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re:dnc cleans out floridas democratic prez candidate womb

~Judge Allows Dems to Penalize Florida

Published: 12/5/07, 4:26 PM EDT


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - The Democratic National Committee can penalize the Florida party by stripping the state of its convention delegates because it is holding an early presidential primary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled in favor of the DNC in a lawsuit by Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Alcee Hastings, both Florida Democrats. Nelson and Hastings had argued that state Democrats were being illegally penalized for the state having the primary earlier than national rules allow.

But Hinkle said that political parties have a First Amendment right to set their own rules and enforce them. The national party did that, which means that Florida will not have a say in picking the Democratic nominee.

Florida's primary is Jan. 29. But Democratic Party rules say states cannot hold their 2008 primary contests before Feb. 5, except for Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina. The calendar was designed to preserve the traditional role Iowa and New Hampshire have played in selecting the nominee, while including two states - Nevada and South Carolina - in the early mix to add geographic and racial and ethnic diversity.

The Democratic National Committee welcomed the decision.

"We're pleased the court ruled in our favor, recognizing the constitutionally protected right of the Democratic National Committee to enforce its rules and treat all state Democratic parties in a fair and equal way," said Democratic National Committee Communications Director Karen Finney.

Hinkle said he wanted to issue a quick oral decision because there was some urgency in the case. He planned to issue a written decision by Monday, but anticipated that would not be the last word in the case.

Nelson's lawyers were still in the courthouse and not immediately available for comment.~



~Tax, Spending Issues Frustrate Democrats

Published: 12/7/07, 5:25 AM EDT


WASHINGTON (AP) - Cracks are emerging in congressional Democrats' solidarity, as frustrated lawmakers concede their majority status is not enough to overcome Republican resistance on taxes, spending, Iraq and a host of other issues.

The fissures, which became obvious this week, are undermining Democrats' hopes for several key achievements this year. They also point to a bruising 2008 election in which Democrats will say Republicans blocked prudent tax and spending plans to score political points on immigration and other hot-button issues.

Republicans say they simply want to prevent higher taxes of any kind, even if the targets are not-so-sympathetic groups such as oil companies and hedge fund managers.

After 11 months of insisting that all major programs be paid for with tax increases or spending cuts elsewhere, Senate Democratic leaders acknowledged Thursday they cannot persuade enough Republicans to join them. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., reluctantly allowed a vote on a long-debated middle-class tax cut that would add billions of dollars to the deficit because it is not offset elsewhere.

The measure, which the Senate approved 88-5, would prevent the alternative minimum tax from hitting about 25 million more taxpayers, at a cost of about $50 billion to the U.S. treasury next year. Reid's decision puts the Senate at odds with the House with two weeks left before the holiday recess.

House Democratic leaders still insist on a pay-as-you-go policy, or "pay-go," which they made a centerpiece of their governing principles in January.

Reid told reporters Thursday that Senate Republicans have used their filibuster powers to block Democratic efforts to change Iraq policy, move a farm bill and pay for the proposed one-year "fix" to the alternative minimum tax. He especially complained about Republican demands to offer farm bill amendments dealing with state drivers licenses for illegal immigrants.

"We've tried everything we can to address these issues," Reid said, citing 57 GOP filibuster threats this year.

"We have lived by pay-go," Reid said regarding the tax bill. "But what we want everyone to know is that we have tried every alternative possible."

He acknowledged handing a political dilemma to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. The House earlier passed an AMT bill that would raise $80 billion in new taxes, largely on investors and hedge fund managers.

"I admire the speaker" for adhering to the pay-as-you-go principle, Reid said. He added, however, she "has a little more flexibility from a procedural perspective than I do."

Reid's decision will force a pivotal decision by House Democrats: Should they infuriate millions of voters by leaving the AMT unchanged (and hope Republicans get blamed), or abandon the pay-go promise and possibly rely heavily on Republican votes to pass a bill that splits Democrats.

"If we waive pay-go on this, I think it opens the door" to further actions that would raise the deficit and "border on criminal irresponsibility," said Rep. John Tanner, D-Tenn.

Meanwhile Thursday, congressional Democrats said they face an uphill battle in trying to overcome Senate GOP objections to a House-passed energy bill. Republicans particularly oppose the proposed rollback of $13.5 billion in tax breaks for major oil companies.

"You can't tax your way to energy independence," House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters.

If the Senate cannot overcome the GOP-led resistance, Democratic senators said they may have to jettison provisions important to many House Democrats: the tax provisions and requirements for greater use of renewable energy such as wind, solar and biofuels.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said such a move would be difficult for the House to swallow. "The tax part is just as important as any other part" of the energy bill, he said.

As for the Iraq war, congressional Democrats on Thursday sent their strongest signal yet that they are resigned to providing additional funds without forcing President Bush to alter his policies. The plan is virtually certain to divide House Democrats. Like the AMT legislation, it may require significant Republican support to pass.

Democrats, who sometimes seem incredulous at their inability to budge the GOP on tax, spending and war issues, say Republicans will pay dearly at the polls. "There is a sense they are digging their own grave," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said.

Some Republicans agree there is a risk in repeatedly blocking Democratic-crafted bills, especially if the chief beneficiaries appear to be big oil companies or wealthy investors.

"The strategy is to lay low and then blame them for not getting anything done," Republican Rep. Ray LaHood of Illinois said in an interview. "The truth is, we all lose."

"We trash each other and end up making the institution look bad," LaHood said. "That's why Congress' approval ratings are so low."~


re:obey shows petty vindictiveness over trying to get others to obey him

~Democrat May Scuttle Spending Bill

Published: 12/10/07, 8:25 PM EDT


WASHINGTON (AP) - Efforts to pass a massive compromise federal spending bill stalled Monday as a top House Democrat threatened to abandon the measure, accusing the White House and congressional Republicans of failing to bargain in good faith.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., had been working with moderate Republicans to try to generate momentum for a catchall spending bill that split the differences between increases sought by Democrats and the strict budget submitted by President Bush in February.

But after a White House veto threat over the weekend, a frustrated Obey said he would rip up the compromise bill and devise a new one using the strict spending ceiling set by Bush - but would reach it by whacking GOP priorities and stripping the measure of billions of dollars in pet projects for lawmakers in both parties.

