On This Day in History… Supreme Court Decides Bush V. Gore & 2000 Presidential Election in Bush’s Favor

By Bonnie Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. She blogs at History Musings



On this day in history…December 12, 2000, a divided U.S. Supreme Court made Republican George W. Bush president-elect over Democrat Al Gore as the justices reversed a state court decision for recounts in Florida’s contested election. (The nation’s highest court agreed, 7-2, to overturn the order for a state recount and voted 5-4 that there was no acceptable procedure by which a timely new recount could take place.) (LAT)



  • Ten years after Bush v. Gore, the fight goes on: Al Gore won the popular vote by more than 500,000. But it was the contentious recount in Florida – halted by the Supreme Court – that gave it to Bush. What that meant still is being argued. Some battles in American history and politics never end, at least in terms of passionate public argument. The Civil War. The Vietnam War. Abortion. The Red Sox and the Yankees. Bush v. Gore. Fortunately, the last one did not come to violent revolution. But the end of the 2000 presidential election – marked Sunday by the 10-year anniversary of the US Supreme Court decision that made George W. Bush the 43rd President of the United States – is just as debatable. The closest presidential race in US history came down to 537 votes out of 101,455,899 cast. Gore had won the popular vote by more than half a million, but it was the contentious recount in Florida – eventually halted by the Supreme Court – that gave it to Bush in the Electoral College, 271-266…. – CS Monitor, 12-12-10



  • “Voters who cast ballots incompetently are not entitled to have election officials toil to divine these voters’ intentions, Al Gore got certain Democratic-dominated canvassing boards to turn their recounts into unfettered speculations and hunches about the intentions of voters who submitted inscrutable ballots.” — George Will, Christian Science Monitor
  • George F. Will: A decade after Bush v. Gore: The passions that swirled around Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court case that ended 10 years ago Sunday, dissipated quickly. And remarkably little damage was done by the institutional collisions that resulted when control of the nation’s supreme political office turned on 537 votes out of 5,963,110 cast in Florida.
    Many controversies concerned whether particular votes could be said to have been cast properly. Chads are those bits of paper that, when a ballot is properly cast by puncturing spots next to candidates’ names, are separated from the ballot. In Florida, there were “dimpled” chads that were merely dented and “hanging” chads not separated from the ballots. Furthermore, there were undervotes (ballots with no vote for president) and overvotes (votes for two presidential candidates) and ill-designed (by a Democrat) butterfly ballots…. – WaPo, 12-12-10

WikiLeaks: Week 2 Julian Assange is Arrested and Held without Bail, Hackers Avenge

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.



  • A Selection From the Cache of Diplomatic Dispatches: Below are a selection of the documents from a cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables that WikiLeaks intends to make public starting on Nov. 28. A small number of names and passages in some of the cables have been removed by The New York Times to protect diplomats’ confidential sources, to keep from compromising American intelligence efforts or to protect the privacy of ordinary citizens…. – NYT
  • A look at the 251,287 diplomatic cables, based on WikiLeaks’ analysisWaPo
  • What is Wiki Leaks? CNN
  • WikiLeaks embassy cables: the key points at a glance: There are no fewer than 251,287 cables from more than 250 US embassies around the world, obtained by WikiLeaks. We present a day-by-day guide to the revelations from the US embassy cables both from the Guardian and its international media partners in the story…. – Guardian UK
  • WikiLeaks, Guardian UK
  • Leaked Cables Uncloak U.S. Diplomacy: A cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the past three years, provides an unprecedented look at backroom bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats.
    Some of the cables, made available to The New York Times and several other news organizations, were written as recently as late February, revealing the Obama administration’s exchanges over crises and conflicts. The material was originally obtained by WikiLeaks, an organization devoted to revealing secret documents. WikiLeaks intends to make the archive public on its Web site in batches, beginning Sunday…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • State Secrets: A cache of diplomatic cables provide a chronicle of the United States’ relations with the world: About the Documents A mammoth cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the last three years, provides an unprecedented look at bargaining by embassies, candid views of foreign leaders and assessments of threats. The material was obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to a number of news organizations in advance….. – NYT, 11-28-10



