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.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Red text is the "real" headline in these stories and articles.
Blue text is my own personal commentary.
Violet text is the blog quote of the day.

AT THE END of last year, a slender opportunity opened to stabilize Somalia, a failed state in the Horn of Africa that has become a haven for members of al-Qaeda and for other Islamic extremists. With the assistance of U.S. Special Forces, troops from neighboring Ethiopia launched an offensive that overturned the Taliban-style Islamist government that had controlled the capital, Mogadishu, and much of the southern half of the country. A transitional government backed by the United Nations took over, while diplomats scrambled to arrange for an African peacekeeping force to replace the Ethiopians. Many of the extremists scattered; some were reportedly killed in U.S. airstrikes while others were captured at the Kenyan border. Three months later, the opportunity may have been lost. Heavy fighting erupted in Mogadishu late last month, with regrouped Islamists and their allies arrayed against Ethiopian forces, which have failed to withdraw. Hundreds were killed and thousands were added to the approximately 100,000 refugees from Mogadishu recorded by the United Nations since the beginning of the year. The al-Qaeda leader in Somalia is reportedly back in Mogadishu, as is one of the senior commanders of the former Islamic government. Only 1,200 of the 8,000 planned peacekeepers have arrived, and they are dedicated mostly to guarding the airport and seaport. Once again, anarchy threatens to overtake a country that has not had a stable government since 1991. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/09/AR2007040901103.html?referrer=email

Public approval for Congress is at its highest level in a year as Democrats mark 100 days in power and step up their confrontation with President Bush over his handling of the Iraq War, the issue that overshadows all others. Yet for all their eagerness to challenge Bush, congressional Democrats so far have failed to attract significant support among independents, a group that helped propel them to power in last fall's elections and now appears more strongly opposed to the war than the general public.

There will be more sunshine on political groups that try to persuade Iowans to vote yes or no on ballot issues such school bonds or a one-cent sales tax.Instead of filing just one disclosure report a year, political committees who do activities such as advertisements, yard signs or pamphlets that expressly advocate for a public measure will now have to file as many as five reports revealing who their contributors are and where they spent their money.The ballot issue campaigns have become increasingly sophisticated and expensive, officials said. Senate File 351 was approved today by the Iowa House; it previously passed the Iowa Senate. It now goes to the governor for his signature.

It's no secret that the period of time between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq represents one of the greatest collapses in the history of the American media. Every branch of the media failed, from daily newspapers, magazines and Web sites to television networks, cable channels and radio. I'm not going to go into chapter and verse about the media's specific failures, its credulousness about aluminum tubes and mushroom clouds and failure to make clear that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11 -- they're too well known to repeat. In any case, the real failing was not in any one area; it was across the board. Bush administration lies and distortions went unchallenged, or were actively promoted. Fundamental and problematic assumptions about terrorism and the "war on terror" were rarely debated or even discussed. Vital historical context was almost never provided. And it wasn't just a failure of analysis. With some honorable exceptions, good old-fashioned reporting was also absent. But perhaps the press's most notable failure was its inability to determine just why this disastrous war was ever launched.

Seven candidates for the 2008 Democratic Party nomination will take part tonight in a live "virtual town hall" forum about the Iraq war, in what is being billed as the largest and most ambitious experiment yet in harnessing the power of Internet technology to reshape participatory democracy. http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2007/04/10/campaigning_gets_a_new_web_version/

IN ELEMENTARY school, recess is a time for fun and games. The same is true, unfortunately, in the nation's capital. President Bush last week took advantage of a Senate recess to appoint three controversial figures to positions — including a major ambassadorship — that ordinarily require confirmation. In the spirit of the playground, Vice President Dick Cheney yukked it up with talk show host Rush Limbaugh about how the administration had gone around the Democratic-controlled Senate, which returned this week. "You go on vacation, this is what happens to you," joked Limbaugh. "If you're a Democrat," Cheney replied. (laugh while you can, Monkey-Boys) http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-recess10apr10,0,3578392.story?track=ntothtml

