Frist Under Investigation over Fortuitous Stock Deal

Conservative corruption: Criminal investigations are now swirling around the majority leaders in both houses of Congress. In the House of Representatives, top members of a fundraising group in Texas associated with Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) have been indicted, as has Jack Abramoff, a lobbyist with close ties to the Bug Man.

Now Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) is being investigated for selling stocks weeks before they lost value:

Federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission are looking into Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s sale of stock in HCA Inc. at a time when insiders at the hospital operating company were also selling off shares.

HCA, based in Nashville and founded by the Frist family, said Friday that it had received a subpoena from prosecutors for the Southern District of New York, asking for documents the company believes are related to Frist’s stock sale.

Prosecutors also have contacted the senator’s office, Frist spokesman Bob Stevenson said. He said neither the senator nor his office had received a subpoena.

Why Is Bush Monitoring Rita from Northcom?

Tin ear: Has Team Bush lost its gift for stagecraft? First, they bungled their response to Hurricane Katrina like rank amateurs, now they’re waayyy over-compensating with an overly stagey reaction to Hurricane Rita.

The President was supposed to fly to San Antonio for a photo-op with first responders. It’s too dicey down there so he’s going straight to Colorado, where he’s going to lead the recovery from Northern Command.

Why? What could he do there that he couldn’t do from the White House? Are we really supposed to believe that George W. Bush will be there in the command center, guiding the response hands-on?

He’ll just be in the way. He should stay home.

Katrina, Rita — First Wave of the ‘Hypercanes’?

Blowin in the wind: Despite what our learned president, our erudite Congress and the Republican Party’s science lackeys say, climate change is warming the oceans, providing the energy to generate more powerful hurricanes and cyclones, or “hypercanes.” This according to a new study published in the journal Science last week.

The study noted that the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes worldwide has nearly doubled over the past 35 years.

“Warmer sea surface temperatures have increased the amount of water vapour, which is the fuel for hurricanes,” said study co-author Peter Webster of Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

The largest increases in the number of intense hurricanes occurred in the North Pacific, Southwest Pacific and the North and South Indian Oceans, with slightly smaller increases in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Hurricane Katrina offers a good illustration of the role of warm water, Webster said in an interview with Inter-Press News Service.

Before it struck the U.S. Gulf Coast, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Florida as a Category 1. However when it crossed over into the Gulf of Mexico, there was a huge, deep pool of very warm water that served as the storm’s high-octane fuel, he said.

Practically overnight, Katrina turned into a Category 5 super storm.

BREAKING: AP Reports Industrial Canal Has Been Breached

Worst possible news: MSNBC is reporting at 7:50 PDT that the patch on the breach in the Industrial Canal has been compromised and that parts of the city of New Orleans that had been pumped dry are already waist deep again in flood water.

The channel’s newsreaders are speculating that the first bands of rain from Hurricane Rita caused the patch to fail. If this is true, a second disaster may be unfolding in New Orleans, which could get six inches of rain and more from Rita over the next 24 hours.

New Law Would Accomodate Pets in Evacuations

We heard on CNN that although emergency coordinators are encouraging Texans to evacuate with their pets, the shelters (Red Cross was specifically mentioned) won’t allow the animals in. Something needs to be done:

Federal disaster grants to state and local governments should be conditioned on how they accommodate pets in their evacuation plans, say lawmakers disturbed that some Hurricane Katrina victims refused to leave home because they couldn’t take their animals with them.

“I cannot help but wonder how many more people could have been saved had they been able to take their pets,” Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., said Thursday.

Lantos and Reps. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and Barney Frank, D-Mass., are sponsoring a bill that would require that state and local disaster preparedness plans required for Federal Emergency Management Agency funding include provisions for household pets and service animals.

More than 6,000 pets have been saved in Mississippi and Louisiana, said Michael Markarian, executive vice president of the Humane Society of the United States, but tens of thousands more could still be in New Orleans alone. Texas, he said, has been better at allowing people to take their pets with them ahead of Hurricane Rita but a formal policy is still needed.

Donahue Vs. O’Reilly – Must-Read Transcript

Donnybrook: From the fabulous folks at Newshounds (“We watch Fox News So You Don’t Have to”), here is an excepted version of the segment of “The O’Reilly Factor” in which Phil Donahue took Bill O’Reilly down in three rounds:

O’REILLY: In the past Miss [Cindy] Sheehan has criticized Israel, saying it is occupying Palestine, has called Iraqi insurgents “freedom fighters,” has accused Americans of killing people ever since we stepped on this continent, has threatened Hillary Clinton with the loss her job unless she calls for a pullout of US troops from Iraq and has called the US action against Afghanistan a failure. Quite a resume and with us now is Phil Donahue, who supports Miss Sheehan’s “dissent.”

So, I’m assuming you don’t – you don’t support all her positions that I just chronicled.

DONAHUE: Let’s understand what’s happening here. Once again we have a woman who got to be just a little too famous for the people who support this war, a minority of the American population, by the way, and so the effort to marginalize this woman is underway and you’re helping out.