Category Archives: government

Cheney’s memoir due in 2011

Threshold Editions, a division of Simon and Schuster has signed a book deal with former Vice President Dick Cheney. Cheney’s memoir is due to be released a few months after President George W. Bush’s is due to hit the stores.
The book, yet to be titled will cover his career in government from when he served as President Ford’s chief of staff through his Bush years. The book will also cover Cheney’s involvement as chief executive officer of the oilfield services provider, Halliburton Co.

AP quotes Cheney:

“I’m persuaded there are a lot of interesting stories that ought to be told,” Cheney said. “I want my grandkids, 20 or 30 years from now, to be able to read it and understand what I did, and why I did it.”

Cheney is said to be writing the book in longhand and on his computer with the help of his daughter Liz Cheney.

Generally books written by vice presidents do not attract much public interest. In the case of Dick Cheney however, it is expected that his memoir will be a best seller.

Its speculated that the deal will fetch Cheney about $2 million.

“He knows he’s called Darth Vader,” said Simon & Schuster’s Carolyn Reidy. “He’s aware of how he’s been portrayed. But I didn’t feel any defensiveness when I met with him. I remember thinking, `I can see why four presidents gave him very responsible jobs in their administrations.'”

FEMA evicting Katrina trailer dwellers at end of May

t doesn’t matter though that FEMA programs meant to house those in the trailers have failed to do what they have been funded to do. May 31 is the last day the trailers will be allowed for the still homeless Katrina victims. They may not have a place to go but FEMA isn’t interested, at the end of May families must leave the trailers that the agency rented out to victims of Katrina. Letters have been sent and received by the residents saying to vacate their trailer on May 30 or face legal action.

The New York Times reports:

“All I can say is that this is a temporary program, it was always intended as a temporary program, and at a certain point all temporary programs must end,” said Brent Colburn, the agency’s director of external affairs. He said there would be no extensions.

More that 4,000 Louisiana homeowners have only gotten money to rebuild their homes in the last six months. They are the lucky ones, many more haven’t any funding to help them rebuild their damaged homes. There hasn’t been time nor the money for those victims to have their former homes ready by the deadline that will take away their temporary housing at the end of May.

The promised 500 Katrina Cottages have yet to make it onto streets. Meant to replace the FEMA trailers they each cost $25,000 to build. Despite a $74.5 million grant to get the homes finished in time for those living in the trailers no one will be moving from their trailer to a cottage. reports:

In their responses to the audit, the LRA and Cypress offered similar explanations: It’s not our fault, and we’re making progress.

Rep. Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans, called that “typical finger-pointing that accomplishes nothing.”

“It’s taken a long time, and we’re just not getting anything done,” Abramson said. “It’s the typical government bureaucracy at its slowest.”

At this point the homes should be finished by September 17, 2009 according to FEMA. Of course LRA Executive Director Paul Rainwater has backed away from 500 to 300 units as a more realistic goal.

Construction has only begun on two sites: one in Baton Rouge and another at Jackson Barracks in New Orleans. The Jackson Barracks units will house state Military Department employees.

NOLA reports:

Rainwater said Monday, “We are making progress in the program, with infrastructure under construction at Jackson Barracks, slabs poured and framing under way at sites in Baton Rouge and environmental reviews well under way in other locations.”

The Katrina Cottages are part of the Road Home program for single-family homeowners.

It’s not just those in the trailers that will be out on the curb at the end of May, those being housed in hotels are also about to lose their funding.

Most of those still in the trailers and hotels aren’t able to just run out and get a good paying job to help keep a roof over their heads after the levees broke during Hurricane Katrina. Those still in the trailers are mainly the elderly, disabled or both, including double amputees, diabetes patients, the mentally ill, people prone to seizures and others dependent on oxygen tanks.

The New York Times highlighted the plight of Phillipp Seelig, 70. He is a retired handyman who expects to be living on an empty lot when FEMA hauls away the trailer he’s been residing in at the end of May.
He didn’t release the needed grant to elevate his home to the required height until December. His duplex should be ready to live in around July.

“They had helped me out up until this point, and I couldn’t believe that they suddenly decided, no, we’re not going to let you finish the house, we’re just going to take the trailer, and you can sit here on an empty lot,” said Philipp Seelig.

The government’s stance is that they have bent over backwards to help people get housing and that they just haven’t taken it.

Those interviewed by the New York Times have a different story. Take the case of Troy Porter, 47, who has been in a hotel since last June. He suffers from depression.

“The only time I’ve seen FEMA workers was in the last couple of weeks, where they come and give you the paper saying this month is your last month,” Mr. Porter said. “They handed you the paper, and they turned around and walked off.”

