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Impeach Bush

Bush nominee compares gay sex to necrophilia, pedophilia and bestiality
By JEFFREY McMURRAY
The Associated Press
Thursday, May 1, 2003; 5:33 PM

WASHINGTON - A nominee for a federal judgeship filed a Supreme Court brief that compares homosexual acts to "prostitution, adultery, necrophilia, bestiality, possession of child pornography and even incest and pedophilia."

The brief by Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor, nominated by President Bush to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, resembles comments about the same Texas sodomy case by Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

Pryor's "friend of the court" brief was filed Feb. 18, two months before Santorum - the Senate's third-ranking Republican - compared homosexuality to bigamy, polygamy, incest and adultery in an interview with The Associated Press.

Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat on the Judiciary Committee that will consider Pryor's nomination, called the brief "another red flag for a nominee who is starting out with a troubling record."

"It's hard to believe that, in the entire state of Alabama, the administration can't find a conservative to nominate who isn't out of the mainstream and doesn't make incendiary comments," Schumer said.

Pryor's confirmation hearings have not yet been scheduled.

Pryor, the lead writer on the brief also signed by attorneys general from South Carolina and Utah, wrote that the Texas statute under challenge forbids only homosexual acts, not orientation. He argued the Constitution protects orientation but not homosexual acts, which he contended are "historically recognized as a wrong."

"Petitioners' protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, a constitutional right that protects 'the choice of one's partner' and 'whether and how to connect sexually' must logically extend to activities like prostitution, adultery, necrophilia, bestiality, possession of child pornography, and even incest and pedophilia (if the child should credibly claim to be 'willing')," he wrote.

Pryor's nomination already was under scrutiny because of his outspoken opposition to abortion rights. However, some of his fiercest foes have predicted he won't be challenged as aggressively as some other nominees, partly because he has strong local support including from several civil rights leaders.

Alabama, South Carolina and Utah are among the 13 states whose bans on homosexual sodomy could be overturned if the Supreme Court decides it is unconstitutional to punish gay couples for their bedroom activities. The court heard arguments in such a case in March and is expected to rule by July.

Pryor declined comment Thursday and referred questions about the case to Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, a Washington firm specializing in constitutional law.

Sekulow said the reaction to Santorum's comments and Pryor's brief was overblown because Supreme Court Justice Byron White used similar language in a 1986 Supreme Court case when the court ruled 5-4 that Georgia's criminal penalties against homosexual sodomy were constitutional.

Overturning the sodomy ban could open the door to challenges against bans on "adultery, incest and other sex crimes, even though they are committed in the home," White wrote.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican who recommended Pryor for the appeals court, said in a statement that Pryor "simply turned where every fine lawyer turns, to the precedent of the Supreme Court."

Meanwhile, gay rights groups were drawing the parallel between Pryor and Santorum and questioning whether Pryor should be confirmed.

"If his personal views are going to in any way influence the way he passes judgment on cases before him, I would be really nervous if I was a gay or lesbian person who had an anti-discrimination case where Pryor was the judge," said Cathy Renna, spokeswoman for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Patrick Guerriero, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans - a GOP gay and lesbian group - said the group would oppose the nomination.

"Clearly the arguments put forth in his amicus brief reflect a true misunderstanding of a large segment of the American family in gay and lesbian relationships," Guerriero said.

On the Net:

11th Circuit: http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
I have to wonder what gays have done to make conservatives feel a need to do something bad to them. Has a gay person harmed them or their family? Most likely not. So, where does this fear and hate come from?

Real conservatives don't believe in using government to control our lives. Social conservatives think women are too stupid to decide if they want an abortion, so they need government to decide for them. They also think gay Americans' right to happiness is based on gays being just like them or not having the right to sex, or relationships or marriage.

Why doesn't the social conservative mind his own business?

On the other hand, the fiscal conservative (an oxymoron) believes in borrowing billions of dollars and giving it away in tax cuts mostly to the rich. He think tax cuts and their resulting deficits are a good thing. The fiscal conservative forgets the Reagan tax cut gave us the Reagan debt ($1.6 trillion) and he forgets the Bush tax is giving us the largest deficits in US history (around $400 billion this year).</>p>

In order to be a fiscal conservative you have to either be selfish (borrow from your children so you can have your taxes cut), ignorant (not knowing we have massive deficits and debt) or immoral (knowing but not caring). You decide.>


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Amber Alert Goes After Property Owners
The Sacramento Bee
Michael Doyle
Published 2:15 a.m. PDT
Monday, April 14, 2003

WASHINGTON -- Federal sentencing will get tougher. Police will wield more power over the Internet's risque regions. Property owners are more vulnerable to drug charges.
Thanks, in part, to the rescue of kidnapped Utah teenager Elizabeth Smart.

In a remarkable illustration of how one high-profile event can tip political momentum, Congress will now be sending to President Bush an anti-crime bill whose reach can't yet be fathomed.

Approved unanimously by the Senate on Thursday night, and earlier in the day by the House on a 400-25 vote, the legislation goes well beyond the child-kidnapping alert system for which it is most known.

Some provisions could face constitutional challenge. Others irritate federal judges.

"This legislation is flawed," Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts complained, "and results from a hasty and unreliable process that ill serves us."

Undeniably, many provisions have received scant attention amid the bustle of war news.

Property owners, for instance, can be criminally charged if they "open, lease, rent, use or maintain any place, either temporarily or permanently," that's employed in drug use. This goes further than current law. The legislation also expands the government's wiretap powers and eliminates the statute of limitations for sex crimes against children.

More provocatively, perhaps, the legislation creates new Internet crimes.

Anyone who "knowingly uses a misleading domain name on the Internet with the intent to deceive a person" into viewing obscene material can be sent to prison for two years. Lawmakers assert there is a growing trend in such misleading tactics.

One site, whitehouse.com, bills itself as the "#1 adult site on the Internet." It is only a few keystrokes away from the official government site whitehouse.gov.

"I have grandchildren who are ages 6, 7, and 10, who all use the computer much better than I do," said Republican Rep. Tom Osborne of Nebraska, "and it really concerns me that innocent words like 'Barbie' or 'Disneyland' can bring up graphic pornographic material."

Artist organizations oppose the provision, which has also attracted some withering commentary among Internet users.

The bill takes other stabs, as well, at Internet sex, including regulating computer-generated characters.

The Supreme Court previously struck down as a violation of the First Amendment an earlier congressional effort to control so-called virtual pornography. The new bill rewrites this effort; it includes, for instance, the proviso that prosecutors need not prove that "the minor depicted actually exists."