Obey took the step after the White House and weekend news accounts suggested Democrats were willing to trade $50 billion-$70 billion in new Iraq war funds for just a few billion in domestic programs. He wants to break the perceived linkage, which had whipped up the liberal anti-war blogosphere.

Obey's move came on the day he had been expected to unveil the bill, with a vote planned for Tuesday. The Senate had been anticipated to take up the bill later in the week, add funding for Iraq and make some final trims to Democrats' spending plans.

White House budget director Jim Nussle said Saturday that Bush would veto the omnibus spending bill sight unseen for exceeding Bush's budget by $18 billion.

"It is extraordinary that the President would request an 11 percent increase for the Department of Defense, a 12 percent increase for foreign aid, and $195 billion of emergency funding for the war, while asserting that a 4.7 percent increase for domestic programs is fiscally irresponsible," said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.

Nussle had accused Democrats of "trying to leverage troop-funding for more pork-barrel spending," but Obey said the opposite is true - that the White House was willing to relent just slightly on domestic spending in order to obtain up to $70 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I don't see any purpose in stringing things out for table scraps," Obey said, threatening to cut off negotiations and produce a bill - at Bush's strict budget number - without any GOP help.

"Short of having somebody in authority sit down and say, 'OK, we will work out a reasonable compromise,' I don't see any point in prolonging the agony," Obey said. "I don't see how we have any choice but to go to the president's numbers on appropriations to make clear that we aren't going to link the war with token funding on the domestic side."

Obey's sentiments weren't universally shared among Democrats. Byrd, for one, still hoped to work out an agreement.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., met Monday afternoon with GOP counterpart Mitch McConnell of Kentucky about the omnibus measure and other end-of-session issues. But the meeting failed to get the mega-bill back on track.

"Actions have consequences and unless some sort of reasonable compromise is reached, this may be where we're headed," said Reid spokesman Jim Manley.

The omnibus plan had been under discussion for more than three weeks and would have represented the best hope for avoiding a budget train wreck like the stalemate last year under GOP rule.

The measure under development would roll together 11 unfinished spending bills funding every domestic Cabinet agency, as well as a foreign aid budget that's trimmed back from Bush's request.

The bill contained about $30 billion for U.S. efforts in Afghanistan, but Democratic leaders anticipate that Senate Republicans would have added to the measure up to $40 billion more for military operations in Iraq.

"They keep raising the ante," Obey said. "Now they're up to $70 billion (for Iraq and Afghanistan). I don't want to be part of any deal like that."

Obey's comments appeared aimed in part at encouraging the sizable bloc of pragmatic Republicans supporting the split-the-differences bill to press GOP leaders to make concessions or risk losing funding for favored programs and hometown projects.

The infusion of war funds was expected to siphon off votes from anti-war Democrats, making it extremely difficult to assembled a hoped for veto-proof coalition of Democrats and GOP moderates for the bill.

On Monday,, a leading liberal advocacy group, called on lawmakers to oppose any war funding measure that does not include a timetable for withdrawing troops.

The bill under development includes almost $11 billion above Bush's overall figure for the one-third of the U.S. budget appropriated each year by Congress, as well as $7.4 billion in emergency spending for pressing needs like border security and State Department operations in Iraq.

Most of the emergency money was either requested by the White House or receives strongest backing from Republicans. Even items not officially requested by the White House budget office were requested by agency chiefs, Obey said.

"Most of that emergency spending is theirs," Obey said.

Of the $11 billion increase Democrats sought for other programs, much of the money would have gone to reverse budget cuts sought by Bush to programs such as grants to state and local governments for law enforcement, community development, and water and sewer projects.

The bill also would have provided small increases for health research, education and community health centers, among other programs. Homeland security grants to state and local police and firefighters would have received a $726 million boost, some 20 percent.~


re:effect of iran nuke report on israels perspective

~Israel Feels Alone After Report on Iran

Published: 12/5/07, 4:26 PM EDT


JERUSALEM (AP) - A U.S. intelligence assessment that Iran has stopped developing atomic weapons is putting a burden on the Jewish state, which has long relied on Washington to lead the international charge against Iran's nuclear ambitions.

With the U.S. now less likely to take military action, an increasingly nervous Israel might feel compelled to strike out on its own if it perceives a dangerous threat.

Israeli officials say their intelligence forces believe Iran is still working aggressively to build nuclear arms. The Islamic regime in Tehran is strongly opposed to Israel's existence and frequently boasts of its ability to strike the Jewish state with long-range missiles.

"The situation can become tense if they (the Israelis) decided their red line has been crossed," said David Albright, a former U.N. nuclear inspector who now heads the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security. "They may force a military confrontation."

A summary made public Monday of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iran concluded the Iranians suspended their attempt to build a nuclear weapon four years ago, leading to increased calls within the U.S. for a less confrontational approach to Tehran.

"This forces the Israelis to make a decision instead of being able to take some comfort that the U.S. would take action at some point," said Wayne White, former deputy director of the State Department's Middle East Intelligence Office.

"With Israel, you can be sure they will be unwilling to tolerate as much risk as the U.S. ... because they can get hit," he said.

Israel sees Iran as its greatest threat and maintains that country is aggressively pursuing a nuclear weapons program. It responded to the report with a mixture of skepticism and veiled irritation.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that despite Washington's assessment, his own intelligence analysis indicates Iran is still trying to develop a nuclear weapon.

"We cannot allow ourselves to rest just because of an intelligence report from the other side of the Earth, even if it is from our greatest friend," Barak said.

Meeting with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Wednesday, Israeli President Shimon Peres said many intelligence assessments around the world have later turned out to have been inaccurate, a statement from his office said.

He did not refer specifically to the flawed 2002 U.S. intelligence estimate of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program.

Iran's military said last month it had produced a new missile with a range of 1,200 miles capable of reaching Israel and U.S. bases across the Mideast.

Peres, who as Defense Ministry director general in the 1960s spearheaded the development of Israel's own nuclear program, told Albright that Iran's heavy investment in missiles could only be intended to deliver a nuclear payload.

"There is absolutely no justification for developing such missiles and equipping them with a conventional warhead," he said.

Israel has never confirmed or denied possessing nuclear weapons, but it is widely believed to have a formidable atomic stockpile.

In 1981 Israeli warplanes penetrated deep into Iraq to destroy an unfinished nuclear reactor near Baghdad to prevent its use in a weapons program.

