Sunday, April 30, 2006

Bush And Bush On Bush

President Bush, left, and Steve Bridges, a comedian and President Bush look alike, speak during the White House Correspondents' Association's 92nd annual awards dinner, Saturday, April 29, 2006, in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

It was Dubya, Dubya-2 at the correspondents' fete and the Bush's took the comedy day leaving professional comic Stephen Clobert swinging in a moonbat quagmire.

This from CNN-IBN -

Comic touch brings Bush's mind to fore
CNN-IBN - Posted Sunday April 30, 2006 at 22:58
Updated Sunday , April 30, 2006 at 23:03

Washington: US President George W. Bush was at his witty best in his interaction with the media on Saturday.

He appeared on stage with his impersonator, Steve Bridges. Bridges made fun of Bush's habit of mispronouncing words. But Bush was a good sport and played along.

It was twice the fun for members of the White House Correspondents' Association and guests when President Bush and his sound-alike sidekick poked fun at the President and fellow politicians.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I feel chipper tonight. I survived the White House shake-up," the President said on Saturday night.

But impersonator Steve Bridges stole many of the best lines. Vice-President Dick Cheney and his hunting accident were targets of his humour on a couple of occasions.

"Speaking of suspects, where is the great white hunter?" Bridges said, later adding, "He shot the only trial lawyer in the country who supports me."

Bush continued a tradition begun by President Coolidge in attending the correspondents' dinner.

He invited Bridges to play his double. The President talked to the press in polite, friendly terms. Bridges told them what the President was really thinking.

Bridges opened like this, "The media really ticks me off -- the way they try to embarrass me by not editing what I say. Well let's things going, or I'll never get to bed."

"I'm absolutely delighted to be here, as is (wife) Laura," Bush replied.

"She's hot," Bridges quipped.

And then after a pause Bridges (Dubya-2) added, with eyebrows raised and in a G.W. Bush drawn out Tex-Mex accent, "Muy caliente!"

The featured entertainer was Stephen Colbert, whose Comedy Central show "The Colbert Report" often lampoons the Washington establishment.

"I believe that the government that governs best is a government that governs least, and by these standards we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq," Colbert said in a typical zinger.

The two made their views on non-proliferation known, of course peppered with some Bushisms.

And this was my favorite Dubya, Dubya-2 bit -

"Let's give this a try. We must enhance non-compliance protocols sanctioned not only at IAEA formal sessions, but through intersessional contacts," said Steve Bridges.

Bush repeated: "We must enhance non-compliance protocols sanctioned not only at EIEIO formal sessions, but through intersexual conduct."
Link Here>>

This was one of the most entertaining moments that our President has participated in given the fact his approval rating at this moment is at 32%-34% depending on who is doing the reporting. He stood up and delivered while in hostile territory.

The Near Miss Of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaida’s leader in Iraq, is shown here in a video originally posted on Tuesday. He accused the West and the United States of waging a “crusader” war against Islam but said Muslim holy warriors were standing firm. The image was provided via the IntelCenter, a private contractor working for intelligence agencies. — AP Photo / via IntelCenter

If one reads only the newspapers or follows events via television news, it becomes impossible to get information about how the war on terror is proceeding along.

The new government in Iraq is beginning to take hold and the pressure on al-Qaida is being turned up by our special forces. A special forces update highlights the events of its activities over the last couple of weeks (ht: Michelle Malkin).

Excerpts from the Marine Corps Times -

SpecOps unit nearly nabs Zarqawi
By Sean D. Naylor - Times staff writer - April 28, 2006

Just nine days before al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi released his latest video, a special operations raid killed five of his men, captured five others and apparently came within a couple of city blocks of nabbing Zarqawi himself.

Then, the day Zarqawi’s video debuted, special ops forces killed 12 more of his troops in a second raid in the same town.

The raids in Yusufiyah, 20 miles southwest of Baghdad in the heart of the Sunni Triangle, were the latest battles in a small, vicious war being waged largely in the shadows of the wider counterinsurgency effort.

It is a war fought by a secretive organization called Task Force 145, made up of some of the most elite U.S. troops, including Delta Force and SEAL Team 6. They have one goal: hunting down Zarqawi, Iraq’s most wanted man, and destroying his al-Qaida in Iraq organization.

Zarqawi’s escape in Yusufiyah was not the first time special ops troops have nearly had him. In early 2005, they came so close they could see the Jordanian’s panicked face as he fled.
Among items recovered from the safe house, the special operations source said, was a video showing Zarqawi at various times in “black pajamas with New Balance running shoes on.”

The source said the video seized in Yusufiyah was the same one released April 25.

One section of the video shows Zarqawi firing an M249 squad automatic weapon outside, and another depicts him sitting inside next to an M4 assault rifle.

In the video, Zarqawi mocks President Bush, and makes clear his fierce opposition to attempts to establish democracy in Iraq.

Produced by al-Qaida in Iraq’s “Media Committee,” the video reflects “Zarqawi’s number one thing … the information campaign,” said the special ops source.

But on the same day that video was released, “coalition forces” killed 12 other fighters at another Yusufiyah safe house “associated with foreign terrorists,” according to Central Command.

The special operations source confirmed that this was another TF 145 raid. The news release said “multiple intelligence sources” led troops to the safe house. As they approached, a man ran out brandishing what Central Command described as “a shoulder-fired rocket,” which he was attempting to launch when the operators shot and killed him.
A war within the war

The job of hunting Zarqawi and rolling up his al-Qaida in Iraq network falls to Task Force 145, which is made up of the most elite U.S. and British special operations forces, and whose headquarters is in Balad.

The U.S. forces are drawn from units under Joint Special Operations Command at Pope Air Force Base, N.C. These include the military’s two “direct action” special mission units — the Army’s 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, known as Delta Force, and the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, sometimes known by its cover name, Naval Special Warfare Development Group; the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and 75th Ranger Regiment; and the Air Force’s 24th Special Tactics Squadron.

After Saddam Hussein’s fall, the first order of business for the JSOC forces was capturing or killing the 55 individuals on the “deck of cards” that depicted the regime’s senior officials. Delta’s C Squadron was at the heart of the task force that captured Saddam in December 2003.

The emergence of Zarqawi and his al-Qaida in Iraq group as a major threat to Iraq’s stability then gave JSOC a new priority. As the war in Iraq has ground on, and with Zarqawi still on the loose, the JSOC force in Iraq has grown steadily and undergone several name changes. TF 121 and TF 626 were two previous incarnations.

Bigger than Osama

TF 145’s war with Zarqawi has become a higher priority for JSOC than capturing al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his right-hand man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, presumed to be hiding somewhere in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province along the border with Afghanistan.

“Iraq is the main effort” for JSOC, the special operations source said, adding that JSOC’s presence in Afghanistan is much smaller than it is in Iraq — a reflection of the threat Zarqawi poses to U.S. efforts in Iraq.

“Who’s the biggest threat right now?” the source said. “In military terms, bin Laden has been neutralized. He’s not going anywhere. He can’t really move. His communications are shallow. … Zarqawi is a bigger threat.”
So close, and yet …

The burgeoning size of the JSOC commitment to Iraq speaks to the challenge posed by Zarqawi, who elicits grudging respect from special operations personnel for the risks he takes leading from the front.

“You’ve got to respect your enemy,” said a special operations source. “He’s an out-front commander. He’s using all the elements to fight us.”

But Zarqawi’s command style and his determination to take the same risks as his fighters have almost led to his capture on several occasions, with perhaps his closest brush with JSOC coming Feb. 20, 2005.

Using intelligence derived in part by an Arab-American soldier in TF 145, the task force obtained a time frame for when Zarqawi was due to travel down a stretch of highway along the Tigris River.

This allowed a task force of Rangers and Delta operators to set up an elaborate ambush. But according to special operations sources familiar with the event, Zarqawi was late.

