Saturday, June 28, 2008

U.S. Dentist Gets Between 18 And 54 Years Prison Sentence

  Let's take a break from FISA, and other politics.

   Here's a story for you about one of America's ghouls in our society.

   Back in March of this year, Michael Mastromarino ( the dentist ) pleaded guilty to several charges including body stealing, reckless endangerment and enterprise corruption.

   The 44 year old was the leader of a $4.6 million crime ring which stole body parts from funeral homes and sold them to organ transplant entities.

  This is from a dentist who was once an oral surgeon who once owned a company named Biomedical Tissue Services which supplied tissue to around 10,000 people all around the country.

  What an idiot! Does a dentist not make more than enough cash to live a pretty good lifestyle without having to be a criminal at the same time? I know an oral surgeon or two and let me tell you that they aren't exactly broke. GREED! Gotta love it!

Prosecutors said that as part of the scheme, a team of so-called "cutters" removed bone, skin and tendons in an unsanitary embalming room.
The bodies were dissected without permission and were not medically screened.
These were then sold to doctors who then used them for dental implants, knee and hip replacements and other transplant procedures.
"I am truly sorry for the pain I have caused," Mastromarino said as he faced relatives of the dead who were in court to deliver statements. "May God have mercy on my soul."

"He fully recognised the gravity of what he has done," Mario Gallucci, Mastromarino's lawyer said outside the court. "He cut some corner and that is why he is here today."
"His sick, disgusting and appalling actions all in the name of greed, have devastated my family to the point where we can never recover," Dayna Ryan told the court.
Ryan, 44, contracted Hepatitus B after receiving one of the stolen body parts during an operation on her lower spine.

Dayna Ryan contracted Hepatitus B from
a stolen body part [GETTY]

Three others who worked with Mastromarino have also been charged, as were a number of funeral home directors. 
Chris Aldorasi, one of the "cutters", was found guilty of enterprise corruption and other criminal counts earlier in June; he was sentenced to between nine and 27 years in jail.
The plundered bodies included that of the veteran British journalist Alistair Cooke, author of the BBC's long-running Letter from America; he died in 2004, aged 95, in New York.
During Aldorasi's trial, Cooke's daughter testified that she had never spoken to BTS about them harvesting her father's body.
"Definitely not," said Susan Cooke-Kitteridge, when sked if she had given permission for the procedure. "My father would have been against that."
Another "cutter", Lee Cruceta, pleaded guilty and testified against Aldorasi and now faces up to 20 years in prison.
A fourth co-defendent is still awaiting trial.

  This piece of crap should be executed instead of given a prison sentence after infecting other people with diseased body parts!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Clinton And Obama Unite In Unity

  Everyone has already covered this story so I'm not adding to much to it. I will say that Hillary Clinton did have at least one good quote in her part of the speech, which was this when referring to John McCain and George Bush:

  "In the end, they're two sides of the same coin, and it doesn't amount to a whole lot of change."

  She also asked all of those who supported her during the primary to now support Obama and to vote for him in November. Obama thanked her for that.

   Now maybe the Democratic Party will become one behind candidate Obama and we can kick the Republican's and John McCain's ass at election time. It's time to clean house people!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Barack Obama: Telecom Amnesty Not Important Issue

  A quote from Mr. Obama:

   "The bill has changed. So I don't think the security threats have changed, I think the security threats are similar. My view on FISA has always been that the issue of the phone companies per se is not one that overrides the security interests of the American people."

  I guess that it isn't enough that the FISA Bill does more than enough to help protect America because now even our Democratic Presidential contender has no problem with the phone companies spying on you and I for the government.

   Obama once said that he'd support a filibuster of the bill if it came to that and he also said, " I strongly oppose retroactive immunity in the FISA bill."

   Maybe someone in the Senate needs to filibuster the FISA Bill and then we can all see if Obama keeps his word. Without his word being good, Senator Obama is just another politician!

6 Killed In Kentucky Plant Shooting

   Only in America!

    An employee of Atlantis Plastics killed a supervisor and four other people before killing himself, after an argument with the supervisor for which the shooter was removed from the building. Associated Press for more.