Israel has since taken delivery of about 80 aircraft fitted with long-range fuel tanks that would allow them to reach Iran, and it has acquired three German-built submarines reportedly capable of firing nuclear-armed missiles, with two more under construction.

Israel says it prefers a diplomatic resolution to the Iran nuclear issue, but has not ruled out taking military action itself if necessary. Israel lives with the memory of the Nazi Holocaust and has vowed never again to rely on anyone but itself to safeguard its people.

Iran funds Islamic groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, both openly dedicated to Israel's destruction, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said Israel should be "wiped off the map."

The mood in the Israeli military command after this week's U.S. assessment is one of isolation and disappointment, but nobody is talking about any imminent Israeli strike against Iran, defense officials said Wednesday. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the need not to appear at odds with U.S. policy.

Yossi Melman, veteran defense writer for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, said that if the U.S. view of Iran's nuclear status is correct, it actually reduces the threat to Israel and the likelihood of independent military action.

"If Iran is not heading for a nuclear weapon then you don't need a military option," he said, adding that for Israeli officials a strike was never a very likely choice.

"Israel's ability to carry out a military operation in Iran is limited," he said. "It's possible but limited."

Such a mission would be far more complex that the 1981 Iraq raid, experts say.

It would require heavy precision-guided bombs that can slice into underground bunkers, manned aircraft to bombard multiple targets and possibly commandos on the ground to make sure weapons materials are destroyed.

Melman said Israel's next step could be to redouble its own intelligence efforts in an attempt to prove its case, but that might antagonize the U.S. agencies.

"If Israel didn't have a smoking gun before, why should it find one now?" he said. "If they had the evidence they would have given it to the Americans and influenced their report."


Associated Press writer Steve Weizman has been reporting from the Middle East since 1985.


Associated Press writer Carley Petesch contributed to this report from New York.~


re:an attempt to turn 'gun control' into race subject?

~Black Pa. Lawmakers Walk Out in Protest

Published: 12/5/07, 8:05 PM EDT


HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Black lawmakers from the state's urban areas, frustrated in their efforts to get a vote on gun control measures, walked out of a House session in protest Wednesday.

A majority of members of the House Legislative Black Caucus, all Democrats, are from Philadelphia, where 369 people were killed this year through Monday. About 80 percent of the deaths involved handguns.

"It's time for our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to understand that this issue, when it comes to saving lives in our various districts, is extremely important to us," said Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, the caucus chairman. Sixteen lawmakers walked out, Kirkland said.

A spokesman for Majority Leader Bill DeWeese, a Democrat, declined to comment. Democrats control the House by a single vote.

Gun bills are always contentious in the Legislature, where many Democrats represent rural areas with strong hunting constituencies and the National Rifle Association has friends among both parties' leadership.

"I think there's no appetite to do what they want to do, as far as passing additional restrictions on firearms to deal with Philadelphia," NRA lobbyist John Hohenwarter said.~


re:aclu complains about what they have fought to make possible

~Ex-Head of Arabic School Denied Old Job

Published: 12/5/07, 7:45 PM EDT


NEW YORK (AP) - The founding principal of the city's first Arabic-themed school, forced out over comments she made to a newspaper about the word "intifada," is not entitled to get her job back, a judge said in a preliminary ruling Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein said Debbie Almontaser's free-speech rights were not violated because she made the comments in her role as acting principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy in Brooklyn. Her employer, the city, has a responsibility to supervise and monitor its messages to the public, he said.

Almontaser had sued schools Chancellor Joel Klein and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. She stepped down under pressure in August after she was criticized for not condemning the use of the word "intifada" on a T-shirt made by a youth organization. Instead she discussed the history of the Arabic term, which is commonly used to refer to the Palestinian uprising against Israel.

Almontaser said the meaning of her words was distorted after she told a reporter that "intifada" stemmed from a root word meaning "shake off" and that the word has different meanings for different people but certainly implies violence to many, especially in connection with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The judge noted that she had been instructed by the press staff for the schools not to discuss the T-shirts. He rejected her requests to be reinstated and to stop the city from looking for a new principal.

Almontaser's lawsuit will proceed to a trial, but the New York Civil Liberties Union criticized the judge's ruling.

"This is just another example of how recent Supreme Court rulings are undermining constitutional rights in general and First Amendment rights in particular," said Christopher Dunn, NYCLU associate legal director. "Public employees now have every right to be worried about being fired for their speech."

City law department senior counsel James Lemonedes called the ruling well reasoned.

Several weeks ago, the city said Almontaser would not be renamed principal of the Gibran academy. It said that she had resigned to ensure the stability of the school and that the chancellor agreed with her decision and considered the matter closed.

The school, named for the Lebanese Christian poet who promoted peace, opened quietly in September with 55 sixth-grade students enrolled. It is the city's first to focus on teaching Arabic and Arab culture.~


re:short sighted folks in border towns cry over 'sales taxes' lost to tighter border security

~Border Tightening Slows Holiday Business

Published: 12/8/07, 7:46 AM EDT


LAREDO, Texas (AP) - Unlike past Christmas holidays, Adriana Aguilar won't be joining the festive get-togethers this year with friends and family just across the Texas-Mexico line in Nuevo Laredo.

Aguilar, a U.S. citizen living in this bustling border town, simply isn't willing to endure what she expects will be new, agonizingly long waits at security checkpoints along the border.

Stepped-up inspections of border crossers is slowing the ever-growing lines of traffic at the Laredo points of entry. And it could get worse. In less than two months, U.S. citizens will no longer be allowed to enter the country just by announcing their citizenship - they'll have to prove it.

The changes are raising concerns that people like Aguilar will stay away from the border, damaging economies on both sides. Laredo officials say 40 percent of local retail activity depends on cross-border traffic.

Maria Luisa O'Connell, president of the Phoenix-based Border Trade Alliance, said border cities are concerned they'll lose retail sales tax.

"Instead of choosing to travel to come shopping and have dinner four times, they're going to choose to do it only once," she said. "It's a huge income concern for cities in the U.S. ... What we're worried about is the perception that people will say, 'Why bother?' if it is going to be hard to cross."

The Texas Border Coalition, a group of local officials, asked President Bush in a letter last month to do something about the long wait times before Christmas.

Eagle Pass Mayor Chad Foster, the coalition's chairman, said he would encourage the government to operate like any commercial entity and move the lines along: "I'd do everything to be sure the customers come back and visit my store."

