Thursday, June 30, 2005
Mood of Anxiety Engulfs Afghans as Violence Rises
By CARLOTTA GALL
Published: June 30, 2005
KABUL, Afghanistan, June 29 - The loss of a military helicopter with 17 Americans aboard in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday comes at a time of growing insecurity here. For the first time since the United States overthrew the Taliban government three and a half years ago, Afghans say they are feeling uneasy about the future.
Violence has increased sharply in recent months, with a resurgent Taliban movement mounting daily attacks in southern Afghanistan, gangs kidnapping foreigners here in the capital and radical Islamists orchestrating violent demonstrations against the government and foreign-financed organizations.
The steady stream of violence has dealt a new blow to this still traumatized nation of 25 million. In dozens of interviews conducted in recent weeks around the country, Afghans voiced concern that things were not improving, and that the Taliban and other dangerous players were gaining strength.
An American Chinook helicopter that crashed on Tuesday was brought down by hostile fire as it was landing during combat in a mountainous border area, American military officials said Wednesday.
Afghans interviewed about the continuing violence also expressed increased dissatisfaction with their own government and the way the United States military was conducting its operations, and said they were suspicious of the Americans' long-term intentions. read more…
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Favorite blogsnow links for today:
49 War of the Worlds / Tom Cruise Boycott Petition
“We, the undersigned, wish to inform you that we are compelled to boycott your movie “War of the Worlds”. Our decision is based solely on the abhorrent behavior of Mr. Tom Cruise. We will not be spending our good money to support the ridiculous and potentially dangerous antics of this raving narcissist.
Center for American Progress: The Progress Report
Wed, 29 Jun 2005
A Wasted Opportunity
HOW BUSH TURNED IRAQ INTO A TERRORIST TRAINING GROUND: The thrust of President Bush's address last night was that the Iraq war has now become the "latest battlefield" in the war on terror, and that we must "defeat [the terrorists] abroad before they attack us at home." There is little doubt, as a new CIA report concludes and director Porter Goss said previously, that Iraq has become the new Afghanistan -- the training ground for the next generation of insurgent fighters. But Iraq certainly wasn't this type of breeding ground before the war. In fact, one rationale Bush proffered for the war was to prevent Iraq from becoming "a training ground" for terrorists. Bush said in November 2002: "Imagine a terrorist network with Iraq as an arsenal and as a training ground..." We don't have to imagine anymore; Bush's war has made it a reality due to the whole host of mistakes that were made in the post-war phase.
BUSH FAILED TO BE CANDID ABOUT THE REAL PROBLEMS: As the daily toll of America's sacrifice in lives and dollars in Iraq continues to increase, Bush did little last night to allay the fears of those who see no end in sight. Moreover, he gave little impression that he understands the nature of the insurgency raging in Iraq. Bush declined to weigh in on the dispute between Rumsfeld and Cheney about whether the insurgency is in its "last throes" or will last another decade. He described the insurgents as filled with "blind hatred" yet he did not comment on Rumsfeld's confirmation that the U.S. is now negotiating with the those insurgents. Bush failed to admit any mistakes that have been made (and thus give any indication that he has corrected course), and he failed to explain any new strategy for winning the hearts and minds of Iraqis, defeating the terrorist insurgents, reconstructing Iraq, and bringing our troops home.
BUSH RECYCLED OLD IDEAS AS "NEW": Bush claimed last night to offer "three new steps" which weren't new at all. His supposed three new ideas were to "partner coalition units with Iraqi units," embed "transition teams" inside Iraqi units (if you don't know the difference between those two, you're not alone), and third, work with the Iraqi Ministries of Interior and Defense to "coordinate anti-terrorism operations" (which is really newsworthy only because the coordination apparently wasn't taking place before). In May 2004, Bush delivered a much-hyped speech at the Army War College that was supposed to outline "specific steps" for achieving our goals in Iraq. In that address, he said we were working with Iraqi forces to establish both a "chain of command" and an improved "vetting and training" process. Bush also said in that May 2004 speech that "America and other countries will continue to provide technical experts to help Iraq's ministries of government." The media wasn't fooled into thinking that Bush was offering anything new last night. The New York Times reported, Bush "offer[ed] no new strategies in a war that has now stretched for 25 months," and he delivered what was "in essence, a repeat of a speech he delivered 13 months ago...during an appearance at the Army War College."
