Friday, March 4, 2011

Political Digest for March 4, 2011

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree (or disagree) with every—or any—opinion in the posted article. Help your friends and relatives stay informed by passing the digest on.

Flee Partyers seem right at home behind Illinois' Jell-O Curtain
Excerpt: If there's one place that fleeing Democratic state lawmakers from Wisconsin and Indiana can find refuge, it's here, behind the Jell-O Curtain in Illinois. "They're not hiding out," insisted Illinois Gov. Jell-O, also known as Pat Quinn. "They're visiting Illinois," he told Fox Chicago News. "And we're happy they're here. I talked to one of their leaders, I think on Sunday, and they're always welcome." Not hiding out? Talked to their "leaders"? Dude. They aren't space alien invaders, Governor. They're Democratic politicians running from their jobs to prevent votes on important issues. Actually, they're fleeing responsibility in a time of massive budget deficits in their own states, which is why they're called the Flee Party. And they've come here, where it's ideologically safe.

States' revenue forecasts increasingly off-base
Excerpt: Revenue forecasts made by America's state governments are increasingly missing the mark, a trend that is aggravating political, fiscal and social pain as most of the 50 states grapple with budget shortfalls, according to two leading think tanks. The widening mistakes in revenue forecasts, which added up to $49 billion in fiscal year 2009, were due more to shifts in the economy than to wrongheaded experts. "The main cause of the increase in volatility appears to be the state's growing reliance on income taxes and the ways in which highly volatile capital gains affect income tax revenue," the Pew Center on the States and the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government said in a new study. (Maybe. But cutting spending is painful. It is always a temptation to “balance” the budget by over estimating income. This is even true in non-profit associations, such as I manage. Faced with revenue projections that are below what the board wants to spend on programming, the temptation is always to up the revenue estimates. When the deficit hits at the end of the year, the finger pointing starts. I come in with conservative budget estimates and make sure there is a record of my projections. Nobody minds if revenue is higher than I estimated, or spending lower! ~Bob.)

Important: Joint Congressional Committee Report Details New Health Law’s Fiscal Burden on Fragile State Budgets, Sustainability of Medicaid Program
46 of the 50 states already have bed deficit problems. States which further raise taxes will see businesses, jobs and high-end tax payers flee to lower tax states, a trend already under way. They also mostly have huge unfunded pension liabilities. Where will they get $118B? Obama isn’t solely responsible for the coming fiscal collapse, but his lack of understanding of basic economics—or even accounting—has certainly moved it forward by a decade. Liberals believe if they want something to be true, it will be true. ~Bob. Excerpt: In advance of today’s House Energy & Commerce Committee hearing examining ObamaCare’s impact on Medicaid and state health care reform, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, and Fred Upton (R-Michigan), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee released a comprehensive report outlining the $118 billion price tag to states of the massive expansion of the Medicaid program in the health law. 

2011 Global Medical Trends
Excerpt: In recent years, health insurance provision by employers has grown globally and is rapidly becoming the most valued employee benefit, particularly in developing markets. In many countries, benefits provided under public health programs are being scaled back, both in terms of coverage and the share of costs covered. As a result, employer-sponsored health plans have grown exponentially in the past decade. Companies increasingly recognize that poor workforce health, as well as medical and disability costs, are a drag on productivity and financial performance. Health care benefits continue to transition from optional to required in most major economies. As demand for these benefits has grown, so has the cost of providing them. Our survey of large global insurers, some of which operate in multiple countries, shows that medical costs have risen rapidly since 2006 in nearly all markets. Many countries have experienced double-digit trends, and in the vast majority, the trend exceeded the rates of general inflation. Looking ahead, little relief is in sight, as trends for 2011 are projected to be even higher than last year. The rising cost of health care is a global issue that is quickly becoming one of the biggest financial challenges for multinational companies.

