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Maries Two Cents

Far Right Conservative And Proud Of It!..... Stories That I Think Need Special Attention, And, Of Course, My Two Cents :-)

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Homeland Security Advisory

June 30, 2006

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Space Shuttle Discovery Set To Launch/Well Maybe Some Other Time

Shuttle Launch Is Calculated Risk on NASA's Part
Friday, June 30, 2006

The world will soon know if his gamble pays off.

Discovery was scheduled to blast off from the Kennedy Space Center at 3:49 p.m. EDT Saturday, the first launch of a space shuttle in almost a year and only the second since the Columbia disaster in 2003.

Storm clouds forecast for Saturday afternoon remained the chief obstacle to launch.

The seven astronauts say they are confident of Griffin's decision to go ahead, but hardly any astronaut ever publicly expresses fears before a launch.

Discovery Ready To Be Taken To Launch Pad 39-B

"I believe we'll be as safe as we were on my other flights," said Steve Lindsey, Discovery's commander, who has flown on three previous shuttle missions. "I haven't really seen a decision made that I didn't agree with."

Faced with a 2010 deadline to finish building the international space station and end the shuttle program, Griffin wants to get the shuttles flying again and believes a delay now would create scheduling pressure toward the end of the decade.

He has acknowledged, though, that he would likely shut down the shuttle program if there is another vehicle lost like Columbia or Challenger.

"Looking at the whole picture, I'm willing to take a little bit of programatic risk now — notice I did not say crew risk ... in order to prevent an excessive build-up of programatic risk later on," Griffin said recently. "This is, in fact, what they pay me to do."

The board that investigated the Columbia accident faulted NASA three years ago for placing schedule concerns ahead of safety, squelching dissent and steamrolling over the concerns of engineers who worried that foam from the huge external fuel tank had hit Columbia.

Fiery gases were able to penetrate the wing where the foam knocked a hole, causing the shuttle to disintegrate. All seven astronauts were killed.

This time around, NASA has aired its internal dissent publicly.

Bryan O'Connor, the space agency's chief safety officer, and chief engineer Christopher Scolese recommended at a meeting two weeks ago that the shuttle not fly until further design changes were made to 34 areas on the fuel tank known as ice-frost ramps.

These wedge-shaped brackets run up and down the tank holding in place pressurization lines. Foam insulation is used to prevent ice from building up on the tank when it is filled with supercold fuel. Small pieces of foam have snapped off during previous launches.

Shuttle Crew

At the meeting, Scolese wrote in a report that he signed, "I remain no-go based upon the potential loss of the vehicle."

NASA has refused Freedom of Information Act requests from The Associated Press, Florida Today and perhaps other news organizations for recordings of the meeting, even though the agency released the same information last year.

NASA engineers redesigned the external fuel tank after the Columbia accident, and again after a 1-pound piece of foam insulation came off the tank during the launch of Discovery last summer.

In the most recent change, more than 35 pounds of foam have been removed in what NASA describes as the biggest aerodynamic change ever made to the shuttle's launch system.

NASA tried other design changes to the ice-frost ramps, such as removing foam, but they didn't hold up well in wind tunnel tests.

O'Connor and Scolese agreed with Griffin's rationale that the risk was only to the shuttle and not the crew, since the astronauts could take refuge in the international space station until a rescue vehicle is sent up. They did not appeal Griffin's decision.

"It's clearly a risk. Mike knows it's a risk," said John Logsdon, director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, who served on the board that investigated the Columbia accident. "What's good about this process is the people who think the risk is too great had their case fully heard with ... I believe, a prudent judgment to its outcome."

NASA managers concede some foam will fall off the tank, but they don't think the pieces will be large enough to cause damage.

"There will always be a risk associated with human spaceflight," Douglas Osheroff, a Stanford physics professor who served on the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, said in an e-mail. "I am not so concerned about the ice-frost ramps, assuming that NASA has done its homework."

Discovery's seven-member crew will test shuttle inspection and repair techniques, bring supplies and equipment to the international space station and deliver the European Space Agency's Thomas Reiter for a six-month stay aboard the orbiting outpost.

Astronauts Piers Sellers and Mike Fossum will make two spacewalks and possibly a third, which would add a day to what is planned to be a 12-day mission.

Entering NASA 6-30-06

Astronaut colleagues of the Discovery crew say it makes sense to launch the shuttle now to see how it flies with the current changes to the tank.

"What we don't want to do is smash-down too far on one side where we're so interested in listening to everybody's point of view and doing more testing that we actually don't launch again," said astronaut Pam Melroy, who will become the second female commander of a space shuttle next year. "We also don't want to go too far the other way, where we say 'Shut up everybody. We're going to go fly!'"

NASA Homepage

I dont know about anyone else but every time I see one of these things go up it gives me goosebumps! Godspeed Shuttle Mission Crew, for a safe Mission and safe Return Home!

Well it looks like the shuttle will have to remain on launch pad 39-B for a while!

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President Bush Plays Host To Japanese Prime Minister At Graceland

Off the Beaten Path, Bush Takes a Detour to Graceland

The Memphis, Tenn., home of the King of Rock and Roll will host a summit of sorts Friday when President George W. Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi travel to Graceland for a personal tour of one of America's wackiest — and some may argue tackiest — tourist attractions.

While it's the first time a sitting president has taken diplomacy from the Oval Office to the Jungle Room, it's the latest in a long line of work-related sightseeing trips by the executive branch.

Long before Richard Nixon admired the Great Wall of China and Ronald Reagan lifted a pint in Ballyporeen, Ireland, Theodore Roosevelt blazed a trail to Central America, becoming the first president to take a trip abroad, according to the State Department. His visit? A 1906 trip to inspect the construction of the Panama Canal.

Though Reagan and other presidents have used sites such as Berlin's Brandenburg Gate as breathtaking backdrops to important speeches, some, like Bill Clinton, savored the meet-and-greet with the locals.

"Clinton was noted for wanting to see all of the key local sights and reveling in that," said Larry J. Sabato, the executive director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. "President Bush does not like to waste time on tourist attractions."

And yet, during his two terms in office, Bush has clocked some serious travel time to the world's wonders. He has made more excursions to national parks and monuments than any other president, according to David Barna, National Park Service chief of public affairs. Abroad, Bush has toured the Mokoldi Nature Reserve in Botswana and celebrated the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg in Russia.

The trip to Graceland, however, is a first for a president while in office, said Todd Morgan, director of media and creative development for Elvis Presley Enterprises.

"We've had many foreign ambassadors and certainly our share of entertainment celebrities, but we've never had a sitting U.S. president visit Graceland," Morgan said.

The first couple "look forward to introducing the prime minister to the beauty and warm hospitality of the people of the Volunteer State," White House press secretary Tony Snow said on June 13.

The White House declined to comment further.

The Graceland visit is a favor to a friend, Sabato said.

"[Bush] is doing it because he's been close to the Japanese prime minister and this the Japanese prime minister's choice because he's been an Elvis fan," Sabato said.

By widely published accounts, Koizumi is smitten with the hip-shakin' crooner. Along with sharing a Jan. 8 birthday with Elvis, the prime minister chose his 25 favorite Elvis tunes for a charity CD in 2002. Koizumi serenaded Bush on his birthday last year with Presley's 1956 hit "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You."

Tourist Diplomacy

U.S. leaders have been traveling abroad regularly since Teddy Roosevelt's initial visit to Panama.

President-elect Woodrow Wilson vacationed in Bermuda following the 1912 election and Herbert Hoover made a goodwill visit to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1928 as president-elect. Franklin D. Roosevelt chose to go fishing — twice — in the Bahamas.

Not every presidential sightseeing adventure has gone well. An assassin shot William McKinley in the Temple of Music at the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1901. He died a week later.

Since John F. Kennedy became "the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris" in 1961, presidents have used foreign visits to further agendas rather than gawk at tourist attractions.

"The tenor of politics has changed since Kennedy in terms of the use of PR and television and other presidents have just built on it," said Joan Hoff, a history professor at Montana State University in Bozeman, Mont.

Presidents now travel more frequently and more often for work, rather than pleasure.

"There are some politicians for whom a successful day is considered one where you get home to sleep in your own bed," said Sabato, noting that Bush will make the occasional touristy visit, but prefers to keep it to a minimum.

"He's all business," Sabato said. "He wants to do the business and then get home."

It's a marked difference from his international counterparts, who indulge in their personal pursuits while abroad.

Martial arts aficionado and Russian Federation president Vladimir Putin, for instance, has sparred with judo champs in Japan, and in March, he made a visit to the Shaolin Temple in China's Hunan Province, famed for its kung-fu monks.

Presidents abroad tend to "only do the politically correct visit honoring war heroes or battles and things like that and that makes sense from a political point of view," Hoff said.

Koizumi has raised eyebrows in Japan with repeat visits to the highly controversial Yasukuni Shrine for war dead, including men executed for war crimes in the 1930s and 1940s, in Tokyo.

"Of course no president would visit that particular Japanese shrine," Hoff said. "But Reagan did make a mistake of going to a cemetery where Nazis were buried."

Hoff was referring to the 1985 visit by Reagan to the Kolmeshohe Cemetery near Bitburg, a cemetery that held Nazi war dead. Reagan made the visit under the impression that it also contained American troops.

"You have to have such sympathy for presidents," Hoff said. "They can't know the intricacies of history and they can very often, especially abroad, bumble into things and make mistakes. Clearly their aides are going to know the intricacies of American history, but sometimes there's a real lacuna of information to say the least."

All Shook Up

Still, Graceland just may be the folksiest attraction ever visited by a state leader.

"The Graceland thing is a little bit over the top, but on the other hand, I've been there," Hoff said.

So too have a laundry list of celebrities.

While Dollywood can claim a visit by Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander and Disney World a royal nod by the late Princess Diana, Graceland boasts royals and leaders from the former Yugoslavia, Korea, India, China and France. Even a former president, Jimmy Carter, paid his respects at Elvis' grave with former first lady Rosalynn and daughter, Amy, in 1991.