  • Anonymous Wikileaks supporters explain web attacks: A group of pro-Wikileaks activists who coordinated a series of web attacks have explained their actions. The Anonymous group said they were not hackers but “average internet citizens” who felt motivated to act because of perceived injustices against Wikileaks. The group said it had no interest in stealing credit card details or attacking critical infrastructure. The details were posted online by one of the many factions claiming to carry out the attacks.
    “Anonymous is not a group, but rather an internet gathering,” it said in a statement published on 10 December. It said the ongoing attacks were a “symbolic action” targeted at corporate website that had withdrawn services from Wikileaks. “We do not want to steal your personal information or credit card numbers. We also do not seek to attack critical infrastructure of companies such as Mastercard, Visa, PayPal or Amazon,” it read.
    The statement comes as other documents have come to light suggesting the group may be changing its tactics…. – BBC, 12-10-10
  • Assange Lawyers Prepare for U.S. Spying Indictment Attorney Says American Indictment Related to Espionage Act In the Works for Wikileaks Founder: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, the man behind the publication of more than a 250,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables, could face spying charges in the U.S. related to the Espionage Act, Assange’s lawyer said today.
    “Our position of course is that we don’t believe it applies to Mr. Assange and that in any event he’s entitled to First Amendment protection as publisher of Wikileaks and any prosecution under the Espionage Act would in my view be unconstitutional and puts at risk all media organizations in the U.S.,” Assange’s attorney Jennifer Robinson told ABC News. Robinson said they’re hearing from lawyers in the U.S. that an indictment of Assange could be imminent…. – ABC News, 12-10-10
  • Hackers strike at MasterCard to support WikiLeaks: Hackers rushed to the defense of WikiLeaks on Wednesday, launching attacks on MasterCard, Visa, Swedish prosecutors, a Swiss bank, Sarah Palin and others who have acted against the site and its jailed founder Julian Assange. Internet “hacktivists” operating under the label “Operation Payback” claimed responsibility in a Twitter message for causing severe technological problems at the website for MasterCard, which pulled the plug on its relationship with WikiLeaks a day ago. MasterCard acknowledged “a service disruption” involving its Secure Code system for verifying online payments, but spokesman James Issokson said consumers could still use their credit cards for secure transactions. Later Wednesday, Visa’s website was inaccessible. The online attacks are part of a wave of support for WikiLeaks that is sweeping the Internet. Twitter was choked with messages of solidarity for the group, while the site’s Facebook page hit 1 million fans…. – WaPo, 12-8-10
  • Julian Assange denied bail over sexual assault allegations Judge fears WikiLeaks founder – who denies all charges – has ‘means and ability’ to abscond: The WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, who is wanted in Sweden over claims he sexually assaulted two women, was in Wandsworth prison tonight after a judge refused him bail at an extradition hearing in London. The 39-year-old Australian, who denies the allegations, was driven away in a white prison van after an extraordinary one-hour hearing at City of Westminster magistrates court. The district judge, Howard Riddle, ruled there was a risk Assange would fail to surrender if granted bail.
    Despite Jemima Khan, former wife of Pakistan cricketer Imran Khan, the campaigning journalist John Pilger, the British film director Ken Loach and others offering to stand surety totalling £180,000, the judge said Assange’s “weak community ties” in the UK, and his “means and ability” to abscond, were “substantial grounds” for refusing bail.
    He was remanded until 14 December, when the case can be reviewed at the same court. His legal team said he would again apply for bail at that hearing. The move against Assange came on a day when increasing pressure was brought to bear in the US on companies and organisations with ties to WikiLeaks.
    As Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate homeland security committee, urged businesses to sever their ties with the website, Visa suspended all donations through its credit card. Asked about the New York Times’s role in publishing the leaked cables, Lieberman told Fox news the newspaper “has committed at least an act of bad citizenship. Whether they have committed a crime I think bears very intensive inquiry”…. – Guardian UK, 12-7-10
  • WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Has Been Arrested on a Swedish Warrant: British police said on Tuesday they had arrested Julian Assange, the beleaguered founder of the WikiLeaks anti-secrecy group, on a warrant issued in Sweden in connection with alleged sex offenses.
    Mr. Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, was arrested by officers from Scotland Yard when he went to a central London police station by prior agreement with the authorities, the police said. A court hearing was expected later.
