May 17th, 2009


OCD Nerd's notebooks could be released to public!

Graham disputes CIA on briefings

Former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham said Friday that his detailed diaries show Democrats were told less about the interrogation of terrorists than the CIA claims.

Graham said the CIA claimed he was briefed four times about extreme interrogation techniques as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

He said he called the head of archives at the University of Florida, where his notebooks are stored, to check if he had listed the briefings.

"We established that three out of four of these alleged briefings never took place," he said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been under fire this week about her knowledge of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, which some have deemed torture.

While the CIA has said she was fully briefed about the methods, Pelosi said she was briefed once and misled about the use of waterboarding.

For his part, Graham said he doesn't recall being told about waterboarding or other extreme techniques in his briefing. He believes that "misinformation is out there" based on his experience.

"I think the Republican-led CIA of that era, among other things, was loose with the facts and loose with the record," he said.

Graham, Florida governor from 1979 to 1987 and U.S. senator from 1987 to 2005, is the namesake of UF's Graham Center for Public Service. He donated his notebooks to the university, but they are currently unavailable to the public.

Carl Van Ness, UF historian and curator of archives and manuscripts, said the notebooks contain incredibly detailed, almost minute-by-minute, logs of Graham's activities. He said they also include nearly everything Graham put into his pockets that day.

"I've never seen anything like it as an archivist," he said.

Van Ness said an issue with tax laws, involving whether the records are available to the public, has kept the notebooks under seal.

He said he only accesses the notebooks at Graham's instruction.

"At his request, we'll break the seal," he said.

He said one of the notebooks that Graham sought had been loaned to the former senator, but the others were in the archives.
He said he couldn't comment about what they said.

Graham said the CIA reported he was briefed twice in April 2002 and twice in September 2002. But he said the notebooks show he was briefed just once, on Sept. 27 of that year.

Obama abandons clean needle exchange campaign promise for 2009

Why Obama Isn't Funding Needle Exchange Programs

Sun May 17, 12:05 am ET

Buried on page 795 of President Obama's budget, released last Thursday, is a paragraph banning the federal funding of needle-exchange programs for drug addicts - an apparent about-face on his campaign promise to overturn that longstanding ban.

To the further consternation of AIDS and addiction activists, a statement of support for needle exchange was recently removed from the White House website. Is Obama reversing course?

The Administration says no.

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From the wonderful people at TIME Magazine.

Declassified: GQ prints crazy, insane intelligence reports by Rumsfeld

Wow. These are cheesily designed, very amateur-looking, yes, but they are copies of some of the covers of intelligence reports that Donald Rumsfeld gave to George W. Bush daily.

GQ has a slide show of the declassified, Bible-quoting report covers HERE.

Yes, this is the actual cover of a US govt. intelligence briefing given to Bush by Rummy. It looks awful, but the content is even creepier.

GQ says the reports prepared by Rumsfeld are reminiscent of medieval crusades/holy war-type imagery, very apocalyptic.

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  • Current Mood

In which Nelson David of The Guardian says nice stuff about Colbert

The US-UK comedy divide

Comedians like Wanda Sykes and Jon Stewart make a living skewering US politicians. British comics should get in on the act


Jon Stewart drinks your milkshake. He Drinks It Up!

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I dunno... I'm on a massive antibiotics course, I feel like a dead oyster and the news from the Obama Admin is depressing me this weekend, so I thought I'd post something relatively benign. I'm sure the Brits here can tell us if there are any favorite politically-incisive UK comedians that The Guardian doesn't know about.

Commencement ceremony at Notre Dame

If you want to watch the commencement ceremony, here's the link:


University Commencement Ceremony Program of Events

  • Procession of degree candidates/recipients, faculty, platform party
  • Convocation convened – Dr. Burish
  • Invocation (by graduating senior – Adrienne Murphy)
  • Valedictory Address (by graduating senior – E. Brennan Bollman)
  • Honorary Degrees awarded
  • Commencement Address – President Obama
  • Award and Prize winners are announced (these are faculty and
    student awards and prizes) – Dr. Burish
  • Laetare Medal remarks – Judge Noonan
  • Degrees conferred– Presentation of degree candidates by
    Deans from each college/school and degree conferral by Fr. Jenkins
  • Charge to the graduating class – Fr. Jenkins
  • Benediction and Blessing of the graduates – Fr. Jenkins
  • Closing of the Convocation – Dr. Burish
  • Alma Mater
  • Current Mood
Shirley Animated

Obama at Notre Dame: A Perfect Choice to Promote a REAL Culture of Life

More than 55 leading Catholic Bishops, all members of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, are speaking out against the University of Notre Dame's decision to host and honor President Barak Obama at their commencement ceremony on the 17th. Much of their ire is due to President Obama's support of the right to choose abortion. And, indeed coverage of the Bishops' opposition has largely, and unfortunately, centered on the issue of abortion, rather than on the pregnant women who have them. Sixty one percent of women who have abortions are already mothers and 84 percent of all women become pregnant and give birth over the course of their lifetimes. While Bishops criticize the president for being unwilling "to hold human life as sacred," an examination of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishop's (USCCB) public positions in two historic legal cases makes clear that that the USCCB itself is unwilling to "hold human life as sacred" when the life belongs to a pregnant woman.

