Saturday, July 01, 2006

Drivel from Times-two

I only got three paragraphs into Baquet and Keller’s poppycock before I could read no more. When I stopped I thought, “What does this remind me of?”

And then it hit me, that old Irving Berlin song Sisters, sisters. (the lyrics follow the paragraphs excerpted from their editorial).
When do we publish a secret?
How the press balances national security with its mission to report the news.

By Dean Baquet and Bill Keller, DEAN BAQUET is editor of the Los Angeles Times. BILL KELLER is executive editor of the New York Times.

SINCE SEPT. 11, 2001, newspaper editors have faced excruciating choices in covering the government's efforts to protect the country from terrorist agents. Each of us has, on a number of occasions, withheld information because we were convinced that publishing it could put lives at risk. On other occasions, each of us has decided to publish classified information over strong objections from our government.

Last week, our newspapers disclosed a secret Bush administration program to monitor international banking transactions. We did so after appeals from senior administration officials to hold the story. Our reports — like earlier press disclosures of secret measures to combat terrorism — revived an emotional national debate, featuring angry calls of "treason" and proposals that journalists be jailed, along with much genuine concern and confusion about the role of the press in times like these.

We are rivals. Our newspapers compete on a hundred fronts every day. We apply the principles of journalism individually as editors of independent newspapers. We agree, however, on some basics about the immense responsibility the press has been given by the inventors of the country…

Sisters, sisters

There were never such devoted sisters,
Never had to have a chaperone, no sir,
I’m there to keep my eye on her
Caring, sharing
Every little thing that we are wearing
When a certain gentleman arrived from rome
She wore the dress, and I stayed home
All kinds of weather, we stick together
The same in the rain and sun
Two different faces, but in tight places
We think and we act as one
Those who’ve seen us
Know that not a thing could come between us
Many men have tried to split us up, but no one can
Lord help the mister who comes between me and my sister
And lord help the sister, who comes between me and my man

I can’t think of a better way to spend state and federal tax dollars
Police Seize Camera With Pitt-Jolie Photos

WESTFIELD, Mass. (AP) -- Police in this western Massachusetts town say they have seized a digital camera with images of celebrity couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in Africa for an investigation by Los Angeles authorities.

Local police, accompanied by state police and Secret Service officers, went to the Westfield home of William Keys on Tuesday to recover a digital camera's memory stick after three photos that appeared on the Internet were tracked to Keys, police said Friday.

Officers then went to Precision Camera and Video Repair in Enfield, Conn., where Keys works, and recovered the camera. It remains in custody of Westfield police.

No one has been arrested or charged in the case. It was unclear who took the photos.

Keys did not return telephone calls Friday.

"It's an ongoing investigation, and we cannot comment," said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County prosecutor's office.

Seems the culprit may be James Haven, an actor not necessarily known for deep thought.
"I'm so much more than just Angelina Jolie's brother. I'm also Jon Voight's son and Billy Bob Thorton's brother-in-law."



Pitt/Jolie Photo Theft Mystery Revealed
The investigation into the theft of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's baby shower pictures has centered on Jolie's brother, who took a broken camera containing the snaps to a repair shop.

Police targeted two suspects on Tuesday -- Bill Keyes and Adam Beckwith -- who had downloaded pictures of the Hollywood couple's Namibia party held ahead of the birth of their daughter Shiloh Nouvel last month.

However, it has emerged that, rather than stealing the camera's memory card, Keyes and Beckwith were given it by Jolie's brother James Haven.

Haven handed the faulty camera in for repairs in Los Angeles following his visit to the African party.

Neither Keyes nor Beckwith have been arrested yet, according to TMZ.com, but police have seized the camera and Keyes' computer.

I’m not a lawyer, but I would think someone’s expectation of privacy in this circumstance would be nil. Of course we’re talking LA LA Land police and prosecutors here; low-level, star-struck government employees aren’t necessarily guided by logic or the law. I’m mean we’re talking Brad and Angelina here, Folks.

NJ Assembly Democrats want to exclude ‘tax’ from tax and spend
Budget Impasse Shuts Down N.J. Government

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- Gov. Jon S. Corzine shut down the state government Saturday after a deadline to adopt a new balanced budget expired, bringing road construction projects to a halt and furloughing tens of thousands of state employees indefinitely.

State parks, beaches and historic sites were expected to close Wednesday - the day after the July Fourth holiday.

It was a grim climax to a bitter dispute with Corzine's fellow Democrats in the Assembly over his plan to increase the sales tax…

About 45,000 state employees were immediately furloughed. The order allows Corzine to keep 36,000 state employees working without pay. Services such as state police, prisons, mental hospitals and child welfare were to keep operating. The casinos could be forced to close because they require state monitoring, though the casino industry is challenging a possible closure in court.

A bid by Atlantic City's 12 casinos Friday to get state monitors declared "essential employees" who would stay on the job despite a government shutdown is now before an emergency appellate court panel, casino association lawyer John Kearney said Saturday.

July welfare checks have already been mailed, said Corzine's chief counsel, Stuart Rabner. But he said next month's cannot be sent unless a budget agreement is reached.

The dispute centers on Corzine's determination to raise the state sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent to help close a $4.5 billion budget deficit.

Corzine sees the increase as a vital step toward providing reliable annual revenue, but most Democrats in the Assembly - the lower house of the state Legislature - and several Senate Democrats say it is unnecessary.

Opponents have questioned the need for a sales tax increase, predicting voter backlash and demanding that any increase be reserved for property tax reform. No formal talks between Corzine and legislators were scheduled Saturday. [Ed. – Ah, there’s the rub – the citizenry might discover that the Dems have been spending like drunken sailors and throw the bums out]

Corzine complained that budget efforts "have not resulted in the sort of responsible plan the public has a right to expect."

