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Debate Den / Ex-FEMA head to start disaster planning firm
« on: November 26, 2005, 06:21:46 am »
Ex-FEMA head to start disaster planning firm
Brown fiercely criticized for agency's slow response to Hurricane Katrina
The Associated Press
Updated: 10:19 a.m. ET Nov. 25, 2005

DENVER - Former FEMA Director Michael Brown, heavily criticized for his agency’s slow response to Hurricane Katrina, is starting a disaster preparedness consulting firm to help clients avoid the sort of errors that cost him his job.

“If I can help people focus on preparedness, how to be better prepared in their homes and better prepared in their businesses — because that goes straight to the bottom line — then I hope I can help the country in some way,” Brown told the Rocky Mountain News for its Thursday editions.

Brown said officials need to “take inventory” of what’s going on in a disaster to be able to answer questions to avoid appearing unaware of how serious a situation is.

In the aftermath of the hurricane, critics complained about Brown’s lack of formal emergency management experience and e-mails that later surfaced showed him as out of touch with the extent of the devastation.

The lawyer admits that while he was head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency mistakes were made in the response to Katrina. He also said he had been planning to quit before the hurricane hit.

“Hurricane Katrina showed how bad disasters can be, and there’s an incredible need for individuals and businesses to understand how important preparedness is,” he said.

Brown said companies already have expressed interested in his consulting business, Michael D. Brown LLC. He plans to run it from the Boulder area, where he lived before joining the Bush administration in 2001.

“I’m doing a lot of good work with some great clients,” Brown said. “My wife, children and my grandchild still love me. My parents are still proud of me.”

© 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Computers & Video Games / Jack Thompson's Alabama License Revoked
« on: November 21, 2005, 03:56:25 pm »
November 21, 2005 - Controversial Miami-based attorney Jack Thompson has been removed from a lawsuit filed by the families of two slain police officers and a police dispatcher against Sony, Rockstar Games, and game retailers. Furthermore, the judge in the case revoked Thompson's license to practice law in the state of Alabama citing Thompson's behavior as the cause of the sanction.

In our previous coverage of the trial, we reported that Thompson had voluntarily withdrawn from the case because he felt that the "other side [meaning the trial defendents] wants to make me the issue." However, Judge Moore, the case's presiding jurist, issued a stinging 18 page report in which the judge rejected Thompson's claim of voluntary removal and stated that Thompson was effectively thrown off of the case for actions "before this Court [that] suggest that he is unable to conduct himself in a manner befitting practice in this state." Furthermore, Moore has referred Thompson's conduct to Disciplinary Commission of the Alabama Bar for "appropriate action." Such actions could potentially include complete permanent disbarrment from the practice of law in the state of Alabama.

The removal of Thompson from the case does not necessarily represent the end of the trial as his long-time associate Ray Reiser will assume the role of lead counsel for the case's plaintiffs.

Not one to take such things lying down, Thompson fired back at Judge Moore by claiming the the judge has "has violated... The Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics by his unfortunate, improper, and prejudicial acts in this case, at the expense of three bereaved Alabama families."

We will continue to keep you informed on the status of this case as developments warrant.

Good, the guy was insane. :)

Debate Den / Bush nominates Alito to Supreme Court
« on: October 31, 2005, 06:39:21 pm »
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Conservatives lauded President Bush on Monday for his choice of Judge Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court, while liberals signaled a contentious confirmation hearing is ahead for the nominee.

Alito, a 55-year-old judge on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, is a favorite of conservatives, many of whom objected when Bush nominated White House legal counsel Harriet Miers at the beginning of the month.

After Miers withdrew Thursday, her nomination criticized by both Democrats and Republicans, conservatives eagerly awaited a nominee with judicial experience and credentials similar to Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Bush touted Alito's 15 years as a federal appellate judge and said, "This record reveals a thoughtful judge who considers the legal merits carefully and applies the law in a principled fashion."

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will hold Alito's confirmation hearing, slammed Bush's decision as pandering to his conservative base.

"This is a needlessly provocative nomination," said Sen. Pat Leahy of Vermont, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. "Instead of uniting the country through his choice, the president has chosen to reward one faction of his party, at the risk of dividing the country."

Leahy's reaction was decidedly different from his comments after the president nominated John Roberts to succeed the retiring Sandra Day O'Connor. Roberts, however, was re-nominated and confirmed as chief justice when William Rehnquist died.

Vermont's Leahy and other Democrats had withheld criticism of Roberts and promised a thorough review of his record.

