Balkinization: "The District Court held that the President did not have authority to hold Padilla as an enemy combatant under the terms of the September 18th, 2001 Authorization of Military Force against Al Qaeda (AUMF). It followed Justice O'Connor's plurality opinion in Hamdi, which read the AUMF quite narrowly to cover the right to detain persons fighting against American forces and captured on the battlefield. Hamdi, the court explained, was arrested at O'Hare Airport and held as a material witness. He was not arrested carrying arms on a foreign battlefield."
CNN.com - Transcripts: "And yet rumors abound that Democrats, perhaps even former vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman, will find a compromise that allows Mr. Bush to succeed in privatizing part of Social Security. Look, any Democrat who rescue[s] Mr. Bush's assault on Social Security ought to be defeated in a primary and allowed to begin their own retirement early."
If successful, Edmondson - Oklahoma's top legal officer - would be the only attorney general in the nation without independent authority to file lawsuits, a policy the administrator of a national attorneys general group said would erode his authority and set a bad precedent."
Bloomberg.com: U.S.: "During a Feb. 4 speech in Tampa, Florida, President George W. Bush pointed to a chart showing the Social Security system running out of money by 2042.
'What are you going to do about that chart?' he urged the crowd to ask their senators and representatives.
What Bush didn't tell his audience was that if the forecast is correct, the U.S. will have its worst economic performance since the Great Depression. He also didn't say that his own White House economists disagree with some of the basic assumptions of the chart, which was drawn up by the Social Security Administration."
Governors Urged to Reach Deal on Medicaid (washingtonpost.com): "The Bush administration is urging the nation's governors to reach early agreement on a restructuring plan for the Medicaid health program for the poor or risk steep budget cuts in the Republican-controlled Congress, according to governors of both parties meeting this week in Washington."
My Way News: "Veterans account for nearly one-third of all homeless men in America, even though the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says they comprise only 13 percent of adult males in the general population."
The study of blood samples from nearly a thousand bushmeat hunters or handlers in Cameroon showed that at least six viruses had crossed from monkeys to the people who were exposed to freshly caught bushmeat. And two of these viruses have never been seen before in humans."
One former intelligence official told United Press International that even the agency's most touted new weapon -- the Hellfire missile, which can be launched from the remotely piloted Predator aerial platform -- is hamstrung by the excessively legalistic attitude of the agency's senior management."
Cruise Ships Resist Docking With ADA: "For more than a decade, the multibillion-dollar North American cruise industry has taken the position that the Americans With Disabilities Act does not apply to foreign-flagged ships. Today, a group of disabled cruise passengers will test that position in the U.S. Supreme Court."
A Palo Alto (California ) start-up, named Nanosolar Inc., founded in 2002, claims that it has developed a commercial scale technology that can deliver solar electricity at 5 cents per kilowatt-hour. [Take with a box of salt, but still a hopeful sign.]"
Yahoo! News - Personal Incomes See Biggest Dip in Decade: "Personal incomes which had been bolstered by a large stock dividend payment in December plunged 2.3 percent in January, the sharpest decline in more than a decade. Consumer spending was flat, the government reported Monday."
For instance, a tsunami-relief bracelet costs $2, only half of which goes toward relieving problems caused by the recent massive tidal wave in southern Asia. But that's still better than the 10-percent cut that tsunami victims receive when you buy your bracelet on something called AwarenessDepot.com, where you can also purchase 'USA' bracelets, 'Jesus Loves You' bracelets, and 'God Bless the Dead' bracelets."
GOP pushes new map | ajc.com: "Republican legislators appeared Friday to be close to their goal of killing the last of the state's three Democratic-drawn redistricting maps.
After little debate, GOP-run committees in both the House and Senate signed off Friday on a new map of the state's 13 congressional districts. Republicans said they met privately Thursday night and hashed out differences between House and Senate versions of the map."
House Bill 427, backed by the Republican leadership, would let insurers raise rates by up to 5 percent statewide each year and 9.99 percent on individual drivers without waiting for the state insurance commissioner to rule on rate increases, as is now required."