The Devil's in the Details
On Monday, we learned that the many reports of Halliburton's mistreatment of our soldiers and flagrant waste of taxpayer dollars -- tales sometimes so outrageous they were difficult to believe -- were actually just scratching the surface. A new report spearheaded by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) uncovered startling new details about Halliburton's misdeeds, including the fact that the amount of taxpayer funds lost to Halliburton is "more than twice as high as those in previous official reports." Indeed, the level of mismanagement of Halliburton's work in Iraq calls into question not simply the Bush administration's fiscal priorities, but the value it places on respecting our soldiers and its management of the war in general.
TROOPS SERVED ROTTEN, YEAR-OLD FOOD: A former food manager in Iraq for Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) testified that the dining hall where he worked in early 2004 routinely served foods that were "outdated or expired as much as a year," or that had been removed from trucks whose convoys had been attacked. "[W]e were told to go into the trucks and remove the food items and use them after removing the bullets and any shrapnel from the bad food that was hit," the manager, Rory Mayberry, said. Yet during the same period, approximately three times each week, "KBR would cater events for KBR employees, like management parties and barbecues" where sanitary food was served. (Mayberry added, "Government auditors would have caught and fixed many of the problems. But KBR managers told us not to speak with auditors.")
VETERANS -- BUSH ADMIN LOWBALLS AND VETERANS PAY THE PRICE: As President Bush continues to speak about doing everything we can to support our troops, his administration finally "acknowledged that it had significantly underestimated veterans health care funds needed for the fiscal year beginning on Oct. 1." Now, with war injuries mounting, Congress is working furiously on "legislation to provide around $1.5 billion in 'emergency' funds for veterans' health care programs" as a response to the estimated $2.1 billion budget shortfall. The chairman of the House Appropriations Committee pointed out that this last minute maneuvering could have been avoided if the administration had spoken up during the writing of the fiscal 2006 veterans bill: "It borders on stupidity. I think someone was hoping they could hide the ball for a while."
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Saturday, June 25, 2005
Funds for Health Care of Veterans $1 Billion Short
2005 Deficit Angers Senate Republicans, Advocacy Groups
By Thomas B. EdsallWashington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 24, 2005; Page A29
The Bush administration, already accused by veterans groups of seeking inadequate funds for health care next year, acknowledged yesterday that it is short $1 billion for covering current needs at the Department of Veterans Affairs this year.
The disclosure of the shortfall angered Senate Republicans who have been voting down Democratic proposals to boost VA programs at significant political cost. Their votes have brought the wrath of the American Legion, the Paralyzed Veterans of America and other organizations down on the GOP.
"I was on the phone this morning with Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson, letting him know that I am not pleased that this has happened," said Sen. Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho), chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. "I am certain that he is going to take serious steps to ensure that this type of episode is not repeated."
The $1 billion shortfall emerged during an administration midyear budget review and was acknowledged only during lengthy questioning of Jonathan B. Perlin, VA undersecretary for health, by House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Steve Buyer (R-Ind.) at a hearing yesterday. read more…
Where are the other Democrats?
For those who have been itching for someone -- the national media, the White House, Congress, anybody -- to take the Downing Street memo seriously, the news today is mostly good: Even if the Republicans will never let it happen, John Kerry and nine other Senate Democrats have actually asked for an investigation that will include the revelations set forth in the Downing Street memo.
And yet -- where are the rest of the Senate Democrats? There are 44 Democrats in the Senate, and Kerry circulated a draft of his letter to the whole lot of them two weeks ago. In the end, he was able to persuade just nine of his colleagues to sign on: Jon Corzine, Tim Johnson, Frank Lautenberg, Ted Kennedy, Barbara Boxer, Tom Harkin, Jack Reed, Jeff Bingaman and Dick Durbin.
Where are you, Harry Reid? Any reason you didn't sign, Sen. Clinton? And while we wouldn't expect to see a signature from someone like Joe Lieberman on this letter, why don't we see your name there, Sen. Obama?
It would be one thing, we suppose, if Kerry's letter were outrageous somehow -- say, if it impugned the patriotism of millions of Americans or suggested their real "motives" were to put U.S. troops in mortal danger. But Kerry's letter isn't like that. It simply quotes passages from the Downing Street memo and highlights the "troubling questions" that they raise.
