Archives for FUBAR

E-mails document destruction of CIA torture tapes

Internal CIA e-mails show the former agency head, Porter Goss, agreed with a top aide’s 2005 decision to destroy videotapes of the harsh interrogation of a terror suspect, a controversial action that remains the focus of an FBI investigation. The documents show that, despite Goss’ apparent agreement, CIA officials almost immediately began worrying they’d done something wrong. The e-mails also indicate that President George W. Bush‘s White House counsel, Harriet Miers, hadn’t been informed of the tapes’ destruction and was “livid” to find out later. The videos showed CIA interrogators using waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique that’s widely considered torture,
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Foreclosure surge sets another record

A record number of U.S. homes were lost to foreclosure in the first three months of this year, a sign banks are starting to wade through the backlog of troubled home loans at a faster pace, according to a new report. RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday that the number of U.S. homes taken over by banks jumped 35 percent in the first quarter from a year ago. In addition, households facing foreclosure grew 16 percent in the same period and 7 percent from the last three months of 2009. More homes were taken over by banks and scheduled for a foreclosure
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Mike Huckabee’s homophobia

Mike Huckabee, a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2012, says the effort to allow gays and lesbians to marry is comparable to legalizing incest, polygamy and drug use. Huckabee also told college journalists last week that gay couples should not be permitted to adopt. “Children are not puppies,” he said. Huckabee visited The College of New Jersey in Ewing, N.J., last Wednesday to speak to the Student Government Association. He also was interviewed by a campus news magazine, The Perspective, which published an article on Friday. Huckabee told the interviewer that not every group’s interests deserve to be accommodated, if
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LaHood’s bike policy hits GOP potholes

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a weekend bicyclist, might consider keeping his head down and his helmet on. A backlash is brewing over his new bicycling policy. LaHood says the government is going to give bicycling — and walking, too — the same importance as automobiles in transportation planning and the selection of projects for federal money. The former Republican congressman quietly announced the “sea change” in transportation policy last month. “This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized,” he wrote in his government blog. The blog was accompanied by a DOT policy statement urging states
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Tea partyers use wrong video to refute racism charges

Three Democratic congressmen — all black — say they heard racial slurs as they walked through thousands of angry protesters outside the U.S. Capitol. A white lawmaker says he heard the epithets too. Conservative activists say the lawmakers are lying. What does the video show? Not much. Indeed, new interviews show that a much-viewed YouTube recording cited as evidence by conservatives was actually shot well after the time in question. It was March 20, near the end of the bitter health care debate, when Reps. John Lewis, Andre Carson and Emanuel Cleaver say that some demonstrators, many of them tea
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Recognizing attempts to gag free speech

Banning the sale of wine because of a nude, bike-riding nymph on the label of the bottle. Confining campus protests to a “free-speech patio.” Keeping street performers off the Las Vegas Strip. Those were some of the actions that the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression cited Tuesday in awarding its dubious “Muzzle” awards. The Charlottesville center awards the Muzzles annually to mark the April 13 birthday of Jefferson — its namesake, the third president and free-speech advocate. Center director Bob O’Neil said that while the 10 winners of the 2010 awards were geographically diverse, they didn’t
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Health care law will add to doctor shortage

Better beat the crowd and find a doctor. Primary care physicians already are in short supply in parts of the country, and the landmark health overhaul that will bring them millions more newly insured patients in the next few years promises extra strain. The new law goes beyond offering coverage to the uninsured, with steps to improve the quality of care for the average person and help keep us well instead of today’s seek-care-after-you’re-sick culture. To benefit, you’ll need a regular health provider. Yet recently published reports predict a shortfall of roughly 40,000 primary care doctors over the next decade,
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Mistakes will force health care bill back to the House

Senate Republicans learned early Thursday that they will be able to kill language in a measure altering President Barack Obama‘s newly enacted health care overhaul, meaning the bill will have to return to the House for final congressional approval. It appeared initially that deleting the provisions, dealing with Pell grants for low-income students, should not cause major problems for Democrats hoping to rush the bill to Obama and avoid prolonging what has been a politically painful ordeal for the party. Democrats described the situation as a minor glitch, but did not rule out that Republicans might be able to remove
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Fed mull weapons charges against Blackwater mercenaries

Federal prosecutors are considering filing weapons charges against former top officials of the Blackwater Worldwide private security company over allegations they illegally stockpiled automatic rifles at the company’s North Carolina headquarters, The Associated Press has learned. Senior Justice Department officials are reviewing a draft indictment against former president Gary Jackson, former Blackwater lawyer Andrew Howell, and a third man who used to work at the firm’s armory, people close to the case told the AP. A decision is not expected until at least next month. Any indictment, even of former executives, would be unwelcome news at a company beleaguered since
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Uncle Sam paid big bonuses to auditors

Banks weren’t the only ones giving big bonuses in the boom years before the worst financial crisis in generations. The government also was handing out millions of dollars to bank regulators, rewarding “superior” work even as an avalanche of risky mortgages helped create the meltdown. The payments, detailed in payroll data released to The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act, are the latest evidence of the government’s false sense of security during the go-go days of the financial boom. Just as bank executives got bonuses despite taking on dangerous amounts of risk, regulators got taxpayer-funded bonuses despite missing
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