Showing posts from July, 2010

Decapitation strike part of US strategy against Taliban

NY Times: When President Obama announced his new war plan for Afghanistan last year, the centerpiece of the strategy — and a big part of the rationale for sending 30,000 additional troops — was to safeguard the Afghan people, provide them with a competent government and win their allegiance. Eight months later, that counterinsurgency strategy has shown little success, as demonstrated by the flagging military and civilian operations in Marja and Kandahar and the spread of Taliban influence in other areas of the country. Instead, what has turned out to work well is an approach American officials have talked much less about: counterterrorism, military-speak for the targeted killings of insurgents from Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Faced with that reality, and the pressure of a self-imposed deadline to begin withdrawing troops by July 2011, the Obama administration is starting to count more heavily on the strategy of hunting down insurgents. The shift could change the nature of t

Missouri to vote on Obama care provision

NY Times: For all its symbolic import, the first plebiscite on the Obama health care law, to be held Tuesday in Missouri, seems likely to be a low-turnout affair among an electorate dominated by Republican primary voters and conservative activists. Missouri is the first of at least three states with ballot measures this year aimed at nullifying the federal health care law by invalidating its keystone provision, the requirement that most people obtain insurance or pay a tax penalty. A recent statewide poll in Missouri found that not even likely Democratic voters could muster a majority against the proposition. The referendum on the measure, known as Proposition C, is seen as an organizational test for the Tea Party and like-minded conservatives in a swing state that President Obama lost narrowly in 2008 and that has since moved measurably away from him. But the campaign has been a low-key affair, with no television advertising, debates or celebrity Facebook endorsements. Lea

Operation Black Prince

Sunday Telegraph: Bomb disposal teams slowly cleared the main road due south to the town as commanders in Afghanistan said it might take a week to make safe the route to the insurgents' haven. After 24 hours, 600 yards of the two-mile long road from the edge of British controlled territory had been cleared. Foot patrols pushed down flanks of the road from Patrol Base Takhta and leapfrogged from compound to compound as they covered the engineers labouring in heat nearing 50 degrees Celsius. Taliban fighters who had not attacked on the first day, began firing at the base from four separate compounds on Saturday, prompting British soldiers to fire back using sniper rifles and eventually a Javelin missile. Troops airlifted south of the town before dawn on Friday morning said they were continuing to meet little resistance. Major Andy Garner, officer in charge of Corunna Company, 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, said: "This sort of harassing fire is w

Calling in an artillary strike--There is an app for that

BBC: For the first time, UK troops are using a special app developed for the iPad to learn how to handle a fire mission. That's when artillery is being fired at the enemy from several miles away. In early trials at the Royal School of Artillery in Wiltshire, troops have learned the jargon and procedures more quickly than before, when they were sat listening to lessons from instructors. ... Major Rich Gill is an army training officer, who has been involved in rolling out the app. He said: "If we can use this sort of technology, we can probably shorten the amount of training and that is pretty key nowadays when people are so committed to operations in Afghanistan. ... Having the app also saves on the cost of producing training materials. It will be interesting to see of the US adopts this type of training.

Rigs in limbo

NOLA: Diamond Offshore Drilling's Ocean Confidence, a semi-submersible deepwater rig, is slowly making its two-month 7,000-mile voyage to the waters of the Congo. Meanwhile, Diamond's Ocean Endeavor, still in the Gulf of Mexico, is being readied for its tow to the Egyptian Mediterranean. Together, the departures have come to symbolize the potentially devastating impact to the oil industry from the Obama administration's six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf. 4 0 0Share "We're clearly seeing the rigs start to leave," Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, said Wednesday at a news conference in front of the Capitol marking 100 days since the blowout of the Deepwater Horizon well led the administration to call a pause on drilling that Gulf Coast lawmakers say could prove more economically devastating to the region's economy than the Gulf of Mexico oil spill itself. But Thomas Marsh, vice president of Houston-based ODS-Petrodata, whic