Traffic is particularly heavy on weekends, with lines extending many blocks into Nuevo Laredo.

"It'll be even longer in a couple of weeks," said Francisco Sierra, who was waiting in a line of cars to get close enough to drop off his wife so she could cross by foot to go shopping.

People waited 30-40 minutes on Friday to cross the border in Laredo, the nation's busiest checkpoint. At Eagle Pass, a small border city with a population of 26,000, the wait was 55 minutes.

Laredo Mayor Raul Salinas said such waits are normal, but he expects them to lengthen to two hours or more to cross by car as Christmas approaches.

"It'll get a little more saturated," Salinas said. "Sometimes up to two hours or more ... because the traffic is going to intensify. But as the traffic intensifies, all the lanes are being opened, there's more personnel."

Aguilar said that in three border-crossings in the last two months, she had to show a photo ID to get back into the U.S., rather than just announce her citizenship to the border agent.

Aguilar is now getting her passport in preparation for requirements going into effect next year as part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. As of Jan. 31, 2008, U.S. and Canadian citizens 19 years and older who enter at land and sea ports of entry will have to present either a passport or a photo ID plus proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman Kelly Klundt said when fully implemented, the checks should reduce the wait time.

She said any increase in ID inspections is not a dry run for January and that the "de facto process of CBP officers for years has been to ask for any supporting documentation."

The Department of Homeland Security issued a reminder Dec. 3 about the upcoming changes, and Klundt said the department is working with communities on local awareness campaigns.

But there's also concern that fewer people will cross because they've heard only vague information about the upcoming requirements or they've been warned about lengthy holiday wait times.

"People right now are confused as to what's required, when is it required," said Stan Korosec, president of the Public Border Operators Association, which represents nine publicly owned U.S.-Canada border crossings. "Then you throw in the delays and I think some people are just going to give up on it."


Customs and Border Protection:

To see border wait times on the CBP Web site:

Texas Border Coalition:

Border Trade Alliance: ~


re:illegal entry advocate group brings suit against wrong parties,,and claim judge didn't uphold 'constitutional' law

~Ariz. Immigration Law Challenge Tossed

Published: 12/8/07, 12:46 PM EDT


PHOENIX (AP) - A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit seeking to block a new Arizona law that prohibits people from hiring illegal immigrants and requires businesses to verify whether applicants are eligible for employment.

The law takes effect Jan. 1.

In his ruling on Friday, U.S. District Judge Neil V. Wake wrote that the lawsuit was premature because there was no evidence that anybody had been harmed, and that the plaintiffs - a coalition of business and immigrant rights groups - were suing the wrong people.

The ruling said the law gives only investigatory authority to the governor and state attorney general, who were named as defendants. Wake said county prosecutors, who weren't defendants, actually have the power to enforce the law.

The plaintiffs had asked for a preliminary injunction blocking the law from taking effect.

Julie Pace, an attorney for the business groups, said her clients were meeting Saturday to determine whether to appeal the ruling or file a separate lawsuit against the county prosecutors. She said the business groups could pursue both avenues.

Alfredo Gutierrez, a spokesman for immigrant rights groups, said they plan to refile the lawsuit after Jan. 1, when they might be able to show damages caused by the law.

A spokesman for Gov. Janet Napolitano said the governor's office had not yet read the ruling and had no immediate comment.

Napolitano signed the bill in July, saying that while immigration is a federal responsibility, Congress was apparently "incapable of coping with the comprehensive immigration reforms our country needs."

The law is intended to curb Arizona's role as the busiest illegal gateway into the country. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that illegal immigrants account for one in 10 workers in the Arizona economy.

Under the law, any business that is found to have knowingly hired an illegal worker is subject to sanctions ranging from probation to a 10-day suspension of its business licenses. A second violation would bring permanent revocation of the license.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit had argued the law was an unconstitutional attempt by the state to regulate immigration, which is the responsibility of the federal government. The judge's ruling did not address that argument.

"He didn't uphold the law," Pace said. "He didn't decide if it was constitutional. We can have that argument another day."

Attorneys for the state say the groups weren't reading the law correctly and that it does not conflict with federal law.~


re:will sharpton incite the black community to march over this one?

~Boy, 17, charged as adult in killing of NFL's Taylor

Published: 12/5/07, 4:00 PM EDT

MIAMI, Florida (CNN) - Four suspects indicted on murder and burglary charges in the slaying of Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor begin their journey through the courts on Wednesday.

Court documents say the youngest is alleged to have fired the fatal shot.

He is identified as Eric Rivera Jr., 17. He appeared briefly on Wednesday morning before a judge in Miami, Florida.

Rivera has been indicted as an adult and Judge John Thornton found probable cause to support charges of first degree felony murder and burglary with assault or battery with a firearm.

Three other suspects -- Venjah K. Hunte, 20, Jason Scott Mitchell, 19, and Charles Kendrick Lee Wardlow, 18 -- appeared Tuesday in court via videoconference.

They wore thick green vests, which defense attorneys said were suicide safety smocks. They were ordered held without bail at the Pre-Trial Detention Center in Miami, Florida, where Corrections Officer Janelle Hall said they are under suicide watch.

All four suspects are expected to make initial appearances later this morning before Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy. Watch CNN's Rick Sanchez speak to attorneys for two of the suspects

Rivera was armed during the alleged burglary, and "during the course of the commission of the offense ... discharged a firearm and as a result of the discharge, death or great bodily harm was inflicted upon Sean Maurice Taylor, a human being," the indictment says.

The four men were arrested Friday, officials said.

Taylor, 24, died a day after he was shot during an apparent burglary at his home. Miami-Dade police investigators said they believe the burglars thought the house was empty.

Thousands of mourners attended Taylor's funeral Monday at Florida International University's arena. See photos from the funeral

Police said Taylor and his girlfriend, Jackie Garcia, were awakened by noise coming from the living room early November 26. Taylor got up and locked the bedroom door, but the door was kicked in and two shots were fired, police said. One struck Taylor in the leg.

Garcia and the couple's 18-month-old daughter were not hurt.

Authorities have said Garcia told police she was hiding under the bedding during the attack, did not see what happened and could not provide a suspect description.

A break-in had been reported at Taylor's residence eight days earlier. A police report from that incident said someone forced a window open and left a kitchen knife on a bed. Several drawers and a bedroom safe were searched during the break-in, according to the report.

