Saturday, April 30, 2005

NAACP: Catfight heaven?

Politics: Here's is my question, if these stories and "unprofessional" behavior hs been going on for years, why are we now hearing about it? This is going to be a pattern for the next couple of weeks as the Post must have more memos and reports it is going to release one day at a time. Someone wants Mfume to leave the Senate race badly.

New Memo Offers View Of Mfume's NAACP Altercation Described In Internal Report By Matthew Mosk and Cheryl W. Thompson Washington Post Staff Writers Saturday, April 30, 2005; B01 The screaming match between Monica McCullough and Tiffany Hawthorne at the NAACP's national headquarters in Baltimore was getting out of hand when three co-workers tried to intervene. But it was too late. McCullough had lunged over a colleague and struck Hawthorne in the face. The fight that ensued sent Hawthorne to Mercy Hospital's emergency room with swelling and bruises to her face and hands, according to her application for a protective order. The two women were granted restraining orders. The Feb. 26, 2004, altercation, described in the court document, bolsters claims in an internal NAACP report made public this week that there was a poisonous atmosphere under Kweisi Mfume's watch at the nation's oldest civil rights organization. Mfume, who stepped down as NAACP president in November and who has launched a Maryland campaign for U.S. Senate, has denied allegations in the memo that he gave preferential treatment to female employees he dated, causing unrest in the office. Mfume said he left behind an organization that was stronger and more healthy than when he arrived nine years earlier. But the emergence of the document has made plain that his campaign for the Senate will open the book on Mfume's public and private life, including the former congressman's reign at the NAACP. ...."It was an open secret that the place was just unprofessional," said Michael Meyers, who worked at the NAACP before Mfume became its president. Meyers, who is executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition, said he has been told of "a general climate of favoritism and cronyism. People were backbiting, and jockeying for position based on who knew whom, who was close to Kweisi, who was close to his son." The report was prepared for top NAACP officials last summer by Chicago labor lawyer Marcia E. Goodman, who was hired to assess the organization's legal liability involving claims of workplace discrimination by Michele Speaks, a midlevel employee in the development department. In the memo, Goodman did not try to reach a firm conclusion about the veracity of Speaks's allegations, but she determined that several claims could be "very difficult to defend persuasively" if Speaks filed a lawsuit. Taken together, the 10 allegations reviewed by Goodman portray the organization's national headquarters as the set of a soap opera, where romantic relationships, jealousy and betrayal were as much a part of daily life as fundraising, education and fighting prejudice. According to the memo, Speaks described nine women employees as "paramours" of Mfume or his son, and she alleged that those women were rewarded with promotions and raises. Goodman analyzed their salaries and believed that several of the women identified by Speaks advanced faster, with higher pay, than others in the office.

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Ken Salazar "apology" is just as bad.

Politics: Democrat Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado said he was sorry for calling a Christian group the Anti_Christ.

Washington - Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar said Wednesday that he regretted calling Focus on the Family "the anti-Christ," saying he had misspoken. Salazar uttered the theological term, popularized in the 1970s movie "The Omen," in an interview with a Colorado Springs television station about his war of words with the conservative Christian group. "From my point of view, they are the anti-Christ of the world," Salazar told the station. Salazar, a first-term Democrat, said he was intending to call the Colorado Springs group "un-Christian," a term he began applying last week after Focus attacked his stance on judicial nominations in the Senate. "I spoke about Jim Dobson and his efforts and used the term 'the anti-Christ,"' Salazar said in a written statement from his office. "I regret having used that term. I meant to say this approach was un-Christian, meaning self-serving and selfish."
This would be like someone calling me a N****R, getting called on it and saying he was sorry because what he meant to say was house negro.

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Friday, April 29, 2005

UN says you can't call investigators who quit on us.

UN: Well, this is amusing, wonder what do they have to say that Volcker is calling up people saying they can't talk to them.

WASHINGTON — Paul Volcker (search), the man tasked with leading the U.N.-approved investigation into the Oil-for-Food program, has told key American lawmakers that Congress cannot subpoena two of his former investigators, FOX News has learned. Volcker called the chairmen of at least three congressional committees looking into the $64 billion Oil-for-Food (search) program Thursday and told them the investigators, who resigned two weeks ago, have diplomatic immunity and therefore cannot be called to testify before their panels. A spokesman for Volcker confirmed the calls. "It was a courtesy call, not a command. To subpoena investigators would harm the integrity of the investigation,” the spokesman said. Several congressional committees want to subpoena Parton and Duncan to testify about what they know, and lawmakers are now angry over Volcker’s decision to invoke diplomatic immunity for the two. Privately, congressional sources told FOX News that they believe Volcker is terrified of the damage the investigators' testimony could do to his credibility. Publicly, there is a more diplomatic stance from a spokesman for Rep. Henry Hyde (search), R-Ill., chairman of the House International Relations Committee. Hyde's spokesman said the issues of confidentiality and immunity were raised in the phone conversation between Volcker and Hyde. “The issue of access to current and former U.N. staff is not settled,” the spokesman said. Rep. Chris Shays (search), R-Conn., chairman of a House Government Reform subcommittee, told FOX News that his panel is consulting with legal counsel about how to proceed. "This lack of transparency is part of the problem,” Shays said. U.N. experts said the showdown between Volcker and Congress will be critical. “It's also being pointed out that if Mr. Volcker is asserting that his team has U.N. diplomatic immunity, then he is admitting that his committee is not in fact independent but a part of the very organization it is supposed to be objectively investigating,” said Nile Gardiner of the Heritage Foundation.

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Maybe not all of the EU is under a cloud.

EU: Eastern Europe seems to be doing gangbusters.

AROUND Tallinn, the Estonian capital, smart houses are sprouting amid an unprecedented rise in construction. People drive expensive cars. This is a boom town, not a depressed former Soviet city. Foreign investment is pouring into a low-tax economy that grew at 6.2 per cent last year. But even that left Estonia the slowest of the three Baltic Tigers: Lithuania grew at 6.7 per cent and Latvia at 8.5 per cent — as much growth in one year as the EU achieved in the previous five. Unemployment is falling fast. .....Just a month after enlargement the new Eastern European states joined Britain and Italy in rejecting Guy Verhofstadt, the Belgian Prime Minister and Franco-German candidate for European Commission president. Instead they installed José Manuel Barroso, the Prime Minister of Portugal and an economic liberal. France and Germany initially responded to the threat of low-cost, low-tax competition from the East by demanding tax harmonisation. But they have been forced to retreat, and Germany and Austria have started cutting taxes. “The new members are setting a very good example. We want a dynamic Europe. France and Germany will have to reform their labour markets in the face of competition from the East,” Mr MacShane said. The new states, refusing to be bullied, have also transformed EU foreign policy. Poland and Lithuania demanded EU support for Ukraine’s pro-Western Orange Revolution, sidelining France and Germany. They have fostered a more pro-American agenda, countering the French desire to make the EU a counter- balancing power to the US.

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Europe economy officially heading south.

EU: Unemployment up in France, business and consumer confidence down all over the place. This does not help the EU Constitution vote coming up in May.

April 29 (Bloomberg) -- European business confidence dropped to a 19-month low, French unemployment rose to the highest in more than five years and the German government cut its growth forecast as the region's economic outlook deteriorates. An index gauging confidence among 35,000 executives fell to minus 9 this month from minus 8 in March, the European Commission said in Brussels today. France's jobless rate rose to 10.2 percent in March, the Labor Ministry said in Paris. Germany cut its estimate of 2005 growth to 1 percent from 1.6 percent. ``There's a new economic slowdown in France and in Europe, which has been exacerbated by oil prices,'' said Amelie Derambure, an economist at Credit Agricole SA in Paris. ``We can see that the dynamic of growth to come will be too weak to prompt job creation and that spending will be below what could be expected.''

The reduction in the German growth forecast comes three weeks before Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder faces a regional election in North Rhine-Westphalia, the country's most populous state. Support for his Social Democratic Party fell 1 percentage point to 34 percent, according to an April 26 poll by Emnid of 1,000 adults, which would be the party's worst result in that state.

In France, rising unemployment and slowing growth are hampering President Jacques Chirac's efforts to persuade voters to back a new European constitution in a May 29 referendum. Confidence in Chirac fell to the lowest since he was re-elected in 2002, a survey by the CSA polling company showed yesterday.

``Pressure on lawmakers will further increase,'' said Janwillem Acket, chief economist at Julius Baer Holding AG in Zurich. ``Germany, Italy and France all have a miffed population because of sluggish growth.''