The U.S. troops were preparing to leave when his vehicle came into view. He and his driver blew through a Delta roadblock before nearing a Ranger checkpoint. The Ranger M240B machine-gunner had Zarqawi in his sights and requested permission to fire, but the lieutenant in charge of the checkpoint did not give the OK because he did not have “positive ID” of the vehicle’s occupants, a TF 145 source said.
Beyond Zarqawi, bin Laden and Zawahiri, there are other targets that JSOC could hit, if it had the authority and resources, the special ops source said.

The U.S. knows of “high-tier” al-Qaida personnel in multiple European countries, he said. They’re around the world ... The point is, does the U.S. have the resolve … to go conduct a unilateral operation to get these folks?”

Asked if anyone in JSOC was doing this now, he said, “Not really.”

Part of the reason: Special mission units are already stretched by the mission in Iraq.

“There’s no one left,” he said.
Read All>>

Dateline, 20/20, 60 minutes, and etc. all could be doing special reports on our effort from the "front". The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and etc. all could be writing special front page stories about our effort on the "front". Neither journalistic outlet does ... WHY?

Thanks to the military for getting the job of reporting done as well ... The total job and nothing less.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Sad Story Of Steve Howe

Left-hander Steve Howe was suspended from baseball for drug abuse seven times over a career that spanned 17 years. Photo Credit: Getty Images

In another day, I pass the hallmark of being clean and sober for 14 years.

Steve Howe was a phenomenon as a pitcher, a great team player, and a good friend to those who knew him. Addiction robs the greatness in all of us. Every human being has the potential in them to have a story of continued struggle that Steve Howe had.

I post this item as an example and in homage to the powerful horror of addiction and how brutal it can be. Addiction is an equal opportunity destroyer and it harms anyone who is or knows and cares for anyone who is addicted. Addiction casts a large net.

Excerpts from AP via Sports Illustrated -

Steve Howe killed in truck accident
Posted: Friday April 28, 2006 6:58PM; Updated: Friday April 28, 2006 10:27PM

NEW YORK (AP) -- Steve Howe, the relief pitcher whose promising career was derailed by cocaine and alcohol abuse, died Friday when his pickup truck rolled over in Coachella, Calif. He was 48.

Howe was killed at 5:55 a.m. PDT about 130 miles east of Los Angeles, said Dalyn Backes of the Riverside County coroner's office. He had been in Arizona on business and was driving back home to Valencia, Calif., business partner Judy Welp said.

Toxicology tests had not yet been performed.

The hard-throwing lefty was the 1980 NL Rookie of the Year with Los Angeles, closed out the Dodgers' 1981 World Series championship and was an All-Star the next year.

But for all of his success on the field, Howe was constantly troubled by addictions -- he was suspended seven times and became a symbol of the rampant cocaine problem that plagued baseball in the 1980s.

During the 1992 season, he became the first baseball player to be banned for life because of drugs. An arbitrator reinstated him after the season.

In recent years, he owned an energy drink company in Arizona.

Two days after the Yankees let him go in 1996, Howe was arrested at a Delta Airlines terminal at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport when a loaded .357 Magnum was detected inside his suitcase. He later pleaded guilty to gun possession and was placed on three years' probation and given 150 hours of community service.

Chicago White Sox coach Tim Raines played with Howe in that final year.

"You always get second chances -- third and fourth sometimes. And people really believed in him and that he'd eventually kick the problem. Unfortunately, it didn't happen for him," he said.

Howe tried a comeback in 1997 with Sioux Falls of the independent Northern League and retired after injuring his forearm. That August, he was critically injured in a motorcycle accident in Montana and charged with drunken driving; those charges were later dropped when prosecutors decided his blood test was improperly obtained.

Howe was suspended for the 1984 season by commissioner Bowie Kuhn for cocaine use. Howe was out of the majors in 1986 after a relapse the previous August with Minnesota.

Texas released him before the 1988 season because of an alcohol problem, and he did not pitch again in the big leagues until 1991.

"Howsie had some issues everybody knew about," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said in San Francisco. "Everybody who hasn't played with him didn't know what kind of teammate he was. What you hear about Steve is the drug stuff. ... He was kind of the captain of the bullpen out there."

Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow played against Howe in the NL West.

"When I heard it today, I thought 'What a life this guy had,"' Krukow said, his eyes red. "So many tragic things happened to him in a young 48 years. Maybe he's at peace. He was the nicest guy in the world but he had some demons, unfortunately."

Howe was 7-9 with 17 saves in 1980, pitching in 59 games as a major part of the Dodgers' bullpen. He played for Los Angeles through the 1983 season.

"He had a lot of talent and his heart was in the right place," former teammate Steve Sax said. "He meant well. He had a lot of opportunities. He just had a lot of problems that he couldn't solve."

Howe was survived by his wife, Cindy, daughter Chelsi and son Brian.
Read All>>

Prayers for those who suffer from addiction, may a higher power find them now.

The Los Angeles Times Renders Verdict On The Many Faces Of Michael Hiltzik

Image Credit:

This has been a difficult time for the editors and managers over at the LA Times.

What do you do when one of your Pulitzer Prize winning staff columnists commits a fraud of persona in order to bolster the positions he stakes out in the pursuit of establishing credibility in a New Media medium?

Here are two reactions to The LA Times action toward Michael Hiltzik's violation of the paper's code of ethics:

This from Captian's Quarters -

April 28, 2006
Hiltzik Loses Column Over Sock Puppetry

Last week, Patterico's Pontifications discovered that Los Angeles Times columnist and blogger Michael Hiltzik had created multiple personas for comments on Patterico's blog as well as Hiltzik's own. When Patterico posted the evidence of the phony personas, Hiltzik's newspaper suspended his blog while it investigated the behavior of its Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist. Now the Times has announced that Hiltzik will lose his column for his violation of their ethics policy, although he will remain as a reporter with the paper:

(From the paper's website:)

The Times is discontinuing Michael Hiltzik’s Golden State column, which ran in the Business section, because the columnist violated the newspaper’s ethics guidelines. This follows the suspension last week of his blog on,which also has been discontinued. Hiltzik has acknowledged using pseudonyms to post a single comment on his blog on and multiple comments elsewhere on the Web that dealt with his column and other issues involving the newspaper.

Hiltzik did not commit any ethical violations in his newspaper column, and an internal inquiry found no inaccurate reporting in his postings in his blog or on the Web. But employing pseudonyms constitutes deception and violatesa central tenet of The Times’ ethics guidelines: Staff members must notmisrepresent themselves and must not conceal their affiliation with The Times. This rule applies equally to the newspaper and the Web world.

Over the past few days, some analysts have used this episode to portraythe Web as a new frontier for newspapers, saying that it raises fresh andcompelling ethical questions. Times editors don’t see it that way. The Web makesit easier to conceal one’s identity, and the tone of exchanges is often harsh. But the Web doesn’t change the rules for Times journalists.

After serving a suspension, Hiltzik will be reassigned.

The message the Times wants to send with this action doesn't appear very clear to me. Why go through all the hassle to kill his blog and his column, suspend him, and then have his work still appear in their newspaper? Cancelling his blog acknowledges that he has shot his credibility in this arena, and the suspension serves as a financial penalty for embarrassing his newspaper. But canceling his column demonstrates a lack of faith in Hiltzik's credibility as a columnist -- which must then also apply to his work as a reporter. The Times has kneecapped Hiltzik for any other assignment at the Times.

The Times had the right principles in mind when they addressed this situation; they held Hiltzik accountable for his sad and pathetic attempts to invent people who would agree with him. Either they went overboard in their attack on his print work, or they should have fired him outright, and to do the latter would have been completely dishonest. The true punishment for Hiltzik's foolishness is the knowledge that he made himself into a joke. The Times couldn't leave it at that and turned him into a tragedy instead.

And excerpts from Hugh Hewitt -

The Los Angeles Times Suspends Hiltzik, Discontinues His Column and Blog
by Hugh Hewitt - April 28, 2006 04:42 PM PST

Isn't it at least a little ironic that the Times releases this information on a Friday afternoon, traditional burial ground of bad news-- in an obvious effort to have the story pass with as little attention as possible? So much for transparency.

Michael Hiltzik is just one of hundreds of examples of ideologicially blinkered agenda journalists at the Times. He just got caught.

