Executive Order 12958
I'm open to expert opinion.
Rojak posts, mostly political.
"A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people." -- Thomas Mann
If so, I must be a writer.
A local school employee said a rough run-in with a couple of Homeland Security officers has left him with a strong sense of insecurity.
Leander Pickett, a teacher's assistant at Englewood Elementary, said he was manhandled and handcuffed by two plain clothed Homeland Security officers in front of the school Tuesday for no reason at all.
A reporter for the New York Post's "Page Six" gossip column has been suspended by the tabloid newspaper amid allegations that he tried to extort at least $100,000 from a California billionaire for protection against inaccurate or negative items.
The reporter, Jared Paul Stern, 35, is under investigation by the FBI and federal prosecutors, according to newspaper sources.
The administration of President George W. Bush is planning a massive bombing campaign against Iran, including use of bunker-buster nuclear bombs to destroy a key Iranian suspected nuclear weapons facility, The New Yorker magazine has reported in its April 17 issue.
The article by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh said that Bush and others in the White House have come to view Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a potential Adolf Hitler.
"That's the name they're using," the report quoted a former senior intelligence official as saying.
A senior unnamed Pentagon adviser is quoted in the article as saying that "this White House believes that the only way to solve the problem is to change the power structure in Iran, and that means war."
The former intelligence officials[sic] depicts planning as "enormous," "hectic" and "operational," Hersh writes.
But the former senior intelligence official said the attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings inside the military, and some officers have talked about resigning after an attempt to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans in Iran failed, according to the report. [emphasis mine]
Lewis Libby’s testimony identifying George W. Bush as the top official who authorized the leaking of intelligence about Iraq’s alleged nuclear weapons program raises two key questions: What did the President tell the special prosecutor about this issue in 2004 and what is Bush’s legal status in the federal criminal probe?
Bush’s legal danger came into clearer focus with the release of a court document citing testimony from Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff who claimed that Bush approved the selective release of intelligence in July 2003 to counter growing complaints that Bush had hyped evidence on Iraq’s pursuit of enriched uranium.
Key players in the Bush administration think a military confrontation with Iran is unavoidable, leading to stepped up military planning for such a prospect, according to several experts and recently departed senior government officials.
Iran, meanwhile, has also taken several public steps to suggest that it is preparing for a confrontation. Iranian officials recently announced with great fanfare that the military had tested several new weapons, including three new missiles and two new torpedoes, during maneuvers in the Persian Gulf. After Tehran successfully tested its second new torpedo, General Mohammad Ebrahim Dehghani told Iranian state television Monday that the weapon is powerful enough to "break a heavy warship" in two. The torpedo was tested in the Straits of Hormuz, a vital corridor for oil supplies.
According to Laurent Murawiec, a senior fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute, the Bush administration's contingency plans were being upgraded "because the diplomatic solution has lost credibility." Murawiec said that while he feared several years ago that some officials in Washington seemed to be relying on Israel to take out Iran's nuclear facilities, "I don't fear this anymore." He added that two European defense ministries were also working on military contingency plans, but declined to identify them [you can bet Blairco is one].
Scientists doing climate research for the federal government say the Bush administration has made it hard for them to speak forthrightly to the public about global warming. The result, the researchers say, is a danger that Americans are not getting the full story on how the climate is changing.
Employees and contractors working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with a U.S. Geological Survey scientist working at an NOAA lab, said in interviews that over the past year administration officials have chastised them for speaking on policy questions; removed references to global warming from their reports, news releases and conference Web sites; investigated news leaks; and sometimes urged them to stop speaking to the media altogether. Their accounts indicate that the ideological battle over climate-change research, which first came to light at NASA, is being fought in other federal science agencies as well.
"You never stop talking about freedom, and I appreciate that," Taylor told him. "But while I listen to you talk about freedom, I see you assert your right to tap my telephone, to arrest me and hold me without charges, to try to preclude me from breathing clean air and drinking clean water and eating safe food."
"What I want to say to you," Taylor continued, "is that I, in my lifetime, I have never felt more ashamed of, nor more frightened by, my leadership in Washington."
