Monday, April 30, 2007

Repost--Progress Report: Loyal Wolfie

Loyal Wolfie

"The World Bank is a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world," with its central mission being global poverty reduction and the improvement of living standards. After Paul Wolfowitz was appointed by President Bush as World Bank President in 2005, he tried to express his commitment to these goals, claiming, "One of the things that's fun about this job is [that] development is a unifying mission and you can get a lot of people together across a table to put their political differences aside." But as President, Wolfowitz has shirked the Bank's unifying mission in favor of an advancing his private agenda. Today, Wolfowitz "faces a panel of the bank's directors in Washington over his personal intervention to secure pay increases and benefits for his girlfriend." "Wolfowitz intends to offer a 'substantial' defense of his actions, showing there was no conflict of interest in the steps he took on behalf of [his girlfriend] Shaha Riza." But his engineering of the pay raise for Riza has already been concluded to have breached ethics rules, and the Bank panel will also investigate Wolfowitz's "hiring of former White House aides to influential, and highly paid, jobs in his inner circle." Wolfowitz's deep-seated cronyism reflects how his corruption and right-wing agenda have extended far past the scandal surrounding Riza's salary and now pervades several different facets of the World Bank's development policies.

IRAQ WAR CRONYISM: As Deputy Secretary of Defense, Wolfowitz was a "leading architect" of the Iraq war who painted rosy pictures of a U.S. invasion, saying it was "wildly off the mark" to think hundreds of thousands of troops would be needed and that the Iraqis "are going to welcome us as liberators." Faced with growing criticism over the Riza scandal today, Wolfowitz argued, "For people who disagree with things they associate with me in my previous job, I am not in my previous job." But Wolfowitz has let his previous position impose a heavy influence at the Bank. He secured an exorbitant salary for his girlfriend Shaha Riza, who "reinforced Wolfowitz's resolve" to invade Iraq. Moreover, of five top Bank officials appointed by Wolfowitz, three were senior leaders of governments that provided strong backing for U.S. policy in Iraq.  In February, the Government Accountability Project learned that Wolfowitz planned to expand the Bank's lending operations in Iraq, despite there being "no functioning banking system" to secure those loans. Among World Bank staff, "it has been noted that Mr. Wolfowitz's passion for fighting corruption, which he has said saps economic life from the world's poorest nations, seemed to evaporate when it came to reviewing lending to Iraq." Wolfowitz has also appointed advisers to Vice President Cheney and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to influential positions within the Bank.

REGRESSIVE FAMILY PLANNING AGENDA: As the leader of the World Bank, Wolfowitz is imposing Bush's conservative social policies on international development. Documents uncovered this month reveal that Wolfowitz and his right-wing appointees attempted to reverse a long-standing family planning policy at the World Bank. Juan Jose Daboub, an Iraq war ally appointed by Wolfowitz, "instructed a team of Bank specialists to delete all references to family planning from the proposed Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) for Madagascar," even though the country's government has specifically asked for help in that area. Additionally, a draft of the pending Health, Nutrition, and Population Strategy (HNP), obtained from Daboub's office, mentions family planning just once (p. 120). In contrast, the previous HNP (1997) identified a "lack of access to family planning services as a primary health challenge." The Bank's executive directors rejected Daboub's revisionist draft, stating they had "major concerns" that "the original document makes virtually no reference to sexual and reproductive health" and promotes abstinence to tackle "fertility rates" in developing nations.

GLOBAL WARMING DENIAL: Bush's top scientists came under fire from Congress last month for repeatedly editing government documents to play down links between emissions and global warming. Wolfowitz's appointees at the World Bank have continued these revisionist tactics of global warming denial, as Bank scientists recently disclosed that Daboub eliminated references to climate change in the Clean Energy Investment Framework, "a key strategy paper presented to the bank's shareholder governments at its annual meeting in Singapore last September." Daboub "tried to remove some references to climate change completely and, in other cases, replace them with the phrases 'climate risk' and 'climate variability,' which convey greater uncertainty over the human impact on climate." Robert Watson, the Bank's chief scientist, said, "My inference was that the words 'climate change' to him implied human-induced climate change and [Daboub] still thought it was a theory and was not proved yet."