The Times concludes "an internal inquiry found no inaccurate reporting."
Yeah. Right. Very believable. Hiltzik may become an invisible presence at the paper, the Pulitzer Prize winner at the copy desk, or he may quit, but he'll no doubt haunt message boards.

But the culture at the Times that produced him quite obviously stays the same.

Friday, April 28, 2006

An Idea Who's Time Has Come, Or ...

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., discusses a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee report on the response to hurricane Katrina during a news conference on Capitol Hill, Thursday, April 27, 2006. Photo Credit: AP Photo/Dennis Cook

... More Moving Of Chairs On The Titanic!

Excerpts from AP story via CBS News -

Katrina Report Rips the White House Anew
Apr 27, 11:01 PM (ET)

WASHINGTON (AP) - A Senate inquiry into the government's Hurricane Katrina failures ripped the Bush administration anew Thursday and urged the scrapping of the nation's disaster response agency. But with a new hurricane season just weeks away, senators conceded that few if any of their proposals could become reality in time.

It said the Homeland Security Department either misunderstood federal disaster plans or refused to follow them. And it said New Orleans for years had neglected to prepare for large-scale emergencies.

"The suffering that continued in the days and weeks after the storm passed did not happen in a vacuum; instead, it continued longer that it should have because of - and was in some cases exacerbated by - the failure of government at all levels to plan, prepare for and respond aggressively to the storm," concluded the report.

It was titled "Hurricane Katrina: A Nation Still Unprepared," sober words for the future.

The senators concluded that only by abolishing the Federal Emergency Management Agency - which Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, called a "bumbling bureaucracy" - and replacing it with a stronger authority could the government best respond to future catastrophes.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., said FEMA needs to be stripped out of the larger department and restored as an independent Cabinet-level agency. "That's how it was done in the past and it worked as we hoped," said Lautenberg, a member of the Senate panel.

But Robert Latham, director of Mississippi's emergency response efforts, said lingering funding and manpower problems should be addressed before such a drastic step is taken.

"Changing the name of something doesn't fix a problem, other than maybe fixes a perception," Latham said. "Maybe FEMA has taken such a bashing that the name recognition itself will be hard to overcome."

Read All>>

One may notice that the truth (highlighted) is stronger than the Senate's intent and the title of this Main Stream Media (AP) report piece.

Why don't we just repair the chairs? First responders (local governments) need to step up and take on the first level responsibilities.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The End Of Commercial Aviation Era In So. Cal.

Boeing assembly mechanic Norman Wade works on a Boeing 717 in Long Beach, Calif. Photo Credit: AP

From Burbank, to Glendale, to Inglewood, and Long Beach, Southern California aviation sees the passing of a major era in comercial aviation. The former McDonnell-Douglas Corporation aircraft company has produced will and deliver its last commercial aircraft next month, leaving only the C-17 Tanker aircraft contract with the military to fulfill.

Excerpts from AP via The Washington Times -

Californian aviation comes in for a landing
By Gary Gentile - ASSOCIATED PRESS - April 27, 2006

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- The last Boeing 717 has left the factory.

The slender airliner, trailed by dozens of the workers who built it, was rolled out before dawn last week and towed across a boulevard to Long Beach Airport.

Its delivery to AirTran Airways next month will mark the end of seven decades of commercial airplane production in Southern California.

"More aviation history has been made in Southern California than in any other place in the world," said Bill Schoneberger, author of "California Wings," a history of aviation in the state.

"But we've evolved. The aeronautics industry has moved from an airplane business into a systems business," he said.

Today's workers build satellites, helicopters and unmanned surveillance drones while developing rockets and military jets that are made elsewhere.

Southern California aviation history dates to the early 1900s and features pioneers such as Howard Hughes, Jack Northrop and Donald Douglas, whose Douglas Aircraft built the DC-1 in 1933, one of the first commercial passenger planes made.

The region featured weather that accommodated year-round flying, drawing companies that produced bombers and fighter planes during World War II. Later came jetliners such as the DC-8, DC-9, DC-10, MD-80, MD-90, MD-11 and L-1011 TriStar and space vehicles that included the Apollo capsule and space shuttle. Boeing acquired the Long Beach plant in August 1997 when it bought McDonnell-Douglas Corp.

Read All>> (free subscription)

Suspend The Tax On Gas NOW!

Oil prices in downtown Los Angeles. Photo Credit: AP

It is first, time to laugh, and then cry.

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) calls for the "breakup" of oil companies.

Our political leaders never see the easy answer when it is right there in their direct power to seize the day.

This observation from the Washington Post -

Going a Short Way to Make a Point
Dana Milbank -Thursday, April 27, 2006; Page A02

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.

Gas prices have gone above $3 a gallon again, and that means it's time for another round of congressional finger-pointing.

"Since George Bush and Dick Cheney took over as president and vice president, gas prices have doubled!" charged Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), standing at an Exxon station on Capitol Hill where regular unleaded hit $3.10. "They are too cozy with the oil industry."

She then hopped in a waiting Chrysler LHS (18 mpg) -- even though her Senate office was only a block away.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) used a Hyundai Elantra to take the one-block journey to and from the gas-station news conference. He posed in front of the fuel prices and gave them a thumbs-down. "Get tough on big oil!" he demanded of the Bush administration.

By comparison, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) was a model of conservation. She told a staffer idling in a Jetta to leave without her, then ducked into a sushi restaurant for lunch before making the journey back to work.

At about the same time, House Republicans were meeting in the Capitol for their weekly caucus (Topic A: gas). The House driveway was jammed with cars, many idling, including eight Chevrolet Suburbans (14 mpg).

America may be addicted to oil, as President Bush puts it. But America is in the denial phase of this addiction -- as evidenced by the behavior of its lawmakers. They have proposed all kinds of solutions to high gas prices: taxes on oil companies, domestic oil drilling and releasing petroleum reserves. But they ignore the obvious: that Americans drive too much in too-big cars.

Senators were debating a war spending bill yesterday, but the subject invariably turned to gas prices. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) engaged his deputy, Dick Durbin (Ill.), in a riveting colloquy. "Is the senator aware that the L.A. Times headline reads today, 'Bush's Proposals Viewed as a Drop in the Bucket'?"

"I'm aware of that," Durbin replied.

Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) responded with an economics lesson. "Oil is worth what people pay for it," he argued.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) sounded the alarms. "We are one accident or one terrorist attack away from oil at $100 a barrel!"

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) made a plea for conservation. "We have to move quickly to increase our fuel efficiency," she urged.

But not too quickly. After lunchtime votes, senators emerged from the Capitol for the drive across the street to their offices.

Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) hopped in a GMC Yukon (14 mpg). Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) climbed aboard a Nissan Pathfinder (15). Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) stepped into an eight-cylinder Ford Explorer (14). Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) disappeared into a Lincoln Town Car (17). Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) met up with an idling Chrysler minivan (18).
Next came Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), greeted by a Ford Explorer XLT. On the Senate floor Tuesday, Menendez had complained that Bush "remains opposed to higher fuel-efficiency standards."

Also waiting: three Suburbans, a Nissan Armada V8, two Cadillacs and a Lexus. The greenest senator was Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), who was picked up by his hybrid Toyota Prius (60 mpg), at quadruple the fuel efficiency of his Indiana counterpart Evan Bayh (D), who was met by a Dodge Durango V8 (14).

As a political matter, Democrats clearly sense that they have the advantage on the high gas prices, judging from the number of speeches and news conferences. "The cost of Republican corruption when it comes to energy is hitting home very clearly for America's middle class," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) exulted yesterday morning.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) introduced an amendment to repeal oil-company tax breaks and distribute $500 tax rebates to consumers. It was quickly ruled out of order.

But Republicans were clearly feeling defensive. "We passed an energy bill last year, last July," House Speaker Dennis Hastert (Ill.) pleaded at a morning news conference. "It changes CAFE [corporate average fuel economy] standards. It changes some of the things that we can do -- I'm sorry, changes not the CAFE standards, but changes some of the supply issues, boutique fuels, all these things."