Here's the joke that got college prof fired
Excerpt: "A group of sociologists did a poll in Arizona about the new immigration law. Sixty percent said they were in favor, and 40 percent said, 'No hablo English.'"
That joke in class has Robert Engler, a 12-year sociology professor at Roosevelt University, fighting for his career. It elicited two written complaints in the spring of 2010 as ethnically offensive, and what followed was a protracted argument that eventually included the termination of his employment from the fall semester. Administrators have also discontinued his course "City and Citizenship," previously a requirement for graduation. (Dumb. Every professor, politician and reporter should have a list of who is protected by Political Correctness taped to his computer. Here are the protected, in order: 1. Muslims. 2. Gays. 3. Tie, blacks and Hispanics. 5. Women. [Muslims outrank Gays because Muslims get to hang Gays with no complaints from liberals. Rock breaks scissors. Also, offended Gays will complain. Extremist Muslims will behead you.) Note that, while currently tied, Hispanics were far behind and are rapidly over-taking blacks. Jesse Jackson take note. Still on the “OK to Bash” list are: 1. Jews. (Unless bashed by others on the OK list, e.g., a Muslim who says Jews drink babies blood is multicultural A Christian who says something negative about a particular Jew is anti-Semitic.) 2. White Males. 3. Christians. 4. Conservatives. 5. Business people who actually create jobs. There is no particular hierarchy on the OK list. ~Bob.)

Kids beaten for being bad Muslims, caseworker says: Boy was beaten for not following Islam closely enough, girls say
So who is on trial? The social worker who tried to protect the kids. Not PC to blame Islam. Better shut up and let the kids be beaten. ~Bob. Excerpt: A Franklin County Children Services worker who is accused of violating the rights of a Muslim family said agency files contain references to their religion because it was a source of conflict between the parents and children. Amber Spires told jurors in U.S. District Court that Naim and Hadiya AbdulSalaam's strict practices were an issue with their children, especially their 16-year-old son, Mandela, who was the first to be placed in foster care, in 2003. "That was part of the argument between Mandela and the family," Spires testified yesterday in the trial of a lawsuit against her. "They are strict, and they are Islamic." Mrs. AbdulSalaam's attorney, Michael Moore, asked Spires whether she would have noted that a family was "strict Christians." "I might have, yes," Spires said. The caseworker testified that the three teenage daughters told her that their mother and stepfather had stripped Mandela and beaten him until he lost control of his bowels. "His sisters specifically told me that he had been disciplined for being a bad Muslim," Spires testified.

3 Dems join GOP fight to block EPA climate rules
Excerpt: Three Democrats are joining a Republican effort in the House to block the Environmental Protection Agency from reducing the gases blamed for global warming. Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia, Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, and Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma will sponsor a bill drafted by Republicans that bars the EPA from using federal law to control greenhouse gases from power plants, refineries and other industrial facilities. The legislation was being introduced Thursday in the House and Senate. The bill is among a handful of measures introduced in the Republican-controlled House targeting the EPA and its efforts to control air and water pollution. None of the EPA's actions is as controversial as its rules on global warming, which Republicans and some Democrats say will raise energy costs and cause job losses in an already fragile economy.

Another moderate in Pakistan is assassinated
One wonders why so many Muslims don’t know that “Islam is a Religion of Peace”? ~Bob. Excerpt: Shahbaz Bhatti, who was assassinated outside his home in Pakistan today, came to visit a few of us at The Post one month ago. He was soft-spoken and matter-of-fact about the dangers he faced -- and about his refusal, almost his inability, to trim his sails to lessen those dangers. The risks he faced, as a voice for tolerance in an increasingly intolerant country, were risks that Pakistan faced -- and if he and like-minded figures stopped speaking up, what future would the country have? Bhatti was a Christian in an overwhelmingly Muslim country, a minister in the government in charge of minority affairs, and most of all an unimaginably courageous voice of moderation. He opposed the nation's anti-blasphemy law, which increasingly is being used to silence and oppress. When another moderate leader, Punjab governor Salman Taseer, was killed two months ago, his assassin frighteningly became a hero for many in Pakistan. Bhatti was one of the few public figures willing to forthrightly condemn the murder. Now Bhatti, too, is gone. There will be investigations, I suppose, into why his police guard was absent when gunmen surrounded his Toyota sedan this morning, despite calls from many (including Americans like Virginia Republican Rep. Frank Wolf) for increased security.

Obama comes off sidelines on budget
Why would a shutdown hurt the economy? A massive cut in government agencies and employees would launch an economic boom, IMHO. Obama knows he has to at least appear to have gotten the voters’ message from the last election, to win the next one. ~Bob. Excerpt: President Obama assumed responsibility for avoiding a government shutdown Wednesday, ordering the White House to find a deal with Republicans on spending despite the growing backlash from the left over cuts to cherished programs. The talks over spending will force Obama to walk a tightrope, as he must find a way to avoid a government shutdown that could hurt the economy without alienating the liberal base critical to his reelection.

