Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

Myself, Angi, and the kids had a decent day and weekend. We did nothing. We did not go anywhere, call anyone, or do anything much. They had two or three parades downtown, but we just saw them on the news a little bit. Yesterday's INDY 500 was one of the best ones I have seen in over a decade. It was fucking awesome! I LOVE the Andretti guys! They have ALWAYS been my favorite, which I got from my dad. Michael Andretti (My favorite race driver ever), led a couple of laps, but his son Marco Andretti, A ROOKIE, ALMOST WON IT. HOLY SHIT, HOW COOL IS THAT??!! He led the last three or four laps, but in the LAST turn, the douche bag in second place over took him, and that douche bag guy won, with Marco Andretti in second, and Michael Andretti in third.

The weather has been stunning. No clouds, around 85 to 90 degrees out, just awesome. It sprinkled this evening after clouds moved in out of nowhere (we get the "Great Lakes Effect"). Both of the twins are just plain jabber jaws. All they do is "talk, talk, talk", and "why, why, why". They are a lot of fun though. William is caught up to his sister in pretty much everything, thankfully, because of the therapy people who have been just awesome. The one therapy he just "graduated" from, he gets a checkup from her in a couple months.

Last month, we got a 2004 CHEVY TRAILBLAZER EXT LT. It is fucking AWESOME!!!! I traded in the 1996 GMC YUKON, and the 1999 JEEP, and put $2,000 down, and I actually was able to get a loan on the rest!!!! Just me, no co-signers or anything. I got a 17 % interest rate, but am well on my way to restoring my credit.


I have not spoken to anyone in Ohio since last month (literally). I did not send my mom a card, email, or phone call on Mother's Day. I don't feel bad about it either.


I got a email from my mom in Ohio today:

Mon May 29 07:31:11 2006
re: Mothers Day

Hi Matt- Was I a bad mother or what? Mothers Day was two weeks ago yesterday and I never received a phone call, got a card or even an e-mail from you. I just don't understand. You have told me how much you love me and even respect me, but I never heard from you. I would really love to see the kids again. I thought when you got the trailblazer that Angi was going to bring them over here for a couple of days when dad got back from turkey camp..That was over two weeks ago. I miss you all so bad!!!! Please call me and let me know what I have done, ok? I'll be at Grannys today or call me tomorrow at work. I have a new job and my breaks are at different times every day, so I can't give you a good time to call unless its at 11:00 which is lunch. Love you!! Mom

seek strength amid loss

Iraq war widows seek strength amid loss
By RYAN LENZ, Associated Press Writer
Sun May 28, 1:26 PM ET

War lives on long after the last clods of dirt turn over a soldier's grave. It hangs from the faces of husbands and wives — mostly wives — whose lives crumble after foreign horrors take their spouses.

Those who lost husbands early have been living their grief, raising children without fathers and building futures with memories of hard men who turned soft with children.

For those recently widowed, grief chokes out the hope.

Here are sketches of some of the wives whose soldier husbands were killed in Iraq, and the complex changes they felt after hearing simple words — "Ma'am, we regret to inform you ..."


Kathy Kennedy stopped crying for her husband on the anniversary of his death.

Surrounded by friends at a backyard campfire she held one year after his helicopter was shot down near Tikrit, they exchanged stories, told jokes and laughed.

At that moment, things felt different for the first time since his death.

"I felt, 'we made it through a year, we're going to make it again,'" she says now, two and a half years after the death of her husband, Chief Warrant Officer Kyran E. Kennedy, 43, of Boston.

Kennedy, a pilot in the 101st Airborne Division's aviation brigade, was flying a Black Hawk over Tikrit in November 2003 when he was shot down. Three others died in the crash.

The years since have brought a purpose to life with her two children, she said, even if it's only to remember the man she married and loved and pass on those memories to his children who barely knew him.

Her oldest son, Christopher, then 11, told her quietly in the moments after they learned the news that they would have to remember his father for the youngest boy in the family, who was too young to remember anything.

Even with pictures and stories, there are challenges.

When Kevin, now 6, reminisces with the family, he contributes memories of hunting outings with his father that never happened. He recalls with vivid clarity scuba diving with his dad at a time when he could barely swim.

These are memories he would have had, and they will pass — just like her tears have dried up in exchange for smiles through the years, Kennedy said.

Her family will find normalcy in unordinary circumstances. It will just take time.

"We're not forever going to be that family whose husband was killed in Iraq," she said.


Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Christopher Dostie died as 2005 came to a close. An improvised explosive device, like those that have killed many soldiers in Iraq, detonated near his Humvee in Baghdad while on patrol.

His wife, Stephanie, was home with her two children, savoring the changes the coming of a new year brings. Then she heard the news.

"We had all these plans together, and now none of that is going to happen," she says, her voice still raw with emotion a few months after her husband, a soldier in the 101st Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade, was killed during an insurgent attack in Baghdad on Dec. 30.

For Dostie, the aftermath of losing a husband to war is still unfolding. She has seen women who have survived, watched as other families recovered and moved on. She sees them at grief support groups she has begun attending.

But to her and her children, there are too many questions yet unanswered to move on.

Her oldest son, Cameron, 8, peppers teachers with questions. Why did his dad have to die? Why did God let it happen? He pleads with them to know what it was like that day, what his father was feeling. "Was daddy happy or sad?" he asks.

His mother has heard the questions countless times.

"I've run out of answers," she said, the exhaustion clear in her voice.

