Sunday, March 6, 2011

Political Digest for March 6, 2011

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article. Nor that I disagree with them, of course.

Airlines and Oxygen
I have a business trip coming up and this time I’m on United. When you need to fly with Oxygen, each airline has different procedure hoops you must jump through. Turns out United requires a form you have to carry with you, but it must be dated within ten days of the flight. I assume they have a big problem with people who require oxygen for medical reasons getting a doctor’s note, having a miracle cure, then flying around pulling an expensive oxygen concentrator they don’t need, just to mess with them. Bureaucrats.

CIA chief nailed for sex crimes and cocaine
Excerpt: An official with the Central Intelligence Agency, was sentenced Thursday to more than five years in federal prison. The charges were: abusive sexual contact and unlawful use of cocaine while in possession of a firearm. Andrew Warren, 43, pleaded guilty to the charges in June 2010 and was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by the U.S. District Court Judge Ellen S. Huvelle. Judge Huvelle also sentenced Warren to 10 years of supervised release following his prison term…. While during his arrest in April 2010 Warren struggled with police officers -- he was injured and wheelchair-bound -- he was not charged with resisting arrest. During his plea hearing last year, Warren admitted that on February 17, 2008, he committed abusive sexual contact while on U.S. embassy property in Algiers, Algeria, by engaging in sex with a female victim after he rendered her unconscious. Additionally, Warren admitted that on April 26, 2010, he unlawfully used cocaine while possessing a Glock, 9 millimeter semi-automatic pistol in Norfolk, Virginia. Warren was considered a rising star in the CIA and became the CIA station chief in Algeria. He is fluent in Arabic and had converted to Islam, making him an ideal officer in the Middle East for the intelligence agency. He was recalled from Algeria in October 2008 and then fired after two women came forward and accused him of raping them.

We fought for their "freedom" under Clinton. Now they attack and kill our men in uniform:
Excerpt: I just received an article reminding that it was Albanians who killed those American military men in Frankfurt and that the US and allies had staunchly defended the Albanians in Kosovo and helped them win their “freedom”. Years ago, when the US and allies were embroiled in the Kosovo conflict, I had the sense that we were on the wrong side, and that what was called “ethnic cleansing” was really a rather crude (ok, perhaps even botched), attempt on the part of Serbs to hold onto a territory that had been theirs from time immemorial and was full of mementos of a Serbian past, including Orthodox monasteries and churches. I sensed that the Serbs were not exactly persecuting Albanians out of racism, as was charged by the Western media and the allied governments. Back then I received information that corroborated this suspicion. Linked below is one of many examples of how Serbs are now mistreated by Muslims, mostly Albanians, who have no historic claims whatsoever to the territory we so stupidly gave them under Clinton (warning: this is not for the faint-hearted):

Texas Lawmaker wants to let single families hire Illegals
How about bordellos? ~Bob. Excerpt: Undocumented nannies, housekeepers or lawn caretakers in the state of Texas can perhaps breathe easier about deportation. While new legislation in the Texas House of Representatives would make it a state crime to hire undocumented workers, it excludes those employed in single-family households -- in other words, them. The bill, introduced by state GOP Rep. Debbie Riddle, is the first of its kind in the country. It's unique in that while it appeases those who want more stringent immigration laws, it doesn't subject Texas households to the rule that would mainly apply to businesses and large employers. Critics of the bill say it's hypocritical. Supporters charge it's needed in a state where the Hispanic population continues to climb swiftly.

U.K. Pulls Plug on United Nations Spending, in Move That is Bound to Hearten U.S. Critics
Excerpt: Critics of U.S. spending on the United Nations got a huge boost—and supporters of that spending, especially the Obama Administration, took a body blow—from an unlikely source this week: the British government, long one of the U.N.’s staunchest supporters. In a sweeping and hard-nosed reorganization of priorities for its $10.6 billion multilateral foreign aid program, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government of Prime Minister David Cameron has pulled the financial plug entirely on four U.N. agencies at the end of next year, put three others judged merely “adequate” on notice that they could face the same fate unless they improve their performance “as a matter of absolute urgency;” and issued pointed criticisms of almost all the rest. The major exception: UNICEF, the U.N. children’s aid agency, which got a strong endorsement and a funding increase. The tough actions were revealed as the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, led by House Foreign Affairs Committee chairperson Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, has been gearing up an extended critical look at U.N. funding as part of its overall budget austerity plan

