Jul. 16th, 2003

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In recent days, as the Bush administration has defended its assertion in the president's State of the Union address that Iraq had tried to buy African uranium, officials have said it was only one bit of intelligence that indicated former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was reconstituting his nuclear weapons program.

But a review of speeches and reports, plus interviews with present and former administration officials and intelligence analysts, suggests that between Oct. 7, when President Bush made a speech laying out the case for military action against Hussein, and Jan. 28, when he gave his State of the Union address, almost all the other evidence had either been undercut or disproved by U.N. inspectors in Iraq.

By Jan. 28, in fact, the intelligence report concerning Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa -- although now almost entirely disproved -- was the only publicly unchallenged element of the administration's case that Iraq had restarted its nuclear program. That may explain why the administration strived to keep the information in the speech and attribute it to the British, even though the CIA had challenged it earlier.
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Thirty-five senators have latched onto a little-used law in an attempt to overturn the Federal Communications Commission's new media ownership rules, which opponents say would allow a few corporate giants to gain too much control of the airwaves and other media.

A "resolution of disapproval," which is permitted under the Congressional Review Act, has been placed on the Senate calendar for expedited consideration because it has more than the 30 signatures required to move it out of committee without a vote.

The maneuver comes as the battle over the controversial media rules heats up in Congress. Dozens of television station executives from around the country are set to lobby lawmakers today from the other side of the fight, encouraging them to keep the FCC's new rules, saying big broadcasters such as NBC and CBS need to get bigger to continue providing free over-the-air television.

Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.), the lead sponsor of the resolution, has signed on 28 Democrats and seven Republicans. The measure is co-sponsored by eight senators, including Trent Lott (R-Miss.), Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.) and presidential candidate John F. Kerry (D-Mass.).

"We are moving to roll back one of the most complete cave-ins to corporate interests I've ever seen by what is supposed to be a federal regulatory agency," Dorgan said in a statement.

The measure would require a simple majority of the Senate for passage. In an interview, Dorgan said he hoped to get a vote before the August recess: "I hope it puts pressure on the House," he said.

On June 2, as part of a congressionally mandated biennial review of its media ownership rules, the Republican-dominated FCC voted along party lines to lift the ban preventing a newspaper company from owning a television station in the same city. At the same time, it allowed network broadcast companies, such as General Electric Co.-owned NBC, to buy more stations at the local and national levels.

Previously, networks could not own a group of stations that reached more than 35 percent of the national audience. The FCC's vote raised that threshold to 45 percent.

Dorgan's resolution would roll back the FCC's rules, fixing the 35 percent limit in law and reinstating the newspaper-television cross-ownership ban. If the resolution is approved by the Senate, it moves directly to the House calendar, bypassing powerful committees, such as those headed by Rep. W.J. "Billy" Tauzin (R-La.), whose members have vowed to block attempts to overturn the FCC's rules...

Keep in mind that "free" television comes to us over frequencies which were handed to the nice people in television land by our nation's leaders on behalf of, well, us.

Keep in mind also that they haven't felt much of a need to keep us particularly well informed lately.

If they can't manage to make money off of a situation like this, perhaps they should let someone else take a shot at it.
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New naming rule: If in typing the name out you have to follow it immediately with another version in parentheses, because otherwise no one would have the slightest clue this was supposed to be a name and not Klingon for "Wax my forehead, supple wench," this is a bad, bad, woah bad bad name.

via [livejournal.com profile] shechemist
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My beloved State Senator Espada is back.

* The Saga of State Senator Espada
* The Passion of State Senator Espada
* State Senator Espada Redux

And now, from the politically complicated region of the Bronx, where mayoral primary candidate and eventual Democratic nominee Mark Green sealed his fate against Bloomberg in the election by suggesting that fellow candidate Bronx Borough President Freddie Ferrer, who - full disclosure - I voted for three times (the first primary was on 9/11 and there was a runoff after the second) did not have the appropriate executive experience to run the city because the terrorists, when they attacked New York, did not attack the Bronx. He also suggested that Mr. Ferrer's hispanic heritage might prove to be a problem.

Turnout in the Bronx was not as enthusiastic as it ever has been in that particular election.

