End Zone highlights Anne E. Kornblut's "Lobbyist's Role in Hiring Aides Is Investigated" in this morning's New York Times:
The attention paid to how the aides obtained jobs occurs as Mr. Abramoff is under mounting pressure to cooperate with prosecutors as they consider a case against lawmakers. Participants in the case, who insisted on anonymity because the investigation is secret, said he could try to reach a deal in the next six weeks.
Many forces are bearing down on Mr. Abramoff. Last week, his closest business partner, Michael Scanlon, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in exchange for cooperating in the inquiry, being run by an interagency group, into whether money and gifts were used in an influence-peddling scandal that involved lawmakers.
[. . .]
Investigators are said to be especially interested in how Tony C. Rudy, a former deputy chief of staff to Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, and Neil G. Volz, a former chief of staff to Representative Robert W. Ney of Ohio, obtained lobbying positions with big firms on K Street.
The hiring pattern is "very much a part of" what prosecutors are focusing on, a person involved in the case said. Another participant confirmed that investigators were trying to determine whether aides conducted "job negotiations with Jack Abramoff" while they were in a position to help him on Capitol Hill.
Tori notes Eric Schmitt and David S. Cloud's "Senate Summons Pentagon to Explain Effort to Plant News Stories in Iraqi Media:"
"We're very concerned about the reports," the White House spokesman said. "We have asked the Department of Defense for more information."
That's Scotty McClellan. Laying down the official line. The Senate's trying to figure out how the Lincoln Group got the approval for what they did. The military's apparently confused. So Scotty wants us to believe that the same administration that employed both the Rendon Group and Tori Clarke is shocked, just shocked that anyone would hire a p.r. group to work on the 'Iraq issue.' The Lincoln Group planted phoney stories in the press (Iraq press). Now that's nothing that this adminstration would ever do. Just ask Armstrong Williams.
Marcia e-mails to note Tamar Lewin's "Openly Gay Student's Lawsuit Over Privacy Will Proceed:"
In a case involving a California high school girl who was openly gay at school, a federal judge has ruled that the girl, Charlene Nguon, may proceed with a lawsuit charging that her privacy rights were violated when the principal called her mother and disclosed that she is gay.
Ms. Nguon filed suit in September after a year of run-ins with Ben Wolf, the principal of Santiago High School in Garden Grove, Calif., over her hugging, kissing and holding hands with her girlfriend. Ms. Nguon was an all-A student ranked in the top 5 percent of her class, with no prior record of discipline. But last year, after Mr. Wolf said he wanted to separate her from her girlfriend, she transferred to another school. Her grades slipped, and her commute grew from a four-block walk to a four-and-a-half mile bike ride.
Gina notes Jeremy Scahill's "The War on Al Jazeera" (The Nation via Common Dreams):
Nothing puts the lie to the Bush Administration's absurd claim that it invaded Iraq to spread democracy throughout the Middle East more decisively than its ceaseless attacks on Al Jazeera, the institution that has done more than any other to break the stranglehold over information previously held by authoritarian forces, whether monarchs, military strongmen, occupiers or ayatollahs. The United States bombed its offices in Afghanistan in 2001, shelled the Basra hotel where Al Jazeera journalists were the only guests in April 2003, killed Iraq correspondent Tareq Ayoub a few days later in Baghdad and imprisoned several Al Jazeera reporters (including at Guantánamo), some of whom say they were tortured. In addition to the military attacks, the US-backed Iraqi government banned the network from reporting in Iraq.
Then in late November came a startling development: Britain's Daily Mirror reported that during an April 2004 White House meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, George W. Bush floated the idea of bombing Al Jazeera's international headquarters in Qatar. This allegation was based on leaked "Top Secret" minutes of the Bush-Blair summit. British Attorney General Lord Goldsmith has activated the Official Secrets Act, threatening any publication that publishes any portion of the memo (he has already brought charges against a former Cabinet staffer and a former parliamentary aide). So while we don't yet know the contents of the memo, we do know that at the time of Bush's meeting with Blair, the Administration was in the throes of a very public, high-level temper tantrum directed against Al Jazeera. The meeting took place on April 16, at the peak of the first US siege of Falluja, and Al Jazeera was one of the few news outlets broadcasting from inside the city. Its exclusive footage was being broadcast by every network from CNN to the BBC.
Which brings up two things. It's Friday, so check your inboxes for the latest gina & krista round-robin. Second, the community knows Jeremy Scahill for his work on Democracy Now! and Rod passes on these scheduled topics for today's Democracy Now!:
* World AIDS Day: We'll look at the HIV/AIDS pandemic around the world and the policies of the Bush administration
* The latest on the U.S. military's use of white phosphorous in Fallujah.
Now note this, from BuzzFlash's latest "winner" for GOP Hypocrite of the Week:
Now, suppose you are a passenger in a car on a dark night in the middle of a howling snowstorm. And the driver turns into a one way street -- in the wrong direction -- at full throttle. You alert the driver that he is going the wrong way, but all he says is "God is on our side, I'll make it go in our way because we have the biggest, best car in the world." It is too dark to look into his eyes and see whether he is stupid or mad.
But all you know is that he steps harder on the gas pedal, as you try to point out the one way street signs pointing in the opposite direction. Meanwhile, as cars swerve to avoid you, you see a massive garbage truck off in the distance heading your way. You frantically warn the driver, but he calmly tells you, "Jesus is with us. I will not change my route."
Do you think you know who the winner is? Click here to see if you guessed correctly.
Also, Lloyd notes that Ruth Conniff's interview with Bernie Sanders is now available online at The Progressive.
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