Saturday, April 29, 2006

Leftist leadersreject U.S. trade plan Apr 29, 2006: "HAVANA, Cuba (AP) -- Bolivia's new left-leaning president signed a pact with Cuba and Venezuela on Saturday that rejects U.S.-backed free trade and promises a socialist version of regional commerce and cooperation.With Cuba's Fidel Castro and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez seated nearby, President Evo Morales signed an updated version of the so-called Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, adding Bolivia as a third member.'In Cuba and Venezuela we find unconditional solidarity,' Morales said. 'They are the best allies for changing Bolivia.'The document signed included the same language of the political declaration signed last year by Castro and Chavez. That pact contained much leftist rhetoric and few specifics, but was followed by closer economic ties and boosted trade between the two vehemently anti-U.S. governments.After Bolivia was joined in the earlier agreement on Saturday, the three presidents signed a second document with more concrete proposals.Cuba promised to send Bolivia doctors to provide medical care to poor people, and teachers to conduct literacy campaigns. Venezuela will send gasoline to the Andean nation and set up a $100 million (%u20AC80 million) fund for development programs and a $30 million (%u20AC24 million) fund for other social projects.Cuba and Venezuela also agreed to buy all of Bolivia's soybeans, recently left without markets after Colombia signed a free trade pact with the United States.Dressed in his typical olive green uniform, Castro, who turns 80 in August, said sharing the spotlight with two younger, like-minded leaders 'makes me the happiest man in the world.'"

Belly fat blues

"A noxious type of fat raises risk for heart disease, diabetes and more. Luckily, it's easy to rid with exercise.
HAVING a little paunch is just no good with a Speedo or bikini. Health-wise, it's none too pretty either.
That bulge is the outward sign of a deeper problem: visceral fat, a kind of biological monstrosity that, in excess, wreaks havoc on the body, raising the risk for heart disease, diabetes, possibly even dementia and some types of cancer.
Lying deep inside the body, wrapping around the liver and other major organs, visceral fat acts like a kind of organ itself — spewing out bad hormones and squashing the production of good ones. It sets up the body for sickness as the years roll by and additional fat accumulates.
"Visceral fat is very bad for you," says Richard N. Bergman, a professor at USC's Keck School of Medicine. "It seems to have a more negative outcome on health than overall fat."
The evidence now is so compelling that some experts suggest it's time to forget about scales and weight loss and focus on waists and "inch loss."
Luckily, visceral fat doesn't appear to be a particularly stubborn enemy. Health experts have discovered that consistent, moderate exercise by itself appears to help the body rid itself of vast amounts of deep abdominal fat — even when the scales show the pounds aren't dropping very fast.
This emerging science carries a message for consumers: Measure your waist circumference. And reduce it if need be. Doing something about that paunch could help save your life.
Recent studies on visceral fat help explain a well-established fact: that having a pear shape is more healthful than having an apple shape. A pear shape is caused by subcutaneous fat resting just under the skin. Apple is caused by the deep, visceral fat. What this means is that although both types of people — apple and pear — can be overweight, the person with the apple shape has more health risks."

Spanish Star Spangled Banner?

Jimi Hendrix stretched it on his electric guitar to make it sound like a cat giving birth. Marvin Gaye crooned it like a love song with a stutter. And millions of fans butcher it at any given sports occasion. But no-one has ever translated The Star Spangled Banner - the US national anthem - into Spanish, done a digital recording and released it as a hit. Now has been turned into Nuestro Himno by Adam Kidron, the British-born president of Urban Box Office, a New York-based entertainment company.

Friday, April 28, 2006

FUNDY REVOLT!! Critics Blast Bush For Not Praying Hard Enough

President Bush, already facing the lowest approval ratings in history, is coming under fire from former supporters over what they call his 'ineffectual and incompetent' use of prayer for national guidance and assistance.
Despite assurances from the president that he 'prays every day' for the nation's interests both at home and abroad, the mounting crises of recent months---escalating gas prices, the botched Dubai port security deal, ethics scandals, and the rising death toll in Iraq---have left many unimpressed with the effectiveness of his devotion. [...]
While newly released portions of White House prayer logs show that Bush's praying has actually gone up in recent months, critics are seeking to subpoena the documents in their entirety to determine the strength of those prayers. [...]
Susan DiDomenico of the National Prayer Task Force said her organization is seeking 'full disclosure' of any and all prayers Bush may have skipped or manipulated to seem more effective or holy."

400 Dead Dolphins Found Off African Coast

ZANZIBAR, Tanzania -- Hundreds of dead dolphins washed up Friday along the shore of a popular tourist destination on Zanzibar's northern coast, and scientists ruled out poisoning.

It was not immediately clear what killed the 400 dolphins, whose carcasses were strewn along a 2 1/2-mile stretch of Nungwi, said Narriman Jidawi, a marine biologist at the Institute of Marine Science in Zanzibar.

But the bottleneck dolphins, which live in deep offshore waters, had empty stomachs, meaning that they could have been disoriented and were swimming for some time to reorient themselves. They did not starve to death and were not poisoned, Jidawi said.

In the United States, experts were investigating the possibility that sonar from U.S. submarines could have been responsible for a similar incident in Marathon, Fla., where 68 deep-water dolphins stranded themselves in March 2005.

Starved Rock struggles

Starved Rock struggles
Park services dwindle; state says it's `doing more with less'

By Bob Secter
Tribune staff reporter
Published April 28, 2006

STARVED ROCK STATE PARK -- With gas prices high, vacationers hoping to stay close to home may find budget cuts have left Illinois' state parks a bit frayed around the edges.

At Starved Rock, regular trail patrols are a thing of the past. Guided hikes have been eliminated. The supply of printed trail maps ran out six months ago, though new ones are finally on order. The Starved Rock Foundation, a volunteer booster group, filled the gap by paying for photocopies.

Wooden planks helicoptered in years ago for an erosion-control project lie unused by the side of one trail, the stockpile still wrapped in its original metal bindings. There hasn't been a park-improvement project since 2002.

There's just one naturalist to staff the visitor center, even though thousands of people pour through on weekends. The center shuts at 4 p.m. daily, even in busy summer months when sunset is hours away.

State officials say services have been fine-tuned, not sacrificed. Illinois Department of Natural Resources spokesman Chris McCloud pointed to a record 45 million visits to state parks last year as a vote of confidence in the state's stewardship. "We are doing more with less," said McCloud.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Amazing shot cited as self-defense

Seattle PI: "Police bullet lodged in gunman's weapon


A highly improbable shot left an officer's bullet in the cylinder of a gunman's revolver, and police say it's a pretty clear sign that the officers who shot the man faced a deadly threat.
'Physically, it is impossible to conclude anything other than the fact the suspect was pointing directly at the officers,' Deputy Chief Clark Kimerer said Wednesday, adding, 'I've not seen anything quite like that in my 24 years.'"

Something to think about: A day without Mexicans in Chicago

Chicago Tribune
: "How will Chicago, and the country, answer the Mexican question? Will Mexican immigrants ever learn English and become 'real' Americans? As two third-generation Eastern Europeans we know the same question was asked about our grandparents. Now we are hearing some immigrant-descended parents asking the same things about current immigrants. One of us is the grandson of an immigrant Slovak who worked as a butcher in Chicago's stockyards; the other's grandfather was an immigrant Bohemian carpenter. We are especially sensitive, therefore, to the historical fact that the major impetus for the Immigration Restriction Act of 1924 was the eugenics movement of that time. Eugenicists, characterized by one historian as fearing that 'the American gene pool was being polluted by a rising tide of intellectually and morally defective immigrants--primarily from Eastern and Southern Europe,' played a significant role in ending the greatest era of immigration in U.S. history. Evolution performs miracles, apparently. Through some highly improbable genetic mutation--possibly a recessive or airborne gene--the Slovak grandson is now teaching college classes to another group of questionable immigrants, Mexicans; the Bohemian grandson is a researcher of Latino immigration. Fitting careers for Slovak and Czech descendants since, after all, Eastern Europeans were the Mexicans of their day. So, what would a day without Mexicans be like for Chicago--and, more to the point, what does such a day tell us about what life would be like if there were no Mexicans in Chicago at all?"

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

What's behind mysterious booms?

Life can serve up a good mystery every once in a while. Weird things happen that defy explanation, that make us wonder how much we really know about the world.

Something of the sort happened in San Diego County shortly before 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 4, and so far no one has come forward with an explanation.
Whatever it was, it caused a woman's bed to shake in Lakeside. It created waves in a backyard pool in Carmel Valley. It set off car alarms in Kearny Mesa and rattled windows from Mission Beach to Poway to Vista. At various spots throughout the county, people reported a rumbling sound or a booming noise.

Scientists insist it wasn't an earthquake. The Federal Aviation Administration has no record of any planes producing a sonic boom by breaking the sound barrier.
Camp Pendleton officials say no activities on the Marine base could have created such a disturbance. There were no large explosions in San Diego County that day, and no meteor fireballs were reported in the sky that morning.

What was it, then?

Maybe it was the same thing that caused a strange disturbance in Mississippi on April 7, when the locals heard a loud boom that rattled windows all over Jackson County, throwing emergency workers %u201Cinto a tizzy,%u201D said Butch Loper, Jackson County's civil defense director. Authorities in that state still don't have a clue as to the cause."

Softball on the Mall Was Bipartisan Fun Till Politics Intruded

Starting this week, hundreds of young Capitol Hill aides will indulge in an annual rite of spring here by changing out of their business suits and heading over to the National Mall to play in the Congressional Softball League.

Amid all the partisan rancor of congressional politics, the softball league has for 37 years been a rare case of bipartisan civility, an opportunity for Democratic and Republican aides to sneak out of work a bit early and take the field in the name of the lawmaker, committee or federal agency they work for.

This year, the league will be missing something: a lot of the Republicans.

