Tuesday, April 22, 2008

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

Oil sets new record high, trading over $118-per-bbl today on concerns that supplies are volatile, and driven by violence in Nigeria. The price record for light, sweet crude is set as the average price per gallon of gasoline settled at $3.51 per gallon. I have been noticing that the buses in Kansas City are getting fuller every day. Pale Rider, on the eastern seaboard and in an area that isn't pedestrian friendly, is seeing more and more people walking. He also tells me he is seeing people running across highways, riding bikes in dangerous areas, and noticing a lot more cars sitting along the roadside in recent weeks.

Don't hold back. Tell us how you really feel...Colorado State Representative Douglas Bruce (R- Colorado Springs) has been gagged from further comment on legislation for a guest-worker program after calling Mexican laborers "illiterate peasants" in a floor debate. Audible gasps filled the House chamber and Gunnison Democrat Kathleen Curry gaveled the proceedings to order. "How dare you?" she demanded, before taking the unusual step of forbidding him adding further comment to the debate. Bruce stands by his xenophobic screed, insisting his colleagues can't handle the truth.

Guess who Julie Nixon is supporting! Julie Nixon Eisenhower has contributed the maximum allowable in the primary season, $2300, to Barack Obama. She donated $1000 on February 4, another $1000 on February 18, and the final $300 on March 5th. Ms. Nixon-Eisenhower was one of her fathers most vigilant defenders during the Watergate scandal, and is the co-chair of the Nixon Presidential Library.

Bush SCHIP Rules Termed "Illegal" The Bush administration has no plans to rescind controversial guidelines restricting enrollment in a popular children's health-care program, despite a recent legal finding that they were administered illegally. The administration's position could leave the issue to the courts, where several states have already sued the White House over their right to expand coverage under the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP. It could also lead to a showdown with Congress, though legislative efforts to expand SCHIP were twice vetoed by President George W. Bush last year. Perhaps with that in mind, congressional critics of the enrollment guidelines are clinging to the unlikely hope that the new legal opinion will inspire the administration to scrap the rules voluntarily. The long-running debate over SCHIP highlights the sharp differences between the White House and a Democratic Congress over Washington's role in providing health care.

Treason, it's Just a Story: (CBS/AP) A former U.S. Army mechanical engineer was arrested Tuesday on charges he slipped classified documents about nuclear weapons to an employee of the Israeli Consulate who also received information from convicted Pentagon spy Jonathan Pollard, authorities said. Ben-ami Kadish was scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, where he was facing four counts of conspiracy, including allegations that he conspired to disclose U.S. national defense documents to Israel and that he acted as an agent of the Israeli government. A criminal complaint said the activities occurred from 1979 through 1985 while Kadish worked at the U.S. Army's Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center in Dover, N.J. Investigators believe Kadish, a U.S. citizen, took home secret documents and let the Israeli government worker photograph them.

Crisis Leaves Zimbabweans Hungry, Beaten: Three weeks after the March 29 election, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has not released the results of the presidential race. The MDC has lost repeated appeals to the High Court to force the commission to announce the results. Instead, the commission has begun recounting votes in 23 districts, where Mugabe's ZANU PF party claims there were counting irregularities. Government soldiers went into the electoral centre last week and removed the ballot boxes. No independent observers were allowed to remain with the boxes or given any information about a possible recount. There has been no further information on the location or security of the ballot boxes since.

Yeah, But Aren't You Supposed to Know How to "Be" a Diplomat? Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Tuesday refuted a statement by former president Jimmy Carter that no one in the U.S. government told him not to go on a trip to the Middle East, where he met with the leadership of the militant group Hamas. "I just don't want there to be any confusion," Rice told reporters outside an international meeting on Iraq she is attending here. "The United States is not going to deal with Hamas, and we certainly told President Carter that meeting with Hamas was not going to help" the situation in the Middle East. Carter has said he met with Assistant Secretary of State C. David Welch, who indicated that the trip was not advisable but did not tell him not to go. Given the incompetence of the Bush Administration, it's a good thing someone even managed to meet with Carter and know where these "Hamas" people are.

ABC's ratings plummetted like a stone after last weeks pitiful debate performance by Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopolous. Here is the money-quote from Tom Shales in the Washington Post article linked: Cable news is indeed taking over from network news, and merely by being competent.

No doubt about it, we are deep in a recession I make that assertion because whatever Bush says, the opposite is always true, and he says we aren't.

Cheney can't keep his acronyms straight when he goes out fearmongering
Yesterday at the conservative Manhattan Institute, Dick Cheney gave a speech in which he railed at Congressional Democrats for letting FISA expire. BZZZZTTTTT!!!!! Wrong-oh, O Evil One. FISA is still on the books. What expired was the overreaching apostasy known by the Orwellian-sounding "Protect America Act" - not FISA. FISA is still in effect and we are still eavesdropping on terrorists, and they can still get their warrants after the fact.

Uribe's cousin arrested in Colombia for supporting paramilitary terrorists Mario Uribe Escobar, a cousin and close political ally of president Alvaro Uribe has been arrested in Colombia on charges of supporting right wing paramilitaries. He went to the Costa Rican embassy in Bogota, pleading for asylum, but was turned down.

WSJ Editor quits in protest of the Murchochification of the Journal
Marcus Brauchli resigned Tuesday. "I am proud to have been part of this exceptionally talented team," he said in a statement. "But now that the ownership transition has taken place, I have come to believe the new owners should have a managing editor of their choosing."

We're number 1! The United States imprisons more people for longer sentences for more petty crimes than any other country on earth. With a mere five percent of the worlds population, the U.S. incarcerates 25% of the worlds prisoners. So how long are we going to continue this charade before we acknowledge that our obsession with punishment and retribution aren't benefiting society in any way - quite the opposite, in fact - and get practical about criminal justice?

Tip of the Stetson to Pale Rider for helping out with tonights roundup.