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Archive for October 5th, 2009

‘Mosaic’: Iranian WMD and the Writing on the Wall

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 5th, 2009 4:48 am by HL

‘Mosaic’: Iranian WMD and the Writing on the Wall
Recent developments in Iran remind “Mosaic” producer Jamal Dajani of Colin Powell’s infamous speech to the U.N. about Saddam Hussein’s phantom WMD. READ THE WHOLE ITEM

Recent developments in Iran remind “Mosaic” producer Jamal Dajani of Colin Powell’s infamous speech to the U.N. about Saddam Hussein’s phantom WMD.

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Ex-U.N. Official Slams Afghan Elections
A former U.N. diplomat has attacked the process and results of the recent Afghan elections, claiming that almost one in three votes cast for incumbent President Hamid Karzai was fraudulent and that the elections seriously weakened the democratic process in the eyes of the Afghan people. As a consequence, the Taliban is stronger, says Peter Galbraith, who was fired in a dispute over the voting. The Guardian: A former senior United Nations diplomat in Kabul has launched a scathing attack on the UN’s handling of Afghanistan’s disputed elections, claiming that almost one in three of the votes cast for president Hamid Karzai were fraudulent. Writing in today’s Washington Post, Peter Galbraith, the former deputy head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, singled out his former boss Kai Eide for criticism, saying that he had deliberately downplayed the level of cheating in an election where in one region “10 times as many votes were recorded as voters actually cast”. Galbraith, who was sacked last week after his disagreements with Eide about how to deal with electoral fraud became public, said the extraordinary level of fraud in the August vote “has handed the Taliban its greatest strategic victory in eight years of fighting the United States and its Afghan partners”. Read more READ THE WHOLE ITEM

A former U.N. diplomat has attacked the process and results of the recent Afghan elections, claiming that almost one in three votes cast for incumbent President Hamid Karzai was fraudulent and that the elections seriously weakened the democratic process in the eyes of the Afghan people. As a consequence, the Taliban is stronger, says Peter Galbraith, who was fired in a dispute over the voting.

The Guardian:

A former senior United Nations diplomat in Kabul has launched a scathing attack on the UN’s handling of Afghanistan’s disputed elections, claiming that almost one in three of the votes cast for president Hamid Karzai were fraudulent.

Writing in today’s Washington Post, Peter Galbraith, the former deputy head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, singled out his former boss Kai Eide for criticism, saying that he had deliberately downplayed the level of cheating in an election where in one region “10 times as many votes were recorded as voters actually cast”.

Galbraith, who was sacked last week after his disagreements with Eide about how to deal with electoral fraud became public, said the extraordinary level of fraud in the August vote “has handed the Taliban its greatest strategic victory in eight years of fighting the United States and its Afghan partners”.

Read more

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Harry Shearer: New Orleans: Who Calls the Shots?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 5th, 2009 4:47 am by HL

Harry Shearer: New Orleans: Who Calls the Shots?
One day before the office was to expire, President Obama extended the life of the Gulf Coast Recovery “Czar” (don’t tell Glenn Beck) for another six months.

Matt Bivens: Cure Millions of Leprosy — or Just Give Hank Paulson a Tax Break?
$300 million could eradicate smallpox, history’s greatest killer of humans — yet the same sum wouldn’t cover the bonus pool for the executives of the insurance company AIG after its great meltdown.

Fareed Zakaria: ‘We Must Stop Exaggerating The Iranian Threat’
It is time to clarify the debate over Iran and its nuclear program. It’s easy to criticize the current course adopted by the United States…

Allison Kilkenny: Alan Greenspan Is the Definition of “Epic Fail”
Greenspan’s ability to make these kinds of public financial predictions without fear of being pelted by rotten tomatoes is facilitated by America’s proud tradition of rewarding white collar failure.


