The Commonwealth Comment

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

LNG Not for Me!

Yesterday a federal appeals court rejected an attempted block of the proposed Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) facility in Fall River, Massachusetts' Weaver's Cove along the banks of the Taunton River. The lawsuit was filed by Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Riley and Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch.

The court was not pleased with the two officials and reprimanded them saying that they should have approached the U.S. Department of Transportation asking them to set minimum standards of safety before coming to the court. "One might expect, for example, that the petitioners could ask the agency to adopt site safety standards, arguing that the present standards are inadequate, and then seek judicial review if and when the agency denied this request," the court wrote in its decision. Riley has since filed an appeal with the Department of Transportation contesting the LNG terminal standards.

Beth Stone, Tom Reily's spokeswoman, defended the official's suit against the LNG site. "We brought this action to urge the Department of Transportation to set safety standards that encourage citing LNG terminals far away from population centers. Weaver's Cove is not the place for an LNG terminal."

Approximately 64,000 residents of Fall River and the surrounding communities of Somerset and Freetown live along the river and could be harmed if any accidents at or attacks on the proposed facility should occur.

For More Information on LNG here are two opposing websites:

Coalition for Responsible Siting of LNG Facilities

Weaver's Cover Energy

My Opinion: It seems like common sense to me not to build a potential terrorist target and accident waiting to happen in the middle of one of the state's larger cities. Maybe I'm crazy. But, when several politicians from both parties come together to oppose this project you know its a serious issue. 64,000 lives are in danger with this terminal on the Taunton River. Is building this facility in the middle of the city really that crucial? Why not offshore away from residents? This has the potential to be very bad, and it is unfortunate that the courts don't seem to care about public safety and hand the problem off to the Department of Transportation.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Peace on Earth?

After intense criticism, the Loma Lynda Homeowners Association of a subdivision in a suburb of Denver has withdrawn a threat to fine a woman $25 dollars a day for a Christmas wreath she hung on the side of her house. A wreath is no big deal, but this wreath was in the shape of a peace sign, and has the community split over it.

Lisa Jensen was informed in a letter from the Association that she would have to remove her Christmas wreath from her house, because it was a violation of the rules. The letter read: "Loma Lynda residents are offended by the peace sign displayed on the front of your house. ... This Board will not allow any signs, flags etc. that can be considered divisive."

The president of the Association, Bob Kearns, said that he had received complaints about the apparent anti-war wreath, and that some residents saw it as a Satanic symbol. Kearns asked the association's architectural control committee to require Jensen to remove the wreath. The committee refused saying that the wreath sported a season message and nothing more. Kearns then fired all five members of the committee.

"I honestly wasn't thinking of the Iraq war. Peace is way bigger than not being at war. This is a spiritual thing. I am not going to take it down until after Christmas. Now that it has come to this, I feel I can't get bullied. What if they don't like my Santa Claus?" Jensen said.

My Opinion: Wow. Has it really come to this? Are people really this stupid?
Christmas = Peace. "Peace on Earth and mercy mild..." "Sleep in Heavenly peace..." Any of these songs ringing bells?! To begin to see the peace sign as a Satanic symbol is disgusting. It has a bright red bow on it! How evil is that? If anything it's Santa-nic I bet no one knew that the Christmas Tree has pagan origins. Check it out: Origins of the Christmas Tree

Damn these peace loving people for waging their War on Christmas! I bet this Hippie says "Happy Holidays" too! Damn her tolerance! What does she think Christmas is all about? Peace? Love? Charity? Acceptance of fellow human beings?

Oh yea...I guess it is.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Crazy for Kazakhstan

Sacha Baron Cohen has caused quite the controversy with his character Borat. He has been loved by movie goers and critics with his mock-umentary style movie which has grossed over $90 million in the United States. The movie follows Borat, a journalist from Kazakhstan on a cross country journey through the United States.

Despite this success he has been slapped with a series of lawsuits. One of the major suits its coming from frat students from the University of South Carolina. They claimed that the producers of the movie got them drunk in order to get them to sign release forms. In the film they appear drunk with Borat making both sexist and racist comments. The lawsuit claims that the film "made the plaintiffs the object of ridicule, humiliation, mental anguish and emotional and physical distress, loss of reputation, goodwill and standing in the community."

20th Century Fox is also being sued by a Romanian village for $30 millions dollars. "Even if there is only a very small chance of getting justice, I want to go to court, because a wrong has been done to me and our whole community," said one of the villagers.

