Sparky: Friday's Review of the Week's News ... and some harmless agitprop ...Sparky wants you to remember that Gonzales is the "Go To" guy for okaying torture by the less finicky for US Intelligence. ... And remember it was Cheney and Rummy who sent American troops to Iraq with inadequate body armor.
Official Portrait of VP Cheney -
with his happy face -
Pointman for the Bush Junta II
January 5, 2006
United States Vice President Dick Cheney, in a speech to the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday, admitted to a key role in the domestic spying program. In a ringing defense of the warrantless eavesdropping authorized by President Bush, Cheney said he had "personally presided" over most briefings of selected Capitol Hill lawmakers about the program, which was begun in response to the 9/11 attacks and after Congress passed a September 2001 resolution authorizing the use of force to combat terrorism.
Not a happy face ...
The National Security Agency (NSA) has been monitoring certain domestic telephone calls and emails, under the condition that the other end of the message is to or from a foreign location, the White House has admitted. In addition, the New York Times has reported that the agency has been conducting a widespread data-mining operation of such messages, hoping to identify patterns that might tip off the U.S. government to terrorist operations. Bush quickly backed up the decision by Michael Hayden, then NSA chief and now deputy national intelligence director, repeatedly authorizing the NSA to conduct warrantless searches, according to published reports.
Cheney vigorously defended the program, arguing that it could have prevented the 9/11 attacks, though a Washington Post report of his speech notes flaws in his reasoning. Cheney avoided mention of words such as "warrantless" and gave no explanation of why the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, which normally issues national security warrants, needed to be bypassed. He asserted however that "the civil liberties of the American people are unimpeded" by the "wartime measure."
Cheney may face pressure by some in Congress, such as Republican Senator Arlen Specter, who has pledged to investigate the eavesdropping program, to testify on Capitol Hill, though Cheney is known to be a major proponent of executive privilege and may well resist. The vice president, anticipating a "spirited debate" on the necessity of the program, said the leak of "highly classified" data to the NYTimes had been a "clear detriment to our national security."
The Justice Department launched a probe last week to seek the source of leaked information about the secretive program. No report has emerged that the Justice Department is making a formal inquiry into possible illegalities that might have occurred on the part of the NSA or White House. Many in Congress are interested in this point, as some see this surveillance of U.S. citizens as a violation of their Fourth Amendment right guarding against unreasonable searches.
The Justice Department head and former White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, has defended the NSA program as legal and constitutional.
- FDCH e-Media "Vice President Cheney Speaks on Iraq and the War on Terrorism". The Washington Post, January 4, 2006
- Jim VandeHei and Dan Eggen "Cheney Cites Justifications For Domestic Eavesdropping". The Washington Post, January 5, 2006
- Evan Thomas and Daniel Klaidman "Full Speed Ahead". Newsweek, January 9, 2006 issue
Scumbag listening to his lawyer
Abramoff, founder and former chairman of the International Freedom Foundation and former member of the Board of Directors of the National Center for Public Policy Research, reportedly agreed to cooperate in the prosecutor's case against Abramoff's former business partners, who are subjects of the SunCruz Casinos fraud investigation. Part of the three-count indictment charged Abramoff with influence-peddling a House Representative's Scotland golf trip with US$50,000. The money in question was solicited from an Indian Tribe in Texas by Abramoff, and is rumoured to have gone to Representative Bob Ney (R-OH).
In exchange for his testimony, Mr. Abramoff is expected to be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years imprisonment, and will be allowed to serve sentences concurrently. He is due in a Florida court on Wednesday in regards to the SunCruz case.External Sources
- AP "Lobbyist Abramoff Reaches Deal with Prosecutors". National Public Radio, January 03, 2006
- Anne E. Kornblut "G.O.P. Lobbyist Pleads Guilty in Deal With Prosecutors". New York Times, January 03, 2006
- United States District Court for the District of Columbia Court Filing
- "U.S. v. Ambramoff". New York Times, January 03,2006
- "U.S. v. Ambramoff". National Public Radio, January 03,2006
January 1, 2006
Tropical Storm Zeta has become the first storm of the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season after crossing over from 2005 Atlantic hurricane season as that seasons 27th storm, breaking the record set by Hurricane Epsilon earlier in December. This makes Zeta the second tropical storm in history to cross over into another season; the first time this occurred was in 1954-55 with Hurricane Alice.
