07 July 2005

BREAKING NEWS: London hit by coordinated attacks

Less than 24-hours after being awarded the 2012 Olympic games, London was rocked by six coordinated explosions, aimed at London's underground subway, or "The Tube," and a separate explosion aimed at a double-decker bus during their rushhour. At this time, police confirm that the seven explosions have claimed two lives with approximately 95 people injured.

Prime Minister Tony Blair cited that these terrorist attacks were planned to coincide with the beginning of the G8 summit in Scotland. Blair declared that the G8 summit would continue and that the world's leaders would not waiver from their greater goals.

Blair plans to leave the summit and return to London.

No responsibility for the attacks has been assigned or claimed.


UPDATE (7:39 AM): Scotland Yard now reports that the number of attacks was four - three on the underground and one on a double-decker bus.

UPDATE (7:43 AM): Emergency Services in London is now announcing that the number of fatalities has reached double-digits. CNN now reports that their efforts are no longer rescue, but instead recovery. The number of deaths is expected to increase.

UPDATE (8:24 AM): Prime Minister Tony Blair leaves the G8 summit for London.

UPDATE (8:29 AM): President George W. Bush makes statement decrying the terrorist attacks in London.

UPDATE (8:35 AM): Radical islamist web site claims responsibility for attacks in London. Analysts are unfamiliar with both the terrorist group claiming responsibility and the web site where the claim was made. Terrorist statement cites revenge against England as the motivation for the attack.

UPDATE (10:23 AM): Metropolitan police department and representatives of other emergency services convene press conference in London.

UPDATE (10:38 AM): Sources confirm at least 33 people dead and more than 350 people injured by this morning's terrorist attacks in London.

UPDATE (11:52 AM): Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff holds press conference and raises Homeland Security Advisory System to HIGH (orange) for only the mass transit sector of the country's transit system. Chertoff encourages Americans to continue using mass transit, but stresses we remain alert and report any suspicious activities.

Dennis upgraded to category 2 hurricane

At 8:00 AM, Hurricane Dennis was upgraded to a category 2 storm, and experts believe it should reach category 3 by Friday. The current projected path travels through the Gulf of Mexico, but the cone of error does extend over the west coast of Florida. Officials in the Sunshine State are asking residents to prepare for the storm.

Bush warms to Kyoto Treaty

Read it at AmericanpolitiX.com.

http://americanpolitix.blogspot.com/2005/07/bush-warms-to-kyoto-treaty.html

05 July 2005

Maddox hit with official complaint

Today, an official complaint was filed with the Florida Elections Commission against gubernatorial candidate Scott Maddox for his leadership of the Florida Democratic Party. The complaint comes on the heels of reports that Maddox had failed to pay federal social security and payroll taxes during 2003 and 2004.

The complaint was filed by the Florida Police Benevolent Association, a longtime opponent of Maddox and his father, Charlie Maddox. The senior Maddox founded the state's largest police union, but was ousted in 1994. The PBA has already endorsed Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist for governor.

The complaint questions why Maddox used a cashier's check instead of a party check to pay a fine for the Leon County Democratic Party. David Murrell, the PBA's executive director, alleges that Maddox's motive for using a cashier's check may have been to hide the real source of the money. "Someone went to a lot of trouble to cover up the source of these funds," said Murrell.

Maddox continued his hear no evil, see no evil defense by issuing a statement through a campaign spokesperson. "[Maddox] was never made aware that there was a fine or that the fine was somehow paid," campaign manager Sallie Stohler said Tuesday. "We don't know where this money came from. We want to get to the bottom of this, too."

But Stohler fought back and deflected the criticism by questioning the motives of her candidate's opponents. "There is no surprise given that this is a group that has a political and personal ax to grind against Maddox," she said. "Last week it was Jeb Bush issuing personal attacks on Scott Maddox and this week it's allies of Charlie Crist. There is nothing new here."