Yet, even though there are people in the world that hated "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit of Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" there are a great deal more that have enjoyed Borat the character and the movie's satire of American culture. A prominent Kazakh writer enjoyed the film so much that he ha nominated Cohen for a national Kazakh award. Sapabek Asip-uly justifies his controversial nomination claiming that "[Borat] has managed to spark an immense interest of the whole world in Kazakhstan -- something our authorities could not do during the years of independence."

Officials in Kazakhstan are less than amused by Cohen's portrayal of their nation in the film.

It doesn't appear as though Borat will be making any apologies for his "movie film" and that his popularity will continue to grow.

My Opinion: A VERY FUNNY MOVIE! This movie is a superb satire of American culture or lack there of. These frat boys got what they deserved. Give me a break! They had no good reputation, or good standing in the community. Maybe after their humiliation on the big screen they'll think twice before drinking in excess or speaking to Kazakh journalists. Hopefully seeing and hearing themselves say such awful things has taught them a lesson.

I honestly believe that people are deciding to sue 20th Century Fox over this movie because they are seeing it becoming a success. If this movie had flopped, would it have caused such mental anguish on these poor "victims"? I doubt it. Even without trying Borat has shown another ugly side of the the American landscape, its greed.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Reaching for the Sky

This past week there was a proposal submitted to the city of Boston to build a new 75-story, 1,000 foot tall glass tower in downtown Boston, replacing the Winthrop Square city parking garage. Businessman Steven Belkin submitted the design by renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano.

"I called for world-class architects to come up with a building that reflects all the greatness and potential of Boston," said Boston Mayor Tom Menino. "Today's proposal . . . promises everything we asked for." Menino had hoped that his challenge would produce dozens of proposals. It only produced one, Belkin's.

The so called "Piano Tower" would be the city's tallest building. Boston's current tallest building title belongs to the John Hancock Tower. The Hancock is 60 stories, 790 feet tall. The new tower would be 15 stories, over 200 feet taller than the Hancock.

The new building would add approximately 1.3 million square feet in office space. There would be a series of shops and restaurants located on the lower levels. There are also plans for a one acre park to be on the ground level, and another on the roof.

There is no set time table for the city to review the project, or for it to be built if approved. "We are an old city that is not that tall, so we take a look at each project and make sure it is appropriate," said a spokeswoman for the Boston Redevelopment Authority, which will be reviewing the proposal.

My Opinion: This appears to be a pretty interesting project. At first I didn't like the design or idea. However, the more I read about the building and how it will be environmentally friendly has really changed my mind. The only thing that I am weary of is its size. I fear that this tower, being so large, will make Boston a target for terrorism.

I like the Hancock Tower better based on projections of what the "Piano Tower" will look like on the skyline. But, maybe it'll change my mind if/when its built.

Friday, November 17, 2006

PS3 Insanity

The newest edition to the Sony PlayStation family was released today. PlayStation 3 now joins its now seemingly ancient brothers PlayStation 1 & 2 as well as PSP in what is now one of the most popular gaming consoles.

The newest system is selling for $500-$600. Sony is justifying the high price by asserting that PS3 is an entertainment system, not just a video game console. It allows its owners to hook up to the internet, watch DVDs, listen to CD's and play video games. The new PS3 is able to hook up to HiDef televisions, so now you can play video games with even scarier detail. It comes with either a 20GB or 60GB removable hard disk drive, your choice of which size. It also allows its owner to play older PS 1 & 2 video games on it, however, there is a bug in the system that may interrupt that feature. It costs anywhere from $50-$60 per video game.

Intense video game fanatics have been camping out all week in front of local electronic stores such as Best Buy and Circuit City in order to be the first ones in line for the new PS3. Of course people sitting outside with credit cards or $500 or more in cash are going to attract less than welcome visitors. Such was the case for one unlucky Webster, Massachusetts man camping outside a Wal-Mart in Putnam, Connecticut. Two armed robbers confronted a group of people and demanded their money. Michael Penkala of Webster resisted and was shot twice, once in the chest and once in the shoulder. Penkala is reported to be hospitalized at UMass Medical Center with non life threatening injuries. According to the Daily News " A Best Buy in Boston, aware it had only 140 of the consoles, got smart. — Its employees gave out tickets to the first 140 people in line so everyone could go home."

There are currently bids on eBay for PS3 consoles going for $3,000 or more. There is one PlayStation3 on sale on eBay for $10,000.

