Saturday, January 14, 2006 

Were the Brookpark Marines betrayed by Iraqi Forces?

We might never know but it is starting to look more and more likely. If the Marines have nothing to hide - then why are they hiding it? 25 ohioans killed by the Iraqi security forces they were working with, possibly US trained security forces - Well, to an administration trying so hard to paint a rosey picture of a bleak, ill planned Iraq War - this is just one more thing to cover up in a very long list of cover ups. Shameful.

From NewsNet5
Military officials have changed their minds about declassifying a report, and now the families of Brook Park Marines killed in Iraq last August may never know exactly what happened to their sons.

A recent NewsChannel5 exclusive investigation uncovered information that terrorists who killed six Marines on Aug. 1 may have been taken into custody.

The Marine Corps promised families that it would find out if the fallen were betrayed by Iraqi security forces, and would share the investigation after it was declassified.

Now, U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich was told the report will remain classified.

Kucinich is angry and released this statement saying, "Those who make the ultimate sacrifice for their country do not deserve to have their families stonewalled by their government."

Kucinich said he will meet with Marine Corps officers in the coming weeks to find out why

Find a previous post about the Betrayed Brookpark Marines here.


Taxpayer dollars go to "Conservative Outreach" ?

Labor Extends a Conservative Hand
January 09 2006 5:52 PM
Lynn Gibson, the former Director of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation, is now the new Special Assistant for Conservative Outreach at the Department of Labor.
What exactly is a "Special Assistant for Conservative Outreach"? Sounds to me, like another way to funnel our taxdollars to republican front groups.

Hat Tip: Baculum King

Friday, January 13, 2006 

Can't we all just get along?

The whole Sherrod Brown controversy is kinda ridicules. Now, I admit, I wasn't at the event where the whole brouhaha between Brown and Russo went down. But, come on. It is being blown way out of proportion. The people who have the most to gain from this mess are the bloggers themselves. They receive a small amount of notoriety and a few more readers (rubbernecking at the car crash) while giving a solid Ohio Democratic congressman a bit of a black eye. The Russo disappearing story is the political blog equivalent of the Simpson/Lachey divorce. Who cares where he went? There are good reasons to support Hackett over Brown and vice a versa but neither would be a bad candidate. There is no reason to treat one of our own like this. If you think Hackett is that much better, state your reasons - but don't bad mouth Brown. There are a lot of people better to bad mouth (DeWine anyone?). I am not saying don't criticize, compare, contrast, whatever but there are tactful, constructive, intelligent ways and there are tacky/tabloid ways. In the end, we are all fighting for the same goal - A Blue Ohio.

Oh.. I see Blogometer, just touched on this issue. Look, I don't know any of my fellow NEO Political bloggers but from reading their blogs - many are really hurt that Brown missed thier meeting, (even though he said he would gladly reschedule sans Russo). Let it go people. Everyone needs to step back and stop taking themselves so seriously. It all just seems so silly. Especially when you look at the big picture and how much more trustworthy either of these candidates are over the likes of a DeWine (just look at Browns record and Hacketts determination).

As far as Russo is concerned, I don't think I have ever met him, but - his blog and many of his comments, although clever, also make he seem very antagonistic. After the "incident", Sherrod was damned if he did, damned if he didn't make it to the MTB meeting. So, I won't be judging him as quickly as some of you may be (at least not on that event). That doesn't mean he gets an easy endorsement just because he is a Dem, it just means I am trying to be fair.

Buckeye Senate adds his perspective to these evnts in a great diary. Read It, too.


Warrantless Wiretaps BEFORE 9/11

So much for using illegal wiretaps to prevent terrorism...

On orders from Defense Department officials and President Bush, the agency kept a running list of the names of Americans in its system and made it readily available to a number of senior officials in the Bush administration, these sources said, which in essence meant the NSA was conducting a covert domestic surveillance operation in violation of the law.

...Still, one thing that appears to be indisputable is that the NSA surveillance began well before 9/11 and months before President Bush claims Congress gave him the power to use military force against terrorist threats, which Bush says is why he believed he had the legal right to bypass the judicial process.

According to the online magazine Slate, an unnamed official in the telecom industry said NSA's "efforts to obtain call details go back to early 2001, predating the 9/11 attacks and the president's now celebrated secret executive order. The source reports that the NSA approached U.S. carriers and asked for their cooperation in a 'data-mining' operation, which might eventually cull 'millions' of individual calls and e-mails."
More here.

