Please watch this...
(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)
A woman from the governing party in Ecuador has proposed that a women's right to enjoy sexual happiness should be enshrined in the country's law.
Her suggestion has provoked a lively debate in conservative Ecuador.
Maria Soledad Vela, who is helping to rewrite the constitution, says women have traditionally been seen as mere sexual objects or child bearers.
Now, she says, women should have the right to make free, responsible and informed decisions about sex lives.
My friends, I will have an energy policy that we will be talking about, which will eliminate our dependence on oil from the Middle East that will - that will then prevent us - that will prevent us from having ever to send our young men and women into conflict again in the Middle East.
A fast-spreading viral outbreak in China has killed 22 children, sickened nearly 3,600 others and caused panic among parents in an impoverished corner of Anhui Province, government health officials said Friday.
All of the fatalities, from lung problems and other complications, have been in children younger than 6, with a majority of them under 2.
The outbreak, caused by a particularly strong intestinal virus, enterovirus 71, or EV-71, has been spreading in the city of Fuyang, in east-central China, since early March. Provincial health officials, however, announced the outbreak only this week, raising questions about whether they had been trying to conceal it.
The next President of the United States must decide, as has "The Decider" for the past 7 1/2 years, what to do in the Middle East. If I were the next POTUS, what would I do? My decisions, lame as they would be, couldn't possibly be any more disastrous than those of our current president (OCP). So why not play with some ideas in the dark, operating strictly from idealism and memory?
Resource People -- Decide which leaders have a sense of history as well as a clear vision for the 21st century. Do background checks for any trace of neocon leanings on everyone to be considered. Lee Hamilton, Sam Nunn, Bill Richardson, Madelaine Albright, President Carter and Chuck Hagel are names that come quickly to mind. Think tanks, such as the New America Foundation and others might be good resources for smart people with previous experience and who speak the languages.
The Military -- Priority Number One must be resetting towards readiness. Rename the missions from aggression to U.S. national security and military preparedness. Priority Number Two must be de-funding unneeded Cold War weapons systems. Priority Number Three must be rebuilding the Navy as a 2009 resource for national defense. Priority Number Four must be to reassign people in the armed services to purely military duties, and non-military personnel from other government departments to all other non-combat functions. Just because the military can do something does not mean it should be the ones to do it.
Realistic Geography -- The Middle East consists of several significant countries in addition to Israel, Iraq, and Iran. The attention alphabet must be expanded beyond the 'I's to include -- among others -- Palestine, Lebanon, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, and the rich countries of the GCC. The United States can be very helpful and involved in ways that make much more sense that what we have been doing for the past few years.
Islam's Needs -- U.S. foreign policy must consider the rights of Islamic nations to self-determination. We need to cease and desist from occupations, illegal incursions and proclamations. The United States must learn to tell the difference between religion, politics, and the tactics of terrorists.
Energy Considerations -- Decisions must not be made based upon energy dependence on Middle Eastern countries. The United States must embark on a crash program of enabling non-polluting alternative sources of energy, saving petroleum reserves for lubrication. The transition must become a national project, as World War II was a national project to which everyone contributed.
International Sensibilities -- We must humbly reconcile with the family of nations. We should ask them what kind of help would be most useful, nation by nation. And we must learn to ask for their help with our needs as well. Reciprocity would not be a bad stance, for a change.
(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)
Florida police are investigating the apparent suicide of a woman they believe to be the so-called D.C. Madam, who was found dead in the Florida mobile home of the madam's mother Thursday.
The madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey, was recently convicted on federal charges stemming from operating a prostitution service in the Washington, D.C. area with a number of high-profile clients. She was scheduled to be sentenced July 24.
Palfrey told ABC News last year she would never return to prison, after serving time in the 1990s for other prostitution-related charges. "I sure as heck am not going to be going to federal prison for one day, let alone, you know, four to eight years."
Local police responding to a call late Thursday morning discovered the woman's body in a storage shed to the side of the home, according to a statement released by the Tarpon Springs, Fla. Police. Hand-written notes were found nearby which "describes the victim's intention to take her life," according to the statement.
