Sunday, July 31, 2005

My Left Wing :: With Democratic Support, Bush Agenda Moves Forward
Over-looked in the billion (trillion) dollar giveaway that was the Energy Bill is this little gem- will the dire predictions of deregulation come true? Based on the unsurpassed greed of the last few years, my guess is yes. For better understanding of PUHCA, the acronym that no one is talking about, go here.

"Tonight we're going to party like it's 1929..."

One would never know George Bush's poll numbers were in record lows. Usually such unimpeded legislative victories are reserved for popular presidents.

But today, the president won a historic victory for Mr Cheney's long sought energy bill. A bill that will do more to change the US economic landscape than any in generations. The relatively mild deregulations that brought Enron to California in the 1990s pale in comparison. This bill is set to take Enronization nation wide.

What FDR's New Deal, Public Utility Holding Company Act did seventy years ago was prevent large corporations from gaming our national energy supply. As a natural monopoly with a "captive" consumer base, it was recognized that the energy market was prime for exploitation. That our very survival, economically and physically, required reliable, stable, and affordable energy. And that allowing energy to be traded as just another commodity was a severe threat to our very way of life.

This was not just because of the captive monopoly factor, but because energy is not just another commodity. It is the singular driver of the production of all other commodities. Without energy, we produce nothing.

So today marks the passing of an era. We now go from almost a century of stable energy prices based on a healthy blend of market forces and strong consumer protections, localized and accountable oversight of utility companies, and a general, personal and economic security in always knowing where your next kilowatt is coming from, to a veritable free market wild west. The Thatcherization that has destroyed so many economies in the Third World has now begun full scale here.

Today also marks the moment in history when it may be said that the decrepit, corporate decay that has plagued the Democratic party for the last two decades became terminal. And as a lifelong, multi-generational Democrat, I don't say that lightly.

Of course, hardly anyone will know it. As with the last time I wrote on this subject, I Google News-ed the Public Utility Holding Company Act or PUHCA and only a handful of newspapers in the world have mentioned it in the last day. And then, with most, only in passing.

This despite the fact that the repeal of PUHCA is by far the most critical piece of this most corrupt and cynical legislation. As Kelpie Wilson points out, a "trillion dollars worth of utility assets are about to be deregulated and no one knows about it."

No one knows about it? Pretty much. Aside from the veritable press blackout on the issue, there have been few mentions in the blogosphere either. Other than Meteor Blades' post which was frontpaged by Armando (thanks Armando) the energy bill has almost been ignored. Or perhaps drowned out by the almost Michael Jackson-esque obsession with Rove-gate.

Here is the original diary by the fantastic Meteor Blades at Kos.

Bigger, smarter minds than mine can dissect all of this- but on the surface this seems to be a big, bad deal. And no one is talking about it.

Well, when your electricity bill is $300 a month, remember these Democrats-

Here are the Senate Democrats who voted for Big Money, Big Energy and against you.

Akaka (D-HI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Byrd (D-WV)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Conrad (D-ND)
Dayton (D-MN)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Harkin (D-IA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (D-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Nelson (D-NE)
Obama (D-IL)
Pryor (D-AR)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Salazar (D-CO)
Stabenow (D-MI)

Sadly I note that Levin and Stabenow are on the list. One can only guess at their reasons why, perhaps because the bill does not raise fuel efficiency standards (a bow to our lazy auto makers) or perhaps because it bans drilling in the Great Lakes. (OK, banning drilling in the Great Lakes is an extremely good thing in my book. But did we have to give away the farm?)

Mark this day, kids. As Han Solo would say, "I've got a bad feeling about this...."

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Bush Urges Congress Not to Rest on Laurels - Yahoo! News
Scott McClellan laughs at us.....

WASHINGTON - President Bush on Saturday celebrated victories Congress handed him this week, but he urged lawmakers not to rest on their laurels and to quickly approve his nomination of John Roberts to serve on the Supreme Court.

Senators should use their August recess "to prepare to act on my nomination" of Roberts, Bush said in his weekly radio address. "This talented and capable man will fairly interpret the Constitution and laws, not legislate from the bench."

The White House didn't wait for the prerecorded broadcast to issue quiet rejoinders to the talk of recent weeks that Bush could end up with little to show for his second term.

"Just two months ago, there were people in this room and some of your colleagues that were talking about lame-duck status and the president wasn't going to be able to get anything done, and the Supreme Court nomination would derail the domestic agenda," spokesman Scott McClellan scolded reporters on Friday.

"Well, the fact is that we have been working together with Congress and we're delivering real results for the American people," he said.

After bad news from Iraq and the firestorm over whether Bush aide Karl Rove helped disclose a CIA officer's identity for political purposes, Bush saw victory this week on the Central American Free Trade Agreement, overcoming heavy Democratic opposition with last-minute arm-twisting.

The president plans a signing ceremony for the trade measure on Tuesday before he leaves Washington to spend August at his Texas ranch.