During the off-season, a group of Republican teams seceded from the league after accusing its Democratic commissioner, Gary Caruso, of running a socialist year-end playoff system that gives below-average teams an unfair chance to win the championship.

The league 'is all about Softball Welfare -- aiding the weak by punishing the strong,' the pitcher of one Republican team told Mr. Caruso in an email. 'The commissioner has a long-standing policy of punishing success and rewarding failure. He's a Democrat. Waddya' expect?' read another email, from Gary Mahmoud, the coach of BoehnerLand, a team from the office of Republican Majority Leader John Boehner.

The softball coup is a 'reflection of how partisan and Republican this town has really become since Republicans took control,' responds Mr. Caruso, a longtime Democratic aide who worked for congressmen in the 1980s and '90s. 'Republicans come here and want to bash your head in. And if they don't get their way, they pick up the ball and go home.'"

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Peeing is fun again!

Video games & urinals? I think yes.

042506ontarget.jpgFirst up is On Target (pictured here), a videogame urinal designed by Marcel Neundorfer. Besides encouraging some fun, its goal is to improve hygiene and reduce cleaning costs (due to the reduced "target" size). This interactive urinal encourages "streaming accuracy." When a touch-sensitive pad detects pressure, the videogame imagery reacts to show the "gamer" how accurate, successful, and proud they should feel for their accomplishment!

Truthdig - Ear to the Ground - Bush's Approval Ratings Slide to Record Low

President Bushs approval ratings have sunk to a personal low, with only a third of Americans saying they approve of the way he is handling his job, a national poll released Monday said.
In the telephone poll of 1,012 adult Americans carried out Friday through Sunday by Opinion Research Corporation for CNN, 32 percent of respondents said they approve of Bushs performance, 60 percent said they disapprove and 8 percent said they do not know.
Thats a significant drop from the way Americans perceived the president a year ago. In a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll carried out April 29-May 1, 2005, Americans were split on their assessments of Bushs performance, with 48 percent saying they approved and 49 percent saying they disapproved."


Bush Rides Roughshod Over Protected Federal Land

Yesterday, President Bush joked about his difficult bike ride through the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument:
I just spent some quality time in [Congresswoman Mary Bonos] district, and I forgot to tell you that I had the privilege of riding my mountain bike in the desert, as well. The national monument that she helped put together to preserve open spaces - shes got a lot of humility, she didnt name the national monument after herself. If I were to name it I would say, Really Hard Bike Ride Monument.
But the Palm Springs Desert Sun reported that by riding through the area, Bush had ignored the voluntary avoidance guidelines at the Monument. The guidelines are meant to protect a species of endangered bighorn sheep:
Jim Foote, acting manager of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, said the Clara Burgess trail is also among those monument managers ask people to avoid part of the year to prevent disrupting endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep.
The trail is one of about 10 in the monument under a voluntary avoidance program. People are asked to stay off the Clara Burgess trail from Jan. 1 to June 30 during the sheep lambing season, he said.
If this latest Bush bike ride was like his others, a massive entourage, including a long convoy of SUVs and off-road vehicles, came along for the ride.
Apparently the White House isnt involved in the Bureau of Land Managements comprehensive, multi-agency planning effort"

Monday, April 24, 2006

Man dies in plunge after huge sinkhole opens in his home

Chicago Tribune
A large sinkhole opened in the middle of a house, killing a 27-year-old man who plummeted 10 feet and was covered by the rubble, officials said Sunday. The two-story home, built in the 1980s, might have been sitting atop a decades-old underground mine, authorities said. Recent rains possibly softened the ground under the home, in an isolated area near Lake Alta, northeast of Sacramento. 'It's unbelievable,' Placer County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Dena Erwin said. 'From the front of the house, it's absolutely normal. Then, in the middle of the house, is this enormous hole.' The victim was on the ground floor about 9:30 p.m. Friday when the concrete foundation near the kitchen gave way, Erwin said. The man's wife also was in the house at the time and called 911. She was uninjured, Erwin said. Rescuers had trouble reaching him because the ground began to shift, creating an unsafe situation for work crews."

Boo Hu

China's visit
The most newsworthy aspect of the day came when Hu was heckled by a woman standing in the press area. She stole center stage from both presidents, shouting: 'President Hu! Your days are numbered,' and 'President Bush! Stop him from killing!'Dana Milbank writes in The Washington Post: 'It took so long to silence her -- a full three minutes -- that Bush aides began to wonder if the Secret Service's strategy was to let her scream herself hoarse. The rattled Chinese president haltingly attempted to continue his speech and television coverage went to split screen.' 'You're okay,' Bush gently reassured Hu.'But he wasn't okay, not really. The protocol-obsessed Chinese leader suffered a day full of indignities -- some intentional, others just careless. The visit began with a slight when the official announcer said the band would play the 'national anthem of the Republic of China' -- the official name of Taiwan. It continued when Vice President Cheney donned sunglasses for the ceremony, and again when Hu, attempting to leave the stage via the wrong staircase, was yanked back by his jacket. Hu looked down at his sleeve to see the president of the United States tugging at it as if redirecting an errant child.'Adds Milbank: 'Then there were the intentional slights. China wanted a formal state visit such as [Hu's predecessor Jiang Zemin] got, but the administration refused, calling it instead an 'official' visit. Bush acquiesced to the 21-gun salute but insisted on a luncheon instead of a formal dinner, in the East Room instead of the State Dining Room. . . .'The meeting in the Oval Office brought more of the same. In front of the cameras, Bush thanked Hu for his 'frankness' -- diplomatic code for disagreement -- and Hu stood expressionless. The two unexpectedly agreed to take questions from reporters, but Bush grew impatient as Hu gave a long answer about trade, made all the longer by the translation. Bush at one point tapped his foot on the ground. 'It was a very comprehensive answer,' he observed when Hu finished.'"

Sunday, April 23, 2006


Chicago Tribune
: "
Nation needs an unfettered press
Last month, as part of an ongoing criminal investigation, two FBI agents showed up at my home in suburban Washington, D.C., and waved their government-issued badges to demand access to decades-old historical archives that I have been reading. Why? Because they say these documents may--or may not--shed light on alleged leaks to a dead investigative reporter that may--or may not--have occurred more than 20 years ago. This inept fishing expedition would be laughable if it were not part of a larger and more serious government assault on freedom of the press, the most systematic attack on free expression and the public's right to know waged by any presidential administration since the infamous days of Richard Nixon. In my case, the FBI claims it is entitled to rummage through the notes of columnist Jack Anderson, who donated his papers to my university before he died in December. The FBI agents who interviewed me said they want to confiscate any classified government documents that might be in the Anderson collection and prosecute whoever leaked them more than two decades ago. The agents even demanded the names of graduate students who might have looked at these records while helping with my research. My university and the Anderson family are resisting this government intrusion into our files. Ultimately, the courts may have to decide the outcome. Regardless, this heavy-handed action is troubling because the FBI has already violated the Justice Department's own guidelines that for the past three decades have set limits on such fishing expeditions into reporters' notes."

Friday, April 21, 2006

"Watch Neil Young Explain Why Bush Needs To Be Impeached...

Watch Neil Young Explain Why Bush Needs To Be Impeached...

CIA officer fired after leak

In a rare occurrence, the CIA fired an officer who acknowledged giving classified information to a reporter, NBC News reported on Thursday. The officer flunked a polygraph exam before being fired on Wednesday and is now under investigation by the Justice Department, NBC reported.The leak pertained to stories on the CIA%u2019s rumored secret prisons in Eastern Europe, sources told NBC. The information was allegedly provided to Dana Priest of the Washington Post, who wrote about CIA prisons in November and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize on Monday for her reporting. Sources said the CIA believes the officer had more than a dozen unauthorized contacts with Priest. Information about subjects other than the prisons may have been leaked as well.The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the firing. CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Millerwise confirmed the dismissal. Millerwise said she was unsure whether there had ever been a firing before at the agency for leaking to the media.Citing the Privacy Act, the CIA would not provide any details about the officers identity or assignments.All CIA employees are required to sign a secrecy agreement upon being hired stating they are prohibited from discussing classified information with anyone not cleared to receive the material.Priest said she could not comment on the firing, which she said she learned about from NBC News.The Washington Post report caused an international uproar, and government officials have said it did significant damage to relationships between the U.S. and allied intelligence agencies.CIA Director Porter Goss told the Senate in February that leaks to the media had damaged national security. Subsequently, Goss ordered an internal investigation on leaks involving classified security data. The probe led to the fired CIA officer, sources told NBC.This leak is not linked to the recent scandal in the CIA involving undercover agent Valerie Plames identity being revealed, NBC reported.Separately, the Justice Department is investigating a New York Times stories about the National Security Agencys domestic warrantless eavesdropping. Times reporter James Risen won a Pulitzer on Monday for his reporting on the issue.The NSA and other agencies had requested the probe, sources told NBC.

The Worst President in History?

Rolling Stone: "One of America's leading historians assesses George W. Bush

George W. Bush's presidency appears headed for colossal historical
disgrace. Barring a cataclysmic event on the order of the terrorist
attacks of September 11th, after which the public might rally
around the White House once again, there seems to be little the
administration can do to avoid being ranked on the lowest tier of
U.S. presidents. And that may be the best-case scenario. Many
historians are now wondering whether Bush, in fact, will be
remembered as the very worst president in all of American history."