Nobel Peace Prize winner and international symbol of freedom Nelson Mandela is flagged on U.S. terrorist watch lists and needs special permission to visit the USA. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calls the situation "embarrassing," and some members of Congress vow to fix it.
The requirement applies to former South African leader Mandela and other members of South Africa's governing African National Congress (ANC), the once-banned anti-Apartheid organization. In the 1970s and '80s, the ANC was officially designated a terrorist group by the country's ruling white minority. Other countries, including the United States, followed suit.
A leader of the Democratic Party under Bill Clinton has switched his allegiance to Barack Obama and is encouraging fellow Democrats to "heal the rift in our party" and unite behind the Illinois senator.
Joe Andrew, who was Democratic National Committee chairman from 1999-2001, planned a news conference Thursday in his hometown of Indianapolis to urge other Hoosiers to support Obama in Tuesday's primary, perhaps the most important contest left in the White House race. He also has written a lengthy letter explaining his decision that he plans to send to other superdelegates.
"I am convinced that the primary process has devolved to the point that it's now bad for the Democratic Party," Andrew said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
Bill Clinton appointed Andrew chairman of the DNC near the end of his presidency, and Andrew endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton last year on the day she declared her candidacy for the White House.
Hillary Clinton has now joined John McCain in proposing the most irresponsible policy idea of the year—an idea that actually could aid the terrorists. What's worse, both of them know that suspending the federal gas tax this summer is a terrible pander, and yet they're pushing it anyway for crass political advantage.
Clinton and McCain have learned a destructive lesson from the Bush era: as Bill Clinton said in 2002, it's better politically to be "strong and wrong" than thoughtful and right. The goal is to depict Barack Obama as an out-of-touch elitist. By any means necessary.
I could highlight a long debate among economists on suspending the gas tax, but there is no debate. Not one respectable economist -- and not one environmentalist or foreign policy expert -- supports the idea, unless they are official members of the Clinton or McCain campaigns (and even some of them privately oppose it). To relieve suffering at the pump, send another rebate check or provide tax credits or something else, but not this.
Hillary Clinton loves to tell the story about how the Chinese government bought a good American company in Indiana, laid off all its workers and moved its critical defense technology work to China.
It's a story with a dramatic, political ending. Republican President George W. Bush could have stopped it, but he didn't.
If she were president, Clinton says, she'd fight to protect those jobs. It's just the kind of talk that's helping her win support from working-class Democrats worried about their jobs and paychecks, not to mention their country's security.
What Clinton never includes in the oft-repeated tale is the role that prominent Democrats played in selling the company and its technology to the Chinese. She never mentions that big-time Democratic contributor George Soros helped put together the deal to sell the company or that the sale was approved by her husband's administration.
As recently as December, I was agnostic about the Democratic primary. I had leaned Obama earlier in the year, but had been disappointed by his (apparent) failure to generate any kind of meaningful momentum throughout the fall. I was entirely happy with what then seemed the extreme likelihood that Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee. Over time that feeling has changed, and while I will still vote for Clinton in November if she is the nominee, I very much hope she is not. In part, this is because I have been impressed by Obama's performance, but equally it is because I have been depressed by Clinton's -- the idiotic and self-serving spin ceaselessly emanating from her campaign, the destructive post-facto lobbying to seat the Florida and Michigan delegates, and on and on. (Yes, Bill's South Carolina comments would show up on a comprehensive list of what disappointed me with his wife's candidacy, though it wouldn't be near the top.)
Yesterday, we saw a very different vision of America. I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened over the spectacle that we saw yesterday.
You know, I have been a member of Trinity United Church of Christ since 1992. I have known Reverend Wright for almost 20 years. The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago. His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church.
They certainly don't portray accurately my values and beliefs. And if Reverend Wright thinks that that's political posturing, as he put it, then he doesn't know me very well. And based on his remarks yesterday, well, I may not know him as well as I thought, either.