Congress also passed — after Bush spent five years urging a major change in energy policy — a White House-backed energy bill. And lawmakers approved $286.4 billion highway legislation that was pared to just over $2 billion more than what had originally solicited a Bush veto threat.

Both bills have been promised the president's signature, though perhaps not before he leaves Washington.

Fucking Democrats. We have the ball, and we fumble it away. Every fucking time. Wildy unpopular president, with wildly unpopular policies, and we sit back and give him victories. And get chastised by that lying weasel Scott McClellan.

Jebus. What a horrible week.
It's All About Me:


You give your love and friendship unconditionaly. You enjoy long, thoughtful conversations rich in philosophy and spirituality. You are very loyal and intuitive.

Find out your color at Quiz Me!

Friday, July 29, 2005

Funny thing from someone at Kos:

I wish I could remember who- it fits all my posting today-

"We should make the people of Congress dress up like NASCAR know, with all the patches of their "sponsors" on their clothes."

So fitting.

Daily Kos: Frist Pulls Defense Spending Bill In Face of Republican Anti-Torture Amendments
Just go read this. Here's a paragraph...

Simply amazing. In the face of a series of amendments by Republican Senators McCain, Warner and Graham that would have instituted new rules against torture, as well as other Republican-backed attempts to strengthen veterans benefits and delay base closures until after the Iraq War, Bill Frist has simply pulled the entire $450 billion defense bill from the Senate floor. Funding the troops now won't be reconsidered until after the summer recess.

Frist then goes on to work on "gun manufacturer liability" in the guise of supporting the troops. Hysterical. Sort of. The follies continue....

Senate expected to approve energy bill - Yahoo! News
Massive tax breaks for people like Exxon Mobil, who reported a 32% second quarter profit increase. This bill is a giveaway to corporations that are already rolling in the dough. For the consumer? Well, here's a tax credit of...wait for it...a whole $500 for installing energy efficient windows! Wow!

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate was poised on Friday to approve a $14.5 billion energy bill that is championed by the White House as a way to increase U.S. supplies and reduce demand but criticized by environmental groups.

Supporters say the measure will revive America's nuclear power industry, boost oil drilling, convert coal into a cleaner-burning fuel and use home-grown corn to stretch gasoline supplies.

Environmental groups and some Democrats criticize its extensive tax breaks, subsidies and loan guarantees as a lavish gift to an industry enjoying near-record profits.

The Senate was scheduled to vote on Friday on the energy bill, following the lead of the House of Representatives that approved it by a wide margin on Thursday. President Bush -- who spent the past four years pressing Congress to overhaul U.S. energy policy -- was expected to sign it into law soon afterward.

The bill will have no short-term impact on gasoline prices or oil imports, Republicans acknowledged. But longer term, they said it would revitalize all types of energy production.

And check this one out- just when you thought you were safe, back from the dark, dead pits of hell and greed comes ......Tom DeLay! And he's got a bunch of money for his friends! And he tacked this on after debate on the bill was closed!

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - House Majority Leader Tom DeLay quietly slipped into the energy bill a $1.5 billion fund for oil and natural gas drilling research that will benefit an energy consortium based in his home district, a California Democrat said on Wednesday.

The measure was criticized as a "giveaway to one of the most profitable industries in America," by Rep. Henry Waxman, who demanded that the fund be dropped from the legislation before a House vote on the energy bill on Thursday.

The House is expected to approve the wide-ranging energy bill, which includes some $14.5 billion in tax breaks and incentives mostly for oil, natural gas, coal and electricity companies.

Waxman said the $1.5 billion fund for ultra-deepwater drilling was added to the final energy bill this week after House and Senate negotiators called a halt to any more amendments. The 30-page measure appeared in the text of the energy bill after Texas Rep. Joe Barton had officially ended the House and Senate conference committee to combine legislation passed by each chamber, he said.

"Obviously, it would be a serious abuse to secretly slip such a costly and controversial provision into the energy legislation," Waxman said in a letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

A spokesman for DeLay defended the fund, saying it was in the energy bill approved by the House in April.

"The project is only new to Mr. Waxman if he failed to read the House bill he had voted on," the spokesman said, adding he could not explain how the item was added to the final version of legislation prepared by the Senate and House negotiators.

Waxman said the fund would steer most of the money to a private consortium based in Sugar Land, DeLay's home district, by directing the Energy Department to "contract with a corporation that is constructed as a consortium."

Members of the consortium, Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America, include Halliburton Co., Marathon Oil Corp. and several universities, according to the group's web site.

That's a mighty big piece 'o pork there, Tom. 1.5 billion, is that some kind of record?

This statement about the energy bill comes from Pelosi's office. I'm going to blog the whole damn thing.

WASHINGTON, July 28 /U.S. Newswire/ -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today in opposition to the joint House-Senate energy bill conference report that passed in the House this afternoon:

"The American people need and deserve an energy policy that will reduce energy prices, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and reduce pollution. Unfortunately this bill is not the answer.

