Showing posts from February, 2009

Somalia condemned to Shari'a Law

BBC: Somalia's President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed has agreed to a truce and the introduction of Sharia law to try to defuse clashes with tribal leaders. The deal came after talks between the Somali government and its clan opponents, and mediation by regional religious leaders. The government has been in clashes with the Islamist group al-Shabaab, which has links to al-Qaeda. Sheikh Sharif, a former moderate rebel leader, was elected only last month. The agreement has yet to be passed by Somalia's parliament, but the president said there was no problem from the government's side if people wanted to be governed by Sharia law. ... Shari's Law is a crime against humanity. Cruel and unusual punishment is the usual under this barbaric code. Corporal punishment is the norm as is dismemberment. Only a sadist would support such a code. CNN has more on the deal with the Islamic religious bigots.

The Garden of Eden in Turkey?

Daily Mail on Sunday: For the old Kurdish shepherd, it was just another burning hot day in the rolling plains of eastern Turkey. Following his flock over the arid hillsides, he passed the single mulberry tree, which the locals regarded as 'sacred'. The bells on his sheep tinkled in the stillness. Then he spotted something. Crouching down, he brushed away the dust, and exposed a strange, large, oblong stone. The man looked left and right: there were similar stone rectangles, peeping from the sands. Calling his dog to heel, the shepherd resolved to inform someone of his finds when he got back to the village. Maybe the stones were important. They certainly were important. The solitary Kurdish man, on that summer's day in 1994, had made the greatest archaeological discovery in 50 years. Others would say he'd made the greatest archaeological discovery ever : a site that has revolutionised the way we look at human history, the origin of religion - and perhaps even the truth

Marines taking back the roads in Afghanistan

Sunday Times: THE American marines call Route 515 the most dangerous road in Afghanistan. It is a bumpy desert track linking Helmand with Iran, and until recently it was beyond the reach of anyone but smugglers. The men from Weapons Company expect to get blown up every time they leave their camp to patrol between the poppy fields in giant mine-resistant, ambush-proof trucks. “We’ve taken some hits,” said Sergeant Marquis Summers, in an unusual moment of understatement. Automatic grenade launchers and 50-calibre machineguns peer over their turrets, but it is the mine rollers at the front – like massive snowploughs – that offer the best protection. They are designed to trigger pressure plates before the armoured vehicles pass over buried explosives. In a month the marines have found more than 30 improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, buried in the road. The remains of the marines’ charred Humvees are piled up in Camp Bastion. Two of their comrades have died in the battle for control of t

Size matter in Mauritania

Observer /Guardian: Fears are growing for the fate of thousands of young girls in rural Mauritania , where campaigners say the cruel practice of force-feeding young girls for marriage is making a significant comeback since a military junta took over the West African country. Aminetou Mint Ely, a women 's rights campaigner, said girls as young as five were still being subjected to the tradition of leblouh every year. The practice sees them tortured into swallowing gargantuan amounts of food and liquid - and consuming their vomit if they reject it. "In Mauritania, a woman's size indicates the amount of space she occupies in her husband's heart," said Mint Ely, head of the Association of Women Heads of Households. ''We have gone backwards. We had a Ministry of Women's Affairs. We had achieved a parliamentary quota of 20% of seats. We had female diplomats and governors. The military have set us back by decades, sending us back to our traditional roles. We

Are Democrats and Obama Socialist?

NY Times: Conservatives might be seeking a spiritual leader, organizing principle and fresh identity, but they at least seem to have settled on a favorite rhetorical ogre: socialism. As in, Democrats are intent on forcing socialism on the “U.S.S.A” (as the bumper sticker says, under the words “Comrade Obama”). It seems that “socialist” has supplanted “liberal” as the go-to slur among much of a conservative world confronting a one-two-three punch of bank bailouts, budget blowouts and stimulus bills. Right-leaning bloggers and talk radio hosts are wearing out the brickbat. Senate and House Republicans have been tripping over their podiums to invoke it. The S-bomb has become as surefire a red-meat line at conservative gatherings as “Clinton” was in the 1990s and “Pelosi” is today. “Earlier this week, we heard the world’s best salesman of socialism address the nation,” Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina, said on Friday, referring, naturally, to a certain socialist in chief. F

