Friday, December 23, 2005
It. PM Berlusconi’s new budget would scrap tax benefits for coops (he owns a supermarket chain), and wants to reduce state pensions (he runs pension funds).
Iranian Parl passes bill allowing cops to shoot demonstrators
Yeltsin has to fire deputy defense minister accused of selling off millions in gov prop. The Defense Minister should have gone too. They may well be responsible for the bombing of an investigative reporter
Sup Court rules 9-0 that conspiring to commit a narcotics crime is illegal even if nothing is actually done. This is from 1988 law, but Sandra Day O’Connor goes back to 1705 case that “the very assembling together was an overt act.”
Safire says 2/5 of the vaunted drop in budget deficit is from sale of S&L assets
A book by 2 Wall St. J. reporters says there were other witnesses to Clarence Thomas’s interest in porno & treatment of women, but Biden gave in to R’s & failed to call them. R’s = John Danforth, who today on Nightline said that wasn’t the right forum for this either. But Biden failed to stop character assassination of Anita Hill. The book also talks of a White House dirty-tricks team
NEA eliminates grants that allow local nonprofit groups to give money to artists, ya how, the controversial ones. Indiv artists now mostly screwed
Mexico joins fight against Prop 187, inc ad campaign & would pay to fight it in courts
Clinton is not allowed to stump below Mason-Dixon, where he is hated
Florida jury recommends death penalty for the minister who shot dead an abortion dr. & an escort
Ecuador’s Energy Ministry gets its electricity cut off for nto paying its bills
UN Gen Ass urges Sec Council to lift arms embargo on Bosnia, 97-0-61
US troops still holding Haitians, which violates Haitians const. The justification is UN resolution which talks of “all necessary means,” as if this means anything. US troops not to recognize Haitian const as “controlling” troop behaviour
News that Feinstein also hired an illegal alien, but before it was illegal, which I saw in a Huffington ad before it was possible to read it in any newspaper. Huffington claims w/out any evidence that DiFi knew she was illegal. A.P. has demanded Huffington pull the ad that “quotes” them.
John Major gives up on plan to privatize PO, afraid of rural Tories not voting for it
Paris-Match breaks the news reporters have known at least a decade that Mitterrand has an illegitimate daughter. The press turns on P-M, though she’s been traveling publicly w/him lately
The spying budget is accidentally published. $28b, $3.1b for CIA, $13.2b for Pentagon (NSA, DIA, NRO), service tactical intelligence $10.4b
UN votes to give up on Somalia & pull out March 31
Argentine Pres. Menem thanks military for the Dirty War
If not for interest on debt added under RR & Bush, Clinton’s budget would be in surplus
Palau, the last UN Trust (ours) to become ind.
Huffington has spoken 8 full minutes on floor of House over 2 yrs
Canada to tighten its generous immigration, to emphasize skills & money. Lib gov in last election promised to set it at 1% of pop
Pakistanis spend 1.9 yrs at schools, India 2.4, Ch. 5
Reagan admits Alzheimers
Gers don’t like Scientology & members banned from Hamburg SPD, national CDU & Free Dems. Scientology has been running ads about resurgent fascism in Ger
Gingrich cites the SC woman who killed her 2 v. young children in a recent cause celebre as sign of sickness in society & need for R’s
Clinton to w/draw 6,000 troops from Haiti by 1 Dec., leaving 9,000 and almost all 7,800 from Kuwait by 1995
S Korea lifts bans on business w/N Korea
Yugoslavia War Crimes Tribunal makes 1st indictment. 1st since WW2, too. A Serb concentration camp commandant (not, of course, in UN hands)
Director of Defense Intelligence Agency is in China, US won’t say why
Trend: children under arms. Renamo in Mozambique makes habit of kidnapping them (& gov to a much lesser extent), ditto Liberia, Sudan, Angola, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Middle East. They kill easily.