Good column: Remembering The Alamo
Excerpt: March 6 marks the anniversary of the fall of the Alamo back in 1836. For more than 13 days, 186 brave and determined patriots withstood Santa Anna’s seasoned army of over 4,000 troops. To a man, the defenders of that mission fort knew they would never leave those ramparts alive. They had several opportunities to leave and live. Yet, they chose to fight and die. How foolish they must look to this generation of spoiled Americans It is difficult to recall that stouthearted men such as Davy Crockett (a nationally known frontiersman and former congressman), Will Travis (only 23 years old with a little baby at home), and Jim Bowie (a wealthy landowner with properties on both sides of the Rio Grande) really existed. These were real men with real dreams and real desires. Real blood flowed through their veins. They loved their families and enjoyed life as much as any of us do. There was something different about them, however. They possessed a commitment to liberty that transcended personal safety and comfort. Liberty is an easy word to say, but it is a hard word to live up to. Freedom has little to do with financial gain or personal pleasure. Accompanying Freedom is her constant and unattractive companion, Responsibility. Neither is she an only child. Patriotism and Morality are her sisters. They are inseparable: destroy one and all will die.

Release the names of gun owners?
Excerpt: Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan wants to make public the names of every law-abiding citizen who owns a gun. That sounds like so much politics aimed at those who don't like the idea of people owning guns. You can see the political potential for Lisa. But when those names are released, there's potential of another kind. Burglars may target law abiding residents to steal their valuable firearms. Some people may get hurt. I'm not just talking about the burglars, who shouldn't expect milk and cookies if they break into someone's home.

An OMG moment at Northwestern
Excerpt: Finally, the high cost of an American college education has been explained. Naturally, there are professor salaries and dorm upkeep and research expenses. But there are always other unpredictable costs at a place like Northwestern University. Like the cost of the sex shows. Like the hundreds of dollars NU is paying a guest speaker who brought a couple to "perform" after a wildly popular class called Human Sexuality, which is taught by the wildly popular professor John Michael Bailey.

U.S. gun-tracing operation let firearms into criminal hands
When reports of this first came in to me through the kind folks who feed this blog, I didn’t credit it. Seemed like an anti-government conspiracy theory. They couldn’t be this stupid, right? Wrong. ~Bob. Excerpt: A federal operation that allowed weapons from the U.S. to pass into the hands of suspected gun smugglers so they could be traced to the higher echelons of Mexican drug cartels has lost track of hundreds of firearms, many of which have been linked to crimes, including the fatal shooting of a Border Patrol agent in December. The investigation, known as Operation Fast and Furious, was conducted even though U.S. authorities suspected that some of the weapons might be used in crimes, according to a variety of federal agents who voiced anguished objections to the operation. Many of the weapons have spread across the most violence-torn states in Mexico, with at least 195 linked to some form of crime or law enforcement action, according to documents obtained by the Center for Public Integrity and The Times. (OK, just when you thought our southern border mess was as messy as it could get, we find out that in the incredible all time genius move of decades, the ATF was deliberately allowing weapons to get purchased in the US and smuggled into Mexico. Two of the 1700+ guns that went south showed up back in the US, and were used against our Border Patrol agents in the firefight that killed one of them. And it gets better- some of those agents were only firing beanbags at the criminals, as part of a policy to try to avoid any deaths. Great idea, and it did avoid any deaths on the part of the criminals, I guess it's just too bad about them using real bullets and killing one of our guys. This is way beyond nuts, and there should be some high level people in the ATF and elsewhere looking for new jobs. Or looking for a good lawyer to defend them in court for their malfeasance in office that led to the death of a Border Patrolman. I can't even imagine how his family must feel about this. Of course, if you were paranoid you might think somebody on high wanted those US guns to go south, so that then it would make it easier to claim the cartels get all their guns from us; and then the anti-gun legislators can go into overdrive. But naah... such insidious planning couldn't come from anti-gun people in high offices. Sure, we know that can't possibly be true. What a pitiful mess, and fully the responsibility of the people who we pay to protect us! --Del)

Federal agent: I was ordered to let U.S. guns into Mexico
Excerpt: Federal agent John Dodson says what he was asked to do was beyond belief. He was intentionally letting guns go to Mexico? "Yes ma'am," Dodson told CBS News. "The agency was." An Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms senior agent assigned to the Phoenix office in 2010, Dodson's job is to stop gun trafficking across the border. Instead, he says he was ordered to sit by and watch it happen. Investigators call the tactic letting guns "walk." In this case, walking into the hands of criminals who would use them in Mexico and the United States. Dodson's bosses say that never happened. Now, he's risking his job to go public. "I'm boots on the ground in Phoenix, telling you we've been doing it every day since I've been here," he said. "Here I am. Tell me I didn't do the things that I did. Tell me you didn't order me to do the things I did. Tell me it didn't happen. Now you have a name on it. You have a face to put with it. Here I am. Someone now, tell me it didn't happen."

