FUBAR

Palin challenged on legal defense fund

An ethics complaint filed Monday against Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin claims the legal defense fund formed last week to challenge such claims is an ethics violation itself.

The complaint filed with the attorney general’s office seeks an investigation by the state personnel board for violations of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act. The complainant, Kim Chatman of Eagle River, claims Palin is misusing the governor’s office for personal gain by securing unwarranted benefits and receiving improper gifts.

Flyover photo op scares, angers New Yorkers

It was supposed to be a photo op that captured images of an Air Force One plane with a majestic Statue of Liberty in the background. Instead, it turned into a public relations nightmare that led to recriminations from the president and mayor and prompted thousands other to ask, "What were they thinking?"

Just before the workday began on Monday, an airliner and supersonic fighter jet zoomed past the lower Manhattan skyline. Within minutes, startled financial workers streamed out of their offices, fearing a nightmarish replay of Sept. 11.

Coming back from the dark side

America is ambivalent about torture. To generalize: our country is populated with two types of people, those who reject torture and those who do not.

But the distinction between the two is vague. Many of us– me, for example — condemn torture categorically but cannot predict with certainty how we would behave if we found ourselves in the well-worn time-bomb scenario, the hypothetical philosophical circumstance in which a little torture applied to the right person could prevent thousands of deaths.

Will a torture investigation fix anything?

It would be hard to measure the potential divisiveness of one of those full-blown, razzamatazz, in living color, months long Congressional inquiries into the past torture of terrorist suspects. Not only is it doubtful that such an exercise would produce new revelations, it also would put politics above the national welfare — something the leadership of the current majority seems anxious to accomplish no matter the cost.

Security problems uncovered in Iraq

A commission investigating waste and fraud in wartime spending has found serious deficiencies in training and equipment for hundreds of Ugandan guards hired to protect U.S. military bases in Iraq, The Associated Press has learned.

The problems at Forward Operating Bases Delta and Hammer include a lack of vehicles used to properly protect the two posts, a shortage of weapons and night vision gear, and poorly trained guards. Both bases house several thousand U.S. military personnel.

Swine flu declared national emergency

The United States declared a swine flu outbreak a public health emergency as officials confirmed 20 cases in five US states and warned that they expected more in the coming days.

President Barack Obama is monitoring the spreading virus and has reviewed US capabilities to counter the deadly flu outbreak, which has killed up to 81 people in Mexico, White House homeland security advisor John Brennan told reporters.

Obama has ordered a "very active, aggressive, and coordinated response," Brennan said.

Pentagon will release prisoner abuse photos

The Pentagon said on Friday it will release hundreds of photographs from investigations into prisoner abuse but insisted they did not reveal a policy of mistreatment.

The Obama administration’s commitment to release the pictures by May 28 could fan the flames of a political firestorm over the treatment of terrorism suspects and other detainees during George W. Bush’s presidency.

Are we headed for a revolution?

The question was raised last week, starting with a report from the Department of Homeland Security that warned of a recession-fueled growth in right-wing extremist groups that might be inclined to take violent action against the government. Conservative bloggers and commentators protested loudly, and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano was forced to issue a statement saying her department doesn’t monitor ideology or political beliefs.

FactCheck’s record of errors, corrections

FactCheck.Org, the self-proclaimed purveyor of truth on the Internet, has a checkered history of getting things wrong and often has to correct its own mistakes in reports about the purported false claims of others.

A random check of stories published by FactCheck.Org since Jan. 1, 2008 found at least 11 articles where the organization was forced to correct its own errors and admit it either reached a false conclusion or simply got it wrong.

Just one day after claiming Capitol Hill Blue is a web site with a history of retracting stories and apologizing to readers, FactCheck.Org retracted one of its own stories and apologized to its readers — the latest in a series of errors and corrections that come at a rate higher than Blue or other web sites that FactCheck judges by its own harsh and hypocritical standard.

Americans: Going nowhere

One of the defining characteristics of Americans has always been their willingness to pack up and move in search of better places and better times. The recession has radically changed that.

Last year, 11.9 percent of the population, 35.2 million people, moved, down from 13.2 percent, or 38.7 million, the year before. That was the sharpest drop in mobility since the dot-com bust of 2000 and the lowest percentage in 60 years, since the Census bureau began measuring it in 1948.