The Vancouver Sun has always been a lousy paper, but it has really taken a turn for the worse since my last visit.
Today's front page headlines from the print edition:
"Did B.C. help fund gangster's burial?"--Capitalism is lying in ruins and the Sun's big story is that an alleged drug trafficker may have received a $1050 burial benefit to which he may not have been entitled.
"Frozen Water [sic] Caused Tower Collapse"--A legit news item about a gondola accident at a ski hill, but I believe there's a more concise term for that stuff.
"Cold? This isn't cold, I'll tell you what cold is"--An opinion piece about the weather by Stephen Hume.
Further inside the "A" section:
"Clothes, common sense key to surviving cold"--Nudity a poor coping strategy for winter weather, experts say. Sun readers reminded to wear coats, hats and gloves.
An opinion piece bemoaning the epidemic of charities luring donors with unwanted customized mailing labels.
Noted religious-right-watcher Sarah Posner writes: "Now it has officially gone too far: Democrats, in their zeal to appear friendly to evangelical voters, have chosen celebrity preacher and best-selling author Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at Barack Obama's inauguration."
I don't think there should be an inaugural prayer in the first place.
The state shouldn't be aggrandizing Rick Warren. This is exactly the kind of favorite-playing that the separation of church and state is supposed to prevent.
Warren is making a bid for mainstream political legitimacy and Obama has been helping him at every turn in order to score points with evangelical voters. So far, Obama has teamed up with Warren for at least two World AIDS Days, that presidential candidates forum at the Saddleback Church, and now this.
This isn't just an abstract church/state debate. Warren is a powerful player who wants to shape US policy.
As Sarah Posner explains, Warren is a masterful mainstreamer of extreme evangelical dogmas. He has repeatedly described abortion as a "holocaust," directed his followers to vote for the repeal of gay marriage in California, and advocated US government sponsored assassination as a tool to fight "Evil."
A common theme is beginning to emerge in right wing critiques of health care reform. These critics aren't worried that government run health insurance won't work. On the contrary, they're openly warning that it will work too well and people will like it too much. Republicans are predicting that government-run insurance will be cheaper, more popular than private insurance, and more politically popular for Democrats.
Norm Coleman wants to use campaign funds to pay his high-powered criminal defense attorneys in the Kazeminy affair:
“We intend to have any legal fees related to what we believe to be a politically inspired legal action to be covered by the senator’s campaign," said Coleman spokesman Luke Friedrich.
The tactic may be risky: The Federal Election Commission allows elected officials to use their war chests to pay legal bills only if the action/investigations arise as a result of their tenure in office or campaigns.
Many of the allegations against Coleman and his wife pre-date the as-yet undecided race against Franken -- even though Coleman has argued the matter only came to light as a result of the campaign. [Politico]
Coleman's argument for tapping his campaign coffers as told to Politico is ridiculous. Coleman needs a lawyer because the FBI is investigating allegations that his friend Nasser Kazeminy milked a Texas oil services company for a lot of money and sent some of it to Norm and Laurie Coleman.
Papers were filed in the two lawsuits shortly before the election. There is no evidence that either of the groups suing Coleman's sugar daddy, Nasser Kazeminy, were intending to influence the outcome of the election.
The main guy suing Coleman in Texas is the former CEO of the oil services company, a self-proclaimed Republican whose beef is with Kazeminy, not Coleman. The CEO had a motive to get his lawsuit out first because he knew he was about to get sued in Delaware by angry shareholders for allegedly colluding with Kazeminy to fleece the company.
In the past, the Federal Elections Commission has ruled that candidates can only use campaign funds to defend themselves against lawsuits pertaining to their campaign activities or official duties.
There is a better argument for allowing Coleman to tap his campaign funds for his legal defense, but if I were the senator, I wouldn't want to go there.
Maybe Nasser Kazeminy's infamous (alleged) assertion that he wanted to give Coleman money because "U.S. Senators don't make ----" makes Coleman eligible to use campaign funds. Because, if Kazeminy said and did what the lawsuits allege, he would have been paying Coleman because of his position, regardless of whether he expected official acts in return.
Tenet is bitter towards the Bush administration after getting unceremoniously kicked out of the house in 2004. He believes he was unfairly blamed for the invasion of Iraq.
Tenet famously said the intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was a "slam dunk"--a remark he claims the Bush administration twisted out of context.
Tenet probably has a point: The Saddam's non-existent WMD program was just one of several redundant rationalizations that the Bush administration floated simultaneously to justify a plan they hatched before Bush even took office.
So, the fact that Tenet mishandled the intelligence makes him just one guilty party among many.
According to a solicitation released earlier this week by the coalition headquarters at Bagram Airfield, the military is looking for a contractor to run something called the "Armed Contractor Oversight Directorate." The work statement says the new office will be responsible for tracking private security companies (PSCs) -- and keeping tabs on how often they resort to force.
Among other tasks, the new office must "identify all PSC incidents to include the use of graduated force procedures and weapons discharges"; "track the status of all ongoing investigations involving PSC weapons discharges"; and "maintain regular contact with Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Ministry of Interior or their representative to identify issues concerning Department of Defense (DOD) contracted PSC’s actions, incidents and procedures."[Danger Room]
Here's the distinguished producer of Infernal Machines, Sherisse Rogers--who is also a bandleader, composer, arranger, and bass player.
Sherisse has traveled the world from the Brazil to the Netherlands immersing herself in diverse musical traditions and incorporating fresh ideas into her own expanding repertoire.
She's seen here unloading some gear at Bennett Studios on day one of the recording of the album Infernal Machines by Secret Society.