Monday, August 18, 2008

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

Nine dead after suicide bombing in Afghanistan A suicide bomber struck near the entrance to the US military base in the eastern Afghanistan town of Khost, killing nine civilians and wounding 13 others. The dead and wounded were laborers who had been waiting to enter the Salerno camp for work. A second attack just moments later was prevented when he was identified by security forces who opened fire on him. He managed to escape into the crowd, but the bomb-laden vehicle was safely destroyed.

Industry dirty tricks to try to stop an Ohio payday loan law from taking effect The bloodsuckers who run the payday loan industry in Ohio are using shady tactics to collect signatures to try to stop a law from taking effect on September first that would cap the APR on payday loans at 28% and limit Ohioans to four such loans per year. An Ohio Public Radio program airing August 12 exposed signature collectors who were incorrectly representing the petition as one that would lower the interest rate cap further. Residents of a Butler County homeless shelter also alleged that they were offered money for their signatures.

Gordon Smith's factory continues to pollute For the second time in a year, the frozen foods factory owned by Oregon Senator Gordon Smith has been cited for water quality violations. Smith Frozen Foods, a multimillion dollar operation in Weston, processes peas, corn, carrots and lima beans for other processed food companies. The operation is water-intensive. According to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, an employee of Smith Frozen Foods contacted the state agency on July 29 (while the plant was processing corn) to report an overflow from the company's wastewater lagoon that "resulted in a milky discharge to Pine Creek." The same thing happened last year on July 30, but violations by the company have been fined multiple times by the DEQ, dating back to at least 1992. Smith is hanging onto his senate seat by his fingernails. Jeff Merkley, currently the speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives, is already driving him to desperation and bullshit claims. In 1996, Ron Wyden defeated him in his first senate run in a special election by pointing out the companies dismal environmental record. That sort of foolishness doesn't go over well in western Oregon where environmentalism is the official religion, and two violations in one year will certainly hurt him.

Dan Bartlett, former Bu$h adviser, joins CBS News Dan Bartlett, who has never had a job in his life that was not for george w. bu$h, is now a GOP spin doctor masquerading as a political analyst at CBS News. Just in time for the conventions, Bootlick Bartlett joins a major network to provide on-air analysis on "a variety of political issues, including at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions and beyond," according to the press release.

Just call him Radioactive Ralph Reed After it got out that Ralph Reed was behind a fundraiser in Atlanta, the criticism started. Reeds involvement generated so much criticism that poor Ralph was "uninvited" to the event and both are pointing and shouting "J'accuse!" - the McCain camp is saying it was Ralph's idea to raise money for McCain - Reed says he received a request for fundraising help from the campaign and that he was even given boilerplate language to use. Reed was conspicuously absent from the event held earlier today, netting McCain's campaign $1.75 Million - and lets face it, any event that rakes in a million dollars more than Cindy's monthly AmEx bill is a fairly lucrative two hours.

Well, maybe by comparison it wasn't so lucrative after all... Yesterday in San Francisco, an Obama fundraiser netted $7.8 million.

Harry and Louise have reformed That fictional "everycouple" that so effectively undermined President Clinton's single-payer healthcare proposal in 1994 are back, but this time they are urging healthcare reform be the nation’s top domestic priority. The National Federation of Independent Business has been a member of the coalitions behind both ad campaigns, then and now.

Never - NEVER tell me Newt Gingrich is a serious person, ever again! Appearing on (where else?) Faux Noise last night, the newt made one of his most ludicrous assertions yet - inflating your tires lines the pockets of big oil - because gas stations charge for air. Seriously. He said something that fucking stupid. From the link: This claim is absurd for a number of reasons. First, gas station owners, not Big Oil, receive the profits from selling air — if they sell air at all (presumably from mechanized air machines). Second, air is free. So of course the profit margin for selling air is going be higher than a gallon of gas. By contrast, the cost of oil accounts for a significant portion of the price of gasoline. So any profits from gasoline sales (which are actually quite small) also go to the gas station owners, after Big Oil has already been paid.

A court victory for gay rights The California Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that physicians can not claim religious objections and refuse treatment, even of "optional" or non-emergent procedures, to gay and lesbian patients based on the sexual orientation of the patient. In the lawsuit that led to the ruling, Guadalupe Benitez, 36, of Oceanside said that the doctors treated her with fertility drugs and instructed her how to inseminate herself at home but told her their beliefs prevented them from inseminating her...[snip]...She and her lawyers successfully argued that a state law prohibiting businesses from discriminating based on sexual orientation applies to doctors.

We know hurricanes have always existed, but we still get a chuckle out of stuff like this A group of Global Warming deniers have been forced to cancel a gathering due to Tropical Storm Fay. "Americans for Prosperity," which is really nothing more than a front group for mega-polluter Koch Industries, controlled by a couple of right-wing lunatics (the Koch brothers are a big part of "What's the Matter with Kansas") who push an agenda of global warming denial and "leave no acre, be it on land or under the sea, undrilled!" The group's website posted the following announcement today: August 19th Ft. Myers town hall and August 21st West Palm Beach town hall will be rescheduled as a result of Tropical Storm Fay. We apologize for any inconvenience.

De we really want the person who would have to deal with that three a.m. phone call to be zonked out on Ambien? The story was first reported in May, but got lost in the furor surrounding the end of the Democratic primary. Given the known side effects of the drug, it raises serious questions about the potential for impaired judgment. (Ambien was what precipitated the incident two years ago when Patrick Kennedy became disoriented and crashed his car into a traffic barricade, attempting to go cast a vote in Congress at two a.m.)

Byron York finds some of the "twelve percenters" at the Saddleback Forum: A few minutes before the McCain-Obama joint appearance began at Pastor Rick Warren's Saddleback Church on Saturday evening, I struck up a conversation with a couple from Lake Arrowhead, California, about 80 miles from here. When I asked who they supported for president, the woman told me, "McCain, if he'll choose a pro-life running mate." [SNIP] "Would you support Obama under any circumstances?" "Absolutely not," she answered. "I will not vote for a Muslim." She paused for a moment and repeated: "He's a Muslim." And you're an ignorant bitch--but no one was going to vote for you anyway.