The Lady Speaks

Help Request – for mcjoan at DailyKos

This is important, so do what you can to help!

From mcjoan over at DailyKos:

Last October, at my brother-in-law's request, I diaried about his diagnosis of Burkitt's lymphoma, and the state of critical health care in the United States. Many of you have been following his progress through short updates I've given in pastordan's Sunday night diaries. The thoughts and prayers of this community have been very helpful in sustaining us, particularly me.

When I last reported, it was good news. He had completed chemo, and while it was very rough and left him quite weak, every sign pointed to it having worked. Unfortunately, we found out last week that it didn't. The cancer has returned and we're left with really only one option. And this is where this community might just come in to the picture again.

The remaining hope for cure of this disease is stem cell transplant. His brother will be a donor, if he's a match. But suprisingly, a sibling has only a one in four chance of being a match. So it's likely that we'll have to go into the National Marrow Donor Program registry.

[snip]

The NMDP is having a special drive in honor of Mother's Day this weekend. Registering is pretty simple–you give some tissue cells–generally a cheek swab–to be typed. Because this is America and we don't have universal health coverage, there is a fee associated with registering. It's $52, and covers the kit for tissue typing, and the process itself. This fee is tax deductible.

If you qualify–you must be between the ages of 18-60 and be healthy–you are added to the registry. About one in ten people on the registry end up actually becoming a donor. So you would have roughly a ten percent chance of saving someone's life.

Stem cell or bone marrow transplant is generally a last-resort effort. It is in our case, and we have no guarantee that it will work, I'm sorry to say. But for all of the families out there who are going through what my family has experienced, I hope you will consider participating in this Mother's Day drive.

In July 2004, my brother-in-law was diagnosed with aggressive brain and spinal cancer and passed away just four months later..

He was 25 years old and had married my youngest sister just a year and two days before his death. They had two children, Juliette and Justin. Though my niece was technically his step-child, Eddie never thought of her as anything but his. He won a date with my sister by asking her if he could take a then-18 month-old Julie out for pizza. He was one of the most unique people I have ever been privileged to know, and he left us far too soon.

Losing him was – and continues to be – one of the most devastating events in all our lives, especially for my niece and nephew, who were 8 and 2.5 years old, respectively, when he died. Because of this, mcjoan's post touched a big nerve.

Please, do what you can to help, not just her family, but all those waiting for a match.

And keep mcjoan and her family in your thoughts and prayers.

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May 11, 2006 Posted by | Cancer, Family, Health | Leave a comment

Hello NSA! F**k you Verizon!

Gee whiz, wouldn't ya know? The NSA has a giant database of phone call records – given to it by AT&T, Verizon, and BellSouth. The only company that didn't cooperate by giving out it's customer database was Qwest.

Not that this is news. We all knew this. It's just that we have proof now.

From Reuters:

The agency in charge of a domestic spying program has been secretly collecting phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, including calls made within the United States, USA Today reported on Thursday.

It said the National Security Agency has been building up the database using records provided by three major phone companies — AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. — but that the program “does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations.” [Oh, really? You sure about that? –Jenn]

[snip]

Defending the controversial program, President Bush and his administration officials have said it aims to uncover links between international terrorists and their domestic collaborators and only targets communications between a person inside the United States and a person overseas.

[snip]

But USA Today said that calls originating and terminating within the United States have not escaped the NSA’s attention.

“It’s the largest database ever assembled in the world,” the paper quoted one source as saying. The agency’s goal is “to create a database of every call ever made” within U.S. borders, it said the source added.

The NSA has “access to records of billions of domestic calls,” USA Today said. Although customers’ names and addresses are not being handed over, “the phone numbers the NSA collects can easily be cross-checked with other databases to obtain that information,” it said. [emphasis mine]

And here's the kicker:

Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, who headed the NSA from 1999 to 2005 and was nominated by Bush on Monday as director of the CIA, would have overseen the call-tracking program, the paper said.