ATF Mexican gun-smuggling sting scrutinize​d: Agency accused of losing track of guns that wound up with drug cartels
Newly released U.S. records and assertions by a government whistle-blower support allegations that government agents allowed hundreds of firearms to be smuggled across the Arizona border and into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. The records, released by a member of Congress, have prompted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to call for an independent review of a campaign designed to dismantle Mexican crime syndicates that purportedly wound up arming them instead. The Arizona Republic reported last month that investigators have confirmed that two weapons connected to the ATF operations were found at the scene of a December gunbattle near Rio Rico, Ariz., where Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed by suspected border bandits.

Mexico's Female Police Chief Flees to US
Excerpt: Marisol Valles was hailed as "Mexico's bravest woman" after she agreed to take the job in Praxedis Guadalupe Guerrero, a no-man's-land close to the Texas border, in October. But she has since been targeted by a criminal gang that wanted to make her work for them. After several months in the job she was forced to flee, along with two relatives, and will seek asylum in the US.

R. I. State Police superintendent resigns
Sometimes, folks stand for principle and career be damned. ~Bob. Excerpt: Two weeks after he was confirmed for a new term as state police superintendent –– and a week after a public disagreement with Governor Chafee over immigration policy — Col. Brendan P. Doherty resigned Thursday. His sudden announcement surprised the Rhode Island law-enforcement community, as well as Chafee. Doherty delivered his resignation to the governor in a noontime meeting he characterized as “cordial and professional.” Only a week earlier, the two had met privately to sort over a public dispute. Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven M. Pare had asked permission from the federal government for Providence to opt out of the Secure Communities program, an initiative aimed at determining whether criminal suspects are in the country illegally. Doherty said he thought that Providence’s position was “dangerous and irresponsible,” and said so in a news release. That prompted the governor to tell Doherty to stop commenting while Chafee formulated his policy.

The Green Thing
Excerpt: In the line at the store, the cashier told the older woman that plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. The woman apologized to her and explained, “We didn’t have the green thing back in my day.” That’s right, they didn’t have the green thing in her day. Back then, they returned their milk bottles, Coke bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, using the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But they didn’t have the green thing back her day. In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks.

The Only Way Out for the American Economy
Excerpt: Economic despair reigns in America, as stagnation and mounting debt make our future look hopeless. Yet America is uniquely positioned to rebound and recover our economic preeminence. All that is necessary is a political decision to reverse our energy policy and stimulate domestic production of hydrocarbons. From that would flow a true economic stimulus that would mend many of our ills. The United States is again, for the second time in less than three years, being reminded of its absurd dependence of foreign sources of energy, most notably, oil. The upheavals in the Middle East have driven up the cost of a barrel of oil into triple digits as it was in 2008. The increasing demands of countries such as China and India and the deliberate devaluation of the dollar by the Federal Reserve and the Obama administration are steadily pushing up oil prices in dollars. The country's dependence of foreign sources has increased to 52% of the daily requirement as compared to 45% just 15 years ago. Over half of that amount comes from countries that are inherently unstable or ruled by despotic regimes whose interest it is to de-stabilize the United States. Yet the United States is sitting on the world's largest untapped oil reserve. A natural resource that would not only mitigate the over $400 Billion sent overseas to other countries but could create untold millions of jobs and put the country on a sound financial footing. (More fun to let the poor starve and freeze, the country collapse and there be blood in the streets. ~Bob.)

Judge Orders 'Expedited Appeal' of Obamacare for the Good of the Nation
Excerpt: A federal judge in Florida, clearly annoyed by the Justice Department's request for "clarification" of his ruling that the new health care law is unconstitutional, on Thursday granted a stay of his February ruling -- but only if the government files an appeal seeking an expedited review of that ruling, either in the Court of Appeals or with the Supreme Court, within 7 days. Judge Roger Vinson noted that the Obama administration has had more than a month to file an appeal and has not yet done so. "It should not be at all difficult or challenging to 'fast-track' this case," he wrote in his clarification. "It is very important to everyone in this country that this case move forward as soon as practically possible." (I heard this on NPR's 2:00PM News Thursday and have been looking for coverage ever since. This is the first I've found--at 5:15PM on Friday. Always good to know the MSM is keeping us informed. Ron P.)

Attacks, Attempts Show Cost of Radicalization
Excerpt: He was living the American dream, but Faisal Shahzad gave it up to wage jihad and try to kill Americans with a car bomb near Times Square last May. In a pre-recorded video issued by the Pakistani Taliban, Shahzad recounted a spiritual journey that led him to give up a promising career as a financial analyst and become a terrorist just one year after becoming an American citizen. "I had everything in the world. I had a nice car. I had a house. I had an excellent job," he said. "They were paying me good money. But deep inside I always had this thought that there's probably more than this to life." He was raised in a moderate Muslim family, Shahzad said. It was only when he started studying on his own that he learned the significance of jihad.