Maybe they need a change, she thinks. Dostie has debated returning to the woods of Lewiston, Maine, where her husband's family lives.

It's just so hard to live around soldiers.

She said she feels like an impostor on streets where wives see their husbands come home at night. It's painful to see families reunited every afternoon when hers will never be.

"This was the life we had together," she said. "I don't belong here anymore."


Kimberly Hazelgrove believes in military protocol.

She was a military intelligence officer when her husband, a native of Edinburgh, Ind., was killed in a 2004 helicopter crash over Mosul. She knew what to expect — knew the possibilities.

She also knew exactly why officers in dress uniforms came to her door. It was a reality of a soldier's life at war, one she and her husband both recognized before he deployed to Iraq with the Army's 10th Mountain Division.

Instead of focusing on the loss, though, Hazelgrove considers what fortune she can in the circumstances around his death — she was home sick the week before her husband was killed and was able to speak to him daily on the telephone.

"I generally didn't get to do that," she said.

Hazelgrove has since left the military, and moved from Fort Drum, N.Y., to Lorton, Va., to work and raise her family.

"I don't survive. I live," Hazelgrove, 32, said. "I live every day for me and my children."

With the sternness of a military mom, she has kept their lives stable, remaining in the military for a year after her husband was killed. She surrounded the family with supportive friends to keep life from unraveling uncontrollably.

Even now, she is stern with her children, now 2 and 5.

"I teach them life is not fair, and sometimes you have to make it through the really bad times, but it only makes us stronger," Hazelgrove said.

Her 5-year-old son Brandon answers his mother quickly when she asks where is daddy is.

"My daddy is heaven with Jesus," the boy says loudly. "He died in a helicopter."


Terri Seifert knew her husband could die in Iraq. She didn't expect it to come as it did.

Capt. Christopher Scott Seifert, 27, of Easton, Pa., assigned to the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, died when another soldier threw a grenade into a tent during an attack at Camp Pennsylvania in the dawning days of the 2003 invasion.

Terri has carried the sadness of her husband's death like a proud keepsake since.

"I have survived something that I would have thought to be unsurvivable," she said.

Ironically, she said, there is victory in that sense of achievement as she looks back on the years when all seemed lost. Somehow a new life emerged from the painful void.

Along with other wives at Fort Campbell who lost soldiers in Iraq, she has made herself available to the war's newest widows.

She has walked and stumbled down the paths they are now struggling to travel.

Seifert said early widows in the war had no peers. It was a time when each death was unexpected, government death notifications were uncommon and war widows on post were rare.

"It's an isolating experience," she said. But there is comfort for new widows in people like her, widows who have survived and moved on to build new lives.

She still misses her husband and wishes he were "somewhere out there." She wishes she could have someone to touch.

But there is promise even in tragic death, she said.

"There was much more to Chris' life than his death," she said. "Chris died a hero, but more importantly, he lived as a hero."

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

Copyright © 2006 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

63 years later, WWII vet gets mother's letter

63 years later, WWII vet gets mother's letter

May 27, 2006 07:18 PM EST

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A World War Two veteran will remember his mother this Memorial Day after recently receiving a letter she wrote to him 63 years ago.

Raphael Shackleford said he was shocked to receive a letter from his mother last Wednesday, which was dated May 17, 1943. The letter was written to him as he set off to join the Navy in World War II.

The two-page letter conveys his mother's regrets of signing her 17-year-old son over to the U-S Navy, her pride in the young man he had become and some updates from home. Shackleford got the letter on Wednesday after his nephew found it in a box belonging to Shackleford's sister.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Three Day Weekend!!!!

We have Monday off for Memorial Day at work!!!! William "graduated" from his speech therapy on Tuesday, so he has only three more therapy's to go before he is done, and by that time, both of the kids will be starting to go to preschool. Life is pretty cherry at the moment.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


HOLY SHIT!!!!!! (First link--scroll down--push play)

I love the internet so GDed much! (Second link--scroll down--push play)

Monday, May 22, 2006

You Know Your Getting Old When....

You can spend three hours on this website:


Sunday, May 14, 2006

Difey's Day

Angi is still in bed, it's about 2:40 p.m.. I got her:

5 cards
40 Reese Cups
12 frosted doughnuts with sugar gummy worms on top of them
and a sewing thingy that I will get for her when I get our tax return. A bigger "hoop", for her sewing machine, the biggest one available for her type of machine.

So far, I have taken care of the kids all day long, and I only got a half more day to go. When she gets up, I hope she likes what I got her.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Chh, Chh, Choo, Choo

Well, we went to Decatur, Indiana yesterday, and went to a place called Back 40 Junction Restaurant. It is awesome. It's a buffet place, and the food is un-frickin-believable! It is set up like a railroad station kind of, with a couple of rail cars, and an engine, actual real life ones. It took about 45 minutes or so to get there, and the kids loved it! William is ALL about trains. He points and says: CHOO CHOO!!!!!! CAAAAAR!! BEEP BEEP!! Angelina had a great time also! The food was LORD. We did not do anything today, because Angi had a headache.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Stink, Stank, Stunk

Well, we did not make to the zoo, because bubbarooney got sick. At the same exact time last night, at different parts of the house, me and Ang smelled something like cat shit, in that area. For instance, I was in the computer room, and I smelled something, and I looked everywhere for it, what I thought was cat shit. In the bedroom, Angi was doing the same thing. I gave up, and said well, I will find it tomorrow. Angi did the same thing. I only found out that she did it also when I went to bed, and I asked her if she smelled anything, and she told me what she did, and I told her what I did, and that was REALLY weird we both thought. I mean, imagine, BOTH of us doing the same thing, at the same time, (I mean looking for, and smelling what, we thought was cat shit).

