Monday, December 31, 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Girl won Hannah Montana tickets with fake essay
GARLAND, Texas (AP) — An essay that won a 6-year-old girl four tickets to a Hannah Montana concert began with the powerful line: "My daddy died this year in Iraq."
While gripping, it was not true — and now the girl may lose her tickets after her mom acknowledged to contest organizers it was all a lie.
The sponsor of the contest was Club Libby Lu, a Chicago-based store that sells clothes, accessories and games intended for young girls.
The saga began Friday with company officials surprising the girl at a Club Libby Lu at a mall in suburban Garland, about 20 miles northeast of Dallas. The girl won a makeover that included a blonde Hannah Montana wig, as well as the grand prize: airfare for four to Albany, N.Y., and four tickets to the sold-out Hannah Montana concert on Jan. 9.
The mother had told company officials that the girl's father died April 17 in a roadside bombing in Iraq, company spokeswoman Robyn Caulfield said.
"We did the essay and that's what we did to win," Priscilla Ceballos, the mother, said in an interview with Dallas TV station KDFW. "We did whatever we could do to win."
She had identified the soldier as Sgt. Jonathon Menjivar, but the Department of Defense has no record of anyone with that name dying in Iraq. Caulfield said the mother has admitted to the deception.
"We regret that the original intent of the contest, which was to make a little girl's holiday extra special, has not been realized in the way we anticipated," said Mary Drolet, the CEO of Club Libby Lu.
Drolet said the company is reviewing the matter, and is considering taking away the girl's tickets.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Huckabee's muzzle control problem
by Jim Tankersley
Republican Mike Huckabee took his presidential campaign for a quick pheasant-hunting expedition in Iowa on Wednesday, and at one point, a reporter asked why he hadn’t invited sporting enthusiast Dick Cheney along. "Because I want to survive all the way through this," Huckabee replied, in a chuckling dig at the vice president’s accidental shooting of a quail-hunting partner last year.
Any good sportsman, though, couldn’t miss a distinctly Cheneyesque moment in the press accounts of the former Arkansas governor’s morning hunt: At one point, Huckabee’s party turned toward a cluster of reporters and cameramen and, when they kicked up a pheasant, fired shotgun blasts over the group’s heads.
This, friends, is dangerously bad hunting form.
Your Swamp correspondent, the son of a longtime hunter education instructor, grew up plying the corn rows and stream banks of rural Oregon with a Labrador retriever and a Mossberg 20-gauge pump shotgun. On our hunts for pheasant, grouse and quail, merely swinging a gun barrel in the general direction of another person was grounds for day-long banishment to the truck (which smelled like wet dog).
Suffice to say, if any of our hunting mates had pulled a stunt like Huckabee’s yesterday, we never would have invited them back. It’s the sort of behavior that drives safety-conscious hunters up the wall, because it reinforces a reckless, gun-totin’ stereotype.
My colleague James Oliphant reports that Huckabee’s party was about 75 yards away from the press corps Wednesday when a pheasant jumped up and flew toward the reporters, drawing several shots. “That was too close,” he reports a cameraman saying.
Perhaps Huckabee missed hunter’s safety classes – Arkansas only requires them for hunters born after 1968 – but the etiquette on this point is clear.
“Never point a firearm at yourself or others,” the International Hunter Education Association declares in its Basic Safety Rules. Later, it adds, “Never point your firearm at something you do not intend to shoot. Make sure you positively identify what you are shooting at and know what lies in front of and beyond it.”
Huckabee emerged happily from his hunt, three dead pheasants in tow, Oliphant reports. Asked for a metaphor to describe the hunt, he replied, "Don't get in my way. This is what happens."
BRZEZINSKI: I agree with you Joe. I actually hear the same thing among my circles that I've been talking to about the story. Having said that though, the one thing that does come to my mind, when you look at this campaign, and you look at all the different choices out there, and all the different visions in terms of what our place should be in the world, I just wonder if some voters will look back at post-9/11, and I have a friend who made a decision right after 9-11, holding her baby, in the polling booth, and she decided to vote for George W. Bush because she thought she would, quote, be safer. She now regrets that decision because she doesn't feel like America is safer and she feels like this President has brought us down a path which is leading us to this very moment right here, which is massive destabilization in Pakistan.
Ah Mika, Bush was already president after 9/11 so are you talking about voting for Bush in 2004?
IRS: Late Tax Fix Delays Refunds
By JESSE J. HOLLAND – 14 hours ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 3 million people will have to wait until February to get their tax refunds because of Congress' late fix to the alternative minimum tax, the IRS said Thursday.
Congress put a one-year freeze on growth of the alternative minimum tax last week, shielding many middle- and upper-middle income taxpayers from first exposure to the tax. But Congress' late action means the Internal Revenue Service won't be able to start processing five AMT-related forms until February, delaying potential refunds for those people until that month.
Between 3 million and 4 million people filed in January for their 2006 taxes using those forms, with many expecting a refund, the IRS said. The average refund was $2,324, the agency said.
"We regret the inconvenience the delay will mean for million of early tax filers, especially those expecting a refund," acting IRS Commissioner Linda Stiff said.
As many as 13.5 million people will have to wait until Feb. 11 to start filing with the five AMT-related forms, but the IRS said filing patterns show only between 3 million to 4 million of those people file during the early tax season anyhow.
The IRS was able to reprogram its computers to begin accepting the seven other AMT-related forms when the tax season opens in early January.
But the tax packages that will start arriving in the mail beginning after New Year's Day were printed in November, before the AMT fixes were approved by Congress. The IRS has created a special section on its Web site, http://www.irs.gov, with updated copies of AMT forms.
The alternative minimum tax was passed in 1969 and was aimed at about 155 very wealthy families who used deductions to avoid paying any federal income tax. The AMT disallows certain deductions and credits. It was not adjusted for inflation; as a result, over the years it has hit a growing number of middle-income taxpayers.
More than 4 million were subject to it in the 2006 tax year. Without the congressional fix, more than 20 million families would have been faced with an extra $2,000 tax hit on average.
The five forms affected by the delay are:
_ Form 8863, Education Credits.
_ Form 5695, Residential Energy Credits.
_ Form 1040A's Schedule 2, Child and Dependent Care Expenses for Form 1040A Filers.
_ Form 8396, Mortgage Interest Credit and
_ Form 8859, District of Columbia First-Time Homebuyer Credit.
Any taxpayer using those forms will have to wait until February to file their taxes, the agency said. The IRS will begin processing those forms on Feb. 11, and the first refunds for those people will start going out 10 to 14 days later.
More than 100 million people got refunds during the last tax season.
An executive at Kansas City, Mo.-based H&R Block Inc., the nation's largest tax preparer, suggested there might be ways for people to increase the speed of their refunds.
"We can help taxpayers claiming the child and dependent care credit avoid the delay by using alternative forms to file their return," said Tim Gokey, group president of H&R Block Tax Services. "Taxpayers can also file their return earlier by not claiming the credits being blocked until Feb. 11, and then filing an amended return later to claim the additional credits."
The Associated Press reported on Dec. 1 that the IRS Oversight Board was warning that taxpayers could expect refund delays because Congress hadn't acted on an AMT fix.
Congress passes legislation every year to keep the tax from expanding. The fix this year was delayed by an argument between Republicans and Democrats over whether some taxes should rise to offset the cost of correcting the AMT.
The House's Democratic majority demanded that the $50 billion cost of the tax relief be paid for, mainly by closing a loophole on offshore tax havens. But Republicans' argument that the AMT shouldn't be fixed with increased taxes prevailed, with the backing of a White House veto threat.
The Dec. 19 passage of the AMT fix threw the IRS's schedule off because it takes seven weeks to reprogram the agency's computers to adjust for congressional action, the agency said.
