Saturday, November 03, 2007

Republicons on Housing

AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry defended housing situations on Friday – both his own move to a $1.8 million lease home while the Governor's Mansion undergoes renovation and the two-year wait for assistance endured by 4,300 Texas families displaced by Hurricane Rita.


A critical state audit report released this week showed that the state has spent only 2 percent of the half-billion dollars in federal aid given to help victims of the 2005 storm, which happened only weeks after Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana and Mississippi.

Thus far, only 13 families have been supplied mobile homes.

h/t scout prime

saturday reads

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has declared emergency rule and suspended the country's constitution.

A huge rescue operation began in southern Mexico yesterday, with rescue workers in boats, helicopters and military trucks striving to bring relief to almost a million people whose homes have been overwhelmed by the worst floods in the area in at least half a century.

Spooks For Sale

The operation, Total Intelligence Solutions, has assembled a roster of former spooks -- high-ranking figures from agencies such as the CIA and defense intelligence -- that mirrors the slate of former military officials who run Blackwater. Its chairman is Cofer Black, the former head of counterterrorism at CIA known for his leading role in many of the agency's more controversial programs, including the rendition and interrogation of al-Qaeda suspects and the detention of some of them in secret prisons overseas.

Its chief executive is Robert Richer, a former CIA associate deputy director of operations who was heavily involved in running the agency's role in the Iraq war.

Total Intelligence Solutions is one of a growing number of companies that offer intelligence services such as risk analysis to companies and governments. Because of its roster and its ties to owner Erik Prince, the multimillionaire former Navy SEAL, the company's thrust into this world highlights the blurring of lines between government, industry and activities formerly reserved for agents operating in the shadows.

A person without health insurance gets sick. The person holds off on going to the doctor because there’s no way to pay the bill. The person is denied the full range of treatment because of the absence of insurance. The person dies.

Friday, November 02, 2007

bu$h's Lap Dogs

Tim Dickinson in Rolling Stone:

IN OCTOBER, WITH OSAMA BIN LADEN still at large, the Central Intelligence Agency announced the creation of a new spy unit. Headed by a top deputy and staffed with a select corps of agents, the operation was charged with gathering intelligence on a single man — a foe who was threatening to undermine the president's War on Terror.

The CIA's new target? John Helgerson, the man appointed by President Bush to expose wrongdoing at the CIA. As inspector general of the agency, Helgerson came under attack from his superiors simply for trying to do his job: He was aggressively investigating torture at the CIA's secret prisons.

Like the other twenty-eight inspectors within the executive branch, Helgerson is supposed to be immune from such political meddling. Created in 1978 as a post-Watergate check on Nixonian abuses of power, the inspectors bypass the chain of command within their own agencies and report their findings directly to Congress. By law, the president must appoint these watchdogs "without regard to political affiliation" and "solely on the basis of integrity and demonstrated ability."

friday reads

William Rivers Pitt: His Name Was Wellstone

Nonprofit rakes in nearly $250 million in annual revenue with the generous help of earmarks.

Mike Davis: Developers with Matches

Cory Doctorow on why copyright bots will never work.

The chief of the Consumer Product Safety Commission and her predecessor have taken dozens of trips at the expense of the toy, appliance and children's furniture industries and others they regulate, according to internal records obtained by The Washington Post.

Preznit Temper Tantrum

Thursday, November 01, 2007

thursday reads

The number of Americans lacking health insurance rose by nearly 8.6 million to 47 million from 2000 to 2006, with children and workers from every income level losing coverage, a new report said on Thursday.

In a series of internal musings and memos to his staff, then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld argued that Muslims avoid "physical labor" and wrote of the need to "keep elevating the threat," "link Iraq to Iran" and develop "bumper sticker statements" to rally public support for an increasingly unpopular war.

A federal jury in Baltimore awarded nearly $11 million in damages yesterday to the family of a Marine from Maryland whose funeral was disrupted by members of the loathsome Westboro Baptist Church.

Japan's government has ordered its navy to end its mission in support of coalition forces in Afghanistan after failing to win opposition backing to renew the deployment before today's midnight deadline.

Lindsay Beyerstein: Examining the Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act

In adamantly refusing to declare waterboarding illegal, Michael B. Mukasey, the nominee for attorney general, is steering clear of a potential legal quagmire for the Bush administration: criminal prosecution or lawsuits against Central Intelligence Agency officers who used the harsh interrogation practice and those who authorized it, legal experts said Wednesday.

AlterNet - The documentary Unborn in the USA: Inside the War on Abortion offers a tough lesson: that rational, scientific appeals pale in comparison to the blood-and-guts emotionality of the anti-choice movement.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

wednesday reads

Kucinich calls for reality in Iraq and impeachment of preznit bu$h.

More than 100 Buddhist monks marched and chanted in Burma today in the first public demonstration since the military junta crushed last month's anti-government protests, several monks said.

Pam's House Blend: Yet another GOP sexual hypocrite scandal

Clear Channel killing Springsteen's Magic

Sam J. Miller: Haunted House Films Are Really About the Nightmares of Gentrification

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

tuesday reads

TPM: State Dept. Immunized Blackwater Guards

You might remember that the first official word from U.S. officials about the Nisour Square shootings was a preliminary investigation by the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security (BDS) that relied primarily on statements from Blackwater witnesses. Now we find out that the BDS offered immunity to those guards for those statements. So not only did the State Department rush to release what appears from the military's review of the incident to be a whitewash -- but it might have also fatally compromised the FBI's investigation of the incident.

A British private security firm hired to protect the oil installations of post-invasion Iraq is being sued for causing the death of an American soldier.

Froomkin - Bush: 'That's How I Work'

Camille Gear Rich: The First Amendment, Pandering, and Pornography

Fuck you, capitalism; fuck you….. (h/t BlondeSense)

Monday, October 29, 2007

monday reads

Sibel Edmonds prepared to tell all

New York Times Magazine: The Evangelical Crackup

Islamofascism — it’s not an ideology; it’s a figment of the neocon imagination

Thousands march against the war in S.F., across the country

The Air Force has been forced to use Russian commercial cargo jets to rush mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles from the U.S. to Iraq because it does not have enough C-5 and C-17 planes to do the job, the service’s top civilian official said recently.

The commander of the fast-attack submarine Hampton was fired Thursday for what officials said was a “loss of confidence in his ability to command.” The relief comes amid reports that crew members skipped necessary chemical tests on the boat’s nuclear reactor and then forged the records to make it look as though those tests were completed.

A Navy commander accused of striking a sailor and then forcing his crew to deny the incident will not be going to court-martial. Instead, the matter was resolved through an “administrative proceeding,” Navy Region Mid Atlantic spokesman Mike Giannetti said.

Are rising obesity rates linked to U.S. farm aid?

MissLaura reviews Locked Out: Felon Disenfranchisement and American Democracy

Vinyl May Be Final Nail in CD's Coffin