Showing posts from September, 2008

Protest video gets Russian officer sent to far east

BBC: A Russian army lieutenant is being sent to the Russian Far East after making a rap video complaining about conditions in his St Petersburg barracks. The video, posted on the Russian equivalent of YouTube, is set to the tune of 'Stan', by US rapper Eminem. In it the lieutenant laments the peeling walls and filthy bathroom and mouldy showers at his base. But he is now being sent to Ussuriysk, a coal-mining town which is nine-hours flying from Moscow. The video - titled "A letter to the minister of defence" - features footage of the squalid living conditions in the barracks. The soldier's musical complaint sees him read out an email he is writing to the Russian defence minister, asking what happened to the mortgages promised to soldiers to buy decent places to live. And why did he never receive a reply to his previous letters, he asks? ... The video is at the BBC link above. Squalid conditions appear to be the norm in the Russian army. I am sure this creates

UK honors its inmates

From the Telegraph: Prison staff told to call inmates 'Mr' I am reminded of the procedures for the old Marine Corps brig or detention facility. Brig rats were not even permitted to be called Marines. When exercising in an outdoor "parade ground" that was covered with a grid of white lines, the prisoners were required to stop and come to attention in front of each white line and yell out, "Prisoner number XXXXX request permission to cross the white line, sir." It demanded discipline and it took away privileges. The prisoners we also not permitted to salute, since the officer would be required to return a salute as a matter of respect that the prisoner did not deserve. I suspect the UK system will be a disaster.

Environmental wackos challenge Palin on polar bears

Guardian: The Republican Sarah Palin and her officials in the Alaskan state government drew on the work of at least six scientists known to be sceptical about the dangers and causes of global warming, to back efforts to stop polar bears being protected as an endangered species, the Guardian can disclose. Some of the scientists were funded by the oil industry. In official submissions to the US government's consultation on the status of the polar bear, Palin and her team referred to at least six scientists who have questioned either the existence of warming as a largely man-made phenomenon or its severity. One paper was partly funded by the US oil company ExxonMobil. The status of the polar bear has become a battleground in the debate on global warming. In May the US department of the interior rejected Palin's objections and listed the bear as a threatened species, saying that two-thirds of the world's polar bears were likely to be extinct by 2050 due to the rapid melting of

Palin talks to Hugh Hewitt

Hugh Hewitt: ... HH: Governor, you mentioned the people who are struggling right now. Have you and your husband, Todd, ever faced tough economic times where you had to sit around a kitchen table and make tough choices? SP: Oh my goodness, yes, Hugh. I know what Americans are going through. Todd and I, heck, we’re going through that right now even as we speak, which may put me again kind of on the outs of those Washington elite who don’t like the idea of just an everyday working class American running for such an office. But yeah, there’s been a lot of times that Todd and I have had to figure out how we were going to pay for health insurance. We’ve gone through periods of our life here with paying out of pocket for health coverage until Todd and I both landed a couple of good union jobs. Early on in our marriage, we didn’t have health insurance, and we had to either make the choice of paying out of pocket for catastrophic coverage or just crossing our fingers, hoping that nobody would

Why take Joe Biden seriously?

Dominic Lawson: Joseph Robinette Biden – known to all as "Joe" – was once the most talked about American politician in Britain. Unfortunately for the senior Delaware Senator, all the talk was accompanied by incredulous laughter. As part of his Presidential campaign 20 years ago, he lifted verbatim and without attribution Neil Kinnock's celebrated remarks: "Why am I the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to get to a University ... was it because all our predecessors were thick, those people who could work eight hours underground and then come up to play football?" Biden told an audience at an Iowa fairground: "I started thinking as I was coming over here, why is it that Joe Biden's the first in his family ever to go to University ... is it because our fathers and mothers were not bright... who worked in the coal mines of Northeast Pennsylvania and would come up after 12 hours and play football?"

Pelosi bipartisanship

Michael Ramirez captures the Pelosi bipartisan spirit.

