May 20th, 2007

Israel Widens Gaza Airstrikes

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/05/20/israel-widens-gaza-airstr_n_48899.html

Israeli warplanes sent missiles slamming into a car carrying Hamas militants early Sunday, then demolished arms factories belonging to two Palestinian groups, the army said, in a widening of reprisals against Gaza rocket squads.

In Jerusalem, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert threatened tougher action if the intensified rocket fire on Israeli border communities didn't cease.

(no subject)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/05/20/_n_48901.html

"Man, I like that stuff," Bill Clinton said. "I shouldn't eat it, but I like it." It was Sunday, March 4. On a private plane headed south from New York, the former leader of the free world was staring hard at a fully stocked bowl of food. A recovering snack-addict since his quadruple-bypass surgery in 2004, Clinton was thinking about falling off the wagon with a few bags of Fritos and some granola bars. No one on the plane was going to stop him--certainly not Malcolm Smith. The Democratic minority leader of New York's state Senate, Smith was just happy to be along for the ride. "He sat right in front of me," Smith later gushed to a NEWSWEEK reporter. "We shared the food."

Three Shot In Idaho Courthouse Ambush

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/05/20/three-shot-in-idaho-court_n_48900.html

Dozens of law enforcement officers surrounded a church Sunday where they believed they had cornered a shooter or shooters who wounded two officers and a civilian in bursts of automatic gunfire, police said.

About 75 shots were fired in the attack late Saturday, said David Duke, Moscow's assistant police chief. Duke said the attack was apparently an ambush, with the shooter firing into the Latah County Courthouse to lure people into the line of fire.

CIA: Cash From Iraq Funds Al Qaida Comeback In Pakistan

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/05/20/cia-cash-from-iraq-funds_n_48904.html

A major CIA effort launched last year to hunt down Osama bin Laden has produced no significant leads on his whereabouts, but has helped track an alarming increase in the movement of Al Qaeda operatives and money into Pakistan's tribal territories, according to senior U.S. intelligence officials familiar with the operation.

In one of the most troubling trends, U.S. officials said that Al Qaeda's command base in Pakistan is increasingly being funded by cash coming out of Iraq, where the terrorist network's operatives are raising substantial sums from donations to the anti-American insurgency as well as kidnappings of wealthy Iraqis and other criminal activity.

Trade Relationship With China Under Fire After Tainted Pet Food Imports

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/05/20/trade-relationship-with-c_n_48906.html

Dried apples preserved with a cancer-causing chemical.

Frozen catfish laden with banned antibiotics.

Scallops and sardines coated with putrefying bacteria.

Mushrooms laced with illegal pesticides.

These were among the 107 food imports from China that the Food and Drug Administration detained at U.S. ports just last month, agency documents reveal, along with more than 1,000 shipments of tainted Chinese dietary supplements, toxic Chinese cosmetics and counterfeit Chinese medicines.

College Presidents Campaign Against "Misleading" US News Rankings

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/05/20/college-presidents-campai_n_48908.html

There is growing dissension in the ranks of the ranked.

A group of college presidents, fed up with the annual U.S. News & World Report list of top colleges, has begun pressuring colleagues to limit the information they provide to the magazine and eliminate any mention of the list when promoting their schools.

Landis Denies Drug Use: "It Wouldn't Serve Any Purpose For Me To Cheat...Because I Wouldn't Be Proud

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/05/20/landis-denies-drug-use-_n_48909.html

Though he's convinced his reputation is ruined, Floyd Landis still had to give it his best shot. He took to the witness stand at his arbitration hearing Saturday for his much-awaited testimony and found 50 different ways to say he didn't cheat.

"It's a matter of who I am," last year's Tour de France champion testified. "It wouldn't serve any purpose for me to cheat and win the Tour, because I wouldn't be proud of it. That wasn't the goal to begin with."

Kerik Distances Himself From Giuliani: "I'm Not Part Of His Campaign...I Have My Own Life"

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/05/20/kerik-distances-himself-f_n_48910.html

Bernard Kerik, the controversial former top police officer in New York City, made an unannounced appearance on MSNBC on Friday afternoon.

Speaking from NBC's London bureau on Baltimore's proposed crime-fighting measures, Kerik admitted he didn't know many of the details and provided general suggestions on how big cities can fight climbing murder rates. (The Baltimore Sun reported Thursday the plans could, among other things, limit the number of people who could gather on city sidewalks.)