Multilateral mayhem at Obama's State Department

John Bolton: THE Obama adminstration announced yesterday that it's withdrawing from the UN group preparing for the "Durban II" conference. Multilateralism, the new team is fast discovering, isn't everything it's cracked up to be. The administration's foreign-policy performance has been uneven so far - with this debacle merely the most obvious mess. Where some had believed President Obama would pursue a moderate, pragmatic course, his administration increasingly seems not only highly ideological, but naive and uninformed - exposing and endangering America and its allies. One example of pure ideology was having the United States engage in preparations for "Durban II," a UN "anti-racism" conference in April intended to update a 2001 conference (held in Durban, South Africa). Ostensibly designed to find common global ground against racism, Durban I instead focused on isolating and delegitimizing Israel as "racist." Durban I was

The cowardly cap and trade tax

John Broder: In proposing mandatory caps on the greenhouse gases linked to global warming and a system for auctioning permits to companies that emit them, President Obama is taking on a huge political and economic challenge. Business lobbies and many Republicans raised loud objections to the cap-and-trade program Mr. Obama proposed as part of his budget this week, saying the plan amounted to a gigantic and permanent tax on oil, electricity and manufactured goods, a shock they said the country could not handle during economic distress. Green groups and supportive members of Congress applauded, saying the proposal was long overdue after eight years of inaction on climate change under President George W. Bush . The costs, they said, would not begin to bite until at least 2012. But the full costs and benefits of controlling greenhouse gas emissions remain unknown, and perhaps unknowable. While there is rough consensus on the science of global warming — with some notable and vocal

Obama's broken promise on taxes

Shawn Tully: During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama tempered his pledge to substantially raise taxes for high earners with an important proviso: He'd simply restore rates to their levels during the Clinton Administration. The implication was that families in the upper brackets would see their total tax bite go back to the levels of the 1990s, but no higher. Now, it sure looks like Obama is reneging on that promise. The burden will indeed go far higher than in the Clinton years via a technicality -- one that will come as a rude shock even to the taxpayers already braced for a soaking. The group that's hit hardest are the taxpayers I call the HENRYs, for "High Earners Not Rich Yet." The HENRYs are families who make between $250,000 and $500,000 a year. I wrote about the HENRYs in a Nov. 17 Fortune cover story, " Who Pays for the Bailout ?" They're among America's most productive, hard-working citizens: our doctors, attorneys, architects, and en

Capture of kidnpper a setback for FARC

BBC: Colombian security forces have clashed with a Marxist rebel group and captured one of its most notorious kidnappers. Soldiers fought Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) rebels in the central province of Cundinamarca, killing 10 and capturing another eight. Among those taken was a leader known by the alias "El Negro Antonio", whom authorities have been seeking for well over a decade. One soldier was killed in the combat and a kidnap victim rescued. "El Negro Antonio" is a Farc guerrilla with 33 arrest warrants outstanding against him. The operation took place in the mountain range of Sumapaz in Cundinamarca province. It is a severe setback for the Farc, not just because of the number of rebels killed and captured, but because it hinders its plans to reopen a movement corridor into the capital, Bogota. It was along this corridor that El Negro Antonio used to move kidnap victims out of Bogota and into the rebel-controlled lowland jungles. ... FARC has b

Warriors on a ridgeline in Iraq

MNFI: Maj. Mickey Thomas and Capt. Brian McCraine, both with Border Transition Team 4312, reevaluate their course of action while out on mission in Diyala, Iraq, Feb. 12. Photo by Spc. Opal Vaughn. One of the ways you can tell the war in Iraq is not as hot as before is troops do not have the same concern about presenting a silhouette on a ridge line that makes them an east target.