The Inmates are Running the Asylum
Excerpt: The Libyan regime, which is currently massacring its citizens in a desperate bid to remain in power, successfully sought a place on the Human Rights Council only last year. U.N. General Assembly Resolution 60/251, which created the council, stated that when electing members of the council, U.N. member states "shall take into account the contribution of candidates to the promotion and protection of human rights." Only through an Orwellian flight of fancy could Libya's contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights ever have been considered positive. Recent events have made it more akin to a sick joke. Nevertheless, in a secret ballot, 155 states voted in favor of granting Libya a coveted place on the council. These votes were given to a country that was known to be involved in extrajudicial and summary executions, brutal torture, and aiding and abetting international terrorism. Even now, the United Nations has dithered on its responsibility to the Libyan people. It only recently decided to suspend the Libyan delegation from the council, after many days and hundreds of Libyans murdered. Even the Arab League moved quicker than the United Nations

Excellent: A Speech Every American High School Principal Should Give
This was just brought to my attention. If every Principal had the courage t implement this, and every school board to back it up, we could fix education. Boy, would there be howling, though. ~Bob. Excerpt: I would like to apprise you of some important changes coming to our school. I am making these changes because I am convinced that most of the ideas that have dominated public education in America have worked against you, against your teachers and against our country. First, this school will no longer honor race or ethnicity. I could not care less if your racial makeup is black, brown, red, yellow or white. I could not care less if your origins are African, Latin American, Asian or European, or if your ancestors arrived here on the Mayflower or on slave ships. The only identity I care about, the only one this school will recognize, is your individual identity -- your character, your scholarship, your humanity. And the only national identity this school will care about is American. This is an American public school, and American public schools were created to make better Americans. If you wish to affirm an ethnic, racial or religious identity through school, you will have to go elsewhere. We will end all ethnicity-, race- and non-American nationality-based celebrations. They undermine the motto of America, one of its three central values -- e pluribus unum, "from many, one." And this school will be guided by America's values.

Gov. Walker: Obama Should Fix His Own Budget Crisis
Excerpt: In a Newsmax.TV exclusive interview, determined Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Friday began the legal notification process that could lead to 1,500 state employees losing their jobs in April. He also said that President Barack Obama should stay out of his state’s fiscal crisis and instead ought to focus on “the much, much graver budget crisis we have in our nation’s capital, which he’s failed to lead on.” The GOP governor said the jobs will be saved, however, if at least one of 14 AWOL Democratic state senators return to the state next week, which would allow the Wisconsin Senate the quorum it needs to pass Walker’s “budget repair bill.” (Don’t be silly. Attacking Walker is easy and helps Obama with his union base. Fixing the Federal budget is hard and hurts him. ~Bob.)

13 Mexican troops charged with transporting drugs

Excerpt: The Mexican army has ordered three junior officers and 10 soldiers to stand trial on drug trafficking and organized crime charges after they were allegedly caught with more than a ton of methamphetamines and 66 pounds (30 kilograms) of cocaine. The soldiers were arrested last week with drugs at a military checkpoint south of Tijuana, across the border from San Diego. They are being charged within the military justice system.

Time to reconsider our Foreign Aid program
An interesting short speech about who we give money to in our Foreign Aid programs. Russia, China, Cuba, Venezuela? People who hate us or are in competition with us, and have their own resources to take care of their problems. This really is crazy, and it sure seems like a good place to save a few billions. You know, a billion here, a billion there, and after a while it adds up to real money! --Del

Italy makes immigrants speak Italian for work visa
Liberals want us to be more like Europe, here’s the place to start. ~Bob. Excerpt: Svetlana Cojochru feels insulted. The Moldovan has lived here seven years as a nanny to Italian kids and caregiver to the elderly, but in order to stay she's had to prove her language skills by writing a postcard to an imaginary friend and answering a fictional job ad. “I feel like a guest," said Cojochru. She had just emerged from Beato Angelico middle school where she took a language test to comply with a new law requiring basic Italian proficiency for permanent residency permits following five years of legal residence. Italy is the latest Western European country turning the screws on an expanding immigrant population by demanding language skills in exchange for work permits, or in some cases, citizenship. While enacted last year in the name of integration, these requirements also reflect anxiety that foreigners might dilute fiercely-prized national identity or even, especially in Britain's case, pose terror risks.
Sweater, gloves required when driving Volt in cold
The coal-powered Obama Volt! ~Bob. Excerpt: The potential popularity of electric vehicles has always been tempered in cold climates like here in Canada because of the concerns that freezing temperatures will reduce the range of an EV’s batteries. And now a long-tem test report of the Chevrolet Volt, in the U.S. magazine Motor Trend, has confirmed that fear and also suggests you may have to keep your winter clothes on while driving the plug-in electric hybrid during colder days. The magazine found that the Volt uses up a “considerable” amount of battery range to heat up its cabin on colder days, reducing its range to well below 30 miles (48 kms) before draining the battery and reverting to its gas generator to recharge the batteries and power its electric motor — much lower than the optimal 64 km estimate.

