Archive for September 17th, 2008

Bristol, Levi, Earmarks, Troopergate, And More

By- Suzie-Q @ 8:50 PM MST

This Week’s Palin Primer From Alaska: Bristol and Levi, Earmarks, Troopergate, More

Donald Craig Mitchell

Huffington Post- Off The Bus

Posted September 17, 2008 | 09:42 AM (EST)

“Bristol Stared Straight Ahead And Levi Had The Glazed Look Of A Trapped Feral Animal”

It has been forty-eight hours since I have had a call from any agent of any national news organization. So the fun that those of us on the outer ring of the commotion have been having since the announcement of the Palin ascendancy may be about over.

Assuming so, here in the subarctic there have been several new developments in which those of you who aren’t here in the subarctic may be interested.

Anchorage Pep Rally

As is my habit, last Saturday morning I biked over to Sagaya to have a cup of coffee and read the Anchorage Daily News. When I opened the paper, on the front page was an article which reported that at 9:30 am Sarah would be appearing at a pep rally at the Anchorage convention center.

When I walked into the convention center the Wasilla High School Warriors pep band was playing and five hundred or so Palinistas holding “Welcome Home” signs were chanting “Sarah, Sarah, Sarah.”

Because the convention center holds 5,000 people, the McCain advance team cleverly sandwiched the small crowd between twenty-foot-tall movie screens and then blackened the rest of the room. So on TV the crowd may have looked larger that it was. In TV view behind the podium the advance team also erected a bleacher on which a hundred or so people were sitting, most waving “McCain-Palin” signs.

Sarah arrived and spoke for half an hour (mixing Alaska material with a rote repeat of “best of” snippets from her acceptance speech at the Republican Convention). Then for another half hour she signed autographs while surrounded by seven or eight watchful-looking forty-year-old guys (and one girl) in black suits with phone wires running out of their collars and into their ears.

Because none of that was particularly surprising, I wouldn’t waste time reporting on it except for two reasons.

First, sitting on the bleacher clapping enthusiastically whenever Sarah delivered one of her applause lines was Randy Ruedrich, the chairman of the Alaska Republican Party whose misbehavior on the Alaska Oil and Gas Commission gave Sarah her start. Since until she became McCain’s running mate Randy had less than no use for Sarah Palin, watching him pretend in front of the television cameras that he is a Palinista was fabulously entertaining.

Second, sitting three-quarters of the way up the bleacher was Bristol Palin and her eighteen-year-old impregnator, Levi Johnston. Once I noticed them, I kept my eye on Bristol and Levi. What I learned provoked an odd empathy for the awful pickle Wasilla High School’s hockey stick wielding homeboy now finds himself in.

Bristol and Levi sat shoulder-to-shoulder. But not once did they look at each other, speak to each other, or in any way acknowledge each other’s physical presence. Not once. For an entire hour. Instead, Bristol stared straight ahead and Levi had the glazed look of a trapped feral animal.

Then when Sarah wound up her autograph signing and the people sitting in front of him on the bleacher began climbing down, Levi stood up and, without looking at or speaking to his betrothed, turned in the opposite direction and walked away.

What I took away from that is that the People Magazine spin about how excited the happy couple is about their upcoming nuptials and Levi’s “Bristol” finger tattoo is the Karl Rovian nonsense that anyone who thinks about it for a scintilla of a second intuitively knows that it is. If McCain-Palin lose, my easy bet is that there will be no nuptials. But if they win, the hand Levi dealt himself by having had the poor luck to knock up the daughter of the Vice President of the United States (at the time who could have known?) will have to be played out.

Pader Johnston has disconnected the Johnston family’s land line. So I can’t call him to ask what kind of deal he cut. But if Levi was my kid, the deal I would have cut would, at an absolute minimum, have been: $500,000 for from now to the November election. If McCain-Palin win, a $ 1 million signing bonus to take the trip down the aisle. Then, for the duration of the McCain-Palin administration, $100,000 a month for every month Mr. and Mrs. Johnston live under the same roof, and $50,000 a month for every month that they remain married but do not.

