NEWS OF: 2/28/2006

72% of Troops Want to Come Home

VIEW ALL: Iraq War

The U.S. should pull out of Iraq “within the next year,” said 72% of the 944 U.S. military personnel in Iraq who were surveyed for a LeMoyne University/Zogby International project, which was published today. Just under a quarter - 23% - said U.S. forces should stay “as long as they are needed.”

Popularity: 9%

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Augusta: Taxpayer’s Bill of Wrongs

VIEW ALL: Taxes

Kathleen McGee of Bowdoinham has filed a lawsuit challenging the decision by Maine election officials to validate the 50,000 petitions to allow a taxpayers’ bill of rights initiative on state ballots later this year. Why? Because it wasn’t 50,000 petitions by the due date of 10/21/2005. The last 4,024 signatures were submitted three days late. Is this splitting hairs? Kind of. Should the measure make it to the ballot? Absolutely not. Why? Because the rules for creating a referendum item are a little like The Amazing Race. You have “x” amount of time to gather local support. If you can’t? You lose. And you can bet your bippy that if this was an issue like, oh, “gay marriage,” the rules would be very clearly stated to the person turning in the late signatures.

Popularity: 17%

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Arab Port Security = Safe. Canadian Baby Aspirin = Death.

One minute you’re safely on the American side of the border and the next - you’re in Canada - and that ibuprofen in your hand might as well be black tar heroin. Your beer comes with a shot of tomato juice. People are speaking a language vaguely similar to French. And if you get sick? You’ll be whisked to a hospital where your bill may run as high as $40.
Americans ordering prescription drugs, mostly from Canadian drug companies, are not getting those drugs because they’re being seized at the border by U.S. Customs. Why? Because the Bush Administration believes in outsourcing their stuff (port security to Dubai) but not your stuff. Many pharmaceutical companies have paid off Republicans and border guards from Vancouver to Maine to ensure that Americans have to pay top dollar for their drugs, many of which cost infinitely less in Canada.

Americans are upset. Olympia Snowe and Tom Allen are upset. Allen said Congress has made it clear that Americans should be able to bring a 90-day supply of medications into the country for their own use and the seizures would violate that policy, adding, “Congress has done nothing to drive down the cost of prescription drugs for Americans. In many cases, it’s cheaper to do mail order. It’s cheaper to buy from Canada than it is to go through these Medicare prescription drug plans run by the insurance companies.

Snowe said Congress should allow imported drugs to be sold in American pharmacies. She said the drug industry is “the most protected” in the nation and competition would lower drug prices for all Americans.

Customs and Border officials deny an increase in seizures, but they are as credible as a generic pregnancy test strip. A California senior citizen advocacy group said their survey indicates seizures doubled in December and doubled again in January.

Popularity: 25%

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Spellbound & Gagged in Augusta

Augusta’s lingerie shop featuring live window models in their scanties is pulling the girls out of the window and may close altogether. Christian groups CLAD (Christians Lovingly Advocating Decency) and the Christian Civic League traditionally have little to do during Maine’s winter but shovel and remain ever vigilant for signs of homosexuals in committed relationships.

This year they got a bonus when the new lingerie shop opened up. Harassment, appeals to the governor, and protests occupied their time and you can’t really blame them. There’s virtually no other evil in the world right now.

But now, at least one model has received threatening phone calls on her cell phone and shop owner Felicia Stockford has decided to pull the plug saying, “it’s just not fun anymore.” The big question, of course, is who made the phone calls?

Popularity: 29%

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NEWS OF: 2/27/2006

The Stepford Governor: I ♥ Huckabees

VIEW ALL: National Guard

President Bush’s 2007 budget makes cuts to the National Guard, which at first seemed to upset many governors who were envisioning the possibility of statewide disasters and manpower shortages. But not Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, who said, “The president extended to us a genuine olive branch on the Guard, offering to let us sit down and work out the details… ”

Popularity: 16%

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Death, Taxes, and Power Outages

VIEW ALL: Gov. Baldacci, Taxes

If the government decides to lower your taxes, but not for two years, did the government raise your taxes this year? If the governor says he opposes a new tax, but voters approve it? Can his political opponents pin the increase on him? If a tree falls in Gorham, Maine in the middle of an open field, why does it still knock out power for a good half hour? See Bangor News

Popularity: 20%

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Diet Democratic Confidence

Democrats meeting over the weekend to organize for the 2006 election season say they are confident their party will retain control of Maine’s government, and they hope to make inroads at the national level. With the devil in the White House all you can muster is hope?

Popularity: 16%

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Paul Madore Wants Your Grandma to Freeze and Die. Oh, and He’s Catholic.

