1/31/2006

My Left Wing :: US Attorney General Gonzales guilty of Perjury in front of Congress

My diary at MLW. Same as my last 2 posts. If you are reading my RSS feed you already have all the facts -- law

My Left Wing :: US Attorney General Gonzales guilty of Perjury in front of Congress

US Attorney General guilty of Perjury

Lied about Bush's domestic surveillance while under oath

Gonzales LIED TO Congress under Oath

Gonzales LIED TO Congress under Oath

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) charged yesterday that Attorney General Gonzales misled the Senate during his confirmation hearing a year ago when he avoided answering a question about whether the president could authorize warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens.


Media Finally Reports That Gonzales Misled Congress

This morning, prompted by a letter from Sen. Russ Feingold, the Washington Post reports that Alberto Gonzales misled the Senate Judiciary Committee during his January 2005 confirmation hearing:

Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) charged yesterday that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales misled the Senate during his confirmation hearing a year ago when he appeared to try to avoid answering a question about whether the president could authorize warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens.

Think Progress reported this story on December 18. Gonzales said “it is not the policy or the agenda of this president to authorize actions that would be in contravention of our criminal statutes.” In fact, he personally approved Bush’s warrantless domestic spying program, in contravention of a criminal statute.

We have the full transcript of the Feingold/Gonzales exchange posted.

In addition to Gonzales, former NSA director Michael Hayden and President Bush also made false statements relating to warrantless domestic surveillance.

UPDATE: An important aspect to this story is that Gonzales’ testimony was under oath. From the transcript:

SEN. SPECTER: Judge Gonzales, would you now stand for the administration of the oath? Raise your right hand. Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you will give before the Senate Judiciary Committee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

MR. GONZALES: I do.

UPDATE II: Americablog has the photo.


Think Progress » Media Finally Reports That Gonzales Misled Congress

How KSTP Decided to Roll Al Qaqaa Tape

under the circumstances, according to Hubbard, there was never any consideration of suppressing the story -- despite his family's widely-known conservative politics and record of campaign contributions to Republican politicians.. that decision that resulted in politically charged video being broadcast nationally less than a week before Election Day.

The KSTP [tape was very] significant because it indicated that explosives were still at the site after the war began -- and because it shows two American soldiers looking over the material and leaving it apparently unsecured.

The military is not to be used to save face...

A Famous ancient military strategist explains why

There are Five possible operations for any army, If you can fight, fight, if you cannot fight, defend, if you cannot defend, retreat, it you cannot retreat, surrender, if you cannot surrender, die
– Sima Yi

Which role the US military is left in Iraq since Bush doesn't let them defend themselves effectively, nor allows them to retreat ? You guessed it. They are there to die. -- law


Sima Yi (179 - 251) was a general, military strategist, and politician of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period. He is perhaps best known for defending Cao Wei from Zhuge Liang's northern campaigns. His success and subsequent rise in prominence paved the way for his grandson Sima Yan's foundation of the Jin Dynasty, which would eventually bring an end to the Three Kingdoms period. After the founding of the Jin Dynasty, Sima Yi was posthumously honored as Emperor Xuan of Jin

1/30/2006

Senator staffers spam Wikipedia

Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor "smells of cow dung."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is "ineffective." And U.S. Rep. Martin Meehan never promised to surrender his seat in 2000.

Those assertions were inserted into the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia by congressional House staffers, who executed at least 1,000 changes in the past six months to entries on an array of topics — from biographical changes to facial dimples.

Wikipedia is a global reference that relies on its users — anyone with an Internet connection — to add credible information to entries on millions of topics.

In November and December, the Transcript has learned, users of the House address were temporarily blocked from changing content because of vandalism, violations described by the site as a "deliberate attempt to compromise the integrity of the encyclopedia."

Most House changes, it seems, were meant to enhance various encyclopedia entries.

Slurs against Cantor and Frist, which have been removed, is the first example of abuse that Wikipedia's founder, Jimmy Wales, has seen derive directly from the legislative branch of the U.S. government.

"That's definitely not cool. I was not aware of this," Wales said in an interview.

Wikipedia records every change to its site, and who made it. The encyclopedia prefers that editors log in with a user name. But it's not necessary, and many make changes anonymously; Wikipedia identifies these users by tracking the number assigned to their Internet entry point, called an Internet protocol address.

An IP address assigned to the House is connected to at least 1,000 changes since June, according to the encyclopedia and the nonprofit American Registry for Internet Numbers, a search engine that tracks IP addresses.

Jon Brandt, a spokesman for the Committee on House Administration, which oversees the House computer network, confirmed House ownership of the address.

For security reasons, he declined to say to whom the address is assigned, whether it's a central launching point for all 10,000 House employees or how many addresses the House has.

Laudatory content

Not all changes disparaging and at least one supplanted unflatteringly information with laudatory content.

Matt Vogel, chief of staff for Meehan, a Lowell Democrat, said he authorized an intern last year to replace existing Wikipedia content with a staff-written biography of the lawmaker.

"It makes sense to me the biography we submit would be the biography we write," Vogel said.

The change, made by the intern last July, deleted a reference to Meehan's campaign promise to surrender his seat after serving eight years, a pledge Meehan later eschewed. It also deleted a reference to the size of his campaign account, the largest of any House member at $4.8 million, according to the latest data available from the Federal Election Commission.

North Adams Transcript - Headlines

GMSV: Congress spins at Wikipedia

Congressional House staffers have reportedly made some 1,000 changes to the collaborative online encyclopedia Wikipedia in the past six months, removing slurs against their bosses and in some cases factual information as well. Late last week members of Rep. Martin Meehan's staff admitted they deleted unflattering information about a broken campaign promise from Meehan's Wikipedia bio. Meehan once pledged to serve just four terms, but later broke that promise. Today, he's serving his seventh term.

''Meehan first ran for Congress in 1992 on a platform of reform," Meehan's original Wikipedia entry read. ''As part of that platform Meehan made a pledge to not serve more than four terms, a central part of his campaign. This breaking of the pledge has been a controversial issue in the 5th Congressional District of Massachusetts."

Now here's the bio after the congressman's staffers got to it: ''Meehan was elected to Congress in 1992 on a plan to eliminate the deficit. His fiscally responsible voting record since then has earned him praise from citizen watchdog groups."

Nice, eh? And Meehan's not the only one touching up his public face. According to a Wikipedia investigation, the biographies of Sens. Conrad Burns, Norm Coleman, Robert Byrd, Tom Harkin, Joe Biden, and Tom Coburn have all been edited by Senate employees as well.

Good Morning Silicon Valley: We should be happy Congress even found Wikipedia

1/29/2006

Booman Tribune ~ What Is Bush Hiding?

Larry Johnson sees at least two possibilities. First, they may be using data mining on domestic targets. An old fashioned "fishing" trip.

Second, the source of the intel tips is tainted. If you are using leads obtained thru torture, then you don't want to tell it to a FISA judge. Why not lie? That's called perjury, and L Scooter Libby showed them how serious perjury can be..

My Take on Domestic Spying ...

by Larry C. Johnson (bio below)

I suppose the average American, one who has never held a security clearance or handled NSA intelligence, is inclined to cut George W. Bush some slack. Only a crazy person would argue that Al Qaeda terrorists have a right of privacy in the United States. But that, my friends, is a canard. The issue is not about giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Instead, does this President, hell, any President, have the right to unilaterally decide what does and does not constitute a threat to national security? We are a Republic founded on the principle that the power of the Federal Government is limited. It does not matter if George W. Bush is sincere or his intentions benign. What matters is whether he has chosen to ignore the Fourth Amendment because he, and he alone, has decided that the end justifies the means.

As one who has had access to NSA material, I am completely puzzled by the refusal of the Bush Administration to seek FISA approval for what amounts to roving wiretaps.

Here is what I know for certain:

NSA can act like a giant vacuum cleaner, sucking in signals/communications from around the globe. NSA has a variety of platforms for collecting this intelligence. Some are in space, some are in the air, and some on the ground. Even with massive computer power, however, the NSA collection effort does not automatically produce usable intelligence. Conversations in Arabic or Chinese have to be translated before they can be used by analysts.

NSA collection is not a one time event. With each passing minute the NSA is gathering a bigger pile of info. If you don't exploit that information it is useless. Don't be surprised to discover that most of the info collected by the NSA is never exploited.

NSA can also do very precise, specific collection. The ideal scenario is to know when a person of interest (aka a target) is going to be talking on a phone, or at a meeting, or on a computer. If you have those details then the act of intercepting a conversation is a piece of cake. Unfortunately the U.S. Government rarely gets such tidbits.

It would also be useful to have the phone numbers and emails used by known bad guys. The President and his spinners have said that this is in fact one of the sources they are using to launch the NSA domestic surveillance activity. But even this explanation does not hold water. Why? Because if you have phone numbers/emails that were used by known terrorists there is not a FISA judge in the history of the program who would deny the Government a chance to find out what the terrorist pen pals were doing.

So what is Bush up to? I see at least two possibilities. First, they may be allowing unfettered data mining on domestic targets without probable cause. An old fashioned "fishing" trip. You cast out a net and pull it in, picking over the contents, and hoping you snared the oyster with the big pearl. This nonsense works in a Tom Clancy novel but not in the real world. Even with the most robust computer power you have no simple way to find "actionable intelligence".

Second, the source of the intel tips is tainted. If you are generating leads from persons being held in secret prisons or if the info is obtained thru torture, then it makes it difficult to make a truthful declaration before a judge. Why not lie to the FISA court? That's called perjury. I suspect this explains the real motive for the refusal of the Bush Administration to go the FISA route.

We are asked to accept on faith that this program is working wonders. Really? Then where is the proof. Where are the arrested terrorist suspects? Has even a single person in the United States been taken into custody because of this info? I believe the answer is no. At a minimum, the heads of the House and Senate intel committees should have been briefed on the successes, if there were any. The White House is silent on this issue for one simple reason--they don't have the goods. And, oh, by the way; Osama Bin Laden is still on the loose.

It is essential, therefore, that President Bush be held accountable by the Congress and the Judiciary. He is not a King. He is not unilaterally empowered to decided what is right and wrong. He is not entitled to use his own best judgment to determine which parts of the Constitution are acceptable or archaic. He is supposed to protect and defend it, not trash it.

..............................................................
Booman Tribune ~ What Is Bush Hiding?