How we got to this point

Hopefully it will go viral.


The RNC looks at Obama's economic program.

Sounding the warning on Fannie and Freddy

It is a start in getting the message out, but the media is still not challenging the Democrats' bogus narrative.

Frank's and Dodd's oversight

Jonah Goldberg: On Sunday evening, Republican House Minority Leader John A. Boehner explained his considered opinion on the $700-billion Wall Street bailout plan: It's a "crap sandwich," he said, but he was going to eat it. Well, it turned out he couldn't shove it down his colleagues' throats. The bill failed on a bipartisan basis, but it was the Republicans who failed to deliver the votes they promised. Some complained that Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi drove some of them to switch their votes with her needlessly partisan floor speech on the subject. Of course Pelosi's needlessly partisan. This is news? The Republican complaint is beyond childish. Democratic Rep. Barney Frank, a man saturated with guilt for this crisis, nonetheless was right to ridicule the GOP crybabies on Monday. "I'll make an offer," he added. "Give me [their] names and I will go talk uncharacteristically nicely to them and tell them what wonderful people they are and

The importance of grandparents

Reuters: Grandparents play a critical role in their grandchildren's lives, helping boost their development even through simple activities such as reading to them or going shopping together, an Australian study said. The four-year government-funded study, released on Tuesday, measured children's physical, learning and cognitive development , in addition to social and emotional functioning. It showed that children aged from 3 to 19 months had higher learning scores if they were cared for by family and friends -- including grandparents -- as well as their parents. "This new study demonstrates just what a critical role grandparents play in the development of children," Federal Families, Housing and Community Services Minister Jenny Macklin was quoted by Australian media as saying. "We know from this study how important it is to a child's development to ... spend as much time as possible every day reading and spending time playing with children," sh

The financial mess that grew from ACORN

Mona Charen: The financial markets were teetering on the edge of an abyss last week. The secretary of the Treasury was literally on his knees begging the speaker of the House not to sabotage the bailout bill. The crash of falling banks made the earth tremble. The Republican presidential candidate suspended his campaign to deal with the crisis. And amid all this, the Democrats in Congress managed to find time to slip language into the bailout legislation that would provide a dandy little slush fund for ACORN. ACORN stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a busy hive of left-wing agitation and "direct action" that claims chapters in 50 cities and 100,000 dues-paying members. ACORN is where Sixties leftovers who couldn't get tenure at universities wound up. That the bill-writing Democrats remembered their pet clients during such an emergency speaks volumes. This attempted gift to ACORN (stripped out of the bill after outraged howls from Repu

Democrats and risk analysis

Thomas Sowell: Nothing could more painfully demonstrate what is wrong with Congress than the current financial crisis. Among the Congressional "leaders" invited to the White House to devise a bailout "solution" are the very people who have for years created the risks that have now come home to roost. Five years ago, Barney Frank vouched for the "soundness" of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and said "I do not see" any "possibility of serious financial losses to the treasury." Moreover, he said that the federal government has "probably done too little rather than too much to push them to meet the goals of affordable housing." Earlier this year, Senator Christopher Dodd praised Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for "riding to the rescue" when other financial institutions were cutting back on mortgage loans. He too said that they "need to do more" to help subprime borrowers get better loans. In other words

Obama's vulnerability on the economy

David Limbaugh: Quoted material removed. You may read the original at the link above. McCain and the Republicans are going to have to make this case on their own, because the mainstream media has been willfully ignoring this evidence and buying into Democrat spin. If they were fair, this would be a feature on 60 Minutes and every nightly news cast. So far, Fox News has been the only place I have seen the material. You don't see on the front page of the NY Times or Washington Post and you want until McCain presents it in a compelling way and forces it into above the fold coverage. I think Palin should also hammer Biden with this material in her debate.

