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Archive for January 29th, 2009

Gov. Blago’s Image Quickly Wiped Clean from Official State Website

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Well, that didn’t take long.
Not long after the state Senate booted Gov. Rod Blagojevich out of office Thursday afternoon , the state of Illinois wiped clean his image on the official website and declared Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn the new man in charge.
Here’s the message on the Governor’s home page on the website:

SPRINGFIELD – January 29, 2009. Former Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn has become the 41st Governor of the State of Illinois, having taken the Oath of Office at 5:40 p.m. on Thursday, January 29, 2009 The Oath of Office was administered by Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke in a brief ceremony in the Chamber of the Illinois House of Representatives.
“I pledge an open and fair state government worthy of being called the Land of Lincoln,” Quinn said. “The people of Illinois have the right to expect integrity and diligence from their elected officials.”
On Thursday, the Illinois Senate convicted Governor Blagojevich on Articles of Impeachment the House passed earlier this month. Therefore, under Article V, Section 6 ( c ) of the Constitution of the State of Illinois, the Lt. Governor assumes all duties and powers of Governor.
“In the coming days, we will face some tough choices. I am confident that by working together we will meet these challenges to emerge a much stronger and vibrant state.”
Governor Quinn reminds Illinois citizens of President Abraham Lincoln’s immortal words: “Government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from this earth.”

see website

GOING GOING……..GONE: Gov Blago Removed From Office on a Vote of 59-0

No surprise the yapping Governor of Illinois has been removed from office. But don’t expect him to vanish from the public spotlight any time soon. He’ll have more tv appearances and he still faces trial on the charges.

BY DAVE MCKINNEY, CHRIS FUSCO AND CAROL MARIN
Chicago Sun-Times
SPRINGFIELD– Gov. Blagojevich at 4:51 p.m. today became the first governor in Illinois’ 190-year history to be driven from office by impeachment.
Senators voted 59-0 to oust the governor, who was arrested Dec. 9 on federal corruption charges. Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn is at the Capitol and is set to be sworn in as the state’s 43rd governor.
» Click to enlarge image
Gov. Rod Blagojevich makes his final plea to the state Senate in Springfield before they voted to impeach him. “Let me show you that I’m innocent and I didn’t do anything wrong,” said Blagojevich.

FBI Cuts Off Contact With Islamic Group

Interestingly enough, in the post 9/11 era, the FBI prided itself on fostering relationships with Islamic groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Now that’s changing. Will this set back FBI relations with the Islamic American communities across the country?

By Mary Jacoby
IPT News
WASHINGTON — The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has cut off contacts with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) amid mounting concern about the Muslim advocacy group’s roots in a Hamas-support network, the Investigative Project on Terrorism has learned.
The decision to end contacts with CAIR was made quietly last summer as federal prosecutors prepared for a second trial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), an Islamic charity accused of providing money and political support to the terrorist group Hamas, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
CAIR and its chairman emeritus, Omar Ahmad, were named un-indicted co-conspirators in the HLF case. Both Ahmad and CAIR’s current national executive director, Nihad Awad, were revealed on government wiretaps as having been active participants in early Hamas-related organizational meetings in the United States. During testimony, FBI agent Lara Burns described CAIR as a front organization.
Hamas is a US-designated foreign terrorist organization, and it’s been illegal since 1995 to provide support to it within the United States.

For Full Story

UPDATE: FBI spokesman John Miller issued a statement early Thursday afternoon in response to the story: ” The FBI has had to limit its formal contact with CAIR field offices until certain issues are addressed by CAIR’s national headquarters. CAIR’s leadership is aware of this. Beyond that we have no further comment.”

Gov. Blago To Ill. Senate: “I’m Not Resigning”

Gov. Blago stuck to the script: Defiant and bold to the end.

BY CHRIS FUSCO and DAVE McKINNEY
Chicago Sun-Times
SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Blagojevich, making a final plea to the Illinois Senate to avoid being thrown out of office as early as this afternoon, declared this morning “I want to apologize to you guys, but I can’t; I did nothing wrong.”
The governor spoke for about 50 minutes, ending his statement at 11:55 a.m. Near the end, he told the senators, “I am not resigning.”
The governor, who kissed his wife goodbye at their Northwest Side front door before flying to Springfield to plead his case, was escorted into the Senate chamber at 11:05 a.m. by the senate’s sergeant at arms. That came after House prosecutor David Ellis made his closing statement to Illinois senators, the jurors of the governor’s fate.

For Full Story

LA U.S. Attorney Probing Cardinal in Connection to His Reponse to Child Molestations

Cardinal Roger Mahoney/cbs photo

Cardinal Roger Mahoney/cbs photo

Authorities are still looking for answers to what has clearly been one of the ugliest secrets in American religion. The question is: Who’s more guilty: The ones who committed sex crimes or the ones who covered them up or the ones who allowed them to continue?