Leahy said he still could change his mind about the Alito nomination.

"I have not formed a final judgment as to the merits of this nomination, although a review of Judge Alito's record suggests areas of significant concern," Leahy said.

Another Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, also panned the president's pick.

"The initial review of Judge Alito's record shows that there's a real chance that he will, like Justice Scalia, choose to make law rather than interpret law and move the court in a direction quite different than it has gone," Schumer said.

Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist, who escorted Alito around the Capitol on Monday, said he was concerned with the partisan debate, but he was sure that the nominee would get a fair vote in the Senate.

"It's going to be tough," the Tennessee Republican said.

The chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter, praised Alito's record and said the committee would have a plethora of material to review. Alito has written more than 300 opinions and been involved in more than 3,500 cases, Specter said.

"We have a very good idea as to his approach to jurisprudence," the Pennsylvania Republican said.

Legal experts consider the 55-year-old Alito a solid conservative.

"The qualifications issue, I don't think will cut against him at all," CNN's senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said. "The big issue will be judicial philosophy. He is very conservative, and the issue that he is most publicly identified with is abortion."

In 1991, in one of his more well-known decisions, Alito was the only dissenting voice in a 3rd Circuit ruling striking down a Pennsylvania law that required women to notify their husbands if they planned to get an abortion. The Supreme Court upheld the decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

"I think a lot of people will look to that [Alito's opinion] as a proxy, as a symbol, as a hint of how Judge Alito feels about Roe v. Wade and conservatives will be pleased," Toobin said. "Liberals will be very distressed, I think."

As opposed as they were to Miers' nomination, conservative activists were equally pleased with the president's latest choice.

"Harriet Miers was a feminist who had no judicial experience and her strongest qualification was that she's a friend of the president's. Alito has a terribly impressive record as a judge and as a prosecutor," said Phyllis Schlafly, president of the ultra-conservative Eagle Forum.

Jan LaRue, legal counsel for Concerned Women for America, a conservative public policy group, complimented Alito's qualifications and said he "has always been one of our top choices for the Supreme Court."

Abortion-rights activists said they strongly opposed the nomination.

"Judge Alito would undermine basic reproductive rights, and Planned Parenthood will oppose his confirmation," Karen Pearl, interim president of the organization. "It is outrageous that President Bush would replace a moderate conservative like Justice O'Connor with a conservative hardliner."

Alito said while on the bench he has kept in mind what he called a "solemn responsibility."

"Federal judges have the duty to interpret the Constitution and the laws faithfully and fairly, to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans, and to do these things with care and with restraint, always keeping in mind the limited role that the courts play in our constitutional system," he said.

"And I pledge that, if confirmed, I will do everything within my power to fulfill that responsibility.

Alito, a Yale law school graduate, was put on the circuit court bench by President George H.W. Bush in 1990 after his service as U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey.

He also served as assistant to Solicitor General Rex E. Lee from 1981 to 1985, where he argued 12 cases before the Supreme Court.

If confirmed, he would replace O'Connor, often a moderate swing vote, on the high court.

O'Connor, who has announced her retirement, will stay on the court until the Senate confirms her replacement.

CNN's Dana Bash contributed to this story.

Debate Den / Miers withdraws Supreme Court nomination
« on: October 27, 2005, 11:38:32 am »
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush on Thursday accepted the withdrawal of Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers after weeks of opposition from both liberals and conservatives, who questioned her qualifications and record.

In her withdrawal letter to the president, Miers said she was "concerned that the confirmation process presents a burden for the White House and its staff and it is not in the best interest of the country."

In a statement, Bush said he "reluctantly accepted" her withdrawal.

The White House said Miers had to withdraw over concerns that senators wanted documents of privileged discussions between the president and his top lawyer.

"It is clear that senators would not be satisfied until they gained access to internal documents concerning advice provided during her tenure at the White House -- disclosures that would undermine a president's ability to receive candid counsel," Bush said in the statement.

Bush vowed to fill the vacancy "in a timely manner."

"Harriet Miers' decision demonstrates her deep respect for this essential aspect of the constitutional separation of powers -- and confirms my deep respect and admiration for her," Bush added.

Bush's decision to nominate Miers, 60, White House counsel and a longtime adviser, had divided his supporters, many of whom wanted a nominee with a clear record of opposition to abortion and solid views on other legal issues important to conservatives.

The White House learned from a key Capitol Hill ally Wednesday night that opposition to the nomination was building, CNN's Ed Henry reported.