Hamas weapons maker killed in Israeli attack

CNN: A senior Hamas member was killed during Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, Hamas security forces said Saturday. An airstrike in central Gaza killed Saed Al Bitran, who was responsible for manufacturing weapons, the Hamas forces said. The Israel Defense Forces said the attack on a weapons-manufacturing site in central Gaza was part of a series of strikes starting late Friday in response to a rocket assault on Ashkelon earlier in the day. The strikes also targeted two other locations in Gaza: a Hamas "terror-activity site" in the north and a weapons-smuggling tunnel in Rafah, Israeli forces said. ... The coastal Israeli city of Ashkelon was hit by a rocket fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza early Friday, causing minor damage but no injuries, an Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman said. Ashkelon, with a population of approximately 125,000 residents, is about 6 miles (10 kilometers) from the Israel-Gaza border and has been the target of many rockets originating from

Opposition grows to mosque near ground zero

NY Times: An influential Jewish organization on Friday announced its opposition to a proposed Islamic center and mosque two blocks north of ground zero in Lower Manhattan, intensifying a fierce national debate about the limits of religious freedom and the meaning of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The decision by the group, the Anti-Defamation League, touched off angry reactions from a range of religious groups, which argued that the country would show its tolerance and values by welcoming the center near the site where radical Muslims killed about 2,750 people. But the unexpected move by the ADL, a mainstream group that has denounced what it saw as bigoted attacks on plans for the Muslim center, could well be a turning point in the battle over the project. In New York, where ground zero has slowly blended back into the fabric of the city, government officials appear poised to approve plans for the sprawling complex, which would have as many as 15 stories and would house a

House passes drilling restrictions, lifts moratorium

Houston Chronicle: The House narrowly approved a sweeping plan to crack down on offshore drilling Friday, despite objections from Gulf Coast lawmakers and oil industry advocates who said the measure would slash U.S. jobs and curb domestic energy production. But, in a rebuke of the Obama administration, the House also voted 216-195 to reject its drilling moratorium and lift the ban for rigs that satisfy newly imposed safety and environmental requirements. Lawmakers added the moratorium exemption to the broader drilling bill, which passed 209-193 and represents Capitol Hill's first broad legislative response to the April 20 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It now heads to the Senate, where a separate energy and drilling measure has been stalled by a dispute over limiting oil company liability for future spills. ... Oil industry leaders and their allies in Congress countered that the legislation was overbroad, as it includes dozens of initiatives that go far beyond t

Who helped the alleged WikiLeaker?

NY Times: Army investigators are broadening their inquiry into the recent disclosure of classified military information to include friends and associates who may have helped the person they suspect was the leaker, Pfc. Bradley Manning , people with knowledge of the investigation said Friday. Two civilians interviewed in recent weeks by the Army’s criminal division said that investigators were focusing in part on a group of Private Manning’s friends and acquaintances in Cambridge, Mass. Investigators, the civilians said, apparently believed that the friends, who include students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston University, might have connections to WikiLeaks , which made the documents public. It is unclear whether the investigators have specific evidence or are simply trying to determine whether one person working alone could have downloaded and disseminated tens of thousands of documents. The Army has charged Private Manning with disclosing

Venezuela sends troops to Colombia border area

AFP: President Hugo Chavez said Friday that Venezuela has deployed military units and troops to the Colombian border, because outgoing President Alvaro Uribe is "capable of anything," as a row escalates between the two. Chavez broke off diplomatic relations with Colombia on July 22, one week after Uribe accused Venezuela of harboring 1,500 leftist Colombian rebels in its territory, a charge Chavez has strongly denied. "We've deployed military units, air force, infantry, but quietly because we don't want to upset anybody, the population," Chavez told state-run VTV television in a telephone interview. The leftist leader did not say how many troops and exactly what military ordnance was involved in the move. "Uribe is capable of anything in these last days" before he leaves office on August 7, said Chavez, who had also threatened to cut off oil supplies to the United States if it backed an attack by Colombia, its chief ally in the region.

Afghan's culture of Taliban wife beaters

NY Times: Women’s still-precarious rights in Afghanistan have begun seeping away. Girls’ schools are closing; working women are threatened; advocates are attacked; and terrified families are increasingly confining their daughters to home. For women, instability, as much as the Taliban themselves, is the enemy. Women are casualties of the fighting, not only in the already conservative and embattled Pashtun south and east, but also in districts in the north and center of the country where other armed groups have sprung up. As Afghan and Western governments increasingly explore reconciliation with the Taliban, women fear that the peace they long for may come at the price of rights that have improved since the Taliban government was overthrown in 2001. “Women do not want war, but none of them want the Taliban of 1996 again; no one wants to be imprisoned in the yards of their houses,” said Rahima Zarifi, the Women’s Ministry representative from the northern Baghlan Province.

