Friday, March 28, 2008

Overnight - A roundup of news items that you might have missed

Siegelman to be released from prison Friday A federal appellate court [Thursday] ordered former Gov. Don Siegelman released from prison while he appeals his 2006 conviction, saying there are "substantial questions" about his case. Siegelman attorney Vince Kilborn said Siegelman would be released sometime Friday morning. "His wife and his daughter, Dana, are driving out to get him," Kilborn said. Siegelman has been in an Oakdale, La., prison camp for nearly nine months. A federal jury in 2006 convicted Siegelman and HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy of federal funds bribery. Prosecutors alleged Scrushy bought a seat on a state board with a $500,000 donation to Siegelman's lottery campaign.

Iraqi Prime Minister ‘Irrelevant’ in Shiite Power Struggle Vali R. Nasr, a leading expert on Shiite Muslims in the Middle East, says the fighting in southern Iraq amounts to a power struggle between pro- and anti-U.S. Shiite militias. He says the country’s Shiite prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is “completely irrelevant” in the conflict in the south. He notes that the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) headed by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, an ally of the United States, is in direct competition with the Mahdi army headed by Muqtada al-Sadr, who has made anti-Americanism his rallying cry. “We should have expected that at some point fighting would break out,” Nasr says. “Iraq really doesn’t have a viable political mechanism for settling power struggles and it is also difficult to settle disagreements peacefully between groups armed to the teeth.”

Defeated Maryland Congressman To Resign...It's a NetRoots Thaing. Maryland Democratic Rep. Albert Wynn said Thursday he will resign before his term ends, a move that comes after the eight-term congressman's sound defeat in last month's primary. Wynn said he will leave his seat in June and take a job at a Washington law firm. In a short statement, Wynn said that "it was time to move into another phase of my life." The resignation likely means a special election will be held to fill Wynn's vacant seat. Wynn said he expects the election will be won by Donna Edwards, the activist and lawyer who beat him by 22 percentage points in the Feb. 13 Democratic primary.

Way to compromise the prosecution, guys! You remember the "torture tapes" don't you? The video of the interrogation of terrorist suspects, that showed them being tortured, and that were destroyed by the CIA to cover the asses of the amateur Torquemadas who work for the CIA? Yeah, well. So much for that notion - now the destruction of the tapes is hanging over the prosecution of multiple terror suspects who are claiming that evidence pertinent to their cases was destroyed. “They thought they were saving themselves from legal scrutiny, as well as possible danger from Al Qaeda if the tapes became public,” said Frederick P. Hitz, a former C.I.A. officer and the agency’s inspector general from 1990 to 1998, speaking of agency officials who favored eliminating the tapes. “Unknowingly, perhaps, they may have created even more problems for themselves.”

DHS Backpeddles...again Homeland Security has pushed back the date that it will be necessary for North Americans to present a passport at the border to move between the U.S. and Mexico and Canada.

Is the FARC in the DU business now? On Thursday the State Department acknowledged that it was "deeply concerned" by reports that 66 pounds of Depleted Uranium obtained by FARC forces had been recovered. "We are deeply concerned by the reports that FARC members were trafficking in uranium," State Department spokeswoman Heide Bronke said. "This underscores the terrorist threat that FARC poses to the people of Colombia and to the region."

Candidates pander and embrace aWol's tax cuts - Economists cringe Deficit hawks (I am one) are frustrated by the current tax debate and the seeming willingness to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, insisting in the face of proof to the contrary, that tax cuts are all that's needed to put a chicken in every pot and a pony in every garden! But wait...not so fast there, sportsfans...

Far from acting as an economic tonic, the tax cuts "are neither sustainable nor beneficial" without massive cuts in government spending far beyond what Bush or any candidate to succeed him has proposed, said Alan D. Viard, a former economist in the Bush White House who is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. The most popular cuts -- those known as "middle-class" tax cuts -- are more likely to slow economic growth than promote it, Viard and others said....."Those are the provisions that detract from long-term growth even if you finance them with a reduction in government spending," said Robert Carroll, a former Bush Treasury official who teaches at American University. "If you pay for them with future tax increases, I think that would be awful." And once again...I told you so!

Bear Stearns Chairman dumps stock...Chairman James Cayne sold 5.66 million shares of Bear shares on Tuesday, at a price of $10.84 per share. Cayne and his wife dumped 5.66 million shares of the failing stock right before the price of the troubled stock dropped by a buck and a half a share.

So just how bad do we want to piss off Russia? I mean, they have a rested military and lots of oil - two things the U.S. decidedly lacks. Georgia wants to join NATO - Russia doesn't want them to - "A 'no' in Bucharest will be very clearly seen by some people in Moscow as their success, and it will be very clearly seen in Moscow that it has indirect veto rights on NATO decisions," he told reporters in Brussels on a visit to NATO headquarters there. "A 'no' in Bucharest will have very, very threatening and negative implications for conflict resolution," he continued.

An ear for an ear? The mayor of Easter Island said yesterday that he wished the Finnish tourist who is accused of chipping an earlobe off an ancient Moai could have his ear clipped off as "justice" for damaging one of the famous statues.....Marko Kulju, 26, issued a public apology through a Chilean newspaper yesterday, saying he regretted the incident that caused such an uproar on the South Pacific island, a Chilean territory. It was not known if Mayor Pedro Edmunds Paoa had read the published apology....."If an ear is cut off, then an ear gets cut," Mr Edmunds Paoa said in a radio interview. "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth: That would be my form of justice." I can see it - I really can.

[Many thanks to Pale Rider for getting the roundup started and damned near half way done while I was evading arrest at a KC civic meeting - I have a low tolerance for stupid, and zero tolerance for self-importance...And as I am not a polite midwesterner by birth, I challenged the twit - and we were separated by an official of the Area Transit Authority. I don't care how many pounds she has on me - if she woulda swung, I woulda won.]