Lewis LibbyMurray Waas of the National Journal is reporting that Lewis Libby (the indicted, former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney) is claiming that he was authorized by Vice President Cheney and (indirectly) President Bush to disclose classified information to the media on matters ranging from Saddam Hussein’s "purported efforts to develop nuclear weapons" and on Valerie "Plame’s CIA employment and potential role in her husband’s (Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s) trip" at the behest of the CIA to investigate the WMD issue.
Link here for the complete National Journal story.
Some ISDs maybe be looking to up the positive vote on bond proposals
The Dallas County Election Administration may not have enough equipment and logistical support to handle mobile voting requests in November, say some election officials. There are rumors that an additional Dallas County school district will use mobile voting in the fall.
Mobile voting – an election practice used for disabled persons and other people who cannot go to standard voting sites for valid reasons – is sometimes used by school districts that are having bond elections. When mobile voting equipment is requested, equipment is brought out to sites and at times set by the district requesting the voting equipment.
Some have criticized mobile voting being used by school districts, claiming that it resembles a racket where schools manipulate the vote on things like bond packages.
“PTA beats the drum and does whatever it wants,” said one source, who spoke to the DallasBlog. Parent Teacher Association meetings have been a popular choice for sites by school districts that have requested mobile voting.
Currently, two school districts in Dallas County are using mobile voting: Lancaster and Coppell. Mesquite ISD used mobile voting in 2003 and has expressed interest in using mobile voting in November, according to an assistant elections administrator with Dallas County. Coppell has used mobile voting for school board and bonds elections in the past.
Bruce Sherbet, the Dallas County Elections Administrator, spoke to the DallasBlog about mobile voting and said that there are two schools of thought on the issue. “One school thinks that, with mobile voting, districts can improve turnout,” said Sherbet. “The other school thinks that districts will use it to manipulate the vote.”
Resources are also an issue. According to Sherbet, mobile voting can be a “logistical nightmare” since mobile voting equipment is limited. “It’s not really much of a problem in May. It’s usually only a problem when there’s bond elections,” said Sherbet.
Sherbet said that a shortage of “direct record voting devices” in November could be an issue if enough districts request mobile voting equipment. “The biggest challenge is actual voting devices. I can guarantee you many other counties won’t have enough,” said Sherbet.
As it gets closer to November, the number of districts asking for mobile voting could change. According to one official in Grand Prairie ISD, there are rumors that mobile voting could be used in November’s election if there is a bond proposal on the ballot.
“At this point I’m going to say that the answer is no for this year,” said David Crittenden, an operations official with Grand Prairie ISD. “Not for the spring election. There is a rumor that we might have a bond election in the fall.”
Crittenden told the DallasBlog that Grand Prairie ISD had used mobile voting in past years, and that the district recommended that school administrators use it at PTA meetings. “We encouraged them, though we didn’t require them to hold it at the PTA meetings,” said Crittenden.
When asked why Grand Prairie ISD began using mobile voting a few years ago, Crittenden said that the district had talked to several districts that used it in the 90’s and those districts claimed that it helped the “positive vote.”
“Because there was a bond election, we did feel it was going to enhance positive votes,” said Crittenden. When asked for comment on the view that some districts use mobile voting to manipulate the vote, Crittenden said the sentiment in district was that the election itself would give negative votes the same chance on bond proposals.
“Our district did believe that the added cost was money well spent,” said Crittenden, who claimed that the District eyed the potential to get bond proposals passed through using mobile voting.
Crittenden also said that bond packages are typically for funds to enlarge or build new schools and that no bond money can be used for salaries.
Carl Pellegrini, our resident economist, brought to our attention this news out of China today about the government’s decision to allow businesses and residents to own more foreign currency. This may mean that China’s government will be buying fewer U.S. dollars going forward. Currently, China’s official reserves amount to more than $850 billion in U.S. dollars, reportedly even more reserves than are being held by the Japanese government.
Isnt’ it financially risky for the U.S. to be so dependent on China and Japan buying our dollars in order to fund our huge trade and budget deficits?
Here is the full story from the China Daily:
BEIJING, April 6 -- China is shifting from stockpiling foreign exchange reserves in State coffers to letting businesses and residents hold more foreign currency, a top central bank official said yesterday.
The policy adjustment will help reduce pressure on the authorities to mop up excess liquidity in the forex market to enforce the trading band of the renminbi exchange rate, analysts say.
Wu Xiaoling, deputy governor of the People's Bank of China (PBOC), said: "A deficit in international balance of payments is not good, but too big a surplus is not helpful either."
"Therefore we must readjust the economic structure," she said, adding that the forex policy should be adjusted accordingly.
China is not pursuing huge forex reserves, Wu said.
She stressed that the new policy stance is having more forex reserves "held by," instead of "hidden among," the people, clarifying misinterpretations in some recent media reports.
