Feb. 1st, 2007 11:52 am
asheris: (Default)
Aqua Teen Hunger Force terrorizes Boston! Oh, wait... more like Boston Mayor Terrorizes Boston over ATHF.

It's not an oversight, when you have a long history of purposely using the wrong words.
Bush plans to speak to the House Democratic Caucus at its conference this weekend in Virginia.

On the president's schedule, that event is referred to as the "House Democrat Conference."

Bush gets dissed at a diner - guess people aren't as impressed wth him as he thinks they should be.
But on Tuesday, the surprise was on Bush. In town to deliver remarks on the economy, the president walked into the diner, where he was greeted with what can only be described as a sedate reception. No one rushed to shake his hand. There were no audible gasps or yelps of excitement that usually accompany visits like this. ... In Peoria this week, many patrons found their pancakes more interesting. Except for the click of news cameras and the clang of a dish from the kitchen, the quiet was deafening.

"Sorry to interrupt you," Bush said to a group of women, who were sitting in a booth with their young kids. "How’s the service?" As Bush signed a few autographs and shook hands, a man sitting at the counter lit a cigarette and asked for more coffee. Another woman, eyeing Bush and his entourage, sighed heavily and went back to her paper. She was reading the obituaries. "Sorry to interrupt your breakfast," a White House aide told her. "No problem," she huffed, in a not-so-friendly way. "Life goes on, I guess."
asheris: (Default)
The Bush administration has approved the sale of control over six US ports to a company wholely owned by the royal family of the United Arab Emirates. Ports included are: Miami, New Orleans, Newark, Philadelphia, Baltimore and New York.

For reference, the UAE was one of the key transfer points for Al Qaida funding leading up to 9/11. So gee, doesn't it just make perfect sense to hand over the security at six of our largest ports to them?

Why do I feel like we're being sold out?

How the hell are we "safer" under Bush, when he SELLS OUR SECURITY to the leaders of a country who supported the Al Qaida terrorists who attacked New York - twice??

The decision was made by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States. The committee is made up of:
  • Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy - John Marburger
  • Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs - Stephen Hadley
  • Assistant to the President for Economic Policy - Allan Hubbard
  • Department of Homeland Security - Michael Chertoff
  • Secretary of State - Condoleezza Rice
  • Secretary of Defense - Donald H. Rumsfeld
  • Secretary of Commerce - Carlos M. Gutierrez
  • Attorney General - Alberto R. Gonzales
  • Director of the Office of Management and Budget - Joshua B. Bolten
  • U.S. Trade Representative - Rob Portman
  • Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers - N. Gregory Mankiw
  • Secretary of the Treasury (Chair of the committee) - John Snow

From the New York Times (emphasis mine):
The Bush administration dismissed the security concerns of local officials yesterday and restated its approval of a deal that will give a company based in Dubai a major role in operating ports in and around New York City.

Representatives of the White House and the Treasury Department said they had given their approval for Dubai Ports World to do business in the United States after a rigorous review. The decision, they said, was final.

Dubai Ports World is buying the British company that currently operates the cruise-ship terminal on the West Side of Manhattan, one of the biggest cargo terminals in New York Harbor, and terminals in Philadelphia, Baltimore and other big ports.

Anthony R. Coscia, the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, also wrote to Mr. Snow, seeking information about the security review that was conducted. Mr. Coscia said in an interview that he sent the letter after a few attempts to get answers drew no response.

"Clearly, we would expect that information relative to a facility that we operate would be shared with us," Mr. Coscia said. "It is not our role to review and approve this transfer," he said, but added that "given the fact that this is our port and these are employees for whom we feel responsibility, there are issues we would like to become comfortable with."

Stewart Baker, assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security, said his department had no information about Dubai Ports World that justified an objection to the deal. Indeed, he said, the company has cooperated with the department in its efforts to secure American ports and ships in foreign ports.

"We did not find derogatory information in our review," he said.

But that review, Mr. Baker said, did not involve gathering information from outside sources, like the Port Authority, because the committee must keep a proposed transaction secret. He said the committee's investigation began in November and ended in mid-January.

The investigation did not include background checks on the senior managers of the company or an evaluation of how the company screens its own employees, {Rep. Representative Peter T.] King [(R-NY-3) of Long Island, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee] said. "Certainly, you would think they would talk to the Port Authority," he added.

From Forbes:
The Bush administration is defending approval of a $6.8 billion sale that gives a company in the United Arab Emirates control over operations at six major American ports, even as one senator sought a new ban on companies owned by governments overseas in some U.S. shipping operations.

Can I hear a thunderous "What the fuck?!?"

Partial list of references:
Despite Fears, a Dubai Company Will Help Run Ports in New York (New York Times, February 17, 2006)
White House Defends Port Sale to Arab Co. (Forbes, February 17, 2006)
Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS) (U.S. Treasury website)
Senator Santorum Calls for Intervention into Dubai Ports World's Pending Acquisition of Company that Controls Vital American Ports (letter from Sen. Santorum (R-PA) to the President)
Foley Questions Administration on Sale of U.S. Ports to Arab Nation (American Chronicle, February 17, 2006, regarding Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL-16))
asheris: (Default)
Educators face blowback for protesting Iraq war in schools

Or, in some cases, for even using the word "peace". Mention the word "peace" in a classroom discussion about current events, and if you're in the wrong school district, you could find yourself fired, and blacklisted with an accusation of sexual harrassment.
Just over three years ago, as the nation readied for war with Iraq, elementary school teacher Deb Mayer stood in front of her class and uttered the word that would get her blacklisted from her profession.