Rove's New Mission: Survival

Here's the real meaning of the White House shake-up and the redefinition of Karl Rove's role in the Bush presidency: The administration's one and only domestic priority in 2006 is hanging on to control of Congress.That, in turn, means that all the spin about Rove's power being diminished is simply wrong. Yes, Rove is giving up some policy responsibilities to concentrate on politics, but guess what: The possibility of President Bush's winning enactment of any major new policy initiative this year is zero. Rove is simply moving to where all the action will, of necessity, be.
Karl Rove's power has not been diminished; his role has changed to fit the times.
As one outside adviser to the administration said, the danger of a Democratic takeover of at least one house of Congress looms large and would carry huge penalties for Bush. The administration fears 'investigations of everything' by congressional committees, this adviser said, and the 'possibility of a forced withdrawal from Iraq' through legislative action.'I don't think they see much chance of accomplishing anything this year,' said this Republican strategist, who preferred not to be quoted by name. 'The bulk of their agenda, let's say, has been put on hold.'Rove never stopped being political, even when he had formal responsibility for policy. What's intriguing about the shift in the direction of Rove's energies is that it marks a turn from the high politics of a partisan realignment driven by ideas and policies to the more mundane politics of eking out votes, seat by seat and state by state. Most of Rove's grander dreams have died as the president's poll numbers have come crashing down."

Thursday, April 20, 2006

I'm The Decider

I am me and Rummy's he, Iraq is free and we are all together
See the world run when Dick shoots his gun, see how I lie
I'm Lying...

Sitting on my own brain, waiting for the end of days
Corporation profits, Bloody oil money
I'm above the law and I'll decide what's right or wrong

I am the egg head, I'm the Commander, I'm the Decider

Baghdad city policeman sitting pretty little targets in a row
See how they die when the shrapnel flies see mothers cry
I'm Lying...I'm Ly-ing...I'm Lying...I'm Ly-ing

Yellow cake plutonium, imaginary WMD's
Declassifying facts, exposing secret agents
Tax cuts for the wealthy leaving all the poor behind


Sitting in the White house garden talking to the Lord
My thoughts would be busy busy hatching If I only had a brain


(courtesy of Paul Hipp)



Death and Taxes

Katrina vanden Heuvel:
Those inveterate whiners in the White House are now complaining that the president's poll numbers should be much higher given the strong economic indicators at the moment. Their problem may lie in the fact that average Americans--the vast majority of the population--aren't the ones enjoying the benefits of Bush's trickle down tax policies.
The New York Times recently analyzed IRS data on the Bush tax cuts on dividends and capital gains. Here is the money quote: 'Taxpayers, whose average income was $26 million, paid about the same share of their income in income taxes as those making $200,000 to $500,000
because of the lowered rates on investment income.'
To find an individual example, one needs look no further than
the Cheneys. In 2005, Dick and Lynne received a huge tax rebate on their $8.8 million income, largely because most of that money was the result of exercising Halliburton stock options.
Talk about death and taxes.
But not to worry, it gets worse.
To cover the tax breaks for investment, Congress recently refused to extend the patch on the alternative minimum tax. The AMT patch is complicated but what it means is that 'one in four families with children--up from one in 22 last year--will owe up to $3,640 in additional federal income tax come next April.'
Happy Tax Season."

Chicago Wal-Mart to Sprout Green Roof

Treehugger: "The first Wal-Mart inside Chicago's city limits will also be the first Wal-Mart to host a grassy meadow on its roof, according to the Chicago Sun Times. The initiative is part of a deal the mega-chain made with Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. Covering 67,000 square feet, the roof will feature three inches of soil and a flowering oasis of cactus-like plants, hardy enough to survive a Chicago winter (this picture, not specifically of the Wal-Mart roof, offers a hint of what's to come). Designed to reduce rainfall runoff, the roof will not need an irrigation system. Expected to be completed with the new store this summer, Wal-Mart's green roof could be the first of many in Chicago. Last Fall, Daley launched the city's environmentally-driven Green Roof program, which divvies out $5,000 grants to residential and small commercial business owners. Reportedly, the green roof program could, in conjunction with other green roofs, lower the city's air temperature. "
U.S. President George W. Bush (R) reaches out and pulls Chinese President Hu Jintao back by his suit jacket as the President of China prepared to walk down the wrong set of steps to leave the stage during the official South Lawn Arrival Ceremonies at the White House in Washington, April 20, 2006. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

She Has World at Her Not-So-Fleet Feet

First, 82-year-old Mayvis Coyle got fined. Then she got famous.

She got a $114 jaywalking ticket and now people the world over know her story about why she thinks the motorcycle cop did her wrong.

Editorial writers from Sacramento to Scotland have rushed to Coyle's defense. Strangers in distant lands are rising to support her. Camera crews show up at her Sunland trailer unannounced, wanting Coyle to repeat the story once again.

And she doesn't even have a phone.

As Coyle tells it, she was doing her best to shuffle across Foothill Boulevard, with her cane in one hand, groceries in the other, when the light changed from "Walk" to "Don't Walk".

Enter an LAPD motorcycle officer, who gave her the ticket, which she is challenging in court.

Her case has become more than just a traffic dispute; to her supporters, it's about the rights of senior citizens and pedestrians everywhere.

Columnist makes $1.5M endowment at U. of I.

Chicago Tribune
: "Syndicated columnist and TV commentator Robert Novak
says he owes his success to the University of Illinois, and now
he's repaying that debt.
Novak has decided to endow a $1.5 million
chair in Western civilization and culture at the U. of I.'s
Urbana-Champaign campus.
Novak graduated from the U. of I. in 1952. He says he felt
enriched by the Western civilization courses he took, and he adds
that the university also educated his father and several relatives.
The 75-year-old has spent the past 40 years writing a column on
Washington politics that now runs in 150 papers nationwide. He's
also a regular commentator on NBC's 'Meet the Press' and on Fox

101-pound man eats 6,500 calories a day - Diet & Fitness -

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - A 5-foot-9, 22-year-old man who eats 6,500 calories a day two and a half times the average intake for an adult male has earned a special reward for breaking the 100-pound mark:Dinner out from his mom.'I'm a medical mystery,' said Matt Chaffee, who weighed in at 101 pounds on Saturday. 'I've accepted it.'Chaffee, who has a 26-inch waist, had several health problems as a newborn. One of them, pyloric stenosis, prevents food from emptying out of the stomach. The condition and ulcers he developed in his esophagus reduced his ability to gain weight.Chaffee weighed 8 pounds when he was 4 months old, and 17 pounds when he reached kindergarten, his mother said. He was up to 85 pounds at age 14, but couldn't participate in some activities, including swimming.'He sinks like a rock,' his mother, Kelley Chaffee, told the Post Register.
Got a big appetite?
How would you go about getting 6,500 calories a day?
Some options: 1 1/2 Pizza Hut Full House Extra Large Meat Lovers Pizzas
9 Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls
12 McDonalds Big Macs
19 Starbucks Blended Mocha Frappucinos (Venti)
91 medium apples
382 cups of raw celery
Since turning 18 his goal has been to go over 100 pounds. He achieved that on a diet that included 5,000 calories a day in protein shakes."

State Department Memo: "16 Words" Were False

Sixteen days before President Bush's January 28, 2003, State of the Union address in which he said that the US learned from British intelligence that Iraq had attempted to acquire uranium from Africa - an explosive claim that helped pave the way to war - the State Department told the CIA that the intelligence the uranium claims were based upon were forgeries, according to a newly declassified State Department memo.
The revelation of the warning from the closely guarded State Department memo is the first piece of hard evidence and the strongest to date that the Bush administration manipulated and ignored intelligence information in their zeal to win public support for invading Iraq.
The memo says: 'On January 12, 2003,' the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) 'expressed concerns to the CIA that the documents pertaining to the Iraq-Niger deal were forgeries.'
Moreover, the memo says that the State Department's doubts about the veracity of the uranium claims may have been expressed to the intelligence community even earlier.
Those concerns, according to the memo, are the reason that former Secretary of State Colin Powell refused to cite the uranium claims when he appeared before the United Nations in February 5, 2003 - one week after Bush's State of the Union address - to try to win support for a possible strike against Iraq.
After considerable back and forth between the CIA, the (State) Department, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), and the British, Secretary Powell's briefing to the U.N. Security Council did not mention attempted Iraqi procurement of uranium due to CIA concerns raised during the coordination regarding the veracity of the information on the alleged Iraq-Niger agreement,' the memo further states.
Iraq's interest in the yellowcake caught the attention of Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Association. ElBaradei read a copy of the National Intelligence Estimate and personally contacted the State Department and the National Security Council in hopes of obtaining evidence so his agency could look into it.
ElBaradei sent a letter to the White House and the National Security Council (NSC) in December 2002, warning senior officials he thought the documents were forgeries and should not be cited by the administration as evidence that Iraq was actively trying to obtain WMDs.
ElBaradei said he never received a written response to his letter, despite repeated follow-up calls he made to the White House, the NSC and the State Department.
Vice President Dick Cheney, who made the rounds on the cable news shows that month, tried to discredit ElBaradei's conclusion that the documents were forged."

LA Woman Hospitalized With Bubonic Plague

BREITBART.COM: "A woman was hospitalized earlier this month with bubonic plague, the first confirmed human case in Los Angeles County in more than two decades, health officials said Tuesday. The woman, who was not identified, was admitted April 13 with a fever, swollen lymph nodes and other symptoms. A blood test confirmed she had contracted the bacterial disease. The woman was placed on antibiotics and is in stable condition, officials said. Bubonic plague is not contagious, but if left untreated it can morph into pneumonic plague, which can be spread from person to person. Bubonic plague is usually transmitted to humans from the bites of fleas infected by dead rodents. Health officials suspect the woman was exposed to fleas in her central Los Angeles home, said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, the county's director of public health. The woman's family was also placed on antibiotics as a precaution, but there's no evidence they were infected. The case is unusual because it occurred in an urban area, Fielding said. Most bubonic plague outbreaks happen in rural communities. Health officials said there was no cause for panic because the disease is not easily transmissible. 'There's no cause for alarm in the community,' Fielding said."

