Just read between the lines...

Red Text is the real story hiding between the lines.
Violet Text is a notable quote from a specific blogger.
Blue Text is my own personal commentary.
Gold Text is a link to the original sources.

One word of advice I would offer to everyone who reads this blog;

....Each and every day, take just a moment of your precious time to pray for Peace and Justice.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Thursday's Morning News

Red text is the"real" headline buried in the news.
Blue text is my own commentary.
Violet text is the blog quote of the day.

Ethiopian forces backing Somalia's weak transitional government shelled anti-government insurgents in the capital for the fifth straight day on Monday, adding to the death and destruction and sending hundreds more families fleeing from the city. Human rights organizations and health officials said 220 civilians were confirmed dead and 300 have been wounded since Thursday. The shelling has been so intense that families have been unable to bring the wounded to hospitals or to collect those who died. In some parts of the city, decomposing corpses litter the streets. Entire city blocks have been emptied in the fighting, as more than 320,000 people have fled Mogadishu since February.
................ AND TV NEWS REPORT IN THE WORLD???
................OIL COMPANIES!!!!)

Federal regulators have concluded that Hollywood's efforts to shield children from violent TV shows have failed and that Congress should authorize government action. The Federal Communications Commission report, released Wednesday, promises to kick off a fierce fight on Capitol Hill and the presidential campaign trail, one that, like the ongoing battle over indecency, could well end up in the Supreme Court. Citing university and government studies, the FCC concluded that violent programming was harmful to children and said Congress could craft limits that wouldn't violate 1st Amendment rights. Specifically, the report said, lawmakers have the authority to give the FCC the power to restrict when broadcasters can air excessive gore and mayhem. What's more, the FCC determined, Congress can require cable and satellite providers to allow viewers to purchase only the channels they want, (NOW WOULDN'T THAT BE A REFRESHING CHANGE!) giving them the chance to opt out of certain kinds of programming.

The tempestuous, sometimes bitter seven-year relationship between the Chandlers of Los Angeles and the Tribune Co. of Chicago is coming to an end. Yesterday, Tribune announced a tender offer of $34 per share for 126 million shares -- about half of the company's outstanding stock -- at a total cost of $4.3 billion. The price represents a slight premium on Tribune shares, which closed yesterday at $32.78, up 23 cents. The tender offer would allow the Chandler Trusts -- Tribune's largest shareholders and most publicly contentious -- to cash out their $1.6 billion stake in the media empire. Tribune agreed this month to sell the company to Chicago real estate magnate Sam Zell in a $13 billion, debt-laden deal. Zell plans to take the company private via an employee stock-ownership plan (the Unions could really help this good idea along by taking a strong role) that would buy back most of the company's outstanding shares.

Baseball is contemplating a strategy for teams to sign Cuban players in an effort to create an orderly system for acquiring talent from the island, according to three baseball officials and a scholar who was briefed on the plans. “There may not be any significant changes with our relationship with Cuba in the near term, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think about these things,” Joe Garagiola Jr., the senior vice president for baseball operations, said in a telephone interview. “We are thinking about them, and that is probably the extent of what we can say at this point.” Garagiola, a former general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, is coordinating baseball’s discussions on Cuba. Baseball is also considering moving a minor league team to Cuba and building training academies similar to those that nearly all teams have in the Dominican Republic, according to a report earlier this month by Fortune magazine. (leave it to the boys of summer to do our diplomacy for us, maybe they'll get it right...)

A small federal agency that safeguards government employees from political coercion is investigating the activities of President Bush's chief political strategist, Karl Rove. The head of the Office of Special Counsel, Scott Bloch, says that his wide-ranging investigation covers allegations of political pressure on federal workers and the reason behind the controversial firing of the U.S. federal prosecutor in New Mexico, David Iglesias. Reports say the investigation began after several employees complained that members of Rove's team were pressuring them to support Republican candidates in key House and Senate races in 2008. The office also will examine alleged use of White House e-mail by the Republican National Party. The probe is meant to determine whether the Bush administration had improper influence over government employees' political decision-making. Bloch, who was appointed by President Bush to the post in 2003, promised his office will do a thorough and impartial job.