Well, the next morning, Angi woke me up out of bed, saying she needed help. She found the problem. Bubby Ralph Buicked EVERYWHERE last night, all of his dinner, his baa baa, EVERYTHING....EVERYWHERE. Big chunks of mac and cheese, curdled up this, and chewed up that. Amazingly, he did not wake us up with crying or anything. Angi went to get the kiddos out of bed in the morning, at the usual time, with the usual routine. He just barfed everywhere, and fell asleep. She had to take his sheets, pillow, teddy, to the washer, about five cycles covered it. His room STILL smells like barf. She lysoled his crib, sprayed the crap out of his room with odor neutralizer, left his window open, and man, he upchucked his chuckup EVERYWHERE, AND LOTS OF IT.

So, we stayed home.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Big Bang Baby

Well, I am off this week, because the plant is shut down to retool for the GMT 900, our new "got to have" pickup truck. We got two weeks off in Feb. for the same thing, and we will have one week off in November for the same thing also. GM is pouring BIIIIG money into Fort Wayne Assembly, and that's good for my wife, kids, and me that's for sure!! They are adding a plant extension also, and a completely new building directly across the street from our plant. That is in addition to all the stuff their doing inside the plant, which is why we are down, with new machines, new lines, new stuff of all kinds. I think GM is putting in 400 million or something.

A second shift guy was killed last week. He was going to work, and pulling into one of the plant entrances, (we have a bunch), and I guess he did not see oncoming traffic, and a big semi plowed right into him, or maybe it was the other way around. They closed half of the road down, there was cops, ambulances, firetrucks EVERYWHERE. I guess Angi saw it on the news. Security was directing traffic in the plant parking lots, (we have a few of those too). MAN IT WAS A MESS. I think the semi driver was hurt pretty bad too, and the guy's van (who was killed) was totally demolished, I mean, like it exploded. I knew the guy, but I wasn't friends with him or anything, I just knew his face. He was a skilled trades guy.

Life is freaking awesome right now. Me Ang, and the kiddos went out today, our first outing in several months. We went to Smokey Bones (OH MY GOD!), had some awesome freaking BBQ, and they have 12 different tv's and, you can tune them in with a speaker thingy at the tables, so I tuned in a baseball game also. Good times! Then we went to one the parks in the area, there is one right behind the highschool in our district that is right down the road from where we live. GM (Fort Wayne Assembly) paid to have it built, and it is FREAKING HUGE!!!!!! It has soccer fields, baseball fields, basketball courts, tennis courts, you get the idea. They got a big area for toddlers also. Perfect for our kiddos. They swung on the swings, played on a giant train, that has a big slide, and played in a car, they had a blast!!!!


Children's Zoo!!!!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

CIA boss Goss is cooked

CIA boss Goss is cooked

Tied to contractor's poker parties -
hints of bribes & women


WASHINGTON - CIA Director Porter Goss abruptly resigned yesterday amid allegations that he and a top aide may have attended Watergate poker parties where bribes and prostitutes were provided to a corrupt congressman.

Kyle (Dusty) Foggo, the No. 3 official at the CIA, could soon be indicted in a widening FBI investigation of the parties thrown by defense contractor Brent Wilkes, named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the bribery conviction of former Rep. Randall (Duke) Cunningham, law enforcement sources said.

A CIA spokeswoman said Foggo went to the lavish weekly hospitality-suite parties at the Watergate and Westin Grand hotels but "just for poker."

Intelligence and law enforcement sources said solid evidence had yet to emerge that Goss also went to the parties, but Goss and Foggo share a fondness for poker and expensive cigars, and the FBI investigation was continuing.

Larry Johnson, a former CIA operative and a Bush administration critic, said Goss "had a relationship with Dusty and with Brent Wilkes that's now coming under greater scrutiny."

Johnson vouched for the integrity of Foggo and Goss but said, "Dusty was a big poker player, and it's my understanding that Porter Goss was also there \[at Wilkes' parties\] for poker. It's going to be guilt by association."

"It's all about the Duke Cunningham scandal," a senior law enforcement official told the Daily News in reference to Goss' resignation. Duke, a California Republican, was sentenced to more than eight years in prison after pleading guilty in November to taking $2.4 million in homes, yachts and other bribes in exchange for steering government contracts.

Goss' inability to handle the allegations swirling around Foggo prompted John Negroponte, the director of National Intelligence, who oversees all of the nation's spy agencies, to press for the CIA chief's ouster, the senior official said. The official said Goss is not an FBI target but "there is an impending indictment" of Foggo for steering defense contracts to his poker buddies.

One subject of the FBI investigation is a $3 million CIA contract that went to Wilkes to supply bottled water and other goods to CIA operatives in Iraq and Afghanistan, sources said.

In a hastily arranged Oval Office announcement that stunned official Washington, neither President Bush nor Goss offered a substantive reason for why the head of the spy agency was leaving after only a year on the job.

"He has led ably" in an era of CIA transition, Bush said with Goss seated at his side. "He has a five-year plan to increase the analysts and operatives."

