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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Former Brigadier General Janis Karpinski to Speak on Abu Ghraib in Santa Fe

Karpinski2Santa Fe, NM—The Northern New Mexico Chapter of the ACLU-NM is bringing Janis Karpinski, the former brigadier general in charge of the American military prison system in Iraq from July 2003 until May 2005, and author of the book One Woman’s Army – The Commanding General of Abu Ghraib Tells Her Story, to Santa Fe.

She arrives in Santa Fe on Wednesday, February 1, 2006 for a four-day stay that begins with a Press Conference in the State Capitol Rotunda at 3:00 PM and concludes with a two-evening presentation and book signing from 6 - 9 PM at the James A. Little Theater on Friday and Saturday evenings, February 3rd and 4th.

At her press conference, Janis Karpinski, scapegoated by the Bush administration for the Abu Ghraib scandal, will present compelling evidence showing how the lines of responsibility for the torture and degradation of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison go to the top echelons of the White House and Department of Defense.

She has since said, “If my superiors expected me to accept their version of events and go away meekly, they made a mistake of strategic proportions.”

In support of that statement, she is prepared to pull out the stops by discussing:

  • What she knew and when she knew it.
  • Her testimony at the final session of the International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration held January 20-22, 2006 in New York City.  (The verdict is to be delivered on February 2 in Washington, DC.)
  • The ill treatment of women in the military deployed to Iraq – sexual harassment, assaults, rape and suicides – subjects not only inadequately investigated but, for the most part, hushed up by the military brass.
  • Senior military leaders who abandoned military leadership responsibilities to focus on the political implications of each decision made and report rendered.
  • The taking of the Fifth by Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, formerly commandant of Guantanamo Bay, and his refusing to provide testimony at the Courts Martial of soldiers because immunity was not an option.
  • Col. Thomas Pappas, the Military Intelligence Commander at Abu Ghraib, who has been given immunity and may finally reveal who gave the orders to treat prisoners more harshly and when the harsher treatment began.
  • How some “leaders” apparently sought to model prisons in Iraq on the prison at Guantanamo Bay (GITMO) and “how idiotic and naive the plans and planners were to believe such an operation was feasible.”
  • * The truth behind Bush administration assertions that troops will be withdrawn when conditions on the ground warrant. As one of the highest-ranking officers in Iraq, she was part of the Army’s struggle to meet with the demands placed upon it — a struggle that may not be sustainable for long enough to defeat the insurgency and that risks a "catastrophic decline" in recruitment and reenlistment.
  • Why a culture of cowardice permeates the senior military ranks and is seen as a means of self-preservation and the only route to promotion.
  • Corruption among civilian contractors.

Prepare for a no-holds-barred discussion of these and other topics concerning Abu Ghraib, the situation in Iraq and its implications for this country and our cherished American freedoms and civil liberties.

January 31, 2006 at 04:16 PM in Events, Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Click to Support Paper Ballot Voting Machine Bills

United Voters of New Mexico and Verified Voting New Mexico, together with VoteTrustUSA have launched a Citizen Action in support of Paper Ballots in New Mexico. Please click here to send a message to your New Mexico Legislators in support of HB 430 and SB 295! For background on these bills, click here for an excellent post on the VoteTrustUSA site.

UPDATE: The Senate Rules Committee is scheduled to hear Senator Linda Lopez's SB295, Require Paper Ballots For All Voting Systems, on Wednesday, February 1, at 8:30 AM in the Roundhouse, Room 321.

January 31, 2006 at 03:12 PM in Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

LAST CHANCE: RSVP for Voter Action NM Dinner Event

As many of you know, Voter Action NM is the excellent activist group behind the NM voters' lawsuit against the use of unreliable touchscreen voting machines, as well as other election reform actions that are resulting in successes like moving the Governor to support purchasing paper ballot voting machines for the entire state.

To carry out such a lawsuit and other actions takes money. If we don't help with that, who will?

I urge you to RSVP TODAY for this benefit for Voter Action. In order for the event to go forward we need more people to buy tickets NOW. You need to call and reserve tickets before this coming Friday and submit payment.

I know the dinner, dance and silent auction will be a fun event and an excellent opportunity to connect with other election reform activists. If we don't want another fraudulent election, it's up to us to support events like this that make effective action possible.

