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The battle between anti-global warming activists and their critics is frequently uncivil. Name calling, put downs, you name it, they fling them.

But this marks a new threshold, I think.

This March, Michael Crowley wrote a cover story (sub. req.) in The New Republic hitting blockbuster novelist Michael Crichton's very public denials that global warming was a proved phenomenon.

That was the last he'd heard from Crichton until he picked his latest novel, Next. Here's what he found:

Alex Burnet was in the middle of the most difficult trial of her career, a rape case involving the sexual assault of a two-year-old boy in Malibu. The defendant, thirty-year-old Mick Crowley, was a Washington-based political columnist who was visiting his sister-in-law when he experienced an overwhelming urge to have anal sex with her young son, still in diapers. Crowley was a wealthy, spoiled Yale graduate and heir to a pharmaceutical fortune. ...

It turned out Crowley's taste in love objects was well known in Washington, but [his lawyer]--as was his custom--tried the case vigorously in the press months before the trial, repeatedly characterizing Alex and the child's mother as "fantasizing feminist fundamentalists" who had made up the whole thing from "their sick, twisted imaginations." This, despite a well-documented hospital examination of the child. (Crowley's penis was small, but he had still caused significant tears to the toddler's rectum.)

In an article posted to the New Republic's Web site today, Crowley responded:

The next page contains fleeting references to Crowley as a "weasel" and a "dickhead," and, later, "that political reporter who likes little boys." But that's it--Crowley comes and goes without affecting the plot. He is not a character so much as a voodoo doll. Knowing that Crichton had used prior books to attack very real-seeming people, I was suspicious. Who was this Mick Crowley? A Google search turned up an Irish Workers Party politician in Knocknaheeny, Ireland. But Crowley's tireless advocacy for County Cork's disabled seemed to make him an unlikely target of Crichton's ire. And that's when it dawned on me: I happen to be a Washington political journalist. And, yes, I did attend Yale University. And, come to think of it, I had recently written a critical 3,700-word cover story about Crichton. In lieu of a letter to the editor, Crichton had fictionalized me as a child rapist. And, perhaps worse, falsely branded me a pharmaceutical-industry profiteer.

The federal government continues to hold hundreds of detained workers from Tuesday's six-state "Operation Wagon Train" raid on Swift meatpacking plants, and the fallout continues.

In Iowa, governor and presidential hopeful Tom Vilsack (D) expressed displeasure with the Department of Homeland Security, which has opted to bar access to detainees by family members or lawyers. DHS is changing its policy, Vilsack's spokeswoman said.

The operation -- which was the largest federal immigration raid in U.S. history -- may not have gotten much play in the national media, but made a profound impression on the communities which lost hundreds of members overnight. "The sight of federal agents raiding the local packinghouse is nothing new. In fact, it's happened several times over the past 15 years," reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune of the Worthington, Minn. raid. "But never quite like this. . . .

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A friend in need is a friend indeed. So if you're buddies with Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), now's the time to show it.

Ney, who pled guilty to bribery charges last month, is scheduled to receive his sentence January 19th. The prosecutors have recommended he serve 27 months of not-so-hard time. Like Jack Abramoff, he would likely serve it in a minimum security prison.

But Ney's lawyers want as much leniency as possible so they've written to Ney's friends and colleagues, asking them to write to the judge about "your feelings about Bob’s character, his work for his constituents in Ohio, his work on national issues, his integrity, his dedication to public service, and anything else that you think will give the judge a full understanding of who Bob is and the work he has done.”

Letters like these can indeed help at a sentencing -- but so does taking responsibility for your crime, which Ney (like former administration official David Safavian, who was also convicted of charges related to the Abramoff investigation) has shown no indication of doing.

'04 Pentagon Report Cited Detention Concerns "A previously undisclosed Pentagon report concluded that the three terrorism suspects held at a brig in South Carolina were subjected to months of isolation, and it warned that their "unique" solitary confinement could be viewed as violating U.S. detention standards." (WaPo)

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Merry Christmas, baby:

A priest's and nun’s mission to find the mother of a nursing baby was thwarted today after they said officials from Camp Dodge would not let them inside to tell their story.