That’s chump change for the RNC. And if, in the best case for the nation, it turns out to be only a $500,000 payday for sixty days of work, that’s a life changing grubstake for an eighteen-year-old kid and more than enough to enable Levi to make his child support payments.


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WHY Would Palin Refuse To Fund Rape Kits? Here Is The Answer!

By- Suzie-Q @ 6:30 PM MST

WHY would Palin refuse to fund rape kits? Here’s your answer.

Wed Sep 17, 2008 at 02:54:30 PM PDT

If you’ve been following the story about Sarah Palin’s refusal to fund rape kits as mayor of Wasilla, especially given Alaska’s status as “rape central USA”, you’ve got to be asking yourself some questions.

For example: why on earth would she do this?  What possible set of priorities could someone have to justify this behavior?  Surely nobody actually would actively want to pursue a policy that would lead to rapists not getting caught just for that reason alone.  There has to be something else behind it.

There is. Mind you, the evidence here is circumstantial, but there’s really no other logical alternative, and the conclusion is damning.

Proceed below the fold.

I suppose that when most of us who are fortunate not to have been the victim of sexual assault hear the word “rape kit”, we tend to think of it specifically in terms of forensic analysis and examination–DNA collection, trauma, that whole sort of thing.

But rape kits also contain…emergency contraception.

To quote from an Alaska blogger who has provided a firsthand account of the aftermath of a sexual assault in Wasilla:

I sat with a rape victim during the “harvesting of evidence”. Mascara smeared eyes stared blankly out from a cave of shame. “We’ve got swimmers,” announced the forensic tech in the lab next door. My friend didn’t look surprised. In her 60’s, she was still asked if she felt the need for emergency contraception. Surviving the process would have only been compounded and made worse with an itemized bill; victimized twice courtesy of Sarah Palin and the city of Wasilla.

The rape kits that Sarah Palin had a direct role in forcing women to pay for contained emergency contraception.

Back in 2000, Governor Knowles of Alaska signed a bill that required cities in Alaska to pay for rape kits for victims–primarily owing to outrage over Wasilla’s practices.  As the article indicates, this bill was opposed by the Police Chief of Wasilla:

Wasilla Police Chief Charlie Fannon does not agree with the new legislation, saying the law will require the city and communities to come up with more funds to cover the costs of the forensic exams.

“In the past weve charged the cost of exams to the victims insurance company when possible. I just dont want to see any more burden put on the taxpayer,” Fannon said.

Now, if you’re really a law-and-order conservative and you’re willing to spend a couple of million on legal fees to get a sports complex for your town of 9,000, there’s no real reason not to have taxpayers foot the bill for the $14,000 maximum annual cost for rape kits, right?  Turns out there is.  From the same frontiersman article:

The new bill would also make law enforcement agencies that are investigating a sexual assault responsible for the costs of testing victims for sexually transmitted diseases and emergency contraception. (emphasis mine)

But it gets even better.  As our own DemocraticLuntz has reported, the McCain campaign’s answer to troopergate is that Palin fired Monegan not because of personal reasons relating to state trooper and former Palin brother-in-law Mike Wooten, but because Monegan lobbied Congress for an earmark that Palin didn’t request or approve of.  And what was that earmark?

The McCain campaign says it can prove Monegan was fired in July because of insubordination on budget issues

The “last straw,” the campaign said, was a trip Monegan planned to Washington in July to seek federal money for investigating and prosecuting sexual assault cases.

In a July 7 e-mail, John Katz, the governor’s special counsel, noted two problems with the trip: the governor hadn’t agreed the money should be sought, and the request “is out of sequence with our other appropriations requests and could put a strain on the evolving relationship between the Governor and Sen. Stevens.”

Now, as you can read in DL’s diary linked above, Sarah Palin claimed that she was opposed to forcing rape victims to pay for an evidence-gathering test.  DL says that Palin’s consistent opposition to getting public funding for rape kits puts the lie to that.