Last year a program to unveil a more intensive caseworker system for those in temporary housing by the Louisiana Recovery Authority never made it past the paper. Now that authority is asking homeless service groups to help those who will be homeless at the end of the month.

FEMA is saying that it has offered to sell the trailers to residents for as little as $300. That is the opposite of what those in the trailer say is happening. They are asking to buy their trailer and being told they can’t do that.

Jane Batty, Mr. Seelig’s longtime tenant, who has her own trailer next to his, was not surprised. “There is only one way to categorize this kind of behavior: it’s crazy making,” she said. “They’ve always had a different answer or had a different ploy to get us out of trailers that we had already agreed to buy.”

Canadian Prime Minister Makes Surprise Afghanistan Trip

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made a surprise trip to Kandahar Airfield on Thursday. While visiting the troops he warned that the increase of NATO troops in the area will lead to more violence.
This was Harper’s third visit to Kandahar.

The increase of 17,000 soldiers from the United States will allow Canada to be more effective Harper said while touring the military post.

CP 24 reports:

“The addition of American troops will allow us to do everything we’re doing now but on a much bigger scale and able to multi-task more effectively,” he said.

Harper used the time to emphasis the key development projects that are being undertaken by Canadian soldiers.

CBC reports:

Harper said that when the Canadian mission began in 2002, the Taliban had been running Afghanistan as though it were a medieval country.

“Those dark desperate days have ended. You have brought hope to those who have none,” Harper said at an appearance at Kandahar Airfield.

Harper visited the Dahla dam project that Canada has committed $50 million to help rebuilt along with the roads and waterways that are connected to it. The residents of the area rely on the dam for irrigation.

The Vancouver Sun reports:

Achievements “have not come without a cost,” Harper acknowledged in his address to soldiers. “Canada has paid dearly for this mission with our most precious asset, our brave sons and daughters . . . As prime minister, the phone calls that I make to the families of the fallen are the most difficult part of my job.”

Harper announced that Canada will also be sending $2 million in aid for UNICEF to use for education for the estimated 18,000 children in Kandahar.

Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk and Ron Hoffmann, Canada’s ambassador to Afghanistan joined Harper on Thursday.

“Canada was spread thin in the past,” Hoffmann told reporters as the prime minister handed out coffee to soldiers nearby.

“There has not been sufficient forces on the ground to do this job,” Natynczyk later added.

“We’ve been trying to do this job with about 40,000 troops. That is totally insufficient.”

Study: Canada’s Latest Bunch of MPs Have Less Education

Who says the common man can’t rule the land? In Canada the latest MP’s are less educated, less experienced and more non-ethnic their counterpoints in the United States. A study says they are also more likely to have business in their background.
The Public Policy Forum report says that the last election brought in a batch of MPs that have less than five years total experience in politics. Only three per cent of MPs have more than 15 years of experience and almost all of those are Liberals.

One small change that the last election changed was ethnic diversity or lack there of.

Education wise about two-thirds of MPs do have a university degree. In the United States 93 per cent of representatives have at least one degree.

Being elected in Canada doesn’t require as much money which may pinpoint why Canada’s MPs may have more middle class representatives than in the United States. It costs about $62,000 to run a campaign in Canada for MP. Most House seat campaigns in the United States fall just short of $800,000.

While fresh ‘blood’ in Parliament keeps the system fresh some critics wonder if it’s for the best.

The Canadian Press reports:

“We have very few career politicians currently in our Parliament and most of our MPs are new in terms of their experience. They’re still learning the ropes. And that might in part explain the partisanship and rancour that we see in the House of Commons today.”

David Mitchell, president of the Public Policy Forum cites “an unprecedented level of partisan acrimony and a high degree of distrust between elected representatives and the federal public service.”

“With 75 per cent of our politicians knowing only these dynamics of minority Parliament, has our political culture been altered? Is this a positive development?

“I think some important questions are raised.”

Doctor of Political Science Stephen Purdy talked to Digital Journal on the telephone about his thoughts of the findings. In his opinion “real life experience in the community service sector is the most important element when it comes to becoming an MP, regardless of education background. While education can be important element in the politics of it all the point of an MP is to be a true representative of their riding and for those in office to know what the people at home need and want. They need to be able to work for the people. Law and business degrees can be important but just as important is knowing the inner workings of their communities.”

Dr. Purdy also said that there are similarities between the United States House and the Parliament of Canada as they are both democracy in action.

The lack of experience that may be facing today’s Parliament isn’t as much a concern for Dr. Purdy as if the MPs don’t stick around long enough to bring about changes that are needed.