"I feel like, despite your rhetoric, that compassion and common sense have been left far behind during your administration," Taylor added.
"I would hope, from time to time, that you have the humility and the grace to be ashamed of yourself,"...
In an interview afterward, Taylor said he had become an activist in recent years out of discontent with Bush and was pleasantly surprised he was allowed to challenge the president. "I didn't think I'd be let in the room," he said.
Bush hardly won him over, though. "I didn't care about his response," Taylor said. "I wanted to say what I wanted to say and I wanted him to know that despite being in a room with a thousand people who love him . . . there are plenty of people out there who don't agree with him in any way, shape or form."
Here's a question. If I understand this right, Scooter Libby has sworn under oath that Vice President Cheney told him that President Bush had authorized him to disclose classified information.
Let's set aside the whole question of whether the president can do that or whether there's a specific procedure he has to follow. Just set that issue aside.
If it isn't true that Vice President Cheney told him that, then Vice President Cheney must know that Libby has again perjured himself. I would think the Vice President has an affirmative duty to come forward and say that Libby's testimony is false.
I just overheard Jeff Toobin on CNN saying that the White House will probably be able to squelch this story simply by 'no commenting' it. But can we not fairly draw the inference from Cheney's silence that he did in fact tell Libby this?
By a slightly looser logic -- and one in which sworn testimony doesn't come into play in the same fashion -- doesn't President Bush's silence tell us that Cheney was telling the truth?
President Bush's approval ratings hit a series of new lows in an AP-Ipsos poll that also shows Republicans surrendering their advantage on national security — grim election-year news for a party struggling to stay in power.
Democratic leaders predicted they will seize control of one or both chambers of Congress in November. Republicans said they feared the worst unless the political landscape quickly changes.
"These numbers are scary. We've lost every advantage we've ever had," GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio said. "The good news is Democrats don't have much of a plan. The bad news is they may not need one."
• Just 36 percent of the public approves of Bush's job performance, his lowest-ever rating in AP-Ipsos polling. By contrast, the president's job approval rating was 47 percent among likely voters just before Election Day 2004 and a whopping 64 percent among registered voters in October 2002.
• Only 40 percent of the public approves of Bush's performance on foreign policy and the war on terror, another low-water mark for his presidency. That's down 9 points from a year ago. Just before the 2002 election, 64 percent of registered voters backed Bush on terror and foreign policy.
• Just 35 percent of the public approves of Bush's handling of Iraq, his lowest in AP-Ipsos polling.
Just 30 percent of the public approves of the GOP-led Congress' job performance, and Republicans seem to be shouldering the blame.
"I'd just as soon they shut (Congress) down for a few years," said Robert Hirsch, 72, a Republican-leaning voter in Chicago. "All they do is keep passing laws and figuring out ways to spend our money."
The agency that's supposed to protect our borders and keep out terrorists is riddled with fraud and corruption, according to testimony before Congress today.
A House subcommittee heard from Michael J. Maxwell, former director of the office of security and investigations of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. He portrayed a dysfunctional agency crippled by corruption both inside and outside that's trying to handle too many cases with too few employees.
"Employees are tempted to grant benefits in order to receive cash, promotions, time off rather than deny the benefit," he said. He accused supervisors of putting pressure on workers to handle 12 to 16 applications an hour, which he called a dangerously high caseload.
In one example, Maxwell said, the agency employed an Iraqi-born U.S. citizen suspected of being a foreign intelligence agent to review asylum applications. [emphasis mine]
Putting aside party differences, Senate Republicans and Democrats coalesced Thursday around compromise legislation that holds out the hope of citizenship to many of the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the United States unlawfully.
"We can no longer afford to delay reform," said Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in a statement that capped weeks of struggle to find common ground.
"I can just about guarantee you we're not going to get a majority of the House members (to agree) on amnesty to 10 million people," Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., said at a news conference. "I am disappointed that apparently Mr. Frist has caved in to the desires of Democrats, to Kennedy," he added.
