Thursday, August 11

Abramoff Indicted

At long last, the indictments of Tom Delay's favorite lobbyist has been handed down: From the New York Times via Raw Story.com:

U.S. Fraud Charge for Top Lobbyist

WASHINGTON, Aug. 11 - Jack Abramoff, the once-powerful Republican lobbyist involved in ethics allegations facing Representative Tom DeLay, was indicted in Florida on Thursday on unrelated fraud charges involving his purchase of a fleet of gambling boats from a businessman who was slain amid bitter wrangling over the sale.

The indictment by a federal grand jury in Fort Lauderdale charges Mr. Abramoff and a business partner with conspiracy and wire fraud in the $147.5 million purchase of the shipping line, SunCruz Casinos, in 2000. They are accused of presenting lenders with a counterfeit document suggesting that they had arranged a $23 million wire transfer to the seller.

Mr. Abramoff's lawyer in the case, Neal R. Sonnett of Miami, said Mr. Abramoff would plead not guilty. "We've made the point since the beginning of this investigation that Jack Abramoff has done nothing wrong," Mr. Sonnett said. "He's anxious to defend himself."

There is no accusation that Mr. Abramoff or his partner, Adam R. Kidan, had any involvement in the death of the Fort Lauderdale businessman, Konstantinos Boulis, but the unsolved gangland-style killing produced extensive news coverage in Florida over the disputed sale of SunCruz. Mr. Boulis was gunned down while driving home in February 2001.

Mr. Sonnett had no comment when asked if the indictment would provide the Justice Department with leverage in pressing Mr. Abramoff to cooperate in a separate grand jury investigation here focused on his multimillion-dollar lobbying contracts with the gambling operations of Indian tribes.

The Florida indictment charged Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Kidan with one count of conspiracy and five counts of wire fraud - each count carries up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine - and asked that they be forced to pay $60 million in criminal penalties.

Mr. Abramoff has long been one of Washington's best-connected and best-paid lobbyists. In a statement released with the indictment, the agent in charge of the F.B.I.'s Miami field office, Michael S. Clemens, appeared to be referring to Mr. Abramoff's former influence in Republican circles when he said that the criminal charges demonstrate "that regardless of position, status, wealth or associations, fraudulent activity will not be tolerated."

Mr. Abramoff's lobbying for Indian tribes is under scrutiny in Washington by the Justice Department, the Interior Department, the Treasury Department and two Senate committees.


Read More...


Vyan

O'Reilly vs Sheehan - Round 2

One day after smearing protester Cindy Sheehan, O'Reilly claimed he and Malkin were "respectful" to her

On the August 10 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly responded to a viewer e-mail, which accused him and right-wing pundit Michelle Malkin of "savaging" Iraq war protester Cindy Sheehan, by claiming that the viewer was distorting the show's coverage. O'Reilly maintained, "Both Michelle and I were respectful to Mrs. Sheehan, sir." But on the previous day's O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly falsely claimed that Sheehan's "story has been inconsistent" and suggested that she hates the government and the United States. Malkin also falsely claimed Sheehan's "story hasn't checked out," and said Sheehan should be scorned for the views she and O'Reilly falsely imputed to her. And on her weblog, Malkin sought to discredit Sheehan by suggesting that her son who was killed in the Iraq war would not approve of her protest.


From the August 10 edition of The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: Heather O'Neill, New York City: "I see the right-wing smear
tactics have begun against Cindy Sheehan." Well, I don't know where you're seeing that. Not here, Ms. O'Neill. We've reported the story accurately and
fairly.

[...]

Al Nagengast, Payson, Arizona: "O'Reilly, the
savaging of Mrs. Sheehan by you and Michelle Malkin is a new low for The Factor."

Both Michelle and I were respectful to Mrs. Sheehan, sir. You
are distorting and perhaps lying about the segment.

O'Reilly has treated this story neither accurately nor fairly. As Media Matters for America documented, he repeated the false claim that Sheehan, a critic of President Bush and the Iraq war, has changed what she has said about Bush and the war since meeting with him in June 2004.

As for O'Reilly's claim that he and Malkin were "respectful" to Sheehan, the transcript of the August 9 edition of The O'Reilly Factor shows otherwise:

O'REILLY: Well, I have to say that she obviously does because she's the lead story on Michael Moore's Web site on an almost daily basis. And she knows -- I mean, Michael Moore isn't a subtle guy. Everybody knows where he stands. So I mean, I think Mrs. Sheehan bears some responsibility for this and also for the responsibility of other American families who have lost sons and daughters in Iraq, who feel that this kind of behavior borders on treasonous.

You know, you got to think about those people as well. What about their
feelings?

[...]