In a blunt assessment, Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, Miers' main advocate in the Senate, told high-level White House aides that the nominee faced stiff opposition from conservatives, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist called White House Chief of Staff Andy Card to tell him that Miers did not have the votes to be confirmed, sources told Henry.

However, Ed Gillespie, a Republican strategist heavily involved in Miers' nomination and the previous one for Chief Justice John Roberts, maintained that the nomination process forced her to withdraw, not opposition from conservative activists.

"I don't think there was a mistake, and we're not red-faced at all," Gillespie said. "She, I think, rightly and in a principled manner came to the conclusion that there was about to be a conflict between her role as nominee and the principle she's espoused as White House counsel and counsel to the president."

Gillespie said if the White House released communication between Miers and the president it "would compromise the integrity for the ability of her staff to have a candid conversation with any future president."

But Democratic and Republican senators said that they hadn't asked for privileged documents.

"We were not asking for documents regarding attorney-client privilege -- or privileged communications," Judiciary Committee member Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, said. "We were saying, 'Show us documents of policy issues discussions,' so we could get some framework of her policy views."
Withdrawal applauded

Sen. Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, said Miers' withdrawal was probably for the best.

"I think she made the right decision, and I think she deserves a lot of credit for realizing that this was going to be very difficult, particularly in view of her position as White House counsel," Lott said.

"I just was concerned that she was not strong enough, dynamic enough and had enough experience in the constitutional area to be on the Supreme Court. It was not a philosophical, regional, religious thing with me."

Miers' withdrawal also was applauded by conservative activists, many of whom opposed the nomination from the beginning.

"The president did the right thing in withdrawing her and saving her from further embarrassment," the Eagle Forum's Phyllis Schlafly said. "I now hope he'll deliver on his campaign commitment to pick a judge in the mold of [Clarence] Thomas and [Antonin] Scalia."

In a statement, the Rev. Louis P. Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition said: "These have been a difficult few weeks as the Senate and the public measured Harriet Miers and her fitness to serve on our nation's highest court."

"As the president considers a new nominee for the court vacancy, I trust that he will find someone who, like him, is a person of strong and identifiable principles -- one who has participated fully in the important public policy debates."

Some conservatives argued that Bush could have prevented this impasse over the nomination.

"It was avoidable had the president nominated someone who fit his own description of the kind of judicial philosophy he preferred. If he'd done that, this would not have happened," said Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. "I don't think that anyone knew where she stood and that was the problem."

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, who said he had recommended that Bush nominate Miers, blamed "the radical right wing of the Republican Party" for killing her nomination.

"Apparently, Ms. Miers did not satisfy those who want to pack the Supreme Court with rigid ideologues," the Nevada Democrat said.

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said the questions about her lack of experience in constitutional law, her closeness to the president and conservative activists' unhappiness ultimately led to Miers' withdrawal.

"The Republicans would welcome an ideological fight," Toobin said. "The problem was Harriet Miers didn't present that sort of clean fight."

Bush nominated Miers on October 3 to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, often a moderate swing vote, on the high court.

O'Connor will stay on the court until the Senate confirms her replacement.

Days after announcing her nomination, Bush defended Miers against Democratic charges of cronyism and conservatives' questions about her record, saying she shared his legal philosophy.

"I picked the best person I could find," Bush said. "People are going to be amazed at her strength of character and her intellect."

CNN's Dana Bash, Claire Brinberg and Ed Henry contributed to this report.

Debate Den / U.S. death toll in Iraq reaches 2,000
« on: October 26, 2005, 08:18:39 am »
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S. military death toll in Iraq reached 2,000 Tuesday with the reports of three new deaths, and President Bush prepared the nation for more casualties, saying the "defense of freedom is worth our sacrifice."

"We've lost some of our nation's finest men and women in the war on terror," Bush said in a speech to military spouses at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington.

"Each loss of life is heartbreaking. And the best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to complete the mission and lay the foundation of peace by spreading freedom."

The U.S. military milestone came as Iraqi election officials announced that the country's draft constitution won approval in a nationwide referendum.

The passage, regarded as a key step toward the establishment of Iraqi democracy, paves the way for an election for a new parliament in December.

The U.S. military Tuesday said Staff Sgt. George T. Alexander Jr., 34, of Killeen, Texas, died Saturday from injuries sustained earlier in the week when a roadside bomb detonated near his Bradley fighting vehicle in Samarra, raising the U.S. death toll in the two-and-a-half-year-old war to 2,000.