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John McCain’s Major Blunder Is Alive…

GEF @ 8:18 PM ET

Even the Republicans are throwing each other under the bus over that remark! John McCain has really had a belly whopper this time! 😉 LMAO*)


McCain’s Bubble World Lobbyist Productions

Bubble World

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Sarah Palin’s Yahoo Account Hijacked- E-mails Posted Online

By- Suzie-Q @ 4:30 PM MST

This screenshot from Gawked.com shows an email account of Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2008. Hackers broke into the Yahoo! e-mail account that Palin used for official business as Alaskas governor, revealing as evidence a few inconsequential personal messages she has received since John McCain selected her as his running mate. (AP Photo)

This screenshot from Gawked.com shows an email account of Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2008. Hackers broke into the Yahoo! e-mail account that Palin used for official business as Alaska's governor, revealing as evidence a few inconsequential personal messages she has received since John McCain selected her as his running mate. (AP Photo)

Sarah Palin’s Yahoo account hijacked, e-mails posted online

ZDNet- Posted by Ryan Naraine @ 10:40 am

September 17th, 2008

On the heels of media reports that Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was using a private Yahoo e-mail account (gov.palin@yahoo.com) to conduct Alaska state business, hackers have broken into the account and posted evidence of the hijack on Wikileaks.

An activist group calling itself ‘anonymous’ claimed responsibility for the compromise and released screenshots, photographs and the e-mail addresses of several people close to Palin, including her husband Todd and assistant Ivy Frye.

Here’s the announcement from Wikileaks:

Circa midnight Tuesday the 16th of September (EST)
Wikileaks’ sources loosely affiliated with the activist group
‘anonymous’ gained access to U.S. Republican Party Vice-presidential
candidate Sarah Palin’s Yahoo email account gov.palin@yahoo.com.
Governor Palin has come under criticism for using private email
accounts to avoid government transparency mechanisms. The zip archive
made available by Wikileaks contains screen shots of Palin’s inbox,
example emails, address book and two family photos. The list of
correspondence, together with the account name, appears to re-enforce
the criticism.

The list of e-mails include an exchange with Alaskan Lieutenant
Governor Sean Parnell about his campaign for Congress and an e-mail
from Amy McCorkell, whom Palin appointed to the Governor’s Advisory
Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse in 2007.

Wired’s Threat Level reports that McMcCorkell confirmed that she did send the e-mail to Palin.

Following the release of this story, both Sarah Palin’s better known account gov.sarah@yahoo.com and the gov.palin@yahoo.com account have been suspended or deleted as revealed by a test email sent to these addresses by Wikileaks. Although the reasons for the deletion of both accounts can not not yet be established, one interpretation is that Palin is trying to destroy her email records.

Wikileaks said it may release additional e-mails should they prove be of political substance.

Here’s one screenshot of an e-mail released by the group.

* Hat tip: Chris Wysopal, Veracode.  Image via CBS News.

Ryan Naraine is a journalist and social media enthusiast specializing
in Internet and computer security issues. He is currently security
evangelist at Kaspersky Lab, an anti-malware company with operations around the world.

See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

Send tips, ideas and feedback to naraine SHIFT 2 gmail.com

For daily updates on Ryan’s activities, follow him on Twitter.

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Here’s Why The Polls Are So Damn Close

Bob Cesca @1:39 PM (EST)

Today’s edition of Morning Joe on MSNBC was especially ridiculous. And Pat Buchanan wasn’t even there, which meant that everyone else had to overcompensate to make up for the conspicuous absence of awful.

Back story: Senator Obama released a two-minute commercial about the economic crisis — also known as “the worst financial crisis in a century,” according Alan Greenspan and Mort Zuckerman. It’s a smart, effective ad that serves two purposes: it outlines what Obama plans to do about the crisis, and it continues to hammer home Senator Obama as a tough yet presidential would-be chief executive and steward of the economy.