Taylor spent four years with the Redskins, earning his first Pro Bowl selection in 2006. He suffered a sprained right knee in a November 11 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and had not played since.

The 2004 first-round draft pick played at the University of Miami, where he was an All-American in 2003. He was regarded as one of the hardest-hitting players in the NFL. ~

how about this one?:

~Woman Assaulted By 9 Teens On Transit Bus (ahem,,that's a white woman and 9 black teens,,over a seat on the bus)

BALTIMORE -- Nine teenagers were charged with aggravated assault after they allegedly attacked a woman on a city bus.

The Maryland Transit Administration said that the attack happened at about 3 p.m. Tuesday after the teens had left Robert Poole Middle School.

The police report said that 26-year-old Sarah Kreager boarded the bus, and each time she tried to sit down a boy would jump into the seat.

Once she found a seat, Kreager was attacked by several teens, then was dragged off the bus at a stop on West 33rd Street, the report said. She suffered serious cuts to the head and neck and two broken bones.

A man with her, Troy Ennis, 30, was assaulted when he tried to intervene, officials said.

Ennis was treated at the scene, and Kreager was taken to a local hospital, officials said.

The six boys and three girls, all 14 and 15 years old, were charged as juveniles.

A Maryland Transportation Authority spokeswoman said that the transportation system is safe, and that police were able to apprehend the teens quickly thanks to the bus driver calling in the incident.~

(at least all those old southern bigots LET Rosa P. RIDE the bus,,even if it was in the back,,and she didn't get beaten,,did she?)


but,,it's not a hate crime(?why?because they are afraid of Al S. riling up Black America against them?)

~MTA Police: Attack On Bus Not Hate Crime

BALTIMORE -- The beating of a white woman by nine black students on a city bus is being investigated but not as a hate crime, a transit official said.

Sarah Kreager, 26, suffered broken facial bones and other injuries after she was punched, kicked and dragged off the bus Tuesday afternoon. Kreager's companion, Troy Ellis, was also attacked, but not beaten as severely.

MTA police said evidence has not been found to support claims by the students' parents that the children were provoked.

MTA Administrator Paul Wiedefeld said that they're taking race bias into account, but are not classifying the incident as a hate crime.

"We all need to take a deep breath. It's under investigation, so we have to let that play out," he said.

The attack immediately drew comparisons on talk radio and Internet blogs to the Jena, La. case in which a white student was attacked by a group of black students, leading to demontrations by black activists who alleged local authorities were prosecuting blacks more harshly than whites.

But Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon and Rep. Elijah Cummings, both black, issued statements condemning the attack.

"The physical assault of any human being, regardless of motivation, is conduct that is unacceptable. As police continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding this terrible crime, we must rise together as a community to take a stand against violence toward any of our neighbors," Cummings said in statement issued Friday.

Dixon said after the attack that she was extremely concerned about the beating, which she described as "deplorable."

"I will not tolerate intimidation or violence anywhere in our city," the mayor said. "I have offered the MTA whatever assistance they need to investigate this incident and to do our part to ensure the public transportation system is safe for everyone."

MTA Northern District Capt. David Marzola said the middle school students, three females and six males 14 to 15 years old, are also accused of menacing an elderly white passenger and assaulting the bus operator, a black male who defended his passenger.

"He probably saved this gentleman's life," Marzola said.

The driver was not identified because he is considered a witness to a crime, the MTA said.

Video from a surveillance camera on the bus is also being analyzed as part of the investigation, the MTA said.

The students, who ride the bus to Robert Poole Middle School, have been released into the custody of their parents, Greene said.

Col. John Gavrilis, deputy chief of the MTA Police, said MTA Police have stationed an officer on the line since Tuesday and the city school police force has assigned extra officers to the Hampden school.

Greene said the nine students have had their bus privileges revoked.

"Riding the bus is a privilege," she said. "Public safety is our primary concern."

MTA officials noted that the system is safe with a total of 381 crimes this year on the transit system, which carries 250,000 riders a day, with property crimes accounting for the vast majority.

"I use the system daily. I feel for the victims, but it's rare," Wiedefeld said.

However, the attack was the latest in a string of high-profile crimes to have taken place on or near MTA facilities.

Nicole Edwards, 17, was fatally stabbed near a Baltimore light rail station in November, 2006, during an armed robbery of Edwards and her brother. Lataye S. King, 17, was sentenced to 25 years in prison Thursday in the case, and a 15-year-old co-defendant is to be sentenced in February for robbery conspiracy and aggravated assault.

In October, a twice-convicted rapist was accused of attacking a woman at a light rail station in Linthicum. And an MTA officer shot and killed a robbery suspect late last year at a Reisterstown Metro station after police said he pulled a gun.

Police have identified two additional victims -- a third passenger and the bus driver.


(Racism?Yeah,,sure,,if it had been 9 white punks and a black couple,,but black folks hating white folks ain't a crime like white folks hating blacks,,is it?)

Why can't the 'anti-racism' advocates show a poor white person some compassion and defend them from racist 'minority hued' folk?


re:forgotten scene of school being ordered burned revisited

~Site of Racial Tensions Still Has Scars

Published: 12/9/07, 2:05 PM EDT


CAMBRIDGE, Md. (AP) - Longtime residents of Pine Street say it used to bustle with traffic to black-owned businesses. Today, 40 years after racial tensions peaked with a devastating fire, it's hard to tell that the neighborhood of peeling paint and sagging porches was ever a thriving community.

"Pine Street was the heart of the African-American community," said the Rev. Enez Stafford Grubb, 64, standing outside Bethel AME Church. She's attended the church all her life and is now its pastor.

"There was a drug store and a pharmacy right there. There were doctors here, and a lawyer. We used to have it all decorated for Christmas."

These days there's not much business activity on Pine Street, save an Elks Club and a house with a handwritten "Barber Shop" poster hanging from the front porch. Residents say the neighborhood never recovered from the blaze that started at the neighborhood's segregated elementary school and burned much of the black section of Cambridge.

The fire is still painful for some locals to discuss - some chafe at calling it a riot; others insist that's exactly what it was - but outside attention is returning as two universities and a national foundation plan to revisit this and other sites of 1960s racial strife to mark the approaching 40th anniversary of a report that examined the problem.

