Monday edition - February 23, 2009
Republican Governors Step Up Attacks on Obama Economic Policies
Army charity hoards millions, watchdog group says
Forecasters: Economy worse in '09, better in '10
Mississippi, Louisiana and South Carolina are some of the dumpiest states I have ever been in and their governors are considering turning down money. In other words, these Republicans prove they don't care about their constituents, all they care about are their political ambitions.
Monopoly money suddenly starting to gain value! - Grant "Bud" Gerver
The-World-Will-Be-A-Safer-Place-Without George W. Bush
US military deaths in Iraq war at 4247 The Associated Press
Trial of Iraqi ‘Shoe-Thrower’ Is Adjourned New York Times
Maybe the whole “we’re broke” thing will help out on the whole “we’re fat” front. – Will Durst
Iraq Museum Update
Museum re-opened to the public Monday, nearly six years after it was pillaged in
the chaotic days following the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Some 15,000 irreplaceable artifacts were looted in May 2003, of which only about 6,000 have been recovered.
First Peanuts, Now Potatoes?
Local Tops Friendly Markets
grocery stores have removed three
Simply Potatoes refrigerated products from their shelves, after the
manufacturer issued a voluntary recall.
Hide The Children, Here Comes Another Bush
George P. Bush may not be ready to follow his
father, grandfather and uncle into politics just yet, but he is trying to help
the Republican Party regain a conservative message,
Saturday included criticism of Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.
George P. Bush's Metro-Dade Police Department report
Looking to 2012, GOP governors step into spotlight The Associated Press
Crist backs Obama but rejects 'Obama Republican' tag Palm Beach Post
W Shows Up At Hardware Store
Former President George W.
has visited a Dallas hardware store that earlier this month made him a
lighthearted offer to work as a greeter.
Republican Racism Is Alive and Well In Arkansas
Some 100 workers from
Pennsylvania, about a third of them African Americans, came down to help the
local electric cooperative restore power after the devastating ice storm last
month took down just about every power pole in the county. They worked
tirelessly clearing trees and putting up poles and lines in the ice and freezing
rain to try to speed power to people.
For their trouble, they were harassed and threatened by roving groups of young men shouting racial epithets and pointing guns at them.
Obamas Woo Governors With Spinach and Soul Washington Post
Obama to convene fiscal summit at White House
Supporters Upbeat About Bill to Give DC a Vote in Congress Washington Post
Barry Improving After Transplant Washington Post
Florida GOP Tells Citizens To Go F**K Themselves
While Florida politicians
were considering a vast overhaul of the state's troubled Medicaid system, a
Tampa company that administered care for half a million poor and needy residents
was busy lining their pockets with campaign donations.
WellCare Health Plans Inc., its subsidiaries and executives spent $2.4 million on political contributions in the 2004 and 2006 elections, according to an analysis of campaign records by The Associated Press. More than 95 percent of it went to Republicans, who pushed forward a nationally watched plan that funnels more state and federal Medicaid spending than ever through private companies like WellCare, which profit most by providing the least care.
Obama took his first foreign trip as president today up to Canada. He met with
the prime minister to discuss one of the greatest threats facing our nation
today — Canadian geese.- Jay Leno
Ads by Google
Autoworkers Union Reaches Deal on Health Benefits With Ford Washington Post
Microsoft Readies Vista Update PC World
Karl Rove's New Hire
Who says there aren't jobs out there for J-school graduates? Thanks to a tipster, we learned today that Columbia J-school alum and fame-seeker Sheena Tahilramani now works (worked?) for evil Republican vizier Karl Rove.
New jail opens at Abu Ghraib site BBC News
Airports all around the country now are switching from metal detectors to those high-tech scanning machines that show a naked image of your body. And this is raising a lot of privacy concerns, especially among women. The good news? Airport security guys now are paying attention 100%. - Jay Leno
Former Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice has agreed to
a three-book deal with Crown Publishers, starting with a memoir about her
years in the administration of President George W. Bush.
excited about the Academy Awards? There is a film in the Best Documentary
category about Vice President Dick Cheney and his relationship with the Saudis.