So when I first got to this base I’m now at I took a piece of wood and wrote “Number of missions without taking contact or getting blown up.” Every time I get back from a mission without incident I put another hash mark on the board. Every month of the year has also been written out with a big black X over the months we’ve been here. I’ve decided that when I do get blown up (around here it’s a question of when and how bad, not if) and have to replace the window of the Hummer, the replaced glass is going home with me. It’ll be my little war trophy. One guy in my platoon has a windshield in bubble wrap and cardboard that was shot up when he was driving a few months back. Another friend of mine kept the shrapnel that was pulled out of his body; you can bet that any bullets taken out of me are going on permanent display at Fort Living Room. [emphasis mine]
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he did not know what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was talking about when she said last week that the United States had made thousands of "tactical errors" in handling the war in Iraq, a statement she later said was meant figuratively.
Speaking during a radio interview on WDAY in Fargo, N.D., on Tuesday, Rumsfeld said calling changes in military tactics during the war "errors" reflects a lack of understanding of warfare. Rumsfeld defended his war plan for Iraq but added that such plans inevitably do not survive first contact with the enemy.
Senate Democrats pushed for a vote on a bipartisan immigration bill that would allow the illegal immigrants to remain in the country and become permanent residents after paying $2,000 fines and back taxes, learning English and working six years.
The White House repeated President Bush's call for a temporary worker plan as a way to identify the millions of illegal immigrants in the country. The administration said in a statement it wants a bill that does not create "an automatic path to citizenship."
Senate supporters of a guest worker program that would let illegal immigrants stay in the U.S. said yesterday they don't have enough votes to overcome objections from conservatives.I reluctantly side with McCain on this. And, if you haven't read about Anna and Roberto Salazar, here's why.
As negotiators worked on a compromise to let those who have been here the longest remain, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said a majority of the Senate supports a proposal backed by him and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) to provide green cards to illegal immigrants after they've worked in the U.S. for six years.
The Thai prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, today handed power to his deputy until a new government can be formed.
Chitchai Wannasathit will act as the country's caretaker prime minister following Mr Thaksin's resignation yesterday.
Bush said, "I'm satisfied with the people I've surrounded myself with. We've been a remarkably stable administration, and I think that's good for the country.
The more sexual content in television and magazines that teens are exposed to, the more likely they are to have sexual intercourse at an early age, a new study says.
The University of North Carolina study, published in today's issue of the journal Pediatrics, concludes that white adolescents who view more sexual content than their peers are 2.2 times more likely to have sexual intercourse by the time they are 14 to 16 years old.
"Some, especially those who have fewer alternative sources of sexual norms, such as parents or friends, may use the media as a kind of sexual superpeer that encourages them to be sexually active," the study authors state.
But, as both the authors and other critics note, the analysis has several important limitations. The survey of sexual behavior only included 1,017 teens in three public school districts in North Carolina, and did not take into account exposure to sexual content on the Internet.
Julia A. Ericksen, chair of the department of sociology at Temple University, said that it's not surprising that sexual content on television and in magazines might have an impact on teen behavior.
There's also a chicken-or-egg component to the issue, Ericksen says.
Iraq's resistance has replaced Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as political head of the rebels, the son of Osama bin Laden's mentor has said in Jordan.
Hudayf Azzam, 35, who claims close contacts with the fighters, said on Sunday: "The Iraqi resistance's high command asked Zarqawi to give up his political role and replaced him with an Iraqi, because of several mistakes he made.
"Zarqawi's role has been limited to military action. Zarqawi bowed to the orders two weeks ago and was replaced by Iraqi national Abdullah bin Rashed al-Baghdadi."
A motorist opened fire on a group of Hell's Angels motorcyclists along Interstate 95 on Sunday, killing one and injuring another, police said.
The bikers were traveling near West Haven around 3:30 p.m. when they were shot, said State Police spokesman Sgt. J. Paul Vance.
Police were considering a number of possible motives including road rage, and were searching for a sport utility vehicle with Florida license plates, Vance said.
When Anna Salazar was first dating her husband, Roberto, it didn't occur to her to ask his immigration status.
By the time the California native learned Roberto was an illegal immigrant, it didn't make a difference: She had met the love of her life. Now -- five years, a Valentine's Day wedding and two baby boys later -- they are facing Roberto's deportation to Mexico and a possible 10-year exile from the country where he has lived since he was 8.
