Palin loses bid to block beluga whale protection

Federal government declares population off Anchorage ‘endangered’

Beluga whale
All beluga whales in U.S. waters are in five distinct populations off Alaska. One of those, the Cook Inlet population, has been declared endangered after failing to recover despite earlier protections.

WASHINGTON – The federal government on Friday determined that a species of beluga whale native to an inlet off Anchorage, Alaska, is endangered and will require additional protection to survive.

The finding could even have presidential implications: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Sen. John McCain’s running mate, had questioned scientific evidence that the population was declining.

The listing has the potential to affect major Alaska projects including an expansion of the Port of Anchorage, additional offshore oil and gas drilling, a proposed $600 million bridge connecting Anchorage to Palin’s hometown of Wasilla and a massive coal mine 45 miles south of Anchorage.

The state does have serious concerns about the low population of beluga whales in Cook Inlet and has had those concerns for many years, Palin said in a statement. “However, we believe that this endangered listing is premature,” she said.

Palin in April successfully lobbied for a six-month delay in a listing decision until a count of the whales this summer could be included in deliberations. That count showed no increase over 2007 numbers — 375 whales, compared with a high of 653 in 1995.

‘Whales are not recovering’
“In spite of protections already in place, Cook Inlet beluga whales are not recovering,” James Balsiger, assistant administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service, said in a statement.

The population declined nearly 50 percent between 1994 and 1998, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which runs the fisheries service.

“NOAA scientists estimated the Cook Inlet beluga population at 375 for both 2007 and 2008,” NOAA stated. “Estimates have varied from a high of 653 belugas in 1994 to a low of 278 belugas in 2005.”

Acting on a 2006 request for listing by the Center for Biological Diversity and several allies, NOAA in April 2007 proposed that the population be listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Friday’s action represents the final determination to list the Cook Inlet belugas.

“Despite restrictions on Alaskan Native subsistence harvest of Cook Inlet belugas starting in 1999, the population is still not recovering,” NOAA added. “Between 1999 and 2006, Alaska Native hunters took a total of five Cook Inlet beluga whales for subsistence. No beluga whales were harvested in 2007 or 2008.”

Cook Inlet belugas are one of five beluga populations in U.S. waters. The others, all off Alaska,  inhabit Bristol Bay, the eastern Bering Sea, the eastern Chukchi Sea, and the Beaufort Sea.

“The Cook Inlet population is considered to be the most isolated, based on the degree of genetic differentiation and geographic distance between the Cook Inlet population and the four other beluga stocks,” NOAA said.

Obstacles listed
Potential obstacles to recovery, NOAA said, include:

  • Beach strandings of beluga whales;
  • Continued development within and along upper Cook Inlet and the cumulative effects on important beluga habitat;
  • Oil and gas exploration, development, and production;
  • Industrial activities that discharge or accidentally spill pollutants;
  • Disease;
  • Predation by killer whales.

NOAA said that within a year it would identify habitat essential to protecting the belugas.

Palin had opposed the endangered listing — as well as one decreed for polar bears due to melting summer sea ice — in part by questioning the science and saying the listings would hinder oil and natural gas drilling.

The Interior Department has proposed making available oil leases in the Cook Inlet as early as next year and in 2011, saying the waters have an estimated $1.38 billion worth of energy resources. Protection of the whale could hinder some of those activities.

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The polar bear listing came with a caveat that it should not hinder economic development — a move being challenged in court by environmentalists.

But no such caveat came with the beluga whale listing. “Listing the Cook Inlet beluga whales means any federal agency that funds, authorizes, or carries out new projects or activities that may affect the whales in the area must first consult with NOAA’s Fisheries Service to determine the potential effects on the whales,” NOAA stated. “A federal action must not jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species.”

Friday’s action came after the Center for Biological Diversity accused the Bush administration of stalling, stating that federal law required the listing and identifying critical habitat by last April.

Cook Inlet stretches 180 miles from the Gulf of Alaska to Anchorage. It is named for Capt. James Cook, the British explorer who sailed into the inlet in 1778 on a quest to find the Northwest Passage.

Beluga whales feed on salmon and smaller fish. They can also eat crab, shrimp, squid and clams. During summers, the whales, which reach a length of up to 15 feet, often can be spotted from the highways leading away from Anchorage, gathered at river mouths, chasing salmon that have schooled before a run to spawning grounds.

