Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap

Florida GOP lawmakers blamed for early voting lines Three years ago, the republican controlled state lege got their knickers in a twist over early voting - saying it cost too much and besides that, the rules weren't uniform. So they addressed it with legislation that scaled back the hours of operation and limited the locations of early voting facilities. During the first presidential election since Gov. Jeb Bush signed the bill in 2005, the new law's impact can be seen throughout South Florida: exhausting lines at polling sites in Miami-Dade and Broward that led voters to miss work, senior citizens to beg for chairs and voting advocates to question whether some are being disenfranchised.

For Pure Side-Splitting Entertainment, Nothing Beats Kentucky Politics. Nothing. Bugs, Republicans, a Karl Rove protege caught lying, and a drunk fat clown running around screaming for Bruce Lunsford to be arrested. Yea, so the debate this morning between Mitch McConnell and Bruce Lunsford was supposed to be the big news maker, but the bizarre sideshow afterwards overshadowed it, to say the least.

You just know that Bu$h relishes sticking it to McCain McCain beat him in New Hampshire, remember, and he is one petty sumbitch, so you know that there is an element of twisting the knife in McCain's back to aWol letting it out today that he will be announcing after the election the first diplomatic ties with Iran since the hostages were taken at the embassy 29 years ago next month.

White House protests, EPA caves Last week the EPA issued strict guidelines for airborne lead, decreasing the acceptable amount of lead in emissions for the first time in 30 years. But the White House protested on behalf of their polluting business buddies, and the lapdog EPA rolled over and weakened the new guidelines so that fewer polluters would have their emissions monitored.

I knew they should have sequestered the Stevens jury The day started with U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan declining to dismiss juror No. 9, who was accused of "violent outbursts" and other misconduct by the rest of the panel, and ended with juror No. 4 going missing after telling a U.S. Marshal that she had to leave the state for a family emergency after the jury was dismissed Thursday. The Marshal sent word to the judge, but by the time the judge summoned the juror she was no where to be found. The judge will convene a hearing tomorrow to decide how to proceed.

Threatening letters with inert powders sent to over fifty financial institutions The letters contained a harmless white powder and read "Steal tens of thousands of people's money and not expect repercussions. It's payback time. What you just breathed in will kill you within 10 days. Thank [word redacted] and the FDIC for your demise." Even thought the powder was harmless, sending the letters is still a serious crime. The letters were all sent from Amarillo, Texas, to branches of Chase Bank; the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which insures bank deposits; and the U.S. Office of Thrift Supervision, a regulatory agency. Not all the letters contained exactly the same wording, the FBI said.

Term limits for thee but not for me: The New York City Council has approved changes in the term-limits law that will allow Mayor Michael Bloomberg to seek re-election next year. The council passed the bill Thursday by a vote of 29-22. The bill gives city officeholders the option of three consecutive four-year terms. Bloomberg announced his plans to change the term-limits law and seek re-election three weeks ago. His second term ends in 2009. He had opposed changing the law earlier in his administration, but now says he needs a third term to deal with the city's financial crisis.

Clinton admits failure on world food programs: Today's global food crisis shows "we all blew it, including me when I was president," by treating food crops as commodities instead of as a vital right of the world's poor, Bill Clinton told a U.N. gathering on Thursday. The former president, addressing a high-level event marking Oct. 16's World Food Day, also saluted U.S. President George W. Bush - "one thing he got right" - for pushing for a change in U.S. food-aid policy. He chided the bipartisan coalition in the U.S. Congress that killed the idea. Clinton took aim at decades of international policymaking by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and others, encouraged by the U.S., that pressured Africans in particular into dropping government subsidies for fertilizer, improved seed and other farm inputs, in economic "structural adjustments" required to win northern aid.

Democrats outnumber republicans in early voting In a reversal of previous elections, more Democrats than Republicans are casting their ballot in early voting. In the past, more Republicans have tended to vote early. The number of people showing up to vote in early balloting than is the norm for this point in the election cycle.

Even with insurance, medical bills wreck lives Even in Massachusetts, with the closest thing we have to universal coverage in this country, ten percent or more go without needed prescriptions, delay treatment because they can't afford copays or owe for treatment already received.

Bloomberg can seek third term The City Council today repealed the two term limit, allowing the popular billionaire Mayor to seek a third term. New Yorkers have approved term limits twice and are likely to be a little bit pissed off that the council overturned a law they had voted into effect.

The US brings sanctions against Iranian bank: The Bush administration on Wednesday imposed financial sanctions on an Iranian state-owned financial institution for allegedly providing financial services in support of the country's weapons program. The Treasury Department's action means that any bank accounts or other financial assets belonging to the Export Development Bank of Iran that are found in the United States are frozen. Americans also are prohibited from doing business with the bank. The government contends the bank provided financial services to Iran's Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, which controls Iran's ballistic missile research, development and production activities. The United States also alleges that Iran was using the bank to evade international sanctions.

Nuclear material removed from Hungary: More than 340 pounds of weapons-grade uranium was transported secretly over thousands of miles by truck, rail and ship on a monthlong trip from a research reactor in Budapest, Hungary, to a facility in Russia so it could be more closely protected against possible theft, U.S. officials revealed Wednesday. The shipment, conducted under tight secrecy and security, included a three-week trip by cargo ship through the Mediterranean Sea, up the English Channel and the North Sea to Russia's Arctic seaport of Murmansk, the only port cleared by Russia for handling nuclear materiel.

Now that's some back pay: It took six decades, but a wrongly convicted World War II veteran's family is finally getting his back pay with interest. Samuel Snow's widow, Margaret, and son, Ray, received a check for $27,580 on Thursday, 64 years after Snow was wrongly convicted of participating in a riot that led to his imprisonment for more than a year. Snow died at age 83 in July, hours after the Army apologized and reversed his dishonorable discharge. Ray Snow compared his father to the Biblical hero Job - an upright man who was punished for no good reason. "A good, upright man who was struck down ... yet he held on," Ray Snow, 56, a school teacher, said after his family received the check. "He held onto to the belief that this could be done."

Jobless rate expected to rise The White House issued a dire warning about jobless rates today, attempting to brace a nervous American public for stormy economic seas. In other words - it's getting a lot fucking worse before it gets better.

Scotty McClellan endorses Obama Former press secretary Scott McClellan endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for President during an appearance on CNN's new show, "D.L. Hughley Breaks the News."

Disgraceful The United States ranks 36th in press freedom, according to the annual index compiled by Reporter Without Borders. Iceland ranked number one in press freedom, with Ghana, Slovenia, Trinidad and Tobago, Surinam, and Jamaica also ranking higher than the U.S.