And, may I say again – F**k you, Verizon! Bastards! It's not enough that you give me lousy home and cell service at outrageous prices, you just happily hand over my records, too?

* *

Update: ( 2:11pm) Here's the direct link to Leslie Cauley's story in USA Today, which says:

The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.

[snip]

For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made — across town or across the country — to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others.

[snip]

Sources, however, say that is not the case. With access to records of billions of domestic calls, the NSA has gained a secret window into the communications habits of millions of Americans. Customers' names, street addresses and other personal information are not being handed over as part of NSA's domestic program, the sources said. But the phone numbers the NSA collects can easily be cross-checked with other databases to obtain that information.

[snip]

One major telecommunications company declined to participate in the program: Qwest.

According to sources familiar with the events, Qwest's CEO at the time, Joe Nacchio, was deeply troubled by the NSA's assertion that Qwest didn't need a court order — or approval under FISA — to proceed. Adding to the tension, Qwest was unclear about who, exactly, would have access to its customers' information and how that information might be used.

Financial implications were also a concern, the sources said. Carriers that illegally divulge calling information can be subjected to heavy fines. The NSA was asking Qwest to turn over millions of records. The fines, in the aggregate, could have been substantial.

The NSA told Qwest that other government agencies, including the FBI, CIA and DEA, also might have access to the database, the sources said. As a matter of practice, the NSA regularly shares its information — known as “product” in intelligence circles — with other intelligence groups. Even so, Qwest's lawyers were troubled by the expansiveness of the NSA request, the sources said.

The NSA, which needed Qwest's participation to completely cover the country, pushed back hard.

Trying to put pressure on Qwest, NSA representatives pointedly told Qwest that it was the lone holdout among the big telecommunications companies. It also tried appealing to Qwest's patriotic side: In one meeting, an NSA representative suggested that Qwest's refusal to contribute to the database could compromise national security, one person recalled.

In addition, the agency suggested that Qwest's foot-dragging might affect its ability to get future classified work with the government. Like other big telecommunications companies, Qwest already had classified contracts and hoped to get more.

Unable to get comfortable with what NSA was proposing, Qwest's lawyers asked NSA to take its proposal to the FISA court. According to the sources, the agency refused.

Go Qwest!

And, once more with emotion: F**k you Verizon!

May 11, 2006 Posted by | Bush, Congress, Constitution, Domestic Spying, Government, Homeland Security, Intelligence, Law, NSA, Politics, Republicans | 2 Comments

Well, duh!

This would be funny, except for the fact that nearly every one of The Decider's….Halfwit MonkeyBoy's….the President's nominees have turned out to be unqualified and incompetent, most after doing their jobs so badly that people died or entire cities were destroyed 

Being unqualified and incompetent is worth bonus points when the administration looks for someone to fill a position. Why get someone who knows what they're doing when you can get someone who a) looks good, b) loves the Prez, or c) will do whatever they're told and will never question anything done/said by the administration.

From the Associated Press:

The American Bar Association rated one of President Bush's judicial nominees "not qualified" Wednesday, prompting a call from a liberal group for the president to withdraw the Mississippi lawyer's nomination.

A panel of the nation's largest lawyers group unanimously agreed that Michael Wallace, nominated for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, should receive its lowest rating.

[snip]

Wallace has never served as a judge. If confirmed to the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit, he would handle appeals from federal courts in Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana.

"Wallace is the first appeals court nominee in 25 years to receive a unanimous 'not qualified' rating from the ABA. The president should immediately withdraw his nomination," said Ralph Neas, president of the liberal group People For the American Way.

An unanimous "not qualified" rating is rare from the ABA, which has graded judicial candidates since the 1950s on three factors: integrity, professional competence and judicial temperament.

Poor ratings on judicial nominees were avoided by previous presidents who submitted the names of prospective judicial candidates to the ABA for screening before nominations were made. President Bush abandoned the practice when he took office in 2001.