National Security Documents backing up claim linked here.

Update: Or Maybe not.


Baby Signing

We started signing with Sophie at about 9 months. She really enjoyed it. Everyone enjoyed it. We used board books to learn the basic signs : hungry, milk, bird, dog, more, baby, ice cream, cereal, banana, apple, ect. It helped her communicate and made our life a little easier. I think it gave her a great sense of accomplishment as well.

The board books we used taught a simplified version of American Sign Language (some signs were actual signs others were watered down a bit). They had bright photos of the object and one of a child doing the sign, with simply written instructions for the parent. It was very easy to teach. I also bought one of the larger signing with your baby kits - we never used it. For basic communication, the board books ruled and were a lot cheaper.

Sophie stopped signing quickly after she achieved the verbal skills to speak. It was bittersweet to see it go. Her friend, Carolyn, was taught American Sign Language and her parents spent a lot of time giving her an extensive signing vocabulary. At two, she still uses her signs, along with vocal language. I have a feeling, Sign Language will actually be a second language for her. Which would be great. I'd imagine that alot of the benefits of teaching a second vocal language also applies to Sign Language at this level. Of course, I am just guessing about long term benefits outside of self esteem. There is a new article out that talks about the benefits of signing with your child.
Sign language class helps babies communicate
...Learning simple sign language not only gives babies a way to communicate other than whining or crying, research also indicates it enhances language development, gives a good foundation for early literacy and can stimulate intellectual development

I am excited this is catching on. We will definitely teach it to our newborn.

Thursday, January 12, 2006 

Alito: People just don't know their place

"People nowadays just don't seem to know their place. Everywhere one turns black and hispanics are demanding jobs simply because they're black and hispanic, the physically handicapped are trying to gain equal representation in professional sports, and homosexuals are demanding that government vouchsafe them the right to bear children. And now... and now come women."

Anyone who belonged to the Concerned Alumni of Princeton should not be on the Supreme Court. Especially, if there excuse is "I don't remember" when it should be "I made a mistake, I was wrong."

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 

Empire of Debt

The Rise of an Epic Financial Crisis

I just started reading "Empire of Debt" By Bill Bonner and Addison Wiggin. So far, a great read - lots of history and interesting conclusions. Anyways, I just wanted to share with you this line from the book:
"They (empires in decline) invade foreign countries in the belief that they are spreading freedom and democracy, and depend on lending from Communist China to pay for it"
Although, I really think that "spreading democracy" was just a sales pitch and that this administration doesn't care one hoot about freedom in Iraq - I do believe that line from "Empire of Debt" pretty much sums up how ridicules those of us who believe that America is spreading freedom really are. In our hubris we'll believe anything - just get us that SUV and that flat screen TV. Anyways, so far good reading, fast and interesting - I'm looking forward to the rest of it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 

Alito will overturn Roe v Wade

From Armando
Alito Testifies That He Believed Roe Was Wrongly Decided
In his answers to Senator Arlen Specter's question, Judge Samuel Alito acknowledged that the 1985 memo where he stated that he supported the goal of overturning roe v. Wade expressed his personal views at the time.

He did not clarify whether he still believes it but implicitly seemed to accept that when he argued that as a judge he would put his personal feelings aside and determine whether the doctrine of stare decisis compelled upholding Roe.

This makes it clear, Alito would vote to overturn Roe UNLESS the doctrine of stare decisis compelled otherwise.

As for stare decisis, Alito stated repeatedly that it "is not an inexorable command."

It seems clear that Alito will likely vote to overturn Roe if he is confirmed to the Supreme Court.

The religious right would like you to believe that the only people having abortions are those "slutty" girls you knew in High School. But, in my experience, most of the people who have made this decision are people who were given horrific circumstances. Two had to make the choice between carrying a baby to term only to have them die immediately upon birth or having an abortion, another had a genetic anomaly where not only would the baby perish, shortly and painfully after birth but giving birth to the child would jeopardize the wife’s fertility. The government has no business making these decisions for families.


Intelligent design's critics press fight

Class Guide Needs to be Adjusted ...
Many people are clamoring for the Ohio School Board to address intelligent design at its next meeting.

Differences among members of the State Board of Education over the teaching of evolution are escalating as the board prepares to meet for the first time since a court struck down a Pennsylvania plan that required an alternative approach.

Jones said Dover's decision to insert intelligent design into the science curriculum violated the constitutional separation of church and state.