Anyway, I've missed State Senator Espada. It doesn't seem fair that with a vibrant international city like New York behind us we can't field local politicians every bit as - er- colorful as those pikers in Texas.

Bless the man, he's doing his best.

In the Bronx, where no election year seems to pass without the candidacy of one member of the Espada family or another, voters in the Soundview section might be somewhat puzzled by their choices in this year's contest for a City Council seat.

For weeks, the incumbent, Pedro Espada Jr., has had supporters collecting signatures to enable him to qualify for the Democratic nomination in September. But after having collected far more than the required number of signatures, Mr. Espada announced yesterday that he would not run after all.

And, because the signature-collection period ended a week ago, the vacancy on the ballot created by Mr. Espada's withdrawal will have to be filled by the committee on vacancies established by Mr. Espada's campaign. Mr. Espada said yesterday that he is recommending that the vacancy be filled by his son Pedro Gautier Espada.

Mr. Espada said yesterday that his decision was motivated by the fact that the Bronx Democratic Party was now seeking to reignite a legal effort to have him thrown out of the party. Those legal maneuvers go back more than a year, when Mr. Espada was in the State Senate and decided to sit with members of the Republican majority.

"The Bronx Democratic machine is up to their old tricks," Mr. Espada said. "They are using strong-arm tactics to prevent people from being able to freely choose a candidate."


Yeah. Those fascists. Trying to force the Democratic candidate to be a Democrat.

God, I've missed State Senator Espada (?-Espada).
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The volume of bilge seems to be constant, but the hold of the USS Bush is emptying out fast.

Quoth Senator Chuck Hagel (R-RedState), whose committee assignments include
*Foreign Relations - Chairman, Subcommittee on International Economic Policy, Export, and Trade Promotion
*Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs - Chairman of Subcommittee on International Trade and Finance, Subcommittee on Securities
*Select Committee on Intelligence

"It wasn't just the CIA involved here," said Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Nebraska. "We had the vice president and his office involved, [Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, [Secretary of State Colin] Powell's people. This wasn't just a one-man show."

Hagel voted to give Bush the authority to go to war with Iraq, but he told reporters last week the administration's case for war was looking "weaker and weaker." He told CNN: "There's a cloud hanging over this administration."

from CNN(!) via Eschaton
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CIA didn't get disputed documents until February 2003 after Bush claim
By John J. Lumpkin, Associated Press, 7/16/2003 18:04

WASHINGTON (AP) When the Bush administration issued its pre-war claims that Iraq had sought uranium in Africa, the CIA had not yet obtained the documents that served as a key foundation for the allegation and later turned out to be forged, U.S. officials say.

The CIA didn't receive the documents until February 2003, nearly a year after the agency first began investigating the alleged Iraq-Africa connection and a short time after it assented to language in President Bush's State of the Union address that alleged such a connection, the officials said.

Without the source documents, the CIA could investigate only their substance, which it had learned from a foreign government around the beginning of 2002. One of the key allegations was that Iraq was soliciting uranium from the African country of Niger.

Even as the CIA found little to verify the reports, Bush administration officials repeatedly tried to put them into public statements. Sometimes CIA succeeded in getting the information removed.

For instance, the agency tried to have the Niger reference removed from a State Department fact sheet in December 2002, but the document was published before the change could be made, one U.S. intelligence official told The Associated Press, speaking only on condition of anonymity...

Got that? The evidence upon which the claims were made were never shown to the CIA prior to many, many references to it by the White House.

The CIA did not clear the use of this evidence. They never saw it.

The CIA are a bad group of people to have angry at you.

You'd think the president's father would have told him that.

Of course, maybe he did.

Could be this is his way of showing Poppy's friends they're not the boss of him.

When your wings are made of wax and newsprint, it's just not wise to fly too high.
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FCC's media rules dealt another blow
Opposition in House and Senate grows

By Jeffry Bartash, CBS.MarketWatch.com

WASHINGTON (CBS.MW) - U.S. lawmakers opposed to new regulations that would let media firms buy more properties have stepped up efforts to derail the controversial changes.

