Justice Department investigators broaden their inquiry
Margaret Talev and Greg Gordon
...In other development, the Justice Department said Wednesday that Tim Griffin, the interim U.S. attorney in Little Rock, Ark., since last December, would resign his post effective June 1.
Griffin, a former Republican Party opposition researcher, has been a controversial figure in the firing controversy because of his close ties to White House political adviser Karl Rove and allegations that he was part of a GOP effort in 2004 to get minorities knocked off of voting rolls. Republican Party officials have denied any impropriety.
To make way for Griffin, the White House and Justice Department
last year sought U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins' resignation.
Griffin at one point might have stayed on through the remainder of
Bush's term. But when it was revealed that he was installed using a change to the USA Patriot Act that took away the Senate's power to reject him, Griffin said he would stay on only until a permanent replacement was nominated. As of Wednesday, it was unclear who that nominee would be. The Justice Department notified Congress that Griffin's first assistant, Jane W. Duke, would serve as acting U.S. attorney.
Griffin could not be reached for comment.
Said Michael Teague, spokesman for Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.: "This is a positive development, and Senator Pryor looks forward to restoring credible leadership in the U.S. Attorney's office."
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
This chilling analysis of the situation in Darfur is from the Asia Times:
Darfur: Forget genocide, there's oil
By F William Engdahl
May 25, 2007
...The case of Darfur, a forbidding piece of sun-parched real estate in the southern part of Sudan, illustrates the new Cold War over oil, where the dramatic rise in China's oil demand to fuel its booming growth has led Beijing to embark on an aggressive policy of - ironically - dollar diplomacy. With its more than US $1.2 trillion in mainly US dollar reserves at the Peoples' National Bank of China, Beijing is engaging in active petroleum geopolitics. Africa is a major focus, and in Africa, the central region between Sudan and Chad is a priority.
This is defining a major new front in what, since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, is a new Cold War between Washington and Beijing over control of major oil sources. So far Beijing has played its cards a bit more cleverly than Washington. Darfur is a major battleground in this high-stakes contest for oil control...
The US government repeatedly uses "genocide" to refer to Darfur. It is the only government to do so... only Washington and the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) close to it use the charged term "genocide" to describe Darfur. If they are able to get popular acceptance of the charge of genocide, it opens the possibility of drastic "regime change" intervention by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) - read Washington - in Sudan's sovereign affairs...
The United States, acting through surrogate allies in Chad and neighboring states has trained and armed the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army, headed until his death in July 2005 by John Garang, trained at the US Special Forces school at Fort Benning, Georgia.
By pouring arms into first southeastern Sudan and since discovery of oil in Darfur into that region as well, Washington fueled the conflict that led to tens of thousands dying and several million driven to flee their homes. Eritrea hosts and supports the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), the umbrella NDA opposition group, and the Eastern Front and Darfur rebels...
The most economical car in the world
By Greg Wilson
June 5, 2002
A few years ago, Volkswagen took on a task that many people thought was impossible: they decided to develop a fuel-efficient, road-going compact car that could achieve an average fuel consumption of just 3 litresper 100 km (94 mpg). Not only did Volkswagen achieve this milestone in 1999, but they had an even larger goal in mind: an ultra fuel-efficient car with a super stingy fuel consumption rating of just 1 litre per 100 kilometres (282
After three years of development in secret, the 1-Litre-Car was unveiled in April in Hamburg, Germany at Volkswagen’s annual stockholder meeting. To prove that it is a viable, road-going automobile and not just a pie-in-the-sky concept, VW Chairman Ferdinand Piech himself drove the
1-Litre-Car from Wolfsburg to Hamburg to join the shareholders meeting averaging just 0.89 litres per 100 km (317 mpg) along the way..
Published on Tuesday, May 29, 2007 by CommonDreams.org
The Republican Plan For 2008 Begins Today
by Thom Hartmann
It’s difficult to watch Democrats play checkers while Republicans
play chess with Iraq. It’s particularly difficult on Memorial Day as more
Americans and Iraqis die. But the Republican Party has been playing politics
with Iraq since the day after the Supreme Court installed George W. Bush in
office in 2001, and they have no intention of stopping now. They may have
borrowed some techniques from Richard Nixon, but they have no intention of
repeating his mistakes.
The political calculus being pursued by Karl Rove and the
Republican Party with regard to Iraq and the 2008 elections is a simple
1. Shift “ownership” of the downside of the “war” and occupation of
Iraq to the Democrats.
