Army sergeant accepted $1.4 million in bribes

Ernie Bilko (l) and Karl Rove (r)

A US Army sergeant who oversaw dining facilities at two military bases in Kuwait has pleaded guilty to accepting 1.4 million dollars in “illegal gratuities” from private contractors.

Ray Scott Chase, 42, also pleaded guilty in an appearance before an Illinois court to hiding the money upon his return to the United States and lying to federal investigators in 2007, Illinois prosecutors said.

In a statement, the Justice Department said Chase “supervised the food procurement, preparation and service operations at Camp Doha and Camp Arifjan” in Kuwait in 2002 and 2003.

He “also coordinated orders for certain blanket purchase agreements the US Army had with various private contractors to provide supplies to services to both of those dining facilities,” the department added.

In a statement, the Justice Department said Chase admitted receiving approximately 1.4 million dollars from contractors that included Tamimi Global Company Limited, LaNouvelle General Trading and Contracting Corporation, and another unnamed company.

Ernie Bilko was penny-ante compared to the opportunities offered up by the Bush/Cheney War.

Tories to send gay MP on road show

David Cameron is to dispatch the most senior gay member of his frontbench team to Poland to encourage the Tories’ rightwing allies in the European parliament to abandon their homophobic views.

In a move designed to defuse criticism in tonight’s leaders’ television debate that the Tories have allied themselves with extremists in the EU, Cameron has revealed that the shadow environment secretary, Nick Herbert, will attend a gay rights march in Warsaw in July.

Cameron told the Guardian that Herbert’s trip to Poland is designed to persuade the highly conservative Law and Justice party to embark on a “journey” to moderate its views on sexuality.

The party was founded by the late Polish president Lech Kaczynski, who died earlier this month in a plane crash in western Russia. Kaczynski banned gay rights marches in Warsaw when he was the city’s mayor…

Cameron says the Tories have responded to these concerns by asking Herbert to travel to Poland. He said: “We would not join with parties that had unacceptable views. But we do recognise that, particularly in central and eastern Europe, there are parties that have still got some way to go on the journey of recognising full rights for gay people. We are helping them make that journey.”

Too bad he didn’t consider a journey, say, to New Orleans to drop in and say hello to the gang at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference the other week. Their view of Gay Rights ain’t a whole boatload of difference from former members of the Waffen SS.

Burglars break into prison to rob inmates – away on leave

It would make a good gag for a comedy if it weren’t actually true: thieves have broken into a Dutch prison to steal the inmates’ televisions.

Twice in the last six weeks, burglars broke into a minimum-security prison and stole TVs from cells while prisoners were on weekend furloughs, a spokesman for the justice ministry said on Wednesday…

The facility is what the Dutch government calls a “very modestly protected environment,” where prisoners transition back into society. They are typically allowed weekend leave, which is when the burglars decided to take advantage.

The thefts happened on two separate weekends about a month apart in March and April. The ministry spokesman said it has still not been able to confirm how the burglars gained access.

Har! Authorities have to figure out how to protect their criminals – from criminals.

Republicans lie to save their Wall $treet buddies

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

When Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell decided last week to portray the Democratic version of financial regulation as a Wall Street “bailout,” it seemed like a brilliant, albeit cynical, political move.

What do the voters hate even more than Wall Street? Bailouts. What’s the perfect way to combine their antagonism for big banks with their distaste for taxpayer-funded bailouts? Accuse the Democrats of bailing out the banks. Perfect.

A good political move in theory, only it didn’t work. First, the outcry was over a “bailout” that wasn’t. Granted, there is some money in the bill — $50 billion — but it’s provided by the banks, not the taxpayers. And it’s not there to bail out banks, it’s to help the sick ones die properly without creating a panic. “Paying for the funeral” is the way Treasury sources describe it…

And get this: When the GOP leadership hatched this idea, it found more than a handful of Republicans — and not just the usual moderate suspects — who actually want to vote for financial reform. In fact, the difference between Wall Street reform and, say, health care reform, is that “there truly is a group of us who will hold our side’s feet to the fire” to get a bill, one Senate Republican told me.

So when McConnell got all his Republicans to sign a measure to force more negotiations before bringing the bill to the floor, some were with him with a strong caveat: They would not threaten to filibuster a bill they think the country needs. Period.

The traditional Big Lie tactic worked well enough in watering down chances at real healthcare reform. Republicans had the aid of spineless Democrats on that one.

But financial reform is different. Voters want it done. In most cases, the supply of government exceeds the demand for it. In fact, a slew of recent polls show that only about 20 percent of the people trust the government to do the right thing. But even so, a majority of folks actually want the government to intervene to fix Wall Street’s excesses.

In other words, the banks are so out of control that even the inept government needs to step in and do something.

Republicans just may be smart enough to trade one class of opportunism – the Party of NO, after all, appeals to their teabagger trolls – for another more traditional role. Work to water down any possible sanctions that might rank the needs of American taxpayers above Wall Street profits.

Adobe waves the white flag at iPhone

That sure was quick: It appears that Adobe has thrown in the towel on further investment in their iPhone-specific Flash developer tools, before they’re even released.

According to Engadget, Adobe’s Flash Packager for iPhone — which converts Flash applications into iPhone ones using something out of the black arts (we suspect) — has had a screeching halt in its development cycle and the company won’t be throwing further financial resources at the project.

As you’ll recall, one of the new developer rules in the iPhone OS 4.0 SDK forbids the use of code written with non-approved tools — which certainly includes the bad magic that Adobe hoped to unleash to its Flash developers to help them port their Flash apps over to the iPhone OS.

Rather than fight a losing battle with Apple, Adobe has effectively waved the white flag in surrender. Principal Product Manager Mike Chambers announced that, while the Flash Packager for iPhone will still ship as part of next month’s Creative Suite 5 as planned, they won’t continue to throw money down a black hole by developing it any further.

They could always return to programming media tools for DOS. Or CP/M.

American youth too fat to fight!

More than a quarter of young adults are unable to meet physical requirements to join the military, creating a potential threat to national security.

“It’s not drug abuse, it’s not asthma, it’s not flat feet — by far the leading medical reason is being overweight or obese,” said retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Norman Seip at a news conference.

About 27 percent of young adults are medically ineligible for the military, according to Mission: Readiness, a group of retired admirals, generals, and other senior military leaders.

Mission: Readiness’ report, “Too Fat to Fight,” said that 75 percent of young Americans between the ages of 17 to 24 do not qualify for the military because of failure to graduate [from high school], criminal records or physical problems. The study cited Department of Defense and health data…

“The logic is pretty obvious,” said retired Army Brig. Gen. Clara Adams-Ender. “The troops need to be in excellent physical condition because of the demands of the important jobs they do in defense. Rigorous physical and mental standards are critical if we are to maintain the fighting readiness of our military.”

Back in the day – counseling my peers how to stay out of Uncle Sugar’s Imperial Boogying in VietNam – it never occurred to me to just turn folks into sedentary garbage cans stuffed with junk food. Probably would have been easier for some to achieve than the inventive tricks we came up with.