Pakistan claims defeat of Taliban in Bajaer area

Reuters: Pakistani forces have defeated Islamist militants in a strategically important region on the Afghan border and expect to clear militants out of other areas by the end of the year, a commander said on Saturday. Pakistan 's seven semi-autonomous ethnic Pashtun regions, known as agencies, are sanctuaries for al Qaeda and the Taliban and a victory against them would provide relief for U.S. and NATO forces hard-pressed by insurgents in Afghanistan . Major-General Tariq Khan, who is commanding military operations in five of the seven agencies, said his paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) had driven militants out of Bajaur, the smallest of the agencies but a major infiltration route into Afghanistan, after a six-month offensive. "They have lost. They have lost their cohesion here," Khan told reporters on a trip arranged by the military to Bajaur and Mohmand agencies. "The resistance has collapsed."

When it comes to abortion Obama is a man without conscience

The Anchoress: I’ve been waiting for this story and knew it would come - dropped on a Friday night, of course: Taking another step into the abortion debate, the Obama administration today will move to rescind a controversial rule that allows healthcare workers to deny abortion counseling or other family planning services if doing so would violate their moral beliefs, according to administration officials. The rollback of the so-called conscience rule comes just two months after the Bush administration announced it late last year in one of its final policy initiatives. The spin, of course, is that the Bush law was “confusing in scope.” That it needs “clarification.” Apparently it is a very complex thing for someone to say, “no, I cannot in good conscience do this,” on issues which - despite the euphemistic language in which both abortion and contraception have long-been shrouded - truly involve matters of life and death or (at the minimum) moral consequence. A person may believe

The high cost of the exclusionary rule

Paul Rubin: ... How did we get here? When Mapp v. Ohio (the Supreme Court decision applying the exclusionary rule to the states) was adopted in 1961, exactly half of the states (24) already had an exclusionary rule in place, and half did not. This set up an ideal situation for a statistical experiment to determine what the effects of the rule had been on crime rates. In a 2003 paper published in the Journal of Law and Economics, Raymond Atkins and I looked at just this issue. We compared crime rates in states that had adopted their own exclusionary rule with states that had the rule forced on them by the Supreme Court. We statistically controlled for other factors, such as the demographic characteristics of the population. The results were striking. In our basic model, we found significant increases in crime in jurisdictions forced by the Supreme Court's ruling to exclude evidence. Those increases were 3.9% for larceny, 4.4% for auto theft, 6.3% for burglary, 7.7% for robbery, and

Obama's war against energy production

Houston Chronicle: Energy-state lawmakers vowed Friday to block President Barack Obama’s proposed $31.5  billion tax increase on oil and gas producers. Obama’s $3.6 trillion budget blueprint released Thursday targeted U.S. energy producers by imposing new taxes and fees, abolishing existing tax breaks and changing accounting rules. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, called the proposals “punitive provisions” that would raise revenues for the government but hurt the country’s energy security. Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston, said Obama’s plans threaten the commercial viability of new domestic production and would price developers out of the market and force companies overseas. “It would be devastating for the cost of energy and for the producing states,” Green added. Producers of traditional fossil fuels could face a hit of up to $100 billion if Congress heeds the president’s request to abolish what he called of “oil and gas company preferences” in the tax code and adopts his cap-and-trade e

UK continues to free terror suspects

Daily Mail: Four terror suspects described as 'highly dangerous' were freed by immigration judges yesterday despite fears that they will go on the run. The decision brought an angry reaction from Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, who said she was 'extremely disappointed'. The men, three Algerians and a Jordanian, are facing deportation as a threat to national security. They were arrested on Thursday night amid concern that they will try to flee. But judges on the Special Immigration Appeals Commission ordered that they should be freed on bail. A fifth man arrested at the same time must stay behind bars. One of the freed suspects is a 42-year-old Algerian who was arrested on terrorism and fraud charges in 1997. Chemicals, catalogues of military equipment - including night vision goggles, radios and rockets - and bomb-making literature were found in his home. The man - referred to only as Z - came to Britain in 1992 on a tourist visa and overstayed. He has admitted to leadi

Not too observant

From the Daily Mail: Traffic wardens gave tickets to parked car seven times before noticing the driver was DEAD inside Good thing it was not an emergency.

