiries of the Plame affair, and perhaps even the public testimony of senior Bush administration aides such as Karl Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff, and I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, the chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, about their personal roles.
In a victory for First Amendment advocates, a federal judge lifted a gag order on a Connecticut library from whom the FBI demanded patrons' records, allowing them to discuss openly their experience and participate in the broader debate about the PATRIOT Act. The judge issued a preliminary injunction against the government, barring it from enforcing gag orders on recipients of certain orders called National Security Letters (NSL), created under the PATRIOT Act.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who is also a plaintiff in the case, represent "John Doe," an unidentified member of the American Library Association. The ACLU filed the lawsuit on August 9 against the U.S. Department of Justice, and the case was originally under seal in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
The Clarion-Ledger has obtained a copy of an internal e-mail the U.S. Department of Justice sent out this week to various U.S. attorneys' offices: "Has your district defended any cases on behalf of the (U.S.) Army Corps of Engineers against claims brought by environmental groups seeking to block or otherwise impede the Corps work on the levees protecting New Orleans? If so, please describe the case and the outcome of the litigation."
In a stealth takeover by the Carlyle Group, facilitated by five admirals, the management contract will be transferred next year to the University of Texas, where the military and the Carlyle Group will have control. A new "ramping up" of the nuclear weapons program is underway, with program funding at the highest level ever - even higher than during the Cold War – extending nuclear weapons into outer space, into the very atmosphere that makes life on earth possible, and with no "real" enemy in sight.
Wanna bet that this story gets no national news coverage?
"Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you any more. There's no more money to spend--you used up all of that. You can't start another war because you used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people.
Listen to your Mom. The cupboard's bare, the credit cards maxed out. No one's speaking to you. Mission accomplished.
Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service and the oil company and the baseball team. It's time. Time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or space man? Now I know what you're saying: there's so many other things that you as President could involve yourself in. Please don't. I know, I know. There's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela. Eliminating the sales tax on yachts. Turning the space program over to the church. And Social Security to Fannie Mae. Giving embryos the vote.
But, Sir, none of that is going to happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives. You've performed so poorly I'm surprised that you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man. Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceded an entire city to rising water and snakes.
On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two trade centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans. Maybe you're just not lucky. I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side.
So, yes, God does speak to you. What he is saying is: 'Take a hint.'"
The Republican Party appears to be running the most extensive ongoing criminal enterprise since the days of the Gambino family. In fact, by comparison the Mafiosi were rather unimaginative....
Think about it. Suitcases of government cash in the millions doled out willy-nilly in Iraq with the only stipulation being that a percentage of it be returned to Republican coffers through campaign contributions. Want to throw an election? No problem. They'll jam the phone lines, corrupt local officials, whatever it takes. Contracts to benefit everyone in the family? Sure, they just award them without going through that quaint free-market practice known as "competitive bidding."
Almost two-thirds, 63 percent, said rebuilding the city devastated by Hurricane Katrina is more important to them than changing Social Security, and almost three-fourths, 73 percent, said rebuilding the flooded city is more important to them than cutting taxes, according to a CBS-New York Times poll released Wednesday.
A large majority of Americans, 73 percent, said they think their taxes will increase as a result of Katrina. More than half of those polled said they were willing to pay more taxes to help with Katrina recovery, job training and housing for victims.
Bush's entire presidency and reelection campaign were organized around one master idea: He stood as the protector and savior of the American people under siege.... The deepest wound is not that he was incapable of defending the country but that he has shown he lacks the will to do so. In Bush's own evangelical language, he revealed his heart.
Overnight, the press disclosed a petulant, vacillating president it had not noticed before.... a "rigid and top-down" White House where aides are petrified to deliver bad news to a "yelling" president. [Where] top White House aides, who "cringe" before the "cold and snappish" president, met to decide which of them would be assigned the miserable task of telling Bush he would have to cut short his summer vacation.
HOUSTON—On Tuesday, Halliburton received a $110 million no-bid government contract to pry the gold fillings from the mouths of deceased disaster victims in the New Orleans-Gulf Coast area. "We are proud to serve the government in this time of crisis by recovering valuable resources from the wreckage of this deadly storm," said David J. Lesar, Halliburton's president. "The gold we recover from the human rubble of Katrina can be used to make fighter-jet electronics, supercomputer chips, inflation-proof A-grade investments, and luxury yachting watches."
Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools was declared unconstitutional today by a federal judge ruling in the second attempt by an atheist to have the pledge removed from classrooms. The man lost his previous battle before the U.S. Supreme Court.
U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that the pledge's reference to one nation 'under God' violates school children's right to be "free from a coercive requirement to affirm God."