Bosnian military has been in new offensive last week or so, doing quite well, Serbs bombarding Sarajevo again – UN says it won’t retaliate
UN sets up war crimes tribunal for Rwanda, w/most details missing, and Rwandan gov opposing because it lacks death penalty & only covers 1994
A Canadian abortion dr shot, wounded badly
Slovakia was under a caretaker gov. It resigned last mo after v. inconclusive elections. Vladimir Meciar, twice PM & frightening communist who hates Czechs & the Hungarian minority in a late-night session right after the gov resigned, railroaded measures cancelling privatizations, removing head of Nat Prop Fund (when he ran it, he sold off major industries to friends for peanuts), took over Slovak Info Service, split control of state radio/tv between his party & the far right, shutting down a news show
House Speaker Foley defeated, the 1st such since 1860
-As I was afraid in 1988 when CA est an elected insurance commissioner, insurance comps bought the position, $2m, 80% of Quackenbush’s campaign funds, running solely on crime & immigration
Polls say people aren’t really voting for R positions
-Anti-gay measures failed in Idaho (barely), Oregon.
-And abortion less of an issue. Pataki (governor NY) pretended to be pro-choice but his voting record in Legislature is otherwise. Ditto Mitt Romney, running against Ted Kennedy – a Mormon bishop who tried to stop a woman whose life was at risk having an abortion. Even Jeb Bush said it wasn’t going to change.
-R’s picked up most Perot voters, suburbs, men – there wa sa large gender gap. And men more committed to R’s than ♀ to D’s
-Money won exc for Ollie North, who spent $16m from outside the state but lost 46-43 to Chuck Robb, and Huffington, who spent a record $28m (of his own money mostly) to Feinstein’s $14m & lost by 3 or 4 votes
-Term limits won in 7 states (total 22) – Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, ME, Mass, Neb, Nev. Has never lost
-Jeb Bush lost Fla. gov to Lawton Chiles 51-49, George W Bush beat the still-popular Ann Richardson 53-46
-Ted Kennedy easily won, despite scare in press, & his son elected from RI
-More of the R’s are idealogues of the “term limits for career politicians & the death penalty for career criminals” (Bill Frist – Tenn.) variety. And the Christian right has money, which may mean anyone trying to get Repub 1996 nomination will have to put himself outside the mainstream
-Cuomo defeated by Pataki, so NY will have a death penalty instantly. And he’ll try to send that guy back to Oklahoma to be executed.
-Utah proposition allows crime victims a role in prosecution
-Wyoming defeated abortion restrictions
-All 157 Repub reps, all R senators & governors, were re-elected. No R. congressman has ever been in the majority. Only 4 seats switched to Dems
-R’s took 16 seats in the Confederacy, up to 62 v. 63 D’s, 14 of 22 Senators, inc Richard Shelby (Ala.) who switched parties yesterday, 6 of 11 governors
-Where D’s 1990 had 63 seats in 13 S. states to R’s 46, now 73-64 R. Both Senate seats in Al Gore’s Tenn. R’s (both elected now). But all 17 S. blacks won eaasily – note: 26% of S. delegation
-Sonny Bono in Congress
-In CA, Wilson easily beat Kathleen Brown, lt gov as usual of the other party. Wilson got 50% ♀, 60% men.
-Dan Lungren re-elected (shudder). Anti-immigrant 187 gets 59%, blocked by courts – would keep immigrants out of schools, hospitals... Assembly is tied 40-40 (R’s got 7 new seats). 3 Strikes 72%, single-payer health 27%, Philip Morris’s “anti-smoking” prop. 30%.