Here's a link to Time Magazine's take on PlayStation 3
PS3: Don't Waste Your Money

My Opinion: GET A LIFE!!! Move out of your mom's basement and get a life, a job, a girlfriend, something! If all you have to do in life is camp outside a store for a week to get a video game, you seriously need help. Don't get me wrong, I love video games! I own a Game Cube, a GameBoy, and when I was younger a N64 and Sega Genesis, but they're not my life. They're fun, but they're not worth $500-$600 dollars just for the console. Then you have to buy extra controllers and games. It can all add up to well over $1,000 dollars. I'm sorry, but that's too much money for video games. Once again, I apologize but I'm not gonna get shot over a stupid PS3 either. Is it really worth it? I'm sure the graphics are cool and the games are fun, but that money is my rent, my tuition, my books, my groceries, my T pass, the list goes on. How can anyone justify spending this much money on a video game? Someone PLEASE tell me!!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

OJ: "If I did it..."

It was announced recently that OJ Simpson, who in October of 1995 was found not guilty of murdering his wife and friend, will be having a TV special entitled "O.J. Simpson: If I Did It, Here's How It Happened." The special will feature Simpson talking about the murder and IF he had done it, how he would've done it. "OJ Simpson, in his own words, tells for the first time how he would have committed the murders if he were the one responsible for the crimes. In the two-part event, Simpson describes how he would have carried out the murders he has vehemently denied committing for over a decade," said Fox in a released statement.

The special, which is set to air on November 27 & 29th is coming just before the release of his book "If I Did It" on November 30th. He will be interviewed by the publisher of his book, Judith Reagan, who is the founder of ReaganBooks. ReganBooks is an imprint of HarperCollins,which is owned by News Corp., parent of Fox. It has been rumored that Simpson was paid $3.5 million for this book.

Nicole Brown's family is not surprised by Simpson's actions. Her father, Lou Brown said "I gave up on him many years ago." He went on to say that he has "absolutely no doubt" that OJ Simpson is responsible for the murder of his daughter. Nicole's sister, Denise Brown said in a statement "We hope Ms. Reagan takes full accountability for promoting the wrong doing of criminals and leveraging this forum and the actions of 'Simpson' to commercialize abuse."

My Opinion: If he did it? IF?! IF?!?! He did do it! If OJ had nothing to hide then why did he lead the police on a chase in that white Bronco? Why did OJ try on leather gloves with latex gloves on already? Why did he try on leather gloves that had shrunk because they were soaked in blood? Why was he forced to pay for Nicole's death in civil court if he wasn't guilty? The OJ Simpson trial was one of the most watched televised events of the 1990's and everyone knows he is guilty. Now he's in need of some cash, so he flaunts the hypothetical idea that If he had done it, he'd do it this way. That's disgusting. It's disgusting for anyone to make money off of someone's death, especially when you're the one responsible for the death.

That's not even the sad part. The sad part is people will tune in on those nights. Fox's ratings will be through the roof, and people will buy this book. I think the special will reveal just enough to get people to watch, but not too much so they'll have to buy the book to hear the rest of the story. What a sick marketing ploy.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Breaking Ground On A Dream

The ground breaking ceremony for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial took place today on the National Mall in Washington D.C. today. The new memorial will be built on the remaining free land on the Mall; in between the Thomas Jefferson memorial and the Lincoln memorial. It is going to be dedicated to King's infamous "I have a dream" speech.

The event drew approximately 5,000 people out into Washington's cool, cloudy weather. The ceremony was also attended by President George W. Bush, President Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Jesse Jackson, and many more. In 1996 President Clinton signed a law that would protect the land, reserving it for the memorial. "The monument, however beautiful it turns out to be, will be but a physical manifestation of the monument constructed in the minds and hearts of millions of Americans, who are more just, more decent, more successful, more perfect because he lived," reflected Clinton.

President Bush found it fitting that the MLK memorial will be located between Jefferson and Lincoln, "By its presence in this place, it will unite the men who declared the promise of America and defended the promise of America with the man who redeemed the promise of America." King is the first civilian and first African American to have a memorial on the Mall.

According to the Associated Press, $65 million has already been raised for the estimated $100 million project. The memorial is set to be finished in 2008; forty years after King's assassination.

My Opinion: 40 years too late. I'm glad to finally see a memorial for the face of the civil rights movement of the 1960's. The people that worked with him are now one step closer to seeing their dream of a MLK memorial come true. Visit for more info.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

This Old Man...

Former President Gerald Ford hit a milestone in U.S. history. At age 93 years and 121 days old he is the nation's oldest living president. The former oldest president was Ronald Reagan, who passed away in June of 2004.

Ford was born on July 14, 1913. For a little perspective here's a list of events that happened in the early 1900's.
The Titanic sank on April 15, 1912
William Howard Taft was president in 1913
Woodrow Wilson elected president 1914
Stainless steel was invented in 1913
Babe Ruth made his major league debut with the Boston Red Sox in 1914
World War I begins in 1914
The Mexican Revolution 1910-1917

Gerald Ford served as the nation's 40th Vice President and 38th President. Many critics question why Ford pardoned President Nixon when he was never convicted of a crime.