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Anger Rises on Both Sides of Strike at University of Miami - New York Times

Clara Vargas, a hunger striker who cleans dormitories at the University of Miami, being examined Monday.
CORAL GABLES, Fla., April 17 Outside the University of Miami's main entrance, six janitors and five students continued their hunger strike on Monday, with several asserting that the university's president, Donna Shalala, was a union-buster.
The janitors have been on a hunger strike for 13 days, the students for 6 all part of a labor dispute that has turned unusually personal, with faculty members, students, union leaders and members of the clergy sharply criticizing Dr. Shalala.Day after day, the janitors and their supporters heap invective on Dr. Shalala, who was President Bill Clinton's secretary for health and human services, saying she has not done enough to pressure the university's cleaning contractor to grant union recognition. And day after day the hunger strikers grow weaker as they lie in tents set up in a protest zone they call Freedom Village. 'If you think of Donna Shalala's history, she has this persona of being an advocate for poor, marginalized people in this country,' said Frank Corbishley, the university's Episcopal chaplain. 'In this dispute she's clearly been an enemy of the working poor.'The supporters of unionization have rarely missed an opportunity to contrast Dr. Shalala's life with those of the janitors. Most make less than $17,000 a year, while she earns $516,904 a year, lives in the university's 9,000-square-foot presidential residence, and has a 29-foot motorboat and a dog, Sweetie, that has four dog beds."

Monday, April 17, 2006

Ex-governor guilty of racketeering - Crime & Punishment -

CHICAGO - Former Gov. George Ryan, who drew international praise when he commuted the sentences of everyone on Illinois death row, was convicted of racketeering and fraud Monday in a corruption scandal that ended his political career in 2003. Ryan, 72, sat stone-faced as the verdict was read and afterward vowed to appeal. I believe this decision today is not in accordance with the kind of public service that I provided to the people of Illinois over 40 years, and needless to say I am disappointed in the outcome, the former governor said."

A Small-Time Crime With Hints of Big-Time Connections Lights Up the Net - New York Times

The Internet is a great breeding ground for political conspiracies, and there is a new one lighting up computer monitors across the country. Bloggers are fascinated by what they see as eerie parallels between Watergate and a phone-jamming scandal in New Hampshire. It has low-level Republican operatives involved in dirty campaign tricks. It has checks from donors with murky backgrounds. It has telephone calls to the White House. What is unclear is whether it is the work of a few rogue actors, or something larger.

In 2002, there was a hard-fought Senate race between Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, the Democrat, and John Sununu, the Republican. On Election Day, Democratic workers arrived at five get-out-the-vote offices to find their phone lines jammed. It turned out that the jamming was being done by an Idaho telemarketing firm that was being paid by a Virginia consulting group. The fee for the jamming, reportedly $15,600, was paid by New Hampshire Republicans.The executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party and the president of the Virginia consulting group pleaded guilty for their part in the scheme. James Tobin, who was the New England political director for the Republican National Committee, went to trial and was convicted of telephone harassment last December.Now, Jack Abramoff and his Indian tribe clients have joined the cast of characters, and some records of phone calls to the White House have turned up, though the significance of both of these revelations is hotly disputed. The evidence that the phone-jamming scandal goes higher than Mr. Tobin remains scant. But the watchdogs are right about this: the news media, prosecutors and the general public should demand more information about what happened.The parallels drawn with Watergate are a good place to start: on

Anger at Bush May Hurt GOP At Polls

Intense and widespread opposition to President Bush is likely to be a sharp spur driving voters to the polls in this fall's midterm elections, according to strategists in both parties, a phenomenon that could give Democrats a turnout advantage over Republicans for the first time in recent years.Polls have reflected voter discontent with Bush for many months, but as the election nears, operatives are paying special attention to one subset of the numbers. It is the wide disparity between the number of people who are passionate in their dislike of Bush vs. those who support him with equal fervor.Lately, there have been a lot more of the former -- and even Republicans acknowledge that could spell trouble in closely contested congressional races.'Angry voters turn out and vote their anger,' said Glen Bolger, a pollster for several Republican congressional candidates. 'Democrats will have an easier time of getting out their vote because of their intense disapproval of the president. That means we Republicans are going to have to bring our 'A' turnout game in November.'The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll showed 47 percent of voters 'strongly' disapprove of Bush's job performance, vs. 20 percent who said they 'strongly approve.'In the recent past, this perennial truism of politics -- emotion equals turnout -- has worked more to the Republican advantage. Several weeks before the 2002 midterm elections, Bush had 42 percent of voters strongly approving of him, compared with 18 percent in strong opposition. Democrats were stunned on election night when Republicans defied historical patterns and made gains in the House and Senate. The president's party usually loses seats during the first midterm elections after he takes office.The premise behind the Democrats' hopes this year is simple, though not easy to quantify: People impassioned by anger or other sentiments are more likely to vote -- even in bad weather and in relatively low-profile races -- than are those who are demoralized or less emotional."

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A Bad Leak - New York Times

President Bush says he declassified portions of the prewar intelligence assessment on Iraq because he 'wanted people to see the truth' about Iraq's weapons programs and to understand why he kept accusing Saddam Hussein of stockpiling weapons that turned out not to exist. This would be a noble sentiment if it actually bore any relationship to Mr. Bush's actions in this case, or his overall record.

Mr. Bush did not declassify the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq %u2014 in any accepted sense of that word %u2014 when he authorized I. Lewis Libby Jr., through Vice President Dick Cheney, to talk about it with reporters. He permitted a leak of cherry-picked portions of the report. The declassification came later. And this president has never shown the slightest interest in disclosure, except when it suits his political purposes. He has run one of the most secretive administrations in American history, consistently withholding information and vital documents not just from the public, but also from Congress. Just the other day, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told the House Judiciary Committee that the names of the lawyers who reviewed Mr. Bush's warrantless wiretapping program were a state secret.Obviously, we do not object to government officials talking to reporters about important matters that their bosses do not want discussed. It would be impossible to cover any administration, especially one so secretive as this, unless that happened. (Judith Miller, who then worked for The Times, was one of the reporters Mr. Libby chose for this leak, although she never wrote about it.) But the version of the facts that Mr. Libby was authorized to divulge was so distorted that it seems more like disinformation than any sincere attempt to inform the public."

Friday, April 14, 2006

Tornadoes Rip Through University of Iowa

Chicago Tribune: "IOWA CITY, Iowa --
Tornadoes tore across the University of Iowa campus, ripped walls off a downtown church and killed a woman in a mobile home outside of town. The National Weather Service said five tornados touched down in Johnson County on Thursday night, the most destructive carving a 3 1/2-mile path of damage through downtown and the university. High winds, hail and at least one tornado hit Illinois as well. 'There was debris flying everywhere inside the house,' said Melissa Fortman, an Iowa sophomore who huddled with friends in the basement of the Alpha Chi Omega house as the sirens sounded. She then decided to run upstairs for her homework just as the tornado hit. 'I couldn't go downstairs because there was debris and glass flying up the stairs, so I just hid in a telephone booth we have in our house and I just hid there crying,' she told ABC's 'Good Morning America.' Entire walls of the sorority house were gone and the interior of several rooms were visible from the street. Two cars had been tossed into a nearby ravine, and glass, debris and tree limbs littered the neighborhood"

Outback Survivor Ate Frogs and Lizards

More details on the Australian desert man...

"A man who survived nearly three months alone in the Australian outback by eating lizards and frogs has spoken of his ordeal.
Ricky Megee lost half his bodyweight during his stint in the desert, when he was forced to munch leeches and grasshoppers to stay alive.
The 35-year-old was discovered looking like a "walking skeleton" by farm workers.
He had set off on a 3,500-mile journey to take up a new job in Port Hedland, Western Australia, but never made it to his destination.
Details of how he came to be lost were unclear. Some reports said his car had broken down and others that he had been drugged and dumped by a hitchhiker he picked up.
"The last thing I remember was driving up the road and getting a bit dazed and confused," he told the Times newspaper.
"The next thing was waking up, face down, in a hole. There was some plastic on me with some rocks and dirt thrown on top.
"What woke me was that there were four dingoes scratching the rocks to try to get at me."
He described to reporters how he had left frogs on the roof of his makeshift shelter to go "a bit crispy" before he ate them.
"I would go out just before dark and gather what I could to eat," he said.
"I ate one meal a day - that is enough to survive. I just hoped and prayed that someone would find me."
Since being rescued last week he has been recovering in hospital in Darwin."

Cheney Authorized Leak Of CIA Report, Libby Says

" Vice President Dick Cheney directed his then-chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on July 12, 2003 to leak to the media portions of a then-highly classified CIA report that Cheney hoped would undermine the credibility of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, a critic of the Bush administration's Iraq policy, according to Libby's grand jury testimony in the CIA leak case and sources who have read the classified report.
The March 2002 intelligence report was a debriefing of Wilson by the CIA's Directorate of Operations after Wilson returned from a CIA-sponsored mission to Niger to investigate claims, later proved to be unfounded, that Saddam Hussein had attempted to procure uranium from the African nation, according to government records.
The debriefing report made no mention of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, then a covert CIA officer, or any role she may have played in her husband's selection by the CIA to go to Niger, according to two people who have read the report. "

Bob Dylan - 1975-1981: Rolling Thunder & The Gospel Years: Directed by Joel Gilbert

Bob Dylan - 1975-1981: Rolling Thunder & The Gospel Years: Directed by Joel Gilbert: "This totally unauthorized documentary%u201D feels like just that. As the cover proclaims, it contains no Bob Dylan songs. And even though the cover features two prominent photos of the man, the documentary itself hardly shows his face. If you're looking to find endless footage of the Rolling Thunder tours, one of Dylan's most creative and vision-driven periods, you will be disappointed. What we have here is a hodge podge of interviews touching on and discussing where Dylan's career was headed at this point in his life. The interviews are somewhat interesting, but at times border on extremely boring; the opening interview with Rubin Hurricane Carter (which, according to the press release, is his first interview in thirty years) is fairly gripping though it carries on perhaps a bit too long as one begins to wonder if the documentary is about Dylan or Carter.
All in all, this proves to be less than a worthy trip through a very important period in a very important man's life; told, unfortunately, not by the man, or even necessarily by those who knew him best. And though this might be an essential DVD for Dylan completists (even that's a stretch), there are other places to get insight on this chapter of his life: might I instead suggest one of the many books available on Dylan? Or just listen to any of the albums from these years being discussed: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 5 offers two excellent discs of lively Rolling Thunder madness and if you're searching for an album from his gospel years, Slow Train Coming is a great place to start. No, these CD's don't feature any visual footage of this time in Dylan's life, but at least they feature Bob Dylan songs."