The shutdown marks the first time the state government has had to close because of a budget dispute.

"What's happening in the Statehouse is shameful," said Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce, a Republican.

The state Constitution requires a balanced budget by July 1, but the deadline has been missed four times in five years. Nothing happened when deadlines were missed before, but the state never went past the morning of July 2 without an adopted budget. Without one, the state has no authority to spend money. The shutdown lasts until a budget agreement is signed.

The UN, the Palestinians, and Reuters: No fair! Israel is not allowed to fight back!
Security Council debates incursion

NEW YORK -- A Palestinian representative for the West Bank and Gaza Strip urged the U.N. Security Council yesterday to press Israel to quickly end its Gaza offensive, but the United States said Syria and Iran must first end their role as "state sponsors of terror" and condemn Hamas militants. [Ed. - Don't you just love the quotation marks]

Israel, for its part, insisted during an emergency session of the 15-nation council that its military presence was limited to a small part of southern Gaza and was intended to prevent a kidnapped Israeli soldier from being smuggled out of the area.

Israel was doing all it could to minimize harm to Palestinian civilians and planned immediate steps to improve the humanitarian situation in the area, said Daniel Carmon, Israel's deputy U.N. ambassador.

Palestinian U.N. Observer Riyad Mansour painted a dire picture of conditions in Gaza, where Israeli forces have bombed water pipelines and the area's sole power plant and attacked the Interior Ministry with missiles.

In the West Bank, Israel had detained at least 64 Palestinians including eight Hamas Cabinet ministers and 24 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, he said.

"The council cannot continue to remain passive in the face of such a military aggression against a defenseless civilian population," he said, calling for approval of a resolution condemning the incursion and urging the prompt withdrawal of Israeli forces and the release of detained officials.

However, John R. Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, called for caution.

"We should not undermine the limited credibility of the council by engaging in debate and rhetoric merely for their own sake," he said. [Ed. – I don’t envy Bolton his job. How hard must it be to enter The Twilight Zone each day for work?]

Friday, June 30, 2006

ABC and Bawbawa: Star was fired because we told her to lie and she didn’t
Reynolds: ABC Said to 'Make Up a Story'

NEW YORK (AP) -- Ousted cast member Star Jones Reynolds said Thursday she was told she could "make up a story" about why she was leaving "The View" and her colleagues would have gone along with it.

The news that Reynolds wouldn't have her contract renewed for a 10th year on the daytime talk show exploded this week into a bitter war of words involving show creator Barbara Walters…

The truth - that Reynolds' ABC bosses didn't want her back because her personal popularity was plummeting - might never have been known without the fight…

Longtime ABC newswoman Walters has confirmed the intended deception, but said it was done to protect Reynolds' reputation and feelings.

ABC said it canned Reynolds immediately after Tuesday's show because her announcement, and an interview with People magazine, took the network by surprise. Walters told The Associated Press that she felt betrayed and ABC said it couldn't trust Reynolds to tell the truth if she remained on the air. [Ed. - Yes, Folks, that is actually their position]

Haniyeh: We lob missiles into Israel daily, infiltrated their country killing two soldiers and kidnapping another, and THEY INVADE OUR LANDS? What’s WRONG with those people?
Palestinian PM Lashes Out at Israelis

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Friday that Israel's offensive in Gaza - including the kidnappings of some of his Cabinet ministers - was part of a premeditated plan to bring down the Hamas-led government…

Israel's air force has struck more than 30 targets in Gaza - including the Palestinian Interior Ministry - in response to Sunday's kidnapping of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, 19, by Hamas-linked militants. Thousands of Israeli soldiers backed by tanks also have taken up positions in southern Gaza…

Shalit was captured Sunday when Gaza militants tunneled under the border, attacking an Israeli outpost and killing two other soldiers…[Ed. – Talk about premeditation… The tunnel was over 1,000 feet long. Even given their ratty nature, it took the ‘militants’ months to dig that tunnel]

Si vous ne pouvez pas le construire, volez-le
French Lawmakers Approve 'iTunes Law'

PARIS (AP) -- French lawmakers gave final approval Friday to legislation that could force Apple Computer Inc. to make its iPod and iTunes Music Store compatible with rivals' music players and online services.

Both the Senate and the National Assembly, France's lower house, voted in favor of the copyright bill, which some analysts said could cause Apple Computer Inc. and others to pull their music players and online download stores from France…

Apple described the original version of the copyright bill as "state-sponsored piracy" earlier this year, but a company spokesman was not immediately available to comment on Friday's vote…

I’ve commented before on France’s state-sponsored thievery, see France: Who needs technical prowess? We’ve got legislative blackmail and Those that can, do. Those that can’t, fulminate and litigate.

My advice to Apple, maneuver as best you can within the law while protecting your copyright outside France and extract every last Euro from that country you’re able before it implodes (Marching for mediocrity, at best), dies (Congratulating yourself into oblivion), or erupts in civil war (Will Paris burn, again?).

Bin Laden: My butchering sociopaths have the right to be buried in their homelands
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- Osama bin Laden called on President Bush in an audiotape released Friday to release the body of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and said Jordan should allow the slain terrorist to be buried in his homeland.

In the 19-minute message, bin Laden paid tribute to al-Zarqawi and said the former al-Qaida in Iraq leader had been under orders to kill Iraqis who supported U.S. forces in the country. He also vowed more attacks against the United States in the Middle East and Africa.