And you know what the name of that one is? “Lawrence of Arrhythmia.” - David
In case you missed it …
In its tireless effort to provide news and giggles for its readers, All Hat No Cattle offers this Monday glimpse back at the previous week with an emphasis on the weekend dump. (We mean the time preferred by government officials, politicians and titans of industry to release unsavory news in the hope it receives less media coverage – not the bathroom activity.)
Just say no: Some southern governors don’t want stimulus money
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Republican governors were split on Sunday over whether to accept all of the money their states stand to receive from a $787 billion economic stimulus plan which President Barack Obama signed last week.
Three governors of southern states have come out against taking part of the money designated to extend unemployment benefits and perhaps for other programs. A handful of others are considering follow suit.
With the global economy in crisis and unemployment at record levels, Obama made a top priority for his first month in office the package of tax cuts and spending for infrastructure projects and social services including unemployment aid. Only three Republicans in Congress backed its passage, charging Obama and his Democratic party had loaded it up with unnecessary spending and failed to cut taxes enough.
"There is some (stimulus money) we will not take in Mississippi. If we were to take the unemployment insurance reform package that they have, it would cause us to raise taxes on employment when the money runs out, and the money will run out in a couple of years," said Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour on CNN's "State of the Union."
South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and Louisiana's Bobby Jindal, who has often been mentioned as a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2012, have also said they would reject the unemployment funds, which make up a small proportion of the overall package.
Later, speaking to reporters at a National Governors' Association meeting in Washington, Sanford listed some other monies he did not want, possibly including $42 million for retrofitting state buildings to be more energy efficient.
But California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, also a Republican, said on ABC's "This Week" he would gladly take all the money.
"Governor Sanford says that he does not want to take the federal stimulus package money. And I want to say to him: I'll take it. I'm more than happy to take his money or any other governor in this country that doesn't want to take this money, I take it, because we in California need it," he said.
Obama orders payroll tax cut for 17 people still working in U.S.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama ordered the U.S. Treasury on Saturday to implement tax cuts for 95 percent of Americans, fulfilling a campaign pledge he hopes will help jolt the economy out of recession.
The tax cuts are part of a $787 billion economic recovery plan passed by the Democratic-controlled Congress over Republican opposition. The aim is to put more money in the pockets of Americans and stimulate the economy by increasing consumer spending.
"I'm pleased to announce that this morning the Treasury Department began directing employers to reduce the amount of taxes withheld from paychecks, meaning that by April 1st, a typical family will begin taking home at least $65 more every month," Obama said in his weekly radio address.
"Never before in our history has a tax cut taken effect faster or gone to so many hard-working Americans," he said.
With tens of thousands of Americans losing their jobs in the midst of a global economic meltdown, Obama has said fixing the U.S. economy is his top priority. He has acknowledged that his success or failure in that will define his presidency.
Obama campaigned for the White House last year on a pledge to roll back his predecessor George W. Bush's tax cuts on the wealthy few and implement a cut for 95 percent of Americans.
His announcement came a day after one of his top economic advisers, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, said the global economy may be deteriorating even faster than during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Abu Ghraib now looking
spiffy; homeless Americans envious
BAGHDAD (AP) – A gym, barber shop and planters of plastic flowers: Welcome to the gentler face of the infamous Abu Ghraib prison.
The lockup where U.S. military guards tortured and humiliated Iraqi prisoners west of Baghdad has reopened with fresh paint and a new name in a bid to shed its notorious reputation.
Mohammed al-Zeidi, the assistant director of the Iraqi Rehabilitation Department, insisted the new prison would be operated in accordance with international standards.