Ford is famous for his mis-steps. He was even spoofed in Stephen Sondheim's musical Assassins, in which attempted assassins Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme and Sarah Jane Moore attempt to shoot him before he trips and falls. In reality he faced two assassination attempts in 17 days. In the 1976 presidential elections he was narrowly defeated by Democratic challenger Jimmy Carter.

Perhaps it was all the bumps on the head and the cheating death that has kept Ford around for his 93 years and 121 days. He now holds the title of longest living president and is facing seemingly constant trips to the hospital. Hopefully he'll be around a little longer to defend his title. The top 4 oldest presidents are: Gerald Ford (93 years 121 days), Ronald Reagan (93 years 119 days), John Adams(90 years 253 days), and Herbert Hoover (90 years 71 days).

In a statement Ford said "The length of one's days matters less than the love of one's family and friends."

My Opinion: I really don't have an opinion. Congrats to Gerry! That is an amazing milestone.

I want to take a mini poll. What living president will make a run at Ford's record? George W., Bill Clinton, George I, Jimmy Carter, or will Gerry retain his title?? Let me know what you think!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Thank You

Disclaimer: This post is all opinion.

Thank you. It is a a simple phrase that takes only a second to say, but to someone who has served or is serving in the U.S. Armed Forces it means a lot. So on this Veterans Day I ask you all to thank a service member either retired or active. A simple "Thank you" will make their day.

The bravery of our service men and women is something to admire. They volunteer to stand on the front lines defending the United States. Their courage and service is extremely admirable, and something every citizen should be grateful for.

Here’s a little background on Veterans Day. It marks the end of World War I in 1918. It is known as Armistice Day in Great Britain.

My family's military history is pretty extensive and interesting. The most recent member of the military is my cousin, Megan's husband Jeff Hassel, a member of the Marine Corps who has served in Iraq. My great uncle, Commander John Morris, served the U.S. Navy in World War II. My grandfather, Chief Petty Officer Charles O'Leary, served the U.S. Navy in World Was II. On my mother's side of the family I have an ancestor that served in the War of 1812, his name escapes me now. Also on the Macomber side of the family is Colonel John Hathaway, an officer in the American Revolution.

Each of these people lived decades, some centuries apart, but they all had the common desire and bravery of serving in the United States Military.

Thank you.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Journalism Loses a Dear Friend

Yesterday Ed Bradley, long time CBS "60 Minutes" journalist lost his private battle with leukemia. He was 65 years old.

Bradley broke down racial barriers in broadcast journalism by serving as CBS's first African-American White House and "60 Minutes" correspondent. The 2005-2006 season of "60 Minutes" marked his 25th years with the popular, long running news magazine program. He joined the show in 1981 when Dan Rather left to replace Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News.

Over the years on "60 Minutes" he interviewed a great variety of people including: singer Liza Minnelli to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. He took his work very seriously and received several awards for his journalism. He owns 20 Emmy Awards, and 4 Peabody Awards among many others.

"One of the great talents he had, both as a journalist and a TV personality, was that he was able to do a serious journalistic job . . . while insisting on being just who he was," said said Alex S. Jones, director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University (The Boston Globe). Bradley even pierced his left ear in 1986 and wore his gold earring ever since.

devastated, his colleagues fondly remember their fellow journalist, but more importantly their friend. "When you think of the overall body of work he did, it's hard to imagine anybody could ever duplicate that. You don't replace a man like Ed Bradley at any news organization. He is a legend, and we're going to miss his work. But, I think just as important, we're going to miss Ed Bradley the man," said the President of CBS News, Sean McManus.

"When he laughed, he laughed whole-heartedly from down deep. He was just an absolutely delightful man," Mike Wallace described.

"Ed was a great person to be a around who never forgot where he came from. He was a great helper to African-American journalists. He was also the softest touch in town. He wasn't into the celebrity charity thing, but he helped a whole lot of people over the years who really needed it," remembered Bob Shieffer, host of "Face the Nation".

My Opinion: I'll let Ed's work and legacy speak for itself.

A Clean Sweep

The Democratic Party has officially taken control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Dems are the majority for the first time since 1994 after the so called Republican Revolution. It was the first time in history that the Dems gained seats without any incumbents losing their seats.

The news came yesterday when incumbent George Allen (R) of Virginia conceded to Democratic challenger Jim Webb after an extremely close race. Approximately 7,000 votes separated the two candidates. The announcement tips the balance in the Senate to 51 seats for the Democrats to the Republicans' 49. The House still has 6 undecided seats, but the current count is 229 seats for the Dems and 196 for the GOP.