"We will continue to fight you and your allies everywhere, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan to run down your resources and kill your men until you return defeated to your nation," he said, addressing Bush. His voice sounded breathy and fatigued at times…

The Jordanian government has said it will never allow al-Zarqawi to be buried in his homeland because of a November triple suicide bombing his followers carried out in Amman hotels that killed 60 people...

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Is he a Republican or a Democrat? Only The Shadow knows.
Ex-governor, Scrushy convicted

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (AP) -- Former Gov. Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth chief executive Richard Scrushy were convicted Thursday in a bribery scheme that derailed Siegelman's campaign to retake his former office.
No mention of party affiliation in paragraph one, even though the MSM custom is to put ‘(D)’ or ‘(R)’ following the first mention of a politician's name.

Siegelman, 60, was accused of trading government favors for campaign donations when he was governor from 1999 to 2003 and lieutenant governor from 1995 to 1999.
Still no affiliation mentioned.

Scrushy, who once ran the Birmingham-based rehabilitation chain, was accused of arranging $500,000 in donations to Siegelman's campaign for a state lottery in exchange for a seat on a state hospital regulatory board.
Another paragraph and not a whiff.

The case was tried as Siegelman sought the Democratic nomination for governor, and the trial put him in court during the final weeks of the campaign. He lost to Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley in the June 6 Democratic primary and blamed the charges for his defeat...
There we go. What a surprise, he’s a Democrat!

Funny how Egypt is want to embrace their Arab brothers trying to pour through the hole
Mine Blasts Hole in Gaza-Egypt Border

RAFAH, Egypt (AP) -- Hundreds of Palestinian and Egyptian police formed human cordons on both sides of the Gaza-Egypt border Thursday to block Palestinians trying to get through after militants blasted a hole in a cement wall near the crossing.

Egypt also imposed a curfew on the nearby town of Rafah, ordering all stores, banks and restaurants shut, said Ahmed el-Masri, chief of police there.

An Associated Press reporter at the scene heard men with megaphones screaming that they were from the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military wing, and saying they were responsible for the blast. They also threatened "another bold action" after evening prayers, but did not elaborate…

The sound of automatic weapons being fired into the air was heard over Palestinian national songs being blasted from speakers on the Gaza side. Loudspeakers also broadcast voices encouraging Palestinians to keep trying to penetrate the border.

Dozens of Palestinians, mostly young boys, struggled to push through the 12-foot- wide hole and hurdle a second border wall less than 100 yards away, witnesses said.

Boys threw rocks at Palestinian security forces, but at one point stopped in order to pray alongside the border fences... [Ed. – Ever wonder what a hooligan prays for?]

Be still my beating heart, the August issue cannot come too soon
Pregnant Spears Poses Nude for Magazine

NEW YORK (AP) -- Pregnant pop princess Britney Spears is baring nearly all on the cover of Harper's Bazaar magazine. The singer of "... Baby, One More Time" posed in the buff for the cover of the August issue; there's also a photo spread inside.

On the cover, Spears, who is sitting, cups her breasts with her hands and crosses her legs while showing her protruding belly and smiling for the camera of lensman Alexi Lubomirski.

"Nothing to wear?" a cover headline asks. "487 Best new ideas inside."…

An alternate headline might be:
Nothing between the ears? A dozen ways to prove it inside.

Judge Eduardo C. Robreno: Embezzler must make restitution within 600 years
Woman Gets 27 Months in $1.5M Embezzlement

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- A woman accused of embezzling more than $1.5 million from a credit union and buying more than 1,500 items, including hundreds of pairs of shoes and a $60,000 swimming pool, has been sentenced to 27 months in prison….

Barachie acknowledged stealing money from the Northampton-Carbon County Federal Credit Union, where she worked, from 1995 to 2003. She pleaded guilty in October to charges of embezzlement and filing a false federal tax return…

Barachie has already begun working to pay back the money she stole by selling her purchases on e-Bay. She's sold 1,000 items so far, bringing in $60,000, defense attorney John Waldron said. Another 500 items are still up for sale.

The judge ordered her to pay $50 a month in restitution while she's in prison and at least $200 a month once she's released. [Ed. – Clearly, math is not Judge Robreno’s strong suit]

Israel to Assad: We always know where you are and you’re always within reach
Hamas leaders arrested; Israeli executed

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Israeli forces arrested one-third of the Hamas-led Palestinian Cabinet and 20 lawmakers early Thursday and pressed their incursion into Gaza, responding to the abduction of one of its soldiers.

Israeli warplanes also buzzed the summer home of Syria's president, accused by Israel of harboring the hard-line Hamas leaders its blames for masterminding the kidnapping…

Adding to the tension, a Palestinian militant group said it killed an 18-year-old Jewish settler kidnapped in the West Bank. Israeli security officials said Eliahu Asheri's body was found buried near Ramallah. They said he was shot in the head, apparently soon after he was abducted on Sunday.

Army Radio said the arrested Hamas leaders might be used to trade for the captured soldier. Israel had refused earlier to trade prisoners for the soldier's release.

Palestinian security officials said eight ministers of the 24-member Hamas-led Cabinet and 20 lawmakers were arrested, among them Deputy Prime Minister Nasser Shaer and Labor Minister Mohammed Barghouti…

In a clear warning to Syrian President Bashar Assad, Israeli airplanes flew over his seaside home near the Mediterranean port city of Latakia in northwestern Syria, military officials confirmed, citing the "direct link" between his government and Hamas. Israeli television reports said four planes were involved in the low-altitude flight, and that Assad was there at the time...

