Friday, December 23, 2005

Other Items

In this morning's New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg's "Postponing Debate, Congress Extends Terror Law 5 Weeks" details the extension that keeps the Patriot Act alive for a few more weeks. From the article:

But extending the Patriot Act provided the real drama. Under the measure passed on Thursday, the deadline to reauthorize the Patriot Act moved, from Dec. 31 to Feb. 3, timing that could prove a problem for the White House.
It means that a debate on the law would be in full swing at the same time the Senate starts an inquiry into a secret spying program authorized by President Bush and run by the National Security Agency to monitor international phone calls and international e-mail messages of people in the United States.

The Times also trumpets the possibility that 5,000 troops may be coming home today. While good for the 5,000 (and anymore who are allowed to come home), there's a reality that the Times doesn't touch on. Mia's highlight addresses it, Norman Solomon's "A New Phase of Bright Spinning Lies About Iraq" (Common Dreams):

What's on the horizon for 2006 is that the Bush administration will strive to put any real or imagined reduction of U.S. occupation troop levels in the media spotlight. Meanwhile, the Pentagon will use massive air power in Iraq.
It's a process already underway, as independent journalist Dahr Jamail -- who worked on the ground in Iraq for more than eight months of the U.S. occupation -- pointed out in a mid-December article titled "An Increasingly Aerial Occupation." As he put it: "The American media continues to ignore the increasingly devastating air war being waged in Iraq against an ever more belligerent Iraqi resistance -- and, as usual, Iraqi civilians continue to bear the largely unreported brunt of the bombing."
Yes, we should demand swift withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. But, at this point, to do so without also demanding an end to U.S. bombing of Iraq is to fall into a trap laid by the war makers in Washington. This kind of thing has happened before -- with devastating results for people trying to survive a Pentagon air war that was receiving little U.S. media attention.
The Nixon administration was eager to divert attention from the slaughter in Southeast Asia to peace talks in Paris -- and to the gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam over a period of more than three years. In general the networks were all too willing to oblige.

Dallas asks that we note Richard Fricker's "Holidays, Lobbyists & Murder" (Consortium News) which addresses the Abramoff scandal(s):

The latest wrinkle in this melodrama appears to be the race to the courthouse between Abramoff and his casino co-owner Kidan, who is in the soup with Abramoff for the SunCruz money-laundering and wire-fraud charges. This is a classic race in that he who cuts the first deal wins.
If Kidan can offer up Abramoff and a few congressmen before Abramoff can rat out his congressional minions before Kidan inks a deal, he wins. Or, in the alternative, if they can collectively offer up a bevy of congressmen, Capitol Hill aides and fat-cat contributors, then they both can minimize possible jail time.
The New York Times reported on Dec. 22 that Abramoff was close to completing a plea agreement in the Florida fraud case, setting the stage for him becoming a witness in a broad federal corruption investigation. One participant in the case said a deal could be completed by next week. [NYT, Dec. 22, 2005]
In the meantime, the Fort Lauderdale police and prosecutor Cavanaugh need only wait. If Scanlon, Abramoff and Kidan all agree to "cooperate" with the government in plea-bargaining on white-collar crimes, Cavanaugh will still get his shot at the wheeler-dealers because murder trumps fraud in the prosecutorial world.
Investigators have tried to interview Abramoff about the Boulis case, but those efforts were blocked by his attorneys who refused to volunteer Abramoff's testimony. Cavanaugh has declined to subpoena Abramoff because it might muddy the legal waters should it be decided the GOP fundraiser had some direct knowledge of the Boulis slaying.
Kidan, meanwhile, is rumored to be ready to make his own plea deal and start naming names of politicos who gave, took, hustled funds. Should that happen Congressman Ney can expect more questions about his insertion of comments in the Congressional Record criticizing Boulis for his management of SunCruz when Abramoff and Kidan were trying to buy the company.

Scheduled for today's Democracy Now!:

Don't miss it: The debate between Noam Chomsky and Alan Dershowitz that took place at at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

And coming up on Monday's Democracy Now!:

Monday, December 26:* A dramatic reading of Howard Zinn's Voices of a People's History of the United States. Readers include Josh Brolin, Viggo Mortensen, Sandra Oh, Marisa Tomei and Danny Glover.

That's via Rod who signed up with Democracy Now! for their daily digest e-mail. My apologies to Rod because I didn't note him in the previous entry. I'm running more than slightly behind due to the fact that I was attempting to check a lyric for Kat. And on that, if, like Susan, you're thinking you're crazy, you're not -- or at least not for thinking you briefly saw Kat's latest up here this morning. I apparently hit the publish button and not the save button when I saw the time and realized that it was time to get started on the morning entries. I was copying it in from Kat's e-mail and it needed tags and the last paragraph. (If I go paragraph by paragraph, it's less a nightmare to do spacing then copying it whole and pasting it which causes the whole thing to run together as one block.) It will go up as soon as I can confirm the lyric and can put in tags.
(And can publish and republish this entry so that technorati reads it.)

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