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Signs of the Times for Fri, 03 Feb 2006

by Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
31 Jan 06
“Today the U.S. Senate caved and voted for the confirmation of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. Forty two senators put up a good fight but, at the end of the day, it wasn’t enough to keep a serious threat to our rights and freedoms off our nation’s highest court.

With the exception of the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee and a few other senators, neither Republicans nor Democrats were willing to address Alito’s record of hostility to civil rights. Particularly troubling are the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, and others who profess a commitment to principles respecting civil rights, who were unwilling even to question, much less challenge Alito’s views.

The American people deserve much better. Today our elected leaders abandoned their obligation to protect those most reliant on an independent judiciary. This is a bitter day that the civil rights community will long remember. We have no doubt that Alito’s confirmation will take a heavy toll on our nation’s hard-won civil rights gains.”

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By Thomas Ferraro
Tue Jan 31, 2006 9:03 AM ET
WASHINGTON - Conservative federal appeals court judge Samuel Alito appeared certain to win Senate confirmation on Tuesday as President George W. Bush's second successful nominee to the Supreme Court.

Following several days of debate, the Senate was to vote on Alito, who could move the high court to the right. Alito had a commitment from a required simple majority of senators to be approved.

But the vote was certain to be largely along party lines and closer than the 78-22 tally John Roberts, Bush's first high-court nominee, received in September in being approved as U.S. chief justice.

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Comment: Well folks, it's just about done. The Bush Reich will have full control of the judicial system. Appealing to the nation's highest court on issues of civil liberties and related "anti-terror" laws will be useless. Hitler would be proud.

by Doug Thompson
President George W. Bush’s ability to lie his way out of trouble is failing him as the White House tries unsuccessfully to hide the truth about the President’s close relationship to scandal-scarred lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Nobody – Republican or Democrat – buys Bush’s ludicrous claims that he didn’t know Abramoff, the well-connected GOP lobbyist who raised more than $100,000 for his campaign, served on his transition team and whose lobbying logs listed more than 200 contacts a year with the White House.

“The president has dug himself into a very deep hole on this one,” says political scientist George Harleigh. “He’s told one lie too many.”

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By Joe Strupp
30 Jan 06
NEW YORK-- White House photographers aren't looking for a handout these days. In fact, they've gotten far too many.

While the practice of providing news organizations with staged photos of events involving the president goes back decades, veteran shooters at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue say it has become almost a regular occurrence with the Bush Administration. A review of Associated Press archives found that during the entire eight years of the Clinton administration, only 100 handout photos of events were released to the press. During the first five years of Bush's presidency, more than 500 have been distributed.

The key is that each of these events was closed to news photographers.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Juan Cole
Informed Comment
1. US economic growth during the last quarter was an anemic 1.1%, the worst in 3 years.

2. The US inflation rate has jumped to 3.4 percent, the highest rate in 5 years.

3. The number of daily attacks in Iraq rose from 52 in December, 2004 to 77 in December, 2005.

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By Norman Solomon,
Posted January 30, 2006.
Journalists should be asking Bush hard questions about why he lied -- the way Oprah interrogated James Frey last week.

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by Doug Thompson
31 Jan 06
Top-level administration officials four years ago told President George W. Bush he as “breaking the law” by ordering the National Security Agency to spy on Americans and warned the President that his actions could bring his administration down.

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30 Jan 06
WASHINGTON (AP) - Trying to calm anxieties about soaring energy costs, President Bush is using his State of the Union address this week to focus on a package of energy of proposals aimed at bringing fuel-saving technologies out of the lab and into use.

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Comment: Another Bush speech, another pack of lies... like he really cares?

Morning Report
Mike Ely's clever Firefox extension, the U.S. Department of Homeland Insecurity Idiocy Level, translates the Bush regime's color-coded alerts into something just as useless, but funnier

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by Charles Sullivan
Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich from the poor, or those who have some property against those who have none at all. --Adam Smith (1776) Wealth of Nations

Democratic: Pertaining to or characterized by social equity.

Plutocracy: The rule or power of wealth or the wealthy. A class or group ruling or exercising power by virtue of its wealth.

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Lowell Sun Washington Bureau
01/27/2006 11:37:00 AM
Online 'encyclopedia' allows anyone to edit entries, and congressional staffers do just that to bosses' bios

WASHINGTON -- The staff of U.S. Rep Marty Meehan wiped out references to his broken term-limits pledge as well as information about his huge campaign war chest in an independent biography of the Lowell Democrat on a Web site that bills itself as the "world's largest encyclopedia," The Sun has learned.

The Meehan alterations on represent just two of more than 1,000 changes made by congressional staffers at the U.S. House of Representatives in the past six months.

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by James Ridgeway
January 31st, 2006
The reason for the government not turning over documents and making available top officials to testify about the Hurricane Katrina debacle before Congress is not just that the documents and testimony would reveal incompetence in evacuating the stranded, bringing in relief supplies, and cleaning up the mess. No, the paper trail is bound to demonstrate in detail that the federal government knew a good 48 hours before the storm hit what was bound to happen, but did virtually nothing to protect lives and property.

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by Matthew Cardinale
Editor, Atlanta Progressive News
January 30, 2006
(APN) US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appears to have lied about the President’s approval of illegal domestic wiretapping, a letter from US Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) to Mr. Gonzales suggests.

In Gonzales’s confirmation hearings several months ago, Gonzales advised Feingold, "It is not the policy or the agenda of this President to authorize actions that would be in circumvention of our criminal statutes," according to the letter, released to Atlanta Progressive News today. The conversation was in response to a direct line of questioning of Gonzales by Feingold over Gonzales's views on the ability of the President to approve illegal wiretapping, and more broadly, disregard Congressional laws either actively or through lack of enforcement.

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By Staff and Wire Reports
Jan 31, 2006
President Bush's nominee to head the federal mine safety agency issued an urgent advisory to Pennsylvania's mine operators to update their maps after the Quecreek mine was flooded in 2002 and almost killed nine workers.

The following year, a grand jury determined the state's underground mine safety agency _ then led by Bush nominee Richard Stickler _ should have identified the mapping problems sooner. At the time, Stickler had been running the mine agency for five years.

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