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.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Monday Morning, Again No Africa News...

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

The latest Texas era in Washington — the last for a while, some say — is grinding toward its last roundup, its final rodeo, the last stampede or any cliché you prefer about a state where even the clichés are bigger. The big-time Texans in Congress (think Tom DeLay, Dick Armey) are gone. And soon (CAN WE REALLY AFFORD TO WAIT THAT LONG?) President Bush will be just another retired Texan with a ranch and a Dallas home. So the time approaches to gauge the impact of the Connecticut-born Texas president (son of a Massachusetts-born Texas president) on the image of his beloved home state and its residents. Not good, says Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson. "He has fed into that sort of image of Texas as shooting from the hip and proceeding on the basis of your own sense rather than consulting more broadly and looking for common ground," Jillson said. "A lot of people think of that overconfidence, bordering on arrogance, (Bush crossed that border LONG AGO) ask-questions-later kind of view that has characterized George W. Bush, if not all Texans."

Cheney, Rice continue good-cop, bad-cop routine;
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday the United States decided to hold talks with Iran about security in wartorn Iraq because officials believed the timing was right. (how abgout five years late?) "We've had that channel (for talks) for some time, and it seemed like a good time to activate it," Rice told reporters accompanying her here for talks with Russian officials. She said the idea of the talks came from talks with Iraq's neighboring countries in the region, (and what of all the bloggers advising this for years?) saying "we all made a commitment there to do what we can to help the Iraqis."
"And one of the most important things is to help the Iraqis is dealing with their border issues, with the flow of foreign fighters and arms across the border," Rice added, "and from our point of view and the coalition's point of view, dealing with the dangerous technologies that are originating in Iran that are putting our soldiers at risk. So this seemed to be a good time to follow up on some of the general commitments that the neighbors took." The announcement that the United States and Iran would hold the talks represented a historic political turnabout for the two countries with the most influence over Iraq's future. Expectations of progress remain low, however, with tough issues at stake and mutual suspicions running high. Even as it announced the talks, Iran lashed out at Vice President Dick Cheney's weekend warnings about its nuclear program, saying it would retaliate if the U.S. attacked it.

Cheney visited Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt in a bid to get moderate Arab states to do more to support the fragile government of Iraq and to promote reconciliation among rival factions. (YEAH, RIGHT, RECONCILIATION DOESN'T MAKE FOR EFFICIENT WAR PROFITEERING...) He also sounded out (threatened) the governments on increasing Iranian influence in the region and took a hardline stance against Iran's nuclear ambitions and efforts to dominate the Gulf region. The vice president's tour appeared to have mixed results, and on some stops he found an eagerness to talk as much about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process as the situation in Iraq. (What Condi does, Cheney undoes, and it all seems quite deliberate and well orchestrated.)

The insurgent coalition that includes al-Qaeda in Iraq asserted responsibility on Sunday for the ambush south of Baghdad that left four U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter dead and three other American soldiers missing. A brief statement purporting to be from the Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella organization that includes al-Qaeda in Iraq, appeared on insurgent Web sites a day after the fiery attack in the rural terrain near Mahmudiyah. The statement praised the insurgents for their "blessed operation" involving a "clash with a convoy of crusaders in Mahmudiyah," but offered few details and no evidence, such as photographs or video, to verify the claims.

The US military surge in Iraq, designed to turn around the course of the war, appears to be failing as senior US officers admit they need yet more troops and new figures show a sharp increase in the victims of death squads in Baghdad. In the first 11 days of this month, there have already been 234 bodies - men murdered by death squads - dumped around the capital, a dramatic rise from the 137 found in the same period of April. Improving security in Baghdad and reducing death-squad activity was described as one of the key aims of the US surge of 25,000 additional troops, the final units of whom are due to arrive next month.

...which brings us to the blog quote of the day, thanx once again to Scarecrow at Fire Dog Lake;
"John McCain tried to argue to Tim Russert (h/t to Crooks and Liars) that what the Iraqis want doesn’t matter. And for McCain, their views don’t matter, since he assumes he knows what’s good for the Iraqi and American publics better than they do. But will he say that to the Generals in the Pentagon? We’ll see. If by September, American casualties are still running high, the American and Iraqi legislatures have voted to end the occupation, and the Generals agree, the only people left to help McCain’s son and the British heir continue the US occupation of Iraq will be the children of Georgy Bush, Dick Cheney, Joe Lieberman, and Mitt Romney. That should settle the matter fairly quickly. (in a New York minute)

Pakistan/Afghanistan conflict awakening?

Clashes between government supporters and opposition activists flared for a second day Sunday in the country's largest city, bringing the weekend death toll to about 40. The clashes in the southern city of Karachi were prompted by a judicial crisis that has gripped the country since March 9, when the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, suspended Pakistan's chief justice for alleged abuses of office. Since then, protesters have frequently taken to the streets to rally against what they see as an attempt by Musharraf to snuff out fledgling democratic institutions and ease his way to another term. In unrelated violence (no such thing, it is all related somewhere) Sunday, Pakistani and Afghan military forces exchanged mortar and small-arms fire as tensions along the 1,500-mile border increased. A Pakistani military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad, accused Afghan forces of "unprovoked firing" and said half a dozen Afghan soldiers had been killed. Afghan military officials denied that, but said two Afghan civilians had been killed. Pakistan has been seeking to erect a fence along its border with Afghanistan, a move that has rankled Afghans.

