Monday, February 28, 2011

Not better late than never

The administrator of BP’s $20 billion Gulf oil-spill fund announced new rules Friday on how final payments will be determined in the highly criticized claims process, but the central payment formula remained unchanged from a proposal released earlier this month.

Kenneth Feinberg, the Washington lawyer who oversees the fund, said in a news release he’ll begin making payments based on the rules.

He’s been criticized about the size and pace of payments.

In a democracy, you're suppose to adopt the rules before you commence the process.

That's what's called "due process".

St. Louis losing residents

St. Louis is losing residents, according to U.S. Census figures released Thursday, and the population decline goes deeper than being another blow to the proud city's image.

The drop will mean a financial loss that could cost the already cash-strapped Gateway City millions of dollars.

Figures from the 2010 census were a bitter disappointment, as the city's population dipped to 319,294. That's down more than 29,000 -- a staggering 8 percent -- from 2000. For St. Louis leaders, the news was doubly disappointing because they were expecting to see an increase.

High taxes, high crime, bad public schools, government expenditures on salaries rather than services, high unemployment - - no one should be surprised when any urban area loses population.

Fake identity documents

Twenty-two people have been charged with producing more than 15,000 false documents for illegal immigrants in 11 states and protecting their lucrative turf through kidnappings, beatings and the slaying of a rival, officials said Thursday.

The ring operated in 19 cities and generated more than $1 million over less than two years selling Social Security cards, driver's licenses and work documents at prices ranging from $150 to $200, according to an indictment. The proceeds were wired to the ring's base in Mexico, the indictment said.

The defendants, who are being held in Virginia, are accused of 12 counts, including racketeering, murder, assault, firearms possession, kidnapping, money laundering, and possessing and producing false documents. Most are illegal immigrants from Mexico.

This is why the police should ask for and check the validity of legal identity documents presented by suspicious characters at traffic and criminal stops.

Of course, for some reason, that's considered racist.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Runaway legislators

With Democrats still in Illinois and neither party showing signs of compromise Thursday, the Republican leader of the Indiana House shut down the chamber and said it would remain closed until at least Monday.

The House Democrats' leader said he wasn't sure whether they would return then. The two parties remain in a stand-off over the Republican agenda, which Democrats say is an attack on the middle class. Republicans have refused to drop any of their bills, and Democrats say they won't come back until the GOP agrees to sit down and talk about agenda items.

Texas, Indiana, Wisconsin . . . do any of the Democratic Party's strategists realize that running out of state and shutting down the legislative process loses votes at the next election? People tend not to vote for people who refuse to do their jobs.

Remember Blagojevich?

Prosecutors preparing for the corruption retrial of impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich dropped three of the charges against him Thursday in an attempt to make the case easier for jurors to understand.

Eliminating two racketeering charges and a wire fraud count brings the number of counts Blagojevich will face from 23 to 20 when he is retried in April. Jurors at the first trial complained the case was too complicated, and prosecutors made a bid this week to U.S. District Judge James Zagel to drop some of the counts, saying they duplicated some accusations.

Blagojevich’s attorneys agreed to the request at a hearing Thursday.

Blagojevich, 54, will be retried on charges including that he tried to sell or trade an appointment to President Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat.

It's looking more and more like Blago was railroaded out of office to protect Obama and Emanuel. Fortunately, the truth always, eventually comes out.

The pirates of Somalia

Four Americans taken hostage by Somali pirates off East Africa were shot and killed by their captors today, the US military said, marking the first time US citizens have been killed in a wave of pirate attacks plaguing the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean for years.

US naval forces who were trailing the Americans' captured yacht with four warships quickly boarded the vessel after hearing the gunfire. They tried to provide lifesaving care to the Americans, but they died of their wounds, US Central Command in Tampa, Florida said in a statement. . . .

The Quest was the home of the Adams who had been sailing around the world since December 2004 with a yacht full of Bibles.

Americans have no business in pirate infested waters off the coast of Islamic Somalia . . . distributing Christian Bibles.

It's asking for trouble.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Another victory for open borders

The only terrorist who served prison time for the 1985 attack on Rome's airport that killed 16 people has been released after serving his term and is living and working legally in Rome, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

Il Messaggero daily interviewed Mahmoud Ibrahim Khaled over the weekend amid new turmoil in Libya, which the United States has long blamed for sponsoring the airport attack.

Khaled, a 44-year-old Syrian, told the newspaper that the killings haunt him, that he realizes how wrong terrorism is and how wrong he was, and that he hopes Allah has forgiven him.

An Italian court in 1988 convicted Khaled, fugitive Palestinian guerrilla leader Abu Nidal and another Palestinian for the attack. Khaled, who was 18 at the time of the attack and the only one in custody, was sentenced to 30 years in prison but was released early for good behavior in June, Messagero said.

First, join an Islamic terrorist group.

Next, attack an airport and kill 16 people.

Then, serve 25 years and get an early release for "good behavior".

Finally, get legal residency and a job in the nation you attacked.

These terrorist groups must think the West is ruled by weak willed idiots.

Of course, they're correct.

Iranian warships in Mediterranean for first time since 1979

Officials said two Iranian warships crossed the Suez Canal and reached Syria. They said the Navy vessels — a frigate and support ship — would participate in an exercise with Syria.

"This is a very important achievement," an official said.

The two Iranian Navy vessels, identified as Alvand and Khark — arrived in the Syrian port of Latakia on Feb. 24. Latakia also contains the Russian Navy, which has sought to expand the port for larger vessels.

So much for Egypt's "democratic revolution" leading to peace and stability in the region, or the overthrow of Iran's theocratic tyrants.

I hope those Mediterranean nations always urging Israeli "restraint" enjoy it when nuclear armed Iranian warships patrol the coasts of Spain and France and Italy and Greece.

Yankee, come back?

President Felipe Calderón says the U.S. government isn't doing enough to help Mexico in its fight against drug cartels. Calderón said the U.S. government should help by reducing drug use in the United States, the world's biggest consumer of illegal drugs, and by stemming the flow of guns to Mexican drug gangs. "How can Americans cooperate? By reducing drug use, which they haven't done," he told the Mexican newspaper El Universal. "And, the flow of weapons hasn't slowed, it has increased." Calderón also isn't happy about U.S. diplomatic cables made public by WikiLeaks that he contends wrongly criticized Mexico's anti-drug strategy.

The Mexican president thinks the U.S. is not helping Mexico enough in the drug war.

Things must be going badly - - I remember when the Mexican president wanted the gringos to mind their own business, and stop interfering in Mexico's drug war.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Honor killing in Arizona

A jury convicted an Iraqi immigrant of second-degree murder Tuesday for running over and killing his daughter in a case termed an "honor killing" by prosecutors who said the father carried out the attack because he believed his daughter had become too Westernized.

Faleh Hassan Almaleki, 50, also was convicted of aggravated assault for injuries suffered by the mother of his daughter's boyfriend during the October 2009 incident in a suburban parking lot, as well as two counts of leaving the scene of an accident.

Maricopa County prosecutors told jurors during the trial that he mowed down Noor Almaleki, 20, with his Jeep Cherokee because he believed she brought dishonor to the family. He had wanted her to be a traditional Iraqi woman, while she refused an arranged marriage, went to college and had a boyfriend.

