Friday, March 30, 2007

Jihad schools doing business in Pakistan

Details

THE International Crisis Group has condemned President Pervez Musharraf's failure to curb Pakistan's extremist Islamic schools.

A report released yesterday by the group, headed by former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans, says promises made by General Musharraf in 2002 to reform madrassas, or religious schools, are "in shambles".

Focusing on the city of Karachi as a hotbed of radical madrassa activity that reflects the situation persisting across Pakistan, the ICG report says: "Banned sectarian and jihadi groups, supported by networks of mosques and madrassas, continue to operate openly, with consequences for internal stability and regional and international security."

Karachi's madrassas are "active centres of jihadi militancy and even those without direct links to violence promote an ideology that provides religious justification for such attacks".

Not every private religious school is a jihad school. The word madrassa more or less means Islamic school. But, ...

Army General learns a lesson about WAR!

Sherman said it best but General David Petraeus wasn't listening.

The top U.S. commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, accused Sunni Islamist al Qaeda on Friday of barbarity and said it was trying "to ignite sectarian violence" between minority Sunnis and majority Shi'ites and derail efforts to unify Iraqis.

Did the General expect to be met with open arms in Iraq four years into a war?

Who the HELL hired this wimp?

Details on another bloody week of civil war in Iraq

Wyc Orr opinion in Gainesville Times

In justice debate, 'freedom isn't free' has more than one meaning

By Wyc Orr
GUEST COLUMNIST

The argument in favor of the war in Iraq, and for staying there, has produced a mantra that is closer to that war's battle cry than perhaps any other: "Freedom isn't free." We have all heard it, and many have repeated it.

It is probably a fair guess that The Times columnist Dick Yarbrough, who has often prided himself on his own trip to wartime Iraq, has joined in this ode to freedom. But in his March 17 column condemning the handling of the Brian Nichols case concerning the Fulton County Courthouse shootings, and the judge's failure to limit defense costs and to bring the case to a speedier trial, he conveniently ignores the deeper meanings of that freedom phrase.

Uninformed ranting such as Yarbrough's column harms both public confidence in our justice system and the other kinds of freedom that system protects, and should be promptly rebutted and corrected. Accurate information and clear understanding are especially important as the legislature considers changes to our statewide public defender system, which was created in 2003. This column is for that purpose, to condemn his column rather than Yarbough, who is a gifted humorist and writer.

Yarbrough complains that "the Nichols trial has gone absolutely nowhere," and demands that the judge "get on with the trial." While such criticism plays well with much of the public, and keeps Yarbrough's column popular, it ignores the significant pre-trial proceedings required by law and already conducted in the case.

Georgia's unified appeal system requires various pretrial motions and proceedings, to not only protect the right of both the defendant and the public to a fair trial, but to decrease the possibility of an appellate court overturning a conviction. If Yarbrough is truly concerned about costs, he should consider the costs of having to do it all over again.

The truth is, properly preparing and trying any court case is expensive, especially when the state is seeking to execute a human being. Who should expect anything less, especially those who claim to value human life? It is not only freedom from foreign invaders and terrorists that our government is to protect. The kind of freedom protected by fair trials is also not free.

What's more, critics of defense costs in such cases rarely compare, much less complain of, the even greater resources being poured into the case by the prosecution. Yarbrough complains of Nichols having too many court-appointed lawyers, but Yarbrough does not mention the number or costs of lawyers available to the prosecution. Fair fights usually require teams with roughly equal numbers of players.

It is always tempting and convenient to berate our judicial system. But we do so at our own peril, for we risk damaging the only branch of our government created and dedicated to protecting us citizens from the mistakes and abuses of the other two branches. Despite our assumption that none of us will ever need our courts, many "respected members of society" have learned otherwise.

Ask Martha Stewart or Scooter Libby whether they ever expected to be a defendant in a criminal case. Ever see the movie "My Cousin Vinny"? Such things happen. Obvious guilt is sometimes neither.

Yarbrough ignores the fact that our legal system, despite its human imperfections, is one of the main differences between our country and the Iraqs of this world. Saddam Hussein did not waste any time with trials of the people he executed. But I doubt that Mr. Yarbrough, given the choice, prefers that kind of "justice." Labeling Georgia's new indigent defense system as an "invitation for abuse," Yarbrough completely ignores the real abuse under the prior system.

The exhaustive two-year study by a Georgia Supreme Court Commission that led to the new system uncovered horror stories of Georgians languishing in jails for long periods without seeing a lawyer, hardly consistent with "liberty and justice for all." That old system in some cases led to guilty pleas and prison terms for innocent people who entered a plea out of desperation to escape endless pre-trial confinement.

It is doubtful that Mr. Yarbrough wrote too many columns investigating or criticizing that previous system, or questioning the long-term costs to taxpayers of imprisoning innocent people or conducting re-trials because of errors made by unprepared lawyers. Instead, it is far easier to fire off quips such as Yarbrough's flippant "This is not rocket science, folks, do I have to think of everything?"

No, but he should think of at least something before writing such inflammatory columns. Rather than really thinking, it's much easier to pander to our basest instincts and impatience. And all of this quick-and-easy judgment, while Yarbrough claims in the same breath to respect the right to a fair trial and our law of "innocent until proven guilty," is awfully reminiscent of the partly serious joke of a battalion commander I heard 35 years ago as an Army JAG officer in Germany: "I'm for justice -- 'just as' much prison time as I can get for that soldier in my unit."

So mark me down as the first lawyer in line to "patronize (Yarbrough) with the 'fair trial' lecture" he doesn't want to hear. Such critics no doubt participate and preen in bicentennial and other celebrations of our Constitution, and then promptly denigrate the real-world enforcement and protection of that same Constitution. Some patriotism.

True respect for our constitutional protections requires more than empty celebrations. Thank goodness the same legal system that Yarbrough enjoys kicking also protects his right to do so. May it ever be so.

But freedom isn't free. And such pandering columnists would better serve the reader by sticking to clever humor on less serious subjects. Wit and wisdom are not always the same.

Wyc Orr is a Gainesville attorney.

Originally published Friday, March 30, 2007

Fire Gonzales to Save Justice Department

Yesterday, the bloody details gushed out into the public.

Karl Rove helped fire Justice Department Prosecutors.

Harriet Miers picked names.

Sampson wanted to fire Fitzgerald to stop the Libby Leak Investigation.

And, Attorney General Gonzales started telling new lies.

Details

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Just a wall of sewage flooding through town

Three adults and two babies drowned or were crushed under a wall of raw sewage in Gaza, just yards from the Israeli border. Details

The plant in northern Gaza, a few hundred metres from the frontier with Israel, stored incoming waste in seven holding basins. But with the burgeoning population producing nearly four times as much waste as the plant could treat, the overflow was stored in nearby dunes, creating a lake of sewage covering nearly 45ha, according to the UN.

An embankment around one of the seven holding basins collapsed, sending a wall of sewage crashing into the neighbouring village of Umm Naser.

The wave killed two women in their 70s, two toddlers and a teenage girl and injured 35 others, hospital officials said. More than 200 homes were destroyed, health officials said.

"This is a human tragedy," said Public Works Minister Sameeh al-Abed.

Even when humans are not killing each other, innocent people die because governments don't care for average people.

U.S. losing Pakistan to the Taliban

Pakistan is losing the war against internal terrorism while the U.S. fiddles with Iran and Iraq.

The average Pakistani, about 70% of the population, hates the West, especially the U.S.