Is it that you don't think those questions are worth answers, Joe Biden? Or does the experience of Dick Durbin -- who did, after all, sign the Kerry letter -- have you too scared to raise them?
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Iraq May Be Prime Place for Training of Militants, C.I.A. Report Concludes
June 22, 2005
WASHINGTON, June 21 - A new classified assessment by the Central Intelligence Agency says Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for Islamic extremists than Afghanistan was in Al Qaeda's early days, because it is serving as a real-world laboratory for urban combat.
The assessment, completed last month and circulated among government agencies, was described in recent days by several Congressional and intelligence officials. The officials said it made clear that the war was likely to produce a dangerous legacy by dispersing to other countries Iraqi and foreign combatants more adept and better organized than they were before the conflict.
Congressional and intelligence officials who described the assessment called it a thorough examination that included extensive discussion of the areas that might be particularly prone to infiltration by combatants from Iraq, either Iraqis or foreigners.
They said the assessment had argued that Iraq, since the American invasion of 2003, had in many ways assumed the role played by Afghanistan during the rise of Al Qaeda during the 1980's and 1990's, as a magnet and a proving ground for Islamic extremists from Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries.
The officials said the report spelled out how the urban nature of the war in Iraq was helping combatants learn how to carry out assassinations, kidnappings, car bombings and other kinds of attacks that were never a staple of the fighting in Afghanistan during the anti-Soviet campaigns of the 1980's. It was during that conflict, primarily rural and conventional, that the United States provided arms to Osama bin Laden and other militants, who later formed Al Qaeda.
The assessment said the central role played by Iraq meant that, for now, most potential terrorists were likely to focus their energies on attacking American forces there, rather than carrying out attacks elsewhere, the officials said. But the officials said Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries would soon have to contend with militants who leave Iraq equipped with considerable experience and training. read more…
Marine units found to lack equipment
Corps estimates of needs in Iraq are called faulty
WASHINGTON -- Marine Corps units fighting in some of the most dangerous terrain in Iraq don't have enough weapons, communications gear, or properly outfitted vehicles, according to an investigation by the Marine Corps' inspector general provided to Congress yesterday.
The report, obtained by the Globe, says the estimated 30,000 Marines in Iraq need twice as many heavy machine guns, more fully protected armored vehicles, and more communications equipment to operate in a region the size of Utah.
The Marine Corps leadership has ''understated" the amount and types of ground equipment it needs, according to the investigation, concluding that all of its fighting units in Iraq ''require ground equipment that exceeds" their current supplies, ''particularly in mobility, engineering, communications, and heavy weapons."
Complaints of equipment shortages in Iraq, including lack of adequate vehicle armor, have plagued the Pentagon for months, but most of the reported shortages have been found in the Army, which makes up the bulk of the American occupation force.
The analysis of the Marines' battle readiness, however, shows that the Corps is lacking key equipment needed to stabilize Al Anbar province in western Iraq. The province is where some of the bloodiest fighting has occurred in recent months between American-led coalition forces and Iraqi insurgents aided by foreign fighters who have slipped across the border.
Marine Corps forces and newly trained Iraqi soldiers battled insurgents in Al Anbar province for the fourth straight day yesterday as part of Operation Spear, launched last week along the Syrian border.
The Marine Corps' mission, among the most difficult of the 140,000 American troops in Iraq, is to help stabilize a huge swath of Iraq where popular support for the insurgency is highest and where more sophisticated enemy tactics have been introduced, including larger and more effective improvised explosive devices, the roadside bombs that are the single biggest killer of American troops in Iraq.