In the summer of 1974, Richard Nixon bet his presidency on the doctrine of executive privilege, and lost. Nixon’s lawyer, James St. Clair, argued to the Supreme Court that he did not have to give a special prosecutor the Watergate tape recordings of Nixon talking with various advisers. But in the oral argument, the justices were skeptical. Lewis Powell, the courtly Virginian, asked: “Mr. St. Clair, what public interest is there in preserving secrecy with respect to a criminal conspiracy?” Justice Powell’s question cut through Nixon’s central claim: that executive privilege gives presidents an absolute right to keep their communications secret. Barely two weeks after the oral argument, the court unanimously ordered Nixon to turn over the tapes.
Three decades later, the Bush administration is threatening to invoke executive privilege to hobble Congress’s investigation into the purge of United States attorneys. President Bush has said that Karl Rove, his closest adviser, and Harriet Miers, his former White House counsel, among others, do not have to comply with Congressional subpoenas because “the president relies upon his staff to give him candid advice.” This may well end up in a constitutional showdown. If it does, there is no question about which side should prevail. Congress has a right, and an obligation, to examine all of the evidence, which increasingly suggests that the Bush administration fired eight or more federal prosecutors either because they were investigating Republicans, or refusing to bring baseless charges against Democrats.

The Bush administration and the Defense Department are among the winners of the 2007 Jefferson Muzzle awards, given Tuesday by a free-speech group to those it considers the most egregious First Amendment violators in the past year. The Bush administration appears on the list, compiled by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, for its efforts to discourage, modify and sometimes censor government scientists' reports and studies to be more in line with the administration's political policies, notably on global warming, the center said. http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/1110AP_Muzzle_Awards.html

A federal appeals court last week slapped down a controversial fraud conviction with a swift, blunt decisiveness almost never seen in the legal system. The ruling struck a blow to the credibility of the Milwaukee-based federal prosecutor who brought the case, and to other investigations related to campaign fundraising by Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, said former prosecutors and other legal experts. The investigations have not led to any charges against Doyle or his aides. The federal prosecutor, who was appointed by President Bush, and the state attorney general, a Republican, say they are continuing their probes. But the appeals court has sent a very clear message that prosecutors will need to bring much stronger cases if they expect charges to stick, experts said. A federal spokeswoman acknowledged that the appeals court's forthcoming written decision may affect the handling of the other investigations. The three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago on Thursday overturned a jury's conviction of state purchasing agent Georgia Thompson on charges that she illegally steered a state travel contract to a company whose officials donated to Doyle. Former U.S. Attorney Frank Tuerkheimer said the case stood alone in his more than four decades in criminal law. The ruling was highly unusual, the UW-Madison law professor said, both for the way the judges ordered Thompson released from a federal prison and for the speed with which they did it. "I can't think of any case where an appellate court after hearing oral arguments ordered the release of a person who's confined" the same day, said Tuerkheimer, who was a U.S. attorney under Democratic President Carter. A written decision, which will explain the judges' reasoning, has not yet been issued, but their statements during Thursday's hearing suggest they felt the case against Thompson was threadbare at best. http://www.madison.com/wsj/home/local/index.php?ntid=128460&ntpid=2

Following the rules of succession at the Justice Department, according to the letter from Assistant Attorney General Richard Hertling, the guy in charge of all that is Solicitor General Paul Clement. So who is Clement? Since 2005, as Solicitor General, he's been the administration's face before the Supreme Court. Legal Times profiled him earlier this year. Can you guess which Supreme Court justice he used to work for?

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, indicating they think there is more to learn about the firings of eight federal prosecutors last year, asked Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales on Monday to turn over additional documents on the terminations and threatened to issue subpoenas if the materials were not forthcoming.Specifically, the four senators want the internal rankings that the Justice Department made of all 93 U.S. attorneys over the years, as well as employment charts that Monica M. Goodling, a top aide to Gonzales, provided to Justice officials as they decided which prosecutors to fire. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-usattys10apr10,0,6662017.story?track=ntothtml

A half-dozen sitting U.S. attorneys also serve as aides to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales or are assigned other Washington postings, performing tasks that take them away from regular duties in their districts for months or even years at a time, according to officials and department records. Acting Associate Attorney General William W. Mercer, for example, has been effectively absent from his job as U.S. attorney in Montana for nearly two years -- prompting the chief federal judge in Billings to demand his removal and call Mercer's office "a mess."