Atty. general: Illinois should release FOID card list
See due to the recession, gangbangers in Chicago have had trouble affording guns, leading to a decline in homicides. More live people means more carbon so more global warming. So Democrats are eager to publish a list of places where the deprived gang members can steal guns. If they murder the gun owners in the process, so much the better. ~Bob. Excerpt: Illinois State Police stood their ground today after the state's attorney general determined the agency must disclose the names of people authorized to own guns in Illinois to comply with public records law. Attorney General Lisa Madigan's public access counselor issued a letter Monday night rejecting state police arguments that releasing the information is an unwarranted invasion of privacy prohibited by the state public records law or that its disclosure would automatically endanger the lives of gun owners or those who don't have firearms. State police determine who gets Firearm Owners Identification cards but have always kept the information confidential. Despite the decree, the names likely won't be uncloaked soon. A state police lawyer indicated in a letter Tuesday the agency planned to ask a judge to decide the matter. And Republican lawmakers have filed legislation to make names permanently private. Through the Freedom of Information Act, The Associated Press requested in September the names of each FOID cardholder in the state and the expiration date of each card. State police denied the request, prompting the public access counselor's intervention.

Illinois Officials Spar Over Order to Make List of Gun Owners Public
Excerpt: In a showdown over the privacy rights of gun owners, the Illinois State Police are refusing to release a list identifying all firearm permit holders in the state after Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan determined that the information "must" be made public. The dispute, which soon could come before a judge, has been building since last fall when a reporter for The Associated Press made a Freedom of Information Act request to the police for the names of cardholders as well as information about the weapons each permit holder is authorized to carry. But the state police, who safeguard that information, resisted as lawmakers and others raised privacy concerns. Critics questioned what public interest it would serve to let neighbors look up each other's potential weapons cache -- further, they warned that publicizing the information could put both gun owners and those who don't own guns at risk. If the state publishes a list of gun owners, Republican Rep. Ron Stephens said, "You are by design also publishing a list of everyone who doesn't" carry a firearm. ("Geez, Leftie, should we go to Tom's house and steal money--we know he isn't armed--or go to Harry's house and steal his guns? Of course, if we steal Harry's guns first, then we can use them to rob Tom. And the liquor store. Decisions, decisions." Who thinks this stuff up, anyway? Ron P.)

Hawaii Sen. Daniel Akaka won't seek re-election
I understand. I’m thinking of retiring at 85 myself. ~Bob. Excerpt: Hawaii Democratic Sen. Daniel Akaka will not seek re-election in 2012, the fifth Democratic or Democratic aligned incumbent to bow out already this election cycle. "After months of thinking about my political future, I am announcing today that I have decided not to run for re-election in 2012," Akaka said in a statement. "As many of you can imagine, it was a very difficult decision for me. However, I feel that the end of this Congress is the right time for me to step aside." Akaka, who is 86 years old, had been regarded by both parties as a potential retiree and his meager fundraising -- he collected less than $2,000 in the final three months of 2010 -- only added to that sense.

Are They Serious? ‘Shariah 4 America’ Group Calls for ‘Burkha’ on Statue of Liberty
Excerpt: As we’ve reported, controversial UK Muslim cleric Anjem Choudary has called on Muslims to “rise to implement the Shari’ah in America,” starting with a planned demonstration in front of the White House on Thursday. Choudary’s “call for revolution” is being organized and advertised by Shariah4America, a group calling for the “Islamic demolition of the Statue of Liberty” and a remodeling of the White House into a “White Masjid.” According to the group’s website, the Statue of Liberty “elevates the command of man over the command of God” and public veneration of the statue amounts to idol worship strictly prohibited by Islam. “This has forced sincere Muslims to develop realistic plans that will aid in the removal of the Statue of Liberty. “Due to the scale of the task at hand, it is highly likely that rigorous safety checks will need to be employed before the demolition of the Statue of Liberty can commence; thus as a temporary measure, it is proposed that a large burkha is used to cover the statue, thereby shielding this horrendous eye sore from public view as well as sending a strong message to its French creators,” the site reads. (Yes, they are serious in this way. The Islamists make extreme demands or commit acts of terror. Then other groups make more moderate demands, like for foot baths, or Islamic holy days off with pay. Eager to avoid the violence and extreme demands, the small steps are happily accepted, one after the other, in a steady march to the elimination of religious and political freedom, not to mention gender equality, under Shari’a Law. ~Bob.)