MOUNTING EVIDENCE AGAINST WOLFOWITZ: Calls for Wolfowitz to resign his position from the World Bank have ranged from the European Parliament, World Bank executives, and aid organizations like OxFam, who all believe he should no longer function as Bank President in the wake of the current scandal. Wolfowitz has attempted to deflect blame towards the Bank, accusing the board of treating him "shabbily and unfairly." Furthermore, today, he is expected to argue that "the institution's ethics committee knew of his involvement in securing a promotion and pay raise for his girlfriend," implying that the committee knew of and approved the arrangement. But recently uncovered documents indicate that Wolfowitz attempted to "cover his tracks" over Riza's salary. "It now emerges that in a letter written in response to a 'brief conversation' and dated 13 July 2006, the bank's vice-president, Xavier Coll, told Mr. Wolfowitz that it was 'virtually impossible' to shut off access to individual salary details," suggesting that Wolfowitz knew of the improper nature of the salary arrangement and attempted to hide it from scrutiny.

Under the Radar

NATIONAL SECURITY -- ANOTHER EPISODE OF THE 9/11 BLAME GAME: In his new book, At the Center of the Storm, former CIA director George Tenet argues that "there had been no 'serious debate' within the Bush administration about whether Iraq posed an imminent threat or on how a long American military presence in Iraq might play out; and that his early efforts to warn [Secretary of State Condoleezza' Rice and others of Al Qaeda's threats were treated too lightly." In an interview broadcast last night on 60 Minutes, he said "that he was trashed by Bush officials seeking to shield the president from the fallout of the march to war in Iraq." Throughout the book, Tenet depicts Bush as "having been steamrollered by more ideological members of his administration." He characterizes Rice as "insecure and naive," and "Rice's deputy at the time, Stephen Hadley, is portrayed as a mirror of his boss, but with an extra gloss of arrogance." Rice argued yesterday that some of Tenet's new statements didn't seem to "track with what Mr. Tenet had told the bipartisan Sept. 11 commission in testimony." A group of former CIA and other intelligence officials are also contesting Tenet's account writing that Tenet lacks "an adequate appreciation of the enormous amount of death and carnage [he has] facilitated" and urging Tenet to "donate at least half of the royalties" from his new book to veterans and their families.

IRAQ -- RICE USES MISLEADING CLAIMS TO RESPOND TO TENET'S CRITICISMS: In appearances yesterday on three Sunday morning news shows, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice attempted to push back against the criticisms of former CIA director George Tenet's recent memoir. On CBS's Face The Nation, host Bob Schieffer asked Rice about Tenet's claim that two months prior to 9/11, he had delivered a message to Rice saying, "We need to consider immediate action inside Afghanistan now. We need to move to the offensive." A perplexed and stunned Rice said, "The idea of launching preemptive strikes into Afghanistan in July of 2001, this is a new fact." She then added, "I don't know what we were supposed to preemptively strike in Afghanistan. Perhaps somebody can ask that." On ABC's This Week, Rice backed away from previous administration claims that Saddam Hussein had posed an "imminent threat" to the United States, saying only that "certainly Iraq posed a threat." Pressed by host George Stephanopoulos about whether the threat was imminent, Rice redefined the term, which is defined in the dictionary as "likely to occur at any moment; impending." "George, the question of imminence isn't whether or not someone will strike tomorrow, it's whether you believe you're in a stronger position today to deal with the threat or whether you're going to be in a stronger position tomorrow," said Rice. On CNN's Late Edition, responding to Tenet's claim that there was "never a serious debate" in the administration about the imminence of the Iraq threat, Rice falsely claimed that U.N. weapons inspectors thought Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. "We all thought that the intelligence case was strong," said Rice. "The U.N. weapons inspectors [thought] Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction." She concluded, "So there's no blame here of anyone." Rice is contradicted by the facts, as on multiple occasions the weapons inspectors publicly lambasted consistently false and misleading U.S. intelligence leading up to the war. In Jan. 2003, chief weapons inspector Hans Blix said that his inspection teams had not found any "smoking guns" after visiting 125 Iraqi sites.