The Somalia 'Coast Guard'/pirates

NY Times: The Somali pirates who hijacked a Ukrainian freighter loaded with tanks, artillery, grenade launchers and ammunition said in an interview Tuesday that they had no idea that the ship was carrying arms when they seized it on the high seas. “We just saw a big ship,” the pirates’ spokesman, Sugule Ali, told The New York Times. “So we stopped it.” The pirates quickly learned, though, that their booty was an estimated $30 million worth of heavy weaponry, heading for Kenya or Sudan, depending on who you ask. In a 45-minute-long interview, Mr. Sugule expounded on everything from what the pirates want — “just money” — to why they were doing this — “to stop illegal fishing and dumping in our waters” — to what they eat — rice, meat, bread, spaghetti, “you know, normal human being food.” He said that so far, in the eyes of the world, the pirates had been misunderstood. “We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits,” he said. “We consider sea bandits those who illegally fish in our seas and

The market still works

NY Sun Editorial: Those who blame yesterday's dive in the stock market on the House of Representatives ' failure to approve the Paulson-Pelosi bailout plan can consider that the market was down sharply yesterday even before the House vote, defying predictions that the agreement on a deal that was announced over the weekend would yield a rally. Half of the Wall Street adage — sell on Rosh Hashana, buy on Yom Kippur — was proven a day early. Everyone is talking about how to revive the bailout plan, but at a certain point, the clamor from the financial industry or the stock market for a bailout is like a child crying in a crib. The parent can stay at the side of the crib rubbing the child's back and singing lullabies, but that's a recipe for staying up all night with a crying child. Eventually the parent has to leave the nursery and shut the door. It's time for the government to do that to Wall Street. It's a tribute to the checks and balances that the Constitut

'Nuance' Nancy's crash

NY Post Editorial: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just couldn't control herself yesterday, savaging President Bush and blaming "right-wing ideology" as the sole cause of the nation's fiscal turmoil. Whereupon bipartisan compromise legislation intended to resolve the nation's financial crisis went poof . And then the stock market posted its single largest one-day point loss ever. Not surprisingly, Pelosi and Democratic leaders like Barney Frank and Rahm Emanuel immediately blamed the GOP for the bill's defeat, asserting that Republicans had put their "hurt feelings" above the nation's interest. Talk about putting lipstick on a . . . well, on a politician. The fact is, 95 Democrats - 40 percent of the party's House membership - voted against the bill. Pelosi - who allegedly controls the chamber - couldn't even deliver her own members. How humiliating is that? Republicans at least had long-standing philosophical objections t

Pirates on weapons ship now surrounded

NY Times: American warships on Monday surrounded an arms-laden freighter hijacked by pirates, sealing off any possible escape in a standoff near the craggy Somalia coastline. Lt. Nathan Christensen, a Navy spokesman, said that “several destroyers and missile cruisers” had joined the American destroyer that was already following the hijacked vessel. He would not specify the number of warships or what they would do if the pirates refused to surrender. “Our intent is for the ship not to offload any of its cargo,” he said, referring to the 33 battle tanks and large supply of grenade launchers and ammunition now in the hands of the pirates. The ship, operated by a Ukrainian arms supplier, was hijacked Thursday in Somalia’s pirate-infested waters. The American military, among others, fears that the pirates could sell the dangerous cargo to Islamist insurgents battling Somalia’s weak government. And the controversy over where exactly the tanks were going has heated up again. Two Wester

An easy offer to refuse from Mullah Omar

Reuters: Taliban leader Mullah Omar on Monday urged U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan to withdraw or face a similar defeat to occupying Soviet troops a generation ago. In a rare message, posted on militant websites and monitored by the U.S.-based SITE intelligence group, Omar offered a bargain to the U.S.-led forces that drove the Taliban from power in 2001 but are now fighting a fierce insurgency by the Islamist militia. "Reconsider your wrong decision of wrong occupation, and seek a safe exit to withdraw your forces," said the message, which the Taliban said came from Omar. "If you leave our lands, we can arrange for you a reasonable opportunity for your departure," he said, adding that the Taliban posed no harm to anyone in the world. If the occupation persisted, "you will be defeated in all parts of the world ... like the former Soviet Union," Omar said. ... Omar appears to be as delusional as always. He reminds me of a s