Class sex toy demonstration causes controversy
Excerpt: Northwestern students and administrators are defending an explicit after-class demonstration involving a woman being publicly penetrated by a sex toy on stage in the popular Human Sexuality course last week. The optional presentation last Monday, attended by about 120 students, featured a naked non-student woman being repeatedly sexually stimulated to the point of orgasm by the sex toy…. (Attractive female high school teachers having sex with students. College students watching this. I feel like my education was stunted. I had to learn about sex all by myself. ~Bob.)

Senate GOP in Wisconsin Orders Police to Take AWOL Dems into Custody
Excerpt: Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate passed a resolution Thursday calling for police to take 14 Democrats into custody for contempt after they fled to Illinois to avoid voting on a bill that would strip public-sector unions of nearly all their collective bargaining rights. Republicans voted 19-0 to give Democrats until 4 p.m. Thursday to return to the chamber or be found "in contempt and disorderly behavior." The vote comes two weeks after the Democrats left, effectively delaying the vote on Gov. Scott Walker's proposal. (Don’t be silly. If the people didn’t want contempt for the democratic process, they wouldn’t elect Democrats! ~Bob.)

If You're Not Outraged, You're Not Paying Attention by Robin of Berkeley
Excerpt: One of the reasons I drifted so far left was because of a constant sense of outrage. It was like a steady drumbeat in my head: Capitalism? Patently unfair! Unequal pay for women? Outrageous! Of course, out here in Berkeley, I was in good company, surrounded by the multitudes up in arms most hours of the day. There's even a popular bumper sticker around town that captures the general vibe: If You're Not Outraged, You're Not Paying Attention. However, once I snapped out of my leftist trance, I realized something startling: I was outraged about all of the wrong things. In fact, leftist outrage is derived not from our Higher Selves, but from another place entirely: the lowly self. This explains why the left can be so apoplectic one minute, and then strangely silent the next. Take, for example, the mass slaughter of our soldiers at Fort Hood. Obama didn't even interrupt his Native American shout-out to denounce the killings. We hardly hear a peep these days about Ft. Hood, the infiltration of our military (!) by a Jihadist. I recently referred to the atrocity when speaking to a progressive friend; she could barely recall what I was talking about. Yet, when a lone, apparently psychotic young man, created a bloodbath in Tucson, the left was all over this one.

Missing California Girl, 13, Fled Home to Avoid 'Arranged Marriage' in Pakistan?
Excerpt: A 13-year-old girl who had been missing for more than a week ran away over fears she was to be sent to Pakistan for an arranged marriage, police have claimed. Jessie Marie Bender has been taken into child protective custody after a relative who was protecting her led detectives to the California hotel where she was hiding yesterday. Jessie's family had reported her missing on February 22. They told police they feared she had been abducted by a man she met on Facebook.

Face of Kosovan Muslim Who Allegedly Shot Dead Two U.S. Airmen in Frankfurt
Excerpt: This is the face of the man suspected of killing two U.S. soldiers in Germany in an Islamist rage. The photo is from Arid Uka's Facebook page - once listed under his real name but changed recently to that of Abu Reyann, his chosen 'warrior' name. The site is littered with references to Holy War, hatred of 'non believers' and has his favourite saying - 'may the eyes of the cowards never sleep' - by Khalid Bin Walid, an ancient Islamic fighter who united Arabia for the first time. 'This is my favourite killer outfit when rolling the dice on black ops, ha ha,' he boasts to his friends on the social networking site - probably more a reference to the computer game of the same name that he played avidly than any attack like that he carried out in Frankfurt which left two Americans dead and two severely wounded. 'Way to go, you old killer!' posts friend Kastrijot Ferizi on the photo that was added to his page in December last year. Another writes that Abu Reyyan was his nickname that he knew him by. There are hate-filled rants against Jews and a cry to Jihad which said: 'If someone would call you to Holy War... yeah, and? 'That is part of this beautiful religion. One is allowed to fight the unbelievers when attacked.' (Nothing to do with Islam, the apologists say. ~Bob.)