  This employee apparently had a weapon at the workplace, which is generally a no-no. Though I would hate to have my locker and/or belongings search by anyone, maybe a search every so often would not be a bad idea in this day and age.

FISA IN The Senate

  Maybe we'll get lucky and the Senate will choke of the FISA Bill and a few other bills that they are hurrying to pass before recess.


Here's Harry Reid, on the floor earlier tonight, describing the problem and its consequences:

I know of only one holdup on our being able to complete the housing legislation. If we can't get that Senator to sign off on this, then we only have one alternative and that is we'll file cloture tomorrow on another arm of this housing legislation. We will have cloture on that two legislative days later and then we still have one more to do. Now, that would mean we would have to be here over the weekend. Now, that was not anticipated we would do that. In the meantime, having done that, we are not going to be able to -- it will hold up our being able to do FISA. We wanted to do a consent agreement on that tonight. That was -- I was told that would not be possible.

Now, Mr. President, on that, there are people who don't like the FISA legislation. Now, I recognize that the majority of the Senate does. But some people don't like it. But in spite of that, I have found the two people that speak out mostly against that -- and there are others -- but Senator Feingold and Senator Dodd have been very -- Senator Feingold and Senator Dodd have been very diligent in their opposition to the legislation. But, of course, they understand the Senate very well. They understand the Senate very well.

And so what we would like to do is have a cloture vote on the motion to proceed to that. Well, we can't do that unless it's by consent. So, therefore, we're going to have to do cloture on the motion to proceed to FISA at some later time. And then that only allows us to proceed to the bill. And then we still have to do cloture on the bill.

Now, Mr. President, FISA is a product of the administration. It's passed the House and that's fine. But we're not going to stop people from going home for the 4th of July recess over FISA. If people don't want to do it, then we're not going to do it. It's not because we're holding it up over here, is what I'm saying. It's being held up by the minority. Now, we're going to -- we're going to proceed and we're going to stay here and finish this housing bill. Mr. President, the Case-Schiller home price index registered the largest decline in home prices in that index's history. That's more than 40 years. Consumer confidence is at an all-time low. So we're going to finish the housing bill. It may knock a few people out of parades on July 4th, or whatever -- however long it takes us to do this.

Now, the other product we have that we want to finish before we go home is the supplemental appropriation bill. Again, Mr. President, there's been a delicately crafted piece of legislation that has come from the House on this. They've worked very hard to get the House leadership to approve that, Democratic and Republican, the President of the United States has signed off on this.

Is it everything that I want? Is it everything we want over here? The answer is no. But I think, Mr. President, it's something that will pass with a very large margin over here. But we can't get to it unless people allow us to get to it. And so that, too, would have to wait until we get back after the July 4th recess. I think that would be a shame. We've been [told] that the Pentagon can pay the bills until about the middle of February. Then they're out of money. Now, that -- the President -- I want the President, all of his people to hear what I'm saying. We are not holding up the supplemental. We, the Democrats, are not holding it up. We, the Democrats, are not holding up FISA.

It was an odd choice to schedule FISA for consideration before the supplemental. Nobody wants to go home for July 4th parades without passing the GI Bill, and a fair number of Senators feel the same way about the housing bill, the war funding and/or the unemployment benefits extenstion. Putting FISA -- a contentious bill that was sure to produce extended debate -- before the supplemental virtually guaranteed either a delayed adjournment or serious discomfort among the membership.

What an... interesting decision that was. Let's see how that plays out tomorrow, when debate resumes on the housing bill, and the cloture vote on the motion to proceed to the FISA bill coming due in the afternoon.

Just like in December, the FISA bill suddenly faces long odds for passage before recess grants yet another (short) reprieve.

UPDATE: Some of you were left less than inspired by Reid's discussion of the procedure. To make up for it, here's Dodd on the substance.

Monday, June 23, 2008

House Speaker Pelosi On John McCain's Energy Ideas

  Nancy Pelosi released a statement today, pretty much bashing John McCain's energy proposals, pretty much calling Senator McCain a flip-flopper.

“With American consumers and businesses struggling as the price at the pump cascades across our economy, Senator McCain’s proposals show he aims to continue the ‘drill and veto’ policies of the current Administration. John McCain’s energy proposal is an attempt to divert attention away from his recent flip flop and his support of the failed Bush-Cheney policies that have resulted in skyrocketing gasoline prices for consumers and skyrocketing profits for Big Oil.