Goss said the trust Bush placed in him "is something I could never have imagined." "I believe the agency is on a very even keel, sailing well," he said.

The official Bush administration spin that emerged later was that Goss lost out in a turf battle with Negroponte, but Goss' tenure was marked by the resignations of several veteran operatives who viewed him as an amateur out of his depth.

White House officials said Bush would announce early next week his choice to succeed Goss. Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, Negroponte's top deputy, heads the list of potential replacements, with White House counterterror chief Fran Townsend also on the short list.

Negroponte "apparently had no confidence" in Goss, and Bush's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board was also "very alarmed by problems at the CIA," said a congressional source involved in oversight of U.S. spy agencies.

"Supposedly the \[Cunningham\] scandal was the last straw," the source said. "This administration may be on the verge of a major scandal."

Problems at spy agency

Here are some other scandals in the CIA's recent history:

A human-rights furor erupted in 2005 with revelations that the CIA had set up secret prisons in Eastern European countries to interrogate terror suspects.

CIA Director George Tenet took blame for the since-debunked claim in President Bush's 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq had purchased enriched uranium from Africa — a major part of his case for why the U.S. should go to war. Heavily criticized over questionable intelligence on the Iraq war and terrorism in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Tenet resigned in 2004.

Former CIA Director John Deutch's security clearance was suspended in 1999 because he improperly kept classified material on a home computer vulnerable to Internet hackers.

A State Department official revealed in 1994 that the CIA covered up what it knew about the role of a Guatemalan colonel, a paid informer, in the slaying of rebel leader Efrain Bamaca, who was married to an American citizen.

CIA agent Aldrich Ames spied for the KGB for nine years, until his arrest in 1994, giving the Soviets the names of every undercover agent the CIA had in Moscow, leading to the deaths of at least nine agents.

The agency was implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal, the Reagan-era scheme to secretly fund Nicaraguan rebels by illegally selling arms to Tehran.

Originally published on May 6, 2006

Confident Democrats Lay Out Agenda

Confident Democrats Lay Out Agenda
Party Plans Probes Of Administration If It Wins the House

By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 7, 2006; A01

Democratic leaders, increasingly confident they will seize control of the House in November, are laying plans for a legislative blitz during their first week in power that would raise the minimum wage, roll back parts of the Republican prescription drug law, implement homeland security measures and reinstate lapsed budget deficit controls.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said in an interview last week that a Democratic House would launch a series of investigations of the Bush administration, beginning with the White House's first-term energy task force and probably including the use of intelligence in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. Pelosi denied Republican allegations that a Democratic House would move quickly to impeach President Bush. But, she said of the planned investigations, "You never know where it leads to."

In recent days, Democratic confidence has been buoyed by a series of polls indicating that not only is Bush growing increasingly unpopular, so are Republicans in Congress. An Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Friday found that 33 percent of the public approves of Bush's job performance, the lowest rating of his presidency. And only 25 percent approves of the job Congress is doing, a figure comparable to congressional approval ratings before the 1994 elections that swept Republicans to power.

The AP-Ipsos poll found that 51 percent of Americans say they want Democrats rather than Republicans to control Congress. Only 34 percent favor Republican control.

"We have to be ready to win," Pelosi said, "and we have to tell [voters] what we will do when we win."

Republicans say Democratic leaders run the risk of looking overconfident -- if not foolish -- in predicting they will win the 15 net seats necessary to take the House.

"If they fall short [of control], she's going to be severely damaged," Carl Forti, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said of Pelosi.

But Democratic planning parallels similar efforts 12 years ago, when GOP leaders were plotting a return to control after 42 years. By May 1994, Republicans had the outlines of a legislative agenda that would become their "Contract With America," said Richard K. Armey, who was the chairman of the House Republican Conference at that time.

Republicans then needed to pick up 40 seats, something most analysts considered virtually impossible six months before the election.

Democrats need to pick up 15, a task that many analysts still believe is a long shot. Democratic leaders do not.

"We are more and more confident that we are going to have the responsibility of leading the House, so we have to prepare," said House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (Md.).

Despite waves of redistricting that have solidified the positions of incumbents from both parties, Pelosi said 50 Republican seats are in play, while fewer than 10 Democratic seats face strong challenges. That figure of GOP seats is disputed by independent analysts, but even the most cautious estimates put more than 15 Republican seats in jeopardy.

Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report, said his most expansive estimate classifies 52 seats as "unsafe," 40 of them Republican, 12 of them Democratic. But, he said, only a tidal wave would dislodge the incumbent party from many of those seats, and more realistically, 30 Republican seats and five Democratic districts are vulnerable.

To seize control in 1994, Armey said, Republicans needed three key ingredients: scandal, which was provided by House members' abuse of the House bank and postal system; a policy fiasco, provided by the Clinton administration's failed national health-care plan; and a coherent plan of action, which came with the "Contract With America."

This year, the House is engulfed in bribery and influence-peddling scandals that have forced the resignation of former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), sent former representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.) to jail, and yielded guilty pleas from two former DeLay aides and former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

But those scandals are also linked to a Democrat, Rep. William J. Jefferson (La.), leading some Republicans to conclude they have been inoculated.

The war in Iraq has provided a policy debacle at least on par with the health-care issue, Armey said. But Democrats cannot offer policy alternatives because, he said, Americans remain leery of their prescriptions for an activist government and higher taxes.