Please call one of the people listed below TODAY!

VOTER ACTION NEW MEXICO
Valentine's Day
Dinner, Dance & Silent Auction
6 PM Saturday
February 11, 2006
Albuquerque Wool Warehouse

516 1st Street NW, Albuquerque, NM

Music by the Bleeker Street Boys
Dinner: vegetarian lasagna or chicken cordon bleu
Admission: $35 suggested donation
MUST CALL & ARRANGE PAYMENT BEFORE SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 3, TO RESERVE:

MUST CALL & ARRANGE PAYMENT BEFORE FEBRUARY 3 TO RESERVE:

Jane Ronca-Washburn 323.6162
Ana Canales 275.1283
Barbara Neher 797.1322
Ardis Hanish 268.5761
Liz McMaster 255.5965

Make checks payable to: IH Center/Voter Action

Voter Action is a project of the International Humanities Center

January 31, 2006 at 10:11 AM in Events, Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 30, 2006

Alito: Hall of Cowards

The filibuster against Alito was stymied. Votes for cloture (and against filibuster): 72. Votes against cloture (and for filibuster): 25.

Here's the list of the 19 Dem Senators who betrayed the traditional principles of the Democratic Party and decided they couldn't "risk" supporting a filibuster. Many of them will vote no on the Alito nomination. However, they apparently didn't see any reason to go on the record as opposing Alito with no holds barred. Alito, one of the most divisive and dangerous nominees to the Supreme Court in decades, gets a pass. This bunch didn't even see any value in prolonging debate long enough to stop Bush from declaring victory and showcasing Alito at tomorrow's State of the Union. Whose side are they on?

A no vote on the nomination without supporting a filibuster is almost worse than a vote for Alito. If you read the scathing commentary on Alito of many of these spineless Dems, you'll wonder how they could decline to stand and fight with a filibuster. To me, they are nothing more than weak advocates who run and hide when the vile Republican spin machine threatens them. The least they could have done was to abstain from the cloture vote, as Tom Harkin (D-IA) did.

Democratic Hall of Cowards:
Daniel Akaka, HI
Max Baucus, MT
Jeff Bingaman, D-NM (more on this soon)
Robert Byrd, D-WV
Maria Cantwell, D-WA
Tom Carper, D-DE
Kent Conrad, D-ND
Byron Dorgan, D-ND
Daniel Inouye, D-HI
Tim Johnson, D-SD
Herb Kohl, D-WI
Mary Landrieu, D-LA
Joe Lieberman, D-CT
Blanche Lincoln, D-AR
Ben Nelson, D-NE
Bill Nelson, D-FL
Mark Pryor, D-AR
Jay Rockefeller, D-WVA
Ken Salazar, D-CO

As Bob Fertig says on Democrats.com:

So why did these Democrats decide to stab us all in the back? For one simple reason: because we let them.

Democratic candidates - at every level - take us, the Democratic base, completely for granted. They ask us for money and we give it to them - with no strings attached. They ask us for votes and we give it to them - with no strings attached. They are not accountable because we don't hold them accountable. That must change.

You might say.

A late addition from Maryscott O'Connor's diary on Daily Kos about this travesty, which mentions an absurd interaction with a staffer at Jeff Bingaman's office. Read it. And then think about how way too many Democrats think of the Democratic base as a powerless entity they don't have to even deal with seriously. Or even with any degree of respect.

Alitofucked_1

Hey Bingaman staffers, did you get those 2000 calls in 20 minutes? Oh I know, it wouldn't matter if you did, unless it was from those campaign contributors with the deep pockets...

Here's today's floor statement by Kerry.

January 30, 2006 at 04:42 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (18)

Minimum Wage Vote Tomorrow!

The Senate Public Affairs Committee will vote on the Governor’s proposal, Senate Bill 449, sponsored by Senator Ben Altamirano, tomorrow, Tuesday, at 2:30 in Room 321. We have to let the Senate know that a three-year phase-in to $7.50 with no indexing to inflation is not enough!  Please call committee members before 2:30 PM tomorrow and tell them:

“Amend SB 449 to include indexing and no three-year phase in.”