Harvard for Tyrants: How Muammar al-Qaddafi taught a generation of bad guys.
Excerpt: Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi is well known now for the abuses he has inflicted on his own people during more than four decades of brutal rule in Libya, but few remember the vast campaign of carnage and terrorism he orchestrated across West Africa and Europe when he was at the height of his powers. Ortega and Chávez are among the handful of leaders to publicly defend the Libyan leader's attacks on his own people and urge him to hang on for one last revolutionary battle. In 2004, Qaddafi awarded Chávez the al-Qaddafi International Prize for Human Rights, created by the Libyan dictator. Chávez, who in turn bestowed Venezuela's highest civilian honor on Qaddafi in 2009 while comparing him to South American liberator Simón Bolívar, has now offered publicly to mediate the Libyan conflict. Thus far, only Qaddafi has reportedly accepted the offer. The ties that bind Qaddafi to some of the world's most repressive regimes and armed movements began in the 1980s, when he was regarded as one of the premier terrorist threats in the world. Flush with oil money, Qaddafi orchestrated a training campaign for those who became the most brutal warlords in much of Africa, a legacy that has left the region crippled and unstable today. (You would think that articles about this would have been appearing in our media for years, but somehow it all got missed. Yet it's certainly important to understand how what could be called an anti-American conspiracy has been brewing for many years, in several different ways. This is one of the ways, Iranian machinations represents another. And that's not all. We don't need to be paranoid, but lots of people ARE out to get us! --Del)

Egypt: Mob of 4,000 Rampaging Muslims Attack Christian Homes, Torch Church
Yup. bunch of Jeffersonian democrats yearning to breathe the free air of a pluralist democracy. Our media has it pegged. ~Bob. Excerpt: This incident was triggered by a relationship between 40-year-old Copt Ashraf Iskander and a Muslim woman. Yesterday a “reconciliation” meeting was arranged between the relevant Coptic and Muslim families and together with the Muslim elders it was decided that Ashraf Iskander would have to leave the village because Muslims torched his house. The father of the Muslim woman was killed by his cousin because he did not kill his daughter to preserve the family’s honor, which led the woman’s brother to avenge the death of his father by killing the cousin. The village Muslims blamed the Christians. The Muslim mob attacked the church, exploding 5-6 gas cylinders inside the church, pulled down the cross and the domes and burnt everything inside. Activist Ramy Kamel of Katibatibia Coptic advocacy called US-based Coptic Hope Sat TV and sent an SOS on behalf of the Copts in Soul village, as they are presently being attacked by the mob. He also said that no one is able to contact the priest and the deacons inside the burning church and there is no answer from their mobile phones.

Bowing to Persecutors Endangers Christians
Excerpt: The Obama administration can be quite eloquent on the subject of human rights. The president said in his statement on the recent mass demonstrations in Egypt that “I believe that the Egyptian people want the same things that we all want—a better life for ourselves and our children, and a government that is fair and just and responsive.” The problem with such lovely words is that they don’t square with his administration’s actions. Nor do they equate to reality in Egypt. Egyptians are quick to tell Pew Poll researchers that they, too, favor human rights, that they support a free press and regular, popular elections. But these same Egyptians—84 percent of them—tell the Pew Foundation pollsters that anyone who converts to Christianity or Judaism from Islam should be put to death. People who want to kill their neighbors for changing their religion or practicing a different religion will never enjoy democracy. America settled this issue in 1786 with the famous Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, whose principles were affirmed in 1787 in our Constitution, and again in 1791 in our Bill of Rights. Failure to take seriously the need for religious freedom will doom any attempts at democracy. The grounding of human liberty rests in the belief that our rights come from God.

Exclusive: NASA Scientist Claims Evidence of Alien Life on Meteorite
Excerpt: We are not alone in the universe—and alien life forms may have a lot more in common with life on Earth than we had previously thought. That's the stunning conclusion one NASA scientist has come to, releasing his groundbreaking revelations in a new study in the March edition of the Journal of Cosmology. Dr. Richard B. Hoover, an astrobiologist with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, has traveled to remote areas in Antarctica, Siberia, and Alaska, amongst others, for over ten years now, collecting and studying meteorites. He gave early access to the out-of-this-world research, published late Friday evening in the March edition of the Journal of Cosmology. In it, Hoover describes the latest findings in his study of an extremely rare class of meteorites, called CI1 carbonaceous chondrites -- only nine such meteorites are known to exist on Earth. (If true, this would be wonderful news. Had the test meteorite been captured in space and returned to Earth in a re-entry vehicle, there’d be far fewer questions. But, all these meteorites—and especially the one being studied—were found on Earth, after an unknown time period on/in the ground. There are also a host of ways in which the sample could have been contaminated. So, until and unless this finding can be replicated, it must remain in the realm of “maybe,” not the realm of “is.” Ron P.)

