The Oregon House voted today to approve a domestic partnership bill which offers same-sex couples a broad range of new rights, as well as legislation that bans discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people in employment, housing and access to public accommodations. Towleroad notes one ironic moment: “House pages tried to block Aimee Wilson, the partner of Rep. Tina Kotek (D-Portland), from being on the floor during the debate because she wasn’t a family member. Wilson eventually made it on the floor.”
“Police in Ramadi uncovered 17 decomposing corpses buried beneath two schoolyards in a district that until recently was under the control of al-Qaida fighters. At least 85 people were killed or found dead across the country Tuesday. The adult bodies were discovered in the Anbar provincial capital after students and teachers returned to the schools a week ago and noticed an increasingly putrid odor and stray dogs digging in the area.”
John Bresnahan reports:
The Senate, thanks a resolution it just adopted, has confirmed that Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) is the subject of “preliminary inquiry” over his involvement in the firing of former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias.
The Senate just adopted a resolution (S. Res. 153) stating that “for matters before the Select Committee on Ethics involving the preliminary inquiry arising in connection with alleged communications by persons within the committee’s jurisdiction with and concerning David C. Iglesias, then United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, and the subsequent action by the committee with respect to that matter, if any, the Senator from Colorado (Mr. Salazar) shall be replaced by the Senator from Ohio (Mr. Brown).”
The passage of the resolution confirms that Domenici is being scrutinized by the Ethics Committee over a phone call he made to Iglesias, prior to the November election, inquiring whether Iglesias was going to indict some New Mexico Democrats. Up until this point, the Ethics Committee has refused to state whether it is actually investigating Domenici.
“Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson said today that fatigue and a persistent cold were to blame for his comment yesterday to a group of Reform Jews that earning money is ‘part of the Jewish tradition.’ ‘I was tired, I made a mistake and I apologized,’ Thompson told a group of Politico reporters and editors in an interview. ‘Have you ever made a mistake?,’ a testy Thompson demanded of this reporter.”
In a letter to the RNC, Emmet Flood, a special counsel to President Bush, “today again raised the possibility of an executive-privilege claim on e-mails and other documents from private e-mail accounts used by senior White House officials” but controlled by the RNC. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) called the request “extreme and unnecessary” and said it was “a clear attempt, on the Administration’s part, to delay this process and keep the wheels of Justice turning slowly.”
The views articulated in this post do not reflect the opinions of the National Academy of Public Administration, Tatweer, or any other organizations mentioned in the article.
Center for American Progress senior fellow and former Reagan Pentagon official Lawrence Korb recently returned from a 10-day visit to Baghdad to “assist the government of Iraq’s efforts to strengthen public administration in its civilian ministries” and uncovered results that only affirm that “the surge is not working.”
Korb noted that U.S. defense contractors, who have benefited heavily from the Iraq war, were curiously restrained in talking about the situation on the ground on the record. Major defense contractors, including those from Blackwater and Halliburton, were mum about the troop escalation only until Korb emphasized that he was not affiliated with the media:
The long wait did allow me to speak to some of the contractors about the situation on the ground. When I assured them I was not a member of the press, they were unanimous that the surge was not working. One of them said that members of Muqtada Al-Sadr’s militia have sold their guns and melted back into the population in Sadr City and will buy back their guns at the appropriate time (our own security guard said something similar).
Korb noted several other problems facing the country, much of which has yet to even be noted by the mainstream media:
In their video conferences, Maliki and Bush do not really communicate. The official also noted that in his discussions with visiting members of Congress there is really not much dialogue, with both sides giving canned presentations.
The other thing that struck me was the lack of American soldiers patrolling the neighborhoods. In fact, in my whole time here I did not see one American soldier outside the Green Zone.
Most people speaking off the record believe that the insurgents will shift to other areas and lay low for a while in Baghdad.