"Elvis and Graceland are very well on the map which is why from all parts of the world, from all backgrounds — even the high and mighty — want to come see Graceland and have the Elvis experience," Morgan said.

The visit won't hurt Bush's voter base of NASCAR fans either, Hoff said.

When Bush and Koizumi enter Graceland's musically noted gates, they will be at the mercy of the King's court. Elvis' ex-wife, Priscilla Presley, and his daughter, Lisa Marie, will give a personal tour of the house, Morgan said.

There's no word yet on whether they'll get to see the very private inner sanctum — the second-floor bedrooms — or if they'll linger at the display case of law-enforcement badges, including the one given to Elvis in 1970 when he met Nixon at the White House.

And Graceland is gearing up for Koizumi's trip as if it were a visit, well, from the King himself.

"We're really looking forward to getting to thank him in person for all the wonderful things he's said about Elvis over the years," Morgan said.

VIDEO: Koizumi Trying To Be Like Elvis. Sorry Koisumi I like you and all but there was only 1 King.
Click Here
I cant help it but this whole thing cracks me up. Especially Koizumi singing "Love Me Tender". This whole thing is so Ironic. Elvis proudly served in The Army, and here is the Prime Minister of Japan at his Mansion! Elvis is probably looking down smiling. What a Great Ally He Is, I hope the next Japanese Prime Minister is just as Lovable.

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Pime Minister Of Japan Probably Last Visit To White House

President Bush to Host Japanese Prime Minister at Graceland
Thursday June 29, 2006 6:37pm Reporter: Anne Pressly Posted By: Amanda Manatt

Memphis, TN - President Bush and the Prime Minister of Japan will soon be on their way to visit the home of the King of Rock and Roll. The visit to Graceland will wrap up two days of talks on international security.

President Bush and Prime Minister Junichiro are scheduled to arrive in Memphis Friday morning. Prime Minister Koizumi is a self- prescribed Elvis fanatic. However, when the president and prime minister walk through the doors of the mansion, they will both be touring Graceland for the very first time.

Memphis, Tennesse, is planning a welcome fit for a king. As of Friday, Graceland will be the only residence in the country, aside from embassies and presidential retreats, to ever host a joint visit between a sitting president and a foreign head of state. Some tourists in town to visit the late Presley’s home had no idea they had chosen the same week to tour Graceland as the president and the prime minister until the cameras showed up.

Prime Minister Koizumi arrived in the States Wednesday. Thursday is all business for the prime minister and President Bush. The allies are set to discuss North Korea and international security in Washington before heading south to the home of the prime minister’s all time favorite musician.
I Like that guy. It cracks me up that he wanted to visit Graceland and that He Loves Elvis!

June 29, 2006

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Jim Bunning R-KY: N.Y. Times Committed Treason

NewsMax Is Reporting:
Sen. Jim Bunning: N.Y. Times Committed Treason

Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., has added his voice to those charging that the New York Times committed treason by revealing details of a government program that tracks financial transactions by al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.

"That the press wouldn’t have better sense than to leak critical information on terrorists so that they know what we’re doing – that scares the devil out of me,” the Kentucky Republican told reporters.

Bunning said Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should empanel a grand jury to decide if the Times’ publisher, editors and writers who were involved in the story should be indicted for treason, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports.

"In my opinion, that is giving aid and comfort to the enemy; therefore it is an act of treason,” Bunning said. "What you write in a war and what is legal to do for the federal government, or state government, whoever it is, is very important in winning the war on terror.”

The Senator’s spokesman Mike Reynard said Bunning was singling out the Times, even though the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal published similar articles, because the New York paper was the first to run the story.

"The New York Times drove this story,” Reynard told the Courier-Journal.

Former Attorney General Ed Meese on Monday accused the New York Times of "giving aid and comfort to the enemy,” a term that fits the definition of treason.

And on Sunday, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., urged the Bush administration to seek criminal charges against the Times for its reporting on the secret financial-monitoring program.

We’re at war,” the New York Republican declared, "and for the Times to release information about secret operations and methods is treasonous.”
NewsMax Is Also Reporting:
Coulter: N.Y. Times Commited Treason

Breaking from

Coulter: N.Y. Times Committed 'Treason'

Ann Coulter once said that her "only regret with [Oklahoma City bomber] Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times building."

Her acid comments about America's most influential newspaper no doubt found new meaning in the wake of the Times' decision to disclose top-secret programs the U.S. government is using to capture terrorists.

"Thanks to The New York Times, the easiest job in the world right now is: 'Head of Counterintelligence -- Al-Qaida.'" Coulter wrote Wednesday in her syndicated column. "You just have to read the New York Times over morning coffee, and you're done by 10 a.m."

Coulter was writing about what she called "the latest of a long list of formerly top-secret government antiterrorism operations that have been revealed by the Times," noting that "last week the paper printed the details of a government program tracking terrorists' financial transactions that has already led to the capture of major terrorists and their handmaidens in the U.S."

To Coulter, a lawyer, that amounted to nothing less than treason, and she wants the newspaper punished for betraying a vital antiterrorism operation meant to prevent future 9/11s.

"Maybe treason ended during the Vietnam War when Jane Fonda sat laughing and clapping on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun used to shoot down American pilots," Ann recalled. "She came home and resumed her work as a big movie star without the slightest fear of facing any sort of legal sanction.

"Fast forward to today, when New York Times publisher 'Pinch' Sulzberger has just been named al-Qaida's 'Employee of the Month' for the 12th straight month.

Observing that prior to the Vietnam War, "this country took treason seriously," she charged that Americans are now being told that newspapers have a right to commit treason because of "freedom of the press."

Liberals, she wrote, invoke 'freedom of the press' like some talismanic formulation that requires us all to fall prostrate in religious ecstasy. On liberals' theory of the First Amendment, the safest place for Osama bin Laden isn't in Afghanistan or Pakistan; it's in the New York Times building."

Freedom of them press, she explained "does not mean the government cannot prosecute reporters and editors for treason -- or for any other crime. The First Amendment does not mean Times editor Bill Keller could kidnap a child and issue his ransom demands from the New York Times editorial page. He could not order a contract killing on the op-ed page. Nor can he take out a contract killing on Americans with a Page One story on a secret government program being used to track terrorists who are trying to kill Americans ...

"The federal statute on treason, 18 USC 2381, provides in relevant part: 'Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States ... adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000.'"

Citing the cases of at Ezra Pound, Mildred Gillars ("Axis Sally") and Iva Toguri D'Aquino ("Tokyo Rose") who were all charged with treason for radio broadcasts intended to demoralize the troops during World War II, Coulter wrote that the first two were were severely punished and Pound committed to a mental hospital.

"There was no evidence that in any of these cases the treasonable broadcasts ever put a single American life in danger. The law on treason doesn't require it," she wrote.
So Much For The Times Concern For Privacy Rights
Read Full Story Here

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Flag Abuse Ban Goes Down In Flames

The San Fransisco Chronicle Is Reporting:
Senate defeats flag abuse ban by single vote
Edward Epstein, Chronicle Washington Bureau

Washington -- The Senate fell one vote short Tuesday of the two-thirds needed to pass a constitutional amendment that would have given Congress the power to ban desecration of the U.S. flag after a debate that pitted the importance of the nation's symbols against a citizen's right to freedom of speech.

The failure of the amendment, pushed to the floor by the Republican leadership, echoed the defeat this month of an amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

The 66-to-34 vote on the one-sentence flag amendment disappointed advocates who had believed they could muster the 67 votes needed for passage in the Senate and send the amendment to the states.

But opponents were heartened that they again had defeated what they said was an unprecedented attempt to turn back free speech rights and a Republican election-year ploy to rally the party's conservative base for the November congressional elections.

"It's a simple amendment, but it speaks to the fact that the flag is the single symbol that protects our liberty and freedom," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said before the vote, which he timed to be close to the Fourth of July holiday.

The vote was another setback for Frist, who also had pushed the same-sex marriage amendment to the floor earlier this month. That measure failed on June 7 to get the 60 votes needed to cut off debate and force a final vote.

The proposed flag amendment, which in its entirety reads, "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States," was a bipartisan measure. Its chief sponsor was Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and the chief co-sponsor was Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who is running for re-election in November.

California's other senator, Democrat Barbara Boxer, opposed the amendment, as she did when the Senate voted on it in 2000. The amendment received 63 votes then.

This was the amendment's fourth defeat in the Senate. The House has passed it six times by at least the necessary two-thirds vote, including last year's 286-130 vote.

Feinstein, who flies the U.S. flag over her San Francisco and Washington homes, has been an outspoken advocate of a flag desecration amendment since the U.S. Supreme Court, ruling in two 5-4 votes in 1989 and 1990, found that federal and state laws banning flag burning and other acts of desecration were unconstitutional infringements of free speech.

On the Senate floor, the 73-year-old Feinstein recalled how, as a young girl, she was inspired when she picked up the Feb. 24, 1945, edition of The Chronicle and saw photographer Joe Rosenthal's famous picture of Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima.

With a blow-up of the Rosenthal photo next to her, she described it as a wartime "bolt of electricity" that left her with an abiding feeling that the flag was more than a symbol.

Quoting the late Supreme Court Justice Byron White, she said, "The flag is itself a monument, subject to civil protection."

"Freedom of speech enshrined in the First Amendment is the cornerstone of our great nation," she said. "But any thought expressed in the burning of the flag can be expressed equally well in another manner."

On the other side, World War II Medal of Honor recipient Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, said the proposed amendment was a mistake.

"I have no patience for those who defile our flag," said Inouye, who lost an arm in Italy in 1945. But he said limiting speech was dangerous.

"We should make sure all Americans have the right to express themselves, even those who harbor evil thoughts," Inouye said.

Boxer said she also found flag desecration repugnant but still opposed the amendment.

"There are many things in life that we find offensive, repugnant to beliefs that we hold dear,'' she said. "But we cannot amend the Constitution every time there is something we consider outrageous, offensive or repugnant.''

