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Christie's E-Cig 'Sin Tax' Due to 'Public Health' Concerns?
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GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
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DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
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Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
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ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
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LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

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FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
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CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
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GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...

By David Edwards on 1/10/2006 6:43am PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards

On Saturday, January 7th, American journalist Jill Carroll was kidnapped in Iraq. At the same time, her translator was also killed. Associate Press, Reuters, AFP and UPI almost immediately reported the story. Editor & Publisher compiled one of the most complete reports within hours of the kidnapping.

According to Samir Najim, a guard at al-Dulaimi's office, three armed men in a red Opel four-sedan intercepted the journalist's car and shot the translator before taking her in their car and driving away. The kidnapping took place about 100 yards from al-Dulaimi's office.

UPI, however, adds this somewhat conflicting detail: "They said the driver of the bus in which the journalist and translator were riding managed to escape the incident when he fled and sought the help of a police patrol that happened to be in the same area at the time."

While the BBC provided some details of the kidnapping during their broadcasts, American network and cable news outlets virtually blacked out the news. Jane Hamsher finds a possible explanation from comments in a Kos thread:

The first 24-48 hours are critical, and American news organizations tend to not want publicity, at least during that period. It can make it much more dangerous for her and difficult to secure her release.

European news organizations often approach this issue differently, however, and will make an annoucement earlier, especially if they feel that the nationality of the reporter is likely to decrease the threat to his or her life. That is not the case here.

Yesterday afternoon, AP released additional details including the name of the kidnapped journalist. Jill Carroll had recently lost her job at a newspaper and decided to follow her dream of covering conflicts in the Middle East. While in Iraq, Jill Carroll had done freelance work for The Christian Science Monitor, AJR, U.S. News & World Report and other foreign outlets.

Organizations like Reporters Without Borders have become increasingly concerned with the number of journalists killed in Iraq. 76 reporters and media staff are known to have been killed since the beginning of the Iraq war. In comparison, 63 reporters were killed within the 33 year Vietnam conflict. Some reports even suggest that the U.S. Military has targeted journalist in Iraq. Secret memos leaked in the U.K. suggest that President Bush wanted to bomb the headquarters of the Al Jazeera news network. In fact, Al Jazeera pulled all journalists out of Iraq after their Baghdad studio was "accidentally" hit by U.S. missles.

This morning, 3 days after the kidnapping was originally reported, CNN finally reported details of the Jill Carroll kidnapping.


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By David Edwards on 1/9/2006 12:31pm PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards

Wolf Blitzer interviewed Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean on CNN's Late Edition yesterday.

Dean says that Alito is outside the mainstream on privacy issues. Not only does Alito believe that women do not have the right to an abortion, he also ruled in favor of strip-searching a 10 year old girl.

Dean is also troubled because Alito adjudicated a case in which he had a serious conflict of interest, ruling in favor of a company in which he owned $400K worth of related mutual funds. Alito's ruling was later vacated. Especially disturbing is the fact that Alito had promised the Senate, during a previous confirmation, that he would recuse himself from any case in which he had a financial stake. If Alito did not tell the truth to the Senate on that occasion, how can he be believed during the latest confirmation hearings?

When Blitzer asked about the current Iraq policy, Dean expressed disappointment about a meeting in which the President called members of previous administrations to The White House, supposedly for their advice on Iraq. The New York Times reported that the President did most of the talking before rushing the group out of the meeting for a photo-op. Showing, once again, that Bush has little interest in ideas from outside of his presidential bubble.

After learning of a recently-leaked secret Pentagon report which said 80% of torso-based fatalities in Iraq could have been avoided if soldiers had been equipped with proper body armor, Dean renewed a call for the removal of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. Dean said he was "disgusted" by the report.

Dean went on to say that Senator Lieberman's statement that Democrats "undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril" is "absolutely wrong". The president has shown a lack of credibility since the day he took office (and including the way that he took office). The president has abused his power. He has taken the country in the wrong direction at home and abroad. Bush's economic and foreign policies have been failures. Dean said that Bush deserved criticism and it is the job of every patriotic American to speak out.

Chairman Dean showed extreme concern over the ethically charged climate in Washington. He lamented the endless corruption scandals within the Republican party.


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By David Edwards on 1/9/2006 11:07am PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards

President Bush and Judge Alito appeared before reporters at the White House to kick off the Senate's Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

The President stumbled through a less-than-enthusiastic delivery of the standard GOP talking points in favor of Alito.


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UPDATE: Bob Fertik has some interesting thoughts on this particular piece of video :-)

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By David Edwards on 1/7/2006 10:07am PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards

DeLay's spokesman has informed the Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert that he will not seek to reclaim his old post as Majority Leader.

