Blue text is my own commentary.
Violet text is the blog quote of the day.
ONCE AGAIN, ARTICLES AND OPINIONS ABOUT THE CARNAGE IN AFRICA SEEM TO BE CONSPICUOUSLY MISSING FROM THE WEEKEND HEADLINES...
BUSH APPROVAL RATINGS CONTINUE TO SLIDE
President George W. Bush's job performance is currently viewed positively by only 28% of U.S. adults, (I have regularly opined on numerous blogs that there's a "27% factor" that represents "some of the people all of the time," those so ideologically brainwashed, they would sell their souls before admitting any doubt in BushCo, and these polls seem to suggest that number is quite accurate) according to the latest Harris Poll of 1,001 U.S. adults surveyed by phone between April 20 and 23, 2007 by Harris Interactive. That approval rating is the lowest recorded since President Bush took office. The poll revealed that 7 in 10 adults view the President's job performance in a negative light, including almost half (48%) who say his job performance is poor. Vice President Dick Cheney is also at his lowest job approval. Only 25% of adults view him in a positive light, while over two-thirds (68%) view his job performance negatively. Yet these negative feelings are not limited to President Bush. For the first time, all of the political figures and institutions in Harris' survey have a negative job performance rating. These figures include Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who, for the first time is viewed negatively by half of adults. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' rating also has also gone down. Only 29% view his job performance in a positive light, while 55% view it negatively...
THE BUSH WARS
At least 56 people were killed Saturday in the second major car bombing in two weeks in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, police said, and the U.S. military reported the deaths of seven soldiers and two Marines in other attacks. Three of the soldiers were killed in a roadside bombing southeast of Baghdad on Saturday, and one was killed in a bombing south of the capital, the military said. Three soldiers were wounded in the attacks. On Friday, three soldiers and two Marines were killed in the Sunni insurgent stronghold of Anbar province, west of Baghdad, the military reported.
"It makes Vietnam look like a cakewalk," said retired Air Force Gen. Charles F. Wald, a veteran of the Vietnam War. The domino theory that nations across Southeast Asia would go communist was not fulfilled, he noted, but with Iraq, "worst-case scenarios are the most likely thing to happen." Iraq is worse than Vietnam "in so many ways," agreed Andrew F. Krepinevich Jr., a retired Army officer and author of one of the most respected studies of the U.S. military's failure in Vietnam. "We knew what we were getting into in Vietnam. We didn't here." Also, President Richard M. Nixon used diplomacy with China and the Soviet Union to exploit the split between them and so minimize the fallout of Vietnam. By contrast, Krepinevich said, the Bush administration has "magnified" the problems of Iraq by neglecting public diplomacy in the Muslim world and by not developing an energy policy to reduce the significance of Middle Eastern oil. (there's the key phrase; it should have begun in the 70's)
In a troubling sign for the American-financed rebuilding program in Iraq, inspectors for a federal oversight agency have found that in a sampling of eight projects that the United States had declared successes, seven were no longer operating as designed because of plumbing and electrical failures, lack of proper maintenance, apparent looting and expensive equipment that lay idle. The United States has previously admitted, sometimes under pressure from federal inspectors, that some of its reconstruction projects have been abandoned, delayed or poorly constructed. But this is the first time inspectors have found that projects officially declared a success — in some cases, as little as six months before the latest inspections — were no longer working properly. The inspections ranged geographically from northern to southern Iraq and covered projects as varied as a maternity hospital, barracks for an Iraqi special forces unit and a power station for Baghdad International Airport. At the airport, crucially important for the functioning of the country, inspectors found that while $11.8 million had been spent on new electrical generators, $8.6 million worth were no longer functioning.
Once an island of relative tranquillity in the mostly Shiite Muslim south, Basra has suffered a dramatic turnaround in the last two years. Thundering rocket and mortar strikes have become a near-daily occurrence at British bases in this city. British soldiers who once patrolled on foot in berets and no body armor now venture downtown only in armored convoys. Although the violence pales in comparison to Baghdad, seven British soldiers have been killed in Basra in April, three by gunfire and four when a roadside bomb tore through their Warrior fighting vehicle. The deaths pushed Britain's monthly toll in Iraq to 11, the highest since 27 of its troops were killed in March 2003 during the invasion, according to the website icasualties.org, which tracks U.S. and British military casualties in Iraq.The increase in violence comes as Britain begins to disengage from southern Iraq, leaving Shiite political parties and their militias to battle over the spoils. At stake is control of political patronage in Iraq's second-largest city and of the billions of dollars in oil that flow through the country's only seaport.
A suicide bomber believed to have been targeting Pakistan's interior minister set off a powerful explosion Saturday that killed at least 26 people and injured dozens, including the minister, Pakistani authorities said. Officials said the blast, at a political gathering in the restive North-West Frontier Province, appeared to be a renewed challenge by Islamic insurgents to President Pervez Musharraf's government.