Wash. Times continues to smear Jennings with false claim that he failed to report “sexual abuse” of student

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 5th, 2009 4:46 am by HL

Wash. Times continues to smear Jennings with false claim that he failed to report “sexual abuse” of student

In an October 4 editorial, The Washington Times advanced the discredited falsehood that Department of Education official Kevin Jennings “violated Massachusetts law” over 20 years ago by “covering up” the “sexual abuse” of one of his students and also advanced the manufactured link between Jennings and the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) because of Jennings’ past praise of gay rights activist Harry Hay. In fact, the student in question has confirmed that he was, indeed, 16 years old at the time of the incident, which is — and was — the legal age of consent in Massachusetts, and in the 1997 speech in which Jennings mentioned Hay, Jennings’ praise was of Hay’s work as an early gay rights activist and had nothing to do with NAMBLA.

Wash. Times: Jennings had “knowledge about the sexual abuse of a high school sophomore”

From the October 4 Washington Times editorial:

For more than a 1 1/2 weeks [sic] now, The Washington Times has tried unsuccessfully to get the Obama administration to answer questions about the controversies surrounding Kevin Jennings, the president’s “safe schools czar.” On Wednesday, Mr. Jennings released a five-sentence statement regarding his knowledge about the sexual abuse of a high school sophomore named Brewster when he was a teacher at the teenager’s school. After repeated denials and backpedaling, Mr. Jennings finally halfheartedly admitted this week that perhaps covering up sex between an adult and a high school student might not have been totally appropriate. “I can see how I should have handled this situation differently,” he said.

This week’s meager statement answered no important questions, and the evidence we have reported indicates that Mr. Jennings’ behavior violated Massachusetts law. The teacher was obligated to report suspected abuse. That he didn’t in at least one case reveals outrageous judgment on Mr. Jennings’ part.

The student has confirmed that he was 16, which is — and was — MA age of consent

Student: I “was of legal consent at the time.” The former student at the center of the Fox News-fueled Jennings controversy, whom Jennings has referred to as “Brewster,” provided Media Matters for America with the following statement:

Since I was of legal consent at the time, the fifteen-minute conversation I had with Mr. Jennings twenty-one years ago is of nobody’s concern but his and mine. However, since the Republican noise machine is so concerned about my “well-being” and that of America’s students, they’ll be relieved to know that I was not “inducted” into homosexuality, assaulted, raped, or sold into sexual slavery.

In 1988, I had taken a bus home for the weekend, and on the return trip met someone who was also gay. The next day, I had a conversation with Mr. Jennings about it. I had no sexual contact with anybody at the time, though I was entirely legally free to do so. I was a sixteen year-old going through something most of us have experienced: adolescence. I find it regrettable that the people who have the compassion and integrity to protect our nation’s students are themselves in need of protection from homophobic smear attacks. Were it not for Mr. Jennings’ courage and concern for my well-being at that time in my life, I doubt I’d be the proud gay man that I am today.

-Brewster

The student’s license shows he was 16 at the time. Media Matters obtained a copy of the student’s driver’s license, which appears edited below in order to protect his identity:

Jennings’ attorney: Conversation was “with a sixteen-year-old student”; “no factual basis” that Jennings was “aware of any sexual victimization of any student.” In an August 3, 2004, letter, Constance M. Boland of the law firm Nixon Peabody — which represented the organization that Jennings ran — wrote that the “conversation” Jennings had was with “a sixteen-year-old student” and that there “is no factual basis whatsoever for” the “claim that Mr. Jennings engaged in unethical practices, or that he was aware of any sexual victimization of any student, or that he declined to report any sexual victimization at any time.” [Boland letter, 8/3/04]

Massachusetts age of consent is — and was at the time — 16. As Media Matters for America has repeatedly noted, Massachusetts law then and now provides that the age of consent is 16.