The earlier, struck-down law targeted any sexual image "that appears to be" a minor. Lawmakers now will prohibit any sexual image that is "indistinguishable" from that of a minor. American Civil Liberties Union attorneys have already suggested the provision could be challenged.

Nonetheless, all 98 senators present -- including Kennedy -- voted for the bill. The measure may overturn one Supreme Court case and revisit another, and it incited Chief Justice William Rehnquist to warn of "serious harm" to the judiciary. But the political appeal proved undeniable.

"I am tired of having children abused," declared Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "This bill will go a long way toward stopping that kind of abuse."

The bill, which President Bush will sign, is commonly dubbed the Amber alert legislation. The name stands for America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response, and it also commemorates a kidnapped Texas girl named Amber Hagerman.

California is one of 39 states that already have instituted Amber alert systems, which signal the public when children are missing.

Though the Bush administration has already established a nationwide Amber alert coordinator, the bill writes this position into law and authorizes $25 million to help states create alert networks.

"The first hours after a child is taken are critical," said California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein. "An alert can be issued within minutes of an abduction -- disseminating key information of the crime to the community at large."

The day after Elizabeth Smart was rescued last month, Feinstein began publicly urging House members to pass the legislation. Smart's father, too, took up the cry, though his daughter's recovery did not result from an official Amber alert.

Within a week, the House Judiciary Committee had passed its own Amber alert bill, but with a big difference. After initially dismissing Senate action as mere "feel-good legislation," the House committee chairman -- Wisconsin Republican James Sensenbrenner -- tacked on numerous other anti-crime provisions.

One provision attempts to curtail lenient federal sentences, and in so doing overturns a Supreme Court case involving former Los Angeles Police Officer Stacy Koon.

Convicted in federal court of violating Rodney King's constitutional rights by beating him harshly, Koon faced up to 87 months in prison. The trial judge, though, only sentenced Koon to 30 months; the Supreme Court later upheld this sentence, and in so doing gave judges more leeway to depart from sentencing guidelines.

Now, appellate panels will get a chance to review such downward departures from scratch. This "de novo" review is far more aggressive than the Supreme Court ruled should occur in the Koon case, where the justices limited appellate review to whether the trial judge abused discretion.

"We must note our concern and disappointment with the lack of careful review and consideration that this proposal has received," the Judicial Conference of the United States, which represents all federal judges, stated in a letter to Congress.

Copyright © The Sacramento Bee / ver. 4

Commentary:
"Property owners, for instance, can be criminally charged if they "open, lease, rent, use or maintain any place, either temporarily or permanently," that's employed in drug use."

Just so you understand how stupid this is. If one of your tenants uses drugs in your apartment building, you can be busted for his actions. Can you get any more stuipid? More big government, conservative-style.

On the Justices being upset about this new law, what can I say? There shouldn't be any mandatory sentencing guidelines period so they should stop whining and push for getting rid of all restrictions placed on juries and judges instead by the conservative version of big government.

Conservatives want government to have the power to decide how long someone goes to jail instead of the jury or judge. Conservatives don't trust judges or juries to decide these issues on a local level--they don't trust you.


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Balanced Budget Is No Longer a Priority for Conservatives
By Terry M. Neal
washingtonpost.com
Wednesday, April 30, 2003; 3:54 PM

For years, George Voinovich was considered a rising star of the GOP. Before coming to the Senate in 1998, he was a Republican mayor in the overwhelmingly Democratic city of Cleveland, and later the governor of the populous swing state. He managed to stay popular while adhering to party principles. Well, mostly -- but more on that later.

There was a time when it was considered conservative to not just cut taxes, but to do so with an eye toward balancing the budget -- which meant spending cuts. And such thinking dominated the ideology not that long ago. The first plank of the 1994 Contract With America called for a balanced budget amendment.

But both major parties seem to have given up on that goal.

On one side is President Bush, who has proposed more than $2 trillion in tax cuts at a time when government expenditures and deficits are soaring, without outlining broad budget cuts. The other end of the spectrum is represented by Democrats such as Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) and former Vermont governor Howard Dean. The two presidential candidates are proposing a repeal on the recent tax cuts and instead want to spend massive amounts on health care. But neither Democrat has outlined major cuts to avoid permanent structural deficits.

To Republicans in the middle, such as Voinovich and Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, who oppose Bush's most recent tax cut, it's just as irresponsible to cut taxes without regard to balancing the budget as it is to spend money without regard to the budget.

This ideological divide has irked those in the Bush administration and led to both Republicans coming under intense pressure from the White House and congressional colleagues. Advocacy groups have also joined the fray. A tiny ad buy from the conservative Club for Growth suggested that these "Franco-Republicans are as dependable as France was in taking down Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein" and generated tons of free media coverage.

For his part, the president has intensified his effort to get at least a $550 billion tax cut package approved, arguing the bigger the cut, the more jobs that will be created.

"Some members of Congress support tax relief but say my proposal is too big," Bush said recently. "Since they already agree that tax relief creates jobs, it doesn't make sense to provide less tax relief and, therefore, create fewer jobs."

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said Wednesday he remained hopeful that the end of the Iraq war will result in stronger economic growth and repeated his opposition to substantial tax cuts that would run up a larger deficit.

"I haven't changed my view from where I was in February," Greenspan said in response to questions about President Bush's tax package.

But who is right? Will the second major tax cut in two years create jobs and stimulate the economy and long-term growth, or will it lead to major deficits that drive up interest rates, reduce saving, expand the trade deficit and imperil long-term growth?

Like most things in Washington, it depends on whom you ask.

The Battleground

Voinovich took over Cleveland after decades of Democratic dominance in the early 1980s and helped restore the bankrupt city's fiscal health. As governor in the 1990s, he cut the welfare rolls, increased school funding, worked with then-Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and then-Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) to limit unfunded federal mandates on the states.

But there were early clues to the trouble in which Voinovich might find himself in Washington. As governor of Ohio in 1992, he helped the state overcome a fiscal crisis by raising taxes, according to the Almanac of American Politics (although he points out that he later reduced taxes when the economy improved). And since coming to the Senate, he has voted against a series of tax cuts that he believed would bust the budget.

Now he and Snowe are standing up to Bush, who originally proposed a tax cut of about $726 billion. House leaders have tentatively agreed to a figure of $550 billion. But even that smaller figure is too large for Voinovich and Snowe, who say they can't live with anything larger than $350 billion unless the government finds "offsets" for anything over that amount.

Voinovich points out that even the $350 billion is money the government does not have. Furthermore, he says, the extraordinary spending the government is doing on defense and homeland security makes it even more imperative to not cut taxes beyond that.