But the report says that about a quarter of the Second Marine Expeditionary Force's Humvees lack sufficient armor to protect troops against roadside bombings, including 1,000 vehicles that have yet to be fitted with armor plates to protect the undercarriage. read more…
Monday, June 20, 2005
Fun with Polaroid-o-nizer
Here are a few pic's that I took this past Fathers Day, with my new Canon S2 IS, that have been Polaroid-o-niz'ed with this free site. I would have posted these to my Flickr.com page, but I have used up all my free uploads for the month since I am cheap-bastard and refuse to pay $25 for a year of service. (They are currently hosted for free on Photobucket.com which is a great place to host photo's for selling eBay items.) Enjoy!
|Reuben has shared his new Father's Day photos with you. |
Saturday, June 18, 2005
DJ Darth Vader on the Attack
I just found this awsome video clip
of some guy dressed in an Darth Vader costume cutting up some Star Wars tunes on two turntables. More info about Darth and his mad turntable skillz can be found here www.keltechandjohnnyb.com
Friday, June 17, 2005
NEW GUANTANAMO PRISON TO BE BUILT BY HALLIBURTON
We know the Bush administration disagrees with bipartisan calls to shut down the prison camp at Guantanamo, but did you know they actually plan on expanding it? According to Reuters, the Defense Department has hired the scandal-plagued Halliburton unit Kellogg, Brown, and Root to build "a new $30 million detention facility and security fence at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba." The new two-story facility, called Detention Camp #6, will house 220 detainees and will be completed next year.
|DAILY TALKING POINTS|
Public Broadcasting Under Fire
June 17, 2005
The new head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is blatantly trying to undermine the independence of public broadcasters.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Yes, globe is warming, even if Bush denies it
Posted 6/14/2005 9:17 PM Updated 6/14/2005 9:25 PM
As the world's sole superpower, the United States has tremendous influence. Beyond military might, it can shape issues from trade to terrorism to the environment. That's why future generations, say 100 years from now, might ask: So why didn't it get serious about global warming when it had the chance?
The Bush administration's mantra on climate change is this: The science is not yet in to prove a link between man's gas-and-coal guzzling habits and rising global temperatures that are causing glaciers to shrink, polar ice caps to melt and seas to rise.
Yet, as USA TODAY's Dan Vergano reported Monday, not only is the science in, it is also overwhelming. Last week, the National Academy of Sciences and 10 other leading world bodies said there is "significant global warming" that requires urgent action.
Another report last week further undercut claims of bad science: The New York Times disclosed that former oil industry lobbyist Philip Cooney, chief of staff of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, altered global warming reports to downplay links between emissions and climate change.
Cooney resigned, for what the White House insisted were unrelated reasons. President Bush repeated that the science is unclear.
Talk about the modern-day equivalent of the flat-Earth brigade. Taking action won't come cheap, but by denying the problem exists, Bush misses significant opportunities read more...
Monday, June 13, 2005
Federal Anti-Municipal Wi-Fi Bill Introduced
A Texas Congressman (a former SBC executive) has introduced a bill that impose a nationwide prohibition on municipally-sponsored wi-fi networks.
Dubbed by the Author, Representative Pet Sessions (R-Texas), the Preserving Innovation in Telecom Act of 2005, the bill prohibits state and local governments from providing any telecommunications or information service that is "substantially similar" to services provided by private companies.
The bill, HR 2726, is similar to a host of state bills pushed by telecommunications companies aimed at fending off municipally-run wireless networks. Some of those bills, most recently one in Texas, have been stalled in state legislatures.
The telecommunications operators say that such networks represent unfair competition while municipalities claim that the services are needed to promote business and close the gap between digital haves and have-nots.
According to Sessions' on-line biography, he is a former employee of Southwestern Bell and Bell Labs. The bill will first be considered by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Send a letter to your representatives telling them to oppose the Sessions bill.
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Memo: U.S. Lacked Full Postwar Iraq Plan
Advisers to Blair Predicted Instability
By Walter PincusWashington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 12, 2005; Page A01
A briefing paper prepared for British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top advisers eight months before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq concluded that the U.S. military was not preparing adequately for what the British memo predicted would be a "protracted and costly" postwar occupation of that country.
The eight-page memo, written in advance of a July 23, 2002, Downing Street meeting on Iraq, provides new insights into how senior British officials saw a Bush administration decision to go to war as inevitable, and realized more clearly than their American counterparts the potential for the post-invasion instability that continues to plague Iraq.
In its introduction, the memo "Iraq: Conditions for Military Action" notes that U.S. "military planning for action against Iraq is proceeding apace," but adds that "little thought" has been given to, among other things, "the aftermath and how to shape it."
The July 21 memo was produced by Blair's staff in preparation for a meeting with his national security team two days later that has become controversial on both sides of the Atlantic since last month's disclosure of official notes summarizing the session.