This is the mind set we're fighting.

Building democracy

Gunmen burst into a Kurdish television station in northern Iraq on Sunday, shooting up equipment and setting fire to the building, apparently in retaliation for footage it aired earlier in the week of a deadly protest, station officials said.

. . . The attack on the television station took place Sunday morning. Forty to 50 gunmen wearing military-style clothes stormed the network's headquarters in Sulaimaniyah, spokesman Farhang Hars said. Officials at the station suggested the raid was retaliation for broadcasting footage of a demonstration last week in which two people were killed. The station had only been on air for a few days.

This is the "democracy" thousands of American troops died to create.

Novelist accepts Israeli award, criticizes Israeli settlements

Renowned British novelist Ian McEwan accepted an Israeli literary prize in Jerusalem Sunday with harsh criticism of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, after British writers called on the author to stay home because of Israel's policies toward Palestinians.

At an acceptance ceremony for the Jerusalem Prize, McEwan praised Israel's technological and artistic advances but asked, "Where is Israel's political creativity?"

The novelist rebuked the "nihilism" of the Islamic militant Hamas, which has called for the destruction of Israel and has fired rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israeli towns. He also criticized Israel with the same term, saying "it is nihilism to make a long-term prison camp of the Gaza Strip."

. . . McEwan told a Jerusalem audience, including Israeli President Shimon Peres and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, that the "distinguished judges" of the jury "seem to be demanding that I mention, and I must oblige, the continued evictions and demolitions and relentless purchases of Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem."

According to reports, "the audience warmly applauded McEwan" "except for one man who booed the novelist as he delivered his speech."

Imagine if McEwan had spoken in an Arab land, and after rebuking "Israeli behavior toward Gaza" launched into a criticism of "the "nihilism of the Islamic militant Hamas, which has called for the destruction of Israel and has fired rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israeli towns."

McEwan wouldn't have heard one boo among warm applause - - he'd be dead.

That's the real difference between Israel and the rest of the Middle East.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

More Arab democratic change?

The Palestinian prime minister appealed Sunday to the rival Hamas group to join him in a united government, offering to allow the Islamic militants to retain security control of the Gaza Strip until elections later this year.

Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's proposal to his Islamic militant rivals reflected the Palestinians' deep frustration over Washington's handling of Mideast peace efforts. That anger was underscored over the weekend when the U.S. vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have condemned Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Any partnership with the anti-Israel Hamas would likely draw international criticism and all but rule out hopes of reviving negotiations. The U.S., EU and Israel shun Hamas as a terror organization.

So far, the Arab's "democratic awakening" is resulting in only wins for fundamentalist terrorists and their allies.

Congress takes a vacation

Battle lines over steep federal spending reductions hardened Sunday even as congressional leaders maintained that both Democrats and Republicans want to avoid a political impasse that could lead to a government shutdown in a matter of weeks.

Lawmakers fanned out to their home states after the Republican-led House approved more than $60 billion in reductions for 2011, the deepest spending cuts in generations. Virtually no domestic program would be spared.

Democrats have rejected the legislation as too severe, warning that as many as 800,000 jobs could be lost by making such reductions in the remaining seven months of the fiscal year and harm the nation's fragile economic recovery. Instead, they propose a spending freeze, which Republicans reject.

With political leaders deadlocked, both sides are positioning the other for blame in the event the stalemate cannot be broken. After the budget cut vote in the House Saturday, lawmakers left Washington for a weeklong recess, leaving only a matter of days to resolve the issue before the current funding mechanism expires March 4.

The only position in which you are permitted to take a discretionary week off in the middle of a work related crisis is "congressman".

The Obama doctrine

Moammar Gadhafi no longer controls eastern Libya, and unconfirmed reports indicate opposition forces have now seized the western city of Misurata. Witnesses say residents there were honking horns and waving pre-Gadhafi Libyan flags, and if true, it would be the first sign that Gadhafi is losing control of the country’s western half. Gunfire in the capital Tripoli reportedly remains intense, with Gadhafi loyalists apparently responding to the embattled autocrat’s speech Tuesday calling for his supporters to attack anti-government protesters “in their lairs.” At least 1,000 people are believed to have died since demonstrations against his regime broke out, and ominously the 68-year-old leader seems determined to stoke more violence, vowing Tuesday to fight to his “last drop of blood.”

If you're an American ally, such as Israel or Egypt, you will be held to strict standards of Western secular democracy.

If you're an American enemy, such as Iran or Libya or Cuba, feel free to gun down protesters and arrest dissenters, and you won't hear a peep from Obama's mouth for weeks.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Focusing on the wrong thing

A shoot-em-up video game set in the border town of Ciudad Juarez has angered local officials who are busy fighting all-too-real violence.

Chihuahua state legislators said Sunday they have asked federal authorities to ban "Call of Juarez: The Cartel," which is based on drug cartel shootouts in Ciudad Juarez.

About 6,000 people died in drug-related violence in Ciudad Juarez in 2009 and 2010, making the city, located across from El Paso, Texas, one of the deadliest in the world. During the past week, the town recorded 50 killings in three days.

The website of game developer Ubisoft Entertainment SA says the title is due for release this summer. Screen shots from the game show three characters armed with a pistol, an assault rifle and a shotgun ready to open fire on a city street.

The game's promotional slogan urges players, "Take justice into your own hands and experience the lawlessness of the modern Wild West." No one answered a message left at the company's San Francisco office.

Ricardo Boone Salmon, a congressman for Chihuahua state, where Ciudad Juarez is located, said the state legislature unanimously approved a request this week asking the federal Interior Department to ban the game.

About 6,000 people died in drug-related violence in Ciudad Juarez in 2009 and 2010.

Obviously, the Mexican government is not doing enough to fight drug-related violence on America's doorstep.

Instead, Mexican legislators are trying to ban a video game which publicizes the violence.

The Mexican authorities are focusing on the wrong thing.

Iran backs down

Iran's "provocative" plan to sail two warships through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean have been canceled, an Egyptian official said.

The unnamed official was widely reported Thursday as saying the plans had been withdrawn, without giving a reason. He said the ships — a frigate and a supply vessel — were near the Saudi Red Sea port of Jeddah.

Oil prices had spiked Wednesday on news of a potential crossing.

Israel had reacted angrily to the plans, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman painting them as challenge to the West and warning that Jerusalem could not "forever ignore these provocations."

Iran threatened to send its (nuclear armed?) Navy through the Suez Canal and start patrolling the Mediterranean shores of Western Europe.

Only Israel stood up to Iran.

Iran backed down.

Of course, no one in Europe will ever acknowledge that they were saved by Israel.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Stupid people

YouTube provides easy access to videos of almost anything, but what is the impact on viewers, especially younger viewers, when "anything" includes hundreds of photos, video clips and montages of self-harming behaviors such as cutting and self-mutilation?

In a study that analyzed the videos, Canadian researchers found that the 100 most popular videos portraying self-harm on YouTube have been viewed more than 2 million times and selected as "favorite" more than 12,000 times, triggering concern over what kind of impact the sharing and viewing of these videos may be having on those at risk for self-injurious behavior.

Who would want to make money off of posting these videos? And, why aren't they considered kiddie porn?