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Kweisi Mfume gets cold shoulder from Dems

Politics: It seems the Maryland Dems are not so pleased with a black man running for the Senate and charges are flying there is a smear campaign going on. It would explain the Washington Post story that came out on Mfume. I'm wondering if this is resentment that he advocated a more moderate position in dealing with the GOP? Democrats hate it when us black folk start thinking for ourselves and leave the "plantation."

ANNAPOLIS -- Six weeks into Kweisi Mfume's campaign for the U.S. Senate, Democrats here and nationally believe the former congressman from Baltimore is being shoved aside or written off by powerful forces within the state party. Many Maryland Democrats -- black and white -- are shying away from Mfume's candidacy and privately criticizing his campaign for not being well-organized. Critics say his troubled childhood as a street hustler in Baltimore, followed by controversial new allegations about his tenure as the president of the national NAACP, will make him a liability in a statewide campaign. On Thursday, The Washington Post reported that a confidential NAACP report detailed allegations that Mfume gave raises and promotions to women with whom he had close personal relationships while he was president of the civil rights organization. Mfume's supporters noted the story broke one day after U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin of Baltimore announced his candidacy for the Senate. They said the timing is indicative of the efforts to sink Mfume's campaign. ....

In an interview Tuesday night, Mfume, 56, talked at length about the need for diversity at the top of the Democratic ticket in 2006. He said African Americans are still angry that the party's 2002 nominee for governor, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, passed over several qualified black candidates in favor of a white former Republican.

"One would think that there would be some type of effort by the Democratic Party to put together a diversified ticket to reflect the state we live in," Mfume said. He emphasized that he was not talking about himself necessarily, but he said 2006 provides an opportunity for the party to redeem itself.

"There are lessons to be learned from three years ago," Mfume said. "I'm hoping the party does not miss a great opportunity to broaden the Democratic tent and demonstrate evidence of inclusion."

That message has been trumpeted from some powerful voices in the national Democratic Party. Republicans, meanwhile, have used the backlash from 2002 as a wedge in the hopes that African-American voters in Maryland begin trending toward Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, the leading GOP Senate hopeful. Steele is the first African American elected to statewide office in Maryland.

"The Maryland Democratic Party has never, ever nominated an African American for statewide office," said Kevin Igoe, a GOP consultant and former executive director of the Maryland Republican Party. "Instead of backing Mfume, a very well-qualified African American, the white power structure within the party is lining up to defeat him."

Donna Brazile, manager of Al Gore's presidential campaign in 2000, said in a well-publicized column in Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, that Mfume's candidacy should be embraced by the Maryland Democratic establishment. She warned of a backlash if Mfume's candidacy is being thwarted, and said that Democrats could pay the price at the ballot box with low African-American turnout.

Brazile wrote that Mfume could be as much a Democratic superstar as Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and should be supported "to demonstrate our commitment to inclusion ... before it's too late."

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Africa just keeps shooting itself in the foot

Africa: or the African states have sick sense of humor.

ZIMBABWE has been re-elected to the UN Human Rights Commission, a controversial body that UN secretary-general Kofi Annan wants to abolish this year. Four vacancies on the 53-nation commission were allotted for Africa, and there was African consensus to award one of the slots to Zimbabwe — whose leader Robert Mugabe is under US and European sanctions.
Disgraceful.

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UK: Designer babies are a-okay.

Medical: The question I have is if the embryo is not compatible, are they going to keep it or chuck it? No slippery slope happening here right?

A husband and wife who want to create a "designer baby" to cure their seriously ill son were given the go ahead yesterday in a ruling by the House of Lords. Five law lords ruled unanimously that a technique to test whether an embryo will grow into a child whose tissue will match that of a brother or sister was lawful. The case was a victory for Raj and Shahana Hashmi, from Leeds, who won an appeal in 2003 allowing them to create a donor sibling for their six-year-old son, Zain, who suffers from beta thalassaemia major, a rare blood disorder. They hope that stem cells from a new baby's umbilical cord will cure Zain, who has painful blood transfusions every three to four weeks and drugs from a drip for 12 hours, five nights a week. The Court of Appeal ruled two years ago that the Hashmis could use pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to test whether embryos are healthy, and tissue typing to ensure that cells from their next child's umbilical cord were compatible with those of their son. ....Mrs Hashmi, 41, said after the hearing that she was delighted with the ruling. "It's nice to know that society has now embraced the technology to cure the sick and take away the pain," she said. "It has been a long and hard battle for all the family and we have finally heard the news we wanted to hear. We feel this ruling marks a new era." Mrs Hashmi had twice conceived naturally in the hope of giving birth to a child whose umbilical blood could provide stem cells for Zain. On the first attempt the foetus was found to have beta thalassaemia major and she had an abortion. On the second occasion she gave birth to a child whose tissue turned out not to be compatible Alison Murdoch, the chairman of the British Fertility Society, said: "For any parents to go through what the Hashmis have been through to help their sick child proves they are wonderful parents. "Therefore, the state should back out of this and leave these decisions to the people best able to make them - the families and their doctors." A spokesman for the HFEA said: "We are pleased with the clarity that this ruling brings for patients. The HFEA will continue to consider licences for pre-implantation genetic testing including tissue testing. We will grant these where it can be shown to be necessary and desirable in providing treatment." But Life, the pro-life charity, said it was saddened by the decision to give the go ahead to produce "designer babies" to cure sick siblings. "We have every sympathy for parents of children with serious conditions and understand their desperation to find a cure but the creation of a human being to "fix" another is unjustifiable," said a spokesman."

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France: Screw the old people, gimme my holiday!

France: This is so cold, but to be expected.

Two years ago, the French were horrified when thousands of elderly and infirm people died in a summer heatwave. But give up a bank holiday to make sure it does not happen again? Not likely. An increasingly embarrassed government faces mass revolt, and possible court proceedings, over a law passed last June that aims to fund better care for the aged and disabled by asking the nation to go to work on Whit Monday. The law followed an appeal to France's "fraternity and responsibility" by Mr Raffarin after the two-week heatwave, which killed more than 15,000 people. The extra €2bn (£1.4bn) in social security contributions and taxes raised by the May 16 National Solidarity Day is to go to a new fund for the vulnerable. The plan to give up one of France's 13 bank holidays was at first greeted with widespread approval. Ernest-Antoine Seilliere of the French employers' federation, hailed "a great novelty in France - the belief that problems can be solved by working harder". But the enthusiasm has worn off. CFTC, the trade union federation, said the project amounted to "forced labour" and contravened the European convention on human rights. It has called for it to be scrapped and said it would take the matter to the European court. Several other unions have called strikes for May 16, and a number of Socialist-led regional and city councils are maintaining May 16 as a bank holiday, prompting one cabinet minister to criticise the "egocentricity" of those who "are all for solidarity in theory, but when it comes down to it don't want to know".

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

New Orleans police meet the dregs of society.

Crime: The fact he said what he said, any police brutality would be welcomed, along with the asses who agreed with him.

For much of a public hearing Wednesday night on discrimination in New Orleans, the city's police force was a whipping boy. Several speakers said the force has failed to discipline its own, and that black residents are too often stereotyped as criminals by police officers who harass them. For most of the meeting, New Orleans Police Superintendent Eddie Compass sat stone-faced, but when Salaam Jihad took the microphone, his remarks proved too much for the chief. Clad in camouflage fatigues and a T-shirt showcasing iconic Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara, Jihad said he had been the victim of police brutality in 1997, and he claimed Police Department brass failed to investigate the incident seriously. If he found himself in the same situation again, Jihad said he would "march into the 2nd District with a gun and open fire on everyone I see. I'll die like a man." When a few crowd members murmured their approval, a disgusted Compass grabbed a microphone on the table in front of him. "I'm going to say something here," he said, his face twisted with disgust. "This guy is talking about killing police officers and you are applauding him." "You kill people, too!" shouted a handful in the audience. ...Compass and his top lieutenants showed little emotion when taunted directly by speakers, who were each allotted three minutes but sometimes spilled over their given time. As he got up to leave the meeting in Dillard's Lawless Chapel, Compass grimaced when asked if he thought the meeting was worthwhile. Outside, he confronted Jihad again and told him he was "delusional." Jihad insisted he was neither advocating violence in general nor encouraging African-Americans to take up arms against the NOPD. He said his remarks were strictly personal, and that Compass had misinterpreted them.

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AP mourns lack of Sunni representation in new government.

Iraq: Lee Keath with this amusing opening lead that is true only if you are on LSD.