2. Begin to wind down American involvement in the occupation of
Iraq no later than mid-2008.
3. “Claim victory and get out” of direct combat in Iraq by the
early fall of 2008.
4. Win big in the 2008 elections by having “won” a
Step one was accomplished last week...
Read Thom's complete remarks here.
Friday, May 25, 2007
Goodling testified that Gonzales' Chief of Staff, Kyle Sampson, perjured himself, lying to the committee in earlier testimony. The lie: Sampson denied Monica had told him about Tim Griffin's "involvement in 'caging' voters" in 2004.
Greg Palast knows about the caging because he has the caging lists via emails mistakenly sent to a website maintained by his friend John Wooden. Examples are posted with the story at Brad Blog. The caging story was covered by Greg Palast on the BBC, but was completely ignored by the U.S. press.
Therefore, when Ms. Goodling spilled her guts about caging, it went right over the heads of the committee, and no probing questions were asked to clarify the matter.
According to Palast:
Here's what you need to know --- and the Committee would have
discovered, if only they'd asked:
'Caging' voters is a crime, a go-to-jail felony.
Griffin wasn't "involved" in the caging, Ms. Goodling. Griffin,
Rove's right-hand man (right-hand claw), was directing the illegal purge and challenge campaign. How do I know? It's in the email I got. Thanks. And it's posted below.
On December 7, 2006, the ragin', cagin' Griffin was named, on Rove's personal demand, US Attorney for Arkansas. Perpetrator became
Read the entire article here.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
McCaskill heading on 14-city tour to study veterans' health care
Sen. Claire McCaskill is getting back on the RV, only this time it's not for a campaign trip.
She plans to spend the Memorial Day recess on a four-day, 14-stop tour of Missouri to check on the state of health care for veterans.
Inspired by revelations of poor outpatient care conditions at Washington's Walter Reed Army Medical Center, McCaskill wants to learn more about the experiences veterans have had at military health facilities in Missouri.
"I thought the best way to do that was to try to go all over the state and make sure the veterans knew that this was an opportunity they had to come and tell me their story - the good, the bad and the ugly," McCaskill said.
At each stop on the tour, McCaskill is inviting veterans and their families to describe any problems or obstacles they have faced in the Department of Veterans Affairs system and other military hospitals and clinics.
The Columbia Tribune has a report from the AP that adds:
Goodling’s testimony focuses new attention on the revelation earlier this month that a former counsel to Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., called the White House in the spring of 2005 to urge that Graves be replaced because of the fee office controversy.
Around the time Graves was asked to resign in January 2006, U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins of Little Rock, Ark., was investigating whether there was any wrongdoing in the awarding of Missouri license office contracts.
The News-Leader also presents a AP report, but does not tie in the fee office implications. Chatter has comments on the Goodling testimony, as does The Turner Report.
Fired Up Missouri has three postings from Howard Beale.
The Kansas City Star comments "In testimony full of revelations, admissions and accusations, Monica Goodling — a key figure in the U.S. attorneys’ firing firestorm — dropped a smoldering ember into Missouri politics Wednesday." in a well-balanced report from Dave Helling.
Todd Graves is scheduled to testify in June.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Rove rewrites the Constitution
Letter to the Editor -
About 40 years ago a group of wealthy right-wingers started to think that if they played their cards right, they could take over this country. They did.
Today the Bush administration has created the most powerful presidency and vice presidency ever. Led in part by today's Machiavelli, aka Karl Rove, counselor and strategist for "the prince," they have remade government in this country. The goal is a Republican Party dynasty for the foreseeable future. It could happen.
On May 9, an obscure presidential directive was released. Our president has declared himself the "go-to guy" in the event of just about any national emergency. After 200-plus years of presidents, why this, why now?
Consider the creation of Northcom, a brand-new Pentagon command that puts all of North America under the "command" of a four-star general. We have had a Southern Command, in the Middle East a Centcom, and in Africa a new Africacom. For the entire history of this country, the military has been denied any role on U.S. soil, except in extreme circumstances. This wise policy dates to the Roman Empire, where it came under tragic abuse.
Similarly, the president has created a new policy whereby he will be the primary commander of the National Guard of all of our states. These "militias" were created in the Constitution for a very different reason: to protect the states from an overly ambitious federal government.
And perhaps most tellingly, a subtle restructuring of all of the institutions of the federal government has been taking place. That is, new layers of bureaucracy have been created to supersede the traditional roles. For example, instead of the director of central intelligence, we now have the new director of national intelligence, a man who works directly for the president. Or, the Department of Homeland Security now controls dozens of formerly independent agencies as diverse as the Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Agency.