Outback 'skeleton' recalls ordeal

BBC NEWS: "A 'walking skeleton' who emerged from the Australian Outback after being lost for 10 weeks has recalled how he survived on leeches and frogs.
Ricky Megee, 35, stumbled out of the bush in front of a farm manager's jeep in the Northern Territory, near the Western Australia border.
Mr Megee was rescued last week and has been recovering in hospital in Darwin.
It is unclear how he became lost. He has said both that his car broke down and that he was drugged by a hitcher."

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Natural light 'to reinvent bulbs'

BBC NEWS: "A light source that could put the traditional light bulb in the shade has been invented by US scientists.
The organic light-emitting diode (OLED) emits a brilliant white light when attached to an electricity supply.
The material, described in the journal Nature, can be printed in wafer thin sheets that could transform walls, ceilings or even furniture into lights.
The OLEDs do not heat up like today's light bulbs and so are far more energy efficient and should last longer.
They also produce a light that is more akin to natural daylight than traditional bulbs.
'We're hoping that this will lead to significantly longer device lifetimes in addition to higher efficiency,' said Professor Mark Thompson of the University of Southern California, one of the authors of the paper."

Utah school books the wrong Jon Stewart

Seattle PI: "OGDEN, Utah -- An embarrassed charter school has discovered it booked the wrong Jon Stewart for its annual gala. The DaVinci Academy thought it had made a deal with comedian Jon Stewart, star of 'The Daily Show' and host of this year's Academy Awards, to appear next week.
It sent out 500 invitations to businesses and planned for 900 people.
But last week, it learned that it had booked Jon A. Stewart, a former motivational speaker, businessman and part-time professional wrestler from Chicago."

Woman Dies After Riding 'Mission Space'

BREITBART.COM: "A second person in less than a year died Wednesday after going on a ride at Walt Disney World so intense that it has motion sickness bags. The 49-year-old woman became ill after riding 'Mission: Space' on Tuesday. She was taken to a hospital, where she died, park spokeswoman Kim Prunty said in a statement. No more information on the woman would be released Wednesday night, she said. The ride has been closed, and a state agency will monitor an inspection, Prunty said. Disney officials told state inspectors Wednesday that the woman felt dizzy and nauseated after the ride and may have had high blood pressure and other health problems, said Terence McElroy, a spokesman for the department that oversees the ride-monitoring agency. The $100 million ride, one of Disney World's most popular, was closed in June after the death of a 4-year-old boy who passed out while aboard. An autopsy concluded he died of a heart condition that a medical examiner said can cause sudden death in stressful situations. The ride reopened after company engineers concluded it was operating normally. 'Mission: Space' spins riders in a centrifuge that subjects them to twice the normal force of gravity. Some riders have been taken to the hospital with chest pain. "

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Travolta son's diagnosis: Science vs. Scientology?

New York Daily News: "John Travolta and Kelly Preston are raising their son, Jett, as a good Scientologist, but some wonder if the 14-year-old is the worse for it.
The Travoltas have said Jett suffers from Kawasaki syndrome, an illness characterized by high fever, painful rash and lymph-node swelling. Preston has said they've traced the disability to 'environmental toxins,' specifically carpet-cleaning chemicals.
Three years ago, she told Montel Williams how she put Jett on a detox regimen based on the writings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Within a few months, she said, 'He ended up getting better,' but still 'has lots of allergies.'
Others suspect Jett may suffer from something more serious - autism.
According to's Mark Ebner, that diagnosis has been corroborated by 'no less than five sources (including a media rep from the Autism Society of America, an executive from Cure Autism Now, a major Hollywood producer and parent of an autistic child, and a Hollywood actor-parent).'
Officials at two autism groups declined to discuss Jett's condition when we called yesterday.
If Jett is autistic,'s Rick Ross suggests, Travolta and Preston may not have sought treatment because Jett 'would have go to psychiatrists, and that would be contrary to the teachings of Hubbard.'
As it happens, Travolta's brother, Joey, has produced a new documentary about autism, 'Normal People Scare Me,' co-directed by high-functioning autistic teenager Taylor Cross and his mother, Keri Bowers."

Cal students take it off to protest sweatshop labor

United Students Against Sweatshops protest in various stages of undress in front of California Hall at UC Berkeley and ask that the university prohibit apparel from being made in sweatshops.
A group of University of California students say they won't wear university logo apparel made in overseas sweatshops - and Tuesday they proved it.
A handful of students stripped for a protest and rally at UC Berkeley to call on UC administrators to adopt a policy that would ensure that logo apparel is produced in factories that respect workers' rights.
``The naked truth is that our Cal apparel is still made in sweatshops, but we have the power to create an alternative model for the global garment industry that rewards rather than punishes good factories,'' UC Berkeley senior Nina Rizzo said in a statement. United Students Against Sweatshops protest in various stages of undress in front of California Hall at UC Berkeley and ask that the university prohibit apparel from being made in sweatshops.
The students, organized under a national group called United Students Against Sweatshops, have held previous protests at UC Berkeley - including one other in the buff - and rallied in front of the UC Office of the President in Oakland.
Eighteen students affiliated with Tuesday's protest were cited for trespassing after they staged a sit-in in California Hall, which houses administrative offices, including the chancellor's office.
The cited students include 13 from UC Berkeley, two from UC San Diego, two from UC Santa Cruz and one from UC Davis.
UC Berkeley officials forwarded the students' demands to UC President Robert Dynes. UC officials have said their policies already prohibit the use of materials made by forced or indentured labor, but they are nonetheless reviewing the students' proposal. A committee studying the proposal is expected to make a recommendation next month."

McClellan: Media Should Publicly Apologize%u201D For Reporting On Mobile Weapons Lab Story

On May 29, 2003, President Bush said We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. This morning the Washington Post revealed that a Pentagon field report transmitted to Washington on May 27, 2003 had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons.
Today during the White House press briefing, Scott McClellan demanded a public apology from the news media for covering the story:
You know, I saw some reporting talking about how this latest revelation which is not something that is new; this is all old information thats being rehashed was an embarrassment for the White House. No, its an embarrassment for the media that is out there reporting this.
I brought up with some of you earlier today some of the reporting that was based of this Washington Post report. And I talked to one of network about it they expressed their apologies to the White House.
I hope they will go and publicly apologize on the air about the statements that were made, because I think it is important given that they had made those statements in front of all their viewers. So we look forward to that happening as well.
McClellans complaint is that the Washington Post and others suggest that President Bush may have known about the report before he made definitive statements that the trailers were for the purpose of building biological weapons.
When McClellan was asked when the White House became aware of the Pentagon field report, however, McClellan couldnt say. He told the press corps Im looking into that matter but the answer was not the point.

Sushi's secret

Sushi and Rev. Moon
Tribune special report: Seafood lovers may not realize they're supporting a self-proclaimed messiah's religious movement.

(A very lengthy article, but very interesting for the sushi loving bloggers here ..ahem, Darcy. And for those of us who don't prefer it, its an interesting story about religion/business ventures)

Eye Fungus a Mystery to Bausch & Lomb

AP Business Writer
Published April 12, 2006, 9:33 AM CDT

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- The source of a spike in dangerous fungal eye infections linked by federal health officials to a contact lens solution sold by Bausch & Lomb Inc. remains a mystery, the eye-care products maker said Wednesday.

"As far as speculation about theories, there's a lot of them, we've run a lot of them to ground and come up with nothing," the company's chief executive, Ron Zarella, said in a conference call with analysts.

"Every additional test we've run suggests that the formulation is as safe and effective as anything on the market and in particular with regard to Fusarium."

The company halted U.S. shipments of its ReNu with MoistureLoc contact lens solution Monday night while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigates 109 reports of infection caused by a fungus called Fusarium in patients in 17 states.

The agency has made no direct link between ReNu and the infections, traced back to June 2005, but a high incidence of the affected people had used the solution.

WP: Report debunked Iraq bioweapons claim - Highlights -

U.S. military personnel examine a suspected mobile biological weapons facility recovered in northern Iraq in April, 2003. The White House announced the trailers were evidence that Saddam Hussein had prohibited weapons systems, but a team of experts dispatched by the Pentagon came to the opposite conclusion.

On May 29, 2003, 50 days after the fall of Baghdad, President Bush proclaimed a fresh victory for his administration in Iraq: Two small trailers captured by U.S. troops had turned out to be long-sought mobile 'biological laboratories.' He declared, 'We have found the weapons of mass destruction.'The claim, repeated by top administration officials for months afterward, was hailed at the time as a vindication of the decision to go to war. But even as Bush spoke, U.S. intelligence officials possessed powerful evidence that it was not true.A secret fact-finding mission to Iraq -- not made public until now -- had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. Leaders of the Pentagon-sponsored mission transmitted their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27, 2003, two days before the president's statement."