Yet despite the seriousness of this crisis, Joe Scarborough (along with Wee Willie Geist and Salon’s Joan Walsh, oddly enough) mocked the ad for its lack of soundbytes and its abundance of specifics.

Lack. Of soundbytes.

Now there’s an argument to be made in favor of short, pithy framing in politics, but this isn’t a short, pithy crisis. It’s a crisis that’s nailing ordinary Americans quite literally in their own back yards. It’s entirely symptomatic of 30 years of Republican deregulation and Reaganomics. 30 years of free market wingnut crapola culminating in something close to the Great Depression, with Senator McCain quoting Herbert Hoover dozens of times this year alone — and, what? A two minute commercial is too long, Joe? Are you so basted in savory McCain barbecue sauce, Joe, that your candidate’s cluelessness has, by some form of dry rub osmosis, infected your already shovel-shaped view of this global disaster?

Soundbytes and nonspecifics. Yessir. That’s just what (and I repeat) the worst financial crisis in a century deserves. Soundbytes and nonspecifics like, “The fundamentals of the economy are strong.” Heckuva job. Your candidate is a total doof when it comes to the economy, Joe. Admit it.

So then, with the addition of Newsweek‘s very serious Jon Meacham, the very serious conversation evolved into concern-trolling about the polls. Why, Scarborough wondered, is Senator Obama not way ahead of McCain in the polls? Why is the race so tight?

Hmm. I can’t imagine why that is. It’s not like Senator Obama’s patriotism and character is being assassinated for three hours every morning on cable news — six hours if we include the spasmodic howler monkeys on FOX & Friends. I can’t imagine why the polls are so close when Joe Scarborough is helping his Republican allies to once again turn this critical national debate into another blind recitation of Lee Greenwood lyrics.

Why are the polls so close? Not only do around 25 percent of Americans watch FOX News Channel on a regular basis, but, from coast to coast, there are more than a thousand far-right talk radio stations occupied by shows that make Morning Joe sound like an Olbermann Special Comment. And 17 percent of Americans are glued to it at work and in their cars. Talkers like Hugh Hewitt, Sean Hannity, John Gibson, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Medved, Bill Bennett and Glenn Beck broadcast on your public air around the clock. Non-stop. Unrelenting. Only interrupted by Accu-weather and traffic. Free to anyone with an AM radio.


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McCain Team Includes 83 Wall Street Lobbyists

By- Suzie-Q @ 2:30 PM MST

Exposed: McCain team includes 83 Wall Street lobbyists

Raw Story- John Byrne
Published: Wednesday September 17, 2008

As Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) rails against Wall Street while concurrently benefiting from its largesse, some journalists are getting tired.

David Corn — an investigative reporter formerly with The Nation and currently reporting for Mother Joneshas printed a list of 83 Wall Street lobbyists he says are working for or have bundled contributions for McCain. The Democratic National Committee has previously accused McCain of using 177 lobbyists either as campaign aides, advisers or fundraisers.

Corn notes that former Sen. Phil Gramm, the Arizona senator’s onetime campaign chairman and economic adviser, slipped into law a provision that kept credit default swaps unregulated, dramatically kindling to the current financial fires.

“Of those 177 lobbyists, according to a Mother Jones review of Senate and House records, at least 83 have in recent years lobbied for the financial industry McCain now attacks,” Corn writes. “These are high-paid influence-peddlers who have been working the corridors of the nation’s capital to win favors and special treatment for investment banks, securities firms, hedge funds, accounting outfits, and insurance companies. Their clients have included AIG, the newest symbol of corporate excess; Lehman Brothers, which filed for bankruptcy on Monday sending the stock market into a tailspin; Merrill Lynch, which was bought out by Bank of America this week; and Washington Mutual, the banking giant that could be the next to fall.