T-shirt of the day

This photo shows a guy at Houston's Hobby airport with a T-shirt that got a lot of thumbs up.

Obama to try amnesty for illegals without Congressional approval

Washington Times: With Congress gridlocked on an immigration bill, the Obama administration is considering using a back door to stop deporting many illegal immigrants - what a draft government memo said could be "a non-legislative version of amnesty." The memo, addressed to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas and written by four agency staffers, lists tools it says the administration has to "reduce the threat of removal" for many illegal immigrants who have run afoul of immigration authorities. "In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, USCIS can extend benefits and/or protections to many individuals and groups by issuing new guidance and regulations, exercising discretion with regard to parole-in-place, deferred action and the issuance of Notices to Appear," the staffers wrote in the memo, which was obtained by Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican. The memo suggests that in-depth discussions have o

What does Rush Limbaugh drive?

WSJ: At a briefing today to discuss the administration’s efforts to rescue the auto industry, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs took on conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh —and every other critic “sitting in the cheap seats” –for criticizing the rescue of General Motors and Chrysler as a “government takeover” that smacks of socialism. Told by a reporter that “You had Rush Limbaugh today — today or yesterday — talking Obama Motors again,” Gibbs, who doesn’t often provide free advertising by taking on his critics by name from the podium, let fire. “Look, Rush Limbaugh and others wanted to walk away. Rush Limbaugh and others saw a million people that worked at these factories, that worked at these parts suppliers, that had — that supported communities, and thought we should all just walk away. The president didn’t think that walking away from a million jobs in these communities made a lot of economic sense,” Gibbs said. ... Finally, he wrapped it up: “And then you

Iran sets up Lebanon, Syria to start war with Israel?

Charles Krauthammer: "They (the United States and Israel) have decided to attack at least two countries in the region in the next three months." Mahmoud Ahmadinejad , Iranian president, July 26 President Ahmadinejad has a penchant for the somewhat loony, as when last weekend he denounced Paul the Octopus, omniscient predictor of eight consecutive World Cup matches, as a symbol of decadence and purveyor of "Western propaganda and superstition." But for all his clownishness, Ahmadinejad is nonetheless calculating and dangerous. What "two countries" was he talking about? They seem logically to be Lebanon and Syria. Hezbollah in Lebanon has armed itself with 50,000 rockets and made clear that it is in a position to start a war at any time. Fighting on this scale would immediately bring in Syria, which would in turn invite Iranian intervention in defense of its major Arab clients — and of the first Persian beachhead on the Mediterranean in 1,400

Economy slows

Washington Post: The pace of economic growth slowed this spring, according to new government data, as Americans remained reluctant to consume and imports soared. The gross domestic product rose at a 2.4 percent annual rate in the April-through-June quarter, the Commerce Department said Friday, down from a revised 3.7 percent rate in the first quarter. The downshift in second-quarter growth shows an economic recovery that, one year in, seems to be settling into a middling pace. The 2.4 percent rate, while roughly in line with analysts' expectations, is slightly below the level that the nation is capable of growing in the longer run, meaning it is not fast enough to drive down the jobless rate. There was some good news in the report -- most notably, business investment is soaring, with spending on equipment and software rising at a 21.9 percent rate. But the overall tone was subdued, and several growth indicators were at risk of dissipating over the second half of the year.

Government failures in Gulf blowout

Rob Bluey: President Obama’s carefully scripted scheme to deflect blame for the Gulf oil spill is starting to crumble. A new report from the Center for Public Integrity puts the White House in the spotlight for its failure to acknowledge the government’s own role in the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Obama has repeatedly blamed BP for the spill, telling the nation in a televised Oval Office address on June 15: “We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused.” A day later he pressured BP to set aside $20 billion to pay economic damage to the region. But in the critical first days after the explosion, the new report reveals the U.S. Coast Guard disregarded its own firefighting policy and might have caused the oil rig to sink -- prompting the leak that resulted in the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Evidence unearthed by reporters Aaron Mehta and John Solomon shows the cash-strapped Coast Guard broke its own rules and didn't have a firefighting expert o

Rep. Price offers a resolution against a lame duck session of Congress

Don't be scared off by all the "Whereas" clauses.  He develops a rhythm  that lists not only Pelosi's statements she has failed to live up to, it gets better as he lists all the bad legislation of this Congress.  The speech makes it clear what a travesty a lame duck session would be.

