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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Congress Seeks to Slash Food Aid for Poor - Yahoo! News

Congress Seeks to Slash Food Aid for Poor - Yahoo! News

Under orders to whittle agriculture spending by $3 billion, Republicans in Congress propose to slash food programs for the poor by $574 million and subsidies and conservation programs by $1 billion each, The Associated Press has learned.

The plan by Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., would reduce farmers' payments by 2.5 percent across the board, slashing spending by $1.145 billion over five years. That's half the 5 percent the Bush administration sought earlier this year.

The $574 million cut in food stamps would come from restricting access to this benefit for certain families that receive other government assistance. The restriction would shut an estimated 300,000 people out of the program.

Monday, September 26, 2005

CBS News says Michael Brown rehired as FEMA consultant!!!!

CBS News says Michael Brown rehired as FEMA consultant!!!!

CBS News' Bob Schieffer just announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has rehired ex-FEMA chief Michael Brown-- as a consultant to evaluate the agency's response to the disaster!

From CBS's Katrina blog: "Sept. 26, 2005 /6:44 p.m. (CBS) — CBS News correspondent Gloria Borger reports that Michael Brown, who recently resigned as the head of the FEMA, has been rehired by the agency as a consultant to evaluate it's [sic] response following Hurricane Katrina."

Homophobic Party Wins Polish Election

Homophobic Party Wins Polish Election

The conservative Law and Justice Party will control Poland's government following Sunday's election. The party won more than a quarter of the seats in Parliament and will form a coalition with other right of center parties.

During the last parliament, when the Law and Justice Party was in opposition, it battled Prime Minister Leszek Miller's Democratic Left Alliance plans to give more civil rights to gays.

Law and Justice Party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski will become Prime Minister. During the election campaign Kaczynski dismissed concerns by Polish gays that his opposition to LGBT rights is a violation of the European Unions' constitution.

Kaczynski's identical twin brother is expected to win next month's presidential election.

TIME Sunday: How many Mike Browns did Bush appoint?

TIME Sunday: How many Mike Browns did Bush appoint?

Time magazine finds 13 more "Mike Browns" in the upper echelons of government.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Bush plea for cash to rebuild Iraq raises $600

Bush plea for cash to rebuild Iraq raises $600

An extraordinary appeal to Americans from the Bush administration for money to help pay for the reconstruction of Iraq has raised only $600 (£337), The Observer has learnt. Yet since the appeal was launched earlier this month, donations to rebuild New Orleans have attracted hundreds of millions of dollars.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Frist Knew About Blind Trust Investments after he said he did not

Frist Knew About Blind Trust Investments - Yahoo! News

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., was updated several times about his investments in blind trusts during 2002, the last time two weeks before he publicly denied any knowledge of what was in the accounts, documents show.

The updates included stock transactions involving HCA Inc., the hospital operating company founded by Frist's family...

...Frist, referring to his trust and those of his family, also said in the interview, "I have no control. It is illegal right now for me to know what the composition of those trusts are. So I have no idea."

Documents filed with the Senate showed that just two weeks before those comments, the trustee of the senator's trust, M. Kirk Scobey Jr., wrote to Frist that HCA stock was contributed to the trust. It was valued at $15,000 and $50,000.

The documents filed by the trustees of Frist's blind trusts were obtained by The Associated Press on Friday....

Amid Many Fights Over Qualifications, A Bush Nomination Stalls in the Senate - New York Times

Amid Many Fights Over Qualifications, A Bush Nomination Stalls in the Senate - New York Times

Faced with accusations that the Bush administration is stocking the government with unqualified cronies, the Republican chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is holding up the nomination of a lawyer with little background in immigration or customs to head the law enforcement agency in charge of those issues...

...The homeland security chairwoman, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, says she now wants to inquire further into the qualifications of Julie L. Myers to be assistant secretary of homeland security for immigration and customs enforcement.

