Republican former Illinois governor George Ryan was convicted on all counts of corruption in his Federal felony trial:
A federal jury convicted former Gov. George Ryan today on all charges that as secretary of state he steered state business to cronies in return for vacations, gifts and other benefits for himself and his family.
Lobbyist Lawrence Warner, a close Ryan friend, was also found guilty on all charges against him in the historic trial.
On their eleventh day of deliberations, the six-woman, six-man jury found Ryan, 72, guilty on 18 counts of racketeering, mail fraud, false statements and tax violations. Warner, 67, was convicted on 12 counts of racketeering, mail fraud, extortion, money laundering and evading cash-reporting requirements.
Economist Paul Krugman (sub.req.) in today's New York Times lays out exactly how Exxon-Mobil has tried to undermine climate research since the mid-1980s:
The people and institutions Exxon Mobil supports aren't actually engaged in climate research. They're the real-world equivalents of the Academy of Tobacco Studies in the movie "Thank You for Smoking," whose purpose is to fail to find evidence of harmful effects.
But the fake research works for its sponsors, partly because it gets picked up by right-wing pundits, but mainly because it plays perfectly into the he-said-she-said conventions of "balanced" journalism. A 2003 study, by Maxwell Boykoff and Jules Boykoff, of reporting on global warming in major newspapers found that a majority of reports gave the skeptics—a few dozen people, many if not most receiving direct or indirect financial support from Exxon Mobil—roughly the same amount of attention as the scientific consensus, supported by thousands of independent researchers.
I still haven't forgiven Exxon for the Exxon Valdez disaster (and neither have the sea otters, who are still affected). This is just one more nail.
TPM Muckraker reported today that the Dept. of Homeland Security has a new warning about radical animal-rights groups:
Such radical extremist groups may use several tactics—each devastating in its own way—including:
- "organizing protests"
- "flyer distribution"
- "inundating computers with e-mails"
- "tying up phone lines to prevent legitimate calls"
- "sending continuous faxes in order to drain the ink supply from company fax machines"
I particularly like the fourth item, since several Republicans have been convicted recently of doing just that in New Hampshire during the 2002 election.
The Chicago Tribune carried two Assoicated Press stories about religious fanatacism this morning. First, Christians were attacked at Mass in Egypt yesterday. When American Christians, who currently run the government, claim to be "persecuted," perhaps they should reflect on the Egyptian situation.
The second story, from Manila, Philippines, tells of Catholics voluntarily getting nailed to crosses to show their devotion. In a concession to the fact that we no longer live in ancient Roman times, the 10 cm (4 in.) nails pounded through their hands and feet—in one man's case, for the 20th time—were "soaked in alcohol to prevent infection."
It's chilling, actually, but if you read Seymour Hersh's latest column in the New Yorker closely you get the impression that Bush is planning yet another disastrous war. Even Vizzini knew not to get involved in a land war in Asia; the President (1,014 days and 4 hours to go) is contemplating his third.
The latest campaign of the Christian right is to get colleges to grant them exceptions to their broad anti-harrassment policies. The L.A. Times reports on a suit against the Georgia Institute of Technology:
Ruth Malhotra went to court last month for the right to be intolerant.
Malhotra says her Christian faith compels her to speak out against homosexuality. But the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she's a senior, bans speech that puts down others because of their sexual orientation.
Malhotra sees that as an unacceptable infringement on her right to religious expression. So she's demanding that Georgia Tech revoke its tolerance policy.
You have to read about two-thirds down the article to get to the crux (sorry) of the wing-nuts' objection:
[Christian activist Gregory S. Baylor] says he supports policies that protect people from discrimination based on race and gender. But he draws a distinction that infuriates gay rights activists when he argues that sexual orientation is different—a lifestyle choice, not an inborn trait.
Two things: first, whether sexual orientation is biological or a "lifestyle choice" misses the point, because the policy protects against religious persecution as well, so invalidating the policy would open up the fundies to more discrimination on campus. Second, according to the L.A. Times, by saying that the evidence suggests more strongly than not that homosexuality is partially biological, I'm a "gay activist." No wonder I feel fabulous.
There's more. Malhotra apparently has a long history of not "getting it" regarding appropriate and inappropriate speech:
Malhotra said she had been reprimanded by college deans several times in the last few years for expressing conservative religious and political views. When she protested a campus production of "The Vagina Monologues" with a display condemning feminism, the administration asked her to paint over part of it.