In those meeting minutes -- which have come to be known as the Downing Street Memo -- British officials who had just returned from Washington said Bush and his aides believed war was inevitable and were determined to use intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and his relations with terrorists to justify invasion of Iraq.
The "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy," said the memo -- an assertion attributed to the then-chief of British intelligence, and denied by U.S. officials and by Blair at a news conference with Bush last week in Washington. Democrats in Congress led by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (Mich.), however, have scheduled an unofficial hearing on the matter for Thursday. read more...
Saturday, June 11, 2005
Origami of the Day - Yoda Style
posted by Cory Doctorow at 03:12:40 AM permalink | Other blogs commenting on this post
Friday, June 10, 2005
Wal-Mart's Ariz. PR Executive Resigns
His Office Oversaw Book-Burning Ad
By Michael Barbaro
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 9, 2005; Page D02
The Wal-Mart community affairs director for Arizona and Southern California, whose office approved an advertisement that appeared to equate a local zoning proposal with Nazi book-burning, has resigned, the giant retailer said.
Peter Kanelos, who oversees the chain's public relations effort in both states, will leave the company Friday, said Daphne Moore, who runs the community affairs program for Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Wal-Mart has not publicly announced Kanelos's resignation, but Moore acknowledged it in an interview yesterday. Asked if Wal-Mart requested that Kanelos leave the company, Moore said, "I can tell you he resigned."
Kanelos, in an e-mail, said he is leaving the company "on mutually agreeable terms" but would not elaborate.
The firm Wal-Mart hired to design the ad said it had severed its six-year relationship with the company as well.
Wal-Mart has said it reviewed and cleared for publication a full-page advertisement in the May 8 edition of the Arizona Daily Sun featuring a 1933 photo of Germans throwing books on a pyre at Berlin's Opernplatz. The ad was part of a campaign, funded by Wal-Mart, to defeat a Flagstaff, Ariz., ballot initiative that would have restricted the chain's growth. Voters later narrowly rejected the measure. read more...
Thursday, June 09, 2005
Ex-Oil Lobbyist Was In Charge Of Global Warming Reports
POSTED: 7:16 am MDT June 9, 2005
The White House is playing down changes made in government reports on global warming by a former oil industry lobbyist.
Spokesman Scott McClellan said the revisions were part of a normal review and did not violate a pledge to rely on sound science.
Documents provided to the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit group, showed that a White House official who once headed the oil industry's lobbying on climate change edited reports on the topic in 2002 and 2003.
The edits -- published in The New York Times -- play up doubts on whether so-called "greenhouse gases" from human activity really cause climate change.
Philip Cooney's changes in several federal reports tended to emphasize the uncertainty of climate science and the environmental impact of climate change, according to a summary of the documents provided by the advocacy group.
McClellan rejected suggestions that Cooney had "watered down" the reports.
McClellan said the resulting reports were still "scientifically sound."
Cooney led the American Petroleum Institute's fight against greenhouse gas limits before he joined President George W. Bush's Council on Environmental Quality in 2001.
The Times said Cooney has no scientific training. But McClellan calls him a "policy person" whose editing is "part of the interagency review process."
Environmentalists have accused Bush and top aides of claiming doubt about mankind's role in global warming -- when the vast majority of scientific evidence supports a link.
Canadian Court Chips Away at National Health Care
By CLIFFORD KRAUSS
TORONTO, June 9 - The Canadian Supreme Court struck down a Quebec law banning private medical insurance today, dealing an acute blow to the publicly financed national health care system.
The court stopped short of striking down the constitutionality of the country's vaunted nationwide coverage, but legal experts said the ruling would open the door to a wave of lawsuits challenging the health care system in other provinces.
The system, providing Canadians with free doctor's services that are paid for by taxes, has generally been supported by the public, and is broadly identified with the Canadian national character.
But in recent years, patients have been forced to wait longer for diagnostic tests and elective surgery, while the wealthy and well connected either seek care in the United States or use influence to jump ahead on waiting lists.
The court ruled that the waiting lists had become so long that they violated patients' "liberty, safety and security" under the Quebec charter, which covers about one-quarter of Canada's population.