The military reported earlier in the day that two Marines were killed by a roadside bomb Friday while conducting operations near Amariya in the volatile Anbar province.

That attack also killed two other Marines whose deaths had been reported earlier. The military had previously reported a Marine died Sunday from small-arms fire.

Lt. Col. Steven Boylan, chief spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq, blasted media coverage for focusing on the 2,000 figure, saying that "the true milestones of this war are rarely covered or discussed."

"The 2,000 service members killed in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom is not a milestone," he said. "It is an artificial mark on the wall set by individuals or groups with specific agendas and ulterior motives."

In Washington, the Senate paused in silence to honor the Americans who died in Iraq, after which members of both parties praised the troops for their sacrifice.

"These brave men and women in uniform sacrificed their lives for the cause of freedom and for the security of their fellow Americans, and we owe them a deep debt of gratitude," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican. "They heard the call of duty, and they took the fight to the enemy."

The Iraq Body Count -- a London-based group comprised of academics, human rights and anti-war activists -- estimates between 26,690 and 30,051 civilians in Iraq have been killed since the start of hostilities in March 2003. The estimate is based on compiled media accounts.

Boylan, quoted by The Associated Press, says the estimate of civilian casualties appears credible, adding: "We may never know the true number of the Iraqi public that has been killed or injured in this war. The Iraqi public has taken the brunt of the casualties."

But more Democrats than Republicans spoke in honor of the war dead, and some of their comments were laced with criticism of the Bush administration's handling of the effort.

"We need to think about what we can do to protect them and what we can do, eventually, to bring them home with the honor they deserve," said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat.

"The enormity of this loss of 2,000 of our best and greatest breaks America's heart," said Sen. Dick Durbin, the Democratic whip from Illinois.

He called for America's leaders to redouble their efforts to find a way to end the war.

"We owe our fallen soldiers and their families answers; we owe them accountability," he said. "We can't allow our nation to drift into a war without end in Iraq."

With more than 150,000 troops still in harm's way in Iraq, Durbin said "the choice we face in Iraq is not a choice between resolve and retreat.

"The men and women in our military and their loved ones deserve a clear path to stability in Iraq."

He added, "We do not honor our fallen soldiers simply by adding to their numbers."

The death toll is far higher than the 382 U.S. troops who died in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, but lower than the toll from many previous conflicts.

More than 58,000 U.S. military personnel died in Vietnam, which spanned from 1961 to the mid-1970s.

The climbing death toll in Iraq comes at a time when polls have shown Bush's popularity among Americans suffering.

In a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Tuesday, 46 percent of the respondents said they believe Democrats could do better at handling the Iraq war, while 40 percent sided with the GOP.

Bush remained steadfast in the Iraq mission in his speech to military spouses.

"We don't know the course our own struggle will take, or the sacrifices that might lie ahead," he said. "We do know, however, that the defense of freedom is worth our sacrifice."

CNN's count of U.S. fatalities reflects reports from military sources and includes deaths in Iraq, Kuwait and other units assigned to the Iraq campaign.

The U.S. military does not publish an up-to-date running tally of deaths.

Since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, more than 15,000 American service members have been wounded in the conflict, according to the Defense Department.

According to CNN's tally, 2,198 coalition troops have died in the war.

Al Qaeda in Iraq took credit Tuesday for suicide bombings near two Baghdad hotels the day before that killed at least 10 people and wounded 22 others, according to a posting on an Islamist Web site. CNN could not verify the authenticity of the claim.

Coalition forces have killed "several" insurgents in the western Iraqi town of Ushsh, the U.S. military said Tuesday. Six insurgents also were detained, according to a military statement. Ushsh is near Qaim, an Anbar town near the Syrian border.

A suicide bomber killed eight people, including five members of the Kurdish militia, and wounded 12 others in the northeastern city of Sulaimaniya, a political official said. Mula Bakhtiar, a high-ranking Patriotic Union of Kurdistan official, said three bombs struck Tuesday. Two of the bombs targeted Bakhtiar's convoy, wounding three guards.

Three Iraqi soldiers were killed Tuesday and one wounded when a roadside bomb struck an Iraqi army patrol in the southern Baghdad neighborhood of Dora.