IRS officials suggest that people file electronically to get faster refunds. People who file electronically and get direct deposits into their accounts can expect refunds in 10-14 days, while those who file with paper forms can expect a wait of as long as six weeks.
The IRS is also working with tax professionals and the makers of tax preparation software to make sure their information is as up-to-date as possible.
"Early filers can get their refund as quickly as possible by easily completing and submitting their return to TurboTax," said Bob Meighan, vice president for Intuit Inc.'s TurboTax tax preparation software. "Then, as soon as the IRS begins accepting electronic returns, we'll take care of the rest."
Clinton's "don't ask" policy
As she races through Iowa in the days before next week's caucuses, Hillary Clinton is taking few chances. She tells crowds that it’s their turn to “pick a president,’’ but over the last two days she has not invited them to ask her any questions.
Before the brief Christmas break, the New York senator had been setting aside time after campaign speeches to hear from the audience. Now when she’s done speaking, her theme songs blare from loudspeakers, preventing any kind of public Q&A.
She was no more inviting when a television reporter approached her after a rally on Thursday and asked if she was “moved’’ by Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. Clinton turned away without answering.
Her daughter, Chelsea, had the same reaction when a reporter approached her with a question.
Hillary Clinton’s no-question policy didn’t sit well with some of the Iowans who came to see her speak.
“I was a little bit underwhelmed,’’ said Doug Rohde, 46, as he left her a rally in a fire station in Denison. “The message was very generic -- and no questions.’’
Clinton campaign officials said that she may take questions in the coming days. But her focus is on seeing as many voters as possible before the caucuses next Thursday -- and spotlighting the messages she wants to deliver.
Spokespeople for her two main rivals in the Hawkeye State -– John Edwards and Barack Obama -– said the candidates would continue fielding questions as they troll for support.
-- Peter Nicholas
Thursday, December 27, 2007
With about 150 supporters crowded around a podium set up on the tarmac of Orlando Executive
airport (and about 20 Ron Paul supporters waving signs outside) Mike Huckabee strode out to the strains of “Right Now” by Van Halen and immediately addressed the Bhutto situation, expressing “our sincere concern and apologies for what has happened in Pakistan.”
Webster City, Ia. – Barack Obama told an audience here that, as president, he would use his position to promote higher education.
“We’ve got a president who brags about ‘I was a C student, look at me. I got to be president and I can’t pronounce stupider.’ That’s not the message we want for the White House.”
The crowd laughed.
Are we now back to how the president pronounces words as a qualification?
NFL Network To Simulcast Pats-Giants On CBS, NBC
Patriots To Go For Record In First 3-Network Simulcast In NFL History
NEW YORK (CBS) ― The New England Patriots' shot at history Saturday night will be available for every household in the country with a television after months of wrangling.
The game against the New York Giants, in which the Patriots could become the first NFL team to go 16-0 in the regular season, was originally scheduled to be shown only on the NFL Network, which is available in fewer than 40 percent of the nation's homes with TVs.
But the league announced Wednesday that the NFL Network feed will be simulcast on NBC and CBS. It's a major concession by league officials, who repeatedly said they would not show the game anywhere but the NFL Network. The NFL had faced mounting pressure from politicians in recent weeks to make the game available to more viewers.
This will be the first three-network simulcast in NFL history and the first simulcast of any kind of an NFL game since the first Super Bowl in 1967, when CBS and NBC both televised the first meeting of the champions of the newly merged National Football League and American Football League.
Tide of illegal immigrants ebbs
By Marla Dickerson, Los Angeles Times
MEXICO CITY - Lorenzo Martinez, an illegal immigrant who has lived in Los Angeles for six years, has a message for his kin in Mexico's Hidalgo state: Stay put.
The steady construction work that allowed him to send home as much as $1,000 a month in recent years has disappeared. The 36-year-old father of four said desperation is growing among the day laborers with whom he competes for odd jobs.
Sporadic employment isn't the half of it. Martinez said anxiety is also running high among undocumented workers about stepped-up workplace raids, deportations and increasing demands by U.S. employers for proof that they are in the country legally.
"Better not to come," Martinez said of anyone thinking about crossing into the U.S. illegally. "The situation is really bad."
That message seems to be getting through. There are numerous signs of a slowdown in illegal immigration.
What's behind the apparent decline?
Some say it's primarily the slump in U.S. construction, which has been a magnet for undocumented workers over the last few years -- one in five Hispanic immigrants works in the building trades. Others say it's largely the result of stepped-up enforcement.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Miss France chief wants to strip queen of crown
Fri Dec 21, 2007 7:08pm GMT
PARIS (Reuters) - The president of the Miss France beauty pageant said on Friday she wanted the winner of the 2008 competition to hand back her crown after a magazine published suggestive photographs of the 22-year old model.
"If she had some courage and a bit of dignity she would say 'I'm resigning because I'm not worthy to carry on as Miss France'," the head of the Miss France committee, Genevieve de Fontenay, told Europe 1 radio.
Valerie Begue, who comes from the French-run, Indian Ocean island of Reunion, was elected Miss France 2008 on prime time television earlier this month. She has ruled out standing down, saying the pictures were published without her consent.
The photos showed the bikini-clad brunette floating in a swimming pool on a wooden cross in a Christ-like pose. Another one showed her licking condensed milk in a provocative fashion.
Anyone standing for the Miss France crown has to sign a contract saying they had never been photographed in the nude or in suggestive poses.
"If I had been aware (of the pictures), she would never have been let into the Miss France competition I wouldn't want to be seen walking down the streets with a girl like that," Fontenay said, indicating she would take legal action if necessary.
It is not the first time the competition organisers have been embarrassed by their queen. The 2004 Miss France, Laeticia Bleger, was suspended for six months after photos of her surfaced in Playboy.
(Writing by Crispian Balmer, Editing by Richard Williams)
Hot Air » Blog Archive » Rudy’s security expenses scandal turns out to be mostly crap?
Thursday, December 20, 2007
.: U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works :: Minority Page :.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), the Senate Democratic whip tasked with trying to find 60 votes for a filibuster-proof majority, acknowledged this week that Democrats' biggest failure stemmed from expecting "more Republicans to take an independent stance" on Iraq. Instead, most of them stood with Bush.
"Many of them will have to carry that with them into the election," Durbin said.
Since the surge has produced a remarkable turnaround in Iraq and it appears that trend will contiue in 2008, I would think that Republicans that stood by Bush and his Iraq surge policy will be more than happy to trumpet that fact. Durbin's statement illustrates exactly what the problem the Democrats face is. They have so deeply invested themselves in defeat in Iraq that they are unable to admit that success in Iraq is happening. If they do they are admitting that their position was and is 100% the wrong position to take.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Jamie Lynn Spears says she's pregnant
Wed Dec 19, 6:47 AM ET
NEW YORK - Another Spears baby is reportedly on the way — and it's not Britney's. Jamie Lynn Spears, the 16-year-old "Zoey 101" star and sister of Britney, told OK! magazine that she's pregnant and that the father is her boyfriend, Casey Aldridge.
"It was a shock for both of us, so unexpected," she said. "I was in complete and total shock and so was he."
Spears is 12 weeks along and initially kept the news to herself when she learned of the pregnancy from an at-home test and subsequent doctor visit, she told the celebrity magazine, which hits stands in New York on Wednesday and the rest of the country by Friday.
What message does she want to send to other teens about premarital sex? "I definitely don't think it's something you should do; it's better to wait," she told the magazine. "But I can't be judgmental because it's a position I put myself in.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Hillary: (laughing) I want to hear him answer that.
Obama: Well, Hillary, I'm looking forward to you advising me as well.
Edwards during debate: “make this country better than we left it — rather, leave it better than we started.”
“The [nine] naysayers didn’t make it to the floor to debate. I would like to know how they could vote Yes on Islam, Yes on the Indian Religions and No on Christianity when the foundation of this nation and our American culture is Christianity…I think there’s an assault on Christianity in America.”
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
"The U.S. is the only major industrial nation to reject Kyoto. President Bush contended the emissions cuts would harm the U.S. economy, and should have been imposed on China, India and other fast-growing poorer economies."
But these are the facts;
"On July 25, 1997, before the Kyoto Protocol was finalized (although it had been fully negotiated, and a penultimate draft was finished), the U.S. Senate unanimously passed by a 95-0 vote the Byrd-Hagel Resolution (S. Res. 98), which stated the sense of the Senate was that the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol that did not include binding targets and timetables for developing as well as industrialized nations or "would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States" On November 12, 1998, Vice President Al Gore symbolically signed the protocol. Both Gore and Senator Joseph Lieberman indicated that the protocol would not be acted upon in the Senate until there was participation by the developing nations. The Clinton Administration never submitted the protocol to the Senate for ratification."
Vet lauds female guard who felled gunman
By Kieran Nicholson
The Denver Post
Article Last Updated: 12/10/2007 06:53:56 PM MST
Larry Bourbonnais, a combat-tested Vietnam veteran, said it was the bravest thing he's ever seen.
Bourbonnais, who was among those shot by a gunman Sunday at New Life Church, watched as a security guard, a woman later identified as Jeanne Assam, calmly returned fire and killed the shooter.
"She just started walking toward the gunman firing the whole way," said Bourbonnais, who was shot in the arm. "She was just yelling 'Surrender,' walking and shooting the whole time."
Bourbonnais, 59, had just finished up a hamburger in the cafeteria on the sprawling church campus when he heard gunfire, he recalled.
He headed in the direction of the shots as frightened people ran past him looking to escape to safety.
"Where's the shooter? Where's the shooter?" Bourbonnais kept yelling, he recalled.
Near an entryway in the church, Bourbonnais came upon the gunman and an armed male church security guard who was there with his gun drawn but not firing, he said.
Bourbonnais said he pleaded with the armed guard to give him his weapon.
"Give me your handgun. I've been in combat, and I'm going to take this guy out," Bourbonnais recalled telling the guard. "He kept yelling, 'Get behind me! Get behind me!' He wouldn't hand me his weapon, but he wouldn't do anything."
There was an additional armed security guard there, another man, who also didn't fire, Bourbonnais said.
Bourbonnais yelled at the gunman to draw his attention, he said.
"First, I called him 'Coward' then I called him 'S---head' " Bourbonnais said. "I probably shouldn't have been saying that in church."
That's when the shooter pointed one of his guns at Bourbonnais and fired, he said.
Bourbonnais ducked behind a hollow, decorative pillar and was hit in the arm by a bullet and fragments of the pillar.
At about that moment, Assam turned a corner with a drawn handgun, walked toward the gunman and yelled "Surrender!" Bourbonnais said.
The gunman pointed a handgun at Assam and fired three shots, Bourbonnais said. She returned fire and just kept walking toward the gunman pressing off round after round.
After the gunman went down, Bourbonnais asked Assam, a volunteer security guard with the church, how she remained so calm and focused.
Bourbonnais said she replied:
"I was asking the Holy Spirit to guide me the entire time."
Kieran Nicholson: 303-954-1822 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Coming in From the Cold: CIA Spy Calls Waterboarding Necessary But Torture
Former Agent Says the Enhanced Technique Was Used on Al Qaeda Chief Abu Zubaydah
By RICHARD ESPOSITO & BRIAN ROSS
Dec. 10, 2007
In the first public comment by any CIA officer involved in handling high-value al Qaeda targets, John Kiriakou, now retired, said the technique broke Zubaydah in less than 35 seconds.
(Editor's Note for Video to the Left: Material from this video transcript may not be used without crediting ABC News in each instance of use. In all cases, use must be limited to one minute or less without the explicit permission of ABC News.)
"The next day, he told his interrogator that Allah had visited him in his cell during the night and told him to cooperate," said Kiriakou in an interview to be broadcast tonight on ABC News' "World News With Charles Gibson" and "Nightline."
"From that day on, he answered every question," Kiriakou said. "The threat information he provided disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks."
Monday, December 10, 2007
Civil Rights Icon Calls Obama Too Young
Dec 8, 5:52 PM (ET)
By ERRIN HAINES
ATLANTA (AP) - Civil rights icon Andrew Young says Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is too young and lacks the support network to ascend to the White House.
In a media interview posted online, Young also quipped that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton has her husband behind her, and that "Bill is every bit as black as Barack."
"He's probably gone with more black women than Barack," Young said of former President Clinton, drawing laughter from a live television audience. Young, 75, was quick to follow his comment on Bill Clinton with the disclaimer, "I'm clowning."
When I was a kid, we used to drive on the Beltway past the big Mormon temple outside Washington. The spires rose up like a white Oz, and some wag had spray-painted the message on a bridge beneath: Surrender Dorothy!
But a Glenn Reynolds reader points out;
But if you're imagining Dowd as a pigtailed six-year-old in the back of the family station wagon, think again. The temple was finished in 1974. Maureen Dowd was born in 1952. So she was a "kid" who was old enough to vote and drink. (According to this source, the graffiti first appeared in 1973, when Dowd would have been 21.) Thanks to reader Conrad Kiechel for the tip. I remember the graffiti, too, though, which was still there in the 1980s when I was a "kid" practicing law in Washington. By then Dowd was pushing 40.
So after that whopper I find it hard to swallow this one;
But even for those of us in religions that were once considered cults by other religions — my mom and another Catholic girlfriend actually had Southern Protestants ask them to lift up their hair so they could see the mark of the devil or the horns — Mormonism is opaque.
But Maureen believes it so it must be true, if not accurate...
Sunday, December 09, 2007
In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.
Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.
"The briefer was specifically asked if the methods were tough enough," said a U.S. official who witnessed the exchange.
Tough enough? Don't tell anyone but this might just be the way to get yourselves reelected.
Friday, December 07, 2007
Not According to Script
Hollywood gets shown up by pro-war YouTube videos and a didactic antiwar cat.
BY BRENDAN MINITER
Friday, December 7, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST
The guns of war have fallen silent for Hollywood. Studio executives, who could once count on Americans filling theaters for just about any war movie they produced, are finding this year's war flicks to be a bunch of duds. "Lions for Lambs," Robert Redford's case against the war in Afghanistan, is a flop. It stars Mr. Redford, Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise and may not make back its $35 million price tag. Brian De Palma's "Redacted" played to empty seats. Even "The War," Ken Burns's much-anticipated World War II documentary that aired on PBS in September, met a less-than-explosive reception.
But Americans haven't lost their taste for war footage. They've just found a better place to see the type of war film they actually enjoy watching. Some of the hottest videos on YouTube are of actual battles that have taken place in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is footage that often hasn't made its way onto the nightly news or CNN--although some of it has--but it's largely unadulterated film that shows American soldiers in action, bringing the full weight of American military might to bear against the enemy. And in most of these films, it's clear who the enemy is.
Read the whole thing, lots of links....
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Its a pretty good tune but I doubt it will be on everyones Christmas playlist nor will it probably be a big seller. And that is probably due to Billy not singing on the tune but rather the lead vocal is by Cass Dillion.
Billy Joel releases anti-war song
2 hours, 2 minutes ago
NEW YORK - Billy Joel has released a new pop single, the anti-war "Christmas in Fallujah." Just don't expect to hear his voice on it.
At 58, Joel felt he was too old to sing the song, which was inspired by letters the Piano Man received from soldiers in Iraq. So he gave it to Cass Dillon, a 21-year-old singer-songwriter from Long Island.
"I thought it should be somebody young, about a soldier's age," Joel said in a statement on his Web site. "I wanted to help somebody else's career. I've had plenty of hits. I've had plenty of airplay. I've had my time in the sun. I think it's time for somebody else, maybe, to benefit from my own experience."
Dillon said he was thrilled to be asked.
"When someone of that stature, with that history of great songs behind him with such a huge catalog asks you to sing something he's written, there's nothing you can do but be completely honored to perform," Dillon said in a statement.
"Christmas in Fallujah" went on sale Tuesday on Apple Inc.'s iTunes. Net proceeds will be donated to Homes for Our Troops, which builds homes for severely wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Monday, December 03, 2007
Clinton Seizes Opportunity After Crisis
Politico: Democratic Hopeful Looked Like A Woman In Charge After Hostage Drama
Dec 1, 2007
(The Politico) This story was written by David Paul Kuhn.
Friday afternoon began with possible tragedy: A hostage crisis at Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign office in Rochester, New Hampshire.
As the incident unfolded Clinton’s campaign closed its doors and canceled her public appearances.
But nightfall brought a happy ending: the campaign workers safe, the man in police custody - and Clinton flying to the scene to express thanks.
The hostage-taking itself offered a rare, if small, genuine drama in a campaign season governed by strict schedules and scripted stump speeches.
And as soon as it ended, Clinton took full advantage of the opportunity she had unexpectedly been handed.
In her New Hampshire press conference, she stood before a column of police in green and tan uniforms. She talked of meeting with hostages. She mentioned that she spoke to the state’s governor about eight minutes after the incident began.
The scene was one of a woman in charge.
“It looked and sounded presidential,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “This was an instance of the White House experience of this campaign. They knew how to handle this.”
Friday, November 30, 2007
Because of an editing error, a front-page article in some editions yesterday about the Republican presidential debate misstated the response of former Senator Fred D. Thompson in a passage about high points for many candidates. During the debate, he offered a spirited defense of gun rights, not gun control.
Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), one of the leading anti-war voices in the House Democratic Caucus, is back from a trip to Iraq and he now says the "surge is working." This could be a huge problem for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democratic leaders, who are blocking approval of the full $200 billion being sought by President Bush for combat operations in Iraq in 2008. Murtha's latest comments are also a stark reversal from what he said earlier in the year. The Pennsylvania Democrat, who chairs the powerful Defense Subcommittee on the House Appropriations Committee, has previously stated that the surge "is not working" and the United States faced a military disaster in Iraq. ... But Pelosi, who is scheduled to speak to a Democratic National Committee event in Virginia on Friday, will surely face tough questions from reporters regarding Murtha's statement on the surge. "This could be a real headache for us," said one top House Democratic aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "Pelosi is going to be furious."
Will the press question her on Murtha? How could they not.
Bohrman said he had no problem using questioners who have voiced support for other candidates as long as they are not donors or formally affiliated with any campaign. "We bent over backwards to be fair," he said. "We're not perfect. But we tried extremely hard."
It took viewers and bloggers about 5 minutes to figure out Kerr was on Clinton's staff. They used this cool tool called Google.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
6,000 Sunnis join pact with US in Iraq
By LAUREN FRAYER, Associated Press Writer
Nearly 6,000 Sunni Arab residents joined a security pact with American forces Wednesday in what U.S. officers described as a critical step in plugging the remaining escape routes for extremists flushed from former strongholds.
The new alliance — called the single largest volunteer mobilization since the war began — covers the "last gateway" for groups such as al-Qaida in Iraq seeking new havens in northern Iraq, U.S. military officials said.
U.S. commanders have tried to build a ring around insurgents who fled military offensives launched earlier this year in the western Anbar province and later into Baghdad and surrounding areas. In many places, the U.S.-led battles were given key help from tribal militias — mainly Sunnis — that had turned against al-Qaida and other groups...
The ceremony to pledge the 6,000 new fighters was presided over by a dozen sheiks — each draped in black robes trimmed with gold braiding — who signed the contract on behalf of tribesmen at a small U.S. outpost in north-central Iraq.
For about $275 a month — nearly the salary for the typical Iraqi policeman — the tribesmen will man about 200 security checkpoints beginning Dec. 7, supplementing hundreds of Iraqi forces already in the area.
Meanwhile, in Najaf...
Khaled al-Mulla, a Sunni cleric, attends a meeting between Sunni and Shiite clerics in Najaf, Iraq, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2007. Iraq's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, renewed his call for an end to sectarian violence in the country and for Sunni and Shiite Muslims to unite, according to al-Mulla, who was part of the Sunni delegation that met him Tuesday in Najaf. (AP Photo/Alaa al-Marjani)
bg forwarded this translation of an Iraqi news story that for some reason did not get much play in the Western media outlets. This rough translation was posted by Hameed Abid at Iraq the Model from SotalIraq.com:
Sunnis and Shiites by one in building the new Iraq
Under the slogan ((Sunnis and Shiites by one in building the new Iraq)) Najaf embraced the first Forum of scientists in Iraq.
The media center of the communication _ Khader Elias
Husseinieh Fatimid held in the Great in Najaf the first national forum for scientists Sunnis and Shiites under the slogan "Sunnis and Shiites by one in the building of a new Iraq."
The forum, which was attended by nearly a thousand people from religious scholars from the two communities discussed field conditions in the country, especially political ones.
Speeches delivered at the forum to express religious scholars Aptdehm Samaha Mr. Saleh Haidari, who conveyed the greetings of the President of the Court of stay Sunni, said in his speech Mr. al Conference on:
"The basic objective of the forum is to activate the national unity between all Iraqis, particularly between the two communities, and that the religious reference and religious scholars have the ability to take lofty goals for the unification of Iraq and we have great hope in the end the team in the country."
...With Mr. Al: "The conference brings us together today is not even a forum or message to the effect that the Declaration contains a series of important points as follows:
1. That brings us to today's declaration Antsaralouhdh Party and sedition.
2. We through Mmeltghana message to the Arab world and international and Arab and Islamic countries and Iraq's neighbors not to deal with Iraq on a sectarian basis, but on the basis of dealing with Iraq all the same trend, because we assure them that dealing with Iraq's sectarian serve their interests with the reality of the new Iraq.
3. Call for cultural battle after victory in the political battle field and against terrorism. This call was directed to all scholars of Islam.
4. Send a letter to the Iraqis calling for a culture of cohesion that our way to victory.
With over Najaf governor Asad Sultan Abu tirelessly in a speech during the Forum welcomed the attendees viewers in the city of science and scientists and was pleased with the guests and wished them success Mmeltkahm nationally.
He said the points on which it considers the subject of discussion on the Iraqi arena:"
1. The importance of the role of the nation's scholars in uniting the nation and collected.
2. We must work to promote a culture of justice to achieve a balance between the sons of the nation.
3. Nscherthagaffh importance of dialogue between the sons of the Islamic nation.
4. Maintaining ties and cohesion of Iraqi society.
5. We have to intensify our information and the media, aimed at building the Islamic nation."
With Sheikh Mohammed Kznie representative of the delegation of scientists in Kurdistan in his speech expressed deep happiness in the city of Najaf and meeting with religious references where special meeting was organized by Imam Sistani...
Michelle Malkin has got the scoop and be sure to click through to all of her links...
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Haider Abbas, a 36-year-old taxi driver, had only a few moments to answer what is often a life-or-death question in this city: Would he drive a passenger home?
The home, on that scorching afternoon last month, happened to be in Adhamiyah, a notoriously dangerous neighborhood where several cabbies had been gunned down. Abbas hadn't been there in two years. But the fare pleaded that it had become safer, so the cabbie reluctantly agreed to go.
"To tell you the truth, I thought I had just traded my life for 5,000 dinars," or $4, said Abbas, who was shocked when he arrived in the traffic-jammed streets of Adhamiyah to see shops open and people strolling in the road. "Then I suddenly realized that security really is returning to Baghdad."
In a city where few residents believe official statements on declining violence, whether from the U.S. military or the Iraqi government, some of the most reliable figures on security improvements can be found on the odometers of Baghdad's taxi drivers.
After years of sectarian warfare whittled down the list of neighborhoods where they could safely work, cabbies are once again crisscrossing nearly all of Baghdad. Every day they assess the constantly shifting boundaries between danger and security, hoping that life will return to normal, but mindful that this is still a city where anyone could be killed at any moment for no particular reason.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
CFP: Al Gore buddy owner of sunken ship that left huge carbon footprint on Antarctic Ocean floor
A widely performed school play has been canceled by Lakota officials after a recent meeting with a local NAACP official.
The internationally acclaimed play - Agatha Christie’s “Ten Little Indians” - was to be performed by students at Lakota East High School this weekend.
But Gary Hines, president of the local NAACP branch, recently complained to Lakota officials that the play, based on Christie’s 1939 mystery novel, was inappropriate for a school production.
Hines said the book’s original title and cover illustration used for its initial publishing that year in England was a racial slur toward blacks and included a cover illustration of a black person and a hangman’s noose.
“The original title was ‘Ten Little (N - - - - - -),’ and it is important to say that because that was the actual title,” Hines said Monday.
The title of the international bestseller was widely changed after 1939, and school theater productions in America have performed the murder mystery play as either “Ten Little Indians” or “And Then There Were None” for decades since.
Hines claims that a lack of racial diversity among Lakota’s students and teachers allowed the play to be chosen despite the history surrounding its original title.
“It’s a lack of diversity knowledge on their part. Diversity is not a way of life in Lakota,” Hines said.
After the October 20th primary election for which only 27.5% of the city's registered voters turned out, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said he was "disgusted."
In a television interview, Nagin said "it was kind of offensive to me, because here I am bustin' my butt every day and all I'm asking citizens to do is to plug into the democratic process."
It's now reported that Nagin himself was a no-show at the polls in October.
Retailers expected a boost between 4-5% on "Black Friday". They got almost twice that, as shoppers flooded the malls on the day after Thanksgiving, the traditional kickoff of the Christmas shopping season. Consumers shrugged off the credit crunch and the rhetoric of the doom-and-gloom Democrats, who promise that poverty lurks just around the corner.
One might think that this would make headlines -- but despite the AP's report, few of its clients appear to have selected it for the Sunday papers.
67% Prefer Merry Christmas while 26% Opt for Happy Holidays
Thursday, November 22, 2007
As the holiday season begins, 67% of American adults like stores to use the phrase “Merry Christmas” in their seasonal advertising rather than “Happy Holidays.” A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 26% prefer the Happy Holidays line.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Sects unite to battle Al Qaeda in Iraq
QARGHULIA, Iraq — Despite persistent sectarian tensions in the Iraqi government, war-weary Sunnis and Shiites are joining hands at the local level to protect their communities from militants on both sides, U.S. military officials say.
In the last two months, a U.S.-backed policing movement called Concerned Citizens, launched last year in Sunni-dominated Anbar province under the banner of the Awakening movement, has spread rapidly into the mixed Iraqi heartland.
Of the nearly 70,000 Iraqi men in the Awakening movement, started by Sunni Muslim sheiks who turned their followers against Al Qaeda in Iraq, there are now more in Baghdad and its environs than anywhere else, and a growing number of those are Shiite Muslims.
Commanders in the field think they have tapped into a genuine public expression of reconciliation that has outpaced the elected government's progress on mending the sectarian rift.
The must enjoy stories like this;
Failing to Win War Votes, Democrats Say They Won’t Back Down
By David Herszenhorn New York Times November 19, 2007
WASHINGTON — Democrats in Congress failed once again Friday to shift President Bush’s war strategy in Iraq, but insisted that they would not let up. Their explanation for their latest foiled effort seemed to boil down to a simple question: “What else are we supposed to do?”
Frustrated by the lack of political progress in Iraq, under pressure by antiwar groups and mindful of polls showing that most Americans want the war to end, the Democrats last week put forward a $50 billion war spending bill with strings attached knowing it would fail.
Like so many of the war-related measures that Democrats have proposed this year, the spending bill sought to set a timeline for redeploying American troops, and to narrow the mission to focus on counterterrorism and on the training of Iraq’s security forces.
And, like so many of the war-related measures that Democrats proposed this year, it was approved in the House only to wither and die in the Senate, where on Friday it fell 7 votes short of the 60 needed to prevent a Republican filibuster — with 45 senators voting to block the measure.
All signs indicate that Democrats will continue proposing such measures as long as Mr. Bush remains in office and troops remain in Iraq. “We are going to keep plugging away,” said Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, chairman of the Armed Services Committee...
"What else are we supposed to do?" How about win the war! Support the troops by giving them the funding they need to continue the stunning turnaround in Iraq.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Santas warned 'ho ho ho' offensive to women
SYDNEY (AFP) - Santas in Australia's largest city have been told not to use Father Christmas's traditional "ho ho ho" greeting because it may be offensive to women, it was reported Thursday.
Sydney's Santa Clauses have instead been instructed to say "ha ha ha" instead, the Daily Telegraph reported.
One disgruntled Santa told the newspaper a recruitment firm warned him not to use "ho ho ho" because it could frighten children and was too close to "ho", a US slang term for prostitute.
"Gimme a break," said Julie Gale, who runs the campaign against sexualising children called Kids Free 2B Kids.
"We are talking about little kids who do not understand that "ho, ho, ho" has any other connotation and nor should they," she told the Telegraph.
"Leave Santa alone."
A local spokesman for the US-based Westaff recruitment firm said it was "misleading" to say the company had banned Santa's traditional greeting and it was being left up to the discretion of the individual Santa himself.
And just in case you missed the London story...
Santa told to slim down for Christmas to 'set a good example'05.11.07
Santa is being told to shift the pounds before Christmas - because the obese saint is failing to set a "good example" for children.
The traditional children's hero, best known for feasting on mince pies left out on Christmas eve, has always sported a bulging midriff.
But shopping centre bosses are giving the well-wisher his marching orders - to the nearest gym - to tackle the increasing problem of obesity.
The revelation comes after a medical report earlier this month stated that by 2050 more than 50 per cent of Brits will be obese.
Bluewater shopping centre in Greenhithe, Kent, has even gone one step further and set-up a Santa boot camp.
Fiona Campbell-Reilly, spokeswoman at the shopping centre, said: "Santa has been around for years, but society has changed and our Santa needs to reflect this.
"Bluewater's Santa Boot Camp is getting Santa in shape and setting a good example to children who idolise him.
"He will still be the same lovable jolly man, but will be fitter and healthier."
Despite Santa burning 600 calories an hour from delivering presents, the problem lies in the tasty mince pies left as a treat.
If he ate every single mince pie left for him by eager children in the UK he would gain an astonishing 721,000 lbs.
Dr Charmaine Griffiths, spokesperson from the British Heart Foundation, said: "The bootcamp would encourage people to get a bit more active - it is a great idea.
"If you are budding santa or a hopeful elf, then we should all be taking steps to being fit and healthier at Christmas.
"Half an hour of exercise, three days a week could make your heart healthier. I think that like most of us, santa could be doing more to make himself that little bit fitter.
"He can have a pie every so often but try to squeeze in a few carrots as well."
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Britain, France Argue Which Is Closest U.S. Ally
By NICHOLAS WAPSHOTT
Staff Reporter of the Sun
November 13, 2007
Not to be outdone by President Sarkozy's amorous overture to President Bush in Washington, Prime Minister Brown of Britain has used the first major foreign policy speech of his premiership to insist that Britain is America's closest ally.
After decades of Anglo-French rivalry, in which France has vehemently deplored the global influence America and Britain have attained and what every president of France since Charles de Gaulle has described as "Anglo-Saxon culture," Mr. Sarkozy claimed during his visit to Washington last week that France, not Britain, is now America's best friend and partner.
And now in Denmark pro-American leader Anders Fogh Rasmussen and his party was reelected;
Denmark's governing coalition, led by Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has won a general election, but is one seat short of an absolute majority.
With all the votes counted, his Liberal-Conservative led government has taken 89 of the 179 seats in the Folketing, the country's parliament.
Mr Rasmussen could be forced to seek support from a new party headed by a Syrian-born Palestinian immigrant.
Turnout was higher than in the previous poll, held in 2005, at over 86%.
Mr Rasmussen, 54, who won a third consecutive election after the 2001 and 2005 victories was in a jubilant mood.
"Everything indicates that the government can continue," he told his supporters after victory became clear.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
From Drudge:CNN's Wolf Blitzer has been warned not to focus Thursday's Dem debate on Hillary. 'This campaign is about issues, not on who we can bring down and destroy,' top Clinton insider explains. 'Blitzer should not go down to the levels of character attack and pull 'a Russert.'' Blitzer is set to moderate debate from Vegas, with questions also being posed by Suzanne Malveaux... Developing...
About 500 unionized news writers could soon join their creative colleagues on the picket line.
The writers, employees of CBS News television and radio, are expected to overwhelmingly approve a strike authorization. Represented by Writers Guild of America East, the writers were scheduled to vote Thursday.
Student Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff said a staffer told her what to ask at a campaign event for Sen. Hillary Clinton.
GRINNELL, Iowa (CNN) — The college student who says she was told what question to ask at one of Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign events told CNN Monday that she wasn't the only one at the event who was a plant and said "voters have the right to know what really happened."
In an exclusive interview with CNN, Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff, a 19-year-old sophomore at Grinnell College in Iowa — whose story in her campus newspaper has now been widely circulated — said that giving anyone specific questions to ask is "dishonest," and the whole incident has given her a negative outlook on politics.Gallo-Chasanoff, an undecided voter, said what happened was really pretty simple: she says a senior Clinton staffer asked if she'd like to ask the senator a question after an energy speech she gave in Newton, Iowa, on November 6. (Watch Gallo-Chasanoff ask Clinton the question)
"I sort of thought about it, and I said 'Yeah, can I ask how her
energy plan compares to the other candidates' energy plans?'"
"'I don't think that's a good idea," the staffer said, according to
Gallo-Chasanoff, "because I don't know how familiar she is with their plans."
He then opened a binder to a page that, according to Gallo-Chasanoff, had about eight questions on it.
"The top one was planned specifically for a college student," she added. " It said 'college student' in brackets and then the question."
The truth is Hollywood people are massively uninformed. They live in a bubble and, outside what they read in the New York Times and hear on NPR, they know almost nothing about what is really going on in the Middle East. And very few of them are curious to find out, because they assume what they already know is true and they have no impetus to investigate further.
But there is deeper reason for this than mere convenience and received conventional wisdom. These are not curious people because they are highly self-protective. They live a hugely privileged lifestyle, often based to a great degree on luck (and they know it), and this existence could only be threatened by contradictory information. Who wants that – particularly when it would alienate your colleagues, hurt your reputation and cause work problems?
Better to produce movies that validate the orthodoxy, even if they are economic disasters. Your colleagues will be impressed and you might win a prize (De Palma did – at Venice). Most of them are low budget anyway – a piffle. And the distribution system is rigged anyway. The antiwar swill won’t lose that much money because, boring as the films may be, they will be force-fed into the global entertainment machine, grouped in packages with other movies and sold to foreign television distributors to re-emerge as late-night reruns in Albania or wherever on into 2027 and beyond. A minor loss, if any.
And there is another benefit. (Here is where I am really going to make enemies.) Making movies like these or making extreme liberal public pronouncements make you seem like a good guy to yourself, when in your private life you are a miserable, self-serving bastard.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
NBC had hoped to extend its “Green is Universal” environmental campaign to late-night this week. Ed Begley Jr. was lined up to share eco-friendly advice on “The Tonight Show” and guests with the word “green” in their names — like the actor Seth Green and the musician Jackie Greene — were booked on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien.” Those plans have been sidelined.
Monday, November 05, 2007
HENLEY DEFENDS EAGLES' WAL-MART DEAL
Movie & Entertainment News provided by World Entertainment News Network (www.wenn.com)
2007-10-24 20:26:43 -
THE EAGLES star DON HENLEY has defended the band's decision to strike a distribution deal with U.S. supermarket chain Wal-Mart.
The group's new album, Long Road Out Of Eden, will be sold exclusively through the retailers in North America, but the band has been criticised for working with the supermarket giant due to Henley's credentials as a long-time environmental activist.
The new album also includes critical references to American consumerism and big business - with many fans accusing The Eagles of hypocrisy.
But Henley is convinced their relationship with Wal-Mart can help in the fight for green issues.
He says, "You would have thought we made a deal with the devil. We caught plenty of flak. Some of my environmental friends are a little upset because we made this deal. But on the other hand, I have a direct line now to the CEO of Wal-Mart.
"We're certainly making our feelings known in terms of ecological stewardship and some of the practices of big business that are undesirable and wasteful."
So now Don Henley has the CEO's cell phone number. The planet is saved. I know what green issues this deal takes care of for Henley and company...
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Ellison wants to ban photo ID as requirement for voting
By FREDERIC J. FROMMER
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Requiring photo IDs to vote in federal elections would be banned under legislation introduced Wednesday by Rep. Keith Ellison, who said such requirements disenfranchise minorities, the poor, women, elderly and young people.
“While photo IDs seem harmless, they are in fact the modern day poll tax,” Ellison, D-Minn., said in a statement.
Ellison, who serves on the Judiciary Committee, got an important backer for the bill, as the panel’s chairman, Michigan Democrat John Conyers, signed on a co-sponsor…
"Senator Clinton supports governors like Governor Spitzer who believe they need such a measure to deal with the crisis caused by this administration's failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform,'" her campaign said.
Mrs. Clinton's aides said her statement was intended to signal that she broadly supported Mr. Spitzer's goal of awarding driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. Mr. Spitzer initially proposed a blanket program of awarding full-fledged driver's licenses to illegal immigrants; in the face of sharp opposition from the Legislature, he backed off and presented a two-tier program system of awarding licenses to illegal immigrants.
Mrs. Clinton's advisers said that she had not studied either plan, and was not specifically endorsing either of them. [E.A.]
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
U.S. deaths in Iraq lowest since March 2006
General: All Baghdad-area violence falling since June
By Jim Michaels
The number of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq is headed for the lowest level in more than a year and a half and the fifth consecutive monthly decline.
Twenty-seven Americans have been killed in action in October, with one day left in the month, Pentagon records show. That would be the lowest monthly level since March 2006, when 27 servicemembers died in hostile action, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Pentagon reports.
The total number of U.S. deaths, including accidents, in October so far is 35, records show.
A new strategy, backed up by 30,000 more U.S. servicemembers, has led to a decline in violence and weakened al-Qaeda, commanders say. The U.S. military started building combat outposts and moving troops outside major bases earlier this year in an attempt to provide more security.
That strategy led to higher U.S. casualties in the spring, as the new troops moved into areas that had been insurgent sanctuaries. Combat deaths in April and May were the highest for a two-month period since the war started in March 2003, records show.
More recently, casualties have declined as security has been established. "I think we've turned the corner," Brig. Gen. John Campbell, an assistant commander for the U.S. division in Baghdad, said Tuesday in an interview from Iraq.
All measurable violence in the Baghdad area, including attacks on civilians and sectarian murders, have declined steadily since June, he said. The overall number of monthly attacks in the Baghdad area was 2,455 in January. In October, there were 598 attacks.
"What's done that is the people," Campbell said. The military's counterinsurgency doctrine says rebellions are defeated when the population turns away from insurgents.
An initiative to persuade Sunnis to join Iraq's security forces and protect their neighborhoods has won over thousands, many of whom were former insurgents.
The initiative, which began in Anbar province, a largely Sunni area west of the capital, has spread elsewhere in Iraq and now also includes Shiite groups.
The Multi-National Division-Central, based south of Baghdad, said 23,000 citizens have pledged to oppose al-Qaeda. Most will join security forces or get public works jobs, said Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the division.
That has led to improved intelligence, as former insurgents and citizens have provided tips, the U.S. military says.
Some U.S. commanders have complained that Iraq's Shiite-dominated government has not fully supported efforts to bring the citizens into Iraq's security forces, a key element in winning over former insurgents and others.
Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, who recently completed a tour as commander of Multi-National Division-North, accused Iraq's Interior Ministry of "foot-dragging" in not moving quicker to hire an additional 6,000 police in Diyala province, north of the capital.
Despite the increase in security, U.S. commanders are reluctant to recommend accelerating the withdrawal of U.S forces beyond what is already planned, fearful of jeopardizing hard-fought gains.
The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, has said U.S. troop levels will return to pre-"surge" levels, about 130,000 U.S. servicemembers, by next summer.
There hasn't been a decision beyond that.
"Until I get to the point where I've got a sustained security presence, I'm going to be reluctant to withdraw any forces," Lynch said.
"We fought to take over those 39 patrol bases," Lynch said, referring to outposts established in his division's area. "We're not giving that ground back until we have a sustained security presence. That's just going to take some time."
"Declaring victory … would be naive," he said. "I don't think we're at the point."
Boy Started California Fire, Officials Say
By DAISY NGUYEN, AP
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (Oct. 31) - A prosecutor will be asked to consider the case of a boy accused of starting a massive wildfire by playing with matches.
Fueled by ferocious desert winds, the fire quickly spread, burning more than 38,000 acres and destroying 21 homes.
The boy, whose name and age were not released, admitted to sparking the fire on Oct. 21, Los Angeles County sheriff's Sgt. Diane Hecht said Tuesday.
"He admitted to playing with matches and accidentally starting the fire," she said in a statement.
The boy was released to his parents, and the case will be presented to the district attorney's office, Hecht said. It was not clear if he had been arrested or cited by detectives.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Bush says he'll veto health bill again
By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent 1 hour, 8 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - President Bush accused Democratic lawmakers on Friday of wasting time by passing legislation to expand children's health coverage, knowing that he would veto it again. At the same time, he criticized Congress for failing to approve spending bills to keep the government running.
Bush said Congress had "set a record they should not be proud of: October 26 is the latest date in 20 years that Congress has failed to get a single annual appropriations bill to the president's desk."
He also complained that Congress had failed to pass a permanent extension of a moratorium on state and local taxes on Internet access, and that the Senate had not yet confirmed Michael Mukasey as attorney general. Further, he chided Congress for failing to approve more money for Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Senate on Thursday night approved a seven-year extension of the Internet tax moratorium; differences with a House-passed version still have to be worked out.
Bush made his comments to reporters in the Roosevelt Room a day after the House passed new legislation to expand children's health coverage. Bush vetoed an earlier version, and Republicans argued the latest bill was little changed from the earlier measure. The bill — approved with less than the two-thirds majority needed to overturn another veto — now goes to the Senate. The House vote was 265-142.
Bush said that Congress needs to "stop wasting time and get essential work done on behalf of the American people."
Democrats said Republicans were making a mistake in opposing the children's health bill.
"They won't take yes for an answer," Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., said of Republicans.
He said that in the week since they failed to override Bush's first veto, Democrats had systematically addressed earlier complaints that the bill failed to place a priority on low-income children, did not effectively bar illegal immigrants from qualifying for benefits and was overly generous to adults.
A White House spokesman, Tony Fratto, mocked the suggestion that Democrats — and Emanuel in particular — were acting on principle. "I think the last principal Rahm Emanuel knew was in high school." Told of the remark, Emanuel chuckled.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland raised the possibility that additional changes were possible before the bill would be sent to the White House.
At the same time, he added, "I don't want to be strung along" by Republicans merely feigning an interest in bipartisan compromise.
Senate passage is highly likely, particularly with senior Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Orrin Hatch of Utah among the bill's most persistent supporters.
The legislation is designed chiefly to provide coverage for children whose families make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to purchase private insurance.
In general, supporters said it would extend coverage to children of families making up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $62,000 for a family of four.
At that level, congressional officials said, it would cover about 4 million children who now go without, raising the total for the program overall to 10 million kids. The $35 billion cost over five years would be covered by an increase in the tobacco tax of 61 cents a pack.
The vote unfolded one week after the House failed to override Bush's earlier veto, and indicated that the changes Democrats had made failed to attract much, if any, additional support.
The 265 votes cast for the measure came up seven shy of the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto. In addition, 14 Republicans who voted to sustain Bush's original veto were absent.
Public opinion polls show widespread support for the issue, and the political subtext was never far from the surface on a day of acrimony.
After a lengthy critique of Bush administration education policies, Biden attempted to explain why some schools perform better than others — in Iowa, for instance, compared with the District. “There’s less than 1 percent of the population of Iowa that is African American. There is probably less than 4 or 5 percent that are minorities. What is in Washington? So look, it goes back to what you start off with, what you’re dealing with,” Biden said.
Ok...if this were a Republican he'd already have resigned and been referred to as the 'disgraced former Senator Joe Biden' but since he is a Dem it will be explained by saying that Biden is just such an intelluctual that he has a hard time explaining to us regular people what he really means.
Disgraced political donor Norman Hsu wasn't hiding from anyone over the past few years, his lawyers say. If California authorities really wanted to find him, they could have asked Hillary Rodham Clinton or one of the other prominent Democrats he showered with cash donation.
Hsu is asking a judge to toss his 15-year-old felony fraud conviction, arguing that his right to a speedy trial was violated because authorities weren't actively pursuing him.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
University Of Florida Police Cleared In Use Of Taser On Student
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- University of Florida police were justified in using a Taser against a student who refused to stop questioning Sen. John Kerry on campus last month, according to a state investigation released Wednesday.
SLIDESHOW: Student Tasered During Press Conference
RAW VIDEO: Student Shot With Taser During Press Conference
READ: FDLE Report On Tasering Of UF Student (PDF)
Some had questioned the use of force in using the stun gun against student Andrew Meyer, leading to the investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. A summary of the agency's report was released Wednesday. (PDF: Read Full Report)
"In short, the FDLE determined that our officers acted well within state guidelines," university President Bernie Machen said in a letter to students, faculty and staff.
Two officers who were placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation were reinstated Wednesday, Machen said.
Rob Griscti, Meyer's attorney, said he had not yet reviewed the report and had no immediate comment. The journalism major is known for posting practical jokes online on his Web site.
The scuffle between Meyer and police started during the Sept. 17 speech by Kerry when Meyer refused to leave the microphone after his allotted time was up, police said. The videotaped altercation and Meyer's cries of "Don't Tase me bro!" were played frequently on the Internet.
The report says the officers' intent was to escort Meyer from the auditorium, but he broke away and refused to follow the officers' instructions.
"Officers decide not to escalate to hard empty hand strikes, kicks, knees or baton ... (it) would have looked like the officers were beating Meyer into submission," the report said.
The report, which has Meyer's name and that of other students blacked out, said the officers did what was necessary to control the student.
"Our purpose is, and has always been, to ensure a civil and safe environment where the many types of campus activities and open discourse can occur," said Police Chief Linda Stump.
Meyer has been charged by police for resisting an officer and disturbing the peace, but the State Attorney's Office has not yet decided whether to file formal charges.
Spencer Mann, a spokesman for the State Attorney's Office, said the decision may be made some time next week.
Media myths about the Jena 6
A local journalist tells the story you haven't heard.
By Craig Franklin
from the October 24, 2007 edition
Jena, La. - By now, almost everyone in America has heard of Jena, La., because they've all heard the story of the "Jena 6." White students hanging nooses barely punished, a schoolyard fight, excessive punishment for the six black attackers, racist local officials, public outrage and protests – the outside media made sure everyone knew the basics.
There's just one problem: The media got most of the basics wrong. In fact, I have never before witnessed such a disgrace in professional journalism. Myths replaced facts, and journalists abdicated their solemn duty to investigate every claim because they were seduced by a powerfully appealing but false narrative of racial injustice.
I should know. I live in Jena. My wife has taught at Jena High School for many years. And most important, I am probably the only reporter who has covered these events from the very beginning.
The reason the Jena cases have been propelled into the world spotlight is two-fold: First, because local officials did not speak publicly early on about the true events of the past year, the media simply formed their stories based on one-side's statements – the Jena 6. Second, the media were downright lazy in their efforts to find the truth. Often, they simply reported what they'd read on blogs, which expressed only one side of the issue.
The real story of Jena and the Jena 6 is quite different from what the national media presented. It's time to set the record straight.
Read the whole thing...
Norwalk wins first since 2003 to halt 48-game winless streak
Published October 24 2007
Norwalk 3, Bridgeport Central 0 - Lindsay Macri, Alyssa Schlegel and Tory Turchick each scored a goal to help Norwalk (1-12) pick up its first win since the 2003 season and snap a 48-game winless streak. The Bears had an 0-42-6 combined record beginning from when they lost their season finale to Cheshire in the 2003 state tournament. They finished 9-10 in 2003.
Norwalk goalkeeper Carly Babel made four saves, including a big one when she made a save on the penalty kick when the game was still scoreless in the ninth minute. Ashley Lampman assisted Macri on Norwalk's first goal in the 21st minute.
Adaobi Ogbenta had 16 saves for Bridgeport Central (0-10-2).
Copyright © 2007, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.
My daughter has played on the team since her Freshman year in 2005 and this is the first time she has experienced the thrill of victory!
FBI: al-Qaeda detainee spoke of fire plot
PHOENIX (AP) — The FBI alerted law enforcement agencies last month that an al-Qaeda terrorist now in detention had talked of masterminding a plot to set a series of devastating forest fires around the western United States.
Rose Davis, a spokeswoman for the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, told The Associated Press that officials there took note of the warning but didn't see a need to act further on it.
The contents of the June 25 memo from the FBI's Denver office were reported Friday by The Arizona Republic. Davis declined to share a copy of the memo and an FBI spokeswoman in Denver didn't immediately return a telephone call.
The Republic reported that the detainee, who was not identified, said the plan involved three or four people setting wildfires using timed devices in Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming that would detonate in forests and grasslands after the operatives had left the country.
The memo noted that investigators couldn't determine whether the detainee was telling the truth.
The newspaper said many forest law enforcement officers it contacted had no idea the warning had been issued.
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Monday, October 22, 2007
35 Inconvenient Truths
The errors in Al Gore’s movie
ImageA spokesman for Al Gore has issued a questionable response to the news that in October 2007 the High Court in London had identified nine “errors” in his movie An Inconvenient Truth. The judge had stated that, if the UK Government had not agreed to send to every secondary school in England a corrected guidance note making clear the mainstream scientific position on these nine “errors”, he would have made a finding that the Government’s distribution of the film and the first draft of the guidance note earlier in 2007 to all English secondary schools had been an unlawful contravention of an Act of Parliament prohibiting the political indoctrination of children.
Al Gore’s spokesman and “environment advisor,” Ms. Kalee Kreider, begins by saying that the film presented “thousands and thousands of facts.” It did not: just 2,000 “facts” in 93 minutes would have been one fact every three seconds. The film contained only a few dozen points, most of which will be seen to have been substantially inaccurate. The judge concentrated only on nine points which even the UK Government, to which Gore is a climate-change advisor, had to admit did not represent mainstream scientific opinion.
Read it all...
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Well here is a bit of interesting news;
FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq – A 72-year-old man stopped a suspected suicide bomber from detonating himself at a checkpoint in Arab Jabour Oct. 14.
The man approached a checkpoint where Mudhehr Fayadh Baresh was standing guard, but did not make it very far.
Baresh, a tribal commissioner and member of the Arab Jabour Concerned Citizens program, said he ordered the man to lift his shirt - using training received from Coalition Forces - when he did not recognize him as a local villager.
The suspect refused to lift his shirt. Baresh repeated the command again, and the suspect exposed his suicide vest, running toward the checkpoint.
Baresh opened fire which caused the vest to detonate, killing the suspect.
“I did it for the honor of my family and the honor of my country,” said Baresh, when he met with Col. Terry Ferrell, commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
Lt. Col. Kenneth Adgie, commander of the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment presented Mudher with a battalion coin for his valor Oct. 16.
So this guy is to blame for the lack of news that Charlie is complaining about. Maybe Charlie can get on the phone and ask this guy to think twice before saving lives, after all, Charlie needs the ratings.
N.C. leads in immigrant crackdown
Local law enforcement agencies are hastening to join a federal program that lets them check the status of those they jail
Kristin Collins, Staff Writer
North Carolina is becoming a national leader in rooting out illegal immigrants in its local jails.
The state has largely avoided controversial municipal ordinances that crack down on illegal immigrants, their employers and their landlords. But many sheriffs and police chiefs are eager to enforce immigration law, federal officials say.
Eighteen law enforcement agencies in North Carolina, more than any other state, have asked to join a program that would allow them to check the immigration status of those they arrest and jail. Sheriff's offices in Wake, Durham and Johnston counties are among those that have applied.
Four more sheriff's offices are already enrolled in the program, and their efforts led to the deportation of thousands of immigrants in the past year.
The program allows law enforcement agencies to use a federal database to check the immigration status of every foreign person they arrest -- whether for reckless driving or selling drugs -- and start deportation of those in the United States illegally. Select officers from the agencies that enroll get about a month of training from the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. The program costs local agencies nothing but staff time, and the federal government pays for each night that immigration detainees spend in local jails.
"We've had tremendous interest," said Richard Rocha, a spokesman for the federal immigration agency, known as ICE. "North Carolina leads the country."
The interest has been so overwhelming that ICE created a task force this week to figure out how best to use North Carolina sheriffs and police departments in the fight against illegal immigration.
Mecklenburg Sheriff Jim Pendergraph, who in 2006 was the first in North Carolina to partner with ICE, has become a sort of folk hero to other sheriffs in the state. He says Mecklenburg County helped ICE deport more than 3,000 people last year.
"We're trying to rid the state of illegal alien criminals," Pendergraph said Wednesday. "The citizens, quite frankly, are demanding that we get involved because the federal government just can't handle it by themselves anymore."