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Burris to be Seated

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

By Kate Phillips
The New York Times

Updated Senate Democratic leaders today cleared the way for Roland Burris to be seated as a senator from Illinois, after his appointment by the state’s now impeached governor had turned into a weeklong spectacle shifting between the nation’s capital and the corruption scandal back in Illinois.

Now, it’s likely that Mr. Burris, 71 and a former state attorney general, may be sworn in to the Senate as early as later this week in a ceremony presided over by Vice President Cheney. His seating will bring the Democratic Senate majority to 58, including two independents.

At a news conference in Chicago a short while ago, Mr. Burris said, “I’m truly humbled and honored to learn that later this week I will officially be sworn into the United States Senate as the Illinois junior senator.”

Late last month, Gov. Rod Blagojevich defied critics by naming Mr. Burris to replace President-elect Barack Obama, setting off a firestorm of criticism that the appointment was tainted because the governor already faced criminal allegations that the Senate seat was up for sale in a “pay-to-play” scheme. As late as midday Friday, Senate officials were insisting that Mr. Burris lacked the necessary credentials – under Senate rules – because the Illinois secretary of state, citing the tainted appointment, refused to sign the governor’s appointment papers....(Click for remainder).


First Daily Kos State of the Nation Poll

By Kos
Daily Kos

Every week, Research 2000 will poll 2,400 adults nationwide to get an idea of public sentiment for Obama, the Congressional leadership, the two parties in Congress, the two political parties, and sentiment for direction of the country. The first poll was conducted last week.

With the arrival of this week's results this Friday, you'll start seeing cool trendline graphs and whatnot. And longer term, we'll be implementing tools to allow you to create custom graphs. (e.g., graphing Latino views on Obama over a specific time period.) All of this data is being stored in a database, so we'll be able to do fun stuff to it in the future.

But as you look to the crosstabs of these maiden poll, take a look at the regional breakdowns. Three are very similar, and one is not. In fact, it's as if the South was a whole different country. I don't say that to start a round of South-bashing, which is counterproductive and pointless. But it's hard to escape the reality that while the rest of the country is pretty similar in its views toward the parties and leadership, the South goes its own way....(Click for remainder).


Bush to make farewell speech on Thursday

Goodbye you ass monkey.

By Reuters via Talking Points Memo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush will deliver a televised farewell address to the American people on Thursday night, the White House said.

Bush, who leaves office on Jan. 20 when Barack Obama is sworn in, will give a 10-15 minute speech in front of an audience in the East Room of the White House, press secretary Dana Perino said Monday.

It will be Bush's last scheduled public event before he steps down, and comes as he tries to burnish a presidential legacy marked by the unpopular war in Iraq and the worst financial crisis in nearly 80 years.

"This is not going to be a swan song to the president's administration, although he will defend his record, but it will be very gracious to President-elect Obama," Perino said.

"It's not something where he's trying to refight old battles. It's a very thoughtful, forward-looking speech in which the president will share the lessons he learned in office and his views on the future," Perino said....(Click for remainder).


Retailers have worst Christmas on record

By Daniel Pimlott and Elizabeth Rigby
The Financial Times

Britain’s retailers suffered their worst Christmas on record, according to dismal trading figures released on Tuesday that lay bare the pain felt by the high street over the festive period.

As Land of Leather on Monday night night joined the growing list of retailers forced to enter administration, the British Retail Consortium revealed that the value of sales fell 3.3 per cent lin December in stores on a like-for-like basis. Total sales fell by 1.4 per cent.

It is the biggest monthly decline in sales since the survey began in 1994 and capped off the worst year ever for the series.

Tesco is on Tuesday expected to deliver its worst Christmas performance since the early 1990s, as more keenly priced rivals chip away at its market share.

Figures obtained by the Financial Times on Monday show Aldi to be one such winner, with sales at the cut-price supermarket up 22.2 per cent in December. Morrisons revealed plans to create 5,000 jobs, while Poundland and pawnbroking company H&T Group reported strong sales.

Christmas is normally a buoyant season for the sector, but last year shopkeepers had to swallow a bitter cocktail of sluggish sales and painful price cuts as they fought to persuade reluctant shoppers to part with their cash.

The BRC survey began after the recession of the early 1990s, so does not cover a comparable period to the current retrenchment; it also reflects the 2.5 percentage point cut in VAT....(Click for remainder).


Scarborough Singing Torture’s Praises Again

By Jane Hamsher

Joe Scarborough weighs in this morning with an opinion on the effectiveness of torture on Kalid Shaikh Mohammed:
SCARBOROUGH: I know for a fact that waterboarding brought our interrogators, brought Americans, probably about 70-75 percent of what they get. What they got from Khalid Shaikh Mohammed opened doors that we are still going through. Waterboarding has produced and given so much evidence to our people in the CIA and in the other intelligence agencies. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed by himself has done more to crush al Qaeda than Dick Cheney or George Bush because of waterboarding.
For a fact? Really?

From Jane Mayer's book, The Dark Side:
While Tenet continued to assure the White House that Mohammed's interrogation in particular had been a gold mine of invaluable intelligence, a few officers began to question the reliability of his coerced confessions. Some also feared that the torturous methods used by the Agency would undermine eventual efforts to convict him in any legitimate court. Mohammed claimed responsibility for so many crimes that his testimony began to seem inherently dubious. In addition to confessing to the [Daniel] Pearl murder, he said that he had hatched plans to assassinate President Clinton, President Carter, and Pope John Paul II. CIA cables carrying Mohammed's interrogation transcirpts back to Washington with the warning that "the detainee has been known to withhold information or deliberately mislead."

After Mohammed had been interrogated for some time, a top Agency official asked for a few choice revelations from his confession that he could share with officers from an allied foreign intelligence agency. To his surprise, he was told by top CIA officials that there really was noting "solid" enough to pass on. Although few outside of the CIA knew it, Mohammed had recanted substantial portions of his initial confessions.

Mohammed brazenly boasted later about his ability to mislead the United States. He claimed that false information he fabricated caused the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to issue urgent terrorist threat alerts on several occasions, for no real reason. He just wanted the interrogators to stop, he said, so he told them whatever they wanted to hear.
(Click for remainder).



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