Thursday, August 23, 2007

More Profiteering

Nice work if you can get it:

A major in the US army has been charged with rigging the bidding process for contracts to deliver bottled water and other goods to troops in Iraq, officials said Wednesday.

The major, his wife and his sister are accused of accepting 9.6 million dollars in bribes over more than three years which they tried to hide in bank accounts and safe deposit boxes in Kuwait and Dubai.


Slash-and-Burn Bush

No surprise here:
The Bush administration is set to issue a regulation on Friday that would enshrine the coal mining practice of mountaintop removal. The technique involves blasting off the tops of mountains and dumping the rubble into valleys and streams.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Texas proves just how cool and bloodthirsty it is, again:

Texas governor Rick Perry bluntly rejected an appeal from the European Union to bring in a moratorium on the death penalty as the state prepares Wednesday for its 400th execution since 1976.

"While we respect our friends in Europe, welcome their investment in our state and appreciate their interest in our laws, Texans are doing just fine governing Texas," Perry's spokesman, Robert Black, said in a statement.

"Two hundred and 30 years ago, our forefathers fought a war to throw off the yoke of a Europan monarch and gain the freedom of self-determination. Texans long ago decided that the death penalty is a just and appropriate punishment for the most horrible crimes against our crimes."


The Glass Isn't Even Half Full

Another brilliant example
of our military prowess in Iraq:
The Pentagon will fall far short of its goal of sending 3,500 lifesaving armored vehicles to Iraq by the end of the year. Instead, officials expect to send about 1,500.



We done bought ourselves a house today! It is beautiful!



Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Fred Thompson Already Proving His Character

Republicans just can't help themselves; they must always try to game the system:
A liberal blogger has filed a federal complaint against former Sen. Fred Thompson, the actor and unannounced Republican candidate for president, accusing him of violating election laws as he ponders his entry into the race.

The blogger, Lane Hudson, submitted his complaint to the Federal Election Commission on Monday saying Thompson has raised far more money than he needs to explore whether to run for president.

Federal law allows potential candidates to raise money to travel, conduct polls and pay for other expenses related to "testing the waters" for a political campaign. During that exploratory period, a potential candidate does not have to file financial reports with the FEC.

The law prohibits anyone who is "testing the waters" from hoarding the money for use during his actual campaign. Potential candidates also cannot refer to themselves as candidates, can't run ads that publicize their intention to campaign or take steps to qualify for the ballot in a primary or caucus state.

According to a financial report filed with the Internal Revenue Service late last month, Thompson had raised nearly $3.5 million and had had spent $625,000. Thompson must raise money within federal contribution limits and must report it to the FEC once he becomes an official candidate.


Who Will Watch the Gays?

Shamefully, the Pentagon is abdicating its most crucial responsibilities, leaving all of America at the mercy of roving bands of scary gay people. Luckily, the FBI is ready and willing to take on the burden:
The Pentagon said Tuesday that it will shut down an anti-terror database that was found to be spying on gay and anti-war groups.

A Pentagon spokesperson said that the database will be closed on September 17 but that much of the information it contained will be sent to the FBI where it will be placed on a database known as Guardian.


A Quick Buck

Destructive developments are unfolding in Brazil:

The Brazilian government stands accused of selling off huge swaths of the Amazon rainforest - including its oldest protected national park - to unscrupulous logging companies, under the cover of a flawed sustainable development project.

The Brazilian President, Luiz Ignácio Lula da Silva, won power in 2003 with a promise to settle 400,000 homeless families during his four-year term, an unrealistic target he is accused of reaching in last-minute deals prior to last year's election.

An eight-month investigation by Greenpeace into the land scam, revealed that the Brazilian land reform agency, INCRA, had set up large settlements in rainforest areas instead of placing them in already deforested areas, and settling urban families who promptly sold logging rights to major timber conpanies.

"Instead of helping, the official efforts are putting in place mechanisms to ensure the supply of timber to loggers. This opens the door to further forest destruction and climate change," says Greenpeace's André Muggiati.

Climate change? What climate change?
Previously unknown islands are appearing as Arctic summer sea ice shrinks to record lows, raising questions about whether global warming is outpacing U.N. projections, experts said.

"There may well be an ice-free Arctic by the middle of the century," Christopher Rapley, director of the British Antarctic Survey, told the seminar, accusing the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of underestimating the melt.

The thaw of glaciers that stretch out to sea around Svalbard has revealed several islands that are not on any maps.

Oh. That climate change.


Sweet Home LaQuinta

Still in the hotel. The signing is officially set for tomorrow at 11 AM, however, as the bank has now, at long last, gotten its bloody papers in order and ready to go.

Frustrating, yes. But then again, in the hotel we have a bed. Where our own bed might be is anybody's guess. So, today, I step up the harassment of our moving company.

What fun.