Critics of the Ohio curriculum hope the state board will take up the standards this week.

"I think the ruling is a wake-up call to our board that we are out of compliance, at least in that judge's opinion," said Robin C. Hovis, a board member from Millersburg.
Some Facts:
  • A scientific theory must be testable and based on observable evidence. A scientific theory makes predictions about occurrences in the natural world that can then be tested through scientific experimentation. ID makes no predictions and cannot be scrutinized using the scientific method. So although proponents of ID couch their views in scientific terms, their assertion that ID is a scientific theory is false.

  • Biological evolution is a scientific theory that explains how life on earth has changed over time. The belief that species have evolved existed before Darwin, and was first stimulated by finding fossils of animals that no longer exist. Evolution has undergone many important developments since Darwin's time, most notably the incorporation of genetics.

  • ID is not a scientific theory and therefore cannot be put forward as an alternative to the scientific theory of evolution.

  • The ID movement is led by a small group of activists based at the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture (formerly Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture) in Seattle, WA. There are very few credentialed scientists among the group's leadership, and those who are scientists typically studied in fields unrelated to biology. Their approach to religion is very different from the leading scientists in the United States who are religious. Most legitimate scientists who are people of faith accept the overwhelming evidence supporting the scientific theory of evolution and see no conflict between the two.

  • Although ID proponents publicly declare that they are neutral on many questions related to their religious motivations, the Wedge document reveals in clear terms that their assertions are at best deceptive. The document specifically outlines plans to reverse prevailing scientific practices and methods, and makes clear that the motivations of ID's main supporters are religious, not scientific. It is indeed curious that they would choose deception to advance their religious beliefs.

  • There are not "two sides" to the science. Evolution is a scientific theory that seeks to explain how life on earth has changed over time, while ID is simply an ideology that attacks science and asks that its ideas be accepted as if they are true. Evolution and ID address different topics, employ different methods and certainly should be judged by entirely different standards.
Ohio can do better than this. What a waste of taxpayer dollars, that we even need to revisit this debate. Wasn't this supposed to be settled like 30 years ago? This can't help raise US students science scores, where our high schoolers rank at the bottom of the 21 industrialized nations.

Also see: WritesLikeSheTalks, she is keeping a close eye on this story. And check out: Flying Spaghetti Monster

Monday, January 09, 2006 

15 yr old Canadian Kid held by US for last 4 yrs - tortured

Via Toronto Star
Only 15 at the time U.S. troops took him prisoner, for the past three years Khadr has been held in solitary confinement, virtually incommunicado, without charge, and subject to torture and abuse during continuous interrogation by his captors.

The U.S. has now charged Khadr with alleged war crimes, and plans to try him before a military commission beginning Wednesday. Despite international condemnation of the commission as fundamentally unfair, the Canadian government, regrettably, has kept silent on Khadr's prosecution.

What is at stake on Wednesday is not only Khadr's future, but Canada's reputation as a defender of human rights and the rule of law.

When the military commission commences, Khadr will become the first individual in the modern history of any international tribunal, to be tried for war crimes for conduct allegedly committed as a juvenile.

This ignoble precedent of prosecuting children for war crimes — something not done at Nuremburg after World War II, in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, or Sierra Leone, Kosovo or East Timor — will be established through American prosecution of a Canadian child.

This is the kind of stuff that really turns my stomach. An administration willing to torture children (3 yrs in solitary confinement is torture, not to mention these other more gruesome incidents of child torture listed in my previous post "Ignorance is not an Excuse") is not something I can be proud of. It agonizes me that my tax dollars fund this.

When is our media going to pick up on these stories? Come on already. This is wrong. This is UNAmerican
....These deficiencies in the military commission, and many others, expose the lie of the Bush administration's promise that Khadr is innocent until proven guilty. No matter how they dress it up, the military commission is still a sham.

The military commissions have been roundly condemned by human rights organizations, and even by foreign governments.

Britain stated unambiguously its belief that the commissions were "unacceptable" for their failure to meet international standards. As British Attorney General Lord Goldsmith said, "There are certain principles on which there can be no compromise ... Fair trial is one of those." Subsequently, all nine Britons at Guantanamo, including two designated for military commissions, were released.
The Toronto Star is asking Canadians to speak up and demand justice - but it is about time that we ALL start speaking up. This is a giant stain on the America and the priniciples our forefathers fought and died for.

