2007 - %3, May

New Info on the Ninth Purged U.S. Attorney as Gonzales Goes Before Congress

| Thu May. 10, 2007 8:43 AM PDT

I wrote yesterday that there is speculation on the blogosphere that the eight purged U.S. Attorneys were actually nine purged U.S. Attorneys. Today, the WaPo has all the major papers have confirmed it.

The Post runs down Todd Graves, former U.S. Attorney from Missouri and the center of yesterday's speculation, and gets him on the record. He says that one of his bosses at the Dep't of Justice made it clear in January 2006 that the DOJ wanted a change of leadership at Graves' office to "give another person a chance." According to Graves, the conversation "made clear to me the fact I was getting a push... I felt like I was no longer welcome in the department."

The emergence of Graves is significant because it means the DOJ was forcing U.S. Attorneys out of their offices months earlier than previously suspected, and because it contradicts Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' testimony that the scandal was limited to the eight Attorneys already well-covered in the media. And the "give another person a chance" rational is exactly the same as the one given to other purged Attorneys.

As for the developing notion that voting rights are at the center of this storm, check out this paragraph:

Graves acknowledged that he had twice during the past few years clashed with Justice's civil rights division over cases, including a federal lawsuit involving Missouri's voter rolls that Graves said a Washington Justice official signed off on after he refused to do so. That official, Bradley J. Schlozman, was appointed as interim U.S. attorney to succeed Graves, remaining for a year until the Senate this spring confirmed John Wood for the job. Wood was a counselor to the deputy attorney general and is a son of [Republican Missouri Senator Kit] Bond's first cousin, although the senator's spokeswoman, Shana Marchio, said Bond did not recommend him for the job.

Alberto Gonzales is testifying before the House Judiciary Committee right now, where he will face questions about this topic and about the allegations of a stunning lack of diversity in the DOJ's civil rights division.

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Funniest Campaign Ads So Far Belong To...

| Thu May. 10, 2007 8:42 AM PDT

Bill Richardson! If the whole campaign was composed of reciting Richardson's resume and quirky ads like these, the man couldn't lose!

Spotted on Wonkette.

Global Warming Talking Points... A Push for Cap and Trade

| Wed May. 9, 2007 4:27 PM PDT

Now that a majority of Americans want immediate action against global warming, what rhetoric and policy would best address this newly-bipartisan concern?

The message must inspire. And the most inspirational rhetoric emphasizes freedom, independence, and self-sufficiency, and taps into the "belief that America can do anything once we make the commitment," reports Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, a Democratic pollster commissioned by the Center for American Progress.

On this particular point, however, Bill McKibben might disagree. The consultants say we should link healthy climate to economic growth, because clean energy would help to restore America as a leader in the world economy, create jobs, and raise incomes. McKibben, on the other hand, calls for no less than a philosophical rejection of the drive for economic growth.

What the firm considers a feasible political agenda:
•Mileage standards of 40 mpg
•Tax credits for people and companies using alternative energy
•A mandatory cap-and-trade market to reduce emissions by 2 percent per year

Speaking of which, the push for cap-and-trade made major headway this week. A major corporate petition has doubled its membership this week. The U.S. Climate Change Partnership now includes such giants as General Motors, Shell, DuPont, and Lehman Brothers. They have partnered with nonprofits such as Environmental Defense, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the World Resources Institute - plus two new groups, The Nature Conservancy and National Wildlife Federation. The want federal laws to curb the country's carbon emissions by 60 to 80 percent by 2050.

Also, ten states are creating the first mandatory carbon cap-and-trade program in the United States. They're trying to avoid the mistakes of the European Union's first go at it.

Cocaine In a Can, By Any Other Name

| Wed May. 9, 2007 3:58 PM PDT

real_fake_thing_60x110.jpg

Surprise, surprise. In order to stay out of legal trouble, Redux Beverages, the maker of "Cocaine," a provocatively-branded energy drink, is in search of a new name for its signature product. This because last month the FDA accused Redux of marketing the drink as an alternative to the street drug (ya think?), leading some states to pull the cans off store shelves.

While "Cocaine" the drink may be out, cultivation of the real thing couldn't be more in, particularly among left-leaning South American leaders eager to flout the United States' expensive (and largely ineffective) interdiction campaign. Get the blow by blow here and here.