Most recently, a new position was created called the war czar. The federal government has had no shortage of people with responsibility for the conduct of war from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Department of Defense, to the Congress of the United States. It is difficult to imagine how a position created out of thin air, with no precedent, no staff and no budget could possibly serve any useful purpose.
I see one possible explanation, and it has Karl Rove written all over it. I believe the real purpose of these pseudo leadership positions is not to streamline the management of the affairs of government, but to shield the president from the usual constraints imposed on the executive by the separation of powers in the Constitution. The president can now bypass the usual channels of government and accountability to take direct control of the key machinery.
Phony czars, directors of directors of intelligence, Homeland Security are all preparation for a coup. For those of you that have steadfastly supported George W. Bush these last few years, take heart; he could be around for many more.
Monica Goodling was former counsel to Alberto Gonzales and the Justice Department's liason to the White House. She is a 33 year old graduate of Pat Robertson's Regent University with six months of prosecutorial experience.
From Think Progress, U.S. Attorney David Iglesias said he believes that Goodling holds the “keys to the kingdom” in terms of uncovering the roots of the U.S. Attorney purge:
"I think Monica Goodling is holding the keys to the kingdom. I think if they get her to testify under oath with a transcript, and have her describe the process between the information flow between the White House counsel, White House and the Justice Department, I believe the picture becomes a lot clearer."
TPM Muckraker points to profiles of Goodling in The Los Angeles Times and Washington Post this morning. Paul Kiel at TPM has the " impression that Goodling was a true believer. From her high perch in the Justice Department, Goodling worked to make sure that the Justice Department was staffed with staunch conservatives. "
An observation from Think Progress. Hiring for such positions based on political affiliation is a violation of federal law.
Why should we care? The tangled web includes the dismissal of U.S. Attorneys in Missouri and Arkansas with a little voter fraud scam and attempted intimidation of John Ashcroft thrown in for good measure.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., will be in Springfield Saturday to open the doors of her local office, located in downtown’s former Busy Bee building off the square...
Services there will include community outreach and case work, as well as assistance with Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, veterans benefits, passports and other federal assistance-related topics, according to Adrianne Marsh, communications director for McCaskill.
The 800-square-foot office will be staffed full-time, five days per week by District Director David Rauch, interns and several volunteers, Marsh said.
McCaskill has offices in Kansas City, St. Louis and Columbia – in addition to her Washington, D.C., office – and plans to open one in Cape Girardeau soon...
Graves case another sign of rift between rival GOP camps
By SAM HANANEL Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Revelations that Sen. Kit Bond's office urged the White House to replace former U.S. Attorney Todd Graves in the Western District of Missouri came as little surprise to those familiar with the long-standing political feud between rival Republican camps in the state.
Graves' brother - Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo. - has clashed with Bond for years over how to wield Republican clout in the state...
Read the entire article here.
By Greg Gordon
WASHINGTON - During four years as a Justice Department civil rights lawyer, Hans von Spakovsky went so far in a crusade against voter fraud as to warn of its dangers under a pseudonym in a law journal article.
Writing as "Publius," von Spakovsky contended that every voter should be required to produce a photo-identification card and that there was "no evidence" that such restrictions burden minority voters disproportionately.
Now, amid a scandal over politicization of the Justice Department, Congress is beginning to examine allegations that von Spakovsky was a key player in a Republican campaign to hang onto power in Washington by suppressing the votes of minority voters.
"Mr. von Spakovsky was central to the administration's pursuit of strategies that had the effect of suppressing the minority vote," charged Joseph Rich, a former Justice Department voting rights chief who worked under him...
Read the entire piece here.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
A vast swath of the Pacific, twice the size of Texas, is full of a plastic stew that is entering the food chain. Scientists say these toxins are causing obesity, infertility...and worse...
This news is depressing enough to make a person reach for the bottle. Glass, at least, is easily recyclable. You can take one tequila bottle, melt it down, and make another tequila bottle. With plastic, recycling is more complicated. Unfortunately, that promising-looking triangle of arrows that appears on products doesn’t always signify endless reuse; it merely identifies which type of plastic the item is made from. And of the seven different plastics in common use, only two of them—PET (labeled with #1 inside the triangle and used in soda bottles) and HDPE (labeled with #2 inside the triangle and used in milk jugs)—have much of an aftermarket. So no matter how virtuously you toss your chip bags and shampoo bottles into your blue bin, few of them will escape the landfill—only 3 to 5 percent of plastics are recycled in any way.
