Friday, April 28, 2006Heckuva Job, Bushie!
Oil industry corruption crippling Iraq economy
BAGHDAD (AP) — Corruption and smuggling in Iraq's oil industry have become the biggest threat to the country's economy, a new report said Tuesday.
The report, prepared by the office of the inspector general of Iraq's oil ministry, said the only solution is an urgent crackdown by Iraq's government.
The corruption in the oil sector and smuggling of oil products to neighbouring countries are the most important reasons behind the lose of billions of dollars, and these two problems are the biggest threat to Iraq's economy," the report said.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Okay, clarification of my stance: I don't think the nation is in trouble when it comes to this issue, nor do I believe that there is a compelling reason to restrict immigration, ESPECIALLY by militarizing the border. I'd prefer that immigration be legal, but in the presence of criminally low quotas, I see no ethical merit in the "illegality" of their immigration.
But think about this: if the Minutemen are really all about "defending our borders", why are there not more patrols on the Northern border, given the number of terrorists who have passed through that one?
Minutemen gain mainstream appeal - U.S. Security - MSNBC.com
IRVINE, Calif. - Laurie Lisonbee worried about illegal immigration but figured it was somebody else’s issue — until she saw hundreds of thousands of immigrants and their supporters marching across her TV screen.
Soon, Lisonbee had recruited several friends to attend a demonstration by the Minuteman Project, a volunteer group that patrols the border to keep out illegal immigrants. Now, the 51-year-old art professor checks the group’s Web site daily and plans a summer trip to the Mexican border to help build a fence.
Minuteman organizers say this spring’s marches have proved to be an unexpected recruitment tool for Americans who feel uneasy about the burgeoning immigration movement but may have considered the organization a pack of gun-toting vigilantes.
“We’re not trying to be more mainstream — mainstream has found us,” said Stephen Eichler, the group’s executive director. “They’re saying, ’These guys actually have teeth, they don’t all chew tobacco, they don’t all have a gun rack in the back of their truck.’ They’re saying, ‘They believe what I believe,’ and they’re joining us.”
Lisonbee, a registered Republican, said only one issue matters to her now.
“My vote will go to the candidate who’s the toughest on immigration, whether they’re Democrat or Republican,” she said from her home in Orem, Utah. “Before, we were pretty much the types of people who would call our congressmen and not take to the streets. But that’s all changed now.”
The Minuteman Project first gained attention last year when Orange County resident and former tax accountant Jim Gilchrist helped lead its first 30-day patrol of the border in Arizona. The group has added mainstream political tools, including a network of local chapters and e-mail lobbying campaigns.
In December, Gilchrist, a former Republican, ran as a third-party candidate in a special House election in Orange County, Calif., finished a respectable third with 25 percent of the vote.
Since this spring’s huge pro-immigrant rallies, 300 people nationwide have applied to start local chapters, according to Eichler. The group’s goal is 500 chapters by December and a membership of 1 million within 1 1/2 years, Eichler said.
Eichler claimed the organization’s membership has climbed to more than 200,000.
But Heidi Beirich, deputy director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, which monitors the Minuteman Project for racist rhetoric, said that estimate appears to be ridiculously high. She offered no estimate of her own.
“At the border during this last outing, they had maybe 50 people. If they have 200,000 people, it doesn’t seem right,” she said.
Beirich also questioned the premise that pro-immigrant rallies will help the Minuteman Project. She said many recruits may attend one or two rallies, but leave after they discover what she called the group’s extremist attitudes.
“They get in there and they’re like, ‘My God, I didn’t sign on for this,”’ she said.
In the coming weeks, the Minuteman Project plans to set out in a caravan from Los Angeles to Washington, with stops in 13 cities, including President Bush’s vacation haven of Crawford, Texas. It is also raising money to build a private fence along parts of the California-Mexico border.
Increased security along the border is a popular idea on Capitol Hill, where the immigration debate will soon resume. How to treat the approximately 11 million illegal immigrants now here is where Congress splits — a House bill would criminalize the immigrants, a Senate bill would offer guest worker status and a potential path to citizenship.
A boost to conservatives
David S. Meyer, a professor of sociology and political science at the University of California, Irvine, said the growing Minuteman movement has “stiffened the spine” of conservative politicians who might otherwise be wary of publicly identifying with the organization’s views.
He said the recent workplace crackdown at a pallet manufacturer that resulted in 1,100 arrests at 40 U.S. sites was part of an attempt by the Bush administration to appease the Minuteman Project and its congressional supporters. Bush supports a guest worker program.
“The debate has kind of come to them, and they’re clever enough politically to realize that,” Meyer said. “People in mainstream politics who are not associated with the Minuteman Project are essentially voicing their position, which is a victory itself.”
Wednesday, April 26, 2006bullshit and horseshit!
Tony Snow to Be White House Press Secretary
By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 26, 2006; 9:36 AM
Fox News commentator Tony Snow was named White House press secretary today after top officials assured him that he would be not just a spokesman but an active participant in administration policy debates, people familiar with the discussions said.