That report came from the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, commonly called the Kerner Riot Commission, whose members visited Cambridge after the blaze and warned of racial divisions.

On July 24, 1967, Cambridge landed in the national spotlight when black power activist H. Rap Brown delivered a speech outside Pine Street Elementary School. "If Cambridge doesn't come around, Cambridge got to be burned down," he said.

Soon after, fire broke out behind the school - people still disagree on who started it - and Cambridge's all-white fire department didn't respond. The blaze caused no injuries, but it took out the school, several businesses and the Eastern Shore town's sense of isolation from racial strife in bigger cities such as Detroit and Los Angeles.

"Those were some tense, tense moments," recalled Bill Jarmon, 64, who attended Pine Street Elementary. Jarmon didn't see Brown's speech, but he made it to Pine Street when the fire started.

"He spoke about the conditions in Cambridge and said it (the school) should've been torn down, it shouldn't be there, in fact they should just burn it down, and someone went behind the school and did start a fire," recalled Jarmon.

"By this time, people were shouting, throwing rocks. ... The wind picked up and carried the fire north. All you could do was watch it as it burned."

In 1968, the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, commonly called the Kerner Riot Commission, famously warned that racial inequality was widespread and that the nation was "moving toward two societies, one black, one white - separate and unequal."

Four decades later, what has changed?

"We want to see where those cities have come to and see where progress has been made and where it hasn't," said DeWayne Wickham. He is director of the Institute for Advanced Journalism Studies at North Carolina A&T University, which is leading a "Kerner Plus 40" study along with the University of Pennsylvania.

A nonprofit foundation founded to continue the work of the Kerner Commission, the Washington-based Eisenhower Foundation, is planning a 40th anniversary report to Congress and the 2008 presidential candidates.

The City Council now has a black majority. There's a new interest in the area's black history, especially the story of Harriet Tubman, who was born in Dorchester County before escaping north to freedom.

But on Pine Street, rusted cars and boarded-up houses illustrate a lasting divide between poor blacks and some wealthier white neighborhoods.

"There is still a lack of a strong middle class," said Jarmon, who left the area in 1969 but returned a few years ago to retire. Jarmon said housing patterns in the city are no longer segregated, but social and civic groups often are.

"In some ways, things have changed. Based on your income, you can move anywhere you want to move," he said. "But in some ways, very little has changed."

Grubb, who never left Cambridge, is more skeptical the town has come all that far since the Kerner Commission visited.

"People who did not believe in equality for all people started working under the table," she said. "But people still survive."

Mayor Cleveland Rippons, who is white, insists Cambridge has come a long way, maybe because of the fire and the national attention it brought.

"When the riots happened, people became more pronounced about talking about racial issues," Rippons said. "You know, the name of the town is not Utopia. Cambridge needs to grow just like anybody else. But inequality, racism - I don't see it as pronounced as it used to be."

"We have to be constantly working to heal those wounds, because the scars are deep," he said. "It's constantly a consideration we're working through."


On the Net:

Eisenhower Foundation:

Cambridge: ~


re:Australia said to tell U.S. to 'FU*K OFF

cnn/asia uses aussie word for F**K in in headline about survey saying austrailians dislike american fastfood and slang

~Aussies to U.S.: Bugger off, mate

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- Australians believe the American hamburger is infringing on their local cuisine and they are "not at all pleased" about it, according to a survey released Monday.

The telephone poll of 1,213 people by the government-funded U.S. Studies Center at the University of Sydney measured Australians' attitudes about their closest ally, the United States.

Asked to judge the influence of American culture on Australia, 67 percent of respondents said they were "not at all pleased" about the prevalence of U.S.-style fast food in Australia.

A further 52 percent said they were very unhappy with the influence of "the American language" on the local slang.

The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent~


re:even lawyers should abhor 'sharia style law systems'

~Saudi Rape Lawyer's Hearing Adjourned

Published: 12/5/07, 4:26 PM EDT


CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - The disciplinary hearing for the Saudi lawyer who protested a sentence of 200 lashes for a gang-rape victim was adjourned to an unspecified date, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Abdul-Rahman al-Lahem has been accused of "insulting the Supreme Judicial Council and disobeying the rules and regulations" for publicly criticizing the sentencing of his client to be flogged while her attackers received comparatively light penalties.

Al-Lahem could face disbarment.

"I am confident that we will get a positive ruling at the end," said Khaled al-Mutairi, who represented al-Lahem at the brief hearing. "I am defending the profession and lawyers' right to be independent."

Al-Mutairi told the Associated Press by telephone from the eastern city of Dammam that he asked the panel for a postponement to prepare his case, which will now be heard in late December.

The case of the "Girl from Qatif," named for the victim's hometown, sparked an international outcry, especially after her 2006 sentence for being alone in a car with a man she was not related to was doubled last month to 200 lashes and six months imprisonment.

Last week, the Saudi Foreign Minster Prince Saud al-Faisal said the judiciary would review the case.

The woman, who was 19 at the time of the 2006 rape, was convicted of violating the kingdom's strict Islamic laws against mingling of the sexes. She has said she met the man to retrieve a picture of herself from him because she had recently married.

The Justice Ministry has defended the sentence, saying the girl was having an illicit affair with the man. The seven men who were convicted of raping both the girl and the man were initially sentenced to jail terms from 10 months to five years. Their sentences were increased to between two and nine years after the appeal.~


re:money,money,money,,is the refrain

~Iraqis Turn to US for Municipal Services

Published: 12/6/07, 11:46 AM EDT


BAGHDAD (AP) - The U.S. Army captain balked when his Iraqi contact, a middle-aged man in a sharp business suit and tie, told him the military should pay municipality workers fixing cables in Baghdad's northern Azamiyah neighborhood.

"They should get their money from the municipality," Capt. Albert J. Marckwardt told the Iraqi, Abdul-Qader al-Dulaimi. "It has no money," he retorted, "You are the money man!"

"Every time you see me, you ask for money," Marckwardt said with a laugh, but he may not have been altogether amused.

Since the arrival of American troops, Iraqis have grown steadily more dependent on the U.S. military, saying it needs to help since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 led to the collapse of whatever infrastructure Iraq had.

That dependence has grown much deeper in Baghdad since thousands of American troops have moved into forward bases in neighborhoods as part of an ongoing major security drive in the capital, with U.S. soldiers in sight almost round the clock.