Maddox faces Congressman Jim Davis and state Senator Rod Smith (D-Gainesville) in the Democratic primary election next fall. The winner will challenge either Crist or Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher in the general election.

04 July 2005

Davis supports freedom for the Cuban people

On this 229th birthday of our great country, all Americans should commend Florida Congressman Jim Davis (D-Tampa) for his attempt to promote freedom among the Cuban American people and to those on the island itself. Sadly, it was the three Cuban American congressmen from Miami, who by opposing Davis' amendment did more to keep Fidel Castrol in power.

Last Thursday, Davis, who is running for governor, introduced an amendment to an appropriations bill that would have eased restrictions on Cuban Americans who wish to visit family members in Cuba. Davis' amendment would have reversed a widely unpopular policy implemented by the Bush administration just one year ago to the day. Unfortunately, the Davis amendment failed 208-211.

Davis faces former Democratic Party Chairman Scott Maddox and state Senator Rod Smith (D-Gainesville) in next year's primary election for governor. The victor will go on to face the winner of the GOP primary race between Attorney General Charlie Crist and Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher.

On June 30, 2004, the Bush administration implemented a policy that would significantly limit travel by Cuban Americans who wish to see their families on the island located just 90 miles off the coast of Florida. The policy, which prompted outrage within Florida's Cuban American community, also limits the amount of money that Cuban Americans can send to family on the island. The changes were spurred by a 2004 Report to the President [link to table of contents for HTML version or complete report in PDF format - 4.4 MB] of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba.

Since the administration of President John F. Kennedy, the United States has imposed an embargo against the communist island, but it has failed to topple the country's brutal dictator. Fidel Castro continues to enjoy great power, the Cuban people remain oppressed, and recently Castro was listed as one of the wealthiest individuals in the world, with an estimated worth of $550 million, by Forbes magazine. Still, the embargo issue has been a rallying cry for right-wing Cuban American politicians whose own success depends on that of Fidel Castro.

Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-Miami) argued that Davis' amendment would weaken the 40+ year embargo, but Davis shot back that Diaz-Balart was misleading. "This is not a debate over the embargo," Davis said. He insisted that the amendment was about "family values," intent on reuniting families who have been separated due to the Castro regime.

Davis was unsuccessfully, but no one can argue that he lost. The closeness of the vote should motivate the congressman to continue his fight for freedom in Cuba. Davis only needs two members to change the vote in order to win next time. The empty rhetoric of members like Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Miami), Congressman Mario Diaz Balart (R-Miami) and his brother Lincoln is growing old and stale. More and more Cuban Americans realize that the policies of the hard liners in Miami have only made Castro stronger.

Davis took a chance, and his political opponents may try to use the issue against him next fall. Still, he did what is right for this country and what was best for the Cuban people. The Cuban patriot Jose Marti said, "Con todos y para el bien de todos." ("With all the people and for the good of all the people.") There's no doubt that Marti would have approved of Davis' act of courage last Thursday.


UPDATE: In response to a comment stating that Davis' approach will not work in South Florida, I have issued the following response:

This is technically not correct. A 2000 poll by FIU shows that the majority of Cuban Americans in South Florida favor allowing "unrestricted" travel to Cuba (52.8% - 47.2%).

The poll is here:

http://www.fiu.edu/orgs/ipor/cuba2000/3samples.htm

And the executive summary is here:

http://www.fiu.edu/orgs/ipor/cuba2000/exsumm.htm

Davis' bill does not address the embargo. It simply allows free travel, so Cuban Americans can visit their families. Again, this position is supported by the majority of Cuban Americans.

The reason people believe that Cuban Americans oppose policies like this is because the right-wing faction of the Cuban American community is the loudest. It's just like the Schiavo incident. The right-wingers are always the loudest but not necessarily the majority.

Davis could be making a great move. The hard liners will always vote Republican. Now the more moderate Cuban Americans will not only have a reason to vote for a Democrat, but more importantly, start to question the wisdom in voting Republican at all. The real issue is whether Democrats can use this as an effective wedge among Cuban American voters.