The Iranian Civil War
Excerpt: According to the Daily Beast, yesterday’s demonstrations against the Iranian regime were smaller than those on February 14th, but in fact they were both larger and more aggressive. The chants of “Death to the dictator” are now quite specific: “Death to Khamenei.” They can be heard at night in every Iranian city, and posters of the supreme leader are now burned in the streets during the fighting — for fighting it is. Perhaps we will someday see photos from Google Earth, but, lacking that, we have to go on eyewitnesses, with all the subjective limitations of such evidence, some videos, and what we know about the regime’s behavior, which is a far more reliable guide. (Somehow, this author has developed and maintained pipelines into and out of Iran. Mostly, his reports have been proven valid by later events, so he should be taken seriously. Ron P.)

Another American Spy for the Soviets Dies … and the Left Regards Her as a Hero
Excerpt: Every day, it seems, The New York Times reports on the death of another American Communist, or an American Communist who saw fit to join up with the KGB as an espionage agent for Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union. This time, the obituary by Sam Roberts is about Judith Coplon, who over sixty years ago was arrested by the FBI in a classic sting operation. The Bureau’s agents, having received solid data from the then secret Venona decrypts of KGB messages from Moscow Central to its American agents, fed her false data about atomic power. As they hoped, the 27-year-old Coplon, who was then working at the Justice Department as a political analyst, took off to meet her lover and handler, KGB agent Valentin A. Gubitchev, to whom she planned to hand over the materials. The Russian and Coplon were both arrested in 1949 under the
Third Avenue
subway line (which no longer exists) in Manhattan, and Coplon was caught red-handed. As it turned out, America’s democratic legal system protects even those Americans who were actual Soviet agents. Coplon, although found guilty by the jury of espionage in 1949 and conspiracy with Gubitchev in 1950, had both of the convictions overturned. The FBI neglected to follow protocol; they illegally heard conversations with her lawyer, and also had arrested her on “probable cause” without a necessary warrant for her arrest. Thus the civil liberties of the system Coplon wanted to destroy worked to protect her, even though she was totally guilty. (Well, I grieve her death. I grieve that it came now, and that she wasn’t shot then. ~Bob.)

Caught in the Middle East Minefield
Excerpt: America seems trapped in an exploding Middle East minefield. Revolts are breaking out amid the choke points of world commerce. Shiite populations are now restive in the Gulf monarchies. Not far away, Iran’s youth are sick and tired of the country’s seventh-century theocracy. Astride the Suez Canal, Egyptian demonstrators just threw out the Mubarak regime. On the coast of the southern Mediterranean, Tunisia and Libya are in upheaval, just a few hundred miles from Europe. The politics of rebellion are often bewildering. Theocrats in Iran, kings in the Gulf states and Jordan, dictators in Egypt and Tunisia, and thugs in Libya are all gone or threatened. Some, such as Mubarak, were often pro-American. Others, such as Libya’s Qaddafi, hate the United States. Calls for reform now come from a bewildering menu of protestors: Muslim extremists, secular pro-Western liberals, hard-core terrorists, and everyday people who just want a better life. Strategic concerns frame almost every one of these upheavals. Israel may soon have enemies on all of its borders. Iran is close to getting a nuclear weapon. All the unrest reminds us that today’s supposed friend is tomorrow’s possible enemy — with no certainty about who will end up with a deposed strongman’s arsenal of weapons.

How Obama Is Making Gas Prices Higher
Excerpt: Yesterday, for the first time since September 2008, the price of a barrel of crude oil topped $100 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. But while the recent unrest in the Middle East has had some marginal effect on rising prices, the most significant factor has been increased oil demand worldwide. That is why, long before the recent protests even began, analysts were predicting $4 a gallon by this summer and $5 a gallon by 2012. Anyone could have predicted that the recovering world economy, coupled with the continued growth of India and China, was going to push oil prices higher. So if an Administration wanted to keep gas prices down, they could have mitigated increased oil demand by increasing domestic oil production. But that is not what the Obama Administration has done. Instead of increasing domestic oil supplies, the Obama Administration has cut them at every opportunity, and Americans are now suffering because of those choices. (Libya is a political break for BO—it, not him—will be blamed for the high prices. ~Bob.)