"While it is an improvement over the original House bill, it is not good enough for the American people. Several of the most egregious provisions have been removed, thanks to the tireless work of the Democrats who served on the conference committee.

"We kept the heat on the MTBE give-away and the massive roll-back of the Clean Air Act until they were withdrawn. We fought to protect the Arctic National Refuge, making it too hot for the Republicans to handle -- forcing them to withdraw from the energy bill their plan to drill in the pristine wilderness.

"Nonetheless, like its predecessors, this energy bill is a missed opportunity. It does not address the issues that the American people care about -- lower gas prices at the pump, a healthy environment, safe water to drink, and cleaner air. This bill is still anti-taxpayer, anti-consumer, and anti-environment.

"It is anti-taxpayer with billions of dollars in gifts to the oil, gas, and nuclear industries, including a new production tax credit for eight years.

"Then there is the special gift for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. After the gavel went down on the energy bill conference, a provision was included that sets up a special $1.5 billion fund for the oil industry to conduct research on how to find oil, and a leading contender to host the consortium is Sugar Land, Texas. Consortium members, including Halliburton and Marathon Oil, can receive awards from the fund. There you have it: big oil, Halliburton, and Tom DeLay, all in one neat symbolic package.

"At a time when Congress is trying to scrape together enough federal funding for veterans' health care, Social Security, education, Medicare, and Medicaid, why are we giving away taxpayer money hand over fist to well-established, profitable companies?

"The energy bill is anti-consumer. It fails to protect consumers from high gasoline prices. It fails to adequately protect consumers from price manipulations and future Enrons. And it fails to protect our national security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

"Last but not least, this bill is anti-environment. It carves out exemptions for the oil and gas industry from the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Clean Water Act. It also authorizes an oil and gas inventory of the Outer Continental Shelf, opening the door to oil and gas drilling in the protected areas off our shores."

There you go America. Your Congress, which just got done giving away your jobs, turns around and gives a bunch of money to the energy companies.

Are we having fun yet? We will soon!

Senate's Leader Veers From Bush Over Stem Cells - New York Times
What's that sound? It's the sound of Bill's thumpin' buddies rushing for the exits in the "Right to Life for Frist '08" room. Looks like Bill has slipped out of the leash on this one. Run, Bill, run!

WASHINGTON, July 28 - In a break with President Bush, the Senate Republican leader, Bill Frist, has decided to support a bill to expand federal financing for embryonic stem cell research, a move that could push it closer to passage and force a confrontation with the White House, which is threatening to veto the measure.

Mr. Frist, a heart-lung transplant surgeon who said last month that he did not back expanding financing "at this juncture," is expected to announce his decision Friday morning in a lengthy Senate speech. In it, he says that while he has reservations about altering Mr. Bush's four-year-old policy, which placed strict limits on taxpayer financing for the work, he supports the bill nonetheless.

Mr. Frist's move will undoubtedly change the political landscape in the debate over embryonic stem cell research, one of the thorniest moral issues to come before Congress. The chief House sponsor of the bill, Representative Michael N. Castle, Republican of Delaware, said, "His support is of huge significance."

The stem cell bill has passed the House but is stalled in the Senate, where competing measures are also under consideration. Because Mr. Frist's colleagues look to him for advice on medical matters, his support for the bill could break the Senate logjam. It could also give undecided Republicans political license to back the legislation, which is already close to having the votes it needs to pass the Senate.

The move could also have implications for Mr. Frist's political future. The senator is widely considered a potential candidate for the presidency in 2008, and supporting an expansion of the policy will put him at odds not only with the White House but also with Christian conservatives, whose support he will need in the race for the Republican nomination. But the decision could also help him win support among centrists.

"I am pro-life," Mr. Frist says in the speech, arguing that he can reconcile his support for the science with his own Christian faith. "I believe human life begins at conception."

But at the same time, he says, "I also believe that embryonic stem cell research should be encouraged and supported."

I would love to see Bush veto this. Watch those approval ratings slip down to the 30's, and cement his administration in the "unpopular" category for all time.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

US House passes Central American trade pact - Yahoo! News

"Well we’re living here in Allentown
And they’re closing all the factories down..."

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives narrowly approved a free-trade agreement with Central America on Thursday, handing President Bush a hard-fought victory in difficult times for efforts to expand global trade.

The Republican-controlled House voted 217-215 in favor of the U.S.-Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA, after a final push by Bush and top aides to win over many reluctant Republicans.

Only 15 of the House's 202 Democrats backed CAFTA, and 27 Republicans opposed it.

The agreement eliminates tariffs on U.S. exports to Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. It also locks in and expands the duty-free access those countries already have to the U.S. market.

The pact's approval came as international negotiators struggle to make progress toward a new world-trade agreement. A congressional defeat of CAFTA would dealt a heavy blow to the talks by raising questions about Washington's ability to follow through on trade deals.