Only Sen. Mark Dayton (D-Minn.), who can speak freely because he is retiring, was willing to note the disconnect between rhetoric and action. "People say, understandably, 'Solve our energy problems right now, but don't make us do anything differently,' " he said on the Senate floor.

If the politics of gasoline favor Democrats at the moment, the insincerity is universal. A surreptitious look at the cars in the senators-only spots inside and outside the Senate office buildings found an Escort and a Sentra (super-rich Wisconsin Democrat Herb Kohl's spot had a Chevy Lumina), but far more Jaguars, Cadillacs and Lexuses and a fleet of SUVs made by Ford, Honda, BMW and Lexus.

A sampling of senators' and staff cars parked along Delaware Avenue NE found that those displaying Democratic campaign bumper stickers had a somewhat higher average fuel economy (23 mpg) than those displaying GOP stickers (18 mpg). A fuel-efficiency rating could not be found for the 1970s-era Volkswagen "Thing" owned by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.).

Maybe, lawmakers are starting to learn. When GOP senators had a lunch Tuesday a couple of blocks from the Capitol, many took cars. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) emerged from the lunch looking for his ride when he spied The Washington Post's Shailagh Murray. Reconsidering, he set out on foot. "I need the exercise," he reasoned.
Link Here>>

Did you know that the taxes on each gallon of gasoline are greater than the profit received at each level in the petroleum process chain - More than the oil company that finds and processes the oil, more than the distributors that store and move the oil to the gas stations, and more than the gas station itself when they take your money that fills your tank.

The entity that profits the most from high gas prices is the only entity that does nothing to provide the fuel for our cars - and can do the most about cutting the cost of fuel to each of us by suspending the tax on fuel - The U.S. Government (those folks that Dana Milbank observes in the above piece).

Maybe, we all should call for the breakup of the Congress.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Increase In Fuel Costs Alters Food Choices: Study

With the increase in fuel costs hitting our family budgets, our choices for how and where we choose to get our food will change noticeably an ACNielson study finds.

Here in the U.S., Take-Out will be the first to go.

Excerpts from AC Neilson study via Progerssive Grocer -

U.S. Consumers Cut Take-out as Belts Tighten: ACNielsen Study

APRIL 26, 2006 -- NEW YORK -- When the going gets tough, Americans stop going for take-out, according to a new survey conducted by ACNielsen.

The aversion to take-out as belts tighten is apparently a distinctly American phenomenon, according to the world's leading market research and information company, which studied consumer patterns worldwide. In the United States, unlike most markets surveyed, consumers cited cutting down on take-out meals as their most popular cost-cutting method. Just over half of all respondents (57 percent) worldwide claimed they would cut down on out-of-home entertainment, and spend less on new clothes (53 percent) to stay within their budgets, with nearly half (48 percent) also saying they would delay upgrading technology to tighten their belts.
Across the five regions surveyed, consumer priorities varied, most notably in North America. While out-of-home entertainment was the first thing consumers would cut down on in Latin America (61 percent), Asia Pacific (58 percent) and Europe (54 percent), in North America, the first thing to go for 70 percent of Canadians and 66 percent of Americans would be the take-out meals, ahead of out-of-home entertainment, which ranked second. Moreover, North Americans cited 'trying to save on gas and electricity' as their third preferred cost-saving measure.
ACNielsen pointed to two findings of particular interest to U.S. food retailers and manufacturers of consumer packaged goods business. First, when asked if they would switch to cheaper grocery brands, 42 percent identified it as a cost saving strategy. Not surprisingly with the rising power of hard-discount retailers in Europe, European consumers scored the highest in this area (France 57 percent, Portugal 52 percent, Austria & the Netherlands 51 percent); but the U.S. just missed cracking the top 10, and was well above the global average of 35 percent. Second, the U.S. was the clear leader in identifying the use of coupons as a cost-saving strategy at 46 percent, far ahead of the global average of 19 percent.
Read All>>

Drug Use Hits Another Target In TV Pilot

Image Credit: Google Images

In just a few days, at the end of this month as a matter of fact, I will have quit the use of alcohol and tobacco in my life. The "birthday" will be my 14th and, coincidentally, happens just before the Rodney King verdict riots, so the timing is pretty easy to remember.

Addiction is a pretty ugly monster and an equal opportunity horror.

Excerpts from the New York Post, Page Six -

Page Six - By Richard Johnson, With Paula Froelich and Chris Wilson

April 26, 2006 -- SUPERSTAR scriptwriter Aaron Sorkin is following the adage "Write what you know" for his new NBC series, and borrowing from his own personal history with drugs.

In the pilot for "Studio 60," an award-winning TV writer (played by Bradley Whitford of "The West Wing") loses the chance to direct his first movie when he tests positive for cocaine. That disqualifies him for the job because the studio wouldn't be able to get insurance with him at the helm, according to a copy of the script that's turned up on the Internet.

While that story might not directly parallel Sorkin's own, he is no stranger to the consequences of drug abuse. Sorkin, 45, was arrested in April 2001 at Burbank Airport after cocaine, marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms (and, reportedly, a crack pipe) were found in his carry-on luggage.

He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to drug treatment, which he had also undergone previously in 1995, to kick a crack habit.

In 2003, Sorkin stunned the cast of "The West Wing" - the series he created and which won four Emmys for Best Drama Series - when he suddenly quit.
And recently, more light was shed on Sorkin's partying past when a former call girl, Dimitra Ekmektsis, claimed in her memoir that Sorkin was a regular customer between 1990 and 1992 and often smoked pot and crack in his sessions with her.
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At MAXINE, we pray that this horror no longer is a part of Aaron Sorkin's present future other than for the cathartic process of sobriety.

We, who have had to go through the process of breaking an addiction, any addiction, are reminded that this issue is never to far away in our lives. May we all know GOD now.

One Day At A Time

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

PETA And The 3% Solution

Image Credit: Outback Steakhouse, Inc.

When does a shareholder try to hurt the fortunes of a company in the name of making a minority point? When the shareholder is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

In strategy that would make sense, and would be generally be applauded for its ingeniousness, if a large number of like minded individuals believed the same way, PETA has been purchasing shares of target companies so that they can make a point at shareholder meetings.

The latest episode of a targeted grandstanding came today at the Outback Steakhouse, Inc. shareholders meeting. Outback originally tried to block PETA from placing a resolution on the agenda with the Securities and Exchange Commission but the SEC ruled in favor of letting PETA its say.

The problem comes with the vote of this resolution and how little response the response has to be in order to keep the point of view alive.

Excerpts from the Tampa Bay Business Journal -

PETA takes chicken killing to Outback
Tampa Bay Business Journal - 2:41 PM EDT Tuesday
Larry Halstead

Outback Steakhouse Inc. had a showdown with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals at its annual shareholders meeting, held Tuesday at the A La Carte Pavilion in Tampa.

PETA, which owns 80 shares of Outback (NYSE: OSI), wants the company's suppliers to begin moving toward using a method called controlled-atmosphere killing by which the chickens are put to sleep. The process is already being used in approximately one-fourth of the European slaughterhouses, said Matt Prescott, spokesman for PETA.

"We're asking for a feasibility study now, not immediate implementation," Prescott said.

Prescott read a statement at the meeting asking Outback to consider PETA's resolution on controlled-atmosphere killing.
Shareholders voted on the resolution through proxy statements in advance and at the meeting. It received approximately 3.5 percent of the vote, Prescott told the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

When a resolution loses, yet receives at least 3 percent of the vote, a shareholder can resubmit the same resolution for vote at next year's meeting. PETA plans to resubmit the resolution at next year's meeting, Prescott said.

PETA submitted similar resolutions at Kroger, KFC and Hormel, and more than 3 percent voted in favor at all three companies, Prescott said.

In order to propose issues for vote at annual meetings, shareholders must own at least $2,000 of the company's stock, Prescott said. PETA buys shares in companies that deal with animals in their course of business.

"Our real goal here is that the shareholders care about animal rights and that the company moves toward that goal," Prescott said.
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3.5% hardly deserves the title of "shareholders".