"Three hundred and fifty billion dollars is a responsible package, and if the president wants to do more than that, and some of my colleagues in Congress, let's offset it," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press" last Sunday. "Let's not just borrow that money, and put the jacket on the backs of my children and grandchildren and your children and grandchildren."

The Argument

The Bush rationale for tax cuts is pure supply-side economics. In a nutshell, the argument is that cutting taxes stimulates job creation, which expands the economy. While the tax cuts might result in short-term deficits, supporters argue, government receipts should actually increase in later years.

Bush's original plan proposed the elimination of taxes on corporate dividends and accelerating the tax rate cuts approved in the $1.35 trillion 2001 tax cut plan, increasing the child tax credit and eliminating the "marriage penalty."

But many economists argue that additional tax cuts will create long-term structural deficits of the sort that are unlikely to be overcome by growth in the economy. The most pernicious effect of those deficits would be to drive up interest rates, while reducing savings and capital formation.

In his NBC interview, Voinovich referred to a report from Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street investment firm. That report predicts a slower than anticipated economic recovery, federal spending increases for defense, homeland security, aid to the states and entitlements such as Medicare, and a "persistent deterioration in the equity market" that will result in lower than expected tax revenues this spring.

The result, predicts Goldman Sachs, will be a short-term deficit of $425 billion next year, compared to the $200 billion predicted by the Congressional Budget Office, and a total of $4.2 trillion in deficits over the next decade. Company analysts Bill Dudley and Ed McKelvey argue that the "deterioration in the budget balance will result in higher interest rates than would otherwise be the case. Some argue there is no link between budget deficits and interest rates, citing the lack of correlation. This argument is not compelling."

Instead of demanding balanced budgets and the scaling down of big government, as the Contract With America demanded, many conservatives have quietly concluded that cutting taxes now will force major spending cuts and the reining in of big government in the future.

"Tax cuts force that debate," said Bill Beach, director of the conservative Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis.

Others have questioned the wisdom of another major round of tax cuts at this time. In March, the non-partisan Committee for Economic Development, a group of current and retired business leaders from companies such as Verizon, BellSouth, BankAmerica and General Electric, issued a report that concluded: "Deficits do matter. To the extent deficits are paid out of domestic savings, they leave less money behind to finance investments in plants and equipment, research and technology, and human capital that make us more productive. To the extent they are financed by foreigners, they increase our nation's international debts, divert our future income to service those debts, and increase economic instability. In either event, deficits will reduce our future standard of living."

But what does it mean for the average person? It's impossible to say with certainty, and difficult to illustrate in meaningful ways. But let's say mortgage rates, which are at near historic lows now begin to rise from around 6 percent to say, 8 percent. The difference in the monthly payment on a $250,000 house would be nearly $400 a month ($4,800 a year) on a 30-year fixed mortgage, or $700 a month ($8,400 a year) on a $500,000 house.

In other words -- at least in the minds of Bush tax cut opponents such as Voinovich -- there are costs associated with growing deficits that could more than undermine the benefits of a tax cut.

The Other Side of the Coin

There is, of course, another side to this argument. As The Post's Jonathan Weisman reported Tuesday, the White House Council of Economic Advisers has calculated that the full $726 billion package would create 1.4 million jobs through 2004; a $550 billion package would create just over a million jobs. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters last week that a $350 billion package would create about 425,000 fewer jobs.

In other words, in Bush's view, the bigger the better.

The Business Roundtable, an influential coalition of 150 big business CEOs, supports the Bush tax cut plan. Earlier this year, it commissioned a study from PricewaterhouseCoopers that concluded "the administration's program would be stimulative in the short run and growth-enhancing in the long run."

The report predicted implementation of the full Bush tax cut plan would lead to creation of an average of 900,000 jobs a year through the next decade and would add $1.5 trillion in new income over the same time period.

"Because of the stimulus it would impart, the proposal would increase the federal deficit, including the additional interest expense, by just two-thirds of the static revenue loss," PricewaterhouseCoopers official Kenneth L. Wertz wrote to the Business Roundtable.

That cost, the Business Roundtable concludes, is well worth it.

"Our view is that we have an extremely poor economy, 1.6 percent growth," said Business Roundtable spokeswoman Johanna Schneider. "We feel that the economy can grow at a 4-5 percent rate. But it needs a stimulus."

Action on the Other Side

With the war in Iraq all but over, the economy once again becomes the focus in Washington. It is on this front that Democrats, battling it out in a virtually invisible primary, hope to raise their profiles and make inroads against Bush's popularity. While the GOP battles itself on tax cuts, Democrats are hoping for a replay of 1992, when a tanking economy proved to be the first President Bush's undoing.

Democrats believe the economy will prove to be equally problematic for Bush the son. For one thing, public approval of Bush's job performance on the economy pales in comparison to his handling of the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq.

Before Bush can make headway on his tax-cut-based economic recovery plan, he has to first win over the likes of Voinovich and Snowe, which appears to be no simple task.

© 2003 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive

Commentary:
Anyone with half a brain knows conservatives never believed in a balanced budget. They like to talk about it a lot, but they don't like doing it. Reagan talked about balancing the budget, then gave us massive deficits instead.

President Clinton cut the deficit every year of his presidency while republicans were pushing for hundreds of billions in tax cuts. Had those cuts become law the US wouldn't have had a single penny of surplus during the Clinton years. We can thank god we had a moral and decent president during the 90's.

Now that conservatives control the House, Senate and the White House, they're giving us the largest deficits in US history. Bush has blamed the recession, even though it's been over for a long time. He's blamed his silly wars (with nearly defenseless countries), but those wars cost very little compared to his debt (over $700 billion).

Two problems with the Bush deficit excuses. First, excuses don't pay the bills--no matter how many excuses he manufactures, and second, he's projecting deficits for as far as the eye can see. So next year, he can't blame the recession, he can't blame war, he can't blame 9/11 and he can't blame (insert his new excuse here).....But he'll do his best. The only question left is are you stupid enough to believe him?


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Bill First on Failures of Telecom Bill 1996
Tech Law Journal/Congressional Record
June 20, 2001, page S6515

June 20, 2001

Mr. FRIST . Mr. President, I am increasingly concerned about the stalled promise of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 . There are many indications that the pro-competitive course we charted in 1996 when we enacted the Telecommunications Act is not moving as quickly as we intended. In response to that landmark law, hundreds of companies invested billions of dollars in an effort to bring a choice of service provider to local consumers. Yet the competitive telecommunications industry has virtually collapsed in the past year. Every day brings reports of competitors declaring bankruptcy, shutting down operations, or scaling back plans to offer service. Even in my home State, five competitive local exchange carriers with major operations in Tennessee have gone bankrupt.