—Koshlan Mayer-Blackwell

Iraqi Parliament: U.S. Out of Iraq

| Wed May. 9, 2007 3:49 PM PDT

In a comment to a previous blog post about the Baghdad Wall, a reader wrote:

The Iraqis don't want us out (at least not yet). If the Iraqis wanted us out now, they would communicate that to their representatives in the government, who would communicate it to us, and we would then leave. The fact is (as I saw during my time in Korea 30+ years ago), the Iraqis trust the Americans more than the trust fellow Iraqis. Thus, for now, they prefer we stay.

Even this reader must now concede that the Iraqis want us to get the hell out of Baghdad. Yesterday, a majority vote in the Iraqi parliament supported forcing the United States to set a timeline for withdrawal of troops.

So will we or will we not respect the budding Iraqi democracy? Reader poll in the comments section.

Immigration Officials Drug Detainees

| Wed May. 9, 2007 3:37 PM PDT

Immigration agents drugged two men who were being wrongfully deported, according to the men and their lawyers. One man was in the country illegally and agents took him to the airport to deport him without notifying his wife or attorney. Before leaving, they asked him if he wanted a sedative and he said no. They then returned with an syringe, pulled down his pants, and injected him with one. When they arrived at the airport, they were ordered to return with the deportee because they had not followed proper notification procedures.

The other deportee had a legal stay or deportation, but was being "escorted" out of the country on a commercial jet. Agents had the man handcuffed, but when he asked to speak to the captain to explain what was happening to him, they took him to the ground and injected him with a sedative. The captain ordered them all off the plane.

The ICE officials' actions violated the agency's policies on sedating detainees as well as federal air regulations prohibiting the transport of drugged individuals. You have to question, too, whether it's not cruel and unusual punishment to deport people who may be persecuted in their native countries (as was the case with one of the men, a Chinese Christian) and then force-sedate them when they get upset about it.

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Wildfire Tracker

| Wed May. 9, 2007 2:13 PM PDT

Your MoJo weird weather watcher evaluates the weird-quotient for wildfires now burning in Southern California, Florida, and Minnesota on The Blue Marble.

Weird Weather Watch: SoCal, Florida and Minnesota Are Burning

| Wed May. 9, 2007 2:10 PM PDT

Griffith Park, a park beloved by Angelenos, is experiencing a major brushfire. Animals from the nearby zoo have been moved indoors and 400 homes were evacuated. So far, only one man has been injured and firefighters expect to have the blaze contained shortly.

There are also major fires covering 130,000 acres along the Florida-Georgia border and 17,000 acres in Minnesota. Florida Department of Forestry documents [PDF] show that wildfires are not uncommon in May, but the present fires are among the biggest in Georgia history. I've got a call in to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, but a quick look at their website suggests they are not at all accustomed to major fires, and the current fire is only 5 percent contained.

Air Traffic Controllers In Newark Call For Criminal Investigation Over Carbon Monoxide Incident

| Wed May. 9, 2007 1:28 PM PDT

Last month, several air traffic controllers at the Newark Airport claimed they were forced to direct planes while they were suffering from dizziness, confusion, headaches, and disorientation brought on by carbon monoxide poisoning. It turns out that a test of the facility's backup generator sent exhaust fumes into the building's ventilation system, thus releasing the carbon monoxide fumes. The controllers also say that they were not allowed to leave the building, or even to leave their posts, and that management refused to call the fire department. Some of the employees said they would call the fire department to come and test the air, and that they were told by the operations manager that, 'If you make the call, I will not let them in the gate and I will refuse them entry into the control room."

Later, after the sleepy, confused and physically ill controllers directed hundreds of planes, some of them went to the hospital, where it was confirmed that significant levels of carbon monoxide was in their blood.

Now the air traffic controllers are calling for a criminal investigation of the incident. New York Sen. Chuck Schumer has sent a letter to the FAA, asking for such an investigation. "We've sent a letter to the FAA today asking for a thorough investigation to what's happened," Schumer said, "and I have to tell you given my past experience here, the FAA does not have a good record."

WABC Eyewitness News has already done a series of reports on how staffing cutbacks have led to an increase in controller errors at the Newark Airport.

Murdoch Goes Green

| Wed May. 9, 2007 1:17 PM PDT

Rupert Murdoch's speech this morning is a watershed in the history of climate change denial. Arguably the most powerful media mogul--and one of Bush's most powerful fans--has pledged to weave more global warming news into coverage.

"Our audience's carbon footprint is 10,000 times bigger than ours," Murdoch told employees. "Imagine if we succeed in inspiring our audiences to reduce their own impacts on climate change by just 1 percent. That would be like turning the state of California off for almost two months." Grist has the story.