Boogie in Baghdad

Times: Baghdad has never seen anything quite like it: in the newly reopened al-Khyam bar on the banks of the Tigris a group of American paratroopers, fully armed and dressed for battle, were linked arm in arm with drunken Iraqi revellers as they danced the night away. “It is good to get a bit of Iraqi culture,” said a soldier from the 82nd Airborne. Three or four of his brothers-in-arms, still wearing body armour and with M4 machineguns slung from their shoulders, did their best to get into the swing. They laughed and joked. Some danced hand in hand with Iraqi women. Some even danced with the men, as is the custom in the Arab world. “I really wish I wasn't wearing all this s*** but it's dangerous,” said a soldier from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, as he tugged on his body armour and adjusted his helmet. The atmosphere was relaxed, the music Arabic and tinny. Occasionally a singer emerged to entertain the customers, a mix of drunken men with shiny shirts, pointy shoes and gell

Who knew?

From the NY Times Food page: Roasted beets with garlic-walnut sauce is a more adventuresome alternative to the typical goat cheese pairing. I had no idea. Then there is this : ... After obsessively checking the Twitter postings of the Korean taco maker to see where the truck will park next, they begin lining up — throngs of college students, club habitués, couples on dates and guys having conversations about spec scripts. And they wait, sometimes well beyond an hour, all for the pleasure of spicy bites of pork, chicken or tofu soaked in red chili flake vinaigrette, short ribs doused in sesame-chili salsa roja or perhaps a blood sausage sautéed with kimchi, all of it wrapped in a soft taco shell. The food at Kogi Korean BBQ-To-Go, the taco vendor that has overtaken Los Angeles, does not fit into any known culinary category.... ... No kidding. At least there was no mention of dog meat.

What happened to the $1.6 billion Stanford borrowed

Times: The Texan cricket impresario Allen Stanford borrowed $1.6 billion from his investment empire, it emerged yesterday as his chief investment officer was due in a court in Houston to hear charges that she had obstructed regulators. Laura Pendergest-Holt, who US regulators had hoped would lead them to the heart of what they believed to be one of the biggest frauds in the world, was charged with obstruction on Thursday. She was held in a detention centre and was due to appear in court yesterday. The FBI, which is investigating an alleged $9.2 billion (£6.5 billion) fraud at Mr Stanford’s American investment business, indicated in court papers that they became frustrated with Ms Pendergest-Holt after she failed to reveal how much she knew about Stanford International Bank. In an affidavit the FBI said that she repeatedly misrepresented how much she knew about the whereabouts of the bulk of the assets of the bank and failed to mention that her boss had borrowed $1.6 billion from th

The irony in Obama's retreat from Iraq

Richard Pearle: ... The irony is that the success of the surge, which Obama predicted would fail, has put his plan well within the range of responsible policy. It is disappointing that the President is still yet to acknowledge this fully, when plainly it is that very political progress that has enabled this announcement . The reality, rhetoric aside, is that Obama's timetable doesn't look very different from what would have been a logical extension of George W Bush's departing view. As important as the dates and numbers is the president's readiness to allow on-the-ground conditions, as reported by on-the-ground military commanders, to determine the pace of the withdrawals over the next 18 months. Petraeus, not Pelosi, will be the voice that matters. That's good news for the majority of Americans who are not clamouring for – indeed, would be wary of – a hasty withdrawal designed to carry out an election pledge made under vastly different circumstances. ... Obama'

Crayons instead of pixels

The Telegraph has several examples of the work of an artist who stands crayons on end to produce an image. There are more examples at the link.