On Wednesday, a House committee effectively voted to bar the new rules from taking effect. The vote follows a move by a group of senators to utilize an obscure law, called a "resolution of disapproval," also aimed at defeating the rule changes.

The bill still faces opposition from the Republican leadership in the House and a likely veto threat from the White House. Still, the latest maneuverings indicate that the attempt to roll back the new media-ownership regulations is gaining momentum.

In a 40-25 vote, the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to a spending bill that would deny funds to the Federal Communications Commission if it sought to implement the changes...

The really interesting thing about this story is that CBS is reporting it...


Jul. 16th, 2003 07:18 pm
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Latin music icon Celia Cruz, the "Queen of Salsa," died Wednesday afternoon after battling cancer, her manager said.

She was believed to be 79 years old.

Friends and her manager, Omar Portillo, said she passed away quietly at 5:15 p.m.

"I am in a state of complete shock and sadness. This is the end of an era," said Aurora Flores, a former writer for Billboard magazine who studies the Latino music industry.

Known as "The Queen of Salsa," Cruz's influence went well beyond the dance floor and music studio, as her style, creativity and success established her not only as an innovative entertainer but also as an ambassador of Latino culture.

She helped reinvent the sound of modern Latin music, with its tropical background and drumbeats that set-off swift, hip-shaking, swirling and whirling dance moves for more than half a century.

While she always refused to give her age, close friends estimated Cruz was about 79 at the time of her last performance, a private gathering in March in New York, according to her publicist Blanca LaSalle.

She had often told reporters she would die on stage, screaming her trademark catcall "Azucar!" -- sugar, in Spanish -- to a loving audience. But she spent her final days at her home in Fort Lee, New Jersey, trying to recover from a December surgery to remove a brain tumor.

In more than five decades of performing, during which she released more than 70 albums and appeared in 10 movies, Cruz scooped up many of music's highest accolades, including five Grammys and two Latin Grammys...

I so enjoyed her music. She put on a wild show.

She also had an amazing face.

There aren't enough really great smiles in the world. Now there's one less.

Vaya con dios.
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U.S. troops are facing a classic guerrilla war in Iraq spearheaded by Saddam Hussein loyalists, and American forces need to adapt their tactics to crush this increasingly organized resistance, the head of the U.S. Central Command said on Wednesday.

This contrasted with an assessment given by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on June 30 that it was not ''anything like a guerrilla war or an organized resistance.''

But Central Command chief Gen. John Abizaid, who commands U.S. forces in Iraq, said a guerrilla war is exactly what U.S. troops are confronting.

''It think describing it as guerrilla tactics being employed against us is, you know, a proper thing to describe in strictly military terms,'' Abizaid said during a Pentagon briefing.

He said U.S. forces are fighting remnants of Saddam's Baath Party throughout Iraq.

He said mid-level officials of Saddam's government, including from the old intelligence and security agencies and the Special Republican Guard, ''have organized at the regional level in cellular structure.''

Abizaid said they ''are conducting what I would describe as a classical guerrilla-type campaign against us. It's low-intensity conflict in our doctrinal terms, but it's war however you describe it.''

''The level of resistance, I'm not so sure I would characterize it as escalating in terms of number of incidents. But it is getting more organized and it is learning. It is adapting -- it is adapting to our tactics, techniques and procedures...

Right about now, Mr. Rumsfeld's gotta be getting a bit nervous.
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A young man (you have no idea how it kills me to look at the barely-past-puberty faces of the kids getting killed over there) from Minnesota just died in Iraq.

He was shot by a sniper.

His aunt has this to say:
"We have some issues with the fact that President Bush declared combat over on May 1. Combat is not over. We don't even know who's firing at us right now, and all of our soldiers are at great risk of being picked off as Jim was. And that's a shame. And then President Bush made a comment a week ago, and he said, 'bring it on.' They brought it on and now my nephew is dead."

I know what you're thinking. What a traitor.

That boy signed up to put his body where George Bush's mouth is.

Well, technically thousands of miles from where George Bush's mouth is.

But I bet if the war were taking place in sight of San Diego, our fearless leader would be all over that shit.

Unless, of course, it meant showing up.

via Nathan Newman, by way of Electrolite.
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