Secrecy bill under metro, rural attack | ajc.com: "in Georgia's wider spaces, 'hot' doesn't begin to describe the temperature. The sharpest reaction to HB 218 has come from outside metro Atlanta. An editorial in the Rome News-Tribune declared that the measure 'sends out the same message as dressing Georgia in a miniskirt and net stockings and putting her on a street corner.'"
Child support future in play | ajc.com: "A sweeping attempt to overhaul how child support payments are calculated in Georgia has the potential to create one of the Legislature's most contentious debates.
Under current law, child support payments are based on the gross income of the parent who does not have custody, though judges are allowed to adjust the award for certain circumstances.
House Bill 221, sponsored by key Republican leaders, would use a formula that takes into account the income of both parents. It would also reduce payments for non-custodial parents who spend time with their children, assuming that those parents spend money during visitation. [The bill is 29 pages long, with tables]."
If America is Richer, Wy Are Its Families So Much Less Secure?
Los Angeles Times: "Los Angeles Times reporter Peter G. Gosselin has spent the last year examining an American paradox: Why so many families report being financially less secure even as the nation has grown more prosperous. The answer lies in a quarter-century-long shift of economic risks from the broad shoulders of business and government to the backs of working families."
Defense Tech: PENTAGON BUDGET BLACKMAIL: "Give us more money, or our soldiers are going to go broke. That's the cynical game the Pentagon's leadership has been playing with the Army's budget in recent months. And now, it's crunch time.
Since the fall, Rumsfeld & Co. have been dipping into the Army's day-to-day funds -- like money for soldiers' paychecks -- and then daring Congress not to make up the difference with a second, 'supplemental' pile of cash."
The Emerging Democratic Majority WebLog - DonkeyRising: "A newly-released poll for National Public Radio gives Democratic congressional candidates an early lead in the 2006 congressional campaign. The poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research 2/15-17 indicated that 42 percent of repondents would vote for the Democratic candidate and 36 percent would vote for the Republican candidate in their district, 'if the election for Congress were held today.'"
Dems Accuse Bush of Drug Double-Standard: "The Bush administration cites public safety in trying to block admission of cheaper prescription drugs from Canada, but has agreed to expand imports of Canadian beef and cattle despite cases of mad cow disease, Montana's Democratic governor complained Saturday.
'President Bush was recently here in Montana and we had just one question for him,' Gov. Brian Schweitzer said in his party's weekly radio address. 'Why allow bad beef to enter the U.S. from Canada and not allow safe medicine?'"
RollingStone.com: Bob Dylan : FCC Censorship : News: "A review of fines levied by other federal agencies suggests that the government may be taking swear words a bit too seriously. If the bill passes the Senate, Bono saying 'fucking brilliant' on the air would carry the exact same penalty as illegally testing pesticides on human subjects. And for the price of Janet Jackson's 'wardrobe malfunction' during the Super Bowl, you could cause the wrongful death of an elderly patient in a nursing home and still have enough money left to create dangerous mishaps at two nuclear reactors. (Actually, you might be able to afford four 'nuke malfunctions': The biggest fine levied by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission last year was only $60,000.)"
The Bush-Putin Mutual Admiration Society (washingtonpost.com): "After the introductory comments, Andrey Kolesnikov, a correspondent for the Russian business newspaper Kommersant, got up and said -- albeit not so succinctly, and not in English -- Hey, no wonder you guys see eye to eye! You're both authoritarians."
Yahoo! News - Wal-Mart Colorado Unit Rejects Union: "Wal-Mart -- which recently shut down a Canadian store that voted in favor of a union -- said tire and lube express associates at its Loveland supercenter voted 17-1 to reject representation by the United Food & Commercial Workers Union.
The union has been spearheading the Wal-Mart unionization drive for more than a decade, with very little success."
Yahoo! News - Fla. Woman's Feeding Tube to Stay in Place: "A judge on Friday extended for three weeks a court order keeping Terri Schiavo's feeding tube in place, the latest development in a long-running family feud over the fate of the brain-damaged woman."
"Friday's decision came on the 15th anniversary of Terri Schiavo's collapse, when a chemical imbalance brought on by an eating disorder caused her heart to stop beating."