Bankers tell Obama to back off

Politico: The American Bankers Association has a message for the president: Stop talking trash about banks. In his unofficial State of the Union address Tuesday night, Barack Obama said that it's "unpopular ... to be seen as helping banks right now, especially when everyone is suffering in part from their bad decisions." In a letter to the White House, ABA CEO Edward Yingling says bankers across the country were "disappointed and concerned" with rhetoric like that. "Mr. President, of the over 8,000 banks in this country, very few ever made a single subprime loan, and they did not engage in the highly leveraged activities that brought down Wall Street firms," Yingling said. Yingling referred the president to statements made by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the powerful chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, in which he said that the toxic mortgage lending that sparked the current crisis was done by mortgage brokers and others not subject to

Spain seizes dope from Venezuela

BBC: A Venezuelan fishing boat has been seized near the Canary Islands with five tonnes of cocaine on board, Spanish customs officials have said. The drug shipment is thought to have a street value of 250m euros (£221m). Five Venezuelan crew members were held. Officials boarded the Dona Fortuna about 780 nautical miles (1,444 km) north-east of the islands on Thursday. Spanish police also impounded a speedboat on the country's north coast on suspicion it was involved. The high-speed boat, which was loaded with gasoline, was intercepted near a village on the sparsely-populated coast of Galicia, a favoured entry point for cocaine smugglers bringing the drug into Europe. Customs officials believed the boat was about to rendezvous with the Dona Fortuna. ... The crew on the seized boat were all Venezuelan. I guess the price of dope has not fallen as much as the price of oil in Venezuela. There have been several reports giving details of the transit of drugs through Venezuela with the

The coming year in Iraq

Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack: The Iraq war isn’t over. And while President Obama’s apparent decision to withdraw the bulk of American troops by August 2010 is not necessarily a mistake, it cannot be carried out rigidly. If all continues to go well, it should be eminently feasible; if not,the administration will have to show the strategic wisdom to slow down as needed to deal with problems. Having just returned from a trip to the country arranged by the top American commander there, Gen. Ray Odierno, we agree that Iraq continues to make tremendous strides, thanks to American assistance and, increasingly, the efforts of Iraqi politicians and security forces. But both those ready to dust off the infamous “Mission Accomplished” banner and declare victory and those who continue to see Iraq as an inherent disaster that must simply be abandoned have to realize that continued American involvement will be crucial for several more years. Young democracies are fragile entities. Polit

Obama's war against investors, businesses

Lawrence Kudlow: Let me be very clear on the economics of President Obama’s address to Congress and budget. He is declaring war on investors, entrepreneurs, small businesses, large corporations, and private-equity and venture-capital funds. That is the meaning of his anti-growth tax-hike proposals, which make absolutely no sense at all — either for this recession or from the standpoint of expanding our economy’s long-run potential to grow. Raising the marginal tax rate on successful earners, capital, dividends, and all the private funds is a function of Obama’s left-wing social vision, and a repudiation of his economic-recovery statements. Ditto for his sweeping government-planning-and-spending program, which will wind up raising federal outlays as a share of GDP to at least 30 percent, if not more, over the next ten years. This is nearly double the government-spending low-point reached during the late 1990s by the Gingrich Congress and the Clinton administration. While not quite as hi

Media malpractice

The trailer is pretty good and Ed Morrissey has his own review. The documentary will be shown in selected theaters soon.

Mexico reinforces troops in Juarez

LA Times: Amid growing alarm over drug violence in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, the Mexican government will deploy as many as 5,000 more troops to the border city, officials said Thursday. The increase would triple the number of troops and federal police officers operating there as part of President Felipe Calderon's offensive against drug traffickers. Ciudad Juarez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz said the added troops would give the military a higher profile by taking control of police functions, including street patrols. Currently, soldiers tend highway checkpoints, guard crime scenes and take part in special operations, such as house searches. The city is without a police chief. Roberto Orduña Cruz quit last week after several officers were slain and someone posted threats saying more would be killed unless he stepped down. On Wednesday, top Mexican security officials traveled to Ciudad Juarez to reassure local leaders and vowed to significantly boost the federal presence. ... There is more.