Due to pressure from the Abramoff scandal and other corruptions scandals, this may the beginning of a Republican shake-up in the House.

GOP leaders hope that removing DeLay from the Majority Leader post and dirty tricks will put them on track to maintain control of the House in the upcoming 2006 elections.


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By David Edwards on 1/6/2006 6:17pm PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards

As BRAD BLO reported when this story broke earlier this week, US air strikes north of Baghdad destroyed a house and killed an Iraqi family as they prepared for bed.

US military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnson said that three suspicious men were seen by an unmanned drone. US Forces used precision guided munitions to destroy a nearby building.

Descriptions of the situation by local police and witnesses do not agree with the official version offered by the US military. Reuters quoted police chief Colonel Sufyan Mustafa: "I absolutely confirm there were no terrorists in this house."

Some believe that the US intends to increase the use of air strikes in coming months. Air strikes increased during the course of 2005 from 20 per month to 120 per month. In the December 5th edition of The New Yorker, Seymour Hersh writes:

Quick, deadly strikes by US warplanes are seen as a way to improve dramatically the combat capability of even the weakest Iraqi combat units. The danger, military experts have told me, is that while the number of American casualties would decrease as ground troops are withdrawn, the over-all level of violence and the number of Iraqi casualties would increase unless there are stringent controls over who bombs what

This translated Syrian TV report is the only significant video coverage we could find detailing the deadly air strikes reported by BRAD BLOG earlier this week.


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By David Edwards on 1/6/2006 12:25pm PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards

Yesterday, TV evangelist Pat Robertson said that God may be punishing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for "dividing God's land". Sharon is in intensive care recovering from a serious stroke.

This is not the first time that Robertson has made controversial statements. Not long ago, Robertson was in the news for suggesting that the US should assassinate Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

In November, Robertson said that Dover Pennsylvania should not expect help from God when disaster strikes their city. The voters of Dover had rejected teaching "intelligent design" in public schools.

Robertson has also angered Muslims by calling Islam "a scam".


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By David Edwards on 1/5/2006 8:24am PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards

The L.A. Times is reporting that Jon Stewart will be named as host of the 78th annual Academy Awards.

Stewart is expected to take a week off from hosting The Daily Show to prepare for the Oscars.


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By David Edwards on 1/4/2006 1:30pm PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards

In an interview earlier this week on ABC Nightline, John Murtha explained how he came to believe that American forces should be redeployed from Iraq as soon as possible. The congressman made a trip to Iraq where he saw the futility of military operations. Every supply convoy was attacked. The commanders that Murtha met with expressed extreme discouragement at the progress being made in Iraq.

John Murtha believes in the necessity of having and, when necessary, using a strong military. After experiencing the situation in Iraq first hand, Murtha strongly believed that the Iraq war had caused long-term damaged to the Army. He now admits that he made a mistake by voting to grant war powers to the president.

ABC correspondent John Donvan was surprised to hear Murtha say that he wouldn't join today's Military. Murtha left college to fight for his country in the Korean War and went on to fight in the Vietnam war. He knows what he's talking about when he says that he understands why young men and women wouldn't want to join the military today. This is just one way that the Iraq war and the current administration are diluting the integrity of America's national defenses.

One of Donovan's questions prompted an emotional response from Representative Murtha. His voice trembled and he held back tears as he answered.

Donovan: Do you think that in the end that the enthusiasm for going to war that the president had would have been different if, like you, he had actually ever seen combat? Or if Dick Cheney, like you, had ever seen combat? Or Rumsfeld or Wolfowitz or Fieth? Men who wanted to go to war [with Iraq] and had never seen combat. Do you think it would have made a difference if they had had that experience?

Murtha: Let me tell you. War is a nasty business. It's seriously so and it made a difference. The shadow of those killings stay with you for the rest of your life.


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By David Edwards on 1/3/2006 8:28am PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards

This morning, lawyers for super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff revealed a plea deal where Abramoff will plea guilty to fraud charges in a Florida fraud investigation. In return for the deal, Abramoff agreed to cooperate with any other federal investigations. AP has filed this report.

Republicans are worried about information that may implicate as many as a dozen in Congress including Tom DeLay and Bob Ney. Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) is up for re-election and has returned more than $100,000 in campaign donations. Polls in Montana show that Senator Burns' constituents are becoming concerned about his dealings with Abramoff.

ThinkProgress and RAW STORY are reporting that a news conference will be held at 12:30 et today. Some DU members suspect that the Abramoff scandal is masking foreign influence peddling by the GOP.