Beluga whales’ natural enemies are killer whales, but something else has been keeping their numbers down in Alaska’s Cook Inlet.

Craig Matkin, an independent biologist who has worked in south central Alaska for 25 years, said the delay in the listing had held up a comprehensive research plan to find out why the population had not recovered after subsistence hunting was curtailed.

The concern is not just in numbers, he said, but in distribution. Whales in recent years have been staying in northern Cook Inlet near Anchorage.

“They’re just gone from these areas,” he said of his own home near in Homer, near the tip of the Kenai Peninsula and about 100 miles from Anchorage. “Why they aren’t coming down into this habitat is a question I’d like to answer.”

Future development won’t be helpful to the recovery, said Brendan Cummings, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, starting with the noise and pollution associated with industrialization of the inlet, which includes oil rigs off the Kenai Peninsula.

Global warming, changing ocean conditions and higher temperatures in salmon streams may be another factor, Cummings said.

The Port of Anchorage, helped by congressional earmarks secured by Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young, has embarked on a $500 million project to double the port’s size and replace its aging docks.

Environmental groups also have expressed concern about a planned coal mine 45 miles from Anchorage across Cook Inlet, where developers propose to mine 300 million metric tons of sub-bituminous coal, roughly equal to the energy of a billion barrels of oil, over 25 years. That would mean noise and boat traffic associated with building and operating a mine, a potential effect on salmon streams and more warming.

Lawsuit to Stall Troopergate Investigatioin Fails!

Lawsuit to Stall Troopergate Investigatioin Fails!

2 10 2008

Sorry to interrupt the Republican “Non-Implosion is Victory” party, but there was some breaking news in Anchorage tonight that came out a couple minutes before the debate.

An Anchorage judge today refused to halt the Legislature’s investigation of Gov. Sarah Palin and denied the state attorney general’s attempt to throw out legislative subpoenas.

Superior Court Judge Peter Michalski heard arguments from both sides this morning and ruled just before 5 p.m. this afternoon.

“I think it’s great. It’s a big day for the state of Alaska,” said Peter Maassen, the lawyer representing the Legislative Council, which ordered the investigation.

Maassen said he expected the other side to attempt a last-minute appeal to the state Supreme Court.

It’s last-minute because the investigator hired by the Legislative Council, Steve Branchflower, is to present his report in a week. Branchflower is looking into Palin’s dismissal of her public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, and whether she improperly pressured him to fire a state trooper divorced from her sister. There is intense national interest in the outcome now that Palin is the Republican nominee for vice president.

Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg said he didn’t know whether he’d appeal or if he’ll now advise the subpoenaed state officals to cooperate with the investigation. He said he needed to consult with them.

“I’m going to talk to the clients before I talk to you,” he said.

Five Republican state legislators sued to stop the investigation, and Colberg, a Palin appointee, asked the judge to throw out the legislative subpoenas. The governor’s husband, Todd, and nearly a dozen state officials have refused to honor the subpoeanas ordering them to testify, and they face the threat of possible jail time.

Thomas Van Flein, the Anchorage attorney representing both Todd and Sarah Palin, watched the court hearing today. He said in an interview afterward that, if the judge refused to throw out the subpoenas, he would expect Todd Palin to testify after all.

“Short of appeal to the Alaska Supreme Court, which no one has talked about, I don’t see why we wouldn’t just have Todd testify,” he said.

Palin shows her animosity towards Mother Earth

NFIC Columnists Doug George Kanentiio

By Doug George-Kanentiio©
News From Indian Country 9-08

georgedoug-for-web.jpgWhen Skennenrahowi walked among the Iroquois 850 years ago he sought not only to bring an end to war through the creation of the Great Law of Peace but also created a society in which women were assured of their natural liberties as free human beings.

He acknowledged that women were the lifegivers of the planet and as such carried a great responsibility to nurture and protect our sacred mother earth for all time to come. Along with this status came great political and spiritual powers for it was the women who cultivated the land and it was they who determined how its resources were to be distributed.

Along with this came the task of overseeing all of our political activities for it was they who selected our leaders and when necessary impeached them for breach of duty.