Okay. Here’s what happened. Reps. Tim Driscoll and Bob Duplessie helped out with a fundraising spaghetti dinner on Saturday night at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Westbrook. Proceeds of the meal went to “Keep ME Warm,” a program that donates money to low-income families and seniors to help them heat their homes over the winter months because the cost of heating oil is outrageous and it’s like -4 degrees this evening with the windchill. The Catholic Diocese of Portland provided the location for the event.Ah, but at least one - if not both - of the representatives is “Pro-Choice.” Oh, sure, this event had nothing to do with abortion, but that’s where Paul Madore comes in.

Paul Madore, is director of the “Maine Grassroots Coalition,” one of Maine’s most homophobic Catholic groups. His website routinely includes such calls to action as phoning your priest to “find out where he stands on homosexuality” and then reporting back so that if said priest shows any signs of turning the other cheek or loving thy neighbor, the Coalition can stage a protest.

Which is exactly what they did. Paul Madore and about a dozen supporters rallied Saturday at the diocesan offices in Portland claiming that “Pro-life Catholics have the responsibility to denounce evil.”

Okay. In that case, we denounce Paul Madore. Keeping old people warm in the middle of a Maine winter is about as pro-life a stance as you can take. Turning a nice little spaghetti dinner into your own political soapbox is bad for everyone’s spiritual digestion. And appointing yourself to be Maine’s denouncer of evil? Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Popularity: 15%

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Sen. Collins on Dubai: Luggage Handling Ain’t What It Used to Be

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Susan Collins has introduced a resolution disapproving of the Dubai Ports World deal without an additional national security review and Congressional consultation.

Between the disaster-magnets bungling FEMA, those making a profit on war and terrorism, and the very President himself, who knew nothing of the deal until it was done, there is no one in Washington qualified to do an actual security review. If only we could find a nice company in North Korea to help us…
But a rubber-stamped, baloney-filled review? 200 blank sheets of paper with a fake cover sheet and “classified” stamp? A little Microsoft Publisher magic sprinkled with Kinko’s binding? That we can do - and probably will do.
In the meantime everyone’s saying that the Dubai company is nothing more than a bunch of luggage handlers. At the Portland Jetport, if you walk away from your luggage, no matter how small and insignificant? It will be taken away and summarily exploded in the long-term-parking lot.

Popularity: 30%

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NEWS OF: 2/25/2006

Dubai Goodbye

In the dispute over the Dubai port security deal, perhaps the biggest question is why American companies have withdrawn from the business of stevedoring.

Popularity: 16%

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Shia Death Squads Torture & Execute Iraqis

VIEW ALL: Iraq War

Iraqi death squads working from the Ministry of the Interior are torturing and killing hundreds of Iraqis every month in Baghdad. Up to three-quarters of the corpses at the city’s mortuary show evidence of gunshot wounds to the head or injuries associated with torture: drill-bit marks and cigarette burns. Shia Muslim groups under the control of the Ministry of the Interior are blamed for the killings.

John Pace, outgoing Human Rights Chief in Iraq has provided much of the information. Pace’s United Nations team was located next to the city mortuary. Figures indicate the morgue received 1,100 bodies in July, 900 of which bore evidence of torture or execution.

Pace, who has worked for the UN for more than 40 years in countries ranging from Liberia to Chile, claims the Ministry of the Interior is acting as a rogue element within the government, controlled by the main Shia party, which won the December election.
Making matters worse, members of the police force under the ministry’s control are suspected of being members of the death squads, feared in Sunni neighborhoods. People whom they have openly arrested have frequently been found dead several days later, with their bodies bearing obvious marks of torture. It would explain the Sunni’s targeting the Ministry. See the Independent

Popularity: 9%

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NEWS OF: 2/24/2006

Katrina Lessons Learned: None

“The federal government must play a stronger role in dealing with catastrophic disasters, including using the military more,” said the White House, “because only the federal government had the resources and broad authority to react effectively. But the military will not be able to use its superior resources effectively, unless rules change to put active-duty troops and National Guard units under a unified command. National Guard units were under state control while active-duty units were under Pentagon control.”

Okay, we’ll ignore the fact that the “unified command” of FEMA under the single protective umbrella of “Homeland Security” is what led to this catastrophic disaster. Instead we’ll focus on the real agenda of the White House sanctioned Katrina report, which would appear to be a campaign to merge the National Guard with the rest of the military. Which could lead to those National Guardsmen being shipped to whatever war is currently being brewed.
It also sounds like an attempt to remove state control of the National Guard. Since most disasters tend to be local, a state National Guard would be able to respond more effectively and with greater speed than a federal authority. See LA Times

Popularity: 16%

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Podcast: The Week That Was Feb. 20, 2006

VIEW ALL: Podcasts

Give your eyes a break with Maine Democrat’s weekly podcast, The Week That Was Feb 20, 2006 (mp3 format)
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Popularity: 10%

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NEWS OF: 2/23/2006

Iraq: Toilet

VIEW ALL: Iraq War

138 people dead in two days. Political negotiations over a new government in ruins. It’s official.  Iraq is going down the crapper.  See NYT.

Popularity: 8%

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