New call for a larger Navy

Eli Lake: A bipartisan, congressionally mandated defense panel on Thursday challenged the Pentagon to broaden its focus beyond counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and Iraq and expand the Navy to deal with threats from rising powers in Asia. The report by the independent panel, headed by former White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and former Defense Secretary William Perry, calls for the U.S. military to shift its long-term focus to five areas, ranging from "radical Islamist extremism and the threat of terrorism" to confronting "an accelerating global competition for resources." The panel report also said U.S. maritime power should be increased to deal with "the rise of new global great powers in Asia," an indirect reference to China's growing military and political power. It said the U.S. military must prepare for the "continued struggle for power in the Persian Gulf and the greater Middle East" and "persistent problem

Democrat stonewall on Black Panther case continues

Hans von Spakovsky: As the scandal over the dismissal of the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) voter intimidation case percolates in the media, letters have been flying through the corridors of power. On July 22, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) sent a letter to President Obama demanding that he appoint a special counsel to look into the Justice Department’s handling of the case. On July 28, Gerald Reynolds — chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights — sent Attorney General Eric Holder another letter once again demanding the testimony of Christopher Coates, who had been previously subpoenaed by the Commission. The former career chief of the Voting Section at the Civil Rights Division, Coates recommended that the lawsuit against the NBPP go forward. Meanwhile, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has exchanged letters with the Committee’s seven GOP members, who demanded that an investigation be opened. On July 29, Leahy denied their request in a letter filled wit

Voters overwhelmingly oppose Democrat 'energy' bill

Voter / Consumer Research conducted a nationwide survey for the American Energy Alliance on issues related to the proposed energy legislation. Voters reacted well to a number of the points articulated by opponents of this proposal. Most prominent among these were: 82% agree, 68% strongly agree -- “When taxes on the oil industry go up, inevitably they’ll be passed along to consumers in the form of higher prices at the pump.” 81% agree, 61% strongly agree -- “It makes no sense to increase taxes on American owned oil companies, while creating a tax advantage for foreign owned companies like BP.” 76% agree, 55% strongly agree -- “American oil companies mostly compete against huge oil companies owned by foreign governments; it makes no sense to hurt American oil companies by making them pay a tax that doesn’t apply to their foreign competitors.” ... Voters have a clear set of priorities for Congressional action (if any) on the energy issue. Their top priority is to impro

Sinaloa loses another leader in Mexico

Reuters: Mexican soldiers killed drug boss Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel on Thursday, the first major triumph this year for President Felipe Calderon's war against drug cartels but one that is unlikely to end spiraling violence. The Mexican army shot dead Coronel, a senior member of the powerful Sinaloa cartel, as he exchanged fire with soldiers during a raid of a wealthy residential area in Guadalajara in western Mexico, officials said. "Nacho Coronel tried to escape, wounding military personnel ... dying as fire was returned," Edgar Villegas, a senior army official, told a news conference in Mexico City. One of the country's most-wanted traffickers, Coronel was known as the "King of Ice" for his multimillion-dollar methamphetamine business and was a top lieutenant of Sinaloa leader Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, Mexico's top drug lord. Coronel, 56, was indicted in a Texas court for allegedly smuggling tonnes of narcotics into the Unit

Al Qaeda's plan to attack Kabul with airliners

Guardian: It may be one of the more audacious terrorist plots to be hatched in Afghanistan , but it was certainly not the most original. The same al-Qaida masterminds behind 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington planned to commit a similar attack in the capital of the country that once harboured them, according to a file among US military intelligence documents published this week by the WikiLeaks website. Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaida's second in command, is said to have given the order for a team of 22 to board one or more planes at Kabul airport, hijack the aircraft and steer them toward a number of "important objectives". The targets were to include Hamid Karzai's presidential palace, Nato headquarters, the British and US embassies and the Ariana hotel – the whole which the CIA rented and used as its station in Kabul. ... The report on the alleged hijack plot, recorded by intelligence officers on 23 March 2009, highlights the mixed quality of