We have all read recent reports of the difficulties that competitive telecommunications firms are facing in the current economic downturn. For those that continue to struggle in operation, stock prices have plunged, and the capital market has virtually dried up. While telecommunications companies captured an average of two billion dollars per month in initial public offerings over the last two years, they raised only $76 million in IPOs in March, leading numerous companies to withdraw their IPO plans.

The difficulty in entering local markets has also caused nearly all competitors to scale back their plans to offer service. Covad had established offices in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville, but is now closing down over 250 central offices, and will suspend applications for 500 more facilities. Rhythms has cancelled plans to expand nationwide. Net2000 has put its plans for expansion on hold. Numerous other competitors, such as DSL.net , have resolved to focus on a few core markets. Each of these decisions has been accompanied by hundreds of eliminated jobs. In all, competitive local carriers dismissed over 6500 employees nationwide in the last year while attempting to remain in business. Tennessee is among the hardest hit States.

The repercussions of these events on consumers is significant. Competitors reinvested most of their 2000 revenues in local network facilities. Competitors that declared bankruptcy in 2000 had planned to spend over $600 million on capital expenditures in 2001. Those competitive networks will not be available to consumers.

In this uncertain financial climate, it is imperative that we maintain a stable regulatory framework. The 1996 Telecom Act established three pathways to a more competitive local telecommunications marketplace: a new entrant could purchase local telephone services at wholesale rates from the incumbent and resell them to local customers; a competitor could lease specific pieces of the incumbent's network on an unbundled basis, using what the industry calls unbundled network elements; or a competitor could build its own facilities and interconnect them with the incumbent's network. Each of these alternatives must remain available to new entrants. Making fundamental changes to the structure of the 1996 Act will destabilize the already shaky competitive local exchange industry, depriving consumers of even the prospects for meaningful choice.

Recent press reports indicate that investors will not sink more money into local competitors when there is a ``growing view that regulators are working against the new entrants.'' We need to ensure that the market-opening requirements of the 1996 Act are vigorously implemented. Without a supportive regulatory environment, there will be no more capital flowing to new entrants in the local telecommunications market spurring competition and lower consumer prices. This was not the promise of the Telecommunications Act I voted for in 1996 .

Copyright 1998-2003 David Carney, dba Tech Law Journal. All rights reserved.

Commentary:
Republicans tell us deregulation increases competition. The evidence isn't there. Take radio stations. Before deregulation, one company could own only 40 stations, today, Clear Channel owns over half of all radio stations in the US. The promised competition was either a pipe dream or an attempt by republicans to have the entire media (read: morons) owned by a few corporations. Corporations that give them lots of money and push their agenda.

So the next time you hear about deregulation and competition, never forget how deregulation destroyed our free press.


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War lifts Shell to record profits
CNN
Friday, May 2, 2003 Posted: 1105 GMT ( 7:05 PM HKT)

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Royal Dutch/Shell joined its giant oil industry rivals in reporting record quarterly profits on Friday after war in Iraq, civil unrest in Nigeria and strikes in Venezuala stoked crude oil prices.

The world's second largest oil company said net profit adjusted to reflect the current cost of supply and other one-off items soared 96 percent year-on-year to $3.914 billion in the first quarter of 2003.

The result was above a range of analysts' expectations and the biggest profit Shell has ever turned in.

Excluded from the adjusted figure was the impact of a $1.7 billion gain from the sale of 14.75 percent stake in German gas distributor Ruhrgas to German utility E.ON.

The news had little impact on its shares. Investors had come to expect a forecast-beating figure after results from the company's two main rivals earlier in the week, and their minds are now focussed on the fall that has taken place in crude oil prices since the quarter's end, to below $25 a barrel from an average of over $30.

"If they hadn't been at the top of the range that would have been a disappointment," said analyst Peter Hitchens of French broker Cheuvreux.

Shares in Dutch arm Royal Dutch and London-listed Shell were slightly higher, up 0.7 percent and one percent respectively at 1016 GMT, slightly outperforming the DJ Stoxx energy index, which was up 0.3 percent.

Earlier this week, the biggest oil company Exxon Mobil and the third biggest BP each delivered record first-quarter earnings.

Exxon's more than tripled from a year ago -- although its figures included the sale of its Ruhrgas stake -- while BP's were up 132 percent.

War in Iraq and civil unrest in Nigeria threatened supplies of crude oil and took the average price of crude to a 12-year high in the quarter.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Commentary:
Geez, oil companies are making record profits from George's war. Who'd have thought. All you have to do is donate a lot of money to Bush or his party and you can prosper too. The nice thing about it you don't even have to do a better job than the other guy. Instead, all you have to do is belong to an industry Bush or republicans choose. Oh, and the rest of us—we get screwed with higher prices.


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Unemployment Rate Rose to 6% in April 2003
New York Times
KENNETH N. GILPIN
May 02, 2003

he nation's unemployment rate rose to 6 percent in April, the Labor Department reported today, as employers cut jobs for a third straight month.

The rise in the jobless rate, from 5.8 percent in March, puts the unemployment rate at its highest level since July 1994, when it hit 6.1 percent. Given extremely sluggish economic conditions, analysts said further increases in the unemployment rate were likely through the spring and summer.

``The unemployment rate is going higher,'' said Paul L. Kasriel, director of economic research at the Northern Trust Company in Chicago. ``The economy is poking along at a rate of growth of 2 percent or less. That is not fast enough to keep the rate from rising. To merely stabilize employment, the economy needs to grow somewhere between 3 percent and 4 percent.''

In a preliminary estimate issued a week ago, the government said the nation's gross domestic product grew 1.6 percent in the first quarter. Most analysts, including Mr. Kasriel, do not expect growth of more than 2 percent in the current quarter.

Mr. Kasriel said he expected the unemployment rate, which has been hovering around 6 percent for more than a year, to rise ``at least'' another two-tenths of a percentage point.

Over all, employers shed 48,000 jobs last month, slightly less than Wall Street analysts had forecast. But the Labor Department revised the number of jobs lost during March downward, to 124,000 from 108,000 as originally reported.

Over the past three months, more than half a million people have lost their jobs. The number of unemployed workers rose to 8.8 million. Nearly 2 million of those people have been out of work for 27 weeks or more, the Labor Department said.

``These numbers are not as bad as some had feared, but they are not good,'' said David Resler, chief economist at Nomura Securities International. ``If there is an improvement in demand, I think we will see a fairly swift response in hiring. But there has to be a change in the underlying fundamentals driving growth. And manufacturing is clearly struggling.''

Financial markets, which had been bracing for bad news, were clearly relieved that the jobs report was not worse.