Some other Accounts of Child Torture by US:
A Sunday Herald investigation has discovered that coalition forces are holding more than 100 children in jails such as Abu Ghraib. Witnesses claim that the detainees – some as young as 10 – are also being subjected to rape and torture

Seymour Hersh, the New Yorker reporter who first broke the story of torture at Abu Ghraib, recently spoke... He has seen the pictures and the videotapes the American media has not yet shown. "The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling, and the worst part is the soundtrack, of the boys shrieking," said Hersh. "And this is your government at war."

According to Rolling Stone, Abu Hamid is the name of the translator who raped the teenage boy. "I saw Abu Hamid, who was wearing the military uniform, putting his dick in the little kid's ass," reads Rolling Stone's July 28 story

Come on people, if you do not speak up against this, if you sit back and do nothing, you are just as guilty as those actually commiting these heinious acts. We need to spread the word and stop putting our heads in the sand. How can we live with ourselves if we don't?And for those of you who think these are isolated incidents by a few bad apples, don't forget to take a look at the Bush Administrations torture memos.

And listen to what Presidential Legal Advisor John Yoo has to say about torture when confronted by legl scholar Doug Cassel:

Cassel: If the president deems that he's got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person's child, there is no law that can stop him?

Yoo: No treaty

Cassel: Also no law by Congress -- that is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo...

Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.

So - yeah. They know they are torturing and raping children but they don't care. They wrote the law, they make the rules, they don't give a rats bum about right or wrong, morals or Christian ethics, these phonies only care about what is best for them. And what is best for them is not what is best for America.

Read: "Ignorance is not an Excuse" for my thoughts on and more accounts of child torture by the US.


"2006 is going to be a wake-up year for many homeowners,"

It was bound to happen sooner or later.

Sunday, January 08, 2006 

Ending the Formula Cycle

A Massachusetts hospital is ending its Hospital Gift Bag program to encourage breastfeeding.
Thank Goodness. While it is nice to get free things, when you become pregnant you are bombarded by the formula companies. They send you free samples, coupons, freebies anything to get your infant hooked (and you convinced it is easier and just as good to bottlefeed). It is kinda crazy. If they didn't give out so much free stuff and coupons maybe the moms who really have to use formula wouldn't have to pay as much. I threw away so many cans of formula. But, even I the staunch breastfeeder, kept one around (just in case). So, can you imagine the temptation to a new mom who is having a bit of difficulty getting started breastfeeding?
Although hospitals can continue to give formula to new mothers, the gift bags -- which were part of a marketing program developed by formula makers... "implied an endorsement of formula by hospitals,"
Well, if the nurses are handing you bags of formula as you leave - you're right - I'm gonna think it is an endorsment of using formula. So, I am glad they decided to stop this practice. It just makes good sense.
Donna Rheaume, a spokesperson for the MDPH, characterized the ban as a means to promote breastfeeding, citing the health benefits of breastfeeding -- which include fewer ear infections, less gastrointestinal illnesses, and fewer respiratory problems for infants as well as a reduced risk of ovarian and breast cancer in women. Rheaume added that if a woman decides to use formula instead of breastfeeding her infant, "that choice is going to be supported, as well."
Now - more hospitals need to follow suit and they need to hire more lactation consultants!


Read it: "The Godfather DeWine Connection" at Buckeye Senate

The "Godfather" DeWine Connection

Best Line: " ...$6,992 for 3 paid trips to DeWine - to Springfield Ohio sounds like a rather expensive travel expenses for a Senator - from Ohio."

$2330 per trip. Maybe there is something to it. I wouldn't put it past them. Definitely worth looking into, thanks for the leg work BuckeyeSenate.


Diversity Gained - Diversity Lost

Mark Tumeo is seated on Cleveland Heights council

by Eric Resnick via Cleveland Stonewall Dems

Cleveland Heights--“All seven members of council present,” said Cleveland Heights mayor Edward Kelley, responding to the final name on acting clerk Sharon McGuire’s roll call: Mark Tumeo.

Moments before, Tumeo was sworn in by close friend and campaign treasurer Gordon Wean with his partner Jeff Stark at his side, making him the first openly gay official in what is, by percentage, Ohio’s gayest city among those with populations over 20,000. It is also the only Ohio city with a domestic partner registry and domestic partner benefits for city employees.

Tumeo took the oath of office January 3 before a standing-room-only crowd in city council chambers.

In an early act as a council member, Tumeo honored the diversity gained by his election and the diversity lost by his defeat of Jimmie Hicks, Jr., one of two black councilors in a city that is 41% African-American.