Dem's fall plans look desperate

Dan Balz: ... The Democrats might be speaking with bravado, but they're acting defensively. On Wednesday, Democratic National Committee Chairman Timothy M. Kaine offered his version of what a 2010 Republican Contract with America might look like. It was a 10-point list culled in part from things some candidates with ties to the "tea party" movement have said. Kaine and the Democrats tried to portray that as GOP dogma and argued that the American people will reject Republican candidates in November. Meanwhile, the DCCC's purchase of advertising time for the fall showed just how difficult Democrats expect the races to be. They will fight to hold the House -- and they may well be successful. Republicans could squander this opportunity. But for the Democrats, the battle is almost totally one of trying to build a levee high enough to hold off the worst of what they see coming. Look at the list of the 60 districts where they've purchased time. Republicans curr

While other people are waiting in line for treatment...

From the Daily Mail: Muslim brides becoming virgins again with hymen replacement operations on the NHS Hymen worship is evidently a right in the UK's rationed health care service.   This is the same government that is so hostile to Christianity.

Mexican drug cartels growing huge quantities of marajuana in California

BBC: Police in California say they have seized $1.7bn worth of marijuana plants in the Sierra Nevada mountains. They have also arrested 97 people over the past three weeks, most of them Mexican nationals believed to have ties with Mexican drug cartels. White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske said police had found industrial-sized plantations of marijuana. Experts say Mexican cartels are increasingly growing marijuana in the US, rather than smuggling it there. 450 officers from local, state and federal agencies took part in the raids in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in California. They found more than a hundred locations where marijuana was being grown illegally. ... I am glad they found it, but it makes you wonder why they had not noticed it before. It will take a real big bonfire to destroy that much dope.

Oil patch Democrats oppose spill plan

The Hill: House Democratic leaders are facing resistance from conservative and centrist members in the party over several provisions in oil spill response legislation that’s headed for a vote Friday, including the removal of liability caps on offshore oil and gas producers. A group of about 30 oil-patch Democrats share the concerns of their Senate counterparts that removing the liability cap for future spills would price smaller independent companies out of the offshore drilling business. “That’s a big one,” said Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas), an ally of the industry. Green told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Thursday that he was planning to vote against the bill over the liability language and a provision setting federal authority over wastewater from wells that states currently regulate. “I know a number of members that have said the same thing to her,” he said in the Capitol Thursday. Some lawmakers have proposed fixing the problem by creating a spill fund that al

Saudis looking for cheap imports

From Arab News: Hefty wedding costs force Saudis to look for foreign brides They maybe cheap, but they are not free.

Holders plan for increased border protection

Via Scrappleface: ... “The major obstacle to immigration enforcement is how to approach suspects without discriminating on the basis of race,” said Mr. Holder. “Under President Obama’s new plan, the Department of Justice will buy a fleet of GM pickup trucks that we’ll use to haul undocumented workers from various gathering places — parking lots, street corners and such. These folks will be hired for the day as federal border-patrol agents and attorneys, and they’ll be given their own GM trucks.” “Because immigrants don’t need to carry ID to establish their status,” he said, “our federal migrant border-patrol agents will be equipped to generate identification papers for them on the spot, which we’ll then check for authenticity. If everything checks out, the undocumented visitor can be released within minutes to continue his arduous journey.” ... Sometimes parody skirts too close to the truth.

Congress trying to usurp Texas control of drilling in state waters

Texas Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones say: “It is my understanding that HR 3534, which is a combination of several bills, is making its way through Congress and may be up for a vote on Friday.   This bill usurps the states' authority over oil and gas exploration in their state waters (page 47). The Republic of Texas entered into the Union in 1845 and retained jurisdiction up to 3 leagues offshore.  That boundary was adjudicated in the Tidelands case in the 1940's and finally resolved by Congress in 1953.” “I urge all members of the Texas congressional delegation, regardless of party affiliation, to vote NO on HR 3534 by Rahall (D-WV) and on any other piece of legislation that encroaches upon the energy regulatory practices put into place by the Railroad Commission of Texas and the other coastal states' respective energy regulatory agencies. This is a blatant attempt by the federal government to nationalize control of the coastal states' jurisdictions.” Te

