Showing posts from August, 2010

Murkowski concedes in Alaska Senate primary

Anchorage Daily News: Incumbent Lisa Murkowski has conceded to challenger Joe Miller in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. Speaking to reporters at her campaign headquarters in Anchorage, Murkowski said "based on where we are right now, I don't see a scenario where the primary will turn out in my favor." The concession come after a day of counting absentee ballots in which Murkowski gained little ground on Miller, the Fairbanks attorney backed by former Gov. Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Express. ... I think Miller should be the favorite to win in November. He will face Democrat Scott McAdams, the mayor or Sitka. We will have to learn some Alaska geography to follow that race. The GOP caucus will probably be much more conservative in the next Congress.

Pakistan flood waters dislodge land mines

Dawn: Flood waters in Pakistan have dislodged and carried landmines to places previously deemed safe or demined, increasing risks to the population, the international Red Cross warned on Tuesday. Since the beginning of the floods, “three children, a woman and a man have been severely injured” by landmines in disaster-hit regions, Luiza Khazhgerieva, an official from the International Committee of the Red Cross, told AFP. “Mines and unexploded ordnance could have been easily moved by water from the original places,” she noted. The ICRC has in recent weeks documented incidents of explosions in areas previously deemed to be free of landmines. ... A similar problem happened with flooding in North Korea sweeping mines into South Korea. These things are dangerous enough when you know where they are. Who is going into the original mine fields to find out which ones are gone?

Deep fried beer coming to Texas State Fair, OU-Texas game

Telegraph: The beer is placed inside a pocket of salty, pretzel-like dough and then dunked in oil at 375 degrees for about 20 seconds, a short enough time for the confection to remain alcoholic. When diners take a bite the hot beer mixes with the dough in what is claimed to be a delicious taste sensation. Inventor Mark Zable said it had taken him three years to come up with the cooking method and a patent for the process is pending. He declined to say whether any special ingredients were involved. His deep-fried beer will be officially unveiled in a fried food competition at the Texas state fair later this month. ... I am not sure how I got scooped on this story by a UK London paper. but there it is. It does not sound like it will fit my low carb diet requirements. Last year's winner of the deep fried competition was butter. I wonder how many arteries deep fried butter can block.

UN troops failed to respond to rape of 200 women in Congo

NY Times: United Nations officials had been warned about rape ocurring in a remote Congolese area much earlier than officials originally said, according to an internal United Nations e-mail and a humanitarian bulletin. The United Nations’ beleaguered peacekeeping mission in Congo, which costs more than a billion dollars a year but has failed to stop widespread violence against civilians, has been harshly criticized since the news broke 10 days ago that United Nations peacekeepers did not respond to a rebel attack in which nearly 200 women were raped. According to an e-mail sent within United Nations agencies on July 30, as the attack was unfolding, United Nations officials knew that the rebels had infiltrated the area and that at least one woman had been raped. “The town of Mpofi, 52 kilometers from Walikale, has just fallen into the hands of the F.D.L.R. A woman was raped there,” said the e-mail, which was sent by the United Nations’ humanitarian office in eastern Congo to sev

Hamas murders Israelis in attempt to stop peace discussions

Guardian: Hamas gunmen shot dead four Israeli settlers on the outskirts of the volatile West Bank city of Hebron tonight in a move that could jeopardise the first face-to-face talks between Israel and the Palestinians for more than 20 months. The armed wing of the Islamic organisation, which is virulently opposed to the negotiations, claimed responsibility for the "heroic operation" in which its militants attacked a car on a main road close to the city. The army said that the victims were two men and two women, one of whom was pregnant, from a nearby settlement. An Israeli military spokeswoman said troops were at the scene, evacuating the bodies and searching the area, which was designated a closed military zone. "The vehicle was sprayed with dozens of bullets," an ambulance worker told Israeli television. "There were numerous shell casings around." A spokesman for the Qassam Brigades, Hamas's armed wing, was quoted by Reuters as saying that