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UPDATE: David Corn asks "What's Good for Abramoff Is Good For America?" And in a just-published piece, Mad Cow Morning News follows David Corn's reasoning to a grave possibility:

But Federal prosecutors aren't just doling out justice. They appear to be putting a cover-up in place.

“Casino Jack” Abramoff and minion Adam Kidan just may be about to get away with murder.

At the press conference, the prosecutor read out the charges against Abramoff and then in a forceful but rehearsed voice said that "government officials and government action are not for sale. The Justice Department will aggressively investigate and prosecute these types of cases which have a devastating impact on the public's trust of government. We will not shy away from that responsibility no matter where the trail leads."

The prosecution of public officials by the DOJ has increased 90% in 3 years. When asked, the prosecutor chose not to give an explanation for the increase.

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By David Edwards on 1/2/2006 12:24pm PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards

Osama bin Laden's niece attempts to rehabilitate her image by posing for the January edition of G.Q. magazine.

For your protection, a warrant was not obtained before (or after) violating her privacy.


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Assistant A.G. Refused to Renew NSA Program in 2004
By David Edwards on 1/1/2006 5:30pm PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards

The New York Times reports that in 2004 Deputy Attorney General James Comey refused to sign off on renewal of Bush's warrantless NSA spying program. Instead of addressing Comey's concerns, Bush Administration officials took the desperate move of actually visiting Attorney General Ashcroft in the hospital to get his authorization for renewal of the program. Ashcroft was, at the time, in intensive care recovering from pancreatitis.

Comey refused to approve renewal of the program based on concerns over "whether the president had the legal and constitutional authority to conduct such an operation."

In light of these new revelations, Senator Charles Schumer, appearing on Fox News Sunday, demanded that Bush Administration officials testify before congress.

Mitch McConnel, who appeared along with Schumer, chastised The Times for continuing to report on details of the wiretap program. While Schumer said that any investigation should consider a possible whistle-blower status for anyone who leaked this information, Senator McConnel was more interested in punishing the whistleblower.

Because the NSA shared the wiretap information with many federal agencies, it will be very difficult to assign blame to a specific leaker.


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By David Edwards on 12/31/2005 7:19pm PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards

On MSNBC's Countdown, Keith Olbermann presented a very funny segment called "D.C. Follies".


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By David Edwards on 12/28/2005 2:39pm PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards

As previously reported by BRAD BLOG, the violence quickly resumed after the Iraqi election. After preliminary results indicated that Shia-based religious parties will dominate the Iraqi parliament, Sunni's and other secular parties began massive protests demanding a re-vote.

Earlier today, the U.N. declared that the Iraqi election was "transparent and credible" and saw no reason for another vote. This has not cooled the protests and the Sunnis aren't dropping their demands.

In this video, CBS News reports that political pressures are fueling the violence in Iraq.


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By David Edwards on 12/28/2005 8:29am PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards

James Carville appeared on NBC's Today Show to give his political predictions for 2006.

  • The Senate will make history by doubling the number of African-American senators. Senator Frist has said that he will not run for a third term. Carville predicts that Representative Harold Ford Jr. (D-TN) will win Frist's vacated Senate seat.

  • Alito will be confirmed after a big fight in the Senate. Democrats may filibuster but Republicans will refrain from using the 'nuclear option' because it is opposed by most voters. Carville expects a large fight about Alito's position on civil rights. In the end, the Democrats don't have the numbers to block Alito's confirmation.
  • There will be major troop reductions in Iraq. While Bush claims that he will 'stay the course', the political pressure of an election year along with the Shia domination of the Iraqi government will force significant troop reductions.
  • The Abramoff scandal will result in 7 congressmen pleading guilty or being indicted. Sources say that Abramoff has agreed to cooperate with Federal prosecutors. Carville says it will be a good year for Court TV.
  • Carville predicts that the remake of "All the King's Men" will be the hottest political film of 2006... but he's also the executive producer so this is more of a plug than a prediction.

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By David Edwards on 12/15/2005 9:49am PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards

Since 9/11, the Department of Defense has been authorized to expand the collection of information inside US borders.

NBC News is reporting that the Pentagon is watching "peaceful anti-war and counter-military recruitment groups." One example includes extensive information that was collected on a group who were meeting to discuss how to protest military recruiting at a local highschool.

A recent article in the The Palm Beach Post described the group. It consisted of about 20 people, including five Quakers and a 79-year old grandmother. This was only one of 1,500 "suspicious" incidents in the database.

The Christian Science Monitor also has a good article on the Bush Administration's current domestic spying and psychological operations activities.

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