Archive for November 18th, 2008

Alaska Senator Ted Stevens Lost Re-Election

Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, is pursued by members of the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008, after attending a Republican Caucus . (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, is pursued by members of the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008, after attending a Republican Caucus . (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens loses re-election bid

MICHAEL R. BLOOD | November 18, 2008 09:49 PM EST | AP

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Sen. Ted Stevens, the longest serving Republican in Senate history, narrowly lost his re-election bid Tuesday, marking the downfall of a Washington political power and Alaska icon who couldn’t survive a conviction on federal corruption charges. His defeat by Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich moves Senate Democrats within two seats of a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority.

Stevens’ ouster on his 85th birthday marks an abrupt realignment in Alaska politics and will alter the power structure in the Senate, where he has served since the days of the Johnson administration while holding seats on some of the most influential committees in Congress.

The crotchety octogenarian built like a birch sapling likes to encourage comparisons with the Incredible Hulk, but he occupies an outsized place in Alaska history. His involvement in politics dates to the days before Alaska statehood, and he is esteemed for his ability to secure billions of dollars in federal aid for transportation and military projects. The Anchorage airport bears his name; in Alaska, it’s simply “Uncle Ted.”

Tuesday’s tally of just over 24,000 absentee and other ballots gave Begich 146,286, or 47.56 percent, to 143,912, or 46.76 percent, for Stevens.

A recount is possible.

Begich said the defining issue in the race was the desire for a new direction in Washington, not Stevens’ legal problems.

Alaska voters “wanted to see change,” he told reporters in Anchorage. “Alaska has been in the midst of a generational shift _ you could see it.”

Stevens’ campaign didn’t immediately respond to phone calls seeking comment.


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Cheney And Gonzales Indicted By South Texas Grand Jury

Cheney, Gonzales Indicted By South Texas Grand Jury

AP |   November 18, 2008 04:03 PM

A South Texas grand jury has indicted Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on charges related to the alleged abuse of prisoners in Willacy County’s federal detention centers.

The indictment criticizes Cheney’s investment in the Vanguard Group, which holds interests in the private prison companies running the federal detention centers. It accuses Cheney of a conflict of interest and “at least misdemeanor assaults” on detainees by working through the prison companies.

Gonzales is accused of using his position while in office to stop an investigation into abuses at the federal detention centers.

Another indictment charges state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. with profiting from his public office by accepting honoraria from prison management companies.

The indictments were first reported by KRGV-TV.

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New Senate Report On US Attorney Firings Finds Rove Helped Compile List

The Justice Department already found, in its report on the U.S. Attorney firings, that the White House engineered the firings, and that inappropriate political concerns had played in to several of the dismissals.

Still, the Senate Judiciary Committee released a report on the episode today that goes a little further. Its “Majority” (that is, Democratic) section concludes:

The evidence…shows that the list for firings was compiled with participation from the highest political ranks in the White House, including former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove.The evidence shows that senior officials were focused on the political impact of Federal prosecutions and whether Federal prosecutors were doing enough to bring partisan voter fraud and corruption cases. It is now apparent that the reasons given for these firings, including those reasons provided in sworn testimony by the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, were contrived as part of a cover-up.


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Evening Jukebox… Everyone’s A Winner

Hot Chocolate – Everyone’s A Winner

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Pirates Seize Fully-Loaded Oil Tanker

Pirates And Oil: Will Hijackings Raise The Price Of Crude?

Huffington Post |  Dave Burdick   |   November 18, 2008 04:05 PM

This year has seen oil prices fly upward to record highs, but lately the trend has been much lower prices. But something could be changing that: there seem to have been increasing reports of modern-day piracy lately, including earlier this week when pirates hijacked a fully-loaded oil tanker:

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — In a dramatic escalation of high seas crime, Somali pirates hijacked a Saudi supertanker loaded with crude hundreds of miles off the coast of East Africa — defeating the security web of warships trying to protect vital shipping lanes.

The takeover demonstrates the bandits’ heightened ambitions and capabilities: Never before have they seized such a giant ship so far out to sea. Maritime experts warned the broad daylight attack, reported by the U.S. Navy on Monday, was an alarming sign of the difficulty of patrolling a vast stretch of ocean key to oil and other cargo traffic.


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Sudhan @16:45 CET

Former senior law lord condemns ’serious violation of international law’

A British soldier patrols the northern suburbs of the southern Iraqi city of Basra

A British soldier patrols the northern suburbs of the southern Iraqi city of Basra. Photograph: Dave Clark/AFP/Getty images

One of Britain’s most authoritative judicial figures last night delivered a blistering attack on the invasion of Iraq, describing it as a serious violation of international law, and accusing Britain and the US of acting like a “world vigilante”.

Lord Bingham, in his first major speech since retiring as the senior law lord, rejected the then attorney general’s defence of the 2003 invasion as fundamentally flawed.

Contradicting head-on Lord Goldsmith’s advice that the invasion was lawful, Bingham stated: “It was not plain that Iraq had failed to comply in a manner justifying resort to force and there were no strong factual grounds or hard evidence to show that it had.” Adding his weight to the body of international legal opinion opposed to the invasion, Bingham said that to argue, as the British government had done, that Britain and the US could unilaterally decide that Iraq had broken UN resolutions “passes belief”.