“Last week, Senator McCain reversed himself and said we need to drill more. Today, he has reversed years of failing to support more efficient cars, new energy technologies and green jobs. Democrats welcome a debate on energy independence from Senator McCain, but we just don’t know which John McCain we are debating.

“Americans are suffering under the Bush-Cheney-McCain policies that were written by Big Oil: $4 a gallon gasoline; $136 per barrel oil and increased reliance on foreign sources of energy. Americans need and deserve a consistent vision for energy independence that will invest in real solutions from their next President.”

     The page on her site also list a few of McCain's missed opportunities when it has come to passing any real energy bills. Try this one below.


Sen. John McCain missed two critical energy votes on H.R. 6, The Energy Independence and Security Act, in December 2007. These votes – on December 7th and 13th – would have stopped debate and allowed a vote on an energy bill that included critical tax incentives for renewable energy sources – a bill to strengthen national security, lower energy costs, reduce global warming, grow our economy and create new jobs, and increase American energy independence. These votes were critical to making a $21 billion investment in clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency, including a $3,000 tax credit to help working families afford fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles. On the morning of December 13th, Sen. John McCain was the only United States Senator to not vote on this measure. The cloture vote needed sixty votes to pass. It failed, 59-40 and Senate Republicans forced the tax credits to be stripped from the larger energy bill in order to protect $13 billion in subsidies for Big Oil. [Senate Vote #416, 12/7/07; Senate Vote #425, 12/13/07]

  The New Direction Congress, as Pelosi calls it, has 4 newer proposals coming to the floor of The House this week. They are:

· Reducing Transit Fares (H.R. 6052) - Gives grants to mass transit authorities to lower fares for commuters pinched at the pump and expand transit services.

· Cracking Down on Price Gouging- Gives enforcement authority to the Federal Trade Commission to investigate and punish those who artificially inflate fuel prices, similar to legislation passed last year.

· Closing the “Enron-like London Loophole” for Petroleum Markets - Takes steps to curb excessive speculation in the energy futures markets, which experts have noted is driving up the price of a barrel of oil.

· “Use It Or Lose It” for Oil Companies Holding Permits and Not Drilling - Compels the oil industry to start drilling or lose permits on the 68 million acres of undeveloped federal oil reserves which they are currently warehousing, keeping domestic supply lower and prices higher.

  Reducing transit fares? That may work in some places, but I doubt if it will make a big dent in our lives over-all.

    Cracking down on price gouging? Haven't we heard this one many times before? I don't see the FTC looking into anyone for to much of any thing.

    I do like the " use it or lose it " bill. Oil companies have all of this land and sea to drill in, then they should either start the damned drilling or give those permits up. Not that the drilling would help you and I much.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Our Democrats Support Bush with FISA Bill

   I think that it is time that all of these bums in Washington,DC  be kicked to the curb, especially after pretty much granting amnesty to the telecoms for illegally spying for the Bush administration.

  Cross-posted from AlterNet

Democrats Have Legalized Bush's Crimes

By Robert Parry, Consortium News. Posted June 21, 2008.

The Democratic leadership cleared the way for the president and his collaborators to evade punishment for defying the law.

Editor's note: You can read more about Obama backing a FISA "compromise" here.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claims that a key positive feature of the new wiretap "compromise" is that the bill reaffirms that the President must follow the law, even though the same bill virtually assures that no one will be held accountable for George W. Bush's violation of the earlier spying law. Share this article

In other words, in the guise of rejecting Bush's theories of an all-powerful presidency that is above the law, the Democratic leadership cleared the way for the President and his collaborators to evade punishment for defying the law.

So, why should anyone assume that the new legislative edict demanding that the President obey the law will get any more respect than the old one, which established the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 as the "exclusive" means for authorizing electronic spying?

It wasn't that Bush and his team didn't understand the old law's language; they simply believed they could violate the law without consequence, under the radical theory that at a time of war -- even one as vaguely defined as the "war on terror" -- the President's powers trump all laws as well as the constitutional rights of citizens.