Stock prices dipped modestly at the opening, but moved higher as the session wore on. And bond prices, which had rallied earlier in the week on signs of further weakness in the economy, moved a bit lower following release of the employment data.

Manufacturing employment fell for the 33rd straight month, losing 95,000 jobs. There were notable declines in the motor vehicles, fabricated metals and electronics equipment industries.

Service sector employment rose by 25,000 jobs last month. But industries that have been suffering since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks - airlines, hotels and amusement and recreation - continued to shed jobs.

Airlines cut 18,000 jobs last month. From a peak in January 2001, the transportation sector has shed 177,000 jobs.

Meanwhile, employment in amusement and recreation services fell by 41,000. And hotels cut 20,000 jobs.

``Almost one-third of the job losses over the last three months in services were in areas hit by war, terror and fear,'' said Robert v. DiClemente, chief United States economist at Salomon Smith Barney.

Ebullient Iraqis memorably pulled down the statue of Saddam Hussein in downtown Baghdad on April 9. Thus far, however, the expected postwar bounce in the economy has not really materialized.

``We have started out the second quarter in a hole,'' Mr. DiClemente added. ``I would like to think this tells us more where we have been than where we are going. But we continue to get a combination of a hiring freeze and continued job losses. There is not enough going on to stop the bleeding.''

To be sure, there have been some encouraging signs since the end of the war, including a sharp drop in oil prices, firming stock prices and a rebound in consumer confidence.

However, it remains to be seen how confident consumers will remain, and how much they will spend, if the unemployment rate continues to rise.

Most analysts said they did not expect today's report, in conjunction with a weak report from the nation's purchasing managers on Thursday, would be enough to force policy makers at the Federal Reserve to cut short-term interest rates when they meet next week.

Alan Greenspan, the Fed chairman, indicated to members of the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday that the Fed would like to see a few months of postwar data before making a decision on monetary policy.

In February, when he delivered his semi-annual report on the economy and monetary policy to Congress, Mr. Greenspan said the economy was being held back by geopolitical uncertainties associated with a possible war with Iraq. Underlying economic conditions, Mr. Greenspan said then, appeared good.

``I don't think the Fed will move next week,'' David Wyss, chief economist at the Standard & Poor's Corporation, said. ``But they will cut rates in June if things haven't improved by then.''

The overnight federal funds rate, the rate most directly controlled by the Fed, is at 1.25 percent, a 41-year low.

If the unemployment rate remains sticky or rises further through the spring and summer, pressures in Congress and the Bush administration to inject short-term stimulus into the economy will intensify, analysts said.

Currently, the bulk of the president's tax cut proposals are focused on fostering long-term economic growth.

``If the unemployment rate is not coming down by the middle of next year, the administration will have problems,'' Mr. Kasriel said. ``Right now, I'd say the odds of that happening are 50-50.''

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

Commentary:
Bush said his first tax cut would make the economy grow. He got it wrong. Now he wants another one. Well before we get ahead of ourselves let's review what else this moron said. When the economy was booming during the Clinton years he wanted to give us a tax cut. When the economy went sour after he took office he wanted to give us a tax cut. So no matter how the economy performs we get a tax cut.

But what's wrong with tax cuts? The DEFICIT, that's what. Bush, like Reatgan isn't really cutting taxes. All he's doing is postponing when you have to pay for them. So, don't forget, deficits are tax increases. Don't let Bush, republicans or the corporate media empire tell you otherwise.

What else did Bush lie to you about? He lied about getting an up or down vote in the security council on Iraq. He lied about weapons of mass destruction, he lied about Saddam being able to build nukes in six months or less.

I challange all Bush supporters to put forward a truth that Bush has uttered since being appointed. If you can't do that, then tell me when the man has been right.


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11 ex-Enron execs indicted
Mercury News/New York Times
By Kurt Eichenwald/New York Times
Posted on Fri, May. 02, 2003

HOUSTON -Federal prosecutors unsealed indictments Thursday against 11 former Enron executives, including charges that the once-vaunted success of the company's high-speed Internet business was largely an illusion.

In addition, the government charged three new defendants with participating in illegal deals with Enron's former chief financial officer, Andrew S. Fastow, using those deals both to enrich themselves and improperly manipulate the company's financial performance.

Among those defendants was Fastow's wife, Lea, who was charged in a separate indictment with committing fraud by aiding her husband in certain schemes.

The unusual, single-day disclosure of three distinct indictments in a related case was designed to give federal prosecutors the ability to signal significant success in their more than yearlong investigation of Enron's collapse, government officials said. All told, 18 people have been charged with crimes related to Enron; of that number, eight were indicted for the first time Thursday.

The charges paint a portrait of deception on a grand scale. As described in the indictments, Enron executives engaged in a series of schemes, including pumping up company profits with bogus sales of assets, lying about the state of the company's technology, enriching themselves by defrauding the company and selling millions of dollars in Enron shares as the market celebrated positive corporate news that was false.

There were many people at Enron and other institutions ``who were responsible for reducing the seventh-largest corporation in America to rubble,'' said Andrew Weissmann, a federal prosecutor on the Justice Department's Enron task force. ``The task force is continuing to sift diligently through the rubble that was Enron piece by piece, scheme by scheme and lie by lie.''

Built on previous cases

Two of the indictments unsealed Thursday built on previous cases brought against Fastow and against two former executives with Enron's broadband division, Kevin Howard and Michael Krautz. In each of those indictments, new defendants were added to the case.

The indictment related to Fastow -- which also named Ben F. Glisan Jr., a former Enron treasurer, and Dan Boyle, a former executive in the finance division -- involved allegations that were featured in the original charges last fall against Fastow; mainly that he used the complex web of partnerships in his control to enrich himself and manipulated Enron's financial performance.

Lea Fastow was charged separately with fraud, money laundering and tax violations in the third indictment. All of the defendants pleaded not guilty Thursday in hearings at the U.S. District Court in Houston and were released on bail that totaled millions of dollars.

Charges attacked

At the courthouse, lawyers for Fastow attacked the charges as a ``transparent effort'' by the government to pressure her husband to plead guilty. ``Lea Fastow is innocent,'' said Nanci Clarence, a San Francisco lawyer representing her. ``Mrs. Fastow has done nothing wrong, and she had nothing to do with the fall of Enron. These charges are utterly meritless.''

The charges against the bulk of the executives -- all of whom worked in the broadband division -- mark a significant shift in the direction of the investigation. Until now, the criminal charges brought against Enron executives related to off-balance-sheet partnerships that executives used to exaggerate the company's financial situation and enrich themselves.