Gunmen killed two Iraqi police officers transporting detainees Tuesday to Abu Ghraib prison in western Baghdad. Seven officers were wounded.
CNN's Saad Abedine, Ingrid Formanek, Nic Robertson and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

Birthdays and Events! / Happy birthday, LOSER. (21)
« on: October 23, 2005, 10:08:29 am »

Happy 21st birthday, Tom. :P

Debate Den / Grand Jury Indicts DeLay on New Charge
« on: October 04, 2005, 11:52:24 am »
By APRIL CASTRO, Associated Press Writer

Mon Oct 3, 6:38 PM ET
A Texas grand jury indicted Rep. Tom DeLay on a new charge of money laundering Monday, less than a week after another grand jury leveled a conspiracy charge that forced DeLay to temporarily step down as House majority leader.

Both indictments accuse DeLay and two political associates of conspiring to get around a state ban on corporate campaign contributions by funneling the money through a political action committee to the Republican National Committee in Washington.

The RNC then sent back like amounts to distribute to Texas candidates in 2002, the indictment alleges.

The new indictment came hours after DeLay's attorneys filed a request to dismiss the case. That request argued that the conspiracy charge was based on a law that was not effective until 2003, the year after the alleged money transfers.

The judge who will preside in DeLay's case was out of the country on vacation and could not rule on the request. Other state district judges declined to rule on the request in his place, said Colleen Davis, a law clerk to Austin attorney Bill White, also represents DeLay.

Debate Den / Bush picks White House counsel for Supreme Court
« on: October 03, 2005, 11:37:04 am »

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush nominated White House counsel Harriet Miers on Monday to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Miers, 60, was the first woman to head the State Bar of Texas. She has never been a judge.

An outspoken supporter of the Bush administration, she was a leader of its search for potential candidates to fill Supreme Court posts. A White House official said that at the same time, Bush considered her as a nominee without her knowledge.

In a televised announcement from the White House, Bush called Miers "exceptionally well-suited" for the high court. Miers has "devoted her life to the rule of law and the cause of justice," he said.

He called on the Senate to "review her qualifications thoroughly and fairly and to vote on her nomination promptly."

Miers said she was grateful and humbled by the nomination.

"It is the responsibility of every generation to be true to the founders' vision of the proper role of the courts in our society," she said.

"If confirmed, I recognize that I will have a tremendous responsibility to keep our judicial system strong and to help ensure that the courts meet their obligations to strictly apply the laws and the Constitution."

If the Senate confirms Miers, she would join Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the second sitting female justice on the bench. O'Connor became the court's first female justice in 1981.

Dinner offer
Bush offered her the job Sunday night over dinner in the White House residence, White House sources said.

During the summer, a vetting process for Miers took place once the president began considering her.

Bush took seriously suggestions by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, and ranking Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, that the president consider candidates from outside the appellate courts, the sources said.

Miers was the first woman to serve as president of the State Bar of Texas and Dallas Bar Association. She also was a member of the Dallas City Council.

Reacting with caution
Initial reaction to Miers' nomination was cautious.

"Harriet Miers is an intelligent lawyer who shares the president's judicial philosophy," said Leonard Leo of the conservative Federalist Society.

"She has demonstrated that in her capacity as White House counsel and a senior administration official as well as an active member of the organized bar."

Quietly, some conservatives involved in the White House's nominee selection consultation process said they are concerned with Bush's pick.

"The reaction of many conservatives today will be that the president has made possibly the most unqualified choice since Abe Fortas who had been the president's lawyer," said conservative activist Manuel Miranda of the Third Branch Conference, referring to President Lyndon B. Johnson's pick to the high court in 1965.

"The nomination of a nominee with no judicial record is a significant failure for the advisers that the White House gathered around it. However, the president deserves the benefit of a doubt, the nominee deserves the benefit of hearings, and every nominee deserves an up-or-down vote."

The Concerned Women for America, another conservative group, also took a wait-and-see approach on Miers.

"We give Harriet Miers the benefit of the doubt because thus far, President Bush has selected nominees to the federal courts who are committed to the written Constitution," said Jan LaRue, chief counsel of the group. "Whether we can support her will depend on what we learn from her record and the hearing process."

One Republican official said that many had expectations that Bush's pick would be a "known conservative," adding that he was surprised by the president's choice.

"Republicans were hoping for a clear conservative," the official said. "It's going to be heavy lifting for us and the White House."

Another conservative source who was involved in the selection consultation process said Miers was "not a big surprise" and that she had always been someone under serious consideration.

"She's a good conservative," the source said. "She does share the president's views about law and public policy. But she is not well-known, which is going to be part of the challenge."