With attacks down by some 50 percent in Baghdad nearly 10 months after the start of the campaign, residents have begun to look beyond security, expecting better services and funds for reconstruction.

"It's one thing to have brought the violence under some semblance of control but it is another now to follow up with the necessary reconstruction and revitalization projects," Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte told reporters in Baghdad on Sunday.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government has declared that 2008 will be "the year of services" and set aside $15 billion for economic and infrastructure development in next year's budget.

But many Baghdad residents expect the Americans - not the Iraqi government - to deliver.

These expectations underline the dilemma of U.S. field commanders in Iraq: Their progress on security is way ahead of that on the political and services front by a government crippled by squabbling and inefficiency.

Residents in Azamiyah, a stronghold of Sunni Arab militants until not long ago, complain of lengthy power outages, sewage flooding and a shortage of heating oil.

Eager to win over the residents and cement security gains, U.S. army commanders in charge of Azamiyah spend hours daily looking into a multitude of issues ranging from collecting trash and generating power to helping small businesses.

In recent days, bands of municipality workers swept the streets, planted trees on medians and laid flower beds in traffic islands. Women were out shopping after dark and workers toiled to repair stores damaged in years of fighting. The whiff of cooking kebab and falafel from busy food stands filled the air.

But residents, after more than four years of suffering, are impatient to have more.

"OK, yes, we have security, but what about electricity and heating fuel?" a resident who wanted to be identified only by his first name, Thameen, recently told a U.S. officer patrolling one of the district's commercial streets.

"There is no one to turn to for help except the Americans," said Omar Ali, a 35-year-old school teacher. "The government and the Americans themselves pushed us to this."

Lt. Brandon Chase, a native of Amarillo, Texas, faced a flood of inquiries about services during a recent foot patrol in Azamiyah. He repeatedly said it was the government's job to provide basic services, but also asked everyone whether they knew of electricians to streamline cables from privately owned power generators.

A chief U.S. military spokesman, though, said the Iraqis are showing an interest in taking over from the Americans and doing the work themselves.

"It's not really a question of weaning the Iraqis off a dependence," said U.S. Rear Adm. Gregory Smith. "The Iraqis really want to take over. They've got the right technical expertise in the ministries to deal with this ... I think you'll start seeing a lot more ownership from the Iraqis."

But until then, some Iraqis continue to see the Americans as ATMs or miracle workers.

At a recent town hall-style meeting in Azamiyah, community leader Miqdad Jaafar Hussein wished the Americans in the room a "Happy Thanksgiving" - and then followed up with a long wish list of things he wanted them to deliver.

The Americans, he said, must free security detainees from the neighborhood not officially charged with specific crimes.

They also should lobby for the return of government departments moved away from Azamiyah because of its tenuous security and lobby for residents to be able to collect travel documents issued by the government inside Azamiyah.

Lt. Col. Jeffery Broadwater, the senior U.S. officer present, acknowledged Hussein's Thanksgiving greeting with a tap on his heart, a gesture of gratitude commonly used by Iraqis, but said nothing about Hussein's list of demands.~


re:tragic case illustrates means by which CPS wishes to be able to remove children,,'money matters' which says you're poor,,you don't deserve a child

~Hearing Held Too Late for Dead Girl

Published: 12/7/07, 11:05 PM EDT


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A child advocate had planned to ask a judge to remove a 3-year-old girl from her mother's care the same day that authorities say the mother and her live-in boyfriend beat the toddler to death, newly released documents show.

A court hearing on TaJanay Bailey was scheduled for Nov. 27, at which a counselor and child advocate planned to ask a judge to take her from the home, e-mail correspondence indicates.

That hearing never took place because TaJanay had been found injured and unconscious in her mother's apartment and died hours before. Authorities say she was repeatedly beaten by her mother and her mother's live-in boyfriend for wetting her pants and soiling herself.

Gov. Mitch Daniels said Friday that when he heard the circumstances of her death it "broke my heart."

State workers had made eight visits to the household within the last three weeks of TaJanay's life, Daniels said.

"Eight visits in 21 days still did not eliminate the possibility that after a lot of discussions someone made a tragic error in judgment and whoever made that error is probably the most heartbroken person around right now," he said.

TaJanay was returned to her mother Oct. 31, despite evidence of earlier abuse. Charity Bailey and Lawrence Green, both 20, have pleaded not guilty to murder and neglect charges. Court documents show each blamed the other for beating the child with a belt.

Bailey and Green had been appointed public defenders, but the public defenders' office did not accept phone messages after hours.

Some 1,500 pages of court documents released Thursday by the DCS revealed numerous worrisome signs that TaJanay had been left in a potentially dangerous household, including evidence of domestic abuse and drug use.

Those documents show that caseworkers were worried that Charity Bailey was uneducated, had no job and lacked the parenting skills needed to care for her daughter and her younger son, 6-month-old Lawrence Green Jr.

An e-mail sent Nov. 19 by a DCS worker states that both Bailey and Green were no longer working and that Bailey had no tickets to use Indianapolis' bus system.

"It speaks to their inability to provide for their most basic needs," states that e-mail, which concludes, "My recommendation is for the removal of the children as soon as possible."~


re:trying to take sudans gov to task

~New Darfur Probe Targets Sudan Officials

Published: 12/5/07, 6:05 PM EDT


UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced Wednesday he was opening an investigation against Sudanese government officials for what he called systematic attacks on refugee camps in Darfur.

Luis Moreno Ocampo said his office would also investigate violence against humanitarian workers and peacekeepers in Darfur, including an Oct. 29 attack on the Haskanita military base that left 10 African Union soldiers dead and 1 missing. Rebels were blamed for that attack.

Ocampo urged the U.N. Security Council to demand that Sudan hand over acting humanitarian minister Ahmed Muhammed Harun, who was formerly in charge of security in Darfur and has been indicted for crimes against humanity.

He said the investigation would probe "who is maintaining Harun in a position to commit crimes" - raising the possibility of indictments against higher-level Sudanese officials. Ocampo did not mention any names but made clear no one would be immune, not only for harboring Harun but for the latest attacks against civilians.

"When will be a better time to arrest Harun? How many more women, girls, have to be raped? How many more persons have to be killed?" Ocampo asked at a Security Council briefing. "What is at stake is, simply, the life or death of 2.5 million people."