    The widely anticipated arrested came after Mr. Assange, who denies the charges of sexual misconduct said to have been committed while he was in Sweden in August, threatened to release many more diplomatic cables if legal action is taken against him or his organization…. – NYT, 12-7-10
  • WikiLeaks lists sites key to U.S. security: WikiLeaks has published a secret U.S. diplomatic cable listing places the United States considers vital to its national security, prompting criticism that the website is inviting terrorist attacks on American interests. A State Department spokesman said the disclosure “gives a group like al Qaeda a targeting list.”
    The list is part of a lengthy cable the State Department sent in February 2009 to its posts around the world. The cable asked American diplomats to identify key resources, facilities and installations outside the United States “whose loss could critically impact the public health, economic security, and/or national and homeland security of the United States.”
    The diplomats identified dozens of places on every continent, including mines, manufacturing complexes, ports and research establishments. CNN is not publishing specific details from the list, which refers to pipelines and undersea telecommunications cables as well as the location of minerals or chemicals critical to U.S. industry.
    The list also mentions dams close to the U.S. border and a telecommunications hub whose destruction might seriously disrupt global communications. Diplomats also identified sites of strategic importance for supplying U.S. forces and interests abroad, such as in the Strait of Hormuz, the Persian Gulf and the Panama Canal. The cable is classified secret and not for review by non-U.S. personnel…. – CNN, 12-6-10
  • Assange making arrangements to meet police, lawyer says: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is “in the process of making arrangements” to meet with British police regarding a Swedish arrest warrant, his attorney said Monday. Assange is wanted for questioning by Swedish authorities over sex-crime allegations unrelated to WikiLeaks’ recent disclosure of secret U.S. documents. Mark Stephens, his British lawyer, told the BBC no time had been set for the meeting as of Monday evening, but one is likely “in the foreseeable future.” “We are in the process of making arrangements to meet with the police by consent in order to facilitate the taking of that question-and-answer as needed,” Stephens said…. – CNN, 12-6-10
  • Julian Assange to be questioned by British police: New extradition warrant issued over alleged sexual assaults — Assange appeals for supporters to put up surety and bail
    Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is expected to appear in a UK court tomorrow after his lawyers said he would meet police to discuss a European extradition warrant from Sweden relating to alleged sexual assaults.
    As the legal net continued to close around the whistleblowers’ website and US attorney general, Eric Holder, said he had authorised “a number of things to be done” to combat the group, Assange appeared to be reconciling himself to a lengthy personal court battle to avoid extradition.
    Jennifer Robinson, a solicitor with Finers Stephens Innocent which represents the Australian freedom of information campaigner, told the Guardian: “We have a received an arrest warrant [related to claims in Sweden]. We are negotiating a meeting with police.”
    Another lawyer representing Assange, Mark Stephens, added: “He has not been charged with anything. We are in the process of making arrangements to meet the police by consent in order to facilitate the taking of that question and answer that is needed.” Stephens explained that the interview would happen in the “foreseeable future” but he could not give a precise time. According to other sources, it is thought that Assange would appear before a court to negotiate bail…. – Guardian UK, 12-6-10
  • Australia: Assange allowed to return home: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would be allowed to return to his Australian homeland, and has the same protections any other Australian citizen would, the nation’s attorney general said Monday. Attorney General Robert McClelland’s comments came in response to Assange’s assertion last week that McClelland and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard “have made it clear that not only is my return impossible, but that they are actively working to assist the United States government in its attacks on myself and our people.
    “This brings into question what does it mean to be an Australian citizen — does that mean anything at all?” Assange said Friday in written answers to readers’ questions posted on the website of the British newspaper The Guardian. “Mr. Assange, like every Australian citizen, has rights, and nothing is stopping him from coming home to Australia,” McClelland said, according to his spokesman. Assange “is entitled to the same rights as any other Australian citizen. This includes the right to return to Australia and also to receive consular assistance while he is overseas if that is requested.”
    However, McClelland also said WikiLeaks’ publishing of leaked documents is “irresponsible,” according to the spokesman…. – CNN, 12-6-10