A day after political clashes claimed 39 lives in Karachi, analysts said the violence — and accusations that the government had done little to stop the killings — had put renewed pressure on the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. News reports said government troops had been in the southern port city, but had not taken action to separate armed pro-government and opposition groups who were shooting at each other. Dawn, an English-language newspaper in Karachi, said troops had “suddenly disappeared from the troubled spots.” The government has not responded to those claims.

The man who probably was the Taliban’s foremost operational commander, Mullah Dadullah, was killed in a joint operation by Afghan security forces, American forces and NATO troops in Helmand Province, Governor Asadullah Khaled of the neighboring Kandahar Province said Sunday. His death would cause a “significant blow to the Taliban’s command and control,” said Maj. Chris Belcher, an American military spokesman at Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul, the capital. He added that Mullah Dadullah “was a military leader, primarily in charge of the effort to recapture the city of Kandahar,” once the Taliban’s stronghold.

It all begins to unravel; spider Karl's web is full of holes.
The committee empowered its Democratic chairman, in consultation with its top Republican, to issue subpoenas for D. Kyle Sampson, Gonzales's former chief of staff; Michael J. Elston, chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty; Monica Goodling, the Justice Department's White House liaison; William W. Mercer, a nominee to become associate attorney general; and Michael A. Battle, who directed the office overseeing the nation's 93 U.S. attorneys and carried out the firings. The committee also authorized subpoenas for six of the eight fired U.S. attorneys: Carol S. Lam of San Diego, Bud Cummins of Little Rock, Paul K. Charlton of Phoenix, John McKay of Seattle, Daniel G. Bogden of Las Vegas and David C. Iglesias of Albuquerque. All six testified under oath last week before the House Judiciary Committee. The other two fired U.S. attorneys, who were not included in today's subpoena authorization, are Margaret Chiara of Grand Rapids, Mich., and Kevin V. Ryan of San Francisco.
This list would be complete if, Biskupic, Griffin, Shlozman, and Palouse were all somewhere in the lineup. And what do they all have in common? They are all still "in the loop." And they might represent just the tip of a much deeper and constantly unfolding RNC/WH/DOJ/FedSoc conspiracy (not necessarily in that order).

Leahy's hot on the right trail now...
"We need to close the (clandestinely added) loophole exploited by the Department of Justice and the White House that enabled this abuse to occur," Leahy said. Documents turned over to the committee this week by Justice and the White House show that officials there "chose to exploit this authority to make an end run around the Senate," he said. "It is time to roll back the change in law." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/15/AR2007031500213_2.html
(and then write another law that absolutely prohibits future such midnight insertions. In a democratic republic, it should be a felony just like counterfeiting, because it creates counterfit laws.)

Kerry's closing in, too
Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) called on Bush to make Rove and Miers available to the Judiciary Committee. "We know Karl Rove has been at the helm of the most blatantly political White House agenda in years," Kerry said. Bush "should tell Rove to willingly answer any and all questions, as part of this investigation into the purge of prosecutors who didn't toe the Republican Party line," he said. "The integrity of our U.S. Attorney system is critical to the confidence in our legal system. The president must move quickly to stop the bleeding and restore public trust."

Nearly half the U.S. attorneys slated for removal by the administration last year were targets of Republican complaints that they were lax on voter fraud, including efforts by presidential adviser Karl Rove to encourage more prosecutions of election- law violations, according to new documents and interviews. Of the 12 U.S. attorneys known to have been dismissed or considered for removal last year, five were identified by Rove or other administration officials as working in districts that were trouble spots for voter fraud -- Kansas City, Mo.; Milwaukee; New Mexico; Nevada; and Washington state. Four of the five prosecutors in those districts were dismissed.

The White House told a Republican member of Congress last summer about its plans to fire a U.S. attorney in Arkansas and replace him with a former aide to presidential adviser Karl Rove, but it did not tell Democratic lawmakers, according to a new Justice Department e-mail released yesterday. The White House called Rep. John Boozman (R-Ark.) "and pretty much told him what they are doing with this appointment and how they are going about it," according to a July 6 e-mail from Bud Cummins, then the U.S. attorney in Little Rock. The message indicates that Bush administration officials told Boozman about their plans to fire Cummins at the same time that Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and other Democrats say they were being stonewalled. Pryor has accused Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and other Justice officials of lying to him about the firing of Cummins, who was replaced by Tim Griffin, a former Rove aide and an opposition researcher at the Republican National Committee.