It's the Cover-Up

After all the breathless suspense, after all the effort federal agents spent trying to seal a national security breach, after all the fingers were pointed directly at the Vice-President, last week it was revealed that the President of the United States, who everyone had previously thought was way too clueless to be involved, was behind the scandal the entire time. Yes, I'm talking about President Logan on Fox's long-running hit show 24.
How life imitates art.
In the long-running Washington DC tragicomic reality show The Bushies, it was also revealed last week that it was President George W. Bush who was behind the leak that led to the uncovering of CIA agent Valerie Plame's undercover identity.
Whatever the legality of his actions, it is clear that he lied to the American public when he pretended not to know who was responsible for the leak. Instead of clearing up the matter three years ago, Bush's belligerence cost the American tax-payers millions of dollars as Patrick Fitzgerald, the prosecutorial version of Jack Bauer, wasted three years sending reporters to jail to track the deceit back to the highest office in the land.
Bush promised to fire the leaker. If he was a man of his word, he would resign. But we know he is not."

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Everyone's fat but me, Americans say in poll

"WASHINGTON - Ninety percent of Americans know that most of their compatriots are overweight, but just 40 percent believe themselves to be too fat, according to a study published Tuesday.
Government statistics show that more than 60 percent of the U.S. population is overweight, and half is obese, meaning they are at serious risk of health effects from their weight.
But the Pew Research Center telephone survey of more than 2,000 adults found that many people overestimate how tall they are and underestimate how much they weigh — and thus do not rate themselves as overweight, even when they are."

'World's scariest building' goes condo

"Developers converting insane asylums into upscale living space
DANVERS, Massachusetts (AP) -- In real estate, location even trumps spooky.
Across the nation, former state hospitals for the mentally ill -- with dated names like "lunatic asylum" -- are being converted into homes.
Even the ominous Danvers State Hospital, once described as "the scariest building in the world" and a favorite destination of ghost-hunting thrill-seekers, soon will be home to laptop-toting latte drinkers.
"There's obviously a lot of notoriety associated with the site," said Scott Dale, a vice president at AvalonBay Communities Inc., which is constructing 497 luxury apartments and condominiums. "We think, at the end of the day, that will be helpful."
No units are on the market yet. But Dale expressed confidence that occupancy won't be hurt by the property's jaded past, including a cemetery with some unmarked graves -- one reminder of the sad history of treatment of the mentally ill."

Fitzgerald, Bush, and the Public Trust | The Huffington Post

Stephen Elliott: It's always been about accountability. The problems with this administration are always about accountability. Their defenders, like Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity want us to forget when no weapons of mass destruction are found in Iraq. They say, 'Why look at the past, we have to look at the future.' Republicans are always looking to the future because the past is riddled with incompetence and failure. Failure to find weapons, failure to send enough troops, failure to hold fair elections1. 'What's done is done,' they say. 'We have to move forward.'
But the problem is that they have not been held accountable. And now, two years into the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity, with millions of dollars spent on investigating this serious breach of public trust, after reporter Judy Miller spends 80 days in jail, after George W. Bush promises to reckon with anyone in his administration responsible for the leak, we're told George Bush is actually responsible for the leak after all.
So why have the investigation? Why this egregious irresponsible use of tax money from an administration so adamant about tax cuts? If the information was declassified and the president authorized it, what were we investigating? This administration is so used to not being held accountable that it means nothing to them to waste millions of tax payer dollars investigating a leak that they knew all along was their own.
And what else did they know? Well, it seems they knew there was no attempt by Saddam to buy uranium in Niger. But that didn't stop them from including it in the state of the union. Or from going after an administration critic for spreading information they knew to be true, from selectively declassifying information for purely political reasons."

In Attics and Rubble, More Bodies and Questions - New York Times

When August Blanchard returned to New Orleans from Pennsylvania in late December, his mother was still missing. Family members, scattered across the country, had been calling hospitals, the Red Cross and missing persons hot lines, hoping she had been rescued.
But Mr. Blanchard, 26, had a bad feeling. Twice, he drove past the pale green house on Reynes Street in the Lower Ninth Ward, where he and his mother, Charlene Blanchard, 45, had lived, yet he could not bring himself to enter. It was not until Feb. 25 that one of Mr. Blanchard's uncles nudged the front door open with his foot and spied Ms. Blanchard's hand. Dressed in her nightgown and robe, she lay under a moldering sofa. With her was a red velvet bedspread that her daughter had given her and a huge teddy bear. The bodies of storm victims are still being discovered in New Orleans in March alone there were nine, along with one skull. Skeletonized or half-eaten by animals, with leathery, hardened skin or missing limbs, the bodies are lodged in piles of rubble, dangling from rafters or lying face down, arms outstretched on parlor floors. Many of them, like Ms. Blanchard, were overlooked in initial searches. A landlord in the Lakeview section put a 'for sale' sign outside a house, unaware that his tenant's body was in the attic. Two weeks ago, searchers in the Lower Ninth Ward found a girl, believed to be about 6, wearing a blue backpack. Nearby, they found part of a man who the authorities believe might have been trying to save her. [On Friday, contractors found a body in the attic of a home in the Gentilly neighborhood that had been searched twice before, officials said.]In the weeks after Hurricane Katrina, there were grotesque images of bodies left in plain sight. Officials in Louisiana recovered more than 1,200 bodies, but the process, hamstrung by money shortages and red tape, never really ended."

Monday, April 10, 2006

Surprise guest

An unidentified intruder (right) shouts as he is approached by a member of the Secret Service Emergency Response Team on the North Lawn of the White House Sunday. The man was later taken into custody by the Secret Service. President Bush was in the White House at the time.
(AP photo by Charles Dharapak)
Apr. 9, 2006

BBC Mundo | Am�rica Latina | Per�batalla por el segundo lugar

"Con el 77,7% de los votos escrutados, el ex presidente Alan Garc�a ha desplazado a la candidata de la centro derecha, Lourdes Flores, del segundo lugar, y por lo tanto pasar�a a una segunda vuelta junto con el candidato m�s votado, el nacionalista Ollanta Humala.

Hasta la ma�ana del lunes, todo indicaba que el 'ballotage' se dirimir�a entre Humala y Flores, pero los �ltimos resultados invirtieron la tendencia y Garc�a se ubica, al menos por el momento, en el segundo lugar, con el 24,95% de los votos.

Flores lo sigue muy de cerca, con el 24,37%, mientras que Humala se ha ido distanciado y casi llega al 30%."

Suit slams school league breakup

"The breakup of a large high school athletic league in the south suburbs is an 'apartheid-like' maneuver that has 'revived racial segregation in public schools' in violation of students' civil rights, according to a lawsuit that attorneys filed today in federal court.
The defection of two dozen schools from the South Inter-Conference Association amounts to 'white flight,' school leaders, students and parents from the Thornton Township and Thornton Fractional school systems allege in their complaint, a copy of which was obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times."

College graduates chase jobs, culture to big cities, AP analysis shows

Seattle PI: "WASHINGTON -- College graduates are flocking to America's big cities, chasing jobs and culture and driving up home prices.
Though many of the largest cities have lost population in the past three decades, nearly all have added college graduates, an analysis by The Associated Press found.
Seattle was the best-educated city in 2004 with just over half the adults having bachelor's degrees. Following closely were San Francisco; Raleigh, N.C.; Washington and Austin, Texas.
The findings offer hope for urban areas, many of which have spent decades struggling with financial problems, job losses and high poverty rates.
But they also spell trouble for some cities, especially those in the Northeast and Midwest, that have fallen behind the South and West in attracting highly educated workers.
'The largest predictor of economic well-being in cities is the percent of college graduates,' said Ned Hill, professor of economic development at Cleveland State University. To do well, he said, cities must be attractive to educated people."

'White flight' suit filed against suburban schools

Chicago Tribune: "A group of students, parents and educators from the southern suburbs filed a federal lawsuit today alleging racial discrimination motivated the formation of two new athletic and extracurricular conferences dominated by predominantly white school districts.
The suit, whose plaintiffs include two predominantly black school districts, accuses 13 other districts of engaging in 'white flight' and 'secession' by pulling out of the racially diverse South Inter-Conference Association (SICA).
The suit accuses the mostly white districts of violating federal civil rights laws by creating 'a racial Mason-Dixon line down I-57,' the highway that separates the SICA districts on the east from the new conferences on the west.
A total of 22 high schools have left or have announced their intent to leave the 33-school SICA, according to the suit, filed in U.S. District Court, Chicago. "

Man Gets $218 Trillion Phone Bill

Chicago Tribune: "KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia --
A Malaysian man said he nearly fainted when he recieved a $218 trillion phone bill and was ordered to pay up within 10 days or face prosecution, a newspaper reported Monday. Yahaya Wahab said he disconnected his late father's phone line in January after he died and settled the 84 ringgit ($23) bill, the New Straits Times reported. But Telekom Malaysia later sent him a 806,400,000,000,000.01 ringgit ($218 trillion) bill for recent telephone calls along with orders to settle within 10 days or face legal proceedings, the newspaper reported. It wasn't clear whether the bill was a mistake, or if Yahaya's father's phone line was used illegally after after his death. 'If the company wants to seek legal action as mentioned in the letter, I'm ready to face it,' the paper quoted Yahaya as saying. 'In fact, I can't wait to face it,' he said. Yahaya, from northern Kedah state, received a notice from the company's debt-collection agency in early April, the paper said. Yahaya said he nearly fainted when he saw the new bill. Government-linked Telekom Malaysia Bhd. is the country's largest telecommunications company. A company official, who declined to be identified as she was not authorized to speak to the media, said Telekom Malaysia was aware of Yahaya's case and would address it. She did not provide further details"

Lawyers for Duke Players Say DNA Doesn't Match

New York Times: "DURHAM, N.C., April 10
DNA evidence released today cleared 46 Duke lacrosse players from an accusation that three of them raped a dancer at a party four weeks ago, the players' defense lawyers said.
They asked the Durham County district attorney to drop the case that has riveted and divided this city. None of the students' DNA was found on the woman or on any of her clothing or possessions or under her fingernails, the lawyers said. They said the accusation was false and based on the testimony of the one woman, a 27-year-old student, mother of two and a dancer who had been hired to perform at a party held by members of Duke's men's lacrosse team. The Durham County district attorney, Michael B. Nifong, declined to comment on the DNA test results. 'It would not be appropriate for me to go into those results,' he said in a brief exchange with reporters before the defense lawyers released the results, which were ordered by prosecutors and given to defense attorneys at about 4 p.m. today. Nifong also refused to discuss his plan for the case, which made national news last month when he said he was convinced that a rape had occurred and called on team members to stop covering up for one another. The case raised issues of race, class and sex in Durham and among the Duke community. The African-American woman said she was raped by three white students at an elite university, and the woman and a neighbor said the students shouted racial insults."