Hatch said the debate wasn't really about the flag or free speech. Rather, he said, it was about Congress taking back its right to control the Constitution from unelected Supreme Court members and restoring the pre-1989 situation. "All we want to do is restore power back to the Congress," he said.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., saw the flag debate mainly as election year maneuvering. "Our Republican leaders' priorities are being driven by election-year politics," Kennedy said.

Hatch retorted, "Election year politics? How does he explain the fact that the House has passed this six times and that 50 states, including his, have petitioned us for this amendment?

"Is this the most important thing the Senate can be doing now? I can tell you it is,'' Hatch continued. "We had five unelected justices change the Constitution and usurping the power of the Congress."

Fifty-two Republicans and 14 Democrats approved the amendment. Thirty Democrats, three Republicans and the Senate's one independent opposed the measure.

Amendment advocates said flag burning isn't speech. Retired Army Maj. Gen Patrick Brady, chairman of the Citizens Flag Alliance, said, "This is not about flag burning. It's about people who say flag burning is speech. Burning the flag is not speech, period."

Brady said that if the amendment ever wins approval and allows Congress and the states to impose flag desecration penalties, he isn't looking for heavy penalties that would turn those convicted into martyrs.

"I'd give them a ticket and set them loose," said Brady, who received the Medal of Honor as a helicopter rescue pilot in Vietnam.

Before rejecting the amendment, the Senate voted 64-36 against an amendment offered by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., the Democrats' deputy leader.

Narrowly drawn to give it a chance to pass judicial review, it would have made it against the law to damage a U.S. flag on federal property with intent of breaching the peace or intimidating other people. It also would have prohibited unapproved demonstrations at military funerals.

Senate vote on flag amendment
The Senate failed by one vote, 66-34, to reach the two-thirds necessary to pass a constitutional amendment that would have given Congress the power to ban the desecration of the U.S. flag. Here is the vote:


Alexander, R-Tenn., Allard, R-Colo., Allen, R-Va., Baucus, D-Mont., Bayh, D-Ind., Bond, R-Mo., Brownback, R-Kan., Bunning, R-Ky., Burns, R-Mont., Burr, R-N.C., Chambliss, R-Ga., Coburn, R-Okla., Cochran, R-Miss., Coleman, R-Minn., Collins, R-Maine, Cornyn, R-Texas, Craig, R-Idaho., Crapo, R-Idaho, Dayton, D-Minn., DeMint, R-S.C., DeWine, R-Ohio, Dole, R-N.C., Domenici, R-N.M., Ensign, R-Nev., Enzi, R-Wyo., Feinstein, D-Calif., Frist, R-Tenn., Graham, R-S.C., Grassley, R-Iowa, Gregg, R-N.H., Hagel, R-Neb., Hatch, R-Utah, Hutchison, R-Texas, Inhofe, R-Okla., Isakson, R-Ga., Johnson, D-S.D., Kyl, R-Ariz., Landrieu, D-La., Lincoln, D-Ark., Lott, R-Miss., Lugar, R-Ind., Martinez, R-Fla., McCain, R-Ariz., Menendez, D-N.J., Murkowski, R-Alaska, Nelson, D-Fla., Nelson , D-Neb., Reid, D-Nev., Roberts, R-Kan., Rockefeller , D-W.Va., Salazar, D-Colo., Santorum, R-Pa., Sessions, R-Ala., Shelby, R-Ala., Smith, R-Ore., Snowe, R-Maine, Specter , R-Pa., Stabenow, D-Mich., Stevens, R-Alaska, Sununu, R-N.H. Talent, R-Mo., Thomas, R-Wyo., Thune, R-S.D., Vitter, R-La., Voinovich, R-Ohio, Warner, R-Va.


Akaka, D-Hawaii, Bennett, R-Utah, Biden, D-Del., Bingaman, D-N.M., Boxer, D-Calif., Byrd, D-W.Va., Cantwell, D-Wash., Carper, D-Del., Chafee, R-R.I., Clinton, D-N.Y., Conrad, D-N.D., Dodd, D-Conn., Dorgan, D-N.D., Durbin, D-Ill., Feingold, D-Wis., Harkin, D-Iowa, Inouye, D-Hawaii, Jeffords, I-Vt., Kennedy, D-Mass., Kerry, D-Mass., Kohl, D-Wis., Lautenberg, D-N.J., Leahy, D-Vt., Levin, D-Mich., Lieberman, D-Conn., McConnell, R-Ky., Mikulski, D-Md., Murray, D-Wash., Obama, D-Ill., Pryor, D-Ark., Reed, D-R.I., Sarbanes, D-Md., Schumer, D-N.Y., Wyden, D-Ore.

Hillary In "Tragic" Flag Flap With Liberals
Read Full Story Here
Oh how I wanted to catch one of you Lunatic Liberals, you sadistic bastards, burning a Flag so I could have placed you under Citizen's arrest!! Oh Well Maybe Someday!

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Penis Pump Trial In Oklahoma

I dont know if any of ya'll have heard about or read about this case (It's a Doozy!) But this Penis Pump Shit is makin me sick!
Sometimes I think "Only In Oklahoma". And now they have come to call it the "Penis Pump Trial"!

WARNING: Probably not a good idea to let kids see this story!

BRISTOW, Okla. - Serving on the jury in an indecent-exposure trial unfolding in this conservative Oklahoma town has been a giggle-inducing experience.

Former Judge Donald D. Thompson, a veteran of 23 years on the bench, is on trial on charges he used a penis pump on himself in the courtroom while sitting in judgment of others.

Over the past few days, the jurors have watched a defense attorney and a prosecutor pantomime masturbation. A doctor has lectured on the lengths the defendant was willing to go to enhance his sexual performance.

The white-handled sexual device sits before the jury box for hours at a time. Occasionally an attorney picks it up and squeezes the handle, demonstrating the "sh-sh" sound of air rushing through the contraption's plastic tubing.

The jurors sometimes exchange awkward looks and break into nervous laughter when the testimony takes a lurid turn.

Thompson, 59, is charged with four counts of indecent exposure, each punishable by up to 10 years in prison. If convicted, he would also have to register as a sex offender, and his $7,489.91-a-month pension would be in jeopardy.

Thompson's former court reporter, Lisa Foster, wiped away tears as she described tracing an unfamiliar "sh-sh" in the courtroom to her boss. She testified that between 2001 and 2003 she saw Thompson expose himself at least 15 times.

"I was really shocked and I was kind of scared because it was so bizarre," said Foster.

She testified that during a trial in 2002, she heard the pump during the emotional testimony of a murdered toddler's grandfather.

The grandfather "was getting real teary-eyed, and the judge was up there pumping on that pump," she said. "It was sickening."

The allegations came to light after a police officer who was in Thompson's court heard pumping sounds and took photos of the device during a break in the proceedings.

Thompson took the stand in his own defense, saying the device was a gag gift from a longtime friend with whom he had joked about erectile dysfunction. He said he kept the pump under the bench or in his office but didn't use it.

"In 20-20 hindsight, I should have thrown it away," he said.

The R-rated testimony has produced occasional outbursts of laughter and surreal scenes. A man who once served as a juror in Thompson's court testified that he never saw the device, but figured out what it was based on movies he had seen.

The comment sent sidelong glances through the courtroom.

"It sounded like a penis pump to me," Daniel Greenwood testified. He said he had seen such devices in "Austin Powers" and "Dead Man on Campus."

Dr. S. Edward Dakil, a urologist called as an expert witness, repeatedly prompted laughter from the jury when discussion turned to the penis pump. Dakil defended use of the device after defense attorney Clark Brewster said it was an out-of-date treatment for erectile dysfunction.

"I still use those," Dakil testified.

Brewster paused.

"Not you, personally?" he asked.

"No," Dakil responded as jurors laughed. "I recommend those as a urologist."
I dont care if this Judge is Republican or Democrat, This whole thing is disgusting.

June 28, 2006

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New York Times Should Face The Music Is Reporting:
NY Times Should Face the Music

The once powerful NY Times has done a marvelous job in recent years of chipping away at its own credibility. Through a series of missteps and the increasingly overt displays of left wing bias, the newspaper is in grave danger of becoming not only irrelevant, but also untrustworthy to mainstream America. That is the kiss of death for any media outlet. In addition, the recent disclosure of yet another classified program aimed at tracking the financial activities of terrorists and terror organizations shows that the New York Times feels it can operate without accountability. These actions are arrogant to be sure, and they also hurt America’s war on terror.

On Friday, the NY Times published a story titled “Bank Data Is Sifted by U.S. in Secret to Block Terror” which details the federal government’s program of tracking terrorists and terror organizations through their trail of financial transactions. According to the NY Times, “The program is limited, government officials say, to tracing transactions of people suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda by reviewing records from the nerve center of the global banking industry, a Belgian cooperative that routes about $6 trillion daily between banks, brokerages, stock exchanges and other institutions.”

The NY Times goes on to describe the program in greater detail and notes several “officials” who said that the access to large amounts of confidential data was “highly unusual” and “stirred concerns inside the administration about legal and privacy issues.” However, no case has been made that the program is illegal or, in any way, violates the Constitution. Instead, the NY Times took it upon itself to devulge a classified war effort simply because they felt it was “in the public interest.”

In comments to reporters on Monday, President Bush called the disclosure “disgraceful” and said that for people to leak information and for a newspaper to publish it during a time of war “does great harm to the United States of America.”

“If you want to figure out what the terrorists are doing, you try to follow their money,” President Bush said. “And the fact that a newspaper disclosed it makes it harder to win this war on terror.”

Representative Peter King (R-NY), who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, said that the NY Times should be prosecuted. Speaking on FOX News Sunday, King said, “By disclosing this in time of war, they have compromised America’s anti-terrorist policies.”

“Nobody elected The New York Times to do anything,” King added. “And The New York Times is putting its own arrogant, elitist, left-wing agenda before the interests of the American people.”

Yes, there is a freedom of the press, and that freedom comes with responsibilities. There are many classified programs which would be fascinating to know about. But that doesn’t mean I have a “right” to know them. When we are talking about fighting a war on terror, the “public interest” is also served by seeing to it that the government is able to fight the most effective war possible. The actions by the New York Times hurt this effort, and they should be held accountable for these actions.

