Saturday, March 10, 2007

Saturday Links

  • Just hours after Attorney General Alberto Gonzales dismissed the hubbub as an "overblown personnel matter," Bush administration is beating an abrupt retreat on eight federal prosecutors it fired and then publicly pilloried. Most importantly, President Bush will not stand in the way of a Democratic-sponsored bill that would cancel the attorney general's power to appoint federal prosecutors without Senate confirmation.

  • The Los Angeles Times argues that even though the new Democratic proposals for Iraq may eventually be weakened or killed, they have nevertheless successfully transformed a many-sided debate about the conflict into a sharp-edged argument about the endgame.

  • Senior Republicans who knew about problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center while their party controlled Congress insist they did all they could to prod the Pentagon to fix them, but stopped short of going public with the hospital’s problems to avoid embarrassing the Army while it was fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • The Senate voted Tuesday to give 45,000 airport screeners the same union rights as border patrol, customs and immigration agents, despite a White House threat to veto it. The House passed a similar bill with the same union provision for airport screeners. Republican Senator Richard M. Burr (NC) said, “Terrorists don’t go on strike. Terrorists don’t call their union to negotiate before they attack.” In response, Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy (MA) thundered back, shaming the GOP senators for suggesting that our airport screeners would sacrifice America’s security.

  • The prices for about 200 prescription drugs commonly used by seniors in the United States rose nearly twice the rate of inflation, a seniors group said Tuesday, making a case for letting the government negotiate drug prices.

  • Senate Democratic leaders said Tuesday that they would add money to the $100 billion wartime supplemental funding bill in about two weeks to improve health care for military combat veterans. In the meantime, according to the Wall Street Journal, the White House is adopting such a defensive stance on the Iraq-war-funding bill that it risks further alienating the Democrats who will write the measure.

Friday, March 09, 2007

News This Week From the States

  • On "pro-life day" at the Texas State Legislature, Republican Representative Beverly Woolley from Houston has filed a bill to protect embryonic stem cell research and already has support from 64 House members.

  • In Kentucky, a bill to ban state agencies from offering health insurance benefits to domestic partners of employees died in the House Health and Welfare Committee, after the University of Louisville began offering the benefits and the University of Kentucky announced it is considering doing so.

  • The New Hampshire state House voted to repeal the state's 2003 law requiring a parent to be notified before a minor daughter can get an abortion, which has been appealed as far as the U.S. Supreme Court. The courts ruled the law is flawed because it was unclear how the Legislature intended to protect the health of a girl in an emergency situation.

  • The Hawaii state House revived a measure that extends state employee health coverage to same-sex partners.

  • And in Washington, more than half of the state's uninsured children could receive health-care coverage under a bill passed by state lawmakers this week. The state Senate approved the measure earlier this session, and Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire has said she would sign it.

Libby Limerick

There once was a Scooter named Libby
Who told a great big ol' fibby
Soon his roommate in jail will be after his tail
And you know he will be scootin' aplenty.

- Jeff "Edward Lear" Bloomfield,

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Alternative Energy Daily News March 8, 2007

  • Combined sales of hybrids in the US rose 52% in February. The figures do not include sales of GM hybrids, which the automaker does not yet break out, but do reflect the addition of the Nissan Altima Hybrid, now sold in eight states.

  • A graph charting the number of pages discussing climate change in reports by investment analysts from traditional brokerages would resemble the renowned "hockey stick" graph of temperatures over the last 1,000 years.

  • Venture capital investment in U.S. companies developing alternative energy technologies more than doubled last year to an all-time high of $2.4 billion as high oil prices caused investors to seize on the promise of ethanol and other biofuels.

  • Under an ambitious new initiative announced by Bank of America, the financial institution will direct $20 billion to help its corporate, individual and small-business customers take advantage of the business opportunities created by green economic growth.

  • Verizon will soon begin a pilot project using 13 GMC 2500 service vans retrofitted with Enova hybrid drive systems. The vans will serve some of Verizon’s FiOS Internet and TV customers in Maryland and Texas.

  • The global auto industry is experiencing a green revolution, convinced that lower emissions and hybrid engines could turn eco-minded drivers into a long-term customers.

  • General Motors Corp has set a target for production of an all-electric car in 2010.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Tuesday Links

  • This week, the St. Paul, MN City Council may ask the state legislature to approve a bill that would let the city offer health coverage and other benefits to domestic partners of city employees — both gay and straight. Mayor Chris Coleman backs the move and has written letters to top state officials, including Governor Tim Pawlenty, supporting the change in state law.

  • During a White House meeting last week, a group of governors asked President Bush and Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about their backup plan for Iraq. The conclusion they took away, the governors later said, was that there is no Plan B. "I'm a Marine," Pace told them, "and Marines don't talk about failure. They talk about victory."

  • Democratic Governor Jim Doyle of Wisconsin has directed the state to turn down about $600,000 in federal abstinence education money because new rules would have required the state to teach abstinence-only sex education.