The world of the Haudenosaunee was decidedly feminine. The original being was a female and from her came all subsequent humans. The spiritual lives of the Iroquois revolved around grandmother moon and much of our music celebrated women.

Skennenrahowi was wise enough to see that men, as lifetakers, needed balance so he created a system whereby Iroquois women held veto authority over war and peace. It was they who decided on all issues involving the taking of human life.

Iroquois women were, and are, strong in their defense of this heritage.

They have become advocates for the protection of other species as well for they know we exist only insofar as we are sensitive to our dependency on plants, animals, wind and water – all of which have spiritual substance and the right to exist beyond human designs.

So it comes as a great sorrow to see many Americans celebrate the rise of the governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, to a position of unique power.

This person has largely discarded her feminine duties as a lifegiver so she may “succeed” in a masculine oriented society.

As a governor she has endorsed the murder of animals such as wolves and bears by shooting them from airplanes as a depraved type of “sport.” Her administration has offered $150 for the limb of a wolf, much as Americans used to give rewards for the scalps of Native men, women and children.

Palin believes that wolves are effecting the number of “game” animals such as moose and elk. Her big game hunter supporters hate wolves and are ready to slaughter them by the thousands using airplanes, poison bait or traps.

Anyone who has seen film as to how wolves are pursued by airplanes to the point of exhaustion then shot with a high caliber rifle has to be sickened by this practice just as they must be when they learn the State of Alaska wants to apply the same methods to bears including cubs. This so the “hunters” can affix the heads of their trophy catches on rec room walls.

Palin is also an advocate for drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge so Americans may have a few days worth of oil for their cars and trucks. Such drilling will enrich the very oil companies she boasts of having defeated for control of the Alaskan legislature.

She derides government officials in Washington but eagerly seeks federal funds for projects ranging from a sports complex to the massive construction of a natural gas pipeline from the north shore of Alaska to the port of Valdez. This will be paid for with U.S. taxpayer dollars even while she claims that, if elected, the Republicans will curtail this kind of spending.

Palin also supported the infamous “bridge to nowhere” in which U.S. Senator Ted Stevens sought $250,000,000 from the federal government to connect an island of 50 residents with the town of Ketchikan. Palin only dropped her endorsement when the bridge became the object of ridicule.

Another example of environmental callousness at odds with her duties as a lifegiver is her support for open pit mining, in particular one to be built near Bristol Bay. Opponents maintain the mine will pollute the waters which feed into the Bay and bring great harm to the coastal fishing regions.

Then there is her denial that human beings are the primary cause of global warming. She acknowledges there is climate changes but adheres to the radical Republican stance that this event is not urgent enough to require immediate action such as protecting species which will be greatly effected by the warming of Alaska. She has opposed laws which will place the polar bear on the endangered species list.

Palin has also sought to interfere in the rights of Alaskans to read what they will by seeking to ban books she considers offensive to her political and spiritual beliefs.

She seeks an absolute ban of the right of women to choose except in instances when the survival of the mother is at stake. If you are the victim of rape or incest you will have the bear the fetus regardless of the trauma of such an experience.

Under Haudenosaunee procedures Palin would be excluded from leadership not only for her callousness towards the earth but her violations of natural law. She demonstrates self righteousness and anger, promotes fear and distorts the truth.

Governor Palin is no friend of those Indigenous peoples who retain their sensitivity towards a world in need of healing, to those who seek to address the ecological threats under which we all live.

McCain-Palin – How Low Will They Go?

McCain-Palin – How Low Will They Go?

28 09 2008

With every day bringing new cringe-worthy gaffes, inadequacies, and (R)evelations (Biblical and otherwise), the McCain campaign is getting desperate.  They’ve tried just about everything to postpone, or lessen the carnage of the looming bloodbath that will be the Vice Presidential debate this Thursday night.Plan A – Change the rules of the debate.  Give the candidates less time to talk, and less time to talk TO each other.  If Palin has 25% less time to talk, she will embarrass herself and her party…..25% less.  That’s the theory anyway.  Plan A has been implemented.Plan B – Economic meltdown.  Play it so that John McCain is “the only one” who can solve the crisis, and suspend the campaign so he can. Push for the Presidential debate to be moved forward to take the place of…..wait for it…..the Vice Presidential debate!  This allows for the VP debate to be postponed indefinitely!  It’s so crazy, it just might work…  Except it didn’t.  Barack Obama called McCain’s bluff, showed for the debate and forced McCain to participate or risk being upstaged by a nationally televised Obama Town Hall meeting.  (McCain campaign lifting collective fist to the sky…”Noooooooo!”)Plan C – While looking for another way to stall the debate, giving Palin more time to memorize those index cards of talking points, create a diversion for the press.  Because right now, the press is not a friend to the McCain campaign.  The Couric interview was an epic disaster. Obama won the first Presidential debate, according to most Americans.  McCain is looking dangerously physically run-down.   Even Alaskans have had it with their governor, and were out in droves Saturday, protesting the stonewalling of her ethics investigation. Op-ed pieces from the left and from the right have been unflattering to say the least. Hmmm….how to divert all this negative press coverage….*lightbulb*