“Among these 83 lobbyists are McCain’s chief political adviser, Charlie Black (JP Morgan, Washington Mutual Bank, Freddie Mac, Mortgage Bankers Association of America); McCain’s national finance co-chairman, Wayne Berman (AIG, Blackstone, Credit Suisse, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac); the campaign’s congressional liaison, John Green (Carlyle Group, Citigroup, Icahn Associates, Fannie Mae); McCain’s veep vetter, Arthur Culvahouse (Fannie Mae); and McCain’s transition planning chief, William Timmons Sr. (Citigroup, Freddie Mac, Vanguard Group).”

Obama’s anti-lobbyist rhetoric, meanwhile, has irked other reporters, among them Newsweek‘s Michael Isikoff. Isikoff noted that Obama’s chief strategist, David Axelrod, worked for a firm that hoodwinked Illinois consumers by convincing them a California-style crises would befall them unless they increased electric rates.

Axelrod adamantly denied the charge. “I’ve never lobbied anybody in my life,” he said. “I’ve never talked to any public official on behalf of a corporate client.”

Obama also put James Johnson, the former CEO of Fannie Mae, on his vice presidential search committee team. Johnson resigned in June.

The full McCain list is printed below.


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By- Suzie-Q @ 1:30 PM MST

Finally: A Major Dem Goes There: McCain and the Keating 5 Scandal

Wed Sep 17, 2008 at 11:26:21 AM PDT

For some mysterious reason, Obama and other Dems have been reluctant to hit McCain for his role in the S & L scandal. That may be changing now because McCain’s experience pressuring regulators has never been more relevant.

Sherrod Brown, one of the Senate’s most populist and progressive members, has hit McCain for his role in the scandal. Granted, Brown isn’t in Obama’s inner circle–he remained neutral in the primary–and it was far from a blistering attack–it came in the context of a broader swipe–but it’s encouraging, and signals that Dems may be willing to revisit McCain’s role in the sordid scandal.

Here’s Brown:

It is not so much his economic proposals but his economic record. His main adviser is Phil Gramm — he was his mentor in the Senate — and you just tie it all together. Of course John McCain supported the oil industry, he has oil lobbyists working for him. Of course John McCain supported these trade agreements, he has got Wall Street people working for him… It is all wrapped up together. John McCain is a creature of these interest groups in Washington. He is no maverick and, from the Keating Five on, his ethics have been questionable. He’s not a maverick and Barack has got to just keep hammering on that.

As David Sirota says:

the issue of McCain’s formative regulatory experience coming as a member of the Keating Five pressing federal financial regulators to stop doing their job in advance of the S&L crisis. Though that crisis is the most analogous economic event to today’s Wall Street meltdown, it is an issue that, until Sen. Sherrod Brown’s statements today, no major elected Democrats have really touched.

Not only does McCain not have a record of supporting regulation: he has a record of unethically pressuring regulators. Why did he do it? To help a major donor.

McCain used the power of his office to get regulators to back off the troubled Lincoln Savings and Loan, which just happened to be run by a major campaign contributor: Charles Keating. As for the fiction, that McCain was somehow less guilty than the other members of the Keating 5:

Dennis DeConcini, a former Democratic senator from Arizona and another of the Keating Five who hosted the key meeting in his office, said in an interview that McCain has gotten a relatively “free ride” even though DeConcini insists that McCain was the “most culpable” of the senators because he had the closest relationship with Keating.

You should read that entire Globe article, which also tells us that:

McCain met Keating in 1982, during McCain’s successful run for Congress, and soon began accepting offers from Keating to fly McCain’s family on a corporate plane to Keating’s house in the Bahamas. McCain did not pay for most of the trips until years later, when the matter became public.

And quotes a federal regulator who attended the meeting where McCain sought to protect his contributor from oversight.

“This was an institution that is probably the worst institution in America,” Black said, referring to Lincoln. Instead of trying to help “bring it under control, five US Senators were pushing us in the opposite direction.”

Lincoln’s bankruptcy cost taxpayers 3 billion dollars.

It’s a darkly comic joke, McCain’s pretending he supports strong regulation.

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GEF @ 4:08 PM ET





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Huge Big Oil Sex Scandal Worse Than Old TV Show “DALLAS”!