1,001 uses of 'BlogThis' (continued)

Continuing on my previous post, I have just downloaded a new driver for my touchpad. I'm saving the link to my Blog (as draft usually but today I'll publish as an example)

Later, if I have problems with my touchpad I will know exactly where and when I got the driver for it.

Isn't it practical ?

Synaptics :: Drivers: " Windows 2000/XP v8.1.2"

1,001 uses of 'BlogThis' and the Google Toolbar

One of the reasons that makes it impossible for me to quit blogging, even when I'm in the middle of the bluest of my "What's the point of blogging" blues is the wonderful thing Blogger did when they invented the "Blog This" button.

What is the "Blog This" Button
It's a bookmark, a button that you can put in any browser toolbar, that allows you to, at the click of a button scoop up some content from the web page you are reading, it's URL and it posts it for you on your blogger.com blog. Better yet, it opens up a window for you so you can attach notes nd pictures to your blog entry too, and you don't need to publish right away, you can save it to publish and work on it later

How can you use the "Blog This" button
How can you use it ? Better ask how can you NOT use it. I just can't live without it, it is so usefule for all kinds of Web surfing activities. "Blog This" allied with Blogger.com excellent search for posts and Google and Technorati excellent blog search tools makes for a very powerful, jack of all trades, indispensable tool for any web surfer

Using "Blog This" to share bookmarks, use your bookmarks from anywhere on earth
Just like it's more modern cousin del.icio.us, Blogger.com blogs can be used to share bookmarks. Instead of bookmarking or typing stuff in del.icio.us I just click "Blog This" and save the URL. If it is interesting enough for my lawnorder political blog I write a 2-3 lines comment and just publish the bookmark. There, I'm sharing relevant bookmark about Bush's misdeeds with all that subscribe and read my blog.

If the bookmark is not pollitically related I just save it as draft w/o publishing. There, I have my very own private bookmark list, with comments, searchable at any time, immune to hard drive crashes and availabe at any computer that can surf the Web. Pretty neat huh ?

Using "Blog This" to write a To-Do list you can access from anywhere
The button opens up a window where you can write notes. A to do list is one of the things you can save as draft and access from any computer. No more fussing with disks and PC Anywhere or any of that complicated stuff. It's fast, simple and free.

Using "Blog This" as your spell checker
The button opens up a window where you can write and the window has a spell checker, a bold and an italics. So what, mail and Wordpad do it too, right ? Except that
a) "Blog this" opens much faster than Mail and other apps, and the button is right there on top of the comments box you are writting and want to spell check
b) Blogger can be accessed from any PC
c) It saves your stuff to a private, pasword protected blog or it publishes to your personal blog, while saving the url of the form you just filled for backup purposes

PS: Google toolbar, which now comes with "Blog This" also has a lightining fast spell checker.

Using "Blog This" to save info abut stuff you did online.
Out of ink for your inkjet so you can't print an online invoice ? Hihlight the relevant part and click on "Blog This". Add notes if you want and save as draft. It is now saved, searchable, private, password protected and available from any conputer. I save scraps of all kinds of stuff to my drafts: invoices, online forms, letters to the editor, ebay auction bids, etc... Sure you get a copy on your e-mail but on which PC ? Your home PC ? What about if you need it while at work ? Whith blogger you can access it from anywhere and better yet, it saves the URL of the invoice, or payment you made or software you downloaded to try, etc...

Using "Blog This" for online research
You spend 4 hours researching for a school paper and you print out all the hot leads but later you realize you saw something important and forgot to write it down. Bumer! With "Blog This" you can effortlessly save all URLs you visited, together with some small notes about the page. There, it is saved, private, searchable, accessible from anywhere and if you don't need it later just delete it. If I want to investigate / think about that page's content a bit more before posting it to my blog I always save the URL and some notes to my drafts. Later on while searching I found many golden articles that I had read in passing and now are exactly what I need to debunk a GOP lie!!!

Using "Blog This" to do some stealth research
If someone at work or in another forum gives you a good link and you publish it right away in your blog, that person may suspect who you are in the blog world. A lot of times I save the good links as draft and publish them only a couple of days later so the moms I talk to in my stint at a parenthood forum don't suspect I'm so rabidly anti-Bush as this liberal leftie "lawnorder" blogging fiend (*). It is a perfect way to blog "undercover" while at the midst of red state Bush zombies!

Using "Blog This" as your "trophy showcase"
Every time a diary of mine got top recs at kos, MLW, Booman or other places I saved the URL and text to blogger list. My blog readers may think it's boring so I usually save it to draft, but it is always there for me, searchable and private, for my to gaze upon endlessly ;-)
And the best part is that I can save accolades I got on real life, at work, at school and in my on line persona, and it is all there for me, accessible at any computer.


Those are just some of the uses I find for "Blog This" and Blogger.com. I'm sure you will find more!

Law

(*) - Yes, I am liberal and proud of it, and the moms there do know I don't like Bush. I keep my silence about my blog and my views there mainly because it is useless to talk politics to most moms at the forum I'm in. They are so indocrinated against "lib'urals" that they shut you off at the first mention of a TV station that isn't Fox or a newspaper that isn't published by Rev Moon or Murdoch. But they are still very nice to talk about temper tantrums, potty training and such so I am part of their forum..

Google Toolbar 'BlogThis' Rankles Rivals

Daily Kos: A Reasonable Suspicion of Illegality

While taking about Bush spying on us, General Hayden made a remark that the 4th Amendment didn't include a probable cause standard ... The admission is very damning - even Bushies admit that a reasonable suspicion standard with respect to non-U.S. citizens is probably unconstitutional - Yet the administration now applies that same unconstitutional standard to US citizens?

A Reasonable Suspicion of Illegality
by georgia10
Tue Jan 24, 2006 at 04:12:25 PM PDT

The first thing that struck me when General Hayden made the ignorant observation that the Fourth Amendment didn't include a probable cause standard was that someone needed to tattoo the Bill of Rights on his chest, backwards, so he could read it every time he looked in the mirror in the morning. The second thing that struck me about his insistence that a "reasonable suspicion" standard prevails over probable cause for the spying program was that this Administration and the Congress already rejected a reasonable suspicion standard.

In 2002, Republican Senator DeWine introduced an amendment to the PATRIOT ACT that would have lowered the FISA warrant standard for non-U.S. citizens from probable cause to "reasonable suspicion." The DeWine amendment, S. 2659, was rejected in Committee. Glenn Greenwald has a must-read, excellent post on the DeWine amendment here. DeWine's amendment would have lowered the standard ONLY for non-U.S. citizens. The administration expressed serious misgiving about the constitutionality of DeWine's amendment. In the end, his amendment did not pass.

The admission that Bush's spying program uses a "reasonable suspicion" standard rather than a "probable cause" standard is explosive and damning. Why? Because the Bush administration knew--indeed, took the position--that a reasonable suspicion standard with respect to non-U.S. citizens was probably unconstitutional. Yet the administration now applies that same unconstitutional standard to United States citizens?

In the summer of 2002--well after Bush's spying program was already secretly implemented- the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence held a hearing on the DeWine amendment. (Hearing Report PDF) What transpired at that hearing proves that the Bush administration (a) knew that wiretaps of United States citizens are, pursuant to the Constitution, always subject to a probable cause standard; and (b) Congress explicitly rejected a lower standard for non-U.S. citizens.

DeWine himself limited his amendment to apply only to non-U.S. citizens, recognizing that "we must be cautious not to endorse an overly permissive use of the surveillance powers of FISA." The Committee heard testimony from the administration's top lawyers, and from top legal scholars in the field of eavesdropping and criminal law. ...
Daily Kos: A Reasonable Suspicion of Illegality

White House Got Early Warning on Katrina

White House Got Early Warning on Katrina

Washington Post - Jan 24, 2006; Page A02

In the 48 hours before Hurricane Katrina hit, the White House received detailed warnings about the storm's likely impact, including eerily prescient predictions of breached levees, massive flooding, and major losses of life and property, documents show.

A 41-page assessment by the Department of Homeland Security's National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center (NISAC), was delivered by e-mail to the White House's "situation room," the nerve center where crises are handled, at 1:47 a.m. on Aug. 29, the day the storm hit, according to an e-mail cover sheet accompanying the document.

The NISAC paper warned that a storm of Katrina's size would "likely lead to severe flooding and/or levee breaching" and specifically noted the potential for levee failures along Lake Pontchartrain. It predicted economic losses in the tens of billions of dollars, including damage to public utilities and industry that would take years to fully repair. Initial response and rescue operations would be hampered by disruption of telecommunications networks and the loss of power to fire, police and emergency workers, it said.

In a second document, also obtained by The Washington Post, a computer slide presentation by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, prepared for a 9 a.m. meeting on Aug. 27, two days before Katrina made landfall, compared Katrina's likely impact to that of "Hurricane Pam," a fictional Category 3 storm used in a series of FEMA disaster-preparedness exercises simulating the effects of a major hurricane striking New Orleans. But Katrina, the report warned, could be worse.

The hurricane's Category 4 storm surge "could greatly overtop levees and protective systems" and destroy nearly 90 percent of city structures, the FEMA report said. It further predicted "incredible search and rescue needs (60,000-plus)" and the displacement of more than a million residents.

The NISAC analysis accurately predicted the collapse of floodwalls along New Orleans's Lake Pontchartrain shoreline, an event that the report described as "the greatest concern." The breach of two canal floodwalls near the lake was the key failure that left much of central New Orleans underwater and accounted for the bulk of Louisiana's 1,100 Katrina-related deaths.

The documents shed new light on the extent on the administration's foreknowledge about Katrina's potential for unleashing epic destruction on New Orleans and other Gulf Coast cities and towns. President Bush, in a televised interview three days after Katrina hit, suggested that the scale of the flooding in New Orleans was unexpected. "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did anticipate a serious storm," Bush said in a Sept. 1 interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."

The reports echo warnings given around the same time by Max Mayfield, head of the National Hurricane Center, who began sounding the alarm when forecasters first placed Katrina on a collision with the Gulf Coast on the evening of Aug. 26. But the FEMA and NISAC reports provided much more detail and covered a wider range of possible consequences, from damaged ports and oil terminals to spikes in energy prices.

The White House declined to comment yesterday on the specifics of the reports..