Dear Patients, Send Democrats a message

Hal Scherz: Facing a nationwide backlash, Democratic congressional candidates have a new message for voters: We know you don't like ObamaCare, so we'll fix it. This was the line offered by Democrat Mark Critz, who won a special election in Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district after expressing opposition to the law and promising to mend it—but not to repeal it. As a doctor I know something about unexpected recoveries, and this latest attempt to rescue ObamaCare from repeal needs to be taken seriously. For Democrats who voted for ObamaCare, this tactic is an escape route, a chance to distance themselves from the president with a vague promise to fix health-care reform in the next Congress. To counter this election-year ruse, my colleagues and I at Docs4PatientCare are enlisting thousands of doctors in an unorthodox and unprecedented action. Our patients have always expected a certain standard of care from their doctors, which includes providing them with pertine

Al Qaeda tries to get Saudi troops to betray kingdom

Bill Roggio: In a nearly 15-minute audio tape released in early August, Said al Shihri, one of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) top leaders, tried to convince Saudi soldiers and security officers to serve al Qaeda. Al Shihri set forth a dozen reasons why Saudi citizens should betray the royals, and he offered a cursory plan for doing so. Al Shihri said it should be “easy” to overthrow the House of Saud if his plan is followed. Al Shihri called for willing recruits to form cells that can attract logistical support from members of the Saudi Air Force, Army, and office of the Interior Ministry. Al Shihri urged guards for the Saudi royals to turn on “the tyrant princes” and “kill them.” Those in charge of security at “weapons warehouses” inside the Kingdom and employees of the Interior Ministry are especially valuable recruits, al Shihri said. Operational cells should also perform surveillance on “important targets” inside the Kingdom, al Shihiri advised, according to a t

Wall street reacts to Obama's betrayal

Andrew Ross Sorkin, NY Times: Daniel S. Loeb, the hedge fund manager, was one of Barack Obama’s biggest backers in the 2008 presidential campaign. A registered Democrat, Mr. Loeb has given and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Democrats. Less than a year ago, he was considered to be among the Wall Street elite still close enough to the White House to be invited to a speech in Lower Manhattan, where President Obama outlined the need for a financial regulatory overhaul. So it came as quite a surprise on Friday, when Mr. Loeb sent a letter to his investors that sounded as if he were preparing to join Glenn Beck in Washington over the weekend. “As every student of American history knows, this country’s core founding principles included nonpunitive taxation, constitutionally guaranteed protections against persecution of the minority and an inexorable right of self-determination,” he wrote. “Washington has taken actions over the past months, like the Goldman suit that seem

Iraq war cheaper than stimulus

Fox News: As President Obama prepares to tie a bow on U.S. combat operations in Iraq, Congressional Budget Office numbers show that the total cost of the eight-year war was less than the stimulus bill passed by the Democratic-led Congress in 2009. According to CBO numbers in its Budget and Economic Outlook published this month, the cost of Operation Iraqi Freedom was $709 billion for military and related activities, including training of Iraqi forces and diplomatic operations. The projected cost of the stimulus, which passed in February 2009, and is expected to have a shelf life of two years, was $862 billion. The U.S. deficit for fiscal year 2010 is expected to be $1.3 trillion, according to CBO. That compares to a 2007 deficit of $160.7 billion and a 2008 deficit of $458.6 billion, according to data provided by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. In 2007 and 2008, the deficit as a percentage of gross domestic product was 1.2 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively. ..

Repealing Obamacare needed to restore economic growth

Mike Cosgrove: One has to congratulate President Obama and his advisers on their success. Rahm Emanuel's quip about "never let a crisis go to waste" in late 2008 was a prelude to the administration's attack on U.S. economic growth. In perspective, Obama mounted an attack on the pillars of U.S. economy — growth, wealth creation and personal responsibility — that amounted to a shock-and-awe economic attack. It took Obama less than 18 months to transform a historically vibrant U.S. economy to one that has been paralyzed by his shock-and-awe economic policies. The U.S. economy has little or no private-sector job growth, nearly 10% unemployment, a high rate of underemployment, no wealth creation and a heavy dose of government control. This administration has been relentless in its push to transform an economy that was based on growth, wealth creation and personal responsibility to one characterized by wealth-sharing, government control and slow growth. Obama succee

Iraqis fearful of US departure

Washington Post: Four days after his brother was murdered in a Baghdad robbery this month, Muntather Shaker borrowed $1,500 and bought a pistol. He carries it in his back pocket, sleeps with it under his pillow and is ready to use it to defend his family. "If I thought the government could protect me I would never buy a weapon," he said. "We don't know what will happen when the Americans leave." Shaker is one of scores of Iraqis who feel they must depend on themselves for protection as the U.S. military has drawn down to just under 50,000 troops and ends combat operations on Tuesday. The withdrawing troops leave behind a country with only a tenuous hold on stability: Nearly six months after the national parliamentary election, no new government has formed, violence is on the rise and Iraq's security forces are being targeted. Despite assurances that the United States is not abandoning Iraq, people here are scrambling to prepare themselves. Weapons