Though marine dumping is part of the problem, escaped nurdles and other plastic litter migrate to the gyre largely from land. That polystyrene cup you saw floating in the creek, if it doesn’t get picked up and specifically taken to a landfill, will eventually be washed out to sea. Once there, it will have plenty of places to go: The North Pacific gyre is only one of five such high-pressure zones in the oceans. There are similar areas in the South Pacific, the North and South Atlantic, and the Indian Ocean. Each of these gyres has its own version of the Garbage Patch, as plastic gathers in the currents. Together, these areas cover 40 percent of the sea. “That corresponds to a quarter of the earth’s surface,” Moore says. “So 25 percent of our planet is a toilet that never flushes.”
... Each of us tosses about 185 pounds of plastic per year. We could certainly reduce that. And yet—do our products have to be quite so lethal? Must a discarded flip-flop remain with us until the end of time? Aren’t disposable razors and foam packing peanuts a poor consolation prize for the destruction of the world’s oceans, not to mention our own bodies and the health of future generations? “If ‘more is better’ and that’s the only mantra we have, we’re doomed,” Moore says, summing it up.
Oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer, Ph.D., an expert on marine debris, agrees. “If you could fast-forward 10,000 years and do an archaeological dig…you’d find a little line of plastic,” he told The Seattle Times last April. “What happened to those people? Well, they ate their own plastic and disrupted their genetic structure and weren’t able to reproduce. They didn’t last very long because they killed themselves."
According to BuzzFlash, Palast's "specialty has really been how the Bush/Rove GOP political machine keeps persons who are likely to vote Democratic or Independent from voting. "
From the interview:
Greg Palast: ...The prosecutor firings were 100% about influencing elections -- not about loyalty to Bush, which is what The New York Times wrote. The administration team couldn’t tolerate appointees who wouldn’t go along with crime. In the book I present the evidence that Karl Rove directed a guy named Tim Griffin to target suppressing the votes of African American students, homeless men, and soldiers. Nice guy. They actually challenged the votes and successfully removed tens of thousands of legal voters from the voter rolls, same as they did in 2000. But instead of calling them felons, they said that they had suspect addresses.
BuzzFlash: In which election cycle?
Greg Palast: 2004. And in 2006 and 2004, they challenged tens of thousands of black soldiers. They stopped their votes from being counted when they were mailed in from Baghdad. Go to Baghdad and lose your vote -- mission accomplished.
BuzzFlash: How did they do that?
Greg Palast: By sending letters to the homes of soldiers, marked "do not forward." When they came back undelivered, they said: Aha! Illegal voter registered from a false address. And when their ballot came in from Fallujah, it was challenged. The soldier didn’t know it. Their vote was lost. Over half a million votes were challenged and lost by the Republicans -- absentee ballots. Three million voters who went to the polls found themselves challenged by the Republicans. This was not a small operation. It was a multi-million dollar, wholesale theft operation.
...the guy they put in charge of this criminal ring to knock out voters is a guy named Tim Griffin. Today, Tim Griffin is -- badda-bing -- U.S. Attorney for Arkansas. When they fired the honest guys, they put in the Rove-bots to fix the 2008 election. That’s what I’m saying -- it’s already being stolen, as we speak. Tim Griffin is the perpetrator who’s become the prosecutor, and that’s what’s going down right now.
BuzzFlash: This is not conjecture on your part. You're very methodical.
Greg Palast: We've got the documents. We ain’t guessing. When I say they had caging lists targeting innocent black soldiers, I have the lists. I have the soldiers’ names. We spoke to their families. In fact, interestingly, "60 Minutes" came into our office and said, “My God, to prove what these caging lists are, you’re going to have to make hundreds of calls and spend hundreds of hours going through this stuff.” And we said, “Yeah, it’s reporting. Try it. It won’t hurt you.”
If these tidbits have snagged your attention, read the entire interview at Buzzflash. I haven't yet read Armed Madhouse, but I'll move it to the top of my list.
Friday, May 18, 2007
Brad Friedman comments: "After more than two years of the story being "chronicled indefatigably" here at The BRAD BLOG, as Hasen is kind enough to point out/link to, his article summarizing the rise and fall of one of this century's most insidious assaults on American values under the guise of the ACVR GOP front-group fraud comes not a moment too soon."
