Thursday, September 29, 2005

 

One for the good guys

Moments ago, John Roberts was sworn in as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, with President Bush looking tired but pleased at his side. I must say, I wish Mrs. Roberts had shown more emotion, but she looked a bit tired herself, of course.

God bless you, Justice Roberts, and may your life be a long and prosperous one. And on a personal note, may you always, always, annoy those who would pigeonhole you...

 

Locker room blues...er, pinks

This is absolutely hysterical. A law professor in Iowa--she has extremely short hair, and just saying this is going to get me hate mail saying how full of hatred I myself am--is looking into NCAA regulations on the allowable colors of locker rooms. The link below will also take you to a poll--the results of which, not surprisingly, show overwhelmingly that not too many people think that a pink locker room equals hatred of homosexuals.

Erin Buzuvis moved to Iowa from Boston in the fall and discovered the visiting team's locker room at Kinnick Stadium was pink -- something she said promotes sexism and homophobia.
But officials with the school's sports department said they won't change the pink walls, which is a long-time facet in Kinnick Stadium.

The color was introduced decades ago by former Hawkeye coach Hayden Fry to soften opponents. But recent stadium renovations added more pink items to the locker room, including lockers, sinks and urinals.

Buzuvis plans to speak with a school committee compiling a report on Iowa's compliance with NCAA regulations.

TheIowaChannel.com - Sports - Professor Says Pink Locker Room Promotes Sexism, Homophobia

For an even lengthier history of this pink locker room, including an explanation of its intention, please visit this link.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

 

Follow the money trail

Speaking of playing the blame game (don't you just love how liberals constantly have to reassure themselves with snappy catchphrases like "blame game?") let's follow the Louisiana money trail, shall we? Somehow, the following article, and it's attendant information, is failing utterly to make an appearance on mainstream media. Makes a fascinating read, though, and I am posting a large chunk here in its entirety. The whole article can be found at this link.

Louisiana Officials Indicted Before Katrina Hit

Federal audits found dubious expenditures by the state's emergency preparedness agency, which will administer FEMA hurricane aid.

By Ken Silverstein and Josh Meyer, Times Staff Writers

WASHINGTON — Senior officials in Louisiana's emergency planning agency already were awaiting trial over allegations stemming from a federal investigation into waste, mismanagement and missing funds when Hurricane Katrina struck.

And federal auditors are still trying to track as much as $60 million in unaccounted for funds that were funneled to the state from the Federal Emergency Management Agency dating back to 1998.

In March, FEMA demanded that Louisiana repay $30.4 million to the federal government.

The problems are particularly worrisome, federal officials said, because they involve the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, the agency that will administer much of the billions in federal aid anticipated for victims of Katrina.

Earlier this week, federal Homeland Security officials announced they would send 30 investigators and auditors to the Gulf Coast to ensure relief funds were properly spent.

Details of the ongoing criminal investigations come from two reports by the inspector general's office in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which oversees FEMA, as well as in state audits, and interviews this week with federal and state officials.

The reports were prepared by the federal agency's field office in Denton, Texas, and cover 1998 to 2003. Improper expenditures previously identified by auditors include a parka, a briefcase and a trip to Germany.

Much of the FEMA money that was unaccounted for was sent to Louisiana under the Hazard Mitigation Grant program, intended to help states retrofit property and improve flood control facilities, for example.

The $30.4 million FEMA is demanding back was money paid into that program and others, including a program to buy out flood-prone homeowners. As much as $30 million in additional unaccounted for spending also is under review in audits that have not yet been released, according to a FEMA official.

One 2003 federal investigation of allegedly misspent funds in Ouachita Parish, a district in northern Louisiana, grew into a probe that sprawled into more than 20 other parishes.

Mark Smith, a spokesman for the Louisiana emergency office, said the agency had responded to calls for reform, and that "we now have the policy and personnel in place to ensure that past problems aren't repeated."

He said earlier problems were largely administrative mistakes, not due to corruption.

But federal officials disagreed. They said FEMA for years expressed concerns over patterns of improper management and lax oversight throughout the state agency, and said most problems had not been corrected.