The senior Democrat on the Senate committee, Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, said Friday that he was not persuaded by a confirmation hearing last week that Ms. Myers, who has worked the last four years at the White House and in several agencies, satisfied the legal requirement that the official in charge of the immigration agency have at least five years' experience in law enforcement and management...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

More oil bad news: Militants storm platform

More oil bad news: Militants storm platform

More than 100 armed militants on Thursday stormed a US-operated oil platform in Nigeria, the world's eighth largest exporter, in response to the arrest of a militia leader.

Armed with assault rifles, fighters in speed boats invaded the Idama platform operated by Chevron in the southern Niger Delta, while in the capital a judge ordered Mujahid Dokubo-Asari to be held in jail for two weeks pending treason charges.

"Eight boats, each carrying 15 armed people, occupied the Idama flow station. Six government security forces had their weapons taken from them," a source close to Chevron said.

"Apparently the militants are now heading for more stations. The situation can only get worse."...

..."We are going to blow up all flow stations and pipelines from Warri to Calabar if Asari is not back in 48 hours," said Dakuro Princewill, a NDPVF commander, in reference to the eastern and western extremities of the vast wetlands region.

Hurricane Rita: 'So many people, so few buses'

Hurricane Rita: 'So many people, so few buses'

Hortense Davis is waiting at the Houston Greyhound station for a bus that may not be coming.

The 73-year-old woman called the Red Cross today to find out what she should do about the storm. She said she was told to go to the bus station and tell them she had no money and needs to get out of the city.

"But when I got here, they said they couldn't help me," she said. "So now I'm just sitting here."..

Hundreds of people packed the downtown Greyhound station tonight hoping to get a ticket to safety.

Carolyn Rivera, 62, said she bought a bus ticket to Dallas today, but when she arrived at the station she discovered all the buses were filled. So she called her daughter and the two women plan to drive to Arkansas tonight.



Bush Waives Saudi Trafficking Sanctions

Bush Waives Saudi Sex, Child Trafficking Sanctions

President Bush decided Wednesday to waive any financial sanctions on Saudi Arabia, Washington's closest Arab ally in the war on terrorism, for failing to do enough to stop the modern-day slave trade in prostitutes, child sex workers and forced laborers.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Frist Sold Family's Hospital Stock Before Price Dropped

Frist Sold Family's Hospital Stock Before Price Dropped

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a potential presidential candidate in 2008, sold all his stock in his family's hospital corporation about two weeks before it issued a disappointing earnings report and the price fell nearly 15 percent.

Frist held an undisclosed amount of stock in Hospital Corporation of America, based in Nashville, the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain. On June 13, he instructed the trustee managing the assets to sell his HCA shares and those of his wife and children, said Amy Call, a spokeswoman for Frist.

Bill Frist's father founded the Nashville hospital firm. (Charles Dharapak - AP)

Frist's shares were sold by July 1 and those of his wife and children by July 8, Call said. The trustee decided when to sell the shares, and the Tennessee Republican had no control over the exact time they were sold, she said.

[Bill, I think Martha has some tips on jail for you.]

WorldNetDaily: America's pro-homosexual giants

WorldNetDaily: America's pro-homosexual giants

Below is the list of companies scoring a perfect 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign's 2005 Corporate Quality Index, with policies beneficial toward homosexuals:


Aetna

Agilent Technologies

Alston & Bird

American Airlines

American Express

Apple Computer

AT&T

Avaya

Bausch & Lomb

Best Buy

[The list goes on to name 101 companies with a perfect "100" score. Guess the "money where your mouth is" moralists are going to have to go without a whole lot of stuff -- especially their Ford F-150's.]

Experts Say Faulty Levees Caused Much of Flooding

Experts Say Faulty Levees Caused Much of Flooding

...But with the help of complex computer models and stark visual evidence, scientists and engineers at Louisiana State University's Hurricane Center have concluded that Katrina's surges did not come close to overtopping those barriers. That would make faulty design, inadequate construction or some combination of the two the likely cause of the breaching of the floodwalls along the 17th Street and London Avenue canals -- and the flooding of most of New Orleans...