Zeta currently has a top sustained wind speed of 50mph (85 km/h). It is currently about 1,085 miles (1745 km) southwest of the Azores and is proceeding west-southwest at 2mph (4 km/h). Forecasters say it is not expected to become a hurricane or threaten land.
Zeta formed on December 30, 2005, after the offical end of the destructive and record-breaking 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, which ended on November 30, 2005. The 2005 season was notable for the record number of storms it produced (including Zeta), and was the first time storm names used V, W and Greek letters and the second time the letters R, S, and T were used. The season also had the highest-ever number of storms forming in the month of July, and had the highest number of Category 5 hurricanes with a total of three, including Hurricane Wilma, the most intense hurricane ever in the Atlantic basin.
The most notable of the three Category 5 hurricanes was Hurricane Katrina. Katrina caused over $100 billion (USD) in damage and 1,383 deaths, especially along Mississippi and Alabama coastlines which suffered catastrophic damage. The storm also caused levees to break in New Orleans leading to the flooding of the city which is located below sea-level. The United States goverment, the city government of New Orleans and the goverment of the State of Louisana were all severely criticized for their handling of the storms aftermath. Hurricane Katrina, although not yet certified, is most likely the costliest hurricane in U.S. history.
Forecasters are predicting that hurricane seasons are going to be more active than usual for about another decade.Sources
- Wikipedia "2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season". Wikipedia, Jan 1, 2006
- "Tropical Storm Zeta Drifts Across Atlantic". Associated Press, Jan 1, 2006
January 6, 2006
American comedian and Daily Show anchor Jon Stewart has been chosen to host the 78th Annual Academy Awards. This is not Stewart's first time hosting an awards show as he hosted the Grammys in 2001 and 2002.
His choice by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences shows their continuing attempt to target a younger viewing audience. Last year's host was Chris Rock, also a comedian who is popular with young adults, whose peformance and jokes at the expense of celebrities irked some Academy members. The Academy has also been seeking an Oscar host with the appeal of popular hosts such as Billy Crystal, Johnny Carson, and Bob Hope.
The choice further demonstrates Stewart's transformation from the host of a cult TV show into a mainstream performer. Stewart is host of The Daily Show, a satirical "fake news" show aired on Comedy Central that parodies network and cable news shows. The show started in 1996, anchored by Stewart's predecessor Craig Kilborn, who left in 1999 to host The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn. The Daily Show draws in about 1.4 million viewers nightly. While not a groundbreaking number, sixty-five percent of those viewers are in the 18 to 49 age group, which is the group most coveted by television advertisers.
The Daily Show has become influental in politics and pop culture. Stewart has interviewed many guests from both sides of the political spectrum, including 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry, Bill O'Reilly, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, and has asked for President George W. Bush to come on the show, going so far as publish an invitation in a full page newspaper ad during the 2004 Republican National Convention.
Although The Daily Show is steeped in satire, its emphasis on political coverage and current events has led to many of its younger viewers regard it as their daily news source, especially during the 2004 presidential election. Stewart was even considered as a possible replacement for Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News by CBS executive Leslie Moonves, which owned Comedy Central before splitting into two companies just a few days ago.
Although a comedian, Stewart can be serious at times. Notable was his appearance on the CNN show Crossfire in which he got into a debate with host Tucker Carlson over the state of television journalism, and accused Crossfire of polarizing politics. He referred to Carlson and co-host Paul Begala as "partisan hacks", and said that Carlson was "as big a dick on [his] show as [he is] on any show". Many believe this highly publicized criticizm led to the cancellation of Crossfire.
- "Jon Stewart To Host Oscars". CBS, January 5, 2006
- "Dan Rather's Chair May Get Crowded". Associated Press, January 18, 2005
- Greg Risling "Update 4: Jon Stewart to Host 2006 Academy Awards". Associated Press, January 5, 2006
- "Comedian Jon Stewart to host Oscars". Reuters, January 6, 2006
- "The Daily Show". Wikipedia, January 6, 2006
- "Jon Stewart". Wikipedia, January 6, 2006
Sadden by Lou Rawls' passing - Sparks