Sister Christine Feagan, from the St. Mary’s Hispanic Ministry, and The Rev. Jim Miller, who is a priest from the St. Mary’s Parish, both said they drove to Camp Dodge [an ICE detention center] this afternoon to find out the status of a nursing mother who was deported and nursing a baby. . . .

At the church’s Hispanic ministry, the baby whose mother was arrested was passed among staff and a community activist who had agreed to help care for her.

They said they don’t know when the girl, whose father is absent, will be reunited with her mother.

I just spoke with a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security's Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). While most of the 1,282 workers arrested and transported to "processing centers" have been processed in "Operation Wagon Train," their multi-state raid, Michael Keegan told me, he has not heard of anyone being released after proving their legal U.S. residency.

"So far we haven't had any reports," he said. (Union officials are complaining that workers aren't allowed to contact them or lawyers.)

I mentioned to Keegan the report from Utah that ICE agents had separated workers by skin color. "Is that right? I can't confirm that," he replied.

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The first big ruling in the wake of the Bush administration's detainee law has come down -- in the now famous Rumsfeld v. Hamdan case -- and the Bush administration wins.

From the AP:

A federal judge upheld the Bush administration's new terrorism law Wednesday, agreeing that Guantanamo Bay detainees do not have the right to challenge their imprisonment in U.S. courts.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge James Robertson is the first to address the new Military Commissions Act and is a legal victory for the Bush administration at a time when it has been fending off criticism of the law from Democrats and libertarians....

Though Robertson originally sided with Hamdan, he said that he no longer had jurisdiction to hear Hamdan's case because Congress clearly intended to keep such disputes out of federal courts. He said foreigners being held in overseas military prisons do not have the right to challenge their detention, a right people inside the country normally enjoy.

This is only the first round, however.

The fate of children whose parents have been swept up in the government's meatpacking plant raids isn't going unnoticed by the media. As just one example, KSL-TV in Salt Lake City, Utah, reports on the fate of affected kids in its local schools:

[A]t Lincoln Elementary School in the Cache Valley School District there are dozens of children who went home with someone else yesterday, a relative or only one parent.

A similar situation in the Logan City School District at Bridger Elementary School. Yesterday, secretaries and teachers found themselves calling homes to make sure students got picked up. . . .

Just at Bridger Elementary School alone there were seven students affected by yesterday's raid. One teacher said that most of those students were not in school today.

As the principal said, one issue is the fact that they are afraid, but the other issue may be that they are literally preparing to say goodbye to their parents.

This afternoon I spoke to the Washington Post's Susan Glasser, the paper's assistant managing editor for national news, about John Solomon's hiring.

Glasser was unwaveringly positive about Solomon, citing his "great mind, enthusiasm, zeal for an important subject" -- money in politics -- and calling him "one of the most distinctive assets that the Post has gained in the past few years."

She declined to discuss criticism of his reporting on incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). She "wasn't involved in those stories," she said, and didn't "have anything to say about them." She confirmed that concerns over his work on those stories was "not at all" an issue in his hiring, and emphasized that Solomon is an "extremely well-regarded, practiced, thoughtful, responsible, agressive reporter."

"You guys should be out there reading him closely and carefully, but this is a good thing, an exciting thing for us," Glasser added.

Glasser said that Solomon will be "a reporter covering money in politics" at the Post and will not be getting his own investigative unit, as stated in an AP internal memo about the hiring. "He’s going to be a reporter here at the Post, although I imagine a leader of our coverage," she said.

So there you have it. Don't worry, Susan, we will be reading him closely.

Allow us to ride our Solomon hobby horse a little more.

Yesterday, not long after The Washington Post announced that it had snagged the AP's John Solomon -- citing, among other things, his courageous exposure of Sen. Harry Reid's "ethical missteps," -- news came that the Senate ethics committee had cleared Reid for accepting free ringside seats from the Nevada Athletic Commission.

That ethics complaint, of course, had been spurred by one of Solomon's hit pieces on Reid, and the one, to our judgment, most riddled with inaccuracies and omissions that served to pump up Solomon's rather lame story.

But who doesn't get cleared by the congressional ethics committees nowadays?

Most interesting to us was the AP's story on the decision, which was written by the AP's Erica Werner -- not Solomon.

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