Bush, military deserves credit for success in Iraq

Mike Pence: As the combat mission in Iraq draws to a close for the United States and the president prepares to address the nation tonight, the Obama administration is attempting to rewrite history by taking singular credit for our accomplishments in Iraq. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. recently claimed it was President Obama who laid out the plan for a responsible end of the war in Iraq. But that's not the whole story. As we mark this milestone, let us remember the real history of Operation Iraqi Freedom and give credit where credit is due - to the American service members, their families and a commander in chief who would not accept defeat in the face of withering criticism at home and abroad. Seeing U.S. combat forces leaving with success is chiefly the result of the professionalism and sacrifices of our military in executing the surge and the Status of Forces Agreement implemented before Mr. Obama set foot in the Oval Office. First, our brave men and women in uniform

Gallup generic goes GOP by 10

Nate Silver, NY Times: ... The poll stealing the headlines this morning is from Gallup, and for good reason: it gives the Republicans a whopping 10-point lead on the generic ballot. This is, in fact, an all-time record for the Republicans: Gallup has been conducting this survey for almost 70 years, and Republicans have never managed to have quite that large of an edge before. ... Making matters worse still for Democrats, Gallup’s survey — and some other generic ballot polls — are still polling registered rather than likely voters, whereas its polls of likely voters are generally more reliable in midterm elections. At FiveThirtyEight, we’ve found that the gap between registered and likely voter polls this year is about 4 points in the Republicans’ favor — so a 10-point lead in a registered voter poll is the equivalent of about 14 points on a likely-voter basis. Thus, even if this particular Gallup survey was an outlier, it’s not unlikely that we’ll begin to see some 8-, 9-, 10-p

Mexico captures Texas member of cartel leadership

Houston Chronicle: Mexican authorities captured a legendary Texan on Monday who is accused of a bloody climb to the top echelon of one of the hemisphere's most powerful drug cartels. Edgar Valdez Villarreal, known as "La Barbie" for his looks, faces a slew of charges in Mexico, but also is wanted in the United States, where he has been indicted for smuggling thousands of pounds of cocaine into this country. The U.S. government has offered a reward of up to $2 million for his capture. In an interview with the Houston Chronicle late Monday, a Houston lawyer representing Valdez, 37, said he fears his client will be tortured or worse before he can be returned to the United States for trial. "I do not think anyone is safe in the hands of the Mexican military" defense attorney Kent Schaffer said. "Something is going to happen." Most recently, Valdez was indicted in Atlanta on federal charges he imported and distributed thousands of kilograms of c

The illegal's catch and release policy continues under Obama

Sara Carter: In March, Jose Manuel Gonzalez-Sandoval — who had committed serious crimes in the United States since 1998 — stood before Florence, Ariz., Immigration Judge Bruce Taylor on a deportation hearing. That day the judge canceled his removal proceedings, allowing him to stay in the United States. Four months later, Sandoval was arrested again on an outstanding warrant but was released. Three days after that release he led police on a 100 mph car chase. Then in August, in response to a 911 call from his family, he shot at Arizona deputies who came to his home. That night, he escaped. He later turned himself into authorities after they began a public manhunt for him. Sandoval, who had resident status, is only one example of a legal system that lacks working mechanisms for deporting criminal aliens, said Rep. Ted Poe, a Texas Republican and former judge. “The federal government has the responsibility, the moral duty to send these criminal aliens back where they came from af

Eddie Bernice Johnson scholarship mess

Anderson Cooper question the Congressional Black Caucus on how they let so many people who were ineligible get the scholarships. She gave up to 23 scholarships to relatives and children of employees who did not meet the criteria. She is a long time Congresswoman from the Dallas area.