Stupid Wisconsin senators

Republican backers of Gov. Scott Walker's plan to eliminate collective bargaining rights for most public employees are trying to move the explosive proposal closer to reality, even as Democrats remained on the run and protesters filled the halls of the Capitol for a second week.

The Republican-controlled Assembly planned to debate and possibly vote on the measure Tuesday, but Democrats said they would offer more than 100 amendments in an attempt to improve the bill or at least drag it out in the hopes concessions will be made.

Things are even more chaotic in the Senate, where Democrats have halted the measure with a dramatic decision not to show up since Thursday. That has left Republicans, who control the chamber, one vote shy of the quorum needed to take up the plan. . . . the 14 missing Senate Democrats say they won't return . . .

Whatever you think about public employees' collective bargaining rights, you have to agree that senators hiding out in another state to avoid doing the jobs they just spent years running for is stupid and juvenile and embarrassing.

Stupid rebels

Several hundred people in Alabama marched in Confederate Army uniforms and hoop skirts to re-enact the 150th anniversary of the inauguration of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

The group paraded up Montgomery's main street past Martin Luther King's church to the Capitol, where Davis took the oath of office on Jan. 18, 1861.

One of the organizers, Chuck McMichael, said the event was to celebrate ancestors who fought in the war. He said he considers an attack on Confederate heritage to be a personal attack on him.

Shopper Shirley Williams, who is black, walked by the parade and shook her head. She said she was offended that the parade occurred during Black History Month.

State and city officials gave the group permits for the event, but did not attend.

The confederate forces during the civil war were seditious rebels against legitimate federal authority whose goal was the destruction of our nation.

True American patriots do not celebrate the Confederacy.

And, anyone who denies that the "southern heritage" crowd is racist has never read their literature.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hezbollah gives notice

Hezbollah's leader told his Shiite guerrilla group Wednesday to be prepared to invade northern Israel if a new war ever breaks out between the two sides.

The comments illustrate the fragile situation along the frontier since Israel and Iranian-backed Hezbollah fought a bitter, six-week war in the summer of 2006. The conflict ended in a U.N.-brokered truce but officials on both sides of the border have warned hostilities could resume.

"I tell the holy warriors of the Islamic resistance to be ready for a day when, if war is imposed on us, your command might ask you to control the Galilee area," Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech Wednesday. The Galilee refers to northern Israel, near the border with Lebanon.

Of course, when Hezbollah attacks, Israel will be either blamed or told to exercise restraint.

While we focus on the Mideast . . .

The shooting deaths of two federal agents last week and three in two months highlight the heightened risk to federal investigators who are confronting increasingly violent fugitives, drug traffickers and other criminals, authorities said.

The killing of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent in Mexico on Tuesday was followed by the slaying of a deputy U.S. marshal in West Virginia on Wednesday, an unusual confluence of events that left officials deeply troubled. A Border Patrol agent was fatally shot in Arizona in December.

The killings, while not connected, come amid a broadening federal role in fighting violent crime that was once left mainly to state authorities, investigators said. Federal-state task forces on violent crime have multiplied since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, bringing federal agents in closer contact with dangerous criminals. And the government says it is pouring resources into fighting drug trafficking and other crimes along the border with Mexico.

Sooner or later, the fighting, drug trafficking and other crimes along our border with Mexico will result in an increased focus on the problems set to spill over the border. Let's hope that doesn't happen too late.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

More free trade agreements coming

President Obama just announced he will push for the proposed Colombia and Panama free trade agreements.

What did candidate Obama have to say about free trade?
There’s no doubt that NAFTA needs to be amended. I’ve already said I would contact the president of Mexico and the prime minister of Canada to make sure that labor agreements are enforceable. But I did want to just go back briefly to the issue of trade and human rights that you had mentioned. We have to stand for human rights, and that should be part of the trade equation. . . .

Obama will fight for a trade policy that opens up foreign markets to support good American jobs. He will use trade agreements to spread improved labor and environmental standards around the world and stand firm against agreements like the Central Amercan Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) that fail to live up to those important standards. . . .

Look, people don’t want a cheaper T-shirt if they’re losing a job in the process. They would rather have the job and pay a little bit more for a T-shirt. And I think that’s something that all Americans could agree to.

Once more, promises are being broken.

By the way - - free trade agreements shipping more jobs overseas will not help reduce unemployment. They will increase it.

We haven't been attacked by terrorists since 9/11/01

That's the government's and the media's spin.

Somehow, they always fail to mention the subsequent fatal anthrax attacks.

And, we still have no idea who did it, who they were working with, and where they got it.
A scientific review released Tuesday in the 2001 case of deadly anthrax mailings cast doubt on the US government's conclusion that scientist Bruce Ivins, who killed himself in 2008, was to blame.

There was insufficient scientific evidence to support the FBI's assertion that the anthrax in letters sent to prominent politicians and journalists in the wake of the September 11 attacks originated within Ivins' lab, it said.

"It is not possible to reach a definitive conclusion about the origins of the B. anthracis in the mailings based on the available scientific evidence alone," said the report by the National Academy of Sciences.

The anthrax mailings, which killed five people and injured 17, rattled an already jittery American public just days after Al-Qaeda militants hijacked passenger jets and plunged them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.

The review found that anthrax contained in a flask, known as RMR-1029, in Ivins' lab shared genetic similarities with spores in the mailed letters but "was not the immediate source of spores used in the letters."

New U.S. "posture" in Mideast?

President Barack Obama said Tuesday that he'd told U.S. allies as well as foes in the Middle East that they must "get out ahead of" growing demands for reform, or risk the fates of the deposed presidents of Egypt and Tunisia.

As an unprecedented wave of street protests continued to spread, notably in the strategic Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, Obama used a news conference to lay down the first outlines of a broader U.S. response, now that it seems clear that the turmoil will extend well beyond the 18-day revolution that toppled Egypt's Hosni Mubarak.

He defended his handling of Mubarak's downfall, acknowledged that prospects for Arab-Israeli peace talks could be complicated and had tough words for Iran's leaders, who've responded harshly to a reborn protest movement in that country.

The "new posture" stated simply - - if you are a pro American but authoritarian friend and ally, Obama will withdraw support and encourage your overthrow. But, if you are a brutal anti American dictatorship - - Syria, Libya, Iran - - Obama will extend the hand of friendship.

With this policy, in 12 months, we will have few if any friends left in the Mideast.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Why don't they just admit they're against spending cuts?

The Republicans won the House of Representatives with a promise to cut this year's budget by $100 billion. When their leadership lowered that number first to $50 billion, and then to less than $40 billion, the media accused them of breaking promises and posturing.

Now, facing a revolt in their ranks, the Republican leaders are back to the $100 billion in spending cuts. The media's response?
In all of their posturing, Republican lawmakers have studiously avoided making clear to voters what vital government services would be slashed or disappear if they got their way . . .

So, if you break your promise to cut spending, you're posturing.

But, if you keep your promise to cut spending, you're also posturing.

Why don't they just admit that they're opposed to any spending cuts?

By the way - - the New York Times is now concerned that these cuts could negatively impact the number of "agents that keep the borders secure". Of course, this is the same newspaper in favor of open borders, amnesty for illegal aliens and the DREAM Act, and opposed to the Arizona immigration law.