With only 3.5% representation of a point of view to be brought up time and time again, is grandstanding pure and simple as MAXINE sees it ... and this is an issue (the method of the killing of chickens purchased from a resource) brought up at a STEAKHOUSE operation.

I suppose they are just "Chicken" to take on the main menu items.

Have tests been run on the chemicals used to put these chickens to "sleep" to ascertain if the residual traces of the chemicals left in the chicken tissue are safe for humans to consume? Just asking! We are, after all, feeding humans here.

This effort by PETA at the Outback shareholders meeting gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "Curbside Take-Away"!

Michael Yon - In The Poppy Fields, Not Kansas

The Sleeping Poppy: Papaver Somniferum. Now I know we’re not in Kansas. People come and go so quickly around here. Photo Credit: Michael Yon

Reporting directly from Afghanistan, Michael Yon continues on his latest journey into the warzone to write the truth as to what is going on - on the ground outside of Kabul.

Excerpts from Michael Yon: Online Magazine -

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006
Desert of Death
Dasht-e-Margo“Desert of Death”
Lashkar Gah to Camp Bastion

As our bags were loaded into the Land Cruiser for the journey toward Dasht-e-Margo, the Desert of Death, a man wearing a bomb closes in. Before striking off, we again visit the PRT in Lashkar Gah, where Steve huddles with some Afghan employees. An entire British Army unit has defected, he said, with their weapons and equipment. The Afghans grow quiet, until Steve says, “And they joined the Taliban.”

After talking with some friendly British soldiers we start the drive into a mostly desolate stretch through scattered villages. Steve needs to get to Camp Bastion where he has about $12 million in current construction contracts, and where his crews are just finishing the new base camps for the British Army.

Business and politics don’t count for much when a brainwashed man wearing a bomb is trying to make some westerners into Humpty Dumpty’s. The human-bomb-delivery-system was lurking close by, and ready to begin tracking a target. To me, suicide bombers are cheap laser-guided-precision-munitions, without the lasers.

Often when an attack is imminent, shops will close and children will vanish from the streets, and such was the case today. Driving away from the PRT down rough unpaved road toward the Desert of Death, a breakdown, flat tire, or a minor accident could be fatal, exposing us to bandits, Taliban or even Al Qaeda, not to mention that man who was packing lots of explosives. He was parked, according to a British soldier, in a red Toyota just near the PRT. The soldier said the man got out of the Toyota just as some Dyncorp contractors came by, and he walked over to the armored SUV and BOOM!
In many villages there was enough water to grow vast amounts of poppy. I was scanning for ambushes when Steve said, “A lot of times they’ll set up road blocks wearing police or Army uniforms.”

“But that’s not fair.” I chuckled, “That’s cheating.”

Steve laughed, “Sure is Mister. Sure is.”

In fact, hundreds of Taliban would soon mass on the route ahead resulting in a massive firefight that ended with more than 40 killed.

Steve believes it’s safer to travel overland through desert shortcuts where foreigners rarely venture; the various species of bad guys, he says, do not expect crazy foreigners to rocket through, and by the time we get close enough that they might notice, hopefully we are gone.
Some days earlier I’d read a confidential report saying that 80% of some arable parts of Helmand are growing poppy, but the “good” news is that other areas of Helmand are only 30% under poppy. On average, the report indicated that well over 70% of the cropland in Helmand is yielding poppy. Next week, during harvest, the plants will be dripping and oozing opium. From Afghanistan, it seems obvious why our allies in Europe are concerned even while the U.S. draws down forces here.

No doubt some of the heroin also will land in America. A crop this bountiful is bound to flood the market. The reason most often cited for the Americans’ essential-acquiescence over the poppy is that we do not want to alienate farmers in our search for terrorists, although we contend that opium money funds the terrorists. Some of our European friends see this as, well - they have some choice words. Of those I am willing to convey in writing, the kindest and most diplomatic is that, “You Americans are making a pact with the Devil.” As much as I usually enjoy arguing with Europeans about Americans, there is no fun in it when they are right.”
The vineyard (above) will not generate positive cash flow for about 3 years, and will not make a profit for perhaps 5-6 years, whereas the poppy fields around it turn profits in months. In the long term, the farmer with the vineyard likely can earn greater profits for less work - and not risk the wrath of an eradication team. But in the short term, where eradication is practically non-existent, the opium is sweet and grapes are sour.
There is practically no competition for heroin. What Florida is to the citrus tree, Afghanistan is to Papaver somniferum.
Government offices in some Helmand districts are closing under Taliban pressure. The countryside we saw was obviously not administered by western forces, and did not appear to be controlled by anyone other than, perhaps, the Taliban and the bandits.
Peering out the car window, knowing that bandits or Taliban might be upon us in a flash, I had no idea that a major, very deadly firefight was brewing nearby.
The poppy fields of Afghanistan bring us back to Kansas where, once upon a time when everything was black and white, Dorothy imagines a place where there is no trouble, a place very far away, and she starts singing
“S o m e W h e r e O v e r t h e R a i n b o w .”
We say goodbye to the men who will shortly take to the fields, and we strike out again down Highway 1, away from the Desert of Death, passing by where the trucks were attacked, by the nomads again, through the poppy fields, back to Lashkar Gah, where another suicide attack is unfolding.
Read All, Really!>>

Compelling. If you can support his efforts, please do so at the bottom of the article/post at his site.

Enforcement Of Law Means Enforcement

Image Cerdit: The Minuteman Civil Defense Corps Fence Project

When is an illegal immigrant crackdown more like the response to a natural disaster than the enforcement of laws? When the Department of Homeland Security (through its sub-agency ICE, this time) responds ineffectively to a situation that requires FOLLOWTHROUGH, that's when!

Last week, ICE (the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement department) rounded up almost 1,200 illegal immigrants and seven current or former managers at a Netherlands-based firm that hired them. They were arrested, and most were released on a "notice to appear".

This action has no follow-through. Where does this government think these released individuals are going to go? They all are proven lawbreakers and immediate action is required.

Excerpted opinion from the New York Post -


April 25, 2006 -- IT happened last Wednesday, and it was nicely timed.

One week later - about now, in fact - the U.S. Senate was scheduled to reconvene to discuss an immigration bill. The bill proposes to amnesty most of the 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. and to admit millions more legally as guest-workers. The controversial measure is strongly promoted by the White House and both party leaderships in the Senate - but opposed by most Republican congressmen and a large majority of voters.

Something was needed to break the log-jam of opposition.

And last Wednesday federal agents "swooped" on plants in 26 states belonging to IFCO, a U.S. subsidiary of a Dutch firm supplying wood pallets and plastic containers to industry, and arrested 1,187 illegal immigrant workers. Seven former and current IFCO managers were also charged with employing illegal aliens. The next day, Homeland Security czar Michael Chertoff held a press conference to stress that such tough enforcement of immigration law, internally as well as at the border, would now be the rule.

Having established its willingness to crack down on illegality, the administration's political machine crossed its fingers and hoped that this display would now help passage of the "Not an Amnesty" law.

All this was not only timely; it was powerfully symbolic. What it symbolized, however, was not the tough enforcement of immigration law but its colander-like leaky ineffectiveness.

For even before Chertoff had spoken (but not before blogger Michelle Malkin had predicted it), four-fifths of the illegals arrested had been . . . released.
I recently suggested - wrongly - that there had been little or no enforcement of employer sanctions since the passage of the 1986 amnesty law; that, once an illegal reached a major city such as Los Angeles, Phoenix or Chicago, he was safe from official interest and could work unmolested. That was not quite accurate. The Clinton administration in fact managed some (albeit patchy) "internal" enforcement of employer sanctions. For instance, the period 1995-1997 saw 10,000 to 18,000 worksite arrests of illegals a year. Some 1,000 employers were served notices of fines for employing them.

Under the Bush administration, however, worksite arrests fell to 159 in 2004 - with the princely total of three notices of intent to fine served on employers. Thus, worksite arrests under President Bush have fallen from Clintonian levels by something like 97 per cent - even though 9/11 occurred in the meantime.