Iran's fear and hatred of women

Michael Ledeen: The mullahs have declared Carla Bruni, aka Mrs. Nicholas Sarkozy, aka France’s First Lady, a prostitute, in response to her letter to an Iranian woman sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery. If ever there were a case of the pot calling the kettle black, this is it. The Islamic Republic is a thoroughly corrupt regime that pauperizes its people while the top dogs live in luxury that would be the envy of a Hollywood star. I use “top dogs” carefully, because in recent days a leading ayatollah has banned all advertisements for dogs, their food, stores that cater to them, or indeed anything having to do with them, in Khamenei’s domain. This is the latest in a series of ukases or fatwas devoted to the elimination of the pursuit of happiness. Music and fun haircuts have been recently banned, and of course the color green has been banished long since. On the other hand, prostitution is blessed. It’s not called prostitution, mind you, but it’s hard to call the “te

Democrat Congress responsible for recession

Jumping in the Pool: Claims have been bandied about that President Bush was at fault for the economic down-turn that began in late 2007. Until now, Democrats have pointed the finger at our 43rd President, stating that he single-handedly pushed our nation to the brink of economic collapse. That stops today. Examining unemployment, national debt data, and GDP growth, the truth becomes clear and apparent. President Bush was not at fault for the recession we are in. The Democrats who took over Congress in 2007 are. From 1995 to January of 2007, Republicans held at least one house of Congress. However, in the 2006 mid-term elections, Democrats won control of both the House and Senate. They took their new offices in January, 2007. Soon after that time until now, the United States has entered a deep recession, often attributed to President Bush. However, examining the actions of the Democratic Congress and the effects that came, the truth is revealed. Unemployment is a figure t

Brits may disband their Gurkha unit

Daily Mail: One of Britain's most famous Army regiments could be sacrificed under drastic defence cuts. Ministers risk being forced to take the axe to the Gurkhas in an attempt to save millions of pounds. One military expert warned that the 'writing was on the wall' for the Nepalese soldiers, who have been part of the Army for nearly 200 years. Chancellor George Osborne has ordered the Ministry of Defence to make cuts of between 10 and 20 per cent of its £36.9 billion budget as he attempts to claw back Britain's multi-billion-pound deficit. Public support for the Gurkhas was highlighted last year when actress Joanna Lumley spearheaded a successful campaign to force the Labour government to give retired veterans the right to settle in the UK. ... These guys are some of the best warriors in the world. It would be a mistake to cut them, but if the Brits do so we should give them an opportunity to join the US military. I am sure the Marines could find a use fo

Dutch arrest 2 on flight from US that looks like a dry run for terror

Telegraph: Ahmed Mohamed Nasser al-Soofi, who was to believed to be from Yemen, and Hezam al-Murisi, whose nationality was not known, were detained at the request of the American authorities. Al-Soofi began his journey in Alabama where airport screeners stopped him because of his “bulky clothing”, according to ABC News. They discovered he was carrying $7,000 in cash. The US Transport and Security Administration is likely to face questions about why he was allowed to board even though his luggage was allegedly found to contain a mobile phone taped to a Pepto-Bismol bottle, three other mobile phones taped together and several watches taped together. ... The bulky clothing and the mock bombs look like a dry run to see what could get by US security. As a dry run it appears to be an abject failure. The NY Times has more on the suspicious conduct.

Mexico fires 10% of its police for corruption

BBC: The federal police force in Mexico says it has sacked almost 10% of its officers this year for corruption, incompetence or links to criminals. Commissioner Facundo Rosas said 3,200 officers had been fired. More than 1,000 others were facing disciplinary action and could also lose their jobs, he added. In a separate development, a shoot-out between troops in Veracruz state and a suspected drugs gang has left six gunmen and one soldier dead. The firefight, in the town of Panuco, started when the soldiers went to investigate a house used by the alleged drug traffickers. Announcing the dismissals, Mr Rosas said none of the sacked officers would be allowed to work in police forces at local, state or federal levels. ... The probably did not get all the bad ones. Those who were fired will probably wind up working full time for a cartel rather than moonlighting with the cops. The cartels will further augment their work force with the criminal aliens ICE is deporting.