O'REILLY: She has thrown in -- there is no
question that she has thrown in with the most radical elements in this country. That is -- now, it happened before. Some of the 9-11 families also took this road, you'll remember, and are still active to this day.

There's a big controversy about the 9-11 Museum down at the World Trade Center. And, you know, there are some people who hate this government, hate their country right now, and blaming Bush for all the terrorism and all the horror in the world.

Here's a question, Michelle. Do they have a right to this opinion without being scorned?

MALKIN: No, without being scorned, no. And I wouldn't call it scorned. I would call it scrutiny. And the mainstream media is not doing it. I mean, the New York Times editorial board is all too eager to prop her up as some sort of martyr and to buy her line when clearly her story hasn't checked out.

O'REILLY: Yes, her story hasn't [sic] changed.

MALKIN: And so I think -- and I think that angle you're
emphasizing is absolutely right here, which is the mainstream media just lapping this up and perpetuating myths and inaccuracies when they know it's not the truth.

O'REILLY: Yes. They don't identify -- in the New York Times
editorial today, it was obvious they did not say her story has been
inconsistent. And they did not pinpoint that she is in bed with the radical
left.

Malkin also found another way to smear Sheehan. In an August 8 entry
on her weblog, Malkin purported to divine what Sheehan's son Casey, an Army
specialist who was killed in Iraq in 2004, would think of his mother's
actions:

"I can't imagine Army Spc. Casey Sheehan would stand for his mother's crazy accusations that he was murdered by his commander-in-chief, rather than the Iraqi terrorists who ambushed his convoy."


You can also view O'Reilly speaking with Mrs Kesterman who appeared on his show yesterday in Cindy Sheehan's place.

View Video

Vyan

Wednesday, August 10

Cindy Sheehan stirs up a storm

Cindy Sheehan of Gold Star Mother's for Peace has become a media darling and it's clear that the President and his supporters are running scared. As reported by the New York Times Reports:

Larry Downing/Reuters

Cindy Sheehan paces on a road Sunday near President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Tex. She vows to wait until he talks to her or leaves the ranch.

Published: August 8, 2005

CRAWFORD, Tex., Aug. 7 - President Bush draws antiwar protesters just about wherever he goes, but few generate the kind of attention that Cindy Sheehan has since she drove down the winding road toward his ranch here this weekend and sought to tell him face to face that he must pull all Americans troops out of Iraq now.

Ms. Sheehan's son, Casey, was killed last year in Iraq, after which she became an antiwar activist. She says she and her family met with the president two months later at Fort Lewis in Washington State.

But when she was blocked by the police a few miles from Mr. Bush's 1,600-acre spread on Saturday, the 48-year-old Ms. Sheehan of Vacaville, Calif., was transformed into a news media phenomenon, the new face of opposition to the Iraq conflict at a moment when public opinion is in flux and the politics of the war have grown more complicated for the president and the Republican Party.

Ms. Sheehan has vowed to camp out on the spot until Mr. Bush agrees to meet with her, even if it means spending all of August under a broiling sun by the dusty road. Early on Sunday afternoon, 25 hours after she was turned back as she approached Mr. Bush's ranch, Prairie Chapel, Ms. Sheehan stood red-faced from the heat at the makeshift campsite that she says will be her home until the president relents or leaves to go back to Washington. A reporter from The Associated Press had just finished interviewing her. CBS was taping a segment on her. She had already appeared on CNN, and was scheduled to appear live on ABC on Monday morning. Reporters from across the country were calling her cellphone.

"It's just snowballed," Ms. Sheehan said beside a small stand of trees and a patch of shade that contained a sleeping bag, some candles, a jar of nuts and a few other supplies. "We have opened up a debate in the country."

Seeking to head off exactly the situation that now seems to be unfolding, the administration sent two senior officials out from the ranch on Saturday afternoon to meet with her. But Ms. Sheehan said after talking to the officials - Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, and Joe Hagin, a deputy White House chief of staff - that she would not back down in her demand to see the president.

Her success in drawing so much attention to her message - and leaving the White House in a face-off with an opponent who had to be treated very gently even as she aggressively attacked the president and his policies - seemed to stem from the confluence of several forces.

The deaths last week of 20 Marines from a single battalion has focused public attention on the unremitting pace of casualties in Iraq, providing her an opening to deliver her message that no more lives should be given to the war. At the same time, polls that show falling approval for Mr. Bush's handling of the war have left him open to challenge in a way that he was not when the nation appeared to be more strongly behind him.

It did not hurt her cause that she staged her protest, which she said was more or less spontaneous, at the doorstep of the White House press corps, which spends each August in Crawford with little to do, minimal access to Mr. Bush and his aides, and an eagerness for any new story.