In this dramatic relaxation of internal enforcement is the explanation of the rapidly rising estimate of immigrants living and working illegally in the United States - up by more than a million in just the last year. For if people know that they are likely to be safe from enforcement once they escape the border area and reach L.A. or Chicago, then they'll keep trying even if they were caught and returned to their country of origin any number of times.

Porous borders are not only the cause of uncontrolled immigration; they are its result. You cannot control the borders, however many patrols you hire or fences you build, if you grant an effective pardon to anyone who gets a hundred miles inland. It's as simple as that.

If the law were enforced more uniformly - rather than with the current 159 worksite raids and three employer fines - then the number of people deported would rise substantially even if (as last week) only one-fifth of those detained were eventually sent back over the border. It would send a message to those considering illegal entry that they could no longer depend on legal immunity and secure employment once inside America. Those illegals already here, finding their opportunities drying up, would have an incentive to return home legally even if only to increase their chances of legal immigration later.

These changes would occur gradually, allowing businesses to adapt to the tighter labor market. And the border would, seemingly by magic, become less porous as interior law enforcement reduced the incentive to cross it.

This is called "the attrition strategy" by Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies. It is far more practical than the either an amnesty or a guest-worker program. And it requires neither legislation nor official game-playing to implement it.

By contrast, every time the unpopular Bush-Senate "compromise" bill meets an obstacle, Karl Rove will have to pick up a telephone and utter the famous line from "Casablanca": Round up the usual suspects.
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This "attrition strategy" sounds like a good step but first we need to show that we are serious about attaining respect for our immigration laws and our border.

PUT UP THE FENCE ... deport found illegals ... deeply fine companies hiring known illegals.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Pepsi vs Coke - Who Has More Lead?

Photo Credit:

It is kind of a trick question. The lead is contained in the printing of the labels applied to the bottles and PEPSI has just settled a lawsuit.

Excerpts from the Los Angeles Times -

Pepsi Agrees to Get the Lead Out of Labels
L.A. and the state sued because bottles from Mexican plants contain the substance and some businesses sell them in Southern California.
By Patrick McGreevy, Times Staff Writer - April 22, 2006

Settling a lawsuit by the city of Los Angeles and the state, PepsiCo Inc. has agreed to eliminate labels containing lead on bottled soft drinks imported from Mexico and will pay a $1-million civil penalty, officials announced Friday.

The lawsuit alleged that the soft-drink maker violated Proposition 65 by failing to warn consumers that the labels contained lead.

"This is a landmark result which will protect the health of our children and make our communities safer," City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo said at a City Hall news conference. "Pepsi is here with us today doing the responsible thing."

Under the settlement, filed in court Friday, PepsiCo will begin phasing out labels containing lead and will remove existing soda bottled in Mexico from shelves in California.

In addition to the $1-million civil penalty, the company could face an additional $4.25 million in penalties if it fails to phase out 95% of the labels with lead within 10 years.

PepsiCo also will pay $500,000 to a fund for monitoring whether Mexican Pepsi bottles are coming into California and to other programs on lead abatement in food.

The firm also will pay $750,000 to reimburse investigative and attorney costs, Delgadillo said.

The CocaCola Co. issued a statement saying it "is already — and voluntarily — doing what this settlement requires Pepsi to do in the future, at a cost to the CocaCola system in excess of $25 million."

The firm said all of its bottles made in Mexico are lead-free.

Read All>> (free registration)

20th Highjacker Trial Goes To Jury

This artist's rendering shows court appointed physician Dr. Raymond Patterson, center, being questioned by U.S. Attorney David Novak, right, as Zacarias Moussaoui, left, and U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema listen in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., Thursday, April 20, 2006. Patterson was called by the prosecution as a rebuttal witness to the defenses psychiatric experts who say that Moussaoui is mentally ill. Photo Credit: AP Photo/Dana Verkouteren

This from AP via Yahoo! News -

Jury Takes Up Moussaoui's Fate
By MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press Writer - 1 hour, 18 minutes ago

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Zacarias Moussaoui's fate was placed Monday afternoon in the hands of a jury that will decide whether he is executed for his part in the deaths of Sept. 11, 2001.

Jurors opened deliberations at 2:26 p.m. EDT, after final pleadings from the prosecution to "put an end to his hatred and venom" by opting for execution, and from the defense to spare him the martyr's death he seeks and send him to prison for life instead.

The jury decided in 15 hours of deliberations over four days earlier this month that Moussaoui, 37, the only man charged in this country in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, was responsible for deaths that day even though he was in jail. That qualified him for the death penalty. The question now before jurors is whether he deserves it.
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This story was posted because the watercolor art was compelling.

Oh yeah, Maxine believes that he's goin' down ... to bad it won't be as fast as Flight 93!

UPDATE: This from Reuters -

Moussaoui gets life in jail
By Deborah Charles 40 minutes ago (5-3-2006, 1:40 pm PST)

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (Reuters) - Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person convicted in a U.S. court in connection with September 11, should spend his life in prison instead of being executed for his role in the hijacked airliner attacks, a jury decided on Wednesday.
"America you lost!" Moussaoui shouted as he left the courtroom after hearing the verdict. He clapped his hands and yelled, "I won!"

The 37-year-old French citizen of Moroccan descent will be formally sentenced on Thursday.
The verdict was read by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema at the courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, not far from the
Pentagon, the site of one of the 2001 attacks. It was read simultaneously before television cameras outside the courthouse by spokesman Edward Adams.

At the White House, President George W. Bush hailed the sentencing of the man he said "openly rejoiced" at the deaths on September 11 and said "evil" had been vanquished.
"The end of this trial represents the end of this case, but not an end to the fight against terror," Bush said. "...And we can be confident. Our cause is right, and the outcome is certain: Justice will be served. Evil will not have the final say."

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Well, we can still hope for a Jeffrey Dahmer type of outcome, otherwise we all can look forward to about 30+ years of having to hear his name.

This from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia -

Dahmer served his time at the Columbia Correctional Institute in Portage, Wisconsin. On 28th November, 1994, fellow inmate Christopher Scarver, a double murderer, beat Dahmer and another inmate, Jesse Anderson, to death with a bench-press bar from the prison's weight room. All three were on work detail cleaning a bathroom in the guards' quarters at the time (Because of this incident, American maximum security prisons no longer have a free-weight room). Scarver stated that he was the "son of God" and was acting out his "Father's" commands to kill Dahmer and the other inmate during cleaning duties.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

CIA Leaker Was Clinton Appointee & More

Photo Credit:

A senior Clinton Administration figure (appointed June 16, 1998) became a "mole" in the CIA and illegally leaked classified material to a Washington Post reporter in order to embarrass the Bush Administration. This is as astonishing as it is troubling. You can not make this stuff up.

CIA leaker was a contributor to the Democrats - The New York Times article on the CIA leak case mentions that the leaker, one Mary O. McCarthy, gave $2,000 to Kerry (which, by the way, is the maximum amount she could give). This in light of the fact that she grossly underplays her political involvement. Look it up.

More links put together at Free Republic.

The Lewis 'Scooter' Libbey defense team must be toasting the out of control Dems and the tainted Pulitzer Prize winning MSM right about now.

UPDATE, 4-24-2006, 6:13 AM: The defense of McCarthy has begun in the MSM. This morning on MSNBC's Don Imus program, Andrea Mitchell speculated clearly that the reporter (Dana Priest) had developed the story from many resources.

Further, that the reporter had earned her Pulitzer in that Mary McCarthy was only one of many resources and that Dana Priest probably contacted Mary McCarthy for confirmation of information developed through these other resources - ("THUD!" - the sound of a jaw hitting the floor in un-speculative disbelief).

WHAT? Thank you Andrea Mitchell. Maybe, she should read the above links?

This quote from the American Digest -

Dana Priest: "Well, actually, the media is not breaking the law by publishing classified information. That's still a safeguard we have in the law. The person/s who turn it over are breaking the law, technically. But the courts and the body politic have always looked at this as the cost of democracy and that is one huge reason why reporters have not be pursued previously." -- National Security and Intelligence

Schumacher Takes 2006 San Marino GP

Lap 25 and the leading players in the San Marino Grand Prix have made their first pit stops. The order is Michael Schumacher leading Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, with Felipe Massa and Juan Pablo Montoya running close together in fourth and fifth. Photo Credit: UpdateSport.Com

Former 1999 FedEx Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART), and IRL's 2000 Indianapolis 500 champion, Juan Pablo Montoya, posts a podium finish by finishing third for Team McLaren Mercedes.