A former director of speechwriting for President Bush's father, Snow views himself as well positioned to ease the tensions between this White House and the press corps because he understands both politics and journalism, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the appointment had not been officially confirmed, although an announcement is expected today.
Snow will become the first Washington pundit -- and an outspoken ideological voice at that -- to take over the pressroom lectern at a time when tensions between journalists and the administration have been running high, over issues ranging from the Iraq war to investigations involving leaks of classified information.
"President Bush hates responding to the press, hates responding to political enemies -- he thinks it's beneath him," Snow said on Fox News in March. "He's got a stubborn streak." What the president needed, he said, was "a series of vigorous defenses" of his position.
Brit Hume, Fox's Washington managing editor, said he was "a little surprised" that Snow would give up his new radio show to take one of the capital's most demanding jobs.
"I think he's excited by the idea of being on the inside," Hume said. "He believes he will be at the table when decisions are made. For someone of his bent, that's too good to pass up."
Tuesday, April 25, 2006Equality Riders, but regular reader and contributor John shared this press release about the Equality Riders visiting his alma mater. For those who are not familiar with the group:
The Soulforce Equality Ride is a journey to change the heart and mind of America on the issue of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality. Following in the footsteps of the Freedom Rides of the 1960's, the Equality Ride uses principles of non-violence to confront military and religious colleges and universities with policies banning enrollment of LGBT students. The Equality Riders reflect on the lessons of history, which have shown past religion-based discrimination against women, people of color, and religious minorities to be an unacceptable abuse of the sanctity of religion. At each of the 19 schools on the 51-day bus tour, the young adult ambassadors of the Equality Ride bring this simple message to students, faculty and administrators: Learn from history; end religion-based discrimination.
It's a great idea, and I'd love to help get the word out on it in any way that I can. Here's the text of the release:
A Promise Kept: Equality Riders go to Wheaton
SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: April 21, 2006
For Immediate Release
Contact: Richard Lindsay, 646-258-7193
(WHEATON, IL) - Equality Riders wrapped up two days of dialogue with the students, administration and faculty of Wheaton College today. Riders were welcomed to the campus, where they spoke in classes, presented and shared meals with students.
Wheaton was, in many ways, the inspiration for the ride. While he was an undergraduate at Northwestern University, Equality Ride co-director Jacob Reitan met a closeted gay Wheaton student in Chicago. When the discussion turned to the evangelical school's policy on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, the student told Reitan if he came out, he could be expelled from the school.
"I told him I thought it was a horrible policy, and it should be changed," Reitan said. "But then he looked at me and said, 'Actually, I think it's a good policy. I think it's a sin to be gay.'"
Reitan was taken aback, and promised to bring a group of LGBT-affirming Christians to Wheaton to present a different message.
"Coming to Wheaton is the fulfillment of a dream," Reitan said. "We're here to keep a promise I made three years ago, that I would bring a group of LGBT people to Wheaton who affirm their sexuality and know God loves them as they are."
Reitan continued, "We are very thankful to Wheaton College, President Duane Litfin and Provost Stan Jones for welcoming us to campus. They worked with us admirably to plan this visit and the presentations and discussions went smoothly and fairly."
A highlight of the two days of dialogue was a panel discussion in the school's gymnasium, which drew around 1500 students, faculty and community members. The college, whose most famous alum is Billy Graham, has a strong academic reputation and the discussion was spirited and wide-ranging. Soul Force panelists Jacob Reitan, Richard Lindsay, and Jay Johnson discussed subjects with the Wheaton panel ranging from biblical exegesis, theology, psychology, sociology, law, politics and Christian ethics.
A central part of the forum was the issue of academic freedom. The school's administration explained to the Equality Riders that Wheaton's community covenant, which restricts homosexual behavior, is a statement of faith that applies to all students, straight or gay. Wheaton administrators stated that any students standing in support of the goals of the Equality Ride would be risking disciplinary action.
"It is unacceptable for an institution of higher education with a reputation like Wheaton's to suggest that a student could not, after study, thought and prayer, come to the conclusion that homosexuality is not a sin without risking expulsion," Reitan said.
In addition to his academic training in philosophical theology and position at the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA, Jay Johnson provided the personal experience of being a Wheaton alum and son of a Wheaton faculty member.
Johnson's motivation for sitting on the panel with Soulforce was more than academic. Johnson said, "I was thinking about what it was like for me to be a scared, closeted student at this school and how much it would have meant to me to hear someone say I could be gay, I could be Christian, and I could have a wonderful life."
After the presentations and formal dialogues were over, Wheaton students gathered with Equality Riders and other community members at a local restaurant for dinner and informal discussion. As their time together drew to a close, Equality Riders went through the now-familiar ritual of breaking off the intense conversations that had started over dinner, exchanging hugs and e-mail addresses with students and heading for the bus. Before the bus headed back to the hotel, some Wheaton students took a brief tour of the bus and even donated jars of food for the Equality Ride hamster, Ryder.
"We've made so many new friends at every stop," said Equality Rider David Coleman. "It's like we've planted seeds everywhere we've been and we'll just have to wait to see which ones bear fruit."
For more information on the Equality Ride stop at Wheaton college, see: www.equalityride.com/wheaton.