MILITANT, burka-clad schoolgirls have stepped up their drive for a Taliban-style Islamic regime in Pakistan by launching "vice and virtue" raids on brothels in the capital and demanding the closure of music and video stores.
In a separate sign of growing extremism in Pakistan, pro-Taliban militants firing rockets attacked a town and kidnapped the principal of a school where they had tried and failed to recruit students as suicide attackers. One security force member was killed.

Both incidents yesterday reflect an undercurrent of fundamentalism that is challenging the moderate mainstream of the Muslim nation, and the failure of President Pervez Musharraf's Government to contain it.

Details from the Australian

Bombings kills over 100 during U.S. surge

John McCain, one of my favorite public servants, has said the Bush surge is working and defeating the Iraqi rebels. I like John. He served his country well in Vietnam as a pilot and a POW. John got more a couple hundred thousand more votes in Arizona in 2004 than George Bush. He must be a good guy.

But, the surge does not seem to be working. Daily, bombings and revenge killings take innocent lives.

Here are the details for today's deaths in Iraq.

At least 178 people were killed or found dead Thursday, which marked the end of the seventh week of the latest U.S.-Iraqi military drive to curtail violence in Baghdad and surrounding regions.

Income falling for average American

Does it seem a little harder to make ends meet with gasoline and energy prices rising?

90% of Americans saw their income decrease by $172 in 2005. But, as the Republicans will say, the economy got better.

Only the rich got any richer in 2005, with personal income among the top 300,000 wage earners increasing $139,000.

The top 300,000 Americans collectively enjoyed almost as much income as the bottom 150 million Americans. Per person, the top group received 440 times as much as the average person in the bottom half earned, nearly doubling the gap from 1980.

While total reported income in the United States increased almost 9 percent in 2005, the most recent year for which such data is available, average incomes for those in the bottom 90 percent dipped slightly compared with the year before, dropping $172, or 0.6 percent.

The gains went largely to the top 1 percent, whose incomes rose to an average of more than $1.1 million each, an increase of more than $139,000, or about 14 percent.

I'd rather have a pay increase than another tax cut.

Details

When winning is really losing

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan hate the U.S. but George W. Bush has often called these two countries our allies.

The President of Pakistan, General Musharraf, just cut a deal to protect the Talliban.

Yesterday, the King of Saudia Arabia said the U.S. invasion of Iraq was illegal.

Bush dreamed of peace in the Middle East through military conquest of Iraq. His logical assumed that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon would join together against "against Iran, Syria and the militant groups that they back: Hezbollah and Hamas."

In reality, Saudi Arabia is joing with Iran and cutting ties with George W. Bush and the U.S.

Details

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Do the political job or get FIRED!

The Gonzales aid who apparently runs the Justice Department said politics is more important than any other part of being a Justice Department lawyer.

The distinction between 'political' and 'performance-related' reasons for removing a United States attorney is, in my view, largely artificial," he said. "A U.S. attorney who is unsuccessful from a political perspective ... is unsuccessful."

Democrats have described the firings as an "intimidation by purge" and a warning to remaining U.S. attorneys to fall in line with Bush's priorities. Political pressure, Democrats say, can skew the judgment of prosecutors when deciding whom to investigate and which indictments to pursue.


How simple minded is that point of view?

Details

More Signs of Failure in Four Year Old Occupation of Iraq

From the Associated Press

Shite police have allegedly shot and killed 50-60 Sunnis civilians in a remote Iraqi town. Doctors have confirmed the men, aged 15 - 60 years old, were executed with a shot in the back of the head. But, of course, that's not civil war.

Tal Afar, located 260 miles northwest of Baghdad, is in the province of Ninevah, of which Mosul is the capital. It is a mainly Turkomen city with some 60 percent of its residents adhering to Shiite Islam and the rest mostly Sunnis.
Shiite militants and police enraged by massive truck bombings in the northwestern town of Tal Afar went on a revenge spree against Sunni residents there Wednesday, killing as many as 60 people, officials said.

The gunmen began roaming Sunni neighborhoods in the city, shooting at residents and homes, according to police and a local Sunni politician.

Ali al-Talafari, a Sunni member of the local Turkomen Front Party, said the Iraqi army had arrested 18 policemen accused of being involved after they were identified by the Sunni families targeted. But he said the attackers included Shiite militiamen.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Pakistan stabs U.S. in the back. AGAIN!

Bin Laden might be living in Pakistan. He might be running the country. Legally, General Musharraf, George Bush's good personal friend, runs the country while holding the title of President and General. Bush spends big dollars keeping the General in power, more than Israel gets.

What do we get for all that money?

We get a dictator who supports terrorism.

Details on the 'New Deal' for Pakistani terrorists.

More false campaign promises by Republicans

Sonny Perdue promised to cut income taxes for the elderly.

During his reelection campaign last year, Perdue promised to eliminate the state income tax on retirement income for upper-income Georgians older than 65. Seniors who work past 65 would continue to pay state income taxes on the wages they earn. However, any income from investments and 401(k)s would not be taxed under Perdue’s plan.

Glenn Richardson is spending tons of money on infamous voodoo economic studies.

House Speaker Glenn Richardson (R-Hiram) recently started working with a pair of consultants on overhauling Georgia’s tax system: Arthur B. Laffer, an economist and former adviser to President Reagan, and Donna Arduin, a former fiscal advisor to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Arthur B. Laffer helped Reagan increase the federal debt by 340% over 8 years. Why is anyone in Georgia paying Laffer for budget advice? Georgia currently runs a surplus and did under the Democrats for 130 years.

Among the crazy ideas?

Among the ideas they have discussed is a proposal to wipe out property taxes across the state in favor of a 5.75 percent flat income tax and a 5.75 percent sales tax. Right now, Georgians essentially pay a 6 percent income tax and 4 percent sales tax, along with local property taxes.

So no more property taxes mandated for local schools. Instead, Lumpkin County sends all the tax dollars to Atlanta and Atlanta decides how much Lumpkin County schools can have.

Currently, $16,000 of personal income (or more) is exempt from income tax. The so called flat taxes give a tax break only to the richest. Increased sales tax will hurt Mom and Pop when they buy things. It will also hurt tourism, if we have any left in North Georgia.

The Republican legislature is planning on raising taxes for the middle class, cutting spending for schools, controlling local government budgets from Atlanta, and cutting income taxes for Paris Hilton, Michael Vick, and Jane Fonda.

Details

Army can't hire enough doctors and staff

In 2003, Rumsfeld decided to 'outsource' maintenance and staff at Walter Reed Army Hospital. That meant firing the 'government employees' and hiring a privately owned management company. At the time of the decision, Walter Reed had over 300 support and maintenance staff. By the time the 'new and improved' management team was in place, 50 employees were left to do the work of 300.

The new management company couldn't get but 10 'qualified' people to take over the old positions at reduced pay and benefits. Wow! No wonder Walter Reed has mold growing on the walls and rats nibbling on the patients.

But, that isn't the last of the whole story. The Army can't get doctors to join. The Army also can't get doctors to work for them. Now, not only will WWII vets, Korean Vets, Vietnam Vets, Desert Storm Vets, and Iraqi vets have to fight rats, our vets will have to wait for their 'turn' to see a doctor.

If they even get to see a doctor.

Bush promises us all the government we can afford. Honestly, we can't afford to cut back on medical care for our wounded.

Details

Monday, March 26, 2007

Taking the Fifth!

