Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wednesday Morning Quick Hits

Pentagon auditors overwhelmed by runaway spending a decade ago, a single auditor could have kept tabs on the entire $642 million in defense contracts. But under bu$h, as the military has been privatized and no-bid contracts have become the rule of the day, the budget has swelled to $316 Billion and every auditor is responsible for two billion in spending, the Inspector General for the Pentagon estimates that half of all expenditures are unscrutinized. The IG staff is further strained by investigations of contractor fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan. "The continual degradation of audit resources that is occurring at a time when the (Defense Department) budget is growing larger leaves the department more vulnerable to fraud, waste, and, abuse and undermines the department's mission," the report states....Our coverage of high-risk areas and defense priorities is weakened and will continue to be weakened by insufficient personnel to accomplish our statutory duties," it adds.

The company we keep Amnesty International has released their annual report on the state of human rights around the world, and the United States is in some pretty shady company. Unending detention without benefit of trial for detainees accused of terrorist activity is what puts the U.S. in league with chronic violators China and Russia. I am just so very, very proud right now...

Still she remains detained The world community expressed outrage yesterday when the Burmese junta announced that Aung San Suu Kyi would continue to be held under house arrest -a condition she has spent 12 of the last 18 years living under. The announcement was made just days after an international coalition announced massive aid packages for the cyclone-ravaged country.

South Aftica considers establishing refugee camps
to serve as "places of safety" for immigrants to seek shelter from the violence that has been directed at them by poor South Africans. The decision will be announced on Thursday. The idea of refugee camps in one of Africa’s wealthiest nations has come as a surprise to some relief experts and to middle-class South Africans accustomed to seeing their land in a different light than poorer countries further north in the continent...The government’s plan, moreover, has met with resistance from international agencies contending that the tens of thousands of homeless people from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and elsewhere need immediate help rather than waiting for camps to be built...Some aid officials maintain that South Africa does not have the expertise to run such facilities. One relief official, who spoke in return for anonymity because he did not wish to jeopardize cooperation with the government, said international agencies feared that the camps could become “ghettos” rife with conflicts and potential sexual violence.

No one wants to be associated with these fools As the bu$h administration limps to it's sad, pathetic finish, top jobs all across the government go unfilled. With eight months left in President Bush's term, scores of senior officials already are heading for the exits, leaving nearly half the administration's top political positions vacant or filled by temporary appointees, federal statistics show...More than 200 pending nominations are languishing on Capitol Hill, bogged down in political fights between Democrats and the White House...At the same time, agencies have begun preparing for a new administration, including plans to temporarily install career employees in senior positions at the Department of Homeland Security during the transition. The White House also has taken the unusual step of ordering federal agencies to stop proposing regulations after Sunday -- meaning that new rules on issues including greenhouse gases and air-traveler protection are unlikely to be finalized before Bush leaves office.

Sunni's withdraw from the Iraqi government...Again! I am on my way out the door for the rest of the afternoon, so go read Cernig. One of the much-touted bits of "good news" (TM) from Iraq this last month or so has been that the Sunni Accordance Front had agreed to return to Maliki's government. The narrative had it that, after cracking down on electoral rival Sadr in Basrah, Nour al-Napoleon had shown that he could be a non-sectarian strongman. For some analysts, the fact that the Accordance Front now had its own political rival because of a new-found interest in politics by the Awakening movement, and might be hoping Maliki would treat the latter as he had Sadr if they sucked up some, was just as likely a narrative. Others - like Marc Lynch - simply said they'd believe the glowing reports of reconcilliation when it actually happened...Well, Maliki rejected the Accordance Front's entire list of nominated ministers, twice, for not being Shiite enough - and now he's rejected a nominee again. So the Accordance Front, without ever managing to actually rejoin the government, have quit again. Go read the whole thing.


Errands that need running and today is a bonus no-childcare day...Yippee! I'm out for a few hours. And if you are in KC, for crying out loud, power down and go outside and get some fresh air. God knows that this time next month the heat and the humidity will be oppressive. If you don't enjoy it while you can, don't whine later...


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