Editor Bill Keller, Feeling The Heat, Pompously Defends Latest Attack On US Spy Program
Read Full Story Here

GOP Bill Targets NY Times
Read Full Story Here
Not only does something need to be done about the NY Times and all the other papers involved, but FIND THE LEAKER AS WELL!!
Update: Ed Meese: NY Times Aiding The Enemy

Ed Meese: N.Y. Times Aiding Enemy

Former Attorney General Ed Meese accused the New York Times of "giving aid and comfort to the enemy" a term that fits the definition of treason.

Interviewed Monday on Rush Limbaugh's radio show, Meese said the Times' outing of the CIA and Treasury Department's tracking of financial transactions by al-Qaida and other terrorist groups was its "the third offense," Pipeline News reported.

According to Meese, the Times' exposure of of the existence of the NSA program to track al-Qaida communications, their outing of the logging of phone records and now the publishing of the details of the financial tracking operation were cases of newspaper "putting the enemy on notice." That, he said was giving "aid and comfort to the enemy."

Pipeline News pointed out that this "is the classic definition of treason going back at least 600 years, to Britain's Treason Act of 1351, which defines high treason, in part as: 'or be adherent to the King's enemies in his realm, giving to them aid and comfort in the realm...'"

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Media Covering Up WMD Found Story

Breaking News from the Media Research Center

Since the onset of the war, the media has staked its case
against George Bush and the war in Iraq saying there were
no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Now we know the truth with the June 21 release of a partially
declassified Army National Guard Intelligence Center report
confirming that since 2003, U.S. forces have discovered more
than 500 shells of ordinance containing sarin or mustard gas!

Not surprisingly, even with definitive facts that WMDs were
in Iraq, many of the top media outlets flatly refuse to
report this story. Others, like MSNBC, minimized and
downplayed the findings, suggesting, "They are WMD:
weapons of minor discomfort."

This is simply outrageous!

Once again the media is picking and choosing what to report
as they see fit. This important story doesn’t fit into their
liberal agenda, and as such it gets cast aside, or at the
very least minimized and mocked.

You deserve better. We all deserve better...

But unless grassroots Americans demand accountability,
this story, like so many others will be forgotten. We
won't let that happen this time!

++50,000 emails demanding the truth about WMDs in Iraq

The MRC has launched a major grassroots email campaign to
flood the major news programs and outlets with 50,000 emails
demanding they push their political agenda aside and report
the truth about WMDs in Iraq!

This is a media cover-up!

The liberal media has spent countless hours badgering Americans
with their "No WMD" claims, and now it's time for us to
personally hold them accountable.

By clicking on the link below, our system will deliver your
personal emails demanding an end to this cover-up directly
to the key media organizations including ABC World News Tonight,
CBS Evening News, NBC Today, the LA Times, USA Today, and more!

Click Here To Send Your E-Mail

Americans are being deceived. That is why after sending your
emails, I am urging you to take a few moments to alert your
family and friends--giving them the opportunity to take
action with you!

The liberal media needs to be reminded that the grassroots
voice of America is holding them accountable to report the
truth at every turn in the war. Anything less than the
truth is a grave disservice to the American public and
our troops. That’s why we need you to take immediate action.
I sent mine.

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Jerk The New York Times Press Credentials

National Review Online Is Reporting:
Stop the Leaks

By The Editors

Every passing week, it becomes more apparent that disgruntled leftists in the intelligence community and antiwar crusaders in the mainstream media, annealed in their disdain for the Bush administration, are undermining our ability to win the War on Terror. Their latest body blow to the war effort is the exposure, principally by the New York Times, of the Treasury Department’s top-secret program to monitor terror funding.

President Bush, who said on Monday morning that the exposure “does great harm to the United States of America,” must demand that the New York Times pay a price for its costly, arrogant defiance. The administration should withdraw the newspaper’s White House press credentials because this privilege has been so egregiously abused, and an aggressive investigation should be undertaken to identify and prosecute, at a minimum, the government officials who have leaked national-defense information.

The Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) was initiated soon after the 9/11 attacks. It ingeniously focuses on the hub of interlocking systems that facilitate global money transfers. The steward of that hub, centered in Brussels, is the Society of Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or “SWIFT.” SWIFT is an organization of the world’s financial giants, including the national banks of Belgium, England, and Japan, the European Central Bank, and the U.S. Federal Reserve. SWIFT, however, is not a bank. It’s a clearinghouse that manages message traffic pursuant to international transfers of funds.

Intelligence about those communications implicates no legally recognized privacy interests. To begin with, they are predominantly foreign, and international. To the extent the U.S. Constitution might be thought to apply, the Supreme Court held nearly 30 years ago that records in the hands of third parties — including financial records maintained by banks — are not private, and thus not protected by the Fourth Amendment. Moreover, to the extent Congress later supplemented privacy protections by statute, those laws regulated disclosures by financial institutions. SWIFT is not a financial institution.

Despite this legal daylight, the Bush administration has gone out of its way to defer to privacy concerns. Assuming that American law applied, it obtained SWIFT information by administrative subpoena. It carefully narrowed its scrutiny to those transacting with suspected terrorists. It concurred with its international partners that the resulting intelligence should be used only for counterterrorism and security purposes—not for prosecutions of ordinary crimes (even though such prosecutions would be legal under American law). And it agreed to subject the TFTP to independent auditing to ensure that the effort was trained on terrorists.

By all accounts, the program has been a ringing success. The administration maintains that the TFTP has been central to mapping terror cells and their tentacles, and to shutting off their funding spigot. It has resulted in at least one major domestic prosecution for providing material support to al Qaeda. It has also led to the apprehension of one of the jihad’s most insulated and ruthless operatives, Jemaah Islamiya’s Riduan Isamuddin, who is tied to the 2002 Bali bombing.

But as has happened with other crucial counterterrorism tools — such as the NSA’s program to monitor the enemy’s international communications, which the New York Times exposed, and the CIA’s arrangements for our allies to detain high-level Qaeda operatives, which the Washington Post compromised — the TFTP’s existence was disclosed to the Times and other newspapers by anonymous government officials, in violation of their legal obligation to maintain secrecy. The Bush administration pleaded with the newspapers not to publish what they had learned. But these requests, rooted in the national-security interests of the United States, were rebuffed. The Times, along with the Los Angeles Times (which also rejected a government request not to publish) and the Wall Street Journal, ran stories exposing the program. Yes, the public was being protected. Yes, terrorists trying to kill Americans were being brought to heel. Yes, it appears the program is legal. And yes, it appears the Bush administration made various accommodations out of respect for international opinion and privacy concerns. Despite all that, New York Times executive editor Bill Keller concluded that “the administration’s extraordinary access to this vast repository of international financial data, however carefully targeted use of it may be, is a matter of public interest.”

It is a matter of interest mainly to al Qaeda. The terrorists will now adapt. They will find new ways of transferring funds, and precious lines of intelligence will be lost. Murderers will get the resources they need to carry out their grisly business. As for the real public interest, it lies primarily in safety — and what the Times has ensured is that the public today is less safe.

Success in defeating the terrorists at war with us is dependent on good intelligence. Without obtaining it and keeping it secret, the government can’t even find the dots, much less connect them. If the compromising of our national-security secrets continues, terrorists will thrive and Americans will die. It has to be stopped.

The New York Times is a recidivist offender in what has become a relentless effort to undermine the intelligence-gathering without which a war against embedded terrorists cannot be won. And it is an unrepentant offender. In a letter published over the weekend, Keller once again defended the newspaper’s editorial decision to run its TFTP story. Without any trace of perceiving the danger inherent in public officials’ compromising of national-security information (a matter that the Times frothed over when it came to the comparative trifle of Valerie Plame’s status as a CIA employee), Keller indicated that the Times would continue revealing such matters whenever it unilaterally decided that doing so was in the public interest.

The president should match this morning’s tough talk with concrete action. Publications such as the Times, which act irresponsibly when given access to secrets on which national security depends, should have their access to government reduced. Their press credentials should be withdrawn. Reporting is surely a right, but press credentials are a privilege. This kind of conduct ought not be rewarded with privileged access.

Moreover, the Justice Department must be more aggressive than it has been in investigating national-security leaks. While prosecution of the press for publishing information helpful to the enemy in wartime would be controversial, pursuit of the government officials who leak it is not. At the very least, members of the media who report such information must be made to understand that the government will no longer regard them as immune from questioning when it investigates the leakers. They should be compelled to reveal their sources, on pain of contempt.

Backlash Continues Over NYT'S Shoddy Spy Expose

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Line Item Veto Set To Pass

Breitbart Is Reporting:
Bush Urges Senate to Pass Line-Item Veto

President Bush, urging the Senate to pass the line-item veto, on Tuesday criticized House Democrats who didn't back the measure even though they've called for federal spending restraint.

A line-item veto would allow the president to cut certain provisions in spending bills without vetoing the entire measure. The House passed such legislation last week 247-172. Thirty-five Democrats joined with most Republicans in voting for the bill.

"I was disappointed, frankly, though that more Democrats didn't vote for the bill, especially those that are calling for fiscal discipline in Washington, D.C.," Bush said in a speech to members of the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank based in New York. "I mean, you can't call for fiscal discipline on the one hand and then not pass a tool to enhance fiscal discipline on the other hand. You can't have it both ways, it seems like to me."

The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate. Democrats generally oppose the measure, and not all Republicans are excited about the idea. "We need to set politics aside" and pass a line-item veto, Bush said about the measure that the GOP embraces as a way to demonstrate election-year resolve to rein in federal spending.

Lawmakers from both parties who have reservations about the line-item veto contend it would shift too much power to the president, allowing him to try to cut projects proposed by his political enemies, or to use the threat of cutting projects in exchange for favorable votes on legislation the White House desires.

The bill that passed the House is a watered-down version of a more sweeping law that the Supreme Court struck down in 1998, saying it took too much spending authority away from Congress. Bush said the new legislation would meet the court's constitutional requirements.

