Thursday, January 05, 2006

Other Items

The Supreme Court late Wednesday granted the Bush administration's request to transfer the terrorism suspect Jose Padilla from military to civilian custody, ending an odd two-week standoff over where he should be held while the justices decide whether to hear his case.
The court's order means that Mr. Padilla will be held in a federal prison in Miami rather than a Navy brig in Charleston, S.C., while he waits to learn whether the justices will take up his appeal of a decision that upheld, in sweeping terms, the government's authority to keep citizens it designates enemy combatants in open-ended military confinement.
While the immediate practical effect was minimal, and the court did not suggest how it might ultimately act in Mr. Padilla's case, the action was something of a victory for the administration after an embarrassing rebuff by a usually friendly federal appeals court that had refused to permit Mr. Padilla's transfer.

The above, noted by Miguel, is from Linda Greenhouse's "Justices Let U.S. Transfer Padilla to Civilian Custody" in this morning's New York Times. The Court has decided that other issues may be resolved later. Which means that the administration which held Padilla as a military combantant can turn around and designate him as that again if they don't get their way in court.
The Court didn't address that issue when they elected to override the Fourth Circuit.

The Court, as the article notes, is in recess but when presented with the adminstration's request, Roberts hastened to pull together a verdict. It's interesting how that worked and continued Bully Boy's string of last minute saves from the Court.

Sewell Chan and Steve Greenhouse contribute "Pension Demand Was an Error, Chairman of M.T.A. Concedes." Trevor wonders whether the Times editorial board will "concede" any "error?" Here's another question, how is breaking the law merely an "error"?

Juan Gonzalez addressing the issue in "NYC Transit Strike Enters Third Day: Negotiations Resume, Threats to Workers Heat Up, Public Support Remains High" (Democracy Now!):

And, in fact, Peter Kalikow, the chairman of the MTA, agreed to go to a mediation process, and as Toussaint mentioned in that clip you played, he and the MTA were both initially in separate rooms doing negotiations through a mediator, and then late last night, about 1:00 in the morning, they actually began some face-to-face negotiations that have continued through the night, so that Toussaint made it clear that if the illegal demand of the MTA to force a new pension tier was taken off the table that there was a possibility of settling the strike within a few hours. And he has been backed in that by numerous lawmakers, by the entire labor movement in New York City, and the Taylor Law is pretty clear.
Yes, the Taylor Law does forbid public employees from striking, but it also forbids an employer, any government agency, from attempting to force pension changes onto a union contract. Pension changes are made by the state legislature only, not through the collective bargaining process. Although unions often do agree to go with an employer to petition for pension changes, they are not legally part of any collective bargaining process. And that's what Toussaint kept saying when he said that the proposed -- the demands of the MTA were illegal demands.

Bonnie e-mails to note Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Abramoff , The GOP Corruption Machine & What Dems Need to Do" (Editor's Cut, The Nation):

It didn't take Republican super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff's guilty plea to three felony counts of conspiracy, mail fraud and tax evasion to understand that the scale of corruption in the GOP-dominated Congress had risen to obscene heights. But it sure helps expose the cesspool of corruption in that GOP-dominated Congress.
"When this is all over, this will be bigger than [any government scandal] in the last 50 years, both in the amount of people involved and the breadth to it," Stan Brand , a former U.S. House counsel who specializes in representing public officials accused of wrongdoing, told Bloomberg News. "It will include high-ranking members of Congress and executive branch officials."
But what is to be done? Take a lesson from the good Senator from Wisconsin, Russ Feingold who, last July, launched a crackdown on government corruption.

In July, the tough-minded reformer, who with John McCain led the fight for passage of campaign finance reform, introduced the Lobbying and Ethics Reform Act in the Senate (Representative Martin Meehan (D, MA) has similar legislation pending in the House).

That's it for highlights this morning. I worked all night an entry that will probably go up this evening.

Rod gives us the heads up to today's scheduled topic on Democracy Now!:

An in-depth look at the West Virginia mining disaster.

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