At some point the Arabs in the region are going to figure out that Olmert views the Palestinians controlled by Hamas militants (in Gaza or those harbored in Syria) in the same way Churchill viewed the Germans controlled by the Nazis. The difference of course is that Olmert is presently prime minister while Churchill’s election to the post came nearly too late.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Ellison: No Summers, no money

I wonder if this announcement will give MIT’s Nancy Hopkins another case of the vapors.
Ellison breaks Harvard pledge

It's official: Larry Ellison is walking away from a promise to donate $115 million to Harvard University.

The Oracle Corp. founder and chief executive, the world's 15th-richest person, made headlines in 2005 when, in an interview with The Chronicle, he pledged to make a major donation to Harvard to study world health. But Ellison decided against the donation after Harvard President Lawrence Summers announced his resignation earlier this year. Summers will leave the university on Friday.

"It's official," said Oracle spokesman Bob Wynne. "The reason is the relationship he had with Larry Summers, who leaves this week. Larry Summers was the brainchild of this whole concept. With his departure, Larry (Ellison) reconsidered his decision."…

Summers resigned in February, amid faculty uproar over comments suggesting that differences in "intrinsic aptitude" may explain why fewer women than men succeed in math and science…

Sleep well tonight, America. Bill Keller and the NY Times have your six

Powerline has Why SWIFT Mattered and NRO has A Good Program…to Make Us Safer…Is Over.”

I had no idea that abject stupidity, religious fanaticism, and terrorism were thought to be growth industries

This story is more of the usual one-sided AP dribble about the ‘Israeli-Palestinian violence’ until the final paragraph.

It's clear to me that Steven Gutkin has to be smoking his socks.
Israel sends troops into Gaza Strip

By STEVEN GUTKIN, Associated Press Writer

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Israel threatened Wednesday to widen the conflict over the abduction of one of its soldiers, sending thousands of troops into Gaza, arresting a Palestinian Cabinet minister and buzzing the summer home of Syria's president, who is blamed for harboring Hamas leaders.

No deaths or injuries were reported in the incursion, launched early Wednesday in southern Gaza. But Palestinians filled up on basic supplies after warplanes knocked out electricity, raising the specter of a humanitarian crisis. The Hamas-led government warned of "epidemics and health disasters" because of damaged water pipes to central Gaza and the lack of power to pump water.

Israel's concern goes beyond the rescue of the soldier and the negative precedent abducting soldiers would set. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government is alarmed by the firing of homemade rockets on Israeli communities around Gaza and support for Hamas in the Arab world, especially from Syria…

Palestinian plans for high-rise apartments, sports complexes and industrial parks in lands evacuated by Israel have given way to despair, with rising poverty, increasingly violent relations with Israel and a looming threat of civil war.

The headline says it all
Awkward Moments Abound in Penis Pump Trial

BRISTOW, Okla. (AP) -- Serving on the jury in an indecent-exposure trial unfolding in this conservative Oklahoma town has been a giggle-inducing experience.

Former Judge Donald D. Thompson, a veteran of 23 years on the bench, is on trial on charges he used a penis pump on himself in the courtroom while sitting in judgment of others…

Read the whole story. It is at once - bizarre, sad, and not a little funny.

Senate Republicans finally wake up and smell the coffee
Senate warms to 'border first'

Key backers of the Senate immigration bill said yesterday they are willing to consider a compromise that would delay the guest-worker program and "amnesty" portions until the borders have been secured.

The proposal was floated by Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter in an interview Monday with editors and reporters at The Washington Times.

"I think it's worth discussing," said Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican. "Many of us have said we could work on border enforcement and, at the same time, work on other aspects that would take more time."…

The House and Senate approved very different immigration bills, with the House focusing on building 700 miles of fence on the U.S.-Mexico border, boosting enforcement and requiring employers to verify that their workers are here legally. The Senate bill boosts enforcement, too, but also creates a program for future immigrant workers and a path to citizenship for many current illegal aliens.

On Monday, Mr. Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who will lead House and Senate negotiators in the conference committee, told The Times that border security should be the top priority in the final bill and that he is open to a compromise that would make the guest-worker program and path to citizenship for illegal aliens contingent on first ensuring a secure border and improved interior enforcement.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican and key backer of the Senate bill, said yesterday he could see that as a possibility.

"I'm open to the idea that you'd have ... border-security benchmarks, interior-enforcement benchmarks, and once that's fulfilled, you start assimilating people," he said.

But just a month ago, many of these same senators -- including Mr. Specter, Mr. Graham and Mr. Kennedy -- voted against a proposal that would have set out a similar timeline requiring border security and improved enforcement before the rest of the Senate bill could proceed…

Many lawmakers say a final bill including any form of "amnesty" would never pass the House, whether those provisions are delayed or not.

"I don't think the House will go for anything that puts citizenship in the bill," said Sen. John Ensign, Nevada Republican, who thinks a compromise bill with a guest-worker program could work, as long as it didn't include citizenship for the millions of illegals already here, as the Senate bill would do…

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

chutz·pah /'hut-sp&/ n: supreme self-confidence : NERVE, GALL, see EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
European rights court agrees to hear Tareq Aziz case: lawyer

AMMAN (AFP) - A lawyer for former Iraqi deputy prime minister Tareq Aziz, in US custody in Baghdad, said the European Court of Human Rights had conditionally agreed to hear a plea over fears Aziz might be handed over to the Iraqi government.

Italian lawyer Giovanni Di Stefano said the court had first said it wanted to know to whom it was that Aziz had surrendered in April 2003, shortly after the fall of the former regime, by whom and where had he been held since then and at what date they proposed transferring custody.