"All kinds of human rights violations took place in this prison. So we felt that it was our duty to rehabilitate the prison," he said Saturday during a press tour of the grounds. "We turned it into something like a resort not prison. The first step was to change the name."
Iraqi officials defended their decision to reopen the facility — now called the Baghdad Central Prison — saying they need the space as the U.S. military has begun handing over the thousands of detainees in its custody under a new security agreement that took effect on Jan. 1.
Judicial authorities showed off the nearly $1 million renovated section Saturday that included a sewing room, exercise equipment, computers, a library, outdoor recreational areas and a barber shop. Plastic flowers lined the halls. Iraqi officials said they expect the rest of the prison renovations to be done by the end of the year.
Greenhouses stood in the field outside where once tents were erected to house the overflow from prisoners when Abu Ghraib was controlled by the U.S. military.
Sensitive cartoonists to depict Obama as white
(AP) – Cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz was in front of a classroom full of black and Latino kids, drawing presidents. He sketched Bush, then Clinton. Next came his favorite, the man he voted for: Obama.
"Hey, those lips are big," Alcaraz heard a black girl say from the back of the room.
Alcaraz was disturbed. "I try to bend over backwards not to make him look like a cartoon stereotype," and certainly not a racial stereotype, he said.
Editorial cartoonists are bending over backwards a lot these days, as they try to satirize the nation's first black president. And when they don't, the result is the kind of outcry that erupted this week after a New York Post cartoon featured a bloody chimpanzee — intentionally or unintentionally evoking racist images of the past.
The problem is, cartoonists make their living by making fun of people — especially presidents — and exaggerating their features and foibles.
The late Herblock often saddled Richard Nixon with an enormous cartoon nose. Liberals drew George W. Bush like a simpleton, or worse. There have been minor kerfluffles from the left about drawing Hillary Clinton as insufficiently feminine, and from the right about depicting Condoleezza Rice as servile to President Bush.
Drawings of President Barack Obama, however, must contend with America's history of degrading racial imagery, from ape comparisons to enormous "Sambo" lips. (Caricatures of the president's admittedly large ears have so far escaped scrutiny.)
Auto dealerships close at record pace as Americans turn to pedal cars
DETROIT (Reuters) – A record 881 U.S. auto dealerships closed in 2008, with Detroit's three struggling automakers representing 80 percent of the decline, according to data released on Thursday.
In the face of tight credit and a plunge in sales of cars and trucks, about 4.2 percent of the country's 20,084 auto dealerships shut their doors, according to data firm Urban Science.
The number of closures, the bulk of which occurred in the fourth quarter, represents the biggest decline since 1991 when the company started to collect data.
The lack of credit has made it difficult for dealers to finance their vehicle inventory and for customers to secure financing to buy vehicles.
General Motors Corp, Ford Motor Co, Chrysler have also encouraged their dealerships to consolidate in a bid to streamline their retail operations and reduce competition that has hit margins.
U.S. auto sales fell 18 percent in 2008 to 13.2 million units. Analysts and auto expects have forecast a further decline in sales to as low as 10 million units this year.
North Korea threatens nuclear strike for 374th time
SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea said on Thursday it was ready for war with the South, just hours before U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was set to arrive in Seoul for talks on defusing the North's military threat.
North Korea has repeatedly threatened in recent weeks to reduce the South to ashes. Pyongyang is thought to be readying its longest-range missile for launch in what analysts say is a bid to grab the new U.S. administration's attention and pressure Seoul to ease up on its hard line.
"(The South Korean president's) group of traitors should never forget that the (North) Korean People's Army is fully ready for an all-out confrontation," the North's KCNA news agency quoted an unnamed military official as saying.
Clinton said in Tokyo on Tuesday at the start of her first foreign trip since taking office that a North Korean missile launch would be "very unhelpful."
The South's foreign minister warned a launch would be met by sanctions and further isolation for the reclusive state.