  • Ron Paul Defends WikiLeaks On House Floor: WikiLeaks release of classified information has generated a lot of attention in the past few weeks. The hysterical reaction makes one wonder if this is not an example of killing the messenger for the bad news. Despite what is claimed, the information that has been so far released, though classified, has caused no known harm to any individual, but it has caused plenty of embarrassment to our government. Losing our grip on our empire is not welcomed by the neoconservatives in charge.
    There is now more information confirming that Saudi Arabia is a principal supporter and financier of al Qaeda, and that this should set off alarm bells since we guarantee its Sharia-run government. This emphasizes even more the fact that no al Qaeda existed in Iraq before 9/11, and yet we went to war against Iraq based on the lie that it did. It has been charged by experts that Julian Assange, the internet publisher of this information, has committed a heinous crime, deserving prosecution for treason and execution, or even assassination. But should we not at least ask how the U.S. government should prosecute an Australian citizen for treason for publishing U.S. secret information that he did not steal? And if WikiLeaks is to be prosecuted for publishing classified documents, why shouldn’t the Washington Post, the New York Times, and others also published these documents be prosecuted? Actually, some in Congress are threatening this as well. Huff Post, 12-10-10

Remembering Elizabeth Edwards, 1949-2010

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.



  • Elizabeth Edwards Dies of Cancer at 61: Elizabeth Edwards, who as the wife of former Senator John Edwards gave America an intimate look at a candidate’s marriage by sharing his quest for the 2008 presidential nomination as she struggled with incurable cancer and, secretly, with his infidelity, died Tuesday at her home in Chapel Hill, N.C. She was 61.
    Her family confirmed the death. A family friend said Mrs. Edwards was surrounded by family and friends when she died shortly after 10:15 a.m. On Monday, two family friends said that her cancer had spread to her liver and that doctors had advised against further medical treatment.
    Mrs. Edwards posted a Facebook message to friends on Monday, saying, “I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces — my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope.” She added: “The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that.”
    In a life of idyllic successes and crushing reverses, Mrs. Edwards was an accomplished lawyer, the mother of four children and the wife of a wealthy, handsome senator with sights on the White House. But their 16-year-old son was killed in a car crash, cancer struck her at age 55, the political dreams died and, within months, her husband admitted to having had an extramarital affair with a campaign videographer…. – NYT, 12-8-0
  • Elizabeth Edwards told not to treat spreading cancer: Elizabeth Edwards announced Monday that her cancer has taken a turn for the worse and has now spread to her liver. Edwards, 61, the estranged wife of former presidential candidate John Edwards, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. Now, with cancer in her liver, her doctors have advised her not to undergo any more anti-cancer treatments, according to a family statement. “For them to say that she is not strong enough to benefit from further treatment, that says to me that her disease is far advanced and she is facing the end of her life,” says Ira Byock, director of palliative medicine at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, who has no personal knowledge of Edwards’ case. Doctors say it’s hard to predict how long someone in Edwards’ situation will survive, especially without knowing details of her case…. – USA Today, 12-7-10
  • Elizabeth Edwards was her husband’s biggest asset: When John Edwards declared himself a candidate in his first presidential campaign, his South Carolina rally was interrupted by rowdy critics who ridiculed the trial lawyer-turned-politician as a liberal and an ambulance chaser. Elizabeth Edwards stepped forward, took the microphone and asked for “good Southern manners.” Hecklers hushed.
    The moment showed why Elizabeth Edwards was her husband’s biggest asset. She was his chief defender, even when many people thought he didn’t deserve it, and helped propel his political career with charm, humor, intelligence and directness.
    After I had written about their appearance that day, I headed to catch a flight back to Washington only to see her waiting alone at the same gate. We were both tired after a long, hot day of campaign rallies in our dark business jackets as I approached her to reintroduce myself since our last meeting months earlier.
    “I know who you are,” she said — my first sign just how closely she monitored news coverage and everything else involving her husband’s campaign. “Let’s go ask them to seat us together since no one else will be able to stand the smell of us.” Here she was, a potential first lady joking about body odor.