Another blow to my great state...will the last manufacturing job leaving Michigan please turn off the lights? Thank you.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Canada legalizes gay marriage nationwide - Americas -
And yet, the world still stands. Interesting. Must be God isn't pissed off about that after all.

TORONTO - Canada became the fourth country in the world to legalize gay marriage nationwide after a landmark bill was signed into law on Wednesday.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin signed the bill, and it was read in the House of Commons and Senate, making it law. The Senate voted late Tuesday to adopt the legislation to legalize gay marriage despite fierce opposition from Conservatives and religious leaders.

The bill grants same-sex couples legal rights equal to those in traditional unions between a man and a woman, something already legal in eight of Canada's 10 provinces and in two of its three territories.

The legislation drafted by Prime Minister Paul Martin's minority Liberal Party government easily passed the Senate, which essentially rubber stamps any bill already passed by the House of Commons, which passed it late last month.

The Netherlands, Belgium and Spain are the only other nations that allow gay marriage nationwide.

Look, Mom...CIVILIZED people! Wow.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Bush chooses Judge Roberts for Supreme Court - Yahoo! News
Why, it's a white guy with helmet hair who filed briefs on behalf of Operation Rescue! Why am I not surprised? This -from the New York Times- was all I needed to hear about this guy-

"The president is a man of his word," said Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group. "He promised to nominate someone along the lines of a Scalia or a Thomas, and that is exactly what he has done."


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush chose conservative appeals court judge John Roberts on Tuesday as his first nominee to the Supreme Court, igniting what could be a fierce partisan clash over his drive to move the closely divided court to the right.

With Roberts at his side, Bush appealed for a "dignified confirmation process" and a timely vote by the Senate. Bush sought to cast Roberts as a bipartisan choice with the right legal background and "a good heart," hoping to avoid the bitter Senate battles that blocked 10 of his most conservative nominees to lower courts during his first term.

At 50 years of age, Roberts could put Bush's stamp on the court for decades to come if he is confirmed by the Senate.

A solidly conservative Republican, Roberts would replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman on the high court and a moderate conservative who often controlled the outcome on issues such as abortion, affirmative action and civil liberties.

Senate Democrats voiced concern about Roberts' record and promised a full review. "No one is entitled to a free pass to a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Abortion rights groups seized on a brief he co-wrote in 1990 that suggested the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion should be overturned.

The American Civil Liberties Union expressed "deep concern" that Roberts, while serving as principal deputy solicitor general from 1989-1993, had backed the criminalization of flag burning as a form of political protest.

Roberts was part of a three-judge panel that handed Bush an important victory last week when it ruled that the military tribunals of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, could proceed. The treatment of prisoners there has been criticized by human rights groups and in the Arab world.

The quicker-than-expected decision on a replacement for retiring O'Connor could help the White House deflect attention from a growing controversy over the role of Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, in leaking a covert CIA operative's identity, Republican strategists said.

Administration officials said Rove was not a factor in the timing of the announcement.

*cough*bullshit*cough* This morning, no talk of Rove on the Today show's first news blip. Just last week, they were saying that it would "take several weeks" to nominate someone. Earlier this week, it was "Bush will spend this week interviewing" potential nominees. Then, boom, here it is Tuesday, and here is a controversial nominee for the press to slobber over.

Uh huh. No timing here whatsoever.

On a personal note, sorry I haven't written much lately. Just haven't felt like it.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Shawn Colvin Official Website Homepage

Any Shawn fans out there? Check out her new website- very nice.

I get the impression she was dropped by Columbia- hurry up with a new album already! Who needs the major labels anymore?

Poll suggests drop in Bush's personal credibility - Yahoo! News
Geeez America, YA THINK? What finally tipped you off?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush's personal credibility appears to be eroding at a time when Iraq has become the top public priority and the White House is engulfed in controversy over senior Bush adviser Karl Rove, a poll released on Wednesday suggested.

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed the percentage of Americans who believe Bush is "honest and straightforward" fell to 41 percent from 50 percent in January, while those who say they doubt his veracity climbed to 45 percent from 36 percent.

The telephone survey, which was conducted July 8-11 and included responses from 1,009 adults, also showed that Iraq has replaced jobs as the leading issue among Americans.

With a 3.1 percent margin of error, polling data said 40 percent see Iraq as the top priority for the United States, against 34 percent who view jobs as their main concern. In January, jobs ranked highest among 46 percent to 39 percent for Iraq.

The new poll also showed Bush's overall job approval rating slipping to 46 percent from 47 percent in May, while his disapproval rating crept upward to 49 percent from 47 percent.

The White House this week has been reeling amid controversy over Rove, the top Bush political adviser who was named by a Time magazine reporter as one of the sources who identified CIA agent Valerie Plame to the media in 2003.