“In the best of both worlds there would be those who have the education and those who have the real life work experience within communities forming the government.”

Supreme Court Justice David Souter Retiring

For more than 18 years Supreme Court Justice David Souter has sat on the nation’s highest court. Source says he might be retiring at the age of 69 in June when the current court recesses.
Souter has been on the Supreme Court since 1990 when then President George H.W. Bush appointed him. He proved to be a moderate judge to the disappointment of many conservatives.

Filling Souter’s seat will be President Obama’s first Supreme Court appointment. The last seat filled was Samuel Alito in 2006 by President George W. Bush.

Souter’s announcement was a surprise to Washington. While the announcement was a surprise it is known in Washington circles that Souter much prefers the quiet of his quiet home to the life he leads in Washington D.C.

The Rhodes Scholar earned his law degrees at Harvard University. He rose through the ranks becoming New Hampshire’s attorney general in 1976 and became a state court judge in 1978. In 1990 he was on the federal appeals court in Boston just a few months before he was picked by President Bush for the Supreme Court.

CTV’s Fecan Asks Government For Cable Regulation

Is it time for the Canadian government to step in and regulate cable rates? CTVglobal media Inc.’s chief executive Ivan Fecan thinks so.
Fecan spoke in front of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission seeking a renewal of its TV licence on a one-year basis instead of the typical seven-year term. The request is a result of the financial crisis.

CTVglobal has a three point reform plan that they are presenting to parliment.

1. The immediate implementation of fee for carriage. “Fee-for-carriage
does not need to impact the consumer nor will it invoke undue harm to
the cable and satellite industry,” said Mr. Fecan. “This is an
industry-to-industry matter”.

2. Satellite carriage for local TV stations. “We simply would like the
CRTC to uphold Parliament’s clear statement in the Broadcasting Act
that calls for priority carriage of local television stations.”

3. A hybrid digital transition strategy. “We cannot justify an
investment of several hundred million dollars to reach 9% of the
marketplace, particularly when this investment produces no additional
revenue in a business that is already teetering on the edge.”

The economic crisis is forcing private broadcasters to write down their value of assets by billions. CTVglobalmedia is planning on closing to stations by August in Windsor and Wingham, Ontario. Earlier this year in March it announced that 118 newsroom jobs were being cut and that morning shows at A Channels had been canceled. The company is not seeking licence renewal for a station in Brandon, Manitoba.

Financial Post reports:

“Please understand this is not a cash grab or greed from a private broadcaster. This is real. We are not bluffing,” Mr. Fecan said, adding that unless the CRTC introduces relief CTVglobemedia may be forced to shut down additional stations.

He’s not alone with the concern.

“We have cut every conceivable cost,” said Richard Gray, head of national news at CTVglobemedia’s A Channel chain.

The National Post reports that Fecan criticized the federal regulator.

“What I’m telling you is you are playing chicken with the studios, and the consequence may very well be the end of broadcasting as we know it in Canada,” Mr. Fecan told Mr. von Finckenstein at a special hearing into the state of the industry.

“What are you trying to achieve? I’m at a loss to consider why you, Mr. Chairman, who have no skin in this game, why you would play this kind of risk with our business.”

Fecan’s comments are in contrast to those made last week by Phil Lind, Vice Chairman of Rogers Communications Inc. before Parliament’s Heritage Committee. Lind said that the Canadian television industry is not in a crisis and believes that the call for fee-for-carriage was simply an unneeded tax on consumers.

On Thursday Canwest is expected to speak about their need to apply for a one-year licence.

‘There Is No Bed Available’- Sad Reality For Sick Out of Ontario

You’ve prepared for your vacation out of the country with travel insurance, medical insurance and a passport handy. Then the worse case scenario happens, you become ill and want to get home. If you’re from Ontario you may find there’s no bed available.
Just yesterday that case was illustrated when Victoria George-Pazzano’s family was told that there was no bed in all of Southern Ontario for her after she became critically ill following an asthma attack in Mexico. She has since been flown back to the province and her family is with her at the Peterborough Regional Health Centre.

She is not alone. Each year Ontarians that get ill out of the country face not being able to have a bed. One politician that is working on this issue is Frank Klees, MPP for Newmarket-Aurora. Klees is now running for Premier with the Progressive Conservative party. One of his biggest platforms is health care issues for those living in Ontario.

In an interview with Digital Journal Wednesday morning Klees expressed his concern not only in the George-Pazzano case but all of the other cases that he has seen that the same action took place. He has been involved with Victoria’s plight but is not taking credit for helping her return home, although he could take partial credit. His voice in Parliament does speak louder than just the common man when getting the powers that be to listen.