In an election campaign notable for its surprises, Sarah Palin, the Republican vice- presidential candidate, may be about to spring a new one — the wedding of her pregnant teenage daughter to her ice-hockey-playing fiancé before the November 4 election.

Inside John McCain’s campaign the expectation is growing that there will be a popularity boosting pre-election wedding in Alaska between Bristol Palin, 17, and Levi Johnston, 18, her schoolmate and father of her baby. “It would be fantastic,” said a McCain insider.  “You would have every TV camera there. The entire country would be watching. It would shut down the race for a week.”

Because, as we all know, that’s the definition of a “fantastic” wedding.


Awwww…..Don’t they just look so in love….freaked out and miserable?  And there’s something about a tattooed engagement ring…

So, if Plan C is indeed a shotgun wedding, what does this mean?  Will the press, as the McCain campaign hopes, make this the Alaskan hillbilly version of the Prince Charles/Lady Diana nuptials?  Will they have to suspend the campaign so the parents of the bride can participate?  Will that shotgun fit under Todd’s tuxedo without looking conspicuous?

But more importantly, if  the press does turn its lascivious, million-eyed focus on the young lovers, will this actually be a good thing for McCain and Palin?  Or, will the nation have its head held, and be forced to watch as these two young people, who never asked for this kind of attention, become a sideshow attraction as they are paraded in front of cameras, and become political pawns in a chess game they don’t want to play?  This plan may backfire.

How does the proud papa-to-be, Levi Johnston,  feel about the situation?

The ice-hockey player wrote on his MySpace page he was a “f***ing redneck” and stated, “I don’t want kids.” But a McCain insider predicted he would marry Bristol whenever his future mother-in-law wanted. “It’s a shotgun wedding. She kills things,” the source joked.

Ha ha. Let the marital bliss begin.

Although several sources are already reporting on this, no one has speculated yet about where this wedding might take place. We all recall how Sarah, wile pregnant and in labor with her infant son Trig, admitted that she hopped two commercial airline flights, and bypassed hospitals in Dallas, Seattle, and even in Anchorage, so she could deliver the high-risk baby in her home town of Wasilla, Alaska.  “First Dude” Todd Palin explained jeapordizing his wife and unborn child’s safety by stating, “You can’t have a fish-picker from Texas.”

So where do we suppose the wedding will be?  Todd?  Can you have a shotgun wedding in D.C.?  Can we Alaskans expect yet another media circus for the “Bristol ‘n Levi” wedding?  Join me as we spiral our way down into further depths of the painfully tacky, brutally opportunistic, Machiavellian nausea that is the McCain campaign.

*h/t to Crooks and Liars for the photo.

McCain Camp Realizes Palin is “Clueless”.

McCain Camp Realizes Palin is “Clueless”.

26 09 2008


Ed Schultz, progressive talk show icon, who visited Anchorage for a Town Hall meeting a couple weeks ago, has a great little news tidbit. From Ed’s website:

Capitol Hill sources are telling me that senior McCain people are more than concerned about Palin. The campaign has held a mock debate and a mock press conference; both are being described as “disastrous.” One senior McCain aide was quoted as saying, “What are we going to do?” The McCain people want to move this first debate to some later, undetermined date, possibly never. People on the inside are saying the Alaska Governor is “clueless.”

The McCain campaign, just like Dorothy and her friends in The Wizard of Oz, has now realized that the giant, intimidating glowing head they believed to be “The Great and Powerful Palin”, is actually the little pudgy man standing behind the curtain, pulling all those levers. Hey….that guy kind of looks like Karl Rove!