On Friday, Randall Tobias, the Bush administration's senior foreign aid coordinator, stepped down after revealing that he had "been a customer of a Washington, D.C. escort service whose owner has been charged by federal prosecutors with running a prostitution operation." Tobias, the Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance and administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), said that on several occasions he called the escort service "'to have gals come over to the condo to give me a massage.' Tobias, who is married, said there had been 'no sex.'" ABC News's Brian Ross recounted how he asked Tobias in a telephone interview "if he knew any of the young women, their names. He said he didn't remember them at all. He said it was like ordering pizza." Tobias has been a strong proponent of the Bush administration's abstinence-only policies. He also coordinated a controversial policy advocated by the religious right that required any U.S.-based group receiving anti-AIDS funds to take an anti-prostitution "loyalty oath." Aid groups bitterly opposed the policy, charging that it "was so broad -- and applied even to their private funds -- that it would obstruct their outreach to sex workers who are at high risk of transmitting the AIDS virus." During an "Ask the White House" online chat in 2004, Tobias defended the policy, saying the United States was "partnering with communities" to begin "fighting sex trafficking and prostitution, while still serving victims of these activities." The program was intended to help men in poor countries "develop healthy relationships with women."

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

IMPEACH! Must reads c/o

Kucinich announces impeachment charges against Vice President Cheney 04/24/2007 @ 4:38 pm Filed by Michael Roston

Update: The Articles of Impeachment themselves are now available, and can be accessed at a link at the bottom of the story.

After a series of delays, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), a candidate for president in 2008, announced a series of charges against Vice President Dick Cheney in Washington, DC, late in the day. Kucinich alleged that the Vice President had committed a series of impeachable offenses, and he was therefore introducing Articles of Impeachment against Cheney in the Congress today.

Kucinich started off by reading the opening words of the Declaration of Independence, arguing they were "instructive at this moment."

"Whenever any government official becomes destructive of the founding purposes, that official must be held accountable," he said.

The Ohio Democrat's move intended to provide a "defense of the rights of American people to have a government that is honest and peaceful."

Kucinich excoriated the Vice President who he called "a driving force for taking us into war against Iraq under false pretenses, and is once again rattling sabers of war against Iran, with the same intent to drive America into war, again based on false pretenses."

The Ohio Congressman, who is running for president for the second time, noted three charges in his Articles of Impeachment, which were submitted as House Resolution 333. The first concerned manipulation of intelligence about Iraq's threat to the US. The second concerned manipulation of intelligence on the Iraq-Al-Qaida relationship. The last concerned what he called having "openly threatened aggression against the Republic of Iran."

Kucinich claimed the charges were "deeply researched," in the press conference, and insisted that his accusations were not just a political stunt.

"This is not brought forth lightly. I've carefully weighed the options available to Members of Congress, and I have found this path the path that is most important to take," he explained.

Kucinich dodged a question about whether or not he had the support of fellow Members of Congress, and claimed the Articles were just now being examined by Congress members, and "you can't expect anyone to make a snap judgment."

He also said that he was only introducing the resolution, and not going to try and persuade Members of Congress to join him

"I'm not promoting it," he told Wolf Blitzer on CNN's Situation Room.

The former Cleveland Mayor further acknowledged in the press conference that he had not recently spoken with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on the matter. Pelosi had said last year that impeach was "off the table."

In a conference call with today, the Speaker went further, telling RAW STORY that "President Bush was not worth it," because impeachment proceedings would be a distraction from passing Democratic policies that would ensure the party's future political victory.

"We will do more work to make for our own reelection, and maintain a Democratic Congress, and have a Democratic President," she said. "And frankly, for impeachment, George W. Bush is just not worth it. We have great work to do for the American people."

He also acknowledged that he had not yet discussed his charges with Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, whose committee must consider whether or not to forward the articles on to Congress.

A reporter asked Kucinich why the Vice President should be impeached, and not President George W. Bush.

"There is a very practical reason - each and every charge relates to Vice President Cheney's conduct or misconduct in office," he said. But he added, "It is very important that we start with Mr. Cheney because if we were to start with the President, Mr. Cheney would then become president.

He also noted, "We'd have to go through the constitutional agony of impeaching two presidents consecutively."