It still astounds me that his approval rating is 46%. What the fuck is wrong with you people? Seriously, what (else) does the man have to do before the rest of you get a clue?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

White House Leaks: A serious security matter
It will be interesting to see how and if the WH reacts to all of this. My guess? The arrogance and stonewalling will continue. I'm pretty sure these folks think they are above the law. (that may be the understatement of the year)

President Bush has plenty of evidence to begin acting on Karl Rove's involvement in the disclosure of a secret agent's name to exact political vengeance. The president's choice will say a lot about whether he intends to control abuses of power within what some see as one of the most power-hungry administrations the United States has ever experienced.

The president ought to be outraged that, so far, one reporter has gone to jail for acting honestly while some in his administration continue to be free of consequences for revealing Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA operative. The leak of her name and role to Bush-friendly columnist Robert Novak in 2003 was a violation of federal law, if done deliberately.

For reasons that aren't clear but should cause great unease, Novak apparently faces no legal difficulty while New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who didn't write about the disclosure, sits in jail for rightly refusing to disclose her sources as a matter of high principle.

Bush administration officials became angry at Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, in July 2003, when he revealed that an investigative trip he made to Niger in 2002 showed that Iraq had made no effort to acquire uranium there. In a New York Times Op-Ed article, Wilson said the administration had twisted the evidence to make a case for its invasion of Iraq earlier in the year.

Now, Newsweek reports show that Rove, Bush's closest political adviser and currently deputy White House chief of staff, was one of the aides discussing Plame's work with reporters. And it was done in precisely the context everyone understood lay behind her outing: Rove was trying to discredit Wilson.

Rove's lawyer said his client did not use Plame's name in the conversation, apparently referring to her only as Wilson's wife and a CIA official. That may be relevant in determining whether, under the law, Rove committed a crime by revealing her identity. It should hold little weight with the president.

Bush should first be outraged at Rove and then eager to clean out a high-ranking official or group of officials who showed disrespect for the spirit and perhaps the letter of the law. It should be especially infuriating to the president that all of the misconduct by his administration, and indirectly the imprisonment of Miller, has been done in his name.

Yes, Bush should be outraged. But he won't be. The man is a sociopath. I honestly think that he doesn't give shit one about anyone but himself and his cronies.

Question is: Will America care? Have we become so jaded that we almost expect criminal behavior from powerful officials?

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Lansing State Journal:Granholm leading DeVos in latest poll
Let's keep it this way.

Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm leads likely Republican opponent Dick DeVos 51 percent to 33 percent in a new poll released Friday. Sixteen percent were undecided.

The governor's job approval and favorability ratings remain above 50 percent, nearly unchanged since March. Republicans have criticized Granholm for not doing enough to help boost the state's struggling economy, but the sharp words apparently have not done much to dent how voters feel about her.

The latest poll surveyed 934 people and was done June 29 through Thursday by Lansing-based EPIC-MRA. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The EPIC-MRA poll did not do matchups between Granholm and the other GOP candidates, state Sen. Nancy Cassis of Novi and state Rep. Jack Hoogendyk of Kalamazoo.

Greg McNeilly of the DeVos campaign said the poll is interesting but not very meaningful 482 days before the election, especially since DeVos is only now getting his campaign off the ground.

Granholm spokeswoman Liz Boyd said the governor is doing her best to get the economy moving again with proposals to revamp the state's main business tax and create an investment fund to promote the growth of high-tech jobs.

Repeat after me: Dick DeVos supports outsourcing jobs to China. Dick DeVos supports outsourcing jobs to China. Dick DeVos supports outsourcing jobs to China.

Got it? Good. Let's help Dick get his name out there.

Friday, July 08, 2005

IOC Drops Baseball, Softball From Games - Yahoo! News
Must be they have been watching the Cubs also. After dropping eight straight, the last one in completely horrific fashion, I'm about ready to drop baseball. (not really- just frustrated right now.)

SINGAPORE - Baseball and softball weren't big hits among International Olympic Committee members.

Both American-invented sports were dropped Friday from the program for the 2012 Olympics in London — the first events cut from the Summer Games in 69 years. The IOC couldn't agree on their replacements.

Each of the 28 existing sports was put to a secret vote by the IOC, and baseball and softball failed to receive a majority required to stay on the program. The other 26 sports made the cut.

The IOC then voted from a waiting list of five sports: golf, rugby, squash, karate and roller sports. Squash and karate won the ballots, but then were rejected in final confirmation votes.

Requiring a two-thirds approval for inclusion on the program, squash was rejected 63-39 and karate 63-38.

It was a stunning conclusion to a long, complex voting procedure, and means that 26 sports will be contested at the London Games.

"I would like to thank you very much because this was a very, very important day for the International Olympic Committee," IOC president Jacques Rogge said. "You have taken important decisions — and this was a very democratic process."

Baseball and softball, which will remain on the program for the 2008 Beijing Games, are the first sports eliminated from the Olympics since polo in 1936.

Seriously, I'm rather disappointed about this. Baseball is played the world over now- and they wanted to vote in squash?