Essentially, Bush was betting that even if his warrantless wiretap program was disclosed -- as it was in December 2005 -- that he could trust his Republican congressional allies to protect him and could count on most Democrats not to have the guts to challenge him.

His bet proved to be a smart one. After the New York Times revealed the warrantless wiretaps two and a half years ago, Congress took no steps to hold Bush accountable. Before the 2006 elections, Pelosi declared that Bush's impeachment was "off the table."

Then, on the eve of the August 2007 recess, the Democratic-controlled Congress was stampeded into passing the "Protect America Act," which effectively legalized what Bush had already done and expanded his spying powers even more.

After that law was passed, U.S. news reports mostly parroted the White House claim that it "modernized" FISA and "narrowly" targeted overseas terror suspects who might call or e-mail their contacts in the United States.

However, it soon became clear that the law applied not just to terror suspects abroad who might communicate with Americans, but to anyone who is "reasonably believed to be outside the United States" and who might possess "foreign intelligence information," defined as anything that could be useful to U.S. foreign policy.

That meant that almost any American engaged in international commerce or dealing with foreign issues -- say, a businessman in touch with a foreign subsidiary or a U.S. reporter sending an overseas story back to his newspaper -- was vulnerable to warrantless intercepts approved on the say-so of two Bush subordinates, the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence.

Beyond the breathtaking scope of this new authority, the Bush administration also snuck in a clause that granted forward-looking immunity from lawsuits to communications service providers that assisted the spying.

That removed one of the few safeguards against Bush's warrantless wiretaps: the concern among service providers that they might be sued by customers for handing over constitutionally protected information without a warrant.

In short, the "Protect America Act" made warrantless surveillance legally cost free for a collaborating service provider, tilting the scales even further in favor of the government's spying powers.  

Catching on

A week after the "Protect America Act" was passed, the New York Times and the Washington Post published front-page stories explaining how the Bush administration had ambushed the Democrats.

Pressed up against the start of the August recess and the prospect of Republican taunts that Democrats were "soft on terror," the Democratic leaders abandoned earlier compromise proposals and accepted the more expansive law. Their one point of resistance was putting a February 2008 sunset provision into the law.

Still, the Democratic cave-in in August 2007 provoked an uproar among rank-and-file Democrats. Pelosi's office reported receiving more than 200,000 angry e-mails.

Stung by the reaction, House Democratic leaders balked at White House pressure to make even more concessions, including retroactive immunity for telecommunication companies that had collaborated with Bush's warrantless wiretaps in the years after the 9/11 attacks.

In February 2008, to the surprise of many observers, the Democratic leadership allowed the "Protect America Act" to lapse. Though Republicans attacked the Democrats as expected, the accusations seemed to have little political resonance.

Nevertheless, the Democratic leadership -- behind Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-West Virginia, and Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland -- continued working on a compromise.

While the new version drops some of the more intrusive features of the "Protect America Act," such as allowing warrantless wiretaps of Americans outside the United States, the bill adds retroactive telecom immunity (only requiring the companies show they got a written order from the President).

The bill also would grant the administration emergency power to wiretap a target for up to one week before getting a warrant from the secret FISA court. But the bill bars the government from targeting a foreigner as a "back-door" way to spy on an American without a court warrant.


Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wisconsin, a strong constitutionalist, termed the new bill "not a compromise; it is a capitulation."

One of the bill's illusions would seem to be that the precedent of a President ignoring the FISA law and escaping any accountability can somehow be negated by restating what the original, violated law had declared.

In her June 20 floor statement, Pelosi said in her view this was a crucial feature of the bill, the statement that the President cannot ignore the FISA law again. However, Pelosi's position sounded like the words of an indulgent parent of a spoiled child: "This time I really mean it!"

The more powerful message from the latest Democratic compromise is that a President -- at least a Republican one -- can break the wiretap law under the cover of national security and expect to ride out the consequences.

Rather than reaffirming the rule of law and the Constitution's checks and balances, as Pelosi claimed, the new FISA "compromise" may have done the opposite, signaling that the President is above the law.

After Pelosi's speech, the House passed the bill by a 293-129 margin with 105 Democrats -- including most of the leadership -- voting in favor and 128 Democrats against. The bill then went to the Senate, which was expected to approve it.