Karlton said he was bound by precedent of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which in 2002 ruled in favor of Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow that the pledge is unconstitutional when recited in public schools.
The Supreme Court dismissed the case last year, saying Newdow lacked standing because he did not have custody of his elementary school daughter he sued on behalf of.
Newdow, an attorney and a medical doctor, filed an identical case on behalf of three unnamed parents and their children. Karlton said those families have the right to sue.
Karlton, ruling in Sacramento, said he would sign a restraining order preventing the recitation of the pledge at the Elk Grove Unified, Rio Linda and Elverta Joint Elementary school districts, where the plaintiffs' children attend.
HEY SENATORS! Please please PLEASE ask for John Roberts' opinion on this ruling!
I don't believe ID advocates are sincere about wanting to teach the controversy. If they are, they simply haven't thought through the implications.
A controversy, remember, has two sides. And if alleged weaknesses in evolution theory are to be taught in our schools as science, then scientific evidence against the existence of an intelligent designer or God must be taught, too.
That's how science works. If you propose a theory, you issue an invitation to others to shoot holes in your theory.
So think about that: Do we really want science teachers exploring the evidence for — but also against — the existence of a designer? I don't think that's wise or useful for a number of reasons, but that's what a rigorous and intellectually honest debate would require....
When advocates of intelligent design deny that they are advancing religious faith, they aren't being honest. They're telling a lie, no matter how well-intended, and it's a lie that fools no one. Yet they want everyone to pretend to believe it.
Of course, I would also want to have the teachings of his Noodly Greatness included in the curriculum.
Shortly after Hurricane Katrina roared through South Mississippi knocking out electricity and communication systems, the White House ordered power restored to a pipeline that sends fuel to the Northeast.
That order - to restart two power substations in Collins that serve Colonial Pipeline Co. - delayed efforts by at least 24 hours to restore power to two rural hospitals and a number of water systems in the Pine Belt....
"I considered it a presidential directive to get those pipelines operating," said Jim Compton, general manager of the South Mississippi Electric Power Association - which distributes power that rural electric cooperatives sell to consumers and businesses.
"I reluctantly agreed to pull half our transmission line crews off other projects and made getting the transmission lines to the Collins substations a priority," Compton said. "Our people were told to work until it was done."...
Dan Jordan, manager of Southern Pines Electric Power Association, said Vice President Dick Cheney's office called and left voice mails twice shortly after the storm struck, saying the Collins substations needed power restored immediately.
In fact, Bush – who over the weekend told Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to "get rid of Brown any way you have to" – took a call from Chertoff while en route to the Gulf Coast aboard Air Force One. Chertoff told Bush he had Brown’s resignation in hand but the President ordered the Homeland Security secretary to delay announcement of Brown’s resignation until after the New Orleans photo op because he didn’t want his tour upstaged.
White House sources confirmed the timeline Monday night, saying the President was "caught off guard" when a miffed Brown announced the resignation on his own while Bush was in New Orleans and reporters started asking questions.
Companies with strong ties to President Bush are clinching some of the administration's first disaster relief and reconstruction contracts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
At least two major corporate clients of lobbyist Joe Allbaugh, President George W. Bush's former campaign manager and a former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have already been tapped to start recovery work along the battered Gulf Coast.
One is Shaw Group Inc. and the other is Halliburton Co. subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root. Vice President Dick Cheney is a former head of Halliburton....
Allbaugh is also a friend of Michael Brown, director of FEMA who was removed as head of Katrina disaster relief and sent back to Washington amid allegations he had padded his resume....
On Friday, Kellogg Brown & Root received $29.8 million in Pentagon contracts to begin rebuilding Navy bases in Louisiana and Mississippi. Norcross said the work was covered under a contract that the company negotiated before Allbaugh was hired.
Halliburton continues to be a source of income for Cheney, who served as its chief executive officer from 1995 until 2000 when he joined the Republican ticket for the White House. According to tax filings released in April, Cheney's income included $194,852 in deferred pay from the company, which has also won billion-dollar government contracts in Iraq.
Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, and we'll let them die in a filthy and decrepit storm-ravaged American football stadium while our president languishes on vacation and ponders his oil futures and fondly remembers his good ol' days of getting drunk at Mardi Gras before going AWOL from the military. God bless America.
Driving his own pickup, with two trucks blockading both sides of the street, Bush Administration Senior Political Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff, Karl Rove made a surprise sunset visit/photo-op Tuesday night to the half dozen or so Bush supporters camped across the street from 'Camp Casey' in Crawford, Texas where Cindy Sheehan -- whose son, Casey, was killed in Iraq -- originally made her stand requesting a meeting and an explanation from George W. Bush...
You are NOT on the Nanovirus home page. Go here to read more articles!