Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap - a roundup of news you might have missed

BG Hartmann removed from second Guantanamo trial A judge overseeing the second military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay has barred BG Thomas Hartmann from participating in the second trial underway at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. Col. Steve Hanley ruled that Hartmann compromised his objectivity in public statements aligning himself with prosecutors and defending the Pentagon’s system for prosecuting alleged terrorists. Defense attorneys will seize on the ruling to mount challenges in other trials at the U.S. Navy base. Both defense attorneys and prosecutors have accused Hartmann, the legal adviser to the tribunals, of playing politics with the trials by demanding that certain cases be pursued over others based on political considerations.

6:1 That is the ratio that active duty military personnel deployed overseas are donating to Obama over McCain. Anti-war republican Ron Paul, who suspended his campaign several months ago has taken in four times as much money from military members as has McCain. Maybe someone should ask them what they think about warmongering and permanent occupation?

More sub-prime fallout Rental housing is a big business around military installations, because there is never enough base housing to go around, and families with kids rent in neighborhoods rather than apartments. During the housing bubble, a lot of people who had no idea what they were getting into bought rental housing with alternative financial instruments like adjustable rate mortgages. Now military families are finding out that their landlords are being foreclosed on and they are scrambling to find new quarters. Fortunately, the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, which became law July 30. Under the law, a service member who relocates from leased or rental housing because of foreclosure is entitled to have their household goods moved by their branch of service.

You knew that Phil Gramm didn't really go anywhere! He will be there this weekend in that enclave of the elite and effete, Aspen, when McCain and the leaders of a couple of 527's get together to illegally coordinate strategy for the rest of the campaign.

The actual cost of the Olympics will be paid by consumers for months to come. In an effort to curb air pollution for the Beijing Olympics currently underway, the central government ordered trucks stay out of the city and local factories to by temporarily shuttered. It will be felt in a decrease in the availability of consumer goods that flow from China. The actual extent of the global economic impact will not be known for at least another month. Hmmm...what holiday do businesses start buying for in September?

The global economy catches up with Europe The economy of the 15-nation Euro area contracted by 0.2% in the second quarter. It was the first quarter of negative growth since the Euro standardized currency was introduced on 01 Jan 1999. It is the clearest evidence yet that a weaker global economy, high oil prices and the strong euro have taken a serious toll on Europe. But the European Central Bank, which has bucked the trend of other major central banks by raising interest rates in July, appears determined to stick to its mandate to tame inflation, arguing that higher inflation is still a greater threat than lower growth.

A new opposition movement in Burma and the junta acts swiftly to oppress it. Under cover of darkness, university students known as the "Red Campaign" operate in small groups of no more than five people. They strike quickly, spraypainting red crosses on prominent view on traffic signs and buildings. They risk everything to express their disgust for the omnipotent state. The 20th anniversary of the 8/8/88 uprising fueled the current acts of rebellion. When a wall at a university was found covered with inflammatory flyers a few days ago, it was the military, not a cleaning crew, that was promptly brought in.

This is not good for people who are struggling: U.S. consumer prices shot up in July at twice the expected rate, pushed higher by surging energy and food costs. The latest surge left inflation running at the fastest pace in 17 years. The Labor Department reported Thursday that consumer prices rose by 0.8 percent last month, twice the 0.4 percent gain that economists had been expecting. It marked the third straight month of oversized inflation increases following jumps of 0.6 percent in May and 1.1 percent in June. And it leaves inflation rising by 5.6 percent over the past year, the biggest 12-month gain since January 1991. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, rose 0.3 percent in July, slightly higher than the 0.2 percent increase that economists had expected. For the past 12 months, core inflation has risen by 2.5 percent, the highest 12-month change since February. So, does everyone get a 5 or 6 percent raise to keep up? Don't bet on it. Wages are stagnant, and that means more people are hurting.

I realize I'm an idiot, but why the fuck are we spending money to put a robot on the moon? NASA has delayed the launch of an unmanned spacecraft to the moon to scout for potential landing sites for astronauts. The moon craft is the first step in NASA's program to send astronauts back to the moon and beyond. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter was supposed to blast off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., in early December aboard an Atlas V rocket. But the launch was pushed back after NASA agreed to swap with the Air Force, which will fly a prototype space drone. NASA spokesman Grey Hautaluoma said the new launch window, which opens Feb. 27, 2009, relieves schedule pressure and provides more launch opportunities. Did we lose our extensive knowledge of the moon between now and the early 1970s?

Give it up, Ralph: Supporters of independent White House hopeful Ralph Nader plan to demonstrate at the Republican and Democratic conventions to push for him to be included in the presidential debates. "This rally will be part of a massive outpouring of protest in Denver and Minneapolis against the two corporate controlled parties and their policies of perpetual militarism and war," the campaign said in a press release on its website. As many as 7,000 people are expected to attend the Denver rally set to be held on August 27, the campaign said. It will coincide with the penultimate day of the Democratic Party convention to nominate Barack Obama as its presidential candidate. Here's everything you need to know about what Nader is doing--according to, his campaign has spent $460,316 on salaries, and exactly $5,243 on campaign events and $3,124 on getting out the vote.

Mentally ill or a wingnut? Maryland State Police have charged a Gaithersburg man with making threats against Governor Martin O'Malley and other elected officials. Police say 64-year-old James Frost was arrested late Wednesday after police received information from the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office that indicated Frost planned to harm several officials, including Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Hillary Clinton. Police did not elaborate on the threat. Police say Frost's home is being secured by state police officers pending the execution of a search warrant by state police investigators and the U.S. Secret Service.

Jackson Browne sues over unauthorized use of song in GOP ad The Ohio GOP used a part of "Running on Empty" in an ad that ran in the state and Browne is suing. He is a liberal activist and is suing because he says use of the song implies he is supporting McCain. "We are confident that Jackson Browne will prevail in this lawsuit. Not only have Senator McCain and his agents plainly infringed Mr. Browne's copyright in Running On Empty, but the Federal Courts have long held that the unauthorized use of a famous singer's voice in a commercial constitutes a false endorsement and a violation of the singer's right of publicity," Lawrence Iser of the Santa Monica, California law firm Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert said in a press release. "In light of Jackson Browne's lifelong commitment to Democratic ideals and political candidates, the misappropriation of Jackson Browne's endorsement is entirely reprehensible, and I have no doubt that a jury will agree."