President Bush invited Speaker to be Nancy Pelosi to the White House yesterday for lunch and to discuss politics. They both pledge to work through party differences to work on the issues of Iraq, minimum wage, and Dafur. "We have our differences and we will debate them, and that is what our founders intended. But we will do so in a way that gets results for the American people," Pelosi said. Nancy Pelosi is set to become the nation's first female Speaker of the House and will become third in line for the presidency.

The new Democratic congress has a lot on its plate including a possible confirmation of Secretary of Defense nominee Bob Gates, and a decision on the fate of United Nations ambassador John Bolton.

My Opinion: I'm glad to see that there is now a system of checks and balances in Washington D.C. It appears as though George W. is humbled with a Democratic congress and that's a very good thing. It means that he has heard what the people want. I think that he didn't really think that all these polls showing his approval rating at 35% were accurate. Now he realizes they are. Congrats to the Democrats! Now its time to get to work with your Republican counterparts to change the United States.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rumsfeld Packs

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced his resignation today, just one day after the Democrats took control of the United States House of Representatives and are a mere one seat away from taking over the Senate as well. Democrats have been calling for Rumsfeld' resignation for several months now because of the current situation in Iraq.

President Bush and Donald Rumsfeld began discussing the possibility of him stepping down in the days leading up to the mid-term elections. Rumsfeld took over the position of Secretary of Defense since Bush took office in 2001. He is Bush's longest serving cabinet member. According to CNN, he also served as defense secretary under President Ford from 1975-1977.

President Bush has aknowleged the public's anger with the GOP. "I recognize that many Americans voted last night to register their displeasure with the lack of progress being made," Bush said in reference to Iraq. "Don Rumsfeld has been a superb leader during a time of change. Yet he also appreciates the value of bringing in a fresh perspective during a critical period in this war."

President Bush today introduced his nominee to replace Rumsfeld. Robert Gates is the current president of Texas A&M and former CIA Chief. He has served under six presidents of both parties. Serving under George W. Bush will make it seven. Gates said he accepted Bush's nomination because "...The United States is at war." Upon his introduction he stated that "I believe the outcome of these conflicts will shape our world for decades to come." He will await confirmation from the Senate.

My Opinion: I feel as though my feeling would be expressed in song.

"There's a sad sort of clanging From the clock in the hall, and the bells in the steeple too. And up in the nurs'ry an absurd little bird's popping out to say "coocoo". Regretfully they tell us,But firmly they compel us To say goodbye to you. So long, farewell, Auf wiedersehn, good night,I hate to go and leave this pretty sight. So long, farewell, Auf wiedersehn, adieu, Adieu, adieu, to yieu and yieu and yieu. So long, farewell, Au'voir, auf wiedersehn, I'd like to stay and taste my first champagne So long, farewell, Auf wiedersehn, goodbye,I leave and heave a sigh and say goodbye, Goodbye! I'm glad to go,I cannot tell a lie. I flit, I float, I fleetly flee, I fly. The sun has gone to bed and so must I So long, farewell, auf wiedersehn, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, Goodbye! "

Massachusetts Elects First African-American Governor

Last night in the crowed Hynes Convention Center the Democratic Party was celebrating victories in the House of Representatives, a gain in the Senate, and Deval Patrick winning the governorship of Massachusetts. The blue and white confetti was flying in a sea of signs that read "Together We Can".

Deval Patrick became Massachusetts' first African-American governor by beating out Lt. Governor Kerry Healey, Independent Christy Mihos, and Green Rainbow candidate Grace Ross. Patrick is only the second black governor in U.S. history.

Standing before an enormous American flag Patrick was introduced by Massachusetts Senators John Kerry and Ted Kennedy. "The main event," as Kennedy called him made humbly made his way to the podium. "Thank you. Thank you all," he greeted his supporters before being interrupted by a loud chant of "Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!" To which he quickly responded "You better believe we can!"

"The people of Massachusetts are so proud, so optimistic, so practical, so hopeful. A people of ingenuity and drive and grit and determination. A people of fundamental civility and warmth. A people from a tradition of high standards and high expectations. This is the character of the people of Massachusetts. This is the character you reflected in this campaign. And these are the people I am honored to serve come January as your Governor," he said while thanking the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for electing him.

He ended the evening by quoting his grandmother who used to say "Hope for the best, and work for it," he said with a smile. "Well, we have succeeded in raising each others hopes, and I can't wait to get to work."

For the transcript of Deval Patrick's speech visit the Boston Globe's web site.