Wash. Times claimed: “[T]he evidence … indicates that Mr. Jennings violated Massachusetts law” by not reporting “sex between an adult and a high school student”

Massachusetts law required reporting by those with reason to believe child “is suffering serious physical or emotional injury resulting from abuse.” According to a footnote in a 1990 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court case, in 1988, chapter 119, section 51A, of the General Laws of Massachusetts provided:

[Any] public or private school teacher … who, in his professional capacity shall have reasonable cause to believe that a child under the age of eighteen years is suffering serious physical or emotional injury resulting from abuse inflicted upon him including sexual abuse … shall immediately report such condition to the department by oral communication and by making a written report within forty-eight hours after such oral communication …

Jennings’ attorney: Book passage does not indicate that Jennings had reason to believe student was being abused. In the letter, Boland stated, “Nowhere in the book does Mr. Jennings state that he understood the student was being abused of victimized, or that he suffered injury from any abuse.” Boland added, “Based on the plain meaning of the words in the book, it is clear that Mr. Jennings had no ‘reasonable cause to believe’ that the student was being abused in any way. Because there was no abuse and no ‘sexual victimization,’ the statute does not apply.” [Boland letter, 8/3/04]

Wash. Times advanced manufactured Jennings-NAMBLA link

From the October 4 Washington Times editorial:

The tale gets even more troubling. On Oct. 25, 1997, at a conference for the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, Mr. Jennings stated, “One of the people that’s always inspired me is Harry Hay.” The late Hay was a “gay-rights” activist most notorious for supporting the North American Man Boy Love Association. In 1983, speaking in support of NAMBLA, Hay claimed: “[I]f the parents and friends of gays are truly friends of gays, they would know from their gay kids that the relationship with an older man is precisely what 13-, 14-, and 15-year-old kids need more than anything else in the world.”

Jennings’ 1997 speech: Nothing to do with NAMBLA

Jennings reportedly said he was inspired by Hay, “who started the first ongoing gay rights groups in America … the Mattachine Society.” Peter LaBarbera, president of a group that seeks to “expos[e] and counter the homosexual activist agenda,” published a transcript of Jennings’ 1997 remarks at the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) mid-Atlantic conference that LaBarbera said was reprinted from the Lambda Report. In that speech, Jennings said, “One of the people that’s always inspired me is Harry Hay, who started the first ongoing gay rights groups in America. In 1948, he tried to get people to join the Mattachine Society.” Jennings’ remarks include no mentions of NAMBLA.

Hay broadly recognized as gay rights pioneer. Upon Hay’s death in October 2002, numerous obituaries (retrieved from Nexis) noted that Hay was a pioneer of the American gay rights movement — just as Jennings noted in his 1997 speech. The New York Times noted that Hay “founded a secret organization six decades ago that proved to be the catalyst for the American gay rights movement.” The Associated Press called Hay “a pioneering activist in the gay rights movement” who founded “the Mattachine Society.” The San Francisco Chronicle stated that Hay was “considered by many to be the founder of the modern American gay rights movement.” None of the obituaries mentioned NAMBLA.


Lobbyist’s Political Fundraising Paid For Mistress’s Gifts, Kids’ School Fees, Say Feds

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 5th, 2009 4:45 am by HL

Lobbyist’s Political Fundraising Paid For Mistress’s Gifts, Kids’ School Fees, Say Feds
Alan Mendelsohn, a Florida lobbyist, ran a scheme in which he raised money through political contributions and lobbyist fees, then diverted that money to personal expenses while avoiding lobbying disclosure rules, says prosecutors. Mendelsohn pleaded not guilty today.


Flouting Lobbying Ban, Ensign Helped Hampton Clients: Report
A lengthy New York Times report finds that John Ensign several times acted to help clients of Doug Hampton, his mistress’s husband, after Hampton had left Ensign’s office — an apparent violation of lobbying rules.

“Captain” Michael? APF Official Admits Title Is Bogus
Michael Hilton, the American Police Force official with a long criminal record and a history of alcoholism, has admitted that although he uses the title of “captain,” it doesn’t refer to a military rank.