Democrats: Dede Feldman Chair ( 986-4482), Senator Mary Jane M. Garcia Vice Chair (986-4726), Gerald Ortiz y Pino (986-4380), Senator Mary Kay Papen (986-4270), Senator James G. Taylor (986-4862)

Republicans: Senator Steve Komadina (986-4377), Senator Stuart Ingle (986-4702), Senator Gay G. Kernan (986-4274), Senator Steven P. Neville (986-986-4266)

Last Call for Lobby Day: Join us for the Fair Wage Lobby Day, tomorrow, Tuesday.  Meet us on the east side of the roundhouse at 10:30, or email us to get a seat on one of our buses leaving Albuquerque at 9:00 AM (nmacorn@acorn.org).

January 30, 2006 at 02:30 PM in Events, Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Bush Coming to ABQ Thursday

1/31 UPDATE: According to an article in the Albuquerque Tribune, Bush will participate in a panel discussion on science research and education at Intel in Rio Rancho on Friday.

KOB-TV says:
WASHINGTON (AP) - White House spokesman Scott McClellan says that President George Bush will spend Thursday night in Albuquerque and speak Friday, but he has not released any details.

McClellan says Bush will travel around the country after tomorrow’s State of the Union address to give a series of policy speeches laying out his 2006 agenda.

McClellan says the president is scheduled to give four major policy speeches this week in Nashville, Tennessee; Maplewood, Minnesota; Albuquerque and Dallas.

January 30, 2006 at 01:40 PM in Events, Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Last Chance to Urge Bingaman to Support Filibuster

Even ex-Republican, now Independent Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont is supporting a filibuster against Alito:

Statement of Sen. Jim Jeffords, I-Vt. On Alito Cloture Vote January 30, 2006: I believe Judge Alito's appointment to the United States Supreme Court will shift the balance of the court for years, perhaps decades to come. I also believe that his judicial philosophy leans too far in favor of presidential powers. There is too much at stake for our country to allow this to happen. I will vote to oppose cloture on this nomination.

How can a Democrat like Senator Bingaman do less? Call him at one of his local offices or his DC number or use one of these toll-free numbers to reach him via the Senate switchboard: 888-355-3588 or 888-818-6641.

Tell him it's worth going all out to stop the extremist Alito even if we don't have the votes to filibuster. If we don't fight for what's right, how can we ever gain converts to Democratic positions?

January 30, 2006 at 11:51 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (5)

Medical Marijuana Bill Clears NM Senate Judiciary Committee

From Kate Nash's Albuquerque Tribune Roundhouse Report:
A bill allowing medical use of marijuana took a step forward Friday when the Senate Judiciary Committee approved it 7-3. A full Senate vote could come as early as Tuesday.

The bill, SB258, creates a program in the state Department of Health to which doctors could refer patients with debilitating medical conditions, such as cancer or AIDS. Patients who were certified by the department could possess marijuana without risk of state prosecution, although they could not grow it.

David Murray, special assistant to the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said medical marijuana proponents were engaged in a "manipulative and cynical" effort, using suffering patients to promote their agenda.

But Sen. Rod Adair, a Roswell Republican, said "the regular dope-smoker is not sitting around hoping we would pass this."

Editor's Note: SB258, entitled the "Lynn Pierson Compassionate Use Act," is sponsored by Sen. Cisco McSorley. Click to Contact your Senator about this bill.

Detailed coverage on the hearing is provided by Santa Fe New Mexican, which reports on the very negative testimony from a special assistant of the federal drug czar. Both Republicans and Democrats were very critical of his testimony.

Prior to its "do pass" from the Judiciary Committee, the bill passed the Senate Public Affairs Committee unanimously. Here's an article on the SPAC hearing on the bill from the Santa Fe New Mexican. An Albuquerque Journal article reports that Governor Richardson supports the bill:

Gov. Bill Richardson on Tuesday reiterated his backing for it and said a "substantial'' portion of the public agrees.

"I think there have got to be strict standards. But for those that are suffering ... I support it,'' the governor said.