ICE Intel Chief Suspended in Fraud Probe
I suspect crime of greed for Woosley, Jihad for Abdallet. ~Bob. Excerpt: A top U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement intelligence officer has been suspended amid allegations he helped a subordinate file bogus travel expense reports and took some of the cash they generated, an FBI agent testified in a Texas courtroom Wednesday. James M. Woosley was ICE's deputy director of intelligence at headquarters in Washington until he was placed on administrative leave Feb. 4. His suspension came the same day the FBI raided the El Paso home of Ahmed Adil Abdallat, a supervisory ICE intelligence analyst, and seized at least 29 boxes of evidence. Abdallat is accused of using a diplomatic passport to make eight personal trips to Jordan since October 2007, and receiving about $123,000 in reimbursements from phony travel expenses. He is also the subject of a larger money laundering investigation after he made three wire transfers worth a combined $570,000 to Jordan over a six month period, according to the FBI. Authorities also linked Abdallat to an additional $1.2 million in Jordanian bank accounts. Abdallat, 63, is a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Jordan.

The Decline of U.S. Naval Power
Excerpt: Not only have we lost our enthusiasm for the exploration of space, we have retreated on the seas. Up to 30 ships, the largest ever constructed, each capable of carrying 18,000 containers, will soon come off the ways in South Korea. Not only will we neither build, own, nor man them, they won't even call at our ports, which are not large enough to receive them. We are no longer exactly the gem of the ocean. Next in line for gratuitous abdication is our naval position. Separated by the oceans from sources of raw materials in the Middle East, Africa, Australia and South America, and from markets and manufacture in Europe, East Asia and India, we are in effect an island nation. Because 95% and 90% respectively of U.S. and world foreign trade moves by sea, maritime interdiction is the quickest route to both the strangulation of any given nation and chaos in the international system. First Britain and then the U.S. have been the guarantors of the open oceans. The nature of this task demands a large blue-water fleet that simply cannot be abridged. With the loss of a large number of important bases world-wide, if and when the U.S. projects military power it must do so most of the time from its own territory or the sea. Immune to political cross-currents, economically able to cover multiple areas, hypoallergenic to restive populations, and safe from insurgencies, the fleets are instruments of undeniable utility in support of allies and response to aggression. Forty percent of the world's population lives within range of modern naval gunfire, and more than two-thirds within easy reach of carrier aircraft. Nothing is better or safer than naval power and presence to preserve the often fragile reticence among nations, to protect American interests and those of our allies, and to prevent the wars attendant to imbalances of power and unrestrained adventurism. And yet the fleet has been made to wither even in time of war. We have the smallest navy in almost a century, declining in the past 50 years to 286 from 1,000 principal combatants.

Matthews Rages: Newt Gingrich Looks Like A 'Car Bomber' Who 'Loves Torturing!'
Reasoned thought from a fair and balanced journalist! LOL. ~Bob. Excerpt: Chris Matthews, once again, abandoned any notion he was serious about establishing a new tone of political civility in the wake of the Tucson shooting, as on Wednesday's Hardball he compared former Speaker of the House and possible GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich to a terrorist as he screeched "He looks like a car bomber" and even described him in demonic terms, adding: "He's got that crazy Mephistophelian grin of his. He looks like he loves torturing."

Pakistani Intelligence and the CIA: Mutual Distrust and Suspicion
Excerpt: On March 1, U.S. diplomatic sources reportedly told Dawn News that a proposed exchange with the Pakistani government of U.S. citizen Raymond Davis for Pakistani citizen Aafia Siddiqui was not going to happen. Davis is a contract security officer working for the CIA who was arrested by Pakistani police on Jan. 27 following an incident in which he shot two men who reportedly pointed a pistol at him in an apparent robbery attempt. Siddiqui was arrested by the Afghan National Police in Afghanistan in 2008 on suspicion of being linked to al Qaeda. During Siddiqui’s interrogation at a police station, she reportedly grabbed a weapon from one of her interrogators and opened fire on the American team sent to debrief her. Siddiqui was wounded in the exchange of fire and taken to Bagram air base for treatment. After her recovery, she was transported to the United States and charged in U.S. District Court in New York with armed assault and the attempted murder of U.S. government employees. Siddiqui was convicted in February 2010 and sentenced in September 2010 to 86 years in prison.