If an immigration bill being protested across the country in recent weeks becomes law, Roberto, 30, also could be deemed an aggravated felon, sent to prison and then barred from the United States for life.
Simon asked Abu Jandal for his take on bin Laden's last audiotaped message. In January, bin Laden offered the Americans a truce. If Washington doesn't take him up on it, he said, there will be consequences.
"He made a similar proposal to the Europeans. He warned them and gave them six months," Abu Jandal says. "When there was no response, he started with the Madrid bombing, then London. So I believe Osama bin Laden is planning a new attack inside the United States. This is certain."
Asked if he is sure Osama is preparing a new attack, Abu Jandal said, "When Sheikh Osama promises something, he does it."
Abu Jandal hasn't seen bin Laden since the summer of 2000, but he says there is no question as to where he is hiding: Afghanistan.
Abu Jandal says America’s best chances to kill bin Laden came and went before 9/11. Paramount among them, August 1998, right after bin Laden bombed two U.S. embassies in East Africa. The al Qaeda leaders knew the Americans would retaliate, so they left their compound at Tarnak Farms and drove north.
"There was a fork in the road. One road leading to Khost and training camps, and another one leading to Kabul," Abu Jandal recalls. "I was with Sheikh Osama in the same vehicle with three guards, so he turned to us and said, 'What do you think? Khost or Kabul?' We told him, 'Let’s just visit Kabul.' So Sheikh Osama said, 'OK, Kabul.' "
Kabul it was. The next evening, 75 American cruise missiles slammed into the training camp near Khost, the road not taken. The CIA had intelligence that bin Laden was going to be at the training camp that night.
"Kinda makes you wonder whose side God's on, doesn't it?" Scheuer* says.
Iran said Sunday that it had test-fired what it described as a sonar-evading underwater missile just two days after it announced that it had fired a new missile that could carry multiple warheads and evade radar systems.
The new missile is among the world's fastest and can outpace an enemy warship, Gen. Ali Fadavi of the country's elite Revolutionary Guards told state television.
General Fadavi said only one other country, Russia, had a missile that moved underwater as fast as the Iranian one, which he said had a speed of about 225 miles per hour. State television showed what it described as the missile being fired.
Iran's military show of force follows increasing international pressure over its nuclear program. Last Wednesday, the United Nations Security Council urged Iran to suspend its uranium-enrichment activities and asked the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency to report on Iran's compliance within 30 days.
Iran has refused to comply. On Sunday, Iran's representative to the atomic energy agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, appearing on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer," said of the Security Council's action, "We express our regret for such a hasty decision because the wisest decision was no action."
An overwhelming majority of Americans think they can help reduce global warming and are willing to make the sacrifices that are needed, a new poll shows.
After years of controversy, 71 percent of Americans now say they think global warming is real, according to a telephone survey of 1,200 people for the advocacy group Environmental Defense.
Tony Blair personally frustrated measures to cut Britain's emissions of the pollution that causes global warming, despite repeatedly calling for action, it has been revealed.
The Prime Minister did not back proposals from his Environment Secretary, Margaret Beckett, that aimed to get the Government's strategy to fight climate change back on track.
Mr Blair told a climate change conference in New Zealand last week that failure to take action on global warming would be "absolutely disastrous".
He added: "I don't want it on the conscience of me, or my generation, that we were told what this problem was and did nothing about it."
During the month of August, President Bush held environmental photo ops in scenic locations across the country while his staff spent the month in Washington working to weaken environmental protections. This "say one thing, do another" approach may have worked earlier in his term to divert attention away from policies designed to benefit corporate interests, but even the best public relations can't compensate for an environmental record that's this bad. [emphasis mine]
As tensions increase between the United States and Iran, U.S. intelligence and terrorism experts say they believe Iran would respond to U.S. military strikes on its nuclear sites by deploying its intelligence operatives and Hezbollah teams to carry out terrorist attacks worldwide.