“The case reveals the real tragedy. The family did all the right things, they got insurance for example. Then when tragedy hit they were told there were no beds available. This is a problem of communication between the government and the management of the hospitals and the Ministry of Health. It shows that the Ministry of Health does not know what is really going on in the system.”

Klees wants to bridge the huge gaps that are going on between the Health Ministry and the realities of health care in the province. He also wants those in Ontario to be aware that this issue could face them if they get sick outside of the country and want to be repatriated into a Ontario hospital.

“It’s a great concern that no one can assume that they can return home to Ontario if they get sick out of the country.”

That’s not how it looks on paper but it’s the sad truth for some of those who have had to hear the words ‘there’s no beds available.’

Lawmaker suggests Asians change names to be easier to deal with

Asians in Texas were told this week by State Representative Betty Brown to change their names to ones that are “easier for Americans to deal with.”
Brown made a statement during House testimony on voter identification legislation that those of Asian-descent should change their names to ones that are “easier for Americans to deal with.”

Late Tuesday Brown made the comment. Later a spokesperson for Brown said that the comments were only an attempt to overcome problems with identifying Asian names for voting purposes.

The Houston Chronicle reports:

“Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?” Brown said.

Brown later told Ko: “Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?”

Ramey Ko, 28, was the man the comments were directed to Tuesday night. He is a Democrat and founder of Asian Americans for Obama.He was testifying that Asians often have problems at the voting polls because some IDS show phonetic spellings or family names while others show Americanized names.

After the comments about changing their Chinese name Brown had more for the court to heart.

The Star-Telegram reports:

Brown later asked, “Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?”

Mr. Ko found her comments not malicious but subtle racism.

The US announces CIA secret prisons to be closed

Agency employees were sent an e-mail today telling them that the CIA is no longer in the secret prison business and that there are plans underway to permanently shutter them. the e-mail was sent by CIA Director Leon Panetta.
CIA Director Leon Panetta has told Congress no new prisoners have been taken in since he took the reins of the agency in February. Panetta also informed Congress that the CIA has stopped all contracts with private companies that were used for security at secret overseas CIA prisons. Those contracts were costing up to $4 million a year.

BBC reports:

“CIA no longer operates detention facilities or black sites,” Mr Panetta said in a letter to staff. Remaining sites would be decommissioned, he said.

President Obama had vowed during his campaign to shut down the secret prisons that former President Bush’s administration had allowed the CIA to operate. During his first week in office, Obama ordered the closure of black sites and the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. President Obama has also ordered a review of the detention and interrogation policies on terror suspects.

BBC reports that there is a true change in the new White House administration on terms of detainees.

In his letter, Mr Panetta also stressed that the CIA no longer employed controversial “harsh interrogation techniques”, like “waterboarding”, or simulated drowning, which have been widely condemned.

“CIA officers do not tolerate, and will continue to promptly report, any inappropriate behaviour or allegations of abuse,” he said.

That said the CIA has the right to hold prisoners temporarily according to Panetta is they are taken. Those detainees would be only interrogated though by agency employees before being returned to their home country or the county that has a legal claim in a quick manner.

In 2005 it was revealed that the United States was running secret CIA prisons overseas. That revelation prompted world-wide outrage tainting the image of President George Bush.

Kal Penn Leaves ‘House’ for the White House

When Kal Penn left the show House on Monday night it wasn’t because he had been fired. Penn is on his way to another House to work, the White House.
During the Obama Campaign the actor volunteered. He and the President got along so well he was offered a job with the administration. Penn whose real name is Kalpen Modi, will serve as a liaison connecting the Obama administration with arts and entertainment groups.Kal Penn will officially be the associate director in the White House office of public liaison.

His new job will allow him to be an outreach to the American public and with different groups. He will be helping remove the red tape for the general public and the White House.

His new office is in the executive building.

Penn has been interested in politics for quite some time. While he loves acting he is also a huge fan of those political science classes. He studied international studies at Stanford in 2006.

He was given the blessing of the producers, David Shore and Katie Jacobs to pursue this new phase in his life.

Entertainment Weekly quotes the actor’s explanation for leaving the hit television show.

I was incredibly honored a couple of months ago to get the opportunity to go work in the White House. I got to know the President and some of the staff during the campaign and had expressed interest in working there, so I’m going to be the associate director in the White House office of public liaison. They do outreach with the American public and with different organizations. They’re basically the front door of the White House. They take out all of the red tape that falls between the general public and the White House. It’s similar to what I was doing on the campaign.