"Lawyers for the Republican National Committee sent a letter tonight to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) with a list of 37 individuals “who we believe are or were White House employees using RNC accounts for whom we have been able to identify active e-mail data on operational RNC servers.” The list — which includes senior officials like Karl Rove and Dan Bartlett as well as interns for the Office of Political Affairs — can be found at... (ThinkProgress).

White House officials conducted 20 private briefings on Republican electoral prospects in the last midterm election for senior officials in at least 15 government agencies covered by federal restrictions on partisan political activity, a White House spokesman and other administration officials said yesterday. The previously undisclosed briefings were part of what now appears to be a regular effort in which the White House sent senior political officials to brief top appointees in government agencies on which seats Republican candidates might win or lose, and how the election outcomes could affect the success of administration policies, the officials said. The existence of one such briefing, at the headquarters of the General Services Administration in January, came to light last month, and the Office of Special Counsel began an investigation into whether the officials at the briefing felt coerced into steering federal activities to favor those Republican candidates cited as vulnerable. Such coercion is prohibited under a federal law, known as the Hatch Act, meant to insulate virtually all federal workers from partisan politics. In addition to forbidding workplace pressures meant to influence an election outcome, the law bars the use of federal resources -- including office buildings, phones and computers -- for partisan purposes.In the GSA briefing -- conducted like all the others by a deputy to chief White House political adviser Karl Rove -- two slides were presented showing 20 House Democrats targeted for defeat and several dozen vulnerable Republicans. At its completion, GSA Administrator Lurita Alexis Doan asked how GSA projects could be used to help "our candidates," according to half a dozen witnesses. The briefer, J. Scott Jennings, said that topic should be discussed "off-line," the witnesses said. Doan then replied, "Oh, good, at least as long as we are going to follow up," ... (surely there's some "follow-up" testimony we might require from Ms. Doan?)

Which brings us to the Blog Quote of the Day,
from Josh Marshall at TPM
"It's hard to get too surprised about this stuff anymore. But according to the Post, (see article above) Karl Rove deputies gave GOP campaign briefings to top officials in at least 15 government agencies last year. Who's vulnerable, who's not and how you can use your agency's resources for the team effort -- that seems to have been the basic idea. Pretty much every department got a briefing. And oddly enough NASA too. That must have been an interesting one."

Defiant and unified in the face of a promised presidential veto, House Democrats on Wednesday pushed through an emergency war spending bill that orders President Bush to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq no later than this fall.The 218-208 vote, largely along party lines, is expected to be followed today by Senate approval of the same measure. The president has promised to veto the legislation early next week. The $124-billion measure funds the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through the end of the year, and provides billions for veterans' health care and other nonmilitary programs.

If President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney believe the belligerently partisan and misleading things they have been saying about Congress’s war spending bill, their grip on the few options left in this disastrous war is even more tenuous than we’d guessed. The sooner Mr. Bush and his allies drop the pretense that military victory is still possible in Iraq and their charges of “defeatism” against those who know better, the closer the nation will be to rescuing what can still be rescued from the debacle. Obviously, the White House and Congress will eventually have to arrive at some kind of compromise. But that compromise cannot be on the “my way or the highway” terms Mr. Bush is demanding. The fact is, Congress has served the country well by finally forcing open debate about how America can best extricate itself from Iraq... (open debate is what we are all about)