Di Stefano and fellow Italian lawyer Domenico Marinelli said in a statement on Monday that the safety of their client and other detainees from the former Iraqi regime could be at risk if they were transferred to Iraqi custody…

"Since physical custody is about to be be transferred to the Iraqi government of all detainees my concern is that Tareq Aziz will be punished by the Iraqi government well outside any judicial process," Di Stefano wrote…

The European Court of Human Rights claiming jurisdiction and ‘presiding’ over this case is akin to an old toothless woman attempting to eat an uncooked ear of corn, except that the old woman has every right to try.

Jill Biden: All things considered, I’d rather be in Philadelphia
Speaking to a group of 130 twenty- and thirty-something supporters of his leadership PAC last Thursday, [Sen. Joe] Biden [(D-Del.)] indicated that while he thinks he could be an effective chief executive, as far as the job itself goes, he could take it or leave it.

“I’d rather be at home making love to my wife while my children are asleep,” he said.
(Hat tip: Real Clear Politics)

The Sopranos is a documentary, who knew?

The story below chronicles the fourth incident (that I’m aware of) of an actor on HBO's The Sopranos being convicted of a crime.
'Sopranos' Actor Strikes Plea Bargain

NEW YORK (AP) -- The actor who plays temperamental chef Artie Bucco on "The Sopranos" avoided jail time for driving while impaired in a plea bargain deal, authorities said…

Ventimiglia will also lose his license for 90 days and pay a $500 fine, among other conditions.

He was arraigned May 1 on drunken driving, drug possession and other charges after officers spotted him weaving in and out of traffic. The plea to driving while impaired settled all the charges against him.

A criminal complaint alleged that when police pulled him over, the actor had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and smelled of alcohol.

Ventimiglia's blood-alcohol content was 0.12 - the legal limit is 0.08 - and he was carrying a zip-lock bag with cocaine residue, according to the complaint.

Star no longer blocking the view
Star Jones Reynolds Leaving 'The View'

NEW YORK (AP) -- Don't expect any smackdown between Rosie O'Donnell and Star Jones Reynolds on "The View." Reynolds said Tuesday she was leaving the show. She told People magazine, "I feel like I was fired."

Rumors that she was leaving have intensified since the April announcement that Rosie O'Donnell would be replacing Meredith Vieira on "The View" in the fall.

O'Donnell had made several caustic remarks about Reynolds, saying that it was dishonest for her to talk about losing more than 100 pounds through diet and exercise without talking about gastric bypass surgery…

Monday, June 26, 2006

OMG, you mean NASA told them!

How brain-dead do you have to be to come up with the following headline:
Shuttle Crew Aware of Spaceflight Risks

By SETH BORENSTEIN
Associated Press Science Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The seven crew members of the space shuttle Discovery will arrive at Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday to take one of the biggest risks of their lives. They have a 1-in-100 chance of dying during their spaceflight next month. Those, at least, are the official odds that NASA has long given.

Exactly what the real odds are is a question that looms larger than normal this time.

That is because two top officials at NASA took the unusual step of dissenting from the space agency's decision to go ahead with the launch without fixing the potentially catastrophic problem of foam falling off the external fuel tank - the very problem that doomed Columbia 3 1/2 years ago.

The agency's safety director and chief engineer wanted to wait and fix the problem. But NASA Administrator Michael Griffin decided a July 1 launch is worth the added risk for a variety of reasons…

FYI

I rarely respond to comments left on this blog and almost never delete them, save spam.

I just deleted a comment made regarding this post. The comment contained what appeared to be the home addresses and telephone numbers of the leaders of CASA of Maryland. While I applaud those who would want to write or call the organization’s leaders to criticize they’re dubious, at best, ‘immigrant assistance’ policies and practices, any such message should be civil, tempered, and directed to the organization at their place of business.

I assume that the leaders of CASA of Maryland have mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, spouses and children, none of whom should or need be subjected to or impacted by whatever criticism one may have of their relative in the organization’s leadership.

While harassing an opponent’s family is, in fact, a tactic embraced by some in CASA of Maryland, one needn’t become a lout to defeat a lout.

Secretary Snow: Keller, you’re a liar

Kathryn Jean Lopez at NRO’s The Corner posted a copy of a letter John Snow wrote to Bill Keller. (duplicated in full below)
Mr. Bill Keller, Managing Editor
The New York Times
229 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036

Dear Mr. Keller:

The New York Times' decision to disclose the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, a robust and classified effort to map terrorist networks through the use of financial data, was irresponsible and harmful to the security of Americans and freedom-loving people worldwide. In choosing to expose this program, despite repeated pleas from high-level officials on both sides of the aisle, including myself, the Times undermined a highly successful counter-terrorism program and alerted terrorists to the methods and sources used to track their money trails.

Your charge that our efforts to convince The New York Times not to publish were "half-hearted" is incorrect and offensive. Nothing could be further from the truth. Over the past two months, Treasury has engaged in a vigorous dialogue with the Times - from the reporters writing the story to the D.C. Bureau Chief and all the way up to you. It should also be noted that the co-chairmen of the bipartisan 9-11 Commission, Governor Tom Kean and Congressman Lee Hamilton, met in person or placed calls to the very highest levels of the Times urging the paper not to publish the story. Members of Congress, senior U.S. Government officials and well-respected legal authorities from both sides of the aisle also asked the paper not to publish or supported the legality and validity of the program.

Indeed, I invited you to my office for the explicit purpose of talking you out of publishing this story. And there was nothing "half-hearted" about that effort. I told you about the true value of the program in defeating terrorism and sought to impress upon you the harm that would occur from its disclosure. I stressed that the program is grounded on solid legal footing, had many built-in safeguards, and has been extremely valuable in the war against terror. Additionally, Treasury Under Secretary Stuart Levey met with the reporters and your senior editors to answer countless questions, laying out the legal framework and diligently outlining the multiple safeguards and protections that are in place.