George Bush: Mastermind???

Arianna Huffington: In today's New York Times, a senior Bush administration official 'confirmed' that the president ordered the declassification of prewar intel 'to rebut critics' but 'left open several questions, including when Mr. Bush acted and whether he did so on the advice of Mr. Cheney. Still unclear is the nature of the communication between Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney.'
Please. The 'nature of the communication' may not be confirmed but is it really unclear?
In his filing last week, Patrick Fitzgerald stated: 'The evidence will show that the July 6, 2003 Op-Ed by Mr. Wilson was viewed in the Office of the Vice President as a direct attack on the credibility of the vice president (and the president)...' Note who gets relegated to parentheses-land.
Given this, choose the more plausible scenario:
That Cheney goes to (the president) and says: 'Look, we gotta kneecap Wilson before this manipulated intelligence crap gets out of hand. I wanna have Scooter meet with Miller and slip her some cherry-picked and puffed up classified info from the NIE. I know I've got the constitutional chops to declassify the stuff myself but why don't you sign off too, just to be on the safe side.'
Or that (the president), a man who wouldn't testify in front of the 9/11 Commission without Cheney by his side, suddenly woke up one morning and thought to himself: 'I can't allow these irresponsible, unfounded, wild, and flat-out false accusations to go unanswered. I need to selectively declassify the paragraphs at the bottom of page 24 of the 2002 NIE so we can perpetuate the myth that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure' uranium from Africa. Then I'll tell Cheney to tell Libby to tell Judy that this was a 'key judgment' of the assessment, even though the 'key judgments' actually don't mention uranium at all. Later, I'll launch an all-out attack on leaks and leaking -- just to throw them off the scent. And, if years later this mess ever comes out, I can always have my press secretary say -- 10 times -- that my decision was 'in the public interest.' Let me get Cheney on the phone and give him his marching orders.'"

NYT says Senior Official Confirmed Bush Ordered Leak

It's beginning to look a lot like Fitzmas:
[NYT] A senior administration official confirmed for the first time on Sunday that President Bush had ordered the declassification of parts of a prewar intelligence report on Iraq in an effort to rebut critics who said the administration had exaggerated the nuclear threat posed by Saddam Hussein. ... Confirmation that Mr. Bush ordered the declassification was published late Saturday by The Associated Press, which quoted 'an attorney knowledgeable about the case.' Once it appeared, the administration official was willing to confirm its details. [...] But the official said that Mr. Bush did not designate Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby Jr., or anyone else, to release the information to reporters.
Fear not Mr. President. They're laying this one off on Dead-eye Dick Cheney. Hark! Is that the dainty, tapping sound of those daring young men and women and their lying machines coming to your rescue? The 101st Fighting Keyboardists are on the case and coming soon to a blog near you."

Yes He Would - New York Times

(SEE BELOW PART ONE & TWO) PART THREE: Why might Mr. Bush want another war? For one thing, Mr. Bush, whose presidency is increasingly defined by the quagmire in Iraq, may believe that he can redeem himself with a new Mission Accomplished moment.
And it's not just Mr. Bush's legacy that's at risk. Current polls suggest that the Democrats could take one or both houses of Congress this November, acquiring the ability to launch investigations backed by subpoena power. This could blow the lid off multiple Bush administration scandals. Political analysts openly suggest that an attack on Iran offers Mr. Bush a way to head off this danger, that an appropriately timed military strike could change the domestic political dynamics.
Does this sound far-fetched? It shouldn't. Given the combination of recklessness and dishonesty Mr. Bush displayed in launching the Iraq war, why should we assume that he wouldn't do it again?"

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Ready, set eat

The University Daily Kansan: "Pat Bertoletti plans to get a normal job. Probably something in a kitchen. He is, after all, a culinary arts major. The problem is that, after you've grown accustomed to making thousands of dollars in a matter of minutes, typical college-student wages aren't all that satisfying.
Bertoletti, a junior at Kendall College in Chicago, is a competitive eater. Ranked 10th internationally, he has downed 11.5 pounds of corned beef sandwiches in 10 minutes and 19 dozen oysters in the same amount of time. In 15-minute spans, he has polished off 5.25 pounds of pizza and 12.78 pounds of watermelon. For Valentine's Day this year, he celebrated by consuming almost 2 pounds of chocolate hearts in eight minutes (and won $5,000 for it).
Consider that the stomach of an average adult comfortably holds only 3 pounds of food, and that a typical meal consists of only a pound to a pound and a half - significantly less than what Bertoletti can swallow in the time span of a coffee break.
Although it will probably never be dubbed America's favorite pastime, competitive eating is growing in popularity. Like any other sport, it requires skill, training and perseverance. But it also has its risks."

Sen. Specter: Bush, Cheney should explain role in CIA leak case

President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney should speak publicly about their involvement in the CIA leak case so people can understand what happened, a leading Republican senator said Sunday.
'We ought to get to the bottom of it so it can be evaluated by the American people,' said Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In a federal court filing last week, the prosecutor in the case said Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, testified before a grand jury that he was authorized by Bush, through Cheney, to leak information from a classified document that detailed intelligence agencies' conclusions about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
'I think it is necessary for the president and vice president to tell the American people exactly what happened,' Specter told Fox News Sunday.
'There's been enough of a showing that the president of the United States owes a specific explanation to the American people ... about exactly what he did,' Specter said.
Libby faces trial, likely in January, on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to the grand jury and investigators about what he told reporters about CIA officer Valerie Plame.
Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald did not say in the filing that Cheney authorized Libby to leak Plame's identity, and Bush is not accused of doing anything illegal.
The investigation is looking into whether Plame's identify was disclosed to discredit her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, an Iraq war critic. Wilson had accused the administration of twisting prewar intelligence to exaggerate the threat from Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
Sen. John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who ran against Bush for president in 2004, said it was wrong for Bush to declassify information selectively 'in order to buttress phony arguments to go to war ' and to attack people politically."

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Thank You Harry Taylor

Bush Event Goes Off Script: "Q You never stop talking about freedom, and I appreciate that. But while I listen to you talk about freedom, I see you assert your right to tap my telephone, to arrest me and hold me without charges, to try to preclude me from breathing clean air and drinking clean water and eating safe food. If I were a woman, youd like to restrict my opportunity to make a choice and decision about whether I can abort a pregnancy on my own behalf. You are
THE PRESIDENT: I'm not your favorite guy. Go ahead. (Laughter and applause.) Go on, what's your question?
Q Okay, I don't have a question. What I wanted to say to you is that I in my lifetime, I have never felt more ashamed of, nor more frightened by my leadership in Washington, including the presidency, by the Senate, and
THE PRESIDENT: No, wait a sec let him speak.
Q And I would hope I feel like despite your rhetoric, that compassion and common sense have been left far behind during your administration, and I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and the grace to be ashamed of yourself inside yourself. And I also want to say I really appreciate the courtesy of allowing me to speak what Im saying to you right now. That is part of what this country is about.
THE PRESIDENT: It is, yes. (Applause.)
Q And I know that this doesnt come welcome to most of the people in this room, but I do appreciate that.
Q I dont have a question, but I just wanted to make that comment to you.
THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate it, thank you. Let me "

Be It Resolved: You Can Impeach the President

Official State Impeachment Text
Impeachment Text for Cities & Towns
Impeachment Text for County Democratic Committees
Impeachment Text for State Assemblies and/or LegislaturesJefferson's Manual, Section LIII, 603
You Can Impeach the President
WHEREAS, Jefferson's Manual section LIII, 603, states that impeachment may be set in motion by charges transmitted from the legislature of a State; and
WHEREAS, George W. Bush has intentionally misled the Congress and the public regarding the threat from Iraq in order to justify a war against Iraq, in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 1001 and intentionally conspired with others to defraud the United States in connection with the war against Iraq in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 371; and

WHEREAS, George W. Bush has admitted to ordering the National Security Agency to conduct electronic surveillance of American civilians without seeking warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, duly constituted by Congress in 1978, in violation of Title 50 United States Code, Section 1805; and
WHEREAS, George W. Bush has conspired to commit the torture of prisoners in violation of the UN Torture Convention and the Geneva Convention, which under Article VI of the Constitution are part of the 'supreme Law of the Land'; and
WHEREAS, George W. Bush has acted to strip Americans of their constitutional rights by ordering indefinite detention of citizens, without access to legal counsel, without charge and without opportunity to appear before a civil judicial officer to challenge the detention, based solely on the discretionary designation by the President of a U.S. citizen as an 'enemy combatant', all in subversion of law; and
WHEREAS, In all of this George W. Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, subversive of constitutional government to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of the State of ___________ and of the United States.
Be it resolved that George W. Bush, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States"

Divine Right of Bushes - New York Times

Part 3: Instead, sounding very Lewis Carroll, the White House claims that when the president leaks something secret, it's not secret anymore. It's the Immaculate Declassification: intelligence is declassified by passing it on to a friendly reporter. 'The president believes the leaking of classified information is a very serious matter,' Scott McClellan said. 'And I think that's why it's important to draw a distinction here. Declassifying information and providing it to the public, when it is in the public interest, is one thing. But leaking classified information that could compromise our national security is something that is very serious. And there is a distinction.' And thank goodness we have a White House that gets that distinction. Democrats who don't, he sniffed, are guilty of 'crass politics.' If W. wants the information out, it's good for the country to make it public. If W. doesn't want the information out, it's bad for the country to make it public. L'�tat, c'est moi. That's how we got mired in the Iraq war in the first place. The administration ruthlessly held back classified information that contradicted its bogus case for war, and leaked classified information that supported it. The Bushies keep trying to manipulate reality, but reality bites back. That's not only crass politics. It's lethal politics. L'�tat, c'est mess."