Br High Court says Foreign Min Douglas Hurd broke Br law in funding Malaysian Pergal Dam – linked to arms sales – because it did not help econ devt
L.A. City Council votes not to enforce Prop 187
Ore. voted 52% to allow drs. to prescribe lethal doses of drugs if 2 drs say patient has 6 mos to live, asks 3X, 3rd in writing
Clinton orders military not to enforce arms embargo on Bosnia or share intelligence (on Congress deadline)
Iraq recognizes Kuwait, in its borders
A postal worker killed N Ireland, presumably by IRA. Eire halts plan to release IRA prisoners, inc the killer of Lord Mountbatten
Clinton Admin reverses brief it filed w/Sup Court that a child porn law applies only to depictions of nude children
Tom Carson notes that there is a class struggle in R. party between Christian right & country-club R’s
Japan to sell “research” whales’ meat
R’s took at least 15 chambers of 99 state leg. from D’s, even split in 3. D’s took 0 from R’s. D’s used to have 64-31-3 tied (Neb’s 1 is nonpartsian). D’s now 49-46-3. There are 3,391 R. state legislators to 3,847 D’s
Turnout was 38.7% (36.5% 1990)
Pataki in NY already saying the budget gap so high, he now finds, as to endanger his promise of 25% tax cut
Newt Gingrich, while talking about bipartisanship & being the Speaker of the whole House, calls Clinton a counter-culture, Great Society McGovernick... and refused to take his phone call Wed. Writes outgoing Speaker Foley an insulting letter about not destroying documents. Says he is prepared to cooperate but not compromise. His favorite word this week is “counter-culture”, which he is against
3rd Fr minister since July resigns in disgrace (the cooperation min. took money from a regional housing authority)
For 1st time, R’s had candidates in every Cong. district. D’s missed 36
Justice Souter allows a mother to sterilize her 26-yr old retarded daughter
In South, blacks & R’s did well. The new black districts caused both
Gingrich on welfare: wants to allow states to drop people cold after 2 yrs, abolish aid to children of mothers under 21, & build orphanages instead, end aid to legal aliens, stop in being entitlements – 1st come, 1st served
Jesse Helms as chair of Sen. Foreign Relations Cmte should mean deteriorating relations w/Russia. Wants to cut foreign aid, will no doubt hold up ambassadorships, wants to get Baltics & Poland into Nato
Under 1990 treaty on conventional forces in Eur, heavy weapons are being w/drawn... and given away. 1992-3 Greece got 1,163 tanks, 23 combat planes & Turkey 1,509 tanks, 54 fighters & 28 attack copters. This while Greece is blockading Macedonia, Turkey massacring Kurds, both muzzling dissent. And breaking embargos on Serbia & Iraq respectively
US offers to forgive Ch’s violation of missile accord, waive sanctions if they admit violation
Cath church revoked US & Canada’s right to use translations of a Bible w/sex-neutral terms (God still Him). And pope ordered no more discussion on status of ♀
Irish PM Albert Reynolds using NI peace as cover to push stuff past coalition partners. Labor objecting to his picking as Pres of High Court the atty gen who took 7 mos to respond to extradition request to NI of a Cath priest accused of child molesting & forbade a 14-yr old to go to Br for abortion after being raped
Sw, in 82% turnout, votes 52.2% to join EU
Clinton at Asia-Pacific caucus in Indonesia embarrassed by E Timor students sit-in at US embassy & arrest of 2 Amer. reporters trying to go to E Timor. Spokesman for Indonesian Dept Info says unrest from unemployment, not independence, and they should stop trying to educate these people, since there are no jobs. Indonesian cops swept Jakarta of beggars
UN admits it never bothered defining the border of the Bihac “safe area” in Bosnia
Ch. to ban sex-screening of fetuses. And forbid people w/genetic diseases marrying
UN keeps sanctions on Iraq. US bitching about new palaces for Hussein’s family
Russell Baker’s wife says election the inevitable result of channel-surfing
Gingrich wants to cut Cong. cmte staffs by 1/3 – exc his own
Florida Dept of Citrus tried to advertise orange juice during the OJ Simpson trial
Marion Barry after election to white voters: get over it. The new city motto, replacing “The bitch set me up.”