You have defended your decision to compromise this program by asserting that "terror financiers know" our methods for tracking their funds and have already moved to other methods to send money. The fact that your editors believe themselves to be qualified to assess how terrorists are moving money betrays a breathtaking arrogance and a deep misunderstanding of this program and how it works. While terrorists are relying more heavily than before on cumbersome methods to move money, such as cash couriers, we have continued to see them using the formal financial system, which has made this particular program incredibly valuable.

Lastly, justifying this disclosure by citing the "public interest" in knowing information about this program means the paper has given itself free license to expose any covert activity that it happens to learn of - even those that are legally grounded, responsibly administered, independently overseen, and highly effective. Indeed, you have done so here.

What you've seemed to overlook is that it is also a matter of public interest that we use all means available - lawfully and responsibly - to help protect the American people from the deadly threats of terrorists. I am deeply disappointed in the New York Times.

Sincerely,

[signed]

John W. Snow, Secretary

U.S. Department of the Treasury

For Republicans, John Kerry is the gift that keeps on giving
Democrats split on a 2d run by Kerry
Some embrace recent rhetoric; others say it's time for a new face

WASHINGTON -- Senator John F. Kerry has intensified his quest to regain the Democratic presidential nomination with a sharp move to the left, presenting himself in high-profile speeches and Senate debates as an unfettered lawmaker and would-be presidential candidate who learned from his 2004 loss that he must fight harder for what he believes. [Ed. – Which might be easier to do if Kerry could determine what, exactly, it is that he believes]

In passionate remarks on the Senate floor and before party faithful last week, Kerry spoke directly to grass-roots Democrats, many of whom remain angry over his defeat in an election they believe Kerry was capable of winning.

“I think I'm a much better candidate at this point in my life than I've ever been before -- much more knowledgeable, much more confident, much clearer and brief, to the point, and highly focused," Kerry said in an interview, noting that those campaign skills would apply equally to a 2008 run for the Senate or the presidency.

While many Democrats remain wary of Kerry, there were signs last week that party activists were welcoming his defiance of the Bush administration -- and some leaders of his own party -- on the war in Iraq, the makeup of the Supreme Court, and on environmental policy.

“They like an aggressive Senator Kerry," said Markos Moulitsas Zuniga , the influential Daily Kos Internet blogger . “A lot of the hostility is dissipating. The first step is to have people not hate you anymore."

But, he added, ``I don't see that translating into support in 2008. If he's going to be a credible 2008 candidate, he's got a long way to travel to regain trust." [Ed. – Hopefully, Kerry can avoid gaining Zuniga’s ‘trust’. The ‘Kos’ endorsement is the kiss of death; none of his eighteen odd chosen have won at the polls.]

Some party officials and Democratic lawmakers said in interviews that they are seeing in Kerry some of the same loser-liberation that has attracted people to former vice president Al Gore…

But colleagues and activists question whether Kerry can persuade his party to give him another try at the presidency in 2008.

“The position [on the war] he took in '04 was really forced, and led to all the verbal gymnastics he went through. I don't know if he can erase that," said Dan Payne, a Democratic consultant who worked on Senate campaigns for Kerry but who was not involved in his presidential run.

Privately, senior Democrats wince at the prospect of another Kerry run for the presidency. One called it "delusional" that Kerry could win the nomination, while another Democratic member of Congress said Kerry ``blew" the race.

“Maybe it's unfair, but the feeling is he lost, and that was his shot, and he can't win and we don't want to run losers," said the lawmaker, who asked not to be named so he could speak frankly about a colleague. "We need a fresh new face."…

A combat officer’s take on the NY Times

Bumped with a second update

Powerlineblog has A word from Lt. Cotton.

I also have a word for Keller, Lichtblau & Risen – scumbags.

Updated:

Andrew C. McCarthy 's They’re Just More Important Than You Are seconds the notion that Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, is a scumbag.

Michael Barone's The New York Times at War With America wonders who elected Keller the Grand Pooh-Bah of the United States of America

Update2:

Hugh Hewitt thinks Keller is a lying scumbag, and none too bright either.

The tortured process of removing a boil
CU To Fire Ward Churchill
Professor Has Vowed To Sue If School Fired Him

BOULDER, Colo. -- The University of Colorado announced Monday that it will dismiss controversial professor Ward Churchill.

"Today, I issued to Professor Churchill a notice of intent to dismiss him from his faculty position at the University of Colorado Boulder," CU Interim Chancellor Phil DiStefano said Monday afternoon…

The tenured professor of ethnic studies has repeatedly denied all accusations of misconduct.

He told the Associate Press in mid-June, "The basic situation here is that there was a call by high officials in the state, notably the governor but hardly restricted to the governor, for my termination clear back last February, whether or not it was legal. They were willing to take the heat and go to court if necessary to stand behind an illegitimate investigation."

When his essay was brought to light in January 2005, Gov. Bill Owens, state lawmakers and relatives of Sept. 11 victims in New York immediately denounced it. University officials concluded Churchill could not be fired for the essay, but in March 2005 they launched an investigation into allegations of plagiarism and other research misconduct.

Last month, an investigative subcommittee concluded that Churchill repeatedly fabricated his research, plagiarized others' work and strayed from the "bedrock principles of scholarship."…


A man's character is his fate.
Heraclitus

Bawbawa Wawa and Siwius to air retweads
Barbara Walters Joins Sirius Radio

NEW YORK (AP) -- Whenever he sees Barbara Walters, George Clooney mentions how he's still paying for telling her in an interview that he was never going to marry again.