Body scanner abuse

Misusing body scanner images would become a federal crime punishable by up to a year in prison under a proposal approved Tuesday by the Senate, an attempt by lawmakers to address concerns raised by some travelers.

The amendment by Sens. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to an aviation bill pending in the Senate was approved 98-0. It would prohibit anyone with access to the scanned body images, whether security personnel or members of the public, from photographing or disseminating those images. Besides a prison term, violators could be fined up to $100,000 per violation.

The proposal would apply to images made by body scanners run by any federal employee, including security employees at airports and federal courthouses. It covers not only the misuse of the original images recorded by scanners, but also photographs of scans recorded and disseminated from personal cameras, cell phones and video devices.

In all the hubbub about the potential for misuse of airport body scanner images, no one ever comes forward with evidence of any actual misuse of body scanner images.

It would be nice if senators would calm ungrounded public fears, rather then stir the pot and pass legislation to address a nonexistent problem.

Our friends, the Pakistanis

The confessed killer of a liberal Pakistani governor pleaded guilty Monday to a murder he said was justified under Islam, while outside the court supporters bearing flowers and cards wished him a happy Valentine's Day.

Mumtaz Qadri shot dead Punjab province Gov. Salman Taseer in January while serving as one of his bodyguards. Qadri has told authorities he killed Taseer because the governor spoke out against harsh Pakistani blasphemy laws that impose the death sentence for insulting Islam.

The assassination horrified Pakistan's relatively small liberal elite. However, many Pakistanis, including some in the religious establishment and in legal circles, have praised Qadri — a sign of the spread of Islamic fundamentalist thought in this South Asian nation.

Qadri was indicted Monday on a murder charge by an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi city during a session closed to media. When the judge asked Qadri if he'd intentionally killed Taseer, the 26-year-old said he didn't consider his actions illegal, said defense lawyer Shuja-ur-Rehman Raja.

Claiming justification under Quranic and Islamic law, the assassin killed "an apostate", i.e., someone who disagreed with ultra orthodox interpretations of Islam. Now, Islamic activists carry banners saluting him and demand his release. College students bring him flowers and Valentine's Day gifts. Lawyers salute and applaud him.

Where is the "moderate" Islam we always hear about?

Remember New Orleans?

Blighted and vacant homes continue to plague Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts in New Orleans, new U.S. Census Bureau data released Monday show.

More than 65,000 homes that the 2005 storm damaged were still unfit for habitation in 2009, according to the bureau's 2009 American Housing Survey for the New Orleans Metropolitan Area.

About two-thirds of these units were headed for condemnation or demolition, but that legal process is slow, leaving the city littered with tens of thousands of unsafe, unsanitary dwellings.

I seem to remember one president who ignored the city, and was rightly criticised for it, and another president who ran promising to remedy the situation . . . and has subsequently ignored the problem.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

This is democracy?

Egypt’s new military authorities have dissolved the country’s parliament and suspended the constitution.

In a statement on state TV yesterday, the higher military council said it would stay in power for six months, or until elections.

Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq said the caretaker government’s priority now is restoring security as the country transitions from three decades of Hosni Mubarak’s rule to a democracy.

Maybe the media can interrupt its celebration of the victory of "the people" and explain how a military junta which dissolves the country’s parliament and suspends the constitution is "democratic".

Celebrating ‘a new Egypt’?

Dozens of families gathered at a Lauderhill park to celebrate from afar the promise and possibilities of an Egyptian homeland reborn.

They had been here before, these fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, friends. But Sunday was profoundly different, an afternoon of fellowship to mark a historic moment in Egypt’s long march to freedom. The picnic included traditional cuisine such as bashamel, potato puree, stuffed cabbage and ground beef pie.

And a chocolate birthday cake, crowned with a number zero candle.

“We feel we have a new Egypt today. It is a new baby, with new beginnings,’’ says pharmacist Mohamed Apoumoussa, 37, as he sat on a bench at the Central Broward Regional Park. “Egypt is changed forever.’’

For years, these families — from Pembroke Pines to Coral Springs — have gathered at this park or others regularly to dine, bond and share what it means to be Egyptian American. But this Sunday, just 48 hours after President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation, after a seismic political and social shift in Egypt unfolded, the celebration was rooted in the country’s next chapter.

“For so long, it’s been a nightmare with all the corruption and the oppression. People could barely make a living,’’ says Adel Eltantawy, 45, a pharmacist living in Pembroke Pines who was raised in Egypt’s northern region. “We are so happy because now the people can have a new life.’’

The popular 18-day anti-government protest was built on the backs of Egypt’s empowered young protesters and opposition groups armed with passion and technology. They took to Cairo’s Tahrir Square in a non-violent secular movement that never swayed from its central message: President Hosni Mubarak must go, and there must be democratic reform.

The overwhelming majority of Egyptian Americans are Coptic Christians, who fled Islamic anti-Christian discrimination, bigotry and prejudice.

These Christian refugees from oppression are not celebrating the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in their homeland.

For some reason, our media insists on spinning this story differently.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Reporter sexually assaulted by jubilant Egyptian mob?

So I guess the peaceful freedom loving Arab freedom fighters celebrating their liberation from America's friend and ally were actually just a dangerous mob of sexual predators.

Of course, the only victim their cheerleaders in the media will tell us about is one of their own.

How many others (not famous, not reporters) were attacked by the mob?

Update -

"60 Minutes" correspondent Lara Logan was repeatedly sexually assaulted by thugs yelling, "Jew! Jew!" as she covered the chaotic fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo's main square Friday, CBS and sources said yesterday.

. . . "Logan was covering the jubilation . . . when she and her team and their security were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration," CBS said in a statement. "It was a mob of more than 200 people whipped into a frenzy.

"In the crush of the mob, [Logan] was separated from her crew. She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers.

. . . A network source told The Post that her attackers were screaming, "Jew! Jew!" during the assault. And the day before, Logan had told that Egyptian soldiers hassling her and her crew had accused them of "being Israeli spies." Logan is not Jewish.

I still don't understand why the U.S. effectively backed the Muslim Brotherhood during all this tumult.

"Waves of democracy" in Mideast?

Demonstrators took to the streets in Iran, Yemen and Bahrain on Monday, inspired by the anti-government revolts that toppled the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt over the last month.

So far, dictators have been replaced by military juntas in two Arab states, and elections (certain to be won by Islamic fundamentalist parties dedicated to the imposition of sharia law) are promised for on undetermined future date.

That's not "waves of democracy" (as described in the media).

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Meanwhile, In Mexico

While we focus on Iraq and Afghanistan and Egypt on the other side of the world, we ignore what's happening south of the border . . .
Armed men opened fire and hurled a grenade into a crowded nightclub early Saturday, killing six people and wounding at least 37 in a western city whose former tranquility has been shattered by escalating battles among drug cartels.

The attack in Mexico's second-largest municipality took place just hours after a shootout between soldiers and presumed cartel gunmen left eight people, including an innocent driver, dead in the northeastern city of Monterrey. Monterrey is Mexico's third-largest city.

In the Guadalajara attack, assailants in a Jeep Cherokee and a taxi drove up to the Butter Club, located in a bar and restaurant district popular with young people, and sprayed it with bullets.