Now, I've already denounced the comments that had appeared in these previous sermons. As I said, I had not heard them before. And I gave him the benefit of the doubt in my speech in Philadelphia, explaining that he has done enormous good in the church. He's built a wonderful congregation. The people of Trinity are wonderful people. And what attracted me has always been their ministry's reach beyond the church walls.
But when he states and then amplifies such ridiculous propositions as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS, when he suggests that Minister Farrakhan somehow represents one of the greatest voices of the 20th and 21st century, when he equates the United States wartime efforts with terrorism, then there are no excuses. They offend me. They rightly offend all Americans. And they should be denounced. And that's what I'm doing very clearly and unequivocally here today.
"I cannot refute anything in the story," a tearful but resolute McCready told the Daily News…
"Yes, I have known Roger Clemens for a long time," McCready said, reading from a prepared statement. "He's a kind and caring man. He's also a legendary athlete."
Democrat Barack Obama dismissed his rivals' calls for national gas tax holiday as a political ploy that won't help struggling consumers. Hillary Rodham Clinton said his stance shows he's out of touch with the economic realities faced by ordinary citizens.
Clinton and certain Republican presidential nominee John McCain are calling for a holiday on collecting the federal gas tax "to get them through an election," Obama said at a campaign rally before more than 2,000 cheering backers a week before crucial primaries in Indiana and North Carolina. "The easiest thing in the world for a politician to do is tell you exactly what you want to hear."
"I've repeatedly submitted proposals to help address these problems, yet time after time Congress chose to block them,"
The Bush administration's "Four Mikes and two Roberts" deservedly draw my regular scrutiny, and that of a number of important "big" bloggers, as well as an award winning NYT reporter. Scrutiny is mostly focused on government secrecy, national security and the rule of law. Today's post is a round-up of a few of the most interesting current news items, beginning with an excellent overview of the way these three issues come together: "Subsidizing Corporate Crime & Rewarding Constitutional Abuse, posted on April 24, 2008 by "dandelionsalad."
FDL Book Salon on a fine reporter's work regarding the rule of law: "emptywheel" writes on Eric Lichtblau's book, Bush's Law: The Remaking of American Justice. To quote:
Like a lot of people, I first really discovered Eric Lichtblau when he and James Risen exposed Bush's warrantless wiretapping program. . . Lichtblau reveals many new levels of details about the Administration's repeated use of paranoid levels of secrecy to hide the dubious nature of many of its counter-terrorism programs.
The Four Mikes -- Admiral Mike McConnell is the Director of National Intelligence. Former Judge Mike Mukasey is the Attorney General. Former U.S. Attorney Michael Chertoff is the Secretary of Homeland Security. General Mike Hayden is the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The Two Roberts -- Former U.S. Attorney Robert Mueller was appointed to a 10 year term as FBI Director just a few days after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Former College President Robert Gates is the Secretary of Defense, where Douglas Feith* worked during the earlier years of the administration.
These six men hold tremendous power over us all, for both good and ill.
Mike McConnell, Director of National Intelligence -- Since the first of last year, the DNI has been leading the charge for Congress to make changes to the laws governing government spying. [Previous DNI posts: DNI also has been known to distort the truth; power to the wrong people; and a McConnell Primer on intelligence]. But not everything has gone the Director's way recently. Legislation is stalled in the House of Representatives. From TPM Muckracker comes the headline "GOP Still Pushing Retroactive Immunity for Telecoms," by Paul Kiel - April 25, 2008. One of the illegal spying cases seems to be going against the government. Wired-Threat Level headlined, "NSA-Spied-On Lawyers Get Day in Court and New Yorker Profile. Another government loss in court is reported in this story: "Court: Government Must Reveal Watch-List Status to Constantly Detained Americans," By Ryan Singel, April 24, 2008.