"The evidence in this case shows that delays in the public health care system are widespread and that in some serious cases, patients die as a result of waiting lists for public health care," the Supreme Court ruled. "In sum, the prohibition on obtaining private health insurance is not constitutional where the public system fails to deliver reasonable services."
The case was brought to the Supreme Court by a Montreal family doctor, Jacques Chaoulli, who argued his own case through the courts, and by a chemical salesman, George Zeliotis, who was forced to wait a year for a hip replacement while being prohibited from paying privately for surgery. read more...
Patriot Act, Part II: The political tug of war intensifies
Bush calls for strengthening the antiterror law, while critics worry about greater potential for civil-rights abuses.
| Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
WASHINGTON – In seemingly short order, discussion around the Patriot Act has shifted from defense to offense.
Just two months ago, when Congress set out to consider renewal of the antiterrorism law, civil libertarians were hopeful they could rein in aspects that they felt went too far. Now, supporters of an enhanced Patriot Act appear to be making headway as they push to give the FBI new powers.
Thursday, President Bush weighed in on the side of a beefed-up Patriot Act, including making permanent the 16 provisions set to expire at the end of the year and giving FBI agents new powers. In a speech at the Ohio Patrol Training Academy in Columbus, he called on Congress to renew the act's temporary provisions.
"For the state of our national security, Congress must not rebuild a wall between law enforcement and intelligence," he said.
Columbus, Ohio, was selected as the site for Bush's speech for a reason: It was two years ago that Columbus truck-driver Lyman Faris pleaded guilty to charges of aiding terrorism and conspiracy. Now serving a 20-year prison sentence, Mr. Faris allegedly met with Osama bin Laden in 2000 and provided material aid to Al Qaeda members. Faris was also accused of plotting to sabotage the Brooklyn Bridge and blow up an Ohio shopping mall. read more...
Jimmy Carter Asks Washington to Close Guantanamo Prison
Former US President Jimmy Carter called on the Bush administration to close the prison at the US naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba in order to end "the terrible embarrassment and a blow to [the US's] reputation."
Ahora.cu / 09-06-2005
In recent statements from a two-day human rights conference in Atlanta, Carter said that the current US administration is continuing to discredit itself in light of ongoing reports of offenses against prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo.
The US Nobel Peace laureate said that the Washington must inform the detainees of the charges against them, and that no inmate should be held incommunicado.
Carter's demand joined others, such as the appeal made by US Senator Joseph Biden, the highest ranking Democrat on the Senate's Foreign Affairs Committee. Biden demanded the shutting down of the Guantanamo prison last week. In statements to the ABC television network, the senator described the prison at the illegally occupied base in Cuba as "shameful."
Previously The New York Times had suggested that President Bush shut down the detention center, where some 540 persons are being held with no access to legal counsel. In its editorial, the US newspaper pointed out that many international organizations have criticized the Bush administration for torture inflicted on inmates and for desecrating Islam's sacred Koran. (From AIN)
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Court hears school voucher arguments
Skeptical Florida Supreme Court justices questioned lawyers for the state about whether Florida's school voucher program is constitutional.
Wed, Jun. 08, 2005
TALLAHASSEE - A majority of the Florida Supreme Court expressed misgivings and skepticism Tuesday about whether the nation's first statewide private school voucher program is legal.
While justices did not say how long it will take for them to rule, it was clear the hourlong proceedings before the seven-member court could be the prelude to the end of the voucher program -- a centerpiece of Gov. Jeb Bush's A+ education plan pushed into law in 1999.
A ruling striking down the program could have far-reaching ramifications and could doom other state programs, including one offering vouchers to disabled children and Florida's universal prekindergarten program scheduled to start this fall.
A coalition of groups, including the state's teachers union and civil rights groups such as the NAACP, first filed a lawsuit against the program six years ago. read more...