The full Articles themselves, a large collection of PDF documents, are accessible at Congressman Kucinich's website.

'Impeachment rallies' scheduled across US for Saturday 04/23/2007 @ 9:09 pm Filed by Josh Catone

People will call for the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney at over 100 actions planned across the country on Saturday, April 28 in New York, the foot of the Washington monument in Washington, D.C., and other locations.

"George Bush and Dick Cheney lied the nation into an illegal war of aggression, are spying on millions of innocent Americans, and have authorized the use of torture," said Jacob Park, the national coordinator of the April 28 impeachment actions. "The time has come for all Americans--particularly our representatives in Congress--to decide where they we stand. To turn a blind eye to lying, spying, and torture makes a mockery of our most basic values and the very notion of democracy."

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) plans to introduce articles of impeachment for Vice President Dick Cheney at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

"Cheney spokeswoman Megan McGinn responded to Kucinich's announcement by saying that the vice president has served the nation honorably for almost 40 years," reports the Associated Press.

"The vice president is focused on the serious issues facing our nation," McGinn said.

On Friday, Vermont state senators passed a resolution calling for the impeachment of both the president and vice president for actions that have raised "serious questions of constitutionality."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

As Sarge relayed on NovaM 4/17/07

FEMA wants students to give money back
By David Goldstein McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON - When Hurricane Katrina walloped the Gulf Coast nearly two years ago, Nora Watts fled New Orleans for higher ground like everyone else.

Like almost 2 million other evacuees, the Dillard University junior applied for disaster aid. She received two checks totaling $2,358, which she used to buy clothes and pay rent on an apartment.

Now the government wants its money back.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency began sending letters last summer to students who received aid, claiming they were ineligible and threatening prosecution and financial penalties if the money wasn't returned.

Watts, who grew up in Kansas City, Mo., and is now a student there, said students were encouraged to seek the aid by their schools, the media and FEMA itself. She said she was flabbergasted by the repayment demand.

"Everything I was hearing was, `You need to sign up with FEMA,'" she said. "I felt like I was taken advantage of. They never presented it like we would have to pay it back. I thought this was money for people who were displaced."

Some members of Congress are angry that FEMA, which by all accounts botched the response to Katrina, is trying to impose financial guidelines on the disaster grants long after they're out the door.

"I've questioned FEMA, `Why did you keep sending checks?'" said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo. "We couldn't get a good answer. We asked, `Was there a means test? Now you're doing a means test after the fact.' It's one of the most ridiculous things I've seen with regard to how the government handles tax dollars."

At a committee hearing in New Orleans, Cleaver told Gil Jamieson, FEMA's deputy director for Gulf Coast Recovery, that he thought the letters were "a terrible public relations blunder."

"I agree," Jamieson said.

FEMA officials have said they've changed the heavy-handed tone of the letter, but still want the money. Spokeswoman Ashley Small said the letters are a standard practice when the agency determines that disaster money was wrongly spent.

Small was unable to say how many college students received aid or how much FEMA was demanding in repayments. But she said FEMA doesn't generally award disaster aid to students who are displaced because college dorms and apartments aren't their permanent residence.

David Garratt, FEMA's acting director of recovery, told a House Financial Services Committee hearing in February that if students living in dorms when the hurricane struck applied for aid, "we sent them $2,000 expedited assistance." If the students returned home and their families also received similar aid, FEMA would seek repayment of the student's grant, he said.

Congress has been trying for more than two months to get answers from FEMA about the aid sent to Watts and other students. Cleaver and Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the Financial Services Committee, sent a letter last week to FEMA Administrator David Paulison seeking more details.

The agency has been under a cloud since the hurricane. Even its inspector general concluded that its response was slow, ineffective, ill-prepared and disorganized.

As of February 2006, the agency had awarded $6 billion in disaster payments. A Government Accountability Office report last summer said that $600 million to $1.4 billion was improper and possibly fraudulent.

Watts, 22, fled Dillard when Katrina struck in August 2005 to stay with a cousin in Baton Rouge, La. She applied for disaster aid and received a check for $300. She spent it on clothes.

"I only came to Baton Rouge with a little bag," she said. "I didn't get to my things until the end of November."