Mystery Pollster: Should Jeb Run...Or Not:?: "A just released Quinnipiac poll of 1,007 Florida 'voters,' conducted February 18-22, showed 25% said yes when asked, 'would you like Jeb Bush to run for President in 2008?' A survey of [Florida] 'registered voters' conducted February 16-20 by Strategic Vision showed 57% saying yes on a virtually identical question."
ChoicePoint execs defend selling stock | ajc.com: "Thirteen days after the arrest of a suspect in the ChoicePoint identity theft case — and more than three months before the problem surfaced publicly — the company's top two executives began selling their stock.
Since the sales began in November, ChoicePoint CEO Derek Smith and President Douglas Curling have sold 472,000 ChoicePoint shares worth nearly $21 million, according to the executives' Securities and Exchange Commission filings."
Bill lifts delays on construction | ajc.com: "Senate Republican leaders are pushing a bill that would allow landfills, factories, power plants and other environmentally regulated operations to start construction even when opponents try to stop them in court.
Senate Bill 190 would nullify a 23-year-old rule that automatically freezes permit approvals granted by the state Environmental Protection Division director when an appeal is filed."
Decision delayed on gay school club | ajc.com: "The White County Board of Education backed away from a dispute Thursday night by delaying a vote on the status of a club for gay students and sympathetic classmates at the local high school."
Secrecy bill on hold; GOP tries to regroup | ajc.com: "One hour into the debate and short on votes, Senate Republicans on Thursday abruptly shelved a controversial proposal [HB 218] to increase the amount of government secrecy that surrounds efforts to recruit industry."
The New York Times > Education > Report Faults Bush Initiative on Education: "Concluding a yearlong study on the effectiveness of President Bush's sweeping education law, No Child Left Behind, a bipartisan panel of lawmakers drawn from many states yesterday pronounced it a flawed, convoluted and unconstitutional education reform initiative that had usurped state and local control of public schools."
'Rocket fuel' found in US breast milk | The Register: "US research has found that perchlorate - a chemical used in rocket fuel and though to be linked to metabolic disruption in adults and mental retardation in children - is widely present in breast and cow's milk across the United States."
Pop.: 1 Plus 5,000 Volumes: "Nearly 30% of the nation's libraries serve communities of fewer than 2,500 people, including almost 3,000 libraries in towns where the population is measured in the hundreds."
The New York Review of Books: America's Senior Moment
The New York Review of Books: America's Senior Moment: "America does have an aging population, and a responsible government would take preparatory action while the baby boomers are still in the labor force. America also has very serious long-run fiscal problems. But these issues aren't nearly as closely linked as much of the discussion would lead you to believe. The view of demography as destiny is only a half-truth, and in some ways it's as damaging as a lie."
Oxendine takes on ChoicePoint | ajc.com: "Beleaguered ChoicePoint got more bad news Thursday when Georgia Insurance Commissioner John W. Oxendine told the information broker to tighten the way it handles security breaches or be barred from doing business with insurance companies in Georgia.
If the Alpharetta-based company cannot satisfy Oxendine's demands in 90 days, it would no longer be able to do business inside the state of Georgia with insurance companies that have clients here."
Yahoo! News - Dems not sold on Bush plan, despite courting: "Despite weeks of campaign-style barnstorming and rides in the presidential jet and limousine, Bush doesn't have a single Democrat by his side [on Social Security]. Many of them have set a bottom line: They won't support a plan that would increase the already hefty $427 billion federal budget deficit or cut future retirees' benefits"
When Sexuality Undercuts A Family's Ties (washingtonpost.com): "Maya Keyes -- liberal, lesbian and a little lost -- finds herself out on her own. She says her parents -- conservative commentator and perennial candidate Alan Keyes and his wife, Jocelyn -- threw her out of their house, refused to pay her college tuition and stopped speaking to her."
ISO: Working-Class Democrats (washingtonpost.com): "Democrats need to promote alternatives to the kind of shareholder-driven capitalism into which our system has descended, to the detriment of millions of underpaid, insecure workers. They need to side with Main Street over Wall Street."