Government employees will appear before Congress and invoke the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution during the Gonzales Investigation. Senior aid to Gonzales and White House liason, Monica Goodling, will testify before Congress. Her attorney announced that Ms. Goodling will not incriminate herself by answering any questions about what she did or did not do while a government employee.

Details

Goodling was one of five senior Justice Department aides who met with Gonzales for that Nov. 27 discussion. Department documents released Friday to Capitol Hill show she attended multiple meetings about the dismissals for months.

She also was among aides who on Feb. 5 helped Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty prepare his testimony for a Senate hearing the next day — during which he may have given Congress incomplete or otherwise misleading information about the circumstances of the firings.

Additionally, Goodling was involved in an April 6, 2006, phone call between the Justice Department and Sen. Pete Domenici (news, bio, voting record), R-N.M., who had complained to the Bush administration and the president about David Iglesias, then the U.S. attorney in Albuquerque. Domenici wanted Iglesias to push more aggressively on a corruption probe against Democrats before the 2006 elections.


It sounds like Congress is asking the Mafia to snitch. Ms. Goodling remains a government employee but has taken a paid leave of absence. Goodling has no national security issues to protect. She's just hiding some more ugly truths.

Sad News

From the Gainesville Times

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) -- A father of four on his third tour of duty in Iraq has been killed, the soldier's wife says.

Sgt. Adrian J. Lewis, 30, of Mauldin died Wednesday, Amanda Lewis told The Greenville News on Saturday.

"This is so devastating," she said. "He was more than my husband.

"He was my friend."

Adrian Lewis died in Ramadi of wounds suffered when his unit fought enemy forces using small arms fire during combat operations, according to a news release from the Defense Department.

Lewis was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Ga.

Sonji Adams, the soldier's aunt, said she was with Amanda Lewis when the military came to tell the family he had died. "She said she didn't believe it," Adams said. "She said she wouldn't believe it until she saw his body."

Amanda Lewis said her husband's two previous tours of duty each lasted a year. He left Jan. 15 and was due home for two weeks' leave in July, she said.

"We were going to go on a cruise," she said. "Neither of us had ever been on one."

Key Legislation status

Status of key legislation before the Georgia Legislature heading into Tuesday's "Crossover Day" - the final day when a bill must be passed in one chamber to be considered by the other by the end of the session:

IN THE HOUSE

AWAITING FLOOR VOTE
• PEACHCARE CHANGES: Fewer children would be eligible for the state's health insurance program for the working poor by lowering the program's income eligibility threshold from 235 percent of the poverty line to 200 percent of poverty.

• RETIREMENT TAX CREDIT: Gov. Sonny Perdue's push to phase out the state income tax for retirees.

• HEALTH CARE: Opposed by the state's hospitals, complex legislation changing the state's regulatory system would allow doctors to open up ambulatory surgical and imaging centers that could compete with hospitals.

• PAYDAY LENDING: House deadlocked 84-84 over plan to again allow payday loans three years after Georgia became the only state to specifically outlaw the high-interest short-term lenders.


ALREADY APPROVED
• ABORTION: Doctors would have to offer women seeking an abortion a look at an ultrasound image of her fetus before the procedure.

• DEATH PENALTY: The requirement that an unanimous verdict is needed to secure a death penalty would be erased and instead a judge could impose death even if two jurors vote against it.

IN THE SENATE

AWAITING FLOOR VOTE
• SUNDAY SALES: Local communities would be allowed to vote on whether to allow the sale of liquor, beer and wine on Sundays.

• SEX OFFENDERS: Elderly and disabled sex offenders would be given leeway under a new law policing how close they may live to schools, churches, bus stops and other areas where children gather.

• SUPER SPEEDERS: An additional $200 fine would be slapped on drivers cruising at more than 85 mph anywhere in Georgia or more than 75 mph on a two-lane road. Habitual offenders will also be hit with steeper fines. Money from the fines would fund the state's cash-strapped trauma centers.

• 'NO-KNOCK' WARRANTS: Rules on how police in Georgia can obtain "no-knock" warrants would be tightened. The measure was prompted by a shootout that left an elderly Atlanta woman dead after plainclothes officers stormed her home unannounced.

• FAITH-BASED FUNDING: Governor's proposed constitutional amendment that would make it clear that religious groups may receive state money for providing public services was approved by a Senate committee. It's the fourth time that Perdue has pushed the measure, which must be approved by two-thirds of both the House and Senate.

• HOPE CHEST: Governor's "HOPE Chest" amendment, which would stipulate that lottery funds could only be spent on HOPE Scholarships and pre-kindergarten, as they are now. The constitutional amendment failed to get the needed two-thirds majority last year.

• CANCER VACCINE: Girls would get the vaccine for the human papillomavirus before entering sixth grade. However, the proposal's sponsor says it lacks the votes to pass and he will not bring it to the Senate floor.

ALREADY APPROVED

• CHARTER SCHOOLS: Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle's push to allow public school systems to apply for freedom from regulations like class-size limits and teacher-hiring practices. In exchange they must promise to meet high standards.

Used as filler material by the GOP

More details are coming out of New York about the aftermath of 9/11. The GOP leadership of the city, in conspiracy with business owners, used unsifted debris from the Twin Towers to pave roads.

Details

"From my experience at Fresh Kills, [the location where debris from the Twin Towers were taken] I am absolutely convinced that if the City of New York unearthed, resifted and washed the debris at Fresh Kills . . . it would find hundreds of human body parts and human remains," said Feaser, a 20-year veteran who supervised the recovery effort at Fresh Kills for the Sanitation Department.

Diane Horning, the president of WTC Families for Proper Burial, urged Hellerstein to allow the sifting to continue so that loved ones' remains will be found.

"There is no place to leave flowers," said Horning, whose son Matthew, an employee of Marsh and McLennan, was killed on Sept. 11, 2001. "There is no feeling of solace or closeness to your loved one."


But, the trains ran on time.

Foreclosures

News about bad loans and how bad loans hurt everyone.

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The dream of home ownership could turn into a living nightmare for millions of Americans in the next couple of years as home foreclosures are expected to skyrocket.

Alarmed lawmakers, such as Republican Senator Richard Shelby (news, bio, voting record) of Alabama, say the recent spike in home repossessions is just "the tip of the iceberg."

The fizz came out of the US housing boom last year after several years of stellar growth, fueled in part by a speculative binge, but also by sales of "exotic mortgages" including adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs).

Consumer advocates say such loans are costing many working class families an "ARM and a leg," and that buyers were often unaware ARMs can start out with a low "teaser" interest rate that fast kicks into a much higher rate.

Pressure is mounting on Congress to rein in unscrupulous lenders.

And, even as this story builds, Casey Cagle and the Republican State Legislature want to weaken existing credit laws .


(Cagle saw his banking investment increase by 900 percent while a member of the Banking Committee. Banks now own predatory pay check lenders.)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Do you know how far the GOP is willing to go?

Someone has some explaining to do.

New York Police went outside their jurisdiction to spy on Democrats, Democratic Groups, and suspected sewing circles prior to the 2004 GOP Convention.

Details

From Albuquerque to Montreal, San Francisco to Miami, undercover New York police officers attended meetings of political groups, posing as sympathizers or fellow activists, the records show.

They made friends, shared meals, swapped e-mail messages and then filed daily reports with the department’s Intelligence Division. Other investigators mined Internet sites and chat rooms.