But the broadband indictment -- naming the division's entire senior management, including Kenneth Rice and Joe Hirko, both former chief executives -- portrays a more traditional fraud, in which Enron is said to have celebrated its creation of technology that had not yet been born, driving the company's stock price up as executives sold millions of dollars worth of shares.

In essence, the broadband case signals that the Enron investigation has shifted from examinations of complex accounting machinations to what, at first glance, would seem to be more easily understood concepts about truth and lies. None of these activities played a role in bringing the company down; rather, they helped drive up the stock price, placing it on the lofty perch from which it fell.

The Securities and Exchange Commission also brought an action against the seven broadband executives -- who also included Kevin Hannon, Kevin Howard, Scott Yeager, Rex Shelby and Michael Krautz -- portraying the division as being built on advances that did not exist.

The government faces certain complexities in the broadband case, particularly in describing the technologies involved. Enron maintained that it had established a software-driven ``intelligent'' network, with software that offered advanced features like billing based on use and a function known as ``user-defined quality of service.'' The network did exist, but the government contends that the special features that would differentiate it from rivals did not.

In public statements, Enron executives represented that the system was up and running; if it was not, the defense in the case would face an enormous challenge. People who have spoken with the defendants said that they intend to argue that those features did indeed work.

Network software

In the indictment, the government says Enron changed the name of its network software to Broadband Operating System, or BOS. The government charges that Enron executives referred to the BOS as a system that was in use, when in fact it was in development.

But internal documents -- including a transcript from an analyst conference in January 2000 that is central to the government's case -- suggest that different executives meant different things when they discussed the BOS. The result is that some executives -- including Jeffrey Skilling, the former chief executive -- referred to the BOS as a product in development; at the same meeting, other executives, including Hirko, referred to it as a system that was up and running.

``As I have learned the facts in this case, it is clear to me that there were many different understandings internally of what was meant by the BOS,'' said Lee Hamel, a lawyer representing Yeager.

In the end, this means that at least some of any trial will bog down on what people meant when they referred to particular systems, and whether any of it actually worked.

Hiding troubles

But as the financial position of the broadband division deteriorated throughout 2000, the indictment says, Enron executives went to enormous lengths to hide the troubles. For example, the executives structured what the government contends was a bogus sale of an interest in a failing joint venture with Blockbuster to provide video on demand. That transaction, known as Braveheart, resulted in $111 million in revenue being generated in 2001, allowing the division to meet its projected earnings.

The indictment describes further deceptions. Ultimately, the complaint says, the Enron executives portrayed the division, known as Enron Broadband Services, as a smashing success at the January 2001 annual meeting, when in fact it was performing dismally.

In the complaint against Fastow, Glisan, the former company treasurer, was portrayed as a central participant in the wrongdoing involving the partnerships. Glisan was a recipient of more than $1 million from a $5,000 partnership investment provided to him by Fastow; as described in the charges, those profits came at the expense of Enron and one of its banks. Boyle, a former finance executive, is described as taking part in a bogus sale of Nigerian barges to Merrill Lynch.

Commentary:
A little history. Bush said we needed a secret national energy plan (government run energy---or socialism) because of an energy shortage. Later we learned his campaign contributors gave him lots of money so Bush could manufacture his plan to combat this phoney energy crisis. (Bush also attack Clinton for not giving us socialized energy.)

Then the truth came out. Enron and the companies that support this president are corrupt. Every single one of them. Bush was once again making policy based on the lies and corruption of those who put him into power. Quid pro quo.

No matter how much it costs you, Bush will help his corporate buddies.


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Clear Channel War Rallies
Chicago Tribune
By Tim Jones
Published March 19, 2003

Some of the biggest rallies this month have endorsed President Bush's strategy against Saddam Hussein, and the common thread linking most of them is Clear Channel Worldwide Inc., the nation's largest owner of radio stations.

In a move that has raised eyebrows in some legal and journalistic circles, Clear Channel radio stations in Atlanta, Cleveland, San Antonio, Cincinnati and other cities have sponsored rallies attended by up to 20,000 people. The events have served as a loud rebuttal to the more numerous but generally smaller anti-war rallies.

The sponsorship of large rallies by Clear Channel stations is unique among major media companies, which have confined their activities in the war debate to reporting and occasionally commenting on the news. The San Antonio-based broadcaster owns more than 1,200 stations in 50 states and the District of Columbia.

While labor unions and special interest groups have organized and hosted rallies for decades, the involvement of a big publicly regulated broadcasting company breaks new ground in public demonstrations.

"I think this is pretty extraordinary," said former Federal Communications Commissioner Glen Robinson, who teaches law at the University of Virginia. "I can't say that this violates any of a broadcaster's obligations, but it sounds like borderline manufacturing of the news."

A spokeswoman for Clear Channel said the rallies, called "Rally for America," are the idea of Glenn Beck, a Philadelphia talk show host whose program is syndicated by Premier Radio Networks, a Clear Channel subsidiary.

'Just patriotic rallies'

A weekend rally in Atlanta drew an estimated 20,000 people, with some carrying signs reading "God Bless the USA" and other signs condemning France and the group Dixie Chicks, one of whose members recently criticized President Bush.

"They're not intended to be pro-military. It's more of a thank you to the troops. They're just patriotic rallies," said Clear Channel spokeswoman Lisa Dollinger.

Rallies sponsored by Clear Channel radio stations are scheduled for this weekend in Sacramento, Charleston, S.C., and Richmond, Va. Although Clear Channel promoted two of the recent rallies on its corporate Web site, Dollinger said there is no corporate directive that stations organize rallies.

"Any rallies that our stations have been a part of have been of their own initiative and in response to the expressed desires of their listeners and communities," Dollinger said.

Clear Channel is by far the largest owner of radio stations in the nation. The company owned only 43 in 1995, but when Congress removed many of the ownership limits in 1996, Clear Channel was quickly on the highway to radio dominance. The company owns and operates 1,233 radio stations (including six in Chicago) and claims 100 million listeners. Clear Channel generated about 20 percent of the radio industry's $16 billion in 2001 revenues.

Size sparks criticism

The media giant's size also has generated criticism. Some recording artists have charged that Clear Channel's dominance in radio and concert promotions is hurting the recording industry. Congress is investigating the effects of radio consolidation. And the FCC is considering ownership rule changes, among them changes that could allow Clear Channel to expand its reach.

Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) has introduced a bill that could halt further deregulation in the radio industry and limit each company's audience share and percent of advertising dollars. These measures could limit Clear Channel's meteoric growth and hinder its future profitability.

Jane Kirtley, a professor of media ethics and law at the University of Minnesota, said the company's support of the Bush administration's policy toward Iraq makes it "hard to escape the concern that this may in part be motivated by issues that Clear Channel has before the FCC and Congress."