They point to criminal indictments of three state workers as evidence the problem was more than management missteps. Two other state emergency officials also were identified in court documents as unindicted co-conspirators.

"The charges were made after some very extensive reviews by FEMA investigators and other authorities, who identified issues they felt were of the severity and magnitude to refer them to the U.S. attorney's office," said David Passey, the spokesman for FEMA's regional office in Texas.

Passey, while acknowledging that the state had made some administrative changes, said it had not completed the kind of overhaul FEMA said was needed.

"It concerns us a lot. We are devoted to the mission of helping people prepare for, prevent and recover from disasters and we want these federal funds — this taxpayer money — to be spent and used well and in accordance with the rules," he said.

Keith Ashdown of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington watchdog group, said recent Louisiana history showed that FEMA "money earmarked for saving lives and homes'' was instead squandered in "a cesspool of wasteful spending."

Louisiana's emergency office receives money directly from FEMA. It passes on much of the funding to local governments that apply for assistance.

The audit reports said state operating procedures increased the likelihood of fraud and corruption going undetected.

 

Brown defends himself

Michael Brown, ex-head of FEMA, acquitted himself very well yesterday, I thought. He refused to be the sacrificial goat for the Democrats' blame game, and boldly called Louisiana "dysfunctional." FEMA has never been the first responder in crises such as Katrina, and it's about time someone stood up for themselves and said so.

"So I guess you want me to be the superhero, to step in there and take everyone out of New Orleans," Brown said.

"What I wanted you to do is do your job and coordinate," Shays retorted.

Well aware of President Bush's sunken poll ratings, legislators of both parties tried to distance themselves from the federal preparations for Katrina and the storm's aftermath that together claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Brown acknowledged making mistakes during the storm and subsequent flooding that devastated the Gulf Coast. But he accused New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, both Democrats, of fostering chaos and failing to order a mandatory evacuation more than a day before Katrina hit.

"My biggest mistake was not recognizing by Saturday that Louisiana was dysfunctional," Brown told a special panel set up by House Republican leaders to investigate the catastrophe. Most Democrats, seeking an independent investigation, stayed away to protest what they called an unfair probe of the Republican administration by GOP lawmakers.

"I very strongly personally regret that I was unable to persuade Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin to sit down, get over their differences and work together," Brown said. "I just couldn't pull that off." Brown Shifts Blame for Katrina Response - Yahoo! News

Sunday, September 25, 2005

 

Investigation of Terri Schindler's case

This was posted on the Essential Truth blog, originally from The Empire Journal, and I had to post some of it here as well, since this case is so desperately close to my heart. Please visit The Empire Journal for the full article including associated documents, and please visit Essential Truth's blog as well.

The Disability Rights Section of the U.S. Department of Justice has directed the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services to investigate a complaint filed in the Terri Schindler-Schiavo case to determine if alleged discrimination by a public entity violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Terri Schindler-Schiavo died on March 31 at age 41 at Woodside Hospice in Pinellas Park, Florida, as the result of her estranged husband Michael Schiavo obtaining judicial approval to kill his wife by withdrawing her nutrition and hydration. She had been a resident at hospice since April, 2000, and although regulations require that she be certified terminal with less than six months to live, she was not terminal. She was disabled due to a brain injury sustained in 1990 as the result of a sudden collapse which has never been explained.

Several days before Terri died, a New York special education teacher filed a detailed eight page complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of Terri Schiavo alleging numerous violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

An immediate stay of execution was requested until the matter could be resolved.

But DOJ claims it didn’t receive the complaint until April 5 and by that time, Terri had died, 13 days after her feeding tube had been removed from her by judicial decree of Pinellas County probate court judge George W. Greer and after her parents, Mary and Robert Schindler Sr., took their efforts to save her live all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court trying to get a temporary restraining order to stop Judge George Greer’s execution after Congress and President Bush granted a de novo review of her case.

Danielle P. Miller, a teacher at Central Islip High School in Suffolk County filed a complaint on Terri’s behalf and served copies of it on Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, President George Bush, Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist, Lucy Hadi, secretary of the Department of Children and Families, and numerous other state and federal officials.

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