Some of the men then got out of the taxi and threw a grenade into the nightclub entrance, said a police official, who spoke to news media at the scene and left without giving his name. The gunmen fled after the pre-dawn attack, he said.

The CPAC conference

For the second successive year, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas won the presidential straw poll conducted at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, capturing 30 percent of the vote.

Former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts was second in the straw poll with 23 percent of the vote, Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio announced at the conference in Washington held by the American Conservative Union. The others on the ballot finished far behind.

The stars of the conference were Ron Paul and Donald Trump.

That tells you not to take it too seriously. There's no connection to the real world.

Jeb in '12?

With the 2012 presidential race already underway, the chatter among Republicans is all about how the political muscle of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. But there’s one problem: he has no intent of running.

Politico on Friday offered up its own Jeb buzz: “More and more Wall Streeters think (hope?) Jeb Bush will let the other GOP candidates beat each other up then swoop in late as the savior. These people say Bush fatigue will fade once people realize how different Jeb is from W.”

Will the dynasts in D.C. ever learn that there are more than two or three families available to supply our leaders?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Tunisian illegal immigrants to Italy

At least 1,000 Tunisian immigrants have flocked to an Italian island in the Mediterranean to escape unrest in that nation.

The UN refugee agency says over the past month, at least 1,600 Tunisians have landed on Lampedusa, an Italian island closer to north Africa than it is to Italy. More than half of the refugees arrived in the last 24 to 48 hours.

Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said Friday he says the fleeing Tunisians have created a real humanitarian emergency and Italy has appealed to the European Union for assistance.

Maroni expressed fear that criminals or terrorists could be among the fleeing Tunisian citizens.

Once more, only the U.S. is forbidden to protect its borders from illegal immigration.

Finally, good news from Cuba

Cuba has released two more political prisoners who had refused to go into exile in Spain under a deal brokered by the Roman Catholic Church last year.

The two men - Hector Maseda and Angel Moya - were also demanding full pardons and the release of other prisoners who are ill.

Both have now returned to their homes in Havana.

They were among a group of 52 jailed dissidents Cuba's communist government agreed to free last July.

Most of them were released within weeks, but 11 stayed in jail because they would not accept going into exile in Spain.

But since last week, four including Mr Maseda and Mr Moya, have now been allowed to return home.

Releasing dissidents from prison into exile is not a sign of positive change.

Releasing dissidents from prison to their homes, free to continue their political activities, is, finally, a glimmer of hope from Cuba.

Never expect the media to apologize

The man convicted of killing Capitol Hill intern Chandra Levy nearly a decade ago was sentenced Friday to 60 years in prison.

In November, a jury convicted Ingmar Guandique of first-degree murder in Levy's 2001 disappearance and death, despite a lack of witnesses and no DNA evidence linking him to the crime.

Levy's disappearance became a national sensation after she was romantically linked to then-Rep. Gary Condit. Police initially focused on Condit as a suspect, and his political career unraveled.

Then-Rep. Gary Condit's political career didn't "unravel" after Levy "was romantically linked to" him.

Condit's career "unraveled" after the media accused him of complicity in the murder and drummed him from office.

Where are the apologies?

Gulf Oil spill: Cleanup until the job is finished?

The cleanup of oiled beaches along the Gulf of Mexico has reached a point where crews, heavy equipment and thorough scrubbing can cause more damage to the ecosystem than good, the Coast Guard said Friday.

Birds, sea turtles, fish and other species are more likely to be harmed by an aggressive cleanup than by simply leaving remnants of oil and letting it slowly degrade, the Coast Guard said.

The report was designed to guide the cleanup of the BP PLC spill from the April 20 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion. There are 4,265 people still involved in the cleanup and response on 544 miles of coast.

The promise was to clean up the spill until the job was finished.

The reality is to stop the cleanup as soon as everyone's attention is elsewhere.

Egypt: The people's revolution

I still don't understand how a military coup backed by the Muslim Brotherhood which replaced the dictator of 30 years with one of his cronies is a "people's revolution".

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Police shootings in Miami

After the seventh deadly shooting in the past year involving Miami police, community leaders are calling for a federal investigation of the police department. . . .

Travis McNeil and Kareem Williams spent Thursday night tossing back drinks at Little River’s Take One Cocktail Lounge, an establishment of notorious repute where only a few weeks earlier a North Miami Beach police officer shot and wounded a man.

About an hour before midnight the two drove away and were followed by Miami police officers. A few minutes later, McNeil was shot dead, the seventh black man killed by a police bullet in Miami’s inner city during the past year.

. . . The shooting brought instant criticism from Miami Commissioner Richard P. Dunn II, an Exposito critic who has campaigned for the chief’s removal. It also drew the ire of the local chapter of the NAACP.

. . . Bishop Victor Curry, president of the Miami-Dade chapter of the NAACP, said he has calls in to U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson and NAACP National President Benjamin Todd Jealous. He’s asking Wilson to write a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate, and would like the national NAACP to do the same. Curry said he’s also going to contact the state’s attorney general. He’s planning a press conference for Tuesday.

Of course, none of the local "community leaders" mention the inconvenient truth:
McNeil boasted a criminal history that included 36 arrests since 1995, records show. In 2007, he was convicted and sentenced to one year in prison for fleeing and eluding police and selling cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school.

He was released in February 2008, but by August of that year, his probation was revoked when he was arrested for driving with a suspended license as a habitual traffic offender. McNeil served another 364 days in county jail.

This shooting didn't involve a solid citizen on his way home from work.

This shooting involved a habitual repeat offender.

How do all these "community leaders" think life ends for a man with 36 arrests and several prison stays in 15 years?

The "community" would be better served if the "community leaders" stopped protesting tough law enforcement and started protesting crime incubators in the "community", such as the bar where these shootings occur.

More "progress" in Iraq

Iraqi officials say the death toll in a suicide bombing on a bus carrying Shiite pilgrims has risen to 36.

The blast went off Saturday, as pilgrims were returning from a religious ceremony.

Police and hospital officials said Sunday that 64 people were wounded in the attack in Samarra, 60 miles (95 kilometers) north of Baghdad

The officials did not want to be identified because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The bomber blew himself up on a bus carrying pilgrims back from the al-Askari mosque which has been a flashpoint for bloodshed in the past. A 2006 bombing by Sunni insurgents destroyed its golden dome and sparked retaliatory bloodshed between Sunnis and Shiites.

I guess it's time for a high level administration official or some random general to hold another press conference declaring that victory in Iraq is in sight.

More "progress" in Afghanistan

A suicide bomber blew himself up inside a district chief's office in Afghanistan's northern Kunduz province Thursday, killing the official and two other people.

The bomber was able to enter the office of Chahar Dara district chief Abdul Wahid Omarkhail by pretending to be looking for work, said provincial government spokesman Mabobullah Sayedi. The blast killed the chief along with a bodyguard and a village elder who was visiting at the time.

Five others were wounded in the explosion, said Sayedi and the district chief of police, Gulam Mohyuddin.

Only last month, Omarkhail told The Associated Press he narrowly missed being hurt when a roadside bomb exploded near his car.

Although the focus of the U.S.-led war is in southern and eastern Afghanistan, insurgents have been working to expand their influence in the north.