These ‘dangerous groups’ “included members of street theater companies, church groups and antiwar organizations, as well as environmentalists and people opposed to the death penalty, globalization and other government policies. Three New York City elected officials were cited in the reports.

In at least some cases, intelligence on what appeared to be lawful activity was shared with police departments in other cities.”

What are the objective standards for domestic spying on U.S. Citizens?

“Before monitoring political activity, the police must have ’some indication of unlawful activity on the part of the individual or organization to be investigated,’ United States District Court Judge Charles S. Haight Jr. said in a ruling last month.”

The new version of the No Knock Warrant. Undercover cops attending sewing circles.

“The bulk of the reports covered the plans and views of people with no obvious intention of breaking the law.”

“The sponsors of an event planned for Jan. 15, 2004, in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday were listed in one of the reports, which noted that it was a protest against “the R.N.C., the war in Iraq and the Bush administration.” It mentioned that three members of the City Council at the time, Charles Barron, Bill Perkins and Larry B. Seabrook, “have endorsed this event.””

The Crisis in Iraq!

The internal violence in Iraq may topple the government at any moment.

Each elected official travels with personally selected body guards because no one trusts the Iraqi police, military, or official security.

Assassination attempts occur daily. Usually committed by the body guards hired to protect elected officials.

The Deputy Prime Minister, equal to our Vice President, survived an attack on his life yesterday by one of his body guards.

By STEVEN R. HURST and QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writers 2 hours, 2 minutes ago

The suicide attack against Iraq's Sunni deputy prime minister is now seen as an inside job carried out by a member of his own security detail — a distant relative who had been arrested as an insurgent, freed at the official's request, then hired as a bodyguard, a senior security official and an aide to the victim told The Associated Press on Sunday.

Full story from the Associated Press

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Cheney destroys the rest of his credibility

Cheney sent our sons and daughters to war without a plan.

Cheney sent our sons and daughters to war without armor.

Cheney sent our sons and daughters to war without a mission.

But he says the House of Representatives isn't supporting our troops.

Cheney called it a myth that "one can support the troops without giving them the tools and reinforcements they need to carry out their mission."

Four years after promising a quick and decisive victory in Iraq, Cheney and Bush are begging for reinforcements and 'the tools' to carry out the mission.

Make sure, Mr. Vice President, the House of Representatives gives our troops everything you have denied them including medical care in sanitary conditions, armor vehicles, accurate intelligence information, and clear goals that define when the mission is done.

Make sure the families are fully informed and compensated when their loved ones die in senseless accidents and friendly fire. Prepare our nations fallen heroes for burial before shipping them home. No more closed caskets because the government couldn't be bothered with the embalming and routine funeral traditions of our society.

Give the survivors the medical care that will prevent another generation of homeless vets.

Make sure the House of Representatives does your job right since you couldn't be bothered with a few little details before invading and capturing Saddam.

The House of Representatives would not run the war if in four years, the world's mightiest military had defeated a paranoid dictator. his two sons, and the left over Iraqi survivors of Desert Storm.

Read the details of Cheney's public statements of how the House of Representatives hasn't been doing it's job.

Cartoon

9/11 Recovery Rushed by NY

So many things went wrong on 9/11 and in the days after.

The EPA lied about the air quality around Ground Zero. People were told it was safe to return to their homes even as fires continued to send out toxic smoke. Un-informed but obviously scared people repeated terrifying rumors to co-workers.

But, we survived and grew stronger. Leadership in America has never been from the top down. It has always been from the heart.

Sadly, another detail in the failure of leadership must be reported. The City of New York rushed the search for human remains.

Details from the Gainesville Times

Support for Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter isn't the populist candidate for President anymore.

Many of us remember Jimmy running for President as the classic "outsider." His 1976 campaign was grassroots. He positioned himself as having no strings to Nixon's Washington and the aftermath of Watergate. He talked openly of his deep faith.

After he won the election by being the non-politician, he did what he believed was best for the country. He continued to follow his faith. His presidency never bombed another country. His presidency earned a Nobel Peace Prize. His peace agreement with Egypt and Israel is the only peace agreement in the Middle East that works.

Jimmy remains human and still teaches Sunday school.

In what might be one of his last public efforts at following his heart, he called a policy racist.

Read more about the conditions in the Middle East. Find out if the shoe fits.

Apartheid

Friday, March 23, 2007

Gonzales continues to call them weak

Eight Federal Prosecutors were fired for political reasons by Karl Rove. Attorney General Gonzales meekly agreed to the firings.

Gonzales has already been caught in a contradiction with published e-mails. Gonzales has said the firings were "mistakes" but has now returned to calling the firings justified.

"The Justice Department later admitted that one of the eight -- H.E. "Bud" Cummins, the U.S. attorney in Little Rock, Arkansas -- was fired to make room for a former Rove aide returning from military service." From CNN

"Gonzales acknowledged, as he had on Tuesday, that mistakes were made in the handling of the U.S. attorney firings and said he wanted to remain in the job to make things right with Congress." From MSNBC.com

"I knew my chief of staff was involved in the process of determining who were the weak performers — where were the districts around the country where we could do better for the people in that district, and that's what I knew," Gonzales said last week. "But that is in essence what I knew about the process; was not involved in seeing any memos, was not involved in any discussions about what was going on. That's basically what I knew as the attorney general."

From the Associated Press on March 23, 2006.

Documents show that Gonzales and Karl Rove planned the firings while Gonzales was White House Counsel. Gonzales left his position as Bush's lawyer to become Attorney General. While testifying before Congress, during the confirmation hearings, Gonzales said under oath, "I will be the nations Attorney General." But he didn't make any promises about not being the President's errand boy, apparently.

Did Bush and Gonzales make a deal before announcing the Presidential appointment of Gonzales to Attorney General?

Did Gonzales lie to Congress during his confirmation?

Does he continue to lie about knowing the firings were coming and why as the White House lawyer long before lying about the reasons for the firings?

Can Congress get any truth from the White House?

Four more Generals may resign or be fired

President Bush has often said he listens to the generals. Maybe that is why things are so screwed up with Iraq, Walter Reed, and our troops. Generals should not be running the country.

Or, in the case of Ranger Pat Tillman, generals shouldn't be allowed to cover up death by friendly fire.

Details on four generals and five other officers facing possible charges in Tillman's death.

Dozens of soldiers — those immediately around Tillman at the scene of the shooting, his immediate superiors and high-ranking officers at a command post nearby — knew within minutes or hours that his death was fratricide.Even so, the Army persisted in telling Tillman's family he was killed in a conventional ambush, including at his nationally televised memorial service 11 days later.

Posthumous increase in rank and honors for Tillman included a medal and statements by the military that Tillman was leading a platoon against terrorists. Tillman was a private at the time of his death.

Clearly, Pat Tillman was killed by his fellow soldiers in an accident. The Rumsfeld Pentagon and the Bush White House created a lie that this heroic young man was killed in an ambush by the Taliban.

Troop withdrawal

Immediately after a suicide bombing, a group of our Marines began a retreat from the attack site. During that retreat, gun fire may have been exchanged between the Marines and locals. Allegations have come forward that our Marines have shot innocent civilians during that defensive retreat.

To protect those Marines, the commanders are withdrawing them from Afghanistan and investigating the allegations.

To read more details, click here.

Iraq Deputy Prime Minister injured in bomb blast!

Deputy PM hurt in Iraq bombing

IRAQI Deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zubayi was wounded last night in a suicide bombing, only hours after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon escaped a rocket attack.