Reports in the South said North Korea has been assembling its Taepodong-2 missile, which is designed to carry a warhead as far as Alaska but fizzled and blew apart seconds after it was launched for the first and only time in 2006.
Klan to drop robes in favor of body armor for initiations
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – The alleged leader of a Ku Klux Klan group was indicted on a second-degree murder charge Wednesday in the shooting death of an Oklahoma woman who police said was killed during an initiation in south Louisiana.
A grand jury indicted Raymond Foster, 44, and three other suspected group members in the death of Cynthia Lynch, 43, of Tulsa, Okla. She was recruited to join the group over the Internet and was shot to death when a disagreement arose during an initiation in November, authorities have said.
Foster's 20-year-old son Shane and another suspect were indicted on an obstruction of justice charge by the grand jury meeting about 30 miles north of New Orleans in St. Tammany Parish. A fourth suspect was charged as an accessory after the fact.
Four others arrested in the case were not indicted.
Investigators said they found weapons, Confederate flags and six Klan robes at the campsite where Lynch was killed.
All the suspects are from Washington Parish, where the Klan flourished in the 1960s. Now, however, the KKK is considered weak and loosely organized at the local and national levels.
Investigators said in November that statements from suspects suggested Lynch didn't get along with Raymond Foster and was shot after she asked to be taken away from the initiation site, a remote camp in northern St. Tammany Parish, near the Washington Parish line.
Indians want Skull and Bones to return skull and bones
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Geronimo's descendants have sued Skull and Bones — the secret society at Yale University linked to presidents and other powerful figures — claiming that its members stole the remains of the legendary Apache leader decades ago and have kept them ever since.
The federal lawsuit filed in Washington on Tuesday — the 100th anniversary of Geronimo's death — also names the university and the federal government.
Geronimo's great-grandson Harlyn Geronimo said his family believes Skull and Bones members took some of the remains in 1918 from a burial plot in Fort Sill, Okla., to keep in its New Haven clubhouse, a crypt. The alleged graverobbing is a longstanding legend that gained some validity in recent years with the discovery of a letter from a club member that described the theft.
"I believe strongly from my heart that his spirit was never released," Harlyn Geronimo said.
Both Presidents Bush, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and many others in powerful government and industry positions are members of the society, which is not affiliated with the university.
After years of famously fighting the U.S. and Mexican armies, Geronimo and 35 warriors surrendered to Gen. Nelson A. Miles near the Arizona-New Mexico border in 1886. Geronimo was eventually sent to Fort Sill and died at the Army outpost of pneumonia in 1909.
According to lore, members of Skull and Bones — including former President George W. Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush — dug up his grave when a group of Army volunteers from Yale were stationed at the fort during World War I, taking his skull and some of his bones.
Harlyn Geronimo, 61, wants those remains and any held by the federal government turned over to the family so they can be reburied near the Indian leader's birthplace in southern New Mexico's Gila Wilderness.
Yale officials declined to comment Wednesday, saying they had not yet seen the lawsuit. Spokesman Tom Conroy noted the Skull and Bones crypt is not on Yale property.
Membership into Skull and Bones marks the elite of the elite at the Ivy League school. Only 15 Yale seniors are asked to join each year.
Members swear an oath of secrecy about the group and its strange rituals, which include devotion to the number "322" and initiation rites such as confessing sexual secrets and kissing a skull. The atmosphere makes Skull and Bones favorite fodder for conspiracy theorists.
gave millions to politicians
ST. JOHN'S, Antigua (AP) – Panicky depositors were turned away from Stanford International Bank and some of its Latin American affiliates Wednesday, unable to withdraw their money after U.S. regulators accused Texas financier R. Allen Stanford of perpetrating an $8 billion fraud against his companies' investors.
Some customers arrived in Antigua by private jet and were driven up the lushly landscaped driveway of the bank's headquarters, only to be told that all assets have been frozen pending an investigation by Antiguan banking regulators.