CA spends more per convict on prison library materials than pe student on school libraries
Br’s 3rd largest defense contractor went bust some time ago. Ferranti had bought Internat Signal & Control (ISC), a US comp whose head was given 15 yrs here 1992 for a £215m fraud. But actually its 3 biggest contracts (ISC’s) were the frauds: 1 to Pakistan, which died w/Zia, 1 to the UAE for 1,500 new precision-guided missiles (smart bombs), which would give UAE more than NATO – obviously intended for Iraq. Capable of carrying nukes or chemicals. And a contract for same to China – presumably for use on the Silkworm missiles it was selling to Iran. All 3 contracts were illegal, but the Br & Amer. govs must have known about them. ISC also illegally armed SA. When Ferranti blew the whistle, Br gov waited & waited, while records removed from London to US. No one ever prosecuted in Br. 15,000 jobs lost, but no pub inquiry. Potentially another Matrix Churchill, since gov gave export licenses
NATO retains blockade of Bosnia, and US lack of enforcement will mean nothing, esp as US still supplying personnel & equipment. Of 18 NATO ships in Adriatic, 1 is American. Only 3 ships have ever been kept out – Bosnia is supplied by air
Clinton says he’d consider working w/Gingrich to pass const amend for school prayer, which Gingrich promoting since the election
Clinton Admin new guidelines on arms sales, to consider US jobs as well as foreign policy goals. Foreign sales now 20% of business
Israel to turn tourism & soc services to Palestine
-And allow Shin Bet more... freedom... in interrogations
Henry Hyde, Mr. Anti-Abortion, will chair Judiciary Cmte. Other ranking R’s are being bypassed so Gingrich can put his stamp on Cong. Energy & Commerce to be held by VA’s Thomas Bliley who promises to protect tobacco from regulation. Appropriations Cmte would go to Joseph McDade, but is temp held by someone else, since he is under indictment for bribery. Rules Cmte’s Gerald Solomon wants rules to limit chairmen to 6 yrs, ban proxy voting, require 3/5 vote to raise taxes. Gingrich wants to abolish... the Ethics Cmte, and would abolish Cmte on Small Business, but it will be the only one chaired by a woman (the D’s had none)
Clinton gets 8 nations of APEC (Asian Pacific Econ Cooperation) to agree to free trade by maybe 2020 (while committing no one to do anything now).
-Clinton: “The people of East Timor should have more say over their own affairs.” No, asshole, they should have complete control – US & UN don’t recognize the occupation. He & Christopher failed to meet the students sitting-in at embassy but Christopher will meet the *official* human rights organiz. And Ron Brown announced $40b in joint projects. Evidently, like Ch, trade is better. Hell, we should *only* trade w/human rights abusers.
-Also conciliating Burma, though its elected head is still under house arrest 5 yrs on & it supplies much of heroin to US (and Indonesia only has oil)
-All the business contacts & trade agreements to create American jobs, while the Fed raises interest rates because unemployment was “too low”
Aristide resigns priesthood
Ukraine Parl votes to become nuclear-free
Letters in Russian press complaining about lines & rudeness – trying to get visas at US embassy
SA’s new Const Court inc Judge Goldstone, a black whose family was removed from its home under apartheid & was arrested under pass laws; ANC’s Albie Sacks, whose right arm blown off in a gov assassination attempt
Irish PM Reynolds resigns & will resign his party leadership. But no new elections, so the same coalition may reemerge. The High Court guy resigns
Haiti’s acting head of army fired for corruption after 1 mo
Palestinian police fire on demonstrators, killing at least 12, probably scores