It was a word that got her deemed “unpatriotic” by an angry parent. A word that led to her termination from the Bloomington, Indiana school district. A word that got her labeled as a potential sex offender and ruined her chances of finding work elsewhere.

That word was “peace.”
In Mayer’s case, she says it was an article in Time Magazine for Kids that lead to her termination. In January 2003, she was teaching a Current Events class to fourth, fifth and sixth graders at Clear Creek Elementary School. They had been discussing the articles in the magazine, which dedicated an issue to the situation in Iraq. One student asked Mayer if she had ever participated in a peace march.

“I said that peace marches are going on all over the country and that whenever I pass the courthouse square where the demonstrators were, I honk for peace because they hold up signs that say honk for peace.”

That night, a sixth-grade student girl told her parents that Mayer was encouraging them to protest against the war, igniting a furor that Mayer said she'd never before experienced in her 20-year teaching career.

Three days later, the girl’s father showed up to the school for a meeting with Mayer and principal Victoria Rogers. Mayer explained that she had simply explained to the children that there are two sides to the story. When the father asked if she had any children in the military, she told him her son had recently enlisted. But that only seemed to antagonize him even further.

“He kept getting angrier and angrier,” she said. “He stood up and started pointing his finger in my face. I felt very threatened.”

The father turned to Rogers with a request.

“I want her to promise never the mention the word peace in her class again,” Mayer remembered him saying.

Rogers assured him that could be done, and Mayer reluctantly agreed never to mention the word “peace” in her class again.

“I wanted to calm the parent down,” she said. “I didn’t want to be insubordinate.”

Later that afternoon in a faculty meeting, Rogers circulated a memo announcing the cancellation of “Peace Month,” a traditional month-long series of activities beginning on Martin Luther King Jr. Day that taught children how to settle differences through mediation.

“She said that we can talk about war, but not about peace,” Mayer said. “That for now on, nobody is allowed to have a stance on the war.”
At least two parent complaints against Mayer were typed up on Title IX Sexual Discrimination and Harassment grievance documents and placed in her personnel file.

“There was no substance to it,” Mayer said. “This complaint was very mysterious. I never saw it until I was disposed (in September 2005).”

That likely explains why she had been unable to find work since losing her teaching job on the Gulf Coast of Florida in 2005, where she had been hired as a teacher in Boca Grande, an upscale community and long-time retreat for the Bush family.
Even though it was typed on an official sexual harassment document, the actual complaint against Mayer accused her of “harassing” children because she would put up her hand to silence a child if the child had interrupted a conversation between herself and another student.

“The parent had signed it, but nobody on the school administration has signed it,” she said. “When we tried to find out who did it, nobody admitted to it.”
Mayer said her case is such a clear cut example of a First Amendment violation that she can not comprehend why it has not already been settled. “At first, the contention of the school was that my speech wasn’t protected because the war in Iraq wasn’t a matter of public concern,” she said. “Then they changed their contention and said that my speech wasn’t protected because the classroom wasn’t a public forum.”
asheris: (Default)
Add another one onto the list... I personally know two people who were convinced to sign up for the National Guard back in 2002 or so because the signing bonus was so good, and they were both looking for a second job to help support their young families. They were assured that they wouldn't be sent overseas, that their specialties were more needed here.

Once they signed, the bonuses turned out to be a tiny fraction of what they were told they would get. Both eventually ended up serving in Iraq. (Different units, different recruiters, etc.)

Both were former military, one Army, one Navy. They knew they might have to take some peacekeeping duty somewhere. However, they never expected to be sent into foreign combat, in the National Guard. (That not what the Guard's for, after all.)

After a year of Guard service, having completed his Reserve time and after having had so many promises broken, the army guy had filed for his discharge papers. A couple months later, he got an envelope with two letters - no discharge papers, but one letter saying he was being transferred to another unit, and the second telling him his new unit was being sent to Iraq, and that he was to report for shipping out a week from that date.

Thankfully both came home physically intact, but there's been no support at all for them for any other issues they've had. Stress, PTSD, re-adjustment to civilian life - nothing.

And so, on to yet another patriotic kid who's been screwed by BushCo:

My Army Nephew - Disillusioned Patriot
For two years, my nephew proudly served the U.S. Military and advanced quickly while receiving commendations for his work and service. As he was ready to end his two-year stint and return to civilian life, the government (via Rumsfeld) informed my nephew that they were going to have to pull a stop loss maneuver on him and keep him for an extra year, even though this contract clearly stated he had signed on for two years only.

Dutifully, he served the military with distinction. He never made any waves or questioned the policy openly, though in his emails and letters to his family, you could read his disappointment. He didn't let that get in the way of being a loyal American soldier.

When he was finally discharged, he was informed that his enlistment bonus would be substantially less than stated in his contract. We all have to make our sacrifices during wartime, he was told. I guess him giving up family, friends, college and an extra year of his life, and fighting a questionable war wasn't sacrifice enough.

Still, he accepted it and returned to civilian life at least knowing that he could pursue his dream of going to college and not having to rely on his mother for the funds to pay his tuition, books and incidentals. Little did we know that this would all change this past weekend.

My nephew received a notice in the mail that the U.S. government won't be picking up the tab for his tuition as promised this semester and probably not for any other semester in the near future. "There is no more money," the letter pretty much said in clear language. Despite the promises and assurances that the government would be there for my nephew if my nephew was there for the government, his college dream is in jeopardy.


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