Banking regulators and politicians around the region are scrambling to contain the damage after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil fraud charges against the billionaire on Tuesday. Regional Director Rose Romero of the SEC's Fort Worth office called it a "fraud of shocking magnitude that has spread its tentacles throughout the world."
Stanford, 58, is a larger-than-life figure in the Caribbean, using his personal fortune — estimated at $2.2 billion by Forbes magazine — to bankroll public works and sports teams. He also is a major player in U.S. politics, personally donating nearly a million dollars, mostly to Democrats. At 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, he towered over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi while giving her a warm hug at the Democratic National Convention last year.
Some U.S. lawmakers quickly announced they would donate Stanford's campaign contributions to charity.
The Stanford Financial Group, through its political action committee and employees, has contributed $2.4 million to political candidates, parties and committees in the U.S. since 1989, with nearly two-thirds going to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a group that tracks campaign spending.
Most of that cash flowed during the 2002 election cycle, when Congress was debating a financial services antifraud bill that would have linked the databases of state and federal banking, securities and insurance regulators. The bill ultimately died in the Senate, where the biggest recipients have been Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. ($45,900); Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. ($28,150); Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn. ($27,500); and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas ($19,700). Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas also received $41,375.
Stanford and his wife Susan also donated $931,100 of their own money, with 78 percent going to Democrats, including $4,600 to President Barack Obama's presidential campaign last May 31. Records show $2,300 of that was returned on the same day.
Pope to Pelosi: Oppose abortion and I’ll give you one of my neat hats
VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday told U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic who supports abortion rights, that Catholic politicians have a duty to protect life "at all stages of its development."
Pelosi is the first top Democrat to meet with Benedict since the election of Barack Obama, who won a majority of the American Catholic vote despite differences with the Vatican on abortion.
The Vatican released the pope's remarks to Pelosi, saying Benedict spoke of the church's teaching "on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death." That is an expression often used by the pope when expressing opposition to abortion.
Benedict said all Catholics — especially legislators, jurists and political leaders — should work to create "a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development."
In an e-mail issued by her office, Pelosi did not mention the allusion to abortion.
She said it was with "great joy" that she and her husband, Paul, met with Benedict.
"In our conversation, I had the opportunity to praise the Church's leadership in fighting poverty, hunger and global warming, as well as the Holy Father's dedication to religious freedom and his upcoming trip and message to Israel," she said.
The 15-minute meeting was closed to reporters and photographers. The two met in a small room off a Vatican auditorium after the pope's weekly public audience.
Blago-Burris road show continues amid more calls for resignation
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – An increasingly embattled U.S. Sen. Roland Burris said he "welcomes" the chance for authorities and elected officials to look into how he landed a coveted Senate appointment from ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Burris' admission that he had more contact with Blagojevich advisers about the Senate seat than he described under oath to a state House impeachment panel has furious lawmakers asking for an investigation into whether the Democrat committed perjury.
And the revelation that Burris tried to raise money for the governor after Blagojevich's brother asked him for fundraising help has triggered calls for Burris' resignation.
Burris insists he never raised money for Blagojevich while the governor considered whom to appoint to the seat President Barack Obama vacated.
"I have made an effort to be as transparent as I can and I'm willing to take a further step as I have nothing to hide," Burris told reporters Tuesday night. "I welcome the opportunity to go before any and all investigating bodies, including those referred by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the U.S. Senate Ethics Committee, to answer any questions they have."
The Chicago Tribune added its voice to the chorus demanding Burris' resignation. In an editorial the paper said Burris has lost the benefit of the doubt with his latest version of events.
Burris told reporters on Monday he contacted friends after Blagojevich's brother, Robert, called him before Obama's election asking him to raise $10,000 or $15,000 for the governor.
Chrysler seeks more
government money to build Flintstone cars
DETROIT – Chrysler LLC on Tuesday told the U.S. government it needs even more taxpayer money to survive. General Motors is expected to do the same. Acknowledging that industry conditions are worse than expected when it made the case in December for a government bailout, Chrysler requested an additional $5 billion in government loans. It originally said it would need $3 billion more. The company had previously received $4 billion from the Treasury Department.