When they arrived in the summer of 2003, the Islamic extremists found Ramadi fertile ground for recruits to fight the U.S. Marines and soldiers who had occupied the city after overthrowing Saddam Hussein. Al Qaeda in Iraq even declared an Islamic state of Iraq, with Ramadi its provisional capital. But over time, the extremists overplayed their hand by imposing strict religious doctrine, hijacking the city government and enforcing a brutal intimidation campaign to keep the locals in line, residents said. "They killed people right in front of our eyes," (our own soldiers and commanders need to take a lesson from this) said Sameh Khalif, an apparel merchant on Market Street, referring to insurgents from foreign countries, including Syria, Algeria and Morocco, who flocked to Ramadi. U.S. Army Lt. Col. Mike Silverman, who commands a unit in charge of northwest Ramadi, permits himself the hope that a corner has been turned here in Al Anbar province, thanks in large part to Al Qaeda in Iraq's missteps. "They nearly achieved it, turning Al Anbar into the new Afghanistan," Silverman said. "But they shot themselves in the foot. Their violent tactics just discredited them further and further." Still, no one in the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, Ramadi's occupying command, is claiming defeat of Al Qaeda in Iraq, whose strength has ebbed and flowed before. One Army officer who asked not to be named said neighborhood support could disappear quickly and allegiances shift back to the insurgents if security falters. "The people here reflect what Kissinger said: There are no friends, no enemies. There are only interests."
It has long been evident that President Bush decided to invade Iraq first, and constructed his ramshackle case for the war after the fact. So why, after all this time, are Americans still in the dark about the details of that campaign? For that matter, why don’t Americans know the full truth about Mr. Bush’s illegal domestic spying program or his decisions on how to handle prisoners of the war on terror? And now there are new questions begging for answers — about the purge of United States attorneys and about campaign pep rallies in executive branch agencies that might well have violated federal law. For six years, the Republican majority in Congress ignored the administration’s power grabs, misdeeds and incompetence or, worse, pushed through laws that gave legislative cover to some of Mr. Bush’s most outrageous abuses of power. Now that the Democrats control Congress, they have opened the doors of government in welcome ways. But the list of questions just seems to grow. We hope Representative Henry Waxman, chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, enforces the subpoena of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to discuss prewar claims about Saddam Hussein’s long-gone weapons programs. Ms. Rice, who was national security adviser before the war, says she has answered every possible question. Actually, we don’t have room for all our questions.
BLOG QUOTE OF THE DAY
from Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com
"The elected officials comprising the Democratic caucus are very politically diverse, characterized by widely disparate ideologies, (we call that the "Big Tent") varying amounts of political courage, and completely different calculations of self-interest. Yet virtually without exception, they have remained unified in their opposition to the war and the President even in the face of the Washington Establishment's painfully trite warnings that they must capitulate for their own good. That, standing alone, is a fundamental change, a sign that something has shifted profoundly."
REPUBLICANS LOSING MONEY-RAISING ADVANTAGE
President Bush's unpopularity and a string of political setbacks have created a toxic climate for the Republican Party, making it harder to raise money and recruit candidates for its drive to retake control of Congress. Some of the GOP's top choices to run for the House next year have declined, citing what Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) called a "poisonous" environment. (after watching him so transparently game the whole system lately, Davis should have to face some of this "poison" himself in the next election) And Republicans' fundraising edge, an important advantage over the last five years, has dwindled. With GOP clout diminished after November's election losses, the Republicans' national committee and their House and Senate campaign committees together raised the same amount as the Democrats in the first quarter of the year — and Democrats ended the period with more cash in the bank. At this point four years ago, Republicans had more than twice the money Democrats did.
...so why did Goodling plead the Fifth? Here's one good reason...
Thanx to "Anonymous Liberal" (whose link I just added to my daily blogroll) in a crosspost on FDL (again, that's how "The Blogs" work, one blog refers to another blog, and that blog adds its own perspective, then other blogs refer to and add to the reliable body of information, with commenters correcting and improving the final perspective, growing into "total information awareness" until the REAL story is fully vetted.)
"Another Friday, another document dump from the DOJ. I haven't had time to look through very many of the documents, but one of the first ones I came across was this one from Monica "I plead the Fifth" Goodling. Notice the instruction in boldface type (click on the image to zoom in): Yes, that's an instruction to delete documents. And notice the date: February 12, 2007. That's well after Congress began investigating this matter. I don't believe any subpoenas or document requests had yet been issued (someone please correct me if I'm wrong about that), but it was pretty clear by then that document requests were likely."
SPONTANEOUS STUDENT PROTEST OF GONZALES HARVARD REUNION EVENT
A small group of student protesters, including one wearing a black hood and an orange jumpsuit, heckled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as he posed with old classmates Saturday during their 25-year Harvard Law School reunion. "When the photographer was getting everybody set up and having people say 'cheese,' the protesters yelled: 'say torture, instead,' 'resign' and 'I don't recall,'" said Nate Ela, a protester and third-year student. Law school spokesman Mike Armini said the impromptu protest was so small that some of those attending the photo shoot did not notice it. Ela said the protesters followed Gonzales into the law school's library, chanting "shame" and "resign," before the attorney general's security detail took him to his motorcade.