BLOG QUOTE OF THE DAY From Larry Johnson's blog, "No Quarter"
"In fact, if imitation is the most sincere type of flattery, then we clearly have a thing for 'Baghdad Bob.' My God! General Caldwell and John McCain are emulating his crazy pronouncements. Even today McCain continues to insist that the media is steering the American people wrong when it comes to assessing progress in Iraq. Bob blamed Al-Jazeera and so does McCain and Bush and Cheney. Sound familiar? Insisting that things are improving and life returning to normal? If you call 20,000+ people marching in the streets, burning our flag, and calling for U.S. troops to leave Iraq "normal," then yes, things are returning to normal. How much more normal can we endure?" http://noquarter.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/04/colonel_boylan_.html#more

A woman with explosives hidden beneath her black abaya detonated them Tuesday in a crowd of about 200 police recruits northeast of Baghdad, killing at least 16 people, police and hospital officials said. The woman walked into the crowd at the main gate of the Muqdadiyah police station and blew herself up, according to a police officer at the scene who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. At least 16 people were killed and 33 wounded in the mostly Sunni Muslim city about 60 miles northeast of Baghdad, said Dr. Abdul Salam al-Jibour at Muqdadiyah General Hospital. Meanwhile, U.S. and Iraqi army forces were engaged in fierce fighting with gunmen in two Sunni-dominated neighborhoods of the capital, Fadhil and Sheik Omar, police and witnesses said.

The Pentagon will send four National Guard brigades to Iraq and may extend the tours of five active-duty Army brigades by as much as four months as it strains to find troops to sustain the buildup in Baghdad through the end of the year.http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-guard10apr10,0,7610558.story?track=ntothtml

Torching American flags and demanding that U.S. troops leave Iraq, followers of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr gathered by the thousands Monday for a protest that marked the fourth anniversary of Saddam Hussein's fall from power. Shiite Muslims flocked to the shrine city of Najaf in a peaceful show of solidarity with Sadr, whose grass-roots movement has been squeezed by U.S. and Iraqi forces since the start of the Baghdad security plan two months ago. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-protest10apr10,0,4056731.story?track=ntothtml

The Taliban on Monday threatened to kill four Afghan medical personnel and their driver unless the government releases two Taliban commanders, seeking a deal similar to the swap that won an Italian journalist's freedom last month. The threat came a day after the hard-line militia beheaded Ajmal Naqshbandi, an Afghan interpreter seized March 5 along with journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo of the Rome-based La Repubblica newspaper. Authorities had refused an exchange to secure Naqshbandi's release, the Taliban said. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/09/AR2007040901044.html?referrer=email

Waxman wants Rice to answer questions about what she knew about the assertion that Iraq tried to buy uranium before the U.S. invasion, according to a letter the chairman sent Rice on Monday.The claims, which have since been proved false, were the basis for a now notorious line in President Bush’s State of the Union in 2003 address to justify the invasion of Iraq. That claim eventually led to the outing of Valerie Plame, a covert CIA agent, who has already testified before Waxman’s committee. (thanx to the Huffington Post for this link) http://www.politico.com/blogs/thecrypt/0407/Waxman_Still_Wants_Rice_To_Answer_Question_On_Niger_Uranium_Claims.html

AFTER 15 YEARS of reporting on the student-loan industry, I didn't think much could surprise me. But even I was shocked last week when I discovered Securities and Exchange Commission documents revealing that financial aid directors at three prominent universities — as well as a senior official at the U.S. Education Department — each had significant personal investments in a private student-loan company When it came to power, the Bush administration — with its reverence for the private sector — rewarded loan industry officials and lobbyists with prominent positions throughout the Education Department. Meanwhile, lenders such as Sallie Mae have showered Republican congressional leaders with hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions each campaign cycle. "Know that I have all of you in my two trusted hands," Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), a top recipient of that campaign cash, once famously told a gathering of student-loan providers...

The founders of Student Loan Xpress had an explicit plan for corralling a bigger share of the lucrative student loan business: “market to the financial aid offices of schools.” the company says it is the eighth-largest player in student lending — and it found many ways to court university financial aid directors. It put them on a company advisory board, paid at least two as consultants and sold stock in the venture to others, investigators and university officials say. Yesterday aides to Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo of New York provided new details, saying financial aid officers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and Capella University, an online for-profit institution, had served as paid consultants to the lending company.

Officials in the Fish and Wildlife Service of the Interior Department appear to believe that the time has come to reclassify the Florida manatee to “threatened” from “endangered.” That “downlisting” would give the manatee — the vulnerable, slow-moving sea cow, which is an environmental icon in Florida — a lower level of protection from its principal enemies, including boats and developers. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/10/opinion/10tue3.html?th&emc=th

There's a growing interest in turning lawns and landscapes into pesticide-free, food-yielding gardens. More urban residents are seeing the potential for growing their own fruit and vegetables, but many don't know how to dig in."We've seen that growth (in gardening interest) and added so many more programs recently," said Kathy Dang, a teacher at Seattle Tilth, an organic gardening non-profit group founded in 1978. http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/310831_urbangarden09.html?source=mypi

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