Then Watts received a second check for around $2,000. She said she thought it "was supposed to pay rent." That's when she decided to return to Kansas City.

A psychology student now at a Kansas City community college, Watts used the FEMA aid to rent an apartment. She plans to attend the University of Missouri-Kansas City in the fall.

"They didn't say anything that would give the impression that I was going to have to pay," Watts said.

© 2007 McClatchy Washington Bureau and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Climate Change Now! StepItUp2007 4/14/07

This April 14th, tens of thousands of Americans will gather all across the country at meaningful, iconic places to call for action on climate change. We will hike, bike, climb, walk, swim, kayak, canoe, or simply sit or stand with banners of our call to action:

There are already 1367 events planned in 50 states across the country!
But we still need hundreds and hundreds more in every city, state, and county.

Step It Up on Democracy Now!Posted by Step It Up Organizing Crew on April 13th, 2007

Bill has been busy in New York City the last two days, helping get Step It Up all over the airways and frontpages across the nation.

You can listen below to Bill talk about Step It Up on Democracy Now! (one of our favorite radio programs). Make sure to listen to the end to hear The Gallerists and our theme song. There's also news about actions in San Francisco, electric cars and more.

Click here to listen at Democracy Now.

We'll be keeping you up to date on our blog about media hits throughout the day and into tomorrow, but there's no way we can keep up with all of them. Step It Up is already making news around the country and with your help, we'll be making even more tomorrow and beyond!

Climate Songs for StepItUp2007 !

Live from Sydney 6April07 'Integral' Pet Shop Boys

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

"100 Homes 100 Days" News Links

100 Homes project expands to rentals Wednesday, April 11, 2007 By BRAD CROCKER

PASCAGOULA -- Mississippi Gulf Coast landlords having difficulty finding resources to renovate or rebuild their Hurricane Katrina-damaged rentals are urged to participate in a new survey aimed at assisting them secure funding to restore their properties.

The survey resulted from the 100 Homes in 100 Days project, which began in Pascagoula on March 26.

The survey for landlords and rental property owners was launched Tuesday night at the Web site, and takes about 10 minutes, officials said.

"We especially want to hear from landlords and property owners who can't afford to fix their properties or are having trouble getting the resources they need," said Tammy Agard with 100 Homes in 100 Days.

While surveying residents in a specific grid in Pascagoula, volunteers found that 60 percent of the homes were rental properties, which was "alarming," said Agard, a co-founder of Mississippi Home Again, which is partnering with the American Red Cross' Hurricane Recovery Program, The Salvation Army, Hope Has a Face Foundation, Jackson County Community Services Coalition, GreenLeaf Consulting and Northrop Grumman to rehabilitate 100 homes in south Pascagoula by July 4.

Organizers with 100 Homes in 100 Days have also expanded the grid in Pascagoula to now include an area bound by Pascagoula Street on the west, 14th Street on the east and Ingalls Avenue on the south. Taylor and Polk avenues comprise the northern boundary.

Property owners in the grid were mailed letters Tuesday notifying them of the expanded area in which volunteers are repairing and rebuilding homes damaged by Katrina.

The Pascagoula survey also showed that 81 percent of the structures in the grid are not inhabited because the owners cannot repair them, primarily because of funding obstacles, a problem that is being discovered across the Coast, Agard said.

Those results are also what led to the new survey and subsequent program for rental property owners along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

"It is extremely important that people who own rental properties, no matter where they live, what their status is, take this survey," Agard said.

Agard said the Red Cross and Salvation Army, which are contributing $1 million each to the 100 Homes project also want to make sure that eligible rental property owners will be interested in the new program before moving forward.

Other federal agencies will also review the survey results.

"It's really a win-win for everybody involved," said Agard, adding that more information and requirements for renters to eventually become homeowners will be released as the project progresses.

Finding residents, including renters, permanent housing and especially home ownership, is one void Coast officials are trying to fill in post-Katrina communities.

Pascagoula City Manager Kay Kell said she has not reviewed the new proposal but initial information suggests it could work well in Pascagoula.

