My wife and I bought our house in May 2006 from Ellen and Rosemary, an elderly lesbian couple. They had done beautiful work to the house, having planned on staying here the rest of their lives. But grandchildren came, and with that, they ran off to North Carolina to be closer to the little ones. I told them how exciting it was that they could help turn North Carolina Blue.
This house had a lot of memories for them, including being the location of their commitment ceremony. They were intensely proud of the house, even flying off the handle when the housing inspector found a few inoffensive nitpicky "flaws" in his inspection report. Even though my wife and I shrugged at those minor blemishes, when we moved in, the couple had already had them all fixed.
While they couldn't officially marry in this beloved house of theirs, they eventually went up to Massachusetts this past September and married. It must've been really sweet.
Being elderly and living in the East Coat, they apparently went to bed early on Election Night. Sometime in the middle of the night, Ellen woke up and asked Rosemary, "who won?" Her wife pulled out her laptop, and said, "Obama did. It's now official." Ellen, a huge Obama fan, smiled and went back to bed. Shortly thereafter, she died.
Rosemary jokes that Ellen waited just long enough to find out the results so she could go and tell Obama's grandmother the great news.
BY TAYLOR MARSH President-elect Barack Obama plans to nominate Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state after Thanksgiving, an aide to his transition said Thursday. - APThis is what I’ve been waiting for today. President-elect[...]
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The IAEA has produced its latest report on Iran and there are few surprises therein, certainly no "smoking gun".
"To date, the results of the environmental samples taken at FEP and PFEP2, and the operating records for FEP3, indicate that the plants have been operating as declared (i.e. less than 5.0% U-235 enrichment). Since March 2007, twenty unannounced inspections have been conducted at FEP"...."The Agency has been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran."
Most importantly, the IAEA guarantees that all known activities are under Agency seal and surveillance, and cannot be used to produce a weapon without Agency knowledge.
Iran has now produced roughly enough nuclear material to make, with added purification, a single atom bomb, according to nuclear experts analyzing the latest report from global atomic inspectors.
The figures detailing Iran?s progress were contained in a routine update on Wednesday from the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has been conducting inspections of the country?s main nuclear plant at Natanz. The report concluded that as of early this month, Iran had made 630 kilograms, or about 1,390 pounds, of low-enriched uranium
But the really important part, underplayed by that lede and the headline "Iran Said to Have Nuclear Fuel for One Weapon", is that there's no sign of a "breakout"- kicking out the inspectors, breaking seals and switching of cameras - which would be a dead giveaway. It would take months thereafter (about half the time it took to enrich the stuff to LEU) to enrich that LEU to weapons grade, and that's to say nothing of actually building a bomb with it afterwards. A minimum timeframe is in the order of a year and a half, in which the West could decide what to do next.
In that regard, all the NYT piece has to say is that "The atomic energy agency said Iran was continuing to evade questions about its suspected work on nuclear warheads."
Whereas what the IAEA report really says is that:
"the Agency currently has no information ? apart from the uranium metal document ? on the actual design or manufacture by Iran of nuclear material components of a nuclear weapon or of certain other key components, such as initiators, or on related nuclear physics studies (GOV/2008/38, para. 21). Nor has the Agency detected the actual use of nuclear material in connection with the alleged studies."
Regrettably, as a result of the lack of cooperation by Iran in connection with the alleged studies and other associated key remaining issues of serious concern, the Agency has not been able to make substantive progress on these issues. For the Agency to make progress, an important first step, in connection with the alleged studies, is for Iran to clarify the extent to which information contained in the relevant documentation is factually correct and where, in its view, such information may have been modified or relates to non-nuclear purposes.
What alleged studies? The ones contained on the infamous Laptop of Death, which was given to an Iranian anti-regime group (read: the utterly-nutterly terrorists of the Mujahedeen e-Kalq) and thence to US intelligence, which the Bush administration has refused to turn over to the IAEA or let the Iranians see.
Many analysts, including those at the IAEA, have serious doubts about the authenticity of all the documents on the laptop. That hasn't stopped Sanger and Broad continually recycling their fearmongering and misdirection though - since at least 2005. The US says it won't turn its copies of documents over because it could reveal sources. It could also reveal fabrication, in a way that no amount of contra-declaration from Iran will. There's at least one instance where a document with handwritten notation on, Iran has produced an original which is un-anotated. Only examination of the US version has any chance of determining whether the handwriting was fraudulently added much later or whether it was added nearer the time of the original's production (which would suggest its part of a series of official Iranian copies, one written on when the original wasn't). In Iran's favor - worldwide practise is that small copy series are numbered in such tight-security circumstances, but the US-held version isn't numbered and neither is the original Iran-held one shown to the IAEA.
The spin that Iran's civilian nuclear power program is dangerous hinges upon whether the Laptop of Death is a credible source or not. The easiest way to find that out is by examining the US documents, not asking the Iranians to prove a negative, that it isn't. Neither Sanger and Broad nor any of the other war boosters, from Dick Cheney and Walrus Bolton on down, are likely to admit that though - and in the meantime the IAEA is being pressured behind the scenes to pressure Iran instead of stating the obvious. But recall that the last US National Intelligence Estimate came to the conclusion that the Iranian weapons program was cancelled in 2003, while it was still at a very early stage. Even if the laptop is genuine, all its information still refers to that pre-2003 period. That's what all the hyperventilating is based upon. Without that laptop information, with the dates carefully not mentioned, then we are left with the NIE and IAEA's finding that the Iranian weapons program ended in 2003 and that there is no sign that it has been restarted.
How long would it take Iran to build a nuke if it has no intent to turn that LEU into HEU for a weapon that it has no intention of designing, let alone building? Forever.