Future Clooney dates will have an opportunity to revisit that talk, and hundreds of other interviews Walters has conducted for ABC News specials over the past three decades, due to a deal announced Monday with Sirius Satellite Radio.

Sirius will air a weekly two-hour series, starting next year, that replays many of the interviews Walters has conducted since joining ABC in 1976. About four interviews will be featured in each program, with new introductions by Walters to place them into the context of the time.

"It is a wonderful way for them to be heard," Walters told The Associated Press. "So many of them are classics. It is everything from Lucille Ball and John Wayne and Bing Crosby and George Burns to Matthew McConaughey and Julia Roberts."…

Doing radio, she said, has always intrigued her. Don't look for Walters, 74, to be spinning the hits, though...

And since it’s radio, there’ll be no need to cover a camera lens with gauze for Ms. Walters’ closeups.

William J. “Cold Cash” Jefferson puts damper on Democrat’s ‘Republicans are a culture of corruption’ meme
Jefferson stars in punch lines

NEW ORLEANS -- Rep. William J. Jefferson's constituents here think his ethical troubles are laughable and shake their heads when asked their opinions of the congressman.

The Louisiana Democrat is the subject of a widening bribery probe, and earlier this month, he was forced from his seat on the highly coveted House tax-writing panel.

Mr. Jefferson resisted repeated calls from Democratic leaders for him to step aside, saying his Hurricane Katrina-battered district needed his help to secure funds for rebuilding efforts.

In New Orleans, mentioning his name prompts residents to grin, laugh and usually make a reference to "cold cash."

Mr. Jefferson has not been charged with a crime and maintains that he is not guilty, but investigators revealed that soon after he was videotaped accepting a $100,000 bribe, authorities found $90,000 in his freezer.

Sen. George Allen, a Virginia Republican who met with business leaders here to assess rebuilding efforts, said New Orleans "has been an important city since before Mr. Jefferson made by far the best real-estate deal ever," referring to Thomas Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase.

"First, I thought he was making a joke about our congressman," responded Mark Drennan of Greater New Orleans Inc.

Everyone in the room laughed.

Such exchanges are common in the French Quarter's shops and restaurants. Most of the people interviewed by The Washington Times didn't want to be quoted, saying the eight-term lawmaker hasn't been proven guilty, but they are happy to crack jokes at his expense.

The situation was no laughing matter for House Democrats, who realized that Mr. Jefferson's ethics scandal was hurting their quest to win back the majority in the fall. The caucus voted to strip him temporarily of his seat on the House Ways and Means Committee, and the full House approved the removal.

The corruption probe focuses on business deals that the lawmaker is suspected to have helped facilitate between U.S. companies and African officials in exchange for bribes. Two of Mr. Jefferson's associates have pleaded guilty to helping bribe the lawmaker.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported Thursday that a Maryland-based satellite radio firm serving Africa and Asia also is under scrutiny for ties to Mr. Jefferson. The report said the chief executive of Worldspace gave Mr. Jefferson a loan of between $50,000 and $100,000.

Seven other business deals are under review by the Justice Department, the newspaper reported.

Several New Orleanians sat reading the story over breakfast at the Clover Grill in the French Quarter on Thursday.

"Poor guy," one man said.

"He's a crook," another countered.

Court documents say Mr. Jefferson secured profits of a Nigerian company and set them up in his children's names.

During one meeting, an FBI informant said, Mr. Jefferson was asked how long he would remain in Congress.

"I'm gonna get your deal out of the way," Mr. Jefferson is said to have replied. "And I probably won't last long after that."

Mr. Jefferson said this month that forcing him off the Ways and Means Committee "unjustly punishes my constituents ... who, after Katrina, need my leadership on my committee more than ever."…

Russ “You’re all out of touch” Feingold speaks!
WASHINGTON, Jun. 26 (UPI) — U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., one of the few senators to vote against invading Iraq in 2003, says Congress is out of touch with the U.S. people on the war.

"The American people have had it with this intervention," Feingold told NBC's Tim Russert on "Meet the Press" Sunday. "They do want a timetable for bringing home the troops. And the fact that the United States Senate doesn't get it shouldn't surprise you."

Feingold co-sponsored an Iraq amendment calling for a U.S. withdrawal by July 2007 with former Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, D-Mass., last week, but only 10 fellow Democrats and one independent voted in favor of the resolution during Senate debate on the war.

"It's only here in Washington that people don't understand it's time to end this mistake, to end our military involvement there," he told Russert, who introduced Feingold as a potential presidential candidate in 2008.


"The real distinction is between those who adapt their purposes to reality and those who seek to mold reality in the light of their purposes."
Henry Kissinger

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Aksa Martyrs' Brigades: Our plan will turn the West Bank and Gaza into smoldering ruins.

As you read the article below, think about this: the Israeli Defense Force is, pound for pound, the best trained, most lethal and effective military on the planet. As a nation, Israelis are of a single mind – in any ‘it’s them or us’ confrontation the ’them’ will never know what hit ‘em.

Even the dimwitted house apes calling themselves ‘Palestinian warriors’ can’t be stupid enough to launch a WMD attack on Israel, can they?
Al-Aksa claims biological, chemical capabilities

The Aksa Martyrs' Brigades group announced on Sunday that it its members have succeeded in manufacturing chemical and biological weapons to be used against Israel.

In a leaflet distributed in the Gaza Strip, the group, which belongs to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party, said the weapons were the result of an effort that has lasted for three years.

The statment was a response to an Israeli Security Cabinet decision to give the IDF the green light to prepare all the forces necessary for a military operation against Gaza terror cells.

As of 9:00 p.m. a large contingency of Golani and Givati Brigade infantry troops, along with elite units, were amassing on the Israeli side of the Gaza security fence for a possible ground operation there to rescue kidnapped soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit.