HHS Offical REASSIGNED, falsified medical credentials to get current gov job

HHS Offical REASSIGNED, falsified medical credentials to get current gov job

A high-ranking Medicare officer, whose medical license was suspended because he falsified documents concerning his continuing education, was reassigned to another government agency, officials said Tuesday...

...Tunis' medical license was suspended last May for at least a year by the Maryland Board of Physicians. The board's Web site states that it found the physician guilty of unprofessional conduct in the practice of medicine and of willfully making or filing a false report in the practice of medicine.

Tunis will now serve as a senior biomedical research scientist at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Christina Pearson, an HHS spokeswoman, said she could not discuss why a transfer was allowed because it was a personnel matter. She noted, however, that the inspector general's finding was unrelated to Tunis' job performance, which was described as stellar.

"He does have valuable experience that will be helpful," she said...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

State to hire national accounting firm and auditors to keep tabs on Katrina relief spending

State to hire national accounting firm and auditors to keep tabs on Katrina relief spending

By Ed Anderson
Capital bureau
BATON ROUGE – A national accounting firm will be hired as a financial adviser to ensure the state is properly spending federal relief money in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Tuesday night.
Blanco said an auditing company will be hired to oversee the work of the legislative auditor and the state inspector general’s office.
Blanco spokeswoman Denise Bottcher said the financial adviser may be hired within two weeks to monitor spending “on the front end.''
She did not give a timetable on hiring an auditor.
“We want to make sure that there is accountability,’’ Bottcher said.
Blanco said interviews of national firms have already started.
“We want to make sure everything is done properly,’’ Blanco said.
Blanco told reporters that state officials estimate that Louisiana coffers will lose $750 million to $1 billion in revenues from the southeastern parishes ravaged by Katrina.
“The southeast produces an extraordinary amount of revenues,’’ Blanco said...

[Good to see Louisiana put it's best foot forward on financial issues for a change.]

Oops! $1b or 100% of Iraqi Defense Budget stolen!

Oops! $1b or 100% of Iraqi Defense Budget stolen!

Large-scale corruption in Iraq's ministries, particularly the defense ministry, has led to one of the biggest thefts in history with more than $1 billion going missing, Iraq's finance minister said in an interview.

"Huge amounts of money have disappeared. In return we got nothing but scraps of metal," Finance Minister Ali Allawi told British newspaper The Independent in a report published on Monday. "It is possibly one of the largest thefts in history."...

...compared with the budget of the ministry of defense, it is nearly 100 percent of the ministry's (procurement) budget that has gone (missing)," Allawi said....

Congressional Opportunists Seize on Katrina to Allow Religious Discrimination in Head Start

Congressional Opportunists Seize on Katrina to Allow Religious Discrimination in Head Start

Today, The Interfaith Alliance alerted its members to an amendment to a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Head Start program that would allow government-funded Head Start providers to exercise religious discrimination in choosing teachers and volunteers. The School Readiness Act (H.R. 2123), is expected to be voted on by the full House of Representatives as soon as this Wednesday, September 21.

Yesterday, the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of The Interfaith Alliance, briefed Members of Congress and their staffs on the threats to religious liberty posed by the amendment, which was introduced by Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R-LA). The amendment, Gaddy said, would subsidize religious discrimination with tax dollars, turning back civil rights protections that currently apply to nearly 200,000 Head Start teachers and over 1.4 million parent volunteers.

"The levees have been broken, and the wall between church and state is cracking," warned Gaddy. "The Boustany amendment is just one example of political opportunists taking advantage of a national tragedy to institute policies that have not found enough support for passage in more normal times.

FBI Recruits Sought for Porn Squad

Recruits Sought for Porn Squad

...The new squad will divert eight agents, a supervisor and assorted support staff to gather evidence against "manufacturers and purveyors" of pornography -- not the kind exploiting children, but the kind that depicts, and is marketed to, consenting adults.

"I guess this means we've won the war on terror," said one exasperated FBI agent, speaking on the condition of anonymity because poking fun at headquarters is not regarded as career-enhancing. "We must not need any more resources for espionage."...