Democrats also cautious
Democrats on the the Senate Judiciary Committee reacted cautiously to Miers' nomination, but they did not immediately oppose it.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) issued a statement saying, "There are a lot of obvious concerns; her lack of experience, cronyism, and of course her views on our basic freedoms." But the group also called the nomination a sign that Bush was "unable to pick a nominee that would appeal to his extreme right-wing base."

In a written statement Leahy said, "It is too early to reach any firm judgment about such an important nomination," noting Miers long ties to President Bush. "It is important to know whether she would enter this key post with the judicial independence necessary when the Supreme Court considers isues of interest to this Administration."

"My first reaction is a simple one: It could have been a lot worst," Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, one of the Demcrats on the committee, said. "... The president has not sent us a nominee that we've rejected already."

Schumer continued, "There's hope that Harriet Miers is a mainstream nominee. ... Given the fact that the extreme wing of the president's party was demanding someone of fealty to their views, this is a good first day in the process that begins to fill the seat of Sandra Day O'Connor."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, another Democratic committee member and its only woman, said she was happy that a woman was nominated to replace the outgoing O'Connor but wanted to know more about Miers' views on privacy and other issues.

"This new justice will be critical in the balance with respect to rulings on congressional authority, as well as a woman's right to privacy, environmental protections, and many other aspects of constitutional law in the United States," Feinstein said.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, was complimentary of Miers.

"I like Harriet Miers," Reid said in a statement. "As White House counsel, she has worked with me in a courteous and professional manner. I am also impressed with the fact that she was a trailblazer for women as managing partner of a major Dallas law firm and as the first woman president of the Texas Bar Association."

Pivotal replacement
The choice to replace O'Connor, a key swing vote, could be pivotal.

The announcement came shortly before justices were to begin a new term with new Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who is the youngest member of the high court.

The court's new term includes a docket with cases involving abortion, assisted suicide, the death penalty, and other controversial topics.

In 2004, when she was deputy White House chief of staff for policy, Miers hosted several "Ask the White House" session on the White House's Web site. In that role she expressed her own opinions on certain issues, praising the president's policies on the economy, education, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said Miers "has a very blank slate as far as a record," and "by the standards that we usually apply to Supreme Court justice nominees she does not appear very distinguished."

There have been Supreme Court appointees with no judicial experience, but "they tend to be senators, governors, people who have had jobs that required confirmation by the Senate," he said. Miers "has had none of those."

It is unclear how soon the Senate may hold hearings on Miers.

O'Connor announced her retirement in July. Bush initially chose Roberts for her seat, but the September 3 death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist changed the White House's strategy.

O'Connor has said she will stay on until she is replaced, making her role in the upcoming term unclear. Under court rules, a justice's vote does not count until a ruling is issued, a process that can take weeks or months.

Many legal scholars question whether O'Connor would want to continue hearing cases if her replacement takes over before rulings are issued, thereby negating her vote.

Debate Den / DeLay indicted, steps down as majority leader
« on: September 28, 2005, 01:50:48 pm »
Wednesday, September 28, 2005; Posted: 4:45 p.m. EDT (20:45 GMT)

DeLay faces a single conspiracy count stemming from a long-running campaign finance investigation, the county clerk's office in Austin told CNN.

DeLay, a Republican, blasted the charge as a "sham" and an act of "political retribution."

"I have done nothing wrong," DeLay told reporters. "I have violated no law, no regulation, no rule of the House."

A grand jury in Austin charged DeLay, 58, and two associates already facing criminal charges with a single count of criminal conspiracy, accusing them of improperly funneling corporate donations to Republican candidates for the Texas legislature in 2002.

If convicted, DeLay could face up to two years in prison and fines up to $10,000, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle said.

At a news conference in Austin, Earle, a Democrat, declined to comment on any evidence he had linking DeLay to the alleged conspiracy.

But he denied any partisan motivation, telling reporters that 12 of the 15 public corruption cases he has prosecuted involved Democrats.

"The law says that corporate contributions to political campaigns are illegal in Texas," he said. "The law makes such contributions a felony. My job is to prosecute felonies. I'm doing my job."

DeLay, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives since 2002, called Earle "a partisan fanatic."

"I have done nothing unlawful, unethical or, I might add, unprecedented," he said.

The move forced DeLay, to temporarily give up his leadership position.

"I have notified the speaker that I will temporarily step aside from my position as majority leader pursuant to rules of the House Republican Conference and the actions of the Travis County district attorney," DeLay said in a statement.

House Republicans on Wednesday afternoon selected Majority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri as their acting leader. Reps. Eric Cantor of Virginia and David Dreier of California also will take on additional duties, House Speaker Dennis Hastert said.

