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Archive for December 27th, 2008

Fitzgerald Asks Blago Impeachment Panel Not To Subpoena Obama Aides

Associated Press |  Caryn Rousseau   |   December 27, 2008 02:58 PM

CHICAGO — The Illinois House committee investigating a possible impeachment of Gov. Rod Blagojevich won’t subpoena two incoming White House advisers, a spokesman said Saturday, shutting down a request from the embattled governor’s attorney.

In a letter received by the committee Friday, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said any such subpoenas “would interfere with the ongoing criminal investigation into the activities of Governor Rod Blagojevich and others.”

Fitzgerald asked the special investigative committee specifically to not subpoena President-elect Barack Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, Obama incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and Nils Larsen, a Tribune Co. executive vice president.

“The committee unanimously decided from the beginning that they wouldn’t do anything to impede the investigation,” committee spokesman Steve Brown said Saturday. “We’ll follow that practice.”

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Karl Rove Destroyed My Life

By Paul Alexander, The Daily Beast. Posted December 27, 2008.

How a former governor — and a rising star in the Democratic Party — ended up mopping floors in prison and how he’s fighting to get out.

Last week, Al Gore sent an email message urging supporters to give money to Don Siegelman’s legal defense fund. Gore is the latest in a string of high profile supporters to suggest Siegelman, the former Governor of Alabama, was the victim of a Republican plot when he was found guilty of bribery, conspiracy and fraud in 2006, and sentenced to seven years in prison.

Now, in the waning days of the Bush administration, Siegelman is trying to win back his freedom — not to mention his good name — in a courtroom in Atlanta. Earlier this year, an appeals court granted his release after he had served nine months, saying the Governor’s appeal had raised “substantial questions” about the case against him. Siegelman’s cause was helped by a bipartisan group of 54 former state attorneys general from across the country who filed a federal appeals brief supporting his bid to overturn the conviction. Republican insiders have also come forward to say Siegelman was unfairly targeted by Rove and his circle.

Making it in prison depends on one’s level of tolerance. I’m used to mopping in my wife’s kitchen. It was just a bigger floor.

Siegelman’s appeal was heard earlier this month and the verdict will determine whether he returns to prison to finish out his sentence, or goes free.

How did a former governor — and a rising star in the Democratic Party — end up in a situation like this?

On June 29, 2006, Siegelman and Richard Scrushy, the CEO of HealthSouth, a chain of medical rehabilitation services with facilities both in the United States and abroad, were found guilty by a jury in Montgomery, Alabama, of federal bribery charges. A year later, Judge Mark Fuller, who had clear conflicts of interest in the case — a company in which he holds a major stake received a $175 million government contract at one point during the legal proceedings — sentenced Scrushy to almost seven years in prison. Siegelman got 88 months.

There was one central transaction that sent these men to prison for all this time. Not long after Siegelman had been elected governor in 1998, he convinced Scrushy to contribute $500,000 to a political action committee, which was supporting the establishment of a lottery in Alabama to pay for higher education. At the same time, he talked Scrushy into serving on a state hospital regulatory board on which he had already served three times — appointed by both Democrats and Republicans — and from which he had recently resigned. To US attorney Leura Canary, the wife of William “Bill” Canary, the close friend and former business associate of Karl Rove, the act constituted bribery, for which she charged the two men. Among the many other charges, dismissed by the jury, this was the one that stuck.

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Bruce Jeffrey Pardo: ‘Santa’ Shooter Planned To Flee To Canada

CHRISTINA HOAG | December 26, 2008 10:32 PM EST | AP

COVINA, Calif. — A man who carried out a Christmas Eve massacre and arson dressed as Santa at the home of his former in-laws apparently intended to flee the U.S., but his plans were dashed after the inferno he created severely burned his arms and melted his red costume onto his body, police said Friday.

Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, a laid-off aerospace worker, apparently shot some of his nine victims execution-style in a plot to destroy his ex-wife’s family after a costly divorce that was finalized last week. He had an airline ticket for a Christmas morning flight to Canada and $17,000 in cash on his body, some attached to his legs with plastic wrap and some in a girdle, Covina police Chief Kim Raney said. He did not know the Canadian destination.

Armed with four guns, wearing the Santa suit and carrying a fuel-spraying device wrapped like a present, Pardo showed up at the home at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday as a party of about 25 people was under way.

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Barak: Gaza operation will expand as needed

December 27, 2008 10:06 AM EST | AP

JERUSALEM — Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak says Israel’s air offensive against militant sites in Gaza “will widen as necessary.”

Barak says Israel does not intend to allow Islamic Hamas militants who rule Gaza to continue firing rockets and mortars on Israel’s southern communities.

Hamas says at least 192 Gazans were killed in the first day of the offensive and 270 were wounded.

Barak says there is a time for calm and a time for fighting. Speaking at a news conference Saturday, he said “now is the time for fighting” and that “the operation will expand as necessary.”

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) _ Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of airstrikes Saturday, killing at least 155 and wounding more than 310 in the single bloodiest day of fighting in recent memory.

The vast majority of those killed were security men, but civilians were also among the dead. Hamas said all of its security installations were hit and responded with several medium-range Grad rockets at Israel, reaching deeper than in the past. One Israeli was killed and at least four people were wounded in the rocket attacks. With so many wounded, the Palestinian death toll was likely to rise.

“The operation will last as long as necessary,” declared Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, though it was not clear if it would be coupled with a ground offensive. Asked if Hamas political leaders might be targeted next, military spokeswoman Maj. Avital Leibovich said, “Any Hamas target is a target.”

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Bristol Palin’s Future Mother-In-Law’s Drug Arrest: Trooper Says Election Delayed Case

Associated Press |   December 26, 2008 01:11 PM

WASILLA, Alaska — The mother of Bristol Palin’s boyfriend sent text messages discussing drug transactions less than a month after the young woman’s mother, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, was nominated as the Republican vice presidential candidate, according to court documents filed this week.

An affidavit from an Alaska state trooper, filed Monday, states that Sherry L. Johnston referred in her messages to two police informants to “coffee” as a code for the drug OxyContin.

Johnston, 42, was arrested on felony drug charges last week after state troopers served a search warrant at her Wasilla home. She allegedly sold OxyContin tablets to the informants on three occasions this fall, the affidavit states. Police said two of the meetings were recorded by a hidden camera and a microphone.

Johnston is the mother of Levi Johnston, 18. Sarah Palin announced in September that her daughter Bristol, also 18, was pregnant and that Johnston was the father. Their child was due to be born Dec. 18, her grandfather Chuck Heath told the Anchorage Daily News recently.

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