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - In the end it was the demands of hard politics that kept most minority Sunnis out of Iraq's new government. And that could spur an escalation in the country's bloody insurgency. Despite U.S. pressure and their own recognition that it was a priority, Iraqi politicians failed to name a significant number of Sunni Arabs to the Cabinet. Those who were selected are not major figures in the Sunni community and none received high-profile portfolios.
As much as the Sunnis would like a do-over. They are the cause of their low representation in the new Iraqi government.
Guardian: "Sunnis admit poll boycott blunder and ask to share power Rory Carroll in Baghdad Tuesday February 15, 2005 The Guardian Iraq's Arab Sunnis will do a U-turn and join the political process despite their lack of representation in the newly elected national assembly, Sunni leaders said yesterday. Many Sunnis protested that the election was flawed and unfair, but in the wake of Sunday's results, which confirmed the marginalisation of what was Iraq's ruling class, their political parties want to lobby for a share of power. "Our view is that this election was a step towards democracy and ending the occupation," said Ayad al-Samaray, the assistant general secretary of the Iraqi Islamic party. He said unnamed Sunni leaders blundered in depicting the election as a deepening of the occupation. The insurgency ravaging Iraq is based in Sunni areas, and there were fears that the violence would escalate if the once-dominant minority was further alienated. A call by clerics for a boycott, and threats by insurgents meant very few Sunnis voted in the January 30 poll."

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Punching newborn baby to death gets you no jail time.

Australia: Justice Bernard Bongiorno tells all who disagree with him, you don't know nothing.

A schoolgirl who secretly carried her baby to full term and then punched it to death moments after giving birth feared losing her parents' respect after becoming pregnant, a court was told. Lauren Jayne Curnow, who had pleaded guilty to one count of infanticide, was a 17-year-old secondary school student at the time of the killing and never told her family or friends after she became pregnant to her boyfriend, the Victoria Supreme Court was told. Justice Bernard Bongiorno sentenced her to a three-year good behaviour bond and ordered her to undertake counselling and other treatment under the directions of her psychologist. ...Judge Bongiorno said some people who did not know all the facts of the case may believe the sentence did not punish Curnow, but he said he did not believe she should go to jail. "I am satisfied that the interest of the community and particularly the interest of you are best served by you becoming a useful member of society, certainly not by going to jail," he said. "(Your) punishment could be served without you having to serve more time in jail."
Kill a baby, no jail time only counseling, now why would people believe she got away with murder?

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Muslim leader sorry for rape slur..somewhat

Australia: This is a fine non-apology apology, I still haven't seen any evidence that the people at this meeting were the ones who were outraged and blew the whistle on this slime. I guess that say a lot about the audience.

Sheik Mohamad, 34, has admitted to telling a lecture in Bankstown, in Sydney's south west, that women who wore skimpy clothing encouraged men to rape them. NSW Premier Bob Carr condemned the religious leader's comments and said he would approach the Community Relations Commission to provide him counselling. But the sheik backed away from his earlier comments, claiming he had been misunderstood and had made a mistake. "I know I said something not thinking at that time. However, with all honesty from the depths of my heart I never meant it like this," Sheik Mohamad told the Ten network. "Maybe I should have said it another way meaning they are attracting to themselves and are partly to blame but not fully to blame."

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Jack Layton: Paul Martin screwed me.

Canada: Layton doesn't seem to be the sharpest knife in the kitchen.

LONDON, Ont. -- New Democrat Leader Jack Layton accused Prime Minister Paul Martin on Wednesday of playing games before the ink on their new $4.6-billion budget deal is even dry. Layton, who persuaded Martin to excise billions in corporate tax cuts from his federal budget and replace it with $4.6 billion worth of social spending, said he was upset when he heard Martin planned to proceed with the cuts in a separate piece of legislation. "He's either fooling around with Canadians again or it's an admission they didn't know how to count our dollars," Layton said after meeting supporters in London, Ont. "It really strikes me as game-playing. He's once again trying to please absolutely everybody with promises that he's probably not going to be able to keep." ....Layton conceded he can't hold Martin to honouring the promises made in the deal. "I don't know what assurances he can give me about the far distant future," he said. "He's tried to assure Canadians on many things and he always breaks those promises, so, we shall see."
The bright side to this is that now everyone knows Layton is a whore, an expensive not too bright whore, but a whore all the same.

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Toronto Star in full liberal propaganda mode.

Canada: This is full Pravda mode here.

"The first thing Canadians should consider in assessing the $4.6 billion agreement reached by Prime Minister Paul Martin and New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton in an attempt to stave off a snap election is not the political issues at play, but rather the makeup of the package of new initiatives at the heart of this controversial deal"
It gets better as you read the whole thing. All criminality is pushed to the side in a way not even a banana republic could do with a straight face.

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NYTimes speaks, Katie Couric goes on charm offensive

Media: When the Nytimes takes apart one of their own liberal elites, that's a sign to get back into shape. That means running to the Larry King of print media, USAToday which runs not one but two articles on the ratings war between Today show and GMA. The problem is Katie Couric, not some producer who had to fall on the sword and people seem to have caught on.

(Viewer perceptions of personalities — so-called Q scores, performed by TVQ Evaluations, Inc. — show that Couric and Sawyer share the same high negatives: 16% of viewers rate both women "fair or poor," compared with 11% for Lauer and 8% for Gibson. But in terms of positives, 16% of viewers say Sawyer is "one of my favorites," compared with 12% for Couric and Lauer and 9% for Gibson.) In an e-mail, reader Bill Kauzlarich of Farmington, Ill., wrote, "I'm a big fan of Katie (love those legs and heels), but she sure seems full of herself." Monday, in a letter to USA TODAY, Mokhtar and Sohair Hamada of St. Louis asked whether Touchet was the problem or whether Couric had made viewers such as themselves switch to GMA. "Is it the producer whose name and face we have never seen on the Today show, or is it the lead anchor Katie Couric? Or is it both?" they asked. Shirley White of Birmingham, Mich., wrote: "Katie's style has evolved into a know-it-all interviewer who constantly speaks over her guests and at times comes off abrasive."

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Tom Cruise dating Katie Holmes

People: Odd pairing, not because of age, but it's Cruise and Katie Holmes. I feel bad for Chris Klein, you get dumped after five years and then find out your ex is dating Tom Cruise. That cannot work well for the ego.

"Cruise, 42, and Holmes, 26, have been dating a few weeks, Cruise's publicist and sister, Lee Anne DeVette, said Wednesday. The pair were photographed this week together in Rome, Italy, where Cruise on Friday will receive a lifetime achievement award at the Italian equivalent of the Academy Awards, the David di Donatello Awards. Holmes' public relations firm -- Baker Winokur Ryder -- confirmed the two were dating. Both actors have had high-profile relationships. Cruise's first two marriages, to actresses Mimi Rogers and Nicole Kidman, ended in divorce. He was dating actress Penelope Cruz until the pair split last year. Holmes and actor Chris Klein recently called off their engagement after dating five years."

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Iran now calling the shots in E-3 nuke talks.

Iran: Remember that Newsweek story where Jack Straw talked about Bolton being too tough on Iran and Powell said to get a different view who would be softer? Since that point it has become even worse for the E-3 and now it has hit the motherlode of ineptitude.

Reuters: VIENNA, April 27 (Reuters) - Iran is ratcheting up the pressure on EU giants France, Britain and Germany to accept its plan to join the world's nuclear club, European diplomats said on Wednesday. Sharing Washington's suspicions that Iran is trying to develop the capability to produce atomic weapons, the European Union has demanded that Iran give up its nuclear fuel programme in exchange for economic and political incentives. Iran, which insists its nuclear ambitions are limited to the peaceful generation of electricity, says uranium enrichment is a sovereign right it will never renounce. Four months of talks have not changed Tehran's position. Iran has taken the offensive in the talks, diplomats said. "We are on the defensive now," a diplomat from one of the EU trio countries said about the next round of talks in London on Friday. "We are no longer talking about cessation (of uranium enrichment) but exclusively about the Iranian proposal." He said there would be no breakthroughs at Friday's meeting though it might result in a flood of angry rhetoric from Iran, which would not get any definite response from the Europeans."
This is like Alex Smith and the San Francisco Forty Niners trying to reach a contract deal to get him into camp, he holds out and a month later he is somehow close to owning the team. I knew the E-3 would screws up the talks, but I never thought it would reach to this level of incompetence.

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Kweisi Mfume accused of favoritism and sexual harassment.

Politics: Unless this goes to court, I don't see this being a burden on Mfume, though it explains wy he upped and left so suddenly.

"Allegations detailed in a confidential NAACP report claim that Kweisi Mfume gave raises and promotions to women with whom he had close personal relationships while he was president of the nation's oldest civil rights organization. The 22-page memorandum, prepared last summer by an outside lawyer, did not accept as true the claims lodged against Mfume by a female employee but determined that they could be "very difficult to defend persuasively" if she filed a lawsuit. ....The NAACP hired Marcia E. Goodman, a Chicago employment lawyer, to analyze Speaks's allegations. In the memo, Goodman concluded that some of Speaks's claims -- including an assertion that Mfume "touched her on the hip" -- largely amounted to a "he said-she said" dispute. But Goodman wrote that others were more problematic. Speaks could mount a credible claim of workplace harassment because of "the impression [that was] created that a woman must provide sexual favors to Mr. Mfume or his associates in order to receive favorable treatment in the workplace," the lawyer wrote in the memo."