As foreign trade surpluses continued to grow, China's official reserves rose to US$853.6 billion at the end of February, reportedly overtaking Japan as the biggest holder for the first time.
The rapid increases in China's reserves resulted from policies that encouraged foreign direct investment and exports, as well as a forex administration regime that keeps tight controls on outflows but imposes little restriction on inflows, Wu said.
The changes in a nation's forex reserves eventually reflect its macroeconomic performance and international payments, and there is no scientific method to measure the appropriate level, she said.
Continued trade surpluses and inflow of foreign investment in recent years have led to rapid accumulation of China's forex reserves, a scarce commodity at a time of rigid central planning.
Expectations of a stronger renminbi only fuelled the trend, with speculative capital flowing in and businesses taking more forex loans. Speculation of a further revaluation of renminbi remains strong in the marketplace even after China revalued the currency, which some trading partners complain is undervalued, by 2 per cent against the US dollar last July.
The rapid forex increases have been forcing the central bank to issue more local currency to buy the excess dollars and enforce the trading band of the renminbi, complicating monetary policy operations at a time of ample liquidity in the banking system.
Wu noted the central bank has taken a slew of measures to loosen capital controls, which allow businesses to keep more forex and sell less to banks. It also allows individuals to buy more forex from banks for such purposes as overseas travel and studies.
Will Pryor, candidate for the 32nd Congressional District, endorsed Sunday's upcoming march in support of the McCain-Kennedy bill.
This Sunday's MARCH for Dignity, Respect and Hope is being organized by LULAC.
"I encourage public participation in whatever way your conscience leads you - whether to march, register new voters, volunteer with local community organizations or simply be part of the democratic system by turning out to vote in November," says Pryor.
Pryor is running against incumbent Republican Congressman Pete Sessions.
The London Daily Telegraph reports that a new study by scientists published in the British Journal of Neuroscience reveals that "premature babies experience real pain rather than just displaying reflex reactions." The story quotes Prof. Maria Fitzgerald who led the team of scientists as saying, "We have shown for the first time that the information about pain reaches the brain in premature babies."
The Telegraph notes that "Britain has the highest rate of low birth-weight babies in Western Europe."
To read the full story entitled "Premature babies can feel pain, scans show," link here (registration required).
Condoleezza RiceBoth the UK Guardian and the New York Times are reporting that the Shiite-backed Iraqi Prime Minister, Ibrahim Jaafari, is refusing to step down as head of the country’s next government even though various factions in Iraq remain deadlocked over the efforts to establish a national unity government.
Mr. Jaafari had strong backing from the more militant faction of the Shiites and managed to get the Shiite nod by only one vote over Adel Abdel Mahdi, who is viewed as more of a moderate. The problem is that, while the Shiites won the largest bloc of votes in the recent elections, they don’t control a majority of seats. Moreover, the Sunnis, Kurds, and secular parties refuse to accept Jaafari as the leader of the new Iraqi government. Thus, a stalemate has ensued; and Secretary of State, Rice was unable to make any headway to persuade getting Jaafari to step down during her recent visit to Iraq.
In fact, she may have made the Prime Minister more determined to remain in power, according to the Guardian:
"Iraqi’s embattled prime minister has defiantly refused to give up his claim to head the country’s next government in spite of strong American and British pleas for an end to a deadlock which has paralysed the country for almost four months. In an exclusive interview with the Guardian in Baghdad – his first since Condoleezza Rice and Jack Straw pleaded with him and his rivals for an immediate agreement to prevent a slide to civil war – Ibrahim Jaafari insisted he would continue to carry out his duties. "I heard their points of view even though I disagree with them," he said, referring to Ms. Rice and Mrs. Straw’s hectic arm-twisting visit to the Iraqi capital which ended on Monday. Using the argument that the US and Britain has toppled Saddam in order to bring democracy, he turned it against them. "There is a decision that was reached by a democratic mechanism and I stand with it … We have to protect democracy in Iraq and it is democracy which should decide who leads Iraq. We have to respect our Iraqi people," he said."
"Making the world safe for democracy" is a more complicated situation than its proponents may have realized.
If you see someone in traditional Muslim garb at the Samsung/Radio Shack 500 this weekend at the Texas Motor Speedway, it's even odds that it's one of those Dateline NBC novelty cake toppers out desperately trying to find bigots.
Here's hoping Dateline producers don't rig their test subjects like they did the GM truck in that 1992 crash segment.
At long last we're no longer alone covering the whole Forward Dallas! boondoggle.
The quote from Councilmember Ed Oakley is a keeper. If people want high density next to light rail lines, then the city doesn't need to incentivize them with tax breaks, developmental fee waivers and prohibitive zoning. Developers don't get rich building product that people don't like.