Unfit recruits

NY Times: Dawn breaks at this, the Army’s largest training post, with the reliable sound of fresh recruits marching to their morning exercise. But these days, something looks different. That familiar standby, the situp, is gone, or almost gone. Exercises that look like pilates or yoga routines are in. And the traditional bane of the new private, the long run, has been downgraded. This is the Army’s new physical-training program, which has been rolled out this year at its five basic training posts that handle 145,000 recruits a year. Nearly a decade in the making, its official goal is to reduce injuries and better prepare soldiers for the rigors of combat in rough terrain like Afghanistan. But as much as anything, the program was created to help address one of the most pressing issues facing the military today: overweight and unfit recruits. ... When I went through Marine Corps OCS in 1966 I was in pretty good shape, but underweight. The Marines cured that. I gained 30 pound

The Democrat House in trouble

The Hill: ... "It’s become no different than what Republicans faced in '06 and '08," Bolger said. "We're seeing races where the Republican has next to no name ID and is either leading or tied. That means the incumbent loses." ... "If you're a Democrat in a district [Sen. John] McCain [R-Ariz.] won, or a Democrat in a district [President] Obama didn't win by a large margin, you've got some problems," said Bolger. Thirty-two of the 37 congressional districts held by Democrats that are rated as toss-ups by Cook this November fit that description. "I see the momentum building and building," McCarthy said Wednesday. The NRCC's vice chairman of recruiting said Democrats are in "panic mode" over their prospects for the fall. Of Democratic incumbents, McCarthy said, "The members themselves see it. They feel it back home and they're lashing out." ... It is a long piece, but the thread is cl

Hey, the opposition could have been 100%

From the LA Times: Imam dismisses Islamic center's foes as 'small, vociferous' group I guess 70 % opposition is just enough for some people.

The Democrats disingenuous Social Security arguments

Washington Times: Pressure is growing on the White House to fire one of President Obama's co-chairmen of his deficit commission after he sent a verbally abusive e-mail to a seniors advocate last week - and opponents warn he had discredited the entire commission's work. Women's groups, senior citizen advocates and Democratic members of Congress say they are disappointed that the White House has not moved to dismiss former Sen. Alan Simpson after the Republican vulgarly described Social Security and accused the seniors advocate of "babbling into the vapors." With Democrats already preparing to try to make Social Security cuts an issue in November's elections, the comments have given new life to those who are worried the deficit commission is headed that direction. Democratic candidates already are using Mr. Simpson's remark in fundraising appeals. The White House did not return messages from The Washington Times seeking comment, but a spokeswoman to

Al Qaeda Algerian tax collecters kill for non payment

Reuters/NY Times: A series of murders in the mountains east of Algiers this month is a demonstration of force by al Qaeda's north Africa arm to ensure danger money from local farmers keeps flowing into its coffers, residents say. Algeria's government has said repeatedly the militants, the remnant of a far bigger Islamist insurgency in the 1990s, are on the back foot as security forces step up raids on their strongholds as close as 50 kilometers (31 miles) to the capital. Residents of the small town of Baghlia say rebels of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb assassinated its mayor on August 6. A few days later, they killed three soldiers and injured two in a bomb blast. Then on August 22 a former rebel was gunned down in a cafe. Local farmers say the killings are designed to show the state still cannot protect those who refuse to pay a portion of their income to al Qaeda. "If we pay, we become accomplices to terrorists. If we don't pay, we may end up killed,&qu

Is Russian arms dealer ready to make a deal?

NY Times: Accused of a 15-year run as one of the world’s biggest arms traffickers, Viktor Bout is thought to be a consummate deal maker. Now his future may hang on whether he can strike one last bargain: trading what American officials believe is his vast insider’s knowledge of global criminal networks in exchange for not spending the rest of his life in a federal prison. Justice Department officials were relieved on Aug. 20 when a Thai appeals court approved the extradition of Mr. Bout (pronounced boot), a Russian, from Bangkok, where he has been incarcerated since 2008. But they are wary of declaring victory in a long diplomatic wrangle with Russia until Mr. Bout actually arrives to face charges in Manhattan, a development that could be days or weeks away. Immersed since the early 1990s in the dark side of globalization, Mr. Bout has mastered the trade and the transport that fuel drug cartels, terrorism networks and insurgent movements from Colombia to Afghanistan, according

Drilling industry responds to deep water challenges

Houston Chronicle: Houston's National Oilwell Varco has unveiled what is says is the meanest cutting tool on the market, blades capable of puncturing and slicing through up to 2 inches of rock-solid steel in less than 30 seconds. Housed in hulking 900,000-pound blowout preventer stacks made at the company's northwest Houston manufacturing facility, the blades are part of a new shear ram system meant to sever drill pipe at its thickest joints and stop an eruption of oil and natural gas in a blowout, all using less force than its counterparts. The industrial guillotine is a necessary but dreaded last resort, meant to be used only after the failure of other lines of defense — hundreds of pounds of heavy drilling mud and two to three powerful pipe rams. "We have developed an incredible technology that we hope will never have to be used," said Frank Springett, vice president for pressure control engineering at National Oilwell Varco, the largest oil field equipment c

Jobless benefits drive up unemployment?