By Scott Glover and Jack Leonard
Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — The U.S. attorney in Los Angeles has launched a federal grand jury investigation into Cardinal Roger M. Mahony in connection with his response to the molestation of children by priests in the Los Angeles Archdiocese, according to two law enforcement sources familiar with the case.
The probe, in which U.S. Atty. Thomas P. O’Brien is personally involved, is aimed at determining whether Mahony, and possibly other church leaders, committed fraud by failing to adequately deal with priests accused of sexually abusing children, said the sources, who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation.
For Full Story

House Strengthens Whistleblower Law For Fed Employees Including TSA

Whistleblowers have exposed wrongdoing in government that inspector generals and the media have often missed. They need more protection. Too often they find themselves being punished for stepping forward.

By Jim Abrams
Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The House voted yesterday to strengthen whistleblower protections for federal employees, including those working for the Transportation Security Administration and others employed in national security areas.
The bill also would create specific protections for those who expose abuses of authority by those trying to manipulate or censor scientific research in federal agencies for political purposes. Critics of the administration of former president George W. Bush alleged that scientific findings were often influenced by politics.
For Full Story

FBI and IRS Agents Raid Home in Slugger Barry Bonds Case

Trial is approaching and the feds are trying to put the hammer on Barry Bonds. Was the latest action a fishing expedition? We’ll soon find out when trial begins March 2 at 8:30  a.m.

By PAUL ELIAS
Associated Press Writer
SAN FRANCISCO — Some 20 federal agents on Wednesday morning raided the home of the mother-in-law of Barry Bonds’ personal trainer Greg Anderson.
Madeleine Gestas and her daughter Nicole Anderson, the trainer’s wife, are the target of a tax investigation that Anderson’s lawyer said is aimed at pressuring the trainer to testify at Bonds’ upcoming perjury trial.
Bonds, baseball’s career home run leader and a seven-time MVP, has pleaded not guilty to charges he lied to a federal grand jury in 2003 when he denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs.
“Even the mafia spares the women and children,” said attorney Mark Geragos, who represents Anderson.
Lead prosecutor Matthew Parrella didn’t immediately return a telephone call Wednesday.
Geragos said he believes the raid was in response to his refusal to tell prosecutors whether Anderson would testify. Geragos said he ignored a letter faxed to his Los Angeles office Monday by prosecutors that asked about Anderson’s plans for the Bonds’ trial.
For Full Story

In Baltimore the Drug Trade Has Created an “Informal Economy”

A scene from The Wire that highlighted Baltimore's drug trade

A Baltimore drug scene in the HBO show The Wire

Like other major cities, Baltimore has a drug trade that generates impressive revenue. Fair to say, some of that money goes for cars and homes and jewelry and restaurants and expensive bottles of Moet champagne. In Baltimore, they call it the “Informal Economy.” Here is an examination of an urban phenomena we know so little about.

By Edward Ericson Jr.
Baltimore City Paper
BALTIMORE — On Oct. 20, 2008, Mayor Sheila Dixon stood on a makeshift stage in the parking lot of Northwood Plaza, just off Loch Raven Boulevard in the city’s Hillen neighborhood. Behind her sat several City Council members, a community activist, and the authors of the press conference’s subject, a 60-page study that, among other things, claimed to find $1.2 billion of additional spending money in the 13 city neighborhoods studied. Behind the stage, brightly-painted cars with expensive 22-inch chrome wheels cruised by noisily, and behind those, a long-shuttered anchor store slouched.

Former City Councilman Kenneth Harris was gunned down on Sept. 20, during an early morning robbery of the New Haven Lounge jazz club, a few hundred feet away. The murder–the city’s 158th last year–galvanized the community to push even harder for the redevelopment city officials believe will stifle and remove the violent crime that has plagued the surrounding blocks. The newly minted economic report, called the “Baltimore Neighborhood Market DrillDown,” was presented by the mayor as the evidence needed to convince national retailers that Baltimore City is underrated as a market. The key metric: $872 million of previously uncounted income from what the report calls the “informal economy.”

Presented by Social Compact, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that specializes in these studies, the DrillDown “validates what we already knew through intuition and observation,” Dixon said, “that Baltimore is a strong market.”

Yet “intuition and observation” have also told generations of Baltimoreans that the city is full of drugs, with perhaps 50,000 addicts served by thousands of street-corner drug dealers. It’s a substantial business, and not the kind of enterprise near which grocery store owners want to locate. So it is perhaps not surprising that DrillDown’s authors finesse the question of just how that $872 million of “informal” income is earned.

“We quantify the informal economy, but we don’t say what kind of jobs go into it,” says John Talmage, Social Compact’s president and CEO.

For Full Story