As the mother of an Army specialist who was killed at age 24 in the Sadr City section of Baghdad on April 4, 2004, Ms. Sheehan's story is certainly compelling. She is also articulate, aggressive in delivering her message and has information that most White House reporters have not heard before: how Mr. Bush handles himself when he meets behind closed doors with the families of soldiers killed in Iraq.


It's been several days now since Cindy began her vigil, and it appears that there is a literally a storm raining down on her - and that she's caught the flu. In addition she's been shifted around from place to place by the Sherriff's who seem unable to confirm exactly who own what part of the road leading the President Bush's ranch, and lastly there are rumors that she is scheduled to be arrested on Thursday.

Fortunately this will be after her appearance on the Bill O'Reilly show tonight. This following O'Reilly's discussion just yesterday with Micheal Malkin of how Cindy is being used and manipulated by the anti-war, anti-military, anti-american Far Left - represented by Michael Moore, CommonDreams.org and Code Pink. As Randy Rhodes of Air America was just saying, this is identical to the strategy used to assault Lila Lipschutz the mother of a fallen Iraqi veteran as she attempted to visit the White House during Micheal Moore's film Farenheit 9/11.

It may be true that Cindy and many of these organizations have common cause to ask why we went into Iraq when the intelligence and evidence of imminent threat from Iraq was so flimsy, and further why we have to remain when 136,000 Iraqi troops have supposedly been trained?

All Cindy wants to do is ask a question of the President - "What noble cause did her son die for?"
There's is little likelyhood that will give a straight an honest answer to that question, particurly when he already met with Cindy in 2004 and refused to answer any questions at all. Particularly, when you look at Condoleeza Rice's answer a question about the Downing Street Memo's.

From the June 19 edition of ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos:

STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, there's also been a lot of talk back here in the United States about these Downing Street memos, the minutes of a meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair in the spring and summer of 2002 where they discussed their meetings with the United States. I want to show you what one mother, Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a U.S. soldier, had to say about that memo this week --

SHEEHAN (video clip): The so-called Downing Street memo, dated 23 July, 2002, only confirms what I already suspected. The leadership of this country rushed us into an illegal invasion of another sovereign country on prefabricated and cherry-picked intelligence.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you respond to Mrs. Sheehan?

RICE: Well, I can only say what the president has said many, many times. The United States of America and its coalition decided that it was finally time to deal with the threat of Saddam Hussein. There had been multiple resolutions against Saddam Hussein and his activities -- everything from concerns about his weapons of mass destruction programs and his continued unwillingness to answer the legitimate questions of the international system about those programs, his having used weapons of mass destruction in the past, everything concerning the way that he treated his own people. After all, we found more than 300,000 people in mass graves.

You know, people are talking about, in the U.N. [United Nations] reform, a responsibility to protect [people]. We happen to think that the Security Council is the place that that discussion ought to take place. When you consider what the Iraqi people had gone through in the Saddam Hussein regime's reign, what about the responsibility to the Iraqi people?

We finally undertook an action that got rid of one of the worst dictators in modern times, sitting in the center of the world's most troubled region. And sitting here today in Jerusalem, I can tell you, George, that this region is far better for it, and we now really have a chance to build a different kind of Middle East with a different Iraq in the center of it, with potentially a Palestinian state that is democratic and with changes taking place all over this region that are democratizing, that will be more stabilizing and that will bring greater security to the American people. Saddam Hussein is gone, and that's a good thing.


Vyan

Sunday, August 7

Ty Taylor: Rock Star Novelty?

A mini-controversy seems to have erupted among some fans of the CBS Show "Rock Star:INXS" over whether or not Ty Taylor, easily one of the best singers and performers in the competition, would be an appropriate fit as front person for a band such as INXS since Ty, is a black man. One would think that such an issue would have been long settled before 2005, but apparently it is not.


It's not as if Ty is anywhere near the first person who has been in this position, and delt with the question. Far beyond the Grammy Winning Rock band
Living Colour and their lead singer Corey Glover, whom Ty has already - unfairly - been compared to -- there has been a long history of Rock Bands front by black men and women.

Mother's Finest was originally formed in the 1976 featuring a multi-racial lineup. Originally mixing funk, R&b and rock the group gradually evolved into a hardrocking powerhouse in the early 90's that would give Ozzy Osborne and Black Sabbath a good run. The group is still together, still touring, has released 10 CD's so far and are considered huge superstars in England and Europe. The highest U.S chart position was #22 on the Black Music Charts in 1979.


Formed at about the same time as Living Colour in New York, the group 24/7 Spyz featured a predominantly black lineup fronted origially by P. Fluid, and later by Jeff Broadnax the group has released 8 studio albums, the latest being Heavy Metal Soul by the Pound.