White House Got Early Warning on Katrina

Daily Kos: Confirmed: Bush warned about Katrina beforehand

Just this week we found out that several departments specifically warned the White House and predicted the city would be flooded before the storm hit:

[Link] In the 48 hours before Hurricane Katrina hit, the White House received detailed warnings about the storm's likely impact, including eerily prescient predictions of breached levees, massive flooding, and major losses of life and property, documents show.

Daily Kos: Somewhere Over the Wingnut Rainbow

Bush's NSA spying uncovers Bin Laden plans to strike inside US

So Bush goes on vactation...

Darksyde at Kos has an excellent point: "Hoping they can protect us from anything, let alone nukes or nerve gas, is wishful thinking in the extreme, considering they couldn't protect the residents of the gulf coast from standing water."

What makes Bushies convinced Bush and his gang will use - for protecting US - any of the illegal intelligence they have been gathering ?

After receiving a Presidential Briefing about Bin Laden's plans to attack he went on vacation. After being warned about Katrina he stayed on vacation... What makes you think Bush willl work in the future dear neocon ? -- law


Somewhere Over the Wingnut Rainbow
by DarkSyde

Let's pretend for a moment, with all the ideality of an exceptionally creative five-year old, that the NSA domestic spying program has not been misused or mismanaged....

Bush & Co. were warned an attack was coming in a Presidential Daily Briefing with the (Apparently confusing and cryptic) title of "Bin Laden determined to strike in the US" a month in advance of 9-11. Condi clarified that with something along the lines that the PDB didn't really mean bin Laden is determined to strike in the US, only that bin Laden is determined to strike in the US. You can see there's a world of difference hinging on what the meaning of the word is is. Understandably then, with that confusion over italics, the White House had to extend their vacation to reflect on the mysterious is. After much brush clearing and meditation on nearby fairways and greens, they finally concluded the best course of action would be to cover up the fact that they received that glaring red flag in the first place.

The White House and the Republican House and Senate were warned, extensively, that not strengthening the levees in New Orleans was a gamble, the solution they came to was to slash funding for the whole project. They were warned over and over that allowing the wetland buffers to disappear would make the impact of any storm worse, they happily ignored that and enacted policies that accelerated the process.

They were warned days ahead of time that Katrina was gonna be the 'big one' by pretty much anyone who knew anything. Including the senior NOAA storm meteorologists, who were sitting in the Miami Office watching Katrina on the screen issuing urgent bulletins full of terms like 'unprecedented strength', "catastrophic', and 'record storm surge', while telling the national media it was going to be worse than any storm in living memory. The danger was hugely obvious; the storm clouds could literally be seen from the moon. What was the White House thinking?

Someday I'll wish upon a star. And wake up where the clouds are far behind me ...

As the flood waters first ravaged the coast and then filled up New Orleans, the White House did nothing, they were all on vacation. Well, maybe they did something; Bush did do a little brush clearing and some guitar strumm'n. A vacationing Condi thought it would be a good time catch a Broadway Show and go shopping for new shoes. Michael Brown, head of FEMA, was bragging that he looked like a fashion God. The Vice President was 'fishing in Wyoming', and as luck would have it, the veep was either completely cut off from civilization, or had hung out the 'Gone Fish'n: Do Not Disturb Even in the Event of National Catastrophe or Nuclear Attack' sign on the cabin door.

And of course, once again, after the fact, Bush and the whole crew showed up days late and a few tens of billions of dollars short. And of course, once again, he and his bumbling cronies du jour proceeded to appear in a series of hastily scheduled interviews and photo-ops in operation Cover Bush's Ass. Meanwhile, people stranded in apocalyptic disaster zones fought over rancid candy bars and soggy loaves of moldy bread; AKA "looting". The tragicomic highlights included Bush claiming 'No one could have anticipated' the disaster on national television and later assuring us that "Brownie was doing a heckuva a job", a few weeks before Brownie resigned under a black cloud of disgrace for utterly screwing up the job.

I'm curious, in a lab rat kind of way, about the behavior and internal mental processing of people who think it's just dandy to flush the Bill of Rights down the toilet, ignore the law, and turn over our precious liberties to any administration's arbitrary judgment. Most especially this White House given their record of failure piled on top of failure. Hoping they can protect us from anything, let alone nukes or nerve gas, is wishful thinking in the extreme, considering they couldn't protect the residents of the gulf coast from standing water. Forget about protection, I'd be happy if they just voluntarily told the goddamn truth once, without having to wait for it to leak out of someone's slimy ass months later, or be subpoenaed out of their zombie-like death grip after two years of legal maneuvering. In fact, strike even that modest hope; it would be a nice change of pace if Bush Inc. said nothing at all instead of blatantly lying from the get go.

So again, for all you right-wing painty-waists lurking (And we know you are) if you can come out from hiding under your bed in fear of Osama for just a few minutes, I'd like to know: Where have you been the last five years? What leads you to believe this cabal of incompetent bunglers would react in a timely, effective, and appropriate manner? Even in the fantastically improbable over-the-rainbow scenario that the illegal domestic portion of the spying program was not misused and actually turned up some pertinent information?


Daily Kos: Somewhere Over the Wingnut Rainbow

Booman Tribune ~ "Pie in the Sky"

pollsters have told us for years that the Palestinians want PEACE, like the Israelis are said to want peace, but in neither case have they ever convincingly told us WHICH PEACE either group wants.

"Pie in the Sky" - by Patrick Lang

"We will continue to fight against the occupation..." Hamas speaker in Gaza.

Occupation---- Interesting word. The sweet in nature and soft of head have heard that kind of language a lot from Palestinians (and generally heard in it what they wished). "All we want is our land back.." It took me some time to understand that what is really meant is all of Palestine, all of it, maybe a piece now, a sliver later. Maybe it will take more generations of struggle and death. "I will struggle and live in misery and pain, but my grandson will live free in his own land." I have heard that many times, from Muslims, from Palestinian Christians.

The "occupied" have a certain right to be deceptive and disingenuous in pursuit of what they see as FREEDOM. A lot of us in the West still have a remarkable naive and patronizing attitude towards the Arabs, and the Palestinians are not made exceptions to this rule. We still think of them as essentially childlike and waiting to have revealed to them the "truths" of our civilization, which we "know" must constitute the unitary path to the future and progress of mankind.

The exit polls told us this would not happen? Surprise! People routinely lie to pollsters in the Arab World. Why? It is because knowledge is power and why should one give power to strangers?

So, when we find that they are filled with guile and skillful at manipulating words to tell us what they see we desire to believe, then we are surprised. Delightful! Mufaja'a ya al-Ajanib! The same pollsters have told us for years that the Palestinians want PEACE, like the Israelis are said to want peace, but in neither case have they ever convincingly told us WHICH PEACE either group wants.

Now we are predictably told that Hamas are not really religious-nationalist fanatics (seemingly mutually exclusive but nevertheless doable). No, rather, they are the next wave of negotiators who will come to the table once they realize that they can't collect the garbage on time and that the Americans are unhappy.

"There'll be pie in the sky bye and by, bye and bye........."


Booman Tribune ~ "Pie in the Sky"

ABC News: ABC's Woodruff, Cameraman Injured in Iraq

Deny this Dickheads!

ABC News: ABC's Woodruff, Cameraman Injured in Iraq

Booman Tribune ~ ABC's Bob Woodruff Wounded in Iraq

Insurgence on it's last throes my arse!!! The truth eventually gets undeniable...

I hope that they are doing OK! Such courage is not common among our Bush brown nosing media-- law


Bob Woodruff was named co-anchor of ABC News' World News Tonight in January 2006.

Woodruff also contributes reports to Nightline, and other ABC News broadcasts. Most recently he covered the presidential campaign of Senator John Edwards.

He has also reported extensively on the continuing unrest in Iraq from Baghdad, Najaf, Nassariya and Basra. During the initial invasion Woodruff reported from the front lines as an embedded journalist with the First Marine Division, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.

and:

"ABC World News Tonight" co-anchor Bob Woodruff [PHOTO ABOVE] and his cameraman, Doug Vogt [PHOTO LEFT], were seriously injured after their convoy was hit by an improvised explosive device in Taji, Iraq, today.

Woodruff and Vogt are undergoing surgery at the U.S. military hospital in Balad. Both men suffered head injuries. Woodruff sustained shrapnel wounds and Vogt was hit by shrapnel in the head and suffered a broken shoulder.

Woodruff, Vogt and their four-man team were traveling in a convoy with Iraqi security forces. They had been embedded with the 4th Infantry Division and were in a mechanized vehicle when the explosive went off. The exposion was followed by small arms fire.

"This is very common over there now," said White House correspondent Martha Raddatz on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" today. "These attacks are planned, and this [the small arms attack] is a secondary attack. Sometimes when the medical personnel come in, they have small arms fire following up on that," said Raddatz, who also covered the Pentagon for years and has had entensive experience in Iraq.

Woodruff and his crew had been traveling in a U.S. armored humvee, but then transferred into an Iraqi vehicle — which was believed to be a much softer target for attacks.

"It was a mechanized vehicle," Raddatz said. "At least it wasn't one of the pickup trucks they usually drive around in. They were in the lead vehicle, and they were up in the hatch, so they were exposed."

Raddatz said both Woodruff and Vogt were protected. They were wearing body armor, helmets and ballistic glasses. Woodruff and Vogt were taken by medevac to the Green Zone to receive treatment. They were then flown by helicopter to Balad which is about a 20-minute ride from Baghdad, said Raddatz.

"There are very good doctors, the best medical care you can possibly get, in Balad," said Raddatz.

Booman Tribune ~ ABC Reporter Wounded in Iraq

My Left Wing :: Video blogging: Get voters while they are young, don't let GOP rewrite history!

My diary at MLW

Why MLW is perfect to start Video Blogging
MLW already has built in support for video, a key difference from other left leaning group forums. My Left Wing uses a different software from Kos, ET, and Booman. The SoapBlox platform used here allows people to embedd video in a diary, which Scoop (Kos, ET, Booman) and php scripts that power most other forums can not.

Alternatively, the Soapblox guru can create another "regional" forum just for the young and young at heart, and see if we get some interest!