Could Legal Challenges And Rumors Of Failure On Behalf Of Seņor McCain And Barry “Steve” Obama’s Ability To Meet Natural-Born Citizenship Status Requirements For POTUS Run Lead To Marshall Law Under President “Surge” Dubya Bush And His Newly-Indicted Boss, Dick...
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U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, in the first ruling to carry out the Supreme Court’s June decision on detainees’ rights, ordered the federal government to release five Guantanamo Bay detainees "forthwith." The judge found, however, that the government had justified the continued imprisonment of a sixth detainee, Belkacem ben Sayah.
The judge, in an unusual added comment, suggested to senior government leaders that they forgo an appeal of his ruling on freeing the five prisoners, suggesting that "seven years is enough" in captivity. He argued that the government could pursue whatever legal issues it wished to while defending on appeal his ruling in the case of ben Sayah....
In ruling against the government as to the five detainees, Judge Leon said that the Justice Department and intelligence agencies had relied solely on a classified document, which he found was not persuasive on the government’s claim that the five had planned to travel to Afghanistan to join in hostile actions against the United States and allied forces.
It's unlikely that that Bush administration will take Judge Leon's advice and not appeal his ruling, given last month's appeal of the order that 17 Chinese-born Muslims, all deteremined to be innocent, be released. However, this is a blow struck for the restoration of habeas. The executive director for the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has taken the lead in the Guantanamo cases, had this statement:
Even in a courtroom that was closed to the public and the press, and with the detainees allowed access to the proceedings only by telephone, the court could find no reason to hold these men. This decision makes it clear once again that even with presumptions in its favor, the government cannot muster the barest evidence in support of its arbitrary detentions. For seven years, the Bush administration sought to avoid the courts because it had no evidence and sought instead to create a lawless prison.
We must note that justice here, however, comes seven years too late. The restoration of habeas corpus is a great achievement, and what is necessary now is for the government to give up this charade, rescind the ‘enemy combatant’ labels slapped on recklessly by combatant status review tribunals and return the men at Guantanamo to their home countries or, for those needing resettlement or asylum, to a safe third country.
We hope a new administration makes restoring the lives of hundreds of men at Guantanamo who have never been charged with any crime or tried in a court of law a top priority. Guantánamo Bay is a failure by every measure and must be closed immediately.
That is likely to happen. Here's what President-elect Obama had to say on 60 Minutes last Sunday:
CBS: There are a number of different things you can do early on pertaining to executive orders.
CBS: One of them is to shut down Guantanamo Bay. Another is to change interrogation methods that are used by U.S. troops. Are those things that you plan to take early action on?
OBAMA: Yes. I have said repeatedly that I intend to close Guantanamo, and I will follow through on that. I have said repeatedly that America doesn’t torture, and I’m going to make sure that we don’t torture. Those are part and parcel of an effort to regain America’s moral stature in the world.
Now that Waxman is taking over Energy and Commerce from John Dingell, we need a strong leader to replace Waxman at Oversight. I nominate either Dennis Kucinich or Elijah Cummings.[...]
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Turkeys have played a propaganda role throughout the glorious Bush years. Who of us could forget the time when Commander Guy flew unannounced to Iraq for a photo-op as he served plastic turkey to U.S. troops? Or the year that the turkey about to be[...]
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As he serves out his time, the self-styled Decider is putting Americans through the most agonizing period of indecision in three-quarters of a century, leaving a unified nation holding its breath until January 20th.
Paul Krugman cites today's parallel with the "power vacuum" in 1932-1933 that was "disastrous for the U.S. economy, at least in part because the outgoing administration had no credibility, the incoming administration had no authority and the ideological chasm between the two sides was too great to allow concerted action."
George W. Bush has spent eight years using the power of an imperial presidency to make government impotent and has succeeded so well that Congress is helpless to do anything about saving a failing economy until he leaves Washington.
His Treasury Secretary has disbursed almost half of the $700 billion bailout money he begged for and, with the crisis worsening, has gone into hiding until he can get out of town.
Congressional Democrats are tap-dancing for time by castigating drowning Detroit auto makers for not flying tourist class while checking airline schedules for their own two-month vacations.
Meanwhile, Wall Street keeps sinking to new lows daily, credits markets are freezing up again and the rest of America is facing a holiday season of deep despair.
Bush's crowning achievement is that he will leave the White House, having united the country, in fact the whole world, in a universal hunger for government to do something, anything but what he has been doing and not doing during his tenure in office.
The minute Barack Obama takes the oath, there will be a huge sigh of relief heard around the globe.
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As the media focuses on President-elect Obama and the transition of power here in Washington, the Bush administration is quietly trying to push through a wide array of federal regulations before President Bush leaves office in January.
Up to ninety proposed regulations could be finalized by the outgoing administration, many of which would weaken government rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment. According to the Washington Post, the new rules would be among the most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era. They include rules that could weaken workplace safety protections, allow local police to spy in the so-called ?war on terror? and make it easier for federal agencies to ignore the Endangered Species Act.
While it?s nothing new for outgoing administrations to try and enact these so-called ?midnight regulations,? the Bush administration has accelerated the process to ensure the changes it wants will be finalized by November 22nd. That?s sixty days before the next administration takes control. Most federal rules go into effect sixty days after they?ve been finalized, and it would be a major bureaucratic undertaking for the Obama administration to reverse federal rules already in effect.
I know that it will surprise no one that most, if not all, of these regulations come at the benefit of corporations and to the detriment of the American people and the environment, including making it easier to pollute near national parks, easing mining restrictions, and neutering the Endangered Species Act.
So much for that lame duck quackitude, Bush is going to place his anti-Midas touch on as many areas as he can before he's kicked out the door.
Strong stuff. Nice to see FDL up on the screen at MSNBC.[...]
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