King's X is a group from Houston Texas that has been together over 20 years, releasing 11 CD's on Megaforce, Atlantic and Metal Blade Records. They even appeared at Woodstock II, taking the stage just after Blues Traveller and right before Sheryl Crow. Their latest CD, a live disc, was released last november and is called "Live All Over Place". They tour the U.S. every year and occasionally Europe at venues about the size of the House of Blues and have developed a loyal and devoted following. Their biggest hits so far have been "It's Love" (#6 on the Mainstream Rock 1990), "Black Flag" (#17 Mainstream Rock 1992) and "Dogman" (#20 Mainstream Rock 1994).

Stuck Mojo formed in 1993 as part of the trend of Rap/Rock bands of the mid 90's, ultimately releasing 6 CD's peaking at number 48 on the Heatseakers chart with the song "Rising".

Follow For Now is an all black rock, soul and ska group that debuted in 1991, they never charted - but theri lead singer David Ryan Harris went on to work with former Arrested Development vocalist Dionne Farris and to found the group Brand New Immortals.


Ra is a relatively new group from East Rutherford NJ with two CD's out so far whose song "Rectifier" went to #30 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks in 2003.


Skindred is also a new group that has been making waves in the hardcore/metal scene with a unique blend of ska & reggae and hardcore - following in the footsteps of the seminal hardcore group - Badbrains. They had the #1 Reggae record of 2004, and hit #14 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks that same year.


Moke was a british group that has toured with King's X (see above), they released two albums. I've seen them live and they were a great group but establish no significant chart position in the U.S. before they broke up.



The self-titled debut CD by
Sevendust was released in 1997 and so far has four follow-ups. Their third album Animosity went to #1 on the Top independant Albums chart in 2001 and #28 on the Billboard 200. Their 2004 CD Seasons also went to #1 on the Independant Chart and they've had 11 songs in the Top 40 Mainstream Rock tracks, plus 5 in the Top 40 Modern Rock tracks - the highest position being the song "Denial" at #14.



Killswitch Engage is a group that has been touring with group such as Slipknot as has so far hit number #21 on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart.



Body Count is a hardcore/rap/punk outfit fronted by Rapper/Actor Ice T that has released three CD's so far and toured the world several times. Their latest CD, "Violent Demise: Last Days", was released on 1997 and besides getting Charlton Heston to quote their lyrics on TV, they've also managed to hit #26 on the Billboard 200 with their self-titled debut.

Vyan

CIA Agent sues Government for making him support WMD lies

From Last Weeks New York Times:
WASHINGTON, July 31 - The Central Intelligence Agency was told by an informant in the spring of 2001 that Iraq had abandoned a major element of its nuclear weapons program, but the agency did not share the information with other agencies or with senior policy makers, a former C.I.A. officer has charged.
How do you "fix the facts around the policy" to invade Iraq at all costs? You ignore credible evidence by experienced persons which indicates that there is no good reason to consider Iraq an imminent threat - that's how. More from the Times Article:
In a lawsuit filed in federal court here in December, the former C.I.A. officer, whose name remains secret, said that the informant told him that Iraq's uranium enrichment program had ended years earlier and that centrifuge components from the scuttled program were available for examination and even purchase.

The officer, an employee at the agency for more than 20 years, including several years in a clandestine unit assigned to gather intelligence related to illicit weapons, was fired in 2004.

In his lawsuit, he says his dismissal was punishment for his reports questioning the agency's assumptions on a series of weapons-related matters. Among other things, he charged that he had been the target of retaliation for his refusal to go along with the agency's intelligence conclusions.

Michelle Neff, a C.I.A. spokeswoman, said the agency would not comment on the lawsuit.

It was not possible to verify independently the former officer's allegations concerning his reporting on illicit weapons.

His information on the Iraqi nuclear program, described as coming from a significant source, would have arrived at a time when the C.I.A. was starting to reconsider whether Iraq had revived its efforts to develop nuclear weapons. The agency's conclusion that this was happening, eventually made public by the Bush administration in 2002 as part of its rationale for war, has since been found to be incorrect.

Now on the one hand this could simply be the act of disgruntled ex-employee -- and then again it might not. We have to remember that when the new CIA Director Porter Goss was installed in 2004, there was a massive exodus and firings among top CIA officials, particularly for partisan reasons. Those who were "disloyal" to the President's agenda (ie. those who told the truth) were removed, so it really shouldn't be that surprising that at least one of these people has filed suit and is making the claims that the NYT reports.

Exactly how much of his case can be proven without violating National Security remains the biggest obsticle to determining if this person is just an annoying gadfly, or a truly courageous patriot as the vein of Lt. Col Karen Kwaitkowski and former CIA Bin Laden Desk Chief Michael Sheurer.

Vyan