By November 2008 we can have 1,000,000 "Farenheit 9/11" on the Web, displaying the truth Fox News and it's sisters don't want to show


Why catering to the Young Voter is important
- People can vote since they are 16
- The GOP is after the young crowd too
- Young people rebel against their liberal parents & teachers as part of growing up

GOP is rewriting history
It took Michael Moore to show how cowardly and ridiculously Bush acted in 9/11. The media had already "forgotten" and had been portraying Bush as John Wayne already. The visual, unadulterated, unvarnished truth of those 7 minutes of befuddled stupidity from our Nation's CinC did not allow the MSM to rewrite THAT part of it. But they keep on trying... Just 4 months ago Katrina's woes were in daytime television but the MSM and Fox are trying to tell a whole different story w/ no looting, no tragedy and good competent work "unjustly portrayed" by the "lib'ural media"

The next time you see a conservative talking about "Katrina Blame Game" show them this 3 links

Collage of Katrina clips and pics
Katrina Blame Game

And my favorite, which you can see right here on MLW just by clicking at the arrow:

URL for the video above, to put on those "old, technologically impaired" blogs like Kos and Booman ;-)
http://www.youtube.com/?v=vA62ojmwvi0
lawnorder :: Video blogging: Get voters while they are young, don't let GOP rewrite history!
If you look at the Typical MLW, Dkos and other top liberal blogs you will be hard pressed to find anyone under 21. And that's a tragedy that has contributed for GOP dominance. It is bad for the following reasons:

People can vote since they are 16
If we ignore the younger voters, or worse take for granted that younger voters will vote liberal we will lose that famous 100-200 votes that have been deciding elections lately.

The GOP is after the young crowd too
Their campaign is a lot more insidious than the pretty obvious "Joe Camel" that tobacco used to lure the young to smoke. Conservatives have a "coolness impairment" so they have trouble making conservatism cool, but they can pay handsomely for the comic books / cartoon / Hollywood conglomerates to put their message on the cool products, just as they got the entire MSM to repeat their platitudes.. Fox's Murdoch has bought several online communities where the young hang out...

Young people rebel against their parents & teachers
The kids of baby boomers may stray out of the liberal leanings of their parents just out of normal teenage rebellion. Kids and younger adults also have a vast majority of liberal teachers and professors to deal with, who can make them hate democrats, like this ex- conservative describes:

Daily Kos: Another wingnut to progressive tale:

When I was in college, I struggled with having an uber-liberal lesbian advisor...

My Left Wing :: Video blogging: Get voters while they are young, don't let GOP rewrite history!

YouTube - Neo-Con Trol

Great video!

YouTube - Neo-Con Trol

The horrors of Katrina - Video

Yes Virginia, there was violence. Don't let GOP rewrite history!!! Never forget!



YouTube - Katrina Video

BloggerAnnon

I just blogrolled this guy and he is quitting ? No matter, I'll bet he will blog again, like me, Soj, Billmon and many others that swear off blogging for one reason or other but later find out they just can't quit the habit!

We should found a BA - Bloggers Anonymous to reminisce about our vain attempts to quit blogging and posting in forums...

And a BloggerAnnon for us blogger readers that crave our daily fix of excellent bloggers who left. Billmon left many in mourning for a whole year when he quit. So did Soj.
Thank heavens both came back to enrich us with their great blog pieces again!

I wonder if Eduwonk will find it as hard to quit as we BA members did... And if his readers will miss him as much as I missed Billmon and Soj -- law


Signing off
Many thanks to Eduwonk for letting me blog in this space. My mailbox today is a reminder how influential this blog has become. I'm sorry I didn't get around to talking more about how we can identify the best and weakest teachers and what we should do when we do. I've co-authored a piece, out soon here, that will do that.

Looking over my posts the last two days, I wonder if I'm the has-been who never had. Hope not!

Thanks for reading.

-RG

Eduwonk.com

Eduwonk.com - The new frontier for education reform?

The new frontier for education reform?
This story is from another era by blog standards--almost a year ago--but I've been curious to see more discussion about it. Peter Orszag pointed me to this a while ago, from star economist Roland Fryer ($):

His most ambitious project, which grew out of his belief in the power of environment, is an experiment designed to see if incentives can inspire minority students to improve their grades. For all the talk about education reform, Fryer says, he feels that one party is being overlooked: the students themselves. ''I'm troubled by the fact we're treating kids as inanimate objects,'' he says. ''They have behavior, too. They respond to incentives, too.''

Fryer recently ran a pilot experiment with third graders at P.S. 70 in the Bronx. If a child achieved a certain score on her reading test or improved by a certain percentage, she got a small prize.....

[Joel] Klein asked Fryer if he might be interested in expanding his incentive experiment into 15 or so low-achieving schools. At P.S. 70, the rewards had been pizza parties or field trips. This time around, Fryer planned to give cash -- $10 per good test for third graders and $20 for seventh graders.

Isn't Fryer right about the logic of education reform? We say our public schools should incorporate incentives for excellence, much as other institutions do. NCLB has created more incentives for schools to perform. Eduwonk and others are working hard to create more incentives for teachers to perform. So isn't this the next step--incentives for kids to perform?

The usual approach is high-stakes tests. But isn't it also true that the prospect of being left back doesn't provide much incentive for kids who (a) are too young to grasp all the consequences of being held back or (b) aren't expecting to graduate in the first place? Pizza parties, gift cards, and cash could reach many more kids--and with smaller social costs than retention.

The article describes Fryer's effort to answer questions from principals.

Fryer addressed each issue as best he could. But one question kept coming back at him: if we start paying students to test well, aren't we sending the message that learning is not its own reward?

Playing the piano eventually becomes its own reward, but countless parents have used every kind of bribe to encourage their kids to practice more. Nothing wrong with that: The kids don't need to love piano while they're kids; they just need to learn it so they can love it when the time comes. And reading, unlike piano, is something kids need to learn whether they ever love it or not.

Will be very interesting to see what comes of this.


Eduwonk.com

TPMCafe Debunking the School Voucher Myth

The obvious factor is always ignored by Voucher supporters: WHO is going to a school accounts for a large part of the results that school gets from it's students, i.e., schools full of poor minority students do worse than private schools but poor minority students tend to do worse even if they attend a private school. Vouchers aren't the solution, fixing the public schools is the solution. -- law

Inputs and Outputs

By Matthew Yglesias | bio

Here's a study (full study, NYT summary, relevant blog post) showing pretty comprehensively what a lot of earlier research has indicated -- private school students do better than public school students in America. They do better, that is, until you introduce some fairly basic demographic controls at which point they often do worse and certainly don't show any systemic superiority. The anti-vouchers point here is sufficiently obvious that I won't belabor it.

There's a broader lesson/problem here for almost all efforts at educational reform, namely that study after study of education at almost all levels tends to point in this direction -- educational outcomes vary widely, but almost all of this is accounted for by the differences in inputs. Socioeconomic variables account for a huge proportion of the variance in outcomes, not only between whole schools (i.e., schools full of poor minority students do worse than schools full of middle class white ones) but also within schools (i.e., poor minority students tend to do worse even if they attend a school mostly full of middle class white kids).

Roughly speaking, as a society we've given our schools the task of trying to ameliorate America's huge levels of inequality, but education simply seems to be inadquate to the task. Nobody knows a reliable method of making schools that are capable of overcoming disadvantages that kids from certain families face..

Iglesias adds what works:
One thing that does seem to work pretty well is having the government offer bribes to "at risk" kids to do better in school. This tends to make people queasy for a variety of reasons, but the empirical evidence suggests it works and I think we should try it

TPMCafe || Inputs and Outputs

1/28/2006

Tomorrow - A Singapore blog community

Cool, an apolitical Daily Kos for the our liberty impaired cyber cousins of the East. I wish them good luck and maybe they will give us some pointers later when Bushies manage to implement censorship here!

PS: Note how sexuality is more open than in a teen blog here. Bread and Circus. When you close the door to political and philosophical talk you gotta let people vent out steam some way! -- law


Any opinions expressed belongs to the original blog author and does not represent the views of ..er..we no formal leh? how? whatever, we no opinion on any subject publish here. (Formal Disclaimer)


News from Editors

* Tomorrow.sg's Year of the Dog Celebrations
* C'mon Let's All Bash Tomorrow.sg
* Idledays Fund
* Farewell, Idler
* Christmas Party

( Read more Editor's News )
Popular Entries (Reads)

* Sarong Party Girl Un-saronged
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* Exclusive preview of MSN Live Messenger
* IT'S CHINESE NEW YEAR YET AGAIN
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* Clapbangkiss Exposé
* Does Tomorrow have a Tomorrow?
* Brainwashing Sexuality Talk: Celebrate Life!
* "Once upon a Tomorrow"
* Review: Ministry of Soun


Tomorrow

Xiaxue.blogspot.com - Everyone's reading it.

And the lady herself, in all her polemic glory.

Doesn't she look like someone who would get Bushies from America's Taliban fundie churches freaked out ? -- law


Xiaxue.blogspot.com - Everyone's reading it.

Xiaxue gets hammered, real problems get ignored.

Swiftfire blogs:

I couldn't help but start weeping again, at the indifference my countrymen have shown towards the 'larger' problems, the social ills that plague our world, that instead of voicing their doubts about BoingBoing, they would rather choose focus their attention on Fireangel's return. Perhaps I am destined to do everything by myself, after all, am I not the only person constantly voicing out the shortcomings of Blogsmalaysia? Am I not the only one who wishes to see some of these problems being addressed and hopefully rectified despite knowing that it's entirely a thankless task, and that what I say will most likely be ignored? It also tears my heart to see my friends over the causeway dedicating so much effort and time in trying to topple Xiaxue, and condemning the editorial integrity of Tomorrow.sg, and NOT lash out...

[the ills swiftfire is blogging about ? Cut and pasting on blogs.. But who can blame him for worrying about THAT in a world gone mad like ours ? Even Microsoft and Google partner with his country's censors! There you go guys, nail down all the outstanding characters in your culture.. that would get you free.. NOT! -- law]

The Great Swifty Speaketh!: Everytime BoingBoing Posts An Entry, A Little Kitten Dies.

Xiaxue, The Paris Hilton of the blogosphere - The Net is Dead

Here is the blogger that got in trouble for some since sincere (though a bit off-colored) remarks on her blog and might go to jail -- law

I've never really looked into which blogs are actually in Technorati's top 100. I never bothered with the top 100 because I believe becoming a top 100 Technorati blogger is simply not going to happen with the narrow topical scope I have with this particular weblog. Nevertheless, I checked out what's 'hot' according to Technorati which is how I found Xiaxue.