Robert Barro: Congressman John Boehner recently suggested that President Obama replace his top economic advisers. I think he may have a point. The economic "recovery" has been disappointing, to put it mildly, and it has become increasingly clear that the blame lies with the policies of the Obama administration, not with those of its predecessor. In general, the current administration has been too focused on expanding government, redistributing more from rich to poor, and stimulating aggregate demand. I have previously criticized the stimulus package as cost-ineffective. In particular, whatever tax reductions were in the package did not involve the cuts in marginal income tax rates that encourage investment, work effort and productivity growth. Now the administration wants to kill the 2003 income-tax cuts, at least the parts that reduced marginal income tax rates for high-income earners and for all recipients of dividend income. This proposal is particularly disturbing b

Special ops troops remain in Iraq

Rowan Scarborough, Washington Times: As U.S. military forces continue to stream out of Iraq, formally ending combat operations on Tuesday, one of the most effective elements of those forces missed the drawdown completely. There are as many special operations forces in the country now as there were when the exit began last year. President Obama, who as a U.S. senator opposed a 2007 troop surge and called for withdrawing all troops from Iraq, is set Tuesday to tell the nation that combat missions by Americans are officially over. There are now fewer than 50,000 American troops in Iraq, down from a surge-high of 168,000 in late 2007. New challenges begin. An Iraqi security force of about 670,000 troops will have to shoulder the brunt of attacking insurgents, while Iraqi politicians seek an elusive deal to form a new parliamentary government. "In reality, the Iraqis have been doing the majority of the security work for some time now," Army Gen. Raymond Odierno, the top

Analyzing the risk of deep water rigs

NY Times: In a remote reach of the Gulf of Mexico, nearly 200 miles from shore, a floating oil platform thrusts its tentacles deep into the ocean like a giant steel octopus. The $3 billion rig, called Perdido, can pump oil from dozens of wells nearly two miles under the sea while simultaneously drilling new ones. It is part of a wave of ultra-deep platforms — all far more sophisticated than the rig that was used to drill the ill-fated BP well that blew up in April. These platforms have sprung up far from shore and have pushed the frontiers of technology in the gulf, a region that now accounts for a quarter of the nation’s oil output. Major offshore accidents are not common. But whether through equipment failure or human error, the risks increase as the rigs get larger and more complicated. Yet even as regulators investigate the causes of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the broader dangers posed by the industry’s push into deeper waters have gone largely unscrutinized. “Our ab

Jindal attacks Obama's lack of urgency on jobs

The Hill: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) on Sunday blasted President Obama’s failure to revisit his ban on offshore oil drilling. “We don’t think the fact that they’re not doing their jobs in D.C. should cost thousands of Louisianans our jobs,” Jindal told reporters shortly after the president spoke at Xavier University in New Orleans. Obama’s speech on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina addressed the rebuilding of New Orleans and his commitment to clean up the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico but did not mention his administration’s decision to halt offshore exploration until Nov. 30. The White House is reportedly considering an early end to the ban but Jindal wants to see a “greater sense of urgency” from the president. “The experts all agree, we can end this moratorium before six months," he said. "Let’s put our people back to work.” Jindal said he was going to meet on Monday with former Florida Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), who co-chairs the BP Deepwater

Taliban murder those working to elect women

Guardian: The bodies of five volunteers working for a female MP have been found riddled with bullets in western Afghanistan, amid a growing campaign of violent intimidation against women running in the country's elections. The men, aged between 20 and 35, were found dead by villagers in the Adraskan district of Herat province, some distance from where they were kidnapped by gunmen on Thursday while out campaigning for Fauzia Gilani. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of 10 of her campaign workers as they travelled in remote countryside. Five of the workers were released before the others were found dead. ... One of the defining features of the campaign has been the attacks and scare tactics directed at women contesting seats nationwide. According to a recent survey of violence and irregularities in Logar province, conducted by the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA), nine out of 10 threats against specific candidates were directed at

In Texas they might be called 'good ole boys'

From the Telegraph: Drunk baboons plague Cape Town's exclusive suburbs Apparently they enjoy the last of the wine harvest at a vineyard.