To counter that perception, House Democrats have formulated a plan of action for their first week in control. Their leaders said a Democratic House would quickly vote to raise the minimum wage for the first time since 1997. It would roll back a provision in the Republicans' Medicare prescription drug benefit that prohibits the Department of Health and Human Services from negotiating prices for drugs offered under the program.

It would vote to fully implement the recommendations of the bipartisan panel convened to shore up homeland security after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Democratic leaders said.

And it would reinstate lapsed rules that say any tax cuts or spending increases have to be offset by spending cuts or tax increases to prevent the federal deficit from growing.

Armey dismissed the substance of the Democratic proposals as demagoguery but said that the politics "really, frankly, are not too bad."

Pelosi also vowed "to use the power to investigate" the administration on multiple fronts, starting with the task force convened in secret by Vice President Cheney to devise the administration's energy policy. The administration has successfully fought lawsuits since 2001 that sought to reveal the names of energy company executives tapped to advise the task force.

"Certainly the conduct of the war" in Iraq would be the subject of hearings, if not a full-fledged House investigation, Pelosi said. Another subject for investigation could be the use of intelligence on Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction to make the case for the 2003 invasion.

Hoyer added that he would like to see investigations into the extent of domestic wiretapping by the National Security Agency, and the billions of dollars wasted by contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Campaign chiefs for Republican Senate and House candidates have already begun using the threat of such investigations to raise money and rile core Republican voters. A recent mailing by Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.), chairwoman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, warned that Democrats "will call for endless congressional investigations and possibly call for the impeachment of President Bush!"

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Counting Up What Indians Are Owed

Counting Up What Indians Are Owed

Associated Press Writer

May 6, 2006, 2:16 PM EDT

LENEXA, Kan. -- Seventy feet beneath the prairie, the government is filling limestone caverns -- protected by guards and a bomb-sniffing dog -- with truckloads of American Indians' financial and cultural records.

What is ground zero for an accounting that will take seven years and cost $335 million owes its existence to a bitter class-action lawsuit brought against the Interior Department a decade ago. Still, it's only a short version of the historical accounting that Indians demanded but no longer want, because they do not think it can be done properly.

The Indians say the government mismanaged a trust in their names for 120 years and now owes them tens of billions of dollars.

The dispute dates to 1887, when Congress made the Interior Department the trustee for 145 million acres of Indian lands. Indians were supposed to benefit, but the government gave most of the land to white settlers.

Today, the department manages 10 million acres of trust land for individual Indians and 46 million acres for tribes. In 1996, the Indians sued to reconcile their historical accounts. The Indians, and Congress, demanded an audit. The Indians may be owed a century's worth of grazing rents, oil and gas royalties and timber sales from the land, plus interest.

Both the Indians and the Interior Department agree $13 billion was collected between 1909 and 2001.

The Indians had claimed the unpaid interest could be more than $150 billion, but have offered to drop the whole thing if the government coughs up $27.5 billion. They would spread the money among individual Indian accountholders, about one-fifth of the 2.5 million Indians now living in the U.S., mainly in the West.

No way, the Bush administration replied, saying the government all along has forwarded most of the rents and royalties to tribes and individual Indians.

"It could be just $30 million that's owed to the Indians," said Ross Swimmer, the department's special trustee for Indians. He also is a member of Oklahoma's Cherokee Nation.

During a tour of the Kansas cave, Swimmer and other department officials were eager to show that many more Indian records exist than people realize. They also wanted to demonstrate their ability to check the accuracy of financial transactions with Indians.

"They're finally going to get their accounting," Swimmer said. "For once we've gotten something right for the Indians."

In an irony befitting an "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" legal war, the government is relying on the Indian-demanded accounting -- actually, it's a statistical sampling -- to come up with figures that Indians claim low-ball what they are owed.

"It's a number in the m's, not the b's," said Fritz Scheuren, who oversees the department's sampling. Scheuren was president of the American Statistical Association last year.

The Indians who sued say now that too many records have been destroyed to come up with an accurate figure. Before 1990, the Treasury Department routinely destroyed the Indian trust's canceled checks, and court documents attest to numerous destroyed records.

"The documents that the government has preserved are a fraction of those that have been lost and destroyed," said Dennis Gingold, a lawyer for the Indians. "Massive hard copy and electronic destruction ... make the accounting legally and factually impossible."

The Indians' biggest ally is U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, a former Reagan administration official whose strongly worded rulings condemn the Interior Department.

After nine years presiding over the case, Lamberth concluded last July that the agency is a "pathetic outpost" that has bungled its fiduciary duty.

"For those harboring hope that the stories of murder, dispossession, forced marches, assimilationist policy programs, and other incidents of cultural genocide against the Indians are merely the echoes of a horrible, bigoted government-past that has been sanitized by the good deeds of more recent history, this case serves as an appalling reminder of the evils that result when large numbers of the politically powerless are placed at the mercy of institutions engendered and controlled by a politically powerful few," the judge wrote.

Not surprisingly, the department wants Lamberth removed from the case and a different judge assigned.

* __

Down the rabbit hole, tractor trailers disappear into an obscure grassy knoll just off the Prairie Star Parkway. The cave, in an industrial park a half hour southwest of Kansas City, offers few indications it houses a semi-secretive government facility.

After several minutes of driving through the dark, a faint dankness and dust fill the nostrils. Pocked walls climb into shadow. Painters have brightened them, like gardeners painting red roses white.

In dimly lit parking spaces, trucks disgorge box after box of documents to be catalogued, computerized and stashed away.