The politics of voting against the bailout bill

Chris Cillizza: ... ... even a cursory glance at polling on the issue, shows why so many politicians voted against the bill. In a recent USA Today/Gallup, just 22 percent of the sample said they wanted Congress to "pass a plan similar to what the Bush Administration has proposed" while 56 percent wanted Congress to pass something "different" (although what that different plan would be was not made clear) and 11 percent wanted Congress to take no action at all. The results were slightly more mixed in a New York Times/CBS News poll where 42 percent said they approved of the government's financial rescue plan while 46 disapproved, and in the Post/ABC poll where 44 percent expressed approval for the plan and 42 percent disapproved. The data suggest that this bill was far from a political winner for members of Congress set to face voters in 36 days. And, for vulnerable Republicans who believe that the free-spending attitude of Congress and the Bush Administr

Multinational special forces raid frees kidnapped tourist

Times: A group of European tourists who were kidnapped by armed bandits in the remote deserts of southern Egypt have been freed after a raid that left half of their captors dead, Egyptian officials said yesterday. A force of 30 elite Egyptian troops, accompanied by Italian and German special forces, raided the kidnappers’ camp to release the five Italians, five Germans and one Romanian who were abducted with eight Egyptian guides while on a 4x4 vehicle safari of the desert near the Sudanese border. The hostages were flown to Cairo for medical examinations and emerged from their military flight smiling to receive garlands of flowers. Details about how the raid was conducted, and even where it took place, were still hazy last night. A Sudanese official said that the hostages had been abandoned before the rescue mission was begun, and that Sudan’s own forces had fought the kidnap gang near the Egyptian and Libyan border the day before. That statement was partially borne out by one of

Taliban have huge losses in Pakistan fighting

Strategy Page: The Taliban and their al Qaeda allies have been fighting a large, and losing, battle against the army in the Pakistani region of Bajaur (right on the Afghan border). The fighting has been going on for a month now, and the terrorists have lost about a thousand dead, while the army has lost only 27 dead. The large disparity in losses is largely due to the Pakistani use of air power (bombers and helicopters) and artillery. The army controls the roads, forcing the Taliban to concentrate their forces, to avoid getting taken apart by road (and helicopter) mobile Pakistani infantry. The fighting began when the Taliban, who had always been dominant in Bajaur, sought to take over completely and drive government officials out. The army responded with over 10,000 troops, and more following, and went after the towns, villages and walled compounds known to be bases for the enemy. The Taliban did not expect the army to respond so energetically. But the Taliban had prepared

Palin's mom and dad say she is ready

Here is the CBS News story. ... When asked by Smith about rumblings that Palin isn't ready to be vice president and a heartbeat away from the presidency, Chuck replied, "She's ready to do anything she wants to be. And she perseveres, she works so hard, she learns so fast. Yeah, she -- I -- I don't worry about that at all. That's what I'll tell 'em. Yeah. ... You want some honesty, yeah -- yeah, not a typical politician, get her. Yeah. Yeah." Sally added, "She's got that ability to relate to people. She's diplomatic. She can get her point across." As for assertions from Republicans that Palin's being treated unfairly by the media, Chuck said, "That's what I feel. Someone said, 'Well they have to get to know Sarah Palin,' but Sarah Palin -- there's a good side of Sarah Palin. They're digging and digging for the bad side, and there is no real bad side. They're fabricating a lot of things that I don't