But if one uses the reports of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction and pushes the briefers, a different picture emerges. The place is a mess and despite the almost heroic efforts of some Americans and some Iraqis it is not getting better. One of the consultants told me not to believe anyone who says that the situation is getting better.
The real issue is if the latest surge will work. The most optimistic projection was “maybe temporarily.”
Korb’s multiple meetings with top Iraqi officials and his firsthand experience in Iraq last week provide further evidence that the rosy claims about progress in Iraq are simply a desperate attempt to spin an increasingly unpopular war.
UPDATE: Kevin Drum notes some additional details from Korb’s trip.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Byrd (D-WV) announced new rules today requiring that “all earmarks — the footnotes in bills that lawmakers use to deliver federal bacon to their states — be clearly identified in documents accompanying appropriations bills. The requesting senator, the recipient of the earmark and its purpose would have to be made public and posted on the Internet. Senators would also be required to certify that neither they nor their spouses would benefit financially from any earmark.”
The Washington Post reports:
A day after a lone student gunned down at least 32 people in a campus rampage, Virginia Tech students, faculty and family members gathered today to receive condolences from President Bush, Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and other officials, who urged them to preserve their sense of community amid overwhelming grief.
Students, many of them wearing Virginia Tech sweatshirts or T-shirts, wept openly at times, and one student sitting behind Bush had to be helped up and escorted out of the building after he was overcome by his emotions.
Below, watch highlights from Gov. Kaine and President Bush, as well as footage of the student who collapsed behind Bush in the audience. [Note: Audio problems fixed.]
The latest federal report on abstinence-only programs shows that they have had “no impacts on rates of sexual abstinence.” Nevertheless, the conservative Family Reseach Council responds that “one logical conclusion is that to achieve the greatest effectiveness, programs must be intensive and long-term, so that the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to reject sex before marriage are constantly reinforced–particularly in the pivotal high school years.”
UPDATE: “The Baptist Press is reporting that True Love Waits — a Christian group promoting abstinence-only education — is planning to expand its operations in six African countries, thanks to a recent surge in donations. Evidently, they’re unfazed by that recent U.S. report showing that these programs are basically useless. A trifling concern, really.”
The profoundly tragic events at Virginia Tech yesterday have produced sorrow and grief across the country. While this massacre deserves the nation’s attention, it is also worth noting that such grief rips apart Iraqi lives nearly every day in the same manner.
University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole pointed out last night on PBS’s Newshour:
Remember that we’re all concerned, as we should be, about these events at Virginia Tech today. In Iraq this is a daily event. Imagine how horrible it would be if this kind of massacre were occurring every single day. And the people of Iraq feel that either the Americans are not stopping it or they’re actually causing it.
Echoing Cole, Iraq Slogger published a post today recounting the brutal scenes of violence that Iraq’s universities have witnessed in recent months:
On Monday, the same day as the Virginia Tech mass shooting, two separate shooting incidents struck Mosul University, one killing Dr. Talal Younis al-Jelili, the dean of the college of Political Science as he walked through the university gate, and another killing Dr. Jaafar Hassan Sadeq, a professor from the Faculty of Arts at the school, who was targeted in front of his home in the al-Kifaat area, according to Aswat al-Iraq.
In January, Baghdad’s Mustansiriya University sufferred a double suicide bombing in January that killed at least 70 people, including students, faculty, and staff. A month later, another suicide bomber struck at Mustansiriya, killing 40.
Kidnappings of students and faculty are another all-too-common occurrence on Iraq’s campuses. Members of the univerisity community have been abducted and murdered for sectarian reasons, or simply held for ransom. [...]
In January, students reported that violent events had threatened students that attendance rates at Baghdad University had dropped to six percent.
Earlier this month, the Dr. Qais Jawad al-Azzawi, head of the Geneva-based Committee International Committee of Solidarity with Iraqi Professors said that 232 university professors were killed and 56 were reported missing in Iraq, while more than 3,000 others had left the country after the 2003 invasion.