The new version would let the president try to kill individual items contained in spending or tax bills that he otherwise signs into law. Congress would be required to vote on those specific items again. A simple majority in both the House and the Senate could override the president's objections.

"When the president sees an earmark or a spending provision that is wasteful or unnecessary, he can send it back to the Congress," Bush said. "And Congress is then required to hold a prompt up-or-down vote on whether to retain the targeted spending. In other words, the Congress is still in the process."

Earlier, Bush met with senators at the White House to discuss the line-item veto. The group included Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Sens. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., Thad Cochran, R-Miss., Susan M. Collins, R-Maine, Kit Bond, R-Mo., John McCain, R-Ariz., and Ben Nelson, D-Neb.

Nelson said he told the president that he used the line-item veto to rein in irresponsible spending when he was governor of Nebraska. "It works," said Nelson, governor from 1991 to 1999.
I sure hope this passes. President Bush has been held hostage to all these bills that have gone before his desk because within those bills are things he needs for the Country, The War on Terror, and other things. Now if this passes, he will be able to cut the pork out of whatever bill he needs to and start using some Line Item Veto Power. PASS THIS BILL!!!

June 26, 2006

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Rep. Peter King R-NY Wants To Procecute NY Times For Releasing Classified Documents

FoxNews Is Reporting:
Rep. King Seeks Charges Against Papers Over Terror Reporting
Monday, June 26, 2006

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee urged the Bush administration on Sunday to seek criminal charges against newspapers that reported on a secret financial-monitoring program used to trace terrorists.

Rep. Peter King cited The New York Times in particular for publishing a story last week that the Treasury Department was working with the CIA to examine messages within a massive international database of money-transfer records.

........Peter King, R-N.Y.

said he would write Attorney General Alberto Gonzales urging that the nation's chief law enforcer "begin an investigation and prosecution of The New York Times — the reporters, the editors and the publisher."

"We're at war, and for the Times to release information about secret operations and methods is treasonous," King told The Associated Press.

A message left Sunday with Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis was not immediately returned.

King's action was not endorsed by the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, GOP Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

"On the basis of the newspaper article, I think it's premature to call for a prosecution of the New York Times, just like I think it's premature to say that the administration is entirely correct," Specter told "Fox News Sunday"

Stories about the money-monitoring program also appeared last week in The Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times. King said he thought investigators should examine those publications, but that the greater focus should be on The New York Times because the paper in December also disclosed a secret domestic wiretapping program.

He charged that the paper was "more concerned about a left-wing elitist agenda than it is about the security of the American people."

When the paper chose to publish the story, it quoted the executive editor, Bill Keller, as saying editors had listened closely to the government's arguments for withholding the information, but "remain convinced that the administration's extraordinary access to this vast repository of international financial data, however carefully targeted use of it may be, is a matter of public interest."

After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Treasury officials obtained access to a vast database called Swift — the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication. The Belgium-based database handles financial message traffic from thousands of financial institutions in more than 200 countries.

Democrats and civil libertarians are questioning whether the program violated privacy rights.

The service, which routes more than 11 million messages each day, mostly captures information on wire transfers and other methods of moving money in and out of the United States, but it does not execute those transfers.

The service generally does not detect private, individual transactions in the United States, such as withdrawals from an ATM or bank deposits. It is aimed mostly at international transfers.

Gonzales said last month that he believes journalists can be prosecuted for publishing classified information, citing an obligation to national security. He also said the government would not hesitate to track telephone calls made by reporters as part of a criminal leak investigation, but officials would not do so routinely and randomly.

In recent months, journalists have been called into court to testify as part of investigations into leaks, including the unauthorized disclosure of a CIA operative's name.

He said the First Amendment right of a free press should not be absolute when it comes to national security.
I'm with them 100%..! We are at WAR! I think Public's Saftey outweighs the Public's need to know about these secret programs that have been thwarting terrorist attacks and operations. The Times Needs to be investigated and tried for Treason. But it shouldnt stop there. They need to FIND THE LEAKER and charge he/she with TREASON also. And SPECTOR sit the hell down and SHUT THE HELL UP! Now the PUBLIC has a right to know who leaked classified documents to the reporters and why the Times decided it had to run this story knowing full well it was going to jeprodise National Security! Find out who is reporting this stuff to the Media, then get the Media that reported Classified information, AND LOCK THEM ALL UP FOR TREASON!!
Panelists on Fox News Sunday and on Friday's Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC denounced the New York Times for its Friday article, quickly picked up by other newspapers and published over the objection of the Bush administration and 9/11 commissioners, about how the CIA and Treasury Department are tracking international banking transactions by terrorist operatives. On Sunday, Brit Hume mocked New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller's "matter of public interest" reasoning: "Well, that can apply to almost anything," such as "ball scores." Hume contended the Times is "rapidly spending" its "credit" with the public and so "eventually it won't be there anymore. And at the rate it's going, it doesn't deserve to be." Bill Kristol argued: "I think the Attorney General has an absolute obligation to consider prosecution here." Friday night on FNC, columnist Charles Krauthammer lit into the judgment of the Times: "The idea of having it published out there, in a sense disarming us by letting the bad guys know how we're tracing their wire transfers, I think, is a disgrace." Krauthammer added: "I think this is the 21st century equivalent of publishing the Enigma program in the Second World War in which we listened in on secret German communications in submarines." Morton Kondracke suggested the New York Times assumes "we've got more to fear from our own government than we do from terrorist attacks."

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Rick Santorum Calls For Release Of All De-Classified Documents On WMD Found In Iraq

I cant find the story that I heard earlier this morning, but I did hear that Rick Santorum is calling on President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld to release all De-Classified Documents pertaining to the discovery of WMD in Iraq.

And I agree!! President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld, REALEASE THE DOCUMENTS!! This is one of the Primary reasons we went to war in Iraq, the Democrats have been bitching all this time "Where are the WMD'S"? So let's see the evidence so we can shut these freaks up once and for all about Weapons of Mass Destruction.

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Murtha Says: US More Of A Threat Than Terrorists

South Florida Sun-Sentinel Is Reporting:
Murtha says U.S. poses top threat to world peace
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

American presence in Iraq is more dangerous to world peace than nuclear threats from North Korea or Iran, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said to an audience of more than 200 in North Miami Saturday afternoon.

Murtha was the guest speaker at a town hall meeting organized by Rep. Kendrick B. Meek, D-Miami, at Florida International University's Biscayne Bay Campus. Meek's mother, former Rep. Carrie Meek, D-Miami, was also on the panel.

Congressman John Murtha

War veterans, local mayors, university students and faculty were in the Mary Ann Wolfe Theatre to listen to the three panelists discuss the war in Iraq for an hour.
A former Marine and a prominent critic of the Bush administration's policies in Iraq, Murtha reiterated his views that the war cannot be won militarily and needs political solutions. He said the more than 100,000 troops in Iraq should be pulled out immediately, and deployed to peripheral countries like Kuwait.

"We do not want permanent bases in Iraq," Murtha told the audience. "We want as many Americans out of there as possible."
Murtha also has publicly said that the shooting of 24 Iraqis in November at Haditha, a city in the Anbar province of western Iraq that has been plagued by insurgents, was wrongfully covered up.

The killings, which sparked an investigation into the deadly encounter and another into whether they were the subject of a cover-up, could undermine U.S. efforts in Iraq more than the prison abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib in 2004, Murtha said.

Read Full Story Here

Murtha Rambles On Some Other Nonsense Here
John Murtha has done more than lost his mind. Now he is bordering on TREASON! In a time of WAR this Lunatic has the gall to say that the Country that has brought more Freedom and Democracy to more people than anyone else in the WORLD (The United States) HIS COUNTRY is more of a threat to the World than terrorists! This is uncontionable. All he does is talk about the Army being broken (Which it isnt), (The Troops are up to no good, or are covering things up) Which they arent, And SLAMS the troops at every opportunity he gets, has the Gall in a Time of WAR to say these things about his own Country. I think Congressman who undermine our troops, and accuse our Country of being more of a threat to the World than terrorists are GUILTY OF TREASON!!

June 23, 2006

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Times Cripples Another Terrorist Surveillance Program

Times Cripples Another Terrorist Surveillance Program
Posted by: Clay Waters
6/23/2006 11:10:04 AM

The Times’ notorious tag team of intelligence reporters, Eric Lichtblau and James Risen, again reveal details of a terrorist surveillance program while ignoring the concerns and personal pleas from the White House. The same team that handled the NSA “domestic spying” scoop has Friday’s lead story on another classified surveillance program, this one involving international bank transfers (“Bank Data Sifted In Secret By U.S. To Block Terror”), which may well sabotage the usefulness of the program.

“Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials.

“The program is limited, government officials say, to tracing transactions of people suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda by reviewing records from the nerve center of the global banking industry, a Belgian cooperative that routes about $6 trillion daily between banks, brokerages, stock exchanges and other institutions. The records mostly involve wire transfers and other methods of moving money overseas and into and out of the United States. Most routine financial transactions confined to this country are not in the database.

Viewed by the Bush administration as a vital tool, the program has played a hidden role in domestic and foreign terrorism investigations since 2001 and helped in the capture of the most wanted Qaeda figure in Southeast Asia, the officials said.”

If there’s anything illegal about the program, the Times gives no indication of it, but simply tries to raise doubts, speaking of concerns about “gray areas” and “appropriateness” and noting darkly: “The program, however, is a significant departure from typical practice in how the government acquires Americans' financial records. Treasury officials did not seek individual court-approved warrants or subpoenas to examine specific transactions, instead relying on broad administrative subpoenas for millions of records from the cooperative, known as Swift. That access to large amounts of confidential data was highly unusual, several officials said, and stirred concerns inside the administration about legal and privacy issues.”

The Times itself reports that with Friday’s big story, it has once again snubbed a Bush administration request not to publish an article on a terror-surveillance program: “The Bush administration has made no secret of its campaign to disrupt terrorist financing, and President Bush, Treasury officials and others have spoken publicly about those efforts. Administration officials, however, asked The New York Times not to publish this article, saying that disclosure of the Swift program could jeopardize its effectiveness. They also enlisted several current and former officials, both Democrat and Republican, to vouch for its value.

