Political MoJo

Colorado legislator declares state is helping create terrorists

| Wed Jul. 12, 2006 8:42 PM EDT

America is known as a melting pot. If that's the case, then Debbie Stafford, a Colorado state legislator, has decided to stir it. Colorado just passed passed an immigration bill that denies public assitance to anyone who is not in the state legally, but which makes exceptions for children to get food and healthcare. Stafford's response?

"We're helping create the next generation of terrorists."

In the meantime, many of Stafford's Republican colleagues were upset because they were unable to get on the ballot a constitutional amendment that would have required all workers in Colorado to have a state I.D. The bill's sponsor, Al White, attacked Governor Bill Owens, who he said was actively lobbied by Colorado homebuilders and Republican donors who did not want to see the state's labor pool decreased.

Colorado's Hispanic population was up to 19% in 2004 and is growing. Stafford apparently has some kind of inside track on the terrorist intentions of illegal immigrants from Mexico and other South American nations.

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Supposed Change in Detention Policy Too Late For Some Prisoners

| Wed Jul. 12, 2006 8:25 PM EDT

The Bush administration's late embrace of the Geneva Conventions may or may not be sincere. Either way, it comes too late for hundreds of prisoners, most of them innocent, who've spent years of their lives in U.S. detention—men like Muhibullo Abdulkarim Umaro, a 24-year-old Tajik swept up in the U.S. war on terror who spent two years in four prisons in three countries. Read his story at MotherJones.com.

Plus: "Why Am I in Cuba?: Excerpts from military tribunal transcripts.

Plus Plus: Mother Jones' coverage of the moral and legal disgrace that has been U.S. detention policy since 9/11--with pieces by Emily Bazelon, Anthony Lewis, and Mark Danner, among others, all in one handy place.

Escalation in the Middle East

| Wed Jul. 12, 2006 6:49 PM EDT

So Israel invades southern Lebanon after two of its soldiers are seized by Hezbollah. The Bush administration, no doubt with lots of proof in tow, immediately blames Syria and Iran for the kidnappings. And now Yossi Klein Halavi in the New Republic says that Israel is about to start a wider, multiyear war against Syria and Iran, and that the United States should help by bombing the latter's nuclear facilities. Is there anyone out there with any interest in trying to de-escalate this conflict?

MORE: Jonathan Edelstein sheds a lot of light on the situation.

The Easy Comedy of Kim Jong-Il

| Wed Jul. 12, 2006 5:57 PM EDT

The Economist's covers are often very funny (though not quite as often as the editors of The Economist think they are) -- and never more so than when they feature Kim Jong-Il.

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With all the chuckling it's easy to forget he's actually much more dangerous than Saddam ever was--his recent bout of projectile dysfunction notwithstanding.

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Indian Bloggers Help Out

Wed Jul. 12, 2006 5:56 PM EDT

The response of Indian bloggers to the train bombing yesterday in Mumbai was truly touching. One site, Mumbai Help, offered to try to reach residents of the city on behalf of their relatives abroad, who could not get through the clogged phone system. Eventually, the site's 30-odd contributors were able to lay the fears of dozens of people to rest. A recent report in the Times of India said that nearly 86 percent of India's internet users regularly check blogs, creating an impressive potential for bloggers to help in times of crisis (although obviously no one hopes there will be more crises like this one).

Zidane Not a Victim of Racism

| Wed Jul. 12, 2006 4:07 PM EDT

Appearing on French TV, Zinedine Zidane said Marco Materazzi insulted his mother and sister, and he denied speculation—fueled by international lip readers—that the Italian defender had called him a "terrorist." Good lesson in reserving judgment till the facts are in, eh Dave?

This, of course, makes Zidane's behavior even less explicable—insults against mothers being fairly standard, regrettably, wherever men gather to compete—and therefore even sadder. There's talk, now, of having him stripped of the Golden Ball Award, which is probably fair enough—though on the merits he certainly earned it. (Worth noting, too, that the guy is a genius and deserves to be remembered primarily as such.)

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The Imperial Presidency, Part 587

| Wed Jul. 12, 2006 4:01 PM EDT

I'm trying to figure out what's scarier: The news that the Bush administration will likely disregard the Supreme Court's decision in Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld and carry on with a domestic spying program that's now very clearly illegal, or… the fact that the Justice Department is apparently of the view that "The president is always right."

The Midwest Is a Dangerous Place

Wed Jul. 12, 2006 3:52 PM EDT

Where in the United States is most vulnerable to a terrorist attack? The federal antiterrorism database has an unexpected answer for you: Indiana. But of all the places Hoosiers might think to flee, Wisconsin should not be on the list. According to the database, the Cheese State is home to the second greatest number of potential terrorist targets of any state nationally.

Right… this is so strange, you just might want to read about it yourself—especially if you were contemplating a vacation to those well-known terrorist stomping grounds in the Midwest.

Putin: Cheney Shooting Self in Face; or Something Like That

| Wed Jul. 12, 2006 2:37 PM EDT

He may be a cold, steely authoritarian who increasingly has his country by the cojones and exhibits an odd penchant for "kittenish" boys, but Vladimir Putin appears to have a sense of humor. (AP)

Asked about Cheney's remarks [that Russia is increasingly undemocratic and is using its energy reserves as a weapon against its neighbors] Putin said, "I think the statements of your vice president of this sort are the same as an unsuccessful hunting shot."

Jokes aside, though, this is one more small indication that "U.S.-Russia relations are clearly headed in the wrong direction."

Halliburton: No Bid, No Dice

| Wed Jul. 12, 2006 2:18 PM EDT

About three years too late, the Army is dumping Halliburton Co., Dick Cheney's old company, as the provider of first, second, and third resort (no questions asked, no cost too high) provider of logistical support to U.S. troops worldwide. (Washington Post)

A reminder of why that arrangement, in effect since 2001, has proved less than ideal:

Under the deal, Halliburton had exclusive rights to provide the military with a wide range of work that included keeping soldiers around the world fed, sheltered and in communication with friends and family back home. Government audits turned up more than $1 billion in questionable costs. Whistle-blowers told how the company charged $45 per case of soda, double-billed on meals and allowed troops to bathe in contaminated water.

The Post reports that last year the Army paid Kellogg, Brown & Root, the Halliburton subsidiary that performs this work, more than $7 billion under the contract, with $4-5 billion coming this year. An Army official says the company did a bang-up job and the decision reflects a desire not to have "'all our eggs in one basket' because multiple contractors will give them better prices, more accountability and greater protection if one contractor fails to perform." (It took them this long to figure that out?)

For more on Halliburton, see Ed Harriman's unsparing examination of the Iraq reconstruction boondoggle in the London Review of Books and Michael Scherer's look at the company's global reach in Mother Jones.