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Archive for January 1st, 2010

Federal Judge Dismisses Charges in Blackwater Shooting Case

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 1st, 2010 5:43 am by HL

Federal Judge Dismisses Charges in Blackwater Shooting Case
A federal judge let five Blackwater Worldwide security contractors off the hook Thursday, dropping all charges against them in a 2007 case in which 14 Iraqi civilians were killed and 20 wounded during a Baghdad shooting. The Justice Department wasn’t thrilled with this outcome, and a DoJ spokesman told The Washington Post that his colleagues are “still in the process of reviewing the opinion and considering our options.”  —KA The Washington Post: In a 90-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina ruled that the government violated the guards’ rights by using their immunized statements to help the investigation. The ruling comes after a lengthy set of hearings that examined whether federal prosecutors and agents improperly used such statements that the guards gave to State Department investigators following the shooting on Sept. 16, 2007. “The explanations offered by prosecutors and investigators in an attempt to justify their actions and persuade the court that they did not use the defendants’ compelled testimony were all too often contradictory, unbelievable and lacking in credibility,” Urbina wrote. […] The five guards—Paul Slough, Nicholas Slatten, Evan Liberty, Dustin Heard and Donald Ball—are charged with voluntary manslaughter and weapons violations in the killing of 14 civilians and the wounding of 20 others. Read more  

Blackwater helicopter

A federal judge let five Blackwater Worldwide security contractors off the hook Thursday, dropping all charges against them in a 2007 case in which 14 Iraqi civilians were killed and 20 wounded during a Baghdad shooting. The Justice Department wasn’t thrilled with this outcome, and a DoJ spokesman told The Washington Post that his colleagues are “still in the process of reviewing the opinion and considering our options.”? —KA

The Washington Post:

In a 90-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina ruled that the government violated the guards’ rights by using their immunized statements to help the investigation. The ruling comes after a lengthy set of hearings that examined whether federal prosecutors and agents improperly used such statements that the guards gave to State Department investigators following the shooting on Sept. 16, 2007.

“The explanations offered by prosecutors and investigators in an attempt to justify their actions and persuade the court that they did not use the defendants’ compelled testimony were all too often contradictory, unbelievable and lacking in credibility,” Urbina wrote.

[…] The five guards—Paul Slough, Nicholas Slatten, Evan Liberty, Dustin Heard and Donald Ball—are charged with voluntary manslaughter and weapons violations in the killing of 14 civilians and the wounding of 20 others.

Read more

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Death of the Superdelegate?
A group of Democrats convened by Barack Obama has recommended that the Democratic Party eliminate the influence of “superdelegates,” who have had an unrestricted vote in the nomination process because they were not selected based on the primaries or caucuses.   —JCL The Washington Post: Eighteen months removed from a protracted presidential primary fight, a group of Democrats gathered by President Obama has recommended that the party effectively eliminate the influence of so-called superdelegates by redefining their voting power. The Democratic Change Commission, which was convened last August to examine the nominating process, is recommending that superdelegates—also known as unpledged delegates—be required to vote along with the electoral majority of their state. “We need to show deference to what the party members in our state have done,” said Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, one of the co-chairmen of the commission. Read more

A group of Democrats convened by Barack Obama has recommended that the Democratic Party eliminate the influence of “superdelegates,” who have had an unrestricted vote in the nomination process because they were not selected based on the primaries or caucuses.
? —JCL

The Washington Post:

Eighteen months removed from a protracted presidential primary fight, a group of Democrats gathered by President Obama has recommended that the party effectively eliminate the influence of so-called superdelegates by redefining their voting power.

The Democratic Change Commission, which was convened last August to examine the nominating process, is recommending that superdelegates—also known as unpledged delegates—be required to vote along with the electoral majority of their state.

“We need to show deference to what the party members in our state have done,” said Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, one of the co-chairmen of the commission.