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German unemployment falls, people go meh.

Germany: I don't think people will be touting these numbers as anything special.

April 28 (Bloomberg) -- German unemployment fell for the first time in 15 months as warmer weather in April led to more people taking seasonal outdoor jobs and claimants who don't qualify for jobless benefits came off the register. The number out of work in Germany, Europe's largest economy, fell by 79,000, adjusted for seasonal swings, to 4.89 million, the Nuremberg-based Federal Labor Agency said today. Economists expected the total to rise 10,000, the median of 37 forecasts in a Bloomberg survey showed. The jobless rate declined to 11.8 percent from 12 percent, a post-World War II record, in March. ``I don't see that the underlying trends have changed'' in today's unemployment figures, said Juergen Michels, an economist at Citigroup Global Markets in London. ``We only see a correction of earlier distortions to the upside. We're still far away from a trend change in the labor market.''
Wait, someone is touting the numbers, not that anyone believes him.
"The labor agency said April's decline was helped by the fact that new applications for jobless benefits under the reformed system _ aimed at encouraging the long-term unemployed to find work and ultimately reducing unemployment figures _ tailed off. "The job market is on its way to recovery," Economics and Labor Minister Wolfgang Clement said. "I said at the beginning of this month that unemployment would fall below the 5 million mark this spring and not exceed it again, and I am pleased ... that this has already happened." However, the head of Germany's Ifo economic think tank cautioned that the improvement was purely seasonal and "has nothing to do a longer-term development." The numbers will keep dropping until September and "then they will go up again," Hans-Werner Sinn told ZDF television."

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Ex French Minister probed over UN oil for food, adviser arrested.

UN: Things are getting better and better.

Charles Pasqua, a former French minister of interior, has emerged as one of the highest-ranking targets of the widening investigations into the Iraq oil-for-food scandal. United Nations, US and French investigators are examining Iraqi documents that show officials in Baghdad were instructed to transfer his lucrative oil allocations to an offshore company, to shield him from criticism. Mr Pasqua's alleged role has emerged as inquiries turn to the role of foreign governments in the corruption within the humanitarian aid programme. France and Russia, which opposed the 2003 invasion, have long been accused in the US of being too close to Saddam Hussein's regime. Early on Tuesday, Bernard Guillet, Mr Pasqua's diplomatic adviser, was arrested at home in Paris in connection with the oil-for-food inquiry, on the orders of Philippe Courroye, a French investigative judge. Mr Guillet was yesterday in police custody.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Paul Martin says corporate taxes are still on the table.

Canada: The man doesn't give a damn anymore.

OTTAWA (CP) - Prime Minister Paul Martin says he will push ahead with tax cuts for big corporations despite his budget deal with the NDP - provided the Conservatives support the move. It appears to be an effort to paint the Tories into a tight political corner so that the Liberals can blame them for blocking the tax cuts if they bring down the government. "We have pulled the large corporate tax cuts out of this budget to be pursued in a separate piece of legislation," Martin told The Canadian Press in an interview Wednesday. ...Conservative officials were flabbergasted by the prime minister's offer. "The (budget) yard sale continues," said party spokesman Geoff Norquay. Martin's new promise appeared to fly in the face of a deal Martin agreed to on Tuesday with NDP Leader Jack Layton. In return for the NDP's support on a budget vote, the minority Liberals agreed to delay promised tax breaks for big companies in favour of $4.6 billion in additional social spending over the next two years.

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Press is full of it, but people trust and respect them. buh?

Media: How many ways does this not make sense.

A national survey conducted by the Missouri School of Journalism's Center for Advanced Social Research found 62 percent consider journalism credible and more than half rated newspapers and television news as trustworthy. At the same time, 85 percent said they detect a bias in news reporting. Of those, 48 percent identified it as liberal, 30 percent as conservative, 12 percent as both, and 3 percent as other bias. About two-thirds said journalists invade people's privacy too often, while roughly three-quarters said the news is too negative. "The consumers of American journalism respect, value and need it, but they're also skeptical about whether journalists really live up to the standards of accuracy, fairness and respect for others that we profess," said George Kennedy, a Missouri journalism professor and co-author of a study that incorporates the survey results.

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Volcker: Kofi Annan is not cleared.

UN: Kofi's lawyer also said that people misunderstood Kofi when he said he was cleared of charges. This is not good.

"...In the letter obtained Tuesday, Craig included a transcript of Annan's March 29 comments to the media. He stressed that when Annan said he was exonerated, he was only referring to the charge that he had meddled in the awarding of the Cotecna contract. "I respectfully submit that his use of that word with respect to that particular finding should cause no fair-minded person any discomfort," Craig wrote. Annan's statement, seemingly innocuous at the time, has touched off a firestorm of controversy and become the focus of intense criticism. It has consumed headlines at the United Nations, drawing attention away from sweeping proposals Annan has made to reform the United Nations. Some critics, particularly Republicans in the U.S. Senate, have demanded Annan step down and say he is trying to escape culpability in the scandal surrounding oil for food, the $64 billion program which was meant to help ordinary Iraqis suffering under U.N. sanctions. Volcker himself told Fox News in an interview that aired Tuesday, a week after the letter was sent, that exoneration was not the word he would have used in describing the report's findings on Annan. Committee spokesman Mike Holtzman said that while the report cleared Annan of the first charge, "there's a distinction here that got lost." "While the secretary-general clearly was exonerated on one point, the findings with respect to his conduct of an investigation into his son's involvement were severe," he said.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Gay club discriminates against Blacks.

Culture: Can a brother catch a break? Damn!

A bar owner in the predominantly gay Castro neighborhood violated numerous city civil rights codes by discriminating against black patrons, the San Francisco Human Rights Commission announced Tuesday. The case has been closely watched by the city's gay community, many of whom said they were incredulous that an establishment in what's considered one of the country's most progressive and socially liberal neighborhoods would actively keep black customers out of the popular nightspot Badlands. In particular, the commission said club owner Les Natali referred to blacks as "non-Badlands customers" who should be discouraged from patronizing the club. "The Castro should be a place of homecoming for gays worldwide and this was a betrayal of everything this community stands for," said Don Romesburg, organizer for the community group And Castro For All, which filed the complaint. "That's why it's so important that we hold them accountable."

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Paul Martin deal with NPD is worth $4.6 Billion dollars

Canada: I never knew you could legally buy a party off after it is revealed you are corrupt, but Jack Layton and Paul Martin did it. Its not about Canada anymore, its about saving the Liberal party, be happy Canadians.

Those two parties look set to try to topple Martin next month and force a June 27 election, either by defeating the budget or by passing a non-confidence motion over alleged Liberal corruption. "My first response is that Mr. Martin and Mr. Layton think C$4.6 billion of taxpayers' money is the price to make corruption go away, but I wonder if the taxpayers of Canada are going to think the same thing," Harper said during a campaign-style tour of vote-rich Ontario. Layton said he would now not back a motion of non-confidence in the government at least until the budget had been approved. Parliament is due to start discussing the budget next month, but it was not clear when a vote would be held. "I know people will say Mr. Layton really likes corruption (by not supporting a non-confidence motion)," Layton told a news conference. "That's absolutely ridiculous." BUSINESS CALLS DEAL "EGREGIOUS" Canadian business immediately panned the budget deal. "It is an egregious move on the part of the government to take promised corporate tax relief out of the budget in the hopes of getting the budget passed," said Canadian Chamber of Commerce President Nancy Hughes Anthony. The problem for Martin is that even if he clinches the deal with the New Democrats, the two parties combined would have only 151 seats in the 308-seat elected House of Commons. One of those, the Liberal speaker, votes only to break a tie.

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Republicans More Confident Bolton Will Be Confirmed

Politics: Considering his main accuser has turned out to be a plagiarizer, I would say so. But this part of the article is funny.

The eight Democrats on the committee plan to vote against Bolton. Opposition from just one of the 10 Republicans would result in a tie that could prevent the nomination from going forward for a vote in the full Senate. ....But with more than two weeks to go until the committee vote, Democrats said such confidence might be premature. "This phase of the process is just beginning now. I don't know why anybody would have their minds made up before the facts are in," said Norm Kurz, spokesman for Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, top Democrat on the committee.
Hell, they made up their minds before hearings even started.

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Kingdom of Heaven nothing more than PC propaganda?