Army gives $5 bln of work to Halliburton - Yahoo! News
Sure would like to see this investigated. How about a list of what they have done so far? How is this money being spent? Why doesn't anyone care?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military has signed on Halliburton (NYSE:HAL - news) to do nearly $5 billion in new work in Iraq under a giant logistics contract that has so far earned the Texas-based firm $9.1 billion, the Army said on Wednesday.

Linda Theis, a spokeswoman for U.S. Army Field Support Command in Rock Island, Illinois, said the military signed the work order with Halliburton unit Kellogg Brown and Root in May.

The new deal, worth $4.97 billion over the next year, was not made public when it was signed because the Army did not consider such an announcement necessary, she said.

"We did not announce this task order as this is really not something we ever really thought about doing," said Theis.

Halliburton, which was run by Vice President Dick Cheney from 1995-2000, has been under scrutiny for its contracts in Iraq and several U.S. government agencies are looking into whether it overcharged for some work.

A Halliburton spokeswoman said the new spending package was approved by the Army after the company submitted estimated costs for the year based on services requested.

The $4.97 billion figure represented the maximum under the contract, and the actual amount could be lower since the Army doled out the work on an incremental basis, she said.

The new contract is about $1 billion more than the company earned under last year's services contract.

In March, a former KBR employee and a Kuwaiti citizen were indicted for defrauding the U.S. government of more than $3.5 million by inflating the cost of fuel tankers.

The new work order, called Task Order 89, is valid until April 30, 2006, and went ahead despite critical military audits released last week by Democratic opponents of KBR's Iraq work.

A top U.S. Army procurement official said last week Halliburton's deals in Iraq were the worst example of contract abuse she had ever seen, a claim KBR strongly rejected as "political rhetoric."

Might be easier to just set up their own engraving machines and printing press. Just let them print out as much money as they want. Whats the difference?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

It's All About Bert:

Check out my terror alert level! Right now!

It really works!

I was wrong about the stock market. This is why I don't play the stock market. Me no smart on those sorts of things!

Iraq signs military pact with Iran - Yahoo! News
Lost in the noise of the London bombings was this interesting little tidbit. Wonder if it will get any play on the news now...

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq signed a military pact with Iran on Wednesday in a breakthrough with a former foe, but al Qaeda said it would kill Egypt's kidnapped envoy and attack more diplomats to stop the government winning international support.

Defense Minister Saadoun al-Dulaimi signed a pact in Tehran agreeing to accept Iranian military training and other cooperation with the country Iraq fought for a decade under ousted leader Saddam Hussein.

Responding to the suggestion that the thaw in ties with Iran would anger Washington, Dulaimi said: "Nobody can dictate to Iraq its relations with other countries."

Iraq is anxiously trying to improve its ties with other Muslim countries to win legitimacy and undermine insurgent support. But mainly Sunni-led Arab states have been cautious about embracing the Shi'ite-dominated, U.S.-backed Iraqi authorities.

Al Qaeda's Iraq wing, led by Jordanian Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, said it would kill Egypt's top envoy Ihab el-Sherif, issuing photographs of personal documents as proof it held him.

Its statement referred to a "sharp sword against the infidels' ambassador," an apparent hint that he could be beheaded. It included no demands or possibility of negotiation. Zarqawi's followers have frequently filmed beheadings of captives for maximum political impact.

What the kidnapping has to do with this military pact....I'm not sure. Rather strange report. But interesting that the Iraqi government would in any way align itself with Iran.

Explosions hit London as G8 leaders meet - Yahoo! News

LONDON (Reuters) - A series of explosions ripped through London's underground rail system on Thursday morning, killing several people, in what appeared to be co-ordinated attacks to coincide with the start of a G8 summit in Scotland.

Blasts were also reported on buses. Eyewitnesses said the top was ripped off a double-decker bus near Russell Square close to King's Cross train terminal.

They saw the twisted wreckage of a second bus nearby.

People were seen streaming out of one underground station covered with blood and soot. Passengers were evacuated from stations across the capital, many in shock and with their clothes ripped to shreds, witnesses said.

The cause of the blasts, which occurred one day after London was awarded the 2012 Olympics, was unknown, but police said many of the city's underground stations were affected.

Security experts said the incidents bore all the hallmarks of terror network al Qaeda.

"If we what are looking at is a simultaneous bombing -- and it does look like that -- it would very certainly fit the classic al Qaeda methodology," said Dr. Shane Brighton, intelligence expert at the Royal United Services Institute for Defense.

Watch America go ballistic this morning. Watch Blair and Bush use this as proof that their moves in "the war on terror" are right. Why, they've made us safer, haven't they? Watch the markets tank.

Oh, shit.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Democratic Party: Sign Our Birthday Card to President Bush
Send George some birthday wishes. I did.

Republicans want to speed up death penalty - Yahoo! News
Ahhh, the "culture of life" crowd rears its ugly head once again.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans in Congress have launched a new effort to speed up executions in the United States by limiting the ability of those sentenced to death to appeal to federal courts.