Dollinger denied there is a connection between the rallies and the company's pending regulatory matters.

Rick Morris, an associate professor of communications at Northwestern University, said these actions by Clear Channel stations are a logical extension of changes in the radio industry over the last 20 years, including the blurring of lines between journalism and entertainment.

From a business perspective, Morris said, the rallies are a natural fit for many stations, especially talk-radio stations where hosts usually espouse politically conservative views.

"Nobody should be surprised by this," Morris said.

In 1987 the FCC repealed the Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcasters to cover controversial issues in their community and to do so by offering balancing views. With that obligation gone, Morris said, "radio can behave more like newspapers, with opinion pages and editorials."

"They've just begun stretching their legs, being more politically active," Morris said.

Copyright © 2003, Chicago Tribune

Commentary:
I can't imagine a single person in the US supporting Bush, but I know they exist, or at least the polls say they do. Why they support him is beyond understanding. He's lied to us so many times it's impossible to track. He's destroyed our position in the world as the leader of the free world and he's jeopardize our super power status (i.e.: you can't lead if no one is willing to follow). On top of that, he's presiding over the largest deficits and accusation of debt in world history. Have we ever had a president who NEVER gets it right?

Clear Channel and Fox are arms of the republican party. They, like Rush Limbaugh and the rest of talk radio are run by right wing nuts. These nuts push conservative propaganda around the clock. The faithful listen daily to the sermons of their new gods---they've become indoctrinated and addicted.

How do we deprogram an entire country? How do we take over the media? How do we get them to stop lying to protect Bush? How do we tell Americans there is no such thing as a tax cut when we have deficits? How do we tell them warring with defenseless countries is a sign of how weak we've become?


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The Secrets of September 11
MSNBC
Michael Isikoff
Mark Hosenball

The White House is battling to keep a report on the terror attacks secret. Does the 2004 election have anything to do with it?
NEWSWEEK WEB EXCLUSIVE  

April 30 —  Even as White House political aides plot a 2004 campaign plan designed to capitalize on the emotions and issues raised by the September 11 terror attacks, administration officials are waging a behind-the-scenes battle to restrict public disclosure of key events relating to the attacks.

AT THE CENTER of the dispute is a more-than-800-page secret report prepared by a joint congressional inquiry detailing the intelligence and law-enforcement failures that preceded the attacks—including provocative, if unheeded warnings, given President Bush and his top advisers during the summer of 2001

The report was completed last December; only a bare-bones list of “findings’ with virtually no details was made public. But nearly six months later, a “working group’ of Bush administration intelligence officials assigned to review the document has taken a hard line against further public disclosure. By refusing to declassify many of its most significant conclusions, the administration has essentially thwarted congressional plans to release the report by the end of this month, congressional and administration sources tell NEWSWEEK. In some cases, these sources say, the administration has even sought to “reclassify’ some material that was already discussed in public testimony—a move one Senate staffer described as “ludicrous.’ The administration´s stand has infuriated the two members of Congress who oversaw the report—Democratic Sen. Bob Graham and Republican Rep. Porter Goss. The two are now preparing a letter of complaint to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Graham is “increasingly frustrated’ by the administration´s “unwillingness to release what he regards as important information the public should have about 9-11,’ a spokesman said. In Graham´s view, the Bush administration isn´t protecting legitimate issues of national security but information that could be a political “embarrassment,’ the aide said. Graham, who last year served as Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, recently told NEWSWEEK: “There has been a cover-up of this.’

Graham´s stand may not be terribly surprising, given that the Florida Democrat is running for president and is seeking to use the issue himself politically. But he has found a strong ally in House Intelligence Committee Chairman Goss, a staunch Republican (and former CIA officer) who in the past has consistently defended the administration´s handling of 9-11 issues and is considered especially close to Cheney.

“I find this process horrendously frustrating,’ Goss said in an interview. He was particularly piqued that the administration was refusing to declassify material that top intelligence officials had already testified about. “Senior intelligence officials said things in public hearings that they [administration officials] don´t want us to put in the report,’ said Goss. “That´s not something I can rationally accept without further public explanation.’

Unlike Graham, Goss insists there are no political “gotchas’ in the report, only a large volume of important information about the performance and shortcomings of U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement agencies prior to September 11.

And even congressional staffers close to the process say it is unclear whether the administration´s resistance to public disclosure reflects fear of political damage or simply an ingrained “culture of secrecy’ that permeates the intelligence community—and has strong proponents at the highest levels of the White House.

The mammoth report reflects nearly 10 months of investigative work by a special staff hired jointly by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees and overseen by Eleanor Hill, a former federal prosecutor and Pentagon inspector general. Hill´s team got access to hundreds of thousands of pages of classified documents from the CIA, FBI, National Security Agency and other executive-branch agencies. The staff also conducted scores of interviews with senior officials, field agents and intelligence officers. (They were not, however, given access to some top White House aides, such as national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice or other principals like Secretary of State Colin Powell or Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.) The team´s report was approved by the two intelligence committees last Dec. 10. But because the document relied so heavily on secret material, the administration “working group,’ overseen by CIA director George Tenet, had to first “scrub’ the document and determine which portions could be declassified.

More than two months later, the working group came back with its decisions—and some members were flabbergasted. Entire portions remained classified. Some of the report—including some dealing with matters that had been extensively aired in public, such as the now famous FBI “Phoenix memo’ of July 2001 reporting that Middle Eastern nationals might be enrolling in U.S. flight schools—were “reclassified.’ Hill has since submitted proposed changes to the working group, pointing out the illogic of trying to pull back material that was already in the public domain. But officials have indicated the “review’ process is likely to drag on for months—with no guarantees that the “working group’ will be any more amenable to public disclosure.

A U.S. intelligence official cited international distractions as at least one reason for the delays. “In case you hadn´t noticed, there have been two wars going on,’ the official said. The official added: “We´re working this [report] to try to get it out without putting lives at risk and without endangering sources and methods.’ Asked why the working group was refusing to permit disclosure of material that had already been made public, the official said: “Just because something had been inadvertently released, doesn´t make it unclassified.’

The administration´s tough stand, some sources say, doesn´t augur well for the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks—which is conducting its own investigation into the events of 9-11. Already, flaps have developed on that front, as well. When one commissioner, former congressman Tim Roemer, last week sought to review transcripts of some of the joint inquiry´s closed-door hearings, he was denied access—because the commission staff had agreed to a White House request to allow its lawyers to first review the material to determine if the president wants to invoke executive privilege to keep the material out of the panel´s hands.