Media: Nice to see Ridley Scott takes the Crusades and turns it into PC liberal nonsense to be "fair." Going by the review of the Telegraph of India, Scott did a bangup job with the White Christians evil and Muslims all good guys which is about as dishonest as you can get with the Crusades. Both sides were cruel to each other and fought like crazy because they both believed they were right. But he takes it and turns it into garbage.

Telegraph India: "Well, the movie is not meant to show that Christians and Muslims have been at one another’s throats for centuries. Rather, by dwelling on the extended, turbulent holy war known as the Crusades, Ridley said he hoped to demonstrate that Christians, Muslims and Jews could live together in harmony — if only fanaticism were kept at bay. To that end, for all the furious battle scenes in Kingdom of Heaven, Scott and screenwriter, William Monahan, have tried to be balanced. Muslims are portrayed as bent on coexistence until Christian extremists ruin everything. And even when the Christians are defeated, the Muslims give them safe passage to Europe. “It’s actually about doing the right thing,” said Scott, 67, whose screen combat experience includes directing 1492: Conquest of Paradise, Black Hawk Down and Gladiator. “I know that sounds incredibly simplistic. It’s about temptation and avoiding temptation. It’s about ethics. It’s about going to war over passion and idealism. Idealism is great if it’s balanced and humanitarian.” "The facts are that during a period of relative peace, Baldwin IV, the young king of Jerusalem, again opened the city to all faiths. But after his death in 1185, militant Knights Templar began attacking Muslim desert convoys. In response, the legendary Muslim warrior Saladin, leading an army of 200,000, laid siege to Jerusalem. Balian of Ibelin, the Christian knight who surrendered the city on October 2, 1187, is the movie’s hero. Little is known about the real Balian. Played by British actor Orlando Bloom, Balian is handsome, loyal, brave and the perfect match for King Baldwin’s stunning sister, Sybilla, played by French actor Eva Green (The Dreamers). Their clandestine love blossoms, but everything else soon falls apart. In the final confrontation with Saladin, played by veteran Syrian actor Ghassan Massoud, Balian gives up, as huge boulders and balls of fire batter the walls of Jerusalem. “He ultimately surrenders Jerusalem to Saladin to save the lives of the people,” said Bloom, 28. “The conduct of the knight is: be brave that God may help thee; speak the truth even if it leads to your death; and safeguard the helpless. That is the oath, and he follows it to the bitter end.” Still, there is a political message, one that Green, 24, interpreted with characteristic French directness. “It’s a movie with substance. It’s very clever and brave, and I hope it will wake up people in America.” To what? “To be more tolerant, more open towards the Arab people,” she said. Well, it wasn’t exactly what Scott had in mind, but why not?
Actually that is not what Scott had in mind as noted last year by the Daily Telegraph where he got ripped apart by historians who said his movie is full of it.
Daily Telegraph(1/18/04): Sir Ridley Scott, the Oscar-nominated director, was savaged by senior British academics last night over his forthcoming film which they say "distorts" the history of the Crusades to portray Arabs in a favourable light. The £75 million film, which stars Orlando Bloom, Jeremy Irons and Liam Neeson, is described by the makers as being "historically accurate" and designed to be "a fascinating history lesson". Academics, however - including Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith, Britain's leading authority on the Crusades - attacked the plot of Kingdom of Heaven, describing it as "rubbish", "ridiculous", "complete fiction" and "dangerous to Arab relations". ....The Knights Templar, the warrior monks, are portrayed as "the baddies" while Saladin, the Muslim leader, is a "a hero of the piece", Sir Ridley's spokesman said. "At the end of our picture, our heroes defend the Muslims, which was historically correct." Prof Riley-Smith, who is Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Cambridge University, said the plot was "complete and utter nonsense". He said that it relied on the romanticised view of the Crusades propagated by Sir Walter Scott in his book The Talisman, published in 1825 and now discredited by academics. "It sounds absolute balls. It's rubbish. It's not historically accurate at all. They refer to The Talisman, which depicts the Muslims as sophisticated and civilised, and the Crusaders are all brutes and barbarians. It has nothing to do with reality." Prof Riley-Smith added: "Guy of Lusignan lost the Battle of Hattin against Saladin, yes, but he wasn't any badder or better than anyone else. There was never a confraternity of Muslims, Jews and Christians. That is utter nonsense." Dr Jonathan Philips, a lecturer in history at London University and author of The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople, agreed that the film relied on an outdated portrayal of the Crusades and could not be described as "a history lesson". He said: "The Templars as 'baddies' is only sustainable from the Muslim perspective, and 'baddies' is the wrong way to show it anyway. They are the biggest threat to the Muslims and many end up being killed because their sworn vocation is to defend the Holy Land." Dr Philips said that by venerating Saladin, who was largely ignored by Arab history until he was reinvented by romantic historians in the 19th century, Sir Ridley was following both Saddam Hussein and Hafez Assad, the former Syrian dictator. Both leaders commissioned huge portraits and statues of Saladin, who was actually a Kurd, to bolster Arab Muslim pride. Prof Riley-Smith added that Sir Ridley's efforts were misguided and pandered to Islamic fundamentalism. "It's Osama bin Laden's version of history. It will fuel the Islamic fundamentalists. Amin Maalouf, the French historian and author of The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, said: "It does not do any good to distort history, even if you believe you are distorting it in a good way. Cruelty was not on one side but on all." Sir Ridley's spokesman said that the film portrays the Arabs in a positive light. "It's trying to be fair and we hope that the Muslim world sees the rectification of history."
If Ridley Scott wanted to be fair, he would have gotten it correct. He wants to be biased.

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What does Canada, North Korea and Cuba have in common?

Canada: They are the only 3 countries in the world to ban private health care according to this story.

More than half of Canadians believe they should be allowed to pay for private health care, as long as there is also free care available for all who need it, a new poll finds. In the new Leger Marketing poll, the national average was 52% in favour of allowing "those who wish to pay for health care in the private sector to have speedier access to this type of care while still maintaining the current free and universal health care system." Forty-two per cent were opposed, and 5% had no opinion. Quebecers were most likely to support a private system alongside the public one, with 65% saying yes, followed by British Columbia at 56%, and the Prairies at 51%, the poll found. Ontario and Alberta leaned slightly to the no side, with 46% and 45% in favour of private care. Only 37% of respondents in the Atlantic were in favour of private care. ....Michel Kelly-Gagnon, president of the Montreal Economic Institute, which commissioned the poll, said the results reveal a gap between Canadian laws and opinions. "Unless you're absolutely a communist, you have to agree that, with your disposable after-tax income, you should have the right to consume whatever it is that you want, including private health insurance," he said. ...."I don't see any federal party currently having a genuine plan to harmonize the Canadian health care system with what everyone else in the world does," Mr. Kelly-Gagnon said, but he expects it is inevitable. "I cannot imagine that we're going to remain for the next 50 years the only country with Cuba and North Korea that's banning a private parallel system."

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Alfonso Gagliano rips Paul Martin, says investigate him.

Canada: This was the guy implicated by a mob informant that he was a member of the mafia. Now he says the breakup of Canada will happen because of Martin and says the inquiry should investigate Martin.

Former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano said Monday that Prime Minister Paul Martin has taken Canada and the federal Liberal party down the road to ruin. "He's going to destroy the party and break up the country,'' Gagliano said during an interview with Radio-Canada, the French-language network of the CBC. He said Quebec sovereignty is inevitable after the revelations at Justice John Gomery's inquiry into the sponsorship program once headed by Gagliano _ and if the Conservatives replace the minority Liberal government. ....Gagliano, who was recalled as ambassador to Denmark by Martin, made no apologies for the revelations at the inquiry but denied allegations by former Quebec Liberal organizer Benoit Corbeil that volunteers were paid by the Groupaction Marketing firm. Gagliano said it was his understanding that the party paid the volunteers. He also wondered why the sponsorship inquiry did not investigate how Martin financed his own run for the Liberal leadership. "Certain communications firms that were close to Mr. Martin, Earnscliffe to be exact, took in ... millions of dollars,'' Gagliano said. He said there was nothing scandalous in the sponsorship program to his knowledge.

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Anyone else but me realized Nytimes was late on Today show?

Media: A lot of fuss has been made over Alessandra Stanley article in the New York Times about the Today Show and how Katie Couric has turned into a mercurial diva who has people running from her. Poynter's(THE bible of print media, just ask them they will tell you) Romenesko's page has run a couple of letters complaining that the article was tabloid journalism. But a little over a year ago, Broadcasting and Cable ran a story by Steve McClellan that touched on the same major topics as Alessandra and if I didn't know better, I would say her story is just a stale rehash with a couple of new tidbits thrown in.