“Bill Keller, the newspaper's executive editor, said: ‘We have listened closely to the administration's arguments for withholding this information, and given them the most serious and respectful consideration. We remain convinced that the administration's extraordinary access to this vast repository of international financial data, however carefully targeted use of it may be, is a matter of public interest.’”

The Times itself quotes Dana Perino, White House deputy press secretary: “The president is concerned that once again The New York Times has chosen to expose a classified program that is working to protect our citizens.”

That apparently doesn’t bother the paper very much.

In the 37th paragraph, Lichtblau and Risen finally get into the program’s successes, which might be curtailed because of the report from the Times: “The Swift data has provided clues to money trails and ties between possible terrorists and groups financing them, the officials said. In some instances, they said, the program has pointed them to new suspects, while in others it has buttressed cases already under investigation.

Among the successes was the capture of a Qaeda operative, Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali, believed to be the mastermind of the 2002 bombing of a Bali resort, several officials said. The Swift data identified a previously unknown figure in Southeast Asia who had financial dealings with a person suspected of being a member of Al Qaeda; that link helped locate Hambali in Thailand in 2003, they said.

In the United States, the program has provided financial data in investigations into possible domestic terrorist cells as well as inquiries of Islamic charities with suspected of having links to extremists, the officials said.”

The Times soon returns to relaying fuzzy concerns about the propriety, if not the legality, of the surveillance of international wire transactions.

Stephen Spruiell hits hard at the Times’ irresponsible Pulitzer-sniffing:

“According to the NYT's own reporting, the program is legal. The program is helping us catch terrorists. The administration has briefed the appropriate members of Congress. The program has built-in safeguards to prevent abuse. And yet, with nothing more than a vague appeal to the ‘public interest’ (which apparently is not outweighed in this case by the public's interest in apprehending terrorists), the NYT disregards all that and publishes intimate, classified details about the program. Keller and his team really do believe they are above the law. When it comes to national security, it isn't the government that should decide when secrecy is essential to a program's effectiveness. It is the New York Times. National security be damned. There are Pulitzers to be won.”

And Bryan at Hot Air says: “Call me crazy, but since the program is legal and since the administration argues it has helped stop terror attacks, isn’t the weight of the public’s interest in this story on the side of keeping the program under wraps so that it can continue to stop terrorists?”

Michelle Malkin is collecting outraged letters to the editor the Times won’t find fit to print.
This is nothing short of TREASON! The 9-11 Commission accuses the Bush administration of "Not Connecting The Dots" in time to foil the 9-11 terrorist attack. And now they (The Bush Administration) are using tools at thier disposal to "Connect the dots", and have busted several plots overseas and at home on those that want to attack us again and the "Times" thinks "The Public has a right to know"! WHY? I have no dealings with Al-Quaeda! I dont give a rats ass what bank documents they look through of mine. I have nothing to hide! I want to know who is leaking these classified documents to the Times, and why the Times insists on running with the story and screw the Country! If we have another terrorist attack I am going to blame the Far Left Lunatic Newspapers and the Lunatic Liberals for having this "Need to know" how we are catching these freaks. Which by the way, the terrorists just got let in on another secret we were using to track them. Screw the Lunatic Left Liberals Idiots and thier Newspapers. We are at war and they are all giving aid and comfort to the enemy. I hope they are all rounded up and put in jail. I would insist on another form of punishment but I would probably have the FBI at the door.

June 22, 2006

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US/Japan Successful Missile Intercept Off Hawaii Coast

Successful missile intercept reported in US sea-based defense test
Jun 22 9:24 PM US/Eastern

A US warship successfully shot down a target missile warhead over the Pacific in a test of a sea-based missile defense system, the US military said.

A Japanese destroyer performed surveillance and tracking exercises during the test, marking the first time any US ally has taken part in a US missile defense intercept test, the US Missile Defense Agency said.

The test came amid a confrontation with North Korea over its preparations to launch a long-range missile.

The sea-based system tested off Hawaii is designed to counter only short or medium range missiles, but the cruisers and destroyers that took part are capable of tracking long-range missiles as well.

The mock warhead was launched over the Pacific atop a medium range missile and destroyed in a direct hit six minutes later with an SM-3 missile fired by the Aegis cruiser USS Shiloh, the agency said.

"The missile successfully intercepted the target warhead outside the earths atmosphere more than 100 miles above the Pacific Ocean and 250 miles northwest of Kauai," the agency said in a statement.

"We are continuing to see great success with the very challenging technology of hit-to-kill, a technology that is used for all of our missile defense ground- and sea-based interceptor missiles," Lieutenant General Trey Obering, the agency chief, said in the statement.

He said it was the seventh successful intercept using the sea-based missile defense system out of eight tries.

The test came as the United States said Thursday that North Korea would have to pay a "cost" if it launched a long range missile.

The US has said that North Korea is preparing to launch a multi-stage Taepodong-2 ballistic missile with a range of up to 6,700 kilometers (4,200 miles). US reports have said a launch was imminent.

US defense officials said the United States was ready to use its missile defense system if necessary against any threatening launch.

A North Korean missile test "would be a provocation and a dangerous action which would have to have some consequences." He told lawmakers "there would be a reaction, and it would be a mistake for North Korea to do it."

South Korea's Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung said in Seoul that he did not believe a missile operation was imminent, but North Korea has received new warnings against making a launch.

Missile Defense Agency officials have said the missile interceptor test was long-planned and had nothing to do with North Korea's long-range missile launch plans.

But the agency's statement highlighted the role of the Japanese Aegis destroyer.

"This event marked the first time that an allied military unit participated in a US Aegis missile defense intercept test," it said.

It said the Japanese destroyer and a US Navy Aegis destroyer performed surveillance and tracking exercises during the test.

"This data can also be used to provide targeting information for other missile defense systems, including the ground-based long-range interceptor missiles now deployed in Alaska and California to protect all 50 states from a limited ballistic missile attack," the agency said.

A third Aegis destroyer used in the test linked up with a land-based missile defense radar to evaluate the ship's ability to receive and use target cueing data from missile defense command centers.

The mock warhead separated from the three-stage target missile. The direct hit marked only the second time a separating warhead has been successfully intercepted by a missile fired from an Aegis cruiser.

The cruisers use their modified Spy-1 radars and a shipboard battle management system to detect, track and target the warheads in space.

The SM-3 Block IA interceptor missile fired in Thursday's test is slated for deployment in the US Navy and had never been used before in an intercept test.
I dont know what Chia Pet in North Korea is planning but he has pissed off plenty of people this time. And Japan has become a valuable ally in all this. It's ironic Japan and the US sitting off the coast of Hawaii of all places together.
I'm sure you dont want this you little Chia Pet!

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Japan Dispatches Ships To Monitor N. Korea

Japan Dispatches Ships to Monitor N. Korea

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan has dispatched ships and planes to monitor North Korea amid regional jitters about a possible long-range missile launch, but it played down the communist nation's capacity to load a nuclear warhead atop its rockets.

Fukushiro Nukaga, the head of Japan's Defense Agency, told a parliamentary committee that Japan had deployed naval ships and patrol planes to monitor developments in North Korea as the country apparently prepares to test a long-range missile believed capable of reaching the United States.

Senior Vice Foreign Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki said, however, that Japan had "encountered no information" indicating North Korea had the technology to put a nuclear warhead on a missile.

"It requires tremendous technology to miniaturize an atomic weapon in order to load into a missile warhead," he said.
Maybe we should just take them out BEFORE they launch?

June 21, 2006

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WMD Found In Iraq

FoxNews Is Reporting:
Report: Hundreds of WMDs Found in Iraq
Wednesday, June 21, 2006

WASHINGTON — The United States has found 500 chemical weapons in Iraq since 2003, and more weapons of mass destruction are likely to be uncovered, two Republican lawmakers said Wednesday.

"We have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, chemical weapons," Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., said in a quickly called press conference late Wednesday afternoon.

Reading from a declassified portion of a report by the National Ground Intelligence Center, a Defense Department intelligence unit, Santorum said: "Since 2003, coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent. Despite many efforts to locate and destroy Iraq's pre-Gulf War chemical munitions, filled and unfilled pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist."

• Click Here to read the declassified portion of the NGIC report.~~~~PDF Format

He added that the report warns about the hazards that the chemical weapons could still pose to coalition troops in Iraq.

"The purity of the agents inside the munitions depends on many factors, including the manufacturing process, potential additives and environmental storage conditions. While agents degrade over time, chemical warfare agents remain hazardous and potentially lethal," Santorum read from the document.

This says weapons have been discovered, more weapons exist and they state that Iraq was not a WMD-free zone, that there are continuing threats from the materials that are or may still be in Iraq," said Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

The weapons are thought to be manufactured before 1991 so they would not be proof of an ongoing WMD program in the 1990s. But they do show that Saddam Hussein was lying when he said all weapons had been destroyed, and it shows that years of on-again, off-again weapons inspections did not uncover these munitions.

Hoekstra said the report, completed in April but only declassified now, shows that "there is still a lot about Iraq that we don't fully understand."

Asked why the Bush administration, if it had known about the information since April or earlier, didn't advertise it, Hoekstra conjectured that the president has been forward-looking and concentrating on the development of a secure government in Iraq.

Offering the official administration response to FOX News, a senior Defense Department official pointed out that the chemical weapons were not in useable conditions.

"This does not reflect a capacity that was built up after 1991," the official said, adding the munitions "are not the WMDs this country and the rest of the world believed Iraq had, and not the WMDs for which this country went to war."

The official said the findings did raise questions about the years of weapons inspections that had not resulted in locating the fairly sizeable stash of chemical weapons. And he noted that it may say something about Hussein's intent and desire. The report does suggest that some of the weapons were likely put on the black market and may have been used outside Iraq.

He also said that the Defense Department statement shortly after the March 2003 invasion saying that "we had all known weapons facilities secured," has proven itself to be untrue.