Mr Zubayi was rushed to a US military hospital in Baghdad after three people were killed and 10 others wounded in a double suicide and car bomb attack near the Deputy Prime Minister's home, office and mosque close to the highly fortified Green Zone in the centre of the Iraq capital.

More details from the Australian

France on UFO's

Ops! France leading the UFO craze back into the news.

If you're curious about UFO's in France, the government set up a new web site at www.cnes-geipan.fr.

These are the secret type of files that make for really good conspiracy theories, if you can read French.

Bush on UFO's

All Hat, No Cattle

Another Guilty Plea by Ex-Bush Official

The Culture of Corruption is slowly collapsing. Rumsfeld and the WMD liars in the Defense Department are gone. Libby obstructed Justice in the outing of Valerie Plame. Harriet Miers, Rove, and Gonzales are exposed for political firings of effective lawyers. Abramoff took down Reed and others with greed. Duke Cunningham got caught stealing Defense dollars for his contractor friends. Tom DeLay quietly resigned rather than face justice.

Now a Steven Griles, who helped Enron and Exxon con you out of billions in energy costs, will shiver in a concrete cell.
WASHINGTON - Former Deputy Interior Secretary Steven Griles will plead guilty to one count of obstruction of justice in the Jack Abramoff corruption investigation, The Associated Press has learned.

Griles, an oil and gas lobbyist who became an architect of President Bush's energy policies while at the Interior Department between July 2001 and July 2005, is the highest ranking Bush administration official implicated in the Washington lobbying scandal.

Details from the Associated Press

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Strangle the Coach!

In the days after the Iraq Invasion, we learned that Saddam and his friends tortured Olympic athletes.

Shocking news today about the Pakistani cricket coach.

He was strangled in his hotel room shortly after the shocking cricket loss to Ireland.

Did Saddam ever strangle a coach or a team member in a public hotel and leave the body?

Details

Who is responsible for Road Side Bombs in Iraq

When the U.S. invaded Iraq, the invasion plan did not include guarding any WMD sites or any conventional weapon sites. In the chaos of the quick surrender by most Iraqi forces, looters took many tons of conventional weapons as well as the kitchen sinks from government buildings.

Now 'insurgents' or 'rebels' or terrorists have a huge supply of weapons and weapon making materials.

Thank you, Geoge Dubya Bush and conservative Republicans everywhere. You've created exactly the conditions in Iraq that we expected you to stop. Chaos where terrorists can build a dirty bomb using conventional weapons.

Details

Cagle and Republicans battle over the $20 Billion budget

A little monkey business in the Legislature

Give us two weeks off, they said, and we’ll get our act together. They didn’t tell us it was a Marx Brothers revue.

On Tuesday, the Legislature celebrated a 14-day, cobweb-clearing recess by sinking into a duck soup of paranoia, inexperience and gamesmanship that threatens the little work that 236 semi-grown adults have accomplished to date.

One news cycle later, on Wednesday, both the House and Senate were still whispering threats of a special session in May.

The only reason you should care is that the debacle could ultimately threaten short-term funding for tornado-ravaged Americus and many school systems — not to mention millions of dollars for PeachCare, the insurance program that offers health insurance to hundreds of thousands of kids.

Read the news story here.

Maybe you thought it was a bit contrary for a Legislature to consider Confederate history month and an apology for slavery in the same breath.

That was child’s play.

On Tuesday, the House passed a bill to speed murderers to their executions, by requiring the approval of only 10 of 12 jurors. Then the same body put a hold on a $700 million budget bill — which included cash for a near-bankrupt public defender system.

Cash that, given the legal niceties that courts demand, might actually hasten Brian Nichols’ date with a needle.

But the weirdness had begun hours earlier, when House GOP leaders abruptly ended a generations-old tradition by barring reporters from the chamber floor.

We’re told there was concern that some journalists were eavesdropping. But the expulsion also came shortly after the “Cracker Crumble,” an evening of satirical skits and song hosted by the Georgia Press Association.

The March 8 dinner included ribald references to House Speaker Glenn Richardson’s alleged relationship with a gas company lobbyist.

Keeping the news media at a distance is no crime. But the over-the-top reaction of House Republicans — something about it brought to mind the Spartans at Thermopylae — set the tone for the day.

The $700 million budget bill passed by the House, months later than normal, is aimed at filling spending gaps between now and July. Hours after it was sent to the Senate, first-term Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle called on Gov. Sonny Perdue, then on Richardson, the House speaker.

Cagle told both fellow Republicans that he intended to implement a campaign promise. The Senate would strip the budget bill of pork, give schools and PeachCare the money they need, and put the rest toward the debt or a reserve fund.

It was a rookie mistake, a boxer telegraphing his right-hook days in advance.

The act of self-righteous diplomacy was interpreted by Spartans in the House as a threat. Cagle intended to knock down their carefully constructed budget like a stack of blocks.

A little-known rule permits the House to reconsider all of its actions. Leaders sent the House clerk to yank back the two copies of the $700 million budget document sent to the Senate.

House members now say they intend to hold it — and a larger $20 billion budget bill — close to their bosom until the last few days of the session. That way, the Senate has less time to monkey with it.

In the meantime, said House Majority Leader Jerry Keen, his chamber will move no Senate bills, including Cagle’s signature legislation to allow entire school systems to shift to charter school status.

One presumes Cagle will respond likewise. A Legislature that has done little will now do less.

We ran into some top House budget writers in the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon.

In the Legislature, budget negotiations between the House and Senate are commonly viewed as multi-billion dollar poker games. So why, we asked the budget writers, wasn’t Cagle’s statement of intentions treated as just another opening gambit? Why go nuclear?

Because they could, was the answer: “Why did he tell us?”

And here you thought the game was about you.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Now we know why the book is upside down


'Cause he's not good at the vision thingy.

Not good at the vision thingy


It would help if you would take off the lens cover.

One more GONE!

George W. Bush, leader of the free world, President of the United States, and defacto leader of the Republican party called it an intelligence failure, not a lack of intelligence. Another GOP insider, a self labeled Hawk, who helped create the WMD panic and the rush to invade Iraq, has quit. Others, including Donald H. Rumsfeld, the former defense secretary; Paul D. Wolfowitz, Stephen A. Cambone and Douglas J. Feith, Mr. Rumsfeld’s former deputies; and I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, have remained silent.

Who was Robert Joseph and why didn't he feel guilty about the worst 'intelligence failure' in the history of the human race?

Details
He is among the last of the hawks to turn off the lights and walk away from an administration that many conservatives say has lost its clarity of mission. He insists he is leaving without rancor and without regrets, including for his role in assessing the weapons intelligence about Iraq. “I do share the recognition that there was an intelligence failure, but it wasn’t just a failure of the Bush administration,” he said. “Look, if we press too hard we are accused of politicizing the intelligence; if we don’t press, then we are not doing our job.”

Behind the political stage

What is it really like to be a new Congressman, or Congresswoman? With the damage from years of Republicans in power, new members of Congress are asked to give money. By the people who elected them.

From the NYT

March 21, 2007

Earmarked for Success?

WASHINGTON, March 20 — Kirsten Gillibrand arrived in Congress two months ago, ready to tackle national problems like health care, immigration and the war in Iraq. But few issues are as challenging as the one she has been confronting for the past few weeks: picking pet projects for her district.