Mike Mukasey, Attorney General, Dept. of Justice: [Previous AG posts: Mukasey admits lie (1) also lies (2); Mukasey and the Fourth Amendment; Mukasey and wiretapping (1) also (2) also (3)]. A letter to Congress claims that intelligence operatives can still legally use prohibited interrogation methods to thwart terrorist attacks. Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com (4/27/08) discusses how Senator John McCain and the Military Commissions Act make this assertion possible. To quote:
That law pretends to compel compliance with the Conventions, while simultaneously vesting the President with the power to violate them -- precisely the power that the President is invoking here to proclaim that we have the right to use these methods.
. . . McCain supported the MCA knowing that the President retained virtually unfettered discretion to decree that the interrogation methods we were using that are widely considered in the civilized world to be torture could continue. . . despite his media-sustained reputation as a righteous, principled opponent of torture, much of these disgraces are the direct by-product of John McCain's work.
Michael Chertoff, head of Homeland Security: ". . . a fingerprint is hardly personal data" -- [Previous HSA posts: On surveillance (1); and (2); wrong people for Katrina; On torture]. Canadians seem to have a much more firm regard for civil liberties than what has emerged in the Bush administration. Chertoff wants to "share databases of international air travelers' fingerprints with the Canadians, Brits and Aussies." (Source: WaPo) At Firedoglake -- by Christy Hardin Smith (4/25/08), "Make Civil Liberties Concerns A Priority? Blame Canada!" To quote:
Poor Michael Chertoff, wanton god of safety, debonair trollop of anti-terror, and man with a mission that has no room for a regard for individual liberties and the rule of law, has run into a speed bump of sorts on his quest for power . . . Those wacky Canadians clearly didn't get the memo that staying true to your founding principles or holding fast to the rule of law and ethics are so 1776.
Michael Hayden, CIA Director: "CIA Stonewall: Agency Won’t Release 7,000 Documents Related to Torture Program" (4/27/08). Though General Hayden was the one who revealed the existence of the CIA interrogation videotapes, there is still a fierce battle to keep the torture program's details a secret. Douglas Feith had a hand in setting up the interrogation system. Berkeley is letting him go. Hayden is left with all the mess. TPM Muckracker reports, *"Feith Loses Teaching Gig," by Paul Kiel (4/24/08). (See also Think Progress on Feith's torture stance distortions.)
FBI -- Robert Mueller, Director: TPM Muckracker -- "The FBI's Hands Off Approach to Torture," by Paul Kiel (4/24/08). FBI wants widespread monitoring of "illegal" Internet activity by dandelionsalad's Anne Broache (4/25/08).
National Security does not take care of itself. Protection from attack and protection of constitutional civil liberties needs continued congressional, press and citizen scrutiny. With a concluding perspective with just a bit of helpful humor, Ryan Singel of Wired Threat Level wrote this great little story on 4/25: "Which Gov Agency Should Be Your Computer's Firewall?" To quote (Singel's links):
First the NSA says it needs to examine every search and email on the internet to prevent an e-9/11 attack, then President Bush signs a secret cyber-security Presidential Directive to make that possible, while the Air Force has set up a cyber warfare division where cyber-security is played like a game of Space Invaders.
Not to be left out on the cybarmegeddon! action, the Department of Homeland Security plans to spearhead a "Manhattan Project" attempt to secure the internet. But there's no way FBI chief Robert Mueller is gonna let DHS honcho Michael Chertoff have all the bits, so this week he told a House committee that G-Men need to be living in the tubes, too.
Trends could be improving in the civil liberties protection area. Some in Congress have dug in their heels regarding the laws. There have been some favorable court decisions. More and more secrets have been revealed. Neocons have resigned. And the cold light of day shines increasingly on the breaches and problems thrown up by the current administration. And this is the year that Democrats could get their chance at reform.
References: South by Southwest Label "Civil Liberties or security."
(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)
Roger Clemens carried on a decade-long affair with country star Mindy McCready, a romance that began when McCready was a 15-year-old aspiring singer performing in a karaoke bar and Clemens was a 28-year-old Red Sox ace and married father of two, several sources have told the Daily News.