Iran would mount attacks against U.S. targets inside Iraq, where Iranian intelligence agents are already plentiful, predicted these experts. There is also a growing consensus that Iran's agents would target civilians in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, they said.
But terrorism experts considered Iranian-backed or controlled groups -- namely the country's Ministry of Intelligence and Security operatives, its Revolutionary Guards and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah -- to be better organized, trained and equipped than the al-Qaeda network that carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. [emphasis mine]
It wasn't a somber affair.
But Jeremy Martin, one of seven who died in the Capitol Hill shootings March 25, wasn't a somber guy.
At a memorial service Saturday in Mount Vernon, where he grew up, mourners paid tribute to Martin with everything from tuba solos to jokes about his hygiene in what one person dubbed the best funeral ever.
They say this in the spirit of Martin himself, a distributor for the wine company New Zealand Pure Ltd. who was perhaps best known for crashing parties dressed as a clown.
"You can be young once," Martin, 26, used to say. "But you can be immature for the rest of your life."
Suspected Taliban-linked militants set on fire 10 oil tankers carrying fuel to U.S. military base in south Afghanistan Saturday, a local official said Sunday.
"Taliban militants attacked a logistic convoy in Grishk district of Helmand province yesterday at noon and set ablaze 10 petrol tankers in Haiderabad area," acting district police chief Amanullah Khan told Xinhua.
Many Americans have become enamored of the European approach to immigration—perhaps without realizing it. Guest workers, penalties, sanctions and deportation are all a part of Europe's mode of dealing with immigrants. The results of this approach have been on display recently in France, where rioting migrant youths again burned cars last week. Across Europe one sees disaffected, alienated immigrants, ripe for radicalism. The immigrant communities deserve their fair share of blame for this, but there's a cycle at work. European societies exclude the immigrants, who become alienated and reject their societies. [emphasis mine]
One puzzle about post-9/11 America is that it has not had a subsequent terror attack—even a small backpack bomb in a movie theater—while there have been dozens in Europe. My own explanation is that American immigrant communities, even Arab and Muslim ones, are not very radicalized. (Even if such an attack does take place, the fact that four and a half years have gone by without one provides some proof of this contention.) Compared with every other country in the world, America does immigration superbly. Do we really want to junk that for the French approach?
The Pentagon has revealed that coalition forces are spending millions of dollars establishing at least six "enduring" bases in Iraq - raising the prospect that US and UK forces could be involved in a long-term deployment in the country. It said it assumed British troops would operate one of the bases.
Almost ever since President Bush claimed an end to "major combat operations" in Iraq on 1 May 2003, debate has focused on how quickly troops could be withdrawn. The US and British governments say troops will remain in Iraq "until the job is done". Yet while the withdrawal of a substantial number of troops remains an aim, it has become increasingly clear that the Pentagon and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) are preparing to retain some forces in Iraq for the longer term. The US currently has around 130,000 troops in Iraq; Britain has 8,000.
The [UK] Government is to hold secret talks with defence chiefs tomorrow to discuss possible military strikes against Iran. This via Echidne.
A high-level meeting will take place in the Ministry of Defence at which senior defence chiefs and government officials will consider the consequences of an attack on Iran.
It is believed that an American-led attack, designed to destroy Iran's ability to develop a nuclear bomb, is "inevitable" if Teheran's leaders fail to comply with United Nations demands to freeze their uranium enrichment programme.
ABC News suspended the executive producer of the weekend edition of "Good Morning America" yesterday over a pair of leaked e-mails in which he used inflammatory language to slam President Bush and Madeleine Albright.
John Green, whose unpaid suspension will last one month, apologized to the White House in a call to communications director Nicolle Wallace, while two ABC executives called the former secretary of state to apologize.
In one of the e-mails, written during the first presidential debate in 2004 and leaked to the Drudge Report, Green wrote to a colleague on his BlackBerry: "Are you watching this? Bush makes me sick. If he uses the 'mixed messages' line one more time, I'm going to puke." [emphasis mine]
The second leaked e-mail surfaced Thursday on the New York Post's gossipy Page Six. In that note, Green wrote that Albright should not be booked on the show because "Albright has Jew shame."