"I think any way they can expand their assistance is wonderful," said Kell, adding that the city's comprehensive plan shows that about 44 percent of the city's approximately 25,000 residents were renters before Katrina.

There are also numerous landowners who appear before the City Council for public hearings in which their properties have been slated for demolition, a cost passed on to the property owners.

Many of those property owners also do not live in Pasca-goula or they inherited the property and cannot or will not pay for the upkeep required by the city.

"Those are the type people we need to hear from as well," Agard said.

Reporter Brad Crocker can be reached at or (228) 934-1431.

» Deadline nears for emergency housing permits (Wednesday, 4/11/2007, Mississippi Press )
PASCAGOULA -- Only 34 families have applied for an extension for emergency housing as the April 20 deadline approaches.

» Home on School Street razed; new one to be built in its place (Tuesday, 4/10/2007, Mississippi Press )
PASCAGOULA -- Maceo Denis had mixed emotions while he watched volunteers demolish his long-time home that reminded him of so many events in his life.

» 28-day strike cost about $4 million in payroll (Friday, 4/06/2007, Mississippi Press )
PASCAGOULA -- After being off the job for nearly a month, Alton Reyes said Thursday -- the first day after a 28-day strike at Northrop Grumman ended -- was different from most days he's experienced during his five years at the company's Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula.

» Nine days down, 91 to go (Tuesday, 4/03/2007, Mississippi Press )
PASCAGOULA -- Support for the 100 Homes in 100 Days initiative has been overwhelming, but the project is still looking for local volunteers to help revitalize a Pascagoula neighborhood.

» 1 in 100 Home on School Street razed; new one to be built in its place (Sunday, 4/01/2007, Mississippi Press )
PASCAGOULA -- Maceo Denis had mixed emotions while he watched volunteers demolish his long-time home that reminded him of so many events in his life.

» Not everyone is happy with alternative housing program (Saturday, 3/31/2007, Mississippi Press )
PASCAGOULA -- When the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency's Alternative Housing Program begins in the next month or so, some Jackson County residents hope to be among those chosen, while others say they will reject the offer.

» Alternative housing recipients to be selected at random (Thursday, 3/29/2007, Mississippi Press )
GAUTIER -- Details for a $281 million alternative housing program were unveiled Wednesday at the Gautier Convention Center before 100 Jackson County residents still living in Federal Emergency Management Agency travel trailers or mobile homes.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

"Nancy Pelosi’s Katrina Problem"