Two years and $120 million into the accounting, the archive has amassed 140,000 boxes with 300 million pages of old leases, bills, ledgers, account statements, school records, maps, letters and black-and-white photographs.

In a space the size of Kansas City's 79,451-seat Arrowhead Stadium, boxes extend close to the ceiling and down aisles so long they fade into the caverns -- reminiscent of the fate met by Indiana Jones' recovered ark.

"People come in and ask, 'Where is the Lost Ark?'" said Jeffrey Zippin, deputy director of the Interior Department's Office of Historical Trust Accounting.

The shelves are coated with an electrostatically charged powder to resist corrosion or chemical action. The air in the painted cavern walls is kept at 60 degrees and 40 percent humidity. High-efficiency air filters catch 99 percent of all microscopic particles.

The facility is leased for $900,000 a month from Minneapolis-based Meritex Enterprises Inc. Its security and climate controls are matched only by the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and an annex in College Park, Md.

The cavern teems with a small army of federal contractors -- five accounting firms and 15 other businesses -- assisting about a dozen Interior and National Archives employees. Thirty students at Haskell Indian Nations University, in nearby Lawrence, use the documents for training.

It is closed to all but federal workers, contractors, Indian tribal representatives and researchers; privacy laws protect the names of living accountholders.

The boxes come from about 100 of the department's Bureau of Indian Affairs offices and from National Archives' record centers. At a nondescript warehouse nearby, 100 workers sort through the boxes and log their contents into computers.

The records are an eclectic mix: 1943 photographs of Navajo women cooking; a handwritten appeal from a Great Plains Indian for compensation because some of his cattle died; and a 16-page list of Sioux Indians killed and wounded -- Black Moon, Sore Eyes Woman and Afraid of Left Hand, among them -- on Dec. 29, 1890 at Wounded Knee, S.D.

Some boxes are tattered, faded or water-damaged. A few were decontaminated because of animal droppings.

* __

Concerns about the how the trust accounts are managed are almost as old as the trust itself.

In 1915, the Joint Commission of Congress on Indian Funds warned of "fraud, corruption and institutional incompetence almost beyond the possibility of comprehension." In 1928, the Interior Department found Indian trust data unreliable and almost useless. Dozens of other scathing reports followed.

Finally, in 1994, Congress demanded that the department fulfill an obligation to account for money received and disbursed. A year later when account statements still had not been reconciled, Elouise Cobell of the Blackfeet Indian tribe in Montana joined with the Boulder, Colo.-based Native American Rights Fund and others in suing.

"Fractionalization" of accounts is a major obstacle in managing the trust. As ownership of the 160-acre and smaller land parcels transferred from generation to generation, proceeds from the trust accounts had to be divided among more and more descendants. Department officials say 90 percent of the transactions are for less than $100.

"In every category it has cost us more to find the errors than the total amount of the errors we found," said departing Interior Secretary Gale Norton. "When you consider that we have millions of transactions under $1, you're spending $3,500 to find out if we handled $1 correctly."

Norton's plan for the accounting includes checking half the 57 million transactions and one-quarter of the $5 billion at stake between 1985 and 2000.

"We don't have every single record of every single transaction that has occurred since the 1800s. We certainly do have enough records to do a complete accounting," she said.

Accountants are examining nearly all financial transactions over $100,000 in the 1985-2000 window. That represents $276 million -- or about 5 percent of the money at stake from those years. Also being checked is nearly every payment an Indian tribe made to its members or resulted from a suit or settlements. They total $784 million -- or about 16 percent of the transactions.

An additional 4 percent of the money -- 19 million transactions, most for less than $1 -- is considered interest. That represents about $177 million. All those transactions are checked, too.

For the other half of the transactions -- three-quarters of the $5 billion at stake -- the department uses statistical sampling to the check the accuracy. It's a method the Indians and Lamberth rejected, but a federal appeals court approved for use as a tool. The courts must sign off on any final accounting.

* __

After 10 years of battling in court, no one knows how much was collected or paid out to the Indians.

"The previous administration as well as ourselves tried in good faith to tackle this problem. It was a much larger undertaking than anyone imagined," Norton said. Early in her tenure, Norton half-joked about how she divided her time. "Indian trust, Indian trust and Indian trust," she told The Associated Press.

Geoffrey Rempel, an accountant working for the Indian plaintiffs, said the evidence is undisputed that trust records were destroyed over the past century, so there is no way officials can claim to have enough of them for a proper accounting.

"All they're doing is matching bad documents to bad documents, showing you what they want you to see," he said. "People would be thrown in jail if they audited banks like this. This is completely unacceptable -- unless it's for the Indians."

Most people agree the only acceptable solution will come from Congress.

Senate Indian Affairs Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., and House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Calif., oversaw a recent hearing to find the quickest and fairest way to end the dispute.

Experts urged them to study the legal arguments -- then arbitrarily pick a settlement figure.

Stuart Eizenstat, a former deputy Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration, believes Congress should create a settlement commission to process claims, similar to the reparations made after World War II.

"It would be a disaster to go back to court. It would just resign the Indians to another decade of fruitless litigation," he told the AP. "This cries out for an administrative, rough justice solution."

Eizenstat negotiated the historic agreement with Switzerland's two largest banks to pay Holocaust survivors $1.25 billion. He said Congress should pick a figure that errs on the side of overpaying to handle both accounting claims and anticipated claims from Indians challenging how the government actually managed the lands.