The rules of the GOP conference call for members to give up their leadership posts if they are indicted, but Republican members must vote on the matter.

DeLay does not have to resign his seat in the House, where he has represented a suburban Houston district since 1985.

Earle has been investigating whether donations to Texans for a Republican Majority, a political action committee, known as TRMPAC, were improperly used to help the GOP win a majority in the Texas legislature in 2002.

According to the indictment, $190,000 in corporate contributions to TRMPAC were sent to national Republican Party committees.

Those committees then sent the money to GOP candidates in the 2002 legislative races, which solidified Republican control of the Legislature and led to a mid-census redistricting push that shifted the balance of Texas' congressional delegation toward the GOP.

DeLay's attorney, Bill White, called the charge "a skunky indictment."

"Like a dead skunk in the middle of the road, it stinks to high heaven," White said.

A DeLay spokesman said the charge has "no basis in the facts or the law" and blamed it on a "partisan vendetta" by a Democratic prosecutor.

"Ronnie Earle's previous misuse of his office has resulted in failed prosecutions and we trust his partisan grandstanding will strike out again, as it should," DeLay spokesman Kevin Madden said in a written statement.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, had a different view.

"The criminal indictment of Majority Leader Tom Delay is the latest example that Republicans in Congress are plagued by a culture of corruption at the expense of the American people," she said in a written statement.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan praised DeLay as "a leader who we have worked closely with to get things done for the American people" and a "good ally" of President Bush. Asked about the charges, McClellan said, "The president's view is that we need to let the legal process work."

The two associates indicted with DeLay on Wednesday, John Colyandro and Jim Ellis, are awaiting trial on other charges related to the Texas probe.

Each was charged with one count of money laundering in September, and Colyandro faces 13 additional counts of unlawful acceptance of a corporate political contribution.

Warren Robold, a Washington fund-raiser, was indicted in 2004 on charges of accepting or making corporate donations in connection with the case. Several corporations and a trade association that contributed to TRMPAC have been charged, as well.

The majority leader spoke to Earle "voluntarily" in August, Madden said earlier this month.

"DeLay assured the district attorney's office that he was not involved in the day-to-day operations of TRMPAC, and to his knowledge all activities were properly reviewed and approved by lawyers for the PAC," Madden said.

Everything Else / Tea v. Coffee
« on: September 23, 2005, 02:28:28 pm »
I was talking to Sara the other day, and we both had different opinions on what is better. I personally like tea over coffee. What about you guys?

Computers & Video Games / Opera Eliminates Ad Banner and Licensing Fee
« on: September 21, 2005, 11:58:31 am »
Feel Free: Opera Eliminates Ad Banner and Licensing Fee
Oslo, Norway - September 20, 2005
Opera Software today permanently removed the ad banner and licensing fee from its award-winning Web browser. The ad-free, full-featured Opera browser is now available for download - completely free of charge – at

"Today we invite the entire Internet community to use Opera and experience Web browsing as it should be," said Jon S. von Tetzchner, CEO, Opera Software. "Removing the ad banner and licensing fee will encourage many new users to discover the speed, security and unmatched usability of the Opera browser."

Opera was previously available free of charge with an ad banner. Users had the option of paying a licensing fee to remove the ad banner and receive premium support.

"Opera fans around the globe made this day possible," said von Tetzchner. "As we grow our userbase, our mission and our promise remain steadfast: we will always offer the best Internet experience to our users - on any device. Today this mission gains new ground."

Computers & Video Games / Nintendo Revolution controller revealed!
« on: September 15, 2005, 07:54:59 pm »

It looks strange at first, but once you think about it, it looks quite nice for playing games...

Computers & Video Games / Xbox 360 Launch Date
« on: September 15, 2005, 05:54:09 pm »

TGS 2005: Xbox 360 Launch Date
The information you've been waiting for.
by Douglass C. Perry
September 14, 2005 - Microsoft stormed into Tokyo, Japan this week rearing to kick off the Japanese cornerstone of the Xbox 360 launch. The company that Gates built revealed the last significant piece of launch news by announcing Xbox 360 will hit retail store shelves Tuesday, November 22 in North America, Friday, December 2 in Europe, and Saturday, December 10 in Japan.

While X360 launches globally this holiday in North America, Europe, and Japan, the launch unfortunately doesn't include all world territories. In calendar year 2006, X360 will launch in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan, Mexico and Colombia. Microsoft would not clarify what quarter, month, or date "calender year '06" was.

