Dems escalate fight over firings

first_imgSeveral lawmakers from both parties have said Gonzales’ conflicting accounts of the firings, along with concerns about how the Justice Department is fighting the War on Terrorism, have undermined their confidence in him. Democrats and some Republicans, such as Sen. John Sununu of New Hampshire and possible GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, have called for Gonzales’ resignation. President George W. Bush, meanwhile, has stood by Gonzales, a longtime friend from Texas. “I think the Justice Department has been working very hard to be fully responsive to the request, as the president asked them to do,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Tuesday. Officials said the House request included the full text of all documents that had been partially or completely blacked out in the Justice Department’s initial release of more than 3,000 pages last month, including some U.S. attorney evaluations. Justice officials said the request included an unredacted list ranking the performance and standing of each of the 93 U.S. attorneys. Government officials have previously confirmed that Chicago-based prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, one of the Justice Department’s premier U.S. attorneys, was ranked as “not distinguished.” In addition, the documents being sought include any correspondence with journalists about the firing. Democrats say statements by Gonzales and his lieutenants, three of whom have resigned in the aftermath of the dismissals, have raised questions over whether the ousters were politically motivated. The administration denies any wrongdoing. Gonzales’ former chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, told Leahy’s committee last month that the firings were a “benign rather than sinister story.” Meanwhile, Gonzales on Tuesday named Kevin J. O’Connor, U.S. attorney for Connecticut, his new chief of staff to replace Sampson, who had orchestrated the firings for the department and resigned last month.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WASHINGTON – Democrats subpoenaed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for more documents Tuesday, escalating their fight with the Bush administration over the firings of eight U.S. attorneys. The subpoena, issued a week before Gonzales was scheduled to testify before Congress about the dismissals, seeks hundreds of documents either withheld or heavily blacked out by his department. The subpoena sets a Monday deadline for Gonzales to produce the documents. “We have been patient in allowing the department to work through its concerns regarding the sensitive nature of some of these materials,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., wrote Gonzales in a letter accompanying the subpoena. “Unfortunately, the department has not indicated any meaningful willingness to find a way to meet our legitimate needs.” Conyers characterized the subpoena as a last resort after weeks of negotiations with Justice over documents and e-mails the committee wants in its pursuit of whether any of the firings were improper. Justice spokesman Brian Roehrkasse stopped short of saying the department would fight the subpoena. But he said legal concerns about violating privacy rights of people mentioned in the documents have kept Justice from releasing them. “Because there are individuals’ privacy interests implicated by publicly releasing this information, it is unfortunate that Congress would choose this option,” Roehrkasse said. “In light of these concerns, we will continue to work closely with congressional staff and we still hope and expect that we will be able to reach an accommodation with the Congress.” Conyers’ counterpart, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., asked Gonzales in a letter for documents on the firings that have been retained by the Justice Department. Such letters are sometimes preludes to a subpoena, which Leahy’s committee is expected to authorize this week. Leahy’s committee also asked Gonzales for documents on a prosecution in Wisconsin that was overturned by a federal appeals court for lack of evidence. The defendant, state worker Georgia Thompson, had been accused of bid-rigging by favoring a company with ties to Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle. Leahy and five other Democratic senators said they were concerned whether politics played a role in the case. Together, the developments indicated that Democrats would make life for Gonzales and the Bush administration no easier in the week leading up to his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 17. last_img read more

Arsenal must sign a top class striker and Welbeck could be a good option, says club legend

first_imgArsenal legend Frank McLintock has told Arsene Wenger he must sign another top class striker if Olivier Giroud is ruled out long-term.Wenger fears Giroud will be missing until the New Year with an ankle injury and, according to McLintock, there is no one in the current squad who can replace the Frenchman.Yaya Sanogo is the only other recognised striker, while Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski and Alexis Sanchez have been used in central roles before, but McLintock insists none of those players have the necessary qualities to fill in for Giroud.“He [Wenger] badly needs another top class striker,” said McLintock, speaking on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast.“Sanogo, he is quite sprightly and works very hard, but technically he is way behind being a player that can play for one of the teams in the top four.“When you look at Man City and one or two of the other clubs up there they are way ahead of us as far as centre forward positions [are concerned].“I know he has mentioned Podolski playing there and Walcott playing there and occasionally they can play there, but not if a player like Giroud is out for two or three months.“When you are running form the wide positions there is room and you can see everything in front of you but when you move to a centre forward role, with your back to goal against tight defences, I don’t think it works very often at all.“A guy who scores you 25 goals a season often wins you a championship, and I don’t think we have got that.”Arsenal have been linked with a move for Manchester United forward Danny Welbeck, and McLintock believes he would be a positive signing.“I think he would be a good addition,” he added.“He is still a young lad, he has had a lot of experience playing for Man United and he would give us a definite option, because last year Giroud was running himself into the ground.“There were some games where he was very tired and we had no one really to step into that position.”last_img read more