The case against the bailout

Jeffrey Miron: Congress has balked at the Bush administration's proposed $700 billion bailout of Wall Street. Under this plan, the Treasury would have bought the "troubled assets" of financial institutions in an attempt to avoid economic meltdown. This bailout was a terrible idea. Here's why. The current mess would never have occurred in the absence of ill-conceived federal policies. The federal government chartered Fannie Mae in 1938 and Freddie Mac in 1970; these two mortgage lending institutions are at the center of the crisis. The government implicitly promised these institutions that it would make good on their debts, so Fannie and Freddie took on huge amounts of excessive risk. Worse, beginning in 1977 and even more in the 1990s and the early part of this century, Congress pushed mortgage lenders and Fannie/Freddie to expand subprime lending. The industry was happy to oblige, given the implicit promise of federal backing, and subprime lending soared. This su

Blame game on bailout

Republicans say Pelosi gave a partisan speech in support of the "bipartisan" bailout and that appears to be true. Democrats blame Republicans for not supporting the legislation. There is a more obvious target for responsibility. How about voters? Reports said that calls to Congress were running 1000 to 1 against the bill. If that is true then Democrats may be doing Republicans a fovor by blaming them for the failure to pass the bill.

A lack of trust?

I think it was also a lack of leadership on the part of the Democrats. Even before the vote Pelosi was blaming Republicans and afterwords Barney Franks and Obama were blaming Republicans. Given how most voters also opposed the legislation, it sounds to me like they are doing the Republicans a favor. As Phil Gramm once said about killing Clinton's national health care proposal, "I'll wear it as a badge of honor."

Pakistanis refugees fleeing into Afghanistan

BBC: The UN says 20,000 people have fled Pakistan's tribal area of Bajaur for Afghanistan amid fighting between troops and militants in recent months. The UN's refugee agency says almost 4,000 families have crossed north-west into Afghanistan's Kunar province. The army began a sustained campaign against militants in Bajaur nearly two months ago. Some 300,000 others have fled east within Pakistan in recent weeks with many of them living in temporary camps. The military says it has killed more than 2,000 militants in the fighting. The UN's High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) believes that the majority of the refugees who have fled into Afghanistan will return home after the fighting stops in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). Announcing its estimates of the numbers of people who have crossed the border into Afghanistan, the UNHCR in Afghanistan said in the last two weeks alone, more than 600 families had left Pakistan for Kunar. ... There is much irony i

Bailout failing in House voting

Watching the vote count on Fox it appears that the House has voted down the bailout bill. The current vote is 207 for and 226 against with 217 needed for passage. The market reaction appears to be very volatile. The Dow is off over 400 points at the time of this post. The voters may get the credit for killing it since they overwhelmingly opposed the bailout. This may be bad news for Democrats.

The Democrat Fannie Freddy coverup on tape

I think this is the one Rush just played this morning. It exposes just how irresponsible the Democrats in Congress where when teh whistle was blown on the Fannie and Freddie mess. It may be seen on Fox, but will it be seen on the three major networks? Probably not, it was not run back in 2004 when the hearing was held. I think this comes from CSPAN and may be the only source. It is a scandal if this does not make the major media. It shows how in the tank they are for Democrats that they will not expose this.

The insidious myth of the financial crisis

Donald Lambro: There is no more insidious myth than the notion that the subprime-mortgage debacle began on Wall Street and that predatory capitalism was responsible for the whole blooming mess. Economist Milton Friedman used to say just about every economic and social ill that confronts our country could be traced to misguided federal policies and their "unintended consequences." And that is certainly true of the subprime crisis seeds planted by two federally created, government-assisted lending agencies: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac . To be sure, there's lots of blame to go around, but these two mortgage giants were at the root of this scandal. "Fannie and Freddie did this by becoming a key enabler of the mortgage crisis," wrote economist Kevin Hassett in a revealing article for Bloomberg financial news. "They fueled Wall Street's efforts to securitize subprime loans by becoming the primary customer of all AAA-rated subprime-mortgage pools. In add