Obama's fraudulent tax argument

Rich Lowry: "If your family earns less than $250,000 a year," Obama said in his speech to a joint session of Congress, "you will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat: not one single dime." Unless, that is, your family pays a utility bill. Earlier from the same podium, he exhorted Congress to send him "legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution." This cap-and-trade program would increase the cost of energy for everyone, regardless of income. It is a broad-based (if indirect) tax hike of the sort the casual listener would have thought Obama ruled out in categorical language. Obama's just-released budget outline proposes using revenues from cap-and-trade to fund his "making work pay" tax credits that were part of the stimulus bill. Of those credits, Obama said, "The recovery plan provides a tax cut - that's right, a tax cut - for 95 percent of working families." This was a central Obama camp

Why Obama liberalism is worse than socialism

In a post below I made the following comments which deserve a post of their own: Many on the right have been suggesting that Obama's policies are socialist. They are not. They are worse than socialism. Socialism means the states owns and takes responsibility for the production of goods and services and subsidizes its operations with extremely high taxes. Experience has demonstrated that this model is inefficient and reduces most people's standard of living. What liberalism does is allow the owners to stay in place, but it tells them how to run their business. It is the approach of the fascist states. Obama is big on telling energy companies and auto companies what they can and cannot produce and in diverting funds from them to companies that would otherwise be unprofitable. But in doing so he ignores the fundamental failure of a command economy. No one, not even Obama , is smart enough to know how many eggs and slices of bacon are needed in New York city everyday. Anyone who tr

Perils of an articulate spokesman for bad ideas

Oliver North: Truth be told, Barack Obama may be the most charismatic and articulate public speaker in America today. Give him carefully crafted prose, well-wrapped applause lines, a teleprompter and an audience, and he will bring 'em to their feet, fired up, ready to charge the barricades. It is a gift, and he uses it well. That's what he did in his first speech to a joint session of Congress and in presenting his budget. On Tuesday evening, I listened in my car so I wasn't distracted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi jumping up every few seconds like a schoolgirl with ants in her pants. Nor could I see Joe, our vice president, semi-somnolently staring out into the crowd. On Thursday, I listened to Obama's speech again and then read the words he used after presenting the federal budget. That's why I conclude that truth be told, too often he isn't telling the truth. Maybe it's not his fault. Perhaps 27-year-old Jon Favreau, his eloquent speechwriter, just does

Obama's war against Texas

Houston Chronicle: President Barack Obama’s newly released budget deals a political blow to two pillars of the Houston economy — the energy industry and NASA. The 2010 spending blueprint, released with great fanfare at the White House on Thursday, targets the energy sector with higher taxes and increased regulation. And it does not extend the life of NASA’s space shuttle beyond next year’s retirement. Obama proposes to raise $2 billion in the 2011 budget year by ending what he describes as “oil and gas company preferences” ranging from depreciation of oil and natural gas wells to tax deductions for intangible drilling costs such as repairs and hauling supplies. The president’s budget outline also seeks to impose a new excise tax on Gulf of Mexico drilling leases, create a use-it-or-lose-it fee on existing leases, add new user fees for processing oil and gas drilling permits on federal lands, and end manufacturing tax deductions for oil and natural gas companies. Energy producers wou

Buying more of Citigroup

Fox News: Embattled Citigroup Inc. and the U.S. have reached an agreement in which the government will substantially increase its stake in the bank and in return will demand a boardroom shakeup, according to people familiar with the matter. Under a deal expected to be announced early Friday morning, the Treasury Department has agreed to convert some of its current holdings of preferred Citigroup shares into common stock. The government will convert its stake only to the extent that Citigroup can persuade private investors to do so alongside the government, the people said. The Treasury will match the private investors' conversions dollar-for-dollar up to $25 billion. The size of the government's new stake will hinge on the amount of preferred shares that private investors, including sovereign wealth funds, agree to convert into common stock. The Treasury's stake is expected to rise to 30% to 40% of Citigroup's shares, the people said. As a condition to the agreem

Is Carville really concerned about the future of the GOP?