Security has been deteriorating in Kunduz and other northern provinces, where there are known hide-outs for the Taliban, al-Qaida and fighters from other militant factions, including the Haqqani network, Hizb-i-Islami and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. NATO has sent more troops to the north and has been pushing harder into militant-held areas.

I guess it's time for a high level administration official or some random general to hold another press conference declaring that victory in Afghanistan is in sight.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Trump in 2012?

Just how wide open is the Republican presidential field? Vast enough that Donald Trump may want you to hire him.

The billionaire real estate mogul and host of television's "The Apprentice" got a raucous reception Thursday when he dangled a potential candidacy before thousands of conservatives who descended on the nation's capital eager to help a GOP challenger deny President Barack Obama a second term.

"The United States is becoming the laughingstock of the world," Trump said, sounding every bit a candidate as he offered his rationale for a possible bid. In a speech sprinkled with quips and jabs, he said he would decide by June whether to run.

"The Donald" was among almost a dozen potential presidential candidates, in various stages of considering a 2012 run, auditioning before 11,000 conservatives at the three-day Conservative Political Action Conference. Some are more serious about it than others.

The man is a buffoon, interested only in self promotion.

The very idea of his candidacy is disrespectful of the presidency.

Arizona governor countersues federal government

Gov. Jan Brewer sued the federal government Thursday for failing to control Arizona's border with Mexico and enforce immigration laws, and for sticking the state with huge costs associated with jailing illegal immigrants who commit crimes.

The lawsuit claims the federal government has failed to protect Arizona from an "invasion" of illegal immigrants. It seeks increased reimbursements and extra safeguards, such as additional border fences.

Brewer's court filing serves as a countersuit in the federal government's legal challenge to Arizona's new enforcement immigration law. The U.S. Justice Department is seeking to invalidate the law.

Exactly. Either the federal government allows us to protect ourselves from rampant illegal immigration, or it picks up the bill for its inaction.

Food inflation?

Americans should brace for higher food prices this year now that demand for corn has pushed U.S. supplies to their lowest point in 15 years.

Higher projected orders from the ethanol industry sent corn futures soaring Wednesday, as corn supplies became the latest commodity to plummet. Low levels of wheat, coffee, soybeans and other food staples have already sent prices surging on the global market.

As those reserves decline, U.S. food companies are warning of retail price increases.

. . . The USDA report measures global supply and demand for grains, oilseeds and other crops. The department said its projections for wheat and soybean reserves remained unchanged at historically low levels.

The price of corn affects most food products in supermarkets. It’s used to feed the cattle, hogs and chickens that fill the meat aisle. It is the main ingredient in Cap’n Crunch and Doritos. Turned into corn syrup, it sweetens most soft drinks.

Voters are almost immediately responsive to higher food and gas prices.

In this case, prices will go up in response to administration policies encouraging the use of ethanol as fuel.

This could be another strike against Democrats going into 2012.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Our friend Taiwan

The government of Taiwan has arrested a general on accusations of spying for China in what could be the most prominent espionage case in Taiwan in decades.

The Ministry of National Defense discovered suspicious activity last year and arrested Maj. Gen. Lo Hsien-che on Jan. 25, according to a statement posted on the ministry’s Web site late Tuesday. The statement did not give any details on what espionage activities the general might have been engaged in. He was recruited to spy for China sometime during a posting overseas from 2002 to 2005, the statement said.

In other words, any military secrets or advanced technology we share with Taiwan will eventually find its way into the hands of the Chinese Communist government in Beijing, either through espionage now or via ultimate reunification of China eventually.

Arab "democracy"

Remember the Tunisian "democratic revolution", the inspiration for Egypt's "democratic revolution"?
Tunisia's Senate has followed the lead of the lower house of parliament and adopted a measure giving interim President Fouad Mebazaa temporary powers to rule by decree.

Wednesday, the Senate unanimously passed the measure, which is part of an effort to help restore order following the January ouster of then-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali by popular revolt.

The French news agency, AFP, quotes interim Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi as saying the caretaker government is facing social pressure because of the demands of citizens seeking economic improvements.

Tunisia has been struggling to restore order after anger about unemployment, high food prices and authoritarian rule sparked a series of mass protests resulting in the ouster of the Ben Ali government.

The coalition government installed after Ben Ali's departure has said that people linked to the former authorities are secretly trying to spread chaos and take back power.

An "interim president" with the power to rule by decree (and who bans the former ruling political party) is not a hopeful sign of democratic reform.

$53 billion for high-speed rail?

President Obama is calling for a six-year, $53 billion spending plan for high-speed rail as he seeks to use infrastructure spending to jump-start job creation.

An initial $8 billion in spending will be part of the budget plan Mr. Obama is set to release Monday. If Congress approves the plan, the money would go toward developing or improving trains that travel up to 250 miles per hour, and connecting existing rail lines to new projects. The White House wouldn’t say where the money for the rest of the program would come from, though it’s likely Mr. Obama would seek funding in future budgets or transportation bills.

Mr. Obama‘s push for high-speed-rail spending is part of his broad goal of creating jobs in the short term and increasing American competitiveness for the future through new spending on infrastructure, education and innovation.

The choice is between (1) reducing the deficit in order to preserve the economic integrity and strength of the U.S. economy, or (2) spending billions of borrowed Chinese dollars on job creation.

Obama announces support for both, alternately, depending on the day of the week.

That's why there's no sense of any economic leadership.

By the way - - other than a few upper middle class and wealthy commuters in the Boston to New York to Philadelphia to D.C. corridor (such as Joe Biden), is there any evidence that anyone anywhere will use any high speed rail network in numbers sufficient to justify construction?

Don't wish too hard

Egyptian President Mubarak resigned, as demanded by the Muslim Brotherhood, the progressive community, and the international media elite.

In a few years, when doctrinaire Islamists run an aggressively anti American Egypt, we will look back with fond nostalgia on the Mubarak years.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

More Islamophobia

Remember, according to our media, it is American Islamophobia which provokes understandable Islamic reaction.
A website affiliated with Chechen rebels has released a video in which insurgent leader Doku Umarov claims responsibility for last month's deadly suicide bombing at Russia's largest airport and threatens more bloodshed if Russia does not leave the region. . . .

“You see this special operation carried out by my order ... more special operations will be carried out in the future,” Umarov says in the video, wearing a camouflage uniform and a skullcap. . . .

Over the weekend, the website released another video in which Umarov also threatened more attacks, saying 2011 would be “the year of blood and tears.”

Chechen rebels have fought two full-scale wars against Russian forces since 1994. Major offensives in the second war died down about a decade ago, but the insurgency has continued with small clashes in Chechnya and in neighboring Caucasus republics.

The rebels have claimed responsibility for an array of terrorist attacks, including last year's double suicide bombing of the Moscow subway system that killed 40 people.

Umarov, who seeks to create a Caucasus emirate independent from Russia and governed by Sharia law, said in the earlier video that he could call on 50 to 60 suicide bombers if necessary.

Of course, American Islamophobia doesn't explain why Chechen Islamic rebels fighting for an independent Islamic state are bombing Russian airports.

More government waste and fraud

The top watchdog over AmeriCorps has told Congress that he has found several cases of fraud in the national service program — but that prosecutors won't pursue them.

In some cases, the alleged fraud involves the misuse of more than $900,000. The acting inspector general for the Corporation for National and Community Service also says there's a "pattern" of volunteer fraud — grant recipients misusing their time, often for personal gain.