B&C 2/23/2004: The Today show may still be No. 1, but behind the bullet-proof glass of its Rockefeller Center studio, the shop is in turmoil. "The fear here is, what's happening at Today is the beginning of all the wheels coming off," said one NBC News insider who, like many others at the network, predicts that a shakeup at the flagship morning show is on the way. The change could start with Tom Touchet. Fairly or not, Today's executive producer has become a target for much of the criticism leveled at the show. The chatter at 30 Rock is that he may soon find himself out of a job or, more likely, suffer a de facto demotion, reporting to an "uber-executive" who watches over the show. Some inside the network say Katie Couric is leading the charge against Touchet. Remember, she was none too pleased with his predecessor, Jonathan Wald. Today's $13 million-a-year superdiva was widely viewed as orchestrating Wald's demise after 17 months on the job. That's just about as long as Touchet has been there.
NYTIMES 04/25/05: For more than a decade Katie Couric has reigned as the Everywoman of morning television. NBC considered her so critical to restoring the pre-eminence of "Today" after the disaster known as Deborah Norville that in 2001 the network gave her a $60 million contract over four-and-a-half years to keep her from defecting. Inevitably, Ms. Couric's on-air persona changed, along with her appearance and pay scale. But lately her image has grown downright scary: America's girl next door has morphed into the mercurial diva down the hall. At the first sound of her peremptory voice and clickety stiletto heels, people dart behind doors and douse the lights. Or, at least, change the channel. At its height, "Today" had two million more viewers than ABC's "Good Morning America." Now NBC's most profitable program may be in danger of falling behind: for the first time in years, the gap between "Today" and "Good Morning America" recently narrowed to just 270,000 viewers. The strained chemistry between Ms. Couric and her colleagues - Matt Lauer, Al Roker and Ann Curry - could be one reason. But network karma is also to blame. After years of dominance, NBC is trailing in fourth place, while ABC is suddenly sparkling with hot new shows and momentum. "Good Morning America" parades the stars of "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy" in front of its viewers. The "Today" audience has to brace itself for yet another interview with a fired contestant from "The Apprentice." Panic has set in at Rockefeller Center. Last week NBC dismissed the executive producer of "Today," Tom Touchet, and replaced him with a sports producer, Jim Bell, the program's fourth impresario since 2001.

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Don't bet on the economy , Schroeder.

Germany: Bad news all around for Schroeder.

April 26 (Bloomberg) -- German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder may be ill-advised to rely on forecasts of accelerating economic growth and shrinking jobless lines to help him win a third term in next year's elections, an economist at the Ifo institute said. ``The economic outlook the government will be facing just before the election will not look particularly good,'' Gebhard Flaig, head of Ifo's department of economics and finance, said in an interview in Berlin. Germany's six leading economic institutes, which include Ifo, said today Europe's largest economy is suffering from ``fundamental weakness.'' The institutes slashed their forecast for German growth this year in half to 0.7 percent and predict an acceleration in 2006 to 1.5 percent.

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Elected Democrats taxed and spent, other news, water is wet.

Seattle: You can always count on the west coast to bring the stupidity.

OLYMPIA — The state Legislature kicked off three months ago amid widespread predictions that the Democrats in charge would increase taxes, spend more money, and cater to the demands of political allies. The predictions were right. The Legislature passed a $26 billion operating budget, a nearly $3 billion increase over the current one, and an $8.5 billion transportation package — the largest in state history. To pay for it all, lawmakers made it more expensive to smoke, drink, drive and, for some people, to die. Tax increases will raise the cost of cigarettes by 60 cents a pack, liquor by $1.33 a liter and gasoline by 9.5 cents a gallon over the next four years. In addition, lawmakers reinstated an estate tax on the wealthy. The Democrats also handed labor unions and environmentalists some of their biggest legislative victories in years, boosting unemployment benefits for thousands of seasonal workers, approving the first-ever collective-bargaining agreement with state employees and passing one of the nation's toughest car-emissions standards. ....No one contends that the Democrats' budget is sustainable. Even before the plan was approved, projections showed the state could face another $1 billion shortfall two years from now. It's true the Democrats addressed some pent-up needs, said Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane. "But I don't think this has been a Democrats-gone-wild session."
Have fun paying the taxes.

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The American car industry may have reached bottom.

Business: How pathetic must you be that your competition even thinks of raising its prices to help you out?

TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday it will not raise its car prices to help U.S. rivals, breaking with its chairman's comments a day earlier that voluntary price increases and other steps were in order to help restore health to the U.S. auto industry. "Our basic stance is that prices are something for the market to determine," a spokesman at Japan's top auto manufacturer said. "We are not thinking about changing (vehicle) prices in order to help the U.S. auto industry." Japanese brands collectively grabbed a record 30 percent share of the U.S. auto market last year, and some executives have become more sensitive about how their companies' success would play out at the political level. ....At the annual motor show in Detroit earlier this year, Toyota President Fujio Cho and Honda Motor Co. Chief Executive Takeo Fukui said Japanese brands' expansion in the United States should not go unchecked, with Fukui volunteering that the combined share should be kept under 40 percent. "I'm worried not only about GM but about the entire U.S. auto industry," Toyota Chairman Hiroshi Okuda told a news conference Monday as the head of Japan's biggest business lobby, the Japan Business Federation. "Automobiles are the symbol of American industry, and if things go wrong there may be some kind of impact. "As an automaker, we have to think about what countermeasures we can take," Okuda said, adding that technical alliances and voluntary price rises are possibilities. Hit by falling U.S. sales and growing costs for employee health care, General Motors Corp. (Research) last week recorded a first-quarter loss of $1.1 billion, its worst result since the world's biggest auto manufacturer nearly went bust in 1992. Its automotive operations lost almost $2 billion, most of that in North America as it offered thousands of dollars in sales incentives per vehicle to lure customers back. Even then, GM surrendered more sales to Asian brands, especially in the light trucks segment, its main cash cow. Its rival Ford Motor Co. (Research) had a 38 percent drop in quarterly earnings and cut its North American production to reduce bloated inventories of unsold vehicles.

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Monday, April 25, 2005

GOP leadership: Feel the lack of spine.

Politics: If Fritz and the rest of the GOP want to feel apathy next year, this would be a good way of making sure it happens.

AP: In private talks with Majority Leader Bill Frist, the Senate's top Democrat has indicated a willingness to allow confirmation of at least two of President Bush's seven controversial appeals court nominees, but only as part of a broader compromise requiring Republicans to abandon threats to ban judicial filibusters, officials said Monday. At the same time he offers to clear two nominees to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals for approval, officials said Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., wants a third appointee to be replaced by an alternative who is preferred by Michigan's two Democratic senators. The officials spoke only on condition of anonymity, citing the confidential nature of the conversations between the two leaders.
I just want to point out nothing the democrats are doing is a surprise to anyone yet the MAJORITY PARTY is acting like they are in the minority and shocked at what the dems are doing. It's ridiculous.

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Democrats letting drivers license bill thru.

Politics: The focus on illegal immigration as it is now, Demos realized coming on the wrong side of this would be foolish, still waiting to see how the GOP leadership screws this up.

WASHINGTON — A controversial bill that would require states to verify the citizenship or legal status of anyone applying for a drivers license will likely become law because Senate Democrats don't have the votes to stop it, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said Monday. Aimed at illegal immigrants, the so-called Real ID Act is expected to be included in a final version of an $81 billion spending bill to fund the war in Iraq, according to Reid, D-Nev. House and Senate lawmakers begin negotiating a final version of the spending bill this week. Reid and most Democrats had fought for months against the Real ID measure and succeeded in keeping it out of the Senate version of the spending bill. But Reid said Democrats have decided they would not hold up passage of the Iraq war spending bill solely because it includes the Real ID Act. Republicans "are going to keep the Real ID (Act) on the supplemental," said Reid, who opposes the measure. "They did it on purpose. They put it on the supplemental, which we couldn't stop" because both parties support the additional funds for U.S. troops.

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Hey, the abortion didn't work and one of the babies lived!

Politics: "So pay me!" The poor kid is going to have problems as she grows if her mom doesn't kill her first.

Perth, Scotland (LifeNews.com) -- A Scottish woman has filed a lawsuit against a hospital over an abortion she had in 2001. The abortion was performed on twin unborn children and one of the babies survived the failed procedure. Jayde, the baby who survived, is now three years old and her mother, Stacy Dow, is filing suit for damages. She's seeking the cost she will incur of raising Jayde, an estimated $600,000 plus. "I have got a child now that I wasn't planning to have and I believe the hospital should take some responsibility for that," Dow told a London newspaper. The hospital, located in Perth, Scotland, failed to "take reasonable care to establish that the [abortion] had been successful," Dow said. ....Dow discussed with the newspaper how she would tell her daughter about the abortion she hoped to have. "I still don't know if, or what, I'm going to tell Jayde when the time comes. I just hope she understands what happened and why I did it," Dow said. In a similar case in England, a 36 year-old woman received about $25,000 under a settlement with another hospital when one of her twins survived the failed abortion.