Schultz went on to say this morning on air, that Palin’s performance in the mock debate was SO bad, they stopped it right in the middle and didn’t even bother to go on.

One has to wonder how Palin herself is handling this, as the house of cards comes tumbling down around her. The last two weeks have surely gone to show her that there’s way more to being the Vice President than she originally thought when she asked, “What exactly is it that the VP does every day?” just a few short weeks before she was thrust into this situation. When your world is Wasilla, and you’re only just starting to get your feet wet running a state with less than a million people, it’s got to be a bit of a shock when you realize how very much bigger the whole country is, than what you imagined when you “didn’t blink.”

Either the country is going to be in for a classic piece of history in the form of a cringe-worthy, watching-between-your-fingers debate debacle, or there’s going to be some kind of “emergency” that will require Palin’s immediate attention just before the debate.

And for the first time, I’ve been hearing people in  Alaska asking, “What’s going to happen when she gets back here after the election?”  Her reception will be frostier than the last one, I have a feeling.

Palin Delays Financial Disclosure Until After Debate.

Palin Delays Financial Disclosure Until After Debate.

25 09 2008

After the unbearably painful performance by Palin during her recent interview with Katie Couric, it’s obvious to most that she is not ready for the Vice Presidential debate next week. Whether the interview is the reason, or only part of the reason that McCain has fled his own debate with Barack Obama scheduled for Friday isn’t entirely clear. The McCain camp has requested that the Presidential debate be moved to the date of the Vice Presidential debate, conveniently delaying the Vice Presidential debate to an unknown date in the future. Presumably this will give Palin some much-needed extra time to bone up on all the things she would have learned if she had ever studied or participated in international diplomacy, and matters outside the state of Alaska.

It’s also not clear yet, whether this “delay tactic” is going to work. Barack Obama has said that if McCain doesn’t show up to the debate, he’ll be there to hold a Town Hall meeting instead, leaving the Vice Presidential debate to go on as scheduled. Interesting…

“Delay” is apparently the theme of the day for our Republican VP nominee. Today we hear that Palin has requested, and received a four day extension for the disclosure of her personal finances. The new release date for these forms? October 3rd, the day AFTER her scheduled debate with Joe Biden.

Trevor Potter, general counsel for the McCain-Palin campaign, told the FEC that the campaign initially thought it had until Oct. 4 to file the report but then learned the FEC set an earlier due date.

Oops. They forgot to check the date. Those silly McCain people… I bet they felt really stupid.

Read the rest of the story at

Palin + McCain Equals More Bush

Palin + McCain Equals More Bush

by Helen Thomas

WASHINGTON — Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has awesome self-confidence. Chosen by fellow Republicans to be Sen. John McCain’s running mate, she told an interviewer: “I’m ready.” That confidence reflects her naivete about her role that puts her one heartbeat away from the presidency.

In accepting the nomination as veep, she invoked the greatness of President Truman, based on their small-town origins. But anyone who was around during Truman’s era knows there is a world of difference between Palin and Truman. Take, for example, humility.

Truman was vice president for only a short time when on April 12, 1945, he was summoned to the White House and told the stunning news that President Franklin Roosevelt was dead. Truman and FDR were not close and Truman was not deeply familiar with the U.S. military plans for World War II. He also did not know about the atomic bomb.

As the nation’s new leader, Truman wanted a few days to move into the White House. He understood the magnitude of his new job. The morning after being sworn in, Truman emerged from his Washington apartment to go to work on his first day as president. He took one look at the three wire service reporters who standing in front of his building.

“Boys,” he said to the familiar faces, “the moon and the stars fell on me. If you ever prayed before, pray for me.”

So when Palin says she is “ready,” one thinks of the two U.S. wars under way in Iraq and Afghanistan — and the devastating market crash on Wall Street.

There is no question that Palin has given a big lift to McCain and helped boost his ratings so that he’s now virtually tied with Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee. As a team, McCain and Palin are on the same page. Both are pro-guns and anti-abortion. She is literally a rifle-toting mama, against sex education and has attempted to ban books she considers immoral from her hometown library.

But Palin’s evangelical rigidity on social issues puts her out of step with the modern woman. She is said to be more reactionary than McCain — if that’s possible. Is it any wonder that activist feminist organizations have come out in support of Obama?