Rabbi's sermon criticized by State Department

Washington Times: The State Department on Sunday condemned remarks by a prominent Israeli rabbi advocating divinely ordained death for the Palestinians and their leaders. "We regret and condemn the inflammatory statements by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in a statement. "We note the Israeli statement that the Rabbi's comments do not reflect the views of the Prime Minister. These remarks are not only deeply offensive, but incitement such as this hurts the cause of peace. As we move forward to relaunch peace negotiations, it is important that actions by people on all sides help to advance our effort, not hinder it." Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the 89-year-old former Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel and current spiritual leader of the ultra-orthodox Shas party, reportedly said in a sermon Saturday that "[Palestinian President] Abu Mazen and all these evil people should perish from this world … God should strike [the leaders of

Does Iran want to stone Carla Bruni too?

Telegraph: Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy, the wife of Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, was attacked after she signed a petition calling for the release of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who is accused of cheating on her husband and then helping to kill him. Kayhan, an Iranian newspaper, which is under control of the government, called Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy and Isabelle Adjani, the French actress who is campaigning for Ashtina’s release, “prostitutes” in an editorial, while Iranian state television accused the former supermodel of “immorality”. ... The Daily Mail has more on the Iranian insult machine. Iran is a country that sanctions the 30 minute temporary marriage for its prostitution services so it seems strange that it would attack Western women in committed relationships. I think the fact of the matter is that the stoning sentence has become a diplomatic disaster for Iran and they are trying to deflect the pressure with insults of those who are pressing the issue.

Elderly left to starve in UK rationed health care

Scotsman: ELDERLY patients are at risk of malnutrition in hospital because they are being left to go hungry on NHS wards, a new report warns today. Those who enter hospital malnourished can get worse during their stay or become malnourished under the care of NHS staff. The report from the charity Age UK found almost one in three nurses believes their own relative could enter hospital with nobody noticing they were malnourished. The charity found instances of food trays left out of reach of patients while those at risk of choking were not given puréed food. The charity has also heard of elderly people receiving no help with cutting food into smaller pieces or opening lids on containers. Food trays are also sometimes taken away untouched without any questions, according to the report. ... This is what Obama's man in charge of Medicare aspires to? It is the kind of thing that can happen where there is no alternative competitor to turn to. It is what happens when the st

Why are they called 'secret'?

From the Independent: Secret services 'must be made more transparent' It sounds like the UK has lost the plot.

Texas Democrats continue to avoid Obama

El Paso Times: President Barack Obama will arrive in El Paso at a time of discontent, when the country's economic and labor market looks as uncertain as the future of its foreign policy. Obama on Tuesday will visit Fort Bliss to mark the end of combat operations in Iraq. He will meet with soldiers in anticipation of a new phase of military action that begins in September with about 50,000 soldiers staying to "advise and assist" the Iraqis. This emotional moment with historic significance does not mean Democratic candidates in Texas and New Mexico want to stand shoulder to shoulder with the commander in chief. Even in El Paso, where an overwhelming 68 percent voted for Obama in 2008, candidates facing tough races in November will not be on hand for his speech. Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White will be absent. So will New Mexico's Democratic nominee for governor, Diane Denish. Two Texas Democrats facing difficult re-election campaigns, state

Obama, the man of action against al Qaeda becomes a 'decider'

Peter Baker, NY Times: President Obama rushed to the Oval Office when word arrived one night that militants with Al Qaeda in Yemen had been located and that the military wanted to support an attack by Yemeni forces. After a quick discussion, his counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, told him the window to strike was closing. “I’ve got two minutes here,” Mr. Brennan said. “O.K.,” the president said. “Go with this.” While Mr. Obama took three sometimes maddening months to decide to send more forces to Afghanistan, other decisions as commander in chief have come with dizzying speed, far less study and little public attention. He is the first president in four decades with a shooting war already raging the day he took office — two, in fact, plus subsidiaries — and his education as a commander in chief with no experience in uniform has been a steep learning curve. He has learned how to salute. He has surfed the Internet at night to look into the toll on troops. He has faced y