"It turned out the whole country was an ammo dump," he said, adding that on more than one occasion, a conventional weapons site has been uncovered and chemical weapons have been discovered mixed within them.

Hoekstra and Santorum lamented that Americans were given the impression after a 16-month search conducted by the Iraq Survey Group that the evidence of continuing research and development of weapons of mass destruction was insignificant. But the National Ground Intelligence Center took up where the ISG left off when it completed its report in November 2004, and in the process of collecting intelligence for the purpose of force protection for soldiers and sailors still on the ground in Iraq, has shown that the weapons inspections were incomplete, they and others have said.

"We know it was there, in place, it just wasn't operative when inspectors got there after the war, but we know what the inspectors found from talking with the scientists in Iraq that it could have been cranked up immediately, and that's what Saddam had planned to do if the sanctions against Iraq had halted and they were certainly headed in that direction," said Fred Barnes, editor of The Weekly Standard and a FOX News contributor.

"It is significant. Perhaps, the administration just, they think they weathered the debate over WMD being found there immediately and don't want to return to it again because things are otherwise going better for them, and then, I think, there's mindless resistance to releasing any classified documents from Iraq," Barnes said.

The release of the declassified materials comes as the Senate debates Democratic proposals to create a timetable for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq. The debate has had the effect of creating disunity among Democrats, a majority of whom shrunk Wednesday from an amendment proposed by Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts to have troops to be completely withdrawn from Iraq by the middle of next year.

At the same time, congressional Republicans have stayed highly united, rallying around a White House that has seen successes in the last couple weeks, first with the death of terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, then the completion of the formation of Iraq's Cabinet and then the announcement Tuesday that another key Al Qaeda in Iraq leader, "religious emir" Mansour Suleiman Mansour Khalifi al-Mashhadani, or Sheik Mansour, was also killed in a U.S. airstrike.

Santorum pointed out that during Wednesday's debate, several Senate Democrats said that no weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq, a claim, he said, that the declassified document proves is untrue.

"This is an incredibly — in my mind — significant finding. The idea that, as my colleagues have repeatedly said in this debate on the other side of the aisle, that there are no weapons of mass destruction, is in fact false," he said.

As a result of this new information, under the aegis of his chairmanship, Hoekstra said he is going to ask for more reporting by the various intelligence agencies about weapons of mass destruction.

"We are working on the declassification of the report. We are going to do a thorough search of what additional reports exist in the intelligence community. And we are going to put additional pressure on the Department of Defense and the folks in Iraq to more fully pursue a complete investigation of what existed in Iraq before the war," Hoekstra said.

Read Full Story Here
ALOT of people owe President Bush ALOT of apologies!!!!
Watch the Lunatic Liberals try to spin this one, or misconstrue the facts. To the Liberals this will be a non-issue even though that was one of the reasons we went to
war in the first place. 15 cans killed 5000 people in Iraq at one time when Saddam was in power. Can you imagine 500 cans???? We obviously went in on foot into Iraq so fast Saddam never got the opportunity to use them. Which also means this Military plan has it's bad times and all but it has been executed brilliantly by the Soldiers all the way to the President!! Spin that you Liberal Wackos!!

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US Missiles On High Alert

Herald Sun Is Reporting:
Valiant Shield: The United States Navy on exercise near Guam as fears grow of a North Korean missile launch.

US missiles on high alert as Korea row grows

WASHINGTON -- The US has activated its ground-based missile defence system in anticipation of a a North Korean missile launch.

A North Korean long-range missile is on the launch pad and satellite pictures, among other evidence, suggest Pyongyang has finished fuelling the Taepodong-2 missile.
A US defence official confirmed a report the Pentagon had switched its multibillion-dollar missile defence system from test mode to operational.

"It's good to be ready," the official said.

Asked whether the US would try to shoot down a North Korean missile, Pentagon media secretary Eric Ruff said: "We have a limited missile-defence system . . . We don't discuss the alert status or the specific capabilities."

The US has built a complex of interceptor missiles, advanced radar stations and data relays designed to detect and shoot down an enemy missile, but tests have had mixed results.

US Navy Operation: Valiant Shield

In eight tests of the US ground-based missile defence system, the interceptor hit a mock incoming warhead just five times.

Pyongyang shocked Tokyo by launching a Taepodong that flew over Japan's main island in 1998.

As the missile row gathered pace, the US also flexed its military muscle in the Pacific.

Three aircraft carriers filled the skies with fighters as one of the largest US military exercises in decades got under way on Tuesday off Guam.

For the first time, a Chinese delegation was sent to observe the US war games.

The manoeuvres, dubbed Valiant Shield, bring three carriers together in the Pacific for the first time since the Vietnam War. About 30 ships, 280 aircraft and 22,000 troops will be taking part in the five-day exercise, which ends tomorrow. They were intended to increase co-operation between the navy, air force and Marine Corps and maximise their ability to respond quickly to potential contingencies in this part of the world, US military officials said. Even US Coast Guard vessels were joining in the manoeuvres.

"The exercises are taking place on land, sea, air (and in) space and cyberspace," said Senior Master Sgt Charles Ramey. "They cover the whole spectrum."

The manoeuvres mark the first major operation in this remote US territory since last month's announcement that some 8000 marines would be moved there from Okinawa as part of the biggest realignment of US forces in Asia for decades.

Representatives from Japan, Australia, South Korea, Russia and Singapore were also invited to attend.

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Japan On High Alert
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US Says All Options Open If North Korea Test's Missile
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Go ahead you little Chia Pet, you will be sorry!!

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Missile Defense System Activated

Gulf Times Is Reporting:
US activates missile defence amid concerns Published: Wednesday, 21 June, 2006, 10:42 AM Doha Time

WASHINGTON: The US has activated its ground-based interceptor missile-defence system amid concerns over an expected North Korean missile launch, a US defence official said yesterday.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed a Washington Times report that the Pentagon has switched the multibillion-dollar system from test mode to operational, after being in the developmental stage for years.
“It’s good to be ready,” the official said.
Asked whether the United States would try to shoot down a North Korean missile, Pentagon press secretary Eric Ruff declined to answer directly.
“We have a limited missile defense system,” Ruff said. “We don’t discuss the alert status or the specific capabilities.”
US Northern Command spokesman Michael Kucharek declined to comment on the alert status of the ground-based interceptors, but said, “As the command tasked with homeland defense, US Northern Command is prepared to do what is necessary to defend this nation,” on land, sea, air and in space.
The United States has built up a complex of interceptor missiles, advanced radar stations and data relays designed to detect and shoot down an enemy missile, but tests of the system have had mixed results.
The system is based on the concept of using one missile to shoot down another before it can reach its target.
The United States has installed nine interceptor missiles in silos at Fort Greely in Alaska and two at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. In addition, US Navy vessels with long-range tracking and surveillance capability ply the Sea of Japan.
“There’s real caution in how to characterise it so as to not be provocative in our own approach,” the defence official said of the move to activate the US system.
US officials say evidence such as satellite pictures suggests North Korea may have finished fueling a Taepodong-2 missile, which some experts said could reach as far as Alaska. The Pentagon and State Department have said a North Korean missile launch would be seen as provocative.
Creation of a missile defense system has been a goal of many US conservatives dating back to a space-based plan envisioned two decades ago under President Ronald Reagan.
In eight intercept tests of the US ground-based missile defense system, the interceptor has hit a mock incoming warhead five times. Such testing was suspended after interceptors failed to leave their silos during tests in December 2004 and February 2005

A commercial satellite photo of North Korea's Nodong missile launch site taken by a Digital Globe satellite and annotated and released by analysts at The United States and Japan warned North Korea on Monday against a missile launch that experts say could reach as far as Alaska and threatened harsh action if the test flight goes ahead.
I think the Chia Pet In North Korea is just crazy enough to hit the launch button.

June 19, 2006

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Holy Crap

Breitbart Is Reporting:
The United States and Japan warned North Korea on Monday against a missile launch that experts say could reach as far as Alaska and threatened harsh action if the test flight goes ahead.

The warning coincided with the assessment by some officials that Pyongyang may have finished fueling for the launch of its long-range Taepodong-2 missile.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said a missile launch by North Korea would be viewed as a very serious matter and "provocative act" that would further isolate Pyongyang.

"We will obviously consult on next steps but I can assure everyone that it would be taken with utmost seriousness," said Rice at a news conference.

In Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who has twice met North Korean leader Kim Jong-il since taking office in 2001, said Tokyo, Washington and Seoul were all urging Pyongyang to act rationally and with restraint.

"Even now, we hope that they will not do this," Koizumi told a news conference. "But if they ignore our views and launch a missile, then the Japanese government, consulting with the United States, would have to respond harshly."

Koizumi declined to specify what steps Japan would take. The United States is consulting fellow members of the U.N. Security Council, said Washington's ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton.

Bolton said Washington did not know what North Korea's intentions were.

Read Full Story Here
WTF???? Does This Chia Pet Realize What He Is Going To Do? God Help Us All!!!!

June 14, 2006

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Flag Day

June 13, 2006

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Alec Baldwin To See Shrink

7 Days Is Reporting:
A judge has called for a psychological evaluation of actor Alec Baldwin to determine if he is trying to turn their child against his ex-wife Kim Basinger. The Hollywood couple, who divorced acrimoniously in 2002, are locked in an ongoing custody dispute over their daughter Ireland.

“An evaluator, needs to spend time with Ireland and the parents to work on that issue,” said Superior Court Commissioner Maren E Nelson. Baldwin will have a week to decide whether to agree to the ruling so the judge can rule on his petition to see his ten-year-old daughter more regularly. In court papers filed in October last year, Baldwin said Basinger, 52, had a “pathological need” to turn their daughter against him and requested she undergo a psychological evaluation.

Basinger’s lawyers, meanwhile, said former husband Baldwin had “severe emotional problems” and was casting “terrible aspersions”. The couple met on the set of the 1991 romantic comedy ‘The Marrying Man’ and married in August 1993. They separated after seven years, in 2000.
We all knew Baldwin was a mess, now a judge is convinced too!