The Justice Department is removing political appointees from the hiring process for rookie lawyers and summer interns, amid allegations that the Bush administration had rigged the programs in favor of candidates with connections to conservative or Republican groups, according to documents and officials. The decision, outlined in an internal memo distributed Thursday, returns control of the Attorney General's Honors Program and the Summer Law Intern Program to career lawyers in the department after four years during which political appointees directed the process.
(surely there's a lot more fire hiding under all this smoke!)
BUSH "SCANDAL OF THE WEEK"
thanx to "Think Progress" for the link, via TalkingPointsMemo
(and that is exactly how and why "The Blogs" work!)
ABC News’ Brian Ross revealed tonight that the list of customers of an alleged Washington-based prostitution service includes White House and Pentagon officials as well as prominent attorneys. “There are thousands of names, tens of thousands of phone numbers,” Ross said. “And there are people there at the Pentagon, lobbyists, others at the White House, prominent lawyers — a long, long list.” Ross added that the women who worked for the service, potentially as prostitutes, “include university professors, legal secretaries, scientists, military officers.” On Friday, Ross broke the news that U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Randall Tobias had frequented the escort service. Ross added new details to that story tonight, recounting how he asked Tobias in a telephone interview “if he knew any of the young women, their names. He said he didn’t remember them at all. He said it was like ordering pizza.”
Under President Bush, Tobias oversaw a program helping men in poor countries “develop healthy relationships with women.”
HEALTH CARE NEWS
Despite efforts to curb drug companies' avid courting of doctors, the industry is working harder than ever to influence what medicines they prescribe, sending out sales representatives with greater frequency and plying physicians with gifts, meals and consulting fees, according to several new papers.
LABOR UNION NEWS
Most important, the House passed the Employee Free Choice Act. President Bush has vowed to veto the legislation should it reach his desk, but if a Democrat is elected the next president and signs the bill, the first progressive reform of U.S. labor law in decades may give trade unionists a real shot at organizing millions of workers now consigned to union-free purgatory. The act would greatly diminish opportunities for managerial intimidation during organizing campaigns by allowing workers to join a union simply by signing a card. And the act would impose stiff financial penalties on anti-union employers who break the law. This "card check," as it is known, may be a viable alternative to the employer-dominated elections currently conducted by the National Labor Relations Board. (one more watchdog that was turned against its masters under BushCo)
A recent report by the United Church of Christ in Cleveland suggests that decisions made by federal, state and local governments, as well as by companies, have penalized minority groups. The evidence: There are a disproportionate number of hazardous-waste facilities near where they live. The report, a reprise of a 1987 examination of the problem, found that over the last 20 years minorities have been subjected to excessive levels of toxic pollutants from sites that have negatively affected their health and, often, property values.
The Washington (DC) area is in the middle of a carbon dioxide binge, (see story above!) with emissions of this greenhouse gas from vehicles and electricity users having increased at more than twice the national rate between 2001 and 2005, according to a Washington Post estimate. That estimate, which appears to be the first to track the region's emissions from those two key sources, found a 13.4 percent increase. Nationally, those emissions from grew by 5.6 percent in the same period.
For more than a decade, policymakers have debated, studied and scoped out a high-speed rail line that would whisk travelers between downtown Los Angeles and San Francisco in 2 1/2 hours. But, this year, the $40-billion dream of building a Japanese- or European-style bullet train through the Central Valley may find itself stopped in its tracks. Even as state lawmakers visited France earlier this month for a glimpse of a passenger train as it set a world rail speed record of 357 mph, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was applying the brakes to California's plan for a high-speed system. (So much for serious progress...)
The weather that now bears very directly on the Montana economy has been, as one of our University of Montana climate scientists, Steve Running, puts it, “a slow-motion crisis” that began in the 1980s. That’s the decade when ocean temperatures off Victoria, British Columbia, which determine downwind climates in Montana, began to turn upward. And it’s the decade that saw the conflagrations in Yellowstone National Park transform into a pattern of “monster wildfires” every two to three years rather than every 20 or 30 years. (surely California auto emmissions couldn't be contributing to Montana's environmental mess?)
"Rapid climate change is actually now driving the evolution of animals -- that is a dramatic event," said Christina M. Holzapfel, who, with her husband, William E. Bradshaw, has documented genetic changes in hundreds of thousands of mosquitoes at their University of Oregon lab in Eugene. The couple, both evolutionary geneticists, began collecting the mosquitoes at the bog here and in other New England locations more than 30 years ago while at Harvard University. Until now, the effects of climate warming had been most noticeable in the Arctic, as glaciers melt. But dramatic changes are also being seen in northern temperate zones such as New England, where the average winter temperature has risen 4.4 degrees Fahrenheit over the last 30 years. Growing seasons have lengthened, winter is arriving later, and the weather has become more erratic. http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/04/29/in_mosquito_a_small_tale_of_climate_change/