My opinion: Good for Deval, and even better for the people of Massachusetts. Deval's campaign is the example of how politics should be run; clean and on a message of hope, not fear. I'm so happy that he was elected. I am optimistic that Massachusetts will move forward as a progressive state for change and equality. Congratulations to Deval Patrick on his fantastic campaign and his election!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Vote Early and Often!


Go out and vote today. I don't care if you vote Republican or Democrat, Independent or Green Rainbow, or even a write in. Just vote! If you are of legal age and are registered to vote go and do it. Voting is what makes the United States a great country and I find it disheartening that voter turn out in this country is so low. You may think your vote doesn't count, but it really does. In Freetown, Massachusetts' selectman elections this past March, the two candidates who ran for the open seat were separated by a total of 4 votes. 4 VOTES!!! You cannot tell me that your vote doesn't matter in these elections. If you don't vote, you have no right to complain about the policy of the United States.

Your vote keeps democracy alive and well. If you are able to vote, you have no excuse not to. Think of the founding fathers signing the Declaration of Independence 230 years ago. They committed treason to earn the United States' liberty and the right to vote. Think of the soldiers fighting overseas. If you don't vote and do your part to preserve democracy, then why are they there?

Please do what is right and be an informed participant in making the government of the United States of America the best that it can be.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Saddam Sentenced to Death

I sincerely apologize for my lack of posting on Sunday. It was a long day capped off by me yelling about a New England Patriots loss.

More than two years after his capture, former president of Iraq, Saddam Hussein was convicted of crimes against humanity on November 5th by Special Iraqi Tribunal. He has been sentenced to death by hanging. "You can't decide. You are slaves. God is great. Life is for us and death for our enemies. Life for the nation, death for the enemies of our nation," snapped Saddam upon hearing the judgmentent.

The New York Times reported that Saddam Hussein's verdict and sentence will "come under review by the nine-judge appellate chamber of the trial court. There is no time limit for the appeal court's review, but Iraqi and American officials who work with the court said that the earliest realistic date for Mr. Hussein's execution, assuming it stood up to review, would be next spring." According to Iraqi law executions must take place within 30 days of the end of the appeal process. The law also forbids the executions of people over the age of 70. Saddam Hussein reaches that checkpoint on April 28, 2007.

The sentence has received a mixed reaction from the people of Iraq and it is unclear exactly what will happen in Iraq if Saddam's sentence is indeed carried out as planned. Many people are please withverdictaying that justice is served. Others fear further deterioration of the nation and perhaps even civil war because it. Still others are angry over the verdict.

Here are some of the reactions are reported on I found it interesting to see what the everyday people thought rather than the Political analysists.

"The verdict issued against Saddam today was fair for crimes he committed against the Iraqi people of all sects. But what about crimes committed after Saddam was toppled, such as the sectarian killing which is much worse than the crimes which Saddam committed?": Kana'an Shaker, an official of the Turkman Party.

"The sentence against President Saddam will make the situation deteriorate more. Saddam will remain a symbol for all Iraqis because he refused to concede to the Americans. Everyone collaborated against Saddam (in the trial).": Mohammad al-Dulaimi, 55, tribal leader.

"(These) are happy tidings for us families of the victims and mothers who had children and sons killed. This is the least that Saddam deserved. He should be hanged 10 times and not only once.": Ahmed Ajail.

"If Saddam is executed this country will indulge in civil war. The Iranians and the Americans are pushing us towards disaster.": Halima Jabar, 50, housewife, who was weeping.

"Like every oppressed Iraqi, I feel happy, although to execute Saddam once is not enough as Saddam destroyed a whole country. And the real joy will be the occupation forces leaving Iraq.": Hazim Messabih, 35.

My Opinion: While this is without a doubt exactly what Saddam deserves, I cannot help but share in the fear of the Iraqi citizens over what will happen to Iraq when Saddam is executed. If civil war breaks out, how much longer will U.S. forces have to stay? Will they stay? How much more violence will there be against U.S. forces and Iraqi civilians? What will Bush do?

Also, hanging? C'mon, really? The Special Tribunal couldn't come up with anything a little more original? Hanging is so 1600's. The man that is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Iraqi citizens is subject to one quick snap and that's it? I would've come up with something a little more prolonged and perhaps painful. He should experience exactly what he put his own people through. While I am not an advocate of the death penalty, I will make an exception in Saddam's case. I only pray that it does not result in increased violence against U.S. soldiers and innocent Iraqis.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Bob Ney Officially Resigns

Republican House member Bob Ney of Ohio officially resigned from congress on Friday. Ney agreed to plead guilty on September 15 and did so on October 13 on charges of conspiracy and making false statements. He may face upwards of 2 years in prison and $60,000 in fines.