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Patty Kennedy Gets Slap On The Wrist

U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy pleaded guilty in Washington Tuesday to driving under the influence of prescription drugs in a plea bargain that spares him jail.
Judge Aida Melendez imposed one year of probation on the Rhode Island Democrat and ordered him to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, submit to spot urine testing and contribute $350 to a crime victims fund and the Boys' and Girls' Clubs, the Los Angeles Times reported.
She suspended a 10-day jail sentence as long as he completes his probation satisfactorily.
Kennedy, the son of Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., was stopped by Capitol police after he had an early morning crash. His blood was not tested but he later admitted being under the influence of Ambien and checked himself into a rehabilitation program.

"I've always said I wanted to take full responsibility for my actions, and today in court I did just that," Kennedy said after the court hearing. "I accepted the consequences of my actions."
Kennedy was joined in court by Rep. Jim Ramstad, R-Minn., a recovering alcoholic. Ramstad, who said he is Kennedy's AA sponsor, predicted that he would do well, "one day at a time."

Full Story Here
So is nothing going to happen to Cynthia McKinney?

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Bush Slips Into Iraq Visit's New Government And Troops

FoxNews Is Reporting:
BAGHDAD, Iraq — In a whirlwind trip that came as a surprise to all but about a half-dozen presidential aides, President Bush went to Iraq Tuesday for a face to face visit with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, in which he pledged continuing U.S. support for the emerging democracy.

In an effort to bolster the newly-formed government and discuss the next steps in trying to shore up Iraqi security after three years of war, Bush told the prime minister that United States stands with him and the new government.

"I've come to not only look you in the eye," Bush told al-Maliki. "I also come to tell you that when America gives its word, it keeps its word."

"I appreciate you recognize the fact that the future of your country is in your hands," Bush said. "I appreciate your committment to representing the people of Iraq."

In response, al-Maliki said Iraq has "no choice but to succeed and we will defeat terrorism."

"Today, with the grace of God, after getting rid of the dictatorship, violence, terrorism, oppression, absolute power and the ruling party, our country became one where all Iraqis can live in equality and freedom. This is the first time that we in Iraq have such freedom, the freedom of press, political freedom and a diverse government.

This is the first time that we in Iraq, have a permanent constitution voted on by the Iraqi people. This is the first time we have a government we formed with our own free will, by getting together and participating in the rebuilding effort. In this diversified government, chosen freely by the Iraqi people, we are determined to succeed," al-Maliki said.

The president also went to Iraq to show his support for U.S. troops, whose deployments, he noted, have been long and tough.

"I thank you all very much for your service to our country. Your sacrifice is noble and your sacrifice is important," he said in remarks received enthusiastically by U.S. forces inside Baghdad's heavily-guarded Green Zone.

Bush praised the forces for the air strike six days ago that killed terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

"Our military will stay on the offense. We will continue to hunt down people like Mr. Zarqawi and bring them to justice," he said to thunderous cheers.

The president, who was already on his way home by early afternoon Eastern time, arrived in Baghdad at 8:08 a.m. EDT, or 4:08 p.m. local time. It was the second surprise visit he's made to the country in the past three years. Last time, Bush went to visit U.S. troops on Thanksgiving in 2003. At that time, his visit wasn't announced until after he left. This time, his arrival was reported after he touched down in the Green Zone.

Only a handful of aides knew of the trip as the president had been speaking since last week about hosting a Camp David retreat where the president, his Cabinet and his national security and military team were supposed to hold a teleconference Tuesday with al-Maliki and his Cabinet. The two-day retreat provided cover for Bush to travel secretly and for al-Maliki and his Cabinet to arrive in the Green Zone for the meeting.

White House counselor Dan Bartlett, who joined the president, told reporters aboard Air Force One that the trip was planned over the past month by a small group of six White House aides he described as a "very, very close circle of people."

He said that Bush had wanted to come to Iraq as soon as the final positions in al-Maliki's government — the ministers of defense and interior — were chosen. Had those posts been filled sooner, Bush would have made the trip several months earlier, Bartlett said.

"When you're dealing with issues of enormous consequence, the security of our country, the security of the Middle East and the world, and you're making such monumental decisions, its critically important that you're able to meet with the new leader, confer with the leader, who you're going to be making those decisions with," Bartlett said. "We are committed to the success of the new government and the Maliki plan that he is outlining."

White House officials said the president wanted to meet face-to-face with the prime minister to size him up and assure him of U.S. support. The message that he wants to send to the Iraqi government is "we stand with you. What you're doing is important," said the aides.

Bush told the troops after meeting with Iraqi Cabinet officials that he "came away with the distinct impression that they're unified in serving the people of Iraq." He added that the job is now to help the prime minister and the government restore agricultural and health service and rebuild civil society so people have confidence in a new Iraq. He said he was confident that the new government respects the rights and dignity of the Iraqi people.

Bush also told al-Maliki that he was "impressed by the strength of your character and your desire to succeed and I am impressed by your strategy."

Bartlett said that Bush had invited the Iraqi premier to visit the White House, but the timing had not yet been finalized.

The trip signifies how much faith the Bush administration has in the new Iraqi government's ability to get things done. Al-Maliki has won U.S. admiration by promising to crack down on militias and sectarian violence, promote national reconciliation and accelerate reconstruction efforts and restore essential services such as electricity.

Al-Maliki also announced that 75,000 Iraqi and coalition troops are being deployed in Baghdad to institute the prime minister's new security plan in the capital. Al-Maliki was said to have told Bush during their meeting that he will show "no mercy" to terrorists.

The plan also includes a curfew and a ban on personal weapons in the city. Roads were to be secured, raids against insurgent hideouts launched and air strikes called.

Maj. Gen. Mahdi al-Gharrawi, the commander of public order forces under the Interior Ministry, said al-Maliki's plan would be the biggest operation of its kind in Baghdad since the U.S. handed over sovereignty to Iraq in 2004.

Bush stayed in Iraq for five hours only, a length of time necessitated by the high security precautions that needed to be executed in a precarious venue. Even the president's arrival was cautiously orchestrated. Air Force One landed at a semi-deserted airstrip a good distance away from the main terminal in Baghdad.

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow

Bartlett said the president sat up in the cockpit for the landing, which included a steep, rapid banking move and then a very quick descent. He assured reporters that Bush was not at the controls despite his National Guard pilot training. Bush and his crew then boarded a convoy of Nighthawk passenger helicopters to take them about six minutes to the center of the city.

Everyone on the helicopters was in body armor except for the White House aides, who wore business suits but no armor. Bartlett had earlier said the president would not wear body armor. In the Green Zone, a line of Suburbans and other SUVs waited for the short drive to the Republican Palace, former home of the now-defunct Coalition Provisional Authority and now the temporary U.S. Embassy.

Joining Bush on Air Force One were Bartlett, Chief of Staff Josh Bolten, Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin, Press Secretary Tony Snow and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. Joining them on the ground in Iraq were U.S. Ambassador Zal Khalilzad and Gen. George Casey, head of the Multinational Force in Iraq.

The group arrived at the palace where an American and an Iraqi flag had been arrayed next to the entrance to the hallway leading to the offices, where al-Maliki and one of his aides stood in anticipation of Bush's arrival.

Bush swept into the room where he met al-Maliki with his entourage and Secret Service in tow. He walked up to al-Maliki, who had been informed about five minutes before Bush's arrival that he was to have a special guest, and shook the prime minister's hand as the cameras flashed.

Al-Maliki said, "Good to see you," while putting his open hand to his heart, a gesture of appreciation. Bush responded, "Thanks for having me." They stood in the hallway for another minute and then disappeared into one of the palace offices.

The president also held meetings with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Parliament Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani. Afterward, Barlett said Bush "came out of it with a very positive reaction."

Back at Camp David, other officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Intelligence Director John Negroponte and CIA Director Michael Hayden, were speaking by video conference as planned. Rice and Secretary Don Rumsfeld appeared on Capitol Hill later in the afternoon for private meetings with Senate and House members.

Rice did not speak about any upcoming measures that will be taken in the coming months, but said the meeting of the two Cabinets was "exciting" and "touching."

Upon return, Air Force One was to stop in England for refueling. Bush was expected to brief congressional leaders on his trip on Wednesday afternoon.

Bush's departure from Camp David Monday night had required some surreptitious behavior on the president's part. While dining with officials, the president excused himself from after-dinner discussion around 7:45 p.m. EDT, telling his guests that he was "losing altitude" and wanted to read in bed a little before falling asleep. By 8 p.m. when the dinner wrapped up, Bush was already on his way to Andrews Air Force Base, and Air Force One departed at 9:07 pm EDT.

Tuesday's trip came as Bush is trying to recapture support for the Iraq war amid a positive week of news that included Zarqawi's death and the filling of the most important seats in Iraq's Cabinet.

Anxiety about the war has been driving down Bush's poll numbers and causing Republican anxiety about holding control of Congress in the November election.

The president's critics said they hoped the president would come up with a U.S. exit strategy after his visit. "Maybe he'll develop up a plan that will show us a way out of this quagmire," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

But Republican supporters of the president said Tuesday's trip symbolizes progress being made in Iraq and the need to stay the course.

"I think the president is doing exactly the right thing today. ... Sending a powerful signal to the Iraqi people that we are with you in the War on Terror, we are going to support this government that you have elected and we are going to win the War on Terror together," said Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

"It's just dynamite," said Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., who returned from Iraq on Monday night and noted he would have stayed there to catch a ride back on Air Force One if he'd known the president was going to be there.

Inhofe, who's been to Iraq 11 times since 2003, said he met with Iraqi officials, who demonstrated some of the training received by the 264,000 Iraqi troops. He said he was told that when 11 divisions — or 325,000 troops are trained — the Iraqis will want to take over security for themselves, though that does not mean U.S. troops will leave completely.

"It's a huge success story over there. I just don't understand why the media don't get it," he said, adding that al-Maliki's security adviser told him that the Iraqis are "getting very close to the time" when they will be in a position to take control of their security.
Way to go Mr President!!! Good Job!!!
I wonder what Tony Snow thought about this assignment? LOL The Ring of Republican Websites
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