GEF @ 3:18 PM ET

Remember JR Ewing from Dallas ? The Shrewd Oil Hustler and Womanizer ?
Well we ain’t seen nothing yet!


Big Oil Sex Scandal

WASHINGTON (AP) Government brokers responsible for collecting billions of dollars in federal oil royalties operated in a “culture of substance abuse and promiscuity” that included having sex with energy company employees, accepting lavish gifts and rigging contracts to favored firms, investigators said Wednesday.

The alleged transgressions involve 13 former and current Interior Department employees in Denver and Washington. Their alleged improprieties include influencing contracts, working part-time as private oil consultants and having sexual relationships with – and accepting golf and ski trips, snowboarding lessons and concert tickets from – oil company employees, according to three reports released Wednesday by the Interior Department’s inspector general.

The investigations expose a small group of individuals “wholly lacking in acceptance of or adherence to government ethical standards,” wrote Inspector General Earl E. Devaney, whose office spent more than two years and $5.3 million on the investigation.

“Sexual relationships with prohibited sources cannot, by definition, be arms-length,” Devaney said.

The reports describe a fraternity house atmosphere inside the Denver Minerals Management Service office responsible for marketing oil and natural gas that energy companies barter to the government in lieu of cash royalty payments for drilling on federal lands. The government received $4.3 billion in such royalty-in-kind payments last year. The oil and gas is then resold to energy companies or put in the nation’s emergency stockpile.

“During the course of our investigation, we learned that some RIK employees frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives,” the report said. Two government employees who had to spend the night after a daytime industry function because they were too intoxicated to drive home were commonly referred to by energy traders as the “MMS Chicks.”

Between 2002 and 2006, 19 oil marketers – nearly a third of the 55-person staff in the Denver office – received gifts and gratuities from oil and gas companies, including Chevron Corp., Shell, Hess Corp. and Denver-based Gary-Williams Energy Corp., the investigators found. The investigation focuses on nine employees – all but one of whom received ethics training – who attended meals, parties, paintball games and concerts whose value exceeded the $20-per-gift limit or $50-a-year thresholds on outside gifts. In the case of two marketers, gifts were accepted on at least 135 occasions. The report identifies eight of the employees by name and a ninth only by job description.

One worker admitted having a one-night-stand with a Shell employee. That same individual allegedly passed out business cards for her sex toy business, Passion Parties Inc., at work, and bragged that her income from that business exceeded her salary at the Interior Department. The employee was authorized to conduct such outside employment, and denied to investigators that she advertised for it during work hours, the report said. She admitted selling products to several of her subordinates.

Devaney said the investigations took so long because Chevron refused to cooperate. An Interior Department official said Chevron would not allow investigators to interview its employees.

Don Campbell, a Chevron spokesman, said Wednesday that the company “produced all of the documents that the government requested months ago.” A Shell spokeswoman said it would be premature for the company to comment on the report until it had time to review it.

Maripat Sexton, a spokeswoman for Hess Corp., said the company’s investigations “indicated no wrongdoing on our employee’s part.”

“We do not believe we are the focus of the investigation,” she said.

One of the reports claims that the former head of the Denver royalty-in-kind office, Gregory W. Smith, purchased cocaine from a co-worker, and one occasion had it delivered to the office. He also allegedly had oral sex with subordinates. The report also said Smith steered government contracts to Geomatrix Consultants Inc. and used government databases and e-mail accounts to conduct business for the company, which paid him $30,000 for his work from April 2002 through June 2003. Smith retired from the office in May 2007.

Smith’s attorney, Steve Peters, called the claims “sheer fantasy.”

“Greg Smith was a loyal, dedicated employee of the federal government for more than 28 years,” Peters said Wednesday. “His efforts in running the royalty-in-kind program resulted in one of the most profitable government programs in American history.”

MMS Director Randall Luthi, in an interview, said the agency was taking the report “extremely seriously” and would review the allegations and weigh taking appropriate action in coming months. Luthi said four of the employees were transferred to other departments last year. The inspector general is recommending that current employees implicated be fired and be barred for life from working within the royalty program.