Monday, June 06, 2005
A Prarie Home Companion at the Hollywood Bowl
and I drove out to the Hollywood Bowl last Friday to see the "A Prarie Home Companion
" show that air's on NPR stations on the weekends. Here a few pictures
from the show. We had a great time, and heard commercial's from the "Tostada Council" and "Katsup Advisory Board" along with some great music from Old Crow Medicine Show
, Leo Kottke
, Karan Casey
, and Maude Maggart
I guess parking is notoriously horrible at the Hollywood Bowl, but Carolyn and I totally lucked out! When we told the parking attendant we didn't have enough cash to pay the $13.00 and only a credit card, she waived on through and told us to enjoy the show. But perhaps the best part was when we made it back to our car, in the stacked parking lot, and all of the driver's in front of us magically got to their cars just as we did and we were able to get the hell out'a there in a matter of minutes after the show. I thought for sure we would be stuck in the stacked parking lot waiting for other drivers to arrive and move their cars out of are way but we lucked the hell out. Lot's of other poors souls were stuck in their car waiting for the people in front of them to move their cars out of the way. Here is link to the June 4th Radio Show
Viva Garrison Keillor
and his cool red sneakers!
Advocates see veterans of war on terror joining the ranks of the homeless
By Leo Shane III, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Thursday, June 2, 2005
WASHINGTON — Advocates for the homeless already are seeing veterans from the war on terror living on the street, and say the government must do more to ease their transition from military to civilian life.
Linda Boone, executive director of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, said about 70 homeless veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan contacted her group’s facilities in 2004, and another 125 homeless veterans from those conflicts last year petitioned the Department of Veterans Affairs for assistance.
“It’s not a big wave, but it’s an indicator that we still haven’t done our job,” she said. “I think that our nation would be very embarrassed if they knew that.”
The group, founded in 1990, is a national network of charitable organizations designed to provide resources and aid for homeless veterans.
Veterans Affairs officials estimate that about 250,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, and another 250,000 experience homelessness at some point.
Boone said the reasons behind the veterans’ housing problems are varied: Some have emotional and mental issues from their combat experience, some have trouble finding work after leaving the military, some have health care bills which result in financial distress. read more...
US lowers standards in army numbers crisis Jamie Wilson in Washington
Saturday June 4, 2005
The US military has stopped battalion commanders from dismissing new recruits for drug abuse, alcohol, poor fitness and pregnancy in an attempt to halt the rising attrition rate in an army under growing strain as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
An internal memo sent to senior commanders said the growing dropout rate was "a matter of great concern" in an army at war. It told officers: "We need your concerted effort to reverse the negative trend. By reducing attrition 1%, we can save up to 3,000 initial-term soldiers. That's 3,000 more soldiers in our formations."
Officially, the memo, reported in the Wall Street Journal and posted on Slate.com, ordered battalion commanders to refer cases of problem soldiers up to brigade level. Military experts warned that the move would make it more difficult to remove poor soldiers and would lower quality in the ranks.
A military spokesman told the Guardian yesterday: "It was merely a question of an additional set of eyes looking at an issue before we release potential recruits."
The Wall Street Journal quoted a battalion commander as saying: "It is the guys on weight control ... school no-shows, drug users, etc, who eat up my time and cause my hair to grey prematurely ... Often they have more than one of these issues simultaneously."
Asked what the new policy meant, John Pike from the thinktank Globalsecurity.org said: "It means there is a war on. They need all the soldiers they can get. But it is a dilemma. You need good soldiers more in wartime than peacetime." read more...
Growing Problem for Military Recruiters: Parents
Ann Sarrantonio, at a school board meeting in Accord, N.Y., voiced objections to military recruiting at school.
By DAMIEN CAVE
Rachel Rogers, a single mother of four in upstate New York, did not worry about the presence of National Guard recruiters at her son's high school until she learned that they taught students how to throw hand grenades, using baseballs as stand-ins. For the last month she has been insisting that administrators limit recruiters' access to children.
Orlando Terrazas, a former truck driver in Southern California, said he was struck when his son told him that recruiters were promising students jobs as musicians. Mr. Terrazas has been trying since September to hang posters at his son's public school to counter the military's message.
Meanwhile, Amy Hagopian, co-chairwoman of the Parent-Teacher-Student Association at Garfield High School in Seattle, has been fighting against a four-year-old federal law that requires public schools to give military recruiters the same access to students as college recruiters get, or lose federal funding. She also recently took a few hours off work to stand beside recruiters at Garfield High and display pictures of injured American soldiers from Iraq.
"We want to show the military that they are not welcome by the P.T.S.A. in this building," she said. "We hope other P.T.S.A.'s will follow." read more...