January 30, 2006 at 10:21 AM in Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sunday (Filibuster) Bird Blogging

Bosco the peach-faced lovebird is very angry about what the BushCo Republicans have been doing lately.I'm sorry to report that his restraint crumbled this morning and he viciously attacked his monkey acrobat toy:

Dscn0801

Yes, I'm afraid that Bosco realized just how much that monkey resembles Bush. He's well aware that Dubya most resembles a chimp:

Bushmonkey1

But but I guess a monkey visage of any kind was enough to provoke Bosco in this political climate. Just think what he'll do if the Democratic Party doesn't rein in its Senators and insist they join in the filibuster. It won't be pretty. His donkey toys are already trembling. Bosco says that if the Party can't achieve unity on the horrible Alito nomination, what CAN they achieve unity on?   

Here's a plea from Sen. Ted Kennedy urging us to continue the struggle to get the votes needed for a filibuster, and an updated look at strategy on Daily Kos. Insiders are reporting that the situation is still "fluid" and that there's still a chance we can get the required votes to stop cloture. Recent additions to the list of Senators supporting a filibuster: Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama, Joe Biden, Diane Feinstein and Harry Reid. Our own Sen. Bingaman, however, has so far refused to support it, though he is voting no on Alito. Let's see if we can change his mind.

Annatopia is reporting we are just TWO VOTES SHY.

Recommended: Flood the Senate switchboard with calls at 9AM EST (7AM MST): You can  use these toll-free numbers (and ask for the Senators by name): 888-355-3588 or 888-818-6641.

January 29, 2006 at 01:13 PM in Bird Blogging | Permalink | Comments (2)

A Conversation About Senior Issues: AG Patricia Madrid & Cong. Steny Hoyer

Please join
Attorney General
Patricia Madrid
&
Congressman
Steny Hoyer

for
A Conversation About Senior Issues
Including
Medicare, Prescription Drug Prices

Monday, January 30th, 10 AM
Los Volcanes Senior Center
6500 Los Volcanes, NW

For more information, call 242-6000

January 29, 2006 at 11:52 AM in Democratic Party, Events, Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Sen. Ortiz y Pino Sponsors Memorial Asking Governor to Recall Troops

From New Mexico Senate Democrats:
SANTA FE, NM – State Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino (D-Bernalillo) has entered Senate Memorial 11 that calls upon Governor Bill Richardson to exercise his authority as Commander in Chief of the New Mexico National Guard to recall the troops from duty in Iraq.

“I think it is needed because a disproportionate number of the casualties and fighting in Iraq is being conducted by National Guard troops,” says Senator Ortiz y Pino. “They are bearing the brunt of the ill conceived and almost certainly failing effort in Iraq, making it possible for the regular Army and regular Marine Corps units to avoid from dealing with the real full consequences of it.”

The legislation states there are 529 Army and Air National Guard Troops from New Mexico serving in Iraq today. It says that the troops were originally deployed because of concern there were weapons of mass destruction. Since no weapons of mass destruction found, the legislation calls upon the Governor to call the New Mexico troops home.

The Memorial is currently in the Senate Rules Committee. Supporters are urged to contact the committee's members to urge its passage.

January 28, 2006 at 06:41 PM in Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, January 27, 2006

Some NM County Clerks Balk As Paper Ballot Legislation Moves Forward

Click for an excellent summary of the paper ballot voting machine issues being considered by the NM Legislature by Warren Stewart of Vote Trust USA. The piece provides commentary on the response to Governor Richardson's initiative to purchase the machines for the entire state by Mary Herrera and some other county clerks. Excerpts:

"Mary Herrera indicates an inexplicable resistance by some to Governor Richardson's initiative to have a standardized voting system based on paper ballots in New Mexico," said Paul Stokes of United Voters of New Mexico. "Sure, the county clerks have work to do to get the new voting system in place. But most of that work is necessary anyway, because new voting systems must be in place by the November election to satisfy the requirements of the Help American Vote Act for accessibility by disabled voters. Eleven counties already use paper ballots, so the new system will be a minimal change for them. An additional eight counties have already ordered the equipment needed to implement a paper ballot voting system. The remaining New Mexico counties should be following their lead. "

... Election activist Terry Riley commented that "there is enough information available about the problems with the touch screen...machines that will guarantee legal challenges in any state that uses them. Paper ballots will give the public confidence that their vote can be checked manually if the electronic tabulating systems are questioned."

January 27, 2006 at 05:10 PM in Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (2)