Jesse Helms says Clinton not up to job of Commander in Chief. And disses Middle East peace process. And letter to Clinton that if he postpones vote on GATT from next month, he would see that foreign policy initiatives got fair & full consideration; presumably he won’t treat them fairly if he doesn’t get his way
Since 1970, 48 people have been released from death row because of evidence of innocence. Florida spent $60m over last 15 yrs to execute 18, Texas spends $2m each
2 Serb jets attacked Bihac, dropped cluster bombs & napalm (none of which went off). Though it’s a safe area, UN says it can’t do anything because jets originated in Serb Croatia (also under UN protection since 1992)
UN Sec Council votes to allow air strikes into Croatia (though there is conflict as to whether retaliation is allowed, since the jets are in the air a v. short time – Fr says it doesn’t, US that it does). Today a fighter crashes into an apt building in Bihac
Indonesia again bars all foreign reporters from Timor, so they can crush the demos that started during the APEC conf
Arafat gov blaming foreigners & collaborators for the shootings, saying instigators shot at both sides. This is not of course true; all the bullets same Soviet model automatic rifles (Palestinian police lack training, tear gas or rubber bullets)
USSR & Russia still pump billions of gallons of nuclear waste into the ground, ½ of all waste, in 3 sites all near major rivers. 1 has leaked
Angola gov & UNITA sign treaty, but Savimbi missing, claims the gov would try to kill him if he showed up. Unita gets to appoint some officials, inc 3 of 18 governors
Dole says he would be more inclined to vote for GATT if Clinton supported cut in capital gains tax
Responding to Haitian mvmt to abolish the military, US Embassy spokesman says military is an essential part of the “iconography” of nationhood
Bishop says Indonesia has arrested & beaten 135 Timorese protesters
It. local elections, Forza Italia drops below 10% (30% in generals), under the neo-fascists
Arafat has rally, w/some firing auto rifles into air. Arafat calls this a referendum in favor of his admin
39 NATO planes attack the Serb air base in Croatia, attacking runway & anti-aircraft defenses, while leaving planes & the tower intact. The largest Eur air raid since WW2, hah! Not using air strikes to stop ground & artillery attacks on Bihac, where UN Bangladeshi troops have no food or... guns?
D.C. US Court of Appeals says Endangered Species Act does not protect habitants, just can’t shoot a protected animal. US appeals to Sup Court
Repub. welfare bill would eliminate entitlement, require state welfare officials to give feds info on illegal immigrants, deny legal & illegals most benefits, turn everything into block grants to the states (which would decide whether to cut benefits or people when run out of money). No payments for children whose paternity not established or to illegitimates born to women under 18
School prayer is evidently the reality in many places, inc lunch-time groups, pre-football games, & moments of silence (mandated Ark, Ala, GA, SC, Tenn)
Ukraine toilet paper plant is recycling the currency...
Fed judge says Haitian children held at Guantanamo should be allowed into US as Clinton decided Cubans held there should be
Clinton backs off school prayer amend
Kenyan president says all Ugandans in his country are criminal & should be kicked out
NJ plans to cut Medicaid payments to hospitals 20%
As Italian PM Berlusconi hosts internat conf on combating organized crime, magistrates tell him he is being investigated for bribes his comp paid tax inspectors
Properly chastened by yesterday’s bombing, Serbs advance on Bihac w/tanks & a helicopter & fire a missile(s) at Br jets
Jesse Helms says Clinton so unpopular among military that he’d “better watch out if he comes down here. He’d better have a bodyguard.” Today is 31st anniversary of JFK assassination.