    Her wit and willingness to acknowledge her imperfections and setbacks, whether a struggle to lose weight or the later loss of her hair during chemotherapy — turned her into a hit in the campaign. She could draw crowds as large as her husband’s, especially among the all-important female voters. They related to her as a mother toting along two young children on a campaign bus where she forced everyone to sing from songbooks.
    And in the second campaign, many women would approach her with tears in their eyes to relay their own experiences with breast cancer. That continual grappling with grief could visibly wear her down some days…. – AP, 12-7-10
  • Elizabeth Edwards’ Final Days: New Details
    Friend Says Devoted Mother Spent Her Last Days in a Very Nurturing and Warm Environment, Preparing Her Kids for a Good Life:
    In Elizabeth Edwards’ final hours, she was surrounded by loved ones, including her children, her estranged husband and close friends. In her final hours, she was surrounded by the people she loved most: her son, Jack, just 10-years-old, daughters Emma Claire, 12, and Cate, 28. Also there, her estranged husband, John, and a handful of close friends, including Jennifer Palmieri, who spoke about Edwards’ children.
    “To say that she prepared them for her death, I don’t think that is correct,” said friend Jennifer Palmieri. “What she wanted to do was prepare them to live a good life.” Edwards was determined that her last days with her children be joyful. “She was able to have you know, normal, good night mom, give them a kiss and go to school, and so it was a very nurturing and warm environment,” said Palmieri. “It was not a sad place if you can imagine that. It was a very warm and nurturing home.”… – CBS News, 12-8-10
  • John Not a Speaker at Elizabeth Edwards Funeral Her Estranged Husband Missing from List of Those Slated to Give Eulogies’: Mourners will hear tributes from her daughter and two close friends – but not her estranged husband, former senator and presidential and vice presidential candidate John Edwards. The funeral will be held here at the Edenton Street United Methodist Church in Raleigh, N.C….
    The funeral service, says Quijano, will be open to media cameras and the public, giving people the chance to pay their respects for a woman who inspired so many people. The burial service will be private…. – CBS News, 12-10-10
  • Elizabeth Edwards, Through Many Eyes: The goddess of frumpy wives and older mothers? The cancer patient who would not be defined by her disease? The noble, betrayed wife? The political operative whose complicity in covering up her husband’s infidelity could have cost the Democratic Party the presidency? A modern Job? Or Icarus?
    With her warm smile, left-leaning advocacy, generous hips and personal tragedies, this political spouse — wife of a one-term senator who failed twice in bids for national office — became an extraordinary canvas upon which many different public constituencies projected their narratives. Over time, as Mrs. Edwards’s life, in private and on stage, grew less saintly, more perplexing, anguished and sour, the public seemed to struggle to realign its relationship with her.
    Certainly Mrs. Edwards, who died on Tuesday at 61 and whose funeral was planned for Saturday, was keenly aware of her impact. Much like any politician who publishes a pro forma biography, she tried to control her narrative. With two memoirs, countless public appearances and, even the day before her death, a statement on Facebook, Mrs. Edwards persisted in shaping her image, determined to have the last word on herself…. – NYT, 12-11-10
  • Mourners gather for Edwards funeral: Miller joined hundreds of mourners who went to the church to remember Edwards and join a counter-protest against a controversial fundamentalist church from Kansas. Edwards’ funeral will take place today at the church that became her sanctuary when her son, Wade, died in a car accident in 1996. Her services will be begin at 1 p.m. Edwards will be buried in a private burial next to Wade…. – USA Today, 12-11-10
  • Elizabeth Edwards Eulogized as Defender of Her Family: In the moments before the funeral for Elizabeth Edwards began here Saturday afternoon, women from the Methodist church removed a spray of white lilies and yellow roses from the casket. Men wiped the rain from the lid, preparing it to be wheeled into the sanctuary where 1,100 people waited.
    …For the next 75 minutes, Mrs. Edwards, 61, was eulogized as a smart, authentic and always optimistic friend who was as intense a foe at the game Boggle as she was in law and politics. And above all, speakers said, she was a fierce defender of her family. “One thing that is true and will never change is that we are a family,” said her daughter Catharine Edwards, 28, who, along with two longtime family friends, offered eulogies for Mrs. Edwards. “She would do anything in the world to protect us.” The church held hundreds of friends, former campaign staff members and politicians who arrived to pay respects to a certain breed of political spouse whose high-profile life became an inspiration for people who, like her, had faced the death of a child, cancer and marital infidelity. NYT, 12-11-10
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