take the Terkel challenge
(Continued on capitoilette. . . .)
. . . a journal of politics, popular culture, and mixed drinks. . .
Local fire officials were similarly frustrated, arguing that if the state had provided adequate aircraft and personnel, the devastation could have been prevented and the Santiago fire could have been quickly extinguished. Now the fire will take at least two weeks to contain and could enter the national forest, they said.
"It is an absolute truth -- if we had more air resources we would have been able to control this fire," said Orange County Fire Authority Chief Chip Prather.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported last May that the California National Guard had been depleted and warned that severe “equipment shortages could hinder the guard’s response to a large-scale disaster,” such as a “major fire”:In California, half of the equipment the National Guard needs is not in the state, either because it is deployed in Iraq or other parts of the world or because it hasn’t been funded, according to Lt. Col. John Siepmann. While the Guard is in good shape to handle small-scale incidents, “our concern is a catastrophic event,” he said.
“You would see a less effective response (to a major incident),” he said.
At a press conference five months ago, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) echoed these concerns, stating, “A lot of equipment has gone to Iraq, and it doesn’t come back when the troops come back.” The Chronicle reported that the California National Guard was missing about $1 billion worth of equipment.
. . . .
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said, “Right now we are down 50 percent in terms of our National Guard equipment because they’re all in Iraq. The equipment — half of the equipment, so we really will need help.” California Lieutenant Gov. John Garamendi (D) said on Harball yesterday, “What we really need are those firefighters, we need the equipment, we need, frankly, we need those troops back from Iraq.”
When asked about California’s concerns of depleted equipment caused by the Iraq war, White House spokesman Dana Perino said yesterday, “I haven’t heard that specifically.”
According to a report from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, a think tank run by the industrialized countries, the taxes collected last year by federal, state and local governments in the United States amounted to 28.2 percent of gross domestic product. That rate was one of the lowest among wealthy countries — about five percentage points of G.D.P. lower than Canada’s, and more than eight points lower than New Zealand’s. And Danes, Germans and Slovaks paid more in taxes, as a share of their economies.
Politicians on the right have continuously paraded the specter of statism to rally voters’ support for tax cuts, mainly for the rich. But the meager tax take leaves the United States ill prepared to compete. From universal health insurance to decent unemployment insurance, other rich nations provide their citizens benefits that the United States government simply cannot afford.
The consequences include some 47 million Americans without health insurance and companies like General Motors being dragged to the brink by the cost of providing workers and pensioners with medical care.
[The new Senate surveillance bill] would further give some telecommunications companies immunity from about 40 pending lawsuits that charge them with violating Americans' privacy and constitutional rights by aiding a Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program instituted after September 2001. That provision is a key concession to the administration and companies, which lobbied heavily for the provision.
WASHINGTON, Oct. 17 — The head of the Federal Communications Commission has circulated an ambitious plan to relax the decades-old media ownership rules, including repealing a rule that forbids a company to own both a newspaper and a television or radio station in the same city.
Kevin J. Martin, chairman of the commission, wants to repeal the rule in the next two months — a plan that, if successful, would be a big victory for some executives of media conglomerates.
Among them are Samuel Zell, the Chicago investor who is seeking to complete a buyout of the Tribune Company, and Rupert Murdoch, who has lobbied against the rule for years so that he can continue controlling both The New York Post and a Fox television station in New York.
There is a quality about this that is almost fictional. Do these things really happen without congressional oversight? ... With large pots of money that nobody in the Congress really appropriates to a specific program? ... Do they really occur with this little control? ... Do we do things like this on a handshake basis without any bidding?
The phone company Qwest Communications refused a proposal from the National Security Agency that the company’s lawyers considered illegal in February 2001, nearly seven months before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, the former head of the company contends in newly unsealed court filings.
Senators Joe Biden and Chris Dodd voted against it. Senator Barack Obama said he would have voted against it if he had voted. Former Senator John Edwards implied he would have voted against it if he could vote.
And Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton? She voted in favor of the measure in question, which asked the Bush administration to declare Iran’s 125,000-member Revolutionary Guard Corps a foreign terrorist organization. Such a move — more hawkish than even most of the Bush administration has been willing to venture so far — would intensify America’s continuing confrontation with Iran, many foreign policy experts say.
Turkish warplanes bombed positions of suspected Kurdish rebels Wednesday, and the prime minister said preparations for parliamentary approval of a military mission against separatist fighters in Iraq were under way.
. . . .
Turkish troops blocked rebel escape routes into Iraq while F-16 and F-14 warplanes and Cobra helicopters dropped bombs on possible hideouts, Dogan news agency reported. The military had dispatched tanks to the region to support the operation against the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, in response to more than a week of deadly attacks in southeastern Turkey.
WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 — Two months after insisting that they would roll back broad eavesdropping powers won by the Bush administration, Democrats in Congress appear ready to make concessions that could extend some crucial powers given to the National Security Agency.
Administration officials say they are confident they will win approval of the broadened authority that they secured temporarily in August as Congress rushed toward recess. Some Democratic officials concede that they may not come up with enough votes to stop approval.
Mr. Nadler said that he was worried the Senate would give too much ground to the administration in its proposal, but that he was satisfied with the bill to be proposed on Tuesday in the House.
“It is not perfect, but it is a good bill,” he said. “It makes huge improvements in the current law. In some respects it is better than the old FISA law,” a reference to the foreign intelligence court.
‘This still authorizes the interception of Americans’ international communications without a warrant in far too many instances, and without adequate civil liberties protections,” said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, who was in the group that met House officials.
Caroline Frederickson, director of the Washington legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union, said she was troubled by the Democrats’ acceptance of broad, blanket warrants for the security agency rather than the individualized warrants traditionally required by the intelligence court.
“The Democratic leadership, philosophically, is with us,” Ms. Frederickson said. “But we need to help them realize the political case, which is that Democrats will not be in danger if they don’t reauthorize this Protect America Act. They’re nervous.
“There’s a ‘keep the majority’ mentality, which is understandable,” she said, “But we think they’re putting themselves in more danger by not standing on principle.”
It is with a queasy feeling of history in retreat that poetry lovers discover that WBAI, long the radio flagship of cocky resistance to government excess, decided last week that it couldn’t risk a 50th anniversary broadcast of the late poet [Alan Ginsberg]’s recording of “Howl.” The station retreated out of fear that the Federal Communications Commission would levy large obscenity fines that might bankrupt the small-budget station.
Section 1001. Statements or entries generally
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any
matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or
judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly
and willfully -
(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or
device a material fact;
(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent
statement or representation; or
(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the
same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent
statement or entry;
shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5
years, or both.
(b) Subsection (a) does not apply to a party to a judicial
proceeding, or that party's counsel, for statements,
representations, writings or documents submitted by such party or
counsel to a judge or magistrate in that proceeding.
(c) With respect to any matter within the jurisdiction of the
legislative branch, subsection (a) shall apply only to -
(1) administrative matters, including a claim for payment, a
matter related to the procurement of property or services,
personnel or employment practices, or support services, or a
document required by law, rule, or regulation to be submitted to
the Congress or any office or officer within the legislative
(2) any investigation or review, conducted pursuant to the
authority of any committee, subcommittee, commission or office of
the Congress, consistent with applicable rules of the House or
(my apologies if the formatting above doesn’t hold to form)