James Carville writes about the "mistakes" of Republicans in opposing the stimulus monstrosity. I doubt he has the Republican's best interest at heart. He appears to be just continuing the disingenuous arguments of the Democrats for the bad bill. He never really addresses the objections of Republican governors to the unemployment section of the bill. He uses the straw man argument that the oppose extending unemployment compensation. What they really oppose is the way the Democrats have packaged the deal turning it into an unfunded mandate after two years which will require increased taxes on employers at a time when they are already under financial stress because of the recession. This would lead to additional layoffs and make matters worse. Democrats like Carville ignore this logical argument and rely on demagoguery.

2 kids traded for cockatoo

CNN: Trading two children for a bird landed three people in jail in Louisiana, authorities say. The biological mother, who was not involved in the alleged trade, is to be interviewed by authorities Friday. Investigators seek further details about a case that they say unfolded this way: Paul and Brandy Romero advertised that they were selling their pet cockatoo for $1,500. A woman named Donna Greenwell responded and said she wanted to buy the bird. Greenwell then told the Romeros that she was taking care of three children whose biological parents were going through a separation. Greenwell proposed selling two of the couple's children to the Romeros for $2,000, saying that her job as a truck driver made it hard to take care of the children, said Capt. Keith Dupre of the Evangeline Parrish Sheriff's Office in Louisiana. The parties allegedly negotiated a trade involving the two kids, the bird and $175. An anonymous tipster contacted authorities after the children began livin

Deportation through attrition

Mark Krikorian: R ichard Nadler complains that his critics didn’t address his main premise: that conservatives are advocating “mass deportation,” and that such a position is sure to alienate Hispanic voters. That’s because there are no serious advocates of “mass deportation.” If conservatives were in fact supporting the mass roundup and deportation of 11–12 million people, losing the Hispanic vote would be the least of our problems. But, of course, mass deportation is not the only alternative to amnesty. Instead, the position that many conservatives (and others) actually favor is attrition through enforcement — a reduction over time in the illegal population through consistent, comprehensive application of the law, something we have never really attempted. The principle behind an attrition policy is simple enough: dissuade more prospective illegals from coming and get more of those already here to leave — partly through increasing regular deportations but mostly through voluntary retu

Risk Factors for those purchasing Argentina debt

Robert Shapiro and Nancy Soderburg: Argentina reportedly intends to file for Securities and Exchange Commission approval to re-enter U.S. capital markets. The SEC should instead insist that Argentine securities bear a warning like cigarette packages: "This issuer has a record of misrepresentation, debt defaults and debt repudiation, and therefore may be dangerous to your financial health. Do not consume this issuer's bonds unless you have a platoon of lawyers and a Navy to back them up, and you're prepared to use both." In this global economic crisis, Argentina's financial behavior is especially worrisome. Its status as history's largest sovereign debt defaulter; its unprecedented repudiation in 2005 of bonds held by those who balked at substandard terms for restructuring; and the lack of transparency and fulsome disclosure surrounding its current capital raising efforts set a dangerous example. If the SEC fails to keep Argentina out of our capital markets -

Obstruction charges hit Stanford investment officer

Houston Chronicle: The chief investment officer for Houston-based Stanford Financial Group was arrested in Houston today on a criminal charge of obstructing a proceeding before a federal agency, the U.S. Justice Department said. The complaint stems from testimony Laura Pendergest -Holt gave to the Securities and Exchange Commission. ... It alleges that Pendergest -Holt made misrepresentations to the SEC in order to obstruct its investigation into Stanford Financial. ... The charges suggest that Pendergast -Holt gave testimony inconsistent with some evidence already in the SEC possession. In cases like this the regulators have a large volume of collected documents and potential witnesses need to be wary of assertions that are inconsistent with what their own documents reveal. The smart course if for the potential defendant to emphasize that their testimony is based on recollection and ask the questioner if they have any documents on the issue with which they can refresh their recoll