Ney has been linked to the now infamous lobbyist Jack Abramoff. According to CNN, Ney helped Abramoff clients by advancing an application of one of their clients for a license to install a wireless telephone infrastructure in the House and placing statements in the Congressional Record regarding a Florida casino deal. In exchange, he and his staff received items including a golf trip to Scotland, meals at restaurants, tickets to sporting events and campaign contributions.

In his resignation letter Ney stated "I am proud of the many accomplishments that have helped improve the lives of people in the 18th Congressional District of Ohio during my tenure of public service. Having completed all outstanding work in my congressional office, I now hereby resign."He made no mention

House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi scolded GOP leader for allowing Ney to collect pay and benefits for several weeks following his admission to guilt. "It is an embarrassment to this institution and an insult to the American taxpayer," she said.

Ney is the fourth Republican to resign from the 109th Congress. The others include: Randal "Duke" Cunningham (CA), former majority leader Tom DeLay (TX), and of course Mark Foley (FL).

My Opinion: Good riddance to bad rubbish. Shame on the GOP for allowing Ney to collect pay and benefits for so long after admitting to corruption. Ney is a disgrace to the House of Representatives, the GOP, and the people of Ohio. I look forward to Tuesday's elections and a Democratic take over of at least the House.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Evangelical Leader Resigns

The reverend Ted Haggard, President of the National Association of Evangelicals resigned on Thursday after accusations of paying a male prostitute for sex for 3 years and using Meth. He has also temporarily stepped down as pastor of the 14,000 member New Life Church in Colorado.

The allegations were made by former prostitute Mike Jones on a Denver radio talk show on Tuesday and Wednesday. The story surfaced after Jones discovered who Haggard was by watching TV and that he was in favor of a same-sex marriage ban in Colorado. Colorado and 7 other states will vote on constitutional amendments banning gay marriage on November 7th.

Jones claims that about 3 years ago a man came to him seeking his services and identifying himself as a married man named "Art". The two got together about once a month for no more than an hour each time costing $200 each time. "It was not emotional. It was physical, just strictly physical," said Jones. He is offering up as evidence to support his claims saved voicemails from Haggard as well as two $100 bills given to Jones from Haggard.

Rev. Ted Haggard has denied the accusations. "I've never had a gay relationship with anybody. I'm steady with my wife. I'm faithful to my wife," he told a local TV station. In regards to his resignation and stepping aside from his church Haggard explained "I am voluntarily stepping aside from leadership so that the overseer process can be allowed to proceed with integrity. I hope to be able to discuss this matter in more detail at a later date. In the interim, I will seek both spiritual advice and guidance."

After his initial denial Haggard made a partial admission to the allegations. "There has been some admission of indiscretion, not an admission to all of the material that has been discussed, but there is an admission of some guilt," said Rev. Ross Parsley, the New Life Church associate senior pastor

Mike Jones voluntarily took a polygraph test, which he failed. Jones said that he was disappointed in the results, but that he refuses to back down from his statements. He said that he cannot let someone "...preach one thing and do another."

My Opinion: I haven't made up my mind on this story. It really could go either way. It could be Mike Jones is trying to poke a hole in the reasoning for a gay marriage ban less than a week before the vote on the amendment. On the other hand, Haggard has partially admitted to the some of the allegations and has stepped down from his positions as pastor and President of the NAE. Overall I don't think Haggard or Jones are completely reliable. I think one has a motive and the other has something to hide, but neither are entirely truthful.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Sprint for Beacon Hill

The four candidates for governor of Massachusetts squared off against one another in the final televised debate last night at the New England Conservatory of Music. The debate was moderated by Cokie Roberts and featured Democratic candidate Deval Patrick, the current Lt. Governor and Republican candidate Kerry Healey, Independent Christy Mihos, and Grace Ross who represents the Green/rainbow party.

The debate started off with a discussion on gay marriage and whether or no the people of Massachusetts have the right to vote on the matter. Healey and Mihos agreed in allowing the people to vote on the matter. On the other hand Patrick and Ross believe that the voters should not be allowed to vote on the matter of same sex marriage. Healey and Mihos believe that since the voters have collected thousands of signatures (some through illegal means, which they failed to mention) that they should represent and follow the will of the people. Patrick and Ross argue that it was the court's decision and that it grants people equal protection before the state, and that the people should not have a say in whether or not those rights are allowed.

The night was full of accusations of lying coming primarily from the two main party candidates, Patrick and Healey. Healey focused in on Deval's involvement in the now infamous Benjamin LaGuer rape case, his work as a federal prosecutor, and his proposed spending. "Its about telling the truth, and that is something a governor must do. A governor must be able to look the people of the Commonwealth in the eye and tell the truth, even when it isn't convenient...You need to start telling the truth."