The "Streamlined Procedures Act of 2005," introduced into the House of Representatives by California Rep. Dan Lungren and in the Senate by Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, would limit the ability of defendants facing the death sentence to have their cases reviewed by federal courts in what are known as habeas corpus appeals.

"You see delays in death penalty cases where they are allowed to drag on for 15 or even 25 years. Defense attorneys have come to believe the longer they delay, the better it is for their clients," Lungren said in an interview.

"We're trying to ensure that habeas corpus is not used as a reason for interminable delays and that defendants get one bite of the apple and not multiple bites," he said.

Virginia Rep. Bobby Scott, the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee considering the bill, conceded there was little chance of blocking it in the House.

"The House has been very supportive of anything that would strip the innocent of a fair hearing. This bill will ensure that more innocent people will be put to death," he said in a telephone interview.

Death penalty opponents say the law would strip the ability of federal courts to review most claims in capital cases.

"It seeks a radical cutting and slashing of our existing process of habeas corpus reviews of state convictions," University of Chicago law professor Bernard Harcourt said last week in a hearing before the House subcommittee reviewing the legislation. "This new bill would effectively gut habeas corpus review where states have imposed a sentence of death."

More barbaric by the day.

Chicago Cubs : News : All-Star Lee aggravates shoulder
Wave bye-bye to the season. If Lee is out for any length of time, we are headed for the basement. Hell, we are headed for the basement anyway.

ATLANTA -- Chicago Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee will undergo an MRI on Wednesday on his left shoulder, which has some inflammation and forced him out of Tuesday's game.

"It's from one swing," Lee said. "I just tweaked it a little bit and it caused some inflammation."

Lee was in obvious pain after aggravating his shoulder when he fouled a pitch off in the first inning. He struck out in the at-bat, but stayed in the game defensively until he was lifted in the third.

Lee, the top vote-getter in the National League All-Star balloting, has had some inflammation in his shoulder for nearly two weeks. He declined an invitation to participate in the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game because of it.

Lee entered the game leading the National League in batting with a .378 average, and was second in home runs with 25 and tied for second in RBIs with 67.

*sigh* It's all over but the cryin'. I just don't see how this team makes it back from this far down.

Monday, July 04, 2005

NASA probe collides with comet in brilliant blast - Yahoo! News
We be some smart monkeys.

PASADENA, Calif. (Reuters) - A NASA spacecraft collided with a comet half the size of Manhattan late on Sunday night, creating a brilliant cosmic smashup that capped a risky voyage to uncover the building blocks of life on Earth.

"We hit it just exactly where we wanted to," said Don Yeomans, a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

The spectacular collision, 83 million miles away from Earth, unleashed a spray of below-surface material formed billions of years ago during the creation of the solar system. It was the first time a craft came in contact with a comet's nucleus.

"As of now, I think we have a completely different understanding of our solar system," said laboratory director Charles Elachi. "Its success exceeded our expectations."

The washing machine-sized probe, which performed three final targeting maneuvers in the mission's last two hours, crashed into comet Tempel 1's brightest spot right on schedule, snapping images of its rocky terrain up until 3.7 seconds before impact.

The craft was vaporized immediately following the collision, which occurred at 23,000 mph (37,100 kph) -- the speed it would take to fly from New York to Los Angeles in about six minutes.

An image of the 10:52 p.m. (1:52 a.m. EDT, 0552 GMT on Monday) crash taken by Deep Impact, the mission's mother ship, showed a brilliant burst of material coming from the bottom of the avocado-shaped comet. The probe was released by Deep Impact about 24 hours before the collision.

It could take months to analyze all the data from the crash, according to Mike A'Hearn, the mission's lead scientist. Three hours after the impact, just 10 percent of the data had been transmitted back to Earth.

"We are just basically starting our work now," he told reporters early on Monday. "I look forward to a wealth of data which will take me to retirement."

Happy 4th everyone.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Glendon Rusch. This might have been the home run he gave up, not sure.

After yesterday's game, I'm back on the "fire Dusty" bandwagon.

Yes, I'm fickle. :-) But when I compare the Nationals, who should be dwelling in the basement based on their line-up, to the Cubs, who are oozing with talent, I can't help but think that this comes down to management. No way should the Cubs be a .500 team.

Today will tell. If Dusty leads off with Corey again, I'm going to be pissed.

Today's Front Pages - Map View

Interesting site that lets you see the front pages of newspapers all over the world.

Port Huron makes the map, but Grand Rapids doesn't? Geez.

The Nontaxpaying Affluent Grew by 15% in One Year - New York Times
Welcome to the new America.

The number of affluent individuals and married couples who paid no federal income taxes jumped more than 15 percent in 2002, to 5,650, new government data showed yesterday.

The chances of having a large income but not paying taxes on any of it are growing, according to the data, issued in the Internal Revenue Service's annual report to Congress on well-to-do Americans who live tax free. About one in every 436 high-income Americans paid no taxes in 2002, up from one in 531 in 2001 and one in 1,010 in 2000.