She caused another stir with a letter to the gay activists who organized an event known as Coming Out Week in the fall of 2004. Malhotra sent the letter on behalf of the Georgia Tech College Republicans, which she chairs; she said several members of the executive board helped write it.
The letter referred to the campus gay rights group Pride Alliance as a "sex club...that can't even manage to be tasteful." It went on to say that it was "ludicrous" for Georgia Tech to help fund the Pride Alliance. "If gays want to be tolerated, they should knock off the political propaganda," the letter said.
Imagine, just for a second, that Malhorta received a letter saying her Bible-study was a "terrorist club...that can't even manage to be civil." Imagine if it included the sentiment, "If Christians want to be tolerated, they should knock off the martyr propaganda." Don't you suppose she'd sue over that, too? At least in that case, she'd have a defensible position.
The President's approval rating has fallen to 36%, its lowest ever, according to a new AP-Ipsos poll out today:
- Just 36 percent of the public approves of Bush’s job performance, his lowest-ever rating in AP-Ipsos polling. By contrast, the president’s job approval rating was 47 percent among likely voters just before Election Day 2004 and a whopping 64 percent among registered voters in October 2002.
- Only 40 percent of the public approves of Bush’s performance on foreign policy and the war on terror, another low-water mark for his presidency. That’s down 9 points from a year ago. Just before the 2002 election, 64 percent of registered voters backed Bush on terror and foreign policy.
- Just 35 percent of the public approves of Bush’s handling of Iraq, his lowest in AP-Ipsos polling.
- Just 30 percent of the public approves of the GOP-led Congress’ job performance, and Republicans seem to be shouldering the blame.
The MSNBC report includes a quote from a Republican pollster repeating the canard that it's not as bad as it seems because the Democrats don't have much of a plan. But we do have a plan. Our plan is to fix the enormous damage to our international reputation, our economy, and our political institutions that the GOP has perpetrated on us. It would appear that 64% of the public think that's plan enough.
The New York Sun is reporting that President Bush authorized leaking Plame's identity, at least implicitly, according to the vice president's former chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby:
A former White House aide under indictment for obstructing a leak probe, I. Lewis Libby, testified to a grand jury that he gave information from a closely-guarded "National Intelligence Estimate" on Iraq to a New York Times reporter in 2003 with the specific permission of President Bush, according to a new court filing from the special prosecutor in the case.
The court papers from the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, do not suggest that Mr. Bush violated any law or rule. However, the new disclosure could be awkward for the president because it places him, for the first time, directly in a chain of events that led to a meeting where prosecutors contend the identity of a CIA employee, Valerie Plame, was provided to a reporter.
Whether or not this is true, it's interesting to watch the administration's in-fighting get to this level. One hopes the electorate remembers, and understands, in November.
First, the House last night passed a campaign-finance package last night on a strict 218-209 party-line vote:
The House approved campaign finance legislation last night that would benefit Republicans by placing strict caps on contributions to nonprofit committees that spent heavily in the last election while removing limits on political parties' spending coordinated with candidates.
Lifting party spending limits would aid Republican candidates because the GOP has consistently raised far more money than the Democratic Party. Similarly, barring "527" committees from accepting large unregulated contributions known as "soft money" would disadvantage Democrats, whose candidates received a disproportionate share of the $424 million spent by nonprofit committees in 2003-2004.
I have a dream that someday, the House of Representatives will represent me. I have another dream involving Angelina Jolie. Which dream do you suppose is more likely to come true?
In other news, the best administration we have (as Molly Ivins likes to say) is once again muzzling climate scientists who dare say there is a link between human activity and climate change. This seems to be because there is a link between human activity and climate change, a link the administration's policies are reinforcing:
Employees and contractors working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with a U.S. Geological Survey scientist working at an NOAA lab, said in interviews that over the past year administration officials have chastised them for speaking on policy questions; removed references to global warming from their reports, news releases and conference Web sites; investigated news leaks; and sometimes urged them to stop speaking to the media altogether. Their accounts indicate that the ideological battle over climate-change research, which first came to light at NASA, is being fought in other federal science agencies as well.
Because if no one talks about it, it isn't really happening, even as the Republic of Kiribati disappears beneath the Pacific...
Experts say the Enron executives' testimony is extremely risky for the pair.
They will have to overcome the obvious conclusion that they knew they were robbing hundreds of employees and thousands of investors before company collapsed. Stay tuned.