Governments were bound by international law as much as by their domestic laws, he said. “The current ministerial code,” he added “binding on British ministers, requires them as an overarching duty to ‘comply with the law, including international law and treaty obligations’.”

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats continue to press for an independent inquiry into the circumstances around the invasion. The government says an inquiry would be harmful while British troops are in Iraq. Ministers say most of the remaining 4,000 will leave by mid-2009.

Addressing the British Institute of International and Comparative Law last night, Bingham said: “If I am right that the invasion of Iraq by the US, the UK, and some other states was unauthorised by the security council there was, of course, a serious violation of international law and the rule of law.

“For the effect of acting unilaterally was to undermine the foundation on which the post-1945 consensus had been constructed: the prohibition of force (save in self-defence, or perhaps, to avert an impending humanitarian catastrophe) unless formally authorised by the nations of the world empowered to make collective decisions in the security council …”

The moment a state treated the rules of international law as binding on others but not on itself, the compact on which the law rested was broken, Bingham argued. Quoting a comment made by a leading academic lawyer, he added: “It is, as has been said, ‘the difference between the role of world policeman and world vigilante’.”

Bingham said he had very recently provided an advance copy of his speech to Goldsmith and to Jack Straw, foreign secretary at the time of the invasion of Iraq. He told his audience he should make it plain they challenged his conclusions.

Both men emphasised that point last night by intervening to defend their views as consistent with those held at the time of the invasion. Goldsmith said in a statement: “I stand by my advice of March 2003 that it was legal for Britain to take military action in Iraq. I would not have given that advice if it were not genuinely my view. Lord Bingham is entitled to his own legal perspective five years after the event.” Goldsmith defended what is known as the “revival argument” – namely that Saddam Hussein had failed to comply with previous UN resolutions which could now take effect. Goldsmith added that Tony Blair had told him it was his “unequivocal view” that Iraq was in breach of its UN obligations to give up weapons of mass destruction.

Straw said last night that he shared Goldsmith’s view. He continued: “However controversial the view that military action was justified in international law it was our attorney general’s view that it was lawful and that view was widely shared across the world.”

Bingham also criticised the post-invasion record of Britain as “an occupying power in Iraq”. It is “sullied by a number of incidents, most notably the shameful beating to death of Mr Baha Mousa [a hotel receptionist] in Basra [in 2003]“, he said.

Such breaches of the law, however, were not the result of deliberate government policy and the rights of victims had been recognised, Bingham observed.

He contrasted that with the “unilateral decisions of the US government” on issues such as the detention conditions in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

After referring to mistreatment of Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib, Bingham added: “Particularly disturbing to proponents of the rule of law is the cynical lack of concern for international legality among some top officials in the Bush administration.”

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peace- huh! what is it good for?

absolutely everything.  i haven’t been writing much lately because i have been doing much thinking.  processing- i suppose.  the more things change- the more they stay the same.  human nature.  i have also been reading about chinese buddhism- a book by master hsing yun ‘only a great rain‘- and i am convinced that the ancients were really on to something there.  this planet and this life is filled with chaos and hatred and negativity- and really, it’s only going to get worse as more and more folks suffer.  we have 6 billion people on a planet that can’t sustain that many and we are using up our resources like crazy.  we don’t have much time as a species.

but we can certainly make this life the best one we can- and i respect the buddhists premise that in seeking dharma towards our enlightenment- we must strive to help all other sentient beings get there too.  what a nice idea.  the truth is we need each other.  the buddhist believe everything is interconnected- and science has pretty much proven that idea over and over- and that one cannot exist without another.  john donne said as much when he said ‘no man is an island’- and as times become tougher and resources become scarcer- we will need each other as never before.

there is a gap in our skill sets over the last 100 years.  we have millions of people in this country who believe that feeding yourself involves driving to the grocery store and buying food to take home and cook.  they believe that getting a drink involves turning on your tap or buying water in plastic bottles.  our way of life isn’t sustainable and the few folks out there who know how to build a cook fire or catch rain for irrigation or which vegetable grows well in which season- well, their numbers are dwindling.  family farms are dwindling.  it’s getting to be very depressing to live right now- here  on this planet where everything seems to be going wrong at the same time.

but it doesn’t have to be.  a big part of what i learned working in human services- teamwork.  yep.  one person doesn’t- and shouldn’t- carry the weight for everyone all of the time.  while one person rests, another takes up the burden and we all work together.  president obama cannot do this alone and he is putting together a great team at the top to help guide america through these tough times.  but they can’t carry the insurmountable weight themselves.  we must look at each other with new eyes.  we must see that we are all americans and all fellow inhabitants of planet earth and we must work together to carry the burden.  look at what people accomplished by sharing the load- the great pyramids; grains to feed the whole world; the internet- but we must reach down deep inside for our inner strength.  we must remain positive and strong- we cannot afford to allow fear and insecurity take hold again as we did collectively after 9/11.

we are made of stronger stuff.  we are made of tougher stuff- and quite frankly, there are billions of people on this planet who lived through worse times than we.  when you feel sorry for yourself, or get depressed- remember that there is always someone somewhere worse off than you.  it helps reset the perspective button.

from my google reader:

please keep stoking the embers of positivity

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