Monday, August 20, 2007


The top-tier presidential candidates have some personal finance numbers in common - six- or seven-figure book deals.


Peacedom and Free-itude!

Ah, the gifts of America to Iraq just keep on giving:
Iraqi Kurdish officials expressed deepening concern yesterday at an upsurge in fierce clashes between Kurdish guerrillas and Iranian forces in the remote border area of north-east Iraq, where Tehran has recently deployed thousands of Revolutionary Guards.

Jabar Yawar, a deputy minister in the Kurdistan regional government, said four days of intermittent shelling by Iranian forces had hit mountain villages high up on the Iraqi side of the border, wounding two women, destroying livestock and property, and displacing about 1,000 people from their homes. Mr Yawer said there had also been intense fighting on the Iraqi border between Iranian forces and guerrillas of the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK), an armed Iranian Kurdish group that is stepping up its campaign for Kurdish rights against the theocratic regime in Tehran.


Hazard Pay

If Iraq's governors aren't getting it, they should:
A roadside bomb today killed the governor of Muthanna province in southern Iraq, the second attack killing a province's top official in just over a week.


No Sanctuary

Please do not give us your poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

Thank you,
The United States.
The woman who became the unofficial face of the millions of illegal immigrants striving to remain in the United States has been deported to her native Mexico almost a year to the day after she took refuge in a church in Chicago.

Elvira Arellano was arrested yesterday in Los Angeles as she made her first foray out of her self-imposed sanctuary since she entered the church on August 15 last year. The arrest brings to an end a tense standoff between Ms Arellano and the US immigration services, who have been attempting to deport her since 2002.


Strategic Corn Issues

Were I a detainee, I think I'd prefer the Caribbean:
A plan to drop Guantanamo detainees smack in the middle of Kansas is drawing broad support from Democrats and civil rights groups.

But not everyone is happy.

Local Republican Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO), whose district sits adjacent to the prison, worries detainees could escape.


A World of Hurt

This story
makes me want to throw back a handful of Tramadol:

The amount of five major painkillers sold at retail establishments rose 90 percent between 1997 and 2005, according to an Associated Press analysis of statistics from the Drug Enforcement Administration.

More than 200,000 pounds of codeine, morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone and meperidine were purchased at retail stores during the most recent year represented in the data. That total is enough to give more than 300 milligrams of painkillers to every person in the country.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

My Ex-Homestate Shames Itself Again

Simply disgusting:
Texas is poised to execute a man for a crime he did not commit. While the perpetrator of the murder in San Antonio was executed last year, Kenneth Foster, who was sitting in a car 25 metres away at the time of the shooting, was sentenced to death under the "law of parties".

The controversial Texas law removes the distinction between the principal actor and accomplice in a crime, and makes a person guilty if they "should have anticipated" the crime.

While a federal appeals court declared that Foster's death sentence contained a "fundamental constitutional defect", a legal anomaly means the state appeals court cannot overturn his conviction, there being no new evidence.

After the failure this month of Foster's most recent appeal, the 30-year-old African-American's final hope of avoiding execution on August 30 rests with an appeal for clemency to the Texas parole board and the Texan governor, Rick Perry.

"He's on death row because they screwed up," said his attorney, Keith Hampson. "There has been a series of mistakes that has had a cascading effect. Now I'm asking the court to step in on their own motion to correct their mistake. Otherwise this guy gets executed."


Hannity Is Officially a Tool

What a wank

It's no secret that Sean Hannity, the conservative Fox News commentator, has helped to raise Rudy Giuliani's profile - but now he's helped the former mayor raise money, too.

In a little noticed event this month, Hannity - co-host of Fox News' "Hannity & Colmes" and host of a popular WABC radio show - introduced the Republican front-runner at a closed-door, $250-per-head fund-raiser Aug. 9 in Cincinnati, campaign officials acknowledge.

In so doing, some believe that Hannity - while clearly a commentator paid to express his opinions - crossed the line from punditry into financial rainmaking for a presidential candidate whose bottom line is now better for it.

"Fox's in-kind contribution to Republican politicians in the form of softball coverage is one thing," said Steve Rendall, senior analyst at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a left-leaning media watchdog group. "But this is the first time they have crossed this line into fund-raising."


The View from the Front

Seven Iraq vets speak their piece:
Published: August 19, 2007
Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day.



We're still in a hotel, of course. But we are in our new hometown, the 1300-mile trek completed.

The cats are pleased. Or would be if they could understand that they aren't spending yet another 6 hours in their carriers in a car tomorrow.

At any rate, here's what I know: Don't stay in Marshall, TX. Fayetteville, AR, is still a good little town and is easier to get to now that I-540 is in place. (And the Best Western there weirds me out, for reasons already discussed.) The Ozarks are pretty. Illinois is fantastically boring, unless you are really, really into cornfields. And in Oshkosh, WI, they still sell Blatz.

Tomorrow, signing on the new house!