Union tricks

NY Times: When Mike Pyne and other union foot soldiers knock on doors to promote Senator Barack Obama , they often confront a tricky challenge: how to persuade union members to vote on the basis of their wallets rather than on issues like abortion, gun rights and race. In battleground states like this one, union voters could be vital to the outcome of the election, and the labor movement has mounted a huge push on behalf of Mr. Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, built largely around the message that with unemployment rising, the financial system reeling and gasoline and food prices soaring, the nation cannot afford to have another Republican in the White House. The labor effort appears to be making headway. Social issues have moved to the background while the economy is foremost in the minds of many voters, and Mr. Obama appears to be benefiting politically. People like Tom Crooks, an electrician at a paper company’s research center, are telling union canvassers that they are

What community organizers do

Stanley Kurtz: WHAT exactly does a "community organizer" do? Barack Obama 's rise has left many Americans asking themselves that question. Here's a big part of the answer: Community organizers intimidate banks into making high-risk loans to customers with poor credit. In the name of fairness to minorities, community organizers occupy private offices, chant inside bank lobbies, and confront executives at their homes - and thereby force financial institutions to direct hundreds of millions of dollars in mortgages to low-credit customers. In other words, community organizers help to undermine the US economy by pushing the banking system into a sinkhole of bad loans. And Obama has spent years training and funding the organizers who do it. THE seeds of today's financial meltdown lie in the Community Reinvestment Act - a law passed in 1977 and made riskier by unwise amendments and regulatory rulings in later decades. CRA was meant to encourage banks to make loans

Cyber war strategic offensive

UPI /Washington Times: The United States needs to do more to develop an offensive cyberwar capability rather than just focus on defending its networks from attack, says the chairman of the House cybersecurity subcommittee. "The best defense is a good offense and an offensive [cyberwar] capability is essential to our national defense," Rep. Jim Langevin told United Press International , calling it "a necessary deterrent." "Warfare is forever changed. ... Never again will we see major warfare without a strong cyber component executed as part of it," the Rhode Island Democrat added, citing the assault on Georgian government Web sites that accompanied Russia's invasion last month. Mr. Langevin, chairman of the House Homeland Security subcommittee on emerging threats, cybersecurity and science and technology and a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, also called on the White House to declassify much more of its Comprehen

Limbaugh is still the conservative beacon in this campaign

Zev Chafets: If John McCain is elected president, he will have a lot of people to thank. Improbably, first on the list will be the man who didn't want him in the White House, Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh vociferously campaigned against McCain throughout the primary season. He accused the Arizona senator of being a closet liberal and a collaborator with Democratic enemies such as Sens. Russ Feingold and Teddy Kennedy. This caused a lot of glee in Democratic circles. Some optimists even predicted a devastating split in the GOP. This was a false hope. Limbaugh never had any intention of breaking with his party. When he saw that he couldn't stop McCain, he swallowed hard and began trying to push McCain to the right. Limbaugh made it clear that he wanted a vice presidential candidate from the Republican wing of the Republican Party. He got his way with the choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Limbaugh now believes, with more than a little justification, that the p

The AP's scandalous coverage of 'scandal'

Mark Hemingway: Good Grief. So this is the result of an AP " investigation ": Though Sarah Palin depicts herself as a pit bull fighting good-old-boy politics, in her years as mayor she and her friends received special benefits more typical of small-town politis as usual, an Associated Press investigation shows. When Palin needed to sell her house during her last year as Wasilla mayor, she got the city to sign off on a special zoning exception - and did so without keeping a promise to remove a potential fire hazard. She gladly accepted gifts from merchants: A free "awesome facial" she raved about in a thank-you note to a spa. The "absolutely gorgeous flowers" she received from a welding supply store. Even fresh salmon to take home. Not that these things are to be excused out of hand, but Palin bends zoning rules — which I'm sure are stringent and a high stakes matter in Wasilla, Alaska — and gets a free facial. Obama gets a freakin' house with help