Dick Cheney’s Startling New Memoir

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 5th, 2009 4:41 am by HL

Dick Cheney’s Startling New Memoir


GOP Leaders Slap Down Steele

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 5th, 2009 4:40 am by HL

GOP Leaders Slap Down Steele
Republican leaders, “in a private meeting last month, delivered a blunt and at times heated message to RNC Chairman Michael Steele: quit meddling in policy,” reports Politico.

Lawmakers “were particularly miffed that Steele had in late August unveiled a seniors’ ‘health care bill of rights’ without consulting with them.”

“Steele was taken aback by the comments from House Minority Leader John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, Senate GOP conference Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Senate GOP policy Chairman John Thune of South Dakota and grew defensive during the 10-minute discussion.”

“The RNC, according to one source, was planning to roll out more policy initiatives.”


We’ve Given Trillions to the Super Rich — There Are Many Better Uses for Your Money

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 5th, 2009 4:39 am by HL

We’ve Given Trillions to the Super Rich — There Are Many Better Uses for Your Money

For all the public money we give rich people, we can cure millions around the world of horrifying diseases.

Why Is the Military Infringing on Obama’s Decison-Making Turf?

The debate over Afghanistan sharpens that question about who "the deciders" should be — elected officials or the military?

How an Innocent Man Was Tortured Into Making False Confessions

Like torture victims groomed for show trials throughout the centuries, Fouad al-Rabiah made up false stories under torture in the hopes of one day leaving Guantanamo.

Americans Are Jobless and Scared — The Government Must Spend More to Kickstart Our Economy

The federal government should be spending even more than it already is. This is the only way to put Americans back to work. We did it during the Depression. It was called the WPA.


Jim DeMint’s Coup?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 5th, 2009 4:38 am by HL

Jim DeMint’s Coup?
A movie on the Honduras coup may not be the big draw that the Tom Hanks film, Charlie Wilson’s War, was — but one has to wonder whether we are seeing a remake in which a lone Member of Congress,…



Sponsored Topics: Jim DeMintHondurasUnited StatesTom HanksCharlie Wilson

On Afghanistan, Obama Should Take Page Out of Eisenhower Book
Politico’s Mike Allen has the attendance roster for President Obama’s big Afghan pow-wow today: At 3 p.m., the President will participate in a THREE-HOUR meeting with his national security team on Afghanistan in the Situation Room. . .Expected manifest for…


Sponsored Topics: AfghanistanBarack ObamaMike AllenNational securitySituation Room

A Query for Government-Haters
Michael Moss has this shattering piece on E. coli hamburger poisoning in today’s NYT. I gave up counting the number of companies he cites who seized upon every legal loophole to circumvent regulations that would keep feces out of ground…


Sponsored Topics: Escherichia coliFecesBusinessBeefThe New York Times Company


Obama?s National Security Adviser won?t say when Obama will take on Don?t Ask, Don?t Tell.

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 5th, 2009 4:37 am by HL

Obama?s National Security Adviser won?t say when Obama will take on Don?t Ask, Don?t Tell.
This week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) sent a letter to President Obama urging him to take a stand on repealing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy which bans gays from openly serving in the military. “As Congress considers legislative action, we believe it would be helpful to hear your views on this policy,” […]

This week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) sent a letter to President Obama urging him to take a stand on repealing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy which bans gays from openly serving in the military. “As Congress considers legislative action, we believe it would be helpful to hear your views on this policy,” Reid wrote. This morning, CNN’s John King asked National Security Adviser Jim Jones, “Is it time now?” Jones refused to say yes:

JONES: The President has an awful lot on his desk. I know this is an issue that he intends to take on at the appropriate time. He has already signaled that to the Defense Department. The Defense Department is doing the things it has to do to prepare, but at the right time, I’m sure the President will take it on.

KING: No idea when the right time is?