Friday, April 07, 2006

Did the Leaker-in-Chief Lie to Fitzgerald?

On June 24, 2004, President George W. Bush was interviewed by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald. For 70 minutes, Fitzgerald asked the President about the circumstances surrounding the leak of classified information.
What transpired during those 70 minutes, we don't know. But I presume that 'did you leak the identity of Valerie Plame' wasn't the only question Fitzgerald asked of the President. Rather, for 70 minutes, the President was likely questioned about many facets of the scandal, including the NIE. Was he questioned about whether he authorized selective leaks? Was he questioned about whether he authorized leaks of the highly sensitive NIE? Given Fitzgerald's reputation for meticulous questioning, and given the length of the interview, whether the President authorized such disclosures was likely covered.
Even though the President was not under oath during those 70 minutes, he sill had an obligation not to make false statements. All of this, of course, presupposes that Libby is telling the truth when he claims Cheney said Bush authorized the leaks. But the latest revelation, coupled with the President's brazen insistence in public that leaks of classified information are anathema to his national security philosophy, makes such a question a legitimate one: what did the President represent to Fitzgerald, and is that consistent with the truth?
Whatever the answer, the legal fallout from this will, I anticipate, be minimal. The political fallout, on the other hand, looks to be astounding. As Firedoglake points out, the glaring question is 'why'? Americans do not like the idea of leaking national security information to the press, (even if, as TPM points out, the administration doesn't consider it 'leaking' if the President does it). And to authorize leaking that info to settle a vendetta? Well, such use of executive power smacks of a Nixonian breach of the public trust.
Americans deserve to know what the President did and why he did it. Any delay in an explanation only reinforces the belief that this Leaker-in-Chief is hiding from the American the full breadth of his mischievous acts."

Thursday, April 06, 2006

White House Press Corps Fails to Ask McClellan About Bush's Authorization of Leak

Yesterday, Patrick Fitzgerald submitted a court filing which revealed that, according to Scooter Libby, he was authorized to leak classified information by President Bush. This morning, it was reported by the New York Sun, the National Journal and many other publications.
When the White House press corps had an opportunity this morning to ask Press Secretary Scott McClellan questions, they didn't ask him about it. At 9:30AM, on route to Bush's speech in North Carolina, reporters asked McClellan about immigration, terrorism, Katrina and Iran. But there wasn't a single question about President Bush authorizing Scooter Libby to share highly classified information with reporters."

Rumsfeld Challenges Rice on 'Tactical Errors' in Iraq

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he did not know what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was talking about when she said last week that the United States had made thousands of 'tactical errors' in handling the war in Iraq, a statement she later said was meant figuratively.Speaking during a radio interview on WDAY in Fargo, N.D., on Tuesday, Rumsfeld said calling changes in military tactics during the war 'errors' reflects a lack of understanding of warfare. Rumsfeld defended his war plan for Iraq but added that such plans inevitably do not survive first contact with the enemy.'Why? Because the enemy's got a brain; the enemy watches what you do and then adjusts to that, so you have to constantly adjust and change your tactics, your techniques and your procedures,' Rumsfeld told interviewer Scott Hennen, according to a Defense Department transcript. 'If someone says, well, that's a tactical mistake, then I guess it's a lack of understanding, at least my understanding, of what warfare is about.'Rumsfeld's questioning of Rice's comments came amid long-standing tensions between their departments over the war in Iraq and other issues. Rumsfeld and the Pentagon have been criticized by members of Congress and even some retired generals for missteps in Iraq, such as failing to anticipate the insurgency.On a trip to Britain, Rice told reporters Friday that 'I know we've made tactical errors, thousands of them I'm sure,' but that the strategic decisions will be the ones historians judge.When asked about the comment the next day, Rice said she 'wasn't sitting around counting' U.S. tactical errors and instead meant her comments figuratively. 'The point I was making . . . is that, of course, if you've ever made decisions, you've undoubtedly made mistakes in the decisions that you've made, but that the important thing is to get the big strategic decisions right and that I am confident that the decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein and give the Iraqi people an opportunity for peace and democracy is the right decision.'"

Katie's 'Eye' do to 15M

New York Daily News: "Does Katie
Couric's estimated annual salary at CBS - $15 million a year - boggle your mind?
Think of it this way: it's almost $300,000 a week.
Or $60,000 a day. The average schmo in Manhattan, meanwhile, makes just $405 a day.
And given an average broadcast of the 'CBS Evening News,' she'll make almost $67 for every word she speaks.
Now that's rich.
So what's a girl to do with all that dough.
Of course, we have ideas. When she's feeling blue and missing Matt Lauer, here's one way to paint the town:
BREAKFAST: No more early mornings so at 9 a.m., head to Norma's at the Parker Meridien for its omelette smothered in caviar.
Total: $1,000.

WHEELS: Cut up that MetroCard and ride in style for the day with a 22-passenger stretch Hummer H-2 rented from Manhattan Coach. Total: $2,100.
SHOP: Head to Tiffany's for a pair of square diamond earrings ($5,800); get new Manolo Blahnik pumps ($3,050); a Hermes handbag ($5,000); and scoop up four primo Madonna concert tickets ($1,500).

Total: $15,350.
PLAN A TRIP: Charter a jet to Paris for fall visit, and, if she's feeling charitable, take Dan Rather along.

Total: $22,704.
DINNER: After her 22 minutes of on-air time, chow down at Masa, the exclusive Japanese restaurant at the Time Warner Center with her five closest friends.

Total: $3,000.
PARTY: Then stop off at Bungalow 8, where they order 10 bottles of $600 Cristal champagne.

Total: $6,000.
SLEEP: Forget that lumpy mattress and check into a 3-room luxury suite at the Ritz Carlton on Central Park South.

Total: $10,500.
DAY'S TOTAL: $60,654"

Bush Nailed

Andrew Sullivan : "We have a missing link. No, I don't mean the post-fish. I mean the Bush connection in the Plame leak. It turns out that, according to Libby, it was the president who first sanctioned the leak of the NIE data to discredit Joseph Wilson. Money quote:'Defendant testified that he was specifically authorized in advance of the meeting to disclose the key judgments of the classified NIE to Miller on that occasion because it was thought that the NIE was 'pretty definitive' against what Ambassador Wilson had said and that the vice president thought that it was 'very important' for the key judgments of the NIE to come out,' Mr. Fitzgerald wrote.Mr. Libby is said to have testified that 'at first' he rebuffed Mr. Cheney's suggestion to release the information because the estimate was classified. However, according to the vice presidential aide, Mr. Cheney subsequently said he got permission for the release directly from Mr. Bush. 'Defendant testified that the vice president later advised him that the president had authorized defendant to disclose the relevant portions of the NIE,' the prosecution filing said.Just a small point. Cheney's judgment in this matter is extremely odd. Who really cared about Joseph Wilson's op-ed? Why the extreme defensiveness and then recklessness of the Plame leak? We're either talking extreme hubris here, or someone who felt he had a lot to hide. Or an admixture of the two."

Libby: Bush told me to leak classified information to reporters

While it's not clear whether Bush did or didn't authorize Libby to leak Valerie Plame's name, we now know that Bush himself is a leaker - Bush thinks leaks of classified information are a-okay and a worthwhile and acceptable tool of politics.And Bush himself is directly responsible for leaking classified informationt to - whom? - why REPORTERS! The very people who Bush now has the Justice Department investigating for receiving leaks of classified information regarding secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe.So, Bush authorized leaks of classified information to reporters, yet he's investigating people in his administration for leaking classified information to reporters. It's good to be king.You'll recall that Bush leaked classified information to Bob Woodward for one of Woodward's book. The issue was raised at the time, but no one in the media or the Hill wanted to seriously go after it because Bush was still Big Brother back then. Hopefully they'll start going after the leaker-in-chief now.Vice President Dick Cheney's former top aide told prosecutors President Bush authorized the leak of sensitive intelligence information about Iraq, according to court papers filed by prosecutors in the CIA leak case.Before his indictment, I. Lewis Libby testified to the grand jury investigating the CIA leak that Cheney told him to pass on information and that it was Bush who authorized the disclosure, the court papers say. According to the documents, the authorization led to the July 8, 2003, conversation between Libby and New York Times reporter Judith Miller.There was no indication in the filing that either Bush or Cheney authorized Libby to disclose Valerie Plame's CIA identity.But the disclosure in documents filed Wednesday means that the president and the vice president put Libby in play as a secret provider of information to reporters about prewar intelligence on Iraq."

What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive:

Vice President Dick Cheney's former top aide told prosecutors President Bush authorized the leak of sensitive intelligence information about Iraq, according to court papers filed by prosecutors in the CIA leak case.
Before his indictment, I. Lewis Libby testified to the grand jury investigating the CIA leak that Cheney told him to pass on information and that it was Bush who authorized the disclosure, the court papers say. According to the documents, the authorization led to the July 8, 2003, conversation between Libby and New York Times reporter Judith Miller.
The testimony is being picked apart throughout the blogosphere. Did the President personally authorize the selected release of classified information meant to manipulate public opinion about a pending invasion of Iraq? Or did Cheney lie? If Cheney corroborates Scooter Libby's story, he implicates the President. If he denies it, he calls his former Chief of Staff a liar. Was the name 'Valerie Plame' part of that 'certain information' Cheney instructed Libby to release to the press?
Lots of questions, though I suspect we won't be receiving any answers from the White House. After all, the President doesn't comment on ongoing investigations (except, of course, when he does)."