Road trip to Miller, Coors will determine Giants’ trade deadline strategy

first_imgMILWAUKEE — The San Francisco Giants have won seven of their last nine, moved to 5.5 games back in the National League Wildcard race and entered the All-Star break playing their best baseball of the season.Now comes the hard part.As the second half begins on Friday, the Giants will play 14 games over the next 13 days including seven on a six-day road trip that features stops at Miller Park and Coors Field.Even if he’s completely recovered from an elbow contusion suffered on Saturday against …last_img read more

Facing the music at Moshito

first_imgMembers of the Hout Bay Strings Project.Moshito works on behalf of musiciansto address issues such as piracy and thegrowth of a live performance circuit. (Image: The World Bank) Arts and Culture Director-General Themba Wakashe delivers the opening address at Moshito 2008, with Gerald Seligman of Womex (left) and Arnold Mabunda ofMoshito (middle). A performer from the Nokwe Creative Development Foundation entertainingvisitors in the Moshito exhibition area. (Images: Janine Erasmus)Janine ErasmusMoshito, South Africa’s premier music conference, celebrates its fifth anniversary in 2008. The conference opened on 10 September, with Arts and Culture Director-General Themba Wakashe and Moshito chair Arnold Mabunda expressing confidence that this year’s event will be the best yet. Moshito takes place in the cultural precinct of Newtown, Johannesburg.2008 saw Moshito entering into a new relationship with Womex, globally regarded as the premier platform for world music. Moshito is one of several partners, known as Womex offspring, in countries around the world who work with Womex to tailor a local event to the precise needs of a specific audience and market.In addition, the Moshito exhibition features a wide variety of private and public organisations from the South African music industry, from record companies to software to new technology. A listening booth allows up-and-coming artists, producers and songwriters the chance to play their demos for industry professionals. Finally, the live music component includes a number of concerts at venues around Newtown, featuring fresh South African talent.In 2008, audiences can look forward to international speakers such as Womex director Gerald Seligman from the US, CEO of the UK-based Association of Independent Music Alison Wenham, president of the Brazilian Association of Independent Music Roberto Carvalho, festival organiser Many Ansar from Mali, Rulu Arts Promoters director Charles Muyimba from Tanzania, concert producer Hans Hjorth from Sweden, and Rubber Records MD David Vodicka from Australia.Discussion topics range from more efficient organisation of festivals to new formats and trends in promoting, marketing and selling music, to compliance with and enforcement of intellectual property rights, to strategies for survival in the digital age.Addressing important issuesMoshito launched in 2003 as a vehicle to address a number of pressing issues in the South African music industry, among them increasing piracy, the development of music markets for South African music, particularly abroad, and the need to create proper social benefit and welfare structures for musicians.Its strategies include broadening the business intelligence of industry members, strengthening relevant business networks and creating opportunities and platforms for South African music at home and abroad. The organisation works with a number of South African music associations and unions to shape them into a cohesive group, and also collaborates closely with local and provincial government and the national Department of Arts and Culture (DAC).The DAC has identified the music industry as one of its priorities. “We want to ensure that the creative industries are developed way beyond the 21st century so that they can realise their potential of contributing substantially to the economy,” said Arts and Culture Director-General Themba Wakashe, delivering the opening address at Moshito 2008.Wakashe said that culture in general is a vital tool for social cohesion as it is a source of national pride, and is a key provider of jobs and income as well as an important contributor to the country’s economy that should not be overlooked.“Our involvement in Moshito is part of government’s broader plan to grow the local music industry,” he said. “South African music should become globally competitive, and for that we need capacity and a solid base of highly informed participants.”Overcoming challengesSpeaking at the opening of the event, Moshito chair and music industry stalwart Arnold Mabunda said that the challenges encountered in growing the local music industry are continually offset by progress and achievements.He named several Moshito milestones, starting with the expansion of the conference to include the music exhibition in 2004. The very next year saw Moshito exhibiting at the South African pavilion at Midem, the world’s largest music industry trade fair, held annually in Cannes. In 2006 two important local bodies came into being – the Association of Independent Record Companies, and South African Music Exports which represents exporters of local music.In 2007 the Southern African Development Community participated for the first time at Moshito, and the Composers’ Association of South Africa was formed, joining a number of other associations including the Creative Workers’ Union of South Africa and the Southern African Music Rights Association as members of Moshito.Mabunda added that the partnership with Womex has enabled Moshito to source more international speakers who share their experience and expertise with local practitioners, particularly in the digital arena. Moshito, he said, has become a recognised forum where issues are aired, thrashed out and resolved, connections are established, and South African music gets its chance to shine.“We have delegates coming from around the country and overseas and also quite a few from Africa. They all come from a broad section of areas of the music industry and Moshito gives a rare chance to meet face-to-face and find ways of working together.”An important economic sectorSouth Africa’s music industry, with other so-called creative industries, is South Africa’s fifth-largest economic sector and not only generates revenue, but creates job opportunities. The entire scope of the creative industries, according to the DAC, is worth about R7.4-billion ($920-million), and more than 100 000 people are employed within film, television and music.Minister of Arts and Culture Pallo Jordan said that the South African music industry has the potential to become a major foreign exchange earner and job creator, provided its potential is maximised and its products marketed aggressively at home and in the international music market.Speaking at the inaugural conference of the Creative Workers’ Union of South Africa in September 2007, Congress of South African Trade Unions General-Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said, “The core of the South African music industry employs approximately 12 000 people, of which the majority are artists and composers. The gross turnover of the core of the industry is approximately R900-million ($111-billion), with experts estimating that the entire industry is worth R2-billion ($248-million).” The turnover figure named does not include digital sales of music.Do you have queries or comments about this article? Email Janine Erasmus on [email protected] articlesSouth African music Useful linksMoshitoDepartment of Arts and CultureSouth African musicSouth African Music ExportsNational Organisation for Reproductive Rights in MusicSouthern African Music Rights OrganisationCreative Workers’ Union of South Africalast_img read more