US military ready to knock down Nork missile

ABC News: In an exclusive interview with ABC News' Martha Raddatz, Adm. Timothy Keating, head of the U.S. Pacific Commands, said that the military is prepared to shoot down any North Korean ballistic missile -- if President Obama should give the order. "If a missile leaves the launch pad we'll be prepared to respond upon direction of the president," Keating told ABC News. "I'm not a betting man but I'd go like 60/40, 70/30 that it will, they will attempt to launch a satellite. There's equipment moving up there that would indicate the preliminary stages of preparation for a launch. So I'd say it's more than less likely." "Should it look like it's not a satellite launch -- that it's something other than a satellite launch -- we'll be ready to respond." Intelligence reports suggest that North Korea is preparing a long-range missile test. Earlier this week, North Korea announced its plans to send a satellite into orbi

Environmental control freaks invade the toilet

Guardian: The tenderness of the delicate American buttock is causing more environmental devastation than the country's love of gas-guzzling cars, fast food or McMansions, according to green campaigners. At fault, they say, is the US public's insistence on extra-soft, quilted and multi-ply products when they use the bathroom. "This is a product that we use for less than three seconds and the ecological consequences of manufacturing it from trees is enormous," said Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defence Council. "Future generations are going to look at the way we make toilet paper as one of the greatest excesses of our age. Making toilet paper from virgin wood is a lot worse than driving Hummers in terms of global warming pollution." Making toilet paper has a significant impact because of chemicals used in pulp manufacture and cutting down forests . A campaign by Greenpeace seeks to raise consciousness among Americans about th

UK to use protective gel in helmets to stop bullets

Daily Mail: On the face of it a layer of orange jelly may not sound the best way to protect a soldier's head from high velocity bullets and shrapnel. But the British Army's standard-issue combat helmet is set to be upgraded with a liner made from gooey miracle gel, which responds to a sudden impact by locking instantly into a solid form - absorbing huge amounts of energy harmlessly. A UK-based technology company was today celebrating a £100,000 contract from the Ministry of Defence to develop its D3O shock-absorbing gel to help save the lives of British troops fighting on the frontline in Afghanistan. ... The advanced nano-technology of the D3O shock-absorbing gel relies on the bizarre properties shown by 'intelligent molecules' under extreme pressure. It is already in use in a range of sports and ski wear featuring flexible knee pads or soft hats which instantly stiffen into protective layers when a skier or snowboarder hits the ground hard. Now the same technology

Is the UK more concerned about terrorist rights than fighting terrorism?

Independent: The British Government admitted for the first time yesterday that it had been involved in "extraordinary rendition". The Defence Secretary John Hutton disclosed that terror suspects handed over to the US in Iraq were flown out of the country for interrogation. Contradicting previous insistences by the Government that it had no played no part in the controversial practice, John Hutton revealed that details of the cases were known by officials and detailed in documents sent to two cabinet members at the time – Home Secretary Charles Clarke and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. The prisoners, two men of Pakistani origin who were members of the Lashkar-e-Toiba group, which is said to be affiliated to al-Qa'ida, were captured by SAS troops serving alongside the Americans near Baghdad in February 2004. They were handed over to US custody and flown to Afghanistan within the next few months. Among other inmates who passed through the prison was Binyam Mohammed, the U

Catalog of Presidential hate groups

CNN: Don Black said he despises Barack Obama. And he said he believes illegal aliens undermine the economic fabric of the United States. Black, a 55-year-old former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard, isn't the only person who holds such firm beliefs, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which Thursday released its annual hate group report. The center's report, "The Year in Hate," found the number of hate groups grew by 54 percent since 2000. The study identified 926 hate groups -- defined as groups with beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people -- active in 2008. That's a 4 percent jump, adding 38 more than the year before. ... I am sure the Southern Poverty Law Center kept no record of Bush hate groups, but there were many and they as bad if not worse than these who don't like Obama. It takes only a brief glance of things said by MoveOn and the Kos kids to see real hate and venom. There were authors who fantasized about assassi