The ACORN scandal

Mary Katherine Ham: Given that the bailout bill is largely agreed upon as a necessary "crap sandwich" that "sucks," it is worth noting that conservative outrage did succeed in stripping the most egregious pork from the bill— funds in an "affordable housing trust fund" that could have gone to Democrat-allied and often nefarious advocacy groups like ACORN. All possible proceeds from the sale of these toxic assets will now go toward the national debt, not to affordable housing groups that pressure politicians to pressure banks to offer risky loans to low-income families, so those families can get into mortgages they can't afford. Hmmm, doesn't that sound familiar? ... ACORN will undoubtedly mobilize all of the dead people, cartoon characters, pets, historical figures, and illegal immigrants it has registered to vote in order to achieve this goal. Since ACORN was largely responsible for creating this mess it is beyond outrageous that the Democrats w

Iraqis out perform Congress

Ralph Peters: Iraqi lawmakers have achieved far more in the last two years than our own feckless Congress. LAST week, Iraq passed another milestone on the difficult road to political maturity: Its parliament unanimously approved a new election law insuring broader participation than ever before. In early winter, Iraqis will vote in regional elections in the country's 14 Arab-majority provinces (the Kurds are ahead of the cycle - as they are in most things). Only the tricky status of Kirkuk must still be resolved. Despite legions of international nay-sayers, democracy worked. After posturing for their own party bases, Iraqi politicians compromised on critically important issues. The result is the most enlightened electoral blueprint between Israel and India. The systemic clout of religious blocks and parties has been reduced. A quarter of the contested seats are reserved for women. Safeguards promise the most honest balloting ever held in an Arab-majority state. The

Navy adds more ships to watch of Somalia pirates arm ship

Washington Post: The U.S. Navy bolstered its force of warships off Somalia on Monday, intensifying its watch over Somali pirates holding a hijacked Ukrainian-operated vessel with crew members, arms and tanks aboard. Lt. Nathan Christensen, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy 5th Fleet, said "there are now several U.S. ships" within eyesight of the hijacked ship, Faina, which according to the Kenyan government was bound for Kenya when it was seized last week. The pirates are negotiating for ransom with the vessel's owner. Speaking by telephone from Bahrain, Christensen declined to say how exactly many other U.S. warships had joined the USS Howard, a guided-missile destroyer, off Somalia. The U.S. ships were staying in international waters off Somalia, Christensen said, while the Somali pirates kept the Faina within the 12-mile territorial bounds of Somali waters. U.S. sailors remained close enough to see the ship, and had established bridge-to-bridge contact via radio, he s

How the Democrats started the financial crisis

Ralph Reiland: The roots of today's mortgage-based financial crisis can be traced back to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), which Jimmy Carter signed in 1977. Seeking to address complaints from anti-poverty activists and housing advocates about banks allegedly discriminating against minority borrowers and "redlining" inner-city neighborhoods, the CRA decreed that banks had "an affirmative obligation" to meet the credit needs of victims of discrimination in borrowing. To add a government stick to the process, the CRA decreed that federal banking regulators would consider how well banks were doing in meeting the goal of more multiculturalism in loaning when considering requests by banks to open new branches or to merge. A good "CRA rating" was earned by way of increasing loans in poor neighborhoods. Conversely, lenders with low ratings could be fined. The Fed, for instance, warned banks that failure to comply with government guidelines regarding

Globo warmers losing it

Andrew Breitbart: The leaves on the trees outside my office - once a marvelous shade of green - have begun to turn red, brown and yellow, the frightening hues not coincidentally found on the flag of Hades. Thousands of these leaves lie on the ground dead, martyrs of human excess. I predict many more to fall to the ground as "la Dia de la Muerte" approaches. Something in the Los Angeles air has the strong whiff of local warming, the feverish son of global warming, the vengeful godfather of climate change and the unforgiving stepfather of the coming weather apocalypse. Yet sadly, while presidential hopefuls John McCain and Barack Obama drone on about some financial-bailout plan and a war in a very, very hot place, the No. 1 issue facing our planet - cataclysmic, life-altering, irreversible climate change, according to the true president, Al Gore* (see Diebold, 2000) - is being completely ignored by the two presidential contenders. Someone needs to go to jail. "We