According to the statement, the first of its kind, the group managed to manufacture and develop at least 20 different types of biological and chemical weapons.

The group said its members would not hesitate to add the new weapons to long-range rockets that are being fired at Israeli communities almost every day. It also threatened to use the weapons against IDF soldiers if Israel carried out its threats to invade the Gaza Strip.

"We want to tell [Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert and [Defense Minister Amir] Peretz that your threats don't frighten us," the leaflet said. "We will surprise you with our new weapons the moment the first soldier sets his foot in the Gaza Strip."

Activists: Government should spend $50 million so illegal aliens can move about the nation’s capital more readily
Metro ponders signs in Spanish

Metrorail officials are considering adding permanent Spanish-language signs, system maps, fare-card machines and announcements in stations after a push by immigration advocates.

They say the idea has been discussed for several years within the agency's Office of Project Communications, but no official plans have been made.

The estimated cost of the changes is at least $500,000 per station [Ed – here’s a stations map] and as much as $900,000 for a large, multilevel station such as Metro Center or L'Enfant Plaza.

"It would really depend on what signs, where, what they're made of, the cost of fabricating and installing them," said Murray Bond, director of sales and marketing at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. "It's a strain on the budget, but in a business sense, by giving people better information to use the system, hopefully they'll use it more, [and] every time they use it, we get a fare."[Ed. - You mean the fare currently subsidized by local taxpayers, that one?]


The Urban Institute estimates that more than 1 million immigrants and illegal aliens live in the region, and about 40 percent of them are Hispanic. [Ed. - In other words, the vast majority of the area’s immigrants would not derive any benefit from signs written in Spanish. Additionally, no mention is made of the percentage of the Hispanic illegals who are illiterate. If you can’t read, regardless of language, the written word is useless. Perhaps we should set up special Spanish language schools so illegals can learn to read Spanish before the new signs go up.]

The region annually draws 1 million tourists from overseas, the U.S. government-run Office of Travel and Tourism Industries reports.

Immigration advocates say riders with limited English skills might have difficulty understanding how to transfer between lines or how to use fare-card machines and schedules, and they fear rebuke from Metro staff if they seek help in broken English.

"Many immigrants come from areas where they're not using a Metro system," said Kim Propeack, a spokeswoman for immigrant rights group CASA of Maryland… [Ed. - Ah yes, we’ve seen Kim Propeack and CASA of Maryland before]

Some critics say immigrants should learn English instead of urging Metro to conform, which would send the wrong message about the expectations of those who come to the country... [Ed. – What a quaint concept!]

Murtha proves he’s a blathering old fool, yet again
Murtha reiterates his call for U.S. to pull out of Iraq

American presence in Iraq is more dangerous to world peace than nuclear threats from North Korea or Iran, U.S. Rep. John P. Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat, said yesterday to a crowd of more than 200 in North Miami… [Ed. – One wonders how many in the crowd were wearing one of these]

Murtha’s previous forays into his alternate universe can be found here, here and here.

MD Democrats force through unconstitutional legislation to guard their incumbency
Ehrlich's energy plan veto defeated

ANNAPOLIS -- State lawmakers voted yesterday to overturn Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s veto of the Democrats' energy plan that will postpone a 72 percent rate increase by Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. but forces customers to pay interest on the deferred charges.

The company's 1.1 million residential customers will see their bills increase 15 percent on July 1 -- not the 72 percent increase to market rates set earlier this year in a wholesale electricity auction overseen by the utility-regulating Public Service Commission.

However, the money customers save will still be owed to the company, and the customers will have to repay it and about $109 million in interest over 10 years.


Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican seeking re-election this fall, said he vetoed the bill because it forces the debt and interest payments on customers.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. said the average monthly interest and debt payment of $2.19 would be canceled out by the elimination of some current fees and by future rate savings.

"There is no interest," Mr. Miller, a Prince George's County Democrat, said after the veto override passed his chamber without debate. "You can't legally say that [in the bill] because it would be an unconstitutional taking under law." [Ed. - Hey the Dems came up with 'affirmative action' for legalized racism and 'undocumented immigrants' for illegal aliens, avoiding the word "interest" should be a cakewalk. How about 'legal tender usage fee'?]

Senate Minority Whip Andrew P. Harris told the Associated Press that Senate Republicans chose not to debate the bill because they knew Democrats had the votes to override the governor.

"There are numerous parts of this bill that are faulty," said Mr. Harris, Baltimore County Republican. "We're not here to work and solve a problem. We're here for political reasons."

Ehrlich spokesman Henry P. Fawell said Democrats overrode the veto to enact a "incumbent protection plan" for lawmakers that does little more than forestall the massive rate increase until after this year's elections…

The Democrats' plan also fires the five members of the commission effective July 1. Members are appointed by a governor, and four of the five members were appointed by Mr. Ehrlich.

A new commission is to be appointed with candidates selected by Mr. Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Anne Arundel County Democrat…

The power company's massive rate increase, which was to take effect July 1 for the utility's 1.1 million residential customers, dominated the General Assembly session. It is also expected to be a flash point in the gubernatorial contest between Mr. Ehrlich and Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, the presumptive Democratic nominee. Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan quit the race Thursday because of clinical depression.

The bill also permits the new commission to postpone market rates again next June by devising another rate-mitigation plan. Power customers can choose whether to "opt in" to that plan.

Critics call the plan a "quick fix" similar to the 1999 deregulation laws that set the stage for this crisis.

The laws, pushed by Mr. Miller and signed by previous Gov. Parris N. Glendening, a Democrat, capped rates at below-market levels as global energy prices rose.