Everything is going down the toilet in one swift flush...
I had a great entry all set and then the computer ate it. Maybe tomorrow.
(Links can be found at the Center for American Progress.)
HOMELAND SECURITY ? ALL THE NEWS THAT'S UNFIT TO PRINT: Every year since 1985 the State Department has published an annual report on international terrorism, described as "the definitive report on the incidence of terrorism around the world." There will be no such report this year. The State Department has stopped publication of the 2004 report "after the government's top terrorism center concluded that there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985." According to both current and former officials, "Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's office ordered 'Patterns of Global Terrorism' eliminated several weeks ago because the 2004 statistics raised disturbing questions about the Bush administration's frequent claims of progress in the war against terrorism." The State Department now says terrorism numbers will be provided by the new National Counterterrorism Center, but don't hold your breath: Asked when that report would be released, spokesman Richard Boucher admitted, "Don't have a date yet. They've agreed to do it; don't have a date yet?. I don't know when."
NORTH KOREA ? BALL IN U.S. COURT: North Korea has shut down its nuclear reactor and plans to remove the fuel to make bombs and "increase our deterrent" against a possible U.S. attack, an official said yesterday. The CIA has estimated the country possesses from two to eight nuclear weapons; reprocessing this reactor fuel could give it an additional six. "The ball is in the U.S. court," said North Korean Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Han Songryol. "We asked the United States to change its hostile policy." As to what America will do with the ball, one less than ideal development would be the confirmation of U.N. ambassador nominee John Bolton. Bolton insulted North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and generally mishandled talks with North Korea so badly as undersecretary of state that he had to be recalled from talks by the Bush administration. He is known in Pyongyang as a "human scum and bloodsucker," as well as the "most undesirable person" that could possibly be named U.N. envoy.
HOMELAND SECURITY ? BUT AT LEAST THEY'LL LOOK GOOD: For the second time in three years, the Transportation Security Administration will be getting new uniforms, "not because the old ones wore out [but rather] as part of its evolving identity." The apparel reform comes as the agency is floating a "plan to possibly cut 400 screeners at Atlanta's busy airport ? just before the busy summer travel season," even though "a much-needed new system to screen passenger records and tag suspicious travelers isn't ready yet." The uniforms are not the only things at TSA being replaced; the agency "is preparing to hire its fourth director in three years." Uniforms aside, two upcoming government reports ? one from the Government Accountability Office and the other from the Homeland Security Department's inspector general ? are expected to state that "the quality of screening at U.S. airports is no better now than before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks."
PATIENTS' RIGHTS ? THE FIGHT TO PROTECT PLAN B: The continued struggle to combat pharmacists seeking to impose their moral beliefs on customers has heated up. There are now "at least 23 states, legislators and other elected officials [who] have passed laws or are considering measures" pertaining to a pharmacy's obligation to fulfill prescriptions for the "morning after" pill, which has yet to be approved for over the counter sale by the Food and Drug Administration. In Illinois, Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) has "ordered pharmacies to fill prescriptions for women wanting the new 'morning after' pill," but the conservative leader of the state's Senate is encouraging pharmacists to disobey that order. The FDA could go a long way towards solving the impasse by making Plan B available for over the counter use, a move the agency has resisted for political reasons despite the near-unanimous recommendation of its own panel of medical experts.