Chiffon flower and feather fascinator set on head band, Great value for money!

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Basement-to-Living-Space Moisture Problems

first_imgScott Razzino has an all-too-familiar problem. The basement of his 1,100-sq.-ft. home in Atlanta is chronically damp. He’s installed a 65-pint dehumidifier, which must be emptied every day. Surely, he wonders in this Q&A post, there must be a better way to tackle the problem.Razzino reports that the house is about 26 years old and has a block foundation. He’s routed gutters away from the house and sealed air leaks in the walls with mortar and concrete sealant. The basement doesn’t have a sump pump.Short of installing French drains around the house, along with a sump pump, is there anything that can be done?The first step, says Robert Hronek, is to figure out the source of the moisture. He suggests taping foil to the wall in several spots and waiting to see whether any condensation appears.“If the water is trapped between the wall and foil, then it is coming through,” Hronek writes. “If there is condensation on the outside of the foil, then the moisture is from air leaks.” If moisture is migrating through the block, adds Robert Riversong, sealing the surface with two coats of UGL Drylok masonry sealer “will make a major difference.”The manufacturer claims that Drylok’s breathable film won’t trap moisture in masonry and will withstand 10 lb. of hydrostatic pressure, “greater than a wall of water 22 ft. high.”“Drylok is the only foundation waterproofer I will use, and it’s excellent for a capillary break between footings and foundation wall on new construction,” Riversong says. “I’ve used it to seal the interior of site-built CMU composting toilet chambers (over surface-bonding cement) as well as the exterior of exposed chimney block.”Where is the water coming from?“Concrete-block walls in a wet and humid climate are a recipe for disaster unless extreme attention to moisture management details are in place,” writes Armando Cobo. “Probably the only way to stop all that moisture from coming in the basement is to trench around the foundation, waterproof the walls, and install a drainage system; but I’m sure you’ll still need some dehumidification in your climate.”James Morgan, a builder in North Carolina, thinks Cobo is “unduly pessimistic.” He’s seen plenty of concrete-block foundations that have been “totally cured” of humidity issues. “The key most often is good stormwater management on the outside,” says Morgan.So what does good stormwater management look like?All gutter leaders should extend at least 10 ft. from the house in buried, nonperforated pipe, to a properly drained swale, Morgan says, along with adjusting the surface grade to slope away from the house, “with special attention to the uphill side if the surrounding grade is not level.“We have successfully dealt with many basement water ingress issues with these interventions alone,” he writes. “I have no experience with the Drylok product: I have heard good things about it, but I prefer to address the upslope issues first and have always found that to be effective.”“To me, proper drainage keeps the pressure off the foundation as well water out of the basement,” writes Hronek. “I think many times we [treat] the symptom and not the cause. Although you may be able to keep the moisture out of the basement with Drylok, you may miss a bigger concern.“Wet soil both pushes in on the foundation wall and does not provide adequate support to footings. I have been in many homes where the owner has tried to seal the block but in the long run ended up with bigger problems: foundation walls that need straightening and footings that have sunk.”And now a word about inept contractorsMorgan says he doesn’t generally recommend trenching around the outside of the foundation to install a perimeter drain and apply waterproofing. How come?“This operation is often performed incompetently with inadequately compacted and graded backfill, even by specialist contractors,” he says. “The drain performs as intended for ten years or so until it clogs with sediment, and then the problems miraculously reappear. By this time the original homeowner has moved on and the ‘specialist’ happily returns to repeat the same mistakes.”There may be some subpar drainage contractors out there, Riversong says, but that’s “no reason to avoid installing what every foundation should have: a perimeter drain. Just because there are carpenters and builders who build substandard houses is no reason to give up on having a house built.”While gutters, downspouts, and grading take care of surface water, a footing drain removes groundwater and relieves a rising water table, Riversong says.