Huddled around a coffee table with her senior staff members inside her office on Capitol Hill, Representative Gillibrand has been poring over scores of requests from elected officials and community leaders, Democrats and Republicans alike, who are turning to her for money as Congress begins hammering out the federal budget.

What the People Really Need

From the NYT

March 21, 2007
Editorial

What People Really Need

In nasty and bumbling comments made at the White House yesterday, President Bush declared that “people just need to hear the truth” about the firing of eight United States attorneys. That’s right. Unfortunately, the deal Mr. Bush offered Congress to make White House officials available for “interviews” did not come close to meeting that standard.

Mr. Bush’s proposal was a formula for hiding the truth, and for protecting the president and his staff from a legitimate inquiry by Congress. Mr. Bush’s idea of openness involved sending White House officials to Congress to answer questions in private, without taking any oath, making a transcript or allowing any follow-up appearances. The people, in other words, would be kept in the dark.

The Democratic leaders were right to reject the offer, despite Mr. Bush’s threat to turn this dispute into a full-blown constitutional confrontation.

Congress has the right and the duty to fully investigate the firings, which may have been illegal, and Justice Department officials’ statements to Congress, which may have been untrue. It needs to question Karl Rove, Mr. Bush’s chief political adviser, Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel, and other top officials.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Rove won't testify under oath

Here is the pattern of the GOP. Never get on the record under an oath sworn on the Bible about anything.

But, at the same time, use torture, illegal wiretaps, and suspend the Bill of Rights for everyone else.

The excuse for stealing your inalienable rights? Only the guilty have anything to worry about. The innocent shouldn't be worried about federal invasions of the bedroom, library, and telephone. If you haven't done anything wrong, the government can't do anything to you.

So if Karl Rove has done nothing wrong, let him swear an oath on the Bible and then answer a few questions for the voting public.

Details on Rove

We should remember, no administration official testified under oath before the 9/11 Commission. That's when Secretary Rice denied the history of human piloted airplanes being used as guided missiles.

How the White House remembers 4 more years of war

Monday, March 19, 2007

Bush Adminstration defends editing Global Warming Report

Back in 2001, and several times since then, scientists working for the federal government have alleged White House interference in scientific work.

Now, the White House has not only admitted doing it, but is defending the changes.

Details

Philip Cooney, former chief of staff at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, acknowledged at a House hearing that some of the changes he made were "to align these communications with the administration's stated policy" on climate change.

The extent of Cooney's editing of government climate reports first surfaced in 2005. Shortly thereafter, Cooney, a former oil industry lobbyist, left the White House to work at Exxon Mobil Corp.

Does the oil industry run the daily affairs of the Bush Administration? Is that why gas is $3 per gallon?

Why would any business hire an ex-political hack that was forced out of politics by the use of poor judgement?

Help Wanted ads for Attorney General

Why can't the White House fire anyone it wants to fire?

Gonzales initially had asserted the firings were performance-related, not based on political considerations.

But e-mails between the Justice Department and the White House contradicted that assertion. The e-mails showed that Rove, as early as Jan. 6, 2005, questioned whether the U.S. attorneys should all be replaced at the start of Bush's second term.

Details

Yes, federal prosecutors serve at the pleasure of the President. But, displeasing the President isn't grounds for dismissal. If the President allowed Karl Rove to slander, defame, and fire Justice Department employees, then our justice system has been weakened.

Do we want a bunch of political "Yes Men" doing the personal bidding of Karl Rove or do we want independent, no non-sense employees working towards that American goal of 'Justice for all?'

I want justice not politics in the court rooms of America.

Houses cheaper than cars in Detroit

Let's hope the housing problems of Michigan remain in Michigan.

With the permanent closings of the Ford and GM plants in metro Atlanta, a place to live might become a luxury.

Details on housing in Detroit from Rueters.

After selling house after house in the Motor City for less than the $29,000 it costs to buy the average new car, the auctioneer tried a new line: "The lumber in the house is worth more than that!"

As Detroit reels from job losses in the U.S. auto industry, the depressed city has emerged as a boomtown in one area: foreclosed property.

$29,000 for the average new car?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

New Details on decay at Walter Reed

Outsourcing explains it all.

When President Bush took office, he mandated the competitive outsourcing of 425,000 federal jobs. At the time, the Pentagon was aggressively pushing for increased outsourcing, and in June 2003, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a Senate committee he was considering outsourcing up to 320,000 nonmilitary support jobs.
While cutting costs might have been the goal, Bush let 250 non-medical employees go from the staff at Walter Reed. As a result, repairs were not made. Halls weren't cleaned. Rats, mice, and roaches moved into the beds of wounded American Soldiers.

What private company finally got the contract to maintain Walter Reed as the nations finest Veterans Hospital?

Indirectly, Halliburton.

Details.
By the time the public became aware of the horrible conditions forced on our wounded, less than 50 people were trying to do the work of 300 at Walter Reed.

Was it worth maybe saving a few dollars?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Gonzales apologizes for Firing Good Attorneys

The firings of 8 Federal attorneys has been in the news. What question is not being asked?

From USAToday


Was the administration trying to stop investigations of powerful Republicans? There's no hard evidence, but there's one curious detail in the e-mail traffic about fired prosecutor Carol Lam, of San Diego.

Lam started the probe that sent GOP congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham to prison last year and resulted in the recent indictments of a top CIA official and a well-connected contractor. On May 11, the Los Angeles Times reported that the investigation resulting in Cunningham's conviction was expanding to include another powerful Republican, Rep. Jerry Lewis (news, bio, voting record), of California. That same day, Sampson e-mailed a White House aide asking him to call to discuss "the real problem we have right now with Carol Lam."

Congressional investigators might want to ask what that "real problem" was. On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee cleared the way to issue subpoenas for five Justice officials to testify about their roles in the firings. It put off for a week a vote on subpoenas for Rove, Miers and another White House aide.


Carol Lame was investigating the Republican Culture of Corruption and getting convictions. THAT's why the White House had her fired.

The White House couldn't fire CIA agent, Valerie Plame, for doing her patriotic duty. So they leaked her identity as an under cover agent, ruining her career and weakening our Nation during a time of WAR!

Looks like a pattern of behavior. Fire the effective non-partisan employee. Hire the political hacks like Mike Brown of FEMA and Katrina fame.

Attorney General Gonzales, former legal counsel to the White House, fired 8 employees for strictly political reasons and then, in public, said those employees were fired for not doing a good job.

Today, he reversed himself in a phone conference.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, facing calls for his firing, has offered a mea culpa to the nation's 93 U.S. attorneys for the way the Justice Department fired eight of their colleagues.

During the conference call Friday, planned as a pep talk to raise morale at a Justice Department tainted by the firings and the FBI's misuse of the Patriot Act, Gonzales apologized for how the dismissals were handled and for suggesting there were problems with the prosecutors' job performances.

Details from the Associated Press

What did Nathan Deal do or say about any of this? He's AWOL on the issue, and wishing his family doctor would excuse him from the fray because he has a trick knee or other impairment.

We want the criminal justice system to be hard on crime. All crime. Within government and within society.

Where are you, Nathan Deal, on the subject of law enforcement?

Never enough good news for the GOP















Republican conservatives are always complaining that the "liberal" news media isn't reporting the good news. The good news is ---- Karl Rove has manipulated the news cycle and fired Lady Justice for being blind.

Well done.

Good job North Georgia

About two years ago, I attended a meeting in Dahlonega, GA where someone spoke about saving the Hemlocks.