Recycling research: meteorite alien life discovery dubious?
Excerpt: You may have seen the breathless coverage on Fox News of the alien life discovery from NASA’s Dr. Hoover — in some fancy meteorite. The “exclusive” nature of the discovery was hailed as evidence that we are not alone. Last week, we discovered that tangentially with the self-professed origination of Charlie Sheen from Mars. Anyhow, Adrian Chen at Gawker has found that this research is hardly new, and simply an update or recycling of claims made since 2004 by Dr. Hoover: So, we’re calling bull$h%t on Richard Hoover’s discovery, and Fox News’ ‘exclusive’. Maybe Hoover really has found life (probably not). But it’s not news, and it’s far, far from certain. (...) Is this a legitimate press release by a scientist with a profound new discovery or another example of “science by press release”? We report, you decide — or you follow up on your own, as in the case of the Ole Gray Lady. Alternatively, just use Google and find a very similar press release from 2004: Evidence for Indigenous Microfossils in a Carbonaceous Meteorite. (So much for Fox's "Exclusive." It appears I’m not the only one with doubts about how definitive Hoover’s claims of finding extraterrestrial life are. If you follow the link at the end of the excerpt, look at the publication date. Good pictures there, too, if you're into microbes. Ron P.)

DOJ summons rogue ATF agents to D.C. for strategy meeting
Excerpt: In an attempt to maximize damage control and to insure all of the key players are on the same page, the Department of Justice has summoned to D.C. its rogue ATF agents who were involved in the U.S. guns-to-Mexico scandal for a strategy meeting on Monday. According to at least two whistleblowers, the meeting is designed to make sure the key players 'have the same script and tell the same lies.' The ATF--the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives--and its parent agency, the Department of Justice, have been under intense scrutiny in recent days as news of the illegal scheme to 'walk' U.S. guns into Mexico in order to pad statistics has received growing attention in the news media. CBS Evening News with Katie Couric has done at least three segments on the story, two of which were aired during the past week. And the top radio show in the nation, Rush Limbaugh, did a segment on the story yesterday.

Worth Reading: Decline Is in the Mind
I don’t fear decline. I fear collapse. ~Bob. Excerpt: In this present age, no one in this administration in the abstract can explain why Israel is a more humane place than Syria — and why that fact deserves our preference. Or why Japan plays more by the rules than does China, or why Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic deserve our empathy and support in a way Russia does not. Or why a jail in Guantanamo is more humane than any outside the fence in Cuba. (In truth, the inmate at Gitmo has access to better food, healthcare, and freedom of religion than the “free” man in Castroland). In short, traditionalists are aghast at the last two years, and see it as a sort of gangrene that has spread from a long festering but heretofore treatable old wound. (Brilliant, as always. –Del)

Rory Reid’s gubernatorial campaign circumvented contribution limits, created 91 shell PACs to infuse $750,000 into campaign
A chip off the old blockhead. ~Bob. Excerpt: In one of the most brazen schemes in Nevada history, gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid’s campaign formed 91 shell political action committees that were used to funnel three quarters of a million dollars into his campaign, circumventing contribution limits and violating at least the spirit – and maybe the letter – of the laws governing elections. Reid, who was fully aware of what was done, essentially received more than $750,000 from one PAC – 75 times the legal limit -- after his team created dozens of smaller PACS that had no other purpose other than to serve as conduits from a larger entity that the candidate funded by asking large donors for money. Indeed, the shell PACs were formed in the fall and dissolved on Dec. 31, after they had served their short-term function, which was to help the candidate evade campaign contribution laws.

Filmmaker Michael Moore will join Saturday's protests at the Capitol
Trotsky was dead, ice-picked by a fellow progressive, so they had to settle for Moore. Hide the cheeseburgers. ~Bob. Excerpt: Filmmaker Michael Moore will march with members of Madison Firefighters Local 311 to the Capitol Saturday and join a rally at the King Street entrance around 2 p.m. Moore will speak up for union rights and cheer on the protests at a rally organized by the Wisconsin Wave movement, which has been backed by Wisconsin labor, farm, community and grass roots groups. U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, former Mayor Paul Soglin, state Rep. Kelda Helen Roys (D-Madison), Liberty Tree Foundation director and Wisconsin Wave organizer Ben Manski and others will also speak, while singers Ryan Bingham, Jon Langford and Michelle Shocked will also join the rally.