JONES: Um, I don’t think it’s going to be — it’s not years, but I think it will be teed up appropriately.

Watch it:

A prominent Pentagon journal reported the results of a study this week which found “that having openly gay troops in the ranks will not hurt combat readiness.” Taking issue with Jones’ statement this morning, John Aravosis writes:

What could Jones have said? How about, there’s a new analysis from a Department of Defense-related publication that…the ban can be lifted without hurting morale and cohesion. Or how about saying that the President just wrote to Senator Reid, agreeing to work together to lift the ban? Nope. None of that. All we got was another reason why the president may never be able to keep his promise.”

Kristol Compares Obama?s Olympics Pitch To ?George W. Bush-Like? Bullying
Conservatives have been bashing President Obama for the past week over his decision to personally go to Copenhagen to boost America’s pitch for the 2016 Olympics. When the International Olympics Committee eliminated Chicago in the first round, those same conservatives were euphoric. Today on Fox News Sunday, Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard — […]

Conservatives have been bashing President Obama for the past week over his decision to personally go to Copenhagen to boost America’s pitch for the 2016 Olympics. When the International Olympics Committee eliminated Chicago in the first round, those same conservatives were euphoric. Today on Fox News Sunday, Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard — whose headquarters erupted in “cheers” when America lost — said that Obama’s decision to go to Copenhagen was an example of George W. Bush-like bullying:

KRISTOL: Our economy doesn’t need the boost of the Olympics. And then an American president in sort of a George W. Bush-like way goes and tries to bully the International Olympic Committee. […]

Come walk with us. I’m here for America. Can you imagine if some Republican — if Bush had done this and we hadn’t gotten it? Typical Bush heavy-handedness, cowboy unilateralist, hegemonic imperialist action. Obama falls into that trap and they went for it. I must say you couldn’t help be amused by it.

Watch it:

First of all, Kristol was a big fan of the Bush administration’s policies, so it’s not clear why he wouldn’t like Obama going to Copenhagen. But more importantly, Obama’s trip was not a “hegemonic imperialist action.” Brazil, Spain, and Japan — the other three 2016 finalists — all sent their country’s leaders to Copenhagen, as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow pointed out on NBC’s Meet the Press today. Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks said that he was proud Obama had “put his country ahead of his own personal prestige”:

MADDOW: In 2012, London got the Olympics after Blair tried for them. In 2014, Russia got them after Putin tried for them, and in 2016, all four finalists sent their head of government or head of state to make the argument. Obama did nothing unreasonable, and it would have been a shock if Chicago won. For them to be cheering America’s loss here on the right, I think is sort of disgusting. […]

BROOKS: Nonetheless, I have to say, I’m with Obama on this. He took a risk, he comes away somewhat humiliated, but he took a risk for his town, he took a risk for his country, he put his country ahead of his own personal prestige, and he lost one. I actually don’t mind it. I think he was all right on this.

E.J. Dionne added that Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) presidential slogan was “Country First,” but “in this case, it was Obama-hatred first on the right, not the country.” Watch it:


In the Loop: The G-6 Plus 1 Plus 1 Plus 12

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 5th, 2009 4:36 am by HL

In the Loop: The G-6 Plus 1 Plus 1 Plus 12
Do your eyes glaze over when foreign policy wonks start talking about the “six-party” talks, the G-7 plus one, the 26 plus nine? (Okay, we made the last one up.)


Obama’s Meeting With the Dalai Lama Is Delayed
In an attempt to gain favor with China, the United States pressured Tibetan representatives to postpone a meeting between the Dalai Lama and President Obama until after Obama’s summit with his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, scheduled for next month, according to diplomats, government officials and…

McChrystal Faulted On Troop Statements
National security adviser James L. Jones suggested Sunday that the public campaign being conducted by the U.S. commander in Afghanistan on behalf of his war strategy is complicating the internal White House review underway, saying that “it is better for military advice to come up through the chain…


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