Considering the attempt of ACVR to influence the 2006 election in Missouri, Professor Hasen's analysis is food for thought. Here are a couple of small excerpts:
... ACVR—the only prominent nongovernmental organization claiming that voter fraud is a major problem, a problem warranting strict rules such as voter-ID laws—simply stopped appearing at government panels and conferences. Its Web domain name has suddenly expired, its reports are all gone (except where they have been preserved by its opponents), and its general counsel, Mark "Thor" Hearne, has cleansed his résumé of affiliation with the group. Hearne won't speak to the press about ACVR's demise. No other group has taken up the "voter fraud" mantra...
... But despite the collapse of ACVR, the idea that there is massive polling-place voter fraud has, perhaps irrevocably, entered the public consciousness. It has infected even the Supreme Court's thinking about voter-ID laws. And it has provided intellectual cover for the continued partisan pursuit of voter-ID laws that may suppress minority votes.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
From News Hound:
Holy Conundrum, Batman! News Corp, Parent of FOX News Going Green!
Reported by Marie Therese - May 10, 2007 -
Buried in the FOX STOX segment of yesterday's Your World with Neil Cavuto was this stunning announcement.
Rupert Murdoch has declared that News Corporation will be "carbon neutral" by 2010. Since FOX News Channel is a part of News Corporation, one wonders how its hosts and guest will "alter" their anti-enviromentalist, anti-global warming reportage to fit this startling development. Does this mean that Sen. James Inhofe will no longer be allowed to spout his idiotic theories on global warming on FOX? Will Hannity finally stop bashing Al Gore? Presumably, there will be
much more "in depth" analysis today on Cavuto's "premiier" business show.
Also of interest:
A Fox News poll from 2/7/07 had these surprising results:
NEW YORK — Most Americans believe in global warming, according to
the latest FOX News poll, and a majority thinks it is caused at least in part by human behavior, though many believe normal climate patterns are a factor.The national poll, conducted before the release of the United Nations’ report on climate change last week, finds that fully 82 percent of Americans say they believe in global warming, up from 77 percent in October 2005, while 10 percent disagree and 8 percent are unsure.
Democrats (91 percent) and independents (84 percent) are much more likely to say global warming exists than Republicans (72 percent),
although sizable majorities of all demographic groups are in agreement.
When those who believe in global warming are asked what they think is the main cause of the situation, there is widespread belief that human behavior — such as driving and burning too much fossil fuel like coal and oil — is a contributor to the problem. Four in ten Americans say people are to blame outright (41 percent) and another 38 percent think it is a combination of human action and normal climate patterns. Few believe that global warming is an entirely natural occurrence (14 percent).
With front page mention in today's Washington Post (Number of Fired Prosecutors Grows) and a big article in the New York Times (Missouri Prosecutor Says He Was Pushed to Resign) the spotlight is on Todd Graves resignation and it's implication in the fee office scandal/voter fraud scam. The New York Times also has an editorial today U.S. Attorneys, Reloaded featuring the Missouri players Schlozman and Graves as relates to the GOP attempt to sway the Talent/McCaskill race.
The Kansas City Star has been criticized for lax coverage. From Fired Up Missouri, 5/8/07 (Star Bowing to Pressure From It's Attorney Lathrop & Gage to Soften Coverage of GOP Scandal?). The St. Louis Post-Dispatch seems to be ignoring the whole mess.
Yesterday's Columbia Tribune carried a bit from the AP report Bond Staffer Suggested Attorney Should Be Replaced, the McClatchy feature Bond's Staff Sought Graves' Firing and from the Politics Blog, Was Bond Intertwined in Graves Drama?
The John Combest political headlines site points to the NYT and WP, but he has no comment on his blog.
The Turner Report has two contributions today --Times editorial: Senate committee should question Graves and Graves Says He Was Fired.
The News-Leader has, well, nothing to say about any of this, the KY3 political blog is talking about Fred Thompson, and I suppose Chatter would chime in only if one of the players were to die suddenly.
I'm sure if this had to do with any impropriety on the part of Democrats it would be front page news all over the state. Forget "fair and balanced", the plan seems to be to just keep Missourians in the dark on anything that requires criticism of the Republicans.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Of course, Talent got the boot anyway. Wonder what treats they have in store for 2008...
A new island has appeared off the coast of Greenland, aptly named Warming Island. It was previously thought to be a peninsula, before the glacier melted that connected it to the mainland. The Independent calls this "the most alarming sign of global warming." If the entire Greenland ice sheet melts, sea level will rise 23 feet.
If you are living in a coastal area, you might want to invest in a nice rubber raft.