Wired News: "Homosexual marriages are part of 'a new ideology of evil' that is insidiously threatening society, Pope John Paul says in a new book published Tuesday.
In 'Memory and Identity,' the Pope also calls abortion a 'legal extermination' comparable to attempts to wipe out Jews and other groups in the 20th century."
Democrats' Grass Roots Shift the Power (washingtonpost.com): "the rising of this grass-roots force also signals a shift in the balance of power within the party, one that raises questions about its ultimate impact on a Democratic Party searching for direction and identity after losses in 2002 and 2004.
At a minimum, say party strategists, the shift will mean a more confrontational Democratic Party in battles with President Bush and the Republicans"
The New York Times > Business > Behind Those Medical Malpractice Rates: "Lawsuits against doctors are just one of several factors that have driven up the cost of malpractice insurance, specialists say. Lately, the more important factors appear to be the declining investment earnings of insurance companies and the changing nature of competition in the industry.
The recent spike in premiums - which is now showing signs of steadying - says more about the insurance business than it does about the judicial system."
States' Private Pensions Make a Weak Showing: "when Nebraska's state and county workers were given do-it-yourself accounts, they made so many investment errors that they ended up making less than colleagues with fixed-benefit pensions — and less than what analysts have said is needed for old age. Their poor performance led the Nebraska Legislature two years ago to junk the accounts for new employees.
While Americans are just beginning to grapple with the president's proposal for private accounts, employees and retirement officials in Michigan, Montana, Washington, West Virginia and other states have discovered that the accounts can fall far short of their promise."
Election Law: "Democrats Eye Remap Payback": "House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) has spoken with several Democratic governors in recent weeks about the possibility of revisiting their states’ Congressional lines in response to the ongoing Republican-led redistricting in Georgia, according to informed party sources. Faced with the prospect of Republicans redrawing Congressional lines in a third state since the initial 2001 round of redistricting ended, a faction of national Democrats is urging an aggressive strategy aimed at striking back at Republican House Members in states like New Mexico and Illinois."
The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor: Schwarzenegger vs. Gerrymander: "We can't change where people choose to live, but we can begin using some type of proportional representation system. For example, California could use a system like that in Peoria, Ill., for municipal elections. Instead of electing 40 state senators from 40 districts, voters in 10 districts could elect four senators each. Any candidate who won at least a quarter of the vote would earn a seat. These districts would be far more likely to be bipartisan, even electing some urban Republicans and rural Democrats."
Rocky Mountain News: Local: "The r[2003 Colorado Corrections Department] report found three of every four sex offenders who received no therapy reoffended, compared with one in every six for those who completed the first phase of treatment. The rate improved to one in 10 for those who finished the second phase in a minimum-security facility for sex offenders. The study examined the records of 3,338 sex offenders."
Injustice, in Secret (washingtonpost.com): "ATTORNEYS FOR the Justice Department appeared before a federal judge in Washington this month and asked him to dismiss a lawsuit over the detention of a U.S. citizen, basing their request not merely on secret evidence but also on secret legal arguments. The government contends that the legal theory by which it would defend its behavior should be immune from debate in court. This position is alien to the history and premise of Anglo-American jurisprudence, which assumes that opposing lawyers will challenge one another's arguments."
Mid-year budget gets Senate's OK | ajc.com: "The GOP-dominated Senate approved a mid-year spending plan Thursday that strips more than $20 million in favored projects added by House Republican leaders, setting up negotiations between the two chambers. The two sides met for the first time Thursday, will get together again today and then take off the weekend so some of the lawmakers can attend the Daytona 500 in Florida.
The mid-year spending plan is the initial budget test since Republicans formally took over the House last month, giving the party control of the Capitol for the first time since Reconstruction. For the first time, the three-man negotiating teams for each chamber will be made up only of Republicans."
What are lost years worth? | ajc.com: "Georgia lawmakers will soon struggle with a complex question destined to come up with increasing frequency: How much is a wrongfully convicted person's time in prison worth?"