Over all, the top 2 percent of earners, the 2.5 million filers with income of $200,000 or more, paid almost 27 cents in taxes for each dollar of income they reported in 2002, other I.R.S. data showed. This group accounted for 53.5 percent of the income tax paid by all Americans.

Among that high-income group, however, almost 83,000, or one in 33, paid less than a dime in taxes for every dollar of income. An additional 79,000 paid less than 15 cents. The average for all Americans was 13 cents.

Congress taxes Americans on their worldwide income. Of the 5,650 individuals and couples who paid no income taxes to the United States, only 728 paid any to a foreign government, while 4,922 lived completely free of income tax.

5,650 doens't seem like a very high number, but watch this figure grow as the rich figure out ways to jump on the bandwagon.

Friday, July 01, 2005

High court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor to retire - Yahoo! News
"Stop your grinnin' and drop your linen", here we go. (Bonus points if you can tell me what movie that quote came from.)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court and a moderate conservative who often cast the key decisive vote, announced her retirement on Friday, setting the stage for a major political battle over her successor.

"This is to inform you of my decision to retire from my position as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, effective upon the nomination and confirmation of my successor," O'Connor, 75, said in a letter to President Bush.

Man the battlestations, and bring on the talking heads! No vacation weekend for you, kids. NewsFlash - House Dems looking for criminal investigation after failed vote
"Mr. Kooiman, we have a warrant for your arrest."

A girl can dream.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A group of House Democrats is calling for a criminal investigation into the House's Republican majority after Republicans last week prevented a vote on Democratic bills to curb out-of-state trash.

Democratic Reps. Alma Wheeler Smith of Ypsilanti and Stephen Adamini of Marquette said Tuesday during a news conference with other House Democrats that Republicans violated the state constitution when they blocked a vote on the bills.

Smith and Adamini said a vote should have been held because they submitted signatures from 22 Democrats, meeting the constitutional requirement that a recorded vote must be held when one-fifth of the House or Senate requests one. The House has 110 members.

House Clerk Gary Randall said the Democrats never officially asked for a vote on their legislation, despite handing in the signatures.

Democrats said that's not their fault. They contend that Republican Reps. Jerry Kooiman of Grand Rapids and Chris Ward of Brighton, who were leading last Thursday's House session, refused to recognize Democratic House members who wanted to ask for a vote.

Democrats said GOP House leaders were guilty of felony misconduct in public office for their refusal to call on minority members.

Their actions allowed the House to avoid a vote on a Democratic package of bills intended to curb trash coming into Michigan from other states and Canada. The main bill of the package would raise the fee to dump trash in a Michigan landfill from 21 cents per ton to $7.50.

If I'm not mistaken, at one time Republicans were blaming Granholm for the trash coming in. But here they are, blocking a bill that might help curb it. Hmmmmm.

I don't expect this investigation to go anywhere, but I hope it puts toads like Kooiman on notice that this shit won't fly anymore. Next time it happens, demand that charges be pressed. Heh.

Army recruits shortfall blamed on Iraq war critics - Yahoo! News
Operation "Blame the Liberals" is on. In today's episode, Senate Republicans attack the news media for making war seem "icky".

Gee, just imagine if the real pictures were being broadcast. The few bits I have seen on TV have been highly sanitized. Some of the pictures on the 'net would have people running for the john to throw up.

War is Hell, people. How is it that we forget that fact?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Several Senate Republicans denounced other lawmakers and the news media on Thursday for unfavorable depictions of the Iraq war and the Pentagon urged members of Congress to talk up military service to help ease a recruiting shortfall.

Families are discouraging young men and women from enlisting "because of all the negative media that's out there," Sen. James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, said at a U.S.Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Inhofe also said that other senators' criticism of the war contributed to the propaganda of U.S. enemies. He did not name the senators.

Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker urged members of Congress to use "your considerable influence to explain to the American people and to those that are influencers out there how important it is for our young people to serve this nation at a time like this."

The Army on Wednesday said it was 14 percent, or about 7,800 recruits, behind its year-to-date recruitment target even though it exceeded its monthly target in June. With extended deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, recruiting also is down for the National Guard and the Reserves.

"With the deluge of negative news that we get daily, it's just amazing to me that anybody would want to sign up," said Sen. Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican.

Facing flagging support for the Iraq war that has killed about 1,750 U.S. forces, President Bush in a speech on Tuesday acknowledged the nation's doubts about the strategy but insisted the operation was worthwhile and portrayed Iraq as a key battlefield against terrorists.

So, I guess the media is supposed to show rescued puppies and children with lollipops and smiling soldiers playing volleyball in the desert. Why, we'd win this war if the media would just stop telling the truth, right? Just ignore the stories of Marines being blown up by roadside bombs. Don't publicize the sacrifice in your hometown when Johnnie comes home in a coffin. Just bury those stories, and we could have lots more Johnnies and Julies eager to sign on up.


Blame the media because war is ugly. Good show, Senators.