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Over the head of the Houston Chron.

Crime: There has to be a reason..but what..someone figure it out.

Crime rate down, but prison population on the rise By SIOBHAN McDONOUGH WASHINGTON — While the U.S. crime rate has fallen over the past decade, the number of people in prison and jail is outpacing the number of inmates released, the government reports. The population of the nation's prisons and jails has grown by about 900 inmates each week between mid-2003 and mid-2004, according to figures released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. By last June 30 the system held 2.1 million people, or one in every 138 U.S. residents. Texas, the state with the most people behind bars, reported that its prison population climbed from 167,532 inmates in 2003 to 169,110 inmates in 2004, an increase of 0.9 percent. Paige Harrison, the report's co-author, said the U.S. increase can be attributed largely to get-tough policies enacted in the 1980s and 1990s. Among them are mandatory drug sentences, "three-strikes-and-you're-out" laws for repeat offenders and "truth-in-sentencing" laws that restrict early releases. "As a whole most of these policies remain in place," she said. "These policies were a reaction to the rise in crime in the '80s and early '90s."

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Robert Novak: The Bolton fiasco.

Politics: This pretty much sums up the position Voinovich and the RINOs put the GOP in.

The grim outlook for Bolton constitutes a major victory for the adversarial style practiced by Senate Democrats, with Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut taking the lead. Bolton's undeniable conservative ideology has antagonized the State Department's liberal cadre and its senatorial defenders. His hard line on Fidel Castro has alienated Dodd, whose long-term goal has been normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations. Yet, Dodd on Tuesday made the astounding statement that his opposition to Bolton "has nothing to do with substantive disagreements," only his personal characteristics. ...Voinovich, displaying the grand senatorial style, admitted he had not attended previous committee hearings on Bolton and what he knew was based only on what he had heard Tuesday from Democrats. Chafee, indicating that he too was switching on Bolton, gushed about how thrilled he was to hear a senator change his mind after listening to another senator. Those comments could invite future demagoguery from Democrats. Republicans always expect the worse from Chafee, who said he wrote in a vote for the senior George Bush for president in 2004. But Voinovich took the party by surprise. That surprise validates the opinion of senior Republican senators who consider this administration's congressional outreach the worst they have seen. The only serious Republican defense of Bolton Tuesday was made by first-term Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota. This passivity not only leads Democrats to believe they will prevent John Bolton from going to the U.N. but also shows them the way to replicate this triumph.

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GOP finds a spine on Judges?

Politics: Maybe.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Republicans have the votes to ban any more Democratic procedural roadblocks against President Bush's judicial nominees, a top Republican said on Sunday. A spokesman for Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada promptly questioned the claim, while another Democrat, Sen. Joseph Biden (news, bio, voting record) of Delaware, floated a possible compromise to avert a fight that could bring the Senate to a near halt. ...."There's no doubt in my mind, and I'm a pretty good counter of votes ... that we have the votes we need," Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told CBS's "Face the Nation." Sen. Christopher Dodd (news, bio, voting record), a Connecticut Democrat appearing with McConnell, said conservative Republicans including former Senate leader Bob Dole "have urged the Republican leadership today to think long and hard about doing what they want to do." Democrats blocked 10 of Bush's judicial nominees during his first term while they helped confirm about 200 others. Bush renominated seven of the filibustered nominees after winning re-election in November. Biden, appearing on ABC's "This Week," said, "I think we should compromise and say to them that we're willing to -- of the seven judges -- we'll let a number of them go through, the two most extreme not go through and put off this vote" to end the filibuster.
Couple of ways to look at this, the GOP leadership/admin finally got some guts after realizing how bad the party looked after the Bolton debacle led by Voinovich or they are bluffing. The Democrats while talking of shutting down the Senate realize they can't be backed into a corner like this, so they come up with a weak compromise given by Biden. Given that Biden actually said it, maybe the GOP has the votes, but they cannot take Biden or any democrats deal. It would show that the GOP has a numerical but ineffective majority that cannot even govern itself as a unit and get their base angry at them.

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Sunday, April 24, 2005

News: The Pope is Catholic

Religion: AP reporting on how Conservatives see it as a win that Pope Benedict XVI got elected while liberals are unhappy. Its a stupid way of putting it as this is a fight between Catholics and Catholic-lite. But this is the most interesting part of the article.

Another factor in the new pope's relationship with Americans: Benedict has better command of English than any other modern pope, and probably knows more about the U.S. religious situation than any of his papal predecessors when they were elected. While Catholic liberals believe it would be both wise and just for the church to loosen up on doctrinal demands, Benedict might draw the opposite conclusion from U.S. Protestant trends. Since the mid-1960s, liberal denominations like Thomas' United Church of Christ have suffered a steady slide in membership, while conservative groups like the Southern Baptists have continued to expand. And in the past generation, Southern Baptist agencies have actually moved from moderate conservatism to stricter conservatism. Penn State historian Philip Jenkins noted in his book "The Next Christendom" that the same trend is true globally. While flexible, modernized churches stagnate, evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity are growing in the developing world — as is Islam. These groups have been dogged in preserving doctrinal and moral tradition. If Benedict plays to conservative Christians in the United States, he'll be working with the growth sector of the religious world today.
Shocking the AP would report that and puts into context the panic liberals have over this Pope.

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Adscam in 100 words or less

Canada: If you still kinda confused about this whole Liberal Adscam debacle, Andrew Stark professor at University of Toronto explains it.

Q. How does the sponsorship imbroglio differ from the typical Canadian scandal? In the garden-variety cases of graft, you have a private individual who makes a contribution to the governing party, then gets a public contract. The difference here is that the individuals seem to have made their contributions not only by digging into their wallets but by channeling public money to the party as well. You have party workers doing government work by handing out contracts, government members doing bureaucratic work by deciding where projects should go, bureaucrats telling companies whom to hire, and private businesses paying people to do party chores. It's a total breakdown of all the moral, legal and institutional boundaries that we expect to see observed.
Via Andrew Coyne.

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Colin Powell and John Bolton

Politics: It has long been established that they do not like each other, but this latest story involving Jack Straw concerning Iran makes Powell look weak.

May 2 issue - Colin Powell plainly didn't like what he was hearing. At a meeting in London in November 2003, his counterpart, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, was complaining to Powell about John Bolton, according to a former Bush administration official who was there. Straw told the then Secretary of State that Bolton, Powell's under secretary for arms control, was making it impossible to reach allied agreement on Iran's nuclear program. Powell turned to an aide and said, "Get a different view on [the Iranian problem]. Bolton is being too tough." Unbeknownst to Bolton, the aide then interviewed experts in Bolton's own Nonproliferation Bureau. The issue was resolved, the former official told NEWSWEEK, only after Powell adopted softer language recommended by these experts on how and when Iran might be referred to the U.N. Security Council. But the terrified State experts were "adamant that we not let Bolton know we had talked to them," the official said.
and a year and a half later, still no progress between the E-3 and Iran on a nuke deal. E-3 is reduced to offer Airbus parts as part of a incentive package so Iran will drop its nuke program. Chirac is pushing to be even less hard on Iran and now this
But the talks took a new turn last month when negotiators from the EU's "big three" (EU3) and the office of EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana agreed in Paris to consider an Iranian proposal that it keep a small-scale enrichment programme that would be closely monitored by the U.N. nuclear watchdog.
At this point Iran who should be on the defensive and feeling pressure from the vaunted E-3 is in the driver's seat as Europe continues to fold. Now we find out that Powell helped along the process while Bolton has the right stance that you had to be tough on Iran, but Bolton is the bad guy.

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Saturday, April 23, 2005

U.N. Chief's Record Comes Under Fire (Ya Think?)

UN: Washington Post gives Column Lynch the task of building up Kofi Annan in a rather fawning piece of work, but if you get past the smoke screen you see the case that Kofi is halfway done becomes clear.