The new Republican ticket seems like the current White House tenant. Neither McCain nor Palin appear to have any significant doubts about President Bush’s disastrous policies. Palin’s gubernatorial tenure in Alaska is personified by massive firings when she took office. She does not tolerate dissent and shuns the media.

It seems clear to me that we would have another imperial presidency if McCain and Palin win the hearts and minds of the American people in the November balloting. Bob Woodward of The Washington Post has been privy to the workings of the Bush White House and has written four books to prove it. In his latest Book, “The War Within,” Woodward depicts Bush as a “man of few doubts” who is “still following his gut, convinced that the path he has chosen is right.”

Bush, who has switched from using the word “win” in speaking of Iraq to “succeed,” has the gung ho McCain-Palin team behind him. The question is, why? Woodward also wrote that Bush was intolerant of confrontations and in-depth debate. He said Bush maintained an “odd detachment” in the management of the war in Iraq “and too often failed to lead.”

Bush has never explained why he invaded Iraq — a country that had no doomsday weapons and did us no harm. It’s doubtful that McCain or Palin could explain Bush’s mindless mission in the Middle East if they gained the White House.

Palin proposes to do what Obama already did

Palin proposes to do what Obama already did

Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 10:00:17 AM PDT

Great going, Sarah.

Sarah Palin likes to tell voters around the country about how she “put the government checkbook online” in Alaska. On Thursday, Palin suggested she would take that same proposal to Washington.

“We’re going to do a few new things also,” she said at a rally in Cedar Rapids. “For instance, as Alaska’s governor, I put the government’s checkbook online so that people can see where their money’s going. We’ll bring that kind of transparency, that responsibility, and accountability back. We’re going to bring that back to D.C.”

There’s just one problem with proposing to put the federal checkbook online – somebody’s already done it. His name is Barack Obama.


In 2006 and 2007, Obama teamed up with Republican Sen. Tom Coburn to pass the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, also known as “Google for Government.” The act created a free, searchable web site – — that discloses to the public all federal grants, contracts, loans and insurance payments.

And here she’s been claiming he hadn’t done anything in Washington. Turns out her plan has already been enacted by Obama.

Palin e-mail hack details emerge

Palin e-mail hack details emerge

Yahoo mail home page, BBC

The hacked Yahoo account was one of two Ms Palin owned

Details of how an e-mail account of US Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin was hacked have emerged.

Following the hack, screenshots of Mrs Palin’s messages, inbox, pictures and address book were posted to the Wikileaks whistle-blowing site.

It is thought the attackers exploited the password resetting system of Yahoo’s e-mail service.

Details about Mrs Palin’s life pulled from public sources reportedly helped defeat security questions.

Formal investigation

Information from Wikipedia and other online databases helped to establish Mrs Palin’s date of birth, zip code and other personal information.

Armed with this, the attackers convinced the Yahoo password re-setting system they warranted access and allowed them to re-set the password and then get at the account.

In an official statement Yahoo said: “Yahoo treats issues of security and privacy very seriously.”

It added: “To protect the privacy of our users, we are not able to comment on the details of a specific user account.”

“Generally, if Yahoo! receives reports that an account has been compromised, we investigate for suspicious activity and take appropriate action,” the company said.

Sarah Palin campaigning, AP

Mrs Palin is being investigated for her conduct as governor of Alaska

The attackers broke into Mrs Palin’s e-mail account. This account and another,, owned by Mrs Palin have now been deleted.

The FBI and the US Secret Service have now begun a formal investigation into the attack and who may have been behind it.

The hackers used the CTunnel proxy service which routes web browsing through an intermediary to obscure where the attackers were based.

However, the screenshots for the attack reveal the original web address used by the proxy which may help investigators track down the miscreants.

It has been reported that records from the CTunnel proxy service are being sought by the FBI.

The attack on the e-mail account comes as questions are being asked about whether Mrs Palin used her personal e-mail accounts to carry out state business.

US law states that all e-mails relating to the official business of government must be archived and not destroyed. However, it does allow for personal e-mails to be deleted.

Mrs Palin is being investigated in Alaska for alleged abuse of power while governor of the state.