By: Steve Kornacki Publish Date: 4/9/2007 Page: 17

The outcry from Congressional Democrats was justifiably loud when conservative members resorted to procedural chicanery to kill their latest effort to give the District of Columbia a vote in the House of Representatives.
After all, the district’s 580,000 residents are subjected to the same federal income tax that everyone else is: Didn’t we decide a couple of centuries ago that taxation without representation is tyranny?
And yet the moralizing of the majority Democrats doesn’t feel as sincere when you consider Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s seemingly peremptory attitude toward the voters of Louisiana’s Second Congressional District, who—like their counterparts in the nation’s 434 other districts—went to the polls last fall and chose their representative to “the People’s House.”
It has been three months since the 110th Congress was sworn in, but Ms. Pelosi still refuses to keep her word and seat that district’s duly elected representative on the Homeland Security Committee—despite the obvious value of such a committee assignment to the Second District, which was decimated by Hurricane Katrina.
There are reasons for the Speaker’s reluctance—mainly political, but also very personal.
For starters, there’s the identity of the Second District’s Congressman: William Jefferson. All of Washington has been waiting for his indictment since August 2005, when F.B.I. agents raided his home and found $90,000 in cash stuffed in his freezer.
Now, Republicans are drooling over the prospect of Ms. Pelosi taking Mr. Jefferson’s committee nomination to the House floor—the perfect opportunity for the G.O.P.’s most sanctimonious attack dogs to force a fight and remind Americans of the Speaker’s promise to deliver “the most ethical Congress in history.”
There’s also the grudge factor. Long before that infamous cash began to thaw out, Mr. Jefferson had earned a prominent spot on Ms. Pelosi’s enemies list by seeking to undermine her standing among House Democrats after she refused to appoint him to head the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2002. Cross her even once, and Ms. Pelosi will still be twisting her knife in you years later.
So Ms. Pelosi, like a football coach trying to protect a lead by running out the clock, is delaying, hoping that much-anticipated indictment at last materializes and gives her cover for denying Mr. Jefferson his seat. It’s not the worst strategy, considering the damning evidence that has already emerged.
Besides the frozen cash, there’s also the matter of Brett Pfeffer and Vernon Jackson, two men associated with the business dealings that landed Mr. Jefferson in the feds’ crosshairs, who have both pled guilty to facilitating the bribing of the Congressman and who are now cooperating with prosecutors. And then there’s the F.B.I., which revealed almost a year ago that it has a videotape of Mr. Jefferson accepting a briefcase containing $100,000 in cash—four days before the August 2005 raid on his home. Surely, the indictment is coming, and soon.
Or is it?
After all, that has been the word for nearly two years now, but nothing has happened. One reason may be that the Justice Department’s right to documents seized in the raid on Mr. Jefferson’s House office last May is now being disputed in court. (Mr. Jefferson—with bipartisan support from the House’s leaders—has asserted that the raid was an unconstitutional incursion by agents of the executive branch on the autonomy of the legislative branch.)
And for all the assumptions of his guilt, Mr. Jefferson remains unindicted and uncharged with any crime—a legal status no different than any other member of Congress. In pubic comments, the soft-spoken 60-year-old has asserted his innocence, suggesting (however implausibly) that some sort of exculpating explanation will eventually emerge and restore his name.
The current situation is of Ms. Pelosi’s making.
Instead of waiting for the legal process to run its course and produce tangible charges against Mr. Jefferson, Ms. Pelosi jumped the gun last June, pressing her House Democrats into expelling Mr. Jefferson from his seat on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. It was meant as a simple play for the political high ground on ethics issues, a contrast to the G.O.P.’s hesitance to give up Tom DeLay.

Page 2

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Join the conversation--Get on the HORN!

Tuesday Headon Radio:Spring Has Sprung!

(Apr-03-07)Courtesy: Woophy Headon Radio with Bob Kincaid6 PM Eastern, 3 PM Pacific. 2300 GMT Duration: 3 hrs.

Show Topic for: April 3, 2007 It is Spring and in Washington the Cherry Blossoms are blooming. So are the Congressional investigations and the Repiglican hot air. Gonzo can’t land on a story. McCain is not even on the same planet & Bush is whining about vetoing money for his own troops. Yeah Bush, tell me how you support the troops. Fun and games abound! Give us a call and we can talk about it!

Help Jacob Catoe

To be part of the conversation on Head-on Radio, call (877)443-2366, Thats 1-877-4HEAD-ON. Email: bob [at] headonradio [dot] com. You might also catch Bob in the Chatroom.

Join the conversation in the chatroom

Monday, April 02, 2007

Google Accused Of "Airbrushing" Katrina

NEW ORLEANS, April 2, 2007
Google Accused Of "Airbrushing" Katrina

After Criticism, Google Goes Back To New Orleans Maps Showing Hurricane Damage

Buildings and roads flooded after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, Louisiana, Aug. 30, 2005.Buildings and roads flooded after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, (AP (file))


"Google's use of old imagery appears to be doing the victims of Hurricane Katrina a great injustice by airbrushing history."

Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C.

(AP) Google Inc. is once again showing New Orleans in ruins after the company came under fire for replacing post-Hurricane Katrina imagery on its popular map portal with views of the city as it existed before the storm.

An Associated Press article on Thursday highlighted the changes, leading a U.S. House subcommittee to accuse Google of "airbrushing history" for depicting a New Orleans and Mississippi Gulf Coast without hurricane damage.

The new satellite imagery, which offers a bird's eye view of the world, now shows post-Katrina New Orleans dotted by blue protective tarps on damaged roofs and the Lower 9th Ward neighborhood covered in debris.

Still, the new images are outdated. For example, there is no sign of the massive floodgates that the Army Corps of Engineers built on three drainage canals. Google is still using pre-Katrina pictures for some small coastal towns on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Places like Waveland, Bay St. Louis and Pass Christian were obliterated by Katrina but were intact on Google maps.