Wendy Cheng a.k.a. Xiaxue
Xiaxue, a real 'blogstar'

Xiaxue's blog has a respectable top 40 position on Technorati. Quite an accomplishment for a 21 year old girl from Singapore who's simply blogging about her personal life. Xiaxue has gathered a massive amount of loyal fans around her weblog and her postings attract the highest amount of comments I've ever seen on any weblog. Her weblog is running at a continuous +50k pageviews per day which is a truly quite impressive number for a strictly personal weblog. I think I've hit the 10k mark only once in the existence of this website, caused by a front page entry on Digg. This impressive amount of visitors allows Wendy Cheng a.k.a. Xiaxue to make a living solely out of running this one weblog. Darren, eat your heart out dude! It's hard to imagine for us mere mortals that we could earn a full income just by writing a couple of blog postings every week. And mind you, these aren't the postings that require hard work, research or good writing skills. None of that. They're simply snapshots from days in the life of a 21 years old Singapore girl.
The vain beauty queen

Xiaxue presents herself as if she's the beauty goddess of the blogosphere. On any picture you'll ever see on her website she looks good. Too good actually.

[you look pretty Xiaxue] Oh really? Well, thank you. But do not give the credit of those looks to me! Give it to Adobe Photoshop. My pictures are all enhanced (and trust me, I am good at it), so minus 40% and you get the real thing. =DXiaxue's FAQ


Reality v Photoshop:

real life


Photshop

[she looks better w/o Photoshop -- law]

a blogstar like Xiaxue is bound to have enemies...

Hate sites

Just like any rockstar, a 'blogstar' is bound to have enemies. There are several 'hate sites' to be found on the internet. Let's list some examples:

* Why are you worshipping the ground she blogs on?
* We hate Xiaxue
* Ban on Wendy Cheng

Sites that may or may not be maintained by people holding a grudge against Xiaxue for whatever reason. These sites either spread 'hate' against Wendy or even try to have her weblog taken offline alltogether. Whether these sites are 'real' is unknown. One thing is sure, they drive even more traffic to Wendy's blog..

Closing notes

Whatever you may think of Xiaxue, she pulled off something many bloggers can only dream of: becoming a celebrity in (a part of) the blogosphere. In addition to that her weblog generates enough revenues to make a living out of it which means she can party 24/7 as long as she manages to crank out the occasional posting. Her weblog is an interesting piece of 'cyber culture' placed in a part of the blogosphere ..

[that is probably she is being hammered down by the PC poloice, she stood up tall.. A nail get driven, as they say in Asia, or in English: "Those who stand out will be put back in their proper place with a hammer". Yuck -- law]
Xiaxue, The Paris Hilton of the blogosphere - The Net is Dead

Singapore: Where the PC police wears badges

A teen aged version of Wonkette (or rather the opposite since XiaXue has been blogging longer than W) gets in trouble with the Politically Correct crowd, which in Singapore can shut down her blog and take her to jail.. Poor kid! -- law


Jan 29, 2006
Netizen petitions against blog

POPULAR blogger Xiaxue has come under fire for accusing foreign workers of molestation at the Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve street parties in Orchard Road.

The 21-year-old, whose real name is Wendy Cheng, said in a Dec 28 posting that foreign workers are 'usually the ones' to molest 'because they are not in their own country, and they think they can get away with it'.

It has prompted an angry netizen, full-time model Mia Tan, 25, to start a petition condemning the remarks and to spur the relevant authorities to take action. It has attracted more than 400 signatures so far.

Miss Cheng had specified the nationality of the foreign workers in an earlier entry, but replaced it with a general term after she was lambasted online...

The Internet community condemned the posts as 'racist', 'irresponsible' and 'insensitive'. Some called for her blog, which attracts over 20,000 visitors daily - mostly teens - to be shut down.

Mr Benjamin Koh, 29, who was jailed a month last year for making racist remarks, also e-mailed the Ministry of Home Affairs to complain...

.. racial comments are sensitive in Singapore and youths need to take extra care when expressing these views publicly on their blog, said Mr Poh Yeang Cherng, manager at Touch Community Services, which runs cyber wellness programmes in schools.

Social psychologist Koh Cheok Eng said Miss Cheng's readers may see people as foreigners versus Singaporeans, low versus high social status, men versus women.

The Media Development Authority said it has not received any complaint on Miss Cheng's postings
.

[Doesn't this last sentence chill you to the core ? Imagine Bushianity with this kind of power... -- law]

Ugly Foo Diary: An article from The Straits Times - 29 Jan 2006

MiamiHerald.com | 12/26/2005 | Fear destroys what bin Laden could not

One wonders if bin Laden didn't win after all. He ruined the America that existed on 9/11. But he had help.

If, back in 2001, anyone had told me that 4 years after bin Laden's attack our president would admit that he broke U.S. law -- and then expect the American people to congratulate him for it -- I would have presumed the girders of our very Republic had crumbled.


Fear destroys what bin Laden could not
ROBERT STEINBACK
rsteinback@MiamiHerald.com

One wonders if Osama bin Laden didn't win after all. He ruined the America that existed on 9/11. But he had help.

If, back in 2001, anyone had told me that four years after bin Laden's attack our president would admit that he broke U.S. law against domestic spying and ignored the Constitution -- and then expect the American people to congratulate him for it -- I would have presumed the girders of our very Republic had crumbled.

Had anyone said our president would invade a country and kill 30,000 of its people claiming a threat that never, in fact, existed, then admit he would have invaded even if he had known there was no threat -- and expect America to be pleased by this -- I would have thought our nation's sensibilities and honor had been eviscerated.

If I had been informed that our nation's leaders would embrace torture as a legitimate tool of warfare, hold prisoners for years without charges and operate secret prisons overseas -- and call such procedures necessary for the nation's security -- I would have laughed at the folly of protecting human rights by destroying them.

If someone had predicted the president's staff would out a CIA agent as revenge against a critic, defy a law against domestic propaganda by bankrolling supposedly independent journalists and commentators, and ridicule a 37-year Marine Corps veteran for questioning U.S. military policy -- and that the populace would be more interested in whether Angelina is about to make Brad a daddy -- I would have called the prediction an absurd fantasy.

That's no America I know, I would have argued. We're too strong, and we've been through too much, to be led down such a twisted path.

What is there to say now?

All of these things have happened. And yet a large portion of this country appears more concerned that saying ''Happy Holidays'' could be a disguised attack on Christianity.

I evidently have a lot poorer insight regarding America's character than I once believed, because I would have expected such actions to provoke -- speaking metaphorically now -- mobs with pitchforks and torches at the White House gate. I would have expected proud defiance of anyone who would suggest that a mere terrorist threat could send this country into spasms of despair and fright so profound that we'd follow a leader who considers the law a nuisance and perfidy a privilege.

Never would I have expected this nation -- which emerged stronger from a civil war and a civil rights movement, won two world wars, endured the Depression, recovered from a disastrous campaign in Southeast Asia and still managed to lead the world in the principles of liberty -- would cower behind anyone just for promising to ``protect us.''

President Bush recently confirmed that he has authorized wiretaps against U.S. citizens on at least 30 occasions and said he'll continue doing it. His justification? He, as president -- or is that king? -- has a right to disregard any law, constitutional tenet or congressional mandate to protect the American people.

Is that America's highest goal -- preventing another terrorist attack? Are there no principles of law and liberty more important than this? Who would have remembered Patrick Henry had he written, ``What's wrong with giving up a little liberty if it protects me from death?''

Bush would have us excuse his administration's excesses in deference to the ''war on terror'' -- a war, it should be pointed out, that can never end. Terrorism is a tactic, an eventuality, not an opposition army or rogue nation. If we caught every person guilty of a terrorist act, we still wouldn't know where tomorrow's first-time terrorist will strike. Fighting terrorism is a bit like fighting infection -- even when it's beaten, you must continue the fight or it will strike again.

Are we agreeing, then, to give the king unfettered privilege to defy the law forever? It's time for every member of Congress to weigh in: Do they believe the president is above the law, or bound by it?

Bush stokes our fears, implying that the only alternative to doing things his extralegal way is to sit by fitfully waiting for terrorists to harm us. We are neither weak nor helpless. A proud, confident republic can hunt down its enemies without trampling legitimate human and constitutional rights.

Ultimately, our best defense against attack -- any attack, of any sort -- is holding fast and fearlessly to the ideals upon which this nation was built. Bush clearly doesn't understand or respect that. Do we?

MiamiHerald.com | 12/26/2005 | Fear destroys what bin Laden could not

Just some thoughts: Very cool

He liked my flag pic! Wee! -- law

Just some thoughts: Very cool

Just some thoughts: A recent IP mailing-list post

A new "blog find", blogger Brian reccomends the following article:

Fear destroys what Bin Laden could not

By Rober Steinback

Fear destroys what bin Laden could not
ROBERT STEINBACK
rsteinback@MiamiHerald.com

One wonders if Osama bin Laden didn't win after all. He ruined the
America that existed on 9/11. But he had help.

If, back in 2001, anyone had told me that four years after bin Laden's attack our president would admit that he broke U.S. law against domestic spying and ignored the Constitution -- and then expect the American people to congratulate him for it -- I would have presumed the girders of our very Republic had crumbled..


Just some thoughts: A recent IP mailing-list post

Guardian: UK to deploy 5,700 Afghanistan troops

Wow ! Sounds like the shiite is about to hit the fan on Afghanistan, doesn't it ? 5,700 troops ?

Me wonders what the British know that we don't about Afghanistan...

Almost 6,000 men ? Where will they take it from ? Iraq ? WTF !??!?

Another FUBAR War for Bush... Maybe by the time he gets to Iran he will figure out how to win one.. NOT! -- law


A peak of 5,700 British troops will be deployed in Afghanistan in the coming months, the defence secretary, John Reid, announced today.

Mr Reid admitted the troops - who will be on a mission to protect civilians and deter terrorists - would face risks, but told the Commons the bigger than anticipated deployment was needed to help curb the huge narcotics industry and provide security.

The UK's military presence in Afghanistan, which currently stands at around 850 troops, will increase dramatically, with around 3,300 extra combat troops being sent to the lawless southern province of Helmand by July.


Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | UK to deploy 5,700 Afghanistan troops

EuroPDB: not even North Korea executes children

Soj blogs:
In case you're wondering why the U.S. won't sign it, it's because [the treaty bans executing kids who are under 18]

Not Iran, not China, not Myanmar (Burma), not Zimbabwe, not Saudi Arabia, not even North Korea executes children. Only the U.S. and Sudan...

Soj also mentions

I did a Google search and not one, not one western media source covered this.



European Tribune - EuroPDB: January 27, 2006

US and Somalia only countries that refuse to sign Child Bill of Rights

If it was an unborn you would hear the crocodile tears of the reich wing, but since we are talking about real, fully alive children they can care less if the kids get raped, brutalized, forced to join the army at 7... Compassionate Conservatism: only exists to force others to do as GOP says. When it costs the GOP a dime, forget it! -- law


Jolie 'ashamed' over US stalling on children's rights DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 27, 2006 (AFP) - Hollywood actress and campaigner Angelina Jolie said Friday she was "ashamed" that the United States still had not signed a UN charter on protecting children's rights. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Jolie -- a UN goodwill ambassador -- said a lot of things about her country had shocked her over the past few years. "I am absolutely ashamed" Washington has not formally ratified the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child," she said."Being an American I think it's horrible. I think Congress should ratify that. If we really care about that how dare we not ratify it?" The United States signed the convention in 1995, but apart from Somalia is the only country not yet to have ratified the treaty. (Posted @ 18:30 PST)

- DAWN - Latest Stories; January 27, 2006

YouTube - State of the Union 2006 -- Bush Impression

Top video clip viewed today -- law

Money quote:
Rest assured that if I capture Bin Laden I will find him....


Watch this hilarious take on the State of the Union, with James Adomian doing a great impression of President George W. Bush!
Added on January 26, 2006, 11:10 PM by mildewmaximilian




YouTube - State of the Union 2006 -- Bush Impression

1/27/2006

Website of David Furlong and Atlanta Association linking ancient wisdom,healing, courses, trips to Egypt, ancestral healing.

Can you hear the cash register in the distance ? I don't know but the site looks like a tourist trap to me... His article about Piramid construction was good and sounded pretty deep though.. You decide -- law

David Furlong
has been a therapist and teacher for more than 35 years and is the author of five books including "The Healer Within" and "Working with Earth Energies." He sees clients for health balancing and runs course in the UK and abroad in related subjects


Egyptian Trip
November 2006
14 day trip exploring some of the sacred sites in Ancient Egypt. Includes a visit to Sinai.

Kefalonia Holistic Holidays -
Health, Healing and Wellbeing 9-16 July
Intuition and Inner Guidance 16-30 July
Sacred Space, 3-10 September

Merlin's Realm Trip

Merlin's Realm
June 2006
8 day British Tour exploring some of the major UK sites.
Click for details

Earth Energy Course
Spring 2006
Showing how to connect to the healing powers of nature

Website of David Furlong and Atlanta Association linking ancient wisdom,healing, courses, trips to Egypt, ancestral healing.

Sekeds and the Pyramids of Egypt

The Egyptian word 'seked' is related to our modern word 'gradient'."


Sekeds in the design of pyramids

Information on the use of the seked in the design of pyramids has been obtained from two mathematical papyri; the Rhind Mathematical papyrus in the British Museum and the Moscow Mathematical papyrus in the Museum of Fine Arts. The Rhind Mathematical Papyrus (hereafter referred to as RMP) was copied by the scribe Ahmose c.1650BC and is based on a document two hundred years earlier1. Problems 56 to 60 in the RMP deal specifically with calculating the seked of different pyramids, or the height of a pyramid when the seked is known.

The seked is based on the Ancient Egyptian measures of the Royal Cubit, the palm or hand and the digit. The relationship of these measures is as follows:

1 cubit = 7 palms
1 palm = 4 digits

The seked is described by Richard Gillings in his book 'Mathematics in the Time of the Pharaohs' as follows:

"The seked of a right pyramid is the inclination of any one of the four triangular faces to the horizontal plane of its base, and is measured as so many horizontal units per one vertical unit rise. It is thus a measure equivalent to our modern cotangent of the angle of slope. In general, the seked of a pyramid is a kind of fraction, given as so many palms horizontally for each cubit of vertically, where 7 palm equal one cubit. The Egyptian word 'seked' is thus related to our modern word 'gradient'."


Sekeds and the Pyramids of Egypt

Tomato!!!

Click below and aim!

http://cdn2.precisionclick.com/c/11/821_1038.swf

1/26/2006

The year of the clueless - Los Angeles Times

Though we've known for decades that New Orleans was going to sink, our plan for Katrina involved giving people a tour of our nation's sports domes.

Our country flipped its opinion on the war even though we brought Iraq democracy not just once, but twice this year, although they apparently ran out of that cool thumb ink the second time.


The year of the clueless - Joel Stein:

Nobody this year did what they were supposed to do, shrugging away all the events we'd been waiting so long for. After 30 years of guessing, Watergate's Deep Throat turned out to be a guy so boring we didn't even bother to ask for his first name. The White Sox ended a 46-year World Series drought and not even Chicago cared. We yawned at the final installment of "Star Wars" and Prince Charles' royal wedding.

Things got so weird that when the NHL canceled its season, Canada didn't seem to mind. I don't know what it takes to get some passion out of those people. I'm guessing it involves being mistaken for an American.

Though we've known for decades that New Orleans was going to sink, our plan for Katrina involved giving people a tour of our nation's sports domes.

Our country flipped its opinion on the war even though we brought Iraq democracy not just once, but twice this year, although they apparently ran out of that cool thumb ink the second time. I'm guessing in 2006, President Bush is going to step it up so that Iraqis are voting as often as people in L.A. County.

Even the Intelligent Designer made some strange decisions. Pope John Paul II's death couldn't have come as a huge surprise, due to his omniscience. Yet, all he had lined up to represent him on Earth was a Hitler youth. The Big Guy had to have noticed the negative play Prince Harry got from wearing the swastika. There's a guy who's powerful enough not to worry about some bad PR.

The most basic of Econ 101 rules didn't apply this year. While Alan Greenspan kept raising the Fed rate, bank loans didn't go up. After finally hitting a big payday after years of struggle, Dave Chappelle didn't show up for work. Bono threw a huge, worldwide day of charity concerts for Africa and forgot to charge for tickets.

The world's biggest movie star knew he had a giant Steven Spielberg movie to promote but decided to take this opportunity to talk about how his religion is based on aliens in a volcano, jump on Oprah's furniture and yell at Matt Lauer. Tom Cruise was so crazily self-destructive he was one talk show appearance away from suggesting Social Security reform.

Even though it was a year of tragedy — London bombings, Katrina, the aftermath of last December's tsunami, the guy who played J. Peterman getting cheated out of his dancing trophy — the bizarre reactions to all of it were somehow comforting.

Because people are so complicated, you never know how the story is going to go. And that, to be honest, is far more important in life than a happy ending.

The year of the clueless - Los Angeles Times

Warriors and wusses - those little yellow ribbons aren't really for the troops

Stein's contrersial column has some important points -- law

Money quote:
All I'm asking is that we give our returning soldiers what they need: hospitals, pensions, mental health and a safe, immediate return. But, please, no parades... we shouldn't be celebrating people for doing something we don't think was a good idea.



Warriors and wusses - Joel Stein

those little yellow ribbons aren't really for the troops. They need body armor, shorter stays and a USO show by the cast of "Laguna Beach."

The real purpose of those ribbons is to ease some of the guilt we feel for voting to send them to war and then making absolutely no sacrifices other than enduring two Wolf Blitzer shows a day...

I understand the guilt. We know we're sending recruits to do our dirty work, and we want to seem grateful.

After we've decided that we made a mistake, we don't want to blame the soldiers who were ordered to fight. Or even our representatives, who were deceived by false intelligence. And certainly not ourselves, who failed to object to a war we barely understood.

But blaming the president is a little too easy. The truth is that people who pull triggers are ultimately responsible, whether they're following orders or not. An army of people making individual moral choices may be inefficient, but an army of people ignoring their morality is horrifying. An army of people ignoring their morality, by the way, is also Jack Abramoff's pet name for the House of Representatives.

I do sympathize with people who joined up to protect our country, especially after 9/11, and were tricked into fighting in Iraq. I get mad when I'm tricked into clicking on a pop-up ad, so I can only imagine how they feel.

But when you volunteer for the U.S. military, you pretty much know you're not going to be fending off invasions from Mexico and Canada. So you're willingly signing up to be a fighting tool of American imperialism, for better or worse. Sometimes you get lucky and get to fight ethnic genocide in Kosovo, but other times it's Vietnam.

And sometimes, for reasons I don't understand, you get to just hang out in Germany.

I know this is all easy to say for a guy who grew up with money, did well in school and hasn't so much as served on jury duty for his country. But it's really not that easy to say because anyone remotely affiliated with the military could easily beat me up, and I'm listed in the phone book.

I'm not advocating that we spit on returning veterans like they did after the Vietnam War, but we shouldn't be celebrating people for doing something we don't think was a good idea. All I'm asking is that we give our returning soldiers what they need: hospitals, pensions, mental health and a safe, immediate return. But, please, no parades.

Warriors and wusses - Los Angeles Times

Daily Kos: My Military Experience (What Really Demoralizes the Troops)

1. Being Unprepared: 80% of torso-related fatalities could have been avoided.. Feeling expendable is demoralizing.
2. Victory? What constitutes a win in Iraq? No one, it seems not even the President, really knows.
3. Losing Friends: I met a Marine who was mutilating himself. He would put cigarettes out on his arms, and had eight distinct scars.. Those were for friends he'd lost.


* filmgeek83's diary :: ::

I want to inform all of you, first hand, what I find most of those brave men and women find truly demoralizing. I'll give you a hint. Dissent is nowhere on this list.

1. Being Unprepared.

There is a sort of gallows humor that one clings to in Iraq. This is especially true when outfitting a Humvee with armor. I've saw some of those Up-Armor vehicles out there. Almost all of the grunts don't have them. They have to ride around with plates attached to their vehicles. This plating is spotty at best. The truth of the matter is it does very little to stop shrapnel in a blast. It will deflect some of it, but it is hardly a substitute for the fully-armored humvees I saw out there. Now we find out 80% of torso-related fatalities could have been avoided had the Pentagon distributed certain plates they had in their posession. It's like being thrown to the meatgrinder. Feeling expendable is demoralizing.