Sudan's U.N. ambassador warned that any Security Council pressure over the indictments would complicate international efforts to promote peace talks in Darfur and deploy a 26,000-member joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping mission to the region.

"Ocampo exposed his moral bankruptcy ... he resorted to fabrications," Ambassador Abdelmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad told reporters after the meeting. "He came here in our opinion to make life miserable for the peace process."

"In no way are we going to surrender our citizens to the ICC," he added.

The conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region has claimed more than 200,000 lives and uprooted 2.5 million people since ethnic African rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated government in 2003. Critics accuse Sudan of arming the janjaweed Arab militias that have terrorized Darfur villages - a charge Khartoum denies.

The International Criminal Court has also indicted Ali Kushayb, known as a "colonel of colonels" among the janjaweed, and Ocampo demanded again Wednesday that he be turned over.

With diplomats busy trying to overcome Sudanese resistance to the U.N.-AU peacekeeping force, there has been little outward international pressure on Sudan over the ICC indictments.

European council members this week circulated a draft statement that would express the council's "deep concern over the failure of the government of Sudan" to comply with the arrests warrants. But diplomats said China, which has commercial ties with Sudan, was reluctant to adopt the statement.

China's deputy U.N. ambassador, Liu Zhenmin, warned that "ignoring the overall political situation and simply stressing ending impunity" would "hardly be conducive" to international efforts to resolve the Darfur problem.

Ocampo said his office would investigate "a calculated, organized campaign by Sudanese officials to attack" civilians in villages and refugee camps.

He cited an Oct. 8 attack on the South Darfur town of Muhajeria that left 48 civilians dead, calling it a joint attack by government forces and the janjaweed. Sudan's government has denied involvement in that attack, calling it fighting between tribes.

Ocampo said the Sudanese government has surrounded some refugee camps with janjaweed fighters, and when women try to leave, they are systematically raped. Meanwhile, the government also tries to force other refugees to return to their communities - often occupied by janjaweed supporters - in an attempt to dismantle the larger camps, Ocampo said.

As Sudan's former interior minister, Harun recruited janjaweed militias and incited them to attack civilians, Ocampo said. As humanitarian minister, he is now at the center of an intimidation campaign that focuses on the refugee camps, the prosecutor said.

His ministry oversees Sudan's Humanitarian Aid Commission, which is comprised mostly of security personnel who gather intelligence in the camps and promote disturbances to justify government raids, Ocampo said. Harun was present at several such raids, he added.~


re:An HIV-positive Navy chaplain lied about HIV and committed homo rape

Navy Chaplain Gets 2 Years for Sex Crime

Published: 12/6/07, 9:05 PM EDT


QUANTICO, Va. (AP) - An HIV-positive Navy chaplain was sentenced to two years in prison Thursday after admitting he had sex with an Air Force officer without disclosing he had the virus and that he forced himself on a Naval Academy midshipman.

Lt. Cmdr. John Thomas Lee, 42, of Burke, Va., pleaded guilty to forcible sodomy with the midshipman, aggravated assault on the officer and other crimes after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors at a court-martial at Quantico Marine Corps Base, south of Washington.

Marine spokesman Maj. Tim Keefe said after Thursday's hearing that nobody is known to have contracted HIV from Lee.

Lee, a Catholic priest, was assigned to the academy from 2003 to 2006 and later to Quantico. He was relieved of his duties in June.

The forcible sodomy occurred in the fall of 2004, when the midshipman was in his junior year. The midshipman, who was not identified, had previously received counseling from Lee, and said he allowed Lee to perform oral sex on him because he was intimidated by Lee's status as a chaplain.

"This was a priest. This was a guy who knew all of my darkest secrets," the victim, now a Navy ensign, testified during the trial's sentencing phase.

Lee, who learned that he has the virus that causes AIDS in 2005, admitted he had sex the following year with an Air Force lieutenant colonel at the colonel's home in Fairfax. Lee said he met the man on the Internet and lied when directly questioned about his HIV status.

"I said everything was OK," Lee told the judge.

Because the sexual contact with the officer included a risk of grave physical danger or death due to Lee's HIV status, it is considered an aggravated assault under military law.

Lee also pleaded guilty to violating a lawful order, committing an indecent act, fraternization, conduct unbecoming an officer and consensual sodomy.

Navy authorities launched an investigation earlier this year after receiving a complaint from a Marine corporal at Quantico. The corporal, who has since left the Marines, testified that he sought counseling from the chaplain, who quickly steered conversations to sex acts and eventually persuaded the corporal to take pornographic pictures of Lee.

Lee looked straight ahead and avoided eye contact with the witnesses during their testimony. "I'd like to apologize for all the harm I have done," he said before he was sentenced.

Lee was ordained as a priest in 1993 and began serving as a military chaplain in 1996. His faculties to function as a priest were revoked in June, after an accuser came forward, said Julia Rota, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of the Military Services, which oversees Catholic priests in the military.

Under the consensual sodomy charge, Lee admitted a long-term sexual relationship with a Navy ensign who lived with him for the last year in his Burke home.

Navy spokeswoman Lt. Candice Tresch said it would be up to the ensign's local command authorities to decide whether to pursue consensual sodomy charges against the ensign. Air Force spokesman Capt. Tom Wenz said he could not speculate on whether the Air Force colonel might face charges.

The plea agreement limits Lee's time in the brig to two years provided he complies with all conditions of the deal. One condition is a requirement that he inform medical authorities within the next 30 days of all his sexual contacts since learning his HIV-positive status.~


re:atheists are an extremely small percentage of population since americans overwhelmingly believe in god,,according to survey,21985,22873426-5005961,00.html ( December 05, 2007 )

~AN overwhelming majority of Americans believe in God and signicant numbers also think that UFOs, the devil and ghosts exist, a new poll shows.

The survey by Harris Online showed 82 per cent of adult Americans believed in God and a slightly smaller percentage - 79 per cent - believed in miracles.

More than 70 per cent of the 2455 adults surveyed between November 7 and 13 said they believed in heaven and angels, while more than six in 10 said they believed in hell and the devil.

Almost equal numbers said they believe in Darwin's theory of evolution (42 per cent) - the belief that populations evolve over time through natural selection - and creationism (39 per cent) - the theory that God created humankind.

Seventy per cent of Americans said they were very (21 percent) or somewhat (49 per cent) religious, while around one-third of those polled also said they believe in UFOs, witches and astrology. ~


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