Investigators "continue to face challenges in having our investigations accepted" for prosecution, Kenneth Bach said in a December report. Federal prosecutors told him the cases "lack jury appeal" or don't meet a "dollar threshold."

. . . AmeriCorps is the largest and best-known program run by the $1.1 billion Corporation for National Service, spending $698 million to support 88,530 members who serve in poor communities.

. . . The previous inspector general, Gerald Wolpin, protested the settlement to the board that runs AmeriCorps. The next day, President Obama fired Wolpin, telling Congress he had lost confidence in him. Wolpin is appealing.

Procurement fraud and theft of government funds are not prosecuted, but the inspector general is fired for objecting to cronyism and corruption.

Meanwhile, it's safe to assume that all the "community partners" getting rich by stealing from this program supported Obama in 2008 and will be Obama supporters in 2012.

This proves it again - - the more government spending, the more waste and fraud.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

More Islamophobia?

A Muslim mob burned churches and clashed with police in Indonesia on Tuesday as they demanded the death penalty for a Christian man convicted of blaspheming against Islam, police said.

Two days after a Muslim lynch mob killed three members of a minority Islamic sect, crowds of furious Muslims set two churches alight as they rampaged in anger over the prison sentence imposed on defendant Antonius Bawengan, 58.

A court in the Central Java town had earlier sentenced the man to five years in jail, the maximum allowable, for distributing leaflets insulting Islam.

But this only enraged the crowd, who said the sentence was too lenient, police said.

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., the Obama administration promotes a Muslim Brotherhood led coalition to lead post-Mubarak Egypt.

2012 will be brutal for Democrats

Virginia Democratic Senator Jim Webb plans to announce today that he won't seek reelection, the Senator confirmed Wednesday.

Webb appeared likely to face a rematch with former Senator George Allen, whom he beat in a bruising 2006 contest. He had expressed ambivalence about the prospect of another run, and has said he never planned a life in politics.

Keeping Webb -- a Vietnam veteran, former Reagan defense official, and author -- in the Senate had been a top priority for the Democratic leadership, with no Democrat of Webb's prominence, and his centrist politics, openly exploring the race. . . .

Webb's departure isn't entirely a surprise. He recalled in a recent interview that he'd told President Obama in the fall of 2009 that his push for health care legislation would end in "disaster."

"The healthcare issue really took away a lot of the credibility of the new leadership--Obama particularly--the Reid-Pelosi-Obama trio," he said.

Swing state and moderate Democrats are afraid to run on the same ticket as Obama.

Over the next 6 months, more and more will drop out and give up.

More animal rights ignorance

The Interior Department is asking a federal judge in Montana not to intervene in the impending slaughter of potentially hundreds of wild bison that were captured after migrating out of Yellowstone National Park.

When will animal rights groups learn that unless you cull over populated herds, the excess population will die of disease, hunger or predation, thereby weakening and threatening the viability of the survivors? There's nothing cruel about rational animal management.

Destroying the environment to save it

The U.S. government identified four locations for offshore wind projects, a move that may accelerate the development of renewable energy projects.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the Wind Energy Areas, along the coasts of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, during a conference call today.

Under the program, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement will conduct environmental reviews for the four areas and, if no significant issues are identified, may issue leases to energy developers by the end of this year.

The two agencies introduced in December a similar program to fast-track the development of solar energy plants at 24 sites on federal land.

To "accelerate the development of renewable energy projects", the Interior Department will "fast-track" the environmental impact review, leasing and development of "offshore wind projects" along the coasts of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

The same kind of "fast track" review that BP received for its Gulf coast offshore oil wells.

In fact, in an effort to save the environment through wind power, we will disrupt and destroy the environment along the coasts of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia - - the sea beds, the marine life, and of course the birds that fly into the wind turbines.

More talk, less action for underwater homeowners

A government program intended to help hundreds of thousands of underwater homeowners is off to a slow start.

Since its September launch, only 38 homeowners have refinanced mortgages through the FHA Short Refinance program, backed with $11 billion in federal funds. The Federal Housing Administration has said the program could eventually help 500,000 to 1.5 million borrowers.

The program requires mortgage owners to forgive at least 10% of a borrower’s unpaid principal so that the loan can be refinanced into an FHA loan at a lower interest rate. The goal: keep homeowners out of foreclosure even if they owe more on their homes than they are worth.

A program Obama promised would help hundreds of thousands of underwater homeowners has refinanced only 38 mortgages since its September launch!

I'm sure a lot more than 38 political insiders and Obama cronies were given cushy government jobs administering this failed and obviously wasteful program - - $11 billion in funds committed to assist only 38 homeowners so far!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tunisian democracy

Tunisia's interior minister has decided that all activities of former ruling party the RCD will be suspended to prevent a breakdown in security, state television and an interior ministry source said on Sunday.

"The minister of the interior has decided to suspend all activities and all meetings of the RCD and to close down all its offices pending a judicial decision on its dissolution," said the source, who did not want to be identified.

"(This is being done) because there is an extreme need and in order to prevent a breakdown of general security and to protect the higher interests of the country."

Evidently, the first act by the winners of the Tunisian democratic revolution was to ban the political party of the losers.

That is not a hopeful sign.

Florida's coming public employee pension battle

Hal Krantz says it has been years since he brought home a pay raise. After 16 years of teaching, the married Coral Springs Middle School instructor with a daughter in college is struggling to stretch his salary while meeting the soaring costs of healthcare, food and other necessities.

Gov. Rick Scott's plan to compel public employees like Krantz to kick in as much as 5 percent of their paychecks into their pensions is causing quite a bit of angst. This is particularly true of teachers, who traditionally earn modest salaries offset by a broad benefits package, but also state workers, many of whom have not received pay raises in years.

The proposal is included in the budget that Scott will unveil Monday at a rally of tea party supporters in the Lake County community of Eustis.

. . . Around the nation, governments are reeling from the poor economy and falling tax revenues. Supporters of Scott's plan, which would affect not just state workers but school employees and many municipal workers in the state retirement system, say it's imperative to change gears to keep the state and the pension fund solvent.

They note that for many in the private sector, salaries have fallen, jobs have grown scarce and traditional pensions have long since been replaced by 401(k) accounts that require workers to sock away money for their own retirement.

Florida public employee pension reform will pass in some form, and public employee pensions will be curtailed or eliminated in Florida.

After passage, this reform, and Scott, will be wildly popular, and Scott will become a leading national voice, notwithstanding a universally hostile Florida press.

And, politically, this will prove once and for all that you don't put all your eggs in one basket - - public employees unions always back Democrats, so they have no leverage whatsoever with Republicans.

Iraq restores monument symbolizing Hussein era

As hundreds of thousands in Egypt protested the iron rule of that country’s president, Iraq quietly began restoring a bronze fist of its former dictator, Saddam Hussein.

Without public announcement or debate, the authorities here ordered the reconstruction of one of the most audacious symbols in Baghdad of Mr. Hussein’s long, violent and oppressive rule: the Victory Arch, two enormous sets of crossed swords, clutched in hands modeled after his very own.