“I think it´s outrageous,’ says Roemer, who plans to raise the matter at a commission hearing this week. But a commission staffer says he expected the White House review to be finished by the end of the week, and it was unclear whether the president´s lawyers would try to invoke executive privilege—a stand that would almost certainly provoke a major legal battle with the panel.

The tensions over the release of 9-11 related material seems especially relevant—if not ironic—in light of recent reports that the president´s political advisers have devised an unusual re-election strategy that essentially uses the story of September 11 as the liftoff for his campaign. The White House is delaying the Republican nominating convention, scheduled for New York City, until the first week in September 2004—the latest in the party´s history. That would allow Bush´s acceptance speech, now slated for Sept. 2, to meld seamlessly into 9-11 commemoration events due to take place in the city the next week.

Some sources who have read the still-secret congressional report say some sections would not play quite so neatly into White House plans. One portion deals extensively with the stream of U.S. intelligence-agency reports in the summer of 2001 suggesting that Al Qaeda was planning an upcoming attack against the United States—and implicitly raises questions about how Bush and his top aides responded. One such CIA briefing, in July 2001, was particularly chilling and prophetic. It predicted that Osama bin Laden was about to launch a terrorist strike “in the coming weeks,’ the congressional investigators found. The intelligence briefing went on to say: “The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties against U.S. facilities or interests. Attack preparations have been made. Attack will occur with little or no warning.’

The substance of that intelligence report was first disclosed at a public hearing last September by staff director Hill. But at the last minute, Hill was blocked from saying precisely who within the Bush White House got the briefing when CIA director Tenet classified the names of the recipients. (One source says the recipients of the briefing included Bush himself.) As a result, Hill was only able to say the briefing was given to “senior government officials.’

That issue is now being refought in the context over the full report. The report names names, gives dates and provides a body of new information about the handling of many other crucial intelligence briefings—including one in early August 2001 given to national-security adviser Rice that discussed Al Qaeda operations within the United States and the possibility that the group´s members might seek to hijack airplanes. The administration “working group’ is still refusing to declassify information about the briefings, sources said, and has even expressed regret that some of the material was ever provided to congressional investigators in the first place.

A NEW HAND IN HOMELAND SECURITY

The White House is once again shuffling the deck in the staffing of top terrorism jobs, NEWSWEEK has learned. Gen. John A. Gordon—who has wielded broad if largely unseen powers as deputy national-security advisor in charge of combating terrorism—is moving up to become White House homeland-security adviser, a post formerly held by Tom Ridge. The new job is expected to give the brusque and secretive Gordon even more power as a “principal’ with direct access to Bush. (Ridge is now secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.) Sources say Gordon beat out ex-FBI official James Kallstrom—an old ally of former FBI director Louis Freeh—for the key post.

The elevation of Gordon is the latest sign of the increasing prominence of intelligence-community veterans throughout the upper reaches of the government under Bush. (FBI director Robert Mueller, for example, recently reached outside the ranks of his law-enforcement agents to select Maureen A. Baginski, a former National Security Agency deputy director, to oversee FBI intelligence efforts.) For his part, Gordon was a former deputy CIA director with a reputation as a “a results-oriented guy’ who has little patience for bureaucratic procedures, according to one former government official who has worked with him.

Gordon´s departure, however, leaves vacancies at the two top White House counterterrorism jobs: Gordon´s old post and that of his former deputy, Rand Beers, who resigned the week the war in Iraq began. On the surface, the vacancies seem conspicuous in an administration that has made combating terrorism the centerpiece of its policies. But sources say a vigorous search has been underway and replacements are likely to be named shortly.

© 2003 Newsweek, Inc.

Commentary:
Think of it this way. After the Challenger accident we wanted to know what happened. Who screwed up right? After 9/11, Bush did everything in his power to stop all investigations into what went wrong. What little we know has been leaked by congress or some in the media but very little (almost nothing) is known about what Bush knew and when he knew it. Instead the corporate media tells us how Bush was transformed by 9/11. I don't know about you but I still see the uninformed idiot who was running (and lying) to us in the campaign. I also see the media helping him by not exposing his endless failures (no instigation means no bad press) and lies. But more important, how can we really stop another 9/11 if we don't know what went wrong the first time around? The media and the congress and Bush will be responsible for another 9/11 if it happens again. They'll be responsible because they protected the secrets of the first 9/11.


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Marine investigated for war crimes
The Sydney Morning Herald (AU)
May 01, 2003

Washington: A US Marine sergeant is under investigation for possible war crimes committed in Iraq based on statements he made to his hometown newspaper, military officials said today.

Gunnery Sergeant Gus Covarrubias became the target of the preliminary inquiry after he described for the Las Vegas, Nevada, Review-Journal daily how he had hunted down and shot two Iraqi soldiers after a firefight.

"A preliminary inquiry has been initiated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service to examine the circumstances surrounding the statements made by Gunnery Sergeant Covarrubias," the statement said.

"The preliminary inquiry will determine if the actions described by Gunnery Sergeant Covarrubias during combat operations met the established rules of engagement and complied with the law of war."

A Marine Forces Reserve spokeswoman refused further comment, referring media inquiries to naval investigators.

In the interview published Friday, Covarrubias, 38, said he was searching for the source of a grenade attack during the April 8 battle and found a soldier in a nearby home with a grenade launcher next to him.

Covarrubias told the daily he ordered the man to stop and to turn around. "I went behind him and shot him in the back of the head - twice," he was quoted as saying.

Covarrubias said he noticed another Iraqi soldier trying to escape and also shot him, then grabbed their identification cards, a rifle and one of their berets for souvenirs.

Covarrubias is assigned to the Second Battalion, 23rd Marines, a reserve unit from the western United States.

In the interview, he was quoted as saying the killings were "justice", but the daily quoted a military expert as saying the first one could have been a war crime.

"We do not allow our soldiers to execute (prisoners of war) at their own discretion. And this, as described, looks like the summary execution of a (prisoner of war)," said John Pike, director of globalsecurity.org.

Copyright © 2003. The Sydney Morning Herald.

Commentary:
How many Americans know a US soldier is accessed of war crimes? Not many. In our sanitized version of reality, the US is portrayed as the good guys. There's nothing wrong with that if we were. But, someplace along the way we lost our moral compass. Today, we have president who says we need to go to war with two defenseless countries, give us no evidence to support his reasons and huge majorities of Americans support him. Then when we learn he lied to us about WMD, the media doesn't hammer him on it, they kinda let it slide. Soon, America will forget why we went to war and the images we'll remember are the sanitized versions of reality we call war. We will not remember a US solider killing civilians in cold blood. That's un-American.


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