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12/23 Morning Report

Here was my BIG surprise for the day: The 9th Circuit Court reduced the damage award in the Exxon Valdez case. I’m stunned. The most liberal court in America is letting Big Business off the hook? Well…not that it will matter all that much. Exxon won’t be getting their checkbook out any time soon on this one. It’s only been 13 years, so far. Still…the 9th!!!!!
(…who’d a thunk it…)

Speaking of liberal surprises…this wasn’t one of them—although the source sort of it was. The NY Times is reporting there will be little if any change to “earmarks”. Senators Byrd and Obey declared a moratorium until a reformed process is put in place—but only for unfinished spending bills in 2007. In spite of the Democratic outcry, spawned mostly because of Republican scandals, there won’t be any real change.

…many if not most earmarks are recurring items, like money for a university research program or a public works project that Congressional sponsors insert each year. No Democrats have suggested any plan to cut or redirect that money.

But, keep an eye on defense spending! The only reason it didn’t “lose” any earmark money was that bill was finished before adjournment.

In another article, the Times called on Bush to admonish Representative Goode Jr. The Times isn’t the only voice raised against the Congressman. I personally, as I’ve said before, don’t have a problem with a Muslim taking the oath on the Qu’ran. And, I say that as a Christian. Our country was founded on the principle of religious freedom. On that principle, Keith Ellison has the right, and privilege, to be sworn in using the Qu’ran if he so choses. My faith in Christ is not changed by his belief in another god. What does matter is how Ellison, or any official who adheres to the Muslim faith, will apply the standards of Islam to the rest of America. Will he stand for fairness and equality? Or, will he apply the standards of Islam which dictate that those who are not Muslim are second rate? That kind of discrimination is deeply rooted in Islamic belief—and drives fairness and equality to the proverbial backseat. And, that discrimination is just as un-American as demanding everyone use a Bible—even if they are non-Christian.

Meanwhile, in the continuing saga of AWB, the Australian wheat exporter,

Iraqi citizens filed a $200 million lawsuit Friday against a prominent European bank and an Australian wheat exporter, saying they were cheated out of humanitarian goods when the companies permitted the U.N. oil-for-food program to be corrupted.

And, amazingly not one word about how the US pulled the plug on this scheme, instead of the UN—who was supposedly overseeing and administering the program. Mr. Annan gets to leave the Secretary-Generalship, and will face no penalty it seems.
(…wonders never cease…do they?…)

And, in the latest escalation in Somalia, the Islamic militia says it’s ready to fight Ethiopians.

“Special forces who are highly trained in guerrilla warfare are now ready to attack Ethiopians, wherever they are in Somalia,” Sheik Ibrahim Shukri Abuu-Zeynab, a spokesman for the Islamic movement, told The Associated Press. Late Friday, Ethiopia accused the Islamic movement of crossing into its territory. “The situation in Somalia has turned from bad to worse,” the statement said. “Ethiopia has been patient so far but there is a limit to this.” Ethiopia denies its forces are fighting, but says it has deployed several hundred military trainers in support of Somalia’s U.N.-backed transitional government.

It’s obvious there are Ethopian troops in Somalia. However, the range of discrepancy in the numbers—Islamic reported, Ethopian reported, Somali government reported, and MS reported–is so wide, any or all claims could be false. Irregardless, what is obvious is that Islamic forces are once again refusing to abide by any one else’s rules—including the UN. Does any one find it hard to believe that they are being allowed to get away with it?

And, in one last surprise, a U.S. District Judge has ruled that Iran is responsible for a terrorist attack.

The Iranian government is partly to blame for a 1996 terrorist attack that killed 19 Americans in Saudi Arabia, a federal judge ruled Friday.
(…snip…)
Though intelligence officials have suspected a link between the Tehran government and the Saudi wing of Hezbollah, which the FBI has accused of carrying out the bombing, Friday’s ruling is the first time a branch of the U.S. government has officially blamed Iran for the deaths of Americans in the bombings.
(…snip…)
Two Iranian government security agencies and senior members of the Iranian government itself provided funding, training and logistical help to terrorists who carried out the attack on a dormitory that housed U.S. Air Force pilots and staff in Saudi Arabia, former FBI Director Freeh testified.

I don’t know if the families will ever collect any of the $254 million in they are seeking damages—any more than the hostages of the Carter administration ever got theirs. But, the ruling is significant.
(…I wonder what will grow out of it…)

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