Read more

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Erroll Southers,TSA Nominee, Misled Congress About Accessing Confidential Records: Washington Post

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 1st, 2010 5:42 am by HL

Erroll Southers,TSA Nominee, Misled Congress About Accessing Confidential Records: Washington Post
The White House nominee to lead the Transportation Security Administration gave Congress misleading information about incidents in which he inappropriately accessed a federal database, possibly…

Stephen Gyllenhaal: Peace On Earth
It’s not going to happen here in the United States – peace – not in this coming year, not in my lifetime. I have to…

Blackwater Shooting Charges All Dismissed By Judge
WASHINGTON — A federal judge dismissed all charges Thursday against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards accused of killing unarmed Iraqi civilians in a crowded Baghdad…


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Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 1st, 2010 5:41 am by HL

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Feds Subpoena Bloggers For Posting TSA Security Memo
Federal agents issued subpoenas to two bloggers Tuesday, in an effort to find out who leaked them a memo on the agency’s enhanced security procedures in the wake of the failed Christmas Day terror attack.


The Tattlesnake – Odd Quotes at Year’s End Edition

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 1st, 2010 5:38 am by HL

The Tattlesnake – Odd Quotes at Year’s End Edition
Random blips on the mental radar selected randomly, with commentary in brackets: “One of the very difficult parts of the decision I made on the financial crisis was to use hardworking people’s money to help prevent there to be a crisis.” – George W. Bush, Jan. 12, 2009. [Translation to English from Bushspeak: ‘I used your money […]


The Year In Pot: Top 10 Events That Will Change the Way We Think About Marijuana

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 1st, 2010 5:37 am by HL

The Year In Pot: Top 10 Events That Will Change the Way We Think About Marijuana
There has been a tidal shift in politics and on Marijuana laws in America, from Obama lightening up on pot prosecutions to the recognition of cancer prevention properties.

There has been a tidal shift in politics and on Marijuana laws in America, from Obama lightening up on pot prosecutions to the recognition of cancer prevention properties.

Political Predictions for 2010
What do you think?

What do you think?


Kodak, Bill Gates And Efficient Markets

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 1st, 2010 5:36 am by HL

Kodak, Bill Gates And Efficient Markets
I am just back from my summer holidays on the New South Wales South Coast. To my (mostly) Northern Hemisphere readers I should boast about warm water, perfect waves, beaches in national parks with only one or two pairs of…


New South WalesBill GateAustraliaNorthern HemisphereNational park

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Building Single Payer Systems in the States with the Senate Bill
One reason I’m less negative on the Senate bill than some is that I know states will continue to build on its framework with improvements — and most of those states need just majority vote in normally apportioned chambers, so…



United States SenateHealthHealth PolicyMajoritarianismHealth care


Limbaugh Rushed To Honolulu Hospital That Gave Rise To ?Birther? Conspiracy

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 1st, 2010 5:35 am by HL

Limbaugh Rushed To Honolulu Hospital That Gave Rise To ?Birther? Conspiracy
Conservative radio shock jock Rush Limbaugh was rushed to a Honolulu hospital yesterday with chest pains. After paramedics arrived and treated him at the Kahala Hotel and Resort, Limbaugh was transferred to Queen’s Medical Center where he reportedly arrived in “serious condition.” KHON2 reports: Sources say the 58 year old [Limbaugh] was suffering chest […]

limbaughrush_wConservative radio shock jock Rush Limbaugh was rushed to a Honolulu hospital yesterday with chest pains. After paramedics arrived and treated him at the Kahala Hotel and Resort, Limbaugh was transferred to Queen’s Medical Center where he reportedly arrived in “serious condition.” KHON2 reports:

Sources say the 58 year old [Limbaugh] was suffering chest pains before an ambulance arrived at the hotel.

Honolulu’s Emergency Services Department confirmed a male fitting Limbaugh’s description was taken from the hotel in serious condition.

As an avid golfer Limbaugh travels to Hawaii just about every year and earlier this week was seen in Kona on the Big Island and at the Waialae Country Club on Oahu.

While unfortunate, Limbaugh’s hospital visit is rife with irony. The ailing radio show host was sent to the same medical center that a United Press International reporter misidentified in an article published in 2008 as the facility in which President Obama was born. Though the error was corrected to accurately indicate that Obama was born in the Kapi’olani Medical Center, the mistake fueled “birther” conspiracy theories that Limbaugh then dedicated significant airtime to promoting. Since then, Limbaugh has gone as far to state that Hawaii “morphed into Kenya one day in 1961 [the year Obama was born] and reverted back to Hawaii the next day.”