John Hanke, Google director for satellite imagery, said in an entry on Google's blog Monday that the imagery was changed last September "with pre-Katrina aerial photography of much higher resolution as part of a regular series of global data enhancements."

"Given that the changes that affected New Orleans happened many months ago, we were a bit surprised by some of these recent comments," Hanke wrote in his blog. "Make no mistake, this wasn't any effort on our part to rewrite history."

Late Sunday, Google replaced the pre-Katrina imagery with aerial views from 2006, Hanke said.

Meanwhile, Google is expected to brief the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology's subcommittee on investigations and oversight on the changes. Edith Holleman, the subcommittee's staff counsel, said that briefing has not been scheduled yet.

The subcommittee chairman, Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., wrote Google CEO Eric Schmidt to say that "Google's use of old imagery appears to be doing the victims of Hurricane Katrina a great injustice by airbrushing history."

© MMVII The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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Reporters on the recent Veteran's Health stories...

Reporters Reveal How They Broke Stories on Treatment of Vets

By Joe Strupp
Published: March 30, 2007 1:15 PM ET

WASHINGTON A group of reporters who have written some of the best investigative stories about poor medical and psychological treatment of veterans urged newsroom leaders at the American Society of Newspaper Editors conference on Friday to allow such work to continue in their newsrooms, saying it takes only basic, hard-nosed reporting.

Joe Galloway, the veteran military writer and columnist for McClatchy, moderated the session. But he spoke directly to the audience for a moment, assailing the treatment veterans are receiving and urging that such coverage continue. “These are things I would hope you would go back and look at in your communities,” Galloway told the editors. “The bureaucracies have killed far more American veterans than any war we’ve been in and will continue to do so.”

Bob Woodruff of ABC also pushed for continued coverage. “The DOD needs to talk more and the VA needs to study more,” he said.

But many of the reporters also warned against revealing too much of the reporting to military officials until the time is right to seek comment and reaction.

“You can talk to them, but be a skeptic,” said Jim Asher, investigative editor for McClatchy’s Washington bureau, which reported on the poor Veterans Administration treatment of soldier who return home.

Anne Hull of The Washington Post, who with Dana Priest broke the Walter Reed Hospital story about insufficient care of outpatients, echoed the view. She said when the Post sought comments from military officials days before publishing their stories, the Pentagon held a press conference about the hospital, and did not invite Post reporters to it. “It was essentially a pre-emptive strike to what we were doing,” Hull said.

Still, those on the panel, which also included Bob Woodruff of ABC News and Lisa Chedekel of the Hartford Courant, said their reporting was, in most cases, based on basic shoe-leather and long hours of investigation.

“This was all done from Hartford, Conn,” said Chedekel, one of three reporters who wrote a series about mental illness among soldier that has received several awards and a Pulitzer finalist nod. “We didn’t go to Iraq.” But what she and the others did was interview veterans, review military policies about mental illness and use of psychiatric drugs on soldiers, and see how the policies were being ignored.

Woodruff, whose own brain injury in Iraq and recovery earned him praise and support for not only overcoming an injury, but also pursuing the story of how others are treated, said he eventually followed just one family through its experience and found the story of how poor the system is run.

“Before this happened to me, I didn’t know much about the veterans,” he told the crowd of several hundred editors Friday morning. “I learned that there is the medical help you receive – doctors helping you, nurses helping you. Then you’ve got to get rehabilitated and that is when it really falls apart.”

Woodruff, who hopes to return to overseas reporting, but not in Iraq, said his investigation found that “it was very obvious that the Veterans Administration was a really terrible situation.” He said the veteran he followed went to a small town in Texas and had difficulty getting proper treatment near home. “This is something we need a lot more work on,” he said.

Hull said that her story began with a simple tip from a source to Priest, which prompted the pair to visit Walter Reed and simply observe and speak to patients. “We worked very stealthly and sort of under the radar,” Hull explained, noting they never lied about who they were. “Nobody ever asked.”

Hull and Priest spent “hundreds and hundreds of hours inside the gates of Walter Reed without official permission,” she said, adding “it was an amazing, messed-up world. We just watched this world for four months.”

Joe Strupp ( is a senior editor.
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