An angry Patrick countered by pointing out the Romney-Healey administration's policy failures and Healey's negative, insulting television ads. "You are better than the campaign you have run," Patrick explained. "But I will tell you that you spend all this time trying to distract us all from the record of failed leadership on the economy, on education, and healthcare, and then you stand over there and talk to me - preach to me - about telling the truth."

A visibly frustrated Grace Ross felt as though the two third party candidates weren't being totally engaged in this debate. "Since these two don't believe in democracy, Christy, I'll ask you a question," a comment which brought quite a few chuckles from the crowded hall. Later she asked the Lt. Governor a question, "...even though it seems as though she doesn't know I am here." As a peace offering, Deval Patrick's next question was directed to Ross, with an apology for making him and Healey the focus of the debate. She focused on

And of course, who can forget about the lovable comedic stylings of Christy Mihos. Mihos criticized Healey's ratio of 13:1 in schools across Massachusetts, claiming that that figure is inaccurate because she included all the school district's administrators, and staff into that figure. Mihos at one point asked Kerry Healey to drop out of the race and support him since she clearly had no chance at victory. To which she responded with a smile, "Christy, I've got 50 good ideas to move this Commonwealth forward."

"And I've got one, for you to leave right now, and I'll move it forward," laughed Mihos. To which Kerry replied, "You've got one idea, and Deval has none." A comment which had mixed reactions from the crowd.

Deval seemed to get the last word in regarding the threat of one party rule in Kerry Healey's ads. "I don't think the people are excited about one party rule in Massachusetts. I that that what people are excited about is leadership, and we haven't had that in some while here, and it shows." He went on in his closing statement about how he is a candidate running on hope, and that he hasn't gotten this far by "tearing anybody down. That's not who I am. I'm not trying to scare anyone into voting for me."

Healey closed out by asking the voters to think about "...what it would mean to have Deval Patrick in office instead of me. And I want to let you to know that I will always tell the truth, I will be a strong leader, and I will make sure the people of this Commonwealth are protected."

MY OPINION: Vote Deval Patrick for governor of Massachusetts. Kerry Healey's negative attack ads have completely sickened me. They are false and meant to frighten voters. "Look out! Deval Patrick helped uphold the justice system by defending rapists in court!" Please, don't let Kerry Healey's fear campaign influence your vote. I commend Deval Patrick for not stooping to the level of his opponent by throwing the mud back. Together we can, and together we will make Massachusetts a leader in education, industry, and equality again!

The Commonwealth Comment hereby officially endorses Democrat Deval Patrick for governor.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

John Kerry vs. The White House

While speaking to a group of students in California, Senator John Kerry (MA-Dem.) Told students to keep their grades up and do well in school or they'll end up getting stuck in Iraq. This statement has sparked outrage across the country tagging Kerry, a Vietnam veteran, as a "Troop Basher".

Kerry claims that it was a "botched" joke intended for George W. Bush. The punch line he unintentionally dropped was "Just ask President Bush." In the mean time the floundering GOP has taken Kerry's comments as the chance to strike the Democrats one week before the mid-term elections. Senator John McCain (AZ-Rep.) has openly demanded an apology from Kerry. The President at a rally in Georgia said "...our troops are plenty smart and plenty brave, and the Senator from Massachusetts owes them an apology."

After an initial hard line stance against apologizing for his criticism of President Bush, Kerry released this statement:

"As a combat veteran, I want to make it clear to anyone in uniform and to their loved ones: my poorly stated joke at a rally was not about, and never intended to refer to any troop.
I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform, and I personally apologize to any service member, family member, or American who was offended.
It is clear the Republican Party would rather talk about anything but their failed security policy. I don’t want my verbal slip to be a diversion from the real issues. I will continue to fight for a change of course to provide real security for our country, and a winning strategy for our troops."

My Opinion: Bravo to John Kerry for initially refusing to apologize for his criticism of the President. The "botched" joke was intended for Bush, not for the troops. The idea that a Vietnam veteran would openly attack the troops' intelligence is outrageous. Shame on the GOP for knowingly twisting Kerry's words and shame on the media for their coverage which did not clearly explain what really happened.

In the beginning...

Welcome to The Commonwealth Comment. An online news blog based in Boston, Massachusetts. The purpose of this blog is to help reduce media consolidation and offer news and opinion on the world's current political and social events. All views are welcome here at Commonwealth and I encourage you to comment on what you read here.

My name is James O'Leary, a broadcast journalism major at Boston's Emerson College and now editor of The Commonwealth Comment. Enjoy!

James O'Leary