Just a little update on the success so far.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Unmarried mothers in Georgia

Going by one study, teen pregnancies dropped from 1990 to 1997. Which was very good news for everyone in Georgia. That study can be found at the Georgia Division of Public Health.

However, that progress in unmarried mothers has been reversed and unwanted teen pregnancies have increased through 2005. The number of babies being born to children has been increasing when using raw information from Georgia DHR, Division of Public Health.

27,055 babies were born to mothers without a high school diploma in 1997. By 2005, 33,449 babies were born to mothers without a high school diploma.

Unmarried mothers had 41,862 babies in 1997 but 57,295 babies in 2005.

Our state, Georgia, from 1990 to about 1999 had been reducing poverty and reducing the number of babies born to children. Now, our governor is begging the Federal government for money. Money for education. Money for health care. And, money to sponsor fishing tournaments? That's right.

If we are begging for money from the Federal Government, why are we helping to fund bass fishing tournaments with $19 million dollars.

I guess unwed mothers benefit greatly from watching grown men fish.

Story

What is Bush Doing Today?


Watching the world burn

Friendly Fire Death Ruled Criminal in UK

Many accidents happen in combat as war has it's own forms of chaos. In Iraq, an unnecessary war, the rapes, murders, and torturing done by our President are a crime. Perhaps even a war crime for which he will be damned someday.

This is just one more story of how an innocent member of the UK's Army was killed by U.S. forces.

At the time of his death, Lance-Corporal Matty Hull was doing his job. He was traveling in a convoy clearly marked as a friendly convoy by red panels. His commander was in contact with the chain of command. He burned to death inside his fighting vehicle.

Two U.S. pilots attacked the convoy.

Four years after the three attacks on his convoy, the U.S. refuses to cooperate with the British investigation. The U.S. refuses to supply recordings of the pilots and the air controllers. Just like Nixon in Watergate, the tapes will show one way or the other if the pilots acted with or without proper orders. The appeal for truth has gone directly to President Bush.

"President Bush, this is the last day you can help us. We ask that you give the Coroner just one single page."

The Hull family says the deleted lines relate to an interview with the ground controller -- code-named Manila Hotel -- in charge of the two A-10 planes that attacked Hull's convoy.

Staff Corporal Stuart Matthews, who was serving as a British forward air controller with coalition ground troops in the area of the attack, told Mr Walker that Manila Hotel had not given permission to open fire on the British tanks.





No wonder this story in the Australian newspapers calls the situation criminal.

Details

Valerie Plame to testify to Congress

Under Oath, it seems. No one in the Bush Administration takes an oath when appearing before Congress.

For example, Secretary Rice when appearing before the 9/11 Commission cut a deal so she would not have to testify under oath.

Valerie Plame put her life on the line as a covert agent of the U.S. government. She has the courage to do what Secretary Rice and others are afraid to do. Swear to tell the truth.

Details.

Rove behind Firings

Karl Rove fired the Federal Prosecutors and Gonzales agreed to the firings before being appointed to run the Justice Department.

Details from the Associated Press.

With the conviction of former Presidential advisor, Scooter Libby, don't we have to ask a few more questions about who is running the White House and the Country?

Is Bush a rubber stamp for Karl Rove? Who really made the decision to invade Iraq? Who leaked a story to the press to destroy a CIA agent and her network? Who decided to cut taxes for the rich and put our country $9 trillion dollars in debt?

Who is responsible? And, why aren't they held accountable?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Katrina Follow Up


Another story on the faulty pumps that were knowingly installed by Republican contractors in New Orleans.

Details

New Cartoon Needed


Do you remember this cartoon from 2003?

It just needs to be updated with Bush or any other member of the Republican Party replacing Rumsfeld as the rat doctor.

Three Generals have been dismissed for letting rats into Walter Reed.

Another $880 Billion Gone

The trade deficit, also called the current account, shows that our country is buying a huge amount of 'things' from overseas. But, even as we buy these things, no one is buying anything from us. It's a way of going broke and we're financing it by borrowing money. The Federal Debt is nearly $9 trillion dollars, about ten times more than what it was under Jimmy Carter.

Don't you wish your paychecks were worth TEN times more? Your house worth ten times more? Your pension ten times more?

Twenty five years of Republican economics. Are you better off is the question?

"If it smells like amonia, looks pale yellow, and runs down hill, then it's called "Trickle Down Economics."

Details on the trade deficit from the Associated Press.

News about Rome

Finding a hometown (Rome News Tribune)

03/14/07
Email this story to a friend

A LOT that the General Assembly considers, if passed, winds up having an “inadvertent effect” upon Greater Rome. That’s because so much proposed legislation is often aimed at some problem or situation in the Atlanta metro, such as the recent spate of suburban areas deciding they want to become their own cities.

In a sense, creating a newborn city is a sort of a “nuclear option” for an unincorporated area that either feels threatened by a nearby megalopolis or ignored by a county government. It’s an either/or option as Georgia law currently provides for no home rule other than by a county or a city.

As an Associated Press news report on Senate Bill 89 put it, there is no such thing as having a hometown in Georgia because there are no townships, which are more commonly found in many other states. If the measure passes, there could be - and such would be possible in Floyd County.

There’s good and bad aspects to this. Any proponent of increased home rule, such as this newspaper, would find a township option attractive. Certainly places like Lindale and Shannon might be instantly interested in having more ability to govern and even police themselves, even at the expense of new taxes and fees. (The measure limits a township property tax to .5 of a mill.)

ZONING POWER wouldn’t kick until a county reached a population of 100,000 - almost where Floyd County is right now and which it will shortly pass.

Such a township, with its own elected supervisors, would have to cover at least 500 acres with a population of at least 200 per square mile and at least 10 percent of its property zoned for uses other than residential. (Floyd County has 328,512 acres ... room for tons of townships.)

The measure appears to contain no restrictions as to how close to an existing city that a township can be created, whereas existing geographic restrictions of forming a new city preclude Shannon, Lindale, Armuchee and Coosa from ever governing themselves.

On the flip side, as proponents of city-county consolidation and the wisdom of an area with common needs having a single government, creating townships would make such even more difficult than it is today.

This measure is, of course, not aimed at Greater Rome at all but instead at Fulton County where Sandy Springs, John’s Creek and Milton have already “split” from Fulton County. In addition, Vinings in Cobb County, Big Canoe in Pickens, Dunwoody in DeKalb, and places like Sea Island have also been making “city” noises.

YET, “SOLVING” their problems by allowing townships would provide new opportunities, or dilemmas, in Floyd County. Lindale, for example, has long made no bones about wishing for self-control. On the other hand, could the Riverside Village area now entirely inside Rome make itself a self-governing “township”?

At a time, pretty much everywhere, that a teamwork approach increasingly seems called for on local problems this further splintering of command would seem to be somewhat dangerous to the common good.

Still, how much better it would be, and how much happier most of the citizens, if they felt they had more of a voice in governmental affairs in a time when everything appears to be getting bigger but not necessarily better.

From a purely Greater Rome standpoint, how much better the solution would be if creating more home rule also made consolidation easier to achieve while at the same time assuring residents of identifiable communities within an unincorporated area a definite say in local matters - not veto power, not the ability to ignore the will of the overall majority, but a spokesman and a guaranteed vote.

In Floyd County, for example, the large and cohesive communities such as Lindale and Shannon have no certain input into government. Rome does as it has two seats for its residents on the five-member County Commission. The other three are all selected at-large with residents of “all the rest” of the turf eligible to run. In theory, that means three particularly talented politicians from Everett Springs or Wax could call all the shots for Lindale, Shannon and so forth.