GOP Senator: Gonzales Likely To Resign To Avoid No-Confidence Vote

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/05/20/gop-senator-gonzales-lik_n_48911.html

The top Republican on the Senate committee investigating Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Sunday he believes Gonzales could step down before a no-confidence vote sought this week by Senate Democrats.

Gonzales failed to draw a public statement of support from Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell (news, bio, voting record). Asked whether Gonzales effectively can lead the Justice Department, McConnell said "that's for the president to decide." The senator suggested there may be several resolutions introduced to dilute a no-confidence vote.

Lebanese Troops, Islamic Militants Battle In Tripoli

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/05/20/lebanese-troops-islamic-_n_48914.html

Fierce clashes erupted between Lebanese Army troops and Islamic militants in the northern Lebanese town of Tripoli today, in a daylong battle that left at least seven soldiers and four militants dead and set off a military campaign to root out the militants from their hiding places inside Lebanon's Palestinian refugee camps.

What began as a raid on several homes in Tripoli early today in pursuit of suspected bank robbers tied to the militant group Fatah al-Islam quickly escalated into an open confrontation with members of the group, which has claimed loyalty to Al Qaeda's principles, at their stronghold in the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of Tripoli.

Fmr Justice O'Connor: Supreme Court Should Follow Precedent

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/05/20/fmr-justice-oconnor-sup_n_48921.html

Retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor says the Supreme Court should generally follow its prior rulings so the public has confidence that laws do not change just because justices come and go.

O'Connor, a swing vote in favor of abortion rights and affirmative action, said she was seeing an unprecedented level of public criticism in recent months of state and federal court decisions.

War, Bush Blamed As Just 25 Percent Of Americans Say Country Heading In Right Direction

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/05/20/war-bush-blamed-as-just-_n_48923.html

It's gloomy out there. Men and women, whites and minorities -- all are feeling a war-weary pessimism about the country seldom shared by so many people.

Only 25 percent of those surveyed say things in the U.S. are going in the right direction, according to an AP-Ipsos poll this month. That is about the lowest level of satisfaction detected since the survey started in December 2003.

American Optimism Hits New Low Over Bush, Iraq War

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/05/20/american-optimism-hits-ne_n_48923.html

It's gloomy out there. Men and women, whites and minorities -- all are feeling a war-weary pessimism about the country seldom shared by so many people.

Only 25 percent of those surveyed say things in the U.S. are going in the right direction, according to an AP-Ipsos poll this month. That is about the lowest level of satisfaction detected since the survey started in December 2003.

Investor Threatens To Sell "Whitening Creams," Sealed Court Records, Paintings Of Nude Children Once

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/05/20/investor-threatens-to-sel_n_48924.html

"There are a couple of paintings Jackson made of children, of boys--naked. And there are some of his whitening creams, some sex aids...some of the old records in his sealed [sexual molestation] court case," Altomare said.

"This is stuff we have kept from the auction out of respect to Mr. Jackson. The guy has troubles. We all have skeletons in the closet and, if Michael hadn't put up a fuss, I might have quietly, discreetly, just given it to him. I'm a gentleman...but if he pisses me off, I may end up auctioning them."

Iraqi Shiite Leader Heads To Iran After Being Diagnosed With Lung Cancer

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/05/20/iraqi-shiite-leader-heads_n_48925.html

Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of Iraq's largest Shiite party and a key figure in the country's political reform process, was diagnosed with lung cancer and traveled immediately to Iran to seek medical treatment, officials said Sunday.

The development was expected to create disarray in the Supreme Islamic Council in Iraq, the powerful political organization the U.S. has counted on to help push through reforms such as a revenue-sharing oil law, constitutional amendments and expanded political opportunities for Sunnis.

White House Calls One Former President "Increasingly Irrelevant"

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/05/20/white-house-calls-one-for_n_48926.html

"I think it's sad that President Carter's reckless personal criticism is out there," White House spokesman Tony Fratto responded Sunday from Crawford, where Bush spent the weekend.

"I think it's unfortunate," Fratto said. "And I think he is proving to be increasingly irrelevant with these kinds of comments."