2. Victory?

The people who fought in WWII had an end to look forward to. Win or lose, they knew the parameters of the endgame. What constitutes a win in Iraq? No one, it seems not even the President, really knows. Being in the military these days is like being on a hamster wheel. They keep going to the same town, clearing them, leaving, and months later repeating the process. They come home for a year and go back again. They are tired. And there are no checkpoints to victory. There is no way to measure progress. There is no end in sight. What these men and women need to know is how victory can be achieved, and what they can do to achieve it. Attainable short-term goals to achieve the long term one. Without this information, the everything being done out there feels futile.

3. Losing Friends

I was a combat-videographer. I moved from unit to unit. While I was with the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, I met a Marine who's name, God help me, escapes my grasp right now. He was a good guy, and funny. He was also mutilating himself. He would put cigarettes out on his arms, and had eight distinct scars the last time I saw him. There were five on one arm. He said those were for people he killed. There were three on the other. Those were for friends he'd lost. One of my fellow videographers name was William Salazar. That's a link to his name on icasualties.org. He's dead now, killed by a roadside bomb. I watched the flag that draped his coffin being handed to his sobbing mother. It was difficult to say the least. The truth is I went to far too many memorial ceremonies during my time in the Corps, and these men and women deserve our highest regard. But it weighs heavy on the mind, and on the soul.

In all honesty, there aren't many grunts who will articulate these ideas. Most of them could care less about politics. Many do not want to look weak. But I also know that demanding to bring them home does not demoralize them. If anything, the idea of "Staying the Course" when there is no clear course really weighs on them. It weighed on me.

I believe success in Iraq is worth fighting for, but our military was given the short end from the very start. That, the incompetance of the leaders that should know better, is something that will tear down even the most resolute of fighting men under the hot Iraqi sun.


Daily Kos: My Military Experience (What Really Demoralizes the Troops)

If we were serious about this war...

Let us compare Bush to Roosevelt. During WWII Roosevelt named George Marshall to manage the war effort that defeated the Germans in 3 years and 5 months and conquered the Japanese in 3 years and 9 months. George Bush has not chosen his George Marshall. We have been "fighting" this war for 4 years, 4 months and counting and there is no end in sight.

Bush and the War Red Herring
by Larry Johnson
Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 05:15:29 PM EST
by Larry C. Johnson (bio below)

When President George Bush is feeling political heat generated by questions about illegal domestic spying, secret overseas prisons, or prisoner torture, he seeks refuge in the solemn proclamation, "we are at war." The war excuse, which is usually accompanied by the elaboration that these excesses are necessary to protect the American people, does not hold water. If President Bush was serious about his insistence that we are at war, his Administration would be on a war footing. But, we are not.

If we were serious about this war ... continued below ...

there would be a supreme commander in charge of tracking down Bin Laden and the remnants of the Al Qaeda network. Instead, the NSC job for coordinating the war on terror has been held by seven different people since the President assumed office. General Wayne Downing, who held the post from October 2001 until September 2002, ultimately resigned in frustration after being repeatedly sand bagged and undercut by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Rather than impose order and discipline, President Bush has allowed the coordination function to atrophy.

Today there is no one individual or agency in charge of finding Bin Laden or dismantling Al Qaeda. This fact was highlighted by the recent attempt to kill Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda's real number two honcho, with a military strike inside Pakistan. That attack was carried out under the direction of the CIA. US military forces operating in the area were not directly involved. Instead of a single, focused effort to destroy Al Qaeda, the CIA and the Department of Defense are pursuing separate tracks. A case can be made for having either organization in charge. I have no dog in that fight, notwithstanding my previous employment with the CIA. President Bush, despite his tough war talk, is sadly disengaged and has been unwilling to organize his Administration to win the war.

Let us compare George W. Bush to Franklin D. Roosevelt. During World War II President Roosevelt named General George C. Marshall to manage the war effort that defeated the Germans in three years and five months and conquered the Japanese in three years and nine months. Marshall put General Dwight Eisenhower in charge in the European theatre and put Douglas MacArthur in command of the Pacific. Unity and clarity of chain of command are key elements of a successful war. It allows you to marshal resources, devise strategies, and execute effective campaigns. Such unity and clarity do not exist in the Bush war on terrorism. George Bush has not chosen his George Marshall. We have been "fighting" this war for four years, four months and counting and there is no end in sight.

If we were serious about fighting the war on terror, we would mobilize our society to achieve victory and ensure that the citizenry shared the burden. Instead of universal sacrifice, however, only a few are being asked to pay the price. Instead of a draft, the U.S. Army is lowering educational and intelligence requirements for signing up recruits. In addition, the Army is raising the maximum age for new enlistees from 36 to 40. Stocking the Army with recruits who are either of substandard intellect or who are forty years old is not a recipe for building an elite, professional military.

It is not just the Army that is suffering. Good friends in the CIA tell me the Agency continues to hemorrhage people. My career trainee class in 1985, for example, had fifty plus students and was considered large. Today the CIA is running career trainee classes with one hundred students and the training cycle is compressed. Instead of an 18 month cycle students are being pushed out the door in 12 or less. While the influx of new blood seems good on the surface it masks the fact the many "new" trainees are leaving the CIA after one tour overseas. The glamorous world of Tom Clancy is not the reality. Moreover, my cohorts--those folks between 45 and 54 years of age--are abandoning the place in droves. During World War II the CIA's predecessor, the OSS, did not have a problem recruiting and retaining quality personnel.

Perhaps it is time to acknowledge that we cannot fight and win a war against an ideology or theology relying primarily on military tactics and resources.. There is no doubt that Bin Laden and other Islamic extremists share a vision of creating a new world where people will be governed by the laws of God as contained in the Quran. They are pursuing a religious crusade. Fortunately, the vast majority of muslims, both Shia and Sunni, have not embraced this vision. At least not yet.

An exclusive military response would make sense if the Islamic extremists congregated in mass formations and drilled at fixed installations. They do not. which ensures that a narrow military strategy is doomed to failure. The Islamic terrorists intermingle in civilian populations. They do not wear uniforms and are not easily identified. We may have killed some senior Al Qaeda personnel in Pakistan earlier this month, but we also killed some women and children.

This much is certain, when the United States uses military forces and kills innocent civilians (we excuse it with the euphemism, "collateral damage") Al Qaeda's public support increases. Similarly, when Al Qaeda operatives kill muslims in a prominent attack, such as the hotel bombings in Jordan last year, their popularity wanes. Recent polls in Jordan show that support for Al Qaeda has slipped from almost 80% to around 20%. There is a lesson here for us. In the long run we are better off if we win the hearts and minds of people rather than alienating civilian populations and inflaming grieving relatives.

The road to a more realistic policy starts with language. If President Bush insists on calling the effort to quash Al Qaeda a war then his actions and policies should reflect this fact. However, to call it a war while treating it as a political prop does nothing to rally the public nor isolate the Islamists. It simply creates cyncism that eats away at the body politic.

1/25/2006

The World Wide Web Virtual Library on Microcredit and Microfinance

The Virtual Library on Microcredit
Microcredit and micorfinance is not the answer to all the problems of poverty in developing countries, but it is indeed an 'inducer' to a great many actions that can lead to a better quality of life for the low-income groups. The Virtual Library on Microcredit is a repository of information on alternative, non-conventional financial systems and microfinance/microcredit issues.

The World Wide Web Virtual Library on Microcredit and Microfinance

1/22/2006

LEXICOOL.COM - Translation dictionaries online

LEXICOOL.COM - Translation dictionaries online

Rory O'Connor' - Able Danger , the USS Cole and the Lotto

Apparently AD not only knew who Atta was but they also forecasted 5 trouble spots, including Yemen. What, no lotto results ? AD already sounded too good to be true to anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of data mining. Now it is looking more like a miraculous crystal ball than a real software project -- law

Is Kirk Lippold, commander of the ill-fated USS Cole, the latest career military officer to be victimized by the political miasma now surrounding the controversial Able Danger intelligence program?

The official Navy Judge Advocate General Manual (JAGMAN) investigation of the incident concluded that Lippold “acted reasonably in adjusting his force protection posture based on his assessment of the situation that presented itself” when the Cole arrived in Aden to refuel. The investigation further concluded that “the commanding officer of Cole did not have the specific intelligence, focused training, appropriate equipment or on-scene security support to effectively prevent or deter such a determined, preplanned assault on his ship.”

Although Lippold lacked “the specific intelligence” to prevent the attack on the Cole, his superiors did not.

Analysts associated with the secretive Able Danger program, including Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer and Navy Captain Scott Phillpott, who say they identified Mohamed Atta and three other 9/11 hijackers a year before the Al Qaeda-connected terror attacks on America, also say their team passed on warnings about al Qaeda activity in Aden before the attack on the Cole to high officials at both Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and Central Command (CENTCOM).

Shaffer, Phillpott and others tried unsuccessfully to bring the Able Danger information to the attention of the FBI and later to the 9/11 Commission. But when a frustrated Shaffer eventually went public with the findings, he was placed on administrative leave from his post at the Defense Intelligence Agency, had his security clearance lifted, was repeatedly and falsely vilified as an alcoholic, philandering kleptomaniac by his superiors at the Defense Department, and was effectively muzzled from speaking further either to reporters or to Congress.

The Able Danger team had uncovered evidence of five ‘hot spots’ of Al Qaeda activity: Mauritania; Malaysia; Hamburg, Germany; Brooklyn, New York; and Aden, Yemen. Captain Phillpott even briefed then-SOCOM head General Peter Schoomaker (now Chief of Staff, U.S. Army) on the findings just two days prior to the attack on the Cole. Phillpott reportedly warned Schoomaker that Able Danger had uncovered information of increased al-Qaeda “activity” in Aden harbor – a warning that was gleaned through a search of bin Laden’s business ties.

Able Danger analysts also passed along the information to the brass at CENTCOM, who had authority over the Fifth Fleet to which the Cole was assigned, but inexplicably took no action to head off the attack on the Cole. Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pennsylvania), who has been leading the push inside Congress to get to the bottom of the Able Danger affair..
Media is a Plural - Rory O'Connor's Blog » Able Danger and the USS Cole

Daily Kos: NEW Abramoff News: The Chinese/Sweatshop/GOP Connection.