"My feeling is that Kofi has shrunk in stature somewhat in the last year," said Stephen C. Schlesinger, director of the New School's World Policy Institute and a former U.N. adviser, who still considers him the world's "moral authority." Even as Annan's new chief of staff, Mark Malloch Brown of Britain, has taken steps to restore confidence in the United Nations, Schlesinger said, some of these steps have "given the impression that Kofi is kind of losing control." ...But given the United Nations' current crises -- not only the widening oil-for-food scandal, which last week prompted Annan's envoy to North Korea to step aside while investigators examine his ties to a South Korean lobbyist, but also reports of rampant sexual abuse by U.N. peacekeepers and of favoritism at the U.N. elections division -- Malloch Brown conceded that Annan's "reforms didn't go far enough," leaving him open to attack. ....Annan last fall delivered a wrenching public denouncement of his son for lying to him about his relationship with his employer. He also said he felt that Volcker's report had delivered an "exoneration" of him. "We did not exonerate Kofi Annan," Mark Pieth, a senior member of Volcker's team, told reporters. "We should not brush this off. A certain mea culpa would have been appropriate." On Thursday, a State Department official also disputed Annan's use of the word "exoneration," marking the first time the U.S. government has done so. ...In January, Annan brought in Malloch Brown to clean house, and Malloch Brown has forced out several of Annan's most loyal political advisers. He has also reversed decisions by Annan to pay Sevan's legal fees and to clear Ruud Lubbers, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, of wrongdoing after a U.N. investigation accused him of sexual harassment. He has also highlighted the United Nations' support for the Bush administration's focus on weapons proliferation and terrorism as the prime threats of the day. But now, U.N. officials and delegates from developing countries feel that Annan is trying to accommodate the United States to save himself. "It's bad enough to be a lame duck secretary general and be one under fire," said Columbia's Luck. "But in addition to that, [to] have your legs pulled out from under you by having some of your closest confidants removed, I think it just underlines how much he is a lame duck."

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Muslim cleric: women incite men's lust

Islam: It would be nice to read about people objecting to this who was at the meeting, but I guess no one did.

A Muslim sheik told followers at a public meeting in Bankstown that women who were raped had incited men's lust by dressing immodestly and only had themselves to blame. Sydney-born Sheik Faiz Mohamad, 34, a former boxer who teaches at the Global Islamic Youth Centre in Liverpool, made the comments during a lecture for more than 1000 people at Bankstown Town Hall. The Sun-Herald has a recording of the March 18 speech in which Sheik Faiz said: "A victim of rape every minute somewhere in the world. Why? No one to blame but herself. She displayed her beauty to the entire world . . . "Strapless, backless, sleeveless, nothing but satanic skirts, slit skirts, translucent blouses, miniskirts, tight jeans: all this to tease man and appeal to his carnal nature."

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More on Jew banning by the UK academia Union.

UK: So now we find out the Union are a bunch of gutless wonders.

The decision by Britain's 40,000 member Association of University Teachers (AUT) to boycott two Israeli universities on Friday has ignited scathing condemnation from Jewish communities worldwide and has prompted the immediate resignation of Jewish academics from the AUT. In a blitz procedure timed - on the eve of Passover - to exclude Jewish members from the conference, the AUT rushed through two motions to boycott Haifa and Bar Ilan universities, exhibiting an unprecedented escalation of a campaign by British academics to target Israel. A jovial executive union meeting heard unanswered orations by Sue Blackwell and Shereen Benjamin, both lecturers at Birmingham University. The academics labeled Israel as a "colonial apartheid state, more insidious than South Africa," called for the "removal of this regime," and depicted Israeli universities as "repressing" academic freedom.

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John Kerry is pissed at Dayton.

Politics: Kerry picking on Hillary groupies, he is messing with forces that he doesn't understand. All kidding aside, Kerry is in for a rude awakening in 2008 if he thinks he will be picked again.

April 23, 2005 -- WASHINGTON — A fuming John Kerry had "daggers in his eyes" after a fellow Democrat promoted Hillary Rodham Clinton for president — suggesting the 2004 loser is green with envy at a potential rival. The flap was touched off two weeks ago when Clinton spoke at a Minneapolis Democratic dinner and Sen. Mark Dayton (D-Minn.) told the cheering crowd that he was introducing "the next great president of the United States." Two days later, Kerry came over to Dayton on the Senate floor "with daggers in his eyes and said, 'What are you doing endorsing my 2008 presidential opponent?' . . . He was very serious," Dayton told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

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Friday, April 22, 2005

Paul Martin in real trouble now. BONO is angry!

Canada: Poor Paul Martin the guy can't catch a break as the world's self appointed shake down artist Bono is unhappy with him.

OTTAWA (CP) - If being mired in scandal and threatened with imminent defeat weren't enough, Prime Minister Paul Martin capped off a brutal week by striking a sour note with his most famous fan. Rock superstar Bono is irked by Martin's refusal to meet a long-stated standard for foreign aid increases. "I'm annoyed," the U2 frontman says in an exclusive interview to be aired Saturday on CBC Radio's The House. "I'm bewildered, really. I'm disappointed. "I can't believe that Paul Martin would want to hold up history." ....Martin recently said he won't commit to spending 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product on foreign aid by the year 2015 because he's not convinced the country can afford it. But Bono, showing a keen knowledge of Canada's domestic prosperity, would not let the prime minister's contention go unchallenged. Ottawa has racked up successive multi-billion-dollar surpluses, and countries such as Britain, France and Germany commit to the 0.7 benchmark. "There is a blessing on this country, on Canada," Bono said.
As if Canada doesn't have programs and infrastructure to take care of at home first, any amount of surplus must go to Bono's ego..I mean programs.

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French No Vote support goes higher.

EU: Latest poll has the no vote at 62%. I doubt it is really that high, but the steady majority no vote on every poll so far is closing any chance of the yes campaign getting any momentum.

French surveys have shown a steady rise for a ``no'' vote to the charter that the 25 EU leaders, including French President Jacques Chirac, signed in October in Rome. The latest French poll, published Friday, indicated that 62 percent of voters will reject the constitution in the May 29 referendum - the highest figure so far. The poll, conducted Wednesday, was published Friday in the French daily Metro. No margin of error was given in the Internet poll of 1,000 people conducted April 20 by the Market Tools agency. A day earlier, a poll in the weekly l'Express put the ``no'' vote at 58 percent. There has been no victory for the ``Yes'' camp in more than a month of polls about the May 29 referendum, and the French government's concern is evident - along with that of EU officials in Brussels. ``It is very clear the European Commission ... is worried by the turn of the statistics,'' EU spokeswoman Francoise le Bail said. ``One must question if these results are really stable. But the trend seems to be there and that in itself is worrying.''
oh yeah, another strike is on the way.
A French government bid to abolish a May bank holiday in order to raise money for the elderly appeared headed for serious trouble Friday after unions said workers were being exploited and called for a day of strikes and protests. In a law last year, President Jacques Chirac's administration turned Whit Monday -- which this year falls on May 16 -- into a normal working day in order to produce an extra two billion euros (2.6 billion dollars) for a "National Solidarity Fund." But with the day approaching, nearly three-quarters of French workers say they oppose the suppression of the holiday -- and for unions the dispute has become a useful pressure-point agains a government traumatised by fears of a "no" vote on the European Union constitution.

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Saddam to Park to Strong to Paul Martin with Kofi in the mix.

Canada: Via Instapundit.

The Canadian company that Saddam Hussein invested a million dollars in belonged to the Prime Minister of Canada, canadafreepress.com has discovered. Cordex Petroleum Inc., launched with Saddam’s million by Prime Minister Paul Martin’s mentor Maurice Strong’s son Fred Strong, is listed among Martin’s assets to the Federal Ethics committee on November 4, 2003. Among Martin’s Public Declaration of Declarable Assets are: "The Canada Steamship Lines Group Inc. (Montreal, Canada) 100 percent owned"; "Canada Steamship Lines Inc. (Montreal, Canada) 100 percent owned"–Cordex Petroleums Inc. (Alberta, Canada) 4.6 percent owned by the CSL Group Inc."
Via Reuters who makes it sounds less sinister.
According to a criminal complaint filed by U.S. federal prosecutors last week, Park told an informant he had invested about $1 million in an unnamed Canadian company set up by the son of a high-ranking U.N. official, who was not identified. Strong has now confirmed that he was that U.N. official, the Toronto Globe and Mail reported on Thursday. The company that Park had invested in was Cordex Petroleums Inc., a Calgary oil company, the newspaper said. Strong and his son Frederick Strong were major investors in Cordex in the 1990s, along with CSL Group Inc., a holding company owned by Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, it said.
More on Strong's world view from the National Post.
As for the Cordex link with Mr. Martin and his holding company, it reminds us of Mr. Strong's influence on the Prime Minister. Where, for example, might Mr. Martin have come up with the idea for "global equalization," which amounts to the fulfillment of The Communist Manifesto? Indeed, when it comes to his international posturing, at times Mr. Martin has seemed less like a Liberal candidate than The Manchurian Candidate (original version). We might also remember that after Gomery, the Liberals' next biggest policy headache is the one masterminded by Mr. Strong at Rio: Kyoto. With friends like Mr. Strong, does Mr. Martin need any more enemies?

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