California needs to tax the liberals and state employees

Tim Cavanaugh: How would you like to be running the California Travel and Tourism Commission right now? The state is generating an almost constant stream of alarming news. “Essential” services from libraries to police hours to public school teaching staffs are being drastically cut. Cities are going bankrupt. This year’s state budget—which currently boasts a $19 billion shortfall—has been delayed for nearly two months, with no agreement in sight between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic lawmakers. Employees are being furloughed. The state will soon have to start issuing IOUs to cover its obligations. Sacramento announced Monday it would be unable to pay nearly $3 billion in school and county subsidies. Books with titles like Plunder and California Crackup detail how massive financial obligations have rendered the state essentially ungovernable. In short, California can’t buy decent press these days. (And even if it could it wouldn’t have any money to do so.) So why is t

Mosque arrogance in New York

Michael Goodwin: Now he tells us. According to Mayor Bloomberg, the "yelling and screaming" about the Ground Zero mosque is just "people trying to stir things up to get publicity and trying to polarize people so they can get some votes." He said that on the Jon Stewart show, on Comedy Central. Maybe he was joking. Or maybe he was teeing off on the unwashed masses before jetting off to join President Obama on the golf course. There's nothing like a round with an unpopular president deep in an election season to dispel suspicion that you're playing politics. It's probably a coincidence that Obama and Bloomberg are among the few officials in America defending the mosque, just as they defended holding the 9/11 trial in lower Manhattan. Both see themselves as citizens of the world who ascribe ugly motives to anybody who disagrees with them. It's the "good to be king" syndrome and Bloomberg is no piker, as he showed in his first over

Shari'a like the Hotel California

Richard Fernandez: ... ... You can check in any time you like, but you can never leave. You could become a Muslim, but it was nearly impossible to stop being one. That fact was becoming increasingly recognized, said Durie, as more people in the West looked into it and it was beginning to cause the severe PR problems for the Islamic world. His remarks were delivered to a crowd consisting mostly of Australians of Arab descent, some of whom I knew to be former Muslims. The protesters tried to frame the problem of apostates within the framework of Article 18 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that people have a right to choose their religion. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance. The goals of the pro

EPA rejects ban on lead in bullets

US News: In a swift and unexpected decision, the Environmental Protection Agency today rejected a petition from environmental groups to ban the use of lead in bullets and shotgun shells, claiming it doesn't have jurisdiction to weigh on the controversial Second Amendment issue. The decision came just hours after the Drudge Report posted stories from Washington Whispers and the Weekly Standard about how gun groups were fighting the lead bullet ban. Click here to find out more! The EPA had planned to solicit public responses to the petition for two months, but this afternoon issued a statement rejecting a 100-page request from the Center for Biological Diversity, the American Bird Conservancy, and three other groups for a ban on lead bullets, shot, and fishing sinkers. The agency is still considering what to do about sinkers. ... The anti gun left put the Obama administration in a bad position with this application and the EPA almost fell for it before someone gave them a call

Brits gut special ops leadership

Independent on Sunday: Britain's special forces have been dealt a devastating blow that has seen the number of elite Special Air Service (SAS) personnel on active duty slashed. The move was condemned last night by leading SAS figures as "madness" which will result in the loss of some of the country's most experienced and senior special forces personnel. The dozens of soldiers axed – who were informed last week – include some of the SAS's best men, whose efforts have been crucial in a series of successful missions to kill or capture senior Taliban commanders in Afghanistan. This follows a decision by Whitehall officials to end a practice called "continuance", which allows special forces soldiers to serve up to the age of 45 – five years longer than their regular Army counterparts. As a result almost 40 men – the equivalent of half of one of the regiment's four squadrons – were informed last week that they will be forced to retire. The move h

Anti energy groups look to block Arctic drilling

Observer /Guardian: In a few days' time, officials at the Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum in Greenland will reveal the winners of a new round of licences to drill for oil and gas in its waters. The announcement promises to be explosive. Among those waiting are most of the world's leading oil companies, including ExxonMobil, Shell and Norway's StatOil. Watching with equal attention will be the planet's leading green groups, who they have pledged to block every effort to drill in the Arctic. "The Arctic is the last pristine refuge in the northern hemisphere and it is simply not acceptable for oil companies to come here to drill and risk triggering a disaster that would dwarf the Deepwater Horizon spill," said Ben Ayliffe, senior energy campaigner at Greenpeace. Its ship, the Esperanza, is currently trying to disrupt drilling in the Davis Strait off the Greenland mainland. "We are going to make a real fight of this,"he said. Last week the futur