Representative Tom DeLay, the House majority leader and a driving Republican power in Washington, was forced to step aside from his leadership post on Wednesday after a grand jury in Texas indicted him on a charge of conspiring to violate election laws in his home state.
The indictment, in Travis County, which includes Austin, the state capital, accused him of conspiring with two previously indicted aides to violate a century-old Texas ban on the use of corporate money by state political candidates, by funneling thousands of dollars in corporate House Republicans gathered within hours of the indictment's becoming public, and chose Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri, the No. 3 House Republican, to assume Mr. DeLay's duties temporarily. They assigned Representative David Dreier of California to take on more responsibilities. Party rules required Mr. DeLay to step down if indicted. contributions through the Republican National Committee.
The above is from Philip Shenon and Carl Hulse's "Delay Is Indicted in Texas Case and Forfeits G.O.P. House Post" in this morning's New York Times.
On Dreier, Maria hopes he cleared the new "responsibilities" with his house mate. Billie says to note that the take over staged, allegedly with corp money, was "part and parcel with the redistricting plan and that Homeland Security was used to spy on the state house Democrats which the New York Times never really cared too much about. I had to go to the Washington Post back then to find real reporting. Otherwise, big media didn't care."
It's our spotlight story. It's news and we have a huge number of members in Texas. I'm looking at e-mails noting, as Billie did, redistricting. (Texas had already redistricted the state. When Repubes seized the house in 2002, they rammed through another redistricting despite the fact that the pattern was to do it once every ten years. The Repube argument was that the legislature hadn't done it. The courts had stepped in and drawn the lines. And it wasn't a concern to Rick Perry or the legislature, that the court had done it, until they suddenly had their 2002 majority which, allegedly, was made possible through corp. donations.)
Thomas, who never wants to share publicly, writes to quote him on this, "Bugs are tough but they do get squashed sooner or later." (Tom DeLay was an exterminator before going into Congress.) Tom DeLay is a sore spot to Texas Democrats who are members. (If we have third party members from Texas, they've never noted it in e-mails but they would be welcome here.)
Shenon and Hulse do note the issue on Texas members minds but as Alex points out "it comes real late where no one's going to notice it. If they were The Austin Times, I think it would be higher up in the story." Here's the section from the article:
The new indictment centered on Mr. DeLay's involvement with Texans for a Republican Majority, which he created with his aides in 2001 and which was modeled on Armpac.
During his career in the House, Mr. DeLay has used Armpac to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate donations for other Republican candidates, who in turn showed their loyalty to Mr. DeLay by electing him to the House leadership.
With the Texas committee, Mr. DeLay mapped a Republican takeover of his home state's Legislature, which the party achieved in 2002. The victory allowed Republicans to redraw Congressional districts in Texas, making it easier to elect Republicans to the House and solidifying Mr. DeLay's power in Congress.
I don't comment on Robin Toner but due to the fact that this is a huge story for so many members we will note that she also has an article on this "For G.O.P., DeLay Indictment Adds to a Sea of Troubles."
Second big story and equally deserving of a spotlight is the news from Nina Bernstein's "Top Officials Told to Testify in Muslims' Suit:"
A federal judge in Brooklyn ruled yesterday that former Attorney General John Ashcroft, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other top government officials will have to answer questions under oath in a lawsuit that accuses them of personally conspiring to violate the rights of Muslim immigrants held in a federal detention center in Brooklyn after 9/11.
The officials had sought to have the lawsuit dismissed without testimony, arguing in part that they had governmental immunity from its claims, that the court lacked jurisdiction because they live outside New York State, and that the Sept. 11 attacks created "special factors" outweighing the plaintiffs' right to sue for damages for constitutional violations.