This announcement marks the first time a console manufacturer is crazy enough to try and launch a console in three territories in the same time period. Crazy though it may be, using Germany as its platform to announce the pricing tiers, and now Japan to announce launch dates, Microsoft today has shown us it truly intends to go global with its marketing and its games.

Microsoft also unveiled that global Xbox 360 manufacturing is under way, with several manufacturing facilities producing 360 units in all parts of the world. Microsoft did not say how many units it expects to ship this fall season, but analysts have speculated that North American sales could reach 1.5 to 2 million units sold-through.

"This holiday season, gamers in Japan, Europe and North America pining to experience jaw-dropping high-definition graphics, unmatched online play and compelling digital entertainment features of Xbox 360 will finally have the chance," said Robbie Bach, chief Xbox officer for Microsoft. "Renowned development studios around the world are busy putting the finishing touches on their Xbox 360 games. We expect a strong portfolio of titles on launch day and through the holidays that will appeal to fans of every genre and gamers in every region, and with more than 200 games currently in development, continuous new additions to the library are on the way."

Unlike its first console, in which Japanese developers ran away screaming from the big, serious aggressive Microsoft and its lack of understanding for the rather inbred gaming world, for Xbox 360, Microsoft has gathered more than 40 publishers from the Japanese community. These include Bandai Co. Ltd., Capcom Co. Ltd., Koei Co. Ltd., Konami Corp., Namco Ltd., Sega Corp., Square Enix Co. Ltd. and Tecmo Ltd. These companies will deliver games such as Dead or Alive 4, Ridge Racer 6, NINETY-NINE NIGHTS Dead Rising and FINAL FANTASY XI.

The 2005 Tokyo Game Show marks the first time that consumers will be able to experience the power of Xbox 360 firsthand. Key titles to appear on display at the Xbox 360 booth:

Bomberman Act Zero (Hudson Soft Co. Ltd.)

Call of Duty 2 (Activision Inc.)


Dead Rising (Capcom)

Dynasty Warriors 5 Special (Koei Co. Ltd.)

(eM)-eNCHANT-arM (FromSoftware Inc.)

Everyparty (Microsoft Game Studios)

Far East of Eden Ziria (Hudson Soft)

FINAL FANTASY XI (Square Enix Co. Ltd.)

Frame City Killer (Namco)

Gears of War (Microsoft Game Studios)

Kameo: Elements of Power (Microsoft Game Studios)

Mobile Suit Gundam (tentative title) (Bandai Co. Ltd.)

Need for Speed Most Wanted (Electronic Arts)

NINETY-NINE NIGHTS (Microsoft Game Studios)

The Outfit (THQ)

Project Gotham Racing 3 (Microsoft Game Studios)

Resident Evil 5 (Capcom)

Ridge Racer 6 (Namco)

Rumble Roses XX (tentative title) (Konami)

Saint's Row (THQ)

Shutoku Battle (tentative title) (Genki Co. Ltd.)

Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega)

Test Drive Unlimited (Atari Inc.)

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (Ubisoft Entertainment)

World Air Force (tentative title) (Taito Corp.)

Wrestle Kingdom (Yuke's Co. Ltd.)
Microsoft also announced Japanese pricing of Xbox 360 at 37,900 yen. This package includes 20GB detachable Xbox 360 Hard Drive, an Xbox 360 wireless controller, an Xbox 360 media remote control, an Xbox 360 headset, a component HD-AV Cable, an Ethernet cable, and batteries.

Everything Else / Car Accidents
« on: September 15, 2005, 03:57:38 pm »
Yeah, so my friend was driving me home from band practice today, and he's going the speed limit down a dirt road by my house, and we see someone at the stop sign to cross the road. So since we have the right of way, we just kept going. All of the sudden, the other car starts pulling out to cross. My friend slams on his brakes, but the front of his car hits the other cars side. We stopped and called the Police about it, and then the girl starts trying to blame us for it. She claimed "they came out of nowhere, and were going about 60 MPH" (the speed limit was 25 MPH). The Officer takes one look at the front of my friend's car, and he doesn't believe a word the girl said. He said it wasn't my friends fault at all. I was like two seconds away from home, so I just walked. Something inside didn't want me getting back in a car.

Computers & Video Games / Inexpensive Hard Drives
« on: September 08, 2005, 05:25:13 pm »
Does anyone know where I can buy an inexpensive hard drive? My Maxtor 80GB died the other day, and I'm looking to get something around 80GB.

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