Body of second missing sailor found in Afghanistan

Reuters: The body of a second U.S. sailor who went missing in Afghanistan last week has been recovered, an Afghan police chief said on Thursday. Logar provincial police chief Ghulam Mustafa told Reuters that his captors had probably dumped the body after the sailor died from wounds received in the incident that led to his capture. "The body was spotted by villagers," he said. A U.S. defense official in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity, earlier also reported the recovery and it comes two days after officials announced they had the remains of the first sailor. The two U.S. Navy service members went missing on Friday after failing to return in a vehicle they had taken from their compound in Kabul, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said on Saturday. ... On Sunday, the Taliban said they were holding prisoner one of the two sailors, who had strayed into territory controlled by the insurgents just south of the capital, and that

Mannings computer downloaded the Afghan war logs used by Wikileaks

WSJ: Investigators have found concrete evidence linking Pfc. Bradley Manning with the leak of classified Afghanistan war reports, a defense official said. A search of the computers used by Pfc. Manning yielded evidence he had downloaded the Afghanistan war logs, which span from 2004 until 2009, the official said. It's not clear precisely what that evidence is. The investigation is also looking at who might have helped Pfc. Manning provide the documents to WikiLeaks, a web-based group that earlier this week released 76,000 secret reports from Afghanistan. video Floyd Abrams: WikiLeaks and Limits to Free Speech 10:28 Alan Murray interviews Floyd Abrams, the legendary first amendment attorney, about the recent WikiLeaks disclosure and its relationship to the Pentagon Papers case. Because of the focus on civilians who helped Pfc. Manning, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department have been brought into aid the investigation lead by the Army Criminal

The twisted logic of Arizona court decision

Andrew McCarthy: ... In essence, Judge Susan Bolton bought the Justice Department's preemption argument — i.e., the claim that the federal government has broad and exclusive authority to regulate immigration, and therefore that any state measure that is inconsistent with federal law is invalid. The Arizona law is completely consistent with federal law. The judge, however, twisted to (sic the) concept of federal law into federal enforcement practices (or, as it happens, lack thereof). In effect, the court is saying that if the feds refuse to enforce the law the states can't do it either because doing so would transgress the federal policy of non-enforcement ... which is nuts. The judge also employs a cute bit of sleight-of-hand. She repeatedly invokes a 1941 case, Hines v. Davidowitz, in which the Supreme Court struck down a state alien-registration statute. In Hines, the high court reasoned that the federal government had traditionally followed a policy of not treating a

Migrants paying a high price for lax enforcement

NY Times: Dr. Bruce Parks unzips a white body bag on a steel gurney and gingerly lifts out a human skull and mandible, turning them over in his hands and examining the few teeth still in their sockets. The body bag, coated with dust, also contains a broken pelvis, a femur and a few smaller bones found in the desert in June, along with a pair of white sneakers. “These are people who are probably not going to be identified,” said Dr. Parks, the chief medical examiner for Pima County. There are eight other body bags crowded on the gurney. The Pima County morgue is running out of space as the number of Latin American immigrants found dead in the deserts around Tucson has soared this year during a heat wave. The rise in deaths comes as Arizona is embroiled in a bitter legal battle over a new law intended to discourage illegal immigrants from settling here by making it a state crime for them to live or seek work. But the law has not kept the immigrants from trying to cross hundre

The costs of chasing the independent producers out of the Gulf

Joseph Bryant: ... ... what the IHS study found was striking: In 2009, independents participating in the exploration and development of the Gulf of Mexico accounted for more than 200,000 jobs, $38 billion in economic benefits and more than $10 billion in federal and state revenue and royalty payments. Furthermore, through the next decade, the relative contribution of the independents to overall industry employment is projected to increase from 53 percent in 2009 to 59 percent in 2020. The Gulf of Mexico is a strategically important source of domestic energy, security and economic activity. It accounts for almost 30 percent of all U.S. oil production and 10 percent of U.S. natural gas. Last year, for the first time since 1991, the U.S. recorded an increase in domestic oil production. This is attributable to developments in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico. People who know the offshore deep-water oil and gas industry know that its vitality is linked directly to the independents&#