This from the Official Formula 1 Website -

Schumacher hangs on to victory
23 April 2006

By the end of the San Marino Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso must have been thoroughly sick of staring at the back of Michael Schumacher’s car.

For much of the second half of the race the pair were separated by barely half a second. But however much the Spanish world champion wanted to find a way past, Schumacher’s dogged defence of his position proved impregnable. And by the closing stages of the race, it was clear that Alonso had settled for second place and the eight points that go with it.

Juan Pablo Montoya claimed the third step of the podium for McLaren - but the team will have been demoralised by a relative lack of pace that prevented their drivers from getting on terms with Alonso and Schumacher. Felipe Massa ended the race in fourth place with the second Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen was fifth and Mark Webber deserves mention for a strong drive to sixth in the Williams.
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This from Reuters -

UPDATE 1-Schumacher a winner again for Ferrari
Sun Apr 23, 2006 3:09 PM BST

By Alan Baldwin

IMOLA, Italy, April 23 (Reuters) - Michael Schumacher won the San Marino Grand Prix for his and Ferrari's first victory of the Formula One season on Sunday.

It was the seven-times world champion's 85th career success, and seventh at Ferrari's home circuit, but he was harried all the way by Renault's world champion Fernando Alonso.

In a repeat of last year's nose-to-tail thriller only in reverse order, with that race won by Alonso with Schumacher failing to find a way past, the German held on to win by 2.0 seconds.

Schumacher's last victory was at the six-car U.S. Grand Prix last June, a race that turned into a fiasco when all the Michelin teams pulled out before the start.

His last real win was the Japanese Grand Prix in October 2004, a season he dominated with 13 victories.

Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya was third for McLaren, ahead of Brazilian Felipe Massa for Ferrari and Kimi Raikkonen in another McLaren.

Australian Mark Webber was sixth for Williams, with Briton Jenson Button seventh for Honda and Italian Giancarlo Fisichella taking the last point for Renault.

Alonso, winner of two of the season's first three races, extended his championship lead by one point to 15 with Schumacher moving up to second overall.

The Spaniard has 36 points, Schumacher 21 and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen 18. Renault lead the constructors' standings with 51 points to McLaren's 33 and Ferrari's 30.
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Record F1 Qualifying Mark Set In Imola, Italy

Ayrton Senna ponders what might have been after dropping out of the Canadian Grand Prix, June 2nd 1991. Photo Credit: Artemis Images - ©Steve Mohlenkamp (ht:

On Saturday afternoon, Michael Schumacher broke a near sacred pole qualifying position record held by racing legend Ayrton Senna by marking his 66th pole starting position while qualifying for the San Marino Grand Prix race to be run today. Incidentally, Senna's last pole position (#65) was achieved and career ending crash came at this very same racing circuit on May 1, 1994.

This from the Official Formula 1 Website -

Michael Schumacher and Ferrari gave their fans what they wanted in qualifying for the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola this afternoon, taking pole position and thus breaking the record he held jointly with the late Ayrton Senna.

However, the final 20-minute shootout was a close-run thing with Jenson Button putting his Honda on the front row close to the end of the session.

On the lap that Schumacher stopped the clocks in 1m 22.795s, Button banged in a 1m 22.988s to push aside team mate Rubens Barrichello.

The Brazilian subsequently lapped his RA106 in 1m 23.242s to take third place away from Ferrari’s Felipe Massa.

The younger Brazilian had an off-course moment exiting the Variante Alta chicane, but made amends with 1m 23.702s.
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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Japan Makes A Great Tune-Up For May's INDY 500

Helio Castroneves climbs fence in win at Japan’s Twin Ring Motegi racetrack – Photo Credit: Ron McQueeney, IRL

At Honda's home track, Castroneves and Penske make a strong statement of readiness for a record matching run at Indianapolis next month.

With this season’s second win in a row, Helio Castroneves showed that he is ready to be counted among the rare club of drivers that can lay claim to winning the Indianapolis 500 open-wheel automobile race three times, with a win in the 500 this May. He currently leads in the 2006 season race points and has shown the consistency by winning two of the three races run this season.

Excerpts from -

Saturday, April 22, 2006
Castroneves wins second consecutive race, adds to points lead
By Dave Lewandowski -

MOTEGI, Japan – Helio Castroneves showed his powerful hand in practice sessions at Twin Ring Motegi. When the stakes were higher in the fourth Indy Japan 300, he took the pot.

Oh, there were plenty of others in the game – including runner-up Dan Wheldon and third-place finisher Tony Kanaan, who both acknowledged they didn’t have enough to catch Castroneves near the end of the 200-lap race on the 1.5-mile egg-shaped oval.

They really didn’t have any answers from the midpoint onward. How dominating was Castroneves, who climbed the fence for the second consecutive race? Well, here are a few examples:

● He led 184 laps.
● His fastest race lap was 190 (199.910 mph; 27.3723 seconds).
● His second-fastest lap was 180 (199.847 mph).

"What a team, what a team,” said Castroneves, who was whisked with champagne bottle in hand from Victory Circle to team owner Roger Penske’s plane for the flight to Phoenix to catch the Team Penske cars in the NASCAR Nextel Cup race the same day (the International Date Line is a wonderful thing heading east).

It was Castroneves’ fourth IndyCar Series victory from the pole and ninth overall (eight on ovals).

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Global Warming Is Less Alarming, Scientists Say

Photo Credit: NASA

It is OK to feel better about the prospects about our planet on this coming observance of Earth Day 2006. It turns out that our Earth is not warming as fast as all of the alarmists, who are able to grab media attention, say it is warming.

A study released by scientists, using data, organic evidence (tree rings), and computer models, tells us that we should not buy in to the scare tactics used by opportunists who are trying to profit economically or politically from the potential of a dramatic rise in the Earth's temperature.

Excerpts from The Washington Times -

Scientists cool outlook on global warming
By Jennifer Harper - THE WASHINGTON TIMES - April 21, 2006

Global warming may not be as dramatic as some scientists have predicted.

Using temperature readings from the past 100 years, 1,000 computer simulations and the evidence left in ancient tree rings, Duke University scientists announced yesterday that "the magnitude of future global warming will likely fall well short of current highest predictions."
Supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation, the Duke researchers noted that some observational studies predicted that the Earth's temperature could rise as much as 16 degrees in this century because of an increase in carbon dioxide or other so-called greenhouse gases.

The Duke estimates show the chances that the planet's temperature will rise even by 11 degrees is only 5 percent, which falls in line with previous, less-alarming predictions that meteorologists made almost three decades ago.
The topic of global warming, meanwhile, will be framed dramatically in "An Inconvenient Truth," a 94-minute documentary featuring former Vice President Al Gore, who has deemed rising temperatures "a planetary emergency." The Hollywood production will be released to theaters in May and is billed by producer Davis Guggenheim as "the most terrifying film you will ever see."

The production also recommends that viewers take "political action." On Tuesday, Mr. Gore paid Roy Neel, a longtime Democratic adviser, $40,000 to help him create a public outreach program on global warming, the New York Daily News reported.

The American Spectator and columnist Jonah Goldberg have accused Mr. Gore of "green" scaremongering.
Read All>> (subscription)

MAXINE says .. It's OK to enjoy the day, on Earth Day!

Friday, April 21, 2006

#2 Responds To #1 E85 FlexFuel Ground Swell

"SWITCHGRASS" - Release Name, El Reno - Scientific Name, Bouteloua curtipendula - Common Name, sideoats grama - This is only one of many switchgrass varieties - Photo Credit: USDA

Toyota, the world's #2 automaker, has begun discussions to consider offering E85 capable cars. General Motors, the world's #1 automaker, has offered E85 FlexFuel cars since 1999 and has the most extensive line of automobile form factors that are able to make use of this fuel alternative.