“My election means that council will be a very different kind of diverse,” said Tumeo, “but we lost diversity, too.”

With that, Tumeo nominated 12-year veteran Phyllis Evans to become the vice mayor, challenging the re-nomination of current vice mayor Kenneth Montlack, who is white.

Montlack was supported by members Nancy Dietrich and Dennis Wilcox. Evans was supported by Tumeo and Bonnie Caplan. Kelley, whom council returned to the mayor’s post that evening, cast the decisive vote for Montlack.

Tumeo has been chosen to chair the city’s Administrative Services Committee, which is responsible for board and commission appointments and affirmative action policy. He will also serve on the city’s finance committee.

Tumeo publicly thanked Hicks for working with him on a smooth transition.

With Tumeo in office and Joe Santiago sworn in the evening before in Cleveland, Ohio will now have six openly gay and lesbian elected officials. Nickie Antonio took her seat on the Lakewood council last week, Mary Jo Hudson was set to be sworn in to her Columbus council seat January 4, and Joe Lacey will take his Dayton school board seat January 10. Haskins mayor Kenneth Fallows was not up for re-election this year.

I am happy for Mark Tumeo and proud of Cleveland Heights. He's going to be a great councilman. I'm sure he'll be 200% better than Hicks. Whom I voted for in the past but was enraged by for his anti-gay rhetoric and then his decision to sue the city after we voted for and passed the domestic registry - that he didn't like. It still makes me angry thinking about it. Yay Mark! Yay Cleveland Heights! And - While I am at it - Yay Stonewalls. They are a great asset to our city.


Speaking of Disasters

It looks like we still have a disaster in Louisiana.

11-05 Holly Beach LA
"You can look at all the pictures they had on TV or the newspaper but until you see this with your own eyes you can not image what it is like. And the smell........Just terrible. It is unbelievable, all of Cameron looks like a war zone. We rode the back way from Kaplan all the way to Johnson Bayou and back. All the marsh grass is piled up on the side of the roads. I have never seen so many washers, dryers, iceboxes and freezers........all on the side of the road, damaged."

I continue to think about the families coming back, looking for loved ones and finding skelatel remains lying in the streets covered in rubbish. (Ala Barry Cowsill and the other stories recently in the news.) Doesn't seem like America to me. We should have the decency to take proper care of our dead, not leave them to rot in the streets. Very sad for the families, sad for America.


More Cronyism - this time in Immigration Dept.

From the NY Times:

"Julie L. Myers, picked by President Bush to head the bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has never dealt extensively with immigration issues."

Geez. I wonder what kind of disaster we can expect out of this?

AmericaBlog sums it up:
With the GOP winding up American on the immigration "crisis" which is in fact no crisis, giving former General Myers daughter a political patronage job of such importance is yet another example of what a banana republic/dictatorship the US is becoming. If she was so qualified to lead why not follow the democratic route and let the Senate decided? If the GOP couldn't even muster support from the DINO Leiberman, she obviously had problems. It's not like the GOP doesn't control all branches of government.

This is infuriating. (although I should expect it by now) This administration doesn't care at all about how our government is actually run. They just continue to fleece us out of money - giving our tax dollars away for political favors. Don't they even have one supporter who is qualified? Come on - at least pretend not to be corrupt.


The Economists predicts Disaster for Iraq

Via Benito on Kos
According to the Economist, sectarian dvision has been made clear by the Iraqi elections:

"...the result means that nearly all Iraqis voted according to ethnic and sectarian divisions, means that the Shias will be almost as dominant in this government as in the last, when the Sunnis boycotted the vote. Although for now all sides are clamouring for a government of national unity, the UIA's strong showing means it can probably exclude any group it pleases, thus burying American and British hopes that the secular parties would break up the UIA and cast hardline Shia doctrine, viewed as a polarising force, out of power."

A unity government is not likely because the power that comes with holding a government ministry is simply too great to turn over to opponents. The Shiites, who now have the upperhand, simply have no incentive to turn over power to the Sunnis especially when there is no way to trust the Sunnis with power once they have it. Likewise, the Sunni cannot hope that the Shiite will use power magnaminously and refrain from butchering the Sunnis in the same way that the Sunnis, under Saddam, butchered the Shiites.

In other words, the results mirror the grim prediction that many have made -- violence and uncertainty in Iraq have led people to side with their sectarian community. The elections, in other words, will reinforce the slide into civil war.