Saturday, June 14, 2008

Saturday Morning Quick Hits

Four American service personnel killed in Afghanistan
A bomb blast killed four Americans in western Afghanistan on Saturday. It was the deadliest attack on American personnel in that country this year. The bombing comes one day after U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told his counterparts in Europe that for the first time, the monthly total of American and allied combat deaths in Afghanistan exceeded the toll in Iraq during May.

Rudy! will campaign for republicans...if there is a quid pro quo
Giuliani is willing to appear at fundraisers for the cash-strapped republicans this campaign season - but there is a catch. Aides to the former mayor have told the National Republican Congressional Committee and Congressional candidates that if he makes an appearance, he wants some cash kicked his way to help him get rid of his presidential campaign debt.

More mortgage chicanery
Countrywide didn't just write sub-primes for high-risk buyers, the CEO went out of his way to show preferential treatment to power brokers. Before his company's fall from grace, CEO Angelo Mozilo looked for influence in Washington however he could get it, through campaign contributions, high-priced lobbyists and easy lending via the "Friends of Angelo" loan program that gave preferential treatment - not just to power brokers but even to financial journalists. Savings offered under the FOA program do not appear to amount to more than a few hundred or thousand dollars, but the appearance of impropriety is pretty damning.

Cheney fesses up to lying
, but only after Mel Martinez (R, Fla) called him a liar from the Senate floor and ensconced that fact in the congressional record. His confession wasn't about the big lies that have gotten so many people killed, but to the one about the Chinese drilling for oil off the coast of Cuba. With politicians of both stripes squabbling over what to do about rising gasoline prices, Democrats pounced on Cheney's fabrication and used it as a cudgel to bash the liars in the GOP, accusing them of spreading the Cuba-China rumor as a "scare tactic" meant to force Congress to lift a ban that prevents drilling along the Outer Continental Shelf and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. "By perpetuating this myth, the Republicans and their friends in Big Oil are acting as the modern day masters of deception," said Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., accusing the party of "scaring up the ghosts of communism and xenophobia."

An empirical positive on smoking bans Since smoking was banned in public places in England, the number of patients being admitted through emergency rooms for heart attacks has dropped 40%. The British Heart Foundation said that it showed the ban was the “most significant public health initiative this century”.

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