General Motors Corp. is expected shortly to release the details of its own restructuring plan and follow that up with a news conference at 6:30 p.m. GM has received $13.4 billion in government loans — $4 billion of that on Tuesday.
To prove they can survive as viable companies, both Chrysler and GM need to sharply reduce costs. To that end, Chrysler said it will cut 3,000 more jobs and stop producing three vehicle models. GM has previously outlined reductions to both its hourly and salaried work force and has said it plans to cut back to four vehicle brands from eight.
Both companies are required to reach concessions with the United Auto Workers union and debt holders. While no final deal was reached ahead of the government-imposed 5 p.m. deadline for the restructuring plans, GM was said to be close to an agreement on labor concessions and Chrysler said concessions have been fundamentally agreed upon. The progress in the GM talks was according to a person briefed on the negotiations who asked not to be named because GM's plan hasn't been submitted.
GM executives have said the company only has to show substantial progress by the deadline, with the whole plan finalized by March 31.
Everything is bigger in Texas
NEW YORK (AP) – Federal regulators on Tuesday charged Texas financier R. Allen Stanford and three of his firms with a "massive" fraud that centered around high-interest-rate certificates of deposit, and raided some of the companies' offices.
In a complaint filed in federal court in Dallas, the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged Stanford orchestrated a fraudulent investment scheme centered on an $8 billion CD program that promised "improbable and unsubstantiated high interest rates."
Stanford's assets, along with those of the three companies, were frozen. Stanford's firms include Antigua-based Stanford International Bank, broker-dealer Stanford Group Co. and investment adviser Stanford Capital Management, which are both based in Houston.
The bank's chief financial officer, James Davis, and Stanford Financial Group's chief investment officer, Laura Pendergest-Holt, were also charged in the complaint.
U.S. District Court Judge Reed O'Connor has appointed a receiver to handle the frozen assets.
The charges come amid an investigation that has lasted more than three months and included the SEC, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the U.S. brokerage industry's self-policing body, and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation. Investigators visited the Florida offices of Stanford Group last month.
Stanford Group did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
British and French nuclear subs collide
U.K. (Guardian.co.uk) – A Royal Navy nuclear submarine and a French submarine have been damaged in a collision deep below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.
HMS Vanguard and Le Triomphant, which were carrying nuclear missiles on routine patrols, are reported to have collided while submerged on February 3 or 4. Between them they had about 250 sailors on board.
The British Ministry of Defence initially refused to confirm the incident, saying it was not policy to comment on submarine operations. But Monday afternoon the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, issued a statement saying the two vessels hit each other while travelling at very low speeds and no one was injured.
After the accident, the
French submarine returned to its base on L'Ile Longue, near Brest, under its own
power and escorted by a frigate. Le Triomphant, which entered service in 1997,
carries 16 nuclear missiles and is one of four nuclear-armed submarines in the
Vanguard, one of Britain's four V-class submarines that make up the Trident nuclear deterrent, each of which is capable of carrying up to 16 missiles, was said to have visible dents on its hull as it was towed home. Inquiries are under way on both sides of the Channel.
This space reserved …
for fine artists who need some free public exposure!
AHNC wants to display a new painting, drawing, sculpture or photograph with a credit/bio in each Wednesday edition.
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How soon and how well this takes off depends on
your submissions. So if you or someone you know wants to show their fine art,
this is a fine space to do it.
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A classy, funny farewell from Conan Boston Globe
OMG! Did Google Earth find Atlantis?
smoke : A Sandhu - a holy man - smokes marijuana from a clay pipe as a holy
offering to lord Shiva, Hindu god of creation and destruction at the
Pashupatinath temple area in Kathmandu on the eve of the Hindu festival Maha