A new human rights report by the United Nations mission in Iraq described high levels of ongoing violence, an unfair and potentially abusive detainee system and a country suffering a "breakdown in law and order." (does that mean "the surge" is working?) The report upset the U.S. Embassy here, which characterized it as inaccurate and not credible. The 30-page report by the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq, an appraisal of human rights conditions from January through March, said the Iraqi government is up against "immense security challenges in the face of growing violence and armed opposition to its authority and the rapidly worsening humanitarian crisis." For the first time, the United Nations did not include civilian death tolls, statistics that are usually provided to it by the Health Ministry and the Medico-Legal Institute in Baghdad. The data have become a key gauge of the level of violence in Iraq. In the last report, the United Nations said 34,452 Iraqi civilians had died violently in 2006, a number that the Iraqi government later said was exaggerated. The report said the Iraqi government told the United Nations "that it had decided against providing the data, although no substantive explanation or justification was provided." (how about "the truth hurts")

Congressman Rick Renzi, an Arizona Republican, was locked in a close re-election battle last fall when the local United States attorney, Paul Charlton, was investigating him for corruption. The investigation appears to have been slowed before Election Day, Mr. Renzi retained his seat, and Mr. Charlton ended up out of a job — one of eight prosecutors purged by the White House and the Justice Department. The Arizona case adds a disturbing new chapter to that scandal. Congress needs to determine whether Mr. Charlton was fired for any reason other than threatening the Republican Party’s hold on a Congressional seat. Mr. Renzi was fighting for his political life when the local press reported that he was facing indictment for a suspect land deal. According to The Wall Street Journal, federal investigators met unexpected resistance from the Justice Department in getting approval to proceed and, perhaps as a result, the investigation was pushed past the election. Mr. Renzi’s top aide, Brian Murray, admitted this week that when reports surfaced that his boss was being investigated, he had called Mr. Charlton’s office asking for information. Mr. Charlton’s office did the right thing, according to Mr. Murray’s account: it refused to comment. Weeks later, Mr. Charlton was fired. (it doesn't take a sleuth to see what happened here, what more proof do they need than history itself?)

Lawmakers approved new subpoenas yesterday for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other Bush administration officials, part of an expanding legal battle between the Democratic-controlled Congress and the administration over issues such as the firings of eight U.S. attorneys and flawed justifications for the war in Iraq. The subpoena issued to Rice seeks to force her testimony about the claim that Iraq sought to import uranium from Niger for its nuclear weapons program. President Bush offered that as a key rationale for the war in his 2003 State of the Union address. The subpoena was approved by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee along party lines, 21 to 10. The same panel also issued two subpoenas to the Republican National Committee for testimony and documents related to political presentations at the General Services Administration and the use of RNC e-mail accounts by White House aides, including presidential adviser Karl Rove. The House Judiciary Committee voted 32 to 6 to grant limited immunity from prosecution to Monica M. Goodling, the former senior counselor and White House liaison for Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. She has invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in refusing to answer questions about her role in the prosecutor firings. The panel also authorized, but did not issue, a subpoena that would compel her to testify. And finally in the Senate, the Judiciary Committee authorized a subpoena for Rove deputy Sara Taylor, whose name has appeared among thousands of pages of e-mails and other documents released by the Justice Department in the U.S. attorney firings.

IN 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency took its first important step toward reducing mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants. Its Clear Air Mercury Rule is intended to bring about a 70 percent reduction in mercury emissions over the next 20 years. But the new rule does not require all plants to reduce emissions by the same amount. Some may be allowed to pollute more than others by buying pollution credits from other plants. The E.P.A.’s faith in this “cap and trade” approach is based on the assumption that mercury pollution disperses evenly in the environment. This strategy has worked well in reducing emissions of sulfur dioxide, a component of acid rain. But mercury does not behave in the same way as acid rain. In fact, much of the mercury emitted by coal-fired power plants remains near those plants. In a just completed 10-year study of birds, fish and mammals in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada, we found five places where fish and wildlife have exceptionally high concentrations of mercury in their blood. Under the E.P.A.’s new rule, these biological mercury “hot spots” could persist, with dangerous consequences for the health of people and wildlife. (So, do we trust the scientists or Chenergy's industrial strength book cookers?)http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/26/opinion/26evers.html?th&emc=th

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