Ford and Chrysler have models available and ready for the market, but Chrysler currently only offers its E85 car in its fleet sales division.

Toyota may be able to offer an E85 car in the marketplace by 2008. Toyota is currently deeply committed to its electric/gas hybrid technology powered automobiles that use electric motors to assist a petrol gas powered engine to achieve greater fuel economy.

The main problem with a hybrid technology approach, given the current geo-political problems that surround the cost and availability of oil, is that it still requires and consumes a greater amount of petrol based fuel than an E85 powered vehicle would require and consume.

The main problem with E85 is distribution. Once distribution is established, the problem will be production with the key structure being local, in-country resources. America does not need to purchase ethanol from foreign resources so that we then become dependent on other countries for our fuel needs (the problem we now have with our petrol fuel needs).

Excerpts from the Daily Breeze -

Report: Toyota plans on ethanol
U.S. sales of alternative-fuel vehicles from the Japanese company would start by 2008, financial newspaper says.
By Muhammed El-Hasan - Daily Breeze

Toyota Motor Corp. will announce in a few months its plans for vehicles powered by ethanol, a company spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Financial Times reported Wednesday that the Japanese automaker plans to sell ethanol- powered vehicles in the United States by 2008, citing an unnamed company executive.

Cindy Knight, a spokeswoman for Toyota's North American sales and marketing arm in Torrance, said she could not confirm the Financial Times report. Knight did say that the company was studying the technology.

"Toyota is looking at a range of alternatives for cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles. And ethanol is one of many," Knight said. "It's something that we are looking at doing. But we haven't made an official decision on what vehicles we'll offer it in and when. That decision will come in the next few months."
California has only four stations that sell E85, and not all of them are open to the public, Barthmus said. GM is pushing to make E85 available more broadly, including in California. GM ran TV ads during Super Bowl XL and the Winter Olympics to promote ethanol with the slogan "Live Green Go Yellow."

E85 may be scarce in California, but much of the gasoline the state's residents use already has ethanol, spokeswoman Carolin Keith said.

ExxonMobil's Torrance refinery bought ethanol to mix with the gasoline it sells. The ethanol is used as a substitute for MTBE, which was phased out in California in 2004 because of concerns it polluted groundwater. The Torrance refinery phased out MTBE in 2003.

"I think things are changing with ethanol and biofuel," Knight (Toyota spokesperson) said. "So I think you'll see more of that in California because we've got the agriculture."
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The sooner we get to E85 as a standard for our automobile fuel needs, the sooner we will be on a stronger "war footing", we will get a cleaner burning fuel alternative as a bonus!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

ICE Begins Crack Down

Demonstrators march through the streets of Los Angeles to protest against legislation that cracks down against illegal immigrants, April 15, 2006. Almost 1,200 illegal immigrants and seven current or former managers at a Netherlands-based firm that hired them were arrested as part of a national crackdown, authorities said on Thursday. (Photo Credit: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Dutch company feels frostbitten as ICE (the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement department) begins crackdown. Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security states that this is only the beginning.

The effort is aimed at those who are "exploiting illegal aliens'' and "who adopt as a business model the systematic violation of immigration laws,'' Chertoff told reporters in Washington. The government will "make sure we come down as hard as possible.''

Excerpts from Reuters via Yahoo! News -

Workers, managers arrested in immigration case
By James Vicini - Thu Apr 20, 12:58 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Almost 1,200 illegal immigrants and seven current or former managers at a Netherlands-based firm that hired them were arrested as part of a national crackdown, U.S. authorities said on Thursday.

Raids were carried out this week in 26 states at plants operated by IFCO Systems North America, which is based in Houston and makes wooden pallets and crates.
IFCO said in a statement that it is cooperating fully with the investigation and that it hopes "to have this matter resolved as soon as possible." The North American operation is a unit IFCO Systems, based in Amsterdam.

About half of the firm's 5,800 U.S. employees in 2005 had invalid or mismatched Social Security numbers, federal officials said.
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So doing the math, ICE still has a little more work to do (about another 1,200 illegal aliens to go) at IFCO. Jobs open up in 26 states for high jobless segments of our society.

Help Wanted! ... from U.S. citizens!

DNC Chief Becomes The New Republican

Howard Dean – Photo Credit: AP

Boy, we all would really love to believe this stated change in position. I do not feel we can trust the Democrats (or the Republicans for that matter) to clamp down on illegal immigration because all politicians look at a body, any body, as a future vote. They do tend to forget that 1) we are at war, and 2) Nearly 80% of the voting citizens of this country want the borders tightened up and the illegal immigrant problem to be solved through enforcement of our laws.

Excerpts from The Washington Times -

Dean calls the border top priority
By Ralph Z. Hallow - THE WASHINGTON TIMES - April 20, 2006

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean yesterday called border security his party's top immigration priority for November.

"The first thing we want is tough border control," he said. "We have to do a much better job on our borders than George Bush has done. And then we can go to the policy disagreements about how to get it done."
"If Dean means what he says about border enforcement, that would put the Democrats somewhere to the right of President Bush on immigration," said Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican.

A spokesman for the Republican National Committee dismissed Mr. Dean's "newfound commitment to border security" as "not believable."

Mr. Dean said he wants "immigrants who obey the law and pay taxes to be able to apply for citizenship. We support earned legalization vigorously. And, much to my surprise, so do the American people."
Speaking yesterday at a breakfast for political reporters at the St. Regis Hotel, hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, Mr. Dean told reporters that Democrats would attack Republicans on "values" in this fall's midterm elections.
"Don't forget -- the Republicans have been in power for five years. They've had the House and Senate and the White House most of that time. And they have done nothing about immigration."

Not true, said Mr. King, who represents a district along the Missouri River in western Iowa. He said 200 Democrats voted against a bill passed by the House in December that mandates stronger border security.

"If Dean and his Democrats in the Senate are serious, they could force the president to make a decision to sign or veto an enforcement-only package," he said. Mr. Bush and several Senate Republicans have sought to tie border enforcement to a guest-worker plan -- a program that many of the Republican Party's conservative supporters sharply criticized.
"I have no intention of losing this battle," he said. "They started it, and we are going to win it." Republican National Committee spokesman Danny Diaz yesterday responded scornfully to Mr. Dean's immigration rhetoric.

"Someone should remind Howard Dean that it was [Senate Minority Leader] Harry Reid [Nevada Democrat] who obstructed immigration reform, underscoring the fact that Democrats would rather manipulate the issue than reform it," he said. "President Bush and Republicans in Congress have increased border-security funding by more than 65 percent, expanded the number of border agents by 30 percent and significantly upgraded technology on the border."
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This may be good news for all of us citizens out here if the politics of the situation forces the Democrat and Republican parties to fall all over themselves and appeal to the wishes of the "voting" public.

We Will See!

The Convenience Of Swords And Stars

Extreme Fang - Huge One Hand Weapon - Photo Credit:

The neighborhood standards council in Tacoma, Washington is all up in arms about the sales of "Arms" in convenience stores. It seems that the local convenience stores in the area have been able to identify a niche market in the area for swords, throwing stars, and crossbows. It sounds like the renaissance faire might be just around the corner.

Excerpts from Convenience Store News Daily -

Washington C-Stores Encounter 'Sword Fight'
From Associated Press

TACOMA, Wash. -- Some government officials are crusading to get cheap versions of medieval weapons off the shelves of local Washington convenience stores because the appearance of collectible swords, crossbows and throwing stars is upsetting some customers, reported the Associated Press.

The city’s lawyers are having a difficult time, however, figuring out how to revise Tacoma’s “dangerous weapons” ordinance to stop the stores from selling collectible swords without also making it illegal for grocery stores to sell bread knives or camping stores to offer hunting knives, according to the report.
“I see no reason for a weapon to be convenient,” Fred Brookshire, chairman of the South End Neighborhood Council, told the AP.
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At MAXINE, we are willing to guess that this "Starbucks" guzzling neighborhood council chairman has never been to South Central Los Angeles, say ... after a court verdict.