Long and detailed diary. Bush family's, GOP and Abramoff ties to China's sweatshops and to the destruction of US textile factories -- law

NEW Abramoff News: The Chinese/Sweatshop/GOP Connection.
by dengre
Fri Jan 20, 2006 at 09:18:45 PM PDT

The Abramoff/GOP connection to sweatshops is old news, but worth more investigation. Now new details are emerging.

I've been following Abramoff for a long time and I've posted about the connections between Abramoff, sweatshops, China, DeLay & the GOP a number of times. The link has been the Tan family, the Chinese family behind the sweatshops on Saipan and Millions of dollars sent to the GOP through Jack Abramoff.

The Tan Family and how they connect the GOP to China has been a very underplayed part of this scandal. I've always thought that when this part of the scandal breaks, it will break big.

Well, tonight the story is starting to break.

Over in Hong Kong, Zack Coleman, a reporter for China's Business Newspaper The Weekly Standard has been writing has been writing about the Tan-GOP ties for years.

Today, he broke new details of the Abramoff/China/Sweatshop/GOP connection and how it fits into the growing scandal.

More on the jump...

* dengre's diary :: ::
*

I've written about Coleman's reporting before. It is excellent work. Tonight while touching base with my must read blogs, I came across a notice of a new Zach Coleman article at Talking Points Memo.

Before I begin I want to take a moment to praise the work Josh and his team are doing on the Abramoff Scandal. It is outstanding and often a head of the pack. In fact, Coleman gives them a shout-out in his piece, but we'll get to that in a minute.

An earlier Coleman article, Sweating it out in Saipan presents a good introduction to the Tan Family:

The island of Saipan has been very good to Tan Siu-lin and his children.

In just two decades, this Hong Kong family has built a business empire there encompassing an airline, a sea freight line, a large fishing fleet, a newspaper and ventures in insurance, logistics and many other sectors. It is an empire whose prosperity has been maintained through an intricate web of money-fueled connections to powerful figures in the United States.

Family companies Tan Holdings and Luen Thai Holdings are together the leading players in the island's two main industries, garment production and tourism, as well as Saipan's biggest employer and taxpayer.

The Tans' success in the Pacific, 3,400 kilometers east of Hong Kong, flows from Saipan's status as what amounts to a special economic zone of the United States. [snip] At the same time, the commonwealth has autonomy over its immigration, customs, taxes and minimum wage levels.

The Tans exploit this duality by importing thousands of young women from China and other Asian countries to work in their factories and hotels at starting wages 40 percent below the US federal level. [snip]

Luen Thai turned a profit of US$30.4 million in 2004 as its core operation remained in Saipan sewing clothes for the US market.

Tan Siu-lin, father of Henry, William and four other children, moved the brood from Hong Kong to Guam in 1972 to venture into shipping, real estate and movie distribution. The family business headquarters moved to nearby Saipan in 1983 after the elder Tan opened a sweater factory.

It was the island's first clothing factory and was followed by dozens of others opened by the Tans and companies from South Korea, Taiwan and China. Workers from the Philippines, Bangladesh, Thailand and other Asian nations poured in and quickly outnumbered native residents.

The same article detailed the closeness between the family and the GOP:

Over the last decade, the Tan family and their companies have spent at least US$200,000 (HK$1.6 million) on lobbying and contributions to Washington political campaigns.

More significantly, the commonwealth government and Saipan business associations invested more than US$11.5 million between 1995 and 2002 to lobby in Washington against changes to the islands' status.

This lobbying effort, directed by conservative Republican Jack Abramoff, is now the focus of intense scrutiny in the United States. [snip]

Much of Abramoff's power stemmed from his close ties to Texas Republican Tom DeLay who, as majority leader, is the second most powerful member of the US House of Representatives. Through Abramoff, Willie Tan, who directs the family's ventures in Saipan, also became buddies with DeLay. [snip]

Henry Tan, who as chief executive of Luen Thai and vice-chairman of Tan Holdings heads up the Hong Kong side of the family empire, declined repeated requests for an interview to discuss the Abramoff controversy.

For the Tans, the lobbying and donations were effective. Repeated moves by the Clinton administration and congressmen to change Saipan's status floundered. [snip]

Henry and Josie Tan each donated US$1,000 to George W Bush's 2000 campaign. In October 2002, two family companies on Saipan, the L&T Group and Global Manufacturing, each sent US$25,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. A third, Concorde Garment Manufacturing, sent US$25,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

In the run-up to last year's US federal election, Tan Siu-lin, his five sons and Josie Tan donated a total of US$13,000 to Bush. Son Jerry has also contributed US$4,000 to individual congressional campaigns. Meanwhile, former employee Ben Fitial is gearing up to run for commonwealth governor in the fall with Tan support. [He won and is now the CNMI Governor].

Sometimes Tan family members recorded a Hong Kong address on their donations, sometimes one in Saipan. Federal campaign regulations mandate that only US citizens or permanent residents can legally donate. Luen Thai's IPO prospectus says that Henry and brother Raymond are Chinese nationals living in Hong Kong.

An earlier Coleman article, The Island that lost its shirts, highlights the closeness between Henry Tan and George W. Bush (emphasis added):

The Tan plants were no exception. The US Labour Department sued six Tan companies in 1991 for forcing Chinese labourers to work up to 84 hours a week without overtime (US law requires companies to pay 1.5 times the regular hourly rate for work in excess of 40 hours a week) and paying less than Saipan's minimum wage.

The Tans settled by agreeing to pay the workers US$9 million but negative publicity led clothing giant Levi Strauss & Co to stop buying from the Tans.

Following numerous smaller cases brought by the Labour Department and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) against other plants, officials in president Bill Clinton's administration proposed curtailing Saipan's legal exemptions. The drive foundered on opposition by congressional Republicans, who were extensively wined and dined by the Tans. A picture of family members with President George W Bush hangs above Tan's desk in Hong Kong.

The link between the Tans and the GOP and George W. Bush is Jack Abramoff.

The Tan Family controls our US Territory, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Between 1995 and 2002, Jack Abramoff was paid at least $8 Million dollars to protect the sweatshop interests of the Tan family (and some of their other businesses--more on that later). Often Jack did not have a formal contract and was paid out of a discretionary fund controlled by a corrupt CNMI Governor.

And when there were breaks in the CNMI contract, the Tan family would step in with new clients for Jack. They paid him more than $460,000 through the Saipan Garment Manufactures Association. And they paid Jack more than $120,000 through a front lobbyist as the Tan Holdings Corporations and a whopping $2.3 Million as the Western Pacific Economic Council.

In today's story, Zack Coleman of Honk Kong's Weekly Standard breaks the news about another Abramoff lobbying client, Rose Garden Holdings:



US government investigators probing Washington's explosive Congressional bribery scandal centered on disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff recently visited Hong Kong, according to a witness interviewed by the authorities. [snip]

Among the likely subjects of interest here is a previously unknown company called Rose Garden Holdings. In May 2002, Abramoff notified the US Senate that Rose Garden had hired him and Greenberg Traurig, his firm at the time, to represent Rose Garden's "interests before federal agencies and [the] US Congress."

Abramoff recorded Rose Garden's address as a luxury flat in Tai Hang, above Causeway Bay, and its business as international trade. Over the next year and a half, the records show, Rose Garden paid Greenberg Traurig US$1.4 million (HK$10.92 million) for putting its case to the Senate, House of Representatives and US Department of Labor.

Hong Kong's Companies Registry has no record of Rose Garden Holdings; nor does the telephone directory. The apartment listed by Abramoff as Rose Garden's premises has been owned since 1992 by Luen Thai Shipping and Trading, according to the Land Registry. [snip]

Luen Thai Holdings and its controlling shareholders, the Tan family, were leading beneficiaries of Abramoff's Washington lobbying.

Luen Thai officials and spokesmen referred queries about Abramoff and Rose Garden to chief executive Henry Tan, but Tan declined through his secretary to be interviewed, citing his travel schedule.

I'll bet Henry is on the road. Perhaps the Bush donating Chinese National is on his way to a Roy Blunt fundraiser or the RNC winter meeting in DC to hear the latest from Karl Rove, but I digress.

Anyway, back to the Rose Garden. (Say isn't that behind the White House and why are the Chinese holding it anyway?):

Before the Tan family had friends in Washington, they made enemies. In 1991, the US Labor Department sued six Tan companies for paying 1,350 mainly Chinese workers less than Saipan's minimum wage and forcing them to work up to 90 hours a week without required overtime pay. [snip]

After this episode - and ones with other island manufacturers - Saipan's government hired Abramoff to fend off repeated threats to the island's status in Washington.

Abramoff took up the garment makers' cause enthusiastically, taking congressmen and their staff and families to Saipan to enjoy its tropical pleasures and hear the manufacturers' case for protection. Abramoff and his staff trumpeted the clothiers' agenda to administration officials, targeting unsympathetic ones for retribution. [snip]

But the high-priced help became a lightning rod for controversy on the cash-strapped islands. Twice the government dropped Abramoff's services.

Rose Garden's hiring of Abramoff came four months after the government, now under a new governor, ended his contract for the last time. During the previous suspension, four business organizations in Saipan joined to publicly form a new group that paid Abramoff US$2.4 million.

If Abramoff reported "Rose Garden Holdings" as his client, using its name as a front for Luen Thai or other Saipan business interests, he may have violated the US Lobbying Disclosure Act.

Well, of course Jack violated that law. And now he has to tell the Feds why.

Perhaps that's why they are visiting Hong Kong, Guam and CNMI. Some time ago it was reported that CNMI's new Governor, Ben Fitial is cooperating with the DOJ. The visit to Hong Kong is another sign of BIG trouble for the GOP. As they made clear during the Clinton era, money from China is bad. And Bill, unlike George, didn't even take direct donations from Chinese Nationals.

Oh, and then there is that whole How the GOP destroyed US textile jobs and sent all the work to China for off-the-books donations laundered through the Abramoff GOP slush fund thing to worry about if you're a Republican.

Coleman also points out some of the other ways that the Tan Family has been pouring money into the GOP (beyond lobbying and hard/soft donations). And here is where Josh Marshall gets his shout-out..

A LOT more at the source

Daily Kos: NEW Abramoff News: The Chinese/Sweatshop/GOP Connection.