“With gravel backfill as a capillary break and drainage medium to relieve hydrostatic pressure and move subsurface water to the footing drain, and a perforated drain pipe protected by filter fabric and brought either to daylight or a sump pump, such a system should not fail,” he says.How should a perimeter drain be installed?No one seems to dispute that in new construction, every house deserves a correctly installed footing drain. Which leaves one detail open for debate: Should the perforated pipe that picks up water at the base of the foundation be located below the footing, on top of the footing, or at some level in between?“And, while it’s better to install the drain tile next to the footing, as long as the weir of the pipe (hole or water level) is below the top of the slab (which is often on top of the footings), the wall/footing junction is sealed with hydraulic cement, and the foundation wall waterproofed, this should work as intended,” Riversong says. “It’s not necessary to dig down to the bottom of the footings and risk undermining them.”That’s for a retrofit. But in new construction, he adds, where the site is excavated to the bottom of the footing, perimeter drains “absolutely” should be below the top of the footing. He includes a link to a drawing showing a correctly installed drain .Morgan isn’t buying it.“I can only tell you from extensive personal observation that your ‘should absolutely’ location is simply not observed hereabouts,” he writes. “I have never seen any problems arise from this, nor have I seen problems with older homes in which which foundation drains have been completely absent, except those arising from poor surface water management.” We asked GBA’s Technical Director, Peter Yost, for his opinion:Basements are tough because we often build them as holes in the ground that we will never live in or condition — without the proper air, thermal, and water barriers we use for high-performance above-grade spaces. Then, in part because it’s so “easy and cheap,” we turn them in to family rooms or extra bedrooms.A lot of points have been raised, I will respond to them one at a time.1. Determine how the basement is getting wet:I completely agree with this approach. Look first to surface water management to take the load off of foundation walls. You may be able to significantly reduce the amount of moisture the walls experience from the outside at the surface.2. Are the walls and/or floor damp or wet?There is a big difference here. If the walls or floor are wet, and they are still wet after completely managing surface water, then get ready to cut concrete and dig an interior perimeter French drain. If the walls or floor are damp, you may be able to simply let them continue to dry to the interior and let your dehumidifier handle the load. Even if your walls of floor don’t seem to be damp, its best to test for what you may not be able to see or feel. There is actually a test for this: ASTM D4263, or the more sophisticated ASTM F1869 calcium chloride test that allows you to calculate the rate of moisture transmission through your concrete walls or floor.3. Using a sealer to keep bulk water at bay.I don’t have any experience with this approach, but if Robert says his sealer works, I believe him. A note of caution, though: Unless the sealant can maintain its integrity for the life of the building even as settling and slight shifting introduces hairline cracks in the concrete, I would be concerned about burying that seal in a finished basement.4. Location of footing perimeter drains:GreenBuildingAdvisor Mike Guertin, GBA architect Steve Baczek, and I spent quite a bit of time talking about just where the perimeter drain should be located at the footing. Take a look at any of the GBA Construction Details for basements in the GBA Detail Library . We ended up agreeing that the pipe should be located — perforations facing down — just next to the footing.5. Energy Star dehumidifiers:In my own home, we open the seven small hopper windows whenever we can, and run a dehumidifier when we can’t. Dehumidifiers use a lot of electricity (ours pulls 400W when running), so make sure your unit is an Energy-Star-labeled one.6. Building Science Corp. has a useful article on the topicThe article, Renovating Your Basement , was done as part of the Building America program. Don’t leave your above-grade space without it. Podcast: Efflorescence = Water Damage CONSTRUCTION DETAILS Fixing a Wet BasementStormwater ManagementFoundation Drains Q&A: Solution to Damp Basement Floors in Old Homes7 Steps to an Energy-Efficient House: 1. The Basement Green Basement Renovation Insulating FoundationsBasements should be insulated and protected from water Can Houses Be ‘Too Insulated’ or ‘Too Tight’?Remodel Project: Finished BasementVapor Profiles Help Predict Whether a Wall Can Drycenter_img RELATED ARTICLES GREEN PRODUCT GUIDE JDRain Prefab Drainage SystemFibrex Mineral Wool Drainage Board RELATED MULTIMEDIA Interior & Exterior Foundation Drain (Damp Proofing)Exterior Perimeter Drain to French DrainUnderground Water Barrier RetrofitTreated Sleepers with Rigid Insulationlast_img read more