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    04 January 2006

    Troubles in Palestine and Corruption Everywhere

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    - Members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade overran border checkpoints between Gaza and Egypt today. Hours later they stole construction equipment and used it to knock down the wall separating Egypt from Palestine, a large number of militants poured into the Sinai. The actors demanded a release of prisoners and more jobs from the government. They met little resistance but thousands of Egyptian troops have been mobilized and are headed toward the region. This is in addition to other events in Gaza recently in anticipation of the vote to take place later in the year (it may be delayed at the request of Israel through the US Congress). Hamas is expected to do well if given the chance, while Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Party struggles to impose authority in Gaza (the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade is affiliated with Fatah) and gain support in Palestine (which means there will be no democracy until a party that meets the Israeli and American standard).

    Meanwhile, Ariel Sharon was rushed to the hospital again after suffering what appears to be a second stroke in the last month. This all is topped of by a report that Sharon and his party have been acting like their Washington cousins and engaging in a little bit of illegal activity. But... I still hope he recovers and then takes better care of himself. And follow the damn rules!

    [UPDATE] He has been replaced and is on a respirator. His fill in is Deputy PM Ehud Olmert. Sharon stroke was much more serious than first reported, he is undergoing surgery for cerebral hemorrhage.

    And finally, perhaps the stupidest idea yet from the American Taliban (aka the Evangelical Christian right and their leader Pat Robertson), an amusement park is in the works that may be built near the Sea of Galilee. Where some guy named Jesus walked on water and fed some people. Not only does the idea of a Christian amusement park sound like a boring trip; could you imagine the security; or the value as a target for Middle East terrorists groups of any and every stripe? Let's hope Pat and his followers spend all their time and money there.

    - The Wall Street Journal has raised the bar from 12 to 60 lawmakers that may be targeted by the US government in a large and supposedly bipartisan scandal. But on the bipartisan-ness of this event, where are the Dems? Aravosis has found no proof of any Dem getting funds from Abramoff directly. Hotline agrees and they are less partisan than Aravosis. To be honest I'd be shocked if this came to an end without snagging a few Dems, but majority Repub for sure.

    Hotline is also tracking those who have returned their dirty money received from Abramoff.

    Bush/Cheney '04 has retuned the Abramoff donation to charity. Which is how Abramoff moved his money around, via bogus charities.

    So has House Speaker Dennis Hastert

    - Despite contrary reports, the Wall Street Journal has some poor numbers for Alito.
    Almost equal thirds of all adults believe that Judge Alito should be confirmed (34%), should not be confirmed (31%) or say they aren't sure (34%), according to the poll. A majority of Republicans (65% vs. 9%) favor his confirmation, the polls shows, while a plurality of Democrats (48% vs. 14%) oppose it, and Independents are split (34% for confirmation; 38% against).

    However, nearly 70% of those surveyed in the online poll of 1,961 adults would oppose Judge Alito's confirmation if they thought he would vote to make abortion illegal. That percentage rises among Democrats (86%) and Independents (74%), compared with 22% of Republicans. More than half of Republicans polled say they would support his confirmation if they thought he would vote to make abortion illegal, compared with 14% of Democrats.

    - Bush still thinks this is a tyranny and he can do whatever he wants
    When President Bush last week signed the bill outlawing the torture of detainees, he quietly reserved the right to bypass the law under his powers as commander in chief.

    After approving the bill last Friday, Bush issued a ''signing statement" -- an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law -- declaring that he will view the interrogation limits in the context of his broader powers to protect national security. This means Bush believes he can waive the restrictions, the White House and legal specialists said.

    ''The executive branch shall construe [the law] in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President . . . as Commander in Chief," Bush wrote, adding that this approach ''will assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the President . . . of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks."

    Some legal specialists said yesterday that the president's signing statement, which was posted on the White House website but had gone unnoticed over the New Year's weekend, raises serious questions about whether he intends to follow the law.

    Why doesn't he just dissolve the congress if he's going to go over their heads anyway? Heck that would make Washington less corrupt, for a little while at least.

    Posted by Geoff

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