What, me worry? China ups defense spending 12.7%
Excerpt: Speaking at a news conference, Mr. Li said that the extra money would be spent on new weaponry and pay increases. At 2.3 million soldiers, the People's Liberation Army is the world's largest land force, and the Chinese Navy and Air Force have been rapidly modernizing their arsenals. The Chinese Air Force conducted its first flight test of a stealth fighter jet, the J-20, in January while Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates was in Beijing resuming top-level military relations after a year-long estrangement. The Pentagon has said that China's navy could deploy its first aircraft carrier this year. By any measure, however, China's armed force are a shadow of the United States' military, with a 2010 budget of roughly $700 billion, 11 aircraft carriers, 139 stealth fighters and a nearly 2,400 conventional fighter jets - almost a thousand more than in China. At less than two percent of gross domestic product, "China's defense spending is relatively low by world standards," Mr. Li said. China's neighbors nonetheless have been rattled recently by what some outside analysts have called Beijing's newly aggressive military posture, particularly in contested Pacific waters off the east coast.

Mosques Flourish in America; Churches Perish in Muslim World
Excerpt: As Muslims prepare to erect a mega-mosque near the site of the 9/11 atrocities, it is well to reflect that the sort of tolerance, or indifference, that allows them to do so is far from reciprocated to churches in the Muslim world. I speak not of Islamist attacks against churches — such as the New Year’s Eve attack in Egypt that killed 21 Christians; or when jihadists stormed a church in Iraq, butchering over 50 Christians; or Christmas Eve attacks on churches in Nigeria and the Philippines. Nor am I referring to state-sanctioned hostility by Islamist regimes, such as Iran’s recent “round up” of Christians. Rather, I refer to anti-church policy by Middle East governments deemed “moderate.” Consider: Kuwait just denied, without explanation, a request to build a church; so did Indonesia, forcing Christians to celebrate Christmas in a parking lot — even as a mob of 1,000 Muslims burned down two other churches. If this is the fate of churches in “moderate” Indonesia and Kuwait — the latter’s sovereignty due entirely to U.S. sacrifices in the First Gulf War — what can be expected of the rest of the Islamic world? The best example of anti-church policy is Egypt, where the Middle East’s largest Christian minority, the Copts, lives. Even before Mubarak stepped down, “more than 1500 assaults on Copts have occurred, without any appropriate punishment given to criminals or compensation to the victims,” according to Coptic Solidarity.

The New Middle East
Excerpt: A new Middle East is upon us and its primary beneficiary couldn’t be happier. In a speech Monday in the Iranian city of Kermanshah, Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Politburo Chief Gen. Yadollah Javani crowed, “Iran’s pivotal role in the New Middle East is undeniable. Today the Islamic Revolution of the Iranian nation enjoys such a power, honor and respect in the world that all nations and governments wish to have such a ruling system.” Iran’s leaders have eagerly thrown their newfound weight around. For instance, Iran is challenging Saudi Arabia’s ability to guarantee the stability of global oil markets. (…) In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged that Iran is deeply involved in all the anti-regime protests and movements from Egypt to Yemen to Bahrain and beyond. “Either directly or through proxies, they are constantly trying to influence events. They have a very active diplomatic foreign policy outreach,” Clinton said. Iranian officials, Hezbollah and Hamas terrorists and other Iranian agents have played pivotal roles in the anti-regime movements in Yemen and Bahrain. Their operations are the product of Iran’s long-running policy of developing close ties to opposition figures in these countries as well as in Egypt, Kuwait, Oman and Morocco.

OHIO: Union Supporters Disrupt GOP Senators' Restaurant Meal
If the Tea Party did this to Democrats, the media would wet themselves in delight, eager to report on the “violent right.” This is the type of “civility” you can expect from the left. ~Bob. Excerpt: "It could have (gotten physical)," said Sen. Frank LaRose, 31, a Fairlawn Republican who served as a Green Beret. "The group was agitated and they were shoving the owner, and he had nothing to do with this." LaRose said it didn't take special intelligence training to notice that while the lawmakers were eating, a woman walked past the window several times, poked her head in the door and got on her cell phone. "It was planned," LaRose said. "They gathered as a group and waited until they had about 10 people before they caused a disturbance." When the group burst into the restaurant, the woman, Monica Moran, deputy director of public affairs for SEIU District 1199, raised her hands in the air, yelled "Can I have your attention?" and then shouted "something nasty," LaRose said. Soon after, the rest of the group of men and women joined in with a chant. "They stormed through my dining room," said George Stefanidis, owner of the Easy Street Cafe. "I told them they had to leave, and they wouldn't." Stefanidis said he called 911 when the protesters refused to leave. LaRose said there was pushing and shoving with the restaurant staff. Meanwhile, someone on the outside slapped an anti-Senate Bill 5 sign on the window near where Niehaus was sitting.