"Three former Georgia prison inmates exonerated by DNA evidence of rape convictions are trying to put a price tag on that time. Clarence Harrison, cleared in 2004 after spending more than 17 years in prison, is seeking $1.7 million from the state. Samuel Scott, who spent nearly 16 years in prison, is asking for $1.2 million. Douglas Echols, who served 15 years, is seeking $1.6 million."
Divorce bill amended | ajc.com: "A bill that would extend the waiting period for an uncontested divorce unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, but with a significant change intended to help protect victims of domestic violence."
N.C. lawyer: 'Hold on' to openness in economic deals
N.C. lawyer: 'Hold on' to openness in economic deals | ajc.com: "While Georgia is trying to lock its talks with big companies behind closed doors, some in North Carolina — concerned about public incentives lavished on companies like Dell and Boeing without input from taxpayers — are trying to knock those doors back open.
Tar Heel lawmakers, news media and government watchdogs think limits on state open records laws have put North Carolina taxpayers at the mercy of Fortune 500 lawyers and stonewalling officials."
Virtual school will leap barriers | ajc.com: "Legislation pursued this year by Gov. Sonny Perdue is designed to give all Georgia high school students a chance to take at least two Advanced Placement courses through a new virtual network.
The Georgia Virtual School bill has been passed by both chambers of the Legislature, and, with Senate approval of minor changes, will go to Perdue for his signature. The original proposal was amended to let private or home schooled students take the free online courses, but public school students will get preference."
Abortion providers less vexed | ajc.com: "Doctors who provide abortions still oppose a bill before the General Assembly, but they welcome changes approved last week — including one allowing physicians to keep performing first-trimester abortions in their offices."
Teachers oppose Perdue faith plan | ajc.com: "Supporters of Gov. Sonny Perdue's plan to let religious organizations compete for state dollars might have God on their side. But opponents can claim a powerful presence as well — the state's teachers.
The proposal has widespread support among church leaders, but has run afoul of Georgia's two largest teacher unions — the Professional Association of Georgia Educators and the Georgia Association of Educators — whose members fear it could pave the way for private school vouchers."
UGA approved pay raise in secret | ajc.com: "The University of Georgia Real Estate Foundation's president received a 40 percent pay increase at a time when UGA was laying off staff and limiting employee raises to 2 percent."
Political Wire: Americans Want an Opposition Party: "'Americans want Democrats to stand up to Bush,' the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire reports. 'Fully 60%, including one-fourth of Republicans, say Democrats in Congress should make sure Bush and his party 'don't go too far.' Just 34% want Democrats to 'work in a bipartisan way' to help pass the president's priorities.'"
New York Daily News - Home - Daily News Exclusive: 'Brooklyn's Abu Ghraib': "Defense attorneys call it Brooklyn's Abu Ghraib. On the ninth floor of the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Sunset Park, terrorism suspects swept off the streets after the Sept. 11 attacks were repeatedly stripped naked and frequently were physically abused, the Justice Department's inspector general has found"
The Telegraph Online: "seven families are going before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, arguing that the city[New London, Conn.] has no right to take their private property solely for economic development."
The New York Times > Washington > A New Target for Advisers to Swift Vets: "Taking its cues from the success of last year's Swift boat veterans' campaign in the presidential race, a conservative lobbying organization has hired some of the same consultants to orchestrate attacks on one of President Bush's toughest opponents in the battle to overhaul Social Security."
Perdue disputes Trooper lawsuit | ajc.com: "The former head of the state patrol testified in legal documents that Gov. Sonny Perdue personally directed him to move the chief of the governor's security detail away from the mansion and promote him to a job for which he was not qualified."
AMERICAblog: Because a great nation deserves the truth: "A news producer for a major network just told me that [Jeff] Gannon [the alias using male escort 'journalist'] told the producer the US was going to attack Iraq four hours before President Bush announced it to the nation."
State nails smokers who didn't pay taxes: "In a bold push to catch tax scofflaws, the [Michigan] state Treasury Department has subpoenaed the online retailers in other states to get the names, addresses and purchase records of Michiganders who bought cigarettes from them. In virtually all cases, such sales do not include the cigarette tax that must be paid to the state, regardless of who the seller is or how much is purchased."