FUBAR

Skeletons rattle in candidates’ closets

Plenty of skeletons are rattling in the political closets of the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates this year.

A survey of 1,010 adults conducted by Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University finds many Americans voice concerns about candidates who've used cocaine, been married three times, have uncommon religious beliefs, have little government experience or are just plain too old.

The survey finds almost every major candidate has a significant fault or political deficit they must overcome.

An object of Internet lust

Allison Stokke is an attractive 18-year-old high school athlete in Newport, California.

She also is the object of lewd affection for thousands of horny young and old men on the Internet.

Stokke is an example of the speed at which information can be passed around the 'Net as well as the Web's feeding ground for the worst in humanity.

It all started with a photo of the young pole vaulter at a track meet. She stood adjusting her hair while waiting her turn. Her track uniform, standard attire for track athletes at her school, showed some bare midriff. A blogger posted it and turned the teenager's life a living hell.

Clintons’ buddy sued over plane trips

Sen. Hillary Clinton (AP)A longtime Clinton benefactor used corporate jets to fly the former president and Hillary Rodham Clinton on business, personal and campaign trips that a lawsuit brands as wasteful company spending.

The supporter, Vinod Gupta, also secured contracts worth more than $3 million for Bill Clinton to provide consulting services to Gupta's Nebraska-based company, infoUSA, from 2003 through 2008, according to the suit.

Since 2002, Gupta spent $900,000 flying the former president to international locations on presidential foundation business and flying Hillary Clinton, a Democratic senator from New York, to political events.

Iraq’s bloody toll haunts Memorial Day

Mourning the dead (AP)
Anthony Martini of Chicago, mourns his brother, Marine Lance Cpl. Philip John Martini while visiting a memorial of over 3400 pairs of boots representing the U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq (AP).

Americans have opened nearly 1,000 new graves to bury U.S. troops killed in Iraq since Memorial Day a year ago. The figure is telling — and expected to rise in coming months.

In the period from Memorial Day 2006 through Saturday, 980 soldiers and Marines died in Iraq, compared to 807 deaths in the previous year. And with the Baghdad security operation now 3 1/2 months old, even President Bush has predicted a difficult summer for U.S. forces.

"It could be a bloody — it could be a very difficult August," he said last week.

U.S. commander Gen. David Petraeus on Saturday acknowledged the increase in casualties as a result of the American surge in forces to regain control of Baghdad.

"We're doing heavy fighting. This is a fight. There's a war on out there," he told reporters at al-Asad Airbase in western Iraq.

Michael O'Hanlon, a military analyst with the Brookings Institution and a consultant to the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, said the increased casualties were a result of the security operation.

Political poop charge thrown out by jury

A former Democratic Party activist who left dog feces on the doorstep of U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave's office during last year's 4th Congressional District campaign was found not guilty of criminal use of a noxious substance.

A Weld County jury deliberated about two hours Wednesday before acquitting Kathleen Ensz of the misdemeanor count. Her trial began Tuesday.

Toxic dust death added to 9/11 toll

Visitors at site of World Trade Center (AP)Felicia Dunn-Jones died of lung disease five months after Sept. 11, and last year her family asked that the city's medical examiner add her name to the death toll.

New York City Chief Medical Examiner Charles Hirsch refused, writing back that his office could not link her death to the exposure "with certainty beyond a reasonable doubt."

That changed Wednesday, when Dunn-Jones was added to the medical examiner's list of attack victims. It marked the first time the city has officially linked a death to the toxic dust caused by the World Trade Center's collapse.

Put the war debate aside for one day

I take as my reading today these immortal words written by A.A. Milne of Winnie the Pooh fame:

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
Alice is marrying one of the guard.
"A soldier's life is terrible hard."
Says Alice

Pessimism sweeps America

It's gloomy out there. Men and women, whites and minorities — all are feeling a war-weary pessimism about the country seldom shared by so many people.

Finally, some real leadership

Newsbreak: A majority of the nation's lawmakers have now taken a firm stand. They signed onto legislation to set a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. And, despite President Bush's ongoing surge, freezing U.S. troops at current levels.

Our gun culture

The late writer Andre Dubus began buying guns in the 1970s, after a loved one was raped at knifepoint. At first he took a gun with him only when he went out with a woman. No one would be raped where he was concerned.