But the judge, John Gleeson, of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, rejected those arguments, allowing the case to proceed - and opening the door to depositions of Mr. Ashcroft and the F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, by lawyers for the two plaintiffs: Ehab Elmaghraby, an Egyptian immigrant who ran a restaurant in Times Square, and Javaid Iqbal, a Pakistani immigrant whose Long Island customers knew him as "the cable guy."
[. . .]
The men, who eventually pleaded guilty to minor criminal charges unrelated to terrorism and were deported, charged that they were repeatedly slammed into walls and dragged across the floor while shackled and manacled.
They said they were kicked and punched until they bled, cursed as "terrorists" and "Muslim bastards," and subjected to multiple unnecessary body-cavity searches, including one in which correction officers inserted a flashlight into Mr. Elmaghraby's rectum, making him bleed.
*Look for heavy appeals but, at least right now, we can hope that justice may be served.*
Rob e-mails to note 's "What Israeli Disengagement Sounds Like" (CounterPunch):
In the last days, Gaza was awakened from its dreams with horrible explosions which have shattered our skies, shaken our buildings, broken our windows, and installed feelings of panic.
We suddenly felt helpless, under the control of the Israelis and at their mercy. The new method of exploding sound bombs in our skies is now available to the Israeli army who would not use it before the disengagement because they were careful not to alarm or hurt the Israeli settlers who were in Gaza. This new method was used by the Israeli army since Friday day and night. Usually between 2-4 in the morning, between 6:30 and 8 in the morning school going time, and in the afternoon or early evening. The explosions are heard and felt all over the Gaza Strip with the same intensity. These explosions were used alongside the usual routine of bombing and killing which the Israelis forces are familiar with.
This new cycle of terrific violence started with Israel assassinating four people in the West Bank town of Tolkarem. In the same day Islamic Jihad retaliated from Gaza by sending rockets to Israeli village of Sdirot. In the same day 19 people were killed during a military parade of Hamas. Apparently the cause was mishandling of explosive, but Hamas blamed Israel. Hamas joined Islamic Jihad by sending rockets to Sdirot where five people were injured.
Hamas quickly retracted and announced that it will stop all military operation from Gaza. Islamic Jihad followed with assertion that it will abide by the truce. Israeli campaign of bombing continues. Last night I, with all Gazans, were awakened by the horrible noise twice, 3:30am and at 7:15am. I hardly was able to sleep in between. I was supposed to travel today to Amman and from there to Zurich to be with you, but Gaza is also sealed off by the Israeli forces. No one is allowed in or out of Gaza and that includes foreigners and even the Palestinian President Mr. Abbass who appealed for calm. We stand firm against all forms of violence and in any name be it national liberation or security.
From "'Why Are You Here' and 'What's Changed'" (The Third Estate Sunday Review's voices from the protests in D.C. article), we're again noting Benny with apologies that he was overlooked. Thanks to Shirley for catching that.
87) Benny, 17, high school student: For the first time it feels like maybe a difference can come. We're studying about government and it really seems wild and out there but it's about us and I guess Cindy Sheehan drives that point home to me. So I am here for that reason and the change is that people wake up and you can see it in my class. We're debating and discussing what does free speech mean and what are your duties to be an American and stuff that I have never taken time to think on and it just seems real and connected to me. Maybe it's selfish and all too because we got the guys on campus goin, "Sign up and we'll take care of you. Free college." All these promises and you ask about war and like injuries and they don't talk about it. They brush you off or say, "You just watch out for yourself and you're fine." And I bet the 1900 men and women who are dead were watching out but that didn't save them. So it's just a lot to think about and maybe having government this year drives it home.
Rod e-mails to note today's scheduled topics for Democracy Now!:
Thursday, September 29:* House Majority Leader Tom Delay indicted in Texas
* FBI comes under intense pressure in Puerto Rico over killing of longtime independence leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios.
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[Note: Post corrected 9-29-05. Correction indicated by "*" and it's the statement under the J-Ass Times' article. I was tired and out of it this morning and this sentence ended up being under Benny's quote.]