  • There are nearly 47 million people in America with no health insurance, and the problem is increasingly affecting the middle-class.

  • More and more former federal prosecutors are accusing the GOP of purging them for political reasons. The former federal prosecutor in Maryland said Monday that he was forced out in early 2005 because of political pressure stemming from public corruption investigations involving associates of the state’s Republican governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. And today, John McKay, the former U.S. attorney in Washington, revealed to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Republican Congressman Doc Hastings’s (WA) office contacted him and attempted to pressure him in an ongoing investigation. Also today, the former U.S. attorney for New Mexico David Iglesias publicly detailed how Republican Senator Pete Domenici (NM) and Republican Congresswoman Heather Wilson (NM) pressured him in an investigation.

  • Republican Senator Chuck Hagel (NE) has suggested that Congress may consider the impeachment of President Bush in an article in the new Esquire magazine.

Scooter Libby Guilty

Scooter Libby was found guily today on four of the five counts against him. More importantly than just Libby's guilt, both the trial and the verdict are embarrassments for both the White House in general and Shooter Cheney in particular.

Here's video of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's post-verdict press conference, and from the White House, which of course won't comment because they'd only lie some more.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Howard Dean urged Bush to pledge to not pardon Libby.

Not surprisingly, it took less than three hours for the impeccably-laughable National Review to urge Bush to pardon Libby.

Alternative Energy Daily News - March 6, 2007

  • The man who builds Wal-Mart's massive retail outlets is going against the grain by working from an "eco-template" that saves energy and water and dramatically reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

  • "Hybrid" buses, powered by a combination of electricity and diesel fuel, could be rolling on Pinellas, FL county roads by summer 2008 if the county bus agency approves.

  • Nevada Geothermal Power Inc. announced that the Nevada Public Utilities Commission has approved the 20-year Power Purchase Agreement with Nevada Power Company, a subsidiary of Sierra Pacific Resources. Under the contract, the Faulkner 1 Power Plant at Blue Mountain will supply between 18.75 MW and 31.25 MW (net) of electrical power; expected to come on line in 2009.

  • The Board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District in California approved a $2.6-million contract for the conversion of 20 Ford Escape Hybrids and 10 Toyota Priuses to plug-ins.

  • In what could be the largest environmentally friendly corporate project in history, Bank of America Corp. will unveil a $20-billion initiative today to help fertilize green business practices.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Breakdown of Fired U.S. Attorneys Case

Over on DailyKos there's a great breakdown of the fired U.S. attorneys saga, in which seven U.S. Attorneys have recently been fired for political reasons, despite good performance reviews. Democrats are holding hearings this Tuesday to look into the case, which should shed some light on yet another blatant attempt by the Bush administration to try and circumvent Congress and increase the power of the executive branch.

Update: After lying to the Senate that the firings weren't politcally motivated, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales now says he's too busy to answer letters from Democratic congressional leaders. Yeah, tearing the Constitution apart is hard work.

Update II: Republican Senator Pete V. Domenici (N.M.) finally acknowledged on Sunday that he contacted the U.S. Attorney in Albuquerque, David C. Iglesias, last year to ask about an ongoing corruption probe of Democrats, and that he told the Justice Department it should replace Iglesias. When asked last week about Iglesias's allegations, Domenici had said: "I have no idea what he's talking about." Funny what Congressional hearings will make someone remember.

Sunday Links

  • As the Walter Reed saga continues, with Fox News claiming that the only bad thing about it is that it might be politically problematic for Bush and the GOP, let us not forget the nearly 200,000 homeless veterans—many from the Vietnam War, a growing number (estimated around 500 to 1,000) just back from Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Speaking of Fox News, The Democratic Party of Nevada has announced plans to team up with the network for a presidential primary debate. Sign this petition to ask the Democratic Party of Nevada to drop Fox from the debate, as Fox is nothing but a GOP mouthpiece network.

  • Corrupt Republican Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher pardoned members of his staff in the midst of a patronage probe to try to keep the investigation from incriminating anyone in the governor's office, Lt. Gov. Steve Pence told a newspaper.

  • The board of TXU Corp., Texas' largest electric utility, last week tentatively approved a record $45 billion takeover bid by two private equity firms. The prospective owners of the TXU Corp. have told environmental groups that they would cancel eight of 11 coal plants proposed by the company and also back national legislation for mandatory reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, a major contributor to climate change.

  • In the first of a three-part series, the New Orleans Times Picayune reveals the growing belief that “the great sweep of marshes protecting New Orleans from the Gulf” will be wiped out far earlier than scientists once believed, “putting the sea at the city’s doorstep.”

CPAC: The Unauthorized Documentary

Watch Max Blumenthal of The Nation as he walks through the Conservative Political Action Conference and calls out, in person, the likes of Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter and other hateful "conservative" clowns.