Armies of Expensive Lawyers, Replaced by Cheaper Software
Excerpt: When five television studios became entangled in a Justice Department antitrust lawsuit against CBS, the cost was immense. As part of the obscure task of “discovery” — providing documents relevant to a lawsuit — the studios examined six million documents at a cost of more than $2.2 million, much of it to pay for a platoon of lawyers and paralegals who worked for months at high hourly rates. But that was in 1978. Now, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, “e-discovery” software can analyze documents in a fraction of the time for a fraction of the cost. In January, for example, Blackstone Discovery of Palo Alto, Calif., helped analyze 1.5 million documents for less than $100,000.

Excerpt: Halal meat is being routinely served at some of Britain’s most popular sporting venues, pubs, schools and hospitals without the public’s knowledge, it has emerged. All beef, chicken and lamb sold to fans at Wembley Stadium has been secretly prepared in accordance with strict Islamic law. And hundreds of pubs and restaurants in Britain, as well as top racecourses, schools and hospitals, now only serve chicken that has been ritually slaughtered according to Sharia Law.

Police: Husband's Body 'Quartered,' Thrown Off Bridge
Must have been a “job Americans won’t do.” ~Bob. Excerpt: We're learning more details about how authorities believe a missing family was killed. In court Friday, Omaha police detective Chris Spencer said men tortured Vanderlei Szczepanik, who went missing with his wife, Jaqueline, and their 7-year-old son, Christopher. Authorities had said the family was killed on Dec. 17, 2009, which is the last time they were seen. Spencer said Vanderlei was "quartered," put into a sack with rocks and thrown off the South Omaha Bridge. Police said, from the time the Szczepaniks disappeared until the time of the first arrests in this case, the family's bank account was drained from $24,000 to less than $1,000. Authorities believe Vanderlei was forced to sign blank checks before he was killed. Valdeir Goncalves-Santos More. Investigators said they believe Jaqueline and Christopher Szczepanik were murdered as well, but how they met their fate was not discussed in court. (The three suspects are all illegal immigrants from Brazil, police said.

No, not terrorism, but a 'tragic event'
Excerpt: The strange shrunken spectator who serves as president of the United States, offering what he called "a few words about the tragic event that took place," announced that he was "saddened," and expressed his "gratitude for the service of those who were lost" and would "spare no effort" to "work with the German authorities" but it was a "stark reminder" of the "extraordinary sacrifices that our men and women in uniform are making ..." The passivity of these remarks is very telling. Men and women "in uniform" (which it's not clear these airmen were even wearing) understand they may be called upon to make "extraordinary sacrifices" in battle. They do not expect to be "lost" on the shuttle bus at the hands of a civilian employee at a passenger air terminal in an allied nation. But then I don't suppose their comrades expected to be "lost" at the hands of an army major at Fort Hood, to cite the last "tragic event" that "took place" – which seems to be the president's preferred euphemism for a guy opening fire while screaming "Allahu akbar!" But relax, this fellow in Frankfurt was most likely a "lone wolf" (as Senator Chuck Schumer described the Times Square Bomber) or an "isolated extremist" (as the president described the Christmas Day Pantybomber). There are so many of these "lone wolves" and "isolated extremists" you may occasionally wonder whether they've all gotten together and joined Local 473 of the Amalgamated Union of Lone Wolves and Isolated Extremists, but don't worry about it: As any Homeland Security official can tell you, "Allahu akbar" is Arabic for "Nothing to see here."

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and racial harassment laws
Excerpt: Press coverage of Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Tex., usually focuses on her megalomania (“‘I am a queen, and I demand to be treated like a queen,’ Jackson-Lee once said”), her race-baiting (like claiming the Tea Party is an offshoot of the Ku Klux Klan, and that the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina was racist), and her amazing ignorance (like not knowing that astronauts landed on the Moon, not Mars; and not knowing what happened in the Vietnam War). But being a race-baiting megalomaniac is no crime. It is against the law, however, to racially harass your employees. And a recent story in Daily Caller suggests that many of her black employees could have viable racial-harassment claims against her.

Don't underestimate Newt Gingrich
Excerpt: Newt Gingrich is by far one of the most important and brilliant pubic officials America has ever produced. He had a 20-year career in the US House of Representatives rising through the Republican ranks to become one of the most powerful Speakers of the House in US history. He is credited for the 1994 Republican Revolution taking over both houses of congress – the first time in 40 years, writing the Contracts with America, balancing the federal budget, passing monumental welfare reform, and was able to unify the fractious post-Reagan conservative movement to usher in a new generation of conservative leaders and activists. For a Republican to win the GOP presidential nomination they typically must appeal and win over the three primary groups of the conservative movement – fiscal, social, and national security conservatives. On a policy level, there is no doubt Gingrich has much appeal to all three and could potentially unify them, even if loosely held together.

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