Twenty-two years ago this June, when a District of Columbia court ordered 27 year-old Angela Carder to undergo cesarean surgery against her wishes, she said: "I don't want it done. I don't want it done." The unborn child who the surgery was intended to save survived for just two hours. Carder died two days later with the cesarean listed as a contributing factor. In the highly publicized appeal that followed, and that reversed the order, only two groups defended the forced surgery: one was the United Catholic Conference -- now known as the USCCB.
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(no subject)

Boehner responds to Obama's 'person of color' joke

– GOP congressional leader John Boehner is brushing off President Obama’s recent joke about Boehner’s famously permanent tan.

At the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner a week ago, the country’s first African-American president said he had “a lot in common” with Boehner who is Caucasian. “He is a person of color,” Obama joked before a massive ballroom of celebrities and Washington journalists. “Although not a color that appears in the natural world,” Obama added, barely able to keep his composure as he delivered the dig.

“As I tell my friends, you only tease the ones you love,” Boehner said responding to Obama Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.

“Yeah, I enjoy being outside,” Boehner added, trying to explain his persistently tanned appearance.

“I’d rather be heckled than ignored,” the Ohio Republican told CNN’s John King.

[Video at source that won't fucking embed]


Aaaaand, why'd I read the comments?


Aladdin owns you

Progress, One Woman at at Time

Kuwait votes for first female MPs

Kuwait's parliament, the oldest in the region, will admit four women

Rola Dashti

Kuwait has elected its first female MPs following the oil-rich country's third general election in three years.

US-educated Aseel al-Awadhi and Rola Dashti were among winners in the third district, official results declared.

The 10 leading candidates from each of Kuwait's five electoral districts are elected to the 50-seat parliament.

The emir dissolved the previous parliament in March because it wanted to question his nephew, the prime minister, about alleged corruption.

There are no political parties in Kuwait; the prime minister appoints ministers most of whom are unelected.

"It's a victory for Kuwaiti women and a victory for Kuwaiti democracy," Ms Awadhi told AFP news agency.

"This is a major leap forward," she said. The right to vote and stand for election to Kuwait's parliament, the oldest in the Gulf, was extended to women in 2005.

Former Health Minister Massouma al-Mubarak, who became the first Kuwaiti woman to be appointed to a ministerial post in 2005, and Salwa al-Jassar, have also secured seats in parliament.

This is great, Kuwait!! My Mom said there were mixed feelings about this in the Mid East


US Officials Fear That Former CIA Detainee's Death Could Reopen Questions About Rendition

Death In a Libyan Jail Cell

The Obama Administration is pressing the Libyan government to explain the reported prison death of a former CIA detainee—an incident that U.S. officials fear could reopen questions about the agency's "extraordinary rendition" program and further complicate the president's plans to shut down the Guantánamo Bay detention center. According to human-rights groups, the body of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi—once one of the U.S. government's prize captives—was turned over to family members last week after they were told he had committed suicide at Tripoli's Abu Salim prison by hanging himself with a bedsheet. But U.S. officials are skeptical about the supposed suicide, which was first reported in a newspaper owned by Libyan leader Muammar Kaddafi's son. Two weeks earlier, al-Libi was visited for the first time by human-rights workers investigating allegations that he had been tortured into making false claims connecting Saddam Hussein's regime and Al Qaeda. (Those claims, which al-Libi later retracted, were used by the Bush administration to bolster its case for the Iraq War.) Al-Libi also had been identified recently by U.S. defense lawyers as a possible key witness in upcoming trials of top terror suspects. "We want answers," said an administration official familiar with the case, who asked not to be identified discussing a sensitive matter. "We want to know what really happened here."

Al-Libi's death highlights a predicament facing Obama officials: returning detainees to countries that practice torture. Seven Libyans remain at Guantánamo, and U.S. officials are loath to send home any more. Last year, President Bush resumed diplomatic relations with Libya and removed it from a list of "state sponsors" of terror. But a State Department human-rights report recently concluded that Libyan security forces "routinely tortured" prisoners by applying electric shocks, breaking fingers, pouring lemon juice on open wounds and burning them with cigarettes. The U.S. official said, "It's not in the U.S. interest to send people back to countries where they're going to be abused or end up dead."

Although al-Libi was never held at Guantánamo, it is believed he was held at overseas CIA "black sites" before being returned to Libya in 2006. A CIA spokesman said "it is American policy to seek assurances" from foreign governments that suspects will be well treated. But current and former U.S. counterterrorism officials say such assurances are often perfunctory and rarely put in writing. The CIA has tightened its procedures, directing stations to visit rendered prisoners and personally verify that they have not been mistreated. But it's unknown how many such visits have been made. A spokesman at Libya's U.S. embassy said he had "no information."