Meanwhile, some of Limbaugh’s right-wing colleagues have spent the past week slamming Obama for vacationing in Hawaii over the holidays, which “to many Americans seems like a foreign place.” Last month, Limbaugh was voted the nation’s “most influential conservative voice.”

Fox News Host Promotes Newt?s Call For Profiling: ?Profile Them! What?s Wrong With That??
Yesterday, Newt Gingrich joined the right wing’s hysteric attacks on President Obama regarding Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s failed attempted to blow up a U.S. airliner over Detroit, calling for more “profiling” and “discrimination” and saying that the Obama administration is more interested in “protecting the rights of terrorists” than “protecting the lives of Americans.” This morning […]

Yesterday, Newt Gingrich joined the right wing’s hysteric attacks on President Obama regarding Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s failed attempted to blow up a U.S. airliner over Detroit, calling for more “profiling” and “discrimination” and saying that the Obama administration is more interested in “protecting the rights of terrorists” than “protecting the lives of Americans.”

This morning on Fox News, Gingrich tried to clarify his comments. “We have to be prepared to profile based on behavior, not ethnic profiling, not racial profiling but look at people’s behavior,” he said. Later, host Alisyn Camerota signed on to and promoted Gingrich’s plan:

CAMEROTA: I haven’t heard a single person talking about any kind of racial profiling. It doesn’t say “Muslim” on a passport. […] But anybody who travels all the time recognizes how ludicrous it is to frisk your grandmother. She’s not the risk. But somebody who’s let say been in Yemen in the past year. I’d say profile them. Profile them! What’s wrong with that?

Co-host Dave Briggs asked, “Should we body scan everyone at the airports?” “I’d say yes,” he said answering his own question, adding, “If it keeps me and my family safe, go ahead an invade their privacy.” Watch it:

Yesterday on NPR, even former Bush Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said profiling is a bad idea, calling it foolish, particularly in Abdulmutallab’s case:

CHERTOFF: I’m going to argue that this case illustrates the danger and the foolishness of profiling because people’s conception of what a potential terrorist looks like often doesn’t match reality. In this case we had a Nigerian, for example, not a person from the Middle East or from South Asia. If you look at the airline plot of 2006, two of the plotters were a married couple that were going to get on a plane with a young baby. The terrorists understand that the more they vary the kind of operative they use, the more likely they’re going to be able to exploit prejudices if we allow those prejudices to guide the way we conduct our investigation.

“I think it’s not only problematic from civil rights’ standpoint, but frankly,” Chertoff said, “I think it winds up not being terribly effective.”


Returning Gitmo’s Detainees to Yemen Defies Common Sense

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 1st, 2010 5:31 am by HL

Returning Gitmo’s Detainees to Yemen Defies Common Sense

Can the GOP Win Kennedy’s Senate Seat?
Sean Trende, RealClearPolitics

Fighting Over the Squandered Decade
E.J. Dionne, The New Republic
WASHINGTON — Certain decades shape the country's political life for generations by leaving behind an era to embrace or, at least as often, to scorn.The 1960s were definitely such a decade. The 1930s qualify, and so do the 1980s. But as important as all these periods have been, their significance may be dwarfed by the reckless and squandered decade that is, mercifully, ending. Receive news alertsI'm afraid that the past 10 years will be seen as a time when the United States badly lost its way by using our military power carelessly, misunderstanding the real challenges to our…

This ‘System’ Is Going to Bring You Health Care
Emmett Tyrrell, TAS
WASHINGTON — A couple of weeks ago on Oprah Winfrey's “White House Christmas Special,” our first postmodern president, Barack Obama, gave himself a “good, solid B-plus” for his performance over the past 11 months. Then he added that if his healthcare reform passes he will grant himself an A-. This is false humility. Actually he is so proud of the government's impending nationalization of healthcare that when it comes he will grant himself an A, possibly an A+. Right now, however, he is under fire for his inert response to that Nigerian terrorist's…