ABA leaders have been asked to testify during Senate confirmation hearings in the past when they find that a judge nominee is not qualified. [emphasis mine]

Integrity, professional competence, and judicial temperament…

Is there anyone not surprised to discover that 'Listens to Jeebus'….El Commandante….the President doesn't really care if his nominees are qualified? 

May 11, 2006 Posted by | Bush, Culture of Corruption, Law, Politics, White House | Leave a comment

Putin responds to Cheney

With a bitch-slap.

No, not really – though that would have been cool to watch!

By the way, be sure to thank Dick Cheney for pissing off yet another country. What's this make – two countries left in the whole freakin' world that still like the US?

From the Guardian Unlimited:

Relations between the US and Russia sank to the lowest point in a decade yesterday when Vladimir Putin harshly rebuked Washington for its criticism last week and compared the US to a hungry wolf that "eats and listens to no one".

Mr Putin, stung by an attack from Dick Cheney, the US vice-president, used his annual state of the nation address to denounce US expansionism and military spending. He also questioned Washington's record on democratic rights. Although he refrained from mentioning the US by name, it was clear that the "wolf" in question referred to Washington.

[snip]

Mr Putin, in his speech, noted that the American military budget was 25 times the size of Russia's and said the US had turned its home into a castle.

"Good for them," the Russian president said, looking up from his notes, directly at his audience, "but this means we must make our own home strong and reliable. Because we see what is happening in the world. We see it."

He added, in what appeared to be a reference to the US-led invasion of Iraq and its approach to Iran: "As they say, 'comrade wolf knows whom to eat. He eats without listening and he is clearly not going to listen to anyone'."

He accused the US of hypocrisy over its criticism of Russia's patchy human rights record. "Where is all this pathos about protecting human rights and democracy when it comes to the need to pursue their own interests?"

In another veiled reference to Washington's approach to Iraq and Iran, he said: "Methods of force rarely give the desired result and often their consequences are even more terrible than the original threat." He added that Russia was "unambiguously" against the spread of nuclear weapons.

May 11, 2006 Posted by | Bush, Cheney, Government, Russia, White House | Leave a comment

Fear This!

The Republican theme of "Fear the terrorists, the activists, the hippies, the freaks, the illegals, and pretty much everyone who isn't white, male and rich" has lost some of its power over Republican voters, as shown by the latest polls.
Conservatives are becoming as fed up as the rest of us with the ever-increasing deficit, the overspending, the failure to provide for our troops, the lies and half-truths – not to mention the fraud, the corruption, and the mismanagement in nearly every Republican-held office and agency.

So, what's a Republican strategist to do? Get the people to fear something else, right?

Here's the latest: "Fear the Democrats! Not only will they raise taxes, but they'll investigate possible wrong-doing by the administration, they'll demand accountability of private contractors, they'll try to address the problems of the people!"

Feast your eyes on the article written by Tom Curry of MSNBC:

If Democrats win the 15 seats they need to get control of the House and the five seats they need to regain the Senate, how will that change the nation’s direction?

For some Democratic activists outside Washington, the overriding need, once their party regains the majority in Congress, is for them to shift the balance of power away from a president they see as dangerously powerful.

[snip]

With Democrats at the helm of congressional committees, the party can pursue a strategy of investigation and subpoena — forcing Bush administration officials to testify and to turn over documents relating to, for example, the National Security Agency surveillance program.

Another Democratic target is the Medicare prescription drug program, which bars the government from forcing pharmaceutical companies to give price discounts. Much of the agenda will be driven by the personalities and perogatives of the lawmakers who will chair key congressional committees.

[snip]

If Bush administration officials did not comply with the Democratic subpoenas, they could face contempt of Congress charges and possible imprisonment. [emphasis mine]

 

May 11, 2006 Posted by | Bush, Cheney, Congress, Culture of Corruption, Democrats, Government, Politics, Republicans, White House | Leave a comment