Some universities (Cal Poly San Luis O., Sonoma State & Humboldt State) to require freshmen have PCs
New Australian law mandates automatic deporation for anyone previously turned down for asylum in another country. Using the law to deport Indonesians
John Major, majority down to 14, making increased contribs to EU a matter of confidence. Next week vote
Dole & Clinton come to deal on GATT whereby a commission of appellate judges would decide whether World Trade Organiz rulings fair & if there are 3 unreasonable rulings, Congress can pull out
US buys ½ Kazakhstan’s weapons-grade uranium, w/Russian permission
NATO bombs Serb missile sites after yesterday’s shots at Br planes. Troops inside safe area Bihac. Serbs blockading UN weapons collection sites around Sarajevo, threaten all-out war in phone conversation w/Gen. Sir Michael Rose if UN blocks takeover of Bihac
Yeltsin says he wouldn’t give a single centimeter of sacred Russian land to Estonia, meaning the 750 sq mi. stolen by Stalin in violation of a 1920 treaty
Study says medical examiners refusal to release donors’ organs for no good reason stop 1,000 transplants/yr
Newt Gingrich, Mr. Family Values, was conceived during a 3-day marriage by a 16-yr old. He used student & marriage deferments to stay out of VN, which he opposed. Evidently he used to be a liberal until he lost 2 elections 1974 & 1976. NYT suggests his principles determined by polls. Like his religion (S Baptist, now). 1978 got into Congress running on family values against a woman who intended to commute to DC & use a nanny. He accused her of breaking up her family. Soon after, he separated. He had married at 19 his 27-yr old high school geometry teacher, his family boycotting the wedding. A day after her uterine cancer surgery, he showed up at the hospital to talk divorce – she threw him out. A former aide says he said she wasn’t young enough or pretty enough to be First Lady, and besides she has cancer. She has been in court several times to get alimony owed her, inc last yr. His daughter supports abortion rights publicly & his half-sister is gay (he compares homosexuality to alcoholism).
In the 1994 Congressional races, 51% voted Republican
Namibian gov takes over ½ of DeBeers there. Sales still through COS.
Brandenburg, whose birth rate has dropped over 2/3 since unification, state will pay $650 per new kid
While Congress added disabled workers to purvue of EEOC, the time for cases to be dealt with up to 19 mos
Ch. orders Hong Kong to repatriate all VN refugees, as it pretty much is
R’s talking about denying funds for Clinton’s deal to stop N Korea nukes
Pretoria-Wits.-Vereeningin province wrote off rent & utility strike money from last 10 yrs exc from Jan94
9 Canadian peacekeepers from Somalia charged, 2 convicted for torturing a 16-yr old Somali looter to death
Defense Sec Perry says Bosnians can’t reverse Serb occupation even w/NATO planes. Seems to give options of giving up or sending 100s of 1,000s of troops. Anthony Lewis says shows that NATO has no credibility, Safire that UN is worthless. Sir Michael Rose, UN commander, vetoing NATO doing anything – this veto was what Fr & Br wanted. Serbia may have sent a SAM-2 surface-to-air system to Croatian Serbs. Much of the attack on Bihac is from Croatian Serbs who UN was supposed to have disarmed since 1991. W/Serbs holding 300 UN peacekeepers hostage, Rose brilliantly sent convoys through Serb-held territory, to “restore normality” – 165 more were seized
Br gov won vote on increased contrib to EU. 8 Tory MPs suspended for abstaining (majority still 27 in this vote, but theoretically gov just suspended its majority)
Norway rejects EU membership, esp the N, fishing areas
A key way for illegal aliens into US are day cruises from Bahamas. INS report said over a yr ago that foreign gangs use it, but no change was made in practice
Perry was just the 1st. Clinton Admin drops all talk of air strikes or pressure on Serbs. Leon Panetta says the parties must simply stop fighting. The talk is of a “civil war”. NATO refuses to give air support to UN forces in Bihac unless it can attack missile battery threatening their planes, but UN will not give it.
-UN says will end peacekeeping in 2 weeks if no cease-fire.
-Serbs made 3 UN troops lie on a runway 8 yrs last week to stop threatened NATO raid. Gen. Mladic wants NATO flight plans, threatening the UN hostages, now 500
-US willing to allow confed of Bosnian Serbs & Serbia, says today.
-Croatia threatens to enter the war if Bihac falls (it is more of a threat to them)
House passes GATT 288-146, both parties split
Sup Court 7-2 saves a badly written Fed child porno law, by rewriting it, inserting the Congress’s alleged intention to inc a requirement of knowledge performers under-age. To assume otherwise would mean the law was unconst, so they *must* have meant this, says Rehnquist. Voting no were Scalia & Thomas, who also thinks you don’t need to prove knowledge
Russian fighters are bombing capital of secessionist Chechnya republic. Russia is pretending it has nothing to do w/that, or the troops.