Dept Of Defense Rejected Predictions Of Sectarian Violence In Iraq As "Too Negative"

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/05/20/dept-of-defense-rejected-_n_48929.html

The second NIC assessment discussed "political Islam being boosted and the war being exploited by terrorists and extremists elsewhere in the region," one former senior analyst said. It also suggested that fear of U.S. military dominance and occupation of a Middle East country, one sacred to Islam, would attract foreign Islamic fighters to the area.

A former senior intelligence official said he was told by one CIA briefer after the NIC papers were given to top government officials that one ranking Defense Department official had said they were "too negative" and that the papers "did not see the possibilities" Saddam's removal would present.

Wal-Mart's Foray Into Designer Fashion Flops

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/05/20/walmarts-foray-into-des_n_48930.html

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s struggles in fashion apparel appear to be worsening.

Stacks of unsold clothing are clogging store aisles and pressuring profits. Now, Wal-Mart's first designer line, by designer Mark Eisen, has been pulled from several hundred of the more than 3,000 U.S. stores that carried it, according to a person close to the situation. A Wal-Mart spokeswoman confirmed the line had been pulled from some stores but didn't know how many.

Over One Dozen Justice Officials Thought To Use Dept For Partisan Purposes

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/05/20/over-one-dozen-justice-of_n_48932.html

Von Spakovsky, who declined to comment on these allegations, is among more than a dozen present and former Justice Department officials drawing congressional scrutiny over the administration's alleged use of the nation's chief law enforcement agency for partisan purposes.

Congressional committees investigating the firing last year of nine U.S. attorneys are looking into allegations that prosecutors nationwide were urged to pursue voter fraud to build a basis for tougher ID laws.

DOJ Accused Of Using Voter Fraud Investigations To Suppress Minority Vote

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/05/20/doj-accused-of-using-vote_n_48932.html

Von Spakovsky, who declined to comment on these allegations, is among more than a dozen present and former Justice Department officials drawing congressional scrutiny over the administration's alleged use of the nation's chief law enforcement agency for partisan purposes.

Congressional committees investigating the firing last year of nine U.S. attorneys are looking into allegations that prosecutors nationwide were urged to pursue voter fraud to build a basis for tougher ID laws.

Tory Leader: Blair "Indulging His Vanity" On "Pop Star Farewell Tour"

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/05/20/tory-leader-blair-indul_n_48933.html

Mr Cameron will argue that the handover is "a farce" in which Mr Brown wanders around the country with nothing to do and Mr Blair travels the world "indulging his vanity".

He will say: "In this country, we don't do 'farewell tours'. Tony Blair was elected to be Prime Minister of our country, not a pop star. We cannot afford week after week of decisions being made that could be reversed, ministers in posts who could be removed, civil servants not knowing who's in charge, and Parliament not being able to hold the Government to account properly."

Stallone Fined For Trying To Sneak Testosterone, Human Growth Hormone Drugs Into Australia

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/05/20/stallone-fined-for-trying_n_48935.html

A customs search of Stallone's luggage during a Feb. 16 visit to Sydney revealed 48 vials of the human growth hormone product, Jintropin.

Three days later, Stallone threw four vials of testosterone from his Sydney hotel room when customs officials arrived to search it, prosecutors said.

Republicans Losing The Web As Dem Websites Gain

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/05/20/republicans-losing-the-we_n_48936.html

Another Republican -- Michael Turk, who was in charge of Internet strategy for President Bush's 2004 campaign -- puts the problem his party faces more bluntly: "We're losing the Web right now."

The most recent figures from Nielsen/NetRatings provide one measure of the gap. Looking at the Web sites of presidential candidates from the two parties, it found that former senator John Edwards's site had about 690,000 unique visitors in March, when the Democrat's wife, Elizabeth, announced that she had a recurrence of cancer, more than the combined number of visitors to the sites of the three leading GOP contenders, Rudolph W. Giuliani (297,000), Sen. John McCain (258,000) and Mitt Romney (76,000).

Ex-Gang Members Flood Into Southern California Unions

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/05/20/exgang-members-flood-int_n_48938.html

But today, beset by nonunion competition and an aging membership, unions have stepped up recruitment in minority enclaves where many young men have criminal pasts. Now homeboy recruits homeboy.

Members of Dog-patch, in Bellflower, and West Side Wilmas, in Wilmington, are in the Ironworker Union Locals 416 and 433. Members of the 204th Street gang in the Harbor Gateway area of Los Angeles are in the Sheet Metal Workers Local 105. And members of the South Side 18th Street Tiny Diablos are Teamsters.