Palin Using Her Child as Political Prop

Palin Using Her Child as Political Prop

by John R. MacArthur

Sarah Palin never had much hope of getting my vote, but when she told the Republican convention that special-needs children would have “a friend and advocate in the White House” in a McCain administration, I felt obliged to give her a hearing. God knows, kids with disabilities and their parents need powerful friends, so I even called my own special-needs daughter to the television to watch.

Unfortunately, the camera kept cutting to Palin’s snowmobiler “guy,” alternately cradling and brandishing the couple’s Down syndrome baby, who appeared to be fast asleep. At first I told myself that this might be a good thing – special education and physical therapy are scandalously under-funded in this country and some TV images of a cute Down syndrome baby might be just the thing to raise consciousness about the problem.

But something about the aggressive theatrics sparked another, quite unpleasant image in my mind. When I visited Hanoi in 1994, beggars, sometimes men, would confront me on the street carrying limp, lifeless-looking babies that looked as though they were on the verge of death, if not actually dead. I later learned that the babies were drugged into listlessness and that many of them were “rented” by the beggars for their daily rounds. I confess that I was so horrified by this tactic that I recoiled instead of giving them any money. How could anyone, no matter how desperate, use a baby in that way to get sympathy?

I think we should pose the same question to Governor and Mr. Palin. While they certainly deserve consideration for the suffering they will endure as parents of a handicapped child, I don’t see how that earns Mrs. Palin my vote. More to the point, why should I cast a ballot for a candidate who is so desperate for my support that she’s willing to exploit her unlucky offspring as a campaign prop?

Something ugly about the handsome Palins revealed itself in St. Paul. I’m not in politics, so I can’t fully appreciate the wild ambition that drives people like Sarah and Todd – that makes them do things that ordinary folks would never have the stomach for.

The writer Walter Karp summed it up this way: “Politicians are bolder than you and I.” Clearly, Sarah Palin is very bold. While her husband and two of her daughters passed around the baby for the cameras, she was reveling in the spotlight as only a politician can. “Love me, admire me,” her smiling face told the throng. I imagine it was the same thing at the high-school basketball games and beauty pageants where she first experienced the drug of fame.

But the two mothers of Down syndrome kids who I knew at my daughter’s old grammar school mostly had to smile through tears of frustration; they didn’t really have the time to grandstand, either about their virtue or their problems. And I’m pretty sure that neither one of them was a Republican because nobody knows better than a special-needs parent how hostile the GOP has become to the idea of spending public money on the helpless. The party of Reagan/Bush/Palin is famously the party of self-help (except when it’s the party of help yourself to the taxpayers’ money).

Moreover, the “Special Schools” budget in Alaska isn’t very special. “We add 20 percent to the school districts’ funding to account for the extra costs of spec ed, voc ed, bilingual ed, and gifted ed,” a state spokesman, Eric Fry, told the group MOMocrats. “They can spend any part of their budget on spec ed, as needed.” Oh, “gifted and talented” kids are special ed, too. And as I read it, nothing is guaranteed for the neediest kids with the most severe learning disabilities. Meanwhile, their exhausted and demoralized parents have to compete for resources with the pushy parents of kids deemed too smart for regular education.

To be sure, things aren’t any better in supposedly liberal New York City, where there isn’t nearly enough to go around. The public schools can barely identify, much less educate, the special-ed kids that overwhelm the system. Like everything else in America, the class system comes into play in special ed. Such wealthy white suburbs as Westport, Conn., with its extensive public-school inclusion program, put other underfunded districts with big minority enrollment to shame.

My wife and I are lucky we can afford to pay the exorbitant tuition for private special-education schools. But the great majority of parents in our situation have to sue the city Department of Education for tuition reimbursement. Higher-functioning special-needs kids, including ones with Down syndrome, usually get some money; lower-functioning kids often have difficulty finding a school that will take them under any circumstances.

Of course, the Palin baby show was mostly just an advertisement against legal abortion, so why not just come out and say it, instead of pretending to support government social spending? But inauthenticity was the order of the day, and advertising, as Daniel Boorstin writes, is “the characteristic rhetoric of American democracy.”

I was finally so sickened by the Palins’ (and the TV networks’) grotesque play for ratings that I abruptly turned off the set. And I told my special-ed daughter, who is smart enough to know better, not to believe a word that Sarah Palin says.


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