Daniel Henninger: ... In one corner of the world you have Europe, beset by a sovereign debt crisis that's been building for 50 years. The U.K.'s new prime minister, David Cameron, promises his people years of austerity to dig out from beneath their debt. Americans, staring at fiscal crevasses opening across Europe, have to decide if they also wish to spend the next 50 years laboring mainly to produce tax revenue to pay for public workers' pensions and other public promises. The private sector would exist for the public sector. In another corner of the world, wealth is rising from the emerging economies of the east—China, India, Korea and the rest—posing America's greatest economic challenge in anyone's lifetime. Do the American people want to throw in the towel, or do they want to compete? If the latter, the public sector has to give way to the private sector. ... Barack Obama's first and biggest clarifier was his health-care plan. With Democratic majo

Israel settlement freeze ends September 26

Washington Post: While Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak visited Washington this week to talk about peace gestures toward the Palestinians, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was planting a tree in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank -- an indication of permanence that few Palestinians would welcome. The contrast showed the confusion U.S. officials face in figuring out how willing Israel might be to cede territory as part of a two-state solution to the conflict. President Obama's Middle East envoy, George J. Mitchell, has been laboring for months to move Israelis and Palestinians into direct talks on the core issues that divide them, including the future of Jewish settlements built on land Israel occupied in the 1967 Middle East war. The peace effort faces a major challenge on Sept. 26, when a 10-month freeze of Israeli settlement construction is set to expire. The United States and Israel for years have quarreled over Israeli construction in the occupied We

People seek help from 'retired' Pak nuke scientist

Eli Lake: Scientists, engineers and financiers involved in the A.Q. Khan nuclear-smuggling network are being contacted by several governments in an effort to lure these specialists out of retirement. The development is raising concerns among U.S. intelligence agencies about the revival of the proliferation network that was thought to have been shut down years ago. Two U.S. intelligence officials and other U.S. officials with access to intelligence reports said information compiled over the past seven months showed that agents from several foreign governments — including Brazil , Burma , Iran , Nigeria , North Korea , Sudan and Syria — pursued members of the network named after Abdul Qadeer Khan , the scientist considered to be the father of Pakistan 's nuclear weapons program. "They have propositioned them to get them to come out of retirement," one senior U.S. intelligence officer said. This official, however, stressed that the contacts observed in r

Afghan corruption helps Taliban recruit

NY Times: Rampant corruption in Afghanistan provides the Taliban with its No. 1 recruiting tool, the Obama administration’s special representative to the region, Richard C. Holbrooke , said Wednesday. But he insisted that the United States was taking adequate precautions to cut down on the misuse of billions of dollars in American aid to the country. Responding to deepening unease on Capitol Hill about where aid money is going, Mr. Holbrooke said recent reports of billions of dollars in cash being flown out of Kabul International Airport wrongly suggested that American civilian aid was being siphoned from Afghanistan. “We’re not missing money,” Mr. Holbrooke said at a hearing of the House subcommittee that oversees financing of the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development. The shortage of banks in Afghanistan, he said, means that Afghans use cash for most commercial transactions, which they then transfer, legally, in vast amounts to banks

Taliban make push in north as NATO moves to beef up south

Sara Carter: A resurgence of the Taliban and criminal warlords in the northern provinces of Afghanistan is threatening to stretch a U.S.-led coalition thin just as NATO pushes to stabilize southern Afghanistan, officials said. Taliban insurgents gained control last week of Dahne Ghore district, in northern Baghlan province, for two days. Six Afghan police officers were beheaded in a government building in the district. "The Taliban controlled the area for two days before NATO could do anything," an Afghan official told The Washington Examiner, on condition that he not be named. "NATO and the [Afghan] government were ashamed of what had happened and wanted to keep it quiet." ... "To counter the rise in attacks, combined forces continue to push into Taliban safe havens like Bagh-i-Shirkat on the outskirts of the provincial capital Kunduz city," Walczak said. "Warlords, criminal groups, drug smugglers and tribal feuds continue to have n

The RGA fires us up for November

14 Weeks from Republican Governors Association on Vimeo . The fast paced images mixed with the narration and music kind of grab you.