"You presume that if the records weren't there, it's because of mismanagement," he said. "If they themselves as trustees mishandled records, then they have to handle the burden."

Even Swimmer, who wants Congress to give the department some "clear direction on its responsibilities," agrees with the concept of a big, somewhat arbitrary payout.

"Just pick a number," he told the AP. "It's reparations, not repayment."

* __

On the Net:

Interior Department:

Indian plaintiffs:

Senate Indian Affairs Committee:
Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A legacy of love

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I'm A Saaaaaaaaad Panda.........

My wife Angi had surgery on her leg last Tuesday (APRIL 25th), and had a HUGE vericos (spelling?) vein removed. She was out of it for about three days, I ran her medicine, food, and her tea. (She lives on Iced tea)..... I took Tuesday through Friday off (last week), and took care of her and the kids. She is such a awesome mommy, wife, and person. I love her more than I EVER HAVE. I realized how HARD she works on the kids, the house, and sometimes, (If I'm a really good boy), on ME.


She is much, much better now, and the kids are happy to see their mi-mee, and the house is clean, the kids are clean, and she has shown me how HARD it is to be the mommy, and it whooped my ass hard!! The house was a wreck, and the kids were filthy, but very happy, and fed, and alive, so I think that counts as a success....I think..... anyways, I made it those three days, and she was able to watch them a little bit over the weekend!


The "doctor" totally effed up her leg. He did NOT get all of the vein, there is like 8 inches of vericosed vein in there, the part at the bottom at her foot, where it all started to begin with, I guess (when she says) she was around 18 years old. So, if he left that in there, won't it get like it did, and grow all the way up to her (bleep bleep) again??? You know what I mean? If there is a some left (it ran all the way from her foot to her (bleep bleep), won't it get real bad and grow AGAIN?????? So, guess what, she has to have surgury AGAIN!!!!!!!!

(poor baby) : (


One of her stiche areas (she has three or four, where they cut in different places on her leg to remove the vein) is infected, and it is not good. Not good at all. Really though.

Medicare Will Go Broke By 2018

Medicare Will Go Broke By 2018, Trustees Report

By Amy Goldstein

Washington Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, May 2, 2006; Page A03

The financial troubles daunting the Medicare system have deepened during the past year, according to a government forecast that says the federal fund that pays for hospital care for older Americans will become unable to cover all its bills a dozen years from now.

The annual report, issued yesterday by the trustees who monitor the fiscal health of the Medicare and Social Security programs, said the trust fund for the health insurance system for the elderly will run out of money in 2018 -- two years sooner than predicted a year ago and 12 years sooner than had been anticipated when President Bush first took office.

The problem, the report says, has accelerated largely because hospital costs last year were greater than expected.

The forecast also said that Social Security's financial condition has weakened, although its problems are not as great or urgent. It said the retirement system will have enough cash to pay the benefits it owes retirees, disabled workers and workers' survivors until 2040 -- one year less than expected in the 2005 forecast.

In releasing the report, the trustees -- including three of Bush's Cabinet secretaries -- slightly altered the message accompanying the forecast the past few years, when the administration sought to use the predictions as leverage to persuade a reluctant Congress to embrace the president's goal of letting Americans divert some of their payroll taxes into personal retirement accounts. That emphasis prompted Democrats and other critics to chastise the administration for dwelling on Social Security while Medicare's problems were more acute.

Yesterday, the president's aides -- and Bush himself -- drew attention equally to the frailty of the two largest benefits programs that form the twin pillars of the government's assistance to the elderly. The solution, they said, is for Congress to approve changes Bush already has proposed.

Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, one of the trustees, said the programs "form the basis of a looming fiscal crisis for our nation as the baby-boom generation moves into retirement."

"The systems are going broke," Bush said in a health-care speech earlier in the day. "And now is the time to do something about it."

Administration officials portrayed the report as containing some bright news, because spending on the new Medicare prescription drug benefits -- paid for from general revenue, not the same trust fund as covers hospital bills -- appears less than expected. Several of Bush's aides said costs will be lower because drug companies are charging less than predicted for medicine. However, two independent trustees had a different explanation: Fewer Medicare patients are signing up for the drug benefits than anticipated last year.

Administration officials did not emphasize yesterday the idea of private retirement accounts, a plan that is relatively inert on Capitol Hill. Instead, they focused on proposals Bush made early this year -- to create a federal commission on the plight of entitlement programs and to slow Medicare spending by $36 billion during the next five years. Neither has drawn much enthusiasm among lawmakers.

And yesterday's report -- released a month after its due date -- did not produce any surge of momentum. The chairman and the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee are griping that the White House has diminished the role of independent experts in preparing the trustees' report, by failing to appoint replacements for the public trustees, economists Thomas R. Saving and John L. Palmer, when their terms expired a year ago.

Instead, the White House renominated them last November and, after lawmakers complained that they preferred to rotate outside trustees, installed them without Senate confirmation as "recess appointments" while Congress took Easter vacation. Saving and Palmer said yesterday they had served as unpaid consultants in preparing the report until they were reappointed.