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. The honors program, established during the Eisenhower administration, is (was) a highly regarded recruiting program that attracts thousands of applicants from top-flight law schools for about 150 spots each year and has been overseen for most of its history by senior career lawyers at Justice. Then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft reworked the program in 2002, shifting control from career employees to himself and his (Regent U. evangelical) aides.(Ashcroft currently teaches at Regent) The changes alarmed many current and former Justice officials, who feared (quite accurtely) that the Bush administration was seeking to pack the department with conservative ideologues. Many law school placement officers said in 2003 that they noticed a marked shift to the right in the students approached for honors program interviews.

If the World Bank were a company, its share price would have fallen 25 percent amid the current leadership scandal. The board of directors wouldn't care about the scandal's details; it would have replaced the beleaguered CEO with someone who could lead effectively. Justice for the boss would matter less than restoring the company to good health. After all, the company has thousands of customers, shareholders and employees. The boss is just one person, and he can find another job. The World Bank's customers are the poor; and their interests ought to trump the hair-splitting over whether the bank's president, Paul Wolfowitz, overpaid his girlfriend. What matters is that Wolfowitz has lost the confidence of the bank's shareholders, borrowers and staff -- including the support of those who initially welcomed him despite his (DISMAL) record on Iraq. He has brought about a collapse in the World Bank's external prestige and internal morale, and he should go quickly. The endgame may come this week, at a meeting of the World Bank's board on Wednesday. If Wolfowitz manages to hold on to his job, it will reveal the hypocrisy of the governments to which the bank's board answers. The Bush administration and its allies, notably the British government of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, have gone to the microphones repeatedly to proclaim their support for development. Now that the world's premier development organization is in shambles, these leaders have a responsibility to replace the man who caused it.

The explosion in the use of three anti-anemia drugs to treat cancer and kidney patients illustrates much that is wrong in the American pharmaceutical marketplace. Thanks to big payoffs to doctors, (PRONOUNCE THAT "HYPOCRITIC OATH") and reckless promotional ads permitted by lax regulators, the drugs have reached blockbuster status. Now we learn that the dosage levels routinely injected or given intravenously in doctors’ offices and dialysis centers may be harmful to patients.

More than 200 chemicals — many found in urban air and everyday consumer products — cause breast cancer in animal tests, according to a compilation of scientific reports published today. Writing in a publication of the American Cancer Society, researchers concluded that reducing exposure to the compounds could prevent many women from developing the disease. (Don't expect any help from Monsanto OR Dow Chemical or Republicans or the DLC) The research team from five institutions analyzed a growing body of evidence linking environmental contaminants to breast cancer, the leading killer of U.S. women in their late 30s to early 50s. Experts say that family history and genes are responsible for a small percentage of breast cancer cases but that environmental or lifestyle factors such as diet are probably involved in the vast majority.

Congress’s last effort to craft a decent energy strategy, in 2005, was largely disappointing. But at the risk of getting our hopes up once again, we call attention to two promising bills making their way to the Senate floor. Stapled together, they could make a constructive start toward reducing this country’s dependence on oil imports and its emissions of greenhouse gases. The first...seeks to reduce oil consumption by quintupling the production of biofuels — principally ethanol from sources other than corn — by 2022. It would mandate stronger efficiency standards for energy-intensive household appliances, including lighting fixtures and refrigerators. And, perhaps most important, it would try to bring to commercial scale the government’s nascent efforts to build coal-fired power plants capable of capturing and storing emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. Coal will remain the world’s most plentiful fuel, and unless some way is found to neutralize its emissions, the battle to stabilize emissions is almost certainly lost. The other important bill, known as the Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Act, was approved last week and is mainly the handiwork of Senator Dianne Feinstein of California. It would raise the fuel economy standard for passenger cars from 25 to 35 miles per gallon over the next 10 years, and — for the first time — would require steady improvements in fuel efficiency for medium and heavy-duty trucks. The debate over fuel economy has been deadlocked for three decades, and approval of this bill would represent a major breakthrough.

A Depression-era program to bring electricity to rural areas is using taxpayer money to provide billions of dollars in low-interest loans to build coal plants even as Congress seeks ways to limit greenhouse gas emissions. That government support is a major force behind the rush to coal plants, which spew carbon dioxide that scientists blame for global warming. The beneficiaries of the government's largesse -- the nation's rural electric cooperatives -- plan to spend $35 billion to build conventional coal plants over the next 10 years, enough to offset all state and federal efforts to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions over that time. (...time for the right hand to let the left hand know what it is up to?)

Too many in the Bush administration operate on the idea that policy should shape science. A recent example comes from the Department of the Interior, where a deputy assistant secretary resigned. An inspector general found Julie MacDonald, who was involved with Northwest issues, had bullied scientists. At a U.S. House Natural Resources Committee hearing last week, Chairman Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., said Interior seems to be focused on weakening endangered species protections "by administrative fiat." Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., said another Interior official, Lynn Scarlett, also should consider resigning, over the rewriting of spotted owl protection plans. Inslee believes Secretary Dirk Kempthorne would find a good replacement.

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