House Natural Resources Chairman Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., said “this whole IG report reads like a script from a television miniseries and one that cannot air during family viewing time. It is no wonder that the office was doing such a lousy job of overseeing the RIK program; clearly the employees had ‘other’ priorities in that office.”

One of the employees named in the investigation, Jimmy Mayberry, already has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Washington to violations of conflict-of-interest laws. The Justice Department declined to prosecute Smith and former Associate Director of the Minerals Revenue Management program Lucy Querques Denett, who the report says manipulated contracts to ensure they were awarded to former Interior employees.

The findings are the latest sign of trouble at the Minerals Management Service, which already has been accused of mismanaging the collection of fees from oil companies and writing faulty contracts for drilling on government land and offshore. The charges also come as Congress and both presidential candidates are debating whether to open up more federal offshore waters to oil and natural gas drilling.

“This all shows the oil industry holds shocking sway over the administration and even key federal employees,” said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. “This is why we must not allow Big Oil’s agenda to be jammed through Congress.”

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., urged Democrats to reopen a House investigation of the Minerals Management Service that was initiated in 2006 by House Republicans. “Looking into and fixing these problems would have meant highlighting the enormous revenues that domestic oil and natural gas production contributes to our treasury. This just didn’t fit into their anti-drilling campaign,” he said.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, announced late Wednesday that he would hold a hearing on the investigations next week.

While most government royalties for drilling on federal lands are paid in cash, the government in recent years has been receiving a greater share of its oil and gas royalties in the actual product. More of that oil is also being sold on the open market, versus being deposited in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the nation’s emergency oil stockpile. Congress earlier this year passed a law halting deposits of oil to the reserve to help alleviate high gasoline prices.

The investigation was prompted by a 2006 phone call from an employee in the Denver office who reported ethical lapses.

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General Ray Ordierno replaces General Betrayus in Iraq

by Geezer Power…12:14 pm

Here is Major General Ray Ordierno, commander of the U.S. Army 4th Infantry Division at the beginning of the war in Iraq. He is of course a four star general now, much like General Petraeus who recieved his fourth star from Bu$h upon becoming the commander of the forces in Iraq.

General Raymond Odierno assumes US military command in Iraq

Guardian UK

Tuesday September 16 2008 12:43 BST

The commander of US forces in Iraq, General David Petraeus, today handed over control of American military operations in the country to his successor, General Raymond Odierno.

In an elaborate ceremony in the marble-lined rotunda of one of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces outside Baghdad, the US defence secretary, Robert Gates, praised the two men for stabilising the country in the past year.

“Darkness had descended on this land,” Gates said. “Merchants of chaos were gaining strength. Death was commonplace… Slowly, but inexorably, the tide began to turn. Our enemies took a fearsome beating they will not soon forget.”

In his remarks, Petraeus thanked his troops and hailed Odierno as “the perfect man for the job”.

As Odierno takes charge, Petraeus becomes the new chief of Central Command, with responsibility for US troops from the Horn of Africa to central Asia, including the conflicts in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Iraq was spiralling into all-out civil war when Petraeus took over in February 2007, almost four years after Saddam was toppled by a US-led invasion.

Since late last year, violence has fallen to a four-year low. Much of the credit has gone to the counter-insurgency strategies of 55-year-old Petraeus.

Yesterday, Gates credited Petraeus’s “brilliant strategy” and its implementation by US troops and field commanders for the success of the surge.

“I think he’s played a historic role. There is just no two ways about it,” he said.

Petraeus oversaw the surge, but it was his former deputy Odierno who first proposed it in December 2006 to a resistant Pentagon, setting the stage for what would become a pivotal turn in the unpopular war.

Odierno, criticised for riding roughshod over civilians during his first tour to Iraq in 2003-2004, implemented the surge as the corps commander from December 2006 to March 2008, which Gates said made him the right person to replace Petraeus.


RealNews Video

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