White House spokesman Ken Lisiaus said that Saving and Palmer were reappointed because they "are true experts in economics" and that the position of public trustee, created in 1984, is too recent "to establish any sort of long-held precedent" that they must serve only one term.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

'Mission Accomplished' Anniversary

'Mission Accomplished' Anniversary


President Declared End To Major Combat Operations In Iraq 3 Years Ago

BAGHDAD, May 1, 2006

(AP) Three years ago on Monday, aboard the Everett-based USS Abraham Lincoln, "The tyrant has fallen and Iraq is free," President Bush declared, standing underneath a banner proclaiming: "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED."

Those two words have lingered uneasily since. A look at Iraq today shows that despite progress toward democracy, billions spent on reconstruction and the best efforts of its own people and an international coalition, the battle for Iraq's future is far from over.

The building boom in the small city of Kut in southeastern Iraq started soon after Saddam Hussein's ouster in spring 2003, and lasted through his capture and into 2004. Jobs blossomed as empty lots filled with new apartment buildings and homes.

Then the construction dried up. Although Kut was relatively peaceful, private investors became nervous as the insurgency took hold. Now, says construction worker Mohammed Nasser Atwan, "out of 30 days in a month, there are 10 days of work" — not enough to feed his family of eight and pay the rent. "My kids have had to leave school to work."

It is even tougher for the estimated 5,700 Shiites who fled this spring to Kut, leaving behind sectarian violence in Baghdad, Diyala and Kirkuk. Some live in donated tents, others in tin shacks on the edge of town.

Supporters of a radical Shiite cleric roam the streets. Weeds choke the Tigris River, disrupting irrigation because the Water Resources Ministry is paralyzed.

"We're refugees in our country," said a 52-year-old man, a Shiite Muslim who fled from a Sunni area near Baghdad. He and his older son sometimes drive back to Baghdad, looking for work. He is too scared to give his name.

"We've been waiting for years, asking when true freedom will come," he said.


Lawyer Hussein Ali says freedom has already arrived. From the holy city of Najaf in the south, a Shiite stronghold now relatively free of violence, the 39-year-old lawyer sees long strides that his country has made in three years.

Iraqis have twice voted for a national government and have passed a new constitution. Recently, political leaders in Baghdad broke a logjam, agreeing on a new prime minister who many hope will forge a united government and stabilize Iraq.

Ali said it's time for U.S. troops to leave. Hussein Abdul-Zahra, a 35-year-old seminary student, agreed.

Iraq now has "very good achievements" from which it can move ahead without "regional and foreign interference," a reference to the United States and Iran, Abdul-Zahra said.

The optimism in Najaf reflects the blossoming of Shiite political and religious hopes. The Shiites were brutally suppressed by Saddam, a Sunni.

But Shiite power has spawned a bitter backlash from Sunnis, who lost power and prestige when Saddam fell. Shiite militias, fighting in response, are accused of operating death squads.

The violence has sowed fear even in stable Najaf.

Each day as she waits at a bus stop in her veil and black robe, Marwa Mahdi Karim worries about suicide attackers. Heading to her computer college, even as she celebrates Iraq's progress, the 21-year-old student looks nervously around.

"We did not expect to reach such a stage of fear — three years after the fall of Saddam," she said.


Soon after Mr. Bush landed on the aircraft carrier on May 1, 2003, for his "mission accomplished" speech, the U.S. military was struggling to keep control in Iraq. The Bush administration dissolved the Iraqi army, but found it had too few coalition troops to secure a country with a history of violence.

Saddam's capture in December 2003 provided a burst of optimism. But a brutal attack on U.S. contract workers, burned in Fallujah in spring 2004, led to a U.S. siege of that city. It became clear the insurgency would be tough to defeat.

The rest of 2004 and much of 2005 saw violence grow even as democratic institutions were being built. The U.S. handed over sovereignty, Iraq held its first free election, a new constitution was approved and then, last December, a permanent parliament was elected.

Schools were built, power stations repaired, dams improved.

But Iraq's vital oil industry, which has one of the world's largest pool of reserves, continues to struggle. Production fell to about 2 million barrels a day last year, down from 3.5 million a day in 1990.

Power blackouts remain a constant frustration. Only 19 percent of Iraqis today have working sewer connections, down from 24 percent before the war, according to U.S. government figures.

A recent U.S. report rated 11 of Iraq's 18 provinces as mostly stable, six as "serious" and one, Anbar, which includes Fallujah, was "critical."

Insurgents continue their intimidation, recently murdered the sister of the Sunni vice president.

The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, said last week that the U.S. might be able to withdraw some troops later this year. But at the same time, the army's chief of staff in Washington, Gen. Peter Schoomaker, warned that "this is going to take time."


In the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah in the north, it is different.

There, apartment towers and villas sprout up. Workers come from around Iraq come for jobs, many sleeping at construction sites.

Inflation is high and corruption suspected. But the people here — safe in their pocket of security — think themselves lucky.

Saman Karim does not even feel as if he lives in Iraq. The 25-year-old physics student used to believe the war would open a new chapter — "Like Bush said ... a model of democracy in the Middle East."

Now he says the country has become worse. "It's on the verge of civil war," he said.

Saleh Ayoub, 59, sells cheap clothes and had hoped for a commercial boom across Iraq. He dreamed of opening a big store in Baghdad once Saddam fell.

But in the capital, tension grows. Residents hastily throw up roadblocks of wrecked cars and mounds of dirt to keep out attackers. A once-mixed Shiite-Sunni neighborhood is now Sunni only, its Shiite-owned homes abandoned.

"I've been to Baghdad once since the regime's fall," Ayoub said. "And I decided not to go back again."

©MMVI, The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed