Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mexico's Continuing Political, Military, and Drug Problems

If Mexico cannot handle the problems created by the corruption and failure of its political system, then perhaps an American president will place US forces on the border, and perhaps secret into Mexico several teams, with one intention - removal of these cretins and their minions.  I am quite sure we can do it.

Cartels threaten to kill Texas Rangers, ICE agents

March 31, 2011 2:18 PM
Laura B. Martinez
The Brownsville Herald

BROWNSVILLE — A new law enforcement bulletin warns that members of drug cartels have been overheard plotting to kill federal agents and Texas Rangers who guard the border, officials in Washington reported Thursday.

The bulletin, which was issued in March, said cartel members planned to use AK-47 assault rifles to shoot agents and Rangers from across the border. It did not name the cartels.

The information was released at a hearing before a panel of the House Committee on Homeland Security. The Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management addressed “The U.S. Homeland Security Role in the Mexican War Against the Drug Cartels.”

U.S. Rep. Michael T. McCaul, R-Texas, talked briefly about the bulletin at the hearing. He said this and other findings he cited “are acts of terrorism as defined by law. The shooting of Special Agent Zapata and Avila is a game changer, which alters the landscape of United State’s involvement in Mexico’s war against drug cartels.”

He was referring to Jaime Jorge Zapata, 32, a Brownsville native and special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who was killed on Feb. 15 while on duty in Mexico. Injured in the same attack was Special Agent Victor Avila. Members of the Zetas criminal organization are suspected in the attack.

Tom Vinger, spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said Thursday in a statement: “DPS constantly keeps our officers and our law enforcement partners informed of any intelligence that suggests possible threats to their safety. However, we cannot comment on specific law enforcement bulletins.”

In a response to the threats, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security official said, “Out of an abundance of caution, we routinely share information that could impact our frontline personnel in order to ensure that they are aware of any and all threats.”

The news comes at time when ICE reportedly is having a difficult time recruiting agents willing to work in Mexico, said Luis Alvarez, assistant director for ICE International Affairs, who testified at the hearing.

Although cooperation with the Mexican government has been “excellent,” Alvarez said, “it is getting more and more difficult (to recruit) because of the increase in violence.”

“It is a difficult work environment. They are constantly looking out for their safety, their surroundings. ... They are concerned about their families from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep,” Alvarez said.

At the hearing, a picture of the vehicle in which Zapata and Avila were riding was displayed. McCaul described it as a “highly secure vehicle.” More than 80 rounds from AK-47 rifles were fired at the SUV.

“This demonstrates how violent the situation has become down there. … It looks like something out of a ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ movie. This is real, and that is what is happening in Mexico,” McCaul said.

In response to the attack, ICE has brought back its agents from Mexico for additional training, Alvarez said.

“We have provided them with some defensive driving tactics so they can carry out their mission and be prepared for whatever they are going to withstand down in Mexico,” he said.

McCaul said Zapata and Avila pleaded for their lives in Spanish and identified themselves as U.S. federal agents. The attackers responded by firing a barrage of bullets.

“I know agent Avila said that (there were) 10 guys with AK-47s,” McCaul said. “What can you do in that situation? Totally out-gunned and out-manned.”

The U.S. government has offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction of those responsible for the attack on Zapata and Avila. The Mexican government has offered a reward of up to 10 million pesos — equal to roughly $837,000.


Illegal Votes: Let's count them again and again. Every election we should demand a recount, regardless of who wins, and we should have to vote twice and bring passport or birth certificate / citizenship papers when we do vote!

5,000 in Colorado they caught.  How man y they didn't ... maybe another 200 or 300.  How about California?

GOP says 5,000 non-citizens voting in Colorado a 'wake-up call' for states

By Debbie Siegelbaum - 03/31/11 01:23 PM ET
The Hill

Republicans on the House Administration Committee want to shore up voter registration rules in the wake of a Colorado study that found as many as 5,000 non-citizens in the state took part in last year’s election.

Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), the panel’s chairman, called the study “a disturbing wake-up call” that should cause every state to review its safeguards to prevent illegal voting.

“We simply cannot have an electoral system that allows thousands of non-citizens to violate the law and vote in our elections. We must do more to protect the integrity of our electoral processes,” Harper added.

Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a Republican, told the panel that his department’s study identified nearly 12,000 people who were not citizens but were still registered to vote in Colorado.

Of those non-citizen registered voters, nearly 5,000 took part in the 2010 general election in which Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet narrowly defeated Republican John Buck.

Colorado conducted the study by comparing the state’s voter registration database with driver’s license records.

“We know we have a problem here. We don’t know the size of it,” Gessler said in testimony to Administration’s Elections subcommittee.

He told Harper that Colorado would look to create a registration system that would allow his department to ask that some people provide proof of their citizenship in writing.

If individuals did not respond to the request, their registration as voters would be suspended.

Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas) raised doubts about the reporting, noting that the study itself said it was based on inconclusive data and that it was “impossible to provide precise numbers” on how many people who were registered to vote in the state were not citizens.

Gonzalez asked Gessler, a former prosecutor, if he would have pursued a court case on such evidence.

Gessler responded that the goal of the study was to expose voter registration issues and pursue administrative avenues to resolve them.

“We don’t have a screen for citizenship on the front end when people register to vote,” he said.

im migration

APPLE INC = Portuguese GDP

You know you are in trouble when APPLE is worth more than the combined GDP of your country.  But, Portugal would not be alone.

Greece, Greece, where are you.  Ireland, Ireland, I'm looking for you also.  Spain, Spain, you're next!

Portugal: A Bailout Is Just the Start

Portugal's slow growth over a long period presents a sticky set of problems

By Matthew Lynn and Joao Lima
March 31, 2011

Another day, another downgrade. On Tuesday, Mar. 29, Standard & Poor's (MHP) lowered Portugal's debt rating for the second time in less than a week to BBB-, the lowest investment grade. Portuguese bonds were hammered, with the yield on its 10-year debt at one point climbing to 8 percent, its highest level since at least 1997, when Bloomberg began collecting data. The small, struggling nation seemed to take a step closer to seeking an emergency bailout, as Greece and Ireland did last year.

The latest crisis was triggered by the Mar. 23 resignation of Prime Minister José Sócrates, after Parliament rejected his proposed austerity measures. The political uncertainty in Lisbon makes its economic future much more certain. "I regard the Portuguese bailout as a given," says Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, an economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. "There's no way they're going to avoid it."

Portugal has about €9 billion ($12.7 billion) in debt coming due in the next three months, and analysts at Barclays Capital (BCS) estimate the government has no more than €5 billion in cash available. That's only enough to get the government past April, says Antonio Garcia Pascual, chief southern European economist at Barclays. Treasury and Finance Secretary Carlos Costa Pina says Portugal can meet its debt commitments for the year. Yet with hobbled leadership—Sócrates' government now has limited powers, and new elections aren't expected until May or June—the country will likely be unable to borrow money and is in a "suspended animation status," says Kirkegaard.

Euro zone members and the International Monetary Fund would have no problem footing the bill for a bailout. Portugal's gross domestic product of €162 billion is about 30 percent less than the market capitalization of Apple (AAPL). Even at the high-end estimate of €70 billion, a bailout would be manageable for France, Germany, and the others in the currency union, who have already pledged €177.5 billion to Greece and Ireland.

The road to health for Portugal, however, is less clear than the solutions for other troubled European countries. Greece's problems were massive but obvious: It misled the world about the state of its public finances, and many experts now say the country never should have been admitted into the euro zone in the first place. In Ireland, the bursting of a massive property bubble plunged the country into recession and its government into indebtedness.

The causes are less clear in the case of Portugal's crisis. It didn't fiddle with the figures as Greece did, and it didn't experience a financial runup along the lines of Ireland's. What it has experienced is grindingly slow growth. Portugal is the poorest of the original euro zone countries. Economists had expected it to grow fast and catch up with richer economies when the euro debuted in 1999. Yet unlike other European countries, Portugal did not experience a boom during the last decade. In fact, since 2000, Portugal's GDP has grown, on average, less than 1 percent a year, among the slowest rates in Europe. Unemployment is stuck at 11.1 percent, and the economy is expected to shrink 1.4 percent this year.

Portugal has "fundamental problems," according to a research note by Emilie Gay, Roger Bootle, and Jonathan Loynes of Capital Economics. They cite the country's uncompetitive export sector, poor education standards, and high unemployment benefits as factors that "have held back the economy for the last 10 years." As part of the euro zone, the government could mask those problems by borrowing cheaply, throwing money at its massive public sector, and piling up debt. Those loans are coming due, and Gay, Bootle, and Loynes see the possibility of another "lost decade" unless the country makes deep reforms. It's also a warning as the euro zone considers extending membership to poorer countries along Europe's perimeter, such as Bulgaria and Romania.

As Portugal struggles to stay upright, many wonder whether it is the last in a line of dominoes, or about to tip over the next one. In a note to investors, Stephen Lewis, chief economist at London-based Monument Securities, says prolonged political uncertainty in Portugal has a silver living since "a quick bailout might have shifted [attention] on to the state of the euro zone's peripheral banks, including those in Spain." Kirkegaard says Spain could withstand the spotlight: It has already implemented deep austerity measures, aiming to slash last year's deficit of 9.2 percent to 6 percent this year, and on Mar. 17 sold bonds at a 5.16 percent interest rate, lower than it paid in December. This is "a Portuguese and Portuguese-only situation," says Kirkegaard. "Essentially, Spain has bailed itself out."

The bottom line: For more than a decade Portugal's economy has grown 1 percent a year. That cycle of slow growth may be hard to break.


Golf: Not Necessarily Any More Sane than Soccer

Imagine soliciting for this tournament. 

Afghanistan's only golf course: Bring your clubs and AK-47

By Timothy Kenny, Contributor / June 24, 2010
Christian Science Monitor
Qargha, Afghanistan

After war, a time for golf.

There is nary a blade of grass at the Kabul Golf Club, just outside Afghanistan’s capital. The greens are not green; they are hard-packed brown sand, laced with oil and swept clean to keep the putting surface smooth. The fairways are rock-strewn and scrub-filled.

Ball finders – required, according to course rules – accompany golfers and their caddies, who carry a swatch of artificial turf and tee up each new shot. Without the ball finders to search in all the brush and undergrowth, a round of golf would likely be much shorter here at Afghanistan’s only course. Why? Because most golfers would give up before finishing.

Michael Alexander, a Londoner who has played his way across some of Britain’s best courses, notes that golf at the nine-hole Kabul Golf Club provides moments that playing at St. Andrews can’t.

“The Army checkpoint,” for example, he says. “The free [ball] drop at the Army checkpoint – that was the real difference with St. Andrews,” says Mr. Alexander, tongue in cheek.

A recent charity tournament here brought out 44 golfers, paying $100 each, for the privilege of playing the hard-scrabble course west of Kabul.

The tournament netted $4,000 last year for two local charities, said tournament director Richard Day, a Canadian working in Afghanistan since November 2006. This year’s outing, the third in three years, is expected to donate a like amount to two local nongovernmental groups, the Women of Project Hope and PARSA, which work to assist disadvantaged members of Afghan’s society such as the disabled, widowed, or orphaned.

Course founder and club pro, Mohammad Afzal Abdul, opened the course in 2004, after the Taliban first fled Afghanistan and a generation-long era of war had begun to fade. Security remains tight however during the tournament. Police toting AK-47s keep a watchful eye from nearby hilltops as two dozen or so armed men walk the course.

The future of golf in Afghanistan may appear uncertain over the near term, but not to Mr. Abdul. “I teach [every week] 100 to 110 boys, after-school students,” he said. “I want to teach everyone golf.”


Soccer: Fans and the Sport. Strange.

A Severed Pig's Head, a Friend's Dead Body and Other Things Not to Bring to a Soccer Game

Mar 31, 2011 – 7:32 AM
Matthew Hall

You can add the dead guy at a pro game in Colombia last weekend to a list of crazy behavior by soccer fans at games.

In the now infamous story, fans in Colombia stole the body of a murdered friend from a funeral home and took his corpse to the stadium to cheer on their favorite team -- a whole new twist on Pro Zombie Soccer.

Christopher Jacome, 17, was shot and killed on Saturday while playing soccer in his local park. The following day, friends took his coffin and carried it into the 42,000-capacity General Santander Stadium in Cucuta for a match between Cucuta Deportivo and Envigado.

It is not known whether the corpse required a ticket to gain entry.

Jacome was a member of Cucuta Deportivo's hardcore group of supporters known as Barra Del Indio. The same group is believed to be responsible for stealing the coffin from the funeral parlor.

Spanish-language media reported that a funeral procession of 200 fans followed the coffin into the stadium, but local police have been unable to identify who stole the body from the funeral home.

The incident is believed to be the first time a dead body has made an appearance at a sports event, but a human corpse is not the only bizarre item brought into a soccer stadium.

Fans of FC Barcelona from Spain threw the head of a dead pig onto the field during a game against rivals Real Madrid in 2002. The Barcelona fans were protesting star player Luis Figo's earlier controversial trade to Madrid. He was bombarded with objects during the game: whiskey bottles, billiard balls and the pig's head.

In 2001, fans of Italian team Inter Milan somehow managed to smuggle an entire Vespa motor scooter into the 80,000-capacity Giuseppe Meazza Stadium in Milan during an Italian league match.

The fans attempted to set the scooter on fire before throwing it from an upper tier of the stadium onto a section of seating below.

Barra Brava fan groups (roughly translated as "tough gang"), similar to the one Jacome was a member of, are widespread in South America. Argentina probably has the greatest number and best-organized Barra Brava in the world.

Some groups fight deadly "wars," not unlike rivalries in U.S. gang culture, and gang members have been revealed to be on the payroll of the teams they follow, paid in exchange for supporting the incumbent club president or board of directors.


Obama and Libya: Now he is sending in US forces

Yesterday it was the revelation that the US was arming the opposition to Kaddafi.  Today, US forces are on the ground in Libya.  Whether it is 3 or 30 - US forces are on the ground in Libya, involved in an internal issue unrelated to our national interests or security.  And the authorization for this is?   The dictator of this sandbox has wmd nor does he want them.  He did not pay a hit team to try to assassinate a former president, he did not use biological weapons on his people ... he was a dictator - a common variety, of which most of the Middle East has an oversupply. 

The Libyans did not attack us, did not send killers in planes, did not fund terrorism, did not provide aid and comfort to terrorists who had attacked the US ... Kaddafi did NOTHING.    He wasn't even the worst member of OPEC.  Now we are pulled into something we must either push through and ensure Kaddafi is gone or it blowsback on us, and Europe, in a very unflattering manner.

Libya rebels glad and wary of U.S. support, defection

By Alexander Dziadosz and Angus MacSwan
March 31, 2011

NEAR BREGA/BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Rebels massed for a counter-attack against Muammar Gaddafi's forces in eastern Libya on Thursday, both encouraged by and wary of news of covert U.S. support and his foreign minister's defection.

"We are beginning to see the Gaddafi regime crumble," rebel spokesman Mustafa Gheriani said in the eastern town of Benghazi, while stopping short of welcoming fugitive foreign minister Moussa Koussa, a former spy chief, into the rebel fold.

Analysts agreed the defection of Koussa, who flew to London on Wednesday, was a blow to Gaddafi whose forces have gained ground in recent days. It did not, however, reduce the risk of greater government violence.

Despite almost two weeks of Western air strikes, Gaddafi's troops have used superior arms and tactics to push back rebels trying to edge westward along the coast from their eastern stronghold of Benghazi toward the capital Tripoli.

News that U.S. officials told Reuters that President Barack Obama had authorized covert operations in Libya raised the prospect of wider support for the rebels.

Experts assume special forces are on the ground "spotting" targets for air strikes. Public confirmation from Washington may indicate a willingness for greater involvement.

The rebels, whose main call is for weapons -- not authorized yet by Washington because of a U.N. arms embargo which NATO says it is enforcing -- said they knew nothing about Western troops in Libya and that too big a foreign role could be damaging.

"It would undermine our credibility," Gheriani said.


Obama's order is likely to further alarm countries already concerned that air strikes on infrastructure and ground troops by the United States, Britain and France go beyond a U.N. resolution with the expressed aim only of protecting civilians.

"I can't speak to any CIA activities but I will tell you that the president has been quite clear that in terms of the United States military there will be no boots on the ground," U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.

The top Vatican official in the Libyan capital cited witnesses on Thursday saying at least 40 civilians had been killed in Western air strikes on Tripoli.

NATO said it was investigating but had no confirmation of the report. Libya's state news agency, citing military sources, said Western air strikes had hit a civilian area in the capital overnight, but did not mention casualties.

Rebels said Gaddafi loyalists had killed 38 civilians over the past two days alone in Misrata, the only town in western Libya still under rebel control. "Massacres are taking place in Misrata," a rebel spokesman called Sami said by telephone.

Britain said it was focusing air strikes around Misrata, which has been under siege from government forces for weeks. Rebels say snipers and tank fire have killed dozens of people.

About 1,000 people are believed to have been killed in clashes between supporters and opponents of Gaddafi since the uprising against his 41-year-old rule began on February 17, the British government said.

The rag-tag forces fighting Gaddafi say they desperately need more arms and ammunition to supplement supplies grabbed from government depots. The United States, France and Britain have raised the possibility, but say no decision has been taken.

NATO, which took over formal command of the air campaign on Thursday, said it would enforce a U.N. arms embargo on all sides: "We are there to protect the Libyan people, not to arm the people," NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in Stockholm.

More Western military help may strengthen the rebels on the battlefield but at the price of a propaganda boost for Gaddafi, quick to portray his foes as lackeys of the West.

Rebels driven back by a hail of rocket fire to a spot outside the eastern oil town of Brega, where there were clashes at dawn, were keen to stress they would fight on with or without Western help, despite their military setback this week.

"God willing there will be more air strikes today, but we will advance no matter what," said Muneim Mustafa, a fighter with an AK-47 rifle slung over his shoulder.


They were also wary of any attempt by Koussa to negotiate immunity, saying Gaddafi and his entourage must be held accountable: "We want to see them brought to justice," senior rebel national council official Abdel Hameed Ghoga told Reuters.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Koussa was not being offered immunity but encouraged others around Gaddafi to follow suit. "Gaddafi must be asking himself who will be the next to abandon him," he told a news conference.

That question was answered soon afterwards when former Libyan foreign minister Ali Abdussalam Treki -- appointed by Gaddafi to replace his U.N. ambassador, who defected in February -- refused to take up the job.

Treki condemned the "spilling of blood," his nephew said in a statement send to Reuters.

While British officials hope Koussa will provide military and diplomatic intelligence, Scottish officials and campaigners want him to shed light on the 1988 Pan Am airliner bombing over Lockerbie in Scotland, which killed 259 people, mostly Americans, on the plane and 11 on the ground.

Pamela Dix, whose brother was among those killed said if Libya was responsible for Lockerbie then Koussa was too, adding: "he should not be a free man in this country.

Analysts agree Koussa's defection is significant but note Gaddafi's inner circle consists of family members who may resort to more violence to stay in power.

A government spokesman said Gaddafi and all his sons would stay "until the end."

Libya's top oil official said on Thursday he remained in Tripoli and the country was continuing to produce some oil, although output was much reduced. Shipping industry sources say oil shipments from Libya are at a standstill.

Gates said Gaddafi's removal was "not part of the military mission" by coalition forces and Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Western military action would not oust him.

"It is not through actions of war that we can make Gaddafi leave, but rather through strong international pressure to encourage defections by people close to him," Frattini said.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Obama - We will not arm the rebels. Hillary - We will not arm the rebels. Obama - arms the rebels

Regime change?  For over five years we heard this idiotic chant from the fringe left and fringe right - that we couldn't and that Bush did not have the authority for war, let alone regime change. 

Libya is not and was not a national concern for the US - not in our security interests nor even on our horizon as a threat.  After Bush invaded Iraq, Kaddafi called Bush up and told him he was renouncing the use and possession of all bad things and to come and get them.  We did.  Yet Obama is pretending he can manage something bigger than his family dinner - and it is failing due to the messages coming from our government.

Messages like - we will not arm the rebels (who are, in part, al qaida and when they finish with Kaddafi, will turn on us).

Hillary just got through saying NO! we will not arm the rebels.  And Obama had all along been planning on it - even while he told the American people otherwise.

Clinton says "no decision" on arming Libyan rebels

Reuters – March 30, 2011

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday that no decision had been made by the Obama administration on whether to arm rebels fighting Muammar Gaddafi's forces in Libya.

"No decision," Clinton said to reporters at the Capitol after one of them asked her whether any decision had been made to arm Libyan rebels. She spoke as she was leaving a briefing on Libya that she and other senior U.S. officials provided to members of the House of Representatives.

Talk about conflicting statements.  I would not be surprised if Hillary quits.

Obama authorizes secret support for Libya rebels

By Mark Hosenball

Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:08pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing covert U.S. government support for rebel forces seeking to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, government officials told Reuters on Wednesday.

Obama signed the order, known as a presidential "finding", within the last two or three weeks, according to four U.S. government sources familiar with the matter.

Such findings are a principal form of presidential directive used to authorize secret operations by the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA and the White House declined immediate comment.

News that Obama had given the authorization surfaced as the President and other U.S. and allied officials spoke openly about the possibility of sending arms supplies to Gaddafi's opponents, who are fighting better-equipped government forces.

The United States is part of a coalition, with NATO members and some Arab states, which is conducting air strikes on Libyan government forces under a U.N. mandate aimed at protecting civilians opposing Gaddafi.

In interviews with American TV networks on Tuesday, Obama said the objective was for Gaddafi to "ultimately step down" from power. He spoke of applying "steady pressure, not only militarily but also through these other means" to force Gaddafi out.

Obama said the U.S. had not ruled out providing military hardware to rebels. "It's fair to say that if we wanted to get weapons into Libya, we probably could. We're looking at all our options at this point," the President told ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer.

U.S. officials monitoring events in Libya say that at present, neither Gaddafi's forces nor the rebels, who have asked the West for heavy weapons, appear able to make decisive gains.

While U.S. and allied airstrikes have seriously damaged Gaddafi's military forces and disrupted his chain of command, officials say, rebel forces remain disorganized and unable to take full advantage of western military support.


People familiar with U.S. intelligence procedures said that Presidential covert action "findings" are normally crafted to provide broad authorization for a range of potential U.S. government actions to support a particular covert objective.

In order for specific operations to be carried out under the provisions of such a broad authorization -- for example the delivery of cash or weapons to anti-Gaddafi forces -- the White House also would have to give additional "permission" allowing such activities to proceed.

Former officials say these follow-up authorizations are known in the intelligence world as "'Mother may I' findings."

In 2009 Obama gave a similar authorization for the expansion of covert U.S. counter-terrorism actions by the CIA in Yemen. The White House does not normally confirm such orders have been issued.

Because U.S. and allied intelligence agencies still have many questions about the identities and leadership of anti-Gaddafi forces, any covert U.S. activities are likely to proceed cautiously until more information about the rebels can be collected and analyzed, officials said.
"The whole issue on (providing rebels with) training and equipment requires knowing who the rebels are," said Bruce Riedel, a former senior CIA Middle East expert who has advised the Obama White House.

Riedel said that helping the rebels to organize themselves and training them how use weapons effectively would be more urgent then shipping them arms.

According to an article speculating on possible U.S. covert actions in Libya published early in March on the website of the Voice of America, the U.S. government's broadcasting service, a covert action is "any U.S. government effort to change the economic, military, or political situation overseas in a hidden way."


The article, by VOA intelligence correspondent Gary Thomas, said covert action "can encompass many things, including propaganda, covert funding, electoral manipulation, arming and training insurgents, and even encouraging a coup."

U.S. officials also have said that Saudi Arabia and Qatar, whose leaders despise Gaddafi, have indicated a willingness to supply Libyan rebels with weapons.

Members of Congress have expressed anxiety about U.S. government activities in Libya. Some have recalled that weapons provided by the U.S. and Saudis to mujahedeen fighting Soviet occupation forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s later ended up in the hands of anti-American militants.

There are fears that the same thing could happen in Libya unless the U.S. is sure who it is dealing with. The chairman of the House intelligence committee, Rep. Mike Rogers, said on Wednesday he opposed supplying arms to the Libyan rebels fighting Gaddafi "at this time."

"We need to understand more about the opposition before I would support passing out guns and advanced weapons to them," Rogers said in a statement.


Kids who are Geniuses

After miserable parents and bad behavior, being told America is falling behind in science and math ... comes this kid who is amazing.

Genius at work: 12-year-old is studying at IUPUI

9:32 PM, Mar. 19, 2011
Dan McFeely

Jake taught himself algebra, geometry, trigonometry and calculus in 2 weeks.

He's studying physics at IUPUI.

He's 12.

He can solve pi to 200 digits.

When Jacob Barnett first learned about the Schrödinger equation for quantum mechanics, he could hardly contain himself.

For three straight days, his little brain buzzed with mathematical functions.

From within his 12-year-old, mildly autistic mind, there gradually flowed long strings of pluses, minuses, funky letters and upside-down triangles -- a tapestry of complicated symbols that few can understand.

He grabbed his pencil and filled every sheet of paper before grabbing a marker and filling up a dry erase board that hangs in his bedroom. With a single-minded obsession, he kept on, eventually marking up every window in the home.

Strange, say some.

Genius, say others.

But entirely normal for Jacob, a child prodigy who used to crunch his cereal while calculating the volume of the cereal box in his head.

"Whenever I try talking about math with anyone in my family," he said, "they just stare blankly."

So do many of his older classmates at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, who marvel at seeing this scrawny little kid in the front row of the calculus-based physics class he has been taking this semester.

"When I first walked in and saw him, I thought, 'Oh my God, I'm going to school with Doogie Howser,' " said Wanda Anderson, a biochemistry major, referring to a television show that featured a 16-year-old boy-genius physician.

Elementary school couldn't keep Jacob interested. And courses at IUPUI have only served to awaken a sleeping giant.

Just a few weeks shy of his 13th birthday, Jake, as he's often called, is starting to move beyond the level of what his professors can teach.

In fact, his work is so strong and his ideas so original that he's being courted by a top-notch East Coast research center. IUPUI is interested in him moving from the classroom into a funded researcher's position.

"We have told him that after this semester . . . enough of the book work. You are here to do some science," said IUPUI physics Professor John Ross, who vows to help find some grant funding to support Jake and his work.

"If we can get all of those creative juices in a certain direction, we might be able to see some really amazing stuff down the road."

"My fear was that he would never be in our world"

Teenage college student?

Developer of his own original theory on quantum physics?

Paid researcher at 13?

This is not what Jake's parents expected from a child whose first few years were spent in silence.

"Oh my gosh, when he was 2, my fear was that he would never be in our world at all," said Kristine Barnett, 36, Jake's mother.

"He would not talk to anyone. He would not even look at us."

Child psychologists assessed Jake at the time and diagnosed behavioral characteristics of a borderline autistic child. He was impaired, they said, and had a lack of "spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment," difficulty showing emotion and interacting with others.

Diagnosis: mildly autistic.

"My biggest fear," his mom said last week, with tears welling up in her eyes, "was that he had lost the ability to say, 'I love you' to us."

By age 3, Jake was the focus of a more intense evaluation from a team of psychologists, therapists and a diagnostic teacher.

Their report indicated that while Jake continued to struggle with social activities and physical development, he was showing signs of academic skills that were above his age level.

Diagnosis: Asperger's syndrome, a somewhat milder condition related to autism.

After hearing this, Jake's parents decided to pay closer attention to the things their first-born son was doing -- rather than the things he was not.

For example, Jake often recited the alphabet -- forward and then backward. He used Q-tips to create vivid geometrical shapes on the living room floor. He solved 5,000-piece puzzles (rather quickly). And he once soaked in a state road map and ended up memorizing every highway and license plate prefix.

And perhaps most amazingly, he could recite the mathematical constant pi out to 70 digits.

"I'm at 98 now," Jake said, interrupting his mom during an interview.

And then, a week later, he was up to 200 digits after the decimal point -- forward and backward.

At 3, his head was in the stars

The Barnetts decided it was time to follow Jake's lead, adopting a method that some parents of children with autism use -- floor-time therapy -- to help foster developmental growth. They let their children focus intently on subjects they like, rather than trying to conform them to "normal" things.

For Jake, that meant astronomy. As a 3-year-old, he loved looking at a book about stars, over and over again.

So off they went on a tour of the Holcomb Observatory and Planetarium at Butler University.

Kristine Barnett will never forget the day.

"We were in the crowd, just sitting, listening to this guy ask the crowd if anyone knew why the moons going around Mars were potato-shaped and not round," she recalls. "Jacob raised his hand and said, 'Excuse me, but what are the sizes of the moons around Mars?' "

The lecturer answered, and "Jacob looked at him and said the gravity of the planet . . . is so large that (the moon's) gravity would not be able to pull it into a round shape."


"That entire building . . . everyone was just looking at him, like, 'Who is this 3-year-old?' "

After that, the Barnetts began to feed Jake's hunger for knowledge, through more books and more visits to the planetarium. By the time he was 8, he got permission to sit in on an advanced astronomy class at IUPUI.

Meanwhile, his math skills were reaching astronomical levels.

By the time he was in fifth grade, Jake had become bored with elementary math. He was a student, first at Carey Ridge Elementary School and then at Westfield Intermediate School, an experience he now says he enjoyed for a while.

"The first couple of years were great, but then eventually the math started being, like, OK, we've been discussing this for a while, and it really isn't that hard," Jake said. "Can I move on to calculus now? Can I move on to algebra now?"

The boredom did not go unnoticed at home. Jake was coming home from school quiet, huddling in a safe space in the house and starting to show signs of withdrawing.

"I was really afraid we were going to lose him back into the world he was in when he was 2," his mom said.

Frank Lawlis, a Texas-based psychologist who serves as a testing supervisor for the American Mensa organization -- a society for geniuses -- said it would not have been unusual for a child with symptoms of autism to regress backward after a brief time of growth.

"One of the aspects of autism is that these kids' brains grow at an accelerated rate and then, generally speaking, there is kind of a reversal that happens," said Lawlis, who last year wrote "The Autism Answer," a book for parents of children with autism.

"The theory is that the brain reaches a certain capacity, can't grow, becomes inflamed, and then a reversal effect occurs. It's just a theory, but it's very common."

That did not happen to Jake, thanks in part to a third psychological evaluation done nearly two years ago. It showed that this fifth-grader was not regressing but was simply bored and needed to be stimulated -- in a very big way.

As in dropping out of school.

"Indeed, it would not be in Jacob's best interest to force him to complete academic work that he has already mastered," clinical neurophysiologist Carl S. Hale, Merrillville, said in a report provided by the Barnetts.

"He needs work at an instructional level, which currently is a post college graduate level in mathematics, i.e., a post master's degree. In essence, his math skills are at the level found in someone who is working on a doctorate in math, physics, astronomy and astrophysics."

The Barnetts were blown away. They knew Jake was smart, but doctorate-level smart?

"I flunked math," Kristine said with a laugh. "I know this did not come from me."

Off to college, where he tutors classmates

Encouraged by this new assessment, the Barnetts made the tough decision to pull Jake out of Westfield Washington Schools and enroll him in IUPUI's early college entrance program that caters to gifted and talented kids -- although typically they are advanced high school students, not 12-year-old whiz kids.

As he prepared for the more rigorous work of a college class, Jake decided he ought to make sure he could master all high school-level math that would be required in college.

"In one two-week period, he sat on our front porch and learned all of his high school math," Kristine said. "He tested out of algebra 1 and 2, geometry, trigonometry and calculus."

At this point, Jake's math IQ -- which has been measured at 170 (top of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children) -- could not get any higher.

"You could tell right off the bat, his performance has been outstanding," said Ross, who, at age 46 with a Ph.D. from Boston University, has never seen a kid as smart as Jake.

"When he asks a question, he is always two steps ahead of the lecture," Ross said. "Everyone in the class gets quiet. Poor kid. . . . He sits right in the front row, and they all just look at him.

"He will come to see me during office hours and ask even more detailed questions. And you can tell he's been thinking these things through."

Jake is driven by Mom or Dad from his home in Hamilton County to IUPUI's campus, where he attends classes a few days each week. In between classes, he spends time at the Honors College lounge, where he has become a go-to guy for much older classmates needing tutoring.

"A lot of people come to him for help when they don't understand a physics problem," said Anderson, his class partner. "People come up to him all the time and say, 'Hey Jake, can you help me?' "

"A lot of people think a genius is hard to talk to, but Jake explains things that would still be over their head."

His professor has noticed.

"Is he a genius? Well, yeah," Ross said. "Kids his age would normally have problems adding fractions, and he is helping out some of his fellow students."

If Jake stays on track, Ross could see him working someday at a government lab or an observatory. Maybe he'll be a professor or a highly respected researcher.

"He can do anything he wants."

A normal boy, except for the numbers

Despite this new experience, his parents insist that Jake remain close with his friends in Westfield. Social activity is important, they know.

For Jake, life is not all centered on math and astrophysics.

He also likes playing video games. ("Guitar Hero" and "Halo: Reach" are his current favorites.) He plays basketball with friends, has a girlfriend and recently attended his first dance.

He likes music -- classical, which he plays by memory on a piano, but he also plays some contemporary songs he hears on the radio. He loves sci-fi movies and the Disney Channel. He watches documentaries on the History Channel.

A normal kid.

But then, late at night, when the TV is off, the homework is done and everyone in the house is sleeping, the numbers start to percolate again.

They percolate so much that he has trouble sleeping. His parents got so worried a few years ago that they took him for medical tests, but no malady was diagnosed. He just can't fall asleep easily.

"A lot keeps me awake," Jake said. "I scare people."

The numbers that keep him from snoozing are the same that led him to develop his own theory of physics -- an original work that proposed a "new expanded theory of relativity" and takes what Einstein developed even further.

His mom, still not sure whether her son was truly a genius at work or a kid at play, decided to send a video of Jake explaining his theory to the prestigious Institute for Advanced Study near Princeton University, one of the world's leading centers for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry.

That's where astrophysics Professor Scott Tremaine does his work. Tremaine is one of the world's leading scientists and is an expert in the evolution of planetary systems, comets, black holes, galaxies -- all the stuff Jake really likes.

In a letter to the Barnetts, Tremaine confirmed the brilliance.

"I'm impressed by his interest in physics and the amount that he has learned so far," Tremaine wrote in an email, provided by the family. "The theory that he's working on involves several of the toughest problems in astrophysics and theoretical physics.

"Anyone who solves these will be in line for a Nobel Prize."

He then encouraged Jake to spend as much time as possible to learn more and to further develop his theory.

Contacted by The Indianapolis Star, Tremaine confirmed the exchange of notes.

"I have seen a YouTube video in which Jake describes his theory, and I have spoken with his mother and corresponded with both her and Jake by email," Tremaine said. "I hope that Jake continues his interest in physics and mathematics."

Thinking big is what he does

Meanwhile, Jake is moving on to his next challenge: proving that the big-bang theory, the event some think led to the formation of the universe, is, well, wrong.


He explains.

"There are two different types of when stars end. When the little stars die, it's just like a small poof. They just turn into a planetary nebula. But the big ones, above 1.4 solar masses, blow up in one giant explosion, a supernova," Jake said. "What it does, is, in larger stars there is a larger mass, and it can fuse higher elements because it's more dense."

OK . . . trying to follow you.

"So you get all the elements, all the different materials, from those bigger stars. The little stars, they just make hydrogen and helium, and when they blow up, all the carbon that remains in them is just in the white dwarf; it never really comes off.

"So, um, in the big-bang theory, what they do is, there is this big explosion and there is all this temperature going off and the temperature decreases really rapidly because it's really big. The other day I calculated, they have this period where they suppose the hydrogen and helium were created, and, um, I don't care about the hydrogen and helium, but I thought, wouldn't there have to be some sort of carbon?"

He could go on and on.

And he did.

"Otherwise, the carbon would have to be coming out of the stars and hence the Earth, made mostly of carbon, we wouldn't be here. So I calculated, the time it would take to create 2 percent of the carbon in the universe, it would actually have to be several micro-seconds. Or a couple of nano-seconds, or something like that. An extremely small period of time. Like faster than a snap. That isn't gonna happen."

"Because of that," he continued, "that means that the world would have never been created because none of the carbon would have been given 7 billion years to fuse together. We'd have to be 21 billion years old . . . and that would just screw everything up."

So, we had to ask.

If not the big bang, then how did the universe come about?

"I'm still working on that," he said. "I have an idea, but . . . I'm still working out the details."


Achieving Your Goals in Life: By Age 30

Like Carnegie and the Gospel of Wealth - you too can be like me, rich.  Paris has achieved all she has by age 30.  So many a close examination is in order - how did she do it.

Money, money, money, a bad sex tape, money, and aim very low and you will surely achieve all you want by age 30.

Paris: I've Achieved All My Career Goals

How nice for her

By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 30, 2011 10:16 AM CDT

(Newser) – Well, isn’t this nice? In a new interview with the AP, Paris Hilton says she has achieved all her professional goals, by the ripe old age of 30. "I have done everything that I wanted to do and I feel very blessed that I have been very successful on every area," she says. "So it's very exciting. There is nothing else to do.” Of course, that doesn’t mean she’s resting on her laurels; she has a new shoe collection out, a new reality show, and she says she wants to get into the real estate business.

useless people


There are no words.  I honestly have hoped that as bad as some people are in the US (Jerry Spreneger guests), that somehow we are not as bad as everyone else, and then comes an article like this.

The father should behave like a father.   The age gap isn't an issue, but one might wonder (and I think we can assume correctly) if he has other children by another woman or two.  Multiple children and one who will become his wife ... sort of like the Pharaohs of Egypt. 

The daughter stated she went to a therapist - from reading, it seemed like she went BEFORE she met the father, for if she went AFTER (when she was pregnant - the point would be mute wouldn't it). 

And while those are serious issues, Cathy Hayes, the staff writer of the article - used a phrase 'she fell pregnant' (referring to the Irish woman's mother) ... 'fell pregnant' ... I do't think you fall and get pregnant nor do you fall pregnant as you fall ill. 

Irish woman carrying her father’s child claims they’re in love

ByCATHY HAYES Staff Writer
Thursday, March 24, 2011

Last year Penny Lawrence (28) tracked down her long-lost father Garry Ryan (46). Lawrence is now pregnant with his child and claims to be in love with her father.

Garry Ryan was born in Dublin but moved to the US with his family when he was two. Lawrence's mother met him, fell pregnant but Ryan left before the child was born. Her rmother returned to Ireland.

When Lawrence was four and living back in Ireland her mother died and her maternal grandparents raised her. They died when she was 18-years-old.

Lawrence then became fixated on finding her only remaining relative, her father. Last year she found him in Houston, Texas.

After several daily phone calls she flew to America to surprise him.

Ryan said that the pair felt an instant physical attraction and they soon began a relationship. Lawrence is now pregnant with his child.

Their situation they say can be accounted for by Genetic Sexual Attraction, a term which has been used since the 1980s to describe feelings of attraction between blood relatives who meet first as adults. There is a theory that humans are attracted to faces similar to their own. Also not meeting until both are adults means that normal sexual taboo between relatives has not had time to develop.

Speaking to the Irish Sun Newspaper Lawrence said "We are not committing incest, but are victims of GSA. We’ve never experienced a father-daughter relationship, so we’re just like any other strangers who meet in adulthood."

Lawrence revealed that her three month scan showed no defects. The couple now plan to proceed with the pregnancy and set up a home together.

They say they do realize that their relationship is illegal and are now afraid that they will be ordered apart by the courts.

He said "It’s no different than if I met Penny in a bar. I’d have fallen for her as I have now. It doesn’t feel like we are doing anything wrong."

Ryan explained his situation when he left Penny’s mother.

He said "I was an 18-year-old kid and when Angela told me she was pregnant I wanted to do the right thing. We decided to get married but Angela’s parents disapproved of the relationship and didn’t want me around."

Lawrence said her therapist had warned her about GSA. She said "I did some research into it. I was stunned that some brothers and sisters, daughters and dads and mothers and sons were actually living happily as man and wife."

However there is a lack of an actual medical and psychological definition and acknowledgement of GSA. As Ryan points out "GSA isn't recognized in court."

bad things

China: Force is never the answer (unless we are the ones using force)

Hu is so right.  History has shown that force ... is very often the answer Mr. Hu.  That point aside, China operates on the same premise - force is necessary to hold on to what it has.  If you didn't use force Mr. Hu, you would be in prison, China would not be raping Africa nor South America, China would not be instigating Middle East problems, and China would be democratic.  And Mr. Hu, when you are in a quiet place, alone, thinking about how things could be different - you know I am right.

China's Hu tells Sarkozy dialogue way out of Libya crisis

Wed Mar 30, 2011 7:35am EDT

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese President Hu Jintao told visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday that the crisis in Libya can be solved only through dialogue, not force.

"History has repeatedly proved that the use of force is not an answer to problems," Hu told Sarkozy in Beijing, according to Chinese state television news.

"Dialogue and other peaceful means are the ultimate solution to problems," said Hu in their talks about Libya.

China abstained from the United Nations Security Council vote that authorized a no-fly zone in Libya and military action against the forces of Muammar Gaddafi. But since then Beijing has accused Western countries of overreaching in their campaign against Gaddafi.



Woman uses 5-year-old son as shield against Taser

By CNI staff
March 30, 2011 11:00 a.m.

A domestic dispute that boiled over at a business led to a woman being arrested for disorderly conduct after she used her son as a shield against being Tasered.

According to Glendale police:

A 36-year-old Milwaukee woman was arrested for disorderly conduct/domestic violence at the service area at Andrew Toyota, 1620 W. Silver Spring Drive, at 12:15 p.m. March 24.

When police arrived, the woman was holding the hand of her 5-year-old son while shaking her finger in the face of her boyfriend, an employee of Andrew, while yelling, “Give me my weed back!” She also wanted her keys back.

The boyfriend, a 28-year-old Milwaukee man, gave her the keys but denied to her and police that he had her $5 bag of marijuana. She struggled with police, refused to give her name and held her son in front of her to avoid being Tasered.

The boyfriend, who is not the 5-year-old’s father, said the two had been living together for three months, but when asked what the woman’s last name was said he wasn’t sure.

He also said he didn’t want her arrested but police told him they had no choice because she hit him with an open hand and pushed him several times.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Obama and Testing

MANY of the education laws, on a federal level, were crafted by or in part with the help of Ted Kennedy.  A large portion of these laws was enacted under President Bush - and these laws, according to Obama are too tedious.  Perhaps students should eb graded on their fun activities - like Facebook or hooking up.  Perhaps we should suspend testing and give students self-evaluations as to whether they have learned anything ... perhaps Obama should refrain from further demonstrating why he should have remained in the Illinois legislature.

Obama says too much testing makes education boring

By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press
Mon Mar 28, 2:16 pm ET

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama said Monday that students should take fewer standardized tests and school performance should be measured in other ways. Too much testing makes education boring for kids, he said.

"Too often what we have been doing is using these tests to punish students," the president told students and parents at a town hall hosted by the Univision Spanish-language television network at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington, D.C.

Obama, who is pushing a rewrite of the nation's education law that would ease some of its rigid measurement tools, said policymakers should find a test that "everybody agrees makes sense" and administer it in less pressure-packed atmospheres, potentially every few years instead of annually.

At the same time, Obama said, schools should be judged on criteria other than student test performance, including attendance rate.

"One thing I never want to see happen is schools that are just teaching the test because then you're not learning about the world, you're not learning about different cultures, you're not learning about science, you're not learning about math," the president said. "All you're learning about is how to fill out a little bubble on an exam and little tricks that you need to do in order to take a test and that's not going to make education interesting."

"And young people do well in stuff that they're interested in," Obama said. "They're not going to do as well if it's boring."

The president endorsed the occasional administering of standardized tests to determine a "baseline" of student ability. He said his daughters Sasha, 9, and Malia, 12, recently took a standardized test that didn't require advance preparation but was just used as a tool to diagnose their strengths and weaknesses, and areas where they could use more emphasis from teachers. The girls attend the private Sidwell Friends School in Washington.

Obama, who has been pushing his education agenda all month, has expressed concern that too many schools will be unable to meet annual proficiency standards under the No Child Left Behind law this year. The standards are aimed at getting 100 percent of students proficient in math, reading and science by 2014, a goal now widely seen as unrealistic.

The Obama administration has proposed replacing those standards with a loftier yet less prescriptive requirement that by 2020 all students graduating from high school should be ready for college or a career.

Obama wants Congress to send him a rewrite of the 2001 law before the start of a new school year this fall. Although his education secretary, Arne Duncan, has been working hard with lawmakers of both parties, the deadline may be unrealistic with Congress focused on the budget and the economy. Congressional Republicans also look unwilling to sign off on Obama's plans to increase spending on education.


Cars and Stuff

VW Recalls Jettas for Horn Glitch That Turns Off Car

Glitch could affect 71,000 cars By Kevin Spak, Newser Staff

Mar 28, 2011

(Newser) – Imagine this scenario: You're on the highway, someone cuts you off, you slam your horn in frustration—and suddenly your car turns off. That scenario is indeed possible if you own a 2011 Jetta; Volkswagen has recalled roughly 71,000 of the cars after finding a glitch that, in rare circumstances, could cause them to short circuit when the driver honks, CNN reports. VW says it's not aware of any accidents resulting from this, but it's recalling all Jettas built since March 2010 just to be safe.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I will tell you what you need to know, otherwise don't ask.

They don't need to know, they don't need to do anything unless they believe it is in our best interests.

Golfing, Rio - out of touch?  No, out of this world.

On question of Japan and a nuclear meltdown occuring at several locations ...

JAKE TAPPER, ABC NEWS: "What is going on over there right now? We have not heard the latest information from the NRC or the Japanese government and apparently there has been something that has happened in the last few hours."

CARNEY, WH Press Secretary: "Well, it is clearly a crisis. There is clearly --"

TAPPER: "-- what is specifically going on?"

CARNEY: "Again, I am standing here at the White House, I think you have reporters in Japan, you have reporters including ones here that could get the technical detailed information on what we know from the NRC, from the Department of Energy --"

"It's up to the media, not the government?" Tapper asked in response to Carney dismissing his question.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Arabs: Implement a No Fly Zone, quickly. Obama: I will take it under consideration but it doesn't seem useful. Lets keep with the sanctions.

For Kaddafi, Chavez, Amindinejad, and other despotic tyrants - reality never sits well.  Within the West, we can probably locate people who live well and free, yet believe the idiotic nonsense that flows from the mouths of these imbeciles - that the US or Britain or The West is behind all the unrest.

If so, then the US is behind convincing the Arab league to request the West implement a no-fly zone over Libya.  Mighty powerful we are.  Except we can't seem to convince the Arab states, several of whom have control of much of the worlds oil - to lower their prices.

Can't do that, but we can convince them to allow the West to provide a no-fly zone.

Arab League asks for no-fly zone over Libya

By DIAA HADID, Associated Press
March 12, 2011

.CAIRO – The Arab League asked the U.N. Security Council Saturday to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians from air attack by forces of Moammar Gadhafi's embattled government, giving crucial backing to a key demand of the rebel forces battling to oust the Libyan leader.

Foreign ministers from the 22-member Arab bloc, meeting in Cairo, also left the Libyan leader of more than 40 years increasingly isolated, declaring his government had "lost its sovereignty."

They also appeared to confer legitimacy on the rebel's interim government, the National Libyan Council, saying they would establish contacts with it and calling on nations to provide it with "urgent help."

"The Arab League asks the United Nations to shoulder its responsibility ... to impose a no-fly zone over the movement of Libyan military planes and to create safe zones in the places vulnerable to airstrikes," said a League statement released after the emergency session.

The unusually rapid and bold action for a bloc of nations known for lengthy and acrimonious deliberations appeared to reflect the shifting currents of a Middle East in tumult. Many other Arab governments are facing street protests and rumblings of dissent stirred by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, and their leaders may have felt compelled to act in favor of Libya's rebellion.

League Secretary-General Amr Moussa stressed in remarks afterward that a no-fly zone was intended as a humanitarian measure to protect Libyan civilians and foreigners in the country and not as a military intervention.

That stance appeared meant to win over the deeply Arab nationalist government of Syria, which has smarted against foreign intervention into Arab affairs.

The statement said the Arab League rejected "all kinds of foreign intervention" in Libya but warned that "not taking the necessary action to end the crisis will lead to intervention in Libya's foreign affairs."

The Arab League cannot impose a no-fly zone itself. But the approval of the key regional Arab body gives the U.S. and other Western powers crucial regional backing they say they need before doing so. Many were weary that Western powers would be seen as intervening in the affairs of an Arab country if they began a no-fly zone without Arab approval.

Still, the Obama administration has said a no-fly zone may have limited impact, and the international community is divided over the issue. 

(Versus sanctions which accomplish: NOTHING against Iran, NOTHING against Iraq, and NOTHING against North Korea, but otherwise they kust work well for Obama to prefer them.)

Moussa said the League would immediately inform the U.N. of its call.

Backing the rebel's political leadership, the League statement said it had faced "grievous violations and serious crimes by the Libyan authorities, which have lost their sovereignty."

It remained to be seen if any Arab forces would participate in air patrols in support of a no-fly zone.

The League's decision comes hours before the European Union's policy chief is set to arrive in Cairo to meet with the Arab bloc's leaders to discuss the situation in Libya.

Catherine Ashton said she hoped to discuss a "collaborative approach" with Arab League chief Moussa on Libya and the rest of the region.

Ashton said it was necessary to evaluate how effective economic sanctions imposed on Gadhafi's regime had been so far and that she was "keeping all options moving forward" regarding any additional measures.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle welcomed the EU's "very cautious" stance on possible military intervention.

"We do not want to be drawn into a war in north Africa — we should have learned from the events in and surrounding Iraq," Westerwelle said.

"It is very important that the impression doesn't arise that this is a conflict of the West against the Arab world or a Christian crusade against people of Muslim faith."

Friday, March 11, 2011

Unions: Always Protecting Life

The left - so calm, so peaceful - they don't want anyone on the right to own guns, and would ban groups like the tea-party for being an impetus for hate.

So what explains their problem - why is the hate always from the left - and when it arrives, it comes in death threats!!

18 Republican senators from Wisconsin report getting death threats after passing bill to end collective bargaining for most public workers

Mar. 11, 2011

SHEBOYGAN — State Sens. Joe Leibham and Glenn Grothman said they are among as many as 18 Republican senators who received a death threat following their votes to eliminate most collective bargaining powers for public workers.

The threat was sent in an e-mail late Wednesday with the subject, "Death threat!!!! Bomb!!!!" according to a copy of the letter released by Grothman's office. The e-mail also was addressed to Sen. Pam Galloway, R-Wausau.

Grothman, R-West Bend, said the e-mail is the latest example of "a new height in incivility." He said in recent weeks he has received obscene phone calls at all hours of the night, been jostled at the Capitol and has been shouted down during interviews.

"This is another example of the anger which is being spewed by the government unions," Grothman said. "This has been all about intimidating … Republican legislators into bowing to the public unions, and it has only steeled our resolve."

Grothman said he is hesitant to completely disregard the threat given the volatile atmosphere in Madison. A note shoved under his door Wednesday night said, "The only good Republican is a dead



We tend not to think about it, but we do, daily - we tell ourselves that on any given day it could happen, but we don't do much more than superficially contemplate the event, rather than say, the after effects.

It has been over 16 years since we had a large earthquake.  It doesn't seem like it yet it does, all at the same time, in an odd way.  1994 - 16 = 1977-78.  We surely had several quakes between 1977-78 and 1994, yet we have had none (of any notice).

16+ years


Imagine if Bush had masticated the name as badly as Biden. Imagine. And then imagine if equal treatment were rendered. Imagine.

He masticates names on a regular basis, changes words, and then makes up other words - quite frequently.

Biden urges justice for Khodor... um... Kovinsky!

(AFP) – 23 hours ago

MOSCOW — Known for sometime sticking his foot in his mouth, US Vice President Joe Biden delivered another trademark gaffe Thursday by mangling the name of Russia's most famous prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

In a somber 40-minute address to Moscow State University students that generated more giggles than rounds of applause, Biden tried to bash Russia for putting Khodorkovsky behind bars on what many believe are politically motivated charges.

At least that was the intent.

What came out was one of the more sensitive moments in recent Russia-US relations in which the entire hall seemed ready to help the desperately struggling US vice president pronounce Khodorkovsky's name.

"Over the past few months our administration has spoken out against allegations of misconduct in the trial of... of, uh... the, um... excuse me... Khodor... Kovinsky," said Biden, almost barking out the last word.

But Biden recovered quickly, adding a self-depreciating joke that instantly endeared him to the crowd.

"You can tell I did not do very well in Russian," Biden said sheepishly.

But Biden closed on a rousing note, generating his first and only applause of the night by saying that he had no intention of hiding his displeasure over Khodorkovsky's treatment and other alleged rights abuses.

"Some of you may say, well how can you say those things outloud, mister vice president, and expect a better relationship. They are necessary, to have a good relationship," Biden said, getting his only applause of the night.

In jail since 2003 for fraud and tax evasion, a Moscow court in December extended the former Yukos oil executive's sentence until 2017 after also finding Khodorkovsky guilty of money laundering and embezzlement.

good old joe

Thursday, March 10, 2011

France: Sarkozy has made a decision, taken leadership on Libya (Obama still not sure what to do)

France formally recognises Libyan rebels' authority

By News Wires the 10/03/2011 - 12:15

AP - Libya’s opposition battled for military and diplomatic advantage against Moammar Gadhafi’s embattled regime on Thursday, winning official recognition from France and hitting government forces with heavy weapons on the road to the capital.

France became the first country to formally recognize the rebels’ newly created Interim Governing Council, saying it planned to exchange ambassadors after President Nicolas Sarkozy met with two representatives of the group based in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.

The international Red Cross said dozens of civilians have been wounded or killed in recent days in grueling battles between Gadhafi’s army and the opposition movement trying to oust him.

The fighting intensified on the main front line between the Mediterranean oil port of Ras Lanouf and the city of Bin Jawwad, where the rebels appeared to be have established better supply lines bringing heavy weapons like multiple-rocket launcher trucks and small tanks to the battle.

Youssef Fittori, a major in the opposition force, said a mix of defectors from Gadhafi’s special forces and civilain rebels were fighting government forces about 12 miles west of Ras Lanouf on the main coastal road to Bin Jawwad.

“Today, God willing, we will take Bin Jawwad. We are moving forward,” he said.

Red Cross President Jakob Kellenberger said local doctors over the past few days saw a sharp increase in casualties arriving at hospitals in Ajdabiya, in the rebel-held east, and Misrata, in government territory.

Both places saw heavy fighting and air strikes, he said.

Kellenberger said 40 patients were treated for serious injuries in Misrata and 22 dead were taken there.

He said the Red Cross surgical team in Ajdabiya operated on 55 wounded over the past week and “civilians are bearing the brunt of the violence.”

He said the aid organization is cut off from access in western areas including Tripoli but believes those are “even more severely affected by the fighting” than eastern rebel-held territories.

Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo reported Thursday that it lost direct contact a week ago with its correspondent who was covering the unrest in Libya, and the paper said it feared he had been taken prisoner along with another unnamed journalist and a Libyan guide.

The newspaper, one of Brazil’s largest, said it had been receiving until Sunday what it characterized as “indirect information” indicating Andrei Netto was alright in the region of Zawiya.

But on Wednesday the newspaper said it received information suggesting Netto had been taken prisoner by Libyan government forces, and that a Libyan official said the information was “probably correct.”

Netto entered Libya on Feb. 19 from the border with Tunisia and worked his way toward Zawiya, the newspaper said. He is the publication’s Paris correspondent.

Brazil’s government, its embassy in Libya, the Red Cross and other groups are trying to find out more about Netto and to determine he is safe, the newspaper said.


Lies my Reopresentative told me: Dems and Reps - we will cut the budget (is it meaningful for you yet)

Deficit for Fiscal 2007 Slides.

By topeditor
October 5, 2007, 6:32 PM ET.

It’s all in the surge – the revenue surge, that is.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated Friday that the U.S. federal budget deficit for fiscal year 2007, which ended Sunday, was about $161 billion, or 1.2% of gross domestic product. That’s down from the $248 billion shortfall recorded in fiscal 2006, which translated into 1.9% of GDP. The Treasury Department will report the official tally later this month.

Much of the improvement in the nation’s fiscal outlook in the last year has come from continued rapid growth in federal revenue. CBO estimates that 18.8% of GDP in fiscal 2007, up from 18.4% 2006 and 16.3% in 2004 and 18.4% in 2000. Outlays came to an estimated 20% of GDP, about equal to the average over the previous five years.

While annual federal spending grew 2.8% in fiscal 2007 over fiscal 2006, year to year, revenue grew 6.7%. Individual income-tax receipts are estimated to be 11.3% higher than last year, and corporate income tax receipts are estimated to be 5% higher. Revenue growth has cooled substantially from the 11.8% fiscal year-to-year increase from 2005 to 2006. Spending growth also slowed.

Federal expenditures were up in fiscal 2006 due to Gulf-coast hurricane recovery efforts. They were driven down in fiscal 2007 by legislation enacted in 2006 cutting student loan subsidies and auctioning off a portion of the broadcast spectrum, proceeds from which are recorded as negative expenditures not as revenues.

“While somewhat lower than estimates issued at the beginning of the year, the 2007 deficit announced today by the Congressional Budget Office is no cause for celebration,” said House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt (D., S.C.)

CBO has estimated that if the U.S. maintains a military presence in Iraq and if Congress doesn’t allow the tax cuts enacted in President George W. Bush’s first term to expire, then recent improvements in the deficit will be reversed, pushing it up to to roughly $300 billion by 2012.


And as bad as that was, and we were told everyday by Democrats how bad it was ....

... it just got worse.


U.S. sets $223B deficit record

Dwarfs Hill’s cutting goals

By Stephen Dinan
The Washington Times
11:46 a.m., Monday, March 7, 2011

The federal government posted its largest monthly deficit in history in February, a $223 billion shortfall that put a sharp point on the current fight on Capitol Hill about how deeply to cut this year's spending.

That one-month figure, which came in a preliminary report from the Congressional Budget Office, dwarfs even the most robust cuts being talked about on the Hill, and underscores just how much work lawmakers have to do to get the government's finances in balance again.

The Senate plans to vote Tuesday on competing proposals to cut spending, but Democrats have rejected GOP-backed cuts of more than $50 billion, and Republicans have ruled out Democrats' cuts of less than $10 billion, meaning neither plan will draw the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster and pass.

"We've all done the math and we all know how these votes will turn out: Neither proposal will pass, which means neither will reach the president's desk as written. We'll go back to square one and back to the negotiating table," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat.

The two sides are facing a March 18 deadline, which is when the current stopgap funding bill expires. Without a new spending agreement by then, the government would shut down.

The House two weeks ago passed a bill that would cut $57 billion more from 2010 spending levels, including major reductions in a number of domestic programs.

Over the weekend, a top Senate Democrat said his party can accept no more than $6 billion in domestic cuts, and pointed to the proposal his colleagues introduced Friday that trims from several areas.

But a new set of numbers from the CBO indicates that Senate Democrats' proposal actually totals only $4.7 billion when measured as reductions compared with the previous year's spending.

So far, budget negotiations have not produced much visible progress.

President Obama designated Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. as his point man in the conversations, and Mr. Biden convened a meeting with congressional leaders last Thursday at the Capitol. But Mr. Biden is traveling in Europe this week on a long-planned trip to meet with foreign leaders

Was it a secret meeting?  Off the record, off the books, in quiet and dark places, or one that was actually transparent?

White House press secretary Jay Carney hinted that Mr. Biden could still participate by phone, but declined to say whether anyone else was taking the lead in the talks in his absence.

"I'm not going to specify, simply to say that a variety of staff members, senior staff members, have been in conversations with folks on the Hill about this," the spokesman said.

Republicans argue that Congress needs to tackle not only short-term spending, but long-term growth in the costs of Social Security and Medicare as well.

"Something must be done, and now is the time to do it. Republicans are ready and willing. Where is the president?" said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican. "Suddenly, at the moment when we can actually do something about all this, he's silent."

According to the CBO, the government has notched a $642 billion deficit for the first five months of fiscal 2011, which is slightly less than last year's pace. Income tax revenues are rising faster than spending, which accounts for the marginally improved picture.

But interest on the debt continues to grow, reaching $101 billion through the end of February — a 12.5 percent increase over 2010.

The nonpartisan CBO's February deficit number is preliminary. The Treasury Department will issue the final number later this week.

February is traditionally a bad month for federal finances. The previous two records were $220.9 billion, posted exactly a year ago, and $193.9 billion in February 2009.


Make Mine Freedom - 1948

American Form of Government

Who's on First? Certainly isn't the Euro.