White House still has no post-Gadhafi plans
Excerpt: The Obama administration has emphatically called for Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi to step down, and has pledged assistance to the rebels seeking to overthrow him. Yet the U.S. has far less clarity on a key issue: Who's in charge of the Libyan revolution? U.S. diplomats this week began an intense effort to communicate with the protesters, seeking to understand who is leading the rebels and their long-term goals. But after three days of calls to Libya from U.S. Ambassador Gene Cretz in Washington, as well as from officials in the U.S. embassy in Rome, both of those questions remain unanswered, officials say. "There are a lot of disparate views out there," sighed a senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive diplomacy. Many of the figures who appear to be calling the shots in Libya "are really obscure," the official said. "And they really don't know yet what they want to do." Trying to figure out who's going to end up in charge, the official said, is like trying to figure out "who's going to be the Republican nominee in 2012."

Somali Islamists want to do ransom deals on board
We have to clean them out. And it will be bloody. ~Bob. Excerpt: Somali Islamist rebels have demanded their fighters be allowed to board hijacked vessels anchored off the coastal town of Haradheere to monitor the payment and division of ransoms, escalating risks to hostages. Islamists clamped down hard on piracy when they briefly ran much of Somalia in 2006, but with ransoms rising they now want a share of its earnings. Hardline Islamist militants have surrounded the pirate base to pressure gang leaders and their investors into accepting the order, pirates and residents said on Monday, after a number tried to sail ships up the coast. If rebels are allowed to board the vessels, hostages risk becoming stuck in the middle of dangerous rows or, worse, being kidnapped by al Shabaab rebels, who claim ties with al Qaeda. Shipowners fear any proven link between pirates and Islamist fighters will make it legally difficult to pay ransoms without running foul of counter-terrorism legislation.

Playing dead: The sickening video that shows children recreating suicide bomber attacks as a playground game
Kids—they blow up so fast today. Better send them the “Islam is a religion of Peace” memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: A shocking video has emerged from Pakistan depicting children role-playing a Taliban suicide bombing. The 84-second clip shows Pashtun children recreating a terrorist attack, with one boy dressed in black - the 'bomber' - being embraced and wished well by his friends before setting off on his deadly mission. In the single-take video, the 'bomber' then approaches another boy, dressed in white, who appears to be mimicking a member of the security forces and tries to stop him.

States of the Unions
Excerpt: Last year, The Times of London reported: The President of Greece warned last night that his country stood on the brink of the abyss after three people were killed when an anti-government mob set fire to the Athens bank where they worked. The Times managed to get the salient feature of the story entirely wrong. They were not an “anti-government” mob, but a government mob, a mob of "public servants" objecting to austerity measures that would end, for example, the tradition of 14 monthly paychecks per annum. You read that right: the Greek public sector cannot be bound by anything so humdrum as temporal reality. So, when it was mooted that the “workers” might henceforth receive a mere 12 monthly paychecks per annum, they rioted. Their hapless victims - a man and two women - were a trio of clerks trapped in a bank when the mob set it alight and then obstructed emergency crews attempting to rescue them. You don’t have to go to Athens to find "public servants" happy to take it out on the public. In Madison, politicized doctors provide fake sick notes for politicized teachers to skip class. In New York's Christmas snowstorm, Sanitation Department plough drivers are unable to clear the streets, with fatal consequences for some residents. On the other hand, they did manage to clear the snow from outside the Staten Island home of Sanitation Dept head honcho John Doherty, while leaving all surrounding streets pristinely clogged. Three hundred Sanitation Department workers have salaries of over $100,000 per year. In retirement, you get a pension of 66 grand per annum plus excellent health benefits, all inflation proofed. That's what "collective bargaining" is about: It enables unions rather than citizens to set the price of government. It is, thus, a direct assault on republican democracy, and it needs to be destroyed.

Funeral of a Marine KIA in Afghanistan
The price so many forget. ~Bob.

Obama seeks billions more for LaHood's war against cars
Excerpt: But after "investing" billions of borrowed dollars in transportation just two years ago, why is Obama now asking for an 84 percent increase in the Department of Transportation's budget over 2010 levels? As Ronald Utt of the Heritage Foundation pointed out earlier this week in The Examiner, the president included a $48.1 billion spending increase for DOT in his 2012 budget proposal. If Obama gets his way, Utt calculates, transportation outlays will increase more than 10 times faster than all other federal spending. The man Obama appointed in 2009 to manage the Transportation Department is former Illinois Republican Rep. Ray LaHood, who a few months ago promised to put cars and bicycles on "an equal footing" in federal funding decisions.

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