Health care special treatment in the UK

Daily Mail: A nurse has been suspended for having an affair with a heart and lung transplant patient. Rebecca Bayliss, 29, met the man on her ward when he was receiving treatment for cystic fibrosis while on the donor waiting list. ... For a guy who needed a heart and lung transplant, he was pretty lively.  It appears her heart went out to him in the figurative sense anyway. 

A judge helps the bad guys in Arizona

IBD: ... One could almost hear the cheers from the badlands of Durango and Sonora, home of the biggest Mexican drug and people-smuggling cartels, to read District Court Judge Susan Bolton's ruling effectively striking down Arizona's immigration law, SB 1070. Bolton blocked the main provisions of Arizona's law requiring state lawmen to ask people they come into legitimate contact with to show documentation if there's reasonable suspicion they're here illegally. So now a van driver arrested by a state trooper for driving 120 miles per hour with 30 people stuffed under his floorboards will still get a speeding ticket, but the officer can't ask about his immigration status. Nothing to see here; move along. Bolton also blocked provisions requiring foreigners to carry papers at all times (as federal law already requires), as well as a section prohibiting public solicitation of work. Likewise, a section allowing warrantless arrests on probable cause was tosse

Portland's pedophile lowlights

Washington Times: Portland, Ore., is widely featured as a young, green, hip city; it also has gained a reputation as a national hub for child sex trafficking. State police report encountering three to five trafficking victims a week. Although the Sexual Assault Resource Center , an advocacy group that offers services to Portland-area victims, estimates that it handled 75 cases in 2009, it also says that for every girl in its system 10 more are still being exploited. "I just believe with my whole heart that people across the community would be appalled if they knew what was going on," said Sgt. Mike Geiger, who heads Portland's sexual assault detail. Portland's legal commercial sex industry is the biggest per capita in the country, according to a report by researchers at Willamette Law School's International Human Rights Clinic. Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather once called the city "Pornland." The city has more strip clubs per capita than

Republican governors ready to lead

Remember the Dream. Remember November. from Republican Governors Association on Vimeo . It is a good ad.

Judge preempts part of Arizona immigration law

NY Times: ... ... Judge Bolton took aim at the parts of the law that have generated the most controversy, issuing a preliminary injunction against sections that called for officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws and that required immigrants to carry their papers at all times. ... The injunction does not make much sense since it is hard to see how the government is hurt by law enforcement officers inquiring about a suspects immigration status. As for the requirement that the aliens carry their immigration documents, Federal law already requires that so what she is really doing is saying that Arizona cannot make a crime not to comply with the federal law. I think Arizona has a good case for appeal.

Wikileaks endangers Afghan civilians helping NATO

Ed Morrissey: If the information on the progress of the war from the much-ballyhooed Wikileaks publication of 92,000 documents didn’t come as a big surprise to Americans who have paid attention to the Af-Pak theater, it apparently will come as a big surprise to those in Afghanistan who have worked with US forces.  Julian Assange’s leak included the names of hundreds of informants and people working with US forces in Afghanistan.  Those people will now have to be protected, and it’s not likely they’ll be replaced.... ... Meanwhile The Long War Journal reports that Mullah Omar has ordered the killing of Afghan civilians including women if they are cooperating with the US. Wikileaks has signed their death warrants.

Something to make Hitler's ashes rotate

From the Voice of America: Israel Trains German Pilots to Fly Drones in Afghanistan

Democrats out of touch on offshore drilling bill

Politico: House and Senate Democratic leaders Tuesday rolled out their big “spill bills” — the main legislative responses to the Gulf oil spill. The proposals are packed with aggressive offshore drilling reforms that Republicans have long fought and were immediately met with fierce pushback from the GOP and the oil industry. That could make it tough to get the bills passed, especially in the Senate, where a handful of oil-state Democrats may cross the aisle to vote against the package. But strategists say the Republican “no” votes will also benefit Democrats politically — and some Republicans say that’s why the so-called poison pill provisions were included. “If, after the worst oil spill in the history of the country, Republicans were to vote no against new offshore drilling protections — can you imagine the ads?” asked one senior Democratic aide. Campaign strategists certainly can. “Republicans have found themselves on the defensive on that issue, and they are sitting