“Nuremberg and Las Vegas all rolled in one,” Kanan Makiya, an Iraqi-born author and architect called the monument in “The Monument: Art, Vulgarity and Responsibility in Iraq,” which was published in 1991 under a pseudonym to protect himself then, even in exile.

After years of neglect and a partial dismantling in 2007 that was halted amid protests after the panels of one fist and the pommels of two swords were removed, workers recently began to put back together the detritus of Mr. Hussein’s megalomania.

The restoration represents a small but potentially significant act of reconciliation with a past that remains deeply divisive nearly eight years after Mr. Hussein’s government crumpled.

The restoration of a monument to the glory of Saddam Hussein?

There could be no greater symbol of the waste and failure of our adventure in Iraq.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Deporting illegal aliens

The Dominican Republic has deported thousands of illegal immigrants in recent weeks, sowing fear among Haitians living in the country and prompting accusations its government is using a cholera outbreak as a pretext for a crackdown.

In the largest campaign in years to target Haitians living illegally in the Dominican Republic, soldiers and immigration agents have been setting up checkpoints and conducting neighborhood sweeps, detaining anyone without papers and booting them from the country.

For some reason, while the Dominican Republic rounds up and deports thousands of illegal immigrants from Haiti, the United States is not allowed to round up and deport thousands of illegal immigrants from the Dominican Republic. And, of course, we're not allowed to ask anyone for their papers.


The U.S. and Egypt

The Obama administration joined other Western nations Saturday in endorsing embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's gradual exit from power and in a shift, urged Egyptians to back the power transition Mubarak and his closest advisors have set in motion.

The administration stood by while a dictator in his 80's attempted to bully his way into ending his fourth decade of power before turning the presidency over to his son.

Only after demonstrations began and civil revolt started did the administration get involved, and then always one day behind on every development. Our policies and positions have changed daily.

The administration is now powerless to influence events in Egypt, and will eventually see an anti American Islamist regime in the heart of the Arab world.

Heckuva job! Put this in the fail column, with the BP oil spill.

Friday, February 4, 2011

"If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan."

Barack Obama on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 in a town hall meeting

My firm used to pay for family PPO coverage for all employees.

Because of rising costs due to the mandates of Obamacare, the firm can now only afford to pay for an HMO, and for the employee only. Family PPO coverage with a reasonable deductible (less than two or three thousand dollars per year) will now require out of pocket payments by employees of up to almost $1000 per month.

Yes, if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.

But, my secretary can no longer afford it.

In fact, she probably can't afford the monthly out of pocket for family HMO coverage.

New Orleans lost one third of its population since Katrina

Rocked by natural disasters and a steady exodus of residents, this flood-damaged city lost nearly a third of its population in the past decade, according to Census data released Thursday.

Census workers counted 343,829 residents in New Orleans last year, down from 485,000 in 2000, or a 29% drop, according to the data. The count was slightly lower than previous estimates of 355,000.

The city has struggled to repopulate since Hurricane Katrina and a breach of federal levees flooded 80% of the city in 2005, scattering much of its citizenry. Just before the storm, there were about 455,000 people living in New Orleans, according to Census figures.

I seem to remember Democratic candidates running for office against the incompetence and stupidity which led to the failure to relieve, restore and rebuild New Orleans.

I seem to remember Democratic candidates promising to rebuild New Orleans if elected.

I don't seem to remember any Democrats talking or doing too much about New Orleans since getting elected.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I usually don't listen to actors, but . . .

Omar Sharif, Egypt's most famous actor, says he's concerned for the future of his country.

Cairo's Tahrir Square, where protests have been centered, is visible from his high-rise apartment and helicopters buzz overhead.

"They want the president to step down. This is the first thing. After that, they do not know what they want," he told The Associated Press on Monday. "I personally don't know what they will do afterwards. Who will they bring, who will take his place, who will be in charge of the country?"

The man most famous for playing Barbra Streisand's love interest in "Funny Girl" and for his roles in "Doctor Zhivago" and "Lawrence of Arabia" has a better handle on the situation in Egypt than those in the media and our government who are blindly cheering on the Muslim Brotherhood-led protesters.

Of course, in response to his on screen kisses of the "Zionist" Streisand, Sharif received death threats from the Muslim Brotherhood. He's seen the true face of these "protesters for democracy".

Public supports Florida governor's pension rollback plan

This week, newly elected Florida Gov. Rick Scott proposed an overhaul of the state's public employees' pension system by requiring them to contribute to their retirement accounts and by not offering the pension plan to new workers.

As expected, the public employees' unions are outraged.

But the public?
By a percentage-point margin of 64-28, voters say state workers should contribute to their pensions, just like private-sector workers.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Florida state workers to pay for own pensions?

Gov. Rick Scott is proposing to overhaul the state's pension system for tens of thousands of teachers, police officers and other state and county workers by requiring them to contribute to their retirement accounts and by not offering the pension plan to new workers.

The proposal, which must be approved by the Legislature, would save the state $2.8 billion over the next two years. The state is facing a budget shortfall next year that could top $4 billion.

In announcing the plan on Tuesday, Scott said he wants current employees to pay 5 percent of their salaries into their retirement accounts. State employees currently do not pay for their retirement.

New employees would not receive a traditional defined benefit pension plan, but would be eligible for 401(k) retirement accounts typically offered in the private sector.

The public employees' unions will scream bloody murder, but the general public will be overwhelmingly in favor.

This is an idea that will sweep the nation.

Protests in Egypt turn violent
Several thousand supporters of President Hosni Mubarak, including some riding horses and camels and wielding whips, attacked anti-government protesters Wednesday as Egypt's upheaval took a dangerous new turn.

The "peaceful protests" are turning violent, now that both sides are participating in protest and counter protest.

The only surprise is that anyone is surprised.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

No, this is not good news from the Middle East

Jordan's King Abdullah II fired his government Tuesday in the wake of street protests and asked an ex-prime minister to form a new Cabinet, ordering him to launch immediate political reforms.

This just means that another country in the Middle East now faces Islamist takeover under the guise of democratisation.

No, this does not resolve the crisis in Egypt

More than a quarter-million people flooded Cairo's main square Tuesday in a stunning and jubilant array of young and old, urban poor and middle class professionals, mounting by far the largest protest yet in a week of unrelenting demands for President Hosni Mubarak to leave after nearly 30 years in power.

This just means that America has lost another ally.

No, this does not resolve the Obamacare debate

Federal judge in Florida says healthcare law is unconstitutional.

A Florida federal judge ruled unconstitutional a controversial federal healthcare law, a blow to President Obama's signature legislation.

This just means that two judges say it's constitutional, two judges say it's unconstitutional, and the issue will most likely be resolved by the one swing vote on the U.S. Supreme Court.

No, this does not resolve the global warming debate

A multi-day, multi-region potentially historic and destructive winter storm will unleash its fury through Wednesday.

When everything is said and done, the storm may very well impact a third of the population of the United States; approximately 100 million people.

Its reach will be felt from the Southern Plains to the Ohio Valley to the coast of New England.

Accompanied with the winter storm will be a severe thunderstorm threat across the South capable of producing damaging winds, hail and a few tornadoes.

Our Midwest storm coverage will be categorized into the four factors: heavy snow, destructive ice, tornadoes and bitter cold. To find out more on the various factors, click on each of the images above.

This just means that it gets cold in winter.