IN A CONSOLIDATED government, with more commission members than five and with some elected “at large” and others from specific geographic districts, it becomes possible to assure Lindale, Shannon, Armuchee and similar with a representative.

There may be reason to suspect, by the way, that this “township” notion might make it far, far easier for a city, such as Rome, to annex an entire neighboring region instead of, as now, doing it land lot by land lot.

A township created by popular election could also hold an election to merge with a city - majority rules, dissident land-lot owners stuck with the decision.

The inadvertent possibilities of this are intriguing, both the ones viewed as negative and those seen as positive.

The local legislative delegation’s attention is directed to the potential hometown consequences of SB 89 although, frankly, one doubts that they will have a decisive say on the outcome.

There are an awful lot of General Assembly members down Metro Atlanta way, representing both cities and unincorporated areas, that are quite likely to figure that giving their constituents half of a loaf is a lot better than giving them none or leaving the current secessionist movement by big subdivisions who fancy themselves as cities the way it is now.

How to steal land for a Pipeline

No special privileges for pipelines (AJC)

Published on: 03/14/07

Gov. Sonny Perdue and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have claimed to be staunch defenders of private property rights — except when they're not. Their stance seems to depend on who, exactly, is trying to take somebody else's land.

Last year, Perdue and GOP leaders helped push a constitutional amendment effectively restricting the authority of state and local governments to condemn private property for public purposes. Now, many of those same officials are poised to make it much easier for Colonial Pipeline, an Alpharetta-based fuel distributor, to do just that.

Senate Bill 173 would exempt Colonial and any other pipeline operator from proving that a proposed facility meets a "public necessity" test before being permitted by state regulators.

More alarming still, the bill would allow those companies to unilaterally invoke eminent domain and condemn private property within 75 feet of their existing pipes.

Colonial already operates a dual set of underground pipes stretching from Louisiana through Georgia to the New York City harbor. To keep pace with growing demand for petroleum products, the company says it needs to build a new 500-mile, $1 billion pipeline running from Baton Rouge to its storage facility in Cobb County near the city of Powder Springs.

SB 173 also would let Colonial relocate portions of a third line within a two-mile swath — one mile on each side of its current route — to avoid environmentally sensitive land, historic sites and neighborhoods.

With a boost from the governor's office, the bill is moving through the Legislature faster than a greased pig, but more quietly. It passed the Senate two weeks ago and is awaiting a vote in the House.

There's also legitimate concern this bill could pave the way for Atlanta Gas Light to resurrect its legislative effort to bypass normal regulatory channels to build a natural gas pipeline between Atlanta and Elba Island near Savannah. That bill failed to pass muster with lawmakers last year, for good reason.

SB 173, which in some ways is far more egregious, deserves to suffer a similar fate.

Lyle V. Harris, for the editorial board (lharris@ajc.com)

A kernel of unease over the Colonial pipeline bill

Tuesday, March 13, 2007, 09:01 AM

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

In today’s editions of the Marietta Daily Journal, Bill Kinney has picked up some local uneasiness over Senate Bill 173, which would permit a new petroleum pipeline to be run through the lower and western part of Cobb County.

Kinney lists a number of elected officials, Republicans as well as Democrats, who say they knew nothing of the bill until it appeared in the Senate late last month. The measure quickly passed the Senate, and is now in the House.

State Rep. Don Wix (D-Mableton) said he’d only recently been contacted by a lobbyist for Colonial Pipeline Co., the business interest behind the bill. “Wix said he told the lobbyist that if there were shortages and needs for an additional pipeline capacity, Colonial should have been talking about that for months before the legislation was introduced,” Kinney writes.

Once upon a time, during the 1970s and 1980s, Cobb County ruled the General Assembly. Back then, a lack of diplomacy would have been unthinkable.

P.S. The bill allows the pipeline company to take land from private citizens in what I call 'stealing.'

Sue Harmon leads Iraq Vigil

From the quietly courageous Sue Harmon.

Hi there -

I hope you will consider lending your voice to ours as we call for an end to the current policy in Iraq and simultaneously grieve for all those who have suffered in this conflict.

I just signed up for an Iraq War Anniversary Vigil.

Americans across the country are more concerned than ever about our direction in Iraq. Now is the time for Congress to force a change.

On March 19th, thousands of us from organizations across the movement will gather together to observe the fourth anniversary of the war through candlelight vigils. We’ll solemnly honor the sacrifice made by more than 3,000 soldiers and contemplate the path ahead of us. We cannot send tens of thousands under-equipped and unprepared soldiers into the middle of an un-winnable civil war.

Join us at a candlelight vigil on Monday, March 19th. Honor the sacrifice. Stop the escalation. Bring the troops home.

The event details are:

Iraq War Anniversary Vigil Poultry Park Jesse Jewell Pkwy SW Gainesville, GA 30501 Monday, 19 Mar 2007, 6:00 PM

To sign up for this event, click here: http://political.moveon.org/event/iraq4/34960

Contractor Cheats in New Orleans

This sounds like a story out of Iraq. Contractors with connections to the Bush Family get critical contracts. Those contractors can't deliver the goods. They get paid. They deliver and install faulty equipment. Two years after Katrina, the city of New Orleans remains defenseless.

The city, parts of which are 10 feet below sea level, has always been dependent on pumps to keep the water out of the streets. A contractor who once used the name, 'Bush El' to highlight his political connection with the Bush family, got the multi-million dollar contract to replace the aging pumps after Katrina. The replacement pumps were defective but have not been repaired or replaced.

Originally, each of the 34 pumps was to be "load tested" - made to pump water - but that requirement for all the pumps was dropped, the memo said.

Of eight pumps that were load tested, one was turned on for a few minutes and another was run at one-third of operating pressure, the memo said. Three of the other load-tested pumps "experienced catastrophic failure," Garzino wrote.


Good old GOP contractor, Bush El, donated 196,000 dollars to the compassionless Elephants.

The phrase, Culture of Corruption, does not cover the carnage.

Details of the defects and the full story here in the Gainesville Times.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Gonzales admits wrong doing in firings. Possible Cover-up?

More news is leaking out of the White House about the horrible way in which prosecutors were fired for political reasons.

Attorney General Gonzales has admitted his responsibility but refuses to resign. Harriet Miers remains underground trying to stonewall the issue.

Not since the Saturday Night Massacre during Watergate have respectable and productive members of the executive branch been fired for partisan reason.

From the story:

Justice Department officials, led by Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, told lawmakers under oath that the decision to fire eight U.S. attorneys in December was made solely by the Justice Department and said the decision was based on performance, not politics.

E-mails released Tuesday, however, revealed that the firings were considered and discussed for two years by Justice Department and White House officials.

"Obviously I am concerned about the fact that information — incomplete information was communicated ... to the Congress," Gonzales said. "I believe very strongly in our obligation to ensure that when we provide information to the Congress, it is accurate and it is complete. And I very dismayed that that may not have occurred here."

Gonzales earlier accepted the resignation of his top aide, Kyle Sampson. Authorities said that Sampson failed to brief other senior Justice Department officials of his discussions about the firings with then-White House counsel Harriet Miers.

So the Attorney General has lied under oath to Congress. Scooter Libby has lied under oath. The list of liars is longer than the list of honest, hard-working public servants in the GOP.

Details on Gonzales